Thanksgiving Morning 2008

It’s early Thanksgiving morning, and everyone else is asleep. I’ve washed the pots and pans from the dishes we prepped last night, and before the holiday madhouse begins, I thought I’d take a moment to express my public thanks – as opposed to the private ones I’ll be making at supper later today.

I am first and foremost thankful to the great nation that I’m a part of; humanity’s hopes given material shape. No one will kick in my door today, no matter what I write here, and I do not need to censor what I say or think because I fear what will happen if I do not. Rent Perseopolis sometime soon, and appreciate what we have achieved here.

I am thankful that we all see what we have achieved as a nation is imperfect and flawed, because that means that all of us follow the standards of being uncertain in our rightness and so willing to listen and learn. And because it gives all of us purpose in contributing however we can to making things better.

I am thankful for everyone who has struggled and suffered to give me and mine what we all enjoy today. From the earliest immigrants to the Founders to the poor soldiers of the Revolution and every soldier and worker and shopkeeper and engineer and lawyer – and yes, even every politician. We live on the shoulders of giants, and we all have a patrimony that we should be grateful for and thinking hard how we can improve.

I am thankful today for the women and men who endure hardship in my name; who wear the colors of my country and who have chosen to stand between my family and those who would harm them. Their mistakes are mine – because they are grounded in the political leaders I and others like me have chosen – and their honor is their own.

I am impossibly grateful for the explosion of ideas – good, bad, and insane – that have sprouted as all of us have been given the ability to speak out using tools like this blog. I have thought more, learned more, been more outraged, and seen my fellow humans better in the last six years of my life than in the other 49.

And I’m thankful for this place, where I’ve been able to think out loud, been challenged, corrected, changed my mind and stood firm and where I’ve forged my deepest friendships. I have learned so much here over the last few years, and that is the greatest gift of all to me – to refresh my ability to learn, to refresh my beginner’s mind.

Finally, and personally, I will thank my family – because they are my family and I’m so grateful to them for loving and accepting me – and because for all the crazy fits and starts, we have done three things very right – my son Eric who is far away, and his brothers Luc and Isaac who are asleep close at hand – who have grown into such wonderful young men and boys that I cannot find words enough to express how proud I am of them. So I’m thankful for Tenacious G, who married into this complex, crazy mess and to the boy’s two biological moms, who joined me in deciding that we were all parents first.

OK, enough of this – I’ve got stuffing to finish! Don’t forget to scroll down and donate to Project Valour-IT and give some wounded soldiers something to be thankful for today.

Project Valour-IT

Update 2: It’s almost Thanksgiving and this is about to wrap up – if I can ask you to reach and consider donating if you haven’t – or consider on the the eBay auctions that are being held to benefit Valour-IT – everything you spend will go to helping wounded soldiers.

Update: We need more donors!! Donate, comment, and recognize that you’re doing a Really Good Thing.

Even before I had a soldier of my own, I’ve been a big supporter of Soldier’s Angels, the peer-to-peer organization that allows each of us to support the men and women of our military.

They are the kind of organization that is a no-brainer to get behind, regardless of your politics – because it’s about providing support to the soldiers and their families.

Right now, they are running a fundraiser for Project Valour-IT, which provides speech-controlled laptops to wounded soldiers. I was at an event where Chuck Z talked about what it meant to him, as a wounded and recovering solder – to suddenly be able to send and get email, to surf the web, to write letters. What it meant to no longer be helpless in one area of his life and to begin the long walk to independence and recovery of himself. When you listen to stories like that, it’s suddenly easy to understand why this is important.

Every day, from now to Thanksgiving, I’ll bump this post…when we’ve raised over $2,500 from this blog, I’ll stop.

Changing Winds

Winds of Change mission statement 2.0:

What challenges will face the U.S., the West, the rest of the world that aren’t being discussed everywhere every day?

What opportunities exist – to these challenges or the widely discussed ones – that should be pursued?

What isn’t being talked about in the chattering class that should be? Winds should be a place where questions that are slightly off-center can be asked, and where answers that aren’t obvious should be proposed.

For the next four years, we’re going to hear endless partisan chatter from people who care a lot about it in publications and on sites where that is the focus. Winds isn’t one of those sites, and “impeaching Obama” or “destroying the GOP” aren’t going to be core topics here.

The goal for Winds, as I see it, is to be a place for interesting conversation about issues that possibly shows them in a new light.

Note that interesting conversation comes first; that means respectful engagement with the rest of us.

