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March 26, 2005

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Top marks on using one of the most horrific natural disasters as your metaphor.

All class.

Phooey on that.

Top marks on using one of the most horrific natural disasters as your metaphor.

It can't have been that bad; Bush didn't feel a need to interrupt his vacation to address it. Invoking Terri Schiavo, otoh... now that would be crass.

Charles,

I don't get why you want to use natural disaster metaphors. Surely you approve of the spread of democracy? Is the point of the metaphor to prepare your readers to accept that democratization will imply lots of death and destruction?

Not to be outdone, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, as part of his slow-motion six-year long communist takeover, instituted his own land redistribution plan, intending to "rescue" lands he deems "unproductive".

I think you have Democratic & Capitalist confused!

Thanks for the link to PubliusPundit, very informative about events in Kyrgyzstan & the region. However, to me, this was something I hadn't known:

"Russia and the United States are certainly watching the situation closely, as both have military bases there, and both have a foreign policy interest in the country."

We have a base in Kyrgyzstan? Anyone able to point me to a link to get more info? I had thought that most of Former-Soviet-Central Asia was pretty much still a Russian sphere-of-influence. Or is this a post-9/11 expansion? Any others in the area we should know about?

Do you see the recent events in Bahrain as part of this pro-democracy trend?

Warships are Coming

Is this nonsense, or are carrier groups deploying?
Asked without prejudice, or strong preference, just curiousity.

Do you see the recent events in Bahrain as part of this pro-democracy trend?

I don't know whether or not he sees those events as part of the same trend, but I suspect that he sees last years events in Haiti as being part of the smae trend.

quickest link I could find for the US air base in Kyrgyzstan is here. We established it after 9/11, as part of the WoT.

I wasn't being snarky, just asking. It might be oversight. Also there are protests going on in Jordan which I don't know much about except it has something to do with the government limiting free expression in areas which used to be more open.

With liberty on the rise throughout the world can someone explain the retreat of liberty right here at home? Is there only so much of it to go around so if it increases in one spot it necessarily has to decrease in another? Or is it because our current administration makes intentional choices to reduce our liberties and the people go along with it?

If you doubt that liberty is decreasing right here at home just ask yourself: are you better off, freedom wise, now than you were five years ago?

Five years ago you could go to a presidential appearance wearing a t-shirt that showed support for a policy that administration opposed. You cannot do that today. We could probably list hundreds of ways in which our liberties are fewer today than they were before Bush took over.

For example:

- if you have a family in Cuba you can no longer visit them but once every three years.

- if you plan to travel outside the country you can no longer be certain of being allowed to return.

- if you compain about Bush to loudly and in public you can no longer be certain you can do so without a visit from the Secret Service.

- if you seek a grant you can no longer do so if certain words appear in the application.

- if you are a scientist your work is no longer considered value nuetral but is now subject to political correction for government acceptability.

- if you work for the federal government you risk losing your job if you speak the truth to congress or to the american people in areas of your expertise.

Why is this happening. Can you name any concrete meaningful ways in which we have had our liberties increased? Do they offset the loss of liberty we have experienced?

[I]Is this nonsense, or are carrier groups deploying?
Asked without prejudice, or strong preference, just curiousity.[/I]

There is one currently in the Red Sea, the Truman and one in the Persian Gulf, the Carl Vinson. There is also a pair of Amphibious Ready Groups made up of a amphib and various other ships in the Andaman Sea south of Thailand and the Persian Gulf.

Globalsecurity keeps pretty good track of troop and major ship deployments here: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/global-deployments.htm

I've asked you many times Charles. Stop posting about Venezuela or Latin America. You simply don't have a clue.


Here's a little clue. Who has greater electoral legitimacy, Bush or Chavez?

As for democratization waves the big ones were in the 80s in Latin America and Eastern Europe. In comparison nothing much is happening now.

I've asked you many times Charles. Stop posting about Venezuela or Latin America.

