Former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev celebrated his 80th birthday with a bash in London on Wednesday. And celebrities were out in force to glorify the life of a dictator. Tickets went as high as $ 160,000. Talk about surreal: the co-hosts were Sharon Stone and and Kevin Spacey. Entertainment was provided by the aging rock bank The Scorpions. Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls (now Mel C) also showed up.
It was all wrapped around the theme “Mikhail Gorbachev: The Man Who Changed the World.” The Moscow Times reports that Spacey and Stone were, err, “cheesy.” Standing in front of neo-classical columns “decorated with pink curtains,” the two co-hosts “continuously mangled various Russian names and concepts.” Stone (who they described as “ditzy”) went through a number of dress changes and Spacey tried to crack a joke about perestroika that was, well, “mangled.” In between The Scorpions sang their songs “Wind of Change” and later “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” Spandex anyone?
Ted Turner was given an award. Then came a Russian pop group named Khor Turetskogo singing the old black spiritual, ”Go Down Moses.” Strange choice if you are celebrating the birthday of an atheist, don’t you think? You can’t make this stuff up.
Famous Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky tried to remind London about who they were celebrating. He filed a lawsuit to have Gorbachev arrested for his crimes as Soviet leader. Bukovsky points out that among other things Gorbachev ordered the violent break-up of several demonstrations between 1989-1991 which led to the death of 100 people. But his request was rejected by a London Court on the grounds that Gorbachev was in the UK as part of a “Special Mission” on behalf of the Russian state. The fact is, of course, that he has absolutely no official position in the Russian government.
At a time when everyone is reporting on the alleged demise of the dictator in the Middle East how strange that they celebrate one from a different region and a previous era. Gorbachev was not elected, and he rejected democracy in favor of a “leading role” for the communist party. Events passed him up. He didn’t lead Russia to a democratic system. Just shows you that for the Left the Universal Law of Dictators is simple: dictators on the right bad; dictators on the left, throw them a party!
Sharon Day is spending some rare time home in Fort Lauderdale this week – and exhorting her fellow Republicans to step up their activity now for their overriding goal for 2012, defeating President Barack Obama.
“This man needs to go,” Day said. “We have to take back that White House. It isn’t a choice. It is a responsibility.”
“This group with this president is bankrupting this country and made us totally weak not only in our economic but in the world opinion, the world view,” she said.
“When the first voice you hear on Lybia – about the oil issue and what’s qoing on with Gadhafi mowing down his own people and weapons and blowing them up – and the first voice we hear is not from this president but from the secretary of state saying he needs to go [that] is ludicrous.”
It’s not new for Day to criticize the president. But she’s now the No. 2 official at the national Republican Party in addition to her roles as Broward’s state Republican committeewoman and Florida’s national Republican committeewoman.
Day spoke this week at the county party’s monthly meeting and has a featured spot at the party’s big Friday night fundraiser.
She said she’s probably been home only 10 percent of the time since her mid-January election as co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. The rest of her time she’s in Washington and around the country.
Day told Republican committeemen and committeewomen that they can’t just sit around hoping Obama will lose. “This is not a social club. This is a working club. This is the trenches. We are the line in the sand…. We have to be ready. We have no choice. If we don’t we have no country,” she said.
Day urged anyone who hasn’t done so to e-mail Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to say “God bless you. Thank you for what you’re doing.”
As co-chairwoman, Day said she’ll take primary responsibility for Republican efforts with various constituency groups such as Hispanics or African-Americans that haven’t always allied with Republicans, or where relations have been shaky. She’ll also work on organizing the 72-hour campaign, the final push of a campaign that can determine victory or defat.
Day said her time in Broward, where Republicans are in the minority, helped prepare her for the new job. “If you can be a Republican in Broward County … you can take on anyone in any place in the country.”
Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale is new second in command at the Republican National Committee.
She won the spot as part of a leadership shakeup that saw the ouster of the controversial chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele.
In what Day acknowledges was a “major gamble,” she challenged the previous co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and narrowly defeated her in balloting late Friday afternoon.
Day received 84 votes to Jan Larimer’s 82 votes. Day said she thought to herself, “I can stay where it’s safe or I can get out there and try to make a difference where I think that I can better serve.”
Day said she’d work with Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, the new chairman, in raising money and bringing together various party groups and supporters. Steele is leaving behind a debt, and Priebus’ major focus will be raising money.
“I just looked at the direction the party had to go and the skills I had to go with that were unique,” she said. “For me this next [election] cycle needed someone who could build relationships.”
Day has been secretary of the national party for the last two years, one of the national party’s four officers. But the co-chairwoman position is a much bigger deal. It comes with a salary, an office budget and a staff, unlike her previous post which was a volunteer position.
The job has a two-year term.
John Lennon murdered Sharon Tate. Jodie Foster shot Ronald Reagan. Oliver Stone and Marilyn Manson caused Columbine. A dog ordered the Son of Sam killings. And Fox News, the Tea Party and the American right compelled Jared Loughner to shoot Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson.
The only reason these parallels don’t work is that while Charles Manson did in fact draw inspiration from “The White Album,” John Hinckley from “Taxi Driver,” Harris and Klebold from “Natural Born Killers” and (somewhat debatably) Marilyn Manson, and David Berkowitz from a Labrador retriever, there is no evidence Jared Loughner even watched Fox News or leaned right. Inconveniently, a former friend and bandmate described Loughern as “left-wing political radical” and “quite liberal,” and Loughner claimed The Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books on his YouTube page where he also released video burning the American flag.
