Tuesday, February 10, 2004
# Posted 10:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:18 AM by Patrick Belton
Monday, February 09, 2004
# Posted 6:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But I think that this is a case of sheer incompetence, not bias, a possibility that Glenn acknowledges. If you read the article attached to the headline, its gets the story right. The headline just seems out of place, like some sort of accident.
Unfortunately, I can't even find the original story on the Netscape/CNN site. Instead, there is a similar report bearing the headline: "Letter: Bin Laden Has Recruiting Problems". Of course, that's somewhat misleading as well, but at least they're getting closer... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:21 AM by Patrick Belton
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:19 AM by Patrick Belton
If you fancy a quaint little number, then we have the perfect weekend break for you to impress. This delightful hotel located in the area of Montmartre and minutes from the Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge has to be a bit of a find.Area of Montmartre, by Moulin Rouge - so basically, you're saying that it's right plunk in the middle of Paris's red light district? (Unless this is a fairly heterodox species of British "Valentine's Day special"?) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, February 08, 2004
# Posted 9:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While Russert certainly could have been nastier and interrupted the President more often, there is an expectation (perhaps unjustified) that even journalists will show a certain amount of deference to the Commander-in-Chief when talking with him in person. Besides, Bush is usually willing to hang himself if you just give him enough rope.
Anyhow, Russert did get to ask the tough questions that everyone expected. For example:
The night you took the country to war, March 17th, you said this: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."...Or:
Can you launch a preemptive war without ironclad, absolute intelligence that he had weapons of mass destruction?And:
Looking back, in your mind, is it worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction?Finally:
The Bush-Cheney first three years, the unemployment rate has gone up 33 percent, there has been a loss of 2.2 million jobs. We've gone from a $281 billion surplus to a $521 billion deficit. The debt has gone from 5.7 trillion, to $7 trillion, up 23 percent. Based on that record, why should the American people rehire you as CEO?While relatively tough, those questions are also relatively predictable. How much you wanna bet that Bush's prep team asked him almost exactly the same questions in their rehearsals for the Russert interview?
Of course, the fact that the questions were so predictable makes the President's lackluster responses even more disturbing. While Bush managed to hit his talking points, his stumbling defensiveness made the interview hard to watch, even for someone like myself who thinks that there are perfectly good answers to all of Russert's questions about the war.
Now, we know George Bush is going to stumble. We can forgive him for being less than eloquent. But more important than the fact of stumbling is the way in which it conveyed a total inability to think through the issues in a sophisticated manner. Throughout the interview, Bush seemed like he was struggling to remember what he had been told to say at rehearsals. This, after 18 months of having Iraq in the headlines?
But personally, far more disturbing than this stumbling was Bush's defensiveness. Everyone response came across as an almost desperate effort to pretend that Russert's questions hadn't really hit on one of the administration's major failures. Bush came across as someone who simply couldn't admit to the American public when something had gone wrong. If Bush had just come into the interview and said, calmly and confidently, that of course there were major intelligence failures, I think he would've won a lot of respect without losing anything in political terms. Everyone already knows the weapons aren't there. Admitting is the best damage control strategy.
Now, there was one point at which the confused and defensive Bush gave way to a calm and confident alter ego. In the middle of a question about nation-building (which he was in the midst of fumbling), Bush suddenly got this look in his eye as if he knew exactly what the right answer was. He said that
The best way to secure America for the long term is to promote freedom and a free society and to encourage democracy. And we are doing so in a part of the world where people say it can't happen, but the long term vision and the long term hope is -- and I believe it's going to happen -- is that a free Iraq will help change the Middle East. You may have heard me say we have a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. It's because I believe so strongly that freedom is etched in everybody's heart, I believe that,and I believe this country must continue to lead.The change in the President's body language was astonishing. It's the kind of thing that doesn't show up in transcripts, the kind of thing that made me glad I actually got up so damn early on a Sunday morning in order to watch the interview.
When Bush started talking about democracy promotion and the universal desire for freedom, his words began to flow in a way they hadn't before. And you couldn't help thinking that the words were coming straight from his heart. With Reagan, you could dismiss it as acting. But with Bush, it's hard not to believe he's sincere.
