Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Aaronovitch on John Laughland

John Laughland is one of those right-wing cranks that have become popular with the Spooky Left.

David Aaronovitch invsetigates Laughland's background -
And what we seem to have in Laughland and his associates is a group of right-wing anti-state libertarians and isolationists, suspicious of any foreign entanglements, who have somehow morphed into apologists for the worst regimes and most appalling dictators on the planet.

And where does it all end up? A couple of weeks ago Sanders commended to his clients "John Laughland's series of articles [showing that] the attack on Iraq is just the southern offensive of a larger campaign to tighten the noose on Russia." And he continued, "What is less well understood are the risks that the unravelling political compact in Israel poses for the United States and Great Britain, whose political processes, intelligence services, military, media and financial establishments are so thoroughly enmeshed with Israel's."

Read that last sentence again and then ask yourself: in what way are Britain's media and financial interests "thoroughly enmeshed" with Israel's?
The really strange thing with Spook is the association it has with the fringe Right.

The US and Europe

Via PooterGeek, Robert Kagan on US-Europe relations -
To address today's global dangers, Americans will need the legitimacy that Europe can provide, but Europeans may well fail to grant it. In their effort to constrain the superpower, they might lose sight of the mounting dangers in the world, which are far greater than those posed by the United States. Out of nervousness about unipolarity, they might underestimate the dangers of a multipolar system in which nonliberal and nondemocratic powers would come to outweigh Europe. Out of passion for the international legal order, they might forget the other liberal principles that have made postmodern Europe what it is today. Europeans might succeed in debilitating the United States this way. But since they have no intention of supplementing its power with their own, in doing so they would only succeed in weakening the overall power that the liberal democratic world can wield in its defense -- and in defense of liberalism itself.

The Nation vs Dissent Magazine

I've pretty much given up on The Nation. I find the gushy sentimentality of editor Katrina vanden Heuvel not to my taste. It's position on Israel is also hard to take.

Eric Alterman
The Nation magazine's back of the book (and occasionally, editorials) continues its single-minded assault on any and every writer or intellectual who begs to differ with Noam Chomsky, my late friend Edward Said, or even, God help us, Alexander Cockburn on what constitutes a realistic settlement of the Middle East conflict, particularly those American Jews associated with the Israeli peace camp, the democratic left, and Dissent magazine.
I much prefer Dissent Magazine.

Environmental groups and anti-science

One of the problems with environmental groups (and the Green Party) is the tendency to ignore science when it goes against their religious naturalism.

This in The Guardian:
Environmental organisations reacted angrily today to claims that a newly published study on genetically modified crops in Britain presented no evidence that they harm the environment.
Think of this the next time someone criticises Bush for not approving State funding for stem cell research.

The Left's problem with Evolution

We all know that there are some on the Right who have a problem with evolution. But the Left is reluctant to acknowledge that many in that part of the political spectrum are also unhappy with Darwin.

This post by Kevin Drum is indicative. Although he himself appears to accept the importance of biology in influencing behaviour, the comment thread is evidence that his readership is not so convinced.

Another Right-wing wacko popular with the Left

Like John Laughland, Eric Margolis is a Right-wing crank who has found favour with the Left because he is anti-Bush. This is classic right-wing Romantic Nationalism -
Ukrainians, at least western Ukrainians, are a distinct, effervescent people of high culture that brought civilization and Christianity to Russia. Ukraine's Cossack origins imbue this feisty people with a fierce love of freedom, a rejection of authority, a profound romanticism, and a dashing spirit of adventure that make them seem more French than East European.
Those western Ukrainians, not like the uncivilised eastern Ukrainians.

UN reform

There was a brief item on Radio NZ this morning on reform of the UN. It sounds promising.

One factor in the rise of the Liberal hawk phenomenon was the inability of the UN to act in such cases as Bosnia and Rwanda. It took the action of the US and Britain to finally deal to Melosevic - an act many on the Left opposed and the failure of Clinton to act unilaterally in Rwanda was the low point in his presidency.

If the UN has the ability to make decisions and act on them that would go a long way towards getting the US to act more multilaterally.

Monday, November 29, 2004

New Caledonia Posted by Hello

New Caledonia Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Aaronovitch on the Ukraine

The relentlessly sane David Aaronovitch on the Ukraine -
With two candidates, both called Viktor, battling each other for the presidency and their partisans making accusations about each other, you look for a story to make sense of it all. One of the most obviously available is 'pro-Western democrats struggle for freedom against corrupt hang-overs of previous regime', and another - increasingly popular on the left - is 'warring factions in divided country head for civil war, intervene at your peril'. In the post-Iraq world these two narratives can also be fairly easily reduced still further into 'pro' and 'anti' American.

Somewhere in the middle of these stories is the place itself and its people, 48 million of them...

Note to No Right Turn

No Right Turn should be cautious about which Right-wing crank he links to for support.

But don't take my word for it.

And just to confirm how much the Left sounds like the Right these days the Guardian helpfully also published the Left-wing view of why it's all the fault of the US.

Laughland on the Right, Steele on the Left. Same thing.

Laughland is also the owner of Sanders Research Associates, contributors to Scoop. The small world of crankdom.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Where there's smoke

In the Scoop article defending their dubious sources, Gerald Thorns - one such source says:
I am not a paedophile and I can look myself in the eye anytime.
I think we'll be hearing a bit more about this Gerald Thorns. I wonder how it will all turn out for Scoop

Hager - more paranoid than Scoop

If that's possible.

I hadn't realised that Nicky Hager is involved with all the SIS conspiracy stuff. Enough said.

His co-author is also a loop - Anthony Hubbard.

