Shorter US election

by John Quiggin on September 16, 2004

Having been distracted by wonkish obsessions like current account deficits, fiscal bankruptcy and the situation in Iraq, Indonesia and other unimportant countries[1], I haven’t been able to keep up with the US election campaign as closely as I would like. But, following a quick tour of the press and the blogosphere, I’ve come up with the following shorter[2] (© D^2)version for others who may be in a similar position.

The crucial issue is to determine which candidate has the better record on Vietnam, and will therefore make the better president. As I understand it:

* Kerry fought in Vietnam, but then came back and denounced the war
* Bush didn’t fight, but supported the war
* There are a lot of memos

That seems to be all I need to know[3]. Have I missed anything important?

fn1. Such as Australia, which is also holding an election.

fn2. Thanks to commenter Luis over at my blog for tech support on the copyright symbol. Now if I could just do a copyleft symbol! DD points out that it’s been released to the public domain, but I still like to acknowledge him.

fn3. Or would be, if I had a vote in the election that will actually determine Australian policy on most issues, rather than our local exercise in democracy.

Johnny Ramone, RIP

by Ted on September 16, 2004

Johnny Ramone died in his sleep last night. Ben Weasel, one of my favorite punk rockers, has a tribute to the late, great pioneer.

Johnny Ramone was never recognized as a revolutionary guitarist. Chuck Berry gave us rock and roll guitar playing. Hendrix showed us what the instrument was capable of in the hands of somebody with the ambition, vision and tenacity to bend it to his will. But what Johnny Ramone contributed to rock and roll guitar playing was just as important – maybe even more important – because he took the instrument away from the rock gods and handed it back to the rest of us. Johnny turned the guitar back into a brutal, primal, stunningly effective tool. He proved that you didn’t need to be a virtuoso to be a great guitarist. He reminded the world that rock and roll was supposed to be fun.

Guilty by search

by Eszter Hargittai on September 16, 2004

Here is another tidbit in the CBS memo saga, but with a different twist: a case of mistaken identity.

My name is Robert Strong, and I am indeed a college professor. I am not, however, the Robert Strong who spoke to CBS. I never met Killian, I never lived in Texas, and I never served in that state’s Air National Guard. But on the Internet none of this matters.

Ever since the 60 Minutes broadcast, I have been getting angry e-mails from Bush supporters who are sure that I am a key player in a vast left-wing conspiracy bent on diminishing the president’s not extraordinary record of military service.

How did I become the enemy du jour of all those spiteful Republicans? I guess it has something to do with Google. Last week, if you typed the words Professor Robert Strong in the popular search engine, a webpage that happens to be about me appeared at the top of the list. For those who have been filling my e-mail inbox with vicious vitriol, that was apparently evidence enough. CBS says that its Bush-bashing documents have been authenticated by Strong; Google tells everyone on the Internet that I am Professor Strong. That’s it. I am guilty as Googled.

At first, I found all of this a bit funny. Here I was in the midst of my 15 minutes of fame, and it was just a case of mistaken identity. But the more e-mails I read, the less amused I became. The meat they contain is more raw and distasteful than any spam I have ever encountered.

Read the full article for more. (Access to the article does require registration, I’m afraid.)

Wolfowitz is right

by John Quiggin on September 16, 2004

Since I don’t often agree with Paul Wolfowitz, it’s worth mentioning it when I do, particularly when he comments on an issue close to home. His opinion piece in todays NYT denounces the bringing of criminal defamation charges against the editor of leading Indonesian magazine Tempo for a piece criticising a powerful businessman[1].

Here’s a story in the Australian which makes it clear that the businessman in question is of the class who would be described, here in Australia, as colourful.

[click to continue…]

Civil War in Iraq

by Daniel on September 16, 2004

An article over at Harry’s Place gives what I think is probably the most eloquent version of the pro-(that)-war-(then) Left’s take on current events in Iraq. My main point of disagreement would be that I don’t think we’re making matters better by staying there (I also think that it’s probably a mistake to regard the anti-US forces as monolithic and undifferentiated “terrorists”). But it makes a number of good points which need to be taken seriously.