January 25, 2005

Losing Their Religion…

- by Mary Madigan

Many thanks to Michael for this opportunity to guest blog (and congratulations!)

As a female blogger, I guess I should discuss subjects that are interesting from a woman's point of view. So I’ll talk about fighting.

[Fights are interesting from a woman's point of view if you're an Irishwoman]

In his New Republic* article, "A Fighting Faith" Peter Beinart suggested that Democrats should return to old-style liberalism; the liberalism which inspired the belief, held by Democrats like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, and Eleanor Roosevelt that:

"[B]ecause the interests of the United States are the interests of free men everywhere," America should support "democratic and freedom-loving peoples the world over." That meant unceasing opposition to communism, an ideology "hostile to the principles of freedom and democracy on which the Republic has grown great."

I’d always thought that the New Republic was a sort of liberal hawk voice, and I thought their readers would agree with Beinart. I was wrong.

In the letters to the editor section, TNR readers made it clear – they don’t agree with Beinart at all. They believe that:

A self-described "lower middle class rube" believes the Democrats' enemy is Bush and big business

“Moore has been--and continues to be--a man fighting for economic justice. Fahrenheit 9/11 was sometimes puerile, but the film made convincing arguments that the 2000 election was stolen in Florida and that the Republicans' wars are being fought primarily by those who are daunted by their economic prospects in this country. His point was not, however, that all wars are pointless, but rather that the reasons for war need to be true, not lies, and clearly in the national interest, rather than for personal gain or personal payback. Even though I may disagree with much of what Moore postulates, I admire his willingness to take on President Bush and big business."

A history teacher says: JFK was not a good leader

"Beinart argues that the Democrats must take a strong line on terrorism, just as Democrats after 1945 did on communism. He cites John F. Kennedy, who, in 1960, ran a campaign tough on communism and, while in office, "dramatically increased military spending." Kennedy also campaigned on the missile gap, which he used to frighten audiences...

..He increased the number of military advisers in Vietnam to 16,000, and he helped unseat Cheddi Jagan in Guyana. I am not sure that these are examples to be followed."

A lady from Missouri believes the “morality of fighting communism in order to save the world was nonsense.”

"Beinart's comparison of the present war on Islamic fundamentalists with the cold war doesn't hold up under scrutiny. He claims that the postwar Democrats had to oppose communism in the Soviet Union, but he fails to mention that, when Richard Nixon went to China, the morality of fighting communism in order to save the world was revealed as just plain nonsense. We did not need to fight communism then, and we do not need to embark on a world conquest of Islamic fundamentalism now."

Out of six published letters, only one agreed with Beinart.

"We did not need to fight communism"?? I hope these letters to the editor don’t express the opinions typical of centrist Democrats. But I wonder. After all, this is TNR, not The Nation.

*registration required for TNR

Posted by Mary Madigan at 3:52 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

New Blogging Gig

I have a new full-time blogging gig for the next two weeks, and I won’t have a whole lot of time to blog on this site. So I have a couple of guest-bloggers who are going to help me out: Jeremy Brown and Mary Madigan. I will probably post here, too, but not as often as I usually do.

Since there will be three of us here, or at least two and a half (the half would be me), there will be more fresh content here than usual, not less. So don’t go anywhere.

I’ll provide more info and links about what I’m doing and where I’m going once the project gets off the ground. In the meantime, stay tuned. And welcome Mary and Jeremy.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:23 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

Stay Tuned

Very suddenly I went from not having enough work on my plate to having a lot of it. Such is the life of a freelance writer. Feast, then famine, then feast. Now is a time of feasting.

It's late Monday night and I'm going to bed. Don't go away. Your regularly scheduled opinionated blather will recommence shortly.

In the meantime, argue amongst yourselves in the comments about love, death, war, life, god, the universe, and everything. And be nice! Don't make me come in there with the battle axe.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:39 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

January 23, 2005

Not Just For Neocons

One reason I’ve been pushed toward, but not all the way into, the right since 911 is because it sometimes seems like conservatives and Independents are the only ones I can relate to anymore. Nevermind that I don’t sign off onto all their opinions. No one agrees with me about everything, and I don’t expect anyone to. So it’s a nice treat to find Kerry-supporting Democrats like Tom Frank at The New Republic who really know where I’m coming from, not just intellectually, but on a gut level.

This band of socialists was the most effective recruiting tool for the Republican Party I'd ever encountered.

To begin with, there were the posters on the wall: MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION, NOT FOR WAR AND OCCUPATION. Let's leave aside that the meter is somehow dissatisfying (nine syllables followed by eight--no flow at all). The main point is, if the shallowness of this statement bothers you, to what party do you look for comfort? To the Democrats, many of whom condemn building firehouses in Baghdad and closing firehouses at home? Or do you say to yourself, in that moment, "I don't much care for Newt Gingrich--nor does anyone else--but I bet he hates that goddamn poster as much as I do"? I know where I was leaning.

