Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Looks like Belfast, but it's not Posted by Hello


The ongoing negotiations with Iran would be slightly humorous were the stakes not so high. The Iranian negotiators are either not the savviest or else they are completely confident that no serious action will ever be taken against them. To recap: they initially refused to end their nuclear weapons program, then agreed to, then said that they would continue to keep centrifuges for a nuclear power program, then under pressure said that they would cancel this as well, and now have announced that the cessation of uranium enrichment is temporary, possibly lasting for only a few months, for the duration of negotiations with Europe. The idea of coming to an agreement that is only valid until people leave the negotiating table doesn't quite add up from my point of view.

And why does this growing scandal still not penetrate European papers? I wonder if, for example, France sees this as an important issue?

Monday, November 29, 2004


I've got enough ambition for several New Year's resolutions this year, and one of them will be to no longer mince my words when dealing with Christian fundamentalists of this variety:

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.
Asked about the millions of Americans who are not Christian, or have a different interpretation of Christianity, Kennedy said with another laugh: "I couldn't care less. It's true."

Disgusting and infuriating. The least I can do is make these kind of people uncomfortable in my company, and so I will. If they won't use reason or common sense, I won't use an unwarranted amount of respect for their "moral values."

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Complaints and Questions

Donald Rumsfeld on NPR, on the subject of NATO countries refusing to send troops to Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers (I'm paraphrasing):

"It's like you have 5 basketball players training together for weeks, and all of a sudden two of them raise their hands and say "you know what, I don't feel like playing today.'"

Fair enough, but it makes me wonder how many our problems in Iraq might be due to an over-reliance on basketball analogies.

On an unrelated note, I have my Blogger settings set to Greenwich Time Zone, and yet my post timestamps have no relation to reality. I might post at 12:25 and it says 1:15 or 1:56, who knows. I can only surmise that Blogger doesn't realize there is a systematic way of determining the time in another time-zone outside of the US, relying instead on a random number generator or, in the happiest part of my imagination, a dartboard.

Advice We are Expected to Ignore


You can elect Bush, Kerry or Satan himself, it doesn't matter to us," Ayman al-Zawahiri said.

Are those supposed to be in descending order?

Also in the videotape, Al-Zawahiri apparently criticized Egypt for humans rights abuses, which...wow.

Happy to be Paid in Pounds

Oh man, how did I miss this? I had been wondering how long I'd have to wait till Scott McClellan proclaimed a strong-dollar policy, but I didn't even have to settle for words from the minion. Mr. Bush, I salute you for your consistency.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Is There a Bigger Son of a Bitch in the US?

Quotes from Jerry Falwell from today's Meet the Press:

"And I think it's unthinkable that we're debating what a family is, a man married to a woman. They've got that right in the barnyard. We've had that for 6,000 years and to think that we're trying to redefine families."


In the midst of the values talk, Tim Russert, the moderator of "Meet the Press," quoted from a recent Newsweek article that states that Marc Cherry, the creator of the hit television series "Desperate Housewives," is "a somewhat conservative, gay Republican."

Dr. Falwell said, "Well the fact that he's a gay Republican means he should join the Democratic party."

2 Deep 4 Me

I Heart Huckabees was the dumbest movie I've seen in a while, though I admittedly have not seen a lot lately. Surprisingly, I read quite a few good reviews in advance of seeing it, but the whole thing was a let-down, full of lazy quasi-philosophy that lead to an asinine conclusion. It had its comic moments, but otherwise was too full of itself. I think that David O. Russell was trying to work in the vein of Wes Anderson while lacking Anderson's subtlety and general lightness of touch, opting instead for heavy-handedness and some cheap laughs. Anderson's best work, in contrast, never seems like it has to try to hard to be incredibly funny and moving at the same time. I'm counting the days until The Life Aquatic.

