CULTIVATING LIBERALISM
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Candide’s Latest: Friday, October 6, 2006
Lebanon, Still

They're still burning

Lebanon’s continuing war: Isn’t it a war crime to use cluster bombs? Apparently not when Israel does. “Since the war with Israel ended in August, nearly three people have been wounded or killed each day by cluster bombs Israel dropped in the waning days of the fighting, and officials now say it will take more than a year to clear the region of them,” The Times/Herald Tribune report. “UN officials estimate that southern Lebanon is littered with 1 million unexploded bomblets, far outnumbering the 650,000 people living in the region. They are stuck in the branches of olive trees and the broad leaves of banana trees. They are on rooftops, mixed in with rubble, littered across fields, farms, driveways, roads and outside schools. As of Sept. 28, the last date available, officials here said that cluster bombs had severely injured 109 people and killed 18 others.” The article specifies, regarding the “legality” of cluster bombs: “Cluster bombs are legal if aimed at military targets and very effective, military experts say.” Keep in mind that most of those cluster bombs were showered on Lebanon in the waning days of the war, when Israel knew a cease-fire was imminent. Maybe the bombs just hadn’t arrived. Remember, Israelhad placed a rush-order for the ordnance, and the United States quickly obliged. Add cynicism to lay-away murder and you get Lebanon’s plight today, compliments of Israel.

 

Massacring American Journalism, Cont'd

This is what happens when you stand your ground for quality journalism’s sake these days. You get fired. The Los Angeles Times is owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Company. The Tribune Company has replaced Thomson as the newspaper world’s gulag. You’re in the paper’s properties (which include, for now anyway, the Orlando Sentinel, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, or what’s left of it, the Hartford Courant and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). Tribune’s philosophy: Slash, burn, recreate Operation Barbarossa if need be, but just deliver for shareholders. It hasn’t exactly paid off. After flirting with the $50 mark at the beginning of 2004, the company’s share price has been in a steep dive since, dipping below $30 earlier this year and climbing a bit back up in the last few weeks, probably on the news that Tribune is willing to do some more slashing. Case in point: Company HQ summoned Los Angeles Times publisher Jeffrey Johnson to Chicago and told him to get busy killing off more positions. It’s a refrain Johnson has heard (and enacted) a few times before. This time he refused. He went back to Los Angeles a hero in his newsroom, at least briefly. On Thursday, Tribune fired him. The Los Angeles Times didn’t mince words: “Times Publisher Johnson Forced Out.” And this from the New York Times: “Mr. [Dean] Baquet [the LATimes’ editor and former New York Times star editor] and Mr. Johnson last month said publicly in the pages of The Los Angeles their newspaper that they would not draw up a budget plan for cuts that Tribune, based in Chicago, had ordered. They included increasing the paper’s profits by 7 percent, or about $17 million.” Baquet is staying at the Times for now, an odd choice.

 

Even California is swallowing backward on this one: “G ays and lesbians have no constitutional right to marry in California, a right that can be granted only by state lawmakers or voters, a state appeals court ruled today,” the SFChronicle reports. “The 2-1 decision, which reversed a San Francisco Superior Court judge's ruling, was a defeat for gay-rights advocates, who have looked to California courts to follow the lead of a 2003 ruling by Massachusetts' high court legalizing same-sex marriage in that state. The California Supreme Court is expected to have the final word in the case sometime next year. In today's ruling, the Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the boundaries of marriage are up to the Legislature, which passed a law in 1977 defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. State voters reaffirmed that decision in a 2000 initiative that denied recognition to same-sex marriages in other states.

