If you wanna know what kind of art bobos love, and why they are wolfing down their bagels and lattes in disgust over the Muslim protests over the Danish-cartoons, then check out this article about the Death of God exhibit in Mexico City given by one of the leaders of European cultural decadence a man named Damien Hirst who I am sure some yuppies in Manhattan and San Francisco are all crazy about and fantasize that one day maybe he will piss all over them and then rub their bodies on a canvass and then call it art.
I just had a chance to view the documentary Workingmans Death which is a German documentary by director Michael Glawogger. The doc gives the viewer an eye into some of the worlds nastiest and most dangerous professions. It shows you bootleg coalminers in Ukraine and shows you their families, sulfur workers in Indonesia who are mining just enough Sulfur to get money for hookers and booz, Nigerian butchers who slaughter cows and goats in a bloody and chaotic and filthy urban market and those who roast the meat ( most of these guys are Muslims), workers in a Pashutn run ship wrecking yard in Pakistan that have an extremely dangerous job and like the Nigerians they are shown praying, and a modern Chinese steel mill. The film ends with us getting to look at an old German steel mill that has now been turned into an amusement park where young couples go and make out. This was a nice doc and it also contains a lot of humor ( even though you would never know it as the sterile Manhattan crowd made no reaction to the film other than to shiver at the site of animal throats being slit).
Whats the Matter With Kansas
I started to read this book by Thomas Frank like a year ago and even talked to the writer on the telephone but this weekend I finally got the chance to sit down and read the whole thing. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the film it is basically about how conservatives have taken over he Midwest and seeks to answer the question as to why many Americans are voting against their class-interests and voting Republican. In order to answer this question Frank deals heavily with religion and hot button issues like abortion and gay marriage.
Frank is a native Kansan, from the suburbs of Kansas City, MO, and takes us all over the state of Kansas ( but not to the Democratic stronghold of Lawrence) and tells us of how Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican stalwart has said ” Kansas voters don’t care about economics” which would seem to be true as the poorest Kansans are voting for Republicans who implement polices that will only make them poorer. We are told of Republican candidates speaking in tongues while campaigning and fistfights over yard signs accusing people of being ” Pro-Gay”.
Particularly Frank is upset with the caricature David Brooks makes of urban liberals and it is here where I disagree with Frank. I firmly agree with him that most Americans are voting against their class-interests by voting Republican and I also agree when someone in the book said ” how can anyone work for someone else and vote Republican”. But the root of the problem, as I see it, is what one Wichita union worker says. He said that after Clinton supported NAFTA and when he saw the Democrats supporting Free Trade he knew they were no longer representing his economic interests. So he then starting voting for other issues he cared about, like the cultural ones, and on those issues he was closer to the Republicans.
The Democratic Party has allowed itself to be hijacked by a group of urban liberal elitists, and I do think there are liberal elitists contrary to what Frank says, and in the process has become a party that cannot win nationally ( or even in some regions). If the Democrats want to keep in fighting for Gay Marriage, Abortion, and other issues like that they are going to lose every time outside of Lower-Manhattan ( where they even lost because of culturally liberal Republicans). The Democrats win when they fight for the economic interests of the masses; social security, health care, public education, minimum wages, public transport, jobs programs, etc. and when they do this without trying to shove a cultural agenda down peoples throats.
I have to admit that I am a big fan of the Olympics and I enjoy watching them a lot. Like most Americans I enjoy the summer games more than the winter games though. There are many reasons for this but I think the major one is that in the summer games people play games that not only are Americans familiar with; but they re games played by people we actually know. Sports like track and field, boxing, baseball, softball, soccer, table-tennis and badminton are blue-collar sports that are practiced by a lot of Americans. Then you have sports that may be elite sports, like tennis, swimming, diving and gymnastics but at least they are pretty easy to follow the rules of what is going on. Other sports like skeet shooting are easy to figure out as well.
The summer games are also very diverse in the sense that you see many people of color competing and winning and the American team has a lot of participants from working class backgrounds. As a Muslim I am also happy that during the 2004 Athens games a number of Muslims rose to prominence in winning the medals.
Now the winter games I like as well bu I think like most Americans I don’t feel a real connection to the games. Half of the sports I have either never heard of or don’t know the rules of and the only sport that I knew anyone who ever competed in the sport is hockey. Most of the sports are those that are practiced by the upper-crust in American society. Ive never seen two Italian guys in Bensonhurst or two Irish guys in Dogtown St. Louis talking about Alpine Skiing, speed-skating or bobsledding. Having said that I do appreciate these sports when I watch them especially bobsledding, luge and curling and they look fun even if I am not really sure of what I am looking at and that goes for the skiing events as well.
I am going to defend two acts of violence today and cut and past a story that is crucial to all American-Muslims. But first the violence. Yesterday a Crown Heights Brooklyn man was arrested for stabbing to death two loud neighbors. Now I am not saying he should have done that but if you have lived in the hood you know that there can be some loud ass neighbors and the police aint gonna do shit to stop them. I have neighbors now who connected the video game to their boomin system and play them in the middle night and others who fight all night, fuck loudly all night, party all night or blast music all night. So look, the brother lost his cool, but hopefully the courts will have a little mercy on him. He was more than likely a working guy who needed some rest.