But maybe it's just the shallow American in me, as Joe Queenan seems to think the film was just too deep for Americans. Oh, Europe, if this qualifies as deep then I despair for you. But I'm not losing hope; after seeing it last night, I read this mauling in the Observer this morning:

David O Russell's deeply disappointing I Heart Huckabees is a lesser product of 'the new whimsy', that school of surreal, absurdist comedy to which Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson belong.

Any of those directors would I'm sure be embarrassed to be associated with this product. It's obviously derivative of their various styles, but you can't lump it into "the new whimsy" school when it is so self-consciously trying to be important and big. I hope that Russell sticks with what he does best, as in the excellent Three Kings.


Incidentally, the Toledo Blade link came off the wires and has this paragraph:

Although the amounts involved in this trade dispute are modest compared with other recent cases, the WTO's decision about the Byrd amendment is unusual in that it involved several countries taking action against one.

The International Herald Tribune story is simply by Paul Meller and has this:

Although the amounts involved in this trade dispute are modest compared with other recent cases, the Byrd Amendment decision is unusual in that it involved several countries taking action against one.

You tell me, babies. How hard is it to write "Paul Meller and wire services"?

When Conservatives Were Conservatives

Hey, why do the Republicans hate free trade? And why does Robert Byrd?

The administration signaled it would accept the penalties short term but warned that the United States would aggressively protect its own trading interests and expects fair treatment from the WTO.

Well, let it not be said again that the WTO is merely an arm of the U.S. government.

If any of you considers yourself to be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, I'd encourage you to examine which traditional conservative beliefs the Republican party still stands for:

1) Fiscal responsibility? Nope. Deficits don't matter.

2) Cautious and strategic foreign policy? Nope. Democratic realism is surpassed by democratic globalism, the Trotskyite legacy of the neoconservative movement. Worldwide revolution, comrades!

3) Free trade? Clearly not.

4) Protection of civil liberties? Was Ashcroft just a dream?

I wonder how the Clinton presidency would fare with these questions.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

St. Paul

While this is generally an interesting article on the relationship between Hmong and whites in St. Paul, I do have a particular problem with the piece. I'm obviously in no position to know whether or not Mr. Vang's claims about being called racist names and being shot at are true, and even if true they would in no way justify what he did, but the article really gives short shrift to the possibility that Mr. Vang didn't start the altercation, without any firm evidence for discounting the idea offhand:

Some said they wondered whether there was more to the case - and thought they might have gained some understanding when they learned Mr. Vang had told the police that the local hunters used ethnic slurs against him and fired at him before he started shooting. A police statement by a hunter wounded in the incident makes no mention of ethnic slurs.

Well, if the white hunter didn't mention any racist slurs, I guess it's case closed.

But people in Wisconsin said that complaints by some Asian hunters of insults or harassment from white hunters were exaggerated. "I haven't heard any anger against the Hmong," said Patty Behrndt, manager of a bookstore in Rice Lake, the main town in this part of the North Woods.

I can't even begin to see the relation between the first sentence and the supposedly supportive quote. Accusations of racism can't be swept aside so easily, and it is lazy journalism to use a random man-on-the-street quote in an attempt to do so. The writer is understandably walking on eggshells in an attempt to respect the dead when there is not yet any evidence to dishonor their names, but the end result is pretty atrocious.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Malenkaya Kholodnaya Voyna

(or "little cold war," continuing on the Scoop Jackson theme...)

Ah, the good ol' days, when international crises simply meant a tug-of-war between Russia and the West regarding influence in the Eastern bloc. After Powell escalated the rhetoric a couple of days ago, Putin responded in kind yesterday:

But Putin warned the international community against interference and said only Ukrainians could decide the winner of their election.

Oops, he'll be pissed when he realizes he was tricked into admitting that! What ever happened to Russian message discipline?

Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, Washington State Senator, 1952-1983 Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 25, 2004


"Free men are engaged in a bitter contest with powerful and resourceful adversaries. The responsibility of America is to defend vital national interests, promote the economic well-being of the nation, and to use its power and influence with the good sense that marks a great nation. This is no easy task.