Now, that doesn't mean that Bush truly understands what kind of effort serious democracy promotion entails. It doesn't mean that he will notice when the US begins to compromise its principles in countries that don't make the headlines. But it gives me a certain confidence that he understands why the reconstruction of Iraq is vital to our long-run victory over the forces of terror. That is why Bush put himself on the line for the $87 billion reconstruction bill. That is why we still have 120,000 troops on the ground. While I can't shake my suspicions that Bush (or Cheney or Rumsfeld) is getting ready to cut and run, the fact is that the President has shown a surprising willingness to stay and fight for what innumerable critics have long dismissed as a lost cause.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:15 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:18 AM by Patrick Belton
So which is it: Are America's spies a gaggle of fools for believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Or is the Bush administration a gang of knaves for lying us into a war?One of Jim's most interesting points has to do with the scale of the biological weapons in question:
Take anthrax. The Iraqis admitted they had made 8,500 liters (8.5 tons), and Colin Powell in his February speech to the U.N. Security Council noted that the U.N. inspectors thought Saddam could have about three times as much. But even this larger amount would weigh only some 25 tons in liquid form--slightly more than one tractor-trailer load. If reduced to powder, as Mr. Powell suggested in his speech, it could be contained in a dozen or so suitcases.His final conclusion, I also think, is also noteworthy:
[A] three-part emphasis on human rights, terrorist ties and WMD programs would have been solidly in line with the president's own explicit policy. A three-legged stool is more stable than a one-legged one, but for some reason the administration decided not to make all three parts of its case in justifying the decision to go to war. As a result, its very heavy emphasis on WMD to the exclusion of the other two bases of its strategy has left the administration vulnerable to the failure to find WMD stockpiles.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:54 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
After the POW issue, we get to the bread and butter: Kerry's strong support for abortion rights, gay rights, gun control and environmental protection. I think he's been on the right side of every one of these issues. However, he has broken with the Democratic majority on NAFTA and welfare reform, positions that I also support. Even so, it's probably fair to describe Kerry as "solidly liberal", even if he doesn't seem to want that label himself.
The one major error in the NYT profile concerns Kerry's role in the Iran-Contra affair. The Times writes that Kerry's
ad hoc investigation paid off. Suspicions about Colonel North increased. The Foreign Relations Committee began a formal inquiry. Documents found in a plane that was shot down in Nicaragua indicated involvement by the C.I.A. And in November 1986, a Middle Eastern newspaper reported that United States arms had been secretly sold to Iran with the proceeds diverted to support the contras.While Kerry's deserves credit for paying attention to the issue before many other Senators did, it is absurd to imply that his work contributed to any major revelations of the Reagan administration's misconduct. What blew the case wide open was the plane crash mentioned above. The fact that a Nicaraguan soldier shot down a plane and that one of its American crewmen survived was a matter of sheer luck -- bad for the President, good for the Constitution. Without that plane crash, there would've been no story.
As for the Iranian connection, the story of American arms shipments was broken by a small Lebanese paper called Al-Shiraa. Again, that was a matter of considerable luck. Kerry did not in any way lay the foundation for it.
But enough about what the NYT did write. Far more important is what it didn't. If you compare the NYT article to it's counterpart in the WaPo, you'll be left asking yourself how the NYT managed to avoid any mention of Kerry's double-speak justifications of his votes against the first Gulf War and for the second. The WaPo reports that
Nowhere has Kerry been challenged more for voting one way and talking another than on Iraq, both for his vote in support of the war in 2002 and his vote opposing the Persian Gulf War in 1991.Now how does the NYT spin the issue? It writes that
In 1991, [Kerry] opposed sending troops to fight in the Persian Gulf war. But he voted in 2002 to authorize fighting in Iraq, and he supported military action in Panama, Somalia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.How clever. Using an out-of-context quote by a Republican to make Kerry seem to have a far more consistent record on national security than he actually does. I doubt Karl Rove will be so kind.
