Saturday, January 29, 2005

Theo's movie... van Gone!!


Expressionist movie makers....not wanted!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Much of today's media around the world will be focused on the elections in Iraq. Major emphasis will be put on the violence that is almost certain to accompany it and the potential for low voter turnout.

There is another striking story though, one many of you know I have been following for some time. It is that of the brutal slaying of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh. (details of the slaying here and here)

It is being reported that the Rotterdam International Film Festival has canceled a screening of Submission Part One. Mr. van Gogh's film about a Muslim woman forced into a marriage with a man who beats here and who later is accused of adultery when her uncle rapes her. The producer of the film, Gijs van de Westelaken, said Thursday, "we do not want to take any chance of endangering anyone else who participated in the film."

So, this weekend much of the emphasis shall focus on the elections on Iraq. Something that in all reality should be cheered, considering the fact if there is just 10% voter turnout (let alone the 50%-80% some are projecting) under the threats of violence, decapitations, kidnappings etc., the men AND WOMEN of Iraq will be participating in a free democratic process. In reality though, a combination of anti-American anti-Bush jeering will take place. I have yet to hear a progressive define what a successful democratic process in Iraq would look like (come on guys just humor me). Yet progressives are so certain the election will be a debacle (as some close to me have labeled it).

All the while the fact that an existing, free democratic nation such as the Netherlands, is cancelling a film screening purely under the threat of potential Islamic fundamentalist dirven violence will be given barely a glance, barely a thought.




Posted by mightymerk, 6:53 AM | link | (4) comments |

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The 'real' deal on being 'ideal'-


Just why Isn't Democracy for everyone?, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Excellent article from the Wall Street Editorial Page.

Those who are skeptical of injecting issues of freedom, democracy and human rights into the conduct of foreign policy call themselves "realists," and they accuse their opposite numbers--the so-called idealists--of an almost juvenile enthusiasm. But a sober reading of the historical evidence shows that President Bush and his fellow idealists are more realistic than the "realists."


It was Henry Ford who said : "Whether you believe you can or can not do something, you are 100 percent right." In many cases I believe that some of the supposed 'realists' in the world take this too far to heart. Simply put they do not believe, and I believe mostly because they do not want to, that democracy could and should work for everyone. Like the concept of love itself, no matter who first articulated what it is like to be in 'love', it is something that should be shared with everyone. I believe LIBERTY is as a concept like Love. It is not just for 'us' or 'them', it is for everyone.

The skeptics continue to point to cultural differences to explain why democracy is absent from various non-Western states. But this is the true picture: In Latin America and the Caribbean, 32 out of 35 states have elected governments. In Asia and the Pacific, the ratio is 23 out of 39. In the states of the former Soviet Union and its satellites, 17 out of 27 are democratic. And in sub-Saharan Africa, 19 out of 48, or 40%, of the governments have been elected by their people, despite the familiar litany of disabilities: poverty, illiteracy, AIDS, tribalism and borders drawn artificially by former foreign rulers.


Now rational debate is certainly to be had regarding just how democracty would and should be introduced into a region. Must it be done at the end of a barrel of a gun? Must it come through revolution? Or can it come by more peaceful, but certainly outside influenced means, such as in the Ukraine?

To begin with, the idealists are right about the possibility for freedom and democracy to spread across borders and cultures. In 1775 there were no democracies. Then came the American Revolution and raised the number to one. Some 230 years later there are 117, accounting for 61% of the world's governments.

Time will tell if people of the world will fully embrace democracy. I have little doubt they would especially when reading such things as Iranian youth cheering George Bush's speech. I do question whether those cheers will turn to jeers if the going gets rough. Does America have the constitution to keep up with such a policy? Does America's current future allies?

Hat tip for article to Doug Ross

Posted by mightymerk, 3:37 AM | link | (6) comments |

Sunday, January 23, 2005

....and then depression sets in

I know I will take some chances with a post like this...I will try not to over genralize...but here goes.

Bush's inauguration took place on Thursday. I was in Köln, Germany at the time. I sat with my German friend for the full length of the festivities. The days prior I felt the tension in the air. The BBC was regularly reporting on the upcoming event and so was CNN. The German media outlets spent a great deal of time on this as well. For those American who do not travel often, you would be quite surprised with how much time European news is dedicated to American issues (especially political). I can easily say that 50% (give or take 10%) of the German news on Tuesday and Wednesday was dedicated to the inauguration. All three of my media sources listed above focused time on 'real' dialogue concerning the direction the next 4 years of Bush's administration will take America and by default the world. Unfortunately on the silly side of things, so much time was dedicated to talking about the cost, even the need of such an event. I can't stand it when rational debate ends and the nit-picking begins.