If our country is to stay the course until the world finds a way to assure peace with justice, then the Presidency, and the State and Defense Departments, as well as other national security agencies, must measure up to the highest standards of competence. And members of Congress, too.

Americans have a healthy distrust of the concentration of power. I say 'healthy' because it is so easy for a man to confuse his possession of power with the possession of wisdom. The tendency to this confusion is difficult to resist, as every parent knows. Wisely, the American people suspect claims to omniscience."

Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, The National Security Council, 1965

Better Planning in State and Defense

"One point seems beyond argument. Today, effective national security planning depends on intimate day-to-day contact between the diplomat, the soldier and his civilian colleagues, the scientist, the economist, and others.

Many believe that the planning process in State and Defense would be improved by enlisting the talents of officials experienced in a wider variety of fields than is now the case. They also seeks ways of encouraging planning cross-fertilization through greater use of planning teams whose members represent diverse viewpoints and backgrounds.

These questions follow:
1. Should officials with more diverse backgrounds and experience be brought into the policy-planning process in State and Defense?
2. Is there need for a joint Planning Staff for the State Department, Defense Department, and Joint Chiefs of Staff?
3. Can greater use be made of ad hoc interdepartmental task forces on special issues of national security policy?
4. What is the proper relationship between the State and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and/or the Joint Staff of the JCS)? Should a representative of the Secretary of State participate in discussions of the JCS when appropriate?"

Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, The National Security Council, 1965


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Poisoning the Challenger

I have to admit that I am impressed by the stand that the Bush administration is taking against the fraudulent election in the Ukraine. The reason is that it is no secret that Russia wants Moscow-friendly Yanukovich in as president, and for the last few years the US/Russia relationship has consisted of a lot of looking the other way so as to maintain friendly relations. In fact, Putin said just before the US elections that he favored Bush because Bush didn't meddle in Russian affairs. The Ukraine is obviously not an internal Russian affair, it is its own affair, but anyway it is impressive to see Powell speak out so boldly against "Moscow's candidate."

Coming in from the Cold

The Goss-era CIA exodus continues:

A former intelligence official described the two as "very senior guys" who were stepping down because they did not feel comfortable with new management.

These guys were at the very top of CIA covert operations: the heads of the Europe and Far East divisons.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Confidential to Bill

Here is the full text of the 9/11 Commission's recommendation on moving covert actions to the Defense Department, including motivations for said recommendation:

Recommendation: Lead responsibility for directing and executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert, should shift to the Defense Department. There it should be consolidated with the capabilities for training, direction, and execution of such operations already being developed in the Special Operations Command.

  • Before 9/11, the CIA did not invest in developing a robust capability to conduct paramilitary operations with U.S. personnel. It relied on proxies instead, organized by CIA operatives without the requisite military training. The results were unsatisfactory.

  • Whether the price is measured in either money or people, the United States cannot afford to build two separate capabilities for carrying out secret military operations, secretly operating standoff missiles, and secretly training foreign military or paramilitary forces. The United States should concentrate responsibility and necessary legal authorities in one entity.

  • The post-9/11 Afghanistan precedent of using joint CIA-military teams for covert and clandestine operations was a good one. We believe this proposal to be consistent with it. Each agency would concentrate on its comparative advantages in building capabilities for joint missions. The operation itself would be planned in common.

  • The CIA has a reputation for agility in operations. The military has a reputation for being methodical and cumbersome. We do not know if these stereotypes match current reality; they may also be one more symptom of the civil-military misunderstanding we described in chapter 4. It is a problem to be resolved in policy guidance and agency management, not in the creation of redundant, overlapping capabilities and authorities in such sensitive work. The CIA's experts should be integrated into the military's training, exercises, and planning. To quote a CIA official now serving in the field: "One fight, one team."

