Category Archives: Middle East

On this day

I didn’t do anything overt to commemorate it; I just did my job.

Eight years ago, it was different.  I did my job that day as well, but it was far different from today.  Back then, our department had a lot of students from the Middle East.  (Since then, it has been rare for a Moroccan, Saudi or Pakistani student to get into the the country on a visa, much less our program.)  Some of our students knew what was happening, but most of them didn’t tune into the news in the morning and didn’t have access to computers in class.  Us teachers would run up to our offices during the breaks and check on the news.  It was horrifying.  I sent emails to see if a friend who worked in the WTC area had been heard from.

Later, I heard rumors — started by a women I later learned does nothing but lie — that all of our Arab students had walked out of classes in protest.  It wasn’t true.

I spent the next two weeks trying to keep going at work, despite the worry and the questions, and crying as I watched the reports on tv in the evening.

Over the next few years, work was difficult.  Our student population dropped and we had to do some creative things.  It was a difficult and stressful time, but at least I had a job and my friend in NYC was safe.

I remember how Cheney wanted to have a parade on this day a couple of years ago.  Thankfully that was scrapped.  We don’t need this day to turn into a holiday or a day of showing military regalia.  There have always been blogs that have threatened that people will forget, unless we remain afraid and ignorant.  There will always be some who want to politicize this day, despite the families of the victims trying for years — and finally succeeding this year, in turning it into a day of service and remembrance.  (And yes, Michael Berry, President Obama didn’t come up with this idea, but he did finally formalize it — just as the families have been asking for — for years.)

And then there is Glenn Beck.  Fresh off of getting not one but two scalps from the Obama administration, he’s off to the Mall to gather 2 MILLION people to shake their fists at the nation and demand that we all get together and I don’t know, let him be president or supreme dictator or something.  His loyal followers are following 9 things and 12 other things and supposedly they surround me.  I haven’t seen them yet, but I am a private person, so perhaps they are still looking for me.  It also reminds me of another book by Mike Gallagher titled, Surrounded by Idiots.  Perhaps these hosts need a thesaurus?

I don’t have cable, so watching the wall-to-wall Fox News coverage of tomorrow’s get together in D.C. is not an option for me.  Sigh.  I will check in and see if any bloggers claim that the Capitol Police have estimated their crowd size (they actually don’t do that anymore . . .)

Here’s a straight forward and cathartic response to Beck.


Michael Berry: Black Black Black Black

As I was driving from work to Target, listening to Michael Berry, I was trying to think of a title for the post I would write later.  The one above was one of the possibilities.  Why did I choose that one?  Because after I thought of it, here comes Berry bitching about people he calls “Professional Black People”:  not professional people who are black, but Professional Black People.  Then he said, “Black black black black.”

Talk about being obsessed.

As I was driving home from Target, Berry took a couple of calls.  He still didn’t have his facts straight about the Gates case and when one caller pointed out a discrepancy between the police officer’s report and the 911 call, Berry just said, “well, you’re welcome to your opinion.”

Berry had been berating President Obama for trying to work things out like an adult (i.e. inviting both parties to the White House) when another caller, who had also pointed out discrepancies,  stated that he didn’t agree with Berry very often, but he did with regard to being cautious when encountering police officers.  Berry, unable to control himself, said, “I want you to come to the station tomorrow for a beer.”

Click.  The caller had hung up.

I seriously believe that Berry didn’t understand why that happened and that his feelings were hurt.

You know, Berry doesn’t have a problem with black people in general.  He’s just got a problem with certain black people.  And here’s a hint to defining that group:  they do not belong to those who know their place, who know when to keep their mouths shut.  His listeners know this.  So, why doesn’t he understand that they do?

This and That

I listened to Dan Patrick for about 10 minutes on the way home today.  You know, he’s a local conservativetalk show host, radio station owner and Texas Senator.  He started off stating that he’s not going to just take conservative or Republican stands, and then turns right around and follows the standard line from McCain that Obama insulted the troops by stating that it has been more than the surge that has contributed to the reduction in violence in Iraq.

Of course, in making that point, Patrick ignores the self imposed ceasefire of the southern Iraqi Shiites, the piles of U.S. money and weapons given to the Sunis in Anbar, the mass emigration of millions of Iraqis and the partitioning of Iraqi cities into ethnic neighborhoods. 

