While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is arguing for the swift implementation of democracy in Egypt, Turkish police officers are still using violent force to disperse protestors attempting to defy an order to close the park in Takism Square. Erdogan’s call for democracy comes after a military coup saw Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, ousted. On Monday, Istanbul Gov. Huseyin Avni Mutlu announced the reopening of Gezi Park, three weeks after riot police kicked the protestors out in an effort, if violent force dare be called an effort, to end the protests -- only for the park to be closed again hours later when protest leaders called an evening rally. But speaking on Egypt, Erdogan said:
The New York Times editorial board has written a pretty much true piece on the "turmoil" going on in Turkey, saying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had "many opportunities over the last three weeks to resolve the political crisis in Turkey peacefully and quickly. However, with almost every statement and directive[,] he has made the situation worse, increasing concerns at home and abroad over his authoritarian tendencies and Turkey's future as a democratic model in the Muslim world." I have no great umbrage to take with the piece; I agree with it. But if I may, I'm going to be a smidge nit-picky, and it has to do with this bit here: "Mr. Erdogan has worked hard to promote Turkey as a democracy aligned with the United States and Europe. Yet he is now intimidating the local news media, attacking the international news media, making veiled anti-Semitic remarks and suggesting that undefined 'foreign forces' are behind the unrest."
It was the playwright and first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, who said we inhabit a system “in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.” And the late journalist Michael Hastings, who died Tuesday in a car accident in Los Angeles, was physical representation of that truth. If his writings didn’t prove mightier than 10 military divisions, it was enough to at least bring down the career of a military general -- and piss off other high-up government officials, including an aide to the secretary of state.
Even before the rise of Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill warned of the danger of the Nazis, only to be fought at every turn by the British government. What Churchill had foreshadowed became reality as one by one Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and France had fallen under Nazi control. In the spring of 1940, Britain was the last one standing, the last barricade to all of Europe being under Hitler’s full control. The man leading Britain onto the battlefield was Churchill, who had been prime minister all of six weeks. As the threat of invasion encroached from a Nazi-occupied France, Churchill, on this day 73 years ago, gave what historians have called one of the greatest speeches -- the “finest hour” speech of June 18, 1940 -- ever delivered in the English language.
Just when I thought I couldn’t like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie more, this bit of pure awesome happened. Christie appeared on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on Wednesday night to “slow-jam the news.” Bobbing his head to the music of the “Late Night” house band, Christie talked about his controversial call to hold a special election on Oct. 16 to replace the recently deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg. There was also mention of whether he will run for the presidency in 2016 and, of course, his size, despite his recent weight loss. Calling the governor “Christie Crème Doughnut,” Fallon sings that when “the Love Gov sits around the House of Representatives, he really sits around the House of Representatives.” Christie trying not to laugh throughout is delightful.
George Orwell’s “1984” has recently made it onto Amazon’s bestsellers list -- with sales booming -- and the credit belongs to our government. “Thanks to the ongoing National Security Administration surveillance scandal, George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is enjoying a surge in popularity, landing at No. 4 on Amazon’s list of ‘Movers and Shakers,’” the Los Angeles Times reported. “Sales of Orwell’s classic have risen an astonishing 5,771% as of Tuesday morning, with a current sales rank of 213, up from 12,507 just a few days ago. A different editing has even made it onto Amazon’s top 100 bestsellers list. It’s a nice birthday present for the 1949 novel, which marked its 64th anniversary on June 8 amid revelations that made Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ seem more relevant than ever.” I suppose readers need the reminder that, as Orwell wrote, nothing is your own “except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.”
In a fantastic wrap-up outlining the underlying resentment behind Turkey's protests, The Economist addresses what it calls "The New Young Turks." More than the razing of a tree-lined park in Taksim Square's Gezi Park to make way for a shopping center, Turks are discontent with an increasingly oppressive status quo. Many have noted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's -- and his Islamist rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP -- infringements on personal liberties -- from his restrictions on alcohol, to a ban on red lipstick for flight attendants, to stifling the press, etc., etc.
Imran Firasat, a Pakistani Muslim-turned-Christian, has, to put it lightly, endured quite a bit for exercising his right of freedom of expression, namely his right to speak out against Islam. Firasat, who converted to Christianity in 2004, said the reason he left Islam was because he “realized that what I was following for 26 years of my life is not a religion but in reality is a political dictatorship which persecutes and teaches to persecute through the orders and teaching of a self-proclaimed prophet (Muhammad).”
Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday she won't seek re-election for her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In a video message, Bachmann, who ran for the Republican presidential nominations last year, emphasized that her standing down didn't have anything to do with the investigation into the activities of her presidential campaign staff, or concerns she would be defeated for the Minnesota seat in 2014. And for the Tea Party Patriots, or TPP, the country's largest tea party organization, she will be sorely missed.
