Putin’s speech

by Chris Bertram on September 4, 2004

I just read “the transcript of Putin’s speech”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3627878.stm following the murders in Beslan. In it, Putin expresses nostalgia for the old USSR. Obviously it is intended for a domestic audience and plays to their concerns and expectations. What should we make of the following passage? And who are the “they” of the penultimate paragraph below?

bq. Today we are living in conditions which have emerged following the break-up of a vast great state, a state which unfortunately turned out to be unable to survive in the context of a rapidly changing world. But despite all the difficulties, we have managed to preserve the core of the colossus which was the Soviet Union.

bq. And we called the new country the Russian Federation. We all expected changes, changes for the better. But we have turned out to be absolutely unprepared for much that has changed in our lives…

bq. On the whole, we have to admit that we have failed to recognise the complexity and dangerous nature of the processes taking place in our own country and the world in general. In any case, we have failed to respond to them appropriately.

bq. We showed weakness, and the weak are trampled upon. Some want to cut off a juicy morsel from us while others are helping them.

bq. They are helping because they believe that, as one of the world’s major nuclear powers, Russia is still posing a threat to someone, and therefore this threat must be removed.

bq. And terrorism is, of course, only a tool for achieving these goals. But as I have already said many times, we have faced crises, mutinies and acts of terror more than once.

Religion and Class

by Kieran Healy on September 4, 2004

Berkeley’s “Mike Hout”:http://sociology.berkeley.edu/faculty/hout/ and my colleague “Fr Andrew Greeley”:http://www.agreeley.com/author.html have an “Op-Ed in the Times today”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/04/opinion/04greeley.html?ex=1252036800&en=76ca9f02982c96ca&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland making some good points about the Republican Party’s support amongst Evangelical Christians. Religious and political conservatism don’t line up as closely as you might think, and certainly not as much as the talking heads assume. The intervening factor is how much money you make:

bq. [N]either region nor religion can override the class divide: if recent patterns hold, a majority (about 52 percent) of poor Southern white evangelicals will vote for Mr. Kerry in November, while only 12 percent of affluent Southern white evangelicals will.

bq. Most poorer Americans of every faith – including evangelical Christians – vote for Democrats. It’s a shame that few pundits, pollsters or politicians seem to notice.

A related point is that the swing to the Republican in the South has not not been a uniform migration. More of the better off have drifted, but not necessarily the poorer Whites. Of course, the claim isn’t that all poorer White Evangelicals vote Democrat — Brayden can testify to that — but rather that a surprisingly large number do, even after the universally acknowledged success of the “Southern Strategy”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy and the long-running tactic (going back to Reagan) of appealing to the Patriotism of poorer Americans in an effort to make them forget about their pocketbooks.

Political blogger who is who dinner

by Eszter Hargittai on September 4, 2004

Thanks to Henry Farrell and Dan Drezner, those attending the American Political Science Association’s meetings in Chicago this weekend were in for quite a treat at yesterday afternoon’s session on The Power and Politics of Blogs. The session started out with two papers (one by Henry and Dan, the other by Laura McKenna formerly of Apt 11D and Antoinette Pole) followed by some interesting commentary from well-known political bloggers Mark Kleiman and Ana Marie Cox aka Wonkette and a final discussion with some good questions and thoughtful points by Cass Sunstein. The Q&A was interesting as well, congrats to Henry and Dan for putting together such a great panel! (As an additional treat, I finally got to meet (albeit way too briefly) another Timberite, Harry, so my CT number improved a bit again.)

Later in the evening, a bunch of us met up for drinks and dinner, which provided a nice oppportunity to chat with people whose blogs I’ve been reading for a while. I enjoyed discussing the topical versus ideological splits in the blogosphere with Cass Sunstein. I have a project that is attempting to test the latter (which I usually just refer to as the Sunstein thesis) empirically, and will certainly keep you posted. All-in-all, it was really fun to meet all these bloggers face-to-face and, again, thanks to Henry and Dan for organizing such a great blogger day!

Yusuf al-Qaradawi

by Chris Bertram on September 4, 2004

The recent visit to Britain of Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and his reception by London mayor Ken Livingstone generated a lot of controversy. I confess that I was a little bit skeptical about some of the claims made about him by his opponents on a “they would say that, wouldn’t they?” basis. His latest declaration calling on Muslims to fight the Americans in Iraq and including civilians as legitimate targets should remove any doubt. Juan Cole — who can read the Arabic sources and is not one of the people who recycles the ravings of Daniel Pipes — is disgusted, “and provides a good deal of further background”:http://www.juancole.com/2004_09_01_juancole_archive.html#109419064196351096 .