Monday, October 10, 2005
# Posted 8:45 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:40 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:28 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:24 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:48 PM by Patrick Belton
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, October 09, 2005
# Posted 6:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Thus, I am extremely gratified to report that Students for Global Democracy (SGD), founded by Charlie Szrom at Indiana University, has already organized chapters at twelve different universities in six different countries, including, remarkably enough, Nepal.
SGD's signature effort is its BELL campaign, whose purpose is to support the non-violent democratic movement struggling to push out Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenka, aka "Europe's last dictator". (Photo above)
Next Saturday, SGD will lead a Worldwide Walk for Democracy in Belarus. It purpose is to raise awareness of repression in Belarus as well as to raise funds to help the opposition. As part of the event, SGD chapters across the globe will lead 12-kilometer walks, one kilometer for each year Lukashenka has been in power.
If you are a student and you want to do something that really matters, get involved with SGD. See if there's a chapter near you. If not, start your own.
If you're not a student, why not send a few dollars to SGD so that they can keep up the good work? I'll be sending them $50 as soon as I'm done with this post.
If you're a blogger, go to SGD's website, read about the organization, and then post about it, because they deserve to be better known.
Oh, and in case your're wondering whether SGD is effective, Lukashenka's thugs have already started to harass SGD's friends in Belarus. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Saturday, October 08, 2005
# Posted 6:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I think that most political blogging falls into the category of opinion journalism. Although not regimented into 800-word columns, blogging resembles very closely what one sees on the editorial page of America's major newspapers. It consists of analysis based on facts compiled by others.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
prompted Bolton to inquire, “I'm just curious, those of you who are hissing, who do you think will judge better than us?”Canada, presumably. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:55 AM by Patrick Belton
My participation in Irish society consists, conversely, mostly of bad jokes.
Quick quiz of the day: which is more likely to elicit an invitation to an ambassador's residence shortly after arriving in Switzerland?
Answer: another guiness brownie, excellency? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:13 AM by Patrick Belton
Also, my housemate Barbara has just made a machine that makes mooing noises, a useful invention for a heavily bovine rural area. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, October 07, 2005
# Posted 1:19 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:38 AM by Patrick Belton
'[W]hen the moment came his character defined the moment rather than the moment defining him. He made the image, I just took the picture. I felt honoured to be there.'
The man in the image has been named as Wang Wei Lin, though without certainty. He has never been heard from again.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:09 AM by Patrick Belton
Why? Mark me down alongside the fetching Camilla Cavendish,
By the time I got to Blackpool on Monday I was wondering how difficult it would be to start a new party. That weekend a Populus poll had found that 49 per cent of voters agreed with the statement “British politics would be better off if the Conservative Party was replaced by a new right-of-centre party” — a palpable level of frustration that is the very reverse of apathy.Hear, hear. Mercifully the right flank's banner-bearer David Davis self-destructed after giving delegates a sense of what they could have watched during PMQs for five years. Another parliamentary bumbler far to the right of the nation would have given Labour too easy a ride, and politics would have (continued to have) been the poorer. Cameron's take on One Nationism leaves one hoping he might offer Britain what it hasn't had for ages - a credible Opposition for Her Majesty which promises for the UK what in 1998 a candidate Schröder long past had once portended for Germany, a new debating partner and a new middle. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:58 AM by Patrick Belton
Thursday, October 06, 2005
# Posted 11:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 6:56 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:32 PM by Patrick Belton
Aunt Julia(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:08 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:14 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
As such, I find it quite remarkable that the top item right now on the UC law school homepage is an announcement of the faculty blog's existence. Earlier this year, a research center with which I was affiliated briefly entertained a proposal to start a blog for the faculty and graduate students. The idea went nowhere, I think, because even those who liked it didn't really believe that enough people would take the idea seriously.
What the issue comes down to, I think, is the perception that blogging is inherently unbecoming of a scholar. Posts are brief and rapid-fire. But what I hope that more faculties are beginning to discover is that blogging can serve as an important complement to the traditional forums for scholarship.
