Apr 30, 2008

Ronaldo: transvestites embarrass Brazil legend

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After dropping his girlfriend off at her place in Rio, the striker figured the night was still young. He picked up three sex workers charging $300 a-piece and booked into a nearby motel.

Ronaldo claimed he was shocked to discover that the "females" were in fact transvestites.

Local press reports, quote one of the transvestites, Andreia Albertine, saying that Ronaldo turned aggressive and threatened violence. Albertine also claimed he was on drugs.

According to reports filed by the Rio police, Ronaldo alleged that the transvestites tried to rip him off. He accused Andreia Albertine of taking his automobile documents and demanding $30,000 - a request he refused to comply with.

Albertine and her associates took off with Ronaldo's documents. Outside one was heard yelling - "the phenomenon doesn't want to pay."

When Ronaldo made his exit from the motel, Albertine videotaped him with her mobile phone camera. The video that appeared later on YouTube shows "the legend" wearing a Flamengo football club shirt. Someone behind Albertine is overheard saying "this is to prove it's really you."

Rio police superintendant Carlos Nogueira noted that it isn't illegal to pay for sexual relations. He said it was likely that Ronaldo had been the victim of an extortion.

A police officer who was in on the interview said that Ronaldo cried and expressed concern that the incident could spell the end of his career. The striker, who is on sick leave, also told police that he had been having a few psychological problems lately related to a knee injury.

Apr 29, 2008

Gianni Alemanno: neo-fascist with a makeover

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The xenophobia that has become a dominant feature of Italian politics lately, helped pave the way for Gianni Alemanno's mayoral victory in Rome.

Alemanno
, who served as agriculture minister in Berlusconi's last government, will be a mayor-with-a-mission. He has vowed to get tough on immigration. His "Pact for Rome" includes the following: “Immediately activate procedures for the expulsion of 20,000 nomads and immigrants who have broken the law in Rome.”

Fittingly for a one-time neo-fascist whose cosmetic adjustment to the mainstream was mainly about political convenience, Alemanno's office is located close to Piazza Venezia. This is the famed piazza where Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, strutted and ranted mere decades ago.

Xenophobia is alive and well in Italy. The Northern League has been successful in riding an anti-immigrant ticket since the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU. In the general election it increased its share of the vote by 8%.

The anti-immigrant aspect of the League's platform shouldn't be underestimated. Northern League mayor of Cittadella, Massimo Bitonci, passed an ordinance banning the poor, the homeless and the unemployed from living in his town. Terms such as "the homeless" are also euphemisms for immigrants. A leading campaign promoter for the League, Roberto Calderoli, is famous for tearing open his shirt and displaying a T-shirt bearing one of the notorious Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The anti-immigrant backlash has been a cushion under the rising fortunes of Gianni Alemanno. He was aided by a murder that made headlines throughout Italy. In 2007, an Italian housewife named Giovanna Reggiani, was sexually assaulted and beaten to death by a Romanian man as she was making her way home along a little used road. The crime led to a public outcry. Squatter camps were demolished across Rome, and a draconian "decree law" was passed authorizing the expulsion without trial of EU citizens deemed a threat to public security. The law has proved to to be tricky to implement, and now Alemanno has been elected with a mandate to carry out what the Romando Prodi government threatened.

Extremist rhetoric is becoming more commonplace in Italy. Giorgio Bettio, a counsellor from Treviso, went so far as to propose in the council chamber that if immigrants commit a crime against an Italian, ten immigrants should be punished for it. This was a notorious method of punishment used in Nazi concentration camps. His remarks were condemned by his colleagues, but Bettio claims people stop him in the street to thank him for speaking out.

Gianni Alemanno is no stranger to rhetoric of this sort. In his youth he was a member of a neo-fascist party. He was arrested on a number of occasions. Once for beating up a leftist, and at a later date for throwing a molotov cocktail. He was also arrested for attacking police during a visit by President Bush Sr.

