Monday, July 31, 2006

Robert Fisk: "How can we stand by and allow this to happen?'

In all, there were 56 corpses, and 34 of them were children. When they ran out of plastic bags, they wrapped the small bodies in carpets. This is the village where, according to tradition, Jesus turned water into wine.

The bombs were made in America.

Click here to read the story by Robert Fisk in today's Independent (UK).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Death of a wonderful young woman...

On Friday I learned that the young woman killed in an accident involving an elephant in Tennessee was the daughter of my very good friend Paul Burke.

Paul and his wife Carol live in Mansfield, Massachusetts. We meet regularly at a restaurant halfway between Haverhill and Massfield. Paul always spoke so proudly of his wonderful daughter, Johanna. He spoke of how she loved animals.

Coming on the heels of all the bad news from the Middle East this week the news of Johanna's death was just a terrible shock.

This weekend my prayers are with Paul and Carol. They are both people of great faith and I know this will sustain them during this painful time.

George, have we had enought killing yet?

A Red Cross rescue worker walks past dead bodies after Isreali air strikes on the southern Labanese village of Qana.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Book recommendation...

Last night I had dinner with a friend who told me he was going out today to buy "Fiasco," the new book by Thomas Ricks detailing the events that led up to the Iraq War and the story of what happened after the invasion.

Ricks is senior Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post.

Anyway, following the recommendation of my friend, I'm on my way to get a copy. I understand that much of the information in the Ricks book is already known. It is getting rave reviews because of the way he has put mountains of information into a coherent narrative.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rebuilding New Orleans...

Photo shows Mayor Nagin looking on during a press briefing yesterday about the city's progress and rebuilding efforts. (Photo: Ted Jackson/Times Picayune)

This morning's Times-Picayune has this story about progress that has been made in rebuilding New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. The article has some encouraging news but it would appear that most of the devastated neighborhoods still look like abandoned wastelands. Read for yourself.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Taking a break...

This morning after watching the news headlines from the Middle East on the TV networks I decided to stop posting on this conflict. It's too emotionally draining to even think about what's happening.

Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel...but I don't see it. And poor Condi seems to be in way over her head.

The original NeoCon plan was to establish a pro-American and pro-Israel government in Baghdad. It has not worked out that way.

Maybe things will look better in a few days...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Raise Wages, Not Walls...

Former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis is co-author of this thought-provoking opinion piece in today's New York Times. In this piece, titled Raise Wages, Not Walls, the authors make the argument that the best way to address the issue of illegal immigration is by raising the minimum wage.

You do not need to have TimesSelect to read this article by Dukakis and his co-author, Daniel Mitchell.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What a mess!

Condi was in Beirut today assuring whatever is left of the Lebanese Government that America would help with the reconstruction. Didn't we already provide the bombs to do the destruction? Looks like the American taxpayer is getting screwed on the double.

Condi wants a cease-fire...but not yet. And she doesn't want to talk to the people that we don't like in that neighborhood.


The Independent (UK) has this article on the options for what is likely to happen next in the new Middle East War.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More bombs and aviation fuel for Israel...

According to yesterdays New York Times, the U.S. is speeding up bomb deliveries to Israel. That will go over big with Middle Eastern governments.

In the meantime the carnage continues in Iraq. The situation is just about out of control.

And to make sure we have a strong voice in the U.N. the Republicans in the U.S. Senate are planning to have NeoCon John Bolton officially confirmed.

That's enough bad news for one morning.

Maybe I should mention that they are going to hold a peace conference in Italy but they are not going to invite the major players. Condi should have just gone to London and had a chat with the "puddle" himself. Looks like it is just Bush and Blair calling the shots. Now that's a scary thought when you consider how little Bush knows about foreign policy.

My thought is that when things get really bad they can only get better.


Warning: This post by Billmon is very graphic

Update #2:

This post by James Wolcott brought tears to my eyes.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's happening in Lebanon is tragic...

Last night on an NPR program I heard a reporter who has been based in Lebanon for the past 35 years describe what is happening. One of his main points is that the American media is presenting a totally sanitized version of the destruction. He expressed outrage that as the whole world was in an uproar over the attacks on the defenseless civilian population the Bush Administration insisted that the killing must go on.

