Saturday, November 06, 2010

On the election and theocrats

I have a new piece up at Propagandist magazine on the terrifying level of support Tom Tancredo and the Constitution Party received in the recent election, and the way mainstream conservatives like Sarah Palin backed his campaign. Here is a taste:

"The fact that a candidate running on a party platform that includes such reactionary bile could receive the endorsement of major conservative leaders like Sarah Palin and a sizable percentage of the vote should distress those on both the left and the right. Palin and the Tea Party want to claim that they are fighting for a return to “conventional” American values; their willingness to side with a political party so vastly removed from the mainstream exposes both the cynical and ideological nature of these actors."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In Your Neck of the Woods - Part 1

Here are some key posts from folks around the net. More to come.

Adam Holland addresses Glenn Greenwald's support for conspiracy theorists.

Kellie on the Afghan War and War on TV.

Anti-German Translation on the Anti-Zionism of fools.

Required reading at Bob's on the EDL.

Jeff Weintraub on what Saudis think of the Jews.

Harry's Place has the dummy's guide to Lambertism.

Marko likely picked up traffic to his site this week with his post on Angelina Jolie's Bosnian imbroglio.

Another great piece from Nick Cohen: Why Books are Our Last Great Hope.

Joshua Muravchik on Free Speech and the Slippery Slope.

Modernity on Toben, Zundel and Sizer.

Michael Totten on the Muslim Brotherhood's true face.

Martin on the Chilean Miners and Chilean history.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hitchens vs. Hitchens, again

Eli and Dan talk Terror

Dan Drezner, who has an excellent blog at Foreign Policy Magazine, and the generally strong Eli Lake form the Washington Times talk terrorism, counter-insurgency, and pragmatism.

Friday, October 15, 2010

From the Vaults



A poster used in the 1932 German election, which while being nearly 80 years old, needs not a single alteration.

Race-baiting this Political Season

The revolving door ad from the Brush Sr. campaign...



...meets Sharron Angle’s new ad.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Penn on Conspiracies

Related to my recent piece on conspiracy theories at Propagandist Magazine is a new episode of Penn Point.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More on Nation-Building

Paul Miller has an good piece challenging the argument that based on Afghanistan and Somalia, nation-building is an impossible endeavor. He writes:
"Most armed interventions deployed to improve a failed state's government capabilities -- whether you call it nation building or something else -- do not have to contend with Somalian levels of anarchy. The United States and the United Nations have learned by watching the big failures (in Angola and Liberia as much as Somalia), and operate with a measure of greater sophistication. The track record has actually improved since the early 1990s. The failures have been big, public, and humiliating, but the United States and the United Nations have also racked up better outcomes in Namibia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, East Timor, Liberia (the second time around), Sierra Leone (which came back from the brink of failure), and possibly Burundi.

Few of those countries are fully rebuilt, modern, stable, liberal democracies. Most are not particularly nice places to live. But the international interventions changed their trajectories. They are better off now than they were at the nadir of their respective wars and failures. That makes a real difference in human lives and is usually good enough to secure whatever interests led us to intervene in the first place."

Check it out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Outside the Whitman/Brown Debate at UC Davis

The protesters outside the gubernatorial debate speak volumes about the level of enthusiasm party activists have for the two major candidates. The cheers and jeers were uninspired and tired. A few union personnel showed up, as well as a handful of students and Tea Party activists, but the crowd remained diminutive and subdued.







We did have this spirited yelling match between a Democratic activist and a Tea Party counterpart, complete with the always classic “go back to Russia” rejoinder.

Angry Democrat with Tea Party at Whitman/Brown debate from rolanddodds on Vimeo.

There were a handful of tea party activists supporting anti-immigration, American Independent Party candidate for governor, Chelene Nightingale. Loren Hanks, a Tea Party Republican, was also at the debate although he did not have a vocal contingency.


(Nightingale with Hanks)



I saw this flyer supporting Calros Alvarez, a Socialist candidate running for Governor behind one of the major media booths. Unfortunately for Carlos, this act of self-promotion didn't turn into more media coverage for his doomed campaign.



Then there was this guy, who mumbled incoherently about this and that.



Other than that, the protest was exactly what I anticipated and was trailed by the depressing debate that characterizes what’s wrong with California politics.

Over at Propagandist Magazine

My first article for the Propagandist Magazine is up. I address the unfortunate turn towards the legitimization of feelings in the public debate, and its conspiratorial repercussions. Here is a snippet:
“The acceptance of conspiratorial reasoning in our public debate represents a larger problem that has regrettably become undeniable and inescapable. Conspiracies are nothing new; the first men sitting around their fire, terrified of the formidable world around them, devised explanations for this struggle not founded in empirically verifiable specifics. We may no longer be a society crouched around burning embers, praying for the ability to fend off the demons we have created, but we continue to accept and justify soft-headed answers based on unverifiable revelations or pious justifications for action.”

