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Uneasy Calm in Palestine

Sure, blame it on Israel.

After more than fifty years, the Palestinians can't have an economy or government without a dole. No money for civil servants without charity. Too bad.

Perhaps if they stopped blaming Israel, accepted reality and stopped shooting each other and blowing up people and, rather worked on creating an economically feasible country, they wouldn't be in this fix.

When the settlers vacated Gaza, instead of moving into the greenhouses and keeping the economy working, they decided instead to lob missiles into Israel. Smart move? I don't think so.

MERRY BODNER

Surfside, Florida

Mar 8 2007 - 3:00pm

Cheney's Henchman Gets His

I have cracked out my late aunt's Green Book, the Social List of Washington DC, 1977. Along with her, Dick and Lynne Cheney appear there in less important roles than they enjoy today.

He is "Assistant to the President". Must an honorific left over from Nixon. I am sure Carter would not have kept him hanging around.

But I suppose that on January 1, he still held that position, and thus could be included in the Book. Must have kept that house in Maryland in anticipation of his restoration.

There is also a protocol list at the back of Carolyn Shaw's register. The chapter at page 12 is "Precedence (Who Outranks Whom)." It is very long, comparable in length to the Mikado's list (will Libby be missed?) given in the article, of which indeed the above list should be a subset.

In case you didn't already know, the US Chief of Protocol is found two ranks down from the Commandant of the Coast Guard, but she/he outranks a four-star general.

If you are wondering about precedence rankings of officials not listed therein, you are kindly asked to telephone Mrs. Shaw at 337-2880 (circa 1977). No need for an area code. Not in Byzantium on the Potomac.

Dianne C. Foster

Newton, MA 02461

Mar 8 2007 - 2:59pm

Edwards Gets a Boost

The Edwards statement, "I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," he said. "I think he would be appalled, actually.", is the height of hypocracy.

This from an ambulence-chaser who lives in an 8000 square foot home.

If he is so concerned about the forgotten in society, why doesn't he provide a home for some of them in his fabulous estate!

Ron Eppert

Westfield, IN

Mar 8 2007 - 2:04pm

Edwards Gets a Boost

I do not in any way condone Ann Coulter's comment, but I cannot help noting that your hysterical response proves her point.

It's a word, not the end of the world.

Get over it.

Tom Foley

Winchester, VA

Mar 8 2007 - 1:00pm

L'Étranger

Lauren -

I admit that in my response I did you a disservice, with snarky ad hominem remarks; and I muffed my point, to boot.

Let me point out, though, that I never mistook your use of "charity" for the common one, and didn't mean to indicate something given or granted. I meant instead to deny, in interpreting Biden's comments re Obama, that this 64-year-old attorney and Senator had shot far of the intended mark, in speaking. I'll cop to the same "rejection of that more simple interpretation in favor of the more complex" which you attributed to Patricia Williams: Biden's remark was discriminative (in the very general sense), and not some great bearhug of the all-inclusive America-to-be.

Here's the lesson Biden failed to learn (he seemed only slightly chastened, when he appeared on Bill Maher's "Real Time"): picking out a prodigy from ANY "minority" to cite the specimen for his/her certain bright spots - the clean eloquence of Obama; the ballsy resolve of a female executive; or the butch/un-flamboyant demeanor of a gay man, and so on - lands you immediately in the mire of intolerance & stereotype. The self-conscious graciousness in the offer of the compliment does not extend to, is not shared by, the compliment’s object (Clarence Thomas or Dinesh d’Souza or Ann Coulter aside). This may hurt, if ever you’ve offered such a compliment only to be rebuffed, and even many full-blown racists are stung to be recognized as such—but them’s the breaks. To grant approbation to that one black-man-who-isn't-really-"black" is to reject even that rare prodigy or ideal specimen--a kind of socio-political "observer's effect"...

With regard to what I said regarding work, housing, health care, and so on: I meant to say that those things ARE the sum of race, of being "black." And a call for transcendence of differences in skin color/tone, or for a bridge between "cultures" doesn't approach the plain reality of American racism, which is all in the numbers. Differences in color, dress, speech, mores or whatever mean nothing when compared with matters such as zoning, Congressional districts & budgeting, environmental issues, bank lending patterns, quality of health care, policing, etc. I think that it is only at the level of those things that talk about "race" becomes more than a discourse on angels on the head of a pin.

Greg Little

North Plainfield, NJ

Mar 7 2007 - 5:23pm

Rushed Primaries

I applaud your taking this position. The front-loaded primary process funneled the Democratic Party into a hasty decision in 2004. Its nominee had time to raise more money as a result, but in the end the extra money didn't matter. So far, 2008 looks like even more of a circus.

The greatest evil of our current system is the media's propensity to declare a winner when only a few mostly rural, mostly white people have had the chance to vote. Rotating regional primaries should give non-white, urban people a voice--while frustrating the mainstream media.

Maybe then they'll continue to report on multiple candidates in the spring, although always below the celebrity scandal du jour.

