Sunday, July 31, 2005
Israel's Leftist elite now struggling
Peretz, who was one of the few political leaders from the Moroccan immigration of the 1950s to tie his destiny to the Labor Party and the peace camp long after that community had given up on a Labor Party and peace camp perceived to be elitist, is currently mounting a strong campaign for leadership of the Labor Party. Were he to win, he would be Labor's candidate for Prime Minister in the next election (assumed to be sometime in early 2006) against either Ariel Sharon or perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu. He is the only political figure in Israel today who is seriously trying to address the issues of peace and national security from an economic perspective--and he is the only one raising concerns about increasing poverty in the country, and extreme differences between rich and poor.
With polls showing him gaining support, forces inside his own Labor Party wanted to stop him--the opposition is not only from the right wing Likud. Just as in the U.S. Democratic Party, the liberal-left is divided about economic liberalization. But, in Israel's case, the divide has added to a bizarre situation that has also caused the peace camp to become the minority camp in Israeli society. Workers don't vote for Labor. They vote for the right wing Likud, even when it's not in their economic interest. Much of this is based on historic anger toward the old elites, but much of it, too, comes from a sense that on economic (and sometimes on peace issues) there is little difference between the camps. Peretz is trying to change all that.
I had lunch with him in his Histadrut office just a day before the Knesset vote. Staring down at his, next to his desk, was a bust of David Ben Gurion. Ben Gurion would never recognize today's Israeli economy or political scene. Israeli politics has been stuck in a pattern from Rabin onwards of only electing military men. Peretz, for his part, says that he thinks Israel needs a "social issues" general, not just a general who hails from the military.
The changes in Israeli society have all been imported from the U.S., the newest being the "Wisconsin Plan," based on a crude version of welfare-to-work. This plan is now being rolled out in poor towns throughout Israel, without the necessary back-up for job training, education, and childcare. Minimum wage is low in Israel and all of the arguments against raising it are imported from the U.S. Additionally, the largest employer in the country is Manpower Inc. Until Amir Peretz managed to pass a law in the Knesset that forced employers to hire their Manpower temporary workers after 9 months of temporary work, employers across the sectors were using this temporary job agency as a way to hire and fire without any job protection or benefits.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
A FRENCH ELITIST
Until last week it seemed Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe could do no wrong. During his four years in office, he has launched a series of wildly popular projects, from Paris Plage, a faux Seine-side summer beach, to an all-night fall arts celebration and urban renovation efforts to make Paris a more attractive, fun and environmentally friendly city to live in.
Cinching the 2012 Olympics seemed the ultimate feather on Delanoe's chapeau. But since rival London stole the chance to host the games from under France's outraged nose last week, Delanoe has stumbled seriously and surprisingly. In unusually blunt remarks Monday, Delanoe suggested that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the head of the London bid, Sebastien Coe, had crossed the line" of fair play and Olympic rules with their overly aggressive bid. "I don't say they flirted with the line, they crossed right over," Delanoe told municipal politicians at a city council meeting Monday, in remarks that have since boomeranged in France and in Britain....
But that was before London was hit by its worst terrorist attack since World War II. Now the perception is that Delanoe's latest barrage against the rival British city was badly timed at best, and that Delanoe was a sore and unfeeling loser at worst. "When one looses, one must play fair as well," former French foreign Minister Michel Barnier told Le Figaro newspaper, in a less-than-subtle dig at Paris' mayor echoed by other French politicians. "This loss is first of all our own. If Paris had won their bid by four points, we wouldn't have accepted it if someone accused us of winning badly," added Barnier, a conservative politician who was involved in another unsuccessful Paris bid to host the games, in 1992. In a withering editorial Tuesday, the southern French newspaper Nice Matin described Delanoe's remarks as "childish." ...
Some observers suggest Delanoe's Olympic dreams for Paris couched far more ambitious dreams for himself. One of France's only openly gay politicians, 55 year-old Delanoe has been floated as a possible leftist candidate for the 2007 presidential elections. In a recent poll, he tied with a handful of other Socialist heavyweights, including former finance minister Dominique Strauss Kahn, as the leftist politician French would most like to see run for president...
Delanoe has proved a popular mayor. In his four years in office, he has improved bus and bike lanes in an effort to coax Parisians to use mass and nonpolluting transportation alternatives. Conservative politicians complain, however, that he has simply increased Paris' congestion problems. Delanoe has also launched an architectural project to revamp Paris' old Les Halles market area in the city's center. And he increased the numbers of sorely lacking nursery school slots. Still critics say he has failed to address another serious crunch: Paris' endemic housing shortage.
During a citywide arts celebration in 2002, Delanoe was stabbed by an assailant who later confessed to disliking politicians and homosexuals. Still, Delanoe is discrete about his private life, and some analysts suggest his sexual preferences would not pose a problem for many French should he run for the presidency. A bigger problem is the perception that Delanoe represents an elitist, citified, minority slice of the French population -- the bohemian-bourgeois, or "bobos" -- who have little in common with millions of working class French living outside the city's limits.
Friday, July 29, 2005
A SAVAGE CRITIQUE OF THE HOLLYWOOD ELITE
Under the heading "Widely Red" this essay appeared in the online edition ONLY of "The New Republic". Apparently it was too "hot" for the print edition. TNR is centre-Left so I guess the article would be too Rightist for most of the magazine's readers. The article was actually written by Martin Peretz, editor of TNR so I have gained a new respect for him and his magazine. Apparently there still are some Left-leaning intellectuals who are not apologists for the beasts of this world. The article is basically a book review -- of "Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance With The Left" by Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh (Encounter Books, 292 pp., $25.95)
Books don't easily change bad habits. Which is why there are so many diet books: The Rosedale Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, The South Beach Diet, French Women Don't Get Fat, The Abs Diet, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet, and on and on ad nauseum [ad nauseam, for crying out loud!], so to speak. There are many millions of copies of more or less easy diets out there; and still the American people eats badly and too much, especially folk who buy and, in fact, may even read these cheerily frightening guides to healthy feeding.
Bad habits in sloppy thinking and in ideas about history are even more difficult to dislodge with books. Nonetheless, the historian Ronald Radosh has made it his mission to try. Not as a general proposition, of course. But in a specific historical area. There is common in America an explanation of why an aggressive left liberalism, or socialism for that matter, petered out in the two decades after the Second World War, and the explanation is very simple. The blame is laid on what is clumsily called "McCarthyism," although the drift of what is meant by the term both predated and postdated the short, ugly, and dismal career of Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin. As it happens, this conventional reading also puts mainstream Democrats in the dock and the Truman administration, in particular, for building the "national security state" in opposition to the--of course, exaggerated--foreign threat of Soviet Russia and the harmless--and, no doubt about it, idealistic--domestic enlistees of the armed doctrine of communism.
To be sure, Radosh grasps that greater forces have been at play in the disintegration of the left in the United States and in the world. There are the basic facts that socialism doesn't explain intrinsic social and economic behavior and that, as a blueprint for the organization of polity and society, it has literally everywhere been a dismal failure and, in many of these places, unbelievably cruel besides. Alas, one cannot argue with much of this. Still, there remains the bitterness of the liberal and not-so-liberal left, its vindictiveness, its sense of itself as victim.
In their new book, Red Star Over Hollywood, Radosh and his historian wife Allis examine this sensibility in the film industry, focusing on the blacklist, its perpetrators and their targets. The moral high ground has usually gone to the latter, the self-styled martyrs for progress. The Radoshes examine this case in all its complications. And let's make one thing clear: They have contempt for those who banished and ostracized anyone for his or her political views. In that sense, they are true liberals: Even communists need to feed their families. What they do not countenance is the behavior of the fellow travelers, the true believers, the party apparatchiks, those who knew all too well that, by joining the Communist Party or its multitude of front groups, they had enrolled in defending ruthless dogma and more ruthless regimes.
For Radosh, this is part of an ongoing project of two decades about the distorted ethical universe inhabited by communists and their comrades. Among a half dozen volumes examining the subject, in The Rosenberg File, he (and Joyce Milton) produced the first scholarly (and readable) text to prove with newly discovered evidence the guilt of Julius Rosenberg as an atomic spy for Moscow, to demonstrate that the evidence against Ethel was not credible and certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt, to examine the dishonest and counterproductive hysteria mustered by the hapless couple's supporters, to show that their innocence was deduced by their defenders from the sheer but counterintuitive fact that they were loyal to Josef Stalin. Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War, a book Radosh co-edited, overturns conventional history that portrays the communist apparatus as an ally of Republican Spain rather than its ruthless manipulator. This apparatus also murdered many faithful sons and daughters of democratic Spain and from among the International Brigades--socialists and anarchists, especially. Of course, this is not exactly news. It is the message of George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia. Which brings us to the most disgraceful blacklist of all: the systematic and, for a long-time, successful effort by "progressive" cadres in top literary circles to keep Animal Farm and 1984 from being published in America. Now, Orwell was a literary genius. His sin was that, though a man of the left, he was anti-Stalinist. That was enough to justify boycotting his writings.
The era of the blacklist and of inquests by legislative and congressional committees into thousands of people's politics left many victims, maybe two handfuls of suicides, wrecked careers, many lives destroyed in other ways. None of this has any claim to being just. And filmtown's executives turn out to be craven and cowardly. But what about the moral lives of the victims, the Hollywood victims, in particular? They have built a legend of virtue, and this virtue is contrary to the truth. Some of those who were blacklisted actually did treasonous deeds for the Soviet Union. They certainly were traitors to their friends, even to their families, to both of which they lied routinely. All of this is documented in Red Star, and documented meticulously.