In 1995 Alemanno and associates attempted a makeover. The National Alliance was formed from the Italian Social Movement, the ex neo-fascist party, and from conservative elements of the former Christian Democracy in an effort to play to the middle-of-the-road voter. Alemanno has altered his image from the neo-fascist tough to a skillful politician known for his ability in the legislative arena. Some of his supporters though haven't left fascist politics out of the new mix. After Alemanno's victory a number of them celebrated on the steps of the Campidoglio city hall with "saluti Romano" - the stiff arm salute used during the Mussoloni era. In the past Alemanno referred to Mussolini as one of his heroes.

Supporters of Alemanno who want to play down his fascist associations, point to his love of organic food and zen meditation as a sign presumably of his "alternative" side. He won't be the first fascist with surprising personal tastes. Hitler was a fanatical vegetarian, and many fascist leaders have been known to have a keen interest in the esoteric aspects of life, including the darker side of the occult.

After his win Alemanno said: "I will be the mayor of all Romans: for those who voted for me, and those who didn't ... We won't get dragged into the past when we're heading toward the future."

It remains to be seen.

Apr 28, 2008

R.T. Naylor: "War on Terror" myth and misinformation

R.T. Naylor exposes the lies underlying the war on terror
"The great masses of the people…will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one." (Adolf Hitler)

R.T. Naylor, is an economics professor at McGill. His book Satanic Purses: Money, Myth and Misinformation in the War on Terror was published in 2006. This is an important book. It hasn't had as much exposure stateside as it deserves, due in part to prevailing media thinking that buys into the official War on Terror line.

Naylor draws on his extensive knowledge of international black markets, money laundering, terrorist financing and smuggling to challenge the Bush administration's global-fantasy-network of terrorists and financiers, all allegedly weaving a diabolical scheme to bring the West to its knees.

"Satanic Purses" presents a convincing argument that far from there being a monolithic terror organization of the Al Qaeda variety, in fact terrorist attacks are most often locally initiated and financed. The common driving force behind these acts is poverty, alienation, a sense of oppression and powerlessness.

There are lots of people in the world willing to do awful things but there's no financial connection that links extremists together — the only thing that binds them is a sense of injustice and commitment. (R.T. Naylor)


Messages and images in the media re-enforce the idea of a global terror network. A favorite of channels like Fox News is the dated video from Afghanistan of mujahideen in-training. This video has been played and replayed for years. It conveys the impression that the West is facing a coordinated and financed enemy with global reach. This is a neo-con fantasy and it serves their interests in a number of ways. Propaganda of this type justifies the build-up of the military. It justifies the existence of a huge arms industry. It validates the activities of so-called military contractors. It also justifies the increasingly intrusive domestic crackdown, that has led to erosion of privacy rights and due process.

Naylor describes the Al Qaeda legend as "one of the most useful political fantasies in history." Local groups operating around the world are given the "Al Qaeda" brand name as part of the propaganda effort. Disparate groups with no link to each other at all are presented as interconnected pieces in a global terror puzzle.

Acts of terror, far from being funded by a web of sinister financiers, are most often carried out with local funding. The 1993 World Trade Center attack cost only around 400 bucks to organize and execute. Even 9/11 cost less to implement than many believe.

The terror war and the propaganda that accompanies it is in large part smoke and mirrors. The significance of players engaged in localized resistance is often exaggerated in an effort to make a connection with bin Laden and his alleged affiliates.

Next time you watch Fox news, keep in mind the title of the Public Enemy tune - "Don't Believe the Hype."

Apr 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton: narcissism and entitlement

Hillary Clinton uses hard ball tactics in Democratic race

Barack Obama is clearly the Democratic candidate of choice. On paper he is unbeatable. There is no way he can lose the pledged delegate lead, short of imploding.

