Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Khmer Rogue Turns to Christianity and Exploitation

Jason Burke's report "Khmer Rouge embraces Jesus" in The Guardian has garnered lots of attention.

The Khmer Rouge followed a harsh brand of communism, killing nearly two million people in their bid to return Cambodia to Year Zero. Now they have a new faith: evangelical Christianity.

Hundreds of former fighters have been baptised in the past year. The Khmer Rouge's mountain stronghold, the town of Pailin in south-west Cambodia, has four churches, all with pastors and growing congregations. At least 2,000 of those who followed Pol Pot, the guerrillas' former leader who died six years ago, now worship Jesus.

I found these details near the end to be more interesting.

Several Khmer Rouge leaders live in villas in Pailin, profiting from large farms, logging of hardwood forests and gem mining.

Most[Khmer Rogue] veterans now eke out a living as landless labourers on the estates of their former political chiefs. They live in flimsy shacks and work 15-hour days. With no government or international aid, local amenities are scarce. There is one dilapidated health clinic for 30,000 people.

Phony Defenders of Academic Freedom

Juan Cole, a respected expert on Iraq and Shi'ism, writes on his blog

Those who care anything for freedom of speech and academic integrity should please rise to the defense of Professor Joseph Massad at Columbia University. A concerted campaign has been gotten up against him by the American Likud, aimed at getting him fired.

We don't fire professors in the United States for their views when we are in our right minds.
Only thing is that the site Prof Cole links to is also campaign for an academic boycott of Israel. An "academic boycott" button is prominently displayed at the top of the page. There is no way in which it can be missed. The site belongs to Mona Baker who has removed Israeli scholars from the editorial boards of The Translator and Translation Studies.

Moreover, the issue with Professor Massad is not so much whether he should be fired, but whether he should be granted tenure. The controversy has heated up because of a film which interviews students who reported bias in Massad's classes.

From what I have seen of Massad public writings, he is an anti-Israel ideologue.

The letter defending Massad states Massad "has courageously written in Arabic and in English against anti-Semitism and anti-Semites."

In reality, Massad's essay on anti-Semitism attacks Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, Etienne Balibar, and Slavoj Zizek for being too sympathetic to the victims of the Holocaust. Accroding to Massad, there is no such thing as Arab anti-Semitism (it's just a myth of and Zionism is European racism.

The only anti-Semitism which Massad seems to denounce is-- Zionism! Believe it or not this is what he writes.
Zionism's anti-Semitic project of destroying Jewish cultures and languages in the diaspora in the interest of an invented Hebrew that none of them spoke, and in the interest of evicting them from Europe and transporting them to an Asian land to which they had never been, is never examined by these intellectuals. Nor do they ever examine the ideological and practical collusion between Zionism and anti- Semitism since the inception of the movement.
According to Massad, the only way to support Palestinian national rights is by denouncing the racist roots of the Israeli state.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

A Better Electoral College Map

From Prof. Sam Wang of Princeton

See his analysis of polls and the election here.

There is an interactive java-script map on Wang's website.

More Questions About Bush's 1970s

Knight-Ridder "began asking questions more than two months ago about Bush's service at P.U.L.L. as part of an effort to fill in the facts about his early adulthood." Here are some paragraphs from their story.

HOUSTON - President Bush often has cited his work in 1973 with a now-defunct inner-city program for troubled teens as the source for his belief in "compassionate conservatism."

"I realized then that a society can change and must change one person at a time ..." Bush said in a video shown at the 2000 Republican National Convention about his tenure at P.U.L.L., the Professional United Leadership League, whose executive director, John White, had played tight end for the Houston Oilers in the early 1960s.

But former associates of White, who died in 1988, have disputed in recent interviews much of Bush's version of his time at the program.

"I was working full time for an inner-city poverty program known as Project P.U.L.L.," Bush said in his 1999 autobiography, "A Charge to Keep." "My friend John White ... asked me to come help him run the program. ... I was intrigued by John's offer. ... Now I had a chance to help people."

But White's administrative assistant and others associated with P.U.L.L., speaking on the record for the first time, say Bush was not helping to run the program and White had not asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary co-chairman of the program at the time, and Bush was unpaid. They say White told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble but White never gave them specifics.

"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time," said Althia Turner, White's administrative assistant.

"John said he was doing a favor for George's father because an arrangement had to be made for the son to be there," said Willie Frazier, also a former player for the Houston Oilers and a P.U.L.L. summer volunteer in 1973.