But when it comes to exploiting human tragedy to “pick a target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it” (in Saul Alinsky’s words), no facts will obstruct a perfectly salvageable mainstream media narrative.
Writing in The New York Times, Paul Krugman mouthwateringly jumped at the bit to officialize the tragedy as a cue for “the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers,” giving dire caution over “the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead,” and blaming a “climate of hate.” Jane Fonda blamed the tragedy on “violence-provoking rhetoric of the Tea Party” – a movement whose standards of civility apparently don’t live up to those of the Viet Cong.
This “climate of hate” and “violence-provoking rhetoric” certainly wouldn’t include the congressional maps put out by the Democrat Leadership Committee using actual shooting targets (as opposed to the surveyor crosshairs used by SarahPAC), nor Barack Obama’s 2008 “if they bring a knife to a fight we bring a gun” remarks, nor the environmentalist 10:10 “No Pressure” ad featuring children being blown up for questioning green control tactics, nor the West Hollywood display of Sarah Palin hanging from a noose, nor the feature film “Death of a President” fantasizing the assassination of George W. Bush, nor Wanda Sykes giving President Obama a good tickle by wishing kidney failure upon Rush Limbaugh, nor Bill Maher regretting that the terrorist assassination plot against Dick Cheney didn’t pan out, nor even the gunshots fired into Republican Congressman Eric Cantor’s office during this past spring.
Naturally, only conservatives are to blame for a violent act by an apparent liberal. And instead of blaming Al Gore and the environmental movement for James J. Lee, the man who held three hostages at the Discovery Channel building with explosives attached to him this past September and claimed An Inconvenient Truth as his inspiration, we blamed one person: James J. Lee. For the same reason, here is a list of people I blame for the Tucson shooting (forgive the brevity):
1) Jared Lee Loughner
2) See 1)
I have publicly criticized zealous, unguarded conservative tactics before, such as in my piece Keep the Tea Kool-Aid Free and been chastised for it. Nevertheless, sorry, but I will not blame ignorant conservative tactics for this shooting by a described left-wing radical. Nor will I ever blame a violent act on anyone save the perpetrator. Tellingly, there has yet to be one conservative commentator to exploit what we know of Loughner’s leftist background to fault leftism itself. I will not be the first do that anymore than I will blame leftism for the shootings of Presidents James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy—all of whom were shot by left-wing radicals.
It is a shame that six innocent lives were taken in Tucson and instead of being a nation in mourning we are perversely forced to have a political debate. It is the same impulse which we see far too often on the left that insatiably itches for division in America, injecting political poison into apolitical or non-racial events to resurrect factionalism in race, class and persuasion—be it the Henry Louis Gates arrest, the Duke lacrosse “rape,” Hurricane Katrina, the SB1070 bill, the 2008 election, and endless other instances. “Progressives” are now demanding that divisiveness be toned down? Please, be my guests.
In Spike Lee’s brilliant 1999 film “Summer of Sam,” a group of friends begins to use the Son of Sam murders as a catharsis for their internecine animosities towards one another to the extent of forming lynch mobs. Perhaps there is an element of human nature that compels many to react to a tragedy by spreading the blame around. But I have a strange feeling we can do better.
What would happen, Ariel Sharon was asked in 2005, if Hamas took power in Gaza and started a new war?
“Israel would react relentlessly,” was the answer.
His autobiography is titled Warrior; he has been called Arik, King of the Jews by his supporters and the Butcher of Beirut by his detractors; both called him the Bulldozer. Is there any doubt that he meant what he said, that Israel would react relentlessly if Hamas took over Gaza and started another war?
We’ll never know, of course, because soon after that interview—five years ago today—Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke and cerebral hemorrhaging that led to the coma in which he still resides, suspended between life and death.
That question—what would Sharon do—would seem to have been made irrelevant the night of his incapacitation. But, in fact, it was just the opposite. Once the architect of democratic innovation (the creation of the Likud party), then the architect of great military victories (the stunning Suez crossing in the Yom Kippur War), then the architect of a united Greater Israel, Sharon was lastly the architect of the Gaza withdrawal, and the death—once and for all—of the idea of a Greater Israel.
The impact of this last reversal cannot be understated. Years ago, a longtime Mideast hand told me that Sharon once showed him a map detailing exactly how he was going to accomplish a Greater Israel. Now, Sharon left the party he created just so he could put the final nail in the coffin of the concept.
So what would Sharon do? “I’m not sure it’s possible to assess how he would behave,” Israeli columnist Shimon Shiffer told Lynn Sherr for a terrific 2009 Daily Beast column. Shiffer went on:
“One thing Mr. Sharon shares with the late Yitzhak Rabin, they belong to a generation of huge characters. The new generation of Israeli politicians, they look like dwarves when you compare them. Sharon had the possibility to lead the Israelis anywhere; you don’t have that with Netanyahu or Olmert or [Tzipi] Livni.”
Thus, with Sharon suspended between life and death, the Israeli people are as well—suspended between eras. Are they in the era of the Rabins and the Sharons, or the era of the Olmerts and the Livnis? Both? Neither?
As for the part about Sharon being able to lead Israelis anywhere—this is certainly true. I was at Hadassah Hospital the day before Sharon was scheduled to come in for a heart procedure. In preparing my reaction story on the tragedy, I spoke with numerous Israelis—left, right, center—and I heard from some of them the same refrain: I don’t agree with Kadima, but I will vote for them because of Sharon. He is a leader, and I will follow him.
