Sacrifice of the Young

Afghan orphan boys watch a performance of the NGO Mobile Mini Circus for Children at Cahai Amaskan’s Orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan (newsweb sites), Monday, May 31, 2004. More than 900 orphan boys who lost their families during Afghanistan’s war, live in this government institution periodically visited by different aid groups like the circus that offered performances on the eve of International Children’s Day. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Beat! Beat! Drums!

SF gallery owner becomes target after showcasing painting of Iraqi prisoner abuse

Lori Haigh, a North Beach district gallery owner, bears a painful reminder of the nation’s unresolved anguish over the incidents at Abu Ghraib — a black eye delivered by an unknown assailant who apparently objected to the painting that depicts U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners. (Associated Press photo by Jeff Chiu)

Beat! Beat! Drums!

Beat! beat! drums! — blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows — through doors — burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet — no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums — so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums! — blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities — over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses?
no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers bargains by day — no brokers or speculators —
would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums — you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums! — blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley — stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid — mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums — so loud you bugles blow.

— Walt Whitman

Brown at 50: King’s Dream or Plessy’s Nightmare?

Bill Cosby should suck Jello through a straw.

That’s my short answer to every person who stops me in my tracks in order to ask the question, “Do you know what Bill Cosby said?”

“Well, it’s the truth,” one replied, his euphoria fading as quickly as his presence, a brandishment of his uttermost disappointment in me. Not only is he a staunch Democrat but he wears his tolerance with pride. Undoubtedly he found solace with another workmate who claims to be a Libertarian and in his delineation of that vein often shares his contempt of “those blacks” who “wear too many chains”, “walk that way”, and speak the dialect Mr. Cosby finds so offensive. That’s not to say this person would marry a black woman even if she passed his white-friendly test. When I inquired, he reacted as if I were crazy, saying he’d never consider it. He worried that if the DNA of his spouse were dominant it would ruin the family profile.

Justin Felux reasons why opinions like Cosby’s are disseminated so widely by the conservative media and is disturbed they’re not significantly decried by the rest. I’m disturbed as well and what follows are observations gleaned from a lifetime of experience. Racism is pandemic amongst Caucasians who are covetous of an inherently supremacist role. Pale faced underachievers are held in higher esteem than the most accomplished of darker contemporaries; it’s not their abilities that get them hired it’s affirmative action; humble gratitude is required on demand and performance must be above and beyond the call of duty in order to waylay comeuppance they are less deserving of the job than the white they cheated out of it; whites may have bad days but if you’re black and late a few minutes it’s because you’re born lazy and getting over. Posit this. When someone of the Jewish persuasion criticises Israel they are labelled self-haters and Anti-Semitic yet blacks are praised only when they join in a melee determined to wipe out any trace of ethnicity that offends the white man. Jews are discriminated against so deserve their own state. Blacks are discriminated against but bring it on themselves by not adopting the behaviour of their oppressor. Cosby made the gross analogy that blacks deserve to be shot for running off with the pound cake. What Cosby doesn’t admit is that no matter how “white” blacks become dessert is still the crumbs.

Howard University has not released the speech, or I can’t find it, which is a disappointment. Clarence Page supports Cosby in his assertion on the Tavis Smiley show that his remarks were taken out of context. He really meant to say that “some” not all poor folks are failing to hold up their end in this deal. According to Cosby, the “50% dropout in school. Very, very important because with that, that means 50% of our African American males, from grade 9 through 12, in certain parts of the city, have no education.”

I finally found one page that includes references to both of Mr. Cosby’s points that the national dropout rate for African Americans is around 50% (unlike the National Center for Educational Statistics which puts it much lower, not surprisingly, since the system self-reports in its own favour) and that the problem “ is most severe in several hundred big-city schools“. Females if not included in his number would mean the total dropout rate is nearly 100% but he didn’t ignore the sex entirely. They’re the language manglers who are buying expensive shoes instead of phonics programmes.

