Tuesday, January 27, 2004
# Posted 10:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Toledo, Ohio: Doesn't losing both NW and Iowa doom Dean? 13 out 14 nominees have won at least one of these critical first states.Now, if you're willing to follow a tangent, take a look at Kaiser's response to a question about the media's role in the election:
Washington, D.C.: Mr. Kaiser, as the fourth arm of government, how would you rate the performance of the media during this primary season?While there's no disputing the high quality of the WaPo's coverage, Kaiser's answer is still profoundly misleading. Few journalists spend their entire careers at a single papers, especially not the WaPo. Rather, journalists circulate constantly, a process that results in the establishment of a set of professional norms that is almost identical at every major news outlet. In this sense, there truly is a profession known as "journalism" and a collective of professionals known as the "media".
The opinion expressed above reflects the work of numerous scholars, my favorite of whom is Stephen Hess. In fact, while divided on many issues, scholars interested in the media almost all agree on the uniformity of journalistic norms. This finding has endured now for more than twenty years. In the process, it has been confirmed by opinion surveys (of journalists), hundreds of interviews, and many sociological studies in which scholars have spent weeks or even months in the newsroom as observers.
In fact, Kaiser's comments back up another important finding on which media critics have reached consensus: that even journalists at the most prestigious publications are only dimly aware of the norms that bind them to their colleagues. Rather, journalists often perpetuate stereotypes that have little basis in fact, such as the supposedly low quality of TV journalism in comparison to print. Unsurprisingly, most scholars believe that the first step toward the improvement of American journalism is greater self-awareness on the part of American journalists. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The more interesting questions about the race actually come at the bottom of the ballot. If Clark finishes fourth (or a distant third) in New Hampshire after avoiding Iowa, is his candidacy on the ropes? By the same token, will Edwards lose the invaluable media attention of the past seven days as a result of his somewhat lackluster finish?
My guess is that the subtleties of the Edwards-Clark finish won't matter much, since both are depending on a strong showing in the South. That, of course, brings us to the fact that 2/3 of New Hampshire primary voters described themselves as anti-war. Presumably, that statistic favored Dean and, to some degree, Kerry. In pro-war democratic states, will Edwards have an advantage? Or will Clark and Kerry's military records substitute for their having clear positions on the war?
Finally, Lieberman. The NYT suggests (in a straight news article, of course) that Senator Joe's 9% showing "could doom his candidacy". At the end of the same article, it reports that
Some analysts have said that if Mr. Lieberman does as poorly as the pre-primary polls indicated, he will be finished as a realistic candidate.But given that Lieberman was expected to get 5-6%, doesn't 9% look relatively good? Double digits would look especially nice, suggested that Lieberman is running neck-and-neck with Clark even though the Senator is a supposed also-ran.
With 9-10%, it almost pays for Lieberman to fight it ought until the convention, since those kind of numbers might allow him to play kingmaker. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:57 PM by Patrick Belton
Some of the more interesting selections are quoted below. You can read this text in one of two ways - as presented and without definite and indefinite articles, in which case you'd have to read it aloud and ideally with a marked Russian accent; or with them, as I've optionally supplied. I hadn't meant to only extract unusual (or risible) comments, as his general presentation was articulate, intelligent, and often quite candid. However, there were a few bits - call them, "Karasinisms" - that I just couldn't let slip by without comment....
on the Holocaust
When we think of anti-Semitism, we shouldn’t overemphasize that part of [the] Holocaust. At [the] same time, some people tried to put anti-Semitism into [the] Middle East to discuss [a/the] Middle East settlement. That is [a] different thing, entirely.
on Iraq, and impersonating Madonna
We think that what happened was not optimal, but we recognize that we are living in a material world, and we think the best thing that can be done is to bring back the U.N.
on imaginative construals of what it means to have free and fair elections
Russia is a multiparty democracy with elections, plus and minuses with them, for examples – but take [the] last Duma election, roughly 23 parties took part in that, generally well organized, honest and fair. I can argue with those who think it was not like that.
on having your next presidential election be a foregone conclusion, in a multiparty democracy with elections
also, on the virtues of going to work each day
On march 15, there will be the election of the President, not many people hesitate to predict the result, and it is not because we live in a society where everything is predictable, it is because the personal record of President Putin is absolutely obvious. People trust him, they see that he is really a working President, that every day he tries to handle in a really constructive way some questions with the government.
Because Britain is traditionally the land of very good and positive inventions, so let us hope it will invent something to allow us to prosper as an economic power.
on Chechnya (or, having your eggs and breaking them too)
But to try to take an upper hand in political discussions, that can be done later, but establishing that people can go to work and take their children to school, that is
on Russia, as a new cuddly neighbor
Even if you take the recent Americans’ announcements, not only in Georgia but certainly, Secretary of State says that he thinks, the intonation of the statement was that Russia should be friendly with neighbours, etc., we don’t have to be reminded about that. We’re not pretending to be the patrons of everybody who is neighbouring to Russia. And that is example of Cold War mentality – when Russia is still seen as former Soviet Union. But we should keep in mind that our security, and our national interests, are observed. And we should keep in mind that Russia is either a partner, a full partner, or no partner at all.
