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Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Enough Plame to go Around. Iraq at 2100

I've held back from plunging in and issuing posts on the discussion of the current state of the war in Iraq and what led us to it. The discussion has not suffered for my absence. Still I want to touch on a few things which while obvious and noted already by some I would like to reinforce.

First comparing the reactions. Despite spin in previous months that going after Joe Wilson was not cold blooded vindictiveness demonstrating either deliberate or knee jerk maliciousness; treating Murtha and others who have called for a plan of withdrawal, in the same way has given away the lie Stung over Iraq, White House takes offensive | Question this administration, they will unleash the full array of tired nasty and hoary ad hominem attacks Cheney Unleashed. Many of these are not different from those the Ku Klux Klan leveled against catholics or simply those that spoke favorably about catholics in the 1920's1, or the John Birch Society leveled against nearly everyone in their paranoid fevers in subsequent decades.

As a run of the mill citizen I contained my doubts concerning the quality (if not quantity) of threat Hussian's Iraq posed. Because naturally you figure the people in charge must know something. Up until Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the UN. I knew enough from the four years I spent as a navy intelligence rating, learning what aerial photographs can and can't tell you and how they tell, how the work of analysis proceeds, to see what they had. It was a moment of personal revelation. They had nothing. Moreover I knew then that they knew they had nothing. The war was being sold on false premise. The drumbeat to accept the 'regime change' war was a palpable pressure. As though someone came by and tried to convince you some recent movie was crafted brilliance, when you had seen it and knew it was a dog made by hacks. Or one of those tiresome arguments when someone becomes convinced the home team is going to go all the way, win the pennant and the series. You know from the standings they're 10 games out, give up 7 runs a game, bat 170, and can't attempt double plays without throwing the ball into the stands. They won't hear of it laying out saber metrics that demonstrabley conclude they will be in first place by mid September. The Administration preoccupation was similar they kept at it until most  gave up trying to disagree.

A dissection of what led us to this war, what operational art was deployed to get us into it is not beside the point. The point though is the war that exists today. I don't think the insurgency will prevail, but I admit I don't really know what winning is for them. The insurgency is far from monolithic, their goals are not shared. The primary immediate problem we seem to face is the roadside bomb, improvised explosive device (IED's). If you make one out of an old shaped-charge artillery shell it can take out a tank. Unlike point elements, like a fort or a fire-base, roads have a tremendous perimeter problem. You have to control the space outward from the road you are patroling equal to visual sightlines for at least rifle, RPG fire or remote detonation. The infiltration distance that can be covered between patrols (or observation instances) preferably. A twenty mile stretch of road makes you responsible for at least 44 square miles. Iraq is full of roads. Still this is a military question, a math question. It seems likely that this particular tactic can be taken away from them. Suicide car bombs form a separate problem. This is how wars against insurgencies proceed: one interaction at a time until the desire for normalacy gains over the ability to cause chaos and issue violence. Alternately you can simply declare there are no 'insurgents' Rumsfeld's War On 'Insurgents [There needs to be a good Technorati style tag for this sort of thing - Metafilter has one ].

The time has come for decamping. There is a point where our military presence, our projection of force and desire will even in the situation it created not improves affairs, but make them worse. It is best to see that point before it occurs and arrange what our course ought to be accordingly Rumsfeld Says Iraq Troop Levels Must Be Maintained - New York Times. In Lebanon, Somalia, and Kosovo whereever this point always exists . US forces will never have the informational upper hand in this conflict. Opposed to native Iraqi government forces. We would be there 25 years before we had the beginning of an idea of their language and culture in sufficient depth to understand what was going on. We encourage insurgency by being there in large numbers. We present targets, the appearance of a crusader army, feed the fear that the west seeks to steal the natural resources of the Arab world, and control sovereignty of its people. I give little time to the argument that troop morale depends on absense of questions on policy As long as you feel used well by authorities, the vaguarities of public opinion matters little. At the same time public opinion is the soldier and sailors coal mine canary. The American people own what is being done in America's name.

