Web-stats Explainer: Reid Stott, the photographer, explains what Matt Welch, the New Media columnist, didn’t understand about his own traffic numbers. Terrific!
12/1/2001 08:53:06 PM
November Rain: You people are great. Thanks for reading. In the month that just ended, you gave me 42,513 visits, read 64,213 pages and 120,604 “files” (if anyone can tell me the difference between the two, don’t hesitate), and produced a completely indecipherable but nonetheless impressive statistic of 192,202 “hits.” These numbers were nearly double over the month before, which itself was four times bigger than the month before that. Thanks, too, for the 170 bones that 23 of you have plopped in my tip-bucket (not to mention Virginia Postrel, who played a crucial and intriguing role in the proliferation of weblog pay-buttons, I learned recently). Kinda like a night in Bangkok, all of this makes a proud man humble.
Coming soon – another fresh batch of warblogs, the long-delayed posting of your clever letters, and (Allah willing) a minor flood of professionally published content. I might also return an e-mail or two. I have been attending to other matters these past days.
12/1/2001 07:18:59 PM
The Lie of ‘Dissent,’ and the Curious Case of Palestinian-Enthusiast Sam Hamod: Sam Hamod, president of the American Islamic Institute (which doesn’t seem to have a website, unless I have grown denser than I’ve thought), contributed a letter to today’s L.A. Times criticizing American foreign policy (“Surely, our nation has lost its Christian morality”) and support for Israel (“Both Bush and Ashcroft will never be able to wash this stain from their hands”). But here’s the bit that first interested me:
What is ironic is that Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is starting to imitate the Middle Eastern regimes he and President Bush criticize -- they brook no dissent, and if you dissent you are called a "traitor.” Boom! Moral equivalence (through the vehicle of hyperbolic language), and the Lie of Dissent. If Bush & his cabinet indeed “brook no dissent,” why have they spent so much time chatting with the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who have refused to denounce Osama Bin Laden, Hamas and Hezbollah? CAIR's views qualify as “dissenting,” no? If “dissent” means criticizing the war, or any individual war-related policy carried out by the Administration, then I don’t know of a single intelligent person who hasn’t “dissented” at one time or another since Sept. 11. I have criticized, to cite just one example, U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia in three separate columns, yet I haven’t been called a “traitor” so far (just “fascist,” “commy,” and – yeesh! – “objectivist”), but if I was, I’d just give whoever was fool enough to say such a thing the verbal smackdown he deserved. Sticks and stones, etc. Of the many cowardly tics of the fringe Left that have been exposed these past 11 weeks, the whining about “dissent” within the United States surely ranks high in basic repugnance. I will listen long to arguments criticizing military tribunals, or wiretapping lawyer-client meetings, or denying normal rights to those arrested on U.S. soil, and so on. I have written a column or 12 about the perils of media concentration. But to blather about the crushing of “dissent” since Sept. 11 – in the age of the fucking Internet – is to admit a basic lack of imagination, or moral compass.
This got me interested in Sam Hamod, the onetime professor of American History at Howard University. Turns out, he has another interesting theory about media ownership. Can you guess what that might be? C’mon, rack your brain! Here’s an excerpt from one Hamod column:
Most of the media is owned by Zionist leaning owners, these media monsters of venom and hatred, like Horowitz, Weisel and other pro-Zionist columnists will continue to have their way with little opposition allowed in the mass media because of the Zionist control the media. Sarnoff of NBC, Paley of CBS, Goldensohn of ABC and Friendly of NPR, and the families that own and control The NY Times and The Washington Post were, and are, strongly pro-Zionist […] Why do 90% of these reporters "just happen" to be Jewish? Sigh.
How else has Hamod distinguished himself since Sept. 11? In what appears to be his first first published reaction, he gave the rest of us 10 questions we needed to ponder:
6. Was Timothy McVeigh's religion mentioned when he bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City? Hamod’s prescription for making things “better in this world” apparently includes denying inconvenient truths that don't have the decency to conform to his political aims. Here’s a bit from the San Diego State Daily Aztec, on Hamod’s mid-October visit to the campus:
7. Was the religion of the Ku Klux Klan mentioned when they brutalized African Americans and others?
10. What can, and what will you do, to make things better in this world?
Sam Hamod, president of the American Islamic Institute, spoke about terrorism; specifically, media terrorism. Hamod said the media only depicts what they want the public to know and sometimes adds to the frenzy. Anything else we need to know about the man who believes in a Zionist-controlled campaign of “media terror,” but denies the Sept. 11 hijackers were Muslim? Why, yes. Hamod not only supports the Palestinian kids throwing rocks, he actually advocates violent revolt against Capitol Hill and the White House:
Hamod said there has been no proof that any Muslim committed the acts, and said a Muslim could never have orchestrated them because of the beliefs of Islam.
