An open secret
"The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism has published a pretty good study of press coverage up to the last presidential debate. The finding that has been most talked about (and misunderstood) is that in looking at the number of articles about each presidential candidate, the number of positive article about Obama outnumbers the positive articles about McCain by a margin of 3 to 1. .... More interesting but still somewhat off the mark was the analytics on the “tone” of coverage. The tone issue is hard to measure but taken together, the study does find that the media has take a different tone with Obama than they have with McCain.
... As we head into the final week of this election cycle we need to ask our media this question:
In the years to come, everyone will be looking at you and your role in this election. What will you say to them about it? Will you take responsibility?
You, the mainstream media, are not telling the American public what it needs to know. You are not giving us all the information we need. The information is out there, you are not using it, not looking for it and sometimes even suppressing it ." (The Breath of the Beast")
The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
An open secret
Monday, October 27, 2008
Another light shining from Tehran: exposing the Holocaust Lie
"... the book "is an effort to expose the need to research the event of the Holocaust." The following is the transcript of the report."
Mohammad Saeed Jabalameli, chancellor of Iran University of Science and Technology:
"In order to question the Holocaust, experts needed to conduct studies, but the important thing is that fundamental questions have arisen in recent years: If the Holocaust is indeed a historical event that really took place, why don't they allow this issue to be investigated? Why don't they let academic circles investigate this issue? This alone is an indication that it is a fabrication, with no historical validity."
"If the Holocaust is indeed a historical event that really took place, why don't they allow this issue to be investigated? Why don't they let academic circles investigate this issue? This alone is an indication that it is a fabrication, with no historical validity."
Typing "Holocaust" into Amazon book search tool, brought 79,378 Results. Perhaps someone should advise the Iranian regime of such a place as Amazon.
On Concordia library, 7790 (presumably academic research book) results were found.
I wonder how the no-preconditions fantasy talks with the Iranian regime are going to be defined. Perhaps a gesture of good will will be required, why not. Let's kick off the no-conditions talks with a clean slate, burn all the books about the Holocaust, remove any mention of them from university libraries, let Iranian researchers verify whether the Holocaust did or did not happen?
Can someone explain to me why the Iranian ayatollahs are so obsessed with the Holocaust?
Can someone explain to me why Germany appears to be getting cozier with Iran's pathological liars?
More from the Iranian medievalist anti-Jewish paranoid pandemic (H/T: Mick):
The economic crisis began on August 15, 1971, when President Nixon canceled the Bretton Woods agreement, which linked the old gold dollar to the Jewish gold. Thus, the dollar was severed from gold, and became subjected to the whims and schemes of the Zionist lobby, whose goal was, and still is, to take control of the world's gold, which is deposited in Swiss banks or in the central banks of countries as gold reserves for their banknotes, as well as to enslave the peoples and then to impoverish them.
Imagine someone who wants to make himself and others a smoothie. He has never seen a smoothie, let alone prepared or tasted one. But he does have a vague idea that a smoothie is made by mixing all sorts of things in a blender. And a blender he's got! So into the blender he throws a tomato, a strawberry, some lemon juice, two teaspoons of sugar, one tablespoon of salt, a pinch of black pepper, a glass of milk, a shot of espresso, a shot of vinegar, some tea leaves, half a glass of Buckley cough syrup, and a handful of white seaside sand for good measure. He mixes it all and pours it into clay glasses and offers the drink to his guests.
That smoothie is how that person understands smoothies. That smoothie is what the Iranian regime explanation of the world is. It denotes a greatly confused mind, incapable of sorting out basic ingredients that belong respectively in a soup, coffee, salad or a smoothie or in none of these. A mind full to its brim with a grotesque smoothie mixture of factoids, superstitions, fractions of information, rumours, innuendos, some historically valid data, loathing, hatred, wishful thinking, but mostly, ignorance. In accordance with Hartley's Law - that ignorance expands to fill the space available.
An Iranian film maker knows the truth
First, the video.
"Zionism already existed three or four centuries ago – in the 16th century – although it wasn't called Zionism then.... They acted very slowly. They have a very well-known text called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which contains many issues, including all their goals and plans. There are 24 protocols. They claim that The Protocols does not belong to them, but there are many documents and many reliable people who have determined that it indeed belongs to the Zionists. The Protocols describes a gradual process that takes place worldwide, and explains how they will take over the world. The fundamental issue is not [expansion] from the Nile to Euphrates.... their main goal is world domination... the fundamental goal is to take over the world.
They began this plan three or four centuries ago – or perhaps earlier, but we have documents regarding the past three or four centuries – and it has progressed in a decisive manner.
...The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus was made possible due to the money of the Jewish aristocrats, who were searching for the Promised Land, which they initially thought would be in America. They even consider New York to be their No. 1 Promised Land. Interestingly, the number of New York Jews is equal to their number in Tel Aviv.
Interviewer: In fact, Scorsese addressed this in "Gangs of New York."
Said Mostaghasi: Exactly."
Of the Eight stages of Genocide, I would assess this programme to be stage #5:
Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center. Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance to human rights groups. Assets of extremists may be seized, and visas denied to them. Coups d’etat by extremists should be opposed by international sanctions.
BTW, Ahmadinejad suffers from exhaustion.
A word about Zionism and the antisemites, via Normblog:
Two things that are more or less well known amongst those who take an interest in these things are: (a) that it is common for there to be code words for racist and other types of prejudice, since the prejudiced don't always want to say what they think right out loud and yet do want to be understood by others who share their particular prejudice or hatred; and (b) that amongst a certain class of anti-Semite 'Zionists' is just such a code word for referring disparagingly to Jews. Therefore, critics of Israel who aren't anti-Semitic could refrain from using the word 'Zionist' in their arguments with others, and for labelling Jewish supporters of Israel. They could, especially, refrain from using the word in a way that seems to signal their scorn.