Some of your may know of Propagandist magazine from the debate over right/left alliances at Bob from Brockley’s place. While I haven’t commented publicly on this issue yet, I will likely address it in a future post here at this blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomorrow’s Debate

I can’t tell you how little I care about the gubernatorial election between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown. We have one woman who bought her way into the Republican nomination, and a ghost from the Democrat’s past. The fact that this is the best we as Californians can come up says more about us as a state than it does about these candidates and their supporters.

With that in mind, their first debate is tomorrow at my current university home, UC Davis. The school had a raffle for seats to the debate, and while I wasn’t chosen, I will be present to see the protesters the event brings out of the woodwork.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eddie Marcon

Another great Japanese band that crawled from the ashes of LSD March.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Elsewhere

It's time for a good old blog roundup.

Bob's has been exceptionally excellent as of late. This post and the subsequent comments are required reading for all those interested in the "decent" left.

Dave Zeglen, writing at the Propagandist, has a fine piece on North Korean succession.

Marko has a great piece titled "Srebrenica deniers get their mucky paws on Rwanda"

Ahmari at Harry's Place has a piece on the blogger crackdown in Bahrain.

Omar Al-Nidawi from Iraq the Model did an interview on the Brian Lehrer Show on the troop draw down in Iraq.

Martin hits the Koran burning story right on the head with his piece "No book burning - but no excuse for violence."

Michael Totten talks to Jonathan Spyer about Iran.

Joshua Muravchik on the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks.

Required reading from Nick Cohen on radical Islam's fellow travelers.

Terry Glavin has been in top form lately. Check out his new short piece, "If There's A Hell, It Would Be Attending This Conference, For Eternity."

For more roundups, I endorse the following by Anti-German Translation and Poumista.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

State-building in Iraq has Just Begun

I was going to wait until Obama made his upcoming speech on the American removal of “combat troops” from Iraq, leaving only 50,000 support specialists in the country, until I posted a piece on Iraq and the future of the American mission there. I will likely comment on Obama’s statements next week, but I felt there was a number of other points concerning the state-building process that should be addressed on their own.

A lot has been made in American media circles and chattering classes of Fourth Army Brigade’s pullout from Iraq. Technically speaking, the U.S. has now removed all of its combat troops from the country, although this fact does not represent the reality of the situation or the strategic and social investment America maintains in the country. As Max Boot points out:
Going forward, most remaining U.S. troops will not serve in "combat" but will be part of what the military calls "advise and assist brigades." The distinction is largely artificial, crafted to show that the promised American withdrawal is on schedule. Fifty thousand soldiers will retain substantial combat capacity whether they are designated as "advisers," "combatants" or "tourists." And some of them, especially in elite antiterrorism units, will continue to operate at the pointy end of the spear.”
There are still reasons to celebrate this feat, even if the “pullout” is largely emblematic. The Surge strategy did more than increase the number of troops in Iraq, but adopted a counter-insurgency strategy that reflected the need to put Iraqi community protection at the forefront of the U.S. military efforts in the country. This put American soldiers at a much greater risk of being attacked and killed, but appeared to create a window of opportunity for Iraqi civil society to function. No longer having American troops patrolling Iraqi streets is a major accomplishment over the situation that existed at the end of 2006.

For Iraqis, the war is far from over. Yesterday’s attacks on numerous Iraqi civilian and military installations across the country demonstrates just how fractured and chaotic the country is, and reveals the ability of insurgent groups to execute coordinated attacks across the state. 265 Iraqi security personnel have been killed between June and August, with August being the deadliest month for these individuals in two years.

All this talk about military strategy and security also evades the pressing state-building concerns Iraq still faces. Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic Studies correctly argues that Iraq and the international community is at a critical stage in the construction of a free, safe, and just Iraq. The Bush administration did not take state-building seriously in the first 4 years of the occupation (one of my main arguments in my recently completed dissertation), resulting in unnecessary bloodshed, violence, and destruction. While the Bush administration stuck with its failed light footprint approach, Iraqis suffered as insurgent groups grew in strength, and basic living necessities became scarce for the average citizen.

Many Iraqis continue to live in completely unacceptable conditions. The Wall Street Journal reports that “almost a quarter of all Iraqis live in poverty, spending less than 2,500 dinars ($2.20) per day, and possibly more are unemployed, according to a report published by the Iraqi government and the United Nations this month. The report says almost 75% of households don't have access to the public sewage system, while 80% of the potable water supply is unfit to drink. Iraq is among the top five most corrupt countries in the world, according to a 2009 report by Transparency International.”

