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January 06, 2004

BROOKS AND THE NEOCONS....OK, let's get this out of the way: I was mistaken to ever think that David Brooks was anything other than a hack. I could swear that I've read good stuff by him in the past, but I guess not. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

His column in the New York Times today is the latest offering in a developing conservative meme: neoconservatives, he says, don't really exist, they don't have any influence if they do exist, and "neocon" is just a codeword for "Jew" in any case. This argument is so deeply dishonest and morally offensive that it's hard to even know where to begin with it.

To start, of course neocons exist. Neoconservatism is a well-known and fairly ordinary political faction with a pedigree that goes back about 30-40 years. It's the neocons themselves who coined the term.

And yes, they have considerable influence on foreign policy. Paul Wolfowitz is the best known neocon in the adminstration, and the neocon gang at the Weekly Standard surely wouldn't bother producing their magazine if they didn't think influential people were reading it. George Bush's foreign policy is rather famously fractious, but even so it's pretty clear that neocon thought has enjoyed a renaissance since 9/11. This is hardly controversial.

And last year I got badly stomped for even suggesting that "neocon" and "Jew" might have any connection. They have nothing to do with each other, I was told in no uncertain terms.

So why would Brooks write this stuff? And why is the Wurlitzer being cranked up to pretend that "neocons" (complete with scare quotes) are little more than a figment of liberal imaginations? What's the agenda here?

I'm mystified. Neocons exist, they have a fair amount of influence in current political discourse, and it is not simply another word for "Jew." What's more, this is all out in the open, in the same way that you might say that "DLC Democrats" had some influence in the Clinton White House but are looking kind of ragged lately. Just the normal ups and downs of political factions.

It's pretty obvious that conservatives are nervous about any discussion of the neocon agenda and want to take it off the table by ridiculing it and pretending that it's just coded racism. Why? What are they afraid of?

UPDATE: Actually, it turns out that neocons didn't coin the term "neocon." Jonathan Adler, who interviewed Irving Kristol on this question for his senior essay at Yale, explains:

"Neoconservatism" was coined by Michael Harrington [in the 60s] to smear writers and social scientists, such as Kristol, Daniel Bell, James Wilson and others, who were critical of leftist orthodoxy. He sought to marginalize them within left-liberal intellectual and political circles. Some (Kristol) eventually embraced the term, while others (Bell) rejected it. Yet no neocon generated the label.

There you have it.

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 6, 2004 11:31 AM | TrackBack


Comments

Is this the Mighty Wurlitzer in action or just Brooks being lazy and recycling old crap?

Posted by: lefty skeptic at January 6, 2004 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Don't feel bad, Kevin. I've thought better of Brooks myself - have found him downright reasonable at times - but this latest by him has me dumbfounded.

Any explanation for Brooks constructing this somewhat creepy straw man? I can't think of one.

Posted by: delcyphr at January 6, 2004 11:37 AM | PERMALINK
It's pretty obvious that conservatives are nervous about any discussion of the neocon agenda and want to take it off the table by ridiculing it and pretending that it's just coded racism. Why?

The neo-conservatives and the rest of the conservative movement have historically differed a lot on important foreign policy areas. So they'd love the mainstream conservative base to think that attacks on them and there agenda are instead coded attacks on Jews and/or conservatives more broadly, and to ignore them out of hand without considering the substance, since it challenges their currently influential position in government power.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 6, 2004 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

dont worry calpundit, brooks appears sane on newshour with jim lehrer. he tends to defer to his counterpart (whose name escapes me) and isn't shrill. but in print he's completely nuts..

Posted by: bill at January 6, 2004 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Brooks is not saying that there is a no political faction called "neocons", rather that their influence is overstated - and in some sections of the Left to a degree bordering on paranoia.

Neither is he saying that neocon actually is code for Jewish, rather that for many who dislike this group, especially some on the Left, this is the case.

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2004 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Neither is he saying that neocon actually is code for Jewish, rather that for many who dislike this group, especially some on the Left, this is the case.

And he is a spokesman for what the Left is thinking,...how?

Posted by: chris at January 6, 2004 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

"There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office."

Silly me, for ever thinking that the until-recently chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board had "insidious power" over defense policy. I'm ashamed that I ever thought such a thing.

Posted by: Grumpy at January 6, 2004 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

This point dovetails into something I hope is related. In two articles I've seen the neocons attacked recently, one a speech by General Zinni, and the other an interview in Salon with John LeCarre. I could be way of mark, but I'm getting the feeling that the "neocon" term is being slowly pushed into the mainstream, something they don't really want, atleast with there current failures.

They don't have to convince everyone that the neocons don't exist, most folks still haven't heard the term, just the same people that have continued to buy their "Who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes" arguments.

Posted by: Joshua at January 6, 2004 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Daily Howler, http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh010604.shtml

has a good post on Brook's column today.

Posted by: Mike at January 6, 2004 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Neither is he saying that neocon actually is code for Jewish, rather that for many who dislike this group, especially some on the Left, this is the case.

I've seen exactly one case of a writer identifying "neoconservative" and "Jewish." That was Joseph Sobran, who wrote "Neoconservatism is essentially Kosher Conservatism." Note that there is no bother about "code words" - Sobran comes right out and tells you what he thinks. He also considers it something of a revelation: People say "neoconservative" and don't realize that the neoconservatives are all Jews!

That's one. Not on "the Left" either, but we'll let that go. But again, there's no "code" involved. And it has nothing to do with conjuring phantoms in other people's minds. ("I KNOW that SOME people are thinking 'Jew' when you're SAYING neocon!")

Posted by: Jim Henley at January 6, 2004 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

neil: "Neither is he saying that neocon actually is code for Jewish, rather that for many who dislike this group, especially some on the Left, this is the case."

If Brooks actually provided evidence or examples of "some on the Left" who feel this way, I didn't see it in his piece. Did you?

It's a straw man, and a pathetic one at that.

Posted by: delcyphr at January 6, 2004 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a meme cobbled together at one of Norquist's meetings. Personally, I've never seen anyone on the left make any implicit statement that 'neocon' is code for 'jew'. This may be an extension of the notion that anyone opposed to Israeli settlement policy is anti-semitic.

Posted by: Downunder at January 6, 2004 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Neil: You say Brooks isn't saying neocon is code for Jewish...did you actually read the article?

Because in the article, Brooks says this: In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish")...

Posted by: chris at January 6, 2004 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I'd call it 'manufacturing reality.' All master propagandists do it. Pretty interesting to me that our press does it for us so much, any more, rather than the government.

The reason seems obvious, to me: neocon thinking will be a liability come Nov 04. A lot of their grand plans for world domination have fizzled. This is the beginning of a push to make sure the general American public sees the word 'neocon' as something of the looney, tin-foil-hat Left. And thus, any criticism of neocon policy is just looney Leftism.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at January 6, 2004 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

1) The whole "neo is greek for Jewish" thing struck me as more of a joke than a real point. I agree that crying antisemitism, like crying racism, is almost never helpful.

2) Brook's real point is the whole demonization of the word "neocon." I don't have much sympathy. Like "liberal" in the 80s, "neocon" has been attached to a group of policies. Was Clinton a liberal? Is Bush a neocon? Is it bad to be one or the other? Silly questions, but predictable. The predictable responses to liberal/neocon/whatever-bashing is either (1) sputtering denials that the President is a liberal/neocon/whatever, or (2) angry disagreements about whether there is anything wrong with being a l/n/w.

Posted by: J Mann at January 6, 2004 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon guys, you're missing that wry, Brooksian humor:

"It's true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently."

And the debate SHOULD be whether Brooks is a lying jackass or a delusional tool.

Posted by: norbizness at January 6, 2004 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Examples of parts of the Left where neocon is code for Jewish - CounterPunch, Zmag, Indymedia.

You may consider these to be fringe but in the rest of the world people such as Chomsky and Michael Moore have a far higher profile, and hence represent the US "Left" more, than the centre left.

The notion that Jews control US foregn policy is widely believed.

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2004 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

It's pretty obvious that conservatives are nervous about any discussion of the neocon agenda and want to take it off the table by ridiculing it and pretending that it's just coded racism. Why? What are they afraid of?

Perhaps the neocons' fear is that the Democratic nominee will quote from the pre-war PNAC Papers -- e.g., "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein" [http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf] -- to prove that the WMD justification was a lie, and the neos, fearful of exposure and the attendent electoral fallout, are trying to get ahead of it.

Posted by: Irfo at January 6, 2004 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Any explanation for Brooks constructing this somewhat creepy straw man?"

Maybe a concern that an overt program of world conquest won't play well with the American electorate; therefore the neocon influence on the administration must be denied (until after the election)?

Posted by: rea at January 6, 2004 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of the most prominent critics of neoconservativism are jewish as well. Is "neocon critic" also code for "jew"?

Jews! Jews! They're all Jews!!!

Posted by: Realish at January 6, 2004 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

The fact of the matter is that in the Bush Administration, the neocons are beleaguered and desperate. They are seeking to defend themselves, and one of their lines of defense is the question of anti-semitism.

Don't be too quick to assume that this smear is directed at us. The big challenge to the neocons in the halls of power comes from the so-called realists (advocates of Kissingeresque statesmanship) and the officer corps.

It wasn't the libruls that got painted first with this brush in a big way, it was Anthony Zinni.

Posted by: Alan Bostick at January 6, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jews. Hmmm. Jews, jews, jews, jews...

Nope. Sorry, never heard of it. Is this some more of that hip-hop, bling-bling kind of talk the kids are using now?

(Hey, that took me all of fifteen seconds. Anybody know how much the NYT is paying for this stuff?)

Posted by: Jimmy Hotep at January 6, 2004 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

This neocon is just another word for Jew meme is not new nor original to Brooks, but rather odd.

There's some merit to the idea that "neocon" was coined to describe former Democrats who became Republican, mainly owing to defense issues, in the late 1960s and 1970s, (e.g., Irving Kristol, Norm Podhoretz) and thus is a strange term to use to describe those who have always been conservatives (e.g, Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz). But I'm not sure why they'd take offense at such a pedantic issue.

Posted by: James Joyner at January 6, 2004 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

So now we are told that Neocons are all Jewish. It reminds me of the days back in college when the American Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell came to my college to speak. It was of course wild with demonstrations and a circus like atmosphere. Rockwell proceeded to make his claim the the communists were all Jewish. After his speech he took written questions from the audience. The first question was, "Who are the jewish leaders in the communist Chinese movement?" The place went wild. Neoconservatives have been discredited and shown to be fools. They are lashing back in the same fashion as anyone in their situation would. The apparatchiks who speak in their defense are to be pitied.

