November 12, 2007 archive

“It Takes A Network To Defeat A Network”

Crossposted from To Us.  Permission to use noncommercially with attribution. For faster response to questions please email me at aek2013 at columbia dot edu.

Northeastern University hosted retired Central Command General John Abizaid to speak to its Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development students about the U.S. and the Middle East this morning. The public was also invited, and I think I may have been the sole representative of that element of the audience.

General Abizaid, a Colorado Rockies fan, apologized for competing with the Red Sox homecoming parade.

However, the NU Middle East Center host, Professor Denis Sullivan, let him know that his presentation would end in plenty of time to take in the festivities.

Northeastern’s President Joseph Aoun, a professor of linguistics, introduced General Abizaid with this intriguing proposition: America is unique in being “hyphenated”.  People can be Arab-Americans, Latino-Americans, African-Americans, etc., and in America, this enrichment thrives and cultural and ethnic heritage celebrated and valued, instead of the enforced assimilation that occurs in other countries policies toward their immigrants.

Were that it was so.  President Ayoub has not perhaps lived in homogeneous communities in the South or Midwest, for example, where immigrants are not only not rewarded for cultural pride and immersion, but are discriminated for it.  However, I digress, and this optimism is not a bad thing.

General Abizaid had spent time introducing himself to the students beforehand, and he opened by acknowledging them, ROTC members, active military and Northeastern community audience members in attendance. He was comfortable in front of this audience, and he was at home and in command of his message at all times.

Racial Thoughtlessness

Speaking for me only

Brad DeLong is a great progressive commentator on matters economic. But, for a second time that I know of, DeLong has demonstrated a thoughtlessness about race issues. The first, in which he was joined by Matt Yglesias, involved a defense of Bill Bennett's offensive remarks regarding fighting crime through termination of African American pregnancies. (See also Nathan Newman's great piece on the subject.) Today, in pointing out factual errors in a Bob Herbert column (Herbert erroenously confused the Consumer Price Index with the core inflation rate and confusingly used the technical term recession when making an argument about our skewed economy), DeLong, in my view, innocently but insensitively, asked:

How has the New York Times managed to pick Bob Herbert out of the 75 million liberal adults in America? It is a mystery.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion about Bob Herbert. Mine is that he is a national treasure. Certainly NOT liking Herbert is a respectable, though wrongheaded opinion. But surely DeLong SHOULD have known what his comment would invite.

For example, “respectable” champion race baiter, Andrew “Bell Curve” Sullivan wrote:

A question only a left-liberal could ask:

“How has the New York Times managed to pick Bob Herbert out of the 75 million liberal adults in America? It is a mystery.”

Is he kidding me?

Get it? It's because Herbert is black. Ha! What a funny racist idiot Sullivan is. And make no mistake. Andrew Sullivan is a racist. More.    

U.S. General: Survive with God, or perish “in a Godless world”

In January 1951, General Matthew Ridgway was appointed the new commander for the Eighth Army in Korea. U.S. forces had suffered setback after setback after a Chinese and North Korean offensive drove U.S. and UN forces back from nearby the Yalu River and well south of the 38th parallel into South Korea. Only months before, General Douglas MacArthur had promised that the troops would be home by Christmas. But by December 4, 1950, things had gotten so bad the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had approved President Truman’s decision to use atomic weapons, if necessary, to avoid possible defeat.

General Ridgway, who ultimately would take over from MacArthur, was a World War II hero, and considered something of a character. When in public, “he always had a hand grenade attached to one shoulder strap on his battle jacket, and a first aid kit on the other.” The strange regalia earned him the nickname “Old Iron Tits.”

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Dylan II

Desolation Row

We’ve Come a Long Way Since 1999

Ladies and gentlemen, the comedy stylings of Secretary of State Rice:

In an interview on the ABC News program “This Week,” Ms. Rice called on General Musharraf to end the state of emergency “as soon as possible,” saying that his vows to hold elections by early January and to shed his military uniform were “essential to getting Pakistan back on a democratic path.”

“The state of emergency has got to be lifted and lifted as soon as possible,” she said.

Ms. Rice conceded that even if General Musharraf gave up his role as head of the Pakistani Army and his re-election was certified by the nation’s Supreme Court, “this is not a perfect situation.” But she asserted that Pakistan had “come a long way from 1999 and the military coup,” and expressed hope that signs of political progress, seen before General Musharraf declared the state of emergency, would not be lost.

This, on the same day that General Musharraf asserted that martial law would continue through the January election.

Speaking at a news conference one day after President Bush called him the best president for Pakistan, General Musharraf said the emergency decree he issued on Nov. 3 was justified by the need to fight terrorism and would “ensure absolutely fair and transparent elections.”

That the Secretary of State is able to find air between the current state of affairs in Pakistan and the 1999 military coup is certainly intriguing.  But then, it’s not exactly inconsistent.  The Bush White House is known for thinking that elections held under conditions tantamount to military occuption (for example, actual military occupation) are, you know, possibly neat-o.

The Disease of Money

I attended a dinner at a fine Italian restaurant with a group of older mostly retired people who made their money by long term stock market investments.  They seemed totally upbeat and enthusiastic about “the market”.  Little do they know, I think.

I was sort of an outsider,having zero money and only attending because of my parents. We took our assigned seats as I met “John”, a regional sales manager for an investment firm.  His mannerisms were, well, rehearsed but my first impression was so powerful I will remember it until I die.  The black emptyness of this man’s soul literally shook me.  (Mind you I have been on occasion getting these psychic like impressions from pictures of late.  Alberto Gonzales scared the crap our of me.)  God, this man needs more joy in his life.  Two young children he has, yet the mundane conventional conversation topics prevailed.  As dinner progressed I sensed he knew not what to make of me, an engineer eating pollo continental style but talking about horses.  I didn’t watch that “big football game”, I was with the horses.

Horses are prey animals so in learning about them one learns also the ways of the predator, that’s us, in their eyes.  After a solid year of untrained horse and untrained rider the joy of accomplished man horse communication far and away beats the black soul of a money manager.  

Since the dinner though the thoughts of money have even gone to my mother’s head.  You see in this country having money simply means you are married to it.  It is actually not yours.  It belongs to those you hire to manage it, the lawyers you pay to craft documents you have no chance of understanding to protect “assets” that will change next year due to new laws and tax implications.  It is literally an entire industry of bullshit.

The real deal though is that even with an entire lifetime of saving, not spending and even my father collecting cans for the deposit here in America, land of the free and home of the brave you get squat from government.  All of this lifetime of savings is for the possibility of nursing home care.  The land of the free and home of the brave is searching through seven years of detailed financial transactions of its’ senior citizens in order to enter the nursing home.

Now even if I croak, a penniless homeless person I intend petition the Lord himself one last return to earth to mount my Apocalyptic horse, snicker at all the soon to be smitten and say, “I told you so”.  

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