Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Taking Comfort In His Voice...

As I read about the ongoing clashes between our world and the Muslim world, I'm reminded of what a wise man once said:

"The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas-a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated."

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Ronald Reagan's words, as relevent now as they ever were. It only goes to show that the fight nevers ends, it's just your enemies that change. I wonder what he would say if he were here having to deal with all of this.

I miss his leadership, I miss his strength.

Most of all, I miss his certainty that we would always prevail.

I think we could use some of that right now.

Christians Retaliate In Nigeria

The Cartoon Protests have reached Nigeria.

Sectarian violence first erupted Saturday in the northern city of Maiduguri, where Muslim protests against cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad turned violent, razing 30 churches and claiming the lives of 18 people, mostly Christians.

It seems the Christians aren't turning the other cheek on this one.

In Onitsha, residents and witnesses said two mosques were burned down and least 30 people were killed Tuesday, most of them northern Muslims. Several local newspapers reported between 30 and 35 dead. Thousands of Muslims with origins in the north fled to the military barracks in the city.

Christian mobs attacked Muslims and their businesses in Onitsha Tuesday in reprisal against violence in Maiduguri and Bauchi, which like most of northern Nigeria, are dominated by Muslims. Onitsha, like most of the south, is dominated by Christians.

So what do Nigerian Christians have to do with a bunch of cartoons published in a Danish newspaper? Nothing, but that doesn't mean we can't just trump something up:

Bauchi Governor Adamu Muazu said on local television on Tuesday night the violence was fueled by allegations a Christian school teacher had desecrated the Quran. He said the allegations proved unfounded.

I have just one word for this.


No more denouncing the violence, no more seeing both sides of the debate, no more "free speech but with respect". No more rationalizing behavior by endlessly repeating "it's not all Muslims, it's just a small group of radicals". As far as I'm concerned, if the alleged "non-radical" segment of the Muslim population won't make any effort to forcibly control their own, why should the rest of us have to tolerate them?

How long are we going to continue rocking back and forth, humming to ourselves and hoping that common sense prevails? How long are we going to keep looking the other way while they use every conceivable "offense" - both real and manufactured - to whittle away at our way of life. We go on and on about Muslims integrating themselves into our societies, yet we refuse to see that we are, in fact, being assimilated into theirs.

So if someone decides to fight fire with fire, I have no problem with that. And if that fire just happens to be engulfing one of their precious much the better.

Are we headed towards a war between cultures? Baby, we're already there!

And that's fine with me.

There is a peace that can only be found on the other side of war.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Now That's Some Quality Discourse

I came across this post by Arianna Huffington, commenting on this past Sunday's Meet the Press. I actually watched it myself, which is a rarity; usually, my Sundays start with Fox News Sunday. I was interested to read Arianna's take on this week's panel, although I had my suspicions going in. What I got, however, far exceeded my expectations.

Just to set the tone of the piece, the title of the post is Russert Watch: The Mary Matalin Horror Show. And just in case we the readers' can't adequately envision the horror that is Mary Matalin, Arianna helps us out with this:

Now that is some Class A commentary, Arianna!

The panel's focus was the Dick Cheney hunting accident. Obviously, Mary was there as an advocate for the Vice-President, and I think she did her job reasonably well. Arianna, of course, did not. So what was it about Mary that worked Arianna into such a...well...huff?

Well, apparently it was her wardrobe.

Arianna begins her post by channeling Mr. Blackwell and giving a review of Mary's attire:

Let's start with the unavoidable: what was she wearing? First, the brooch. Or was it a sculpture? Or was it perhaps some bizarre new NSA listening device? It was so, well, there, that hard as you tried you could not avert your eyes from it.

And then there was the black Asian pajama top to match the black eye makeup and the scarlet red nails to match the scarlet red lips. It was impossible to watch her without thinking of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty.

Likening Mary's brooch to an NSA listening devise was a nice touch. You know, that's the key to quality snark - make it issue-oriented. I'll admit that Mary's brooch was a bit...BIG. Still, to each his own.

From there, Arianna goes into a rather lifeless recap of Mary's appearance, running through each main talking point and countering with the left's standard questions again and again. Honestly, the story has been hashed and rehashed so many times I could do a Point/Counterpoint segment all by myself. The only thing that really caught my eye was this part of the post:

Then there was her shock -- unintentionally revealing -- that the vice president is expected to abide by such plebeian considerations as "rules" -- indeed "conventional rules":

"The problem with these rules," she said, "is that they're presumed to be inviolate. This vice president, who is logical and who is human, was not following the conventional rule, but he wasn't doing anything that was irrational, that's for sure."

