04 September, 2010

Another giant leap for world cusine

I hate the "political spectrum" of "liberals" and "conservatives"

...because in the real world, people differ on more than one dimension, and the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have been so misused they have lost much of their practical meaning.  Occasionally, somebody points this out.  Much more rarely, that someone is a journalist:
“Liberal,” in Europe, means almost the reverse of what it means in North America. In Europe, it refers to laissez-faire economic policy. And because most large parties of the European left and right are committed to maintaining large, bureaucratic welfare states, liberal parties across the continent tend to be fairly small.

Liberal Democrats in Britain, the Liberal Alternative in France, Progressive Democrats in Ireland, Free Democrats (or Die Liberalen) in Germany — these smallish, also-ran parties pipe up reliably in parliament for freer markets, civil liberties and (sometimes) lower taxes. Now and then, they even form ruling coalitions with a big party on the left or right. In American English, they’d be called “neoliberal” or “libertarian.” But they’re also the parties closest in spirit to liberal democracy as it’s practiced in the United States.
Is it just a problem of essentially contested concepts?  No, there's something more here--deliberate obfuscation to use the emotional power of a particular word to carry an argument. And most reporters play right into it.

03 September, 2010

The dark side

Fabius Maximus (always worth a look) finds some unpleasant parallels between now, the past, and film:
Summary:  All we need do is to strike Iran with all our hatred, and our journey towards the dark side will be complete.
After years of propaganda the US population has become eager for war, much like the people of Europe were in 1914... 
I'm not so sure the American people are eager.  I do believe they could be manipulated long enough to be willing to let it happen, and then find they can't get out.  The main point, however, is a good one.

Electioneering in Afghanistan

This is not the way to encourage democracy.

15:24 02/09/2010 KABUL, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - Six people were killed and more than 10 were injured on Thursday when NATO aviation mistakenly attacked an election rally in the country's north, local officials said.

The attack took place in the Takhar province. The NATO servicemen believed that they were targeting a militant meeting, a spokesman for the province's governor said.

Neither NATO, nor the International Security Assistance Force's commanders have commented.

Accidental attacks by NATO aviation on civilians are common in Afghanistan, and are a major cause behind growing resentment at the presence of foreign troops.

Elections to the Afghan parliament's lower house, Wolesi Jirga, will take place on September 18. The polls were initially scheduled to be held in January, but were then postponed because of "security concerns, logistical problems, and insufficient funds."

A total of 2.577 candidates, including 405 women, are expected to run.

It's not great for maintaining an alliance, either.  Granted, mistakes happen.  If they happen too often its time to reconsider the tactic.