Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 23, 2011 - August 16, 2011

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sharia and the City

Samantha Satan

REMINDER. I'm going to depart from male custom here by not slamming or patronizing the old HBO series Sex and the City. Mrs. CP liked it and she has nearly as strong an aversion to chick-flicks as I do. She actually shudders when the subject of Terms of Endearment comes up, and two of her favorite movies from the last few years are Taken and Die Hard 4. I knew this about her entertainment tastes a long time ago, so when she said she thought Sex and the City was funny, I watched it with her on HBO. It was funny. And I think men who go out of their way to dismiss it are either protesting too much or not very interested in women.

For example, I could see at least three estimable antecedents for the show. There's the Clare Booth Luce play, and later movie, called The Women, which is a fascinating and witty peek behind the curtain into the way women speak and act to each other when men are not around. Most wonderfully, The Women had a sense of humor about itself, peculiarly female and therefore engrossing.

I also flashed immediately on a movie called Woman's World, which I saw as a kid and thought the epitome of fifties industrial glamour -- as opposed to Hollywood glamour. A baron of the automotive industry is seeking to fill the most powerful position in his company, and so he invites the three most qualified candidates and their wives to a weekend in New York. Penthouses, black tie dinners, private interactions and conflicts, and dinner conversations. The plot key is that the iconic mogul played by Clifton Webb is going to make his hiring decision on the basis of the wives, not the husbands. It's not a comedy; it's rather a clever drama, exploring all the way back in 1954 the secret truth that women are just as crucial to every man's success story as his own talents are. The husbands were played by Van Heflin, Fred MacMurray, and Cornel Wilde. The wives were Lauren Bacall, June Allyson, and Arlene Dahl. Sex played a part, too, in the understated but recognizable fashion of the times.

There was a third unmistakeable antecedent for Sex and the City, a British show called Absolutely Fabulous, which you either know about and are a huge fan of, or you don't and are missing one of the last great comedic masterpieces of the dead Brit empire. The show was about a middle-aged hippie (Jennifer Saunders) now in London's trendy set, her dowdy 'green' daughter, her sociopathic ex-model, ex-Stones-groupie friend (Joanna Lumley), and their confused adventures with champagne, marijuana, sex, and fashionable fads in fin de siecle Britain. Sex and the City struck me as the closest an American TV series could come to the irreverent, mordant humor of Ab-Fab, lesser but worthy and original in its own way.

Satire, glamour, and a peek behind the curtain. Not a bad combination. The first Sex and the City movie scored a 49 percent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes scale. The new movie is presently at 14 percent. What's so bad about it? Here's a hint from Newsbusters:

Media Defend Islam from 'Sex and the City' Jibes

By Nathan Burchfiel

There are some review snippets that likely won’t end up as movie poster taglines:

“an affront to Muslims” – USA Today

“breathtaking cultural insensitivity” – Washington Post

“cinematic Viagra for Western cultural imperialists”-

Of all the criticisms that could likely be launched against Warner Bros.’ new “Sex and the City 2” movie, the media have latched onto the film’s reported depictions of misogynist policies in Muslim nations.

It was USA Today that called the movie “an affront to Muslims.” Reviewer Claudia Puig wrote that director Michael Patrick King “is out of his league attempting to comment on the inequitable treatment of Muslim women. He ends up mocking religious beliefs and making Carrie and her friends appear insensitive.”

Many reviews are quick to defend Muslim culture, or at least Abu Dhabi, which does seem a less-than-compelling example of a society out-of-touch with modern notions of gender equality. (Some reviews do take on the other questionable material including the sleaze and rampant materialism, but the media loved the first big-screen adaptation of the HBO series.)

The criticisms of “Sex and the City 2” as “blatantly anti-Muslim,” as The Hollywood Reporter described it, may be perfectly valid. But where were these defenders of the faith when moviemakers attacked other religions?

At the risk of appearing to compare “Sex and the City 2” with a comedic masterpiece, take the 2004 DVD release of Monty Python’s 1979 “Life of Brian,” a vicious satire of the Gospel stories.

The Washington Post found it “hard to believe that it was such a controversial film when it first came out.” Reviewer Ann Hornaday, the same person who accused “Sex and the City 2” of “cultural insensitivity” couldn’t understand how Christians would find it offensive to feature a Christ-figure, joined by a chorus of the crucified, singing, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

Or how about “Saved!,” a less-beloved anti-Christian movie released in 2004? The film, which depicts the lives of several Christian-school students as they deal – poorly – with an unplanned pregnancy, was far from offensive to The review complained that it was “conspicuously lacking both guts and well-sharpened teeth.”

The media double standard for entertainment is clear. Satirize – or just flat-out attack – Christianity and receive a resounding “encore!” or, at worst, a “try harder next time. Depict Muslim culture in a negative light in a film ostensibly about feminism and female empowerment, and prepare for two big thumbs down.

It’s a good thing “Sex and the City 2” director King didn’t try to depict Muhammad.

What is it that's so offensive? Big Hollywood's John Nolte tries to explain as he defends the director and the movie from a tidal wave of detractors:

Some of the criticism is fair. Some of it is not. But we begin with a sentence I never thought I’d write:  “Sex and the City 2” is a subversively patriotic, anti-Islamist fairy tale that ultimately comes down on the side of traditional values, and its creator, Michael Patrick King, has more guts than most everyone working at his level in the film industry today.


Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has always been my least favorite SATC character. She’s obsessed with sexuality, specifically her own, and the only thing more tedious than exploring human sexuality are those obsessed with doing so. This boorish preoccupation with all things getting laid is really nothing more than self-indulgence, but with an ick factor. [PLEASE.]

Today, however, the proudly promiscuous Samantha is my new hero. And so is director King.

