Friday, May 25, 2007

Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

Watchers Council winners have been posted for the week of May 25.

First place in the council went to Israel Faces Its Choices In Gaza by Joshuapundit. I have to admit, when I consider the problems and dilemmas America bickers about now -- immigration, Iraq, freedom vs. security -- they're pale and easy compared to what goes on in and around Israel every day. The most liberal alternatives seem certain to lead to carnage, and the harshest options are ... well, here's Joshuapundit:

[T]he Israelis have to realize the essential mistake they made at Oslo, understand that having a terrorist enclave on their borders is simply unacceptable, and that a second Arab Palestinian state is a recipe for continued war and turmoil in the region.

Either Israel would end up with an actual government that had shown its commitment to living next to Israel in peace, or they would have ended the threat to Israel once and for all, and simply dismantled the Palestinian Authority. At that point, real talks on where to resettle these people and where to draw final borders could be made with Egypt and Jordan.

Votes also went to Musings on a Late Spring Afternoon by Right Wing Nut House.

His musings are on the upcoming shift in power in Washington, D.C., and they're excellent. I'll breathe a sigh of relief when Bush leaves office -- as I did when Clinton did -- just because it will force everyone to start over in framing their arguments, which have run on ad hominem for years now. And it will force the party of opposition to grow into the party of leadership. Hopefully. Rick, however, reminds us that the world continues to spin and essential parts of it don't give a damn about any of that:

It would be comforting to think that a change in parties controlling Washington will have much of an effect on what is occurring on this planet. It won’t. It can’t. The liberal Democrats are as bereft of ideas on how to confront most of these problems as the clueless policy makers and stubborn, turf conscious bureaucrats who currently run things. It’s hard for us Americans to admit it but some problems are just not solvable. Change comes whether we like it or not. Sometimes that change is accompanied by rivers of blood. Sometimes not. Our ability to determine one outcome or the other is extremely limited. Military power, “soft power,” economic power, cultural dominance – all pale in comparison to the tidal forces that are moving various peoples toward a far distant and unknowing shore.

It reminds me of a reader comment that Andrew Sullivan saw fit to publish recently:

In old fashioned one-on-one confrontations with nation states (or schoolyard bullies) muscle power can be a leading asset, but when confronting a new era of wide-spread technological empowerment of disparate populations, unrestrained muscle power becomes self-defeating clumsiness. The musclehead approach of this administration and most of the Republican candidates will for now and for the future lead to Gulliver-esque results for this nation and those who align themselves with it. What's happening in Iraq is the future; they're learning from it, but we certainly don't seem to be doing the same.

All of which is likely true, but what's missing is the part that begins, "And the Democrats ...." Our only alternative, alas, is the party of John Edwards.

Votes also went to Why Are Liberals So Afraid of Their Own Ideas? by The Colossus of Rhodey, about the "Fairness Doctrine;" The Silent Iconoclasm by Soccer Dad, about Rachel Carson; Pressure Mounts for Clinton, Obama, Feingold, Biden, Reid to Resign From Senate by Big Lizards; and Stuck in Westphalia by Done With Mirrors.

Outside the council the winner was On Dehumanizing the Enemy In War and the Nature of Victory by TigerHawk, which, I'm pleased to say, was my nomination. My reaction to it is here.

Votes also went to The Inbetween War by Seraphic Secret, again about Israel's unpleasant dilemma; and In the Shadow of the Wolfowitz Wars -- the Melkert & Malloch Brown Dollars-for-Despots Program by The Rosett Report.

An interesting post that got votes was Poll: 26% of Young *American* Muslim Men Find Terrorism Sometimes Justified; 48% of All American Muslims Oppose War Against *Taliban* by Ace of Spades HQ.

Is there any way we can maybe induce more illegal Muslim immigrants and then put them on a pathway to citizenship?

They're definitely willing to do the jobs Americans won't do -- like blowing up innocent civilians in the name of Allah.

Um, seriously? Can we have a moritorium [sic] on immigration until it's clear the plusess [sic] of immigration outweight [sic] the rather-substantial minuses?

Not my style of post, frankly. Alternately bombastic and snarky. It was inspired, of course, by that recently released polling data which launched a thousand snarky posts on both sides of the political blogosphere. And really I think what set it all off was not so much the poll itself, but the way it was framed in the initial media coverage. I saw a lot of that from my seat at the wire desk.

In a poll like this, you know it's going to be read with different emphasis in different quarters. Some will say, "see, the majority are likely not a threat." Others will say "a significant minority could be a threat." [And some, like me, will say polls like this are not useful as a basis of policy-making.]

But the news organizations definitely tried to steer it in one direction, with an emphasis on the "moderate" angle in their prose and especially in their headlines.

In a case like this, you want to be as bland and down-the-middle as possible, and let people draw their own conclusions from the numbers. Because they're going to anyhow, and if they see you trying to lead them by the nose to one place or another, they're going to resent it. Write "Survey reveals attitudes of American Muslims" or something like that.