Oh, and I wonder if Patrick is worried about insulting this guy, the so-called “father of the surge.” (That last link is to the front page and the info there will probably change, but for now it calls Fred Kagan that.)

Also, given that Patrick hasn’t really been a part of the military and might need some insight on the views of those currently and recently serving, you know, in Iraq and Afghanistan, he might want to read what they have to say.  (That’s an arm of VoteVets.)  I mean, despite the effort of the current administration, the military isn’t all conservative/Republicans.

Back to Patrick.  In that five minutes, he also called Obama arrogant because he believes his vision to be correct.  Then Patrick goes on to say that he feels the same way about his vision, lots of people do.  But Obama is arrogant. 

It’s not the first time that Patrick has said stuff like this.  I’ve found him just as happy to make stuff up as any wingnut talk show host.  Oh!!! That reminds me.  I didn’t have time to look it up on Lexis/Nexis today, but I will tomorrow.  Bill Bennett this morning said that when he was drug czar (how many times does he say that in a 3 hour show?  About a hundred times) he was invited to Alaska by a bunch of pot smoking Libertarians to debate pot smoking and 10,000 of them showed up — just three days late!  Dumbass pot smokers!  For some reason (past fibbing?) I just don’t believe the guy.  But I will look it up.

Next, my very most favorite wingnut, Kathleen.  You know, she’s the homemaker/blogger with a crush on John McCain and an unhealthy/distorted  viewpoint on black people.  Today she got a little confused and in a way showed her ass.

From her post at the Chron today:

I also noted, as did others, that the volunteer greets in Afghanistan for Obama seemed to lack “diversity.” Most of the faces were black. Why was that? I found it curious. After those initial meetings I suppose someone in the campaign noticed this and Obama started meeting with unit formations. Because it is all about the presentation here folks.

(As a side note, McCain is at a townhall in NH — the backdrop is pretty pale, but no matter.)

She had up another post from yesterday:

There is this politican. He is black, charasmatic, and intelligent. Now that may sound like Obama, but this guy happens to be right on all the issues, instead of wrong like Obama.

Unfortunately, Kathleen gets a bit confused in the comments of her post from yesterday, thinking someone was questioning her about today’s pronouncement:

What does his skin color have to do with anything?

*note: Nothing at all unless they are changing photo ops to require diversity. The thing about it is that I don’t believe that Obama needs to do that. But obviously his campaign does.TexasSparkle

A little later:

*note: Nothing at all unless they are changing photo ops to require diversity. The thing about it is that I don’t believe that Obama needs to do that. But obviously his campaign does.TexasSparkle


So why mention he’s black if color doesn’t mean anything. You could have left the description at “charasmatic, and intelligent”. It’s obviously that your party of choice needs diversity, otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned skin color in your description. Sounds like you’re contradictig yourself.

*note: oops, sorry! I was referring to the wrong post. When I check these comments it doesn’t show which post they are on. I thought you were referring to Obama and his photo ops in the Middle East. Ok, I use the term “black” because I was comparing Williams to Obama. In case you didn’t notice, Obama is black and people think that is kind of an historical thing. Oh, and our party DOES need diversity–TexasSparkle

“People thinkthat is kind of an historical thing.”  It’s all in your mind, people.  I mean, srly, McCain is an historical thing, too, no?


Adding Up?

I really don’t know how to prioritized everything that was in the news today.  Some of it is just ridiculous.  For example, GWB whining about the spending bills not being ready yet.  Everyone I know remembers that the 109th only passed 2 of 11 spending bills last year, and that the bills have been late to W’s desk most of the time that he’s been in office.  But this week?  W: “Where’s my bills!  Gimme my bills!!!  Ast you once, now gimme my bills!”  What a baby.  I checked Lexus/Nexus and found nary an article reporting Bush complained pre-2007.  Not surprising, of course.

It would be funny if the Senate hadn’t voted for that Lieberman/Kyl amendment to the defense budget bill.  W yanks Joe’s chain (ever so gently) and Joe delivers.  Cornyn and Kay BH?  They’re on board to give the brat-frat boy the go-ahead to do god-knows-what against Iran.  Why else have the wingnuts ratcheted up the hysteria this past week?  (War not going so well?  More complicated than you expected?  Losing support?  Try a new improved war, with tactical nuclear weapons as a special bonus.  Makes a great Christmas gift! {imagine the soundtrack from Brazil playing})

And speaking of wingnut over-kill, is good General Petraeus still sobbing and sniffling about how mean ‘ole confronted and questioned his prepackaged report?  No?  You’d never know given how Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and far too many congress-types acted today.  You remember Jerry Lewis, right?  At least my rep, Sheila Jackson-Lee voted against it.  Thanks, Rep. Jackson-Lee.  Seriously.

