Thursday, May 24, 2007
AEI Hawk with Funny Name: Iran hates diplomacy, except when they try to negotiate with the US, but ignore that; We have a war to start!
A. Iran is being really awful by holding Iranian-American scholar and advocate HalehEsfandiari in prison as a political prisoner
B. This shows that the Iranian leadership are a bunch of pricks who don't want to negotiate or be engaged diplomatically
and C. The implicit message, which seems a tad explicit at the end - it will remain clear that the regime understands nothing other than brute force. - aka, in the song of McCain, Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran
Now, being a young whippersnapper, I'll probably look like a fool challenging Gerecht, who despite being something of a superhawk, is uber qualified to talk about the Middle East and Iran. So, I won't go into the minutiae of his article, seeing as I do not know as much about the inner workings or history of the Iranian regime. He does, however, make a key omission. This omission, however, is a deliberate, misleading act of commission, seeing as he is obviously well informed about Iran. Gerecht:
The clerical regime today is no more interested in reaching a peaceful modus vivendi with the United States than it was in the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright all but begged President Mohammad Khatami of Iran to just talk to them.Now, I'm not going to argue that the Iranian regime is open or particularly interested in peacefully engaging with the US, but Gerecht is simply wrong about their efforts to negotiate. In what should be an impeachment level offense, the Administration, under the auspices of Cheney, rejected Iranian overtures to some sort of negotiations in 2003. Nick Kristof, about a month ago, detailed arguably the worst diplomatic travesty of the Bush administration.
I've long though that Iran and the US need not be natural enemies. Iran has a large, well educated, young, Internet savvy populace that seems to want US style liberal reforms, we both have an interest in eradicating the Taliban and there even cases of US special fores fidgeting side by side with Iranian troops in Herat, and if shit in Iraq really goes south, we may enact an "unleash the Shiites" plan b, which would essentially give even more power and influence to Iran in Iraq. But back to Iran's attempt to start negotiations and normalize relations with us. Kristof:
According to the notes of Professor Amirahmadi, the foreign minister told the group, ''Yes, we are ready to normalize relations,'' provided the U.S. made the first move.It gets even better, or worse, when you look at how it all turned out:
In the master document, Iran talks about ensuring ''full transparency'' and other measures to assure the U.S. that it will not develop nuclear weapons. Iran offers ''active Iranian support for Iraqi stabilization.'' Iran also contemplates an end to ''any material support to Palestinian opposition groups'' while pressuring Hamas ''to stop violent actions against civilians within'' Israel (though not the occupied territories). Iran would support the transition of Hezbollah to be a ''mere political organization within Lebanon'' and endorse the Saudi initiative calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.But of course, the Bush Administration "doesn't negotiate with evil" and squashed any hope of reaching a deal. Gerecht surely knows this, but its unclear of even the NYTimes op-ed reading public is aware of this administration idiocy and pigheadedness that might lead us to a disastrous, unnecessary, counterproductive war with Iran. Gerecht is no fool, but instead just a liar, or, more charitably, he picks his facts selectively.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Shorter VDH: Those dastardly wordly capitalists need to read Thucydides and be ornery nationalist pricks just like me!
Now, it's easy to make fun of VDH, but the LGM crew is much better at it than I, so I won't try. First off, I actually kinda like VDH. (ed - ok, bagging on GFR and Marcotte was fine,giving love to Larison was stretching it, but this is beyond the pale. Go hang out with Kaus, the liberals will never love you!) There are plenty of run-of-the-mill neocons who think that all problems can be solved with more force and that all the US government should be concerned with is fighting Teh Jeehad and putting more troops in Iraq, but VDH is actually pretty cool. I mean, how many almond farming, classicists from FRESNO! do you see in the opinion pages? Also, being a California native, I have to look out for my fellow Left Coasters. I even think that his farming background gives him an insight into immigration (I think he's wrong about it, but still) that not many pundits have. But lets get on to his point that:
One does not have to embrace Buchananism, to see that a growing challenge in this century will be the smiley international corporation, not in the sense of a handle-bar moustache and black-hat villain stealing third-world resources, but with the face of Birkenstocks, polo shirts, and an I-pod, run by the man who believes in no affiliation other than as an alumnus donor to his business school, has no moral principle, has no knowledge or sense of history, much less the tragedy of history, no real anger, no real enthusiasm other than for a new angle globalized to the nth degree—and who is pledged to nothing other than the notion of profit and the dangers to globalized profit that are posed by those who stand for ideas and values which get in the way of Kumbaya hedge funds and tranbordered consortia.
