April 15, 2005

The Peace and Quiet Movement

Posted by Jeremy Brown

I have written often about the need of people like me -- who were once Left/liberal Latte drinkers (well, espresso in my case) and are now wandering in the rain like King Lear trying to comprehend that everything has fallen apart -- to start letting go of the Cold War concepts of 'Left' and 'Right.'

I keep thinking I've done that. But you'll notice I've described myself as 'Left/liberal.' Part of the problem is: how do you get a handle on what is going on in the world now?

There's a political humorist (among other things) named Jim Hightower who I used to think pretty highly of. These days I can't stand to listen to him or read his stuff. But back before 2001 I remember him saying that the politics of Left/Right was starting to recede into history and that it was being replaced by the simple politics of up vs. down. Class, privelage, access...these were what it was all about. This resonated with me and still does. This is Left wing populism. Where I think he's failed to take his own point is in his continuing practice of portraying the Republican party as the enemy.

So who's the enemy? (Must there even be an enemy? That's for the enemy to decide. The ball's in his court). The enemy is greed, wanton brutality, anti-democratic violence...there are a thousand ways to say it. Totalitarians both Left and Right (I know, I know) are the enemy.

Here in the U.S. there are power pimps in both parties, Republican and Democratic, just as there is a (small) populist wing in each. This is the up/down party line. And it's world wide.

But another manifestation of this is the 'speak out!'/'shut up' divide. This could not have been better exemplified than in Lebanon where hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets, daring to tell Syria to get the hell out. Then the official counter protest designed to shut them the hell up. Then the counter-counter protest...followed by the amazing pro-democracy movement that Michael is narrating first hand as we speak.

This also manifests as the conflict between those who recognize that the world is being transformed by an era of unprecedented transparency (think both big and small: Oil-for-Food, Abu Ghraib, Dan Rather, Enron, even Michael Jackson. If you're counting on getting away with something because no one will find out, you might want to be careful) versus those of the 'see no evil' class.

It's along these lines that I got in the habit of referring to the contemporary anti-war crowd as the 'peace and quiet' movement. The fact that fascists were exterminating people in Afghanistan and Iraq was not a big talking point on the Left -- though it was OK to distribute pamphlets about starving Iraqi children because it was possible to blame that on American Imperialsm -- until the U.S. actually did something to stop it. Then it became fashionable to decry all the suffering. This is like not caring much that your neighbor down the street is beating his wife and kids to death to the extent that you don't know any of the parties involved. That's the Peace and Quiet movement.

And this cartoon by the Argentine cartoonist, Quino, though I doubt he agrees with my views lately, illustrates this point very nicely (click image for larger version):

quino_demo.gif

Quino, whose real name is Joaquin S. Lavado, is a genius. The cartoon above came from a collection called 'The World of Quino.' It seems to be out of print, but you can buy it used.

Posted by Jeremy Brown at April 15, 2005 07:29 AM
Comments

Bob Dylan once said: "There is only up wing and down wing."

(Or something like that.)

Me, I'm getting tired of proving to the left that I'm liberal and to the right that I'm a "good" liberal. So I've stopped calling myself anything.

And I know I'm not alone. In fact, I'm sure there's enough of me to make up a neo-something movement, which I will then rebel against.

Posted by: Melinda Bruno at April 15, 2005 09:15 AM

Basically, it's "Libertarian" VS "Socialist" with an infinite variety of permeutations (sp?)

Usually the whole, "the old terms no longer work anymore, we need new ones" thing leaves me cold, but I have to agree we seem to need new terms or at least some clarification.

"Left" and "Right" as political terms came from the French Revolution. "Left" meant pro-revolution (political democracy, socialist economy, for all practical purposes), "Right" meant antirevolution or "reaction" (political monarchism, and something close to a free market economically, but with solidified class priviledges built in - did I just say, "solidified class priviledges?" yuck)

Anyway, the world has changed, but "Right and Left" are still with us. No contemporary "rightist" advocates monarchy, so "Right" has come to mean political democracy/free markets," while "Left" means basically the same as it used to (sort of).

"Conservative" and "Liberal" are slightly different but related animals, and I'm not going to go into it, but it complicates things.

It seems to me that the contemporary discussion, (excluding Islamofascists who do not offer a viable politico/economic system, despite drawing a lot of attention to their cause by killing infidels and intimidating the surviviors) is between those who TEND to prioritize personal freedom, VS those who TEND to prioritize social stability.

Individual freedom advocates TEND to be considered "rightist/conservative," while stability advocates tend to be considered "leftist/liberal." The complexities of reality prevent either side from being able to avoid inconsistencies here and there, but that's life. The basic patterns seem sound.

We need both freedom and stability as neither can exist without the other, but it seems to pat to believe the right (correct) mix is a neat,tidy 50/50. We can either prioritize personal freedom, while acknowledging the necessity of limiting it a bit, or we can prioritize stability, while acknowledging the necessity of limiting it for the sake of freedom.

Most thoughtful observers of politics (almost all) tend one way or the other. The middle, like a true geometric line, has no width and cannot be stood upon.

Me, I tend towards the "start with freedom, modify relectuntly as necessary" camp, in case you were wondering (if anyone's still with me.)

My two cents.

Posted by: Randall at April 15, 2005 10:24 AM

It is a lot simpler than you explained.

There are those that would like to rule the world.

There are those that would like to follow.

Then there are the rest of us. We constitute the majority. The Government should fix the potholes in the street, and otherwise leave us alone.

Posted by: Soldier's Dad at April 15, 2005 10:31 AM

I seem to recall that Steven Den Beste tackled this subject (how definitions of "left" and "right" are outdated)--and wrestled it to the ground, pinned it down, and made it cry "uncle," as he did to most subjects. But, going back to his old blog, I can't seem to find it. However, here's another relevant one he wrote, about pacifism.

