Monthly Archives: May 2008

Goodbye United Nations, Hello League of Democracies? Not Quite…

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[H/t Don’t trip up]

Stephen writes:

From the crisis in Darfur to the genocides of Rwanda and Kosovo, the United Nations has repeatedly been embarrassed by its inability to act. Certain member states with seats on the Security Council have managed to block attempts to intervene in instances of genocide and mass murder, with tragic consequences. It is not the multilateral institution that has failed, it is some of its members who have blocked much needed action.

It is that failing that makes the idea of a league of democracies so appealing (promoted recently by John McCain, but the idea has a wider history). The liberal internationalist dream would stand a chance of being realised if a multinational organisation was not hamstrung by illiberal members.

Such an organisation would stand a chance of acting when foreign peoples were in need of intervention. It might be able to act to force Robert Mugabe out of Zimbabwe or for Burmese military junta to open up their borders to aid workers.

Senator McCain announced his support for a League of Democracies at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution last May (2007). In his speech, McCain argued:

This League of Democracies would not supplant the United Nations or other international organizations. It would complement them. But it would be the one organization where the world’s democracies could come together to discuss problems and solutions on the basis of shared principles and a common vision of the future.

I commend McCain for stating the organization could apply more serious sanctions against Iran and act “without approval from Moscow or Beijing”. I disagree with McCain regarding the need to supplant the U.N. As Stephen notes above, the recent actions of China and Indonesia regarding blocking aid to Burma should make it clear that the organization is impotent to act in the most pressing cases (famine, war, genocide). But somehow the U.N. always finds a way to get together to discuss yet another anti-Israel resolution or to fund another “Zionism = racism” conference.

I am also skeptical about the capacity and/or will (in many cases both) of other democratic countries in the League to use force. As others have noted, besides the U.S., U.K. and Australia, which other democracies are going to volunteer the troops necessary for these operations? Canada? France? Spain? Italy? the Netherlands?

Read More:

U.N. Watch: UN Human Rights Council’s “Pretty Packed Schedule” Has No Time for Myanmar’s Starving Victims.

Robert Kagan: The case for a League of Democracies

Atlantic Review: John McCain’s Leauge of Democracies

Security Dilemmas: How a League of Democracies Could Work

The Economist: League of Democracies

WaPo

The Best of Ron Paul Art

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[h/t to Sultan Knish]

The Sultan writes:

Lately I’ve been getting emails and comment spam demanding that I revisit the failed candidacy of Ron Paul, which is somehow no longer a failed candidacy because of the attempted hijacking of the Nevada convention. And since it is late at night and no one is reading anyway, I’m happy to revisit it.

Behold.

In the far future, seconds from now, when historians will gather around their campfires and herd their yaks together to gaze back across the vast oasis of time at the great religious movements of history, they will no doubt cast their glance back at the great epochal tide of religious movements, Edisonism, Glaucology and of course the Ron Paul Campaign.

Like any great religious movement the Ron Paul campaign has produced no shortage of great art and it is our manifest destiny here to present them in all their glory.

[read it all]

[Ron Paul Revolution Liberty Goat]

More than Seven Songs

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After a nudge from CC and Bob, here are some songs that I have been been listening to lately which are “shaping my Spring.”

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.”

I bent the rules a bit but I hope you enjoy the tunes.

In the cases where I could not locate a full version of the song, I provided a link to a short sample to give you a taste of the flavor. Or, if you prefer, download the full versions.

(alphabetical order)

1. The Detroit Experiment: “Space Odyssey

This first cut is a remake of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave’s classic horny jam. In addition to Belgrave (a veteran of Detroit’s Tribe record collective), saxophonist Bennie Maupin, pianist Geri Allen and violinist Regina Carter also appear on the cd. Carl Craig, better known for Detroit techno, is the producer who pulls it all together. Bonus :”Think Twice

2. George Duke: “Psychocomatic Dung

70s jazz-funk soundscapes before he got too smoothed out. From the “Faces in Reflection” featuring Duke on various keyboards, bassist John Heard and Leon Ndugu Chancler on drums. The song is carried along by a thumping bass line, triple-time breakbeats, and Duke’s speedy fingers. Out of sight.

Samples from the album here. Check this out too!

3. Jacob’s Optical Stairway: “Fragments of a Lost Language.”

Marc Mac and Dego of 4Hero fame. This is their first and album as Jacob’s Optical Stairway. (yes, I bought it on wax when it came out). They did an ep after this but it was much more rugged. This reminds me of warm weather, outdoor parties, bbqs, good times. I still can’t get enough of it more than a decade later.

4. Kool and the Gang: “Chocolate Buttermilk

A classic funk jam. If you are only familiar with their disco hits, this might surprise you. It’s the shiznit. Do the kids say that anymore?

