Considering 9/11, Or How Not To Write a Convincing Op-Ed

Here’s an excellent example of how to make sure very few people will acknowledge what you are saying. David Bell concludes an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by putting the fight against terrorism into perspective:

Yet as the comparison with the Soviet experience should remind us, the war against terrorism has not yet been much of a war at all, let alone a war to end all wars. It is a messy, difficult, long-term struggle against exceptionally dangerous criminals who actually like nothing better than being put on the same level of historical importance as Hitler — can you imagine a better recruiting tool? To fight them effectively, we need coolness, resolve and stamina. But we also need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence.

He virtually guarantees that few will consider this sensible argument with the title of his op-ed: Was 9/11 Really That Bad? Factually he is correct that the toll from 9/11 is trivial compared to all of World War II, but that is hardly the point of most people’s reaction to the attack. It would be far better to acknowledge the horror of the attack without any attempts at down playing it while presenting his arguments on the often bizarre reactions to 9/11 from the right. By presenting what appears to be an equally bizarre reaction his more important argument will be ignored.

Another problem, even with the paragraph I quoted, is that while he is mostly right there we must keep in mind that in the nuclear age every enemy, while perhaps not a total threat to our existence, can cause incredible harm to us.

Posted in Op-eds, Terrorism. Tags: , . No Comments »

Air America Rescued; Franken Leaving to Explore Run for Senate

The Huffington Post reports:

Air America Radio, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since October, will be rescued at the 11th hour by Manhattan real estate developer Stephen L. Green.

Al Franken, the best-known host of the liberal network, will announce his expected departure on his show later today, to explore a run for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.

Green is the brother of Mark Green, the New York Democrat who served as the city’s public advocate in the 90s and ran for mayor against Michael Bloomberg in 2001.

As I’ve commented previously I don’t listen to Air America very often, preferring the more balanced information (and lack of commercials) from NPR, but I’m still happy to hear they will remain around.

Analyzing George Bush

New York Magazine has various writers and pundits psychoanalyze Geroge Bush. Here are some selections:

Robert Stone: “Bush is unimaginative, to a slightly pathological degree. He doesn’t cast a shadow; he’s just this paper construction.”

Jonathan Alter: “I see Bush’s behavior as the result of three major forces: the dad, the bottle, and the Vietnam War. For most of his life, Bush tried and failed to follow in his absent father’s footsteps. His father was a war hero; Bush a no-show Guardsman dodging Vietnam. His father did well in the oil business; Bush struck dry holes. His father got elected to Congress; Bush was defeated in 1978.”

Dahlia Lithwick: “The president may be unpopular. His war may be a disaster. But in pursuing that war, he’s expanded presidential authority almost beyond recognition. The prison at Guantánamo may be futile, but he’s won the right to operate it… If securing such power was always the endgame of this administration, the war in Iraq is nothing but a speed bump. And putting two justices on the Supreme Court who appear willing to sign off on an imperial presidency is the cherry on top.”

Peter D. Kramer: “My concern is precisely that Bush is not undone by the current state of the nation and that he’s not going to prove thoughtful in the service of seeking change. Then again, a contrasting possibility—that Bush is more self-aware than I imagine, and more panicked and overwhelmed—might be more humanly attractive but no more reassuring.”

Alan Brinkley: “He has a modest prepresidential reputation of having the ability to work effectively across party and ideological lines. But as those who believe that he is following a wise course shrink to an almost insignificant remnant, as the very architects of the policies he now defends repudiate their own work, as the political cost of his current path becomes increasingly apparent to almost any sentient person, Bush—who may still have time to redeem at least some part of his legacy—still appears to be oblivious both to the downward spiral of his presidency and to his own likely place in history.” (more…)

Posted in George Bush. Tags: , . 1 Comment »

Barack Obama and Uncertainty

Sen. Barack Obama

Over the weekend I posted some quotes from articles on Obama’s college days. Here’s yet another:

I can’t pretend that I had any idea then that he would be a serious presidential candidate — that would have been a crazy thing for anyone to project at that stage of a career — but he was certainly the most all-around impressive student I had seen in decades,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard for whom Obama served as a research assistant.

Obama analyzed and integrated Einstein’s theory of relativity, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, as well as the concept of curved space as an alternative to gravity, for a Law Review article that Tribe wrote titled, “The Curvature of Constitutional Space.”

Charles Ogletree — a professor who has served as a mentor to countless black students at Harvard Law, including Obama — said, “He was really a moderating influence on the campus by being mature, very much open to a variety of perspectives, but trusted by everyone to reach the right conclusions without some strong ideological link.”

I’m still not convinced that Obama has the experience to be President yet, and I want to hear specifics of what he would do, but anybody who can integrate the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and curved space into a law review article on the Constitution deserves a look.

Posted in Barack Obama. Tags: . 5 Comments »

Clinton vs. Bush

Everyone has their own ideas on who should run in 2008. How about Bill Clinton vs. George Bush. Jonathan Chait suggests repealing the 22nd ammendment and allowing that to happen. He looks forward to actually voting Bush out of office, although at this point it is doubtful he’d win a nominaiton for a third term even if this was legal. On the other hand, Bill Clinton might have an even greater lead than Hillary has at this point.