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Monday, March 31, 2008

Personal Reasons

AS is on break, it appears.

I expect to be very much this week as well.

If you've ever had to make life-and-death decisions about a pet, you'll understand why. The "lion" of our house is in extremis (we think).

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Is it worse, now that his show has been canceled? Before, one could just not watch his show. Now, he shows up in segments, requiring one to actively flip the channel...

Can't the Right do better?

Get Your Haggis!

It's Scotland Week.

(h/t Izzy)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Senator Leahy, Doesn't Read This Blog ...

I take back what I said about the young (the netroots), not having the patience to wait it out.

Senator Leahy ... has just done a big favor for Hillary by turning her into an underdog, a position from which she won her Senate seat and much else besides.

Married Life ...

From Alan (husband to Brian):

B-Day Today - Dirk Bogarde

from Steven at Band of Thebes:

"After distinguished service as an intelligence officer in the Queen's Royal Regiment during World War II, Dirk Bogarde tried acting and became a huge star. He was Britain's top box office draw of the 1950s. So it was big news in 1961 when he chose to play a closeted, married gay barrister in Victim, especially considering he was closeted himself. (He and his manager Anthony Forwood lived together for decades.)"

read the rest ...

Gore Vidal on Buckley - Finally

It's everything you'd hope and more.

Pushing aside the invective and the inanity of the new mags, rightly dished up for defying gravity, the alternative view of Buckley as expertly wiley has merit.

Back to the Future

A Nixon-McGovern rerun?

The Real McCain


While Bush is back-slapping Putin, McCain is face-slapping Russia. The media are too caught up in HRC v BHO to notice, I guess.

[And people give money to this organization!]

Anyway, the real McCain:

Driven in part by his intense commitment to the Iraq war, McCain has relied more on neoconservatives such as his close friend William Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor. His chief foreign policy adviser is Randy Scheunemann, another leading neoconservative and a founder of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. McCain shares their belief in what Kristol has called "national greatness conservatism." In 1999, McCain declared: "The U.S. is the indispensable nation because we have proven to be the greatest force for good in human history. ... We have every intention of continuing to use our primacy in world affairs for humanity's benefit."

...Mr Scheunemann has accused even Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, of “appeasement” of Russia.

-The rest of this scathing takedown, by Anatol Leiven

Even today, Krauthammer is writing about "the way great powers operate". (you guessed it: American military presence is required ad infinitum ... just about everywhere there is "instability"?)

So, I have this question of McCain. Are his stated (populist?) goals of energy independence and an indefinite commitment to Iraq somehow just not a logical pair?

Reagan-Era Beautiful People Still On the Move

Joel Stein captures a slice of life, inimitably:

Allison calls up TV producers to suggest segments on stories she didn't write or edit. She functions as Star's one-person publicity department. She's also making connections in hopes of landing an on-air job at one of the channels. Her predecessor at Star, Jill Dobson, scored a gig as a Fox News Channel entertainment reporter. It is now possible to succeed at journalism without bothering with any journalisting.

Allison got her magazine job not by submitting a resume and writing samples to the editor but by having her William Morris agent call.

Read the rest for a good laugh at life in these old United States ...

Bush-Cheney Dereliction, Part II

Douthat-comma-Ross (that's the nick I use - I have one for everyone) writes:

McCain, by contrast, spoke the language of honor, duty and obligation, and cast the question of whether to leave Iraq in starkly moral terms: "To walk away from the Iraqi people ... on a fundamental level McCain's calculus is the right one

The question for John McCain, at this election, is why didn't he think about this BEFORE he voted for the Iraqi conflict?

For all his touted experience, why on earth would one enter into a potentially debilitating situation (a.k.a. a quagmire), without many of your natural allies at your side and without the key financial support enjoyed during Gulf-I, when honor itself restrains you from leaving?

Clearly, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld feel no such "honor" themselves, telling the nation that it would be better to fight al-qa'ida over there than over here. For pity's sake, where is the "honor" in that, in a formulation so horribly crass? The list of the rest of their statements along these lines are legion, for those listening for them.

Tell McCain to go to the Saudis, the Syrians, the Turks, the Israelis, the Iranians, the Japanese, the Chinese, and many others and get them to pay in full for the next five years.

Otherwise, the notion that the U.S. hasn't made maximal honorable effort already is daft, with $900+ billion already committed even under an Obama administration and another six hundred lives plus ten times that in wounded likely even for a two-year continuation ...

Bear-Stearns: Diagnosis Murder

As the bad management at Bear Stearns gets treated badly, to the tune of $61 million for the top, the rest of us need an accurate accounting, not of the Bear Stearns deal, per se, that seems to have caused some Senators to obsess, but of what really went wrong.

Only then can we fix it.

In the absence of that, all one can offer are summary suggestions.

Bashing Hillary Set to Reach New Fever Pitch


Peggy Noonan just doesn't get it (along with AS and lots of others, including George Will, William Safire, ...).

Peggy thinks everyone has blinders on, about lies.

Here, let me give an example of what I mean.

Right now, in NJ, there is a fight going on between Comcast cable and Verizon cable. In some places, Verizon is offering fiber optic to the curb ("FIOS"), which is, of course, superior to the copper wire that Comcast has.

Even with all her faults, I'd still honestly choose Hillary over anyone in the GOP field. McCain himself has flip-flopped on torture - where's the integrity? Romney? I wouldn't trust to go to the corner with a dollar for gum, least he come back with an 'explication' of some sort that it had to be spent on the military or some such. Guiliani? He doesn't equivocate, but he seems prone to keeping a blameless inner-sanctum, not unlike Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld. So...
The changeover is happening slowly, as it is really expensive (maybe even to the point of being unprofitable) for the new fiber cables to be laid.

So, what is happening in the marketplace?

Well, Comcast is out on the airwaves telling everyone that they have a fiber optic network, too. They do, but it's not really the same thing.

Such claims are probably seen as "lies" in the Verizon camp and quite maddening.

Now, I don't know all the grievances that the Safires, Wills, Noonans, and Sullivan's have - partly because they seldom list but a few - but, if they are in the realm of this category, then it seems askew to criticize Bill or Hillary for having mastered the techniques used against them, at one time.

So, Tulza is a black spot, unquestionably. Sandbagging by putting questions in the audience is a problem, to a degree. But seriously, Noonan seems to rate these as high as what Bush-Cheney have done.