Now like most rational people around the world, no matter what political inclination, I did like the 'thought' behind President Bush's speech, but I will not be convinced by words alone. I too wonder just how President Bush plans to bring democracy to those suffering at the hands of oppressive regimes. Will it come at the barrel of a gun? Through increased diplomacy? Through geo-political subversion etc? How patient/committed will we be in this enterprise? At the same time how will President Bush handle traditional U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia? Turkey? China (more or less)?

One thing is for sure. Unlike Bill Clintion, whose second term minus the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent Milosevic entaglement, were schedule to pass most quietlly, Bush's second term will by anything but 'lame duck' governing. Bush has an agenda he set...he must make good on it. His performance now will influence American Policy for the next 25-50 years.

Oh the controversial part to this post, I almost forgot.

Reports of More Post-Election Depression
I am so thankful to have balanced, even handed and rational liberal friends who did not lose their minds, nor their principles, after the election. Amazing how despite the passions against Bill Clinton how you did not hear anything quite like this from the Conservative side after either of President Clintion's victories. I originally thought about being a little more mean spirited with this post...but I am not a mean person. I will just leave it as is.

Posted by mightymerk, 10:42 AM | link | (1) comments |

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Planes, trains and autobahns....

<> I have a one week business trip to Germany. The land of Beethoven, Kraftwerk, Beer, Wurst, ICE Trains and the famous Autobahn.

I will be visiting Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne.
As the title of this post indicates, other than boat, I will be using the very best of what German transportation has to offer. Yes the 300kph ICE ride from Frankfurt to Cologne will be nice (cuting a 3 hour drive by car, to a 52 minute train ride), but it will be my third go at the Autobahn which will be the personal 'rush' for me this trip. I hope to drive 200kph for at least 10 minutes. For Americans like me, going 140 kph is something special (and illegal).

A post during this time is possible, but my apologies in advance if I am unable to find the time/energy.

Prost!
Posted by mightymerk, 6:15 AM | link | (1) comments |

Monday, January 10, 2005

Intellectual double-speak

Besides the terrible Tsunami disaster, the second biggest headline of the main stream media the past few days has been centered on the hearings for Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales. Alberto Gonzales is at the very least, being accused of being wishy-washy, but in some cases more seriously being accused of aiding/promoting human rights violations at Abu Ghraib.

There is a debate here whether you want to believe it or not.
Recently Sen. Arlen Specter posed this question to three witnesses at the hearings, all of whom consider Alberto Gonzales dangerous: "Are consideration for those tactics ever justifiable, even in teh face of a ticking-bomb threat?"


The three witnesses were:

* Harold Hongju Koh, dean of the Yale Law School, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor from 1998 to 2001.

* Retired Admiral John D. Hutson, one of 12 high-ranking retired officers who signed a letter sent Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee to express "deep concern" about the role Gonzales played in crafting administration policy on questioning detainees.

* Douglas Johnson, executive director of the Center For Victims of Torture in Minneapolis.

Let's review the ticking-bomb scenario. A terrorist is captured who knows the whereabouts of a ticking bomb that could kill thousands of Americans (or anyone for that matter). Would torturing him be permissible to prevent a catastrophe?

So what did our cast of three intellectuals have to say? Check it out...


Harold Koh -
"I think that my approach would be to keep the flat ban, and if someone - the president of the United States - had to make a decision like that, someone would have to decide whether to prosecute him or not."

John Hutson (a retired navy judge) -
"I agree with, uh, with Dean Koh that it is always illegal. Now, you may decide that you are going to take the illegal action, ummm, because you have to."

Doug Johnson -
"I think that it's very overblown in our imaginations, and - and it's very ripe with what I would...could only call fantasy and mythology."


My response to all three (rather loudly is) - Huh?

So if I can understand this (step in anytime with help folks) the idea is to make it illegal, but do it when you have to, but make sure you prosecute the person who did the torturing afterwards. Or is it a problem that will never exists, therefore no answer is needed?

Let me thank all three gentlemen for providing NOTHING of substance to that question. A very important question that these three intellectuals could not answer.

Now I leave it to those of you in Blogger Land. What are your thoughts on this moral question. Is torture ever permissible? Even in the case of a ticking-bomb scenario?




