Thursday, July 10, 2003

New Blogger Says Hi ... and some random musings on Krugman and Coulter

Hi all. I'm one of the infamous new bloggers --- Peter Braffman. First, a thank you to David for inviting me to blog here. I am a huge fan of numerous blogs (more to follow) and I think this will be a great experience ... I will do my best to keep up with interesting posts as often as possible. Second, a wee bit about me: a native New Yorker who has been fortunate enough to travel around the world a few times, an ex-lawyer who works in finance, and a proud and devoted husband and father. As for my politics, I'll let people make their own conclusions. But I do subscribe to the efforts by bloggers like Michael Totten, Roger Simon, Sean LeFreniere and others who have found traditional labels way too misleading and confining. I am also heavily influenced by the late Christopher Lasch, a truly great intellectual who I was lucky enough to study under. Lasch started as a Marxist and became an espouser of Civic Republicanism, but was foremost a thinker and a critic who never let ideological affiliations obscure his analysis and search for the objective truth. I try, not always successfully, to practice that approach.

Lasch, in fact, is a bit of the antidote to the current state of political dialogue. He is like the anti-Paul Krugman. Or the anti-Ann Coulter, for that matter. Krugman, let me just say, is ridiculous. He is obviously intelligent, and when he stuck to economics, was, at times, compelling. But now, he just is a rabid Bush and Republican hater. I think I finally gave up on him last year (I actually lasted that long) when he complained about nepotism in politics ... among conservatives... but that among progressive legacies, it was just fine (so the Kennedy's were cool). What? I mean, does he just think we are idiots or does he really believe stuff like this (and if so, how?).

Coulter, with Treason, seems to be heading that direction. Whatever one thinks of communist infiltration in the US government in the 1950s (and there clearly was some), defending Joe McCarthy as a defender of liberty and an unfairly maligned patriot is nuts. Actually, it's worse ... it's the willing abdication of history. McCarthy was a horror. And he didn't even find communists in government (the FBI had done that already) ... so, he settled on actors! His was a promotional stunt, and a very dangerous one. And no one should be buying into her historical distortion. The same is true for her view that liberals and Democrats are treasonous. Again ... what? Does she really mean that? All of them, ... really? Will she even make exceptions for Scoop Jackson, Harry Truman, etc? And what of the Democrats that supported of McCarthy (given that she thinks he was such a great guy). What of Bobby Kennedy? She can't have it both ways. And it's a bit of a bummer. She can be fun to watch and she is obviously smart. And she may make some good observations ... but they get undercut by gross-overreaching and fabrication. Her rabid dislike of all things liberal is debilitating her ability to make otherwise thoughtful arguments that might add value. It is good to see that some thoughtful conservatives -- Andrew Sullivan, Dorothy Rabinowitz and David Horowitz -- have taken her to task.

Finally, we need to be careful with using the word treason so loosely. It's a very bad road to go down. Having a different view on foreign policy (or whatever), doesn't make it treasonous, even if one believes that the opposing view weakens us as a country. Both sides of the debate can claim it (i.e., that the other side is "functionally treasonous") and it gets the conversation nowhere. At the very least, it dilutes the word to something meaningless. At the worst, it creates so much divisiveness, that political and civil discourse becomes impossible. And in whose interest is that? Far better to drop the labels and stick to the facts. You can prove or at least persuade people that a given position is not desirable -- without calling it treason.

Anyway, a bit of an introduction and some random thoughts. Later.


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