Michael Coren’s Non-Apology To The LGBT Community

Being a public figure can be very difficult at times, most especially when you fuck up.  And just like ordinary citizens, they fuck up often.  The big difference being the whole world knows when they fuck up.

Politicians, athletes, entertainers, cops, reporters & pundits are as humanly flawed as the rest of us.  Hopefully, when they do fuck up, they immediately recognize their mistake, own it entirely, apologize for it, make amends and sincerely vow to never repeat it.  In other words, as long as they are truly accountable for their fuck-up (ex: resign from their job), their wrong will be righted.

Which brings me to Michael Coren.  Yesterday, The Toronto Sun published his latest column.  Entitled “I was wrong”, apparently the longtime Sun Media columnist has had a change of heart about gay people:

“In the past six months I have been parachuted into clouds of new realization and empathy regarding gay issues, largely and ironically because of the angry and hateful responses of some people to my defence of persecuted gay men and women in Africa and Russia. I saw an aspect of the anti-gay movement that shocked me. This wasn’t reasonable opposition but a tainted monomania with no understanding of humanity and an obsession with sex rather than love.”

Coren is 55 years old.  Despite voluminous evidence of hateful comments directed at the LGBT community and their supporters for decades, not counting rapes, physical assaults and murders, until he started defending “persecuted gay men and women in Africa and Russia” himself this year, he had no idea how much harassment they truly face.  What an idiot.

He ends his short piece thusly:

“…I have evolved on this single subject because I can no longer hide behind comfortable banalities, have realized that love triumphs judgment, and know that the conversation between Christians and gays has to transform — just as, to a large extent, the conversation between conservatives and gays has.”

I am not prepared to throw around ugly terms like ‘sin’ and ‘disordered’ as if they were clumsy cudgels, or marginalize people and groups who often lead more moral lives than I do. I am sick and tired of defining the word of God by a single and not even particularly important subject.

If we live, we grow. The alternative is, of course, death.”

Sounds like belated personal growth, doesn’t it?  Sounds like he has finally “evolved” on gays.

Unfortunately, a much closer examination of his column proves his “thinking” hasn’t changed at all.

Consider paragraph 2:

“I’m still regarded by many in the gay community as an enemy and I understand that reaction. I have said and written things in the past that, while never intentionally hateful, caused offence and pain. This isn’t necessarily relevant, in that truth cannot change according to response, but I could and would not say such things any longer. I was wrong.”

Note how he doesn’t specify what he actually said and wrote that caused so much anger.  Also note how he downplays the severity of these unspecified comments by claiming rather unpersuasively they were “never intentionally hateful”, suggesting more of a big misunderstanding between two equal parties rather than hurtful, bigoted rhetoric directed from a privileged white man to a marginalized community he holds in contempt.  (Why else would he use the phrase “reasonable opposition” in paragraph 3?)

Before he declares, “I was wrong,”, pay particular attention to the sentence that appears before it.  It is within the short section in between the commas that reveals how Coren really feels about gays.  When he says, “truth cannot change according to response”, that means no matter how much anger his anti-gay vitriol inspires, he has not changed his actual position.  He just won’t use words like “sin” and “disordered” any more.  Ignorant insults attract too much unwanted attention, you see.

In other words, like Pope Francis, Michael Coren is choosing his language more carefully now when discussing LGBT issues.  He’s putting his rusty, out-of-date insults back in his hack pundit toolbox and locking the key.  But also like the head of the Catholic Church, that doesn’t mean he’s changed his mind on gay rights.

Go ahead.  Pour through that column and find the parts where he says he now believes homosexuality is a-ok and a normal form of sexuality, that he’s now a big champion for gay marriage and gay adoption, that he doesn’t think transgendered men and women are crazy, deluded perverts.

What’s that?  You can’t find any of that in there?  Of course you can’t.  He wrote none of those things.  Nor does he believe them.

