Thursday, March 30, 2017

Caddyshack Revisited!

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The Trail of Dead Russians Theme Park: Come for the thrills. Don’t expect any frills. Leave at your own peril.

A Deliricum of Wisdom

What could be more delirium-inducing than having a president of the United States willingly and enthusiastically echo Russian propaganda designed to undermine his country’s stability, security and democracy? A president whose own son openly boasted of their family’s increasing financial ties to Russia only to have the whole issue get treated as a footnote in an ongoing real life soap opera whose twists and turns would have been considered overwrought by the writers of As the World Turns. A president who lies to the American people with every breath he takes yet is believed by a significant percentage of them, while so many just don't seem to care. A president who is so unpresidentable that after voting him into office members of his party turned against each other in a murderous rampage. A president who is the personification of our nightmares and the embodiment of Putin’s wet dreams. A world that produces this kind of president needs this kind of blog.

The Delirynth

While He Plays Golf

As the Senate Committee confirms that it will be questioning Jared Kushner “Over Meetings With Russians,” including, one would imaging, a meeting with the executive of a U.S. sanctioned Russian bank, President Trump, we are told, is about “to create White House office for ‘American Innovation’ to be headed by Kushner,” raising questions, in some inquisitive minds at least, as to whether our unpresidentable President plans to make Jared Kushner America's unelected, unapproved, uncontrolled CEO, while he plays golf. Yes. The Russia scandal has reached his family, but he plays golf.

And after he’s done playing golf, he declares war against his own party: Trump’s Threats Against Freedom Caucus Cause Few Shivers of Fear. Yes, that Republican civil war that was supposed to happen during the elections leading to a meltdown of the party seems to be happening now. How fortuitous. “Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!” Well, screwed anyway. While he plays golf, naturally.

But, somehow, we need to keep reminding ourselves that this is all about how Trump's business network reached alleged Russian mobsters. The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering…Trump's privately held company works through a network of subsidiaries and partnerships that make direct connections hard to trace, particularly since he has refused to release his tax filings. In addition, some of the Trump Organization's investors and buyers operate through shell companies and limited liability corporations that hide the identities of individual owners.

And not let something as important as this little revelation be lost in the shuffle: Trump Russia dossier key claim 'verified'. …the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy. It is not clear if the American intelligence agencies already believed this when they got Steele's report on the "diplomat", as early as May 2016. But it is a judgment they made using their own methods, outside the dossier.

Developments like this one are meant as distraction: 2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports, and are only important inasmuch as they show desperation and consciousness of guilt on part of those in the know in the White House.

Speaking of consciousness of guilt, the scandalous behavior of an old colleague Got A Lot Worse. Flynn could still be in legal jeopardy even if his meeting with Turkish officials about Gülen never broached topics that would themselves constitute crimes. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires that a person acting as “an agent of a foreign principal”—including, among other things, an agent of a foreign government—file a disclosure of that relationship with the U.S. Department of Justice. There are exemptions, but none seem to fit Flynn in 2016. The statute specifies that the filing must be made within ten days of beginning to act as an agent of a foreign government. Willful failure to comply with the statute is a felony.

And Flynn must be so aware of how deep in the shit he is, he is now offering to “Testify in Exchange for Immunity.” This means that he must really believe that he’s guilty of something criminal, because, in his own words: “When you are given immunity that means that you have probably committed a crime.”

The Tenacious World Beyond

Meanwhile, outside the border of our fortress, the world insists on existing, despite some problems of its own.

Arab leaders are about to have their farcical summit in Jordan on the shores of the Dead Sea. Death always needs to be invoked, one way or another, when my people meet these days.

This is the illustrious Rami Khouri invoking it in his own way: Some scary numbers for the Arab summit to ponder.

·         78% is the percentage of Arab families living in 'hardship' or 'in need' in 2016, according to the Arab Opinion Index survey by the Doha Center for Research and Policy Studies).
·         30% is the percentage of youth unemployment, also the highest in the world.
·         22% is the female labor force participation rate in the Arab world, which is the lowest in the world.
·         40% is a rough estimate of the labor force in Arab countries engaged in the informal sector, without meaningful legal protections, social safety nets, or future prospects.

And as the winds continue to blow from the east, a rather pressing question comes to mind, again. This time, it was posed by Mustafa Akyol: Is free speech good for Muslims? “Often Muslims support liberalism when it serves them and reject it when it does not. They use religious freedom in the West, for example, to seek converts to Islam, while condemning converts from Islam to another religion as “apostates” who deserve death… Such double standards can be found in very society. Mr. Wilders himself, who cheers for freedom while aiming to ban the Qur’an, is a striking example… The premodern world is long gone. There is no an increasingly diverse world where boundaries fade, cultures meet and individuals roam. And the forces that try to reverse this trend – liberal globalization – are often the very forces that despise Islam and threaten Muslims.” Indeed, there is a global phenomenon at work here, and it seems not only Muslims have to ask whether free speech, human rights and modern liberal democratic values are good for them, or whether they really understand them and are ready for them. This observation, however, is not meant to take away from the fact that the path towards modernity for Muslims is fraught with its own unique challenges and obstacles.

