Now allowing comments!

The most frequent comment we hear about the blog is that we should allow comments. In the interest of making the page more democratic and debate-orientated, we've decided to do just that.

Some guidelines for posting:
-- Please stay on topic. No trolling or spamming.
-- Keep it clean. Refrain from obscenities.
-- Unless there is an issue of sensitivity regarding what you are posting or the opinion you are backing, leave at least your first name. If you're an Emerson student, tell us your class and major too.

Let the discussion begin.

The Onion

The Onion takes aim at Boston-area college students.

Native Bostonians Unable To Defend Land From Invading College Students

"BOSTON—The now monthlong invasion carried out by more 200,000 college students who bombarded this quiet, historic city, has forced native Bostonians to relinquish their rights as citizens and settle into a new life under occupation.

Members of the first wave of intruders, who took control of Government Center earlier this month.

'This was clearly a highly coordinated operation that had been in the planning stages for months, and in some cases, years," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who has urged calm among the city's residents. 'I regret not reading the warning signs when thousands of them showed up last spring, scouting our highest-profile sites. But Bostonians are a resilient bunch, and we will do what we can to carry on with our lives as normal.'"

Lanson on Torture

Emerson's own Jerry Lanson has been writing (and blogging) about the legalization of torture.
Check it out.

He writes:

"There is only one thing worse than a U.S. president who illegally attacks another country, wiretaps his own citizens without court order and tortures prisoners of war. That one thing is a Congress that gives bipartisan support to these activities, legitimizing them in the eyes of the American public."


Feingold on Torture

Sen. Feingold has it right. Democrats should fillibuster the torture bill. It may fail -- but at least we will know where our Senators stand on this.

"Mr. President, I oppose the Military Commissions Act.

Let me be clear: I welcome efforts to bring terrorists to justice. It is about time. This Administration has too long been distracted by the war in Iraq from the fight against al Qaeda. We need a renewed focus on the terrorist networks that present the greatest threat to this country.

But Mr. President, we wouldn't be where we are today, five years after September 11 with not a single Guantanamo Bay detainee having been brought to trial, if the President had come to Congress in the first place, rather than unilaterally creating military commissions that didn't comply with the law. The President wanted to act on his own, and he dared the Supreme Court to stop him. And he lost. The Hamdan decision was an historic rebuke to an Administration that has acted for years as if it were above the law.

Finally, only because he was essentially ordered to do so by the Supreme Court, the President has agreed to consult with Congress. I would have hoped that we would take this opportunity to pass legislation that allows us to proceed in accordance with our laws and our values. That is what separates America from our enemies. These trials, conducted appropriately, have the potential to demonstrate to the world that our democratic, constitutional system of government is our greatest strength in fighting those who attacked us.

And that is why I am saddened that I must oppose this legislation. Because, Mr. President, the trials conducted under this legislation will send a very different signal to the world, one that I fear will put our own troops and personnel in jeopardy both now and in future conflicts. To take just a few examples, this legislation would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and hearsay, would not allow full judicial review of the conviction, and yet would allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death. That is simply unacceptable. We would not stand for another country to try our citizens under those rules, and we should not stand for our own government to do so, either."


Liberals vs. the Left (Part II)

Some of Robert Jensen's piece regarding liberals who attack the left (Emphasis is mine):

"Some of my best friends are liberals. Really. But I have found it is best not to rely on them politically.

Bashing the left to burnish credibility in mainstream circles is a time-honored liberal move, a way of saying 'I’m critical of the excesses of the powerful, but not like those crazy lefties.'

For example, during a discussion of post-9/11 politics, I once heard then-New York University professor (he has since moved to Columbia University) Todd Gitlin position himself between the “hard right” (such as people associated with the Bush administration) and the “hard left” (such as Noam Chomsky and other radical critics), implying an equivalence in the coherence or value of analysis of each side. The only conclusion I could reach was that Gitlin -- who is both a prolific scholar and a former president of Students for a Democratic Society -- either believed such a claim about equivalence or said it for self-interested political purposes. Neither interpretation is terribly flattering for Gitlin."

Rejoinder to Boyle

"And I suspect many leftists would have probably been
happier had Chavez added chapter and verse evidence
for his assertions, though I suspect time limits
precluded that."

