Well, I'd certainly agree with that (though, yes, I realize they were probably looking for information on the time Chirac warned Eastern European countries to side with France against America on Iraq with that phrase).
The Associated Press reports that "the number of American tourists visiting France has dropped dramatically this year, by as much as 80 percent in the first half of 2003." The reason? France's Tourism Ministry attributes the decline "mainly to the weak dollar." Yeah, that must be it. # Posted 11:18 AM
In that past few days, in the name of harmony or acceptance or whatever other bullshit word is being used these days to describe racism, segregation, and making sure people of different backgrounds never interact, there have been these two wonderful news stories:
Both of these situations are just nauseating to me. They create divisions according to race or sexuality where none should exist. Imagine the headline 'Black Teacher Should Not Teach White History' or 'NY to Open First All-Straight High School.' Liberals would be frantic. I dare liberals to defend these two moves. I dare them to defend the racist parents or a school that will cause children to make a choice as to whom they prefer to have sex with, at age 14.
I'm a very liberal person, in the classical sense, and am frequently asked why I consider myself, politically, a social conservative (or, more accurately, a libertarian). These cases are major reasons. I think liberals are playing with danger when they cut up our society into neat little pieces like this. Life has a lot of gray area. You can't make decisions based on someone's race. Would a half-black teacher be allowed to teach the class? What about a teacher with one black grandparent? Should sexually confused kids go to the gay high school? Should fat kids have their own school too (as the major reason cited for this school is the abuse that gay kids get in 'regular' schools)? Should redheads? What about kids with gay parents? What if only one parent is gay? Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Again, I would love to heard from people that can defend these moves. I would love to hear what such a defense would sound like. # Posted 10:37 AM
A few days/weeks/posts ago, I said that I had missed out on all the hype that surrounded the HBO show 'Six Feet Under' when it first came out, and that I wished that I hadn't. I felt that all the articles about the show had been written before I started watching it and that I had no resources to delve into my favorite show to learn more about it or compare ideas with other fans. I got this idea from my friend, and sometimes guest blogger, Dawn Summers, who is obsessed with the now defunct show 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (her moniker is a character on the show) and reads many articles and feature pieces about the show. I thought I'd like to do the same with what is quickly becoming my favorite show of all time.
I take it all back. Writing about tv shows is dumb because in order to say something more than 'this show is great' or 'this show isn't great', you have to make up nonsense to fill the page.
This article about the show in National Review, well, sucks. I think Radley Balko is a good writer and I usually read his articles with interest. However, this piece discusses whether the creator of the show, Alan Ball, is pro-life based on a couple of episodes, one of which showed an aborted baby in heaven.
Before you think 'Rightwing loons make everything political', it isn't just the Right. Balko quotes Boston Globe television critic Matthew Gilbert as writing 'By presenting Claire's ''choice'' as a baby, was Ball trying to make a big statement about fetuses and the morality of abortion?' He also quotes critic James Oliphant as writing 'All Aborted Babies Go to Heaven? Is that really what the show wants to say? It makes you wonder to which side of the abortion debate, if any, the show means to tilt.'
No, it doesn't make me wonder, I didn't think once about it until I read this article. What a stupid thing to notice in a show that is just classic, with unbelievable writers and phenomenal actors. The thing I remember most from the part of the episode that is up for discussion, is Claire running in the cemetary looking for her father's grave. She runs into her father's ghost and says 'where the fuck is your grave?' He tells her that she is way off. That's genius. That's different. It's got nothing to do with whether or not the writers of the show think abortion is murder or a choice. # Posted 10:28 AM
Yesterday I had a few friends over to my apartment for dinner. We drank wine and ate good food on my balcony on a perfect summer night. The talk turned to politics and how one of my friends really dislikes George W. Bush. When pressed as to why she disliked him, my friend said that it was because he was too hard on Israel, that he was trying to broker peace where there was none and never could be. I told her she was politically to the right of the president. She laughed and agreed that she probably was but that was her big issue with him. I think it's amazing how outside the U.S our president is considered so hawkish and a pushover for 'the Jews', when in America he is considered by many to be too weak with the Palestinians and too eager to accept a false peace. Anyway, here is a great excerpt from Jay Nordlinger on Israel:
A word — a too-breezy word — on the Middle East. The president, and a lot of other people, object to the fence that Israel proposes to construct along the West Bank. They don't care about the fence along Gaza — because that's already there (and effective). They care only about this new one.
They care because a fence is icky, psychologically. Its symbolism is terrible. "Can't we all just get along?" (The answer is no.) These critics love to compare this fence to the Berlin Wall. "Tear down this wall!" Ha, ha, ha. Never mind that the Communists threw up their wall to keep their subjects in, and that the Israelis want to construct a fence to keep killers of their citizens out. Elementary logic does not apply when we're emoting and posing.
President Bush said, "It's very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and Israel with a wall snaking through the West Bank." Yeah, well, it's very difficult to develop confidence when, day after day, terrorists come in to murder you. Look, the aim isn't to join hands like hippies in a Coke commercial, singing about love. The aim is to achieve a kind of peace, or a lack of war and murder. We must keep things modest here (speaking of realism) — such a peace, cold and hard, not warm and fuzzy, would be achievement enough.
The fence is one of the most innocuous defenses the Israelis could devise. In fact, it's sort of a test of intolerance of Israel: You don't like it when the Israelis undertake retaliatory raids; you don't like it when they carry out "targeted killings"; you don't like it when they bulldoze the homes of terrorists; you don't like the myriad other methods the Israelis employ. Well, how about a fence? You object to that, too? Okay: Is there anything the Israelis might do, to protect their citizens, that would be kosher by you? No? I guess the Israelis just have to fold their tents and go home.
