Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Red Peril

"Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist."

Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

Your friendly non-Chomskyan commenter.

I think your point here is pretty well taken. I would note, though, that I have met libertarians - as that term is understood in the US - who hold that what is buried in the ground cannot be understood simply to be owned by the owner of the overlying land. As a result, I have heard such people argue that returning such money to the public is not socialism but, instead, payment due for use of public resources.

I am not so sure that such view makes sense. Then again, pure libertarianism, in its US form, does not make much sense because it is not a coherent position. In that regard, it has much in common with pure socialism which, like pure libertarianism, sounds nice when thought of as a generality but runs into trouble when it has to deal with the world that actually is.

Thursday, October 30, 2008 1:09:00 PM  
Anonymous JamieSW said...

some off-topic lolage:

God, it's just embarassing that he's even taken seriously.

Thursday, October 30, 2008 6:46:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

The man's a clown. You could almost pity him, but the repugnant manner in which he's conducted himself these past few months leaves little room for that.

Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:31:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

btw, to see just how desperate McCain's got, and how low he's sunk, let Juan Cole talk you through the latest little performance

Thursday, October 30, 2008 9:24:00 PM  
Anonymous JamieSW said...

Yeah, I just watched Hannity & Colmes send a reporter and cameraman to pounce on Khalidi as he was getting into a lift, accusing him of being a spokesman for the PLO. He refused to answer, but Hannity proceeded to brand him a "terrorist" anyway.

The Democrats are responding by accusing McCain of sending money to Khalidi as well - in other words, they aren't challenging the basic premise that Khalidi is a terrorist or terrorist-sympathiser. This is the line Olbermann and Maddow took yesterday, for example.

As Cole notes, the only reason anyone could have for thinking Khalidi is a dangerous radical is his Palestinian ethnicity. It's racism pure and simple. The one bright spot is that Obama *does* appear to have "palled around" with him, even if - sadly - he doesn't do so any more.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:36:00 AM  
Anonymous JamieSW said...

oh btw, it seems Joe the Plumber is old news. The gimmick of the moment is ""Tito the Builder". I don't think even McCain is taking himself seriously any more.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With due respect, JamieSW, Khalidi's connections with the PLO are well established. It is not his ethnicity but his politics which are the issue. And, people have a right not to side with the Palestinian nationalist version of politics.

In fact, Khalidi belonged to a six-person advisory panel which went to Madrid talks in 1991 for the exact purposes of serving as a conduit between the official delegation and the PLO, according to the October 23, 1991 edition of The New York Times. See

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:54:00 AM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

McCain himself may or may not be racist, but that's less important than the fact that he's attempting to play on anti-Arab racism.

McCain mutters darkly about how footage exists of Obama speaking favourably of this shadowy "Rashid Khalidi" figure; a man whom, were are told, had "links" to the PLO. McCain says that this is the equivalent of him being found cuddling up to " neo Nazis ".

For this smear to work McCain is banking on people not finding out the facts. Because when it turns out that Khalidi is in fact a highly respected US academic - educated at Yale and Oxford, currently teaching at Columbia - and that his "links" to the PLO amount to an involvement in trying to advance peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian side, the smear is immediately exposed for the very ugly thing that it is.

What McCain is banking on instead is that his talk of secret footage, neo-Nazis, the PLO and some guy with a foreign name will be enough to conjure up an image of some violent fanatic. That is to say, McCain is appealing specifically to the hard-right racist viewpoint that reflexively equates Arabs and Palestinians with anti-semitism and terrorism.

The problem with this dog-whistle politics - as the clown McCain has still apparently failed to grasp - is that its predicated on an erroneous view of the average American voter as intellectually backward and casually racist. His working on this assumption is one of the many reasons McCain's ambitions lie in ruins. Some such people clearly exist, but hardly more so than do in any other country. What we see from the polls is a generally reasonable and liberal majority who are increasingly unimpressed with the Fox/GOP brand of bigotry and spite.

Friday, October 31, 2008 9:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

What is known about Mr. Khalidi, who is not a shadowy figure at all, is that he does not believe in peace with Israel. He believes in its replacement with a different state. That position, in the US, is not deemed acceptable. It is deemed bigoted.

Friday, October 31, 2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

Well, anonymous poster, I guess we're in the familiar position of having to agree to disagree on something.

The Juan Cole post I linked to above directs readers to Khalidi's recent book, a half-hour interview on US TV with Charlie Rose (particularly good) and an article Khalidi has written for The Nation magazine. Obviously there'll be many other articles and interviews available on the internet as well.

I would encourage other readers of this thread to take a look at some of this, and decide for themselves whether Khalidi is a bigot who seeks Israel's destruction. Its not, I suspect, a puzzle you'll be agonising over for too long.

Rather more importantly, your efforts will be rewarded by an introduction to a smart, informed and eloquent scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So there's a happy if completely unintended consequence to McCain's oafish blundering.

Friday, October 31, 2008 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

Professor Khalidi has said a lot of things. And, in the US he says very different things than he has said to Arab sources such as Al Jazeera, where he has taken rather strident positions. Moreover, CNS news appears to agree with my view that Khalidi had close association with the PLO, noting more than one article in The New York Times going back into the 1970's. See Now, I am no fan of CNS. On the other hand, they are not making things up in this instance.

Note that Khalidi has good reason, at the moment, to deny his past allies. In the US, favoring the Palestinian Arab side is toxic politics. And, on top of that, having an association with the PLO - even if it was one of relationship, not true membership -, is unacceptable to most Americans - probably, above 90%.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:10:00 PM  
Anonymous JamieSW said...

Khalidi, as David noted, is no fan of the PLO. Along with Edward Said he has in fact been one of their most eloquent critics over the years. Several people who know him personally have stated that he was never a representative for the PLO - As'ad Abukhalil, who knew him in Beirut, Scott Horton, Barnett Rubin and Juan Cole. The one possible connection that can be drawn between the two is that in 1991 Khalidi was an advisor at the Madrid peace conference. The Palestinian delegation at that conference was in fact betrayed by the PLO leadership, which went behind their backs to secretly negotiate Oslo.

Finally, I'd just point out that even if this accusation were true, by any objective measure having ties to the PLO would be far less outrageous than having association with the Israeli government, which has engaged in terrorism and violence on a scale that dwarfs anything attributable to the PLO. Both Obama and McCain are, of course, on record supporting the Israeli state. In a sane world, that's what we would be talking about.

Finally, you claim that Prof. Khalidi "does not believe in peace". As usual, you can't be bothered to cite any evidence. Anyone interested can just direct their browsers to Google Video, type in Prof. Khalidi's name and watch a lecture he gave in June 2007 or an interview with Charlie ROse in which he explicitly and repeatedly contradicts your characterisation of his views.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:25:00 PM  
Anonymous JamieSW said...

"That position, in the US, is not deemed acceptable. It is deemed bigoted."

Be that as it may, the fact is that opposition to Israel's continued existence as a specifically Jewish state is a perfectly legitimate position, one that in most cases, far from evidencing bigotry, flows directly from a commitment to anti-racism.

That said, Prof. Khalidi's position is that both a two-state settlement and a one-state settlements have major drawbacks, but that since we're so far from achieving either of them it's a pointless, destructive discussion to be having at this point. His main problem with a two-state settlement is not Israel's continued existence; rather, he worries that we've simply missed the boat on that, with Israel's "facts on the ground" in the West Bank now so entrenched as to be practically irreversible.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous JamieSW said...

