Showing posts from June, 2006

President Carter on Dubai Ports World

A few days ago, I asked the following question of former President Jimmy Carter: Dubai Ports deal and allies in the middle east (3+ / 0-) I was dismayed by the way in which the Democratic establishment seized upon the Dubai Ports World deal as a means to burnish their foreign policy credentials at the expense of the Bush Administration. If we are to reform the Arab world, it will require building long-lasting economic links between our societies, and making common cause with political moderates against the Islamists. As has been noted, the Islamophobia evident in the reaction to the DPW deal (which was largely fueled by the Democrats, it must be noted) has had serious consequences . What is President Carter's position on the DPW deal and what strategies does he support for reaching out to the moderates in the middle east? by azizhp on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 10:50:35 AM CDT Today, President Carter did me the immense honor of replying , as follows: Answer to azizhp: In an interview on

When is it a right?

In a comment on RedState, a poster named DonS once offered the following trenchant observation: Liberals look at a need, and see a right. Although I'm definitely to the left of center, especially these days, I find this comment to be right on the money. Liberal Americans commonly speak of a right to a good education, a right to affordable healthcare, and a right to three squares a day. I agree that there is a sense in which these things are rights, but only in the sense that noone should prevent anyone else from getting these things for themselves according as they are able. As I make it out, that makes them, as rights, approximate analogues to B.B. King's "right" to sing the blues -- noone should stop him, and noone better try. What it does not make them are things which the government is bound to guarantee to us as a necessary part of its raison d'etre. I also, however, believe that things like this -- education, health care, a "safety net" suffic

blogdebate: election reform is not a partisan issue

Leon, in a post at SwordsCrossed about the need for election reform, makes the assertion: And for the very worst of the worst, you’ve got to go to someplace that’s been controlled by Democrat political machines for time immemorial As you might imagine, this touched off some fireworks in the comment threads. Read on.   I replied to the post, and Leon's subsequent surprise at the drubbing he was getting, thusly: If you’re going to start out with the premise that voting fraud is mostly one parties fault rather than another, then it’s fair for someone to ask why you’re not including the skeletons in your own party’s closet. Had you instead said, voting fraud can be seen on both sides of the divide - and been a littl emore forthright about stating without any attempt at minimizing the fact that the Republican party does have a pattern of voter suppression of minorities, then you wouldnt have gotten that response. You cant go on the partisan atttack from the outset and then be surpris

victory over terror requires allies

I have written at City of Brass about how liberal Saudi prince Al-Walid's new Al-Risalah television station is being portrayed as "Hate TV" by MEMRI and others of their jafi ilk. The ultimate victory in the war on terror is going to require a re-thinking of attitudes towards Arab society - especially Arab media. I have little cause for optimism on that front; the right is thoroughly tainted with the support of Islamophobic elements like MEMRI, whereas the Left is too obsessed with political advantage to take a stand on principle (witness the Dubai Ports debacle, which I also blogged about at CoB ).

Gore and Obama, Yin and Yang

There's some kind of fundamental symmetry at work here, like a String Theory of Politics: for every story about Obama running in 2008, there must be a story about Gore not running. Case in point : Nashville, TN (AHN) - Former Vice President Al Gore says at a book signing in his hometown that he will not run for the White House in 2008. The Associated Press reports an attendee asked Gore whether he would seek the presidency while he was promoting his documentary and book on global warming in Tennessee. Gore responded to the question by saying, "I'm not planning on it, but thanks for encouraging me." [...] According to the AP, Gore says his time is best used by educating people about global climate change, not running for president. It's interesting that Obama and Gore both deny that they will run, but only Gore's denials are taken seriously. The pundits assume that Obama will run, but they draft letters to Gore begging him to reconsider . That said, that piece

10 questions for Adam K. Webb

(Cross-posted from Gene Expression ) Adam K. Webb is the author of Beyond the Global Culture War and a lecturer at Harvard College. His specialization is world political thought, liberalism and antiliberalisms. Below are 10 questions.... UPDATE (Aziz): Adam Webb responds to questions over at the GNXP comment threads, where a robust discussion took place. 1) Dr. Webb, I have read your book, Beyond the Global Culture War , but I suspect few of my readers have (yet), so can you offer a succinct summary of your argument for us? The book traces the rise of liberal modernity and the global culture war it has sparked. You might call me a traditionalist with a deep commitment to social justice. I share the misgivings that many thinkers and movements around the world have about the flavour of the emerging global culture-consumerist excess, an obsession with markets, the erosion of traditional ways of life, and the like. But I fear that resistance today, whether from the fundamentalists,

Rudy has solutions

Giuliani has launched a new site that - aside from the actual omission of the words "president" and "2008" - looks pretty much like a campaign website. The man is going to run. And he's going to get clobberred in the GOP primary. I still think he should run as a Democrat; after all, even Kucinich and Sharpton enlivened the debate in 2004 and brought substance, though they hadn't the remotest chance of winning the nod. I am aware that my position on this is controversial .

Who affirmative action helps, and who it hurts....

Conservative science blogger Brown Gaucho has a post about affirmative action which I might have written years ago. It is basically the standard argument that affirmative action hurts (some) minorities because by lowering the bar of entry to encourage "diversity" it creates stigma and also does not do anything to address the underlying issues (e.g., poor secondary schools). But a few years ago I concluded that there was a problem with this narrative . Stigma is a problem for those who are capable and competent and are tarred with the brush of association. But, as a matter of empirical fact I think affirmative action has been great in generating a black middle class, for every black doctor whose self-esteem is underminded by the reality that his colleagues probably assume his medical school admission was a bit easier than their own, there are a dozen who wouldn't have gotten into medical school without lower GPA & MCAT requirements. Though I think there might be

Obama is timid

I've often expressed my deep skepticism of the Obama 2008 chatter - most of which is driven by the pundit class. The reason I praise Obama is because he uses his very public pulpit as the Democratic golden child to push for unifying rhetoric - purple pllitics expressed as a desirable ideal. He used the keynote address at the DNC not to bash Bush, or the GOP, bu to speak of a vision for the future, one that the present-day GOP simply cannot articulate given that their fundaental assumption is that 49% of teh nation is a traitorous fifth column. I do believe that genesis of a true Purple movement will occur on the Left rather than the right, but for it to be successful it must reach out to the Right and filter out the conservatives from the Republicanists. Obama serves an important role in this process, and should be praised for it. He has ideliasm and vision in spades, and the Left needs that desperately. However, what he lacks is ambition. Case in point:   Matt Stoller at myDD poin

Assertion: Politics is reductionist


Conservatism is surely not this

From the pages of National Review, flagship of conservative thought: - an essay lambasting Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, for causing "emotional distress" to the "spiritually sensitive". - an approving link to an essay (labeled as an "elegantly stated truth") that asserts that liberalism prevents people from comprehending a perversion of the soul (and therefore, implicitly facilitates the same). What bothers me most about these two examples is the underlying sentiment that ordinary people are simply reactive, and must be shielded from unpleasant truths. I take the opposite approach - that all people are rational actors, and can be trusted to reason. As long as one does not mistake reason for being flawless objectivity. I think that's the requisite assumption for someone - anyone - professing to believe in democratic ideals. For if the populace cannot be trusted to think, then why give them any power over society?


One of the most intriguing intellects in the political sphere today is John Derbyshire. He self-identifies fiercely as a conservative, and of that crowd is probably the most akin to Buckley of all the crew at National Review. As I mentioned in comment treads earlier, being Purple isn't a mandatory centrism on the issues, by a willingness to assess the issues from a perspective that isn't shaped by your Team (and vilification of the opposing viewpoint as your sole method of persuasion). Derb has his opinions - many of which I disagree with profoundly - and he defends them on their merits, honestly. For example - on the abortion debate...   Woman A gets pregnant, finds that her baby would be born with severe mental and physical impairments, but says: "I don't care. It'll be loved however it comes out." Woman B, in the same situation, decides to abort. A Progressive—at any rate a thorough-going one—would force that first woman to abort, in the general interest

The idea of community

Other than comments, this is my first post here. Many thanks to Aziz for his very kind invitation to participate here on Nation-Building. A word of introduction. I live in a blue state, and I have blue state values. I'm sympathetic to the purple agenda expressed here, but I am, regrettably, skeptical that compromise, much less agreement, with American conservatives is possible right now. I'd be pleased to find otherwise. I've only recently begun participating in political activity beyond voting. The impetus for me was the USA Patriot Act. I sponsored a resolution in my town opposing the Act, and suprisingly, in my fairly conservative, highly patriotic, and very traditional town, it passed. My participation in that effort led me to online discussion of issues surrounding USAPA, which in turn led me to RedState, where I am known as "amos". While at RedState I had the pleasure of meeting Aziz, and through his invitation I'm here now. I've spent a lot of

Obama 2008 memewatch

Every few months someone does a piece on Obama's prospects for 2008. Eric Zorn had a piece in the Chicago Tribune back in January that I was singularly unimpressed with. Now the WAPO is getting into the game , with a lengthy profile of Obama Appeal TM . The article does correctly point out, however, that Obama generates so much interest not due to his stance on the issues, but his personal story:   He has yet to carve out a distinctive profile on the policy and ideological debates that are central to how Democrats will position themselves in a post-Bush era. In his stump speech, he offers a standard Democratic criticism of President Bush's tax cuts as favoring the rich, and promotes energy independence with only modest detail about how to achieve it. Nor does he dwell on the Iraq war, assailing the administration's handling of the conflict but not addressing such questions as a timetable for troop withdrawal. Instead, it is almost entirely Obama's biography, along wit

common ground with Libertarians

Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine's Hit N Run blog has an intriguing post that tells Democrats how they can be tolerable to the libertarian bloc. In a nutshell, the maxims are: 1. Be good on the issues where the left is supposed to be good. 2. When you talk about tolerance, mean it. 3. Don't be a slave to the bureaucracy. and summarizes, When Republicans are bad on civil liberties and foreign policy, be an alternative. Extend your social tolerance to folks to the other side of the culture war. And if you can't be as pro-market as Hayek, try at least to be as pro-market as Jerry Brown. It is interesting advice. I think that the first two are reasonable expectations of a Democrat, but the third betrays the libertarian perception of the market as an innately benevolent force. That's where I (and most liberals) would differ - we recognize as liberals that not only does government oppress, but also sometimes the market does, too - and that government can liberate (or at least

Can conservatism govern?

This is a rather aggressive essay at Washington Monthly arguing that modern-day conservative ideology is structurally unable to govern competently. Here's the teaser: Conservative dissidents seem to have done an admirable job of persuading each other of the truth of their claims. Of course, many of these dissidents extolled the president's conservative leadership when he was riding high in the polls. But the real flaw in their argument is akin to that of Trotskyites who, when confronted with the failures of communism in Cuba, China and the Soviet Union, would claim that real communism had never been tried. If leaders consistently depart in disastrous ways from their underlying political ideology, there comes a point where one has to stop just blaming the leaders and start questioning the ideology. The collapse of the Bush presidency, in other words, is not just due to Bush's incompetence (although his administration has been incompetent beyond belief). Nor is it a response

Where do you start your journey?

I'm not a very political person. I used to follow politics closely, but not much anymore. The reality is that much of politics is screaming tribalism, a synthesis between premodern group cohesion and preadolescent petulence. Of course the partisans will tell you that they are doing something, working toward an ends, and the means are sometimes not so pretty. Well, the reality is that I'm doing something too, I'm making my life more pleasant, I'm trying to do right by the people I care about, I'm trying to learn as much about this universe as possible. In other words, there's a lot going on in the world aside from partisan politics, and those of us who have dropped out of the neverending race aren't vegetables flipping from CNN Politics to Springer . But engagement matters, and even my egoism has limits, the outer world isn't an illusion, man is a social animal. In fact, many evolutionary anthropologists have long contended that sociality is what drove t

Opting Out of the "Base Wars"