All in all, it looks like I'll be facing the usual dilemma this November. I can get the domestic policies I like by voting Democratic and the foreign policies I like by voting Republican. But no matter which way I vote, the chances of getting a straight-talker in the White House aren't very good. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, February 07, 2004
# Posted 11:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Would I have known that there was no coffee in my drink if the barista hadn't freely admitted his own mistake? Perhaps. After tasting the replacement the difference was clear. But I was quite happy with my hot milk, caramel syrup and whipped cream. So let's hear it for neo-liberal corporate-led globalization. Because good service is invaluable. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:49 AM by Patrick Belton
Friday, February 06, 2004
# Posted 7:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
More importantly, Kerry has Michigan sewn up while Edwards and Clark fight over Tennessee and Virginia. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:40 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:28 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:33 AM by Patrick Belton
Also you might check if you're interested in Jesus H. Christ, or conversely the whole megillah (megillah, Heb., "scroll", from the reading of the book of Esther on Purim), the relationship between sycophancy and the Dantean insult "go suck a fig" (Gr. sukon, fig; see also the Sistine Chapel, wherein Michaelangelo shows his true feelings about his Julian patron), snob (from a Home Counties dialectical term for cobbler), keeping mum (with origins more onomatopoeic than Freudian), Elephant and Castle (from Infanta de Castile, translated into Cockney), and - for David and Rachel - bunny, a rural English term of endearment from the 17th century.
And Quinion also has an extraordinary wit which I'd be remiss if I didn't quote here extensively:
from the relevant entry: “I was in a deli recently when the girl behind the counter dropped something between the cabinets. There was an officer waiting on line and she said: ‘Do you think the long arm of the law can get this out for me?”And on clams, happy and otherwise:
“Do you have any idea of the origins of the phrase happy as a clam? I’ve used it for years without knowledge of just how one would determine that a clam is happy—my acquaintance with the mollusc is strictly through consumption.”(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, February 05, 2004
# Posted 2:24 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:46 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
# Posted 10:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now, one particularly disturbing aspect of the NYT article is that it focuses on partisan slurs while ignoring substantive criticisms of Kerry's record. If the RNC can get top billing by calling Kerry an extremist, it doesn't exactly promote serious debate. But it's not as if the Times is letting Bush off the hook. Also in today's paper, the Times reviews the military service issue, which never plays well for Bush.
The basic message of the article is Kerry=hero, Bush=lazy rich boy. That's not exactly wrong, but one might easily say that a balanced article on the subject would point out that war hero John Kerry couldn't make up his mind about whether to support either Gulf War. Also of the note, the NYT reports Democratic accusations that Bush went AWOL but doesn't really say whether there is any merit to the charge. As the Daily Howler point outs in a very comprehensive post, neither the NYT nor the WaPo nor the Boston Globe has ever presented the facts of the case very clearly. Finally, a Campaign Desk investigation shows that all of the recent attention given to the AWOL issue resulted not from Michael Moore's charge that Bush was a "deserter", but from Peter Jennings' interrogation of Clark regarding Moore's charge at the recent South Carolina debate. I wonder how much we'd have to pay Jennings to mention OxBlog...
UPDATE: Phil Carter points out a number of ways in which enterprising journalists might confirm or disconfirm the AWOL charge. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:35 PM by Patrick Belton
(P.S. We wrote a bit more about the subject a day or two ago here, too.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:03 PM by Patrick Belton
ABC Apologizes for Mickelson Breast-Baring Stunt(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:30 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: Someone points out correctly that "Imagine" was actually a Lennon solo. So clump me in under the title of this post.... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:26 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:38 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Still, Kurtz misses an important point: After watching Kerry come from nowhere to surprise Dean, the media is very hesitant to expose itself to another potential embarrassment in the event that Kerry falls from grace. Besides, with Tennesse and Virginia coming up next Tuesday, Edwards may be able to generate some serious momentum (or the impression thereof). Edwards would then have three weeks until Super Tuesday to make his case while letting the media pick Kerry apart.
And what about Clark? I really don't know why he has such concentrated support in the southwest. One can plausibly argue that Arizona and New Mexcio have more liberal primary voters, since they put Dean in third while decisively rejecting Edwards. Yet Oklahoma went strong for both Clark and Edwards while giving Dean just 4%.
