Saturday, August 28, 2004

To dismiss protest is to dismiss human agency

Indian-Canadian professor Ananya Mukherjee Reed of York University in Toronto explores the power of political protest:
I think it is ironic that we often have to think of the “strategic” outcomes of social protest, because it really should be a celebration of human spontaneity at its best. More importantly, it is often the only tool people have, especially when institutional options are non-existent. No substantive social change has ever come about without protest. To dismiss protest, is therefore to dismiss human agency.
Her essay provides a welcome antitode to the RNC's anti-protest, anti-democracy spin. Read her full article here.

Friday, August 27, 2004

"If hate kills, your country will disappear."

Bread DeLong's Journal has posted an email exchange from January 2003 to the present, between an American professor and a Muslim student in Africa, on Iraq, America, ethics, and being human. The collection provides a remarkably honest, unfiltered insight into how the Islamic world (and much of the planet) views America.
"...Destroying a country can never be called “liberalisation”, resistance can never be terrorism, the victim can never be transformed to a criminal and the criminal to a victim."

"...With the massacre of more than 200 in two days, most of them women and children ... I’m asking if Americans feel guilt about what they are doing. Don’t they know that the blood of these innocent is a duty, that they will be asked for this blood another day toward god? Do they sleep quietly? How can they do it? Don’t they feel that they are partners of this crime by their vote, by their tools, by their taxes and by their silence?"

"...You know if I write to you, it’s because I know that you will calm me. Really sometimes I feel that my heart will explode. If hate kills, your country will disappear. There is no-one in my country who is loving the U.S."
I have to be honest: the author raises questions that I have asked myself, and I still haven't found good answers. I am afraid that the jingoism and isolationism of the political climate are insulating Americans from understanding how the US actions in Iraq are viewed and how dangerous the consequences may be.

If you have the stomach to look at an unvarnished reflection of America, invest some time and read the full post, Jill Gabrielle Klein Talks to a Ph.D Student from North Africa. And see if you can find honest answers to the questions she raises.

Via Bubblegeneration. (Thanks, Umair!)

Crossposted to BOP News.

Political Compass

Every so many years I am delighted to stumble, once again, across the Political Compass site.

They've taken the traditional, one-dimensional political spectrum of Right and Left (which was established, by the way for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789), and created a 2-dimensional model by adding a y-axis for the spectrum of Authoritarian to Libertarian. In other words, their model includes both an economic and social dimensions.

visual representation of political compass graph

Political Compass offers a survey on their site to measure your political leanings. They map the results out on their graph.

My score was:
Economic Left/Right: -9.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.31
You can see my score on a the political compass graph here.

That means, I am more liberal than Ghandi (nice guy, but a little conservative for my tastes)...

political compass graph showing Ghandi, Stalin, Hitler, Thatcher, and Friedman

...and more anti-establishment than Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama.

political compass graph showing Nelson Mandela, the Dalia Lama, and other international political figures

Notice that George Bush is further right than all the world leaders mentioned except possibly for Thatcher and Friedman (hard to compare the two graphs); and more authoritarian than everyone but Ariel Sharon (bested by a nose, there) Robert Mugabe, Yassir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Hitler...and possibly, again, Margaret Thatcher.

In other words, I am diametrically opposed to George Bush. Now who is suprised to hear that?

You can take the test yourself here.

Feel free to share your scores if you feel like it, too.

I am, of course, a great admirer of Ghandi, Mandela, and the Dalai Lama, along with Aung San Suu Kyi, Dr. King, Dorothy Day, ,and César Chávez.

Which leads me to ask: who are your role models, political and otherwise? Whose life stories or careers to you turn to for guidance and inspiration?

Outside the strictly speaking politcal sphere, I would also add Hildegard of Bingen, Japan's Crown Princess Masako, Harriet Tubman, and Laura Secord. Many others, too...

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bush Hijacks Olympics

It seems the Bush camp recently put out a television ad that used the Olympics by name:

The television advertisement does not feature the five Olympic rings -- one of
the world's most recognizable images -- but an announcer tells viewers that at
"this Olympics there will be two more free nations," referring to the U.S.-led
invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under Bush's presidency.

The International Olympic Committee is antsy and the US Olympic Committee is antsy and Bush just keeps giggling. It's another step taken by the GOP to make their policies synonymous with upstanding values, in this case the pride found in the Olympic games.

Read the Reuters article here.

Sexism, Ageism, & Blogging

At this point, a whole bunch of people are talking about how to get more women involved in political blogging.

I think the discussion is germane to young bloggers, too. Sexism and ageism aren't all that dissimilar--in fact, many of the ways that we disempower women boil down to infantilizing them.

And thus, I would like to invite ALL of you to join in the conversation. I'm talking about it on Tzuredzuregusa here, with links to some of the other blogs talking about the same thing.

Post here or over there, but please pipe in. I would really like to hear your perception of the obstacles to blogging...and then brainstorm on what we can do to help. I'm also curious to hear how much the sexism parallels your experiences of ageism.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Kerry to Appear on the Daily Show Tonight!

Via Dominic at the VAYD blog.

John Kerry will be on the Daily Show tonight on Comedy Central at 11pm. This is his first national TV interview since the Swift Boat Ads became an issue. It says something that Kerry is bypassing all sorts of "normal television news programs" and going to the show that much of America's youth trusts for political news. The post had an article on it here.

In fact, Stewart's show has so much buzz during this election, it's
annoying some of the traditional TV newsies.

"A lot of television viewers -- more, quite frankly, than I'm
comfortable with -- get their news from the Comedy Channel on a program called
'The Daily Show,' " "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel whined to his viewers in a
telecast from the Democratic convention in Boston.

During that telecast, Stewart took issue with Koppel's comment, saying
"Daily Show" fans watch "for comedic interpretation" of the news.

"To be informed," Koppel replied, refusing to budge from his position.
"They actually think they're coming closer to the truth with your show."

Stewart shot back: "Now that's a different thing, that's credibility,
that's a different animal."

Woot. John Stewart = my hero. Does anybody remember during the DNC when he stomped on Harry Bonilla, that member of the Republican rapid-response team? He catches the GOP rapid response crew twisting the truth red handed, and in the meantime embarasses the pants of Congressman Bonilla. Yay! Watch the video here. [edit: And for those of us without Windows Media Player 9, catch a transcript here.]

I can't wait

Monday, August 23, 2004

An Essay on Conservatism

Has anyone seen this? It's a long but interesting manifesto entitled "What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?" written by Philip Agre, a professor of Information Studies at the University of California.

The essay references different decades and political figures, in order to help liberals today win political debates based on history. I was referred by Roz Kaveney on livejournal, where there is also minor discussion of the essay.

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves "conservatives" have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Negative Campaigning

I hate to admit it, but I'm generally a nice guy. And being a nice guy, I like to see nice guys play nice, but rarely does one see a political campaign that plays nice all the time.

"It's a very strong and simple empirical fact," Mr. Goldstein said. "You can tinker with campaign finance laws all you want, but when you have competitive elections you get lots of advertising - and you get negative advertising." (NY Times - "Going Negative: When it Works," 8/22/04)

How do you all feel about negative campaigning? It's drawn recent attention with the Swift Boat ads and the response by dems and republicans (the Kerry team recently put out a great clip of McCain sticking it to Bush during the 2000 primaries. Shaula's got a link on her blog).

I've never felt bad voicing my complaint about the current administration, but I remember a lot of people criticizing democrats during the primaries because it seemed that all they did was focus on bashing Bush. Starting with the DNC it seemed that the Kerry-Edwards campaign wanted to keep things positive, but even Kerry is beginning to go on the offensive.

Do we live in an environment where negative campaigning can have a deleterious effect on a candidate, or will those swing voters who will be turned off by a smear ad be marginalized in the long run?


Raise your hand if you knew Sadam Hussein has been a CIA asset for 40 years.

[silence] [/silence]

That's what I thought.

Check out this fantastic flash animation about the history between the US gov & Saddam.

Via All Day Permanent Red

It's not that it's the ONLY senate race I'm watching

Alan Keyes has officially moved from the 'discordantly enigmatic' portion of my radar to the 'utterly incomprehensible.' It appears that Mr. Keyes, who is a (often extreme) conservative, is supporting reparations!


So manifest is the illogic behind the reparations movement that it has been
recognized by none other than Alan Keyes. Discussing the Civil War in a column
in 2002, Keyes wrote, “The price for the sin of slavery has already been paid,
in blood.” This would make Keyes’ second major flip-flop since announcing his
candidacy last week, the first being his carpetbagger candidacy itself.

Now it's not that the reparations movement is completely illogical, but I think Keyes is suggesting that blacks be exempt from all taxation outside of Social Security. That doesn't quite seem fiscally sound. Could this perhaps be a tactic to further divide the black vote in Illinois? Well I suppose running a black candidate is better for public relations than disenfranchising voters like they did in Florida.

Read the entire article here.

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

String Cheese Incident

I'm just not even going to pretend to know how on-topic this is, but it meanders across a lot of topics; rock bands, activism, kids, GOTV, cows and cheese -- so here it is.

There has been occasional notice taken of the hooping (or for the more hoopaliciously inclined) pedestrian signs around the country, and much chronilogically-challenged speculation as to where they come from. Since at least two of us here are possibly too old to already know; the synchopated, ambulating icons are the by-product of the String Cheese Incident.

SCI is a set of 5 ski bums-cum-benevolent band which apparently, according to Friends of Cheese, performs, among other things, a cover of Jerry Jeff Walker's 'Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother'. FOC is teamed up with a group called Conscious Alliance to stage food drives at every String Cheese Incident show (not just any food frives, mind you, but more socially concious ones encouraging "donations of low-sodium and health food oriented products") as well as with HeadCount who do voter registration drives at various alternative/Dead/hippy concerts and festivals.

SCI is also involved in other Gouda Causes.

Oh, and as for the cows?

Is it happening all over again?

The New York Times picked up on actions by law enforcement in Florida that may end up intimidating elderly blacks from getting out to the polls in November.

"These guys are using these intimidating methods to try and get these folks to
stay away from the polls in the future,'' said Eugene Poole, president of the
Florida Voters League, which tries to increase black voter participation
throughout the state. "And you know what? It's working. One woman said, 'My God,
they're going to put us in jail for nothing.' I said, 'That's not true.' "

Read the entire article here.