Saturday, January 10, 2009
When Obama named Keane, Dean was in American Samoa doing DNC work,
"If he had been asked to go to that event, he would have been there," Jim Dean, the chairman's brother, told Politico.
"The snub (Thursday) was no accident," one Dean ally said. "I guarantee you he would have rescheduled his trip if asked to attend."
The Jews and Arabs of Palestine have been fighting off and on for 100 years. In 1909 the mostly Russian socialist idealists of the Zionist movement set up an armed group, Hashomer, to protect their new farms and villages in Palestine from Arab marauders. Since then has come the dismal march of wars—1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006 and now 2009—each seared by blood and fire into the conflicting myths and memories of the two sides. The intervals between the wars have not been filled by peace but by bombs, raids, uprisings and atrocities. Israeli settlers in Hebron today still cite, as if it were yesterday, the massacre of Hebron’s Jews in 1929. The Arabs of Palestine still remember their desperate revolt in the 1930s against the British mandate and Jewish immigration from Europe, and the massacres of 1948.The slaughter this week in Gaza, in which on one day alone some 40 civilians, many children, were killed in a single salvo of Israeli shells, will pour fresh poison into the brimming well of hate (see article). But a conflict that has lasted 100 years is not susceptible to easy solutions or glib judgments. Those who choose to reduce it to the “terrorism” of one side or the “colonialism” of the other are just stroking their own prejudices. At heart, this is a struggle of two peoples for the same patch of land. It is not the sort of dispute in which enemies push back and forth over a line until they grow tired. It is much less tractable than that, because it is also about the periodic claim of each side that the other is not a people at all—at least not a people deserving sovereign statehood in the Middle East.That is one reason why this conflict grinds on remorselessly from decade to decade.
Friday, January 09, 2009
After reading this NY Times piece, I want to revise that to "Be very, very afraid. Better yet, run for your life!"
Here are the final paragraphs from the NY Times piece:
WHAT OBAMA NOW inherits in Pakistan is a fully dysfunctional relationship between that country and the United States. Last summer, Bush signed secret orders allowing American special forces to run ground raids into Pakistani territory to root out not only Al Qaeda but also a list of other militants who could be targeted by either the C.I.A. or American military commandos. The first such raid, in September, provoked such a firefight and outrage in Pakistan that most other raids were suspended. But the reasons for the Pakistani government’s anger went beyond the concern that Bush was publicly violating Pakistani sovereignty. If American special forces were now authorized to come into the country to snatch or kill a range of militants, several Pakistani officials said to me, would it be very long before they tried to get the country’s nuclear weapons as well?
Though few in Washington will admit it, it is the right question. At the end of Bush’s term, his aides handed over to Obama’s transition team a lengthy review of policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, concluding that in the end, the United States has far more at stake in preventing Pakistan’s collapse than it does in stabilizing Afghanistan or Iraq.
“Only one of those countries has a hundred nuclear weapons,” a primary author of the report said to me. For Al Qaeda and the other Islamists, he went on to say, “this is the home game.” He paused, before offering up the next thought: For anyone trying to keep a nuclear weapon from going off in the United States, it’s our home game, too.
What does this have to do with Slumdog Millionaire?
As the movie unfolded, I kept thinking that this was so similar to Forrest Gump. Gump managed to be at the right places at the right times, and despite the low IQ person that he was, well, he turned out to be one successful guy. And, of course, Gump was forever after that same girl in his life--despite how much ever she shunned him.
Here, the slumdog--Jamal--didn't quite know anything really; he just lucked out with the questions--they all somehow related to his life experiences. You know, life is like a box of chocolates, as Gump opined.
I guess the only difference is that Gump girl dies in the end, whereas Jamal and Latika get together in the end, in quite a cheesy ending to the movie.