Basic security is a central concern, without it, subsequent state-building is meaningless. But simply providing security is not enough; the international community owes it to the Iraqi people to help them rebuild a functioning state.

Prominent war backers are crowing that the U.S. has won the battle in Iraq, and can now claim victory, but that further support would encourage our new allies to remain entirely dependent on us.” There is truth in this assessment, but it misses the point. It was foolish to view the Iraqi state-building project in overly military terms in the years following 2003, and it’s foolish to see the country’s problems through that convoluted lens today. As Cordesman states, “Iraq still needs help and aid in every aspect of development, a continuing diplomatic and civil effort to help Iraqis overcome their sectarian and ethnic tensions. Defining exactly what level of US support is needed, and Iraq will accept, must wait on the creation of a new Iraqi government and giving that new government the time it needs to make such decisions. It is already clear, however, that Iraq needs immediate aid in developing its capability for governance, and economy.” It is of great moral importance that the U.S. continues to contribute to the furthering of their aims.

Iraq is at a crucial junction. I hope that with the Bush years finished and the disputes concerning the war’s justification and application behind us, the international community can stand behind Iraqis who are rebuilding their country. But they need our continued assistance, even as the media’s focus is directed elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recent Muravchik

I have disagreed with Joshua Muravchik over his characterization of the Obama administration as “radical” as he does in his recent book, but he has posted a few great pieces as of late.

He has come out in support of gay marriage in a piece titled “Why Gay Marriage Just Makes Sense.” In it, he states:
Decades ago, foreign policy, crime, and reverse discrimination were the issues that drove me from the Left, making me a “neoconservative.” Over decades, I came to see the wisdom of the views of traditional conservatives on other subjects like government spending, welfare, school prayer, and more. But as for opposition to gay marriage, I just don’t get it.
He has another piece on what appears to be the inevitable bombing of Iranian nuclear sites, and one on problems with the UN.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whereabouts

As you can tell, things have been slow around here lately. This has probably been the longest this blog has gone without a post since its inception.

Spending the entire summer working on my graduate dissertation (a constructivist reading of American state-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you were interested) took a great deal of my mental state away from writing for the sheer joy of it. Even posting a roundup of other pieces by fellow bloggers seemed daunting.

I have started teaching back in California as of last week all while working on another graduate degree in education in the afternoons and evenings. Getting used to this new, busy schedule has been physically and mentally draining.

I do plan to continue writing here however, and I have a few pieces rummaging around my head away at this very moment. Expect regular posting to return next week or so.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

On the Flotilla Incident



You know that an incident involving Israel is bound to bring out the fringe unhinged types. Nick Cohen is certainly right on this point:
“Israel has become the main source of mystification for modern liberals. It twists them into ever-uglier contortions. It allows them to ignore secular tyranny and radical religious reaction and to revive with more relish than is seemly Europe's oldest anti-Semitic tropes while they are about it...

Where to begin? Perhaps with the inability of a large section of leftwing opinion and, indeed, isolationist conservative opinion to consider any foreign policy question without reverting within minutes to denunciations of a tiny country on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. So prevalent are the evasive manoeuvres that we need an update of Godwin's Law to describe them...From the far left to the Liberal Democrats, alleged progressives have Jews on the brain.”
I attended the first part of the protest against Israel here in Edinburgh yesterday, but left before the march began. It was exactly what I expected to find: a hodgepodge of socialist parties, Islamist groups, with a smattering of well intentioned liberals. Marchers called for a new Intifada, referred to Israel as an apartheid state, and a rogue nation. Having been around these things long enough, I recognize that this is all par for the course. What has become increasingly sad (or has been sad for a long time, and has been progressively more frustrating), is the simpleminded responses given to any Israeli action from colleagues and associates. Without considering exactly how international law works, or how global ethics are applied, my conversations inadvertently return to the same basic claims parroted by simpletons and do-gooders alike. I have to occasionally remind myself that the individuals I am debating have proved themselves to capable academics and intellectuals in their respective fields, and yet fail to apply the same reasoning to a minuscule nation’s policies in the Middle East.

Take the debate over the blockade of Gaza and its legality. Reuters recently published a piece demonstrating that the blockade is legal when one considers international norms, and that the interception of the boat in international waters to also be justified.
“On the basis that Hamas is the ruling entity of Gaza and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity, the blockade is legal," said Philip Roche, partner in the shipping disputes and risk management team with law firm Norton Rose.