Posted by: Stuart Shiffman at January 6, 2004 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

What's the agenda here? I'm mystified.

Oh, Kevin. Brooks, like virtually every conservative pundit and politician, plunges deeply into demagoguery on a regular basis. We are suffering through a New McCarthyism (witness Ed Gillespie's hay-making out of two rejected amateur videos for MoveOn's contest, versus the apparently perfectly acceptable comparisons of Dean to Hitler in the NY Post, and of the estate tax to the Holocaust by Norquist).

Brooks' agenda here would seem to be fairly simple:

1. Demonize your enemies by making them look like anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists.

2. Make your friends look good by portraying them as innocent bystanders (the neocons) or, in the case of Bush, a strong and pure and decisive leader.

What's so mystifying about all this? Facts don't matter to demagogues. Reality, integrity, civility. All have been out the window among this crowd for a while now.

Posted by: Dan Perreten at January 6, 2004 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT, but it's nice to see someone in big media has finally noticed Grover Norquist's comparison of the Estate Tax to the Holocaust. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57436-2004Jan5.html

(Only happened 3 or so months ago, but better late than never.)

Posted by: ted at January 6, 2004 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

So when we debate whether Bush and Cheney are neocons or not, we're really wondering whether they are Jewish?

I hope smarter people than me figure out how to respond to this kind of stuff. I am usually so dumbfounded I just sputter.

Posted by: Emma Anne at January 6, 2004 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Total bullshit.

It's all about distorting the debate, diverting attention and trying to silence critics. Propaganda 101.

To say Brooks should be ashamed is too generous. Nice to see him destroy his reputation so rapidly though.

Posted by: Tim B. at January 6, 2004 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean's wife is a filthy Jew!!!

Posted by: Republican Asshole at January 6, 2004 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed that he didn't cite a single source for his article. This would not fly with a high school Enlish teacher.

Posted by: Sullivan at January 6, 2004 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Since no one agreed with my beautiful point, I'll say it again.

The generalized use of "neocon" as a slur is as predictable (and as pointless) as the generalized use of "liberal" and "right-wing" as slurs over the last two decades.

Brooks is reacting the same way as liberals and right-wingers did, by denying that there's anything wrong with neocons and alternately denying that neocons exist, spiced up with an occasional charge of antisemitism.

The same thing happened when "liberal" was demonized (except then, liberal bashing was "code words for racism" instead of antisemitism) and when "right-wing" was demonized (in that case, right-wing bashing was "religious bigotry" rather than antisemitism)

Posted by: J Mann at January 6, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

This is an interesting test case, actually. Can the Wurlitzer just outright deny history that is clearly on the record, history that occurred in just the past decade? How blatantly can they deny obvious fact?

Can they convince us black is white when we're still in the same dark room with the lights off?

Posted by: Realish at January 6, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ever since glancing through a David Brooks article in the Atlantic some years ago about his beloved fictitious 'bobos', I've never thought him anything more than a George Will clone. Not as smart as the original either.

Posted by: David W. at January 6, 2004 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives regularly deny Bush's conservatism; he's really an environmentalist! He's a liberal! He's progressive! Look how liberal, progressive, and compassionate Bush is! See? Liberalism is good, when practiced by conservatives! They'll deny their own selves, to have four more years of steely-eyed rocket man.

Bush's supporters -- of whom Brooks is clearly and quite desperately one -- are absolutely terrified that the general populace will start to catch on to their several years of crap before it's too late to stage another election that's close enough to steal. They have now developed an automatic response to any and all truth-telling about the Bush experiment in leadership-without-ability. Lying, distorting and twisting have served them so well, one wonders if they could tell the truth if they had to.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm of two minds about this. Hope this doesn't devolve into flame wars, but here goes.

On the one hand, neoconservatism's history is intimately tied up with Norman Podhoretz's Commentary magazine, which, as you can see from the masthead, is most definitely a Jewish magazine. There are some other prominent Jewish neocons out there, such as the Kristols and Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and so forth.

Of course, there are plenty of prominent non-Jewish neoconsertives, such as Brooks and Bennett, but you can't ignore the history here. See Billmon for a useful if imperfect analysis.

It's unsurprising that Jews are proportionally over-represented in elite foreign policy and media circles. Jews are proportionally over-represented at Ivy League institutions--my freshman advisor at Yale was Rabbi Ponet, and he and discussed the reasons for this at length--and Ivy League institutions are proportionally over-represented in elite foreign policy circles, in part because of path dependence. The CIA, for instance, is still a Yale shop, and the official song of the OSS, the CIA's predecessor, was the Whiffenpoof Song. So it's no surprise that we'd see a lot of Jews in high places with respect to foreign policy.

On the other hand, it's clear that the world is so complicated and filled with so many competing players that there is no such thing as a "conspiracy."

In short, lots of neoconservatives are Jewish, and probably somewhat moreso than foreign policy elites are Jewish, but who really cares anyway?

Posted by: praktike at January 6, 2004 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

The generalized use of "neocon" as a slur

What about the generalized use of the term to mean "the foreign policy theorists who believed Chalabi and got us into Iraq"? Because that's mostly how I've seen it used. Is that okay? Or is there some equivalency game to be played with that, too?

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Examples of parts of the Left where neocon is code for Jewish - CounterPunch, Zmag, Indymedia.

Okay, we have a topic sentence. I assume the supporting paragraphs will be along shortly?

Posted by: Jim Henley at January 6, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

>Of course, there are plenty of prominent non-Jewish neoconsertives,
>such as Brooks and Bennett, but you can't ignore the history here.

David Brooks is Jewish.

Posted by: Dan the Man at January 6, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks is Jewish? If so, throw in Andy Sullivan.

Posted by: praktike at January 6, 2004 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

There is no the neocons

It's a flawed argument, where Kevin says, "Neoconservatism is a well-known and fairly ordinary political faction with a pedigree that goes back about 30-40 years. It's the neocons themselves who coined the term." These sentences conflate two separate meanings of the word.

The group who coined the term some decades ago called themselves "neocons"because they were conservatives who had once been liberal. However, most of today's so-called "neocons" never were liberal. Nor, do they call themselves neocons. Today, thhe word is usually used as a slur. Whether the slur is meant to be anti-semitic depends on who is using the term.

Posted by: David at January 6, 2004 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Since my wife put her foot down and told me to stop reading Brooks' columns, my blood pressure has gone way down and I've achieved a zen like calm.

And yes, this meme is all over the place. Max Boot in the upcoming Foreign Policy tries to minimize the influence of the neocons, as had Drezner on Strauss a few months ago.

Posted by: tristero at January 6, 2004 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Man, I wish I was a Jew. It sounds like a lot of fun. Controlling the world's financial system, duping the slow-witted President to help exterminate their enemies. All the action and the blame. And the diamonds, too. But is the food any good?

Posted by: gentile at January 6, 2004 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know why the neocons are controversial; I agree with their foreign polciy and think it is brilliant.

However, I do know that the Republicans are making a very serious play for Jewish voters and contributors. I have been reading National Review for a while now, and a couple of years ago there was a sharp increase in the number of "Democrats are anti-Israel!" columns in its pages. Dozens of conservative columnists suddenly took a keen interest in places like the Gaza Strip.

Brooks' article is simply the latest in a series designed to attract Jewish voters to the party.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 6, 2004 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Today, thhe word is usually used as a slur. Whether the slur is meant to be anti-semitic depends on who is using the term."

Hahah. So, when Boot calls a neocon a neocon he's being complimentary. But when I call a neocon a neocon, I'm an anti-semite. Sweet.

BTW, it was Shulksy, Feith and Perle who first called the neocons in the administration a "Cabal." They meant it as a joke. Some joke.

Posted by: tristero at January 6, 2004 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Today, thhe word is usually used as a slur.

Or maybe the think-skinned right just perceives it as a slur because the neocons' actual record is so poor that it's almost impossible to use the label in a positive light. The right wing calls even the mildest criticism of Bush's policies "hatred" and "unhinged anger", so it's really not far-fetched to suggest that they'd overreact in this case, too.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

The neo-cons are on the way out. In a month or two, Wolfiwitz will resign "to spend more time with the family." Others will get moved out of the Whitehouse and end up at invisible jobs in the Dept of Interior or Dept of Commerce.

The neo-cons took the country and the world (and the Bushies - though they'll never admit it) for a wild ride. Now it's the morning after and the Bushies want to get re-elected and they need to make the empty bottles lying about go away (and this damn hangover).

By next summer, Bush will be able to say with a straight face "what neo-cons? We don't have any neo-cons in my adminstration. Show me where."

Posted by: LB at January 6, 2004 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I do have to say that after reading this column, I had a little more sympathy for Krugman. Brooks commits several typically Krugmanesque sins here; the two obvious ones:

*He leaves out important qualifiers to his argument - you can make the entirely valid point about the abuse of the term, the frequent overstatement of the real neocons' influence and the heterogeneity of the group known as 'neocons' without coming off as if you are denying that such people exist or have influence.

*He blasts a generalized trend without citing any specific examples, although it's obvious that he has several examples, especially in the foreign press, in mind.

I wonder if part of the problem here is the Times' editing process and/or its space limitations; having read a good deal of his stuff on the Standard's site, I don't think these have been characteristic of Brooks' writing in the past. Another reason why the NYT's op-ed page will continue to suck.

Posted by: Crank at January 6, 2004 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks' article is simply the latest in a series designed to attract Jewish voters to the party.

Sure hope Cal Thomas' article wasn't part of the same series. I don't think Brooks is doing a good job, anyway. "Democrats are bad for Israel" might gain some traction, but I speculate that most Jews are too smart to fall for "Democrats are really anti-Semites."

Posted by: Matt Weiner at January 6, 2004 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks' article is simply the latest in a series designed to attract Jewish voters to the party.

