The TSA case, on which Douthat builds his column, is in fact quite a poor illustration -- rather, a good illustration for a different point. There are many instances of the partisan dynamic working in one direction here. That is, conservatives and Republicans who had no problem with strong-arm security measures back in the Bush 43 days but are upset now. Charles Krauthammer is the classic example: forthrightly defending torture as, in limited circumstances, a necessary tool against terrorism, yet now outraged about "touching my junk" as a symbol of the intrusive state.
But are there any cases of movement the other way? Illustrations of liberals or Democrats who denounced "security theater" and TSA/DHS excesses in the Republican era, but defend them now? If such people exist, I'm not aware of them -- and having beaten the "security theater" drum for many long years now, I've been on the lookout.See, I see it differently (and I'm not talking about whether conservatives or liberals are more consistent in the way that Fallows is describing). In my view, the issue is simple. Liberals care most of all about "justice as fairness," so the idea of targeting people or treating one class of people differently than others - whether because they are worse (more dangerous in this context) or better (less dangerous) - makes them uncomfortable. Conservatives feel uncomfortable with that notion of justice, and instead see justice as the (deserved) heaping of badness on wrongdoers. See liberal bete-noir Toby Keith:
Well a man come on 6 o'clock newsIf you're nodding your head in approval, you're probably a conservative. If you're shaking it in disgust...probably not.
Said, "Somebody been shot, somebody's been abused
Somebody blew up a building, somebody stole a car
Somebody got away, somebody didn't get too far"
Yeah, they didn't get too far
Grand pappy told my pappy back in my day son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he'd done
Take all the rope in Texas find a tall oak tree
Round up all of them bad boys, hang them high in the street
For all the people to see
That justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys, you got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the local saloon
We'll raise up our glasses against Evil forces singing
Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses
Thanksgiving therefore is an affirmation of one's relationship to God and not to things or to however well things are going, nor even to His blessings. Thanksgiving is a duty but not one that is negative or coerced. It is a voluntary expression of love and loyalty to God and His great project called Life. People do it, and Nations do it. Moreover, it is always the right thing to do, even when there's not a lot that's obvious to be thankful for.Yes it is. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and thank you to the folks who write, comment, and visit here.
Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.My response on Facebook? "I'm shocked!"
Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington's Reagan National Airport.
ummm, I think there is a misunderstanding here. If they are protectees, the agents flying armed don't go through security because they are cleared by other means. They cannot leave their protectee so all will take the flying armed route. It's not because they are above the law, it's because of the complications of traveling with a protective detail.Crap. I hate it when a beautiful theory (or rant) is slain by an ugly fact.
To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of 'Continual Reaffirmation' that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.
'Of course, it's up to you,' Captain Black pointed out. 'Nobody's trying to pressure you. But everyone else is making them sign loyalty oaths, and it's going to look mighty funny to the F.B.I. if you two are the only ones who don't care enough about your country to make them sign loyalty oaths, too. If you want to get a bad reputation, that's nobody's business but your own. All we're trying to do is help.'
Milo was not convinced and absolutely refused to deprive Major Major of food, even if Major Major was a Communist, which Milo secretly doubted. Milo was by nature opposed to any innovation that threatened to disrupt the normal course of affairs. Milo took a firm moral stand and absolutely refused to participate in the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade until Captain Black called upon him with his delegation and requested him to.-
'National defense is everybody's job,' Captain Black replied to Milo's objection. 'And this whole program is voluntary, Milo - don't forget that. The men don't have to sign Piltchard and Wren's loyalty oath if they don't want to. But we need you to starve them to death if they don't. It's just like Catch-22. Don't you get it? You're not against Catch-22, are you?'
Doc Daneeka was adamant.
'What makes you so sure Major Major is a Communist?'
'You never heard him denying it until we began accusing him, did you?
And you don't see him signing any of our loyalty oaths.'
'You aren't letting him sign any.'
'Of course not,' Captain Black explained. 'That would defeat the whole purpose of our crusade. Look, you don't have to play ball with us if you don't want to. But what's the point of the rest of us working so hard if you're going to give Major Major medical attention the minute Milo begins starving him to death? I just wonder what they're going to think up at Group about the man who's undermining our whole security program. They'll probably transfer you to the Pacific.'
Doc Daneeka surrendered swiftly.
'I'll go tell Gus and Wes to do whatever you want them to.'
Up at Group, Colonel Cathcart had already begun wondering what was going on. 'It's that idiot Black off on a patriotism binge,' Colonel Korn reported with a smile. 'I think you'd better play ball with him for a while, since you're the one who promoted Major Major to squadron commander.'
'That was your idea,' Colonel Cathcart accused him petulantly.
'I never should have let you talk me into it.'
