Category Archives: politics

The Encyclodpedia of

Check out a thorough collection of articles about 9/11 via NYMAG‘s Encyclopedia of 9/11.

What Dinh didn’t anticipate was a profound shift in liberalism and, therefore, in the politics of the country. Even with a Democrat now in the White House, the liberalism that protects the right of the individual against the majority—the politics of civil rights and abortion and gay marriage—has diminished, in favor of one that aims to improve the lot of the median man. Obama’s liberalism is for the majority, not against it. This spirit, and the unlikely endurance of the Patriot Act, owes something to the central psychological events of the decade: the vitality and threat of new economic competitors, the social violence initiated by the authors of obscure financial instruments, but first and most of all September 11—each of which evoked a particular feeling, that we were all together, under attack. .::Patriot Act

McGill Students Elected to Parliament

Image source

Three current McGill students and one recent McGill graduate were elected members of parliament (MPs) in today’s federal election

The students, Charmaine Borg, Matthew Dubé, Mylène Freeman and Laurin Liu, were all NDP candidates in Quebec ridings. All four candidates defeated incumbent opponents from the Bloc Québécois.>

The Frenchness of the French

by guest writer Max

There is a fascinating, and exquisitely French, debate happening in France now. Second only to the vast public infrastructure projects, the grands projets, the French revere le grand débat. Today’s debate is “National Identity,” l’Identité Nationale. “What does it mean to be French?” read: can Islam be integrated into French society or not. Sarkozy’s center-right UMP party’s thinly veiled strategy wants to wrest votes away from le Pen’s National Front and the extreme right. The forum for this debate is a website created by the Minsister of Immigration, Eric Besson, that poses the question “What does it mean to be French?” The French, whatever that means, are to respond to this heavily monitored site and explain just how French they are. The website has received enormous attention in the press.

The preeminent event of contemporary French politics is le Pen’s ascension to the runoff election in 2002 allowing the overtly corrupt Jacques Chirac to win his second term by default. The fractured Left, outraged and soundly thrashed, were faced with the painful duty of voting to the Right to save the nation from bigotry and nationalist hysteria. Immigration thenceforth became the dominant political key for the center right to keep winning elections. In anticipation of those upcoming in 2012, Sarkozy has fired the opening salvo. Only the effort has backfired. Instead of rallying voters to the center, it has stirred up the hatred and fear that fuels the far right who have cannily adopted the slogan, “choose the original, not the copy.”

More than any country in the world, France loves to debate. That is, to talk. One is reminded of this famous apocryphal saying by a mythical intellectual, “It works in practice. But does it work in theory?” Not a factually accurate quotation by any means, but very accurate poetically in capturing the spirit of French verbosity. Whenever a single issue predominates the news in France at any given time, it is time to “open the debate,”and they’re off! Every night, dozens upon dozens of panels peopled with intellectuals, pundits and public figures of all stripes ,talk themselves into a trance. Beyond the pleasing cadence of a well-turned French sentence, my favorite piece of business in this drama is a gesture, the time-honored pairing of a shrug and a pout, melting into a “Oui mais vous savez…” (Yes, well, you know…), Or, “Ecoutez…” (Listen…), the way every American pundit launches into his argument with the more practical, and therefore American, “Look…”

Just as Le Pen’s triumph of 2002 forever shifted the tectonic plates of contemporary French politics, the defining political event of modern France is the deified law of the 9th of December 1905 that separated Church from State. Enter the tender infancy of France’s beloved laicité, secularism, and in practical terms, the ideological firmament of the French Republic itself—the apotheosis of the secular ideals of the Revolution. After the 16th century wars of religion and the Terror’s ruthless annihilation of the Catholic clergy, the specter of Islam haunts the Continent. Especially in France, which boasts a proud 5 million Muslims, the largest Muslim demographic in Europe. Consider this very telling current ideological event: in May 2009, before a France-Algeria exhibition game, in France, the French national anthem was met with deafening boos. This is by no means a new phenomenon; the same situation arose October 2008, when the Tunisian national soccer team faced off with the French national soccer team, and against Morocco in 2007. In a grim irony, the French team being booed is dominated by Frenchmen issued from the former colonies, including many from Muslim North Africa.

Whose side are you on Muslims? Are you French or are you Algerian? Can one be both? I am an American who grew up in France. I am also an immigrant. If I celebrate Thanksgiving is the Minister of Immigration Eric Besson going to give me a stern talking to? The very idea is of course laughable. The immigration “problem” is not that of white Christians. France, the nursery of Human Rights and the values of the Enlightenment is tolerates everything but intolerance. The Jewish Question of yore is now “the problem of Islam.” The spectre of Colonialism haunts the Continent, heralding the era of what is essentially France’s version of the American Civil Rights movement of the 60s. The anti-colonial uprisings of that era have now moved to the home country.

