Thursday, January 03, 2008
"First" of the Day: Saudi blogger arrested
Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, has been detained for questioning, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed Monday. It was the first known arrest of an online critic in the kingdom. —Faiza Saleh Ambah reporting in "Dissident Saudi Blogger Is Arrested"
Al-Farhan was actually arrested almost a month ago. The Saudi authorities are only now getting around to acknowledging the arrest. The Saudi blogger's arrest was preceded by arrests of bloggers in Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) sent a letter of protest yesterday to His Royal Highness al-Saud—
Arbitrarily detaining a writer and holding him for weeks without saying why violates the most basic norms for free expression and serves as a chilling reminder to those seeking to express their opinions. It also runs counter to official Saudi statements in support of reform and a more open press.
Most Americans—including journalists so-called—are unaware that Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments are in fact complying with what George Bush asked them to do in 2003. King al-Saud should have received a congratulatory cable from the U.S. State Department by now.
This is the sort of thing the Bush administration would like to see in the U.S. But so far it has had to content itself with arresting the U.S. press working in Iraq.
Of course there is a bit of irony to this story. While paid American journalists try to justify their paychecks by declaring bloggers to be a lesser form of life, and the U.S. government tries to sort out who is or isn't a journalist for purposes of First Amendment protection, the Saudis, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists, have no difficulty in identifying who the real journalists are.
Well, gotta go. Someone's knocking at the door.Related posts
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (6/16/04)
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (Revisited) (6/21/04)
The Indymedia seizure and the media (10/12/04)
Can you imagine?—The Law of Opposites and the Law of Silence (4/17/05)
The silencing of an American journalist (7/08/05)
Outrage of the Day (11/27/07)
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
A Presidential Candidate for Tomorrow
Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.
With the Iowa caucuses tomorrow, it's time for Simply Appalling to announce its support for one or another candidate before the electorate can commit another gross folly. So without further ado, I present the Simply Appalling candidate of tomorrow—
I could, and perhaps one day will, give an in-depth rationale for supporting Edwards over the other major contenders. But I learned in the days of Richard Nixon that a question I needed to ask myself—and which I believe all of us should ask—is whether I could bear to see the face of a Presidential contender on my television set for the next four to eight years.
I further believe that the answer to that question—if we look deep enough—depends not so much on how good-looking or media-savvy the candidate is, but on who we are as responders. People who are attracted to nincompoops in cowboy hats probably voted for George Bush regardless of what they thought of his policies (assuming they knew anything about his policies).
Many, who recognize they were betrayed by this criminal who has acted contrary to every campaign promise he ever made, can now barely stand to look at him. But I say they did not look at him long enough and hard enough to begin with. It wasn't essential to study either his background or his policies to know who George Bush was. You really only needed to look at him in a steady sort of way to see that what he was presenting was not what you were going to get. (I should add that I felt the same toward John Kerry. But given two fake candidates, I preferred what I thought, in the end, would be the policies of the latter.)
So in supporting John Edwards I am not particularly agreeing with all his policy positions, though I think he has given us a fuller view of them than the other major candidates. But I do take the position that he is the most honest and authentic of these candidates. It also doesn't hurt my feelings that the mainstream media have done their best to ignore his message.
Ranking the candidates
The Iowa Democractic caucus differs from the primary elections in other states fundamentally in that it asks caucus-goers for a second choice in the event their first choice has too few supporters.
Yesterday Dennis Kucinich threw his backing to Barack Obama as the second choice of his supporters—after "the deal was finalized" with the Obama campaign. Kucinich's only stated reason for his support was "change." I suspect it had more to do with regionalism.
Ralph Nader on the other hand has come out in support of Edwards. According to a column in The Nation—
In an appearance on "Hardball," in mid-December, he [Nader] said Edwards "now has the most progressive message across a broad spectrum of corporate power damaging the interests of workers, consumers, taxpayers, of any candidate I have--leading candidate I have seen in years." He went on to explain that "the key phrase is when he [Edwards] says he doesn't want to replace a corporate Republican with a corporate Democrat." Nader told Politico, "it's the only time I've heard a Democrat talk that way in a long time." For Ralph Nader--and take my word for it, please--that is rare praise for a leading Democratic politician.
For a second choice after Edwards I would recommend Chris Dodd, though he doesn't appear to be an Iowa favorite.
For those who want change—and who doesn't?
I thought Paul Krugman, who is clearly an Edwards supporter, articulated very well the difference between Edwards and Obama with respect to "change"—
Broadly speaking, the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are offering similar policy proposals — the dispute over health care mandates notwithstanding. But there are large differences among the candidates in their beliefs about what it will take to turn a progressive agenda into reality.
At one extreme, Barack Obama insists that the problem with America is that our politics are so “bitter and partisan,” and insists that he can get things done by ushering in a “different kind of politics.”
At the opposite extreme, John Edwards blames the power of the wealthy and corporate interests for our problems, and says, in effect, that America needs another F.D.R. — a polarizing figure, the object of much hatred from the right, who nonetheless succeeded in making big changes.
Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve.
Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that “us” includes the insurance and drug lobbies?
O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.
As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? “I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying,” he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.
As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda....
There’s a strong populist tide running in America right now. For example, a recent Democracy Corps survey of voter discontent found that the most commonly chosen phrase explaining what’s wrong with the country was “Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington.”
And there’s every reason to believe that the Democrats can win big next year if they run with that populist tide. The latest evidence came from focus groups run by both Fox News and CNN during last week’s Democratic debate: both declared Mr. Edwards the clear winner.
If I ever had any readers in Iowa they've probably been arrested by now, but maybe you know somebody and can pass the word.[Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, a participant in Edwards' campaign, paid or otherwise.]
Inflammatory Writing of the Day (2/13/07)
John Edwards on the proper relationship between religion and government (8/05/07)
Another reason I won't be supporting Hillary for President in 2008 (12/13/04)
Newt nominates Hillary (4/15/05)
Observation of the Day (11/5/05)
Political Profile of the Day (8/30/06)
Political Jargon of the Day (4/19/07)
"I'm Hillary, fly me" (6/27/07)
Hillary's peek-a-boob neckline (7/27/07)
News of note — Nov 9 07
Clinton's media machine (11/9/07)
Arrested at Hillary's Place (11/15/07)
No matter for debate (11/16/07)
Good News of the Day (12/05/07)
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
My annual post annum depression
It's that time again when I grow world-weary and long for a bodhi tree to park my butt under. It may be an as-yet-unrecognized syndrome—PAD, or Post Annum Depression—an entire year's hangover wherein the pointlessness of it all becomes quite pointed.
Well, we mustn't give up or we'll miss the entertainment. But before refilling my poison pen, I thought I'd go through the archives to see if there was anything that might explain my current state. Here are some candidates—
- Neocons fear the pain of premature withdrawal (1/29/07)
The neocons haven't abandoned their designs on Iraq. Where there's a lie there's life.
- TXU and the Great Waste (2/28/07)
Wherein the wealthy demonstrate their skill in exploiting hope for a better environment.
- Documents: How to fire a U.S. Attorney (3/14/07)
Emails from the Justice Department. They said it, I didn't.
- Novak acknowledges Israeli policy of apartheid (4/09/07)
In which a right-wing columnist suffers a bout of honesty and I propose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- BC3: Yet another strategem for replacing the missing Army (4/17/07)
The "Draft" returns: The Army drafts the Air Force to drive its trucks.
- A different view of the Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq (5/09/07)
Alexander Cockburn says the U.S. presence maintains the Iraqi civil war, and I read the Iraqi tea leaves through a glass darkly.
- High of the Day (6/15/07)
One thread of free-market hucksterism begins to unravel.
- "I'm Hillary, fly me" (6/27/07)
Hillary reveals her flightiness.
- Foreign Agents of the Day (7/24/07)
How Israel recruits agents from American Christian college campuses.
- Is an attack on Iran imminent? (8/29/07)
In which I seek to quell the hysteria.
- A note on understanding elites (9/3/07)
Economics/schmeckonomics! Study the ways of the ruling classes.
- Israel and domestic terrorism on the eve of 9/11 (9/11/07)
A fine case of media manipulation.
- Quote of the Day (10/25/07)
What I really think.
- Many in finance found to be SIV-positive (10/30/07)
What happens when financiers aren't required to use protection when screwing the populace.
- Imperialism denied (11/02/07)
A foreign-policy pundit considers the American military budget and goes mad.
- China shakes the dollar market (11/08/07)
Forget hoarding gold! Hoard the canned goods.
- It's finally arrived: Iraq on a platter! (11/26/07)
Wherein the Bush administration publicy announces its true intentions for Iraq. Nobody notices.
- "First" of the Day (12/27/07)
Why you should stop reading this blog and hustle on down to the bank.