Friday, October 26, 2007

Council Winners

Council winners for the week of Oct. 26 have been posted.

First place in the council went to The MSM's Rush Limbaugh Horror Story by Bookworm Room, which looks at the final chapter (as of this writing) in the contretemps over Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark. She rightly scolds the New York Times for printing without qualification the version of what Limbaugh said and meant that was spun by the anti-Limbaugh faction.

The Times even ran a correction of some minor details in that story a couple of days later, but did not correct the big mistake at the core of the story.

On the other hand, I was impressed with the Associated Press coverage of the same story, the same day, which was attentive to the different versions of the story and the fact that the person who said something might know what he meant when he said it:

A letter from Democratic senators blasting conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh for using the phrase "phony soldiers" on his program was sold Friday on eBay for a record $2.1 million.

A private foundation made the winning bid, which eBay spokeswoman Catherine England said set a record for the most expensive item sold for charity by the online auctioneer.

Limbaugh's comment during his radio show last month drew broad criticism from Democrats, who said he was smearing soldiers opposed to the Iraq war. Limbaugh and other conservatives responded with outrage of their own, saying Democrats were mischaracterizing comments aimed at one particular former soldier who lied about his service.

Also getting votes were An Inconvenient Demographic Truth by Big Lizards and Walking Back the Cat x 2 by Soccer Dad.

Outside the council, the winner was Michael Yon's latest, Resistance Is Futile. He makes some important points in it, but it's not his typical work and not his strongest. He's out of the combat situations, trying to write about the disconnect between the realities of the war and the perceptions of it everywhere but at the front. That's not unique. But this war offers the reverse of the usual case, in that, in the past, people at home held a positive and sanitized view of the fighting while the men who were in it knew otherwise.

Votes also went to The Massacre at Karsaz Bridge: Analysis of the Bhutto Blast (Part 2) at The Pakistan Policy Blog, which did an excellent job of keeping pace with the horror-bombing as it broke, and to Thompson Gets Immigration Right at Jay

In addition, votes went to a post whose title I hesitate to print, but I will because customarily I list every post in the category into which this one falls: The Niggers of Palestine by Daled Amos. It's not a word I would censor. But it's a word I consider it worthwhile to cross the street to avoid meeting in print, on my own turf.

The topic is the treatment of Jews who lived in Palestine before there was an Israel. The peg is recent commentary on Condoleezza Rice and whether she sees the situation of the Palestinians as on some level comparable to that of blacks in the pre-Civil Rights South of the U.S.

Very well, legitimate topic, but the use of the offensive word seemed gratuitous in the title. It is only mentioned once in the text, in a quote from someone who obviously doesn't know a whole lot of U.S. history (and is talking about actual slaves, not disenfranchised blacks in America). His author is sufficiently aware of this to caveat her statement with a "perhaps."

The whole analogy in the post is fraught with difficulties, which the author seems not to realize as he wades into it. If Rice erred in going there, the same risk stands for everyone else who follows for the sake of upbraiding her.

Extensive statistical comparisons are made, for instance, between the lives of Palestinians in Israel and those outside it. Not surprisingly, those in Israel live better materially. But since the slavery image already hangs over the piece, the reader then remembers that black slaves in the American South lived materially better lives, not only than black Africans of the same era but of free blacks in the North of the U.S. Which doesn't advance the argument being attempted. Better to have left the N-word out of it.