I believe this situation pains Mr. Cosby on some level and in a tough love, authoritative way he wants people to get his message. Since this talkathon precedes the June 20th premier of his latest TV offering, “Fatherhood”, it’ll be interesting to see how this message is incorporated into that cartoon. He’s had 6 years to hone it since he last delivered it at Howard University. I bet a lot of white folks will be tuning in.

I hope in this continuing dialogue he draws upon the findings of studies such as Brown at 50: The Unfulfilled Promise and Brown at 50: Kings Dream or Plessys Nightmare?. The 50th anniversary of Brown was not cause for celebration and faulting parenting or lack of it targets one facet of an intricate picture. The neglected areas of decaying infrastructure where the most severe dropout rates occur are not sitting on oil deposits so will never be reconstructed. The diversity that Brown hoped to herald was shunned by the whites Cosby says should be placated by mirroring their manner and speech. They’ve used their racial advantage to flee to better neighborhoods and more adequately funded schools locking gates and doors behind them. Mr. Cosby says that passing tests is an incomparable high. On material contrived to keep these genuises in the superior frame of mind to which they’ve grown accustomed? Pavlov’s dog was conditioned, not joyfull.

Take your neighborhood back, Bill Cosby says. Incentives to treasure it seem a logical place to start. Let’s try a little social experiment in a city that shall remain nameless since for these purposes statistics and logistics are not necessary. Draw a circle around the worst neighbourhood in it and take a head count. How many of their relatives are serving time for a drug-related or non-violent offense? Release those people from prison and invite them to join in the tearing down and rebuilding of the neighbourhood. For every family their own home with room for a garden. Every person that needs a job gets the skills, or the production facilities, or the small business, or the transportation to make that happen. Build enough schools that classrooms are brimming only with textbooks that reflect an honest world view. Alongside the library why not a place for the old folks to congregate. Parks are lovely places for family get togethers but hard on the joints in the winter.

“When we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, children in our schools often recite the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech as if it were a reality,” says a draft version of the report by the Harvard Civil Rights Project. “Students are rarely told that Dr. King also had a nightmare, … King saw the ghetto and its schools as a nightmare for black society.”

Blogging around…

Jim Henley has a few words about Michael Ledeen’s latest call to invade Iran. [Via tex]. This is a link to Brooding Persian‘s reaction to the same article posted on May 19. I recommend you read Ledeen, ledeen and us while there.

Juan Cole recommends a new blogger who is Syria-centric. The most recent post “How Washington can win Syria” has a familiar, nasty ring to it. Yet another pundit who waxes rhetorical on how best to force U.S. policies down the throats of “rogue regimes” while remaining completely deaf, dumb, and blind to the terrorist acts of the imposer.

Oh yes, Orientalism is alive and well. I’m repelled whenever it rears its ugly head.

“Remember,” Patai’s father told the boy, “you shook hands with the greatest Orientalist alive.” It was the start of a lifelong infatuation. “When it comes to the Arabs,” he wrote, “I must admit to an incurable romanticism.”

That Lee Smith would characterise this statement as proof Patai was “a keen and sympathetic observer of Arab society” tells me everything I need to know about Smith’s sensibilities. If there were any doubts, Smith gratuitously sums it up in the closing statement.

Arabs need only subjugate themselves to Anglocentrism and the world would find steady purchase on its axis. Daring to quarrel with this overriding principle vindicates Orientalists and their historically vicious pattern of framing every debate within the context of their pre-ordained stereotypes.

Saira Shah’s “Death in Gaza”, a documentary currently receiving some recognition, has been the subject of recent posts by Rafah Rambles. This is as good a place as any to start.


Pat Tillman, the man who “who walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks“, was not killed by enemy fire as first reported.

“Suddenly the sound of a mine explosion was heard somewhere between the two groups and the Americans in one group started firing,” the official said, citing an account given to him by an Afghan fighter who was part of that group, not Tillman’s.

“Nobody knew what it was a mine, a remote-controlled bomb or what was going on, or if enemy forces were firing. The situation was very confusing,” the official said.