Here, Arianna appears to be calling Mary out on her assertion that "the rules" somehow don't apply to Dick Cheney - a favorite accusation of the left these days. The question is what rules? Mary was referring to the "rules" (if in fact there are any) for reporting to and informing the public whenever something happens. She points out, correctly in my opinion, that there were circumstances that took precedence over getting to a phone and calling the White House press corp. Arianna, however, makes it sound like Mary supports the notion that Cheney is somehow "above the law" or "answerable to no one".

Arianna goes on to touch on the other members of the panel - David Gregory, Maureen Dowd, and Paul Gigot - but you can tell she really shot her venom wad on Mary. She slams David Gregory's apology for losing his cool with Scott McClellan, which is too bad because I though that apology went a long way towards reintroducing some civility into the debate.

Arianna really doesn' t mention Paul Gigot, although he was advocating an end to the hoopla over what is essentially a "non-story". Of course, Arianna fawns over Maureen Dowd, once again equating political savvy with fashion sense:

Classy, in a silk beige top and pale fingernails, she did not rise to the bait even when Matalin called her "the diva of the smart set."

Despite her snappy togs, I couldn't get past how sleepy Maureen looked. I'll admit I never really see her on anything, but do her eyes always droop that way?

Anyway, since Arianna likes dissecting the fashion hits and misses of today's hottest pundits, maybe they'll institute red carpet coverage at the next State of the Union address. It's either that, or Arianna can become the political correspondent for Go Fug Yourself.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bryant Gumble And The Olympics

On a recent episode of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumble, Gumble made the following comment:

“Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them … Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention..."

Many are calling for Gumble to be punished or even terminated for what are perceived to be "racist" comments.

Were they? No. Gumble, despite his self-righteous smugness, was only stating a fact - there aren't a lot of blacks at your typical GOP covention because blacks don't align themselves with the GOP in any significant numbers.

Still, it feels like he's saying, "there are no blacks because you guys are racist". I mean, that's what it all comes down to, isn't it? The feelings these kind of comments invoke?

Throughout the right side of the Blogosphere, the inevitable comparisons:

"What if Bill O'Reilly said he didn't want to watch the NBA game because it looked like a Compton Swap Meet?"

"Certainly Gumble would have been canned had he been white and made some remark about how the NBA looks like the dining hall in a Louisiana state prison."

"What is someone said the Super Bowl looked like the DNC Convention?"

Yeah, you know exactly "what if?" Still, you kind of wish someone would take up the challenge and put it to the test, don't you? If only for the chance to point out the double standard.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

David Gregory's Mea Culpa (Sort Of)

David Gregory, everyone's favorite "angry young man" reporter, explains his behavior at the press gaggle where he lost it with Scott McClellan. Writing on NBC's "Daily Nightly" blog, David shares his thoughts on what his role is in the great political experiment we call Democracy:

I'm in the business of getting information -- as much of it as possible. The public and I don't always get as much as I think we deserve, but I keep trying. I also try to demand straight answers. Covering politicians, I have to work harder to get them.

Wait, wait, there's more...

The pursuit of information at the White House is often tense. We push hard for it. Maybe you think we pushed too hard in this case. Maybe you think there was no grave harm in waiting to learn the facts of this incident for a few days. I can accept that. The way we do our business is not always pretty and we should be accountable for that. I happen to believe, however, on balance,
our dogged pursuit of lots of information, all the time, is a good thing.

Thank God we have heroic journalists like David Gregory looking out for the little people, asking the questions they think need to be asked...whether we want them to or not.

David Gregory...he's good for America!

Color Blind

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I despise reality tv. I mean I absolutely loathe it. To me, the entire genre is a gold plated example of the widespread dumbing down of America's sensibilities. Legions of fans watching shows which are touted as being "real" but which are anything but - that makes no sense to me. Now, the makers of reality tv openly admit that "some" of what viewers see is staged. Fans, accepting that "reality" is more of a suggestion rather than a requirement, point to the average show's conflicts as the major draw while avoiding the greater reality that the very "conflict" they crave is most likely staged. At that point, what's the difference between a badly staged reality show and a well-scripted tv drama? If the average reality show is any indication, the difference is

1. T & A
2. bleeped out tirades
3. hot tubs, hot tubs, hot tubs!

All of this is a roundabout way of bringing me to the latest reality offering, FX Networks "Black.White." The show's official website doesn't seem to be working, but this AP article gives a good overview of the show:

LOS ANGELES - When writer John Howard Griffin turned his skin from white to dark and traveled the South in 1959 for a firsthand look at the depths of racism, he relied on a simple medical treatment and his wits.

In the 21st century, such a journey requires Hollywood makeup wizardry, the well-honed conventions of both reality TV and documentary filmmaking, and two families, one black, one white, acting as undercover race detectives in Southern California.

Although I'm not going to be too critical of a tv show which hasn't even aired yet, I think it's fair to say I already have some trepidation about this particular offering. For starters, I think the state of race relations in America is too charged an issue to be explored in a reality tv format. With their penchant for manufacturing conflict for the sake of conflict, will the producers eschew responsibility for the sake of "good television"?

