Phil Carter Talks Sense on Homeland Security

Phil Carter (unlike me, not a Bush toady) writes approvingly of Bush’s selection of ex-cop Bernard Kerik as head of the DHS. Money graf:

Most of all, Kerik knows that the most likely person to stop or encounter a terrorist attack is not an FBI agent or CIA analyst, but a cop walking the beat or a transit worker who sees something suspicious. If Kerik remains true to his background, he will direct the lion’s share of resources and federal attention toward these local officials on the front lines of homeland security.

I couldn’t agree more.

One hopes that this is true, and a feather in the cap to Phil for putting sense ahead of partisanship.

As my shin gets kicked, I go ‘Ouch’

In the comments to my piece on the Peter Bienert column below, blogger/commenter praktike took the opportunity to gently kick me in the shins for not mentioning his effort in the vein of liberal responses to terrorism – which he graciously invited me to participate in, and which I haven’t because life/kids/pets/spouse/work have managed to get in the way.

So let me at least remedy the oversight by mentioning his ‘Liberals Against Terrorism‘ wiki, and encouraging you to do better than I have so far, and go participate.

When Norm Geras interviewed me, I said that the best thing about blogging was discovering that there were others like me.

From praktike to Michael Totten to Norm Geras to TNR, it’s becoming apparent that I’m not an isolated individual on the fringe, and that there are enough of us to start stirring the pot.

I’m looking forward to it, and way to go, praktike.

Singing Harmony With The New Republic

I’ve been pretty much away from the computer for the last two days, so I missed the first wave of responses to Peter Bienert’s piece on Liberals and Terrorism in TNR (registration required and well worth it).

In a sense, that makes me lucky, because not only do I get to comment in passing on an article that many of you will have read (and if you haven’t, just stop reading this right now and go read it), but I get to comment on the responses.

First, as to the article itself; well, given what I’ve written and talked about for the last two years, I’m wearing a giant bulls-eye on my shirt. I’m the choir, and I’ll stand in back of him and sing harmony for as long as it takes.His core point – that a left that sees the world only as a Manichean struggle with the forces of conservatism is a losing left – is certainly true.

Like the softs of the early cold war, MoveOn sees threats to liberalism only on the right. And thus, it makes common cause with the most deeply illiberal elements on the international left. In its campaign against the Iraq war, MoveOn urged its supporters to participate in protests co-sponsored by International answer, a front for the World Workers Party, which has defended Saddam, Slobodan Milosevic, and Kim Jong Il. When George Packer, in The New York Times Magazine, asked Pariser about sharing the stage with apologists for dictators, he replied, “I’m personally against defending Slobodan Milosevic and calling North Korea a socialist heaven, but it’s just not relevant right now.”

Well, yes it is. It is both in terms of creating and defending a truly moral left – one that can stand without shame on it’s principles – and in terms of creating a left that is more than a political curiosity.

I’ve railed enough in the past (and surely will in the future) on the ideological failings that led the Democratic Party to this cliff.

Lots of smart people (Mickey Kaus, Kevin Drum) suggest that there’s really no cliff, because after all we’re just 3% away from taking back the White House.

They are mathematically right, and factually wrong.

GM gradually lost market share to Honda and Toyota; there was no single year when Honda suddenly leapt forward, just a gradual, inch by inch progression that left GM on the wrong side of the curve and headed south.

But if you looked at the product – at the cars they made – it was pretty clear who had a clue. GM tried everything; marketing, financial engineering, cost cutting – everything except making great cars efficiently. It wasn’t hard, back in 1984, to guess what the long-term trend was going to be.

Similarly, I don’t have a hard time guessing what the long-term trend is for the Democratic Party as it’s being run today. The Democratic Party isn’t only selling it’s soul to coke-addled Hollywood celebrities and telecom zillionaires by pandering to their corporate interests at the expense of – say – the working folks of the country. They are also mobilizing a base of activists and functionaries – really the bones of the party – who are consciously taking the party to a place where it will be unable to speak intelligently about defense for a generation.

Let’s go to the comments on Beinart’s article.