Posted by mightymerk, 7:49 PM | link | (5) comments |

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Pop Culture Review by mightymerk!


Wow, how very not creative., originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Folks,

I have sold out. Readers of the mighytblogs will now have to pay 5 cents for every word they read. This includes the 24 words you have just read (prior to the word, "words"). Boy I will make a kiling!!

Actually, I just wanted to introduce you to a new member of the mighty blogs family. Pop Culture Review, which can be found at www.mightypop.blogspot.com

It basically serves as the mostly unintelligible and meaningless opinions I have on pop culture items around the world.

Contrary to popular opinion, my life is not all about politics, history books and business. I watch TV on occassion and watch a movie or two. Most of my praise will be self serving and my criticism based on jealousy (the fact that I slave for corporate America, yet Kelly Osbourne is somehow famous). In the end I do hope I can create create some laughter, for the clown who is certainly crying on the inside.

Pop goes the Weasel!!

Posted by mightymerk, 2:45 PM | link | (0) comments |

Friday, January 07, 2005

Some things to smile about...

For clear reasons, the news has been less then uplifting as of late. With that said there are still a lot of reasons to have hope and things to smile about...


Afghanistan to send doctors to disaster zone
-
“We have our own problems, but we are part of the family of nations,” said ministry spokesman Gen Zaher Mohammed Azimi. “The people of Afghanistan are saddened by this disaster.”


HK prisoners donate to help tsunami survivors
-
More than 760 prisoners in the high-security Stanley Prison, where some of the city's most hardened criminals are locked up, have donated HK$141,788 (US$18,178) after learning of the Dec. 26 catastrophe.


Australia has become the biggest single donor to the tsunami relief effort, with the Prime Minister announcing a $1-billion aid package to help Indonesia rebuild over the next five years.

200 years ago, 100 years ago, even 50 years ago would the world governments have been so generous to one another?

Of course nothing 'makes up' for the loss of life and sorrow. It's just that as complicated and seemingly cruel our world has become (or at least seem to be come), it seems ironic that the world can become so united over such a disaster. Ironic in the fact that only man made disasters are the exception to this new found stewardship.


Posted by mightymerk, 1:46 AM | link | (2) comments |

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Mexico's Self Help Guide



Let me be very clear about something. I believe in American Immigration. Simply put America would not be anywhere near the great nation it is without its immigrant population. I am myself the son of an immigrant.

With that said this is very disturbing news.

It seems that the Mexican Foreign Ministry has produced a pamphlet providing advice to migrants illegally crossing the U.S. border.

George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary, said the guide sends a message that the Mexican government endorses illegal immigration.

"It is a wink and a nod to illegal immigrants," Grayson said. "How would they feel if the Guatemalans published a guide on how to get into Mexico?"


The primary duty of our government (or any) is to protect the citizens and the sovereignty of our nation. I have yet to hear any type of argument that can rationalize how the open border situation we have with Mexico is in accordance with this fundamental responsiblity of our government. The government of Mexico also fails in that this does nothing to protect these migrant workers once they have crossed the border and is a slap in the face to the U.S. citizens, by promoting such illegal activiy.

My own mother went through the process of legally entering the United States(and even later decided to become an American citizen). The mostly very hard working, spiritual and lively folk that the Mexican immigrant population are should be encouraged to do the same. Why not enjoy the benefits and protection that only a documented worker/immmigrant is assured? Further, when will we as a people start holding U.S. corporations, local business owners and politicians accountable for equally enabling (on many counts) this process? I for one would be reasonable enough to offer, for one final time amnesty to those illegal immigrants actively employed in the U.S., but everything going forward must be done to the law of the land.

To the Mexican government and American corporations, shame on you for being so selfish. To the American government, shame on you for not caring about your CITIZENS enough.
Posted by mightymerk, 7:29 PM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, January 02, 2005

2004 - So much for "Progressive" Predictions!

The "Progressives" talk of the commonality of man, increased human rights,women's right advocacy etc. is all fine by me. It's the Progressive Bodies,Institutions and Groups that I have a beef with. Simply put, they fail to deliver, and they are quite good at stopping the before mentioned advancesments of a people when it is not done in their name? Is this done by design? I would certainly guess that the grass roots people of these progressive groups would not be part of such a thing, but what about the institutions themselves?

Tell me what freedoms have ever been brought to a people through the actions of a progressive organization? Sending millions if not billions of dollars amongst a maze of channels does not count if people are still sufferingor not cured of their ills (let alone at least headed in the right directions).

Once again the majority of predictions spouted by so called progressives have proven to be mostly if not completely lame (for lack of a better word).

Some predictions of note:

There has not been a "silent genocide" in Afghanistan, as Noam Chomsky observed. Rather, despite the predictions that it couldn't and wouldn't happen, a democratic electiontook place and given the large voter turnout (especially amongst women) it very much seem as if the people of Afghanistan do care about elections. The people ignored all of the dangers and turned out in millions. Now an elected President, versus a tribal warlord, governs the land.

In fact positive democratic electoral results around the world have been positive (despite the ever negative progressive's predictions). The fear that Indonesia and Malaysiamight choose fundamentalist roots at their elections proved to be false. In both elections in these Muslim states, parties seeking to wield Islam as a weapon were soundly defeated.

Why is it that the Progessives Media Outlets payed little if any attention to the elections in reform-minded Romania or Mozambique? Both cases would indicate that Democracy is not just for the West.

Austalia's reelction of Prime Minister John Howard (a current supporterof the U.S. administration) surprised many progressives (given a majorityof Australia's polled do not support the War in Iraq), but it was a proved to be a strong sign of things to come in the American election. Another triumph for Democracy, but certainly not worthy of progressive praise.

Even when we (the Average American) believe a wrong choice has been made(take Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez), the people and democracy spokeand the results were respected.

I am thankful to have many friends who define themselves as Liberal,Progressive, or Progressive Liberals. Truth be told our thoughts, wants and actions are fairly consistent. I certainly do not question their values,but I still find myself questioning their loyalties to the progressive institutions that seem to care nothing for democracy in as much as they care to always see America as the bad guy.

The same progessive groups that take no interest in Saddam's mass graves,or ongoing acts of barbarism, but focus purely on making sure Saddam receives a fair trial. They saw now value in elections in Afghanistan but only agonized over the treatment of enemy prisoners at Guantanamo. Given the very elections in their own home country, they saw the electoral process as being one 'stumped'by racists, homophobic, hillbilly Christians.

The American election itself might stand as the single greatest example to refute 'progressive' thought. It may be the very reason that progressive institutions do not like democracy. American people turned out in record numbers (both in favor and opposition to the current administration). Despite everything George Soros and Michael Moore would have one believe, the store clerk wielded the same power as the MIT professor. The impovershed singl emother had the same authority as the rich banker, and yes the Christian minister had the same impact as the atheist. Americans chose to re-elect President Bush, a man they viewed most wanting, but more imporantly most capable and willing to respect their faith, respect their value of freedom, and willing to fight for it. He also believes that America is a force for good.



Elections will take place in Iraq. No, not everyone will participate(nor do they in any country), but millions will. Terrorist and Insurgents will do all they can to disrupt the elections. They have already begun hunting down volunteer election workers and murdering them. Make no mistake about it. They hunt these people down not because of anything they have done wrong,but because of the very good that their actions as volunteers will bring to the people of Iraq (a democratic election). The results of the elections though are far from certain. There is a very real possibility that the elected officials chosen in Iraq may come to odds with America's wishes (now and in the future). The results though will be respected. As Ralph Peters soeloquently said:
"We must respect their choice. building global democracy isn't about short-term gratification for American presidential administrations. Republican or Democrat. It's about freedom, with all of its risks, errors and ultimate glory."

By no means is the current administration or the President for that matter perfect, or has been absolute in its cause. Despite sometimes obvious failings in the operational side of things in some cases, the general general direction and actions we are taking I do support. That is exactly why I voted for President Bush, and not because John Kerry's election would mean certain doom for the nation or the world.

Again I put the challenge out there for my progressive friends though.You do not like what the current administration, or in some cases what America as a whole is doing to solve matters, fair enough. What is the progressive solution? How would this be accomplished? Suppose their is international opposition? Did Kerry support such a solution? I believe Kerry lost because there was no real answer to this. A majority of people simply could not vote 'against' someone. They had to vote for the person whos message they truly believed in. Did Kerry really represent the progressive cause? Does anyone? Does anyone who is also electable?

Again, Democracy proved to be too much of a powerful force to be limited to the "doom and gloom" predictions of the progressive parties. 2005 maybe a lot more of the same. I am thankful though that a great many people,who choose to label themselves as progressives, are decent people and will accept and recognize the will of the people worldwide.



Posted by mightymerk, 2:31 PM | link | (0) comments |