John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

John Wayne's Holster: August 2006
John Wayne's Holster
Visit my main blog at Monkey Wrench Revival. Visit my birdwatching blog at The Birding Nerd.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Israel Beefs Up for Inevitable(?) Battle With Iran

Dolphin Class Submarine

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made no bones about his desire to have Israel “wiped off the map." Iran is also continuing its plans to enrich uranium which they claim is for peaceful purposes.

[My inner monologue] Let me see. Iran is sitting on top of huge sea of oil. Yet they claim to need uranium for energy production.

OK. Sure. If you guys say so.

In reality, Iran has no intention of enriching uranium for energy production. Everyone knows it is for building atomic weapons. They are asking for all sorts of concessions – just like Kim Jong-il did – before they agree to stop. But they are just stalling for time. They have no plans to halt their uranium production until they have the nuclear weapons they need to make them a legit player in Middle East politics.

Not to mention that they would love to drop a few nukes on Israel.

So what should Israel do?

Israel should not – and will not – sit idly to wait and see what happens. They must make preparations to defend themselves against a dangerous and unpredictable enemy who is hell-bent on destroying them. And that defensive strategy may very well include a preemptive first strike. I mean, who in their right mind is going to keep their hands at their side when they know a 2-by-4 to the head is coming their way? The best strategy is not to wait, but rather to strike first!

As such, Israel is preparing for what appears to be an inevitable clash with Iran. Sure, diplomacy is still on the table, but to be honest, it doesn't appear to be very promising. The U.N. Security Council has set August 31 as the deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment. If Iran refuses, which they most likely will, then economic sanctions may be leveled against her. But at this point, it appears that the threat of sanctions will not materialize, as Russia has stated she will not support such a resolution. I don’t suppose that fact that Russia currently sells weapons and defense systems to Iran has anything to do with their position.

The next few days may very well determine how the Iran situation plays out. But because of the unpredictability of Iran's radical leadership, Israel must remain on the defensive. To that end, Israel is in the process of creating a new command to deal exclusively with Iran. In addition, Israel recently purchased a number of so-called “bunker buster” bombs from the United States, and two nuclear-capable submarines from Germany. This is in addition to the three (or more) nuclear subs that are presently in Israel’s fleet. Let’s not forget that Israel already has the sixth-largest stockpile nuclear arms.

If diplomacy and/or sanctions do not prove successful, expect a war with Iran. Israel will be involved. And so will the United States. Perhaps others.

Unfortunately, the Iranian people stand to be the most severly affected if a war breaks out. Iran's radical leadership doesn't seem to realize what it is up against. If Israel is attacked, she will respond like a wild dog unleashed. She will be a force to be reckoned with. And Israel will undoubtedly have the support of the United States - either directly or as a military advisor and weapons supplier. It's a battle that Iran can not afford to fight. But that may not factor into the decision of the Iranian "leadership", as President Ahmadinejad has stated that he is willing to sacrifice "half of Iran" to accomplish his goal of wiping out Israel.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Darwin and Hitler: Soulmates?


Christian Fundamentalists are in an ideological battle with science over Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Thus far, the fundies have not succeeded in getting Darwin tossed and creationism placed into the science curriculum of our public schools.

Unable to defeat the message, they have decided to go after the messenger. The fundies have taken a page right out of the politicians playbook! In this case, they have started a smear campaign to attack a man who has been dead for almost 125 years. Of course, we are talking about Charles Darwin.

Darwin’s 1859 publication, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”, revolutionized the way people thought about how man came to be.

Prior to 1859, the biblical version of creation wherein man was created in the image of God held favor. With the publication of Darwin’s theory, many began to question to factual nature of the biblical account.

Now, the Christian fundamentalists have launched a media campaign designed to discredit Darwin and, by proxy, his theory of evolution. The shots are coming from all directions. Ann Coulter has taken a few shots, both in her book Godless and her syndicated column. Not to be outdone, other authors and filmmakers have also chimed in. In thier books and made-for-TV documentaries, they have gone as far as saying that Charles Darwin should share the blame with Hitler and the Nazi’s for the millions murdered in the Holocaust.