But perhaps none of this is relevant since Kerry took home majorities in three states and 40%+ in two others. Edwards and Clark really have no choice but to play for the breaks. And Dean? Heading back north, you just never know.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
# Posted 10:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Please note that the Tuesday, March 30 seminar by Harvey Rishikof should be entitled "Prosecution of Saddam Hussein," not "Persecution of Saddam Hussein." Sorry for the mix-up! :)If only it had been a Chomsky seminar, that really would've been funny. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
DeLong is right that the WaPo article doesn't really provide readers with the information necessary to really know what's going on with the budget. But given its unmitigated denunication of Bush as a fool and liar on the editorial page, I think it's a good idea for the WaPo to stick to the facts in the news section.
The counterargument here is that, presumably, more people read the front page than the editorials. Even so, I suspect that the budget-of-lies concept will get across to anyone who follows the issue. Some voters just won't care, and the media can't change that. But with Bush's credibility on this issue so low and the deficit spiraling out of control so soon after Clinton reined it in, Bush can't come out of this looking good. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Of course, the first is a WaPo masthead editorial, the second a NYT masthead and the third an actual Krugman column. In fact, the WaPo may be the harshest of the three. It opens by asserting that "The Bush administration's 2005 budget is a masterpiece of disingenuous blame-shifting, dishonest budgeting and irresponsible governing." It's hard to disagree.
What really pisses me off is the administration's refusal to acknowledge the continuing costs of our work in Iraq and Afghanistan. That doesn't amount to a cut-and-run strategy, but it isn't all that much better. What this kind of evasiveness ensures is that whenever the President does submit a funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan, it will become a political football.
Perhaps that's smart politics. Perhaps Bush expects that the Democrats will embarrass themselves again and reinforce their image of weakness on national security by bickering over whether or not to fund the occupations. But one sure result will be a weakening of public support for nation-building and democracy promotion. Whenever one of these funding debates start, it is hard even for the bill's supporters to come out and say that we should spend abroad while cutting back at home.
While spending on Iraqis may be for the purpose of ensuring own security, it's a hard case to make on the campaign trail. Thus, if the administration were 100% committed to promoting democracy in the Middle East, it would try to build bipartisan support for its objectives by stating up front just how it intends to pay for them. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:21 PM by Patrick Belton
Chanticleer will be performing in the following cities over the next two months:
4 Indianola, Iowa: Simpson College, 7:00p.m.
5 Storm Lake, Iowa: Buena Vista University, Schaller Chapel, 712-749-2452, 7:30p.m.
7 Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Ted Mann Concert Hall, 612-624-2345, 7:30p.m.