This business of Coren declaring he won’t offend gay people any more with his dopey insults is not new.  In the Sun specifically, he has written this promise countless times over the years.  It has never led to him actually supporting full equality for gays which is the biggest insult of them all.

This past February in a Sun column entitled “Gay insults shouldn’t be tolerated”, he plainly states, “I oppose gay marriage”, “I uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and “most gay people do not choose their sexuality” (who are the ones that don’t?)

In another column from that same period, “Uganda’s anti-gay law a travesty”, while defending homosexuals, he does not defend homosexuality.  “This isn’t the place for a discourse about the nature of sexuality,” he oddly declares before taking this convenient libertarian stance:  “What consenting people do in private as long as it harms nobody is absolutely up to them.”

In the very next paragraph, though, he opines, “I find some of the excesses of the pride parade vulgar and annoying and I find some of the intolerance and triumphalism of gay activists in North America and Europe to be offensive.”  So you can be gay in private but by God, don’t be gay in public!  That’s vulgar!  That’s annoying!  That’s offensive!

In October 2012, during a broadcast of his Sun News talk show, The Arena, he had this to say about a private member’s bill regarding added protections for transgendered folks who use public washrooms:

“What this is saying is if you do not want a boy to go into your daughter’s washroom you are the problem…not the person who says ‘Oh, I feel like a girl today.”

During a subsequent discussion about the Toronto District School Board possibly hiring transgendered teachers, Coren, sarcastically pretending to be a possible candidate, remarked, “No I don’t have a BA no I don’t have an MA, but I did have my penis cut off.”

Finally, there was this:

“I’ve interviewed people who think they’re in another gender’s body… Invariably, I believe they need a lot of psychiatric help.”

In November 2010, after comedian Rick Mercer came out in a famous video, Coren called his actions “pathetic”.  Regarding the It Gets Better campaign that inspired it, he decried, “[the] love that dare not speak its name will not now shut up.”

For his part, Mercer responded, “This is a perfect example of how it gets better, as I might have once let someone like Coren get to me, but now it doesn’t affect me one bit…I know the type of homosexual he likes: one in the Conservative party who does what they’re supposed to do.”  In other words, keeping their gayness to themselves and voting against their own interests.

In the “I was wrong” column, Coren writes, “It’s tragic but indicative that there are critics who cannot come to terms with growth and change and, rather than consider what I have to say, try to question my motives.”

It’s neither “tragic” nor “indicative” to point out the obvious.  Coren hasn’t grown.  He hasn’t changed.  And the suspicious timing of his column (in the middle of World Pride Weekend after all) is an excellent reason to question his motives.

His long history of abhorrent anti-gay views cannot be instantly erased because of a questionable shift in tone.  He still harbours them.  They can’t be forgotten, either, nor should they, as much as Coren would like them to be.  Just because someone once again announces they won’t say hurtful things about gay people anymore doesn’t mean they’ve stopped thinking them or that they’ll actually live up to their word.

What does he mean when he says, “I was wrong”, anyway?  What sorts of anti-gay “insults” is he referring to, besides the aforementioned “sin” and “disordered”?  By not specifying the full context of what he actually said that “caused offence and pain”, he’s avoiding being accountable.  He’s refusing to be real.

When I was a teen, my former church briefly contemplated having openly gay ministers.  It caused such a backlash that it never happened.  In History class, a Hamilton Spectator article about this was included in a project I did about current events which included my own summaries & brief analysis.  Right next to the clipped out story, I wrote the phrase “can the queers” which actually got a bonus mark from my teacher.  I don’t remember the full context of the line now, unfortunately (I’m sure I meant it as a mean joke), but nonetheless I am ashamed that I wrote it in the first place.  In fact, I ultimately threw out the whole project years later.  Today, I have no problem with gay ministers.  (I’ve been an atheist since 1996.)