Cutler insisted the six-episode show, which begins March 8 on FX, doesn’t “aspire in any way to say definitive things about race.” But the participants and their actions do.

That's what I'm afraid of. My fear is the show will simply rehash age old stereotypes and racial cliches in order to give it's audience what they crave - drama. My question is, just how honest will that drama be? I'm not so naive as to think that white America - through their television proxies - won't be schooled on the realities of racism both subtle and gross. However, if this topic is to be explored honestly, then there should be lessons in store for black America as well. If generalizing about a race is wrong, then it's wrong no matter what color you are.

I'm trying to keep an open mind about "Black.White.", despite my prejudice against reality tv. So, even though I hate the thought of watching anything even loosely associated with the genre, I'll probably watch "Black.White." and hope it will actually have something constructive to say.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Press Conference (alternate ending)

Mr. Vice President, is it true
Mr. Wittington was just the
latest casualty in your quest
for global domination?

You guys are making me angry...

You wouldn't like me when
I'm angry...



And we all lived happily ever after...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Press Conference (Version 1)

Okay, I'm ready to take some
questions from the press.

Vice-President Cheney, is it true
you asked for a "do over" when you
realized Mr. Wittington survived your
first shot?

That is an absurd question. Next?

Mr. Vice President, is it true
that, after gunning Mr. Wittington
down, you moisturized your skin
with his still warm blood?

This is absolutely outrageous!
Next question!

Mr. Vice President, isn't it true
that Mr. Wittington was merely
the latest victim in your quest for
global domination?!

(hee hee hee)

What's Good For the Goose...

Vice-President Cheney accidentally shot his friend over the weekend, but news of the incident was not reported to the press until eighteen hours later. Now, the Press Corp (and some Democrats - trust me, it's the usual suspects) are complaining - a lot - that the public should have been made aware much sooner. After all, the public has a right to know.

Or do they?

Senate Minority Leader Reid Had Mild Stroke
Friday, August 19, 2005

Asked why announcement of the event was delayed for three days, [Reid press secretary Tessa]Hafen said, "The reason was the tests and the evaluations that they were doing. We wanted to make sure we knew what we were announcing. You need conclusive information."

I know what you're thinking - Harry Reid is just a senator. Dick Cheney is the Vice-President. Granted, but I think it's interested that the reason given for delaying the release of information is the same one given by Cheney.

Okay, how about this one...

Memo Links First Lady To Handling Of Suicide Note
August 27, 1996

The same day Hillary Clinton was scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention, newly released documents suggest she was behind the 30-hour delay in releasing late White House counsel Vincent Foster's suicide note to authorities.

Oh really?

The newly released memo, written by White House lawyer Miriam Nemetz, quotes then-White House chief of staff Mack McLarty as saying Mrs. Clinton "was very upset and believed the matter required further thought and the president should not yet be told" about Foster's note.

According to the document, Mrs. Clinton "said they should have a coherent position and should have decided what to do before they told the president."

That Hillary...always such a little helper!

Republicans have been baffled over why the president wasn't told about Foster's note for 30 hours when the first lady knew about it immediately.

It's a good thing Republicans were baffled about it, because no one seemed to be.

My, how times change!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Time For Another David Gregory Meltdown

Hey! Don't act like a jerk
just because I'm asking a
legitimate question! I'll calm
down when I want to, now
answer me - when were we
going to be told?

Dude, we just ran out of
fries a few minutes ago.
We're making more now!
Just chill, man!

Don't fuck with Dave!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You Want Fries With That, Infidel?

Source: AP

Lahore, Pakistan: Muslim protesters set fire to a McDonalds restaurant on Tuesday, claimed that offering the McRib for a limited time only was "the real terrorism".

I Said I Wanted White Meat, Infidel!

Source: AP

Lahore, Pakistan: Muslims protesters burn Kentucky Fried Chicken to the ground; protesters ordered extra crispy, were given original recipe instead - claimed it was an "insult to Islam".

Monday, February 13, 2006

Previously On 24

You're the President of the United States. Chechen terrorists have acquired 20 canisters of weaponized nerve gas and are preparing to release it in the U.S. The terrorists have one canister set to release in a shopping mall - a field test, you see. Perhaps 900 lives will be lost if that canister goes off. You have agents in place who can stop the release. But...

But if you do stop the release, you may lose your only lead to the remaining nineteen canisters. If those get released, you're looking at a body count in the hundreds of thousands.

So that's the choice. Do you sacrifice 900, or do you risk killing hundreds of thousands?

Like I said, you're the President; it's you decision. Now, show me where in the Constitution it tells you how to handle this situation.


