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Free Sigarchi

The blog has logged 20,000 hits in six days… You folks connect. Thanks Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, Marc Cooper and Gonzo.org, et al.

Ted Shelton: thanks for leading the way.

The MSM over in Fog Town are having a chuckle because the comments get acerbic, even insulting. Truth comes in many forms. We need more of it in the MSM.

Vitriol can irritate, but it is often the price of freewheeling discussion and the discovery of important stuff.

It is curious how people perceive platitudes and extremism on my part when I perceive the same thing in them. Schopenhauer said that extracting truth from oneself required putting one’s mind on a rack and subjecting it to relentless interrogation—so prone are we to delusion and denial. Of course, the ideologues know nothing of such anguish because they rarely leave the refuge of their own tightly held identities.

Bloggers are a force. The established order of politics (EOP) and the MSM face a big challenge from this fearless army.  Tragically, in some countries, the challenge is met by enforced silence.

Arash Sigarchi, a 28-year-old journalist in Iran, has been sentenced to fourteen years in prison for criticizing the regime in his blog. Yesterday, the Committee to Protect Bloggers declared a day of action to support imprisoned bloggers everywhere.

I join in. We really need a powerful effort to make sure everyone knows and no one forgets Arash Sigarchi.

Regardless of political difference, we know that officials love to silence critics—even kill or imprison them. Journalists, bloggers, whoever raises the questions, must be defended. Everywhere.

February 23, 2005 | Permalink


d00d -- got an iPod yet?

Posted by: you_follow_trends | Feb 23, 2005 8:36:48 PM

I suggest to bloggers in undmocratic lands that they keep a list outside their country of people who abuse the citizens, as evidence in post revolution trials.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis | Feb 23, 2005 8:56:36 PM

So should we destroy Iran to insure freedom?

Posted by: brutus | Feb 23, 2005 11:04:33 PM

Humanity - as in the chaotic and splintered mass of us humans - is evolving. Okay, that's pretty obvious, humanity has always been evolving. The Church, the monarchies, government - all of it has existed to order us humans. There have been so many different kinds of order - some interacting, some conflicting, some coexisting. But now communication has evolved to a point where humanity can be totally intraconnected, and the impact is entirely significant. What's next? Your guess is as good as mine - but I do know that my mayor is in the blogosphere now.

Posted by: Pat McDonough | Feb 24, 2005 12:09:40 AM

Nice blog. I think you've got the format about right.

What would be really interesting to hear about are any ideas or interesting arguments you pick up from other blogs or even from your comments.

Posted by: Antoine Clarke | Feb 24, 2005 12:07:26 PM

Blogging is the most amazing phenomenon since the Internet itself was invented by Al Gore (*wink wink*). Where else can we speak our minds so freely and so publicly, and where else will we have people actually listening and taking notice of what we're saying? You are absolutely right that we bloggers need to band together to make sure that everyone has and maintains this wonderful and basic right to express how they feel and criticize the world around them regarding absolutely anything and everything, from the ground we walk on to the very institution that governs us. Kudos to the Committee.

Posted by: Blogbelle | Feb 24, 2005 1:40:57 PM

Why are you running for Attorney General, Mr. Mayor? Your services are required in another office. Arnold must go, and you are the one to remove him.

Posted by: James | Feb 24, 2005 1:45:26 PM

I know this isn't a response to your post, but I am really concerned about this. I've liked most of the changes you brought about to Oakland, my home. But now, I've got to ask... why is Walmart here? I just found out that Walmart is planning on opening a store right on the way to the airport. Is that the symbol we want greeting our guests? That Oakland approves of union-busting practices, of sub-poverty rates, of discrimination?

Posted by: sc | Feb 24, 2005 2:30:10 PM

I just read an interesting New Yorker piece on Wal Mart. I'm no fan of Wal Mart as a shopping experience, but it seems the marketplace democracy is to blame. People want cheap goods, and Wal Mart does cheap better than anyone. Their profit margin stays about the same since they pass the savings on to the consumer. So, if people would pay more for their widgets at other stores, Wal Mart might stay out of the game. Everyone could buy organic free trade Q-Tips at high wage leftist collectives with free homeopathic healthcare for all. So, if we get the majority of people to pay more money for widgets because Wal Mart is bad, Wal Mart will disappear. In the meantime, this store will probably provide jobs for poor people and bring more tax revenue to Oakland. So a vacant lot - or a retail spot? A poor family's meals -- or your ideals?

Posted by: Major Lou | Feb 24, 2005 3:11:13 PM

Populism is a vote getter, so it makes sense to be celebrating bloggers everywhere. But blogging can be slander and disinformation and promotion of badness just as can I suppose every other means through which one human can speak to others. If Goebbels were alive today he'd have a blog, and if all there were were blogs, there'd be no way to prove him a liar.I expect an advocate of curfews and strong policing realizes this, so if blog boosting isn't pure cynicism, I'd like to know the basis of his optimism, if only so that I can experience a little bit of it too.

Posted by: murky | Feb 24, 2005 4:01:59 PM

Jerry, welcome to the 'sphere.