In college, I took a human sexuality class.  We needed to submit an essay so I stupidly wrote one declaring that homosexuality was a mental illness.  Even though the teacher wasn’t persuaded, I actually got a B+ on it.  I’m not proud of that.  It, too, was tossed quite some time ago.  For the record, I no longer believe being gay means you’re mentally ill.  It’s a perfectly normal form of sexuality.  I regret writing that essay.

What does Coren himself regret, exactly?  Beyond saying “sin” and “disordered” out loud to describe homosexuality, who knows? His column lacks full candor and humility, he refuses to admit his comments were “intentionally hateful” and he won’t specify exactly what he said in the past that he won’t say today.  As a result, “I was wrong” is nothing more than an empty statement devoid of true contrition.

Speaking of contrition, where’s “I’m sorry”, “I apologize”, or any plea for forgiveness and reconciliation?  If Coren is serious about making peace with the LGBT community, he’s only taken a half-hearted approach here, one that should be met with collective contempt and great suspicion.  He hasn’t earned anyone’s respect on this.

What does it say about him that even his own children don’t agree with his outdated views on gays and gay marriage?  As he notes, “that generation in the west simply does not comprehend opposition on these issues.”

Knowing their father’s long history of hateful anti-gay bigotry, it’s not difficult to understand why.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 30, 2014
1:57 a.m.

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Published in: on June 30, 2014 at 1:58 am  Comments (3)  

World Cup 2014 Doppelgangers

English Captain Steven Gerrard

Ricky Gervais

Italian striker Mario Balotelli

Robbie Sinclair from TV’s Dinosaurs

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez

A young Arnold Schwarzenegger

Algerian defender Rafik Halliche

WWE superstar Wade Barrett

Greek striker Lazaros Christodoulopoulos

Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson

American goalkeeper Tim Howard

Rapper/Actor Common

Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje

A young Mr. T

(Photos taken from telegraph.co.uk, zap2it.com, express.co.uk, dailyoftheday.com, dailymail.co.uk, zimbio.com, stu-bennett.com, the-void.co.uk, nndb.com, bossop.wordpress.com, edgecastcdn.net, gettyimages.com and andrewkardon.com.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
3:19 a.m.

UPDATE:

Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli

Comedian Jim Breuer

(Photos taken from wikimedia.org and wc.arizona.edu.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
6:08 p.m.

Published in: on June 25, 2014 at 3:19 am  Comments (1)  

9 Public Figures Who Rightly Opposed The Second Iraq War (Part Three)

7. Rep. Ron Paul

While there were dozens of Democrats who were publicly against the Bush Administration’s war plans, there were even fewer Republicans who agreed with them. This outspoken Libertarian from Texas was the most outspoken one.

In late February 2002, many months before Washington would vote on authorizing the invasion, Congressman Paul wrote this excellent piece for CounterPunch.org.  Among his standout comments:

“All we hear about in the biased media is the need to eliminate Saddam Hussein, with little regard for how this, in itself, might totally destabilize the entire Middle East and Central Asia. It could, in fact, make the Iraq ‘problem’ much worse.”

“…it is rarely pointed out that the CIA has found no evidence whatsoever that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”

“Rarely do we hear that Iraq has never committed any aggression against the United States. No one in the media questions our aggression against Iraq for the past 12 years by continuous bombing and imposed sanctions responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children.

“Iraq’s defense of her homeland can hardly be characterized as aggression against those who rain bombs down on them. We had to go over 6,000 miles to pick this fight against a third-world nation with little ability to defend itself.”

“Could it be that only through war and removal of certain governments we can maintain control of the oil in this region? Could it be all about oil, and have nothing to do with US national security?”

“It seems that Tony Blair’s approval is more important than the approval of the American people!”

“Only tyrants can take a nation to war without the consent of the people. The planned war against Iraq without a Declaration of War is illegal. It is unwise because of many unforeseen consequences that are likely to result. It is immoral and unjust, because it has nothing to do with US security and because Iraq has not initiated aggression against us.