Even with all her faults, I'd still honestly choose Hillary over anyone in the GOP field. McCain himself has flip-flopped on torture - where's the integrity? Romney? I wouldn't trust to go to the corner with a dollar for gum, least he come back with an 'explication' of some sort that it had to be spent on the military or some such. Guiliani? He doesn't equivocate, but he seems prone to keeping a blameless inner-sanctum, not unlike Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld.

Small Government Conservative Watch


Mystery surrounds the disbanding of the entire public corruption and environmental crimes unit...

One case on a Republican congressman, now long under 'investigation', raises eyebrows.

One never likes to sweep the unique scope of Southern political-judicial 'unseemly friendship' solely under the heading of 'Small Government Conservative Watch', but it's worth taking a moment to pause and reflect that Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has finally been released pending appeal.

This is the case in which Rove himself has been implicated, by one person, so far, in fomenting a "gotcha!" scheme. If it weren't for Rove's involvement in the U.S. Attorney's firings and what has become widely known about his historical "understanding" of the judiciary in Texas, one might not give credence to a single voice; however ...

McCain's Michigan Strategy?

The Hand of Rove?

Given Romney's C-Pac speech ("in this time of war"), it's hard to imagine, but ...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reframing the Iraqi Nation-Building Effort for Exit

This is the message that ought to be coming from the Democratic hopefuls, quite possibly.

  1. 1. Iraq is a very wealthy country. Every Iraqi citizen can share in the great oil and gas wealth that has yet to be developed.
  2. 2. Fitna is therefore the great damn that holds Iraqis back. Today's small sacrifices for peace will be repaid 1,000 fold in prosperity, surely, even within a generation.
  3. 3. America and the coalition have opened a door to Iraqis to seize their future, providing ballot box protection against tyrants and the corruption that wealth invites, but they cannot hold it open forever.

This is a short, clear message, consistent with Odierno's latest. It's moral emphasis is on individual responsibility and collective compromise for the greater good (a clear shot at any selfish clerics or shortsighted politicians).

It's far better to use the Presidential bully pulpit for this, than to tout "stay the course" for "Victory", a message that won't resonate within Iraq, etc.

GOP Continues to Allow Bush to Play Politics With War

"Victory" Enough for All?


King George "The Decider" issued yet another in a series of Administration pronouncements that Iraq has just about turned the corner toward ... "Victory!".

Here is what we get from our supposed "commander":

A year later, one year later, after we sent additional troops into Iraq, the situation has changed markedly. With security improving, local citizens have restarted the political process in their neighborhoods and cities and provinces. Let me give you an example. In Ramadi, tribal sheiks who led the uprising against al Qaeda are now leading a revival of politics. With the support of our PRTs, Ramadi now has a fully-staffed mayor's office, and neighborhood councils have formed. Judges are presiding over courts and restoring the rule of law.
That's right, five years into a conflict that our own generals say will last another five years, all we've got is an ad-hoc story about ar-Ramadi (and the soccer game indicator...).


Seriously, we are running all of U.S. foreign policy based upon snippets of data, little "stories" that supposedly represent something larger, when no evidence is presented to back up this long series of trust-me claims. How long ago was it that Tal Afar was the beacon? Mosul was supposedly cleared by The General himself, yet we are told there is more hard fighting to do there.

The only thing that has changed in the average citizen's information flow, is that we no longer have to suffer the Rumsfeldian pronouncements that amounted to all-is-going-according-to-plan ("we always said that...", "we expected that..."), except where and when Democracy is untidy.

Today, it's pretty plain that the US's foreign policy is on a best-efforts basis, nothing more. If the situation in Iraq actually supports only that, then really how much "progress" can we be happy about?


Where are our percentage completion estimates for major projects? For small ones? Where is the update from the only people who seem to have a head for actually managing the details?

No one wants to nay-say improvements. But what does it mean when we hail even expected improvements as if Iraq and Iraqis are America's prodigal sons? What does it mean when the major emotion associated with "success" is mere relief?

Same for "failure". It doesn't serve to have rosy views of the upside, nor do we need panic assessments the downside (including "the stakes" and al-qa'ida's Sword of Damocles that hangs over American non-patriots who don't toe the GOP line verbatim).


No where do we get an idea that the effort is coming to a 60% completion. All we get are a foreshadowing of the "next steps" and the factors that apparently can forestall the "success" of even the mighty, like King George (viz., Syria, the PKK, Iranian influence, al-qa'ida).

The only thing that has changed here is the face of the paper enemy that the USG is fighting today. Why hasn't King George contained or controlled for all of these elements? "Victory", afterall, he pronounced to us, was assured.

"2008 is the year of reconstruction", Bush quotes one Iraqi official. Yet, by all sober accounts, 2008 is the year of fighting corruption, perhaps both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Yes, America has deployed almost it's entire fighting force, with progress leading to re-deployment out of there contingent on stomping out corruption in the mid-east... (and drugs in Afghanistan). These are worthy goals, but ... it's really quite expensive to be World Policeman, yes?


At the time of the last National Reckoning, no one had a definitive answer to a chicken and egg sort of question: does security need to come before reconciliation, or does reconciliation need to come before security.

Like all things in the 'real world' of human interaction, the answer, based on what little we know about facts on the ground in Hobbsian Iraq, is "it depends".

There appear to be small pockets (i.e. neighborhood level) where security has produced rapprochement, alongside the realization that Iraqis themselves are destroying their country.

Yet, it seems plain also that many deeply-seated power struggles remain unresolved by peaceful means, festering, perhaps ready for one or the other party to reach into a bag of "revolutionary" tricks (a.k.a. violence).

"Overwatch" is still years away, although true facts on which to base a judgment are ... classified, for our protection, no doubt.

Hitchen's Faithless Blind

Sitting behind his faithless blind and throwing "charlatan" darts at almost anyone within an arm's throw of 'religion', Chris Hitchens somehow manages to say a lot without really concluding anything.

In three parts:

1. The Bright Lights

He seems to find great theater that Obama was smart enough to know that Wright wouldn't withstand the scrutiny of our hypocritical public purity pedestals. Unless one is part of a true political dynasty, a clan that has lived life with the intension of having every cross-section of it dissected by the demanding public eye, I suspect everyone "authentic" would find at least one person of their acquaintance not up to full muster.

The implied notion that Wright represents an astonishingly open "dirty little secret" is hardly a case the Hitch has time to make or prove, sadly, relying instead on everyone else sharing his view of what "wicked" amounts to in life.

2. A fraud

He finds Obama a near fraud in expounding his faith. Obama is indicted for succumbing to pressure to get some churchin' up. It was all expediency, since Hitchens cannot imagine any other outcome.

