Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Acting within the law

Honduras’s interim puppet president Roberto Micheletti told the Wall Street Journal that the coup was conducted in order to protect the constitution from Zelaya, and also it wasn’t a coup. “We are acting within the law,” he said. The Journal doesn’t seem to have followed up with a request for the specific statute which specifies a punishment of being dumping in another country in one’s pajamas.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Democratic vocation, redux

At a press conference, Hillary Clinton called “for the full restoration of democratic order in Honduras,” saying that events there had “evolved into a coup.” When asked explicitly whether the US was demanding the return of the elected president, she said no, going only so far as to say that “we think that the arrest and expulsion of a president is certainly cause for concern that has to be addressed.” One could be forgiven for thinking that she doesn’t want to look like supporting a coup, but wouldn’t mind taking advantage of the situation to get rid of Zelaya through some sort of negotiated settlement with the people who seized power.

Later in the day, though, Obama belatedly made the statement he should have made immediately: “We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there.” He has not, however, according to press spokesmodel Robert Gibbs, picked up a phone to offer that support to the democratically elected president, which doesn’t suggest that he plans to offer much in the way of practical help.

What we can’t allow

The man the Honduran coup leaders have installed as interim president, Roberto Micheletti, says, “We can’t allow that this government take us to communism or socialism.”

Henry Kissinger, 1973, about the Chilean coup: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Democratic vocation

Israel claims to be building within the settlements only for "normal life." (Has anyone noticed if American Likudniks have picked up this deeply cynical phrase?) But in fact, it's also building new houses for settlers evicted from unauthorized outposts.

Statements from Obama and Hillary Clinton on the coup in Honduras more or less condemn it and talk a lot about "democratic norms" and whatnot (I especially like Clinton's call for "all parties in Honduras... to reaffirm their democratic vocation" – I'm sure the military will get right on that), but I have yet to see a clear call for Zelaya to be reinstated.

The NYT's front-page headline today (which has been changed on the website) was "Honduran Army Ousts President Allied to Chavez." Subtle, huh?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flies are traditional

Today is Christabel and my 1st anniversary. I plan to give her as a present some of her favorite toys by letting in a few flying insects for her to chase. Hours of fun.

I should mention that one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals is to reduce the time county pounds are required to keep strays before killing them to three days, and it would be nice if some pressure were put on him not to do that.

Also, if someone could adopt that black cat at my local Humane Society who I seriously considered last year but passed on and whose picture still shows up in the Society’s ads in the local paper, making me feel a little guilty each time I see it.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The pleasure of conquest

Silvio Berlusconi has denied paying for sex, saying “I never understood what the satisfaction is when you are missing the pleasure of conquest.” Somehow Silvio makes not paying a prostitute sound more skeezy than paying a prostitute.

Thou shalt not park

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem have been protesting the opening of a municipal parking lot on Saturdays, which violates the command to rest on the sabbath. They just had a major riot, throwing rocks and bottles at police for hours. On the sabbath. After Friday prayers. Is there some part of “rest on the sabbath” I don’t understand?

They also attacked journalists, because taking pictures of the riot also violates sabbath law.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding that school authorities stip-searching a 13-year-old girl for drugs is “unconstitutionally skeezy.” The lone dissenter was of course Clarence Thomas, whose opinion shows him drooling over the thought, not so much of naked 13-year-old bodies, but of power. Raw, unchecked power. Especially power over naked 13-year-old bodies.

Where the other justices considered whether the search violated Savana Redding’s 4th Amendment rights, Thomas suggested that she should have no such protection against school authorities, that we should “return to the common-law doctrine of in loco parentis” (from a time before school attendance was mandatory), under which teachers had absolute authority over pupils and complete “discretion to craft the rules needed to carry out the disciplinary responsibilities delegated to them by parents.” Just as children have no 4th Amendment right against their parents searching their room, so too they would be subject to any search a school wanted to perform upon them. “Preservation of order, discipline, and safety in public schools is simply not the domain of the Constitution.”

Thomas wrote that any search for pills is reasonable and thus permissible so long as it is “limited to the areas where the object of that infraction could be concealed” (i.e., boobies) (of course by his standard cavity searches would also be reasonable). “Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments.”

