April 2009


As much as this blog tends to appear enamored with run-on sentences and the beauty of political ranting, and as much as we have supported long-winded arguments over the months we have existed on the web, I feel compelled to make this post short and to the point for two reasons: one, it is about Rush Limbaugh, and this is never a topic on which it pleases me to dwell. Two, the matter at hand is important enough not to call for a pseudo-witty introductive commentary.

Shane Murphy was second-in-command on one of the ships Somali pirates took hostage last month. Shortly released and interviewed about his newfound freedom, Murphy was quick to point out his anger and frustration at the well-known überconservative commentator. Murphy didn’t rant at length about his captivity and was smart enough to withhold any sidenote on the event that led to his rapture, even though much ink and saliva was spilled over it. The situation in Somalia is dire and requires international help, something Murphy is more than aware of. Sadly, Murphy’s intervention also underlines Limbaugh’s complete incompetence in the matters of social and political analysis. Experience might never match knowledge.

Pirates, you got the wrong guy. Take this one instead! Love, The World.

Pirates, you got the wrong guy. Take this one instead! Love, The World.

See, Limbaugh thought accurate and perhaps even legitimate, in that sick and twisted empty brain of his, to try to explain President Obama’s alleged preoccupied face at church the week prior. The fact that the President of the most indebted western country in the world might be indeed preoccupied by the mounting piles of work on his desk seems to escape him. The fact that Barack Obama has recently been touring the world trying to mend the gaping holes in the trust European and Asian countries had in the American market may not have registered in Limbaugh’s brain, which stopped and stalled at the racial identity of the new President. This says a lot about the current average IQ in the country. According to Limbaugh, Obama was preoccupied by the Somali pirates. “He was worried about the order he had given to wipe out three teenagers on the high seas,” Limbaugh said. “Black Muslim teenagers.”

Murphy added that Rush had to “get with us or against us here”, using a rhethoric Limbaugh might be unfortunately way too familiar with. “The president did the right thing…It’s a war…. It’s about good versus evil. And what you said is evil. It’s hate speech. I won’t tolerate it.” Despite the manichean approach to the conflict, Limbaugh has it in for his unwanted, unrequited, uncalled for archaic racism: when even the Bush Doctrine can’t come to the rescue of the conservatives, you know it’s time to pack up and leave for the middle-eastern/south asian totalitarian regime that’s been waiting for you to PR all along.

When Michelle Obama commented that she was finally proud to be an American, some dared commenting on how unpatriotic that line could sound- I wonder how un-American Rush Limbaugh does sound when the only banner under which he can rally in terms of war and human objectification for ransom, like Shane Murphy has gone through, is of century-old human rights violations, purposeless offense, pointless analysis and downright ignorant speech.  Such a waste of breath won’t go unnoticed. This is hopefully likely to stain Limbaugh’s unfrequentable face for a long time.

Even some financially comfortable people sometimes need money, but often their imagination is helping them find a more dignified outlet to their bank woes than what we common folk generally do – take a deep breath and walk into our nearest bank begging, crying and rolling ourselves on the tile floor for another credit we know is going to be a burden in our student loans and home mortgage. But God had mercy on the financially secure and gave them cocktail fundraisers, where nice people dressed in nice clothes will share a nice small talk over nice refreshments discussing charity work in the name of an obscure company. The same applies to the regular political fundraiser. Until today, I had always thought this was the reason why appletinis even existed.

Hilary Clinton is always one to break the rules. She could have hosted the first spring barbecue of the district of Columbia, or have served frappuccinos made with fair trade coffee she directly imported from Columbia. She could have partied in New York with socially inclined people willing to donate in the name of her campaign. Wait, the campaign is now over – but Hilary Clinton still desperately needs money. The former First Lady owes a hefty $2.3 million for her run in the Democratic Party nomination. And there’s no one left to turn to – not even Madoff, who’s no longer offering rolls of cash to needy people, due to unforeseen circumstances.

Hilary and Bill Clinton, back when such outfits were legally allowed. (no, there is no Photoshop).

Hilary and Bill Clinton, back when such outfits were legally allowed. (no, there is no Photoshop).

