Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Angels Bombs in America

For a while it seemed like there was no escape from the rave reviews for the HBO adaptation of “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s pretentious drama of the 1980s and the advent of the AIDS plague.

Well, now that it was been broadcast over and over on cable television it seems no one has seen it.

The New York Times and HBO are at pains to explain how “Angels” has been a success worthy of its ostentatious promotion.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to mask the truth that the film bombed. But that hasn’t stopped HBO from trying to revise history by trotting out some obsequious PR guy to wrap this dead fish in the newspaper of record.

A spokesman for HBO, Quentin Shaffer, noted that HBO measured success in three ways, beginning with critical reaction, which in this case was enormously favorable, and then number of viewers. Mr. Shaffer said that HBO would fully assess viewing figures when all the numbers from the second part were accounted for. Over all, he said, they "look really good right now."

The third element comes at award time. There the film should prove to be dominant, Mr. Shaffer said, pointing to last week's Golden Globe nominations. HBO received seven for "Angels," a showing that tied the record set by "ER" for the most received by any television production in a single year.

Of course, success in broadcasting is measured in only one way . . . ratings.

And how long does it take to count all those numbers anyway? I suspect they are pretty much instantaneously available. I also suspect if they were worth bragging about, Quentin Schaffer would be jamming them down the reporter’s throat.

Fortunately, the truth is out there. In fact, it’s right on the facing page.

The Times says that “Angels” was seen by just 3 million people on December 14. On the following page there is a share listing of the top ten cable broadcasts of the week and an explanation that each share point counts for about 1.1 million viewers.

Do a little arithmetic and you’ll learn that Thursday’s episode of SpongeBob Sqaurepants was seen by more people than “Angels in America.”

Granted, SpongeBob is better written and more historically accurate than “Angels”, but it’s also on at 8am rather than primetime.

Kushner certainly deserves an award for “Angels in America.” Allow me to suggest a category: best attempt to force feed American viewers with warmed-over, revisionist, Hollywood-liberal, Reagan hatred while ignoring that fact that tens of thousands of people needlessly contracted a deadly disease because people like the producers insisted on making a political point rather than explain that certain lifestyle behaviors had a direct impact on ones’ likelihood to contract HIV..

A bit of a mouthful . . . to use an oddly appropriate expression.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Sharia in Canada?

An informal arbitration system that had been settling marital and business disputes in Ontario according to Sharia law has become a formal structure that can issue legally binding decisions. TheStar.com - New Islamic Institute set up for civil cases

This means a Canadian woman can be judged by Islamic Law if the infidel Canadian statutes don't deliver the kind of "justice" that Allah so often wills. That's good news for polygamists and wife beaters -- bad news for subjugated women who might otherwise have a hope of living lives independent of male "guardians" whose perverse sense of honor sometimes compels them to punish their daughters for provoking rapists and stone wives who get pregnant without permission.

This new dual track system supposedly reflects Canada's superior ability to tolerate the intolerable. According to Syed Mumtaz Ali, who is leading the organization of Canada's new Islamic Institute of Civil Justice,

"It offers not only a variety of choices, but shows the real spirit of our multicultural society."

"The Spirit of Multicultural Society" is presumably the title of a yet to be written book cataloging the proper responses of liberal, western-educated, European-Americans, to medieval, misogynist, theocratic cultures based on the individual's submission to the wishes of a group intrinsically intolerant of liberal, western concepts such as universal equality and the validity of multiple cultures.

In practical fact, there won't be any stonings in Montreal any time soon. First of all, the arbitration is voluntary and few women are likely to elect being stoned to death. Also, the decisions of the Islamic Institute can be overulled by the court if they are far out of line with established Canadian law.

But now that there are two legitimate sources of legal authority in Canada, what Muslim woman will refuse to participate in Sharia? What Muslim would dare to challenge the Sharia decision in a secular court?

What about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity . . . would she lose their children? Perhaps, especially if both parties in the marriage agreed to Sharia as a pre-nuptial agreement.

And what if both parties "voluntarily" agree to some barbaric Islamic remedy for, say, homosexual relations . . . will the Canadian court intervene to preserve Canadian rights and values?