Here it might be said that many Jewish supporters of Israel are happy to call themselves Zionists, so demonstrating that the word is not necessarily tied to any anti-Semitic connotation or intent. No, it isn't. But context makes a difference. Those identifying themselves as Zionists obviously don't use the word pejoratively. Others do, some of them in an odious way.
Appearance and reality
When I wrote about Fareed Zakaria's tacit celebration of the waning of American leadership in the world, here, I should have considered the multiple economic crashes that have been reverberating around the world. Spengler, on Asia times, reflects upon the same:
Faddish conventional wisdom over the past few years held that American influence was fading as technology radiated to the far reaches of the world. When America's economy went into a ditch, though, the supposed economic superpowers of the future went flying, like children on skates holding onto the back of truck.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Counterpunchers against Obama
A conversation in the comments here illuminates some of the fears the conservative Right has of an Obama presidency. Fact is, no one knows what he will be like, and the speculations abound far and wide... However, for those who call Obama a radical leftist, there is no better antidote than to go check what known and established radicals are saying about him.
So here is one, from the notorious counterpuncher Alexander Cockburn:
Obama's liberal defenders comfort themselves with the thought that "he had to say that to get elected". He didn't. After eight years of Bush, Americans are receptive to reassessing America's imperial role. Obama has shunned this opportunity. If elected, he will be a prisoner of his promise that on his watch Afghanistan will not be lost, nor the white man's burden shirked.
...In the event of Obama's victory, the most immediate consequence overseas will most likely be brusque imperial reassertion. Already, Joe Biden, the shopworn poster boy for Israeli intransigence and Cold War hysteria, is yelping stridently about the new administration's "mettle" being tested in the first six months by the Russians and their surrogates. Obama is far more hawkish than McCain on Iran.
One wonders if this is a last minute push by the genuinely rabid Left to get Obama elected. No better reassurance to all Obama sceptics than a rant against Obama by an anti-war anti-Zionist schmuck...
Counterpunch, by the way, endorsed Ron Paul when he was still in the running, comparing him to a gift from Santa Claus:
You may not like the gift wrapping but the contents are what you wrote on your wish list: End the War, Bring the Troops Home Now, No War For Oil, or for Israel, Do Not Attack Iran, Restore The Constitution and The Rule of Law, No to The Patriot, Homeland Security, Military Commissions Acts and No to The Homegrown Terrorism Act, No To Torture, Rendition and Illegal Military Prisons and there's even some extras that most of us wouldn't mind seeing like putting an end to the Illegal Federal Reserve and doing away with the illegal personal income tax on wages.
That all of these goodies happen to be the essence of Congressman Ron Paul's, Republican Presidential candidate from Texas, campaign platform is surely a shock to any leftist's/progressive's system.
Ah be careful what you wish for, you just might get it...The only question is will you accept this gift?
Perhaps the wrapping paper isn't right, perhaps there are some extra things in the box that don't fit your political criteria but hey, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
Normblog opines, here.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The Milan Kundera case: Living with an infamous shaddow not your own
Continues from here:
In an article (available in English) published in the Slovakian internet magazine Salon, Czech writer Ivan Klima discusses the allegations (in English) against Milan Kundera: "Those who have been convinced by the authenticity of the police document have been asking questions. Are we responsible for our own actions? What is the responsibility of an artist and do his actions, even if they were committed in his youth, influence society or at least his readers? Can one separate one's moral stance from one's work? Will a writer's later work not be discredited by such actions? It is not possible to answer any of these questions without ambiguity."
Neue Zürcher Zeitung 20.10.2008
Journalist Sonja Margolina looks at the treatment of informants in Eastern Europe who, today, are in the media spotlight much more than official secret police agents. And she also recounts her own experience with the KGB in 1984, when they tried convince her to report on the activities of her friends and colleagues. "A second grim week passed before my official summons arrived, and a week after that I made my way into the reception room of the Lubyanka KGB headquarters. I have only vague memories of the content of the interrogation, but the feeling of existential abandonment which came over me in that bare room, is something I won't forget. What preyed on me most after the event, was that I could not stay calm during the questioning. For a half-way experienced blackmailer like my custodian, it was child's play to crack my 'secrets'. In those three hours, which lasted an eternity, I had to learn that the border to betrayal does not start with torture, but with much simpler things in life, such as the threat of annulling my right to live in Moscow."
Der Freitag 23.10.2008
Hungarian writer György Dalos is deeply suspicious about the interests of the "investigative journalists and historians" in the Milan Kundera case. He quotes Vaclav Havel's advice to Kundera (published in Respekt in Czech and in English at Salon.eu.sk) in which he wrote: "Milan: try to stay above things! As you know, worse things can happen in the course of one's life than being defamed by the media." But should the denunciation charges turn out to be true, Dalos believes it is "extremely important" not to lump together "all the intellectual perpetrator-victims who have been outed since 1990", but to "examine each case individually." Because, he says, "we are dealing with a generation that is dying out and which, after all the hard lessons under years of Communist rule, has tried to free itself from the curse of its own history. The saddest thing about many of these protagonists, is that they were constantly wanting to make amends for their human and moral failures, without being able to admit them. Obviously it was easier for them to behave honestly than to speak candidly."
