Sunday, September 30, 2007

The World is Watching......

The world is watching.

Tragically, that is all the world does. Watch.

Watching seems to be what we world citizens do best. It's certainly what nations do best. For sure it's what the United Nations does best.

In Myanmar or Darfur, we love to watch. Sometimes we even posture and preen and puff up our chest. It's a sort of voyeuristic use of power.

We stare in through whatever window is available, usually the television screen, and we shake our heads in disbelief. We ask "Why doesn't somebody help? Just not us."

We are voyeurs, addicted to rape and war and murder. We can't seem to get enough. How else can you explain our failure to stop it? We must need it. We must want it.

In a distant land we can't even find on a map it's all so sanitary.... so clean. The people look so strange. We can't understand a thing they say. It's not like it's one of us.

And the numbers. They are so sanitary, too. They are so big we cannot relate to them. 100,000. 200,000. 400,000. With numbers like that it's just not real. It's more like the score of a video game.

So we do nothing but watch. We take an extreme nationalistic, racist, xenophobic stance to defend our inaction. Not just Americans (although we may be the worst), but virtually every country on earth claims the deaths of thousands isn't worth the life of "one of our own."

Even as the United Nations finally approves a peace keeping force for Sudan and Darfur, no country will offer manpower to fill the ranks. So thousands continue to die and hundreds of thousands continue to suffer. Millions are displaced.

And we watch. Voyeurs to injustice. Voyeurs to suffering. Voyeurs to genocide.

It's no wonder the military junta in Myanmar feel so very safe. They all will sleep soundly tonight, secure in the knowledge that the world is watching.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Republican Racism... or Stupidity?

The Republican Presidential "front runners" continued tonight their season long practice of carefully avoiding every debate or speaking opportunity organized by or for African Americans.

Of course they always have their handy "scheduling conflicts" apology and strongly dismiss any hints that their absence is "racially motivated." However, their actions speak much louder than their words.

Their apologists in the media (especially Fox News) point out that few blacks participate in Republican primaries. And while that may well be true, there is a growing sense of "unfairness" that is affecting Republican primary voters. Another word might well be embarrassment.

Tonight supposed Presidential candidates Romney, McCain, Giuliani and Thompson will all skip the Morgan State University Debate in Baltimore. It seems to me that these candidates have decided to write off the Black vote. Worse, they have no intention of facing any tough questions or meaningful discussions about race relations.

Clearly they are happy to let Bill O'Reilly carry the water for them.

But what they don't realize is that many, many Republicans see this as unfair, mean spirited and demeaning. Republicans like to feel they are a fair lot. They might not get but 5% of the ultimate Black vote, bu they want to say they reached out to the minority community.

And Republicans don't want to be embarrassed by their candidates. And this is getting embarrassing.

I think most Republicans and most Americans echo the words of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback who did appear in tonight's debate: "I think this is a disgrace that they are not here. I think it's a disgrace to our country. I think it's bad for our party, and I don't think it's good for our future."

Frankly I see it as stupid.

There is no reasonable excuse for writing off 18% of the American Public. And they are close to abandoning the Hispanic vote, too. In addition to skipping the Black debates, the Republican front runners have snubbed La Raza and Univision, too.

Unless we see a dramatic change in the Republican strategies I'm predicting Hillary Clinton will win with a 40 plus state sweep.

But please keep in mind that the Democrats are also failing to behave like reasonable adults as they continue to avoid Fox News televised debates or appearances.

Of course after last night's MSNBC debate where every single Democrat front runner promised to continue the Iraq occupation at least through 2013, they may all be headed to Fox News anyway, at least in spirit.

Tempest in a Cesspool

What you are about to read may sound like a defense of Bill O'Reilly and, in part, it is. But make no mistake, the real point is the nearly complete and total bankruptcy of the three Cable News Networks. From a journalistic viewpoint, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News are horrific jokes.... and the joke is on us, the viewers.

Today's cable soap opera parading as news is the non-story about Bill O'Reilly's comments on his radio talk show. It seems that the liberal leaning Media Matters editorialized that Bill O'Reilly had engaged in a racist diatribe on his talk fest. CNN picked up the story and reported it as fact and even tried to create controversy about their rival by engaging various talking heads to make comments about a show they never heard.

