Posts from May 2003

DNC GPA

DNC GPA
: Martin Devon at Patio Pundit grades the Presidential candidates’ sites.

Iraq, Iran, Israel

Iraq, Iran, Israel
: During the imprisonment of Iranian blogger Sina Motallebi, I linked frequently to Pedram Moallemian at Eyranian because he started the petition to free Motallebi (he also started a petition to “stop the hate” when he saw Nazi references on some Persian weblogs). He is one of a now-large group of Iranian bloggers I read daily and hope to get to know under the Tony Pierce dictum (below).

Lately when I’ve read and linked to Pedram’s blog I’ve had a twinge of difficulty as he, more and more, makes anti-Israeli asides. On one level, of course, I accept that; everyone’s entitled to an opinion, including opinions critical of Israel.

But two things have troubled me.

Today, Pedram takes me to task as a “member of the far right end of the political spectrum” (ha!) because I attack Yasser Arafat over his halfway condemnation — and thus, halfway endorsement — of suicide bombers. Arafat has murdered civilians and used his own people — his own youth, for God’s sake — as weapons, as human bombs. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, Pedram, and mine is that Arafat is slime.

More often, Pedram attributes U.S. actions regarding Iraq — and more to his point, regarding Iran today — to the work of “the pro-Israeli group in Washington DC” and “hard-line American Jews.”

Pedram, not everything is about Israel. Not everything is about the U.S. What this is about, in the end, is local issues of freedom and human rights and democracy and responsibility.

As for Iraq: No matter how and why we got there, no one can regret the disposal of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. That was vital for Iraqis, not Americans, not Israelis, but Iraqis.

As for Iran: I don’t want to see us inserting ourselves into Iran, considering our troubled history there. But you want to see change, there, Pedram, for you you are involved with opposition groups. There is ample reason for change. And it is best if it occurs from within. This is not Israel’s issue. I hope it does not become America’s issue. It is Iran’s issue.

I say all this in an effort to keep the dialogue going here in the Blogosphere. I’ve been excited to see bridges being built from person to person, country to country, culture to culture and I don’t want to see them blocked and bombed through glib assumption and accusation. We’re going to disagree; in fact, disagreeing is the best thing we can do so long as we keep on talking. So I’ll keep on disagreeing with Pedram and keep on linking to him.

Changing the world

Changing the world
: With a paragraph’s worth of clarity (next to a picture of a smart and pretty young women who has a weblog) Tony Pierce says it all:

this is the first time in mankind that people from all over the world, completely different people, can tell each other what its like to live where they live and do the things that they do.

why hold back?

Dateline

Dateline
: NEW YORK — Well, actually, New Jersey, but who’ll notice? You can’t fire me! It’s only a blog. Only I can fire me.

Anyway, following up on the latest NY Times scandal, the dateline caper, in which a prize-winning reporter gets sent to detention for not staying long enough at the place from which he dateslines his story…

I know of at least one big newspaper in this country where datelines are meaningless: Rewritemen took the wires and whatever else was handy and wrote stories under datelines as well as their bylines without ever leaving the desk. I was a bit surprised when I first saw this, but it was SOP.

Curves

Curves
: Gail Armstrong’s verse on the seven ages of breasts.

My avatar can beat up your avatar

My avatar can beat up your avatar
: From MTV Europe comes a wonderfully stupid bit of Flash: Digital Protest, in which you can launch a stupid protest and people’s avatars will join you on the picket line with their stupid signs. Among the causes: Bring back the 80s… Bush sux… Burn the SUVs… Computers is bad… Hate McDonalds… No more frozen pizza!… Smash capitalism!…

Homeland security comes home

Homeland security comes home
: Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin on the aftermath of the law-school bombing:

…a group of agents from the FBI and ATF came to my house Thursday evening. This was my second interview of the day. They were utterly professional and polite. They did their jobs incredibly well. But the first words out of their mouths threw me for a loop.

“Professor, we’d like to ask you about some of your writings…..”

For a second, just for a second, I thought: “Oh my God, John Ashcroft has finally sent them to round me up for all those anti-Bush op-eds I’ve written.”

And sure enough, one of the agents put a folder on the table in front of me containing a copy of all my recent op-eds, downloaded from the Internet and neatly printed out.

It quickly became clear what was going on. They wanted to know if anything I had written might have enraged someone enough that the person might consider taking his or her frustrations out on the Law School. They asked me which of my recent op-eds had gotten the most virulent responses. They didn’t seem to know about my blog, or indeed, about blogs in general (although perhaps they were just playing possum). I explained what a blog is and how it changes the audience for political writing, how the Internet changes the group of people who can react to what you are saying. They asked for an example, and I mentioned how one of my op-eds criticizing Bush had been picked up by the conservative site NewsMax and distributed to their readers by e-mail and on the Web as part of a special “Insider’s Report.” The idea, apparently, was to stoke up some resentment at what NewsMax called the “most demonic form” of the liberal academy, an “Elitist Yale Law Professor.”

Losers

Losers
: A former adviser to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl — getting ready for the next campaign, clearly — says Germany blew it:

Despite the announcement of plans to create a European army along with France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, Germany is less relevant in both European and world politics than it was before the Iraq war. Repairing the damage will not be easy. Every part of Germany’s international position has been wounded by the Iraq war.