'And a very good idea it was, too,' retorted Colonel Korn, 'since it eliminated that superfluous major that's been giving you such an awful black eye as an administrator. Don't worry, this will probably run its course soon. The best thing to do now is send Captain Black a letter of total support and hope he drops dead before he does too much damage.' Colonel Korn was struck with a whimsical thought. 'I wonder! You don't suppose that imbecile will try to turn Major Major out of his trailer, do you?' 'The next thing we've got to do is turn that bastard Major Major out of his trailer,' Captain Black decided. 'I'd like to turn his wife and kids out into the woods, too. But we can't. He has no wife and kids. So we'll just have to make do with what we have and turn him out. Who's in charge of the tents?'
'You see?' cried Captain Black. 'They're taking over everything! Well, I'm not going to stand for it. I'll take this matter right to Major - de Coverley himself if I have to. I'll have Milo speak to him about it the minute he gets back from Rome.' Captain Black had boundless faith in the wisdom, power and justice of Major - de Coverley, even though he had never spoken to him before and still found himself without the courage to do so. He deputized Milo to speak to Major - de Coverley for him and stormed about impatiently as he waited for the tall executive officer to return. Along with everyone else in the squadron, he lived in profound awe and reverence of the majestic, white-haired major with craggy face and Jehovean bearing, who came back from Rome finally with an injured eye inside a new celluloid eye patch and smashed his whole Glorious Crusade to bits with a single stroke. Milo carefully said nothing when Major - de Coverley stepped into the mess hall with his fierce and austere dignity the day he returned and found his way blocked by a wall of officers waiting in line to sign loyalty oaths. At the far end of the food counter, a group of men who had arrived earlier were pledging allegiance to the flag, with trays of food balanced in one hand, in order to be allowed to take seats at the table. Already at the tables, a group that had arrived still earlier was singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in order that they might use the salt and pepper and ketchup there. The hubbub began to subside slowly as Major - de Coverley paused in the doorway with a frown of puzzled disapproval, as though viewing something bizarre. He started forward in a straight line, and the wall of officers before him parted like the Red Sea. Glancing neither left nor right, he strode indomitably up to the steam counter and, in a clear, full-bodied voice that was gruff with age and resonant with ancient eminence and authority, said:
Instead of eat, Corporal Snark gave Major - de Coverley a loyalty oath to sign. Major - de Coverley swept it away with mighty displeasure the moment he recognized what it was, his good eye flaring up blindingly with fiery disdain and his enormous old corrugated face darkening in mountainous wrath.
'Gimme eat, I said,' he ordered loudly in harsh tones that rumbled ominously through the silent tent like claps of distant thunder.
Corporal Snark turned pale and began to tremble. He glanced toward Milo pleadingly for guidance. For several terrible seconds there was not a sound. Then Milo nodded. 'Give him eat,' he said.
Corporal Snark began giving Major - de Coverley eat. Major - de Coverley turned from the counter with his tray full and came to a stop. His eyes fell on the groups of other officers gazing at him in mute appeal, and, with righteous belligerence, he roared:
'Give everybody eat!'
'Give everybody eat!' Milo echoed with joyful relief, and the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade came to an end.
...I've been trying to write, myself, a poem about those ancient Japanese ceramic cups, rustic in appearance, the property at some point of a holy monk, one of the few possessions he allowed himself. In a later century, someone dropped and broke the cup, but it was too precious to simply throw away. So it was repaired, not with glue, which never really holds, but with a seam of gold solder. And I think our poems are often like that gold solder, repairing a break in what can never be restored perfectly. The gold repair adds a kind of beauty to the cup, making visible its history...For me, I've come with a certain age to realize that people can deal with tragedy by throwing their lives away, or by gluing themselves together and trying to pretend that the tragedy never happened (something that never lasts), or ultimately by soldering the broken places with gold - call it God's love, the love of and for the departed, or just the gold of wisdom.
- Letter from poet Alfred Corn to poet Mark Doty on the death of Doty's love.
Just finished celebrating a birthday. Fortunately, it was rather less depressing than last year's, though the recruiter's consoling comment that "everything happens for a reason" did end up looking damn near clairvoyant over the next 12 months - basic training has nothing on this. Still separated from my wife by circumstances and a continent, though she will be getting on an airplane at some point to be with us again. Airport idiocy, here we come.
Which neatly bridges 2 things much on my mind lately. One personal, and deliberately somewhat cryptic. The other (TSA) very public, and a source of more than considerable irritation to many of us. That irritation is boiling over into widespread anger at invasive, quasi police-state "security theater" that keeps no-one safer. As my friend Jack Wheeler puts it:
"After traveling around the world - and through airport security in 18 countries - over the past few months, then returning to the US, I can confirm that no country I know of on earth has airport security as stupid, obnoxious, and intrusive as the US. And yes, that includes North Korea."
