Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Random things. Thanks to Patrick and Josh for links. Josh, I should say belatedly, is back to his old blogging habits. His link refers to my discussion of Iowa, and I may (or may not) respond to him at some point. Patrick seems to be on a campaign, I note with gratitude, to drive traffic to waldheim.
Also, I saw this in a misplaced comment in Crooked Timber, and I don't know how well known it is. (It seems not to be, since people don't seem to use it.) Apparently, using this website, you can create static links to New York Times articles that won't disappear into the archives after two weeks. It actually seems to work, based on a test I ran by grabbing an old Times URL from my archives. There's even a bookmarklet to do it. (More information is available from Dave Winer.)
Blogroll updates: I have belatedly added Historiological Notes and Protocols to the blogroll. (I only recently realized that I hadn't added Historiological Notes a long time ago.)
Finally, via Zach, I just discovered Evan Cobb's blog Haifisching. A good read.
UPDATE: Thanks also to the Amateur Intellectual for the link. Also, a further Google search that has me wondering and worried: today someone got here by googling Josh Chafetz + nazi. Now, I might not agree with Josh on many things, but to call him a nazi is totally unfair.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Some quick links without much in the way of comment.
The CBC's report on the Supreme Court of Canada hearing arguments about whether the Roman Catholic Church can be held liable for the misdeeds of a priest, not just a particular, incorporated diocese. (Via Marstonalia.) From this article, it's unclear to me who exactly would be liable if the court rules that the Church can be sued. Surely a collector wouldn't go around to Canadian Catholics demanding a small fee. Would a bill go to the Apostolic Delegate (or, nowadays, I guess, to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops)? To the Vatican? There is something worrisome about how the larger, international Church shields itself from legal liability by only existing legally as episcopal corporations. But the Church's lawyer is right when he says that if you make a religion liable for the misdeeds of its clergy, you're potentially chilling the willingness of people to join that religion.
AFP says that as part of its bid to join the EU, Turkey is proposing a law to provide compensation for victims of violence between the Turkish State and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). (Via the Young Fogey.) This will, I gather, keep claims out of the European Court of Human Rights. It's unclear from this article whether there will be public investigations to go along with the claims. Will this process simply provide money to victims and victims' families to keep quiet, or will it provide a TRC-like venue for discussing the war between the Turks and the Kurds?
Via Nathan Newman, news that SEIU's Andy Stern has a new blog. Welcome to the blogosphere, Andy. The first post looks good--nice unofficial tone, seemingly honest reaction to Iowa--and I hope it remains such. Seems like it's too late to enter the Labor Website of the Year contest at LabourStart, though, since voting stops on January 31. (If you haven't voted, which you probably haven't, check out some of the websites and do so.)
And, finally, speaking of LabourStart, a LA Times article (via the Baltimore Sun) about the AFL finally getting involved in the California supermarket strike. All I can say is, about time. Clearly the UFCW's plan isn't working well, and it's time to start making trouble. Frankly, it's absurd that for such a major strike of a nationwide company, there hasn't been more nationwide activity. Where are the leafletters outside east-coast Safeways? I can only hope that bringing in Ron Judd, who coodinated the AFL's role in Seattle, will mean that things will start to get messy in southern California. It's time to take the battle to the streets--specifically, the streets directly outside the homes of Safeway executives.
Other writings on Iowa. My post on Iowa intentionally didn't have any links. But via Nathan Newman, two posts from Daily Kos, one by Tom Schaller, and one from Jordan Barab.
Thoughts on Iowa. Spent much of the day thinking about Iowa, and in fact I've been thinking about it for the past week, because I've had a sinking feeling about Dean ever since he failed to do well in DC. (I haven't spent most of the day thinking about Iowa, because I've spent most of it thinking about France, to which I decided to travel, long term, last night. Certain people have suggested that this blog change it's focus from "history, politics, and sex" to "American in Paris." We'll see. I don't even know what my internet access will be like there.)
These are my thoughts, in rough form, about Iowa.