Some Things Just Need To Be Said

Okay, I'll make this quick, since I have other stuff to do and can't really blog right now. Believe me, I will revisit this issue later tonight when I have more time.

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot someone in a hunting accident over the weekend. The person who was shot, a friend of Cheney's, is in "very stable" condition in a Texas hospital.

The thing now is that the Press is questioning why Cheney didn't notify them until eighteen hours after the incident (actually, Cheney never informed the press; the owner of the ranch where the accident occured notified the local paper).

Frank James, a reporter in the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, asks, "How is it that Vice President Cheney can shoot a man, albeit accidentally, on Saturday during a hunting trip and the American public not be informed of it until today?"

Okay, prepare yourselves, because here comes my off-the-cuff, knee-jerk, top-of-my-head reaction to this whole "incident":






God, I'm so sick of all of this shit...

Thank you for listening...I feel a little bit better now.

The Gorebot Speaks

I have a problem with Al Gore, and it's not just his politics. There's just something...not right about the guy. You can see it in his face. Maybe the whole "never getting to be President" thing has finally gotten to him. Keep in mind, Al's been pining for the Oval Office since 1988; you just know a thing like that has got to eat at a person...

Source: AP

See what I mean?

To me, Al gives the appearance of being a man who is convinced the TV is talking to him, telling him the world was wrong to deny him the presidency. While the rest of the world hears Regis Philbin gush about the latest couple to be voted off of "Skating with the Stars", Al hears Kelly Ripa telling him, "fear not my darling...soon the world will bow down before you!"

That's at least as good an explanation as any for this:

Gore Decries Treatment of Arabs Post 9-11
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.
Al! Do you really think throwing the U.S. under the bus of Mid-East relations is really such a good idea, especially now with the Muslim world already so inflammed? Do you know the meaning of the word "irresponsible"? How about "disloyal"? How about "SHUT UP"?

Why does Al continue to enjoy a spot on the political stage? Why do people continue to care about his take on things? I could understand it if maybe he had actually made it to the White House; as it stands, he's nothing but a wannabe, an also-ran. Still, he's given the opportunity to spew this kind of nonsense:

Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.
Huh? Where was I when they threw up the Arab internment camps to house all of these poor detained Arabs? "Playing into al-Qaida's hands" by blocking Saudi visa applications? How so, Al?
"The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake," Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. "The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States."
So, all but two of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi, but the U.S. is being "thoughtless" by making it tougher for more Saudis to enter the country?

In all seriousness, I get a cold chill when I think how close this idiot came to being in the White House. God only knows what Arab dialect we'd all be speaking by now.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Question of Tolerance

As the sometimes violent protests against the Danish cartoons continue, I've spent some time researching the matter from the Islamic point of view. One site I found,, was pretty informative.

In a discussion on the spirit of tolerance in Islam, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), makes the following statements:

Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. It is a religious moral duty. It does not mean "concession, condescension or indulgence." It does not mean lack of principles, or lack of seriousness about one's principles. Sometimes it is said, "people are tolerant of things that they do not care about." But this is not the case in Islam. Tolerance according to Islam does not mean that we believe that all religions are the same. It does not mean that we do not believe in the supremacy of Islam over other faiths and ideologies. It does not mean that we do not convey the message of Islam to others and do not wish them to become Muslims.

Interesting. So, tolerance is a "basic principle of Islam", but it's not without it's qualifiers. Dr. Siddiqi goes on to say:

Islam emphasizes the establishment of equality and justice, both of these values cannot be established without some degree of tolerance. Islam recognized from the very beginning the principle of freedom of belief or freedom of religion. It said very clearly that it is not allowed to have any coercion in the matters of faith and belief. The Qur'an says, (There is no compulsion in religion) (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

If in the matters of religion, coercion is not permissible, then by implication one can say that in other matters of cultures and other worldly practices it is also not acceptable. In surat Ash-Shura Allah says to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), (If then they turn away, We have not sent you as a guard over them. Your duty is but to convey (the Message)…) (Ash-Shura 42:48). In another place Allah says, (Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. Your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance) (An-Nahl 16:125).

Wait, are we talking about the same religion here? If coercion in "other matters or cultures and other wordly practices" is against the teachings of Islam, then how do you explain this:

Not exactly arguing in ways that are "best and most gracious". Dr. Siddiqi goes on to say:

All these verses give note that Muslims do not coerce people; they must present the message to them in the most cogent and clear way, invite them to the truth and do their best in presenting and conveying the message of God to humanity, but it is up to people to accept or not to accept.