8 Duluth, Minn.: University of Minnesota/Duluth, Weber Music Hall, 218-726-8877, 7:30p.m.
21 San Francisco: One World, Calvery Presbyterian Church, 8:00p.m.
22 Petaluma, California: One World, St. Vincent Church, 3:00p.m.
27 Santa Clara, California: One World, Mission Santa Clara, 8:00p.m.
28 Sacramento: One World, First United Methodist Church, 8:00p.m.
29 San Francisco: One World, Calvery Presbyterian Church, 7:00p.m.
5 Palm Springs , California: Annenberg Theatre, 760-325-4490 or firstname.lastname@example.org
6 Irvine, California: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 949-854-4646 or email@example.com
7 La Jolla, California: St. James Church, 858-459-3421, Ext 109, 4:00p.m.
10 Anchorage: Anchorage Concert Association, Atwood Concert Hall, 907- 272-1471, 7:30p.m.
29 San Francisco: New Voices, Calvery Presbyterian Church, 8:00p.m.
And the Tallis Scholars, incidentally, will meanwhile be performing on tour in the UK, Europe, and the US:
Tuesday 24 February: St. John's, Smith Square, London (020 7222 1061)
Thursday 26 February: at 7.30pm Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (0161 907 9000)
Sunday 14 March: Teatro della Pergola, Florence (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday 16 March: Monfalcone, Italy (same email)
Friday 19 March: Zamora, Spain (email@example.com)
Monday 22 March - Richmond, VA
Thursday 25 March - Ann Arbor, MI
Friday 26 March - Lexington, KY
Saturday 27 March - New York, NY
Sunday 28 March - Rhode Island, RI
Tuesday 30 March - Roanoke, VA
Wednesday 31 March - Savannah, GA
Friday 2 April - Stanford, CA
Sunday 4 April - Boston, MA
(Further details for US tour are obtainable from: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Doing things like this is one of the greatest pleasures of having a blog - we're always very happy to support the arts! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:05 AM by Patrick Belton
So what did the UN do? Well, of course, it dissolved his commission and fired Mr Chandler. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:42 AM by Patrick Belton
At the very least, we'll have something to write about. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:40 AM by Patrick Belton
First off, BBC is offering up a Q&A about the election crisis and the text of the letter submitted by the resigning MPs, while also summarizing the coverage and editorial positions of the various Iranian newspapers.
Voice of America is repeating a US government call for free elections in Iran, while "refraining from specific comments about developments in the struggle between reform politicians and the conservative Guardian Council out of concern it might be seen as American interference." Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is reporting the Iranian government's alleged deliberations about whether to postpone the elections (a view which is particularly strong in the Interior Ministry. The Financial Times is pointing out the low level of enthusiasm for the Islamic Republic's 25th birthday celebrations over the weekend. According to the FT, pragmatic conservative strategists worry public response may swell the ranks of the reformists, and reformers as well as many analysts hope for the intervention of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, to overturn the Guardian Council's ruling disqualifying 2,400 reformist candidates for parliament. EurasiaNet, however, is finding both sides to be digging in and appealing to their bases, and says the Ayatollah has given no indications he will intervene or exercise leadership - his office has indicated he would be "unavailable" for the coming two days. The piece also notes that the boundaries of acceptable criticism of the revolutionary state are expanding - reformists are now openly questioning the existence of the Guardian Council and the office of Supreme Leader, which they had not dared to do before. There is also good reporting to be had in the CS Monitor and NYT, and excellent analysis in the Economist. The NYT, on the other hand, editorializes (too harshly, in my opinion) that the disqualification of the reformist candidates may spell the end of reform in Iran.
Turning to bloggers, Pejman writes:
In addition to the decision of over a hundred Iranian reformers to resign en masse from their parliamentary seats, the the largest reformer party has decided to sit out the upcoming elections:At NRO, Michael Ledeen is pointing out that now might not be the best time for congressional staff to cozen up to the regime in Tehran (see AP and WaPo for more). MaroonBlog has a great deal on the topic, too.
Students at Tehran University are reported to be planning a protest on Wednesday - we'll be following along closely. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:20 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:11 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:49 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
All indicators suggest that we are about to confront a major turning point in the history of Iranian democracy. The President's own party -- the most popular and legitimate party in Iran -- is boycotting elections. I can't think of any other country in which that ever happened. Moreover, more than a third of Iran's MPs have resigned.
These actions seem to represent a clear challenge to the conservative clerics who are preventing Iran from becoming a true to democracy. Khatami's party is saying that it will no longer lend its legitimacy to fake elections that install governments without power. What it wants now are real elections that let the people choose who governs.
So dammit, flood the zone! (That means you, too, George W.)