One of the film’s better plotlines (there are four and only two really work) involves the brazenly sexual Samantha having to deal with a cultural environment that frowns upon and feels threatened by a woman unafraid to admit she enjoys sex and eager to troll for it by showing off her admirably toned figure. In cowardly hands, the fish-out-of-water tension necessary to pay this idea off would’ve been set in some beautiful southern city like Savannah, where the old trope of stuffy fundamentalist Christians would’ve been trotted out without so much as an eyebrow arch of outrage from the progressive press. King not only avoids this tired, unfair cliché, he goes so far as to take his fashionable foursome to the Middle East where he intends to make an effectively damning statement about the oppression of women at the hands of Islamic Nazis.

Samantha has spent the better part of her working vacation in Abu Dhabi being told by her PC friends, especially the uptight Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), to cover up her body – even by the pool – and to behave appropriately so as not to offend a culture that keeps their women firmly in place under heavy black burqas. Eventually her lusty needs get the best of her and she’s arrested for openly kissing a man on the beach. Upon release, her male Arab hosts add insult to humiliation by pulling the hospitality rug out from under her. This results in a mad dash to find a lost passport. But Samantha, who’s dressed reasonably by Western standards in a modest pair of shorts, halter top and blouse, is too uncomfortable to cover herself due to hot flashes (long story) and is soon surrounded by a menacing, hostile crowd of at least fifty outraged men.

This moment isn’t played for comedy. Violence is in the air and when Samantha’s purse spills and condom packages splay everywhere, something’s got to give, and God bless her, it’s Samantha who gives it. In a rousing and hilarious act of truly courageous, feminist defiance, with one hand Samantha waves her condoms like the flag of liberty and with the other lifts the “Fuck you” finger high in the air and lets that putrid gang of Islamist thugs have it:

“That’s right, I enjoy sex! Fuck you, I like it!”

A little later, back in America and with red, white and blue fireworks exploding overhead, Samantha’s back getting her brains screwed out on the hood of a jeep as Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) voice-over mentions with no small amount of appreciation, “the land of the free.”

I'm not saying you should go see the movie. It sounds overlong to me and maybe one too many trips to the well. But I am saying that there's something here worth paying attention to. We've endured and survived the big-time Islamic terror offensive. So far so good. Yet I'm beginning to sense that we're at the beginning of the second wave, a big-time Sharia offensive. Suddenly, we're seeing a flood of stories indicating some altogether new hyper-vigilance about muslim sensitivities. The censored South Park episode. The embarrassingly apologetic non-event that was Draw Mohammed Day. Attorney General Eric Holder's painful congressional testimony in which he nearly had a stroke trying to evade the concession that Islamic fascism is a contributor to Islamic terrorism. Liberal support for the outrageous plan to build a huge mosque opposite Ground Zero and open it on September 11, 2011. And now the universal trashing of a movie because it dares to point out that Islam oppresses women???!!! What happened to feminism? Wasn't Sex and the City popular in the first place because it flaunted the fact that women are just as obsessed with sex as men are and that's a good thing?

Here's a litmus test for you. When I first saw the trailers for Sex and the City 2, I instantly thought of an Ab-Fab episode called "Morocco," which features the two jaded stars of the show embarked on a sex-and-drugs vacation in the muslim world. Jokes about burkhas, harems, sex, sex, third world toilets, etc. On the whole, more politically incorrect than anything I'd expect to see in the "offensive" new movie.

Funny thing. Ab-Fab has run on PBS, BBC America, and the hyper-muslim-sensitive Comedy Channel. Will Ab-Fab's "Morocco" now be suddenly and invisibly withdrawn from the marathons of this show that still run periodically on cable and broadcast television? We'll see. If the rules have changed as I think they have, with no official notification to the rest of us about the new regime of 'Sharia Correctness,' you'll never see this episode again.

But you can see it right now. Here's Part 1.

Here's Part 2.

And here's Part 3:

Don't be fooled by the credits. Keep watching to the very end.

Until YouTube wises up and silently kills it. In the meantime, enjoy. It's just plain funny.

Idiot Insiders

UH, DONE. Crap. It doesn't do us any good now. But it's important to remember. Our 'betters' are also human. Peggy Noonan had this to say today.

I don't see how the president's position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don't see how you politically survive this.

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another.

I don't relish the implied recantation that's underway here. What bothers me is the temerity of the post in the first place. As if we should listen to her now, all these months and years later, when she was obviously such a smitten airhead to begin with.

Shouldn't people like Peggy Noonan simply resign their media posts? They were guilty of a colossal error of character judgment that helped decide a critical presidential election. When hundreds of others were screaming at her that she was wrong, wrong, wrong about her assessment of a lightly credentialed junior senator from, uh, nowhere, she insisted she knew better.

But that's not how the mainstream media works. She's allowed to "discover" her error and keep right on writing as if she has some wisdom to share with us. Worse, she's willing to do it.

She doesn't have any such wisdom or right to keep writing. Here's the list of InstaPunk posts about Peggy Noonan and her frankly dumbshit observations about Barack Obama. The first was insightful, but then her hormones kicked in. Infatuation is no kind of basis for political commentary. She can never be trusted again.

She was right and then she was wrong, wrong, laughably wrong. So why is she still paid to write about politics? How dumb do they think we are? How gullible?

I don't know about you, but I'm offended. Even to see her name on a byline anymore makes me want to throw up.

But here's the best thing about the Internet. History. It's all captured, recorded. Permanently. Newspaper wags used to live in a constant present. Once the paper became fishwrap, accountability vanished into the trashcan with the bones and stinking, bug-eyed, severed heads. No longer the case. The Chris Matthews's leg tingle is eternal, which is why he can't pretend to be Edward R. Murrow when he finally gets an elementary point he should never have missed. Or any of them. Obama is not qualified to be President of the United States. When the pompous know-it-alls tumble to that simple fact now, we're supposed to be impressed, interested, cock our heads in an attitude of respectful attention? No. We should be tapping our fingers waiting for a letter of resignation from the fools who deluded themselves and did their best to convince us of their fantasies.

