Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why this war is so hated

A fantastic blog by neo-neocon titled “Why this war is so hated”. Highly recommended.

I am done Marvel. Nuff Said

In keeping with my comic book theme for the day, here is a great piece by Andrew Wheeler about his decision to no longer support Marvel Comics.

“This isn't because I no longer love comics. My affection has taken a battering in recent years thanks to the march of increasing mediocrity, but my appetite for the medium has not diminished in the face of this famine. Nor have I become too old for superheroes. There will always be a place in my heart for muscle-bound powerhouses punching the crap out of each other. I haven't even stopped appreciating the wonder and charm of the Marvel universe or its brilliant and idiosyncratic characters. Marvel and I have lost that loving feeling, but it's not because I've changed.

It's not me, Marvel. It's you.”

I have been a loyal Marvel Zombie for as long as I can remember. Many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around reading about the adventures of their characters. My friends and I would ride our bikes to the local convenience store every weekend and look through the newsstand for new copies of X-Men and Ghost Rider.
I still maintain a strong appreciation for comics, and I try to stay current with ongoing story lines. But Marvel has put a great strain on my support for their company and the fictional universe they have created.
And in a way, it is my fault. I kept buying comics that I knew were terrible; I should have punished Marvel by withholding my money instead of sending them the message that their mediocrity was acceptable. For crying out loud, I bought every issue of X-Force Rob Liefeld made, and they were completely horrid!
I will remain a comic book reader to the day I die, but Marvel, I too have had enough.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh vey, it’s Superman!

Superman, the first Jewish superhero? Take a look at the facts:

• Superman was created by two nice Jewish boys Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster in 1930s post-depression middle America.
• Superman’s arrival and subsequent success is the story of Jewish immigration and achievements into the US. He is taken in by a kind couple in a strange land and given a chance to make good.
• His story is also the Moses story. Moses is rescued from the waters in a basket. Superman is rescued from a field in a basket-like spacecraft.
• He never forgets who he is: he is being a stranger and being at home simultaneously. This is the heart of Jewish tradition, where every Jew is a boundary crosser and Jews remember the stranger and themselves as strangers.
• The Jewish answer to Nietzsche’s superman who was above moral issues; Superman in contrast is immersed in moral issues.
• Jewish spiritual and mystic dimensions to Superman’s superpowers, such as the Golem, the creature formed out of clay who would throw himself off buildings and similar feats to protect the Jews of Prague; and the rabbis who were granted supernatural powers by virtue of their holiness.
• His being in the diaspora, his need for an alter ego and to fit in and be useful without being noticed is an allegory of Jewish assimilation (especially in the 1930s when anti-Semitism in the US was rife.)
• Kal-El is Superman’s original, Hebrew-like name which was changed to Anglo-sounding Clark Kent as soon as he arrived in the US.
• Superman visits the bottled city of Kandor (the only remaining city of his home planet Krypton, shrunk and inside a bottle) just like diaspora Jews visit Israel.

(via Neither Here nor There)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Veteran Video

Indymedia Watch has a link to a video that has been circulating recently by a supposed Iraq war veteran who “admits” to war crimes. Indymedia quickly jumped on it, but a number of folks have raised doubt about the authenticity of the soldier’s background. Based on his uniform in the video, he does not appear to be a ranger like he allege.

I am sure there will be further revelations in the coming weeks on this topic.

Monday, May 22, 2006

This time, it will be different...

I recently watched a CSPAN program focusing on young female reporters and some of the stories they were covering. I can not remember any of the women’s names, nor do I recall the title of the program. None of that really matters in the context of this story.

One of the reporters had covered the current political crisis in Nepal. She said that even though the rebels are Maoists, she felt their political philosophy was different than previous communist movements. She didn’t really explain why she felt this, but I took her word for it; until I did some research into the group. Kevin Sites, in his ongoing “In the Hot Zone” project at CNN, recently conducted an interview with Sharad Singh-Bhandari who is a regional commander for the Maoist insurgents. Sharad candidly proclaimed:

“…we want to implement Marxism, Leninism and Maoism so we can have real social justice in Nepal.”

Sites followed up by asking: “How will that bring about social justice?...The 20th Century is filled with failed communist states. And in this century, North Korea’s people are starving and China has fully embraced capitalism in all but name.”

Sharad claims, like most folks who still associate with communism, that all of those past attempts were not real communism. This time will be different. Unfortunately, some of his other comments and historical stances don’t lead me to believe his ‘People’s Revolution’ will be any different than previous attempts.

“That's a fraud”, in response to Sites question about his intention to model a movement after previous bloody regime. “That's a kind of defaming of communism — the massacres of Tiananmen Square were done in the name of communism but it was not communism. As far as the Cultural Revolution, it was good since it was only the rich that were dealt with.”

Sites: “People were killed for completely negligible reasons.”

Sharad: “No, people weren't killed during the Cultural Revolution, but yes, during Tiananmen.”

Wow, apparently a need to understand history is not an important aspect of the Maoist’s code. This group does not sound at all as if they are any different than previous totalitarian Marxist organizations. Rarely do they say up front that they want to implement one party rule and suppress free speech, but Sharad isn’t even trying to spin.

This doesn’t mean that I think the US government should support the monarchy and other anti-democratic forces. We should not fall into the trap of supporting one totalitarian group to fight another; the Cold War left us with that lesson now that we are fighting some of our own un-democratic alliances. If the US gets involved, or is already involved, it must be done by supporting a centrist party or coalition that can both advance democracy and undermine the radicalism of the Maoist insurgents.

But leftists and idealists at home should not be fooled into thinking that this communist movement will be any different than the previous attempts. A strong desire to see the people of Nepal achieve democracy should not be a reason to support an organization that may very well take it away once they gain power.