Scoop editors deranged

I have always thought those heroes of the NZ Left at Scoop were deranged paranoids.

I rest my case

Friday, November 19, 2004

Off to New Caledonia

So won't be blogging much for a week.

But I will be spreading the word to those cheese-eating surrender monkeys that Right-wing Chirac is no match for Centre-Left Blair.

Go Helen

Helen Clark mops floor with Kim Hill

It's a pity Zaoui couldn't pick his friends a bit better. Keith Locke, Gordon Campbell, Scoop. Yike.

Legalise opiates

Afghanistan: a nation abandoned to drugs

Opiates are severely less worrying than P. Legalisation would probably result in in a drop in prices but with the lead that Afghanistan has they should still do well.


yeah, right

Latest Fisk

Innocence lost
No, of course we cannot say that Mr Fisk was involved in Mrs Hassan's death, even though he would have hated her political views. Just because Robert Fisk is widely believed to have executed seven prisoners - he denies this - should not suggest he would ever have a hand in so terrible a deed. But the question has to be answered: Who killed Margaret Hassan?"
Actually I don't think this is entirely accurate, Fisk has never denied killing seven prisoners.

The Evolution of Stories

Normblog links to Dennis Dutton's review of Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature
He [the author, Joseph Carroll ] is able to demonstrate how a knowledge of Darwinian mechanisms shines light on some of the most cherished aesthetic emotions and experiences we are capable of feeling — and he does it without impoverished reductionisms, without making the endlessly complex seem stupidly simple.

Moral Relativism II

I watched the anti-death penalty film Dead Man Walking last night. Purely by chance, I'm no fan of Sarandon and Penn in their liberal mode.

Penn's character has been given the death penalty for the brutal acts of rape and murder.

During the execution scene, where Penn's character is portrayed in a Christ-like manner (he's dying for our sins apparently), the film intercuts flashbacks of the crime with the execution by lethal injection. The deliberate point the movie is trying to make is that these two acts, the crime and the punishment, are morally equivalent. The moral relativist argument.

Now, I'm an opponent of the death penalty but this is the weakest argument against it there is. There is no way most people would consider the brutal crime of rape and murder can be equated to the death penalty. There is a difference.

If I see one more movie featuring Hollywood liberals attempting to use the argument of moral relativism to oppose the death penalty I'd be tempted to reconsider my views.

The biology of politics

Via Gene Exprssion, a review of Dawkins vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest
...the source of the fury against behavior as biologically influenced is pure politics. It is a passionate rejection of the idea that natural science can, and should, be employed in the effort to understand, not only the human biological past, but its social present and future.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Just Left

Just Left have a post on Iraq well worth reading.

Since I do go on a bit about what I see as the sorry state of some on the Left it's only right to acknowledge the good stuff.

Moral Relativism

No Right Turn has a response to a recent post. As usual it's well reasoned. Naturally I don't agree with parts of it but I'll have to hold off replying until I have a bit more time.

Scoop once more

It really is beyond belief that Scoop's Co-Editor Alastair Thompson can get away with such paranoid ramblings.


Al-Jazeera has had the Marine shooting incident on high rotate - the whole thing.

In contrast they have not shown the murder of Margaret Hassan. I suppose being a Muslim and had spending 30 years helping Iraqis makes is not so important to Al-Jazeera.

Western liberals have made much of how Al-Jazeera is some sort welcome relief from the evils of Western media. Which just goes to show how naive many liberals are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Evolution and Orgasms

This review in Slate of the book O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm -

A history of the orgasm completely misses the point.

shows how liberals have problems with Darwin just as much as the Christian Right:
...sexual fulfillment and the infinite variety of human expectations and coupling arrangements are not something that need, or can, be explained by evolutionary biology.
Note the anti-science "need" and "can". Surely the only way we can find out is by attempting to but even then the reviewer believes we shouldn't even try.

One could argue the same about evolution as a whole: why should we "need" to explain our origins?

Was Darwin wrong?

So asks the latest National Geographic.

Evolution and Homosexuality

Evidence for maternally inherited factors favouring male homosexuality and promoting female fecundity
The Darwinian paradox of male homosexuality in humans is examined, i.e. if male homosexuality has a genetic component and homosexuals reproduce less than heterosexuals, then why is this trait maintained in the population?

Does morality have a biological basis?

In parer for the Royal Society, John Tooby, Leda Cosmides and Debra Lieberman ask the question -
Are our moral attitudes shaped by culture alone, or does our evolved psychology help generate them?
If you think that parts of the Right have a problem with evolution look out for the Left's reaction.

Empires, Economics, Evolution

A review of the book Nature: An Economic History written by Geerat Vermeij, a geologist -
Whether our field is natural history, human history, evolutionary biology or economics, we grapple with similar phenomena, with growth and decline, competition and cooperation, economic inequality and the disproportionate influence of the rich and powerful.

Talking of war crimes

The out-pouring of liberal outrage over an alleged war crime by a US soldier stands in marked contrast to the complete lack of outrage over the discovery of the mutilated corpse of a woman hostage.

The soldier will be held to account for any misdeed. That's the difference between a liberal democracy and terrorism. A distinction many liberals have forgotten.

Colin Powell - now he's the Left's hero

Rupert Cornwell's piece is typical of the current liberal love-fest for Powell.

