Tuesday, April 06, 2004
# Posted 7:47 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:49 PM by Patrick Belton
This year we are slaves; next year, free. May slavery give way to freedom, ignorance to wisdom, despair to hope: next year in Jerusalem. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:44 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:17 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:00 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:00 AM by Patrick Belton
A man walks into Central Park from the West 85th street entrance, sits down by the Lake, and takes out his lunch - which, being passover, included a fair bit of matzoh.Chag sameach! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:39 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:10 AM by Patrick Belton
For more, see Brookings on Beijing's attempts to subordinate Hong Kong's wonderfully clean and efficient civil service to its lackeys, Economist on Beijing's anti-subversion law and character assasination labelling democratic legislators as unpatriotic, and Senate Foreign Relations taking the testimony last month of Hong Kong legislators and democracy activists. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, April 05, 2004
# Posted 5:49 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:25 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:46 PM by Patrick Belton
Rubins goes on to argue that the CPA's well-intentioned evenhandedness is being interpreted as support for Islamists, in a society weaned on conspiracy theories:
While Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and Carl Levin of Michigan demand yet another government audit of the Iraqi National Congress (previous audits have found no wrongdoing), radical clerics find their pockets full, their Iranian sponsors more interested in mission than political cannibalism. Last month, I visited a gathering of urban professionals in Najaf. They repeatedly asked why the CPA stood by while followers of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtader Sadr invaded homes, smashed satellite dishes and meted out punishment in ad hoc Islamic courts. We may dismiss Sadr as a grass-roots populist, but his rise was not arbitrary. Rather, his network is based upon ample funding he receives through Iran-based cleric Ayatollah Kazem al Haeri, a close associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.More here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:00 PM by Patrick Belton
Anonymous OxBlogger, to be called "PB": Wait, Ali G is Jewish? (from your wikipedia piece....)(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:47 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:42 AM by Patrick Belton
The government of Sudan is currently engaging in genocide against three of its country's black western tribes, the Reziegat, Salamat, and Ta'aisha. Women of those tribes are being systematically raped; roughly one thousand people are being killed each week; and with seven hundred thousand driven from their homes, Sudan's army is bombing the survivors.
The Pentagon is monitoring the situation closely, but with American might deployed already in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti, America's military cannot be asked to be the only one to respond. The UN's response has been significant, but not enough - the Security Council has not addressed the issue by invoking Chapter VII, although UNHCR in cooperation with the government of Chad has done a great deal to alleviate the immediate human plight of refugees by establishing refugee camps far from the Sudanese border, where refugees in Chad were still being attacked by the Sudanese military. Still, the response by the undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, was talmudic, and ridiculous: "I would say it is ethnic cleansing, but not genocide." Still worse, the human rights industry has kept its head equally in the sand: Amnesty International doesn't even mention the genocide in the Sudan on its front page, preferring as usual to pander to its donors with pieces criticizing the United States for the clearly equal crime of executing a dual murderer.
Our friend Zach Kaufman, and director of our think tank's Africa program, wrote in the New York Times recently that "One lesson that should be drawn is that if it is true that the current Sudan resembles 1994 Rwanda, then the United States government should join with others to initiate a humanitarian intervention, assist victims and hold perpetrators accountable. If not, our demands for and promises of 'never again!' will have failed yet again." While the United States cannot bear the sole principal role in counteracting this atrocity at a time when its divisions are already deployed to combating the inhumanity of Fallujah and the Taliban, the responsibility of the international community to make good on its promises of "never again" is clear. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:59 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: We get results. They fixed it. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
CLARIFICATION: Glenn has declared that OxBlog is "officially bored" with Kos-gate. Well, sort of. This whole affair is something of a tempest in a tea cup. However, my "Yeah, whatever" comment above was directed primarily at Kos' paranoid response to his critics. Glenn, Kevin et al. were right to criticize Kos, although the whole thing did get somewhat out of hand. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, April 04, 2004
# Posted 11:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If you read the WaPo, you will conclude that there is no clear answer to the questions posed above. Coalition forces' discomfort in a foreign environment is just as likely to have been the cause of the violence as are radical Shi'ite provocations. If you read the NYT, there is no doubt that today's events were planned. The first sentence of John Burns' article on the subject reads:
A coordinated Shiite militia uprising against the American-led occupation rippled across Iraq on Sunday, reaching into the heart of Baghdad and the sprawling Shiite slum of Sadr City on the capital's outskirts and racking the holy city of Najaf and at least two other cities in southern Iraq.Burns' use of the words 'coordinated' and 'uprising' were no accident. Lower down in the same article he writes that