Hillary Clinton claims she is more electable. If the superdelegates were to hand her the nomination despite being behind on the pledged delegate count, it would fracture the party and might very well pave the way for a McCain victory - a victory that would be aided by the many Obama supporters who would almost certainly sit out the vote as a form of protest.

Clinton's quixotic candidacy is being driven by ego, hubris and an inappropriate conviction of entitlement. Narcissism touches everything she does - all the way from her carefully choreographed cosmetic image to stories she has been spinning that don't stand up under scrutiny - the Bosnia "under fire" fiction being the most recent example. There seems to be no limit to what she is prepared to say and do if it looks as though it might enhance her image in the eyes of the voting public. Despite claiming to be opposed to the "politics of personal destruction" she has become one of its chief exponents.

Recently in an attempt to look tougher than her opponent, Clinton made a statement on ABC-TV that demonstrates her willingness to talk like uber-Bush on steroids. She said she would "totally obliterate" Iran if it ever attempted an attack on Israel. What kind of insane talk is that? The term "obliterate" in this context adds up to genocide. The attacks on the Kurds by Saddam pales beside a proposed atrocity of this dimension.

In a recent article "End It Now", superdelegate James Zogby had the courage to say what many are thinking:

... Given the behavior of the Clinton campaign to date, and the expectation this behavior will continue, I believe that prolonging this agony will only create deeper division. For this reason, it should end now. My fellow superdelegates should wait no longer. As party leaders, we are uniquely positioned, and have the responsibility, to speak out. Indecision only serves to enable bad behavior. It is time for us to either demand that the behavior change, or act to end this now.

Darth Hillary


Hillary Clinton and Darth Vader cartoon

Apr 25, 2008

Padre Pio and the sainthood racket

Padre Pio and the Roman Catholic sainthood racket

The Catholic Church has made it easier to manufacture saints in a timely and efficient manner. Now new-saints-in-the-making are fast tracked as a result of more efficient guidelines for assessing the saintlike attributes of proposed candidates. At one time the Church charged a so-called Devil's Advocate with digging for dirt on prospective saints, but that office has since been abolished.

You have to wonder what type of criteria the Church uses to gauge "saintliness" when you consider that there has been a movement to push for the canonization of Girolamo Savonarola. Exactly what is saintly about about a 15th century fanatic with apocalyptic fantasies who orchestrated the burning of books and art is difficult to fathom. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, was also given the papal nod despite being a well known fascist sympathizer and anti-Semite.

So it should come as no surprise that a few years ago the Church saw fit to canonize Padre Pio, a pious fraud who wore fingerless gloves to cover up what he claimed were stigmata - alleged supernatural wounds that mimicked the wounds of Christ. Except in Pio's case the evidence suggests that the "supernatural agent" was carbolic acid - administered secretly to keep his wounds weeping.

We know about Pio's acid habit thanks to research by Italian historian, Sergio Luzzatto, who managed to unearth damning documents. A letter in Pio's hand asked a female acquaintance to obtain carbolic acid 'in strict secrecy' from a pharmacist.

The canonization of Padre Pio seems more of a concession to his cult-like appeal than to higher considerations of saintliness, because two successive popes viewed the friar as a hoaxer. In fact reports commissioned by the Church on Pio's activities claimed that he had regular sex with women, sometimes in the confessional or in his cell, and that he scourged himself with a metal tipped whip.

Sado-masochistic inclinations might explain the fascination with stigmata. Pio had a history of self-flagellation that went back to his youth. When he entered the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo at age 31, there were reports that he would awaken from sleep covered in blood.

The recent exhumation of Pio's corpse has become a grotesque religious carnival. Evidence of his charlatan-like behavior tends to get overlooked when the Church sees a huge PR opportunity. Some 800,000 pilgrims have booked to view the saint's corpse before Christmas.

The carnival-like atmosphere isn't anything new. Since Pio's death, San Giovanni Rotondo has attracted seven million people every year. Local trinket sellers and souvenir shops do a brisk trade selling Pio statues, ashtrays, pens, keyrings, mugs, T-shirts, calendars, rosaries, cigarette lighters and anything else that can bear his image.

