Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Liar In Chief

The Chimperor declared to a grinning American Legion audience that America's battle with "terrorism" is "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century." He went on with his carefully crafted speech -

Despite their differences, these groups form the outline of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology," he said. "And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam.
In case that did not scare you into giving up your civil liberties, Bush resorted to the oft-abused Hitler comparison to drive the point home, explaining that the Islamic terrorists "are successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century."

This fascinating exercise in propaganda would be humorous if the American sheeple did not take it so seriously. In a few sentences, Bush insults the intelligence of anyone who has studied history by claiming that what we are witnessing is the coalescence of one global movement hell bent on attacking "free societies" and they are the sucessors to Hitler and communism.

Taking the Liar-In-Chief at his speechwriter's word, though, one must question why the United States funded, supported and encouraged these groups for decades if they are as dangerous as now claimed.

As explained by Brendan O'Neill,
both British and U.S. intelligence supported the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which so many of today's radical Islamic sects – including Hamas and even al-Qaeda – have sprung. Indeed, in the 1920s, the British, then the colonial rulers of Egypt, helped to set up the Muslim Brotherhood as a means of keeping Egyptian nationalism and anti-colonialism in check. The immediate precursor to the Muslim Brotherhood was an organization called the Society of Propaganda and Guidance, which was funded and backed by British colonialists. In return, the Society provided Islamist backing to British rule in Egypt. It published a journal called The Lighthouse, which attacked Egyptian nationalists – who wanted British forces out of Egypt – as "atheists and infidels." Under British patronage, the Society set up the Institute of Propaganda and Guidance, which brought Islamists from across the Muslim world to Egypt so they could be trained in political agitation, and then take such anti-anti-colonialism back to their own homelands.

In his book Sleeping With the Devil, former CIA officer Robert Baer said there was a "dirty little secret" in Washington in the early 1950s:
The White House looked on the Brothers as a silent ally, a secret weapon against – what else? – communism. The covert action started in the 1950s with the Dulles brothers – Allen at the CIA and John Foster at the State Department – when they approved Saudi Arabia's funding of Egypt's Brothers against Nasser. As far as Washington was concerned, Nasser was a communist.

During the Afghan-Soviet war from 1979 to 1992, American and British intelligence once again supported radical Islamists against, in this instance, secularist and communist forces. Where the Cold War began with America and Britain supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamists against popular secular movements, it ended with America and Britain arming, financing, and propagandizing on behalf of radical Islamists fighting the Soviet Union's last stand in Afghanistan before its collapse in the early 1990s.

Throughout the 1980s, the CIA and the British intelligence organization MI5 arranged for the arming and training of thousands of mujahedeen in Afghanistan. But now we watch as Muslim men who attended these CIA-run camps are thrown into Gitmo. American and British elements, together with Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani intelligence service ISI, ensured that the mujahedeen had everything they needed to wage war against the Soviets. Can anyone forget the scene from Fahrenheit 911 of the Taleban leaders being given a tour of Washington D.C.?

Then there was that embarassing Iran-Contra scandal wherein the American public learned that the United States was arming the Islamic Republic of Iran, which we are now supposed to believe poses an imminent threat to world safety.

If this struggle is about ideology, then Saudi Arabia should be America's first target. It is home to state-imposed Wahhabi Islam, a disgusting, violent interpretation of Islam that prohibits women from living as human beings and that considers weekly public beheadings a source of entertainment. There are few societies on this earth that are less free than the desert prison-nation government by the House of Al-Saud. But America says nothing.

If we are indeed engaged in an ideological struggle, who is fighting on behalf of "free societies" since our brilliant leaders have been on the side of Islamic extremism for decades?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Quotes Of The Day

From Gore Vidal's Imperial America -

"We cannot maintain an empire in the Orient
and maintain a republic in America."
Mark Twain

"We have a single system...and in that system the only question
is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold,
the bread and circuses."
Henry Adams
Happily, for the busy lunatics who rule over us,
we are permanently the United States of Amnesia.
We learn nothing because we remember nothing."
Gore Vidal

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Facade

Even though I am moving within the same corporate family, I spent Monday going through the obstacle course that all new employees must complete to be "official". I moved from one division into another that is deeper in the belly of the media beast for which I toil each day. And I am on the lot now.

What an interesting place the lot is. On my way to the security office to get the various security cards and parking passes needed to prove my legitimacy, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a set that was not being used. Main Street USA. There was a diner, a pharmacy, an old theatre and some beautiful cobblestone apartments.

Except none of it was real.

Just facades that look like the real thing but have no substance, reminiscent of various episodes of The Twilight Zone (which, by the way, is the greatest television show ever made).

It was fascinating and eerie at the same time. Fascinating because the giant lot is home to various imaginary towns and villages that will take you back in time 50 years or transport you to a different city. Eerie because the towns and villages are hollow, without substance and completely deserted when unnecessary for a television show or a movie.

As I strolled along the ghost town, I wondered about the appeal of the entertainment industry in general. Virtually everything you see in scripted television shows and movies is fake. The sets, the characters, the dialogue. Fake, fake, fake. Yet these are the things with which the average person comes to identify. Listen to people discuss the latest episode of Desperate Housewives (not one of my shows) as if they are friends with the characters and have a real understanding of what is going on in their lives.

The same person, however, would be bored by a Discovery Channel program that told the real-life stories of people from another culture or another place. Shows that feature real people with real stories are rarely as popular as fantasy stories with fake people.

Why is that? Why is real life of little to no interest while fantasy keeps people tuning in week after week? How can the average viewer identify with the trials and tribulations of a make believe character while callously disregarding the suffering experienced by millions of people on this planet each day?

Perhaps this is the essential struggle of humanity - to learn to accept reality instead of fearfully clinging to hollow facades, whether they be religion or movies, that provides a convenient distraction. When I exit the lot at the end of the day, I am happy to return to the chaos that is the real world.

The cure for boredom is curiosity
Dorothy Parker

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wrong Impressions

The past two weeks have been incredibly unamusing. Putting aside the slaughter in Lebanon, the 14-hour-days at work and missing my flight to Rome on Friday because GW and his minions are playing Fear Factor with carry-on baggage, a cousin of mine is visiting from Egypt and is making me into an Egyptian parent.

I thought she was different from the rest but, boy oh boy, was I wrong.

It is a peculiar misconception held by many foreigners, and definitely including Arabs and Muslims, that Americans have no morals. None. Their image of America and Americans is a crude version of "Girls Gone Wild", where parents let kids do whatever they want, sex with anyone you want is okay, there are no rules and anything goes. Perhaps it is one too many episodes of the "Bold and The Beautiful" or "Baywatch", both of which are regular staples of the Arabic television diet, but it is quite apparent that my cousin thought she would come to America and be a girl gone wild.

So when my sister and I told her she was out of her mind for thinking we would let her go out alone with some shady Arabic guy she met on the plane ride over here, she started behaving like a child, lying, trying to play us off against each other, all so she could go have "coffee" with this guy. Did I mention that this sleezy guy was planning to pick her up from my father's house for "coffee" at 10:00 p.m. during the week? We thought this was a matter of Arab culture, a culture in which no man with an ounce of decency would ever suggest to a woman's family that he pick her up at 10:00 p.m. (and which is the tell-tale sign that the mystery man is utter filth). Most women are not allowed to stay out that late and, certainly, not alone with a guy the family does not know. The more we thought about it, however, it is not something unique to Arab culture because the response is no different in American culture. It is a matter of basic safety.

When I asked her what made her think such behavior was okay, one of the many lying responses she tried to pass was that she does the same things in Egypt. As I tried to contain my laughter, with flashbacks of all my conflicts with family members in Egypt who would not let me come and go as I please during my visits, I asked her to name one male member of the family who would not beat her ass for asking if some strange guy no one knows could pick her up at 10 p.m. Her silence spoke volumes.

It is not often that I wave the American flag for anything, but I let her have it. I told her that, contrary to popular belief, Americans are far more moral than those hypocrite Muslims who fuck prostitutes and molest boys under the cover of darkness. The only difference between America and Egypt is that people here speak openly about what is going on, rather than bury it in mounds of lies and hypocrisy. When you do come across a virgin in America, you know she is a virgin by choice and not because having sex, or even talking to the wrong boy, is a life or death decision. The real test of morality is putting someone in a society where she can have sex and seeing if she still has all those uppity morals behind which she takes cover.

My cousin does not.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Following In Our Footsteps

If Iraq was not proof enough that bombing the hell out of a country does nothing to improve your security, add Israel's incursion into Lebanon to the picture. You would think the Israelis would have paid attention to the financial and military waste of time that is Iraq and learn from it, but they have not. What we are witnessing in Lebanon is Israel's Iraq.

It took Israel six days to defeat the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and misc. Arabs in 1967, but four weeks of slaughtering civilians in Lebanon has done nothing to stop Hezballah's Katyusha rockets from raining into Haifa. Israel will ultimately end up occupying part of Southern Lebanon and will create its own quagmire much like that which is currently bleeding the United States.

One must wonder how the socialist, welfare state of Israel will fund all this. The American military is going so broke it can't pay the utility bills at several bases and, given the present circumstances, I suspect that Israel will follow right in our footsteps.