No one thinks that blogging should replace books or journal articles. But I think it can serve as an invaluable means of allowing scholars to apply their knowledge to current situations without having first to write a 30 or 300 page manuscript. Thus, I wish the UC faculty bloggers all the best and hope that their example will demonstrate that blogging is anything but the academic equivalent of lese majeste. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
# Posted 11:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
New York City's police force has fewer officers, less money and more work than it did four years ago. Yet, by almost any measure, the city is safer today than it was before Michael R. Bloomberg became mayor in January 2002.This afternoon, I watched New Jack City, a film best described as Scarface set in Harlem, starring Wesley Snipes instead of Al Pacino. Although mostly a primitive shoot-'em-up, New Jack City (NJC, for short) also has pretensions of serving as a commentary on Reaganomics' responsibility for the urban crime wave of the 1980s.
The strange thing about watching NJC in hindsight is trying to empathize with the pervasive fear of drugs and street crime that once made living in New York so emotionally draining. Even as a child at the time -- or perhaps precisely because I was a child at the time -- I had a very sharp perception of my middle-class, family-centered way of life being under siege.
And most disturbing thing of all was the knowledge that the situation could never get better, only worse. There had once been a golden age for New York City, but I knew that it never would return. (By the same token, sophisticated intellectuals in the 1980s believed that America's golden age was dead and gone, never to return. See Kennedy, Paul.)
Now I certainly don't give Giuliani or Bloomberg all of the credit for stamping out crime in New York. But my point here isn't about who deserves credit. It is about the changed mindset made possible by a safer New York.
According to this morning's Times, crime is down 20% since 2001, with murders down from 714 in Giuliani's last year to 572 in 2004. But what has happened in New York over the past decade and a half transcends statistics. It is about living in a city which you are proud of, in which one feels that public spaces truly belong to the public and not to the threat of criminal violence.
The crime wave of the 1980s gave rise to an entire genre of black, urban crime stories: New Jack City (1991), Colors (1988), Juice (1992), Boyz N The Hood (1991), Menace II Society (1993). Although, unlike NJC, some of those films were excellent, I think that they were all made possible by a cultural moment in which Americans felt that they were losing control of the cities they lived in.
Of course, gangsta culture hasn't disappeared. It continues to inspire an unending array of million-selling albums purchased by kids in the suburbs. But the success of these albums doesn't depend on their threatening the listener, the way the films mentioned above threatened their audience. In this sense, gangsta culture has become more tame, even as it glorifies the mindless self-destruction of young black Americans. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:34 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:50 PM by Patrick Belton
For more nasty chaps, see this WSJ piece on al-Manar, the Hezbollah telly network which is your first stop on cable for unbiased trustworthy information on Jewish ritual child murder, the underrated joys of jihad and DIY martyrdom in Iraq in five easy steps. Nissan and Tefal advertise on the network; for shame. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:39 AM by Patrick Belton
Also worth listening to in podcast form - BBC's recent series on the future prospects and promises of the larger developing countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called BRIC nations. Though personally, and perhaps it's because it's roundabouts lunchtime, I prefer the BLT nations of Brazil, Lebanon, and Turkey. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:54 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:17 AM by Patrick Belton
There's something strangely British about this hottie, which we haven't been able to quite put our fingers on. But that doesn't mean you'll be able to keep yours off: this stiff upper lip has got the slyest hint of a pout, and if there's reserve on the outside, I think you'll find things heat up quite a bit underneath. We hope this hottie comes over to warm up our dark, wet, dank, dreary, influenzal countryside nights. Sob. Mother? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
# Posted 5:34 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:13 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:01 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:00 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:56 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:48 AM by Patrick Belton
Thought you might be interested in learning a little bit more about the Guardian's expert on the killer dolphins.I still think it was a damned good caption. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:45 AM by Patrick Belton
Mr. Belton, (regarding Michael Lind in Prospect. ah, go on - all my friends call me 'm'lord' - ed.)(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:08 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:54 AM by Patrick Belton
Hello Patrick(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:51 AM by Patrick Belton
* Dylan reference. For Dylangate, incidentally, see here for underwhelment of the left and here for the underwhelment of the right with Scorsese's latest. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:11 AM by Patrick Belton
OxBlog's answer to page 3. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, October 03, 2005
# Posted 8:03 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:45 PM by Patrick Belton
We would have sent our brand new west of Ireland artsy fartsy correspondent, but she's oddly on the wrong end of the country. Máire did file by 'phone this evening, however, to tip Charlie Byrne's to take over Kenny's mantle as bibliophile must-see site when in Galway. (Very very unrelated word of the day in her honour: 'jailteacht,' to describe IRA prisoners' autodidacticism of Irish in H-Block and elsewhere.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:09 PM by Patrick Belton