Farrakhan and his Million Man and his Million Family Marches are only indicative of the anger growing in the American populace. […] He is only the harbinger of things to come -- at another time, he or someone else will call for a march, and it will not end peacefully, people will pick up stones and emulate the young Palestinian children who refuse to live a life of degradation and servitude -- so too will the Americans who have been slighted and shat upon. […] Now I understand why Sam Hamod is so twitchy about being called a “traitor.”
In America, we must also take those who fan the fires of corruption and have them prosecuted […] unless they are prosecuted, people will eventually take matters into their own hands and we'll have riots, and street trials and chaos will reign unless justice is served; justice is a hard goddess. […]
Perhaps if we educate our young to emulate the young Palestinian children, who are willing to die for a democracy, to die for an ideal, to die for human rights […]
PERHAPS THESE CHILDREN IN PALESTINE ARE THE TRULY HOLY ONES […] I APPLAUD AND I ADMIRE THEM -- you should too because they showing the courage to go forth, and they should be good examples for our children about how to clean up the mess that has overtaken our democracy in the U.S. […] If Farrakhan had more courage, he would have called for the miilion family members to take stones and throw them at the U.S. Capitol and at the White House -- to show our disdain for the corruption there […] one day, our children in the U.S. will have pick up stones to clean up our mess in the U.S.A.
12/1/2001 06:12:41 PM
Random Gloomy Thought: Had a good conversation with an anti-war/pessimist friend last night who demonstrated in Paris against the U.S. military campaign. It was interesting, and I’ll get to some of the relevant bits later, but she arrived at a pessimistic thought about media/power-concentration that stuck with me: Yes, media concentration and mono-dailies are terrible and all, but what might actually be worse is the way four huge awful companies have taken over (and ruined, in my estimation) the commercial radio dial. Her argument – people don’t need newspapers or cable teevee, but everyone needs music. I wrote a column vaguely related to this (and the Beatles, and death, and Los Angeles) back in February.
11/30/2001 12:42:30 PM
Reds and Blues: I like Michael Kelly’s little editor-notes in The Atlantic. I was about to link to the one from November – the issue I received yesterday in the mail – until I noticed on the website that the December issue is already out. Here’s a bit from Kelly’s most recent 77 North Washington Street:
One well-expressed wrong idea that has had a great run these past fifty years is the cartoonist Walt Kelly's lament "We have met the enemy and he is us." Like all the catchiest wrong ideas, this draws its strength not only from pithiness but also from a limited measure of truth. Kelly, writing in the age of Senator Joseph McCarthy, had an obvious point: the undermining of America's values and America's liberties by America's guardians against the communist threat seemed to many at least as great a danger as the threat itself. Kelly's idea also benefited from another quality necessary for longevity in the idea racket. It appealed to an inherent human desire—in this case the desire to be perverse. In the USSR the United States had an enemy that anyone could see posed a danger of the direst sort (global war, nuclear holocaust). How appealing to pretend that this giant of a menace from Them was a sort of joke (in some circles "Red Menace" made the transformation from earnest to ironic in about five minutes), and that the real enemy was Us. […]
This tendency to see the nation as populated by two peoples—one's own crowd and this other, hostile, foreign, and indeed almost unknowable tribe—has hardened over the years into something close to a permanent piece of conventional wisdom. And this view of the country, it seemed, came to enjoy received status not only in liberal America's view of conservative America but also in conservative America's view of liberal America. When Susan Sontag and Ralph Reed looked out the window, they saw essentially the same country: a society and a culture divided between right-thinking Us and scary Us as Them, with Us as a perpetually threatened perpetual minority.
11/30/2001 12:19:51 PM
Short Break: I'm busy with meetings & assorted foolishness. Thanks for all the e-mails about Bill James; I'll get back to all of you soon, and get blogging by tomorrow.