The grains of irritation have been piling up for quite some time, and like any sand hill, you can never be sure when the system reaches its "critical state" and suddenly begins to give way. Eventually, however, it will - and when it does, things happen fast. That anger may have found its critical state flashpoints at last...
John "Don't Touch My Junk" Tyner may well be the grain that sets off the sand avalanche, via his viral YouTube audio recording. That backlash is quickly gathering steam, and a foresighted clause in the bill that created the TSA is giving it serious teeth.
So 4 cheers for Rep. John Mica [R-FL], who helped write the original TSA bill in 2001, and will soon chair the House Transportation Committee. He's now sent letters to over 150 airports, reminding about that intelligent clause that lets them opt out of having the TSA there.
Yeah, you read that right. And about f-ing time.
Orlando's Sanford International has opted out, which will be good news for Disneyworld fans, and for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control employees. A number of other airports in Florida and Georgia are seriously considering it, and it seems likely that more will join them.
Personally, I do not see the TSA as capable of fixing itself. As the Washington Examiner points out:
"In a May 2010 letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mica noted that the GAO "discovered that since the program's inception, at least 17 known terrorists ... have flown on 24 different occasions, passing through security at eight SPOT airports." One of those known terrorists was Faisal Shahzad, who made it past SPOT monitors onto a Dubai-bound plane at New York's JFK International Airport not long after trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Federal agents nabbed him just before departure."
That's why, if I'm Rep. Mica, my next step after airports have switched and passengers can see the difference, is to submit a house bill abolishing the TSA. It was a stupid idea then. It's still stupid. Undo the mistake, and show that government agencies can - and sometimes should - simply go away.
Politically, it also has much to recommend it. Let Senate Democrats risk putting themselves crosswise with a lot of constituents on a personal issue that really makes many angry. They thought ObamaCare was something? That was nothing. Let President Obama move to veto it, in order to keep his union funding coming. He'll lose the respect of many Americans in a way he won't recover, as the GOP reminds Americans again and again, through public and private channels, that if they hate the airport experience, they know whom to thank.
I'd support the same move if it was President McCain. Who would probably have started out clueless, then backtracked at 100 miles an hour. Obama won't backtrack.
Which makes this another good teaching moment and conversation about rights and the proper bounds of government. We'll need it, because replacing TSA employees with private ones doesn't necessarily solve our problem, unless methods also change.
We are still left with a system that does not see and advocate passengers as part of the solution - which, as Tyner points out so well, has been the common denominator of actual airborne terrorist attempts since Flight 93. We are still left with stupid security theater procedures that choose to make everyone victims, instead of targeting those with ill intent. The rise of narco-terrorism, and the potential for further escalation of Mexico's insurgency, means that profiling Muslims as the solution would create a blind spot that would make us less secure. Profile Muslims and Mexicans? Think for a second about the networks narco-terrorists can draw from, and already do. You're just asking to be blown up that way.
But states like Israel have managed to do this - partly because they're serious about security, and partly because, as anyone who knows Israelis will attest, those folks would not have stood for the TSA's brainless security theater for even one day without near-riots.
America can do this too. If it decides that it wants to. Or that it really, really doesn't want the current system. Which is a start. All it takes, sometimes, is that one last grain of sand.
Let the avalanche roll. And bury the TSA.
In "Tea? Yes Party? Not so Much, I Hope," I talked about a coming dust up involving the Tea Partiers and the GOP. Looks like some people have been getting some mail from constituents:
"The GOP caucus in the House of Representatives has come together to propose a ban on congressional earmakrks -- those pork barrel projects that get written in by an individual legislator and which do not face specific up or down votes.... At first, Senate GOP leaders balked at the idea, but the writing is on the wall.... As reported by FoxNews.com, on Monday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell signed on to a two-year moratorium on earmarks."
McConnell was the K-Street Republican most in the way of earmark reform. His capitulation deprives the Tea Partiers of both a teaching moment, and a hard shot at the GOP. As it happens, however, likely Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski [I-$$$] is unapologetic about her embrace of this corrupt culture, and Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid [still D-NV with a big bullseye] is also digging in.
Earmarks may still become a teaching moment - but a far more partisan one. We'll see how it goes.
Marc tweeted this recently, and it's worth a post. Umair Haque at "Bubble Generation":
"It's the oft-unspoken thought on many lips: America's in decline. The glory days are over, the train's left the station. So: is this a great decline? Unfortunately--probably. And I'd suggest that when you take a hard, serious look into the economy--when you voyage past it's superficial, largely irrelevant position in terms of budgets, "gross product", or "unemployment"--that great decline is deeper and darker than pundits, beancounters, and politicians think, want to admit, or even suspect.
