Posts from January 26, 2005

Fighting freedom

Fighting freedom

: John Podhoretz looks at the election in Iraq through the evil eyes of our enemy — yes, the enemy — there:

…once a legitimately elected Iraqi assembly is seated, the insurgents will have no argument left with which to advance their cause

Numbers

Numbers

: The toll from the tsunami has now passed 228,000.

Numbers

Numbers

: 37 Americans died in Iraq today, 31 of them in an accidental helicopter crash. We pay more attention when more people die. That’s ridiculous, even offensive. Others died yesterday and the day before. Some died in accidents, some at the hand of insurgents/terrorists/murderers. None of them should have died, of course. Some try to blame the president for these deaths; too few blame the murderers with blood on their hands. Blame won’t bring them back, nothing will. But it is important that we at least remember them and their tragic sacrifice as we reach an important milestone this Sunday with the first election in Iraq. I don’t know that I believe that death can be given meaning but if it can, bringing democracy to a nation is a noble cause. It is also important that we remember all the innocent civilians who have died at the hands of Saddam and now the terrorists in Iraq and as a result of war. The people of Iraq will be risking their lives this Sunday to bring democracy to their nation; the soldiers there will be risking their lives to protect them. Democracy is that precious.

Evil cartoon bunnies strike again

Evil cartoon bunnies strike again

: Hoo-boy. Washington, big media, and, of course, those wacky religious folks keep thinking that cartoon characters can ruin our morals. The latest silliness:

The nation

On MSBNC

On MSBNC

: I’ll be on MSNBC with Ron Reagan, Monica Crowley, and Eric Alterman today at 12:30p ET (delayed by Condi) to talk about the Iraqi elections and blogs.

: LATER: Alterman spewed tin-hat insinuations about pro-American blogs in Iraq with absolutely no basis in fact, no journalistic justification whatsoever . I said he was being irresponsible. That’s the light version.

: MORE: As of now, I’ll be back on MSNBC this Sunday, covering blogs’ coverage of the Iraqi election from 6a-noon and again from 5-6p ET.

Policy or palaver?:

Policy or palaver?
:

: I applauded what George Bush said about supporting democratic movements and setting a goal and a mission of spreading freedom in the world.

I said so on Air America’s Morning Sedition yesterday — though I also quoted Zephyr Teachout when she told me that she liked what Bush said but wasn’t sure he was the president to do it.

Still, this seemed to be a speech with vision, a doctrine with courage. I was eager to see how he carried it out with North Korea, Saudi Arabia… you name the undemocratic nation.

Yet already, there’s spin from the White House — the kind of spin you see when somebody tries to pedal backwards. Howard Kurtz captures it:

You might think that calling on the United States to spread freedom around the globe and stand against tyranny might have consequences.

It was a statement of ideals.

But what does the president plan to do to carry out those ideals?

There will be no change in administration policy.

But how can Bush call for action against regimes that oppress their people and still do business with the dictators of China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

The goals the president set forth can only be met over a generation, not in a year or two.

Then was the speech just meaningless rhetoric?

It was an attempt to lay out his strategic vision about moral choices.

So we shouldn’t take his words seriously?

The president believes in bold action to advance the cause of freedom.

But if he doesn’t take any practical steps, won’t he have failed to clear the bar he set for himself?

It was a statement of ideals.

And what are you going to do about it?

: UPDATE: Zephyr clarifies/amplifies in the comments:

I wasn’t nearly as optimistic as you. More precisely, I said I agreed with the spirit and goals and content of most of the speech, the kind of international, civic democratic focus that I’d like to see our country do more of — but Bush was EXACTLY the wrong person to give it. Postmodern the way CLEAR SKIES is postmodern — and then these postmodern responses reinforce it. Uggh.

Homeless

Homeless

: The New York Post and The New York Times editorial pages almost agree that the homless should not be making the New York subway their home after a fire apparently started by one of them caused damage and disruption that will take months or even years to fix. The Post started it in an editorial:

Let’s face it: Some subway-station bum starts a fire, probably to warm his tootsies, and subway riders suffer for years.

He’s culpable, of course, even if he is crazy as a loon.

But blame for this fiasco also must accrue to those who have made the notion that “homelessness” is just an “alternative lifestyle” into public policy

Damned ice dam

Damned ice dam

: I just spent the last two nights on a roof banging at ice-filled gutters on the roof above because ice is backing up under the roof and melting and dripping and driving us crazy: Jersey water torture. I hate heights. So I feared falling; I feared huge hunks of ice and gutter falling on my head; and because I fear looking like a dork, I refused my wife’s suggestion that I wear a bike helmet. And now it’s snowing again. Call me when winter’s over.

Should I consider a metal roof?