The second act of violence I will defend is the guy Fat Nick in Howard Beach Queens. He was arrested for attacking black youths with a baseball bat along with some other white kids. The media, and others , have tried to hype this issue up as being something about race and I am sure that there may have been racial overtones. But what happened is this; Fat Nick lives in Howard Beach a white heavily Italian area and guess what? Most of his friends are white guys with Italians names. They saw a black youth breaking into his car and had a bat and decided to attack and I agree with Nick; I don’t care what color you are if I see you breaking into my car it is gonna be your or me and Ill let the police figure out who is right or wrong later.
Camps for Muslims in America?
Read this and if it doesn’t give you chills down your spine I don’t know what will.
Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration’s domestic operations — Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.
“The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,” Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.
“I stand by this president’s ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that,” Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.
“Senator,” a smiling Gonzales responded, “the president already said we’d be happy to listen to your ideas.”
In less paranoid times, Graham’s comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways — ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.
But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy. Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by “news informers,” in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs,” KBR said.
Later, the New York Times reported that “KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.”
Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton’s reputation for bilking U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services. “It’s hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars,” remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
Less attention centered on the phrase “rapid development of new programs” and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these “new programs” might be.
Only a few independent journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration might actually be thinking.
Scott speculated that the “detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law.” He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 “readiness exercise,” which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 “refugees,” in the event of “uncontrolled population movements” over the Mexican border into the United States.
Farrell pointed out that because “another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge” of immigrants flooding across the border.
Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, “Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They’ve already done this on a smaller scale, with the ‘special registration’ detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo.”
There also was another little-noticed item posted at the U.S. Army website, about the Pentagon’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program “provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations.”
The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a “rapid action revision” on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a “template for developing agreements” between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.
On its face, the Army’s labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the attorney general to “establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him” and “make available … the services of United States prisoners” to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.
Though the timing of the document’s posting — within the past few weeks — may just be a coincidence, the reference to a “rapid action revision” and the KBR contract’s contemplation of “rapid development of new programs” has raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency.
These developments also are drawing more attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve the Pentagon in “counter-terrorism” operations inside the United States.
Despite the Posse Comitatus Act’s prohibitions against U.S. military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as its role in domestic surveillance activities.
The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States.
The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.
The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don’t seem to think that new laws are even necessary.
In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2005, the U.S. Army’s top intelligence officer wrote, “Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information.”
Drawing a distinction between “collecting” information and “receiving” information on U.S. citizens, the memo argued that “MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime.”
This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.
There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn’t discuss the details without breaking classification laws.
Tice added that the “special access” surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. With this expanded surveillance, the government’s list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.
The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center’s central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a fourfold increase since the fall of 2003. Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, an NCTC official told the Post, “Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA.”
As the administration scoops up more and more names, members of Congress also have questioned the elasticity of Bush’s definitions for words like terrorist “affiliates,” used to justify wiretapping Americans allegedly in contact with such people or entities.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the wiretap program, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., complained that the House and Senate Intelligence committees “have not been briefed on the scope and nature of the program.”
Feinstein added that, therefore, the committees “have not been able to explore what is a link or an affiliate to al-Qaida or what minimization procedures (for purging the names of innocent people) are in place.”
The combination of the Bush administration’s expansive reading of its own power and its insistence on extraordinary secrecy has raised the alarm of civil libertarians when contemplating how far the Pentagon might go in involving itself in domestic matters.
A Defense Department document, entitled the “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support,” has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an “active, layered defense” both inside and outside U.S. territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to “transform U.S. military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the … U.S. homeland.”
The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to “defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States.” The plan “maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us.”
But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges “threats” and who falls under the category “those who would harm us.” A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity’s TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.
In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 “suspicious incidents” over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a “threat.”
The Defense Department also might be moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part of its overall war strategy.
A secret Pentagon “Information Operations Roadmap,” approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for “full spectrum” information operations and notes that “information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice versa.”
“PSYOPS messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that “the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices.”
It calls for “boundaries” between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.
Similar to the distinction the Pentagon draws between “collecting” and “receiving” intelligence on U.S. citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long as the American public is not intentionally “targeted,” any PSYOP propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.
The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing the web as a potential military adversary. The “roadmap” speaks of “fighting the net,” and implies that the internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system.”
In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration’s perception that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.
“Let there be no doubt, the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place,” Rumsfeld said.
The Department of Homeland Security also has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with domestic crises.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the department dispatched “heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for its work in Iraq, (and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans,” reported journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.
Noting the reputation of the Blackwater mercenaries as “some of the most feared professional killers in the world,” Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater’s presence in New Orleans “raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here.”
In the view of some civil libertarians, a form of martial law already exists in the United States and has been in place since shortly after the 9/11 attacks when Bush issued Military Order No. 1 which empowered him to detain any noncitizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.