The great crisis is a story of structural decline: a decline that's hardwired into the patterns amongst this great machine's many parts. They've settled, over the last three decades and more, into fundamentally bad, toxic equilibria..."
Note that the criticisms of finance and its role that follow are coming from someone who worked in the field, including as a derivatives trader. Haque is the author of The New Capitalist Manifesto. Haven't read it yet, but based on his blog post, it looks interesting.
Marc's tweet asks if he should be depressed or challenged. Well, what do you think?
Confusionist Judith Curry goes 'wicked' and mangles the work of Martin WeitzmanOne way humans make decisions, when there's insufficient data, is by looking at the behavior of those who hold different positions. When I look at this kind of behavior - which isn't designed to engage, advance human knowledge, or do anything except drive a heretic out into the darkness, it really doesn't do a lot to improve my confidence in the people who are engaging in that kind of behavior.
November 17, 2010
Climate change can be categorized as a "wicked problem."[Note] Wicked problems are difficult or impossible to solve, there is no opportunity to devise an overall solution by trial and error, and there is no real test of the efficacy of a solution to the wicked problem. Efforts to solve the wicked problem may reveal or create other problems....
Xu, Crittenden et al. [Note] argue that "gigaton problems require gigaton solutions." The wickedness of the climate problem precludes a gigaton solution (either technological or political).
Judith Curry abandoned science this year. She asserted I was "directly involved in Climategate"; James Annan explained "(S)He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense"; William Connolley eviscerated a recent paper on Antarctic sea ice (here), which notes, "The main problem with the paper is the uncritical use of invalid data"; and Bart Verheggen explained, "Her unfounded allegations are insulting for the whole profession.
1) Climate Change. I am hyper-conservative ecologically (meaning super-Green). My position on the climate is to avoid releasing pollutants in the atmosphere, on the basis of ignorance, regardless of current expert opinion (climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long term damages and I cannot accept certainty in a certain class of nonlinear models). This is an extension of my general idea that one does not need rationalization with the use of complicated models (by fallible experts) to the edict: "do not disturb a complex system" since we do not know the consequences of our actions owing to complicated causal webs. (Incidentally, this ideas also makes me anti-war). I explicitly explained the need to "leave the planet the way we got it"I agree both when he says "climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long term damages and I cannot accept certainty in a certain class of nonlinear models" and that it's a good idea to "leave the planet the way we got it."
. Instead, I was presented as a "climate-change denier" (Lucy Mangan), and my environmental views summarized by "Climate change is not man-made" (Nicholas Watts). A minimum of homework on the part of your staff would have revealed that I am one of the authors of the recent King of Sweden's Bonham declaration on attitude to climate change.
So that there is a vigorous contest of ideas in California politics. Right now, Republicans are so trapped in their ideological hall of mirrors that they have become a distorted caricature of themselves. They can thump their chests and win big attaboys at the California Republican Assembly convention. But they utterly fail to reflect the impulses of the vast majority of California voters who tend to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate.I pretty much agree except for the last point - note that the Tea Party/GOP candidate for Assembly in my district won in every city except Los Angeles. And I think that "tea party" ideology is far from formed at this point, so it's more than a little premature to declare it dead anywhere.
Republicans believe in smaller government, lower taxes, reduced regulation, economic growth, individual freedom and law and order, to name a few GOP values.
They should continue to stand and fight for all of those. But they need to build all that into a platform that begins with a realistic growth agenda. Investments in roads, bridges, dams and/or levees, water projects, schools and universities, redevelopment projects, ports - all these things and more - are wholly consistent with their philosophical world view. Their fixation on opposing everything the Democrats propose is hurting them more than it is helping them.
Republicans could become leading advocates of an economic rebound strategy that relies on Silicon Valley innovation, green jobs, high-tech research and development. They could integrate this with increased exports for a growing agricultural sector and a healthy and expanding service economy.
They don't have to continually serve the interests of the wealthiest 2% of California families - they can focus of the struggling middle class. And they need to remember that California is not Kentucky or Alaska or any other state where the so-called "tea party" is a big deal. In California, tea party ideology is a non-starter.
Why does the economy continue to suck? The LA Times is hosting a symposium on the topic today, and USC business professor Ayse Imrohoroglu says the answer is uncertainty:Businesses don't know what will happen to interest rates. They have trouble calculating what new workers will cost in light of potential new healthcare mandates and costs. They don't know what will happen to tax rates, which could rise dramatically. They are uncertain about increasing financial regulation and the possibility of a carbon tax. And as if that isn't enough, the soaring deficits and national debt raise very real questions about the federal government's long-term ability to meet its debt obligations.
"Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits - a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities."Business is moody. Consumers are moody. They're moody for a reason, to be sure...and I get it that the left wants to claim that government has no part in the uncertainty. But that just makes no sense. People don't parse the regulatory environment from the general environment, and they look, above all, to the government for leadership.
The uncertainty meme is just mind boggling. Businesses always have a certain amount of financial and regulatory uncertainty to deal with, and there's simply no evidence that this uncertainty is any greater now than it usually is. (It is, of course, entirely believable that business owners who spend too much time watching Fox or reading the Wall Street Journal editorial page might believe otherwise, but that's a whole different problem - and one that Imrohoroglu should spend his time debunking, not promoting.) The only significant real uncertainty that American businesses face right now is uncertainty about whether there's enough customer demand to justify hiring more workers and buying more equipment.-
As for the substance of our discussion, O'Donnell -- in standard cable TV form -- basically had one simplistic point he repeated over and over: exit polls show that only a small minority of voters (a) self-identify as "liberal" and (b) agree that government should do more. There are so many obvious flaws in that "analysis." To begin with, exit polls survey only those who vote; it excludes those who chose not to vote, including the massive number of Democrats and liberals who voted in 2006 and 2008 but stayed at home this time. The failure to inspire those citizens to vote is, beyond doubt, a major cause of the Democrats' loss...This is the Left's version of a tune the Right often plays as well..."if only we had candidates as pure as our electorate."
According to months of data from leading media-research company Experian Simmons, viewers who vote Republican and identify themselves as conservative are more likely than Democrats to love the biggest hits on TV. Of the top 10 broadcast shows on TV in the spring, nine were ranked more favorably by viewers who identify themselves as Republican.Basically, political preference is highly correlated with program choice, according to Experian Simmons.
Liberals appreciate many of the same shows, mind you. But their devotion typically is not quite as strong as right-wingers, and Dems are more likely to prefer modestly rated titles.
On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918, the guns ceased. During Remembrance Day, the British Commonwealth countries remember those who came before, and those who came after, and all who have given in their nation's service. John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" is a common accompaniment at ceremonies, where the wearing of poppies is customary (on the left lapel, or as close to the heart as possible), and organizations like the Royal British Legion, Royal Canadian Legion, et. al. are supported.
There's one more kind of remembrance I'd like to point out, and ask you to consider on this day. It's a remembrance of the Bloodlands...
Anne Appelbaum explains in "The Worst of the Madness":
"Murder became ordinary during wartime, wrote Milosz.... young boys from law-abiding, middle-class families became hardened criminals, thugs for whom "the killing of a man presents no great moral problem." Theft became ordinary too, as did falsehood and fabrication. People learned to sleep through sounds that would once have roused the whole neighborhood: the rattle of machine-gun fire, the cries of men in agony, the cursing of the policeman dragging the neighbors away.
For all of these reasons, Milosz explained, "the man of the East cannot take Americans [or other Westerners] seriously." Because they hadn't undergone such experiences, they couldn't seem to fathom what they meant, and couldn't seem to imagine how they had happened either. "Their resultant lack of imagination," he concluded, "is appalling."1
But Milosz's bitter analysis did not go far enough. Almost sixty years after the poet wrote those words, it is no longer enough to say that we Westerners lack imagination. Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian whose past work has ranged from Habsburg Vienna to Stalinist Kiev, takes the point one step further. In Bloodlands, a brave and original history of mass killing in the twentieth century, he argues that we still lack any real knowledge of what happened in the eastern half of Europe in the twentieth century. And he is right.... Snyder's ambition is to persuade the West - and the rest of the world - to see the war in a broader perspective.... The title of this book, Bloodlands, is not a metaphor. Snyder's "bloodlands," which others have called "borderlands," run from Poznan in the West to Smolensk in the East, encompassing modern Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, and the edge of western Russia (see map on page 10). This is the region that experienced not one but two - and sometimes three - wartime occupations. This is also the region that suffered the most casualties and endured the worst physical destruction."
All that, and north to Finland, too. The Bloodlands are where the great wars started, and in those wars their name was earned. They are what so many fought for, and failed to fight for, and beyond the effect of those choices on us, lies their own story. Of war, and soldiers. Heroes, and villains. And remembrance.
Their stories, too, must be part of our remembrance. Lest we forget.
UPDATE: See also Canada's National Post today, as Father De Souza makes a similar point in "Karol Wojtyla's War."
Americans, a motley gathering of various races and cultures, were bonded together not by blood or religion, not by tradition or territory, not by the calls and traditions of a city, but by a political idea. We are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles, and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world.There are times when that covenant must be bought with blood - our blood and others'; that is sadly the nature of covenants.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a speech yesterday at the Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, sponsored by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). I'm reproducing the full text after the jump, which deals with domestic as well as international Judenhasse, but here's its moral core:
"Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations. And let us not forget that even now, there are those who would choose evil and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked. That is the challenge before us today.... We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism - healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack - is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D's, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.... As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples.... we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn."