As usual, Marx said this first. From the Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed...In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible.It should surprise no one that MBA types have a cosmopolitan outlook. They are chiefly concerned with low barriers to entry for businesses and low barriers to foreign investment and the moving of capital from country to country. Thus, they look to international institutions to provide a framework for the easy flow of capital. This outlook which views the entire world as a place for profit makes nationalism seems quaint. I know something of these people, because my beloved brother is one of them. Many of the young business elite has spent time living in other countries and are very comfortable traveling and working abroad. They know that, contra VDH, China is an asshole as far as intellectual property and patent protection go. They also are incredibly wary of populist moves by the US to restrict trade. They generally have a doctrine of free movement of capital, goods and labor and thus wouldn't be so angry with "Mexico (a policy of sending millions across the border of its neighbor in violation of sovereignty)"
As Robert Wright explained in Non Zero, that we are able to communicate with each other over greater distances at higher speeds (the Internet) and the fact that when one country gets screwed, the entire world economy will be at risk necessities cooperative solutions to common problems. Hanson, who's worldview seems to have not evolved since Constantine moved the capital to Byzantium, just can't wrap his head around this. I, for one, welcome the rule of our new cosmopolitan corporate overlords.
Yet again, I feel the obligation to, in the parlance of my times, roast on the lovely and talented Garance Franke-Ruta. I know I criticized her proposal for raising the age of consent to appear in dirty films from 18 to 21 as an unnecessary, prudish paternalistic state intervention that would impeach upon free association and the opportunites of young women and would probably be enforced by conservative prosecutors to go after college students taking erotic pictures and videos of each other.
But my criticism today is of the Go Fug Yourself variety. No, no, I'm not bagging on how Garance looked at the Stanley Hillman Awards. (By the way, she looked fantastic as usual.) The same way the Go Fug Yourself crew mercilessly mocks and belittles the ridiculous clothing of starlets at red carpet events out of sadness because they usually look so good when they don't seemingly make special efforts to look awful, I have to worry about Garance's most recent American Prospect article, entitled "How Hollywood Values Saved America!" is quite simply, trivial tripe.
The thesis of her article is pretty obvious: The Hollywood cycle of saying something offensive and contrary to Hollywood’s liberal values (Gibson and Jews, Richards and blacks, Isiah Washington and gays) and the public and Hollywood types getting outraged, followed by a big public apology and then usually rehab has moved east to DC (Hollywood for ugly people).. Remember, this dolled-up
I wonder what the editorial meeting was like where they assigned or accepted this piece. Let's just look at what else is in the June issue of the Prospect included, we have a colloquium on the
Now, I'm not saying there isn't a place for good cultural analysis, I think that TNR has been able to meld culture and politics pretty well, yes, even with Lee Siegel. But TAP has always struck me as a more serious publication. Monthly magazines can tend to have longer, extensively researched pieces that really go into depth about issues and provide some original ideas or thought provoking analysis. This is why Garance's piece is so odd, it clearly didn't require that much research, the basic facts of the issue were accessible mostly by memory, though surely abetted by a few Lexis searches. And the analysis just seems so obvious, and the subject matter so trivial. Why should liberals really care that when conservatives are assholes, they're getting punished by the public. And more importantly, doesn't the TAP readership already know this, as does much of the public? I understand that need for content and that Garance probably is contracted to write x number of articles per year or something, but she is clearly capable of better, more serious and informative work. Her article on Hilary Clinton, for example, brought a perspective not usually heard in the liberal intelligentsia and presented it intelligently. Also, her articles about George Allen’s entanglement and conflicts of interest with a VA hi-tech company were good journalism as is most of her work. Her recent piece, however, isn’t anything worth writing home about (ed - then why are you going on a near 900 word rant about it!).