Under the law of a blockade, intercepting a vessel could apply globally so long as a ship is bound for a "belligerent" territory, legal experts say.”
In the hours immediately following the death of nine “activists,” the web was a flurry with folks claiming Israel had attacked an unarmed group of aid activists who simply wanted to bring starving individuals in Gaza needed aid. The subsequent videos, showing exactly what kind of “activists” these folks were aboard the flotilla, tempered some of the indignation. The martyr videos, the slew of weapons aboard the ship, the calls for the Jews to “go back to Auschwitz,” this all put a damper on the argument made by useful idiots around the world that these “activists” were just humanitarians with the best intentions at heart. A little research demonstrates that the starving Gaza assertion is demonstrably wrong, and that a massive amount of aid is delivered to Gaza through Israel routinely.

But like all things regarding Israel, respective commentators and groups already have their narrative ready for press before these incidents even occur. Why let the truth get in the way?

Bob and the New Centrist have more to say on this subject, and have a slew of links worth checking out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Post Election Blues

Here's what's happening, in your neck of the woods.

Airforce Amazons - Five executions by the Iranian state.

Marko reminds us that the world isn't going to end with the Tories in power.

Michael Totten interviews Paul Berman, who has a new book coming out, The Flight of the Intellectuals.

Nick Cohen on our sycophancy to power.

Graeme on Music and Politics.

Terry Glavin - The U.S. to Afghanistan: 'We Will Not Abandon You.'

Joshua Muravchik says Obama isn't much of a centrist, and also talks about Miranda rights for terrorists.

Bob talks the British election.

The New Centrist has more on the Arizona immigration law.

Anti-German Translation - The anti-authoritarian left embraces the anti-Zionist right

And last but not least, a Hamas/Hezbollah supporter reveals what she really thinks at a David Horowitz lecture.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The McVeigh Tapes

Rachel Maddow has a fine documentary on Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bombing, and domestic terrorism. Part 1 is here, the rest are well worth your time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Brown, Arizona, and Immigration

Gordon Brown is not suited for the modern political campaign. He recognizes this and anyone who watched the debates recognize this. But his recent gaff, and the appearances he made immediately after it, makes me think Brown doesn’t know what era he is trying to get elected in. From the Independent:
Gordon Brown described himself as a "penitent sinner" today after personally apologizing to a voter he described as a "bigoted woman".

The Prime Minister had described Mrs Duffy as a "bigoted woman" in unguarded comments to an aide after she had tackled him on immigration, benefits, the national debt and tax policy.

Mr Brown was still wearing a radio microphone as he got into his car following a campaign visit in Rochdale.”
Amazingly stupid. Brown has stated that he had misheard the woman’s comments, resulting in him calling her a bigot. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it sounds like a feeble dodge to me, and exposes a major problem in how liberals and the left frame immigration.

The recent Arizona immigration ruling, that makes illegal immigration a State as well as federal crime, allows the police to ask for any individual’s identification papers if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the U.S. illegally. John Judis at the New Republic had this to say about it:
“The bill is ostensibly aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from staying in Arizona, but it would also affect Arizona’s Latino citizens and probably, too, its Native Americans, who would be subject to arrest if they fail to allay a policeman’s suspicion that they are in the country illegally. Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony called the bill “the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law.” Mahoney also questioned whether Arizonans are “now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques.” That is, perhaps, rhetorical overkill, but there is a disturbing echo here of the worst periods in American and European history.”


The law is undoubtedly dim, and some unsavory individuals have contributed to its disposition. Police officers have enough on their hands dealing with serious crimes to now also act as Border Patrol agents. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it is going to be for Latin Americans living in Arizona, who will be asked to verify their citizenship or residency status anytime a police officer has “reasonable cause.” Some of the rhetoric coming from opponents of the bill, comparing it to fascism is outlandish, but this is surely not the proper legal, moral, or reasonable response to the Southwest’s immigration issues.

But there are negative consequences to the illegal immigration status quo that exists in the United States. It does cost American taxpayers a great deal to have the number of illegal residents we currently have. It also hurts existing blue collar workers, specifically by running their wages down and undermining many of the benefits achieved through decades of struggle.

When leftists, liberals, and Gordon Brown react to workers concerned with their (non-existent) jobs and wages by calling them racists and bigots, it does them no good politically or ideologically. There are benefits economically and culturally to large numbers of foreign born workers living in our societies. I completely reject the cultural arguments made by palecons like Pat Buchannan, who argue that the influx of foreigners is destroying American society. The American nation has always been in flux and is constantly changing demographically, but I do not find that the new batch of immigrants is changing the political or social character of the state detrimentally.