“As the result of this firing, that American was killed and three Afghan soldiers were injured. It was a misunderstanding and afterwards they realized that it was a mine that had exploded and there were no enemy forces.”

U.S. military officials in Kabul had no immediate comment.



The two Israeli men in a moving van who tried to get past security officials at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base without proper identification last Friday will soon be released, the MadCowMorningNews has learned, if they haven’t been already.

The arrest of the two Israelis, Tamir David Sasson, 24, and Daniel Henry Levy, 23, prompted a security scare that shut down the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia, home port for 10 of the nation’s 18 submarines armed with nuclear missiles.

Moreover it marked the second time in two weeks that Israelis in moving vans have been apprehended under suspicious circumstances near U.S. nuclear facilities.

The other reported incident also occurred near a U.S. Navy nuclear facility, this time in Mars Hill, NC., which the local Sheriff explained is “the nation’s sole provider of fuel for the Navy’s nuclear subs.”

If authorities discerned a pattern, they weren’t saying.


The MadCowMorningNews

No-Bid Government Contracts Up Slightly

Waxman’s report, prepared by the Government Reform Committee’s Democratic staff, drew on data from the Federal Procurement Data System, which is part of the General Services Administration. It discussed federal contracts in general, without focusing on work in Iraq or naming specific companies.

Federal procurement law requires full and open competition for contracts, but allows various exceptions. These include situations in which the case is unusually urgent; disclosing an agency’s needs could jeopardize national security; only one source can provide the necessary work or goods; or the public is better served if there is not full competition.

The report said the Bush administration has also increased the use of a form of contracts called “single-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity” that commits the government to a single contractor for an undefined range of goods or services. Some $5.9 billion worth of these contracts were issued in 2003, compared with $4.2 billion in 2000, the report said.

On the Net:

House Government Reform Committee:

Noncompetitive Contracts Soar under Bush Administration

– The Report (pdf) | Rep. Waxman’s Statement (pdf)

Brahimi “completely taken aback” by choice of Allawi

U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, asked by Washington to help set up an interim government to take over from U.S. rule next month, seemed to have been completely taken aback by the way the 23-member Governing Council announced its choice of Allawi.

The U.S. administration was also caught on the hop by the speed of the announcement. But as a long-time exile in the pay of the CIA, Allawi was always a strong candidate in Washington and U.S. officials were clearly involved in steering the choice.

Ordinary Iraqis know little of a man who spent more than 30 years abroad, first as a medical student in Britain supporting Saddam Hussein (news – web sites)’s Baath party and later as a wealthy exile who founded the Iraqi National Accord with funds from the CIA.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — The momentum for a vote by the Iraqi Governing Council on the newly designated prime minister came about in the last 24 hours after it became clear that Iyad Allawi enjoyed a “strong groundswell” of support, a senior U.S. official in Baghdad said.

Officials also feared his name would be leaked to the news media — that the council might learn the selection “from CNN,” said the official, who was intricately familiar with the process.

Why would the council be surprised by the selection? I’m not.

Allawi, born in 1945, is a neurologist and businessman. In 1990 he formed the Iraqi National Accord, backed by the CIA and British intelligence. The INA provided some of the now widely discredited intelligence on Saddam’s weapons that formed President Bush (newsweb sites)’s prime justification for invading.

When Ashcroft speaks, agencies listen?

DENVER – The FBI (newsweb sites)’s regional office in Denver has received at least a dozen calls about the pictures of seven suspected al-Qaida terrorists shown during a news conference, an agency spokeswoman said.

Calls about possible sightings are taken seriously and all leads are followed up, FBI spokeswoman Monique Kelso said Thursday. She added, though, that the FBI has no reason to believe any of the seven suspects are in Colorado or traveling through.

But a manager of a Denny’s restaurant in Avon isn’t convinced. Manager Samuel Mac said it took five hours for a seemingly uninterested FBI agent in Denver to return his message when he called to say he thought two of the suspects ate at his restaurant Wednesday.

Wasn’t it supposed to be Homeland Security, not the FBI, who didn’t take Ashcroft’s memorandum seriously?