Le Point 24.10.2008
In a way, Milan Kundera is the first French author to be involved in a secret-police debate. In Le Point, Bernard-Henri Levy joins a list of French authors who have commented on the case, in expressing his doubts about the authenticity of the incriminating document. And although in France not one person has spoken out against Kundera, Levy reprimands the media for the spectacle it has created, and issues a impassioned plea in Kundera's defence: "My thoughts are with Milan Kundera. I am thinking about this literary war which has been choreographed with the precision of a ballet, where the first blow leaves the enduring mark and a newspaper, which has the audacity to call itself Respekt, takes it upon itself to destroy you, and all you can do is sit out the beating, bend over double and live out the rest of your days with an infamous shadow which is not your own."
Milan Kundera should speak out says Anja Seeliger. "If Kundera has been falsely accused, then he has the right to defend himself. He had the chance to do so before the publication of the article in Respekt, because the magazine sent him a fax about its findings well in advance. But before he talks about 'the assassination of an author' and demands an apology from Respekt (more here in English), he and rest of the world should spare a thought for Iva Militka and Miroslav Dvoracek. They deserve the truth."
Vaclav Havel's advice to Kundera: "... try to stay above things! As you know, worse things can happen in the course of one's life than being defamed by the media."
Bernard-Henri Levy: "I am thinking about this literary war which has been choreographed with the precision of a ballet, where the first blow leaves the enduring mark and a newspaper, which has the audacity to call itself Respekt, takes it upon itself to destroy you, and all you can do is sit out the beating, bend over double and live out the rest of your days with an infamous shadow which is not your own."
More on Obama's Scary Friends
Closing the circle:
HH: Tell us about Khalidi. Tell us who he is and his role in Obama’s life.
SK: Rashid Khalidi is really... extremely radical in his views and his opposition to American foreign policy. He was a friend and colleague of Obama. Apparently they used to get together and discuss world affairs. And he’s practically the best friend of Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers features Khalidi in some of his books about how to politicize the teaching for students. So actually, the more you look into it, the more you see that this is not just people running into each other. And again, I object to the idea of just simply counting the times people were together in a room. When you fund Bill Ayers education projects, with hundreds of thousands of dollars, when you as Bill Ayers publish Rashid Khalidi’s essay in your book of collected essays, they might have gone on. That’s a lot without meeting once.
* * *
HH: So Stanley Kurtz, Rashid Khalidi, very close to Barack Obama, read during the break that Khalidi had a farewell dinner in 2003 that Obama was one of the presenters at, and in those remarks, alluded to the numerous dinners he’d had at the home of the Khalidi’s.
HH: It simply defies imagination to think that Khalidi was not a bridge between Ayers, that this is not an operating subgroup of Hyde Park, doesn’t it?
SK: Right. I mean, that’s what it seems like when you look, when you read these acknowledgements back and forth between Khalidi and Ayers of how close they are as friends, and you see that Khalidi had dinners at Obama, it really, to think…and then that Khalidi hosted something to kick off Obama’s Congressional campaign, you’ve got to think that Ayers and Khalidi are both talking about Obama, because they’re so close. And you’ve go to think that…it begins to look like a pretty tight network. You know, you can only show what’s actually in the papers, and what are in the documents as far as the number of meetings and everything else. But it sure looks a lot tighter than what we can absolutely see. It looks like a lot more. But it’s hard to show for sure, just like people, I think rightly assume that Barack Obama had to have known a lot more about what Jeremiah Wright was saying all those years than he’s letting on.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Found on MEMRI:
Egyptian Parliamentary Foreign Liaison Committee head Dr. Mustafa Al-Fiqqi:
"...it would be wrong to assume that the Jewish mind is not involved and implicated in these developments. I reiterate that the global economic crisis is part of the global political conspiracy..."
Lebanese columnist Fuad Matar wrote in the Lebanese daily Al-Liwa and Saudi daily Al-Yawm:
"[Moreover], one can suppose that the Zionists made a significant change in their plans, [and decided that] the time has come to transfer the Zionist strategic base from the U.S. to Europe, when the possibility arose that a black man, Barak Obama, would head the U.S...."
Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma, lecturer at King Faysal University in Saudi Arabia:
"Some say that the facts of the current American crisis are clear, and that there is nothing hiding behind the scenes, but I disagree. [I believe that] those hiding behind the scenes are numerous. [These are forces] that are accustomed to staying hidden and working in the dark... One of these [forces] is the Rothschild family, owner of a global financial empire... I will describe here [several] fiscal plans that this financial octopus [has put into effect and] has exploited their outcomes - [plans] which were based on the destruction of countries and peoples. "
Let me remind my gentle readers that these theories are just a sampling of the products issuing from the finest Arab minds published in Arab mainstream newspapers, which are mostly state-sponsored, anyway. According to this thinking, dominant in the Arab world, 400 million Arabs, ensconced in the warm hug of 1.5 billion Muslims, are spooked by a few million Jews who are out to annihilate them.
Someone who claims to be an American person of old stock, said on some obscure message board only recently: Muslims are today's Jews. It's not the first time I encountered this astonishing view, in itself a denial of antisemitism par excellence. There is a community of sentiment and logic between this position and the kinds of theories so beloved of the Arab masses. Both assume that it is the Muslims who are victims today, persecuted, defamed, reviled, and targeted.
What puzzles me yet is these obscenities clustered around presidential hopeful Obama:
"the time has come to transfer the Zionist strategic base from the U.S. to Europe, when the possibility arose that a black man, Barak Obama, would head the U.S. "
This easy assumption and trust on the part of the writer, that Obama, being a black man, strikes fear into the hearts of Zionists and Jews.
Where did they get this notion? And if Obama gets elected, how is he going to deal with these nations who think and speak in this fashion?
Heady Ideas in Afghanistan
Deborah Orr, in a recent editorial about Afghanistan, and why the Western armies should withdraw and leave the Afghans alone.
