Monday, November 17, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Suggestion box

I won't be able to access the Internet again until I get home. While you're waiting for more high-quality output, feel free to post a comment saying what you'd like to see me blog more about.

UPDATE: After a very pleasant but all-too-brief lunch with Josh Chafetz in London, I'm not back in Chicago. Regular blogging to commence soon.

posted by Dan on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM


feel free to post a comment saying what you'd like to see me blog more about.


posted by: George on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Am I too pessimistic about the Old Europeans? Has socialism eviscerated them morally and intellectually to the point that they are beyond saving? Are there enough good people like Jean-Francois Revel to make a difference? I am convinced that we are in an undeclared and bloodless war with the French. This nation’s foreign policy is built around the notion that America must be knocked down a peg or two regardless of the circumstances. Right or wrong has nothing to do with it----the United States must be humiliated and rendered powerless. To be blunt, the French and the other Old Europeans are back stabbers. It’s only a question of degree. Also, much of their anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism is due to their laziness and unwillingness to work hard.

I have never visited France in my life. The last time that I spoke personally to a French citizen was probably over ten years ago. I also believe that this might be to my advantage and helps me remain objective and rational regarding this subject. Are people like Zbigniew Brzezinski simply too close to the situation?:

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]


posted by: Robert Schwartz on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? — James Madison

What are some of the dominant faultlines in the underlying belief systems w.r.t. human nature today? Domestically (e.g. b/t Bush & the Contendah's) and internationally (US vs. Europe vs. Islamicists, etc.)

posted by: vinod on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Discussion of the paradox inherent in saying, on the one hand, that one has virtually no current firsthand experience with a situation or a culture, but that one is nonetheless qualified to opine on that culture and its members. Bonus points for discussion of the possible connections between this phenomenon and the problems currently being experienced by the neocon plans for Iraq.

posted by: Mark on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Or to sum up: David Thomson and Paul Wolfowitz, please read some Edmund Burke on the relative importance of experience and circumstances versus abstract theorizing, and get back to us.

posted by: Mark on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

I have never visited France in my life. The last time that I spoke personally to a French citizen was probably over ten years ago. I also believe that this might be to my advantage and helps me remain objective and rational regarding this subject.

Suggestion: I'd like to see you post more about stuff that you know nothing about. Maybe yodelling, coin collecting, or the Lambada.

Then you could brag about how little you know, and how your lack of knowlege allows you to remain objective and rational regarding the subject.

Seriously though, write about what you know. Keep an open mind about the things you don't.
But you're doing that now for the most part.

posted by: uh_clem on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

“Or to sum up: David Thomson and Paul Wolfowitz, please read some Edmund Burke on the relative importance of experience and circumstances versus abstract theorizing, and get back to us.”

I am not arguing that ignorance is bliss. Quite the contrary, I spend a lot of time reading about the Old Europeans. It is, though, legitimate to speculate whether a Zbigniew Brzezinski is too friendly and intimate with our Old Europeans enemies. How else can one explain his ridiculously foolish article? This particular piece is so shallow and off the wall that any friend of Brzezinski should be embarrassed for him.

On top of that, the American leftist “elite” enjoy being snobs. They think it’s so cool to speak French, view their existentially weird movies, and extensively quote Jean Paul Sartre. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon also got all the girls! Almost certainly, on at least a tacit level---they believe the Europeans are far more humane and civilized.

I might also add that an outside often is far more objective and dispassionate than an insider. This may very well be the norm, and not an exception in human affairs.

PS: I urge everyone to read Edmund Burke’s condemnation of the French Revolution. This evil event has caused enormous damage to the world. The American Revolution was a success, but the French response was a total and unmittigating disaster.

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

I am not arguing that ignorance is bliss

Ahhhh, but only if it were, hey David? Think how happy you'd be.

posted by: dsquared on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Some thoughts on topics.

* What is the aim of current French policy --(beyond reflexive anti-americanism)?

* The current domestic politics of free trade. Or, how will the Democrats react if Bush actually fails to be a unilateralist and caves in to the WTO on steel tariffs?

* How can we reconcile the desire to have transnational organizations run things with the fact that these bodies are usually appointive -- as opposed to national governments, which tend to be elective?