Face to face with this very palpable racism the dispossessed French youth of the notorious banlieues’ identification with the old country is not particularly sincere. These angry young men are only connected to their cultural origins by abstraction and family traditions. Allegiance to Algeria over France, however, serves as a very effective vehicle to carry on the robust legacy of French revolutionary politics—épater le bourgeois. Or as the staunchly political rappers of France might put it: foutre le feu (set the place on fire.) In short: Eat the Rich. What could be more French than that? The French, that is, the Right, stubbornly insist that they live in an egalitarian democracy, that affirmative action, or as they so tellingly put it: “positive discrimination” has no place in a republic. Another thing has no place: the veil. And now, the burqa. Segue the fear soundtrack.

It hearkens back to the 2004 law against the veil, which I support. Let’s be very clear how the two laws are different. France is a republic, that is to say, secular. The United States is not. We need not go into the importance of an American candidate to assert his Christian values in order to get elected. In France, the State is the embodiment of egalitarian politics and, in accordance with the separation of Church and State, is separate from religion. Religion is not taught in public schools and it is excluded from affairs of state. In America we want to have it both ways. So, in France, you can’t go into a courtroom dressed head to toe in a burqa, or wearing a veil, or decked out in Hasidic dress, or appearing in a Greek Orthodox, vaguely star wars-esque costume. Ostentatious displays of religion in government buildings, that is to say, schools, are banned. It is an idea totally incomprehensible to Americans. And yet that is what State-Church separation means. The law against the burqa, however, and this is what is so radical, outlaws the garment in public, on the street, at the office. It’s a scandal. What’s more, it’s infantile. Everyone understands reverse psychology. This law will accomplish exactly the opposite of what it aims to do and arm fundamentalist imams who prey on the disenfranchised youth of the cités. Or is it actually exactly what the Right wants? To stir up hatred and then to prove to the terrified French public that they can trust the centrist UMP over the far-right National Front to handle the “problem” of immigration.

Strolling through Chinatown one spring afternoon last year, I saw the extreme-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders patrolling the area flanked by his security detail. I called out “Hey Geert! Welcome to America!” He was in a state of shock that anyone this side of the pool had noticed a public figure from this discreet Northern country. The incongruity of this avowed racist transplanted into this Hong-Kong-in-the-New-World was truly a day-maker for me. He could barely muster a puzzled smile and a puzzled departure. My impulsive greeting, as a person completely disconnected from Dutch politics, speaks to how this figure has acquired something of an international reputation on the world stage as a canny fearmonger and rising political star, à la the late Austrian Jorg Haider, or a young Jean-Marie le Pen. Coiffed in a shock of flaxen hair, he caused a stir for producing an infamous documentary excoriating Islam, Fitna, Arabic for “test of faith in times of trial”. Filmed in the aftermath of the equally polemical Submission, released by Theo van Gogh, subsequently stabbed by an Islamic radical in an Amsterdam street in 2004.

Wilders must have been horrified at this brazen ghetto of foreign nationals, or most likely, illegals, completely disconnected from traditional white, America. Again, doom music. Here, the old Chinese lady carrying twin garbage bags of cans with a stick across her back. See her trudging through the streets, streets thronging with the atonal dissonances of varying Cantonese dialects. There, a fishmonger selling turtles and sharks. Oh, hello, a fish flapping wildly in his death throes! A garbage can filled with frogs. “Handba? Handba? Handba?” “watches watches watches good price.” In short, a fun, colorful neighborhood right? No, says Geert Wilders. This is not Republican assimilation under the trinity of human rights, secularism, and egalitarian politics. This is treasonous rejection of democratic values, or as the French call it, communautarisme, a bad word.

Take New York for example, a case in point of so-called communitarianism. The cultural mosaic of the metropolis of New York is defined by its sections of isolated cultural identities; Chinatown, Koreatown, Russian Bay Ridge, Italian (Mafia) Bensunhurst. Formerly, the Irish Five Points, Kleindeutschland around Thompkins Square Park, the Jewish Lower East Side. In a Republic, say the French, this is bad, or rather, undemocratic. But Paris follows exactly the same pattern: The Kurdish Gare du Nord, Chinese Belleville, Black and Arab Barbès, the Jewish Sentier. Bad! Bad, bad, bad. In their view, the very idea of a Republic demands acceptance of the values and laws of said Republic. We are all French. French liberals, gauche caviar oblige, allow that one can be first French, Moroccan second. But both sides agree that if not French first, democracy is in peril.