So, what have we learned? First, that tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. Second, that followers of Islam should not coerce non-believers into accepting their faith, but instead simply convey the message of God and allow each person to accept or not accept as they see fit. If these conclusions are to be accepted, then the entire "cartoon jihad" is called into question. Now, I'm willing to accept that an afternoon of reading a website is not the same as a dedicated study of the faith. Also, it's obvious to even the most casual observer that Islam has a LOT of nuances. Still, if Dr. Siddiqi's comments reflect the true nature of Islam, then Muslims have an obligation to respect the Western concept of freedom of the press without trying to qualify it according to their sensibilities. Certainly, burning down embassies, threatening the lives of innocents, and actually killing people would be a violation of Islam's teachings. For that matter, protests and boycotts are definitely coercive and punitive.

Naturally, the incidents of violence are being blamed on radical elements, small in number. To be fair, several Muslim leaders have labeled the violence as being against the teachings of Islam. My question is, if violating one tenet of a religion demands such a forceful response, shouldn't the violation of other tenets demand an equally forceful response?

I Guess No One Wanted Her...

Cindy Sheehan's E-bay auction has been cancelled.

As previously reported, Mama Cindy was auctioning off a personal appearance to raise money for YearlyKos' annual conference. At last check, the bidding was up to $1,275 ( a far cry from her usual $30,000 fee, if reports I've heard are true.)

According to an e-mail posted here, the auction was pulled by E-bay itself, supposedly for violated one or more of their policies. After reading them for myself, I can't imagine what policy the auction could have violated.

Maybe it had something to do with Cindy stating she wouldn't honor the highest bid if it was made by a person or group that didn't agree with her. I have to believe that would be a violation of some E-bay rule.

No News is Good News?

I'm online, checking my news sites to catch up on current events. The Wife is sitting behind me, watching TV.

Wife: Is there any more news about that cartoon thing?

Me: Sure...there's something new every day.

To prove my point, I pull up a nice little post on Jawa Report which shows pictures of protesters about the world. Wife starts to scroll through the post, seeing country after country after country after country...

Wife: ...I haven't seen any of this on the news!"

You don't say...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

How Much is That Cindy in the Window?

You've got to be kidding me!

Michelle Malkin has a link to a page on E-bay where Cindy Sheehan is auctioning herself off to raise money for the YearlyKos conference. From the auction page:

You are bidding on a speaking engagement with Cindy Sheehan. Cindy will come speak to a group of your choice (within the continental US)*, and any speaking fees and transportation costs will be waived (your group will only need to provide lodging for the night).

For those of you who may not be familiar with the exploits of the sainted Mother Sheehan, the auction page provides you with a brief bio:

Cindy Sheehan spent months searching for answers for why her son had to give his life in Iraq, and months traveling across the country wading through the spin and the lies seeking a truth that never came. When enough was at long last enough, Cindy went to Crawford, Texas and sat down

And in that one quiet moment of determination, a ripple of truth became a great river, joined in its journey by the tributaries of thousands of others who could not ignore the simple power of one grieving mother asking, "Why?"

*Sniff*. I'm touched, really I am.

Of course the page has the requisite pictures of Cindy in all her earth-mother, floppy hat, tie-dyed glory. But then, I notice something interesting:

* Note: Because of the obvious potential for right-wing shenanigans, Cindy retains the right to refuse to speak to groups antithetical to her cause or offensive to her beliefs. If no group can be agreed upon, the winning bidder will receive a full refund.

Interesting. So, this raging river of truth, armed with the mystical power of "why?", she who is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive...will only address groups who agree with her?!? No matter how much they might be willing to bid? Yep.

But wait, what if some conservative group, eager for a chance to debate Mighty River Mom on her positions, bids...oh, I don't know...$50,000?

Sorry, True Believers, but that would fall under the category of "right-wing shenanigans" which, much like dreaded kryptonite, renders Mighty River Mom powerless against her reason and sanity.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Political Jabs at Coretta's Funeral

Naturally, the big story here in Atlanta today is the funeral of Coretta Scott King. People began lining up for a chance to attend at 3:00 am; the eventual attendance was around 10,000 mourners. Naturally, dignitaries from all over the country and the world were present, including Presidents current and past, celebrities and performers.

To have watched the proceedings today, it was striking to see how much things have changed in this country. At the time of his death, Martin Luther King was fighting for civil rights for all black Americans. At the time of his death, the country was still very divided as to the merits of his cause. And yet, thirty-eight years later, Coretta Scott King is honored by a grateful nation, by leaders and citizens alike, with love, affection and dignity.

Too bad things didn't stay that way.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The funeral tributes for Coretta Scott King took a twist
toward political rally when the Rev. Joseph Lowery criticized President Bush’s
policies on Iraq and military spending.

Former President Jimmy Carter also took a swipe at the
Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

I can't abide Joseph Lowery. He and his ilk - Jesse Jackson, Congressman John Lewis - the so-called "lieutenants" of MLK have made careers out of capitalizing on Dr. King's good works.