* So, from an untenured perspective, which is preferable -- dinner with Jennifer or drinks with Salma?

posted by: appalled moderate on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

David: A couple of comments. 1) I think it's worth keeping in mind that doing a lot of reading about "Old" Europe doesn't give you nearly as much expertise as if you were to supplement that reading with direct personal contacts, etc. I mean...the stuff you're reading could be wrong, after all.

(Incidentally, can we please drop the idea of Old/New Europe? The populations of the two blocs took virtually identical views on the war, etc; the only difference is that one set of governments was trying to get on our good side, and the other wasn't. Is that enough to brand one Old and one New?)

Re: Brzezinski: Could you be specific in explaining why his piece was shallow, foolish, off-the-wall, etc? 1) Are any of his specific factual claims wrong? 2) Is he wrong that American policy is currently opposed/resented by a whole lot of people around the world? 3) Is he wrong that we could do something to change that for the better? 4) If he is wrong, why does that necessarily have to stem from that fact that he's had more contact with "Old" Europe than you have? You assert that as if it is self-evident...some analysis here would be welcome.

The same goes, for that matter, for your assertions about American "leftist snobs." I'd be very interested in hearing how you came to that set of conclusions, if for no other reason than the fact that A) I'm on the political Left B) I'm a student at a very liberal American university, C) I know very few people who fit that description, D) I've never heard of two of the three people you mention.

Outsiders may be more objective and dispassionate than insiders; that may be true. But outsiders with no direct contact or experience with that which they are criticizing? Not so much. How do you propose to gain insight into a culture such that you feel comfortable condemning it if you lack direct knowledge of what it's actually like?

To bring this back to Burke...remember that he was criticizing the French for basing everything on abstract reasoning and logic and metaphysical principles, without ever looking at direct knowledge gained from a study of the French circumstances c.1788-9. That is to say, they had lots of book learning about the way things ought to be, but didn't actually know what the people or the nation were like. Does that sound familiar?

posted by: Mark on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

I need to add one more important point to my previous post: the horror of the liberal “elite” of ever being perceived as holding a conservative opinion. You can call them @$&^* scum bags and it won’t hurt them a bit. But if you dare call them conservative---they will sue you for slander! Embracing liberal opinions often has nothing to do with rational analysis. Instead, it’s a ardent desire to be loved and accepted by the liberal snob establishment.

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Perhaps a few comments on the future of international institutions...

(and Babes!)

posted by: Sean on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

“Could you be specific in explaining why his (Zbigniew Brzezinski) piece was shallow, foolish, off-the-wall, etc? 1) Are any of his specific factual claims wrong?

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s most serious error is his blaming our difficulties with the Old Europeans on the Bush administration. The French are not even slightly interested in rational thinking about the Iraqi situation. They always intended to stab us in the back. In other words, the very premise of Brzezinski’s article is laughingly silly. The French are not acting in good faith. They are our undeclared enemies who merely hesitate to militarily defeat us.

“2) Is he wrong that American policy is currently opposed/resented by a whole lot of people around the world?”

So what? The only real question is whether these people are acting rationally---or immaturely. Do they have legitimate complaints, or are they merely angry and envious of our preeminent power? Also, their views often are the result of the disgracefully shabby journalism commonly found in Europe. Many of the media outlets in Europe posses the morals of a Stephen Glass, Walter Duranty, or Jason Blair.

“3) Is he wrong that we could do something to change that for the better?”

Why are you knee jerkingly assuming we are in the wrong? No, it’s time for the Old Europeans to do the changing. They have become socialist parasites trying to mooch of the United States. The Jean-Francois Revel’s may regrettably be too few in number.

“4) If he is wrong, why does that necessarily have to stem from that fact that he's had more contact with "Old" Europe than you have?”

I am utterly convinced that a certain distance from people is often a good thing. It’s hard to be objective when your friend is under discussion. I’m actually surprised that you dispute this most observable fact regarding human beings.

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Who is Dsquared? These are his earlier comments concerning the Jason Blair affair:

“I vaguely point out that the crimes which set off this whole episode of breast-beating would most likely not even have warranted an internal reprimand here in the Greatest Newspaper Market On Earth [tm]. You read about far worse lifting and quote-polishing in Private Eye every couple of weeks (Robert Fisk detractors, buy the current issue; it's got an absolute pearl in it).

I try not to conclude from Sulzberger's disgusting grovelling that the American public has got exactly the self-righteous, prissy, cowardly press it wants, but it gets harder every day. Why doesn't somebody prevail on Rupert Murdoch to give you folks a proper newspaper?