Hitchens has no conclusions about why these pressures or perceptions existed, or whether they matured in a way that doesn't fit with his theory. All he's got is a good first line to a paragraph, but not the rest of the book or chapter, right?

3. Conspiracy is like religion

By Hitchens, we need look no further than AIDS and drugs to discover that religion is for dolts and that makes Obama "blind".

Hitch's own "breviary" chant on drug policy in America is breathtakingly circumscribed. He seems willfully ignorant that there is a very real racial divide in America in perceptions about government drug policy.

Frankly, how far a line is it from unimaginably monstrous indifference of the majority to actually positing conspiratorial or self-serving motives? During the late 80s, in America, it was possible to believe that some folks were just content to let AIDS victims be served their fate. Many people rightly wondered whether "America", to broad stroke a catch-all term for 'the majority', would have responded differently, if it weren't gays who were among the first wave to die.

What's more, I do not have a reference, but I believe there is some evidence that certain elements of the mob targeted the black community for drug trafficking in the past. Not all 'conspiracy', either express or tacit, is without merit.

There is more to layer in. How many people have been put in jail or prosecuted and what has been the cost of Sarbannes-Oxley? A dozen? Yet, compare the shrill intensity of opposition to that law - one that "criminalized" white collar folks in new ways - to the labored intensity of the debate over drug policy, enforcement, and laws, i.e. policies that criminalize a large portion of the populace that may or may not have the 'equal opportunity' in America (or, if not 'equal opportunity', then near zero margin for failure).

Factually incorrect assertions are, of course, insupportable, but the general idea that any given minority might be anxious about the degree to which the majority recognizes that it is its brother's keeper hardly sum to mere "tribalism".

In conclusion, Hitch warns us that all BO's weaknesses are yet to be revealed. Okay. Put another way, vote for people who promise to get things done and problems fixed, not for "great men", i.e. vote progressive and keep all politicians accountable.

That's sound advice, but it doesn't need to be rooted in Jeremiah Wright to have a foundation. In fact, Hitchen's brand of anti-clerical punching-for-Truth is probably most usefully focused on those, perhaps like Dobson, who have a will to establish power, rather than a desire to empower individuals.


I'm starting to like Obama's ability to turn a phrase, enough to help me get over what I liked about Hillary's ability to grab the whole of a problem and wonk it to the ground.

Among the recent candidates:

  • "A victory for commonsense." : On the aptness of a resource-constrained nation-building effort, eschewing language about a 'victory' for al-qa'ida.
  • "The you're-on-your-own society" : Commenting on the grate beneath George Bush's "Ownership Society"
  • "We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales"

We know that the GOP are going to try to savage Obama with the label "liberal", that they have tried so hard to turn into a pejorative in America. But, looking at BO's speech from today, I suspect they will get as good as they give, as he seems to be up to the challenge rhetorically about as well as was JFK:

...the core of our economic success is the fundamental truth that each American does better when all Americans do better; that the well being of American business, its capital markets, and the American people are aligned.

I think all of us here today would acknowledge that we've lost that sense of shared prosperity.

This loss has not happened by accident. It's because of decisions made in boardrooms, on trading floors and in Washington. Under Republican and Democratic Administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both.


in our 21st century economy, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. The decisions made in New York's high-rises have consequences for Americans across the country. And whether those Americans can make their house payments; whether they keep their jobs; or spend confidently without falling into debt – that has consequences for the entire market. The future cannot be shaped by the best-connected lobbyists with the best record of raising money for campaigns. This thinking is wrong for the financial sector and it's wrong for our country.

What's Happening In Iraq

AS writes:

Beats me.

Awww. Without even looking, we know what is happening in Iraq: ethno-sectarian struggle for power and resources.

So, follow the money, right?

Based on a skim of the events, there was smuggling of oil going on and regional "security" / extortion rackets. The central government is feeling strong enough to say, "hey, we have the say-so, not you criminals."

The rest is noise (except maybe whether the imposition of law is something welcomed by al-Sadr, but also something that he simply cannot publicly support).

It's a positive development, so long as the government hasn't over-estimated its strength.

While some may look at this and see only group-versus-group, cut one way or the other, what is really going on is the ability of Iraq to occupy itself, to have "one gun", as the Israelis are wont to say, from time-to-time.

When the central government is strong enough to conscript people successfully, you'll know that they have "arrived" in spades, perhaps. I suppose there might be some other metrics, but that one just leapt to mind.

Rendell Pulls Clinton Pity Wagon

Even while Bill Clinton is out on the stump today admonishing anyone who doesn't want to get bullied to avoid being a candidate, Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, is on the Charlie Rose show pulling Hillary's pity wagon.

According to Ed, women may be frustrated that Hillary isn't getting a fair shake, because of ... the media's treatment of Obama.

I'm all for having a woman President. I'm all for having it be Hillary. I'm even sensitive to the real grievances that Hillary may have.

But, I'll be damned if somebody is going to ride a pity wagon all the way to the White House. Screw that.

Never Answer a Hypothetical

Hillary Clinton took a step further along the path of being unable to unite the party behind her, no matter how much she might later on "honor" Barack Obama.

Violating the rule of not answering hypotheticals, she imagined aloud for anyone who would listen what she would have done, had she been a black man in America over the past 20 years. Apparently, she would have 'left' the church that ministers to certain communities.

In the last debate, she refused to answer a direct question about what she would do if al-qa'ida was resurgent in Iraq, following her pullout of coalition troops. That's a hypothetical of critical importance to voters, in assessing her ability to think things through.

Yet, she has time and willingness, instead, to imagine how she would have conducted her life if she had been black...

"Just walk out" is the sum total of her inspirational message, her vision of improving the vexing problems of race? How far did "just say no" get Nancy Reagan?

There are plenty of ways to criticize. Imagining how one would have done so much better than someone else, in their shoes, is probably one of the least admirable.


Endeavor lands in Florida.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Weekly Casualty Lists: Week 13, Yr OEF+7

Enemy casualty lists not available this week here, although there are reports of significant 'policing' activity in Iraq.


