A Little Something to Fight the Poison

Friday, August 22, 2003
REASONS TO LEGALIZE SELLING SEX: Heidi Fleiss gives an interview that's also a very coherent argument for legalizing prostitution in Legal Affairs, the Yale Law School's new socio-legal magazine.

This is not H.W.'s Yale anymore, thank goodness.
I AWARD YOU NO POINTS, AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL: Fox v. Franken. Two man enter, one man leave.

The verdict:
"There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case," said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally."
I think he hit that one dead-on.

Oh wait, Judge Chin wasn't talking about Fox's FCC license as a news network? Damn. But this is still a pretty good way to start the weekend. We'll get there, eventually...
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
WHY THE GOP'S STRATEGY ON DEFENSE BEATS THE DEMS': According to them, it's because they realize that the American people are morons. I'm not kidding.

Members of both parties speculate about reasons why the Dems trail the GOP by 40 points (!) on foreign affairs and defense issues and what to do about it in this article. Am I only citing this because Wesley Clark shows up prominently? Well, partially. Clark's answer is pretty good, though:
"The country slid into war without facing lots of implications at home and abroad," said the much-decorated Clark, who blames Democrat Lyndon Johnson for bungling the conflict.

Even more significant, Clark said, were broader patterns in American politics as the Democrats captured and embraced "the energy of a wave of social change, and paid a price for the reaction against those changes." He lists "the sexual revolution, civil rights, individual empowerment, greater tolerance -- all of which were accompanied by a certain degree of economic change and posed a threat to much of middle-class America, or was perceived as a threat to middle-class American values."

In a time of "raging patriotism," Clark said, Republican strategists have skillfully exploited these insecurities.
Clark's answer is certainly better than the Republicans', which seems to be: "speak to the American people as if they're 6-year-olds." So says Republican pollster William McInturff:
"Critique of foreign policy is a legitimate and absolutely essential exercise in democracy," Clark said. "The trick is to not criticize the military. They are only doing their duty. That's a vital distinction."

McInturff, the Republican pollster, only laughs. "The public doesn't follow nuance," he said.
Hey, Americans, if you're out there, not that I necessarily want to tell you what to do, but I would humbly suggest that you should make these arrogant bastards pay for thinking that you'll fall for this crap.
IF YOU'RE WORRIED THAT YOU'RE FEELING OVER-OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HUMANITY you can check out these people's views of yesterday's UN bombing for a reality check on how loathesome some of our species can be.

Also, I'm confused: silly me, I thought that an idiotarian was a misguided creature who issued apologetics for terrorism or who blamed its victims, directly or indirectly. Based on the traditional definition of "anti," this led me to infer that an anti-idiotarian was a member of a valiant breed of blogger who preserved the sanctity of our discourse from the depredations of the foregoing.

Eh, I must be falling behind on the lingo...

ADDENDUM: If you want to make yourself feel better about humanity, and maybe even people of conservative disposition, read Tacitus' response.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
UN HQ IN IRAQ BOMBED: At least 13 killed by a car bomb at 4:30 Baghdad time. The UN's special representative to Iraq is still trapped in the collapsed building.

MORE: Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN's special representative to Iraq and the UN high commisioner for human rights, has died.

A painful reminder that the UN isn't merely a bunch of bureaucrats: they're often in the line of fire, and they bleed too.
Sunday, August 17, 2003
ATTEMPT AT A CLARK MEME--CLARK AS THE KRUGMAN ON DEFENSE: This blog has been labelled and linked to on a whole mess of draft Wesley Clark blogs as "Clark firendly," and I suppose that's quite true. I really do like Clark as a candidate. Although I should add that I'm very impressed by Dean, as well as his efforts and accomplishments on the Internet; I think many people who are trying to draft Clark also appreciate Dean for at least the latter point.

But right now, it's time to live up a bit to the billing I'm getting on those Clark sites. So here's my attempt at a contribution: the reason I like Clark so much, and see so much potential in a candidacy is that however things shake out, he is making a massive contribution to the American progressive scene.