In times of need, sell what you know is always useful to people. Hilary Clinton is therefore entering the date auction game, also extremely popular in universities, but not with her – no – with her famous husband Bill. For a mere fiver, you earn the possibility to enter a draw, one of the prizes being a date with the former President of the United States. (according to the source, other prizes are tickets to the finale of American Idol, and a lunch in the capital city with Democratic strategist James Carville). Carville himself is the mastermind behind this wonderful idea, since Mrs Clinton, now a government official, is banned from fundraising. Previous work from Mark Penn helped Clinton’s debt shrink from $25 to $2, but those are still a couple of million weighing heavily on the Secretary of State’s shoulders.

Anyone has a fiver to spare?

When all else fails, try Texas.

See, I have been fighting hard for years against stereotypes, but Texas constantly fails to uphold my equality opportunities values and reaffirms its unique world view with such admirable persistance I can not help but put down the arms and declare myself won over.

Rick Perry is not just any governor. See, he’s the hands-on kind. He’s the one who firmly believe in the supremacy of his own state and its unprecedented ability to provide new rules to live by – and spawn specific rulers to create said rules. Rick Perry now has enough of Barack Obama, after three months, and is not afraid to say so. By “not afraid” I mean that Rick Perry has apparently released a call for secession.

In short: Rick Perry has decided to get on board with the Republican teabaggers and denounces the “oppression” of the current goverment, that he believes is “intrusive in the life of citizens” and “interferes” with the affairs of Texas (a federal government getting invested in the affairs of one of its states? say it ain’t so!) In words that he should have perhaps chosen a little more carefully, Governor Perry is basically accusing the Obama Administration to … stage a coup: “Texans need to ask themselves a question. Do they side with those in Washington who are pursuing this unprecendented expansion of power, or do they believe in individual rights and responsibilities laid down in our foundational documents.” Either Perry just woke up after a five-year nap, or it is simply a pot calling kettle situation of sheer, utter and unmatched absurd hilarity.

Perry continues in speaking up for what he believes is the majority of Texans:

We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas. That’s what this press conference, that’s what these Texans are standing up for. There is a point in time where you stand up and say enough is enough, and I think Americans, and Texans especially have reached that point.

Interesting how Perry says about Washington what most of us have always thought about Texas itself.

What’s even more interesting is that we have yet to know what Rick is going to do now they have “reached that point”, now he has claimed that “enough is enough”. Is he going to declare Texas’ independance? Is he going to petition Texas for a return to Mexico? Is he going to claim allegiance to the British Crown? Will he seek the restoration of the Confederate States? Tune in, because I believe Governor Rick Perry is definitely onto something.

The duty of a President is to protect his population from harm. A lawful and legitimate government can not go through the strife of imposing war and conflict on its population and must do whatever it takes to resolve the issues, promote peace and understanding, mediation and coexistence. In a world slowly shifting towards the most belligerent side of the balance, where violence seems to emerge from each side of the globe, every initiative for peace must be encouraged and celebrated as a proof of commitment to ancient ideals of humanism and enlightment. However, compromise is all about how much you are ready to give up in order to receive – and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will learn it the hard way.

President Ali-Zardari: living under the gun.

President Ali-Zardari: living under the gun.

Taliban militants have been brutalizing and propagating violence in the Swat Valley for the last two years. Ali-Zardari, who has always shown a keen interest in collaborating with the United States in the fight against fundamentalism to the point of allowing the US Army to build a base in Pakistan, now has his own rock and a hard place to find himself in. To his defense, Ali-Zardari tried to resist violence, pressure, boycott and lobby for as long as he could, claiming no agreement would ever be signed unless peace was first restored to Swat: but once his Parliament found itself under pressure, the debate over agreeing to the Taliban’s demands eventually took place. Their request to implement Islamic (ch’aria) law in the valley was then considered by lawmakers, this against Ali-Zardari’s will.

The National Assembly voted in favour of the deal in a huge landslide, democratically backing Ali-Zardari’s signature, even if most lawmakers knew they were under severe pressure from Taliban spokesperson. Only one party boycotted the vote. The Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, said the “whole nation was united in support” of this deal, as judges trained in Islamic law were already set to start hearing cases on Monday. Despite the seemingly common agreement on the fact it might speed up the justice process and create a smoother and unified legal system in Pakistan, opponents to the deal firmly believe it is only a surrender to the Talibans and abandon to the face of their violence. Mahmood Shah, a security officer in Northwest Pakistan, believes Ali-Zardari only succombed to the pressure after the Talibans applied more violence to the Swat Valley only days before the vote was supposed to take place in the Parliament. “They have really forced the government to do that”, he told Yahoo!News. Lawmakers belonging to anti-Taliban party Muttahida Quami, based in the south of Karachi, will not say whether they will later be targeted by the Taliban for being outspoken in their refusal to acknowledge the new deal. The Talibans might accuse them of abandoning Islam, a claim that can result in the death penalty in some parts of the Islamic world. Upholding the rule of law in a courageous yet deadly move, Farooq Sattar, walking out of the Parliament during the voting session, said he would not accept a change “at gunpoint”.

