Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 19th, 2010

Muslim community center in shut-down clothing store

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More accurate than "Ground Zero mosque," though it does omit the fact that the former store is two blocks from ground zero, which cannot be seen from that point. Benen:

Under the circumstances, how one chooses to label the Park51 project matters in shaping public attitudes. With that in mind, the AP is clearly doing the right thing, making up for some misleading headlines.

The Associated Press, one of world’s most powerful news organizations, issued a memo today advising staff to avoid the phrase "Ground Zero mosque."

The Upshot reported Tuesday that the AP started using the phrase "Ground Zero mosque" in some headlines in late May. The New York Times, for one, has consciously avoided that phrasing.

The AP began using the phrase as the controversy over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque in Lower Manhattan started bubbling up to the national level…. Now the news organization is taking steps to make sure that no longer occurs.

This would have been even more helpful, say, a few weeks ago, before so many Americans became enraged by a proposal that doesn’t exist, but I suppose it’s better late than never.

I do sympathize with headline writers. "Muslim community center in shut-down clothing store" isn’t exactly punchy. Hell, the accurate description immediately invalidates the basis for the entire controversy, making the argument rather pointless.

But as long as the matter remains a subject of intense national security, and developers are calling the proposed building "Park51," that should make it easier for editors looking for something easy to call it.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Daily life

The wrong enemy

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Steve Benen:

It’s still incredible to me that the right hopes to make Faisal Abdul Rauf a villain. Jeffrey Goldberg shares this anecdote today.

In 2003, Imam Rauf was invited to speak at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the journalist murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan. The service was held at B’nai Jeshurun, a prominent synagogue in Manhattan, and in the audience was Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father. In his remarks, Rauf identified absolutely with Pearl, and identified himself absolutely with the ethical tradition of Judaism. “I am a Jew,” he said.

There are those who would argue that these represent mere words, chosen carefully to appease a potentially suspicious audience. I would argue something different: That any Muslim imam who stands before a Jewish congregation and says, “I am a Jew,” is placing his life in danger.

Remember, Islamists hate the people they consider apostates even more than they hate Christians and Jews. In other words, the man many commentators on the right assert is a terrorist-sympathizer placed himself in mortal peril in order to identify himself with Christians and Jews, and specifically with the most famous Jewish victim of Islamism.

In context, Rauf told attendees, “We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma’ Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.”

This is, of course, also the same imam who partnered with the Bush/Cheney State Department on international diplomacy, the Bush/Cheney Justice Department on counter-terrorism, and has devoted his career to combating extremism.

He’s also the imam Fox News personalities have labeled a “radical,” and who Sean Hannity has suggested might need to be expelled from the United States.

I know August has become a time for nonsense, but the right-wing campaign against this Muslim American is really pushing the envelope.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Daily life

TV viewing

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As you may know, I view TV only on DVD, so I have to wait a while to enjoy the shows.

I loved The Wire, and I will probably watch the whole thing again sometime.

I had heard a lot of good things about Law and Order and at this point there’s a huge backlog, so I got Season 1 DVD. Alas, I couldn’t make it through the second episode. I noticed immediately the sort of squeaky clean and organized look: very square shots, no distractions. And as the scenes played, there was also no nuance. Of course, the target audience for a show named Law and Order is probably uninterested in nuance, but I am.

I thought the acting was more or less reciting lines—like cardboard cutouts, and in the second episode I started to think that actually using cardboard cutouts would be interesting. I think the actors might be able to do much more if the scripts and director were better, but I’m not interested in sticking around to find out if they ever pulled it together. Basically, for me it was terrible and it’s gone.