5. Lord Finesse: “Bad Mutha”.

One of my all-time favorite MCs and producers.

Very down to earth cool dude in person too.

Diggin’ In the Crates (DITC) Represent.

6. Malo: “Nena

70s Latin-soul-rock-funk.

Sounds like NYC Latin funk? This is Los Angeles, Cali. Chicano soul. They had one big hit, “Suavecito.”

7. Jay Rodriguez: “Sunday Kind of Love

Live in Italy.

The line-up is Rodriguez (saxophone and flute), Chucho Valdés (piano), Ratzo B. Harris (bass), Victor Jones (drums). No Chucho on this track.

8. Chucho Valdés: “Con Poco Coco.” From the Bele Bele en la Habana cd. Listen to all the samples while you are there.

Bonus: Here’s a vid. for “Son No. 1”.

MORE:

Al Green has also been in the mix lately but I couldn’t pick one song. My wife and I are seeing Mr. Green with Dianne Reeves at Carnegie Hall next month.

UPDATE:

Downloads removed. You can find them elsewhere.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer: In India, as in Israel, Peace Process Means Terror

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[I was linked in an article by Judith Apter Klinghoffer at the History News Network (HNN). I have no idea if she reads this blog regularly or if she simply came across a link coincidentally. In either case, it made my day.]

Here we go again. 8 bombs exploded in a crowded ancient city populated by Hindus and Muslims during the height of shopping and praying hours. 80 men, women and children are confirmed dead. 150 were wounded. The hospitals are overflowing with the injured, their loved ones and blood donors. “Since both communities were targeted, it is clearly an attack on India,” an eyewitness said. Replace Hindus with Jews. Jaipur with Haifa and it all seems so very familiar. Both cities are also known for their beauty.

Familiar is also the immediate reason for the terrorist attack. Later this month the Indian foreign minister is about to embark on a visit to Pakistan as part of the ongoing peace process between the two nuclear armed neighbors. In India, as in Israel, Islamists opposed to the process, demonstrate their displeasure by murdering innocent civilians.

President Bush’s visit to the Middle East has already been preceded by Hezbollah muscle flexing in Lebanon and rockets from Gaza killing a 70 year old woman only a couple of days ago. I am sure the Israeli security forces are holding their breath as past experience does not offer much consolation. As I am writing I get the dreaded news – Missile hits Ashkelon Mall: Babies, children among wounded.

The world may more familiar with Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or the Al Aktza brigade, but there is little difference between them and the terrorist groups operating in India. Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) was founded in 1992. It is a Talibanlike group inspired by Bin Laden headquartered in Bangladesh but with links to Pakistan. It is held responsible for terrorist attacks in Ajmer and Hydrabad.

[read it all]

The New Criterion: Special Section on Education

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The recent edition of The New Criterion has a special section concerning education. I’ve only had a chance to read Paquette’s article but all of them look interesting:

Introduction: What was a liberal education?

by Roger Kimball

An introduction to our special issue on education.

———————————–

On the sadness of higher education

by Alan Charles Kors

On comparing the university life then with now.

———————————–

The world we have lost: a parable on the academy

by Robert L. Paquette

On the Alexander Hamilton Center affair at Hamilton College.

———————————–

The new learning that failed

by Victor Davis Hanson

On the value of classical learning.

———————————–

Liberalism vs. humanism

by James Piereson

On the battle between learning for the sake of learning and learning for utility.

———————————–

The age of educational romanticism

by Charles Murray

On requiring every child to be above average.

Jaipur Terror Bombings Kill 75 and Counting

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I woke up this morning to news of another spate of terrorist bombings in India, this time in Jaipur. News reports are coming in as I type. Seven blasts were reported with bombs detonated at Tripolia Bazar, the Hindu Hanuman temple, Johari Bazar, Manas Chowk, Badi Choupal and Choti Choupal in the old walled part of the city.

At this point, 75 people are dead. The death toll is expected to rise as more hospitals disclose casualties. Rohit Singh, the spokesman for Rajasthan state, has encouraged calm.

The NYT reports:

Mr. Singh, speaking by telephone from Jaipur, said it was too early to say who was responsible, but that the attack appeared to be intended to incited religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Similar terror attacks on religious sites in recent years have not succeeded in setting off sectarian violence. The Hindu holy city of Varanasi was struck by a pair of bombings in March, 2006, killing 14, and a blast killed two worshippers in one of the holiest Muslim shrines in Ajmer, also in Rajasthan, last September.