Posted by dsquared at May 15, 2003 08:10 AM” - 29k

The prosecution rest its case. I don’t think we are obligated to take Mr. Dsquared seriously. His own words damn him.

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

David - you ol' hepcat,

Speaking French, quoting Satre, watching Belmondo? Isn't this, like, a description of the beatniks of 50 years ago? I agree with Mark's comment. I am also a liberal and I don't know who you are describing.

Daniel - how about a discussion related to comparative advantage in trade.

posted by: Cali on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Am I being viciously unfair concerning the Old Europeans? If so, how does one explain the following?:

“Nearly 60% of Europeans said yes when asked in the Eurobarometer survey if Israel presents a threat to peace, putting it ahead of Iran, North Korea and the US, each of which polled 53%. “

Can anyone find fault with the way the poll was conducted? Do you realize its significance? Doesn’t this alone not prove that the Old Europeans are crazier than jay birds?

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

"Doesn’t this alone not prove that the Old Europeans are crazier than jay birds?"

Let's try this again:

Doesn’t this alone prove that the Old Europeans are crazier than jay birds?

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Am I being viciously unfair concerning the Old Europeans?

No, I believe the applicable term is clueless.

And, BTW, what does this sudden irrational outburst about "Old Europe" have to do with suggestions for topics for Dan? Should he have more posts about Existentialism or berets or what? Host a debate about Newton vs. Liebnez? PAL vs. SECAM vs. NTSC?

posted by: uh_clem on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

“Am I being viciously unfair concerning the Old Europeans?

No, I believe the applicable term is clueless.”

Clueless? If that is the case---why have you ignored my question concerning the 59% of Old Europeans who consider Israel to be a threat to world peace?

posted by: David Thomson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Regarding direct experience vs. abstract theory, I don't think it's a case of "either one or the other." Viewpoints both from up close and afar can help one understand a complex subject such as American-European relations. While insiders benefit from practical experience and can pick up on subtle nuances that outsiders might miss, outsiders benefit from a fresh perspective and objectivity than insiders often lack. In short, I don't think one can reflexively say that "so-and-so has no direct experience with the topic at hand, so we can just discard his or her point of view as ill-informed." Instead, one must judge the quality of evidence and argument presented on its own terms.

I think David Thompson hit the nail on the head when he discussed the motivations behind opposition to American foreign policy in Europe. It's not sufficient to say that the Europeans are unhappy so we must change course. If European criticisms of American foreign policy are based on an irrational fear and envy of American power, then Mr. Thompson is right that such views are immature and should be dealt with accordingly.

Finally, as someone who went from being a leftist to being a "conservative," I can testify very much to the elitist snobbery that populates both sides of the ideological fence. Howard Dean's comment about voters in the South needing to move beyond "race, God, guns, and gays" is an almost perfect example. Dean and his supporters probably don't think of him as an intellectual snob, but in those four words, Dean both stereotyped an entire section of the country as backward and dismissed their concerns as illegitimate by nature.

posted by: Tom Ault on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

A philosophical question re. elitism. Which of the following is its more perfect form?

A) "You are mired in ignorance and culturally backward. You need to become more like me."

B) "You are mired in ignorance and culturally backward. You can never hope to become like me."

C) "You are mired in ignorance and culturally backward. We must learn your ways and become like you."

posted by: Kelli on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]




Anna Netrebko

posted by: Robert Schwartz on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

A philosophical question re. elitism. Which of the following is its more perfect form?

None of them, obviously. The most perfect form of elitism is my form of elitism. No other form can compare.

posted by: uh_clem on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]


posted by: John on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Try again.


posted by: John on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Obviously more Salma Hayek...

And where's the academic gossip?

Otherwise, great blog!

posted by: Tom on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

How about a discussion on the statement Scott McClellan made when explaining why the Gulf War I veterans who had been imprisoned and tortured by Saddam Hussein would not, after all, be receiving the funds earmarked for them from the frozen Iraqi assets; and how the funds were, instead, converted into "American Assets" to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq.

To wit: An utterly mind-boggling look at what the WH really thinks of veterans:

(Soctt McClelland and the WH Press; reported in and on kos):

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to your question. Believe me, I am. Let me finish. Let me start over again, though. No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a very brutal regime, at the hands of Saddam Hussein. It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq. But again, there is simply no amount of compensation that could ever truly compensate these brave men and women.