Josh Marshall sums it up:

"The McCain campaign has been throwing around so much mud and smears in recent weeks that it's easy to miss just how ugly and shameful their character assassination of Rashid Khalidi is. This is an entirely respectable, highly respected scholar. To go further into making a case for him would only be to enable and indulge McCain's sordid appeal to racism. For McCain, personally, to compare Khalidi to a neo-nazi, it's just an offense McCain should never be forgiven for. It's right down in the gutter with Joe McCarthy and the worst of the worst. Khalidi is in this new McCain set piece for one reason -- as a generic Arab, to spur the idea that Obama is foreign, friendly with terrorists and possibly Muslim."

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

Anonymous poster - I can only say again that I'm more than happy for people to look into Khalidi for themselves and come to their own conclusions. As part of that, they will of course make their own assessment of the CNSNews article you link to.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:45:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

To go further into making a case for [Khalidi] would only be to enable and indulge McCain's sordid appeal to racism. For McCain, personally, to compare Khalidi to a neo-nazi, it's just an offense McCain should never be forgiven for. It's right down in the gutter with Joe McCarthy

Thanks, Jamie. Yep. That pretty much covers it.

Friday, October 31, 2008 1:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

As I noted, in the US, those associated with the PLO are normally thought of as bigots. That is a fact. If, in fact, Obama supports the PLO, most Americans will turn on him if he is elected. Moreover, he has made specific promises to the US that he is Israel's friend and will do all in his power to protect Israel from her enemies. If that turns out to be a lie, he will lose support among Democrats and he will certainly lose support of independents. And, I would note: his funding efforts will abate.

Friday, October 31, 2008 2:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

Another point, the article I cite quotes articles in The New York Times and in The Christian Science Monitor, both of which thought Khalidi was connected with the PLO. The article points, for example, to this extract from The New York Times:

Moreover, it states the following:

On January 6, 1981 the Christian Science Monitor quoted Khalidi – a professor of political science “with good access to the PLO leadership” – in a report examining the incoming Reagan administration’s Mideast options.

If a “hard-line anti-Palestinian view” dominated the Reagan administration, he said, then “[t]he PLO will probably perceive the new administration as basically hostile – possibly more hostile than the Carter administration.”

In addition:

On June 9, 1982, three days after Israel invaded, another Friedman report for the New York Times described Khalidi as “a director of the Palestinian press agency, Wafa,” and quoted him as saying the Israelis were out to “crush the PLO.”

Wafa was a PLO-owned and PLO-funded news agency. Khalidi’s wife, Mona, worked for Wafa when they lived in Beirut. She currently works for Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Is anything in the CNS article contrary to fact? Or, are you taking the view that nothing in CNS could be true, even when it quotes The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor?

Come on, Mr. Wearing, we are dealing with facts. He was clearly associated with the PLO. This is shown by a plethora of evidence.

Friday, October 31, 2008 3:57:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

anonymous poster - you're clearly keen to have an argument with me on this and I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I've nothing to add to my last two posts.

Friday, October 31, 2008 5:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

Come now. Either the papers have correctly stated things or not. I am not looking for an argument. I am pointing out that what you are writing is contradicted by what appears in two of the most prominent papers in the United States. And note: The New York Times is among the most prominent papers, if not the most prominent paper, in the world - the paper of record in the US.

So, I am not looking for an argument. I am looking for you to be an honest blogger, admitting when there are facts which undermine an assertion.

That is not asking much. Why not try it? It will improve your credibility.

Friday, October 31, 2008 5:14:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

anonymous poster - I guess if you don't see me as credible I may just have to live with that.

That's all from me on this topic, but feel free to carry on posting here if that's what you want to do.

Friday, October 31, 2008 5:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wearing,

To reiterate: it is an undeniable fact that two main news outlets in the US, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor, saw Khalidi as being closely connected with the PLO.

And, such was the case over an extended period, beginning in the late 1970's, with no request ever from Professor Khalidi to correct the record.

So, I leave it to the reader to see if you are making any sense here.

Friday, October 31, 2008 5:43:00 PM  

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