But where's home?
Moving on: When you see those photos of Abbas — Mahmoud, not Abu — smiling with President Bush, you just know they burn Yasser Arafat and his supporters. Arafat was the most frequent foreign visitor to the White House during the eight years of Clinton. Now he's holed up in Ramallah, with his fellow terrorists, one of whom was caught plotting the murder of Israeli citizens — using female homicide bombers — just the other day. It is the firmness of Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush that has made the emergence of Abbas possible — they have been the anti-appeasers. Of course, a great many people would rather swallow cyanide than admit this. If these detractors had had their way, Arafat would still be the Palestinian Number One, and chances of progress would be nil (instead of just slightly better than nil, which is what they are now).
I was particularly struck by something Abbas said about Israel's release of prisoners, etc.: "Some steps have been taken by Israel so far, but these steps remain hesitant." Hesitant! Hell, man, that's the least they are! One only hopes that they are not suicidal. Hesitant — for sure. You expected, what? Buoyant enthusiasm, given the course of history?
I’m all for every possible investigation into 9/11, and believe that both the FBI and CIA obviously could have done better jobs. But the focus on them, driven by last week’s 9/11 report, seems misplaced. Neither Louis Freeh nor George Tenet was president of the United States. We knew Afghanistan was a terrorist sanctuary. We knew bin Laden was a threat. According to George Tenet’s testimony, "as early as 1993, [CIA] units watching him began to propose action to reduce his organization's capabilities." We knew that he might target American civil aviation. The CIA warned as early as 1998 that al Qaeda had already conducted successful tests to elude security at a major US airport and that it had developed plans to hijack a plane on the east coast of the United States. All of this represents most of the important big-picture intelligence that we needed. What did we do about it? Almost nothing. That's a failure of policy, not intelligence.
I agree with him. I too favor a full investigation into what went wrong on 9/11. But, in that investigation, I want to see a full accounting of all the opportunities missed by the Clinton administration to deal with the people that seek to harm us. # Posted 12:50 PM
In "Downsize This!," Mr. Moore attempted to elaborate on the theme of the downsized economy where "Roger and Me" left off, but the book's description of a rust-belt dystopia of pink slips and unemployment checks was out of date long before it hit the bookstores. By 1996, the number of jobs and heft of paychecks in the Midwest had improved markedly. In 1998, the Department of Commerce was writing that "more flexible, market-oriented companies have generated hundreds of thousands of jobs" in Michigan. A 2001 Michigan Economic Development Corp. report noted that with the exception of still-depressed Flint, the state's metropolitan areas saw an increase in personal income between 1989 and 1998, with income rising more than 20% in places like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.
Stuck in the Walter Reuther past, Mr. Moore can make no sense of this. A while back, he was appalled when The Nation asked him to be part of a lecture cruise, "to hold seminars during the day and then dock at Saint Kitts at night!" he hissed derisively, as if it were still the era when plutocrats in tuxedos and women in gowns and diamonds dined on caviar and champagne with the ship's captain, while workingmen scrimped for a week's vacation at a dank lake bungalow. He seems not to know that plumbers from Milwaukee and secretaries from Akron fill Caribbean cruise ships these days (though probably not those sponsored by The Nation), and that factory workers often sport two cars--and a boat on a trailer--in their driveways. Our economic system has "got to go," he told Industry Central, before admitting, "Now don't ask me what to replace it with because I don't know." How convenient. He can dwell in his mythical land of Flint and never face the manifest truth that the system that downsized and restructured with such turmoil ultimately improved living standards for millions, while at the same time absorbing huge numbers of poor immigrants.
Mr. Moore appears to give a good deal of money to unions and charities. But on the road he often stays at the Ritz or Four Seasons, like other movie millionaires. (And he is always on the road: though he loves to describe himself as a slacker, he endured a 47-city book tour for "Downsize This," a tour he made the subject of his disastrously narcissistic movie, "The Big One," and he hit scores of cities for "Stupid White Men.") Former employees have accused him of trying to stop them from joining the Writers Guild and, according to interviews conducted by The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash, of creating working conditions that resemble a "sweatshop" and "indentured servitude."
In fact, there are plenty of indications that Michael Moore is not a compassionate, big-hearted man dedicated to social justice; he just plays one on TV. When asked by a reporter from the Arcata (Calif.) Eye in 2002 why he wasn't speaking at independent bookstores rather than at corporate chains, he exploded in a tirade that revealed his willingness to have his principles--in this case, his distrust of corporate power--take a backseat to his personal vengefulness. "You know in my town the small businesses that everyone wanted to protect? They were the people that supported all the right-wing groups," he ranted. "They were the Republicans in town, they were in Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce--people that kept the town all white. The small hardware salesman, the small clothing-store salespersons, Jesse the Barber who signed his name three different times on three different petitions to recall me from the school board. F--- all these small businesses--f--- 'em all. Bring in the chains." # Posted 2:56 PM
In the Sunday book pages of the Strib was an article about the women of Afghanistan. It was discussing the new-found freedoms of women in the post-Taliban society, about girls queuing for school after years of oppression. Quote: “No matter what one’s political misgivings about the war might be, the sight of those girls was a thrilling shock.”
That sentence stuck in my head, and made me think back to October 01, to all the discontent over the Afghan campaign. We’ve forgotten what that was like - the marches in Europe, the predictions of mass casualties, the accusations of empire-building, how it was all about (cue Twilight Zone theme) an oil pipeline, how it would become a quagmire, how it was a quagmire, how we should have used international law to bring OBL to justice. It was the dress rehearsal for Iraq. The same blind sputtering fury; the same protests with Bush = Hitler posters and giant mocking puppets; the same inability to accept that a byproduct of the campaign would be a freer society for the very people the protesters supposedly cared about.