I should note, since Pat failed to clarify, that these
words are not mine, but from Michael Albert; I was
not endorsing them per se, but merely illustrating the varying
opinions on this. I should also note that the line
about time not permitting all of the evidence of
Bush’s folly was a joke regarding the excessive quantity of
evidence that would support the notion that Bush has
brought horror to much of this world.

(Such as lying in order to bring a country to war,
manipulating intelligence, paying off journalists in
and the US, wiretapping Americans illegally, and
institutionalizing torture. These links are to
mainstream news outlets. I could go on, if only
time would permit.)

Hatred of Bush is an interesting concept. I do not
know Bush – perhaps he would be amusing to have a beer
with -- but do I hate his policies? The answer is
an unapologetic yes.

So let us debate if Bush's policies are deserving of
scorn, or even of hate. And is Chavez's rhetoric -- as
cartoonish as it may be -- any more extreme than
Bush’s? (Who told Matt Lauer last week that terrorists
want to "kill your family." If one opposes Chavez’s
extreme rhetoric, I can only assume you would then
oppose the attempted coup on him, which US intelligence
officials said was backed by the US. Considering the fact
that Chavez was democratically elected, this action is far
more extreme than words could ever be.

The Devil's Advocate

On the continued Chavez question:

The reaction to Chavez's speech does not illustrate a divide between liberals and the left. It illustrates a divide between those who so fervently hate George Bush that they'll applaud any moron who takes cheap shots and reasonable people who disagree with Bush's policies but aren't willing to get behind a speech that Jerry Falwell wouldn't even deliver if it were about Clinton.

"The devil, the devil himself, is right in this house."

And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself] "And it smells of sulfur still today."

An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: "The Devil's Recipe."

And later...

Chavez said he had to wash his Noam Chomsky book (you can't make this stuff up)
"with holy water because I put it in the same place that the devil put his papers."

Could you imagine if "the devil himself" had given a speech with such references on the floor of the UN?

And, from Mike's post:

"And I suspect many leftists would have probably been happier had Chavez added chapter and verse evidence for his assertions, though I suspect time limits precluded that.”

Yeah. That must have been it.

Liberals vs. the Left.

The reaction to Hugo Chavez’s speech in front of the United Nations illustrates a divide between liberals and the left (see this piece by Robert Jensen for more on this).

Maureen Dowd, who can be fairly labeled a mainstream liberal, called Hugo Chavez a “world class nutbar” in today’s New York Times, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi recently called him a “thug.”

Meanwhile Michael Albert, editor of Z Magazine, gives us one leftist’s take on the speech.

“I suspect many leftists would have been happier had Chavez torn into Bush and U.S. institutions by offering more evidence while employing a less religious spin … Chavez might have given evidence how U.S. elites and key institutions impede living and loving and even survival, from Latin America to Asia and back. He might have said that George W. Bush, as the current master purveyor of the most recent violations by the U.S., is, in effect, doing the work of a devil – because he is the spawn of a devilish system. And I suspect many leftists would have probably been happier had Chavez added chapter and verse evidence for his assertions, though I suspect time limits precluded that.”

I suspect that liberals are inclined to rip into Chavez as to not be victimized by the McCarthyite thugs who will, sans any logic, call anyone who does not show complete and utter hatred to the likes of Chavez (those opposed to US imperialism and globalization) a fringe radical.

But one needn’t be a revolutionary, or a radical to agree with Chavez’s main point: that US foreign policy under Bush is a disgrace and a stain on our national honor.


Southern man, better keep your head

Senator George Allen denies use of "N-word" in college

It just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? Months ago, Sen. Allen was being hailed as the "conservative's conservative," an affable, firmly right-wing Southern Senator with a real chance of winning the Republican primaries in 2008.

Then a few months ago came a cover story by The New Republic, which asked: Does George Allen have a race problem? It was a great expose that uncovered, among other things, Allen's odd obsession with the Confederate flag. However, it mostly focused on his college days, and hey, we all do crazy things in college, right? I never imagined it would emerge as the main theme of the final months of this campaign. A race by the way, which is getting pretty damn close considering it was a gimme seat for the popular incumbent.

