Monday, May 24, 2004
# Posted 11:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The purpose of this speech was to chart a course for the future of America in Iraq. As expected, Bush placed considerable emphasis on the June 30th handover date. Too much emphasis:
On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist and will not be replaced. The occupation will end and Iraqis will govern their own affairs.The suggestion that a nation will govern itself with 150,000 foreign soldiers on its soil and without an elected government is simply not credible. While most critics emphasize the first of those two points, I think the latter is just as important. The fact is, interim governments don't truly govern. Their purpose is to dissolve themselves and pave the way for an elected, constitutional authority.
By raising expectation of what the June 30th handover will accomplish, Bush is only hurting himself. From what I can tell, few Iraqis expect much to change on that date. What I expect is an updating of the artificial consensus that produced the current Governing Council. Once again, the US -- this time along with the UN -- is trying to provide Iraq with a government that won't offend anyone.
But governments that don't offend anyone are governments that don't govern. Without the mandate provided by an election, no Iraqi government can make the controversial decisions that will have to be made during the process of reconstruction. And if Iraqis can't make those decisions, then Americans and UN officials will. That is why it is thoroughly disingenuous for Bush to describe Negroponte's post as just another embassy.
Now on to the good parts of the speech. First and foremost, I was overwhelmed by the President's unabashed Wilsonianism. Even Reagan's most idealistic speeches never went this far, either in terms of emphasis or specificity. On far too many occasions, Reagan embedded his democratic aspirations in vague formulas that had few practical implications.
In contrast, Bush has now lain out a very clear schedule for the transition to electoral democracy in Iraq. His remarks announced specific deadlines for elections to the constitutional assembly, for a referendum on the draft constitution and for general elections. He has invested his America's prestige -- and perhaps the survival of his administration -- in this process.
He is also investing American soldiers. With Bush's approval ratings in the midst of an extended plunge, critics have suggested that the President was getting ready to cut and run. But now he has explicity promised to hold the size of the occupation force steady at 138,000 or even increase it if necessary. While Bush held "the commanders" responsible for estimating that only 115,000 troops would be necessary at this point, he did admit that the American effort to create self-sufficient Iraqi security force has resuled in failures.
Finally, Abu Ghraib. It will be razed. To be sure, Bush refused to admit that the abuses there went beyond the actions of a "few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values". Yet, in this instance, actions may ultimately speak louder than words. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
However, I would argue that focusing more on the failures of the domestic prison and mental health systems provides a proper context for understanding how American soldiers committed such brutal and hypocritical acts at Abu Ghraib. Our domestic failures reproduce themselves abroad.
This fact in no way mitigates the guilt or responsibility of those who violated the human rights of Iraqi prisoners. It simply points to the fact that we may not be able to set the standards we want abroad until we commit ourselves to setting them at home as well. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Although deprived of sleep, I am quite well-rested intellectually. I am actually excited to start working on my dissertation again. But I am a little apprehensive about blogging. Dissertation research behaves itself while you're away. When you come back, it is exactly where you left it.
But the blogosphere goes wild. How can I possibly catch up on hundreds of news articles and thousands of blog posts? How can I say anything without exposing myself to withering criticism from those who are now better informed than myself?
Yet strangely, I didn't feel at all disconnected from the world when I wasn't blogging. I threw an occasional glance at the headlines, but nothing seemed all that important. My life went on exactly as it had been going. No one I talked to seemed all that concerned about the news. What really mattered was that one of my closest friends ever, someone I lived with for four life-changing years, was entering into a life-long relationship with the woman he loves.
For someone who spends hours a day reading about, thinking about the news, this break served as an important reminder that very few of us inhabit the insulated reality known as the blogosphere. By the same token, it served as an important reminder that neither journalists nor politicians, no matter how important, play a prominent in the lives of most Americans.
One might argue that Americans should be more publicly-minded and better informed. But how much information is enough? At what point would the experts agree that American citizens know enough?
Of course, I am hardly the first one to consider the implications of such questions. Two hundred twenty-five years ago, the Founders sought to strike the right balance between creating a democracy and creating a republic. To what degree must elected representatives obey the will of the voters and to what degree must they act in what they believe to be the voters' best interests?