The National Post published some excerpts, but read the full text below...
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Nov 8/10:
"Members of the Steering Committee, fellow parliamentarians, Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying how delighted I am to see so many of you from around the world, gathered here in Ottawa for the second annual conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism.
It is a sign, not only of your commitment to our common cause, but also of the momentum established at the London Conference last year. It is, therefore, a great sign of hope.
History teaches us that anti-Semitism is a tenacious and particularly dangerous form of hatred. And recent events are demonstrating that this hatred is now in resurgence throughout the world. That is why the work of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism has never been so important or timely as it is now.
On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I commend you and support you in the great and important work that you are doing.
I would like to thank Minister Jason Kenney, for inviting the ICCA to Ottawa, and for his outstanding record of leadership in combating anti-Semitism.
I would like also to thank my introducer and friend, Scott Reid, Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, and Mario Silva, Vice Chair, for organizing this conference.
And I would like to thank all my colleagues in the Parliament of Canada here today, including Professor Irwin Cotler, for their dedication to your mission.
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, two weeks ago I visited Ukraine for the first time.
In Kiev I laid a wreath at Babi Yar, the site of one of the numerous atrocities of the Holocaust. I was left there with much the same impression as I had in Auschwitz in 2008 - that such horrors defy all comprehension.
At the killing grounds of Babyn Yar, I knew I was standing in a place where evil - evil at its most cruel, obscene, and grotesque - had been unleashed. But while evil of this magnitude may be unfathomable, it is nonetheless a fact.
It is a fact of history. And it is a fact of our nature - that humans can choose to be inhuman. This is the paradox of freedom. That awesome power, that grave responsibility - to choose between good and evil.
Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations. And let us not forget that even now, there are those who would choose evil and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked. That is the challenge before us today.
The horror of the Holocaust is unique, but it is just one chapter in the long and unbroken history of anti-Semitism. Yet, in contemporary debates that influence the fate of the Jewish homeland, unfortunately, there are those who reject the language of good and evil. They say that the situation is not black and white, that we mustn't choose sides.
In response to this resurgence of moral ambivalence on these issues, we must speak clearly. Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition.
It must also be an understanding and an undertaking. An understanding that the same threats exist today. And an undertaking of a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.
Jews today in many parts of the world and many different settings are increasingly subjected to vandalism, threats, slurs, and just plain, old-fashioned lies.
Let me draw your attention to some particularly disturbing trends. Anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack. And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world, such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.
One ruthless champion of that ideology brazenly threatens to 'wipe Israel off the map,' and time and again flouts the obligations that his country has taken under international treaties. I could go on, but I know that you will agree on one point: that this is all too familiar.
We have seen all this before. And we have no excuse to be complacent. In fact we have a duty to take action. And for all of us, that starts at home.
In Canada, we have taken a number of steps to assess and combat anti-Semitism in our own country. You will no doubt hear from my Canadian colleagues about the measures we have taken to date.
I will mention for the time being that, for the first time, we are dealing with Canada's own record of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism. We have created a fund for education about our country's deliberate rejection of Jewish refugees before and during the Second World War.
But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize, that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.
Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.
We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism - healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack - is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D's, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.
And I know, by the way, because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the United Nations, or any other international forum, the easy thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of 'honest broker.' There are, after all, a lot more votes, a lot more, in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But, as long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost. And friends, I say this not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.
Earlier I noted the paradox of freedom. It is freedom that makes us human. Whether it leads to heroism or depravity depends on how we use it.
As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples. We have a solemn duty to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to protect and promote human rights, human dignity, at home and abroad. None of us really knows whether we would choose to do good, in the extreme circumstances of the Righteous. But we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the purpose of our intervention today: our shared determination to confront this terrible hatred. The work we have undertaken, in our own countries and in cooperation with one another, is a sign of hope.
Our work together is a sign of hope, just as the existence and persistence of the Jewish homeland is a sign of hope. And it is here that history serves not to warn but to inspire.
As I said on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Israel appeared as a light, in a world emerging from deep darkness. Against all odds, that light has not been extinguished. It burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations - freedom, democracy and justice.
By working together more closely in the family of civilized nations, we affirm and strengthen those principles. And we declare our faith in humanity's future in the power of good over evil.
Thank you for all you are doing to spread that faith. And thank you for your kind attention.
Thank you very much."
AlwaysOn has an interesting entry from Mark Suster:
"Last night I co-hosted a dinner at Soho House in Los Angeles with some of the most senior people in the media industry with executives from Disney, Fox, Warner, media agencies and many promising tech and media startup CEOs. The topic was "the future of television and the digital living room." With all of the knowledge in the room the person who stole the night wasn't even on a panel. I had called on Chamillionaire from the audience and asked him to provide some views on how artists view social media, why they use it and where it's heading. He was riveting."
