December 08, 2004

Happy Hanukkah, Democracy

I look at encouraging signs around the globe in my latest AmSpec column.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:28 AM | Comments (2)

December 07, 2004

The Chicago Fire

There was a five-alarm fire last night at the LaSalle Bank building in Chicago; two firemen were seriously injured. It could have been much worse; the building had no sprinkler system, which, as Eli Lehrer explained early last year, buildings really should have.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:37 AM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2004

MDR*

Coincidentally, shortly after writing the post below, I went to the mailbox and found a package from Amazon; I knew immediately that it had to be a gift from Dave Weigel. He predicted a Kerry victory and I predicted a Bush victory, so we bet an Amazon wishlist item on the election results. Since I moved this month (to Owings Mills, Maryland, about 20 minutes away from my old pad), I asked him to delay the order until this week. (While we're on the subject of Amazon wishlists, here's mine. Now you don't need to ask what I want this year, Mom.)

Dave bought me Our Oldest Enemy : A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France. The card: "Je ne regrette rien."

*French equivalent of "LOL."

Posted by John Tabin at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

A Friendly Fisking

Someone whose byline you'd probably recognize asked me a few weeks ago when our mutual friend Dave Weigel went insane politically. (I'm not sure if the conversation was on the record, which is why I'm being coy.) Dave's drifted leftward in the past few months, and as far as I could tell the catalyst was the Abu Gharib scandal (he ended up splitting his ticket between Kerry and Republican legislators on November 2). But I suspect the necessary condition was having recently joined the editorial board of a mainstream newspaper, where intellectual rigor is necessarily sacrificed on the altar of daily deadlines. It's not so much the ideological drift that bothers me-- ideoligical drift is, after all, what has made the Naderite-turned-conservative-turned-libertarian-turned-whatever so interesting and insightful in the past. What bothers me is the intellectual laziness; it's gotten to the point where Dave's regularly putting out stuff that should be beneath him. The only thing for it is a fisking, the intellectual-health benefits of which Dave himself has extolled.

Let's take his post from yesterday titled "Shark jumpery"

More reasons I won't restore my permalink to Instapundit. He links approvingly to this Anne Applebaum quote as the Meaning of Democratic Defeat.
At least a part of the Western left -- or rather the Western far left -- is now so anti-American, or so anti-Bush, that it actually prefers authoritarian or totalitarian leaders to any government that would be friendly to the United States. Many of the same people who found it hard to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein find it equally difficult to say anything nice about pro-democracy demonstrators in Ukraine. Many of the same people who would refuse to condemn a dictator who is anti-American cannot bring themselves to admire democrats who admire, or at least don't hate, the United States.

I call bullshit. First, what was Applebaum's proof of left-wing democracy-hating? Two articles in the Guardian - the British paper. She only points to one American leftist.

So? Applebaum specifically referred to "the Western left"; last I checked, the Guardian was still, for the moment, published in the West.
Both articles were liberally quoted, for example, in a Web log written by the editor of the Nation, who, while writing that she admired "citizens fighting corrupt regimes," just as in the United States, she also noted darkly that the wife of the Ukrainian opposition leader, a U.S. citizen of Ukrainian descent, "worked in the Reagan White House."

And this quote is the nugget of a column that Glenn Reynolds uses to understand "WHAT'S WRONG WITH LIBERALISM."

No, it isn't. It's clear from his post that Glenn was connecting Applebaum's column to Peter Beinert's excellent New Republic essay, which he accurately advertises as dealing with "WHAT'S WRONG WITH LIBERALISM, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT." Beinert calls on liberals to marginalize the neo-Wallacites who are so influencial in the Democratic party, and Applebaum was writing about the same neo-Wallacites in the context of the broader Western left-- and to suggest that the intellectual left in Britain and the US are entirely discreet elements is silly. Leftists on either side of the pond read each other's arguments and write for each other's publications on a regular basis.
And wait! We're not done!

1.)Is Reynolds aware of the difference between The Nation leftists and Democratic liberals? Hint: Democratic liberals are criticized by The Nation all the time.