I have no new answers to these questions. I am simply glad that taking some time away from OxBlog enabled me to confront the real-life conditions that give rise to these eternal dilemmas. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, May 22, 2004
# Posted 11:19 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:00 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:00 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:50 AM by Patrick Belton
Friday, May 21, 2004
# Posted 10:49 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:58 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:47 AM by Patrick Belton
Britain is the only country to require the deletion of the offending breastfeeding scene, which contravene long-standing British social standards that breasts are to be used to sell newspapers rather than feed young Britons. French censors are uncomfortable about a brief shot of a stern-looking female judge receiving a jury verdict. Ireland has reportedly decided not to screen the advert at all. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:57 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:49 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
# Posted 9:22 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:06 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:01 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:06 PM by Patrick Belton
Dear Patrick,Thanks, Antara! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:54 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:30 AM by Patrick Belton
Javed Hashmi, a member of Parliament and leader of the opposition Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, was arrested last fall on sedition charges and received a 23-year sentence in April for producing a letter in Parliament demonstrating the opposition on the part of many of the nation's senior generals to the military's continued interference in politics and support for a restoration of deomcracy. Hashmi's family and lawyer complained about a lack of transparency in his trial and that he was provided with inadequate access to counsel to prepare his defense.
UPI for more. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:16 AM by Patrick Belton
So a Sarin-infected device is exploded in Iraq, and across the border in Jordan the authorities say that nerve and gas weapons have been discovered for use against them by the followers of Zarqawi, who was in Baghdad well before the invasion. Where, one idly inquires, did these toys come from? No, it couldn't be. …On India, the editor of the Hindu, currently a journalism fellow at the Kennedy School, calls Sonia's rejection of her proferred crown an 'ennobling moment for Indian democracy', even though another perspective might see in it an unwarranted legitimation of precisely the nativist claims the BJP was making against her during the campaign - which, in turn, do not ennoble Indian democracy, particularly. Also on India, TNR's Sunil Khilnani reviews Nehru's legacy of state secularism, and in the Wapo, Sebastian Mallaby points out that interpretations of the past election notwithstanding, the poorest of the poor in rural India area are actually doing rather better thanks to the last growth spurt:
People don't seem to have noticed that, whereas India's poverty rate stuck obstinately above 50 percent during the low-growth 1960s and 1970s, it is now falling precipitously: To 36 percent in the government's household survey of 1993-94; to 29 percent in the next survey, six years later. The idea that the countryside has not benefited is simply spurious. In the interval between the two most recent surveys, rural poverty fell from 37 percent to 30 percent.A number of commentators take the opportunity of the fiftieth anniversary of Brown to comment on racial equality in today's America. The centrist DLC uses the anniversary to endorse the No Child Left Behind Act, while the San Francisco Chronicle tells the story of black schoolchildren who were the first to enter previously segregated schools.
Elsewhere, Slate's William Salletan introduces 'Kerryisms', triumphantly proclaiming 'This one can't talk, either!' The NYT Book Review looks at books on China, books on integration, and Somalia. The New York Review of Books looks at Saul Bellow and Osama. In the Prospect, Lord Falconer and friends discuss Labour's constitutional reforms. And The Onion takes a trip to my beloved Dearborn, Michigan. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:49 AM by Patrick Belton
What about democracy? How compatible is it with Islamic law and custom?(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:24 AM by Patrick Belton
Prime Minister-presumptive Manmohan Singh is profiled by CNN, Kerala News, Guardian. He is by self-definition an apolitical technocrat, an academic with unimpeachable research credentials, and an economist seasoned by government experience whose selection has quite literally caused India's stock instantly to rise. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:53 AM by Patrick Belton
* made, 1684, in Cremona, Italy
* acquires its current name at end of 18th c. from British general who brings it to England from Italy
* purchased, Los Angeles Philarmonic Association, c. 1975
* left outside 'cellist Peter Stumpf's home by accident, April 25
* picked up by bicyclist, then dropped off roughly one mile away
* discovered by nurse Melanie Stevens, 29
* Stevens asks cabinetmaker boyfriend to convert the Stradivarius into a CD holder
* cello saved from an eternity as a CD holder on May 7th when Ms Stevens, an assiduous viewer of television, notices a news report about the Stradivarius, and returns it.
And who says L.A. residents don't appreciate the arts. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
# Posted 1:35 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:55 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
PS It is my birthday on Wednesday. In lieu of gifts, please make a donation to the David Adesnik Legal Defense Fund. Remember to specify criminal or civil on your cheque.
PPS It is Matt Yglesias' birthday on Tuesday. He doesn't yet have a legal defense fund, but you can find a good cause to donate to here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, May 17, 2004
# Posted 8:16 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:07 PM by Patrick Belton
In some types of lighting, clothes that one imagines to be opaque are exposed as unfortunately and surprisingly translucent. The hypothesis is grounded in the fact that her underwear does not appear to be of a type that one would intentionally wear-to-show. If Kerry knew her panties were to be on public view, one would hope she would choose a more interesting type.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:47 PM by Patrick Belton
GEN. KIMMITT: Good afternoon.
The coalition continues offensive operations to ensure a stable Iraq in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and transfer sovereignty. To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 2,000 patrols, 26 offensive operations, 46 Air Force and Navy sorties, and captured 57 anti-coalition suspects.