I want to be perfectly clear that the Media Matters story is complete and utter bullshit. Taking widely dispersed quotes completely out of context and then adding inappropriate editorial comments and misleading focus they took a rare O'Reilly moment calling for racial tolerance and understanding and turned it completely on it's head.

Listen to the actual Internet re-broadcast of Bill O'Reilly radio show and decide for yourself.

CNN, seeing a chance to skewer it's larger rival, ran with the story and MSNBC, especially Keith Olbermann, jumped squarely on board.

But this isn't news. It's all about ratings. O'Reilly just trounces the hell out of the competition every night. If CNN could somehow tarnish his image, it could only help their ratings. And Olbermann.... well he needs to actually get into a recovery program. His addiction to O'Reilly is the biggest joke in all of cable television.

Ratings is all that matters. There is no news here.

And, as an added bonus, lying about O'Reilly is cheap. No need to send real reporters (as if they actually employed any) to Sudan, Darfur, or Myanmar. People are dying there. A reporter might actually do some work. A reporter might actually do some good.

MEMO to CNN: Bill O'Reilly is not newsworthy.

And Keith, please get help. We need an intervention here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's That Damned Free Speech Thing.....

I doubt that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will ever allow anything ever remotely similar to "FREE SPEECH" in Iran. Not if his treatment today at the hands of the President, faculty and students of Columbia University was any example of the treatment he might expect at the hands of his own countrymen.

"Mr President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," University President Bollinger told Ahmadinejad, accusing him of brutal crackdowns on the country's academics and homosexuals.

"Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?" he asked, challenging the leader of the Islamic republic to explain his comments downplaying the Holocaust.

"Frankly, in all candor Mr President, I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions," he added.

To his credit Ahmadinejad handled the criticism well and recovered quickly. But he faced a relentless attack at the hands of the various university representatives.

The tragedy of surrounding yourself with "yes men" and stifling all forms of free speech and dissent is that you remain ignorant of the real world and real people. This was clearly evident when Ahmadinejad said: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we don't have this phenomenon."

It's tragic he is so ignorant. Of course that's because the state policy in Iran concerning homosexuality is "Don't tell or you're dead."

Read the full report here: Ahmadinejad faces public dressing down at US university

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Chance for Greatness

It is really, really tragic that I need to even write this post. We should be so beyond this madness. The principles are so obvious and so important that no one should even be asking the question, let alone doubting the answer.

Of course Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be a guest at the Columbia University question-and-answer forum on Monday. What a glorious opportunity to showcase the most precious freedom that sets the United States apart from almost every other country on earth: the true and unfettered Freedom of Speech and the open and free exchange of ideas.

We don't fear ideas.

Ahmadinejad and his Islamic fundamentalist handlers in Iran would never allow such an exchange of ideas in his homeland. Hell, they wouldn't even tolerate men and women in the same open room.

Can you imagine Ahmadinejad facing a room of Iranian coeds in miniskirts questioning his authority over their bodies? That ain't gonna happen! So let's let it happen in New York

What's so fascinating is that Ahmadinejad sees this very freedom of speech and ideas as the United States greatest weakness. He comes with every intent to exploit this weakness. He brings a wealth of ideas and he is articulate and has a well honed sense of humor. He hopes to win converts. He may even succeed.

Divide and conquer is Ahmadinejad's hope. Yet he really fails to understand the great power of ideas and open and free discussion. He sees it as a weakness simply because his government and his theocracy would fall in days if he allowed his countrymen the same freedoms.

The idea of Iranians listening to western music terrifies him so much he has outlawed it in Iran. Although I play Iranian , Persian and pan Arab music, Wizard Radio is banned in Iran!

Oh Allah! What if Iranians were allowed to read or see the news? What if they were allowed to congregate in small groups to discuss the future? What if they actually allowed bloggers to post anti-government diatribes on the Internet for all to read.