Any mass executions at the Kabul soccer stadium recently? No?
As always with Lileks, you should read the whole thing. # Posted 11:38 AM
Sunday, July 27
"Palestinian children look out from gate doors outside a souvenir shop decorated with a portrait of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, right, and a portrait of French President Jacques Chirac in Gaza City, Friday, July 18, 2003. Top word on the wall behind them is the Arabic word for 'God'."
Via Merde in France (the newest link on the ever expanding blogroll). # Posted 2:00 PM
Newest link on the blogroll: Ken Wheaton who lives in my hometown, Brooklyn. # Posted 2:56 PM
Friday, July 25
Do the French have any industries that stand on their own?:
From Lileks: The most interesting news of the day is rarely in the A-section; it’s buried in the back pages of the Wall Street Journal, where you get a glimpse into some small aspect of the future that will die or flourish in months to come. My favorite article today concerned the French computer game industry, and yes there is such a thing. Turns out that it’s in the pissoir for all the usual reasons - the companies can’t fire anyone when business heads sud, the taxes are onerous, and, uh, the games suq. But the French PM believes that the industry deserves to be subsidized, because French computer games reflect European values.
Well, yes, if they’re subsidized, bought by no one. # Posted 12:22 PM
Thursday, July 24
And they call Americans ignorant: One in three Germans under the age of 30 believes Americans had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. Yes, it's called getting killed. # Posted 11:57 AM
I need guest bloggers. I know I've made this plea before, and many people expressed interest but then failed to follow-up, and here I am making it again. I don't have the time to update this site as much as I would like and I don't want to start skipping days or skimping on posts. I've been so busy that I've effectively stopped checking my email, so if you would like to submit something please put 'guest blog' in the subject line. # Posted 2:23 PM
Tuesday, July 22
Peter really doesn't want me to make a big deal out of this (he won't even let me put a permalink in the blogroll), but I just wanted to mention that he's just started a music blog. Go visit. # Posted 8:17 PM
You usually don't know how government is affecting you until it's too late. On Sunday, I was having people over to my place for a few drinks. It was a small thing, as much to use my new martini glasses and shaker as to celebrate my 25 years of living in America. I didn't bother getting the vodka and triple sec necessary for the cosmopolitans I was planning to make, because I figured that all the liquor stores would be open on Sunday, since a law was recently passed changing New York's blue laws that had prohibited liquor stores from being open on that holiest of days. I could not have been more wrong. I called a few stores near me- all were closed. I called a few of the big stores in the city- all closed. Starting to panic and picturing guests arriving to a dry house, I started doing internet searches for Manhattan liquor stores open on Sunday. Well, I learned that the new law said that liquor stores can be open, in total, any six days they choose. However, Sunday hours must begin after noon, as opposed to say 9am the rest of the week. Since all owners would choose to be open six whole days instead of five whole days and one partial day, all liquor stores in Manhattan are still closed on Sundays, despite the law.
Um, why? Why not just let them be open whenever the hell they please? Because, explained my ex-boyfriend who is head of the Scotch department at a swank Manhattan booze shop, the owners of the stores lobbied for this to be the case since they wanted one mandatory day off. I heard this logic when I was in Britain regarding why stores didn't stay open late (people need to rest etc.). Am I alone in believing this makes no sense? Why can't store owners decide for themselves when they will be open and when they won't? Why is it the government's job to decide something like this? My ex says it's because the store owners wanted to insure that all the stores would be closed so they wouldn't be alone in losing business on their day off. This. Is. Retarded. This is government controlling competition to assist an industry that doesn't feel recession, doesn't suffer when the markets are down (in fact, does better) and has no reason to be treated to special government provisions limiting its days of operation.
I ended up getting my brother to bring the drinks from a Jewish owned store in Brooklyn which chooses to be closed on Saturdays. The day was saved but two days later (after I've fully recuperated from the 12 cosmo hangover) I'm still so annoyed at this idiotic law. If only the Libertarian party was a serious one, I don't think I would ever vote for a Republican again in New York state. What's the point?
UPDATE: I've been getting a lot of hits from people looking for a Manhattan liquor store open on Sundays. Since writing the rant about the stupid 6 day law, I've discovered one liquor store in Manhattan that is indeed open on Sunday. It is on Second Avenue between 75th and 76th Streets. It's called Woody's. Enjoy. # Posted 1:24 PM
Monday, July 21
So, hey, what's going on with that BBC over there? I know I'm risking all kinds of name-calling because I so much as mention the station, but things aren't looking too hot for it these days, are they? # Posted 10:41 PM
Intelligence is a hit-and-miss business. In 1998, when Bill Clinton launched mid-Monica cruise-missile attacks on Afghanistan and the Sudan, he hit a Khartoum aspirin factory and missed Osama bin Laden. The claims that the aspirin factory was producing nerve gas and was an al-Qa’eda front proved to be untrue. Does that mean Clinton lied to us? I mean, apart from about Gennifer, Monica, and which part of the party of the first part’s enumerated parts came into contact with part of the party of the second part’s enumerated parts. Or was it just that the intelligence was lousy? The intel bureaucracy got the Sudanese aspirin factory wrong, failed to spot 9/11 coming, and insisted it was impossible for any American to penetrate bin Laden’s network, only to have Johnnie bin Joss-Stick from hippy-dippy Marin County on a self-discovery jaunt round the region stroll into the cave and be sharing the executive latrine with the A-list jihadi within 20 minutes. -Mark Steyn on Bush's 'lie' about Iraq's attempt to secure uranium for Niger. Steyn sums up perfectly that what Bush did 'was report that America’s closest ally had asserted something which it continues to assert to this day. ' # Posted 3:37 PM
Friday, July 18
I was never a big fan of the Fourth of July. Usually, my friends and I rent a house upstate for the weekend and stay as far away from fireworks as can be. We go hiking on the waterfalls in the catskills, make a barbecue and generally just hang out. The idea that we are celebrating America's Independence isn't really prevalent. We do much the same on Memorial and Labor Day weekends.
