Saturday, October 30, 2004

Opposites attract

St. John, Warren and Rachel L. Swarns. "Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows". The New York Times. 2004 October 31.

In towns big and small across the country, couples and family members on opposite sides of the political fence are struggling to maintain amicable relationships as a highly polarized political season reaches its apex. With the presidential race so close and emotions so raw, their homes are microcosms of the sharply divided electorate, places where a kitchen-table conversation can quickly devolve into the bitter back and forth of an episode of "Crossfire" or worse.
For Laurice Pearson, a Democrat who works at a Manhattan legal services company, and her husband, Mihai Radu, an architect who defected from communist Romania in the early 1980's and came to view Ronald Reagan as a kind of liberator — and by extension the Republican Party, too — political arguments were initially a courtship ritual.

But as their disagreements became more intense, she said, they agreed not to talk politics over breakfast, for fear they would commence an argument they couldn't resolve before heading to work. Ms. Pearson said she also encouraged her husband to argue himself out with others, so she wouldn't have to engage.
Gene and Adam Ortiz, the Republican father and Democratic son, said they were groping for ways to fight the political fight while keeping the peace at home.

They're called blogs, people.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Tempest in a teapot

Tempest, Matthew. "'Corporate' ESF sparks rival conference". The Guardian. 2004 October 12.

ESF - the third annual meeting of leftwing and environmental activists from across Europe - is expected to attract around 20,000 people from across Europe for three days of debate.
But internal splits, between grassroots activists on one side and key players and major sponsors on the other, have now broken into the open, with a hardcore of anarchists and direct action supporters organising a more freeform, rival conference.

While delegates, who pay a £30 registration fee, will spend Thursday and Friday at the main conference venues of Alexandra Palace and Bloomsbury to debate war, racism and corporate power, the fringe festival - dubbed "Beyond ESF" - will celebrate "self-organised cultures of resistance".
Organisers say the purpose of the alternative conference is because the ESF has been "hijacked by authoritarian organisations such as the SWP [Socialist Workers party] and racist, war-crazy corporate whores Neo Labour [who have] got in on the act through Ken Livingstone and the GLA".
Hijacking? Like how Seattle and Genoa got hijacked by, oh, who was it? A hardcore of anarchists and direct action supporters!

Not unlike the unelected, unaccountable organizations who hijack development projects and force their agendas on unconsenting developing countries by demanding that the World Bank meet their deliberately unattainable environmental criteria.

Hat tip: Harry's Place



Hertsgaard, Mark. "Left in the wings/The looming fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party". San Francisco Chronicle. 2004 October 10.

Fights over a political party's future are common after the party loses a big election. But John Kerry figures to face a fight over control of the party from fellow Democrats even if he beats George W. Bush on Nov. 2. Influential figures on the party's left wing are planning a long-term campaign to move the Democrats to the left, just as right-wing activists took over the Republican Party and moved it to the right over the past 30 years.
F*ck no! You're the loony bastards responsible for the marginalization of the American left for the two and a half decades before Clinton!
In the short run, the left-wingers are working hard to elect Kerry, even though they regard him as representing the party's cautious center. In the primaries, most of the left preferred Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, whose populist, anti-war candidacy threatened to wrest the nomination from Kerry, to the horror of the party establishment. The left is uniting behind Kerry out of a widely shared conviction that a second Bush term would be an unmitigated, perhaps irreversible, disaster. "Four more years of George Bush would destroy the country," Dean said in announcing last summer that he would campaign hard for Kerry.
Aren't you the @$$holes who put Bush into office in the first place by supporting Nader? Yeah, I'm looking at you, Michael Moore. How about a little personal accountability, you fat f*ck.
To support its demands, the left will argue that Kerry could not have beaten Bush without its help. And it will have a point, on both ideological and organizational grounds.
If Bush wins on Nov. 2, the battle for control of the Democratic Party will probably come quickly. Leftists will argue that Kerry and the centrists forfeit any right to leadership if they cannot defeat the most vulnerable incumbent since Jimmy Carter.
So if Bush wins, the leftmost fringe of Democrats will try to seize control of the party. And if Bush loses, the leftmost fringe of Democrats will try to seize control of the party.

I had hoped that the Clinton administration marked for the American left a sea change from posturing to pragmatism. Then, I figured that four years of Dubya and, through their support of Ralph Nader in 2000, their accountability for that would have reinforced the lesson for any recidivists. Obviously f*cking not.

Hat tip: CenterFeud


Sunday, October 10, 2004

How not to win a debate

Years before September 11th, I attended a debate that asked the question, "Is Islam a threat to Britain?" I attended in the company of some Muslim friends to provide moral support to yet another friend who would be answering the question in the negative.

I am proud to say that my friend, a BJP-supporting Hindu, held nothing back from his advocacy of British Muslims, regardless of what other differences he may have had with his teammates, which included an eloquent and impassioned British Muslim lawyer and an imam from the Muslim Parliament. (And Muslim fundamentalists insist that the forces of unbelief are always conspiring against the ummah.)

My friend rehashed the history of British colonialism. The solicitor described how British society undermined Muslim parents' efforts to raise children who observed the traditions of Islam. The imam extolled the civility of Islam over the drunken, promiscuous depravity of contemporary Britain.

Then someone on the opposing side asked flat-out, "Would you impose sharia law on Britain?"

My friend's side all shook their heads in disbelief at such an absurd question. All except for the imam, who spat out the words "Yes, I would" with neither hesitation nor humility. As the audience's gasps gave way to murmurs or silence, it became clear to one and all that the imam had "scored an own goal". I knew what my friend believed in and consequently how he probably felt but he is nothing if not professional so his only response was to affect an unperturbed facade that betrayed none of his anger or revulsion.

How badly did the imam lose the audience? Well, remember that I attended at the urging of Muslims whom I still count as friends yet my mistrust of Muslim apologists persists from that day to this. (And now you know Jeet's secret origin.)

I only bring it up because I witnessed another such display of insolence at a debate just the other night. (hat tip: Abiola)


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Things I have learned in grad school

Even if you get absolutely no exercise whatsoever, you can lose weight on a diet of nothing other than Cheerios and Diet Pepsi. Not together, of course. Because that would be gross.



Research paper season has kicked into high gear and I've gotten next to no sleep in the past couple of weeks, so I'm afraid that I won't be able to post as much (i.e. substantial posts) or as often as I'd like.

I won't disappear, but I'll be quieter than normal.

Thanks to everyone who's been reading!


Monday, October 04, 2004


I oppose abortion because it is MURDER.

By that logic, an abortion prevented is a murder prevented and, thus, a worthy moral goal, correct?

If handing out condoms or birth control pills to teenagers prevented an unwanted pregnancy from being terminated, would you do it?

If it prevented the murder of even one unborn child, would pro-lifers demand that sex education include an honest assessment of the advantages and drawbacks of the full range of contraceptive methods?

Preventing even one murder is worthwhile, right?