Saturday, November 02, 2002

Still defending communism
After World War II, every Frenchman claimed to belong to the Resistance, when really most were collaborators. Likewise, so many pro-commie lefties suddenly did a "I was always opposed to communism, I just wasn't right-wing about it" line. Give it to the Guardian. No pretense from them. Today it runs a piece on why communist Hungary was a good place because of a sense of solidarity.
What I remember most was the overriding sense of community and solidarity, a spirit I find totally lacking in my adopted Britain and indeed whenever I go back to Hungary today. With minimal differences in income and material goods, people really were judged on what they were like as individuals and not on what they owned.

UPDATE: A reader writes: "Well, I also grew up in Hungary, pretty much at the same time. Hypocrisy ruled. Join the party, pay lipservice to communist ideals, sell yourself, and you'll get ahead. Materially more comfortable than other Eastern European countries, it was still a dictatorship that paid you off to keep quiet: If you don't play along, it could get much worse!"

Denial is a river in Egypt
Today's Washington Post has a bit of tripe from John Lewis and Martin Frost trying to pretend there is no rift between blacks and Jews. Their evidence:
Inside Congress, that same partnership for progressive values has prevailed. No two groups have voted more alike than Jewish and African American members. So far in this Congress, Jewish House members have supported positions taken by the NAACP 83 percent of the time. In contrast, white non-Jewish members voted with the NAACP only 51 percent of the time. In the last Congress, Jews in the House were with the NAACP on 89 percent of the votes, while non-Jewish white members were only 51 percent of the time.
Ok, so let's pretend that the NAACP represents blacks, as opposed to, say, the Democratic Party. And let's pretend that NAACP positions are primarily about specifically racial issues. Where is the tit-for-tat?
Make no mistake, some leaders within our communities -- elected or otherwise -- have differences of opinion, and they deserve respect for the sincere, thoughtful positions they take. They also deserve the freedom to express themselves without being forced to bear the burden of speaking for an entire group.

For instance, some African Americans and Jews have approached recent debates on the Middle East from different perspectives. Of course, there is a long and distinguished tradition of nonviolence in the African American community. Jews should recognize that when some black elected officials advocate a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, it does not necessarily make them anti-Israel. And a secure peace is what all of us ultimately want most of all.

In short, they aren't going to mention Billy "J-E-W-S-" McKinney, but they still stand by him, so long as he can get out the vote.

Funny thing, I heard a lot of crude Jewish jokes growing up, and blacks told them more often than whites. And I never heard the boss referred to as "the Jew" to describe him being cheap except from blacks. Of course, then I moved to Europe, and that is a whole different story.

Friday, November 01, 2002

National Review remains wedded to government monopoly
The Corner is on one of its subscription binges. No problem with that; I have subscribed for over a quarter century, and a big blog has to pay its way. But living overseas, I am finally planning to drop my subscription. It just takes too long to work its way overseas. I get two issues together, once a month, about two months late (the August 12th issue arrived a couple of weeks ago), and yes, there is air express, but I don't have a first born to sell to pay for that. The folks at the Weekly Standard issue the magazine as a handy pdf file. Other magazines put all their stuff up online in a subscription only area. National Review sadly remains wedded to the government postal monopoly.
More depressing news
First Richard Posner weighs in with the information that he has a cat. Then Instapundit weighs in. After noting that Barney Frank had trashed Alex Sander's comment ["His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so."], Instapundit says with respect to Frank's remarks:
I agree. Unless, of course, Sanders was talking about the Shih Tzu, in which case his comments are entirely understandable.
This link is to a picture of my wife and me with the only kind of pet worth having.
Bad days for Republicans
The reliable Iowa political markets puts (as I write this) these prices on control of Congress:
Republicans control both houses: 23.0 cents
Republicans control just the Senate: 4.2 cents
Republicans control just the House: 44.5 cents
Republicans lose both houses: 27.5 cents

Are Americans so indifferent to their safety and liberty that this could be accurate? I am depressed.

