Monday, February 26, 2007
I try, with a degree of restraint, to talk him down , you can judge for yourselves how succesfully. But with a blogroll whose first three entries are Media Lens, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky this guy is almost certainly too far gone.
Ellen De Generes did a great job, nothing fell flat, no really annoying political statements beyond the obligatory Al Gore won joke, but given he is actually nominated it was forgivable, and she is really cute.
She does a sort almost Dave Barry routine, they should just keep her on permanently. Have to say that I think that she and Whoopi have done the best job over the past decade.
Celebrating the Nominees is kind of a lame theme, but then they really all are.
Knowing that a film I did not really like had already swept most of the prizes (The Departed) took the frisson out of watching it.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Here, and Here, and here. And discussed at length at Harry's Place in this post and this post and this post the Chairman of the Cambridge Mosque Committee has issued the following press release.
1 February 2007 / 23 Muharram 1428
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful
The Cambridge Muslim Welfare Society, the controlling authority of the Cambridge Mosque, has made the following statement on behalf of the Mosque Committee and congregation:
With sorrow and anger the Mosque notes the publication, in the student newsletter Clareification, of material which deliberately insults the honour of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad (s.w.s.). Mindful of its duty before Almighty Allah and before humanity to defend the honour and good name of the Final Prophet, the Mosque condemns this provocation in the strongest terms.
We note with satisfaction the statement by Clare College in condemnation of the students’ actions. We accept that the College and University in no way bear responsibility for this publication and the views which it contains.
We hope and trust that the College’s view of the matter will be reflected in a statement from the students concerned, and that the students will offer a full and unconditional apology for their irresponsible action.
The University’s record of freedom of expression is a matter of record and of pride. However it is clear that incitement to religious and ethnic hatred is at all times immoral, and that its consequences for harmony between communities and nations can be grave. It is particularly important that the boundary between fair comment and hate speech be respected and understood at the present time, when misunderstanding and sometimes hatred directed against ethnic minorities of Muslim faith living in the West is on the rise, a process often exploited by far-right and racist groups whose political and social vision is abhorrent to all decent people.
Chairman of the Mosque Committee
I think that some response is required and have written the following letter to Hicham Kweider at :
Abu Bakr Jamia Mosque
Mawson Road, Cambridge CB1 2DZ
Re Press release of 11th February in response to Clare College Publication
You have issued a press release in the name of the The Cambridge Muslim Welfare Society that expresses your sorrow and anger about at what you perceive to be a slight of what is for you a revered religious figure.
Whilst you are free to revere whom you will, that very freedom precludes you from demanding similar reverence from others.
And whilst you may request an apology for such perceived slights you cannot demand it with veiled threats about "grave consequences" and "irresponsible actions".
You most certainly should not be demanding that higher authorities, in this case Clare College, compel anyone falling under their authority, to apologize for the offence of a religious taboo.
It is not just the University's record of freedom of expression that is at stake, it is that of the society in which it stands as a bastion of those values of liberty of thought and expression and the tolerance required for their flourishing.
The only hatred religious or otherwise that is being incited here is on the part of those claiming offence.
Demanding apologies for "insults" to prophets and then reminding people about "grave consequences" if they are not forthcoming is a cause of antipathy towards Muslims: not a way of combating prejudice.
Even accepting that hate Speech should be a constraint on free expression - such constraints are designed to protect living persons and cannot be invoked to protect doctrines or religious beliefs on the mere pretext that such beliefs have living persons as adherents. Your role may extend so far as advocating that Muslims as persons are protected from extreme vilification, but such a consideration cannot extend to the religious doctrine they choose to adhere to.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
in the Australian
RWANDAN President Paul Kagame says his country will cement its bitter divorce from France and the French-speaking world, which he holds responsible for the 1994 slaughter of up to one million of his countrymen, by joining the Commonwealth.Read it all"There are many benefits for us in joining the Commonwealth - cultural, economic, political," Mr Kagame said.
He has been invited to attend the November Commonwealth summit as an observer and said: "I hope they will then approve our membership. I am looking forward to it."