Elsewhere, at the convention today Francis Maude said the party must change or die, frontrunner David Davis seemed to disagree (oops), Rifkind made a call for one-nation conservatism, q.v., and Ken Clarke, whom I happen to quite like and who is as close to a Heathian Tory as there is out there at the moment, had to reassure party members that he really didn't like Europe all that much; actually, it was more of a fling, really. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:57 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:47 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:52 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
It is a free service designed specifically for those who don't have plans to go elsewhere. There are 100 places available for walk-ins. Tell the folks at the door that OxBlog sent you and you'll get a smile. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:21 PM by Patrick Belton
Also at CFR today, Ambassador Sestanovich looks to who's in position to succeed Putin. (Hat tip: Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces have announced an anti-Kremlin alliance, starting with Moscow city council elections this autumn. Putin for his part looks to step down to influence from 'the ranks', a la Lee Kuan Yew or Deng Xiaoping from the Central Military Commission, though not Jiang Zemin)
And finally, Charlie Kupchan says Europe is having quite a bad hair day: the pace of integration and economic growth will be further slowed by a weak government in Berlin, and the demise he foresees for Turkey's accession prospects (occulted under a facade of hollow negotiations) will cultivate nationalism there. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:44 AM by Patrick Belton
Yesterday,Gotta give credit where credit is due: Jerry Pournelle (minor degradations mine) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, October 02, 2005
# Posted 9:02 AM by Patrick Belton
I'm quite for Turkish membership, promoting Europe as an example of diverse peoples living under liberal democracy, and taking at European level a principled stand against the populist rhetoric surrounding discussion of Turkish membership in Austria, Germany and France. Turkey would provide a sharply greying Europe with a massive infusion of cheap, young labour which it desperately needs, and with subsidies from Brussels probably having peaked following the recent round of enlargement, it (unlike France) is unlikely to siphon off much from European treasuries in the form of structural aid and other subsidies. And this is a sharp moment in Turkey's own political evolution, determining whether its recent political, economic, legal and civil rights reforms will be rewarded or spurned by neighbours whose moral legitimacy turns not on their being a club of prosperous white Christians, but on upholding precisely those sorts of reforms and rights.
So here's one for hoping that meeting tonight in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers do the right thing. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:21 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:02 AM by Patrick Belton
Elsewhere in the papers:
The New Criterion notes the NYT's cultural coverage is really rotten while meanwhile in Britain, intellectuals beat up men of letters. Christopher Andrew has a lovely charming piece on spies and Indira. Frequent TLS contributor Ronald Aronson opines gimme that old-style atheism, while Carlos Fuentes, developing further some material I heard him lecture with in London, looks to nominative uncertainty within Don Quijote for wellsprings of the novel as democratic polyforum, the public square where everyone has a right to be heard but no one has the right to exclusive speech. ("Religion is dogmatic. Politics is ideological. Reason must be logical. But literature has the privilege of being equivocal. The quality of doubt in a novel is perhaps a manner of telling us that since authorship (and thus authority) are uncertain and susceptible of many explanations, so it goes with the world itself.") And finally, Rebecca Saxe, a lovely brainy lady who studies brains, examines the potentialities of cognitive science to offer descriptive theories of universal moral reasoning. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, October 01, 2005
# Posted 12:03 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:32 AM by Patrick Belton
(Disclaimer: I write occasionally for Sir Peter's publication, but receive no remuneration for plugging his blog. But I am inadverse to being remunerated, and in fact would consider it quite nice, actually.) (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:47 AM by Patrick Belton
Incident(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:09 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:06 AM by Patrick Belton
As to the first day of the month, it's the Kalends, origin of calendar, and the day on which debts come due. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:01 AM by Patrick Belton
Also, one of the side benefits of being a blog that's been around for a bit, of which Dan Rather can only be jealous, is that after a while you inevitably come to be one of the top google hits for monstrous tits. (David, not me.) More humbling, we're also the top hit for misinterprets. (That one'd be me.) (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, September 30, 2005
# Posted 1:29 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:28 AM by Patrick Belton
Thus Ramananda Sengupta:
To me this is much more personal. My father died unattended because the goddamned doctors had gone on strike in Calcutta.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:25 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:17 AM by Patrick Belton
I quibble with whether the ideal he describes is quite so much in decline: I've certainly come across it quite strongly at Oxford, and earlier at Yale as well. My personal impression might be that technocratic specialisation is more inculcated by the British former polytechnics and American state universities to create niches in which their graduates can compete with those of the grander sounding unis. The question is rather whether liberal humanistic education has then become a luxuriant preserve of graduates who can coast on the names of their universities in the labour market, a state of affairs which has its unsettling aspects as well.