On Sunday, [Moqtada] Sadr's veiled threats to stir public disorder erupted into carefully orchestrated violence, with potentially dire implications over the long term for the Americans, and for Iraq.Furthermore, Burns lets us know exactly what we should think of Mr. Sadr's efforts. He reports that
Mr. Sadr, the son of a powerful Shiite ayatollah who was assassinated by agents of Mr. Hussein in Najaf in 1999, has been a menacing presence in the shadows of the American occupation. He has refused to involve his organization with the American attempt to construct democratic institutions, calling them a ruse intended to place the country under permanent American control. He has threatened to establish an alternative government, and to send his militia, known as the Mahdi Army, into battle with American troops...In contrast to Burns' conviction, the WaPo correspondents responsible for this story have used all of the standard conventions of the journalistic trade to convey their unsurety about the cause of the violence. For example, explanations for the violence offered by Sadr's disciples are juxtaposed with explanations from American officials, implying that the credibility of both explanations is roughly equivalent and that the truth lies somewhere in between:
Sadr, 30, delivered a sermon in Kufa on Friday calling on supporters to challenge the occupation.Toward the end of the WaPo article, however, there are some more tangible hints that today's violence was not intentional but rather a product of unfortunate coincidences:
Sunday's protests were sparked by reports that Mustapha Yacoubi, an aide to Sadr, had been arrested...Protests and violence involving Sadr's supporters have been increasing since the closing of the cleric's newspaper a week ago.These same events are explained very differently by the NYT, however:
The scene for the uprising was set a week ago, when American troops raided the Baghdad offices of a popular newspaper, Al Hawza, that was the mouthpiece for Mr. Sadr, and chained its doors under an order by Mr. Bremer closing the paper for 60 days. American officials said Mr. Bremer had acted because of inaccurate reporting in the paper that incited hatred for the Americans, including a February dispatch that an explosion that killed more than 50 Iraqi police recruits was not a car bomb, as occupation officials had said, but an American missile.The differences between the NYT and WaPo could not be more stark. The former describes an intentional assault on Coalition forces organized by a radical Shi'ite cleric who associates with murderers and may be one himself. The WaPo describes confusing events for which no one in particular was responsible.
Why are these accounts so different? Politics don't seem to be the issue, since the NYT tends to be far more critical of the occupation than the WaPo. My hunch is that John Burns is simply far superior to his counterparts at the WaPo. He sees what they do not. Moreover, I suspect that the WaPo will soon revise its account in order to reflect what was written by Mr. Burns.
The broader lesson to be taken away from this episode is one that this third of OxBlog never tires of repeating: That correspondents routinely employ the conventions of journalistic objectivity in order to convey subjective interpretations of the events that they witness. While subjectivity is an integral part of the human condition, the American media have the potential to dramatically improve their coverage by admitting to both themselves and their audience that they are not nearly as objective as they like to pretend.
To critics of the 'liberal media', such accusations are nothing new. Yet moderate liberals, including OxBlog favorites such as Drum and Yglesias, still tend to dismiss charges of media bias as little more than the carping of conservatives unwilling to face the truth. However, the example described above has nothing to do with politics. My criticism has nothing to do with the fact that I like one newspaper's political preferences more than I like the other. That is why this episode is such a powerful demonstration of how journalistic conventions create the illusion of objectivity.
CLARIFICATION: Seven American soldiers were killed in Baghdad. An eighth American soldier died elsehwere, as did a Salvadoran.
UPDATE: The AP report on today's violence resembles that of the WaPo. USA Today splits the difference while Reuters and CNN come across as relatively agnostic about the cause of the violence. The Guardian subtly implies that the heavy-handedness of the occupation was to blame. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:08 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
To Christians, Judaism and Christianity are and must be entirely consistent. If the two faiths were not consistent, then, because the Jewish Scripture is contained in the Christian, God's revelation (as Christians understand it) would be internally contradictory. Such an inconsistent revelation would prove that Christianity was false.While I greatly appreciate the spirit in which PJ's comments were written, I'm afriad that I must disagree vigorously with their substance. Regardless of what Christians believe about the compatibility of Christianity and Judaism, it is extremely hard for even the most moderate and progressive Jews to believe that the two religions are "entirely consistent" or even mostly consistent. The idea that "Jews would benefit by acceping [the] fuller truth" of Christianity is simply anathema regardless of the generous spirit in which Christian teachings are offered.
This fact reinforces my argument that there are inherent tensions between Christianity and Judaism. If, as PJ asserts, it is theologically necessary for Christians to believe that Christianity and Judaism are consistent, then the overwhelming majority of Jews' refusal to acknowledge such consistency amounts to a profound attack on the validity of Christian doctrine.
Of course, it is not our intention to assault the Christian faith any more than it is the intention of PJ or other Christians to assault ours. Yet the substance of our respective faiths mandates such a conflict. I wish it weren't so. I think that the vast majority of Americans wish it weren't so. Yet it is.