-------Name, AgeSrv BranchHometown

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death

Joseph D. Gamboa, 34U.S. ArmyYigo
Staff Sergeant, 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment
Baghdad; 25-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - indirect fire

George Delgado, 21U.S. ArmyPalmdale, CA
Private, 4th BN, 64th Armor Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Baghdad (southern part); 23-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Christopher M. Hake, 26U.S. ArmyEnid, OK
Staff Sergeant, 4th BN, 64th Armor Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Baghdad (southern part); 23-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24U.S. ArmyMission, TX
Specialist, 4th BN, 64th Armor Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Baghdad (southern part); 23-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Andrew J. Habsieger, 22U.S. ArmyFestus, MO
Private 1st Class, 4th BN, 64th Armor Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Baghdad (southern part); 23-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Ii, Thomas C. Ray, 40U.S. Army National GuardWeaverville, NC
Sergeant, 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army National Guard
Baghdad (northwest of); 22-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

David B. Williams, 26U.S. Army National GuardTarboro, NC
Sergeant, 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army National Guard
Baghdad (northwest of); 22-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

David S. Stelmat, 27U.S. Army National GuardLittleton, NH
Specialist, 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army National Guard
Baghdad (northwest of); 22-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Tyler J. Smith, 22U.S. ArmyBethel, ME
Private 1st Class, 3rd BN, 7th Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Baghdad; 21-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - indirect fire

Gregory D. Unruh, 28U.S. ArmyDickinson, TX
Sergeant, 2nd BN, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
Mandali; 19-Mar-08; Non-hostile - vehicle rollover


------Name, AgeSrv BranchCountry

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death
William H. Jefferson, Jr., 34U.S. Air ForceNorfolk, VA
Technical Sergeant, 21st Special Tactics Squadron
Sperwan Ghar; 22-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
William R. Neil, 38U.S. ArmyHolmden, NJ
Staff Sergeant, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group
Sperwan Ghar; 21-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Ionut Cosmin Sandu, 29Romanian ArmyPiscu-Romania
Sublocotenent/2 nd Lieutn/, Batalionul 300 Infanterie "Sfantul Andrei"
North of Qalat (prov.Zabul); 20-Mar-08; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Antione V. Robinson, 20U.S. ArmyDetroit, NC
Private 1st Class, 782nd Brigade Support BN, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Nawa District, Ghazni Province; 19-Mar-08; Non-hostile - accident


Counted Civilian Casualties: 178 this week; 197 last week; 197 prior week.
Counted bodies found: 40 this week; 96 last week; 96 prior week.

Tuesday 25 March: 33 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 1, Bab al-Sheikh; Mahdi Army fighters kill attack Dawa party office, kill 2 guards, Amin; 2 policemen killed at checkpoint, Sadr City; civilian killed in clashes, Sadr City; 5 bodies.
Mosul: gunmen kill morgue employee; 6 bodies.
Aziziya: 3 killed in clashes.
Basra: 9 civilians reported killed during a day of clashes between authorities and Mahdi Army; 3 civilians killed by British forces.
Monday 24 March: 13 dead
Baghdad: 4 bodies.
Tal Jwad: civilian killed by mortar.
Sadiya: roadside bomb kills 3 policemen.
Buhriz: Awakening member killed by US fire at checkpoint.
Basra: man killed in clashes.
Mosul: 2 killed by mortars; body found.
Sunday 23 March: 74 dead
Afghanistan:The Taliban assassinated a pro-government cleric in Helmand.
Baghdad: rocket/mortar attacks kill 19 (4 children among them); gunmen shoot 7 dead, Zafaraniya; suicide car bomber kills 5, Shula; roadside bomb kills 1, Mansour; 6 bodies.
Abu Saida: gunmen kill policeman and his driver.
Baquba: gunmen kill policeman; mortars kill 2; 2 children (8 and 10 years old) are blown up by bomb in playground.
Nahar Sabah: 15 (most from the same family) die in US air strike.
Muqdadiya: 2 bodies.
Kirkuk: roadside bomb kills policeman.
Kut: 3 killed by mortars; 2 bodies.
Mosul: car bombs kill 2; 4 bodies; A suicide car bomber killed 13 Iraqi soldiers after plowing his vehicle into their base in Mosul; 30 soldiers and 12 civilians were wounded in the attack.
Saturday 22 March: 28 dead
Afghanistan: The district governor of the Khanaqa district in northern Jowzjan province was killed in a knife attack this morning. A highway commander for northern Kunduz province was assassinated late Friday night.
Baghdad: roadside bomb targeting US patrol kills 2; roadside bomb kills 1, Amin; roadside bomb kills 1, Mansour; 3 bodies.
Ishaqi: 6 members of neighbourhood patrol killed in US air strikes.
Samarra: A suicide car bomb hit the house of tribal leader Hussain al-Shatab, killing five people, including his brother, and wounding 11 others
Kirkuk: roadside bomb kills 1.
Sarajiq: 3 are shot dead in their car.
Buhriz: 1 killed in US air strike.
Baquba: gunmen kill Ali Hassan, returning displaced, outside his house.
Abu Saida: Gunmen killed Colonel Akram Awad al-Omairi, commander of a rapid reaction unit of Balad Ruz, outside his home in the town of Abu Saida in Diyala province, police said.
Hilla: 1 body found.
Mahaweel: 2 bodies found.
Latifiya: 1 body found.
Friday 21 March: 10 dead
Baghdad: 2 bodies.
Balad: gunmen kill policeman and 2 bodyguards.
Al-Hoori: gunmen raid house, kill 1.
Mosul: roadside bomb kills 3.
Kut: gunmen kill 1.
Thursday 20 March: 20 dead
Afghanistan:The Taliban released a video showing the suicide bombing of the Sabri district headquarters in Khost province that killed two US soldiers earlier this month.
Baghdad: 5 bodies.
Goezha mountain: 1 body found.
Mosul: roadside bomb kills policeman; gunmen kill 2 policemen; 2 bodies found (1 decapitated).
Samarra: 6 killed by US fire.
Kut: 2 policemen killed in clashes.
Muqdadiya: civilian is shot dead.
Wednesday 19 March: 48 dead
Baghdad: gunmen kill father and son, owners of currency exchange office, Karrada; car bomb kills policeman, Karrada; bomb kills taxi driver; 7 bodies.
Balad Ruz: suicide bomber kills 6 in market.
Hawija: 3 policemen killed by US forces.
Tikrit: 1 neighbourhood watch shot dead.
Hilla: roadside bomb kills 2; another roadside bomb kills 2 policemen.
Basra: gunmen kill 17 border guards; gunmen kill policeman.
Karbala: 2 bodies.
Mosul: 3 bodies


None counted this week.

src: MNF-I, MNF-A, journalists from icasualties.org; Iraqi Civiilan: iraqbodycount.org; Afghan events from Bill Roggio, other sources

Senator Orrin Hatch, Can You See Us Now?