In addition to the Holocaust, Darwin is also being blamed for the rise in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, eugenics, and even the Columbine massacre.

Now that’s a smear campaign if I ever saw one!

Darwin was a naturalist who developed a theory to describe what he and many others saw in the natural world. He was not a politician and certainly not a genocidal megalomaniac. While Hitler may used the underpinnings of Darwinism to provide the foundation for the ideas laid out in Mein Kampf, that does not prescribe culpability to Darwin for the Holocaust. Using that logic, one would be forced to conclude that God himelf, being the inpiratation for the Bible, is responsible for all the evils carried out in His name.

This whole campaign to demonize Darwin is absolutely ridiculous! Both the fundamentalist Christians and intransigent zealots that pose as scientists must share the blame for this. In their stubbornness and close-mindedness, they have failed to see evolutionary theory for what it is. As such, they have made this battle an all-or-nothing affair.

In reality, there in nothing about evolution that is incompatible with the biblical version of creation. All that is required to synchronize the two accounts is accept that evolution may be the means by which God created man.As Cardinal John Henry Newman said in 1868, “the theory of Darwin...may simply be suggesting a larger idea of divine providence and skill.”

Well, if that’s the case, then why doesn’t Darwin’s theory address God?

To put it simply, God is not a measurable entity and therefore is not a suitable subject for scientific analysis. As Francis Collins of the Human Genome Institute states, “Science investigates the natural world….But if God exists, God must be outside the natural world and so science really is silent in terms of answering that question.

As such, scientists who cite Darwin as evidence that God does not exist are really extending themselves beyond their area of expertise. Making such statements suggests that they don’t really understand the limitations of the scientific method. To put in bluntly, the scientists don’t know what they are talking about.

Likewise, fundamentalist Christians who cite allegorical scriptures as fact - scriptures that were largely handed down as traditional folk stories (for God knows how long) prior to be put down as the written word - are equally as ignorant.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Women Must Be Submissive and Silent

Dismissed Sunday School Teacher, Mary Lambert

1 Timothy 2:11-14 "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."

Citing the first epistle of Timothy, The First Baptist Church of Watertown New York dismissed 81 year old Mary Lambert from her position as Sunday school teacher. She had taught there for 54 years.

According to a statement issued by the church’s Diaconate Board, "…the Board's decision to remove [Lambert] from a teaching position was multifaceted and the scriptural rules concerning women teaching men in a church setting was only a small aspect of that decision." The statement continues, "Christian courtesy motivates us to refrain from making any public accusations against her."

When asked by a local reporter what the other “facets” of the church’s decision were, Pastor Timothy LaBouf would not reveal any details, but he did acknowlege that there has been a split within the church.

Okay, so it seems that there is a power struggle or a battle over what path the church should take in the future. Rather than settle the issue like a grown-ups, LaBouf and the church board have decided to be spiteful and take punitive actions against a woman who has given her life to her church.

Doesn’t sound very Christian-like to me!

I, for one, am a little skeptical of the pators’ forthrightness. Why was Lambert’s gender not an issue for the previous 54 years – but suddenly it is now? And in what appears to be a contradictory statement, LaBouf maintains that the fact that Lambert was a woman was only a “small aspect” of the decision to remove her. Well if that is the case, then why even bring it up? Surely the pastor must have known he would be igniting a firestorm.

Sounds to me like LaBouf is cowardly hiding behind the scriptures. He is using them as a substitute for an apparent testosterone deficiency. If the Diaconate Board has a serious disagreement with Ms. Lambert as to how the church is to be run, then let them come forward and say so. If the differences are serious enough to make Lambert unsuitable as a teacher or warrant her removal from the church, then let them do so on those grounds. Don’t issue some medieval or patriarchal statement that women should be “silent and submissive” and “not worthy of having authority over a man”.