Really, his insights apply to anyone in new media.
So, the elections have been held. California looks like an even better place to leave, though it will have its black humor moment when its bankruptcy bailout request runs into a Republican Congress. The House is now solidly Republican, the Senate is back in its standard mushy grey zone of an under 60 seat majority.
Obama, no matter what he says (and really, how many people are listening at this point?), isn't going to change one iota. This will depress both his supporters and his opponents. His Godzilla class, city-destroying level of suck can be expected to continue.
The Republican leadership, no matter what they say, aren't going to change, either. They will still sort of suck, in the same old way. Therein lies the dilemma - and the opportunity - for the people that make up the Tea Party movement...
The Tea Party's principles of a return to constitutional government are, in my opinion, the key to America's future. With respect to this election, and the results it eventually produces, I'd say that the Tea Party has had a minor but noticeable effect.
Which is about what I expected, because for me, its best analogue and promise is something we've seen before: the 1960s anti-war movement. Some are kooks. But some prove to be very savvy. And many have begun a long march through key institutions. Many of their ideas will be carried with them if they survive as a force, but even if this works, it's a long-fuse, big-bang phenomenon.
Their combination of movement fortune (and individual misfortune, for many) is that they are colliding with, and surfing on, an unfolding time and events that are right for them in very broad and deep ways. But there are going to be lots of points where reality and circumstances will test them, reveal some organizations' real agendas, and demand creative thinking about applying their principles effectively.
There will also be many, many teachable moments over the next few years, that illustrate why pinning hopes on individual representatives or parties is a necessary but insufficient exercise. And why the Constitution has to start meaning something more than "a judge's partisan political beliefs," or "whatever we can twist the commerce clause into today."
Sometimes, they'll get both of those things at once. And I think one of those very moments is coming on like a train.
The most interesting part of this election, for me, was the shift among independent voters. This "surprised" endorsement of Rand Paul by the Richmond Register is a really interesting barometer. And the first post-election teachable moments are likely to be provided by the Republican "leadership" of K-streeters. That combination is the opportunity.
Will the Tea Partiers vocally turn their guns on Republicans, who will be working to betray them with unpopular policies like continuing earmarks, and taking steps to protect the systemic architecture of corruption in Washington (as they have been for some time)? Or will the Tea Partiers simply become a party adjunct, captured by it rather than changing it?
The former approach offers deepened credibility with independents, and sharper/ raised media profile and inroads, while raising the pressure on K-street Republicans. That lays the groundwork for future movement victories. The adjunct approach will limit the movement's eventual reach, and represent individual Republicans' enrichment at the expense of party and country.
Which is not to say that broad education and organization efforts by the tea partiers, and engagement in the party process at all levels, should not continue. They must. If the Tea Partiers can maintain open bridges and deepen credibility with independents, while sticking to their long march strategy of steady grassroots organization, building and leveraging technological and organization infrastructure, and getting better at recruiting better candidates, they will eventually create much of the change they seek.
I say "much," knowing that nobody ever gets all, and that anything above "some" is a major accomplishment, even over a time frame of decades.
In many ways, however, what happens in the next 2 years will say a lot about how deep the amorphous "Tea Party's" penetration into America's political landscape - and hence their eventual success - will go. Early times are defining times.
That probably means some very public fights over the next little while. And not just with Democrats.
If, in the long run, principal reductions really, truly were the most profitable way to deal with underwater homeowners, I'd expect that not only would banks figure this out pretty quickly, they'd be figuring out ways to create securitized bundles of principal reductions to sell to gullible German investors. That well can't be completely dry, can it?
So why hasn't this happened? There are a couple of obvious possibilities here. One is that the complicated nature of mortgage securitization simply makes principal reduction too hard. Once the loans have been securitized, tranched, retranched, and re-retranched, there are so many note holders with a legal stake that it's all but impossible to get unanimous agreement to do a principal reduction. Another possibility is that banks are afraid of knock-on effects: once they start reducing principal in a few cases, their entire customer base will find out what's going on and start withholding payment in hopes of getting the same treatment. Reducing principal for 10% of their customers might make sense, but banks might be afraid that there's no way to hold the line there.
The problem faced by this documentary film is common to all such works - which, unlike newspapers etc., must secure permission to quote when it uses news film clips, etc.