This returns us to the paradox I pointed out in my previous post: that the coexistence of the Christian and Jewish faiths depends on the ability of religious leaders' to revise the substance of our respective faiths without acknowledging that they are doing so. Yet I doubt that such revisions could ever overcome the tension created by the fact that Jews will never accept Christ as their Messiah. Thus, as I argued in my original post on this subject,
The task before us is to acknowledge the depth of such tensions while addressing them in a manner that promotes dialogue rather than conflict.Thankfully, we in the United States have proven remarkably adept at doing just that. I believe that it is precisely because of our common heritage as Americans that we are able to deal so constructively with the tensions that separate our faiths. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I am an agnostic, but I was raised a Catholic and have two brothers who are priests, and your interpretation of the Gospels squarely contradicts that of the Catholic Church.Multiple readers have observed that according to Catholic and other Christian theologies, the covenant of Abraham is still in effect. Thus, I made a factual error by asserting that it wasn't. Nonetheless, I think it is important to ask how the Christian and Jewish definitions of "chosenness" compare and contrast. The traditional Jewish concept of chosenness (which I fully reject) entails the belief that Judaism is the only true faith and that God has a special and privileged relaitonship with the Jewish people that no other people can enjoy. Thus, if Christians assert that the covenant of Abraham is still in effect, they will find it necessary to redefine certain aspects of the covenant. On a related note, JT writes that
Yes, of course Christianity does claim (to various degrees, depending on denomination) that Judiasm is no longer relevant -- exactly as it claims of all other religions. (Unlike the others, however, it affirms Judaism as true.) Yes, Christianity claims that the only way that Jews can overcome the burden of their own sins is to become a follower of Christ-- exactly as it claim for all others, Jewish or not.Although it is not my intention to offend JT, I must suggest that by my reading, the dehumanization of non-Jewish people is an integral part of the theological agenda of the Jewish claim to being a 'Chosen People'. Consider the genocide of the Amalekites, described in the Book of Samuel. If memory serves, God condemns Saul for slaughtering the Amalekites -- women and children included -- but taking their animals for his own, rather than slaughtering them as well. Even in my relatively progressive school, our teachers endorsed God's condemnation of Saul and observed that if God had asked him to kill the animals as well, that is what he should have done. Not once did our teachers suggest that God's will was fundamentally perverse because it demanded of Saul the genocide of a people whose only sin was that hundreds of years earlier, their ancestors had launched a surprise attack on the Jews.
The irony of this moral logic is disturbing and painful. If one endorses the Jewish slaughter of the Amalekites for a centuries old greivance, how can the Jews of today insist that they bear no responsibility for the death of Christ simply because it happened so long ago? Moreover, what is our response to Hitler and Goebbels if we endorse those genocides that our ancestors supposedly committed?
As such, I am glad that progressive rabbis have chosen to subvert the meaning of the original text and redefine Chosenness in a less bloody-minded manner. Given that the rabbis have spent the last two thousand years subverting the original text in order to advance various agendas, I am glad that at least one of those agendas is the enlightened embrace of human rights. By the same token, I am quite glad that the Catholic Church has begun to insist very publicly that the Jews are not collectively responsible for the death of Christ.
It is important to remember, of course, that those of us who accuse the rabbis and the Church of dramatically reinterpreting sacred texts insult the faith of countless Jews and Catholics. The foundation of Orthodox Judaism is the belief that there is an unbroken chain of interpretation that began with Moses' own interpretation of the Torah and that has continued ever since. My primitive understanding of Catholicism (an attribute I share with Mel Gibson) is that the Church has preserved the true and original spirit of the Gospels.
As such, those of us who advocate greater religious tolerance must accept the paradoxical fact that such tolerance tends to emerge only when the guardians of the faith are able to persuade themselves that their innovations are in fact restorations of a tarnished original meaning. Surely this is what Plato might have referred to as a noble lie.
To be continued... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:00 AM by Patrick Belton
Today, the Arts section leads with a multipage story about whether Conan O'Brian is moving to 11:30. We're glad that the arts in New York are in such sterling condition that the Times can, well, ignore them. And then, Theatre has a promising piece on Middle Eastern playwrights, which they then proceed to entirely botch:
Some of the women are ethnically Iranian, which means (essentially) that they are Indo-European, and speak Persian. Some are ethnically Arab, which means (essentially) that they are Semitic, and speak Arabic. Their religious roots vary: they are Christian, Muslim or Zoroastrian (a faith that advocates good thoughts and deeds)And here we were (essentially) getting excited that some other website would start to take up some of the traffic for "Iranian sex change pics." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:18 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
While I am no expert on the Gospels, my reading of the text suggests that placing collective blame on the Jewish people for the death of Christ is an integral aspect of the Gospels' theological agenda. The Jews' responsibility for the death of Christ is one demonstration among several that they are no longer the Chosen People and that their religion is no longer relevant.
In recent decades, progressive Christians have reinterpreted the Gospels in order to mitigate the violent anti-Semitism that they have provoked. After all, even according to the Gospels, not all Jews were complicit in the death of Christ. Yet the message of the text seems clear: that only those Jews who abandon their own religion and become followers of Christ can overcome the burden of guilt that the Jewish people took upon itself by sentencing Him to death.