Yes. I know because he's linking to one of those sides' salvos (Beinert's) in their ongoing intramural battle in this very post.
2.)Does Reynolds read The Nation - or any lefty news, for that matter?
Yup. If you don't believe me, run searches on Instapundit for things like "Eric Alterman" or "American Prospect" or "Guardian" ("The Nation" will turn up lots of false positives for obvious reasons).
What does he think of the advocacy in lefty news for democracy movements in Haiti, Venezuela, East Timor? Agree with them or not, don't such concerns indicate that lefties might not be such dictator-loving fascists after all?
Once again, running searches for those countries will elucidate Glenn's views on all those topics. Suffice it to say that his support for democracy does not hinge on what George W. Bush thinks about them; the support of some on the left does. Which was Applebaum's point.

3.)Here's a thought - might the total pig's ear we made of the Saddam overthrow, putting our hopes and dreams into Iranian spy Ahmed Chalabi, have made some people a little skeptical of the White House's judgment in dictator-democracy disputes?.
The premises here are flawed-- Iraq would have to be going considerably worse than it is to make one wish for the days of Saddam Hussein's regime, which resembled parts of the pig considerably more offensive than the ear, and any fair evaluation of the bizarre story of Ahmed Chalabi, whose role in the administration's "hopes and dreams" Dave grossly overstates, must conclude that the jury is still out on whether Chalabi was an "Iranian spy." But even if Dave's premises here were accurate, he'd still be stealing a base, because much of the left was against dealing with Saddam beforehand, not because of anything in this administration's record, but simply because they were Republicans-- a phenomenom Dave used to understand. It is simply depraved to depend on an anti-Bush lense when deciding where to come down on questions of war and peace, let alone on "dictator-democracy disputes." (Hint: dictators are bad.)
This is why I delinked Reynolds. Strawman arguments and wimpy parroting of whatever Republican war hawks are pushing at the moment.
How deeply ironic.

It goes on:

UPDATE: Reynolds wonders whether "whether there's a figure in the Democratic establishment who's willing to take on the Michael Moore / MoveOn aspects of the party." Well, after Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas made a disparaging comment about dead mercenaries in Iraq, the Kerry campaign took him off its blogroll. Meanwhile, Reynolds maintains a link to the proud Arab-bashing blog "The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler," where can be found shit like this.

Ordering government officials to essentially tell worthless, partisan, and pathetically inaccurate "journalists" to "eat shit and die", the Republican governor of Maryland struck a mighty blow against Idiotarianism.

Why does Glenn Reynolds hate freedom of the press?

This is the best Dave could find? AIR is indeed often a haven for crude stupidity, but Dave has picked a post that-- apart from the typical AIR tone, which I don't care for-- is entirely sound. Does anyone outside of the media bubble really believe that "freedom of the press" means unfettered access to public officials for whomever wants it? (As a former subscriber to the Baltimore Sun, I am 100% sympathetic to Ehrlich's response to that paper's coverage. The Sun's lawyer's claim that this is "a violation of the First Amendment" doesn't pass the laugh test.)

More to the point, Glenn has tons of links on his blogroll to people he disagrees with-- including many lefties. And Glenn isn't running for president.

The real question is whether there's a figure in the pro-war blog establishment who's willing to take on the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler/Little Green Footballs aspects of the blogs -- or whether those aspects have become, in some important ways, the soul of the blogs today.
When Paul Wellstone died, AIR danced on his grave and was roundly condemned; James Lileks wrote a great essay that was very hard on those who succumbed to that impulse, to which Glenn Reynolds linked. Michael J. Totten-- who's guest-blogged on Instapundit-- has also taken AIR on (which Dave should know-- his is the first comment on that post). And my sense is that AIR is much less prominent than it once was (it certainly doesn't get many Instapundit links anymore).

As for LGF, it's a terrific blog. Unless I've overlooked something-- Dave is free to point it out if I have-- Charles Johnson is guilty of nothing except attracting some over-the-top commenters (given that policing LGF's comments would be a full-time job, I give Johnson a pass for his readers' behavior).

Posted by John Tabin at 04:52 PM | Comments (12)