on what free speech means to him
It is not yet the end of the road, but people feel themselves living in free market conditions, where they have no limitation to express their views, and where the media represents different views and, fortunately for the state, and fortunately for Russia, it is no longer in the hands of the oligarchs, who like very much to defend, so-called, their own rights, among them, the freedom of speech. It was not freedom of speech, it was the freedom of speech of those who own the news channels.
on those good old days
We can’t say that the former experience of Soviet power was totally negative for my country, there were a number of positive experiences in education, science, and other fields. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:48 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:07 AM by Patrick Belton
More, please. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:14 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:30 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:43 AM by Patrick Belton
Hearing about N'kisi's verbal suppleness, ability to confront novel ideas, and affable wisecracking sense of humour, there have been last-ditch efforts by U.S. Democrats to attempt to convince N'kisi to enter into the New Hampshire primary. No word yet, however, as to whether the parrot will say yes, or merely string the Democratic party along for an interminable series of crackers. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:56 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:37 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:19 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:15 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The procedures in place for choosing [the new Iraqi] government are insufficiently democratic and excessively complex. Unless the transition goes well, Washington's chances of extricating itself from the day-to-day political and security problems of Iraq could fade.Answer:
Whatever is decided on, not all Iraqis will be happy. That is why any plan needs the international legitimacy U.N. involvement can bring. The current dispute might have been avoided if the U.N. had been included at an earlier stage. Instead, the agreement that set up the flawed caucus plan was drawn up last fall without U.N. participation. It is encouraging to see Washington, however belatedly, now trying to correct that mistake.Huh? Iraqis deprived of their democratic rights will somehow be happy if the UN sanctions a less-than-democratic transition plan? Or if the UN had drawn up an undemocratic transition plan in tandem with the United States? By the same logic, one might be led to believe that 44th St. would've accepted the result of the Florida recount four years ago if Kofi Annan had told them to.
I think the real problem here is the NYT's inability to recognize that the people of Iraq know what democracy is and value it. And that the people of Iraq, unlike the editors of the NYT, don't see undemocratic international organizations as a source of democratic legitimacy. Perhaps Ayatollah Sistani will accept the American plan if the UN endorses it unconditionally. But then Shi'ites will be accepting the American plan because of their respect for Sistani, not their respect for the UN. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, January 26, 2004
# Posted 11:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If they're all so thoughtful and civic-minded, why didn't they read about the candidates when they had time? Frankly, I sorta think that all those folks in Concord and Manchester and Nashua are just so used to having their butts kissed by politicians that they refuse to decide until the absolute last minute just so that they can milk the primary for all its worth.
But you know what would make them real humble real fast? Moving the first primary to another state. Then watch the New Hampshirites complain about the Nebraskans or whoever and how they think they have some sort of special right to get personal attention from the candidates while the rest of us get nothing more than 30-second commercials.
(Yes, I am in a bad mood.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
It hurts to vote this way, but I think George Bush has been a disaster, and if my cat had the best chance of winning the election, then I'd vote for my cat.If the cat gets enough votes, it will be Pussy vs. Bush in November. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:25 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: A reader points out: "if you check the boxes on the dating service though, as a male seeking a male, it only comes up with males seeking females. Does this mean that gay men in England don't need the help with dating that straight men do?" Heh - perhaps! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:44 AM by Patrick Belton
The most significant threat our ships face is air attack. The only utility of frigates in air defence is as sacrificial shields, and our current destroyers [which are capable of launching surface-to-air missiles: ed] are obsolete. Our fighter screen is cleverly improvised but only works in cold weather. New destroyers may be available in a few years, but we will be without fleet fighters for some time, and will be very weak in airborne radar, which could solve so many of our problems.In response, author Lewis Page calls for a massive reduction in Britain's frigate and dated destroyer fleet, and a reinvestment in nuclear submarines and an unmothballed third carrier.
With the money saved, we could build effective armed forces and be the terror of the world's dictators and ethnic cleansers, as we should be. Britain would have a capability independent of the US, a situation more dignified than relying on the Americans, while moaning about how they manage each crisis.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:32 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: Our friend John Gould points out that I shouldn't neglect distinguished Irish variants on the whisky theme. Quite correct, and duly noted! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:34 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:25 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:21 AM by Patrick Belton
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:46 AM by Patrick Belton
Sunday, January 25, 2004
# Posted 11:34 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:09 PM by Patrick Belton
Mars and she played even and odd.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:37 PM by Daniel
I spent my first day with a friend who was helping out the Clark campaign by “canvassing” homes in Bedford. This consisted of knocking on Democrats’ doors and handing them Clark literature as well as his 18 minute DVD, "American Son."
In almost every home I visited (sample size: around 30), people said they had watched the previous night’s debate but had not yet made up their minds. On the whole, Bedford residents were very friendly and concerned about us staying warm.
One couple invited me inside and the wife spoke for almost 20 minutes. She said that she was a Democrat and had voted for Bill Clinton. She said she had no problem with “the gays” (which made me think that she does—think of people who say, “I’m not racist, but you see….”) but didn’t appreciate that they could get health care for their partners without having to pay the marriage tax. She also said that she hated paying taxes. This was related to her second point: she could not understand why immigrants didn’t have to pay taxes and why she had to support them with her money. I was not sure what she meant, but she continued, saying, “you know, the people who own the gas stations, the Arabs (pronounced A-rabbs), the Iraqis, you know.” I didn’t know, but I tried to force a smile and said, “I’m pretty sure that immigrants do pay taxes, but maybe you can check the Clark website for more information.” She and her husband said that “five families of immigrants live in one house, you know? And we have to pay for them.” Her husband said he liked Clark but his wife said she had not yet made up her mind.