Thomas suggests that if parents do not intend to delegate their intrusive-searching authority to schools under the in loco parentis doctrine he proposes to restore (which came from a time before school attendance was mandatory), they may (he is quoting his own opinion in the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case (Morse v. Frederick), “seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move.” No problemo.

Right now I command you to leave!

Haven’t watched it myself, but there’s a video making the internet rounds of some church in Connecticut holding an exorcism to expel the “homosexual demons” from a 16-year-old boy. I thought of running a contest for what a “homosexual demon” might be like – “Everything in Hell is so red, which is awful for me because I’m totally an autumn,” “Queer eye for the straight incubus” etc. But I don’t know, I’d hate to offend my gay and/or demon readers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You have urinated on my jacket

Headline of the Day (Daily Telegraph): “Monkey Urinates on Zambian President.”

Or wait, is the Headline of the Day “Zambia Leader Hit by ‘Press Leak’” (BBC)? You be the judge.


Mark Sanford to run for prime minister of Italy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I think there have been times where we’ve made mistakes

Today Obama met Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. A Chilean reporter told a little joke about how there’s never been a coup in the United States because there’s no American embassy here, then asked if Obama would maybe like to apologize for CIA interventions in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America. O: “I’m interested in going forward, not looking backward. I think that the United States has been an enormous force for good in the world. I think there have been times where we’ve made mistakes.” Mistakes? So no apology, but a heart-felt “Whoops, we accidentally conspired to foment a coup in your country and kill your elected president, but in a force-for-good kind of way”?

Obama press conference: 95% cured


Obama opened with a stronger condemnation of the violence in Iran (which the White House helpfully translated into Persian), although, he said, “the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Although, since the election was stolen, the concept sovereignty is a little dicey at the moment. I’m not sure why election theft creates such confusion in language; Obama also said, “If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people.” Of course if it heeded the will of its own people, the guys currently running it wouldn’t be the government anymore. Also, he thinks governments only get the respect of the international community if they respect rights and heed the will of their people – isn’t that just adorable?

He again suggested that it is “up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government” without suggesting how they might do so, given the, you know, stolen election. Not that he should be issuing marching orders, of course, but he’s the one who said that the Iranian people should decide their leadership, when there is no functioning mechanism for them to do so. He did say that “those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.” But very often they also wind up dead.

Still, as Obama keeps saying, the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I think that’s the liberal equivalent of the Laffer Curve.

“This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won’t work anymore in Iran.” Er, why not?

Asked by CBS’s Chip Reid if his stronger words about Iran were “influenced at all by John McCain and Lindsey Graham accusing you of being timid and weak,” he replied “What do you think?”

A PROBLEM: “I think that when a young woman [Neda Agha-Soltan] gets shot on the street when she gets out of her car, that’s a problem.”

There was a lot about health care, which I won’t get into, except to note that Obama refused to say that inclusion of a public option was non-negotiable.

About his own smoking: “I don’t do it in front of my family.” Insert Bill Clinton joke here. Also, he declared himself “95% cured.”

OPTIMISTIC, OR JUST STUPID? YOU BE THE JUDGE: About the economic depression: “What’s incredible to me is how resilient the American people have been and how they are still more optimistic than -- than the facts alone would justify.”

(UPDATE: The best question was one I only half-heard. After Obama said that he’d seen the Neda video and it was heart-breaking, Helen Thomas – who had not been called upon – interjected to ask why then he was suppressing the Guantanamo photos. Obama, in a rather condescending tone, and to the supportive laughter of the press corpse, told her that was “a different question,” and proceeded to ignore her.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A very Hope-y Father’s Day

Barack Obama has an article in Parade Magazine about fathers. Evidently, “their job does not end at conception”. Who knew?

He castigated absent fathers: “I would often walk through the streets of Chicago’s South Side and see boys marked by that same absence – boys without supervision or direction or anyone to help them as they struggled to grow into men.” I’m not a single mother, but I think I can respond to that on behalf of all single mothers: Fuck you, Barack.

Insert quarter

This blog notes the passing of John Houghtaling, the inventor of Magic Fingers.

