Monday, January 30, 2006

HA HA HA America

Sundance Film Festival screened this short film about fat, lazy America. I actually think it's pretty funny. Not quite that worried about China yet, but don't let anyone tell you China will never rise to meet us... Let the Red, White, and Blue nationalism ooze out all over the MSM to combat this message of hate from Asia.

A Different View of Hamas


That being said, Hamas' electoral victory deserves better treatment than has been given in much of the media. When the election results were announced on Thursday, Hannity was going nuts, saying the Palestinians were going to join forces with the Iranians and work towards eliminating Israel. The destruction of Israel, after all, is a part of Hamas' platform. But Netenyahu was on Hannity' show that day. He went on to say that the terror of Hamas was going to spread across Israel and then end up in America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas is not leading a global jihad. They are fighting for their homeland. They have contained their violence in the past, when disagreements were much more heated.

In fact there is much historical evidence that the democratic process actually moderates many groups. Hamas is now accountable to all Palestinian people, not just their group members. They will be held responsible for any loss of aid or lack of services. They will be held responsible for international dealings. Furthermore, rhetoric should not be taken so seriously right now. The call for the destruction of Israel has been on the table for a long long time, whether in times of peace or war. A Guardian columnist put it this way:

Sheikh Ahmad Yassin...spelled it out long ago. We shall never recognise the theft of our land, he said, but we are willing to negotiate a ceasefire whose duration can be as a long as a generation, and let future generations on both sides decide where to go then. His ceasefire conditions are fully compatible with international law. Israel would have to give back what it occupied in 1967 - then without any Jewish settlements - and release all Palestinian prisoners. For that Hamas would halt its armed struggle and instead pursue peaceful means.

The IRA, whose leaders negotiated a deal with the British government, continues to dream of uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic; it was never a condition for the peace talks that they should first abandon that dream.

Well, let the Palestinians dream of the end of Israel and let the Israelis dream of Eretz Yisrael from the Nile to the Euphrates, but let's negotiate an end to the violence. Hamas alone is capable of that because Hamas will not give up the right of Palestinians to go back to the villages and towns from which the terrorists who stole their land drove them.

Obviously, this author has his bias, but that shouldn't detract from his main points. Peace is still possible. Political realitites will abound, putting restrictions on Hamas' actions. What's more, Hamas has only been in power for a number of days. Why should I automatically assume they are going to step up attacks on Israel? They ran on a domestic agenda all the way; end corruption, give the people the services they deserve. Israel was not their main campaign talking point. We need to continue to work with the freely elected leaders of the Palestinian territories. Did appeasement work for Hitler? Not at all. But we watched Hitler consolidate power. Hamas was just freely and fairly elected. There isn't an inkling of aggression in their posture right now.

But as an aside, if we need any reminder of what Hamas has done in the past, here ya go:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

We're Pro-Democracy (as long as the elected are pro-U.S.)

Well what to do now; Hamas, a group deemed a terrorist organization by our federal government, has won an overwhelming majority of seats in the recent Palestinian elections.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Georgetown Students

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Movie Notes

I've been on a political conspiracy movie kick as of late. Not that this is out of the ordinary for me... but these happen to have been very excellent flicks that I want to recommend and reflect upon here.

The movies in question are The Constant Gardener, Munich, and Syriana. I just purchased The Constant Gardener on DVD, and saw Munich and Syriana in theaters. And yes before any conservatives start complaining about the obvious lefty-pinko-anti-corporate slant here, I'd just like to say I haven't heard the release date for Rush Limbaugh's response films. So until the day comes that the political thriller market is more fair and balanced, I'll stick with what we have.