Which we are. Tapping our fingers. Impatiently.

One more thing the MSM doesn't get. One more reason why the rules have changed forever. One more proof that the page is turning and won't ever turn back.

What blogs have that dead-tree versions of newspapers don't:  immediately accessible archives. Go ahead. Check me out as a pundit. Sure, I've been wrong a few times. But only a few. And never for long. Mostly I've been right. Which is why I've never deleted a post in seven-plus years (or a dozen depending on how you count) of blogging.

Peggy. Go away. You're obsolete. Hasta la vista, baby.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Enhanced Administration Techniques


BUSY BUSY BUSY. Thank God we have a president who knows when to put his foot down. It's all BP's fault, all BP's responsibility, and all BP's problem. Except for the taking credit part. Which the president is happy to do if the "damn hole" in the Gulf has finally been plugged. But who's going to plug the damn hole in the president's head?

Just asking.

Should I analyze more, explain more, comment more, draw inferences and conclusions? uh, no. It's all exactly what it looks like: Idiots in Charge all round.

P.S. I realize some of you don't take the initial links on IP posts. This time, I'm thinking I'd better show you what's behind the "Busy Busy Busy." Here it is:

This morning, President Obama will meet with the NCAA men’s basketball champion Duke Blue Devils at the White House to honor their 2009-2010 championship season in the Rose Garden.

Keeping up the sports theme, the president and the vice president will take a photo with the U.S. World Cup soccer team and former President Bill Clinton, who is chairing the 2018 World Cup bid, on the North Portico. The White House has previously announced that Vice President Biden and Jill Biden will attend the World Cup in South Africa next month.

Afterward, the president will a private have lunch with President Clinton in the Private Dining Room.

In the afternoon, the President will deliver remarks on the BP oil spill and the conclusions of his ordered 30-day safety review and hold a press conference in the East Room.

The president will announce standards to strengthen oversight of the industry and enhance safety, a first step in a process that the independent Presidential Commission will continue, a White House official says.

In the meantime, the moratorium on permits to drill new deepwater wells will continue for a period of six months. In addition, the planned exploration off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas will be delayed pending the Comissions review and the August lease sale in the Western Gulf will be cancelled. The lease sale off the coast of Virginia will also be cancelled due to environmental concerns and concerns raised by the Defense Department.

After taking questions from press, the President will then receive a briefing in the Situation Room on the 2010 hurricane season forecast and an overview of the federal government’s national hurricane preparedness. The briefing will be led by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, as well as five FEMA Regional Administrators.

In the afternoon, Mr. Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia in the Oval Office.

Later in the afternoon, the President, the Vice President and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month in the East Room.

Afterward, in the evening, the First Family will travel to Chicago, Illinois for a four-day Memorial Day weekend vacation. The Obamas have not been back to their hometown all together as a family for more than a year.

Awwww. Let's hope they have enough quiet time to enjoy all their old friends in Chicago and that there's enough machine oil to power the barbecue. If there isn't, they could probably have some flown up from Louisiana.

Occupied Nation

WHO WAS E. B.? A commenter on a recent post -- one Eric Blair, presumptuously enough -- suggested this site was using the word 'war' without fully understanding the meaning of the word. Well, we do understand the meaning of the word and we are using it with deliberate gravity. Here's an excerpt from the post he entirely failed to understand:

This is not a game. It's not a college debate. It's not an Olympic fencing match. It's a war. What are the sides?

The answer to that is daunting if not downright terrifying. It's us -- the common sense American conservatives -- against an Islamic fascism that can't be named, a European cultural and moral exhaustion that can't be forestalled, a burgeoning population of tin-pot, appeasement-emboldened dictators around the world, a secular know-it-all nihilism that can't be out-shouted, an increasingly supine population of government dependents and self-styled victims in the industrial world, and a traitorous, self-hating elite in our own country that has somehow appropriated the media, the academy, science, the public school system, the entire federal and state bureaucracy, and even a significant mindshare of organized Christian churches into a cult of anti-American sedition.

I'd have thought that was a clear statement of casus belli. Apparently not. So now I'm moved to provide an example that even a dead twentieth century Brit might appreciate. The smart ones are contemptuous of resistance to a plan to build a mosque next to Ground Zero and hold the opening festivities on Seprember 11, 2011. Any reason to be disgruntled about that? No:

Ground zero mosque touches off right-wing panic

By Gabriel Winant

AP: Traffic passes a building in lower Manhattan that once housed a Burlington Coat Factory store. A 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center is planned to replace the building that was damaged by airplane debris on Sept. 11, 2001

The way Sarah Palin and the Tea Party populists bash East Coast big city elites, you'd think they might care a little bit less about neighborhood development in lower Manhattan. Maybe I'm old-fashioned that way, but that kind of thing just seems more like an issue for the neighborhood association than for Fox News.

Of course, I'm kidding around. What they care about is treating the place where New Yorkers live, work and worship as a battlefield against a massive, faceless enemy. That enemy, of course, is Islam, writ large.

What's happening: The community board in lower Manhattan has endorsed, by a 29-to-1 vote, a plan to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center about two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Predictably, outrage has erupted. If you type "mosque" into Google, the first suggestion is "mosque at ground zero," which gives a sense of how quickly this has moved into the popular consciousness.

The imam in charge, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is consciously moderate, and has described combating radicalism as his personal mission. Nor is he jumping on the chance to get in the neighborhood to make some point: The mosque is already just a few blocks away, in Tribeca, but has overgrown its current space. Rauf says that he hopes that having a moderate mosque so near ground zero can send a message of tolerance and peace.

