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Threats

Christopher Hitchens, in one of the few insightful things he's said about the war on terrorism, took the chance in his final Nation column to criticize those on the left "who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden." At the time, I thought it was a very sharp remark. I never supported Bush and always hoped he would lose in 2004 since I thought his policies were misguided, but many people seemed to me at the time to have lost all sense of perspective about who the really threatening enemies were. Suskind's article along with other pieces of evidence of what one might call the creeping Putinization of American life (the Sinclair incident, the threatening letter to Rock The Vote, the specter of the top official in the House of Representatives making totally baseless charges of criminal conduct against a major financier of the political opposition [shades of Mikhail Khodorovsky], the increasing evidence that the 'terror alert' system is nothing more than a political prop, the 'torture memo' asserting that the president is above the law, the imposition of rigid discipline on the congress, the abuse of the conference committee procedure, the ability of the administration to lie to congress without penalty, the exclusion of non-supporters from Bush's public appearances, etc.) are beginning to make me think this assessment may have been misguided. Terrorist forces operating in and around Chechnya have done some horrible things -- I was in Moscow for the big apartment bombings -- but ultimately the most harmful thing they have done was to enable Putin to tighten his grip on power.

October 17, 2004 | Permalink

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» The 'Creeping Putinization of American Life' from Discourse.net
Fellow member of the reality-based community, Matthew Yglesias looks into the abyss that he brilliantly labels the ‘Putanization of Amercian life’. It’s ugly down there. Matthew Yglesias: Threats Christopher Hitchens, in one of the fe... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 5:20:34 PM

» The 'Creeping Putinization of American Life' from Discourse.net
Fellow member of the reality-based community Matthew Yglesias looks into the abyss that he brilliantly labels the ‘Putanization of Amercian life’. It’s ugly down there. Matthew Yglesias: Threats Christopher Hitchens, in one of the few... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 5:30:05 PM

» The Abyss from Political Animal
THE ABYSS....Matt Yglesias voices his concern today about....the creeping Putinization of American life (the Sinclair incident, the threatening letter to Rock The Vote, the specter of the top official in the House of Representatives making totally base... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 7:06:04 PM

» The 'Creeping Putinization of American Life' from Discourse.net
Fellow member of the reality-based community Matthew Yglesias looks into the abyss that he brilliantly labels the ‘Putanization of Amercian life’. It’s ugly down there. Matthew Yglesias: Threats Christopher Hitchens, in one of the few... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 8:03:01 PM

» Round the Bloggerhood from TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
Matt Yglesias takes a (welcome) turn left, describing the "creeping Putinization of American life." Examples: ...the Sinclair incident, the threatening letter to Rock The Vote, the specter of the top official in the House of Representatives making tota... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 9:07:11 PM

» Uh oh little Matthew is off again off again. from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill
Boy oh boy it sure will be fun to see Matthew prove that Bin Gone is less dangerous than Ashcroft. Maybe Matthew is going to prove that Bin Gone is dead? Nah hat won't ever do since his hero Kerry says that we haven't gotten him yet, [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 9:44:53 PM

» Comrades from Burnt Orange Report
Matt Yglesias puts down in words what I've been thinking (as well as, apparently, Kevin Drum, Michael Froomkin, and a whole bunch of other people who are smarter than I am): There are disturbing parallels between the Bush White House... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 11:04:04 PM

» Fisking the fisker from The Liferaft of Love
Anyway, there's a very real point that Yglesias makes, that is not made enough, that should be made again and again and again. That is ... we're our own worst enemies. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 11:13:36 PM

» The reality-based community vs. Putinization from Mark A. R. Kleiman
Yes, there's a link between disdaining reality and grasping at unlimited power. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2004 11:32:47 PM

» Creeping Putinization from Slapnose
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Matt Yglesias begins his post by admitting that when some on the left have implied or flat-out said that Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush and their ilk are as dangerous if not more dangerous to our country than... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 1:56:43 AM

» Cue the Death Star Music from RIGHT ON RED >>
Matthew Yglesias doesn’t believe that Bush is Hitler - no, Bush is Putin! [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 2:33:11 AM

