An Open Letter to Professor Juan Cole

Dear Professor Cole:

I was offended and upset by MEMRI’s threat to sue you for libel. Free speech matters, and the notion that anyone would use the courts to try and intimidate someone for speaking – simply because their views differ – threatens the liberty that I deeply believe in.

I posted my position on my blog.

We’re on opposite sides of many current issues. I disagree – strongly – with many of your views on the Middle East, but on my blog I publicly challenged MEMRI and personally wrote Yigal Carmon, telling him that what he was doing was wrong.
My support was essentially a political act – a statement that while we differed in almost every way, I supported your right to speak – as a political act – without the threat and expense of lawyers vetting every word.

Then I was informed of your similar threat against Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes.

You dismiss it, cavalierly.

“P.S. The Boris and Natasha of Arab-Israeli politics, are saying that I brandished a lawsuit against them for putting up a dossier on me and encouraging people to spy on me for them, in 2002. Damn straight I did. And nor are these two incidents comparable. I did not threaten to sue them for libel, but for personal harassment. I didn’t cyberstalk Yigal Carmon. In fact, I don’t think I ever even mentioned his name until he threatened me. As a private person, he should be left alone. The rhetorical strategy of alleging that if you ever threatened to sue someone on solid grounds, you may not complain about someone else frivolously threatening you with a SLAPP, is typical of these polemicists. Move on. Nothing of interest to see here.”

And I’ll call bullshit.

I’m not deeply familiar with Campus Watch, but your claim is on its face absurd. Like it or not, when we step into the political sphere, we become public actors. Your record (and mine, and Martin Kramer’s) are fair game for those who would use them either on our behalf or against us.

For you to claim that this simple act of assembling a record of your statements and writings is ‘harassment’ cheapens the word into meaninglessness.

You spoke politically; your opponents acted politically in assembling your words and deeds – and in encouraging others to look at them; and you reacted by threatening to use the law to quash their legitimate political actions.

You won’t agree; fine. I doubt that my opinion means more to you than your does to me. But you ought to know that you would have had my support – and the support of others who believe as I do – in this issue, and now you don’t.

I’ll close with a favorite quotation from one of my professors, political theorist John Schaar.

“Finally, if political education is to effective it must grow from a spirit of humility on the part of the teachers, and they must overcome the tendencies toward self-righteousness and self-pity which set the tone of youth and student politics in the 1960’s. The teachers must acknowledge common origins and common burdens with the taught, stressing connection and membership, rather than distance and superiority. Only from these roots can trust and hopeful common action grow.”

Marc Danziger


LA Times editor Michael Kinsley tees off on values in Sunday’s Opinion section. “To Hell With Values,” he titles his column.

Boy, there is just so much wrong with this column that I hardly know where to begin. But since I’ve been dinking around with a piece on values, and he’s offered me a neat entree, I ought to be grateful.

But I’m not. I’m actually depressed, because I do believe that his attitudes are fairly mainstream within the group that shares my political values and goals, and that because of them, we’ll wind up both doing badly (as in getting our asses kicked) and doing bad (as in doing things that don’t meet our real goals).I’m going to cover ground in a blog post that ought to be covered in books by people more knowledgeable than me, so I’ll ask forgiveness in advance for providing a sketch rather than a full picture.

Kinsley opens:

It’s been less than a month since the gods decreed that, due to the election results, American political life henceforth must be all about something called “values.” And I gave it my best. Honest. But I’m sick of talking about values, sick of pretending I have them or care more about them than I really do. Sick of bending and twisting the political causes I do care about to make them qualify as “values.” News stories about values-mongers caught with their values down used to make my day. Now, the tale of Bill O’Reilly and phone sex induces barely a flicker of schadenfreude.

Why does an ideological position become sacrosanct just because it gets labeled as a “value”? There are serious arguments and sincere passions on both sides of the gay marriage debate. For some reason, the views of those who feel that marriage requires a man and a woman are considered to be a “value,” while the views of those who believe that gay relationships deserve the same legal standing as straight ones barely qualifies as an opinion.

To him, there is no difference between the positions that one side holds – and calls ‘values’ and the positions that the other side holds. In fact, they are both values. But what’s happened is that one side – mine, and ostensibly his – has lost the ability to articulate it’s positions in terms of American values. And, unsurprisingly, it finds the American electorate is relatively uninterested in those positions.

