Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Washington Post headline blares ominously:

Immigration Opponents To Patrol U.S. Border

Now: everyone read the article, and point out to me even a single "immigration opponent."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

From what I've read of the man, I am a big fan of John Bolton:

During that time, and during his early tenure in the second Bush administration, Bolton's first priority appears to have been to roll back public international law so it isn't used against us by other nations as they battle for power in a dark, Hobbesian world. At its most extreme, this view has led him to say that "if the U.N. Secretary Building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," and to support former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet against the international courts that hope to bring him to trial on charges of gross human rights violations.

More generally, four years ago, Bolton said: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so -- because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States."

I couldn't agree more, and find myself relieved that at least some members of the current Administration are not clueless on this front. So while I would prefer to have the man in the State Department and not wasting his energy on the UN, I can at least enjoy the spectacle of diplomatic teacups shattering on the floor, as all kinds of notables faint from the idea that this utterly gauche man will be the U.S.'s face to the world. The latest to turn pale and reach for the smelling salts are fifty-nine former professional placators:

Fifty-nine former US diplomats have written to the chairman of a key Senate committee in protest at the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.

Chief among the objections was Mr Bolton's stated view that the UN "is valuable only when it directly serves the United States".

This is a stunning revelation into the mind of the professional diplomat. Their job is to serve the interests of the United States. That's why they get the nice house overseas and the big bucks. But heaven forfend someone actually demand that the UN do this!

In addition, Mr Bolton was criticised for his record as US arms control supremo.

He had an "exceptional record" of undermining potential improvements to US national security through arms control, the diplomats complained.

This is somewhat ambiguously phrased by the BBC, but what they mean is, Bolton is generally against useless paper "arms control" agreements. From the Salon article:

But his competence has ultimately allowed Bolton to do much harm, scuttling the international agreements and treaties that make up much of the legal basis for international order and security. With Bolton's tireless leadership and assistance, the Bush administration has undermined the International Criminal Court, the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and a potential international treaty on small arms trafficking -- while also opposing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

One would think that with the arms-control agreements having been proved worthless in a string of humiliating and flagrant violations -- hello? North Korea? Iran? -- the old diplomats would have enough sense to, well, diplomatically neglect to mention them. Oops.

The usual suspects feature prominently here:

Among the most senior signatories was Arthur Hartman, former ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under President Richard Nixon.

Princeton Lyman, a former ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria, Monteagle Stearns, US representative in Greece and Ivory Coast, and Spurgeon Keeny Jr, Jimmy Carter's deputy director of arms control, also signed the letter.

And, finally, this part:

But the former diplomats insist his hard-line views on states such as Cuba and Syria, as well as previous paid employment for the government of Taiwan, make him an unsuitable candidate.

This statement is so awe-inspiringly stupid, I am tempted to let it stand without comment. Apparently it's all right for former diplomats to receive paychecks from the Saudis, but anyone who doesn't sing Castro's praises, pretend the Assads are legitimate, or -- horrors! -- has worked for the government of a friendly nation, is "unsuitable."

You have to hand it to the Bush Administration -- whatever their many flaws, on the foreign policy front they have managed rattle quite a few cages, with results that are simultaneously distressing and hilarious.

Monday, March 28, 2005

'Elp! 'Elp! I'm Being Repressed!

Will someone please inform Professor Juan Cole (not to be confused with John Cole, ever) that what he calls "a new way of discrediting a political opponent" is also known as good ol'-fashioned criticism?

It seems to me that David Horowitz and some far rightwing friends of his have hit upon a new way of discrediting a political opponent, which is the GoogleSmear. It is an easy maneuver for someone like Horowitz, who has extremely wealthy backers, to set up a web magazine that has a high profile and is indexed in google news. Then he just commissions persons to write up lies about people like me (leavened with innuendo and out-of-context quotes). Anyone googling me will likely come upon the smear profiles, and they can be passed around to journalists and politicians as though they were actual information.

Nnnno. You're kidding, Professor! You mean, someone can have the temerity to (1) say something unflattering about you on the web and (2) get other people to read it, and link approvingly? Those Rovian fiends are Pure Evil Geniuses&trade!

Lest we have any doubts on what Cole considers quality argument, he approvingly cites an "ascerbic dissection" by no less an intellectual luminary than Dennis "Justin" Raimondo. (I must have missed the "dissection" entirely, as Raimondo does nothing more than call Plaut a few names, throw out some innuendo, and pile on enough non-sequiturs to stock two Costco aisles -- but hey, Professor Cole says it's "ascerbic," and who am I to argue?) Raimondo and Cole as allies -- enough said, really.

Well, maybe not quite, because the good Professor just can't resist setting himself up as the poor, defenseless Arab martyr to Horowitz's Merkava tank:

I am well aware that the GoogleSmear and other techniques of propaganda may well succeed. Horowitz and his minions are funded to the tune of millions, and I am just one lone individual. And, maybe it is even dangerous to tangle with someone who admires Kahane and his followers.

I'm not a fan of Horowitz, and I can't comment on his "millions." But really -- the good Professor works for one of the wealthiest universities in this nation, which funds all of his "work," including his pro-terrorist propaganda, and gives him credibility to boot. Yet the man fears a global Likud conspiracy with Horowitz on its pointy end, spending seven-digit sums to publish web sites that get indexed by Google. Fight the power, Dr. Cole.

Update: Dan Darling beat me to this, with a better response.

Steven Plaut has also written a thorough rebuttal of Cole's ramblings, including this revealing look at the Cole-Raimondo method of "research":

Cole rests the better part of his “self-defense” on labeling me “an Israeli defender of the terrorists (sic) around the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane,” the fellow who set up the Jewish Defense League. So what is the source of this invention reported with scholarly seriousness by Professor Juan Cole? Why, it is Justin Raimondo himself, of course! In fact, Cole thanks Raimondo profusely on his web page for smearing me as a supposed Kahanist.

The only problem is that I am not. Raimondo’s evidence for this smear against me is that he googled my name and the word “Kahanist” together, and discovered two articles of mine in which I used the word “Kahanist” in the text. But that was all he found. In neither article did I express any support for the Kahanists or Kahanism. Talk about Googlesmears! Cole, also accuses me of posting comments under a false name on a web bulletin board and accuses me of using illegal drugs, which is equally fanciful and absurd.

Just to add my small contribution to the "GoogleSmearing," here is Steven Plaut's original article on Juan Cole, meticulously researched, filled with direct quotes and links to original material -- contrast with the "material" that Cole and Raimondo present as their own alleged "refutations" of this article. Plaut is just not in Cole and Raimondo's league. Plaut should be proud of this.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

My responses to the quiz that has been traveling around:

Q: What's your favorite kind of cookie?
A: None of your business. Now get lost.