12 August, 2007

Weekly Reader

Read up, kids. It's been hotter than Hades here this week. At least the garden is full of bamiya, badthinjan, and fasuliya. Here are some random readings and rantings from me to you to close out the week.

What I'm listening to: Burhan Öçal
What I am reading: Aeschylus, Nazim Hikmet, and (still) History of the Arab Peoples
What I am looking for: a good translation of the poems of Rabi'a

Andi got a big hug from me on Saturday for his piece, The War on Terror™, So Far, which made it to Cursor's sidebar. Kudos, Andi.

Keep up to date with what US Congressman from Colorado, US Presidential hopeful, and all-around crazy man Tom Tancredo is up to at this blog, Tancredo Watch, the author of which has been threatened by pro-Tancredo forces, but continues to print the truth. As Tancredo continues to trumpet his platform of madness, even other Republicans are backing slowly away from him, trying not to make direct eye contact. Listen to Tancredo explain his plan to the people of Iowa. Even the U.S. State Department spoke out against Tancredo's idea of a retaliatory strike on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As the great Juan Cole at Informed Comment puts it, "Tom Tancredo, an inspiration to the criminally insane that they, too, could run for President."

Tancredo's easy pickings. What the heck happened to Richardson and Obama recently? Anybody? I am now completely devoid of hope for substantive political change here. Not so much based on their gaffs, but because the debates I've seen have brought up little in the way of concrete policy ideas that make me sit up and take notice. Nobody has an idea of what to do about Iraq. Most experts say even if we cut and ran now it would take 2 years just to physically withdraw all the troops and gear. I just want somebody to say something that sounds like it comes from them, not a focus group or handler. And quit parroting the Republicans: war is peace; it's not "torture", it's "interrogating"; the Israeli government = 2 good 2 B 4 gotten...And, once again, we're down in the weeds with divisive social issues nobody will ever agree on while the middle class shrinks, housing foreclosures skyrocket, a recession looms. Oh, and I think there are a few isolated pockets of people that still respect this country. You know, isolated villages in deep mountain valleys with little contact with the outside world. Bravo.

With all the calls for "Me first!" between states as to who will host the first primary, one obvious idea was missing: let Florida go first because my home state has a less than stellar track record with elections. There may be a race or two still being contested in the courts from the last Congressional election. Seriously, they need time, people, to start working out all those inevitable kinks - paper or electronic, paper trail or Diebold-style....

I told Om-Taromeet that once I return to the Middle East and she calls me overseas, from now on, she'll have to begin each call with a greeting to whatever branch of government is listening in. Someday I can file a Freedom of Information Act request to view my file, which will be filled with emails from mom about her neurotic pound dog, Precious. Please understand, you don't even have to be suspected of terrorism or being one of those pesky "evil-doers" to be spied on now. The USA, after all, is all about equal opportunity for all. For the record, the Democrats folded on this one, too. I would complain that we, the voting public, didn't get a chance to debate the bill, but given the underwhelming response by the majority.....

For those of you who are o.k. with torture, read Jane Mayer's piece in the New Yorker about the CIA's "Black Sites" and the tactics involved. If you read one thing this week, make it this.

And follow the downward spiral that has been the war in Afghanistan in this important piece from the NY Times.

O.K., don't stop with Mayer. Be sure to read Newsweek's remarkable history of the global warming denial industry. Yup, industry.

Andrew Stephen, writing in the New Statesman, lays bare the truth of America today. Those bootstraps just aren't strong enough these days to pull most of us up.

Catch up with one of my photography heroes, Susan Meiselas.

What's with all the critters in carry-on? I love that TSA missed the monkey. How do you miss a monkey, people?!

I love that Fox News and The Right are freaking out about the Freakonomics blog post about "WWTTD?" That's "What Would The Terrorists Do?". You know, because I know somewhere al-Qaeda members are surfing the Web, reading the NY Times website (after checking their MySpace pages), and telling each other, "Hey, this is brilliant! I cannot believe we didn't think of this first!"

Golaniya just returned from a trip to Turkey with some interesting thoughts and lovely photos.
Time for another glass of tea from my çaydanlık.....


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