This type of creepy death commerce is reminiscent of the dealers in the "relics of the cross" during the medieval period - hucksters who convinced the gullible that slivers of wood were pieces of the calvary cross and that blood traces in stained fabric was none other than the blood of Christ. The Catholic Church has accommodated popular superstitions for centuries. Since these religious scams serve to keep the faithful lining up and guarantee widespread media coverage, there is no reason to anticipate that the show will end any time soon

Mark Steyn, Macleans and Rex Murphy



The case against Macleans has been dismissed by Canada's Human Rights Commissions. The magazine featured an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book, "America Alone" that caused a bit of an outcry. The Canadian Islamic Congress, at least those speaking in its name, took the view that the Steyn piece was "flagrantly Islamophobic."

I can see where the complainants are coming from however, while their impulse to evoke human rights is understandable, I would have stayed their hand. Steyn mines the fears and prejudices that haunt the American psyche and supplies a narrative that I have argued reflects bigotry, prejudice and pessimism in respect to Islam ... but then half of America thinks the same way.

Some of the racist comments attributed to Steyn aren't actually his own. He's too chicken to say it without parenthesis when it comes to the risky stuff. He borrows, plays semantic games. He makes use of others' comments as cover, just so if he's ever accused of racism, he can claim he never actually said that. The "breeding like mosquitoes" reference to Muslims, sometimes attributed directly to Steyn, originally came from a Norwegian imam named Mullah Krekar.

Rex Murphy, whose neo-Dickensian prose style should be edited by half, went on in a March column about the foolishness of making the Macleans business into a human rights issue. He praised human rights initiatives when addressing the excesses of the Nazis, "the horrors of totalitarianism" etc - nothing like hammering home the obvious. He also seemed to be placing Macleans magazine on a pedestal, leaving the impression he might have a few unstated ambitions of his own, and so not entirely an impartial ref.

In speaking of what he views as overkill in the Macleans' case, Murphy poses the rhetorical question ... "someone or some group been hauled off to a gulag?" Steyn isn't writing for or about Canadians, so maybe Murphy needed to widen his scope a little. Steyn is writing primarily to an American audience, and yes many Muslims have indeed been dragged off to "gulags" around the globe, otherwise known as CIA detention centers.

Steyn was a cheerleader for the war in Iraq, a country invaded on the back of a pack of lies and turned into a virtual slaughterhouse. No human rights bleats from Murphy on any of that, despite Steyn's clear allegiances.

Murphy dismisses as no-human-rights-concern-of-any-sort, articles in a magazine that might "tick you off". Tick you off? Just that?

Okay then, by way of comparison, let's take a hypothetical Muslim journalist who writes a regular column that presents Jews as Zionist conspirators burdened with a horribly archaic and comical religion. The writer views Israel the way some neo-cons view Mecca, as the heart of darkness. His writing is larded with anti-Semitic jokes and snide put-downs. He has a well established international reputation as a Jew baiter, albeit a clever and witty one, never short of all sorts of engaging theories about the threat posed by the Jews. Let's face it, this isn't some 'out there' point-of-view, a good portion of the global reading audience would have sympathy for such a thesis.

Does anyone believe that a Muslim journalist writing in this vein, even in an ironical, tongue-in-cheek fashion, would get so much as a foot in the door of a newspaper in Canada, let alone star treatment from Macleans editors, dead keen to publish a chapter from his new best seller? And does anyone believe that if he got his excerpt published in Macleans, there wouldn't be screams of anti-Semitism and threats of lawsuits coming from elements in the Canadian Jewish establishment?