So Brooks' column is an advertisement, and should be treated as such. It's not a serious piece of analysis, but merely a soft pillow of fluffy marketing cotton candy. Hey, you over there, media-controlling Semitic cabal! Join forces with the good-old-boy network, and together we'll rule the world! I like that, it makes about as much sense as anything else I've heard; and like most good conspiracy theories, it explains a lot, as in this case, why Brooks is so singularly hackish.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks is not presenting a strawman arguemnt. Try this:

http://www.progressivehumanism.com/neocons.html

'"Neocon" is a new term, It refers to a group of highly placed individuals who are responsible for our present war in Iraq and, more generally, for the unilateralism that has dominated the foreign adventures of the Bush administration. The neocons are strong in the upper reaches of the Defense Department and the White House.'

and

'Sharon's long-term view, judging from his actions and also from some early statements, involves a triumphant Israel with expanded frontiers, dominating the neighborhood through satraps. I would suggest that the neocons are using their present strong position to maneuver the USA into all-out, uncritical support for just this kind of outcome. It simply will not do. Israel isn't worth it. We have to live with the rest of the world too.'

This sort of thing has appeared all around the world.

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2004 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Is believing that the Jews are all going to burn in hell if they don't convert to Christianity, anti-Semitism or anti-Neoconism? I am confused.

--Self-hating secularist.

Posted by: epistemology at January 6, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm skipping down to the bottom to say that "neo-con" isn't code for jews that is nefariously used by some far left cabal. Its not "code" at all. "Hollywood liberals" is code for "bad people with no morals who give money to liberal politicians." "Latte drinking sushi eaters" is code for "even worse people who vote for howard dean." You don't need a code to refer to a specific group of people, clearly recognizable by their writings, who self identify by that name. Its not "code" to call Bush supporters "bush supporters." Its not code to call the neo-cons neo-cons.

Now, talking about them and studying or alluding to their political ideas, which they've written about extensively, is also not off the table--regardless of their religion (or the religion of some of their affiliates).

I think the whole thing is an attempt by the bush administration to call a halt to any scrutiny of the neo-con "remake the middle east" map because they don't want their own supporters to realize how captive bush's foreign policy has been to the well exposed interests of this rather small group. If it had all gone according to plan there would have been no problem with acknowledging the importance of this group. But its all crashing down and the neo-cons are like gamblers who keep hoping to make it all back by double staking every time they lose. Bush doesn't want to be caught looking like a patsy for them.

aimai

Posted by: aimai at January 6, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

What are they afraid of?

Everything.

Fear is the great motivator of conservative thought. And, as Muad'Dib would tell you, "fear is the mindkiller".

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at January 6, 2004 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ha ha, Crank, so Brooks doesn't have to take any credit or blame for his writing. It's all the SCLM's fault that he sucks. Good excuse.

the frequent overstatement of the real neocons' influence

Right, as when people note that Richard Perle was chair of the Defense Policy Board and remains on it despite ethical improprieties that would have doomed him in a real presidential administration; when they refer to Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of State John Bolton; and of course, Vice President Dick Cheney. Also, when people notice that Bush's speeches justifying the invasion of Iraq are heavily influenced by neocon theorizin' that Bush himself surely didn't write; or when they trace the rationale for invasion, as stated by the Administration on those rare occassions when it's honest about its intentions, back to documents written by neocons, expressing neocon thought, and publicly available for everyone, including yourself, believe it or not, to read.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 01:00 PM | PERMALINK

This sort of thing has appeared all around the world.

What sort of thing? Writing about how neocons are members of the Bush administration? Writing about neocon support for Israel? What's your point?

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

Demetrios wrote: "the neocons' actual record is so poor that it's almost impossible to use the label in a positive light."

This quote tells us something about Demetrios. It seems pretty clear that s/he is not an Afghan woman now permitted to be educated. Nor is s/he an Iraqi who was saved from Saddam's torture chambers and plastic shredders.

However, it's hard to understand how Demetrios could be unconcerned about the nuclear weapons that Libya might have developed, had the US not followed a muscular, "neo-conservative" foreign policy.

Posted by: David at January 6, 2004 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

torture chambers? you must be speaking of those maniacal rape rooms!

Posted by: nova silverpill at January 6, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

You are right, David, demetrios is probably not an afghan woman who is now allowed to be educated or, at least, not an afghan woman anywhere outside of Kabul because those women have yet to be liberated. Perhaps Demetrios is a north korean woman or man waiting to be liberated from the current despot by our "muscular" foreign policy which consists of, what? bribing them?? failing to sucessfully bully them? Or perhaps he's from taiwan and is waiting for the other shoe to drop before we turn him over to china full time? Maybe he's an iraqi freed from the torture chambers but waiting to find out if they ever get their own government before every last asset in the country is sold off?

As a liberal, I would have welcomed a muscular, liberal-faith-based, interventionist foreign policy. I just wanted it to be run by competent, non-partisan, non-corporate shills who cared more about equipping our soldiers properly than laundering campaign money (or raking in the profits for trireme partners etc...).

aimai

Posted by: aimai at January 6, 2004 01:11 PM | PERMALINK

Self hating secularist:

Having just returned from a brush with the religious nuts over at michael totten's board (the discussion of Cal thomas's article on dean and jesus) I think the correct etiquette for discussing damnation is that whether you believe it of a neo-con, a jew, or any other christian or non-christian,

believing they are going to hell is
*always* just a matter of personal opinion. Its perfectly ok to express this opinion in polite company and people who get offended are just touchy.

Posted by: aimai at January 6, 2004 01:15 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, there's a lot of things going on in this column, and it's gotten a very good working over in many places. Read the whole thing closely. It does in fact imply ever so subtly that critics of the Neocons are Anti-Semetic. There are four references to Jews or Anti-Semetism along with the little bit about how putting a label on a group robs them of their humanity. And of course it writes off any influence the Neocons had in the Iraq project as conspiracy theory by "full-mooners", oh and how Wes Clark (surprised he didn't go after Dean again) can't go a week without talking about it. My favorite, pointed out by Josh Marshall, is how one day, and I'm paraphrasing, he's reading about how the Neocon Conspiracy is going after Syria next and the next he's reading about Dick Cheney hunting humans.

David "Babbling" Brooks = Propaganda Tool.

Posted by: Chibi at January 6, 2004 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

But is the food any good?

The food is good too. Try a kreplach soup or a reuben at a good deli. Kishka can be tasty too, and man do I dig a chocolate egg cream. The baking can be a little dry. A Jewish friend once told me I was an honorary Jew because I liked the food so much and was a wiseass. That was a good compliment.

Also went to a funeral service for friend at a temple. The Rabbi gave the best, most humane eulogy for my fallen friend that I could have imagined. So honest, heartfelt, anguished and full of integrity.

Lastly, Brooks is just an idiot hoping to fool some Jews into voting GOP. Oy vey.

Posted by: Tim B. at January 6, 2004 01:26 PM | PERMALINK

aimai, thanks, and I agree with you about a "muscular liberal-faith-based, interventionist foreign policy." Wasn't it Josh Marshall who recently asked, do we really trust the most illiberal people in our society to run a liberal policy?

David, if the neocons' record is a thing to be celebrated, why are Brooks and the rest of the Bush protection detail trying to run from it? Also, fwiw, I'm an American citizen with a young child who will be footing the bill for your heroes' political hubris.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 01:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Neocon" has only been a term of derision for about three months, after their crown jewel turned out to be -- to the surprise of only people who don't read -- a sack of shit. That was also the beginning of the defensiveness.

The funny thing about all this concern about the bigoted use of codewords is that two years ago you'd be hard pressed to find a conservative who would admit to the very existence of anything like "codewords." When Ronald Reagan campaigned in the south in 1976 and in 1980 talking about state's rights, well, gosh, he was only talking about the federal-mandated speed limit!/sarcasm>

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar at January 6, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Women in Afghanistan are probably not better off post 9/11 if they live outside Kabul. Read up about the warlords and resurgent Taliban.

Women in Iraq are suffering different oppression now, but they're not necessarily better off. Now instead of Baathist thugs to worry about, there are criminals and fundamentalists making sure their lives are reduced to the status of, well, Afghani women.

Posted by: Librul at January 6, 2004 01:40 PM | PERMALINK

>Examples of parts of the Left where neocon is code for Jewish - CounterPunch, Zmag, Indymedia
could you or any one who holds this view please elaborate.
peace

Posted by: ed at January 6, 2004 01:44 PM | PERMALINK

"It does in fact imply ever so subtly that critics of the Neocons are Anti-Semetic. There are four references to Jews or Anti-Semetism along with the little bit about how putting a label on a group robs them of their humanity."

I have often wondered whether there is much dissension within the white house, or within the Repub party between the Christian Right and the Jewish Neo-Cons. Hard to picture Perle and Falwell together. Could this column in part be for internal consumption?

Posted by: bob mcmanus at January 6, 2004 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

Another point:

The war in Afghanistan was not a neoconservative endeavor, but one consistent with the values of the entire mainstream. I see no reason why this hypothetical Afghan woman should be thanking neoconservatives.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar at January 6, 2004 01:49 PM | PERMALINK

Thought Exercise: You are Bill Keller. You have to get rid of David Brooks without disturbing the dragons that protect him. How do you do it?

Posted by: Wren at January 6, 2004 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

As a person of Jewish heritage who has nothing but contempt for the neocons, I can only conclude that those who disagree with me are objectively anti-semitic.

Posted by: tristero at January 6, 2004 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Wren:

Live boy?

Dead girl?

Well, Safire still writes for the NYT, as do Krauthammer and Will for the WaPo. It's tenure for ethics- and truth-free right-wing blowhards. You'll pry their weekly 750 from their cold, dead hands.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 01:58 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Andrew Sullivan got shitcanned from the NYT, so sometimes at least a conservative commentator gets the boot.

Posted by: David W. at January 6, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone remembers, I said it months ago: Once the neocon "foreign policy" starts to unravel, the anti semite defense will be most prevelant.

My bet is that it will be conservatives calling for the ouster of the neocons from positions of influence in the administration. When was the last time this administration took any advice from the liberal left with regard to foreign policy?

Posted by: Nanute at January 6, 2004 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks basic point is that arguing with labels is bad, it demonizes and polarizes. That is controversial? Only if you really beleive in a Neocon Cabal. Kevin, criticize the "agenda" you do not need a false label.

Posted by: Steve Malynn at January 6, 2004 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

The war in Afghanistan was not a neoconservative endeavor, but one consistent with the values of the entire mainstream. I see no reason why this hypothetical Afghan woman should be thanking neoconservatives.

