Time was, a country claimed to have launched a monkey into space and successfully retrieved it, you’d be able to believe that country.
If Iran has lied to us about this monkey, how can we ever believe Iran again about anything?
I just don’t know how we’ll be able to live in a world where the word of the government of Iran is no longer synonymous with forthrightness.
The Times has much more on IranSpaceMonkeyGate here: Iran’s space monkey triumph exposed as a fake
I Double Down
A very small group of people, both on their own blogs and in the comments over at the Daily Beast where I was quoted, responded to my previous comedic post about the list of moral exemplars who are condemning Israel to register their unhappiness.
I said, the group that condemned Israel is a pretty good group to be condemned by. I toyed with the idea of saying instead that a good alternate headline would have been, “Syria, Hezbollah condemn Israel for preventing Syria from giving weapons to Hezbollah; Iran condemns Israel because it’s Thursday.”
Specifically, my critics are unhappy with me for suggesting that it was a very bad thing for Israel to prevent a regime that has spent most of its time lately murdering its own people en masse from transferring weapons to Hezbollah.
Why? Because of how disrespectful Israel’s actions are Syria’s sovereignty. Or because of Israel’s own human rights record. Or because Nazis condemned things too, which doesn’t invalidate the badness of the thing being condemned.
I can only imagine that it would be great fun to hang out with these people.
Tumblr Loves Iranian Film
In my last post, I made a snarky comment about the whole notion that the government of Iran is going to make a film that responds to the inaccuracies in “Argo” and now a whole bunch of Tumblr bloggers are very excited to see such a film … either because Ben Affleck is a notorious propagandist or because state-sponsored Iranian films have a stellar track record when it comes to entertainment.
Here are some of the response to my post:
1. Looking forward to it. All the Iranian flicks I have seen thus far have been excellent.
2. Ataollah Salmanian is probably a better director than Ben Affleck.
3. Going to be tracking this one.
4. mannn i haven’t seen a persian movie in so long.
5. Actually quite want to see this…
6. The fim will probably end up being a more accurate account, and therefore will be ignored by American audiences. Woops.
7. From what I’ve heard about the difference between the actual events and the events depicted in Argo, it looks like Iran is about drop a truth-bomb on America. Hopefully Argo won’t win an Oscar, otherwise it’s just going to make it much more embarrassing - “Oscar Winning Film Actually Completely Full of Shit”
I haven’t seen “Argo” because I have small children so I don’t get to see movies in the theatre. But I can only conclude from these comments either that a) it is the worst movie ever made; b) it opens with a crawler that says, “This is the definitive historical truth of actual events, much like the way that “300” is an exact retelling of the battle of Thermopylae; or c) Tumblr bloggers are the sort of Iranian cinephiles that the Grand Ayatollah has long been attempting to create.
Iran’s Art Bureau is planning to produce a film presenting its own version of the events depicted in Ben Affleck’s Argo, which tells the story of a 1980 CIA operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.
Iran’s Mehr News Agency quoted the film’s director, Ataollah Salmanian, as saying on Thursday that the film, entitled The General Staff, would be “an appropriate response to the ahistoric film Argo.”
I, for one, am very anxious to see the Iranian response movie. I presume it can’t possibly be anything other than excellent.
NPR ran a story this afternoon about the Hagel nomination that featured Elliot Abrams, a neoconservative critic who says outright that Hagel is an anti-Semite: “He seems to have some kind of problem with Jews,” he says about three-quarters of the way through this short interview.
To make his case, he refers to a statement Hagel once made about the “Jewish lobby” and about how he was a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator. But, really, Abrams relies on the testimony of the Jewish community of Nebraska, of which I am a member.
He specifically refers to Hagel’s “hostility toward that community — their word not mine.”
In fact, in fewer than eight minutes, Abrams mentions the Nebraska Jewish community three times to hammer home that Hagel’s Jewish constituents are deeply distrustful of him.
Apart from the obvious fact that Jews in Nebraska are not a monolithic community that speaks with one voice, none of the allegations amount to anti-Semitism. That all of the allegations seem to be made by staunch members of AIPAC is particularly telling; by their lights, I’m certain to be just as much of an anti-Semite as Hagel.
I said it earlier today and I’ll say it again:
That Chuck Hagel doesn’t see eye-to-eye with some Jews in Nebraska and with the GOP more broadly on the question of America’s blank check relationship with Israel does not make him an anti-Semite.
Despite the fact that all of this has made me angry enough to write a series of blog posts about it, I want to be perfectly clear that I don’t have any skin in this game. It doesn’t matter to me whether Chuck Hagel or someone else is our next Secretary of Defense. Contrary to Abrams’ position in this NPR interview, the next Secretary will serve at the pleasure of President Obama; he won’t be cozying up to Iran or punching Netanyahu in the stomach just because he feels like it. I write all of this because it’s incredibly disturbing to see someone tarred with allegations of anti-Semitism by neoconservatives, Tea Partyers, and AIPAC when, in fact, the person in question simply isn’t toeing the AIPAC line on writing blank checks to the Likud party in Israel.
This isn’t how Cabinet-level positions should be decided, not if we have any sense left in our heads.
