Showing posts from November, 2006

the Associated Press is pro-victory

The Associated Press has faced considerable critique about its horrific story about six Shi'a men being burned alive by Sunnis in Baghdad. The critique hinges one the claim by the US military that the AP's source, a police captain Capt. Jamil Hussein, misrepresented himself. From a letter written by Lt. Michael Dean to the Associated Press: We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team. Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city's Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning. [...] Unless you have a credible sour

some drafts are worse than others

By now everyone has piled on to the draft idea floated by Sen. Rangel. To be honest, I don't think it's such a terrible idea. Not that I'd neccessarily support it, but I can see the merits. Israel, Switzerland, and numerous other countries have much the same thing. The thing is that there are indeed benefits to military training and there owuld be a net positive social impact. So it isn't an idea I would easily dismiss. Now, there's already one diary on the rec list about why the draft proposal is good politics, but let's actually talk about the draft in the context of policy instead. The problem with Rangel's proposal is that it's too comprehensive. There are about 8,000,000 people in the US of age between 18 21, and paying them their salaries alone would be a quarter of a trillion dollars a year. But it's a good starting point for a debate about what a draft can look like and what purpose it could serve. Let's first and foremost remember that

Whither Palestine?

Ali Eteraz has launched a new Scoop-based site for muslim bloggers - the "Dailykos of the Islamsphere", essentially. In my diary at that site, I have written an exclusive essay, a contemplation of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the outlines of what is required for lasting peace. Do drop by and take a look. And keep an eye on! This is one to watch.

debunking the climate change debunkers

George Monbiot takes on the widely acclaimed debunking of climate change by Christopher Monckton. Real Climate also weighs in .

Gates: the right man for the job?

Joe Katzman is flummoxed by the choice of Gates for Secretary of Defense. In a nutshell, his argument is that he is tainted by his previous roles during previous administrations. He concludes, Gates has shown that he's a capable man - but that doesn't make him the right man. but why not? His history in the 80s and early 90s are steeped in the realpolitik of the day but that was during the Cold War . nuff said. As far as today, Gates' major change will be to treat Iran and Syria as the rational actors they are. Classic Westphalianism. Neither Iran nor Syria are served by anarchy in Iraq, a breakup into three nation states (which would guarantee Turkey's meddling in their domain as well as a hostile Sunni state on their doorstep). In fact if anything stability in Iraq might well lead to more freedom in Iran and a weakening of the mullah's grip (economic prosperity is directly correlated with liberty. See Zakaria's "Future of Freedom"). And once we dangle

a defense of Al Gore, and initial '08 thoughts by Trippi

fantastic diary by NuevoLiberal in defense of Gore's liberal credentials, policy acumen, and general awesomeness (yeah I am biased ok?). Lots of links. A must-read. FWIW the conventional wisdom is that Gore will run in 08 despite his denials. Especially since Warner (the centrist) and Feingold (the progressive) have opted out. Joe Trippi has a piece in the WaPo about the frontrunners (written prior to Feingold's statement). Heres the items of particular interest to me: Front-runner: Hillary Rodham Clinton She has it all -- the ability to raise the money; a political team that's among the best, if not the best, in the party; a strong base of support; and an uncanny ability to avoid political mistakes. And I don't care what anyone says -- her husband is one of two rock stars in the Democratic Party and a huge asset. Ironically, the problem with Clinton's candidacy arises from her strength. Front-runners have something to lose, so they almost always run cautious, safe

Daily Kos: Bring Science Back to Congress: Restore the OTA!

An excellent proposal for a to-do item for the new Democratic majority: Daily restore the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment . Fixing all the ways in which the GOP majority damaged the apparatus and infrastructure of sound policy and governance is going to take a long time. But this would be a great start.

on Robert Gates as SecDef

Kos takes a swipe at Rummy's replacement. My comment: lets not spit in our own drinks. Bob Gates is actually on the Baker Hamilton commission, so that speaks well for a return to realism rather than neocon idealism. is there ANY govt official who isnt tainted in some way? Who would you prefer that a **republican** administration appoint to secdef? it sure aint gonna be gary hart. If there are no acceptable candidates then why even make this critique? Is it spite? "Gates was close to many figures" - so what? what does that even mean? Do we want "close to many figures" to be the new litmust test? Unless there was some evidence - and there may well be, for all I know - that Gates was directly involved in some illegal conspiracy then we shoudlnt be so eager to tar and feather. I for one woudl rather praise the admin for doing sommething right with respect to the war than piling on no matter what. We stiull have our troops in the theater over there. If Gates as secd

pragmatic liberal interventionism

Excellent article by Blake at TAP Online. Recently here on TAP Online, Shadi Hamid and Spencer Ackerman debated what should serve as the lodestar of a progressive foreign policy vision. Hamid argued that the United States should make the promotion of democracy the centerpiece of its foreign policy, while Ackerman advocated that human rights take that role. Such questions will very likely become more relevant after Tuesday, if Democrats gain more power in Congress. But neither Hamid nor Ackerman offered the correct answer. As the small example of Vietnam helps to illustrate, the United States ought to be redirecting its energies toward renewing its strength and expanding the postwar liberal world order. Do that, and the rest -- democracy, human rights, liberal reforms -- will eventually follow. I think however that he relies too much on the example of Acheson - as I note in a comment over at AF , there are a lot of other prominent people - including Gore, Fukuyama, Hart, and even Zakar

looking (far) east

I've grown supremely tired of the dominance of the middle east, terrorism, and endless civilizational existenialist angst. When I have to deal with middle east issues, for example in defending my rights and identity as a muslim and an American, I will continue to do so at City of Brass . But being doomed to repeat history - deja vu, ad infinitum - seems to be the defining characteristic of the Holy Land. And I'd rather be a smart consumer of noise-filtered yet ideologically broad opinion about the middle east than aspire to pundit status. Blogs like Belgravia Dispatch , American Footprints , and Abu Aardvark pretty much cover the bases on that score. What's more interesting to me is the power dynamic between China and Japan, frankly. On a trip to Kyoto in 2004 for a conference, I became better acquainted with Japanese culture as it truly exists, in defiance of the mass media stereotype. A full day wandering Tokyo left me genuinely and permanently receptive . And China fig

Beyond the Condottieri

In relation to religious conservatives, a commenter (who also reads my other blog ) offers: Amen brother. We have to fight them legally now, or we will be fighting them in the Second American Revolution when we have to try to restore the Constitution. I responded with a laugh and a quip. My friends are all secular liberals, and I always laugh at them when they use charged rhetoric, because the reality is that they weren't born fighting and they haven't learned fighting. The reality is that many elite liberals, those for whom college is a right of passage and not a privilege, there is normative contempt for soldiers and their lumpen culture. There is an aversion to violence as a solution to any problem, a culture which does not address or face the reality that not all conflicts are amenable to rational compromise. The reality is that the United States officer corps is now solidly Republican in orientation (last I heard it was around 4/5). In the citizenry the ownership o

John Kerry and the Wisdom of the Crowd

It is generally said that there is wisdom is crowds. And this is often the case. However in election season those crowds turn into mobs and the wisdom disappears. This latest Kerry flap is just the latest example of this. The majority of the conservative blogosphere is roiling with righteous indignation about Kerry, hoping that this is their "October surprise". (Fortunately, a few of my favorites including James Lileks , Rod Dreher , and La Shawn Barber are not drinking the Kool-Aid). After hearing many conservatives scream for years about wanting to campaign on the issue, it is disheartening to see so many jumping on the bandwagon of a non-issue. I suppose what keeps me from being a cynic is being willing to assume the best of people, not the worst. Some might think that this goes against my Christian theology (original sin and all that) but it doesn't. While we are all certainly flawed and make mistakes on a daily basis, we are also made in the image of God (memo to m

political filtering

Frank Schaeffer is a highly-respected conservative columnist for the Dallas Morning News. In his own words, he's "a Christian, a writer, a military parent and a registered Republican." He has now decided to leave the GOP : I was disgusted by an e-mail I just received that's being circulated by campaign supporters of Republican George Allen, who's trying to retain his Senate seat in Virginia. The message goes like this: "First, it was the Catholic priests, then it was Mark Foley, and now Jim Webb, whose sleazy novels discuss sex between very young teenagers. ... Hmmm, sounds like a perverted pedophile to me! Pass the word that we do not need any more pedophiles in office."Democrat James Webb is a war hero and former Marine, wounded in Vietnam and winner of the Navy Cross. He was writing about class and military issues long before me and has articulated the issue of how the elites have dropped the ball on military service in his classic novel Fields of Fir

advice to John Cole

John Cole really bares his soul in a lamentation about the state of the Republican Party. His party loyalist bonafides are sterling, yet he feels profoundly betrayed. And in his summary of his feelings about where his party has gone, he says something very familiar to me, indeed: And it makes me mad. I still think of myself as a Republican- but I think the whole party has been hijacked by frauds and religionists and crooks and liars and corporate shills, and it frustrates me to no end to see my former friends enabling them, and I wonder ‘Why can’t they see what I see?” I don’t think I am crazy, I don’t think my beliefs have changed radically, and I don’t think I have been (as suggested by others) brainwashed by my commentariat. Now, the analogy to extremist Islam simply leaps off the page here. And where I would take issue with John, in defense of his party, is the same way I defend Islam: by noting that there is actually very little evidence (and in fact plenty of counter-evidence) t