This year, I stayed in the city. I felt little for the holiday before, but standing on a crowded street corner, sweating to death while watching fireworks across the sky and hoping that no one has a bomb, only lessened my already slight enthusiasm. I felt like I should write something patriotic since it was the 4th but was genuinely not feeling it. Hence, the cryptic comment about nibbling at tempting symbols.
The day that does unfailingly make me feel patriotic is the 20th of July, the day my mother and I arrived in America. It is celebrated every year by my family (in addition to the dates that my grandmother and father arrived-that's how it worked in Soviet Russia sometimes, family members left without each other and prayed the others would follow). This Sunday will mark 25 years that I am in the US and as always, I will be celebrating. I thank G-d for my good fortune frequently. I am thankful for being allowed to live in such an incredible place and I am all the more thankful for being allowed to escape such a horrific one. I know it is mostly luck, many of my parent's friends weren't allowed to leave. My mother's parents could not go because my grandfather had had a low end government job. His extremely limited access to 'secrets' prohibited him from even visiting his daughter, though my grandmother was allowed to come. My mother never saw her father again.
Last July 4th, I wrote about getting my citizenship:
That was me taking the same oath when I was a child. I stood with my mom in the hot courtroom and swore allegiance to this country. The Pledge was actually the first English I knew, having learned it from watching Romper Room on TV (I can let you each imagine for yourselves what it would be like if children's shows said the Pledge today). After the swearing in, the judge asked if anyone had any questions. I realize now that it may have been a rhetorical question but I raised my hand and the judge saw me, a little girl in her pink dress with pink sneakers. He smiled a grandfatherly smile and told me to come up on the stage. My question was this: 'why did one have to be 18 to vote?' I was maybe 7 years old or so and I felt I could make informed decisions about who to vote for and felt rather cheated when my parents went off without me to pick our leaders(yes it was obvious even then that politics would consume me). My mother was terrified, not knowing what was going on but seeing me on stage she thought I had gotten into some trouble. People were taking pictures of me and my mom asked someone nearby what was happening. The woman explained it to her and also offered to send her a photo of me with the judge. The judge never did answer my question. The woman sent my mother the photo in a nice frame. If I knew more about html and websites in general I would post it here as proof. Also because I was one cute kid with my pink dress and red curls.
I made some errors in the post. I am 6 years old in the picture and only my grandmother and father had voted-my mother became a citizen the same day I did. A little over a year later, I don't know that much more html but with the help of my fabulous boyfriend (who helped me with the html) and my terrific friend Cora (who let me host the image on her site) I present you with this photo of me becoming a citizen. It's an old picture, the quality isn't terrific, but I am glad to have this reminder of that day. I remember being so happy, I was going to be an American like my brother who had had the good fortune of being born here. If I look thrilled, it is because I was (and still am).
On our way down here, Senator Frist was kind enough to show me the fireplace where in 1814 the British had burned the Congress Library. I know this is kind of late, but: Sorry. -Tony Blair # Posted 7:43 PM
Spot On commenter Izabela forwarded this article to me. Sadly, Iranian authorities beat a journalist to death after she photographed a prison filled with pro-democracy demonstrators.
I wasn't going to write anything about it on this site because there isn't really much one can say which hasn't already been said. Instead I decided to post it to Indymedia.
This wasn't the first time I attempted to post an article to Indymedia. Back in February or March, I submitted a news item with a pro-war slant and the cooperative which runs Indymedia removed it. So much for their policy on open publishing.
Well, I didn't give up on them yet.
A casual browse through the news on that site will get you loads of articles about how G. Bush, A. Sharon, the Zionists, and RepubliKKKans are committing monumental attrocities against humanity on a scale unseen since ... well, since never before. Yet when it comes to articles about either the very real human rights abuse or the pro-democracy movement in Iran, hardly anything is written.
Sidenote: I did find this article, which prompted another reader to leave the following comment: It seems pretty obvious that Indymedia.org does not want to show the Iranian protests in any sort of positive light. These are people who are out there actually fighting for freedom, being brutally assaulted and murdered by government-sponsored gangs, and this is the only article you post about it? It must have taken a week to find an Iran-related article so sterile and politically uncharged (and even then some of the brutality peeks through.)
Why so little coverage? Because their cause has been "hijacked" by the Right? How juvenile. End sidenote.
Both Kashei and Asparagirl have already written about the stark contrast between the popularity of Iraq and the obscurity of Iran in terms of generating public attention and outcry. But let's be honest, it's not just the antiwar set who ignores Iran. The news media is ignoring it too. Back in March, I was seeing more weather reports on the tv for Baghdad than I was for New York, but on the morning of July 9 -- the supposed Big Day for Iranian democracy -- I flipped back and forth between FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC looking for something, anything at all, reported from Tehran. Nada.
(And it's not that this isn't a newsworthy event. The collapse of the Islamic Republic will have as big an effect on the War on Terror as the collapse of the Berlin Wall had on the Cold War.)
Maybe I'm naive, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that people who could get so riled up about countless alleged (and most often, exaggerated or imagined) attrocities against the Iraqis and Palestinians could sit so idle and complacent when very real horrors are being waged daily in Iran. It's especially confusing to hear people groaning about Bush and Ashcroft shredding the Constitution along with its appropriate civil rights and freedoms, yet say nothing about the Iranian people who are dying to have the same rights and freedoms we have and take for granted.