Are we still living in the Dark Ages?

I guess I just don’t see what advantage having male genitals gives men when it comes to proclaiming God’s word. It certainly does not make them smarter. The Old Testament has plenty of female prophets, and Jesus included women among his disciples. Perhaps LaBouf should go back and read Genesis 1: 27, “So God created man in his own image…male and female he created them.”.

Maybe LaBouf can answer this question for me. Is one part of God’s image inferior to the other?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hydrogen Cars – Betting on a Three-legged Horse?

General Motors Hydrogen-Fueled Sequel

Many automakers are currently testing some version of a hydrogen fuel cell automobile, mostly due to funding support from President Bush’s $1.2 billion hydrogen initiative which he announced in his 2003 State of the Union address. General Motors recently announced that it has a “drivable version” of its Hydrogen-Fueled concept car – The Sequel.

The hydrogen fuel cell technology is attractive to consumers and the environmentally conscious due to its sustainability and its near zero level of hydrocarbon emissions (it emits water vapor). But hydrogen fuel cells are not without their problems – the major ones being their “high cost, relatively short range (approx. 300 miles) and a lack of fueling stations”.

There is also competition from ethanol – the so-called E85 fuel. E85 fuel is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. While not as clean as the hydrogen fuel cells, it does reduce emissions by about 80%. E85 also has a lot of other advantages in its favor that make it the more likely choice as the fuel source to eliminate our dependence on addiction to oil.

The major advantage is that the conversion from gasoline to E85 can be done much easier than the conversion to a completely different fuel source. Switching to hydrogen cars would require a total revamping of production and distribution systems, major renovations of every gas station in the country, and the design and production of new cars. We are talking about a multi-trillion dollar impact on the economy!

Switching to E85 would not be nearly as painful. Most of today’s gas stations will be able to handle E85 with minimal retrofitting. And auto makers can tweak their current car designs to adapt them to E85 at a cost that will add only $200.00 to the car’s retail price. And like hydrogen fuel cells, ethanol is sustainable.

But its production is not without problems. This is the one hurdle that the E85 proponents must overcome.

Most of the fuel ethanol currently produced comes from corn or sugar cane. This has raised some ethical concerns as it is cutting into a food resource. According to Fortune Magazine, “the grain required to fill a 25-gallon…gas tank with ethanol…could feed one person for a year. If today's entire U.S. grain harvest were converted into fuel for cars, it would still satisfy less than one-sixth of U.S. demand.”.

That’s a lot of potential food that could go a long way in feeding a hungry world! And it doesn't come close to meeting demand or curbing our consumption of oil.

Moreover, because lots of corn and sugar cane have been used for ethanol production, it has decreased the amount available for food. This in turn has caused the commodity prices of those crops to rise. For the poor, rising commodity prices could translate into malnutrition or starvation.

Fortunately, there is some good news. Ethanol can now be made from a variety of sources, such as prairie swithcgrass, corn husks and tillers, wood chips, and even manure.

There is also another problem with E85. “Big Oil” is not that interested in it. And they more or less run the gas stations. So if they don’t market and distribute it, there will not be many places for consumers to conveniently obtain it.

Like nature, the marketplace abhors a vacuum. If there is money to be made, someone will step up to the plate. And that “someone” might just be Wal-Mart. And if the price of oil continues to rise, that will certainly compel consumers to look for more affordable alternatives.

Alternatives like ethanol!

More On the Cease-Fire

Israel won!
Israel lost!
Hezbollah has been dealt a major set-back!
Hezbollah is more powerful now that before!

Actually, all this conjecture is premature. The war is not over. The cease-fire will be short lived.

For the cease-fire to last, Hezbollah must disarm. They won't! And Lebanon said they won't force them to. Israel will not accept those terms - and they have stated such!

Now a so-called "peace-keeping" force has moved into Lebanon. And at least seven countries have committed troops to Lebanon.

