EJ Dionne Jr
"It is important to remember that about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy. I don’t mean mentally ill. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 26 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. So, basically, that’s just normal life. I mean crazy in the sense of “Thinks it is a good plan to joke with the flight attendant about seeing a bomb in the restroom.” - Gail Collins
"President Obama will be laying out a new economic plan. Apparently, we had an old economic plan." – Jay Leno
"Hillary Clinton opened the Middle East peace talks and said, "People with a history of conflict can learn to live together.' And believe me, she knows what she's talking about." – Jay Leno
This year's commercial remembrance is tainted by the emotional responses to the news that an Islamic cultural center is going to be built near ground zero. Opponents say that it would desecrate their memories of those who died in the twin towers. They ignore the fact that people from many countries dies in those towers, many of them were Muslims. Even Iran called up President Bush to offer their condolences and offered to help, as did the governments of most other Islamic countries. I'm sure that those who feel strongly about 9/11 are genuine in their feelings, but they are also being selfish and narrow-minded. Unfortunately, we are talking emotions, and when someone is overtaken by their emotions, you cannot talk or reason with them, you can only wait until they calm down. We can become addicted to the emotional state, and end up permanently in a state of grief or anger, causing chemical changes in the brain, and almost no safe way to return to normalcy. Welcome to the tea party, my friends...
Meanwhile, back down-home on a small plot of land in Gainesville, Florida, it sure is amazing how the ill-formed plans of an uneducated, self-proclaimed minister in the Pentacostal tradition has raised ire all over the world, thanks to CNN. If violence breaks out, can they be held legally responsible? Official protests have been made in Indonesia, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, and others that have been generally overlooked by the media. My favorite protest came from the foreign minister of Iran, who blames it all on Israel: "The plan was orchestrated by the Zionist regime after being defeated in its efforts against Muslims and the Islamic world."
I didn't realize that old Terry had such clout. He announced this afternoon that he will no longer be burning any Korans on Saturday because the Muslim leaders have agreed to move its planned Islamic Center a few more blocks away, so there's nothing more to get mad about, nothing more to see here folks, move along now, move along... Yet, when I watch the evening news, Terry Jones had made up the fact that the ground zero mosque agreed to be moved, so he is a giant in his own mind:
Fidel Castro in Cuba, Fidel surprised him with several observations, one of them an admonition to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stop bashing the Jews. here's an excert from this incredible piece: "He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism. "This went on for maybe two thousand years," he said. "I don't think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything." The Iranian government should understand that the Jews "were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God. In my judgment here's what happened to them: Reverse selection. What's reverse selection? Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms. One might have assumed that they would have disappeared; I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation." He continued: "The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust." I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. "I am saying this so you can communicate it," he answered.
Castro went on to analyze the conflict between Israel and Iran. He said he understood Iranian fears of Israeli-American aggression and he added that, in his view, American sanctions and Israeli threats will not dissuade the Iranian leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons. "This problem is not going to get resolved, because the Iranians are not going to back down in the face of threats. That's my opinion," he said. He then noted that, unlike Cuba, Iran is a "profoundly religious country," and he said that religious leaders are less apt to compromise. He noted that even secular Cuba has resisted various American demands over the past 50 years.
I asked Julia to explain the meaning of Castro's invitation to me, and of his message to Ahmadinejad. "Fidel is at an early stage of reinventing himself as a senior statesman, not as head of state, on the domestic stage, but primarily on the international stage, which has always been a priority for him," she said. "Matters of war, peace and international security are a central focus: Nuclear proliferation climate change, these are the major issues for him, and he's really just getting started, using any potential media platform to communicate his views. He has time on his hands now that he didn't expect to have. And he's revisiting history, and revisiting his own history." Also interesting is finding out that the daughter of Che Guevara is working as an animal doctor at the national aquarium...
Today, Mahmoud's best friend in all of South America also supported what Castro said. First, richard Nixon got mellow and all elder-statesman on us in his old age, now it's Fidel Castro. I am now hoping that we will finally lift the Cuban embargo, which has been in force since 1963, I'm guessing on the date here. I also hope that we begin the importing of Cuban cigars again. Before the embargo, almost every cigar sold in America came from Cuba. In the years since, the cigar industry has taken hold in places like the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Brazil, mostly in the same equatorial latitude because Cuban cigars were recognized as being the best in the world. I would be happy if the price of cigars came back down, so that you could buy a decent cigar for under $5, instead of the $10 -20 range it is today, for the same damned cigar... Fidel no longer is allowed to smoke cigars, but it would be wonderful to be able to visit and hang out and talk about solving the world's problems. Beats sitting here at home wishing for a Cuban Cohiba... Then, I'm sure that having lunch with Fidel is much better than lunch with Adi Amin...