I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the word isn't really out yet and they're just not aware of what is really going on. There's no excuse for this double standard. # Posted 3:28 AM
The file grows almost daily: 309 incidents in the past 15 months in the Paris region, according to Jewish council officials, and more than 550 since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, broke out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000. The National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a government-funded body, reported a sixfold increase in acts of violence against Jewish people and property in France from 2001 to 2002.
Many incidents involve verbal assaults -- a taxi driver making an anti-Jewish remark to a passenger, a student harassed at school -- but nearly half involve violent acts of some kind. Most of the perpetrators are not the ultra-rightists and neo-Nazis who once were responsible for anti-Semitic acts, but young North African Arabs of the banlieues, the distant blue-collar suburbs where Muslims and Jews live and work in close proximity. Many of the victims are Sephardic Jews who themselves originally came from North Africa. # Posted 12:00 PM
Wednesday, July 16
This is a scene from the NAACP's convention in Florida two days ago. No, it is not a joke:
During the forum, the candidates were asked if ex-felons who have served their sentences should have their voting rights restored. All candidates expressed support for restoration of voting rights, with Graham and Edwards saying they were glad it was the case in their home states.
But Kerry pointed out that he was the only senator on the stage who voted to restore the rights to ex-felons in every state. Graham and Edwards voted against it last year, while Lieberman voted for it. "They've earned their right to be a full citizen back," Kerry said.
Sharpton responded that he may not have been able to vote for the bill, but he supports it and has authority as the only candidate who has ever been in jail. Kerry then interjected to say that he also spent one night in jail; his spokesman said it was in 1971 when he was protesting the Vietnam War.
I know the social conservatives who read my site aren't going to like this, but, I think this post, from new Corner-ite and libertarian Charles Murray, comes closest to matching my views on what should happen with the government sanctioned institution of marriage. # Posted 1:32 PM
I am so glad to live in a country where I can say any words I choose, in any language I choose, regardless of what my job is. I'm further glad that if there is a 'culture minister' in the US government, I have never heard of him or from him. Ahem.
I frequently come late to liking popular films, tv shows and musicians, tending to find out about them only after everybody else seems to have moved on. Case in point is that I am currenly obsessed with the HBO show 'Six Feet Under' and miniseries 'Band of Brothers'. I remember when each first came out and all the newspapers and magazines couldn't write enough about them. Critics acclaimed, friends discussed, I was oblivious. The same is true for films. The times in my life when I had a tv at all, I rented movies constantly. And then for years, the only movies I saw were in theatres, thereby missing all the movies you 'wait to see on video'. Now, armed with a tv, a vcr and a dvd player (all bought by my brother who could not deal with hanging out in my apartment without them), I am able to catch up on what I've missed. I joined Netflix and my rental queue currently has 44 movies in it, including movies that it seems everyone has seen except me. I've got everything from 'The Graduate' to 'The Professional' to 'Taxi Driver' on it. I've also got big, fairly recent movies that I missed like 'The Matrix' or 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'. I'm knocking out about 3 movies a weeks so I'm writing this to ask for suggestions on what to add to my list. I'm open to seeing any genre but must mention that I'm really not a fan of 'comedies' in the ilk of 'There's Something About Mary.' Please use the comment section to leave recommendations. Thank you. # Posted 5:48 PM
Short note to my friends who read this site: my AOL email account has some kind of glitch that prevents me from opening or responding to my emails. I can see that some of you have sent me emails but I can't read them. Please resend to my yahoo address until AOL fixes the problem. # Posted 2:54 PM
The answer, I think, is that the left isn't galvanized by victims; it's galvanized by victimizers. The theme of answer's upcoming protest, after all, is "Occupation and Empire." In a recent essay, Roy explained that "the real and pressing danger, the greatest threat of all, is the locomotive force that drives the political and economic engine of the U.S. government." In other words, imperialism, what she elsewhere calls "a super-power's self-destructive impulse toward supremacy, stranglehold, global hegemony."
But, if the greatest injustice in the world is U.S. imperialism, the world's greatest injustices must be found where U.S. imperialism is strongest. And, here, Africa poses a problem. Africa, after all, has less contact with the United States than any other part of the world. The continent accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. foreign investment, it receives less than 0.l percent of U.S. military assistance, and it hosts no permanent American troop deployments. If you are a left-wing activist scouring the globe for places suffocating under America's "stranglehold," you'll pass right over sub-Saharan Africa. And, even if you do find U.S. imperialism in Africa, you'll find it in countries stable and prosperous enough to attract investment and cooperate against terrorism, not in the disaster zones of Congo, Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Sudan. -Peter Beinart # Posted 12:25 PM
Obviously, I never read Michael Moore's site. Occasionally he'll write something and one of my friends on the Left will forward it to me (they especially like it when he-oh so cleverly-doesn't call Bush 'President' instead referring to him as governor or, in his current missive, lieutenant.) However, I mentioned him in a post from a few days ago and this sparked my interest in what Moore is writing about these days. I guessed he was almost certainly writing about being 'misled' into war, and predictably he was. Also, however, he urges Bush to plant evidence because, well, Moore and other Americans like him are used to that kind of treatment from their government. No, really:
You see, George, it's not the lying and the doctoring of intelligence that has me all upset. It's that you've had control of Iraq for over two months now -- and you couldn't even find the time to plant just a few nukes or vats of nerve gas and at least make it LOOK like you weren't lying to us.