My personal opinion of the "peace and quiet" people is that they are particularly concerned with their own sense of themselves as moral and kind people, and that, in their minds, moral and kind people are against war. It has a certain simple moral power--who among us is for the slaughter of innocents? Certainly not me. The fact that pacifism is an unrealistic (and even dangerous) dream is not an issue to these people, but it should be.

Posted by: neo-neocon at April 15, 2005 10:47 AM

At the risk of being branded a Randroid, I don't think Greed itself is the enemy. Like any other motivation, it's what one does with it that counts.

Posted by: Lee Willis at April 15, 2005 12:52 PM

I'll take your point about the greed. I do think of it as a vice, but even at that I could have said "unchecked greed" or something like that. What I really meant was the wanton abuse of innocent people that unchecked greed often motivates (but then the same is true of anger, though I wouldn't call anger inherently evil -- nor hunger, or desperation, etc.).

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at April 15, 2005 02:46 PM

If you're counting on getting away with something because no one will find out--JB

I don't think this has ever been the thinking behind the BIG stuff of history.Everyone knew what Pol Pot was doing;everyone knew what the Taliban were doing,and everyone should have known what Saddam was doing.Hitler was not deterred by the fear of 'others' finding out.It was,of course, better to keep things quiet simply because it prevented unnecessary hassles,but he calculated that even had his actions become known,it would have made no substantive difference.He counted on 'peace and quiet',and except for going a bridge too far,TOO FAST,he was RIGHT.Had he been a 'sane'madman,does anyone think that the results would have been exactly the same?

It is not the belief that 'no one will ever find out';it is the belief that what does it matter if they DO find out.And frankly,except for the exceptional response of the FEW,what are the indications that this thinking is,in fact,wrong?

Saddam,for example,continued to play craps with history for decades,and EXCEPT for GWB would still be 'rollin' dem bones'(literally as well as figuratively).

You can call it 'peace and quiet',but that ascribes to the attitude,more dignity than it truly deserves.And it is NOT growing weaker.With the collapse of 'external' morality,it has become ever easier to justify doing NOTHING,and it will become even easier and more 'convenient' to do so in the future.All you have to do is look at some of the comments made on this particular forum.Sure they are the minority here,but that is only because they are posting HERE.

That is why,I have my private hobby-horse of 'media responsibility'.When you have an information system that can ,at will, simply discard inconvenient realities down the 'memory-hole',and go blithely onward as if the past never happened, what chance is there for 'learning from history',and perhaps making the correct decisions?

"Peace & Quiet" is the peace of the grave and the quiet of the complicit.For these people, "resistance truly is futile"(and ever so tedious).Sure,let's do the 'right' thing,but only if it can be accomplished by Marching on Saturday.

Posted by: dougf at April 15, 2005 03:09 PM

When you look at the Authoratarian/Libertarian vector as well as the Left/Right one.

It is easy to see why viewed from the direction of Centralised State Control versus Individual Rights and Libertys,

Islamofacsists and Trans-National Progressive Socialists are

A) Natural Allies
and

B) The enemies in their own right for everything
America stands for.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident----"

They don't see them as self-evident they see those truths as something to be purged. For the Greater Good of course don'tcha know. ;-)

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at April 15, 2005 03:15 PM

Conservatives turned into Liberals, and Liberals turned into Leftists.

But we still say conservative and Liberal.

Posted by: spaniard at April 15, 2005 06:33 PM

Spaniard,

I wholeheartedly agree. The whole kit and kaboodle has shifted left, for better or worse and what are now called liberals are leftists. This is a Big Picture observation of course. In many ways, Bush is genuinely conservative (A believing Christian, anti-abortion, anti-stem-cell research, anti-gay marriage...), but his advocacy of personal freedom as not just a cultural fluke but a deep human need is just about as liberal as it gets.

Meanwhile, the liberals (whose great hero Kennedy was every bit as committed to democracy promotion as "W" is), have become isolationist, protectionist, and downright selfish.

Somehow, the liberals, who used to be liberty-promoters, became psuedo communistic Lefists, or at least sympathetic to Lefists in a very big way. Their legitimate and sincere concern for the downtrodded seems to have morphed into hatred for the free market system that, while creating extraordinary (and widespread) wealth, also creates a conspicuous contrast between the poor and the not-so-poor.

Here's one guess why this happened:

The best way to achieve wealth for most people is by living a frugal, self-disciplined life. A life that is, in many ways, not so free, one that is constrained and even a bit tight. Marriage and a strong work ethic are powerful antipoverty "programs." They are also, in a way, freedom inhibiters that make liberals uncomfortable.

These values are encouaged in many ways by old-style Protestantism and other forms of Christianity and Judaism. Liberals, as advocates of personal freedom, found themselves on the side of large numbers of people whose "free" lifestyles got them into trouble more often than the not-so-free hard working bible thumpers who were socking money away, and, being sympathetic people, liberals got into the habbit of advocating social programs more often than "conservatives" who tend to advocate less free but more prosperity promoting behavior.

That's four cents from me.

Posted by: Randall at April 15, 2005 08:02 PM

Why is it that most of the media is dead set against giving equal time to hawks over isolationists?

It's "peace and quiet" whining all the time and almost nothing but.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 15, 2005 09:38 PM

spaniard

And multi-culti-progressives turned into low-expectation soft racists.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 15, 2005 09:39 PM

The vast majority of Americans are reasonable decent people. We can talk right/left all night but neither side is working for you or me. If we all ignore the crazy right and horrible left elements of our parties we can take control of our democracy.

McCain vs. Lieberman '08!

Posted by: Mike at April 15, 2005 11:04 PM

Randall - you posted that yesterday but I hope you come back today and see someone post BRAVO!

What a great post!

