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  • Archive for May, 2005

    Life on the Horizontal – Wednesday

    Posted by Ginny on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Terry Teachout describes the losses and the gains of community as our culture becomes more fragmented. Certainly blogs both contribute to and subtract from the sense of community.

    Thoreau believed: “Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly. What is a house but a sedes, a seat? — better if a country seat. I discovered many a site for a house not likely to be soon improved, which some might have thought too far from the village, but to my eyes the village was too far from it.” Of course, if we have a common culture, we can understand his allusion – that some “might have thought too far from the village”-but he is reminding us that we don’t necessarily have the same perspective, for some of us “the village was too far from it.”

    The blogosphere lets us move us along the horizontal, popping in some one else’s world, our horizons change, broaden. We remain us, but come back to our own center with more sense of other’s. Belmont Club’s allusions are often to Kipling; this may surprise twenty-first century Americans, but they check it daily. Few probably read Kipling in school (only Matthew Arnold is a deader or whiter male). But the Belmont Club (and the poets quoted) touch us. Wretchard, confident and sure of his own perspective, helps us see the world with his proportionality; it may differ from ours in some important ways but for many of us, much of what he says rings true. He writes well but we sense he also understands well.

    What we find as we look around the blogosphere are fragments – this blog or that blog seems far from our way of looking at the world. And, indeed, we are unlikely to visit often. But we often see solutions, as well, to our most vexing problems.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging | 4 Comments »

    Any Publicity is Good Publicity

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    As a side note to the post below, it seems that Strategypage.com is reporting that China is developing ways to control access to the Internet. (Post from May 19, 2005.) Not only are they trying to control access, but they’re also trying to influence content by hiring bloggers to push the party line. One can only speculate that the Chinese are also developing a database of Western pundits that bear watching.

    This report seems to be true, and I found evidence for it right on the Strategypage.com server. Here’s a discussion post written by a Chinese blogger that extols the prowess of the PLA. He does this by stating that the Communist Chinese have decisively won every single conflict that they’ve taken part in.

    I wonder if The Chicago Boyz will ever come to the attention of Chinese shills. If they do I hope they get it right. It’s “Rummel” with one “L”.

    Posted in China | 3 Comments »

    Not Really the China Century

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    One of the biggest problems when dealing with a closed police state is figuring out what’s really going on in there. The intelligence game isn’t a science, and it’s prone to errors. This is an important point that just about everyone forgets.

    Case in point is this post at Strategypage.com. (Post from May 25, 2005.) The post points out that it’s difficult to figure out just how much China is spending on defense, or how effective the stuff they’re buying really is.

    This is something that I’ve pointed out before. China is certainly increasing its military spending, and most people would agree that they now have the 2nd largest defense budget on the planet. But what’s really confusing is whether or not this means that their conventional forces are going to be a credible threat anytime soon.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think so. It seems that most of their increased budget is going towards modernizing their weapons systems, like their warships and fighter planes. This is troubling until one realizes that all those upgrades simply allow a portion of the Chinese fleet and air forces to operate on rough parity with the West’s 2nd tier equipment, and not the top-of-the-line stuff. When the next generation of weapons are deployed, like the F-22, then China will have to run even harder to try and catch up.

    This doesn’t mean that they aren’t a problem, or that they can’t do a great deal of damage. But I think that the danger is rather overstated.

    Posted in China | 7 Comments »

    France Will Likely Reject the EU Constitution

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Take a look at the top item on our Intrade quote board, on the lower left margin of this page. (We are an Intrade affiliate.) With just a few days to go, it appears that French voters will decisively reject the EU Constitution. It wouldn’t surprise me.

    Lex and I went back and forth on this topic in email. I said, essentially: the sooner the EU fails the better for everyone. Lex responded:

    Right. The EU as a free trade zone makes sense. As a single political entity it makes no sense. They need to rethink what they really want and need to do collectively. This current proposed “Constitution” is a farce. Look at it.

    Here [pdf file]

    It’s an atrocity. It is over 200 pages long. That is not a Constitution. That is not even a statute. It is a regulatory code. It is too long even for that. Lunacy.

    Here is a real Constitution.

    About 18 pages.

    Right.

    Posted in Europe | 5 Comments »

    Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith

    Posted by Lexington Green on 24th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Have you heard of this man? I had not either, until today.

    Have you heard of Michael Jackson, a washed-up freak and likely pederast? Oh, you have? You have probably also heard about some lady who ran away from her own wedding, and other trivial people. What strange priorities our news media have.

    Have you heard that the United States is engaged in a war? Have you heard that its soldiers are fighting with skill, courage and humanity against a vicious enemy whose sole strategy is the slaughter of civilians? Have you heard that American soldiers destroyed the regime of a dictator named Saddam Hussein, a man of the darkest, filthiest evil? Perhaps you have heard that Mr. Hussein was photographed in his underwear recently. His tens of thousands of victims were often gassed or shot in the back of the head or tortured to death, but I have not heard that they were photographed in their t-shirts. But, you have probably heard about this, too.

    But you have not heard of Paul R. Smith. Not on CNN, or NPR, or the New York Times — and certainly not over and over and over again.

    Sergeant First Class Smith is the first and onlyMedal of Honor recipient in this war, so far. He died on 4 April 2003. His sixteen men were attacked by over 100 Iraqi troops. On that day he

    … braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.

    Much more detail here. Smith not only died heroically, but lived and led with intense professionalism. He trained his men hard, caring only for their lives and not whether he was popular. His life was an example self-sacrificing leadership which everyone in America should know about.

    The news media would prefer to treat such men and their lives and sacrifices as “not news” — or as mere numbers in a body count which can be publicized to defeat the cause they died for.

    To them, a lie about a Koran in a toilet is news.

    A Medal of Honor for a heroic American soldier, husband and father, leader and warrior, is not news.

    What is important is not what is reported in the MSM. What is reported is not all the news there is. Seek it out. Be aware. The Internet has destroyed their monopoly.

    Never trust these people. They lie by commission, and even worse by omission. What they choose not to talk about is where the real news is.

    UPDATE: My liberal wife left a comment so snarky I deleted it. The gist of it was a jeering questions “Have you heard of Pat Tillman”? And saying that since the Army lied about how he died for all we know they are lying about this guy, too, so the news media is right to not trust the Army and to disregard this story. Of course, we have all heard of Tillman. And, of course, the news media was overjoyed when he was killed by accident by so-called friendly fire. A great story, the kind they like. I imagine there were high-fives around the newsrooms worldwide when he was killed. Then, yes, the Army in its usual instinctively dishonest fashion, lied about it and was immediately caught. More high-fives all around for the media, and a few good laughs. But the process for approving a Congressional Medal of Honor requires interviews and witnesses, etc. So, there is no comparison. The facts surrounding Smith’s death were confirmed by numerous eye-witnesses. And, anyway, she proves my point. We have all heard of Tillman, since it is a story of death and failure and squandered idealism and incompetence and disgrace. That is the only kind of story we are going to hear in the MSM. There are others. But you have to dig to find them.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    Bush Doctrine Creates More Bush Country

    Posted by demimasque on 24th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Fouad Ajami, one of my favorite Middle East writers, reports on the impressions he got from his recent trips to the Middle east:

    To venture into the Arab world, as I did recently over four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, is to travel into Bush Country. I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice. The speed with which Syria quit Lebanon was astonishing, a race to the border to forestall an American strike that the regime could not discount. I met Syrians in the know who admitted that the fear of American power, and the example of American forces flushing Saddam Hussein out of his spider hole, now drive Syrian policy. They hang on George Bush’s words in Damascus, I was told: the rulers wondering if Iraq was a crystal ball in which they could glimpse their future.

    The weight of American power, historically on the side of the dominant order, now drives this new quest among the Arabs. For decades, the intellectual classes in the Arab world bemoaned the indifference of American power to the cause of their liberty. Now a conservative American president had come bearing the gift of Wilsonian redemption. For a quarter century the Pax Americana had sustained the autocracy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: He had posed as America’s man on the Nile, a bulwark against the Islamists. He was sly and cunning, running afoul of our purposes in Iraq and over Israeli-Palestinian matters. He had nurtured a culture of antimodernism and anti-Americanism, and had gotten away with it. Now the wind from Washington brought tidings: America had wearied of Mr. Mubarak, and was willing to bet on an open political process, with all its attendant risks and possibilities. The brave oppositional movement in Cairo that stepped forth under the banner of Kifaya (“Enough!”) wanted the end of his reign: It had had enough of his mediocrity, enough of the despotism of an aging officer who had risen out of the military bureaucracy to entertain dynastic dreams of succession for his son. Egyptians challenging the quiescence of an old land may have had no kind words to say about America in the past. But they were sure that the play between them and the regime was unfolding under Mr. Bush’s eyes.

    Indeed, this is a spectacular meeting in time. The fact is that people everywhere want some same basic things, summed up by the Virginian Renaissance Man, Thomas Jefferson, thus: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As the world has modernized, the list of demands has grown, but the same basic rights underlie all. Thus, given an opportunity, the people will act.

    Unfortunately, American power hasn’t always been on the right side. For this, America is understanbly excoriated and suspected. But it is curious (though not to true liberals) that anti-Americanism is strongest in relatively peaceful societies that are yet repressed by nominal allies of the United Sates (e.g., Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia), and yet not quite as strong among the people abandoned by America when they sought to answer her bright call (the Shiites of Iraq).

    This time, though, America might just be on the right side, and, at the very least, her intentions seem true and sincere. A glaring exception thus far, however, is in Uzbekistan. But that will not stop Lebanese activists from pursuing their own opportunity to try the democratic experiment, especially as America keeps an eye on, and continues to pressure, Syria.

    Mr. Ajami even draws the obvious correlation with Europe at the end of the Cold War:

    As I made my way on this Arab journey, I picked up a meditation that Massimo d’Azeglio, a Piedmontese aristocrat who embraced that “springtime” in Europe, offered about his time, which speaks so directly to this Arab time: “The gift of liberty is like that of a horse, handsome, strong, and high-spirited. In some it arouses a wish to ride; in many others, on the contrary, it increases the desire to walk.” It would be fair to say that there are many Arabs today keen to walk–frightened as they are by the prospect of the Islamists coming to power and curtailing personal liberties, snuffing out freedoms gained at such great effort and pain. But more Arabs, I hazard to guess, now have the wish to ride. It is a powerful temptation that George W. Bush has brought to their doorstep.

    Read the whole thing, and thank goodness for writers like Mr. Ajami!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in International Affairs | Comments Off on Bush Doctrine Creates More Bush Country

    Spoken Like a True Liberal

    Posted by demimasque on 24th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Keith Thompson, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the story of yet another disaffected liberal finding some common cause with Bush voters:

    I’m leaving the left — more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

    I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives — people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere — reciting all the ways Iraq’s democratic experiment might yet implode.

    More devastatingly for the Left (and in perfect keeping with Mike Jericho’s observation about the Left’s resemblance to Nazis), Keith notes the corruption of individual identity under the aegis of the Left’s elites:

    True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left’s entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

    Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals — people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense — is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

    I wonder if Keith has gotten any death threats yet. Still, it’s a bold step in the right direction.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Political Philosophy | 7 Comments »

    Life on the Horizontal (Monday)

    Posted by Ginny on 24th May 2005 (All posts by )

    The new Commentary includes Terry Teachout’s “Culture in the Age of Blogging” (June, pp. 39-48). (Commentary now only links to its May issue). Teachout’s audience is not regular blog readers: he defines blogging and its genres, gives a short history and cites examples. His style, in blog fashion, is more personal as are his examples. He describes About Last Night and other culture blogs, including a Chicagoboyz favorite, Two Blowhards . The essay notes various URLs, rare in print.

    Teachout discusses the paradox of blogging – community lost & gained. In typical Commentary/New Criterion style, he laments the loss of a “common culture.” He observes that

    The simplest description of this change is also the starkest one: the common culture of widely shared values and knowledge that once helped to unite Americans of all creeds, colors, and classes no longer exists. In its place, we now have a “balkanized” group of subcultures whose members pursue their separate, unshared interests in an unprecedented variety of ways. (40)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging | 6 Comments »

    Market Response

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 23rd May 2005 (All posts by )

    USA Today reports that college students have responded to massive technology sector layoffs by studying something besides Computer Science. This apparently comes as a surprise to the author, but not to the Chicago Boyz.

    The article also points out that while the low-level tech jobs have been sent offshore to India, there is still a need for experienced people with both technology and business skills (business systems analysts, project leaders, etc.). The problem, which the author misses, is that the offshored jobs used to be the entry points into technology careers. Most of the accomplished techies I’ve met have spent time on the help desk, doing network maintenance, testing software, grinding out code, or doing some other necessary but “low-level” jobs. With these jobs scarce, there is no chance of getting the experience that the market wants. The pipeline is cut off.

    We all know that HR’s ideal candidate is 22 years old with 15 years of industry experience. Good luck finding one.

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 11 Comments »

    Newsweek Duplicity

    Posted by demimasque on 22nd May 2005 (All posts by )

    Most Americans are already aware that Newsweek is a resolutely anti-Republican sensationalist outfit. In keeping with most such publications, the editors consistenly slap together “high brow” (read elitist) fare, at once feeding the readership scraps of tabloid journalism while its opinion pages consistently mocks the same demographic. None of this is news, as anyone who reads the rag on a consistent basis can attest.

    What is less clear, perhaps, is just how vicious its overseas editions get. Its Japanese edition, for example, excoriates America (and not just the red states), featuring a picture of American flags in trash cans. And yet, the contemporaneous edition in the US features a picture of President Bush, with only the blurb “America Leads … But Is Anyone Following?” as the only indication of its slant. Again, the cynical give Red Staters their pretty pictures, and Blue Staters their liberal [read Leftist] text, because we all know Red Staters are illiterate anyway ploy to try to shore up its dwindling reader base.

    Gaijinbiker at Riding Sun provides more examples.

    Even before this, I’d been considering cutting Newsweek out of my reading list. After the Koran-flushing debacle, I decided that I’ll get my readings of George Will from the Washington Post instead.

    (Via: Instapundit)

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Anti-Americanism | 12 Comments »

    Lisa, the Post-Modernist Simpson

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st May 2005 (All posts by )

    I think that cartoon characters are very revealing of broad cultural values because they are only crude sketches of real people. To be funny they have to represent characteristics which the broad cultural audience will recognize. I think this is especially true when the portrayal of the characteristics appears as an unconsciousness inclusion on the part of the writers.

    On the Simpsons, each character represents a certain subculture or subtype within American society. Ned Flanders represents the deeply religious, comic book guy the obsessive nerd, professor Fink the science geek, etc. Lisa Simpson represents the leftist. She’s a vegetarian, a Buddhist, an environmental activist, anti-gun, anti-nuke etc. Especially in the early episodes, her most common role is that of the unheeded voice of reason. Other people ignore Lisa’s sage advice and come to some bad end. Those Simpsons episodes become something like Aesop’s parables for leftists.

    I find one recurring theme extremely telling of the zeitgeist of the contemporary Left that has broad implications in many areas from Law to Science.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 21st May 2005 (All posts by )

    C-Span 1. Book TV. Book TV Schedule. After Words and Q&A.

    Lamb Q[uestions] & Josh Bolton A[nswers]; he is White House Budget Director. On C-Span 1, this interview airs 8:00 and 11:00 Sunday.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Still Doing Damage

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th May 2005 (All posts by )

    It’s been a good so far as finding things that I want to post about. Case in point is this news story. It seems that doctors have long advised women suffering from otosclerosis, a degenerative disease that causes hearing loss, to avoid becoming pregnant. It seems that pregnancy would heighten the risk of increased hearing loss, and might even lead to complete deafness.

    But it seems that this is simply not true. A doctor from Ohio not only conducted a study to disprove the notion, but he also researched the literature and found that the original source for this belief was a 1939 seminar conducted by German doctors. The Nazis used the idea to promote racial purity.

    What caused our perceptive physician to question prevailing medical opinion? He started a teaching job in a foreign country, and he noticed that women there with the disease who had given birth to many children didn’t seem to suffer any greater hearing loss than those with few children. That foreign country was Israel.

    Trust the Israelis to distrust advice given by a Nazi doctor.

    Posted in History | 1 Comment »

    Just Some Housecleaning

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Blog goddess Natalie Solent posted a few comments at this post. One of the things she said was…

    Hooray! I have finally posted a comment at Chicagoboyz. Every previous attempt has been met by an automated message saying my harmless opinions were liable to deprave and corrupt.

    People have informed me that they’ve had problems like this in the past. The Boyz, like all blogs, is the target of spambot attacks just about every day. Our MT Blacklist will screen out the offending URL’s, but sometimes they contain words that crop up in the comment that someone is trying to leave. This results in your inoffensive comment being deemed offensive and blocked from the site.

    Our policy has been to welcome any comment as long as it doesn’t contain profanity and it’s not simply an ad hominem attack. If there’s a problem then please send me an Email that includes a description of the problem, the URL or title of the post where you want to leave the comment, and the comment as you want it to appear. I’ll see what I can do to make sure that you are included in the debate.

    My Email address is james_43202 AT yahoo.com.

    Posted in Blogging | 4 Comments »

    Divergent Views

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th May 2005 (All posts by )

    It’s no secret that I’d like to see a more vibrant and dynamic Europe. That probably won’t happen in my lifetime, though. The path that most European countries have chosen leads to gradual insignificance rather than any revitalized role on the world stage.

    I was idly reading this news item, which details the debate in France over the coming vote to ratify the EU Constitution, when I was struck dumb by a few paragraphs which outline the position of those opposed to ratification.

    Like Chirac, “no” campaigners on the left have been using the United States as a foil, saying the treaty will open the door to American-style free-market capitalism rather than defend against it. They say jobs will be sucked eastward where labor is cheaper; public services will be privatized; France will be forced by EU competition laws to stop funding public firms and workers’ social protections will be trampled. They say a “no” vote will rescue rather than doom Europe.

    So that’s what the French are afraid of, basically free market reforms that will increase competition. Nothing new there, but what was so shocking to me was that this is the stance taken by Le Pen, a French politician that is characterized as being “far right” by the press.

    If this is the state of French political thought then I doubt they’ll be able to turn things around no matter how the ratification vote goes.

    Posted in France | 8 Comments »

    Respect is a Two-Way Street

    Posted by demimasque on 20th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Unfortunately, the old human habit of equating fear and intimidation with respect does not easily die. We see this every day in power relations. China doesn’t feel respected by the US, so it bullies Taiwan. France doesn’t feel respected by the US, so it bullies Germany. Islam doesn’t feel respected by non-Muslims; so radicals try to intimidate infidels and apostates. Think this is fantasy? Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Saudi Institute in Washington, sets the record straight, at least with regard to the dismal situation in Saudi Arabia:

    Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect.

    The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department’s annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)

    As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others’ holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored.

    The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

    Indeed, good faith is the best way to peace and harmony. Each faith can be cordial and respectful of others without betraying its own teachings. Indeed, the late Pope John Paul II showed the world that this was indeed possible. There’s already too much for human beings to quarrel over.

    Just one other thing: The West has alrady made several overtures to Islam. It is time for Islam to reciprocate, or at least resolve the problem of those who advocate war. Why? Because, Old Europe notwithstanding, the West has the balls to back it up, so if it must be the hard road, rest assured that the West is ready to rumble.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Religion | 4 Comments »

    Republicans Getting Complacent

    Posted by demimasque on 20th May 2005 (All posts by )

    John Cole, a life-long Republican, is dismayed by the creeping abandonment by the GOP of some of its more reputed principles. So much so, in fact, that he’s produced a checklist of abandoned principles. (Hat-tip: Instapundit)

    Color me unsurprised. This is what happens when any party stays in power too long. It’s long been a fact of life here in California; it was true during the Gilded Age; and it was true from the time of FDR through to the end of the LBJ Administration. Then again, this is part and parcel of most political systems, including China’s dynastic cycles. It’s just that in the age of instantaneous communications and 24-hour news, these cycles get shorter and shorter.

    Still, the Democrats shouldn’t get complacent and expect victory to be handed to them on a silver platter. They can still majorly botch things up for themselves, as they did in three general elections in a row (2000, 2002, 2004).

    The 2006 elections should give us a clearer idea of what’s ahead. Expect to see the Republican schism exposed a little more, and expect Senator Clinton to attempt to rally the national Democrats to a point somewhat closer to the center, but still recognizably left thereof. That’ll be the campaigning. If the Republicans botch it, expect to see logjam continue. If the Democrats botch it, watch for a Republican split come in 2008, and if the Democrats aren’t completely down and out, they should be able to exploit that for a win.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Politics | 11 Comments »

    It Will Never Pass

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th May 2005 (All posts by )

    According to this news item, the House International Relations Committee has drafted a bill that will require sweeping reforms at the United Nations. If they don’t comply then the United States will withhold up to 50% of its yearly dues.

    The United Nations is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. The organization relies on member states paying yearly dues in order to remain solvent, but in recent years many governments have cut back on the amount of money they pay. Private donations are also falling off mainly because people are finally waking up to the fact that the organization is completely inefficient and wasteful, if not downright inept and corrupt. Their handling of the tsunami crises, as well as their attempts to steal credit for the good works of others, certainly didn’t help matters any.

    So far as the HIRC is concerned, it has been one of the driving forces in the United States government to bring accountability to the UN. It’s a thankless job, but someone should have done it long ago. Making future dues payments conditional on reforms is brilliant, and it hits the UN where it hurts.

    But I think the bill is doomed to failure, even though I think it’s a good idea and wouldn’t mind seeing it in place. There are two reasons for this.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in United Nations | 7 Comments »

    Art vs. the Art Business

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Here’s a fascinating NYT article about a brilliant photographer who worked alone for forty years before showing anyone his work. Now he has shown other people his work and it is receiving the attention that it deserves. That’s great. Mr. Stochl (the photographer) as well as the photography teachers, curators and gallery owners who are promoting him deserve credit.

    But I was struck by this quote in the NYT article from a museum director whose views are consistent with a way of seeing art that I don’t find appealing:

    Yet other observers have not been so quick to praise Mr. Stochl. “Keep in mind we wish him well,” said Rod Slemmons, director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago. “But if he’s just as good as Robert Frank, or someone like that, we’d rather spend our money on Robert Frank.”

    He added: “If somebody came to the Art Institute with a bunch of paintings that looked just like – or were just as good as – the Franz Kline paintings of the 1950’s, in the heyday of his work, do you think the Art Institute would buy them or show them? What would be the point?”

    Not that Mr. Slemmons dislikes the work of a previously unknown artist, it’s just that he prefers to invest in blue chips rather than take a flyer on a risky biotech stock. This is not an unreasonable attitude for someone whose job is to buy product with an institution’s money, but it seems at odds with the appreciation of art for its own sake. It brings up the old question about whether a high-quality reproduction of a great art work is as good as the original. I think it is, aesthetically speaking, and that’s all I care about. But from the standpoint of business the original has more value, and maybe there will always be tension between aesthetic and business values here. And of course consumers buy art for all sorts of reasons. This is all just as well, because you need the business people to promote the art and the buyers to maintain a market in it. But it’s also wise to know what matters to you before you accept someone else’s evaluation of a particular work.

    (via photo.net)

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 1 Comment »

    Umpire Greg

    Posted by demimasque on 19th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Gregory Djeredjian attempts to play umpire between Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds, and comes off rather well for it. And he brings up a point that folks dismayed by Andrew’s recent writings would do well to bear in mind:

    (Oh, please spare me the comments about how no one got decapitated at Abu Ghraib just for being Christian. And that Abu Ghraib was worse (so much, dude!) when under Saddam’s stewardship. And that we treat ‘their’ Holy Book better than they’d ever treat ‘ours’. And so on. We are better than our heinous, barbaric enemy; and so must have hugely higher standards).

    Greg’s comments remind me of an e-mail I once sent to Andrew:

    I believe that the vast majority of American service personnel are good people, as are most of their officers. But all it takes is one bad apple to ruin the bushel, and I don’t mean this in the sense that they ruin our image. Much more than that, Andrew. What I mean is, if they are seen as getting away with inhumane treatment of prisoners, what’s to stop another group of soldiers who were already leaning that way from giving into the temptation of sadism?

    So while Gonzales may be correct on a technical level, it remains to be seen whether or not this sort of behavior is what we want the world to see. I don’t doubt that most other great powers would be harder pressed to be better than us. But as my brother takes pains to remind me, we are America, we can be better than everyone else, and so we should be.

    Well, I guess it just goes to show that even the non-Kos/DU side of the blogosphere is not immune to the dynamics of a community. While it may cause short-term consternation, it is a healthy sign of the vitality of the community, as long as nobody’s going to become archenemies. And, most of all, it speaks well of both men’s statures that so gifted a blogger as Greg would attempt to mediate.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Terrorism | 4 Comments »

    Business-Model Haiku

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Pricey vitamins
    Five hundred in a bottle
    Take 6 tabs daily

    Latest digicam
    But obsolete in a year!
    Don’t bitch, it’s progress

    Targeted web ads
    Offer Hamas books to Jews
    Algorithm needs work

    Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

    Gee, You Think?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 19th May 2005 (All posts by )

    The Council on Foreign Relations has sponsored a new report. It seems that most college educated people in Egypt, Morocco and Indonesia have a great deal of hostility towards the United States. The headlines of the news stories about the report say “Muslim World Largely Anti-American”.

    The report goes on to say pretty much what one would expect. The people surveyed rejected the US reasons for the Iraq invasion, voiced strong anti-Semitic stereotypes, and were either unaware of the aid that the United States has provided to the Muslim world or underestimated it by at least two orders of magnitude.

    CoFR says that these attitudes can be changed by long term diligence. America has to listen, draw attention to the good works that we perform, and assume a “humbler tone”. They also say that we have to tolerate disagreement on key security issues.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Middle East | 5 Comments »

    More on China

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th May 2005 (All posts by )

    I updated my China post with a couple of three new links that expand the scope of discussion significantly.

    Posted in China | Comments Off on More on China

    Societal Trends

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Bloggers organize spontaneously on an electronic network.

    Posted in Humor | 2 Comments »

    Where Is Our Next Faulkner?

    Posted by Ginny on 18th May 2005 (All posts by )

    One cannot tell the story of our nation without also telling the story of our wars. And these often harrowing tales are best told by the men and women who lived them. Today’s American military is the best trained and best educated in our nation’s history. These men and women offer unique and important voices that enlarge our understanding of the American experience. Looking at the great literary legacy of soldier writers from antiquity to the present, I cannot help but expect that important new writers will emerge from the ranks of our latest veterans. Dana Gioia, chair NEA

    Gioia is describing “high seriousness”; great art brings laughter, even belly laughter, but is, in the end, highly serious about the nature of man.

    I�ve never liked modern poetry much, but a survey course in the second half of American lit has to spend time on Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens. It may look at Williams and Pound. The �has to� probably signals my age and the fact that I spent the eighties and into the nineties ignoring lit crit. So be warned, this is an amateur at work. Still, I do believe it �has to�, so I�ve been trying to come to terms with them and only intermittently succeeding. Soon, however, I noticed how central to modernism was the break with tradition of World War I: Frost returned as the war started, with his first books at the critic�s; Eliot stuck in England came to feel at home there while writing of the alienated �Prufrock� in 1917; and Stevens, too, found his unique form during those years, as �Sunday Morning� was published in 1915. We generally think of World War I poets as Brits and with good reason. They fought the war, took it as their subject; some died, others were scarred. These Americans (unlike Hemingway, e.e. cummings, Faulkner) were not affected directly. But it is interesting, possibly important, that they as well as many others found their distinctive voices at that time.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 9 Comments »