It will be interesting to see if Knight-Ridder has more revelations and if other media follow up.

Survey Finds Republicans More Likely to Respond to Phone Polls

From Tcm.net via Daily Kos

The survey found while likely voters, both Republican and Democrat, reported receiving an equal number of polling calls, Republicans are 25 percent more likely than Democrats to have responded to at least one poll. The difference was just as pronounced for polls related to the national election where Republicans were more than 23 percent more likely to have responded to a poll call.

Some of the difference may be attributed to the survey findings showing that Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to indicate they screen their calls (44 percent and 27 percent respectively).

The survey also uncovered another factor working against pollsters. Democrats with cellular phone services, who also have a traditional landline, are 46 percent more likely (35 percent and 24 percent respectively) than Republicans to say they answer "most" of their incoming calls at home using their cell phones.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Che's Grandson: Fidel Is a Tyrant

Marc Cooper has this:

There’s a fascinating story coming of Mexico ...about the dissident grandson of Che Guevara – Canek Sanchez Guevara. He’s published an open letter from Mexico denouncing Fidel Castro as an “aged tyrant” and as “messianic” leader who persecutes trade unionists and poets alike.

Some background:

I first met Che’s grandson – Canek Sanchez- in Havana in 1991. I was at an afternoon party on the patio of a Cuban friend of mine, a former counter-intelligence officer who had morphed into a writer. Canek, then about 18, showed up agitated and angered and accompanied by the son of another good friend.

The two young men breathlessly told us adults of something awful that had just happened. Canek and his pal had put together a rock band and had just opened their first gig at a nearby Casa De Cultura – a municipal performance space. No sooner had they started playing but a squad of Cuban cops had burst in and chased everyone out, lobbing a tear gas canister or two. Seemed like the state wasn’t too pleased by such a gathering of "hippies."
A few of Canek Sanchez's thoughts
“The Cuban Revolution died some years ago: it had to be killed off by those who act in its name to make sure it didn’t turn against them; it was institutionalized and smothered by its own bureaucracy, by corruption, nepotism and the rigidity of the much-celebrated Cuban ‘revolutionary’ state.”

“All of my criticism of Fidel Castro come from his walking away from the ideals of liberty, from his betrayal of his own people and his frightening zeal to place the interests of the state above those of his people.”

“Let’s be honest, a young rebel like Fidel Castro in today’s Cuba wouldn’t be sent into exile. He’s be shot.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Good and Bad Ways to Criticize Bush's Religion

Two good articles critiquing George Bush's religion have appeared in the last week, sparked, it seems, by Ron Suskind's piece in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Ayelish McGarvey "As God Is His Witness" American Prospect web exclusive.

judged by his deeds, an entirely different picture emerges: Bush does not demonstrate a life of faith by his actions, and neither Methodists, evangelicals, nor fundamentalists can rightly call him brother. In fact, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether Bush is really a Christian at all.

Ironically for a man who once famously named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher during a campaign debate, it is remarkably difficult to pinpoint a single instance wherein Christian teaching has won out over partisan politics in the Bush White House. Though Bush easily weaves Christian language and themes into his political communication, empty religious jargon is no substitute for a bedrock faith. Even little children in Sunday school know that Jesus taught his disciples to live according to his commandments, not simply to talk about them a lot.

Jeff Sharlet "Our Magical President" The Revealer 17 October 2004

Believing it seems, is more important to the President than the substance of his belief. Jesus Christ’s particular teachings -- well, those are good, too. But what really matters is that if you believe you can do something, you can.

What Suskind misses, and what Bush’s more orthodox Christian supporters seem to dodge, is that this is not Christian doctrine by any definition. It is, in fact, a key element of the broad, heterodox movement known as New Age religion.

A common aspect of many New Age schools of thought (though not all) is a gentle disdain for perceived reality. That's different from the fundamentalist aversion to worldliness; rather, this approach views the "real world" as that which is within the mind or heart or spirit of the believer. That idea is often dismissed as a modern bastardization of psychology, but many New Agers argue that their beliefs are actually ancient; and, despite the fact that the superficial characteristics are often of a recent vintage, there’s some truth to that assertion. New Age religions are, literally, reactionary, responses to what’s been called the disenchantment of the world.

