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Terror and Liberalism

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria


Polyarchy by Robert Dahl

The Nazi Seizure of Power

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

In Association with

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck



Taking A Look At Clark

For those of you still unclear as to what Wesley Clark stands for, you might want to read this account from a Law professor at the University of Iowa who had the opportunity to talk to him about some of his positions. He came away impressed with Clark, as I imagine many will as his positions become clearer and more defined.

I'm certainly still a Gephardt supporter, but Clark is a strong second. I'd love to see a Gephardt/Clark ticket in 2004 up against Bush/Cheney. It would blow them out of the water. Everyone has suggested that Gephardt is the only one who won't be hurt by Clark's entry into the race. The reason that's correct though, is the same reason they would be a perfect ticket: Gephardt has decades of legislative and political experience, specifically on the domestic front where he has been a Congressional leader, while Clark has the gravitas and national security credentials to fill out what little there is of Gephardt's deficiencies.

Look at Clark, appreciate him, but recognize that his best position will be as number two.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 2:21:00 PM

Saturday, September 20, 2003  


A True Cub

You just gotta love Mark Prior.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 2:00:00 PM



Victor Davis Hanson is now equating George W. Bush with Abraham Lincoln, and General Wesley Clark with General George McClellan. Are you KIDDING me?

"If the news from the battlefield was not depressing enough, Lincoln wrestled with recalcitrant border states, draft rioting, simmering resentment against emancipation, budget shortfalls — and, of course, an upcoming election replete with an array of often really vicious opponents. Most prominently, radicals like John C. Frémont damned him for a failure of nerve. Copperheads turned to the diminutive, dapper, and glib failed general, George McClellan, who was willing to throw in the towel and accept a brokered stalemate. Lincoln, who had done so much to prevent war, was castigated as a warmonger with the blood of thousands of his hands. And this was in his fourth, not his first, summer of bloody fighting...."

"We are near the end of such a pivotal summer ourselves, the type that defines not just a presidency, but an entire nation for generations to come. After the spectacular victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, public ardor for the conflict is temporarily cooling. Because of the past recession, the effects of 9/11, the tax cuts, and the cost of the war, we are running up billions in projected annual budget deficits. Our own McClellans and contemporary Copperheads deride the president as a miserable failure cheek by jowl with major newspapers."

The war in Iraq is of equal importance as the American civil war? You're kidding, right? If not, let me continue the analogy:

- Yankee companies will go to Iraq to take advantage of the war-torn people there (see Haliburton).

- The economy of Iraq will take decades to get on its feet.

- The Iraqi leaders will be pardoned as long as they agree not to hold office again. You hear that Saddam?

- George W. Bush will be reelected and assassinated by a militant Kucinich supporter?

Good thing we cleared that up.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 6:33:00 AM



  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 10:41:00 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003  


Touring Turkey

After leaving Istanbul last Monday the other two students in my program group and I, along with our program director and his family, drove through the small European portion of Turkey, headed towards the Gallipoli peninsula. Of course, this being Turkey, when we were supposed to leave at 8:00 AM we didn't actually leave till 11:00 AM due to the tour company trying to pull a fast one on us and give us a tiny bus that couldn’t have possibly fit the seven of us – let along our bags. When we finally got going we headed out of Istanbul in a direction that was new to us, yet we were met by the same semi-urban sprawl that has made "Istanbul" now encompass the entire Bosphorus coast and a good portion of the northern and eastern coasts of the Sea of Marmara.

We arrived in the Gallipoli region at the perfect time of day for really feeling the enormity and intensity of the battle that had a substantial part to play World War I. The sun was moving in on the horizon over the Aegean Sea. We saw the waterfront graves of the brave Australian, New Zealander and Canadian (ANZAC) soldiers who battled their way up the rocky hills of Gallipoli against their Turkish counterparts in the Ottoman army.

It was eerie. Before going to that spot I knew almost nothing about the battle of Gallipoli. It is a place that is virtually sacred ground for citizens of those three countries, for it was one of the first moments in history that their troops had been sent to a part of the world where defensive interests were not the most importance. It was truly a world war.

We ascended up the hills to the area where Allied soldiers fought in the trenches with the Ottoman army from just eight (8!) meters apart. That is something I will never understand. World War I marked a horrific moment in the history of military technology when the weapons used dominated over the tactics that had predominated in the past, yet little was done to counteract the new means of destruction. Just as in France and Germany, as soldiers from both sides made their charge - a tactic that had been a staple of warfare for thousands of years - a machine gun would mow them down. Yet little was changed in terms of strategy and as a result World War I left the world with the beginning of a nightmare that wouldn't end until 1945.

Further up the hills is the legendary spot where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was struck by shrapnel in the chest - yet survived because the flak happened to strike the pocket watch in his breast pocket. Without that stroke of extraordinary luck imagine where Turkey would be today. At the time Mustafa Kemal was a minor officer, but his impressive ability to counteract the Allies advances - while his superiors guessed wrong - earned him grassroots fame and led to his promotion to Pasha (General).

After seeing Gallipoli at sunset we crossed the Dardanelles at its narrowest point - a spot that has seen the greatest armies of history cross on their way to another fierce battle and another triumph. Persian King Xerxes moved his army across to Europe at this point in 481 BC. Alexander the Great crossed his army going the other direction, at what is now called Chanakkale, two centuries later. It has always been an important site, and Winston Churchill knew just that when he organized a naval attack on the strait when he was British First Lord of the Admiralty during the first World War. History does indeed repeat itself.