In this sense, the Gospels are fundamentally anti-Semitic. This does not mean that they are responsible for the violence and hatred associated with the phrase 'anti-Semitism'. After all, the Gospels were written at a time when Judaism was an established and influential religion whereas Christianity was a tentative and persecuted faith. Nonetheless, the fundamental purpose of the Gospels is to delegitimize the Jewish faith.
I say this not to defend Mel Gibson or The Passion. Yet I believe that it is necessary to recognize that there are profound and inherent tensions between Christianity and Judaism. While one can condemn specific individuals for transforming these tensions into a pretext for hatred, one must recognize that one can never resolve such tensions once and for all. Thus, the task before us is to acknowledge the depth of such tensions while addressing them in a manner that promotes dialogue rather than conflict.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:05 AM by Patrick Belton
Saturday, April 03, 2004
# Posted 6:26 PM by Patrick Belton
That these views are correlated with having seen Mel Gibson's "Passion" movie is borne out by the survey - particularly, again, among the troubling "young anti-semite" demographic: of those 18-34 year olds who have seen the film, 42 percent believe Jews were responsible for Christ's death, compared with 36 percent of 35-59 year olds who watched the movie. And for respondents 60 years and up, there was hardly any difference between the responses of people who had seen the film and those who hadn't.
We should be careful what kind of views we impart to the youngest generation - they'll be with us for quite some time. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:13 AM by Patrick Belton
Fortunately, the point is taken up at greater length by Levinas, Kierkegaard, and the Midrash. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:10 AM by Patrick Belton
Additionally, any of you feeling inclined this morning to enter the great controversy between the ancients and moderns can see how pitiably the Bayeux Tapestry comes up compared with, say, the salle des antiquités grecques et romaines - both now conveniently accessible online. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:35 AM by Patrick Belton
When he's not out memorialising the lesser English aristocracy, our friend Josh ably directs our think tank's ethics and foreign policy program, and writes the other politics blog left on blogspot. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Yesterday's good economic news — and the generally good news we've seen over the past 20 years — owes more to innovators like FedEx's Fred Smith than to any of the many fellow Yalies who have sat or will sit in the Oval Office.Generally speaking, I agree with Brooks. The White House can't have all that much impact on the economy. But this is quite an interesting time for Brooks to make that point. It seems like Brooks is going against the party line by denying his party's president credit for the good news. But what's he really saying is that Democrats shouldn't blame Bush for all the bad economic news that came before yesterday or may come after tomorrow. I can accept that -- as long as Brooks doesn't start defending the deficit. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:37 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Friday, April 02, 2004
# Posted 12:22 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:31 AM by Patrick Belton
The short result: (in the words of PS from Springfield). Yes. I’ll send the legal bill. (Thanks! You win Tiffany.)
More interesting result: most of our readers, or at least a good part of you, seem to be lawyers. This includes a Harvardienne practicing at a Bay area firm who writes "I assume the trial has been bifurcated into liability and damages/sentencing, as sometimes happens. The idea is that the jury shouldn't be swayed by the extent of the penalty; the woman's guilt or innocence should hang on the evidence of her (alleged) crimes alone. Happy to discuss this more if you like, but I'm really more interested in why your ex girlfriends are all insane. Did dating you drive them crazy?"
Wow - while I recoil and ponder going off to become a Jesuit, let me note that Robert from An Inclination to Criticize offers the same analysis, then says "There is no need to reward me, as I've no desire to add to my coterie of insane ex-girlfriends, though I'm sure yours are quite nice." Awww.
The most detailed analysis comes from the author of CrosBlog, who's a state court prosecutor:
I'm sure you've received several answers to your question, but here's my take on it, (FWIW, I'm a state court prosecutor in Georgia.)Done! And thanks very much to everyone who wrote in! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:28 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:56 AM by Patrick Belton
(Ed: You call that cheerful? Sure, her journal and wit, not Chernobyl itself. Oh, I see now) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:32 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:59 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: After I posted this, CNN quickly revised their headline from "NATO ceremony ends Cold War" to "Larger NATO facing 'new threats'". They also struck the line "in a ceremony being billed as the official end of the Cold War." The original is here. I'm glad we get such fast results! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:35 AM by Patrick Belton
I would like to note, though, as a follow-up to David's and Moderate Voice's list of historic April Fools pranks, my personal all-time favorite - the BBC's 1957 Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, which the news show Panorama broadcast drolly in a segment which showed rustic Swiss peasants harvesting that year's bumper spaghetti crop, brought on by a mild winter. (You can watch the original broadcast on the BBC's website.) Of course, the entire broadcast was just a joke. But soon after the broadcast ended, the BBC's offices began to receive hundreds of telephone calls from their puzzled viewers, who either wanted to ask whether spaghetti actually did grow on trees, or who were eager to learn how they might grow their own spaghetti tree. To this, the BBC is reported to have replied they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, April 01, 2004
# Posted 11:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."(Link via The Moderate Voice) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:08 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The Arab world's need to defy Washington and revile Israel is not a valid excuse to perpetuate medieval autocracies and repressive dictatorships. The claim that the Middle East is somehow immune to democracy, whether through tradition, history or religion, is equally spurious. Striking evidence of this was provided by a gathering of Arab intellectuals and nongovernmental organizations at the Alexandria Library in Egypt in mid-March. The statement they issued is a ringing proclamation of universal democratic values and the urgent need to spread them through the Arab world. The statement rejects talk of special conditions or needs and does not mention the occupation of Iraq or Palestine. It is a call on the Arabs to adopt democracy — not because the West wants them to, but because it's best for them.Statements such as this restore my faith in the New York Times. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Perhaps it will become possible to think about yesterday's slaughter once the numb and shock begin to wear off. Already, Phil Carter has begun to reflect and the murders. He writes that
News of this attack, and the Iraqi mob's behavior, has likely reached every American and coalition soldier now serving in Iraq. Just as the news of the Malmedy massacre during WWII enraged U.S. troops and gave them a reason to fight harder, so too will this event.But what about the effect of this brutality on the homefront audience at which it was directed? As one might expect, the public mutilation of American bodies has begun to evoke remembrances of Mogadishu. This time, however, there is no thought of surrending to brutality and abandoning our mission.