To me, the issue isn’t only the positions – the content of our policies, but the ways that we articulate them. And I’m not talking about corny linguistics games like Lakoff’s. I’m talking about the context in which policies are places, and the ways in which we try and adjudicate conflicting principles.

The civil-rights movement won in large part because it tied it’s policy goals – voter rights, school integration – to the broader context of American values which were widely accepted. Liberty. Fairness. Equality. Justice.

Looking at America in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s it was fairly obvious that the gross injustices faced by African-Americans fell outside the boundaries of the ‘norm’ of American values as they had come to exist at that point in history.

Today, the left can’t talk in terms of American values, because to significantly large portions of the left, those values are what must be rejected – wholesale – in order to establish a desirable society.

That’s the deliberate result of a long effort to cut ourselves adrift from our own American history – re-imagined by those who are doing the cutting loose as an endlessly sordid, corrupt, and brutal chain of exploitation, misery, and waste.

I detest those who make the political into the psychological. But somehow I find myself unavoidably drawn to this rejection of our heritage as a political version of the adolescent’s rejection of their parents. They are tragically uncool, embarrassing in almost every way, and – other than enjoying the material benefits of our relation to them – we didn’t possibly see what we might get from them.

Similarly, what could a bunch of ‘dead white men’ tell us about ourselves in our imagined post-modern, pansexual, multi-racial universal-value driven present? What does the past offer us? How do we deal with the comfort, freedom, and prosperity that we have been handed unearned?

I think the play ‘Jumpers’ is an excellent primer on the state of moral discourse in a society struggling with those questions. I earlier quoted a long monologue from it, and want to pull some more snippets out and pass them around.

The hero of the play, George Moore (yes, I know who the real George Moore is), is a professor of moral philosophy at a university in the UK. Archie, the head of his department, is a functionary in the Radical Liberal party, an analytic philosopher, and apparently the lover of George’s wife, Dotty.

Archie is the head of a group of gymnast-philosophers known as the ‘Jumpers,’ one of whom is shot in the opening of the play. But while that’s the plot hinge, it’s not the largest event in the play.

The largest event in the play happens offstage – or rather onstage in a television broadcast from the Moon – where the UK has landed it’s first spaceship.

TV VOICE: – in a tight spot. And so in the crippled space capsule, Captain Scott is on his way back to earth, the first Englishman to reach the moon, but his triumph will be overshadowed by the memory of Astronaut Oates, a tiny receding figure waving forlornly from the featureless wastes of the lunar landscape.

DOTTY changes the channel. The Moon Programme again.)

– which followed the discovery that the damage on impact had severely reduced the thrust of the rockets that are fired for take-off. Millions of viewers saw the astronauts struggling at the foot of the ladder until Oates was knocked to the ground by his commanding officer…Captain Scott has maintained radio silence since pulling up the ladder and closing the hatch with the remark, “I am going up now. I may be gone for some time.”

The neat inversion of the actions of the real Scott Party are funny, but extraordinarily painful if you let yourself dwell on it for a moment.

Commander Scott knocks his shipmate to the ground in the struggle to get onto the ladder, and leaves him behind to die. And the problem of course is, why shouldn’t he have?

Or, better, why in the world would someone sacrifice themselves, as Scott did? Or, to scale the issue to a more recognizable level, why should any of us sacrifice anything – comfort, pleasure, security – for anyone?

Why should anyone sacrifice or die for their country, their community, even their family?

Instead, why not feel as the Jefferson Airplane put it back when: “I’d rather have my country die for me.

And the problem, of course is that membership in our community is conditioned, in come way, by one’s willingness to sacrifice for it.

In ‘Jumpers,’ it turns out that the dead philosopher/jumper was morose, and may have killed himself.

OFFICER CROUCH: Yes sir, it was a terrible thing, his death. Of course his whole life was going through a crisis, as he no doubt told you.