Now for the bad. Chuck Currie reports that

some United Methodists claiming that the president and vice-president [both are UM members] are working against church teaching. A group of them are circulating a “Letter of Complaint” to UMC officials demanding that Bush and Cheney either repent or leave the church.

I really don't see much difference between this effort of United Methodists to revoke the membership of Bush and Cheney and the efforts of some Catholic Bishops to bar pro-choice politicians from taking Communion. It's no better when liberals politicize religion.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Four Years Ago

Keep this in mind when looking at the 2004 polls.

Polling Firm Date Bush Gore Bush-Gore
ABC 10/19 48% 43% +5%
Gallup 10/19 50% 40% +10%
Opinion Dynamics 10/19 45% 42% +3%
Reuters/MSNBC 10/19 44% 44% 0%
Voter.com 10/19 44% 39% +5%
ABC 10/18 48% 44% +4%
Gallup 10/18 49% 39% +10%
NBC 10/18 45% 43% +2%
Reuters/MSNBC 10/18 44% 43% +1%
Voter.com 10/18 44% 40% +4%

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Bush's Plans for a Second Term

Ron Suskind in the New York Times

''I'm going to push nuclear energy, drilling in Alaska and clean coal. Some nuclear-fusion technologies are interesting.''

''I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in,'' Bush said, ''with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'' The victories he expects in November, he said, will give us ''two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck.''

Post-War Planning: "To Be Provided"

"Post-war planning non-existent" By Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott , Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

The U.S. intelligence community had been divided about the state of Saddam's weapons programs, but there was little disagreement among experts throughout the government that winning the peace in Iraq could be much harder than winning a war.

"The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace in Iraq is real and serious," warned an Army War College report that was completed in February 2003, a month before the invasion. Without an "overwhelming" effort to prepare for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the report warned: "The United States may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making."

A half-dozen intelligence reports also warned that American troops could face significant postwar resistance. This foot-high stack of material was distributed at White House meetings of Bush's top foreign policy advisers, but there's no evidence that anyone ever acted on it.

"It was disseminated. And ignored," said a former senior intelligence official.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


The O'Sexxxy Factor

The Smoking Gun has Andrea Mackris's complaint, an incredible page-turner that quotes O'Reilly, 55, on all sorts of lewd matters. Based on the extensive quotations cited in the complaint, it appears a safe bet that Mackris, 33, recorded some of O'Reilly's more steamy soliloquies. For example, we direct you to his Caribbean shower fantasies. While we suggest reading the entire document, TSG will point you to interesting sections on a Thailand sex show, Al Franken, and the climax of one August 2004 phone conversation. (22 pages)

from O'Reilly's lawyer, in Howard Kurtz's Washington Post column, doesn't sound like much of a denial.

O'Reilly's attorney, Ronald Green, would not deny that the sexual conversations had taken place, saying he could not address whether his client "used a particular word or phrase at any time as part of a joke." He said that the lurid, highly detailed "snippets" recounted in Mackris's lawsuit could have been "taken out of context" or "spun for exaggeration," and that O'Reilly "wants to hear the tapes if they exist." Green said he has witnesses who say Mackris told them that she decided to tape O'Reilly when the four-year employee returned to Fox.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

MF in Winfield, Wounded Bird and JLCO

I rearranged my work schedule and drove down to Winfield for Mayard Ferguson's Tuesday night concert at Southwestern College. There was a good crowd, the Winfield Courier put it at 350.

All Music says

When he debuted with Stan Kenton's Orchestra in 1950, Maynard Ferguson could play higher than any other trumpeter up to that point in jazz history, and he was accurate. Somehow he has kept most of that range through the decades and since the 1970s has been one of the most famous musicians in jazz. Never known for his exquisite taste (some of his more commercial efforts are unlistenable), Maynard Ferguson has nevertheless led some important bands and definitely made an impact with his trumpet playing.

...In 1950 with the formation of Kenton's Innovations Orchestra, Ferguson became a star, playing ridiculous high notes with ease. In 1953 he left Kenton to work in the studios of Los Angeles and three years later led the all-star "Birdland Dreamband." In 1957 he put together a regular big band that lasted until 1965, recorded regularly for Roulette (all of its recordings with that label are on a massive Mosaic box set) and performed some of the finest music of Ferguson's career. ...

