Archive | January 2015

Folk song Foreign policy

John Kerry went to France last week with James Taylor to sing “You’ve got a friend” to the French heads of State. No I didn’t make this up, it’s not an Onion piece, or an SNL skit, although it damn well should have been. And while I’m a fan of JT and think Carole King is an exceptional song writer, one the likes of which we could use more of these days, I suspect the limits of their expertise are in chord progressions and melody lines, not the intricacies of foreign policy.

But then again if a 70’s pop singer doesn’t work we can always go to more modern methods like Twitter. “Bring back our girls” was a rousing success wasn’t it? Boko Harem (not to be confused with Poco Harem another 70’s pop sensation) gave the girls back, realized that the President was seriously concerned about their grievances and has retired into the countryside right? Well not exactly, the girls are somewhere plying the sex trade for the crime of not converting, and Boko Harem burned villages and killed two thousand last week in Nigeria, and the fears are they will expand their Jihad into Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.

So Twitter and folk songs isn’t working as good as we thought? Last night in the SOTU the President described ISIL as “retreating”, and he claimed successes against Al Qaida in Yemen with his drone warfare. Well I guess he isn’t the most informed President in History, because while he was speaking   http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/world/yemen-violence/  this was happening.

That’s right the very Al Qaida that was “neutered” before the 2012 campaign is about to take over Yemen, the country we’ve been concentrating our drone attacks in. And here’s the irony, They are doing it with the help of Iran who is supplying much of the weaponry, the same Iran we are negotiating with while they are stalling to build up a nuclear arsenal. Perhaps if we send Linda Rondstadt to sing “Your no good” it will change the hearts and minds of the Mullahs?

Many have made the argument that the US is hated because we have been involved in the internal affairs of too many middle eastern countries. The President himself sat for twenty years under one of these believers. I have stated that over the twentieth century, the USSR was far more involved in the affairs of the ME than we were and that it is a vapid argument. But here’s the reality, since 1980, Iran has been at war with Israel (a country it doesn’t border that has never fired a shot at it), has run Lebanon as a proxy through Hezbollah, waged a civil war in Gaza through Hamas, and Syria through Hezbollah, supported insurgents in Yeman, and actively participated in the civil war in Iraq. When are their “chickens coming home to roost”?

In the meanwhile our answer, Twitter, Drones, and Folk Songs.

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Don’t do any Stupid Shiite

We learned from our distinguished former Secretary of State that “don’t do any stupid s*&#” is not an organizing principle for a foreign policy. Considering she traveled more then any Secretary of State in history I would argue that she was imminently successful at implementing it. But how did they not go to Paris for the memorial march?

Some sources in the administration have claimed that security was an issue, that may be a valid point. After all there was not near enough time for the Secret Service to find the good Parisian hookers before the entourage arrived. And it is an entourage, the President doesn’t just travel with his own car, he travels with his own motorcade, and two jumbo jets. It’s not like you can just call Paris Hilton and rent the Head of State room, they need the whole hotel.  Even back in the Bush administration days I remember Great Britain declining the Secret Service insistence that Buckingham palace have bulletproof glass installed before a Presidential trip.

But then again the Secret Service claims that the White House never contacted them about the trip. Problem solved, Attorney General Holder was already in Paris anyway. No need for extra security, when one of the Presidents close confidants is already there, right? Nope, he was busy taping an interview for Meet the Press. And we all know that standing in a show of union with the victims of a terrorist attack isn’t near as important as pleasing Chuck Todd.  Although it may have been for the better, Holder might have made a speech condemning the “senseless act of workplace violence” and called for more cartoon control in France, maybe suggested universal background checks for cartoonist or something.

During the 08 primary campaign Hillary Clinton ran an add questioning if Obama would be ready to answer the phone during a world crisis at Three AM? So far the problem hasn’t been some phone call in the middle of the night and lack of preparation. The problem has been lack of interest. When the Benghazi call came it was around 6 pm, but Obama was too busy getting ready for a speech at a Vegas fundraiser, when Isis released there first beheading tape, Obama announced he didn’t have a plan and went golfing that afternoon, and Obama was evidently preparing for his SOTU and couldn’t be bothered with standing up against terrorism with the French.

Speaking of which have you ever seen the effort in mental gymnastics to avoid calling this “Islamic” extremism that this administration goes thru?  Foreign Policy seems to be a distraction for the President, something that gets in the way of important domestic initiatives like regulating cow flatulence. The problem isn’t the organizing principle of “Don’t do stupid S*&#”, the problem is they don’t do any Shiite or Sunni or ANY foreign policy, it’s beneath them.

So instead we live in a world where ISIS has almost double the territory from when we started the “air campaign” in August while we proclaim “they are on the run”. Al Qaida is “neutered” while they’re planning attacks on Paris, and Lone Wolfs are blowing up the Boston Marathon. At least the new regulations for Methane emissions (cow flatulence) got released today.

The New Islamic Scholars

President Hollande of France made this claim after the events in France this week, “Those who committed these acts had nothing to do with the Muslim religion”. Really?  Not to be out done President Obama claimed earlier that ISIS is “not Islamic”. And David Cameron from the UK has made similar comments.

How Ironic that one man who spent much of his first presidential campaign trying to distance himself from his Muslim sounding middle name now claims to be a Quran and evidently an Arabic scholar. Evidently Allah Akbar doesn’t mean what we all thought it did. Iman Obama has declared it to mean (quoting Mark Steyn) ” “Nothing Islamic to see here”.