I'm curious what the "conservative" response to this is? That "life is tough" and that there is nothing to be done to eliminate bullies, anymore than eliminating poverty? That Billy here should learn how to fight or butch up or something, because it is clearly his fault in some way (or just a 'horrible exception', one of a 'regrettable few')?

Or, is it that it would be a mistake to look at why these bruises occurred, let alone have a law take notice of it?

This is why "conservative" continually just comes up as a mask for other intentions, right?


Five Years After Initial Bush Dereliction

It's worth looking at what the Brass was saying five years ago (and how on earth they all got voted in again, just three years ago):

"Defense of the American people is primary among the goals and objectives of U.S. actions in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon press conference today.

Further goals are to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and to liberate the Iraqi people.

To achieve these aims, the military coalition is focused of specific goals.

  1. Rumsfeld said the first is to end the regime of Saddam Hussein "by striking with force on a scope and scale that makes clear to Iraqis that he and his regime are finished."

    never miss an opportunity to state the obvious ..

  2. The coalition will identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It will also eliminate Iraq's missiles and other delivery systems, the production capabilities and distribution networks, he said.

    American taxpayers still have no accurate cost-accounting of how much the world's biggest search for nothing cost them. As I recall, it wasn't until late in the 2004 election cycle that the Administration was still promulgating a self-serving "search for the facts", after "weapons-related program activities" had supplanted WMD as the raison d'etre of American use of power ...

  3. Coalition military forces will search for, capture or drive out terrorists who have found refuge in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

    Was Abu Nidal worth $1 trillion? [Don't answer if you are a neocon...] Of course, those who have watched PBS's "Bush's War" will wonder how this squares with Rumsfeld's later insistence that "clear-hold-build" was something the Iraqis had to do themselves...

  4. The coalition will also collect intelligence related to terrorist networks in Iraq and beyond and will collect intelligence on the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction activity. It will end sanctions and immediately deliver humanitarian relief to the displaced and the many needy Iraqi citizens.

    What is most hilarious about this to you? That it never envisions that intelligence might be desperately needed to actually fight terrorist networks there and "beyond"? In any case, the seemless integration of 'intelligence' and boots-on-the-ground operations didn't come into force until early 2005, by my read of the tea-leaves.

  5. The coalition will secure oil fields and resources, "which belong to the Iraqi people and which they will need to develop their country after decades of neglect," Rumsfeld said.

    They have kept the oil flowing ... But Rumsfeld was parsimonious with US dollars from the outset and later-on, because it didn't make sense to build things that the insurgents would just destroy or dismantle ... Yet progress in living conditions is the key metric most Iraqis use to gage their affinity for US troop continuation.

  6. Finally, the coalition will create the conditions for Iraq's rapid transition to a representative government "that is not a threat to its neighbors." The coalition is committed to ensuring the territorial integrity of Iraq.

    Well, in the plus-up, now, the conditions are created (and the U.N. even has a role, as do some others).

    General Petreaus, last year:

    "The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more – or less – violently.

    Having "set the conditions", at great cost, we wait, at the $12b/month, go-it-alone cost in lives and treasury, for "success" to emerge in the form of a putative end to "conflict".

McCain's Teflon and Popularity


It's not immediately clear why so many American's support McCain, even now, when he basically represents a mandate for "stay the course", a formulation that isn't time-bound or resource constrained in any way.

What is driving that? The perceived "pain" of loss, a "loyalty" to party that transcends commonsense (including an obscene willingness to pay for time in lives, just to be able to dump "defeat" at the doorstep of the Democrats, as Nixon was caught musing about years ago?), or a real hope that there is something to "win" in Iraq, still, beyond what the Iraqis themselves muster?


The rest of the explanation cannot be put better than this (via ThinkProgress).

The Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum takes a closer look at McCain’s media “cred”:

Let’s recap. Foreign policy cred lets him get away with wild howlers on foreign policy. Fiscal integrity cred lets him get away with outlandishly irresponsible economic plans. Anti-lobbyist cred lets him get away with pandering to lobbyists. Campaign finance reform cred lets him get away with gaming the campaign finance system. Straight talking cred lets him get away with brutally slandering Mitt Romney in the closing days of the Republican primary. Maverick uprightness cred allows him to get away with begging for endorsements from extremist religious leaders like John Hagee. “Man of conviction” cred allows him to get away with transparent flip-flopping so egregious it would make any other politician a laughingstock. Anti-torture cred allows him to get away with supporting torture as long as only the CIA does it.

Surprisingly, McCain's "cred" weighs even with some gay pundits, who imagine that tax policy is enough of a consideration to weigh decisively with gay rights. Such opinions were novelty enough years ago to "make a career out of", perhaps. Today, they just seem hackneyed.

One also has to demur at the idea that McCain will transform the Republican Party. That's like the neocon notion that "freedom" in Iraq will transform the whole middle east, starting with Iran. This ignores that Iran "gets a vote", to borrow a Rumsfeldism for another context, that the pressure goes the other way, too.

Campaign Road Songs - Slam Dancing


Given Hillary's jumping into an O'Reilly wet dream with an eye-popping willingness to put her 'personal opinions' up for inspection right alongside her policy prescriptions, promising to drag the Party to the same kind of electoral fate as her erstwhile supporter, Geraldine Ferraro, we have the politics of slam dancing.

The depraved inability for FOX, who have reportedly parked a van outside of Trinity, to look away was highlighted again, as Brit Hume led the national news slot with the Clinton comments. That's right, according to FOX, there is no development more newsworthy...

"[Everybody] Slam Dancing", it's only natural - The Kinks

[p-dog is always a bit alarmed when I make up my own words for songs, but sometimes I just like my own better. And yes, I've sung it that way long before BHO v HRC.]

Seriously, it's time to end it. There is little or nothing about Democratic values that Hillary is getting into the news. The upcoming "debates" are just as likely to be caustic beyond belief, than a good forum for the Democratic Party to turn events to its advantage.

The feckless, long wait for her to opinionate we can guess is the result of waiting for Mark Penn-like polls to tell her that it was "o.k." to "contrast" herself on the issue. The idea that she was merely asked a question is not convincing in the least, anymore than it was for Ferraro, who used the same formulation to "explain" her comments (including the substance of them).

What's more, there is the same facile separation of "personal opinion" from public stance that comes across as manipulative (especially to those familiar with her language on gay marriage), because there is no public stance that is apart from the personal one - does Hillary really believe that a President should public positions on which ministers are fit? If she imagines putting herself at the center of controversy will somehow help, it may, at most, show that the Rodhams probably didn't get over to the South Side, much, or that Hillary has "tests" for Christianity that she is unwilling to share, other than in summary "personal opinions". What a waste.