But what is it that we must do to overcome the bestial rage now on display? Should the United States, as Glenn Reynolds suggests, withhold from Fallujah the benefits of reconstruction? Or is it now more important than ever to demonstrate our goodwill and, as the Marines' motto says, "Do No Harm"?
Before answering those questions, I think we must first ask who committed yesterday's atrocities in Iraq? The banner headline of today's Boston Globe read "Brutality, Cheers In Iraq". The lead story in USA Today was entitled "Iraqis revel in US deaths".
Both headlines have the unfortunate effect of implying that the entire nation of Iraq was celebrating the brutal slaughter of American civilians. While those who follow the news will recognize that the people of Fallujah are hardly representative of the people of Iraq, I am concerned that the overwhelming majority of Americans will believe that Iraqi sentiment toward the United States approximates Palestinian sentiment toward Israel.
Yet even in Fallujah, that is not the case. According to one resident quoted in the NYT,
"This is a bad advertisement for everything we stand for," said Muhammad Khalifa, a spare parts trader who closed his shop during the disturbance in a sign of disgust. "We may hate Americans. We may hate them with all our hearts. But all men are creatures of God."If that is the reaction of those who support the insurgents, I suspect that those who oppose their struggle will feel even more strongly that the desecration of American corpses was an outrage. For the moment, the Iraqi media isn't preoccupied with what happened in Fallujah. Perhaps the people of Iraq have more pressing concerns. Or perhaps they are not in the least surprised that those who once supported Saddam have no qualms about emulating his brutality.
To the New York Times' credit, it carefully phrased today's headline to avoid any implication that the people of Iraq as a whole were responsible for yesterday's atrocities. Its headline read "4 From US Killed In Ambush in Iraq; Mob Drags Bodies." Perhaps if all of us exercise such care in describing the atrocities, the broader public will begin to recognize that they were the work of a small number of degenerate fascists who represent Iraq's past, but not its future. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:05 PM by Patrick Belton
Dear Patrick,Close runner-up, from a good friend from the Journal of Democracy:
Oddly, I now live here:(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:30 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:23 AM by Patrick Belton
In other news, UAVs are in in the new defense budget, while Comanches are out. They're, like, so Cold War.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:08 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:44 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:15 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
# Posted 7:31 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:33 AM by Patrick Belton
For additional insightful coverage elsewhere, see The Argus, Economist, and Agonist. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:25 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:25 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Attacks on John F. Kerry by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, backed by millions of dollars in negative ads, have wiped out the narrow lead Kerry enjoyed at the beginning of the month and damaged his public image.Unsurprisingly, correspondent Dan Balz fails to explore the possibility that there may actualy be substantive reasons for this change in public opinion. Now, the article does point out that most Americans don't know all that much about Kerry. Perhaps those who have begun to learn more don't like what they've found.
But how about the even more plausible hypothesis that the cause of Kerry's deceleration in the polls is not the Bush campaign but the nation media. The only one in Balz's article who comes close to suggesting that the media might have something to do with it is an administration spokesman:
"For six months, it was a one-way conversation, and then you had the final five or six weeks when Kerry was winning primaries that improved his image," said Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd. "Right after March 3, a dialogue started about who is or who isn't John Kerry, and the president started advocating for himself. I think we're better positioned from that and Senator Kerry is worse positioned."Leaving aside Dowd's partisan phrasing, it's hard to ignore the fact that the end of the primary season brought an end to daily coverage in which news stories recounted all of the Democratic candidates' attacks on President Bush. Then, once tapped for the nomination, Kerry became the subject of the sort of intense scrutiny that the media had only directed toward Howard Dean while the campaign was on.