This could play right into the hands Israel and the US. If they had tried to build a coalition before the war to help oust Hezbollah, they would have gotten few or no takers. Now, under the guise of keeping the peace, they have seven nations on board. These nations will, in effect, maintain a buffer zone for Israel to the north. This will allow Israel to focus on the region around the Golan Heights and Syria - the next theater in the war.

I won't be suprised if fighting in the region breaks out again before the end of the year. Iran might even get in the mix if the IAF or the US decide to take out some of the nuclear capabilities.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Long Live the King!

Rock Idol Elvis Presley Dies at 42

By Larry Rohter and Tom Zito
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 17, 1977
(© 1977 The Washington Post Co.)

Elvis Presley, who revolutionized American popular music with his earthy singing style and became a hero to two generations of rock 'n' roll fans, died yesterday in Memphis, Tenn. He was 42.

Shelby County Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco said last night an autopsy indicated Presley died of "cardiac arrhythmia," which he described as a "severely irregular heartbeat" and "just another name for a form of heart attack." He said the three-hour autopsy uncovered no sign of any other diseases -- though Presley had in recent years been treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital for hypertension, pneumonia and an enlarged colon -- and there was no sign of any drug abuse.

Presley’s body was discovered at 2:30 p.m. Memphis time by his road manager, Jerry Esposito, in a bathroom in the singer’s multimillion-dollar Graceland Mansion. He was rushed to the Baptist Memorial, where he was met by his personal physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, and pronounced dead.

Read the rest of the article HERE

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cease Fire! – For Now

Both Israel and Hezbollah have accepted the terms of a cease-fire.

And both sides are claiming victory!

Both are partially correct.

Hezbollah is claiming a "strategic, historic victory". Israel’s goals were to eliminate Hezbollah's ability to strike her and to remove Hezbollah from power. Neither goal was accomplished. The fact that Hezbollah is still in power in Lebanon and can still target Israel with its missiles is a victory in and of itself.

Israel on the other hand, has destroyed much – but certainly not all – of Hezbollah’s infrastructure in the south. And Israel still occupies much of southern Lebanon. Although she has not completely accomplished her goals (see above), Isreal has made significant progress and has by no means lost the battle. And the fact that a UN "peace-keeping" force will be assisting the Lebanese in regaining control of the south – assuming it is successful – is a big feather in Israel’s cap.

So now there is a cease fire. But how long will it last?

Probably not for long!

Israel still maintains a presence in southern Lebanon and has no immediate plans for leaving so long as Hezbollah is perceived as a threat. In an address to the Knesset today, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to “…pursue [Hezbollah] everywhere and at all times…”.

That doesn't sound like a recipe for peace.

Where does Hezbollah stand on the cease-fire? Yesterday, the spokeman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Hamida-Reza Asefi, stated that attacks on Israel would continue as long as "occupation lingers". According to Hezbollah council member Ahmed Barakat, Hezb still possesses thousands of rockets and other "surprises" for use in the days following the implementation of the UN cease-fire.

Taken together, the positions maintained by both Israel and Hezbollah do not exactly evoke images of white doves and olive branches. Its more like two fighters going to their corners between rounds.

Here at home, President Bush is declaring victory for Israel. According to Bush, “There's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon”.

Perhaps. But I wouldn’t lay my wager down just yet.

Israel certainly has military superiority when it comes to its Air Force (IAF) and its arsenal of missiles. Not to mention its nuclear capabilites or the "bunker busters" it recently purchased from the US. But when it comes to a ground war – a guerilla campaign on Hezb’s home turf – they enjoy no such advantage. I think they will find it difficult, if not impossible, to uproot Hezbollah without the help on the Lebanese people. And considering the approx. 1,000 civilian casualties inflicted on the Lebanese by Israel, Israel has not exactly won over their hearts.

Certainly, the UN can play a major role here in trying to implement a peaceful settlement. But I wouldn’t count on it. The UN has no backbone. For starters, they give Hezbollah and Israel moral equivalence. Under such terms, it is unlikely that they will be able to negotiate a solution which Israel will accept. And Hezbollah will not accept any terms that require their disarmament or an abdication of power

The bottom line: The cease-fire will be short.

