Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Random Round-Up of Recommended Reading

On the Mid-East Crisis:

1. Matt Yglesias, more and more one of my favorite political commentators, notes that while "the current crisis in the Middle East... is very complicated," there is still "one thing you really need to remember... amid all the confusion and complexity," namely, that "The United States shouldn’t go to war with Syria, and it shouldn’t go to war with Iran." Amen! But if that was all he said, then this wouldn't be worth reading; he says a lot more, though. Normally, any essay that opines that "a broad swathe of hawkish opinion... have bought into a comic book view of how international relations works" would really piss me off -- but Yglesias follows it up with the sort of thing that make that sentence perfectly reasonable: "I refer, of course, to the Green Lantern Corps, DC Comics’ interstellar police force assembled by the Guardians of Oa." In other words, he's not using "a comic book view" as a generic (and inaccurate) cliché for "simplistic"; he's talking about a specific comic book. And getting it right! That's how it should be done. Anyway, the whole essay is worth reading. (It's also worth noting, maybe, that the essay is pieced together from a few of his blog posts. This is one good use for blogs: as a laboratory for rough drafts, seeing what works, putting them through the commentator's fire. The result is a good essay.)

2. Leila at Dove's Eye View has been one of my favorite bloggers during the current Mid-East crisis. Don't miss her recent cris de coeur about the situation, here and here.

3. I don't agree with his point of view, which
I find to be downright offensive at times (His view? Or just his tone? Not sure I can tell. And of course both vary -- this seems in direction contradiction to this, for example. Or, if it's not, he's sure not being very clear), but the Angry Arab has a point of view very different from the media in the U.S., and probably the media in most western countries. (This is a guy who finds the Nation and Tikkun to be hopelessly racist and biased towards Israel.) So it's worth reading just because it's so different.

4. If you found the letters from my sister-in-law, then in Lebanon, interesting (which, if you haven't read them,
are here: one, two, three, four (and the one that was temporarily removed is now back)), then you may also find interesting these other letters or reports from people in Lebanon: this letter from a Lebanese woman to an Israeli friend; this report from an American (still) in Beirut (also check out the longer-form blogging he's doing here).

5. James Wolcott considers the current right-wing debate about whether this is World War III or World War IV.

6. This has been linked to all over, but make sure not to miss this horrific snapshot of the current state of Baghdad.

7. Two different arguments that the U.S.'s interests in the Mid-East are crucially different from Israel's (at least as the latter currently sees it's interests) are put forward by UK analyst David Clark (via) and former CIA analyst Ray Close.

8. Billmon (whose been back to his old form this week) wonders where Al Queada is in this whole mess.


1. From the "Everyone's Blogging Now" files, Part Bigassnumber: Barbara Ehrenreich (via).

2. Duncan "Atrios" Black on why the left is so worked up about Lieberman, to which Shakespeare's Sister adds a postscript.

3. Atheist Ethicist makes a very important point about "secular fundamentalism" and the true middle ground in the church-state debate (via).

Just Quotes:

From a message board called "rapture ready", expecting rapture due to the current mid-east crisis: "If He tarries, I will just have time to get my hair and nails done (you know let all I come into contact with know of my Bridegroom and what He has/will do). So i am all spiffied up for Him when He does arrive to take me home." (quoted here)

"It's no longer just the middle class and the poor who're falling behind. The distribution has grown so uneven that the 95th percentile is making meager headway -- even the merely rich are falling behind." -- Ezra Klein reads Paul Krugman

"I do get annoyed at people who claim the public is “dumb.” That’s just snotty and arrogant. But the public is certainly uninformed about a great deal and America is currently reeling from the consequences of American’s unwillingness or inability to inform itself about the most basic of facts. Indeed, democracy requires voters to have a basic grasp of basic facts. Otherwise, it doesn't work. And after the 2004 election, I honestly wondered whether the American public had simply become so impervious to facts that the system was incapable of creating rational policy (i.e., based on real facts). For instance, it’s ok to have supported Bush in 2004 because you support low taxes or the war. But it’s not ok to have supported him because you still thought Iraq had WMDs or that his tax cuts went mostly to the middle class. That's irrational. And there is a big difference between a subjective value judgment based on objective facts and one that assumes and relies upon facts that simply don’t exist. The latter gives rise to policies that look strikingly similar to our fiscal and foreign policies." -- Publius, celebrating Ralph Reed's defeat.

(Additional links may be added as I come across/remember them.)

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