At another home, a woman yelled at us and accused us of not paying attention to her “Beware of Dog” sign. Actually, we had. I had just mentioned to my friend that the sign reminded me of one of my all-time favorite Far Side comics: the one entitled "Beware of Doug."
I began to wonder what kind of dogs she had, and if they were scary, and what mailmen or invited guests did, but before I could paint the mental picture, out of nowhere two German shepherds came charging toward us. Fortunately, they ran past us. “Who are you?” an older woman asked. “We are here to give you information about General Clark” my friend replied. She shooed us away and told us, “No, I’m for Dean.” Then, she said, “Well, anyone but Bush.” As we walked away, she reined in her dogs and told us to be careful.
I spoke with one voter who said he traditionally voted Republican, but didn’t like what Bush was doing and could potentially vote for a Democrat. He was particularly peeved by Bush’s “damn amnesty program with the illegals.” His solution: we should put up a fence and keep them out for 5 years, so we can catch the ones who are already here. He asked if Clark was the guy who “hated guns.” I told him that I was pretty sure that Clark did not hate guns, but that he believed in enforcing the gun control laws we had, including a limitation on assault weapons. I mentioned that such weapons did not seem to be very necessary for hunting. He agreed that AK 47s are not too important for hunters like himself, but that he also used guns for protection of his property. If the government did try to seize people’s guns, he told me there was going to be “a battle.” Then he said that he liked a lot of Kucinich’s ideas.
The entire experience was a lot of fun, and it was pretty amazing to see how much time and effort hundreds of people volunteer for one candidate. Some volunteers complained that rival campaigns stole their signs, and apparently the local police quietly dealt with many incidents like this, preferring to keep them under wraps. Edwards, Kerry, and Clark "visibility" volunteers (people holding signs and waving to cars passing by) were out late on Saturday night for in sub-freezing temperatures for hours on end. Very impressive. I was also pretty taken aback by fact that so many voters had not yet made up their minds. I guess we will see what happens on Tuesday!
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:59 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:28 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
As one of Chris Matthews' guests pointed out, journalists in the hall with Dean didn't think twice about the scream (or "squawk", whichmight be more accurate) . It was a loud, energetic event. Only the after-spin turned the scream into an issue. But after seeing interviews this morning with Kerry, Clark, Edwards and Lieberman, I have to say that none of them had the energy that Dean displayed in the moments leading up to the scream. Watching Dean was actually exciting, even inspiring. Here's was someone who really cared about politics, whose passion seemed authentic.
Does that mean I'll vote for him? Hell no. But I think it speaks to how the press is spinning Dean's anger management issues. As the LAT's Ron Brownstein pointed out, candidates always get punished for doing something that confirms negative stereotypes about them. If Bill Clinton misspelled potato, no one would've noticed. Then again, perhaps the media should ignore such pseudo-events. Especially in this instance, where I don't think what Dean did says anything about his character.
So, moving on. None of the other candidates particularly impressed me. Whatever you ask them, they have a pleasant sounding answer. Many of those answers are truthful, but still less than informative. The one candidate who seemed to have trouble offering vague platitudes was Wes Clark. When George Stephanopolous asked him about the inconsistency of the war, his answer seemed desperate, as well as misleading. Clark said that his April op-ed was taken out of context.
Actually, as Steve Sachs has shown, the context is the most damning part of it. Any single sentence in Clark's op-ed could be spun as somehow anti-war. But all together, they add up to a clear pro-war message. Which is probably why Clark looked so pleading and defensive during his interview. There's just this look in his eyes that says "Please stop ruining my resume! I'm supposed to look presidential!"
Finally, the comedy highlight of the week: Howard Dean's cameo on Letterman, presenting a Top 10 list poking fun at himself. He really delivered the lines well, with the right timing and the right attitude. But will Howard Dean's sense of humor become next week's meme? No, of course not.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:55 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:15 AM by Patrick Belton
The etymological site Word Origins includes an interesting survey of the evolution of the rhyme across British and American history, finding that "chicken" and "tinker" occur in early contemporaneous British versions:
The rhyme was not recorded until 1855, with that early version using the words eeny, meeny, moany, mite. Another version, also published in 1855 but said to date to 1815 begins, Hana, mana, mona, mike. Various versions appear in the mid-19th century in both Britain and America, as well as in many different European languages.For more pleasant etymological stories, see Etymologically Speaking, for starters. (Ex: biscuit from fr. "cooked twice", "Big Apple" from the New Orleans race track, "barbarian" from the sound Greeks thought they were making (ie, bar-bar-bar-bar) - and these are just for the letter "b".....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:37 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
From I've seen so far, it's posts are very, very thorough. Specifically, I went through the "Spin Buster" thread devoted to, well, busting spin. Perhaps because it has been such a rough couple of weeks for Howard Dean, most of the posts are devoted to defending him from unfair attacks. The tone of the posts is very protective of Dean, but I think it's too early to say the site is playing favorites.