But it's nonetheless an ideal quite worth defending and expanding (who ever writes pieces, or posts, arguing for ditching liberal education?), and I find the way he goes about doing so to be quite resonant. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:08 AM by Patrick Belton
In response to repeated reader requests, we'll soon switch all our blogging over to Irish and Uzbek. But not for a few weeks yet. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, September 29, 2005
# Posted 9:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
David Ignatius: We're winning the war in 2/3 of Iraq, but that other 1/3 is killing us.
Jim Hoagland: Bush won't listen to reason. How about to an old college buddy?
David Broder: Here's a list of Republicans who can tell Bush how to deal with Katrina.
Leon Kass: Americans refuse to admit that getting old means getting frail.
Robert Novak [print only]: There are a few Republicans left who don't want to spend like Democrats.
Editorial 1: Tom Delay is a big jerk, but he may be innocent.
Editorial 2: The GOP Congress wants innocent people to get the death penalty.
Editorial 3: Virginia pols don't have the guts to raise taxes, so the highways are f****d.
Today's must read? Ignatius, hands down. Reporting from the front lines in Iraq, he writes:
It's a war in which U.S. troops remain upbeat, even as support deteriorates back home; in which the appearance of stability in much of Iraq is shattered by spasms of hideous violence; in which U.S. military strategy is confounded by Iraq's political disarray...I don't agree with that last point. There isn't much reason to think that Sunni politicians -- let along the insurgents -- will be worn down enough by the end of the year to play a constructive role in government. Set an early deadline, and we are asking for chaos.
Nonetheless, great reporting from Ignatius. Also of note, Jim Hoagland suggests that the GOP can get around its aversion to tax hikes by just asking for a one-time, one-percent-of-your-income "surcharge" to help pay for Katrina. Here's my idea: pass a one percent surcharge, but allow people to divert as much of it as they want to Katrina-related charities. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:40 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:26 AM by Patrick Belton
I'm told, however, by credible informants that the pink balloons pictured slightly to the northeast of Mrs Blair's head do not, in fact, represent a choice of headgear. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:16 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:16 AM by Patrick Belton
Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War.But don't just trust the Guardian. Trust the U.S. military instead. Take it from NSCT-1: if it has an acronym, after all, it must exist.
As the SPAWAR web page notes, there are five 'marine mammal systems' utilised in operations by U.S. Naval Special Clearance Team-One. There are MK 4, MK 7, and MK 8, which use dolphins to retrieve mines and lost objects; MK 5, which uses sea lions, and MK 6, which uses both sea lions and dolphins, but not Seals, which are apparently different. (But wait, the dolphins are attacking and killing...mines? ed: Perhaps the Guardian thought they said mimes.) Dolphins are better at working underwater than humans, controversially claimed Mike Fedak, a marine mammal biologist at the University of St. Andrews and apologist for American empire. They also apparently require less shore leave. So if you join Naval special operations, you might end up swimming with the
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
# Posted 6:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Robert Samuelson: The Japanese and Germans aren't concerned enough about making profits.
Harold Meyerson: Why must American corporations be so damn concerned about making profits?
Anne Applebaum: Louisiana pols prefer pork to profits.
Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland: North Korea prefers starvation to profits.
Editorial 1: Bush's record on torture is appalling.
Editorial 2: Bush now wants us to conserve oil? He sounds like Jimmy Carter.
Editorial 3: Thank God the US airline industry is in dire straits.