Why the Guardian is better than the Independent
The Guardian takes an entertaining shot at the vastly over-rated Turner prize.:
It is only because of the wheeze of naming it the Turner prize - even though Turner himself was too good a painter to have any chance of making it to the short list - that the event generates such publicity. We need the Turner prize as much as it needs us.
The Guardian is voice of Britain's Labour Party. Often dull, offensive, and stupid, and then capable of bursts of wit and intelligence. The Independent is for the kinds of people who join the Liberal Democrats. It is not just that the Liberal Democrats are more left than much of Labour. They draw the thoroughly insufferable prigs. The Guardian is a paper for left wingers. The Independent is for the kind of snobs who tell you they have risen above mere politics, above the crass distinctions of left and right. They are the genuinely independent thinkers. The third-way silliness of Tony Blair is nowhere near this pompous and arrogant.

I'll put it another way. If an American meets a Labour man (especially old Labor), the Labour man will call him a fascist, imperialist son-of-a-bitch, then buy him a pint. The creepy types from the Liberal Democrats will wrinkle their delicate noses and walk away. I have worked with both, and the Guardian types are so much more tolerable.

Robert Fisk, journalist?
Robert Fisk is now drooling over Mohamed al-Chalabi, wanted by Jordanian police in connection with the murder of Laurence Foley. Fisk claims that although the Jordanian authorities claim he is on the run, the Jordanian police are simply afraid to enter Maan. I would not be surprised if this were true, but Fisk's defense of his claim fascinates me. He writes:
MrChalabi [sic] is a just a phone call away. Far from being on the run, he was yesterday morning sitting, wounded, in his father's home in the Jordanian city of Maan
He then closes his piece with this bit:
So is it true that the King's writ does not run in Maan? It seems so. For if it does, how come I could talk to Mohamed al-Chalabi yesterday?
This is reporting? Was al-Chalabi on a cell phone, in which case we would have only Chalabi's word for where he was. Fisk doesn't say. Did he even ask? Did Fisk confirm that Chalabi was wounded, or did he just take Chalabi's word for it? Fisk doesn't say. He is too busy drooling over his latest possible killer (Is this behavior Fisk's sublimation of impotence? Gee, we can all be Robert Fisks, and answer questions by just asking them with a bit sarcasm rather than actually looking for facts.)

Fisk tells al-Chalabi's side of his encounter with the Jordanian police, but says only that after he was wounded, some people on the road got him into a car and drove him to Maan. Fisk remarks:

The moment Mr Chalabi jumped out of the car, the police opened fire on him again, this time hitting him twice.
"The people of Maan were standing at the checkpoint – including the lorry drivers who have been blocking the road," he said. "They got me into a car and took me to hospital and, once I'd been treated, I went to my father's home."
These were clearly more than just casual passers-by. Fisk doesn't bother mentioning the wounded policemen. Would mentioning that both sides were armed detracted from Fisk's poor-innocent-little-victim game? [Another sarcastic question answers itself. This is so cool.]
A pox on the French government
Charles Krauthammer uses a column on Iraq to take well-aimed shots at the French government. My puzzle is this. The press routinely calls the current French government conservative or center-right. They also call the current British government liberal or center-left. But Chirac, not Blair, is the one pandering to totalitarian thugs, a specialty of the left.
Eugene Volokh has a post on public universities banning insensitive behavior by fraternities. Once again, a fraternity hosts a party where some white kids put on black face. This sort of behavior is a weak point in defense of free speech. Volokh points out that it has constitutional protection. The problem, put insensitively, is that these kids are just plain stupid. We had an incident like this when I taught at Northern Illinois University. It followed the usual pattern. White frat boys put on black-face skit. Black kids bitch. The garbage that usually runs government-owned university declares it is shocked, and imposes penalties. Stupid white frat boys say they are shocked anyone was offended, gripe about penalties, and then do absolutely nothing else. No lawsuit. Why do these kids not learn? If you aren't prepared to go to court to defend your rights, then don't do black-face routines. And if you do the routines, go to court and kick the shit out of the administration. But they rarely do, and so the garbage that runs government schools gets to set precedent after precedent of intimidation.
Where has Fisk gone?
Israpundit reports on a the Lebanese police cracking down on an anti-Syrian demonstration. Where is the Robert Fisk column denouncing this?

