All About Josh

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

FIRST THE JEWISH VOTE, NOW THE BLACK VOTE? The Washington Times reports today that Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile is genuinely concerned that a significant portion of the African-American vote -- particularly younger blacks -- may be trending Republican.

If this is the case, the Democratic party truly has a crisis on its hands. More importantly, I hope her comments send the message that Democratic racial pandering, as in instinctively supporting race-based affirmative action, is not a viable long-term strategy for keeping most of the black vote. Seeing black racists like Al Sharpton running (or scandal-plagued figures like Carol Mosely, instead of more mainstream/moderate black leaders, such as Harold Ford or John Lewis, is also a bad sign for the party. Hopefully, people like Denise Majette, Artur Davis, and the young, pro-growth, anti-corruption Democratic candidate for mayor of Newark last year (whose name I forget) will be the new faces of the Democratic party, instead of left-wingers like Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee.

ANDREW SULLIVAN'S been blogging endlessly about the pro-Baghdad stance of the BBC. I've been in London for over a month now, and I beg to differ. Surely the BBC leans left, but I don't think any moreso than NPR or PBS back in the States. Anyways, here's a copy of the letter I wrote to him:


I've been in London for the past month (and staying until May for a semester abroad), and I honestly don't see how the BBC is as *extremely* slanted to the left as you claim it to be. You refer to it as "NPR on steroids," I see it more as an NPR clone.

The interviewers here, I've noticed, are much more aggressive and harsher than even your most vitriolic US interviewer -- say, Chris Matthews -- and give no deference to any politician, whether it was the French member of parlement, Iain Duncan Smith or Blair himself. Paxman was grilling the same French MP as mercilessly as he ridiculed Blair. I don't personally like this style of journalism -- it's more representative of an immature debating society than serious journalism. However, I don't think it's necessarily representative of a hard BBC bias against the war.

Second, I've watched some serious programs and segments that have been objectively pro-war. Newsnight last night aired about a 15-minute segment about how all the Kurds supported a Us-led attack, and gave a laundry list of Saddam's atrocities towards them. A Panorama special, where the Iraqi "Dr. Germ" scientist was interviewed, was very harsh on the Iraqi regime and showed how inspections weren't working. (This piece was highlighted by the Telegraph magazine, no liberal bastion.) A debate special on Iraq featured the fervent anti-war loonies (Tariq Ali, Biana Jagger), but also had on Richard Perle and a very articulate historian named Andrew Roberts. The panel was split virtually 50-50, though the audience leaned against the war.

Third, I've seen the same ridiculous anti-American bias from the other news networks -- ITV and Channel 4. A recent ITV piece interviewed Americans, all of whom were against the war. I've seen similar pieces on BBC, but I don't think this is a BBC problem -- its representative of the elitist media culture in Britain.

Sure, I've seen my share of poor journalistic pieces, sympathetic coverage of the Palestinian cause and a series called "Inside the Axis of Evil" that basically served to humanize the awful regimes of Syria, Iraq and North Korea. (Interestingly on this show, the presenter, Ben Anderson, was most against Iran because the immigration officials there pushed him around. When he went to North Korea, he actually had kind things to say about his stay there -- all monitored by government "tour guides".) But this is little different from National Public Radio, which is also subsidized by our government. They have their share of well-done pieces, but it's marred by a leftist, anti-American, anti-Israel sentiment among many of its reporters.

BBC surely is biased, but it hardly merits the title "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation." After watching their newscasts fairly regularly, it's not as fervently anti-war as you might think.

Monday, February 17, 2003

THE FACES OF THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT, at least in San Francisco, can be seen here. Please make sure to check out the picture of the mustached man towards the bottom. It sums up the state of the movement perfectly.

HERE ARE SOME PICTURESQUE SNOW PICTURES from American University. A good 20 inches or so fell at American University and around the DC metropolitan area, and I'm a little disappointed that I wasn't there to experience the snow mayhem.

Otherwise, things are great in London. :)

Sunday, February 16, 2003

TONY BLAIR gave a magnificent speech to the Labor party conference in Glasgow about the moral case for war in Iraq yesterday and, despite the near-million protesters here in London, I'm proud to be in country with such a principled prime minister. Here's a poignant excerpt (which I got off Andrew Sullivan's site):

Yes, there are consequences of war. If we remove Saddam by force, people will die and some will be innocent. And we must live with the consequences of our actions, even the unintended ones.

But there are also consequences of "stop the war".

If I took that advice, and did not insist on disarmament, yes, there would be no war. But there would still be Saddam. Many of the people marching will say they hate Saddam. But the consequences of taking their advice is that he stays in charge of Iraq, ruling the Iraqi people. A country that in 1978, the year before he seized power, was richer than Malaysia or Portugal. A country where today, 135 out of every 1000 Iraqi children die before the age of five - 70% of these deaths are from diarrhoea and respiratory infections that are easily preventable. Where almost a third of children born in the centre and south of Iraq have chronic malnutrition.

Where 60% of the people depend on Food Aid.

Where half the population of rural areas have no safe water.

Where every year and now, as we speak, tens of thousands of political prisoners languish in appalling conditions in Saddam's jails and are routinely executed.

Where in the past 15 years over 150,000 Shia Moslems in Southern Iraq and Moslem Kurds in Northern Iraq have been butchered; with up to four million Iraqis in exile round the world, including 350,000 now in Britain.

This isn't a regime with Weapons of Mass Destruction that is otherwise benign. This is a regime that contravenes every single principle or value anyone of our politics believes in.

There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand this.

I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this:

If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for.

If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started.

Lots of ambivalent students from AU became somewhat pro-war after seeing some of the disgusting and empty slogans tossed about by the anti-war protestors here (ones comparing Bush to Hitler, End Illegal Israeli occupation, etc..). Blair's speech continues to expose the moral hypocrisy the protestors continue to illustrate.