Sounds like a demand rather than a request.

but I suspect that he sees last years events in Haiti as being part of the smae trend.

Tweet! Mind-reading. 10 yd. penalty.

if you have a family in Cuba you can no longer visit them but once every three years.

And if your family member is a jailed dissident, how often will Castro allow visits?

Lots of snark and darn few cites. Pity; a real discussion might have broken out.

You really are ruining this site Bird ;)

but I suspect that he sees last years events in Haiti as being part of the smae trend.

Tweet! Mind-reading. 10 yd. penalty.

Tweet. penalty overturned on review of the tape. initial call missed the part where he said "I suspect". upon review, the statement is classified as speculation and not as an assertion. repeat down.

Lots of snark and darn few cites.

Well, as Winston Churchill said "This pudding lacks a theme". In order to get the ball rolling, how about this article?

Bird, you do know that Venezuela is a democracy, even though George W. Bush and his administration made it clear not so long ago that they would prefer a military dictatorship?

It must be a problem for pro-democracy anti-socialist types when a democratic country elects a socialist government... but you have to make up your mind: which is more important? Being in favor of democracy, which means a country can elect any government it wants to, or being anti-socialist, which means... well, Reagan's funding of terrorists in Nicaragua to fight democracy comes to mind.

I don't get why you want to use natural disaster metaphors.

I don't get the hypersensivity that liberals such as you and Hal areengaging in. Hypersensivity can be just as bad as insensitivity. This is a beneficial wave that is occurring since the destruction is focused on regimes that oppress.

I've asked you many times Charles. Stop posting about Venezuela or Latin America. You simply don't have a clue.

Not to put too fine a point on it, GT, but I'll post on whatever I damn well feel like. If you have a point to make about Venezuela, then make one instead preaching to me about what I should or shouldn't be writing about. Both Chavez and Bush are legitimately elected presidents. However, Chavez is continuing to exploit Venezuela's shaky democratic foundations, steadily shifting power to the presidency since the late 1990s. By the way, do you still think we're losing in Iraq, or are you still on extreme data selectivity jag?

Bird, you do know that Venezuela is a democracy, even though George W. Bush and his administration made it clear not so long ago that they would prefer a military dictatorship?

Iran's a democracy, too, Jes. So's Zimbabwe. Doesn't mean they're free. Venezuela's freedom is waning. Freedom is the end, not democracy. Democracy is only the most reliable means toward getting to a free society. Chavez, Iranian mullahs, Mugabe and others are abusing democratic processes and in the process denying more freedoms to its peoples.

The alleged Bush preference for a military dictatorship is an urban myth. Read the Caracas Chronicles for the truth of what happened in April 2002.

I don't get the hypersensivity that liberals such as you and Hal are engaging in.

Well, I can't speak for 'liberals', but the problem with images like that is that they conceal as much or more than they reveal. It also makes any discussion of them descend into talking about your psychology rather than the actual events.

For example, linking democratization with natural disasters makes it out that they have a certain inevitability which rules out human agency. Now, if you think that the administration deserves some of the credit, you are negating that with your image. You are also failing to credit the actual people who are doing the democratization, often at great risk to their own lives. I know, don't pick at the metaphor, it'll leave a scar, but it leads to sloppy thinking. I'm not getting on a soapbox here, but it's far too easy to end up talking about the metaphor rather than the actual facts.

I'd also point out that the Publius post contains the same sort of overstatement that leads to problems.

My fear, as we move further east and further down the line of totalitarian insanity, is that these dictators will go the way of Tiananmen Square.

I realize that this is shorthand for China and North Korea, but what about Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Phillipines among others? Failure to engage in the actual histories and backstories of the countries in question leads to overly broad statements about the freedom on the march and populations strewing rose petals before us. And we see where that can end up.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Charles, but you simply don't have a clue about Latin America in general or Venezuela in particular. You have repeatedly called Chavez a dictator despite the fact that he has won every election he has run and by overwhelming margins. If you don't know what dictator means pick up a dictionary.