And don't rule out an expansion of the war into Syria - and possibly even Iran if the US gets involved.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Israel's Right to Self-Defense

Israel and Hezbollah are locked in a deadly battle. While many soldiers have been killed on both sides, the majority of the casualties have been civilians. And of those, over 90% have been Lebanese.

Judging by the pictures and stories flashed across your TV screen during your evening news broadcast, one would be led to believe that the Israelis were the aggressor in this campaign. Moreover, Israel is also portrayed as being cold and heartless in their "targeted" strikes against innocent civilians. And it seems that many Americans are buying what the media are selling.

To quote Pink Floyd, “Hello? Hello? Hello? (fading) Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?

Let’s face reality here!

Hezbollah and its patrons (Syria and Iran) have publicly expressed their desire to ”wipe Israel off the map”.

Israel has made attempts at making peace. In 2000, following its conflict with the PLO, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon. And earlier this year, she withdrew from Gaza. What have the results been? Renewed attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas! Attacks that are being backed by Iran and Syria.

So what should Israel do? Turn the other cheek? They already did that (see above).

Maybe Pope John Paul II hit the nail right on the head when he stated, “War is a defeat for humanity.” But I don’t see any other viable options for Israel. The US has tried to bring international pressure against the agents of Hezbollah, but have gotten a luke-warm response. Surely, Israel can not be expected to placate their enemies in the manner that Chamberlain placated Hitler. She can not wait until nuclear missle rain down on Tel-Aviv. She should must stand up for herself! Now! And that is precisely what she has done.

For that, Israel is being demonized. The evening news flashes pictures of demolished Lebanese cities. Apartment building reduced to rubble. Innocent Lebanese civilians – women and children – dead in the streets. As if this is what Israel wanted.

Why is there scant mention in the media of Hezbollah's goals and tactics? They hide behind innocent civilians – human shields! They place rocket launchers in residential districts, they locate their offices in the basements of apartment buildings or next door to schools. They are cowards!

But when Israel strikes, she is demonized as a baby-killer!

Hezbollah are terrorists! Anyone remember the 241 dead US marines they murdered!?

Israel is the shining example of a free democracy in the middle east.

But somehow the West can not seem to recognize the difference. Victor Davis Hanson gets right to the point when in his recent National Review article wherein he states, “…the amoral Westerner cannot exercise moral judgment because he no longer has any.

It’s the 1930’s all over again!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Truth Behind the Mel Gibson Controversy

A shocked Mel Gibson attempts to strangle an unsuspecting Jesus after discovering that he is a Jew

Iraq is on the brink of civil war. Iran is enriching uranium for a bomb. There is a regional war going on in the Middle East which could escalate into a wider conflict. Despite these facts, the “Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite” nonsense seems to be the story that is really capturing the media’s attention.

In a drunken tirade during his arrest for DUI, Gibson said, "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?"

Granted, these are ignorant statements that border on anti-Semitism. But so what!

Doesn’t it seem kind of strange that the media are making such a big deal over a few ignorant statements. And let’s remember, there were only statements! Statements for which Gibson issued an apology. But rather than take his apology at face value, Mel has been branded as an avowed anti-Semite.

Where is the forgiveness? Has anyone considered that maybe the ideas that spewed forward from Mel’s lips could be a legacy from his childhood. Something he knows is wrong, but has been struggling to overcome?

Whether that scenario is true or not – or whether Gibson is truly sorry - seems unimportant to the media. That's because the whole controversy really has little or nothing to do with Mel Gibson personally. The goal of the “Mel is an anti-Semite” campaign is nothing more than a veiled attempt to discredit his movie, The Passion of the Christ. The Passion was very unpopular among some Jews because of the unfavorable light in which the Jewish elders were portrayed. Several pundits made this point when the Gibson arrest first hit the front pages, but their voices were drowned out by all the cries of anti-Semitism.

But now, the truth is starting to come out, such as this article by Tim Rutten that appeared in the LA Times over the weekend. In the article, Rutten reveals what is really behind all the attention that Gibson is receiving. Rutten writes:

…why hasn't the press reopened the discussion of Gibson's financially successful but controversial movie, "The Passion of the Christ"? When it was released two years ago, there were some who argued that...Gibson's narrative was studded with the kinds of anti-Semitic caricatures once associated with medieval passion plays.

So there you have it. Its an agenda about saving face.

Rutten then goes on a mini-smear campaign to defame Mel. He starts by attacking Mel’s conservative brand of old-school Catholicism by suggesting that all traditional Catholics are consumed by a “pervasive… antagonism toward Jews and Judaism”. His logic seems to be that Mel is a traditional Catholic, so he must be the same.

Its guilt by association.

Rutten goes on to attack Gibson’s father Hunter, who has made controversial statements about the Holocaust before, by suggesting that is was “largely a myth”. Mel is then criticized for not publicly denouncing his father’s beliefs. Perhaps Rutten missed it, but Mel was interviewed a few years back by Reader’s Digest about his position on the Holocaust. Mel does not deny that the Holocaust happened. In fact, he clearly states that he personally knows people who survived it and that he himself believes that it did indeed happen. This issue for him comes down to a “numbers game”. How many million Jews actually died in the camps?

Since when does questioning the accuracy of history make one anti-Semitic?

Rutten also criticizes Gibson’s primary source material for The Passion, namely the Gospel of Matthew, which he refers to as the "most problematic of the four Christian passion narratives".

Problematic? I wonder what leads him to that conclusion? Is it because he believes the Gospel to be false? Or is it because it paints an unflattering picture of the Jewish elders in their bloodlust to have Christ crucified?

Sounds to me like Rutten has a problem with Catholics. But I digress...

It seems to me that the media are really blowing this out of proportion. This is not news. It is servicing an agenda. Frankly, I think this will backfire on the media. Its the boy who cried wolf.

There are legitimate cases of anti-Semitism that the media could/should focus on. Instead, they choose to focus on the Gibson case - probably to take advantage of Mad Max's celebrity.

Although I find Mel's statements derogatory, they don't really qualify as anti-Semetic. Which of course raises another question? Just what is it that qualifies someone as being eligible for a free membership in the Anti-Semite club? Does one have to burn down a synogouge? Do they have to be a Nazi or a Klansmen? Or is it merely criticizing someone who happens to be Jewish? Is it denying the Holocaust? Is it accepting that the Holocaust happened but questioning some of the details? Or is simply not liking Neil Diamond sufficient?

Oh, I almost forget. Mel worships Jesus who incidentally happens to be a Jew, for Christ’s sake.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cuba Libre?

Fidel Castro speaking to his brother Raul

Cuba Libre? Don’t bet on it!

There has been a lot of speculation regarding the fate of Cuban President (Translation: Dictator) Fidel Castro. Fidel recently underwent surgery for (reportedly) gastrointestinal bleeding brought on by stress. Rumors have even begun to spread that Fidel is dead.

Okay? Whatever.

Fidel relinquished the Presidency to his brother Raul who is currently the Cuban defense minister. This is the first time that Fidel has surrendered power since taking control of Cuba in 1959.

Upon hearing the announcement of Fidel’s medical condition, Miami’s displaced Cuban population became ecstatic. They took to the streets in celebration of Fidel’s hopeful demise. Apparently they think that they will be able to return home following the transition to power.

I wish it were so!

Unfortunately, that most likely will not be the case. For starters, it appears that Fidel is not dead, and his abdication is only temporary. Even if he were to take a “dirt nap”, his brother Raul appears to be next in line to take over. And by most accounts, little brother is no choir boy.

Raul has his brutal side. STRATFOR (a well respected private intelligence company) believes Raul will be more repressive than Fidel. He has played a leading role in the suppression of Fidel’s political opponents for almost 50 years! According to NewsMax, Raul supervised the execution of over one hundred police and military personnel of the deposed Batista government. Although that was over 50 years ago, many analysts believe that Raul would continue to govern with an “iron fist”, mostly due to his lack of charisma and suspect political abilities. In support of this, the New Media Journal is reporting that the Cuban military is already reposition units throughout the country to quell any dissention or uprisings that may occur.

On the bright side, Raul is no spring chicken. He is 75 years old. In addition, there is no guarantee he will take over following Fidel’s eventually death. In fact, many believe that if he were not Fidel’s brother, he would not even be in consideration for the next in line. Others who are contending for the ascendancy to the “Presidency” are Vice President Carlos Lage, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, and National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon. It is not clear (to me) how these leaders would rule, but being that they are all communists, chances are that there would be little change in Cuba’s governmental philosophy. Barring US intervention, of course. But that seems unlikely. The US has lots of other seemingly more important issue on the table right now (Iraq, Iran, Mexican Border, Middle East War, etc). And Cuba currently does not represent much of a serious threat.

So don’t make any plans on getting drunk in Havana any time soon!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel Gibson to be Crucified?

I am a big supporter of Israel, as anyone who has read my previous blog entries can testify. However, I am NOT a big supporter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). To me, they rank right up there with the NAACP as a bunch of whining, self-victimizers. The ADL's lastest antics over the Mel Gibson tirade are a case in point.

Actor Mel Gibson was arrested early Friday morning for driving under the influence (DUI). According to published reports, “deputies clocked [Gibson] doing 87 mph in a 45 mph zone”. An empty tequila bottle was found in Gibson's car, and his blood alcohol level was 0.12 (CA legal limit is 0.08).

Sounds to me like he was inebriated.

To make matters worse, Gibson embarked on a verbal tirade, wherein he made a variety of derogatory remarks, some of which were against Jews. Gibson reportedly stated ""F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?"

Gibson, who has long battled with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, issued an apology for his remarks, stating, ”There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of Anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said… I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing…

Great! Now we can move on with life and deal with more important issues, right?

Ah, not so fast there Antonio. Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Gibson's apology "unremorseful and insufficient."

Seems to me that Foxman is implacable and unforgiving. I suppose he has not yet exacted his pound of flesh. Perhaps Foxman wants Gibson to be turned over to Ciaphas the High Priest, so that he can bring him before Pilate. If Pilate gives the ADL the thumbs-up, Gibson could be scheduled for crucifixion as early as next week. The crucifixion would obviously take place at San Quentin prison, with the actual act of driving in the nails being performed by prison employees, thereby cleansing the hands of the ADL of any culpability in the matter.

Okay, let’s be serious for a moment. Truth be told, this is yet another episode of the ADL trying to draw attention to itself. This has little to do with Mel Gibson - his so-called tirade was pretty lame, by bigotry standards. The ADL is simply taking advantage of Gibson's celebrity to publicly flex their muscle. If anything, this is more of a vicarious attack on Gibson’s father, Hutton Gibson, who has a reputation for making anti-semetic statements. The same thing happened a few years ago when Mel Gibson was accused of anti-semetism because critics felt that his film, The Passion, unfairly blamed the Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion. Gibson rightfully denied the charge, as his film only reflected what is actually written in the gospels. But to his credit, he edited the film prior to its release to remove a part of the script that the ADL felt was inappropriate.

So let's take a step back and view this episode a bit more clearly. This whole thing is being blow way out of proprotion. It is not a big deal. The guy was drunk off his gourd and made a few ignorant statements. He said a few things that were lurking around in the back of his mind. Thankfully they don't have thought police to follow the rest of us around and dig into the bowels of the minds. We should also be thankful that someone did not have a tape-recorder on hand the last time we made remarks that could have been construed as disparaging of others (which for me was yesterday). If they did, they could certainly have a field day on my account.

Or maybe Mel is not really that fond of Jews after all.

Who cares?! Get over it.