Oh, Canada!

More here and here.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Let them Eat Deer

In suburban Connecticut a battle between hunters and vegans has claimed an unlikely victim . . . the homeless. The Homeless and the Meatless

In order to control the extreme overpopulation of deer in the area, the Audubon Society has sponsored a controlled hunt and has donated the venison to local homeless shelters. Good idea, right?

Not good enough for the strident pro-deer militants who try to stop the hunting of deer at all costs . . . even if the deer are starving to death and eating their young, even if the deer have totally wrecked the ecosystem by eating every living thing in sight, even if the deer are dispatched humanely and given a useful purpose for their grim lives.

Priscilla Feral is the president of Friends of Animals in Darien, Connecticut and a well know nutjob. She is appropriately named because she has gone completely native and was recently quoted in a local paper saying hunting deer is the equivalent of killing children in Iraq -- a terrible slur against Iraqis. It goes without saying the Feral is lacto-ovo vegan.

What's Feral's response to feeding the hungry with fresh lean meat?

Her group has pledged to replace, pound-for-pound, the 1,600 pounds of venison that the local food bank would reap from the deer hunt with what it calls "cruelty free" vegan fare. That is, if the Audubon calls off its hunt. Even stricter than vegetarians, vegans avoid all animal products including eggs, milk and honey.

According to Ms. Feral, proposed menus could include tempeh London broil, lentil orzo casserole, carrot pate, and wheat-free apple pie

Great! It's bad enough to find yourself hungry and homeless in the wealthiest county in the United States, but to top it off you get all the carrot pate you can eat (which is about one spitfull by my reckoning).

In the meantime the deer keep multiplying, keeping eating the next generation of trees and saplings, keep devouring the food supply for birds and other animals, keep colliding with cars and leaving their splattered carcasses all over the roadways.

These pseudo-environmentalists simply can't conceive that some animals are harder on the environment than people are.

My solution? Introduce a natural predator for the deer . . . like leopards!

The Joyous Sound of Teeth Gnashing

The one thing you've got to admire about the Bush Administration . . . they know just how to infuriate their enemies.

Yesterday, the Defense Department posted contracting guidelines for reconstruction projects in Iraq.

And guess what . . . for security reasons France, Germany and Russia are barred from submitting bids.

How unreasonable, and petty, and unilateral, and swaggering, and arrogant . . . were the responses from the Axis of Weasels.

Yet how elegantly have said Weasels been boxed in. After all, they said the war to overthrow the fascist regime was about money not human rights. And here they are upset when they don't have a place at the trough.

The message from DoD is twofold . . . these guys did all they could to protect Saddam from overthrow and that kind of behavior has consequences in the real world.

The other message is that France, Germany and Russia are security risks. If they were so intent on collaborating with the old Hussein regime would they not be inclined to see a restoration of that regime . . . particularly if that means they regain some hope of repayment of their outstanding loans?

But for all the complaints about Bush's crude political motivations from the excluded ones there is something notable that they have chosen to ignore . . . Israel is excluded too.

Is it because Israel supported Saddam? Is it because Israel might willingly undermine the reconstruction? Is it because Israelis said mean things about George Bush?

No, it's because awarding Israel a large reconstruction contract in Iraq would probainflamelame the Arab lunatics and feed their anti-semitic conspiracy theories and make the task harder than it already is.

The calculation is simple and without nuance: Whose participation would advance the reconstruction of Iraq?

France? No
Spain? Yes
Russia? No
Poland? Yes
Israel? No
Jordan? Yes

If the truth hurts . . . so be it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Everything Right Is Left Again

So bereft is the Left that it must commandeer the worst ideas of the Right in order to have something to say. See how effortlessly the Angry Left adopts the hate speech and racism of the fascists they so passionately claim to detest. Austin IndyMedia Center

How did the New Left, which began 40 years ago bathed in hope and light, turn so sour. Joy turned to frustration and to anger . . . and anger is just a step away from hatred. Today, what's left of the Left is an angry core of troubled people who seem to be participating in a mass self-loathing movement whereby they project their most odious beliefs and prejudices on those who they say they oppose.