In the northern area of operations, 47 police officers from Najaf began a weeklong advanced skills training program at the Irbil police academy. This training will enhance their capabilities and provide officers from both regions the opportunity to build better relationships and share effective tactics, techniques and procedures.
In Baghdad, at 0955 this morning a suicide car bomb exploded near a coalition checkpoint in central Baghdad, killing seven civilians, to include the current Governing Council president, Mr. Izzedine Salim. Five civilians and two soldiers were wounded in this attack. A quick reaction force and medical personnel were on the scene within minutes of the attack, along with Iraqi emergency responders and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members. Coalition military forces join in denouncing this horrible crime and ask Iraqi citizens to contact telephone number 778-4076 with information leading to the arrest of any attackers.
The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found. The round had been rigged as an IED, which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy. A detonation occurred before the IED could be rendered inoperable. This produced a very small dispersal of agent. The round was an old binary type requiring the mixing of two chemical components in separate sections of the cell before the deadly agent is produced. The cell is designed to work after being fired from an artillery piece. Mixing and dispersal of the agent from such a projectile as an IED is very limited. The former regime had declared all such rounds destroyed before the 1991 Gulf War. Two explosive ordnance team members were minor exposure to nerve agent as a result of the partial detonation of the round.
In the western zone of operations, the situation in Al Anbar remains stable. The reduction of hostilities in Fallujah has seemingly had a calming effect across the area. Yesterday coalition forces hosted 43 government, religious, medical and ICDC leaders at the Camp Ramadi detention facility and 17 leaders at the Habbaniya facility. The visit was well received, with positive feedback from the local leaders. There was also one prisoner released to a sheik as a goodwill gesture.
Coalition forces met with the Fallujah Brigade leadership today and continue to plan with the brigade for future joint patrols in Fallujah. There were no violations of the cease-fire agreement, but neither were there any weapons turned in during this period.
In the central-south zone of operations, coalition forces defending the buildings near the Mukhaiyam Mosque in Karbala continued to be attacked with sniper, RPG and mortar fire. There were numerous engagements last night originating from the Iranian quarter in the downtown area of Karbala near the two holy shrines.
Polish multinational division reports Muqtada militia elements are staying close to the shrine of al-Imam al-Hussein, as they are aware of concerns that the shrines not be damaged. Sounds of fighting in the downtown area could be heard for much of the night and the Polish forces estimate 17 Muqtada militia killed in the vicinity of the shrine's area; 13 killed in other areas.
This morning coalition forces near the Mukhaiyam mosque were attacked with two rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Multinational Division Central South reports that Muqtada militia has occupied the second floor of the al-Imam al-Hussein shrine in downtown Karbala and is directing sniper fire from the western wall of the shrine on to coalition forces at the al-Mukhaiyam mosque.
Muqtada's militia is also firing on them from the streets and buildings of the Iranian quarter across from the al-Mukhaiyam. Phone calls from private citizens to the CPA elements in Karbala are also overwhelmingly supportive of continuing to fight Muqtada militia.
People from the Iranian quarter neighborhood are phoning to complain that coalition forces are not attacking Muqtada militia who have moved into their neighborhood. They say there are no religious sites in their neighborhood and they want Muqtada's militias out of their home.
In Najaf there have been three attacks this morning on Iraqi police stations. The enemy used a combination of mortars, rocket- propelled grenades and small-arms fire during each of these attacks. Coalition forces assessed these attacks as harassment and hit-and-run as the enemy has immediately broken contact and efforts to regain contact have not been successful. A coalition quick-reaction force was dispatched to assist in defending the police stations. One enemy was killed from these attacks and coalition forces continue to assist in the defense of these police stations in an Najaf.
In the southeastern zone of operations, enemy forces continued to engage coalition forces in Nasiriyah. From 21:00 until 01:00 last night, the CPA building was attacked on three separate occasions. Camp Libeccio, the coalition and Iraqi police liaison building in the center of town, was attacked on four occasions and these attacks led to a withdrawal from the building to a more protected site. One coalition soldier was killed and seven were wounded from these attacks. A coalition fixed-wing aircraft engaged five targets this morning. The targets were five vehicles that had been observed loading and unloading ordnance. And we estimate 20 enemy forces were killed during these strikes. Within Nasiriyah, coalition forces are continuing to patrol the city.
Q: some IGC members have expressed that they are blaming the coalition for not providing enough protection for them and, obviously, for Mr. Salim, and that was the result of why he was targeted today -- was a successful target. What could you guys respond to that?
A: (Mr Senor): Well, first of all, I'd say it's a very difficult time for everybody, and we understand that there are a lot of high emotions.
As for security that we provide, since the Governing Council has been formed, the coalition provides financial assistance for security, we provide body armor, weapons for personal security details, vehicles, in some cases armored vehicles. We offer close protection service training -- six-week courses back to back. That's approximately 200 individual personal security members of various GC members have gone through the courses. We offer a refresher course for these PSDs. Approximately 40 personal security service members from various GCs -- for various Governing Council personal security details have gone through the program.