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, February 02, 2004
# Posted 6:53 PM by Patrick Belton
(text, written in pencil:)
A Venerable Prof of Divinity(commentator, writing in blue ink:)
Rhythmically unsound(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:47 AM by Patrick Belton
THE CULTURE OF DEATH: A couple of hundred people are dead because they were a little too enthusiastic about stoning the Devil. This happens every year. Is it culturally insensitive to ask whether there isn't something profoundly awry about a religion that sends so many to their deaths as part of a religious duty? The Hajj minister in Saudi Arabia comments: "All precautions were taken to prevent such an incident, but this is God's will. Caution isn't stronger than fate." Excuse me? God's will to commit hundreds to their deaths? At the same time, Islamist fanatics murder scores by killing themselves in Iraq. What we have on our hands is, in some instances, not that far from a death cult.Rather than parse or critique the argumentative structure of the paragraph (though I don't quite believe that the concluding smear against Islam generaliter follows at all from the premises, however incontrovertibly true, that the Saudi religious authorities are awfully negligent in permitting Hajj trampling deaths to recur with such tragic frequency, and that religiously-motivated terrorists do pose quite grave challenges to the security and peace of the newly free Iraqis), what I'd prefer to do is to point out one hopeful note which this analysis misses. And that is the bluntness, conciseness, and eloquence with which on the night of Eid al-Adha, Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Sheik, the Saudi Grand Mufti and by no means a liberal, denounced terrorism. Noting that the extraordinary majority of victims of the recent terror attacks in Iraq and Turkey have been Muslim, and equally attacking terror against non-Muslims, the Mufti asked in his address to the pilgrims whether "is it holy war to shed Muslim blood? Is it holy war to shed the blood of non-Muslims given sanctuary in Muslim lands? Is it holy war to destroy the possessions of Muslims?" (For reporting of his speech, see Chicago Tribune and LA Times.) And to miss the significance of this condemnation - in favor of instead using a human tragedy aggravated by the incompetence of a tyrannical regime to make a smear against the extraordinarily variegated and broad Islamic swath of the planet - seems to me regrettable.
I'd like to note, though, that I'm criticizing Andrew here precisely because of the high moral tone of his life's work, and because of the great esteem in which I hold his contribution to the political discourse of the two countries of which I am resident. His quite sensible combination of social progressivism, fiscal moderation, and idealistic hawkishness in foreign policy represents a far too rare triumph in our day of humanistic common sense over the partisan and ideological consistencies that are so in fashion for our thoughtless age. With lesser sorts, I do not quibble.
UPDATE: A bit more on this from one of our esteemed friends. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, February 01, 2004
# Posted 11:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"Distractable" is a recognized variant spelling of "distractible," and not incorrect at all.Fine by me. I just feel bad for the kid who got tossed in the first round of the National Spelling Bee for using an acceptable variant. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:49 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:32 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:19 PM by Patrick Belton
(Incidentally...and since it's somewhat vaguely on the same topic...today is Rachel's and my 40 month, and therefore 3.333 repeating year, anniversary of our first date. So this post goes out with love to the lovely blogosphere wives who put up with us....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 4:02 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE (5:00 pm): Okay, far from being pernicious villains, the British Pistol Association were extraordinarily good sports who not only won a close match against us on a windy day, while showing admirable technique, but also took us out to lunch after, and extended to all of us a kind invitation to shoot there as their guests whenever we liked. Their headquarters, Bisley in Surrey, has for ages been the headquarters of British pistol and rifle shooting, with origins in the officer corps. All national- and Commonwealth-level competition takes place there, and the place has a quite lovely sense of history.
So I'll have to reserve the label of pernicious villain for second-rate universities located in various cities called Cambridge.... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Anyhow, Winds of Change has just declared that Saturday, the Sabbath, will from henceforth be a day of good news. Well versed in many religious traditions, Joe will be using his Saturday posts to share the wisdom of Hasidic Judaism, Sufi Islam and Zen Buddhism. Today's earthly good news is that WoC's Armed Liberal has just gotten engaged. AL also has a post from Friday which should count as good news, because it concerns a remarkable display of human compassion.
Of course, if you want some bad news, WoC has plenty of that as well. Thus, I highly recommend the most recent Central Asia briefing, which has some good news, but plenty of bad as well. Torture. Stuff like that.
CORRECTION: Saturday has been good news day for quite some time now on WoC. I just got thrown off by the use of the future tense to describe this practice in the post linked to above. Well, serves me right for not reading WoC more often.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, January 31, 2004
# Posted 9:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The first critic to call the NYT on its questionable reporting was blogger Daniel Radosh, who was rewarded for his trouble with personal threats from the article's author, Peter Landesman. Landesman's editor and then Landesman himself apologized for going overboard. But both of them still stand by the story.
After going through all of this material, I'm left wondering why I bothered with it in the first place. Mainly, I guess, because it involves two of my favorite subjects: First, sex. Second, incompetence at the NYT. (If Jayson Blair had been directing X-rated films in the back offices on 43rd St, you can bet OxBlog would've provided daily coverage.) Even so, I felt after going through it all that I had wasted my time.