But this is something the right wing just can't pass up. These people, and this neighborhood, can't just be people in a neighborhood. They've been conscripted for a larger war...

Mark Williams, a Tea Party leader and Fox News commentator, wrote on his blog, "The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god." He added, "In the meantime I have a wonderful idea along the same lines as that mosque at Ground Zero thing… a nice, shiny new U.S. Military Base on the smoldering ruins of Mecca. Works for me!"

At WorldNetDaily, the Birther Web publication popular on the conservative fringe, an article, written in classic WND style, begins by acting like a straight report -- albeit laced with purple prose about "that fateful day when time stood still." Then author Chelsea Schilling moves on to ominously noting that building inspectors had trouble investigating construction complaints -- almost as if somebody was hiding something. She finishes up by quoting a random selection of racist blog commenters: "Muslims are doing this only to see if they get away with it. It's the way Islam spreads in every country these days, like a cancer -- through incremental totalitarianism," writes one. Another writes, "This is not different than allowing the Nazis to establish their headquarters and propaganda office in NYC in 1938. How come people could tell right from wrong then and not now?"

Lest you think it’s just anonymous trolls producing this stuff, though, check out Pamela Geller, the head of the group "Stop Islamization of America," talking to Joy Behar on CNN. According to Geller, instead of a mosque, the site should be host to a monument to the "victims of hundreds of millions of years of jihadi wars, land enslavements, cultural annihilations and mass slaughter."

You’d think someone who runs a group with "Islam" right in its name might know that the religion is about 1,400 years old -- not "hundreds of millions." I know that all that desert stuff seems super-ancient -- "sands of time" and and all that -- but honestly. "Hundreds of millions"? That’s way, way older than homo sapiens as a species. (Maybe that explains Williams' "monkey god" reference?)

Then there's Andy McCarthy, National Review writer and recent author of a book arguing that liberals are consciously conspiring to betray America to the ravenous Muslim horde. McCarthy recently pointed out on Fox News that there are 2,300 mosques in America, but no churches or synagogues in Muslim holy cities Mecca and Medina.

First of all, I think this fairly puts to rest any notion that the more militant strain of anti-Islamist hawkishness is anything other than full-scale, civilizational hatred. After this eruption, it's going to be a stretch to take seriously claims that the interest of the right-wing base in armed conflict in the Middle East is about anything but an active desire for full-on race war. (I've taken some heat in the past for using this term, but I stand by it. The occurrence of the phrase "monkey god," I think, makes my point rather neatly.) Moreover, it's penetrated quite far into the mainstream of the right, with the flowering of a sub-literature that treats migration patterns and labor markets in Europe like they’re the secret plan for the conquest of Christendom.

In recent years, liberals have become fond of pointing out that this kind of belligerent overreaction to the terrorist threat is exactly what makes terrorism effective. It plays into the hands of Osama bin Laden to treat Islam like our foe in a global, apocalyptic struggle. That's exactly how he sees it, and joining him in this fantasy endorses al-Qaida's ideology.

This is a true and important point, pragmatically. But there's something even worse going on here. It's not just that Gellar, McCarthy, Williams and the rest in the War-with-Islam group are inadvertently playing into the hands of Islamic extremists. They are, exactly, their analogue within our own society. The same things that benefit Islamic radicals benefit anti-Islamic militants. Both groups feed off conflict, and prosper when violence erupts. Their only break from accusing Islam of guilt in wars and mass violence seems to come when they call for wars and mass violence against Muslims.

It's notable how McCarthy seems to think that, in pointing out that the United States has many mosques, but the holy cities of Saudi Arabia have no churches, he's making an appropriate comparison. It's almost as if he demands that we behave just like a theocratically tinged authoritarian monarchy. The hatred these people have for the Muslim world conceals a noticeable yearning -- an envy for its ability to carry out the undemocratic, anti-pluralist, and puritanical measures that the United States has long since abandoned. [boldface mine]

Sigh. New York City. You know the horror movie where the girl is repeatedly warned by her terrified boyfriend on the phone to get out of the house but she refuses to listen because she's a girl who never listens? What happens to her? She gets her throat cut. That's New York City. She always knows better, right up to the moment when the bogeyman grabs her from behind.

In truth, it is a horror movie. New York is our national allegory, the population with the biggest bullseye on its back and the biggest case of denial in the history of western civilization. They condescend to everyone, unfailingly, and they make no bones about the fact that they're superior to all the rest of us, the flyover commoners who gawk up when we're in town and don't know where to buy diamonds and fashions at the right price, or worse the right diamonds and fashions at any price.

Maybe we shouldn't care. They are, after all, pricks of the first order. Except that we know what they don't, which is that they are made possible by the rest of us and are, regardless of their arrogant myopia, part of us and freed by the rest of us to hold their idiotic parochial views of what's going on in the world as if they really were a race apart and above. Which they're most definitely not.

They constitute the capital of Occupied America. They're the new and improved Warsaw Ghetto, improved because sublimely unaware of the trains that are waiting to ship them into a hellish past of persecution, rape, torture, and death. They can't see past their camelhair overcoats and glossy intellectualism to the naked blades that await them. Everything they do, say, and believe increases their attractiveness to the killer in the hockey mask who doesn't think but merely stalks and kills. They're a ten million strong version of the promiscuous counselors at Crystal Lake.

Here's what they refuse to perceive in their 29-1 approval of a mosque aimed like a dagger at their heart:

Is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — founder of the hugely controversial Ground Zero mosque — lying to the American public and his fellow New Yorkers?

We have uncovered extraordinary contradictions between what he says in English and what he says in Arabic that raise serious questions about his true intentions in the construction of the mosque.

