Virginia’s Senate Race: There IS Another Choice

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

Many Virginia citizens are dreading the day, just a week from now, when they have to choose a Senator to represent them for the next six years. According to the news media they really only have two choices: George Allen, the Republican and former Virginia Governor who has too many questions about his personal ethics and attitudes left unanswered and has a tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time; and Jim Webb, the Democrat who used to be a Republican but was a Democrat before that who is a novelist and a former Secretary of the Navy (umm . . . but that was back when he was a Republican so it might not count).

Both of these Virginia Senate candidates have been surrounded by controversy (Allen a little more than Webb) and both have developed strong pitching arms from slinging “mud” at the other in what is turning out to be one of the dirtiest Senate races since . . . well, since the last one!

Both of these candidates have platforms: Allen’s platform is 100% blind support of the current administration while Webb’s is 100% opposition to the current Administration. That, of course, is a gross generalization but if they do have positions they have been almost totally lost in their smear campaigns.

The media, however, is wrong, Virginia voters do have another choice; there is another candidate on the ballot!

The Independent candidate for Virginia’s Senate Seat is a fiscal Conservative who brings 34 of experience as a civil servant to the ‘party.’ This candidate: is a retired Air Force officer who managed a multi-million dollar research and development budget for the Air Force; has been an Air Force reservist for the past twenty-two years; was an election official for the past 12 years; holds degrees in Business Administration and Software Engineering; played basketball in high school and lettered for three years; has raised a family and has four wonderful grandchildren.

That sounds like a pretty well-rounded guy doesn’t it? Except she’s not a guy, she’s Gail Parker a woman who has something to say to Virginia voters that has nothing to do with the other candidates’ weaknesses.

Virginia voters! You still have an alternative and it’s not at all an unattractive alternative. Gail Parker has a direction in mind for the state as well as for the country and if elected you will not only have a competent Senator, you will have an independent Senator who isn’t being pushed in either direction by either “major” political party.

You know all about Allen and Webb, you know, in fact, more than you need to know about Allen and Webb — there is still a week to go and there is one other candidate you need to read about and learn about. She may not, after your research, be your choice but she IS another choice and her name is printed on the ballot. Make a decision on November 7th that is based on YOUR research, not on the media coverage of the circus that has come to town.

Sadly, the competition has beaten Gail Parker’s campaign to the ground. Right now, according to MSNBC, both Allen and Webb are trying to get her to withdraw from the race and support them and she may do that but the name Gail Parker is still on the ballot and it will be there on November 7th.

Links:

Washington Post: What Matters to Voters

The Boston Globe: In Virginia, a big race gets down and dirty

Gail Parker Website: Gail “For Rail” Parker

From the blogosphere:

Ambivalent Mumblings: Gail Parker Considers Withdrawing From The Race

Nine Shift: Vote for Gail “for rail” Parker

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Harvard May Soon Require “Reason and Faith” Study

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

A Harvard University committee with the responsibility for recommendations on new curriculum (Harvard’s Task Force on General Education) has recommended that all Harvard students should be required, as part of their general education requirement, to take one course in a new area of study that they have named: “Reason and Faith.”

This is not to say that Harvard, up until now, has not had a religious study program. The Harvard Divinity School has been around since 1816; the Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions was started in 1960 and the Women’s Studies in Religion Program came into existence in 1973. The Reason and Faith curriculum, however, will be (if the committee’s recommendations are implemented by Harvard’s administration) the first required study in the areas of religion and faith in Harvard’s recent history. In particular, the recommendation is for the university to develop courses that would explore “the interplay between religion and various aspects of national and or international culture and society.” They stress that this is not a religious studies course but rather a course that examines the role of religion on events, “personal, cultural, national, or international.”

However positive this move may sound to the outside observer, there are those ‘closer to the action’ who ask the question:

“Why is the Task Force on General Education afraid of teaching religion?”