Surely the United States is moments from falling into chaos!! Ahmadinejad knows this must be true because over 50% of the public actually dislike President Bush and the news media (gasp!) is allowed to report this fact! Over and often!!

So let's give Ahmadinejad an ear. Let's engage him in dialog to the greatest extent possible. Let's show him what the United States is all about.


Ahmadinejad fails to understand that ideas and discussion and conflict are what give the United States power. He thinks he will exploit our weakness. Instead his words will simply strengthen the nation, our spirit and our values.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Closer to Bagdad Than You Might Think

It's called sectarian violence when it happens in Iraq. And it happens every day. One tribal leader demands revenge upon another rival group. As I write this a headline just pop-ed up on my Yahoo News widget Baghdad car bomb strikes bakery; 11 dead.

The article reads in part that the Shi'ite dominated "al-Qaida warned it will hunt down and kill Sunni Arab tribal leaders, saying the assassination of the leader of the revolt against the terror movement was just a beginning."

But I'm actually writing today about Philadelphia, the "City of Brotherly Love," where rival gang violence has led to a record 284 homicides so far this year, almost all young black men killing young black men. Sylvester Johnson, the visionary and very brave Chief of Police of Philadelphia has admitted the violence is out of control and he has neither the man power nor the cooperation of the citizens of Philadelphia to even begin to solve the problem.

Homicide Map Philadelphia's Channel 10, the local NBC affiliate has created an amazing yet terrifying interactive map of the cities homicides this year. The HOMICIDE MAP shows the exact location of every homicide, usually with the name, date and even a photograph of the victim. It takes a while for this powerful tool to upload, but it is stunning!

The escalation of crime, prostitution and drug use is fueling the gang violence and a cultural "Don't Snitch" ethic, heavily reinforced by today's rap musicians, virtually prevents the police from ever solving a crime.

But Chief Sylvester Johnson, who is also black, is trying to bring about a cultural charge and save the city from its transition into an American version of Ambar Provence.
MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press Writer wrote yesterday:

"It's time for African-American men to stand up,"
"We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We're going to put men on the street. We're going to train them in conflict resolution." Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story Wednesday.

The program's backers include Dennis Muhammad, a former Nation of Islam official who has been hired by police departments in Detroit, Syracuse, N.Y., and other cities to conduct community-sensitivity training.

Johnson plans to introduce the "Call to Action: 10,000 Men, It's a New Day" program on Oct. 21, three months before his planned retirement.

"He won't get anywhere near that number. If he gets 1,000 people, it will be great," said Heather DeRussy, who leads a local Guardian Angels chapter that has recruited just seven members in the past two years. Given its size, the group focuses on a single north Philadelphia park plagued by prostitution and drug use.

DeRussy lauded Johnson for his effort but said she fears the volunteers will find it dangerous to patrol their home turf.

"In their own neighborhoods, with the 'Don't snitch' mentality, they're kind of putting themselves in harm's way, because there are going to be people who disagree with what they're doing," DeRussy said.

As we sit back in our easy-chairs and watch the violence in Bagdad, a half a world away, we simply don't understand how such horrific violence could be done by one sectarian group against another. We feel insulated. And,dare I say it.... we feel "superior." Perhaps we even say to ourselves "It can't happen here."

For sure Philadelphia's 284 homicides this year is only two weeks worth of violence in Bagdad. And yet it is so easy for such violence to become a way of life. It's easy to lose control.

In the end Johnson is so very right. We must take a stand for our community. "We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly."

And our very future.

Let's hope Chief Johnson's plan works. Let's hope he can reawaken a sense of "community" in Philadelphia.

Just a footnote..... Last night's 11 o'clock news on Philadelphia's NBC Channel 10:

Teen Sought In 15-Year-Old's Fatal Stabbing

A 15-year-old was fatally stabbed Friday night, and police were looking for a 16-year-old in connection with the attack, NBC 10 reported.

Police said the stabbing occurred on the 2300 block of Edgely Street in North Philadelphia.

The victim apparently ran into a house after being wounded in the chest and was then rushed by ambulance to Temple University Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

At the scene of the attack, a knife was visible on the ground near a bag of chips, NBC 10 reported.