After economics forced him to give up the impressive band, Ferguson had a few years in which he was only semiactive in music, spending time in India and eventually forming a new band in England. After moving back to the U.S., Ferguson in 1974 drifted quickly into commercialism. Young trumpeters in high school and colleges were amazed by his high notes but jazz fans were dismayed by the tasteless recordings which resulted in hit versions of such songs as the themes from Star Wars and Rocky and much worse. After cutting back on his huge orchestra in the early '80s, Ferguson recorded some bop in a 1983 session, led a funk band called High Voltage during 1987-88 and then returned to jazz with his "Big Bop Nouveau Band," a medium-sized outfit with which he still tours the world. Although MF's range finally started to shrink a little in the 1990s, he is still an enthusiastic and exciting player.

I bought the LP "Maynard '62" many years ago and found it to be a very enjoyable album. I was never a big fan of his commercial period, but dug some of his hits when I heard them on radio.

Despite the lecture from All Music, I enjoyed the "MF Hit Medley." And so did the audience. Macarthur Park is drek, but Chameleon is a great tune. I usually try to support artists by buying CDs at the concert. Tuesday I bought, Carnival because it includes "Birdland," which was the encore selection. Then I debated between two CDs which received 4 (of 5 possible) stars on All Music discography. I went for Brass Attitude which was a lucky pick. There was one concert number I really liked because it was very different from both his Roulette repertoire and the commercial stuff of later decades. All Music reviewer Richard Ginell describes it this way

Thankfully, an element of strangeness bursts forth at the album's midpoint, "Misra-Dhenuka," a nearly 16-minute reminder of MF's sabbatical in India. Grounded in a raga, it dissolves into a 6/8 meter vamp based on what sounds like a Spanish chordal pattern.

Carnival is on the Wounded Bird label, a fantastic re-issue only label that specializes in the reissue of albums from the 60's, 70's and early 80's on compact disc.

Their releases are properly licensed from the owner of the original masters, in most cases the original record label and sometimes the artists themselves. The price for most CDS seems to be $10.98. Artists represented include rock greats like the Byrds, Butterfield Blues Band, Commander Cody, and Mother Earth. But there also some some fine jazz including Modern Jazz Quartet, Duke Ellington, Larry Coryell and Herbie Mann.

Jazz at Lincoln Center has some brand spankin' new halls and is celebrating with a Grand Opening Festival from October 21 to November 5. Some highlights

Let Freedom Swing: A Celebration of Human Rights & Social Justice
Thursday–Saturday, October 28-30, 2004, 8pm Rose Theater

The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis celebrates the charismatic leaders who gave voice to the struggle, and whose words and deeds continue to be invoked as new struggles emerge. Six extraordinary world premiere musical commissions will paint a backdrop for inspirational oratory on liberty and triumph by Vaclav Havel, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Performed by celebrity readers, including Morgan Freeman, Glenn Close and others and set to music by an international array of composers including Darin Atwater, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Darius Brubeck, and Zim Ngqawana, Jimmy Heath, Emil Viklicky and Stevie Wonder, this is a rare evening of ideas and ideals. Freedom swings.

The Duke and the Count Monday, October 25, 2004, 7:30pm The Allen Room

This evening marks the only opportunity this season to experience the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in The Allen Room. Unfolding under the stars are Duke Ellington’s 1943 Black, Brown, & Beige, a three-movement symphony, and the most important and successful longform work in the history of jazz. For lovers of Kansas City Swing, we present the recently re-discovered and highly-acclaimed 1960 Kansas City Suite, written by maestro Benny Carter for Count Basie.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

GOP Firm Shreds Dem Voter Registration

A Nevada TV station reports

Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Daily Kos adds that the Nader campaign hired these GOP creeps for their Arizona petition drive.

"Tariq Ramadan is not our ally"

The Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan is a top-billed speaker at the European Social Forum in London in October. There is a lot of confusion about Ramadan's politics since the Bush adminstration has cancelled his visa to lecture at Notre Dame University.

The Alliance for Workers Liberty, a left group in Great Britain has translated a leaflet that was distributed at the European Social Forum in Paris on 12–16 November 2003 by the “Feminist Collective for a Secular Alternative Globalisation”.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Tariq Ramadan is dangerous not because he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and originator of a political Islam which has wreaked havoc across the world, but because he has never distanced himself from the ideological heritage of his grandfather, whom he continues to present as the “most influential of the Muslim reformists of the century” [1] when that reformism consisted of wanting to go back to the baseline of Sharia law.