But now I’m watching the first season of Murder One and I’m much more impressed. They used well-known (and highly skilled) actors, and they gave them a good script and good direction. I’m liking it.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 1:31 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies

Food notes

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Menu today:

Breakfast
Oat groats cooked with turmeric
Soft-boiled egg with the groats

Lunch
Green salad with 8 oz bay scallops (raw) and croutons
A pony of champagne

Dinner
Chilled gazpacho
Loin lamb chop from a local lamb
Red wine

I guess I’m sort of celebrating.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Another pointless "acupuncture" study misinterpreted

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Interesting post by Orac:

At the risk of once again irritating long time readers who’ve hear me say this before, I can’t resist pointing out that, of all the various forms of "alternative medicine" other than herbal medicines (many of which are drugs, just adulterated, impure drugs), acupuncture was the one treatment that, or so I thought, might actually have a real therapeutic effect. Don’t get me wrong; I never bought magical mystical mumbo-jumbo about "meridians" and "unblocking the flow of qi" (that magical mystical life energy that can’t be detected by scientists but that practitioners of woo claim to be able to manipulate for therapeutic intent). The point is (sorry, couldn’t resist) that acupuncture actually involves doing something physical to the body, namely inserting thin needles into it. Shorn of its trappings of prescientific Eastern mysticism, acupuncture struck me as something that might have something to it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 11:23 am

Why oil billionaire David Koch is secretly funding Astroturf to repeal CA clean energy laws

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Because he opposes clean energy, of course: he wants you to buy oil. Climate Progress:

This Wonk Room cross-post is part of a Progressive Media blogging series on the fossil fuel-funded Prop 23 effort to repeal California’s clean energy climate law. Read Rebecca Lefton’s posts on Prop 23’s economic impact, national repercussions, and funding from Texas oil companies.

Much has been reported about how Texan oil companies Valero and Tesoro have been fighting to repeal the landmark clean energy climate change law, AB 32. The Wonk Room recently obtained a PowerPoint from Tesoro showing that the company made a pitch to oil companies, including BP, to join their effort known as Proposition 23.

But there is another powerful out-of-state fossil fuel interest trying to eviscerate California’s pioneering climate change law: Koch Industries. The Wonk Room has learned that Koch Industries is funding the lead “grassroots” group organizing support for Proposition 23, and is also funding the Pacific Research Institute, the main think-tank producing junk studies smearing AB 32.

As ThinkProgress and the Wonk Room have detailed, Koch Industries is the largest funder of climate change denying and anti-environmental regulation fronts worldwide and its Americans for Prosperity Foundation is responsible for helping to create the so-called Tea Party movement. While the Koch brothers at the helm of Koch Industries are committed right-wing ideologues, their financing of front groups helps boost the profits of their conglomerate. Koch Industries contributes heavily to carbon pollution through their asphalt, timber, and oil refinery subsidiaries, and the University of Massachusetts lists Koch as the the 10th worst air polluter in America.

In its corporate newsletter, Koch Industries explicitly states that the low carbon fuel standard California is set to adopt to comply with AB 32 carbon emissions regulations would harm its bottom line because Koch imports mostly high-carbon crude oil from Canada. Another Koch newsletter warns that its Pine Bend Refinery in Minnesota specializing in high-carbon Canadian crude would become much less profitable for Koch if low fuel standards mirroring AB 32 are adopted around the country.

In an attempt to kill AB 32 and squash the likelihood that similar laws spread nationwide, Americans for Prosperity California — a front group founded and funded by Koch Industries executive David Koch — has been organizing Tea Party rallies with Prop 23 proponent Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda), bringing Tea Party support to AB 32 repeal hearings, and producing videos calling on Californians to pass Prop 23. The Wonk Room, with help from CAPAF intern Tara Kutz, has produced a video detailing Koch’s secret role in repealing Californian clean energy:

WR: Moreover, here is a rare clip of Americans for Prosperity operative Meredith Turney bragging to Koch Industries executive David Koch that her front group will help take over the Golden State. Koch Industries fears that laws like California’s revolutionary AB32 will hurt their bottom line, that’s why, like the tobacco industry, they are funding front groups. Here, in a Koch Industries corporate document, they say clean energy laws like AB32 will quote “be very bad news for our industry.”

