Wednesday, January 07, 2004

erCrunch, again.

1:51:09 PM    comment []

Instapundit's comment on a mass grave of Shiites killed by the Iraqi military in the Gulf War-era uprising: "It's good that they found it. It's bad that it's there." Um, yes -- but isn't it worth noting the context in which it got there?

From "the Shiites took up arms in anticipation of support from the United States. The rebellion was brutally crushed by the Iraqi military when the United States failed to support the uprising."

1:48:58 PM    comment []

Wow -- people are arguing over the right to call themselves "liberals."

That's a good sign, I think, after years of running from the label.

Jeff Jarvis fumes that nobody has the right to define the word, which he rightly says should be highly inclusive. Yet for the last generation in American politics, "liberal" has been defined by conservatives, and they've made it a dirty word, synonymous with "incompetent big government that just keeps taking your money and giving it to the blacks."

It's time for liberals to reclaim the word "liberal." To say, yes, there are places and times that government plays a constructive role in society -- as Bush obviously believes, but doesn't want to pay for.

Democrats have all kinds of good issues for 2004 and beyond -- Americans want a social safety net, education and healthcare programs, environmental policy not set by coal mining companies, etc -- and there are big questions about how we're going to afford the programs we want in years to come under the Bush economic regime. Corporations have too much power (says this business journalist and happy capitalist). We need less government in the places many conservatives want more, on matters of individual choice and rights.

Per Jarvis, I agree that opposition to the war in Iraq should not be the centerpiece of the Democratic platform, or of liberal self-definition. For one thing, we're in hip deep and we can't back out now without making things worse (and from a practical viewpoint, I think things will continue to get better). It's fine to say that you opposed the war last spring -- I did -- but what happens next is the real question. And there are liberal reasons for being in Iraq, even if the Bush adminstration had to retrofit its mission statement to include them.

Of course there are legitimate questions about Bush's rush to war, screwups like disbanding the Iraqi army and other adminstrative problems, and issues like the outing of Valerie Plame, that deserve scrutiny. I think conservatives and pro-war liberals would enhance their own credibility by addressing those things seriously.

Whether or not Howard Dean can move past his anti-war base to become a real contender for the White House, he's already done good work in reclaiming the word "liberal" by stating that he's from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. He's proud to be a liberal, even though his moderate stance on many issues doesn't fit into some definitions of the word.

But Dean's good work could be undone. Now he needs to focus on the liberal principles that would make him a good president -- if his liberalism is limited to opposing the war and the perception grows that he's an effete Vermonter, he's toast. Dean seems to get this -- that was the genesis of his poorly-worded overture to pick-up driving southerners, many of whom, presumably, support the war.

Liberals should stand up and say what they believe in, instead of letting conservatives -- or self-appointed arbiters of liberal orthodoxy -- define their terms.

12:08:21 PM    comment []

Basic Blogging: Writing onto the Web

A two-part course, part of the UNC-Greensboro continuing education program. Taught by: me.

UNC-G science building, room 233, March 25 & April 1, 7-8:30 pm

$49 (that goes to UNC-G -- I forgot to ask if I get paid for this).

Bring your laptop -- my plan is to create weblogs in the first half hour, then start talking about what to do with them.

8:39:28 AM    comment []