I don't understand how bombing a country back into the stone age is going to do anything helpful for Israels future security.

If you want to get a sense of what is really happening in Lebanon visit the Informed Comment, published by Juan Cole.


Read this post by Billmon. It expresses some of the thoughts I have today.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Does Senator Biden think this killing of innocent children is okay?

The story about the innocent victims of the bombing in Lebanon in today's Independent (UK) is only available to subscribers.

Just heard on television that Senator Biden supports the bombing of Lebanon. I guess he's looking for some of that NeoCon money for an upcoming Presidential campaign.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sowing the seeds of future conflict...

In Gaza City, Palestinians stand in front of the Foreign Ministry, hit during an Israeli missile attack at about 1 a.m. Monday, the second time it has been hit in five days. The strike collapsed half of the nine-story building and temporarily knocked out power in much of Gaza City.

(Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP )

The wounded are taken away after a Hezbollah missile strike on Monday in the northern Israeli city of Haifa. At least 12 Israeli civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded by the more than 1,300 rockets and missiles fired in the past week by Hezbollah militants.

(Photo: Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

Photo shows bereaved relatives crying next to the crater left by the Israeli bombing of a water canal that killed three children on Monday in Tyre, southern Lebanon. With the Lebanese death toll exceeding 200 and the Israeli count at 24, the increased efforts to turn to diplomacy showed little prospect of an immediate way out.

(Photo: Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images)

Our President at work...

This past weekend Bush was hamming it up on his bike in Russia while hell was breaking loose in the Middle East. And, as he munched down some food, he was overheard cursing the Syrians in a chat with Blair.

Some are saying that the President's goofy behavior may have something to do with the stress of the job. He must be aware that American prestige is at an all-time low. I have the impression that he's become disengaged from what's going on around the world. There seems to be a sense of helplessness coming over the Presidency.

Feel free to post a caption for this photo in "Comments."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Looking for answers...

First a caveat. I have no unique insights into the events unfolding in the Middle East although I've had a long-standing interest in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. At one time, back when Jimmy Carter was President, I believed that a solution would eventually be found to this intractable conflict.

This past weekend, like many others, I spent a lot of time thinking about the events unfolding in Israel and Lebanon...and searching for some objective commentary. It's not easy to find. In the blogosphere many of the comments are inflammatory. Some are downright anti-Semitic.

I did find a few informative resources. During the last few days Billmon has been publishing some insightful commentary. And Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan, has been providing useful commentary. Unlike many of the TV commentators, Billman and Cole attempt to see what is happening from two perspectives.

Yesterday afternoon a friend asked how I thought this conflict would unfold. I gave an honest answer. I don't have a clue. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Death and destruction in Lebanon...

As I watch the destruction of Lebanon I feel total sadness.

After a most destructive civil war the resourceful people of Lebanon were in the process of rebuilding their country. Now the Israeli's are systematically destroying the infrastructure with bombs and jets provided compliments of the American taxpayer. Those Lebanese who have the resources are scrambling to flee the country.

George Bush makes a feeble request to the Israeli's to stop bombing civilians and then joins the Israeli's in playing the blame game.

In the meantime, the Shiites in Iraq are threatening to take revenge for what is happening in Lebanon. This could be bad news for our troops in Iraq.

There was a time when America made some pretense of acting like an honest broker in the Middle East. Bill Clinton abandoned the idea of pretending to be neutral. Now Bush has taken it a step further by acting as a cheerleader for the Israelis.

Your tax dollars at work!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Looking for good news...

The news has been so depressing lately that this morning I went looking for something upbeat to post on this blog. My search of Google News and other sources led me to conclude that the most positive news story had to do with the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Unfortunately, on this bright sunny Friday morning the news is dominated by the escalating violence in the Middle East. I'm just unable to comprehend how bombing the suburbs of Beirut is in the best interests of Israel or the United States. One friend assures me that we'll never see the end to this conflict.

In the meantime, Bush and his G8 pals will be having their annual photo-op in Russia this weekend.