» I based my judgment on reality and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt! from Waffle
Following up on this post and the widening bruhaha over Suskind's NYTarticle*): I'd buy the T-Shirt if someone made it to professional standards and the profits went to an anti-Bush cause.... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 6:30:13 AM

» I joined the reality-based community and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt! from Waffle
Following up on this post and the widening bruhaha over Suskind's NYTarticle*): I'd buy the T-Shirt if someone made it to professional standards and the profits went to an anti-Bush cause.... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 6:38:13 AM

» Putin Stays On Message from The Moderate Voice
Has Dick Cheney exported his talking points? DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin, siding with President Bush two weeks before the U.S. election, said Monday that armed attacks in Iraq were staged by "international terroris... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 9:40:08 AM

» Conservative Cultural Engineering from Crooked Timber
“Lexington” of the Economist can sometimes be pretty weird - but his most recent column is more than weird - it’s somewhere out there in the Gamma Quadrant. His argument is pretty straightforward on its face- that the Democrats are... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 12:04:44 PM

» And the Nostradamus Award goes to... from Body and Soul
Matthew Yglesias, yesterday: The creeping Putinization of American life CNN, today: Putin urges voers to back Bush I wonder how Ohioans feel about foreigners telling them how to vote. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 12:57:34 PM

» Yglesias: Ashcroft worse than bin Laden from The Politburo Diktat
Matthew Yglesias says that Ashcroft is a bigger threat than Osama bin Laden. Apparently trying to emulate Henry James with his run-on sentences, Matthew uses enough words to provide him with plausible deniability: "I never said that." The Commissar has... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 1:51:58 PM

» Yglesias: Ashcroft worse than bin Laden from The Politburo Diktat
Matthew Yglesias says that Ashcroft is a bigger threat than Osama bin Laden. Apparently trying to emulate Henry James with his run-on sentences, Matthew uses enough words to provide him with plausible deniability: "I never said that." The Commissar has... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 1:51:59 PM

» Undemocratic Tyrant Endorses Bush from [Get More Ass]
Looks like "Vladermeer" of the good soul has decided to thank his pal Dubya for semi-sticking up for him in the first debate: Putin, speaking Central Asian Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan Monday, made his most overt comments of support... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 2:27:20 PM

» The KGB backs Bush from Mark A. R. Kleiman
Putin says a defeat for Bush would be a victory for the terrorists. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 3:52:55 PM

» On Putinization from Phaedo
I never supported Bush and always hoped he would lose in 2004 since I thought his policies were misguided, but many people seemed to me at the time to have lost all sense of perspective about who the really threatening [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 6:55:16 AM

» The Bigger Threat from Lean Left
Over the weekend, Yglesias said something that was -- rightfully -- widely praised: Christopher Hitchens, in one of the few... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 11:34:08 AM

» The Putinization of America from E Pluribus Unum
President Putin of Russia has weighed in on the election:"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term," Putin said at a Central Asian summit in Tajikistan. "If... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 11:42:17 AM

» The Putinization of America from E Pluribus Unum
President Putin of Russia has weighed in on the election:"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term," Putin said at a Central Asian summit in Tajikistan. "If... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 11:42:42 AM

» Dare I Say It? from Pandagon
First Putin threw his weight behind Bush and now Iran lines up behind BC04. Birds of a feather... And I should probably note that I didn't type that last sentence without some consideration. But, and it pains me to say... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 10:34:04 PM

» GOP's Attempt To Solidify Power from BAD ATTITUDES
Yglesias, who has no life experience that I am aware of outside of big-time blogging, is generally an energetic, boastful, and self-important fool. But not in this piece listing and discussing the GOP's ongoing attempts to permanently change and degrad... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 20, 2004 11:13:25 AM

» Gift Basket from Tom Jamme's Blog
Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 7, 2005 11:28:05 AM

» Gift Basket from Tom Jamme's Blog
Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 7, 2005 11:30:15 AM

Comments

I think they're starting with Berlusconi and only working their way down to Putin.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 17, 2004 3:51:04 PM

*Now* he tells us!

Posted by: El Gringo Loco | Oct 17, 2004 3:54:17 PM

Back on the old site, (http://www.matthewyglesias.com/archives/002039.html to be precise), I trotted out the phrase "post-Weimar Russia." It's an idea worth considering...