OFFICER CROUCH: It was the astronauts fighting on the Moon that finally turned him, sir. Henry, he said to me, Henry, I am giving philosophical respectability to a new pragmatism in public life, of which there have been many examples both here and on the moon. Duncan, I said, Duncan, don’t let it get you down, have another can of beer. But he kept harking back to the first Captain Oates, out there in the Antarctic wastes, sacrificing his life to give his companions a slim chance of survival…Henry, he said, what made him do it? – out of the tent and into the jaws of the blizzard…

To Kinsley again:

Values have a wonderful quality not shared by other political issues that are more reality-based, such as the war in Iraq or the growing national debt: They can be nearly cost-free. This is often true in the simple economic sense that practical problems cost money whereas spiritual problems, even if real, usually don’t. It’s also true in the political sense that value-based issues usually don’t require much of a trade-off on the part of voters. You can be as pro-family as you want, without concern that you’re giving up valuable anti-family values.

A country whose political dialogue is all about values is either a country with no serious problems or a country hiding from its serious problems. When I want values, I go to Wal-Mart.

As long as Kinsley can only find his values there, he’s lost. I’m not prepared to lose, so in the next post I’ll try and talk about how to specifically tie progressive values to American values.

Democracy and Sitzfleisch

Rachel Belton of the Truman Project (which I blogged approvingly about) emailed me this morning to point me at co-founder Matthew Spence’s op-ed in the Sunday L.A. Times.

I’d already clipped it for blogging, not because it was from the Truman Project, but because Spence made three key points that I hear rarely and agree with completely. I’d like to see these points made over and over louder and louder, until they become truisms. And I’m happy to align myself with someone who makes them.Now let’s go over them:

Americans are developing democracy promotion fatigue. In Iraq, we face the hard truth that democracy is more than the absence of dictatorship. American voters rarely have much tolerance for a policy requiring patience, struggle and disappointment. During the campaign, President Bush downplayed the hard work of democracy promotion, while John Kerry seemed to avoid the phrase altogether. Even the foreign aid community increasingly speaks of supporting “development” and “good government,” as “democracy” becomes a four-letter word.


These victories of democracy do not attract the same attention as last Sunday’s election results. But democracy does not happen only on election day; it is based on broader change that includes a free press, civil society and rule of law.

and, finally

Americans are drawn to the idea that democracy is made with a dictator’s downfall or a free election four years later. But the way we imagine democracy as a series of Kodak moments must give way to the reality that democracy promotion is about slow and steady progress, with inevitable setbacks and struggles along the way.

What we are trying to do in the world is damn difficult, as all important things are. Sadly, killing people is easy. Freeing them is hard, because first and foremost we must create the conditions under which they can free themselves.

My biggest fear throughout this Iraq cycle is that we would not have the bottle for it, as the British say. That we would grow impatient, frustrated, repelled by the losses and damage to our own people and those we would hope to free.

It’s equally true in the Ukraine and elsewhere. We are settling in for a long project. It will occupy us and to some extent, our children. It’s worth it, though, because while freedom isn’t the natural condition of humanity – history is too full of counterexamples to believe that – it is the future of humanity.

Cooking, Food, and Eating

I don’t get to cook enough (or, really, do enough that involves actually doing and making things as opposed to talking about doing and making things), and so Thanksgiving is always a treat for me since it’s so food-centered.

I like making new stuff, but am kind of pinned in that a) it’s always about turkey; b) my family will kill me, cook me and eat me if I don’t make my usual stuffing; and c) they will also serve me on a platter, John-the-Baptist style if I don’t make my apricot/sweet potato casserole.

They’re a tough, but devoted audience.

So I thought I’d share the recipes here, after some brief comments on cooking.I’m a beginner machinist, a pretty good carpenter, a fair mechanic on everything non-electrical, and very few things give me the satisfaction that cooking does. Baking, but it’s really a subclass of cooking.

My first college roommate and I lived in a small apartment and realized that neither of us could do more than make soup, so we set out to learn to cook, as all good science students do, by buying Mastering The Art of French Cooking, The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, and Joy of Cooking, and working our way through them, hitting the high points.

We were in front of the butcher’s counter at Shopper’s Corner, a market in Santa Cruz, arguing over which cut of meat to buy when a kindly elderly lady interrupted us to tell us how refreshing it was to see two young people who liked to cook. He turned to her and genteelly replied: “Ma’am, we like to eat.” And we did.

The satisfaction of creating a meal from a mess of stuff has never left me, and the challenge of tasting food in your imagination and then getting it onto a plate is always rewarding.

Now I subscribe to “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine, which I find to be hands-down, no-holds-barred the best resource for people who like to really cook – as opposed to own expensive kitchenware.