Anyway, I started out with the intention of only posting good news!

Chaos in the Middle East...

Yesterday I visited a very good friend at the State House in Boston and we went to a local pub for lunch. We talked politics. Like myself, he's a political junkie.

My friend Jack and I agreed that the situation in the Middle East could easily get out of hand... and the consequences are scary to imagine. Bush has pointed an accusatory finger at Iran and Syria. What if Israel, with U.S. support, attacks either of these countries? Hell could break loose.

It's at times like this I think of the advice of that young black man in California who had reason for revenge: "Why can't we all just get along together?" Of course this advice is too simplistic for the incredibly complex problems in the Middle East but it does suggest that bombing and killing is a stupid enterprise.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Marching to a different drum on July 12th...

When I got up this morning I realized it was JULY THE TWELFTH. If you grow up in the Republic of Ireland, as I did, this date would bring back memories.

As a teenager I remember reading those newspaper stories about how the Orangemen, all dressed up with their gold sashes, would parade through the streets of the towns and cities of Northern Ireland. Catholics would stay out-of-sight to avoid harassment.

Now it appears that many of the middle-class Protestants stay out of sight when the Orangemen go marching. The Guardian (UK) has this story describing how many of them see "the 12th" as a good opportunity to get away for a holiday to the South of Ireland or to some place on the European continent.

They still have problems in the North of Ireland but some of the old sectarian hatred seems to fading into history.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A war referendum in Connecticut...

For the first time the Iraq War is the central issue in an American election. The result of the Democratic primary election between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont could have a major impact on the 2008 Presidential election.

The Lieberman/Lamont contest is shaping up as a referendum on the Iraq War. From the beginning Senator Lieberman was a leading advocate for regime change in Iraq. He continues to be unapologetic in his support of the war. With bad news coming out of Iraq every day Lieberman faces a difficult challenge.

I've been surprised at the intensity of the anti-Lieberman sentiments in Left Blogistan. Clearly, some of the liberal bloggers are on a crusade to use this election to promote their anti-war agenda.

Senator Lieberman says that if he looses the primary election he will run in the general election as an independent candidate. We'll just have to stay tuned to see what happens.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Baghdad erupts in violence...

Photo: Mohammed Hato/AP

A mother held the IV drip for her daughter, 8, who was wounded by cross-fire during street fights in the Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad yesterday. The Sunni-Shiite bloodletting was frightening even by recent standards.

Beginning to look like the situation is out of control. Not much our soldiers can do. Maybe it's time to bring them home ...and hope and pray that the Iraqis can resolve their differences.


CNN's Nic Robertson is reporting some recent (horrible) examples of brutality in Iraq that are beyond my ability to understand. Maybe the reports are based on false information. Anyway, the reports are too graphic to be described here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

World Cup Final this afternoon...

It will be the "over the hill gang" against the favored Italians. Should be a great game! I have a sense that Americans are beginning to catch on to World Cup fever.

There should be 30,000 to 40,000 in Boston City Hall Plaza to watch the game on a huge TV screen. This gathering is the idea of Mayor Thomas Menino. Of course Boston has a large Italian-American community.

I don't have a strong favorite but I must confess that I would not be disappointed if those veterans playing for France pulled the upset. I don't expect this to happen.

Enjoy the game!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Another terrorism plot foiled?

Just a few weeks ago we were told of the plot by the Miami 7 to blow up the tallest building in Chicago. Some say this group didn't have the resources to hold-up a local Seven-Eleven. Now we have reports of a plot to blow-up a tunnel in New York City. Again, we're told this was at the "aspirational" stage - not the operational stage.

Am I the only person who believes all this talk of terrorists plots has everything to do with the fact that we have an election coming up in a few months? Got to remind people that fear of those bad guys is our number one concern as voters. We sure don't want them thinking that the Iraq War is their top concern.

I've sure become very cynical about the "war on terrorism" that we're waging! Anyone out there share my cynicism?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Death of a Salesman...

I first came to know of Ken Lay and the company he founded back in 1998. The New York Times had published a detailed article describing the culture that Lay and his management team had created at Enron.