Mark Graham

Cheverly, Maryland

Mar 7 2007 - 2:41pm

Edwards Gets a Boost

Ann Coulter was lynching the presidential candidate when she said, "I would comment on John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot.'" Her verbal lynchings continued when she announced, ""Our blacks are better than their blacks." Ann Coulter has forgotten basic human decency as well as the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights movement, and the individual liberty of all Americans.

If every "faggot" left the armed services the US would need to reinstate the draft. Does she not think about the gays and lesbians on the casualty lists for her wars--wars fed by conservatives?

We are often guilty of attacking the person instead of attacking the issues, but there are two issues involved that would have angered many despite the speaker.

1. The word "faggot" was used. The nation is divided and uncertain. We can't create more divisions by using words designed to inflict pain.

2. African-Americans were objectified, made to look like property belonging to a certain person or group. In a country where our civil liberties are being stretched paper thin we cannot begin to think of people as objects.

Would I be mad if Hillary Clinton had made the statements? YES. I'm loyal to my friends and will continue to fight for their civil liberties and mine.

Mr. Edwards deserves the opportunity Coulter has given him to clarify his position on the issues, but he doesn't deserve personal attacks.

Peace.

Jerie Leep

Tenkiller, OK

Mar 7 2007 - 1:59pm

When's the Idea Primary?

Those of us who support Congressman Dennis Kucinich for president find these kinds of columns very frustrating. Everything Borosage laments as being lacking in the campaigns of Clinton, Obama and Edwards can be found in the Kucinich campaign.

Kucinich has been tested. The multi-termed Congressman from Ohio has an outstanding voting record on the important issues of the day. His policies and proposals are rock-solid.

Dennis Kucinich not only favors national healthcare, Medicare for all, (compared to Edwards' national health INSURANCE plan), but he has joined with Congressman Conyers to actually sponsor such a bill, HR 676, now in the Congressional hopper. Kucinich has been advocating this approach for many years, he was ahead of public opinion in 2004, but now he's right in the mainstream, according to all polls on the issue. Kucinich has tagged as a "fault line" the struggle within the Democratic party to admit that private, for-profit health care plans are the sticking point in getting real health care for all Americans.

Kucinich voted against the 2002 Iraq War Resolution and every war-funding bill since then, obviating the necessity for an apology to anyone. Unlike his opponents, he has a detailed 12-point plan for getting us out of Iraq. He was the only presidential candidate to speak at the massive anti-war rally in DC in January. He's been given an award by Military Families Speak Out. He was ahead of the crowd in 2004 on this issue, and now he finds himself in the mainstream of public opinion.

Yes, "activists, particularly in the early primary states, should continue to demand more" of the three candidates you name. Better yet, those activists should turn their attention, and their efforts, to the Kucinich campaign. Check out his web page: Kucinich.US, to find his take on the issues you say we should be caring about, "our global strategy, our imperial commitments, our trade and investment policies, on how to make this economy work for working people, on how to meet threats, from Al Qaeda to climate change." No need for training, Dennis Kucinich is already on top of all those critical issues.

Jean Hay Bright

Dixmont, Maine

Mar 7 2007 - 1:02pm

The Persecution of Sami Al-Arian

Characterizing Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg as an "Islamaphobe," Alexander Cockburn notes Kromberg's prominent role in prolonging the incredibly harsh incarceration of pro-Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Melva Underbakke's article in the March-April issue of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs clearly documents Mr. Kromberg's anti-Arab, anti-Muslim biases, which the Virginia prosecutor repeatedly plays out in public conversations as well as in heavy-handed courtroom behavior:

• In 2003, Kromberg was accused of using "unlawful coercion, threats, and intimidation" in his prosecution of naturalized U.S. citizen Abdulkadir Ali.
• In the trial of Masaud Khan, Kromberg presented the jury with blatantly unfounded, inflammatory closing remarks in a devious attempt to link the defendant with the events of 9/11.
• In the case of Ahmed Abu Ali, Mr. Kromberg reportedly scoffed at the torture in Saudi Arabia of the Virginia student . When asked if Ali should be returned to the U.S. to avoid further torture, Kromberg reportedly responded, "'He's no good for us here, he has no fingernails left.'"

Of great concern is Mr. Kromberg's history of setting perjury traps by summoning already acquitted defendants to appear before a grand jury, then questioning them on unrelated matters. In 2004, he successfully used this underhanded tactic with Sabri Benkahla. Clearly aiming to prolong Dr. Al-Arian's incarceration, perhaps indefinitely, Kromberg is once again up to his old tricks.

Enough is enough. In the name of American justice, Attorney General Gonzales must be called upon to reign in this rogue prosecutor, to honor the government's plea agreement with Dr. Al-Arian, and to release Sami as promised.

Lois M. Price

Tampa, FL

Mar 7 2007 - 9:54am

Rushed Primaries

It does not matter a tinker's damn when or where there are primaries until the day comes when there are candidates that represent the needs of the common people.

Matt Drayton

San Francisco, CA

Mar 6 2007 - 11:29pm