To those who know Israeli politics, this is an extraordinary thing for an Israeli to say. It is also, per Shiffer, a product of a bygone era. It is difficult to imagine that phrase ever being uttered again, by any Israeli, about anyone.
So we are left to wonder: What would Sharon do? Would he have made peace with the Palestinians? Condoleezza Rice thinks so, telling Sherr it is the “logical conclusion” of her administration’s efforts. Henry Kissinger came close to saying so as well in a 2006 Washington Post column. This is understandable, as it fits nicely into the “Only Sharon could have…” storyline. But it’s also pure fantasy: the irony of Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal is that it proved that while even Israeli hardliners could take the steps necessary for peace, the Palestinians were simply incapable of doing so.
What would Sharon have done during the 2006 Lebanon war, in which Israeli leaders—of Sharon’s own Kadima party, no less—exasperatingly acted as though the war could have been won in the air alone? It’s doubtful Sharon—the brilliant and brazen ground forces commander—would have made the same mistake. After all, this is the man who characterized Israel’s successful counteroffensive against the Egyptian army in 1973 thus: “It was the same as 1967. The Egyptians came. We killed them. They left.”
But perhaps the most pressing “what if” concerns Gaza. What would Sharon have done about the rockets falling from Gaza post-disengagement?
When Israel finally sent the IDF into Gaza in December 2008, the operation was extremely well planned and executed. But it was halted before ousting Hamas or bringing back Gilad Shalit. So what would Sharon have done? This is a difficult question to answer, but I think Sharon would never leave Israeli citizens with the impression that Sderot and Ashkelon are not as important as Tel Aviv or Haifa, as Olmert did when he watched the rockets fall for far too long.
And when you look at it that way, you begin to understand just how different life in Israel would have been with Sharon still fully alive. My life, too, changed after I wrote that story in January 2006 about Sharon. It demonstrates just how difficult it is to come into Sharon’s orbit and remain unaffected.
Last month, Sharon was moved home to his family’s Negev ranch, though his condition remains the same. His condition, in fact, reflects that of the peace process—something that cannot yet be mourned or moved on from; a legacy hotly debated before it’s technically over; something everybody wants to rise from its limbo and lead the region to peace and prosperity though almost nobody believes it will happen.
But perhaps more important than what Sharon would do, is what Sharon would say. Sharon believed first and foremost that Israel must be proud of its identity as a Jewish state, and that Zionism needs Judaism the way humans need oxygen. And he would tell Israelis that they don’t need him, and how silly is their self-doubt. Here is how he concludes his memoirs, and how any discussion on Sharon should conclude itself:
“We also know that in the face of a mountain of problems, our parents and we ourselves have managed the most remarkable achievements. So when I consider how hard it looks now, I think back to when I was a child, working with my father on that arid slope of land, walking behind him to plant the seeds in the earth he had turned with his hoe. When I felt too exhausted to go on, he would stop for a moment to look backwards to see how much we had already done. And that would always give me heart for what remained.”
By William A. Cook
Raanan Gissin, Sharon’s former advisor, made the above comment last month as quoted in the Jerusalem Post (20-10-2010) upon the exhibit of a lifelike sculpture by Noam Braslavsky in Tel Aviv. The wax figure shows the comatose Sharon’s chest move up and down “to depict Sharon’s dependence on a breathing machine.” Some have found the work unsettling. “It’s very tragic,” Gissin noted. It’s “only sickening voyeurism,” Kadima MK Yoel Hasson declaimed. Braslavsky created “the sculpture because Sharon has been absent from the public eye for so long,” according to the Post’s article. Regardless, the exhibit has stirred up the Israelis as they are forced to revisit the former PM who is not yet dead.
Coincidentally, this week Christoph Schult published an article in Spiegel Online titled “The Israeli Patient: Searching for Ariel Sharon’s Political Legacy.” While noting that the former Prime Minister has been in a coma now for 5 years, “his presence looms over the country’s political course.” In an effort to explore whether or not the comatose PM would have taken Israel into peace negotiations with the Palestinians or not, he decided to interview Sharon’s sons and selected friends. Sharon’s sons offer little, indeed nothing worth recounting if the article’s lack of quotes is true. But Schult makes this point, “the entire country is living with the consequences of a policy that the former Prime Minister began but was never able to end. It was Sharon who ordered the construction of the security wall … and withdrew the Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip…” But Braslavsky got it wrong; Sharon breathes but lives via a gastric feeding tube. Can he hear? Can he see? Will he recover? No one seems to know for sure. His sons hope he will eventually wake.