Mr Kagame, a lanky former guerilla fighter with an austere manner, rarely shows emotion. But the softly-spoken 50-year-old struggles to contain his anger when discussing France in Africa.
"They are the ones who armed and trained the militias ... the evidence is everywhere," he said. "They continued to do so even after the genocide started."
Once a hospital where appendix removals dominated operating lists, these days surgeons at Al-Yarmouk hospital work round the clock to save the limbs and lives of bomb blast victims. Filming inside the hospital which is located in one of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad was extremely risky and many staff were afraid to show their faces on camera. Before the insurgency Al Yarmouk was a "normal, local hospital", now it's a "field hospital in a civil war," said the Iraqi doctor/documentary maker. He was given unprecedented access to film in the hospital. His identity cannot be disclosed - to do so would endanger his life. "I've worked as a doctor for five years, all through the invasion. It's never been so bad and it's getting worse every day. I don't know how much more of this I can take," said the doctor. This program looks at the sectarian strife tearing Iraq apart from the perspective of the United States, British and Australian forces. Baghdad Doctor, by contrast provides a gritty, enthralling take on the collapse of Iraqi civil society. Most of the hospital's patients are Shiite civilians injured by the bombs of "extreme Sunnis and Al Qaeda." Even so at Al Yarmouk hospital Shiite and Sunni muslims work side by side. Medical staff fear being targeted because they treat patients from all sects. Gunshots have been fired in the ER room and doctors have been kidnapped and killed.
The point was made that much of the reconstruction money for Hospital refurbishment as well as supplies was squandered. The Doctor who made the film also thought that the departure of the foreign troops now would lead to a catastrophe. The Government of Al Maliki came in for a heavy pasting of criticism. Everyone who appeared in the film - Sunni or Shia, Doctor or patient - were unanimous that they wanted a united Iraq without sectarian division. Everyone spoke of terrorists without any qualification - no-one referred to "insurgents" or "resistance" and nearly unanimously they termed the Terrorists as being the product of extremist leaders who have little mandate amongst the populace at large and that they were driven by Al Quaeda. There was none of the mealy mouthed apologists for the terrorists that is such a feature of Anti-War discourse.
These are people that deserve our support - and any way to make that as direct as possible should be sought out. The terrorists have to be defeated, and pressure put on the Maliki Government to be worthy of the people who elected them, just as the Coalition civil reconstruction effort has to improve - the military cannot do all the lifting. What we can do at this distance from Iraq is make sure that the many good men and women who are doing an incredibly difficult job in Iraq get the support they need to do it - and be mindful that the Terrorists and extremists have strategy based upon their ability to influence the domestic politics of the coalition countries whilst at the same time presuading Iraqis that they are imminently going to be abandoned.
Website Link to Synopsis
Monday, February 19, 2007
Whilst much of the criticism is of the ad hominem variety a good deal echoes Murtha's own cynicism - with palpable disingenuousness commenters attempt to maintain with a straight face that it simply concern for Troop welfare that motivates them and this has nothing to do with their position on the war itself, as if anyone should be prepared to believe that they just want to ensure that units are going to be deployed so as to better prosecute the war.
Of course whatever their motives surely the point stands that equipment shortages and readiness levels should still be an area of concern? Is that not what Murtha means when he says:
"What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,"Well actually it is very easy to find fault with it - as Michelle Malkin points out there is not really an equipment shortage. And the readiness rate is also largely mythical, and the product of Army reporting requirements - eg a unit will report unready whilst in transit to Iraq as it has left it's own Equipment in CONUS whilst it will pick up the Unit it replaces equipment in Iraq. So the concern is not only insincere and a disingenuous attempt to cover up the real aim of halting the surge, but is anyway not even good cover because it is essentially based on myth anyway.
But at the top of this post I said I was "originally" going to post on the phenomena of a huge volume of hostile commentary the WAPO attracted - so where is the actual post? Well it did not take long to find the source of the mobilization of the activist defense of Murtha - the Kossacks had been drinking the delusionary kool-aid of posts like this where all the criticism of Murtha is dismissed as a smear job, because of course Murtha is just concerned for the troops and his plans are not really about trying to halt the surge. This is where Murtha's own words become a tad inconvenient:
Second, we can't extend people. Now if they can't extend people, if they can't send people back that don't have equipment and so forth, they can't continue the surge is what it amounts to. [...]
