Wednesday, March 31, 2004
It's been painfully obvious what should be done about Fallujah for quite some time. If we do it now, it will be said that we're just reacting to what just happened. Fine, the people who matter will know that we're just belatedly doing what we should have done long ago. Our response should be measured and targeted AT FALLUJAH. It is inexusable that there were American contractors in that cesspool to begin with, they belong in the parts of Iraq that WANT to be rebuilt. The case that this occupation is a quagmire is almost entirely based on Fallujah, the rest of the country did indeed strew flowers at the feet of our troops. This is one more nightmare we're getting ourselves into by refusing to differentiate between things.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Thanks for the note - I [was observing] shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) and just read it.
I'm not a big fan of Foxman, but he has a right to express his opinion, and he never called either Gibson or Passion anti-Semitic. As for Nicosia, I obviously disagree that she's correct. Believe me, the secular Jews she refers to are not interested or afraid either of converting to Christianity or becoming more observant of their own religion.
I put in the brackets part, but not the parenthetical. Here are three of the top results I got from a google search for “foxman gibson” immediately after reading this: http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=8445, http://www.geocities.com/munichseptember1972/gibson_spewing_anti-semitism.htm, and http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/03/11/Gibson071103.html.
“Spewing” is an odd term. It’s what people who think that I (who would look like Thor if I had a collarbone) am Jewish say I do with Zionist propaganda. That whole last sentence was just peculiar, let’s move on.
Apparently, at some point Foxman did say that “The Passion of the Christ” was not necessarily inherently anti-Semetic. Now, it’s easy for me to talk about being super-accurate in emails, since I usually take about a month to write one, but my primary point was that Nicosia (the original stupid mailer) meant to express extreme disapproval of the inexcusable actions of certain individuals who happen to be Jewish, not to justify her own supposed hatred for Jews. My secondary point was that while her idea that criticism of the movie (much of which comes from the sort who consider acceptance of Christ as the Messiah to be the ONLY belief that renders a Jew non-Jewish) is motivated by fears of conversion may be incorrect, it is not at all hateful, and not as stupid as it was made out to be. I didn’t have a tertiary point, but I do love the word “tertiary”.
Friday, March 19, 2004
I tried to comment on your recent "Stupid Letter of the Week", but I was unable to keep my comments brief enough to fit onto the blog. Nicosia is essentially correct, but extremely inarticulate. This is probably why her letter was printed.
There are ways of behaving that can cause other people to become angry. Wanting to kick Foxman in the head until it is no longer recognizable as a head is no more anti-Semetic than what I would like to do to Israeli labor party leaders, everyone at the U.S. State Department, and all other enemies of Israel. Slandering the only gentiles in the world who support Israel is that despicable, and the set of people doing it overlaps obscenely with the set of people in love with Arafat (starting with every "Christian" group with the words "International" or "Council" in it's name).
The way Nicosia worded the first part of her letter so that it could be construed as justifying her "hatred for Jews" is definitely more stupid than the mistake that she made in her conclusion. Attributing rational motives (legitimate concerns about assimilation) to the paranoid secularist hysteria was, however, admittedly very stupid of her.
- Dave Munger
Friday, March 12, 2004
Here is a follow up excerpt from the Ukranian correspondence that I've previously excerpted from, and that, in a just universe, I'd link to here.
partial critic or unfair judge, but I think that your president's administration fairly overdid in toughening of a vises conditions. Why does your country intend to perceive a potential terrorist in each tourist? In my opinion, the precautions with taking the fingerprints in all airports are too cruel. If our President hit upon a similar idea, I would be very ashamed for him. None country is able to protect itself against terrorism in such a way.
It's been said that even a very successful president can only accomplish about three big things. One could defeat the Axis powers, enact the New Deal, and be elected to four terms, or lower taxes, deregulate business, and win the Cold War, but a mere President could not realistically hope to simultaneously rationalize immigration or reform the education system.
Hussien was a useful instrument of our policy at one time, as was Stalin during WWII. Traditionally, this does not make us responsible for him, or obligate us not to dispose of him after he becomes a liability. At all times we are temporarily allied with entities we may later be obligated to destroy. We are now allied with Pakistan, to the detriment of our relationship with India (who's support I believe we will need if we are ever to effectively confront China). The home country of the Taliban is almost certain to be our enemy in the near future.