There is a predictable irony in the initial origins of government investigative committees gone haywire, like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and of repressive legislation like the Smith Act, later smothered by the Supreme Court. The very idea for HUAC began with Samuel Dickstein, a hack Democratic congressman who happened to be a Communist Party agent and was paid for his chores. But, then, the committee was investigating local bully Nazis who also thought history was on their side and--most important to the Soviet Union--also making trouble for the tiny cohort of Trotskyites who had made some pathetic headway in the trade unions. When the Smith Act came up for renewal, the Communists mobilized their Democratic allies in Congress and the party faithful to assure that the statute would survive so that the Trotskyite enemy might continue to be harassed by the feds.
The myth of the valorous victims is one of those lies that is unaffected by facts. It is, in many ways, a glitzy product of Hollywood in its mawkish moods. Guilty by Suspicion (with Robert De Niro and directed by Irwin Winkler), The Way We Were (with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, directed by Sidney Pollack), and The Front (with Woody Allen and Zero Mostel, directed by former blacklistee Martin Ritt) retell the clich‚d story of straightforward idealism betrayed by fabrication and fear. But the tale is much more complicated than that, and it is much more complicated and textured than the semi-official legend, Naming Names, by Victor Navasky, the long-time former editor of The Nation, who has made a career of absolving the American left of any culpability for its embrace of Stalinism.
This is, as the Radoshes show, the burden of the argument. Imagine that there were now to be in the elites and among the aspiring elites millions of people who burnished the wisdom and political fortitude of, say, Charles Lindbergh and Ezra Pound. As it happens, these two individuals were truly great men in their ways, Lindbergh as an aviator and Pound as a poet. But they suffered the reasonable public ignominy of being sympathetic to fascism, Pound to the point of treason. Lindbergh did his penance as a combat flyer in the Pacific during World War II, but he was a hero no more. Yes, there is now an adoring Lindbergh website but that is the full of it. And, here and there, some crank clings not to the Cantos but to the curdled confusions of a crazed writer. Pound was truly punished for his war-time fascist heresies on the radio: From 1945 to 1958, he was incarcerated in St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the Insane, now inhabited by John Hinckley Jr. Nothing to compare to the lighting of candles for those who were on the blacklist.
The blacklisted were mostly, though not all, hack writers and directors. But producing mediocre work is no crime. In Hollywood, it was usually richly rewarded. So what did they do wrong? They were enthusiasts for Stalin, certainly a moral offense equal to being an enthusiast for Hitler and Mussolini. This fidelity to Stalinism ran deep, and in behalf of Stalinism the comrades deceived, conspired, plotted. The Radoshes tell us who in Hollywood had had enough and saved their own souls, if not always their jobs. And they also tell us who in filmland perverted and fabricated on behalf of the communist design. It is hard to reconstruct a world in which so many intelligent people lived the ethical life of cosmic cheats.
Here is what Stalinists (no, a Leninist was no better) lied about: the police state, the show trials, the deliberate famines, the repression of the peasantry, the massive ethnic transfers, the executions, the great terror, the Gulag, the systematic and murderous anti-Semitism, the squelching of free thought, the Trotsky plot against the revolution (no, a Trotskyite was no better, either), the perversion of the judiciary, the Hitler-Stalin pact. According to them there were no "widows of the revolution," in David Remnick's affecting phrase. And, if circumstance happened to catch them in flagrante, they would lapse into that hoariest of justifications, "historical necessity." These are the atrocities which the blacklisted denied or defended or asserted were forced on the Kremlin by the West, the flabbiest of excuses. These men and women lived by a tissue of fabrication, and they passed that tissue--like a genotype--on to their children. Instead of being an apologist for Stalin, Richard Dreyfuss shilled for Arafat.
This is not just a book about the Hollywood Ten. In any case, there are differences among these ten. It is about a whole leftish culture in the film colony. Still, the playwright Lillian Hellman, though not really a Hollywood figure but a Broadway personage, was, as Red Star shows, the paradigm of the confirmed film industry Stalinist, its grand exemplar. Although she was the screenwriter for The North Star, a shabby hit of a pro-Soviet movie, she never suffered for her sins. She lived a life among the rich and powerful. She "wintered" in the Caribbean with the Alsops and the Bundys. She "summered" in her grand house on Martha's Vineyard. Still, she was always ready to defend Soviet Russia. This made her an intellectual swindler, a moral contortionist. In my presence, she even seemed to justify the execution of an ex-lover, Otto Katz, the model for the hero in her play Watch on the Rhine, who was caught up in the 1952 Czech political trials against "Titoists" and "Zionists." One section of Hellman's utterly false autobiographical work Pentimento was made into a film called Julia, starring Jane Fonda as Hellman and Vanessa Redgrave as Julia. Maybe, dear reader, you will recall Julia, the fascinating American heroine of the pre-war anti-fascist resistance in Vienna. Julia was an intimate friend of Hellman's, at least according to the book and the movie. But, as soon as Pentimento appeared, rumblings erupted in New York that were only intensified by the first showings of Julia on screen. Julia's was a life stolen from someone else, someone who had never known Hellman.
It turned out that Julia's story was Muriel Gardiner's, an eminent psychiatrist and heiress to the Swift meat fortune who was married to an Austrian exile Socialist intellectual, Joseph Buttinger, no communist sympathizer, he or she, no friend of Hellman, to be sure. (In fact, Buttinger was chairman of the American Friends of Vietnam during the Vietnamese war and a contributor to Dissent magazine.) Hellman had poached on the wrong folks' lives. Hellman's intimates were embarrassed for her and by her; they began to press her for an explanation: Who really was Julia? A lawsuit by Gardiner was in the offing, and a Gardiner memoir, Code Name Mary (Yale University Press). As Joan Mellen tells it in her engrossing double biography Hellman and Hammett (Harper Collins), Hellman confided to her lawyer Ephraim London (and then to many others) that Julia was my wife's mother, deceased now more than 60 years. This flimsy improvisation persuaded no one, and Hellman died soon thereafter with her most desperate lie.
So what has all this to do with the fate of the American left or American liberalism? Any movement that does not own up to its past hobbles its future. These flanks are still enchanted with the suicidal heroism of the self-deluded Hollywood communists. This twisted syndrome did not stop with apologetics and excuses for Stalinism. It continues with the tortured explanations and barely disguised extenuations for the Muslim terror war against democratic and civil society. The Radoshes have written a wise, honest, and perceptive book.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
CONSISTENT LIBERAL ELITISM
When I read the first paragraph of ("A world turned upside down," Voice of the Editor, June 29) regarding the Supreme Court's decision on eminent domain, I thought he was attempting humor. After reading further, I realized he was serious. I remember being taught the same thing in public school and from the evening news - Democrats are for the people; Republicans are for big business. Right.
To conservatives, this court decision is no surprise. One of the hallmarks of modern liberalism is the dogged belief that people are not smart enough to take care of themselves, this is best left to government. The bigger the government, the better. This is why some view liberals as being essentially elitist at heart, believing that they know what's best for everyone. Hence, higher taxes and more entitlements because highly educated liberals know better how to spend our money than we do.
The editor couldn't get through a commentary without talking about big, bad Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is one of the best things to happen to the average American family. How do I know? We continue to support it. We vote our approval though our wallets. Wal-Mart isn't one of the most successful businesses in history because it ripped off the consumer, but because Sam Walton gave us what we wanted - reasonable quality at low prices.
Yes, love of money does occasionally get out of control, which is why we elect public officials to rein in this behavior. In New London, Conn., the town council forgot this.
This court decision is only the tip of the liberal's well-intentioned, but dangerous agenda. Remember who dissented: the conservative Justices Thomas, Rehnquist, Scalia, and O'Connor. The smarter (aka liberal) justices say we just aren't smart enough to know what is best for us.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
THE ACADEMIC ELITE SEEN CLOSE-UP
I’m not an academic — though I played one for much of the past eight years. I taught magazine sequences at Indiana University’s school of journalism and, more recently, nonfiction writing at a pair of smaller Pennsylvania liberal-arts colleges. My academic station has ranged from that of lowly adjunct to visiting professor to writer-in-residence. In theory, the latter two titles made me a full-fledged (albeit temporary) member of faculty, entitled to full faculty privileges. In practice, the one privilege those jobs gave me was watching my more highly credentialed peers go through their academic paces while I wondered why I’d been left off the e-mail distribution lists for important meetings.
Actually, I needn’t have wondered all that much. For one thing, I came from a nontraditional background. I lacked the usual alphabet soup of honorifics at the end of my name, having arrived at the academy not after a lifetime of Thoreauvian reflection and perpetual studentism, but fresh from a lengthy career as an honest-to-goodness practitioner. I’d even been paid decent wages for my work, which ran in glossy publications that appeared on predictable schedules, and were read by people other than academics. It followed that my new colleagues — who normally published in journals of somewhat mysterious origin, with names like Tradewinds of the Marxist Metaphysic — viewed me with suspicion. Anyway, in college one encounters an inverted scale of professional prestige, wherein being a doer is adjudged a less weighty accomplishment than merely contemplating doing, or critiquing what the doers do.
