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12.02.2004

Anticipation

I see that Ramesh Ponnuru agrees with my appraisal of Beinart's New Republic piece.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg also liked it. Both Ponnuru and Goldberg are realistic about the difficulty the Democrats will have becoming the party Beinart describes. And I have to agree with them.

-D. Brown
vanden Heuvel: Uncanny

By way of contrast, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel clears her lungs and offers this charming bit of sputum:
But while Ridge made us feel less secure at home, Donald Rumsfeld and his fellow Chicken Hawks actually did make us less secure abroad with a "fight them over there" strategy that has worked all too well. Two years, 150,000 soldiers, and tens of thousands of American and Iraqi lives later, and we have yet to secure Baghdad's airport road. Each month the number of casualties rises. November was the worst of the entire war.

What was sold as an easy battle in our latest War On An Abstract Concept has become another dreaded "quagmire"--a black hole for American prestige, treasure and blood. This is tragedy replaying itself as farce. And we have the men who avoided service in Vietnam to thank.
If vanden Heuvel would prefer to call it the War on Militant Islam, we can accomodate her.

-D. Brown



Beinart: Canny

Peter Beinart of The New Republic does some soul-searching about the future of American liberalism. I like Beinart and his magazine. Almost he persuadest me. Almost. He opens with a stark assessment of the left's response to the terrorist threat:
Today, three years after September 11 brought the United States face-to-face with a new totalitarian threat, liberalism has still not "been fundamentally reshaped" by the experience. On the right, a "historical re-education" has indeed occurred--replacing the isolationism of the Gingrich Congress with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's near-theological faith in the transformative capacity of U.S. military might. But American liberalism, as defined by its activist organizations, remains largely what it was in the 1990s--a collection of domestic interests and concerns. On health care, gay rights, and the environment, there is a positive vision, articulated with passion. But there is little liberal passion to win the struggle against Al Qaeda--even though totalitarian Islam has killed thousands of Americans and aims to kill millions; and even though, if it gained power, its efforts to force every aspect of life into conformity with a barbaric interpretation of Islam would reign terror upon women, religious minorities, and anyone in the Muslim world with a thirst for modernity or freedom.
He compares this to the left's response to the communist threat during the Cold War. (Yes, Katrina, there was a communist threat.) While he underplays the ignoble aspect of the American left's involvement with Soviet communism (which stretches from, say, 1917 to, oh, 1989) he correctly sets Schlesinger, Galbraith, and other anti-communist liberals as the model for their ideological descendants.

He deals harshly with the left's failure to distance itself from dimwits like Michael Moore and organizations like Moveon.org. Case in point:
What they do not recognize, or do not acknowledge, is that Moore does not oppose Bush's policies because he thinks they fail to effectively address the terrorist threat; he does not believe there is a terrorist threat. For Moore, terrorism is an opiate whipped up by corporate bosses. In Dude, Where's My Country?, he says it plainly: "There is no terrorist threat." And he wonders, "Why has our government gone to such absurd lengths to convince us our lives are in danger?"
Rejecting the stupid elements within your own camp is the only way for American libeerals to rejoin rational society. Or, in Beinart's words:
The recognition that liberals face an external enemy more grave, and more illiberal, than George W. Bush should be the litmus test of a decent left.
Do read the whole thing. Registration is required, but don't worry, even though registering will put you on a terrorist watchlist, Ashcroft and his thugs are really quite polite. They wipe off their boots on the mat before they stomp on a human face, forever.

-D. Brown

12.01.2004

I Hope You Can See This, Because I'm Doing It As Hard As I Can

Today's edition of The Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel's occasional wheeze at The Nation, is typical. Apparently the editor of America's Best Communist Weekly didn't recognize the regrettable irony of this opening:
A Russian friend once said to me, "You Americans are an odd people. You love our liberals, but you don't like your own liberals." He added, "You should support your local liberals too."
If this makes sense to you, you are from the Moon. To be momentarily peremptory, if you can't distinguish between an American liberal and a Russian one, you have no business writing about either. Of course, one pities vanden Heuvel's Russian friend, since a lifetime spent under Soviet communism would tend to soften the brain. For vanden Heuvel, only contempt. Wordless, astonished contempt.

The next two paragraphs are rich:
My friend's words came to mind this past week as I watched the extraordinary street protests in Ukraine. Anyone who cares about citizens fighting corrupt regimes can't help but be moved by scenes of thousands of demonstrators, many of them students, standing for hours in Kiev's Independence Square in sub-zero temperatures--waving banners, chanting and protesting what they believe is a rigged election.

When the Bush Administration rushed to celebrate the protesters' courage and tenacity, I thought--what rank hypocrisy. These same officials have shown no respect for American pro-democracy protesters, and, if they have their way, they'll probably lock their political opponents out of central Washington when Inauguration Day rolls around.
Then the piece gets tedious. A bit about how Bush has stolen two elections. Questioning the authenticity of the protests because they have had American support. Read it for yourself. And then remind yourself that she has used the term "pro-democracy" to describe protestors whose core agenda enjoy so little support that they have to get 300 discrete causes together to have a 600-person protest. On one hand you have people who refuse to be defrauded in an election and on the other people who wish to impose an unpopular agenda on an unwilling majority, and will break every Starbucks window in the country if that's what it takes. And to Katrina vanden Heuvel they're all pro-democracy protestors. To paraphrase Bill Guarnere in Band of Brothers: We've got an editor with her head so far up her [obscenity] ass that lump in her throat is her [profanity] nose.

-D. Brown
Let's Riff Again

Lileks writes:
Went to Sam’s Club, where the clerk made the fatal mistake of telling me I did not need to show my card to shop at the liquor annex. “Anyone can shop here,” she said. “Thank you!” I said, ecstatic at the thought that my membership would lapse and I would never again feel compelled to trawl the halls of the Sam’s Club itself, wondering if I should take advantage on these great deals – hey, Chicken Soup in 32-gallon drums. Stock up! No, I can just drop by every other week and stand in amazement: one liter of Maker’s Mark for twenty dollars.

Cheaper than ink. There’s something wrong here. Something very wrong.

Now, taking on the mighty Lileks (whose name I have always instinctively pronounced correctly) is far from my intention. Especially on life-is-good themes, Lileks reigns supreme. But there's something wrong here? Is there? From where I'm sitting (desk at work), pixels are free and passable bourbon is two cents a milliliter. Life is good.

Although it feels like biting down on aluminum foil to measure bourbon in milliliters. Alcohol, it seems, should come in traditional measurements. Wine I would except from this requirement, since France, home of the great wines, was invented in order that metric would always have a home. But beer comes in pints, and bourbon in ounces or, if you would have my love, fingers.

-D. Brown

11.30.2004

Is Turnabout Fair Play?

The Corner at National Review Online is always lively reading, but occasionally it yields a gem like this:



Read the explanation that follows. And here's my question: granted that 1. Horowitz is not a racist and (ad argumentum) that 2. The title of Franken's recent book ought to have been saved for his autobiography, is Horowitz's response justified? And, if justified, wise?

The answer to both is, I think, no.

Not justified because Mom happened to be telling the truth when she said that two wrongs don't make a right. Not wise because to use Franken's slanderous technique implies a parity between Franken and Horowitz that is not there and which works only to Horowitz's detriment. DH should take probably just go with his initial reaction and let it go. Or, if he must, superimpose "Lying Liar" over Franken's photo, which would have at least the advantage of being true.

-D. Brown

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