Unsurprisinlgy, there emerged a raft of articles that examined with great seriousness whether or not John Kerry was an inveterate flip-flopper. While such articles didn't make Kerry look all that bad, they made his flaws into credible subjects of public debate. Thus, Dan Balz may want to consider that that it is the idiosyncrasies of his own profession and not the Bush war chest that are responsible for John Kerry's reversal in the polls. (And just imagine how bad things might have gotten for Kerry if the media hadn't done so much to build up Richard Clarke.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:54 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
In addition to being forced to testify, Rice is getting raked over the coals by the media. The NYT article on Rice's forthcoming testimony (as well as a companion news analysis essay) suggests none too gently that Condi has told so many lies that she will have no choice to fess up when under oath. Interestingly, neither of the NYT articles has anything positive to say about Richard Clarke. The same goes for the WaPo's articles on Rice's testimony and the White House's selective declassification of sensitive documents. This suggests that the WaPo's Friday climb down from its effusive praise of Clarke was not an accident.
The lesson to be taken away from all this is that the Bush administration is now suffering more for its incompetent and dishonest effort to attack Richard Clarke than from the substance of Clarke's allegations. The failure of the administration to recognize that it had a strong case on the merits and its reliance instead on character assassination only adds to its reputation as an organization that won't the facts get in the way of its politics. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:37 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The attacks [on Muslim clerics], numbering more than a dozen over a two-week period this month, have been answered with resolute declarations of unity from leading Shiite and Sunni clerics, who meet regularly to devise a joint strategy for maintaining calm. Adamant in refusing to blame the rival branch of Islam, the religious leaders are instructing preachers of Friday sermons to assure worshipers that the attacks are being carried out by terrorists and shadowy foreign elements intent on provoking a civil war...Now, there still are a lot of very serious problems in Iraq. For a summary thereof, take a look at this scathing WaPo editorial. However, Sunni-Shi'ite cooperation may aid the work of UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, whom Kofi Annan has dispatched to help organize a transitional government. Of course, the political reconstruction of Iraq won't end on June 30, which is why the Bush administration ought to be very careful about deciding on a replacement for Paul Bremer. Personally, I think Bill Clinton might be the one for the job. He could feel the Iraqis' pain but wouldn't have much of a chance to feel the Iraqis' women... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
# Posted 4:43 PM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: Beautiful Horizons has more. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:39 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:46 PM by Patrick Belton
Uzbekistan says 20 suspected militants have blown themselves up during a fierce gun battle with special forces in the capital, Tashkent.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:17 PM by Patrick Belton
Eight British men suspected of being involved in terrorist activity have been arrested in a series of raids across the south of England. More than half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertiliser was also seized (BBC)(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:26 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:35 AM by Patrick Belton
Also in TNR, Massoud Ansari examines how Al-Zawahiri got away. Slate looks at the cancellation of the Arab League summit. (UPDATE: So does Robert Tagorda.) And via A&L Daily, an interview with Martin Seligman - a psychologist of whom I'm awfully fond - about the nature of happiness. (It's in three parts, and they're in backwards order.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:17 AM by Patrick Belton
I think the key issue is not that I personally refuse to accept the "one China" principle. It's the 23 million people of Taiwan who cannot accept the so-called "one China" principle.It is difficult not to feel sympathy for Taiwan, as an island of democracy and liberalism which has come far in the past decade toward modernity. Still, the current course which President Chen has set toward steers quite close to a military conflict in the Straits, in which the legal and moral duty of our nation would and ought to be on the side of a free allied republic against nuclear-armed China - a possibility no one can contemplate without trouble. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:14 AM by Patrick Belton
Arriving in the United States in 1932 on a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to study drama at Yale after coming down from Jesus College, Cambridge, Cooke hurried from his boat not to New Haven but to New Orleans, Basin Street, to sample the jazz age himself at first remove, and that by way of a call on the premier exemplar of the craft he would later make his own, essayist H.L. Mencken in Baltimore.
In 1974 he was invited to address the US Congress on the occasion of the celebrations marking the American bicentennial. He was only the third foreign born person so invited; his predecessors were Lafayette and Sir Winston Churchill. British diplomatist Sir Harold Nicolson (like him, an eighteenth century man living a seventeenth century life in the midst of the twentieth century) sought him out on his valedictory trip to the United States in 1963. Like Samuel Pepys or Isaiah Berlin, he knew nearly everyone in his age; and like them, he recorded his incisive impressions. Of Greta Garbo, he wrote "She gave you the impression that, if your imagination had to sin, it could at least congratulate itself on its impeccable taste." Of Presidents, he said "All Presidents start out to run a crusade but after a couple of years they find they are running something less heroic and much more intractable: namely the presidency. The people are well cured by then of election fever, during which they think they are choosing Moses. In the third year, they look on the man as a sinner and a bumbler and begin to poke around for rumours of another Messiah." Las Vegas he called "Everyman’s cut-rate Babylon. Not far away there is, or was, a roadside lunch counter and over it a sign proclaiming in three words that a Roman emperor’s orgy is now a democratic institution….'Topless Pizza Lunch.'" Of prognostication, he wrote "Man has an incurable habit of not fulfilling the prophecies of his fellow men."
