Obama in Selma

On March 7, 1965, about 600 people gathered to march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

This is what happened:

It’s important to remember the history to fully appreciate Obama’s words. Some of us are old enough to remember when this happened. A lot of us weren’t even alive then and see it as ancient history.

Fifty years is a lifetime. But for some of us who watched the persecution and the beatings on television that night a half century ago, it really was only yesterday.

Fox News in France

OK, so you don’t speak French, but if you stick with this, you’ll understand the reaction the people in Europe have to Fox News’s reports that there are places in Europe that are “no-go zones” because they’ve been taken over by Islamists.

The Parisians have come to the same realization that many of us in America have had for years.

Fox News makes you stupid.

The pope and the godmother of punk

From the Independent in the U.K.:

Patti Smith has been invited by Pope Francis to perform at the Vatican’s annual Christmas concert, the Holy See has announced.

The rock legend, known as the ‘Godmother of Punk’, is one of 18 acts due to play at Rome’s Conciliation Auditorium on 13 December. The concert will be broadcast live on television.

We should have a right wing meltdown any minute now. Google “Patti Smith” and “Gloria lyrics.” The first line tells you all you need to know.

I saw Patti Smith in Brussels around 2004, part of the 150th anniversary of the birth of French poet Arthur Rimbeau. She said he was a major influence on her work. The seats were in the second row, stage left. Although Patti Smith is the godmother of punk, the show was relatively calm. Amplified acoustic guitars instead of screaming electric one. She was near 60 then, still skinny as a rail and still extremely emotive.

Went something like this:

The Vatican is very special at Christmas time. I took my wife and son during one Christmas break while we were living in Europe. They celebrated Mass in the afternoon while I walked around St. Peter’s and looked at the amazing artwork. Take a virtual tour here.

The invitation is a fascinating move by Pope Francis. Seems like everything he does these days pisses off the conservatives in the Catholic hierarchy. Inviting Patti Smith to the Christmas concert isn’t going to put him in their good graces, but fortunately, he doesn’t seem to care.


A never ending war

This happened 13 years ago today:

poem-response-to-september-11-2001-phoenixtools11And we’re still fighting the same war (from the Washington Post):

President Obama began outlining a sweeping and long-term strategy Wednesday night for combatting the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, launching what could be the biggest counterterrorism campaign of his presidency. …

According to prepared remarks, Obama said the offensive against the militant group will not involve combat troops but a “steady, relentless effort” through airstrikes in both countries and support for military partners on the ground.

Al-Qaeda was made up of a bunch of psychopaths. And ISIL is made up of guys who al-Qaeda says are too extreme (from the New York Times).

While Al Qaeda remains committed to using terrorist tactics against the West and Arab governments, it has criticized ISIS for killing civilians and for waging war on other Muslims. This rivalry has disrupted the jihadist landscape across the Middle East and spurred new debates about how to fight jihad and what, exactly, an Islamic state is supposed to look like.

This is what happens when you let a bunch of religious nuts loose with high tech weaponry. I hope this Obama announcement has some effect, but sadly, all I think is going to happen is a lot of innocent people are going to die.