Apparently he wasn't such an evil person after all. I'm not sure whether Cornwell's condescension is any less unpleasant than the previous hatred.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Scoop's Right-wing competition

Just in case it needed proving that the Crazy Left is just the same as the Crazy Right check out Scoop's Right-wing conspiracy equivalent -

Investigate Magazine

Best headline of the day

Rate of molecular evolution of the seminal protein gene SEMG2 correlates with levels of female promiscuity
It has been argued that this finely orchestrated process of postcopulatory semen coagulation and subsequent dissolution of the coagulum is crucial in preventing fertilization of a recently inseminated female by rival males in subsequent copulations

Iran - my two cents

Iran is playing for time and playing the Europeans for fools. They are determined to develop nuclear weapons and will do so if more forceful persuasion doesn't come from the US, Britain and Israel.


Bush out-flanks the Dems again.

The liberal pundocracy will froth that Condi is incompetent just as they have frothed that the new Attorney General is an "evangelical".

The moderate voter will instead concentrate on the most important issue - a black woman and a latino man at the pinnacle of the US political system. I don't think that means more votes for the Dems.

Iraena Asher

I think NZPundit gets it wrong over the Police and Iraena Asher issue.

Although I can sympathise with NZP's antipathy towards Police-bashing liberals, the way he deals with the mental illness question is way off beam.

I heard a paranoid depressive spouting lots of therapeutic psychobabble (that she's obviously picked up from some counsellor) in a conversation riddled with the perceived affronts and sleights that any person with experience of the mentally ill will be well familiar with.
Iraena Asher's state of mind may well have been the result of mental illness and not of any real threat. However, any person in such a state of mind is potentially a threat to themselves and others.

Modern metal health treatment is based on including those suffering such an illness in the care planning process. One aspect is to encourage them to learn what the early signs are of their illness and to seek appropriate support. Clearly Iraena Asher was seeking support. But the way in which she sought that support was of course filtered through a troubled mind.

I have, in a professional capacity, seen the interaction of the Police with people with mental health problems and they have always acted in a professional and therapeutic manner. In this instance, however, a mistake was made.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Lite blogging

For the next few days.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Guardian can't help itself

It's a pity that The Guardian's headline Blair's tribute to Arafat breaks ranks with Bush is not actually substantiated by the story itself.

Nowhere is there a hint of any breaking of ranks.

Compare Bush's comment on Arafat's death -
a significant moment in Palestinian history
(characterised negatively as ambiguous), with Blair -
Tony Blair paid tribute to "a huge icon for the Palestinian people" yesterday, while suggesting that the death of Yasser Arafat had created an opportunity.
The Guardian seems to believe that this is a more fitting and generous assessment than that of Bush. And Clinton who, unlike Bush, actually crticises Arafat doesn't come in for any flak.

The Guardian just has to paint Bush in a bad light no matter what.

Bush - one more lie

In The Guardian -

Bush: Palestinian state possible in four years.

What's the bet it takes less than 4 years. What a liar.

One last (positive) post on Arafat

Via Eric Alterman, what he describes as a "measured approach to Yasir Arafat", and I tend to agree -

Seizing the Post-Arafat Moment

On the origins of the conflict -
The Palestinians exist, just as the Israelis do, and they claim the same land as their national home. The good news is that significant majorities in both communities now recognize that the only way that they can achieve peace and security in that home is by dividing it into two states.

The Jews recognized that from the beginning. With the exception of a small minority, the early Zionists supported sharing Palestine. Repeatedly, and without exception, the yishuv (the Jews of pre-state Israel) accepted plans to divide the land offered by the British and, ultimately, by the United Nations. Without exception the Palestinian leadership said “no.”

It was that rejection by the Palestinians that produced a series of bloody Arab-Israeli wars. Every Arab-Israeli war from 1947 onwards had at its foundation the idea that the Jewish presence anywhere in Palestine was illegitimate.
And on Arafat's achievement -
Despite the four year intifada and the general collapse in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the deal fostered by Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin transformed Israeli-Palestinian relations forever. Neither side has suggested a return to the days of non-recognition.

This mutual recognition is no small thing. Without it, there would not even be the possibility of negotiations. This is the lasting legacy of the Rabin-Arafat handshake.

Root Causes

The murder of Theo van Gogh should be the final nail in the terrorism and "root causes" argument.

Micahael Leeden -
We have seen this sort before; Mohammed B. [van Gogh's killer] is the Dutch-Moroccan version of the British-Pakistani killer of Daniel Pearl. Both came from good families that had to all appearances successfully assimilated into Western society. Both were well educated and upwardly mobile. Both had money and opportunity. Neither suffered unusual discrimination. Both lived in politically correct, meticulously tolerant societies that permitted no intrusion on their private lives. There was no apparent reason, either psychological or sociological, why either should have become a killer. Yet each freely chose — freely chose — to become a terrorist.
These people have different, non-liberal in the extreme, values. They are not the poor oppressed who need to be understood.

Ragout on Cole & terrorism

Ragout has a good post on Juan Cole's tendency to get things wrong outside his area of expertise -

Why do They Hate Us? Does Juan Cole Have the Answer?

Who discovered Australia?

Muslims according to the Mufti of Australia and New Zealand,

Hat tip Gene Expression.

The Mufti claims -
...Islam had roots deep in the Australian soil and read the Qur'an and called to prayer before the bells of the churches rang in Australia. The best evidence of this is the hundreds of mosques in the center of Australia built by the Afghans. Some of them were destroyed, and others were turned into Australian archeological museums, and still others remained unharmed, and they bear a history that proves that Islam has roots and ancient connections to Australia.
And the Mufti on the evils of Western life -
More dangerous yet are the sex education classes in the schools. In the West, the society is divided, generally speaking, into different parts in accordance with how interesting they are. First comes caring for dogs and cats. In second place is the woman, and in third place is the child, and in fourth place is the male. Australia is one of the Western societies, and it has recently enacted laws allowing men to marry men and women to marry women. The church officially registers them... These are the dangers of freedom and permissiveness.
What a horror, instead of stoning to death gays the West allows them to marry!