If Pakistan otherwise shows a willingness to help the United States and the overall Western world – they have arrested another suspect in the Mumbai attack and acknowledged that a considerable part of the plan was conceived on Pakistani territory – this law deal is infuriating Western lawmakers, who see this as a further foray by the Talibans that could help them tighten their grasp in Afghanistan. If US Senator John Kerry recently visited Pakistan in a bid to increase the foreign aid to their intelligence service, it is unclear whether Al-Zardari Faustian deal will put a strain on the long-term cooperation between the United States and Pakistan, an ally that has proved priceless in their relentless quest to put the Talibans off rail in Afghanistan. One thing is for sure, the quality of life in Pakistan has declined several degrees the moment the Talibans took hold of the Swat Valley. Modernity, progress and human rights have retreated into the mountains and are not likely to come back.

The land of the free and home of the braves has been fighting a long-lasting war no one knows if they’re ever going to win: no, this is not about Iraq (for once), it’s about a stranger in a strange land. It’s about our God-protected, world infamous and almost-imperialistic-again American being awash in evil. Wow, and here I was thinking that Amazon was simply being stupid.

Happy Easter, James! Love, educated people.

Happy Easter, James! Love, educated people.

Now, if you focus a little more on such strong religious rhetoric, you do not have such a long list of suspects. It’s either Rick Warren, the AFA, or George W. Bush trying to be awash in ennui and confusing different speeches in different locals. But as it often appears to be the case when absurdity is meeting medieval times at a political crossroads, Focus on the Family’ former chairman James Dobson is responsible for this insult to our collective intelligence. Resigning from the position, Dobson claims that his organization has lost the “culture war” against the internet. Yes, in 2009, this is a discourse that is accepted as normal and regular in some circles, which probably says a lot about the level of education in North America. Dobson is however realistic when he confesses that “humanly speaking”, whatever this is referring to, “we have lost”.

Lost what against whom, you might ask? The culture war against us godless heathens is what. Focus on the Family reckons that the internet has managed to campaign against their morals and values in a way they couldn’t possibly match.  Dobson explains: “[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?”

A more modern translation of this speech could go as follows: “we managed to rope modernity in throughout the 80s, but then we moved onto the 90s, the internet came along, people had access to information, a Democrat [Bill Clinton] came into office, and all of our hard work went away, and now we are buried deep under a foot-thick blanket of educated people trying to push us now. Humanly speaking, we are still the lowest of the low, but God is in control, so we can stick around for as long as our annual fundraisers allow us to, yes?”

Blaming their descent from respectable lobbying group into hardcore evangelistical doomsday preachers on Bill Clinton is a little far-fetched, but everyone will find a way to agree on the incredible role Google and political blogs have played in the downfall of right-wing fundamentalists. From a greater, easier and faster access to fact-checked information, to the role played by universities and schools into propagating their newfound knowledge on social networking sites, it becomes easily understandable that Dobson and his brethrens were outdone by a fair mile on that fight he believes is not over yet. Granted, we still have Disney and the Jonas Brothers to show us the right way, but at least, the current President in office has made sure we wouldn’t have to book a ticket to Romania in order to abort in peace. At least for the time being. Like any decimating pandemic in history, Focus on the Family might well rise again from its ashes, with another more internet-savvy leader, spreading creationist one-liners on Twitter and buying amazon.com stock.

Yes, humanly speaking, we may have pushed James Dobson out of his chair, but for as long as science, education and knowledge are on our side, we may have to continue fighting for our intelligence, rights, and open-mindedness to win this fight we had started a very long time ago – Enlightenement deserves its name. It’s time we claim it back.