The perfect example is the veil. A simple syllogism: public schools are secular. Visible displays of religion are not. Ergo, the veil is not allowed in public school. Period. You either cheer for the French team or you cheer for Algeria. You are not Franco-Algerian. In America, on the other hand, not a quarter hour of conversation goes by in social circles without an allusion to our ethnic heritage, that we come from hearty Scotch-Irish stock, or an old Mayflower dynasty, Eastern European Jews, wretched Sicilian peasants. “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses…”

Or, more vulgarly, the old gag:

“Do you have any Irish in you?”


“Would you like some?”

When the trumpets sounded Barack Hussein Obama’s triumph, a post-racial America was proclaimed. A year later, buckling under the loss of the supermajority we have become a little less credulous. Bipartisanship, or the naïve belief that Left and Right have become antiquated concepts, has cost Obama a seismic defeat. As for the so-called “post-racial America” the race card is played more fiercely than ever. But it would be foolish to ignore the gains we’ve made since the Civil Rights movement. 50 years later, France is entering its own Civil Rights movement. The impotent French Left fails to grasp the extraordinary potential to seize this debate in their favor. But the cries of hate stoke the black magic of conflict; the fiendish, reptilian addiction to exacting street justice against the sacrificial scapegoat. This pagan human sacrifice to the Nation unites the Nation in its hatred of the Other. It reminds me of the Lenny Bruce bit, “Let us all band together brothers and sisters, and unite, against the Greeks!”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy with caption: “Vote [far right National Front Party leader] Le Pen”

Vatican Hates Avatar

“3 words… 3rd word starts with O… Giant Owls… C’mon sons…!”

I never thought I’d say it, but thank you to Dan Brown for blowing these gates wide open.

VATICAN CITY The Vatican newspaper and radio station have called the film “Avatar” simplistic, and criticized it for flirting with modern doctrines that promote the worship of nature as a substitute for religion.

L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican Radio dedicated ample coverage to James Cameron’s big-grossing, 3-D spectacle. But the reviews were lukewarm, calling the movie superficial in its eco-message, despite groundbreaking visual effects.

L’Osservatore said the film “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature.” Similarly, Vatican Radio said it “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”

“Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship,” the radio said.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that while the movie reviews are just that film criticism, with no theological weight they do reflect Pope Benedict XVI’s views on the dangers of turning nature into a “new divinity.”

Benedict has often spoken about the need to protect the environment, earning the nickname of “green pope.” But he has sometimes balanced that call with a warning against neo-paganism.

In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone.”

The Vatican newspaper occasionally likes to comment in its cultural pages on movies or pop culture icons, as it did recently about “The Simpsons” or U2. In one famous instance, several Vatican officials spoke out against “The Da Vinci Code.”

In this case, the reviews came out after a red carpet preview held in Rome just a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Square. The movie will be released Friday in Italy.

The story of the tall blue creatures who inhabit Pandora and contend with humans intent on grabbing the resources of their planet has made over $1.1 billion at box offices worldwide. Partly boosted by higher 3-D ticket prices, “Avatar” looks well on its way to becoming the biggest grossing movie of all time.

“So much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine emotions,” said L’Osservatore Romano, which devoted three articles to “Avatar” in its Sunday editions.

L’Osservatore Romano said the movie’s plot is unoriginal and its message not new. It faulted Cameron for taking a “bland approach.”

“He tells the story without going deep into it, and ends up falling into sappiness,” it said.

Vatican Radio did say, however, that “really never before have such surprising images been seen,” while L’Osservatore said the movie’s worth lies in its “extraordinary visual impact.”

From Yahoo

O’Reilly’s Nice Side?


Now, I don’t really want to get too caught up being surprised that Bill O’Reilly might have a soul – but I might not have a choice. I mean, seeing him posed for a photo with some children with the flag in the background isn’t surprising – he’s not Ann Coulter, and I’m not concerned that his lower jaw un-hinged and he ate them whole. But the Parade article that the photo is from – “What President Obama Can Teach America’s Kids” – is nothing I would have expected from the pundit. It’s no spectacular piece of writing by any means, but it does manage to be somewhat thoughtful and non-partisan.

