Friday, January 26, 2007

Guilford College: Muslim Madness

Local hullabaloo. Yay meatheads!

These guys are assholes.
Pic from WXII-12.

Depending on the report source, this past Friday night or Saturday morning at Guilford College, between 15 and 30 students, most/all from the football team, beat the hell out of three Palestinian students. These guys get the WTF award. Indications are that it was racially/religiously motivated.

Ever since I was in grade school I have noticed that a few components of human nature, in the right mix, often combine into the worst exemplifications of human behavior.

Ignorance Necessary basis of any attack, ignorance of one or many facts or realities. "Ignorance just means not knowing. That's easy to fix. Not like stupid. There's no fixin' stupid."
Pride Usually vague, such as pride in American values, which polarizes values of the rest of the world as indecent. Also misappropriately manifests after the beating/before the arrest as pride in self.
Misplaced aggression Nothin' better than good ol' misplaced male aggression. Hate your dad? Get drunk and start a fight.
Pressure Parental, peer, societal, mob, perceived or real.
Strength In numbers or muscle, direct physical attacks require you to be bigger than them.
Violence Verbal or physical, the violence is the culmination of the aforementioned traits, the end result of idiocy.

When I was in college, one of my closest friends grew out his hair and beard. In a dark bar, he looked a little like a short Sayid from Lost. More than once he heard some ignorant asshat blurt out: "Fuckin' Arab." The problem with that distinction is that he's Italian.

This is the mentality we're dealing with. The first Iraq action/incident/campaign gave American ignorance and hate an outlet in the form of the tan-skinned Middle Easterner. The second has simply informed us a little more, so that when we're beating the snot out of someone who's skin is a little darker (or lighter) than our own, we can shout "Muslim" instead of "Arab."

As for the local show of violence, the FBI is looking into it as a hate crime. If only sentencing could include a serious ass-kicking followed by six months of study in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Give War a Chance: State of the Union '07

CBS News has the full video of the speech.

The state of the union is... well, you decide. Bush didn't address the desire for change mandated in the shift in power last November. He said what people were thinking he was going to say, not as a broken, defeated, lame duck, but not with a great deal of conviction either. Here are some highlights as I saw them.

Greeting Pelosi
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the most prominent change in the environment last night, and Bush handled it well, but not too well. He congratulated her on her distinction as the first female speaker. He went on to talk about bipartisanship. But he never linked the two. A mention of Pelosi's progress since taking office, often with a spirit that crossed the aisle to get things done might have been nice.

Faces in the Crowd
I believe the shots of the distinguished audience come in two flavors: Appropriate to the content of the president's speech and "Aww man, look at that face; take camera 4." As there is no comedy in the former, here is some of the latter.

Hillary Clinton - Early on we saw Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Aside from the odd Donna Reed hair flip and pearls combo, the face was striking. The slightly curled lips, the scrunched mouth, the utter look of contempt on her face combined with the slight lean and cock of the head read thusly: "You liar. You stupid bastard liar. Every thought out of your head is ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag." At least that's how I read it.

Ted Kennedy - You can't always get a laugh out of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) like you used to. Last night was not one of those nights. Also seen early on, the man looked like a hangover in skin. His fingers on his temples, his eyes barely opened, a great grimace of anguish on his face. Based on the mathematics of drinking shifted to Ted's experience and body weight, it can be calculated that he had been drinking heavily, probably mixing beer/wine/whiskey from 10am to 4pm, caught 4 hours of sleep, and woke up as walking death.

Condoleezza Rice - Dr. Condoleezza Rice is usually a staid member of the former, boring group. But CNN got one hell of a shot of her last night. It was about halfway through the speech, and she was hunched over in such a way as to make her forehead huge, her eyes sink way the hell back into her head, and a scowl that I am beginning to believe is her "at rest" face. She looked awful. Yes, even worse than this.

To Blink or Not to Blink
The president is front and center. He's talking about the state of our union. He's addressing "important stuff." But all I could see was the Cheney/Pelosi dynamic going on in the background. It was like a morality play without the moral lesson. The first thing I noticed was Pelosi's constant, constant blinking. She was averaging over one blink per second. It was distracting. What was even more distracting about it was the contrast to Cheney. The vice president, now apparently almost completely cyborg, was blinking once every 12 to 17 seconds. This gives the value of one Cheney blink as about fifteen Pelosi blinks. Blinking means nervous; nervous can be interpreted as weakness.

Direct notes: Pelosi, stop chewing the inside of your mouth. Pretend you are on camera all the time because, for the most part, you are. Pelosi and Cheney, if you got a piece of ribeye fat caught in your meat-catcher at dinner, floss before the damn speech. Or dig it out at the table like every other red-blooded American.

Hints at Iran
I did spend a little too much time focusing on the Pelosi/Cheney dynamic, but I couldn't miss the three or more mentions of Iran as a threat. Syria was thrown in as well. Some rumors in the wind hint at us attacking Iran within the next year. Was Bush steeling us for this eventuality?

Private Citizen what?
I'm not sure I got this or just misheard it. By the look on the faces of the Joint Chiefs, they felt the same way. Did Bush really say something about bringing private citizens to Iraq? Is this to support the troops? Is this just trying to get more folks over there without the necessity of joining the armed forces? How is this different from private contracting? More to come as everyone starts digging a little deeper.

Give War a Chance
C'mon guys, really doodz. I'm tryin' here and we're really gonna win, man. Really. I just sent a bunch more guys over and more guys and weapons and bullets means more better killin' the terrorists, doesn't it? If you don't think so then maybe you're a terrorist too. Just gimmie some more time, man. Success. I'll have it for you, I just need more time. I know we've been there a while and it's only getting worse, not to mention the (shh!) civil war that may be in the works/on the way/already occurring. But more guys and private citizens and Iran's bad. God bless.

Webb's rebuttal
Let's get this out of the way: the content was fine. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has relevance with a son in Iraq, he doesn't fully agree with the party line on Iraq withdrawal which gives him believability as a real person.

I'm guessing as soon as the camera was turned off, someone got their ass beat. Take a look (CBS News Video of Dem Response here). Webb's speech was slowed down. There were pregnant pauses trouncing all over the place. His head was cut off. I don't know what goon of a little intern was running things over there, but it made the whole thing ridiculous. When shooting a speaker, you give them "head room," or a little gap above their head in the shot. That was missing. And the person running the teleprompter was running things a little slow. I can understand a freshman senator's lack of formal TV time, but a good teleprompter runner can follow anyone (look how well the president came off). It seems Webb was aware of the absurdity of the situation as well because about 3/4 of the way through his eight minute speech, he started to get the "smiles." The content of his speech was not appropriate to grinning, but he was doing so. I was genuinely afraid he'd break into giggles and be unable to stop. In a way it made him more real. In a way it was unprofessional. It's only funny if it happens to the folks on SNL.

And that was the state of the State of the Union.