To that end, we’re working on Winds 2.0 which I hope will launch in early December (my attention and time are the throttling issues). I hope we’ll have an interesting lineup of writers (a lot of whom are people you se here today) and I truly hope that those of you who have participated will continue to do so, and will step up and occasionally author a piece here.

There will be some new rules – we’ll require registration from commenters – and, I hope, some new ideas.

Since I only have a limited about of bandwidth to devote to Winds, it will have to be split between blogging and managing the changeover. So both will get less than I’d like.

If you have author privileges at Winds today, please read this, think about it a bit, and drop me a note that sets out your interest in participating and some of the ideas you’d like to bring to the table.

While Winds isn’t a hugely popular blog, it’s got a pretty respectable level of traffic, and I’d like to see if we can find some smaller, interesting bloggers and reach out to them about joining us here – either by moving here, or by using it like Totten does as a way to put interesting posts out into the world and pull more people to his blog. So what new voices are out there that we ought to reach out to?

My goal is to port the site to the new platform (which will be MT 4.2 based) by the 1st week in December, then spend December establishing the lineup of authors and start the new year with a refurbished set of digs (and maybe Diggs) for all of us.

Hoder in Jail in Iran

Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan has been arrested by Iranian security (h/t Harry’s Place).

Hoder – as he was widely known in the blogs is another OG blogger who has lived in Canada for some time to keep himself out of the hands of the Iranian police. While anti-mullah, he’s resolutely pro-Iranian, and we’ve actually knocked heads a bit on that.

The Guardian writes:

A prominent Iranian blogger has been arrested in Tehran and accused of spying for Israel after visiting the country with the aim of being “a bridge between Iranian and Israeli people”.

Hossein Derakhshan, 33, was reported by the Iranian website Jahan News to have confessed during initial interrogations to being involved in espionage.

The Jahan News site, which is widely believed to be linked to the Iranian intelligence services, also said he had been described in Jewish newspaper articles as a “friend of Israel”.

Derakhshan is known in Iran as the Blogfather after effectively launching the country’s craze for blogging. He has claimed 20,000 people a day read his postings.

He holds joint Iranian-Canadian citizenship and left Tehran for Toronto in 2000 after hardline opponents of then president, Mohammad Khatami, closed down the reformist newspapers he worked on. He also lived in London for a while.

Derakhshan had returned to Tehran three weeks ago. His blogs, in Persian and English, have been suspended.

Almost Solar

The panels are up and connected. We’re waiting for the final city inspection and then we’ll throw the (very large) switches.



At $68/month it’s a screaming deal. I’ll post more as the system comes online.

…some more pictures.







Veteran’s Day 2008

I spent the weekend with Ehren Murburg’s dad, Mike, who I consider a new friend. We ate, drank, and talked, and Saturday night a college friend of his from Princeton was in town, so dropped by for a few hours and we talked about everything except the thing which brought us together.

We wound up talking about – shockingly – patriotism, and going back and forth (both Mike and his friend Steve are forthright liberals) on the need for a patriotic liberalism. I told them that in my view, liberalism had become identified with a cosmopolitan view that denied the unique place that America has in the world and that wanted badly to reduce America to a country among others.

Steve offered the notion that America is an idea, and that that idea is inherently welcoming, and I chimed in supporting him; we are not a nation of blood or land, we are a nation of an idea, and possibly the first great nation that can say that.

We need – as liberals, as Americans – to embrace those ideas which are our patrimony, to accept their greatness and the imperfections of the realizations. Just as we recognize the greatness and flaws of our children.

Mike Murburg’s son Ehren was buried under an American flag, and like all of those who died and were buried under that flag wearing the uniform of our country, he died for a set of ideas. Those ideas are not liberal, not conservative – they contain American liberalism and conservatism and so are greater than either.

I am an American liberal, and as such, I owe my first loyalty to my country.

And because of that – like many modern liberals – I have no problem being grateful to those who died, were wounded, who simply or heroically served in defense of our flag and the ideals it represents.

So on this Veteran’s Day, let me – belatedly – say once again to all those serving and their families:

So thanks, veterans. Thanks soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen. Thanks for doing your jobs and I hope you all come home hale and whole, every one of you.

Thank you Ehren. And Mike, for loaning him to us.

And finally, thank you to Eric, my son. For protecting me and the rest of us, and for choosing to wear the uniform and defend the ideas that make this country what it is – great. May we and all our leaders be worthy of you and all your colleagues.