If you want to argue that our hypothetical Muslim writer would merely "tick off" a few people with his writing, but hey no big deal ... please do some mushrooms before going there. A Muslim writer doing "a Steyn" would be ritually crucified as an anti-Semitic hate monger and reviled from coast-to-coast in the mainstream media, most especially if he cast doubt upon conventional wisdom governing the Holocaust.

It's a rigged game - a double standard. We all know what the 'order of things' is in Canada. We all know the hypocritical cultural vantage point from whence the Murphys of this world wax noble. None of this should surprise anybody.

Meanwhile Steyn should be encouraged to write more, and poach less - his review of the Da Vinci code allegedly being a case in point. He should also be encouraged to avoid recycling old stuff. A lot of us would like to see that hole get a whole lot deeper with lots more original material.

Apr 20, 2008

Israeli soldiers admit to reign of terror in Hebron

IDF

The Israeli activist organization Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence), has published 39 testimonies from Israelis who served in the army. This is disturbing stuff. One soldier who was based in Hebron is candid about the type of criminal behavior that had virtually become normalized.

He speaks of incidents in which Palestinian drivers were pulled over, windows smashed and the occupants beaten. He is candid about a theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who was beaten "to a pulp" for objecting. In another incident he refers to stun grenades being tossed through the windows of mosques while people prayed.

According to another testimony, Israeli soldiers have been known to engage in gratuitous thuggery. A soldier from the Kfir Brigade speaks of being with groups of soldiers "many times" when Palestinian taxis were hijacked. The drivers were forced to sit in the back and provide information about places where the inhabitants have a hate on for Jews. They would then go there and "make a balagan" - Hebrew for a big mess.

Iftach Arbel served as a commander in Hebron. He claims that the Jewish settlers in Hebron are "pure evil". He describes how they raise their children to throw stones at Arabs, attack Arab homes and even loot possessions. In his opinion the only solution is to "remove the settlers."

Apr 12, 2008

Canadian Jews criticize Israeli policies

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In response to the recent Israeli incursions in Gaza, thirty three member countries in the 47-seat UN Human Rights Council endorsed a resolution that accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza. Nations that favored censuring Israel included China, India and Russia. Thirteen nations abstained.

Despite the overwhelming military force used in Gaza that resulted in 120 deaths, including children and non-combatants, one nation stood out against condemnation of Israel - and that nation was Canada.

The Canadian position has at times been even more unabashedly pro-Israel than the United States. Condoleezza Rice condemned continued housing construction in East Jerusalem on land annexed in 1967. By contrast, Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, Maxime Bernier, refused to condemn Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem.

The pro-Israel bias of the Canadian government, and the pro-Israel cheerleading of the Canadian Jewish Congress and Canada-Israel Committee has run up against a reality check in the form of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians. The Alliance was set up by a woman named Diana Ralph and has the support of the well known Canadian author, Naomi Klein.

This isn't the first time Diana Ralph has spoken out against injustices directed at Muslims. Her father was a lawyer at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in the aftermath of WW2 and she sees a troubling parallel between the targeting of Jews in Germany and the post-9/11 detentions of Muslims in Canada, the UK, US and Guantanamo Bay.

"My father taught me that we all have an obligation to protect justice and human rights ... I won't allow my country to betray its democratic character."


Ms Ralph believes that Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories, and that Palestinians who lost homes in the last 60 years should have the right to reclaim them. She takes the position that human rights are universal, and that no pass should be handed to Israel in its treatment of the Palestinians. She cites the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, where there have been critical shortages of water, food and medicine, and contends that turning a blind eye to "despicable acts" on the part of Israel, simply fuels anti-Semitism.

The alliance has adopted a set of founding principles, as follows:

• Human rights are universal and indivisible and should be upheld without exception. This is as applicable in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as it is elsewhere.

• Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to peaceful and secure lives.

• Peace and stability require the willingness of all parties in the conflict to comply with international law.

• There is no justification for any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia, in any circumstance.

• The battle against anti-Semitism is vital, and it is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.