The Constant Gardener left me asking if director Fernando Meirelles could ever go wrong. City of God, his first film, was incredible. Constant Gardener was far less violent, but Meirelles camera work really came through. I particularly like a scene in the beginning of the movie where Rachel Weitz's character confronts Ralph Feinnes, playing the British diplomat Justin Quayle, on his government's Iraq War policy. They are in a room of political activists and diplomats when Weitz levels a well-reasoned attack. She then slips into peacenik talking points and shout-down techniques that leave the audience groaning. The scene ends with everyone slowly peeling out of the room, as if quietly leaving her side, refusing to side with her anymore.

I think the point was timely, seeing as the film was released this past summer. Basically, I think this scene reflects the sentiment that the time to bitch about the war and pass it off as debate is long gone. People don't want to hear you bitch about the reasons for going to war anymore. We know it was wrong. Obviously fighting a war based on false pretenses and lies was not enough of an accountability issue for Americans to get Bush out of office. That's when the real bitching needed to go on. But now we're stuck with the motherfucker, so it's time to ask "What are we going to do to get our boys out of there and not leave a civil war in our wake?" This scene was a very small part of a movie not at all related to the war in Iraq, but I thought it was an interesting choice to throw into the film.

Munich was a very solid, very well-made film as well. I mean one can lose faith in Spielberg real quick when winners like A.I. and War of the Worlds get thrown at the masses as master works from a master filmmaker. Munich makes you ask, "How the hell did Spielberg make War of the Worlds?" So think about the Schindler's List Spielberg, not the E.T. Spielberg. This movie is packed with Palestine-Israel and Cold War insights, and gives us some very good points on terrorism and homeland. "Home is everything," says one of the characters. It's a pretty good way to sum up an entire 60 year conflict in three words. I highly recommend checking this one out.

Syriana... well, I mean there was some good stuff going on here. However, it didn't really close very well. It kind of left me saying, "That's it? That's the end?" I honestly didn't see the build-up, or climax or anything... Besides I really don't like Steven Soderbergh. I think he's kind of a tool, and I really hope his film on Che (soon to be released) bombs. If you want to see a good movie about Che that doesn't preach communism, but paints a beautiful picture of a person finding his life's calling, The Motorcycle Diaries is a much better flick. But that's beside the point.

I really would have liked to see a lot more out of George Clooney's character (based on CIA Agent Robert Baer) and seen the story of the mujahideen just removed. Soderbergh spent far too little time developing the terrorist Muslim school story, and instead relied clich├ęs and myths to get by. The young Muslim gets fired from his job in a big-oil merger that eliminates his plant. We're left assuming the typical terrorist is a disgruntled, unemployed, poor radical. It's just not true. Furthermore, we don't see the rhetoric used to indoctrinate these kids. We didn't see the personal connections that many times must be made between the leader and the student. We're just left assuming all the students are sheep and are just in the martyr line. Very poor job on this part of the movie.

But it was very good at being matter-of-fact about the influence of these companies on governments and the role of money in politics (you can barely hear it on a TV set in the background of one scene). We're not told these companies are blatantly evil to the core and see it as their main goal to slowly kill your family. It's money. Money makes people bend the rules. It's not an excuse or an apology, it just shows us that, hey, money talks and no businessman that wants to remain in business would deny that. Worth seeing, but hardly as good as Munich and The Constant Gardener.

That's about all I have on those. I'm always up for suggestions for more good movies, so let me have 'em.

UPDATE: Here's a good interview with Spielberg about Munich. Seems he has been taking heat from all political sides for this film. Not the kind of controversy Close Encounters was able to foment.

