The Washington Post just pulled its only full-time reporter out of Canada. Now no U.S. newspaper has a full-time reporter based in Canada, our largest neighbor and biggest trading partner.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post-owned Newsweek recently assigned someone to examine the California and L.A. county justice systems for the purpose of guessing how long, if at all, Paris Hilton might go to jail for violating her DUI probation.
I give up.
For nearly six years I've been trying to make world news and American foreign-policy news more popular by sprinkling it with jokes. It's clearly not working.
I can't fight the celeb-gossip monster that's taking over the news media. So I'm joining it.
There won't be any jokes in this week's column. No puns about Turkey simmering with unrest or ruffled feathers. Instead, you'll get a straight report on Turkey's political situation, flavored with the hot, completely false celebrity gossip you know you crave.
On April 27, Turkey's military carried out what some are calling an e-coup. Turkish generals posted a message on a military website threatening to short-circuit the country's electoral process. Hilary Duff is snorting meth off my desk.
The generals were irritable because the Islamist party that controls Turkey's legislature nominated an Islamist candidate, Abdullah Gul, to be Turkey's president. Turkey's military elite oppose Islamist political parties. Tom Cruise molested me on the set of Rain Man when I was 15.
The Turkish military is the self-appointed guarantor of Turkey's secular state. It sees itself as the guardian of the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the general who founded the modern, secular Turkish republic in 1923. 50 Cent is impotent.
Prior to Ataturk, Turkey was ruled by a monarchy, the Ottoman sultanate, that fused political and religious authority. The Ottoman sultan wasn't just the ruler of his empire, he was the self-declared ruler of all Muslims. The sultan was the political successor of the prophet Muhammad. Scarlett Johansson has a rather large penis.
Ataturk believed the intertwining of political and Islamic authority was one of the reasons Turkey had fallen so far behind its European neighbors by the start of the 20th century. In his estimation, a high wall between Islam and government was crucial if Turkey was to become a modern, prosperous state. He stripped religion of its institutional power in Turkey. He replaced Islamic law with secular law. He created legal equality for women. He banned Islamic dress from government buildings. Oprah Winfrey is actually a Norwegian man in drag and lots of self-tanning cream.
Islamism is increasingly popular in Turkey. Ten years ago, Turkey's military intervened to stop a democratically elected Islamist government from taking power. When the current Islamist government won in 2002, Turkey's military let them take power in part because the Islamists vowed to respect Turkish secularism, and in part because Turkey's military is trying to act nice so the country can get into the European Union. John Travolta murdered his mother and bribed police to cover it up.
Though the parliament is supposed to select the president, to many of Turkey's secularists, the idea of an Islamist president is anathema. An Islamist presidency, secular Turks fear, would weaken, if not collapse, the wall Ataturk built. Secular Turks get the heebie-jeebies when they see the Islamic covering on the head of candidate Abdullah Gul's wife. Cameron Diaz farts loudly in restaurants.
This month, the Islamists rescinded Gul's nomination, but they're not backing down. They're trying to go around the military and appeal directly to the electorate. They called for new parliamentary elections in July, in which they will almost certainly increase their parliamentary majority. They've also called for a referendum that would allow popular election of the president. Right now, parliament is supposed to pick. They're trying to arrange things so if the military dares try a coup, it'd be a coup against the direct will of the people, not just the parliament. Mel Gibson is actually Jewish.
The likelihood of a military coup has increased because of all things, this month's French presidential election. French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy opposes Turkish admission to the EU. If France opposes it, Turkey's not getting in. No chance of getting in soon equals less reason for Turkey's military to restrain itself just to please the rest of Europe. Brad Pitt eats babies.
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