You seem to like to read a lot so I suggest you read about Peron. He, like Chavez, was a populist and very popular president who came from the military and who pursued left wing distributionary economic policies and who exacerbated pre-existing social tensions. He, like Chavez, had a strong authoritarian streak that got worse over time, this despite the fact that he could easily win every election.

You throw around words like dictator and communist and you don't know what they mean. Chavez has been in power for several yeasr now. Why don't you compare what Castro had done at this stage in political and economic terms with what Chavez is doing. Here are some simple questuions to guide you:

Is there a free press in Cuba? Is a there one in Venezuela?

Are there private TV chanels that broadcast anti-regime shows in Cuba? How about Venezuela?

Is there private property and capitalism in Cuba? Is there in Venezuela?

You keep embarrasing yourself by posting on topics without any understanding of the basic issues.

In response to the questioon up thread asking why democracy seems to be on the retreat here... I had this fantasy last night that millions of Americans converged on Washington DC, carrying signs that said things like "Protect Social Security", "Preserve Our Public Lands", "Fund Medicaid," "End Torture", "Kick the Robber Barons Out of Government", "Reality-Based Community is the Culture of Life" and "Vichy Democrats--Stop Collaborating." It was called the Million Moderates March and people all over the world were inspired by the re-emergence of democratic values in the United States.
Well, you can always dream.

Bird; Freedom is the end, not democracy. Democracy is only the most reliable means toward getting to a free society.

I'd go for that. Which is why I don't support Nixon's attacks on democracy in Chile, nor Reagan's attacks on democracy in Nicaragua, nor the current Bush's attack (or at least, nasty remarks about) democracy in Venezuela.

Nor should you, if you honestly believe what I've quoted above.

You may not like Chavez's politics: but so long as he keeps winning elections (and those elections are, as independent electoral observers have certified them to be, both free and fair), if you believe that democracy is the most reliable means toward getting to a free society, you have to work with the person and the party that wins the elections - not attack democracy because you don't like the winners.

Charles,

It's less the crassness of the metaphor or the awkwardness of the phrase and more the vagueness that LJ points out that bothers me. It's kinda similar to asserting that "a specter is haunting [Eastern Europe and the Near East]."

I am genuinely curious about why so many revolutions and regime changes are going on right now. I suspect some part of the synchrony is due among other things, to Putin's actions in re-centralizing power in Moscow, to the spread of the Internet, to the gigantic lure of the EU, to the US administration's poking the hornet's nest in Iraq, fluctuations and opportunities in the oil market, and of course the emboldening of agitating groups by the succesful examples of others.

There are a lot of factors that go into what I agree looks like a general shake-up, and we'll see how the new regimes work out. But as we saw with that other "great specter," differences between countries' specific conditions and cultures can result in very different manifestations of even a unitary ideology. One place where a toppling of the current regime by popular action might be A Very Bad Thing is Pakistan.

I don't get the hypersensivity that liberals such as you and Hal areengaging in.

Over 170,000 people just died -- including friends of friends, I might add -- in one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history and you think it's "hypersensitive" to complain about using that metaphor? Had someone compared the spread of freedom to the flaming ruin of the Twin Towers, I doubt very much your response to their critics would have been "phooey on that"; show the same courtesy and respect for the dead here.

On which note, incidentally, I think it's appropriate to quote Dave Barry on the other problem with the notion of a "democra-nami". Obviously, read this mutatis mutandis:

Naturally it turns out that there is a small but vocal group of people who like, even LOVE, "MacArthur Park." After the survey results were published, these people wrote me irate letters arguing that this song is a masterpiece and that the people who hate it do not understand that the cake is a metaphor. This is known, in legal circles, as the "metaphor defense." My response is, okay, maybe it's a metaphor, but it's a really stupid metaphor.

[This was first noted by Gary Farber, IIRC, and has since been noted by many others. Still bears repeating, though.]

This is a beneficial wave that is occurring since the destruction is focused on regimes that oppress.

Wow. Just wow. I really am tempted to breaking the whole "spread-of-democracy-as-Terri-Schiavo" metaphors now; they couldn't be any worse.

Anarch, please supply a link! Google provided Dave Barry's report of the Worst Songs of All Time! but not to the follow-up you quote. TIA.

So, is it safe to say that Bird and many Revolutionary Democratists believe DEMOCRACY = DEATH & CHAOS, and this is rightious justice?

Anarch, please supply a link! Google provided Dave Barry's report of the Worst Songs of All Time! but not to the follow-up you quote. TIA.

Ah, that's the sequel. [Or perhaps the column on which the book was based; I can't tell from your description.] The original, though, is still the classic: Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs. I like excerpting quotes as much as the next guy, but I literally* couldn't stop myself from reading pages aloud to my friends; it got to the point where they were trying to physically restrain me (or, more often, trying to leave the room). I was literally* crying with laughter on at least three separate occasions; truly a book for the ages.**

* Both uses of "literal" here are, in fact, the literal truth.

** 15-75, to be precise.

"This is a beneficial wave that is occurring since the destruction is focused on regimes that oppress."

Charles, you'e being tone-deaf because there is no such thing as a beneficial tsunammi. And because millions of people are grieving their beloved dead.

It's not a conspiracy against you. Those are the reasons.

"Iran's a democracy, too, Jes. So's Zimbabwe."

These are fascinating claims, and they're completely untrue. Pretending to the form doesn't make something true, and you must know that. How you can claim these countries are democracies is beyond me. One is ruled by a theocratic Guardian Council and Supreme Leader, who have complete and utter control over all democratic forms beneath them. You know this; why are you claiming that's a "democracy"? The other is ruled by a dictator who has not eliminated all vestiges of democratic form (few dictators do). You know this; why are you claiming that's a "democracy"? They're not just not "free," they're not democratic; claiming otherwise is completely Orwellian. (But, hey, it's an interesting set of assertions to put on the record.)

I, incidentally, am the Queen of Rumania. (Hey, it's as true as saying that Zimbabwe and Iran are democracies.) Thank goodness for the wave of democralzheimers that is inexplicably, as an act of God, sweeping my land! Damn good thing none of my people needed any personal courage or to make any personal choices! (Remember: Democrats celebrate taking personal responsibility! Republicans don't, and attribute events to hands other than individuals! Watch and learn!)

"they're completely untrue."

It's "completely untrue" that Iran's a democracy? 100%? Nary a democratic element?

It's "completely untrue" that Iran's a democracy? 100%? Nary a democratic element?

That gives rise to an interesting question, albeit one that seems far too nuanced to sully in this thread: how many "democratic elements" are required to be a democracy? Can a polity be "partially democratic" in any meaningful sense of the word, or is "democratic" only meaningful as a binary predicate? For example, were the former Eastern Bloc nations "partially democratic", given that they did occasionally have elections or does that the fact that they were basically rigged mean that one can't use the term?

I'd say the (pre-Solidarity etc) Eastern Bloc countries were far less democratic than Iran, which has at least had (I guess while Gary was busy being crowned in Rumania) surprising elections, even if not for ultimately that powerful offices.

If we're talking pure democracy, I can't think of any such society - not Athens, not Switzerland - bigger than a village.

Gary: you may be the Queen of Rumania, but -- FOR ONCE I get to correct you, so I am savoring this moment -- I am Marie of Roumania..

Ahhhhhhh -- that feels awfully good.

Btw, I assert that Gary is logically excluded from being Queen of Rumania, being that he's male (ok, maybe a Pope or two got around this) but it's logically possible that Iran is not 0% democratic. However, my tendency is to think that things are either actual (100% probable) or not (0%) and that the questions Am I on Mars and Am I an Eldar are equivalent - but I'd guess a philosopher would find that dumb.

Rilkefan: Btw, I assert that Gary is logically excluded from being Queen of Rumania, being that he's male

That would not prevent him from being a queen, in my experience. ;-)

but it's logically possible that Iran is not 0% democratic.