There was no immediate word from police on a motive or arrest.

ADDENDUM (9/16/2007 8:00 am):

I want to strongly recommend all readers go over to an amazing analysis of BOTH the problem of gang violence in America's inner cities AND the situation in Iraq, Iran and the middle east written by Dr. M (Marvin X) in Oakland, California. While I have done little more than identify the problem, Marvin X has both identified the causes and a prescription for possible solutions (in both Iraq and our troubled cities). It's a stunningly brilliant analysis! READ: Baghdad by the Bay By Dr. M (Marvin X)

And yes, this is the same Dr. M (Marvin X), legendary Black leader, activist, playwright and poet. Read a short biography here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering Sue Kim Hanson

Here is a reprint of the article I wrote last year as part of the 2,996 Project. I've thought about it all day long, usually with tears in my eyes.

I also want to give a tearful thank you to
MSNBC who had the courage to replay the events of 9/11 minute by minute, exactly as they happened. Once again I was glued to my television in absolute horror. It was a fitting tribute to all who suffered... and that includes every one of us.

All too often in 2007 we ignor the reality of the dangers around us. We forget just how frail and how fleeting life really is. Read and remember Kim Sue Hanson.

Kim Sue Hanson
September 11, 2006
A short note appears on the Boston University Medical Campus Calendar Website noting that Jonathan W. Yewdell, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, Cellular Biology Section of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases will be speaking tomorrow, September 11, 2006, on the topic of "Gained in Translation: Generating Viral and Cellular Peptide Antigens from DRiPs."

He is speaking at 4:00 pm in Keefer Auditorium and a Reception in the Wilkins Board Room will follow.

What might be missed by a casual observer is perhaps the most important fact of all. Dr. Yewdell is the guest speaker for the
5th Annual Sue Kim Hanson Lecture In Immunology.

If you noticed this, you might simply assume that Sue Kim Hanson is (or was) some generous benefactor to the University. A lecture named for her to repay her gift.

Or perhaps you would guess that she is (or was) a notable scientist who, at one time or another, taught or studied at Boston University. Someone who should be honored for the advancements she made in Immunology.

And, indeed, all of the above is true. Just not in the way you might expect.

Susan Kim Hanson was one of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack that took the lives of
2,996 souls in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania.

Sue, her husband Peter, and her two year old daughter Christine were on United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Her daughter Christine was the youngest victim of the September 11th attack.

But the Boston University Lecture Series is not named after Sue Kim Hanson because of the way she died, but because of the way she lived.
Sue Kim HansonSue was a great scientist in the making. She was a doctoral candidate in micro-biology immunology at Boston University and working on her final thesis. Her work promised to reveal the workings of a chemical believed to regulate immune responses. She had isolated in lab mice a gene suspected of being involved in asthma sufferers and AIDS patients. Her work had the potential to help millions of people.

Susan Kim was one of those wonderful American success stories. A Korean-American, Sue had lived with her grandmother in Korea until she was 6. Her mother died when she was 15 and she was raised by her strict Korean father. Through hard work and discipline, sacrifice, dedication and sheer will power she neared the goal her mother and father and grandmother had hoped she would achieve, her doctorate degree.

Dr. Hardy Kornfeld, Hanson's thesis adviser, said "She was sort of fearless. Sue just took on tasks that were incredibly challenging, and more often than not she was able to make a go at them."

That she would be attracted to the wild and undisciplined Peter Hanson was a great surprise. Three years younger than Sue Kim, Peter gained his education by following The Grateful Dead. Peter believed that the group and its music would become classics, up there with Beethoven, Bach and company, and he tried to sway the opinion of anyone who would listen. Many of our listeners to Wizard Radio would certainly agree with Peter.

But even if Sue wasn't quite convinced about the Dead, she believed in Peter. And her faith was well placed. Peter was, by all accounts, a brilliant software engineer, a great salesman and a wonderful person.