Obviously leftist's despise the free market system that, while it may create a wide gap between rich and poor, has nevertheless demonstrably lifted the poor way way up by any objective standards. Not enough say the lefties! Now we need to worry about the "self-esteem" of the poor cause it isn't enough to be factually better off - we need to worry about their envy of those who are even better off! Their self-esteem and their Ego needs! After all - it's really insulting to have to wear cheap sneakers when the wealthy have the latest, hippest sneaker model. (I know nothing about sneakers or sun glasses or designer labels of any sort but I get the point loud and clear). But what the lefties don't seem to realize is that self-esteem and Ego needs are a BOTTOMLESS PIT! Take any celebrity as an example - - say Puff Daddy - aka Puffy Combs - or aka Sean Puffy Combs or aka Sean Combs - or - what IS this guy's actual name?? Nothing is going to satisfy this guy's need for "respect". The more affluent we become - the more Puffy Combs we create when misguided leftists cater to "self-esteem". The fact is that catering to self-esteem creates Monsters!! Obviously!

2. “The best way to achieve wealth for most people is by living a frugal, self-disciplined life. A life that is, in many ways, not so free, one that is constrained and even a bit tight”

Randall – what are you thinking? Quelle horreur? Don’t you know that it’s an affront to anyone’s self-esteem that they should live frugally and in self-denial when every day it’s being thrown in their faces by our media that other people live with no constraints whatsoever. No sacrifice! How does one say that in French? La sacrifice? – Mais Non! Sacrifice is an old-fashioned word - funny – it actually strikes me that sacrifice is a - gasp - Christian word!

“Liberals, as advocates of personal freedom, found themselves on the side of large numbers of people whose "free" lifestyles got them into trouble more often than the not-so-free hard working bible thumpers who were socking money away, and, being sympathetic people, liberals got into the habit of advocating social programs more often than "conservatives" who tend to advocate less free but more prosperity promoting behavior.”

Randall – that is brilliant! What you are suggesting is that leftists demand not only free lifestyles but also FREEDOM FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS!

Bravo! How right you are! I think you may have just summed up much of liberal western pathology in a nutshell! So I’ll say it again:

LEFTISTS DEMAND NOT ONLY FREE LIFESTYLES BUT ALSO FREEDOM FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS!

Randall – you are such a smart man I'm rendered somewhat speechless!

And lest anyone accuse me of intolerance I will be the first one to step up to the plate, having been born around the year 1960 - to say - oh man - our generation really really screwed things up. That's my apology to both my parent's generation and to the generation coming after me - the one's who are going to have to clean up the mess that my generation made.

I will say that I hope that Randall is only 20-something and actually represents the hope of our next generation...

P.S. Come back Randall - I want to know how old you are. If you're my age I will forgive you but if you're only 20-soemthing you'll actually make my day...

Posted by: Caroline at April 16, 2005 06:13 PM

It's been a slow day so hopefully noone will object to my links to the the British psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple, who writes so eloquently for City Journal on the utter devastation of European society wrought by the social welfare system:

The Frivolity of Evil

Barbarians at the Gates of Paris

How can anyone read this (and the basic facts laid out by Mr. Dalrymple can be corroborated manyfold elsewhere) - and not feel that western liberalism (leftism?) has screwed up bigtime?

Really - given the topic of Jeremy's post - one could go on and on and on. It's not just a political issue - it's a psychological issue. We're seemingly coming to a crossroads in which we have to confront very basic psychological questions about how human beings - and by extension - human societies - actually function.

It's just a personal opinion but I think one of the first things that we have to do away with is GUILT. Frankly - it's just not helping! The truth is that GUILT as an emotion is actually quite self-indulgent. Guilt is Ego-Centric. But of course people think that the alternative to getting rid of guilt is brutality. The West seems to feel that Guilt is the last bastion against brutality. But there is actually a great deal of evidence to suggest that Guilt is very self-destructive and may in the long run actually be contributing to brutality.

Okay - count me a little bit nuts - but is there any hope of understanding western civilization in it's relationship to the "Other" - from a psychological POV - in some other way than invoking the emotion of "Guilt"?

Think about it! The west is completely guilt-ridden! Guilt is the emotion that defines the left! Guilt is the emotion that defines a whole lot of western "liberal" parents who can't control their own children! Guilt is an emotion that has quite possibly made its way into our law enforcement services who are losing control of our streets. Frankly - once could go on and on and on.

So I ask - what is guilt? Does anyone actually want to deny it's importance as a human emotion that is having global implications these days?

Also - is there an alternative emotional response for the west to offer? Not Guilt. But not brutality either. Something else?

What about "Tough Love"? Doesn't that fall in between guilt and brutality?

Tough love.

That's where I think we need to go...

Posted by: Caroline at April 16, 2005 07:07 PM

Well - after suggesting some rational psychological approach akin to "tough love" for dealing with western pathology - I did a little google search on "tough love" and this is what I came up with on the very first google search page. It's called: "Enabling and Rescuing vs Tough Love":

"What the family dynamics research shows is that it is actually the good child - the family hero role -who is the most emotionally dishonest and out of touch with him/herself, while the acting-out child - the scapegoat - is the most emotionally honest child in the dysfunctional family."

Unbelievable. Okay. Forget it. I really fucking give up on western civilization. I mean that...

Posted by: Caroline at April 16, 2005 08:45 PM

Unbelievable. Okay. Forget it. I really fucking give up on western civilization. I mean that...--Caroline

It is discouraging,is it not.But remember,although there are self-indulgent effetes to spare,they lack 'SUBSTANCE',and merely require someone or something to stand up to them.

This too shall pass.Everything decays as the wheel turns,and sooner or later these creatures will pass away.If nothing else,they cannot and will not survive the coming age of scarcity.They don't know how.

Posted by: dougf at April 17, 2005 06:59 AM

>>>"If nothing else,they cannot and will not survive the coming age of scarcity.They don't know how."

dougf,

and they're a product of an overly prosperous and decadent society where people have nothing to struggle for. So they seek meaning in guilt. There's no time to seek meaning in guilt when you're struggling to survive.

Posted by: spaniard at April 17, 2005 11:35 AM

There is nothing especially wrong with 'Guilt' so long as it's applied correctly. There's no reason to feel guilty if you are well off and your neighbor isn't unless you are taking dollars out of his pocket. That we indeed feel guilty over such things is merely a hallmark of our Christian morality.

