Friday, January 25, 2008


How many times, Dear Gentle Reader(s), did we hear Mr. Bush assert, between the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, and the announcement of the "surge" in late 2006/early 2007, that he allocated as many troops to the military effort as the generals requested?


Today, though, The New York Times carries an op-ed piece by David Frum which seems to indicate a sense that elements of the Republican party disagreed with Mr. Bush's assertions. How many times, then, did we hear from these dissatisfied Republicans?

Aside from Senator McClain, not very many.

Frum's article, "Turning the Triple Play," contains this: "You tax guys insisted on fighting this war on the cheap. So we didn’t expand the armed forces after 9/11 — and fought Iraq with half the troops the generals told us we’d need."

The"generals told" us? Which generals? Who, exactly is "us?" And why haven't we heard about this before? What caused this bit of truth, or party heresy to come to light? Frum has a lot of "'splainin'" to do, but don't look for it.

Frum is best remembered as a speech writer for Mr. Bush whose writings eventually generated "The Axis of Evil." Since he left the administration his criticisms of his erstwhile colleagues has been relatively muted.

If he had given voice to his "Foreign Policy Conservative" avatar (one of the combatants in today's piece) earlier than today, and stressed the insufficiency of troop levels earlier, say January, 2003, we might be in a much better place today. As it is, the "tax guys" won the day. The deaths and mangled bodies which resulted should lie heavily upon the backs of those Republicans and Frum who did not stand up to the money driven wing of their party and demand that this war be funded in such a way that it could be prosecuted more successfully than it has been.

Trust, but verify.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Loyalty to the Ummah?!? OK, but...

Of all the inanities which have soiled the airwaves since the discovery of radio waves, this morning's edition of, cutely enough, NPR's "Morning Edition," provides probably one of the most egregious. It happened during "Many British Muslim Women Embrace Political Islam," narrated by Sylvia Poggioli.

The culprit is a young woman named Aamna Durrani, and she said this during the show: "My allegiance to the Muslim ummah, the community, definitely has got a lot, lot stronger as a result of the war on terror. And it has made the sense of solidarity throughout the world a lot stronger — and definitely for Muslim women here in Britain. It has really made us think where our loyalties lie."

It is the height of vacuity for a woman in Britain, with British civil protections, to talk of "loyalties" to a religious community. Where was the ummah last week when a mother convinced her 12-year-old son to blast himself and others to pieces so that he and she could reunite in some afterlife with her husband, and his father?

Where was the ummah when the girl who was raped was also ordered whipped for being with a non-family male?

Where would Durrani's freedom to record and to air criticism of her government be if she had happened to live in Saudi Arabia?

Would Durrani care to explain the 72 virgins as a reward for martyrdom? Just exactly what would be the purpose, in an afterlife, for 72 virgins? At least the evangelicals could presumably walk through pearly gates and upon streets paved with gold.

What about the ummah of planet Earth? Aren't we all part of a much larger community than that delineated by religious belief?

Aligning oneself with murderous thugs? That's loyalty to Islam?

There's one idea she should verify before once again dissing publicly her British umma.

And other young British Muslim women interviewed by Pogiolli ought to consider the impact of their "claim there's no conflict between their British and Muslim identities, yet they seem indifferent to the possibility that their raised Islamic consciousness could lead not to greater integration, but rather to increased separation from mainstream British society."

There's a ticking something...

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Muckroom Follies 1.20.07 Redemption*

An exception which proves the rule, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is a joy in the case of wallowing in the Townhalldotcom muckroom. Today, January 20, 2008, presents such an exception via a column by Jackie Gingrich Cushman, "Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin." It might be worth a visit and thought.

The piece is a contemplation on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Money quote: "If we really are to live the dream of Dr. King, skin color and religious background should be mere descriptors, and the focus should be on the person inside – the content of the character and how this character is reflected in everyday activities and actions.
Make sure you feel comfortable with whom you are as a person. After all, you did not create the skin, just the person who lives inside it

It's a riff on Shakespeare's "to thine own self be true," but it's a good riff, and the basic thought is worth remembering often.