2009 is only in its fourth month and already drowning us in a sea of complete and utter absurdity. Oscar Wilde’s infamous words that once decorated this blog’s header  – “if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you” – have been slightly derided to become a motto closer to the real zeitgeist, something along the lines of “if you want to make people laugh, tell them the truth, because lies have already become facts and there is only room left for jokes.” Sad times indeed, fortunately enough the world is set to come to an end in 2012.

Some of this stupidity comes from the general division between your average “liberal”, as in, technically passive, actively non-plussed, and generally regular voter who would support any Democrat candidate out of habit, reads the New York Times every other day out of habit, and feels a monthly surge of anger at the rampant injustice in Africa out of habit. We all know those people, we all went to school with them, and after several unfruitful weeks/months/years, check what applies to your patience level, we have come to stop trying to transform them into a supposedly better and bigger breed of liberals: us, the “angry liberals”, the ones who burn their pancake calories by marching down the street at every anti-war protest, the ones writing endless blogs about the decline of social commitment within the Democratic party, those losing their hair over voting for Ralph Nader, in short, half-assed activists who could really use a little reality check before getting their word in. Angry liberals have never made decent activists for the simple reason they’re angry out of habit, yell at each other out of habit, and kick the indifferent ass of the aforementioned regular liberal out of habit. This is all severely lacking in ideology to the point it has become pointless to the political scene.

Rahm Emanuel: hell shut you up. oh yes he will.

Rahm Emanuel: he'll shut you up. oh yes he will.

However, real activists, those who gave the Bush Administration nightmares and have been severely targeted by the Texan’s restriction on civil liberties – people from MoveOn, CAP, etc. – are now being the White House’ publicists, an experienced and overeager tool for public relations towards the little remaining skeptics of the Obama Administration. The Huffington Post’s Jeremy Scahill is unambiguous in his point: for him, if war was unacceptable and a constant threat to the american people under Bush, it is now perfectly fine to push for escalation in Afghanistan, because Barack Hussein Obama said so.  Scahill details: “CAP [Center for American Progress, NdlR] has been actively pounding the pavement in support of the escalation in Afghanistan, the rebranding of the Iraq occupation and, more recently, Obama’s bloated military budget, which the group said was “on target.”

Ouch.

Has the Obama-mania gone so far into every liberal’s head we are now selling our hard-earned beliefs for the price of a cheese plate? Or has ideologies shifted towards a “better than worst” political attitude that finds justification in the name of a long lost dream – that of a trusted leadership? Scahill is not having any of it, and believes MoveOn is simply just another bunch of White House staffers with an agenda, a schedule, and a project to sell. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI) was one of the new born organizations who spent without counting in order to push Iraq against the Republicans during the campaign, but refused at the same time to pressure and lobby the Democratic Congress – as they should – to cut off funding for the war. Playing on both sides is proof that Karl Rove did not just appeal to the neo-con side of the table, but indeed gave lessons to everyone in matters of hypocrisy, lies and deceit. But what if MoveOn had simply watered down its plan and rationalized Obama’s military strategy and taken it for what it was –  a decision that has to be made? Justifications for the war in Iraq have quickly fade within the year following Desert Storm, but I can bet you the remains of my right leg it won’t be too hard to find a decent rationale behind Afghanistan and the need for a stronger American presence, reinforced and backed up by European contingents (as Obama requested during his rock-star tour of Western Europe last week). The question remains asked as to whether MoveOn and CAP’s former anti-war pamphlets can still be associated and sold along their current pro-Afghanistan rhetoric without sounding like weathervanes in tornadoes.

Here Sustainable Security walks in. This new theory, implemented by your brand new administration, is upholding the values of peace-building and Soldier’s Creed – values, honors, ethics, protection, and the supremacy of the rule of law, walking hand in hand with the protection of national interest and world security. This is the War on Terror with a more trendy vocabulary, fashionable colors and flags, popular support, and even the approval of human rights leagues. Sustainable security means reminding Israel of Annapolis, being firmly convinced that Iraq will one day able to become self-determined, and re-affirming one’s commitment to non-proliferation. It’s a solar system away from Bush’s hardcore and obscene speeches on the necessity to draw blood to fight evil, his Crusade-themed parties at the Pentagon and regular occurances of torture scandals. Barack Obama brought modernity to the White House, but no matter how you sugarcoat it, war is still what it is: a killing machine, with civilian victims on the sidelines. We’re still happy to award points for respecting the Geneva Convention, but truth of the matter is, not having to remind anyone of the silent disaster a war brings on the involved countries and their respective population would be the best policy ever implemented.

