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October 23, 2003
Seven Stories

I'm sure by now you've already heard that there's been another recall. This is Wisconsin's second in seven years. They seem to be having some issues with their elected officials.

By everything I've heard and everything I've read, Janice Rogers Brown is unfit to sit on the appellate court. Just as she was rated "unfit" when she was first nominated to the State bench. I heard excerpts from an interview on NPR this morning and her admission that she hasn't really thought about the First Amendment in terms of a state's ability to legislate free speech issues worried me, as did her characterization of government as some kind of parasite that destroys society. (I was equally worried by her seeming unfamiliarity with the Constitution.) We need another filibuster if we don't have the votes to defeat her nomination.

“Her many disturbing dissents, often not joined by a single other justice, make it clear that she would use the power of an appeals court seat to try to erect significant barriers for victims of discrimination to seek justice in the courts, and to push an agenda that would undermine privacy, equal protection under the law, environmental protection, and much more.”"

The quote is from an article on her nomination and, yes, the infamous cartoon.

Subject: Iraq.
Problem: We're doing it wrong.
Solution: Apply pressure.
Freidman slaps Republicans and tells them it's their job to keep their party's president (and his Administration) under control.

Oh, and George Will says Rumsfeld is the go-to guy for impossible problems. Like when Nixon appointed him to head "Office of Economic Opportunity, an agency devoted to the task of eliminating poverty in America." (Ooops...that one wasn't such a success, was it? But no one wins them all.) He also lauds the amazing breadth of Rumsfeld's resume and his standing as "child of that prairie-driven culture of vitality" whatever that means. (I love the way politicians have to have it all. Rumseld has, in Will's opinion, an amazing record of public service spanning decades, but he's not, you understand, a "Washingtonian" he's just a regular guy.)

Anyhow, along the way Will also takes us to task for not paying closer attention to the semantic meaning of the words the Administration used to pre-justify the invasion. I almost never agree with Will, but I do always read his columns.

And while you're at WaPo, read Richard Cohen on "How to Lose a Friend," an account of his recent experience in Germany.

Is Civilise or Die really the way we need to look at the world? It's not that I don't understand the motivation. We all get tired of reports of despot or dictator who has been attempting genocide. None of us like reading that this or that country has bombed a neighbor, or that yet another suicide bomber has succeeded in murdering a handful of innocent bystanders or that a few hundred, or thousand, people are being held in prison camps at the will of a tyrannical ruler. I think all sane people would agree that they want everyone to live in reasonable security and safety, and under the rule of just governments.

On Europe's borders, a massive effort has been made to prevent Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia from becoming failed states. If this works it will not be because a solution has been imposed by force, but because the Bosnians and others want to be part of a greater European structure.

That is absolutely the truth. You can't make someone be free. They have to want it. They have to work for it.

Contrary to the current wave of apathy that grips the majority of citizens in this country, freedom requires sacrifice, and it's not always the kind people think.

Beyond the sacrifice of blood it took to establish this county in the first place, we require the energy, effort, and time of everyone, in every generation, to participate in the process and keep the country as a whole on the right track.

You know, the boring day-in and day-out kind of effort. Paying attention to issues. Voting for candidates for a better reason than recognizing their name or using eeny-meeny guesswork. Anyone can offer a burst of enthusiasm and commitment when it's time to get the big things done, but freedom can be nibbled to death by rats just as surely as it can be ripped out at gunpoint.

(I know...it takes too long. That's what everyone says. The problem is that it does take a significant commitment in the beginning. If you're behind, you have to make the commitment to catch up. Once you're abreast of what's going on, it's a much easier matter to stay caught up. Of course, a rational and reliable national news media could help substantially with that, but we're not actually blessed with one in this country. In any case, that's really an entirely different rant.)

Another question is, and Cooper's column doesn't address this, what form should the freedom take? As I said in an earlier post, 'democracy' the way it exists in the USofA is not the solution for everyone.

More on that at a later date. (I know, I said that last time, too, but that's not a quick post to write.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:49 AM


ad: civilize or die. I don't really want to take issue with the Guardian article with which I basically agreee but to place Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia at "Europes border" is really a reflection of British arrogance or, let me say, ignorance in an effort to be a bit kinder. They are, in fact, right in the middle of Europe and a failure there would be a blow to the whole European idea. This being said, the issues of each of those three entitites are entirely different from one another and must be approached accordingly. A small comment frame is unfortunately not the place to go into this in detail. But the idea is that if you just look at those people as some kind of troublemakers that you have to placate, you will fail. I see particularly Kosovo as a perpetual problem for future peace in the Balkan which is, after all, an important part of "Europe" even if there is only one country which is a member of the EU and one more that will become so next year.

BTW I saw some American TV-interviews with Madeleine Albright ('Daily News'). I never liked her policies but now when she is retired she seems great! And intelligent and funny! I will buy her book, for sure.

Posted by: Bengt at October 23, 2003 12:24 PM