Dr. King rose to meet his destiny and helped change the world. What have the lieutenants done to make the world a better place, other than address real social problems with the same tired platitiudes?

As for Jimmy Carter, for him to cast aspersions on any other President's administration is laughable. But it get's better:

The former president then noted Martin and Coretta King were
“violated” by “government wiretapping and government surveillance,” a thinly
veiled reference to the current administration’s wiretapping program.
Pssst, Jimmy. Who do you suppose authorized those wiretaps against Dr. King?

Guess what? It was Bobby Kennedy, Democrat. Guess why? Cause they thought King might be a communist.

Isn't that just a bit different from President Bush surveilling certain citizens because they might be involved with terrorists?

Actually, you know what? I don't care. I don't care about wiretaps, or WMDs, or Katrina, or winning control of the Congree. For one day, for a few hours, all I wanted to care about was honoring Coretta Scott King's memory. Too bad I didn't get that chance.

Unfortunately for some, politics will forever trump everything else in life. These ghouls will never pass up a chance to posture for the cameras and advance their agendas, no matter how inappropriate the venue.

Have you no shame, gentlemen?

A casket is not a podium.

So This is Respect For Religion?

Previously, I posted about the Catholic priest in Turkey who was shot and killed this past Sunday. Witnesses described a 14 or 15 year old boy running from the scene shouting "Allah Akbar" (God is Great). At the time, it was feared the incident may have been related to the Cartoon violence, but no one could say for sure.

Well, now it's looking like they can.

Michelle Malkin has been covering this incident since the beginning; she links to a Reuters alert which states a suspect has been taken into custody. Unconfirmed reports indicate the student has confessed.

The state Anatolian news agency said the student, aged 16, had been
carrying a 9 mm pistol when he was captured in the Black Sea city of Trabzon,
where Andrea Santoro, 61, was gunned down on Sunday while praying.

Gunned down while praying.


You feel your faith has been denigrated by some static images on paper, so the appropriate response for you is to murder a holy man in the midst of prayer?

Words fail me right now.

The Intellectual Black Hole That is The Bachelor: Paris

Monday night, 10:16 pm. I'm still coming down from this week's episode of 24. The Wife is with me, the remote firmly gripped in her hand. I prepare myself for the inevitable episode of Law & Order: SVU which will surely flash onto the screen at any minute. It's a favorite of hers, and since it's on at all hours of the day and night, it's become the "default" show to watch when there's nothing else on. Thank you very much, USA Network.

No, Wife throws me a curve. Sitting on the floor, looking over the screen of my laptop, a sense of horror grips me as I realize what's on the TV.

The Bachelor in Paris.

Me: Come on, you've got to be kidding me!

Wife: Nope.

Me: Don't tell me you've started watching this?

Wife: I just want to see who gets sent home this week.

The Bachelor is akin to a rip in the space/time continuum of quality television; an intellectual black hole who's gravitational pull is so strong nothing can escape it, not even the light of reason.
If reality tv is a sin, then this show is bonafide blasphemy.

I can actually feel myself geting stupider the longer the show is on. I quickly pull up The American Thinker site, an intelligence booster shot if ever there was one. It's fine, I tell myself, I just won't pay any attention.

I'm halfway through the first post when I hear one of the women tearfully confess that The Bachelor has to pick her since, by virtue of having known him for four weeks, only she can truly know what's best for him.

Me: Oh, give me a break! Quiet, you fool! Don't get sucked in!

I'm perusing some news sites now, catching up on the days events, when I hear The Bachelor conversing with one of the women's parents about the depths of his feelings for their daughter. "I'm completely real" he announces. "There's nothing scripted about me!"

Me: Please! This show is the epitome of scripted! Who believes any of this?!? Stay strong, man, stay strong! DON'T get sucked in!"

Looking at some movie sites now, when I hear the woman and her mother arguing about taking things slooooooow. Woman's just gotten out of a longterm relationship, you see, and Mom thinks her daughter is not ready to jump back into anything. "My feelings for him are REAL!" Woman proclaims with all the passion summer stock-honed acting skills can muster.

Wife: God, her mom's a bitch! She's worse than my mother!

Me: Come on, that's not her mother! She's an ACTOR! This whole thing is fake as hell. You're losing it, man!

I'm ready to shut down the laptop for the night when suddenly, the level of suckitude on the tv screen reaches critical mass.

The Rose Ceremony.

It's like the Thunderdome of the reality tv world, except that here four women enter, one woman leave, and the host is no where near as cool as Aunty Entity. Three of the women gleefully take a rose, a thorny guarantee that their fifteen minutes of fame will continue. The loser gets the bum's rush out the door, tearfully lamenting the loss of true love, but taking solace in the fact that she'll probably make it onto the reunion episode.

I can't hold it in any longer. I begin to hold forth on the idiocy that is reality tv, and how it spells the end of western civilization. And as I do, I realize that I have in fact, despite my best intentions, been sucked in.