This is the lead-in in an article in this morning’s edition of the Harvard Crimson; Harvard’s well-established daily newspaper. The authors of this article, Adam Solomon and Christopher Sullivan argue that the curriculum committee’s recommendations treat “the study of religion itself with contempt.” Solomon and Sullivan argue that the requirement should focus on “the fundamental principles of religious thought;” they basically argue that every other field of study in the university requires a thorough understanding of principles, without which a study of the application of those principles would be superficial and misleading. “The committee’s implication is clear,” they say, “religion may be useful as a lens through which we can better see our society, but it has less intrinsic value as a field of study than, say, science, history, or literature.”

It will be interesting to see if Harvard might lead the way for other universities in the exploration of the impact of “faith” on society and even more interesting to see just how deeply they might go into an understanding of the principles of faith.

What would be fascinating, an not an unlikely option in this secular age, is a course that explores the psychology behind faith-based reasoning.

Links:

The Albany Times Union: U.S. colleges must start dialogues on reason, faith

The National Review Online: General Education at Harvard

The Harvard Crimson: Religion for Religion’s Sake

From the blogosphere:

The Blog of M’Gath: Reason, faith, and Harvard

The Christian Mind: Faith and Reason at Harvard

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Muslim Cleric al-Hilali: A Pre-Islamic Mindset

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.”

By now most readers will be familiar with that quote (translated) from a sermon delivered by Australia’s leading Muslim cleric, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali. The sermon was, ostensibly, a sermon about adultery, delivered at his mosque in Sydney Australia. What has not been made clear in many media reports, however, is the ‘backdrop’ against which this sermon was delivered.

In Sydney, in 2000, four Lebanese Muslim brothers committed a series of rapes. One of which, the brutal gang rape of a sixteen year old girl, was widely publicized. The brothers were finally brought to justice; in 2003 they were found guilty and in 2004 they were sentenced to a combined total of 70 years in jail (read the Sydney Morning Herald story HERE. Through a long series of appeals their sentences were reduced.

The appeals process ended in July of this year. Skeik al-Hilali’s sermon was delivered while the story of the final sentencing was still big news in Sydney. It is therefore doubtful that any of the 500 or so Muslims who heard Sheik al-Hilali’s comments, left the mosque that day with any doubt about what the Sheik was referring to. He was attempting to justify the rape of a sixteen year old girl because the girl in question chose to dress in what he calls an immodest fashion. The Australian News this past week, reported that along with the “meat” analogy that has the Sheik in hot water, he also made these comments:

“If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.” (It is a matter of conjecture whether the “she” referred to in this quote was a reference to any rape victim or one of the victims of the recently sentenced Muslim rapists .)

“Women (are) ‘weapons’ used by ‘Satan’ to control men.

“It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa).”

This mindset that blames the woman for the man’s inability to control his sexual urges reveals the truly uncivilized side of Islam. In pre-Islamic Arabia, before Muhammed and before the Koran, women had no rights and were treated as property they were not considered, as men were, to be ‘real people.’ In some segments of Muslim society that has still not changed. That is apparently where Sheik al-Hilali has his focus — that was also the mindset of the Taliban in Afghanistan before the U.S. took its revenge for 9/11/2001 and is the mindset of the practitioners of “Honor Killings, a practice that is carried out today in many parts of the Muslim world.

Sheik al-Hilali is clearly unfit to retain his position as the leading Muslim cleric in Austrailia (or anywhere else) . . . he, and those like him are unfit to even exist in civilized society.

The good news in this story is the revulsion the Muslim community in Australia feels for al-Hilali and his views and the fact they are openly speaking out against him. Maybe this is a trend that will soon have the decent Muslims around the world publicly denouncing the terrorist tactics that are turning so many countries into ‘killing fields.’

Links:

The Austrailian News: Muslim leader blames women for sex attacks

The Sydney Morning Herald coverage of the 2004 sentencing of the brothers: Gang rape brothers jailed for 70 years

National Geographic News, an overview of “Honor Killings”: Thousands of Women Killed for Family “Honor”

Elsewhere on the Blogger News Network:

Sayings of the Cat-Meat Mufti

Cover it up, ladies

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The VP’s “Waterboarding” Comment in Context

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

Could VP Dick Cheney have been any more clear? Yes, he certainly could have but apparently he is a man of few words . . . too few.