So why the curious renewed interest in the former Prime Minister? It seems that the current policies of the Netanyahu administration, the increased vigor in the Knesset as it rams through a series of “thought” legislation, and the uncertainty that surrounds Obama’s ambiguous thrusts and withdrawals regarding his negotiations have shed klieg lights on what Sharon wrought before he fell into the coma. Five years ago I wrote an article, “Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, The Rape of Palestine,” (11-29-2005) that reflected then, when Sharon first went into the coma, what legacy he left to the Jewish state. It is a legacy of calculated carnage both of the people of Palestine and Judaism; it is imaged in his Wall of Fear that physically imprisons the Palestinians on one side and psychologically imprisons the Jews in fear and victimhood, a true legacy of isolationist tribalism as their efforts to control thought symbolizes. Magnify and multiply the abuses this man inflicted in 2005 by the atrocities of the 2006 Lebanon invasion, the Christmas invasion of Gaza, and the attack on the Marmara, added to those reported in B’Tselem since 2005, and one can understand why this state needs to hide behind thought control and the insulation that protects ruthless self interest. This passage from that article illustrates the point:
“As we moved through month after month of 2005, Sharon’s forces have continued their illegal “targeted killing” of Hamas militants, a short hand way of saying Israel has disbanded the basis of law in the West to reintroduce the law of the ancient barbarian states that granted license to the tribal chief or local tyrant absolute authority to determine guilt without arrest, without issuance of a charge, without counsel, without a plea, and without a court resulting in illegal assassination that goes unnoticed and unpunished in Israel and the United States, the self-extolled bulwarks of Democracy in the world. What hypocrisy. Thus have we come full circle in the mid-east as a new barbarian horde inflicts its merciless power on the innocent as well as the condemned for it inevitably happens, as it did this week, that innocent bystanders suffer the same fate as the object of the extrajudicial execution. The IDF record as reported by the Palestine Center for Human Rights as of January 2004 shows 309 civilians killed as a result of 157 executions. Rule without law, an action approved by the US government and supported by the American tax dollar. Yet no one objects. The above litany of Sharon’s brutality constitutes what is countable in the way of deaths attributable to the illegal actions of the IDF. But there are other consequences to this occupation that are lost to the non-observant eye…”
“The decline in the well-being and quality of life of Palestinian children,” reports Human Rights Watch, “[in the occupied territories] over the past two years has been rapid and profound according to CARE, 17.5% of children in Gaza are malnourished.” Thirteen percent of children between the ages of six months and five years “have moderate to severe acute malnutrition.” Nearly half of Palestinians live below the poverty line. Hospitals are in dire need of basic supplies including water and electricity. Almost ninety percent of the Rafah population depends on food aid. And while malnutrition and poverty imposed by the Israeli oppressors seems hideous enough, it pales in comparison to the reality facing the children as they grow up in the occupation. Dr. Shamir Quota, Director of Research for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programs, makes this observation: “Ninety percent of children two years old or more have experienced some many, many times the [Israeli] army breaking into the home, beating relatives, destroying things. Many have been beaten themselves, had bones broken, were shot, tear gassed, or had things happen to siblings and neighbors.”5
Contemplate that statistic, ninety percent of two year olds growing up have witnessed soldiers bursting through the door of their home, rifles pointed at their mother or father, pushed against walls, beaten perhaps, shouted at certainly, cursed we might assume, and left in fear knowing another raid is imminent. What torture is here? This is intentional, calculated, psychological torture, genocidal “mental harm” as described in the UN Convention.
But there’s more. I left Palestine shortly after the “disengagement” from Gaza, a word that masks the reality of that “peace” move by Sharon. There is no disengagement: Sharon’s government owns the sky above Gaza; it owns the fence around Gaza; it owns access and exit from Gaza; it owns sea passage and use of the sea that borders Gaza; and it owns the missiles that it hurls from F-16s into the cities and refugee camps inside of Gaza indifferent to the innocent incinerated by its savagery. The only real disengagement that Sharon authorized in Gaza is disengagement from responsibility under the Geneva Conventions for occupying powers to provide adequately and humanely for the people so occupied. That means Israel does not have to pay for the care of the people who are locked into their prison in this most heinous apartheid on the face of the planet.”
But lest the disengagement plan be observed as an Israeli weakness in light of world opinion against its occupation policies, Israel redoubled its efforts to punish the Palestinians in Gaza.
“Israel’s policy of assassinating wanted Palestinians continued in Gaza following the unilateral withdrawal. The policy was reaffirmed by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Military Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, at a meeting on 8 November 2005. According to statistics from Al Mezan, 47 targeted assassinations took place from 12 September 2005 to 10 September 2006, usually in the form of air strikes on a moving vehicle. Such attacks killed and wounded a total of 25 bystanders; for instance, an attack on 27 October 2005 killed seven Palestinians, including three children, and injured 19 more. Based on Al Mezan statistics, 362 Palestinians in Gaza died as a result of Israeli military attacks in the year following the unilateral withdrawal: 151 from 12 September 2005 to 27 June 2006, and 211 in Operation ‘Summer Rains’ between 28 June and 10 September 2006. The majority of casualties were civilian. The number of attacks escalated over the course of the year. Between 12 September and 31 December 2005, 544 artillery shells were fired into Gaza, and there were 124 air strikes. Between January and April 2006, more than 3,600 artillery shells and 63 air strikes were launched. Most recently, in June alone, there were 1,376 shells fired and 122 air strikes, as well as an explosion on Beit Lahiya beach which a Human Rights Watch investigation attributed to Israel; these recent attacks resulted in the deaths of thirty-six people, including 12 children, and injured 110. (The Disengagement Plan and Israel’s Status as Occupying Power, NGO in Consultation Status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN).
Following Sharon’s withdrawal into the coma, Israeli politicians were faced with determining what actions to pursue: continued disproportionate and ruthless military attacks against Gaza and the West Bank in keeping with Sharon’s policies or withdraw to a more conciliatory posture to appease growing international criticism of that behaviour. It didn’t take long for the world to witness Israel’s answer. The fall 2006 invasion and razing of Lebanon’s infrastructure followed by its merciless killing of over a 1000 Lebanese including the second destruction of Qana village (the first occurred ten years earlier) where 63 Lebanese refugees including 42 children were hunted down, chased from home to home until destroyed. Again, the savage behaviour executed by Israel was meant to demonstrate to the world that Israel was not defeated by world opinion.