“The president decided that he was no longer running the country as a civilian president,” wrote civil rights attorney Michael Ratner in the book “Guantanamo: What the World Should Know.” “He issued a military order giving himself the power to run the country as a general.”
For any American citizen suspected of collaborating with terrorists, Bush also revealed what’s in store. In May 2002, the FBI arrested U.S. citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago on suspicion that he might be an al-Qaida operative planning an attack.
Rather than bring criminal charges, Bush designated Padilla an “enemy combatant” and had him imprisoned indefinitely without benefit of due process. After three years, the administration finally brought charges against Padilla, in order to avoid a Supreme Court showdown the White House might have lost.
But since the court was not able to rule on the Padilla case, the administration’s arguments have not been formally repudiated. Indeed, despite filing charges against Padilla, the White House still asserts the right to detain U.S. citizens without charges as enemy combatants.
This claimed authority is based on the assertion that the United States is at war and the American homeland is part of the battlefield.
“In the war against terrorists of global reach, as the nation learned all too well on Sept. 11, 2001, the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield,” Bush’s lawyers argued in briefs to the federal courts.
Given Bush’s now open assertions that he is using his “plenary” — or unlimited — powers as commander in chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from government actions.
As former Vice President Al Gore asked after recounting a litany of sweeping powers that Bush has asserted to fight the War on Terror, “Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited?”
In such extraordinary circumstances, the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration means by the “rapid development of new programs,” which might require the construction of a new network of detention camps.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to see Freedomland which is a film that featured some of my favorite actors and people from TV. The film starred Samuel L. Jackson and Jullianne Moore and also Eddie Falco from The Sopranos who I really like and a few actors from the HBO show The Wire which is, by far, the best crime drama on TV.
The film got mixed reviews and I guess the reviewers save their rave ratings for those who rape their adopted children like Woody Allen but nonetheless the critics are often wrong. Maybe if Samuel L. Jackson adopts a nine year old Thai or Rwandan girl and then marries her a few years later he will become a Hollywood darling.
Like The Wire this film was gritty and without a lot of the speacil effects or Hollywood glitz. Most of the film was dark as it dealt with a dark subject matter. The premise of the film is that Jackson with his partner are the beat detectives in the Armstrong Projects in New Jersey and a white woman, Moore, gets carjacked and her son supposedly kidnapped in the projects. Because of this a surrounding police department, for whom the victims brother is a cop, seals off the projects and doesn’t let anyone out and goes door to door for a few days which causes tensions between the residents and the police. Time goes on and stories in the story of the mentally unstable victim, who is a recovering addict, change and things take a predictable course with a few surprises along the way. Eddie Falco comes in as the head of a mothers organization that is dedicated to finding abducted children and her own child had been abducted years ago.
Perhaps because the film deals a lot with race and the racial divisions between many predominately white police departments and their communities some will be turned off. Towards the end of the film things break down in a riot and you are not left with a warm fuzzy feeling but with Jackson visiting his son in prison. Probably this is the kind of film that highlights a lot of issues that the bobos in the media don’t want to recognize exist and would rather pass on this but I recommend it.
Citgo Under Scrutiny from GOP Big Oil Buddies
The column of Juan Gonzalez today in the Daily News highlights the fact that many Republicans in congress are seeking to go after Citgo, the Venezuelan owned Houston-based oil company, for so called interference in American energy policy for offering discounted heating oil for the poor in Boston, the Bronx and other parts of the Northeast. This is being led by Congressman Joe Barton a Texas Republican with strong ties to Big Oil who seems embarrassed that while his golf course buddies are raking in record profits some nation, not ours, is offering out a hand of compassion to Americas poor and that is coming from the leadership of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
What can I say about the Iraq violence? It is inevitable that there will be civil war in Iraq and this may have just speed things up. Now I can sympathize with Iraqi Sunnis who do not want Iraq to be an extension of the Persian empire or a satellite state of Iran; but attracting religious sites it totally wrong and unacceptable. It is wrong to attack any religious houses of worship of any religion at any time and this was a despicable act.
Umm Zaid over at Sunni Sisters has reminded all of us that today is world Chechnya Day. The Chechens have suffered far far more than the Palestinians or Kashmiris but receive much less support from the Muslim community. If you are interested in helping the children of Chechnya I have a link to the Chechen Children’s Fund in my links.
In response to what I have written about slain NYPD officer Eric Hernandez several cops have commented on the New York Indymedia site. They don’t seem to get the point that everyone is up to scrutiny and that is you, me and even cops…no one gets a free pass and there are no angels walking the streets. Many cops have this attitude that cops can do no wrong and feel that everyone should kiss their asses at all time. They also feel that they should be able to disrespect people and talk to them like dogs and that people should just take this with a smile on their faces.
Remember the video tape of the elderly black man being beaten in New Orleans after Katrina? Was he beaten because he was a criminal or had been committing crimes? No; he was beaten because they talked shit to him and he wouldn’t kiss their ass in return. These are not tough guys these are bullies. If they are so tough let them talk shit to people without the radio, badge and gun by themselves in the projects in the middle of the night and see what happens.