I am down on Dean today. I've been saying since the beginning of the summer that Dean would win the nomination, and then the general election, because of organization. That should have been right in Iowa, where because of the screwy caucus system organizing counts more than elsewhere. Yet the two candidates with strong organizations--Dean and Gephardt--were the ones who did worst. In particular, Dean's vaunted organization seemed to fail to do its job of bringing in newly-organized, fresh-faced, excited newcomers. In Washington's primary last week, Dean thought he'd win big by relying on a strong volunteer organization and early endorsements from most of DC's elected Democrats. This seems to be the key of his much vaunted 50-state policy. But it didn't work. In an election with unusually high turnout, Dean didn't get above 50%. Yeah, he won, but not by nearly enough. It suggests a core problem in Dean's strategy. I still like Dean for his movement building, I still like him for his ability to raise large amounts of money from large numbers of people, and I still like him for being antiwar. I'm no longer as sanguine about his abilities to win.
One of the very first posts to this blog warned about Gephardt. He's a congenital loser, and I can't even say I feel sorry for him. The failure of his labor backers bring out supporters in Iowa is just what I warned about with labor and Gephardt. It only hurts unions to have endorsed someone who then doesn't win, because it makes unions look weak.
Kerry still doesn't excite me any more than he did last week. His win in Iowa notwithstanding, I think he has several problems. First is his vote in favor of the war. I don't mean this as a litmus test (at least not in this context). From the time Kerry first entered public life, he's been a peacenik. He ran for Massachusetts lieutenant govenor as a peace candidate! The fact that he voted for the war on the eve of his presidential race bespeaks a level of political expediency with which I am uncomfortable. If he hadn't been a life-long peace activist, I would have been willing to look the other way on Iraq (maybe). But his about-face is very disturbing. Worse, I think that nominee Kerry would have the same problem as nominee Gore: total inability to relate to people. He looks awkward on TV, he doesn't appear to have a personal touch, he isn't affable. Like it or not, people relate to George Bush and think he's one of us. Bush isn't, of course--he was born into the lap of luxury just as much as Al Gore or John Kerry--but perception is what matters. Kerry just doesn't pass the "hang test" (to use Andy Stern's term).
That leaves Edwards. I first heard of Edwards in 2000 when I read a New Yorker profile of him when Gore was considering him for his vice-presidential nominee. For at least two years after that, or longer, I described myself as an Edwards man. I'm rather impressed by Edwards' showing in Iowa, and I look forward to his doing well on February 2. On a policy level, I very much like his stated desire to end what he describes as "two Americas." I really do get excited when I hear his populism. And he understands that in order to create "one America," unions need to be strengthened, so he's good on that count, too. Plus he's a southerner, which can't help but work in his favor, and he's good looking.
I'm not taking off my Organized Labor for Dean button quite yet. (I will before I get to Paris, though, since there won't be many registered voters there.) But since my primary goal (no pun intended) is to defeat Bush, Edwards is looking better and better.
Friday, January 16, 2004
Blog business. Thanks to Red and Blue, Oxblog, Little Wild Bouquet, Marstonalia, and The Young Fogey for links.
Others are getting here through increasingly disturbing Google searches. Given the news, a frequent search recently has been "Andrew Fastow Jewish," or some variation of that. Worse than that, though, is the frequent "Howard Dean's Jewess wife," which is downright weird. Who uses the word "Jewess" anymore?
And, now that I'm on the subject of Google: santorum. (As a rule, I disapprove of googlebombs, but the one I'm willing to help with is santorum.)
More horn tooting. A recent string of success in getting letters to editors published had encouraged me to put online the collection of all letters I've ever gotten published. So here it is. Letters to the editor by Jacob Remes. (It's also part of a campaign to get something besides this blog listed high up when I'm googled.) The list excludes letters published in the Yale Daily News while I was a student there--they somehow seem in a different category.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Are you an anti-semite? Not sure? Take this quiz, from the gang at Jewschool (and via Protocols). I am slightly surprised that when I took the test, the result was "Abe Foxman is not spying on you." Perhaps the ADL's failure to spy on me is why I'm not on this remarkably offensive list.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
History and politics. Via Protocols, a fascinating Haaretz interview with revisionist Israeli historian Benny Morris. Much--even most--of what he says I find absolutely repugnant, representing everything I detest about Israel. It's not only the rhetoric he uses to describe Palestinians--"barbarians," "wild animals," "serial killer"--it's the specific policies he calls for, like endorsing what he admits is ethnic cleansing. His view of the Israeli future is profoundly pessimistic. He strongly endorses the Zionist project: "The desire to establish a Jewish state here was a legitimate one, a positive one." But, says the interviewer, that "leaves us, nevertheless, with two possibilities: either a cruel, tragic Zionism, or the forgoing of Zionism." Morris seems happy to accept the "cruel, tragic Zionism." Frankly, I find this logic horrifying. Jews must be Zionists, and Zionism must by its nature be cruel and tragic. Were anyone but a Zionist saying this, there'd be denunciations from the rooftops of antisemitism.