  • So what Safire terms "radical" is really a move towards consolidation, eliminating redundancy, improving training, and generally removing the turf mentality of the current intelligence setup. I have plenty of problems with the Defense Department, especially under Rumsfeld - as the Commission states earlier in their report, the Defense Department has become an empire, with a budget larger than the GDP of Russia. They have their own in-house "state department" and intelligence gathering operations which help to keep them insular, bloated and generally uncooperative with other governmental agencies, but I don't think that transferring covert operations to the Defense Department will worsen this problem. Taken together with the other Commission recommendations, the Pentagon will go back to being what it is supposed to be: one cog among several working together, with new central oversight and less redundancy. "One team, one fight."

    All of the Commission's reasons for this move seem irrefutable to me.

    Replacing Bill

    What with Safire leaving his Op-Ed podium (though staying on with the 'On Language' bit), rumors and suggestions are flying around regarding the impending replacement. My first thought was Andrew Sullivan, and apparently a lot of others had the same idea . The main assumption is that Safire will be replaced with another conservative, which I think is a good idea. Brooks and Friedman fall to the right, but the rest of the NYT Op-Ed contributors could be considered centrist or left-leaning.

    My number two choice is Christopher Hitchens, who is not exactly a conservative but has nonetheless been one of the most prominent hawks in the commentariat these past few years.

    My third choice is Francis Fukuyama, an intellectual with impeccable neocon credentials who also has demonstrated the ability to point out when the emperor has no clothes . And what with the very public fallout between Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer, it could make for some interesting shots across the bows of the NYT and the Post.

    Op-Eds of the Day

    William Safire seems to think that the real heroes are those who stood up to this insidious intelligence reform. One point he singles out seems particularly erroneous, however:

    I'd like the next Congress to take a hard look at a radical notion in the current bill - to strip the C.I.A. of its covert-action arm and assign that function to the Pentagon. That calls for all-out war or no action at all - when sometimes it is wise to operate in the gray area of plausible denial.

    So...if the Pentagon is in charge of covert actions, then there's no such thing as covert actions? Safire is probably choosing a good time to be stepping down from his post at the old gray lady.

    Kristof, meanwhile, takes on a worthy target in the Left Behind book series:

    The "Left Behind" series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world's Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: "Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching."

    Gosh, what an uplifting scene!

    If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard.

    I worked at a library for quite a while and was always amazed -- and disgusted -- at how popular these books are with young kids. I can't imagine that the best way to instill true Christian values in young kids, if that is one's goal, is via the fire and brimstone route. But how can you argue with guys like this:

    Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.

    Arguing with fundamentalists has never been less fun.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2004


    So it's not that Rumself opposed the intelligence reform legislation in the House necessarily, it's just that, in his own words, 'What they're in is a very complicated negotiation up there.'

    Pessimistic Approval?

    These polls differ by a few points, but it's pretty interesting how news organizations spin a relatively small difference in polling numbers into widely different headlines:

    Poll: Majority Give Bush Good Job Approval Mark

    Americans Show Clear Concerns on Bush Agenda

    Well, they're both right. Bush's approval rating is between 51% and 54%, but both polls show concern that the Iraq war was a mistake and, regardless of whether respondents approved of the war to begin with, nearly 75% are worried about the way things are going there now. Two-thirds of all those polled in the NYT/CBS poll, including a majority of Republicans, believe that cutting the deficit is more important than cutting taxes.

    Monday, November 22, 2004


    Strange that neither CNN nor MSNBC feel that the events unfolding in the Ukraine merit front-page coverage.

    Did They Check the Yellow Pages?

    So when U.S. troops finally found al-Zarqawi's command center, it was basically a matter of following the signs:

    According to CNN's footage, the suspected al-Zarqawi command center was in an imposing house with concrete columns and a large sign in Arabic reading "Al-Qaeda Organization" and "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."