Q: Just one more. Why would you stand in the way of at least letting them get some of that money?

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the way you characterize it.

Q: But if the law that Congress passed entitles them to access frozen assets of the former regime, then why isn't that money, per a judge's order, available to these victims?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out that that was an issue that was addressed earlier this year. But make no mistake about it, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the torture that these brave individuals went through --

Q: You don't think they should get money?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- at the hands of Saddam Hussein. There is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate those men and women who heroically served --

Q: That's not the issue --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- who heroically served our nation.

Q: Are you opposed to them getting some of the money?

MR. McCLELLAN: And, again, I just said that that had been addressed earlier this year.

Q: No, but it hasn't been addressed. They're entitled to the money under the law. The question is, is this administration blocking their effort to access some of that money, and why?

posted by: SurelyYouJest on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

A comparative analysis Jennifer-Salma!?

Large N is possible...

posted by: eduardo on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

More details of your memberships in secret cabals that rule the world.

We now know about your BAP meetings, but how much is Carlyle paying you. When is the next Trilateral Commission meeting? Will the Priory of Sion unveil the Holy Grail?

Readers need to know.

Oh and more Jennifer.

posted by: Rick on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Dan, my advice is that if you want advice you should ask people to send it to you privately. Requesting public advice in a public forum yields a crop with a very high ratio of chaff to wheat, as you have seen here.

posted by: Zathras on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Salma or Friedrich?

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]


You really are a nutcase you know that? "Old Europe" supported us just fine when we invaded a sovereign country without UN SecCouncil approval and removed a dictator. Nor did it happen in the hoary stories of WWII. It was the nineties and the tyrant was Milosevic.

In addition, most of the anti-semetic sentiment polls in Europe apply to pretty much *all* europeans. For instance, Italy whose government supported us in Iraq polls there indicate that anti-semeticism is even more severe than the general polls indicate. Spain's govt supported us, but the policy was extremely unpopular and Spain was the place where they came up with the Inquisition practically and coerced-converting Jews to Catholocism.

In other words, your argument against "old-europe" is just a rant blaming a few governments for *not* going with the majority opinion over there which was decidedly against premature US intervention in Iraq.

Of such ignorances are demonization and scape-goating made.

posted by: Oldman on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Hi Daniel,

My suggestion would be to write about the American (European)intelligencia's failure to condemn Communism. Today, any sympathy given to the Nazi/Facist causes is rightly struck down as immoral. But the same is not true of Communism. Western 'intellectuals' (Chomsky et al.) fail to see Communism what is was, a wretched evil totalitarianistic political and economic system that victimized all except perhaps the victimzers. This ongoing sympathy for Castro and Co. ----- how Communism wasn't sooooooooo bad. It was just a grand experiment that failed etc etc is sickening. Even here in Central/Eastern Europe this issue hasn't been handled adequatley. The Nazi victimizers have been hunted down and brought to trial but the Communists still walk among us. (Some of them have been voted back into office. LOL.)

This moral calculus that despises Facsism but condones Communism is not only wrong but is entirely insane as well as hypocritical.



Budapest, Hungary

posted by: Billy on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Regards all this anti French stuff above, didn't France advocate almost exactly the same policy that the US has decided upon last week? (transferring power earlier, etc. etc.)

Not only that, all that France said before the war has happened almost as they said it... and now the US also already admitted that they should have done more like the French had said!

It would be an interesting topic, this irrational hatred of the French amongst so many Americans... what exactly brings it on? That they've been right about Iraq? Not sending troops? what?

posted by: KO on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

If the present United Nations as chartered were presumed to be analogous to the American "Articles of Confederation", what next "world government" will be constituted, (analgous to the U.S. "Constitution") and what sorts of differences will be considered?

One state, one vote? Population-based representation? Bi-cameral compromise? Voting proprotionate to state GDP?

What sorts of courts? What sorts of executive? (both rather lacking under the current U.N.)

Or, looking at the "holes" in the 1789 constitution -- what sorts of BANKS? What sorts
of CONTRACTS? What sorts of TAXES?