One post I tended to agree with (unsurprisingly) argues that the whole primal scream angle is a product of the echo chamber. I also like this post tearing into NYT correspondent Jodi Wilgoren, who criticizes Dean for following advice that she herself gave him.
One post that goes over the line begins by asking: "Does the political press have a vested interest in slowing down the Howard Dean juggernaut?" It goes on to warn that the press has begun to manufacture a "Dean is slipping" meme. Of course, the post is dated January 14, so what it really indicates is that the press got one of Iowa's big stories 100% right an entire week before the vote. Does CJR admit its mistake? Of course not.
Another post that almost sounds like a campaign ad for Dean argues straight out that the press is wrong to brand him a radical, when in fact he is a moderate. (After all, Paul Krugman says so.) Actually, I think the press has been pretty good about noting Dean's moderate record as governor. But his both his message and his support come from anti-war activists in the so-called "Democratic wing of the Democratic party." The fact that Dean casts his opponents as faux-liberals who've been suckered by the administration makes it hard to call him a moderate.
Criticism aside, I'm going to keep reading CJR, since it tends to either hit the nail on the head or make a strong argument for what it believes in. A worthy addition ot the blogosphere.
UPDATE: I just did a little more reading on CJR, and it seems like they're pretty protective of all the candidates, whom they see as victims of a scandal-driven media that ignores substantive issues. In this post, for example, CJR reasonably defends Clark for his supposed "guarantee" that there would be no more 9/11's. Yet in this post, CJR actually defends John Edwards (my homey) for shamelessly dodging a controversial question about gay marriage on the grounds that it forces him to address a thorny issue. But isn't that exactly what the press is supposed to do? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, January 24, 2004
# Posted 8:41 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
IMHO, the only point at which Boot comes off as too much of a neo-con apologist is his insistence that neo-cons don't oppose multilateralism. Sure, unilateralism isn't a hard and fast neo-con principle. But neo-con antagonism toward the UN/Old Europe runs so deep -- and overlaps so much with most Republicans' anti-UN sentiments -- that unilaterallism usually turns out to be the preferred option regardless of the situation.l (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
in a big room somewhere nearby with a bunch of long school room tables arranged as they might be for an SAT test in high school. And space after space at those tables is occupied by journalists with laptops open, a phone at each station, perhaps some other paraphernalia nearby or a parka, watching the debate on a series of big TVs.So when they talk about a herd mentality, they literally mean that there is a herd. Historically speaking, one of the most important interventions by the herd was during Jimmy Carter's final debate with Gerlad Ford in 1976. In that debate, Ford deep-throated his own foot by insisting that Poland was not under Soviet domination.
According to polls taken immediately after the debate, there was no clear winner. However, media coverage that night focused on the Poland gaffe, and polls taken only hours later showed a dramatic shift in perception, with Carter becoming the clear winner in the public mind.
Now, there's a strong argument to be made that Ford got exactly what he deserved. A public opinion poll in Warsaw would certainly have shown considerable disagreement with Ford's description of Soviet benevolence. The irony, of course, is that Jimmy Carter suddenly looked like the toughest anti-Communist on the block, a reputation which didn't last all that long once he took office.
But was this an example of media bias? Perhaps, but not partisan bias. While Republicans might have felt that their man was getting picked on, the fact is that the media always plays up the candidates' foot-in-mouth moments. The real question is whether the public is poorly served by a media that focuses on such relatively unimportant incidents.
Ideally, voters would know to discount some of the hype around such gaffes, e.g. Dean's primal scream. But no one can tell the voters how to think. The real lesson is for candidates, who should appreciate just how much trouble they will get themselves in if they don't watch what they say. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:12 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:44 AM by Patrick Belton
Also, welcome home, Screaming Eagles! We've missed you. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:29 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:32 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 4:18 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 4:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:07 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:04 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:01 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about Clark's supposed stagnation. If Kerry dominates Iowa, that accomplishes objective #1, which is to beat Dean. But in November, I'd prefer to see Clark vs. Bush. Of course, what I'd really like to see is Edwards pull it out. If you haven't already, check out his recently unveiled Strategy for Freedom. It's an aggressive and well-thought plan for promoting democracy across the globe and especially in the Middle East.
More importantly, I don't think Edwards is just saying the right things. One of his top foreign policy advisers is OxBlog favorite Mike McFaul, who's feels at least as strongly about democracy promotion as we do. For some recent articles by McFaul, click here, here and here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The leakage of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, officials said, apparently originated in 1987, when former president Mohammed Zia ul-Haq secretly approved a long-standing request from the Iranian government for cooperation in non-military nuclear programs.Hmmm... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:20 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Dr. Kay's statements undermined one of the primary justifications set out by President Bush for the war with Iraq. Mr. Bush and other top administration officials repeatedly cited Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons as a threat to the United States, and the lack of evidence so far that Saddam Hussein actually had large caches of weapons has fueled criticism that Mr. Bush exaggerated the peril from Iraq.Message: Bush lied. McClellan still lies. Now, if you scroll down another ten paragraphs or so, you'll find McClellan saying something about UN Resolution 1441 and how Saddam was in material breach. But who really cares about that?