The world has an Islam problem and no amount of Hollandaise sauce will take away the bitter aftertaste.  France is a country with several Muslim “no-go” zones.  These are areas where Sharia law is enforced and basically no gays or Jews dare venture. But this “has nothing to do with the Muslim religion”.

The black clothed men carrying AK 47’s attacked a cartoonist for portraying the likeness in cartoons of Mohammad, the prophet of Muslims. No other religion has the death penalty for non-followers blaspheme. Just this week, Newsweek ran a hit piece on Evangelical Christianity. I don’t recall Rick Warren issuing a Fatwa or millions of Christians threatening violence. In fact I suspect none of Newsweek’s editors are in need of armed guards now. But this “has nothing to do with the Muslim religion”.

The terrorist also chose to attack a Kosher supermarket, a small reminder of the once thriving Jewish population in France. A population decimated by the Dreyfus affair, the Nazi’s and Frances continuous anti-semitism. France harbored the Ayatollah Khomeini for years. Almost 7000 French Jews have emigrated to Israel in the last year.  But this “has nothing to do with the Muslim religion”.

The reality is in one sense the terrorists grievance apologizers in the West are right, While Charlie Hebdo certainly didn’t deserve the bullets from those ISLAMIC terrorists AK’s, France has been asking for it for years. For years France has been tolerating a mini intifada, wether it’s synagogue bombing, gay bashing, attacks on Jewish businesses, Muslim no-go zones, or French Progressives marching in the streets during the Gaza incursion chanting “Jews to the ovens”. All the while proclaiming “it has nothing to do with the Muslim Religion”

Sadly in the West we are in denial, and if we don’t change we all will all get the rewards for appeasement.  While we claim “Al Qaida is neutered” bombs go off at the Boston Marathon. Paris is paralyzed, and the Benghazi consulate burns, but it has nothing to do with the Muslim religion.

A bit of cultural observation

After spending the holidays binge watching Justified, I have come to the conclusion that we are in the golden age of dramatic television. In between Blacklist, Walking Dead, Homeland, Breaking Bad, Justified, we have shows with developed characters, reasonably believable plots, non preachy dialog, and real actors. The fact that more are on cable speaks volumes, but even the networks are beginning to see that there is only so much demand for reality shows.

I don’t recall growing up with the same quality of dramatic television. In fact for the most part the great drama actors limited themselves to the big screen. While NYPD Blue and St Elsewhere were decent shows they didn’t have near the depth of writing that we see today. On the other hand I recall lots of great comedy growing up from Mash, Monty Python, early SNL, Taxi, to the Bob Newhart show.

Where is that great comedy today? The only comedy I find consistently remotely watchable is Big Bang Theory. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other must watch comedies. I’ve tried a few, but they all seem to have nothing but sex jokes. Not that sex can’t be funny, most of my attempts certainly have been. But one can only take so much locker room humor in public.

When I think back to those 70’s comedies, they all seemed to have one thing in common. They made fun of “the man”.  They weren’t afraid to make fun of cultural norms, excesses, or the hypocrisies of the cultural and societal elites.  I suspect that the reason we see so little of that today is twofold. One, many of our elites take themselves far too seriously. They aren’t just trying to make the planet cleaner they are “saving” the planet, one Prius at a time.

And two, Hollywood IS those elites. for years our cultural criticism took place from the outside of the halls of power. Now the studio heads and producers are on the inside, and they are far too serious to make fun of themselves. Speaking the truth to power is kind of hard to do when your busy hosting campaign fundraisers. It’s kind of hard to make fun of “the Man” when you are the man.

Doing Church?

Visited another church last week.  It was friendly enough, and while a “satellite” of a much larger church it was a much smaller congregation than my last church. The music was as good as it could be considering the restraints of the current era’s sad hit or miss Christian songwriting. And they seemed to have a lot of stuff to get involved In. I made the statement about a year ago that I wasn’t going to sit alone in a church again.

Well, I’ve visited two in the last month or so and ended up breaking my promise both times. Is it impossible to be with someone or connected these days if you aren’t married, in a relationship, or with a family member? For the record I’m not sure this is just a church problem. The idea of extended family that is not family doesn’t seem to exist in todays culture anywhere including the church.

I talked on the phone to a friend of mine last week, someone who I haven’t connected with in about a year and a half. We were fairly close before he got married, we played in bands together, backpacked together, and I stood up in his wedding. We use to go Christmas shopping every year at a local outlet mall even after he was married. But like most traditions in the modern era it fell by the wayside. He probably uses Amazon, and he’s busy that time of year. I get it, I just can’t help but think that being a part is harder than ever in our society of on line friendships. Ironically, he observed that he had seen much the same thing in his own recent church experiences.

I was reading someone last week probably on Facebook talking about the need of being part of something larger than ourselves. I suspect this is what drives a lot of church attendance these days, and I certainly agree. But is it possible to become a part if you aren’t already a part? I’ve made efforts in my last three churches to do so and found it very difficult. Like I said before I was involved in one ministry for three years and realized I had never seen the homes, had coffee, or a meal with any of the other parts.

And when I left I wasn’t missed. That doesn’t sound like the description of a body that Paul uses in I Corinthians 14. Sadly while we read chapter 13 all of the time, we rarely take the words of chapter 14 to heart. Being a body is different than being a “part” of a business or cause. Parts are replaceable, I was a part, at the last three churches I was a member of, I wasn’t a member of a body. People would miss their hand, eyes, or gall bladder if it was removed. But you lose a part of an institution, you just replace it with the next part, no big deal. It happens in the business world all of them time, it shouldn’t happen in the church.