A quick Google search for the Forrest Gump comparison, and here is an excerpt from one of the results:
In championing Forrest Gump's purity, Robert Zemeckis's film mocked both U.S. history and the complexities of adulthood, helping to fan the flames of American anti-intellectualism to a towering mid-Nineties blaze. Boyle's ode to dumb love and circumstance hasn't the same deliberation, but "Slumdog Millionaire" does manage to make bombastic offense. Jamal's success on the TV show makes him a hero to slumdogs everywhere (they gather around televisions in the cities and on the farms with that nostalgic fellow-feeling), but he doesn't care about being rich. He just wants to be with Latika. Quite instructive to the billions of poor people in the world foolishly aspiring to subsistence, let alone wealth. See that heartwarming montage of Jamal through the years, laughing despite the begging, stealing, and enslavement? He's postcolonial, post-material, totally adorable. Love is all Jamal needs. Love and a lobotomy.I thought it was interesting with the names of the characters--the brother is Salim Malik, and the brother's boss--the crime leader in the slum--is Javed Miandad. What is special about these names? They were big time cricket players from Pakistan; Malik was eventually banned from cricket for match-fixing, and Miandad is currently the head honcho of Pakistan's cricket board.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
According to USA Today, the average age of a House member this term will be 57 — which is a day nursery compared to the Senate, where the average age now stands at 63. Both are records.That is from a neat column by David Harsanyi :-)
Thirty years after Ted Kennedy griped about Ronald Reagan's advanced age, the man serves as a 76-year-old, nine-term senator recovering from brain-tumor surgery Really, is there no one else available in the state of Massachusetts who can drop his Rs and vote dependably Maoist?
An average adult would not trust Sen. Robert Byrd (who is 91) to pet-sit their mutt for fear that the unfortunate creature might accidentally turn up in chili con carne. Yet, Byrd sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, where he doles out massive amounts of taxpayer funds for West Virginia landmarks with "Byrd" in the title. Fortunately, this session Byrd has lost his chairmanship to make way for a young whippersnapper in Hawaii's Daniel Inouye, who is 84.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
the right infrastructure could provide the basis for a redirected economy. Long term, the most important investments are not on the easy list of "off the shelf" projects. Yes, good roads and bridges are important. But investing in the necessary public goods to support a post-hydrocarbon, information-based economy is a much better choice than using the stimulus to patch up the old economy.ps: speaking of Spitzer's sexcapades, read this horrible tragedy involving a man, his penis, and his jealous wife. He is dead, their house has been burned down--it all started from the wife setting fire to the husband's penis when he was asleep. If only we men learnt how to keep it inside our pants! Spitzer ought to thank his wife for sparing his life!
So let’s get this straight: Robert Gates will be the Defense Secretary, we’re ramping up U.S. forces in Afghanistan and providing a reasonable period of time for a hand-off in Iraq, there isn’t going to be a windfall oil profits tax or income tax hike but there is going to be a huge set of business tax cuts – and Rick Warren is giving the invocation at the Inauguration. Who won in November?
I’m sure there will be times during the next four years when the Obama administration’s decisions on issues (e.g. judicial appointments) have conservatives banging their heads against the wall, bemoaning the fact that John McCain wasn’t elected. But so far it’s hard to imagine McCain would have been doing more than the incoming Obama team seems to be proposing — and with as much chance of success –to further some key center-Right policy aims.
Hmmmm.... Jennifer Rubin has a great observation there.
On June 20, 1994 explosion of a bomb in a prayer hall of Imam Reza shrineJuan Cole has a neat post on this; he starts with the following observation:
in Mashhad that killed at least 25 people. The Iranian government
officially blamed Mujahedin-e-Khalq for the incident to avoid sectarian conflict
between Shias and Sunnis. However, the Pakistani daily The News
International reported on March 27, 1995, "Pakistani investigators have
identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in
Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had
intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20,
1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Ali Reza in Mashhad."
The 2004 (1425 AH) Shi'a pilgrimage to Karbala, the first since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq, was marred by bomb attacks, which killed and wounded hundreds despite tight security.
On January 19, 2008, 7 million Iraqi Shia pilgrims marched through Karbala city, Iraq to commemorate Ashura. 20,000 Iraqi troops and police guarded the event amid tensions due to clashes between Iraqi troops and members of a Shia cult, the Soldiers of Heaven, which left around 263 people dead (in Basra and Nasiriya).
The Gaza War is coming at a poignant time for the Shiite world, since the opening 10 days of the first month of the Muslim year, Muharram, are a time of mourning for the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Husayn b. Ali. The tenth of the
month, called Ashura, is especially sacred. Some Shiites hold public processions and beat, whip or cut themselves in grief that Husayn was struck down by forces of evil. It is therefore a season of heightened emotionalism, in which the focus is on grieving for the weak, cut down by powerful forces of oppression.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
The nation's 41st president said Sunday that he would like to see a second son, Jeb, be president one day.
Jeb Bush is the current president's younger brother and a former popular governor of Florida. He is mulling a run for Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.