The turkey recipe – which was new this year – follows and was liberally modified from a base recipe I found in the November 03 issue.

Spice-Rubbed Turkey

This recipe is based on a 18 – 20 pound turkey, which will serve 12 and leave enough to make excellent turkey chili.

The basic point is to a) brine the turkey; b) rub the outside and inside with spices and put them under the skin of the breast and drumsticks; and c) cook it without stuffing.

Brining the turkey.

Brining involved soaking the turkey in salted, spiced water. In this case, we also used this to defrost the bird, which we expected to be fresh but was slightly frozen.

Our turkey came from Bristol Farms in a big cardboard box, so we just lined the box with trashbags. We mixed eight cups of water with 1.5 cups of salt and about 5 tablespoons of garlic powder (mix it well, it’s hard to get dissolved).

Put the turkey in, and put the cool water over it until the while bird is covered. In this case, we had to pull it out regularly to see if it was thawed enough to get the heart/liver out of the neck cavity and the neck out of the main cavity. Overall, we left it in for the length of Dark City plus about an hour of reading time.

Spicing the turkey.

Take it out of the brine and rinse it off in the sink. Pat the inside and outside with paper towels, and put it – loosely covered – in the fridge for about half an hour while you prepare the spices.

Spice Rub, part I

3 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
2.5 Tbsp ground allspice
4 Tbsp ground mustard
4 Tbsp rosemary

In a small skillet, over medium heat, toast the spices until they just start to smoke – pay attention, because the line between smoking and burning is really, really small (as I have discovered). Burnt spices taste awful. Dump them into a bowl – the pan will be hot enough to keep cooking them.

Add in the bowl:

6 Tbsp paprika
4 Tbsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp cayenne
1 Tbsp white pepper
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Grind it in a pestle (or just crush in a bowl it with a metal spoon).

Pull the turkey out of the fridge, and get a paring knife and a long-handled spoon.

Make sure the knife is sharp (I use a Spyderco sharpening kit). At the bottom of the ribcage (where the sternum is) and cut the skin loose from the flesh. Take the long-handled spoon, bowl facing down, and break the skin loose. Then repeat this from the neck side at the thick part of the breasts. And from the back of the thighs.

Take a spoonful of the spice mixture, and put it under the skin at each of these places – smear it around with the spoon quite a bit.

Then rub a tablespoonful inside each of the neck and main cavities.

Then run the spices all over the outside of the bird – don’t do the back yet.

Put another tablespoon inside the main cavity, then put the bird on a rack in a broiling dish in the fridge. Cover it loosely with foil, and go to bed.

Cooking the Turkey

Now it’s time to cook it; it will take about 4 hours plus or minus.

You’ll need to have or make a V-rack. I made one by bending a flat rack over the edge of the counter and putting aluminum foil rolls under each side.

Close the cavities with pins and cotton twine; then tie the drumsticks together, and pull the wings behind the back and tie them together as well.

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.

Put the bird on the V-rack breast side down.

I sprinkle it with rosemary and roast garlic powder at this point.

Cook for 45 minutes.

Pull it out, put it on the counter, and get two hot mitts and two bigs wads of paper towels. It helps to have a spotter for this one…

Pick the bird up and spin it 90 degrees so it is laying on one side.

Once again, sprinkle with rosemary and roast garlic powder.

Back into the oven for 15 minutes.

Pull it out, put it on the counter, and here we go again…

Pick the bird up and spin it 180 degrees so it is laying on the other side.

Once again, sprinkle with rosemary and roast garlic powder.

Back into the oven for 15 minutes.

Pull it out, spin it so that the breast side is up.

I tend to baste a little here…I take about 1/4 cup of rum and add it to the pot liquor, and then baste it.

Sprinkle the breast and drumsticks with rosemary and roast garlic.

Lower the temperature to 350.

Cook it here the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh is 170 – 175 then give it another 20 – 40 minutes. Rule of thumb – it will take about 3 hours from this point.

Remove it from the oven, and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving it.

It was yummy…

Italian Sausage Stuffing

Because the turkey was supposed to be cooked without stuffing, and because the turkey took up the whole damn oven, I had to cook the stuffing on the range.