You see, by not faking some evidence of weapons of mass destruction, it shows that you thought no one would mind if it turned out you made everything up. A different kind of president, who believes that the American public would be outraged if they ever found out the truth, would go to great lengths to cover up his subterfuge.
Johnson did it with the Gulf of Tonkin. He said our ships were "attacked" by the North Vietnamese. They weren't, but he knew he had to at least make it LOOK like it happened. Nixon said he wasn't "a crook," but he knew that wasn't enough, so he paid hush money to the burglars and somehow had 18 1/2 minutes erased from a tape in the Oval Office. Why did he do this? Because he knew the American people would be pissed if they found out the truth.
Your blatant refusal to back up your verbal deception with the kind of fake evidence we have become used to is a slap in our collective American face. It's as if you are saying, "These Americans are so damn apathetic and lazy, we won't have to produce any weapons to back up our claims!" If you had just dug a few silo holes in the last month outside Tikrit, or spread some anthrax around those Winnebagos near Basra, or "discovered" some plutonium with that stash of home movies of Uday Hussein feeding his tigers, then it would have said to us that you thought we might revolt if you were caught in a lie. It would have shown us some *respect*. We honestly wouldn't have cared if it later came out that you planted all the WMD -- sure, we'd be properly peeved, but at least we would have been proud to know that you knew you HAD to back up your phony claims with the real deal!
It's classic Moore, and in turn classic American Left these days. The hysteria conveyed in his post is the only kind of emotion I see the Left mustering up at the moment. I went out the other night with a few friends. One of my friends, who I just adore, despises Bush and admits he can't articulate why he does. He ends up saying that 'you just know something shady is going on in that White House.' That's not much of an argument, right? He doesn't take it personally when I say that to him, a mark, I guess, of a good friendship. We were going to meet up with one of his friends later in the night and my friend assured me that his friend would be able to argue more fully with me regarding the 'shadiness' of the Bush administration. I stepped away for a few minutes when said discussion commenced. I returned to his friend saying that the Bush administration's dream is to make everyone blonde and blue eyed. I'm serious. Somebody actually said that. My friend DTDT, who sometimes comments on this site, responded with a hilarious, straight faced 'so, Colin Powell is going to be peeling off that mask sometime soon then, huh?'
This irrational hatred isn't good for anyone. I lived through 8 years of Bill Clinton, complete with the lies and cover-ups that Moore is so used to, and I can't say that I ever hated him or Hillary. I'm clearly not a fan, but I don't think that their point was ever to harm the country. Liberals truly believe Bush is out to get them and cause damage to the US for his own goals. I don't think all liberals are traitors (to quote Ann Coulter), though I think they allow their spokespeople at Moveon.org and Michaelmoore.com, and other sites like that, to say things for them that they don't really believe but in absence of any rational leadership have come to accept.
In ending, I'm glad we have an administration that doesn't think planting evidence is a-ok. And, if you think that their goal is to spawn blonde children across the land, then perhaps psychiatric help is in order for you. It's time for the Left to let the shrieking of the anti-war protests die off. We will never be a healthy country, and they will certainly never be a healthy political alternative, if they don't. # Posted 1:45 PM
Sunday, July 13
I've had a hectic week. Yes, again. It's been a much busier summer than I had planned on (but promises to ease up any day now). So that is why, at 12:54am on Sunday morning, I am home resting and have finally gotten around to reading Victor Davis Hanson's Friday piece. It is, as always, incredible. My favorite part:
You see, for all the apparent change and startling new technology, we are still butting up against older laws — those described by observers from Thucydides to Machiavelli — that are so often forgotten but that, I fear, are as unchanging and unforgiving as the nature of man himself.
This bloody past suggests to us that enemies cease hostilities only when they are battered enough to acknowledge that there is no hope in victory — and thus that further resistance means only useless sacrifice. Accordingly, governments or states that preside over crushing losses usually fall or lose credibility only if they are seen as culpable for politics that led to national ruin.
Thus, in recent memory, the Falklands ended in Argentine defeat and the downfall of the Galtieri junta; the same was true for Noriega and Milosevic. Arafat survived solely through the largess of Europe and the exculpation of the United States, which at the eleventh hour both rescued his forces from utter annihilation and restored some shred of legitimacy to an otherwise run-of-the-mill terrorist. The decision to rescue him and send him to Tunis was a folly exceeded only by the decision to bring him back. Otherwise he would have been what he always was — a tiny thug lording over a few acres like an exiled Napoleon, but without either the brains or the past glory........
We are winning this war. But we should never forget, because of our amazing success so far, that we are still in a war — a big one against Islamic fascism and the abettors of terror in the Middle East that started on September 11 but will follow certain historic rules that did not suddenly first appear in 2001, nor can be easily ignored by present experts. Our task — ordeal if you will — is that we must make war so godawfully terrible to our enemies, and the rewards of peace and reform so humanely sweet to our friends, that the vast middle in between will have no problem choosing sides.
Go read the whole thing. No really, right now, go. # Posted 1:08 AM
Friday, July 11
I'm not a fan of Ann Coulter. Or, I'm not a fan in the usual way that I tend to be when I admire writers. I see celebrities all the time in New York, but I only get really excited about it when I see someone like Russ Smith hailing a cab in TriBeCa or Rich Lowry walking on the Upper East Side. These are my celebrities. I rather see them than Ben Affleck and J-Lo any day of the week. Ann Coulter doesn't do it for me in this way. Oh, I might stop flipping channels when I catch her on Hannity & Colmes, or if I heard she was giving a talk, I would almost certainly attend. While I find her entertaining in this way, I'm just not appreciative of her writing. She takes things too far, and while this is amusing on television, I find it falls flat in writing. Lately, Ann has been getting dissed in this way by many on the Right:
Ann gives credibility to liberal attacks, writes David Horowitz, one of Ann's few supporters after she wrote her infamous 'let's invade their countries and convert them to Christianity' line after 9/11.