But there’s a more trenchant reason why the academy never embraced me to its ivy-covered bosom. During my stint on America’s campuses I developed a reputation as a heretic, a raving right-winger, though outsiders who weren’t well versed in the subtle rhythms and protocols of academia would have had a hard time understanding just how and why this happened, since my crimes were of omission, not commission. Because I never believed in injecting my own political agenda into classroom discussions; because I didn’t litter my office doors with “Anyone But Bush!” posters, or photos that caught the president in some unflattering facial expression; because I failed to attend rallies led by people screaming “regime change begins at home!”, because I was never the one applauding at faculty functions that stressed the need to “bring more minority voices!” like Cornel West or Amiri Baraka (but never Ward Connerly or Thomas Sowell) to campus . . . All of these sins proclaimed my estrangement from my peers, and my unfitness for membership in the Community of Ideas. In short, I was not someone to be trusted, and certainly not someone to be shown any secret handshakes.
Still, I kept my eyes and ears open. And if my experiences of academe were many and varied, it occurs to me now that they can all be boiled down to three, related impressions:
* Contrary to popular opinion, a surprising degree of free speech flourishes on today’s campuses. Trouble is, it flourishes mostly among faculty, and then only when one is willing to toe the party line, which is drawn somewhere to the left of Che Guevara. Faculty have few qualms about socio-political evangelism — which, put more bluntly, means they’re not sheepish about bullying any skeptical students into submission. I met a number of professors in political science, history, and the so-called “diversity disciplines” who upheld their private beliefs as empirical truths. Therefore, they felt entitled to grade based at least in part on the degree to which a given student accepted their wisdom. (After all, students who oppose affirmative action or U.S. “imperialism” can’t be thinking very clearly, can they?) The spirit of open inquiry that scholars like to tout in their self-congratulatory journals simply did not exist on the campuses where I worked. A student who tilted right, or failed to tilt visibly left, invited academic reprisals.
This climate of enforced homogeneity produces a striking intellectual torpor that’s most unbecoming in a supposed place of higher learning. It also produces grotesque intellectual defects akin to the physical defects one often finds among the chronically inbred. After decades of hearing nothing but their own ideas echoing back at them — of seldom having their logic challenged — many of my tenured colleagues had come to believe some pretty strange things: Suffice it to say that almost everything in American affairs was linked to some conspiracy theory, most of which were linked to the Oval Office (but only during Republican administrations).
* There’s a certain emperor’s-new-ideology phenomenon in play in academia. The gassy rhetoric serves as a private code between the chosen ones who claim to “get” all that drivel, which presumably is far beyond the ken of the rest of us. In their collective heart of hearts, academics live in terror that some clear-eyed outlander will stumble in and reveal them as philosophically naked, so they go to remarkable lengths to bar the door to people lacking the proper family crest. In making hiring decisions, they’ll insist on Ph.Ds and other “terminal degrees,” justifying those criteria on the basis of state funding mandates (but knowing also that the Ph.D process, like a finishing school for good little academics, indoctrinates candidates in the rules of the faculty lounge). They’ll reserve tenure to those who have “significant track records of publication” in elitist, determinedly non-mainstream publications (like those where members of the tenure committee itself publish). The incestuous cycle goes on and on.
Of course, academia has the power to change all this. Colleges could create tenure-track programs specifically designed to attract talented real-world practitioners. To their credit, a handful of institutions, like the University of Iowa and New York University, already have done so. But the general disinclination to take such steps robs students of the cutting-edge tactical expertise of folks who have battled it out in the trenches, successfully doing things that most college professors can talk about only in the abstract.
This estrangement from the real world explains why, in the end,
* Academia, at least in the liberal arts, stands for devolution, not revolution; stasis, not progress. More often than not, educators who describe themselves as “progressives” (one of those code words) are really stuck in New Deal liberalism. They haven’t even made it as far as a Clintonesque co-opting of GOP-inspired social reforms.
To be fair, this sociological stagnation doesn’t always show up in the actual curricula, especially the hard sciences. The intellectual aggressiveness at the nation’s esteemed research universities is beyond question (even if one does wonder why we continue to score less well than we ought to in international tests). But in the humanities — English, the arts as a whole, philosophy, political science, and the rest of the disciplines that emphasize critical thinking about the human condition — academics seem to think society should have stood pat with FDR, or maybe LBJ. When my IU peers taught out of magazines, they tended to work from the New Yorker of the Algonquin period or Beat-era issues of Rolling Stone, not from The New Yorker or the Rolling Stone of today. (Such predilections are worse than just silly, because it’s the student who suffers. Of what use is a curriculum that devotes its energy to preparing people for the magazine world of a half-century ago?) Further, in part because of that nostalgic longing for the days of muckraking, domestic Marxism, and the “awakening American social conscience,” the skew in the politics of chosen class materials is palpable — if not darkly hilarious. Professors make required reading of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village. You will never see professors teaching out of Newt Gingrich. Not unless they’re setting Gingrich up for a fall.
I’ve now left the academy, and I don’t expect to be invited back anytime soon. Still, I’m grateful for the experience. At least now I know the answer to questions like, “What’s the opposite of higher education?”
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
THABO MBEKI: SOUTH AFRICA'S ELITE LEFTIST
Though he's not Leftist enough for his old Communist buddies
"An elitist, surrounded by an appointed elite with groups of advisors, who are equally elitist, even in their opportunistic analytical advice to the president," one senior ANC official highlights. A "centralist one-man dictamocrat (description of a dictator and de-mocrat in one), who has established many enemies on his way to the top", another observes. "He could be described as a conspiring megalomaniac, stopping at almost nothing to entrench his vice grip on power, serving the foreign interests of British, Americans and Europeans," a third insider remarks.
The ANC's former secretary for information in exile, Thabo Mbeki, enjoyed a close working relationship with the late ANC president, Oliver R. Tambo. The late ANC president had two protégés - Thabo Mbeki and Chris Hani - there-by covering the political spectrum as best he understood. Tambo also had two close friends - Zambia's former pre-sident Kenneth Kaunda and London/Rhodesia Mining & Trading Company's (Lonrho, today's Lonmin) founding executive chairman, Tiny Row-land.
It was thus made possible for Tambo's wife, Adelaide, and their three children to live in London, where it was openly said that Adelaide Tambo enjoyed the international diplomatic cocktail circuit. Their children went to school in England and did a short stint at a university in Paris, France.
The friendship with Kaunda and Rowland remained close. Even after the ANC president's passing at the inauguration of Nelson Mande-la as president of South Africa, Tambo's widow, Mrs Adelai-de, was seated at the same table as the late Tiny Rowland and retired Kenneth Kaunda.
Whilst in exile, Thabo Mbeki was able to study in Sussex, England, where he also became married to his wife, Zanele. He completed his studies at the London School of Economics. Mbeki was always seen as pro-West, whereas Hani as pro-East.
Today his long-standing, high-ranking party colleagues caution, "Thabo Mbeki's most dangerous weakness is, he is faced with governing South Africa without a mandate of the masses. But, he actually does not care." They explain, the populists represent his fear for the masses, hence his intense dislike of them. His supporters in cabinet and government, in the parastatals and the private sector back his abhorrence of 'common populism'. Senior party colleagues however motivate their support of the president's dislikes by saying that he is "paying their salaries".
Another top ANC party official made it clear, insisting: "The President has long lost the confidence of the masses. In fact, the poor masses of South Africa, never really knew Thabo Mbeki. After eleven years in government, the President has lost it, as his grip on the ANC slipped away. He'll now need (fired deputy president) Zuma, to help him gain the confidence of the body of the ANC."
Analysts observed that the majority of South Africans voted for "their struggle movement", the ANC. Their hearts were filled with Afro-centric, Pan-Africanist ideals and hopes for a better future with obvious participation in the economy of their land. They did not vote for a western, capitalist, neo-liberal system.
Senior party insiders, analysts, local and foreign observers, political scientists, authors and media commentators seem to have a common view on South Africa's president - he is smart, intelligent; and the local, as well as the international business community claim, he is doing a good job - but where is his constituency? Is the ANC and its base actually part of his thinking and subsequent strategies? Has Mbeki pushed his envelope too far this time?
Mbeki is by no means viewed as "a people's president" ANC party insiders and analysts concur. His thrust to appease the international West and its business interests in South Africa has not changed. This however, would not be acceptable to the policies of Cosatu and the SACP in the Tri-Partite alliance and was no part of the noble and humane Freedom Charter.....
Monday, July 25, 2005
ARROGANT ELITISM IN THE ARTS
This year's edition of one of Europe's top summer arts events was described as a pretentious catastrophe Thursday after angry audiences booed or walked out of a series of performances. Critics attending the three-week Avignon theatre festival in southern France said it had plumbed new depths of intellectual obscurity and warned that a contempt for the mainstream public was placing the future of a prestigious national institution in jeopardy. "What purgatory!" headlined the news magazine Le Point on its culture pages, "Loyal spectators are sad, disorientated and haggard," while a commentator for the Communist newspaper L'Humanite said this year's offerings were marked by "a triumphant sense of masturbatory autism."
But the most searing attack on Europe's most important drama venue after Edinburgh came from the conservative newspaper Le Figaro, which devoted its daily editorial to "the festival's worst crisis since 1968." "It is chic, it is hip, it is conceptual. And it is totally cut off from the real country," the paper thundered. "Prototypes are being launched for the public to test, but the real audience is a tiny in-crowd, drunk on its own pathetic audacity .... Most spectators are not totally new to the world of the arts and can make up their own minds. Every evening they come out revolted. "Does the festival have the right to survive this artistic and moral disaster?" it concluded.
