LETTER FROM JERUSALEM

Glenn Reynolds posts an email from Yehudah Mirsky, an old law-school class-mate of Glenn’s, who was near the Hebrew University bombing today. Read the whole email. But for my money, the end is the most poignant:

As it turns out I was reading Nietzsche today, and I wonder how much of this he is responsible for too, these crazy notions of self-actualization through violence that he spat into the culture and take on a life of their own, all over. I’m lucky, I have an American passport and in theory could head for the airport anytime I want. Where is everybody else supposed to go? And one more thing that makes me tired and angry, that like a nice Jewish boy I go on praying for peace not only for the Jews but for the Arabs too, while they keep praying to my God to kill me. Yours, without answers, but still praying for peace like a river, Yehudah.

CAMILLE, PART ONE

The first part of our first IMterview – with Camille Paglia. It’s posted opposite. It made more sense to post what we have already before waiting for her to reply to your questions. Send more in if you want. I’m forwarding them to her and she’ll pick a handful to answer.

IS SADDAM MANUFACTURING EBOLA VIRUS? This important and detailed <a href = http

//www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23545-2002Jul30.html target = _blank>report from the Washington Post makes for unnerving reading. Yes, as the story details, we don’t know for certain whether the reports of defectors are completely true and our satellites cannot determine with complete accuracy whether new buildings and construction are designed to build weapons of mass destruction. So the question becomes: who gets the benefit of the doubt? A dictator who has used such weapons and declared the United States as an enemy or a democratic country that has already experienced terrorist catastrophe? Meanwhile, Tom Friedman balances the Times’ recent relentlessly dovish coverage with the counter-factual omitted from the Times recent story on the economic impact of an Iraq war. What if a victory in Iraq were to lead to far lower oil prices? And what if not tackling Iraq meant at some point we’d have to rebuild Washington D.C. or Manhattan? It seems to me that a critical element in this debate has to be September 11. We’re not discussing hypotheticals any more.

KERRY’S OBVIOUS FLAW: For all the Times’ puffery, isn’t it a critical problem for John Kerry that he voted against the first war with Iraq? If he couldn’t stand up to Saddam and the enemy after a brutal invasion of another country, why should we trust him to defend our security today? I’d say that’s a fatal weakness.

STOPPING THE WAR I

Why is it front page news that secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld thinks air-strikes alone can’t disable Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction? Hasn’t this been obvious for ever? We’ve been treated to several competing alleged leaks for ground invasions of Iraq over the past few weeks, as Jack Shafer has noted. Does the Times think that ground troops of 50,000 to 250,000 will be deployed from the air? Shafer asks the question of why these leaks are occurring but misses an obvious one: the doves in the Pentagon are allying with the doves at the major papers to wage a public campaign against the necessity of war against Iraq. The point of the Times story today is simply to get the following sentence on the front page: “A growing number of lawmakers from both parties are voicing concern that the administration is heading precipitously toward war.” The Los Angeles Times chimes in as well. Hearings begin today. But the campaign to protect Saddam’s weaponry began a long time ago. Those of us who think the majority of Americans decided last September that war with Iraq was essential to our present and future security had better be prepared. The opposition is determined and organized, and they are passionately opposed to using American power to defeat the forces of state terror. What if the U.N. opposes it or doesn’t endorse it? Many visceral doves in Washington will rally. If they can isolate the administration from the allies and the Congress, then there’s a good chance appeasement will gain even more momentum.

STOPPING THE WAR II: A central enabler of Serbian genocide opposes the war in Iraq. Figures.

STOPPING THE WAR III: King Abdullah of Jordan tells the British prime minister he mustn’t support the Bush administration’s war against Saddam. The pressure on Blair – internally and externally – is getting truly intense.

GEEKS ON ISRAEL: A useful statistical analysis from Tech Central Station on casualties in the Middle East.

IRAN’S PROSTITUTES

Michael Ledeen writes to add some perspective on the prospect of legalized prostitution in Iran:

Andrew, your good cheer over the prospect of legal prostitution in Iran misses the whole point. Iran is so degraded under the mullahs that prostitution is rampant, this being the only way many women can–excuse the expression–make ends meet. It is heartbreaking and grotesque, not something to be celebrated. That the mullahs would permit such a debate to take place at all shows how events have run away from them. But no one, above all you, should be confused about what’s happening. The country is ruined, the people are desperate, and in their desperation they are selling their bodies.
It is absolutely not to be compared to Heidi Fleiss.

Point taken.

THE CASE FOR RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

This is not a story from the Onion.

THE NEW YORK TIMES VS. THE WAR

The anti-war coverage is getting really intense now. We’ve had the Powell puff-piece, the Powell editorial, the cover-piece on why the Kurds fear a war, and now a piece about how a war will hurt the economy. Here’s the classic editorial paragraph stuffed into a news non-story:

Already, the federal budget deficit is expanding, meaning that the bill for a war would lead either to more red ink or to cutbacks in domestic programs. If consumer and investor confidence remains fragile, military action could have substantial psychological effects on the financial markets, retail spending, business investment, travel and other key elements of the economy, officials and experts said.