Apr 11, 2008

General Petraeus' Iraq testimony: mix of myth and reality

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The recent appearance of General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker at the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee, provided little in the way of new information. There were few surprises. The questions posed by the panel weren't very challenging, and the replies were vague at best with Petraeus at one point referring in abstract terms to the "geometry of the battlefield" and the "calculus" of diplomacy and politics. His reassurances rang hollow, because his measure of progress is suspect.

Petraeus' assertion that the Maliki government is in the business of cracking down on outlaw elements in order to unify Iraq under the rule of law is misleading. The divisions in Iraq are in fact deeper than they have ever been. Maliki is all about bolstering his sectarian power base. To present Maliki as national unity champ pushes the bounds of credulity.

Petraeus keeps pointing to the downturn in levels of violence, without speaking about the strategies that have gone into achieving this. The Americans are basically paying former Sunni insurgents to back off bombing and shooting. This policy masks underlying problems. How long will Sunnis be prepared to eat out of the American hand? Already there is restlessness in their ranks, with calls for more money, delivered with greater efficiency and speed. To call this an achievement on the "road to peace" is profoundly misleading. The General is right when he speaks of security gains as being "fragile and reversible."

Petraeus' statements about the drop in violence might need to be revised, and soon. US military statistics show that suicide attacks and Iraqi casualties have spiked over the last few months. The Iraqi death rate has been climbing, going from 568 in December to 1,082 in March. Likewise American troop deaths are trending upward. In December 23 dead, in March 38 dead.

Meanwhile Bush in his speech Thursday repeated the White House mantra that the surge is working. He said it had "renewed and revived the prospects of success." He then described Iraq as the "convergence point of two great threats to America in this new century: Al Qaeda and Iran".

The speech contained rhetoric that clearly suggests that Bush is prepared to launch another illegal war, this time against Iran. After listing the usual sets of grievances with respect to Iranian interference in Iraq, Bush said "America will act to protect our interests..."

Pat Buchanan also sees a war coming with Iran. He says it will be a "short, sharp war", but when these things get going they are rarely either short or sharp. What Bush will do should he take this fateful step, will be to open up the possibility of a wider regional war that could also involve Israel. It is both foolhardy and dangerous, but a course that is already being set, and in the minds of some analysts, unavoidable.

Securing the peace in Iraq

U.S. military in Iraq buys support of Sunni militias

Apr 10, 2008

Saudi blogger Raed Al-Saeed releases a Muslim response to 'Fitna'

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A Muslim answer to Geert Wilder's anti-Islam film Fitna has made its YouTube debut.

The short film titled Schism by Raed Al-Saeed, employs a technique similar to that used by Geert Wilders in Fitna. Schism focuses on Bible verses that promote violence. On the heels of Fitna, Schism demonstrates that stereotyping of religion can go both ways.

Al-Saeed uses verses from Samuel that call upon the Israelites to attack their enemies: "Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don't have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys."

Schism doesn't just focus on the Old Testament. There is a scene of soldiers beating unarmed youths in Iraq while a background voice expresses grim satisfaction. In another scene a fired-up evangelical preacher urges children who are part of "God's army" to be ready to kill in the name of their religion. The scene I believe is taken from the documentary "Jesus Camp".

Al-Saeed makes the point that it is easy to take any Holy Book out of context in order to push an extremist agenda. He also stresses that his film isn't anti-Christian.

When Schism was posted on YouTube, it was removed. Al-Saeed argued that it was unfair to allow Fitna to remain on the site while banning Schism. He succeeded in convincing the site administrators to reconsider.

Apr 9, 2008

John McCain: gaffe prone, thin skinned and McNasty

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John McCain is still having trouble getting the Shia/Sunni thing sorted out. A while ago on a trip to Jordan, Joe Lieberman had to set him straight when he started rambling about Al Qaeda members being trained in Iran for operations inside Iraq. Al Qaeda is of course Sunni and Iran is Shia, a distinction McCain somehow overlooked.