At this time, China's ability to absorb casualties is essentially infinite. I don’t think we could defeat them in open war without using our entire remaining nuclear arsenal. Even the economic effects of cutting our merchants off from a market of that size would be dire. This situation might change as their population declines, especially if they end up with less dictatorial control of the people, and we finally form a proper alliance with India.
Koreans are a very serious people, who one does not like to mess with if one can avoid it. They also have China behind them. Arabs are an essentially frivolous, silly people, as evidenced by their architecture and their religion, and they are rather easily turned against one another. Koreans are like the opposite of Arabs, during the Los Angeles riots, they were the only people taking care of themselves instead of crying for the police. Also, Clinton already sold them technology that places me within range of their missiles, so it's too late to get them before they have the ability to effectively retaliate.
I believe that the Arabic part of the world is really one nation culturally, which fortuitously happens to be divided into many states. Fighting them all as one might be something like fighting China, and that might be necessary were we to do anything like invading Saudi Arabia, where the de-facto capital of the Pan-Arabic nation is located.
I know even less about Lebanon and Iran, but I suspect these are areas we'd like to avoid entanglement in if we could. Iran is so mountainous, and could already have means of retaliation sufficient to deter anything like what is happening in Iraq. There are some hopes that the Iranians could eventually overturn their own regime, if we keep out. Any open American support of this seems to be counter productive though. When anyone there does something we like, letting it be known that America likes what they are doing causes them extreme embarrassment. Lebanon might me a place we'd prefer to let Israel deal with, because of the proximity.
I suspect that one of the unspoken motives of the occupation of Iraq was to make the Saudis more cooperative by opening the possibility of getting lots of oil elsewhere. I think that's been somewhat effective, and Libya is exhibiting an attitude improvement that might just be the begining of positive changes in the entire region, if we "don't go all wobbly".
It's pity, but the USA intends to step on the same rake (it's a common Russian expression, which means "to thread in the same step")/ I think States will invest a great deal of money in the reconstruction of Iraq and it's oil industry, but what's the use? You won't even be thanked! At best, all your milliards will be plundered by the official and politicians of all colours. It will be disgustfully, if the USA gets "Vietnam in a Soviet variety".As for Germany, France and Russia - they did a lot of business with Iraq, of course. And what about States? I think, all of these countries has the same strictly practical interests in this region - a cheap oil, and one must call a spade a spade. You mentioned Tony Blaire's expression. By the way, Blair is said to be a political insipidity for a long time, and the Great Britain has lost it's own political voice since Margaret Thatcher left her post of a prime-minister. I've got several friends, who live in Europe (particularly in Germany) and they tell me that Britain now is considered to be only a "mouthpiece of USA". It is both funny and sadly. You said that the governments tightly control the media so that to bring to their people only that part of truth, which is considered to be necessary. You are absolutely right, but it applies equally to the USA, does not it? It is doubtful that your President's administration does not filter all information to it's benefit.
Ann Coulter, my second favorite political writer, said "Why not go to war for oil? We need oil!" My main point before about oil is that some of the friction that is attributed to high minded principles is really about conflicting national interests.
There are much worse things a country could be than a mouthpiece of the US. For example, a country could be Germany, where a survey said that something like 30% of the people believe that the 9/11 attack was a Mossad operation with Bush behind it. Or it could be an appendage of Brussels, which is what the Germans seem to want England to be. I'm beginging to doubt that the German national character has really changed much in a hundred years.
One of the things that surprises foreign visitors here is how unrestricted the press really is. The White House controls access to the White House, Senators control access to themselves, and of course security agencies can keep things secret. It's illegal to publicly threaten to assasinate government officials. There are local statutes against indecency. That's about the extent of restrictions on the press. So if a network angers the President, he might not invite their reporters to press conferences, and their reputation suffers, but he can't just close them down. Clinton did that to somebody, but I can't remember who. We're much more pious about the first amendment to the Constitution than the others, even some of the restrictions that Canadian judges get away with are fairly horrifying to us.
Interesting things are happening in the news media here now. TV news and most newspapers are quite left-wing and hostile to the President. Their point of view is not that unlike that of Europe. They privately refer to everyplace between Los Angeles and New York as "fly over country", and prefer European ways of doing things. The main difference between European TV news and American TV news is that on our news, they present things somewhat simplistically because they think Americans are stupid. There's a very strong tradition that they are supposed to be objective, so their biases are fairly subtle (they never yell "down with Capitalism"). Less mainstream media, like the radio, have recently started to set themselves directly in opposition to this. They present conservative opinion though, basically, not so much news, and they openly present it as such.