The vice president took an interview last week with Scott Hennen, a radio talk-show host in from Fargo, North Dakota. According to an article in Saturday’s Houston Chronicle here’s how it went:

Hennen told Cheney that “some” of his listeners believed that: “if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we’re all for it, if it saves American lives.”

A bit later Henen asked this question of Cheney:”Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?”

To which Cheney responded: “It’s a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president ‘for torture.’ We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in.”

When I read that transcript of the conversation it was perfectly obvious to me that Cheney was saying that HIS PERSONAL feeling is that waterboarding in OK but OFFICIALLY, the administration considers waterboarding to be a form of torture and, therefore, for the record, the U.S. does not do it.

Why these words didn’t come out of his mouth is anyone’s guess; my guess is that Cheney thought he was saying just that, and saying it very clearly. Later, however, to the ‘pool’ reporters that travel with him, he denied saying “anything”.

Personally, I agree with Henen’s listeners and with Cheney’s personal opinion — Dunk ’em if they know something our government needs to know; and don’t be naive enough to
think, for even a minute, that any kindness or restraint we might practice when dealing with terrorist prisoners will be reciprocated if a terrorist catches one of our soldiers.

Links:

The Houston Chronicle: Cheney’s ‘dunking’ remark revives torture controversy

The Chicago Tribune: White House: VP didn’t back waterboarding

From the blogosphere:

Mother Jones: White House Recants on Cheney Water Boarding Confession

Pacific Views: Cheney Is Coy About Torture

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Our 700-mile Band-Aid

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

In what the majority of Democrats are calling an “election year stunt,” President Bush signed a law into effect on Thursday that authorizes 700-miles of fence along the U.S./Mexican border . . . a fence that will protect the sections of the 2,100-mile border that are most used by people who enter the U.S. illegally. The fence that this law authorized is really more than a fence, the final product (if, indeed, there is a final product) will also include lighting, cameras, sensors and probably quite a few other technological innovations.

This may well be, as the Bush-bashers insist, an election-year stunt but that is quite beside the point. This is an election year, the Republican party wants to retain its majority in the legislature, that is all true, but regardless of what year it is, any move to improve our border security is a step in the right direction.

Our unsecured southern border presents two problems: the one getting all the focus in the media right now is the economic problem. The majority of the American public is very tired, and rightly so, of the drain on our economy that has been caused by the millions of illegals. Many cities have gone nearly bankrupt attempting to provide services for illegals who have no right to those services; many schools are in trouble trying to accommodate the children of illegals, ultimately at the cost of properly educating the children of citizens; hundreds of hospitals and medical facilities have had to close their doors because they can no longer operate at a loss, providing legally mandated services for uninsured illegals. It is a major problem for sure, but perhaps not THE major problem.

The other problem is our national security problem! As well intended as this fence may be, it is still only a band-aid on a gaping wound. America’s borders (all of our borders and our ports) must be secured completely, not just to keep the illegals out who come here looking for work and who inadvertently destroy our economy, but, more importantly, to keep the illegals out who come here to do us harm.

The world is an unstable, hate-filled place right now, thanks, primarily, to those who should not be able to, but do claim the title of Muslim. It may be intellectually stimulating to try and figure out “why” the world is in this state and it may be “satisfying” in one sense or another to be able to fix the blame on a person, movement, political party or something else but worrying about why or who is counter-productive; we must all worry about how to protect ourselves from the madmen who seem to have taken over the Muslim culture and how to fight back against them and defeat them. THAT is the priority; a priority that a partial fence along a porous border will not, by itself, adequately address.