Posted by: Doug | Oct 17, 2004 4:08:45 PM

You're exactly right, Matt. All terrorists can do is kill us. They can kill large numbers of us, but that's it. It is we, and we alone, who can destroy our country.

Posted by: Steve Brady | Oct 17, 2004 4:11:08 PM

Terrorist forces operating in and around Chechnya have done some horrible things -- I was in Moscow for the big apartment bombings -- but ultimately the most harmful thing they have done was to enable Putin to tighten his grip on power.
Maybe it's just a crackpot conspiracy I mistook for fact, but I remember reading something about those apartment bombings being the work of the FSB.
This is from wikipedia's entry on the subject:
On the evening of September 22, 1999, an alert resident of an apartment building in the town of Ryazan noticed strangers moving heavy sugar sacks into the basement from a car. Militia (the local police) were called to the site and all residents were evacuated. The first test of the powder from the sacks showed the presence of an explosive. All roads from the town were brought under heavy surveillance but no leads were found. A telephone service employee tapped into long-distance phone conversations managed to detect a conversation in which an out-of-town person suggested to take care and to watch for patrols. That person's number was found to belong to an FSB office in Moscow.

Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti declared that the incident was a training exercise one day later. The original chemical test was declared inaccurate due to contamination of the analysis apparatus from a previous test. The public inquiry committee could not come to a complete conclusion on this and other incidents due to incoherent answers from federal bodies. The General Prosecutor's office has closed the criminal investigation of the Ryazan incident in April 2000.
I sure hope Bush isn't that far gone yet.

Posted by: max | Oct 17, 2004 4:12:11 PM

Cheah, except Putins pretty popular and lots of people support his policies. Especially when people contrast him with Boris. But yeah a popular leader centralizing power in a way that gets people's support is much more harmful then some fellows shooting up children.

And this isn't so much a post defending Putin, but one dealing with the idea that somehow you whats more harmful to russia, then people you actually, ah live there.

Sound familiar?

Posted by: Mr Black | Oct 17, 2004 4:30:14 PM

Blah

And this isn't so much a post defending Putin, but one dealing with the idea that somehow you know whats more harmful to russia, then people who actually, ah live there.

Sound familiar?

Sorry for the previous typo's, trying to write while watching football = not good

Posted by: Mr Black | Oct 17, 2004 4:32:41 PM

The Bush administration, including John Ashcroft, has done demonstrably more to damage our democracy and the conservative principles I cherish - limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility - than the Islamo fascists could ever hope to succeed in accomplishing.

Posted by: JA | Oct 17, 2004 4:59:17 PM

Well, yes. One of the things that I've admired you for saying repeatedly, Matt, is that the terrorists may be purely evil and all, but they are also very, very weak. Yes, they can kill us, but they simply don't pose the threat to the American way of life that Republicans like to go on about.

I suppose that, if it gained a shitload more firepower in the conventional sense, fundamentalist Islam could pose such a threat. That's why we have to prevent weapons proliferation, not why we have to vote for George Bush.

Posted by: Marshall | Oct 17, 2004 5:10:10 PM

There's a wonderful self-correcting tendency in our system that by no means is inevitable but certainly ought to give us more comfort than if we were Russians. The self-destructing Dems in '72 allowed Nixon to waltz into a second term. Nevertheless, we all know what happened by '74, and the Dems swept to power in Congress. Arguably, Dem dominance brought about the type of arrogance than allowed a demagogue like Gingrich to come to power, dragging with him the likes of DeLay and Hastert. The pendulum has swung. One can discern swinging now.

Posted by: jsrutstein | Oct 17, 2004 5:49:29 PM

'Backlash is a b-tch' is fun wishful thinking, but I don't see the evidence for it. Before Watergate, by contrast, the progressives were sufficiently politically powerful that Tricky Dick had a more progressive domestic policy than any other president since, Carter and Clinton included.

Posted by: wcw | Oct 17, 2004 6:01:02 PM

jsrutstein - the Dems already has congress and had for decades. And Nixon would have stayed until 1976 if the R's had held congress in 72-74.