Founded in 1947 by theatre director Jean Vilar, the Avignon festival played a huge role in rebuilding France's cultural self-confidence after World War II and today has a long-established reputation for showcasing drama -- both traditional and experimental works -- from across the continent. Since 2003 the festival's artistic team has been led by two young administrators Hortense Archambault, 35, and Vincent Baudriller, 37, who this year stand accused of deviating into non-dramatic performance art and an unhealthy emphasis on violence and nihilism.
On Tuesday there were shouts of abuse during a show -- part dance, part installation -- by choreographer Christain Rizzo. "Either the well was deep" -- a reference from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland -- was accompanied by a cacophony of electronic noise that the audience found unbearable.
A two-part work entitled "A lovely blonde child" and "I apologise" in which actors draped life-style dolls of young girls in lascivious postures over coffins also drew boos of derision and was accused of being an incitement to paedophilia. "You think you've reached the last point in mediocrity, pretentiousness and confusion. But no. There is always something worse," said Le Figaro's drama critic.
Belgian visual artist Jan Lauwers prompted another commentator to ask, "Are the gods of theatre taking their revenge?" Lauwers announces that "Needlab 10" is "not a show or a work of creativity but a mental space, an experiment." It ends with a 15 minute film of waves and a solitary man on a beach.
On Sunday much of the audience walked out of "After/Before," described as a piece of "theatre-dance-music-video" by director Pascal Rambert. The first 40 minutes are taken up by a film of interviewees answering the question, "If there were a huge catastrophe, a new flood, what would you bring with you from this world to the next?" In the second half 21 actors reproduce word for word the quotes from the film, and then having stripped off perform them a third time in song and dance. "What have you got against us?" a spectator was heard to shout as he walked out in exasperation.
Press attacks have come not just from right-wing papers like Le Figaro for which the festival is a "place for official art to offer a little bit of scandal with a lot of subsidies." France's left-wing standard bearer Le Monde described a monologue in which Belgian visual artist Jan Fabre -- this year's guest of honour -- ruminates on the fate of a failed clown as "very vague and very pretentious and very lazy." "We have seen a lot of feeble and problematic shows in this Avignon festival. But this is sheer imposture, bloated by its own importance and of unfathomable tedium," Le Monde said.
The Avignon festival was cancelled in 2003 because of a strike by workers in the entertainment industry, but 2004 was seen as a success and advance ticket-sales for this year's event -- which ends on July 27 -- were strong. In an interview with Le Monde, Baudriller said he had no regrets about the programme.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
AN ANGER-DRIVEN ELITE LEFTIST
Ronald Wilson was a judge of the High Court of Australia who fostered the myth of the non-existent "stolen generation"
There are two versions of the convention on discussing the recently departed. The older of them is de mortuis nil nisi bonum; speak nothing but good of the dead. Gore Vidal has made the case for a sterner maxim: nil nisi verum, or nothing but the truth. During the course of the past week there have been a great many kind things said and written about the late Ronald Wilson. Readers who admired him should read no further because I mean to talk about the darker angels of his nature.
Much has been made of his mildness, modesty and unassuming ways, and his habit of saying: "Just call me Ron." But, for all the self-effacing gestures, there was also a persistent monomaniacal streak. As a young prosecutor, he was nicknamed the Avenging Angel. Even former Liberal minister Fred Chaney, who admires him, says that in court he was fearsome. Estelle Blackburn wrote a book, Broken Lives, chronicling two cases where he prosecuted innocent men who were convicted of murders and imprisoned for years despite a known serial killer confessing to both crimes. She describes Wilson as "a very ambitious and overzealous prosecutor at the time".
The tendency to righteous indignation was curbed through most of his years on the High Court bench but came to characterise his term as president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. He described it in the following terms: "I have never felt better. It has something to do with getting angry. Friends say: 'You never used to be so angry.' I can't help it. Sometimes I have difficulty signing my name because my hand shakes so much."
It was an artless admission; the sort of thing you would expect only from someone with quite limited self-understanding. Plainly the burdens of judicial office and the presidency of the Assembly of the Uniting Church had taken their toll. What was keeping him going was afflatus and his regular fix of Old Testamental prophetic wrath. What routinely overwhelmed his judgment, in the HREOC years and afterwards, was seeing indigenous issues through a prism of rage.
Peter Ryan, the former publisher of Melbourne University Press, wrote a piece for the May edition of Quadrant that cast new light on Wilson's character. In it he reminisced about the Darryl Beamish case, one of the murder trials I noted in which Wilson prosecuted, where an innocent man narrowly avoided the hangman's noose and was wrongly imprisoned for 15 years. Ryan had been approached by Peter Brett, a professor of jurisprudence, who had written a book on the case and wanted MUP to publish it. Ryan read it, then asked for an opinion from Owen Dixon, the retired chief justice of the High Court. Dixon urged publication, saying that it was a matter of public duty and that he "didn't think this sort of thing could happen in Australia".
Brett described the case as "a monstrous miscarriage of criminal justice", as bad as anything he had been able to "discover in recent times in the common-law world". He concluded his book by saying: "The judges, Crown law officers and police who participated in the sorry proceedings which I have described can be left to live with their own consciences." What prompted Ryan's column was that last April Fool's Day the West Australian Court of Criminal Appeal finally exonerated Beamish and found that he had suffered "a substantial miscarriage of justice".
The next day The Weekend Australian reported that the chief investigating police officer, George Owen Leitch, and the president of his police union had described themselves as being "deeply disappointed" at the court's decision. Wilson, the former Crown prosecutor, was reported as saying, first up, that he wished to make no comment. There then followed, as Ryan notes, "his apparent comments that he had expected the court's decision [how?] and that he does not believe that he has been at fault". My guess is that, since Brett's book came out in 1966, Wilson was in a state of denial about the irreparable wrong done to poor Beamish. His sermons and denunciations of whited sepulchres in the meantime were probably all the more passionate because, in his lucider moments, he knew that he was one himself.
When the opportunity finally came, the natural time for him to say something graceful to his victim and to acknowledge his part in that miscarriage of justice, he squibbed it and retreated into blanket denial. I rang Ryan on Thursday, the eve of Wilson's funeral, to ask what he thought of the hypothesis. "Yes, that'd be right," he said. "Insofar as he had an intact conscience, it would have been eating away at him all along."
By the time he came to inquire into the so-called stolen generations and to contribute to the Bringing Them Home Report in the mid-1990s, Wilson was consumed by what Melbourne commentator Michael Warby calls "moral vanity". The most obvious sign was his willingness to accuse Australian governments and their public servants of deliberate policies of genocide. Apart from its injustice, it was as ill-considered and counterproductive an accusation as I can remember anyone in public life making during the past 30years.
The frisson this self-described "voice of the voiceless" so obviously derived from reiterating the charge was sickening to watch. The report itself is a disgrace. Wilson abandoned the habits of a lifetime of careful weighing and testing of evidence in favour of the most shameless, partisan kind of advocacy research. His use of sources was extremely loose and he repeatedly refused to hear evidence that ran counter to his prejudices, including testimony from people who believed that separation policies had worked to their advantage. Not surprisingly, the test cases based on the report's findings have collapsed under the weight of their implausibility when tried in court.
The criticism of Wilson's contribution to the debate about the separation of part-Aboriginal children from their mothers does not end there. First of all, there can be no doubt that he managed to trivialise a serious and complicated debate that deserved judicious handling. Second, he played along with the black activists who, for ideological reasons of their own, wanted to recruit everyone of mixed descent into a kind of indelible Aboriginality, which somehow took priority over all other ties of blood and trumped all other cultural affinities. There was, for example, no recognition that even those who had deliberately embraced cultural assimilation were making a legitimate choice. Another outcome is that for many, especially in the fourth estate, it is still unimaginable that being institutionalised and given a basic education might have been the best available option.
Last and worst of all, it seems certain that Bringing Them Home has had the effect of dissuading many social workers and government departments from intervening in cases where removing abused part-Aboriginal children from dysfunctional communities was necessary, sometimes leaving them in mortal peril. Actual deaths became a secondary consideration, compared with accusations of cultural genocide.
One of the great triumphs of the Australian Left has been to convict white Australians of the "stolen generation" crime -- the alleged forcible removal of 100,000 black children from their families so they could be brought up by white foster-parents instead. There has even been a film made about the subject -- Rabbit-proof fence -- which claims to be a documentary. The whole story is however just another Leftist lie -- as Andrew Bolt sets out at length here and here. The slender basis of fact that the story relies on is that some 1930s official do-gooders -- predecessors of the modern LEFT -- did place a few mixed-race children in white foster homes to give them a better chance in life -- but the placement was always made with written parental consent. There was NO forced removal. Nobody and nothing was "stolen". And that's not just Andrew Bolt's opinion. It is the finding of a year-long $10 million Australian court case about the claim. Officialdom acted only when the parents either did not want the children or felt that they could not care for them adequately. Tim Blair has some amusing comments on Leftist attempts to wriggle out of admitting the facts concerned.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
THE LEFTIST ELITE DISLIKE AMERICANISM
As we know well, most Latinos and Asians are the most enthusiastic supporters of integration and the best examples of its benefits. Instead, the new ideas come from the oldest and most established areas of our society and they grow directly out of the cultural revolution of the 1960s led by the wealthy, young elite of that day.