Mr. Salim's security detail consists primarily of family members, which is the case with a number of the GC security details. He's chosen to rely on cousins and nephews, which was his choice. And unfortunately, our records show that none of his personal security detail members ever participated in any of our training programs. Again, his choice. We make the resources available, we make the training available, but it's up to the individual GC members and the security details if they want to participate in it.
Clearly, their security is a very high priority for us, and that's why we provide the funding, that's why we provide the body armor, that's why we provide the weapons, and that's why we provide this training.
Q, Sewell Chan from The Washington Post. A question for General Kimmitt. Sir, the Army right now is facing a continued insurgency in much of southern Iraq; obviously a lot of activity in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, and also this attempt at a takeover, the city of Nasiriyah. And now we're hearing that soldiers who are stationed in South Korea might be called into Iraq. Is the Army stretched thin? Are there enough resources here to deal with this continuing insurgency as we lead up to June 30th? Could you comment on that issue?
GEN. KIMMITT: Let me take the second point, then the third point, then the first point.
Number one, these fights that we are having against Mugtada militia are not stretching us thin at all. They are pretty much street thugs with weapons. They don't present much of a military threat. They're a nuisance. They're a harassment. And sadly, as you can imagine with street thugs with weapons, sometimes they kill and wound our soldiers. But in engagement after engagement, they have not been able to stand and fight. They're incapable of acting and responding as a disciplined force.
And it's sad that they have taken to hiding within the holy sites for the Shi'a religion as their only capability to defend themselves because they know that we have one of two choices, which is to either attack them and risk provoking an outcome which would have strategic implications, or we can be a little more precise, reposition if necessary. And of course, we've taken the latter.
I don't know that we are repositioning any forces from South Korea to Iraq. I've seen those reports. I haven't heard it from DOD. Certainly we're looking at all our force stationing throughout the world, but I think that the decisions being made with regards to Korea are not being made because of the tactical situation on the ground here in Iraq. That was a long-standing discussion that we've had with the Republic of South Korea. That country is more than capable of providing for its own defense. And Secretary Rumsfeld has said numerous times that we've got to look at a relevant force posture and relevant force positioning throughout the world. But to suggest that the decisions driving our withdrawal from Korea is a more pressing need in Iraq is a stretch that I'm not willing to make and I don't think anybody else in DOD will make as well.
To answer your final question, is the Army stretched thin, go back and ask DOD. I think, again, Secretary Rumsfeld as recently as his visit out here the other day talked about trying to find more capacity within the existing force. But these are the types of decisions that are being made in Washington, D.C. I don't think that those decisions are being driven by Iraq, but I think it's a recognition of the entire global war on terrorism and the capability for the military to be able to respond to that. Thus far we've been able to respond to it quite well.
Will it have a long-term effect on the Army if we continue this type of OPTEMPO for a period of years? Personally, I can tell you, it probably will. But I'm not an expert on force structure.
The Army is certainly back there now, taking significant strides to revamp the force structure from 33 to 45 brigades. But we're too busy fighting a war down here to be worried about those kind of things. We remain absolutely confident that the Army is back there, in the States, thinking about the best way to man, train and equip the force that we're going to need to be able to continue a long-term operation, not only here in Iraq, but whatever threat that comes up.
Q, Charlie Mayer from NPR. Do you have any idea at this point on who might have done this?
GEN. KIMMITT: It would have been our first impression that this was classic Zarqawi network. I understand about 10 minutes before I came in here that another group has popped up and is now, on the Internet, taking responsibility for this. We don't know if that's a cover for Zarqawi network or if it's an actual organization. But the fact remains this is the classic hallmarks of what we've seen on Zarqawi attacks: suicidal bomb, spectacular effect -- tried to go after a large number of civilians -- and also tried to go after a symbol, in this case two symbols; obviously -- clearly a high government official for the Governing Council as well as near a coalition checkpoint. So all of those indicators -- suicidal, spectacular, symbolic -- line up here. But we have this new group that has come in, and we don't know who this group is. We'll have to do some analysis on it.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:29 PM by Patrick Belton
Anyway, one thing that's particularly nice about H-Net is that its listservs provides free and easily accessible reviews of academic books - these are usually thoughtful and knowledgeable, they cover all of the books released by the leading academic presses, and they're not noticeably different in quality than, say, most of the ones that appear in journals. And it's awfully useful to have one place where you could read reviews on new academic work on subjects as diverse as, say, the seventeenth-century House of Commons, liberalism in Georgian England, women in Congress, religious and secular perspectives on ethical pluralism, ancient Greek cavalry operations, reading, society, and politics in early modern England, medieval Islamic jurisprudence on legitimacy in leadership, pamphleteering in early modern Britain, the evolution of the White House press secretary, and many, many more.