11/29/2001 03:31:10 PM
Andrew Hofer Routs Anna Quindlen: On a plane, no less. Check this out:
Put in the context of current events, how depressing was it to see Afghan citizens celebrating the end of tyranny by buying consumer electronics? NOT AT ALL DEPRESSING!! It was wonderful. It was GREAT! The whole point of ending tyranny is so that you can experience some personal freedom and opportunity. Do what you individually want to do as long as it doesn't involve oppressing each other brutally or blowing up thousands of office workers. Does she not remember that the Taliban had their own version of how people should be spending time? What is so morally inferior about Afghans consuming video media relative to, say, curling up with an Anna Quindlen bestseller? Eeyuk. I suppose in the 1780s she would have called Paul Revere's return to silver making "depressing".
11/29/2001 01:52:38 AM
Random Political Beauty: Keith Spurgeon has a thought for the overnight:
I'm a liberal, I suppose -- but basically I'm a middle of the road democrat. I don't believe in speech codes, for instance, or hate crime legislation. I do think that affirmative action isn't the horror that libertarians and conservatives make it out to be. I have long felt that affirmative action should be more focused toward economically disadvantaged individuals and it should ignore any details that are genetically generated. I think women should be able to have abortions if they want to and I think the US should be a totally secular state -- no prayers in schools. I think every terrorist who has a hand in attacking the US should be killed -- unless they surrender. Then they should be tried, and, if found guilty, they should suffer the consequences. I'm not crying for the people who rose up, after surrendering, in the fortress outside of Mazar-I-Sharif.
One thing that pisses me off about both of the extreme wings of conservatives and liberals is the denigration of people who don't agree with them.
11/29/2001 01:34:01 AM
Why They Hate Us, Etc.: From Khalid Amayreh, of what I assume is the Palestinian Times (I’m too tired to check; sue me). It’s worth a read:
I would be dishonest if I said I didn’t hate the American government. I do hate it, so really, so deeply and, yes, so rightly.
America is the tormentor of my people. It is to me, as a Palestinian, what Nazi Germany was to the Jews. America is the all-powerful devil that spreads oppression and death in my neighbourhood. How can I not hate this “great Satan,” the evil empire? Does anyone expect people to love their tormentors? […]
America is the protector, maintainer, sustainer and guarantor of despotism, dictatorship, dynastic fiefdoms, and brutal autocracies, theocracies, oligarchies and monarchies.
America is the evil power that denies my people their “freedoms and democracy.”
America is the tyrant, a global dictatorship that robs hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims of their right to freely elect their governments and rulers because corporate
America dreads the outcome of democracy in the Muslim world. […]
In fact, in the final analysis, America offers me one of two choices: Either I submissively accept perpetual enslavement and oppression…or become an Osama bin Laden. Honestly, there is not a third choice; if there is one, let us see it.
I’m not exaggerating at all, as I know that the distance between being tormented by America’s oppressive hegemony and being converted or mesmerized into bin-Ladenism is shorter and smaller than many would think, including the so-called experts in Washington.
In fact, I dare say that the first inevitably leads to the second in a straightforward cause-effect relationship.
So, please America, don’t make me an Osama bin Laden. I don’t’ want to be one; I hate to kill innocent people, for, in our religion, killing an innocent human being consigns the killer straight to hell. And I don’t want to go to hell. But I don’t want to stay in America’s hell, either.
In short, it is virtually impossible for me, as indeed is the case for most Palestinians, Arabs, or Muslims, not to hate America so much.
For me, in order not to hate America, I would have to be an imbecile, bereft of dignity, or without senses and feelings…completely numb.
Only infra-humans and quasi-beasts wouldn’t hate their evil tormentors and grave-diggers. And America is the Palestinian people’s ultimate tormentor and grave-digger, as well as the oppressor and killer of millions around the world.
The exterminators of 1.5 million Iraqi children, for the purpose of punishing one man, would never deserve to be treated well, or respected. They are despicable mass murderers of Hitler’s ilk.
I try to control my hate, because my goal is to live in love and peace […]
I also want to be free from hate, even hate for America. But I know too well that I can’t be free from the effect until I am free from the cause, and the cause is America’s greed, rapacity and hegemony.