A life free of 'guilt' would be morally disasterous.

Posted by: Epitome at April 17, 2005 02:47 PM

Epitome,

Assuming there's something to feel guilty about. And that's the point-- there isn't.

Posted by: TeamAmerica at April 17, 2005 04:22 PM

Caroline,

I appreciate your kind words, but I think you're overdoing it a bit. Brilliant?! That's just going too far.

I agree that contemporary liberalism seems - to a marked degree - to emphasize freedom from the consequences of one's actions. Liberals wouldn't put it that way, but that is the way it seems to come out too often. (I know it's not that simple. Nothing is, but there are patterns...)

I very much appreciate Theodore Dalrymple. You should read "Life at the Bottom" if you have not. It's about the IDEAS that keep contemporary poor English at the bottom. Very very good book. Full of great observations like (paraphrasing) "Those who claim they can't stop themselves from beating their girlfriends never seem to have uncrontollable urges to beat up large men or armed police officers."

I am 40. At twentysomething, my "politics" were as expected.

Posted by: Randall at April 17, 2005 05:59 PM

The U.S. military reported Saturday that a CBS News stringer detained after a gunbattle between U.S. forces and insurgents this month "tested positive for explosive residue." "Multinational forces continue to investigate potential collaboration between the stringer and terrorists, and allegations the stringer had knowledge of future terrorist attacks," said Sgt. John Franzen of Task Force Freedom in Mosul

Well I suppose that possible apology to CBS is somewhat moot,at this point.

Posted by: dougf at April 17, 2005 09:28 PM

Unbelievable. Okay. Forget it. I really fucking give up on western civilization. I mean that...

Caroline - If you think "behaving good is bad, and behaving bad is good" is crazy you should check this out - it's worse.

It's about CAASS or "child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome" - it's quite amazing junk science being used in the courts.

Posted by: markytom at April 18, 2005 06:19 AM

Cariline,

I just saw your expression of frustration resulting from the psychobabble you read regarding how emotionally dishonest "good" children are relative to their "bad" or difficult siblings.

I would like to respectfully suggest you not get too worked up about such things. This is VERY typical stuff, and more evidence of the incestuous relationship between lefty politics and "social science."

The idea that emotional honesty is INHERENTLY AND AWLAYS GOOD is simply not true. Obviously, self denial has its problems, but life, particularly in a complex civilization (which is the only life any rational human being would want) requires a certain amount of self discipline, "guilt" (the internalized awareness that one has done something harmful, self-destructive, or both), and, for lack of a better word, "repression."

The left hates such things and is trying to undermine them with a lot of politicized psuedo science.

Understanding what makes society work (or fail) and makes individuals work (or fail) is something that the social science establishment does not understand half as well as it thinks it does.

I think this is changing. Crying baby. Gotta run...

Posted by: Randall at April 18, 2005 07:31 AM

Ah, delicious irony: being told that conservatism is the ideology of individual liberty while some conservatives do their best to outlaw blowjobs between consenting, married, heterosexual adults in private.

Freedom!

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 18, 2005 08:08 AM

Formerly Proud,

you can blowjob a herd of goats if you like, just do it in the privacy of your bedroom.

Posted by: TeamAmerica at April 18, 2005 08:17 AM

Thanks for permission, TeamAmerica. Unfortunately, if you wanted a blowjob from a herd of goats, neither of us could grant you permission. No, if you wanted a blowjob from a herd of goats, even in the privacy of your own blowjob-giving goat herd's barn, you would have to, in many cases, get permission from your local government.

The reason for this is that social conservatives (many, though not all, of whom side with the Republican Party) have outlawed sodomy in some states. Sodomy, if you recall, includes your blowjob-from-a-herd-of-goats example. Privacy or no privacy, there are conservatives that would want to stop you, who I can only assume are an adult capable of consenting to such an act of your own free will, from getting a blowjob from a herd of goats. If that's your thing.

My point is that the notions that "conservatives are for individual liberty" and "liberals hate freedom!!!!" that I see frequently in this comment section, as in this thread, are, well, bunk. There are plenty of conservatives, including the President, who seem to love using the big gub'mint to tell people what to do, whether through an amendment to the constitution outlawing gay marriage to his desire to outlaw abortion. There are liberals who, shockingly enough, feel that the government should stay out of decisions involving things like abortion, the death penalty, or living wills, because they feel that the government is in a bad position to make such decisions for people and that people should make those decisions for themselves.

There are, of course, plenty of bipartisan efforts at using the gub'mint as a nanny state to tell people what to do. See also: steroids-in-baseball Congressional hearings.

The point is that there are liberals who love freedom, and liberals who hate it; there are conservatives who love freedom, and those who hate it. Neither side has a lock on classical liberalism, because neither side is a monolithic, logically consistent ideology.

So, we can either believe the "analysis" of Stephen Den Beste, which is based on...um....I guess his impression of what he reads on the internets, because I really totally value his opinion on that, or...and I know this is crazy! but we can acknowledge that humans are more complex than conservatives=good and liberals hate freedom.

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 18, 2005 08:29 AM

Hi Jeremy,

It seems to me that you have to answer this question - to get to any other answers:

Is power inherently corrupting?

Power is certainly inherent in government. I'd say that's the definition of government. So if government always corrupts those who have power to some extent - then you have to build a political theory around handling that corruption.

I think that the left always built a paradigm where they somehow had a government which didn't corrupt the people who ran it. This made government a very large power for good.

The right tended to view government as currupting for those who ran it, greatly decreasing what government could accomplish.

You seem to be saying that you dislike corrupt governments. Well, that's ok. But you haven't explained how to make non-corrupt governments occur - other than having the people outside of government stop the corruption (by giving them power?).

Until you answer the basic question (is power inherently corrupting?), your dancing around the problem.

Jim

Posted by: jim_bob at April 18, 2005 09:48 AM

"The point is that there are liberals who love freedom, and liberals who hate it; there are conservatives who love freedom, and those who hate it. Neither side has a lock on classical liberalism, because neither side is a monolithic, logically consistent ideology."