Over at the WaPo, the money graf also comes after some basic introductory facts. It says:
The transition from Kay to [new team leader Charles] Duelfer underscores a change in emphasis in the U.S. hunt for banned weapons. While Kay began his search with expectations of finding stockpiles, Duelfer has said the mission now is to discover when and how such stockpiles were eliminated.A good argument can be made that the WaPo is going a bit soft on the administration here. McClellan's quote is so ridiculous that it should have shown up in the WaPo article, albeit toward the end. At minimum, you'd think McClellan would say something like "There is no evidence yet that Saddam had a stockpile of WMD, but we refuse to rule out that possibility until we know exactly what happened to the weapons he had in 1998." Lest you think the WaPo is going too soft, it does report in its second paragraph that
The CIA announced officially yesterday that Charles A. Duelfer, a former senior U.N. weapons inspector, will succeed David Kay, who is resigning after nine months of unsuccessful searches for banned weapons in Iraq. Duelfer, who as a private academic said the Bush administration's prewar allegations on Iraq's weapons were "far off the mark," said yesterday that his goal is to reconstruct Iraq's "game plan" for its weapons and weapons programs.It's interesting to note that one of the two authors of the WaPo article is Walter Pincus, a veteran national security correspondent not known for pulling his punches. For those of you old enough to remember Mr. Pincus (or have written dissertations on the role of the media in US foreign policy), you'll know that he is the one who turned American production of the neutron bomb into a major controversy in the late 1970s. More specifically, the controversty resulted from Pincus' profoundly misleading description of the bomb as a weapon that killed people but left buildings standing.
Actually, the weapon (if used) would have destroyed a tremendous number of buildings and other physical structures, but less than would've been destroyed by standard nuclear weapons. The purpose of this modification was so that the weapon would do moderately less damage in heavily populated areas such as Central Europe, thus making the process of reconstruction somewhat easier. Until Pincus turned the neutron bomb into a front page story, it had consistent bipartisan support and was considered entirely uncontroversial. Incidentally, Pincus worked at the NYT while all this was going on.
I guess the message here is either that Pincus mellowed with age or that the NYT is trying to be fair and balanced, just like Fox. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, January 23, 2004
# Posted 10:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Today is an important anniversary: It's been 20 years since Hulk Hogan won the WWF world title for the first time, defeating the dreaded Iron Sheik, who you knew was evil because he had the word 'IRAN' written really big on his pants and frequently teamed up with the mad Russian Nikolai Volkoff, who insisted on singing the Soviet National Anthem before his matches while the fans loudly booed and pelted him with trash. Hogan became the first wrestler to break out of the Sheik's dreaded "Camel Clutch" hold, then went for the pinfall, getting a roar from the crowd that nearly caused Madison Square Garden to collapse down into Penn Station. Thus began Hogan's first three-year title reign and the sociologically important "Hulkamania" of the mid-1980s.Brother, just remember to say your prayers and eat your vitamins. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:19 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:23 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:36 AM by Patrick Belton
Nearly half the respondents (47 percent) did not fully agree that a Jewish prime minister would be as acceptable as a non-Jewish one. (...) 15 percent of those surveyed agreed the scale of the Holocaust has been exaggerated.Of course, the vast preponderance of Britain isn't anti-Semitic; this merely suggests there's some core seventh or so of the country which is. Incidentally, the question is slightly less than theoretical as present, as current Tory leader Michael Howard is Jewish. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:57 AM by Patrick Belton
Hezbollah, incidentally, is by far one of the most interesting (as well as organizationally complex) terrorist organizations of our time. Worthwhile analyses include MEIB's, the State Department's annual survey of terrorism, and ICT's. (Please let me know if you'd like me to add any significant ones I'm missing.)
UPDATE: Our readers are wonderful! Zach Mears suggests Adam Kushner's piece from the Columbia Political Review last May. I promise a more substantive Hezbollah post before too terribly long, in an attempt to summarize what's known about key trends, dynamics, and proclivities in the organization at the moment.
UPDATE ^2: And Pejman, who probably knows Iran better than anyone in the blogosphere, elaborates on how Khatami has let Iranian reformers down. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, January 22, 2004
# Posted 8:44 PM by Patrick Belton
EurasiaNet comments on the Turko-Pak anti-terrorism agreement, prospects for Iranian reformists, Georgia, and the sad state of human rights in Central Asia. The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute offers up pieces on the Xinjiang province of China, India's new drive into Central Asia (come to think of it, Curzon tried that, too....), and promising economic trends in Kazakhstan.
LRB follows al-Muhajiroun activists around London, and looks back at Tacitus and Bonnie Prince Charlie. New York Review of Books looks at the history of the relationship between the US and Israel, Bosnian refugees, and has a piece by Oliver Sacks on whether consciousness is like Borges's river. Wilson Quarterly remembers the two-hundredth birthday of Marbury, says ideas matter even in pragmatic America, and recalls Britain's earlier go at making a democratic Iraq.
Economist, meanwhile, eulogizes a Geisha, despairs about the Chinese and Japanese economies at the beginning of the year of the monkey, looks into human rights in Morocco and education in the Arab World, and peers into Iran. CS Monitor profiles Al Qaeda's super-terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi, covers rural-urban migration in China, and an op-ed says the wars on terror and against Saddam are changing Korea and Japan deeply.