According to her, the main beneficiaries of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan are the women. The cost of giving them education, giving them basic tools to maintain themselves and their families and keeping them safe from male violence is too high:
"... the unpleasant reality is that it is absurd to squander time and energy on explaining to women that they have every right to educate themselves and to work outside the home, when neither the economy nor the security situation allows them to put such heady ideas into practice."
Of course it is all America's fault. But there is hope yet. Orr interprets "Barack Obama's open criticism" of Karzai's administration as "a sign that this particular U.S. delusion, at least, will soon be at an end."
See, educating girls and instilling confidence and self-reliance in women are "Heady ideas"!
The dictionary tells us that "heady" means: extremely exciting, intoxicating, as if by alcohol or a narcotic.
See what the bad Americans are doing to these poor women? Filling their heads with fancy ideas about self-sufficiency, making them drunk on the fantasy of lofty ideals, like being fed, clothed and secure from violence.
Deborah Orr is the author who wrote a nearly orgasmic article about Tariq Ramadan, the Muslim Swiss professor "a twinkly eyed academic on a thankless mission".
She says about him:
"There he sits, all slight, toned physical perfection, all fastidious grooming, all glowing with non-drinking, non-smoking, body-is-a-temple spiritual health. He's passionate about applying Islamic standards at a personal level. It all sounds improbably high-minded and exacting, so it's a surprise to discover that Ramadan is a good companion - playful, warm, quick to laugh, and occasionally flirting... "
She tries to "contextualize" his progressive idea that a 'moratorium' be imposed on the stoning of women.
Here is the exchange with Sarkozy that necessitated this contextualization:
Sarkozy: A moratorium.... Mr. Ramadan, are you serious?
Ramadan: Wait, let me finish.
Sarkozy: A moratorium, that is to say, we should, for a while, hold back from stoning women?
Ramadan: No, no, wait.... What does a moratorium mean? A moratorium would mean that we absolutely end the application of all of those penalties, in order to have a true debate. And my position is that if we arrive at a consensus among Muslims, it will necessarily end. But you cannot, you know, when you are in a community.... Today on television, I can please the French people who are watching by saying, "Me, my own position." But my own position doesn't count. What matters is to bring about an evolution in Muslim mentalities, Mr. Sarkozy. It's necessary that you understand....
Sarkozy: But, Mr. Ramadan....
Ramadan: Let me finish.
Sarkozy: Just one point. I understand you, but Muslims are human beings who live in 2003 in France, since we are speaking about the French community, and you have just said something particularly incredible, which is that the stoning of women, yes, the stoning is a bit shocking, but we should simply declare a moratorium, and then we are going to think about it in order to decide if it is good.... But that's monstrous--to stone a woman because she is an adulterer! It's necessary to condemn it!
Ramadan: Mr. Sarkozy, listen well to what I am saying. What I say, my own position, is that the law is not applicable--that's clear. But today, I speak to Muslims around the world and I take part, even in the United States, in the Muslim world.... You should have a pedagogical posture that makes people discuss things. You can decide all by yourself to be a progressive in the communities. That's too easy. Today my position is, that is to say, "We should stop."
Sarkozy: Mr. Ramadan, if it is regressive not to want to stone women, I avow that I am a regressive.
Orr completely buys Ramadan's line that banning the stoning of adulterers is too much progress for Muslims worldwide to digest. Muslims cannot handle such radical changes all at once. They need to be led to that banning slowly and judiciously:
"If you say to the Islamic majority now, 'You have to stop this, it has to be condemned,' they are not going to listen to you," he says. "They are just going to say that this is the West, again, imposing its values."
This kind of ethical conception is of a piece with her view of the cultivation of Afghan women agency as too expensive, dangerous and interfering. What both examples show is that for her, whatever happens to Muslim women within their own communities is the business of Muslim men, and none other. Muslim men will decide how they will live, whether they will eat, whether they can get medical treatment or learn to read and write, how they will dress. Any interference from the outside world, with its "heady ideas" will be seen as the west, imposing its values.
Additional reading about Afghanistan here, here, and here,
and particulary, here.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Obama declared that he is willing and will seek to talk to Iranians without preconditions. He has been repeatedly warned that this tactic will only increase Iranian intransigence and up the ante. He has since somewhat modified his proposed no-conditions policies and is now talking about "preparation" preceding any talks.
Well, the Iranians are nor buying any of it. they have their own preconditions:
Mehdi Kalhor, Vice President for Media Affairs, said the U.S. must do two things before summit talks can take place. First, American military forces must leave the Middle East -- presumably including such countries as Iraq, Qatar, Turkey and anywhere else American soldiers are deployed in the region. Second, the U.S. must cease its support of Israel. Until Washington does both, talks are "off the agenda," the Islamic Republic News Agency reports. It quotes Mr. Kalhor as saying, "If they [the U.S.] take our advice, grounds for such talks would be well prepared.
But of course. All this media attention to Ahmadinejad and Obama's repeated insistence that he will negotiate with the Iranians does not yield the kind of results reasonable people expect, of good faith and reciprocity. What it yield is an Iranian regime cashing in on the illusion that the great Satan is crawling to it, in desperation, and there is no better time to try and wrest some real assets from such a rare occurrence.
Good luck to Obama, when he goes a-courting...
