From the monthly archives:

February 2005

Ukraine blogging

by Maria on February 24, 2005

Better late than never – Via euro-correspondent, I’ve only just come across Veronica Kokhlova’s wonderful blog Neeka’s Backlog. I only wish I’d had the wit to have found it back in November, if not long before that. Kokhlova’s blog from Ukraine is (to my mind) well informed, sharp, warm and passionate.

Illustrating the superficiality of most westerners’ knowledge of politics in Ukraine, Kokhlova draws attention to a piece in the NYT earlier this week, noting;

“the paragraph, in which Yushchenko’s name was spelled as “Yushenchenko,” is now gone completely, together with any mention of Ukraine.

The way that paragraph described our election saga was awesome, too: “Mr. Putin also actively opposed the pro-Western candidacy of the Ukrainian presidential candidate, Viktor A. Yushenchenko [sic], who was ultimately sworn into office.”

It reminded me of Putin’s famous answer to Larry King’s question about what happened to the Kursk submarine: “It sank,” he said.”

A related site has hundreds of beautiful and informative photographs taken by Kokhlova in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere.

Time Out of Joint

by John Holbo on February 23, 2005

My colleague, Mike Pelczar, passed this under my nose this afternoon. A letter in the latest APA Proceedings and Addresses volume:

Why are philosophers limited to one-at-a-time journal submissions? Law professors can submit articles to as many journals as they like. It seems to work. We can submit book manuscripts to multiple publishers …

[Stories about inordinately slow responses from journals.]

Why can’t the APA do something about this? My first suggestion is that the organization force the journals to allow multiple submissions. My second suggestion is that we organize a little civil disobedience. People are afraid of breaking the custom (surely it’s not more than that?) but if enough people did it, it would cease to exist.

Bonnie Steinbock
University at Albany/SUNY

This seems to me an eminently reasonable proposal. Discuss. I would be interested to hear how things work differently in law and other disciplines. Probably Eugene Volokh has written some big old thing addressing this very question. But I must have missed it.

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And then they came for me

by Maria on February 23, 2005

Via Statewatch, a story of four Air Horizon passengers being prosecuted by the French government for objecting to a forced deportation on their flight. Probably the most chilling aspect is the insistence by cabin crew, policy, the airline and the state that it’s perfectly normal to share a plane with a hysterical man crying “I am not a slave” as he is assaulted and gagged by a glove shoved into his mouth.

This is the reality of European immigration policy, whether we like it or not. And as bizaare and Kafka-esque as it is to prosecute people who object to being made a part of the machinery of expulsion, the fact is that the young Congolese man was safer on a commercial flight than using another means.

Perversely, I’m glad that four articulate and well-connected Europeans are being prosecuted for doing their moral duty. It seems to me that every time we accept a narrowing of human rights as a trade-off for better security, we do so on the unspoken assumption that the person suffering will never be ‘one of us’.

Labour’s antisemitic strategy?

by Chris Bertram on February 23, 2005

The ghastly Rod Liddle has “a piece in the Spectator”: alleging that Tony Blair’s Labour Party has a strategy of pandering to anti-Semitic prejudice in order to win over Muslim voters. The piece contains such gems as “many psychoanalysts believe that the Left’s aversion to capitalism is simply a displaced loathing of Jews.” (Tony Blair’s Labour Party has an aversion to capitalism???!!!) Liddle’s usual sensitivity to the feelings of minorities is expressed in his recent “Things I shouldn’t say about black people”:,,2088-1491679,00.html in the Sunday Times, “ably exposed by Matthew Turner”: . Melanie Phillips (about whom see also Chris Brooke “here”: ) is now promoting the “Labour anti-Semitism theory”: in the notorious FrontPage magazine.

Which is more likely (a) that New Labour strategists have decided on a campaign strategy on the lines delineated by Phillips and Liddle or (b) that someone else (perhaps some adviser to Tory Central Office?) has decided that an effective strategy for unsettling Labour politicians and putting them on the defensive is to fling around allegations of anti-Semitism?

[Small update: John Band “makes the point”: that we shouldn’t let our disgust at the antics of the likes of Liddle and the Tory party blind us to the real problem of anti-semitism and recommends “this piece by Johann Hari”: , a recommendation I endorse.]

Discover the network

by Ted on February 22, 2005


(This is probably unfair; as Dead Parrots notes, USA Next cares as little for copyright as they do for their own dignity. It is funny, though.)

