Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's Going to Continue Quiet 'Round Here a While

After having two of my heaviest blogging-ever months in February and March, and a perfectly respectable April, May has been quiet around here. So I thought I'd pop up to let y'all know that this is likely to continue, at least for a few more weeks. Nothing wrong, just busy. (As I've always tried to stress, things here at Attempts have always been, and will always be, on-and-off-again, depending on time and whim.)

In the meantime, via my favorite blogger for links, here's a collection of 70 covers of Dylan songs in honor of Dylan's 70th birthday this week. It was downloading very slowly on the birthday itself, but it's doing well know, and the collection is a lot of fun. The first one to make me stop my tour through the set to listen to it again was Hazel Dickens's cover of "It's Only a Hobo".

Be seeing you.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Duelling Proverbs on the Death of Bin Laden

Jeffrey Goldberg offers: "When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." -- Proverbs 21:15

Russell Arben Fox (and the Magnes Zionist, and Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld) offer “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” -- Proverbs 24:17

(In fairness, if you read their full statements, both RAF and Rabbi Herzfeld are more equivocal than that quote would indicate.)

What can one say except "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose"? (Merchant of Venice 1:2). But how do you tell which is which?

He's Dead. Now Let's Declare VIctory and Go Home.

The well-deserved death of Osama Bin Laden gives President Obama a fantastic opportunity, if he should choose to take it: declare victory in the war on terror. Use this as the occasion to end the war in Afghanistan, the undeclared war in Pakistan, the war in Iraq, and so on. Decide that threats should be dealt with based on their likelihood and impact, not on an irrational elevation of this one source of danger over all others. Revert to intelligence & police work as the prime protections against criminal terror networks. End the war on terror: declare victory, and go home.

This is not an original idea with me -- nor is it, as one person said to me, restricted to the lunatic fringe. Mainstream liberals, like Matt Yglesias and James Fallows and Peter Beinart (via), are saying the same thing. Unsurprisingly, the right is taking the opposite tack, asserting that this does not mean the war on terror is or should be over.

So we should - we must - push back. Try to get Obama to do what's right.

I agree that the practical significance of Bin Laden's death (as far as American security goes) is likely to be low. But the symbolic significance is high. Which makes it a great time to do what we should do anyway: reorient our foreign policy to a more balanced (and less militarized) one; reorient our domestic priorities back to civil liberties and away from security theater; etc, etc. This is a great moment: Obama should seize it.

We should seize it.

Some people (e.g. Glenn Greenwald) are saying, cynically, that this won't do any of these things. And as far as prediction goes, they're most likely right. But prediction is totally the wrong way to think about this. This isn't something that will or won't happen regardless of what we, collectively, do; it is something that will or won't happen depending on what we, collectively, do.

So let me revise my statement that this is a great opportunity for Obama: it is a great time for us, collectively. We can use this to change course. We should. Those of us who think this should try to convince those who don't. It's too good an opportunity to waste.

It's not unrealistic any more than it's realistic: it's up to us. We can do it if we want. "If we will it, it is no dream." So we should do it.

Bin Laden's dead. Good riddance.

Now let's end the war on terror. Declare victory, and go home.

May His Name And Memory Be Erased

Osama Bin Laden is Dead. Throw another log on the fire, boys...

Can we end the wars on Afghanistan & Pakistan now?