Now, surely some critics (ed – you fool, no one reads this, you have no critics, and starting one sided flame wars with respected members of the liberal blogosphere isn’t gonna help!!!) will accuse me of being sexist by using adjectives typically used by men to describe demean women’s writing and contributions to the public sphere (frivolous, unserious etc) Well, I guess I’ll do penance by citing some great wonky stuff written by a women to make up for it. So maybe Garance and I were never meant to be, maybe I’m just to demanding
Full Disclosure: Despite two consecutive posts criticizing Garance, I still have a huge crush on her (ed – you’re like an eight year old who bugs and annoys a girl he likes because that’s the only way he knows how to express his feelings, you’re totally pathetic!)
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
(ed - you really sank this low so quickly...)
The lovely and talented Garance Franke Ruta published an op ed in WSJ a few weeks ago arguing, in light of sleazy dirtbag Joe Francis going to jail, that the age of consent to appear in porn (for just women, men too? I dunno) should be raised from 18 to 21. GFR, after getting savaged by nearly every liberal blogger with a Y chromosome, has since returned to her crusade to deny the masses their unhindered access to barely legal porn. At campus progress, she fleshes out (ed - harhar...not) her case for protecting legal adults from the evils of soft core porn. She starts by bizarrely accusing her liberal critics, including current and former colleagues of, writing "responses [that] were disturbingly marked by a far greater concern for access to pornographic depictions of teenagers than for the exploitation of young women." She cites Yglesias' cheeky post entitled "I Want My Barely Legal Porn!" as evidence he doesn't care about government coercion or infantilization, instead of just wanting to ogle 19 year olds in his basement. She even uses one blogger's admission that, shockingly, 18-19 year old women can be really attractive as prima facie evidence that he opposes her idea for merely lecherous reasons.
In her crusade to deny us all movies of drunk 18 year olds stripping, she further accuses her own colleague Ezra Klein of being politically motivated in his opposition to raising the age of consent.
Nor did they look at the major Democratic donors who have helped Francis expand his reach and normalize his approach of creating “gratuitous nudity, end to end,”
Because we all know Ezra and Matt (ed - the famous one) are solely driven by their desire to kiss up to "major Demcratic donors" in their mission to exploit women. Nevermind that Ezra had posted 9 months before this blogospheric kerfuffle had a post entitled simply "Joe Francis is Scum" - man, Ezra's really in a "rush to defend raunch culture." Garance goes on to cite legal cases where Francis seemingly exploited young women, and was being sued for amounts of up to 2.1 million dollars and had several indictments coming down the pipe - ie the system was working without Garance's age increase.
There are other legal remedies that will crack down on Francis' exploitation without prohibiting sober ADULTS, men and women, from pursuing a career of their choosing without the state enforcing GFR's moralized disgust that not all women can be Harvard educated liberal journalists (ed – you really don’t want to be a liberal blogger do you). One could for example, require that before publishing pornographic material, that the producers get two releases, one at the time of filming and one, say, two weeks later so as not to have the only consent be given while intoxicated. Or you could just enforce laws on the book about drunken consent, or even amend them to make consent for pornography given while intoxicated not legally binding. The point is, you don't have to limit women's choices and infantilize adults who are entrusted with being able to sign binding contracts, join the military and being able to make medical decisions for themselves.
To flex my libertarian muscles for a second, opposing proposals like this one is about drawing a line in the sand about how active the government should be in how people chose to live their lives act or employ themselves. Julian Sanchez's comparison to the some pro-lifers bizarre assertion that denying reproductive autonomy is "empowering" hits the mark here, notwithstanding that Garance isn't opposed to women, in general, having a free range of non erotic opportunities. Us liberals need to remember that the real reason (we should) support government intervention in the economy and other forms of liberty curtailing coercion is to allow for more freedom and to positively enhance people's ability to fulfill their ends in society. This is why we're OK with coercion to redistribute income, have social security, enforce a minimum wage and the whole gamut of liberal intervention in the economy. Now surely, our conception of "freedom" and "rights" are different from libertarians, but we should still be able to recognize and criticize illegitimate government coercion when it inhibits people's victimless free action in society. That's exactly what raising the age of consent from 18 to 21 to be in pornographic films, the government limiting people's choices and freedom to participate in society and fulfill their personal ends...basically, treating adults like children.