Now McCain's at it again. During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, he once again blurred his Shia/Sunni lines in an interchange with General David Petraeus:

MCCAIN: "There are numerous threats to security in Iraq and the future of Iraq. Do you still view al-Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?"

PETRAEUS: "It is a major threat. Though it is certainly as not as major a threat as it was say, 15 months ago."

MCCAIN: "Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shias overall?

PETRAEUS: "No, sir."

MCCAIN: "Or Sunnis or anybody else then?

"An obscure sect of the Shias overall." What's that supposed to mean? Even if you have some theory about "alternative Shias" going on, the Committee hearing is hardly the place to go out on a limb with your insight. This was obviously a mistake and McCain tried to undo it with ... "Or Sunnis, or anybody else?" Anybody else? The Taliban? Darfur rebels? Santa's elves? With McCain it would be wrong to close down any possibilities.

It can get pretty silly sometimes. When informed of Hamas rocket fire into Israel during his trip, McCain regretted the hardships endured by the Israelis. He added that it had to be tough on the kids who were "celebrat(ing) their version of Halloween here." The kids were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim, that has nothing at all to do with Halloween. In fact it celebrates a legend in which Jewish people living in Persia were saved from mass execution.

When hostilities broke out in Iraq between the central Iraqi government and Moqtada al-Sadr's militias, McCain said he was "surprised" and claimed that Maliki hadn't consulted with the Americans. When the ceasefire came down, McCain claimed it happened because al-Sadr was obviously on the losing end. Wrong. The ceasefire happened because lawmakers from the Maliki government made a trip to Qom, Iran, to negotiate the terms that would allow al-Sadr to stand-down his militias. The peace deal left the Mahdi army intact. If anyone risked looking compromised it was PM Nouri al Maliki, not Moqtada al-Sadr.

Next month Cliff Schecter's book The Real McCain will hit the bookstores. It includes an interchange between McCain and his wife Cindy that occurred during a 1992 campaign stop. McCain was joined on the trail by his wife, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy twirled her husband's hair and said "you're getting a little thin up there." This caused McCain to redden up, before directing this gem at his wife... "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt."

The mean and vindictive side of McCain is very real. He likes to fight. Problem is he doesn't pick his fights with much of a strategy in mind. When his fuse runs short pretty much any target will do. His hardships as a prisoner-of-war might explain some of this, but whatever the reason, it has made for a candidate who on an off day looks as though he needs flash cards and meds to stay on track

There is the startling possibility that McCain might turn out to be even less "on" than Bush.

John McCain flash cards


Apr 8, 2008

UN expert stands by his Israel-Nazi comparison

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Professor Richard Falk, the UN investigator into Israeli conduct in the occupied territories has drawn some heat with his Nazi references. Falk compared what he described as: 'the massive Israeli punishment directed at the entire population of Gaza', with the Nazi practice of collective punishment. He made the point that if the same type of extreme military action had been carried out by the Chinese against Tibetans or by the Sudanese government in its dealing with Darfur, the Nazi comparison would have been readily applied without objection.

When the Israeli incursions into Gaza were taking place, the muted criticism in the media demonstrated yet again that a different standard applies to Israel.

The use of overwhelming military force in Gaza and the civilian death toll that accompanied it, seems to be just a part of the "right" Israel arrogates to itself when it comes to raining carnage on its neighbors. The victims of these incursions invariably include women, children and other non-combatants. Yet western media remains for the most part low-key in its coverage of these outrages, while Israel does all in its power to avoid having its policies held up to international law and morality.

Falk isn't the only one to raise echoes of WW2. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, went so far as to issue a warning, threatening holocaust on the Palestinian people. Vilnai used the term "shoah" which literally means burnt sacrifice. When challenged on his use of language, Vilnai tried to downplay the meaning of shoah, claiming that he meant something more along the lines of a "catastrophe."