“We must understand that the American people become less secure when we risk a major conflict driven by commercial interests and not constitutionally authorized by Congress. Victory under these circumstances is always elusive, and unintended consequences are inevitable.”

Eleven years later, after a couple of failed runs for President, Paul retired from political office after 16 years in the House Of Representatives.

8. Al Gore

On September 23, 2002, the former Vice President delivered a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.  Like his fellow Democrats, which included Russ Feingold & Ted Kennedy, he openly opposed the idea of America invading Saddam Hussein’s sovereign land, particularly without the support of the United Nations, among many other reservations:

“…I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.”

“The foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of what may lie before it. Such consideration is all the more important because of the Administration’s failure thus far to lay out an assessment of how it thinks the course of a war will run – even while it has given free run to persons both within and close to the administration to suggest that this will be an easy conquest. Neither has the Administration said much to clarify its idea of what is to follow regime change or of the degree of engagement it is prepared to accept for the United States in Iraq in the months and years after a regime change has taken place.”

“The problem with [the Bush doctrine of] preemption is that in the first instance it is not needed in order to give the United States the means to act in its own defense against terrorism in general or Iraq in particular…the doctrine is presented in open-ended terms, which means that if Iraq if the first point of application, it is not necessarily the last. In fact, the very logic of the concept suggests a string of military engagements against a succession of sovereign states: Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran, etc., wherever the combination exists of an interest in weapons of mass destruction together with an ongoing role as host to or participant in terrorist operations. It means also that if the Congress approves the Iraq resolution just proposed by the Administration it is simultaneously creating the precedent for preemptive action anywhere, anytime this or any future president so decides.”

“Far more damaging, however, is the Administration’s attack on fundamental constitutional rights. The idea that an American citizen can be imprisoned without recourse to judicial process or remedies, and that this can be done on the say-so of the President or those acting in his name, is beyond the pale.”

“If what America represents to the world is leadership in a commonwealth of equals, then our friends are legion; if what we represent to the world is empire, then it is our enemies who will be legion.”

“President Bush now asserts that we will take pre-emptive action even if we take the threat we perceive is not imminent. If other nations assert the same right then the rule of law will quickly be replaced by the reign of fear…An unspoken part of this new doctrine appears to be that we claim this right for ourselves – and only for ourselves. It is, in that sense, part of a broader strategy to replace ideas like deterrence and containment with what some in the administration [call] ‘dominance.'”

“What this doctrine does is to destroy the goal of a world in which states consider themselves subject to law, particularly in the matter of standards for the use of violence against each other. That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.”

Would Gore have felt this way if he had won the 2000 election instead of Bush?  We’ll never know.  Regardless, twelve years after making this important speech, he looks a hell of a lot wiser than everyone in Bush’s Administration.

9. Pope John Paul II

There are many reasons to criticize this now-deceased Polish Pope.  Opposing the Iraq invasion is not one of them.

In his annual written address released to the public in January 2003, the then-leader of the Catholic Church wrote briefly but bluntly about his views about war in general & the Iraq conflict specifically:

“‘NO TO WAR’! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences. I say this as I think of those who still place their trust in nuclear weapons and of the all-too-numerous conflicts which continue to hold hostage our brothers and sisters in humanity…And what are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than twelve years of embargo? War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations. As the Charter of the United Nations Organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations.”

Amen.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 23, 2014
3:14 a.m.

Published in: on June 23, 2014 at 3:14 am  Comments (2)  

9 Public Figures Who Rightly Opposed The Second Iraq War (Part Two)

4. Michael Moore

At the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards, the comedic documentarian/activist won the Best Documentary Feature gong for Bowling For Columbine.  During his acceptance speech, he took the opportunity to forcefully criticize President Bush:

“We have a fictitious President, who was put in office with fictitious results and he’s now conducting a war for fictitious reasons.