Full Disclosure: Ever since seeing her on bloggingheads tv, I’ve had a huge crush on Garance, she would have to devote the rest of her journalistic career to hyping an invasion of
Monday, May 21, 2007
The netroots bloggers like Kos and Atrios, on the other hand, are much more partisan in how they pursue information and have a conscious ideological and partisan agenda (move democrats to the left, win more elections to implement said agenda). They also exhibit a certain pugilistic style, one that to me anyway, seems antithetical to Chait's mythical ideal liberal journalist. They are playing for keeps, they want to take every chance to belittle their opponents in both the GOP and in the democratic party (Joe Klein). This pugilistic writing, belittling of political opponents and a certain disinterest in ideas or intellectual pursuits sound kinda like....wait for it....JON CHAIT. To illustrate this, let's play a little game. Here are two quotes about the importance of "ideas" in left wing politics.
CHAIT: The notion that conservatives are winning politically because they are winning intellectually has a certain appeal, particularly for those in the political idea business. ... it's all deeply misguided. The current ubiquity of such thinking owes itself to the fact that liberals and conservatives have a shared interest in promoting it. ...But, more than that, it reflects a naïveté about the power of new ideas, one that is deeply rooted in long-standing misconceptions of how our politics operate.
KOS: "intellectuals" who'd rather read books and measure purity are next-to-useless. I prefer people of action, not of elitist academics. ...
That's not a knock on people who've been fighting the good fight. Just on those who think the intellectual circle jerks of the 60s are superior to what we're building today.
Now of course, Chait, being the professional journalist and all is much more eloquent, but they are roughly saying the same thing. For liberals ideas to succeed, they need action, not thought. Myself, being an effete wannabe ideas man, find these ideas most distasteful and would rather just read Democracy that actually act to enact liberal polices or elect liberals. It's just very odd that Chait is attacking those who have merely democratized and slightly dumbed down his own approach to journalism, especially in engagement with the right, where he is content to knock around conservatives instead of putting forth his own ideas.
THis is earily similar to what I think is an important event in net roots history that is often overlooked, the Kos/Armstrong pimpin' for Mark Warner. Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia, was supposed to be everything the netroots despises. He was an ex corporate guy, making his money is slightly shady telecom deregulation deals, member of the DLC, who had corporate oriented policies and prided himself on being a centrist. All of these qualities seem to be anathema to the 'roots, yet Armstrong and Kos embraced Warner with open arms. Kaus tried to spin a story or backroom, or backline?, dealing because Armstrong had consulted for Warner or was planning to. But Kos was very forthright in saying that he like Warner because he thought Warner could win. Much like Chait, he suppressed any ideology in service of winning, which is all both the netroots and Chait really want. So, why the beef? Oh yeah, Iraq...
Because we don't know where life begins, the only logical thing to do is to err on the side of caution -- the side of life. In other words, because an abortion might take an innocent life, it should be avoided. It should also be illegal in most cases.Barnett, Tonto to Hugh Hewitt's Lone Ranger, tries to make the case for the secular pro life position. Its sensible enough, we all agree that destroying innocent life is bad, and we don't' know when life begins, it seems reasonable enough to assume it begins at conception, ergo, no abortions!
Amanda, in her typical style, combines intelligent insight with illiberal name-calling that adds nothing to her argument (ed - cmon man, you're trying to be a liberal blogger, do you really need to bag on Marcotte, you already kissed Larison's ass, what's next, linking approvingly to Kaus?!)
Personally, I believe life begins at ejaculation, so to err on the side of caution, we should castrate every man in the country so he can’t ejaculate and murder billions of sperm. Luckily, this program doesn’t have any effects on the rights and lives of actual human beings, so there is no reason to quarrel with it.
Plus, innocent sperm are just like slaves and to be pro-ejaculation is to be pro-racist.
Seriously, I read that thing up and down and he does not mention the existence of women, even once. He seems to think babies come from cabbage patches.