I am not anti-cop and I respect the job they do and am glad to see them around. A lot of cops are very hard working, dedicated and honest people making the community a better place to live. However, this does not change the fact that many cops are assholes, most are racists and anti-working lass ( when that is what they are themselves) and right-wingers. This translates into them treating people like shit. My own sister who has never did any drugs in her life was once old by a group of officers “come here bitch you look like you’ve been smokin crack”. So, don’t give me some shit about all police officers being angels because they are not and they would never in a million years go out to the leafy-suburbs or to the bobo areas of the city and call people names and yell at them for no reason. Respect is a two way street and if a cop respects me then I respect him and we will get along fine; and if he or she wants to be a dick then guess what? I can be a dick too and don’t need a badge and a gun as a permission slip to be a tough guy.
The Phony Port Scandal
There is a big story in the New York media right now about a company based in Dubai taking over some ports from a British firm in the area. New York One ran over and over the news bulletin that a country with terrorist ties was taking over local ports. The tabloids ran with it and the next thing you know politicians, both Democrats and Republicans are out taking a stand against the port handover as a security “risk”. On local talk radio they have got rid of all the filters and are just proclaiming that the ports are being “sold to terrorists”. Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR is in the Daily News today saying that this is nothing more than anti-Arab bias and he is right. This is a bullshit story and a non-issue. Unlike what some people are reporting the US Homeland Security, Coast Guard and Port Authority PD are going to maintain all security of the ports. The workers are sill going to be well-paid unionized American workers and there will just be new bosses and corporate interests running it. The media has been irresponsible and is attacking a company with no ties to terrorism and a nation with no ties to terrorists other than some hijackers lived there. What do Peter King, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer want? A new federal law that says when government contracts come up NO MUSLIMS OR ARABS NEED APPLY ?
Recently Jordan posted words from Hamas on my blog that read something to the affect that Palestinians are a nation that loves blood and that the taste of Jewish blood is sweetest to them. If those aren’t the exact words it is something like that.
A lot of people believe, and that includes almost all in mainstream American politics and Israel, that Hamas winning the Palestinian elections and taking over the Parliament is a bad thing and I do not. Why is this? First of all, all the other parties are looking at things from a perspective of not what is best for the Palestinians but what is best for themselves. Israelis may not beneifit from cleaner, more honest and less corrupt rule under Hamas and were not affected negatively by the pilfering ways of Fatah and that was not their concern. All they wanted was a party that could oversee the Arabs and make a peace deal with them and be able to enforce it. The plight of the Palestinians in how they live their daily lives, for most in Israel outside of the Israeli human rights community and the Left, was not a major concern and of course America is viewing this with a pragmatic political eye and waiting to see who can serve her interests the best. As for the American people there are those citizens who care deeply about the Israel-Palestine issue; the Pro-Israel community, which is divided, who would like to see a strong and vibrant Israel and who are pragmatic towards the Palestinians but to the right, for the most part, of mainstream Israeli thought, and then there is the Christian Right whose leaders would be happy to see population transfer or just an outright eradication of the Palestinian people ( what about the Christians amongst that people?). Then you also have the American-Muslim and Arab-American community who are working, but with not much success, on behalf of Palestinians along with liberals and Leftists and even some traditional Conservatives; but make no mistake about it in America Israeli interests have the upper hand.
I have said all of this to say that I do not see the new Hamas government led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya as a bad thing and in fact I am very encouraged by it. How can I reconcile this with the fact that I am someone committed to better relations between Muslims and Jews and I am one of the few Muslims who believe that Israel has a right not only to survive but to thrive and be secure? Well, first of all, when Hamas says on its website it likes to drink blood it is just talkin shit. Scholars of the Arabic language, and the ulama of Islam, will tell you that Arabic is a rhetorical language and is prone to people making grand pronouncements and saying things they do not mean or have no means of doing. How many times have you ran into the Muslim brother who will tell you he will do something tomorrow Insha’Allah and it never gets done? From an American standpoint he is a liar and full of shit but from an Arab standpoint it just wasn’t the will of Allah and well things come up and maybe it could have got down. Nonetheless the words are not seen as important.
Go to any rally in any Arab country involving any issue and you will hear the most fanatical speech and nine times out of ten they are just talkin shit and not only will they not do what they say they are going to do but they don’t even know how to do what they say they are going to do. One Palestinian brother I know fluctuates between on one day passionately declaring his hatred for Usama bin Laden ( “oh I hate the bin Laden”) and the next day saying ( “oh these kufar will never find him… he can hide under a date and they will never find him”) and on both days he is full of passion and zeal for what he is saying but who knows what he really believes because he is just caught up in the moment when he is talking. This must of rubbed off on me because I am a big taker and always have been and am a fast talker with the gift of gab and sometimes I just get caught up in talking.
Now the media, the yuppies, the right-wingers and the feds look at those and they get their panties in a wad; because these are square people who sit around having dull and bland conversations all day and are not used to color and lively chat and one liners. These are guys who when they want to tell a joke have to consult a joke book. So they take every word seriously and try to blow it out of proportion and coming from their life experience it is understandable.