Game over man. Game over.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Twenty, Twenty, Twenty Four Hours to Go

Mondays...the best day of the week!


One word. Well, two words but one number.


Jack Bauer is a supremely interesting character. Plus he's cool; I'm talking Captain Kirk cool. Highly motivated, totally uncompromising, and guided by a clarity of thinking that borders on the clairvoyant. There is no such thing as hesitation in Jack Bauer's world; there is only the stone cold certainty of purpose that comes from experience and instinct.

After five seasons, Jack has become even more ruthless in his methods. I don't blame him; he's been through a lot during the five worst days of his life. But no matter how far over the line Jack goes, no matter how extreme his actions, he's always in control. Jack Bauer goes as far as he has to to get the job done, and no farther.

Amidst all of the debate today over torture, surveillance, and questionable methods of ensuring our security, 24 gives us a frighteningly real glimpse of just how bad things could get. It also gives us some insight into what is takes to bring us back from the brink. Every Monday at 9:00 pm, Jack Bauer is the impenetrable wall that stands between us and our destruction.

If we're very lucky, life will find a way to imitate art.

Oh Say Can You See, version XL

February 5, 2006. Detroit, Michigan.

Superbowl XL.

The Steelers and the Seahawks - a clash of titans that has millions of fans saying, "meh".

Kickoff time approaches, but first - please rise for the singing of our National Anthem...

Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin accompanied on piano by Dr. John and backed by a 150 person choir...

What. A. Mess.

One half New Orleans style, one half Motown soul, with a dash of gospel for good measure. Neville's reedy falsetto versus Aretha's powerhouse pipes (she barely needed a microphone). I just couldn't take it.

Is America the only country on the planet who's national anthem is morphed to suit the personal flavah of the performer who sings it? And if so, why are we okay with that?

Aretha by herself would have done the song justice - a simple yet powerful rendition. Remember Whitney Houston's performance in 1991? They played it on the radio and sold singles of it for weeks afterwards, it was so great. In the age of digital downloads, servers would have melted under the strain.

Compare that to someone like Mariah Carey in 2002. Don't get me wrong, Mariah has talent, but she's the only performer I know where 75% of the notes she sings were never in the original song.

I know, I know, these renditions highlight the artistic diversity that makes America great. Whatever. It's the national anthem, for crying out loud. Shouldn't some things be off limits to these types of embellishments?

The Jihad Continues

A Catholic priest serving in Turkey was shot and killed on Sunday; authorities are searching for a 14 or 15 year old boy who was seen leaving the scene shouting "Allah Akbar" which means "God is great". Authorities won't say if this incident is related to the cartoon controversy...

More from the AP:

- Lebanon apologizes to Denmark the day after demonstrators burned down the Danish embassy in Beirut...

- Protestors in Tehran throw stones and set small fires at the Austrian embassy after an Austrian newspaper published the cartoons...

- Danish troops in Iraq are fired upon as they try to aid children injured in an accident...

- Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul says media freedoms cannot be limitless, and that hostility against Muslims is replacing anti-Semitism in the West...

Well, shit, Abdullah. Guess we can't have that, now can we?

Yeah, I know, that was a little snarky. I guess dead Catholic priests and soldiers getting fired upon while helping children just rubs me the wrong way...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Final Thoughts for the Weekend

An interesting statement from Queen Margrethe II of Denmark on the Cartoon Controversy: "We must show our opposition to Islam".

"We are being challenged by Islam these years - globally as well as locally. It is a challenge we have to take seriously. We have let this issue float about for too long because we are tolerant and lazy."

Bold words. I'm curious to see what the reaction will be.

"...there are some things for which we should display no tolerance. And when we are tolerant, we must know whether it is because of convenience or conviction."

Here, here.

Finally, I came across a great comment about this whole Islamic thing. Unfortunately, my browser crashed so I can't credit the blog or the commenter. Whoever it was, you brought a smile to my face!

"You gotta love them Muslims. No, really. You've got to, or they'll kill you!"

Some Other Cartoons

Mark Levin at National Review Online asks about the American Media's refusal to reprint the 12 Cartoons. He also provides a link to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which has a very revealing look at anti-semitic cartoons which regularly appear in Arab papers.

I've also spared a few moments to check out the postings on Daily Kos. Interestingly, there's not a lot of mention about the protests; I would have thought the "free speech" issue would have been more important to them. The one post on the issue for today scored some points with me in that it denounced the violent reactions as "incredibly fucking stupid". However, this same person asked why Karen Hughes isn't on the scene trying to "quell the chaos". I would have thought the last thing these people would want is the Bush administration getting involved.

This Just In...

Things are getting worse...

Michelle Malkin links to this story from Reuters.