Watch it:

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 11:18 am

A flip in perspective

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Conor Friedersdorf has an interesting post:

Is Imam Rauf of Park 51 "with us or against us" in the War on Terrorism? That’s the stark formulation used by many of his critics, who complain about his various shortcomings. Stephen Schwarz rounds up his most controversial statements in The Weekly Standard:

– On March 21, 2004, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that the U.S. and the West would have to recognize the damage they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end. The Australian daily reported “Imam Feisal said the West had to understand the terrorists’ point of view.” The paper also cited Rauf’s arguments that “the Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians . . . it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima.”

– On June 23, 2004, Rauf told Chris Hedges, then a writer for the New York Times, that, in Hedges’s words, “Islamic terrorists do not come from another moral universe–that they arise from oppressive societies that he feels Washington had a hand in creating.”

– On February 7, 2010, Rauf told the Egyptian daily Almasri Alyaum, “I have been saying since the 1967 war that if there is peace between Israel and Palestine, in time the Palestinians will prevail.”

Excluded from the article, but ubiquitous in public discourse, is his remark about US foreign policy being an accessory to the 9/11 attacks. These statements aren’t exhaustive, but I think it’s fair to say they’re a representative sampling of the utterances his detractors find objectionable. I have mixed feelings about Imam Rauf. In a debate, I’m certain he and I would forcefully disagree on some matters, and I’m sure I’d find some of his opinions wrongheaded and offensive. It is nevertheless noteworthy that these are the most damning things he’s said in public life, that his views about the complicity of US foreign policy in the 9/11 attacks are held by many Americans, including Ron Paul, and that he’s never said anything nearly so radical or violent as Ann Coulter’s post 9/11 remark that America should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.

Thus far I haven’t succeeded in convincing Imam Rauf’s detractors that they’re holding him to a higher standard than other Americans because he is Muslim, or that based on the evidence currently available, after intense public scrutiny, he is "on our side" in the War on Terrorism (if we must use the binary formulation).

Perhaps it’ll help my case to offer a flip in perspective. Take a look at an imagined conversation between two radical Islamists in Saudi Arabia who are having their own argument about whether Imam Rauf is with them or against them.

Jihadi 1: Maybe he is on our side. He does seem to sympathize with the Palestinians.

Jihadi 2: No more than lots of American liberals. Being pro-Palestine hardly makes him a soldier of Allah.

J1: He is also building a monument to Islam at Ground Zero.

J2: It’s two blocks away. And he has publicly promised that he is going to let Jews in.

J1: Really?

J2: Yes, he even reached out to two rabbis before announcing the project.

J1: Even so, he seems critical of America.

J2: Yes, he is mildly critical once every few years, when he’s not busy doing the bidding of their State Department, or helping to train their FBI agents.

J1: He cooperates with their FBI?

J2: He is very friendly with them. And he lets his wife go on television too. Without a burka or even a headscarf.

J1: I heard he attended a Hizb ut-Tahrir conference.

J2: It turns out that story is false. In fact, when radicals from the group confronted him, he defended the United States Constitution!

J1: Andy McCarthy thinks that he is a radical.

J2: You fool. Andy McCarthy also thinks that President Obama is allied with radical Islamists in a grand jihad against America.

J1: Seriously? That bastard Obama just killed an Al Qaeda cousin of mine with one of his drone strikes. At first I thought maybe he’s just trying to shore up his domestic political support, but then I realized that his administration is taking pains to keep most of them secret. Still, I hear than the mosque being built will signify the beginning of the United States of Arabia, and that it marks their surrender to us.

J2: That makes no sense. Their voters can’t even manage to pass gay marriage bans without them getting struck down and you believe people who say that they’re about to submit to sharia law? And how would the construction of a mosque even be a factor in transforming their legal system. I think you’re listening to too much of their talk radio.

Insofar as this conversation is unrealistic, it’s because every actual radical Islamist would know perfectly well that an imam who works with the FBI, tours on behalf of the State Department, denounces terrorism, defends the US constitution in an Arabic exchange with radicals from Hizb ut-Tahrir, has a good relationship with New York City rabbis, and preaches on behalf of women’s rights isn’t on their side. In fact, he is exactly the kind of imam that Islamist radicals target and kill when they dare to do these sorts of things in other countries.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2010 at 11:13 am

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