But then Obama and key advisers are desperately seeking engagement with the black turbaned Mullahs, instead of those 20 something Iranians who desperately want to get rid of them. Looks like a tough response to a weak one from an inexperienced former Illinois state Senator and junior US Senator with his near rock star groupies who would sell out America to its enemies for 'hope' and 'change'. This is isolationist capitulation and not simply appeasement. A frightening prospect.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The struggle against forgetting
Sign and Sight continues to monitor the Kundera affair:
The Economist comments rather drily on the discovery of Milan Kundera's signature at the bottom of a letter denouncing a Czech spy. "As Mr Kundera himself has written so eloquently, 'the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.' Under totalitarianism, fairy tales good and bad often trumped truth. Some heroes of the Prague Spring in 1968 had been enthusiastic backers of the Stalinist regime's murderous purges after the communist putsch of 1948. Mr Hradilek [the man who found the incriminating file -ed.] surmises that Mr Kundera probably acted out of self-interest, not malice or conviction. Millions faced such choices in those times. Some have owned up; many have not. Countless episodes like that linger over eastern Europe like an invisible toxic cloud."The Economist has been sending out warning signals about the credit crunch since December 2004 - on its font cover. Gawker has compiled these images of doom.
It appears as though the Economist accepts that Milan Kundera did indeed rat on another student to the authorities.
A Kundera quote to remember:
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
Obama's Scarier friends:
These friends are scary for two reasons:
Reason # 1: They were Obama's earliest friends, when his political ethos was being shaped. Opinions and positions that are consolidated at a younger age are more difficult to dislodge or change. If his allegiances matured into coherent awareness with these people influencing his thinking, then it is legitimate to wonder how far he has really travelled in casting them aside, how genuine and deep are his new understandings.
Reason # 2: That they are scary has less to do with Obama and more to do with his supporters.
So far I've encountered two types of arguments which Obama's supporters advance in defending him against the charge of his past scary friends. One argument claims that a man's associations and friendships have nothing to do with his own character, beliefs or conduct. Therefore it is unfair to judge Obama by looking at his friends.
The second argument re-enforces the kind of anxiety which I noted above, in reason #1: it is an attempt to cleanse these friends of their radicalism and antisemitism by claiming that they are authentic, basically right-on-target in what they say. They have good reasons to hold the positions they do.
In trying to explain Obama's more recent disavowal of these friends and their stated positions (whether antisemitic, anti-American or anti-Israel), these supporters state unabashedly that it is a temporary political ruse with the aim of getting to the White House. And this ruse, they say, is completely legitimate. Obama is allowed to lie in order to become president. It is what all politicians do. It is this kind of thinking that explains Jesse Jackson's more recent comments or Louis Farrakhan's continued adoration of Obama the messiah.
So this second argument, in fact, agrees with Obama's critics but differs in that it regards lying as a sanctioned tactic. These people see nothing wrong is lying to potential voters or in their tacit assertion that therefore Obama is a liar, and a good thing, too.
For those Obama supporters who have no problem with a presidential candidate lying, I have only this to say:
Dante, in his descent into the Inferno, reserves his worst, hottest circles for the fraudulent, those who act against their fellow-human beings out of malice and by doing so, work at loosening the very bonds of trust that attach one human being to another, trust being the glue that keeps societies, communities, families and friends, coherent, functioning and benevolent. So in Dante’s Hell, those who gnaw at these bonds, like panderers, flatterers, hypocrites and falsifiers, are considered worthy of the choicest punishments.
So I fully expect these Obama rhinoceroses, who mitigate for antisemites and terrorists and so easily attribute to Obama their own deviant propensities of lying and falsifying, to find themselves in due time in one of those locations mapped out in the Inferno.
Later update: By some coincidence, Breath of the Beast posted a short account touching upon the same issue of Obama's scary supporters:
"Then a fellow reporter across the table said: "I think a president with roots in the Koran would be a good thing. I'm sick and tired of Christians … well maybe I should stop there."
I said: "Yes you should stop there. I'm not a Christian but I am sick and tired of liberals' kneejerk demonization of them."
Then the conversation mercifully shifted.
There it was: the breath of the beast.
First, let me be clear. Though I believe Obama poses an economic, cultural and national security threat to the U.S., I do not think the threats he poses have "roots in the Koran." Though, Louis Ferrakhan's praise of him is deeply troubling.
Still, I could not believe what I had just heard. "A president with roots in the Koran would be a good thing?"
The ignorance of that statement took my breath away. Did my colleague have any idea what Islam has in store for him?"
Obama's Reassuring Friends
Monday, October 20, 2008
2 Slices of White Bread
Lay a piece of bread on your chopping board, and chop 3 thick slices of cheddar cheese and place on bread.
Spread a layer of Branston Pickle on to the cheese.
A Deviant Left
- deviating from what is considered acceptable behaviour, striking away from what is right, proper, or good; corrupt, aberrent and perverted
-a person whose behaviour deviates from what is considered to be acceptable
Pilar Rahola (Barcelona, October 21, 1958) is a Spanish Catalan journalist writer and former politician and MP.
She comes from a republican and anti-fascist family. Rahola is doctor in Spanish and Catalan Philology in Universitat de Barcelona. She has published several books in Spanish and Catalan and she is a columnist in La Vanguardia, in Spain; La Nación in Argentina; and Diario de América in the United States. She also works usually in television and has taken part in several lectures in universities.
In a recent interview with Ha'aretz, Pilar Rahola said:
"I don't see myself as a defender of Israel," she points out, "but as a defender of the truth...
In the conflict in the Middle East ... most European intellectuals stop thinking and only repeat empty cliches. This anti-Israel bias of both the left and the media is a disguise for anti-Semitism ...
... our deviant way of dealing with [guilt about the Spanish inquisition and the Holocaust] is to attack Israel, of all countries. Because the worse Israel is, the less guilty we are. The attacks against Israel are our way of clearing our conscience, and that's something I definitely can't accept. ...
Meanwhile, unfortunately, anyone who is not anti-Israel immediately becomes suspect."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Quotes randomly collected on the Internet:
Normblog: "... but it seems that a reminder might already be necessary for the bleached moral consciousness of sunny liberalism."