That's not my point, though, none of it. If you can make it through what Morris says about now ("cage" the Palestinians), the future (mass expulsions of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the occupied territories), and what should have been done in the past (more expulsions than there actually were), there's an interesting point to be made about the politics of history. Morris' research, which shows the atrocities committed by Israelis during the 1948 war, has been used by those on the Israeli left and by anti-Zionists to attack Israeli policy about Palestinians. People like me use it to show how Israel (like the US, but 150-some-odd years later) was founded on a policy that is obviously criminal. Morris' history seemes left wing and dovish. Yet his actual personal politics are, as I say above, horrifyingly anti-Palestinian (although he says he's still left-wing). People in the Protocols comments attack Morris for giving the enemies of Israel ammunition.
But Morris is just doing what historians do: researching the past and telling people what they find. The job of a historian is to work to find the truth. The methods of history may be political (I, for instance, see my interest in studying individual, everyday people as a political choice), as may ones understanding of the world through which one seems and interprets historical evidence. As a political actor, a historian may make use of his research in political ways, as Morris does in arguing for "transfer," or as I may in arguing against "transfer"--but the history remains the same. I may find Morris abhorant for what he suggests Israel do today, or what he wishes Israel had done in 1948, but I have to respect him as a historian for trying to find the truth.
Monday, January 12, 2004
I'm embarassed to admit that I don't know much about Paul Martin, despite my interest in Canadian politics. But I'm amused by how I found this website: through an article in the National Review by a Conservative MP. It's odd, because Paul Martin Time is undoubtedly attacking Martin from the left. It's an indication of what can happen in a system with five national parties.
The Columbia Journalism Review's article on the Forward is well worth a read. (Via Protocols.) It explains, to those who don't know, some of the sense of betrayal that I felt that the Forward didn't run Jewish Women Watching's advertisement.
Taking on the wrong demographic. See the most recent Piled Higher and Deeper.
Janus words. Back in July, I posted about words like moot and table that have opposite meanings in US English and other, more British English. (Brett Marson then offered a beer to those who could offer an explaination.) William Safire discusses the phenomenon in yesterday's On Language column, calling them "Janus words." Even were Brett's offer still on the table, he doesn't offer an explaination, and so Safire wouldn't qualify.
UPDATE: Here's a whole list of Janus words.
Report from the AHA. I may post my reactions to the panels I went to later (although the ones about which I have something to say aren't paricularly topical, so I'm not sure how interested people will be in them). HNN's Rick Shenkman wrote a daily discussion about topical (that is, war-related) panels at the conference. He also talks about what turned out to be a remarkably exciting business meeting on Saturday, which featured debate, parliamentary maneuvers, and, finally, a vote to call on Yale respect the rights of its unionizing graduate students. Shenkman's piece on the GESO debate doesn't quite capture the excitement of it, nor the denoument of having the two opposing sides retreat back to the same boozy Yale reception after the meeting.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
What to go to at the AHA conference? The American Historical Association is coming to DC this weekend, and yours truly is going. I spent a while today going through the listings to decide what panels to go to. Here's my list of the ones that look interesting; italics shows the ones I'm most likely to go to in any given time. Depending on my mood and what's actually said, I may report on some of the panels.
Race, Colonialism, and Global Conflict in Germany, 1884–1918
Writing the Global History of Human Rights
Friday afternoon (the hardest choice to be made is here)
Sterilizing the Welcome Mat: Immigration, Eugenics, and Contagion in North America, 1880–1925
Domestic Insecurity: Revisiting Red Scare Politics in the United States, 1930s–60s
North America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: From Atlantic to Continental Economy
War Crimes Trials as Sources for Writing History
Bringing History to the Table: The Role of Historians in Contemporary Political Debate
Toward an International History of the Middle Class
New Perspectives on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: Labor, Race, and the State
Presidential Session—Biography and History: A Dialogue
Maps of Conquest, Maps of Control
Imperial Crisis and Domestic Dissent: A Radical History Review Roundtable
Opening the Doors: Intellectual Life and Academic Conditions in Postwar Baghdad
Sunday early morning
Empire, Environment, and Travel: Gender and Political Culture in the United States, 1880–1920
Between Exclusion and Inclusion: Immigrant Medical Inspection in Argentina, the United States, and Israel
Sunday late morning
Presidential Session—The American Empire: Past, Present, and Future
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Patrick Belton posts "bad jokes for a good new year" over on Oxblog. He includes one of the jokes I told him on New Year's Eve, but excludes another, which I'll post here, because it's my favorite joke. Q: Why do anarchists only drink herbal tea? A: Because they don't believe in proper-tea. (I got the joke from the 404 message on tao.ca, which of course you can't see if you're using IE. Also, they give the punchline as "because proper-tea is theft.")