Some daddy figures won’t go away:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It’s the least we can do

Obama was interviewed by CBS. Asked about Iran, he said, “And the world is watching. And we stand behind those who are seeking justice in a peaceful way.” So the world is watching their butts, is what he’s saying.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wait, wait, it’s gonna be a doggy

At a rally in Tehran today,

Mousavi unveiled his new strategy to defeat Ahmadinejad.

Balloon animals.

Possibly not his best idea.

That kind of movement will cascade through a society

Yesterday George Bush gave a speech to the Manufacturer and Business Association’s annual convention in Pennsylvania.

About the prospect of closing Guantanamo, he said, “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that -- persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.” Instead of therapy, he recommends waterboarding.

Not funny, but true.

He also explained why on 9/11/01 he failed to leave the My Pet Goat reading: “I realized that we were in crisis, and the first thing I do in any crisis ... is calm. If you’re president, and all of a sudden the whole world is watching you, and you get up and do something precipitously, frighten children, storm out, that kind of movement will cascade through a society.” Yes, that would have been much scarier than that whole planes-flying-into-buildings thing.

I got the sucker

Barack Obama, as you all know because evidently nothing worth reporting is going on in the world, swatted a fly during an interview

A spokesmodel for PETA (and to be fair, it was news organizations who contacted PETA, not the other way around), condemned the action, a spokesmodel saying, “We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals,” adding, “Well, maybe not Joe Biden, gotta draw the line somewhere.”

Here is a PETA member modeling appropriate behaviour:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I wouldn’t know a Twitter from a tweeter

Pakistan is using collective punishment against tribes that harbor members of the Taleban, with economic blockades, mass arrests, etc. Collective punishment is perfectly legal, under a 1901 British colonial law. So that’s okay, then.

Today Hillary Clinton met her Israeli counterpart, Unholy Avigdor Lieberman.

On the subject of settlements, they called each other liars. Lieberman: “we had some understandings with the previous administration and we tried to keep this direction.” Clinton: “And in looking at the history of the Bush Administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements.” No reporter followed up, for example about that word “enforceable.”

They talked about the Iranian elections, Clinton repeating what Obama said, that “it is for the Iranians to determine how they resolve this internal protest concerning the outcome of the recent election.” For example, they might “resolve” it with massive repression and violence, that’s for them to determine. Lieberman said he didn’t much care, because both sides just want to nuke the Jews. It’s funny cuz it’s true.

Clinton said the Obama admin asked Twitter not to shut down for maintenance during this time of turbulence in Iran because “it is the case that one of the means of expression, the use of Twitter, is a very important one not only to the Iranian people, but now increasingly to people around the world, and most particularly young people. I wouldn’t know a Twitter from a tweeter – but apparently, it is very important.” And that’s why Bill.... oh, you people are way ahead of me and have already thought up your own Monica Lewinsky joke, haven’t you? Perverts.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama meets Berlusconi: I took an oath of gratitude towards United States

Headline of the Day, from the Daily Telegraph: “Nicolas Sarkozy Intervenes in Row over Mother-in-Law’s Septic Tank.” (Because the prefect of the département didn’t implement Sarkozy’s promise that his mother-in-law’s town would get a centralized sewage system at no cost to the residents, Sarkozy fired him.)

Speaking of centralized sewage, Italian Primo Buffone Berlusconi met President Obama at the White House today. To make his guest feel at home, Obama used his hands a lot while he was talking.

Asked about the Iranian elections, Obama said “it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be”. Yes, they just did that very thing, Barack. It’s what happened after that that’s the problem.

He didn’t have any advice for the Iranians about how to deal with the stolen election but did say, “I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television... I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days.” Why do we spend all that money on a State Dept and a Central Intelligence Agency, when all our presidents just watch tv anyway?

SO, LIKE, WAVE OR SOMETHING: He had a word of encouragement for the Iranian people: “And they should know that the world is watching.”

HE KNOWS ALL ABOUT DIGNITY: Berlusconi said, “I took an oath of gratitude towards United States, which gave me freedom and which gave my country dignity after World War II.”