However, the extreme Arizona law is a result of a lack of action taken on immigration issues at the Federal level. When all concerns over illegal immigration are framed as the ravings of racist Klansmen, it does a disservice to rational debate. These more extreme rulings will continue to be supported by people who have faced the negative results of the current immigration system, and it requires internationalists and moderates to face these issues sincerely and pragmatically.

Update:

Concerning the Arizona law, both E.D. Kain and the New Centrist have some fine commentary worth reading.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recent Hitchens

On the National Prayer Day.


At NYU on Genocide.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Troops

My personal life continues to take away time from blogging, so here is a classic Star Wars fan film.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Over at Some Lost, Some Found

Over at the music blog, we have:

新宿ゲバルト - Awesome electronic Japanese jams.
George Duke - Great jazz/rock pianist.
Kim Jung Mi - Korean Songstress.
Lhasa de Sela - RIP
Tina Kaffeyah - kick ass hardcore.
Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti - classic Jazz greats.
Muhsinah - Lo/fi hip-hop.
Boxharp - Aussie awesomeness.
Dark Side of the Moon - 8Bit and awesome!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Hanson and Arquilla on Uncommon Knowledge

Part 2 of the newest installment of Uncommon Knowledge with Victor Davis Hanson and John Arquilla on modern warfare and the classics.

New Joshua Muravchik

Two new pieces from Joshua, at World Politics Review. Requires a subscription to access the complete articles.

U.S. Foreign Policy: Shooting Ourselves in the Foot


America's Ideals as an Antidote to Foreign Policy Partisanship

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Justice for Du'a Khalil

Finally, some justice on the murder of Du'a Khalil. From Worker’s Liberty:
According to official sources at Ninawa Criminal Court, the four people charged with the stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad on 7 April 2007 have been sentenced to death. The decision was made on 27 March, just three weeks before the third anniversary of Du'as murder.

It is reported that two of the convicted men are Du'a's brothers. Du'a was stoned to death in front of almost 2,000 men; with Iraqi police maintaining "law and order" while the stoning took place. The authorities knew about the atrocity, but did not prevent it.

The International Campaign against the Killing and Stoning of Women in Kurdistan has campaigned tirelessly for the killers to be brought to justice. Our campaign was the first to expose Du'a's murder, and brought great pressure to bear on the Iraqi government and Kurdistan regional government through demonstrations, seminars, conferences and a petition to the Kurdish parliament signed by 16,000 people across the world. We demanded not only the bringing of Du'a's killers to justice, but an end to so-called 'crimes of honour'.

But the decision to execute the killers is no justice and not what we want.”

They are better folks than I am. I for one, am happy to know these assholes will soon be dead.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Democracy, Music, and ex-Leftism

Pitchfork Media has an interesting piece on the role of the state in financially supporting musicians and its local cultural industries, specifically in Scandinavian countries. It’s an interesting piece that does bring in some good questions about the role government handouts play in supporting the arts and the health of a society.

I don’t agree with every point he makes, but David Swindle at Front Page Magazine has a two pieces about his move from “progressivism” to working at David Horowitz’s neoconservative Freedom Center. Also worth a look.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hitch on Real Time with Bill Maher

On recent Church child rape scandals.



Christopher Hitchens: The great Catholic cover-up at the National Post and Slate.

And another video, where Hitchens provides us with The New Commandments.


Here is an interview with Hitch on Foreign Policy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Elsewhere

Some fine stuff from the last few days that's worth your time.

Charles Johnson of LGF in the Dangerous Minds program. Part 1 and 2.

Zombie and the New Centrist take on the Pentagon shooter.

Graeme has two great pieces on right wing extremism and black metal.

James Kirchik addresses John Stewart's willingness to disparage Iraqi voters.

Nick Cohen has two good pieces on where the extreme left and right come together, and another on the Neocons, Obama, and the Falklands.

Marko has a piece on Ejup Ganic.

Clifford May writes "No Peace While World War Rages."

Terry Glavin - "I Bet You Thought It's Just The Combat Mission That's Coming To End Next Year, Right?"

Michael Totten on the 20 years after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu. Another excellent piece by one of the best independent journalists around.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lee Myung Bak's North Korean Policy is Popular

It appears that South Korea's president Lee Myung Bak's North Korean policy has appeased a majority of South Korea's population. From the Daily NK:
"The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) has used this anniversary to survey public opinion in South Korea on the matter. Three significant results stand out: 58% of those surveyed agree with the policy overall, 84% approve of the “Grand Bargain” concept, and 56% believe North Korea is the cause of Korean Peninsula hostility. Four years ago, only 25% thought North Korea was the hostile party. So then, has the Lee administration policy been successful? It appears so."