All we want is to be left alone and allowed to live a normal life and exercise our God-given rights and freedoms…like other human beings. Is this asking for too much?
Please, America, don’t make me an Osama bin Laden.
11/29/2001 01:22:08 AM
From Our Own Correspondent, Pt. I: This has always been my favorite BBC show. When I lived far away, it would generally come on at 3 a.m., maybe replayed at 6, and I would frequently concoct fanciful dream images to accompany the soundtrack of incredibly embittered far-flung Beeb reporters spit out 10 minutes of farewell bile before wrapping up their four-year stint in Turkshittystan. Anyways, alert reader Scott Anderson points me to this installment from John Muir, describing Taliban outrages at the airbase of Shindand:
I will not even attempt to describe the horror of watching decomposed corpses being slowly unearthed, untangled and lifted out. It was simply the nastiest thing I have ever seen. It goes on and on, in grim detail.
Several dozen more bodies are still being looked for. This was all part of the legacy the Taleban left behind.
11/28/2001 10:52:50 AM
Want Content? Go Read Layne: I’m in the home-stretch of my Iraqi-sanctions monster, and will be back blorgling along tomorrow, I swear. Meanwhile, Ken’s swollen with good stuff.
11/27/2001 10:54:34 PM
Request to You Bill James Fans Out There: If you are an aficionado of Dr. Sabermetrics, please send me an e-mail. Thanks.
11/27/2001 12:36:57 PM
Worm Intelligence: The source of my weird blank e-mails? Some kind of virus/worm deal. Dan Hartung, proprietor of the fine blog Lake Effect, says:
It's known as BADTRANS.B, and it spreads via Outlook. It's a pretty nasty little one, too, because it tries to steal passwords and send them to the author. http://www.antivirus.com/vinfo/virusencyclo/default5.asp?VName=WORM_BADTRANS.B&VSect=T Steven Den Beste points me to http://www.messagelabs.com/viruseye/report.asp?id=86. Virginia Postrel volunteers http://firstname.lastname@example.org, and alert reader Steve Gerow, president of Abrazos Data Consulting, says:
The blank emails are PC viruses which are auto-sent from victims' Outlook Address Books. It’s nice to have smart readers.
11/27/2001 10:02:15 AM
I'll Say it Again -- George Soros, Give Ev Whatever Millions He Needs!: Blogger goes down for a few hours, and the Open Society becomes that much more closed....
11/26/2001 07:02:45 PM
Hitchens, Again: The old boy is letting himself express delight at the way Sept. 11 has served as a sorting mechanism for politics, and for nerve:
On examination, and to my own surprise and pleasure, it turned out be exhilaration. Here was the most frightful enemy -- theocratic barbarism -- in plain view. All my other foes, from the Christian Coalition to the Milosevic Left, were busy getting it wrong or giving it cover. Other and better people were gloomy at the prospect of confrontation. But I realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost. He gleefully discredits John Le Carre, takes a sideswipe at last year’s Democratic ticket (“Remind me, though; why should I wish that Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman were at the helm these days?”), and (surprise!) talks about cocktail parties with the governing elite:
It gave me a vertiginous feeling, to be talking with a toughened conservative who had helped organize a struggle, in wartime, for the defense of civil and political liberties and the rights of unpopular minorities. A struggle in which the liberals had lost their nerve as well as (in the cases of Alter and Dershowitz) their decency. But it's been a good season for vertiginous sensations, and the rearview mirror has never looked better to me, as it offers the unfolding prospect of garbage cans, full of wasted history, moldering on the side of the road. Via Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
11/26/2001 06:06:34 PM
E-mail Troubles: I’ve received five blank e-mails the last 36 hours with nothing but the subject line: “Re:” Posey and Betty Ann, Patrick McHugh, Chris Bond …. If you meant to send me something, please try again. If not, there’s a Blue Meanie inside your e-mail program … or is it mine?
11/26/2001 05:14:01 PM
Fine New Batch of Letters: Peter Zelchenko challenges the historical record of laissez-faire and reflects on the strategic role of oil production, the eloquent Juliana Boyd makes some terrific observations about the differences between cultural heartlanders and coastal elites; Bill Magaletta wonders why scholars have such a hard time admitting they should be objective, blog addict Ray Eckhart (the soon-to-be-publisher of SaudiWatch.com) defends Andrew Sullivan for providing inspiration, not context; and first-time caller Dean Cheng gives a hilariously accurate prediction of what the anti-war crowd will say in the face of victory. A taste:
1. US victory was assured, so this is as much a victory as running over a puppy with a Mack truck. […] Thanks for writing, everyone!
