Comments Posted By John Burke
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With respect to Naiman, Onama is no Bishop TuTu. Tutu's prize did give him the kind of world recognition and acclaim that helped give him leverage against the Nationalist government on apartheid. Without it, average folks and even pols in Europe, America and elsewhere may never had heard of Tutu. Before the prize, the anti-apartheid movement simply had no well-known face, no spokesperson who could travel the world speaking against his government.

Obama's situation is totally differemt. The committee's motive may be similar but Obama hardly needs help becoming known or gaining important speaking platforms.

On balance, the prize will be an albatross for Obama -- one that unleashes mockery of him, spurs envy among other statesmen (think Sarkozy, Putin), and even among Obama fans, raises impossible expectations.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 9.10.2009 @ 13:34


A movie that depicted a left-wing takeover of a government?

Sure, that's easy: Warren Beatty's magnum opus, "Reds," which tracked the October 1917 Bolshevik coup from the vantage point of American radical, John Reed. Of course, "Reds," was sympathetic to

Comment Posted By John Burke On 30.09.2009 @ 18:04


Rick -- I was with you 100 percent up to the point where you attributed rightie fears to Obama's race, adding words to the effect that Obama and today's Dems are pushing pretty much the same agenda as their counterparts have for decades.

But this is manifestly not a fact -- and it is Obama's (and the House Democrats) pushing the envelope with their radicalism that has aroused the far right and not incidentally disturbed people like me in the center.

For much of our recent history, leading Democrats such as FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ and Hubert Humphrey were proud American nationalists and determined anti-communists. More recently, Bill Clinton, for all his foibles, was a centrist. Whether out of conviction or opportunism, Clinton would not have been caught dead associating closely with the likes of Bill Ayers or Rev. Wright.

Of course, Clinton was elected by a sub-majority plurality and his party's control of Congress was less decisive. So he may have been more cautious for purely political reasons. But I think Clinton's commitment to, among other things, free markets and free trade was both genuine and expansive.

Clinton took a shot at healhcare but there the similarity rests. Obama's domestic agenda is far more aggressive -- and his large Hill majorities make enacting it likely, if not assured. In foreign affairs, there is simply no comparison. Obama seems intent on forging a "post-American" internationalism.

That's more than enough to trigger paranoia and random kookiness on the right. Obama's race is irrelevant.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 29.09.2009 @ 15:35


The objections in some comments may be overblown, but Rick's main point seems to stand up: why is the POTUS personally pleading for Chicago if not for some political -- or sentimentally personal -- reason, hardly an important matter of state.

Sure, Brazil wants it badly, but there has never been an Olympics in Brazil. Indeed, the modern Olympics has been held only once in all of Latin America -- in Mexico in 1968.

Somewhat along the same lines, the next Winter Games will be only the second Olympics in Russia -- and the first in 1980 was a half-run thing.

But Olympic Games have been held in the US four times in the past 30 years. We can hardly claim neglect or demand recognition as a nation or a region. We can only clamor for the business the games will bring to one of our cities -- with our President, formerly thought of as the leader of the Western world, playing the role of chief lobbyist.

I think it demeans his office, and frankly makes us look piggish. Why should we not feel good about the Games in South America for the first time -- except for the loss to Richie Daley?

As for all those who belittle qualms about the President appearing to spend time very publicly on a matter that isn't nearly as important as some others, the issue isn't whethet he has enough time or bandwidth (although one shouldn't shrug off that concern). The issue is whether a leader conveys priorities, as they should be.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 28.09.2009 @ 16:52


I have to state a disclaimer: I'm neither a conservative nor a Republican (a centrist Democrat), so I apologize for barging into this intramural quarrel. But as something of an outside observer, I think much of Rick's and others' distaste for Beck is overdone.

Beck is something of a flake, a loose cannon who has no stake in the institution of the GOP or its institutional interests. So it's not surprising that support or opposition to the guy breaks along this line -- with the knock against McCain making matters worse (Limbaugh never much cared for Mac and Hannity often criticized him, but those guys would never say Mac would have been worse.

Beck is also something of a "populist," which should not be seen as a compliment. You can shoehorn most any resentment together with any other and claim to be "on the people's side," which surely seems to be the direction Beck is headed.

On the other hand, in addition to giving wide circulation and real force to some attacks on the administration that are fair, if not earth-shattering, Beck keeps up a steady taunting of everything about or related to Obama and the Democrats which strikes me as very much like the relentless Bush-bashing of eight years past. Not only was (is) there "truther" conspiracy-mongering, there was the shameful, constant effort to associate Bush and company with the Saudis with the evil implication of blood for oil. Which was in turn connected to the endless battering of Bush and Cheney for supposed nefarious ties to Halliburton, Big Oil and others. And of course, Bush was constantly under attack for attempting a different sort of "radical transformation" of America -- namely shredding the Constitution, improperly centralizing federal power I the President's hands, etc., all of which threatened our freedoms and put us on the path to fascism.

It was not a few nutty bloggers who churned out this stuff daily for years, but MSNBC hosts, national columnists, and even some leading Dem politicians.

Along the same lines, beck (and others) are drawing a picture of Obama at the center of a vast left-wing conspiracy (why is that familiar?), featuring George Soros, MoveOn, Apollo, ACORN, Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, the Daley machine and others.

Beck's picture is exaggerated, and inaccurate. But it's a polemic, not a detached analysis, just as the attacks on Bush were polemical.

The problem for the right is not whether Beck "goes too far" or paints a false picture. It's whether he can be trusted as a polemicist with a prominent platform and a big audience to be partisn -- to help Republicans, even when he might consider them inadequate, too liberal or whatever. Rudy Guiliani might be able to win in New York, but only be running as a practical moderate (which is what he is). Ditto Simmons V. Dodd in Connecticut. And Kirk in Illinois -- among others. Will Beck have the discipline to keep his populism' or Perotism, or libertarianism or whatever it is in check?

I doubt it. Beck is more likely to do whatever will boost his audience -- and that's not likely to be simply helping the GOP to win

Comment Posted By John Burke On 23.09.2009 @ 00:37


Rick is right. It's historic. It's plainly the first time -- certainly in modern American history -- that conservatives, however defined, have mounted "direct action" protests on a large scale (some anti-abortion demos over 25 years have been fair-sized and newsworthy but never on this scale).

B ut I think he's off base to try to decoupke the protest from talk radio, Fox News, etc. I think it improbable that any of this would happen without them -- and without the now-highly-influential blogosphere.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 13.09.2009 @ 11:53


Whatever. Pictures do speak louder than words, so what counts most in media reports of the demo are the images of a huge crowd. Whether it's 200,000 or 1.2 million is sort of insider quibbling.

The historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew from 200,000 (police estimate) to 300,000 (organizers' claim). Thatg crowd fillied the space between the Lincoln and Washington Memorials and dribbled out onto the surrounding streets. See a photo here:

Comment Posted By John Burke On 13.09.2009 @ 12:01


Rick is right that there are always a few kooks who land in government under every administration -- but Van Jones is NOT a kook.

What we have found out about him in the past few days or so -- and I'm sure this is only a small sampling from the guy's activities and words over the past 20 years -- is that he's a man of thr far Left, not a crazy conspiracist. The "truther" petition was only a logical part of a radical world view where the US is the imperialist power which is, by definition, always to be opposed by "progressives" (as Marxist-Leninists) have used that term over the past 60 years. Similarly, while the corpses were still burning in the wreckage of the WTC, the Oakland demo in which Jones played a major role was devoted to denouncing "US violence" against Palestinians and people of color everywhere.

These views are commonplace among the assortment of self-styled radical groups on the American Left -- communists of several flavors, Trotskyites, anarchists, etc -- and a boiled down version of the same are fashionable among left-leaning students and professors.

What cannot be understood easily is how a man wedded to this world view got a policy-making job at the White House.

As a Democrat, that's very unnerving. My party is NOT a party of radicalism and detestation of America. Even on the upper West Side of Manhattan, you'd have a hard time finding many people who'd agree with the "progressives" at that Oakland demo. It's important not to let this slide just because Jones quit. The person or people responsible for letting this guy get close to power should be found out and at least chided by the Pre§ident.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 6.09.2009 @ 18:12


So why exactly are there no options for the U.S. except what Obama has done to date and war with Iran (which those calling for a tougher line are presumed to favor ASAP)? Did I miss some connection in the argument?

Obama (and Hillary) said in the campaign that he favored "tough diplomacy" over war. So do I. He's on record favoring "soft power" and "smart power." I favor them too.

So why are we now deploying "soft or smart power" options? A good start would be to put the case to the Security Council -- can't get much softer power than that -- but what's the use of the UN if you don't go there when a theocratic fascist regime is murdering its own people in the streets?

Then, there is trade -- not so much with the US, which has little, but with Europe and Asia, which have a lot. And Iran needs foreign investment, membership in the WTO, help from the IMF, etc.

The Russians just declared for Ahmadi. Did we do anything to persuade them not to do so? Do we have no leverage with the Russians? Aren't there linkages to be found? The same for China and the Arab states.

Does Tehran only fear the US because we might bomb its nukes some day down the road or does it not have to worry at least a little that the US can find a dozen ways to keep the anti-regime pot boiling -- if we really put our minds and some resources to the task?

Then, still well short of US attack or war, there is the possibility that the US could turn a blind eye to Israel taking action.

It's simply preposterous to suggest that the US has no options except low-key mumbling or war.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 25.06.2009 @ 00:12


From Manning:

"When you ARE a publisher, even of a blog that has a tiny audience, I do think you have an obligation to put your name to it."

An obligation to whom? Since when does the general public or any blogger’s feelings take precedence over protection of family?
Using a pseudonym is perfectly proper and fair.

Good question. The answer is an obligation to the audience -- those who appreciate what you've written, those who don't and those whom you've criticized.

Of course, no one can or ahould force a blogger to identify himself or herself, but all obligations don't arise from compulsion.

Don't people generally agree that publishing political attacks on this or that party or candidate in the form of anonymous leaflets is not "proper and fair?" I think so; that's why there actually are laws against unsourced campaign literature.

What about anonymous robo-calls? Ditto.

And how about radio and TV ads that criticize without identifying the source? Ditto. Indeed, not only are such ads in campaigns illegal but broadcasters would refuse to air anonymously sourced ads on any subject at any time?

What about an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times excoriating Obama -- or Bush?
The Times wouldn't print one, but if it did, most people would think it neither proper nor fair.

Does the MEDIUM of communication change the strong sense we have that anonymous critiques are improper and unfair, if not worse? I see no reason why that should be. The Internet does empower many more people by giving them easy tools to publish and reach a wide audience, so that the traditional media now have a powerful competitor. That's a huge step forward and needs to be further encouraged. In the process, why should we expect less of the new media than of the old?

Perhaps it doesn't matter that an obscure blogger like me remains anonymous, but what about when I acquire an audience the size of Glenn Reynolds' or Matt Drudge's? Would it still be proper and fair for me to be hurling barbs at folks for an audience of millions, shaping daily news agendas in the process? Where is the line to be drawn between the small casual blogger and the big influential one? That's why I recapped how it was that Glenn Reynolds came to be InstaPundit. And that's why I do not blog anonymously.

Comment Posted By John Burke On 10.06.2009 @ 16:10

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