Hear, Hear

For the fifth year, China has issued a call to the United States to mend our own lousy human rights record before critcizing theirs.
According to an AP story in Fox News, “The Chinese report said the United States ‘should take its own human rights problems seriously … “and stop its unpopular interference with other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of promoting human rights.'”
The report from Beijing specifically criticized the US for its treatment of working people, women, children and the elderly. It described the US as a “crime-ridden” society which continues to discriminate against minorities, and it commented on the number of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of US military action.
Coming within a week of Greenspan’s assault on Social Security and the Frontline special on the war in Iraq, it’s tough to argue with Beijing’s logic.
I’m not saying our Federal government is wrong to have gotten rid of Saddam or to protest the persecution of the Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience in China.
The fact is, Washington generally doesn’t set a great example for the rest of the world. With all its wealth, privilege and power, it should.

So Much for Education as a Solution

Apologists for offshoring say – with frustratingly non-specific frequency – that the “solution” is more education and training for workers whose jobs have gone overseas.
This is a canard: according to an article on CNN.COM, “In January, for example, there were more unemployed workers 25 or older with college degrees than there were unemployed workers without high school diplomas, according to the latest Labor Department data.”
Another article in today’s New York Times online edition talks about the elmination of even MORE of the already pathetically few programs for Gifted and Talented public school students as a result of the ludicrous “No Child Left Behind” Federal government policy.

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Review of the Passion

Except for followers of the Marquis deSade, this is not a “spiritual” movie, and it sure won’t move the masses to acts of forgiveness and love. At least, I can’t imagine how this could be so.
The first 60-90 minutes of the film are cartoonishly hammy, especially the Sanhedrin who are inexplicably savage and blood-thirsty. The homo-erotic elements – there’s more heat between Pilate and his slave boy (a subconscious homage to Tony Curtis and Sir Laurence Olivier in “Spartacus”?) than between Pilate and his porceline doll wife, Claudia – are incongruous, the attempts to speak Aramaic are clumsily unconvincing (kind of like the wretched Elvish dialog in “Lord of the Rings”), and the flashbacks, distracting.

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Passion and the Constitution

Plenty of people are worried that Mel Gibson’s new film “The Passion of the Christ” will provide an excuse for closet anti-Semites to retaliate against the Jewish members of their community.
While anti-Semitism is regarded as unacceptable in the US, it is certainly present overseas, in Europe and elsewhere.
I plan to see “The Passion” this weekend, so my understanding of the role played by the Jewish people in the film is based right now only on other people’s comments.
These have stated pretty universally that Gibson places responsibility for the death of Jesus on the Roman government and the rabbis/institutional leadership of the Jewish populace.
Aside from what some see as the theological necessity for Jesus to be sacrificially murdered, I see his story as an example of the excesses of individuals in positions of power – and we haven’t improved a whit in the last 2,000 years.

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It’s the Voice, Stupid

I, who pride myself on overlooking the superficial when making decisions about affairs of state, have a shameful admission to make.
I loathe George “Young Master Smirk” Bush because of his voice.
More specifically, it’s that his tone of voice so perfectly encapsulates everything despicable about his policies and his background: the smugness, the affected sibilance, the brazen absence of even a micron of intellectual discipline.

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They Said It, Not Me

It is the year 2000. In the presidential campaign…
New Mexico hinges on 366 votes, Florida on only 537 votes.
Iowa is won by 4144 votes, Wisconsin by 5708 votes.
Oregon is decided by 6765 votes, New Hampshire by 7211 votes.
In the closest presidential election in modern history, 24,731 people in a nation of 280 million make the difference for 59 electoral votes. An incredible statistic when you consider just 4 electoral votes meant the difference between a President Bush and a President Gore.

Email received yesterday from the Bush (and, currently, Cheney) campaign for 2004.

Ahmad Chalabi

Our favorite girl, Maureen Dowd, was off her game these last months, but she’s back, with an enlightening and very readable piece on the Bush Administration’s Iraq war Rasputin, Ahmad Chalabi.
When you have time, please check it out.