Black Keys Special Shows

Just a note to my Ohio people that the best band in Ohio will be playing in the three C's (Cinci, Columbus, Cleveland) late in February. Very very good band. Very very fun live. Check out their webpage to listen to some of their stuff and meet me at Cleveland's Agora Ballroom if you end up realizing it's time to rock out. Check out their homepage here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On Datamining

Nevermind the first part of this article's eerie similarities with my line of work, Russell Tice, the NSA whistleblower has some good stuff to say about the whole warrantless spying upon Americans thing:

REASON: Some polls suggest that most citizens aren't terribly concerned about these programs.
Tice: People think it's not going to affect them. They think it's against
the bad people, it's to protect our national security. Maybe it's against the
law, but it's just the bad people, just to keep the terrorist from blowing up my
neighborhood dam. But if those people find out it was hundreds of thousands or
millions, and they were swept up into it and the government was listening to
their conversation with their doctor.... Now all of a sudden it affects them
personally. Right now I don't think people see how it affects them. Though even
if it were just these few thousand people that have been talked about,
nonetheless it's wrong. There's no reason the two thousand warrants could not
have been done through the FISA court. The question is: Why wasn't it done?

That's right, I'm not a terrorist, so I have nothing to worry about right? Well the problem is sometimes it's kind of hard to get them to realize that when you are gagged and blind-folded in Gitmo.

And by the way, I haven't mentioned anything about this until now, but doesn't it say something about Bush's policy when he has to merely defend the legality of the program. He kept saying "I have the legal authority, I have the constitutional authority." As if to say, I didn't break any laws so of course I did nothing wrong. Well guess what, Clinton didn't do anything illegal until he lied under oath. Was what he did wrong in the eyes of most of his constituents?...

An Alternative Energy Solution

Thanks to my roommate Rahul for this one. This guy has an interesting take on alternative energies.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hahvad knows what's up

Now if we can just get this kind of organization up and running in Athens... We'll see though. Sure there's plenty of pro-gun people down around the periphery of the city, but the evil-capitalist-whore vote doesn't seem to dominate on campus. Thanks to Hammer of Truth for bringing this one to all of our respective attentions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The shirt is cracking me up... but that's cause I'm a fuckin nerd.

Drunken Politics

See, Senator Kennedy isn't so bad after all...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Haaretz on Sharon

This pretty much sums up Sharon. I'm going to put it all right here:

Good-bye, giants of 1948
By Yoel Marcus

As these lines are being written, Ariel Sharon is fighting for his life. But you don't have to be a neurologist to know that his days in the Prime Minister's Office are over. As the last of the giants of the 1948 generation, Sharon has been a visible presence at every important and sensitive juncture in the chronicles of the state.

As a soldier and a statesman, he was loved and hated, promoted and demoted. One day he was "king of Israel" and the next he was "a danger to the state." The man who was deemed unfit to be defense minister went on to become the "father of the nation."

Sharon went through a process similar to Moshe Dayan, another member of the 1948 club who tended to view Arabs through a gunsight. Both were celebrated and resourceful generals. Both underwent a dramatic turnabout in their approach to the Palestinian problem later in life. Dayan came up with the idea of peace with Egypt, ran with it, and planted it in Menachem Begin's brain. He was the first to understand the limitations of

brute force and the need to use the occupied territories as cash for buying peace.

At that time, Sharon was a fierce hawk, the builder of the settlements, a master at manacling prime ministers who were extremists in their own right, like Yitzhak Shamir. Sharon's change of heart began when he slid into the driver's seat. Using the slogan "you see things from here that you don't see from there," he underwent a dramatic metamorphosis. It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment of transition. The common assumption is that as an illustrious general, he began to see that Israel had no answer to terror, and as a prime minister, flying back and forth to meet President Bush, he realized that Israel could not cut itself off from the family of nations. Most of all, he worried that the United States might someday impose an accord on Israel.

As a beloved and esteemed prime minister, he went through a process similar to de Gaulle. The general who was brought back to power to insure that the territories (in this case, Algeria) remained in French hands did the opposite of what the extremists expected. He gave up Algeria and ordered a million colonists to return to France.

Sharon was elected prime minister as the father of the settlers. But when he realized there could be no agreement without a Palestinian state and painful concessions, he found himself in a face-off with his supporters, his party and the entire far right.