ALSO, MY LEGS LOOK GREAT IN THOSE SHORTS: Obama presented his guest with an unusual gift basket: Berlusconi will be going home with three Guantanamo prisoners. Obama also praised Bermuda: “I have to say, by the way, that Bermuda has done us a great service, as well, on that front, and I’m grateful to them.”

PIZZA? “In addition to liking Prime Minister Berlusconi personally, our peoples like each other and recognize that we have shared interests.”

Asked about Netanyahu’s speech, Obama once again said that it was too early to judge it – “it’s important not to immediately assess the situation based on commentary the day after a speech” – but said that “I’m glad that Prime Minister Netanyahu made the speech” and that “there was positive movement in the Prime Minister’s speech. He acknowledged the need for two states. There were a lot of conditions, and obviously working through the conditions on Israel’s side for security, as well as the Palestinian side for sovereignty and territorial integrity and the capacity to have a functioning, prosperous state, that’s exactly what negotiations are supposed to be about.” Funny, I thought Netanyahu’s speech was about listing all the things that are not open to negotiations.

Obama repeated his opposition to “a continuation of settlements that, in past agreements, have been categorized as illegal”. Also under international law. I guess he forgot about international law. Funny, that.

And he told the Palestinians that “whether it’s the Palestinian Authority or other groups like Hamas that claim to speak for the Palestinians” – possibly they claim that because they won elections of the Palestinians – they need to recognize Israel’s right to exist and ensure “that there’s an end to incitement against Israel.” (Every speech about the Middle East now makes this demand for the suppression of Palestinian speech. It would be nice if someone asked him what specific measures he’s calling for – what newspapers should be banned, which people imprisoned, etc.

Then the cameras were turned off and Berlusconi asked if Obama knew any teenage girls he could introduce him to, the end.

The Blessed Virgin Mary gets her tiaras back

The Philippines returns to Imelda Marcos $310 million worth of jewels confiscated from her in 1986, because the government forgot in all that time to do the paperwork to put in a claim for them. Imelda says that much of the jewelry was intended for religious purposes such as “tiaras for the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

What’s really needed here is political courage

Britain’s Channel 4 will be running a documentary today about US airstrikes last August on Azizabad in Afghanistan, which killed 91 civilians. Evidently there were no actual Taliban there, but the raid was based on a false tip from someone involved in a feud between that village and another one. American forces also tortured one Azizabadhoovian to death. If any British readers see this program, please report anything else interesting back to the rest of us in comments.

The Education Department will spend $350 million to develop national standards. And by national standards, they mean national tests. Because, according to EdSec Arne Duncan, “If we’re going to have world-class international standards, we need to have world-class evaluations behind them.” “50 states doing their own thing doesn’t make sense.” The Obama administration policy is pretty much the same as the Bush admin’s, from the insistence that setting high standards automatically improves education, down to the refusal to admit that improving education might require spending some money on actual teaching rather than test development. Said Duncan, “Resources are important, but resources are actually a small piece of this puzzle. What’s really needed here is political courage.” And... moxie!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netanyahu speech: flags and national anthems for everyone!

We have a winner: Kim Jong-un is now officially the “Brilliant Comrade.”

Speaking of brilliant comrades, Binyamin Netanyahu gave his anticipated speech today. He accepted Obama’s challenge to accept a two-state solution. “In my vision, there are two free peoples living side by side each with each other, each with its own flag and national anthem.” However, the neutered Palestine he’s willing to accept would have no military, no control over its own airspace, no Hamas, and Israel would have a veto over its foreign relations (no treaties with Iran, for example). But it would have a, you know, national anthem. Sort of a 1.375-state solution, by my calculations. But aside from those piddling details, and a few others, “Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions.”

Bibi started by asking an important question: “Friends, with the advantages of peace so clear, so obvious, we must ask ourselves why is peace still so far from us, even though our hands are extended for peace? Why has the conflict going on for over 60 years?” He had the answer: “the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.” So, if you were wondering why there’s no peace in the Middle East, now you know.

Therefore, the first thing that Palestinians must do is acknowledge that they are at best second-class citizens in Israel. Oh, and they have to do so sincerely: “The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People.”

He said Israel will build no new settlements, but they’ll continue to expand the existing ones to meet what Israel used to call natural growth and is now calling “normal life”: “there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world.”