Living up to conservative principles

by Ted on February 22, 2005

Good point from Mark Schmitt:

Back when the Medicare bill was on the floor and I was just starting this blog, I argued that the Democrats, rather than proposing a $1 trillion prescription drug benefit, should have proposed something that cost less and did much more, such as the Clinton bill of 2000, which at the time cost $253 billion and even three years later would certainly not have cost more than the $400 billion claimed cost of the Bush bill, while doing much more. Such an alternative would have put the handful of real conservatives, who were being told by their leaders that if they didn’t vote for the Republican bill, the Democrats would sweep in with something even bigger, in a very awkward position. But now that the real cost of the Bush bill is $1.2 trillion, I realize that I was wrong: the Democrats were perfectly responsible, and did propose a bill that cost less and did more than the Bush bill. And because it contained some real cost controls, its cost was not likely to escalate much beyond that.

(Background on the $253 billion bill here.) And I haven’t excerpted any of the David Brooks-bashing! Come on, you’ve got to click over for that!

UN Dispatch

by Henry Farrell on February 22, 2005

As Dan Drezner and I noted in our “Foreign Policy article”:, the blogosphere is surprisingly bad at providing information on politics outside the US. Ethan Zuckerman’s “research”: provides evidence that the blogosphere’s interests track those of traditional media, and that in some ways it does a worse job than traditional media in covering world politics. Some argue that right wing blogs do a better job than left wing ones in taking account of international politics – I doubt that it’s true. With a few prominent exceptions (such as Greg Djerejian’s “Belgravia Dispatch”:, right wing blogs, like most of their left wing equivalents, tend to focus almost exclusively on prominent stories that support their domestic political preferences.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that blogs like the newly created “UN Dispatch”: can fill an unmet need, giving us a take on the UN that isn’t limited to cheap gotchas about corruption and sex scandals. It’s being run by Peter Daou, whose “Daou report”: has just moved to Salon, and it looks to be a very interesting and useful resource. _UN Dispatch_ is run out of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, so it can be expected to take a broadly pro-UN line – but on first glance, it appears to be rather stronger on actual factual information about the strengths and weaknesses of the UN than any of the other blogs opining on UN-related issues. One that I’ll be reading.

New Europe/Old Europe

by Henry Farrell on February 22, 2005

Two interesting articles in the _Financial Times_ about how changes in internal EU politics are likely to affect the transatlantic relationship. First, “Wolfgang Munchau”: (sub required) talks about how US policy towards Europe can’t just consist of “picking your favourite partner for your favourite mission, and playing one country off against another” as it used to. As Munchau says, there’s a real sense in the capitals of Europe that the EU is becoming a more coherent foreign policy actor – and that the US needs to wake up to this. Stefan Wagstyl’s “article”: on how the countries of central and eastern Europe are adapting to EU membership should be of even greater concern to the divide and conquer school of US policy towards Europe. As Wagstyl says, not only do mass publics in former Warsaw Pact countries seem much keener on EU membership than anyone would have anticipated a year ago – membership is substantially affecting these countries’ foreign policy outlook. Countries like Poland, which many expected to act as an advocate for US interests within the EU, are going native.

bq. The best defence is closer integration with the EU, including on foreign policy and security issues, central Europeans are concluding. Officials say Nato, as a military alliance with an increasingly global responsibility, may be less useful than the EU in confronting non-military threats in Europe. That could imply less reliance on the US as a security partner and more on EU states – even in Poland, often seen as Washington’s strongest central European ally.

bq. Polish officials consider the country received little in return for its support of America in the Iraq war. Warsaw is to bring its peacekeeping unit home from Iraq this year. Marcin Zaborowski, a Polish foreign policy expert, recently published a paper for the EU’s Institute for Security Studies, arguing that “Poland’s Atlanticism is likely to be toned down in future”.

This can also be traced back to the EU’s successful role in supporting democracy in the Ukraine – and the realization by countries like Poland that their membership of the EU is a valuable foreign policy resource.

bq. the Ukrainian crisis was a lesson in the EU’s political clout, as national leaders from the newly expanded club persuaded Mr Kuchma’s side to accept defeat. Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Valdas Adamkus, his Lithuanian counterpart, worked with Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, to secure that outcome. But Polish and Lithuanian officials are the first to acknowledge that their presidents’ influence was based primarily on their roles not as local national leaders but as representatives of the whole EU.

None of this is exactly surprising to scholars of the EU, who are acutely aware that it’s more than a traditional international organization, if less than a state. But the ways in which member states become socialized into the “EU club” are poorly understood in the US, where foreign policy experts usually see the EU as just another multilateral institution like NATO. This may have interesting long term consequences. Part of the reason that the US has advocated Turkish membership of the EU is its hope that Turkey will help pull the EU in a more Atlanticist direction. If Poland’s example is anything to go by, the pull may well go the other way – as Turkey becomes more enmeshed in the EU, it’s likely to start identifying more with the European project than with its trans-Atlantic ties.

