Saturday, December 11, 2004

Catholocism Gone Wild 

Well, at least the protestant fundamentalists don't have a lock-down monopoly on bat shit crazy and gay-bashing. Enter Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic League!
Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That‘s why they hate this movie. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.

Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.
Note how he threw in some underhanded anti-semitism to give the sauce a real bite. This guy has got to be the Iron Chef of bigotry.

There's a lot wrong with Hollywood and I'm the first one to trash the tripe that gets pumped out of there day in and day out. I barely watch TV anymore and haven't seen a movie in the theater that I thought was really worth $8, ads before the movie and product placement galore for some time now.

With all the problems in Hollywood (crass commercialism, vanity to the nth degree, Keanu Reaves), this guy can't find anything to say to help correct the situation except to not-so-subtly insinuate that we should get rid of all the jews and gays that hate kids and love abortions? It's like he really believes there's some gay jew hiding in his closet performing abortions on little catholic girls while he's trying to sleep at night.

And if he's really interested in spreading his values, do you think this kind of make-friendly talk is going to win over any converts from the land of the "libertines"?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Softs v. Hards 

Peter Beinart's article in The New Republic deserves the attention it's getting. Thanks to Jeff for making me finally aim some of my procrastination at it in this post, which (intentional or not - pretty sure it is) serves as a good response to my post here, where I not so subtly called him out.

I'm going to need some time to digest the article. It's thought provoking and the ideas put forth are (though not new. I know) put forth in a way that requires them to be confronted by people who think as I do about the world. I plan on doing that confronting, and I can't do it in a blog post or while finals are raging - but I will do it.

My only immediate reaction to the article is that it has no effect on my thinking about the Iraq war generally (that it should not have been at all - at the very least not as early as it was). But it will likely have impact on my thinking on the war on terror, including what we must do in Iraq now that we are there. I promise to do a post on this as soon as I get my ideas gathered...obviously after finals since this will likely be a big one.

The article coincides well with my recent thinking on the war on terror. I did support the war in Afghanistan, and did not support the war in Iraq. I don't think that is inconsistent at all as I think the war in Iraq will do more to help Islamist Totalitarianism (there's that term I've been looking for - thanks Beinart) than to hinder it. But that's an empirical decision, not a normative one. In other words the reason I opposed the Iraq war and still think it was a bad idea is because I believe it will help our enemy in the long run, not because I want to help our enemy in the long run.

I do think the left needs to sit down and talk with itself about foreign policy and should do so on it's own terms. I'm willing to be a part of that debate - with an open mind.

UPDATE: Fafblog chimes in on the article. Satire can really communicate sometimes.

Oh yeah, and no blogging for a while. I may get a post or two in before the 17th, but then I'll be gone fishin' through Christmas. HOLLAH!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

It Never Really Stopped 

As is happening now with the Orejuela's in Columbia, the U.S. government made a big deal of working with Mexican officials to crack down on drug trafficking through the resort town of Cancun, back in the late 90's.

Now, after we arrested and extradited a bunch of traffickers, including some higher-ups in the Juarez cartel, things should be better...right?

Wrong. In the last few days, 9 bodies have turned up around Cancun, and two police officers that had been kidnapped and interrogated are telling of massive drug trafficking operations still working through Cancun.
Residents of Puerto Morelos, a sleepy fishing hamlet south of Cancun, say that cocaine shipments haven't stopped, despite frequent military patrols along streets and beaches.

"It never really stopped," said Helena, a Puerto Morelos resident who asked that her last name not be used for fear of reprisals. "At night, on more deserted stretches of coast, it still happens. It will as long as the authorities tolerate it."
The corruption is too entrenched, both here an abroad. Just as the cartels, both directly and indirectly, provide for the livelihoods of huge numbers of people in Latin America, there are entire agencies and massive bureaucracies here in the U.S. that are funded solely to fight this neverending, unwinnable war. The only way to make any changes is to divest these entrenched interests, and the only way to do that viably is to end prohibition - one way or another.

Democracy Promotion in the Middle East 

I had a conversation with one of my favorite hawks a week or two back. Favorite not just because he's a badass guy, but because he believes the war is justified on liberal grounds of democracy promotion of the Wilsonian "war to end all wars" sort.