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Hot air
This morning, I left the house about 5 to take my wife to the airport for a flight to the States. It took us roughly 2 1/2 hours to drive to Shannon airport, next to Limerick, on Ireland's west coast. We could have driven to Cork airport in 20 minutes, but Cork airport doesn't handle international flights. It could, but the government forces international flights into Shannon or Dublin. This (purportedly) protects the tourist business in the west of Ireland from competition from the east of Ireland. But it also means that people travelling in and out of Ireland have to drive substantial distances just to catch flights. Ireland is one of the countries that has made grand gestures over approving the Kyoto Treaty to save the world from global warming. Yet all this carbon monoxide is being pumped into the air by a government claiming to be protecting the environment, but is primarily looking out for its political base. Once again, Europe is hot air.
Anti-Zionist raves
I discovered an interesting blog, Haggai's Place, run by a grad student in mathematics at Michigan (hint: this is not the way to get a dissertation finished, although it may help to protect his sanity in the interval). He has a report on one of Michigan's increasingly stupid anti-Zionist raves.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Food is more than just food
In "The Starving Criminal",Theodore Dalrymple talks about food and the breakdown in normal human relationships. He doesn't just talk about the quality of food, he talks about how it is eaten. Talking about a prisoner he interviewed:
In fact, he told me that he had never once eaten at a table with others in the last 15 years. Eating was for him a solitary vice, something done almost furtively, with no pleasure attached to it and certainly not as a social event. The street was his principal dining room, as well as his trash can: and as far as food was concerned, he was more a hunter-gatherer than a man living in a highly evolved society.
Leon Kass was on to the same problem in The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of our Nature
Europe gets even worse
Theodore Dalrymple talks about crime in Paris, a city where the judges think the criminals are the victims.
[S]uch an arrest would retard their careers. The local police chiefs were paid by results—by the crime rates in their areas of jurisdiction. The last thing they wanted was for policemen to go around finding and recording crime.
Paris is hardly unique in this respect throughout Europe. Dalrymple is one of the best authors on crime around. Read the whole thing.
Not Jewish, Pro-Israel
Israpundit has a post on non-Jewish groups backing Israel, and it includes a brief discussion of bloggers who are not Jewish and back Israel (I count this blog in that group).
Diamonds are a girl's best friend
Daniel Drezner and Brad DeLong are both worked up over diamond engagement rings. They link to a column by Andrew Tobias advocating dumping the ring. Drezner even falls back on Thorstein Veblen to suggest Tobias' scheme won't happen.
But Drezner need not go back to Veblen, because a far more coherent explanation is available from Margaret Brinig, a law professor at the University of Iowa. In "Rings and Promises", in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization [vol.6, no.1, Spring 1990], she explains that diamond engagement rings were a response to the end of breach of promise to marry suits. Roughly, men wanted sex without waiting for marriage, but when women's virginity was valuable, women demanded a secure promise of marriage in exchange. With the end of breach of promise suits, a diamond ring was a performance bond. Brinig shows that use of diamond engagement rings fell as virginity fell in value with the rise of modern birth control. (An extract from the paper, which offers a better and longer explanation, is available here.)
But the social scientists are behind the old songs (I quote here from a Julie London CD I have on):
A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
A kiss may be grand but it won’t pay the rental
On your humble flat
Or help you at the automat.
Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end.
But square-cut or pear-shaped
Those rocks don’t lose their shape.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
There may come a time when a hard-boiled employer
Thinks you’re awful nice
But get that ice or else ‘no dice’.
He’s your guy when stocks are high
But beware when they start to descend.
It’s then that those louses
Go back to their spouses.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
A Robert Fisk speech
Robert Fisk showed up for a speech at my university, and it was a fascinating experience. The university is not posting Fisk’s speech (unlike the other speeches in the series), so here all I want to do is give an idea of what three hours of Robert Fisk is like.
First, a comment on why the speech isn’t posted. Fisk would not give the university a copy of the speech, although he read it. The university’s audio-visual department did not record it either, which is an interesting tale. The head of AV was set to record it, when a member of the university’s public relations office came down to the theatre and told the head of AV that Fisk would not permit taping. Afterwards, PR said there was a misunderstanding: Fisk would not allow the question and answer period to be taped. Even with a fawning audience, he wouldn’t tolerate a record of any sort of embarrassment.
After an embarrassing introduction by the university president (he is an engineer, so maybe he has no clue who Fisk is) in which he described Fisk as “one of the most uncompromising journalists of his generation”, Fisk bounded up to the stage, in a short-sleeve shirt (no jacket or tie). Fisk is arrogant, dishonest, and a gasbag, but he is not dull. For three hours I listened to his speech, and his answers to questions. I was disgusted, but never bored. If you are rich and want to pay for an entertaining clown, Fisk is your man.
But to the speech itself. He told us that September 11 did in fact not change the world; the assertion was simply a lie that Bush was using for “cynical manipulation of grief and fear”. (It was, by the way, a regular feature of Fisk’s speech: people who disagreed with him were lying or weaseling. Not mistaken; lying. It must be tough to be Robert Fisk, waking up each morning knowing that he bears the burden of being the one true upholder of truth, and yet still, he is forced to put his pants on one leg at a time). He attacked CNN for calling the war a “war on terror”. He was also unhappy about the war in Afghanistan. He told us, by my count at least four times, that thousands of civilians had been killed by US bombs in the Middle East. Moreover, there are mass graves in northern Afghanistan with over 1000 murdered Taliban, and they will never be investigated because that would require an admission that America’s allies are war criminals.
Then he moved on to Iraq. He assured the audience that the invasion of Iraq was simply a favor the US government was doing for Israel, because the Bush administration is heavily staffed by Israeli lobbyists, citing The Nation as his source. He also assured the audience that The Nation was the only way to get news in America unvarnished by the Israeli lobby. Did you notice, he asked, that Iraq wasn’t mentioned on September 11, or in the days following? This is his overwhelming proof that Iraq is unconnected to Al Qaeda (and he claims Bush is stupid).
