I’ve found myself reading and bookmarking a number of noteworthy articles this past week. Lots of interesting stuff to comment on here, but for fear I might not find the time to do so at any length very soon, I’m going to catch up by posting some quick quotes and links…
First up: Writer/director/producer David Mamet wrote an exceptional article in the Village Voice, in which he explains his shift away from the left. Interestingly, he attributes his own change in thinking to an inability to reconcile long-held beliefs with the more favorable evidence offered by his everyday experiences.
I’d observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances — that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired — in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.
And I began to question my hatred for “the Corporations” — the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.
And I began to question my distrust of the “Bad, Bad Military” of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations — they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not “Is everything perfect?” but “How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?” Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.
It sounds to me like he’s simply become more pragmatic. Brings to mind neo-neocon’s excellent and insighful “A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change” series.
Elsewhere in the article, Mamet included a mention of NPR that I found amusing and relevant, as my own wife is an NPR fan of many years but I’ve come to find the station’s reporting biases frustrating. Mamet begins:
We were riding along and listening to NPR.
(Typical scene for me and my wife too, during our morning commute.)
I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. “?” she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been — rather charmingly, I thought — referring to myself for years as “a brain-dead liberal,” and to NPR as “National Palestinian Radio.”
Funny, I’ve come to refer to it in my own mind with a chuckle as “Nationalized People’s Radio” … Mamet and I must be thinking on similar wavelengths…
(Update 3/19: “National Progressive Radio” is another variant I’ve since caught myself using)
In other news: George McGovern seems to get it more than either of our current Democratic presidential candidates when it comes to economic freedom, as Glenn Reynolds noted at Instapundit. Why, as Glenn rightly asked, isn’t he running for president?
The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.
The last remaining staircase at the World Trade Center site was moved on Monday. Fittingly, it sounds like it’s going to be preserved as part of the World Trade Center 9/11 memorial.
Charlie Martin puts his finger on something that’s been troubling me about the healthcare debate for a long while: What many people think of as health “insurance” isn’t actually insurance.
IraqPundit genuinely wonders what Obama thinks about U.S. involvement in Iraq, and provides an instructive recap of Obama’s position statements over time. Therein lay some interesting surprises for me, including this quote from a Boston Globe report:
In July of 2004, the day after his speech at the Democratic convention catapulted him into the national spotlight, Barack Obama told a group of reporters in Boston that the United States had an ‘absolute obligation’ to remain in Iraq long enough to make it a success.
‘The failure of the Iraqi state would be a disaster,’ he said at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, according to an audiotape of the session. ‘It would dishonor the 900-plus men and women who have already died… . It would be a betrayal of the promise that we made to the Iraqi people, and it would be hugely destabilizing from a national security perspective.’
He might actually have had a chance at my vote, had he continued with this kind of talk. But lately he seems disinterested in talking about anything but his 2002 advocacy against the Iraq invasion, and in discussing any Iraq policy or strategy short of an immediate withdrawal — an act of retreat and defeat that our enemies would not soon forget, and that would surely come back to haunt us in future conflicts.
Also, at Hot Air: Does the media’s anti-war rhetoric embolden Iraqi insurgents? (Thanks again Instapundit.)
At the Wall Street Journal: What is it about Democrats and Chávez?