Posts from May 3, 2003

Birds of a feather stick together

Birds of a feather stick together
: Andrew Sullivan is so frigging predictable. I stopped reading him through the war. Just tried starting again. But he’s as precitable as Oprah. Boring.

When William Bennett, right-wing moralizer, is questioned for his $8-million gambling habit, Sullivan leaps to the defense of a fellow Republican:

He has done nothing hypocritical. Only in the minds of a few religious fanatics, has he done anything immoral.

Oh, come on. The guy was caught with his pants down and his wallet in them. He preaches moderation as a virtue. Immoderation would then be… oh, what?… a sin?

That wouldn’t be newsworthy in the slightest, Andrew, except that this moralizer preached to all the rest of us what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

Preach in glass houses….

Obviously, the U.S. should have protected the cafeteria

Obviously, the U.S. should have protected the cafeteria
: U.N. diplomats loot their lunchroom.

I’m sick of Scott Peterson on cable news…

I’m sick of Scott Peterson on cable news…
: … it’s enough to make me wish for another war.

Touchy designers

Touchy designers
: I wish I could use Michele’s excuse:

Obviously, I am working on the site, as I always do when I am PMS.

The blogroll is on hiatus for the day as I weed it out, fix it up and piss some people off.

Such is life.

And if you don’t like the new logo or the tagline or the colors –

Bite Me.

Political snobbery

Political snobbery
: I’ve been searching and searching for the reason that the left has lost so much of its humanistic compassion, that it came to care more about “my name” (and not doing anything in my name) than about the freedom of the Iraqi people. And I fear I’ve found the reason:

The left has become a movement of snobs (taking that title away from the right).

This occurred to me today as I listened to one of my favorite radio shows, Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360. I respect Andersen and usually agree with him but today, I say he overdid it when he said:

And what has been the first huge, terrible misstep of this American war intended to begin the restoration of civilized values in Iraq?

Our failure to protect the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. We all know what happened: looters stole thousands of precious and irreplaceable statuary and vases and cups and architectural fragments from the ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian and Assyrian cultures.

That is, we failed to safeguard some of the most precious artifacts of civilization itself.

It would be hard to dream up an irony more tragic than this.

Oh, I could dream up a crueler irony quite easily: Imagine if more of our soldiers had died because they were spread thin covering the museum. Imagine if looters had been killed by coalition forces protecting the vaults. Imagine the outcry that, too, would have brought.

In fairness, I’ll bet Andersen recorded his commentary before the NY Times admitted this week that the number of items known lost is 29, not 170,000 (and that some of the items lifted came from the gift shop).

Still this rallying cry over museum pieces, primarily from the left and antiwar Europe, reveals an attitude that, to me, clearly indicates the favoring of things — and ideas — over people. Given the choice of protecting our soldiers and others by not spreading them thin, I’ll take people. Given the choice of invading Iraq and freeing its people or not, I’ll take freedom. But not the left (and Old Europe).

The left got up-in-arms not about the lives and safety of our soldiers and not about the freedom of Iraqis but about a bunch of museum pieces. Things. I don’t care how damned precious they are, they’re still just things. Any single human life is more precious than the lot of them.

I would have expected just the opposite from my fellow liberals. I would have expected the utmost human compassion and defense.

But the sad fact is that liberals have become snobs.

When I grew up, conservatives were the snobs: They ran the companies. They were white. They were privileged. They were educated. They were members of the exclusive society. Country club culture.

But today, liberals are the snobbier lot. They control the academe. They scold or exclude people based on sins of offensiveness, saying the wrong thing, thinking the wrong thing: political incorrectness. When I was a TV critic, I had to suffer so many of my fellow travelers who insisted that they watched only public television, not the grungy popular TV the rest of America and I liked. PBS culture.

Their cultural snobbery extends even to Iraq’s museums.

The sad fact of it is that the left has lost — or abandoned — the masses.

The left used to defend the people against the elite but now they are the elite.

The left used to speak with the voice of the people but now the people have FoxNews and the New York Post.

When they weren’t looking, Rupert Murdoch came and stole the media masses away from the left. And if they’re not careful, if they don’t remember their roots and their raison d’etre, liberalism will lose its political legitimacy the same way.

Those roots should lead them — no, us, my fellow liberals — to fight for the rights of the Iraqi people and to put that above the value of museum pieces behind glass (not to mention rights to health insurance for Americans and quality education and … well, you get the idea).

I’ll be listening to tonight’s Democratic debate to see whether I hear the words of liberalism, whether I hear a voice of the people again.

Rule by fanaticism

Rule by fanaticism
: This is why we cannot allow a religious tyranny to replace the secular tyranny in Iraq:

Preaching to tens of thousands worshippers at the Qadhimaya mosque in northern Baghdad, Sheikh Mohammed al-Tabatabi said: “The west calls for freedom and liberty. Islam is not calling for this. Islam rejects such liberty. True liberty is obedience to God and to be liberated from desires. The dangers we should anticipate in coming days is the danger to our religion from the west trying to spread pornographic magazines and channels.”

Under Saddam, Iraq was a secular society. Women had equal rights with men and freedom to dress in western clothes. It was more lax than many of its neighbours about alcohol.

But Sheikh Tabatabi said: “We will not allow shops to sell alcohol and we ask for the closure of all such places and we ask you to use every available means to bring this about.”

He added that women should not be allowed to wander unveiled around Qadhimaya City.

You heard the man: They reject liberty.

Democracy is synonymous with liberty. Human rights, too, are synonymous with liberty. The choice of leadership and law must remain at all times in the hands of the people. If the choice of leadership and law is in the hands of the leaders then that is not democracy or freedom or liberty, it is, by definition, tyranny. And you cannot convince me that any people will willingly choose tyranny.

: See, too, this interesting blog post by Iman. An Iranian, Iman argues that Iranians are racist (Persians v. Arabs) as Arabs are racist (Arabs v. Persians). It’s a complicated neighborhood, that.

The post also touches on some jealousy and jousting that will occur between Shiite clerics in Iraq, which houses the most holy sites of that large slice of Islam, and the clerics of Iran, where Shia leadership migrated because of Saddam’s persecution.

And then it observes:

…an important problem is that Shia clerics mostly are conservative and do not like to involve any political affairs….

They are suspicious about western style democratic governments. Maybe it has different meaning for them like sexual freedom, selling alcohol in shops and the like. History shows that they have had better relationship with dictator kings in compare to elected government.

Lo-Jack for hikers

Lo-Jack for hikers
: I have a slightly different take on the story of the hiker who had to hack off his own arm with a pocketknife to free himself from a boulder.

Yes, of course, it’s a story of amazing courage and fortitude and of the human will to live.

But I’m also getting tired of stories of hikers who get themselves in trouble in the wilderness and then expect that it is their right to be rescued at public expense and at the rescuers’ risk. Remember the story of the rescue chopper that crashed on a mountain about a year ago.

So I have a humble proposal: Require hikers and natureboys and girls to carry human Lo-Jacks: If you get in trouble, you activate it and you can be found precisely. Otherwise, you’re on your own.

It may not be a bad idea to implant them in all human beings. Then we wouldn’t have to listen to the emotional voyeurism on Today about the tragedies of Laci Peterson and Tristen “Buddy” Meyers.