I was in Korea when Lee was elected with an overwhelming majority, and then had a very difficult first year in office with a slew of setbacks and the notorious Beef protests. It didn't matter to me how successful his domestic agenda was, but I worried that his presidency would be so weakened that he would backtrack from the harder stance his administration took concerning North Korea. Thankfully, it seems most Koreans agree that his approach has been an adequate one.

Over at Some Lost, Some Found

At the music blog, we have pieces by 新宿ゲバルト, In Gowan Ring, Adam Balbo, The Who, the Mummies, Phosphorescence, the Fog, and Agnostic Front. Check it out.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Johnson Goes after the John Birch Society

Charles Johnson from Little Green Footballs puts Conn Carrol of the Heritage Foundation in his place over the John Birch Society in their latest Blogginheads discussion. Since most of us here are interested in the far left and right, it is well worth your time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Avatar



Foreign Policy Magazine has a list of groups claiming Avatar is a representation of their struggle. From the Cato Institute to Russian Communists, apparently everyone has found a way to associate with Cameron's movie.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Elsewhere

When not arguing over the same old tired positions at my blog, I actually get around to reading pieces by other folks. Here are a few fine ones.

On the Amnesty International debacle, we have Airforce Amazons, Martin, Nick Cohen, Terry Glavin, and Christopher Hitchens.

Snoopy has an interesting bit (with some choice comments) about Tammy Obeidallah, the Intifadagirl.

The New Centrist and Bob from Brockley discuss Im Tirtzu. Bob also talks Marxism and Moonbats this week.

Concerning Palestinian activists dressing as Avatar characters, Johnny brings me this review of the film by resident Stalinists.

Graeme reminds me of an important anniversary that should be a paid holiday as far as I am concerned.

Joshua Muravchik writes about Iran, and what we can do.

Adam Holland: Ron Paul's website morns anti-Semitic author.

Anti-German translation has some links concerning Anarcho-Zionism.

Martin Kramer on the Chronologically-challenged Professor Walt.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Self Referential Nature of this is Going to Kill Me

Palestinian activists are now dressing as Avatar characters. May God have mercy on us all.



On the plus side, this is better than rockets being fired into Israeli civilian populations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Joshua Muravchik piece on the American Task Force on Palestine

Here is Joshua’s recent piece at Front Page Magazine, a response to Joe Kaufman's Frontpage article “The Terror and Crime of the American Task Force on Palestine."

Joshua has also started blogging over at World Affairs Magazine at whats called Neocon Corner, and has a few posts so far. His most recent, "Go Green," is about the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michael Oren Heckled and Stupid, Stupid Protesters

Making fun of childish university protesters could be a full time job. Although every piece would end up looking the same. If I were smart, I would just make a document with empty spaces for the date and location, and simply plug in those necessary tidbits every time one of these protests pops up.

The recent free speech hating outburst came from our good friends at the University of California, Irive who found it necessary to disrupt a speech by Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. The Muslim Student Union at UCI has been an especially disgusting group that has been connected to radical Islamist elements around the world. So I expect this group to hate democracy and have no qualms about silencing a diplomat from a free and democratic state from speaking. The "radical" "leftists" who stood in solidarity with them is another matter altogether, and yet another moment that demonstrates just how broken and pathetic the Left in the West has become.



Good for the university official that reprimanded them for behaving like the children that they are. Grow up, learn how to debate, and come back to school when you have outgrown your diapers. Leave scholarly activity to the adults.

Well, at least they weren't calling for the death of Jews like they did in Oxford. I suppose I could give them credit for that.

Update:
Here is the whole event at UCI. Near the end is a short interview with Palestinian refugee Ghazi Brighith, which is worth a listen.

Blair and the Iraq Inquiry

Tony Blair appeared before the Iraq Inquiry here in Britain a few weeks back, and it gave commentators from across the political divide a chance to rehash their Iraq War slogans and attempt to paint Blair as a war criminal who should be tried for murder or as a brave statesmen who made difficult decision in difficult times. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have been a supporter of Blair, especially on foreign policy. That aside, I thought Blair gave a persuasive defense for intervention in Iraq, and intervention as a policy option.

Here is what others have said about Blair’s comments before the inquiry.