Sharon's six-day war was evacuating the settlements in Gaza in six days. And he did it without bloodshed or civil war. He did it with the determination of a leader who had made up his mind that without a pullout from the occupied territories, we would never be able to live here in peace and security. The PR slogan "only Sharon can do it" became a

If the Palestinians were smarter and more organized, they would have grabbed what Sharon was offering with two hands. But, as much as I hate to say this, Arabs are Arabs. If there's an opportunity to be missed, they'll miss it. The moderates were scared stiff of the extremists. They could learn a thing or two from Sharon. There comes a time when you
act in accordance with the will of the majority and not the dictates of the fanatics and the militants.

Sharon did not hesitate to walk out on the Likud, which was screwing up the works, and found a new party. Even before things were organized, with the party still in an embryonic state, the pollsters were predicting that it would win 42 seats.

Sharon's stroke has sent the political system into a tizzy. Politicians who regard Kadima as a thorn in their sides - Netanyahu in this corner and Peretz in that - will try to get the tens of thousands who followed Sharon to come back home. But Kadima was the product of circumstances and those circumstances have not changed. The people who wanted this party are still there. The diverse cadre of leaders who flocked around Sharon can also rally around Ehud Olmert, a seasoned politician who dreamed up the idea of disengagement with, or maybe even before, Sharon. He can carry on from where Sharon left off.

The voters who were going to give Kadima those 42 seats refuse to believe that all is lost. Yesterday I saw people heading off to register for the new party. As if they were saying to Sharon: Good-bye, giants of 1948. You have heirs.

On His Shoulders

Let me apologize if I seem insensitive when I say I don't think the whole West Virginia miner situation warranted that much news coverage when the only man that is right now making any moves in Israel/Palestine is laying in a hospital bed helpless and politically impotent.

The cartoon in my post entitled "Well If You Step Back a Few Years..." is very telling when we talk about the political might of Ariel Sharon. HE's the man that gets credit for the Gaza pull-out. No thanks to his party. No thanks to the Palestinian leaders. This was Sharon moving forward. He did this and knew there could be political consequences. Well it turns out, there were consequences. They just happened to be overwhelmingly positive until now.

He moved forward on establishing a more sovereign Palestinian territory. Then he moved forward on his new party, Kadima, basically by himself. He declared his new party AND THEN started to build popular and political support. Many big name politicians jumped on board after Sharon had already announced his aspirations and the public had reacted positively.

Sharon carried the weight of the Peace Process on his back, so the thought of him not being there to follow through is a bit worrisome. There are two questions we need to ask: 1. Can Sharon's new party pick up where he left off and move forward with popular support? 2. If the public decides to reelect the Likud party, are we willing to sit back and watch another war break out in the Middle East?

Sharon was not without his problems, but he was the one taking initiative. I worry very much about the Likud Party and Netanyahu being put in the leadership position. I also worry about the sanity of Pat Robertson.

But at least this is some promising news of Kadima without Sharon:
Were Vice Premier Shimon Peres to take over leadership of the party, Kadima would win 42 seats - exactly the number of seats it would have garnered four days ago, when Sharon was still healthy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

He Just Keeps Coming Back to Haunt Us

I complain about politics a lot. A lot. But if there is one thing I like to bitch about to take my mind off politics, it's Ohio State football. We've had it good in Columbus the past five years. But one little problem keeps reemerging and its name is Maurice Clarett. He always chooses such perfect moments to butt back into the spotlight, so I can't say that Monday's headline announcing the alleged involvement of Clarett in an armed robbery was too surprising. At least I have two more stellar Fiesta Bowls I can look back on with pride and utter admiration. I unfortunately have to do a little mental editing when reflecting on the 2003 Buckeyes, the best OSU football team since I've been alive.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff is Just the Beginning

Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felony charges that amount to full admission of manipulation of Congressional business and bribery. This is big news of course, but what worries me is the political positioning that is taking place right now on the left:

Some Democrats saw the plea bargain as good political news. They are trying to build their 2006 midterm campaigns around what they call the Republican "culture of corruption" and say Mr. Abramoff taps into that theme.