We can ask, was the Obama team ready for Clinton's remarks. Did they anticipate them? I have to say their reply didn't look terribly ... coordinated. On the other hand, notice how the Clinton's campaign were prepared to draw a firewall around Richardson, almost immediately.

Does Obama need more game out of his crew, somehow? I honestly don't know, so I'll leave it for others to ask and answer. And, by that, I don't mean more nastiness, just an ability to land a series of consistent blows.


We've heard that there is more of Reverend Wright to come. How do you handle that as a strategist for Obama?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Black Gospel

Here's one of two of the most infectious melodies, from the recently aired American Masters, Sweet Honey In the Rock, Raise Your Voice (warning, the tune could roll over in your mind all day, be careful - the other is the the Ballad of Harry T. Moore):

Black Gospel, as movement art:

More from the softer side (few more balanced ensembles, yet with some memorably distinct and powerful voices).

Last, a find from the inimitable Clive Davis, Eric Bibb:

Legacy - Nothing to Shop

For all W's copious faults, I suspect words like these wound him the most, because they do have a grain of truth in them:

Honesty feels heady right now. For seven years, we have lived with the arid, us-against-them formulas of Bush’s menial mind, with the result that the nuanced exploration of America’s hardest subject is almost giddying. Can it be that a human being, like Wright, or like Obama’s grandmother, is actually inhabited by ambiguities? Can an inquiring mind actually explore the half-shades of truth?

Yes. It. Can.

The unimaginable South African transition that Nelson Mandela made possible is a reminder that leadership matters. Words matter. The clamoring now in the United States for a presidency that uplifts rather than demeans is a reflection of the intellectual desert of the Bush years.

The Re-Manufacturing of Karl Rove

By now, everyone has seen the videos of FIXed news ... as the unmasking continues.

Tucked into the back-and-forth with Wallace was what seemed like a taunt from Steve Doocy, to my ears at least, to have Karl Rove on Wallace's program.

Is Rove-in-Media, the attempt to 'mainstream' the guy as a wise-'ol-likable-lug an imperative at FOX?

Why the GOPsters would learn to love Rove all over again, suggests that they are in denial, and will not yet believe that the public will reject their ongoing version of in politics there is no "right" and "wrong", just a "story" (preferably an un-indictable one).

No Diplomacy Gene

/sarcastic parody

The State Department revealed today who the people were who have been criminally charged for having opened former President George Bush's passport file and disseminated the private conclusion of State Department Officials that Bush had been approved for foreign travel despite not having "a diplomacy gene".

The Bush Library said they had nothing to hide and that Bush's DNA was on display, due to a grant from an anonymous doner to have it sequenced. Some people believe that donation came from Waslef Tover.

If this happened in the Milky Way, You'd Be Toast

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The explosion of a star halfway across the universe was so huge it set a record for the most distant object that could be seen on Earth by the naked eye.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama's Passport File

A.M. Questions:

1. So how do you fire people from government positions, yet no one "superior" knows about it? I don't know the procedures, but don't you have to give a reason and wouldn't certain reasons cause someone from personnel to flag it to "senior management", especially if it were a repeat problem?

2. Any chance that the "native clothing" pic was related either directly or indirectly, by 'knowing where to look'?

Questionning Wright Brings Up Old Questions About GOP/Bush War Authorization


With a particularly scathing tone, Charles Krauthammer goes for broke:

"God damn America"? Obama's 5,000-word speech, fawned over as a great meditation on race, is little more than an elegantly crafted, brilliantly sophistic justification of that scandalous dereliction.

Did Krauthammer just give a green light to nuclear holocaust, permission for more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis? Afterall, that is the Reverand's stated reference ...

Is that what Charles hears in his house of faith (we know what he hears from the AEI), a green-light on dropping nukes?

Doesn't it take a LOT of pampered patriotism to put the burning alive of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the realm of dereliction...?


Fig. 1. Religious affiliation of members of the 102nd U.S. Congress and the likelihood of their pro-war vote. More Catholics voted against the war than for the war. Presbyterians were most likely to give President Bush war powers. [see link, it's good one]

For ages, the militarists among us know that the pulpit is potentially their biggest political stumbling block. This perhaps explains, partly, why Krauthammer appears deeply anxious.

But, there are other, familiar anxieties for Krauthammer, perhaps. One might be the nascent jewish liberation theology. One wonders if his quick-to-the-draw use of "moral equivalence" language doesn't proceed directly from battles with this theology.


Even this week, Bush (and Richard Perle) continue to emphasize that it was a "right decision" to remove Saddam Hussein.

One might encourage Charles Krauthammer to be careful how much he wants to put the pulpit to a Patriotism test. There are pulpits around the country that will, no doubt, take up his challenge ...

As for the voters, they already know what to do with another term of Bush-related militarism ...
There are reports, however, that Saddam was ready, at the last minute, to accept exile. If so, doesn't that call into question Bush's move to war, especially from a Biblical perspective?

Some strains of jewish interpretation suggest that pre-emptive war is obligatory (not authorized). Should we not consider people for advisory roles, based on their religion? Afterall, that position is clearly unconstitutional, if not outright un-American, to get crude about it.

Last, if Bush-Cheney knew or should have known that there was a reasonable doubt about Saddam's capabilities and his willingness to facilitate al-qa'ida, isn't it true the stated justification for war was ... not at the level required to authorize war? Using Krauthammer's logic, should Bush's Church walk out on him, or expect of him a public truth-speaking, a penance, an atonement before welcoming him back?

One might encourage Charles Krauthammer to be careful how much he wants to put the pulpit to a Patriotism test. There are pulpits around the country that will, no doubt, take up his challenge ... certainly on his breathtaking militarism. As for the voters, they already know what to do with another term of Bush-related militarism ...

E.J. Dionne catches up with where this blog was a week ago... Although he's being oh-so polite (too much, I think). He doesn't mention that Bush's faith-based initiatives might well include Trinity Church.