Islam In Europe: "Secret coded messages are being embedded into child pornographic images, and paedophile websites are being exploited as a secure way of passing information between terrorists. "
Simply Jews: "Well, Dubai has the biggest mall in the world, the highest tower, the largest indoor snow park. Nothing to do about this story, then."
The corner: "Herbert Honsowitz, his embarrassing endorsement of death to Israel rallies, and his desire to expand trade with the Islamic Republic becomes a shining example of why multilateralism does not work and why diplomacy will not be enough to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions."
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Unbearable Lightness of a Good Name
Sign and Sight published the horrific news that
"In March 1950, as a student in Prague, the writer Milan Kundera informed on an anti-Communist resistance activist. The victim, 22-year-old Miroslav Dvoracek was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 22-years in prison. The State prosecutor at the time demanded the death sentence for espionage." The young Czech historian, Adam Hradilek of Ustr, who found the letter of denunciation with Kundera's signature in an archive, describes the affair in a detailed report in the magazine Respekt. The Slovakian internet magazine Salon then published an English translation of the report. The article reads like a sinister novel about love, betrayal, freedom, Communism, heroism and failure. The commentary, by Respekt editor-in-chief, Martin Simecka, is also available in English here. Read the full story in English at the New York Times. "
This is reason for much consternation on the part of those who love Milan Kundera, as I do, for his extraordinary literary talent, as well as his ethical perspicuity. Fortunately, distraught as I was, I continued to read the following paragraph, in which we are told that the matter is far from solid:
In the Milan Kundera affair Hans-Jörg Schmidt reports on a witness, literary historian Zdenek Pesat, whose testimony could exonerate the great Czech writer. According to Pesat, it was not Kundera who betrayed the western agent, but Miroslav Dlask, the man originally suspected of the denunciation. "Dlask, Pesat says, personally confided in him about betraying Miroslav Dvoracek to the police. ... Pesat's testimony is music to the ears of people in Prague who, since the affair came to light, have been fighting to save Kundera's name, preparing a case against the Ustr bureau of investigation, for using dirty methods. Ustr, however, is sticking to its story."
Hopefully, Sign and Sight will continue to apprise us of the development of this story.
Comment Trail for Saturday
The New Republic's Marty Peretz' Spine: Has David Brooks Endorsed Obama?
God (and Man) on Park Avenue
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami is a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts. He is closely affiliated with the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Important Disambiguation: His name resembles that of Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president of Iran, but the two are not related. They have opposite points of view on many issues, such as democracy in Iran.
Here is what he told Iranians in a Friday sermon:
"Following the U.S. financial crisis, Europe and the U.S. allies too have been hit by an 'economic tsunami' and are shaken. Perhaps they had never experienced such a shock. Certain people used to name Americans' liberal democracy as their utopia at the end of the history of mankind, claiming that the U.S. is master of the said utopia; however, we are today witnessing defects in the utopia and its crushing failure."
"The Bush administration's aggressive policies in Iraq and Afghanistan are the main cause of America's financial angst and distress."
What? Not blaming of the Zionists and Joos for the trouble? Is the Ayatollah leering suggestively at the Presidential hopeful whose middle name is Hussein?
Keeping Up Appearances
In his latest book, whose thesis is explained in shorter form in this article Fareed Zakaria, much to my astonishment, listed a number of examples which in his opinion are symptomatic of America' declining power in the world.
"Look around. The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. Its biggest refinery is being constructed in India. Its largest passenger airplane is built in Europe. The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood... The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year. America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn't make the top ten...."
I cannot begin to figure out how the juvenile phallus envy of "mine is bigger than yours" can be cited, and trotted out as proof of a decline of any kind. It does, however, resemble the thinking in certain countries, let's say, in the Middle East.
Which brings me to my point in this post. Simply Jews followed up today on a case in Dubai, one of those laudable places applauded by Zakaria:
Remember that story about a pair indulging in some rather heavy petting on a beach and Dubai and being arrested for their trouble?
Now it came to the next phase - punishment:
A court in Dubai has sentenced two Britons to three months in prison for having sex on a public beach in the Muslim country. After they complete their sentence, the pair will be deported. They also have to pay a 1,000 dirhams ($367) fine for public indecency.
Lazer-tongued Snoopy, beloved of Athena, goddess of sarcasm and irony, concludes with the following deadpan statement:Well, Dubai has the biggest mall in the world, the highest tower, the largest indoor snow park. Nothing to do about this story, then.
It appears that Dubayesque justice system takes a very harsh view of sexual indecncy and extends to transgressors the severest judgment permitted by law, right? Well, not so fast, nor summarily, nor indignantly, depending on who does what and why.
Read the linked to story. (H/T: Solomonia)
Alexandre will receive word only in January whether he was infected during the alleged attack. "There is a lot of malfunctioning, but from where I do not know," says a French diplomat in Dubai, explaining the bungling over the AIDS tests. In late October, the French foreign ministry added a warning for travelers about crime in Dubai.
In Stanislaw Lem's novel "Solaris", we are taken to a space ship in which strange things happen. An alien intelligence can invade people's dreams and thoughts, and recreate the physicality, the outside shape, of objects encountered in these dreams. However, what becomes very quickly apparent is the fact that these objects only look like their original ideas, but do not function in the way the original objects did.
A woman appears who looks exactly like the protagonist's dead wife. She wears a dress the woman used to wear. But the buttons on that dress cannot be undone, and the zipper cannot be opened. In order to remove the dress, it has to be cut with scissors. The wife lookalike herself is just a shell, filled with the husband's memories of his dead wife. So she can only be that person in an extremely limited way, she can only think the thoughts that haunt her husband's memories of her.
