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.

Demonstrations in D.C.

A very busy day in the nation’s capital yesterday (From the Washington Post):

Demonstrations drew thousands of people from around the country to the White House and the streets of downtown Washington on Saturday afternoon in peaceful protests.

In one, participants called for an end to the continued violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, advocates converged in the District to urge President Obama to take administrative action on issues involving undocumented immigrants. Both groups ended up at the White House in the afternoon, seeking a stage to voice their concerns.

The larger group, supporting the Palestinians, arrived by bus from big cities and many others drove hundreds of miles to participate, organizers said

“Free, free Palestine, killing children is a crime,” the crowd chanted. Several people held Palestinian flags, cardboard boxes representing coffins or posters with graphic images of the wounded. …

… At the same time, hundreds gathered — first at the Mall, and then at Freedom Plaza and at the White House — to push for ­immigration-policy reform..

I don’t usually go around the White House on Saturday, but I was biking to Northwest Washington to see a friend headed off to China, and just saw mobs of people everywhere and a huge police presence around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For some reason, there were also a lot of people lined up to go on the White House grounds, and I didn’t think they had tours on the weekend.

And I will say that although this story gives the impression that both demonstrations drew equal attention. the reality is that the immigration gathering was nothing compared to the Gaza demonstration. I biked by Freedom Plaza and saw a very small group of people for the immigration rally. And to be honest, I’ve seen more people at the regular Sunday night tango sessions in Freedom Plaza than at the immigration rally.

For those of you who never pay attention to international news, you are aware, in the abstract, that people are getting killed as Israel and Gaza exchange rocket and missile fire. There are pretend cease-fires, but the minute one is announced, it’s broken. This is the death toll so far (click to enlarge):

Gaza-deathsThis is what the Gaza demonstration was about. The slaughter of children. No one would be demonstrating if it was just soldiers and militants killing each other.