So kudos to the good people at H-Net, and for all the rest of you, this is a site that's worth checking back every now and again. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:07 AM by Patrick Belton
Also, one of our Deisi correspondents sends in www.allindianewspapers.com as a nice new portal collecting current stories from all major Indian newspapers in one spot. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:51 AM by Patrick Belton
Larry Rohter, the NYT reporter that was to be expelled by the Brazilian government, wrote a document asking for reconsideration of the cancellation of his visa. Though he did not explicitly apologize, he said enough ("did not intend to offend the president", "the portuguese version of the text isn't faithful") that Lula could reverse his sorry decision without looking chicken. With this, the Workers' Party administration managed to back down from its counter-productive and brutish censorship and save some amount of face.Xavier Botero appends this:
I'm not quite so sure myself that it was a "retraction," though it definitely was an apology, which, despite the shoddy journalism, was not necessary:And of course, what Latin America Watch could be complete without reference to the blogosphere's resident Latin America expert, Randy Paul - who this week is handicapping Chile's upcoming presidential elections. With Chile's conservative parties self-destructing (with, bizarrely, each of their leaders accusing the other of participation in sadomasochistic sex rings,
# Posted 4:24 AM by Patrick Belton
Mr Salim, a Shi'a and leader of the moderate Daa'wa Islamic Party, was a writer, philosopher and political activist.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called President Salim's assassination a terrorist act aimed at disrupting the transfer of power. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari responded to the assassination with the statement 'We will not be intimidated'.
UPDATE: By email, the statement of UK Special Representative David Richmond on the death of Iraqi Governing Council President Izzadin Salim:
“The assassination of Iraqi Governing Council President Izzadin Salim is an appalling crime. My thoughts and condolences are with Mr Salim’s family, and the families of others killed in today’s attack.
ALSO, the Iraqi Governing Council has announced that it has selected Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, a Sunni Muslim civil engineer from the northern city of Mosul, to replace Saleem. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, May 16, 2004
# Posted 2:03 PM by Patrick Belton
Minister 'raptured' at opening service(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:33 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:59 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:26 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:38 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
For Glenn, this constitutes evidence that the media has an anti-Bush agenda and will gradually lose its audience share to more reader-responsive sources of information. I strongly disagree.
There is no question that the media has made a subjective judgment that Abu Ghraib is far more important than the beheading of Nick Berg. But that is a judgment that I strongly endorse and for reasons that should be very familiar to conservatives.
We have known for a long time now that Al Qaeda has no shame and no respect for human life. No matter how gruesome, the beheading of Nick Berg did little more than confirm that fact.
In contrast, the events at Abu Ghraib have severely tarnished America's reputation as the foremost defender of democracy and human rights. In order to restore that reputation, we must ruthlessly pursue justice and punish those responsible for the abuses in order to ensure that this never happens again
American power rests just as much on its reputation as it does on its military and economic might. If we want to continue to use that power to promote American values, then we must restore our reputation.
Historically speaking, American journalists have long believed that they have the right to make judgments on their readers' behalf. There is no question that journalists have often misused this power of judgment.
Yet those who criticize the emphasis of Abu Ghraib at the expense of Nick Berg should remember that the New York Times and Washington Post provide extensive coverage of foreign affairs only because of their subjective judgment that such news is important.
If the leading newspapers and television networks responded exclusively to audience demands, domestic news would quickly displace almost all foreign coverage. And in time, entertainment, weather and sports would displace news about domestic politics.
Again speaking historically, American journalists are most willing to exercise their judgment when American behavior contradicts American principles. That is exactly what happened at Abu Ghraib. I do not doubt for a second that such abuses would receive just as much attention if there were a Democrat in the White House.
The exercise of judgment is an integral but often unacknowledged part of journalism. In this instance, that judgment is absolutely right.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:49 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
This important truth began to dawn on we while watching the E! special on the Olsen twins. At first, I thought it was just the make up or the clothes. After all, they're identical, right?
Wrong. Mary Kate and Ashley are fraternal twins. Moreover, they each have very distinct personalities. It is only the ignorance of mainstream journalists that perpetuates the notion of their being the same.
For example, look at the different roles each of the twins played while hosting Saturday Night Live tonight. Whereas Mary Kate excels at the physical humor of a Chevy Chase or Dan Akroyd, Ashley prefers the biting and understated satire of a Bill Murray or Harold Ramis.
Alright, so I made that up. The only real difference between the twins is that Ashley dyes her hair blonde. And what ultimately matters most is that they will both turn eighteen at exactly the same time. (You can follow the countdown here.)