Also, in connection with Editorial 1, the Post has reprinted a letter from Army Capt. Ian Fishback to Sen. John McCain describing his futile effort to get guidance from his superiors about how to treat prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fishback's letter shows that the armed forces have recklessly ignored the issue of torture and that their civilian superiors have displayed an even more disturbing brand of apathy. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:55 PM by Patrick Belton
While we're waiting for our blogroll, you can see here for a detailed review of the extant academic literature on Shane's teeth:
Shane MacGowan is somewhat famous for his teeth, or lack thereof. Many of his teeth are missing; the remainder are rotten, crooked and resemble cigarette butts.As an excuse to insert another Hibernocentric comment here, research has indicated that the only women interested to date Irish males are apparently American. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:39 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:53 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:39 AM by Patrick Belton
(I should note that back when the Jews, Skull and Bonesmen and Freemasons were running the world, we spelt quite well, thank you.)
hugs and kisses, Zokor-5 (formerly Shmuelly Throckmorton III).
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:53 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
"Completely humiliated by his obvious incapacity to face the wrath of God, who battered New Orleans, city of homosexuals."(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:50 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Prosecutors had sought 74,000 years apiece in prison for [conspirators] Yarkas, Chebli and Ghayoun, representing 25 years for each of the almost 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.Yarkas got 27 years a piece instead, the other defendants. I guess we won't find out about the virgins. Plus, commentary from Capt. Ed. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
# Posted 3:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
George Will: Dianne Feinstein is a bleeding-heart liberal.
Richard Cohen: Why isn't John Roberts a bleeding-heart liberal?
Ira Katznelson: We should all be bleeding-heart liberals.
E.J. Dionne: Democrats aren't sure whether they should be bleeding-heart liberals.
Eugene Robinson: Protests are groovy.
Editorial 1: The worst looters in Louisiana are the congressmen.
Editorial 2: There is a tiny chance that diplomacy could work with Iran.
Editorial 3: Bureaucracy killed a small child. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:27 AM by Patrick Belton
"But... are these what the virgins in paradise will look like, effendi?"Also,
Dear Mr. and Mrs. _AL-DURRA____:(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, September 26, 2005
# Posted 11:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
David Ignatius: Our generals really, really, really want Iraqi soldiers to fight harder.
Jackson Diehl: Imagine if Fidel Castro had lots of oil. That's Hugo Chavez.
Sebastian Mallaby: If America doesn't stop borrowing, it will qualify as Latin.
William Raspberry: Poor people fantasize about money instead of earning it.
Robert Novak [print only]: The GOP is addicted to pork. Bush, too.
Editorial 1: Please nominate another justice with no opinions, Mr. President.
Editorial 2: Beltway traffic sucks.
Editorial 3: Jack Abramoff is hurting Bush, not just DeLay.
Best article? Jackson Diehl, hands down. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:10 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Seriously, folks, can we get back to the real work of spreading the progressive message and end these useless noisefests?Lorelei Kelly asks,
[Is] ANSWER working for Karl Rove?Only Deep Throat knows for sure. Btw, it is worth noting that Lorelei found the protest itself "hugely gratifying". In contrast, Matt Yglesias is
Beset with deep-seated doubts about the efficay of this sort of endeavor,although he reports that the rock concert afterward was hugely gratifying. If I hadn't been zonked after the protest, I might've also stayed to watch Le Tigre at midnight.
Moving on to the real positives, Max Sawicky celebrates the "diversity" of the protest, while lashing out at "jingoists" who try to subvert the anti-war movement by pointing to the role of ANSWER in organizing the protests.
Max's full explanation of the jingoists' tactics is here. In it, he observes that
There is little that is offensive in the ANSWER positions per se, from a mainline radical standpoint.Or as OxBlog might say, there is little that is offensive in Pat Robertson's positions per se, from a mainline reactionary standpoint. Also, Max blasts the Democratic Party and the "so-called liberal blogosphere" for being AWOL at the protests. On that point, OxBlog is compelled to agree that the Dems were absent. Score one for Max.
Over at EzraKlein.com, Shakes is touting the 500,000 turnout figure provided by some. As someone who attended the anti-war protests in NYC in 2004, which apparently had an actual attendance of 500,000, my thoroughly inexpert opinion is that yesterday's march had 15 to 30 percent of that.
Also, Shakes blasts the MSM for only covering the "nutzoid radicals" instead of the mainstream protesters. I think she must be talking about the NYT.
On a similiar note, BradBlog is angry about the MSM's insufficient coverage of the protests, especially those networks who didn't send camera crews. When it comes to the numbers game, Brad cites 100,000 as the absolute minimum and 600,000 as the upper limit.
Finally, Nicholas Beaudrot argues that insufficient or biased press coverage may not matter, since today's anti-war movement has become much more influential much more rapidly than the anti-war movement in the days of Vietnam.
