Today's Blogs

The New Iraqi Diaspora

Bloggers respond to a report that a large-scale migration within the Middle East has been spurred on by the Iraq war. They also express disappointment over the ad firms Sen. John McCain has hired for his presidential campaign, and critique all those unfunny ads during the Super Bowl.

The new Iraqi diaspora: The Washington Post reports that the Iraq war has spawned  the worst refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948’s Palestinian exodus. Most of the refugees seek shelter in Jordan, Syria, or Lebanon, though “Jordan’s tolerance has waned” since three hotels there were bombed by a group of Iraqis in 2005.

On the left, Edward Copeland charts the migration at the Copeland Institute for Lower Learning: “At first, it was just the rich professionals who fled Iraq after we destroyed it, but now poor Iraqis are flooding into neighboring countries, creating sectarian tensions in their new homes. … I guess Dubya has been right: Iraqis do want to live in peace, unfortunately they have to leave their homeland to do it.”

Helmut, a public policy professor in Washington, D.C., writing at phronesisaical, considers the consequences of the Iraqi diaspora: “That illusion [of reconstruction] is difficult to sustain when the educated middle class has vanished. … [T]his leaves a yawning space for a radical transformation of the country in the opposite direction from what the US supposedly desires. … [D]isplacement is the counterweight of permanence and stability”

Furthermore, Stormwarning at Stormwarning’s Counterterrorism sees the strain the refugees will cause elsewhere: “[T]his flow of Iraqis to other neighboring countries is also creating tensions, as Iraqis are being blamed for driving up prices and for taking away jobs. … Alternatively, some people seem to be seeing an internal disaspora of sorts in which people are flocking to centers of what they see as sectarian safety — Sunnis moving to Sunni areas and Shi’a moving to Shi’a areas.”

But the retired Army man at This Ain’t Hell isn’t buying it: “The whole piece comes off like somehow the United States is responsible for this exodus of refugees from Iraq because we unseated Hussein - instead of the real culprit. Islamsofacism. … How about the millions who fled Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War? Or the millions who fled Iraq after Hussein’s bloody purges  to maintain his hold on power? … So it really isn’t the war that’s ‘propelling’ them out of Iraq, it’s their own people and their own petty biases.”

Read more about Iraqi refugees.

Double-talk express: Sen. John McCain is catching flack after the New York Times pointed out that he has hired many of the strategists and advertising firms that he has denounced in the past, including the ad firm that made the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth spots.

HolyCoast’s Rick Moore, an Orange County conservative, dubs McCain’s ethos “selective outrage”: “I’d be more impressed with ‘Mr. Straight Talk’ if he stood by his opposition to the tough campaign tactics he previously voiced and refused to do business with these firms. However, McCain wants to win, not stand on any particular principle.”

Mduncan, a Ph.D. student in composition at Bad Rhetoric, wants to believe that McCain’s strategizing outweighs the ickiness of hiring the Swiftboaters: “I hope McCain is trying a strategy similar to how Lincoln formed his Cabinets - freely appointing to high positions his potential rivals and people who helped him get elected, where 1) he could keep an eye on them 2) limit how they could attack him 3) force them to plot against each other to no great effect, and 4) always know the wrong course of action because they would advise it.”

JimK at RightThoughts calls McCain this election season’s flip-flopper: “McCain in 2000: ‘Your campaign ads are distorting my record!’ McCain in 2004: ‘Your ads are dishonest and dishonerable!’ McCain in 2007: ‘Hey, umm, you guys that screwed me and Kerry to the wall?  Wanna come work for me so we can do it to Giuliani?’ “

Read more about the campaign team McCain is assembling.

Not so Super ads: Despite companies spending $85,000 per second of Super Bowl airtime, bloggers think that Madison Avenue still forgot to bring the funny.

Msvicky1’s reaction at CBS’s Showbuzz was typical: “Superbowl ads have always been the hi-light of the day for me. Unfortunately not only were the ad’s lame and just down-right stupid for the most part; but it was like they spent all that money on annoying everyone.”

Brendan Loy at his Irish Trojan’s Blog handicaps the spots’ appeal to Middle America: “At halftime, I predicted that Budweiser’s dalmatian commercial would win USA Today’s Ad Meter because ‘the people who do the Ad Meter tend to like sappy ads involving animals.’ I wasn’t far off. The dalmatian spot finished second to a fourth-quarter commercial involving crabs worshipping a Budweiser cooler.”

Bloggers also took sides about the meaning of the violence in so many of the ads, and the New York Times article that posed a theory that the slapstick elements were a reflection of our wartime culture. At Betsy’s Page, a Raleigh history teacher is skeptical of the NYT analysis: “I’m not so erudite as this analyst, but it doesn’t seem like brain surgery to note that football appeals to men and boys. And men and boys like it when things go boom even in cartoons so it’s not surprise to see cartoonish violence in Super Bowl ads. Sometimes an ad is just an ad.”

Watch and rank all of the ads.  Read Seth Stevenson’s take in Ad Report Card.  Brain scans show that the ads actually scared viewers. Read more reviews of the ads here.