A quote that stuck with me, and I'm paraphrasing liberally, goes 'Statism is absolute control by the state, Libertarianism is complete freedom of the individual. Liberalism, Conservatism and everything else inbetween is just semantics"

Neither Liberalism (in the Anglospheric sense) or Conservatism (in the American sense) can accuse the other of trying to inhibit freedom without 3 fingers pointing back at them. Both of them have things they are laissez-faire about and things they are nannies about. They can try and argue in favor of why such nannying is neccessary and both sides do, but neither of them can then beat their chests and claim to be maximizers of freedom.

Posted by: Epitome at April 18, 2005 10:12 AM

Randall – I should have guessed you were over 40! Too wise to be in your 20’s :)

I apologize for my Saturday night rant (as well as the hyperbole!) but I had just found out that yet another person close to me quit a perfectly good job because they weren’t getting sufficient "respect" and it wasn’t “self-fulfilling”. Of course there was no other job lined up to replace it or I wouldn’t have a problem with it. However, there being no other job, it will me moi that will absorb the implications. Ah yes, but being the dumb working stiff I am no doubt makes me emotionally “dishonest” or perhaps “inauthentic”!

Spaniard said :"and they're a product of an overly prosperous and decadent society where people have nothing to struggle for"

That calls to mind Maslow's famous "heirarchy of needs". At the bottom are basic needs for food and safety and once one satisfies those, one supposedly climbs the hierarchy to satisfy higher-order needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. It occurs to me that our society seems to have a misplaced focus on those higher order “needs”, perhaps precisely because we've already done such a good job of satisfying the lower order ones. But instead of expecting people to earn self-esteem, we are apparently required to provide it unconditionally, as if high self-esteem is a “right”. This emphasis on providing unconditional self-esteem seems to have literally permeated the culture, with all sorts of devastating consequences, as seen in child-rearing, in the classroom, in youth sports, even in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. God forbid that we should give anyone "poor self-esteem" or condemn their choices made to “actualize” themselves. But no wonder people just act more and more selfishly and outrageously. The long-term consequences are what Dalrymple so frighteningly portrays. (Interesting that the Jessica Lunde murder is a great example of exactly what Dalrymple was describing in that 1st article. I assume the girl's mother was aware that her boyfriend was a convicted rapist?)

Randall - “This is VERY typical stuff, and more evidence of the incestuous relationship between lefty politics and "social science.”

Excellent point. (not brilliant though :-)). I don’t think I ever really realized what a negative effect much of psychology and psychiatry and the mental health sciences generally have actually had where it has intersected with public policy. The CAASS article that Markytom links to is outrageous. Another outrage IMO is the widespread use of Ritalin in kids. We make it impossible for the adults to control the classroom and then prescribe medication to kids who are out of control.

But liberals, being the largely affluent folks they tend to be, are able to move away from the social problems they have created with their policies, thereby avoiding the consequences. An article this past weekend,e.g. indicated that up to 30% of the Dutch want to emigrate the Netherlands.

Posted by: Caroline at April 18, 2005 10:25 AM

Caroline,

I'm curious. You said that liberals tend to be "largely affluent folks". I am wondering about that impression: from where does it come?

If you look at CNN's National Exit Poll from the last election, you can see that while Kerry won among those with incomes lower than $50,000 a year, Bush won among those with incomes higher than $50,000 a year.

Kerry's largest margin of victory was among those earning less than $15,000 a year. Bush's largest margin of victory was among those earning $200,000 a year or more.

Obviously there isn't going to be a perfect match between "liberals" and "people who voted for Kerry", but I hope we can agree that there's enough overlap that we can make some generalizations. It would seem that liberals, in general, tend to be less wealthy than conservatives, in general.

Again, obviously, there will be many exceptions; rich liberals such as George Soros and poor conservatives such as the average Army private, for example.

But generally, it seems to be the case that liberals are not as wealthy as conservatives. So, again, I'm curious: why do believe that liberals tend to be "largely affluent"? Do you know many affluent liberals? Are there other statistics that contradict the CNN exit poll that should be taken into account? Or is this generalization about tens of millions of people based on their portrayal by their political opponents?

PS - I love the Hegelian dialectic at work in modern politics. First, we have liberals portrayed as wealthy elitists, out of touch with the common American. Then we laud the common America - you know, the farmer, the soldier, the factory worker, the good, wholesome, Church-going Red Stater who reliably votes conservative because they know, in their honest, simple hearts, that Bush is a good man who will save them from terrorism AND the liberal tax-man. Then we casually ignore the fact that all those common Americans, the poor ones at least, vote Democratic. Woops!

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 18, 2005 10:58 AM

Former Proud Conservative - This is quite off the cuff (meaning no stats to back it up) but I do think that most of the sorts of liberal social changes I am referring to date to the 1960's and were championed primarily by affluent baby boomers who rebelled against the conservative generation of their parents.

Re affluence and liberals/conservatives - I get the impression that the republicans are mostly the middle class, while the liberals are split between the wealthy elites and those at the bottom of the social ladder whom the elites champion (I am pretty sure I did see just these stats in the last election although I'd have to hunt around for them - I'll do that when I get a chance)). In many repects this pattern was also apparent in the 1960's - you had affluent young liberals championing the cause of the poor and disenfranchised. I'm not entirely sure that the liberal elites don't do this cynically, to some extent, to gain votes. And I feel that alot of wealthy liberal elites do it out of guilt.

The middle-classes cannot easily afford to move away from the problems confronting the lower classes the way the liberal elites can. I think that makes them more focused on the messes created by liberal policies while the liberals can simply continue to assuage their guilt with wrong-minded policies that don't affect them because they can just leave.

Posted by: Caroline at April 18, 2005 11:30 AM

Caroline,

Fair enough. But, again, I'm confused. Many liberals, myself included, live smack dab in the middle of the largest urban areas in America. The city I make home, Washington, has one of the highest murder rates in the country, for example. I actually left a pleasant, blue-collar-crime-free (but not white collar!) suburb to come here. I literally live next door to some of the worst ghettos on the eastern seaboard. I'm well-off enough, I suppose, that I could leave if I wanted.