3. The consequences "prove" that it was not worth it. Since we won so handily, we'll never "know" whether sanctions, the Hague, the UN, international tribunals, or my fairy godmother could or could not have resolved the issue more peaceably. But we will "know" that hundreds, thousands, nay billions of Afghans are/were starving, and it will all be our fault.
11/26/2001 04:22:25 PM
Whoops! My Wife Got Plagiarized: Emmanuelle Richard, my darling wife, is a terrific and hard-working journalist. She writes for the ‘68er French daily Liberation, the great culture magazine Telerama, and in English for the Online Journalism Review and back in the day, Zone News. She also does regular radio work for Radio France Internationale, France Info, some Swiss network, the Quebecois now and then … she is known among my friends as perhaps the hardest working freelancer of all of us, even though she is typically paid at unliveable rates like 23 cents a word.
So it came as a particularly poignant surprise when she discovered that a version of her recent Liberation story about people in restrictive countries surreptitiously surfing the Web via e-mail reappeared two days later in the Italian daily La Repubblica, under the byline Riccardo Stagliano. Original interviews with Iranians and Canadians … cut, translated, pasted, published. Liberation, and Emmanuelle Richard, were not mentioned.
Stagliano must be some kind of rookie, right? Wrong. He writes for Le Monde Diplomatique, he’s authored a book on “Electronic Democracy”. … Just now, my seething wife is discovering evidence of Stagliano in chat rooms, urgently asking questions about easily discoverable things such as what the teevee show “Seinfeld” was about. Why is that people with full-time journalism jobs feel the need to dick over us poor folk?
11/26/2001 12:21:39 PM
New Column From Me … in Reason!: It’s about how Sept. 11 affected the political divisions … on the Right! I argue, using examples from readers and warbloggers, that the specter of confronting Islamo-fascism has helped our Republican friends get in touch with their inner libertine….
11/25/2001 08:22:16 PM
Kingsolver’s Latest: Barbara Kingsolver’s got a new bad column, this time in the Washington Post. It’s called, “Reflections On ‘Wartime.’” The lead talks about “warm socks knitted in drab colors,” and “the root of my tongue.” She claims, “There's a rush on to squash the essential liberties of others and purchase some temporary safety for ourselves.” She says that our essential freedoms “are not much in evidence.” She makes the objectively false claim that “Any spoken suggestions about alternatives to violent retaliation are likely to be called an affront against our country.” She thinks people like me (I guess) are acting in such a way that leads to the conclusion that “free speech is un-American.” She writes this amazing sentence – amazing, because it was published on Nov. 23, long after Afghan civilians have been celebrating many of the newfound freedoms that have come as the direct result of the U.S. bombing Kingsolver so bitterly opposed:
Freedom from fear, freedom from want -- these clearly aren't meant just now for the millions of Afghan civilians placed at risk of starvation because of the war. She writes, despite the evidence to the contrary:
As our war drives a population into refugee status, immense waves of new recruits are entering schools in Pakistan and other places where young men train to a lifelong vow of vengeance against America. That the war in Afghanistan has actually allowed refugees to return, or that anti-American demonstrations across the Arab world have fizzled out in the face of Al Qaeda’s humiliating defeat, has absolutely no effect on Kingsolver’s sad and certain view of the universe. She glorifies the eloquent humanitarian impulses of FDR, while exaggerating the savage barbarity of George Bush, brushing past the inconvenient fact that FDR locked up tens of thousands of Japanese Americans, while Dubya has made roughly 134 pleas to make nice with our Muslim and Arab buddies at home. She writes some melodramatic chuff about “I am the parent tonight in that darkened bedroom, with my knuckle to my mouth as I look at these children.” Next person who claims that pacifists, leftists, feminists or anti-war activists are not represented in the mainstream press, should be forced to read every bad Barbara Kingsolver column since Sept. 11, for 24 hours straight.
11/25/2001 03:13:28 PM
Wishful Thinking on ‘New Life for Progressivism’: Nation Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and Wisconsin-Madison Professor Joel Rogers co-write a curious column today about how Sept. 11 is supposed to bring about that long-promised “revival” of the the Progressive Movement. I’m interested in their flawed assumptions, and unintentional snobbery. For an example of the first concept:
This war is about securing the "open society" that terrorism threatens -- a society in which individual and corporate freedoms, resting on secure property rights, can be exercised worldwide without restraint. Wh-a-a-a-t? I’ve got nothing against “secure property rights,” mind you (apparently unlike my Progressive pals), but wasn’t this war more directly concerned with preventing any more lunatics from blowing up our buildings, regardless of the differing worldwide levels of market regulation? This sentence, I think, reflects the degree to which the Far Left has become fixated on seeing the world only in terms of unrestrained corporations, which they (of course) loathe.
The left … has been most visible for opposing the corporate domination that naturally flows from such rules. Again, the fixation, flowing “naturally” from a flawed, fixated assumption.
War raises the stakes in politics and invites consideration of wider goals, including justice. I wish I could oversee a rhetorical decommissioning by which Progressives trade in the word “justice,” and Conservatives put down “Rule of Law.” These are now too vague and inopposable – who isn’t for justice and the rule of law? If “justice” means “forcing Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories and recognize an independent Palestine,” or “providing universal health care in America,” or “paying reparations for slavery,” then just say so, already.
Ooooh! Here’s a choice Straw Man argument:
All this shifts the playing field of political debate away from those who counsel "let's leave it to the market or the military" as the answer to all human concerns. Sheesh! I had no idea that defense-hawk Libertarians had become so prominent! Strangely, not even the U.S. military considers it smart to leave "all human concerns" to the military. Here’s a quote from a recent letter to the editor by Col. Richard Downie of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (the former dreaded “School of the Americas”):
Our mission focuses on the promotion of democratic values such as the advancement of human rights, the rule of law and respect for civilian authority. The institute's programs, augmented by civilian professors, teach the same information taught in other U.S. military and government schools, except the institute offers the most extensive human rights training of any school in the Department of Defense. My staff and I ensure that our students understand the appropriate role of the military and law enforcement in democratic societies, which is to protect and honorably serve their citizens. Emphases mine. Also, the authors might reflect that even the most Thatcherite of governments acknowledge that there are non-military “non-market goods” that the government must provide. Ayn Rand hasn’t taken over the debate just yet. Here’s some more vague blather:
Those who believe in social justice and shared democratic effort in problem solving, by contrast, seem onto something important and even admirable. I’d say they’re “onto something vague and even counter-productive,” but then I’m an awful Leftist. I’d like universal health insurance, too, it turns out, and an end to a Drug War that is legislated and enforced in a discriminatory way. But I don’t know if I can sign on to “shared democratic effort in problem solving,” because I have no earthly idea what that means. Here’s a particularly revealing paragraph:
On Sept. 11 the public saw terrorists flying into buildings to kill innocents -- most of them ordinary workers, many of them foreign-born. It saw public servants running in to save them, freely sacrificing their own lives in doing so. It was not private corporations that lined up afterward to find the dead and comfort the families, but volunteer workers, more public servants, and nonprofits of all kinds. What, finally, is an “ordinary worker,” and why do the decidedly “unordinary” writers of the Left insist on fetishizing them, even while failing utterly to understand most of them? Is there something inherently more noble in being a janitor, say, than working for Cantor Fitzgerald? Note, too, the slur on “private corporations,” who, despite unerring hostility from the vanden Heuvels of the world, have raised hundreds of millions for the various relief funds. I would also point out that Sept. 11 made many on the Left rediscover their respect for firefighters and cops.
They then go on to make the case that the new trust in government means that Big Government and Federalization are back. Maybe; I tend to doubt it, but whatever. I’m more interested in the verbal gymnastics of describing how the Progressive Movement may finally be “virtually invited to reenter mainstream politics.”
The real question today is whether progressives have the wit and collective will to accept that invitation. Doing so will require us to affirm our values in ways understood and respected by ordinary Americans … If those damned dullards could just be educated, no doubt!
We have largely hidden from our values, missing opportunities to state them in publicly understood terms of opportunity, fair dealing and responsibility. I know she’s actually taunting the Left here, and not “ordinary Americans,” but this whole “publicly understood terms” reveals an elitist conceit – that Progressives are right about things, but just lack the translation skills to make it play in Peoria.