Republicans are greedy, narrow-minded, antisemites? That's actually code for "I'm a greedy, narrow-minded, anti-semite." Bush is a Nazi? That's actually a cry for help, "I'm a Nazi and I can't help myself!"

Read the cover story in the The York Times Magazine about the Dean campaign and you'll learn that it's not about politics . . . it's about therapy. Anyone who has ever workled on a political campaign knows that the majority of hangers on are emotionally needy individuals who seek something that politics pretends to provide . . . meaning, a sense of purpose, a transcendent set of virtues.

These are fundamentally religious people who are too embarrassed to enter a church. That would make them evangelical Christians, and they hate evangelical Christians, right?

Hmmm . . . now it all begins to make sense.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

No Muslim Fanatics Here

Remember that sniper with the white van who terrorized Washington, DC about a year ago?

Remember how no one dared to link the random shootings to the global outbreak of Islamomurder. Indeed, recall how some boldly stated that the killer must be a homegrown right-wing gun nut not a foreign terrorist and certainly not a person of color?

Well, today the Baltimore Sun shares with us some of the frightening artwork done by foreign-born, trigger happy, boy sniper, John Malvo. And guess what? He seems to have been inspired by the Religion of Peace™.

Here’s a nice drawing that combines Islamofascism’s greatest hits – anti-Semitism, Osama worship, Amerihatred, and barbaric violence.

Here he shows almost as much talent as an artist as he does as a deranged religious fanatic.

And here he expresses his concerns about same-sex marriage. He’s opposed to it.

Now, of course, some will say that these scribblings have nothing to do with Islam. They are only the tortured illustrations of sick mind. They could just as easily have been made by a Christian fanatic.

True, but I find it odd how frequently that line of reasoning must be trotted out. It’s like saying, “yeah, but there are some nice parts of New Jersey too.” One never hears anyone saying that about Switzerland. It leads one to believe that maybe Trenton is a less desirable place to live than Lugano.

Islam may very well be a peaceful religion but it sure seems to inspire a lot of violence.

But that would be making a judgment, and we mustn’t do that.

Friday, December 05, 2003

"Religion of Peace" Watch

"The religious principle is that we cannot accept to live with infidels. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, said, `Hit the infidels wherever you find them.'

The New York Times quoting an Iraqi Freedom Fighter.

The Foe: A Tale of War: Iraqi Describes Battling G.I.’s
Peaceful Non-Existence Watch

Even though the Geneva "Peace Plan" gives the Palestinians everything they've ever asked for in diplomatic negotiations -- a sovereign state, Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, dismantlement of settlements, control over the Temple Mount including the sacred Wailing Wall, and the right of return for refugees -- even after all that, it's just not enough.

According to the National Post, Palestinian delegates to the Geneva meeting are being threatened with murder by their fellow death cultists.

In the Palestinian territories, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a terrorist group allied to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, denounced delegates who negotiated the Geneva Accord as "collaborators with Israel."

Shots were fired at Mr. Rabbo's home in Ramallah. When Palestinian delegates tried to leave Gaza to attend the ceremony in Geneva, they were jostled and spat on by angry crowds.

Two former Cabinet ministers who planned to endorse the accord decided to stay home for their own safety.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian leaders are calling on Mr. Arafat to reject the peace plan "publicly and clearly."

Kind of makes you wonder just what will satisfy these guys. Nothing short of an ethnically cleansed Israel with extra credit for pain and suffering, I presume.

Europe and the Jews

Europeans tacitly claim to be more sophisticated, more culturally advanced than Americans. This may be true, but if cultural progress means a Euro-style tolerance for medieval anti-Semitism, give me Disneyworld and NASCAR any day.

According to an EU study on anti-Semitism -- a study that was considered a bit too blunt for public distribution by the way -- reveals that Jew hatred is acceptable to both the right and left wings of European political discourse especially when expressed under the cover of criticizing Israel.

Unlike most racism which usually portrays the targeted minority as inferior socially, mentally, or physically, anti-Semitism assigns superior intelligence and superior social skills to Jews. This unique upside-down racism resonates not only with the stagnating Europeans but with the out and out backward Islamic world.

In recent years this resonance has blossomed into a mainstream sort of anti-Semitism in Europe that is totally alien and unacceptable in the United States. These latent prejudices are frequently expressed in Europe as part of pro-Palestinian or anti-American political stances.

These stances, by the way, are about the only things the Greens and the National Front types ever seem to agree on. According to the C.R.I.F : Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France:

In the extreme left-wing scene anti-Semitic remarks were to be found mainly in the context of pro-Palestinian and anti-globalisation rallies and in newspaper articles using anti-Semitic stereotypes in their criticism of Israel.

Often this generated a combination of anti-Zionist and anti-American views that formed an important element in the emergence of an anti-Semitic mood in Europe.

Israel, seen as a capitalistic, imperialistic power, the “Zionist lobby”, and the United States are depicted as the evildoers in the Middle East conflict as well as exerting negative influence on global affairs.

The convergence of these motives served both critics of colonialism and globalisation from the extreme left and the traditional anti-Semitic right-wing extremism as well as parts of the radical Islamists in some European countries.

Is it surprising then that Europe’s rather large Islamic community takes its cues from the European mainstream and translates latent hatred into physical violence?

Physical attacks on Jews and the desecration and destruction of synagogues were acts often committed by young Muslim perpetrators in the monitoring period.

Many of these attacks occurred either during or after pro-Palestinian demonstrations, which were also used by radical Islamists for hurling verbal abuse.

In addition, radical Islamist circles were responsible for placing anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet and in Arab-language media.

European culture has much going for it . . . much to admire and much Americans can learn from and emulate.

But the stain on the European character is an unreasoning hatred of Jews. And Europeans have successfully exported that hatred to less developed cultures where it has found fertile ground.

If Europeans want to play a central role in world affairs they can begin by confronting anti-Semitism and demonstrating to the rest of the world that civilized nations do not condone or accept hatred and violence against Jews.

No qualifiers about how other minorities are similarly oppressed. The truth is there are no other minority groups that are hated for their superior skills.

And while you can dismiss people you feel are inferior to you, they only recourse to the perception of intrinsic mental superiority is to counter it with superior physical violence.

Hence the Holocaust.

I can understand why blaming the United States for the troubles of the Middle East and Israel for the emergence of Islamic radicalism are easy for Europeans . . . it’s a painless alternative to examining European soul.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Freedom of Religion? Sure. As Long as it's Islam

There's always something interesting over at Little Green Footballs and today I found an article by an Arab-American woman named Nonie Darwish who writes about the tendency in the Arab world to present one face to each other and an entirely different one to outsiders . . . which is pretty much everyone else.

While I can't vouch for Darwish's insights they certainly seem to resonate with known practice.

For example, for western audiences the Palestinians always speak of the "Occupied Territories" as though they mean the West Bank and Gaza. Among themselves and according to their charter the occupied territories mean all of Israel.

Is Islam a religion of peace or submission? Depends on who you're talking to. Can a Muslim voluntarily convert to Christianity? That's not clear but according to Darwish the issue is touchy enough that Arab governments successfully lobbied to have that freedom struck from the UN charter on Human Rights and Religious Freedom.

Nonie Darwish

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

What Makes France Laugh?

The New York Times runs a front page story on virulent anti-semitism in France complete with the usual explanations and veiled blame for the victims themselves.

In this case the incidents are not old-style European anti-semitism but something more recent, more focused among the Franco-Islamofascist community, and generally having to do with Israel's reluctance to withdraw from the Earth's surface. This new wave of hatred is complicated by the fact that most French hate Israel even more than they hate Jews -- which is saying something.

So we then am I not surprised that Merde in France reports on a comedy sketch broadcast on state run television in which a comedian dressed as a rabbi jokes about the "axe americano-sioniste" and gives the Nazi salute while shouting "Heil Israel."

Now I know that humor translates poorly across languages and cultures, and I also know that French humor is a highly sophisticated thing -- as Jacques Tati, Jerry Lewis and Mickey Rourke demonstrate -- but is this sort of thing really funny to our French comrades? Are they really that insensitive, that provincial? Is this some sort of satirical mechanism for revealing the human folly undergirding our most serious issues so that we can all laugh at ourselves and defuse the tension?

Considering that France played a rather enthusiastic role in the last attempt to ethnically cleanse the world of Jews you might think this sort of satire was beyond the bounds of good taste.

obviously, good taste has been out of style in France for some time.

Le Figaro.fr
Speak For Yourself, Ken

Anguished tears stain the Letters page of The New York Times today. Ken Swensen, an enlightened reader from one of New York's tonier bedroom communities, takes issue with David Brooks’ column on how the conservatives in Republican Party have finally achieved their goal of tipping the political balance of the country to their favor in an enduring way just as FDR’s Democrats did in the 1930s.

Writing from the paneled seclusion of his McMansion in exclusive Pound Ridge far from the unwashed of the Big City, our latter-day Patrick Henry explains the ways of the world to the rest of us:

The reason conservatives will not stay in power long is simple: the majority of voters do not agree with their basic tenets. Their success must therefore rest on deception. Eventually, voters will unmask the truth.

Eventually these narrow minded proles will come to understand what Swensen has known for years. In fact, it seems Swensen knows what Americans really want even if they don't yet know it:

Americans do not want to dismantle environmental regulations. They don't want to favor big business over consumers and taxpayers. They don't want to starve the Social Security and Medicare programs. They don't want a foreign policy that shuns international cooperation. They don't want increasing concentrations of wealth.

Actually, no one wants those things except maybe increasing concentrations of wealth and then only as long as they are concentrating in bank accounts that are easily accessible.

It may take voters a few more years of George W. Bush to figure out what's happening. But it won't take 60 years.

Oh, those ignorant voters! My word. A few more months of that gauche cowboy and they'll finally come to their senses. I mean, really. They may be stupid but they’re not THAT stupid.

Until the masses finally come around to his point of view, Swensen will just have to content himself with deer running rampant on his protected wetlands, a six figure salary as some sort of corporate pilot fish, the comfort of knowing his 401K has been growing at a rate that actually surpasses inflation, and the security from random acts of barbaric cruelty that the U.N routinely deplores but rarely does anything about.

Oh, and that concentrating wealth? I’d say it’s a safe bet that Ken Swensen in a major beneficiary of this awful deception and that he’s not in any rush to correct the imbalance.

what I don't get is if ignorance is bliss, why is Ken so angry?

Conservatives in Power
Wackos Not Welcome in Canada

The New York Times runs a front page story about the growing cultural and political rift between the United States and Canada.

The gist of it is that Canada, historically more conservative than the revolutionary United States, has now become the vanguard of freedom and enlightenment when compared to its southern neighbor.

The only examples of this role reversal are Vancouver decriminalization of marijuana, Ontario's legalization of gay marriage, and Canada's overall lack of religious animation. Hardly the stuff of revolution but c'mon, let's give the Canucks a moment in the spotlight.

unfortunately, the nature of this new revolution in the Great White North can be summed up in quote:

"You can be a social conservative in the U.S. without being a wacko. Not in Canada."

Now some might find that sort of narrowing of the scope of acceptable thought to be refreshing after enduring so much resistance to progressivism among the Neanderthals in Bush Country. Sounds like the save old revolution to me. A bunch of congenitally uncool elitists who think they know what's best for me.

Good thing we're all armed to the teeth down here.

Canadaâ€Â™s View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Common Concerns

I found an interesting poll today that reflected some very strongly held beliefs about the President Bush and Iraq.

It seems 69% of those surveyed in this poll said that Bush's Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops in Baghdad was a "publicity stunt." More than half say the Middle East is not safer without Saddam. An overwhelming majority said they would protest Bush's visit to the United Kingdom and three-quarters say the world is not safer with a single superpower.

Whose views are these? Well, it's not a stretch to say that they are probably in harmony with people who plan to vote in the U.S. Democratic primaries. They're probably in synch with elite opinion in the Axis of Chocolate: France, Belgium and Germany. I'd say they are probably a good reflection of the views of most university professors, Hollywood docudrama producers, foundation program officers, unionized elementary school teachers, network newsreaders, hemp clothing designers, and current State Department employees.

So whose opinions are these anyway? Why, the viewers of al-Jazeera of course.

Aljazeera.Net - Poll results