The Vegas oddsmakers are already taking bets on who will get there first. The odds on Justin Timberlake are 3-1, Kobe Bryant 4-1 and Bill Clinton 12-1. If you are looking a big pay day, you can put your money on a Bryant/Clinton four-way at 25-to-1 or a Bill Clinton double-down at 45-to-1.
Side bets are also being taken on which Middle Eastern state Clinton will bomb in order to divert attention from the affair. Top picks are Syria at 2-1, Saudi Arabia 5-1 and Israel 9-1. In the event of a Clinton double-down, a nuclear strike on Tel Aviv is considered imminent.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, May 15, 2004
# Posted 8:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:05 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:30 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:23 AM by Patrick Belton
• Members may not eat or drink in the chamber. One exception to this is the Chancellor, who may have an alcoholic drink while delivering the Budget statement.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:42 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
"Things have progressed so much in my lifetime, that when I started as a foreign correspondent in difficult environments, you could spend half or three-quarters of the day finding a way to transmit what you’d written. Finding a cable. Finding the man who’s supposed to be operating the cable, who’s gone off for tea. All that time has come back to us in the form of productive reporting and writing time."Also:
The Times bureau has a bulletin board where all the major Iraq stories from other papers are posted. "Every morning, first thing we do is read what The Washington Post has done," Mr. Burns said. "Anthony Shadid in particular, but all of them.I wonder if they read the NYT, too. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:04 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
France's new foreign minister, Michel Barnier, [said] that France would never send troops to Iraq, not even as part of a peacekeeping force.While one should probably blame (or credit) Bush for France's unwillingness to become involved, the fact is that Kerry can't go on insisting that he will get our allies to do more for the occupation.
On a related note, France has issued a set of demands that America must accept if it wants France to support a Security Council resolution on the June 30 transfer of power in Iraq. Perhaps the demands are just an initial negotiatiating position from which the French will compromise. Otherwise, they are simply ridiculous. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The Iraqis for the first time in their history will decide what they want to do or not, whether there are U.S. troops there or not, and any transitional phase, whether it is Russia throwing off Communism, Germany coming out of Nazism, or Japan coming out of Emperor worship, has a 20 to 50-year transition, you know, giving birth is a painful experience...I guess the guys in KISS were taking the right kind of drugs all those years. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:04 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The time has come for those who had faith in American war plans to mock those who didn't. All I add is a note of caution, lest those who now mock become overconfident and leave themselves open to having the tables turned.So, KH is suggesting that the tables have in fact turned and that it is time for OxBlog to admit it. But I'm not so sure that I should. There is no question that the Ba'athist insurgency has proven more resilient than many of us -- including OxBlog -- expected. But is there any real evidence that it has much public support outside the Sunni Triangle? If anything, it seems to have alienated most Iraqis with its violent tactics.
Next come the Shi'ites. A few weeks ago, when Moqtada Sadr launched his rebellion, the NYT eagerly reported that this was the beginning of nationwide revolt that not only united the Shi'ite community but was bridging the Shi'ite-Sunni divide.
So much for that. Consider, for example, the extraordinary story in today's WaPo entitled "US Forces Attack Iraqi Holy City". It sounds like a classic mistake: showing contempt for Islam, losing hearts and minds, legitimizing Shi'ite radicals, etc.
But what do we hear from the residents of Najaf? At one point, three bullets hit the golden-domed shrine of Imam Ali.
"If it was done by the Americans, I don't think they did it intentionally," said Ali Awad, a 28-year-old Najaf resident, of the bullet holes. "If they wanted to destroy the shrine, they could destroy it. But they don't."Unless Mr. Awad suffers from an extreme from of the Stockholm Syndrome, I'd have to say that his heart and mind are in the right place. Of course, it's not that America is so great or wonderful. It's the fact that most Shi'ites seem to accept Ayatollah Sistani's belief that the best thing for the Shi'ites to help America build a democratic Iraq so that it can withdraw its forces sooner rather than later.
But that's what winning hearts and minds is really about: persuading others that you share the same interests. Now, does Mr. Awad resent America for what happened at Abu Ghraib? I'd imagine so. If most Americans are outraged at what happened, how could an Iraqi not be? (Don't answer that question. There may a disturbing number of Shi'ites and Kurds who think that torturing Sunnis is exactly what America should be doing.)