Links:

The Associated Press on Forbes.com: Bush Signs U.S.-Mexico Border Fence Bill

BBC News: Mexico anger over US border fence

From the blogosphere:

Another Blogger News Network post: Bush Approves Border Fence

Scared Monkeys: President George W.Bush Signs the US – Mexican Border Fence Bill … its a Start … Kinda

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The Radical Concept of Marriage

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

The New Jersey Supreme Court today, in a 4 to 3 decision, did what shouldn’t have had to be done by any court or government agency: it recognized the fact that when two adults want to make a legal commitment to each other (any two adults) they have the right to do that. That is already a legal standard with so many precidents on the books that it is as close as anything can get to being indisputable. For some reason, however, that legal standard does not apply in the vast majority of our united states when the legal commitment under consideration is “marriage;” and, in fact, in almost half of the states, under the various state Constitutions, that legal standard will never apply to marriage (unless their Constitutions are changed).

This seems so strange to me! Strange that in a country that was founded on the basic principles of freedom, that that one freedom, the freedom to enter into a marriage contract, has always has a sexual stipulation.

Let’s face reality America! Whether or not same-sex marriages are legal there will always be same-sex couples who are deeply committed to each other’s welfare. Our legal system may be an awesomely powerful force in our lives but it will not change a person’s sexual orientation nor will it dictate who falls in love with whom; nor, I might add, should it try to!

Marriage means commitment and commitment is supposed to be a good thing. Ideally, when two people marry they are committing to be devoted to each other’s welfare and happiness. Does that change if the two people in question are of the same sex? Of course not!

Only one thing would change if same-sex marriages became universally legal: same-sex couples who are married will have the same legal standing (for inheritances, insurance, visitations and etc.) as other married couples. That’s it! Everything else you’ve heard, all the doom, gloom and predictions of disaster, fall somewhere between conjecture, hysteria and propaganda.

But ‘how about the children?’ you ask! What message will it send to the children?

It might just send the ‘radical’ message to the children that all that stuff they’ve learned in school about ALL people being equal, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation is really true.

Pretty radical huh?

Links:

The Boston Globe Online: New Jersey court: same-sex couples entitled to same rights as heterosexual couples

The Washington Post: New Jersey’s Step Forward

From the blogosphere:

Positive Liberty: New Jersey Marriage Decision

Blogger News Network: Same sex marriage or civil union?

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The Second Best Scenario for GOP Conservatives

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

With the 2006 election only two weeks away, the news media has already predicted a winner: the Democratic Party. They base their predictions partly on polls results from professional polling organizations and partly on a burning desire to see President Bush loose control of the House and Senate . . . not that he has that much control, at least on the Senate side, since John McCain started the current Republican rebellion.

The best scenario for GOP Conservatives is, of course, a big enough win so that they retain control of at least one or preferably both legislative bodies; the House and Senate. If indeed they do win that big, they will say (correctly so) that it proves that the media and the polling organizations are delusional and driven by desire rather than facts.

The second best scenario for the GOP Conservatives would be a strong showing by the “Blue Dog Coalition.” The media never says much about the Blue Dog Democrats but they are already a pretty powerful force on the Democratic side of the House of Representatives and with 16 more Democrats running for House seats with “Blue Dog” endorsements, they may get even more powerful.

What is the “Blue Dog” Coalition? Its a group of 37 Conservative Democrats (No! That is NOT an oxymoron!) in the House of Representatives who vote together to try to moderate some of the more extreme Liberal impulses of their fellow Democrats. That is the reason that an increase in their numbers, assuming the media is correct about the coming Democratic landslide victory on Nov. 7th, would be the GOP’s second best scenario; with a Blue Dog win, the Conservative GOPers stand to have a large block of Democrats who will tend to vote with them on some important legislation.

An article in last Sunday’s Fort Worth Star Telegram takes a look at what they see as the almost certain post-November 7th power shift, analyzes what it might mean and quotes some of the very confident Blue Dogs. (This is one of the relatively few mainstream media references to the Blue Dog coalition you will find.)