Yes, we had relied on those think-tankers to push forward the agenda we were a little bit too fragile and too shocked to announce by ourselves. Yes, we have trusted them to be the anti-war voice for whatever it takes – but are we ready to keep on fighting someone we elected so as to not fight anymore? The answer should be a tough, unambiguous, block-lettered yes. There is no democracy without fight, and there is certainly no legitimacy without a proper opposition. Jeremy Scahill may be raining on everyone’s Obamaparade,  but he is doing so with the help of Politico’s Ben Smith, who recently reported on the very down-and-dirty relationship between those organizations and Rahm Emanuel, all regrouped in the same Common Purpose Project bed: “The Common Purpose meeting every Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Hilton brings together the top officials from a range of left-leaning organizations, from labor groups like Change to Win to activists like MoveOn.org, all in support of the White House’s agenda. The group has an overlapping membership with a daily 8:45 a.m. call run by the Center for American Progress’ and Media Matters’ political arms; with the new field-oriented coalition Unity ’09; and with the groups that allied to back the budget as the Campaign to Rebuild and Renew America Now.”

Smith insists that Common Purpose is meant to enforce a “message discipline”, which is a coalition of words slightly too close to propaganda for comfort. “Angry liberals” trying to call more traditional liberals ones on their bullshit, like it happened before, like we described in the first paragraphs, are kept on a tight leash in order to make sure no big names are caught in the midst of the battle. Recently, a liberaliest-than-thou association asked to “Dog the Blue Dog” as a campaign against conservative Democrats, supposedly hindering the Change We Can Believe In in a desperate attempt to make change a little less… changing. In what could have been an interesting inner challenge prompting debate and progress, the White House interfered – Smith explains: “[The White House] was in the midst of discussions with members of the congressional Blue Dog caucus, and objected to the slogan, which was promptly changed, and the page describing the drive is gone from CAF [Campaign for America’s Future, a participant in the Common Purposes calls]’s website.”

It’s one thing to vote, but now that you’ve won, please sit down, boy, we don’t need any more of that violent and vehement vaucus. It’s all in good fun when your candidate is thrown out to the Republican dogs to eat and destroy, but it is less enthralling when you are actually trying to push your own agenda in the hands of those you helped get there in the first place. So, is MoveOn eating from Rahm Emanuel’s hand like there’s a cookie in it? Hamsher concludes: “There’s a big problem right now with the traditional liberal interest groups sitting on the sidelines around major issues because they don’t want to buck the White House for fear of getting cut out of the dialogue, or having their funding slashed. Someone picks up a phone, calls a big donor, and the next thing you know…the money is gone. It’s already happened. Because that’s the way Rahm plays.”

The only choice left is to become even angrier.

Writing about Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter is never easy on the soul and the mind. It is a gradually regressive exercize that requires extreme self-control and all the remains of christian compassion one could possibly muster in this day and age. It came to the point when one finds themselves wishing they had never appeared on the political sphere in the first place, even if this means reducing the number of leading women in politics. Better have nothing than having to resort to Elizabeth Hasselbeck-type of rhethoric. Safe in Angela Merkel’s shadow, we retreated in our safe european home, until Israel shows us the new way to get rid of unwanted women: just take them out!

Mind you, we’re not talking about murder sprees, but rather the subtle and modern use of Photoshop. Two women have made their way into the new coalition government led by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. This wasn’t to the delight of ultra-conservative audiences,  catered to by daily publication Yater Neeman, which simply erased Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver from the picture.  According to Jewish orthodox morale, pictures of women are just “immodest”. To hell with all of those arrogant women who dared working their way into a government!  Yater Neeman moved two male ministers instead, a more politically correct vision of what an official government picture should look like.  Shaa Tova, a weekly publication, was a little less subtle and just blacked them out, hereby implying that one would rather not have any regalian functions inside a government than having women overseeing them. Said holed-up picture was reprinted the following week by more mainstream daily newspaper Maariv.

Tzipi Livni, campaigning against Netanyahu, saw her campaign posters constantly defaced. Next time her press relations advisor will probably use a Little Miss Lucky hand-drawn picture instead, in order to preserve Israel’s level of morality and commitment to modernity, equality, and basic human rights.

before....

before and after

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