Trust influences, but verify their ultimate value to ourselves.

*The muckroom is most often filled with droppings, but every once in a while a column appears which makes the trudging worth while.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Muckroom Follies1.15.08 Horse Hair!

Dear Gentle Reader(s), Good News! There has been found a genuine, albeit metaphorical, horse hair over at the Townhall muckroom!

It seems that somehow a rational column has managed to get by the keepers of the purity of Right Wing Nut Scum thought.

Check out "It's Freedom Stupid" by Craig Shirley. In it, he castigates the fundamentalist Yahoos who have seized control of the venerable Republican Party for their attempts to add a "marriage amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. And he uses Ronald Reagan as a prime example of a Republican who would not have supported such an action during his presidency.

Mondy quote: Reagan saw the Constitution as a brilliant document because it does not outline what the citizenry cannot do; rather it stipulates what government cannot do. It is a mechanical document of negative governance. The Marriage Amendment runs contrary to the principles of the Constitution and is offensive both intellectually and historically, like the silly proposal to ban flag burning.

And there's more. The column is a breath of fresh air for the muckroom.

Would there were more of such.

Trust, but verify!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Muckroom Follies 1.11.08

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), today we have an opportunity to take the edge off the Muckroom's right wing tilt--just a touch.

In the wake of Senator Clinton's electoral victory in New Hampshire, there have been several discussions by pundits of both right wing and left wing ideologies of polling failures and something called "The Bradley Effect," which names the peculiar phenomenon of the pollsters being so wrong in predicting that Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles would be elected governor of California in 1982.

On the night of that election, Californians went to bed believing we had elected our first black governor. We woke to the first Armenian-American governor. What happened? What happened was the count from Orange County, which was, and still is to a large extent, a Republican bastion.

Bradley led in the polls by a good margin; Deukmejian won by a small margin. Apologists argue that people were reluctant to tell a pollster that they were not willing to vote for an African-American (was that the phrase de jour by then?). So, not wishing to admit to a stranger about inherent racism, the respondent misled the pollster.

That may or may not be true, but the day after the election Mort Tenner, the principal where I was working at the time, said it was the Republican vote in Orange County which put the kibosh on "Governor" Bradley. The Orange County votes were late to be reported, the "News at 11" reported trends--not actual final counts--and the stage was set for a morning surprise. There was no discussion by Tenner at all of incipient racism.

So, was it racism or was it Republican tax policies? The power of the purse, it seems, could well have been the Bradley Effect as much as the power of bigotry.

Trust, but verify.

(This time muckroom writing is spread across the political spectrum. Alas.)

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Muckroom Follies 1.09.08 Shooting fish in a barrel

Too easy. Too easy. Waaaay too easy.
Over at the Townhall Muckroom today, it's possible, Dear Gentle Reader(s), to read a little self-puff piece by one Andrew Tallman entitled "Why Aren't Christians Smarter?"

Here's a cut from Tallman's first paragraph, Have you ever wondered why Christians aren’t smarter? I mean, we have the only true religion, we have a Book which is responsible for all of Western Civilization, and we serve a God who can safely call Himself the supreme champion at every trivia contest.So why aren’t we smarter?

And here, DGR(s), is the answer: Because religions are based on metaphor! And you forgot to pay attention in language class to the importance of and uses of and inherent dangers of METAPHOR!

Ahem. Excuse me. There's a tendency to shout when someone doesn't seem to understand a point during its first presentation.

Trust, but verify.


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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

US Centcom Site--Check it out

This site, which delineates a Sunni-Shia reconciliation, contains comforting information.

The U.S. occupation forces are doing some good work.

Now, if the various political entities would do theirs...

Trust, but verify.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Repetition (Maybe) U.S. Centcom Info

In case you haven't learned of this site, Dear Gentle Reader(s), once again, here is a link for information about the activities--usually not dealing with engagements with an enemy--in which our service personnel are engaged.

There are personal contact efforts going on. There are construction sites. There is a lot more information for us aside from what emanates from the White House or the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

Visit and enjoy.

This is a step in trusting, but verifying.

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