Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Carnival of Liberty LXII

Welcome to the 62nd edition of the Carnival of Liberty! Thanks to everyone who submitted an article for inclusion. We received emails from far and wide.

As we continue to watch and participate in commemorations of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it is noteworthy that Wired News suggests that 9/11 might be called "the birth of the blog."

Reporter Robert Andrews writes:

While phone networks and big news sites struggled to cope with heavy traffic, many survivors and spectators turned to online journals to share feelings, get information or detail their whereabouts. It was raw, emotional and new -- and many commentators now remember it as a key moment in the birth of the blog....

The chaos was "a galvanizing point for the blogging world," said Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media.

"We had this explosion of personal, public testimony and some of it was quite powerful," Gillmor said. "I remembered that old cliche that journalists write the first rough draft of history. Well now bloggers were writing the first draft."

Quoting social media consultant Matthew Yeomans, Andrews continues:
"Back in 2001, blogs were still very much the geek toy of the Slashdot set," he said. "(But) this collective tragedy demanded a forum to be shared by people all around the world who wanted to talk about what happened with anyone because it was the only way of making any sense of it. Were it to happen again, blogs and social networks would play an enormously cathartic role."
How far we have come in five years! Now, on with the Carnival...

It's hard to categorize this week's entries. They come from across the spectrum of points of view and topics. First, some comments on the election season:

From New York, Mondo QT's Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff reports in "Dogs, Guns, & Cheese" about odd items landing in voters' mailboxes in the days leading up to the Democratic primary election, including a pair of shoes purported to belong to Eliot Spitzer. Who sent them?
The answer is attorney general wannabe Andrew Cuomo, on a campaign flyer for himself. Over a pic of a pair of shoes, a banner declares "Eliot Spitzer is leaving some very big shoes to fill." Inside the flyer lie reasons why Andy Boy's feet will fit. But before buying his Cinderella reasons to believe, take a long look at those shovels. How do we know they actually belong to Eliot Spitzer? Nowhere on the flyer is there a sworn statement to that effect. Until Spitzer steps forward and says yes, those shoes are mine, Andrew Cuomo's claims should be viewed as suspect.
Meanwhile, from Chicago, where politics is always interesting, Mark Draughn of Windypundit (is that a redundant title?) takes issue with former New York Mayor Ed Koch. Mark writes in "Have Faith in Democracy":
In order to have a democracy like ours, you have to have elections. In order to have meaningful elections, you have to allow all sides to make an argument to the people, and that argument can include criticism of the other side, even if the other side currently holds the office under contention, even if the criticism is vicious, and even in time of war.

I don't see how it can be any other way. Being an elected official, even the President, means we get to kick your ass around the schoolyard whenever we feel like it. If that means people are going to "demean and weaken the president in wartime", so be it. It's part of the price we pay for having a democracy.

Over at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds, Stephen Littau wrestles with the dilemmas of voting when no political party matches one's values. In "Choose and lose," he writes:
For the first time in my life, with roughly two months until an election, I am unsure as to how or even if I will vote. No matter how I vote I will be forced to compromise some of my values. This is nothing new of course given the choice between the socialist party (the Democrat Party) and the socialist-light party (the Republican Party).
The eponymous Phil of Phil for Humanity argues for abolishing the Electoral College in an article he calls "Obsoleting the Electoral College." One reason he finds relevant:
[Electoral] officials only "pledge" that they will vote for the candidate that the state's majority has voted for. A "faithless elector" is a person who casts the state's electoral vote for no one or someone who the majority of the state's voters did not vote for. As of 2006, there have been 158 faithless electors. In all fairness, 71 of those votes were because the candidate they were suppose to cast their vote for passed away before the election of the Electoral College. In only 24 states, there are laws against electoral officials not voting for the candidate that they pledged to vote for, but they have never been enforced. Whatever the reasons that faithless electors have for not voting for who they pledged to vote for, this reason alone is sufficient to obsolete the Electoral College.
Next, we have a few posts about civil rights and civil liberties.

David at Equality Loudoun (that would be Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States, according to the Census Bureau) questions the sincerity of the proponents of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the Old Dominion, which voters may accept or reject in a referendum this November. In "An Interesting 'Social Contract,'" David suggests that his interlocutors' logic follows this pattern:
In other words, if you are a member of a socially marginalized group, that in and of itself proves that you don’t deserve to be protected by the constitution from mob rule. If you are a member of a socially marginalized group, and you have the audacity to use your fundamental right to petition the government, that justifies the majority foreclosing on your abilty to use that right.

And you shouldn’t have gone out alone at night, and what were you thinking, wearing that?