Then, as I'm sure most of us are aware, came Macaca-gate. And then the above article. All of a sudden, The New Republic's question doesn't seem like a liberal smear job. Especially since the neoconservative Weekly Standard decided to do a little cover story of their own: George Allen Monkeys Around. Nice.

I'm a big advocate of actually discussing issues during a campaign and I feel that attacks such as this often go over the line. They're usually desperate. This is no such time. George Allen needs to come clean about his past and the views he held, or holds. If he isn't a racist, then he needs to explain how he was stupid enough to get in this much trouble.


Cat Blogging (Part 1)

The Beacon Opinion Blog is still investigating the latest phenomenon of "Cat Blogging" with due dilligence.

This video, obtained by The Opinion Blog, shows a cat that has blogged so much, and with such eloquance, that he is literally falling asleep on the keyboard. This confirms our suspicions that Cat Blogging is a force to be reckoned with.

I also note that this video appears to be shot in France. American journalists must work to make sure that our country does not fall behind in taking advantage of this development.

Ready for some football

Superdome re-opens

For a football fan, this is pretty cool to see. It's amazing to think that it's already been over a year since Hurricane Katrina turned the Superdome into a symbol for a government failing its people. This Monday night, it will re-open and usher in residents of New Orleans and Louisiana, not for shelter but for the most American form of entertainment: football.

I think everyone will be pulling for the Saints to win Monday. As they enter through the tunnel, no doubt with heavy hearts, we'll all be New Orlanders.


Just War?

US military deaths in Iraq have surpassed the amount of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

This does not even factor in the unforgivable amount of Iraqi civilian deaths. Everyone who had a hand in enabling this war-- from the Senate to Pat Boyle--owes it to the families of those who have died, to once again, explain their rationale for supporting this crime against humanity.

Moreover, if the ultimate goal of the War on Terror, and of "just wars" in general, is to minimize death and harm to the people of the world, how can we say that war is useful in accomplishing these ends in light of the evidence to the contrary?

Howard Zinn writes in Z Magazine:

"The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a 'suspected terrorist' is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is 'inevitable.'

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by 'accident.' Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll."

The torture "compromise"

The Wall Street Journal celebrates the "compromise" between McCain and Friends and The White House. (Emphasis is mine)

"The White House went to Congress asking, among other things, for help in clarifying what terms like "humiliating" and "degrading" actually mean. Senator McCain and his allies objected that this would be tantamount to "rewriting" the Geneva Conventions. But their objection wasn't very convincing, since every country in the world already interprets Article 3 and somebody in the U.S. has to do so in real-world situations; legal clarity is better than leaving that job to activist judges and lawyers. In the end, the Senators came most of the way toward the White House position."

I can tell you that I am just about done listening to people tell me how wonderfully independent and fair-minded John McCain is.

The "hunt" finally over?

Osama possibly dead of typhoid fever in Pakistan

It's just speculation at the moment, but there is an uncomfirmed report that the terrorist mastermind may finally be dead. If true, this is obviously great news. I almost hate to lead it into a question of politics, but how will it look for Bush if, five years after September 11, it is a disease that brought him down? Not good, I would think.


It's getting hot in here

Billionare pledges 3 billion to combat global warming

First Warren Buffett says he is donating his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and now this. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are taking matters into their own hands, trying to help solve the world's problems.

They are not politicians and, as far as I can tell, have no aspirations to run for office. They're doing it because they can, it's the right thing to do and our politicians aren't going to.

Take global warming. Our president is unwilling to even sign the Kyoto Treaty, conservative politicians call it a myth, and the loudest voice on the issue is Al Gore, who holds no office. This is a problem that isn't going away. It's getting worse. And we don't have much time.

When all else fails, I'll make it a matter of self respect

Yes, the Pope's comments regarding Islam were not well thought out. But think about the implication of that statement. Basically that means: "Well he should have known Muslims would react with violent anger." Isn't this the sad truth we should be focusing on?

Call us violent and we'll kill you. We saw the reaction with the Danish cartoons and now we're seeing it here. Benedict wasn't wrong to make the speech, he was stupid to make it, but he had every right to do it. Too bad it isn't going to provoke the dialogue between religions he hopes it will.

On Chavez

With all due respect to my friend and co-editor Pat, I take issue with his assesment that Hugo Chavez was insulting the American people, as well as President Bush.

Here is the same link Pat offered us in his post. Chavez makes a clear distinction between the US government and its people.

"If we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, what does this country want? Does it want peace? They'll say yes. But the government doesn't want peace."

Chavez, like most men with such power has many flaws, but I have yet to see evidence that hatred for everyday Americans is one of them.


The smell of sulfur

Democrats condemn Chavez's UN speech

I was glad to see this. I have heard comments made by my peers at Emerson that it was about time somebody called Bush the devil. There is an attitude among some that any criticism of the president, no matter how crazed and fanatical, and no matter who the source is, is welcome.

Kudos to Chuck Rangel and Nancy Pelosi for recognizing that Chavez's hyperventilating speech was an insult to our country, not just the administraton's policies.

Around The Web


*The AP is reporting that The White House and GOP senators have finally reached a compromise on the detainee legislation. It is disturbing to know that the use of systemized torture is something that even warrants negotiations, when torture is so clearly a violation of international law.

It will be especially interesting to see if the legislation will enable detainees to be convicted based on evidence they cannot see.

The specifics of the legislation are still not known; while we wait for more information I cannot help but think of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). Specter, 76, was initially steadfast in his opposition to Bush on the NSA wiretapping program, but ultimately caved and gave the program legitimization that it did not deserve.

Stay tuned for updates.

*David Zirin, a left-wing sports writer (how often do you here of that?) has a fascinating piece for The Nation. (Web only) The New York Knick’s point guard, Stephen Marbury, has introduced a new shoe called the Starbury One.

Zirin explains what makes this shoe—and this athlete—so unique:

"What's ‘revolutionary’ about the new Starbury One--a reference to Marbury's on-court moniker--is that it doesn't cost as much as a plane ticket to Maui. The Starbury Ones are listed at $14.98.That's $14.98. Not $149.80. As William Rhoden recently wrote in the New York Times, ‘This is an industry in which star athletes encourage children to buy shoes for anywhere from $75 to $200.’”

*Deval Patrick’s appeal is not just in Massachusetts; he has gotten attention from national publications and blogs as well. Here, The Nation’s John Nichols has a glowing profile on the former Civil Rights Attorney, and even plays with the idea that Patrick could be the first black President. Patrick has also garnered support from the Netroots, as I noted in a posting for The Boston Globe’s Thinking Politics Blog earlier this week.



The world of online journalism is an ever-changing and constantly evolving phenomenon. Not long ago, the term blog was meaningless and the future of newspapers was hardly an issue for discussion. Today, journalism students cannot be sure what their profession will look like in five years. This is a scary thought to be sure, but one that must be accepted and embraced.

In that spirit, The Berkeley Beacon is proud to announce the arrival of The Berkeley Beacon Opinion Blog.

Managing and contributing to this new experiment will be Beacon opinion section co-editors Michael Corcoran and Patrick Boyle. The purpose of the blog is to provide more immediate commentary on global, national, local and Emerson specific news. Our larger goals are to encourage dialogue on campus, provide interesting and insightful commentary on relevant issues and to take a step forward into a new medium.

As stated earlier, this is an experiment, one that will benefit tremendously from reader feedback about ways to improve the blog and about the content of the posts themselves.

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy.


Opinion Journal Overview

"Don't be afraid to form your own opinions. Sharing your opinions, not to mention analyses and interpretations, is a way of testing your expertise, putting it to work on behalf of the public interest. "
Victor Navasky May 30, 2006.

In the spirit of our new blog dedicated to opinion journalism, we offer an overview of some of our nation's more relevant journals of ideas. This list excludes popular news magazines, such as Time and Newsweek and instead looks at publications, which are rooted in a specific ideology.

The American Conservative

Arlington, Virginia.

Founded in 2002, The American Conservative is a biweekly, paleoconservative magazine that was founded by Scott McConnell, Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos to counter what they considered to be a neoconservative media establishment. The magazine is radically opposed to many staples of modern conservatism, and advocates an isolationist, anti-war foreign policy. From their Web site: “Not all conservatives do agree that the United States should engage—for reasons that hardly touch America’s own vital interests —in an open-ended war against much of the Arab and Muslim world.” They are also deeply opposed to immigration, global free trade and are very critical of modern-day Republicans, including President Bush.

Notable Contributors: Pat Buchanan, Anders Strindberg

Blogs: None

Recommended Article: Whose War?

The American Prospect

Washington D.C.

This is a monthly liberal magazine that was formed in 1990 as a reaction to the rise of conservatism in the 1980s. They tend to tout progressive Democrats, such as Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, but is to the right of periodicals such as The Nation and In These Times. The Magazine is co-edited by Paul Starr, Michael Tomasky and Robert Kuttner, who also writes a weekly column for The Boston Globe. While the magazine usually supports Democrats, they tend to criticize those who are pushing the party away from its populist roots.

Notable Contributors: Robert Kuttner, Charlie Pierce, Ezra Klein, Michael Tomasky.

Blogs: Tapped, Beat the Press, The Horse’s Mouth, and Midterm Madness.

Recommended Article: How the DLC Does it?

The Weekly Standard

Owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, The Weekly Standard is the most influential neoconservative publication in the country. It advocates a robust military and an interventionist foreign policy. Editor William Kristol is also founder of the Project for a New American Century, famous for its letters to President Clinton in 1998, advocating him to use military force in Iraq, which was signed by several people who would eventually end up with senior positions in the Bush Administration including: Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and John Bolton. The publication is very popular amongst the White House. Vanity Fair reported in 2003 that Cheney’s office received 30 advanced copies in a special delivery. The journal is willing to take stands against other conservatives; they were sharply opposed to President Bush’s Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court, and differ dramatically with House Republicans on immigration arguing that “turning the GOP into an anti-immigration party could dash Republican hopes of becoming a long-term governing party.

Notable Contributors: William Kristol, Fred Barnes, P.J. O’Rourke

Blogs: The Worldwide Standard (A foreign policy blog)

Recommended Articles: Disappointed, Depressed and Demoralized.

The National Review

New York City

William F. Buckley Jr., who is often labeled the "father of modern conservativism," founded The National Review in 1955. Much like Karl Rove years after, Buckley is partially credited with unifying different types of conservatives and attempting to give them a consistant voice. Today, The National Review remains one of the most widely read and respected conservative journals. The magazine and its editors (led today by Rich Lowry) are much less likely than The Weekly Standard or The American Conservative to be harshly critical of the Bush administration and remain one of their biggest supporters.

Notable contributors: Rich Lowry, John Podhoretz

Blog: One of twelve NR blogs available

Recommended article: Hatin' that score

The New Republic

Washington D.C.

Although experiencing a number of changes since its 1917 debut, The New Republic has maintained a unique political philosophy. The long-running and incredibly influential magazine promotes a specific kind of liberalism--free trade, foreign interventionism, triangulation, and recently, opposition to the far-left. Owned by Martin Peretz since 1975, TNR is also extremely pro-Israel. The magazine has gone through a series of scandals that have threatened its credibility. The most well-known of these was the Stephen Glass affair, detailed in the film Shattered Glass. Glass was a staff writer for the magazine until it was discovered that he fabricated, in whole or in part, 27 stories. In 2006, it was discovered that contributor Lee Seigel was posting comments on his own blog under false names, praising himself. How badly these incidents harm the standing of TNR depend on who you ask, but the magazine remains a leading voice in Washington politics.

Notable contributors: Peter Beinart, Matt Groening, Franklin Foer

Blog: The Plank

Recommended article: Irresolution (subscription necessary)

The Nation

The Nation is the longest running weekly publication in the history of the country. It is liberal magazine and, unlike The New Republic, it has a solid antiwar history. It is skeptical of power and will be as harsh towards Democrats as it is towards conservative Republicans. It is proudly anti-imperialist and an advocate for activist change. It has been openly critical of the Bush administration's Iraq and War on Terror policies since the beginning. This stance prompted longtime columnist Christopher Hitchens, a military interventionist and strong supporter of the war on Islamic fundamentalism, to resign from the paper. This move led to an epic back-and-forth between Hitchens and linguist Noam Chomsky.

Notable contributors: Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Eric Alterman.

Blog: Several. Here's one.

Recommended article: Chomsky's reply to Hitchens.