True. I think there are elements of democracy in both Zimbabwe and in Iran, and - following my argument with Bird - I think that it's worthwhile fostering those elements. Free and fair elections are not the be-all-and-end-all of good government, but they're generally an essential element.

As in Nicaragua, where - with ferocious opposition from Reagan's administration - the Sandinista government organised elections in 1984, acknowledged internationally to be both free and fair, and further national elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001 (1996 marked by the first transfer of power from one democratically elected president to another since, I think, 1929): this despite the years of US-sponsored terrorism against democracy. Given the number of countries in the world where running free and fair elections is not even considered a goal, it seems counterproductive to attack countries that do run free and fair elections because the current administration of US doesn't like the government the people have elected.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Charles, but you simply don't have a clue about Latin America in general or Venezuela in particular.

GT, you're focused on the wrong thing. The issue is freedom, not democracy. Whether Chavez is popular or not, whether he survived a recall election or not, takes nothing away from the fact that he is implementing a slow-motion communist revolution, and that Chavez is continuing to reduce freedoms in that country. Just because a guy is a democratically elected leader doesn't mean the egomaniac is immune from criticism.

For example, linking democratization with natural disasters makes it out that they have a certain inevitability which rules out human agency.

Analogies to natural occurrences are made all the time, LJ. This is such a non-issue.

How you can claim these countries are democracies is beyond me.

Tell that to Juan Cole, Gary. Or Jes. Of course they're not real representative democracies.

So, is it safe to say that Bird and many Revolutionary Democratists believe DEMOCRACY = DEATH & CHAOS, and this is rightious justice?

No, NeoDude, it is not safe to say that. That false and wrong equation is not mine.

Charles, you'e being tone-deaf because there is no such thing as a beneficial tsunammi.

Whatever, Gary. I'm saying that the democra-nami is beneficial, and I explained why. There are waves of protesters and voters out there in many countries that were previously undemocratic and unfree, and they have and they are effecting change, and the whole process has been beneficial. Take it or leave it.

(italics begone!)

The issue is freedom, not democracy.

Actually, as you pointed out yourself above, "democracy is only the most reliable means toward getting to a free society".

Attack that most reliable means, and you find yourself without a free society. So if for you the issue is freedom, support democracy - even when you don't like the government that the people elect.

If, of course, you don't like freedom, then carry on attacking democracy - by comparing it to a tsunami, if that's the metaphor that suits you. I agree with those who have said it's more than a little tasteless, but it would appear that you do perceive democracy as some kind of natural disaster - it allows people to elect governments you don't like, rather than the security of military dictatorships who will make all the right anti-Communist or anti-terrorist noises.


I thought Iran is a theocratic republic, much like we are a constitutional republic.

In Iran, the Supreme Court is Islamic Clerical with powers over all other branches of government?

"I'm saying that the democra-nami is beneficial, and I explained why."

One might take the view that if far more people than not misunderstand a self-created neologism, it is useful to continue to insist that the mass of readers are wrong to misunderstand you, and you are right, or one might not. It's an interesting way to approach communication and persuasion, to be sure. Either way, do feel free to continue to criticize people for being offended; in the end, I'm sure that will be most useful.

I'm just curious, Charles, is the democra-nami always preceded by an Earthquake of Liberty? Or can it sometimes be caused by a Massive Mudslide of Revolution?

I'm just curious, Charles, is the democra-nami always preceded by an Earthquake of Liberty? Or can it sometimes be caused by a Massive Mudslide of Revolution?

No, usually by the discovery of large underground lake of Black Gold. If it isn't there, what's a little torture, massacre, ethnic cleaning/Genocide amongst friends?

Charles, please stop with the democra-nami crap. Most of us aren't objecting because of its blinkered triumphalism -- we address that seperately. The would have been just silly several months ago, which is fine, because hey, so is "blog," but these days it's vile.

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