I would add that not too many Democrats jumped onto that bandwagon all that early in the game, either. You might say that Kerry '04 is our Humphrey '68. The question is, who will play George McGovern? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, September 25, 2005
# Posted 8:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Given most conservatives commitment to teaching the MSM a thing or two about fairness, I think it would be a beneficial thing for them to engage in slightly more self-criticism, even if they don't have pretensions of being neutral or objective.
To its credit, the WaPo did a reasonable job of covering the counterprotests, although its account leaves out enough important things for the subject to merit a post of its own here on OxBlog. What's good about the WaPo article is that tells you both about the dignified presence of soldiers' families as well as the nastiness of some of the counterprotesters' counterattacks:
Debbie Ellsworth of Wolverine, Mich., had a framed photo of her son Justin, who was killed Nov. 13, 2004, in Al Anbar province, Iraq. "I know what kind of grief Cindy Sheehan must have because of the death of her son. I feel that same grief for my son," Ellsworth said, "but remember that she does not speak for me."...What the Post fails to report is that the protesters directed that kind of remark and much worse at their counterparts. During the 30 minutes or so I spent along the line of police officers and metal fencers separating the rival groups, I constantly heard the protesters tell the counterprotesters they were Nazis and fascists.
One red-faced men even responded to a large poster that read "Duty, Honor, Country" by saying "Hitler would have loved that! Pflicht, Ehre, Land!" The man, whose prowess at translation I admire, then went around screaming "Heil Hitler!"
Another disturbingly common response by protesters was giving their critics the finger. I even saw one guy marching back in forth with his hands in the air, one with the middle-finger raised, the other with a two-fingered peace sign.
In contrast, there were some protesters who did their best to take the high road. At one point, around ten or so women locked arms and began to sing a very sweet rendition of "We Shall Overcome". (Overcome what? The insurgents' car bombs?)
One thing I didn't do that I probably should have is cover the counterprotest from its side of the metal fencing, rather than the from the protesters' side, where I was. Had I done that, I might be able to provide some better examples of offensive things that conservatives said.
But even if some of the comments were drowned out by the noise, I could read the signs, which tended to be moderate and patriotic. Among scores of signs that showed pictures of Iraqis voting and whatnot, there were a few that said things like "Hippies smell" and one bizarre poster that read "Rad fems = Neo-Marxists". What were these guys criticizing? A graduate seminar in the Harvard English department?
But the worst thing I saw was the huge banner put up by counter-protesters, according to which ANSWER coordinator "Brian Becker is a Commie". The assertion may be true, since the ANSWER leadership is filled with members of the Workers World Party, and other fringe groups.
Nonetheless, both the language of the banner and its emphasis on discrediting a specific individual bring to mind the worst sort of red-baiting from a bygone era. I think conservatives would only do themselves a favor by emphasizing ANSWER's perverse support for left-wing dictaors.
Apart from all of these specifics, I think it's important to give a better sense of the atmosphere at the counteprotest, which occupied the long block on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave. NW between 9th St. and 10th St. By the time I got there, the central mass of the protest march had long since gone by and there was just a more relaxed flow of protesters down Penn Ave.
What happened, though, was that the protesters had begun to cluster together in knots just across from the counterprotesters. The center of each knot tended to consist of one particularly loud screaming match that had drawn the attention of those on both sides. In between the knots there were smaller, more personalized confrontations, along with occasional unoccupied spaces. (Imagine the scene in the photograph above multipied along the length of a football field.)
The composition of most of the shouting knots changed slowly, as both the participants and observers on the anti-war side of the fence continued to march along the official protest route. The police also did their part to encourage forward movement, in order to prevent any of the confrontations from getting to heated.
I don't think one can really say that there was much substantive debate going on along the counterprotest block. Rather, there was a mix of condescension and lost tempers on both sides of the fence. One thing that struck me about the chants that went back forth, was how quickly they all returned to the chickenhawk debate.
One of the most popular protester responses to just about everything coming from the other side was "How come you're not in Iraq?" or "Why don't you enlist?" The general response was for the counterprotesters to point out or pull over the soldiers on their side of the fence or, alternately, the families of soldiers.