In the major op-ed pages, Thomas Friedman is calling Iowa a victory for hawkish, sensible, i.e., Tony Blair Democrats (hey, that's us!), Jim Hoagland is optimistic about a settled peace in Kashmir, and David Brooks is optimistic about moderation and optimism in the Democratic party. Maureen Dowd is plumbing new depths. The Post applauds Bush's quiet (but, they point out, unilateralist) war on AIDS, and decries a hugely porky omnibus appropriations act that was rushed through the legislative process.
Happy reading! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:40 PM by Patrick Belton
Distinguished Runner Up: Dean's "I have a Scream" Speech (Easterblogg) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:42 PM by Patrick Belton
(In a similar spirit, I'm attempting to torment my college's piano more frequently nowadays, along with the memories of Ludwig and Johann; and, in the venerable OxBlog tradition of always having one blogger ready to defend Oxford's honor in a martial art, I'll be futzing about in what may well be a misguided though surely comedic attempt to represent our beloved institution in pistol.) (ed: duck, he's got a gun!) (yes, but it's still fairly unclear whether he can hit anything with it....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:23 PM by Patrick Belton
Instead, here are some nice funny pictures of monkeys. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:18 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
For example, author Scott Appleby suggests that the next pope must lead the way toward a productive dialogue and possibly even alliance with Islam. According to Appleby, the foundation of such a partnership would consist of Catholics' and Muslims' shared opposition to a secular worldview that disregards the sanctity of life through its support of reproductive rights.
Yet such a proposal seems rather small-minded from an author who also writes that
Advocacy of human rights, including the crucial right of religious freedom, must remain the central message of Roman Catholicism to the world.If to the world, then why not also to Islam? To be worthy of John Paul II's legacy, his successor must show the Muslim world that Islam, like Catholicism, can thrive by advocating respect for both religious tolerance and human rights.
I would go even further and suggest that the next pope embrace a cause that Appleby does not even dare to mention in his memorandum: democracy. This pope never shied away from identifying himself with the struggle against dictatorship. From Poland to Nicaragua, John Paul II cast his lot with the democratic opposition.
In fact, the College of Cardinals might choose to elevate Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo of Nicaragua, who already knows a thing or two about the struggle for democracy and freedom of religion. Besides, Obando would probably be happy to work with his Islamic counterparts to limit access to abortion and birth control, given his archconservative views on those subjects. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:55 PM by Patrick Belton
Of course, it's even harder to walk naked around the coastline of Britain - since not only is that infinite, but you'd have to step on lots of fractals along the way, and that would hurt. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:14 PM by Patrick Belton
Want to be able to tell them apart? CFR has opened for business its traditional website on the foreign policy statements and views of the candidates. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:03 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:52 AM by Patrick Belton
As exciting as this development is (especially for my own selfish reasons - personally, I have yet to vote at an actual stateside election location on an actual election day), internet voting with current technologies has aroused fairly negative responses from scholars of security issues. In July, Avi Rubin, Adam Stubblefield, Tadayoshi Kohno, and Dan Wallach coauthored a paper on security limitations of an older electronic voting system which had been developed by Diebold Elections.
Other studies of internet voting include ones by the State of California, and a Brookings-Cisco conference last January. Brookings devotes an entire page to the subject. An Oxford Union debate on the subject last summer was, fittingly enough, broadcast online. (Several more resources on the subject are available as well on the Election Center's webpage.)
An NSF panel recommended that internet voting begin only slowly, starting with dedicated kiosks which could be made passably secure with currently existing technology. This might be the prudent course - but in the meantime I will be looking forward embarrassingly much to having the opportunity to blog the casting of my first online vote.
For the rest of us not lucky enough to be Floridian, Utahn, Carolinean, Arkansan, or Hawaiian (and question: do we really want the first major experiment in online voting to involve Florida?), the Federal Voting Assistance Program exists to help expatriate citizens exercise their right to vote, and Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad are also very active in helping overseas voters to vote. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
If Gephardt had somehow won the nomination, I think there would have been a serious question as to whether or not I could support the Democrats in good conscience in November. Any of the remaining alternatives would be pretty good as president.It would be almost worth giving Gephardt the nomination just to see if Matt would actually vote for Bush. Imagine if he did. Four years of merciless taunting... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
I put out the word that I wanted to meet young girls and stayed at the seedy $8-a-night Phnom Pich Guest House.In his next column, Kristof writes that
After I decided to buy the two teenage prostitutes, as recounted in my column on Saturday, I swore them to secrecy for fear that the brothel owners would spirit them away.Did I mention that Kristof has photos of the girls up on the NYT website?
Now, as you might have guessed, I've taken Kristof's quotes ridiculously out of context. As you also might've guessed, Kristof was in Cambodia investigating modern-day slavery, which often takes the form of forced prostitution. While Kristof's approach is unconventional, I think it pays off both in terms of dramatic effect and in terms of understanding the problem.
Incidentally, it must've been pretty funny when Kristof told his wife that his upcoming business trip consisted of spending time with underage hookers. On the bright side, if that's what you tell your wife, she probably won't worry about what your going to do with your free time in Phnom Penh. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:05 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
There is certainly reason to be concerned about a climate of hostility to Jews, including vicious physical attacks. On one Saturday this past November, for example, two synagogues in Istanbul were truck-bombed during Sabbath services, while an Orthodox Jewish school in a Paris suburb was largely destroyed by arson. Some researchers report a 60 percent worldwide increase in the number of assaults on Jews (or persons perceived to be Jewish) in 2002, compared with the previous year. At the same time, something is rotten in the state of public discourse. Anti-Jewish slogans and graphics have appeared on marches opposing the invasion of Iraq. Jewish conspiracy theories have been revived, such as the widely circulated "urban legend" that Jews were warned in advance to stay away from the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. And recently, certain public figures on both the right and the left have made negative generalizations about Jews and "Jewish influence."No question, Klug gets points for honesty. And he also deserves credit for providing historical background to the current debate that is quite interesting regardless of whose side one is on. Klug also poses the interesting question of what is new about the new anti-Semitisim. And it is here where our opinions depart.
