The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why isn't this mainstream thought?

Michael Tomasky over at TAPPED laments that he and Pat Buchanan are on the same page with responding to the Hamas victory. Understandable - Pat is probably the most odious national political figure we have (the guys who spring to mind as worse - Rove, Grover, Pat & Jerry - are really just operatives or clerics, rather than secular politicians). But one thing respectable about Pat is that he's not a GOPbot: he's got opinions, beliefs, and ideologies that are, for the most part, horribly reactionary, but he pretty much really means them, and it's possible for him to come to a correct conclusion that's outside the mainstream.

Anyway, the actual point here is that this is pretty much exactly the right policy:
[O]bjectionable as this may sound, it’s really a bad idea for the United States to cut off its aid to Hamas. If a big chunk of the 58,000 security guards and about 80,000 other Palestinian Authority employees lose their work, whom are these people going to hate, exactly? It’s pretty obvious. [...] [Buchanan's] idea of putting Hamas on probation instead -- continuing the aid while establishing benchmarks for them not to engage in violence and to improve the lives of their people -- is actually rather sensible and pragmatic.
David Sucher has a fresh post up today (ah, and getting the link, I see he's already amended it with another para to clarify) talking about the latent anti-semitism that he sees evincing itself in lefty anti-Israel rhetoric (comments are wisely off). Now, I hear about this a lot from center-left types, and occasionally even leftists, but I've basically never seen it. Pittsburgh isn't exactly a hotbed of radical activism, but what there is I'm pretty aware of, and yet I never see anything approaching the line, much less crossing it. Not denying it exists, but I don't know what the deal is - is there so much sensitivity to anti-Semitism that every example of it is magnified? But this is one of the results of the reaction against supposed lefty anti-Semitism - arguably the only rational response to the Hamas situation is off the table because it seems insufficiently supportive of Israel, and too many people are afraid of seeming that way.

PS - Since so much of this post is peripheral to what is supposed to be its point, let me make that argument. Hamas is odious. Its raison d'etre is unconscionable. But it is the duly elected government of Palestine, through elections we encouraged. Ignoring it won't make it go away. So we need to respond in some way. The knee-jerk response is to declare Hamas unclean, and withdraw completely, with actual, awful, predictable on-the-ground bad results for Israelis and Palestinians, as Tomasky indicates above. Clearly, "partnership" with Hamas is unacceptable as well. But we were able to negotiate and even trade with the USSR for most of the Cold War, and we can figure out a way to engage Hamas without promoting them as well. The compromise outlined above is at least a starting point. Does anyone have the guts to get to that starting point?

Friday Random Ten

I've been a bit bored with my own music lately, so I've spared you all. But I've been adding a bit, and I think this is a decent selection:

Any Road - George Harrison, Brainwashed
Casino (Solid State Remix) - Tommi Eckart, Run Lola Run
English Boy - Pete Townshend, Psychoderelict
Sophisticated Lady - Ben Webster, Classic Jazz - Jazz Masters 1
Treachery - Kirsty MacColl, tropical brainstorm
Not Ralitsa Vassileva - Ian Anderson, Rupi's Dance
You & I (Single Edit) - Rick James, Serious Grooves From The Masters Of Soul
I'm A Man - Bo Diddley
Long Distance Drunk - Modest Mouse, The Lonesome Crowded West
One People, One Struggle - Anti-Flag, The Terror State

I need more Modest Mouse (the band that always makes my wife say, "Who is this?"), but I've no idea which album to get next.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Greener Super Bowls

Wow. Who knew? Here's a really interesting (to green geeks) video interview with the NFL guy in charge of greening the Super Bowl. Turns out they've been doing this, pretty much under the radar, for 14 years. What's most impressive is how much they're getting right - working within communities to ensure that initiatives are ongoing, not merely one shot, "checkbook" environmentalism. Looking at small-scale issues, like recycling, as well as big-picture ones, like net-zero carbon emissions.

You know, back when I was graduating high school, a lot of the press and newsweeklies were predicting that the 90s would be the Green Decade. In some ways, they were completely wrong - the rise of SUVs and ever-accelerating sprawl were in many ways the defining environmental characteristics of the decade, and at the end of it, a guy who ran on ANWR came within a few thousand votes of winning the presidency.

But I think that the real story is highlighted by this video. I mean, is there a more backwards, culturally-Republican sport than football (yes, OK, NASCAR)? And here they are, not just paying lip service to environmentalism (at one point, the guy being interviewed recounts being asked whether or not this is just PR, and his response is, "if this is PR, why haven't you heard of it before?"), but actually internalizing the green ethos.

I think this is much more common than people realize. In some ways, it mirrors earlier progressive struggles. The idealistic 60s are often held up to ridicule, but of course its main efforts have borne fruit - the nation is massively more advanced in civil and sexual rights than it was. And the backlash is just that - backlash against an overwhleming tide. I'm not trying to be triumphalist - the struggle for all these things is ongoing, but I think the tendency is for people not to look at the big picture, and the successes. All of these battles are played now on our turf - Bush has to pretend to be an environmentalist; he speaks in anti-gay code, but wouldn't dare say the things many of his supporters believe; he could never claim that a woman's place is in the home, or that minorities are inherently equal.

So, we haven't won yet - but let's keep on winning.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

PA Update

Well, anarchitect posts it, and NPR broadcasts it.

I wonder how many of these guys will be viable? It's clear that a fair number are legitimate candidates, people already in public service who are leveraging this org for their first big shot. But it's also clear that a significant number are random joes, and, 16 months after the source of outrage, I'm not sure the outrage will be sufficient to seat Random Joe against August Incumbent. Of course, how many state legislators are actually august?