I was once at a Muslims event where a Muslim leader stated before several thousand Muslims that in twenty years Hamas alone would destroy Israel and the crowd responded as if Derek Jeter had hit a grand slam in extra innings in game seven against the Red Sox in the ALCS. But deep down all of these Muslims knew that this was some bullshit. Hamas cannot destroy Israel, the Arab Nation (which has trouble producing a pencil) cannot destroy Israel and it shouldn’t matter if they recognize the right of Israel to exist because Israel will continue to exist with or without the permission slip from Amr Moussa.
The Hamas government was democratically elected and this should be respected by all will not and cannot destroy Israel. They can deliver a better life to the Palestinian people and create a more just society and a model that can be exported to the rest of the Arab world and they should be allowed to do so and if hey fail they fail; but do not let it be because of outside interference. They do have blood on their hands but in this conflcit who does not? Fifteen years ago the same people who were rooting for Fatah to win were saying Fatah could never be negotiated with.
My blood is boiling once again. If you want to know why just go and read this story on a popular Brooklyn gentrification blog and it is one of the reasons I am writing a refutation to Upskis Bomb the Suburubs. If you read the story you will see that you have Fulton Mall which is a popular pedestrian mall in downtown Brooklyn that is always crowded. It has prices that regular people can afford and serves food a lot of working people eat and is doing fine financially. But for no other reason than the bobo Brownstone owners surround the area do not like the type of people shopping in the area ( they are polite latte sippin bigots) they want to revamp the mall to make it loft condos and expensive and trendy restaurants and clothing boutiques that your average Brooklynite cannot afford to shop or eat in. There are already places like this in Brooklyn and all over Manhattan and if that is what you want then go there. There is Fulton Mall and 125 St for working people and they are gunning for them both and stores like Conways put clothes on the backs of children, the poor and the elderly.
What I cannot understand is how anyone, with any social conscious or progressive mind, can say that they honestly believe this is not wrong and not racist. Stop using the polite statements, this is just flat out old racism; but this time it is being engineerd by the secular urban elite. This is not only racist action and classist action as they seek the states power in removing the poor and the people of color; this is part of the Republican takeover of the city. Of course, once again, I will tel you these same people would never Vote for Bush, but they might as well. These are phony urban liberals who are worse today than any southern redneck.
Because there is no outrage at things such as this I am learning one thing; the white elite in this country, and those who run up behind them, on the Left and the Right, must be pretty silently united on these issues.
I am going to pass along a few gems that I have found.
A friend of mine gave me a short memoir by writer Paul Auster about his life as a young man and a writer called Hand to Mouth which was very good. It tells the story of Auster as he struggled in New York and Paris and struggled with finishing college. He also amuses us with tales of his job working on a ship and his invention of a baseball card game that he tried to shop around in vein. The reason I liked this memoirs was that it reminded me so much of many of my struggles in trying to pursue my vision and the things that are important to me such as my writing and political activism. Like the young Auster I have always been broke; the difference, of course, is that I don’t have a Columbia degree or any monied family to help me when time gets tough. When shit gets tough for me then I’m just ass out.
After reading Hand to Mouth I walked into a bookstore a couple of days later and just happened to see his new novel The Brooklyn Follies. At first I just thumbed through it; but when I realized that the book was set in Brooklyn, had a character who was a cabbie and another indie bookstore owner ( I have two good friends who own an indie book store in St. Louis and it made me think of them) I realized I had to read this book. As the pages turned it had more of things that I like; stories about Brooklyn neighborhood people, a hot Latin waitress, a religious fanatic preacher who thinks his dick is an instrument from the Lord, and a messed up family like many I know ( including mine). I read the fist 254 pages of the book at the bookstore and then about a week and a half later I went to 7th Ave in Park Slope Brooklyn and read the last 47 pages and that was fitting because most of the book took place in Park Slope and as the book ended the hero was walking down 7th Ave on 9-11 after getting out of Methodist Hospital and as I finished the book I headed down 7th Ave in the same direction.
The United States of Europe by TR Reid and How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer are two other books I have been thumbing through. Reid makes a lot of interesting points about the economic power of Europe and the power that Europe yields in being the world regulators in most areas. He also does a good job ( even if he got some facts wrong regarding the American unemployment and welfare system, Americans get much less than what Reid states) in contrasting the European Model and Welfare State to that of America; where the term “welfare state” is one that is used in menacing terms. What Reid neglects in the book, in my opinion, is a real examination of how the demographics of Europe and the fact that people are not having children in Europe is going to affect the future. For example Muslims are only mentioned once in the book.
DA, from the now defunct Crime of Aquinas blog, recommend How Soccer Explains the World and the only chapter I have read so far is titled Soccer and the Jewish Question and it is a fascinating look at European Jewish Football clubs in the early twentieth century and their relation to politics and Zionism. Earler this year I found out, and I am sure that Abu Sinan and other European football fans already knew this, that a lot of football clubs have political affiliations.