When the administration repeatedly says they will be staying til the job is done -- what does that mean? Following the election of a new Iraqi congress and executive under the new and more or less agreed upon constitution, a national Iraqi army and police must be trained and made operational in sufficient numbers to preclude a civil war. It is not neccesary for the U S army to defeat the insurgency. It is neccesary that every remaining U S personell be dedicated to assisting in the process of standing up of Iraqi national institiutons. Those that are not accomplishing this should not be in-country. If Syria and Iran can be pressured into limiting their involvement this Iraqi army should be the single strongest force. US effort should be directed to keeping this army from breaking down into factional miltia. A focused disengagement should not be the same as washing our hands and bugging out.

Disengagment probably is not the administrations concept of victory, their vision undoubtedly involved staying in and in control of Iraqi affairs for a very long time to come. Withdrawal of the troops is a problem for some , and in this light Mr. Chalabi's recent visit to Washington Ahmad Chalabi's American Tour - He's back, and he's not sorry. By John Dickersonwhere he met with Cheney, Hadley, Rice and Rumsfeld should be read The Return of Ahmad Chalabi - New York Times.

Let all this reinforce this administrations real politik. The mendacity and bullying before and now. That gave them entrance to the global game they desired to play. Across the world they have their playing field. A road of brutality, which ought to have been left solely to the other side, runs through it. The unmerciful logic of small imperial wars and reverse engineering SERE school Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us - New York Times, leads to the gulag, the dissipation of the role of law BBC NEWS | Europe | EU warned on 'secret CIA jails'. As vice president Cheney's historical place in this is gradually unraveled; it will serve as a caution that the experience of living on a slippery slope is that you are at the bottom before you know you have left the top BBC NEWS | Middle East | Cheney accused on prisoner abuse. The answer to question 'which side are you on' -- is justice, truth, the good. Whose side do you speak for?

For general background see Wikpedia KKK . I came across a book Outrage, Passion and Uncommon Sense. Michael Gartner and the Newseum. Washington DC : National Geographic, 2005 (a compendium of newspaper editorials in American history) One editorial "Our Tom" introduced me to a Sen. Tom Heflin of Alabama, who (back in the 1920's) wasn't afraid to tell people, often catholics, they weren't real Americans, they weren't patriots.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Open Letter to the Washington Post

I have some left over discontent still with me after I finished the post I wrote about Prof Winners talk last week. More from the NYRevBook piece the end of News. It has to do with the print media's endless wingeing and hand wringing over putting up their content online - free - just hanging up there like wash on the line, where just anybody can read it, and for free. Without coins hitting the bucket. Its just killing them, you can tell. You'd think they weren't advertising: banner ads, panel ads, popup ads, ads in the RSS feeds. To the Washington Post then, paper of my metropolitian area, I address this simple open letter.

 I buy yer damn paper. I buy it every damn day, ok! Weekdays, Sundays Saturdays (well no not Saturdays). But you're right; I don't have a subscription. During the week I read it at lunch, buy it from the box in Tydings. Sundays, I buy it at the 7-11. You've got your money, we've killed trees together. I have seen the pages turn, heard the rustle, felt the oneness with the centuries of your tradition surrounding me.  Now please just let me link-reference the Universal resourse locator code of the electric world wide web version, so I may discuss your learned reporters eruditation with others (other than my co-workers who have heard quite enough). And quit roiling in anguish that you haven't yet hooked it up to a punishing enough profit scheme. In two weeks at any rate you will take it away to your for-pay-only vaulted archive. Where no one ought disturb a single comma or dotted i of any of it again. Its value dropping closer to absolute zero than even Lord Kelvin ever allowed for.

  A recent interview [from the Campus Progressive] I saw in alternet with Paul Krugman Alternet Wiretap: Five Minutes With: Paul Krugman he comments on being part of times select the New York Times subscription content features. This is a tool I suspect the Post would love to deploy. Krugman demonstrates he can be diplomatic.

[CP]: How do you feel about Times Select? We are a bit heart-broken about it.