But world opinion appears to be having an impact. Neve Gordon notes in “Thought crimes in Israel” (Redress.cc/palestine11-5-2010) that Israel’s Knesset has a raft of laws before it that will “seal Israel’s transformation into a fully fascist state that persecutes and marginalizes everyone who does not subscribe to the official racially-oriented ideology.” (quote from the introduction to Gordon’s article). These measures include swearing an oath of loyalty and allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to its laws and symbols as a condition for receiving public funding for film projects; for newly naturalized citizens to declare loyalty to the Jewish character of the state (similar Gordon notes to Jews and Muslims in Britain to swear to loyalty to the Church of England); for those protesting against or denying Israel’s Jewish character incarceration can be levelled effectively denying political freedom of speech; for those desiring to live in settlements who do not accept the settlement committee’s political views or religion no recourse is allowed to achieve their end thereby making it legal for settlements to deny access to non-Jews and Palestinians; for those who wish to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, public funds will be denied thus preventing expression to citizens of views that are critical of Israeli actions; for those who wish to encourage boycotts or disinvestment actions against the state monetary penalties will be imposed effectively silencing free speech; for all these measures the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has warned that they would effectively make an alternative political ideology, such as the idea that Israel should be a democracy for all its citizens, a crime.
This then is the legacy of Ariel Sharon: a retreat into self-righteousness that finds fault with all who oppose the Zionist ideology, the isolation within that fears anyone who does not accept the Zionist mindset of force that ensures adherence to rights determined by them to be rights. It is imaged in Sharon’s Wall of Fear that would visually erase their neighbours whom they have erased from their minds as people, to force their citizens to walk the streets, roam the highways, bathe in the sea yet not see one who is different from them though they live in the same land, raise their families under the same sun, drink from the same aquifers, and retire in rest as they watch the sun set over the same sea. But they are not the same if they do not believe what the Zionists believe for there is cemented into that mindset an absolute understanding that they alone determine what will be at any cost regardless of international law or international agreements, and they will use whatever means at their disposal to control all who could or would find fault with their desires and will.
Ironically, the conditions imposed on the Palestinians in their tomb, the benumbed state of their being, the years upon years of isolation and alienation, the loss of sensitivity to the rising and setting of the sun, the loss of friends and family, the loss of consciousness to all that surrounds them since it has been turned to ashes and waste, the loss of memory that gave identity to their being since none know now that they even exist behind the Wall, the loss of their very purpose to live, the loss of hope that has been entombed with them, their dependency on strangers to sustain what life breathes in their lungs is mirrored in the metaphor of Sharon lying in his sheeted shroud as day crowds on day, unable to respond to anyone or anything, entombed in his own flesh, unconscious, as the indifferent are unconscious, to his own plight or that of those he has buried alive.
Shortly after Sharon went into his coma, I wrote a novella (The Chronicles of Nefaria) using this very image of the Prime Minister in his tomb of flesh as a morality tale capturing him in his immobile state reflecting on his past life, suffering the pain that attends all who are indifferent to their brothers and sisters, those who have lost all sympathy for the human condition. Here is a passage from the General as he cries to his attendant nurse, a young girl from the occupied territory (called Elusia in the novella), following a dream:
I hear yet I have no life; everything flows around in sound: the silence, the warm air from the vent, the noise of a car on gravel, the boom of a jet engine, wind outside the window, voices, so many voices, booming ones from down the hall, soft ones like Humilia’s, harsh ones that demand she do this or that, voices I’d like to stifle. Sound, sound only sound. What reality is that? No response; I can make no response. I’m alone, so alone. Oh, if I could only see! Even move a finger, utter a sound, anything to show I’m here, alive, conscious … to touch another.
Humilia! My Angel, where are you? I’ve suffered such a dream, a hellish vision seared into my soul so deeply … my life now, reduced to unending reflection, transforms me into an image of human depravity, decades of days devoted to destruction, desolation and death, the sum purpose of my being … I cannot recall a day when I did not cause the death or torture or demolition of an Elusian life. I travel now in this hellish pit through fields of Elusian dead, their bodies form moguls on which I walk, their eyes staring up at me in disbelief and, yet, with sorrow for me. I move through fields of loss where the air stirs, surrounding me like the gentle pulse of a person’s breath, the breath of life never lived. Nightmarish visions of countless days of thinking without interruption … mutilated faces stare at me, children, children as far as I can see shrouded in the shadows of the massive gray wall, never to see the sun, or know the thrill of running through the hills of Elusia … to have to live in this rumination of my atrocities hour upon hour, to face the punishment of the Almighty, to see and feel the pain and suffering I have inflicted on others … that is a hell beyond comprehension … to live to remember and never die, to relive the insidious toxic beliefs I’ve infested our children with that will be their inheritance forever, a mental and emotional tomb in which they live every day of their life. And, God forbid, to never speak to another, to confess to those deceived and destroyed, to bear witness to this understanding in the awful silence of this vault where I lie alone, the sole arbiter of my acts – without comfort, without compassion, without forgiveness, without end. Oh, God, Humilia, what have I done?
Even as her Patient laments the agony of his abandonment, his awful, never ending torment, the ever recurring images of his brutality toward the Elusians flows forth from some unexplainable depth within, where despair and hopelessness reside, and he cries out to Humilia to talk to him, to sing to him, to touch him, to forgive him that he may rest, relieved of the horrific retribution thrust upon him.