"Nader would have f*cking bombed Afghanistan...What did we expect [Bush] was gonna do? The planes hit and he's gonna hole up in a Motel 8 with a bottle of Jack, just crying in a corner?" - David Cross

Posted by: apostropher at January 6, 2004 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is a good illustration of the type of tactics that the "conservatives" of our day use. They really can't engage in civil discourse. When I was a Republican (NOTE: always a very moderate one -- Democrat now) I noticed how, when it gets down too it, conservatives simply can't deploy or articulate a decent argument.

I've always found that it's easy to win arguments with them once you get down to brass tacks and start looking at the facts. Their general strategy is to deny, obfuscate and question the source of information. Sow doubt about the facts and the motives of the people questioning their position. A slow and steady slog always gets them though.

They do things like Brooks has done today in order to try and shut down debate before it begins. Why? They know deep down that they can't win the argument. But they understand that most people can appreciate a good line of reasoning. Essentially, they count on people's ignorance and prejudices to win the day. I've noticed this in relation to my own very Republican, but poorly informed family.

This is why I've become convinced that we'll win in the end. Society advances in democratic systems. It takes time, but people learn from their experiences, and this'll happen with the public vis-a-vis the Republicans.

The Skeptical Inquirer had a fairly detailed article in the last issue or so about why it's so frustrating to discuss anything related to pseudo-scientific beliefs with most people. I bring this up because the article pointed out what I mentioned above: most people, regardless of educational level, can grasp the hallmarks of good argumentation.

When you're on the bad end of an argument, you get articles like Brooks wrote.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett at January 6, 2004 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wrt Counterpunch at least, this is easily disproven by searching their archives. They often write about the extent to which neoconservative foreign policy is based on hard-line support of Israel, but that is hardly conspiracy theorizing, it's part of the openly stated premises of self-described neocons. Alexander Cockburn, Edward Said, et al. have never, to my knowledge, used the terms "Jewish" and "Zionist" interchangeably. The latter is a political movement that is currently the darling of the Christian right wing while claiming, not convincingly, to be the sole defender and representative of an entire religious and ethnic tradition. If you believe that the Jewish people(s) cannot be distinct from the current government policies of Israel then statements like Brooks's have a kind of logic. It's an old game, and Cockburn is at his best when dissecting it, though I disagree with him on other important things.

Posted by: Eli at January 6, 2004 02:11 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks' hackdom is due less to any personal character traits and more to the untenable position any conservative pundit has in analyzing the past three years. With Iraq, what is Brooks supposed to admit--that a discredited plan and data were given priority over the objections of most any who knew what was going on, and that the war was sold to the public at large as a way of preventing another 9/11?

Posted by: Thomas at January 6, 2004 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

This "neocon is code for Jew" trick of the right-wingers isn't brand new. I posted a comment on Jane Galt's blog a couple of months ago to the effect that given their dreams of hegemony I would expect even the most callous neocon to give some thought to armed forces recruitment and retention, which might pose a problem for their plans in the aftermath of the Iraq war. In response I got a lot of "just what do you mean by neocon, hmmm...?", clearly trying to insinuate that I was using the word as a cover for my real meaning.

Posted by: Orbitron at January 6, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Brooks is more concerned with protecting the Bush policy toward Israel than diverting attention from problems in Iraq. Whether the guys in PNAC etcetera are Jewish, Martian, or Girl Scouts, they have been acting on explicit plans to remodel the "Middle East" in order to separate the Palestinian/Israeli standoff from the politics of the region. The recent sanctioning of Syria, for instance, would say to the world that the plan is on schedule and that the sources of evil are on their heels.
But Bush has given himself a waiver of those sanctions as a bargaining tool because he is coming up to some real limits to how far he can push the status quo before the operation in Iraq is pushed out of his control. In consequence, the brave new world that would allow Bush to orchestrate a meaningful breakthrough in the Israel/Palestine conflict will have to wait. It turns out that all this influence gained by the invasion doesn't put us where the navigators said it would. This is miscalculation will become increasingly obvious as the year goes along. Brooks is sowing the seeds of the discussion that will prohibit this fact from being discussed in any but the most simple categories.

Posted by: Bag at January 6, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it is that neoconservatism exists, but only as a political landmark/viewpoint even though there are few neocons who truly influence current politics?

Posted by: bj at January 6, 2004 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

conservatives are nervous about any discussion of the neocon agenda and want to take it off the table

Huh? Who is nervous about the neocon agenda? Calpundit is a hack.

Posted by: Enkidu at January 6, 2004 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

I just ran across a copy Time magazine, dated June 06, 1994. A photo Genereal Dwight Eisenhower adorns the cover, and the cover reads, 'The Man Who Beat Hitler'.

The D-Day articles found therein include one that chronicles contemporary fascist movements. A fascinating quote is found on page 51. Gianfranco Fini, of the Italian National Alliance Party, says, "What is a fascist? If we were in the U.S., we'd be called Republicans. In France we'd be Gaullists".

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at January 6, 2004 02:22 PM | PERMALINK

To properly place Brooks' comments one would have to deal with the REAL resurgence of antisemitism (lightly disguised as paleoconservative rejection of the neos) as it can be read these days in such locations as Buchanan's American Conservative and Fleming's Chronicles.

Posted by: milt rosenberg at January 6, 2004 02:25 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he is afraid "neocon" will be the new "liberal."

Posted by: Tripp at January 6, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, by suggesting that the DLC Democrats have waned in influence, you are committing the worst sort of regionalist bigotry against southerners. What's more, since the DLC is almost entirely composed of lilly white people, you're flirting with racism.

Posted by: phil at January 6, 2004 02:38 PM | PERMALINK
Perhaps it is that neoconservatism exists, but only as a political landmark/viewpoint even though there are few neocons who truly influence current politics?

A challenge to anyone who believes that this is the case:

Check out the Project for a New American Century. Explain how their philosophy differs from Neoconservativism or explain how little influence the people that have been involved in this groups efforts, like Dick Cheney to name just one, have on current US politics.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 6, 2004 02:39 PM | PERMALINK

I can honestly say that I was ahead of the curve on despising David Brooks....

Posted by: Katherine at January 6, 2004 02:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is is so easy to deflect... since when are Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, and Gary Bauer Jews?

And a "neocon" is anybody who subscribes to the foreign policy ideology espoused by PNAC.

Sheesh.

Posted by: AngryElephant at January 6, 2004 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! I take the irrational reactions to Brooks as confirmation of his assertions: Jew hatred, masquerading as criticism of "neo-Cons". Scream all you want folks, he's got your number! You, Pat Buchanan and Wesley Clark: those evil neo-Cons have taken mind control of Pres. Bush. Next thing you know the Jews will insist that Israel has a right to exist.

Posted by: Stephen at January 6, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Don't know why the neocons are controversial; I agree with their foreign polciy and think it is brilliant."

Let's see... so far we have taken over 500 dead, 2,000 + wounded, 7,000 dead on the Iraqi side, spent $150,000,000,000, gotten ourselves in a quagmire, and done nothing to make ourselves more secure from terrorism or punish anyone for the attack of 9-11 nor make the region peaceful. Yup, I'd call that brilliant if I were plotting against America.

Posted by: Mike at January 6, 2004 02:54 PM | PERMALINK

Neocons used to be proud of being Neocons. But, now that they have so demonstrably screwed up the country by plunging us into endless unnecessary war, alienating us from the rest of the world and backrupting the country it doesn't seem like such a great thing to be. Sort of like Fascists, and Nazis, which seemed like a great things to be on the way up, but didn't quite stand the test of time.

I say, don't let them shed there proud moniker. They made up the term. They pursued the policy. They earned it and they deserve it. Let's insure "Neocon" gets its rightful place in history. There is an election coming up and the Neocon label can help the American people understand who got them into this mess.

Brothers and sisters we've been Neoconned. Warmongering Neocons have taken us for a preemptive strike ride into a perpetual conflict of civilizations. Empire mad Neocons have bankrupted the nation.

Bush is a Texas Mad Cow Neocon Idiot!

Cheney is an Oil Soaked Neocon Empire Builder

Rummy and Wolfowitz are Demented Neocon War Criminals

Neocon, Neocon, Neocon. . .

Posted by: Mediafreeze at January 6, 2004 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Dan Perretan. Demonize your enemies, make your friends look good, and make it appear as though Bush is a mighty leader and above the fray. Simply Republican standard operating procedure.

Posted by: pol at January 6, 2004 03:02 PM | PERMALINK

Remeber they are Straussians. So its not only ok to lie to the masses, but its a good thing. So neocons don't exist and anyone who thinks they do so is an anti-semite. Sure its completely false, but if it fools some people, and this thread shows it has, well than the lie is the right thing to do. After all those people who believe the lie can't handle the truth anyway.

Posted by: Rob at January 6, 2004 03:11 PM | PERMALINK

I've got to say, I do wonder if calling all criticism of neocons to be anti-semitic might not backfire, in a particularly pernicious way.

Namely, if one identifies all neocons as Jews (as Brooks implicitly does), and it seems that neocons really DO rule the roost in today's WH, which is hard to dispute, doesn't it make it seem as if it really IS the Jews who are running the world for their own purposes? The public has, by now, long dismissed the notion that Jews have a dominating influence on our governing, in no small part because Jews have not been exclusively or peculiarly identified with any political or ideological point of view, and have been perceived as seamlessly assimilated into the power structure. Implicitly claiming that all neocons are Jews engenders the exact opposite impression.

Is this latest conservative argument likely to foster some very old prejudices against Jews at the very time it is supposedly decrying those prejudices?

Posted by: frankly0 at January 6, 2004 03:14 PM | PERMALINK

I find all of this rather unhinged. Nowhere did Brooks deny the existance of neocons, as Kevin alleges. Brooks merely pointed out that their influence is exaggerated. He also pointed out that there is an element out there that does believe that Bush is at the mercy of a Jewish cabal. This is all actually happening - look at the Arab media.

Another argument that Brooks makes is that the new infromation technologies have not necesaarily made political debate healthier - rather it has generated isolated ghettos of hostile opinion. An intetesting observation and looking at the divisivness of the bloggosphere maybe has some truth.

Posted by: neiln at January 6, 2004 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 - Good point. This is so screwed up that it's sure to backfire along the lines you lay out. The good news is that if they keep this up, the neoconners and conservatives in general will find themselves in about five years not being believed by anyone left, right or center. Or at least by enough people to matter at the polls.