[PK]: There's no question that for the columnists, Times Select was a really significant reduction in readership and it happened just as the dam is breaking on the indictments and all of that, and now people like Frank Rich and myself who would normally be emailed all over the place are suddenly behind a pay wall. On the other hand, the Times is a business, and it has to pay its way. It is encouraging that now columnists are a profit sector, because they can see who generates revenue. I would certainly have had more Internet hits by a large multiple right now if they hadn't put in Times Select, but I'm living with it

 Columnist David Brooks is in Times Select too. Of course it would never occur to me to exchange money for Brooks' meanderings, or go looking for him should I not find him in his accustomed place. So I just regard him as having lost grace with gravity and floated wanly off the planet. Therefore in the next fear and desire drenched death-of-our-bidness-model meeting you hold, do not assume either an instrinsic value to everything you supply, or with the other hand that the public has turned its back on value. They're just getting it, by small but gathering amounts, elsewhere.

1:38:41 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, November 21, 2005

I was about to write a post castigating myself for not having any Link Wray on my iPod, In the course of fact-checking this I see that I do, so I'm cancelling the post.

Link Wray, guitar pioneer 1929 -2005

11:59:45 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Rise of the Blogsphere Decline of Professional Journalism

I was able to get up to the talk last Wednesday: Rise of the Blogsphere, and the decline of professional journalism by Langdon Winner. He spoke for about an hour and then threw it to the floor for questions. Which is when I ducked out.

The main point of the talk was the romantized notion Americans have for technology, specifically democratizing technologies. Ways of communicating that will return us to a semblance of direct democracy. The blogsphere as town hall meeting. Who blogs, then is the next question. He pointed to Harvard Berkmann's center side project Global Voices which is a weblog which tracks what weblogs are talking about across the world In The US he pointed to the phenomenon of the political blog -wikpedia, he is a Political Science professor, after all. He named some of the usual suspects right and left. I always see these as embedded in the broader field of socially aware blogs. It seemed that he saw the distinction as between focused versus unfocused weblogs. I recalled because he referred to Pew trust surveys on web logs in the last election that there was a Pew Trust Data Memo out on Weblogs earlier in the year The State of Blogging that indicated that they align predominately male, broadband using, higher than average income and education (see also Pew Internet & American Life Project Report: Digital Divisionsn). What you get in the web logging world are a bunch of guys who are full of themselves. Which fits his next point: Does this extend the Freedom of the Press? Web logs provide a free, easy voice without gatekeepers. At the moment few would challenge the efficacy of blogs in shaping, changing the national agenda. Blog "Bombshell" narratives of dramatic undisclosed information that alter the landscape occur nearly every week. But it all seems so needy. Certaintly bloggers demonstrate a freedom from reluctance, reticence; a lack of it a least. It is this that pits the Upstart Blogs v. the Professional Media. For the Media there is widespread public skepticism of the product. Infotainment as substitute for news. Press conference, press release rewrites rather than any original reporting. Chronic failure to cover bigger long-term stories. Blantant bias; however subjectively perceived. Problematic close relations with source elites. Lastly a narrow bandwidth of acceptable opinion, a observable herding together inside the boundaries of which.

What has allowed this? One main cause: massive consolidation in ownership of the media. Less information is presented to the public in the marketplace of information, much of it self-serving. Nature abhors a vacuum. Web logs glimmering with that most prized attribute; newness are inhaled into that breech. A void extensive enough that blogs were granted a suspension of disbelief for possessing little polish or coherence (By all that is black and white and read all over; those J-school types know where to put a comma).

The problems of blogging or internet directed news gathering are outgrowths of what they replaced. Papers, big and small. Newspapers were notable for their inherant social spread a slice across the spectrum. The spatial facet, geography, dominated the newspaper world. In social uses of the internet - Virtual Communities across social class and geographical boundaries is the pattern that dominates. Selective browsing behavior is different from scanning behavior of a newspaper reader. Your reading, scanning, and noting behavior will still present the contours of the whole community to you. Your interests along with non interests. You unconsciously retain these as you read a paper. Web Logs represent a manifestation of rampant choice-directed comsumerism. You see only what responds to your searches and RSS feeds.