But while Humilia cannot see his torment, she feels the anguishing cry that tears at his mind unable to erupt from his throat, the ancient wail of all who suffer beyond the ears of their sisters and brothers, lost, forgotten, the dying detritus of human waste, known to none, abandoned and forlorn in the shifting sand where even the wind whines like a banshee’s cry drowning the lone lament of the suffering Patient in the abyss into which Nefaria sinks to become only the last of all the glorious empires that live and die in these middle kingdoms where human desire and greed meet their ineluctable end.
Consider what Sharon and now Olmert have constructed. The Wall rests entirely within Palestine while it snakes over hills and valleys, down the middle of streets, carves towns and villages into parts separating people who have lived together for decades, centuries even, confiscates to the Israeli side the aquifers and wells belonging to the people of Palestine, as well as the olive groves and crops belonging to the people, and the arable land that will become the settlers fields and additional settlements for those who never lived a day in Palestine and have no history here, no memories, no culture that is indigenous if two thousand years is considered a measure. Completely surrounded, without access to their fields or mosques or friends or hospitals or employment, they have but two choices, leave or die. They are indeed buried alive by the Jews, a fate less absolute than the gas chamber since they can choose to leave, and leave behind two thousand years of history and land that has given life to generations of family embodied in 1000 year old olive trees summarily ripped from the ground by Israeli bulldozers, leave mosques in which they have worshiped decade upon decade, and leave their memories as those driven from their homes in 1947 lost theirs when their towns were razed and all that had been was no more.
Or they die; a living death that drags on day after day in poverty and need, dependent on those not indifferent to their plight: Israelis that have not capitulated to the wanton waste of human life because they know what victim hood is and recognize it; friends from all countries of the world who care enough to come as witnesses to the humiliation, the degradation, the racism that permeates the settlers and is embodied in the Israeli government; Jews from around the world who decry the inhumanity inflicted by their own on another; and Americans who care because they have faced the same threatened fear that enabled a corrupt and amoral administration to invade and occupy countries against international law. That is their fate.
William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His works include Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, The Rape of Palestine, and most recently The Plight of the Palestinians. He can be reached at [email protected] and www.drwilliamacook.com.
The big political news yesterday was that the GOP’s Tea Party candidate in Nevada Sharon Angle, a polarizing figure if ever there was one, raised a whopping $ 14 million this summer. How did she do it? Read this roundup.
Some are surprised. Why? Looney Tunes always grossed well.
Polls for Nevada US Senate Race, Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady!
The tide is turning in favor of Tea Party favorite and Republican candidate Sharon Angle in the Nevada US Senate Race. Angle even found support from her rivals son when Rory Reid, Democrat running for Governor of Nevada, stated that Obamacare would harm Nevada.
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats have thrown everything at challenger Sharon Angle including the kitchen sink. The result … Sharon Angle is now in the lead in the polling for the Nevada US Senate seat and the polls are trending in her direction. In the most recent Rasmussen poll, Angle leads the incumbent Reid 50% to 46%. Sharon Angle also leads Harry Reid in the recent CNN poll 42% to 41%. In the Fox News Opinion Dynamic poll Angle leads Reid 49% to 46%.
Not only is the trending toward Sharon Angle important, but the fact that Reid as an incumbent cannot draw more than 46% in the polls is troublingfor Democrats. Angle now finds herself ahaead in the RCP average polling. What also should be troubling for Reid and Democrats is that no one wants the ick of Obamacare attached to them. Harry Reid has tried to avoid the issue like the plague; however, his son Rory Reid made a comment in a recent debate that will most likely all but cost his father the race.
Nevada Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid (who is losing badly to Republican Brian Sandoval) admitted Obamacare was politically motivated, it wont lead to the resolutions of the probelms in Nevada and will not bring down costs. Oops. Imagine what the sit down is going to be like at the Reid residence at Thanksgiving?
From The Hill:
During a televised debate, Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said he does not support the legal challenges against the health overhaul. Yet, he does believe that President Obama’s signature achievement could negatively affect Nevada.
How bad is Obamacare if even your own son trashes the Democrat masterpiece of the Obama Presidency that Harry Reid advocated so hard for? Rory Reid admitted that it was politically motivated. Who actually thought it was to reduce costs and provide insurance?
Do we really need another Obama pet in the US Senate?
With less than 30 days to go before the 2010 midterm elections, Republican challenger for the Nevada US Senate seat leads incumbent Nevada Senator and current Democrat Senate Majority leader Harry Reid in a CNN poll and in a Fox News one as well. Harry Reid gets low job approval numbers (see complete data) as well does Barack Obama. It is hard to imagine with the trending pattern, the Republican enthusiasm, the anti-Democrat incumbent sentiment and the political environment that Reid will win this race. Reid only had a 1% lead in the last Rasmussen poll; however, no polling data has been done in October. What is evident in recent polling is that undecideds are starting to break toward the republican challenger Sharon Angle.
In the latest Fox News battleground state poll of likely voters, Angle drew 49 percent to Reid’s 46 percent. As voters make up their mind with four weeks to go until Election Day, Angle seems to have the edge.
In the first Fox battleground poll in the Silver State four weeks ago, 10 percent of respondents were either unsure, in favor of a minor party candidate or, as state law allows in Nevada, planning to vote for “none of these candidates.”
However, as stated at Hot Air, no individual is really going to take the time to go vote and either waste their vote or check none of the above. In such an important race with so much on the line and a midterm, those going to the polls to vote will most likely cast one for either Angle or Reid.