The Jerusalem Post might have published the worst movie review of all time.
Of course, it isn’t actually a movie review of “The Hobbit” so much as its author uses the occasion of the release of that film to scold everyone for not reading enough Ayn Rand and not caring enough about world-historical Evil-with-a-Capital-E:
WHEN WE look at the 21st century and all it offers us, we must wonder whether it will be capable of producing a Rand or a Tolkien. The upheavals of the 20th century helped engender these great minds, but what does the 21st century offer? It doesn’t offer Nazism and Communism, but rather post-modernism and terrorism; the globalized one-world culture of unimportant 24-hour news cycles. Print media has declined, and the humanities have been dumbed down to the point that a PhD in 2012 would not be able to pass Harvard’s 1864 entrance examination.
Universal education has raised the ranks of the literate, but what will the literate read in the coming decades? Baggins and Roark could not have confronted terrorism and the dull, valueless post-modernist critique.
What would Baggins and Roark have made of what has become of the visual arts in the wake of the evils wrought by “modern art”? What would they have said looking at a theater production that has replaced originality with nudity? Rand and Tolkien were curmudgeons, and their characters were sort of curmudgeonly, which is why they are not always well received by the literati. But they were much loved by readers, and they continue to be much loved. Whether such characters will again be fashioned in the English-speaking world is an open question.
So go see “The Hobbit,” if you must, but just remember that Ayn Rand wouldn’t approve and that Iran is going to develop nuclear weapons and kill everyone.
Benjamin Netanyahu, renowned Israeli prop comic and prime minister, visits United Nations, inspires internet memes … as well as jealousy from rival prop comics, Carrot Top and Gallagher, and rival chart-wielding politician Ross Perot.
Being on Facebook means that every once in a while I get treated to something really bizarre that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t see anywhere else. For example, this cartoon popped up in my feed this afternoon.
A glimpse at some of the things people believe makes me sad.
As Haaretz reports:
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was warmly received Sunday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his 24-hour visit to Jerusalem.
Romney also met with President Shimon Peres and Opposition Leader Shaul Mofaz before visiting the Western Wall in the Old City.
On Tisha B’Av, the day on which both the first and second temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, as observant Jews around the world are fasting and reading from the Book of Lamentations, Mitt Romney writes a blank check to Prime Minister Netanyahu with regard to Iran:
In a speech here Sunday evening, Mitt Romney plans to assert that he respects Israel’s right to take pre-emptive action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities that could be used for a weapon.
Dan Senor, a senior Romney foreign policy adviser who helped orchestrate Mr. Romney’s stop here, told reporters in a briefing before the speech that Mr. Romney would express — several times — that it was “unacceptable” for Iran to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons, including his view that Israel reserves the right to take action against Iran.
“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,” Mr. Senor said.
Tisha B’Av is recognized as the saddest day in Jewish history, as many of the most calamitous events to befall the Jews happened on that day. It was on Tisha B’Av that the First Crusade began in 1096, that Jews were expelled from England in 1290 and from Spain in 1492, and that the Nazis began the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in 1942.
I would argue that Tisha B’Av is an important time to reflect on the prospect of war and to commit to peace. Not for Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu, though.
Of course, a sizeable number of Evangelical Christians, a minority of American Jews, and anyone who thought World War I was a romp will likely see nothing wrong with Romney’s remarks. But it’s Netanyahu, who has been sliding Israel toward war with Iran and has been frustrated that President Obama has continually urged diplomacy first, surely likes Romney’s remarks best.
Indeed, people have been alleging for some time that Romney — rather than Obama — is “good for Israel,” largely because Romney seems eager to agree with whatever the Israeli Prime Minister says. But, as I wrote just a few days ago, what’s good for Netanyahu isn’t necessarily what’s good for Israel.
A war between Israel and Iran would be a calamity; it’s a war that the citizens of both countries don’t want but that their leaders seem absolutely committed to starting.
I have a difficult time wrapping my mind around the concept of “the Jewish vote,” given that it’s miniscule. But it’s apparently worth a lot to Sheldon Adelson, who’s shelling out millions on these idiotic ads that are meant to convince Jews in battleground states that President Obama is bad for Israel.
The idea of the ad campaign is to find and promote a handful of Jews — like Michael Goldstein, above — who voted for Obama in 2008 and now can’t wait to vote for Romney.
While this might be persuasive to some, I have the sense that “some” will only involve the incredibly small number of American Jews who have already decided that Romney is better for Israel than Obama and who don’t care about anything else … including facts.
Like this fact, for example: “A day before Romney is due to land in Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama will sign the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which is meant to approve and expand military cooperation between the two countries.”
That doesn’t seem so bad for Israel.
What seems bad for Israel, at least from my perspective, is an American president who hands Prime Minister Netanyahu a blank check to do whatever he wants when it comes to the West Bank, Gaza, and — most importantly right now — Iran. That would be bad for Israel because it would mean allowing Israel to slide more easily into instability and war (all under the mantle of offense being the best defense, of course).
We’ll see what Mitt Romney has to say on these matters very soon, just as soon as he’s done offending everyone in London and can jet off to Israel. My guess is that he’s exactly the guy to write that blank check for Netanyahu.