    (thanks to Wonkette for the link)

    Artest the Idiot

    I'm now taking suggestions on how the US military could best put Ron Artest's surplus of energy to good use. He's got several months of nothing to do, so let's put him to work.

    Iran Games

    It seems that recent Pentagon simulations regarding the stopping of Iran's production of atomic weapons involve military strikes against the country. More on such war simulations here and here. All I know is that if these war simulations are at all similar to the game Global Power which I have on my PC, then I know how all of this will end: with me losing.

    I would support limited strikes against Iran, as it is a clear danger in the region, but it is sobering to think how limited our options are now because of the misguided war in Iraq. David Sanger has the details:

    With roughly 130,000 troops stationed in Iraq for a while - and hundreds of thousands more supplying them, training to replace them, or just coming off duty there - Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice lack the kind of flexibility to deal with crises around the world that they had four years ago...
    The result is that "we may have maxed out on hawkishness for a while,'' said Daniel Benjamin, who served on the National Security Council under President Clinton and was deeply involved in the first, unsuccessful, efforts to curb Al Qaeda in the 1990's. There will be "many opportunities to sound hawkish'' on North Korea and Iran, said Mr. Benjamin, but Mr. Bush has limited options in both places.

    It is difficult to imagine getting many other countries on board. The bright side is that Iran may be coming to its senses on its own.

    Sunday, November 21, 2004

    House of Horrors

    In other twisted news out of the House of Representatives, a bill that would enact recommendations of the 9/11 commission has been stalled because of a lack of support among some conversative Republicans. The bill does have pretty broad bi-partisan support, but certain factions on the right who are apparently operating at the behest of the Defense Department are stalling. It basically boils down to the territorial nature of the existing intelligence agencies, who are unwilling to relinquish a degree of control (especially budgetary control) to a national intelligence overseer.

    Speaking of the 9/11 commission, I can't recommend enough the 9/11 Commission Report, which I am currently making my way through. I dragged my feet on reading it for a while, as we were hearing long before its release that it was a compromised document as far as willingness to lay blame in the places where blame needed to be doled out, but it seems about as comprehensive as I could have hoped for. If you don't want to pay for it (though it's cheap), you can download it for free (but it's lllloong).

    When these fellas ride into town, the locals scramble under the boardwalks.  Posted by Hello

    GOP Watch

    Man, you can't take a vacation without the Republicans first trying to slip something past you. And by you, I mean the House Democrats. First it was the insertion of an anti-abortion provision into the spending omnibus. Regardless of your views on abortion, this isn't how the government is supposed to work, folks. Just before voting on said omnibus, Democrats discovered that a Republican representative from Oklahoma had inserted a provision making anyone's tax returns available to Congressional staff: see link above. Deeply embarrassed Republicans claimed that the insertion was a mistake and that that provision of the omnibus stands no chance of going into law.

    When a document is 1630 pages and is a must-pass piece of legislation such as a spending omnibus, the situation is simply too ripe for abuse, as certain House Republicans have demonstrated. There is simply no way for congressmen who received a copy of the omnibus in the early morning to have it thoroughly read by the evening vote. As John McCain notes, this shows how broken the system really is. It's reminiscent of the Patriot Act, another piece of legislation that congressmen could've spent a little more time reading, to say the least.


    As many of you will know, the governor's race in Washington has still not been decided and a mandatory recount is underway to determine whether Rossi's very slim lead over Gregoire holds. Republicans are trying to prevent many votes in heavily-Democratic King County from being recounted, because they are not machine-read ballots. So much for "every vote counts." This isn't about equal protection under the law, it's about employing any means to the end. Meanwhile, Democrats are asking that Republican counties be required to recount their ballots by flashlight with one arm tied behind their back.

    Update: I forgot to mention, California Representative Barbara Boxer was going to stall on the spending omnibus until the anti-abortion provision was removed, but she relented when Senator Bill Frist promised that the Senate would hold a separate vote on the issue in the Spring. So we have a long Winter ahead of wondering how good Frist's word is.

    Saturday, November 20, 2004


    Check out Dexter Filkins's excellent first-hand account of the battle for Falluja in tomorrow's NY Times.

    Guardian Bonus

    This is the intro to a profile of Condoleeza Rice:

    OK, so she likes invading countries, killing thousands of innocent civilians, and imposing US-style capitalism across the globe. This modern-day Boudicca is probably the most evil woman the planet has seen since Margaret Thatcher. But, that aside, you have to admit it: Condoleezza Rice is one helluva lady.

    Pretty impressive combination of sexism and general simple-mindedness.

    The Guardian and the US

    As David Letterman would ask, is this anything?

    I noted before about the Guardian reporting on stories from the US with wording suspiciously similiar to American newspapers or wire services. Something caught my eye again today. This time the subject is a securities fraud prosecution in California, and the Guardian article is very similar to the SEC legal brief itself. At first it was a similarity of wording I noticed, but then I realized that the logical structure of the two sources is almost identical in certain points. For convenience sake I put the relevant sections of the SEC document and the Guardian article below, respectively, with similar portions highlighted:

    According to documents filed by the Commission in the federal court for the Northern District of California, Tri-West Investment Club ("Tri-West") and Alyn Waage, a Canadian citizen residing in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, may have raised more than $30 million from investors in the U.S. and abroad. The Commission's complaint alleges that Tri-West, through its website, solicits a minimum $1,000 investment in a "bank debenture trading program" secured by "certain key International `Prime Banks.'" Tri-West claims to guarantee a 120% annual rate of return with no risk to investors. In fact, according to the Commission, the securities offered by Tri-West are entirely fictitious; "bank debenture trading programs" and other purported "Prime Bank" instruments do not exist.

    Tri-West's website further claims that the "bank debenture trading program" is managed by Haarlem Universal Corporation, purportedly "one of the largest and most prestigious trading companies in the world" with a thirty year history of generating high returns for investors.

    According to the Commission, however, Haarlem is not a registered investment company, and has been in existence only since the scheme began in 1999.
    The scheme ran from 1999 to September 2001, using a website to solicit investments promising guaranteed returns of 120% in a "bank debenture trading programme".

    According to the site, which has been closed, the investment was managed by Haarlem Universal Corporation "one of the largest and most prestigious trading companies in the world" with a 30-year history of generating high returns for investors.

    The company was not a registered investment company and has been in existence only since the scam began in 1999, the court heard.

    The extracts themselves are unedited, i.e. the three paragraphs of the Guardian article are adjacent to each other as are the paragraphs from the SEC document. This is all obviously complicated by the fact that both the article and the SEC brief quote the same website, but that really only explains the direct quote about it being a large and prestigious company.

    It seems clear to me that the author of the Guardian article used the SEC document as the basis for this article, but even then I am not certain it is plagiarism. The document is clearly a primary source and not another newssource, but it stills seem dubious to use the wording and logical structure of that document without acknowledgment and direct quotes. The author of the Guardian article, by the way, was David Teather, with whom I'm not familiar.

    Nightly News

    I sometimes wonder about Brian Williams, Brokaw's impending replacement. I always found him amiable and funny on his many appearances on Conan, but over the last months some of his comments in interviews have raised my eyebrows a bit. The first I remember is after Reagan's death, when the networks began a two-week orgy of hagiographical coverage, and even some network anchors were admitting that the country had long since reached the Reagan saturation point. Williams was very vocal about how it certainly was appropriate to dedicate constant airtime for two weeks to the death of this man, and basically that there was nothing to apologize for.