Find more perspective here on Charles Krathammer's selectively sweeping away some history, but not other histories.
Did God Bless all this, too?
Perspective on Krauthammer's "white guilt" low-road nonsense.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Party of Stupid - How to Love Your Political Foes

It's taking a while for the rightwing punditry to figure out what the "story" is, finding out what is gravely and terribly wrong with Barack Obama and his retired Pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

The brief history:

  • Obama is a crypto-muslim, maybe. Just look at the pictures and call on him to denounce Farrakhan.
  • Then it was guilt-by-association, mostly. Does Obama hold the all the same (non-Christian?) beliefs as his Pastor?
  • Then it was time to question his patriotism (and that of his wife).
  • Then we had the video loops. It was time to question Obama's patriotism all over again, his stance on terrorism, his view of HIV, his "separatist" leanings, his embrace of "hate theology" ... and testing his willingness to avoid "the ugly" in the American Experience.

As all that is fading (especially under cross-examination, but not in the realm of the unexamined), we have two camps:
  1. 1. those out to smear, especially by labeling Wright as "racist" and "anti-American" (a man who is a veteran, even ... there are no holds barred, here).
  2. 2. Those who accept that Barack is not racist, find solid evidence (in legislation AND in word) to reject the rest of the guilt-by-association. Their "misgivings" are coalescing - without apology (or visible retraction) for prior remarks, sadly - around two things. Barack's invitation for the country to discuss race is either liberal or too liberal and Barack's purported self-incrimination in "not walking out".
In this last category, Ross calls attention to someone named Jay Cost, who asks:

It is therefore reasonable to ask what he did - empowered as he was as a high-profile, long-standing parishioner - to change the viewpoint of Wright and Trinity, and whether those efforts were successful.

Are we serious? Pity Barack Obama. He was supposed to (a) be busy raising two kids; (b) keep a full time job as a community organizer, as a civil rights lawyer, as a professor of constitutional law, as a professional politician in the State Senate with demands from the electorate and campaigns to run; (c) keeping his star rising within the Democratic party by helping fundraise for a long list of others; (d) exercise and eat right; and (e) have sufficient time to reform his Church.

Look, most people are in-and-out, have their particular spiritual needs met one way or another (including simply fellowship, rather than theology) and leave the reforming to ... how shall we say, those who don't want the meeting to end.

That's a commonsense observation, not an insider one, so we can only imagine if it is true or not.

Still, it's amazing how wacked-out pundits can get, when they go seeking for the answer they want.

Thought For the Day

Barack Obama, re-imagined by me, I guess:

"My retired pastor is not going to be with me in the White House.

The great herd of paid lobbyists managing and helping John McCain's campaign - more than in any other campaign, Republican or Democratic - day in and day out, will be going with John McCain into the White House.

So, which issue should divide us, politically - the one that matters most in the next four years or the one that the far right is seized upon to divide us and keep us from our common goals?"

Faith and Patriotism: Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Part One


We did what we had to do, many people will say. (Actually, if you talk to some people who fought in the war, you'll probably hear, "Damn Japs - bataan march - they got less than they deserved".)

But is what we did blessed by God?

Victor Davis Hanson, for instance, believes that American History bears out the sheer rightness of American cause(s), because it is self-evident that things are better when we "win" in our projects, of which he selects a few to make the point. But, is that the same as being blessed by God?

Here is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Hiroshima and Nagaski:

"After the passage of nearly four decades and a concomitant growth in our understanding of the ever growing horror of nuclear war, we must shape the climate of opinion which will make it possible for our country to express profound sorrow over the atomic bombing of 1945. Without that sorrow, there is no way to finding a way to repudiate future use of nuclear weapons or of conventional weapons in such military actions that would not fulfill just-war criteria."

- The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response

Seems like, right now, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's "God Damn America" is catapulting that message a lot farther and faster than either (a) The Pope; (b) the specter of Hannity's Preisthood at FIXed News; or (c) Tucker Carlson's apparent insistence that his Rector-for-hire never, ever gainsay anything Tucker thinks is a Patriotic act, or he will 'walk out'.

Rightwing Pundits Resort to False Generalization, Labels


Tucker Carlson on Rev Wright (MSNBC at 3:57 pm, 3/20): "The guy is a creep." Tucker has never even met him, right? The anchor doesn't challenge him on his statement, accepts that a "Patriotic standard" should be applied to anyone who wants to be a minister, right?

Ditto Michelle Malkin: "These weren’t occasional outbursts. They were the bread and butter of the Trinity United Church of Christ." How much time has she spent at Trinity?

MSNBC continues to show clips of Wright, without adding any context, except the contradictory, 'by now, everybody has already heard them', but ...!

Usually ready with the facts, Gretta Van Susteren got her head handed to her last night by Rev. Al Sharpton, who simply asked her to reproduce statements to back-up her claim of "racist". When she threw out a reference (not verbatim) to statements about Hillary, Sharpton said, (paraphrase) 'Oh, now it is racist to question Hillary Clinton? By that standard, your whole news station is in jeopardy, right?'

[How much of a not-ready-for-Primetime-yet is Johnathan Capehart? I caught him nodding and agreeing with Pat Buchanan's fiercely partisan spin. He thinks Obama is in jeopardy as "Patriot-in-Chief", whatever that means in his mind, right?]

Update: FOX News continues with its smear campaign. Charles Krauthammer: "raving racist" (unchallenged by Brit Hume, Fred Barnes, et. al.)

Mark my words. These willful smears will come back to hurt them.

Geraldine Ferraro: Well, she's made her choice, apparently, the choice that Obama has put to us, and she went for the rails. She got in her cheap shot today, with the silly notion that her remarks were not incorrect. Brilliant. The woman candidate - her own formulation - who took the party to a massive defeat in 1984 is ready to do it again.

Update: Look how very limited the future of The National Review is, if you just read their editor. He's got nothing, except garrulous generalizations ...

Update: The Rev Wright commended for helping during hospitalization/surgery for President Johnson.

For the Price of Nation Building in Iraq, We Could Have Had Energy Independence


Is it true?

Could be.

Think of all of the energy inefficient commercial buildings that could have moved into this century.

Think of all the knock-on benefits of improving efficiency.

Remember that cash out is over $800 billion ... and counting (CBO estimate from last year).


Anyway, Obama is hot on the trail.

When Iraq is costing each household about $100 a month, you’re paying a price for this war. ["war". eh. doesn't he mean prolonged, violent nation-building exercise?]

Red Spatter Day: Laura Bush In White House Day George Ordered Torture

Glen Greenwald has as good a wrap-up as any on our mindless press corps.

Links on how Laura cooks BBQ for George, even now, here and here.

*[it's not clear where Laura was on the day, but you see the point, I hope. Perhaps the Right can understand from this post why so many feel that "get Hillary" at any price is an often apt description...]