Another problem is the degree this feeds re-enforcing Behavior: In a course last fall he asked what web sites people were following for the election. Conservative self identifiers followed recognizably conservative online presences. Liberals did the same. Those who did not strongly identify one way or another tended not to follow politics online at all. In this Dr. Winner sees web loggers playing into the design strategy of division. The tactic of the elites, the regime, to control debate through artificial divisiveness. The logic of the gated community.

Quality and reliability are perhaps the biggest blocks to overcome if the amateur news sharing and analysis of weblogs is to gain ground from the professional media. What are the standards of judgement web loggers will choose to live by. There are two essentially. Conventions of Science/ Acadamia. Conventions of Journalism. For Academia It is summed up by rigor, what would get through peer review processes, what isn't plagerism. Allegiance to the scientific method. For Journalism it is fact-checking even under deadline, appreciating the threat of libel, use of multiple sources for accusations. Marking your reporting transparent. Living to these borrowed standards could make web logging - and the technologies that follow it a free democratic press that could claim significant permanent mindshare in society.

There are breeches, loopholes in the blogsphere already; the drudge effect, deliberately trading veracity for hitcounter ticks, corporate blogs. Daisy chaining blogs where similarly aligned web logs get hold of a stray fact and then endlessly echo it. All of this illustrates the adage that bad money/information will drive out good. Finally there is resurgent commercial media. I have been concerned at the number of papers and television news sites that have created beats that either cover web logs or cover the news as a web log - especially when I read the parent company sell this a service: "why read all those web logs - let our guy do it for you." Or "read x today - s/he's edgy and takes sides." This is tempting, perhaps it is even flattering, but it will kill whatever it is that web logging is if relied upon too much, because it seeks to co-opt the voices and absorb the medium.

The traditions of free speech value the variety of voices and experience. Against this the tendency leads to narrowing and privileging only some experience. The true believer syndrome captures some voices to a single monotone view which becomes it sole reason for being. Additionally what has been called 80-20 power law or A list B list rule (B links to A, but never A to B) steers the conversation to a handful of opinion leaders. I recall this was hashed out at length a few years ago the general feeling was that this is a natural process. Only some people have something to say and can say it well, the rest listen. I think what we are seeing here is the preexisting paths - ruts rather - priviledged in society. Playing out repeatedly. It is precisely this that unfettered free speech strives to break up.

This desire for Democratic renewal through technology pushes us up against the paradox of innovation: that paradoxes follow innovation. Greater equality and access feed dynamics that lead to fewer voices than before. Increased power ability to distribute (publish) may lead to reactions that effectively increase barriers.Early On-line optimism, Ideas of citizens as netizens of virtual communities interest domains are increasing replaced by nearly arbitrarily heightened pseudo-political conflict that has disrupted the sense of community. There is therefore constant need for better tools for self governance.

As I was reflecting on Winner's observations a Metafilter thread pointed to an article in the New York Review of Books: The End of News which examines in some detail the manner in which the news industry has been talked and chased out of their estate. That estate, an institution which provides the public with critical information on corporate and governmental power. And its transformation into one that essestially guards the latter against the former. It also demonstrates the power the news and entertainment industry have to shape the independant world of the internet into a facsimile of itself. The last point to make here is the example of Bob Woodward. There is perhaps no reporter in the world with the reputation Woodward has. Yet it is unlikely that he convinced anyone at all that he was serving the public or his profession by choosing not to reveal what he knew about a central Washington story several months running or allowing that he knew anything deciding that for him "job number one" was protecting his sources.

11:46:38 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Not dealing with it

Apparently there are no more police cars left in France to smash. Or it might be that French gas stations are no longer selling petrol by the bottle. The fires are gradually going out. This set of riots can be Frances' Hurricane Katrina. By the time the ramifications of all this have played out this will have cost France as much and affected it as profoundly.

France, elite France regime France, did not handle this very well Unrest brings French leaders under fire | The sense of that will only grow sharper over time. As the headlines from this indicate the story is one of racism and minority neglect. I can remember dimmly from my childhood what it was like to have the possibility of school desegration by forced busing raised before you. In enlightened Massachussets not the 'deep south' and you discover just how powerful un-confronted racism really is. American Racism has that special quality that only its own particular and peculiar institutions can give it, an almost defining uniqueness. But Frances has its pride. It has its industrial suburbs, its cities of light.