Martin in the Margins wrote:
“From the bits I heard, I thought Blair offered a powerful defence of liberal interventionism and a clear and unwavering assessment of the threats that still face us. Radio 5's summary of his testimony began with 'Well, he didn't apologise and he didn't admit he lied', or words to that effect, as if that was the only 'take away' from Blair's appearance that would have satisfied the journos. Truly, the mainstream media coverage of Chilcot has been a disgrace.”
Very true. I happened to be on the Brian Taylor’s Big Debate, a BBC talk program which was hosted here in Edinburgh the day Tony was questioned (sadly, the BBC doesn’t have the episode available on its website), and it was clear the journalists present and the vocal crowd providing questions to the panel all desired to see Blair break down on stage or offer an apology while holding back tears. Anything less than that was going to disappoint them.

Hopi Sen wrote:
“After this enquiry, I doubt many politicians will risk any noble causes. How likely are Messrs Cameron, Balls, Miliband or Hague to stake their reputations on the sufferings of far away countries of whom we know little?

I fear the future will be full of Kosovo’s – and worry that the legacy of Chilcot will be that we let them happen.”


The fact that there has been so many of these inquiries into the British government’s role in the Iraqi liberation is a bit baffling to me, especially since nothing of incredible significance has been reveled in the process. If anything, the repercussions of these constant investigative panels will be that no government in the future will ever make a difficult decision, as it may result in years of examination. Politicians are generally weak willed individuals who take the road of least resistance as not to rock the boat and lose their privileged seat in government, and these pointless inquires are only going to weaken their knees further.

Nor am I saying politicians shouldn’t be held accountable for policies they support. But as Nick Cohen argues:

“And yet mainstream public opinion has never been interested in offering solidarity to the victims of Ba'athism and Islamism. Instead of talking about what happened to Iraq either before or after the invasion, it has remained stuck in the groove of spring 2003, endlessly scratching the record for a conspiratorial explanation for Britain's decision to invade.

We are now enduring our fifth Iraq inquiry. Tribunals have called Alastair Campbell so many times he could imitate Sherman McCoy in The Bonfire of the Vanities and declare: "I am a career defendant. I now dress for jail, even though I haven't been convicted of any crime." They do not seem to know it but if they hold inquiries until the crack of doom, the war's opponents will never convict him or the Labour leadership. Their central allegation that the second Iraq war was "illegal" is unsustainable and not only because no competent court has validated it.”


The “Bush/Blair lied: People Died” meme has been so ingrained in certain circles of the political debate that they simply can’t imagine that there are less sinister reasons for the war in Iraq. As Cohen points out, this mindset is inherently conspiratorial; it isn’t built on facts or evidence, but gut feelings and reinforced arguments maintained in an echo chamber. Opponents of the war have convinced themselves that the only people who would support liberating Iraq were nefarious "Zionist" Neocons, Christian fundamentalists, or corporatist businessmen who thrive in times of war.

Some folks simply can’t grasp that individuals like SMP George Foulkes (who was present at the Big Debate I attended), and Ann Clwyd (who has been a supporter of dissidents in Iraq and Saddam’s victims for decades) believed that it was Britain’s moral responsibility to end a regime that had crushed its citizens for too long. Clwyd stated at the Iraq Inquiry:

“The Kurds had never told me before that they wanted to war. I mean they had their uprisings, you know, against the regime, the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the south, but I had never ever heard them say, “We want a war”. They had tried to overthrow him — Saddam’s regime themselves, but never had anybody said, “We want a war”. But this time they said to me, “There is no other way”, and that’s the first time I ever heard the Kurds — and I have a very long association with them — say that. “There is no other way”. So when I came back and we had this debate at the beginning of February — the beginning of March — middle of February in the House of Commons, and I spoke then explaining what I had just heard and seen in Kurdistan, and I said for the first time that, you know, with INDICT over the years we had tried every way, with sanctions we had tried, but actually even that twin-track approach had not managed to move the regime. So I felt myself there was no other option. I didn’t feel that I could go back and face the Kurds and say that I had argued any other way because I couldn’t on the basis of what I had heard.”


Of course, there is the argument that the war was ‘illegal,’ something repeated so often by war opponents that those making this assertion can hardly understand opposition to the claim. Max Dunbar takes this bit apart:

“I’ve been pondering one of the more confused of the antiwar arguments: the legality or otherwise of the Iraq war. The idea that the invasion was wrong because it was ‘illegal’ is frequently levelled, often by people who have a negligible understanding of international and war crimes law, and sometimes by people who belong to political groups dedicated to the armed overthrow of parliamentary democracy. If the war had been declared ’legal’; if some attorney general had said, ‘Yes, this is okay, go for it’ would the antiwar faction have turned round, admitted fault and supported the war? If we’re going to talk legality, surely war is a crime in and of itself.

