Showing posts from May, 2007

human rights are not zero sum

Consider that it is nearly impossible to "compare" atrocities. How can any meaningful comparison be made between the horrific human rights violations under Saddam's rule and the ongoing violations under the grip of anarchy and civil war? And yet, partisans of various stripes - for example, anti-war leftists or pro-war apologists - routinely seize upon one or the other to make their point that somehow, one state of afffairs was "better" and another "worse". What is even more disturbing is how perfectly legitimate and morally actionable facts get pushed to one side in favor of sexier propaganda. For example, during the Persian Gulf war, there were plenty of examples of brutality by the invading Iraqi forces; I know, because members of my own Dawoodi BOhra community in Kuwait bore witness to them. However, that "mundane" brutality was apparently not convincing enough. And so we heard the tales of Iraqi soldiers taking hundreds of babies out of

The American Moment

Below the fold is the full transcript of Barack Obama's speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, on April 23, 2007. This speech turned noted neoconservative and PNAC founder Robert Kagan into an Obama supporter . It's worth noting though that Obama's views on American foreign power and military force are much more in line with those of Al Gore rather than George Bush . Hilzoy also had some thoughts on Obama's foreign policy pronouncements that are worth reading for additional context. Without further ado, the speech:   Good morning. We all know that these are not the best of times for America’s reputation in the world. We know what the war in Iraq has cost us in lives and treasure, in influence and respect. We have seen the consequences of a foreign policy based on a flawed ideology, and a belief that tough talk can replace real strength and vision. Many around the world are disappointed with our actions. And many in our own country have come to doubt eithe

The Project for Middle East Democracy

Interesting website devoted to liberalizing the middle east: The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how America can best support that process. While there are numerous advocacy groups influencing American policy toward the Middle East, few have consistently and credibly called for the U.S. to support genuine, authentic democratic reform in the region. Democracy is both a moral imperative and a fundamental concern for American national security. While President Bush's rhetoric shifted dramatically to support a "forward strategy of freedom," the government's actual policies toward reform remain largely unchanged. This has too often meant turning a blind eye toward the repressive acts of friendly autocrats while using 'democracy' as a weapon to threaten our enemies. Democracy should not be so frequently subordinated to other interests that speak with greater power or contri

the long tail

at myDD, Chris Bowers talks about blogads as ameans for supporting progressive blogs. However, hos solution - that campaigns buy blogads on the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, is a self-limiting one. Anyone familiar with a Zipfian distribution can attest to the fact that there are as many eyeballs in the long tail of the progressive blogsphere as there are in the top tiers. One problem with the Liberal Blogads Advertising Network is that (given the minimum traffic requirements) it is heavily biased towards that top tier - which means that up to 50% of all progressive blog reader eyeballs are being ignored. Granted there is substantial overlap, but a small blog with a handful of ads is essentially sharing more of its real-estate with Blogads than Dailykos is. The advantage of the big blogs is that the sheer volume of hits means that even with very low click through percentages, the number of clicks in absolute terms is high. However, I theorize that a Small Liberal Blog Ad Network wou

My Foreign Policy Interview with Bill Richardson

[Posted at ProgressiveHistorians , Daily Kos , My Left Wing , MyDD , Never In Our Names , European Tribune , Eteraz , and Nation-Building .] New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson is one of America's leading foreign policy experts.  A former Ambassador to the United Nations, Richardson holds an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.  Richardson is also perhaps America's leading diplomatic negotiator, having recently brokered successful agreements in both Darfur and North Korea.  Whether or not Richardson is elected President in 2008, he is certain to be one of the most influential foreign policy advisors in any Democratic administration.  Therefore, it is important to ascertain just where Richardson stands on the foreign policy issues most important to progressive activists. After reading my January diary about Bill Richardson and the need for a visionary foreign policy, a Richardson for President staffer con

Fred Thompson

Noam Scheiber deconstructs "Phony" Fred Thompson 's Fake Populism. By the time Fred Thompson decides whether or not to join the presidential fray, you will have heard the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times. The truck in question is a 1990 Chevy, which the famed statesman-thespian rented during his maiden Senate campaign in 1994. The idea was that Thompson would dress up in blue jeans and shabby boots and drive himself to campaign events around the state. Upon arriving, he'd mount the bed of the truck and launch into a homespun riff on the virtues of citizen-legislators and the perils of Washington insider-ism. For good measure, he'd refer to himself in the third person as "Ol' Fred" and the Chevy as "this ol' baby." It's all about the packaging.