Transgender in the News

British paratrooper, fought on front lines in Afghanistan [pic-link for video]

Why Rightwing Talk Radio May Set Us Back Years on Race

It's because they could tamp out those on both sides who are seeking to move forward, by provoking over-reaction with their incendiary videos and language and tactics.

Here is a shout-it-from the rooftops dissent from within the black community. To be sure, a less strident approach would be to respect the past, not sweep it away callously, while seeking the voice for a new generation.

Defund the Office of the Vice President - A Protest Vote

I'm still upset that the vote from last year to defund the Veep failed, and failed because of a Democratic Senator. (I still wish someone could find out what wow job they gave him, to get him to cross party lines).

Our imperial White House, just yesterday:

After a reporter cited polls showing that two-thirds of Americans oppose the Iraq war, Cheney responded: "So?"

Does John McCain agree?

There is no Bear in the Woods

Oh, snap!

Rampant card-playing was a symptom of a bigger disorder at Bear [Stearns] – the bank’s inward-looking and obstreperous culture. It grew up as a scrappy bond-trading firm that did not care about how others regarded it. That culminated in Mr Cayne’s (with hindsight ironic) decision in 1998 to shun the Fed-backed attempt to save the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management from collapse.

Throughout the year-long rolling crisis that ended in disaster, its leaders took the stance that it would be OK as long as its employees kept the faith. They did too little to reassure outsiders and to let them know what was going on. Last week, Bear reacted to growing uncertainty by issuing a bland and detail-free statement that it had no problems with capital or liquidity.

Nor did Bear’s leaders do enough to strengthen its balance sheet and cut leverage while they had the chance. It tried to swap $1bn stakes with Citic, the Chinese broking firm, but it was stuck with a big slice of its assets in mortgage-backed securities, which were hard to shift, and it needed more capital and longer-term secured funding to ride out trouble.

I can't believe the FT's corporate masters just published this, but they did. Time to duck? Yikes.

The-Blame-Other-Americans-First GOP


Today's racial beansprout, James Tarranto, taking up the WSJ's caustic 'question' hour, starts in with, "Isn't racial antagonism in black churches a prime obstacle to reconciliation?"

It's so easy, that, right?

Here, let me try: Weren't the Jews a prime obstacle to harmonious co-existence in pre-holocaust Germany, I wonder? The poor Tsars. Didn't the serfs understand it was the best of all possible worlds, already?

Is it the Christian way to seek reconciliation by starting out by labeling someone or other as an "antagonist"? Just asking. At the WSJ, they have the Law, so maybe they could be so kind...

Meanwhile, thank God for the black church in America and for its praise.

Can you imagine what American history might have looked like if black theology had turned out anyone looking like what comes into the ranks of the Taliban or al-qa'ida?

Truly, we have all been blessed by the presence and guidance of the black church, that allowed people to give their anger up to God, as much as anything.

It's not the whole story, but's it has to be the largest part, by far.

Item (for Sir Taranto of Amnesia):

June 19, 1996

Nearly 40 fires of suspicious origin at black churches in the last 18 months, including the January 1, 1995, fire at the Bluff Road United Methodist Church in Columbia, S. C., on Wednesday, June 12.

Simon & Garfunkel, A Church is Burning

Totally different context, not comparable, but also with an interesting insight into passage of time:

Israel, in turn, paid Merkel an extraordinary tribute by inviting her to speak in the Knesset, a prerogative usually reserved for heads of state. But the symbolic meaning of the absence of several Knesset members - because she spoke in German - was also clear: Not all is normal, especially as survivors of the German atrocities, many of whom were children at the time, are still alive.

One should look to the future. But the past must be remembered, and for this symbolic acts are important.

"A Victory for Commonsense"

Obama issues the best one-liner I've heard yet, nationally, cutting through the nonsense divide erected as "surrender" and "victory":

A sensible withdrawal would be "a victory for commonsense".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Rightwing Fringe Willing to Plow Racial Divides in Play for Independent Voters


As AS notes, the Al-manar Radio in America crowd has started in, one faction of the Taliban wing of the Republican party, if you will allow a mixed metaphor.

They have no boundaries, do they? Hugh Hewitt's name is on the list - don't we expect more from people who have positions as teachers? Would he play this video in his classroom? Is that how he teaches constitutional law, one wonders? Does his University ask black students if they reject 'black power' before they are admitted?


We started with Limbaugh singing the disgusting "Barack the Magic Negro", and getting condemned for it. They now feel they have permission - and it is a moral permissioning - from the rest of us to do all they can to whip glass shards, to stick pokers into the collective sub-conscious, to brazenly stoke the racial divides in America in hopes of ... political power (white political power, one may ask?).

Who knows if there will be backlash to it. The ruts of this kind of stuff are worn deep.

To get it going, to stoke the flames, they want to say the most outrageous things (anonymously, if they can). Here is one from FreeRepublic

I am tired of hearing about what blacks, muslims, gays, and teenagers are angry about.

Life can be tough. Life can be filled with disappointments. Deal with it.


O.J. Simpson was when I first realized the racial chasm.

It is not "cynicism" that the Obama message confronts here, is it? It's ignorance and indifference.


Well, they won't get my goat. I refuse to be baited into their game of pre-emption, confusion and escalation (that has worked so well among the poorly educated vote?).

It's not easy. Laura Ingram today said, ""Improved race relations hurts the career of Jesse Jackson...[and others]". I happen to think that Jesse might well give his life, if he thought it would bring an end to the race problems in America ... She (and her host, O'Reilly) have no idea how disgusting they appear, as they fumble around on race like two kids in the backseat of a car for the first time.

Anyway, I imagine their hope is that enough people will say enough horrible things that sooner-or-later, no one will remember who started it. And we will be back to square-one, the face-to-face on race, hijacked by those who insist on the low-road, the rut.


  1. 1. I accept wholeheartedly Michelle Obama's statement, on her own terms.
    Who am I to judge her feelings of patriotism? If she has taken a different path to the same place, she is not less to me because of it, one iota. Those who would sit first, will sit last, right?
  2. 2. I believe every American action is not God blessed.
    Only puerile patriotism requires that the Nation be Perfect, in order to care deeply about it. Even the Church in time is not perfect! Only the smug, pampered patriots among us think we have no "sin" (or that it is Wright alone who must be made to atone, somehow).
  3. 3. I reject American exceptionalism in foreign policy
    America was not given dominion over the world. As for the specific issues they raise, what does your faith teach you about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Who funded the mujahedeen and helped to organize them into a fighting force in Afghanistan? Does that act come with no consequences, no responsibility?
Resisting the Cariacature of James Cone