Murky, re your comment about Goebbels: he *did* use the communications technology of his time, which was radio, and used it very effectively--as did his boss. There were no blogs at the time, of course...don't you think that if there had been (in the period before Hitler became chancellor) they might have made a positive difference?

Posted by: David Foster | Feb 24, 2005 4:26:30 PM

Kudos on the effort, Mr. Mayor. The blogosphere, as I'm sure you've discerned by now, is as real and nuanced as you choose to make it. I think a great deal of the reason so many of us have forsaken other forms of communication, education, and entertainment in favor of this particular form is due to the degree in which it leads us to examine our beliefs and the exhilaration and freedom that this self awareness brings.

The power we exercise by communicating in this way to everyone connected to the net is our society's ace in the hole. The dynamic forces we unleash in trying to get it right and make it better through give and take with other minds we respect is not to be underestimated - particularly when you begin to see the forces of repression continue to roll back in the far abroad, despite the snark and bile close to home, as well as the true evil and depravity we see in Iraq and elsewhere that we force ourselves to absorb along the way.

You've made a good move here - it feels genuine, and it keeps you real out here in Florida. At least that's one man's view.

Posted by: mezzrow | Feb 24, 2005 5:15:36 PM

Sooooo... this Schopenhauer goober sounds like he's spewing troll philosophy to me. When are we gonna band together to form an internet lynch mob and get him?

Posted by: JazzBow | Feb 24, 2005 6:08:27 PM

Long time ago when you were governor, you appointed a Ms. Gianturco as head of Caltrans. Her vehement anti-freeway policy cost you my support. Not because I think freeways are great but because her decision to shut down construction of the 101/280 interchange in mid project achieved absolutely nothing except drive up the eventual completion cost of that project when you left office. The unfinished interchange was a daily reminder to those of us who drove by it whom not to vote for come the next election.

Having said that, I was in Oakland a few months ago and thought downtown Oakland looked a hell of a lot better than Market St. in SF. So perhaps you've learned how to administer a bit better than your first time at bat.

Posted by: michael | Feb 24, 2005 6:16:42 PM

Is there a house troll yet?

Posted by: CERDIP | Feb 24, 2005 7:04:07 PM

But Jerry, your side can't win if bloggers are unfettered!

Those idealogues sleep like babies cuz they know they're right, don't just lie there worrying like you and me. It must be wonderful to live like that--kinda like being a Catholic.

Posted by: exguru | Feb 24, 2005 7:42:38 PM

I lived in CA when you were governer, I was a die hard liberal then, voted for you too. Things have changed since 9/11 for me and I did vote for Bush this time around. I still respect your thoughtfulness you always bring to political debate. Thanks for blogging look forward to following your blog.

Posted by: Joseph | Feb 24, 2005 7:50:41 PM

Hi Jerry-- Are you going to stop Randy Ward from shutting down Oakland Adult Ed? There are 360 teachers and 30,000 students wondering why you're so quiet? The 500 or so, teachers and immigrant adult students, that marched on the school board last night will be contacting you soon.

By the way Oakland Adult School is one of the few things in Oakland THAT ISN'T BROKEN (or in debt).

Posted by: Milt | Feb 24, 2005 8:08:44 PM

Dear Mayor:

John Quincy Adams was an unpopular president, and most think not very successful. However, his subsequent career in the US House of Representatives was long and highly successful. He ennobled the role of Congressman by serving there as an ex-president. Perhaps that's your role as well.
I look forward to reading your blog; best wishes.

Posted by: Stan T | Feb 24, 2005 9:41:40 PM

Interesting. Our politics are probably about as far apart as can be. Be that as it may, I recently had a major dust up with one of the larger right wing blogs because I felt they went after the NYT's when it wasn't appropriate. I say that because I want to be honest about being a conservative, but also to tell you I do not put ideology over principle. So, this question is not ideologically driven.

I can only speak for the right wing blogging community, but it already seems to be developing an elite. Consequently, so-called major blogs dominate thought and opinion as reported by the press to represent the "bloggers." And, of course, we also have our share of professional pundits amd celeb bloggers. Now, you are here on the left, as well as other prominent figures, I'm sure.

You have every right to be here. But doesn't it simply put the microphone back into the hands of a select few, again? You received, I assume, 20,000 or so "hits" in days. Joe Citizen has to work months for that. Now, blogger J. Brown will be read, interviewed, etc. But (a generic) you already had access to CBS, NBC et al. More and more, blogging is starting to look like the same old thing. Same faces, left and right, we have been seeing and hearing for years. Do you believe your "celebrity" counteracts the democratic nature of blogging? Or have you considered it?

I may as get this out now, as I am sure before too long the Internet wackos on my side (hey, you have plenty, too, don't laugh) will likely make this comment area impractical. And that will, in large part, be due to your notoriety, as well.

Best to you and yours.

Posted by: Dan | Feb 25, 2005 12:12:02 AM

You sound like an ideologue on the topic of ideologues.

But not to criticize; I think you are brilliant and remarkably bold for embarking upon this risky "Sunshine blog" (a la Sunshine Law) enterprise. It's one thing to express ones views unilaterally on cable news with nothing more than a jab here and there from O'Reilly et al; it's quite another to risk bombardment and wounds by unknown discontents. If L.A.'s Mayor Hahn had this kind of courage, perhaps he would be doing better in the polls today.

My most recent column is titled "Patriots and Parrots: Imprisoning Tongues in America." I understand 242 journalists around the world have been jailed for their words. This may not be the case in America, but since 9/11, we have become a land of parrots, with only one politically correct line—a salute to the flag.

Thomas Jefferson said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism," yet Ward Churchill, Bill Maher, the Dixie Chicks, etc. have been seen as traitors. Just as Arash Sigarchi, was silenced by prison walls, many in this country are silenced by a fear of retaliation, which necessarily leads to ubiquitous self-censorship. We need to keep the shelves stocked in the marketplace of ideas. Your blog helps with this.

I quarrel with the metaphor of Twain's mirror/Plato's cave/Schopenhauer's rack. It may make sense to examine ones essence and beliefs, but the exercise and outcome will necessarily be subjective. What is truth? If it includes the subjective, it if changes every split second, if it can never be accessed except by an omnipotent being, does it make sense to talk about it? Can we really extract truth or should we instead learn to live in a humble way, not judging or marginalizing others as extremists, etc.?

Anyway...the blog idea is great and 20,000 hits in six days is almost as impressive as the Megan's Law online database with 14 million hits in the first 96 hours.

If you get discouraged at any point, just remember what Charles Schultz said, "Once you're over the hill, you begin to pick up speed." (I'm not referring to your senior citizen status.)

Posted by: Charlotte | Feb 25, 2005 12:47:25 AM

I can't help but wonder why you're thanking blogs such as Instapundit and LGF. Is it just because they sent traffic your way? Have you even read the right-wing racist garbage that is posted on those sites? By providing links to them are your endorsing those viewpoints, or at least suggesting others go there?

Even I thought higher of you than that.

Posted by: scott | Feb 25, 2005 4:37:31 AM

Scott, FYI, Instapundit posts links to articles and commentary by Glenn only; LGF posts articles and then individuals' comments. If you find the latter disturbing, then stay away from Daily Kos and Atrios. And if you want flagrant bias here's something official from Belgium.
WHEN JOHAN VANDE LANOTTE, Belgium's Vice Prime Minister, goes to the toilets today, he finds the urinals in the offices of his ministry decorated with stickers. They show an American flag and the head of George W. Bush. "Go ahead. Piss on me," the caption says. Vande Lanotte is one of Bush's hosts in Brussels. Is peeing on your guest's head appropriate? In Belgium it is. After all, Brussels' best known statue is that of "Manneken Pis," a peeing boy.

The piss stickers, specially made to be used in urinals, can be seen these days in the public toilets of Belgian schools, youth clubs, and pubs. They were designed by Laurent Winnock, president of the Young Socialists, the youth branch of Vande Lanotte's Socialist party. Winnock did his creative work during his office hours, which would not be worth mentioning if Winnock did not work in the offices of Vice Prime Minister Vande Lanotte, as one of his press spokesmen.

Last Friday, Belgian television asked Robert "Steve" Stevaert, the Socialist party leader, what he thought of the stickers. It had not been his idea, he stressed, but he refused to distance himself from it. He hardly could, seeing as the stickers can be ordered for free through the party's official website. For Belgian television viewers the message was clear: Bush may be our government's guest, the ministers will greet him, smile and tell him that he is most welcome, but we all know what they think of the bastard.

For those who missed the
"subtlety" of the urinal stickers, Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian minister of Justice and one of the Socialist party's most powerful figures, let go during prime time on Sunday evening, as Air Force One was about to land in Brussels. "I would rather have had John Kerry visiting us," she said on television. When the interviewer asked whether it was not undiplomatic to say so, she answered: "No. That is how I feel about it."

Meanwhile, however, a citizen of Ghent, where the stickers had also been distributed, has filed a complaint with the Belgian judiciary headed by Onkelinx. "This sticker has nothing to do with freedom of speech," he says. "If I go to the gents in the pub nowadays, I am forced to pee on Bush and the American flag because it is impossible to miss this sticker."

Posted by: Millie Woods | Feb 25, 2005 5:13:12 AM

Thanks for blogging! Glad to know you're out here! Looks interesting. I'm a fan of Instapundit and LGF, who pointed me here, and I delight to see intelligent and insightful discussion. From what I see you are giving that. Great! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Jeff Moore | Feb 25, 2005 6:26:43 AM

Mr. Brown,

I don't always (or often) agree with your ideals, but I have a great deal of respect for you and what you are doing. It shows you are actually connecting with the voters, versus a standard pol who only shows up in their home district when it's time for a fundraiser. Bravo to you, sir, for blogging. You are leading the wave of what is to come.

Posted by: Lou Minatti | Feb 25, 2005 11:48:51 AM

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