The "new Europe" is doing this sort of thing now -- quite badly IMHO. What's the next step?

posted by: Pouncer on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Well Dan,

How about writing about environmental issues, AIDS, agriculture, and new technology? Whether we like it or not, these four "biggies" are what are going to mainly determine overall quality of life into the next century. One could add 'global terroism' tenatively to that mix. By writing about the environment or AIDS I don't mean writing from an extreme social liberal perspective, but from a realistic one. One sensible thing that Dean said at his rally was that he wasn't going to try to get people in the US out of their SUV's, but he would ask for their fuel efficiency CAFE exceptions (light truck category) to be revoked.

Another something to write about would the Energy bill. Conservative or liberal, these issues impact us all and it is going to determine the lifestyle we are able to lead and especially for that our kids and grandkids.

Of such stuff is the future of mankind.

posted by: Oldman on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Oh and Dan,

Please feel free to post more articles about the idle rich with salacious pictures of the Hilton twins and idle gossip about their sex lives. It would certainly spice up things. :-)

posted by: Oldman on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

For what it's worth, I think discussions about what a future world government would look like are extremely premature. Unless one wants to pursue the world conquest route, forming a larger democratic state from smaller ones requires a fundamental agreement among the people of the smaller states about human rights and responsibilities, the role and limits of the state, the structure and function of the government, etc. It also requires that the citizens of the smaller states be willing to cede some portion of their identity and allegiance to the larger state and that they trust to look after their interests and abide by the rules laid down for it. Such preconditions do not hold in our present world and will not hold within the forseeable future, and thus, any world government would either become tyrannical and oppressive or burst asunder in civil war.

Don't fall into the trap of believing that simply because a government is democratic, that its rule is just and fair. The mob that breaks into your house to rape your spouse and plunder your goods doesn't suddenly become justified if it stops and votes on it beforehand. Fundamental agreement on human liberties, property rights, and the role of government in economic and social life must preceed any formal union, democratic or otherwise.

posted by: Tom Ault on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]


How bout writing about the near-total sex segregation of the blogosphere? Do you have any other female readers, or am I it (or are there hordes of silent women out there wondering what kind of an idiot finds a human mannequin like Paris H. even mildly arousing)?

Just an idea.

posted by: Kelli on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

'...Another something to write about would the Energy bill. Conservative or liberal, these issues impact us all and it is going to determine the lifestyle we are able to lead and especially for that our kids and grandkids."


Well... If you were seriously concerned about the social safety net that will exist for your grandchildren. Oppps. Social Security is projected to go belly up by 2040. So why should anyone under 35 imagine that they should continue to pay 6.3%+ of their income to honor the so-called "contract across generations" Social Security Program? Why should young people be taxed so that retired doctors and lawyers and pensioners who don't NEED Social Security can selfishly collect the highest category of payment???

Isn't Social Security supposed to be a Social SAFETY net? So why should retirees who make over say, $50,000 a year via retirement income, continue to be paid benefits they don't need? The older generation collected a Soc sec Surplus for twenty plus years of tens of billions of dollars per year, and NOW we discover it was squandered?!? Now we find that the only "contract between generations" is a one sided con game where those who are young pay pay pay, just so that we'll get.... zero. Great.

Is there anyone else who kind of resents paying Soc Sec tax to support a safety net we ourselves will never benefit from?

posted by: A Crawford on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Hey Kelli,

We're out here. I'm just wondering if Mark's parents are footing the bill for his education. Tsk. What a waste. Lots of snarky name-calling and nothing to back it up.

Hey Dan, how about more on independent thought and freedom of speech at our nation's colleges and universities?

posted by: Lurkermom on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Here's a "modest" proposal for saving Social Security and Medicare: instead of drawing benefits in proportion to your past income, you draw benefits in proportion to the number direct descendents you have in the workforce and their incomes, thereby creating the tax base necessary to preserve these programs and ending the fiction that SS and Medicare are anything but a fancy pyramid scheme.

Of course, this creates a slight overpopulation problem, but that can be resolved by the invasion and conquest of Canada. It's not like the Canadians are using it.

posted by: Tom Ault on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Suggestion: Use the word "monkey" more often.

posted by: spoon on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Ouch. That really hurts. It would hurt more if I could find the place where I called someone a name (I will plead guilty to the snark). Oh, and more specifics about how I'm wasting the education that my parents are paying for would be extremely painful as well.

As for the topic at hand, some responses to David:

1) You talk a lot about the French in reference to why Brzezinski is off-base, and I'm sort of puzzled as to why. The only time he specifically mentions France is to make a point based on historical example, a point which is generally applicable to the world as a whole, and has very little to do with the specific government of Jacques Chirac.