Then there was the pooh-poohing of elections--any elections. Former soldier Stan Goff (supposedly of the Delta Force, Rangers, and Special Forces) spoke at length about the evils of capitalism and declared, "We ain't never resolved nothing through an election." This drew loud, sustained applause. Nothing to get worked up about, I thought; just a leftist speaker spouting lunacy. But today it seemed particularly bad. It wasn't just that I was missing what might be lovely canapés (or perhaps spring rolls being brought about on trays with delectable dipping sauce); rather, it was the thought that the speaker was dismissing something that Afghanis of all ages had recently risked their lives to participate in, something Iraq's insurgents view as so transformative that they are murdering scores of Iraqis to prevent it. No, what I needed to counter this speaker was not a Democrat like me who might argue that elections were, in fact, important. What I needed was a Republican like Arnold who would walk up to him and punch him in the face.

But the worst came with the final speaker, a woman by the name of Sherry Wolf, who is supposedly on the "editorial board of International Socialist Review." She talked, and talked, and talked; terms like "architects of the slaughter," "war criminal," and "Noam Chomsky" wafted about the room; and my eyes grew so bleary that I ceased taking notes. But then she brought up the insurgents in Iraq. Sure they were bad, she admitted: "No one cheers the beheading of journalists." But, she continued, they had a "right" to rebel against occupation. Then she read from a speech by the activist Arundhati Roy: "Of course, [the Iraqi resistance] is riddled with opportunism, local rivalry, demagoguery, and criminality. But if we were to only support pristine movements, then no resistance will be worthy of our purity." In sum, Wolf said, the choice boiled down to supporting occupation or resistance, and we had to support resistance.

So there it was. I even forgot about the Constitution Ball for a minute. Apparently, we were to view the people who set off bombs killing over 150 peaceful Shia worshippers in Baghdad and Karbala as "resistance" fighters. And the audience seemed entirely fine with this. These weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.

Very good, comrade. Welcome to the non-partisan, equal-opportunity, big-tent Militant Middle.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:16 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

The Last Honest Progressive in America

I link to Marc Cooper’s blog a lot because I like him and I often like what he has to say. (He’s also a friend and the editor for my soon-to-be-published Libya piece in the LA Weekly.)

G.M. Roper discovered Marc’s blog via my blog and seems to have taken up residence in Cooper’s comments section. The two have become friends, and this makes me happy. Why? In part because I “introduced” them to each other, but also because G.M. is a conservative and Marc is an anti-war leftist. The blogosphere is often divisive, but it isn’t always. I wish this sort of thing happened more often, but I’m glad to see it happens sometimes.

G.M. wrote a flattering profile of Marc on his blog called The Last Honest Progressive in America. Marc isn’t really the last, but he is a progressive and he is honest. If you’re a conservative (or a centrist or a hawkish liberal or whatever else) and you’re looking for someone who thinks you’re wrong but can argue well and with integrity, bookmark him. He’s a worthwhile antidote to the echo-chamber.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:53 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Propaganda

Zed has links to active radical Islamist Web sites, including video and multi-media presentations, for anyone who is interested in poking around such places. He made the links inactive so he won't get any unwanted attention from the owners of those sites. You will have to cut and paste the links into your browser if you want to follow them.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:01 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

January 21, 2005

A Plea for Iraqi Unity

In the comments box for the post below this one Dougf pointed out that the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has an archive of video clips from Middle East TV. I didn't know this until now. (Thanks, Doug.)

While watching TV in my Tripoli hotel room back in November I saw something I never would have expected to see in Libya: a touching ad pleading for Iraqi unity. It's cheesy, but I don't mean to complain. Iraq needs cheesiness now. (Note: This is not the same ad Doug links to in the comments. This one is better, I think.)

Here's a link to the video. Watch it. And imagine how I felt when I saw this in Libya while I was otherwise surrounded by hysterical totalitarian propaganda. It was an amazing moment.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:41 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

A Short, Sharp Shove

A great swath of the blogosphere has already linked to the shockingly unprofessional hit piece in the New York Times about the Iraqis who blog at Iraq the Model. Their brother Ali, who now blogs at Free Iraqi, has posted a classy dignified response. He is much more polite to the so-called reporter Sarah Boxer than I would have been if she had done the same thing to me.

The article was, despite Ms Boxer's kindness, a bad piece of journalism. I had around 45 minutes long phone call with the reporter about my journey with Iraq the Model, my new site, the elections, the general situation here in Baghdad but she (or the paper) seems to have a certain agenda and managed to change the whole issue into a very silly gossip (going as far as quoting trolls!) that is way beneath any respectable paper and certainly beneath me so I won't give it more attention but lesson learned and I won't make the mistake of talking to anyone from the NY times again. It's important to note though that my feelings of respect, gratitude and love for the American people have never and will never change.
UPDATE: Jeffrey at Iraqi Bloggers Central wonders what would have happened to Sarah Boxer if she were a blogger, not a reporter.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 5:45 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

January 20, 2005

Spongebob Squarepants: Gay Tool!

I sometimes bristle at the haughty sneers in Red America’s direction from the coasts. I used to live in a red state – Iowa. It was still barely a blue state then, and it’s barely a red state now. Blowing it off as “Jesusland” not only denies the state’s complexity and diversity (yes, I am talking about Iowa here), it’s also a snot-nosed condescending attitude unbecoming of grown-ups.

Still. Some people on the more crimson end of the spectrum don’t do Red America’s image any favors. Look no further than the latest hysterical outburst by the brainless, bigoted blowhard James Dobson.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 7:09 PM | Permalink | Comments Off
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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