This is absolutely insane. The lesson for the children of Columbine this week is that violence is an accepted means to resolve a conflict and it’s a sad, sick and immoral lesson.”

The very next night, in front of a much larger TV audience, while accepting the Oscar in the same category for the same movie, he essentially said the same thing while adding, “…we are against this war, Mr. Bush.  Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.”

It drew a decidedly mixed reaction as a large number of boos competed with a few cheers to drown out his words.

Weeks later, celebrities who supported the Iraq invasion, voiced their disapproval of Moore’s comments publicly.  As Moore himself noted later on, when he walked off-stage, someone screamed “Asshole!” right in his ear.  Years later, that same guy apologized to him personally and admitted Moore’s opposition to the war was right.

I wonder if any of those pro-war celebrities did the same thing.

5. Rep. Barbara Lee

Politicians are generally a gutless bunch, so it’s always a surprise when an elected official breaks from the pack on principle, especially during a national crisis.  Such was the case with this California Congresswoman, the only American politician to vote against The Patriot Act, in 2002.

In a statement publicly released on August 21, 2002, which you can still read on her website, Democratic Rep. Lee noted the following:

“I have been deeply worried about the expansion and escalation of military action since Congress’s vote last September to grant the President such sweeping war making authority…Now, with rising calls from members of the Bush Administration and some members of Congress demanding war with Iraq and increasingly dangerous rhetoric from the President himself, those fears are becoming a reality.”

“We have seen no evidence tying Iraq to the atrocities of September 11th…”

“Today, we are at a critical crossroads and there has been far too little honest and open debate about where our policies should go from here.”

“A U.S. invasion of Iraq escalating and expanding conflict in the Middle East without constitutional authority, international support, or legal justification would represent a tragedy of immense proportions. Members of Congress must stand up and oppose this dangerous course of action and work to promote a policy that advances real U.S. security interests through renewed U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq and engagement rather than invasion.”

As a result many months later, Rep. Lee, whose view has remained unchanged in the 12 years that have followed, voted against the Iraq War authorization.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, supported it.  Remember that if she runs for President in 2016.

6. Senator Russ Feingold

In October 2002, the then-Senator of Wisconsin took to the floor of the Senate to make a long speech, later posted on Antiwar.com, to explain why he was opposing the Iraq invasion:

“They have not yet met the important burden to persuade Congress and the American people that we should invade Iraq at this time.”

“Both in terms of the justifications for an invasion and in terms of the mission and the plan for the invasion, Mr. President, the Administration’s arguments just don’t add up.  They don’t add up to a coherent basis for a new major war in the middle of our current challenging fight against the terrorism of al Qaeda and related organizations.  Therefore, I cannot support the resolution for the use of force before us.”

“…this could well represent a disturbing change in our overall foreign and military policy.  This includes grave concerns about what such a preemption-plus policy will do to our relationship with our allies, to our national security, and to the cause of world peace in so many regions of the world, where such a doctrine could trigger very dangerous actions with really very minimal justification.”

“…Mr. President, I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time…when the Administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its urgency.”

“I’m talking about the spectacle of the President and senior Administration officials citing a purported connection to al Qaeda one day, weapons of mass destruction the next day, Saddam Hussein’s treatment of his own people on another day, and then on some days the issue of Kuwaiti prisoners of war.”

“…the Administration appears to use 9-11 and the language of terrorism and the connection to Iraq too loosely, almost like a bootstrap.”

“An invasion of Iraq in the next few weeks or months could in fact be very counterproductive.  In fact, it could risk our national security.”

“In any event, I oppose this resolution because of the continuing unanswered questions, including the very important questions about what the mission is here, what the nature of the operation will be, what will happen concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as the attack proceeds and afterward, and what the plan is after the attack is over.”

“What if there is chaos in the wake of the regime’s fall that provides new opportunities for nonstate actors, including terrorist organizations, to bid on the sinister items tucked away in Iraq?”