Anyhow, the bottom line is that Mr. Awad and many Shi'ites like him seem to be just as committed to cooperating with the United States as they were when Baghdad first fell. Will Abu Ghraib change that? I don't know. If it did, the real tragedy would not be that Iraqis never saw Americans as their liberators, but that Iraqis once saw Americans as their liberators, only to lose faith in the United States because of its shameful conduct. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, May 14, 2004
# Posted 12:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:20 AM by Patrick Belton
Warm Ties not Cold Calls: Leveraging Your Network - May 17th 6-8 p.m.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:27 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:19 AM by Patrick Belton
Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, commanding general of III Corps, referred charges against Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II to a general court-martial on May 5.As perhaps the only cause for hope in the entire affair, it will be interesting at least to see how a swift and fair administration of justice and demonstration of accountability in the Abu Ghraib events will be received in the Middle East. Startlingly, in his journal (though it was admittedly begun after military investigators began looking into abuse claims), Frederick wrote that conditions in Abu Ghraib prison were not nearly as bad as in the Virginia state prison where he worked in civilian life. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:16 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:37 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
But I won't. Not because the books aren't great or because I'm embarrassed at how few of the books I've read. The real problem is that I read so many of these books in high school. While I may have benefited considerably from reading them as a student, I have only vague memories of them today.
More importantly, one ability's to appreciate great literature increases dramatically along with one's life experience. Thus, the real question isn't "Have you read this book?" but rather "How recently have you re-read this book?" Lists are fun, but it may be more productive to ask ourselves which works of art and literature have had a tangible impact on our lives.
UPDATE: Nitin over at HawkenBlog has some interesting thoughts on this subject. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:25 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
What, then, is the case for Rumsfeld resigning? Simply that this scandal has caused devastating damage to America's moral standing in the world, and we need to recover fast. Apologizing ad nauseam isn't going to do it. Even court-martialing the perpetrators, though important, isn't enough. We need to regain the initiative as more nightmarish pictures emerge.Robert Tagorda thinks that Boot's argument is solid, but that the moment for a Rumsfeld resignation has passed. Somehow, I suspect that there may be more such moments in the future. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Washington Times is stealing from Rob Tagorda. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, May 13, 2004
# Posted 10:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:08 PM by Patrick Belton
The release of the movie Troy prompts me to wonder again about why certain things are named after the Trojans. Take sports teams, for example, like the USC Trojans. Now, there is just one story cycle involving the Trojans and conflict, and in it the Trojans decisively, utterly lose. I’m not saying they’re losers, per se; I’m always rooting for the Trojans because I love Hector. But imagine a coach giving an inspirational speech along these lines: “Guys, I want to you get out there and fight with all your hearts, only to see all you hold dear destroyed. At the end of this bowl game, I want you to feel like the original Trojans did when the saw their ancestral altar run red with the blood of aged Priam, beheld the pitiful spectacle of little Astyanax’ body broken on the walls of Troy, and heard the lamentations of their daughters, mothers and wives as they were reduced to slavery in a foreign land.” It’s not exactly “win one for the Gipper”, is it?(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:42 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:52 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:59 PM by Patrick Belton
The candidates are (alphabetically): Anne Carson (a Canadian currently at the University of Michigan), lighthearted Yorkshireman Ian McMillan, the prolific Australian native (a Londoner since 1951) Peter Porter, English expat in Boston (and frequent NYRB contributor) Christopher Ricks, and self-proclaimed 'stunt candidate' Mark Walker.
The Guardian, whose literary reportage is always quite good, goes to Ladbrokes and reports 'Following the close of nominations on Wednesday, Ladbrokes put the odds on Professor Ricks getting the job at 2/1, followed by Anne Carson (5/2), Peter Porter (4/1) Ian McMillan (5/1) and Mark Walker (5/1).' (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:07 AM by Patrick Belton
(My only other thought is that while announcing a short-list including respected Republican senators from across the aisle would be an extraordinary act of statesmanship from a president-elect, coming from a candidate it can't help but place Senators McCain and Warner in a rather awkward position - as they'd instantly come under pressure from their own party to demonstrate that they support its own candidate for reelection. They both, incidentally, also come from states with Democratic governors who would then appoint their replacements, but Kerry can't be begrudged having the interests of his party at least somewhat to heart.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:24 AM by Patrick Belton
I was just in the process of trying to come up with a witty remark on the fact that David's last name had evolved to 'Odesnik' on the web page of the Boston NPR affiliate, when it struck me - heck, they're actually right! In the transition Odesnik (as in, 18 year old tennis legend Wayne Odesnik) -> Adesnik (as in the 26 year old blogging legend David Adesnik, or the equally legendary biophysicist Milton Adesnik whose age I won't mention as he occasionally lets me sleep on his sofa) to indicate 'someone who derives from the city of Odessa', we have a lovely example of the Russian reduction of unstressed orthographic /o/ to [a], which is a phenomenon that has intrigued linguists for a century and a half once they discovered that it occurs across languages. While on the one hand, Slavic languages and even individual dialects of Russian and Ukrainian differ considerably in how they make these assimilative and dissimilative vowel shifts, we can see, for instance, in English the reduction of intial /o/ in the transition from 'lobe' to 'lobotomy', where it is unstressed, or in Catalan and Portuguese, in the shift of quality of unstressed 'o' to /u/. So 'someone deriving from Odessa' would be spelled 'Odesnik' while pronounced [a]desnik, in the same way that eto and spasibo are pronounced et[a] and spasib[a].