Tariq Ramadan is worrying not because he is the brother of Hani Ramadan, an Islamist theoretician who endorses stoning for adultery and considers AIDS to be a divine punishment, but because he himself reckons that one cannot be both Muslim and homosexual, even if he does not advise physical punishment for homosexuals. “God wanted things in order. And that order is ‘man for woman’ and ‘woman for man’,”, he explains in his lectures to young Muslims [2]. By taking up the Koran in a literal way, he endorses the doctrine of a divine and natural order which we would not accept from a Christian fundamentalist.

Challenged to demarcate himself from his brother, Tariq Ramadan does so only very ambiguously. Instead of condemning physical punishments and demanding their abolition, he contents himself with proposing a “total and absolute moratorium, to give us the time to go back to our fundamental texts… and to determine precisely the necessary conditions”.

Equally he does not dispute the right of a man to use conjugal violence, even if he emphasises that the Koran envisages it only as a “last resort” [3].
Read the entire article on the AWL website
and the French original here.

The Coming Battle for the Democratic Party

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

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.

If the left's campaign is successful, it could transform the political landscape of the United States, changing the terms of debate and bringing dramatically different policies on local, national and international issues.

And left-leaning activists are mounting an unprecedented grassroots campaign to educate and turn out voters for Kerry.

The nation's largest labor union, the Service Employees International Union, has joined with the Sierra Club, the NAA"CP, the National Abortion Rights League and other groups to organize "the largest voter mobilization in American history" through the newly minted alliances America Coming Together and America Votes.

Other supporters to Kerry's left include Democracy for America, the organization Dean created after the primaries to channel the energies of his grassroots constituency, and the AFL-CIO, whose get-out-the-vote work was crucial for Al Gore in winning the popular vote in 2000.

And perhaps no one has attracted more attention than MoveOn, the Internet- based group whose television ads and in-your-face opposition to Bush has driven right-wingers crazy, even as its small-donor fund-raising model has challenged Big Money's hold over democracy.

Call them the Beat Bush Brigades. Collectively, these groups boast a combined budget of perhaps $100 million and tens of thousands of staff and volunteers. And as much as they may obey federal laws that prohibit them from coordinating with Kerry, in effect they operate as an unofficial "Kerry for President" campaign.

All this signals a historic shift in the American left's approach to national politics. In the past, left-wing groups and individuals would moan about a Democratic nominee's perceived deficiencies and defect to a protest candidate, such as Ralph Nader or Jesse Jackson.

By contrast, the Beat Bush Brigades are showing a new patience and maturity. They are working in the short term to elect a Democrat they see as imperfect in order to build their movement's strength over the long term.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Marines in Iraq Speak Out

"For Marines, a Frustrating Fight: Some in Iraq Question How and Why War Is Being Waged" By Steve Fainaru in Sunday's Washington Post.

"Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day."

Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, of Bucks County, Pa., said he thought government officials were reticent to speak candidly because of the upcoming U.S. elections. "Stuff's going on here but they won't flat-out say it," he said. "They can't get into it."

[Another soldier] added later that it was difficult to wage the battle when American commanders were holding them back.

"We feel they care more about Iraqi civilians than they do American soldiers," he said.

Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: "We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?"

How Horowitz "Proves" Campus Liberal Bias

What's Not To Like About The Academic Bill of Rights by Dr. Graham Larkin

Despite his claim to be a defender of freedom, David Horowitz reveals an unnerving lack of regard for the kind of ideological abstention that the Virginian judges were working to defend. This disregard is glaringly evident in the way he arrives at the "statistics" which he regularly evokes as the very reason for implementing the Academic Bill of Rights. In a recent response to the AAUP's condemnation of the Bill and the thinking behind it, Horowitz baldly asserts that

a series of recent studies by independent researchers has shown that on any given university faculty in America, professors to the left of the political center outnumber professors to the right of the political center by a factor of 10-1 and more. At some elite schools like Brown and Wesleyan the ratio rises to 28-1 and 30-1.

He goes on to contend that this "huge correlation between political categories and academic standing" amounts to a "corruption of academic integrity."