Since the intelligence can invade any part of the human dream, but cannot distinguish between what is real and good and what is a nightmare and bad, it also creates monsters. The intelligence lacks the capacity to communicate in any meaningful way with the humans whose ideas and dreams it draws upon.
So much, then, for biggest malls, tallest buildings, etc...
Friday, October 17, 2008
*** *** *** ***
I think those of us looking from the outside are still extremely sceptical* about Obama but are now more inclined than earlier on to believe that his articulated positions about Israel, Iran, or Afghanistan are more than just electioneering slogans. Even hawkish Bibi Netanyahu reportedly was impressed by his knowledge of the Middle East and his affirmations about Iran:
Suffering from "Neutrality Obsession"
Somewhere in Tehran, Selma has come back to tell us that her blog came up 8th, in a recent survey based on 8000 readers voting to pick the best 100 blogs from among 1040 Iranian women bloggers.
I'm not surprised. Selma is a poet and translator and her blog entries, while often rare in appearance, are always imbued with her very luminescent talent.
"One thing to remember here is that not all blogs written by Iranian women were included in this survey. The women bloggers are thousands, literally. But many of them have to conceal their identities because of the content of their weblogs. At the gathering we were representing a very small part of the population of women bloggers in Iran. We were more or less among those who keep their content “safe” and out of most of the political and legal issues.
In that sense I think I’m suffering from neutrality obsession. Every post I write, I have to keep checking and double checking it to make sure I’m not getting myself into any kind of trouble. Specially since I use my real name and identity.
I’m hoping someday, every woman in Iran would feel safe and free to stand up for her weblog … no matter what she writes about, or how openly she protests or expresses herself, politically, socially, personally or sexually …"
The blogpost includes a small photo gallery of the blogger's event. Please take a look.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
“The devotees of the party in power
This photo, taken from a video of the last presidential debate, is doing the rounds on the blogosphere, and the many sycophants dissolve in mirth. It is one of those moments when I wonder to myself, yet again, about the gap between Senator Obama's seeming integrity, and his supporters' scurrilous mobbing instinct. If they love him so much, why do they behave like a horde of vultures swooping on a piece of meat?
The malign motivation encapsulated in that photo reminded of something Jane Austen's famous heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice, said, when she realized the extent of her own prejudice against Mr. Darcy:
"And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit, to have a dislike of that kind. One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty."
McCain is a decent, wise gentleman who devoted his life to public service. This kind of witless sneer is simply unwarranted.
Still three weeks to go before the US election day, I shudder to think what else will be trotted out there for the merriment of Obama's voters.
What does it say about Obama's worth when his most eager supporters advocate for him by poking cruel fun at his adversary?
This article by Oliver Kamm, for whom I have huge respect, is somewhat relevant:
I admire McCain, and his instincts on foreign policy - including the Iraq War - seem to me sound. Had there been a McCain-Lieberman ticket, it would have been neither conservative nor even Republican, and I would have supported it. Like Christopher, I am no admirer of Barack Obama, whose grasp of foreign policy is worryingly confused (in particular, his willingness to meet leaders of rogue states without preconditions shows a man unversed in the exercise of diplomatic leverage).
Possibly I'm exercising wishful thinking here, but both parts of the judgement are founded on advice from sources I trust: I take literally Obama's stated willingness to pursue al-Qaeda into Pakistan and to confront Iran's nuclear ambitions, while not believing his stated plans for premature redeployment of troops from Iraq. And, like almost all of my readers (you are always the wild card when I make generalisations like that, Mr Irving), I am impressed and moved at the prospect that the world's leading democracy might be led by a black man, when the stain of segregation was erased less than half a century ago.
Still, the billionaire investment guru, who made big news in May when his Berkshire Hathaway corporation bought an 80 percent share in the Israeli metalworks conglomerate, Iscar, for $4 billion, for years has been making his mark on the U.S. Jewish community back home -- although sometimes in a roundabout way.
"Proportionally, if you look at the number of Jews in this country and in the world, I'm associated with a hugely disproportionate number," said Buffett, the second-richest man in the world. His life, he added, "has been blessed by friendship with many Jews."
The Israeli government stands to reap about $1 billion in taxes on Buffett's purchase of Iscar. Shortly after announcing the deal, Buffett said he was surprised to learn that a Berkshire subsidiary, CTB International, was purchasing a controlling interest in another Israeli company,
"You won't find in the world a better-run operation than Iscar," Buffett says. "I don't think it's an accident that it's run by Israelis."
"At the time, the Omaha Club did not take Jewish members, and the Highland Country Club, a golf club, didn't have any [non-Jewish] members," Lipsey recalled. "Warren volunteered to join the Highland" -- rather than the Omaha -- "to set an example of nondiscrimination."
Buffett happily recalls the fallout from his application.
"It created this big rhubarb," he said. "All of the rabbis appeared on my behalf, the [Anti-Defamation League] guy appeared on my behalf. Finally they voted to let me in."
But that wasn't the end of the story, Buffett said. The Highland had a rule requiring members to donate a certain amount of money to their synagogues. Buffett, of course, wasn't a synagogue member, so the club changed its policy: Members now would be expected to give to their synagogues, temples or churches.
But that still didn't quite work, Buffett recalls with a laugh, because of his agnosticism.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Contentious Centrist Comment Policy
When you leave a comment please make sure you do it in the correct post. Otherwise, the blogmaster (that's me) may or may not respond, as befits her humour.
Some poster left a comment which made no sense where it was. I responded with a question mark. Said poster, who could not find her comment and is not intelligent enough to consider the possibility that she may have made a mistake, is boasting now that I deleted her comment, so prodigiously trenchant it was, or whatever.