Some people might say that settlements are an obstacle to peace, but not Bibi: “A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.”

Anyway, “Israel needs defensible borders”. Palestine doesn’t need defensible borders, since it won’t be allowed even slingshots with which to defend them anyway. Without a totally disarmed and defenseless Palestine, he said, “sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan.”

Also, Israel gets to keep Jerusalem, and won’t allow any Palestinians to return: “For it is clear to all that the demand to settle the Palestinian refugees inside of Israel, contradicts the continued existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People.” And Palestine must “overcome Hamas.” One would scour the speech in vain for a hint of anything Netanyahu is willing to give up for the sake of peace.

The White House has called the speech an “important step forward.”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

To be fair, geese are quite scary

It’s been quite a while since I’ve run personals from the London Review of Books (the complete WIIIAI collection of LRB personals is here.)
If forced to commit, I’d say I feared geese more than ducks. Man, 47. Fears geese more than ducks. Box no. 02/03

I wrote this advert specifically to rebuke my rivals, undermine my critics, and fill the hearts and minds of my true followers with the love they so richly deserve. Kevin, 46, Sunbury Cross. Box no. 03/05

I subvert all the expectations built up in this column like a goat in space subverts gravy. Space-goat-esque gravy-subverting pervert (M, 51). Box no. 05/04

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be a marine biologist, 56, and enjoy secretly juggling crabs when no-one else is in the laboratory. Man, 56, seeks crab-juggling fish nerd. Box no. 05/05

For all you ladies keeping a vigil for my return to this column after an absence of 2 years, God has answered your prayers by forcing the LRB, after much petitioning, to lift almost all of their unreasonable restrictions on the content of my adverts. I am a man. I am 46. Box no. 05/06

Celebrate National Nurses Week with me! Man, 82. Box no. 05/03

Don’t read too much into this.

Short ugly bald bloke (32, Cambridge) seeks Scandinavian Model (F) due to marginal grasp on reality. No timewasters or photos of Volvos. Must not try to feed me broccoli.

Friday, June 12, 2009

No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis

Ha’aretz has an interesting (but long) story about the Gaza blockade, designed, the Israelis say, to ensure “no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.” Israeli bans the import of “luxury” items, but whether, say, a pumpkin constitutes a luxury changes “from week to week, and sometimes from day to day”, depending, not on Palestinian nutritional needs of course, but on which sectors of the Israeli agricultural industry need propping up. “[S]ince the start of the blockade no list of permitted and prohibited items has been relayed to the Palestinian side. The DCO spokesperson says there is no such list and that the Palestinians ‘know what they’re allowed to bring in.’”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Out of old matzoh and dreidels

A note found in Holocaust Museum shooter-up James von Brunn’s car said, among other things, “Obama was created by Jews.” So that makes him a Kosher, secret-Muslim golem?

Negotiations, the Gitmo way

More info on Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi (that’s all one person), the Guantanamo prisoner who the Pentagon says committed suicide but won’t say how (when a prisoner being forcibly fed abruptly dies, we need rather more information before we just accept a claim of suicide). Evidently he was asked by Gitmo’s commanders to represent the prisoners in talks with them. Only he never come back from the first of those talks: they sent him to the psychiatric wing, where he died five months later.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A quixotic quest to right all wrongs and repair all imperfections through the Constitution

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that elected judges must recuse themselves from cases involving their substantial campaign donors. Duh. That duh being said, John Roberts, writing the dissent, had a point that the Court could have set a clearer standard than it did. (It would help if the states passed their own recusal rules, rather than having them be clarified through numerous lawsuits.)

However, Roberts argued that “sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.” The “disease” which he complacently suggests we just live with is judicial corruption. The lawsuits that will arise from this ruling, according to Roberts, “will do far more to erode public confidence in judicial impartiality than an isolated failure to recuse in a particular case.” This is the culture of secrecy; it is the language used by the Bush and, now, the Obama administrations to justify suppressing pictures of prisoner abuse. Roberts, like Obama, is unwilling to expose corruption because it would make the system look bad, and he thinks the exposure is the problem, not the corruption.

