- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Islam and U.S.

“The reality is that our willingness to allow our ‘allies’ to demonize the United States in order to placate their domestic audience is a significant reason for the current U.S. challenge with radical Islam. For over a generation — since at least the Iranian Revolution in 1979 — the United States has been willing to serve a ‘safety valve’ for domestic discontent in the Muslim world. …

“In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for instance, the governments have routinely blamed unpopular policies, whether vis-a-vis Israel or the basing of American troops, on U.S. pressure. It is not a surprise, as a result, that al Qaeda … has been able to recruit so heavily in those two countries. Egypt and Saudi Arabia remained stable, U.S. allies, but the cost has been the creation of an implacable trans-national enemy determined to strike at the United States homeland. On the whole, this is probably not a positive tradeoff from a U.S. perspective.”

Bernard Finel, writing on Anti-American Posturing: The Root of All Our Problems, on April 6 at the New Atlanticist blog

Boys not in ‘Hood

“An annual parade that makes St. Paddy’s Day look sober. Enough outrageous-looking people to cure you of self-consciousness forever. And the comfort in knowing that ‘It’s Raining Men’ is playing, at any given moment, somewhere in your apartment building. This is the American gayborhood. If you’ve never been, I’m sorry to report: It’s already dead. …

“Sometimes referred to with the euphemism ‘artists,’ gays became the Marines of gentrification, storming and conquering destitute places. Then, unencumbered with the financial burden of Huggie’s, ballet classes and lunch boxes, they dropped cash. Disposable incomes turned vacant factories into lofts and abandoned lots into community gardens. …

“The gayborhoods succeeded in their fundamental mission: to offer safety, community and empowerment. But maybe they succeeded too well, because it turns out other people want that stuff too. Suddenly, everyone wanted to live there. And like avatars on Pandora, that popularity is what killed it. The rainbow flag that gays planted signaled to other assorted demographics — hipsters, liberal-leaning couples with young kids, actual artists, myself — that the neighborhood had been conquered, with flair.”

Matt Katz, writing on There Goes the Gayborhood, on April 6 at Obit magazine

Still the same

“John Cusack goes back to the ‘80s in ‘Hot Tub Time Machine,’ but in a strange way, the role is almost too perfect for him. He has never really left the 1980s. At 43, he’s still that same guy — the boyishly polite joker with the pie-eyed Jughead face and thatchy hair, the gentle kinetic irony he spreads over … everything. …

“He’s still that winsomely dour smart aleck from ‘The Sure Thing’ and ‘Better Off Dead,’ his first two big movies, both released in 1985. Only now, he has grown up, and his primary character trait is being a grownup while still clinging to that earlier, mockingly disgruntled boyish insolence. I deeply want to say that I like John Cusack … and, like everyone else, I think he ruled for all time in ‘Say Anything’ (1989). That movie, in its small-verging-on-indie way, did for Cusack what ‘The Graduate’ did for Dustin Hoffman: It exquisitely encapsulated a generational vibe in the spirit of one soulfully downbeat, quirkily confused romantic seeker. But am I the only one who wants to see Cusack change, stretch, lose (or gain) a personality trait or two?”

Owen Gleiberman, writing on John Cusack: Is it time for a gear change? Or is he trapped, forever, in the 1980s? on March 30 at the Entertainment Weekly blog, the Critics

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