For those who believe Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing a religious agenda, Friday’s passing of legislation banning the advertising of alcohol, and the time it can be purchased, has provided more fodder. Passed through Turkish Parliament as a measure to reduce the harm of booze on young people, the ban, as Haaretz wrote, thereby restricts the sale to adults, too. Clause 58 of the Turkish Constitution, as Erdogan cited, says that “the state will take the steps necessary to protect its youth from addiction to alcohol, drugs, crime and gambling.”
The world-renowned Turkish pianist, Fazil Say, who was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence in April for insulting Islam in a series of tweets, is still talking out. In a video viewed by the International Federation for Human Rights, or FIDH, in Istanbul on May 23, Say expressed concerns for freedom of speech in his country. "We have been going through a harsh period in Turkey, as those trying to gain power through the exploitation of religion oppresses the people. It is worrisome for all of us as a particularly powerful ruling party makes politics over the religions and sets aside the people," he said.
As a few in the Twitter world have noted, when the New York Times editorial board writes a piece blasting President Barack Obama’s administration, and supports Fox News, you know you’ve done something wrong. Citing the FBI’s specific targeting of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a 2009 leak investigation, NYT wrote: “With the decision to label a Fox News television reporter a possible ‘co-conspirator’ in a criminal investigation of a news leak, the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”
National Review has a story today raising the prospect of President Barack Obama being impeached for his administration's response to the attack in Benghazi. Saying that the administration "purposefully and willfully misled the American people," Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told National Review that impeachment calls are likely to increase as frustration over the administration's reticence grows among House Republicans. Chaffetz also aired the concern that White House staffers, in an attempt to keep the president from being judged too harshly, are hiding documents regarding the president's decisions on the attack, and the attack itself.
It’s been quite the busy week for President Barack Obama and his administration. There have been the conflicting reports about the Benghazi incident, the Justice Department’s nabbing of phone records -- both personal and private -- of AP reporters and editors, and the IRS singling out conservative groups. Put simply, scandal has been the word of the week. The president has also been compared to another scandal-plagued president, Richard Nixon. Naturally, there has been some dissenting opinion on the matter. Here are a few of them.
National Review’s Kevin Williamson Wednesday had a very beautiful post on getting thrown out of a theater after he chucked the cell phone of an obnoxious fellow attendee. And it has everyone calling him a hero, and for good reason: Because it’s awesome. “The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: ‘So don’t look.’ I asked her whether I had missed s something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her."
Attorney General Eric Holder, in an interview with NPR, once again proved just how competent he is -- not. Responding to the general fury toward his Justice Department, after it was revealed it secretly obtained two months of reporter and editor phone records from The Associated Press, including their home and cell phones, Holder said he is uncertain of how many times information has been seized by government investigators during his four-year tenure.
In a column for Bloomberg, Jeffrey Goldberg writes that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad isn't the only one crossing "red lines" today. Goldberg points out at least three instances in which President Barack Obama has crossed the line. "Obama also crossed a red line by frightening allies through indecision. The U.S. is still the greatest power in the world, and its friends look to it for leadership. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and even the U.K. and other European powers don't quite understand Obama's reluctance to get more deeply engaged in the Syrian crisis. (Note to apoplectic isolationists: Engagement doesn't have to mean armed intervention.) Allies have been lobbying for more than a year and half for Obama to provide weapons and training to the Syrian opposition, and the White House still won't commit."
As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepares to discuss his disagreements on how to approach Syria, and other vital Middle East issues with President Barack Obama on Thursday at the White House, the Gatestone Institute’s Veli Sirin has written a sort of primer on just who exactly the president will be talking with. It’s a long one, so here are some snippets, but do give it a read.
Much has been written about the media’s unwillingness to make Kermit Gosnell and his appalling abortion practices front-page news. Or even back-page news, for that matter. He is on trial for the 2009 death of a mother of three and of four babies allegedly born alive; he was initially charged with the killing of seven babies. Gosnell also faces roughly 250 lesser charges of racketeering, conspiracy and alleged violations under Pennsylvania law. The prosecution maintains that Gosnell routinely performed illegal third-term abortions.
Prompted by the public outcry against its proposed ban on flight attendants wearing red lipstick and nail polish because it "impairs visual integrity," Turkish Airlines has gone back on its intentions, Chief Executive Temel Kotil said Thursday. The public's outrage came in large part from fear that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, with its conservative religious values, was infiltrating the state-run airline -- in short, that Islamization was gaining ground in Turkey.