Why? Perhaps because it all seemed so petty and sensational. Then again, if sex slavery is a serious issue, we should be reading about it. Perhaps because I found Shafter's criticism persuasive, the seriousness of the issue not the first thing on my mind. So before you go and follow the links in this post, decide if that's what you really want. After all, if you'd followed my advice, you wouldn't have even gotten this far.
NB: I have consistently referred the NYT's offices as being on 44th St, even though they are most definitely on 43rd. This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for a native New Yorker, especially one who had the chance to visit the Times' offices as a student journalist in high school. What I can't remember is whether or not the NYT building goes through the entire block and has windows on 44th St. If so, I'd at least feel somewhat vindicated. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:56 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I sense that there is a relationship between all these events but have no ability whatsoever to say what it is. My concern is that Musharraf will once again become uncooperative in the near future, since his efforts to play off the United States against his internal opponents demands that the general make concessions to both sides. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But more importantly, Okrent's column represents a new self-awareness at the Times and a new willingness to subject the Paper of Record to serious criticism. At the moment, Okrent find himself in the somewhat unusual position of defending the Times from the left. Yet by establishing the legitimacy of internal criticism, Okrent is preparing the Times for the much harder task ahead: to admit when it has wronged conservatives. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:36 AM by Patrick Belton
A suspected US fraudster on the run for a year has reportedly been caught after a woman checked his name on the Google website before meeting him for a date. LaShawn Pettus-Brown was wanted in Ohio for allegedly siphoning off city funds from restoration projects.And they made fun of me for googling Rachel before we went out..... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:28 AM by Patrick Belton
Friday, January 30, 2004
# Posted 9:47 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:51 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:00 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:38 AM by Patrick Belton
So if any of our readers have dates tonight, it's most recommended! (And if you don't, then there are websites for that.....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Reverend Sharpton, there is a great war going on in the world between the West and the Nation of Islam. And the United States, at the moment, is losing the war for hearts and minds. Everyone agrees on that, whatever their political position happens to be. [Actually, OxBlog thinks we've made progress when it comes to hearts and minds. --Ed.]If only Dr. Freud had been there. Why not just come out and ask Al Sharpton if he's an irresponsible demagogue like Farrakhan? (And the answer would be...) But I can forgive Tom Brokaw for his Freudian slip. It was at least entertaining.
However, the rest of Brokaw's questions were terrible. After going through tonight's transcript, I didn't have much an opinion about which candidate made an impressive showing or lost ground to his competitors. Because with questions like Brokaw's, all you wind up getting are evasions and cliches.
At first, Brokaw just asked questions about well-known gaffes that have already gotten more than their share of press coverage, for example Kerry's comments about getting southern votes. But then he started asking softballs that just gave the candidates a chance to launch into their stump speeches. I mean, do you really need to ask Howard Dean (in so many words) whether the President lied about Iraq?
Perhaps the strangest questions were the ones Brokaw had for Joe Lieberman. Basically, he only asked him about policies with which he agrees. Was it OK to invade Iraq without UN approval? Has NAFTA been good for the economy?
All in all, it seemed like Brokaw suffered from split personality disorder. Half the time he asked questions that were supposed to be tough but we're generally just impertient. And the other half of the time he asked questions so easy that there was no hope of learning anything about the candidates. Well, I guess that's how they did things back in the days of The Greatest Generation... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:19 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Mr. Bush, whose aides had been plotting a war against Iraq practically since Inauguration Day, has dodged questions about why the American intelligence about Iraq was just as wrong as Britain's intelligence.Was anyone on 44th St. paying attention when it turned out that Paul O'Neill's claims about pre-9/11 war planning were patently false? Even O'Neill himself admitted that his comments were misleading. Get with the program, people. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:09 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
In this time of political-religious tensions, school secularism is for us the foundation for civil peace, and for the integration of people of all beliefs into the Republic...Try telling that to some Jewish kid whose school just got firebombed. If educational secularism is the foundation of civil peace religious integration, I guess that makes it responsible for the fascist anti-Semitism of the French right and the Islamic anti-Semitism of the French left. Not to mention the apathy of those in the middle. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now, the reason I'm being so pedantic is that last night I rented Spellbound, a very sweet documentary about eight kids who made it to the National Spelling Bee in Washington. One of the eight gets asked to spell 'distractible', but spells it with an 'a' instead of 'i'. Of course, I thought he got it right and then felt sort of dumb when he got booted from the competition.