What baffles me about these people is that they don't seem to understand how important it is to retain credibility. These constant shrill and stupid arguments simply won't play over time, and once a strong whiff of skepticism towards them enters the minds of the people they may find themselves climbing up some pretty steep electoral hills come election time.

That's why I've come to believe that this so-called Republican majority will turn out to be somewhat ethereal over time.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett at January 6, 2004 03:39 PM | PERMALINK

David Brroks is a Republican hack. A whore... he gets PAID to write the latest Rove talking points.

And David Brooks is a neocon. Putting the con in conservative. Putting the ass in compassionate.

Posted by: Jay R. - Oregon at January 6, 2004 03:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jayson Blair reincarnated? Holy shit doesn't the NYT learn that hacks are detrimental to their bottom line...?

Posted by: pichiflay at January 6, 2004 04:11 PM | PERMALINK

there is an element out there that does believe that Bush is at the mercy of a Jewish cabal

Maybe so. But does anyone who criticizes Bush's foreign policy belong in this group? Because, really, that's the connection that Brooks hopes to create.

Another argument that Brooks makes is that the new infromation technologies have not necesaarily made political debate healthier

Yes, of course Brooks, as an elite who obviously treasures his privileged position on the NYT editorial page, thinks that. Now you can get on the Internet and find people from all over the world who take issue with -- and are even offended by -- his petty, half-baked bullshit. What bigger threat to career pompous blowhards could there be?

isolated ghettos of hostile opinion

Hostile to whom? That's an important question. Is "isolated ghettos of hostile opinion" what you and Brooks call dissent?

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 04:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg nails it:

But [neocon] is very often a word for Jew. That is certainly how Pat Buchanan often uses it. It is also how the Arab press uses it. And the French press. And often the BBC. And Chris Matthews. And the increasing Jew-obsessed Michael Lind. And piles of average American leftists who think these sources are authoritative.

Posted by: Enkidu at January 6, 2004 04:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hum. I could call the neocon movement a lot of things. Academics with Attitude. Suburban Supremecists. GenerationXenophobe.
But I didn't really give much thought to Brooks' Straw Man Conspiracy until he propped it up and toppled it. Should I be feeling as guilty as he?

Posted by: Scot at January 6, 2004 04:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg nails it:

Hahahahahaha. Jonah Goldberg doesn't know one end of a hammer from the other.

It is also how the Arab press uses it... And often the BBC.

A search for 'neocon' on the BBC website comes up with what Jonah would say means: 'Is Blair a [Jew]?'; other references to 'neo-conservatives' refer only to 'radical Republicans' (here) and primarily link neocon doctrine to think-tanks such as PNAC and the AEI. And talk of necons 'like Donald Rumsfeld'.

Not a 'Jew' in sight.

Sorry, Jonah. Go back to Mummy.

As many on the left have pointed out, saying that 'neocon' sometimes equals 'Jew' is rather like those Jewish groups who say that when David Icke talks of '20-foot tall reptillian shapeshifters' who rule the planet, he means 'Jews'. Except that Icke really does appear to be referring to 20-foot tall reptillian shapeshifters.

Posted by: ahem at January 6, 2004 04:33 PM | PERMALINK


test

Posted by: chibi at January 6, 2004 04:35 PM | PERMALINK

I find it disconcerting the amount of venom one gets from liberals such as Demetrios for stating ones opinion.

I merely pointed out an apsect of what Brooks said had been overlooked and suggested there MAYBE some merit in it.

What Brooks said actually applied across the politcal spectrum:

"And if you can give your foes a collective name ? liberals, fundamentalists or neocons ? you can rob them of their individual humanity."

I was not necessarily agreeing entirely with this line of reasoning, just suggesting that it was worth consideration.

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2004 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

youre all daft. neo means jew. with very few exceptions. see you in november.

Posted by: you're toast at January 6, 2004 04:50 PM | PERMALINK

take a look at pat buchanan's american conservative mag. accessible thru drudge.

to pat and the others on that rag, neo doesn't mean jew.

it means f'ing jew.

Posted by: you're toast at January 6, 2004 04:51 PM | PERMALINK

anyone who thinks the arab press and bbc aren't stridently anti semitic need a good colonoskopy.

gratis.

by the by, your frustrations are like soothing music to decent people.

the iraq war's turning around bad situations in iran, libya, NK. women in afghanistan gaining human rights, but who gives a crap, right?

I suppose appeasing and sucking more ass (your specialties) would have gotten it done too.

Posted by: you're toast at January 6, 2004 04:55 PM | PERMALINK


Brooks may be giving cover so the Christian Elite can blame the Jews if something goes wrong by assigning the blame to the Neocon, that is Jewish, agenda.

Posted by: mediafreeze at January 6, 2004 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

And if you can give your foes a collective name ? liberals, fundamentalists or neocons ? you can rob them of their individual humanity.

neil, it's a nice sentiment. Too little, too late, though. Remember how for going on 20 years now Republicans have worked extree-hard to make "liberal" the dirtiest word in the language? Remember how supporters of the pro-business Clinton and Gore were vilified and sneered at as "socialists" and "communists"? Of course you don't. I do, and I've got the tire tracks all across my back to prove it.

Now Brooks takes it all back, and thinks it'd be peachy-keen if everyone worked to recognize their opponents' humanity. Even while Tom DeLay remains House Majority Leader! Sorry, Republicans, you don't get both Tom DeLay and "we take it all back". Actually, you don't get "we take it all back" and George W. "My Brother Purged the Florida Voter Rolls And I Destroyed Post-9/11 Bipartisanship By Accusing The Democrats Of Not Caring About The Country" Bush, either.

Further, classifying like-thinking politicoes together is part of how we do this "debate" thing. No one on the left is using "neocon" in nearly the same putrid, offensive manner that the GOP has used "liberal", ie, to mean "evil" or "un-American". It's almost exclusively used to refer to a bent of policy thought. Brooks' suggestion of anything else is just RNC tactics; you see that don't you?

Finally, I responded to your comments by actually addressing their substance, rather than whining about your "venom". You did not respond to mine in a like manner. But I hurt your feelings by calling Brooks a "pompous blowhard". Sorry, bud, I hate to be the one to tell you, but Brooks is a pompous blowhard.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 05:30 PM | PERMALINK

Demetrios - I actually did respond to the substance of your reply.

You asked 'Is "isolated ghettos of hostile opinion" what you and Brooks call dissent?' and I replied to your question - that it did not - Brooks was applying it across the spectrum.

But you also make the mistake of conflating my opinions with those of Brooks. I am mereley discussing what he has said.

As for venom - your words speak for themselves "petty, half-baked bullshit". Which you now augment with sarcasim: "But I hurt your feelings..".

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2004 05:51 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Kevin.

Posted by: von at January 6, 2004 05:53 PM | PERMALINK

"by the by, your frustrations are like soothing music to decent people." Heh heh. So true.

Posted by: Bruce at January 6, 2004 06:03 PM | PERMALINK

It is also true that a large and diverse group were involved with the movement in the 70's, including non-Jews like Henry Jackson, Jean Kirkpatrick, and Sam Nunn. It is really a smear on Brooks' part to impute anti-Semitism to someone who objects to the real problem with the movement; namely, that its fraudulent and exaggerated warnings about alleged threats to the US have lead to a number of disastrous policy decisions, as in Iraq.

Posted by: BobNJ at January 6, 2004 06:06 PM | PERMALINK

Tony Shifflett -- I, too, read the Skeptical Inquirer, even though my political movement was the opposite of yours, i.e., from Dem to Rep. I disagree about Brooks's article not being civil discourse. He claims that certain liberals are slandering certain conservatives by using the term neocon. Even if Brooks were wrong, that's not an uncivil thing to say. Neither is it uncivil for a Democrat to decry the use of the word "liberal" as a slur.

I prefer to debate policy matters. Brooks's defence of people from the "neocon" label adds nothing to a knowledge of policy. But, people who call Paul Wolfowitz a "neocon" aren't engaging in policy discussion, either. Brooks is simply clearing away the underbrush, in order that a policy debate can occur.

Posted by: David at January 6, 2004 06:27 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks David. That sound reasonable.

And the next time I engage a conservative in a discussion of affirmative action and they dismiss me as a member of the "librul elite that is destroying this country" (in that tone I assume you are familiar with) then I am free to call them an anti-intellectual racist know nothing. This can be legitimately be followed with bellows of "racist, racist, racist!" in case they weren't listening.

Having merely "cleared away the underbrush" as it were, I presume a reasoned discussion on the policy issue at hand will follow.

Posted by: bobbyp at January 6, 2004 06:47 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, only one use of the word "quagmire." I thought this would be more amusing...

Posted by: Jerry at January 6, 2004 06:53 PM | PERMALINK


2. Neocon Quagmire

Posted by: Mediafreeze at January 6, 2004 07:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hello? How about dictionary.com?

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=neoconservative

1 entry found for neoconservative.
ne?o?con?ser?va?tism also ne?o-con?ser?va?tism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (n-kn-s?rv-tzm)
n.
An intellectual and political movement in favor of political, economic, and social conservatism that arose in opposition to the perceived liberalism of the 1960s: ?The neo-conservatism of the 1980s is a replay of the New Conservatism of the 1950s, which was itself a replay of the New Era philosophy of the 1920s? (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
neo?con?serva?tive adj. & n.

Notice the attribution. i.e. Schlesigner....

Posted by: Mike at January 6, 2004 07:04 PM | PERMALINK

Before condemning Brooks for creating a straw man argument it mat pay to read this article by left-leaning Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,950536,00.html

In it he criticizes the prominent British Labor MP Tom Dalyell for exactly the things that many in this forum deny happen:

"Tam Dalyell's belief that a 'cabal' of neoconservative Jews controls Bush is gaining currency in liberal circles"

Posted by: neil at January 6, 2004 07:04 PM | PERMALINK

David Brooks is filling the void that Mark Russell used to have in the political arena. Really, some of the most savage parodies of neoconservative thinking I've ever read.

Posted by: Bobo at January 6, 2004 07:30 PM | PERMALINK

if Rush can use "liberal" to mean something like "someone who's one Party meeting shy of a card-carrying Communist traitor", i can use "neo-con" to mean "someone who advocates the kinds of foreign policies that we're seeing out of Wolfowitz et al".

why let the right define the terms normal people can use in discussions ?

Posted by: ChrisL at January 6, 2004 07:33 PM | PERMALINK

Why is David Brooks denying the existence of neocons and their influence on Bush's foreign policy? Simple: Richard Perle and David "Axis of Evil" Frum just came out with the definitive neocon manifesto An End to Evil, and it's pretty scary. Brooks is simply running interference for the White House to disassociate themselves from Perle. They don't want Americans to think the Bush-Cheney 04 slogan is "Four More Wars!" The problem isn't that Perle is off the reservation, it's that he's going public with their vision of the world.

Posted by: John McCrory at January 6, 2004 07:46 PM | PERMALINK

neil, Brooks laments the decline in discourse while playing the anti-Semitism anvil. Pardon my -- by comparison -- minor degradation of discourse, but that's hogwash. The column's a lame attempt at connecting criticism of Bush's policies to bigotry. Has Brooks written a single piece since he got the NYT gig that even briefly considers principled objections to the current policy regime?

Last year's wave of Republican code words includes stuff like "unhinged" and "venom", as applied to "liberals such as" me, like when you did it. "Angry" seems to have become the new "socialist".

BTW, there's plenty of conspiracy theorizing in this country about Jewish control of the media, the government, the world. You can pick it up on that very old-fashioned information technology, radio, just about everyday.

Posted by: Demetrios at January 6, 2004 08:11 PM | PERMALINK

The pithy abbreviation "Neocon" has the distinct disadvantage of ending with "con", as in "Con man". We could say "we were neoconned into war with Iraq", and we were.

Denying "neocons" also invalidates "paleocons", which is sporadically used, and likewise "paleoliberal" and "neoliberal", which last has largely disappeared (vanished in a puff of smoke from a Monica-flavored cigar?)

I'm inclined to think that conservatives calling liberals anti-Semitic is a good thing because it's so brazenly false.

Posted by: bad Jim at January 6, 2004 08:32 PM | PERMALINK

May I be the first to point out that in many circles (including Richard Nixon's), criticism of the "liberal media" started out as criticism of the "Jew-run liberal media" (and in many anti-Semitic circles, remains that way)? And that the current obsession with the NYT as the world's most evil influence has its roots, at least in part, in Nixon's hatred of the Jew York Times?

Now, I'm not going to say that all of the "liberal bias" obsessives are anti-Semites...but by Brooks' logic (and the logic on display here), I could.

Posted by: jesse at January 6, 2004 08:39 PM | PERMALINK

I know it's just feeding a troll but; Neil, you are simply lying.
You - "Neither is he saying that neocon actually is code for Jewish, rather that for many who dislike this group, especially some on the Left, this is the case"

From Brooks - "(con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish")

Either deal with the text at issue as it exists or argue that you believe differently. You don't get to just pretend it says something more defensible.

Posted by: DCMike at January 6, 2004 08:43 PM | PERMALINK

David -- You stated "Brooks is simply clearing away the underbrush, in order that a policy debate can occur." How so? Can you flesh this out a bit? In fact, I'd argue just the opposite. I'd say that what he's trying to do is add to the underbrush, in order to ensure that policy debate CAN'T occur.

From my perspective, Brooks is trying to head off a policy discussion through the use of tactics that are designed to try and intimidate and cow people. Or at least force them "off topic", making it so they have to defend themselves against charges of Anti-Semitism. Thereby ensuring that the policy debate that I so want to happen is begun in a charged, emotional atmosphere.

Why's he doing this? He wants to get the wagons circled emotionally. Shut down people's critical thinking capabilities, so that they can't THINK clearly about the issue at hand.

This demonization/emotive tactic is one of the major reasons I left the Republican Party. You claim to want debate. Give it a shot in the Republican Party. I double dog dare you. Take an issue where you disagree with the party orthodoxy, go to the meetings, and see what happens. Any issue will do. My last party meeting devolved into a shouting match between the county party chairman and myself. There's no dissenting from the party line. I've come to feel that the Republican Party really represents an Americanized, watered down version of the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union in terms of party line orthodoxy. And this will be their undoing.

Once I got involved, had more contact with Republicans and the Republican party apparatus, the more and more disenchanted I became. And my first professional job outside of college was working for the RNC! I even worked for Bush Sr's '88 election campaign! I fell for a long time for the "tow the party line" canard. Finally I realized that I was selling out my country and beliefs for a freakin' political party. A party that truly isn't in the 21st Century in terms of social policy (more like the 13th). And now, as it turns out, in fiscal policy either.

As a fellow Skeptical Inquirer reader, I'd encourage you to explore the opinions and get to know the people you've thrown in with. Debating policy wonks most Republican ain't.

BTW, just out of curiousity - what do you suppose the political breakout of Skeptical Inquirer readers works out to be? My bet is that Republicans are a small minority.

Why is that?

Posted by: Tony Shifflett at January 6, 2004 08:44 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! Tony!

That was very cool. I just never thought of it in those terms. Basically, "causing confusion" to gain time and intimidate the opposition.

Posted by: mediafreeze at January 6, 2004 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Perle on cspan sitting next to J Marshall at a conference on this subject recently.

Perle was sneeringly condescending to Josh M while dismissing the neocon influence on the administration.

It seems to be a new neocon theme.

They probably are retreating a bit since iraq didnt turn out like they thought.

Posted by: john d. at January 6, 2004 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

iraq's turning out badly?

ha ha!

iran's open for inspections.

libya's made a u turn

iraq's no longer funding terror and suicide bombers

north korea's suddenly got religion.

afghani women getting new rights, the chance

so what, right? who cares?

you liked it better when terror struck and we PRETENDED IT NEVER HAPPENED.

well, fools, those days are OVER.

you damned fools. you wouldn't know progress in the war on international terror if it bit you in the ass.

and howie boy aint' gonna change that, or anything else. (except maybe his soiled shorts). that howie boy has no track record as anti war (rich coward, yes, silver spoon yes, anti war, no. howie just saw a big angry, stupid mob and ran out in front of it. enjoy it while it lasts, losers).

november is going to be one gigantic party.

dickless wonders. grow up and quit being angry at your daddy.

Posted by: the adults are in charge at January 6, 2004 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

hey, when's howie boy going to come clean with america about his record, and quit TRYING TO HIDE WHAT HE REALLY STANDS FOR?

ass sucking losers.

the better the war on terror goes, the more you moan.

I delight in your abject misery.

try it, it's fun!

if you want to know what a total piece of crap you are, just remember your initial feeling when you saw that we had captured hussein.

if you felt that spark of anguish that I know you did, do us all a favor and suck on an exhaust pipe.

Posted by: poindexter at January 6, 2004 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's good to know that civility has returned to the national discourse.

Posted by: bad Jim at January 6, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm never civil about dead innocents.

but you go on.

Posted by: bad Jim II at January 6, 2004 09:54 PM | PERMALINK

oops!

plumb forgot.

only democrats are sposed to be angry.

well, guess again. we can't WAIT for november.

to watch you all cry.

Posted by: la de da at January 6, 2004 09:55 PM | PERMALINK

If Dean were to criticize neoconservatives, it would be difficult to paint him as anti-Semitic. There's no way to make him a self-hating Jew, though.

Posted by: bad Jim at January 6, 2004 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is a good illustration of the type of tactics that the "conservatives" of our day use. They really can't engage in civil discourse. [et cetera...]

>>>>>

Tony, have you even bothered to read any of the comments here?

You want to talk about facts? Fine, here are a few to chew on: Saddam Hussein is out of business permanently, as are the Taliban- two of the three most loathsome despotisms on the planet. Iran's 'bomb in the basement' project is getting attention from the IAEA instead of being ignored, and Gadaffy (or however it's spelled this year) is giving up his WMD programs. The North Koreans are talking about freezing their nuclear program. And on top of all that, India and Pakistan are talking about having negotiations on Kashmir.

You can disagree on how much any of these things have to do with Bush being in the White House, but it is indisputable that they have all happened on his watch, and personally, I think he deserves some of the credit for progress being made on a lot of them, many of which have been ongoing problems for _decades_.

But all I hear from Democrats is 'Plastic Turkey' and other meaningless crap, and never a word of acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, W might have done something good, even on accident.

If you want serious, civil discourse, I strongly suggest you start engaging in it yourself, and telling your like-minded friends to do the same. When you do, I'll be waiting.

Posted by: rosignol at January 6, 2004 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Demetrios, mostly.

See, there's two meanings of "neocon" in currency these days.

The vast majority of liberals think of neocons as "those retards who got us into Iraq." There is no religious context to that sentiment.

There is a tiny segment of people like Buchanan and the Arab press that highlight the supposed Jewishness of neo-conservatism.

Brooks conflates the two popular meanings, and the end result is "if you criticize neocons, you're an anti-semite!"

I mean, that's just abusive. Totally, indefensibly abusive.

Posted by: JimTXDem at January 6, 2004 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

it ain't no tiny segment playing that game.

you just happen to find yourself in bed with some nasty fellows, and don't like waking with fleas.

try scratching.

tho I have to admit, a lefty complaining about civil discourse is even funnier than watching you scratch.

stay angry. at least till november.

what a party that whole month's going to be.

Posted by: so proud of USA at January 6, 2004 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, when we send "all hat and no cattle" aWol back to his ranch.

It's too bad some 'cons' don't know how to use capital letters, as it makes them appear almost as stupid as they are.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at January 6, 2004 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

There is a huge difference between criticizing people who happen to be Jewish for their misguided politics and critizicing people for being Jewish. And I think Brooks knows this, which makes him a lying hypocrite.

What Brooks does though, is dishonestly exploit fears of antisemtism to advance his own agenda and stifle conflicting points of view, which is in itself, well, antisemitic

Posted by: Jay at January 7, 2004 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Brooks is a damned entertaining lifestyle commentator, though.

My elderly mother loved "Bobos".

Posted by: bad Jim at January 7, 2004 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

No antisemitism? How about this?

"Protocols of the Elders of Neocons"

In this weekly telephone report Paul Wolfowitz expressed his anxiety to Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister about the situation in the Middle East. “How are you doing?” asked Wolfowitz. “OK, OK,” answered Sharon, “but you must go to Syria.” Wolfowitz pondered, “this will be tougher to get the president’s okay on.” Sharon could not help but scream, ”He does not know Damascus from Des Moines, Iowa. Move it Paul. You can always tell him that this man of peace thinks it’s kosher,” concluded Sharon with a hysterical laugh.

Arab News has since pulled down the article, but if you google for (for example) "anxiety to Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister about the", you can find a hit for Arab News.

Posted by: Andjam at January 7, 2004 02:45 AM | PERMALINK

When women enthuse over Bush in his flight suit, they forget his years as a cheerleader in his prep school.

Posted by: bad Jim at January 7, 2004 02:50 AM | PERMALINK

Fine. Change the name. Just let me know what to call you when you're done, ok?

The irony is that if the term neoconservative didn't include the word conservative they never would have gained any power within the Republican party. Had they called themselves neoliberal - a more logical phrase given their idealistic, international tendencies - or anything else there is no question that they would have been much harder pressed to get anyone in the GOP to listen to them.

This really is an indictment of political discourse in America. That we allow so much to turn on semantic labels is absurd.

BTW, the term "cabal" - clearly, the much more conspiratorial and loaded term - was first used by Wolfowitz to label his PNAC bretheren. I suppose it is about to become the jew/gentile equivilent of "niggaz"...use at your peril.

Posted by: space at January 7, 2004 03:11 AM | PERMALINK

"There is a tiny segment of people like Buchanan and the Arab press that highlight the supposed Jewishness of neo-conservatism."

If you ultra-lefties were so prone to knee-jerk political correctness - the fear of anti-semetism in this case - you might gain a better grasp of issues.

The facts are that most of the prominent neocons are Jewish; which proves nothing in and of its self.

However, some of the prominent neocons are not only Jewish, but also have direct ties to the Isreali defense industries and/or hard right Isreali politics.

Furthermore, the neocon agenda, as put forth by the PNAC and other neocon manifestos, is blatantly Zionist (with all the negative connotations of the term and none of the positives (ie) screw the Palistinians and forget the vaseline when we do).

Why are some non-Jews in league with this cabal?
Because the non-Jewish hard right in this country is deeply concerned with strict scriptural interpretation of the Bible; including all that rapture and end of days Armegedon crap.

While they may believe that their Jewish allies are ultimately going to burn in hell, the christian right has no problem working with them to establish the preconditions for the return of christ, one of which is the re-establishment of the nation of Isreal and another of which is the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

Hence the alliance and it is fundementally concerned with a strong Isreal.

For those of you here wondering what he Iraq war was really all about (myself included), the answer probably lies in the above. Iraq was not a threat to the US, but was a threat to Isreal; indirectly through support for Palistinian terrorist groups and potentially directly through some form of direct armed aggression. But I digress.

Brooks (and neocons) is no doubt anticipating the above arguement and is laying the ground work for it to be summarily dismissed; not on merit, but by its surface distastefulness to an overly pc American public.

And you guys are falling for it.

Posted by: avedis at January 7, 2004 03:55 AM | PERMALINK

oops, if you lefties were not so prone to...........

Posted by: avedis at January 7, 2004 03:58 AM | PERMALINK

rosignol, you say you want civil discourse, after reciting RNC talking points on foreign policy without addressing legitimate criticism or dissent. You tartly ask Tony if he's read any of the comments here, but you say, all you hear from Democrats is "Plastic Turkey" and "meaningless crap". Say, have you ever bothered to try actually to hear principled criticism to Bush's foreign policy? It's quite obvious that David Brooks hasn't; seems unlikely from your post that you have either. Another question: did you ever hear "blue cocktail dress"? Also, did you ever hear "discovered Love Canal"? Did you ever see the TV commercial that juxtaposed Max Cleland and Saddam? Clearly, you expect, along with all Republicans, Bush's political opponents just to give up. It's like, if y'all would just shut your mouths then Ed Gillespie wouldn't have to slime you and lie about you. You simply can't comprehend opposition to Bush, can you?

Have you ever read Kevin Drum's blog? I could name a few more. I don't think Kevin has ever even mentioned Plastic Turkey. In fact, did it even appear on this thread until you introduced it?

Posted by: Demetrios at January 7, 2004 05:05 AM | PERMALINK

Not only does his "five staffers" ploy fall flat, in view of the eleven PNAC adm. members, but Brooks also chose to do this over the same weekend several conservative columnists were finding creative new ways to tell us Dean's wife is Jewish.

Brooks may be a hack, but I don't think he goes to Norquist's meetings!

Smarter ploys, please.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan at January 7, 2004 05:13 AM | PERMALINK

Grand Moff Texan,

I don't get it, why don't you think NOrquist has a two pronged strategy: cries of anti-semitism to frighten off the liberals and to assuage the fears of the middle/centrist bush voters that their guy is not anti-semitic/hitler and cries of "dean's wife is a jew" to appeal to the hard core right wing (who love jews when they imagine that armageddon is coming to the middle east but who detest those who marry them without forcibly converting them to the true god (tm). We've seen such a two pronged strategy before, played on the upper and lower cases of the right wing media: that would be "uniter not a divider" with photo-ops with black people on the one hand, and smear campaigns directed against John McCain on the grounds that he fathered an illegitimate black child on the other. And it would, of course, be forgiveness and acceptance of Neil and Noelle Bush's and Rush LImbaugh's problems as "personal" and private at the same time that any perceived weaknesses by Democrats are expoloited to the hilt as immoral and outright dangerous to the public welfare.
Its not unusual--its their MO.

aimai

Posted by: aimai at January 7, 2004 05:31 AM | PERMALINK
The facts are that most of the prominent neocons are Jewish; which proves nothing in and of its self.

That depends on how you measure "prominent".
Most of the notable philosophical leaders of the movement are Jewish, sure, but most of the publicly visible and widely known associates of PNAC? Well, its considerably more mixed.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 7, 2004 06:55 AM | PERMALINK

I love hearing these trolls getting a woody over next November.

It reminds me so much of 3 years ago when they were slavering over a Republican house, senate, and president, and how that was going to be nirvana heaven on earth!

If anyone truly thinks this is nirvana heaven on earth then I want a little bit of what they are smoking.

Posted by: Tripp at January 7, 2004 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

I've seen several people trying to spin htat Brooks article since it came out, and I have but one question:

Who is it here in the states, which political side of the fence is it, that supports Israel against her attackers in the Arab world? Who has been traditionally trying to influence our foreign policy toward that goal? Conservatives, inclduing the so-called neocons.

Meanwtime, who has been fighting to get the PLO terrorists accepted as equals? Who has been the loudest in making claims against Israel and her supporters, as regards her Arab attackers? Liberals.

Is it really so much of a stretch to label Liberals as anti-Semites?

I think not.

Posted by: Bithead at January 7, 2004 08:24 AM | PERMALINK

Bithead: so you think that criticism of right-wing foreign policy is the same as race-hatred. And let me guess -- you're going to be the next poster to decry the decline in discourse, right?

Posted by: Demetrios at January 7, 2004 08:31 AM | PERMALINK

The Right Has Been Neoconned - Conservatives Unite Take Back the Right

Now, I'm not a conservative, but I grew up with one. He believed in fiscal responsibility, strong military defense, states rights and a limited role of the federal government in peoples' affairs. Most of all, he loved the United States. He believed it was a force of good in the world. He was committed to protection of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. He didn't much care for unions or workers rights, but did see the importance of basic individual securities and protections. On the environment, he believed government had some role so long it didn't infringe on his business. So, he was mostly a Conservative.

He'd be spinning in his grave. These Neocons are NOT your father's Conservatives. They have plunged the country into trillions of dollars of debt that literally threatens our nation's economic solvency. We are now the aggressor in wars of imperial conquest all over the world with rapacious wartime profiteering by our leader's well connected companies. The United States is now probably the most hated and feared country on the globe. The Patriot Act has shredded the Bill of Rights and this administration is intent upon stifling debate, secret proceedings and dismantling the US Constitution in favor of autocratic one party rule. Democracy is becoming a sham due to mass media bias and election monkey business. More people are falling into poverty and becoming a burden on our economy. Educational and health programs are all unfunded lip service. The environment has been opened up for exploitation with no regard for the future.

Conservatives care deeply about the future of our nation. Liberals care deeply about the future of our nation. They differ on many issues, but find common ground on their belief in this nation, our country, this Democracy, the United States, as crafted by our founding fathers and hammered out over 200 years of democracy. These Neocons don't care about the future of this Democracy, the United States. To them, our institutions are simply in the way. As Bush has said it would be much easier if this were a dictatorship as long as he was in charge. These Neocons are using the military not to defend this country, as they assert, but to enrich themselves. The Neocon view of the world is that of military domination abroad and authoritarian control domestically. Their full throated war cry may feel good now, but these policies are sowing the seeds of our nation's destruction. It is already starting. Economically we have become a dependent nation. The dollar is at historical lows against the Euro. When the Asian nations decide to raise interest rates on our debt, we'll have no choice but inflation. Jobs are fleeing the country and health care costs and environmental protections are out of control due to pandering to industry. We are on borrowed time.

These Neocons are simply going for broke. This isn't about the future, it's about now. They have crashed the party. They have bust open the booze and are breaking up all our fathers' antique furniture. They are intoxicated with power. They are partying like there is no tomorrow. But, there will be a tomorrow, and what a hangover it will be. What are we going to tell the grow-ups when they get home? True Conservatives, hear my plea: "Come on home! Let's put this house back in order."

Posted by: mediafreeze at January 7, 2004 08:57 AM | PERMALINK

Bithead,

As one of many jews--inside and outside Israel (check out Uri AVenieri's work, and the number of Israeli military people who are criticizing Sharon) who do not support Israel in everything it does vis a vis the palestinians I think your charge that liberals = anti semites is more than a little absurd. Guess what? I support a two state solution (as did my grandfather, another Jew) *and* I'm against Saudi Arabia and fundamentalist Islam--and against the fundamentalist christian take over of my own government here in the US. HOw on earth can that all square? Because politics is more complex than it is binary and because liberals are for liberty, freedom and justice for all and not just for some.

aimai

Posted by: aimai at January 7, 2004 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

>>See, there's two meanings of "neocon" in currency these days.

The vast majority of liberals think of neocons as "those retards who got us into Iraq." There is no religious context to that sentiment.

There is a tiny segment of people like Buchanan and the Arab press that highlight the supposed Jewishness of neo-conservatism.

Brooks conflates the two popular meanings, and the end result is "if you criticize neocons, you're an anti-semite!"

I mean, that's just abusive. Totally, indefensibly abusive.
--

It took awhile but JimTXDem nails it absolutely. Enough said.

A lot of denial here from Republicans.

And good job on not rising to the bait of trolls who post just to get a reaction. And my blood goes up whe I read them at first. But then an overhelming sense of pity for them envelopes me.

