The Last Honest Progressive In America
From the introduction to The Last Honest Place In America - Paradise and Perdition in the New Las Vegas:
"The panorama unfolded as a wall of purplish-brown mountains with rose-ochre skirts to our right, rippling mahogany hills to our left, and straight in front of us, the sandy desert flats of pastel beige, tangerine, and pink stretching through Ivanpah Valley and then ever deeper into Nevada. The black stripe of Interstate 15 ripped right through it's heart and on the hottest of summer days the smell of the bubbling, sticky asphalt would pour right into the cab of our red Plymouth Valiant."
I've driven that road & I've seen the colors, I've never seen it described as well. The author of the above is Marc Cooper, progressive blogger, journalist, radio host, essayist, contributing editor to The Nation, author of the best selling memoir Pinochet and Me: A Chilean Anti-Memoir and Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter.
Cooper is that rare bird (from a conservatives point of view) an honest progressive and though I almost always disagree with his progressive points of view, I have come to like him a lot. The title of this blog entry is, as you will no doubt discern, taken from his latest book.
Cooper was raised in Los Angeles where his father was a steel salesman. His career as an author/journalist began in high school where he founded an underground newspaper. Those of us remembering the 60's know that "underground" was automatically assumed to mean "radical;" and so it was. Graduating from high school, Cooper enrolled in that great bordello of ultra liberal values The University of California System. There, he began engaging in anti-war activities and was expelled by order of Then Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971.
Cooper traveled to Chile where he became a translator for President Salvador Allende who had been elected president in 1970 by an arrangement of the Chilean Congress as per their constitution when Allende led the vote, but with only 36% of the vote. Allende was a socialist and pursued a policy of reform he called "La vía chilena al socialismo" ("The Chilean Way to Socialism"). Cooper became not only Allende's translator, but a staunch supporter of Allende's goals. Following the coup of September 11, '73, Cooper became a roving reporter, covering such diverse places as Lebanon, South Africa, Central and South America, Eastern and Western Europe. He developed also, an interest in American Politics. Norm Geras recently posted a profile on Cooper, a Must Read to understand this progressive iconoclast. Cooper states that he is an atheist, a position I find hard to believe given his intellect. I wonder how agnostics and atheists can look on the wonder of the universe, the absolute perfect beauty of dew on a spiderweb or the look of love in young folk and not be a believer. But, that is another posting.
I first came across Marc Cooper in May or June of 2004 when a blogger I have long admired Michael J. Totten recommended him. Since then, he has become one of my very favorite bloggers and I have grown quite fond of this rambunctious progressive. Cooper doesn't hesitate at all to take on the powers that be, regardless of who they are. He castigates Republicans and Conservatives (though, of course he is usually far off the mark), Democrats, liberals, other progressives, socialists, fascists, communists, castroites, trotskyites, indeed anyone he believes to be cowardly, stupid or cravenly, dishonest or not on the up and up. Cooper always explains his reasoning, usually with wit, sometimes with disdain.
Over the last few months, he has actively posted on such varying topics from the coming murder trials of Augusto Pinochet, to the idiocy of MoveOn's inability to understand that their candidate lost. Of course, as a conservative, I delight when he takes on the shibboleths of the left. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately depending on your point of view, he doesn't spare the right either as noted here and here. In the last example however, I believe that Cooper was premature and mistaken. The genesis of his blog posting was the MSM's complaint that President Bush did nothing for three days following the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean. Of course, we now know that the first major rescue efforts to arrive were the US military, whose Commander In Chief has to give the order for such massive effort. Too often, the left, Cooper included, mistake style for substance, as in Mr. Clinton's famous biting of his lip, abject apologies and wiping of a tear showing how compassionate he was. He didn't do much, but he had all the right moves down.
Cooper is perhaps best, when he takes on the left. This is not unusual in that we seldom see a member of the port side of the political aisle castigating their fellow believers and so when it does happen, conservatives sit up and take notice. In much the same way, the left sat up and took notice when Senator Goldwater castigated the Republican party for it's Buchannanish stance on gays. Yet, Cooper has no compunction about skewering the left when he feels the left has lost it's way or exhibit their (all to frequent) feet of clay. In a recent posting, Cooper took on Soros and the other "billionaires" who plan to donate $100,000,000.00 to helping the Democrats build a "progressive infrastructure."
Cooper has his flock of regular commenters (I include myself in that mix) from conservative (me, John Moore, PJ, Woody, DennisthePeasant) to liberal (Rosedog, reg, steve, Michael Turner). He manages them fairly well and encourages each to be respectful to each other in bandying comments. That doesn't always work of course. Yet, he seldom "bans" commenters (though he has threatened to) - (has he banned anyone yet? - ed. - I'm not sure, I don't really know) even when they are repetitious and banal. After a number of tussles with another of his posters I wrote Cooper an e-mail saying that though I would continue to read his blog, I wouldn't be posting any more comments. He wrote back and said (in his idiosyncratic spelling) "Oh no u don't.. I love ur comments." It is the rare progressive that openly welcomes conservatives into their blogs, and, truth be told, equally rare for conservatives to welcome the progressive. Cooper is seldom tacky or impolite to his commenters, but he can be, he can be.
Back in September, I asked Cooper what he thought about me starting a blog. Even though I'm conservative and obviously on a different side of the political fence, Cooper was consistently encouraging; offering suggestions, helping me look at cost (I selected the free one of course) teaching me what he knew about blog and generally being quite helpful. When I launched my blog in November, Cooper announced it on his blog and added my link to his blog roll. That is what you call nice.
I will continue to castigate progressives and the Democrats when I think it appropriate, including Marc Cooper. But, having learned from him to keep it about ideas and not personalities, I will always appreciate The Last Honest Progressive In America.
UPDATE: Welcome readers of Michael Totten's blog and of course Marc Cooper's blog. Thanks to you two guys for the nice mention.