Becoming an American citizen in 1941 to marry his wife, he maintained a substantial enough love for the country of his birth to engage with it in a lifetime of correspondence, his Letters from America which the BBC would broadcast without fail each week for 58 years. The BBC collects a sampling of his letters to it, including his eulogy for Senator Robert Kennedy, his reflections on the American fashion of slimming, Thanksgiving, Groucho Marx and Bing Crosby, and his last letter, on the late war in Iraq.
It is to the BBC's, and our, detriment that Cooke will not be able to continue his correspondence with us from whatever such place as he might be now. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:52 AM by Patrick Belton
Due to Uzbekistan's tight control over the media, it is difficult to get hold of information about the current situation, but the choice of targets (such as yesterday's at the Chorsu bazaar, at a time of overlap between two police shifts) seems to reflect a desire to target police and security services. The degree to which news reports are being suppressed by Tashkent is astonishing - yesterday, out of 15 policemen one reporter approached at the bazaar, only one admitted that there had been a bombing, with the remainder explaining that the market was closed for a "sanitary inspection." Reuters is reporting that there were several separate bombing incidents yesterday, with two caused by female suicide bombers, and that four to five separate explosions took place this morning at roughly 8:15 local time. This morning, Tashkent's principal thoroughfares are closed by checkpoints and manned by servicemen with bulletproof vests carrying Kalashikov rifles.
If there was involvement by Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the current round of attacks, it would represent a marked tactical change for the Islamist organization, which to the moment has been peaceful, though it has generated concern for violent potentialities from terrorism and oil industry analysts. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, March 29, 2004
# Posted 6:04 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:42 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:08 PM by Patrick Belton
Now here's the interesting part, which I'm quite curious about: as the reporter notes, "the jury will not be permitted to hear and consider that information."
Do any of our legally inclined readers happen to know why this is the case? Is the idea that the jury in this case should be ruling solely on the factual question of whether the defendant met the legal criteria for insanity, and that knowledge of the practical consequences of that determination could have the effect of altering the jury's decision on the question of fact? (As an incentive, the author of the winning legal analysis can receive an insane woman of their choice, drawn from the ranks of my ex-girlfriends....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:03 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:47 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:30 AM by Patrick Belton
Albania and Macedonia had participated in the Membership Action Plan but were not extended invitations at the Prague Summit in November 2002, because of concern their militaries could not contribute to peacekeeping and collective defence missions (though they are potentially capable of such specialised functions as transport and medical care).
Each of the successful candidates had quite strong sponsors among the allies. Hungary has urged Slovenia's accession since it would allow Hungary to be contiguous with the Nato nations. Slovakia's candidacy was helped by the victory of reformists in September 2002 elections. Poland was a strong supporter of membership for the Baltic states; their governments also excelled particularly in meeting the MAP requirements. Italy, Greece, and Turkey supported Bulgarian and Romanian entry as assisting in Nato's stability missions in the Balkans; critics have argued that both nations continue to have corrupt civilian government and outdated militaries.
Within Russia, the Duma and the military and intelligence services are strongly opposed to enlargement, but Putin seems to view it as part of a trade-off for acquiescence in Russia's operations in Chechnya, as well as a means toward protecting Russian ethnic minorities in Estonia and Latvia. (Nato and EU regulations both have strictures regarding the treatment of ethnic minorities.)
Amendment of the North Atlantic Treaty to admit new members requires action by each ally in accordance with its constitutional processes for adoption of a treaty. Each of the 19 prior members approved the amendment after the close of accession negotiations on 26 March, 2003, the U.S. doing so by two-thirds vote in the Senate. (The advice and consent motion passed by a 85-6 vote, on May 17, 2003). (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:46 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:39 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:21 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:30 AM by Patrick Belton
The good news is - there might be life on Mars. The bad news - if so, it seems to have a chronic flatulence problem. Policymakers caution that we may not actually want to be in contact with this life form.
Scientists in Bangalore have released a cheap, accessible computer for India's rural population, called the Simputer.
At the same time that the U.S. considers establishing an MI-5, Britain is creating an FBI. The cinematic possibilities for increased cooperation between mother and daughter countries in this realm are endless (think: Godfather IV: James Bond in the Goomba Who Loved Me).
Jackson Diehl editorializes in the WaPo that the unnoticed story of the year is the emboldening of Arab democrats in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Also in the WaPo, the DC government apparently covered up knowledge of the city water supply's elevated lead levels for at least 15 months before the story broke in the press.
There has been a terrorist attack in Tashkent. Initial suspicion is resting, predictably, on the IMU. This comes at a time when Washington has been considering downgrading strategic ties with Uzbekistan because of the latter's embarrassing human rights record. Also, reports have placed IMU head Tahir Yuldash as possibly having been with Al-Zawahiri in South Wazirstan during the Pakistani operation against an Al Qa'ida stronghold there.