They don't care about a country. They care about WINNING. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. But they are always pitiful.

Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at January 7, 2004 09:24 AM | PERMALINK
Is it really so much of a stretch to label Liberals as anti-Semites?

Er, yes. Even if everything else you said were true (its not -- support for Israel is strong across both parties), the State of Israel is not the same thing as the Jewish people, either as a religious or ethnic group.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 7, 2004 09:48 AM | PERMALINK

Rosignol wrote: "You want to talk about facts? Fine, here are a few to chew on: Saddam Hussein is out of business permanently, as are the Taliban- two of the three most loathsome despotisms on the planet. Iran's 'bomb in the basement' project is getting attention from the IAEA instead of being ignored, and Gadaffy (or however it's spelled this year) is giving up his WMD programs. The North Koreans are talking about freezing their nuclear program. And on top of all that, India and Pakistan are talking about having negotiations on Kashmir."

The trouble is, rosignol, that some of those statements aren't facts. And most of them have little or nothing to do with neocon policies, which is the subject under discussion. As long as you're willing to simply parrot Republican talking points without any apparent thought, it's difficult to see why engaging you in "serious, civil discourse" is worth the time.

Posted by: PaulB at January 7, 2004 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I can't find the link right now, but there was a recent transcript featuring Mr. Zogby (of www.zogby.com) who pointed out that the Jewish part of the demographics he was polling (which he admitted was not necessarily entirely accurate since it amounted to about 40 in 1000 people polled) in general ran about 70% Democrat to 25% Republican. He did not see any evidence for a clean American Jew = Sharon agenda identification, and plenty of identification with liberal causes.

Posted by: Garth at January 7, 2004 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I took a poll, and here are the answers I got for the meanings of Neo:

86% - That guy in the Matrix
12% - 'New'
2% - The 'One,' get it? That guy in the Matrix with his name scrambled.

Posted by: Tripp at January 7, 2004 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

No, Demitrios, I don't think them equal. I'm suggesting in that in this case one is a nifty little cover for the other. As evdience, I point out the stated political goals and the political histories of each groups as it relates to srael. Is this discussion really so hard for you to follow?

and cmdicely.... if support for Israel is strong across both parties as you say, explain to us how it is that it is invariably the left... specificly the far left... that refuses to support action against Israel's attackers such as the so-called PLO, and who invariably will side with those opposing Israel defending itself. Why?

aimai: While your position argues cleanly enough, I question the outcome of such a policy.I thought the lessons of negotiating with such people were taught us rather well by a rather infamous socialist.... Hitler. Apparently, you've yet to learn the lesson.



Posted by: Bithead at January 7, 2004 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

"The Jews" != "Israel"
"Israel" != "Likud"

This stuff is really not that hard.

Posted by: Jim Henley at January 7, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

Tony Shifflett -- My objection is to the word "neo-con", as used to describe Jewish conservatives. Several posters on this thread take it for granted that there are "neo-cons" who act as a group, who wielded power in the Bush administration and got us into war in Iraq. The person who mainly got us into war in Iraq is President George Bush, but nobody ever calls Bush a neo-con. Why not? I think, it's because he's not Jewish.

Brooks's article clears away the underbrush by taking exception to the type of slur that intimidates policy discussion. When Rush Limbaugh implies that some liberal is sympathetic to America's enemies, he's suggesting that we not pay attention to that person's policy arguments. A statement complaining about Rush's demagogy wouldn't be a policy statement, but it might help clear away the underbrush, so that policy debate could take place.

You may be correct that Brooks is trying to head off a policy discussion. I thought he was trying to head off the use of the term "neo-con".

I take your point about Republican Party orthodoxy. I haven't tried going to meetings. Do you find the Dems are more open to dissent from their views than the Reps were? On one issue -- abortion -- the Reps seem more open to both sides than the Dems are.

Back in the days when I was a liberal Berkeley activist, I didn't hear much support for opposing positions. Maybe both sides are fairly rigid in their positions.

Posted by: David at January 7, 2004 04:20 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Dave, where did you live in Berkeley? What kind of activism were you involved in? I ask because I know some groups can be thoroughly ridiculous no matter what their political hue, but there are some great, committed people in Berkeley.

Posted by: lordwhorfin at January 7, 2004 05:02 PM | PERMALINK

I friend of mine forwarded me this link.

Gosh, where do I start?

Back in my days of gothic glory I met a good number of people who resisted the term goth. They were Death Rock -- or whatever, a more authentic, non-media-crafted term. You can't deny that Brooks has a much better reason to resist the term neocon.

But that wasn't his main reason for writing the article, of course. He wrote it because there are people out there, very many of them, like Pat Buchanan whose ugly editorial prompted the original debate, who use the word neocon as a synonym for a Jew. In popular imagination (a significant portion of popular imagination, anyways -- both Jews and neocons are those nasty, conniving people who are manipulating simple good-hearted folk in quest for global domination. Have you ever heard the term neocon conspiracy? Well, I did, and I'm very concerned.

Btw did you ever think that there are so many supporters of Israel among the American Jews because we know more then your average American urbanite about the region?

Posted by: veebee at January 7, 2004 06:11 PM | PERMALINK

Brooks's article clears away the underbrush by taking exception to the type of slur that intimidates policy discussion.

It looks like he is trying to inhibit policy discussion by using the slur of "antisemitism" to discredit the arguments of critics of the administration's performance.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at January 7, 2004 07:09 PM | PERMALINK

As evdience, I point out the stated political goals and the political histories of each groups as it relates to srael. Is this discussion really so hard for you to follow?

You: "I can only see two caricaturized points of view on a complex issue. The thing that I say you think is opposed to the thing that I say I think. You reject my terms, and I'm not interested in expanding the discussion, ergo you're not smart enough to understand what I'm trying to do."

Posted by: Demetrios at January 7, 2004 07:23 PM | PERMALINK

"The person who mainly got us into war in Iraq is President George Bush, but nobody ever calls Bush a neo-con. Why not? I think, it's because he's not Jewish."

I think most of us recognize that Bush is just a stupid puppet.

And, as I pointed out, the christian right has reasons to be allied with the neocon zionist agenda.

Posted by: avedis at January 7, 2004 08:21 PM | PERMALINK

--"Brooks's article clears away the underbrush by taking exception to the type of slur that intimidates policy discussion.

--"It looks like he is trying to inhibit policy discussion by using the slur of "antisemitism" to discredit the arguments of critics of the administration's performance."

One more time.

Any debate that relies on the term "neocon" to make a point is useless. You make it sound as if name-calling is a reasonable form of policy discussion. Brooks' point is that this is not true, and you resent that.

Posted by: equitus at January 7, 2004 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Any debate that relies on the term "neocon" to make a point is useless. You make it sound as if name-calling is a reasonable form of policy discussion. Brooks' point is that this is not true, and you resent that.

How about calling people "anti-Semitic" and "unhinged"? Brooks' piece is the opposite ov reasonable policy discussion. He just tries to slime people who disagree with him by lumping them with people who believe Dick Cheney goes on safari for humans.

If use of the term "neocon" is anti-Semitic, what are we to think of Irving Kristol?


Posted by: Roger Bigod at January 8, 2004 08:41 AM | PERMALINK

The person who mainly got us into war in Iraq is President George Bush, but nobody ever calls Bush a neo-con. Why not? I think, it's because he's not Jewish.

No, it's because neocons are smart.

--Kynn

Posted by: Kynn Bartlett at January 8, 2004 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

The person who mainly got us into war in Iraq is President George Bush, but nobody ever calls Bush a neo-con. Why not? I think, it's because he's not Jewish.

I think it's more that GWB has no identifiable philosophy beyond his own re-election and protection of the investing class by any means necessary. I hear Cheney and Rumsfeld regularly referred to as neo-cons, though, and neither of them go to temple.

Posted by: apostropher at January 8, 2004 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Roger, I assume you mean this book by Irving Kristol: Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.

Well, it's obvious.

Kristol's just a self-hating Jew.

--Kynn

Posted by: Kynn Bartlett at January 8, 2004 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

There's also:

The Rise of Neoconservatism, John Erman
The Neoconservative Mind, Cary Dorrien
The Neoconservatives, Mark Gerson
The Essential Neoconservative Reader, Peter Steinfels

Anti-Semites, every one.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at January 8, 2004 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

A leading figure in Conservative intellect characterized the neocons as sloganeers, a threat to critical thinking. In fact the neocons came into the Conservative house trecking the dirt of the Leninist movement on their shoes. That includes a low view of others as the lumpen mass, so that the masses must be fed propaganda, not intellect. None had a background of high culture; so, though they came to appreciate it, they are uncomfortable pretending to be masters of it. Their leftist notions as "of the people" forever give them the wish to be casual, even vulgar, as is their comfort. Most came from rough areas and most all their lives backed down in the face of bullies. So, invariably they have a complex about their manhood. Hence, as adults their violent speech calling for violent assault of others is a bravado, for they never and would never go to the front and fight for anything. They are, as many vets call them, the "chickenhawks" who try to look tough by pushing others into combat.

Above all, they know that they really are not liked. Unable to recognize the repulsiveness of their crude personalities and unatractive physical characterisitcs, they tend to attribute all rejection to "anti-semitism." Clearly, mentally unbalanced (probably chronic masturbaters through most of their youth) due to perpetual frustration with their personal mediocrity, they tend to be aggressive and seek cosmetic cover-up with signs of wealth. Their answer to their complex of rejection is to take pride in their ability to deceive all those "dumb goyim." Having gotten hold of the dumbest of all-- George Bush Jr. and Dick Cheney (both also chickenhawks who evaded service)-- they drowned in hubris as they tried to show off what big mensch they are to the Israeli sabras that make them seem so small. Corrupt and devoid of spiritualism and divorsed from the righteousness of the Jewish faith they appear forever odd and repulsive, living in a dream world, pating themselves on the back in publications that no one reads but themselves. It is inconceivable, given vile and viscious diatribes like the Frum and Perle book "An End To Evil," that they will ever fully fit into the modern world. Despite their one time usefulness to the anti-communist cause, they are like anerobic bacteria-- the more they are exposed to air, the more they become disabled and helpless, victims of their own poisonous metabolism. As evidence I offer not only the Fru-Perle boook but the mediocrities on the JINSA web page.

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Posted by: debt consolidation loans at July 31, 2004 05:00 PM | PERMALINK
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