He then moved on to the proposed post-war occupation of Iraq. He dismissed the Japan comparison as inappropriate. First he asserted that MacArthur was paranoid (which somehow made the Japanese case more workable, and he claims Bush is stupid). Second, he asserted that Iraq has no equivalent of the Emperor Hirohito. Still, he complained that Hirohito was left of the hook for his role in Japan’s atrocities during the war. So, although apparently it was a good idea to use Hirohito, it was grossly and unacceptably immoral, or something like that. (Wouldn’t it be grand to be Robert Fisk, and be able to be pure of heart, unsullied by having to make real decisions?) All this is by way of proof that an attack on Iraq is really all about oil; recall that Bush, Cheney, and Rice are all tools of the oil industry.
Fisk is a sensitive man; he does not have a thick skin for criticism. He talked briefly about his famous attack, and his equally famous apology to his attackers. He quoted Mark Steyn as saying “you would have to have a heart of stone not to weep with laughter” and boy, was he angry. He still isn’t over the humiliation of being caught out being rude to Judea Pearl, apparently not grasping that he was insulting Daniel Pearl’s father. He dealt with it by telling us all that Daniel Pearl would never have been as rude to him as Judea Pearl was.
Then he was back again to his gripe that no one wanted to ask the motives behind the 9/11 killings. If the police show up, he tells us, the first thing they do is look for a motive, but not on 9/11.
Then he is back to talking about Afghanistan. It was an easy victory, because the CIA built bin Laden’s camps, although later he says they were built by the bin Laden construction company.
And then back to his favorite topic: the western press as tool of the Israelis. Their use of the word “terrorist” is proof that the press is racist, because, he insisted, the massacre in Sabra and Shatilla that killed 1700 people (his count) was never called terrorist. [This falls into the "Instapundit gets results" category. At his George Mason University speech, he said that the press didn't use the work "massacre". This got picked up at Instapundit, where the error of his ways was shown up.] He insisted that Phalange militia were always called soldiers. He tells us "Journalists have gone out of their way to decontextualize the Middle East." After a brief digression to tell us that the suicide bombers attacking the settlements were altogether “reasonable”, he is back to assuring us that he is not merely a tool of the Arabs. He praised the coverage of the Middle East by Ha’aretz, and makes reference to the “arid wastes of Arab journalism” and tells us that he has been vehemently attacked by the Arab press.
He then switches to the Armenian Holocaust. The American press, he tells us, consistently tries to discredit the story by calling it a massacre rather than a holocaust, even though the only academics disputing any part of the story are in chairs funded by Turkey (no names given). The Turks get off easy because Turkey is an ally of both the US and Israel, and Turkey has a big lobby in the US.
And finally, before closing, he griped about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Then to the questions and answers, chaired by Fisk.
The first questioner was sent by central casting: she was French and did not have a question so much as praise for the French press, especially Le Monde, for being sympathetic to the Palestinians and hostile to the Israelis.
At this point, it was around 10:30, past my bedtime, and Fisk had been talking for over two hours, so my notes lose track of the questioners, and merely record Fisk’s sundry comments. He told us that the US military was opposed to war with Iraq, and the American people were largely opposed as well. He knew the latter fact because of the receptions he was getting on US college campuses, most recently a standing ovation at George Mason University because he was telling them the truth. Nonetheless, there is a vast difference between the views of Americans and the American government, because the US has become a “hoax democracy” run by the Israeli, smoking, and gun lobbies (but apparently not the Turkish lobby).
Asked who could replace Arafat, Fisk said Arafat won’t go while the US and Sharon want him out. Describing Arafat as a “corrupt little despot,” he remarked that while Sharon had Arafat locked up, there were articulate Palestinians defending their cause, who were shut down when Arafat came back out because Arafat only uses his useless relatives, not trusting anyone else.
Curiously, he didn’t join the usual the-Iraqis-will-fight-to-the-death crowd. He suggested that if the US invades, it will probably win, and win quickly. The only cause for doubt is whether Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, which Fisk says Saddam will use if he has them. Absent that, he predicted not only a quick victory for the US, but crowds of Iraqis welcoming their liberators from Saddam, whom he described as a monster. Then he went back to his gripes about the possibility of occupying Iraq.
He claimed that children in Basra were dying of cancer because of the depleted uranium shells used during the Gulf War, and that medicines for them could not get through the sanctions.
As we neared closing, a questioner accused the Irish Times, Ireland’s dull, respectable, and liberal broadsheet, of being part of the Zionist conspiracy because one of their stringers in the Middle East is David Horovitz, the editor of the Jerusalem Report. This bit of lunacy actually embarrassed Fisk. Fisk remarked that Horovitz was a friend, who Fisk respected, even though they disagreed. If true, Horovitz needs to get a better class of friends.
As the audience broke into a standing ovation, I went home. I had my whiff of a Nuremberg rally.
In praise of fat men
The Independent praises fat men:
The slim and the fit will inherit the earth. But what kind of earth will it be? "Dos't thou think because thou art virtuous," to quote the bard again, "there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Winston Churchill didn't do so badly, nor did Orson Welles. Two cheers for John Prescott. And three for Ricky Tomlinson and Robbie Coltrane.
I didn't think the twits who hired Robert Fisk had it in them.
The British Left still misses Hitler and Stalin
Paul Foot has a loathsome little rant in the Guardian. After a bit of bragging about standing up for surrendering to the Soviets, he repeats the standard line about the Israelis being worse than Saddam.
Every single charge against Saddam Hussein - that he has nuclear weapons, repeatedly breaks international law by invading his neighbours, and is a constant threat to peace in the region - applies tenfold to the client state of the United States in the region, Israel.
These people still miss Hitler.
The Washington Times reports that the Department of Defense is researching how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that last for three years. I don't see why they are going through the expense. They should just check out any school cafeteria; they have been serving them for years. (Seriously, the article makes for fascinating reading about the difficulties of making food for soldiers in combat.)
Israpundit picks up a bit of Euromoralizing from Finland.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