Scalia, also dissenting, wrote, “The court today continues its quixotic quest to right all wrongs and repair all imperfections through the Constitution.” Maybe it’s just me, but I’d actually like our courts to engage on a quixotic quest to right all wrongs and repair all imperfections through the Constitution.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

In Taiwan, a man has been sentenced to 5 months in prison for tearing the toupee off the head of Kuomintang MP Chiu Yi. A court spokesmodel explained: “The judge thought Chiu Yi had the freedom to wear what he wanted, and Chiu felt the wig made him look prettier. The judge thinks that to remove it intentionally was to take away that right.” The right to look prettier shall not be abridged.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Totally true

Sarah Palin accidentally plagiarizes the wrong Gingrich speech, asks some woman with cancer for a divorce.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Just a pinch of state-sanctioned murder

The new Ohio death-penalty procedure, which was used Wednesday on one Daniel Wilson, requires that after the prisoner is sedated, the warden make sure he is actually unconscious before proceeding to the lethal-injection stage: “the warden is required to call out the name of the condemned man, shake and pinch his shoulder, and then administer a second dose of sedative if there is a response.” Such as, “Hey, what’s with the pinching?”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama’s Cairo speech: America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire

Speaking at Cairo University, home of the Fightin’ Spinxes, Barack Obama said that “no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust” but failed to say precisely how many speeches might be required. I’m guessing seven.

Why had he come to Cairo? “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.” Also, have you tried getting a decent kebab in D.C.? I’m not sure if all this talk about the relationship between the US and Islam treats Islam as a nation or the US as a religion.

AND WE’VE GIVEN THEM McDONALD’S AND BRITNEY SPEARS: “Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation.”

FOR EXAMPLE, IT ISN’T A FLOOR WAX: “That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.”

WHEREVER THERE’S A COP BEATIN’ UP A GUY: “And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

SOMETIMES, WE’RE JUST IMPERIALLY SELF-INTERESTED: “Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.”

“SO LET THERE BE NO DOUBT” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.” He didn’t say what part.

He insisted that Afghanistan was not a war of choice, but Iraq was, adding, “Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.” So as long as we’ve learned a valuable lesson, I’m sure Iraqis will agree it’s all been worth it. They’re the reminderers.

“LET US BE CLEAR” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.”

“MAKE NO MISTAKE” IS ALSO THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan.”

“Denying that fact [the Holocaust] is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.” Adding, “Okay, two Jews walked into a bar...”

“SO LET THERE BE NO DOUBT” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.”

WELL IF IT’S EASY, LET’S DO THAT THEN: “It’s easy to point fingers -- for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.” So the Israelis are subject to ongoing constant hostility & attacks, while the only thing Palestinians have to complain about happened 60 years ago.

In the most bizarre passage, Obama used American history to prove that Palestinians must suffer quietly: “Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed.” George Washington, War of Independence, ring a bell at all? “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.” Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, ring a bell at all? Really, did he just tell us that slaves shouldn’t have resisted slavery with violence?

He added that “It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children... That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.” Again, that’s just for Palestinians; we’ll still be using rockets and missiles and predator drones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Oh, and I must have missed the part where he suggested that Israel also must “abandon violence.” Guess the speech was running a little long.

“Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.” Well, maybe not now, since Israel is still banning the importation of building materials into Gaza.

YOU’RE SO VAIN, I’LL BET YOU THINK THIS ISLAMIC REPUBLIC’S ABOUT YOU: “For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country”.

He admitted the US’s involvement in the 1953 coup. Has a president done that before? “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.” It’s Day 10,806 of the Iranian Hostage Crisis! (Finally, Wolfram Alpha has proven useful for something).

BZZZ. I’M SORRY, YOU HAVE FAILED THE ALLITERATION PORTION OF THE TEST: “I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve.”

He explained why it wasn’t unfair to sanction Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons program when “some countries” have nukes: “I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that’s why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.” So that’s okay, then.

“LET ME BE CLEAR” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.”

AS OPPOSED TO WHAT, THE METRIC SYSTEM? “Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith.”

FOR HIS NEXT TRICK, HE WILL HEAL THE SUNNI/SHIA SPLIT: “And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.”

“LET ME BE CLEAR” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “Now, let me be clear: Issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam.”