Lesson Five?perhaps the greatest lesson the President can teach children: In America, anything is possible

This is something of a clich?, but never has it been more vividly illustrated. Barack Obama, a youngster in Hawaii without his parents around, has toughed it out and become one of history?s great stories, no matter what happens going forward. What he has achieved in his 48 years is simply astounding.

Consider the odds. The United States is a nation of more than 300 million citizens. Only one person is currently the Commander in Chief. That man had no fatherly guidance, is of mixed race, and had no family connections to guide him into the world of national politics.

That adds up to one simple truth that every American child should be told: ?If Barack Obama can become the President of the United States, then whatever dream you may have can happen in your life.?

But, all that said – he’ll probably just use it as evidence that he’s ‘fair and balanced’ the next time he screams at a 9/11 survivor or something. Slightly interesting, nonetheless.

.: full article -> via Parade

from the readers

You know, I heard a staggering stat the other day. If you count all of the money the government has doled out during this crisis, it equals approximately $100,000 per U.S. citizen. Call me f?cknuts, but I think sending 100k to every American would have stimulated the f?ck out of this b!tch, as opposed to just giving it away to some asshole CEO, who will horde the cash and/or dump it into treasuries.

No Take-Backs?


The election of Barack Obama has left many overjoyed – and many hoping that the United States is finally ready to address it’s racial issues [yes, I said address: all you white guys on CNN are full of it, this is not a post racial society – just a maturing one]. I went to sleep happily surprised by and immensely proud of the outcome, looking forward to us, as a people, getting this country back on track and moving in the right direction again.

Then I woke up yesterday morning, and read the news about the ballot initiatives in a number of states concerning gay rights – and realized that while racism may be something that Americans are dealing with, bigotry itself thrives. For instance – the image above is not of Obama supporters celebrating victory – it’s Bob Knoke, of Mission Viejo, Amanda Stanfield, of Monrovia, Jim Domen, of Yorba Linda, and J.D. Gaddis, of Yorba Linda [yeah, I named names - you know how ninjas do], celebrating returns for Proposition 8 at an Irvine hotel [via the LA Times]. Celebrating a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage – to take away a right that was ranted to Californians.


Gay rights aren’t really something I thought much about. I live in MA, so gay people can get married, buy station wagons, adopt kids, and increase property value in the hood by renovating old homes all they want. That, and defending gay rights always seemed difficult to me. How do you explain common sense to someone? That 2 guys getting married doesn’t affect anybody adversely? That the personal relationship between 2 people is nobody’s business but their own? That if you’re so ‘straight’ you should be watching football and drinking shitty beer, not discussing the legality of two women getting married. I tend to quickly give up, or call whoever I’m arguing with a bigot [neither is particularly constructive or successful].

But this mess here is just too much.

When gays won the right to wed in Cali, that was that. Sorry haters, but game over. This is America, and to paraphrase Ted Kennedy “we don’t hold votes in this country to TAKE AWAY THE RIGHTS OF OUR CITIZENS” [sorry, I can't find a source...but I heard him say it]. What if there was a vote for Women’s Suffrage? For the Civil Rights Act? I’d bet just about anything that women wouldn’t be voting, and blacks would still have different water fountains. People just cant be trusted with these decisions – and definitely don’t have the right to make the decision to take any of these things away.

But hell, all this thoughtful BS aside – what the fuck are these assholes cheering for? Was that douche in the center of the photo worried about getting drunk and waking up next to a guy named Lance, with a new wedding band on his ring finger? Because that’s just about the only reason this makes any sense. Him and the jackass to the left look like they’re probably harboring special feelings for each other themselves…

These Prop 8 supporters, for instance, act as if they’ve been wronged by the Cali supreme court decision. Wronged how? This is just straight-up none of your business if you’re not gay. I shouldn’t even be writing about it. But instead, these clowns draw these BS lines in the sand – ‘civil unions’ but no ‘marriage’. WTF is the difference? Civil union supporters themselves admit that there is no legal difference. Legal? Well, what other difference is there then, in the eyes of the US Government? Marriage is by definition a LEGAL and RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL bond. So if a civil union is legally the same…what’s being regulated here?

Anyways, I’m just ranting here and nobody cares what I think about this. But know this: anyone who gets as excited as the people shown above about stealing the rights of US citizens is in serious need of some introspection [and probably some kind of psychiatric help], and un-American [oh, Republicans, how's it feel to have the turned back on you?]. That, and the cheers for the black man who finally overcame American racism to become President have had the unfortunate side-effect of drowning out the dying cries of the rights of millions of citizens.

There’s a lot of work to be done here, my ninjas.