Because he doesn't resort to his opponents' tactic of supplying footnotes, I cannot be certain which "independent studies" produced the "10-1" left-right ratio, but all the circumstantial evidence points to two studies. These are the loopy 2001 "survey" by the Frank Luntz Research Center and the Horowitz-run Center for the Study of Popular Culture, and the complementary study, co-authored by Horowitz and Eli Lehrer, titled Political Bias in the Administrations and Faculties of 32 Elite Colleges and Universities. In a declaration very similar to the one in his retort to the AAUP, Horowitz contends in the latter study that "[t]he overall ratio of Democrats to Republicans we were able to identify at the 32 schools was more than 10 to 1." This also seems to be the source of the more extreme "statistics" for Brown and Wesleyan.

If these are indeed the "independent" studies Horowitz has in mind, then the "Democrats" and "Republicans" mentioned in Horowitz's AAUP retort are the 1,431 professors of Economics, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology in various subjectively-selected "elite colleges and universities," mostly in the Northeast, whose names seem to match up with those of registered party members in voter records. Even if one were able to reasonably extend the resulting findings to represent the ratio of Democrats to Republicans "on any given university faculty in America," the question remains of how one could possibly use the exact same statistics to "show" just how much "professors to the left of the political center outnumber professors to the right." Easy! All you need to do is ignore the existence of the 1,891 professors in the same departments who you estimate to be "unaffiliated" in their party loyalty. [emphasis added]

I can think of only two ways of coherently defending such a move. On the one hand, one could argue that the unaffiliated majority simply doesn't matter, thereby leaving Horowitz free to concoct his 10-1 generalizations about all professors on the basis of less than half his dubious little data sample. On the other hand, one could simply assume that the unaffiliated majority must 'really' break down into exactly the same left/right proportions as the card-carrying Democrats and Republicans, leaving us with a 10-1 statistic that reasonably represents everyone.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Gotta hear this


A very creative re-mix of GWB which some might say expresses the real GWB.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Cult of Che

Don't applaud The Motorcycle Diaries. by P aul Berman in SLATE

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. In the famous essay in which he issued his ringing call for "two, three, many Vietnams," he also spoke about martyrdom and managed to compose a number of chilling phrases: "Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become …"— and so on.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Who Are the Progressives in Iraq? The Left, the Right, and the Islamists

Foreign Policy in Focus has this very important briefing by Frank Smyth.

Many American leftists seem to know little about their Iraqi counterparts, since understanding the role of the Iraqi left requires a nuanced approach. Unfortunately the knee-jerk, anti-imperialist analysis of groups like International A.N.S.W.E.R. has wormed its way into several progressive outlets. Dispatches and columns in The Nation as well as reports and commentary on the independently syndicated radio program “Democracy Now” have all but ignored the role of Iraqi progressives while highlighting, if not championing, the various factions of the Iraqi-based resistance against the U.S.-led occupation without bothering to ask who these groups are and what they represent for Iraqis.

U.S. activists who demonstrated against the Iraq War made an invaluable contribution by letting the rest of the world know that millions of Americans opposed the U.S.-led invasion. But the enemy of one’s enemy is not necessarily one’s friend. To think otherwise is to embrace an Orwellian logic that makes anti-war Americans appear not only uninformed but also as cynical as the pro-war protagonists whom they oppose.

Yet, all of the organized groups among the Iraqi resistance are reactionary forces of one kind or another. The resistance around and between the cities of Falluja, Tikrit, and Baghdad in the so-called “Sunni triangle” is led by ex-Ba’athists who aspire to return the old minority-based dictatorship to power. As Juan Cole points out, Nasir A`if al-Ani, the Sunni delegate to the Iraqi National Council from the Iraqi Islamic Party, does not even recognize the Shi’a people as a majority in Iraq. (Not even the most recalcitrant Afrikaners in apartheid South Africa pretended that blacks were a minority.)

Others like The Nation’s Naomi Klein, meanwhile, seem to have naively fallen for the al-Mahdi militia that recently fought U.S. Marines in Najaf. The al-Mahdi militia is a loosely organized Shiite opposition group led by Muqtada al-Sadr. He is a young man who inherited his role after his father and two brothers were murdered by Saddam. Lacking either the maturity or training of a senior cleric, al-Sadr has tried to lure supporters from more-respected Shiite clerics by promoting militant enforcement of the most fundamental tenets of Shiite Islam, including the explicit repression of gays and women.

