With millions of votes from the ham-handed rigging of an election Hamid Karzai would have likely won being tossed out, a runoff in Afghanistan appears increasingly likely. After displaying some intransigence pressure from the Obama administration appears to have forced Mr. Karzai to back down, for now. See this link for a great article by Renard Sexton on the recount and its implications on a fair election, if one were possible. The rigging in the Afghan election has made the logistics of a runoff harder and a Zimbabwe of Kenya style compromise may be needed (though those have not worked well).

Regardless of the next step, its time to have a heart to heart with Mr. Karzai. Even with his incompetence and corruption, the Afghan people do not appear to want the Taliban back, for now. But a failure to provide security could cause the Pashtun majority to remember the relative peace in the brutal Taliban regime with nostalgia. If America is supposed to keep fighting in what is now an Afghan civil war, it needs a partner on the ground whose administration put added obstacles in its way. Just as Pakistan is not getting a free ride, neither can the corrupt Karzai government. With the patience of American public opinion running out, America may be better off cutting bait. If Hamid Karzai and his backers do not want this to happen, they need to shape up. Even if some of the problems are caused by Hamid Karzai’s weaknesses, he cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption in his inner circle and family any more. The fate of Moussa Arafat should warn them of the fate of corrupt, nepotistic cronies when their protector moves on.

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Posted on 19-10-2009
Filed Under (History, Religion) by Rashtrakut

Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for managing to make an off the cuff reference to Girolamo Savonarola in a random blog.  Never thought I would run into a reference to the 15th century fanatical homophobic Florentine priest who ended up burned at the stake for his opposition to the notorious Alexander VI in a reference to a conservative flack.  Savonarola’s most famous contribution to pop culture is the phrase Bonfire of the Vanities.  I wonder how many people caught the reference.  In a country where a period drama set in Italy a 100 years later has its title changed from “Courtesan” to “Dangerous Beauty” because 95% of the country did not know what courtesan meant, the number cannot be high.

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The “Main Stream Media” has disapprovingly noted the Obama administration calling out Fox News as the media arm of the Republican party.  See here, here, here, here and here.  Not unexpectedly Fox News howled in outrage and liberal blogs cheerfully detailed the hypocrisy of Fox’s complaints when it cheered on the Bush administration calling out NBC News and MSNBC.  Very few media members noted that the underlying charge that Fox News is “opinion journalism masquerading as news” is essentially true.

A couple of good reads from the Economist’s Democracy in America blog today comparing Fox News to what is happening in Russia, Italy and Thailand, and Slate’s Jonathan Weisberg noting that the Fox response to the administration shows the inherent bias in its coverage.

I agree with the final point in both articles.  Cable “news” is now unwatchable.  Opinion shows dominate the peak hours and off-peak hours are filled with a bunch of documentary shows.  Even CNN Headline News which a decade ago provided 24 News coverage is now filled with shows that masquerade as news.  The Internet would be a refuge for finding news, but alas even the AP has decided to muddy its role as a wire service by falling for the opinion journalism lure.

More than ever, developing a filter to separate the wheat of news from the chaff of opinion is essential.  Paraphrasing the legal principle of caveat emptor, let the  unwary news reader beware.

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I will let these two articles speak for themselves.  First is the column by two Republican Party county chairmen in South Carolina.  Next is an editorial by the Palmetto scoop.  One would think that after a year of racial gaffes by Southern Republicans a memo about using ethnic stereotypes would have been circulated by now.  Evidently not.  One hopes that the inevitable apology will be a genuine one, instead of the meaningless “If I offended someone, I am sorry” that public figures seem to think constitutes an apology.

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