Asked in a broadcast interview about Jeb Bush's consideration of the Senate seat, Bush 41 said: "I'd like to see him run. I'd like to see him be president someday."
When asked if he was serious, he said: "Or maybe senator. Whatever. Yes, I would. I mean, right now is probably a bad time, because we've had enough Bushes in there. But no, I would. And I think he's as qualified and able as anyone I know on the political scene. Now, you've got to discount that. He's my son."
The University of Oregon recently triggered this reaction by rescheduling the 2010 June Commencement Ceremonies to accommodate the NCAA national track and field championships.
Move graduation for a track meet?
This decision to prioritize athletics over academics, inconveniencing thousands of students and their parents, might have been excusable were it not the latest in a long line of similar decisions. For example, the Athletic Department’s current football plans include moving the Civil War game to the Saturday before exam week, holding more Thursday night games, and establishing an annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against the University of Washington Huskies. Never mind that students need to study for finals, attend Friday classes, or spend Thanksgiving with their families. Oregon athletics and the university administration are again reaching for a quick payout at the expense of academic quality and institutional integrity.
Thanks to the cooler early morning temperatures, stepping out for a walk at 5 a.m. is an activity that I always look forward to. For one, it will be months before Eugene warms up to that temperature, and therefore I feel an urgency to enjoy the warmth.
Also, after having become accustomed to the milder Oregon climate, while I rush around the park in Chennai wearing shorts and a T-shirt, it is quite a sight to see the young and the old walk and jog wearing woolen beanies, scarves and sweaters. I suppose after getting used to temperatures in the high 90s and in the triple digits for most of the year, 65 can seem relatively cold to them.
This time, though, my sister mentioned the other day that she has yet to take the woolen blankets and sweaters out of the boxes. It is no wonder, then, that I have spotted very few people wearing sweaters in the park.
The much warmer overnight temperatures also have made the city a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes. While not as huge as the mosquitoes that sucked the blood out of me in Alaska, the smaller ones here in Chennai are equally thirsty for nourishment and seem to enjoy my “American” blood, much to my discomfort!
Yet there is very little talk about the weather and climate change. Those topics have been pushed way back by the worsening economic conditions and the possibility of a war with Pakistan.
Furthermore, all it takes is one trip outside the comfortable enclaves in cities to the smaller towns and villages, where the majority of India lives, to understand why climate change fails to register as the biggest worry for the struggling millions. Thousands of villages and towns in India lack even the basic necessities of sanitation facilities and a protected and clean water supply.
As one commentator put it recently in an Indian newspaper, “Out of the 1.2 billion people who defecate in the open worldwide because they have no access to toilets, more than half are Indian.” Ouch!
When daily life for millions is thus severely constrained by economic and public health limitations, it is not difficult to understand why these issues might take precedence over climate change.
I am not dismissing the reality that as more and more Indians, Chinese and the rest of the world’s population become affluent, the more they also are going to contribute to global climate change — particularly given the reliance on inefficient carbon- based energy sources. And, of course, we could make a convincing point that even the poor in villages and cities need to worry about climate change because we are all doomed to experience its effects, irrespective of how poor or affluent we are. But the importance of climate change pales in relation to the immediate struggles of daily life.
Thus, with every trip, I am convinced even more that the burden is on us in the advanced countries, and the United States in particular, to take the lead on tackling this global environmental challenge. (It is ironic, indeed, that I should write about climate change after having traveled to the other side of the world in highly polluting jet planes!)
The economic recession gives us an opportunity to consider our enormous consumption — which is, after all, a significant part of the climate change story. We need environmental equivalents of Slim Fast to get us on to a consumption regimen that can help slow down this urgent global problem. The highly influential Oprah Winfrey can launch a “climate change diet” program — perhaps even a separate television channel, “O!-lite,” that will be exclusively devoted to this topic.
Maybe we can employ one strategy that we have used to educate and alert consumers about dietary consumption — the nutritional labels on food packages.
I can imagine easily the packing on the 56-inch high-definition TV or an iPhone having a “climate change” information chart similar to the nutritional labels — information on carbon dioxide emissions, for instance, comparable to the calorie data on a chocolate bar. We can then make decisions as informed consumers, just as some of us avoid junk food packed with fats.
Otherwise, it is equally possible that the bloodthirsty mosquitoes of Chennai will enjoy the warmer world, and write the final chapters of the planet’s story.
Published in the Register Guard, Jan 4, 2009