I have often disparaged this position (not the people who hold it) as the "triple bank shot democracy promotion justification." I'm all for democracy, I just harbor a few reservations.

First, I find it unclear whether democracy through force is a viable method of engendering a truly pluralistic, liberal government or society.

Second, I don't believe for a second that Bush really gives a good goddamn about whether people in the Middle East end up in democracies or not. But then again I am a notorious Bush basher and even I admit my judgment concerning the man can be clouded by my deep distaste for him.

This second reason is why headlines in the New York Times like "U.S. Slows Bid to Advance Democracy in Arab World" tend to catch my eye.
President Bush started speaking in 2002 about the need to bring democracy to the Arab nations. Since then, however, the popular view of the United States in the region has grown so dark, even hateful, that American officials are approaching the meeting with caution and with a package of financial and social initiatives that have only a scant relationship to the original goal of political change.
I'm shocked...just absolutely shocked. Now I know this does not mean, necessarily, that democracy promotion will completely fall by the wayside. But it's hard to get a populace fired up about a war, and then get them fired up about helping those people rebuild immediately thereafter. The constant use of 9/11 during the lead up to the war, not to mention the Bush campaign, has led to some general, vague ill-will against Arabs in many in our own populace. Surprised? Me neither. It's hard to build a policy of nation-building on a platform of revenge.

The reason I mentioned my friend earlier, and he knows who he is and will hopefully argue cogently against me as he usually does in comments, is that I know he is serious about democracy promotion. I gather his seriousness about it is, in large part, the basis on which his support of this administration rests.

I hope he's right and that these people are serious about helping to build legitimate democracies in the Middle East. But stuff like this makes me worry:
A senior administration official involved in Middle East policy said that if the American program remained largely centered on business and financial initiatives, "that's not good enough." The United States needs "to hold people accountable," he added.

Another official working in the same area added that Arab leaders were "willing to take the aid, but they're not willing to carry out the reform."
Now I recognize that most of the problem here is with the Arab leaders, who have a vested interest in not-democracy. But shouldn't we at least be a little more strident in making true reform a contingency of any aid and business development?

Perhaps the new sheepishness can be attributed to this:
The senior Arab diplomat offered a broader warning.

"Something must happen as a result of this meeting," he said. "If nothing happens, it will be very difficult to keep this alive because there are lots of people who want to kill it."
I can only hope that this is all a matter of pragmatism to keep reform efforts alive long enough for them to eventually take root and flourish. If that's the case, then I'll be happy if proved wrong, as is the case with so much involving Iraq and the new interest in democracy promotion on the right.

If I'm proven right, and this is just the first step in a wholesale abandonment of democracy promotion in favor of self-interest and "stability" (i.e., stability that is good for our corporations), then Guantanamo is too good for Bush Co.

UPDATE: Relatedly, here's Bush on "President" Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan:
One of the interesting lessons that the world can look at is Pakistan. You see, there are some in the world who do not believe that a Muslim society can self-govern. Some believe that the only solution for government in parts of the world is for there to be tyranny or despotism. I don't believe that. The Pakistan people have proven that those cynics are wrong. And where President Musharraf can help in world peace is to help remind people what is possible. And the solution in the Middle East is for there to be a world effort to help the Palestinians develop a state that is truly free--one that's got an independent judiciary, one that's got a civil society, one that's got the capacity to fight off the terrorists, one that allows for dissent, one in which people can vote. And President Musharraf can play a big role in helping achieve that objective.
WHA?!?! Our model of democracy in the Middle East is a "president" who came to power through a military coup and then changed the rules to solidify his power for life? The same guy who allowed his nuclear scientists to give nuclear secrets and materials to the likes of Iran and North Korea and then pardoned him when he got caught?

You gotta be kidding me.

UPDATE on the update: Okay, that sounds like I think ol' Pervez is unmitigated evil, which isn't the case. I think he runs a reasonably moderate government in the face of an increasingly fundamentalist population and for that he should be commended. But to hold up his government as an examplar at this stage is still laughable.

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