Since irony is dead, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around W’s threatening to veto SCHIP (Repeats W: Gimme my bill the way I wannit, you hear?  I got this here pen and I’ll sure use it.  Now, gimme!  baby) while Gates goes to demand that Congress give this administration $190,000,000,000.00 MORE dollars.  You all know we don’t have that money, right?

And btw just how much of that money is going to merc — err — security firms operating in Iraq?  Blackwater types (allegedly) are quite free to do as they see fit in Iraq and while Gates said today that Defense will investigate, Rice said, “Oh, no you don’t” to congress.  That’s just perfect.  A commenter at Balloon Juice had a stellar suggestion today.  Let those recently praised-American trained Iraqis take over for Blackwater, et al.  That would work, no?

Is this all adding up?  Not for me.

Something of an update

It seems that there is so much more to the NYT/ story that I really shouldn’t ignore it. (FYI — the link is to Jeffy’s site.)  Actually, John Cole throws a wet blanket on all of them better than I could ever — so here’s a link to his post.  (At some point, I will learn how to do trackbacks. . . ) (My original post on the topic is here.)

Here’s some things that I find interesting about this whole — what to call it? — tempest in a teapot?  That doesn’t quite fit . . . I’ll have to think about it for a bit.  Anyway, first is a report from Media Matters about Rush Limbaugh calling  Senator Chuck Hagel, “Senator Betrayus.”  On his January 25th show, Limbaugh states, “By the way, we had a caller call, couldn’t stay on the air, got a new name for Senator Hagel in Nebraska, we got General Petraeus and we got Senator Betrayus, new name for Senator Hagel.”  The transcript and context are at the Media Matters link, along with video.

It looks like came out the financial winner in this — it’s more than that though.  With the extra funds ($1,661,000+ and counting), they will be able to continue their advocacy, especially wrt to Iraq and the ’08 elections.  Good for them.

While wingnuts busy themselves by grasping at straws and trying to play ‘gotcha’ without substance, I find this report in the Washington Post very troubling. 

A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of “bait,” such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.

The classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed. 

Based on the information in the article, the three men charged allegedly planted a spool of wire in one case and an AK-47 in another case on two Iraqis they shot and killed.  One of those men claims that members of the “U.S. military’s Asymmetric Warfare Group” gave the sniper unit the bait and instructions for using them, but of course, Army officials won’t talk about it.

The article ends with this quote from an attorney for one of the accused:

“It’s an injustice that is being done to them,” Carnahan said. “I feel like you can’t prosecute our soldiers for acts of war and threaten them with years and years of confinement when this program, if it comes to the light of day, was clearly coming from higher levels. . . . All those people who said ‘go use this stuff’ just disappeared, like they never sanctioned it.”

Could this be the case where finally those higher up will be forced to take responsibility for something?  I’m not so hopeful.


Here’s a ‘Sense of the Senate’ suggestion I could support.

Links Re: Iran

The News Hour with Jim Lehrer had a clip of Bush’s speech to the American Legion today on its broadcast tonight.  There’s also a clip of it here at Think Progress

And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Given that Israel is the only nuclear power in the region, I question the use of the word holocaust.  But maybe that’s just me.

That remark leads to this report at Raw Story.  It’s about a discussion paper written by a couple of Brits.  It’s long, but worth the read.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order.

The article and the paper it discusses include the possibility that that UK would be involved and that Brown could easily get a vote for such an action in Parliament.

 Ahmadinejad was in the news today, too, stating:

The political power of the occupiers (of Iraq) is being destroyed rapidly and very soon we will be witnessing a great power vacuum in the region.

We, with the help of regional friends and the Iraqi nation, are ready to fill this void.

The Times quotes Sarkozy about bombing Iran.  Perhaps the two Brits should have looked into that as well.   All of these men seemed determined to fight each other.  Why not just put them all in some sort of UFC competition and let them hurt each other instead of all of the rest of us.

And more — the BBC is reporting that the U.S. has taken Iranians who were in Baghdad  into custody.

