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Clueless in Seattle


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Jonah Goldberg

CLUELESS IN SEATTLEWhen you pick up a newspaper and see American cops wading into a riot of American kids, in your gut, which side do you cheer for? You don’t know anything more than what the picture shows. Who gets your sympathy? Me, I’m for the cops. It doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind if I read something in the accompanying article that says the rioters were right. But on first impression, I’m on the side of law and order. Walk around your office, ask your colleagues: “rioters or cops?” The results might be interesting.

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I think this might be a cultural and political fault line that divides most of America. Most of the people whose ideas I generally agree with say, “cops.” It’s similar to a phenomenon the Lady pointed out to me a while ago:

Quick: What do you think of Alan Alda? Simpering egotistical touchy-feely jackass or sensitive man of the future? I’ve found that there is a high correlation between people who answer “simpering egotistical jackass” and people who can’t stand Bill Clinton. It’s not a perfect correlation, but it’s close. Similarly there is a heavy correlation between people who think it is good to hate the French and people who know what they’re talking about.

All that aside, when I picked up the Washington Post this morning the guy said, “Hey punk! Put my paper back!”

So, when I bought my own Post I saw the lead photo showing the forces of civilization battling with the forces of anarchy. And while my heart and my conscience go to the boys in blue, there’s part of me (no, not that part) that really hopes this thing goes on and on — so long as nobody gets really hurt or killed.

Why? Because it’s fun. As much as I hate throwing a bone to the hemp-worshipping bong warriors, they’re kind of right when they say they’re raising consciousness. Of course, raising consciousness is a loaded and bogus term. What they’re really doing is starting a fight. I like fights. They focus the mind and clear the decks of the detritus of old ideas.

Francis Fukuyama fires an excellent salvo in the “Battle in Seattle” in today’s Wall Street Journal (I’d link it but they’re still a pay-per-view operation, and I can’t even get a free online subscription from the bastards, even though I suck-up to them like Wayne and Garth at an Alice Cooper concert and have written for them a half-dozen times. John Fund, call your office). Fukuyama points out that globalization should love globalization — which explains why the title of the piece is “The Left Should Love Globalization.” It raises the living standards of the poor around the world and undermines the authority of corrupt elites.

The problem, which Fukuyama obviously knows, is that the Left doesn’t care. There are essentially two kinds of Lefties at this riot: the labor Left — the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters etc; and the loopy Left. The loopies are made up of such silly groups, according to Fukuyama, as Raging Grannies and Dyke Action (Good Lord, I hope there’s no overlap between their membership rosters).

The labor Left, understandably, wants to protect its own domestic jobs and that’s it. But the loopy Left would prefer that there be no humans in Africa, Asia, and South America at all if the only other choice is having them be prosperous, capitalist humans. I am dead serious. More and more I read about “direct-action” radicals who would prefer it if humans were simply done away with (note to self: If you keep reading magazines that use the words “direct-action” in a non-pornographic sense, you need to get new magazines). Humans are bad for the pretty animals, you see. And rich, healthy humans are really bad for them. So get rid of them.

There are zero-population-growth radicals who proudly boast that they are for “the non-violent extermination of humans from the planet earth.” The New Yorker recently did a long profile on a bunch of guys out West who have managed to marry post-modern literary criticism with radical environmentalism.

I think we should coin a new word for these people: Moonraker Liberals. If you recall the plot of the last passable Roger Moore James Bond movie, multibillionaire Hugo Drax decides that he must exterminate humankind while leaving the environment intact. How he does it is irrelevant. The fact is he was the ultimate limousine Liberal (yes, yes, I know we could call them “Twelve-Monkey Radicals” but they’d like that too much).

We can further explore Moonraker Liberals another time. In the meantime, there’s another interesting development emerging in Seattle. Matt Drudge points out that none of the networks are covering the mayhem live. Why is that? After all, the nets often say, “We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to take you live to Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where Mr. and Mrs. Connolly’s cat is stuck in a tree.”