There's the usual tirade against Israel and how Jews control the media that you come across on extreme Left-wing sites as well.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Kevin Drum on the stolen election

Rove must by now believe the 2008 election is sewn up if he's been taking any notice of what's happening over at Political Animal. It's Kevin Drum's equivocation on the issue which is the most disappointing.

I doubt whether the Dems will do any better next time round with their "we wuz robbed" attitude.

Scoop goes even more crazy

The Scoop editors are well and truly off their Risperidone. Now they are alleging that their "intelligence sources" have informed them that the Government is spying on the Maori Party -

Intelligence Sources Say SIS Investigating Maori Party

Even for a conspiracy site this is pretty weird. No evidence of course.

UPDATE: Today Tariana Turia is saying she first learnt of the SIS allegations from the Intelligence Sources Say SIS Investigating Maori Party story. But in that story, written yesterday, Selwyn Manning claims
Scoop understands Tariana Turia is aware of suggestions her Party is under surveillance.
Well clearly this was not true.

Bush and Arafat

The best commentary I have read so far is this in Haaretz -

Bush and Arafat: A hate-hate relationship

Arafat did himself and his cause no good by alienating first Clinton and then Bush. He did not seem to be able to grasp the horrendous damage he would do by actions such as supporting Saddam Hussein.

It's probably worth remembering that the latest round of Palestinian violence began when Clinton and the Israeli Labour party, the peace brokers, were still in power. Little wonder that Bush has taken a different approach.


I won't speak ill of the dead. He was the brand of the Palestinian cause. In later years he accepted the reality of Israel's existence and tried to move the liberation movement towards diplomacy rather than guns. I don't think he personally was corrupt but many around him were.

email address

Norm has asked for my email address which is neilnz(at)hotmaildotcom

I gather that's the sort of thing to do to stop spammers.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Climate change

Ronald Bailey in Reasonhas an article skeptical of the current global warming orthodoxy -

Two Sides to Global Warming - Is it proven fact, or just conventional wisdom?

I've generally thought that there was some truth to the global warming theory but have become a little less sure. Part of the trouble is that the issue has become so politicised. For some global warming is an article of faith.

Peter Haine interview

I caught the Jeff Robinson interview with British Labour MP Peter Haine this morning.

Great to see such an intelligent person in the ranks of the centre-Left.

The Netherlands

With all the talk of the election and religion in the US I haven't paid much attention to what's happening in Netherlands.

The IHT article For Dutch, anger battles with tolerance provides a good summary.

It really is remarkable, first the assassination of Fortuyn by someone from the extreme Left and now van Gogh's murder by religious zealots. And the Netherlands has been considered a model of liberalism.

Interesting to compare the situation there with the US where there has not been anywhere near that level of political violence.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Can't please some

Simon Tisdall, lefty writer for The Guardian, was against US military intervention in Iraq for the high-minded reasons of there being no UN mandate and no French involvement.

But even with both of these he's not happy - Stuck in France's orbit: a depressingly circular history.

Vote Fraud Conspiracy

Who to believe?

Sane pro-Kerry website


Crazy paranoid website

Stalinist on bFM

bFM Wire features "highly regarded" extreme left winger Robert Jensen whose work features on many Stalinist websites.

This one's great:

U.S. A Global Bully; Attacks On Iraq Violate Law

Another Bush hater? Not quite. This was written in 1999. It's about Clinton.

And this one:

The United States, a terrorist nation

1998. That evil Clinton again.

Highly regarded if you're a Stalinist I suppose.

Aging Monkeys

This quote in The Guardian from someone objecting to the teaching of evolution:
"God created earth and man in his image," another parent, Patricia Fuller, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Leave this garbage out of the textbooks. I don't want anybody taking care of me in a nursing home some day to think I came from a monkey."
I wonder what difference she thinks it would make for the nursing home staff. Compulsory bananas? Endless Planet of the Apes reruns?

Root Causes

On TV last night there was an item on Van Gogh's murder. There was a brief interview with a Socialist MP who recommended that we address the "root causes" of the murderers.

Right. And maybe while we're at it we could address the "root causes" of Right-wing Christians who shoot people who work in abortion clinics. I'm sure we've misunderstood and oppressed their culture and religion as well.

Normblog links to a Havard Uni study into the causes of terrorism:
Freedom squelches terrorist violence


Via Harry's Place, Van Gogh's film is available online -


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Monbiot on Puritanism and Bush

I agree with more of George Monbiot's latest - Puritanism of the rich - than I normally do but his last paragraph raises more questions than it answers:
So why has this ideology resurfaced in 2004? Because it has to. The enrichment of the elite and impoverishment of the lower classes requires a justifying ideology if it is to be sustained. In the US this ideology has to be a religious one. Bush's government is forced back to the doctrines of Puritanism as an historical necessity.
What exactly is the mechanism by which this process could possibly occur? Have all of Bush's team sat around saying "We need an ideology, how about Puritanism". Unlikely. Monbiot presumably is implying something more subtle, more subliminal.

Gay marriage not the determining factor

More on how it wasn't "moral values" that determined the election in Slate
...a 10-point increase in the percentage of voters citing terrorism as the most important problem translates into a 3-point Bush gain. A 10-point increase in morality voters, on the other hand, has no effect. Nor does putting an anti-gay-marriage measure on the ballot. So, if you want to understand why Bush was re-elected, stop obsessing about the morality gap and start looking at the terrorism gap.
Also, in The New York Times there's an op-ed on how the moral values exit poll result was way off - A Question of Values. Essentially the question was too broad.

Kevin Drum is drawing much the same conclusion.

God and the Electorate

In The New York Times
In a majoritarian system like ours, political economists generally predict that candidates will converge toward the center of the spectrum, so as to attract as many votes as possible. This is the "median voter theory." But it doesn't seem to describe what's happened in American politics. On divisive religious issues like abortion, the two parties aren't hugging the center. They're abandoning it.
"If every time you say something in private to a religious group or a feminist group, it ends up on Drudge within three minutes in screaming headlines," Professor Glaeser said. "It's going to stop people from going to extremes."

A Communist perspective

Amos Oz

In The New Yorker a very good article on Amos Oz.

How to make geology interesting

As part of my day job I'm making a TV programme on geology aimed at senior high school and 1st year Uni students. Its aim is to encourage students to take geology and also to impart some fundamentals of the subject.

It uses the geology of the Auckland isthmus as a starting point.

I would be interested to know if anyone reading this blog has any suggestions on what might be included, what sort of questions they might want answered.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Scoop Paranoia - Good News for Bush

Conspiracy Central is now calling the US election a "coup".

This attitude will enhance the chances of a Republican win next time round.

The more time the anti-Bush crowd spend on fabricating conspiracy theories then the less time the will have for dealing with the real world, where elections take place. They will also give the Left a bad name, much like Michael Moore achieved.

The new myth of Bush and religion

The handy new myth explaining why the Dems lost is that it's all because Rove mobilised the religious gay-haters.

Even Conspiracy Central is having a hard time pushing the alternative liberal explanation of voting fraud. Although Russell Brown thoughtfully leaves that door wide open.

There is probably little point in making the obvious link to David Aaronovitch's view on all of this - No, it wasn't God.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Liberals or Right-wing Christians - who's scarier?

This on Joan Baez from Reason -

She gwine tell de folks how dat ol' missuh prez'dent be a debbil!

I tend to think a large part of why liberals have a bad name is to do with the 60s and its remnants.

Combating Creationism and Intelligent Design

From Panda's Thumb the American Society for Cell Biology has a web resource page on Creationism and Intelligent Design.

Is Bush "anti-Science"?

Some groups such as the anti-GE environmental lobby group Union of Concerned Scientists think so but Thrasymachus over at very pro-evolution Gene Expression is not so sure.

UPDATE: In Reason, a not uncritical look at Bush's science policy:

George W. Bush, Man of Science
Appointments to scientific advisory committees aside—overlooking the irony of a group of scientists endorsing Senator John Kerry for president because President Bush has "politicized" science—has the Bush administration done anything all that different from past administrations? "[I]t is increasingly impossible to ignore that this White House disdains research that inconveniences it," magisterially declared the editors of Scientific American. But the Bush administration is not the first administration to allegedly "disdain" scientific evidence. As I described earlier, the Clinton administration fired scientists who didn't agree with its take on ozone depletion, denied federal funding for research on human embryos that a federal advisory body recommended, and jiggered studies on second-hand cigarette smoke until it got the result it wanted.

Bush's votes 2000/2004

From normblog

Bush 2000 / Bush 2004

African-Americans: 8% / 11%
Whites: 54% / 58%
Hispanic: 41% / 44%
Married: 53% / 56%
Not Married: 38% / 40%
Union Members: 37% / 40%
Gays: 25% / 23%
Gun Owners: 61% / 67%
Protestants: 63% / 59%
Jewish: 19% / 25%
Catholics: 45% / 52%
Republicans: 91% / 93%
Democrats: 10% / 11%
Men: 51% / 55%
Women: 43% / 48%
18-29 year olds: 46% / 45%
30-44 year olds: 49% / 53%
45-59 year olds: 49% / 51%
Over 60s: 47% / 54%

It's interesting to see that Bush scored less with Protestants and more with just about every other group apart from homosexuals. No surprise with the gay vote but the rest suggests a more complex situation than the Bush-got-the-Destiny-Church-vote analysis.

Red and Blue contributions - the Scottish factor

The current fashion of analysing the state of the US in terms of what Red and Blue states have supposedly contributed to humanity seems to me particularly futile.

The South gave us Martin Luther King, Elvis Presley and cajun food.

One of the few pieces that say something interesting about this cultural divide is this from The Scotsman -

George Bush owes it to the other America
Here in Scotland, where the mainstream view is anti-Bush, the instant reaction will be to dismiss this other America as redneck, racist, bigoted, gun-loving and ignorant. But hold a mirror to thyself: the part of America that doggedly voted Republican on Tuesday is its ethnic Scottish-Ulster heartland. These are the descendants of the lowland yeoman folk who colonised Virginia in the 17th century, then crossed the Appalachian Mountains to open up the frontier in the 18th, joined by the refugees from the Govan slums in the 19th.
It really is a good account of how the Scottish-Irish have influenced US culture and how it fits in with the Bush's politics.

It's worth considering for what it implies about New Zealand as well. Much of my family came from Scotland and there is still a strain of puritanism detectable. Also, Scottish society in some ways resembled Maori society more than it did that of England. Traditional Scottish society, which had only recently been disrupted by the English in the 1800s, had been tribal and warrior based.

The kiss of death

Moore is going to support Hillary - Film-maker Moore silenced as credits roll on a fair fight.

The guy's not very bright but even he should be able to see the correlation between his support for Kerry and Kerry's defeat. His ability to mock and patronise ordinary people probably won't prove to be an asset in winning over conservative Christians.

Lite blogging today and an apology

Harry's Place has a discussion on how and why Democrats should embrace values.

Beat them at their own game.

And apologies to Crooked Timber. No Right Turn is right, I got it completely wrong. It showed a bias on my part that was completely unjustified.

I should stick to criticising the real tinfoil crowd.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Haaretz - Bush will increase prssure on Sharon

In Haaretz -

Bush may press Israel next. Why is Sharon smiling?
Israeli fears over a possible escalation in pressure, and a resulting narrowing of manevering space, were little allayed by the response Wednesday of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, when asked if the new administration was likely to pressure Israel.

How not to win friends and influence people

Katrina vanden Heuvel editor of The Nation speaking of Bush supporters -
People really are confused and manipulated
How does this work? You walk up to a Bush supporter and say -
"You vote Bush because you're confused and manipulated."
And they reply -
"Of course, why didn't I see that? Oh that's right, because I'm a stupid moron."
I can see how that's going to effect their voting.

Take a stand against paranoia

There's no point expecting anything better from Scoop -
Vote Fraud - Exit Polls Vs Actuals.

But it's worth considering if this sort of conspiracy mongering will benefit the liberal cause.

Getting the message across

From Harry's Place
During the 1930s, union organizers were taught never to blame the workers if an organizing campaign failed. 'It's not their fault for not understanding,' the organizers were instructed. 'It's your fault for not explaining it clearly enough.' It is a motto today's liberals and progressives would do well to hang on the walls of the political campaign war rooms in the elections of the coming years.

Amy Sullivan on value and politics

I think I'm becoming a fan of Amy Sullivan. What she's saying about the role of religion, and how the Dems should respond, in US politics is starting to make sense.

Sure is a lot more constructive than merely complaining that conservative Christians got out and voted.

It's particularly odd that liberals, who go on and on about "values" (and so they should), are now complaining that values played such a significant role in the election.

How the Dems can win in 2008

I think a Democrat victory in 2008 would be a good thing. I don't support much of the Republican's conservative social agenda and most of the hard slog of military action promoting democracy should hopefully be over.

So I'll do my bit by concentrating a bit more on the conservative social agenda stuff.

BBC election coverage excellent

The BBC's election coverage was very good.

What did they achieve?

Common Dreams
Robert Fisk
John Pilger
Michael Moore
Arundhati Roy

They did not achieve a victory for the Left. They ensured a victory for the Right.

They made the Left smell so bad that many people just walked away.

Foreign Dispatches sums it up

I'll just quote the whole thing from Foreign Dispatches
Every single one of the 15 candidates Markos Moulitsas and crew backed for Congress lost. A clearer illustration of Moulitsas' tin ear for what the majority wants is hard to find; one should never mistake an ability to speak to the hopes and fears of committed partisans (which DKos is good at) with the power to make a difference where elections are won and lost, i.e, at the center. Hopefully this total wipeout will serve as a wakeup call in some quarters that being relentlessly shrill (yes, shrill) does absolutely nothing to win over the majority - indeed, it nearly moved me to back Bush purely in order to spite the likes of Krugman, Moore et al.

Crooked Timber - the tinfoil has come out and how I was wrong to say that

Crooked Timber are claiming

Desperate, pathetic, counter-productive.

I suspected that's what they were like.

UPDATE: apologies this post is complete nonsense. I'll leave it here as a reminder to be more careful.

DailyKos epitomises all that went wrong

Divide and rule ... for now
So how did Bush even get this far? By demonising an entire group of people -- gays and lesbians. By cynical appeals to religion. By slandering a true war hero. And, most importantly, by scaring people. You see, terrorists would detonate a nuclear bomb in a major city if Kerry were elected. Only Bush can protect us.
Markos Moulitsas' misanthropic attitude towards a a large proportion of his fellow Americans is what lost the Dems the election.

Kevin Drum - get real

This is just complete denial from Kevin Drum -
I hope Democrats resist the urge to lash out at John Kerry. After all, the conventional wisdom said that a liberal senator from Massachusetts would get swamped, but in fact the election was razor close. It all came down to a swing of 1% of the vote in one state.
Bush won a plurality of the votes, technically he won by 1% in one state but, isn't the important thing the popular vote? Isn't that what liberals have been saying for 4 years. Why suddenly the change of heart?

Hillary vs Condi 2008

Cheney steps down for "health reasons" in two years. Condi as VP.

Two things the Dems need to do to win, and I want them to win -

1. Select Hillary Clinton

2. STOP FUCKING LISTENING TO MICHAEL MOORE - HE'S A PARASITE. The activist Left has become an ugly seething mess of intolerance and paranoia. Time to show them the door.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Votes being counted

Kevin Drum is reporting a clean election so far.

Actual votes are starting to be counted with the New York Times reporting Bush with 63% of the popular vote. That's based on 15,000 votes in Red states.

Clean election, high turn out. At the end of the day rugby is the winner.

Blair - the New Evil

Leading story in The New Statesman on Tony Blair - Dictator of Downing St

Tony Blair does not have rivals murdered, nor is Belmarsh the Gulag, but Robert Service, Stalin's biographer, finds some surprising parallels between the PM and the Soviet tyrant.
Bush is Hitler, Blair is Stalin. Who will the Kerry turn out to be? Pol Pot?

Former deputy editor Gauch comments.

The prize for stupidest election comment

...goes to Paul Krugman -
Over the weekend, people in some polling places had to stand in line for four, five, even six hours, often in the hot sun. Some of them - African-Americans in particular - surely suspected that those lines were so long because officials wanted to make it hard for them to vote. Yet they refused to be discouraged or intimidated.
Krugman would be better off applying his wild-eyed fantasies just to himself rather than patronising others.

Scoop - loopy loopy

Scoop maintains its journalistic standards -
Covert operators and remote elites stage-manage events like 9/11 to their own ends, making irrelevant the public decision-making of voters, and even of the Congress. For example, we all know the entire Bush agenda, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, was planned long in advance of 2001. But the program was not launched openly after the (s)election of George W. Bush in Dec. 2000. It was rolled out after the shock of September 11, using 9/11 as the pretext.
Those covert operators. Didn't some of them head off to North Korea?

An issue Kerry will have to face

From Haaretz an even handed look at the US and the Israel/Palestine conflict - Wanted: A serious American peace policy

If it swings Kerry then he will have the benefit of Bush's "don't mess with the US" legacy. The US now gets taken far more seriously now which would enable Kerry greater maneuverability. Which is true for most issues.

Evolution and Materialism

Via No Right Turn a new NZ blog - Dialectical Materialism.

With an article by Daphna - Dialectical nature of evolution.

Another molting hawk

David Aaronovitch - Why even a hawk like me is backing Kerry
I have had it with the people who try to "understand" those zealots who blow up women trying to register to vote in Afghanistan but are horrified by born-again Christians going to church in Grand Rapids. I have had it with Chiraciennes, Pinterites, Palaeo-conservatives, Zarqawi-symps, isolationists, Srebrenica-avoiders, conspiracy theorists, know-nothings, low-level Jew-dislikers, former Conservative foreign secretaries, the anything-we-do-is-wrong army, the let's-do-nothing brigade and those who cannot wait for China to compete with the US as an equal superpower.
I couldn't agree more.


The Hitmaps feature has kicked in. It's right at the bottom of the blog - I'll move it when I find out how. Clicking on the map produces a larger image and you can zoom in one more time.

The global village. Technology is truly astounding.

All the best to all the Americans coming to this site. I hope your man wins.

On reason to vote Kerry


We forget that it is Blair who coaxed Clinton into action in Bosnia and it was Blair who was raising concern about Saddam when Bush was still in his Republican isolationist phase. Blair will keep Kerry in line.

One reason to vote Bush


We forget that France has always had an oppositional stance towards the US, no matter who the President is. The allegation that Bush is "unilateral" comes down to not having Chirac on side.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I've had my doubts about Kerry recently. His comments about "outsourcing" the hunt for bin Laden at Tora Bora were troublesome. Besides the fact that he considers cooperation with the local Afghanis a bad thing there is the implied protectionism in likening that cooperation to the loss of US jobs to developing countries.

And then there was a very bizarre interview recently with John Edwards where he criticised Bush for working with the Europeans over Iran and with China over North Korea. Saying that the US shouldn't have to consider these countries when making foreign policy. I thought that was Bush's line.

But in times of doubt there is always the paranoid Left to provide reassurance that we don't have much to worry about if Kerry gets in - Will There Be A War Against The World After November 2?.

Bush and Science

I'm sympathetic to Russell Brown's case against Bush based on science policy but I think that he overstates the case.

One of the science groups critical of Bush he links to is the Union of Concerned Scientists, which sounds all very scientific and authoritative, but they happen to be anti GE. Probably not the most reliable source for accurate information on Bush's science policies.

They are actually an environmental lobby group with their own ideas about how environmental policies should develop. And that's fine, but it is possible to disagree with them and not be "anti-science" as Russell believes.

If one looks closely at much of the criticism of Bush on the issue of science it comes down to disagreements on policy choices which are all fair game in politics. Being against (government funded) stem-cell research is not necessarily anti-science. It's a value choice, one I happen to disagree with, but a valid value choice nevertheless.

It's like saying being anti-GE is anti-science. It's not necessarily the case. Some anti-GE arguments (most in my opinion) are non-scientific but to value non-GE over GE is a legitimate value choice and should not be considered to necessarily imply an anti-science stand.

There are specific instances where I would be critical of Bush's attitude towards science but I don't think it's as simple as alleging that it's been a "...four-year war on the integrity of American science".

The 100,000 lie

In Scoop, of course, the anti-war movement has predictably been quick to misrepresent and exploit the Lancet study on Iraqi civilian deaths -
Findings indicated 100,000 more Iraqis died than would have been expected to die,...
Even if one accepts the methodology of the study as being reliable, this is not what the study said at all. It estimates that somewhere between 8000 and 194000 deaths occurred. If the statistics for Falluja are included then there is the possibility that the civilian mortality rate was actually lower during and after the war as compared to before.

But we now have the anti-war movement claiming the 100,000 deaths to be a fact. It's called lying.

The Great Divide

Matt Welch on the how the Left and Right have become equally intolerant -
There is little to no consideration, on the anti-Bush side, that the target of their wrath may have done the right thing, and indeed the only thing possible given the geopolitical circumstances, to the regime of Saddam Hussein, or that democracy in the Middle East is more likely as a result.

And from the right, the certainty that Kerry is insufficiently serious about terrorism is matched only by the confidence that there are no serious drawbacks to cranky interventionism, just people who lose their nerve. 2000 seems like a distant and trivial world of White House sex and humble foreign policies. We're as divided as ever, only this time we mean it.

The new, acceptable prejudice

I tend to agree with Mick Hume's view of the excesses of Bush hatred - The trashy politics of Bushophobia
Those who complain about stupid American voters being brainwashed by the incompetent, incoherent Mr Bush are only deluding themselves — not least about the notion that things will change for the better if Mr Kerry wins. Those who protest about the power of Republican fear-mongering are using scare tactics of their own, with Mr Bush cast as bogeyman along with bin Laden. Those who pour public scorn on “American idiots” are parading the latest version of the socialism of fools.

Scoop - Osama supports Bush

The murky depths of paranoia in Scoop - Osama bin Laden supports Bush Reelection
...Osama bin Laden is a US sponsored intelligence asset. Al Qaeda is an instrument of the US intelligence apparatus.
It's the sickest of minds that have tried to turn bin Laden's statements into any sort of endorsement of Bush or Kerry. Scoop brings us such vileness with the added bonus of lunatic conspiracy theories.


If you scroll right to the bottom of this page you'll see the Hitmap web feature.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The myth of the 100,000 grows

This time Scott Ritter is claiming -
Last week's estimate by investigators, using credible methodology, that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians - most of them women and children - have died since the US-led invasion is a profound moral indictment of our countries
Of course the deeply flawed study does not maintain "that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians died". But hey, it's lying for a good cause.

I recall some pundits a while back quite rightly pointing out that many on the pro-war side paid too little attention to the human cost of their views. My reaction was that the anti-war movement spent no time considering the price of their alternatives and also that for them the civilian deaths issue has become devalued to just another rhetorical device, just as with Ritter.

UPDATE: the lads at Crooked Timber aren't impressed with some of the criticism of the Lancet study.

bin Laden's new rhetoric

Juan Cole on bin Laden's change of message -
I wonder if Bin Laden has heard from the field that his association with the authoritarian Taliban has damaged recruitment in the Arab world and Iraq, where most people want an end to dictatorship and do not want to replace their secular despots with a religious one. The elections in Pakistan (fall 2002) and Afghanistan went better than he would have wanted, and may have put pressure on him. He may now be reconfiguring the rhetoric of al-Qaeda, at least, to represent it as on the side of political liberty. I am not saying this is sincere or might succeed; both seem to me highly unlikely. I am saying that it is interesting that Bin Laden now seems to feel the need to appeal to this language. In a way, it may be one of the few victories American neo-Wilsonianism has won, to push Bin Laden to use this kind of language. I doubt it amounts to much.
Faint praise for Bush but coming from someone as anti-Bush as Cole it's significant.

If Bush's Freedom and Democracy rhetoric has forced even extremists such as bin Laden to couch their message to the Arab world in similar language then that is a major development and an indication that Bush's message has resonance.

Graham Reid spreads some moore paranoia

Graham Reid on Craig Unger's book House of Bush, House of Saud
A year ago an extended article by Unger in that high-end glossy explored the dangerous liaison between the oil-rich cabals in Texas and Saudi Arabia.
I thought that according to the Left Bush was in the pocket of the Jews. Now they say he's in the pocket of the Saudis. Make up your minds please.

The essence of the story is that apparently it is wrong to do business with the Saudis. After all they are Arabs.

The Guardian

I haven't been that impressed with The Guardian recently but given their anti-Bush stand this editorial is remarkable -

Democracy must triumph, not fear - America still has much to teach us
...it is hard not to admire the sheer verve of US politics.

...Such engagement, embodying the liberal democratic principles on which America is based, is an example to the world.

100,000 - the new myth

The misleading claim in The Lancet of 100,000 deaths in Iraq has already become accepted wisdom for the anti-war movement. (Scoop was also a prime source of the lie that 600 people were killed in the Jenin refugee camp by the Israelis).

Marc Cooper cautions -
Those of us who oppose the war must maintain the moral high road. The more recklessly the administration handles its rationales, justifications and accounting of the war, the more precise and exact we must be.
Too late I think.

Fisk on Afghanistan, wrong again

Fisk had this to say about the overthrow of the Taliban -
Retaliation is a trap. In a world that was supposed to have learnt that the rule of law comes above revenge, President Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him.
That was some trap bin Laden set for the US.

The sad thing is that this guy was a leading spokesperson for the anti-war movement. He did enormous damage to that cause.

Fisk interview with bin Laden

Fisk on Clinton
"America's Public Enemy Number One"--Clinton's infantile description of bin Laden--
Clinton was of course the evil president who tried to bomb bin Laden and who got rid of Milosevic.

Fisk wrong, again

So bin Laden has officially claimed responsibility for 9/11. Robert Fisk, an "expert" on the Middle East had this to say just after 9/11 on bin Laden's involvement -
Is he capable of it? Look, I'll give you one tiny example. The second time I met him in Afghanistan, four years ago, at the top of a mountain, it was cold and in the morning when I woke in the camp tent, I had frost in my hair. He walked into the tent I was sitting in and sat down opposite me, cross-legged on the floor and noticed in the school bag I usually carry in rough country to keep things in, some Arabic-language newspapers and he seized upon these and went to the corner of the tent with a sputtering oil lamp and devoured the contents.

For 20 minutes, he ignored us, he ignored the gunman sitting in the tent, he ignored me and he didn't even know, for example, that it was stated in one of the stories in the newspaper that the Iranian foreign minister had just visited Riyadh, his own country, Saudi Arabia, well, his until he lost his citizenship. So he seemed to me at the time to be very isolated, a cut off man, not the sort of person who would press a button on a mobile phone and say, "Put plan B into action".

So I don't think you can see this as a person who actually participates in the sense of planning, step-by-step, what happens in a nefarious attack.
I suppose it was nice of Robert to give bin Laden the benefit of the doubt.

This interview is interesting as well -

Fisk asks bin Laden -
But what of the Arab mujahedin he took to Afghanistan - members of a guerilla army who were also encouraged and armed by the United States - and who were forgotten when that war was over?
bin Laden's reply -
"Personally neither I nor my brothers saw evidence of American help."
For some reason Fisk was also against military intervention against Milosevic.