Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spreading Democracy

I was taken by one line in this AP story about CNN correspondent Lucia Newman being hired by Al-Jazeera for its new international network. The story notes about Al-Jazeera that it is an "influential Arabic network that has come under fire from the Bush administration." Though figuratively true, the statement is unfortunately quite literally true, too, as the US bombed Al-Jazeera offices in Afghanistan in 2001, shelled the Baghdad hotel where Al-Jazeera journalists were staying (as the only guests) in 2003, and Bush reportedly had entertained the notion of bombing Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar in 2004. I'll leave it to people more sagacious than me to explain how trying to stifle one of the few independent press outlets in the Middle East jibes with Bush's expressed desire to spread democracy and its institutions in the region.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Not Sure You'll find What You're Looking For, but Welcome Anyway

I'm always curious to see what brings readers to this blog, particularly lately, when the posting has decreased so much. Usually it seems to be through a search engine. I don't know whether to be proud, concerned, or just confused that this little blog was the first result for the MSN search, "I want to see what a dick looks like".

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Oh, the Humility

As he comes from a political party and an administration that has given us the likes of Duke Cunningham, Custer-Battles, Tom DeLay, and Jack Abramoff, the fact that Claude Allen is a suspected crook is no surprise. What's surprising is the low stakes involved. These other guys were running scams that netted them millions; Allen is accused of defrauding department stores of about $5,000 through various fraudulent refunds. Couldn't somebody have taken Allen under their wing and shown him how these things are done in the Republican Party? Aside from the personal humiliation he must feel for having been caught in such a penny ante scheme, this degrades the hard-earned reputations of the Republicans and the Bush Administration for being world class crooks.

Musical Meme

I'm not sure why I read her blog, or she reads mine, but from The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns comes a simple meme, "list seven songs you are into right now." Easy enough, eh?

1. Suddenly I see - KT Tunstall
2. Scuttlebuttin' - Stevie Ray Vaughn
3. Bolero Sonambulo - Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban
4. Heart of Mine - Peter Malick Group featuring Norah Jones
5. Who Were You Thinkin' of? - Texas Tornados
6. Why Should I Care? - Diana Krall
7. If Loving You is Wrong - Cassandra Wilson

I just want to add that K.T. Tunstall at Slim's a few weeks ago was one of the most engaging performers I've seen in awhile (on a scale that ranges from The Cars, who were mannequins with instruments, to Peter Wolf, who bounced, dipped, spun, and acted like he owned the stadium, she was a lower energy but more charming Wolf). With a strong supple voice, a charming Scottish accent, and an easy patter between songs, she easily captivated a mixed age crowd. Buy the CD, but mostly go see her if you get the chance.

The Threat from Muslim Terrorists at Home

Over at the painfully "moderate" Washington Monthly, guest blogger "Ogged" had this to say,
"The fact is that most of the recent terrorist attacks that you might care to name--9-11, the London bombings, the Cole, the African embassies--were carried out by Muslims, and Muslims who look pretty much like you expect Muslims to look, at that. Yes, Timothy McVeigh was a regular American white boy, but even those of you who are so far left that your right ventricles don't even beat will admit that in your heart of hearts, whatever vanishingly small worries you have about terrorism involve a guy on a bus who doesn't look like Tim McVeigh.

We lose credibility when we don't admit what's obvious to everyone: insofar as we're worried, it's about Muslims..."
I guess the qualifiers that give this any validity are "whatever vanishingly small worries about terrorism" and "insofar as we're worried." Frankly, I just don't worry about terrorism. Right after 9/11, driving across the Golden Gate bridge to work every day, some worry. When a few weeks after 9/11 a piece of construction material fell from the upper deck of the bay bridge, killing a driver, the first reaction was that it was somehow terrorism related. Similarly when a jet crashed in Queens a couple months after 9/11. Since then, though, not so much. I give far more thought to the possibility of being hit by a drunken driver while cycling in Anderson Valley, or of my daughter being harmed in any way by any number of things that can harm teenage girls. High on that list is teenage boys. So my worries about terrorism are, indeed, vanishingly small.

However, to the extent that they do exist, they do not center on Muslims or swarthy people. Yes, the people behind 9/11 and London and Barcelona were Muslims. They were also religious extremists, though, and I suspect that ties them more closely to our very own abortion clinic bombers and assassins, synagogue burners, and the Olympic bomber more closely than it ties them to most Muslims.

The recent cartoon riots were a reminder that followers of Islam have different values and traditions than we do. The recent conviction of David Irving and passage of a new speech-restricting "anti-terrorism" law in Britain remind us that Europeans have different values and traditions as well.

Should we be aware of and alert to the possibility that Muslims in our midst might be plotting against us? Absolutely. But we shouldn't let that blind us to the fact that only a "vanishingly small" percentage of them might be doing so, or that historically white "Christian" extremists have presented a greater threat to us here at home.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Significant, but Worthwhile Detour

Of the contiguous states west of New York, the only one I've never been to is North Dakota and for years I've been stumped for a reason to go there. Now I've got one: to go around South Dakota.

Suits Shall Exceed Twenty Dollars

From Evan Eisenberg, our new Bill of Rights.
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