In other words: Brzezinski's not talking about why we had trouble with Old Europe (remind me why it's Old, again? i'm still wondering), he's talking about why we had/have trouble with the world as a whole.

As for his specific ideas about _why_ we're having trouble: are his specific claims about the credibility of our word and our intelligence and our policy incorrect? if so, how and why? (Bonus points for an answer not mentioning France :) ).

2) You pose a question and then don't answer it (at least not explicitly). Let me see if I can essay a partial response. The current top story in ALL of the major British papers (from Telegraph to Independent) is the Bush state visit. One of the major elements of that news coverage is a description of all of the security measures demanded by the Bush Admin and their security people; when you add all these measures up, the Bushies come off as wildly overbearing (shutting down the Tube? Bringing a _minigun_ into metropolitan London? excuse me?). It certainly doesn't do wonders for our image abroad.

And no, I don't think it's solely because of media bias or falsity or something, if for no other reason than I've been reading all about this sort of thing in those noted leftist rags the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph. If you want to talk about European media bias/corruption/lies, it would help if you could provide any examples of what you're talking about; bonus points for not mentioning Robert Fisk.

3) Well, I'm sort of assuming that being disliked/resented/feared by most of the world isn't a _good_ thing, and I'm not quite arrogant enough to assume that the other side is totally in the wrong in such a case. Re: Old Europe (again!), I seem to remember that countries like Spain and Italy (with center-right gov'ts, of course) don't think very highly of us either. How does that fit your analysis? (Bonus points for explaining how Italy under Silvio Berlusconi is a socialist parasite).

4) There's a difference between having contact with people in a country and becoming so close to them that you lose your objectivity. A certain distance may be helpful in gaining an outside perspective on a culture. I'm certainly not disputing it (that's why I'm studying abroad in England, among other things). What I am disputing is that you can get a handle on a culture from an outsider perspective without spending any time at all directly interacting with that culture. A culture is more than what people (even Jean-Francois Revel!) say about it in books. Can you get a good handle on American culture and people from say, only reading the collected works of Victor Davis Hanson (on the one hand) or Michael Moore (on the other)? I tend to doubt it. Do you disagree?

posted by: Mark on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

David: one more point. You claim that the BBC poll proves that Old Europeans are crazy, and ask for any possible rebuttals. So here are a few.

1) The poll is talking about the EU as a whole, which includes Old European countries such as the UK, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. Oh, wait. This poll may (or may not) prove something about the views of Europe _as a whole_ toward Israel and other nations; it proves very little about only that part of Europe that you don't like.

2) The poll is ridiculously unspecific. Under which circumstances is a given nation a threat to peace? To whom? In what way? Where? In other words, the poll could produce a "yes" answer under certain circumstances (hell, I can think of a couple, and I daresay I'm in the conflicted middle about Israel), without actually giving a nuanced, contextualized portrayal of how people actually felt. In other words, it doesn't tell you very much because it's poorly worded.

3) The sample sucks. We don't know who responded, how they were selected, how they filtered out any sampling bias, how they concluded that 7000 people was a sufficiently large sample to represent _15 countries_, etc. Not good technique.

4) 69% of Americans, according to an August Washington Post poll, believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks; this is something that the Bush Administration has never explicitly asserted as far as I can remember (they've asserted a connection between Saddam and Al Qaida; the two are not the same), and in fact the President has expressly denied such a connection. Does that mean Americans are crazy as jaybirds? Me, I tend to doubt it; I look for other explanations that might tell us more. Might you want to do the same?

posted by: Mark on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Daniel, you and Tacitus are two right-wingers whom I respect as independent thinkers with integrity and gravitas. I have issues with Tacitus (mainly concerned with his anti-Muslim pro-Zionist bigotry) and I don't doubt that if I read you as often as I read Tac* I would have issues with you. But I respect you both.

However, you have a trailing crowd of wingnutters (such as David Thomson, who is wingnutting in this thread) who take the standard VRWC view and never deviate from it. For example, David Thomson obviously got the VRWC memo that Old Europe is bad, and has been working on that ever since. Your posts on the Plame affair reaped a similiar crop of people determined to believe that even though a senior member of the Bush administration had blown the cover of a NOC CIA agent, no crime had been committed.