Toynbee talks of most cultures having internal and external proletariats. I admit Toynbee wrote 60 -70 years ago, but my grandfather had some of his books, I ended up with them and at some point I must have read them). Balancing, integrating, and controlling these populations was one of the critical tasks of a society. I think Toynbee regarded them as the problematic elements of a society, my own candidate would be the rich - always the most unreconstructed and alien portion of any society. Regardless; without these proletariats you cannot understand a society or how it functions. When a society tries to enforce a solution for its welfare and nationalism, draw the line between citizen, secondary citizens, and non citizen and square this against a dogma of democracy and fairness, justice. It will learn many things about itself Why France Is Burning. There are no nations within the EU which are as advanced in this respect as they may think A European melting pot? |

In the first days of these riots there were commentators like Mark (el cid) Steyn who echoing and amplifying the rhetoric of Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy talked of a new era, a pogrom for modern times. Islam didn't belong in the heart of europe it was time to drive it out. Let the clash of civilizations get started. These foreigners want only western paychecks not western principles or ideals, the cries went. What principles were they shown in Aubervilliers or other banlieues this last generation? What level of deprivation and deadened future must exist before people will burn down their own streets Behind French unrest, cries of racism, neglect - The Boston Globe. Well, I keep in mind an old comment that the poor will riot when they are starving, the bourgeoise when they run out of toothpaste. It takes everyone less then they may think, whenever you recognize you are angry, however justified or not , and take some action France's Youth Battles Also Waged on the Web.

I've seen the United States struggle with this painfully all my life. I have heard voices that say other nations do this better, or they say that we in the U S choose to be a hetrogenus nation and so are fated to exist on the cusp of chaos. There are no nations I know of that are comprised of a single folk, there are fault lines and fragile levees everywhere you look. You are only engaged with your real struggle, after the storm.

2:43:43 AM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, November 14, 2005
avocational training

We have somebody giving a talk in the building where I work on Wednesday. Langdon Winner from U. Cal Santa Barbara is speaking on: the Rise of the Blogsphere and Decline of Professional Journalism. He is a political science professor with UCSB and Rensselaer Polytechnic. This is at  2:00 pm rm 6137 Mckeldin Library Wednesday 16 Nov 05.

It certainly seems like it might be interesting. I have to find some way of finagling a hour or so off Wednesday afternoon now. Robert passed the flyer for this which he got in his inbox on to me. From the tease on the flyer Prof. Winner will allow that perhaps a handful of the 17 million blog sites around the world have begun to alter public discourse. He will discuss how we should view this seemingly demcratic medium.

Librarians like Robert get to just drop in on these things, I didn't get this flyer in my inbox. Clerks have to take personal leave to be away from their desks, and are generally discourged from thinking themselves to be in a place of learning.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005
Chilli Pop

 After several months of keeping an eye out for them, I finally found some Thalia brand Jolly Ranchers. That's Thalia Sodi the Mexican pop star. For those who missed my earlier musings on this. After having I discovered the existence of this Thalia, while watching spanish language broadcasts, specifically the show Pepsi Musica, I later came across the fact that she had an deal with Hersheys to lend her name to variants of Hersheys Kisses and Jolly Ranchers. The Jolly Ranchers were to be chilli enhanced. Frutas Enchiladas!

 Before this turns into some exercise in brand-blogging let me point out two things. First: my sister, niece and nephews (and Matt my nephew Grant's pal from across the street) - they all hated these. I think Raine thought I was trying to poison him. I've never seen a candy make a child look so sad. Well, yes I have: Sen-Sens the licorice candy, another favorite of mine. But that's another story. Second is what this means to me. Many (many) years ago on the ship, the USS Ranger CV 61, we had a case of jalapeno flavered lollipops. The circumstances of how we acquired these is somewhat lost to me now. I believe one of the Intell officers got them from his father who had ordered them believing he could sell them, then discovered he couldn't. So he turned them over to the Navy. The USS Ranger was home ported in San Diego. We gave them out to the Pilots and RAN's when they came down to debrief after a mission. Here among this crowd they were fully appreciated. By the time the box was gone - I think we had 500 of them to start - I was very fond of them and have thought about them ever since. They were green, set your entire head on fire and left a weird lingering neurological damage afterwards. There are some women I remember in much the same way.

 The original Thalia Jolly Ranchers, her picture is right on the bag framed in a heart, come in Limon, Mango, and Tamarind flavors all feature chilli powder as an essential ingridient. Myself, I liked them, they were all I wanted them to be, and I'm not entirely sure I know what a tamerind is. For others there was a second bag merely marked 'exotic' as opposed 'hot and spicy' fruits to which appear not to contain chilli. I left that bag in charge of my nephews and will get a report on that at a later date.

11:50:23 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, November 9, 2005
All reactionaries are paper tigers, except when they are a combo from Pedro

Article in todays Washington Post Pastor Convicted for Bible Printing the Chinese government have sentenced a man to three years in prison for selling Bibles - tens of thousands of them; illegal profiteering they say. Really more for printing them as he may have been just giving them away. The Chinese authorities seem to grasped the wrong end of the stick concerning what profits a man, but they seem to have figured out who they want to arrest. I say that possibly it is true what Chairman Mao says: All reactionaries are paper tigers. So this is what we will see in the end.

My friend Robert has been leaving comments. He does this to join the conversation and have his say. He at the same time is aware that potentially he may be nominated to the Supreme Court at any moment. After all he was an english major at Virgina Tech. This is an existential position we nearly all find ourselves in now. Therefore he chooses to leave an elliptical and coded paper trail.

Largely he speaks in chess games. This, because I don't play chess, has left me baffled at times. I suspect it is a matter of knowing when to play the kings indian, and when not to.

I can part the curtain a little, by trying to parse his last. After reading the earlier comment from Mr. Hager who for some reason wants me to help his client at Ipswitch understand real experiences in technical blogging techniques. At times I find web logging while intriguing (what I mean is fun) is almost too beholden to technology if not to technique to be useful as a medium for serious discourse. It is embedded in flux and unstable. It may be appreciated more by historians latter, rather than significant today.

Robert initially leverages a Monty Python skit riffing off of Ipswich, signaling he has read the post and noted the comment. Following this he deploys a line from the Minuteman Song Take our Test from their album Project Mersh. This functions both as a critical penultimate statement on this and as signifier that he believes that I used a Minuteman song title Jesus and Tequila to name that post. I'm sure that's just a coincidence, but it is true, I'm satisfied (more so if I could make her daddy mad). Latter he emails me a line from a Joel Achenbach column:

"The blog originated ... as a catch basin for mental detritus, for the kind of stuff not good enough for print, but too good to waste on casual conversation." (Joel Achenbach, /The Washington Post/, August 21, 2005)

I remember reading that article at the time. I believe it hung around on blogdex for a while indicting that other web loggers were writting about it. I didn't because I believe web logging is simply a different catagory of thing for people who have editors and paychecks in their writting lives.

All of this serves to underscore how much of a drag it will be next month when Robert cuts out of McKeldin here, to take up his new job cataloging books for GW Universities law library. No amount of money can buy you conversation like this.

11:53:52 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Sunday, November 6, 2005
Iran runs the Dozens

 The other day Iran vox status said to Israel: 'Israel: yo' momma so fat - you know how fat she fat that when she sits around the house - she sits around the house... and she ugly too.' Iranians from Tehran to Shiraz slapped their knees till it hurt. Funny funny stuff. Well you know, Iran doesn't get out much. Yet they wonder why the west is trying to prevent them from becoming armed with nuclear weapons.

What does it mean, Iran's return to demagogue politics. What is to gain by this behavior. It should be noted that this is a significant transgression. It is not just a politician saying this or that nation's leadership is wrong, their policies are misguided, their people misused. Rather at a national conference "World without Zionism" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares "Israel [is] to be wiped off the map" adding: "Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid." This is the logic of a child or drunkard Iran president stands by Israel remarks.

