• Thinking About, Speaking About, Acting On Terror

    Sherle Schwenniger's expansive article on a foreign policy for the Democrats is certainly the best thing I've read in the genre. I'll be saying a lot about it in the next few days (there is, unfortunately for all of you, lots to be said), but today let's do terrorism. With regard to the Middle East in general, we must extract ourselves from what could escalate into what many Arabs see as a civilizational war with the Islamic world. This, however, does not mean disengaging, but rather repositioning the United States to be less of an overbearing dominant power. Our strategy toward Islamic jihadism ought to consist of lowering America's profile in the region and patiently containing bin Ladenism as it slowly loses its allure by being denied the foreign imperial enemy it needs in order to succeed. And the best way to lower our profile, without sacrificing any legitimate American interests, is to internationalize as much as possible US policy toward the Middle East--to reduce America's...
  • Nice Guys Finish Last/First/Middle

    So you know that annoying guy who elbows into the circle as the conversation winds down and excitedly demands to know what you're talking about? That's me. And I've got an opinion on it, too. You're talking about nice guys , aren't you? As previously noted, till 16 I was a large, large kid. And, as so many of us heavy ones are, I was also a nice guy. Unlike all the bastards who got girls, I knew I'd treat them to flowers and chocolate, candy and consideration. Didn't help much. But, again following stereotype, I latched onto a hot friend and became her good buddy. As happens, I developed a huge crush on her. As happens, it was not reciprocated. As happens, I was crushed. Best thing that ever happened to me. It's why I lost my weight. After weight loss, though, I realized I still didn't know how to talk to girls, what to do when they approached me, etc. I had kinda thrown myself into the deep end. So I studied it. I watched who had sexual success and who didn't, I tried to find common...
  • Wrong Audience

    RNC Chair Ken Mehlman apparently went before the NAACP yesterday to apologize for Nixon's Southern Strategy. Republicans, he said, were wrong to use race as a wedge. Phony. When Mehlman goes before Southern whites and says it was wrong to use race as a wedge issue, then I'll buy his sincerity. The test here isn't whether he can pander to those he offended, but whether he can confront those who flocked to the offense. Apologizing for embezzlement while living off the cash is not the most powerful of moral statements.
  • Home Sweet Home

    I've made it. Though Delta lost my bag on the way there and made me miss my connection on the way back, I nevertheless pulled a Homeward Bound and fought through the hardship. The conference was great: watch Clinton's speech here , and stay tuned for my panel to pop up on the same page. Moreover, as I stood in line to board my flight back, I saw Karen Hughes chatting with someone. "Huh," I chuckled, "only in DC". At which point I promptly got on the plane, took my seat, turned around, turned around again, turned a third time, and finally greeted John Lewis. Huge thanks, of course, to Neil, who did a bang-up job on the site and gave me the peace of mind needed to focus on the conference. He's the man and you should read him at his place .
  • Returning Islam to Greatness

    As my mother was frying up the karela today, she mentioned that the London bombers all appear to be British men of Pakistani origin. One of them, as she said, had an eight-month-old child. Another, who killed seven people, came from a family that owned a fish-and-chip shop. A third, who killed thirteen people, told his parents that he was going to London to attend a religious studies seminar. When they couldn't contact him after the bombings, they called police to report him missing. There's a tendency to see our current struggles against terrorism as part of some great clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, in which two civilizations go in and only one will come out alive. It's manifest, explicitly or implicitly, in almost everything Tacitus writes -- Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields. I think not. About me, I see older Scots with a steely flint in their eyes. The...
  • Good Work Harry

    In the wake of the Rove scandal, Senate Democrats are introducing a bill to deny security clearances to officials who blow the cover of secret agents. This shouldn't be an especially controversial issue, and I'm glad to see our people doing things that call the Republicans on compromising national security for political gain. -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • The Cooper and the Rove

    Hey folks. Conference going well, plane home in a few hours, very tired. Many thanks to Neil, who's been doing a bang-up job on the site. I'll be back tomorrow morn. But here's a piece I wrote on the way here but haven't been able to publish: enjoy.
  • Pronunciation

    How do you pronounce "Iraq"? Specifically, how do you pronounce the last syllable? Is it "Rack" or something closer to "Rock"? (If you pronounce the vowel like the a in "father", I'll put you on the "Rock" team -- I think that's closer to the short "o" than to the short "a".) George W. Bush, as we know, says "Rack." I was just thinking that people used to pronounce it differently before he became President. Sure enough, Bill Clinton said "Rock." Linguist Geoff Nunberg avers that "Rock" is slightly closer to the correct pronunciation (he says it's rawq). My sense is that "Rack" is much more common in the media today, though I only rarely watch TV, so I could be wrong. I'm curious to see how this transition took place. It'd be really interesting if the Fox News people switched their pronunciation to cover Bush, and the rest of the media followed suit. -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • Lambert!

    Australian computer scientist Tim Lambert is one of the more underrated bloggers I know of. He does a lot of fairly technical work, chasing down statistical mistakes made by sloppy or devious right-wing hack scientists. One of the neatest cases was when he caught some global warming deniers plugging in angle measurements in degrees when their software demanded radians , thereby rendering enormous amounts of their data invalid. It's about a year old, but it's still a neat story to look at if you didn't see it when it came out. The more amusing story is about how he helped to catch gun control opponent John Lott using "Mary Rosh" and other pseudonyms to promote his fraudulent work over the internet. -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • Wheel of Regime Change

    Reading recent Matt Yglesias posts on Tapped, I wonder if there's a Wheel of Regime Change located in the basement of some right-wing think tank. The game is to spin it and write an article about how we should invade the country whose name comes up. (Occasionally a writer spins it too many times , and has to write about all the countries.) While this may be fun, it is not the way to generate good advice on foreign policy. Apparently, some basic points about the way invasions go are being widely missed. When you invade a country and remove the head bad guy, that doesn't mean you win. You just create a power vacuum which every other random thuglord in the country wants to fill. Al-Qaeda's influence rises, as they generally aren't looked on well by stable governments anywhere, and they grow unchecked in times of chaos. You also have to tangle with nationalistic/religious types who are suspicious of your motives and don't like being invaded. ( Robert Pape , who knows more about suicide...