Yet you never seem to debate with this people once a thread gets going. Is this policy, or lack of time? You post well and interestingly about the topic under discussion, but you don't seem to join in the threads. I'd certainly like to see more contribution from you in the discussions.

*Sorry about that. Sometimes RL requires me to leave the computer.

posted by: Jesurgislac on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Request: A fisk, er, analysis of the Carnegie Endowment for Internation "Peace" (scare quotes intended) study on NAFTA, reported on today in NYT. It apparently concludes that NAFTA has been bad for Mexico, since Mexican employment hasn't risen greatly since NAFTA was enacted. It also apparently ignores the effect of the peso crisis (Duh!). You're the expert on globalization... is the report as FOS as it appears from the newspaper?

posted by: Al on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

David Thomson needs his own blog. Keep all the insanity cordoned off at one URL.

By the way, I vote for more blogging about this.

posted by: JP on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]


I probably shouldn't have used "name-calling", you're right...perhaps labeling, pigeon-holing, erroneous classifying..I don't have my thesaurus handy. And I'm aware that everybody tends to do that.

I wouldn't put Michael Moore's polar opposite as Victor Davis Hanson, either. Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh might make a better fit. Victor Davis Hanson can actually write. You may not agree with his conclusiions, but at least he reaches them through actual logic and a huge intellectual grasp of history. His IQ alone is higher than all of that bunch combined.

posted by: lurkermom on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

In what way would you say that I've been pigeon-holing/classifying/whatever? In my criticism of David for a) touting Burke's political philosophy while b) criticizing the Burkean emphasis on the value of direct experience/knowledge? In my criticism of the neocons for (b)? In something else entirely?

Re: Moore/VDH. Point taken...switch in, say, Krugman for Moore? I think the point still stands if you make that change. You are of course welcome to disagree. :)

posted by: Mark on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

You should spend more time discussing Salma Hayek.

posted by: John Caccese on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Waitaminute - If it matters what your sex is, Kelli, then you mean to tell me that you'd think differently of my opinions if I signed in as TammyG?

What if I am TammyG and I sign in as TommyG? What if the oldman is really an old(wo)man? Who's doing the segregating? Dan? Certainly not. Is it segregation if people decide not to comment?

Or...maybe you're right. Why don't you spend the month logging in as Kelso, and I'll be TammyG, and see if anyone treats us different.

posted by: TommyG on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Righto, TommyG,

More Salma Hayek!!!!

posted by: Kelso on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

How about a post on how one goes about finding a wife who doesn't mind her husband publicly lusting after beautiful celebrities?

posted by: KenB on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Perhaps he should try privately lusting after them. Easier for her to ignore.

posted by: Kelso on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Mr. Crawford,

Obviously you are concerned about a very serious issue. However, one must put things in perspective. The lack of a social safety net combined with modern and post-modern social changes will present a devastating blow to the very traditional cultural and historical values that social conservatives aspire to protect.

If my grandkids don't have SocSec that's gonna be real tough for them and the nation, but if we don't get this environment and energy thing squared away chances are my great-grandkids could be living in caves. That's a little extreme a formulation, but not by much. I'm not that old, and the problems aren't that far into the future.

It's all of one piece though. What we should have remembered about Saddam is that all other things being equal, peoples get the leaders they deserve and not the ones they need. Saddam was a vicious but natural product of his environment. If it hadn't been Saddam, it would have been somebody else. Knocking him off the top of the heap, didn't solve all the problems he was sitting on.

The same thing applies to America. Maybe if people can't see far enough ahead to listen to sense, they deserve to take the fall for it. Yes, allot of innocent people are gonna get hurt. But what will happen is neither unforseeable nor were people not warned. They simply couldn't bring themselves to choose sense over fools.

There's a great line in the movie, The American President. The President's aide says that people drink the sand because they have no water. Then the President says back, no they drink the sand cause they don't know the difference. As long as people show themselves willing to follow incompetent lying irresponsible fools, then our society is doomed to grief and it will end in tears. That's all there is to it, Mr. Crawford. Survival of the fittest.

posted by: Oldman on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Okay, Kelso, I was trying to be a little glib - until it occured to me that you might have a point.

Christ, this is weird... How long do we keep going again?

posted by: TammyG on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Ken B,

Don't get so scoldy - I'm sure his wife is just fine with him.

posted by: tammyG on 11.17.03 at 06:41 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?