Newbie blogger Steve Foerster of Chrysology (who, until a few days ago, had never heard of a "blog carnival") explains why "I will not be silent":
I can't help but wonder, if Western society accepts condemnation of those who are different, isn't its difference from a society based on Sharia no longer one of kind but only of degree? It is precisely to the extent that we do not act that way that gives us the moral high ground. Don't get me wrong, I realize that people with minority opinions in the West have a great deal more freedom of expression than people in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and many other places. But when it comes to liberty, it's not about outrunning the other guy -- it's about outrunning the bear.
Perry Eidelbus, the proprietor of Eidelblog, has a righteous rant about public accommodations laws in "'Accommodation': a euphemism for using government to coerce." He argues:
"Because it's the law" is the most idiotic way to excuse government coercion. Some liberals and conservatives genuinely don't understand, as Don Boudreaux explained, that just because something is "the law," that still does not make it right. Others do understand that but will invoke "the law" when it suits their political agenda. "Eminent domain" is the law by which many governments at various levels have stolen people's land and homes. It was "the law" in Denmark for Jews to wear armbands. It has almost universally been "the law" in dictator-ruled societies that if you dissent, you can be jailed or executed. It was the law in many states, for the first several decades of United States history, that you could literally own another human being.
Ogre, over at Ogre's Politics and Views (naturally), has good news for drug dealers in a piece he calls "Hiding Drugs Okay":

If you're a drug dealer, today is a good day for you. The North Carolina court of appeals has ruled that it's okay to hide drugs under your balls because police aren't allowed to search for drugs there, even if you're a convicted drug dealer in a known drug area acting nervous because you're dealing and carrying drugs.

Yes, the court actually ruled it was unreasonable to look down a man's pants for drugs, even when that man has given consent to a search and has numerous prior convictions for dealing drugs (and yet is still on the street).

(Don't worry, lovers of liberty: Ogre thinks the War on Drugs is a dismal failure and deserves to end.)

It wouldn't be a Carnival of Liberty without a look at the looney left, this time from Canada. (I promised more Canadian content on this blog many months ago, and here it is.) Writing at The London Fog -- that's London, Ontario -- Lisa finds a frightening letter to the editor in her local newspaper and responds with Swiftian wit in "Thanks for the taxes all those years, now get on the ice floe":
The slack left by our vanishing gerontologists will be taken up by increasing employment opportunities in Euthanasia Science. We must fully fund research into the relative contributory value of different communities, so as to be able to move forward, allocating our scarce health care resources only to those communities that can demonstrate added value on an ongoing basis. A commitment to the values of life and health for all Canadians requires that we share the means for their preservation only with the robust and strong, those who are still able to demonstrate their ability to simultaneously pull their own weight, hold up the social safety net, and properly sort garbage and recyclables under their own power. As a society we must demand no less of each and every human resource.
Finally, a couple of 9/11 pieces:

Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade has a piece called "9/11: Five Years On," in which he writes:
I would love to resolve this whole Islamic extremism thing by negotiation. I make my living as a negotiator, after all. An ideal negotiation is one where both parties believe they are better off as the result of the negotiation, and would willingly sign the same deal again. And therein lies the problem. The extremists will sign any number of deals we propose to them, but they will not honor them. Unlike a business negotiator, they feel no need to honor them beyond whatever transient benefits may accrue to them through doing so. If the extremists would honor the results of such negotiation, it would be far cheaper than any military action. With what we've spend fighting Islamic extremism thus far, every single man, woman and child in the Muslim world could have at least a couple thousand dollars. We could have built them such beautiful cities, turned their lands into a paradise, and increased their economy at least tenfold. What rational person would refuse such a deal?

The problem is that they are not responding rationally to events, nor will they honor agreements they make one instant longer than they feel it is in their best interests to do so.
Carnival newcomer Tim Hulsey, who blogs at My Stupid Dog, discusses "Bad Taste and 9/11" (which I discussed earlier today). Tim finds value in sick jokes told in the aftermath of tragedy, saying:
I won't forget all the beer I drank in the days following 9/11, or the things my friends and I imagined doing with those little white candles. I won't forget the nasty cracks we made about how "we love to fly and it shows," or the retellings of old Space Shuttle Challenger jokes, with the names changed in honor of United 93 ("How do we know [insert victim's name] had dandruff?"). Most of all, I remember a local poet-cum-journalist who commemorated the Twin Towers with a rousing barroom rendition of "I Fall to Pieces."

Oddly enough, I feel deep gratitude for these moments: They constitute some of my warmest, most convivial memories involving fellow human beings. I'm not sure why. In those nerve-wracking days after the attacks, when we didn't know what had happened or if we would be next, dirty jokes and gallows humor were not merely a relief, they were a lifeline, attached as they were to the real business of day-to-day living. Perhaps we needed mirth and comfort, and would do anything to find it. That it was frequently callous, even cruel, was doubtless true but somewhat beside the point.
That's it for the 62nd Carnival of Liberty. Next week's Carnival will be hosted at The Unrepentant Individual.

One final note: This week's Virginia Blog Carnival is also up at Craig's Musings. Even if you're not from Virginia, take a look.

Update: History Carnival XXXIX is up at Cliopatria, a group blog on George Mason University's History News Network. It mentions my photoblog of the Speaker's House in Trappe, Pennsylvania. The same piece is featured in "Travel Carnival 4: Nature's Bounty" at TripHub, which describes itself as "a blog devoted to group travel."

Late Entry: Mike Wallach at Divided We Stand United We Fall has a touching 9/11-related "meditation on the death and remarkable life of Rick Rescorla" entitled "A good death."

1 comment:

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff said...

Nice work. Having just weathered a fairly vile primary race in my state, I found "Have Faith in Democracy" and "Choose & Lose" of particular interest. And "Bad Taste and 9/11" was a bracing dip.