Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


Republican Spin of the Foley Affair

One must give credit to members of the Republican Party for imaginative ways in which they have attempted to shift the blame for the affair of Representative Mark Foley of Florida to the Democrats.  How come, the Republicans ask, does this dirt come to light so close to the next election?

To their way of spinning, had the story come out after the election, or even, say, six months ago, well, that would be okay.  Foley’s shenanigans with Congressional Pages could not possibly come out now, were it not for the dirty work of Democrats!

Ah, well! Desperate folks will say stupid things.

By the way, our comments of l’affaire Foley last week were printed before we learned that there was more than one page involved.


Stuffing It Down

It is incredible that, periodically, on television, or, in your own hometown, one observes food eating contests.  See who can stuff more hotdogs, or whatever, down the hatch.

Amazing what obscenities an affluent society will perform.


Rebuffing President Chavez

Where several poor Alaskan villages have accepted the offer of free oil from Venezuela, others have rebuffed the offer, for it came from President Hugo Chavez, who, they say, insulted President Bush before the United Nations.

The Citgo chain, as you know, is owned by Venezuela.  I, myself, buy my gasoline from an independent dealer in Cambridge, but, when on the road, I look for the Citgo sign! We need other leaders to talk back to our grandiose president.

One would think, by the way, that Alaska could supply oil to its poor folks, but, capitalism is capitalism, after all.  No concern for the needy! A dog eat dog world, no matter what Jesus said.

By the way, there has been a huge, lighted, Citgo sign in Kenmore Square in Boston for so long that it is one of the landmarks of the city.  Inevitably, some pol came along and wants it replaced, because of what President Chavez said about Bush at the U.N.

We love the sign too much to give way to such foolishness.


Articles of Note


The Associated Press reports: “Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank up sharply, UN says”

By Karin Laub, Associated Press | October 12, 2006

JERUSALEM -- Israel's network of military checkpoints and road barriers in the West Bank has grown by 40 percent in the past year, part of an increasingly sophisticated system of controls that disrupts all aspects of Palestinian life, a UN agency said yesterday.

These physical obstacles are carving up the West Bank into separate parts, with travel between them becoming more and more difficult, said David Shearer, head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem.

UN officials in Geneva, meanwhile, expressed concern about the ongoing closure of the Gaza Strip, including the crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

``It cannot continue like it is now without a social explosion that will hurt everybody, including Israeli security," said Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian chief.

The tightened travel restrictions come at a time of continued deadlock -- both in efforts to restart an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and a bid by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a more a pragmatic government that is acceptable to the international community.

The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has reiterated in recent days that it will not recognize Israel or renounce violence -- key conditions for the lifting of an international aid boycott.

In Brussels, the EU said yesterday it had given $816 million in aid to the Palestinians this year, bypassing the Hamas government.

EU spokeswoman Emma Udwin said a two-day meeting of European specialists agreed to expand the aid to cover 60,000 additional people in the Palestinian territories, from the 100,000 currently receiving help through the international fund overseen by the World Bank.

Jacob Walles, the US consul general in Jerusalem, said the United States is prepared to work with any Palestinian government that meets the international demands.

With Hamas refusing to compromise, it should make room for others, Walles said.

``They should let another government come in, in some way, and accept the conditions," Walles told Palestinian reporters.

In Jerusalem, the UN humanitarian office said it has seen an increase of nearly 40 percent in the number of army checkpoints and physical barriers in the West Bank, from 376 in August 2005 to 528 in September of this year. (Link to Article)

*****

Harper’s

“The Case for Impeachment.  Why We Can No Longer Afford George W. Bush,” by Lewis H. Lapham, Editor, Harper’s Magazine  (Link to Article)
 
*****

The New Yorker

KEEP OUT
by George Packer

Issue of 2006-10-16
Posted 2006-10-09

There is an American tradition of responding to threats by confusing thoughts with acts and temporarily forgetting what Jefferson set down, in 1779, as one of the country’s founding principles: “that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate.” The modern legislative history of banning undesirable opinions from American shores began in 1918, when Congress passed the Anarchist Act, which was designed to keep out people with subversive ideas. In 1952, as the McCarthy era was reaching its hysterical phase, the Immigration and Nationality Act, better known as McCarran-Walter, added Communists to the list of aliens to be excluded from entry. In the following years, Graham Greene, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, and Dario Fo were denied visas.

In the age of terror, the Patriot Act denies entry to anyone who materially supports a terrorist organization, which is defined in hopelessly broad terms as any group of two or more people who intend to kill or inflict harm upon others. Among many thousands of foreigners, the law has kept out the Swiss-Egyptian scholar Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan is a grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and is an Islamist himself. He argues for a large role for religion in Arab-Muslim states and an assertion of Muslim identity alongside citizenship in Western democracies. (Some critics accuse him of concealing more radical views; their evidence is thin.) His lectures and his books on Islam and the West have gained him a following among young European Muslims. In 2004, Ramadan was given a tenured appointment at the University of Notre Dame. He had rented a house in South Bend, shipped his furniture there, and enrolled his children in Indiana schools, when the State Department, acting on secret information from the Department of Homeland Security, revoked the visa that it had granted him. It has taken two years of repeated applications and inquiries, as well as a lawsuit by American civil-liberties, academic, and literary organizations, for Ramadan to receive an official explanation: between 1998 and 2002, he donated about seven hundred and seventy dollars to a pro-Palestinian French charity that was suspected of channelling money to Hamas, and which did not appear on the State Department’s blacklist until 2003. Ex post facto, Ramadan has run afoul of the Patriot Act.  (Link to Article)


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Harvard Square Commentary, October 16, 2006