There are two main themes in this new view of diversity: a weakened confidence in there being any such thing as Americanism, and a sudden awareness of groups that had been supposedly locked out or left behind by the American dream. The major result of this crisis of confidence was a new stress on culture and on the differences between cultures. The traditional picture of the "melting pot" is out; "mosaic" is in. "Assimilation" is now viewed as bad; "integration" is good. The emphasis on "Americanizing" helped to create the blind spot that led to America's greatest evils, so "Americanism" itself is suspect--it is said to be essentially coercive, always relentless and sometimes ruthless.
Besides, advocates of diversity say that the chosen metaphor of the melting pot was always an exaggeration and never an accurate description. All cultures are equal--equally true and equally valuable--and therefore unmeltable. Thus the United States is a multicultural society rather than "Western" or "American." Indeed, they argue there is no such thing as Americanism with which to do the melting. At best they say, the notion is an abstraction. At worst it is an excuse for coercing the cultures of the world into the mold of the Anglos or the Europeans.
Instead of Americanness, these critics say, what we need to stress are diversity, relativism, and tolerance. According to the liberal psychobabble, all the cultures of the earth are equal, and must be treated as such. What is respected must be protected, and what is protected must be celebrated and promoted. Anything else is discrimination and judgmentalism. Thus all cultures are equal--especially formerly victimized cultures, which are at least temporarily more equal than others.
If ever there was a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water, this must be it. It is one thing to identify occasional excesses of Americanizing and another thing to reject its even more frequent successes and overall dramatic picture. Ironically, the very appreciation of cultural diversity is a fruit of the values now rejected in the name of cultural diversity, just as almost all of America's most distinctive values have roots in the tradition now pushed to one side.
But, far more importantly, the process of Americanizing is crucial for American nationhood. One of the lessons of the 20th century was the explosive power of nationalism--far more potent and enduring than the power of communism and other failed forms of government. E pluribus unum is therefore an extraordinary achievement, and one that we neglect at great peril, for it lies at the heart of our nationhood.
But what were the dynamics at work in the process of American nation-building at its best? From the 17th to the late 20th century these dynamics are clearly visible, and the chorus of voices describing them has a remarkable harmony. First, becoming American meant that new arrivals saw themselves as individuals rather than as members of groups. As George Washington said, "The bosom of America is open...to the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions"--but they should not come as groups and so retain the "language, habits, and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them." Rather they should settle as individuals ready for "intermixture with our people" and so become "assimilated to our customs, measures, and laws: in a word, soon become our people."
Woodrow Wilson made the same point strongly: "You cannot become thorough Americans if you think of yourselves in groups. America does not consist of groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group has not yet become an American."
The stark contrast with our recent politics of identity and quotas is more than a little disturbing.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Miles off the paved highway and at the end of a long, bumpy driveway that cuts deep into the woods, Mick Womersley puts the finishing touches on his solar panel-topped home. It’s not your ordinary rural dwelling, even one designed to be ecologically sound. Womersley, a human ecology professor, and his wife Aimee Phillippi live comfortably in a house built of roughly 200 straw bales. Their home bears no resemblance to the one blown down by the wolf in the children’s story. Strong and solid, the walls have insulating capacity several times that of conventional homes, offering more than ample protection from winter temperatures that can persist in the single digits for days. Coming from a source that renews itself annually, straw is cheap, and it’s not an attractive food source for insects. And its proponents note that once the tightly packed straw is covered with stucco, it catches fire at a higher temperature than wood.
All of which leave Womersley, who’s in his 40s, and his wife, who’s just shy of 30, cozy in the winter and cool in the summer. They have no mortgage and only about $6,000 in credit card debts from building the home they share with two dogs. They have no children.
Separated from the woods road by vegetable gardens and a pen for their pigs, their home is off the power grid and completely self-contained. Womersley takes special pride in the fact that it’s built entirely from recycled or renewable materials. The construction cost came to less than $20,000. “Every piece of junk that went into this house has a story,” the red-bearded, bespectacled professor said with a slight hint of an accent that gives away his British background.
The wooden planking on the floor came from a former chicken barn. The large windows that admit floods of sunlight were donated by neighbors or bought secondhand, and one even came from Unity College, where Womersley and his marine biologist wife teach. The small private school offers a curriculum that emphasizes the environment and natural resources......
A fluorescent light brightened the home during a recent visit, and other fixtures were equipped with highly efficient bulbs. But Womersley, who believes that living sustainably and comfortably aren’t mutually exclusive, said his television viewing is unhampered by his energy-saving ways. “You watch TV, and we’re going to watch TV too,” said Womersley, noting the couple has dish satellite service. The couple did splurge on a $1,500 backup propane generator, which Womersley proudly fired up with the push of a button. It’s especially useful as a heat backup in the winter’s coldest months to keep the 900-square-foot house cozy.
“We have a house here that runs on very little petroleum and that might be important one of these days,” said Womersley, whose doctorate from the University of Maryland was awarded for a dissertation on global environmental policy and religious environmentalism.
While he takes his area of expertise seriously, Womersley believes that the environmental purists’ ideas are often impractical, and even elitist at times. To Womersley, it makes no sense to build a sustainable house that costs more than a working person can afford, or whose parts can’t be obtained from mass-market sources like Wal-Mart or Home Depot.
Phillippi noted that solar heating and power systems can be prohibitively expensive because they aren’t designed for people who need smaller systems. “Designer” straw houses on the market that can cost $450,000 defeat the purpose of being cost-effective, Womersley believes.
In addition to the $20,000 cost of building his home, Womersley said monthly costs of running and maintaining it come to about $250. That compares to rental costs of around $700 per month for decent family apartments in the central Maine area, he said.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
EUROPEAN ELITISM: A VIEW FROM SWEDEN
The second interview with Mark Styen, by John Hawkins of Right Wing News http://www.rightwingnews.com/category.php?ent=4049 was as phenomenal as the first. It was conducted via email. In it, Mr. Steyn made many astute points, however, one in particular struck me:
John Hawkins: For the time being, the European public seems to have turned against the idea of creating a "United States of Europe." Do you think the wishes of the European public will be respected, will they change, or do you think Europe's elites will push on for a united Europe regardless of what the people want?
Mark Steyn: What we're likely to end up with is backdoor piecemeal imposition of the bulk of the European Constitution. The EU's so-called "democratic deficit" - the remoteness of the unaccountable unelected governing class - is, as they say, not a bug but a feature. It was set up that way because, after the massive popularity of Nazism and Fascism, the post-war European elites decided that it was necessary to build institutions that restrain the will of the people rather than express it. In the long run, that's merely a more leisurely and scenic route back to where they came in.
It was upon reading this that the situation in Europe began to make sense to me: the structure of the EU & the strident opposition to it by the populace. Therefore, despite not being of John Hawkins caliber, I decided to do my own interview, via email, with a blogger from Sweden, Fredrik, who is much smarter at his age of nineteen than I ever was. As he was kind enough to tolerate me & answer my queries, I have gained much insight into the condition of Europe & the sources of its anti-Americanism. I am confident that you will find his replies to be as thought provoking as I did.
NYgirl: Fredrik, do you agree with Mark Steyn on his views of the democracy deficit in the EU & it's reasons? Is Europe, in general, more wary of democracy than America? What about Sweden?
Fredrik: I most certainly do, EU's democratic deficit is enormous and I really can't understand why Brussels is so surprised that the constitution was rejected. For ONCE EU citizens where allowed to have a say on the EU and answer was quite obvious. The U.S. is in many ways a democratic role model and Europe has plenty to learn, in Sweden for example our influence over larger issues is basically zero. We've had some 7-8 referendums for the last hundred years, which pretty much tells you how our democracy works. We have our say every four years, the same party wins and things go on as usual. Europe might have given the world the word "democracy" but we haven't grasped the concept as much as we should. I've never really felt that Europeans are more different than Americans, it's just that Americans where blessed by their founding fathers whereas Europe wasn't.
NYgirl: Do you think that the party based system common throughout Europe contributes to the disfranchisement of Europeans? It seems to me that voting for a party rather than a person offers more opportunities for political monopolization. Also, do you believe that the socialist economy, with its intimate ties between the state & private sectors, plays a role in this deficit? Have you noticed a difference following the inception of the Internet? Have there been any Rathergate type incidents in Europe?
Fredrik: Well, it's kind of a joke to hear MPs argue since their opinions rarely matter. I've always believed that individuals, not parties, should be given the final call, the power to make decisions. In our parliament they follow orders (this tradition is mostly common on the left) and they rarely object. So you're right, it undermines the democratic process, which indeed is sad. As for the socialistic economies, well, Europeans in general are heavily regulated with few rights against the state so it's not just the economy. It's the overall attitude we have against politics, which I blame socialism for. I don't believe the European model is anything worth saving, whereas I also see that the U.S. has its problems. The main difference is that the U.S. has been a democracy for a lot longer and your experience with the democratic system is far more delicate. Europe is a democratic region, we are, but there is plenty of stuff we could do to improve what we have. The "social model" is the first thing I would like to abolish for example. As for Rathergate type of incidents, there most certainly have been thousands of them but we don't have the same tradition as you have. Most and foremost European media rarely treat facts with much decency. You should have been here during the November election. The European media WAS A PART OF KERRYS CAMPAIN! It was a disgrace, terrible and so utterly wrong to do so, but still none cared, everybody hated Bush just because. No good reason is given - they simply use the word hatred to make things simple.
