“The Iranian people are more pro-American than any American university faculty.”
I’m generally opposed to stoking panic about the rise of China and have been greatly enjoying Will Hutton’s The Writing on the Wall that I think provides a sensible non-alarmist take. But as long as we’re talking about the NBA All-Star selections we really need to grapple with the Chinese threat. Simply put, one of the men pictured above has been putting together a season as a starting All-Star Guard. Another plays in the same conference with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
Ironically, the Chinese basketball player all the Chinese fans come out to vote for utterly deserves his spot, but they also stick around to vote for his less-worthy American sidekick. In my opinion, this is a serious problem. What if one year Shane Battier winds up as a starting Western Conference forward while Kevin Garnett rides the pine?
“Democrats may push a new bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq — replacing the 2002 bill that allowed the Bush administration to proceed with the war,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said today. The House will soon address ways to “affect the policy and strategy being pursued in Iraq,” possibly including “a revised authorization for the use of military force in Iraq that more accurately reflects the mission of our troops on the ground,” he said.
Do we think the point of this post from New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz — “by their heroes you shall know them” — is that all Palestinians are morally equivalent to Saddam Hussein or is the point that all Arabs are morally equivalent to Saddam Hussein? Is this same standard going to be applied to, say, Al Gore for attending Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners?
Yesterday on NPR, right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck criticized fellow conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh for his strident rhetoric, saying it will be “the death of our industry, and the death of our country.” Listen here:
Beck may be right about Limbaugh, but his own rhetoric is equally divisive and destructive. Some lowlights:
The anti-gay slur “faggot” is nothing more than “a naughty name.” [1/23/07]
“What happened to the Duke lacrosse team was practically a lynching without the rope. And for the first time in my life, Mr. Oreo Cookie without the chocolate on the outside can understand why people celebrated when O.J. Simpson was acquitted.” [1/15/07, using a racial slur for African-Americans that refers to "being black on the outside and white on the inside]
“[W]hat I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’” [11/14/06, on what he would like to say to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first elected Muslim member of Congress]
“I wonder if I’m alone in this — you know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims’ families? Took me about a year.” [9/9/05]
“And that’s all we’re hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.” [9/9/05]
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has criticized Beck for his anti-gay comments and is now calling on CNN “to address Beck’s crudeness and require that he adhere to basic standards of respect.” (For more information on how to contact CNN, go here.)
UPDATE: The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and the Arab-American Institute (AAI) have all “sent a joint letter to ABC expressing their dismay, urging ABC to reconsider this hiring decision, and requesting a meeting with executives at ABC.”
Transcript: Read more
“A lot of people have tried to explain liberals. It’s a tough thing to do because people who aren’t liberal, it’s tough challenge to try to get outside yourself enough to understand these people. Most of them are miserable, most of them are unhappy. Most of them don’t really matter, don’t amount to much, and resent anybody else who does.”
On a less contentious note, I went to see Pan’s Labyrinth last night. It’s good, though not quite as good as some people make it out to be. I thought a lot of very fine filmmaking was substantially undermined by a silly sentimental ending. It’s really superb on the level of acting and visual effects, however, and has some very rich thematic content, though I personally found myself a little annoyed with the way they sapped the Spanish Civil War of any ideological content. It doesn’t seem to me, however, that normal people will mind.
One thing I’m slightly puzzling over is the title. The faun character in the film isn’t named “Pan” and doesn’t carry Pan’s flute. So why translate the title as Pan’s Labyrinth instead of the more literal The Faun’s Labyrinth? Relatedly, I was really baffled by a preview for a movie called Indigènes which is going to be translated into English as Days of Glory.
A top conservative Capitol Hill staffer tells Politico that more than 70 senators would oppose Bush’s escalation if their vote matched their comments in private meetings. “The White House is trying to but they really don’t know how to handle this,” the staffer said.
In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) said that Vice President Dick Cheney exerted “constant” pressure on the former chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), to stall an investigation into the Bush administration’s use of false intelligence on Iraq. The so-called Phase II report on the administration’s use of pre-war intelligence was delayed for over two years. Two of its five portions were finally released in Sept. 2006.
Rockefeller said that he knew Cheney attended regular policy meetings in which he conveyed White House directions to conservative Capitol Hill staffers. They “just had to go along with the administration,” he said. Here are examples of Roberts’ vacillations on the Phase II investigation per White House orders:
“We’ll proceed with Phase II. It is a priority. I made my commitment and it will get done.” [Press conference, 7/9/04]
“I don’t know if we can get it done before the election.” [Meet the Press, 7/11/04]
“That [the Phase II report] is basically on the back burner.” [UPI, 3/10/05]
“I don’t think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further.” [U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 3/31/05]
“To go though that exercise, it seems to me, in a post-election environment – we didn’t see how we could do that and achieve any possible progress. I think everybody pretty well gets it.” [U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 3/31/05]
“I’m perfectly willing to do it, and that’s what we agreed to do, and that door is still open.” [Meet the Press, 4/10/05]
“It isn’t like it’s been delayed. As a matter of fact, it’s been ongoing. As a matter of fact, we have been doing our work on Phase II.” [Senate Floor Speech, 11/1/05]
“I don’t know the relevancy of that.” [CNN, 11/1/05]
“We’ve been working on that. We will finish it. We had it scheduled for this week.” [Face the Nation, 11/6/05]
The report was partially released on September 8, 2006.
The much rumored Michael Oren / Yossi Klein Halevi New Republic article on the Iranian nuclear program is out. Their analysis of most aspects of the issue is covered by things I’ve written elsewhere, but the very end of the article waxes philosophical in an interesting way:
If [the international community] fails, then Israel will have no choice but to uphold its role as refuge of the Jewish people. A Jewish state that allows itself to be threatened with nuclear weapons–by a country that denies the genocide against Europe’s six million Jews while threatening Israel’s six million Jews–will forfeit its right to speak in the name of Jewish history. Fortunately, even the government of Ehud Olmert, widely criticized as incompetent and corrupt, seems to understand that, on this issue at least, it cannot fail.
The irony here is that, as Oren and Halevi concede, it would be impossible for Israel to wage this war without American support. This means, however, that on the Oren/Halevi analysis, the Zionist project has already failed. Far from a “refuge of the Jewish people” Israel has become, on their view, a menace — a prison, a trap — where Jews are held hostage to the onrushing Persian hordes. And not only are Israeli Jews threatened (not a new historical development) but they’re incapable of defending themselves. They need the United States of America to bail them out. But, of course, the whole point of Israel-as-Jewish-refuge was precisely that you can’t count on the goyim, even the nice liberal goyim of the United States, to do what it takes to protect the Jews when the chips are on the table.
This is the fairly demented logic of the binational hawk movement in Tel Aviv and Washington. The United States and Israel will, side-by-side, engage in a series of endless military confrontations with the Muslim population of the region. This will allow Israel to avoid making unpalatable concessions on the Palestinian front, but carries the price of putting Israel in a situation that’s only tenable with continuous American backing. This serves the interests of “pro-Israel” institutions in the United States along with the psychological needs of diaspora Zionists who can’t be bothered to actually learn Hebrew and move to Israel since it gives them something to do. After all, an Israel that found security through peace with its neighbors wouldn’t need all these foreign advocates.It’s far from clear, however, that it serves the interests of actual Israelis who, after all, don’t have the luxury of just retreating to another continent when these schemes blow up catastrophically.