And the correct parallel to describe Clark's contribution just hit me: he is America's Paul Krugman on defense and foreign policy.

Just like Krugman, Clark is a moderate progressive who has a background in a traditionally non-liberal field. Krugman is a neoliberal, proglobalization economist. He is moderately pro-NAFTA and pro-WTO: he thinks that it is a much better idea to work through those institutions to promote global progressive values and he has no time for radicals who naively advocate getting rid of them.

Yet, unlike the Al Froms of the world, Krugman is a moderate progressive who recognizes the real threat: the infinitely more radical and dangerous Bush Administration. So PK uses every bit of his immense analytical skill and economic expertise to directs his fire in the form of scathing critiques at exactly where it should go. Not only that, but Krugman also points out all of the constructive ways the Bush Admin could be doing better, using standard, mainstream economic language and reasoning that is conventionally thought to be the conservatives' domain. And this is why hardline Republicans hate Krugman so much. He is a conventional, mainstream economist who uses largely the same theoretical market frameworks the conservatives use, but every single day, he tells them them that they are dead wrong.

In the same way, Clark has all of the nuts and bolts military experience that give today's conservatives a hard-on. He has a deep practioner's knowledge of logistics, strategy, weapon systems, and diplomacy that Republicans claim as their domain. Although he might respect pacifists' views, he is not one of them, and he must almost certainly believes that they are naive and untenable, for he has ordered people to kill and to risk their lives. He has won a major war, defeated a murdurous dictator, and helped use American military power to produce peace and democracy--his campaign in Kosovo seems like an exemplar of the neocons' mythic history.

Yet Clark also knows where the most proximate problem lies and has focused his fire at the Bush Administration's unjust and incredibly unwise foreign policy. He dismantles it, not using a radical discourse that the conservatives could easily dismiss as un-American or effete, but in the professional military and strategic language that they would claim as their own. He has lived the neocons' wet dream, yet he utterly rejects their vision as foolish, dangerous to world peace, and counterproductive to American security interests: he calls Bush's war "the greatest strategic blunder since the Cold War." He sees through Bush's propaganda and names it for the smokescreen that it is--as he did when he voiced what many veterans were thinking by slamming Bush's "prancing" around in a flight suit. And he pairs with every step of this critique a coherent and constructive alternative that is backed up by sound facts and strategic reasoning.

Right now, progressives don't need to choose between moderate and "deep" progressives. Krugman personifies this, but his views hardly make him an outlier of the left--he is just symbolically unique, the neoliberal economist who complements the policies advocated by more typical Democratic politicians.

So I guess the reason I'm excited about Clark is because I think he will be the next big figure to join this project, which is about to reverse the mess of the last couple of years, and become America's much-needed Krugman on defense.

P.S.: If you're a draft Clark-er and you're reading this, please note that it's just "Antidotal", without the "the." And thanks for the link, keep up the great work, and hang in there--as he said in today's impressive interview with Wolf Blitzer, he'll announce in only 2-3 weeks.

P.P.S.: Man, did Clark ever thrash Tom DeLay in that interview:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Frankly, what irritates me the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas.

General Clark is one of them that is running for president, yet he's paid to be an expert on your network. And he's questioning the plan and raising doubts as he becomes this expert.

I think they would serve the nation better if they would just comment on what they see and what they know, rather than putting their own agenda forward as an expert.


BLITZER: Well, pretty strong words from Tom DeLay going after you. What do you say to that criticism?

CLARK: I'd be happy to compare my hair with Tom DeLay's. We'll see who's got the blow-dried hair.

But beyond that, Wolf, he's got it exactly backward. It's upside down. I am saying what I believe. And I'm being drawn into the political process because of what I believe and what I've said about it.

So it's precisely the opposite of a man like Tom DeLay, who is only motivated by politics and says whatever he needs to say to get the political purpose. And so...I couldn't be more opposed than I am to Tom DeLay.