On May 25, 2010, Abdul Rauf wrote an article for the New York Daily News insisting:

My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America’s Muslim population into the mainstream society. [emphasis added]

Oh, really?

Only two months before, on March 24, 2010, Abdul Rauf is quoted in an article in Arabic for the website Rights4All entitled “The Most Prominent Imam in New York: ‘I Do Not Believe in Religious Dialogue.’”

Yes, you read that correctly and, yes, that is an accurate translation of Abdul Rauf. And Right4All is not an obscure blog, but the website of the media department of Cairo University, the leading educational institution of the Arabic-speaking world.

In the article, the imam said the following of the “religious dialogue” and “interweaving into the mainstream society” that he so solemnly seems to advocate in the Daily News and elsewhere:

This phrase is inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing. Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers, regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.

But that was two months ago. More recently — in fact on May 26, one day after his Daily News column –  Abdul Rauf appeared on the popular Islamic website Hadiyul-Islam with even more disturbing opinions. That’s the same website where, ironically enough, a fatwa was simultaneously being issued forbidding a Muslim to sell land to a Christian, because the Christian wanted to build a church on it.

In his interview on Hadiyul-Islam by Sa’da Abdul Maksoud, Abdul Rauf was asked his views on Sharia (Islamic religious law) and the Islamic state. He responded:

Throughout my discussions with contemporary Muslim theologians, it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more than just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed. [emphasis added]

When questioned about this, Abdul Rauf continued: “Current governments are unjust and do not follow Islamic laws.” He added:

New laws were permitted after the death of Muhammad, so long of course that these laws do not contradict the Quran or the Deeds of Muhammad … so they create institutions that assure no conflicts with Sharia. [emphasis in translation]

In yet plainer English, forget the separation of church and state.  Abdul Rauf’s goal is the imposition of Shariah law — in every country, even democratic ones like the U.S.

But these attitudes are nothing new for the (alas, few) people who have been paying attention.  Way back on September 30, 2001, Feisal Abdul Rauf was interviewed on 60 Minutes by host Ed Bradley.  Their verbatim  dialogue from this CBS News transcript concluded:

BRADLEY: Are — are — are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?

Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.

BRADLEY: OK. You say that we’re an accessory?



Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.

This is the “anti-terrorist” of the Daily News article?

The Feisal Abdul Rauf who spoke to 60 Minutes in 2001 is the same Abdul Rauf who, in the last couple of months, espoused the spread of Sharia law on Arabic websites and said the opposite in the pages of the Daily News.  He is the man New York City authorities are about to allow to build a mosque on Ground Zero.

Caveat emptor. Meanwhile, perhaps some enterprising reporter should ask Abdul Rauf his opinion of that fatwa forbidding Muslims from selling land to Christians who intend to build a church on it.

Jeez. Here's the thing. I actually do love New York. I've always known that New Yorkers were completely crazy -- I mean, full-grown 40-year-old men who can't drive a car? -- but I don't want them to die. I prefer them to live in the Oz they have created for themselves, even if they don't have the least understanding of the fact that all their financial shenanigans wouldn't mean a thing if there weren't factories and farms and technologies they've had no hand in creating or maintaining. They're like, well, a spoiled daughter, who really thinks the world revolves around her. She's beautiful, she's ours, and who's going to tell her she's more parasite than goddess?

Nobody wants Paris Hilton to be a terrorist victim. Yes, she's a moron, but she looks really fine in her best fashions, doesn't she? Enough, even, that most of us can even overlook it when she forgets her panties getting out of a Rolls Royce.

The problem comes when she forgets her panties with people who want to kill the rest of us. When is it exactly that we decide to stop spoiling her? And shave her head. And turn her out in the public square as a traitor. Thing is, it's not just Paris and the cafe set. It's all the ones we called out before, who also live in and rule New York City. The ones who think they're smart enough, clever enough, and wise enough to live their platinum lives in support or in spite of... Islamic fascism that can't be named, a European cultural and moral exhaustion that can't be forestalled, a burgeoning population of tin-pot, appeasement-emboldened dictators around the world, a secular know-it-all nihilism that can't be out-shouted, an increasingly supine population of government dependents and self-styled victims in the industrial world, and a traitorous, self-hating elite in our own country that has somehow appropriated the media, the academy, science, the public school system, the entire federal and state bureaucracy, and even a significant mindshare of organized Christian churches into a cult of anti-American sedition.

When their skyline looks like this, it won't be just their business any longer. It will be all our business, and we'll all be in deep shit.

What they don't realize is that the bubble they live in is and has has always been at our sufferance, protected by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, no matter how superior they feel at the theater. When can we, and should we, lower the boom?

What does it take to make us realize that we are an Occupied Nation stuffed to the gills with collaborators? Would that put you on a war footing?

It has me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good versus Evil

ECHOES. I don't know anything about Robert E. Howard, and I've lost all my faith in the Brits, but this still sounds like a movie worth seeing, whenever it's released in the U.S.

From a review at Big Hollywood.

This is not the lame rip off that Van Helsing was, this is a faithful adaption of Howard with no tongue-in-cheek, campy scenes. Here’s a hero who’s fighting evil in the name of God, something you don’t see much anymore. And he’s not afraid of taking on whatever comes his way, no matter how terrifying it may be. He’s fierce and unwavering and even demons from hell better think twice about pissing him off. My kind of character.

I saw the film and I can tell you that it’s way better than you’d expect. Excellent music, effects, acting. A top notch supporting cast which includes Max Von Sydow and Pete Postlethwaite, but even better, a great leading man in the title role, James Purefoy. Purefoy rocked Rome as Marc Antony and is perfect here. Purefoy does Howard’s character right.