And the fact that the link for the quote points to MoveCongress.org -whose entire raison d'etre is to "halt the war in Iraq" only reinforces what should really be obvious anyway -the whole stunt is a calculated effort to hold up the reinforcements in the hope that the mission is thereby sabotaged.
The double think that must have gone into concluding with the following makes the brain hurt:
This potential legislation terrifies the Republicans. They face having to vote against ensuring that our troops are properly trained and equipped before they are sent into battle in Iraq. And after four years of the Republicans looking the other way while the administration over-extended our military, they know that it can't be done. Finally facing the possibility of acting in the best interest of the men and women of our military rather than continuing with their empty, mewling platitudes about supporting the troops, they attack. And the target is squarely on John Murtha's back.
It requires a real talent for self delusion to both believe that you are acting in the best interests of the men and women serving in Iraq by trying to undermine their mission badly enough that you can bring about a defeat that you will then disavow responsibility for. And to then howl about smear jobs when people actually notice the mendacity and cynicism of the manoeuvre is a sure sign that the mental stays are starting to snap under the contortions required. In some ways William Arkin should almost be thanked - if he had not let the cat out of the bag about how the Nutroots really feel about the troops and their opinions Murthas manoeuvres might not have been quite so obvious.
Pamela Joyce was typically clueless - but I ma not really sure that celebrating the wonder that is Japanese animation was really the point of the article, the headline was about how Japanese animation was complex for a complex world - and from the very first it was about how the popularity of Japanese Animation was due to people being tired of the "simplistic" American comic book approach.
Aaaaargh! Even an article about Japanese anime can't help being infected by the ignorant and reflexive institutional Anti-Americanism of the Fairfax press. Aside from anything else it is just so idiotic - given especially the renaissance of American animation - from Pixar to South Park - to dismiss it as comic book simplisme (quite aside from the fact that the history of Comic Books themselves reveal a rich and complex art form in the US). It is especially idiotic in the context of discussing Japanese anime and Manga - given the huge amount of cross fertilisation between the US and Japanese traditions - and the increasing awareness the two pop cultural traditions have of each others artistic and cultural worth.
But then when you don't actually have to know anything about culture any more to be regarded as cultivated - all you have to do is master that art at sneering viciously at anything even remotely associated with America. Makes things so much simpler.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali appeared at the American Enterprise Institute last week to do a presentation for her recent book Infidel. Video and Audio are available.
She was in sparkling form and their is a - around the 30 minute mark - an amusing, and slightly flirtatious exchange between Ayaan and Christopher Hitchens.
Two points she made struck me in particular , around the 45 minute mark she is asked to compare the situation of Islamic radicalism in Europe and the United States. She issues a caveat about how little time she has yet to spend in the US, and that her remarks should be seen as no more than a speculation at this point, but went on to say that the profile of European Islamists is very young, enthusiastic and in a hurry, and that they believe that they can achieve the Caliphate through violence and soon. In Contrast she thought the Islamists in the US were more patient and prepared proceed step by step and primarily through persuasion - and setting up shop on campuses and through professional organisations and through the media - a Classic Gramsician manoeuvre - and that they were better funded than in Europe. I don't think Europe is without it's patient Islamists - i.e Tariq Ramadan, but I certainly think there is something in the observation.
The other point that struck me especially was her recounting of how she herself was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and the reasons why it is successful as an Ideology. She pointed out that if the west is to compete with a more benign vision of the future then it could not go about being all apologetic about it - and being half hearted (it is incidentally a riposte to those who accuse her of being an Enlightenment fundamentalist.
My own feeling is that the information battle has to be fought much more aggressively - not just in extolling the virtues of secularism and liberalism - but also in attacking the Muslim Brotherhood and the like through their works. They should be distributing documentaries covering the Algerian civil war of the 90's , Taliban ruled Afghanistan , the plight of the Muslims in Darfur and any place else where the bitter fruits of Islamism have already revealed themselves.
In any case go and listen to the source herself, she is far more eloquent than I am.