Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the greatest zing of all.

the new york times and more detailed new yorker op-eds on the tea party got me started on some ideological introspection today. both referenced the john stewart video i posted earlier. a couple caveats: while john stewart and i are ideologically dissimilar, as long as he has his sense of humor, he'll keep pointing out the easy target... the ridiculous contradictions of ideological ambiguity, which are far more dangerous than any of our disagreements. and the other caveat: this post might strike some of you as incredibly biased, but i kinda don't care. this is mostly about my own personal perspective in a very abstract sense, so yes, it's biased.

the op-eds got me thinking, again, about the strange dynamic of the right in america's two party system. the competition to pitch the largest party tent has always forced some element of doublethink into american politics, but to me, the right has always seemed to be a particularly strange union between two disparate groups. there is a small but powerful elite: politicians, businessmen, and intellectuals like george bush, rupert murdoch, and william kristol. and then there is the other much larger group, the populist and religious self-proclaimed masses, who the powerful elite either pretend to identify with and co-opt or avoid and hide from altogether.

the peculiarity of it all is that the populist masses profess to loathe politics, elitism, and intellectualism; the defining traits of the powerful elite. their contempt of intellectualism is matched with an almost idiocratic love for idiots like sarah palin, a "rogue wildcard" whose foreign policy ignorance was probably more of a selling point than a liability. their jingoism is matched with an almost xenophobic fear of foreigners and immigrants and a tendency towards modern-day mccarthyism. these are the kind of people who take to nonsensical terms like islamofascism, protest mosques, and simply don't know enough to see the hilarity of glenn beck's conspiracy theories.

the powerful elite of the right is fully aware of the ridiculous hypocrisies that the masses subscribe to. the ground zero mosque zinger is a perfect example, wherein fox news reported that the ground zero mosque was being funded by a saudi that funds radical madrasas. what fox failed to mention is that this radical saudi, a 7% owner of fox news and business partner of rupert murdoch, is being enriched by the mass hysteria peddled by fox news. conservative jingoism and xenophobia is being used to enrich its foreign target, but this game is nothing new... it's the same game john mccain played when he held up joe the plumber as an actual plumber and not the owner of a multi-million dollar plumbing business, and it's the same game karl rove played when he gave george bush his folksy "i talk to god" makeover, wherein conservative anti-elitism and religious superstition was used to deliver voters into the hands of the political elite.

this deceptive populist image is precisely why it always looks so funny when george bush and rupert murdoch are caught hanging out, hugging, or holding hands with their middle eastern family friends, men who's portraits could easily adorn the center of one of those in-the-crosshairs bumper stickers you might find on the back of a pickup truck.

(kumbaya, my lord our competing lords... kumbayaaa.)

does anyone in the powerful elite really believe that george bush talks to god? of course not. but does some bible thumper in the midwest who will vote against their own interests? yes, and that's the whole point. and does upper management at fox news really believe that one of their owners is a terrorist? of course not. and he's not, but if you flash enough pictures of a saudi with an ak-47 to the typical fox news viewer, you will illicit the desired response, and the elite is fully aware of how they stand to benefit if they can steer these captive and suggestible fox news viewers.

(this guy is funding the terror mosque?! burn it down! oh wait- he owns my favorite news channel? uhm... i... ahem...)

to be sure, american leftists like michael moore and generally retarded conspiracy films like zeitgeist use the same style. fahrenheit 9/11 used those same pictures of bush and the saudis and both moore and zeitgeist used the same ridiculously stretched connect-the-investment-dots to connect bush and bin laden through the carlyle group, which of course means bush did 9/11. (duh.) but here's the thing... the left doesn't peddle their crap half as well, unless there is some poll out there showing about 27% of americans have bought their bullshit.

this has all given birth(er) to a new kind of voter... a republican who in a sense, doesn't really care about the veracity of what their party claims or implies, so much as what they claim to stand against and whether or not the straw man fits with their delusional but self-exalting worldview. it's an emotionally driven loyalty that has been carefully cultivated, not in any conspiratorial sense, but by the sum of the actions and styles of various commentators from rush limbaugh to glenn beck to the guy who yelled "you lie!" during obama's state of the union speech...