A hat tip to Jammie Wearing Fool for the VIDEO below of the progress we have made under the one party rule of Obama, Pelosi and Reid. A major reason why Republicans are ahead in so many polls leading up to the 2010 midterm elections … the November 2 vote will be a national referendum on Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Voters in November you have the chance this November 2, 2010 in the midterm elections to make Democrats and Barack Obama eat their words and make them pay for not listening to the American people, ”You would be think they would be saying thank you”.
We are making Progress according to Barack Obama
Remember this lie told by Obama. Sorry, we live in a PC world, it was a falsehood: With Obamacare your employer would see insurance premiums fall by as much as 3000%, which means they could give you a raise. The truth: Insurance premiums jumped 20%.
In this day and age where political operatives try to find bits of video or writings that conflict with an image an opposing candidate is trying to craft, one politician who has made it easy for the other side is Nevada Republican candidate for Senate Sharon Angle — with her comments against social security, fleeing reporters, and deciding only to allow herself to be interviewed by
Republican p.r. official Fox News’ conservative talk show host Sean Hannity. Will a piece of video that has just been uncovered have the kind of legs that were as enduring as the chicken feet that sunk GOPer Sue Lowden via a politically fowl video?
Perhaps. A 2009 video has come out showing her criticize mandated insurance coverage for autism. And it could not come at a worse time for Angle — when polls find her tied in her race for Senate against Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. Here’s the video:
Click here to view the embedded video.
And now a controversy has erupted:
The national Autistic Self Advocacy Network on Friday called for Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle to apologize for a statement she made regarding health care and autism treatment.
Video of Angle speaking at a 2009 Tea Party rally surfaced this week. In it the former state legislator slams Democratic health care policies.
“You’re paying for things that you don’t even need, they just passed the latest one is every, everything they want to throw at us now is covered under autism, so that’s a mandate that you have to pay for,” she said, making air quotes around the word “autism.”
The Nevada Democratic Party posted a video of the speech on YouTube.
“We’re concerned by the Angle campaign’s claim that individuals and families ‘falsely label other symptoms as autism’ in order to take advantage of insurance mandates,” the ASAN said in a statement. “Lack of insurance coverage for habilitative services, such as occupational therapy and speech pathology services, is a barrier to the civil rights of autistic Americans both young and old.”
Dems are hoping that Angle’s autism moment, which they are portraying as heartless and cruel, will take on the same kind of let-them-eat-cake aura and momentum that “chickens for checkups” ultimately did. Of course, Sue Lowden was the one gave “chickens for checkups” its legs by ham-handedly confirming that poultry barter for health care is a legitimate policy prescription. Angle and her campaign, for all their early missteps, have sharped up a good deal in recent weeks and won’t do anything so inept.
Also: You just never know which incidents and gaffes will take on the kind of defining quality that “chickens for checkups” did. That some take on a life of their own and others sink like a rock is one of the mysteries of politics. This one doesn’t seem quite on that level.
But the autism moment is, however, beginning to gain some traction: The Nevada media is on the story, and autism advocacy groups are now calling on Angle to apologize.
Sharron Angle thinks that she, with no grounding in medicine or any scientific field, understands autism better than the experts who have defined the autism spectrum. She thinks she is qualified to dismiss the spectrum as an attempt by doctors to sweep a variety of unrelated symptoms under the umbrella of autism, thereby allowing people to get mandated coverage for autism when they really don’t “have” autism.
And she is compounding this nasty arrogance by suggesting that mandates for coverage of autism are inherently wrong and unfair. And she can afford to have such an attitude because she has been fortunate enough to not have an autistic child and face the nightmare of trying to nail down a diagnosis and then an effective course of treatment, to locate and access programs to help the child in education and socialization, etc. Angle doesn’t have these problems, so why should she be forced to pay for that mandated coverage?
Like most ideologically rigid self-centered people, Angle views her life as completely under her control. She may credit God as the one doing the driving, but she smugly believes that God likes her better than those people who have been dealt [bad] hands. Why should she share – even fractionally – in the cost of covering an unplanned pregnancy or autism when God has afflicted other people with these punishments and not her? Rather than thinking “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” Sharron Angle goes through life with an attitude that challenges she hasn’t had to face are other people’s problem.
The Las Vegas Sun’s John Ralston notes that Reid has had a truly lousy week, puts his foot in his own mouth and has his share of flaws — but that Angle has become the gift that keeps on giving:
Unlike Reid’s, Angle’s lips are not loose. They are instead locked into positions that no amount of massaging and spinning can obscure, positions that she seems to recite by rote with no real comprehension of the real-world implications. She can stay on script, all right. But many Republicans think they can see the end of this movie and it’s a train wreck climax.
I sometimes think the Reid folks have a vault labeled “Sharron Angle and the Extremes Greatest Hits,” which they disseminate whenever the time is right. Phase out Medicare and Social Security. Privatize the VA. Not my job to create jobs. The hits just keep on coming.
The Reid folks believe they unearthed another instant classic this week: Angle at a 2009 Tea Party in Winnemucca ridiculing a legislative mandate to cover autism. Team Reid played it as Angle mocking those with the condition, but that was — how shall I say this? — an extreme interpretation. Angle was deriding government’s expansive approval of mandates for illnesses and using autism as an example.
But the real issue with what Angle was saying is that she often mouths conservative shibboleths — mandates bad, privatization good — without any apparent sense of the consequences. There is a superficiality to her philosophy, with an undercurrent of religion always over reason, that indicates she is plagued by a different kind of carelessness than is Reid, but one that is perhaps more dangerous.