All of this proves, yet again, something I've been saying lately: the Right can and does criticize their own in a way the Left doesn't. The Left embraces Moore certainly, and to a lesser extend Dowd, as figureheads of their side. I'm glad that the Right takes the high road and doesn't do the same with Coulter. # Posted 11:44 AM
Nearly all--95%, I'd say--of the people there were quite obviously Iranian exiles. And where, I wondered, were all the other non-Iranian American protestors, shouting in support of nascent democratic movement against a brutal theocratic tyranny? Where were the protests from ANSWER and Amnesty International and other human rights groups? The ones who paraded and yelled so vigorously about a certain country just next door to Iran, saying something about human rights and oppression? Whose solipsistic, self-congratulatory, often logically mangled signs and banners I can still see in my head, even had I not documented them with photos?
Needless to say, they didn't come. And I hate to say it, but I doubt they ever will. No rock stars or country stars or actors will speak out for the Iranians. There is no glamour for them here. When the subject was "we don't want a war", I could see, though not agree, with its simplistic appeal, because hey, who actually likes the idea of war? But when the subject is "we support democracy against tyranny", which has the same simplistic, knee-jerk appeal, the reaction is shrugged shoulders and maybe a "yeah, good luck with that".
-Asparagirl, who attended the Solidarity with Iran demonstration in New York. Peter attended too but is, for some reason, reluctant to blog on it. I didn't go since I wrongly figured that if the demonstrations in Iran were cancelled, they would be here too. # Posted 1:51 PM
Africa is a terrible mess, and the inclination over the years has been to turn one's head away from it, in part because of an accepted sense of futility in trying to do anything about it, in part because there is a suspicion, mostly unexpressed, that black countries simply don't know how to maintain civil democratic order. Oh, we go through the proper formalities. Everybody cheered the day that Ian Smith stepped down and Mugabe stepped up. In the Congo, The Economist puts the figure of dead in fighting at 4.7 million. Oh, and in the Sudan, something over 2 million in two decades. And we all know about Rwanda and Burundi and the l.5 million dead. Abstention presupposes a callused capacity for detachment from this continental gore, as we whistle along, year after year. The figures of African dead amount to many times the loss of Allied troops in the Second World War, and come near to the numbers of the Holocaust. But what we are trained to celebrate is decolonialization. There is little in post-decolonialization to warrant celebration.
National Review Online is currently debating the issue. Click on the links to read arguments for and against. # Posted 2:38 PM
The Wages of Appeasement As many as 50 Shiite Muslims are dead after a Friday terrorist attack on a mosque in Quetta, Pakistan, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports a pair of suicide bombers murdered at least 13 people at an open-air rock concert in Moscow Saturday.
Boy, it's lucky for the Pakistanis and the Russians that they opposed the liberation of Iraq, or the terrorists would have been really mad at them. # Posted 11:09 AM
The other day, I was perusing some Bush speeches, and re-read his State of the Union address from 2002. You remember: the one in which he listed Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil."
Or did he? I was shocked to discover that he was far less narrow than that. He talked about those three regimes, yes. And then he said, "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."
I expressed my shock to David Frum. He was decidedly unshocked, saying that he had explained this in interview after interview, without making much headway (it would seem). People are always asking, "Gee, if Bush put Iraq, Iran, and North Korea on the list, why didn't he include" . . . name your own country. And that's exactly what we can do, mentally, or out loud for that matter: name our own countries, within "states like [the three], and their terrorist allies," who do indeed constitute that axis of evil. So you can vote for Syria, Saudi Arabia . . . help yourself. # Posted 11:08 AM
Michael Savage, a conservative television host, has been fired for disgusting anti-gay comments. I've only seen his show once for a few minutes and I thought it was rather boring. It seemed to be a guy being filmed doing a radio show. The only people I knew that watched his show were two conservative Democrat friends. I found this odd. Anyway, the Right is, again, skewering their own. I love that. # Posted 11:08 AM
Monday, July 7
I was at a party this weekend. I was talking to a guy and mentioned that I've been doing some work for a City Council candidate in Brooklyn. He told me how excited he was about the Howard Dean campaign and though he said he knows he will lose, at least he will lose with glory. Then he told me about a City Council candidate running on the Lower East Side. He said 'he's one of those good liberal judges, he got a lot of people off after 9/11 that were caught up in the round-ups. I'm sure he got people off who were guilty too.' He said this smiling, like it was a good thing. I didn't say anything to him. Despite how it may seem, I am loathe to discuss politics in social settings. It's just too touchy and I don't need to have an argument just for the sake of it. I like to argue when there is a chance I will change somebody's mind, make them see things my way. A bar setting isn't the place for such an argument. This guy's comment stuck in my head, though. I should've maybe said something. I don't understand how someone can despise their country so. Ann Coulter calls liberals 'traitors' and sometimes I can see where she is coming from. How can anyone see getting terrorists out of jail as a good thing? How far gone do you need to be for that to be ok? # Posted 11:43 AM
Sunday, July 6
A few days ago, I posted something on the BBC and how weird it is that it is state funded. This prompted the usual 'we love our BBC' comments from my British readers. Bobby wrote: 'No offence, but it has got fuck all to do with Americans.' I wrote back that 'I can just imagine how annoying it is when your domestic affairs are the subject of discussion in other parts of the world.' And here is just such an example. While I adore Mark Steyn and think this article is quite good, I can't understand why British people should care about the affairs of California. So how about this for a deal: when our domestic affairs stop being the topic of your newspapers, I'll stop writing about yours. Till then.... # Posted 3:01 PM
Just got this off of a conservative list I am on:
July 9 (Wednesday): 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Solidarity demonstration with Iranian students. First Avenue and 47th Street, New York City. For more information call 1-718-445-9761, or go here. There will be demonstrations in several spots around the U.S.