After a night in Chanakkale where the air conditioner decided to leak on me in the middle of the night, we headed out for the site of the most legendary of all battles that have ever taken place in that very crucial crossroads of cultures and civilizations - Troy. There is little to see at Troy, just the crumbling ruins of nine cities stacked on top of each other. It is a place that requires a strong imagination, and a vivid grasp of the mythical/historical details as laid out by Homer in the Iliad. The foundations of the town are still apparent, some much more than others. One can still see the ramp that was the centerpiece of the town's commerce and, quite possibly, the ramp on which the legendary Trojan horse was wheeled in. Truly a sight for the imagination.

Continuing south along the Aegean coast, we arrived at ancient Pergamum. Wow. The Greeks knew how to build a defendable city. The Acropolis portion is situated on the top of what I might even call a mountain at a point where residents of the city would have been able to see an approaching enemy from dozens of miles away. The library of Pergamum housed over 200,000 volumes. It even caused a rivalry with the Egyptians at Alexandria who feared that their scholars would head to Pergamum if it were thought to have a larger library. Egypt even cut off supplies of papyrus to Pergamum to prevent it from overtaking Alexandria's collection. However, when the library of Alexandria was struck with a damaging fire, Marc Antony successfully looted Pergamum for its collection for the purpose of further wooing Cleopatra. So much for that.

Down in the valley below lies Asclepion, the ancient center for health and healing in this corner of the world. Most treatment options were little more than massages and "sacred waters," but the place earned a reputation as a healing center, especially during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD when the legendary Galen was its chief healer. There's even the base of one column which depicts the famous snake that we now see in the AMA crest. Just as snakes shed their old skin, so too will the sick shed their illnesses and continue to slither on... or something like that.

After Pergamum we drove for about four more hours through Izmir (nothing to see there folks, keep moving) and finally pulled into our hotel in Kushadasi around 9pm. Boy is that city a tourist trap. The entire town has been ruined by Europeanized hotels and resorts that line the otherwise good looking harbor. The hotel I stayed at was nothing but Brits on holiday. Ugh. It was so un-Turkish that the waiters all looked at us with shock when we actually ordered our food in Turkish. What a concept! Needless to say, Kusadasi is not my favorite Turkish town.

But things only got worse the next day. As we woke up around dawn, we were pleased to see no gigantic cruise ships docked in the harbor. That would mean Ephesus would be all ours and we could actually enjoy the historic center of the Roman Asia Minor province. But no. Right around 7am a huge cruise ship pulls in and begins unloading its 5,000 superficially-interested-in-Turkey tourists.

We got to Ephesus and it was spectacular, of course, but I could hardly enjoy it over the roar of the thousands of Italian tourists who had descended on the place that morning with us. Sure, I got my picture of the sculpture of Nike, the god of victory, but it now includes some 60 year old Italian woman who had draped herself over it. In the meantime I was knocked of the way by guide group number 17 as a tiny Italian grandmother pushed me out of her path.

I’ll stop gripping now, but my point remains: Ephesus would go on to loose its title as best ancient site in Turkey to Afrodisias in large part due to the hoards of superficial tourists who mobbed the place. And don't even get me started on the Japanese tourists.

The next day we indeed went on to Afrodisias, the ancient city that thrived throughout the Greek and Roman periods and produced some of the finest sculptors due to its proximity to a large find of marble just a few kilometers away. Afrodisias is largely unexcavated, which makes the possibilities for the future all the more mouthwatering. Even with only a fraction of the city excavated its still just as impressive as Ephesus, and with its 30,000 seat stadium its easy to envision gladiators and olympians alike walking out of the tunnel into the arena to the roar of the crowd. So if you are short on time, go to Afrodisias, not Ephesus.

That afternoon we continued on to Pamukkale where there are both the ruins of Hierapolis and the tavertines and terraces of the calcium deposits that have created what looks like a glacier. The white mountain is formed when warm mineral water drops off a cliff and leaves its calcium behind.

The actual tavertines and terraces were pretty interesting, if not painful on my bare feet, but for some reason Pamukkale is swarming with eastern European looking women who may or may not be "Natashas," or to put it more bluntly, Russian hookers. I don't know what it is about calcium deposits, but the eastern Europeans just can't seem to get enough.

After an 11 hour bus drive to Avanos in the heart of Cappadocia the next day, we were beat and hit the pool as soon as we arrived.

On Saturday we visited the underground city at Kaymakli and saw how several hundred people were able to live in the ground for up to three months while an invading army would be unable to find them. The ingenuity is spectacular. While certainly not comfortable for the people of the underground city (or for a tourist over the height of four feet) the place is an amazing stop in the course of visiting the endless treasures of the Cappadocia region.

In the afternoon we went on to Goreme where dozens of early Christian churches are carved into the ash chimneys that are Cappadocia’s trademark. Tiny churches filled with intricate frescos are all over the valley. Not much to say, but it’s certainly interesting for what it is.

We made a stop at this somewhat odd carpet store as well. We saw the actual creation of a few carpets and then saw the labor-intensive process of extracting the silk from the cocoons. I was amazed. It almost makes you want to pay more for the carpet just because so much effort goes into it. Almost.

The carpets were amazing indeed, and my two fellow students fell victim to the wonderful sales pitch. They each got amazing carpets - one got a good sized carpet that is made completely out of undyed wool. Its somewhat boring to look at, but when you know that the various shades of gray in the carpet are all due to combinations of spun white and black sheeps wool, its quite impressive.

Yesterday we made the depressing drive to Ankara – the city everyone has told us will be horrible. I have yet to actually see the city beyond the campus of Middle Eastern Technical University, but I'm not especially looking forward to it. Here's hoping Ankara can thrive on the same low expectations that worked for George W. Bush.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 1:25:00 AM