Video footage showed soldiers leading a group of men, blindfolded and handcuffed, out of the hotel in central Baghdad.

In January, five Iranians – who the US say are linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and were training militants in Iraq – were captured in the northern city of Irbil.

The five remain in US custody.

A Perfect Circle, eMOTIVe, track 10 —  Counting Bodies Like Sheep

What Do I Know?

I downloaded the original report from Fred Kagen about the surge in January.  According to that report, which Bush used as his model, the surge shouldn’t have been completed until December of this year.  (p.38)  It includes the extensions of duty that have already occured.  Kagen presented the second phase of said plan in April.

Still there are deaths.  I make a point of reading –acknowleding them every night on the News Hour and then again on This Week with George S.  John Kerry has asked, and I think it is a quality question — who will be the last death in Iraq? 

 Speaking of which, Biden pointed out something that has been neglected.  And on this first father’s day since the man I most admired died, I will follow up with a point about Palestinians, as well as other conflicts.  While it is easy to judge from the outside, it is much more difficult to understand the problems that plague both Palestine and Africa — Darfur, Somalia and Kenya — by listening to the U.S. news.  At least today Biden laid out how stupid the Bush administration haw been wrt Palestine.  The Bush admin pushed for elections.  Hamas got elected.  Funds — including taxes collected by the Israelis from the Palestinians — was withheld.  From a line in one of my favorite movies — “You don’t like the results you change the rules?”  Yep, that’s what they did.  So the world cuts the Palestinians off and the Israelis don’t return their tax dollars — wow — how would people like this react to something like that?  With guns ablazing, I’m sure.

The U.S. is conducting military actions in Somalia and near if not in Kenya.  (I’m not at work, so I can’t get to Lexis/Nexis — and anyway — they sent me a letter stating that they let law enforcement access my personal data — so I am not so happy with them — but that’s another matter.)  One of my former students and current readers (I hope she still reads 🙂 knows that things are not good in that part of the world, but the U.S. military’s intervention is not helping. 

Then there is the lame Darfur thing that Bush did.  Lame, limp, ineffectual, — how else to describe it?

 In honor of my father — who I hope would have come around and in honor of the man, who I admired perhaps more than my own dad — given that we came so far in such a short amount of time — from him dismissing me completely to the two of us agreeing on the important things in the end.  I will always remember that the last book he read — The Road by Cormac McCarthy, was one of the last books I read while he was reading it too, while he was alive, and that last Christmas, I sent him my copy of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace not Apartheid, just when he wanted to send me his copy.  This from a man who retired from the foreign service when Carter became president. 

Perhaps my dad, had he lived to see George W. Bush become the governor of Texas, much less president, would have been more like the man I greatly admire.  Perhaps he would have finally seen my side of things, unlike my mother.

 I avoided any father’s day activities today.  It should be for my nieces and their father — not another holiday fought over with the in-laws.  Today was for those whose fathers are still alive.  The two men who held that place in my heart are dead.  I am stronger and more sure of myself because of both of them.

but what do I know . . . .

Carter’s Last Point on The News Hour

To continue from the previous post — Carter points out that Hamas has not, since they were elected, been responsible for a single Israeli death.  After pointing out that the PLO is the only Palestinian organization the the U.S. acknowledges and that the PLO and Hamas are completely different, he relates conversations that he has had with two members of Hamas.  The first, a doctor, duly elected, is now in prison.  His response to the rhetorical question of how Israel could possibly negotiate with a government that won’t recognize its right to exist is to point out that in fact, the Israeli government, by its deeds, doesn’t recognize the Palestinians’ rights to their own land, nor their right to free access to that land.  The second, Palestinian Prime Minister Haniya, indicated that they strongly support talks between Israel and Palestine through Abbas, and that Hamas would join in any agreement made, as long as that agreement was acceptable.

Carter returns to the point that it is a small vocal minority in Israel that is responsible for the Israeli government’s failure to fulfill what it agreed to both at Camp David and Oslo.  (A majority of Israelis favor exchanging land for peace.)  He also feels that a third party is necessary to the peace process.

Finally, Woodruff asks about Iraq.  Carter rightly points out that there is no way that Bush can hope for support from moderate Arabs wrt Iraq if his administration doesn’t address the problems in Palestine.

 Now, I’ll go listen to the Gallagher show again — I taped it this morning — and write a post about that interview.