Yes, it’s got demons, witches, and warlocks in it. It’s full on, unapologetic pulp fantasy and it’s definitely on point. Most fantasy films fail to pull it off because they don’t understand the rules. They either let some actors chew scenery or they throw in attempts at humor that undermine the suspense of disbelief needed to keep you with the story. Writer/director Michael J. Bassett knows how to do fantasy. The film is solidly entertaining from start to finish.

Maybe some of you know more about the author and the book than I do. Feel free to educate me. But I really like the pilgrim hat. And the swords and guns and savage killing.

The Ministry of Truth
in operation

Prep school star. Kewl. Like what's-his-name in baseball.

BLACK HOLE. First, let me be clear what I'm not saying. I'm not saying President Obama isn't a sports fan. He is. But I'm taking exception to this little nugget of propaganda from a venerable sportswriter at the Los Angeles Times who should know better:

The First Fan, with his support of the White Sox and Bulls, shares our passion for sports, unlike any president before him and in ways that only true sports nuts will understand. [italics mine]

Sure he's a Bulls fan, but a White Sox fan? Judge for yourself:

"I'm a South-side kid and I've got to make sure that (White Sox chairman) Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't get too angry with me," Obama said afterward on the air with Nationals broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble.

The president has never held in words of affection for the White Sox. So it seemed natural when Dibble asked Obama to name one of his favorite White Sox players growing up.

"You know, uh, I thought that, uh, you know, the truth is that a lot of the Cubs I liked, too, but I did not become a Sox fan until I moved to Chicago," Obama said. "I was growing up in Hawaii and so I ended up actually being an Oakland A's fan. But when I moved to Chicago, I was living close to what was then Cominskey Park and went to a couple games and just fell in love."

Yes, he said Cominskey Park, similar to the "Cominskey Field" he praised over the summer during an interview with MLB Network's Bob Costas.

During the MLB Network interview, Costas repeated "the Old Comiskey Park" back to him a few moments later. Carpenter and Dibble just let the president go, and he took a mild shot at Cubs fans.

"And the nice thing about the Sox is it's real blue-collar baseball," Obama said. "We always tease about the Cubs, they, you know, they're up at Wrigley sipping wine …"

A few points. The president was never a "South-side kid," as the picture up top should demonstrate. He was a Hawaiian kid. He didn't name a single White Sox player in the interview. And he has repeated a previous interview error that the namesake of the White Sox ballpark was "Cominskey." Hard not to draw the inference that what he likes about the White Sox is chiefly their blue-collar (proletariat) identity versus the white collar (bourgeoisie) identity of the Cubs.

Granted, it's incumbent on presidents to like all sports, which is unfair since hardly anyone ever does, but that's not what I'm concerned with here. I'm concerned about a flat-out lie whose teller confidently expects to be believed because he simply declares it so. That's more than a bit Orwellian. In fact, it's a lot Orwellian, given the particular circumstances of this lie. It's so Orwellian that it's not really about sports but the old Newspeak definitions of "truth" and "non-person."

But I'll start the discussion a little farther afield because it will make the ultimate point easier to understand. There's no doubt that Obama has a strong affiliation with basketball. He likes to play it...

And he likes to talk about it...

And pontificate about it...

Pretty convincing, no? But have you noticed anything in common among these demonstrations of presidential fandom? They're all one-on-one. The president -- in a rigged format -- is more or less showing off. Is that really sport, or fan behavior, or love of the game? I've got two problems with these proofs of Obama's love of sports. First, it all looks like ego. "Hey, not only am I brilliant, I'm also a cool jock." He just talks too much, on the court and off.

Second, in celebrating basketball, he is reinforcing what I personally believe is the single most annihilating lie believed by black people in America -- the notion that being good at basketball is some kind of ticket to economic independence or cultural emancipation in the United States. It isn't. It's the most ignorantly seductive of dead-ends. Rather than posturing about brackets, I'd expect a president who played prep school basketball and went no further to insist that young people should get an education like he got, not harbor infantile delusions about sacrificing everything for one of 500 jobs that seem to parcel out as much prison time as they do millions of dollars. Should a president of the United States endorse Powerball (with a downside of Attica) as an example of the American dream?

But maybe that's just me. Except that our president seems far less comfortable with sports circumstances that involve mere fun or community, national, or expressly patriotic emotions. Take bowling:

As opposed to this:

Oops. Who brought HIM up? Do we even know who HE is anymore? What do they mean 'president'? Who? Him? Huh? Well, the sports department of the Los Angeles Times has no recollection of him. Maybe they remember this instead:

Awww. So it's actually Clinton who's responsible for this slight embarrassment of the all time 'First Fan:'

Always the way, isn't it? In the age of celebrity and blanketing media, the opportunities for stepping on your own dick are legion. We understand. No problem. No harm, no foul.

The only thing we're having a hard time assimilating is who this guy might be. If you have any idea, let us know. Some of the old YouTube relicts would have it that he was a president at some point too. Frankly, we don't remember him. It couldn't possibly be possible that he was both a president and a sports fan -- and athlete -- at a level beyond what the Los Angeles Times has thought fit to acknowledge. Could it?

Whoever he was -- who knows? -- he must have liked baseball. But a president has to like more than one sport, the way, say, Obama likes the White Sox of Cominskey Field. Right, Bill Plaschke?

Hmmm. Somebody emailed us that this mysterious nonperson was named Bush. Doesn't ring a bell, but we did find this strange article on the internet:

...George W. Bush playfully kicked a football and presided over the pre-game coin toss on Saturday as he basked in the pageantry of the annual Army-Navy game, one of the sport's most storied rivalries.

The crowd at Lincoln Financial Field let out hearty cheers of "USA, USA" as Bush made his way to midfield for the ceremonial coin toss, which Army won. At about the 30 yard-line he saw a football on tee from the warm-ups, took a few steps and just gave it a boot, almost 15 yards worth. He later shook hands with the players and game officials.