NYgirl: Yes, I heard of the Euro press support for Kerry. The anti-Americanism shocked me. You said a very interesting thing: "It's the overall attitude we have against politics which I blame socialism for" I read in a book about France that discussing politics at the family dinner table is taboo, thus the spouts of radicalism. What about in Sweden? Also, do you think that the mainstream Euro press is representative of the European public in general? The American MSM has a liberal bias not shared by many, is it the same in Sweden?
Fredrik: You should take into consideration that these are the thoughts of a nineteen year old. I am in no way to be considered a pundit on the subject; I just feel that socialism has forced Europe into some kind of naive attitude towards politics. It is for example completely impossible to have a discussion about the U.S. with most Europeans. They don't know a thing; to them the U.S. is "The Right Nation" with capital R and thus a terrible place to live in. And since we all watch Hollywood movies, which is totally out of touch with the average American we tend to believe the reality Hollywood gives us. This creates a weird picture about American politics and your country in general and when you have a president like George W Bush that tells it like it is Europeans get irritated. Swedes are generally fairly interested in politics even though our political climate is so much different than yours. In Sweden and throughout Europe you serve the party and you only advance if you have proven that you are a loyal servant to your party. Rhetoric's is rarely an ingredient. I for example have never engaged in politics since I don't like the system, I simply don't feel that individuals can have very much influence over politics in general. Blogging has been my rescue thank God :)As for the European press I would say that they reflect the political nature of many Europeans, one could say they stand in the "middle" between Europeans on the left and the ones on the right. I often blame European press for being very liberal (and studies have shown that 70% of all Swedish journalists vote left), and that fact is specifically true when it comes to the US or for example Israel. Reading articles about Israel is like reading a leftwing blog. Some would say that the press don't share the view by the European public and some would say they do, I say that it's not much of an issue - the press will always be for the elite and there is not much you can do about it. "What man knows, man sees" as Goethe said. The media will always be accused of being biased regardless of where on the political scale you are. Of course I think media gives a leftist perspective that is pretty common among intellectuals to do that but at the same time you can always listen to DailyKos and their angry rants on the "right wing media"...
Please visit Fredrik's excellent blog http://frihetsomfrihet.blogspot.com/ I would like to thank him for not only allowing me the opportunity to interview him, but also, for consenting to my publishing it.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Dispelling Media Elitist Bias Concerning Karl Rove
The media frenzy created by the revelation that Karl Rove had talked to a Time magazine correspondent about the issue of Joe Wilson’s claims that CIA Director George Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney had authorized his trip to Niger continues to build as media elitists are unrelenting in their biased news coverage.
These media elitists are liberal Democrats and have by all accounts decided that it is to their advantage to echo politically charged rhetoric of the Democrat party, instead of adhering to their regular assertions that they maintain a ‘neutral’ or ‘unbiased’ position when reporting news events in lieu of their own personal ideological beliefs.
In the case of Karl Rove, media elitists and their Democrat brethren believe that Karl Rove is the sole architect in the diminished political presence of the Democrat party across the American landscape. They now view him as the ‘puppet master’ instead of Vice President Cheney who used to be the brunt of that charge.
As was written in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, ‘Rove’s most significant relationship in Washington is the one he has with Bush. The partnership not only helped Bush win the Texas governor’s mansion twice and two White House terms but has also fueled a political transformation that has made the GOP dominant in a growing number of states.
Rove has used the power he accumulated in his office to oversee presidential policy decisions. He has also overseen electoral politics down to individual congressional races. Rove helped steer the Republicans to victory in 2002 midterm elections and Bush to re-election in 2004, and had actively recruited candidates for key races.’
In the liberal worldview, Rove has single-handedly decimated the Democrat party, but more importantly, they see him as being the heart and soul of the political process that currently buoys the Republican dominance in this country, but specifically, in Washington D.C..
They believe destroying Karl Rove will remove the wind from the Republican sails and that without him the Bush administration would fold like a house of cards. Plus, for them, his destruction would be the salve to heal their political wounds.
Understanding the liberal mentality, they will never accept that their political defeats have been incurred because of their own philosophy and ideological principles as they relate to the political arena. It had to be because of something someone else did to them, not what they did to themselves.
And that person, in their minds, is the ‘evil genius’ Karl Rove.
So carrying the water for liberal Democrats seeking their revenge, media elitists started the campaign of destruction against Rove utilizing a common liberal media tactic of promoting news stories based on factually inaccurate information.
Let’s start with the repeated falsehood that Rove ‘outed’ Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Rove actually told Matt Cooper that Wilson’s wife apparently worked at the CIA on ‘WMD issues’. The fact is, he never told Cooper who she was and what her position was at the CIA... she could have been a secretary as far as anyone knew based on Rove’s statement.
The media has also made a point of engaging the idea that since an investigation is underway and a Grand Jury has been convened, Rove must have broke the law though he has been convicted of no crime. Wilson himself admitted that his wife wasn’t a ‘covert agent’ at the time, specifically because her field agent status had to be removed when she married him and that she hadn‘t been on an overseas assignment in five years, which automatically removed any covert status.
What the media is doing is labeling Rove as ‘guilty until being proven innocent’, which liberals always claim they never do... unless they are attacking conservatives.
The whole basis of their attack on Rove is focused on destroying his credibility through their own created conspiracy theory that Rove ‘outed’ Wilson’s wife because he was trying to discredit Wilson and his ‘proof’ that Bush had lied in his State of the Union speech.
To better understand this conspicuous ruse, you have to remember that the media whole-heartedly accepted the ‘misinformation’ Wilson wrote in his New York Times op-ed piece where he reported that he had found ‘no evidence of a uranium buy by Iraq in Niger’ and then labeled President Bush a liar generating hundreds of headlines across the country screaming that ‘Bush Lied’.
In the first place, not only didn’t Wilson find any evidence of a buy, neither did he find evidence that a buy hadn’t taken place... he found NO evidence either way. In the second place, he wrote in his own book that he did find evidence that Iraq had ‘sought’ to buy uranium in Niger because Wilson had met with a covert agent who told him Baghdad Bob had been in Niger doing that very thing!
That story concretely confirmed that President Bush’s State of the Union address was in fact accurate, which made Joe Wilson’s own op-ed attack piece on the President nothing but a misleading attack piece. Since the mainstream media had invested itself in this falsehood, instead of admitting their mistake, they decided to circle the wagons around Wilson and have continued repeating his ‘no evidence, Bush lied’ mantra.
Then the Valeria Plame issue erupted and they just transformed that mantra into the conspiracy theory that she was ‘outed’ as a covert CIA agent by the Bush administration to ‘get even’ with Wilson and his ‘proof’ that Bush lied.
So the premise of these media attacks is itself based on factually inaccurate information.
Now that it looks as though Rove has committed no crime, Democrats have changed their cries of outrage for Rove’s firing to still happen because he was ‘part of a leak’. This, too, has turned into an episode of misinformation by the media.
AP reporter Pete Yost wrote in a recent article, ‘Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.’
In the very next paragraph, he contradicted himself by writing, ‘Asked at a June 10, 2004, news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts.’
There’s a big difference between ‘leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson’s wife’ and ‘anyone found to have leaked Plame’s name’.
But according to liberal media pundits, it’s the President who has changed the standard by ‘raising the bar’, not media elitists who are trying desperately to squirm through their own rhetoric.
In 2003, President Bush said, "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is and if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of,” yet media elitists assert that is somehow different from what he says today, “If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."
It seems based on the comparison of those two statements, it’s not the President who is changing the story, it’s the media.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
THE ARROGANT AND IGNORANT HOLLYWOOD ELITE
Then there's Robert Redford, who once played Bob Woodward in ``All the President's Men'' and apparently still believes that role made him an experienced Washington Post-like muckraker from the Watergate era. These days, Redford lectures reporters to go after George W. Bush, undeterred by the fact that the real journalist Dan Rather ended his career by just such an obsessed effort. Redford and Penn, of course, aren't the only entertainers as would-be wise men and moralists who lecture us on the evils of the Bush administration.
The United States took out the Taliban in seven weeks, Saddam in three. Despite a difficult insurrection, there is a democratic government in Iraq. Yet the action-hero George Clooney pontificated, ``We can't beat anyone anymore.''
Bin Laden declared open season on Americans during Bill Clinton's administration, well before Sept. 11, Afghanistan and Iraq. But Sheryl Crow announced, ``The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies,'' as if her musical genius translates into expertise on radical Islam.
Richard Gere of ``The Jackal'' fame elaborated: ``You can see [the terrorists] as a relative who's dangerously sick and we have to give them medicine, and the medicine is love and compassion. There's nothing better.''
Cher often sings of losers and so drew on her artistic insight to share a complex portrait of the president: ``I don't like Bush. I don't trust him. I don't like his record. He's stupid. He's lazy.''
What's so disturbing about our leftist celebrities lecturing us on what has gone wrong after Sept. 11? Nothing, as long as we realize why they do it. Entertainers wrongly assume that their fame, money and influence arise from broad knowledge rather than natural talent, looks or mastery of a narrow skill. In fact, what do a talented Richard Gere, Robert Redford and Madonna all have in common besides loudly blasting the current administration? They either dropped out of, or never started, college. Cher may think George Bush is ``stupid,'' but she -- not he -- didn't finish high school.