Minutes after his deal was announced, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which tries to help elect Democrats to Congress, trumpeted the news on its Web site. "Breaking News: Jack Abramoff to Plead Guilty," the headline said.

This post is a plea; DO NOT BELIEVE THIS SHIT!!! Any persons that honestly believe these sweetheart deals aren't going both ways are fooling themselves. I've said it before and I'll say it again; if there were ever a full-scale investigation on Capitol Hill, there'd be a lot of fucked donkeys too. I think the relative silence on the part of the Democrats is a testament to this reality. Sure they've put in their two cents, but no one has yet gone on a war path. But time will tell. Abramoff has a lot of talking to do now.

As if we needed any more reminders about this, Hammer of Truth carries a nice entry about the public's level of trust in Congress. 50% of all Americans believe Congress is now very or somewhat corrupt. It's time for a change.

Well if you step back a few years...

I found this witty little cartoon floating around on the internet today:

The Jewish nation is slowly being destroyed by terrorism and diplomacy. Sharon's hands are of course covered in the blood of his hemorrhaging Jewish state. It's a very good cartoon, I'll give them that, nice imagery, nice illustration. It's funny though, because if you stepped back a couple generations, you might see a very different picture:

So lest we keep listening to Tammy Bruce tell us that Israel is our only partner in the world worth defending to the death, we should remember just how Israel got its state... I'm not siding with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on this one (I personally agree with the two-state solution), I think people either easily forget that Britain forcibly created the Israeli state by divvying up Palestinian land, or they have been listening to Bush too long and actually think these guys are terrorists that hate freedom. Turns out they actually really like freedom: their own freedom.

I think politics gets in the way in this issue too much anyways. Personally I couldn't care less about whose spiritual homeland Jerusalem (or al-Quds) actually is...It's really both anyways... but that's beside the point.

This cartoon is so deceiving because you really feel like the body politic is so firmly rooted in the land of Jerusalem that any subsequent negotiations will yield only certain death for the Jews. Of course the Palestinian people shouldn't be blowing themselves up in Israeli shopping malls. That goes without saying for every decent human being on this planet. It's just that in a fight over traditional homeland such as this one, it's good to keep in mind who was displaced to allow for the fight in the first place.

P.S.- I'm hoping to see "Munich" real soon so I'm sure I'll have more to say about this later...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Revisiting the Role of Government

Ron Paul writes a good piece for the Free Liberal. It just serves as a good reminder of where the burden of proof lies:
The administration assures us that domestic surveillance is done to protect us. But the crucial point is this: Government assurances are not good enough in a free society. The overwhelming burden must always be placed on government to justify any new encroachment on our liberty. Now that the emotions of September 11th have cooled, the American people are less willing to blindly accept terrorism as an excuse for expanding federal surveillance powers. Conservatives who support the Bush administration should remember that powers we give government today will not go away when future administrations take office.
Yes, so let's assume that Bush is in fact honoring Americans civil liberties and is choosing to not spy on us (this is just a hypothetical, we all know the truth now). What happens when someone comes into office that really wants to test the limits of the law? Have you heard anyone put it in this way before? This is the first time I've been reminded of the fact that we have to look to the future when making this kind of legislation. Maybe I've been thinking Bush is going to crown himself emperor before we have that chance...

Oh and while we're not exactly to the point of total state dominance, let's just all take a refresher in what the word fascism means:
Fascism exalts the nation, state, or race as superior to the individuals, institutions, or groups composing it. Fascism uses explicit populist rhetoric; calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness; and demands loyalty to a single leader, often to the point of a cult of personality.
...Demands the loyalty of the individual because of the superiority of the states. State over people, the nation above humanity... That does not describe my country. The burden of proof is on my government.

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