Shooting the Messenger

Responding to my earlier post on King-of-the-World Bush’s sociopathic tendencies (not my words, mind you), Conrad over at The Gweilo Diaries seems to protest too much.

Conrad writes, “Richard the Peking Duck, diagnoses that serious disorder [Bush's malapropisms] as a sociopathic personality and inability to feel empathy.” And you say you’re a lawyer?! Go back and you’ll see that I never made any claims at all. I merely quoted from an article I encountered as I sought to bring light and knowledge into the minds of my readers. (All four of them.)

Later Conrad redeems himself and gets it right on target: “I offer a diagnoses [sic] and prescription of my own to my good friend Richard — you appear a bit overwrought. Relax. Have a drink, have several, have several more. Then go get laid.” Trust me, living in China is not a relaxing experience, and this past week may have been the most un-relaxed of my past 7 months here. As for getting laid, forget it — there’s nothing about getting laid in my job contract, and all I ever do in China is work. More on this later; I have to get back to work.

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2-minute vent

[Looking back at the paragraphs I just wrote below, I realize I run the risk of sounding preachy and self-righteous and biased. Well, no one's perfect.]

Precious few things in life get me more apoplectic than the crucifixion of our last publicly elected president. For all his moral frailties, Bill Clinton certainly emerged from “the scandal” as a nobler man than the mad dogs chasing him. And still they chase. Watching what the media do to him daily makes me literally sick. He caused 911. He appeased Saddam Hussein and forced us to invade. He appeased Castro (by letting a little boy return to his father). He set us up for recession. If you can think of a problem, of something wrong, someone out there is blaming Bill Clinton for it.

This is a phenomenon I have wondered about for years and years. The sheer audacity of the Clinton bashers, the breathtaking heights of hypocrisy that they reach — isn’t anyone going to call them to task for it? Am I the only one whom it makes sick?

Apparently I’m not. Leave it to the smartest blogger alive to delve into these issues with a meticulous and merciless precision, shattering myths and holding up a well-lighted mirror to the sins of those who would stop at nothing to smear the president’s name. These are the men who are in power right now, and it scares me to watch them steer America ever rightward under the cloak of “patriotism.”

I know, I’m being redundant, but Orcinus’ surgical approach to exposing the hypocrisies of the right should be required reading. (Sorry if I so often sound like a paid advertisement, but his herculean research and brilliant conclusions on the Patriot movement and its broader, darker implications simply boggle the mind. Thanks.)

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Clinical tests prove Bush is no moron

Absolutely intriguing little article asserting that our dear leader’s proclivity toward garbling his speech and mangling his metaphors is nothing to laugh about.

“He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he’s speaking punitively, when he’s talking about violence, when he’s talking about revenge. When he struts and thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine,” says Mark Crispin Miller, author of Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder. “It’s only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes.”

Miller concludes, “Bush is not an imbecile. He’s not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he’s incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he’s a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss.”

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That was so funny I forgot to….

I was out of commission all last week and this may have been commented on elsewhere, but it sure caught my eye just now. Apparently a peace protester in San Francisco fell to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge last week. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto tells it to us:

No Waaaaaaaaaaaa!
“A man protesting the looming U.S. war on Iraq fell to his death from San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge on Wednesday as he was hanging a banner,” Reuters reports.

Isn’t that the funniest thing ever? Now, it’s okay to disagree with people, but is it okay for Taranto to joke about someone’s death as he does here? (Even if the protester was being a dumbass.) This gets scarier the more I think about it. This attitude, this mindset that if a person is dumb enough to be a peace protester it serves him right to die and we can all laugh about it — I don’t know, but it seems to tie in with Orcinus’ recent warnings of a new tide of fascism, “one predicated on a coalescence of corporatist power with proto-fascist thuggery.” Here we have a mainstream business newspaper adopting a classic thuggish attitude toward a young man’s death in a manner that brings to mind Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer, which mocked the Jews in the most obscene and lurid manner. And I don’t think I am being an alarmist. Just think about it. And if you haven’t seen it already, go and read section 12 of Orcinus’ analysis of this very topic. He is not that far off the mark. Small but telling items like this convince me more than ever that he is right on target.

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MSNBC reaps what it hath sown

This is from the email newsletter of PRWeek, my industry trade rag. Nice to see that Mike Savage is causing MSNBC the headaches it so richly deserves:

New comms VP at MSNBC hit with ad boycott, war in Iraq
Matthew Creamer

PRWeek US
Secaucus, NJ: It’s been a baptism by fire for MSNBC’s new VP of communications Jeremy Gaines.

In less than two weeks on the job, Gaines has already dealt with the accidental airing of commercials by major sponsors despite their announced ad boycott of a controversial new show, not to mention preparations for covering the war in Iraq.

“Having spent five years here and knowing the institution and its players enables me to hit the ground running,” said Gaines, who was most recently director of strategic development.