Michael Kinsley takes on Bill O’Reilly’s self-aggrandizing mythology: “Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News talk show host, is in the capital for the Bush inauguration. He is invited to a fancy dinner party. Reluctantly, he accepts, although it is not his kind of thing. According to Newsweek, "O'Reilly said he could feel the socialites and bigwigs 'measuring' him. 'They're saying, "What's he doing here?" One couple even got up to leave,' O'Reilly later recalled." Two people left a Washington dinner party rather than share a table with a prole like Bill O'Reilly? Although I wasn't there, I state baldly: It never happened. That kind of snobbery barely exists in America. […] Yet O'Reilly, like many other people, clings to the fantasy that he is a stiff among the swells. He plays this chord repeatedly in the book [The O’Reilly Factor], a potpourri of anecdotes and opinions about life in general and his in particular. […]Why fake a humble background? Partly for business reasons: Joe Sixpack versus the elitists is a good posture for any talk show host, especially one on Fox. Partly out of vanity: It makes the climb to your current perch more impressive. Partly for political reasons: Under our system, even conservatives need some plausible theory to qualify for victim status, from which all blessings flow. But mainly out of sheer snobbery.” See the full piece in Slate…

 

Featured Comment
We're All Eugene Debs Now

[Eileen Brand wrote the following piece as a comment in the Woodward At War comment thread, in reaction to a wonderful debate between Van and Jim over the soul and sourness of the Democratic Party. Since I can't feature the whole debate, here's Eileen's worthy closure.pt]

How is it that, with all this eloquent prognostication of the failure of the moribund Democrats, the alternatives are given such short shrift? Back in 1920, with World War going on, Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs got a million votes for President, while trapped in his jail cell for opposing the war. Those million votes came from a U.S. population of about 105 million vs. an estimated 300 million today. Of the 105 million population in 1918, women could not vote and blacks could not vote. [Just under 27 million voters cast ballots.] And yet Eugene Debs got a million votes.

Back in 2000, running on the Green Party ticket, Ralph Nader drew capacity crowds in large auditoriums in Portland, L.A., Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, New York, and more. In almost all those cities, enthusiastic Nader supporters paid TEN BUCKS apiece to attend. The one exception was Madison Square Garden in New York, where folks paid Twenty bucks to attend the Nader rally in the GARDEN. Most of the time Bush and Gore were talking to smaller crowds who didn’t pay a nickel to hear them.

In the circumstances, the breadth and strength of the Nader support was nothing short of fantastic. But how could people know about it? Television didn’t film the meetings and newspapers didn’t report them. The vaunted NEW YORK TIMES carried nothing about Nader’s mighty meeting on Sunday at Madison Square Garden until Tuesday, and it was a minimal story at that. It is the Democrats’ shame (one crime among many) that they blamed Nader for their loss in 2000 and created the stupid myth that lives today. It was their miserable program and lousy campaign that cost them that election. As well as some Republican diddling with the votes. And what about their impotence in 2004? Surely a major party could be depended on to get an honest count in a national election, if they really cared and used the weapons of power at their disposal. But enough history.

It’s pretty clear now that Republicans and Democrats alike are the weapons of monopoly capitalism. Dog-eat-dog free enterprise was cruel enough, but the monopoly of capitalism and statism that rules most of the world today is so inhuman, so anti-people that it’s time to work on a pro-human social and economic system.

These are the times that try honest patriots’ souls.

We can’t depend on the press to report progressives’ victories; the time has come when every block must be walked and every household must be personally contacted to elect honest, independent, brave Americans to public office on a program that allows and encourages the average Joe and Jane to live at peace in a democratic society with a fair and just economic system. It sounds like a lot of hard work, but it beats waiting for the weapons of mass extermination to fall all over the world.

 

 

Books@Google

Jason Epstein in a review essay covering a mess of books on Googlemania: "The self-proclaimed goal of Google's idealistic founders is to practice virtue, which is reflected in the company's unofficial motto, "don't be evil." The confrontation of founders who wish to do only good with the complex reality of their astonishing commercial achievement is an issue of biblical scope which calls to mind the expulsion, naked and trembling, of our ancestral parents from prelapsarian Eden into a world where choice is obligatory and error inevitable, a blessing and a burden upon themselves and what Milton called, with mixed feelings, their hapless seed. Google's innocence did not survive its well-known encounter with the government of China, which demanded in January that Google's search and news services delete certain politically offensive sites, to which Google agreed." See the full essay at the New York Review of Books...

  • What happens when Friendship gets between Joseph Epstein and William F. Buckley Jr.? Find out here...
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