Big thanks to Aziz for asking me to join you guys here. I am a big believer in reasonable dialogue across the political spectrum. Unfortunately reasonable dialogue is becoming harder and harder to find. Hopefully, we can start turning the tide in the other direction. (Originally posted at Dignan's 75 Year Plan ) As anyone who knows me can attest, I am and have always been a very idealistic person. I can remember in high school and college people telling me that I am too idealistic and assuming that it would wear off with age. Well, it hasn't. I'm in my mid-30s, married with two children and as idealistic as ever. So you can imagine my dismay at many of the cynical reactions that I have received in response to my article last week about Ann Coulter . I guess I expected better from people in the conservative movement. I'm not sure why. I am saddened by the inconsistency of so many in the conservative movement. For years, I have heard conservatives become outraged over the

Purple pols painted Blue

Glenn Greenwald, in a post noting how the conventional wisdom promulgated by the Right suggested that Jim Webb's victory was an anathema to the netroots when in fact he actually was endorsed by Kos , makes an important tangential point: this same fiction is repeated over and over in all corners and, despite its glaring falsity, has the status of conventional wisdom among the national media. Anti-Bush bloggers are leftist ideologues. Their goal is to force the Democratic Party to adopt ideologically leftist positions and therefore will ensure its defeat. Mainstream political figures like Howard Dean and John Kerry -- whose views on most issues are supported by the majority of Americans -- are fringe, extremist leftists whom the anti-Bush bloggers love because of their leftist extremism. And all of them are radioactive losers whose influence and even mere existence are fatal to Democrats. This is the same intellectual sloth and dishonesty which enables the Instapundit's of the w

Whose Side Should Iran Be On?

The new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, has declared his organization's intentions following the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Muhajir says simply: we will "defeat the crusaders and Shiites" in Iraq. The "crusaders," of course, are coalition forces. But it is the Shi'ite community, targeted by al-Qaeda terrorists, that poses the greatest potential for coalition gains not only in Iraq but in the entire region. Read on...   It is no secret that al-Qaeda is almost exclusively a Sunni Muslim operation. Terrorist attacks in Iraq take place far more frequently within the so-called "Sunni Triangle" in the center of the country around Baghdad than anywhere else. Zarqawi, a Jordanian, and his successor Muhajir are both Sunni Muslims. Osama bin Laden is a Sunni Muslim as well. The genuine conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims is often overlooked, especially by those who want to frame the war in Iraq specifically a

Rudy Giuliani is running for President

( UPDATE: cross posted to my diary at DKos . Ouch. ) I think we knew this already, of course. And RG hasn't yet officially announced anything, of course. However, he did reveal a glimpse of his game plan yesterday in New York. Writes Ryan Sager for the NY Post: A small gathering in Mid town yesterday got a sneak peek at Rudy Giuliani's formula as he gears up for a likely 2008 presidential run. That formula: one-third leadership, one-third technocratic centrist and one-third radical conservative reformer. There's a reason Giuliani outpolls Sen. John McCain regularly when it comes to who conservative Republicans prefer for the presidency - while also maintaining great popularity with centrists - and it was on full display in this Manhattan Institute-hosted talk on energy policy. (For the record, the ex-mayor's firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, does significant work for energy companies.) The truth is, that RG has virtually no chance of being nominated as a Republican. Howev

The Ourobouros Administration

Eric Martin has a monumental introspection on the present Administration. My favorite line: "The Republican administration has violated so many precepts of International Relations 101 that clich├ęs take on the air of wisdom." (actually a quote by Fred Kaplan). No one ties it all together as elegantly as Eric. It's a must-read.

asymmetric rhetoric

I've got myself enmeshed in a bit of an argument at Swords Crossed with Ender, one of the new front-pagers. Ender lumped Michael Savage and Ann Coulter alonng with Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan, as examples of equally corrosive elements poisoning the sphere of public debate. I took exception to this. I'll reproduce the exchange thus far below the fold. (updated with a response to Ender's latest comment - read on)   My first comment in reply to Ender's post: Ender, I think that there is a difference. Moore insults the President, but does not as far as I can tell rely on characterizing exactly one-half of the american electorate as traitors or worse. Same with Sheehan - she is a tragic figure but her ire is directed solely at President Bush. Coulter and Savage however are not just saying equivalent things about Al Gore or Clinton or Howard Dean. They are saying it about ME. And therein in a nutshell is a world of difference. It’s all the difference in the world. to whi