He was passionate about Sue and Sue fell head over heals in love with Peter. She obviously had a great effect on him. has a reprint of a New York Times article about Sue that tells the story:

    "The relationship spurred Peter Hanson to clip his tangle of brownish-red dreadlocks, trade in tie-dyed T- shirts for suits, go to business school and become one of the best software salesmen his friends and family had ever met. He was vice president of marketing at TimeTrade in Waltham, Mass."

    "Her bond with the Hansons was so strong that they accompanied her to California when she went to inform her father about her engagement. She worried that her father would protest because Peter Hanson was not Korean. But her family embraced the Hansons."

Sue and Peter were married and had a beautiful daughter. Sue continued to pursue her doctoral degree. She was scheduled to defend her thesis in November, 2001.
Sue, Peter and ChristineTaking a last break before finalizing her research and thesis, Sue, Peter and Christine were on their way to visit the Sue's father and grandmother in California, and take Christine to Disneyland, when they boarded United Airlines Flight 175. Peter was one of those who made a final cell phone call to his parents moments before the plane crashed into the south tower.

Sue's friend
Mona Pengree writes, "Sue was awarded her PhD posthumously, as her professor finished her work on her behalf. This is a wonderful picture of her, and she shone every bit as brightly in person. Probably more. Her loss was a loss to all mankind."

Sue gave a great deal to Boston University and she gave a great deal to all of us. Her work in immunology inspired her fellow students, faculty and the University to continue her research and finish her thesis. They awarded her a doctorate degree. And they established the Annual Sue Kim Hanson Lecture In Immunology, not just to honor her memory, but to give full credit to her work and the inspiration, the strength and the courage Sue provides to us all.

God bless you Sue... and Peter and Christine and all those who died so tragically five years ago.

God bless.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, there is a wealth of information, tribute and love scattered throughout the Internet in remembrance of Sue Kim Hanson. I owe every contributor who came before me a deep debt of gratitude. Through each of you I have come to know Sue, Peter and Christine. You have touched my heart.

If my Tribute to Susan Kim Hanson here today fell short in any way, I deeply apologize and would love to hear from any of you.

I suggest these following resources from which I have borrowed freely in preparing this tribute:
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 VICTIMS: Sue Kim Hanson
Remember September 11, 2001
A mother to her son: How could I forget your curiosity and energy? By Eunice Hanson, for The Associated Press

Peter, Sue Kim, and Christine Hanson Memorial Web Site

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As part of the 2,996 Project the following bloggers have, or soon will perpare tributes to the Hansons.
A tribute to Peter Hanson has been done by Angry Tiki in The Blog of the Angry Tiki

A Tribute and Remeberance of Christine Hanson by Spork on the blog Eating Breakfast with a Spork

Because of server loads one or both of the above links might be down. Stix Blog has stepped in and provided this mirror website.



    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Turning on the Insurgents

    Over in Iraq, in troubled Ambar Province, a major turning point in the war occurred when the local citizenry turned on the al-Qaeda insurgents. Al-Qaeda simply went too far. They crossed a line and the Iraqi's could no longer tolerate their behavior.

    I believe we Democrats have just about reached that point with the outrageous behavior of It is one thing to disagree with both the Invasion and the Occupation of Iraq. It is one thing the disagree with the policies and the actions of President Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Condeleeza Rice. It is not wrong to look for a new path and for new leaders.

    It's quite another to level stupid, childish, overly cute yet underhanded and slanderous attacks on General Petraeus and all those who are fighting at great personal risk to solve the terrible crisis in Iraq. Today's ad in the New York Times by the pond scum of MoveOn is beyond the pale. This ad makes me physically ill.

    "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" reads the full-page ad, which cost the liberal group approximately $65,000 and ran in section A of today's New York Times.

    The ad accuses the general of "Cooking the Books for the White House" and asserts "General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts," citing optimistic statements the general has made about Iraq in the past.

    White House spokesman Tony Snow called it "a boorish, childish, unworthy attack" and called on members of Congress to condemn the ad."

    Combined with other "over the top" paid media attacks on real leaders like Washington Representative Richard Baird, I feel it's time for move-on to "move on."