On occasion, the protesters challenged some of the soldiers to go back to Iraq if they supported the war. Once, there was even a chant of "Re-enlist! Re-enlist! Re-enlist!" Equally nonsensical was the demand of one counterprotester to know why, if the protesters cared so much about peace, they weren't in the Peace Corps.
But leaving aside such strange arguments, I think the prevalence of the chickenhawk argument does say something important the anti-war movment, namely that the only story it can tell itself about those who support the war is that they are very selfish or very naive. If this war is about blood for oil and profits for Halliburton, how could anyone support it if they aren't selfish or naive?
In contrast, mainstream Democrats know that promoting democracy is a good objective and that pulling out of Iraq may be very dangerous, even if they are 100% sure that we have already lost the war thanks to Bush's incompetence. But that kind of intellectual opposition to the war doesn't get people out in the streets.
Cindy Sheehan overcame such reluctance to a certain degree by infusing liberal arguments against the war with emotional content. But with soldiers and their families still coming out for the mission much more often than against it, Democrats can't get as outraged as they were a generation ago, when our government was forcing young men to fight and die in Vietnam. That is the invisible strength of an army of volunteers. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The second staple of conservative protest coverage is mocking the protesters, a la Michelle Malkin. In a limited sense, this sort of coverage also serves as a form of a media criticism, since the MSM have become so proficient at pretending the "moonbats" don't exist. Nonetheless, a fair amount of this coverage just crosses the line into being tasteless and spiteful.
So what can bloggers do to overcome this kind of entrenched habit? I'm not exactly sure, but I do want to focus in this post on one point that seems to have eluded the both the big papers and the bloggers completely: The Democratic Party, both in terms of official organizations and major politicians, stayed away from yesterday's protests like the plague.
There were a number of fringe Democrats on the speakers list, such as Jesse Jackson and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). But the closest thing I saw to official Democratic represenation was a number of protesters wearing t-shirts advertising the College Democrats. (Their timeless slogan: "Have you ever heard of a good piece of elephant?")
The closest thing I saw to a Dem-affiliated organization I saw was a delegation from SEIU, a service workers union. The SEIU brigade stood out both because of their purple t-shirts and because of their being almost exclusively black at a very, very white protest.
But perhaps one of the most important indications of the Democratic Party being MIA was what the protesters' signs were saying and what clothes they were wearing. I'd expected to see at least some leftover Kerry/Edwards paraphrenalia. Maybe I saw one or two items during my five hours at the protest.
In contrast, it was very easy to find folks wearing items such as the popular "International Terrorist" t-shirt, featuring a black-and-white portrait of President Bush. Naturally, I'm sure that almost everyone wearing those kind of t-shirts voted for Kerry last fall because they felt they had no choice. But their fashion preferences provide a good indication of just how far outside the Democratic mainstream most protesters are.
It is simple: If any Democratic senator or presidential candidate described Bush as a terrorist, they would destroy their own reputations. Imagine if Kerry had called Bush a terrorist. It would have made the reaction to Dick Durbin's "gulag" remarks seem tame.
If you read the WaPo or NYT, you get no sense of how far outside the Democratic mainstream the protesters are. And if you read conservative blogs, very few authors acknowledge that there are dramatic differences between the protesters and other liberals. (Although Glenn did point out that even some of Kos' bloggers found the protests distasteful.)
At the extreme of the protester spectrum are those who rare few who hold up posters of Bush and Hitler or superimpose a swastika on the American flag. But the description of Bush as a terrorist was common place. According to one chant I heard, "Who is a terrorist? Bush is a terrorist!" (Wash, rinse, repeat.)
The other major thread of protester sentiment that is totally anathema to the Democratic mainstream is the pervasive blood-for-oil slogan. Sample chant: "George Bush, corporate whore -- we don't want your oil war!"
On the rare occasions when protesters did refer explicitly Democrats, their comments were critical. One sign I saw compared today's Dems to LBJ. And there were at least as many of those sorts of signs as there were pro-Democratic ones.
Perhaps the closest thing I saw to real, active passionate support of the Democratic party was when Ralph Nader took the stage at the Ellipse and someone behind me screamed "F*** you, Ralph!" Al Gore would be proud. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The protests [in Washington DC] and elsewhere were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus."Progressive" is a hard word to define, but I'm pretty damn sure that it has nothing to do with serving as an apologist for Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and other left-wing dictators. In fact, that is the exact opposite of progressive -- it is reactionary.