Three, maybe four times in the speech, he returned to the theme of rights for women. Well, one right in particular: “That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.” “it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit -- for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.” “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.” Of course the right he has chosen to emphasize for Muslim women living in Western countries (it will be interesting to see if there is a reaction to this from France or, indeed, Turkey), is compulsory for women in certain parts of the Muslim world, enforced by violence. Obama did not even hint that there might be a right for women to choose not to wear the hijab.

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL: “I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.”

WHICH WILL BE A PROBLEM FOR HAITI’S ZOMBIE-BASED ECONOMIC STRATEGY: “no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground”.

A sphinx, and some big statue thingy

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

We need to freedom

Monday, Uighur prisoners in Guantanamo held up signs, “We are the Uighurs. We are being oppressed in prison though we had been announced innocent,” “Where is the justice” and “We need to freedom,” in front of some journalists (who were then “hustled away,” in McClatchey’s words, without being allowed to speak to them).

Says the Navy chief in charge of guards, “As you can see, they are pretty much free men.”


ain’t it grand.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I tend not to use labels for folks

Obama was interviewed yesterday by the BBC about his upcoming world travels.

Obama refused to be drawn on whether Hosni Mubarak is an authoritarian ruler. “No, I tend not to use labels for folks.” Stop a moment and ponder the lameness of that evasion. “I think he has been a force for stability and good in the region...” If by stability, you mean a 30-year dictatorship. “...Obviously there have been criticisms of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt...” Well, not so much criticisms as screams of pain emanating from his dungeons.

Nor would he criticize Israel for refusing to stop settlement-building: “Well, it’s still early in the conversation. ... So, you know, one of the things that in the 24/7 news cycle is very difficult to encourage is patience, and diplomacy is always a matter of a long, hard slog.” Do tell us when it’s time to actually believe that they mean what they’re saying.

In an interview with NPR, he explained that the reason we’re still occupying Afghanistan is that “3,000 Americans were killed and you had a devastating attack on the American homeland; the organization that planned those attacks intends to carry out further attacks and we cannot stand by and allow that to happen.” He added, “We don’t have an interest in exploiting the resources of Afghanistan.” That’s too bad, because those poppy fields might help pay for the GM bailout.

NO HANGING OUT: “What we want is simply that people aren’t hanging out in Afghanistan who are plotting to bomb the United States. And I think that’s a fairly modest goal that other Muslim countries should be able to understand.”

Of musketeers and mouseketeers

John McCain refers to himself, Lindsey Graham and Holy Joe Lieberman as “the Three Musketeers.”

Speaking of silly titles, Kim Jong Il, the “Dear Leader” and son of Kim Il-sung, the “Great Leader,” has designated his 25-year-old (give or take)_son Kim Jong Un as his successor. Clearly, he needs an adjective of his very own. CONTEST: What sort of Leader is Kim Jong Un? (Since he was once caught trying to use a forged passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland, perhaps he should be called the Dear Mouseketeer)(Update: my mistake, that was Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son).

Oh, and if you want to submit a better name than the Three Musketeers for the team of McCain, Graham and Lieberman (the Axis of Evil?), feel free to do that too.

Is he allowed to say that about our lords and masters?

Middle East envoy George Mitchell more or less outright accuses the Israeli government of lying when it claims there was a secret understanding with the Bush admin over settlement “natural growth”: “The Israelis want us to commit to oral understandings we have never heard about, but at the same time they are not willing to commit to written agreements their government has signed, like the road map and commitment to the two-state solution.”

Monday, June 01, 2009

But... that’s how we resolve all our issues

Obama’s statement on the murder of Dr. Tiller: “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

There are only three clinics in the entire country that perform medically necessary late-term abortions. Seems to me the “issue” has been pretty nearly “resolved” to the satisfaction of the anti-choicers, and heinous acts of violence played no small part in that resolution.

More shit you can see from space

Headline of the Day, from the Daily Telegraph: “Penguin Poo Visible from Space.” Say what you will about the Telegraph, but I can tell you, that is not only the best headline for that story (and I checked Google News; I had to, I’m a blogger), but only the Telegraph had an actual picture.

Religious nutjob

WWJD, indeed.