Which is all to say that the folks at WBUR probably either have a wonderfully dry wit or wanted to take extra care yesterday to be orthographically correct. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
# Posted 10:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The biographical commercials are really impressive. My only question is: How much did the Yale admissions office have to pay him for the endorsement?
In contrast to the bio ads, Kerry's Iraq commercial is patently ridiculous. The Senator starts out strong by saying "Let me tell you exactly what I would do to change the situation in Iraq." Hey, I'm all ears. We need some new ideas for the occupation.
Then Kerry says: Have our allies send their troops to Iraq so not as many American soldiers have to die. I can just imagine Kerry on a conference call with Chirac and Schroeder some time in January 2005. "Jacques, Gerhard, could you send some of your boys to die in Iraq so that my poll ratings don't suffer? That's the least you owe me for getting rid of George Bush."
Anyhow, the good news for Kerry is that he sounds very presidential. He has a reputation for being wooden and stand-offish, but I think he comes across as both personable and thoughtful in his ads. He seems like someone you could trust. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Lesson: Voters don't immediately shift their support to the challenger when dissatisfied with the incumbent. But if their opinion of the incumbent doesn't change, switch they will. So is Kerry going to win in the fall? I don't know. Carter and Bush I couldn't do anything to fix the economy. But this time the election is about national security. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," [Sen. Inhofe (R-OK)] said. While saying a few "misguided" and "maybe even perverted" perpetrators of abuse needed to be punished, he suggested that much of the criticism was exaggerated and misplaced.That's 'Idiotarian' with a capital 'I'.
UPDATE: DR writes that "I agree with Inhofe's statements 100%. You sir, are the moron." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
My concern, however, is that the comforting presence of such hero may prevent both politicians and journalists from fully exposing the personal and institutional failures that created Abu Ghraib. According to the WaPo account of Taguba's congressional testimony, the General
found no evidence the misconduct was based on orders from high-ranking officers or involved a deliberate policy to stretch legal limits on extracting information from detainees.While technically accurate, this description creates a false dichotomy between orders-from-above and initiative-from-below. Yet Taguba himself was careful to note that
he did not conduct his investigation any higher in the chain of command than General Karpinski, leaving open the possibility that responsibility for the failure in leadership went higher than General Karpinski.According to Gen. Karpinski, she sparred constantly with May. Gen. Miller and Lt. Gen. Sanchez about how to run the prison system in Iraq. The involvement of officers as high-ranking as Miller and Sanchez means that the issues being discussed were important enough for the Secretary of Defense and his subordinates to be playing close attention. An exploration of their role is critical to this investigation.
The place to begin such an investigation is with the contradictions between the testimony of Gen. Taguba and Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Cambone. Until we reconcile their statements, we won't really know what American policy in Abu Ghraib was. While neither Rumsfeld nor his subordinates have been exceptionally forthcoming in response to public and congressional, I think the NYT gets things very wrong when it says that
The administration and its Republican allies appear to have settled on a way to deflect attention from the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib: accuse Democrats and the news media of overreacting, then pile all of the remaining responsibility onto officers in the battlefield, far away from President Bush and his political team.Yes, Dick Cheney said that "Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had," and that "people ought to get off his case and let him do his job." But the administration's real strategy for dealing with this scandal is far more prosaic: distort the truth and hope that nobody is paying attention.
When President Bush first went on Arab television to denounce the human rights violations at Abu Ghraib, I had hoped that his response was the first step that this administration would take to correct its mistakes, not the last. But since then, the President has let Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co. evade responsibility. While I don't believe that Bush is complicit in this effort, his inability to recognize the ethical failures of his closest advisers is a sort of moral blindness all its own. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:57 AM by Patrick Belton
• One day after the United States announced sanctions on Damascus for its support of terrorism, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, who is broadly regarded as a Syrian puppet, showed he had a sense of humour and said 'This is yet another proof that the U.S. administration is biased and reels under Israeli influence.’(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:41 AM by Patrick Belton
These were Bremer's remarks on the occasion:
It is a great pleasure to be with you today.Iraq's Foreign Minister is Hoshyar Zebari, a British-educated Kurd. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be accessed online here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:36 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:44 AM by Patrick Belton
Next stop for Brazil: look for Lula to begin smoking large cigars. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:22 AM by Patrick Belton
It's still hard for me to see what's inside with Akhmad Kadyrov. Written two decades before anyone knew who the Chechen strongman assassinated yesterday in a monstrous bomb-blast was, Gabriel Garcia Marquez sculpted the perfect metaphor for it in Autumn of the Patriarch. Breaking into the presidential villa, the rebels find the old man's body caked in mold, and his body is found to be stuffed with flowers.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion