Biting the Hand That Feeds: Nick Denton, who is about to pay me a few scheckels (er, "shekels," as he just corrected me) to talk to his Berkeley class, says this today:
And now the political weblogs - at least the ones to which we all link - have become monotously hawkish. Not the Jerry Falwell conservative, of course. But yelling talk-radio poor-are-lazy Clinton-is-evil fuck-the-Saudis fuck-the-Europeans fuck-everybody conservatives. They make me feel like a bleeding-heart liberal, which is quite an achievement. Where are the liberal weblogs? Okay, let me rephrase that: where are the well-written liberal weblogs?I won't speak to my own writing abilities, but to answer his question, which has been asked before: I'm a liberal. I take liberalism to mean a belief in policy geared toward easing poverty, extending rights to every walking human who hasn't utterly forfeited them, getting the government out of the morality business, regulating markets judiciously, ensuring the pervasive yet hopefully efficient delivery of non-market goods such as education, health care and national defense, and otherwise having the sense to let the private sector handle private concerns. What makes me not "liberal" in the way that people who call themselves "progressives" are seen as "liberal," is that I don't think the U.S. is the primary fount of global wickedness, I am heartily in favor of the war against Al-Qaeda, I believe free trade and exchange is an excellent method for reducing poverty and staving off war, and I don't mind getting good advice from people who don't vote Democrat or Green. This, to me, is consistent with "liberalism" (it's also probably consistent with Denton's beliefs); others may disagree. What I think? We have allowed ideologues to hijack the word "liberal," and we have become lazy enough ourselves to confuse common-sense support for a just war with creeping Republicanism.
I don't know what the hell we should do in Iraq, though I'm rooting for an elegant sanctions-for-real-weapons-inspections deal. I detest Ariel Sharon (and Yasser Arafat), am sickened by the war there, and if someone put me in charge of the Final Treaty it would involve telling Israeli settlers to pack up and get the hell out (in addition to free Palestinian elections, and real security guarantees for Israel). Yeah, the let's-invade-everybody plan seems a tad ridiculous to me, but I'm not exactly coming up with better solutions. Does this make me "monstrously hawkish," Nick?
A final note about the Dentonoid's absurd campaign to criticize bloggers for what they don't write about enough (for his tastes) on their sites: I see here he's made a list of his brave anti-tariff writings ... since November 2001. Not bad, Nick! But where were you, in 2000, when Al Gore lurched leftward on trade during his Democratic Convention acceptance speech? Me, I was at the convention, writing critically about it for a left-wing audience at WorkingForChange.com. What about later that fall, when Ralph Nader was packing arenas with fiery anti-trade speeches? Did you follow him around for days on end, trying to nail down his vague positions on trade, immigration and foreign policy? Did you write multiple columns in 2000-2001 arguing for trade to an anti-trade audience, and taking on the Left's favorite economist for suggesting that stock trading was no better than gambling? What, exactly, were you doing back then, as the forces of Seattle gathered, and fast-track authority languished forgotten, except by the editors of Reason and The Economist?
Oh yeah. You were running an Internet company. Trying to strike it rich.
There is no logical conclusion to the how-come-you-didn't-write-about-that? game, except to waste everybody's time with political paranoia and divined motivations. Some of us turned down Internet jobs, Nick, because we wanted to continue to engage with and write about issues that interested us, rather than provide business information to a rich, niche audience. I don't at all disparage your choice (especially since what you were doing was fascinating & entrepreneurial, not just some job writing about office furniture for an office-furniture dot-com), but in return I ask you to respect mine, and to understand that a free website by a poor writer maybe ought to be judged a little differently than a twice-a-week column by a syndicated economist.Posted by at March 11, 2002 11:38 AM