According to Klug, those who believe that there is such a thing as the new anti-Semitism tend to define it as hypocritical and anti-Semitically motivated attacks on Israel that hide behind the facade of "legitimate criticism". However, I believe that there are two other phenomena that play a critical role in defining the new anti-Semitism. Klug touches on both of them, but either overlooks or explicitly discounts them.
The first issue is the social acceptability of anti-Semitism. While few individuals will go on the record with statements about "the Jews", it has become almost fashionable in certain European circles to think of the Jews as a crude people and to resent the political correctness that prevents one from saying so in public. In a sense, this phenomenon is not new because sophisticated condescension toward upstart Jews was the status quo for much of modern European history.
But we wanted to believe that this sort of parlor anti-Semitism was dead. Moreover, its death was the ultimate guarantor that Europe could never return to the overt anti-Semitism of old. It is also hard to avoid the conclusion that sophisticated anti-Semites do not care much about the violent attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions perpetrated by lower-class European Muslims. After all, they had it coming.
Which brings us to the second point that Klug misunderstands. A second critical aspect of the new anti-Semitism is the way in which the wrongdoings of the Israeli government have become an accepted justification for the assault on European Jewry. While Klug denounces such violence as "repugnant", he nonethless writes that
Israel does not regard itself as a state that just happens to be Jewish (like the medieval kingdom of the Khazars). It sees itself as (in Prime Minister Sharon's phrase) "the Jewish collective," the sovereign state of the Jewish people as a whole. In his speech at the Herzliya Conference in December, Sharon called the state "a national and spiritual center for all Jews of the world," and added, "Aliyah [Jewish immigration] is the central goal of the State of Israel." To what extent this view is reciprocated by Jews worldwide is hard to say. Many feel no particular connection to the state or strongly oppose its actions. On the other hand, in spring 2002, at the height of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, Jews gathered in large numbers in numerous cities to demonstrate their solidarity, as Jews, with Israel. Many Jewish community leaders, religious and secular, publicly reinforce this identification with the state. All of which is liable to give the unreflective onlooker the impression that Jews are, as it were, lumping themselves together; that Israel is indeed "the Jewish collective."Unreflective? Unreflective? How about hateful? How about anti-Semitic? Imagine if Russians were being beaten up on the streets of Paris, Marseilles and Lyon because of French sympathy for the Chechens. Would anyone describe the assailants in such attacks as simply "unreflective"? Of course not. In doing so, Klug unintentionally validates that new anti-Semitism which supposedly doesn't exist. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
# Posted 9:42 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:03 PM by Patrick Belton
Angola and Sierra Leone are at peace. The pointless border clash between Ethiopia and Eritrea has stopped. Congo's war, the worst anywhere since the second world war, is formally over. Liberia's warlord, Charles Taylor, has been driven into exile. Even in Sudan, which has known only 11 years of calm since 1962, government and rebels are on the verge of signing a power-sharing deal.The entire article is worth reading. A particularly sad blue note in this chord, however, is the heavy reliance of the continent's two natural leaders upon resource extraction - never a good role for a government seeking to shake off corruption and forge ties of accountability with its citizens (and taxpayers). Think the Gulf, and Mexico in the oil boom of the 70's. Nigeria's economy, like those, is based on the extraction of oil - and Nigerian political economy is in turn based on the distribution of oil rents. South Africa's is a more delicate situation, because the resource being extracted there is the tax dollars of the white population.
But, nonetheless, there are continent-wide trends of democratization and the spread of security and the free press, which are very much on the side of those who would wish its people well - this Economist piece does well to draw our attention to them. And our role in the spread of democracy and conditions of human dignity to Africa over our lifetimes, of course, must be much more than cheering from the sidelines. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:10 PM by Patrick Belton
Incidentally, while on the subject of Oxford, there's a J.R.R. Tolkien Professorship in English Literature and Language which is coming open here.... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:22 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:15 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:20 PM by Patrick Belton
And if you're in another of the cities in which we have a chapter (New York, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and Oxford/London), please drop us a note to be added to our mailing list, if you haven't already done so! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:46 PM by Patrick Belton
On the bright side, though, Pats just gotten his Airport working in his flat. (And no, I've never actually gone by Pat, but couldn't resist...) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:21 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
But what if the Brits actually believe elections are the right thing to do? What if elections are the best way to promote a democratic and orderly transition? No question the British are respoinding to Shi'ite pressure. But that may be a good idea. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:05 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The two big think-pieces in Packer's book are Susie Linfield's anti-relativist polemic and Paul Berman's attack on Islamic totalitarianism. Both essays direct themselves at the profound intellectual disabilities the authors hold responsible for liberal confusion in foreign affairs. In both cases, I strongly sympathize with the authors' respective messages. Yet again, I found myself asking what distinguished Linfield and Berman's views from those that are supposedly conservative.
The vocabulary of Linfield's essay borrows extensively from the lexicon of conservative culture warriors. Talking about multiculturalism, Linfield writes that "shame [has] spread too far, mutating into guilt and then ossifying into cowardice." (p. 167) Linfield then observes that "judgment is the linchpin on which the health of the culture depends." (p. 173) In the final analysis, this non-judgmental cowardice facilitated the liberal left defense of Stalin and even Pol Pot.
Linfield is right that there is nothing in liberalism inherently averse to pride or judgment. She writes that
We are forced to see that by severing ourselves from our own proud tradition of judgment-as-freedom, we allowed conservatives to "own" the realm of judgment" (just as some black students, in a perverse paroxysm of self-defeat, have relegated intellectual achievement to whites.)Well, so much for political correctness. Moving on, Linfield runs into trouble when she tries to distinguish a liberal version of judgment-as-freedom from its conservative counterpart. Much like Michael Tomasky, Linfield is only capable of identifying that which is liberal by differentiating it from a conservative strawman. Thus she describes conservatives as being enamored of "cultural hierarchy and 'sacred order'" before tartly observing that
Osama bin Laden, from what I understand, is also an ardent fan of the past's hierarchies and its sacred orders.Aha! The only problem is that American conservatism has demonstrated little interest in hierarchy, much interest in the sacred, but little interest in order. For more than two hundred years, American conservatives have defied political labels by espousing a revolutionary conservatism. Unfortunately, Linfield never addresses this all-important paradox.
Paul Berman departs from the liberal mainstream by insisting that there is no rational defense of terrorism and there that there should be no effort to empathize with terrorists or assign responsibility to root causes. With regard to violence perpetrated by French Muslims against French Jews, Berman writes that
Liberal-minded thinkers, reluctant to believe that a strictly doctrinal and irrational hatred is at work, have instinctively regarded the violence as a natural and resonable response to Israeli policies in still another part of the world, the Middle East, thousands of miles away...In spite of such passages straight out of the National Review, Berman constructs a sweeping historical argument on behalf of semi-pacifist view of democracy promotion. In under twenty pages, Berman summarizes and extracts the essence from two hundred years of Western intellectual history. While I could keep up with what Berman was saying, the breadth of his references and analyses made it all but impossible for me to provide informed criticism of his views.
Yet on those occasions when Berman touched on my areas of expertise, I found myself violently disagreeing with him. His paragraph on the origins of World War I demonstrates a total unfamiliarity with the combatants motives. Berman then writes that
Final victory in World War II was not achieved by troops rolling into Berlin. Final victory was achieved by de-Nazification, which took several decades and perhaps in some respects is still going on. (p. 279)But the fact is that victory was achieved by force of arms. De-Nazification was a complete fiasco that embarrassed the US occupation authority and angered low-level Nazi officials while ignoring most significant Party officials. What persuaded Germans of the evils of Nazism was not the shining ideal of Western democracy, but the shocking realization that Nazism had brought Germany nothing but death, devastation and despair -- thanks to the Allied armed forces.
I go on at length about Berman's idiosyncratic interpretation of the Second World War because it effectively illustrates how he bends the past to serve his anti-interventionist message. Thus, it rings hollow when Berman says that "America's president has decided to withdraw from the war of ideas". (p. 288) One can argue that Bush's rhetoric is less than persuasive. Yet actions often speak louder than words. More than any speech, the President's bid to democratize Iraq will become the yardstick according to which his intentions are one day measured. As was the case with Germany and Japan, the use of force has been integral to defining America's position in the war of ideas.
The remaining essays in Packer's collection demonstrate just how great a chasm must be bridged in order to unite Linfield and Berman's broad-brush conceptual liberalism with the specific policies favored by their co-authors. Jeff Madrick's discussion of economic inequality in the United States concludes that "Our democracy is no longer working as it should." Presumably, this implies that we have no right to lecture the developing world about freedom until our own house is in order.
William Finnegan's essay on "corporate globalization" is a meditation on the beauty of indigenous cultures, the rapacity of multinational corporations,and the hypocrisy of the IMF and its member governments. If there was one essay in Packer's book that Noam Chomsky could wholeheartedly embrace, this would be it. Speaking more substantively, the problem with Finnegan is that he completely ignores important arguments by first-rate thinkers that globalization promotes growth and even protects indigenous cultures. While the pro-globalization case is far from impregnable, the one-sided nature of Finnegan's attack undermines Packer's aspiration to get away from the kneejerk liberalism of the past.
The contradictions exposed by "The Fight is for Democracy" come across vividly in anti-war patriarch Todd Gitlin's essay on patriotism. On the one hand, Gitlin describes how his decision to hang an American flag from his terrace after 9/11 became an authoritative justification on the Left for accepting the flag as a positive symbol. Yet only weeks later, Gitlin and his wife took down their flag because "the hardening of American foreign policy and the Democratic cave-in produced a good deal more triumphalism than [they] could stomach." (p. 134) This pattern of action and reaction ably stands in for the position of almost all the contributors to Packer's book; they recognize the imperative of breaking away from the guilt-ridden liberalism of the past but can't accept-- let alone comprehend -- the majority's embrace of actual American foreign policies. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion