From the monthly archives:

May 2004

Rights-based lending in action

by Daniel on May 26, 2004

Further to my comments last week on this subject, an update on Mr Wolfensohn’s progress toward the holy grail of Rights Based Lending. As of yesterday, China has a “winning formula” that the rest of the world ought to copy, while Israel can go screw itself. Something for everyone here, I think.

(The second of those two links is, IMO, disgraceful. Lord knows I’m not exactly a fan of the actions of the State of Israel in the territory it has annexed, but where the heck does Wolfensohn get off deciding to have a Middle East policy? Note that his comments appear to have no relevance to the action project involved; the Gaza Palestinians are just going to be made to wait for their new houses because of Wolfensohn’s amour propre, “as a Jew”. OTOH, it looks like he flip-flopped again shortly after that Ma’ariv interview and the discussions are still live after all. Lord, what a clown show)

The Paper of Record

by Kieran Healy on May 26, 2004

The _New York Times_ “hangs Judith Miller out to dry”: though it doesn’t mention her by name, preferring to spread the blame for its “credulous reporting”: on Iraq around to other reporters and editors, whom it doesn’t name either. At least they come out and say, in an official capacity, that they were spun like a top by Chalabi and his buddies, and that if they’d been less excitable then they might not look so bad now.

A Green Thought in a Green Shade

by Henry Farrell on May 25, 2004

I’m in Europe at the moment for research, and staying with friends in Brussels while I do academic interviews with political types. The place I’m in has a nice big back garden (property is relatively cheap here) which is periodically invaded by flocks of wild green parrots that have gone native. It’s delightful – a splash of the exotic in a notoriously unexotic city. Apparently though, many of the locals are unimpressed – the parrots build big, ugly communal nests resembling poorly built rafts that are a bit of an eyesore in winter, when the leaves drop off the trees. How the parrots themselves make it through the winter, I don’t know. According to the “National Geographic”:, Brussels isn’t the only city in temperate climes to support a wild parrot population; there are thriving flocks in London, San Francisco and elsewhere.

115,000 troops

by Ted on May 25, 2004

Bush, last night:

Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.

Last Thursday’s testimony of General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Myers gave one of the most candid official assessments yet of events in Iraq, which marked a further turn away from the administration’s stance that a smaller US force coupled with Iraqi security forces could secure Iraq.

He said General John Abizaid, commander of US forces in Iraq, was assessing what additional forces may be needed on top of the 135,000 American troops already there.

Tim Cavanaugh, who called this the “best Clinton moment” in Reason:

I can see Mike McCurry now, explaining that the President was actually using the pluperfect tense, so his comments were literally true.

Free stickers

by Eszter Hargittai on May 25, 2004

Since I’ve been blogging about political stickers and T-shirts, I thought I would post a pointer to the free stickers MoveOn is giving away. (One could actually argue that saying “Mission Nothing Accomplished” actually understates the myriad of problems that have been “accomplished”.)

The population of political blogs

by Eszter Hargittai on May 25, 2004

I resisted temptation for a while, but have finally launched into a project on blogs with two graduate students in our Media, Technology and Society PhD program, Jason Gallo and Sean Zehnder. We are focusing on political blogs in particular. This raises a whole set of methodological questions. A big one has to do with sampling. We have decided that we would not focus on a random sample of blogs, not only because that is just about impossible to achieve, but more importantly because that is not our focus. We are interested in the most widely read political blogs. (Yes, there remains the question as to what counts as a political blog in the first place, that is just one of the many questions we are grappling with.)

One way of finding prominent political blogs (or prominent blogs of any type) is to look through the links of prominent blogs we already know about. However, since linking is one of the questions we are interested in, it seems problematic to rely only on that method to find blogs relevant for our study. The same concern applies to using Technorati as a method for finding prominent political blogs. Another idea is to run searches on certain political topics and “blog” or “weblog” and see what we find. Of course, in such cases we are left wondering how widely read the particular blogs are, especially if they do not have comments turned on (and in any case, number of comments is a very limited measure of how widely read a blog may be). Other methods we have thought of is to look at directory listings (such as Yahoo!’s) of political blogs for ones we may have missed using the other methods.

So to sum up: What other approaches should we be using to identify political blogs? What methods do people recommend for identifying “top” political blogs?Also, if people know of political blogs that don’t seem to get mentioned here much, please feel free to post away. I realize this method of collecting information mirrors many of the shortcomings mentioned above, but hopefully by using all these approaches, we can get a reasonable sample (or dare I say population) of the most widely read political blogs. Thanks!

Well-tempered clavier

by Chris Bertram on May 25, 2004

Tim Smith’s and David Korevaar’s page on “Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier”: is one of the best things I’ve seen on the web in a long time. Click on the links and you get music, analysis, history and fantastic graphics. (via “Michael Brooke”: )

Kto kogo ?

by John Q on May 25, 2004

When you want the most succinct statement possible statement of the power politics view of the world, VI Lenin is your only man[1]. A lot of free-market advocates of revealed preference theory, and supporters of exit over voice, would be surprised to learn who they are quoting when they refer to people voting with their feet.

