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Best Music Videos for the US Elections

I have tuned out of the Republican presidential debates. Too much pandering, too much silly campaign rhetoric. I wrote about their statements on Europe, for instance in Gingrich, Romney rely on Eurobashing to "define their America" and "Europe" is a Dirty Word in the United States. I do, however, tune into official and unoffical campaign music videos.

Here are my three favorites so far in this election cycle: The best music video for a presidential candidate (Rick Santorum), the best video against a presidential candidate (Newt Gingrich), and the most bizarre one from a (former) candidate (Herman Cain).

1. While I don't agree with Rick Santorum's political views, I consider this the best music video for a presidential candidate. It helps me to better understand why so many Americans like him and why his campaign is so successful at the moment. The music video "Game On" by the band First Love, praises Rick Santorum's stands on faith, abortion, and manufacturing:

Continue reading "Best Music Videos for the US Elections"

California: Today Gay Marriage, Tomorrow Meteors and Volcanoes

The California Supreme Court made a 4-3 decision this week that will legalize gay marriage in California, most likely effective within 30 days.  As reported by the New York Times:
This decision will give Americans the lived experience that ending exclusion from marriage helps families and harms no one,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, who noted that same-sex marriages were legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain.
The timing of this action, coming only months before the US presidential elections in November, have led to speculation on whether or not it will hurt the Democratic nominee.  Alex Altman wrote an article in Time Magazine asking, “Will Gay Marriage Help the GOP?”:
California Republicans are hoping that history will prove instructive. After Massachusetts became the first state to codify marriage equality in 2003, the G.O.P. spent the ensuing general election wielding the issue as a potent weapon. Thirteen states passed ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage — including Ohio, the battleground that tipped the 2004 election in George W. Bush's favor. Opponents of gay marriage in California have generated more than 1 million signatures to place on November ballots an initiative amending the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Kai Stinchcombe, a PhD candidate in political science at Stanford University, and a very good friend of mine, created the popular Facebook group Gay Marriage Killed the Dinosaurs.  In his thoughtful analysis, Kai identifies 17 reasons gay marriage should remain illegal: Continue reading "California: Today Gay Marriage, Tomorrow Meteors and Volcanoes"

More Mosques => New Atlanticism?

Viola Herms Drath writes about some kind of new Atlanticism in The Washington Times (via James Joyner in Outside the Beltway):

The dawn of a New Alanticism comes as a welcome surprise. After years of benign neglect, European leaders who are energetic and emancipated Atlanticists in Germany, France and England are ready to shoulder new responsibilities outside their borders. Based on their appraisal of terrorist threats and the Middle East quagmire as immediate danger to world peace and Western civilization, these newly elected politicians are shifting political gears. Activated by the number of mosques rising on their soils, failing integration policies and the radicalization of young Muslims, leaders in the three major European nations promise, at long last, new geostrategic horizons benefiting partners on both sides of the Atlantic: a New Atlanticism - reviving the spirit of the West.

I am skeptical whether there will be that much more transatlantic cooperation and less disagreements on crucial security issues, but I like the author's use of the term "emancipated Atlanticists," which gives a realistic understanding of recent changes.

Though, I strongly disagree with Viola Herms Drath's assessment that that the increase in mosques has "activated" this spirit of Atlanticism in Germany, France and Britain. Perhaps the author hopes that (radical) Islam will serve as the new enemy that unites the West as the Soviet Union has done in the past. It's not gonna happen. A rising number of mosques in Europe will not convince any European government to send troops to Iraq or support air strikes on Iran or promise any other "new geostrategic horizons."

Europeans can learn a lot from Americans about how to integrate people with diverse backgrounds and religions, but that has nothing to do with Atlanticism.

Related Atlantic Review posts on the Eurabia myth: International Conference about the Collapse of Europe

Iranian TV Airs Jewish-Muslim Love Story

"The wildly popular show is a heart-wrenching tale of European Jews during World War II," writes Farnaz Fassihi in the Wall Street Journal:
The hour-long drama, "Zero Degree Turn," centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian Jews to their homeland. (...)
Iran is home to some 25,000 Jews, the largest population in the Middle East outside of Israel. Iran's Jews -- along with Christians and Zorastrians -- are guaranteed equal rights in the country's constitution. Iran's Jews are guaranteed one member of parliament and are free to study Hebrew in school, pray in synagogues and shop at kosher supermarkets. Despite Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements, it isn't government policy to question the Holocaust, and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hasn't endorsed those views.
Wow, I did not expect this from Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to be honest.
Meanwhile,
The Heathlander shows US cartoons "demonising Iran."

Scientology: Tom Cruise Banned from Filming in Berlin?

A fierce controversy has arisen since Germany’s defense ministry allegedly banned Tom Cruise from filming on certain locations in Berlin. Cruise is to act Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the German Reichswehr officer who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20th1944. The reason for not allowing Cruise into the government building called “Bendlerblock”, according to a spokesman of the ministry: Mr Cruise having “publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult”.
This is as quoted by Antje Blumenthal, a member of parliament and expert for sect issues in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party – and that’s part of the crux. As it turns out (link is in German), the producers haven’t even asked for permission to film anywhere yet; also, the location in question might not fall under the jurisdiction of the ministry of defense, but of the ministry of finance. So a (possibly overzealous) politician talked a (possibly naïve) ministry official into promising something that does sound to many as religious discrimination or even persecution. [see the lively debate on Atlantic Review]
Needless to say, accusations of religious persecution cast a poor light on us Germans, perpetrators of the Holocaust – of all peoples. Comparisons with the Nazi regime are abound on the internet; Stauffenberg’s son is being quoted in newspapers all over the world:  “It’s bound to be rubbish […] He should keep his hands off my father.”; whole interview in the original German; hints are being dropped of Berlin losing millions of Euros and 500 jobs of the movie were to be filmed elsewhere – in short: a “bureaucratic farce” turned into a political scandal.

While Scientology is officially recognized as a religion and enjoys tax-free status in the US, the German government considers it a profit-making organization and a dangerous cult, which is under surveillance of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s internal intelligence service. The US government has repeatedly criticized Germany for their “discrimination” of certain religious groups, including Scientology; they consider Germany’s handling of the controversial American organization as human rights infringement, e.g. in their 2005 human rights report.
So should we, as Time Magazine suggests, simply “ agree to disagree” on the issue? I’d say no. This incident has raised a couple of questions that should be addressed.
1. For the benefit of all people around the globe, both countries should take the lead in making transparent what Scientology is all about and how it should be treated.
2. Disagreements over Scientology have overshadowed German-American relations for too long already. We shouldn’t let any private organization, may it be a reputable church or a dubious sect, divide us.
3. Most importantly: Both our countries could do with an honest, open debate about religious freedom and the separation of church and state, cornerstones of our respective constitutions and shared values of our civilization. It’s never easy to get it right.

"Europe's Christian Comeback"

Apparently the Eurabia myth is so popular in the US that Foreign Policy saw the need to let Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Penn State University, argue against it:
Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. The West is awash with fear of the Islamization of Europe.
The entire "West" or just parts of the United States?
The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.
I am surprised that a history professor considers it necessary to reassure the smart and educated readers of an American foreign policy magazine that Europe is not "on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony."
Related post in the Atlantic Review: International Conference about the Collapse of Europe

Cost of Current US Wars: "$400 for Every Minute Since Jesus Christ was Born"

Radar Online features the "Jesus Christ's Superstars: America's holiest congressmen." Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) made the top 3 [HT: Marian]:
C-Span junkies know that the longest-serving and oldest current senator has a habit of peppering his meandering speeches with biblical references, noting once that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to "$400 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born."