I have a certain policy about comments. They are left where they are as they are, even when they are bellicose or vituperative, as a monument to the stupidity and bigotry of their authors. The only time I delete a comment is when it contains, or may lead to finding out, private information.
In the UN: Exaggerating Islamophobia, Underplaying Antisemitism
Austin Dacey is q philosopher who works as a United Nations representative for the Center for Inquiry, a think tank concerned with the secular, scientific outlook. He blogs at " The Secular Conscience ". Referring to the last report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mr Doudou Diene, a statement on behalf of the Center for Inquiry and the IHEU noted the following:
There is now some evidence that the incidence of hostility to Muslims is being exaggerated. We cite for example, the United States government’s latest data on hate crimes which show that [There were 147 reported cases of hate crimes against Muslims in 2006, and 362 reported cases against Jews. Yet the population of Muslims in United States (estimated at 9.5 million) exceeds that of Jews by a ratio of three to two , so] Jews are on average more than three times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate crimes even in the United States, which in 2001 was the victim of the world’s worst ever terrorist attack, carried out by Muslims.
Finally, Mr President, we wish to comment on two glaring omissions... Mr Doudou Diene... makes no mention of attacks on Christians, Bahais , Ahmadis and others that have become commonplace in several Arab states, and in Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh . And whilst he mentions growing Antisemitism in Latin America and its historical roots in Europe, he makes no mention of it in the Muslim world, where according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center : “anti-Jewish sentiment is endemic”. These omissions again call into question the impartiality of that Special Rapporteur..
May we respectfully suggest that, rather than focussing exclusively on “Islamophobia”, States address the deep-rooted Antisemitism and general hatred of “the other” within their own societies?
It's called "revirgination" and it is promoted as follows:
"The virginity of a woman is valued for religious, social, and even economic reasons. Hymen gets disrupted after the first intercourse or even after strenuous physical activity or tampon use. Anyway, you wouldn't want your boyfriend / future husband feel ashamed because your hymen no longer existed.
If you look around the site you'll find some other procedures offered, such as "the surgical removal of the clitoral hood of the woman." The reason a woman would want this done to her is two-fold: "serve for the enhancement of sexual response in the woman" and "for her sanitary reasons. "
Some countries offer the service as part of basic medical insurance. In other words, from taxes collected from citizens to cover the medical needs of all. I wonder about it. Why is it the business of the state to fund some people's superstitions?
From Islam in Europe:
The enthusiastic senator presented a law proposal saying that hymen reconstruction operations will no longer be reimbursed by the RIVIZ national health insurance.
Muslim men in particular want their future wives to be virgin during the wedding night. In some cultures the bloodied sheet is displayed after the first night and girls who had sex previously cannot do so.
Therefore, more and more women are having their hymen reconstructed.
According to Lizin, some immigrant women are even urged to get a virginity certificate.
Hymen reconstruction is currently being reimbursed in Belgium by the RIZIV as "vagina and vulva plastic surgery". This is really meant for repairing damage as a result of births, burns and abscesses. Is there are medical reasons, then there would be reimbursement for the procedure.
In the Netherlands hymen reconstruction is fully reimbursed as part of the basic insurance.
It is also a procedure known to be in demand in Canada and US:
"In The Age Of Innocence, Edith Wharton's novel about old New York society's traditions and expectations, Newland Archer is engaged to marry one of society's favourite daughters....
Archer questions why his soon-to-be wife must be seen as coming to the marriage as a blank page, and why women cannot be allowed the same freedom of experience as men.
For a novel written in the 1920s, Archer's views are progressive compared to the views some men and women express today.
``Once a Syrian girl enters puberty she is a real potential menace to men who are perceived as weak and incapable of resisting `finta' (seductiveness),'' Zahra Rim, a teacher in Damascus, writes in WIN, an online newsletter geared to women's issues. ``Childhood relationships with neighbourhood boys and male friends are usually terminated. Riding bicycles, playing outside, dancing, and even going to co-ed pools are prohibited for they are considered forms of sexual expression.''
It's all about the privileging of false appearances, honour and shame over reality, experience, common sense, and wisdom. There is shame in a girl's being sexually active but no shame in resorting to subterfuge in order to deceive a prospective groom. What matters is not what the girl has done, but how she is perceived to be... an illusion of virginity.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Marty Peretz, a genuine, thoughtful Obama supporter, posted a sobering comment on is blog, which included this video:
The campaign goes on, however. And so, before we get too righteous about their nutcases, let us look at some of our own. Here, off youtube, are Obama supporters behaving like, well, yes, nutcases. What's more, the setting is the upper west side of New York City, a weekend street fair on Columbus Avenue, north of Lincoln Square up to 96th Street. This is Obama territory. Lots of PhDs, shrinks and customers of shrinks, readers of the New York Review, mostly Jews, liberals for sure, with fantasies of persecution by the Feds. A group of McCain supporters walks into their midsts. They go bananas, ugly bananas. Actually, uglier than the man who carried an effigy of Barack Obama as Curious George. You get it? Yes, a monkey. Ha, ha.
By coincidence, Terry Glavin, a Canadian observer of the southern elections, also posted a video today, also about nutcases, with the stunned comment:
Sweet Holy Weeping Blessed Virgin Mother of Baby Damn Jesus but will these batshit crazy bastards ever just calm the hell down?
I really like Glavin who is a Eustonite and a thoughtful Drink-Soaked Trot, and I usually find his opinions interesting and engaging even when I remain sceptical (usually around the subject of Slavoj Zizek..). His work on behalf of Afghan-Canadian friendship is a model which goes beyond mere verbal activity into real and clearly-defined actions. But this comment I found to be lopesided and somewhat unfair.