At this point no organization has claimed responsibility but the attack comes two days after another terrorist attack in Kashmir. However, The Hindu newspaper claims the:

Banned Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islamia (HuJI), operating from Bangladesh, is believed to be behind the serial blasts that rocked the tourist city of Jaipur…Though baffled by the attack as Jaipur was not on the terror radar, sources said the tell-tale signs of the blasts indicate HuJI’s hand. The blasts showed that HuJI, which is being mainly run from Bangladesh, has managed to establish cells in Rajasthan and that the outfit was responsible for previous major terror attacks including the New Year eve attack on CRPF camp in Rampur and serial blasts in three other places in Uttar Pradesh.

Read more:

Indian Express

JPost

Reuters

Wall Street Journal

Academic Silliness: “Resistance Studies”

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The left academic scene is rife with interdisciplinary silliness these days. It started in the heyday of the New Left with “(insert favorite minority group here) Studies,” expanded to include “Women’s Studies,” “LGBT Studies” and “Peace Studies.” From Negations, I learn of the “Resistance Studies” journal emanating from the University of Göteborg (Sweden).

In the editors’ words, “Due to the multifaceted reality of social relations (understood in the widest of senses), there can be no a priori rules of method confined to disciplinary boundaries.” Not only is this a misguided effort but the editors can’t even manage to get the facts right.

C. Kullenberg and J. Lehne write:

On the 15th of February 2003 millions of people around the world hit the streets in a manifestation against the war in Iraq. The protest was coordinated from ‘below’, by grass-root movements displaying their ability to form transnational networks. But how could the protest evolve like this in the first place?

Well, it helps to tell the truth. In the United States, these protests were organized by communist sects like ANSWER. I would never claim or even imply that most of the participants were members of ANSWER but the funding and logistics (busses, etc.) was clearly coming from this unsavory group. But I realize its not good PR to say, “we are all useful idiots and fellow travelers,” so you need to wrap it up in some hip new social movements jargon.

Tim Gough (Kinston College), a contributing author to the journal notes, “There is an apparently paradoxical nature to resistance. Resistance is resistance against something, towards which it appears inimical. This resisted thing, however, requires such resistance in order to define itself and keep itself safe.” Deep, man. Real deep.

But my favorite was Jeffrey Shantz’ “Anarchist Futures in the Present” in which he profers “autonomous zones” as building blocs of a future libertarian communist society. Are you kidding me, man? This is what passes for intelligent discourse in the academy these days and it’s quite sad, really.

Don’t believe me? Visit the Resistance Studies blog.

Finished grading

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I finally finished grading all my papers and submitting final grades this afternoon. It takes a while when you require your students to write, rather than assigning multiple-choice exams. As always, there is at least one student who questions why they did not do as well as they thought they should. In most cases the answer is obvious, a failure to do the work at a college level.

Unfortunately, some of my students are unable to write a cohesive paragraph of sentence, let alone identify an author’s thesis or the evidence an author uses to support her thesis. I wonder how these students were even accepted. Have standards declined that much?

I am not a product of elite education. I attended public schools, community college and state college. It took me longer than four years to receive my B.A. and I worked (part-time or full-time) to support myself during my graduate studies. But throughout my higher education there was a requirement that students be able to communicate in standard written English. What happened?

Part of this is due to the societal expectation that every individual should attend college. There is also the fact that jobs which did not require college degrees in the past do require them today. There is an excellent article by “Professor X” (“In the Basement of the Ivory Tower”) in the June Atlantic (not available online yet) which addressed many of the issues I deal with on a daily basis. Here is a bit:

There seems, as is often the case in colleges, to be a huge gulf between academia and reality. No one is thinking about the larger implications, let alone the morality, of admitting so many students to classes they cannot possibly pass. The colleges and the students and I are bobbing up and down in a great wave of societal forces–social optimism on a large scale, the sense of college as both a universal right and a need, financial necessity on the part of the colleges and the students alike, the desire to maintain high academic standards while admitting marginal students–that have coalesced into a mini-tsunami of difficulty.

I’ll post a link to the article when it is available.

Happy 60th to Israel!

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I hope to write something when I can get away from grading papers. In the meantime have a look at these articles and posts:

The Contentious Centrist, “Ahmadinejad Congratulates Israel on Her 60th Birthday.”

CK at Jewlicious, “Israel at 60 Celebrations in Jerusalem.”

Shlomo Avineri in Haartez, “The real Nakhba.

Oliver Kamm, “Israel’s anniversary.”

Efraim Karsh in Commentary, “1948, Israel and the Palestinians—the True Story.”

Eamond Mcdonagh in the Buenos Aires Herald, “A Postcolonial State” (h/t Norm and A.L.)

Zalman Shoval in The Washington Times, “Israel Celebrates 60 Years.”

S.O. Muffin at Harry’s Place, “The Family Secret.” (h/t to A.L. again)