Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hossein Derakhshan wrote in Comment is Free today that he would gladly defend Iran in a military conflict with the United States. Even though Iran blocks his own blog, he feels strongly about the right of the Islamic Republic's right to exist. This goes to show how complex feelings about the United States have become internationally. Even though Derakshan desires a free and secular Iran, a distaste for the neo-conservative foreign foreign policies of this administration stands to cause already fleeing loyalty away from the side of the United States.

When Tony Blair announced that he was withdrawing troops as we filtered more in (or rather, retained them via extended tours), some tried to spin it as good news for Iraq. Blair was Bush's lapdog, but it seems public pressure got too much even for him. European governments are distancing themselves from American foreign policy more and more. This seems like something to avoid.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Academic Ceiling

Also, check out my story over at Campus Progress on women in academia pegged to the rise of incoming President Faust at Harvard.

The Real-Life Carrie Bradshaw

I just finished reading Marueen Dowd's most recent book (and yes, I realize I'm reading it a year late, but in my defense, my final year of college I was attempting to keep afloat with classes and therefore had to take a break from popular culture). I sort of knew from the outset that it was going to be disappointing. She whines about why women are awesome and alone. She makes sweeping generalizations about gender. None of this is surprising, given her Times columns. It's sad that a woman who has the potential to be so powerful and influential -- printed alongside other public thinkers each week in the paper of record -- falls short. She sort of comes off as a silly woman.

Granted, she has legitimate grievances. One of the more memorable anecdotes is toward the end is her tale of searching for a job after the New York Star went under. She met with a married magazine editor (presumably at Time) who asked her to stay the night with him at his hotel after making a job offer. Although this is appalling, it's shocking how, er, unshocked I was to read about this. My own experience with middle-aged editors is that they constantly view their female co-workers (or, in this case, potential female co-workers) as, above all, female. The solution to this is complicated. Women are right to be outraged at such behavior, but the one thing Dowd is right about is that simple litigation will not solve the problem. What's more, there are women out there that are willing to take advantage of such sexual encounters. Unless women uniformly reject such advances, this will always be a problem. In the meantime, there are plenty of other work-related issues that can be dealt with on a uniform level: salary equality, parity in management positions, advocating for family flexibility, etc.

What's more, I'm fairly certain that Dowd has the wrong take on Muslim women. The answer is far more complicated than women ripping off their robes and standing up to misogynist Arab men. This is a topic I'd like to do a lot more research on, but any time religion becomes entangled with personal rights, it takes a lot to untangle the two.

I also have beef with the idea that Bush has a "feminist foreign policy." That may be part of the public argument, but if Bush were really concerned with feminist rights, he wouldn't be pouring money into abstinence-only aid in Africa.

I could go on and on with the points with which I disagree, but I fear I've written too much already on a book that largely wasn't worth reading.

I hope in my subsequent pop feminism readings, I'll find something more substantive. Suggestions?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

They'll Spin You Right 'Round

The latest Republican fallacy that's circulating, and amplified by our trusty GOP frontrunner candidate, Rudy Giuliani, is that the mistake Bush was making is that we just didn't send enough troops in the first place. In an interview with Larry King yesterday, he said:
... the United States, which has had 120,000 to 160,000 troops at a time in Iraq, should have gone in with “maybe 100,000 to 130,000 more.”
I'm shocked at how Republicans are pretending this sounds logical. It's as if they are saying to themselves, Well, clearly the American military can never, ever lose at anything, so therefore we must not have blasted them with enough firepower in the first place. Sadly, they seem to forget that the international animosity toward Americans is actually fueled by our troop presence. The fact that we keep slowly filtering in or retaining more troops and it only seems to coincide with bloodier violence should signal that this theory doesn't work.

Furthermore, having 100,000 to 130,000 more troops would have meant a police state for the Iraqis. It seems that we just thought by sending in troops and overthrowing the government, we thought a functioning democracy would magically appear. An important question to ask GOP candidates who claim we came in with too few troops, is what kind of presence they envision for those thousands of troops.

My guess is, an alternative scenario with more troops would look just as ugly.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

V is for Vagina

Happy Contention Over The Vagina Monologues day! My co-worker Ann relates why they're hated on the right and Ashwini at Campus Progress explains why feminists tend to groan about them, too. My experience today, though, is that Valentine's Day is really about too much sugar.

UPDATE: Also, perhaps too much drinking.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Non-Bolton Proliferation

Bolton's at it again. It seems like once diplomacy has actually worked with North Korea, cribbing slightly from the agreement from the Clinton era: We'll give you means of providing alternative energy if you promise to stop nuclear development. But count on the former (terrible) UN ambassador to say:
“It sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world: ‘If we hold out long enough, wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded,’ in this case with massive shipments of heavy fuel oil, for doing only partially what needs to be done.”
Oh, I'm sorry. Did you stop nuclear proliferation in North Korea? No. I didn't think so.

Burden of Proof

It's no surprise that skeptics, both domestic and international, are emerging on the alleged evidence of "illicit weapons" in Iran. Since it's obvious that the administration lied--or at the minimum, sloppily accused--Iraq of harboring WMDs, the burden of proof is going to be much higher this time around. While there are obvious reasons that an administration needs a certain level of secrecy, it seems more likely that the evidence presented to a select group of journalists recently is a distraction for how badly the war is going in Iraq.

What's more, our troops are already badly stretched. If Bush really wanted to send troops to Iran, he'd be in a slightly more than sticky situation.

Monday, February 12, 2007


As Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president this weekend, brilliantly in the footsteps of Lincoln, he seems to be running on momentum. People are excited about Obama. He was anti-war before anti-war was cool in the Senate. He's post-racial (whatever that means). He has a star quality that beats any of the name-recongition on the GOP side.

So why did I feel like the speech was a little ... flat? His speeches play on large themes that resemble color blocks that children play with: church, civil rights, the injustice of the death penalty, and the list goes on. He's the perfect candidate. Thanks, Biden, for pointing out that he's "articlute and bright and clean."

The real question is, what would happen if he had to govern?
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