Cardozo receives $2.25M in Holocaust Claims Case. $2.25 million in unclaimed money in the French Banks Holocaust case will go to Cardozo Law School for a new Holocaust Center--although exactly what that center will be is still up in the air. In this press release, Cardozo's dean says that the center "will be founded in the spirit of the litigation and with the memories of the plaintiffs in mind." I wonder what that means.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Iraqi Union update. A month ago, US forces raided the temporary headquarters of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. (I posted on the raid here and here; the latter includes what I believe to be a complete list of blog postings about the raid from around the world.) On Tuesday the IFTU reported: "Nothing has so far happened. Our head office is still closed. The IGC did not do enough. Iraqi political parties and Iraqi public
personalities did not show solidarity and support with IFTU in these difficult times." Sigh.
Hear that? That's my horn tooting. Once again, the New York Times (in its Magazine, this time) has shown excellent taste in what letters to publish (scroll down about two thirds of the way).
Why I like Dean. I've been saying for a long time that Democrats aren't going to win back the White House by pretending to be something they're not. They're not going to win by having splashy ads or good press or anything like that. Time and again, Republicans have shown that they're simply better than Democrats at these sort of things. They won't win by convincing people who are against "partial-birth abortion" that Democrats really don't like it after all. They won't win by pretending to be against the "Death Tax," and they won't win by trying to be strong on Iraq than George Bush. People aren't stupid, and they won't be convinced that Democrats aren't what they are.
Democrats are going to win, if they do, by organizing.
That's why I support Howard Dean: since early in the summer, he's shown himself to be the only candidate who has the interest or ability in organizing. About a month ago, I linked to an article about how Dean is bringing in organizers from the labor and community organizing movements to try to build the Dean-organizing-movement. (Archives aren't working at writing, though.)
In an overly optimistic diary entry at Daily Kos (via Nathan Newman), Chris Bowers shows how already Dean has built a remarkable network of active organizers in swing states--this, as we all know, before any votes are cast, and long before the general election. Contra Bowers, I don't think this is proof that Dean will "crush" Bush, but I do think in points to how Dean is electable, even in the swing states, even with his (incorrect) reputation as ultra-liberal. And again, even if Dean does lose, a year of organizing on these lines will only build a stronger and more committed Democratic Party.
Incidentially, Bowers also wrote a piece about Bill Richardson and the vice-presidential nomination. Richardson's my choice, I think (strong on foreign policy, from a swing state, Latino), but those in the comments who do raise objections have some interesting concerns
For my DC readers: a reminder to vote next week. I'm pleased that I'll be among the first of my friends (but not neighbors) to vote for president this year, because DC has the nation's first primary. As the Post wrote yesterday, the purpose of the primary was supposed to be bringing Democratic candidates to DC to force them to acknowledge our lack of voting rights. It hasn't worked particularly well: a combination of Terry McAuliffe fighting against the primary and other candidates withdrawing after it became clear that Dean would win has meant that DC got far less coverage than it should. Still, the first votes will be cast in DC, and I predict that next Wednesday newspapers will have on their front pages that Dean won his first primary.
Among people who care deeply about the DC primary, there's a fair amount of debate about whether Dean has adequately campaigned in the District. Check out the comments on these two posts on the DC Primary Blog.
Events in DC (all via FirstPrimaryBlog):
Meet Dennis Kucinich
Mimi's American Bistro
2120 P Street, NW (Dupont Circle)
Friday, Jan. 9, Noon to 1 p.m.
Dean Get Out the Vote Rally
First Congragational Church
10th and G St., NW (Metro Center or Gallery Place)
Saturday, Jan. 10, 2:00 p.m.
Find your polling place here
Tuesday, Jan. 13