Ok, a few things. Those first two statements, while funny, indicate that either a. Marcotte doesn't understand Barnett's argument (unlikely) or b. despite her understanding, she decides to ridicule and caricature his point. She knows that there is a reason a logically minded person would pick conception as life's starting point, especially instead of ejaculation. I mean, it's not like the fertilized egg has the genetic identity of the human it could become, or any significant distinction like that. Her overall point, that these discussions of abortion which are singularly fixed on "when life begins" ignore a necessary part of the debate, the fate and rights of the women who get, or don't get, abortions. She is right about Barnett and she illuminates one of the most interesting aspects of the abortion debate.
In a simplistic analysis, there are two competing rights claims. One, the right to life or protection from wanton destruction by fetus. Two, the right of women to determine their own reproduction, the sovereignty of their bodies etc etc. In this simple world, we would do something like consider if these fetus' count as "life" and if they were say, like born human life, protecting them from destruction would surely outweighs the women's claim to reproductive autonomy. It is, of course, more messy than this. One could imagine, a sliding scale of life, where as days after fertilization increases, life increases, and so the obligation to protect that life increases. A woman's autonomy, however, would also have a certain obligation to project. This system would imply a cut off point, a point where a fetus has enough "life" so that its right to life outweighs the woman's right to autonomy and privacy. This system, however, sounds barbaric, bizarre and an awful example of the calculative mindset gone too far. However, it is roughly the "abortion is kinda bad, but OK up until the end of the 1st trimester" view that many people hold.
Abortion looks like a question that could be solved philosophically, when does life begin seems like a question that philosophers are qualified to solve. And, not surprisingly, there are serious and well thought out arguments on both sides. Though it may seem like the pro-lifers have a simpler, more intuitive argument, Judith Jarvis Thompson's famous paper, "A Defense of Abortion" with the canonical violinist analogy certainly scores points for sophistication and elegance philosophically. But even she misses the point. Abortion debates, for the most part, are about conflicting views regarding women's role in society and the optimal level of socially acceptable sexual freedom and autonomy rather than 'when life begins'
I don't want to accuse "philosophical" pro lifers of false consciousness, but it is incredibly rare for someone to advocate the pro-life position and not have a corresponding set of views about sexuality in society. That's why many think, including me, that Dean Barnett is being disingenuous, he works for Hugh Hewitt, who has generally conservative views about sexual politics and thus we can assume Dean does as well. Usually it is easier to figure out, for example Robert George and Ramesh Ponnuru both make "philosophical" or logical arguments about why abortion is wrong, but they are also both forthcoming about their views on the corresponding issues of sexual freedom and the like. This, in a technical sense, should be unrelated, but we all know it isn't. The big question is: do those who approach abortion firmly from the feminist or sexual freedom/autonomy view (Marcotte, most feminists) even care about when life begins, do they think about it? Should we even care?
Robert Kagan, along with his seemingly hydra headed family, is one of the biggest cheerleaders for war, any war, that
Kagan’s book, based on this and other reviews, argues that
Americawas a place of "ugliness" that provided "fortunes for a few and misery for many...[and] treated men as things" until "laws and institutions modeled after 's" made it livable. England
Kagan deconstructs American history's protagonists as representatives of impersonal forces and presents them without regard for their own understanding of what they were doing.
He argues that the Founders understood it to mean that they had the right and duty to deprive other peoples of their independence and liberty as they might understand it.
Robert Kagan writes that "despite four hundred years of steady expansion and ever deepening involvement in world affairs, and despite numerous wars, interventions, and prolonged occupations of foreign lands... Americans still believe their nation's natural tendencies are toward passivity, indifference and insularity."
Take out the obvious normative differences (Zinn: Intervention all over the place is bad, Kagan: No, you knave, it is good!) and you basically have the same story. This of course, is an insight into why Zinn and Kagan are both wrong. While it may be fun to look at
Remember, just because Zinn and his lot were right about
Of course, there is a similar, and related, historical convergence on the Civil War, with Marxist Perry Anderson and most paleocons on one side vs Henry Jaffa types. It goes basically like this. “
UPDATE: Blogfather Larison chimes in, and contra Sullivan, informs us that:
Angelo Codevilla is wildly, intensely hawkish and hegemonist; he is one of those people who will bear the label imperialist as a badge of honour. No one who has any sense of the various factions and arguments on the American right would ever confuse a Codevilla piece with anything related to paleos.
