Monday, March 7, 2011

Gates Scurries To Afghanistan, Peter King Scurries To Homeland Security Committee Meeting

Paul Krugman
John Broder
EJ Dionne Jr
“We’ve got more diversity of a polarizing type. More minorities and women on the Democratic side typically, more older white men with small-business backgrounds in the G.O.P.,” Mr. Fazio said. “They can’t see eye to eye because they don’t see the same things.” - Vic Fazio
"Speaker John Boehner is casting himself as the reasonable man fully prepared to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown. But he also has to satisfy a band of "wild-eyed bomb-throwing freshmen," as he characterized new House members in a Wall Street Journal interview last week by way of comparing them fondly to his younger self." - EJ Dionne Jr
“When there's no agenda and no real message what happens is you can't really have a message. You can put lipstick on a pig all you day long but it's still a pig, ..." - John Boehner

“This is not a decisionmaking trip,”
Last week drones killed nine boys by mistake in Afghanistan. General David Petraeus apologized over the weekend, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that it wasn't enough, what could he do to guarantee something like this wouldn't happen again... Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, the official spin goes like this: "When the fighting season came to a close in Afghanistan last fall, commanders and politicians lauded gains against the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Still, they claimed the real measure of progress would be made when fighting resumed this spring and the military power of the Taliban became apparent.

Now that it is spring, Washington appears to be following up on that assessment. The primary goal of the trip is to get a better sense of how far the United States has come in the past three months, according to Mr. Gates's spokesperson. Gates is slated to meet with soldiers and travel to the volatile southern and eastern areas of the country, and bring his observations back to Washington."

The main problem we face is that after spending billions of dollars on education and training them, the Afghan military still cannot stand on its own. Karzai can bitch and moan all he wants, but if he wants to stay in power, he has to have the aid of NATO troops. As long as we use drones, manned by people in trailers many, many miles away, mistakes will be made. A former member of the Afghan parliament, Daoud Sultanzoy, put it like this: “The reality is this: The Afghan National Army, the Afghan national police, and other related security apparatus in this country are not yet cohesive enough to be called national entities. They still consist of regional and tribal entities. Even the command and control at mid-level in the police and Army, and NDS [National Directorate of Security] are politically oriented.” Now add to the fact that every civiliam's death just adds to an anti-American feeling of non-Muslims coming into their country and killing their children, despite that over 2/3 of the killing of civilians has been done by the Taliban... Ignoring the injunction in the Koran that Muslims should not kill their fellow Muslims, something that only a madman like a Qaddafi would conspire to do...

“we have, unfortunately, too many mosques in this country.”
This week the Homeland Security Committee is having hearings on the extent of terrorists among American Muslims, which seems to be a favorite bugaboo for its chairman, Rep Peter King. Evidently, because we have Muslims in America they must either be all terrorist sympathizers or Black Panthers, and should be investigated more thoroughly.

There is a weird anti-Muslim backlash growing in Europe and America. Russia associates them with Chechen rebels, Switzerland limits the height of the turrets on any new mosque, France bans the face veil and scarves for Muslim women in public. If I recall, three states in the US have passed bills not allowing sharia law to be used in any judicial arguments, and the actual Homeland Security has gotten over three times the amount of complaints about your neighbors than they used to get. People like Peter King, who are uncomfortable with anyone who does not go to their specific church, are afraid that the Muslims who have been living here and are now US citizens, secretly train their children to hate the US and to go on jihad like the Mormon church sends out missionaries...

The Daily Beast's Peter Beinert did a decent job telling why Mr King's focus is a tad inappropriate: "Actually, once upon a time, Republicans claimed that the accommodation and respect America offered people of all faiths was part of what they, as conservatives, championed. As recently as 2000, George W. Bush sought the Muslim vote by condemning religious profiling. As president, he backed government support for all manner of religious charities because he knew that if Christ redeemed lives wrecked by addiction and abuse, so did Allah. Peter King’s Islamophobia, in other words, does not merely threaten the values of secular liberals; it threatens the kind of American exceptionalism in which the GOP claims to believe. It undermines the claim that a religiously informed party need not be a religiously bigoted party. It undermines the claim that Republicans espouse a set of traditional principles, not a particular religious or ethnic heritage."

Basically, Peter King plans on calling on every person who expressed a negative opinion on having a mosque built near the ground zero spot in New York, along with some Muslims who say they have family members who have grown more radical while living here. He denies that he is trying to foment any kind of hatred and disharmony between religions, but we need to know the extent that young Muslim-Americans can become a liability to our safety.

The White House sent Denis McDonough to speak at a church in Sterling, Virginia, hoping to set the tone before the hearings and make them irrelevant: “We have a choice. We can choose to send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow ‘less American’ because of their faith or how they look... If we make that choice,” he added, “we risk feeding the very feelings of disenchantment that may push some members of that community to violent extremism. The bottom line is this. When it comes to preventing violent extremism and terrorism in the United States, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, you’re part of the solution.” It may not fly with the younger crowd, but it could wow their stuffy, old parents... As for our young folk, I don't think for a moment they would be swayed by any of his arguments:

Some good news is that Nevada Senator John Ensign will resign and not run again for Congress. He acknowledged that his scandal over his affair with a friend and co-worker's wife had a part in making his decision. Another factor may have been his parents moving as far away from him as possible...

Some even better news is the city of Budapest, Hungary made Elvis Presley an honorary citizen. A bit late, but very cool. In 1956, the country tried to become independent, and failed. Presley paid tribute to the struggles of the Hungarian people during a January 1957 appearance on America's Ed Sullivan Show, and he dedicated the song Peace in the Valley to the revolutionaries who had lost their lives protesting their nation's Soviet rule just months before... do they have to change their national dish to bacon and peanut-butter sandwiches?

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