What really happens post-November 7th is, of course, a complete unknown. In the past, opinion polls have been disastrously wrong and the mainstream news media’s recommendations to voters have been ignored in droves; but if they are right this time, the Blue Dogs may keep Conservative Republicans a force to be reckoned with and may keep the House at least, away from some regressive (from their point-of-view) liberal legislation.

Blue Dog News Links:

The Fort Worth Star Telegram: Moderates brace for liberal swing

U.S. News and World Report: The Dems’ Agenda

Blue Dogs in the Blogosphere:

The Bull Moose: Blue Dog Moose

Desert Beacon: NV-02: Derby gets Blue Dog and Retirees Endorsements

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The CNN Sniper Tape: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

Last week, when CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired a tape on his show (“Anderson Cooper 360”) that revealed the planning and execution of a sniper attack on a U.S. soldier, he started a major controversy. Over the weekend the enraged chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee called for the removal of all embedded CNN reporters from their posts. In a press conference he also made the statement:

“The average American Marine or soldier has concluded after seeing that film that CNN is not on their side.”

Then, at some point in the furor, President Bush’s press secretary, Tony Snow, stated his opinion that the insurgents willingly placed this tape in the hands of the media in an attempt to “break the will of the American people.”

Something is wrong with this picture!

If a video of a terrorist sniper team executing an American soldier causes other American soldiers to do nothing but revile the TV station that aired it, and causes a high ranking U.S. Representative to call for that TV station’s ‘punishment,’ and causes the American people to throw up their hands and say “I give up!” we, as a nation, have a problem that is at potentially more dangerous than terrorism. We’ve lost our backbone!

American soldiers should watch that video and, at first, get angrier at the terrorists than they have ever been and then realize that they need to be much more vigilant and proactive to avoid the fate of the soldier in the video. The members of our government should be telling the American public to wake up and see the kind of cold-blooded savagery that terrorists are inflicting on our troops and then take that as a warning that that kind of cold-blooded savagery is what we are all facing if this enemy is not defeated. And someone . . . someone like the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee . . . should publicly thank CNN for bringing this video to light.

OK! I know that I’m being a bit melodramatic and more importantly unemotional, but do you see my point? Here we have a video that should motivate us and work for us in positive ways and all we are able to do with it is castigate a reporter and a TV network.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, CNN justified its decision to show this tape:

” . . . by a desire to show the public the growing threat insurgent snipers pose to U.S. troops.”

I believe them!

Links:

The Houston Chronicle: Pentagon urged to remove embedded CNN reporters

The Los Angeles Times: Lawmaker Outraged by Sniper Footage on CNN

From the blogosphere:

Moonbattery: Duncan Hunter: Kick Out Embedded CNN Reporters

All Things Anderson: Critics ‘snipe’ at CNN

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Gerhard Schröder: Religion Is Causing “Difficulties” in U.S. Democracy

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

The Sunday edition of the International Herald Tribune (Europe edition) contains an article that recounts a recent interview that Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor, gave to Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine and to Bild am Sonntag, the equivalent of a U.S. supermarket tabloid. Schroder gave the interviews to promote his soon-to-be-published autobiography, titled: “My Life in Politics.”

In his new book Schroder recounts his childhood in a working class family, losing his father during WWII and his entry into German politics that saw him rise to the top of the German government; the autobiography also provides his impressions of notable people and events encountered during his political career. One such set of impressions involve President George W. Bush.

On September 11, 2001, Schroder describes having tears in his eyes as he watched the events unfold and supported the Bush’s eventual invasion into Afghanistan:

“It was important to me that Germany fulfill its requirements as an ally.”

But when President Bush started making plans to invade Iraq he had serious problems with the way the decision was made. He told Der Spiegel:

“if a person adopts a policy based on what he gleans from his prayers, in other words, a personal talk with God, it can lead to difficulties in democracy.”

Schroder also feels that Christian fundamentalists have grabbed too much power in the U.S. government and compares that situation to Islamic theocracies:

“We rightly criticize that in most Islamic states, the role of religion for society and the character of the role of law are not clearly separated; but we fail to recognize that in the U.S.A., the Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the Bible have similar tendencies.”