    Even Democrat leaders in Congress see this ad as "counterproductive." ABC NEWS reported, "A Democratic leadership aide on Capitol Hill told ABC News that the ad was "not helpful" because it allowed Republicans to refocus attention from "what's happening on the ground in Iraq and the fact that everyone, even Gen. Petraeus, agrees that political progress is lacking."

    I'm forced to completely agree with the outrage on the Republican side of the aisle.

    Arizona Sen. John McCain calling the ad a "McCarthyite attack on an American patriot. … No matter where you stand on the war, we should all agree on the character and decency of this exceptional American."

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, wrote on the National Review blog "The Corner," that "(l)ike the men he commands, (Petraeus) is risking his life to protect our freedoms here at home. We should not prejudge him or his testimony, or give him anything less than the full respect he deserves.

    Outside a South Carolina barbecue joint Monday afternoon, former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., called the ad "outrageous" and said, " has today, in effect, said that the General leading our brave troops in Iraq is betraying his country. This is the group that funds the Democratic Party. all upon the Democratic Party and all of the Democratic candidates for President to repudiate the libel of this patriotic American."

    Democrats in Congress were forced into a corner by this lame brained move. Instead of being on the offensive and proposing meaningful alternatives to the President's surge, they were instead peppered by the press over the Move-On ad.

    And, in failing to condemn the ad, they gave the story even more life. The ad became a lose-lose situation for spokespersons like Harry Reid.

    I believe Move-On has really gone too far. They have outlived their usefulness. I certainly cannot and will not support their boorish tactics.

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Mixed Feelings About Larry Craig....

    I'm not actually going to post about Senator Larry Craig...... because I'm not sure how I feel about the growing number of issues behind his arrest for a possible failed attempt at a potential misdeed.

    I'm starting to feel that we may simply have politics run amok. Opportunistic politics.

    I do think Craig is an idiot, but if we start throwing out Members of Congress for stupidity, the chambers will echo in emptiness.

    So I merely want to direct you all to today's excellent essay on the subject by Arianna Huffington,
    In the Age of Terror, Isn't Busting Toe-Tappers an Insane Use of Our Law Enforcement Resources?

    If you were to read back over the last four years or so that Arianna and have have cohabited the blogosphere, you would find that I have agreed with her in print exact "Never." But she is spot on today.

    I really appreciate her contribution to this controversy and the underlying issues. Read her entire post.

    ....isn't it the height of madness to use America's finite law enforcement resources to seek out and arrest people for tapping the foot of a cute undercover officer in a restroom?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not wild about walking into a public restroom and seeing a couple using the a stall for something other than, as Sgt. Dave Karsnia, the arresting officer in the Craig case put it, "its intended use."

    But that is not what Larry Craig did. If he had, someone in the restroom could have done what most people do when they see a law being broken: go get a cop.

    And as it happens, since Craig was arrested in an airport, presumably there were plenty of law enforcement officers nearby looking for, you know, real threats -- like explosives or folks on a Watch List. Assuming, that is, they weren't all hunkered down in other bathrooms across the airport, protecting the public against people who might be thinking about having sex.

    Let me be clear: I'm no fan of Larry Craig. Indeed, I disagree with almost everything he stands for. And I'd much rather he not be in the United States Senate.
    But I'd also rather have had his exit be the result of his constituents voting on his ideas and policies, instead of a ridiculous sting operation in an airport bathroom.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    Afghanistan, Occupation and Civil War

    Most folks know Arlo Guthrie (that is to say the folks who know him at all) as the teenage hippie Vietnam war protester who wrote the legendary protest song "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," later made into a movie that starred Arlo Guthrie himself.

    Or they know Arlo Guthrie as the son of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie who wrote, among other famous tunes, "This Land is Your Land."

    But Arlo Guthrie has had a long and extremely prolific career and is considered my many, including the Wizard, as one of the great singer-songwriters of any generation. He has released dozens of albums and performed in thousands of concerts around thew world.

    By the way, Arlo generally refuses to ever sing "Alice's Restaurant" in concert, performing it rarely, but most notably in a sarcastic update attacking the Nixon Whitehouse. That version actually is available on CD and can be ordered through Amazon:
    "Alice's Restaurant: The Massacree Revisited."