A casualty of the blogger wars
Amateur Economist has shut down, just when I was starting to read him regularly. I'm sorry to see him go.
Miss Manners, one of the great moralists, tells us that the popularity of Halloween stems from it being different from holidays that actually require good behavior.
Halloween is different.
You get to dress up, even making your own costume. Instead of the hypocrisy of acting as if you were a better person than you are, you can pretend to be someone else entirely.
It doesn't matter with whom you celebrate, because they're all in disguise. The menu consists of a steady diet of candy. Rather than getting presents for others and faking pleasure at what they choose for you, you go around getting what you want by begging and threatening. And the idea is not to meet others' expectations, but to shock them.
Miss Manners doesn't grudge Halloween celebrants their pleasures. She only wishes these were more of a holiday novelty.
Why specialize in sin?
The Washington Times has a piece on a mutual fund that focuses on sinful industries: booze, gambling, cigarettes, and defense. (Guns may be added later.) I find this puzzling. All of them are subject to regular attacks from the same sort of people, and so risks are likely to be positively correlated. This hardly seems like a good way to diversify risk, which is the main point of a mutual fund. I suppose it might work if the fund was the major lender to those industries, and so could take advantage of other investors refusing to lend, but that seems unlikely. Outside of the professionally morally pure, I would be surprised to learn that many investors care.
Andrew Ferguson has an article in the Weekly Standard on the latest book (Life, Liberty and the Defense of.Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics) by Leon Kass, one of the more serious people around. Kass keeps asking the question, "How shall we live?" and getting too many "who cares?" in response.
Talk is cheap
I have added a link to Kieran Healy's lefty blog, partly because he has interesting things to say and partly because I discovered he graduated from my university. Another lefty Irishman who leaves lefty Ireland for more conservative America. I think we call this revealed preference, a variant on talk-is-cheap.