But the charge of illegality serves one purpose – to turn an argument about human rights, democracy and the responsibility to protect into an argument about boxes checked, hoops jumped and resolutions passed. It allows you to sidestep the complex issues of solidarity and internationalism and to retreat into a position of abstract judgement.”


Max knows the answer to his own question. Opponents of the war would have simply found another reason to argue against the invasion (there are plenty of rational reasons to be against the Iraq War); the legalistic argument just sounds better and allows those who make it to avoid discussing the moral ramifications of the conflict. They don’t have to talk about Iraqi trade unions, minorities, and dissidents living under Saddam’s government. They don’t have to address their plight at all, nor do they have to concern themselves with their struggle to rebuild the country after years of brutal dictatorship and then civil war. It’s a pass; saying the war was “illegal” provides no insight into what should have been done and what should be done now.

Blair’s entire six hours in front of the Inquiry is worth watching, but a condensed version of his argument was provided on Mike Huckabee’s show a few days back.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Updates



The new semester is now I full swing, and it is requiring all of my attention at the moment. I have to present a synopsis on my dissertation in a few weeks, which is adding an extra burden to my current schedule. I will continue to post regularly, but these external constraints may limit me to one real piece of writing here a week.

I did some blog housekeeping today, removing a few sites that have ceased to produce any new posts for some time now. I am not sure what the etiquette is on removing fellow bloggers from the blog roll, and all of the ones removed produced some great material in their day. I simply wish to keep my blog list small and focused on folks currently writing things that I find interesting or am sympathetic towards.

I also added a few sites that should have been on the list a long time ago, like the Canada-Afghanistan blog, Fat Man on a Keyboard, and Graeme’s aptly titled new blog “The Roar of the Masses Could be Farts."

By now, most of you have probably heard about this, but Reverend Sizer's intimidation of a fellow blogger should get your attention.

P.S. The music blog (Some Lost, Some Found), has been churning out posts regularly by the New Centrist, myself, and a few other bloggers. Drop in there if you are interested in tunes a bit off the radio dial.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is the Afghan Government Worth Fighting For?



It cuts off a bit near the end, but having a sitting member of the Afghan Parliament make the case is something worth watching.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Elsewhere

Let’s take a look at some fine, recent posts by a few fellow bloggers and commentators.

Michael Totten has a two part interview with Christopher Hitchens.

Adam Holland - Harold Ford backed anti-union, anti-gay, anti-Jewish congressional candidacy of Nikki Tinker

A long list of quality links from Bob, as well as the extensive discussion on Chomsky and the "Decents."

The New Centrist - 25 Years Ago Today: A Hero Stood His Ground and Fought Back

Greater Surbiton - Ten things I’d like to see more of in the 2010s

Martin in the Margins - Balancing Bans

Jeff Weintraub - The American war in Iraq trails off

John Avlon - Shameless Haiti Wingnuts

Michael Signer - The Neoconservative Père et Fils

Thursday, January 07, 2010

More Fun with Ron Paul and the Paulistas


Measuring a politician or political movement by the comments left by their followers on a message board is a bit unfair, but I do find it telling what topics get discussed at length by the faithful in any alliance. The comments posted on a forum are by no means representative of the movement as a whole, yet they illuminate the group’s priorities and worldview.

The Ron Paul Forums are a perfect example. In a post titled the “Ultimate putin interview!”, forum members lavish Russia’s Putin with praise for his “wisdom and clarity” and for being “against the NOW.” One member even asks if “when his term is up, maybe he can come over here and run for office?

Yes, what I have done is selective and unfair to Dr. Paul, but there is a reason forums and websites built to further the movement around him routinely fuel this kind of nonsense. Just scanning through the forum’s topics, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that New World Order conspiracies and Israel hatred are the topics tackled habitually. Adam Holland has done an excellent job covering Michael Scheuer’s (who was Paul’s chief foreign policy adviser) recent media appearances, and the nutty conspiratorial things he has been professing. Scheuer’s consistent use of conspiracy burdened rhetoric cornering Zionists and secret elites who dictate American foreign policy is already beyond the pale of reasonable political scrutiny, and this man was the one in charge of Paul’s foreign policy program! It is hardly surprising that Paul’s followers would take this nonsense to a more elevated level.

As I mentioned in a previous post on Paul, some conservatives have trumpeted 2009 as the year Paul and his ideas went mainstream. I am sad to say that I would have to agree with their assessment. I believe the movement that surrounds the man is a perilous one however, and the fact that his forum often mirrors the topical themes addressed at Stormfront should give pause to libertarians who may be sympathetic to Paul’s anti-government position.

Your Daily Hitchens



The great Michael Totten also has part 1 of his interview with Hitchens up as well.