“…as far as I can tell, the Administration apparently intends to wing it when it comes to the day after or, as others have suggested, the decade after.  And I think, Mr. President, that makes no sense at all.”

“I am concerned that the President is pushing us into a mistaken and counterproductive course of action.  Instead of this war being crucial on the war on terrorism, I fear it could have the opposite effect.”

Eight years later, after almost two decades in the Senate, Feingold was voted out of office.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 23, 2014
3:00 a.m.

Published in: on June 23, 2014 at 3:00 am  Comments (2)  

9 Public Figures Who Rightly Opposed The Second Iraq War (Part One)

In the face of such mass hostility, in a suffocating political climate where honourable dissent was neither welcome nor considered patriotic, it took a brave, principled human being, particularly one in a position of prominence, to publicly challenge the increasingly arrogant status quo.

When the George W. Bush Administration commenced its global sales pitch to invade Iraq in 2002, misplaced fear & overly rosy projections for its success helped make it happen.  If only they had heeded the prescient warnings of these 9 wrongly maligned individuals, America would not be in the horrific, never ending mess it finds itself in today:

1. Eric Margolis

Mocked by his fellow columnists, Peter Worthington & Bob McDonald, in the opinion pages of The Toronto Sun for not climbing aboard the warmongering wagon – they falsely claimed he was “pro-Saddam” – this New York-based foreign affairs journalist wrote a foolishly ignored editorial for the debut October 2002 edition of The American Conservative.

Some key passages:

“The Bush administration is clearly obsessed with Iraq, but it has no clear plan on what to do with this Mideast version of ex-Yugoslavia once America’s military might overthrows Saddam Hussein’s regime. Nor is there understanding of how invasion and occupation will affect the Fertile Crescent, America’s client Arab regimes, Turkey, indeed, the entire Mideast.”

“Much of the Bush administration’s current view of the region has been fashioned by neoconservatives…Few of these armchair warriors have even been to Iraq; less have ever served in U.S. armed forces, yet all are eager to send American soldiers to fight a potentially bloody war whose benefits to the United States are doubtful.”

“The United States was a close ally, financial backer, and provider of arms and intelligence to Saddam in the 1980s. He is certainly not eager to face an American invasion that would bring his own demise, and would therefore welcome a diplomatic escape from the dire fate he faces.”

“…there are a host of arguments to be made why such aggression would be inimical to America’s interests. First and foremost, the substantial loss of American lives…in what inevitably would be a conflict fought out in urban areas where U.S. firepower and technology would be attenuated.”

“Though U.S. forces could quickly defeat Iraq’s regular army in the field, there is a high risk of prolonged urban guerilla warfare and great numbers of civilian casualties.”

“Waves of anti-Americanism would intensify across the Muslim world, jeopardizing American diplomats, businessmen, and tourists. The costs of an invasion of Iraq using at least 100,000 troops would begin at $75 billion and soar from there. Reserves will have to be mobilized.”

“When Saddam falls, Iraq will almost certainly splinter…The only leader who could hold the nation together was the iron-fisted Saddam.”

“The cost of permanently garrisoning Iraq will strain America’s already overstretched armed forces and make them less effective in responding to a genuine threat elsewhere…”

“…in the long run, the cost of protecting oil installations and a puppet regime in Baghdad will exceed profits gained from pumping stolen oil. Bush is wrong if he thinks Iraq can be turned into another docile American protectorate, like Kuwait or Bahrain.

The Muslim world increasingly views George Bush’s America as set on a crusade against Muslims everywhere, a view reinforced by U.S. attacks on Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Afghanistan over past two decades.

There is simply no political benefit for the United States in invading Iraq.

On the contrary, such an act of brazen aggression would summon up a host of unforeseen dangers and unimagined consequences that could destabilize the Mideast and Turkey, create a world economic crisis, and, perhaps, cause the aggressive Bush Administration to commit an act of imperial overreach that permanently injures America’s geopolitical interests and, let us not forget, its moral integrity.”