    But I'm writing about Arlo today because while the press and public are mistakenly focused on relatively stable Iraq, we are actually losing the war in Afghanistan where al-Qaeda and the Taliban have more power, more land under their control and more success on the battlefield than any time in the last six years.

    The Taliban engineered a gigantic moral and financial victory in the kidnapping and subsequent release of the Korean hostages. But victories are also happening on the battlefield in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Taliban might actually bring down both governments.
    In an extremely detailed and thoughtful analysis, Karl F. Inderfurth writes in the
    International Herald Tribune:

    Controversy rages over the war in Iraq, but what about the so-called other war in Afghanistan, for which there is strong bipartisan support in the United States and in the international community? Is there a danger of losing in Afghanistan? The answer is yes.

    Almost six years after U.S.- led military forces removed the Taliban and its Qaeda support network from power, major challenges are seriously undermining popular support and trust in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai: A resurgent Taliban and a growing sense of insecurity throughout the country, including Kabul; rampant corruption, ineffective law enforcement and a weak judicial system; a failure to provide social services, lagging reconstruction and high unemployment; a booming drug trade and too many warlords.

    Mounting civilian casualties are turning Afghans against the nearly 45,000 U.S. and NATO troops in their country, provoking demonstrations and a motion in the upper house of Parliament to set a date for their withdrawal. These incidents also provide a propaganda windfall and new recruits for the Taliban.

    Karzai has told U.S. and NATO commanders that the patience of the Afghan people is wearing thin. He said civilian deaths and aggressive, arbitrary searches of people's houses have reached an unacceptable level, adding "Afghans cannot put up with it any longer."

    What we forget is that, like Iraq, Afghanistan is also an occupation. This isn't a conventional World War II style combat. We are occupiers and Afghanistan really hates to be occupied.

    We need to study the history of Afghanistan to see just how difficult, or maybe impossible, our mission is in that country.

    Arlo Guthrie knows. He performed a series of concerts in the old Soviet Union in the 1980's and even wrote a song for the abused and forgotten Russian troops who suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Afghan and Taliban "insurgents" under the leadership of a young heroic freedom fighter, Osama bin Laden.

    With covert military aid coming from our own CIA, Osama bin Laden beat back the better equipped Russian occupiers, eventually dealing them an ultimate defeat that many historians believe did more to end Soviet dominance than the strength and opposition of Ronald Reagan and the United States.

    Truly the defeat in Afghanistan was a defeat from which the Soviet Union never recovered. For more information about the soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 until 1989 and the role the defeat in Afghanistan played in the collapse of the Soviet Union start with this entry in Wikipedia .

    Today NATO and the United States may well be looking at the second expulsion of occupiers from Afghanistan. In an article in today's

    Now things are going awry in Afghanistan, too. The United States drove out the Taliban regime in order to deprive al-Qaeda of a safe haven. Nearly six years on, this aim has not been realised.

    In large tracts of southern Afghanistan the writ of the elected government of Hamid Karzai does not run and Taliban fighters operate more freely than the NATO forces that prop him up. Worse, this hostile territory crosses the border into Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), home to some 3m people, where the writ of Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, hardly runs either. And now the general may be losing his grip on Pakistan as a whole. Far from being caught in a pincer between pro-American governments in Kabul and Islamabad, al-Qaeda and its fellow travellers have consolidated a stronghold that encroaches on the territory and may in time threaten the survival of both.

    Guthrie's haunting "When a Soldier Makes it Home" (from the Mystic Journey album) chronicling the return of broken and beaten soldiers from Afghanistan may turn out to be more than an homage to the Soviet soldiers, but an eerie premonition of the returning American soldiers just a few years from now.

    Throughout the centuries this has been the fate of those who dared to occupy Afghanistan.


    "When a Soldier Makes it Home" along with almost the entire catalogs of Arlo and Woody Guthrie are part of the rotation on Wizard Radio. Because of today's journal entry, the rotation of Guthrie music will be substantially increased, including both versions of "Alice's Restaurant."