Arab governments are recoiling in embarrassment from the last-hour cancellation of the Arab League summit yesterday in Tunisia, as speculation surrounds the precise reasons for the cancellation. One explanation has been that the Tunisian government was reluctant to play host to a summit which would produce only a tepid call for reform.
Elsewhere, the U.S. and Mexico are considering a revived plan for deep repatriation of undocumented migrants in the US - which is being read as a Mexican gesture of goodwill in the run-up to a more substantial hoped-for change in US-Mexican immigration relations.
Finally, today is, incidentally, the anniversary of the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Vietnam, which makes this an appropriate time to thank all of our veterans; for those who did not come back, we will not forget you. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:25 AM by Patrick Belton
Sunday, March 28, 2004
# Posted 6:17 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:48 AM by Patrick Belton
We in Lebanon are with you. Be sure that your blood is our blood and your sheikh is our sheikh. We share the same destiny and this means that our fight is oneHamas, on the other hand, is widely being considered by analysts to be working at its maximum capacity already, making claims of accelerated activity against Israeli targets principally rhetorical. (And for Palestinian voices calling for peaceful intifada, see Palestinian intellectuals' ad, Muslim WakeUp, and Palestinian Catholic priest Raed Awad Abushlia.)
UPDATE: Dan Drezner has more on Palestinians calling for nonviolence. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:39 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: Yanks have to wait a week..... (4) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, March 27, 2004
# Posted 12:31 PM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: Our beloved Adrienne points out that Tamils have no aspirations. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:03 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:58 AM by Patrick Belton
After challenging individual assertions by Brooks about, say, Nascar, QVC, and Doris Kearns Goodwin audiences, Issenberg draws the conclusion that Brooks is feeding into prejudice under the guise of public intellectualism,
There's even a Brooksian explanation for why he has become so popular with the East Coast media elite. Blue Americans have heard so much about Red America, and they've always wanted to see it. But Blue Americans don't take vacations to places like Galveston and Dubuque. They like to watch TV shows like The Simpsons and Roseanne, where Red America is mocked by either cartoon characters or Red Americans themselves, so Blue Americans don't need to feel guilty of condescension. Blue Americans are above redneck jokes, but they will listen if a sociologist attests to the high density of lawn-abandoned appliances per capita in flyover country. They need someone to show them how the other half lives, because there is nothing like sympathy for backwardness to feed elitism. A wrong turn in Red America can be dangerous: They might accidentally find Jesus or be hit by an 18-wheeler. It seems reasonable to seek out a smart-looking fellow who seems to know the way and has a witty line at every point. Blue Americans always travel with a guide.Leaving aside the obvious fact that Issenberg can't help invoking the red state-blue state distinction even in the act of criticizing Brooks for coining it, I wonder, more broadly, whether he might perhaps discount just a bit too drastically the reliability of lived experience - the "does it ring true?" test - as a guide for an essayist: even if most Marylanders or New Jerseyans are in fact Nascar watchers, and if there are substantial coastal enclaves like Austin, Texas solidly ensconced in red America, Brooks isn't necessarily purveying stereotypes to his buying audience when he seizes onto status details, Tom Wolfe-like, to summon up the distinction between a secular, educated, suburban (and gentrifying-urban) liberal America on the one hand and a godly, more traditional America on the other. This is distinction most readers and commentators would, based on their lived and reflected-upon experience of American social reality, place more evidentiary faith in than in particular demographic points of information about the moment's sales of No Ordinary Time on Amazon.com. As, I think, they should.
Nor is this to say that considered lived experience of social reality can't contain prejudices and biases which can and should be battered down by cannonades of evidence - only to say that something like Scottish enlightenment philosopher and epistemologist Thomas Reid's notion of common sense should also guide us in steering a path between the assumptions we live by and points of information which are adduced to challenge and demolish them.
One last point before leaving the topic: Issenberg (in what I do want to acknowledge again as a witty, provocative essay) depicts Brooks as an ersatz, faux public philosopher, and quotes approvingly an academic who bemoans the tempora and mores which in the place of a public space which once had "Holly Whyte, who got Jane Jacobs started, Daniel Bell, David Riesman, Galbraith," has now given us "David Brooks as your sociologist, and Al Franken and Michael Moore as your political scientists." That, though, is clearly the fault of academics - the serious sociologists, political scientists, and ethicists whose presence in public debate the author laments - who have not risen to addressing a public audience in a creative way which captures the imagination and frames sensed realities in new ideas, language, and distinction. That pundits and reporters have seized the ground only indicates that scholars in the social sciences have in our generation been more preoccupied with academic politics and narrow disciplinary disputes than in fulfilling the role of public intellectuals (or, like Cornel West, have sought fame in the public eye without carrying with them insightful or creative ideas) - and this is a true trahison des clercs.
UPDATE: Wonkette and Easily Distracted both have takes on the piece, too. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion