July 2004

2004 07 31

Posted by in: Civility

I have Paul Craddick’s view of the value of civility in political discourse . . . until I lose my temper.

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2004 07 30
Scenes from the war

Ginmar is still in Iraq and still writing about it.

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2004 07 30
Chomsky on Osirak, again

Peter and I are still going back and forth on the Osirak strike. I think it might be time to call in Chomsky to explain himself, but in the meantime let me explain why I think Peter and Chomsky are just wrong about the main causes of Iraq’s nuclear program. Peter writes:
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A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 07 30
More on Adesnik

Today’s new content is in the comments section of this post.

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2004 07 29
Notes for a future move

Posted by in: Anecdotal

The proper steps are:

1. Tape the bottom of the enormous box.
2. Fill the enormous box.
3. Hoist the enormous box high.

Step one is essential. Forget step one and you are back where you started. Don’t forget step one.

Howls of outrage (3)

2004 07 29

This actually made me angry, and so I wrote up a little rebuke that was fairly nasty (by my standards). But it’s not worth it. Let me just say that after four years of supporting, excusing, apologizing and rationalizing for Bush, and after supporting his goddamn war in Iraq, Mr. Adesnik has no right to that snark. He has no right at all.

Howls of outrage (8)

2004 07 29
Chomsky hits home run!

Commentator, friend, and former roommate, Peter, has been savaging me in the comments section for pooping on Chomsky. In order to placate him, let me say that this post seems to me a perfectly cogent analysis of the situation in Iraq. The only quibble I have is that Chomsky appears to think that a full-scale civil war is less probable than I do. I reproduce the entire post below the fold. Let the Chomsky-lovin’ begin.
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Howls of outrage (7)

2004 07 28
Mixed Metaphor Watch

Posted by in: Teaching

I’m not especially happy now. I’m a bit under the weather, and busy grading papers, moving this week, and fretting about my unfinished thesis. But then there is this, from a student paper, to brighten my day. Savour it while I cut blogging to an absolute minimum for a few days:

[The author in question] shows us the wrongness of this judgment in terms of logical reasoning and claims that argumentation must shift from target in order to find a fertile territory where argument reasoning is free from stumbling upon established assumptions.

Ah yes, a clear image forms in my mind . . .

Howls of outrage (2)

2004 07 28
Kerry on Iraq

Did Kerry flip-flop on the Iraq War? Rodger A. Payne attempts to defend Kerry with the novel tactic of actually examining his speech before the war vote in the Senate.

Does Payne succeed in this effort? In a word, no. If speeches were anything to go on, Bush would be the greatest force for democracy in the entire world. Kerry’s speech is a nice effort, and it places all kinds of sensible qualification and restrictions on his support for Bush. But Kerry had to have known that Bush would disregard those qualifications and restrictions, and he had to have known that by then it would be too late for Kerry to do anything about it. A vote for Bush at the time really was a vote allowing Bush to wage war if he deemed fit, and by that point, it was clear Bush deemed fit.

Kerry said in October 2002:

When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. I will vote yes because I believe it is the best way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. And the administration, I believe, is now committed to a recognition that war must be the last option to address this threat, not the first, and that we must act in concert with allies around the globe to make the world’s case against Saddam Hussein.

As the President made clear earlier this week, “Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable.” It means “America speaks with one voice.”

Yada yada yada. Except that Bush was obviously lying about the practical effect of the resolution. There is simply no way that Bush would have built up that many troops in the middle of the dessert and then sent them home. There was going to be a war, come hell or high water. Kerry’s speech was an agonized response to the agonizing position which Bush deliberately placed Congress (and the country) in: Either support Bush (thereby essentially granting him the right to wage war) or support a humiliating climbdown before the entire world. That’s a tough spot to be in, but let’s be clear that no amount of fine speechifying changes the fact that Kerry knowingly chose the first horn of the dilemma.

Now, I agree with Payne that Kerry didn’t want a war, and would have preferred to let inspectors continue their job. But that wasn’t what the vote was really about, and Kerry either knew it or he doesn’t deserve to be president.

Howls of outrage (3)

2004 07 28
Carter’s foreign policy

Ah, Jimmy . . . perpetually associated with impotence, in contrast with manly, manly Ronny. Like most comic book history (no offence to comic books – just a turn of phrase) this picture is open to dispute.

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2004 07 28
And Voldemort as Bud Selig?

Posted by in: Baseball

A very nice story at Batgirl about last night’s Twins-White Sox game in which Corey Koskie (who is Canadian) got hit by pitches 3 times. Worth looking at even if you aren’t a baseball fan.

It helps to know that Spiderman is the nickname of the Twins’ centerfielder, Torii Hunter.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 07 28
Blogs are changing the world

Posted by in: Odds and ends

It’s true. Fafnir and Giblets have the details.

Update: Whoops! Fixed link.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 07 28
Chomsky bashing clarified

Since I had a go at old Noam yesterday, I thought I would clarify the spirit in which I intended my criticism. For the record, I actually think that many Israeli policies are morally repugnant and deeply counterproductive. I’ve also learned quite a bit from reading Noam Chomsky. I just also happen to think that Chomsky gets it wrong sometimes. One thing he gets wrong is a kind of inconsistency in tone and language when describing different actors in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. [Update: Obviously, I should have written “Middle East,” since the original target of my comments was Israeli’s strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor. My bad.] I learned to watch for that sort of thing . . . by reading Noam Chomsky.

But, as I’ve noted before, it is a mystery to me why Chomsky is regarded as somehow beyond the pale within American politics. There is something deeply wrong about a political culture that sees, for example, Charles Krauthammer as fit for an editorial page, but refuses, without debate, to consider a point because Noam Chomsky makes it.

I criticize the Bush administration a lot on this site because I think it’s important to dissent from very bad policies. But frankly, while there is room to quibble about details, an intellectually serious defence of the Bush administration is no longer possible, and hasn’t been for some time. We’re no longer having a real debate anymore. And so these days the more interesting project, as far as I’m concerned, is to mark out those areas in which I disagree with people who are in many respects in ideological sympathy with me. Look out, Noam et. al. I’ma comin’ to getcha!

That’s the spirit in which I intend my Noam bashing below. I hope that distinguishes me from that brand of liberal who tries to score “reasonable points” by bashing Noam Chomsky whenever he can.

Howls of outrage (3)

2004 07 27
Chomsky on the Osirak raid

Noam Chomsky writes:

Not reported but quite important is the dispatch to Israel of 100 F16-I’s, advanced jet bombers, with the very specific announcement that they can reach Iran and return, are updated versions of the F-16s that Israel used to attack the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 (thereby setting off Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, though that part of the story, though pretty well confirmed, is avoided), and are equipped with “special weapons” (according to the Israeli Hebrew press).

Uhhhhhh, pardon? I’ve read a bit about the Israeli strike against that nuclear reactor and this is the first time I’ve seen anyone claim that the strike set off Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

Chomsky is new to the blogging game, so I’ll forgive him for failing to link to confirmation. But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he is basically wrong about this. Reason: If I was a nutty dictator living in a dangerous part of the world and locked in a vicious war with a stronger rival to my East, I would be pretty darn interested in nuclear weapons. And Chomsky has to know that the history of nuclear proliferation is essentially a long story of one country after another developing nuclear weapons programs under the cover of peaceful nuclear power generation – until it is too late to do anything about it.

Now, I’m actually a big fan of the idea that you can make crazy people crazier than they already are by provoking them. (E.g., it wouldn’t surprise me much to discover that North Korea stepped up its nuclear weapons program after Bush made his “Axis of Evil” speech. On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that it hadn’t.) So it’s possible that the Israeli strike convinced Saddam Hussein to get a move on with the whole nuclear weapons project. But the main effect appears to be that it convinced Iraq that it needed to be a lot more savvy about hiding its nuclear program than anything else.

Does anyone know otherwise? I would be delighted to hear from you.

And by the way, note the neutral language: “setting off Iraq’s nuclear weapons program,” which almost manages to transform the Israelis into the main actors in the story of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Reader challenge: Find me one instance in which Chomsky describes the Arab states as “setting off” Israel’s nuclear weapons program. If you can do it, you win . . . I don’t know, 15 smug points to be redeemed in the comments section of any post.*

*Offer valid only until Dec. 31st, 2004. Some restrictions may apply.

Howls of outrage (6)

2004 07 27
Dreaming about peace

From a piece in the New York Times:

The demonstrators included many of the almost 240,000 settlers of the West Bank and Gaza, and also secular and Orthodox Israelis from around the country. Many dismissed Mr. Sharon’s argument that it is foolish to send hundreds of Israeli troops to protect 7,500 Jewish settlers living among 1.3 million Palestinians.

“If we give up the Gaza Strip, by the same token we can give up Israel,” said Chaim Markuza, a 62-year-old retired businessman who was standing near the Latrun junction about 15 miles outside Jerusalem.

Ayelet Schwartz, a 24-year-old teacher from the northern West Bank settlement of Dumim who had her 2 �-year-old daughter, Shira, in a stroller, said, “If we believe in the Torah, then we believe that all of the land of Israel belongs to us.”

. . .

One of the people at the wall was David Hatuel, whose pregnant wife and four daughters were killed last May in a roadside ambush by two Palestinian gunmen in Gaza. “Peace should be made with people who want peace,” he said. “The Palestinians don’t educate their children to want peace, and you can’t have a peace with someone who doesn’t dream about peace.”

Mr. Hatuel makes a very good point, a very good point indeed. One wonders, though, if Mrs. Schwartz is teaching Shira to dream of a day when they can set the Torah aside.

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