The film is different from a lot of documentaries because it doesn't seem to have a message or agenda. It is just a chance for the viewer to meet eight interesting young men and women as well as their families. What they have in common is an almost inexplicable love of language that results in an almost obsessive commitment to spelling every word in sight.
Unless you have a Ph.D. in English, you'll spend the second half of the film with your jaw wide-open while these kids spell words you've never even heard of. Hellebore? Euonym? Thank God I wasn't on that stage.
The final word in the National Spelling Bee represented an ironic choice on the part of the judges: logorrhea -- the excessive use of words. Might apply to certain blogs...
UPDATE: Who knew? Glenn Reynolds was once in the National Spelling Bee. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, January 29, 2004
# Posted 5:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 5:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Jon Keller responds: "Let's not pretend that a Kerry nomination would be anything more than the latest eruption of baby-boomer political flatulence." Ouch! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:33 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
UPDATE: TNR reminds us of Kerry's spectacular chameleon act from back in '91. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:32 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The point is, you judge a Shiite cleric first and foremost by his writings, his lectures to his students, the younger clerics he has trained, and his mentors. By all of these criteria, Grand Ayatollah Sistani is a "good" mullah. There are two big intellectual currents in modern Shiite clerical thought. One leads to Khomeini and the other leads to clerics like Sistani. There are certainly overlapping areas between the two schools of thought--the place of women in post-Saddam Iraq will likely be a fascinating subject--but on the role of the people as the final arbiter of politics, there is very little reason to doubt Sistani's commitment to democracy. Clerics like Sistani may use high-volume moral suasion, they may suggest that a certain view is sinful, but they understand that clerics cannot become politicians without compromising their religious missionNot a definitive answer, but a lot more specific than what we've been getting from the daily papers. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
# Posted 10:29 PM by Patrick Belton
Dear friends,(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Kevin's search came in response to Atrios' insistence that before the war
There were also plenty of reasonable people running around saying that this whole WMD stuff was nonsense. Remember how they were treated by our media? They were treated like escapees from an insane asylum who needed to up their Thorazine dose. Remember how radical and controversial it was to even suggest such a thing?Suspecting that Atrios was wrong, Kevin asked his readers to search high and low for evidence that someone reasonable doubted the existence of Iraq's WMD. Turns out that no one in either the United States or Western Europe expressed such doubts, although Vladimir Putin came close to doing so. If Kevin were inclined to do so, he might have added that Atrios got what he deserved for buying into the indefensible notion that the media has gone soft on Bush.
By the way, while you're over at CalPundit, check out Kevin's post on the economy. Good stuff. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:06 PM by Patrick Belton
I found out about the protest only late this afternoon, as the President of Malawi was in the midst of making a no-show at Oxford. (Which, given President Muluzi's nasty habits of suppressing critical journalists and denying opposition parties the right to hold peaceful rallies, might not on the whole be that bad a thing....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:30 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: It's up... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:11 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:02 AM by Patrick Belton
And that includes, incidentally, Nathan Hamm who's just written a Central Asia update over at Winds of Change. (Nathan normally blogs here.) (As opposed to Nathan Hale, who blogs here.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:57 AM by Patrick Belton
One of the greatest, freshest, most exciting parts of Howard Dean's campaign was always his refusal to play this hideous media soft-lens Oprah game. He wasn't very telegenic; he shot his mouth off; he said things other candidates were too afraid to say. The fact that his wife was completely absent from the campaign was a wonderful new testament to Dean's real feminism.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:39 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:05 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
FYI, it was this post on the relevance of sex change operations to gay marriage laws that caught Google's eye. The previous post had thanked Zeyad for posting pictures of an anti-terrorism march in Baghdad.
In case you were interested, the number one site for sex change operation pictures is here. It doesn't have any pictures either. But it suggests that an appropriate punishment for Osama bin Laden would be for him to have a sex change operation and then be forced to live under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
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