Gibson Kicks the Blogging Habit.

//' cannot be displayed]“Writing novels is pretty solitary, and blogging is very social…” “I think it’s in its last couple of weeks. I do know from doing it that it’s not something I can do when I’m actually working. Somehow the ecology of writing novels wouldn’t be able to exist if I’m in daily contact. The watched pot never boils.” Wired.

Pattern Recognition was a brilliant distillation of the zeitgeist. I actually didn’t find the weblog that compelling.. So if it’s a shooting match between that and his next novel, you know where I stand.

Fuzzy Math on Iraq:

“There has been a lot of talk in Washington about refashioning Iraq into a prosperous, tolerant democracy that can serve as a model for the Middle East. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much plain speaking about how much that is going to cost. That’s because the honest answer isn’t something American taxpayers want to hear. The hard numbers just don’t support the White House’s rosy claim that once this year’s American aid package of $2.5 billion is paid out, Iraq’s oil sales will pay all the bills.” NY Times editorial

Fury as U.S. Strips Thieves:

America was at the centre of a new human rights row last night after four alleged Iraqi thieves were paraded naked in a Baghdad park by US troops.

The degraded prisoners had the words “Ali Baba, Haram” – “Thief, Unclean” – scrawled in Arabic on their chests.

The humiliating spectacle of young men running to hide their shame was captured by a photographer for Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper, which quoted a US officer as saying the deterrent was effective.

Last night Amnesty International in London criticised the inhumane treatment and promised to raise the matter urgently with the United Nations next week. Mirror/UK

Rolling Back the 20th Century

George W. Bush, properly understood, represents the third and most powerful wave in the right’s long-running assault on the governing order created by twentieth-century liberalism. The first wave was Ronald Reagan, whose election in 1980 allowed movement conservatives finally to attain governing power … Reagan unfurled many bold ideological banners for right-wing reform and established the political viability of enacting regressive tax cuts, but he accomplished very little reordering of government, much less shrinking of it. The second wave was Newt Gingrich, whose capture of the House majority in 1994 gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time in two generations. Despite some landmark victories like welfare reform, Gingrich flamed out quickly, a zealous revolutionary ineffective as legislative leader.

George Bush II may be as shallow as he appears, but his presidency represents a far more formidable challenge than either Reagan or Gingrich. His potential does not emanate from an amiable personality (Al Gore, remember, outpolled him in 2000) or even the sky-high ratings generated by 9/11 and war. Bush’s governing strength is anchored in the long, hard-driving movement of the right that now owns all three branches of the federal government. Its unified ranks allow him to govern aggressively, despite slender GOP majorities in the House and Senate and the public’s general indifference to the right’s domestic program.

The movement’s grand ambition–one can no longer say grandiose–is to roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal’s centralization… — William Greider, The Nation

Greider goes on to analyze the appeal and the danger of this wacky, simplistic but insidious grand agenda, the failure of the left-liberal camp to take it seriously or mount a reasonable response, and what might be done in answer.

Related: A War on Enlightenment:

“After more than a century of expansion of the concept that everybody deserves human rights, we now seem to be — temporarily, at least — slipping backwards.” — Adam Hochschild, AlterNet