It is carte blanche for murder by the weak and impressionable at the very least. It seeks a scapegoat to cover any manner of vice or corrupt stupidity to erupt from Iran's leaders. It puts a spotlight on the ethics of irresponsibility. Why should Israel, why should any nation put up with this? Why should Israel the US or Western nations ignore this, as not concerning them? Why shouldn't this be recorded as proof of Iran's illegitimacy as a nation? What can Iran say as that charge is leveled.

The answer is that it means very little. There is little it can mean. "I don't think he understands that if he says something like this the world will hear him. I think he's still in mayor of Tehran mode." is how William Beeman quoted by the CS monitor puts it What's behind Iranian leader's anti-Israel rant | Its politics; all politics is local. Further as a useful general rule; foreign affairs discussions, offered publicly are domestic politics disguised. Genuine foreign affairs is rarely something a nations ruling elite or regime ever desires the public to become concerned with. The purpose is interior. Mr. Ahmadinejad is shoring up his base with rhetoric, not the only politician to do so, demonstrating initiative and leadership. Not to a small extent understood as protection to the status of the clerics. And as well an attempt to flush out and exercise internal dissent How radical can Iran's president go?. I imagine there are reasons for this. To become a nuclear power (by taking control of Iran's nuclear negotiations). To maintain Iran's insularity in the face of pressures to normalize and globalize. To assert Shiia leadership across the Islamic world.

Most people could agree that from a certain perspective those thing may seem like prizes. Can anything good; though, ever come from such an approach, is this misdirection, deception, and phantoms a way to the good? In return the Iranian people are not made safer, do not increase their well being, and sacrifice honor and dignity by calling for unity given by the power of hatred.

"Justice is first of all in the division of good things" -- Al Farabi (aphorisms of the statesman)

11:52:52 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Tamiflu or Jesus and Tequila?

Since this influenza rhubarb is still with us More bird flu in Russia, UN says keep focus on Asia, it seems it might be worthwhile to read through some of the articles that are popping up on this, rather than just graze the headlines like I normally do. It's not just print media but radio Bush decides to be prepared for bird flu(marketplace) and tv as well. Columnist Anne Applebaum in a piece last week Silver Flu Bullets puts it down to the President's reading a book and being compelled to action by it.

"As far as I can ascertain, much of this happened because the president and his Cabinet colleague had recently read John Barry's excellent book "The Great Influenza," on the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. But while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the president reading books (it's possibly a better use of presidential time than mountain biking), a week's worth of publicity doesn't substitute for many years of sustained collaboration between the government, the pharmaceutical industry and the rest of the research community."

The message that comes parallel and packaged in various article that while experts and policy leaders judge that an influenza pandemic will probably not occur this year or next year, eventually it will. They are not crying wolf so much as trying to put an infrastucture in place to deal with it.

Applebaum's main point in her column is that we need to get beyond the short term and tamiflu solutions. We have to change our attitude toward the pharmacuetical industry let them have the motavation and freedom of action they need to sort out how they will solve this problem. And not encourage political leaders to hamstring them by playing to our prejudices. Also we need to avoid changing our attitude about science, natural selction and genetics. This reminded me that its problematic to talk about viruses jumping from one species to another or possessing abilities to do things. Viruses do not learn or demonstrate skill. It takes some understanding just to talk about the problem and not create unhelpful misconceptions.

President Bush meanwhile is holding press conferences to announce new initiatives on this issue: Bush Calls for $7.1 Billion to Prepare for Bird Flu Threat, and similarly in the Washington Post Bush Outlines $7.1 Billion in Flu Preparations . It's not a lot of money but still, its a sacrifice of his time and attention from other pressing things. I'm sure he would rather have held that press conference to answer questions about the White House Iraqi group and its role in the war, or the decision making partnership between the executive and certain magazine and newspaper columnists.

On an completely unrelated note Donald Rumsfeld owns stock in Gilead Sciences inc. the bio-pharm co. that owns the patent to Tamilflu Rumsfeld to Avoid Bird-Flu Drug Issues - New York Times . He was Gilead's chairman before coming to his current job. Small world.

11:43:59 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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2005 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 12/6/05; 10:56:29 PM.