With new programming on the horizon, he expects the challenges to last beyond the war. MSNBC caused a media ruckus recently when it announced that Jesse Ventura would host a talk show, and that it had fired liberal host Phil Donahue. Furthermore, The Savage Nation, hosted by shock jock Michael Savage, is facing protests by gay and lesbian groups, and advertising boycotts by Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble.

According to Gaines, these high-profile moves don’t mean a makeover for the network.

“We have a history of having a lot of different voices on the air,” he said. “I don’t see this as a drastic change.”

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Required reading

I stumbled onto a superb article on the handbook behind Al Qaeda, one of the few pieces I’ve read that really provides some context to the phenomenon and helps ignorant Westerners like me understand what goes on in the mind of the Islamic fundamentalist. Definitely a must-read.

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Love duet

Just go and watch this little video. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

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The fate of the Arabs

A friend emailed me an interesting article from a Middle East Web site warning that this war will have far greater-reaching consequences than most Arabs realize, and ends with a plea to all Arab citizens:

We must focus on the first step in an ill person��s march toward recovery, health and growth: honest and dispassionate diagnosis of the underlying problem. Why are we so passive in the face of repeated external reshaping of our world? We must answer that question in order to have a chance of devising strategies to cure the problem, and take control of our lives

I scribbled the following reply to my friend, that helped clarify (for myself) why for at least a short time I saw justification for this invasion, despite my despair at Bush’s clumsiness along the way:

“The point, to me, is that as long as the Arabs wrap themselves in the cloth of fundamentalist Islam, as have the Iranians and the Saudis and al Qaeda and the Yemenis and the Pakistanis and so many others, they will be stuck in the quicksand of endless cycles of violence, endless calls to die for Allah while at the same time treating women like cattle, rejecting anything that indicates “progress” (which to the fundamentalist is threatening and evil), and even, at times, committing acts of unspeakable barbarism. That is at the heart of the reporter’s questions and pleas, at least from my perspective. Only after they shake off the shackles of Dark Ages-style closed-mindedness and intolerance, only then will there be hope of the Arabs even beginning to catch up with the civilized world. That is why I have favored this invasion, even if its cause was atrociously presented to the world. This really could be the beginning of a flicker of hope for the world’s darkest region — even though Iraq may not fall into the same category as Saudi Arabia and Iran in terms of Islamic fundamentalism. The hope is that the story of how much better life can be when the oppressions of a brutal regime are lifted will be transmitted to its neighbors. The Arabs this reporter is talking to must see what can happen, what they can achieve, once they have liberty restored. As I read those words, they do sound kind of dreamy, but already I am hearing of Iraqis tearing down the posters of Saddam and dancing in the streets.”

Let’s hope there’s some grounds for optimism.

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The war through Chinese eyes

It’s kind of surreal, watching the Chinese news station and then visiting the news sites on the Internet as they cover the war on Iraq. There has not been a single piece on CCTV, not one, that hasn’t begun with language similar to, “The US-led war on Iraq, which is certain to create a humanitarian tragedy….” or “As protesters around the world demonstrate against the US-led attack….” Everything is sharply, embarrassingly slanted against the USA. I watched news coverage this morning as they went from story to story on Iraq, each one replete with quotes from ant-US loudmouths. They interviewed peace protesters in New York and San Francisco, Chinese governmental officials pleading that it is “not too late to stop fighting and seek a political solution,” economists prophesying the havoc this war will wreak on the world economy, one after another after another, not a single voice, not one, telling the other side of the story.

Of course, I have no right to be surprised. This is, after all, a government-controlled media. I guess I’m not surprised, but more insulted. After all, this blatantly mangled and falsified news is an affront to the intelligence of anyone with half a brain. This is the channel that is watched mainly by expats here. Does the government think we are all retarded? Can it possibly be fooling anyone but itself?

I really wish I could convey in words what I am seeing on the television today. The phony “debates” where everyone agrees and there is no argument; the hammering away at tired phrases (“the inspections were making progress”); the assumptions of mass killings of “innocent civilians”; the evil of “defying international laws” and “ignoring the rights of a sovereign nation.” Never once, in this conversation that is so concerned with “humanitarian” issues, never once have I heard mention of the inhumanities of Saddam’s regime or the plight of most Iraqi citizens under one of the world’s most oppressive totalitarian dictatorships. Nothing about the games Saddam has played cynically for 12 years to block weapons inspections. Nothing about Saddam’s bloodthirsty history.

I’ve always laughed at the rosy picture the media here always paint when it comes to China’s economy, and my colleagues assure me no one takes them seriously. Today it’s different. It’s one thing to exaggerate, but what I’m seeing today is something worse, something much uglier. It’s depressing.

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Hibernation Ends

After a full week of silence, I am going to try to pick up where I left off. The past ten days have been literally the busiest of my entire working life, and then on Wednesday I got the flu, which I’m still trying to shake. A lot has happened over the past few days, even a war, if I heard it right. Commentary to follow.

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