Book review: The Emperor, by Ryszard Kapuściński

THE EMPEROR : downfall of an autocrat, by Ryszard Kapuściński. Translated from Polish by William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand. New York: Vintage, 1983. 164 pp. ISBN–10 0151287716 Forty years ago today, the deposed absolute ruler of Ethiopia died in prison after more than 40 years on the throne. Haile Selassie, the Lion of Judah, […]

How many Muslims are joining ISIS?

How many Muslims have gone to join the violent psychopaths of ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever we’re supposed to call it? According to some, such as the ex-Muslim celebrity Ayaan Hirsi Ali, every Muslim is supposed to support ISIS. I mean, most Muslims are good people, but their religion is backward, tribal, and in need […]

Mr. Netanyahu goes to Washington

Image (above): Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther, oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1660. Netanyahu drew on the story of Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia, in his speech to the U.S. Congress. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, addressed a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. This time, he […]

Answer: Hate the South

This Friday marks the first anniversary of one of the meanest pieces of writing I’ve seen from a liberal pen. It is Sara Robinson’s piece for Alternet (picked up by Salon) on “conservative Southern values” as an existential threat to our republic. While there’s a glimmer of truth to Robinson’s portrait of what she calls […]

ACT for America has an agenda for Congress

Labeling a Muslim

ACT for America, an activist group opposing “radical Islam,”1 is pushing a ten-point agenda for the 112th Congress.

Let’s take a look. Continue reading “ACT for America has an agenda for Congress”

Letter to the White House

I cannot sleep, I cannot eat. I’m scared to walk to the bathroom because I’m afraid they will hunt me down.… I’m not the same. — An American citizen trapped in Kuwait Here is my letter: Sir, please intervene to ensure that Gulet Mohamed, age 19, of Alexandria, Virginia, is returned home from prison in […]

America’s dashboard GPS of war

Sad to say, this earlier post still applies. It’s all I have to say about l’affaire McChrystal et Petraeus. I’ve read more than one news item describing how drivers sometimes place too much faith in their GPS navigation devices. Guided by the disembodied voice coming from the dashboard, some have doggedly followed dirt roads to […]

The Injuns are coming (again)

Attention Conservation Notice: This post is about Alabama politics and the use of American Indian imagery to score political points.

Spotted this billboard the other day in East Lake, Birmingham.

The three men on the right are Alabama Governor Bob Riley, John Tyson (current head of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling) and David Barber (the first head of the task force). An Indian war bonnet adorns the space above the three mug shots. Continue reading “The Injuns are coming (again)”

The enormity of it

I’ve avoided mention of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because there are no words for the enormity of it. The pessimist in me supposes that we can look forward to more of this kind of death-dealing merchant-adventurism in our future. The optimist in me is silent.

The only consequences BP appears likely to suffer are unanticipated expenditures, some nagging civil lawsuits, and a short-term drop in retail sales at the pump.

Compare that to the trashing of the two most vital ecosystems in the northern Gulf (the Mississippi and Alabama river deltas), not to mention the fisheries that thousands of people depend on for a living. Throw in the poisoning of uncounted sea and shore animals, at a time of year when birds converge on the Gulf coast to mate and raise chicks. To top it all, BP’s recklessness will pepper the Gulf’s beaches with nasty tarballs — that’s if we’re very lucky. If we’re unlucky, we’ll get a noisome coat of glistening crude that will sicken and kill for years to come.

We also get to be a laboratory for what happens when you squirt poisonous dispersants into a living sea. Anyone want to guess? Continue reading “The enormity of it”

Neighborhood sign nazi

One morning’s haul of campaign signsOne of our local political candidates started putting up signs back in December, for a party primary that wouldn’t happen until June. Dozens of signs.

Late in February my mother complained about them, saying she wanted to get rid of a Jim Gunter sign that had appeared at her street corner. Who’s Jim Gunter anyway?

So I went and took it down. Soon I began removing other signs as I encountered them.
Continue reading “Neighborhood sign nazi”