Livingstone, Campbell, Galbraith

by Daniel on February 22, 2005

Just to note that the Ken Livingstone Nazi comparison apology scandal has now reached day fourteen and is therefore across the Campbell Threshold (Alastair Campbell’s rule of thumb that a story which stays in the headlines for more than thirteen days will begin to have some effect on the voters; usually used for deciding to sack Labour ministers). However, Red Ken currently has a Galbraith score (based on JK Galbraith’s observation that anyone who says four times that he will not resign, will) of zero. His Galbraith score with respect to refusing to apologise is four by my count, however, so I’m guessing that in the next couple of days he will do so.

Followup on Tal Afar

by Kieran Healy on February 22, 2005

More correspondence, this time from a soldier stationed in Iraq who saw my “recent post”: about the terrible shooting in Tal Afar. I reproduce the post below the fold. I should say that I can’t verify the identify of my correspondent, but I have no reason to doubt what he says about himself.

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Summers Lovin’

by Kieran Healy on February 21, 2005

A correspondent writes that “my complaints”: about the “Summers controversy”: are unfair to Larry Summers. If you’re interested, his case and my reply are below the fold.

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Harry Frankfurt on The Daily Show

by Brian on February 21, 2005

Karen Bennett (Philosophy, Princeton) reports that Harry Frankfurt is scheduled to be on _The Daily Show_, presumably promoting his book “On Bullshit”: The date is now set to be March 14, though that doesn’t seem to be absolutely certain. Non-philosophers should feel free to be less overjoyed with excitement at a philosopher getting this much attention, but I think it’s rather fun, and that episode won’t end up being one of the _Daily Shows_ that I miss – or fastforward through the interview.

UPDATE: Scott McLemee has a nice review of “On Bullshit”:, together with a discussion of Gerry Cohen’s reply, at Inside Higher Ed.

Atkins and Pollard

by Harry on February 21, 2005

Chris Brooke provides some anecdotal evidence that the Atkins diet may not be all it is cracked up to be. Pollard is not much thinner than before the diet and looks… well, considerably less cheerful. Or maybe, as Chris hints in a comment, this testimony followed his incredibly disappointing evening at a local restaraunt.

Kelo v New London

by Belle Waring on February 21, 2005

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case which could decide the limits of the power of eminent domain. The question in the case is whether the government of New London, CT can seize homeowners’ property and give it to private developers in a bid to “revitalize” the town. (Link to AP story).

Fort Trumbull is not besieged by blight, poverty or crime and New London is not building a highway or government building, and the residents’ appeal asks if “public use” allows governments to seize unblighted taxpayer property solely to encourage private development.

…New London officials say the taxes generated by redeveloping Fort Trumbull ultimately will benefit the public, and the state Supreme Court ruled that was enough to justify the condemnation.

That line of reasoning seems incredibly weak, and the potential for abuse, enormous. The Connecticut Supremes also relied on a rather dubious (and notorious) precedent:

The state Supreme Court majority in Kelo relied heavily on a 1981 Michigan Supreme Court ruling – Poletown Neighborhood Council vs. City of Detroit – which it cited as a “landmark” eminent domain case. But several months after the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its ruling in Kelo, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed its Poletown ruling. (Link to Hartford Courant article)

The Reason Foundation is assisting the plaintiffs. I think it’s obvious the Supreme Court should reverse the state Supreme Court, but I’m curious to see how the justices decide. Am I rooting for Scalia on this? Does anyone know how the justices are predicted to vote? (I seem to remember Eugene Volokh had a betting pool for Supreme Court decisions…)

America’s worst race riot

by Chris Bertram on February 19, 2005

Today’s Financial Times has “a remarkable article about the Tulsa riot of 1921”: — essentially a bout of ethnic cleansing — its disappearance from official memory for over fifty years and the long struggle of the survivors and their descendants for recognition and compensation:

bq. Historians call the firestorm that convulsed Tulsa from the evening of May 31 into the afternoon of June 1 the single worst event in the history of American race relations. To most Tulsans it is simply “the riot”. But the carnage had nothing in common with the mass protests of Chicago, Detroit and Newark in the 1960s or the urban violence that laid siege to Los Angeles in 1992 after the white police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted. The 1921 Tulsa race riot owes its name to an older American tradition, to the days when white mobs, with the consent of local authorities, dared to rid themselves of their black neighbours. The endeavour was an opportunity “to run the Negro out of Tulsa”.

The whole thing is worth reading.