    Williams was just on Leno and he made a peculiar jab at blue-staters that Leno sort of let slide with an "ooookay" and a change of subject. Talking about the need for red-staters and blue-staters to start a national conversation so as to end the polarization in our country, he added that some people just "can't understand why a family would send their son to Falluja to fight so hard". First of all, I don't think that disillusionment with the Iraq war is split down partisan lines, though if that were his only argument I would let it go. It seems to be a more general type of cheap shot at people on the left, i.e. that red-staters are up for fighting the good fight and that liberals are home biting their pillows. To put it another way, that liberals aren't even familiar with the concept of sacrifice for ideals. Make up your own mind by watching it here, and let me know what you think. This guy is about to become the anchor of the highest-rated news program in the country.

    Friday, November 19, 2004

    I Put My Faith in the Dollar Bill...

    I'm taking bets on how long till White House Spokesman Scott McLellan maintains that the administration has a strong-dollar policy.

    Two Weeks

    Nov. 2 - Theo Van Gogh murdered by Islamic fanatics in Amsterdam.

    Nov. 3 - Nov. 17 - More than 20 attacks and counterattacks involving mosques, other Muslim targets, and churches in the Netherlands. Poll reveals that 40% of Dutch hope that their Islamic countrymen no longer feel at home in the Netherlands.

    Nov. 17 - An Orthodox Jew is shot dead in Antwerp, Belgium . Still unknown if the attack was anti-Semitic.

    Nov. 17 - Spanish football fans hurl racist abuse at England's black footballers.

    The Third Way

    I came across this list of reasons for Democrats not to move to Canada and was pretty astounded at number seven:

    7. Say so long to the DLC. Barry Goldwater suffered a resounding defeat when he ran for president against Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but his campaign spawned a conservative movement that eventually gained control of the Republican Party and elected Ronald Reagan in 1980. Progressives should see the excitement surrounding Dean, Kucinich, Moseley Braun, and Sharpton during the primary season as the foundation for a similar takeover of the Democratic Party.

    Any Democrat who believes that Kerry's defeat means the end of the centrist element of the party is going to be sorely disappointed, and deserves to be disappointed. The Democrats were at their strongest under the Clinton/DLC mold and the party would do well to remember its own history. Not surprisingly, Clinton tells it best:

    America has two great dominant strands of political thought -- we're represented up here on this stage -- conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barrier that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place.

    It seemed to me that in 1992 we needed to do both to prepare America for the 21st century: to be more conservative in things like erasing the deficit and paying down the debt and preventing crime and punishing criminals and protecting and supporting families, and enforcing things like child support laws and reforming the military to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.

    And we needed to be more progressive in creating good jobs, reducing poverty, increasing the quality of public education, opening the doors of college to all, increasing access to health care, investing more in science and technology, and building new alliances with our former adversaries, and working for peace across the world and peace in America across all the lines that divide us.

    Now, when I proposed to do both, we said that all of them were consistent with the great American values of opportunity, responsibility and community. We labeled the approach "New Democrat." It then became known as the third way, as it was embraced by progressive parties across the world.

    Then go check out what New Donkey has to say about the false dichotomy of the Democrats having to either move to the right on the major social issues or cut our losses as far as appealing to voters who have been voting Republican.


    Has the debacle of Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress taught us nothing? Powell's claims about Iran developing nuclear missile capabilities were apparently based on a single "walk-in" source, and the information was not even meant to be shared with allies at this point, let alone the press. This begs some interesting questions about how a person can come in off the street with a handful of drawings, and a week later Powell is making bold claims about the country based solely on this. I don't doubt that Iran is the biggest threat of the region, but Powell seems intent on shredding his last bits of credibility.

    Thursday, November 18, 2004


    Just a quick note to say I think Andrew gets it wrong here . First off, what is his basis for saying that Clinton would never promote a black woman to such a position? Second, almost every piece on Condi has noted that she is the first black woman to fill the position, which may not be praise in itself but could nonetheless be construed as giving Bush credit. It is at least recognition of the fact. I'm not sure where he gets this idea that the left has ignored the fact that Bush has named women and minorities to his cabinet. Do we really need to heap praise on every such move Bush makes, when after all it is simply the natural and right thing to do, to provide equal opportunities?