(look! the communist trifecta!)

by the time run-of-the-mill republicans realize they've been leashed and turned into attack dogs for an elite that despises them, they've been shown so many pictures of arabs with guns and a black president followed by the words foreigner, muslim, and socialist that they're frothing at the mouth and ready to take orders anyway. they're just too god damned angry to notice the powerful elite laughing behind them as they take them off the leash. (laughing all the way to the bank.)

so how is it that this dynamic persists? to put it simply: the conservative elite has demonized their opposition with emotionally-driven drivel so thoroughly that there really isn't any need to reveal, defend, or explain themselves. as a former koch adviser said, "they’re smart. this right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. they see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves." they disingenuously co-opt the populism, racism, jingoism, xenophobia, anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism, and generalized fear and paranoia that many have and some refuse to admit, and enough idiots eat it up to make the whole thing worth it. just point your finger and yell a buzz-word, and the money and votes will come pouring in.

while john stewart zinged fox news when he called them out on the terror mosque, the best zing still belongs to fox news and the conservative elite, whose political strategies have ensnared their captive and gullible flock of sheep so thoroughly that they have finagled for themselves the ultimate gift that keeps on giving... and that, ye wayward few, is the greatest zing of all.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a former home.

I have four daughters. The eldest is twelve years old and the youngest is one year old. I am married to Muhammad Fahmi A-Rimawi, who was arrested on suspicion of aiding the cell that killed Minister Ze'evi.

In the early hours of Wednesday [24 October 2001], I was awakened by the sound of gunfire and helicopters. I looked out my window and was surprised to see many soldiers on the road that is about ten meters from our house. I heard knocking at the door. It was Shadi, one of our neighbors. He said that the soldiers wanted me to come outside. My daughters woke up and started crying because of the loud noise. I went outside to the soldiers - I was barefoot and in pajamas. The soldiers heard the sound of my daughters crying and asked me to get everyone out of the house quickly. Shadi went to get my parents and my brother's wife from the top floor.

At the same time, my brother 'Abd al-Muhsan and my sister's son Iham stood outside facing the wall, their hands tied. I quickly took my daughters outside. The rest of our family who lives in the building with us also exited. The younger children cried, and we all stood around barefoot and in our pajamas because the army told us that we had to leave within five minutes, and threatened to blow up the house. I embraced my children, because it was early in the morning and very cold. The army took my sister's son and my brother away in a jeep, and the rest of us remained outside. The soldiers surrounded us and aimed their guns at us but did not fire.

The soldiers sent a dog into the building and tens of soldiers followed it in. Meanwhile, we sat outside and heard the heavy firing and saw helicopters circling above. Once in a while, armored vehicles passed by on the street. The children continued to cry and wet their pants, because the soldiers would not let them to go into the house to use the bathroom. Only at 6:30 A.M. did the army leave the building. I took my daughters inside, helped them shower, and made something to eat. Outside, the firing stopped and the soldiers left.

At 9:00 A.M., the soldiers came back, bringing my sister's son Iham with them. They took my sister, Ifham, out of the house and questioned her for an hour. Her son, Hamdi Quran, is one of the men suspected of assassinating Minister Ze'evi. They asked her about the mobile phone that she had, and she said that she had sold it. They called me and asked about the mobile phone, and about the whereabouts of Hamdi. They threatened that if we did not give them the information, they would demolish the house. I said that I did not know where he was. The interrogation lasted half an hour. Then the soldiers ordered Ifham and me to go back into the house. We were very frightened and decided to leave the house and stay with neighbors. Only my father remained in his apartment.

At 6:20 P.M. on the same day, a large force of soldiers came and took my father out of the house. We were still at the neighbor's house. The soldiers circled the house for fifteen minutes. I do not know exactly what they were doing. They left the area, and two minutes later I heard the sound of an explosion. The house went up in flames.

All four apartments in the building were completely demolished. The soldiers would not let us take anything from the building. Before moving in with the neighbors I had managed to grab only a few pieces of the children's clothing. Now I am living with my four daughters in my uncle's house nearby, and I hope that they will help me rebuild my house.

Zahara Ahmad Yusef a-Rimawi is 33 years old, married and a mother of four. The testimony was taken by Raslan Mahagna on 29 October 2001.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


oh wow that was a good zing. kinda made up for how anticlimactic it was reading the cia red cell leak. boooriiing. (note: wikileaks is pretty unstable nowadays.)