So...what? I really don't know where you get the notion that liberals make a mess of something and then run away. Last time I checked, liberals live right in the middle of the mess, regardless of who "made" it. Aren't the exurbs and suburbs supposed to be home of the conservative? Are they really as hellish as they must be, if you're right?

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 18, 2005 11:36 AM

If you had a room of 1000 of That Sort of People Commonly Referred to As Conservative These Days (TSOPCRTACTDs) and asked them all if they believed sodomy should be illegal, I would be surprised if one single person said, "yes."

As Spaniard said, the whole spectrum shifted Leftward. What is now called conservative is very different from what was called conservative back in the days when sodomy laws were not the pathetic joke they have (blessedly) become. The "conservatives want to criminalize sodomy" thing is a dead horse. I've never met one who did, although several are opposed to having judges pretend to be legislators and removing laws from the books by fiat.

Conservative exceptions to individual liberty THESE DAYS tend to involve areas where there is a disagreement about what constitutes innocent human life. If you believe a fetus, or a brain-damaged woman is a form of innocent human life, then you have to make a choice between the "less intrusive" government principle and the "protecting innocent human life is an essential role of government" principle. Not hypocrisy, simply the periodic necessity of chosing between conflicting principles. For the record, I frequently disagree with "cons" on these issues, but do not consider it hypocritical for a small gummint type to feel an exception is in order to protect what he/she feels is an innocent life.

Be that as it may, the Federal Marriage Ammendment is silly and deserves to fail. Let the states decide. (You may not like what they decide, howeverr). Same with abortion. Let the states decide. Let democratically accountable LAWMAKERS make the law.

As a general rule - with enough exceptions to keep people arguing forever - TSOPCRTACTDs tend to emphasize the relationship between behavior and what is conventially regarded as success more so than their "liberal" counterparts who rarely if ever talk or think about the relationship between behavior and success. They harp incessantly about the social/economic "system" that prevents everybody except gays(higher income than straights on average), Asians, Caribbean-descended blacks, whites, Indians (as in Ghandi) from enjoying the success that they should be enjoying.

Posted by: Randall at April 18, 2005 12:01 PM

Unfortunately, I believe I just lost a rather lengthy reply to Randall.

Let me try to sum up: currently, adults can be dragged out of their homes and charged with a crime for having consensual sex with each other. In all honesty, if the threat of being dragged from your home by the police and charged with a crime for consensual sex doesn't seem a little unsettling, then your commitment to individual freedom is probably a little lacking.

What more do conservatives have to do before people start acknowledging that individual liberty isn't high on their list of priorities? Do they need to call for State regulation of TV and radio because of naughty words and a bare back? Oh, wait, they do that. Do they need to demand that a governor override a judicial decision through the use of force, sparking a constitutional crisis, because they didn't like the decision? Oh, wait, they did that. Do they need to want, very badly, to take life-or-death decisions out of the hands of the people best able to make those decisions and give that power to the State? Oh, right, that too. Do they want to stop just about everyone from having any kind of sex they don't like, whether it be teen, gay, or kinky? Check!

Seriously, the list goes on and on, and we haven't even gotten to Bush's record of handing out our tax dollars like confetti. Because fiscal irresponsibility - that's totally conservative, right?

Oh, and I call bullshit on the notion that you can't find a conservative who wants to keep sodomy illegal. Because, yeah, if 100% of the population wants to make it legal, it's totally going to stay illegal, right? Randall, meet Justice Scalia.

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 18, 2005 12:27 PM
Oh, but I just realized something important. Randall, you said that
For the record, I frequently disagree with "cons" on these issues, but do not consider it hypocritical for a small gummint type to feel an exception is in order to protect what he/she feels is an innocent life.
And therein lies my whole point, which was: neither conservatives or liberals have any real ideological devotion to either big government OR individual freedom, at least ideologically, since neither side is a rigid, monolithic, logically consistent block.

For example, I consider myself a liberal. My "goal", as a liberal, is to try to make lives better. As a means to this end, sometimes the government is the best way of achieving this, and sometimes it is the worst, though frequently it's somewhere in between. Obviously, there are conservatives who agree, in that they might believe, say, that the government is the best tool for achieving their goal of protecting the life of a fetus, say.

There are liberals, such as myself, who feel that the government should stay out of a great number of decisions. There are conservatives who feel the same way. There are liberals AND conservatives who would like to see the government telling people what to do all the time.

So, ok, seems we agree, in principle, but disagree when you basically bullshit your way through excusing conservative nanny-statism while attacking liberal nanny-statism.

Remember, Republicans ARE the state right now. Oh, those terrible liberals, they want to limit our freedoms! Except, they're powerless to do so, at least on the federal level. So, if you've got any complaining to do against a nanny state that won't let you suck a nice cock or fill a birth control perscription, that financially destroys a tv station because they showed a boobie or attack a professor because he's so terribly biased, remember which side we have to thank for that.

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 18, 2005 12:44 PM

Former PC - "Do they need to want, very badly, to take life-or-death decisions out of the hands of the people best able to make those decisions and give that power to the State?"

Well personally I favor vigilante justice and shooting criminals caught in the act on site but somehow I don't think liberals would go for it.

In all seriousness Former PC - re the fact that you live in the inner city - I know several very serious liberals who do, my sister included. None of the ones I know have kids - just curious whether you do? Cause most of the liberals with kids that I know want to live in the communities with the best public schools. But still - this is all anecdotal. I just spent a good 20 minutes trying to google stats on where precisely libs live but I'm a really crappy googler. Also, the issue is somewhat confused by the fact that not all Dems are "liberals" and also by the growing number of Republicans plus suburban dwellers over the past several decades. So I wonder how many of those conservatives are former liberals who fled the cities in the wake of their policies? It doesn't appear to be an easy question to answer so I will have to rescind my statement that liberals flee the consequences of their policies. In the future I'll try to stick to statements I can support with facts. Darn. Generalizations are alot more fun.