    I think Sullivan is more even-handed than many of his critics on both sides give him credit for, but every once in a while he comes out with an outlandish attack on the left (think of his post-9/11 attacks on the "fifth column").

    Fsyo Normalna

    Because of publishing problems, there are a couple of posts below from yesterday that just went up now. I think everything is sorted now.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    The Powell Doctrine

    "I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud." I didn't think it was possible, but my dislike of Michael Powell just doubled. As FCC Chairman he has basically acted as an overpaid nanny for the country, believing it is his duty to impress his prudish values on us all in the condescending belief that we don't know any better. It's hard to convey how ridiculous the Janet Jackson incident seemed from a British viewpoint, when late-night TV in the UK is regularly more risque and yet still the British people haven't turned to pillars of salt.


    Just got back from a series of presentations wherein first-year PhD students had to give an overview of their intended research. Keep an eye on this guy, as one of his interests is the automatic detection of bias in news. Imagine how such an objective criterion of bias could change journalism. Rupert Murdoch would have to go back to peddling magazines out of his van (or whatever).

    The Election Isn't Over...

    ...in Washington. Rossi (R) leads Gregoire (D) in the race for Governor by only 19 votes, two weeks after election day. Actually, make that 18 votes, as my vote for Gregoire is a late-arriving overseas vote that probably hasn't been counted yet. We'll be seeing a recount no matter who stands in the lead by the end of today.


    As part of the GOP pro-crime agenda, House Republicans move to prevent leaders from having to step down if indicted in a felony . Was it worth it, Tom? Having increased the GOP majority in the House by a few seats, I suppose a couple ethical admonishments and an impending felony indicment are nothing really.

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    The Guardian and the US

    So I've read The Guardian pretty much daily for the last three years, since the first time that I moved to Europe, and I have to say that my disenchantment with the paper also grows daily. The things that I love about it are now pretty much restricted to the arts (esp. Alexis Petridis), Steve Bell, and some political commentary, but the actual journalism and editorial management of the paper can be infuriating. The obvious complaint, which is much-noted, is that the paper harbors strong anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment - blindly so. With the obvious exception of pop culture coverage, the number of stories that portray the US in a flattering light are neglible.

    I've picked up on something more disturbing about The Guardian's journalism in the last year or so, however. The correspondents in the US, especially Gary Younge, Julian Borger, and Suzanne Goldenberg, cover stories in the US with prose that is eerily similar to that which comes off the AP wires or from other American newssources, but without any acknowledgment of other news services in the byline. My first recognitions of this were very casual, just having a general feeling that the wording in a given story appearing in the Guardian was very reminiscent of the same story's coverage that appeared the previous day or so at CNN or the NY Times. I had that same recognition again today, and decided to pursue my hunch, with startling results.

    As some of you may know, the rapper O.D.B. died yesterday. First check out how the AP described his rap style, and then check Gary Younge's appraisal:

    With his unorthodox delivery - alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical - O.D.B. stood out even in the nine-man Clan, and as a solo artist he released hit singles such as "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Got Your Money."


    On stage ODB's performance was unorthodox - alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical - but in the studio he was productive, releasing hit singles such as Shimmy Shimmy Ya and Got Your Money and appearing on remixes with artists such as Mariah Carey.

    The byline is simple 'Gary Younge.' Unfortunately, this is the first piece of evidence I have bothered to collect after having such a recognition, but I'll be keeping an eye on the paper's US coverage.

    Not that I Will Avoid The Mariners Completely

    Well, it's less high-falutin' than ombudsman, and besides, I don't mean it in a solely media-critical sense. The title is ambiguous enough to suggest that I might be so ambitious as to edit the public. I guess we'll see. After writing a baseball blog for a while, I think that a wide-ranging, vague charter is just what I need.