By the way, Margolis was fired by The Sun in 2010.  McDonald died in 2006 while Worthington passed away last year.

2. Senator Ted Kennedy

In September 2002, the longtime Democratic Senator from Massachusetts delivered an important speech at a Washington, D.C. educational institution.  While urging the removal of politics on both sides when discussing Iraq, he made it plain where he stood:

“I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted.”

“It is possible to love America while concluding that is not now wise to go to war.  The standard that should guide us is especially clear when lives are on the line: We must ask what is right for country and not party.”

“…the Administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, pre-emptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary.

Nor has the Administration laid out the cost in blood and treasure of this operation.

With all the talk of war, the Administration has not explicitly acknowledged, let alone explained to the American people, the immense post-war commitment that will be required to create a stable Iraq.”

“A largely unilateral American war that is widely perceived in the Muslim world as untimely or unjust could worsen not lessen the threat of terrorism. War with Iraq before a genuine attempt at inspection and disarmament, or without genuine international support — could swell the ranks of Al Qaeda sympathizers and trigger an escalation in terrorist acts.”

“I have heard no persuasive evidence that Saddam is on the threshold of acquiring the nuclear weapons he has sought for more than 20 years.

And the Administration has offered no persuasive evidence that Saddam would transfer chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization…a case has not been made to connect Al Qaeda and Iraq.

To the contrary, there is no clear and convincing pattern of Iraqi relations with either Al Qaeda or the Taliban.”

“If we embark upon a premature or unilateral military campaign against Iraq, or a campaign only with Britain, our forces will have to serve in even greater numbers, for longer periods, and with graver risks. Our force strength will be stretched even thinner.”

According to this Huffington Post remembrance of the Senator, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009, there was barely any mention of this speech in the American mainstream media at the time of its delivery.  Truly disgraceful.

3. Then-Senator Barack Obama

As President, he hasn’t exactly been a dove when it comes to American foreign policy, including Iraq itself.  In fact, his position wasn’t much different as a State Senator in Illinois.  During a famous speech on October 2, 2002, he claimed, “I don’t oppose all wars.”  Except one:

“What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”

“That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”

“…I…know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors…that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained…I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East…”

“We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly.”

I miss Senator Obama.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 23, 2014
2:48 a.m.

Published in: on June 23, 2014 at 2:48 am  Comments (2)  

Edge Of Tomorrow

Remember Groundhog Day, the delightfully inventive Harold Ramis comedy about a self-absorbed TV weatherman who relives the same 24 hours over and over again until he becomes a much warmer human being?  Its winning premise gets blatantly recycled in the derivative science fiction action thriller Edge Of Tomorrow.

Tom Cruise plays a former ad-man turned TV military propagandist who is suddenly summoned to London, England for a private meeting with Brendan Gleeson, a typically gruff British general.  For image purposes, Cruise, who has never been properly trained for combat, is ordered to join the frontlines of a global war against a large group of mysteriously invading aliens nicknamed Mimics.  Imagine flying mechanical octopi hurtling at you at breakneck speeds.

With permission from his American superiors, Gleeson orders a supremely reluctant Cruise to join Bill Paxton and his misfit soldiers as they lead the charge against a band of these ruthless intergalactic warriors in a theatre set on a French beach.  He wants no part of it.  Thinking he’s successfully talked his way out of going (he warns Gleeson that he could easily bury him on TV for how badly the war is going), Cruise leaves the General’s office believing he’s in the clear.

Calling his bluff, Gleeson then orders his arrest and following a brief, foolhardy escape attempt (which concludes with a dreaded tazing), the demoted Cruise (the former Major is now a Private) ends up awakening at Heathrow Airport (now a makeshift air force base) where he’s immediately met with hostility.  (Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cinematic military officer not referred to as a “maggot” for once?)