If these apparent autodidacts are without degrees, aren't they at least well informed? Not always. Right before the Iraqi war, Barbra Streisand issued an angry statement assuring us that Saddam Hussein was the dictator of Iran.
Second, liberal guilt over their royal status explains why leftist entertainers drown out the handful of conservative celebrities. Sanctimonious public lectures provide a cheap way of reconciling rare privilege with professed egalitarianism. British rockers draft legions of lawyers to evade taxes, yet they parade around at hyped concerts to shame governments into sending billions of taxpayers' money ``to end poverty'' in Africa. Such public expressions of caring provide some cover for being long-haired capitalists -- or, in the case of an impoverished Africa, not worrying how in the messy world one really deals with Zimbabwe's kleptocrat Robert Mugabe, who just bulldozed the homes of 1.5 million of his own people.
Third, celebs have lost touch with the tragic world that outside of Malibu and Beverly Hills cannot so easily be manipulated to follow a script or have a happy ending. Thus an exasperated Danny Glover, Martin Sheen and others recently ran an ad in the trade magazine Variety lamenting that Hollywood's illegal-alien nannies couldn't obtain driver's licenses to drive to their estates. How dare the voters of California not grant licenses to those who broke the law to nobly serve the exalted?
Fourth, Hollywood's megaphones don't have a very good track record of political persuasion. While Stalin and later Mao slaughtered millions, many actors still preached that communism offered a socialist utopia. Jane Fonda went to enemy Hanoi to offer marquee appeal to the communist Vietnamese but was ignorant of their documented record of murder and autocracy.
If retired actors and entertainers wish to become politicians -- an old tradition, from the Empress Theodora to Ronald Reagan, Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- let them run for office and endure during a campaign sustained cross-examination from voters. Otherwise their celebrity is used only as a gimmick to give credence to silly rants that if voiced by anyone else would never reach the light of day.
Monday, July 18, 2005
HOMOSEXUALITY: THE LEFTIST ELITE VERSUS THE PEOPLE
For the third time in recent years, voters in Maine will go to the voting booth to stop the homosexual agenda being forced on them by activists and their own legislature. Michael Heath is executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine. He says homosexual activists began targeting New England in the 1970s, and one of the long-term results is full-blown legalized same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts -- a reality forced on the people by four activist judges. But Heath says in the early 1990s his group decided to go on the offensive against homosexual activism. And as a result of their and other groups' pro-family efforts, in 1998 and again in 2000 the voters of Maine said no to same-sex marriage.
However, activists and elitist politicians are at it again, the pro-family spokesman says, "and now our current governor is ignoring those two previous decisions made by all the people of Maine voting in those two elections, and passed the exact same bill that was twice rejected in the legislature without a referendum provision." What that means, Heath contends, is that the 186 "elitist politicians in the State House have decided that the people are wrong and they are right. So now there's going to be a third vote in six years. It'll happen in November, and it's on the exact same question."
But this time, the CCLM executive director points out, the homosexual marriage issue is couched in a much broader, more dangerous bill. "Actually it's on a form of gay rights that's more extreme than we've ever seen," he says, "but it's very similar to what the people of Maine have twice rejected." Heath says homosexual activists and allies in the legislature just do not seem to get it -- that ordinary citizens in Maine will not accept having the radical homosexual agenda forced down their throats. Therefore, he asserts, this fall the people of Maine will get a chance to make their will clear yet again by voting against the sweeping homosexual rights bill being pushed on them by elitist state legislators.
Meanwhile, the homosexual agenda continues its offensives in other U.S. states. Last week the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign announced its $50,000 contribution to Action Wisconsin to fund its fight against an amendment to the state constitution barring the recognition of homosexual marriages and civil unions. In the wake of this cash infusion, Action Wisconsin's leaders have boasted of their plans to "hire a campaign manager, build a data system to manage voter information, and put together a robust field plan."
But one Wisconsin church is developing a strategy of its own. Pilgrims Covenant Church in Monroe does weekly literature drops at homes around the state, leaving brochures dealing with homosexuality, and also making the material available to others who are willing to distribute them door-to-door. The church's intent, according to Pastor Ralph Ovadal, is to inform the public and raise awareness about the proposed same-sex marriage ban. "If the proposed amendment to the Wisconsin constitution is to be approved by the people of Wisconsin," Ovadal says, "the people must be reached with the truth about the amendment. Thirty-five thousand Wisconsin families have already had that information delivered to their doorsteps, and this fall we even intend to intensify our efforts."
The minister-activist, who served for 11 years as director of the pro-family group Wisconsin Christians United, notes that Pilgrim Covenant Church is now including a special insert on the amendment in its literature-drop materials. "We firmly believe that our brochures on homosexuality and our flyer on the marriage amendment are a combination that will convince many citizens to vote in favor of the amendment," he says. The ministry of Wisconsin Christians United was recently absorbed into the work of Pilgrims Covenant Church. Ovadal says the congregation's "quiet door-to-door, heart-by-heart campaign" will continue until the statewide referendum on the marriage amendment is held in 2006.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
THE BRITISH LEFTIST ELITE FEARS THE WORKERS
Who's whipping up Islamophobia? The British elite seems almost as fearful of the white working class as it is of the terrorists
Almost before the dust had settled, warnings about the 'Islamophobic backlash' began. Don't do anything hasty, came the warnings from all sections of the British establishment - as if our first reaction would be to head out and beat up the nearest Muslim. Islam is a religion of peace, we were told; don't take it out on your local mosque.
Fears about reprisals were raised in Cobra, the government's top-level emergency committee. Yet there has been no wave of anti-Muslim pogroms - nor will there be. The idea of mass Islamophobia stems more from official myth than from the reality on Britain's streets. And all this suggests an elite that is almost as fearful of its own population, as it is of the terrorists.
In Tony Blair's speech after the attacks, he took care to emphasise that this had nothing to do with Islam, and that most Muslims are 'decent and law-abiding people'. In case we didn't get it, the same message has been repeated ad infinitum over the past few days. Church leaders have orchestrated gestures of solidarity with Muslim representatives, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams warned against a 'temptation for some' to make Muslims a 'scapegoat'. Police officers were stationed outside mosques, to protect them from anyone who might give in to temptation.
Behind the establishment's preoccupation with Islamophobia lies a fear of the mass of the British people - particularly the white working-class section of the British people. There is an idea that the public is volatile and bigoted, and liable to be set off at any moment. Terrorist attacks are feared not just for the damage they wreck, but for the sparks they could ignite in domestic populations.
Stemming 'hate crimes' has become part of the official plan for dealing with a terrorist attack - along with cleaning up the rubble, getting trains running again, and catching those responsible. A National Community Tensions Team is monitoring incidents across the country, and providing intelligence to the government and police. The Muslim Safety Forum - an umbrella organisation of Muslim groups, including the Muslim Association of Britain and the Association of Muslim Police - has met with police chiefs to discuss ways of protecting Muslim communities over the coming weeks. The Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick called for people to come forward: 'We need people from every community to report incidents to the police of any faith-hate crime. We will not tolerate a small minority of people who are using these tragic events last Thursday to stir up hatred.'
Even doctors' surgeries have been enlisted in the effort. One Primary Care Trust sent an email on 8 July calling on staff to be on the lookout for hate. 'These were terrorist acts which may falsely claim to represent particular communities but religious beliefs cannot be associated with such hateful acts', it reminded GPs, in case they thought otherwise. 'At a time of raised tension such as this it is important that all staff challenge racism and prejudice in a positive way. We would like to remind staff that if in the course of their work they encounter any form of abuse they should report this to their managers so that appropriate action and support can be given to those concerned.'
These frenetic measures against Islamophobia contrast with the quiet on the ground. Despite some reports of a 'backlash', there has been no such thing. A number of incidents have been reported in the press, including an attempted arson attack on a Sikh temple in south-east London; a petrol attack on a mosque in Birkenhead; the smashing of windows at a mosque in Mile End, east London; and an arson attack on the Pakistani consulate in Bradford. These crimes should of course be investigated and perpetrators prosecuted - but they don't amount to any anti-Muslim pogrom. What we're seeing are either local incidents that have little to do with the attacks, or the actions of isolated individuals.
Take the tragic murder of a Pakistani man in Nottingham on Sunday. The Nottingham police are treating this as an isolated incident, carried out by some local tearaways who turned nasty. Yet that hasn't stopped it being taken as evidence of the danger to Muslim communities across Britain. A battle of definition has ensued, with some clamouring for the attack to be classified as Islamophobic. The chair of the Muslim Safety Forum commented: 'We are disappointed that they have misclassified it, especially after all the advice to be more alert to Islamophobic hate crime.'
Much was made of the fact that the Muslim Council of Britain received 30,000 hate emails in the aftermath of the attacks. It has now transpired, however, that these emails seem to have been sent by either one individual, or a very small group of people. Indeed, the council has posted a selection of other emails on its website, most of which make a point of emphasising that they don't blame Islam for the terrorist atrocities. Meanwhile, the handful of attacks on mosques are the actions of a few idiots, not a mass wave of hate. On the ground, some of those targeted sought to play down events. The chairman of one mosque responded to an attack by saying: 'It's hard to pinpoint exactly what happened.. I am quite easy about it and don't want to make it into a big issue.'
