Monday, December 22, 2008

Man of the Year?

Last Monday, Time Magazine named their Person-of-the-Year. It definitely came as no surprise. It's a foregone conclusion that a new POTUS-Elect is going to score that honor. What came to a great surprise to me were many of the so-called runners-up named by Time magazine. Many of these were supernumeraries of the first water.

Had Time's publication date come a day later, the news cycle could have coughed up a first class Runner-Up. So, a week late, and albeit probably a dollar short, I present my Man-of-the-Year. This, too, should come to no surprise to 95% of my dwindling number of regular readers - because I choose for my person-of-the-year,

The shoe man,

Muntadhar al-Zaidi

He scarcely needs an introduction, as some past Time selections have. By now, everybody and his brother, world wide, knows al-Zaidi as the man who finally bearded the chickenhawk-in-chief on his own stage. Last Sunday, for the first time in all medialand, a journalist has thrown Bush something besides a softball. And there was a follow-up, too! As he threw first one shoe and then the other, al- Zaidi shouted words which are already immortal - in Arabic as well as in their translated English:
This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people.

This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.

You are a dog. You killed the Iraqis!
I thought so much of this history-making event, I immediately published the You-Tube. I was not alone in recognizing the importance of al-Zaidi's confrontation with Bush. It was this week's most popular, playing everywhere in print and media.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi is a 29 years old Iraqi broadcast
journalist who works as a correspondent for Cairo-based, Iraqi-owned Al-Baghdadia TV. Al-Zaidi's reports often on the front lines of the resistance, highlightly the plight of widows, orphans, and children in the Iraq war occupation. He’s seen plenty of action. For example, on 16-Nov-07, he was kidnapped by an unidentified militia. He has been arrested twice by American forces. He lives within central Baghdad in a furnished two room apartment. Ahmed Alaa, a close friend and colleague of Zaidi's at al-Baghdadia television, said of his journalism,
One of his best reports was on Zahra, a young Iraqi school girl killed by the occupation forces while en route to school. This report earned him the respect of many Iraqis and won him many hearts in Iraq.
Alaa also said. Zaidi once also turned down an offer to work for what he termed "a pro-occupation channel".

So much for his newly cobbled/minted biography. We can accept that he has blossomed into a Islam-wide urban myth by now.

The question is, how do I as an American nationalist react?

The first thing I have to put down is any notion that this shoeing of
the drugstore cowboy who occupies the White House was a physical attack endangering his life. It would have been an attack on the prez if the objects had been hand grenades or rocks. But the throwing of shoes in the Middle East in comparable to throwing eggs, tomatoes or pies in the West. It is a physically harmless act of casting contempt on the target.

Bush fully deserves this contempt.

The second thing I have to put down is the argument that the
shoeing of the American POTUS demonstrates how far his democratization of Iraqi society has proceeded. Quite the contrary. Just as before, al-Zaidi has been beaten after his arrest and tortured after imprisonment. This is typical, non-transparent Middle Eastern Medieval justice. Malicki (always the court jester) accuses al-Zaida, in a roundabout American-ist way, of being a terrorist:
Muntazer al-Zaidi has expressed regret in a letter I received from him in which he revealed that an individual persuaded him to commit this action and that this person is well-known for beheading people.
Would that American journalists throw something at Bush and Cheney besides salvos of soft balls. The two of them have been throwing their shoes of contempt at us for eight years. Deepak Chopra states my argument:
George W. Bush Has Been Throwing Shoes at Us:
  • The unilateral invasion of Iraq was an insult to our allies, who had been naive enough to trust in six decades of cooperation through NATO and the UN.

  • The distortion and outright lying about Saddam's imminent threat to the United States was an insult to everyone's intelligence.

  • The placing of responsibility for 9/11 on Saddam's shoulders was an insult to the truth.
As he makes the rounds of exit interviews, Mr. Bush continues to throw shoes at us. His "So what?" attitude toward the disaster he created is the first shoe, the second is his blind assertion that the war in Iraq is close to victory.
Al-Zaidi has cut a new path in journalism and has cast sunlight on the judgment of the Bush legacy.

Our emperor has no clothes, So someone has finally stepped forward to give him shoes. That deed makes the shoe-man not only a desperately needed man-of-the-hour, but it also makes Muntazer al-Zaidi my man-of-the-year.

The Liberal and Progressive Divide over Gay Marriage

Just a short comment.

I have never posted on this topic, because I have not really given it a lot of thought. There are a lot of things I haven't written about; and many of those things seem too trivial to waste time and declining mental powers on. Gay marriage is one of those 'issues'.

A short and quick distinction between Liberals and Progressives:
  • Liberals get all lathered up about every 'good' idea that pops into their heads, because doing good is what they they do best. They are harnessed to their values.

  • Progressives buy into Liberal values, but they are strategic and engage in triage. Politics is the art or science of addressing the necessary and the possible first; that done, history and progress will take care of the details.
Progressives believe in Progress. Liberals just believe in their values.

So, in my comments on this controversy around the blogosphere, I have made the point that Gay unions and partnerships, recognized under laws of the states and the United States, should constitute equal protection under the laws. That would be a necessity, and it is possible. It's a proper focus for Progressive politics.

If we take care of that, along with the 100's of other 10-ton gorilla problems in environmental, economic and foreign policy, then the Liberal and Progressive alliance will flourish. Progress in tolerance will be swept along in the historical current.

In the meantime, Gay marriage, is the proper domain of religion. Bob Ostertag makes my point:
I have an idea: let's accept equal rights for all. Equal rights are the issue when it comes to national politics. That's Obama's position, and I think he has it right. Then, for those of you who are truly concerned with marriage above and beyond the issue of rights, you should go to your church, or synagogue, or mosque, and have that battle. In your community of fellow believers. I wish you all the best. And the rest of us can move on to things that matter to everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Like, say, global warming.
Yeah, settle down liberals. Let's get history back on course. Allow our Liberal-Progressive alliance to further marginalize the Republicans Retrogressives, and the details will take care of themselves.