Despite pleading his case to the colourful Paxton, he’s stuck.  (It doesn’t help matters that he’s repeatedly referred to as a deserter.)  Like his fellow soldiers, when the time comes he has to climb into some sort of weaponized mechanical suit to fight but because he’s had zilcho training, he can’t perform basic functions like taking the safety off.

In the film’s best scene, the aliens eagerly disrupt the arrival of Paxton & company’s aircraft by blasting a hole in it before the men & one woman can safely drop down on wires that seem preposterously sturdier than the ship itself.

As these multi-legged creatures waste away extra after extra, including all of Paxton’s soldiers, in a wonderfully chaotic sequence, a terrified Cruise briefly spots The Angel Of Verdun (a miscast Emily Blunt), a Jessica Lynch-type soldier referred to on one double decker bus advertisement as Full Metal Bitch.  (What a great B-movie title that would make.)  Before being thrown into the muck, he was selling her uncommon bravery on cable news channels like CNN.

Unfortunately, before getting to her, he gets killed by a Mimic he simultaneously executes.

Immediately afterward, however, he suddenly finds himself very much alive at Heathrow again after awakening from this horrible nightmare.  He’s even more perplexed when he relives the exact same moments he already experienced including his ill-fated combat mission.

Like Bill Murray’s weatherman in Groundhog Day, Cruise is a slow learner.  He makes mistake after mistake after mistake before improving his skills and advancing further into the day he’s being forced to repeat, sometimes making different choices which lead to different scenarios.  And every time he expires, he’s right back at Heathrow getting called a maggot again.  Considering how many times he goes through this process, he must have a boundless appetite for tedium.

This gimmick, which was employed so much more effectively in the Ramis film, eventually grows tired.  The attempts at humour are particularly weak.  At a certain point, you start to wonder if this would make a better video game.

Inevitably, Cruise reaches Blunt and learns why he’s caught in this formulaic time loop.  It turns out she knows exactly what he’s going through.

Like every other alien invasion movie, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds against humanity surviving potential extinction there is a way to destroy the extra-terrestrial threat without having to waste so much ammo.  This time, the hunt is on for a giant energy ball called an Omega that keeps the aliens powerful and whose secret location can only be known through visions that only Cruise can see after he jabs a multi-needled device into his leg.  But of course.

However, finding and destroying that throbbing energy ball is no easy task since the Mimics are masters of psychological warfare.  For example, as Blunt explains to Cruise, her much celebrated valor during a battle in Verdun, France only happened because the aliens let it happen.  They want humans to delude themselves into thinking they’re winning before they lower the boom on them.

Groundhog Day isn’t the only film Edge Of Tomorrow shamelessly steals from.  From The War Of The Worlds to imitators like Independence Day and the more recent Battle: Los Angeles (which has a similar news montage opening) to Aliens, it is deathly afraid of originality.

It’s also completely disinterested in properly developing its mostly forgettable characters.  With the notable exceptions of Paxton & Gleeson, who do fine character work as two of Cruise’s military antagonists, no one really stands out.  The J-Squad are basically rejected first drafts of the doomed marines we cared more for in Aliens.  And ultimately, the Mimics, beyond their clever tactics, are just bland special effects waiting to be extinguished.

The ageless Cruise does what he can with a thin character who evolves rather predictably, a coward who gradually morphs into an all-knowing hero thanks to countless do-overs.  And Blunt, better known for her period pieces & romantic comedies, is decidedly unworthy of the Full Metal Bitch moniker.  Was the grittier Angelina Jolie unavailable?

One scene perfectly sums up the disappointing emptiness of this movie.  At one point, while still in London, Cruise has a drink in a local pub.  A couple of old fogies are talking about what these Mimics are actually looking for.  “Minerals,” opines one.

Cruise responds with a question:  “What difference does it make?”

Exactly.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, June 20, 2014
2:20 a.m.

Published in: on June 20, 2014 at 2:20 am  Comments (1)