Call it, as the progressive blogger Desert Beacon did, “compassionless conservatism.” Or just call it a one-philosophy-fits-all approach to a complex world.
So is it better to re-elect the careless four-termer with juice who drives the Democrats’ agenda and is likely to say more intemperate things in the next six years? Or is it better to elect the careless woman who will likely be marginalized in the Club of 100 because of her strange statements but will reliably vote no unless God tells her otherwise?
That, alas, is what the Nevada Senate race has come down to.
As your humble correspondent has learned, writing humor can be very dangerous since it can easily backfire. Such was the case with a story written by the former Mr. Sharon Stone aka Phil Bronstein, Editor-at-Large of the San Francisco Chronicle. Just from the very title of his piece, "Should Obama have smoked crack?" you just know Bronstein was going to run into trouble. Some readers didn’t know he was trying to be funny and were outraged. Other readers realized he was attempting to write humor but felt it was really lame. So here is Bronstein’s backfiring humor attempt:
…His druggie past is not helping him shape the overarching grit of his public character nearly as much as it could be. Weed and cocaine? Who’s going to be impressed with that, when his hugely successful contemporaries like Oprah Winfrey have the truly dark and evil specter of crack in their background?
…He needed some rock in that pipe of his youth. If he’d had a crack addiction then instead of an effete taste for powdered cocaine and pot, people might be a little more respectful of him now. It would have been an even tougher journey to the top. The big dog bite needs teeth sharpened by real adversity.
Crack could have helped put some color back into the Obama narrative. It is a drug that disproportionately haunts African American communities. Think coke and its Paris Hilton or some no-brainers on The Hills. Crack is the gutter drug.
Another useless editorial from sfgate’s do nothing editor. Don’t you have some copy to read?This is probably the most vapid observation of Obama’s past I have ever read. I’ll never get back the 2 minutes it took to read this.
Bronstein should resign. This is a new low for the Chronicle and embarrassment to San Franciscans.
9. Avoid op-ed backfire.
Humor is hard to project in an opinion piece. Satire can bite the writer.
P.J. Gladnick wrote a tongue-in-cheek satire about harmful cartoons for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He showed Snow White exploiting short people, Scrooge McDuck engaging in the capitalistic duck-slave trade, the Three Little Pigs abusing the Big Bad Wolf, and more.
That article made him the hero of the National Coalition on Television Violence, who used it to justify censoring Saturday morning TV.
href=”http://www.yaf.org/Blogs.aspx?id=4677&blogid=78″>Fifty years ago in Sharon, Connecticut, a group of crack conservative leaders developed href=”http://www.yaf.com/sharonstatement/”>The Sharon Statement and href=”http://spectator.org/archives/2010/09/10/young-americans-old-freedoms”>formed href=”http://www.yaf.com/”>Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The succinct statement of these teens and twenty-somethings encapsulated the chief truths of America: freedom of the individual, limited government, the free enterprise system, strong national defense, and the genius of the Constitution.
Armed with the Sharon Statement, the Young Americans for Freedom forayed into new territory. Besides launching their new publication, The New Guard and successfully fighting liberals in academia, they took the communists head on. YAF out-demonstrated them at the White House, thwarted an American manufacturer’s trading with Communist Romania, and held a successful national signature drive that helped shoot down the nuclear test ban treaty in 1963. And those are just a few of the stories. id=”more-42900″>
The conservative movement continued to grow since the signing of the Sharon Statement, and conservatives continue to look to a set of principles for guidance. Earlier this year, a coalition of conservative leaders signed href=”http://www.themountvernonstatement.com/”>The Mount Vernon Statement, named after the home of America’s first hero of freedom, George Washington. The Mount Vernon Statement echoes the same fundamental principles that the Sharon Statement enumerated half a century ago.
More importantly, it grounds the modern conservative movement to the principles of the American founding. While the Sharon statement focuses upon the outworkings of liberty and self-government, the Mount Vernon Statement harkens back to the Declaration of Independence and to the basis of human freedom: the laws of nature and nature’s God.
These core ideas coupled with youthful energy have become a powerful force for good in America. Although the principles have not altered since 1960, the political landscape certainly has. People rarely used the word “conservative” in those years, but he word and, more importantly, the movement are now far-reaching.
YAF’s success is not solely attributable to its individual leaders or particular victories, but to its dedication to the core principles of the Sharon Statement—and of America. The conservative movement cannot hope for success apart from that same commitment to its core principles.
Matthew Kuchem is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: href=”http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm”>http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm
I haven’t written much about the Sharon Angle Follies, but this exchange is quite interesting:
Q. Did Keynesian economics, the stimulus spending, work in the Depression of the ’30s?
A. No. And I think history has really proven that to be true. Most economists agree that the thing that really worked, which is a sad commentary, is the war.
And she’s right. Stimulus spending during the 1930s had little positive impact on the economy since there was in fact very little stimulus spending during the 1930s. Expansionary monetary policy moves made a great deal of difference in FDR’s first term, but then contractionary fiscal and monetary measures undertaken in 1937 prompted a new recession. Shortly thereafter, World War II revived the economy. But as Steve Benen says “The war was a shot in the economy’s arm because of all the spending.” The war is a textbook example of how deficit spending by the government can boost the economy by mobilizing real resources for some public purpose.
Now obviously it would be morally wrong to revive the economy over the next two years via a deficit-financed effort to destroy Germany and Japan. But the point is that if we use deficit spending to target and mobilize idle resources, the economy will grow. What’s more, if we target those resources and mobilize them to do something useful we’ll reap substantial benefits.