Saturday, November 25, 2006
You've got to admire a country that can bounce back from two nuclear attacks and within a few generations are churning out quality television programing such as this:
Keep in mind, these guys believed their leader was divine and they killed about couple of thousand Americans with organized suicide attacks 60 years ago. Today, they're a democracy (imposed through military force by the way) and pioneers in robotics and Hello Kitty technology.
If they can come this far, there's still hope that my kids will be spending Spring Break at MeccaDisney when they grow up.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The Times Policy on Iraq
A typical Sunday morning in November. Up at a civilized hour. A mug of coffee and a crackling fire to warm me in my favorite chair as I survey the raw autumn day out my picture window and review the events of the week with the Sunday New York Times while Bunny Berrigan gently tickles the ivories in the background.
Actually it’s more like lock myself in the bathroom to escape the howls of children and/or dog and read whatever soggy section of the Times that hasn’t been chewed up or spat upon by beast or infant . . . or both!
So it was with excitement that I read the lead editorial in the Times . . . the one that promised at last to reveal the official policy of the Enlightened with regard to Iraq. After years of criticism of Chimpy McHitlerburton and his evil croneys, the Times is finally putting its cards on the table.
Let’s see what we have here:
“Unless America’s exit plans are coupled with a more serious effort to build up
Iraq’s security forces and mediate its sectarian divisions, a phased withdrawal
will only hasten Iraq’s descent into civil war.”
Umm, where have I heard that before? Why yes, it’s the policy of the United States of America. President Bush has on a number of occasions expressed U.S. policy in Iraq as building up Iraqi security forces, mediating Sunni, Shiite and Kurd divisions, and then withdrawing forces. And he’s been downright vocal about the foolishness of cutting and running before the mission is complete.
“We also fear that Iraqis will have no interest in anything but retribution,
until they see that security and rebuilding are possible.”
Wait a second. This too is American policy, is it not? Establish order and rebuild the nation while giving citizens a stake in the future. Didn’t we depose a ruthless dictator at one point, restore electrical power and oil production and then offering ordinary Iraqis a chance to vote for the first time in generations? I’m pretty sure that is in fact the mission defined.
“For that reason we have suggested one last push to stabilize Baghdad. That
would require at least a temporary increase in American and Iraqi troops on
Hey, that’s the Bush policy too. Use armed soldiers, lots of them, to impose peace on the capital and then expand the zone of stability outward. That’s a great idea. Some might even say bold and visionary. The Times policy on Iraq is the Bush policy on Iraq except without all the self determination nonsense.
So what exactly was the fundamental difference of opinion with Bush on Iraq? I mean, he’s the worst president in human history, right? How many forests has the Times clear cut to inform us that Bush is wrong on a molecular level?
And yet, I can’t see any daylight between the Bush policy and the Times policy. What’s with that?
And what if the “Times” policy succeeds; what would be the result? A peaceful, multiethnic democracy taking root in the heart of the medieval Islamist fascist bone yard posing no threat to the United States and serving as a beacon of hope to a region mired in gloom.
But wait, isn’t that . . . no, it couldn’t be . . . didn’t he once say . . . I’m sure this can’t be true . . . but, could it be . . . that Bush is right??!!
Now you tell us!
If Bush lied about the threat of Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons development programs – cloyingly known as WMDs – then what’s the deal with these guys? Are they lying too? Are they lying now? Could it be that partisan advantage crept into their calculations at some point?
Of course, you can’t trust the images you're seeing or the sounds coming from the speakers' mouths because the video was produced by the Republicans and the remarks are surely taken completely out of context.
Or perhaps the truth is that the Hussein dynasty maintained the will and the means to resume its WMD program as soon as it had finished undermining the UN sanctions in place to curtail such programs.
In fact, The New York Times mistakenly verified this alternative reality earlier this month with a breathless account of how the Bushitler regime incompetently posted Iraqi nuclear weapons plans on the internet for all to see.
Not that they had such plans, mind you.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Khamenei calls elections a victory for Iran -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush's defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.
Bush has accused Iran of trying to make a nuclear bomb, being a state sponsor of terrorism and stoking sectarian conflict in Iraq, all charges Tehran denies.
"This issue (the elections) is not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush's hawkish policies in the world," Khamenei said in remarks reported by Iran's student news agency ISNA on Friday.
"Since Washington's hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation."
The Democrats wrested control of both houses of Congress from the Republicans in this week's mid-term elections, partly because of voter concern over the war in Iraq.
Khamenei, a senior cleric in power since 1989, has the last word on matters of state in Iran's complex system of Islamic rule, while the government, under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in charge of day-to-day decision making.
"The result of this election indicates that the majority of American people are dissatisfied and are fed up with the policies of the American administration," the IRNA state news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Khamenei said military maneuvers in the Gulf this week in which Iranian forces tested new missile systems showed Iran was ready to face any threat.
But, he said: "With the scandalous defeat of America's policies in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, America's threats are empty threats on an international scale."
Khamenei condemned Israel for its artillery attack on Wednesday in Gaza which killed 18 civilians, and also the "silence" of Western nations over "this great oppression."
"The daily crimes by the savage Zionists in Gaza once more prove that holding talks with this occupying regime is of no use."
Thursday, November 09, 2006
President Bush will announce that Donald Rumsfeld is resigning because of ill health. In his place, and in the spirit of bipartisanship, the President appoints newly re-elected Joe Lieberman (I) to be the new Secretary of Defense.
Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell (R) then gets to appoint someone to fill out Lieberman’s term.
Defeated Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R) happens to be available or Bill Nickerson, the long-serving and enormously popular State Senator from Ned Lamont’s hometown, Greenwich. Oh, and Nickerson is an (R) too, by the way.
Since the Democrats lost the Lieberman seat this year to Lieberman, they can’t exactly call foul. And Lieberman owes the Democrats a bit of payback for their betrayal of him. The Republicans get an extra Senator and the Democrats get rid of Rumsfeld.
Everyone happy, yes?
UPDATE: Good prediction. Just wrong.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
With the election only a week away, the only excitement left is wondering how the Democrats will blow it this time. Well, let's take it from the legendary "fast closer" himself:
Of course, they support the troops. And don't you dare question his patriotism!
Kerry now says that he wasn't saying soldiers were poorly educated rubes, but that he"botched" a joke.
This is plausible to me. I can't imagine Kerry delivering anything close to an unbotched joke. This is a guy so crushingly humorless that he holds a press conference to explain a joke . . . and I still don't get it.
It's been a while since I was lectured to by the pompous billionaire. As usual, it's all Kerry bluster about fighting, and the crazyness of opponents, and "real men" all from a coiffed asshole who is the only politician so elitist that he actually looks like an ivory tower.
Is this an actual issue or a distraction? Well, it brings up the contempt of the Left for the military (60% of the troops vote Republican), the derangement of Bush hatred that makes otherwise normal people behave as barking moonbats, and the harshness of political discourse.
But it's also a wonderful reminder that we came really close to electing this guy and the world is better for his defeat.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I love the last two weeks before an election because that’s the time when all reason and civility breaks down and humanity with all its flaws exposes itself to unsuspecting voters and frightened children.
The ads get edgier and the accusations get cruder. This ad aimed against senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. is getting a spike of attention today:
The “progressive” response to this is that all those funny vignettes may or may not be accurate depictions of the Democrat’s positions, but they are all just a set up for a blatantly racist appeal to fear. You see, the white woman at the end is suggesting a mixing of the races, as Ford is African-American.
Miscegenation, to the progressive mind, is a hot button issue with the Neanderthals south of the Mason-Dixon Line. That must be why Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly, Alan Keyes and Tiger Woods are so reviled among southern conservatives. (Hint: They're lionized, not reviled)
Or perhaps this is another case of what psychologists call “projection” whereby your own deepest shame is projected onto your opponents.
After all, it’s the progressive types who slyly suggest that Thomas, Connerly, and even Tiger are less authentically black than other non-white-spoused African-Americans.
I’m no pop-psyche major but, if Harold Ford does get elected the junior Senator from Tennessee, I would advise him to watch his back. If he legislates as conservatively as he has campaigned, it will be the very same people who are outraged now whispering about his “authenticity” later when he breaks with the progressive orthodoxy.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I expect that artists like to consider themselves free thinkers unrestricted by society’s latent hypocrisy and pressure to conform. Yet, in New York City -- the most provincial community in the United States -- artists are trampling each other to add their unique hollering to the echo chamber that passes for political theatre in the Naked City.
In the two weeks preceding Election Day, New York first-nighters can choose from a selection of cutting-edge theatrical commentary that ranges from liberal-progressive to progressive-liberal and everything in between. It’s an immovable feast!
How do freethinking New York artists hate Bush? Let me count the ways:
At the Actor’s Playhouse in Greenwich Village you can catch “Bush Wars,” a scathing indictment of George W. Bush and American foreign policy.
Or how about heading over to the East Village to see “Dumya’s Rapture,” a scathing indictment of George W. Bush and American domestic policy.
Too subtle and nuanced for you? Then boogie on up to West 72nd Street and the Triad Theater to see less telling titles that appear to promise a reassuring evening of BushHate® but I’m not going to waste my time finding out for sure.
What exactly goes through the minds of the fragile individualists who go to these plays, much less the obedient rebels who stage them? Fortunately, I have no idea. But challenging conventional wisdom seems to be the least of these mavericks’ considerations.
I mean, if I was a playwright, just how tired would the “Bush is dumb” storyline appear to be? Would I want to invest more than an afternoon’s effort in committing my take to paper? Would anyone in the audience be able to muster a moment’s worth of suspense about the direction of this play?
Clearly, the purpose of these theatrical productions, and most art that deals with politics nowadays, is not to speak truth to power but to recite comforting affirmations to the true believers.
Not only is that boring, but it’s an enormous lost opportunity.
How difficult would it be for a perceptive artist to take a truly unorthodox and dissenting position on Bush et al? After all, what would any self-respecting artist rather be, the courageous lancer of boils or the boil itself?
You’d almost think that New York’s latter day satirists are afraid to break from the herd.
I’m no artist myself but I would guess that the art world is a pretty small and land-locked society populated by insecure poseurs who crave the affirmation of their peers. In other words, they’re just like everyone else . . . uniquely so.
In retrospect, the “conformist” 1950s look like a rich broth of courage and creativity. Think of the breadth of artistic expression – jazz, abstract expressionism, international style, beat poets – all contributing the esthetic backdrop to the stirrings of the civil rights, feminist, and environmental movements and joining in the political discourse on the role of government, the meaning of freedom, the existential threat of nuclear war.
Here's a taste of what we're missing:
We have little of that excitement and originality today. In fact, originality seems to have been patented in the 1960s and none are allowed to infringe upon it now.
Rock and Roll? What could it possibly mean now that it surrounds us like water in an aquarium? When was the last time some kid experienced the clandestine pleasure of finding a distant AM station playing forbidden music? The only possible equivalent would be a teenager listening to a Christian pop station in his parents’ Tribeca loft.
Jazz? A seedy neighborhood long since gentrified by the Sting corporation.
Graphic art? Years of abuse and overuse has blunted its ability to shock and challenge.
Architecture? After completing the Luftwaffe’s unfinished work, what could modern architecture possibly have to offer except for the same mindless conformity that modernism was meant to confront?
Poetry? Sophomoric boasting set to rhyme.
Here's a typically safe pose:
Today we don’t have artistic courage; we have fear. Not fear of censorship from an imperial government . . . if only. That’s the straw man today’s artists fight in bitter hand to hay combat every day. Real censorship occurs when an artist contemplates a critique of medieval, misogynist Islamofascism and hesitates because of his fear of physical pain.
The censorship the BushHaters fear is in the form of exclusion . . . exclusion from their friends and fellow "artists." That's a very real fear.
Mounting an off-Broadway play insulting George W. Bush is the opposite of courageous. It’s undemanding and crushingly dull.
Yet there are words that long to be written, images that yearn to be shown, and beliefs that struggle to be understood.
Where are all the artists when you need them?
Thursday, October 05, 2006
It’s been said that all politics is local. The 60’s generation took it a bit farther and claimed that politics is personal. Now it’s getting intimate.
According to an ad in the in the New York Times this morning, Cindy Sheehan is speaking tonight about war atrocities and there will be a “singles reception” afterwards where you can presumably get progressive if you know what I mean.
Political activism, particularly on the Left, is a popular means for expressing one’s identity as much as it is a way to influence political decisions. But what fascinates me are those who really don’t understand the issues all that well and don’t expect to influence politics at all.
They’re attracted to the affirmation that they are “doing the right thing” by being against war, against environmental catastrophe, against torture, starvation, nuclear disaster, death, disease, mean people.
Anger is kind of a rush and politics is one of the few socially acceptable channels for getting barking mad.
Being in favor of something is . . . well, that’s a little more difficult.
Anyone who has worked on a real political campaign knows that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people and the rest are hangers-on who are there for the camaraderie, the songs, the excitement and the chance to meet other lonely people like themselves. They don’t care about winning an election or changing the world. They just want to be loved.
This is politics as therapy and having been on both sides of the divide, I can tell you, Republicans are in it to change the world, and get laid if there’s time. For Democrats, it’s exactly the opposite.
Case in point? Come to the 92nd Street Y tonight and hear an activist. Or if you prefer, save 25 bucks and just check out the action.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Here's the transcript from the Flight 93 voice recorder on September 11, 2001.
The words in parentheses are translated from Arabic. It's unclear, of course, who was speaking Arabic. I certainly wouldn't want to be judgmental.
What's also odd is that this incident seems to have taken place before Chimpy McHitlerburton's illegal, misleading, worse invasion ever of the peace loving Middle East. Strange.
09:35:33 — No, no, no. Unintelligible.
09:35:35 — Down in the airport.
09:35:39 — Down, down.
09:35:40 — I don’t want to die.
09:35:41 — No, no. Down, down.
09:35:42 — I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.
09:35:44 — No, no. Down, down, down, down, down, down.
09:35:47 — No, no, please.
09:35:57 — No.
09:37:06 — (That’s it. Go back.)
09:37:06 — (That’s it.) Sit down.
09:37:36 —(Everthing is fine. I finished.)
09:38:36 — (Yes.)
09:39:11 — Ah. Here’s the captain. I would like to tell you all to remain seated. We have a bomb aboard, and we are going back to the airport, and we have our demands. So, please remain quiet.
[ ... ]
09:45:19 — (How about we let them in? We let the guys in now.)
09:45:23 — (OK.)
09:45:24 — (Should we let the guys in?)
09:45:25 — (Inform them, and tell him to talk to the pilot. Bring the pilot back.)
09:45:57 — (In the name of Allah. In the name of Allah. I bear witness that there is no other God, but Allah.)
09:47:31 — Unintelligible.
09:47:40 — (Allah knows.)
09:48:15 — Unintelligible.
09:48:38 — Set course.
[ ... ]
09:53:20 — (The best thing: The guys will go in, lift up the) ... Unintelligible ... (and they put the axe into it. So, everyone will be scared.)
09:53:27 — (Yes.)
09:53:28 — (The axe.)
[ ... ]
09:58:44 — (Oh Allah. Oh Allah. Oh the most gracious.)
09:58:47 — Ugh. Ugh.
09:58:52 — Stay back.
09:58:55 — In the cockpit.
09:58:57 — In the cockpit.
09:58:57 — (They want to get in here. Hold, hold from the inside. Hold from the inside. Hold).
09:59:04 — Hold the door.
09:59:09 — Stop him.
09:59:11 — Sit down.
09:59:13 — Sit down.
09:59:15 — Sit down.
09:59:16 — Unintelligible.
09:59:17 — (What?)
09:59:18 — (There are some guys. All those guys.)
09:59:20 — Lets get them.
[ ... ]
10:00:07 — (Is that it? Shall we finish it off?)
10:00:08 — (No. Not yet.)
10:00:09 — (When they all come, we finish it off.)
10:00:11 — (There is nothing.)
10:00:13 — Unintelligible.
10:00:14 — Ahh.
10:00:15 — I’m injured.
10:00:16 — Unintelligible.
10:00:21 — Ahh.
10:00:22 — (Oh Allah. Oh Allah. Oh gracious.)
10:00:25 — In the cockpit. If we don’t, we’ll die.
10:00:29 — (Up, down. Up, down, in the) cockpit.
10:00:33 — (The) cockpit.
10:00:37 — (Up, down. Saeed, up, down.)
10:00:42 — Roll it.
10:00:55 — Unintelligible.
10:00:59 — (Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.)
10:01:01 — Unintelligible.
10:01:08 — (Is that it? I mean, shall we pull it down?)
10:01:09 — (Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.)
10:01:10 — Unintelligible.
10:01:11 — (Saeed.)
10:01:12 — ... engine ...
10:01:13 — Unintelligible.
10:01:16 — (Cut off the oxygen.)
10:01:18 — (Cut off the oxygen. Cut off the oxygen. Cut off the oxygen.)
10:01:34 — Unintelligible.
10:01:37 — Unintelligible.
10:01:41 — (Up, down. Up, down.)
10:01:41 — (What?)
10:01:42 — (Up, down.)
10:01:42 — Ahh.
10:01:53 — Ahh.
10:01:54 — Unintelligible.
10:01:55 — Ahh.
10:01:59 — Shut them off.
10:02:03 — Shut them off.
10:02:14 — Go.
10:02:14 — Go.
10:02:15 — Move.
10:02:16 — Move.
10:02:17 — Turn it up.
10:02:18 — (Down, down.)
10:02:23 — (Pull it down. Pull it down.)
10:02:25 — Down. Push, push, push, push, push.
10:02:33 — (Hey. Hey. Give it to me. Give it to me.)
10:02:35 — (Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me.)
10:02:37 — (Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me.)
10:02:40 — Unintelligible.
10:03:02 — (Allah is the greatest.)
10:03:03 — (Allah is the greatest.)
10:03:04 — (Allah is the greatest.)
10:03:06 — (Allah is the greatest.)
10:03:06 — (Allah is the greatest.)
10:03:07 — No.
10:03:09 — (Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.)
10:03:09 — (Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.)
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
According to the Social Security administration, Jacob is the single most popular name for boys born this decade in the United States. An improvement over Dylan I suppose.
Conspiracy theorists will no doubt wonder what the chances are that the 885th most popular name is Fidel and the 883rd is Kennedy.
But then look at name number 887: Oswaldo!
Run your finger down to 908 if you want a real shocker: Jakobe.
Sure that could be a variation on Jacob but I'm thinking it could easily be pronounced "JackRuby." And what kind of Grassy Knoll fanatic would name their child Jakrube? An exaggeration I'll admit, but still, who would do such a thing?
The list only goes to 1,000 so there's no telling how popular "Giancana" is.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The issue here is not so much freedom of speech as much as it is can the threat of violence insulate a radical political movement from criticism.
There is no moral equivalence. There's not even esthetic equivalance. The Danish cartoons are easy to look at and clever in their way.
The virulently anti-Semitic cartoons that regularly run in the state-run media in Arab regimes such as Qatar are the sort of thing you might have seen in Der Strumer, ca. 1936.
This episode should alert observers over the age of 50 that a radical change has taken place in Europe and the Arab worlds. Before World War II, Cairo was a cosmopolitan and multiethnic world capital while cities like Berlin and Nuremberg were stridently xenophobic police states.
Is the Arab world convulsed by the the presence of Israel? If so it doesn't quite explain the closing of minds on an institutional level.
For example, Egypt once had a thriving Arabic-language motion picture industry that served audiences throughout the entire region. Today, movies are illegal in places like Saudi Arabia . . . no movies have been shown there publically since the 1970s.
Whether it is becoming more repressive in response to external developments (such as Israel) or internal ones (such as the spread of Wahabbism) or a combination of the two, one conclusion should be clear: The Islamic world is headed in an unhealthy direction.
This is a challenging concept for some people to accept especially if one cannot imagine the world beyond one's own parochial backyard. As one well-meaning commenter on TPMcafe writes:
This is an interesting conflict. As a secularist who believes in free speech, I think the Muslim world is over-reacting. However, I also sense growing racism against Muslims and wonder if the reaction we are seeing among Muslims is in some ways similar to the reaction we see among African-Americans when someone like Rush Limbaugh says that Donovan McNabb wouldn't be regarded as good if he weren't black. If this is the case, asking moderate Muslims to come to the defense of the cartoons might be like asking moderate African- Americans to come to the defense of Rush.
Without Rush or Bush or some other political Polaris to guide them, some folks are totally disoriended. They have no idea what they truly believe. The deafening silence of "moderate" Muslims in this and nearly all discussions about Islam may mean that such moderates either don't exist or fear for their lives if they articulate their moderation.
The TPMcafe guy concludes with a call for understanding:
It just seems like this is a situation that should be used to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and hopefully some mutual understanding and respect for each side's culture, fears, and values. What we don't need is more polarization (which seems to be where we're headed).
This is a great idea but probably not for the reasons the writer thinks it is. I mean, what if the other side has already made up its mind about you?
How much understanding of Judeo-Christian values can there be in a part of the world where the practice or Christianity and Judeism is against the law? How much respect for Western culture, fears, and values can we expect from a political movement that defines itself in direct opposition to Western culture?
How much room for negotoation and compromise is available with a competing system that does not recognize peaceful co-existance as an ideal?
The information you need to make a judgement is available for you to see. The real challenge seems to be in making any judgement at all.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Here are the latest pictures from the small but spirited rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across Second Avenue from the Danish Consulate.
After milling about for a while speakers emerged to spontaneously bear witness . . . or something like that.
Like most quasi-political gatherings, the crowd was a mixture of noble souls and the possibly unhinged. Most people registered their solidarity in silence, some exchanged e-mail addresses, all nodded in agreement that the threat of physical violence, not consideration of some cultural sensitivity, is what keeps more news outlets from addressing the issue of Islamofascism.
At one point a trucker on Second Avenue signalled his support with a blast from his air horn.
Little Denmark seems an odd rallying point for passionate people but as I believe Stephen Stills of CSN&Y once sang, "The ones you never notice are the ones you've got to watch" although I suspect he wasn't talking about small, beleagured, liberal democracies enduring the fabricated and focused theocratic hatred of the global jihadist movement.
Thanks for whoever brought the Havarti.
More words and pictures over at Atlas Shrugs, and The Infidel Alliance.