This was risky, as my family is attached to the stuffing…

24 oz of cornbread stuffing (I just use Mrs. Cubbisons).
2.5 lb Italian sausage (I use turkey sausage, half hot and half sweet)
2 cups of coarsely chopped onions
8 oz pitted dates
1.5 cups pecans
1 apple
8 cloves of garlic, sliced and sauteed in 3 Tbsp olive oil
1 stick of salted butter
1 tsp salt
2.5 cups of chicken stock
5. – 1.5 cups of water

Slice the sausage casings lengthwise and remove the sausage from the casings.

Saute the sausage until well-done, and reserve in the pan – you want to keep the drippings.

Heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil and add the chopped onion. Cook until almost translucent, scrape them into a big bowl.

In a dry pan, toast the pecans until they start to brown, then add them to the bowl.

Heat the leftover olive oil, and saute the sliced garlic until slightly browned, add the garlic and oil to the pan with the sausage in it.

Slice the apple into chunks about 1/2″ on a side, and VERY lightly saute them in butter; add them to the onions in the bowl.

Add the stuffing mix to the bowl, and mix thoroughly.

Slice the dates into thirds, and add to the bowl.

Put the chicken stock into a large stockpot and bring to a simmer.

Add the butter and when it’s melted, add the sausage, garlic, and drippings. When this is mixed, add the stuffing mix.

Add water while stirring/tossing the mixture until the texture is right – it should be slightly crumbly and not sticky.

Take it off the heat and let it rest for fifteen minutes.

Apricot/Sweet Potato casserole

4.5 lbs sweet potatoes
24oz of apricot preserves
2 cups of Grand Marnier
1 cup of rum

Boil 4.5 lbs of sweet potatoes for about 30 – 40 minutes, until a fork will penetrate about an inch or so into them. Then pour the water out and let them cool. You can actually do this the night before.

Take the cooled sweet potatoes and peel them.

The potatoes should be almost done – with light areas inside them.

Melt a stick of butter in a saucepan.

Add about 1/3 of the apricot preserves.

Add the Grand Marnier and rum, bring to a boil. If you cook with good enough rum, you can sip it here…

Gradually add the balance of the preserves, stirring like a madman. Once everything is dissolved, turn the heat off, and move the pan to a cool burner.

Take the peeled sweet potatoes, and then slice them into 1/4″ slices, and lay them into an 8″ x 14″ baking dish, sprayed with nonstick. Place a layer, drizzle apricot glaze on it, add a layer, drizzle, add a layer, etc. until you run out of sweet potatoes or room in the pan.

Put it in the oven at 350 for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Where’s The Gratitude? Hypocrisy

Sadly, in spite of my support for Juan Cole’s right to blog without an attorney at his side, he decided to ignore my post in his roundup of blogger support.

Possibly it might have had something to do with my critical remarks about him; as TalkLeft has shown us, my Left – the one that believed in free speech – isn’t so much a part of the left any more.

UPDATE: Click through for an explanation of my withdrawal of support for Prof. ColeWow, was I off base in supporting Juan Cole.

I just got an email from RG pointing me to Martin Kramer’s website, where he reproduces a SLAPP threat by Professor Cole against Kramer and Daniel Pipes.

The money graf:

If you do not immediately remove my name from your monitoring Web site, cease maintaining a “dossier” on me, and cease and desist from calling upon others to spy on me and repudiate your earlier calls to do so, I reserve the right to pursue all legal remedies, criminal and civil.


Juan Cole
Department of History

Go read the whole thing.

Now, I’ll email Professor Cole and ask him for an explanation of why what’s sauce for the goose apparently isn’t – in his cuisine – for the gander.

But until I do I’ll completely withdraw my support of his position. If you’re going to be a ‘playa’ and threaten to lawyer up in response to political criticism, you don’t get to go publicly wrap yourself the First Amendment when someone does it to you (as opposed to wrapping oneself in it in court, which you obviously do get to do).

I’ll reproduce my email to Professor Cole tomorrow morning.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Just a word to everyone out there in the blogosphere: co-bloggers here at WoC, writers on other blogs, readers, commenters and all. I am most of all thankful for the well-being my family this Thanksgiving, as I imagine we all are.

But I’m also thankful for this community, and for what it means for our future together and our children’s future.

Don’t eat too much, don’t drink and drive, don’t splash in puddles, wear your galoshes, and today of all days – especially – find something nice to say about everyone. Like it or not, we’re all in this together.