Matt Yglesias has a favorable piece up on the article. Could it be? We agree on something? But let’s go to his commenters.

What “war” are we in?

War On Terra.

Posted by: abb1 | December 2, 2004 12:50 PM


Perhaps the reason MoveOn and other Democratic leaning organizations don’t see the importance of the “war on terrorism” is that there really isn’t any such war. Certainly, even if one agrees that a “war on terrorism” is justified, that doesn’t excuse invading Iraq, which never did engage in any terrorism against the US. And, we have to be talking about terrorism against the US and the US only, or we have to engage ourselves in war, since we were the terrorist nation that supported terrorism against certain Central American countries not so long ago. Now, about “totalitarian Islamism”, pray tell why should we be concerned if a Islamic country decides to have a totalitarian government? And, how is it better for that totalitarian government to be imposed on them by the US, as we have done in Iraq? Come on people, the only justification for use of the US military is to protect the US or to protect US allies. And, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq threatened either the US or our allies.

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | December 2, 2004 01:17 PM

But you get the picture…

Then Andrew Sullivan approves, and gets this email:

Only one problem with Beinart’s thesis. People like me will not vote for the kind of Democrat he pines for. And people like me are the base of the Democratic party. I would not vote for Joe Lieberman or any Iraq-war supporting Democrat (that includes Hillary, by the way). People like me are the mirror images of the Republican right. We would rather lose than sacrifice our principles. The operative principle here is our opposition to big-foot neoconservatism which views the entire world as America’s playground. You may think we are wrong but understand this: we are the Democratic party (which is why Lieberman sank so quickly). Our model is that of the Goldwaterites. They did not change. They fought and eventually they prevailed. We will prevail too. Iraq is our trump card. And maybe Iran. The continued ascendancy of neoconservatism guarantees the triumph of neoisolationism. As George Mc Govern said, “come home, America.” The day is coming.

No, you’re not the Democratic Party, not if I can help it. But it’s going to take a fight.

And yes, it’s a small and self-selected sample, but MoveOn sits close to the throne of the Democratic Party today (sadly), and Michael Moore-smooching is up there with baby-eating as a Democratic campaign strategy.

I’d better get back to my reformation principles…

TG Speaks!

My wife, Tenacious G, has worked for the same organization for 20 years (while I have never actually managed to work for more than 10 in one year…). This year, her boss of 17 years, and dear friend, the Executive Director is retiring which is pretty stressful to her.

So last night, they held a reception in his honor at Disney Hall downtown, and they had asked her to speak on behalf of the staff.

Speaking along with her were a Superior Court judge, an appellate court judge, and a few name partners at law firms. She wasn’t happy about being asked to speak at all, and was terrified at speaking in that crowd.

“I’m a terrible speaker!” she wailed to me.
But she loves her boss and wanted to honor him, and so sat down and wrote a speech.

I read it, and it wasn’t the speech I would have written – hers was direct and simple while (as you can tell from my writing here sometimes) I’m overfond of rhetorical flourishes. But when I read it and heard it in my head – in her imagined voice – it sounded good.

Little did I know…

There were about two hundred or so people there when the event began. I’d meant to change to a suit, but hadn’t had time (and for my work presentation that morning I was specifically commanded to be in ‘business casual’).

I got her a glass of wine – she was too nervous to eat – and when they called her name, she sighed, shrugged her shoulders, handed me her purse and walked to the podium.

And she blew the room away.

After her first paragraph, the room was silent, and as I looked over the crowd, I could tell how fixed everyone’s attention was on her. She spoke simply, honestly, and with a display of unfiltered affection and emotion. It was amazing; it was something I’ve rarely seen – and I’ve been to a lot of speeches. Four minutes of absolute attention and silence. The focus and energy of two hundred people entirely on her, her words, and the feelings she was conveying with them.

She got kind of teary at the end, wrapped up the speech, and came off the podium to hugs from the other speakers, and a powerful hug from her boss.

The she came over to me and I handed her a Kleenex, hugged her myself, and told her how proud I was of her.

And now I’m telling all of you as well.