Schroder’s opinion is, of course just Schroder’s opinion and it is, at least right now, an exaggerated view of the power of Christian fundamentalists over the workings of the U.S. government; but it has an eerie element of truth to it.

Schroder is not alone in his views! Many Americans are disturbed by the religious rhetoric that President Bush too often uses and by the fact that he wears his religion “on his sleeve.” Also, like Schroder, many Americans see the entire religious right movement as a potential danger to our democracy. Are they imagining things or does religion, at some finite point, become incompatible with a democratic government?

Links:

International Herald Tribune: Schröder targets role of religion in America

From the blogosphere: Schroeder Creeped Out by Bush

Whymrhymer’s contributions to the Blogger News Network are mirrored in his blog: The View from the Center

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Talk About “Arrogance” and “Stupidity”

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network

“The occupier has started to search for a face-saving way out. The resistance, with all its factions, is determined to continue fighting until the enemy is brought down to his knees and sits on (sic) the negotiating table or is dealt, with God’s help, a humiliating defeat.”

These are the words of a person who called himself “Abu Mohammed” as he spoke on Al-Jazeera television on Friday. The “occupier” he speaks of is the United States and the “resistance, with all its factions” is a reference to the various insurgent groups operating in Iraq. Abu Mohammed, just previous to that statement, had listed a set of “conditions” for any negotiations; conditions that even an Arab terrorist would not take seriously. According to a Boston Herald article:

“. . . the man, appeared to set near impossible conditions for the start of any talks with the Americans, including the return to service of Saddam’s armed forces, the annulment of every law adopted since Saddam’s ouster, the recognition of insurgent groups as the sole representatives of the Iraqi people and a timetable for a gradual, unconditional withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops in Iraq.”

Alberto Fernandez, the director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near-Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department went on Al-Jazeera television on Friday to respond to Abu Mohammed’s statement and conditions. Fernandez spoke like a “true” diplomat (giving some credit and taking some credit) but true diplomacy has long been dead; today’s diplomat is only supposed to speak in officially sanctioned sentences. What Fernandez said (if translated correctly . . . he spoke in Arabic), may cost him his job. This is the translated excerpt of what he said that is being published in the media:

“We tried to do our best, but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq.

“We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation. The Iraqi government is convinced of this.”

Fernandez’s accusations of “stupidity” and “arrogance” on the part of the U.S. made headlines around the world and earned a quick rebuttal from an “anonymous” senior Bush administration official: “Those comments obviously don’t reflect our position,” he said. The official rebuttal came later from U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack who suggested that Fernandez himself denies that the translation is an “accurate reflection of what he said.” Officially, McCormack denies that history will reflect any stupidity or arrogance on the part of the United States.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . .”

Talk about arrogance and stupidity, here we have three examples of different degrees of arrogance and stupidity:

  • A terrorist on television who is arrogant and stupid enough to claim that terrorist tactics could ever bring the U.S. to its knees.
  • A diplomat on television who is arrogant enough to tell what he sees as the truth rather than reflect the “official position” of his government.
  • A U.S. State Department official who is arrogant enough to deny the truth of the situation and who believed that the American public is stupid enough to believe his denial.

In spite of the “official” U.S. response, I believe even a casual observer of U.S. actions in Iraq would agree with Fernandez. Yes we were arrogant to assume that we could turn a Muslim nation into any kind of democracy in less than ten to twenty years and yes we were stupid to assume that there would just be an anemic resistance to our presence in the region, a resistance that could easily be dealt with. That may not be a “diplomatic” assessment by todays definition of the word but it is honest.

Links:

The Boston Herald: U.S. diplomat says America showed ’arrogance’ and ’stupidity’ in Iraq

From the blogosphere: US Envoy: ‘Arrogance,’ ‘Stupidity’ In Iraq; al Jazeera’s pet State Department mouthpiece

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