He told CBS from the sidelines that he appreciated the chance "to come and be with people who will be joining the finest military in the history of the world." Asked what he would miss most about being president, Bush mentioned treasuring his role as commander in chief "of men and women of courage and character and decency."

Both teams heard pep talks from Bush before taking the field. "I wish you all the best today. Play hard, I'm proud of you," he said in the Navy locker room. To the Army squad, he said, "Have fun out there."

It was Bush's third time at the Army-Navy game, considered one of the most intense and passionate yearly rivalries, regardless of the records of the teams. The Army players wore camouflage helmets and pants; the backs of their jerseys had the words "Duty, Honor, Country"... Bush also attended the game in 2004, when he was asked on the field who he thought would win and responded: "The United States of America." His first Army-Navy game as president was in 2001, less than three months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

'First Fan' Barack Obama was busy during last year's Army-Navy game, but Obama is the President of the United States. (If you doubt it, watch the "POTUS" basketball game above. See?) Truth is, we can't find out much about the guy who threw a strike at Yankee Stadium and then kicked a football at the Army-Navy game. Although he seems to be a jogger too.

And his wife insists that he likes watching baseball as much as he enjoys putting on airs in flak jackets about it:

It's a mystery. Seems like we should have heard of this guy, but frankly, we just can't place him. Have you ever had that feeling that there's something at the tip of your tongue, or the back of your mind, that you just can't quite put your finger on?

I mean, do you ever.................................. uh, excuse us. It's time for the two-minute hate. REPUBLICANS SUCK!!! We'll be back at you later. With more about the unrivalled  'First Fan.' Unlike any president we remember before him.

P.S. Struggling with that other phrase about presidential sports fans: "ways that only true sports nuts will understand." uh, I'm a sports nut. Have to admit it means something unique to me when I think of it in a presidential context. Something other than "My analysis of brackets is very intelligent." More along the lines, if I'm being honest, of what it is about sports that binds the nation together and represents some kind of shared belief system. I admit I do think about the Army-Navy game, of contests as preparations for great moral challenges, not dubiously paid for freak shows. And I think, as I always have, of the one position in organized sports I always fantasized about more than any other. Not quarterback. Even on the offense, his first step is almost always a step back. For him, immediate retreat is the fullest expression of doing the job right. Not goalie. Same sense of shield rather than spear.

Pitcher. Even old guys go to sleep with sports fantasies. I am, in my waning moments at night, Sandy Koufax, ultimate predator on the mound. Fastball, curveball, changeup. Unhittable. And pardon me if I think it's the purest presidential metaphor sports has to offer. The pitcher sets the pace of the game. He stands above all on the mound. He hurls each pitch like an idea. which can be ignored, damned, or turned terribly against him. But he is always the hero of the piece -- conquering or tragic. He never wins with a single crushing blow. He wins by remaining on the mound, overcoming his opposition, enduring the innings, surviving the waves of opposition, striking out the most fearsome of his opponents. In all of sports, there is no position more like a priest, more completely alone, simultaneously pro-active and vulnerable and defending against the awfullest thing imaginable with (sometimes superlatively) positive action.

Which is maybe why I respond more strongly than I should (maybe) to the image of a president who took the mound like the western world's closer in its darkest ninth inning ever. And threw a strike that thrilled a nation. Whoever that closer was.

Now that I've made a fool of myself, I'm thinking, "Only true sports nuts will understand."

In my dreams. But you're all too young to understand my dreams.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Speakers of Truth, Part II:

The Importance of Reason

Melanie Phillips. I'm going to give you two opportunities to
watch her C-span video because it's so crucial that you do.
I ask 16 minutes worth of watching. They'll be the best spent
16 minutes you've spent on internet video this year. My word.

IS INSTAPUNK MEAN? I'll begin by citing one of our commenters on the previous related post, JS:

The problems the Left has caused do not need book length explanations or solutions. They are simple to see and simple to solve. They are easy to recognize and easy to fix, as they are in direct opposition to everything this country was founded on. But all I ever read is "We can't say that! We'll get in trouble!"

I know JS thinks I'm occasionally guilty of this as well, but he should draw heart from the fact that I think he is 98 percent right. That's my second opportunity for asking all of you to watch 16 minutes (at least) of the Melanie Phillips video. In that time, she effectively demolishes the argument for global warming, the "Bush lied, people died" argument against the war in Iraq, the victimization of Israel as the source of oppression in the Middle East, and the arrogant irrationalism of Dawkins and company in promoting atheism as the 'reasonable' antidote to malignant religious faith. She also expressly confirms the validity of common sense in opposition to the anti-rational nonsense promulgated by the intelligentsia. That's a lot of ground to cover in 16 minutes.

I'll wait while you watch. (Feel free to watch longer. She covers a lot more territority with a lot more specificity if you have the patience. If you hang on through the Q&A session, you'll also experience the unique cultural tic known as the "Oxford stutter.")

Without quoting word for word, I'll paraphrase a few of the more memorable points of the video for those who are, well, impatient. They are, interestingly, all points which have been made explicitly here at InstaPunk over the years (Lake? Eduardo? Care to fisk this post with IP links? If you have the time... I understand if not), except possibly for the first one, which we have only speculated on:  in America, we have cultural wars; in Britain they have cultural collapse. Others? Science has itself become a religious faith, admitting of no dissension that is dealt with factually or by any means other than ad-hominem attack. The assault on formal religion by secularists is specific to Judeo-Christian religion and is purposed overwhelmingly toward the repeal of Genesis, because it is the moral order represented by an absolutist creator god which is most unacceptable in an age which bases its moral relativism on the absence of any objective truth.