In relation to the proposed “handover” of power in Iraq on June 30, the only question that really matters is the one posed by Lenin “Kto kogo ?”, that is, “Who can do what to whom?”.

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Protection racket?

by Chris Bertram on May 25, 2004

From the “Economist”: :

bq. At the next official meeting of OPEC, in Beirut on June 3rd, Saudi Arabia will be asked to demonstrate solidarity with its co-conspirators in the cartel. The bargain that holds OPEC together—each member shows restraint in production, so that all can enjoy higher prices—is at stake, they will say. But it is widely assumed that Saudi Arabia must also keep its side of a more fundamental bargain. It must be conscious of American petrol prices, especially in an election year, and, in return, the world’s only superpower will continue to offer the desert kingdom its protection.

Multiple identities, one community

by Chris Bertram on May 25, 2004

My friend and occasional collaborator, the sociologist “Alan Carling”: , is running as an independent candidate in local elections in Bradford, West Yorkshire (in the UK). Bradford has in recent years acquired something of a reputation for urban deprivation, ethnic violence and increasing patterns of residential segregation, something which the main political parties have done little to address. Alan has thought more than most people about the problems of combining social justice and ethnic diversity. I’m sure that if I lived in Bradford I would give him my support. Alan’s campaign aims to tackle some of these issues head-on. He has a campaign website “”: . From Alan’s “campaign statement”: :

bq. Multicultural policies have rightly recognised the differences in ways of life. The question in Bradford is whether the well-intentioned practice of multiculturalism in the past has contributed inadvertently to undesirable forms of segregation in the present. Multiculturalism makes us think in terms of single identities and multiple ‘communities’: the White community, the African-Caribbean community, the gay and lesbian communities and so on. But ‘community’ can mean an inward-looking attitude, so that each separate group regulates its own affairs without reference to anyone else outside. This is undesirable in an open democratic society.

bq. Identity is about how we describe ourselves, as ‘White’ or ‘Sikh’ or ‘Muslim’ or ‘English’ or ‘Ukrainian’. But whatever we choose as our main label, the truth is always more complicated. There are different meanings to each label, and there are many different ways of observing any religion. No-one is only White or only Muslim, because we are also women and men, young and old, and these different identities mean different things in different circumstances. A new perspective on multiculturalism would emphasise a single community and multiple identities.

(I don’t know what others at CT would make of Alan’s campaign: this just represents my own endorsement of Alan.)

Compare and Contrast

by Kieran Healy on May 25, 2004

The front page summary of the lead story on CNN’s “US edition”: reads:

bq. In a speech outlining the future for Iraq, President Bush warned Americans there would be “difficult days ahead and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic,” but added: “No power of the enemy will stop Iraq’s progress.” Bush outlined five steps to Iraqi self-government in the first in a series of addresses in the weeks before the handover of power to Iraqis.

The subheading reads “‘Albright: More Specifics Needed'”: Meanwhile, the front page summary of the lead story on CNN’s “European edition”: reads:

bq. With approval ratings at new lows over Iraq and increasing doubts over his handling of the war, President Bush has outlined his five-step plan for the war-torn nation. Additionally, he says the U.S. will demolish the controversial Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in consultation with a new Iraqi government.

Here the subheading reads, “‘Bush approval near record low'”: Gotta cater to your audience.


by John Q on May 25, 2004

From an NYT story on “ghost” prisoners in Abu Ghraib

The memorandum criticizing the practice of keeping prisoners off the roster was signed by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, and a James Bond, who is identified as “SOS, Agent in Charge.” Military and intelligence officials said that they did not know of a Mr. Bond who had been assigned to Abu Ghraib, and that it was possible that the name was an alias.

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This

by Belle Waring on May 25, 2004

My mother was visiting here in Singapore when Brandon Mayfield was first arrested in Oregon. The FBI claimed to have found his fingerprint on a plastic bag associated with bomb materials turned up by Spanish investigators of the Madrid train bombings. Mayfield is a white American convert to Islam, and was tangentially associated with one of the men convicted in an Oregon terrorism case (Jeffrey Battle), having represented him in a custody dispute. He claimed not to have been outside the US in nearly ten years, a claim made all the more plausible by the fact that he does not currently have a valid passport.

Mom’s verdict: this is a total set-up. The FBI has been monitoring this guy for a while and now they want to pin something on him. But Mom, I said stupidly, granting that fingerprint matching is not a particularly exact science, and wrong ID’s do happen, what are the odds that the wrong match would happen to be a convert to Islam with any connection, no matter how tenuous, to any alleged terrorists? And she said, exactly. You just wait and see. Well, once again, she was right (though, as of a few days ago, he was still barred from talking about the case or leaving his house without permission from the authorities). Here is a quote from the official FBI apology to Mayfield (I’m actually pleased and suprised that they did apologize, so, 10 points for the FBI):

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Some good news

by John Q on May 25, 2004

Abu Ghraib prison is to be demolished. Obviously, I welcome this news and hope that this symbolic measure will be accompanied by the substantive changes it should represent, including the abandonment of the policy of detention without trial.

May he rest in laughter

by Harry on May 25, 2004

At last the diocese has given him what he wanted.