Incidentally, speaking of Theodore Dalrymple (earlier)- looks like he has another article about the impact of social welfare policies in Britain - at City Journal (found the link at Melanie Phillips today).

The Roads to Serfdom

Posted by: Caroline at April 18, 2005 01:11 PM

Two small kids and just plain out of time. Some day I'll be able to keep up the pace on these things.

We're going too many directions at once.

My first point was that the new axis is NOT liberal/conservative, it's libertarian/socialist.

Be that as it may, my point about conservatives/rightists was that they tend to emphasize behaviors that have a much higher stastical likelihood of resulting in success than do the sorts of behaviors liberals emphasize, and for that reason have become advocates of social programs, NOT that liberals do not believe in intrusive government.

I believe wholeheartedly in your right to put your thing into whatever consensual orafice is available, but don't make me pay for the kid. K? I know, there won't be any kids because schools are teaching all about contraception, except out-of-wedlocks births are remarkably high. And guess who gets the bill for all these kids? The people having them? No, it's all those rich bastards in the suburbs.

The freedoms you talk about are all well and good, but my point remains, "Conservatives emphasis a value system that is designed to keep people out of trouble." Since humans are human, and life is complicated, they fail often, but the point (am I repeating myself?) is that the motivation is to at least try to keep yourself out of trouble. The liberals, who NEVER talk about such things, but do talk an awful lot about cocks and boobies and their (acknowledged by yours truly) right to seen porn on TV have a perfectly valid point, but such things, important as they are, do not make a significant contribution to keeping people off of the sorts of programs liberals (who at one time were advocates of LIMITED government) advocate.

That's 8 cents from me (10? 12? I lost count.

Posted by: Randall at April 18, 2005 03:27 PM

I said: "Former PC - re the fact that you live in the inner city - I know several very serious liberals who do, my sister included. None of the ones I know have kids - just curious whether you do? Cause most of the liberals with kids that I know want to live in the communities with the best public schools."

I stumbled across this rather fascinating article that discusses how presence or absence of children affects where people live and why they tend to vote the way they do. Some of this surprised me (e.g. Democrats using environmentalism to keep illegal immigrants out of their communities) - but it does seem to imply that it is probably childless liberals who tend to stay in the cities. It doesn't really answer the Q of who is responsible for the sorry state of inner city public schools and high crime rates but it does seem to imply that folks with children are the ones who try to get away from it and once they do they tend to vote more republican.

Baby Gap

Posted by: Caroline at April 18, 2005 07:49 PM

I find Orwell's distinction to be most useful - he divided the world up into people who were decent, and people who weren't. That's sort of a conservative notion, which is why so many on the right are enamored of him - but I think were Orwell alive today, he'd condemn both the Islamacists and the raving anti- everything unreconstructed marxist (and leaning totalitarian) left, but also warn about the consequences of irresponsible corporatism.

In my old youth, or early middle age, I'm coming to respect Burke's conservative notion more and more - the idea that we need to have rules to protect men from each other, but that the focus of the rules and government should be to secure a few things for all men - including importantly protection from being preyed upon by other men - then leave them alone. Rather than worrying about public policy through a lens of rigid adherence to political doctrine - would it make Ayn Rand happy, or would Marx approve - I think we're better off asking whether policies produce decent results. I'm coming to be highly suspect of anybody who attempts to adhere to political schools; philosohpy should inform choices, but whenever ideology trumps our concern for individual humans affected by it, the ideology has become what Orwell described as "smelly little orthodoxies." A rigid Rothbardian is almost as destructive, to my mind, as a rigid Maoist, as a rigid socialist; the only difference being the Rothbardian is happy to let your neighbor prey on you (state police power is immoral, etc...)the Maoist would prefer to do it himself, and the unrestrained socialist would prefer to have your neighbors benefit from his pillaging of your means.

Posted by: Al Maviva at April 19, 2005 04:54 AM

Randal, I'm sorry, I don't know how to respond. I think what you just wrote was such a gross mischaracterization of the political dichotomy that exists in this country that I really just don't have the stomach to go at it at length. Suffice it to say that the apparent liberal obsession with cocks and boobies (because liberals NEVER talk about helping people during hard times or trouble) is because we feel that adults should be able to make most decisions for themselves. Conservatives, it seems, feel like Big Papa Government should be making most of those decisions - whether it's about cocks and boobies, or living wills, or birth control pills, or whatever. Not every liberal, not every conservative. But call me crazy, I just happen to think that I should make those decisions for myself, you should make them for yourself, and that's pretty much that.

And honestly, I don't know where on God's Green Earth you get the notion that the dichotomy is actually between socialism and libertarianism. I am aware of no socialist who has ever written that we need to regulate public airwaves so as to avoid ever seeing a boobie. I am also not aware of any real live socialists. Raise your hand if you know a real live socialist! Wait, what's that, none of you do? You mean....socialism is just a boogyman? Oh, whew. I was worried there for a second that a discredited ideology that only a remarkably tiny fraction of people even pay lip service to might actually be informing decisions.

And Caroline, it's not line conservatives ever try to keep poor, browner people out of their neighborhoods. Nope. Never.

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 19, 2005 05:42 AM

I have a number of problems with Jeremy's piece.
1) As an Italian-American I'm sick of the "latte liberal" stereotype. First of all caffe lattes are supposed to be for breakfast, but in any case in America they are the drink of wealthy people, not liberals, and a lot of those SUV driving, wealthy women I see at Starbucks are clearly Bush supporters (bumper stickers usually a give-away).