The Cure For Hurtful Speech Is Not The Courts

There have been three incidents that I know of where bloggers have been threatened with libel litigation for what were essentially political speech.

Luskin v Atrios

Niewert vs. Wizbang (in this case, Niewert just advocated libel suits against Wizbang)

And now, we can add another – MEMRI vs Juan Cole

I publicly oppose all three.Cole doesn’t make it easy on me; his post recounting the threat is headlined “Intimidation by Israeli-Linked Organization Aimed at US Academic.” Of course the fact that it’s an Israeli-linked organization makes the crime far, far worse – in Prof. Cole’s eyes.

But as far as I am from supporting Cole – and I’m really, really far from supporting him (I have a post in the blog queue about despicable Columbia professor Joseph Massad and Cole’s support of him) – I can’t remain silent when someone, even someone I admire like MEMRI, uses the heavy hand of the law to attempt to quash what is essentially political speech.

I think Prof. Cole is flat wrong about virtually everything he says about MEMRI. I think that his responses to MEMRI’s challenges are laughable. Ali, of Iraq the Model has recently taken him to school on Iraqi history.

But in lawyering up and trying to intimidate Cole into silence (as opposed to shaming him with facts, which would be a good thing) MEMRI has gone too far.

I’ll be emailing a copy of this post to Yigal Carmon at MEMRI, and I’d encourage my readers to let him know what you think as well.

Thinking About The Unthinkable

Smash asks us to think about the unthinkable (if you haven’t read the book – ‘Thinking About the Unthinkable‘ by Herman Kahn, you damn well should).

Smash lays out a reasonable set of alternatives as strategies for response.

Personally, I think the responses would be harder to bring into focus.He points out that we can usually ‘fingerprint’ the fissile elements of a weapon; the problem of course is that we won’t have matching fingerprints for one that was produced clandestinely and never tested; and just because we know the provenance of a weapon doesn’t mean it wasn’t stolen from a badly guarded Pakistani or Russian storage shed.

I wrote on much the same thing a while ago, and said it might look like this:

There is some evidence that one of the weapons was a Russian tactical nuke, in a batch that was thought to have been in Georgia, and that Chechen militants were suspected of having access to it; they suddenly have a national treasury that is $100,000,000 richer, and it looks like some of the funds came from hawalas, the Middle Eastern ‘cash’ banking community.

One of the weapons appears to have been homemade, and we can’t figure out where the other one came from.

The pressure is on the president to do something.

The U.N. issues statements deploring the ‘tragedy’ and supporting direct action against the perpetrators, as soon and sufficient evidence is found to identify who they were.

We find that some of the funds which might have paid for one of the weapons might have been paid by a Jordanian oil trader who is thought to sometimes act as a front for the Iraqi government. We’ve turned a blind eye to him in the past, because the funds that went back were partially used for humanitarian purposes, and because he gave some of our intelligence assets entrée to the Iraqi underground.

Hussein goes on CNN and Al-Jazeera, and states that a conspiracy among his senior officers was responsible for ‘this humanitarian tragedy’ and publicly executes them and their families on live television.

He offers to open the country to inspections by a joint French/Swiss/German inspection team, and to pay $1,000,000,000 in reparations to the U.S. once the oil embargo is lifted.

The UK offers troops to assist with ‘humanitarian aid’ in the U.S.

There are fistfights in the Capitol, as the question of how to respond to this splits the House and Senate.

Sorting out the responsible parties – particularly if the responsible parties are a trans-state group operating with the tacit – but not explicit – support of state actors is going to be a nightmare.

I have to question how easily we’ll be able to step onto Smash’s chain of escalating responses; and that makes the prospect of this event even less thinkable.

Build Freedom, One Blog At A Time

Spirit of America is launching a new service that will provide easy-to-use blogging tools translated into Arabic, along with free hosting. It’s the first in a series of projects they say they want to do to open the doors to democracy in Iraq and elsewhere, by allowing average men and women to be heard.

It’s a great project, and we’re proud to be a part of a friendly competition among blogs to raise the funds to support it.

So click here to donate, or if you have a blog of your own, click here to join our team.

Tim Oren and I have both talked a lot about the impacts of citizen’s media. Let’s promote some citizen’s media that builds freedom by letting Iraqis have their own voices.