Our organizational divisions have obscured our fundamental shared agenda -- to build a high-road economy of shared prosperity, to protect and repair the environment, to fix our broken system of campaign finance and voting, to seek peace through sustainable development, not just military threat, and to provide universal access to quality health care, education and housing. Anyone who has suffered through a Progressive rally or anti-globalization protest knows too well about those “organizational divisions” – sure is hard to corral a “movement” whose most vocal members are obsessed with Mumia, Fidel, Mao and Jose Bove. Maybe that’s why you have to use such literally meaningless phrases as “high-road economy of shared prosperity,” or such mixed-cliché numbers as “peace through sustainable development.” I would argue that wooing “ordinary Americans” depends somewhat on presenting a program in coherent language. And lest you think my elitism charges are mean and exaggerated, let’s look at the optimistic conclusion:
Far from losing faith or withdrawing from politics, American progressives should assert their public presence more forcibly than they have in a generation, rededicating themselves to practically advancing America's democratic promise and acting with renewed confidence that the American people, given half a chance, are prepared to help in that good work. Italics mine. If we finally remove the shackles from their eyes, they will see the error of their ways! Blech. My prediction: The Green Party won’t get even 1% of the vote in 2004. The Hitchens-Chomsky rift will not be forgotten, at least by the Hitchensians. Knee-jerk anti-Americanism, anti-globalization and anti-fact-checking will continue to be exposed and condemned, mercilessly, by that growing part of the Left that no longer finds it funny. Granted, this is all my wishful thinking, but at least it doesn’t depend on some insulting theory about the stupidity of my fellow citizens.
11/25/2001 01:27:37 PM
Bush’s Wrong-headed Executive Order on Archives: I haven’t followed this issue closely, but it struck me as wrong at the time, and nothing I’ve heard since convinces me otherwise. The government has a long and basically uninterrupted history of blocking access to files for reasons of inconvenience, even while invoking reasons of National Security. Anyone who has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to a federal government agency, or read John Lennon’s FBI file, knows this. This L.A. Times column by presidential historian Robert Dallek says it well:
The principal victim of Bush's directive will be himself and the country. The order will inhibit independent study of the Reagan and first Bush presidencies and will impoverish the White House's ability to make difficult decisions in both domestic and foreign affairs during the next three years. The more the country knows about presidential decision-making, the better it can decide who to send to the White House. The study and publication of our presidential history is no luxury or form of public entertainment. It is a vital element in assuring the best governance of our democracy. Congress should reverse Bush's order as a destructive act that return us to an imperial presidency and robs us of our history. To which I would only add, few eras of unsealed presidential documents will prove as illuminating (to me, at least), as the Reagan/Bush period of fighting Communism, whether clumsily, illegally or brilliantly. I daresay such files would have terrific use in today's Propaganda War, since it would remind everyone that A) the U.S. was on the right side of the Cold War, helping to liberate hundreds of millions, and B) even where the country acted horribly, you can always say "Hey look! We've improved, especially now that the Evil Empire is no more!" This looks all the world like Dubya trying to protect his Dad, which is an unseemly misuse of the national interest.
11/25/2001 11:50:38 AM
Promising Moment for Mideast Peace?: That’s what William Schneider argues, in a typically sensible column in today’s L.A. Times:
When Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S., Europe, Russia and most Arab and Muslim countries all find themselves on the same side in the war on terrorism, that's something new. When they also all feel a need to pursue a policy of balance and restraint in the Middle East, it's no small thing. Something very big had to happen to put the Middle East peace process back in motion. It did. On Sept. 11.
11/25/2001 11:41:52 AM
800 Escaped Taliban Revolt; 1 American Dead, Time Reporter Says: Apparently, the captured Taliban went berserk when being interviewed by a Guardian reporter, who they then beat bloody. According to this interview with the Time correspondent, a dozen or so U.S. and British Special Forces are guiding in airstrikes, coordinating Northern Alliance tank fire, and attempting to kill all 800 prisoners.... UPDATE: From the AP story:
The Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Dan Stoneking, confirmed that some U.S. special forces were in the compound when the fighting broke out, and said "it appears all U.S. personnel are accounted for" and believed safe. The fighting is apparently over.
11/25/2001 11:18:03 AM
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