I had more than a passing interest in the Times article as my work as an organizational psychologist mostly focused on building entrepreneurial organizations.

The article described how the management of Enron had created a free-for-all entrepreneurial work environment where managers at all levels were encouraged to find all kinds of ways to increase business and profits. Lay's vision was that everyone associated with the company could become rich.

Kenneth Lay had almost a messianic zeal about promoting innovation. The son of a preacher, as a child he sold newspapers, baled hay and learned how to make money.

I believe Lay became victim to his own hype. He was a super-salesman who was in denial even as the company he created disintegrated.

In the end, a very sad story. A man who was deeply committed to creating a great company and to contributing to his community ends up destroying the lives of many he believed he was helping.

Somewhere, there is a lesson to be learned in the Ken Lay story. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The State of New Orleans: An update...

Despite the scale of waste in the reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina, the vast majority of the money allocated by the federal government has been converted into a substantial amount of progress.

For details read this story in today's New York Times and check out this chart.

With all the negative stories about crime in the City it is encouraging to hear any good news.


On a less positive note today's Times-Picayune has this story about the drop-off in the summer tourism business. Of course New Orleans was never a favorite summer tourist destination because of the spirit-destroying humidity.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrating Independence Day...

In recent years we have become a more polarized nation with the people on right end of the political spectrum claiming to be more patriotic and loyal to American values than the "lefties." This explains why their representatives in Washington took time out recently to promote an amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting the flag of our country. One distinguished Senator described the Flag-burning Amendment as "the most important issue confronting the American people."

Some of us would describe patriotism somewhat differently. The emphasis would be on protecting those individual rights enshrined in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were intent in creating a society where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were protected.

Anyway, our celebration of Independence Day this July 4th is a good time to reflect on what it means to be a patriotic American.

Have a safe holiday...and Happy Birthday, America!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day: A Time to Remember...

As the country celebrates it is good to remember those families who are called upon to make extraordinary sacrifices. (Photo courtesy of Dependable Renegade )

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sobering news from Middle East...

The two top news headlines on Google News this morning are not very encouraging.

The first headline states, "Israel targets Palestinian PM's Office." The story goes on to say that the Prime Minister's building in Gaza was burning but Ismail Hariga escaped.

The second headline states, "Sadr City Market explosion kills 66." The story goes on to say that this bomb explosion in a Baghdad slum left over 100 injured. Just imagine what that scene must have been like.

These two stories are reminders of how much the Middle East policies of the NeoCons have failed. It seems to me we are not winning the minds and hearts of too many people in that part of the world.

Gaza under seige...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tragedy in Gaza and the West Bank...

Photo shows dust and smoke billowing after an Israeli mobile artillery piece fired towards the Gaza Strip at a position near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just outside the northern Gaza Strip , Wednesday June 28.

The situation in Gaza and the West Bank has gone from very bad to catastrophic. The Bush Administration has led the effort to financially strangle the Palestinian Authority. Now electricity has been cut off for most of the residents of Gaza. This means that many do not have drinkable water.

Half of the legally elected representatives of the Palestinian people have been arrested. It is not just the intimidation of the Palestinian people that we're witnessing. It's the humiliation of a people who have already suffered for too long.

And what has been the response of the Bush Administration? Silence. When Bush finally speaks on this issue you can expect he will blame and demonize the Palestinians. He and Condi seem to embrace the view of the Christian right that God is on the side of the Israelis. Otherwise known as the Pat Robertson Doctrine.

What about the response of the mainstream media? Most of the on-site television reporters that I've heard seem to blame the Palestinians for the punishment they are taking.

Here's what I find really disappointing. The issue of what is happening in Gaza or the West Bank has been almost completely ignored in the Progressive Blogosphere.

Okay, maybe there is some unwritten rule about not making comments that could be interpreted as sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. That doesn't make sense to me. Does anybody understand that this kind of onslaught against a mostly defenseless people is only going to breed terrorism?


Juan Cole has this informed comment on what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank.

Update #2:

This post by Wolcott puts the assault on Gaza in perspective.