Could it get any more obvious? One question: wouldn’t lots of military spending help the economy? Meanwhile, having blasted the market slide from the rooftops for days on end, the Times now buries the current rally inside. I guess when you have broadcast a bubble correction as the consequence of the Bush administration, it’s embarrassing when a rally gathers steam. When do you think Howell Raines will commission a poll to see if the public credits Bush for higher stock prices?

THE REAL TADPOLE: In a case in Washington State, a woman gets prison time for a sexual relationship with a fourteen year-old boy. Both families are wrecked; and a young life is in jeopardy. I wonder whether Anthony Lane thinks this is the best a kid can get. Or if Mary Eberstadt even noticed.

THE LEFT’S CIVIL WAR: Here’s a refreshingly vicious piece by paleo-liberal Robert Borosage attacking the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Put it together with Lieberman’s attack on Gore’s phony populism in the 2000 campaign and you have a real split emerging among Democrats about how to appeal to the country at large in November and beyond. Worth a real story, no? Certainly a more solid story than the cockamamie notion that the religious right is gunning for John Ashcroft. But my guess is you won’t see this debate fleshed out in, say, the New York Times.

IRAN WATCH: Wait for it. They’re gonna legalize prostitution. At least they’re discussing it. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Iran managed to achieve this sensible reform before America did?

THOSE SEXLESS BRITS: “The day I arrived in London, my American flatmate picked me up at the airport. During the drive to Hammersmith from Heathrow, she gave me a piece of unsolicited romantic advice. x91The first thing you should know about English men,x92 she said, x91is that what they secretly want most in the world is to be with other English men.x92” No, they’re not gay. They’re just English. A woman laments the erotic desert of London.

THOSE LESBIGAYS: Your responses were thoughtful. To enlarge the sample, I’ve been bugging random gay/lez friends here in Ptown. So far, there isn’t exactly a lengthy list of common cultural indicators between gay men and lesbians. Some lesbian comedians have gay followings: Sandra Bernhard and Ellen Degeneres, for example. But Bernhard, it seems to me, is really a gay man with left-lesbian politics. Someone suggested selling real estate as one area of common interest. That’s pushing it. Pets too – but that’s a little universal to make much sense and then you get into the whole cats/dogs debate. Then there’s HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” (I’ll ignore the smart-ass who wrote: Q: What do gay men and lesbians have in common? A: They are the only two groups on earth who care about what gay men and lesbians have in common.) Musically, one reader suggested the following:

There are a bunch of bands that gay boys and baby dykes both love. They are mostly girl-led rock bands like Luscious Jackson, Slaeter-Kinney, Cibo Mato and such. The last Luscious Jackson show I went to was almost all lesbians and gay guys under 30. Tori Amos also has a pretty huge base of gay and lesbian fans (miserable, whiney gay and lesbian fans, but they are united in their angst). Similarly, cool young gay boys and baby dykes are united in their contempt for Pansy Division, purveyors of gay themed elevator punk.

You learn something every day. But these gay men tend to be the Northwest types, united by Naderist crunch. They come from the kind of sub-sub-culture described here, and it’s not only West Coast:

There’re places all over the country with vibrant and mixed lesbian/gay communities – places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Northampton, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; and Ashville, North Carolina. In this new world, the bars and coffee houses have huge numbers of homos – boy and girl – and the non-gay folks blend in well enough so that even the trained eye can’t really tell them from the gay ones. The common currency is usually the music (Sleater Kinney, Sonic Youth, Johnny Cash, Gillian Welch) and a culture that celebrates what’s great about America–cookouts, softball, beer, beaches, frisbee. Practically every gay guy I know has a lesbian best friend. Another example is the Eastern Oregon town where I spent my adolescence. There, it was a small community of gay men and lesbians that took me under their wing. They invited me to their potlucks, hired me to babysit their kids, and helped me to meet my first boyfriend. They introduced me to their brand of good-humored, practical politics – we were fighting Measure 9 – and taught me how not to give up hope that people’s anti-gay attitudes can change. As for music, it was either Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, and Melissa Etheridge.

What interests me here is that lesbian culture can attract many politically liberal gay men, but it’s rare for that to happen the other way round. How many lesbians, for example, show up at a circuit party? Or a leather bar? Even at most gay male gyms, there are many more straight women than lesbians. Similarly, most gay-lesbian organizations have found that one way they can truly integrate gay men and lesbians in their membership is by being run by lesbians, or having strict gender-parity, even though gay men outnumber lesbians by two-to-one. The National Gay Lesbian Task Force, for example, hasn’t had a man in seven of its last seven executive directors. And the Human Rights Campaign has a mainly lesbian leadership. Why is that combination the most effective, I wonder?