There was a short story in the New York Daily News today and a Google article from the Chinese News Service about the US Treasury Departments freezing of the assets of Kindhearts which is a major American-Muslim charity with a stupid name that has done a lot of good nonetheless. The government is alleging that after they shut down the Holy Land Foundation for ties to Hamas that Kindhearts picked up the slack and Allah knows best. It is a very popular charity amongst Muslims and once again American-Muslim money is going to be thrown down the drain.
The timing of this is conspicuous. With Hamas taking over the Palestinian Parliament ( where are all the neo-con lovers of democracy in the Arab world now. What, you only support democracy when your stooges win you hypocrites?) and the US and the Pro-Israel forces seeking to do all they can do to punish the Palestinian people for their democratic decision the US is seeking to shut down any funding sources to Palestine that may find their way to Hamas.
What the American people should know is that when charities operate in counties they have to work with local groups and they may not even always agree with them. In the case of Islamic charities in America they more than likely support religious groups in whatever country they are working in and in some places the religious may be statistically pre-disposed to support groups the US may not like. However, this has nothing to do with the core mission of the charities which is helping the needy.
The death of Eric Hernandez has been a big story in New York. For those of you unfamiliar with the story Hernandez was a young officer in the NYPD. He was a good looking guy who was a running back on the police football team and was well-liked. A few weeks ago, I don’t remember the date but you can look it up, he was out clubbin one night in plain clothes and on his way home after drinking ( and being intoxicated) he stopped at a White Castle in the Bronx to get something to eat. While at the White Castle he got into an argument with several young men, and apparently identified himself as an NYPD officer, and was jumped and beaten badly by the men. They left the store and left him lying on the floor and he took his gun out and ran after them and grabbed someone, who he thought was one of them, and pulled his gun on him. A veteran police officer saw him and pulled out his gun and asked him to put down the gun and when he didn’t (he wasn’t able to hear apparently) he shot three times hitting and killing Hernandez.
In the weeks since the event it has been a huge story in the local media. The funeral was attended by thousands and well-covered in the media and the mayor and police commissioner both spoke at his funeral. In a city with two separate medias, at least, it has been a big story in both the English and Spanish media. Like only the New York media can they have built Hernandez up to be someone on the lines of Jesus Christ. Let them tell it he was perfect and without error. He lived a perfect life and was gunned down for the sins of New Yorkers….bullshit.
For starters Hernandez was drinking and driving before going into the White Castle which is a crime. Next move on to the fact that there is nothing out there at five in the morning but trouble anyway and it just isn’t wise to be schlepping around the Bronx drunk by yourself in the wee hours of the morning. Then, we don’t really know why the fight started; but we do know he was badly beaten; but where the guys supposed to take a plain clothes drunk young man serious when he said he was a police officer? Then Hernandez runs out in the street and pulls a gun on someone who didn’t have shit to do with the beating and a cop see this, tells him to put down the gun, and when he didn’t the veteran cop made a veteran move and did what he had to do. That’s the story. Mr. Hernandez was victim of his own bad decisions.
Do I feel sorry for him? Of course I do; from all accounts he was a nice guy and a fun guy to be around and I am sure he was a good officer, but he wasn’t flawless and his recklessness cost him his life. I have been through numerous nights such as this myself and I could have ended up like Hernandez, alhamdudilah I didn’t, but when you play with fire on a late night in the Bronx you might get burned and he did.
Using the Internet at an Internet Cafe can be tricky. There is one in Brooklyn that I like. It is owned by a Muslim brother, it is quiet, you can print and scan and there is a pretty good mix of people at the place and it is close to a masjid. Sometimes, such as now, I have to go to Manhattan and I stop in and use the computer at one of the big Internet Cafe places and for the most part they suck. The keyboards are filthy, the place is filled with sex perverts booking reservations to toe sucking parties and sessions in a dungeon and then you have people who are scamming or loud in the place. So when I come here, and I have been coming on and off for years, I always try and carefully select where I will sit. If I see an empty computer in between one of these Bobo men wearing a purse and three scarves around his neck chances are he is up to some cray shit and if on the other side of him there is a sweaty guy with a big grin on his face and his hand in between his pants then I know not to sit there.The best people to sit around are non-homeless females because more often than not they are online looking for a job or chatting without masturbating and not trying to seduce a nine year old online like a lot of men. About a week ago Long Island police raided a whole group of men’s homes who were online doing precisely that and it turns out that a Lieutenant Colonel in the military was arrested. The thing that made me laugh when watching the news is the detective said ” he emailed what were supposed to be photos of his body…and when we got him in custody we were able to find out that wasnt his body.” Meaning he sent the supposed kid he was trying to fuck a picture of a porn-sized dick and he wasn’t packin all that.The area that I am staying in Brooklyn is strictly African-American and Latino and one Arab Muslim family I have found. It is in Brownsville, where boxers Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe both grew-up ( and John Gotti in an earlier generation). It is one of the most crime-ridden areas in New York City and gentrification ( thank God) has not visited yet. At night you can fall asleep to baby mama drama and gunshots and the mornings are dead-silent as everyone is sleeping.Brownsville, where I have lived before, is temporary for me. I am looking for an apartment in other places a little more quiet like somewhere in Southern Brooklyn ( Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Sheepshead Bay, Boro Park or Flatbush) or even the Bronx ( is is the cheapest boro and the best place to get away from the Bobos…for now).This is also not the first time I have been the only white person in a neighborhood I have lived in and this has never been a problem with me. Since I was a kid people also thought if that whiteboy is crazy enough to live around or hang around here he must be crazy or tough. That is no longer the case. When I go to Bed Stuy now to go to the masjid or to Crown Heights there is a lot of gentrification going on in those areas and a lot of Bobos and as a rule almost all Bobos are pussies. These are grown men who get mugged when the other guy has no weapon. These are grown men who let school kids beat their asses and throw snow balls at them. Why these Bobos would want to live in such a place I do not know other than that they just see themselves as old school white settlers. This creates a problem for me; because unlike the latte sippin Bobos I’m not getting mugged without a fight and I for damn sure am not going to let some kid throw a snow ball at me. In previous years this was never an issue, for the reasons earlier stated, but the other night a kid threw a snow ball at me, and missed. When I turned around to look at him the kid was shocked and I told him as I picked up a brick ” now, come on lets play this game, you throw your snowball and Ill throw the brick and lets see what happens”….the kid ran inside.
Last night I had the pleasure of being able to attend the first night of the gathering of the Venezuelan nation Network which is an organization that is being set-up in the united States to defend the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and to call for the US to pursue a hands-off approach in dealing with Venezuela.
Several speakers spoke to this gathering of a couple hundred people and they included Leonor Osorio the Venezuelan Consul in New York, Fermin Toro Jimenez the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Rodrigo Chaves the Venezuelan ambassador to Italy, Ben Dupuy the former Haitian ambassador to the US, Leslie Cagan from United for Peace and Justice, Sara Flounders from the ANSWER coalition and others ( Teresa Gutierrez was supposed to speak but I left before). The real treat of the night for me, however, was when Lynne Stewart, who I honestly though was in prison, got up and spoke.
The speakers spoke on a variety of topics and started the festivities by reminding people that this is Black History Month and that we are all enjoying the benefits of the Civil Rights Movement and are inspired by the spirit of the Black Power Movement and those such as Malcolm X. Speakers also made the connection between the situation in Iraq and Palestine and Venezuela and Dupuy spoke of the imperial instincts of America that is leading her to try and intervene throughout the world. The Venezuelan speakers spoke of the remarkable nature of the vision of Simon Bolivar being resurrected in this day and time. Venezuelan ambassadors also called for a greater relationship building between the nation of Venezuelan and supporters in America. Sara Flounders also spoke in condemnation of the racist Danish cartoons and received a few smirks but mostly applause from the audience.
For me the real treat of the night, other than getting to meet and shake hands with the Venezuelan diplomats, was in having the chance to meet and speak with Lynne Stewart. For those of you who are unfamiliar with her she is a long-time civil rights lawyer and activist who was charged and convicted by the government due to her representation of Sheikh Umar Abdul-Rahman; she has been sentenced to thirty years in prison but her sentence has been delayed due to health concerns. She called for Americans to stand in unity with the people of Venezuela and for “America to become a great country for the first time” and I also had the opportunity to share with her the case of Sheikh Ali al-Timimi.
Alhamdudulah this came on the same day as the rally of Muslims in front of the Danish Consulate in Manhattan protesting racist speech agaisnt Muslims. In one day I was blessed with the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the two great world revolutionary movements.
Today, along with a few thousand other Muslims in New York, I attended a Jummahu prayer service and protest rally on 2nd Ave at 48th Street near the Danish embassy. The protest was civil and orderly and it attracted a lot of attention from the local media, bystanders and of course there was a large NYPD presence and everything went smoothly.
Beginning at noon speakers got up to defend the honor of the Messenger of Allah(s) and to call for a variety of strategies in combating anti-Muslim hate speech. Some said that we should focus on a boycott of Danish goods while others said that people of all faiths should go to the United Nations to lobby for an anti religious hate speech law that would encompass all faiths. One brother who spoke ( and there were many….too many speakers) said that Muslims should not only be out to protest when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is under attack but when any Prophet, such as Jesus or Moses, is under attack.
Imam Siraj Wahaj, who delivered the khutbah, spoke about using this event to politcaly organize the house of Islam and he said things are much bigger than the Danish cartoon; however the cartoon was the public embodiment of the disrespect towards Islam from the West. CAIR-NY was also there handing out flyers for the “Explore the Life of Muhammad” campaign.
One thing that I must point out however is that something that was said time and time again at the rally that was incorrect; the speakers repeatedly said that one-third of all Muslims live in the West and that is incorrect. The actual statistic is that one third of all Muslims live as minorities in Non-Muslim countries which not only includes the West but also places such as India, Sri Lanka, China, Russia and parts of Africa and Latin America.
Another thing is that during Jummahu the adhab of the service must be upheld and it was not at this rally. During the Jummahu khutbah there should be no talking, no eating, no writing and no picture taking and these are all things that I saw. Next time Insha’Allah we need some brothers who can remind the Muslims to keep the adhab of Jummahu in a respectful way.
Alhamdudilah I am also happy to report that there were as many sisters as there were brothers at this rally and that is a good thing. Imam Siraj spoke of this being a blessing of having so many Muslims from so many different Masjids speaking loudly with one voice and I agree. I took some photos and in the coming days Insh’Allah I will be putting them up.
These are not my photos but are some photos of the protest posted on another site.
If you wanna know where the real terrorists are in New York they get on the subway every weekday around three during the school year and they are the schoolchildren of the city ( middle schoolers and high schoolers mostly). Now of course at least half of these kids are functionally illiterate but they know every 50 Cent tune by heart and are rocking the newest sneakers to school. Of course those who would like the kids to wear uniforms are rebuffed by Manhattan-liberals ( with no kids in the public schools more than likely) who think creative expression is more important than preventing poor kids from getting made fun of because they cant afford stylish clothes and other kids who could get their brains blown out for wearing the wrong colors. This is the same crowd that also tells you that disciplining kids is passé; and who would have teachers locked up (as happened last week in the Bronx) for trying to put a little discipline in the classroom. Until then I will be on the train having Getzian fantasies or waiting for one of these punks to give me the excuse I need.
Eminent Domain Story from Brooklyn
It can be said that the bulk of the new urbanists fail into two categories; those who are in bed with big developers and those who are seeking urban revitalization from the grassroots level. One can argue that at the end of the day, despite how these two camps may view themselves, differently, they both are working towards the same goals of a more upscale and affluent city at the cost of the rooted working-class in the city and both have no qualms about using the power of the state to intervene on their behalf in order to displace undesirables.
A story today in the Brooklyn section of the New York Daily News has made my blood boil. A Greenpoint business owned by a man named Herb Engler is being taken out along with a number of other businesses by eminent domain from the city so they can build 10,000 upscale apartments for bobos. The city is using its power,and the power of the developers and the citizen groups who condone these Stalinist tactics to force long rooted and committed local business out of the area in order for the wealthy ( who a generation ago wouldn’t have dreamed of being in Brooklyn) to move in. The irony is that I guarantee you that a majority of these urban imperialists who will move into the apartments will fancy themselves as some kind of political progressives.
Mr.. Engler it seems in addition to being a committed local business man who took the courageous step and hired two parolees over a decade ago who have been with the company ever since.Where does this good citizenship get him in Bloomberg’s New York ?Absolutely fuckin nowhere unless his business can cater to the Latteheads.
The Western media has launched on to the story of the slanderous Danish cartons against the Prophet Muhammad and the furious reaction from the Muslim community with a keen sense of “look, we told you they are a bunch of savage beats”. This sentiment has largely come from all political sectors of the West and the right-wing in America has used this to bolster the rationale for the great crusade against Islam and the Left has used it to pat themselves on the back for their own rationality and atheism and to lash out against those who are hostile to “free-speech” and those who practice religious fanaticism.
The media has largely focused on the riotous actions of many angry Muslims and has portrayed these Muslims as fanatics. This occasion has also been used as a pretext for the West to admonish Syria and Iran and lay the blame for the actions of the rioters at the feet of Damascus and Tehran. This happened after the initial statements from the US government called for sensitivity towards Muslims by the media. Lost in this coverage has been the fact that many Muslims across the globe have protested in a variety of ways; Muslims have written letters to the editor, protested peacefully, appeared in public forums and have called for the boycotting of Danish goods which is a practice that was used in the past by the South African anti-apartheid movement.
Charles Krauthammer, a prominent conservative writer, said that the only Muslim moderates are those who condemn all insensitive attacks to all faiths and that those “so-called” mainstream Muslim organizations are in truth at one with those who are burning the embassies because they are only upset when it is Muslims who are attacked. I for one can say that this is complete rubbish. Over the years I have written repeatedly in condemnation of insensitive attacks against Jews by Muslims and also was disgusted by the desecration of Christian symbols by artists and the rude way in which all religion is treated by many Western comedians.
What I am protested as a Muslims is two things; the Western imperialistic mindset towards the Muslim World and the double-standard that exists in the West when it comes to political correctness. In the West there is the Hitleristic notion that all things Western are good and pure and for those who do not adhere to Western norms are by definition uncivilized. Whether this attitude comes across in the form of bombs from Bush or pompous statements from Europe the message is the same; we are the West and you job in the Muslim World is to hear and to obey.
The second issues is the fact that there is no doubt that it would be impossible for a major American or European newspaper to run a contest seeing who could offend Jews or Muslims the most. Would the New York Post run a cartoon depicting Moses as a Jewish terrorist? Would the Charlotte Observer run a cartoon featuring Jesus as a terrorist? In politically correct Europe, had the cartoon not been directed at Muslims, the artist may very well be put up on hate crimes charges.
If there is going to be a dialogue of civilizations, and not a clash of civilizations, then there most be mutual respect, and if there is no respect then there is no conversation.
That is why on February 15th( this is wrong the protest is on Friday after Jummahu) I will be in front of the Danish Consulate in Manhattan along with other Muslims, and will be marching to the German consulate, to publicly state my disapproval of the blatant disrespect of Muslims.