The third sizable element of resistance inside Iraq is composed of foreign Islamist members of al-Qaida, who, like both the Saudi royal family and Osama bin Laden, practice an even more extreme version of Islam, Wahaabism. This group’s recent victims may include two kidnapped Italian women who work for the Italian group A Bridge to Baghdad, which, like U.S. anti-war groups working in Iraq, is explicitly opposed to the U.S. occupation. The American anti-war group, Iraq Occupation Watch, seems to believe that members of the Iraqi resistance may be holding them, pointing out on its website that the abductors should recognize that the Italian women are anti-war activists. On the other hand, Democracy Now's Jeremy Scahill and The Nation's Naomi Klein have written in The Guardian that a Western intelligence-backed group may be behind the abductions, suggesting that the CIA or others seized the two women to try to discredit the Iraqi opposition.

The Iraqis favored by the Bush administration may be secular, but they are hardly more admirable people. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is an ex-Ba’athist who left the Ba’ath Party in the mid-1970s. Paul McGeough of the Sydney Morning Herald, reported that Allawi personally executed (with a handgun) six Iraqis in a Baghdad police station right before he became prime minister, though no proof of this crime has yet been forthcoming. Prime Minister Allawi’s democracy credentials are also not impressive. He has already banned the Qatar-based satellite TV network, al-Jazeera, and has imposed certain forms of martial law.

Neither the resistance groups cheered on by many on the American left nor the governing parties championed by the American right seem to reflect the views and aspirations of most Iraqi people, who seem to be hoping for the rise of groups independent of both Saddam’s reign and the increasingly dictatorial Allawi government. Possibilities include moderate Shiite groups and secular leftist ones, through whose leadership most Iraqis hope to find a way to empower themselves for the first time in their history.

* Smyth is a freelance journalist who has “embedded” with leftist guerrillas in El Salvador, Iraq, and Rwanda. He covered the 1991 uprisings against Saddam Hussein’s regime, and was later captured and held for two weeks inside Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. He wrote this policy report for Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org). His clips are posted at www.franksmyth.com.

12 Tribes of American Politics

A fascinating article on BeliefNet by John Green and Steven Waldman

Judging from the amount of press coverage they get, you'd think the only religious groups in American politics were the religious right - and everyone else. In fact, a shrewd candidate needs to understand the idiocyncrasies and hot buttons of all Twelve Tribes of American Politics.

Unlike the more famous Twelve Tribes of Israel, these groups can all be located. Using data from the Pew Religion Forum (see full study) and the Ray K Bliss Institute at University of Akron, Beliefnet has defined the religious groupings that make up our political landscape. The surveys were conducted in May 2004 and so show longterm trends rather than present day horse race preferences.

The biggest finding: The Religious Right and the Religious Left are almost exactly the same size. The former has had a much greater impact for the past 25 years largely because of superior organization and drive.

I'm not quite convinced that the religious left is almost the same size as the religious right. Here's why.

The religious left is said to be 12.6 percent of electorate. But only 30 percent define themselves as liberals, while conservative came in at 20 percent and moderates at 50 percent.

The religious right is put at the same 12.6 percent. But two-thirds (66%) call themselves conservative, with only 25 percent saying moderate and 9 percent liberal.

Thus, the "left" of the religious left is 3.8 percent of the electorate, while the "right" of the religious right is 8.4 percent of the electorate.

On the other hand, if anyone wanting to organize the religious left should figure out how to reach Beliefnet's users--at least those who take their on-line polls.

Twenty-five percent of those taking part in the on-line poll, pieked "Religious Left" to describe their views-- twice the general population. In contrast, only 7% Belief-net poll said they were "Religious Right"--half the rate of the general population , Other under-represented groups were Black Protestants
and Latinos at 1 percent each. over-represented were the combined "Spiritual but not Religious" and "Secular" who were 22% of responders to BeliefNet's ID poll, versys 16 percent of the electorate. Way over-represented were "Jews, Muslims, or Other" who were 16 percent--more than three times their rate in the general population.

The original report,The American Religious Landscape and Political Attitudes:
A Baseline for 2004, can be found here. It looks like something which progressives should examine in more detail.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry Sweeps Debate Polls

Respondents choices on who won the 1st Presidential debate:

Kerry beat Bush 43-28 percent uncommitted voters, with 29 percent chosing a tie. - Knowledge Networks for CBS News

Kerry beat Bush 45-36 percent among debate viewers, with 17 for tie. Kerry won independents by 20-point margin - ABC News poll

Kerry beat Bush 53-37 percent of RV debate viewers with 8 percent for both, 1 percent neither, 1 percent no opinion - CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll