Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Last Word on the Cartoon Chaos

OK, maybe not the last word, but Christopher Hitchens lays it all out here.

A Rally for Civilization

On Friday, bloggers, activists, and ordinary people took to the streets of D.C. to take a stand for free speech, civil society, and moral clarity. Word on the street is that was a great event. People of all political stripes stood with Denmark in solidarity, and gave a resounding "not this time," to those who would put forth the idea that it's okay to silence free speech with violence and terror, lest we offend, and those too foolish or cowardly to call that idea what it is. Chris Hitchens was there, and gave a speech.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

Oh, and there was a rally in New York just yesterday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Modern Conservatism and the Bush Loyalty Cult

Glenn Greenwald has one of the most well-reasoned and elegant essays on what can only be described as the cultish nature of absolute Bush loyalty. He deals with Coulter's latest infamy, as the inability of many on the right to fully and completely condemn it. This has started quite the firestorm in the blogosphere.

No need for excerpts. You have to check it out.

More on this later.

This UAE Port Deal Is A Non-Issue

At least Dan Drezner thinks so.

Honestly, I'm inclined to agree.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What Do Al Gore, Gary Busey, and Billy Zane Have in Common?

If you guessed that they've engaged in inflaming anti-Americanism, you'd be right. I've always respected Al Gore, but his comments in Saudi Arabia were, for the lack of a wittier expression, over the line. For the purposes of context and accuracy, here's what he said, courtesy of the Calgary Sun-Times:

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia -- Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore told an audience yesterday that the U.S. government committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.
Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. He said the administration of President George W. Bush was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

"The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake," Gore said during the Jidda Economic Forum. "The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States."

Here's the thing. Even if one submits the idea that some Arabs were mistreated post-9/11, it is utterly false to accuse the U.S of indiscriminate roundups. Were mistakes made? Sure. Was there a lot of anti-Arab sentiment in certain quarters? Sure. But Gore made it seem like we just rounded up all the brown people we could find. The fact is, it didn't happen. I'm sure many on the far-right probably hoped it would happen, but at the end of the day, our response was pretty restrained.

Let's not forget that Muslims and Arabs in America are the freest on the Earth. I'm left wondering how many people realize that Muslims have more religious freedom to be Muslims here, than in Saudi Arabia. Not only is Saudi Arabia a sweeping theocracy, one cannot question the government. In fact, if the Islam you happen to practice is the wrong one, three guesses as to what happens. If Gore wanted to open a dialogue on U.S-Saudi relations, then he should rebuke the Saudis for their theocratic ways, and openly show how the U.S is not only better, but the best, in terms of human rights and religious liberty.

Never mind the fact that he said this in Saudi frickin Arabia!

Of course Gore's behavior seems like small stuff compared to what certain American actors have gotten themselves into, with a Turkish film that is nakedly anti-American, and anti-Semitic.

In a new Turkish movie, called Valley of the Wolves Iraq, is the most expensive Turkish movie ever. In the film, American soldiers are brutal murderers, and B-list actor Gary Busry plays a Jewish doctor, who steals the organs of Iraqis, and sells them to wealthy buyers in New York and Tel Aviv. This of course gives credence to the damnable blood libel against Jews, that Jews steal the organs of Arabs. Billy Zane stars in the film as well.
Aside from trying to make some cash to salvage their washed up careers, what would possess these two idiots to do such a thing? Even if it was for the money, how desperate do you have to be to engage in such filth? Busey's supposed to be a Christian, for God's sake! AS far the larger impact on Hollywood goes, the one saving grace is that these are two B-List actors, and no major Hollywood actors or producers have touched this steaming pile of anti-Semitic dung. I thought Busey was cool.

I'd say a boycott's on the way, but I suspect that the majority of Americans' commitment to good cinema will take care of that.
Story is here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

One Year Anniversary!

This blog was birthed into existence a year ago today. Huzzah. It's been an interesting year in the blogosphere, interesting and fun.

Oh, and there's that whole Valentine's Day thing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Passion, Poise, Politics, and Phony Outrage

The funeral for the late, great Coretta Scott King was today. Let me first start by saying that she was truly an American hero, and a woman of strength, dignity and character. Not only did she help strengthen her husband's legacy, she forged her own, and that of the whole King family. The funeral was great and majestic event, even including the supposedly awkward political moments. I'll not dwell on this for too long, because the phony outrage has already worn me out.

Conservatives and Republicans are up in arms over many of the political remarks that were made, many of them interpreted as direct personal attacks on Bush. The Rev. Joseph Lowery made mention of Coretta King's opposition to war in general, and the Iraq war in particular, and made a remark about the lack of WMDs over there, and "weapons of misdirection over here," referring to poverty and other issues. Jimmy Carter also spoke, and made references to Katrina, and the fact that the King's were illegally wiretapped (a reference to the current NSA spy program). He also didn't shake Bush's hand. Ted Kennedy made a great, pretty nonpolitical speech (one of the best ones), and Bill Clinton was at his usual best.

Speaking of Clinton's speech, many felt that he was trying to prop up his wife politically. It must be pointed out that the audience fueled that whole moment. The fact is, the Republicans here are full of phony outrage. With Carter being the possible exception, no one was trying to make this a Bush-bashing event. Coretta King was committed to very real issues, many of them controversial, and in honoring her, many speakers simply spoke to that. It was political, but it was kinda supposed to be. I do have to admit though, that it must have been a bit awkward for Bush, hearing criticisms of his policies (or at least indirect ones), with him sitting right there. In my view, he was a good sport, and I really think it was all about the spirit of the occasion.

Keep in mind also, that nobody ever mentioned Bush by name, except in praise and in a welcoming fashion. There were no calls for troop withdrawal from Iraq (thank God), and let's not forget, nothing that was said was really false-there were no WMDs, and the Kings were wiretapped. I think all in all, it was a moving and respectful day, and the Republicans are trying being overly sensitive here. After all, in the minds of some, if you criticize the President's tie, you're a traitor.

Conservatives seem to want to make a political issue out of this. Some suggest this marred the whole event, comparing it to the legitimately over-political Wellstone memorial. Tucker Carlson says the focus was too much on the politics of the moment. It might seem that way, if you only focus on those couple of speakers. Some accuse the Democrats of trying to use this for political points, as if the King family conspired with the DNC in some shadowy back room, and worked out some sinister plan. This is of course, absurd.

Many suggest that some remarks were out of line, and maybe some were, but the idea that Republican Bush-coddlers are going to try to stain this funeral, because Bush got zinged about wiretaps is disgusting. I have to wonder, are they really THAT passionate about the NSA spying program? Maybe that explains why Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who doesn't back the plan.

Talk about your weapons of misdirection.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Thoughts on the Decay of Civilization

You know, I recognize that the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, that started in Denmark, and have outraged Muslims worldwide are crude, indecent, and offensive. One has to wonder though, when does it stop? There is no excuse for extremist violence. It is wholly unacceptable to attempt to silence free expression through death threats and real violence. Keep in mind that I'm not defending these cartoons, but if their intent was to make a statement against the intolerance of radical Islam, then it seems that the radicals have only proved them right. What really bothers me about this is that a lot of leaders, particularly European ones, seem more concerned with apologizing for the cartoons, than comdemning the violence. Muslims leaders plead for their fellow Muslims to be reasonable, but it seems that their calls for peace are not as full of energy as their outrage over these cartoons.

Last I checked, free speech still counts for something, and that includes offensive speech. The West should not apologize for free expression. Again, I'm not defending these images, but violence cannot be the acceptable response here. While I'm sure the caricature of Muhammad is offensive to all Muslims, you'd think Muslims would be equally offended by the extremists that have corrupted their faith. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have never seen a reaction approaching anything like this, over the numerous anti-Semitic stuff spread worldwide.

I hate to rant, but it bothers me when people begin to sanction the subjugation of free speech and thought under fear and violence. If sense is to have any dominion at all in our society, we must forcibly condemn, and compel all civilized people of all religions to condemn this violent mania.

OK, I'll dismount from my high horse, now.

The story is here, BTW.