Some of those incidents being defined as 'Islamophobia' are relatively minor. One of those reportedly charged over the past few days was a crank caller. But these incidents are being pounced on by those concerned about the backlash of hate. One Metropolitan Police official said that in the coming weeks officers would be on the lookout for all kinds of anti-Muslim crime, including 'verbal abuse or graffiti'. This is downright surreal: London gets attacked, and the Met worries about graffiti that hasn't even happened yet.....
Loose tongues could cost lives, is the message; we are all being asked to tiptoe around and watch what we say. Journalists have been hauled over the coals by the Metropolitan Police for using the phrase 'Islamic terrorists', as if any kind of connection between Islam and terrorism could set things off. Whatever happened to the free, open society that London is supposed to represent? All of us - Muslims and non-Muslims alike - should protect Britain against this corrosive official campaign.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
BRITISH ELITE STILL PROTECTS TERRORISM
But the longer I am in London, the more I discover that there are unsettling undercurrents within the government and among elites. One is the application of politically correct rules to coverage of the news. Another is to outlaw free speech as it relates to the treatment of Islamofascism and the bloody consequences of Islamofascism.
One of the first concerns of some after the bombing was a concern about "backlash." Frankly, I did not know at first what the term was supposed to refer to. Was it referring to overreaction in terms of government action, say, London's exerting some sort of pressure against foreign countries that harbor terrorists? Was it referring to increased police action against the citizenry? No, it was referring to hooligans attacking Muslims, which had not happened yet and so far has not, save for a few broken windows at a mosque. That sort of thing is deplorable, but why was violence against Muslims among the first concerns of British elites? The answer is that local Muslims have orchestrated this concern.
They have been very effective. As Mark Steyn pointed out in the Daily Telegraph, "In most circumstances it would be regarded as appallingly bad taste to deflect attention from an actual 'hate crime' [last week's bombings] by scaremongering about a non-existent one." Yet apparently, this has been going on for some time, and now Prime Minister Tony Blair is hustling through Parliament a so-called Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. If passed, it would send a person to jail for seven years if he is accused and convicted of authoring words found offensive by aggrieved religious and racial groups, for instance, I suppose, aggrieved terrorists. Opponents argue that it would protect Satanists and other unusual believers.
How would it affect another journalist writing recently in a British paper, Charles Moore, former editor of the Sunday Telegraph and London's Spectator? Recently, he quoted a Saudi imam welcomed to Britain by Mohammed Abdul Bari of the East London Mosque. The reverend imam, a couple of years back in Mecca, described Jews as "scum of the earth," "rats of the world," "monkeys and pigs who should be annihilated." When the imam is criticized by the likes of Moore, Abdul Bari furiously defends him. Moore went on to quote the local Muslim Weekly's Sheikh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi's writing that parliamentary democracy in Britain must be replaced by "a new civilization based on the worship of Allah," and his description of the leader of the Tory Party as "an illegal Jewish immigrant from Romania." He also referred to the "near-demented Judaic banking elite."
In his trenchant article noting that Islam has yet to come up with a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, Moore criticized another visitor to London welcomed by London's left-wing mayor, Ken Livingstone. The visitor, a world-renowned spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, supports suicide bombing in Israel, whipping homosexuals, and killing Americans in Iraq, civilians and soldiers alike. Research such as this could land Moore in a British calaboose if the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill is passed.
In the West, certain groups have a knack for capturing the moral high ground and ending debate. When the feminists did this and the gay rights groups accomplished this, mischief ensued but nothing more damaging. If Islam's apologists for terror accomplish this feat, the world is in for more than mischief. London will be in for more carnage and America, too.
Friday, July 15, 2005
THE ELITES WHO ARE SCREWING UP AMERICA
“100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37)” is out, and it’s a wonderful read for anyone not on that list. It’s easy to presume that this is the conservatives’ answer to recent published tirades against the right by leftists like Al Franken and Michael Moore, but there are important distinctions. First, Goldberg doesn’t limit the list to those on the left. Jimmy Swaggart makes the list as does Michael Savage. Many in the religious right will quarrel with his selection of Judge Roy Moore. All should applaud his choice of David Duke (“proof that you can take the boy out of the neo-Nazi brown shirt, but you can’t take the neo-Nazi out of the boy”).
Which leads me to the second reason you can’t compare Goldberg to Al Franken and Michael Moore. They are left-wing radicals but I don’t know that Goldberg is even a conservative. I say this because a couple of years ago, I spent an evening plying him with liquor in a bar, and still couldn’t get his tongue wagging. Goldberg doesn’t go after liberals for being liberal. He goes after those liberals, like Al Gore, Robert Byrd, Maxine Waters, George Soros, Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson, and Ted Kennedy who have gone over the edge and become world-class crackpots.
When Goldberg first went public with his complaints about journalists abusing their positions in furtherance of a political agenda, the response from his peers was immediate, and vicious. Now he gets even, and does so with unshackled brio. Former CBS colleague Dan Rather “is disingenuous at best and delusional at worst.” Former CBS producer Mary Mapes “is mainstream journalism’s worst nightmare: someone so zealous that her actions lend weight to every question about fairness that has been raised about the entire news industry.” Bill Moyers’s commentaries are “enough to make you choke on your Brie and spit up your Chablis.”
Goldberg really unleashes on the low-brows of entertainment. God help them. The Jerry Springer Show is “the television equivalent of a churning mass of maggots devouring rotten meat.” Maury Povich “actually makes Jerry Springer appear decent.” Howard Stern is “a form of pollution, a kind of sludge that runs through our culture today.” Phil Donahue “has made the world safe for emotion masquerading as thought.” Kitty Kelley is a “sleaze merchant extraordinaire…this low-rent
And then there are society’s bottom feeders, beginning with Paris Hilton and her parents, of whom Goldberg writes, “If they gave Nobel Prizes for the mom and dad who raised the most vapid, empty-headed, inane, hollow, vain, tasteless, self-centered, useless twerp in the entire country – maybe in the entire world – Rick and Kathy Hilton would be on their way to Stockholm to pick up the medal.” On “gangsta” rapper Ludacris: “If a bunch of white racists got together and tried to come up with a way to make young black guys look really dumb…first they’d invent gangsta rap, and then they’d invent somebody just like Ludacris.” Of useless rocker/druggie/convicted felon Courtney Love, Goldberg’s entire essay is… “HO.”
On and on it goes. Publishers, university professors, feminist icons, political consultants, civil rights leaders, Hollywood producers – there isn’t a pillar of political or cultural elitism not sent crashing to the ground by an author who certainly giggled while writing these pages just as certainly as readers will chuckle while leafing through them.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
THE CLOSED-MINDED "LIBERAL" MEDIA
John Stossel reports:
Where I work (in network TV) and live (on the Upper West Side of Manhattan), people say "conservative" the way they say "child molester." It's the worst thing to be called. Everyone here agrees: Conservatives are repressive, while liberals are open-minded and think it's important to hear a diverse range of voices.
Except, of course, if those voices aren't liberal.
Ironically, in the 19th century, liberals really did want to hear new ideas. In 1869, it was a liberal who wrote, "the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race . . . those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." John Stuart Mill argued that debating people you disagree with was the only way to develop wisdom.
Compare today's so-called liberals.
I recently finished a tour for my book, "Give Me a Break." Weirdly, the same month "Give Me a Break" came out, my publisher released a book by my wife's ex-boyfriend. His book was not political, but he is well-liked in the liberal media world. After our books came out, I turned on the radio, and the first thing I heard was Imus gushing about how wonderful my wife's ex-boyfriend was. Even my wife rolled her eyes. My publisher couldn't get me on Imus.
My wife's ex became a regular on NPR and got on national shows, like "Fresh Air." He was on CNN with Larry King and Paula Zahn, and on PBS with Charlie Rose. He got four columns in the New York Times; my book was never mentioned.
I shouldn't complain. I have plenty of airtime of my own, and the conservatives were eager to talk. I got to discuss my ideas with dozens of talk radio hosts, and on Fox News Channel, where Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have audiences CNN only dreams about. More people bought my book than my wife's ex's.
But where was the "open debate" the liberals like to praise? Mostly on the conservative broadcasts. Conservative hosts had me on their programs even though some loathed my hard-core libertarian ideas. Maybe it's because conservatives in media are used to people disagreeing with them. In fact, if they live in New York City, they are used to liberals shrieking at them. Few conservatives wanted to spend much time debating drug prohibition (Sean Hannity was a rare exception), but at least they heard me out.
I had thought liberal shows would have me on their programs to trash my arguments. I looked forward to a spirited debate. But debate rarely happened. Nearly every media invitation came from people who already shared my belief in the free market. Those who didn't, didn't want to talk about it.
There were a few exceptions: Robert Redford, of all people, flew me out to his Sundance Book festival. Alan Colmes grilled me on his radio program. Larry King eventually had me on; it was only his weekend show, but he said he have me back on a weekday. I'm still waiting.
I thought I'd have a shot at a fair debate with Al Franken because we're acquaintances; our kids went to school together. No such luck. He invited me to his studio, but he barely let me make an argument; instead he ranted about a "lie" on page 305.
I did have had a wonderful time on Air America's "Morning Sedition," with a host who was furious that government doesn't stop Americans from eating too many Big Macs. I treasure the moment of silence that followed my saying that government that's big enough to tell you what to eat . . . is government big enough to tell you with whom you can have sex.
That's the debate the media's supposed to advance. I didn't find much of it in the "open-minded" liberal media.