"...the Islamic Army of Iraq, which has claimed responsibility
for killing foreign hostages, urged militants to kidnap Danes and "cut them into
as many pieces as the number of newspapers that printed the

Seems fair to me.

There's also an article in today's Washington Post dealing with the reaction of U.S Muslims to the Cartoon Controversy:
"There is a limit to freedom. There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the
world. Let's have some respect."

This from Rocky Omary, Damascus native and Falls Church, MD real estate agent. Aside from the comment about limits to freedom, which I suppose is accurate, I appreciate Rocky pointing out there are 1 billion Muslims in the world. Mainly because it reminds me that there are 5 billion non-Muslims in the world, equally deserving of respect.

Which I suspect means don't kidnap them, kill them, or burn their embassies to the ground.

16 year-old Zaki Al Barzinji says:

"If somebody showed a picture of the pope with a bomb
on his head, that would cause a great public outcry. Nobody
would be talking about freedom of speech."

First of all, whenever I think of the Pope, I don't think of him inciting his followers to bomb non-believers. Second, if someone did show a picture of the Pope with a bomb on his head, I think we would be talking about freedom of speech - namely how in a free society it's okay to show the Pope with a bomb on his head...SO GET OVER IT, CATHOLICS!!

To be fair, the Muslims quoted in the article do advocate moderation. Still, to read that the violent reactions are "unwarranted" makes me believe that they still don't understand how this behavior seriously undermines the longterm prospect of peaceful coexistence.

There is no God but God...

Another day, another embassy.

This time, it's the Danish embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Thousands of Muslims rampaged Sunday in Beirut, setting
fire to the Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags and lobbing stones at a
Maronite Catholic church as violent protests spread over caricatures of the
Prophet Muhammad.

Wait, what?

"...lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church..."

I wasn't aware the Catholics had a dog in this fight. So much for not offending other religions.

According to an editorial in the state-run Syrian newspaper Al-Thawra:

“It is unjustifiable under any kind of personal freedoms
to allow a person or a group to insult the beliefs of millions
of Muslims,”
After reading this quote, I started thinking - what belief is being insulted here? The answer I'm given is it's some Islamic prohibition against portrayals of the prophet. My question is, who exactly is prohibited. If the prohibitions apply to those of the Islamic faith, then I guess we're in the clear since, as far as I know, none of the Danish cartoonists were believers. If, however, the prohibition applies to everyone (believers and non-believers alike), then we have a problem. To me, it's like Catholics not eating meat on Fridays, and then being insulted when everyone doesn't follow suit.

So they blow up a Burger King to espress their outrage.

For a meaningful level of co-existence to be predicated on not offending others' beliefs is a very high bar to meet, especially when one group's beliefs are so intricately tied to their polictics. Herein lies the rub. Western society is built on the concept that we as free citizens have the right to expressions which may indeed cause insult to any number of beliefs. In exchange, the aggrieved parties have the right to protest or counter those expressions. Ultimately, the debate which arises from the conflict exemplifies the very nature of a free-thinking society. My questions is, how in hell do you reconcile that with "unjustifiable to...insult the beliefs or millions of Muslims"? The short answer is you can't, at least not with the mindsets present in this conflict. Either the West must impose a level of self-censorship that is contradictory to everything we believe is right, or Muslims will have to accept that not everything under the sun is going to be done their way.

God help us all.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Line Must Be Drawn Here

So a Danish newspaper prints a series of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad last year, and thousands of Muslim around the world are enraged. Incidents of violence have been increasing during the past few days, and I'm fairly certain it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed.

Most say it's about "freedom of speech"; some say "tolerance of other cultures". Still more claim this incident has cast a spotlight on the clash between two worlds - the Western and the Islamic. More and more, I read and hear people claiming these two worlds are inherently incompatible, and that sooner or later, a line will have to be drawn.

On an intellectual level, I accept and understand that Muslims regard any depiction of their prophet as an affront. Such actions, when commited by a non-believer, must be an even greater insult. But on a deeper, more visceral level, I understand something else...

Muslims, when offended, have a tendency to blow things up and/or kill people.

I know, I know, not all Muslims. Only the hard-core extreme Muslims. Sure, it's wrong to paint an entire culture with the terrorist brush. But then again, how many extremists does it take to kill an author.

Or a director.

Or 52 people in London.

Or 3,000 Americans.

Plus, it's hard to argue with this

...or this

...or this.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What's the buzz? Tell me what's happening.

Have you ever gotten up, taken a long hard look around you, and realize there was nothing you could do but shake your head? That's me on most days.

Everyone has their own personal view of the world they live in. Apparently, mine is viewed through the mental equivalent of a lazy eye.

So, what to talk about? Let's see...

Pop Culture.
Current Events.

Yeah, pretty much what everyone else talks about.

But this time, it's my turn...