Of course, I'll trust that Larison knows more than me (ed - you're damn right you will) on who is and isn't paleo. I think most of my analysis holds up (ed - with all the standard caveats: you have no qualifications, you don't really know what you're talking about etc) Which is odd, of course, because your standard Struassian loves to gloat about how only he knows the true, esoteric nature of America and, if you're at Claremont, how Abraham Lincoln was totally sweet and truly American is his habeas stripping, pseudo authoritarian ass kicking of the South; (I don't necessarily disagree with this, but the Civil War is for another day) basically, I'd expect them to agree with Kagan's analysis, but then again, I'm capable of being suprised. Of course, you have famed Straussian Harvey Mansfield revealing to us that Machiaveli is really the hidden founding father equal to Jefferson or Hamilton and how an executive above the law is the sweetest thing ever. So you can never really be sure what these Struassian neocons are up to.
Daniel Larison is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.
As a young fogey who supports the aspirations of whippersnapper bloggers (isn’t that a redundant description?) to trouble the more esteemed and well-known pundits, I point you to the blog of Matt Zeitlin:....
[whippersnapper] is in one sense a perfect word to use for all bloggers, who are, in the grand scheme of things, pretty insignificant and who also presume to hold forth on matters great and small, but it might just as well be applied to all columnists and pundits. An important part of good blogging, it seems to me, involves reminding better-known pundits and columnists that they are not necessarily all that important and authoritative and that they have no monopoly on driving the debate.
In all honesty, I really like Daniel Larison's stuff and I'm really interested in the crack up between paleocons and neocons on foreign policy, and he's, in my humble, uninformed opinion, one of the best for the paleo view on most things. So yeah, thanks a lot Daniel, you're really my first blogospheric fan. I guess I might be getting some love from the TAC and Chronicles crowd, so it looks like I'll need to bone up on my Kirk, Chesterton, Maistre and Eliot. I already like Burke, and I'm not a huge fan of this Iraq fiasco, so maybe being a paleocon is the way to go. On second thought, maybe no, I'd probably just end up like Alexander Konetzki.
Again, another post with no real content of the type I hope to provide soon. I was literally in the midst of writing a post about Robert Kagan, but I guess that will have to wait.
Daniel Larison, don't let anyone tell you that you're not a hero.
Like so many bloggers, writers, thinkers and infantile scribblers before me, I am the product of those brave souls who preceded me. Now, I've been an active lurker in blogosphere and occasional commenter (matt z) on some blogs, namely Yglesias and Garance, but only recently have I been inspired to get in the game. I was inspired primarily by the Methuselah of the blogosphere, Mickey Kaus. In a series of posts and a bloggingheads kvetch fest Kaus feared the rise of the "whippersnappers" - young bloggers and journalists who never went through the standard apprenticeship and rise to punditry, and instead just pollute the blogosphere with their sophomoric (literally!) thoughts.
Two of the most prominent whippersnappers, bloggers whose faces should be carved onto a digital Mt. Blogsmore (and the bad jokes just keep on coming....) Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, promptly responded to Kaus' shofar blast of derision and concern. Yglesias promptly went on to crush my dreams - The good news / bad news is that I suspect the whippersnapper window is closing. Ezra, in his response, offered some reassurance and also provided me with the title for this very blog!
So here I am, the youngest, most infant terrible, least experienced, least qualified blogger out there. Hopefully I have plenty of whip and snap as well.
Who knows if I'm Kaus' mythical "generation of post-Bush, anti-Kos neolibroots rebels comes online? These people are, like, only 12 at the moment." I was a neolib in my past life, like when I was 14 or so, so who knows...and despite Kaus' curmudgeonly, House-like charm, I tire of his constant assault on liberals...well, I've probably said too many nice things about him for being a leftie blogger, so I'll just stop now.
Don't worry my adoring legions of fans, posts with real content and analysis will be forthcoming.