Posted by: chris | Oct 17, 2004 7:02:20 PM

I trotted out the phrase "post-Weimar Russia." It's an idea worth considering...


Do you mean post-Weimar Germany or some phase of Russian history?

Posted by: Cheap Shot Artist | Oct 17, 2004 7:05:42 PM

bravo. you finally wrote it down.

now write the book....

Posted by: a-list | Oct 17, 2004 7:26:28 PM

The terrorists can only win if we let them destroy the American way of life / a strong, respected, and free America.

Which BushCo seem intent on doing.

Posted by: MattB | Oct 17, 2004 7:30:53 PM

Maybe I'm taking "Putinization" too literally, but...
One of the strange things I've been hearing from Bush & Co. is the threat of school hijackings like the one in Russia. Why, Chechen militants may even be trying to sneak into your town right now, Mr. & Mrs. USA!

Posted by: Grumpy | Oct 17, 2004 7:33:00 PM

jsrutstein wrote about how the American system of government saved us from even the excesses of Nixon. Of course looking back we can see that Nixon was an idiot. Had he simply hung Dean and Colson out to dry and told the world that the few bad apples had been taken care of, he would have stayed in power.

Watergate wasn't a triumph of the American judicial system, it was greek tragedy where hubris destroys the man who has everything.

Posted by: bunny | Oct 17, 2004 7:40:09 PM

Something else to consider is the willingness of the neo-cons to drop all pretense to a principaled stand against terrorism when it comes to furthering their imperial ambitions. Check out http://www.peaceinchechnya.org/, the website for a neo-con front organization that, after Breslan, couldn't admit this act was committed by people it supports and continues to spread disinformation to the effect that there is no connection between Al-Qaida and these Chechen 'freedom fighters'. The membership list is interesting,with every prominent neo-con listed. While our government is hard at work tracking down folksingers that may have sent a few bucks through intermediaries to Hamas, an organization providing aid and comfort to Chechen bombers operates openly. Talk about a pre- 9/11 mindset, when Islamic fundamentalist extremists are our friends, as long as they oppose Russia.

Posted by: Spudboy | Oct 17, 2004 7:51:26 PM

Once the conference committee procedure is abused, where will liberty find refuge?

Posted by: rd | Oct 17, 2004 8:05:14 PM

Call it Techno-puritanism, as the use of electronic visual media as a tool of conformity and omission plays a large part in the spread of this new puritanism.

Posted by: Howard | Oct 17, 2004 8:22:34 PM

There is no difference between what FOX, CNN and MSNBC put out as news, and what Vladimir Posner put out as news under Brezhnev.

Does that mean that the US is the same as late-Soviet Russian? Of course not. It means that the American mass media is pretty much the same as Soviet mass media from the late Brezhnev era.

Posted by: James E. Powell | Oct 17, 2004 8:36:14 PM

Osama is in a cave; "marginalized"
Ashcroft is with us each and every day.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr | Oct 17, 2004 8:47:00 PM

Singapore, Berlusconi's Italy and Putin's Russia gave Bush his plan to assume supreme power forever. First, gain control of the media. Next, use that power to suppress opposing views. Overturn Times v Sullivan, thus allowing "public figures" to sue newspapers for "defamation."

This allows Bush complete news control, either directly or through multi-million dollar lawsuits. (Imagine Bush suing Michael Moore for F9/11, with no TV and newspaper coverage. For that matter, imagine all bloggers to the left of LGF being hit with massive lawsuits.)

Enjoy freedom of speech while we've got it, folks!

Posted by: RepubAnon | Oct 17, 2004 8:58:21 PM

RepubAnon has a good point, but I think that Sharon's "facts on the ground" control of the agenda by military adventurism is also a source for Bush.

In the next 3 weeks I expect new facts on the ground, though I've been wrong before. And if Bush wins, I expect lots of them after the election. (If Bush loses? His dad left Clinton both Somalia and Waco to deal with. Don't put it bast Dubya).

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 17, 2004 9:17:58 PM

RepubAnon,

I don't think the NY Times would contest Times vs. Sullivan nowadays.

Posted by: Marshall | Oct 17, 2004 9:27:36 PM

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