Indeed, some Muslims still find it easier to focus on what the West has done wrong to us: Saracens and Turks: The West's troubled relation with Islam. “The truth is that discourse of the "Muslim threat" says more about the West and its perceptions of itself and position in the world than it does about Islam or Muslims.”

These last lines of the essay by Soumaya Ghannoushi highlight where the problem lies for me in it: the objectionable discourse about the “Muslim threat” in the West is taking place in certain political and ideological circles there and does not taint all Western scholarship about Islam and Muslims, especially these days. The academic has travelled far since the days when Edward Said published his seminal work: Orientalism with all the controversies it generated. Prejudice and sensationalism have always tainted the way different peoples examined each other’s cultures and history. And trying to understand the culture of some conquered people in order to facilitate control over them is as old a phenomenon as conquest and colonialism. For all this, traditional orientalists were motivated by a sincere desire to understand the Muslim peoples, their history, diversity, religion and culture.  And most sincerely hoped to promote better relations between the East and the West. Theirs was a labor of love not disdain, reflecting a serious attempt at understanding Islam and Muslims. And for all their shortcomings, especially the prejudice that colored some of their views and interpretations and their desire for control, their contributions to our understanding of ourselves and our history and our faith are enormous. There was a lot of dispassion and objectivity involved in their analysis as well.

The problem we are facing today as Muslims is that those who are reviving some old orientalist tropes are motivated purely by hate and ignorance. There is no real attempt at understanding anything here. There is only rejection, but not only of us. The same people seem to hate their own societies as well and all the progress made in the name of liberal globalization as Mustafa AKyol pointed out.  

ЯeveЯsed Polarity (ЯP)

Iran: Medieval-like death sentences for expression of Opinion. Three prisoners by the names of Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari have reportedly been sentenced to death by Iranian courts based solely on opinions or beliefs they expressed. "Verdicts like the ones issued to Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari are reminiscent of the ones issued in the medieval times. The international community must speak out about their death sentences. We call for global condemnation," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

The Deliricon

Trump Ties: 1) A special variety of neckties known for their versatility during sex games, as behoove ties designed by Russians, made in China and meant to be worn by assholes. 2) In political parlance, the term refers to the kind of bonds that develop between psychopathic characters that make them indispensable to each other despite their conflicting long-term interests.

The Smell Test: A hazing ceremony introduced by President Donald J. Trump for all people visiting the White House. Visitors will have to eat a Taco at a Trump-owned restaurant an hour before the visit, then, they are told to joyfully smell each other’s butts in order to determine whose fart smells…the sweetest? Surprise! The secret to the sweet smell is that the main ingredients in Trump Tacos have been genetically modified to give off a pleasant aroma after passing through the gastrointestinal tract. This is indeed why, or so we are told, President Trump seems to enjoy the smell and taste of his own feces, and this is why his addiction to bullshit should not be so surprising. Warning: the ingredients in Trump Tacos, among other Trump food products, may sweeten the farts and feces, but have been shown to fry the brain matter in controlled lab tests.

The Trail of Dead Russians: A famous Russian theme park believed to have been founded by Ivan the Terrible. The park was expanded during the reign of Stalin and was recently renovated by Vladimir Putin. The park is meant to celebrate and reinforce the values of stability and security by showing the visitors the fate of all those who sought to rock the boat throughout Russian history, irrespective of whether they did it voluntarily and for the sake of some deep-seated aspiration for justice and freedom, or having been instructed to do so.  Foreign visitors to the park often get diagnosed with PTSD within hours of their visit. Others seem to be immune and have led perfectly abnormal lives despite repeated visits. Current American President, Donald J Trump, is known to be one of those visitors. Recently, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen seems to have joined this exclusive club as well as she was taken on a quick tour of the park with President Putin acting as her guide. Mrs. Le Pen seems to be as perfectly abnormal upon her return to Paris as she was known to be before the visit. 

Piecemaking: Making peace between warring parties by chopping to pieces either the disputed land or one of the warring parties, whichever one manages to accomplish first. Russia’s first and last neo-Czar Putin the Piecemaker is said to have perfected this diplomatic art both on the international and domestic scene, which is indeed why he was the first and last neo-Czar. He has shown the world how a piece of the brave can really be had.

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