We are constantly getting live, endless coverage of police searching parking lots for gunmen, NTSB hacks saying they have no more information, and nightly news anchormen proving they have hurricane-proof toupees. Why can’t we have live coverage of, in the words of the Washington Post, “the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in recent U.S. history”? (Drudge does a very nice job of cataloging the hypocrisy and extent of this silence).

But what’s the reason for it? Some see signs of collusion among the corporate giants who run the cable networks. Corporate values are pro-WTO, so they are giving the riots short shrift, goes the thinking.

Personally, I doubt that’s the case. If I had to guess — and it’s only a guess — I’d bet it has to do with the fact that the media doesn’t want to embarrass the administration. It wouldn’t shock me if White House spinners have been on the horn trying to convince the nets not to make a big deal out of this. They probably say, “Look, covering the riots is precisely what the rioters want you to do. Don’t be manipulated.” Of course, that’s a moronic argument because the press is manipulated 24-7.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how they explain themselves.

LOTS OF NEWS STUFF….Note: There was no G-File yesterday, but there is a brand new Magazine Arguments article [Link defunct] (by me) on Jacob Weisberg’s NY Times Magazine piece on the Cold War. Also, NR Online has a man in the streets in Seattle [Link defunct] reporting all. Also, we have a review of Bill Bradley’s foreign-policy speech [Link defunct] and an interesting item on Boris Yeltsin’s stroke [Link defunct]. Yes, stroke. ….AND A REQUESTSo, for the last few months I’ve been writing a column for Brill’s Content (Yes, that Brill’s Content. I’m glad for the work, and even though I’ve disagreed with Steven Brill on some big things, he has always been very decent to me personally). They trot me out to do this intellectual Three Stooges slap fight with this guy Jeff Cohen from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). The feature we write is called “Face Off.” It’s sort of a Crossfire about the media. At the top of the page there is a cheery drawing of my opponent smirking at me from across the headline. I, on the other hand, look like a KGB agent who hasn’t eaten nearly enough bran.

Cohen is the director of FAIR. This is an organization which works on the assumption that the media is too kind to conservatives and that PBS is a hotbed of anti-leftist bias. No really, I’m not making this up. Look at this little item I found on their website:

“FAIR studies have consistently found that the sources, hosts, and guests on public television news and public-affairs shows overwhelmingly represent corporate and conservative interests, while the voices of women, people of color, labor, environmentalists, consumer advocates, the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community, and other public interest constituencies are marginalized.”

It’s like an excerpt from a term paper my Doppelgänger wrote in the anti-matter universe where Spock has a goatee and the French fight to the last man. Now, even if I think they are as high as my Webmaster after his disability check clears, it’s obvious they have resources I don’t have. He’s got staff. (Though I’m sure he’s a little shorthanded this week, what with the entire office dressing up like sea turtles and heading off to Seattle). Still, all I’ve got by way of a staff is a Couch with an ever-expanding crater in the middle where my ever-expanding Dershowitz, oops, I mean ass, goes. Even when my Couch is working he’s more surly than a teamster with a workmen’s comp claim pending.

But then I remembered I have a better staff than he could ever have. I have what some at NR call my “flying monkeys.” These are the super-smart, hyper-media-savvy people who read the Goldberg File. My readers are stronger, faster, and meaner than any patchouli-soaked cabal of earth firsters and alternates to the NARAL auxiliary committee. So, I’m asking you guys for regular help. I’ve just finished my column on the media’s coverage of gun control, so please no more about that. But my next assignment is how the media covers the economy.

If you’ve seen any specific examples of media buffoonery on this score, let me know. Please keep in mind that I must, must, must be able to document any factual assertions. For if there is anything that strikes more fear in the heart of a lazy writer like myself it’s the words, “Hello, I’m the fact checker from Brill’s Content, I’m here to help.”



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