Continuing... Ironically, what unites the supposed rationalists of secular evangelism is an apocalyptic 'millenarianism' derived directly from the Old Testament concept of Original Sin. In short, man must be punished. But not for sins against God. Because it's western civilization itself which must be punished in particular for sins against minorities, the earth, and, presumably, the universe. All of which is, in the aggregate, insane, irrational, and disposed against civilization in favor of barbarism. One questioner pointed out that usage of the word 'civilization' was never plural till the middle of the 19th century. Its historically singular form was an ideal expressly opposed to barbarism. The idea that all human organization above the level of hunter-gatherer subsistence represented some variety of civilization was the beginning of multi-culturalism -- and moral relativism.

She also made another point repeated here almost ad-nauseam. That the age of reason and science was almost purely a product of Judeo-Christian believers -- uh, the people who invented reason in the first place and still practice it -- which means that the concerted attempt we see today to synonymize faith with irrational superstition, resistance to science, and unthinking (conservative) stupidity is both malicious and false (i.e., The World Upside Down). Which led somehow to the metaphor of the choir. Phillips says at one point she realized that the admonition against preaching to the choir was wrong. The choir needs to be motivated to keep singing, because all the most highly 'educated' voices are telling it to remain silent.

But the Oxford journalist is trumped in some respects by JS. And I think she'd agree. "The problems the Left has caused do not need book length explanations or solutions. They are simple to see and simple to solve. They are easy to recognize and easy to fix." That's her point, made so much more laboriously, about common sense, which transcends pure reason because it seamlessly encompasses human wisdom as well as history and nature. A point I think we made here at less than book length.

Which has always been our bottom line at IP. It's the real reason we get into such big fights with the sophisticated folks who become mesmerized by the ins and outs of Washington politics, who's up, who's down, who's got a point this time, who's not phrasing or packaging things right, and who might have the better argument in the current political environment.

It's all bullshit. Common sense is still what matters. Big organizations are soul-destroying, the more so the bigger they get. It's a corollary of the clichee about absolute power corrupting absolutely. Our government is too big and getting bigger. Hell, General Motors was too big, which is why it failed. AT&T was too big, which is why breaking it up created a technological explosion whose shrapnel you all carry so happily in your pockets and purses. Big is Jabba the Hut. It fattens, wallows, crushes freedom and creativity. No big deal. Simple human math.

Which is why human math does contain absolutes. Lots of things don't have to be nitpicked, refuted, argued codicil by codicil or misrepresentation by lie into the weeds. They're just wrong. Flat wrong. From the beginning. Like the healthcare bill. Too big, too voracious, too squashing, too sprawling in its inevitable unintended consequences.

Which is where the New Media have a tough call. We've been exceptionally tough (and some would say mean) to the ones who choose to follow the details for us, so that we can fight like The 300 at the last stand in the halls of congress. But details are their own monster. They're what old-time fighter pilots called target-fascination. You bore in so single-mindedly on the bullseye that you wind up flying into the ground. Alternatively, you begin to believe that being adept at target practice is a substitute for killing the enemy.

Note that the choice of metaphor here is key. We are fighting a war. The enemy is every bit as ruthless as the Pacific foe in WWII that thought nothing of smearing the brains of Philippine babies across the walls of Manila hospitals. If you get it into your head that you're better at gunning down training targets than they are, you're not there when they get out of their planes and hit the newborn wards. That's why we're mean.

This is not a game. It's not a college debate. It's not an Olympic fencing match. It's a war. What are the sides?

The answer to that is daunting if not downright terrifying. It's us -- the common sense American conservatives -- against an Islamic fascism that can't be named, a European cultural and moral exhaustion that can't be forestalled, a burgeoning population of tin-pot, appeasement-emboldened dictators around the world, a secular know-it-all nihilism that can't be out-shouted, an increasingly supine population of government dependents and self-styled victims in the industrial world, and a traitorous, self-hating elite in our own country that has somehow appropriated the media, the academy, science, the public school system, the entire federal and state bureaucracy, and even a significant mindshare of organized Christian churches into a cult of anti-American sedition.

In these circumstances, it doesn't matter that we are technically the majority, as we are and have always been. It matters that we have let them gather unto themselves all the reins of power.

To the extent that we consent to dance with them employing all their tools of distraction -- wit, rhetoric, charge-and-counter-charge -- and gull ourselves with the delusion they're 'playing' the same way, we lose. Everything they do is aimed, always, exclusively, at our throats. They're trying to kill us. And while we struggle to be civil and 'fair-minded,' they're succeeding.

That's why I'm mean to AllahPundit and Ed Morrissey and InstaPundit and Ace of Spades and Protein Wisdom and every other conservative site that thinks it's competing for mindshare in an open market of ideas. It's not an open market. It's a war. I don't want any internet accolades or conservative trophies. I want to defeat the enemy. Utterly. Devastatingly. Forever.

This is a war for survival. We'll win or we'll lose. Which is a way of saying that I'm not being unreasonable at all. I have been scrupulously reasonable throughout the history of InstaPunk. Which is to say that I employ reason to destroy the enemy, not to persuade the enemy that I'm a reasonable guy. And, just as importantly, not to persuade my more genteel (thanks, Diogenes) allies that I am 'reasonable enough' to belong in their company. If they're not here to destroy the enemy, they may as well be Tokyo Rose or Lord Haw Haw. I have no use for them. Which is why I don't, and won't, play nice in the "New Media" circle-jerk.

By every precept of reason I know, giving equal time to enemy propagandists who have never been rational is not a function of reason. It's how Austria became part of the Third Reich. Look up the Anschluss.

Flyers Crush Habs.

PAYBACK. We win. Off to the finals. Something about the number three. You'll have to ask Mrs. CP. Or maybe Puck Punk can explain. If you can't root for us against Obama's home team, there's something wrong with you.

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