2) I completely understand and sympathize with Jeremy and Michael's disgust with the anti-war left, but I don't get why that would drive any thinking person to today's pro-creationist, fiscally irresponsible, anti-judge Republican party. The American right has not suddenly become a party of compassion - I don't remember anyone on the right worrying a lot about the plight of Afghani women before 9/11, although I do remember a number of liberal womens groups working hard to undermine the Taliban. (Actually the suffering in Afghanistan WAS a big talking point on the left pre 9/11, I don't where Jeremy was hiding. Which of course shows the hypocrisy of the anti-war left in sharper relief). I don't see a lot of conservative concern for political oppression in Jordan. Bush has not exactly been outspoken about Vincente Fox trying to flagrantly manipulate the next Mexican presidential election. I don't remember a massive outcry on the right to defend Kosovars, Uzbek muslims, or even Egyptian Christians. You'll find some good sincere people on the right and on the left, but the truth is most Americans are incredibly provincial, no matter what their political beliefs. They tend to view the whole world in terms of their narrow parochial political battles. Leftists really hate Bush because of his domestic policies and then extrapolate this hatred into supporting people who are clearly our enemies if you give it a seconds worth of thought. The Right for the most part is really just as isolationist as ever - maybe Bush and his group truly believe in the cause of spreading freedom - but most conservatives I deal with on a daily basis, and being from New Hampshire I deal with quite a few, don't care two figs about Iraqi democracy, they just want to kick some muslim ass.

Posted by: Vanya at April 19, 2005 07:42 AM

It's nice to note Al's mention of George Orwell.

There's plenty of double speak in this thread, too many still claiming to be the one and only good guy/girl, with a mix of neither kind (a libertarian here and there).

You write to an audience of too many whose thinking devices long since melted into a lump of lead. Fortunately they are an increasing minority (on either the left and right) and the point is becoming increasingly moot as both drown in their own sauce.

Even the business of coalition building is suffering as there become too many coalitions to which each one belongs. Wearing the red badge of courage is indeed becoming a bloody game. How bad is bad and how good is good is a heavy burden for the purists, best avoided at all costs.

Posted by: steveoBrien at April 19, 2005 01:54 PM

Former PC: "And Caroline, it's not li(k)e conservatives ever try to keep poor, browner people out of their neighborhoods. Nope. Never."

Former PC - I applaud Tom Delay for trying to crack down on illegal immigration (something Bush is obviously doing nothing about). It has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with recognizing not only national security issues but also the fact that our society can only assimilate so many people successfully at a given pace without causing a collapse in education, health care, law enforcement and so on. I deplore the big business interests encouraging it but I also deplore the bleeding heart liberals who can't say no. E.g. in NC where I live the debate is now going on re whether to grant in-state tuition rates to illegals (we have one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the country). The answer is NO. Does it suck for the kids who are already here through no fault of their own? Yes. But obviously the consequence of allowing it is to encourage more illegal immigration that will eventually strain the entire public system. And that affects everyone in the end, including the illegals themselves. It is “tough love” to say no.

Not being an expert on the cause of the failure of public schools (a major cause of white flight as I noted above) I read around a bit and noted that obviously poverty is a main cause but also that the highest poverty group is female head of households - no man around. Other major causes cited were poor parental involvement and a lack of positive peer effects - meaning the positive influence of achievement oriented students on peers. Achievement oriented students are literally ostracized in these settings.

These are social trends - no fathers, no parental involvement, negative peer pressure. I have to think that emasculating the teachers themselves and making it impossible for them to impose discipline is also a big factor (personally I would bring back limited corporal punishment). But none of these major factors have anything to do with throwing money at the problem. Rather they appear to be attributable to a collapse of social mores.

So what is the cause of this collapse in social mores? I am tempted to attribute much of this to the cultural revolution of the 60’s (liberals), to current liberal excuse-making and “white” bashing and also to failure of black leadership.( I am open to other explanations.)

Which is why Bill Cosby’s comments last year were almost shocking in their bluntness.

Bill Cosby

I thought his comments were great, while my uber- liberal sister was horrified.

Lest you peg me a racist (although I’m getting used to it on this blog) I live in a NC city, population about 200,000, exactly evenly split b/w black and white with about 12% Hispanic currently and rapidly growing. I live on the outskirts of town in a suburban brick ranch type neighborhood (median housing price is about $120,000). The neighborhood is racially mixed, everyone mows their lawn on Saturday and the kids all ride their bikes in the streets, B%W together. It’s a great place to live.

However, the blacks in my neighborhood are all 2 parent families. Also, the church is a strong focus of the black community here. In fact, historically this was one of the strongest, self-sufficient black communities in America many years ago and I imagine that many of the factors that made it so successful then have somehow survived.

So it’s a cliché I know. But these are all traditional, conservative values in action. The thing is they work and they don’t rely on throwing money at the problem. So it’s really not very helpful for liberals to yammer on and on about who can put whose appendage in whose orifice as if this is the hallmark of “freedom”. And it’s certainly not helpful to have the ACLU working feverishly to hide Christian tradition behind closed doors and remove its symbols from the public square because we’re somehow in danger of turning into a “theocracy”, because that actually ignores the strong role of the church in keeping many minority communities thriving. In my mind, freedom is being able to walk down my street in safety and enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass and seeing kids, both black and white together, riding their bikes. My only interest is in understanding what it is that makes that work. Right now, I am inclined to think that the “conservatives” have the edge over the “liberals” in understanding the underlying psychosocial factors that actually create successful communities that no one is inclined to flee.

I know I know. This is a foreign policy blog but it's a dead thread, so hopefully no harm done :-)

Posted by: Caroline at April 19, 2005 06:03 PM

Just a quick comment, not enough time to really go in-depth, but....

Considering that population trends in this country are complex - some urban areas dying, some exploding, lots of growing sub/exurbs, dying rural areas in the Great Plains, etc - and considering that voting patterns are similarly complex, I find attempts at explaining internal population shifts by political ideology to be, well, a little lacking. Simplismus, nicht?

Posted by: The Commenter Formerly Known as Proud Conservative at April 19, 2005 06:13 PM

Of course, but the more pesky nuance you add, the less easy it is to make 2 dimensional catch-all political statements so just drop it.

Repeat after me. Red Staters have names like 'Carl, Blue Staters have names like 'Lenny'.

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