"[The series Eyes on the Prize] is no longer available for purchase. It is virtually the only audiovisual purveyor of the history of the civil rights movement in America. What happened was the series was done cheaply and had a terrible fundraising problem. There was barely enough to purchase a minimum five-year rights on the archive-heavy footage. Each episode in the series is fifty percent archival. And most of the archive shots are derived from commercial sources. The five-year licenses expired and the company that made the film also expired. And now we have a situation where we have this series for which there are no rights licenses. Eyes on the Prize cannot be broadcast on any TV venue anywhere, nor can it be sold. Whatever threadbare copies are available in universities around the country are the only ones that will ever exist. It will cost five hundred thousand dollars to re-up all the rights for this film."
Larry Lessig sees this as a larger problem, and I think he's right...
As our sources become more digital, and more multimedia, we're going to encounter this problem more and more often. And right now, the law is a serious hindrance to transmitting history and culture to new generations:
"Whatever your view of it, notice first just how different this future promises to be. In real libraries, in real space, access is not metered at the level of the page (or the image on the page). Access is metered at the level of books (or magazines, or CDs, or DVDs). You get to browse through the whole of the library.... This freedom gave us something real. It gave us the freedom to research, regardless of our wealth; the freedom to read, widely and technically, beyond our means. It was a way to assure that all of our culture was available and reachable - not just that part that happens to be profitable to stock. It is a guarantee that we have the opportunity to learn about our past, even if we lack the will to do so. The architecture of access that we have in real space created an important and valuable balance between the part of culture that is effectively and meaningfully regulated by copyright and the part of culture that is not.... We are about to change that past, radically.... And what this means, or so I fear, is that we are about to transform books into documentary films.... Or more simply still: we are about to make every access to our culture a legally regulated event, rich in its demand for lawyers and licenses, certain to burden even relatively popular work. Or again: we are about to make a catastrophic cultural mistake.
...we cannot rely upon special favors granted by private companies (and quasi-monopoly collecting societies) to define our access to culture, even if the favors are generous, at least at the start. Instead our focus should be on the underlying quandary that gives rise to the need for this elaborate scheme to regulate access to culture.... The solution is a re-crafting of that law to achieve its estimable objective--incentives to authors--without becoming a wholly destructive burden to culture."
Which has enough transmission problems already...
" At the moment, there are thousands of schools around the world that work better than our own. They don't have many things in common. But they do seem to share a surprising aesthetic.
Classrooms in countries with the highest-performing students contain very little tech wizardry, generally speaking. They look, in fact, a lot like American ones--circa 1989 or 1959."
Perhaps this is not entirely coincidence. For myself, I doubt that the classroom environment itself is that alchemy, though that's certainly possible. Rather, I suspect it's the mentality behind the visible arrangement.
Long-time Winds of Change readers will remember colleague/contributor Hossein Derakshan, the father of the Iranian blogosphere, who is noted in the column to your right.
It occurs to me that while I was away, you may not have been updated about this:
"Mr. Derakhshan, 35, is widely known by his online name "Hoder." He was born in Iran, but moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in early adulthood. He is a staunch advocate of free expression in Iran, and became known as the "blogfather" of Iran's on-line community for training pro-democracy advocates to blog and podcast in the late nineties. Later, he apologized for his dissenting views, and emerged as an unlikely supporter of the regime, at one point comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a modern-day Che Guevara.
So when the Iranian government invited him to travel to Iran in 2008, he accepted, thinking he would help his country reach out to the world, according to friends and family. Upon his arrival, however, another branch of the government arrested him.
On Tuesday, he was convicted of insulting Islamic thought and religious figures, managing obscene websites and co-operating with "enemy states" because he visited Israel five years ago...."
He has been sentenced to 19.5 years in prison.
Hoder's attempt to find a locus of collaboration with the Islamic regime dilutes his status as a prisoner of conscience, but does not erase it. Or touch the legacy he leaves. He remains in my thoughts - and I hope, in yours.
Something interesting from GQ, looking into the cybernetic Wild West:
"f you were desperate and hopeless enough to log on to a suicide chat room in recent years, there was a good chance a mysterious woman named Li Dao would find you, befriend you, and gently urge you to take your own life. And, she'd promise, she would join you in that final journey. But then the bodies started adding up, and the promises didn't. Turned out, Li Dao was something even more sinister than anyone thought."
Ah, but if this is the Wild West, there's bound to be a posse... and therein hangs a tale. Fantastic work by Nadia Labi.
"A lot of rethinking is needed" after Democrats take their drubbing, Mr. Baird says, especially since he anticipates "a huge number of retirements" from Democrats unwilling to serve in the minority. He proposes that the House elect an independent speaker who would help drain partisanship from the body. Britain's House of Commons uses such a model.
Democrats, he says, will also have to recognize why they lost touch with voters. "Back in September, we had pollsters and strategists from my party tell members that the mass of people didn't care about the deficit. The mind-boggling lack of reality coming from some of the people who give us so-called advice is stunning."