Monday, October 28, 2002

The Guardian whimpers
The Guardian has a long, whiny piece on conservative Christians backing Israel. It isn't political analysis, it is class snobbery, as in
Roberta Combs, a grandmother from South Carolina who has the longest and most scarlet fingernails I have ever seen
Clearly, the children at the Guardian are upset. A combination of Jews and conservative Christians; how not PLU can you get.
Sea changes at the New York Times
After decades of Russia coverage that didn't improve much from the days of Walter Duranty's famous cover-up of the Stalin murders, the New York Times editorial page finally gets around to criticizing the Russians. Their advice: be nice. Than again, in their news story, the Times talked at length about the 117 (so far) hostages killed, and didn't bother to mention the 50 dead terrorists until paragraph nine. So how about more of that in their coverage of the war in Israel?

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Hands off my tofu
I won't bother being evasive. AtlanticBlog would happily join the vast right wing conspiracy if there only was such a thing. I haven't voted for a Democrat in over twenty years. In college, back in 1976, during the Republican primary, I organized a students for Reagan club (probably the only thing I have ever organized in my life). I have subscribed to National Review since 1975. So will Andrew Stuttaford over in The Corner please leave my decidedly not evil tofu alone?
What does Lopez want?
Over in The Corner, Kathryn Lopez expresses delight that Frances Kissling, head of Catholics for a Free Choice, an outfit that pretends to be Catholic. My puzzle is her question: "when will a school be secure enough in its religious identity to not invite people like that to campus?" It would help if she could clarify who "people like that" are? Does she want arguments about abortion ended at Catholic schools, or does she simply want cheats like Kissling banned?
Some people cannot be embarrassed
Jimmy Carter offers advice on how to deal with North Korea. No, really. I'm serious. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.
Just anti-Israel, really
Instapundit linked to a piece by John Tabin in the Northwestern Chronicle, an independent student paper at Northwestern University. My favorite line:
[I]f someone feels the world would be better off without the state where nearly 40% of Jews live, he likely thinks the world would be better without Jews, too.
Another silly professor alert
Diana Abu-Jaber comes forth on the pages of the Washington Post to bravely urge Americans not to be cowed by the Bush administration in Police State Amerika.
Our government appears to be disturbingly free of dissent at this volatile moment; even our media frequently seem docile and one-note; opposition voices are rare and marginalized.
Yeah, marginalized to the pages of the Washington Post. But she is brave, and she is confident that everyone is with her.
I have not met a single person who is confident about waging war on Iraq. A noted novelist recently asked me, "Do you know anyone who's in favor of this war? I don't!"
Wasn't it Pauline Kael who said she didn't understand how Nixon won in 1972. No one she knew had voted for him. Why do left-wing professor types, so many of the literary types who make such a big deal over imagination, have so much difficulty imagining that people not like them don't agree with them?

She wants freedom of expression, alright. She simply cannot imagine that anyone not under George Bush's jackboot would actually disagree with her.

But in voting to end the debate and give the president authority to use force against Iraq, the Senate's top Democrat, Tom Daschle, told colleagues, "I believe it is important for America to speak with one voice." After a decade of teaching writing workshops, the only times I have seen a class speak with "one voice" are the times when people feel frightened or pressured into going along with the loudest or pushiest voices in the room.
So if the class unites and stands up to the class bully, this is a bad thing? What makes it so annoying is the smugness of it all. She begins and ends her piece with a tale of painting her father's VW with a peace sign when she was in high school, and her father's decision to consequently get rid of the car (she doesn't explain why he didn't just repaint it).
He swapped his Beetle for a Lincoln and car payments, and he discovered some other, trickier all-American values -- luxury and comfort.
Perhaps the smug little twit will tell us how much Portland State University, where she is an associate professor of English, pays her, so that she can offer us assurances that she does indulge in crass luxuries and comforts.

By the way, she has an earlier piece, posted at Common Dreams, that reminds me why professors so frequently annoy me. It is a condescending little bit of advice to Bush about how to tell a consistent Iraq story, by someone who thinks waging war is as simple as a few clever lines.