As for UPJ, it is somewhat misleading to define it as having a "narrow, anti-war focus". Tactically speaking, that is not inaccurate, although UPJ itself advertises its interest in the Palestinian issue, "corporate globalization", and nuclear disarmament. (Amusingly, the latter emphasizes that "It is time to disarm America!", rather than, say, North Korea or Iran.)
But getting back to my point, UPJ's ideology in no way has a narrow, anti-war focus. It's purpose is to stop the "relentless drive for U.S. empire". Here's the key graf from UPJ's Unity Statement, its organizational manifesto:
It is now clear the war on Iraq was the leading edge of a relentless drive for U.S. empire. Exploiting the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has sought to use aggressive military action to pursue a long-term agenda: to forcibly dominate the world and impose right-wing policies at home under the cover of fighting terrorism.You know, you'd think that UPJ would give Bush more credit for being good at imperialism. I mean, look at what happened to the Russians and the British when they tried to take Afghanistan. And if Bush can pull our chestnuts out of the fire, then he really deserves an Oscar for imperialism. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, September 24, 2005
# Posted 4:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
So good for UFPJ, even if it is still well to the left of the Nation and can't stop itself from talking about the struggle against America's "global empire". More importantly, UFPJ seems to believe in transparency, a concept that ANSWER doesn't even begin to understand. For example, the UFPJ website lists all of the members of its administrative and steering committees, as well as providing financial reports for the past two years.
Sure, it's amusing that a member of the Communist Party -- USA is on both committees. But what matters more is that UFPJ operates (it seems) like a democratic organization and not like a communist party. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:00 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Why give out free chocolate? Because no one likes taking pop quizzes. And because then I can eat the leftovers myself. Buwahahahaha!
Anyhow, I want the quiz to be easy enough that anyone who reads a newspaper on a regular basis should get most or all of the questions right. If there are just a few space cadets who don't know the answers, that's what I'll report. But thanks to Evan Coyne Maloney, I think the results may be a little more interesting than that.
At the moment, here are the five questions I intend to use:
1. George Bush's middle initial is W. What does it stand for?The question about ANSWER is the only one that's a little obscure, but I think that if you're at a protest organized by ANSWER it's a reasonable question to ask. Results forthcoming... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:48 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:22 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
I think the decision to do this demonstrates the Post's understanding that the blogosphere and the MSM have far more to gain by working with each other rather than pretending that they are competitors. Moreover, it takes a lot of guts for the Post to provide links to numerous blogs that will almost certainly be critical of it. But I think the Post understands that giving its critics a chance to voice their opinions can only make the Post stronger.
If any other newspapers have done the same sort of thing, please let me know about it and I will put up a list here on OxBlog.
UPDATE: I just checked out the "Who's Blogging" links for the article about the protests I quoted below. It seems that this lovely feature has already exposed some of the MSM's ridiculous naivete about the anti-war protesters. Stop the Bleating has the scoop. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:15 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The seasoned protesters who organized tomorrow's antiwar demonstration are well-versed in many other causes. They have marched and rallied against police brutality, racism, colonialism and the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.Translation: Sure, the far left may have organized this protest, but most people there will be plain, old mainstream Americans.
As far as media coverage of anti-war protests go, this article is relatively good. At least it acknowledges that the people in charge are on the far left, even if it doesn't let you know that some of their main concerns include apologizing for dictators such as Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il.
What I'm curious about is whether most people at the protest are actually middle-of-the-road Democrats, or whether what we're basically looking at are the Kucinich voters and the left-wing of the Howard Dean express. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now, I mentioned earlier this week that pointing out the dumbest arguments made by extremists on the other side of the political divide is neither an enriching nor an intellectually substantive activity. However, since ANSWER is one of the main organizers of the protest tomorrow, I figure I should provide all y'all with some information about what the group believes.
One of the first things I learned from ANSWER (courtesy of Ten Reasons Why We Oppose the War) was that "Iraq had no nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction -- and Bush knew it."
But the real treasure trove of strange delusions and apologias for the worlds' dictatorships is this eight page brochure that you can download as a PDF from the ANSWER website. Here are some highlights:
The global anti-war movement must be a movement of international solidarity against the U.S. empire. (Page 2)Well there you have it folks. ANSWER in a nutshell. And don't forget to free Mumia! (2) opinions -- Add your opinion