Peter and I will be there (his idea, I'm not much of a demonstrator). # Posted 2:49 PM
Friday, July 4
"So reader, should you ever find yourself writing about the world, take care not to nibble at the many tempting symbols she sets squarely in your path, or you'll be baited into saying things you don't mean, and offending the people you want most to entertain."
Happy Day of Independence. # Posted 1:15 PM
Thursday, July 3
While reading Andrew Sullivan's site, I found a link to a British leftist's site which led me to a quiz about who best represents my views in the 2004 presidential election. Somewhat surprisingly (considering I entered that I support legalizing drugs and reducing penalties on current drug convictions), I got George W. Bush as a match with 100%. In second place is a, as of yet unnamed, 'Libertarian Candidate'. Very surprising are the people I have in third, fourth and fifth places: Pat Buchanan, Dick Gephart, and Diane Feinstein, respectively. I didn't even know Feinstein was considering a run (as I didn't know there were enough California commies to have their own base) and I can't possibly imagine what I have in common with Buchanan and Gephart or what they have in common with each other. # Posted 10:41 AM
During a wedding celebration, two young men fire celebratory shots into the air. A British patrol happens to be near by, they think they have a couple of Fedayeen shooting at them. Bang bang, the Iraqis are dead.
The British take the bodies to the hospital, and after conducting an investigation they find out they were not Fedayeen, a mistake has been made. So the next day two British officers, two Iraqi lawyers and a translator go to the hospital and ask how the locals deal with this sort of thing. The concept of "Fasil" or blood money is explained to them. A couple of days later the word spreads that the British have paid 15 million Iraqi dinars in blood money to the families of the two Iraqi men. Further bloodshed was stopped. Perfect.
I am not discussing the moral correctness of blood money. This is the way things are done here and if this money will stop any sort of revenge killings then it is worth it. No, I only have one comment: being foreigners, they paid too much. Habibi, everything is bargainable here, and paying 15 million in blood money will ruin the blood money market - it is way too much. You should improve your tribal connections and get someone to bargain for you.
The July 9 general strike is only one week away. In preparation for these historic events, here is a must read essay from the SMCCDI.
Here is just one excerpt, but you should really read the whole thing:
To this occupying, illegitimate and demented theocracy we say:
While we are devastated and strive to eke out a living not knowing how or where we can provide for our family’s daily sustenance, you, your litter and the foreign parasites are like pigs at the trough feasting on Iran’s riches. As much as we abhor xenophobia, at this juncture we demand:
Our blessed motherland belongs to us, and us alone; Iran, solely for the Iranians; Iran and her resources must remain only for the Iranians! As long as an Iranian child is hungry, an Iranian mother can’t afford medicine, Iranian workers have no wages, teachers are paupers and men and women can’t provide for their families, not a penny, not a single cent is to be wasted on these foreign terrorists that have taken over our land and are murdering our brothers and sisters. No cause, not a single cause, is greater than the cause and the right of well being of every solitary Iranian.
Palestine is not our cause; Arab-Israeli conflict is not our fight. We are Iranians! That is totally between the parties involved. Nonetheless, as a peace-loving nation
we should encourage and support a peaceful solution rather than interfere in their affairs and instigate terror and war.
We need to turn inward; we need to face our own problems! Our care is feeding the hungry mouths of our children, having medicine for our sick mothers, finding a job and having a life. We want to breath, breath, and breath freely; we want to be allowed to feel like a human being again. We want to feel alive!
You, you, with your depraved minds, you have suffocated us. You have reduced us to sub-humans. Iranians were respected for their culture and humanity. Today, the adjective of terrorist follows us. You have done this to us, you ignorant gang of Mullahs! We want to belong to the human race once again; we want to join the world again. You belong to the dark ages, we want to move forward; it is the twenty-first century!
You have taken our nationality, identity, our heritage, our dignity and our honor. You have made every attempt to erase and deny us our nationalism and 7,000 years of history and civilization. You have taken our music, our glorious literature, our poetry and our beautiful traditions. You have tried to kill every human emotion in us; we are not monsters like you hypocrite mendacious bunch of criminals. You have buried us alive! You have buried us alive!
How dare you claim to represent God on this earth? We would burn in Hell before we allow you to come between our God and us. You have already placed us in Hell on this earth; you have created a “ Satanic Republic” and we are burning in it!
Almost three thousand years ago, while most of the world was barbaric, Cyrus the Great decreed the first Declaration of Human Rights. Today, the children of Iran have to go begging to a pathetic organization like the United Nations and its ineffective, sycophant Secretary-General for their most basic rights as a human being. And you, you, you have reduced us to this!
We demand our freedoms: freedom of thought, expression, religion, and freedom to be and feel human. We demand total separation of religion and state.
Understand this: The Iran of tomorrow is ours! We will reclaim our land, our national identity, pride, heritage, proud history, and our civilization! # Posted 1:04 AM
Anyone feel encouraged by the 'roadmap'?
Via LGF # Posted 12:27 PM
Jonah Goldberg discusses gay unions by using the Simpsons and his feelings on incest. It's very funny, as always. # Posted 12:06 PM
I know it's only Tuesday, but I've already had a seriously exhausting week. I owe a bunch of you emails, phone calls, comments in response to your comments and (most importantly) interesting posts to read while you're at work. I'm going to have another cup of coffee and try to pick up the pace. # Posted 11:55 AM