Friday, March 17, 2006

An Idea Whose Time Had Come a Long Time Ago

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- Alabama lawmakers are considering pardoning hundreds, possibly thousands, of people who were arrested decades ago for violating Alabama's segregation laws.

The idea of a mass pardon gained traction after the death last year of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who had refused to give up her bus seat to a white man half a century earlier.

Even though the law allowing segregated seating on city buses was eventually overturned, Parks' conviction is still on the record, said Rep. Thad McClammy.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Iraq Civil War, Step 4.3

It isn't blue uniforms facing off against gray uniforms across a skirmish line. It's more like this:

Elsewhere, Shiites and Sunnis have become refugees in their own country, as they flee neighborhoods and outlying villages where they have found themselves members of a suddenly unwelcome minority.

On the other side of Baghdad, more than 50 Shiite families from nearby villages have turned the classrooms of the Al-Shahid Al-Jazairi elementary school in the Shiite neighborhood of Shoala into a refugee camp. They sleep on the school's cracked tile floors, atop dust-colored mattresses donated by neighbors, and cook with kerosene camping stoves.

Mohammed Hussein, a 32-year-old Shiite shopkeeper from the Sunni-dominated suburb of Abu Ghraib, near the infamous prison, has taken shelter here. The day after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra, he says, he found a notice pasted to the door of his women's clothing store in the Abu Ghraib market."We have information that you are engaged in suspicious activities and have cooperated with suspicious people," the notice read. "You have 48 hours to leave." It was signed by a group calling itself the Mujahedeen Brigades. Hussein collected his family and fled that same day.

"Now I don't have anything," he says. "I had to leave all the goods in the store, and all my furniture in my home. It's not safe to go back to get them." At least 10 other Shiite families fled Abu Ghraib that same day, he says. Hussein, once content to live among Sunnis, is now vowing to fight his erstwhile neighbors. "I don't have the money to buy guns, but if they try to attack me again, I will fight even if I have to use stones," he says.

When even the threat of violence creates a refugee situation, you have civil war folks.

Bombs Away!!!

Story number 2 explains story number 1.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


While there is still no doubt that Saddam deserves everything that is coming to him, he did make a couple of points in the courtroom yesterday that needed to be made:

Mr. Hussein called on Iraqis to stop fighting each other and said that "criminals" were responsible for the bombing in Samarra that touched off waves of sectarian killings.

The trial's chief judge, Raouf Abdel-Rahman, repeatedly interrupted Mr. Hussein, telling him to stick to the charges against him.

"This is a criminal court, we are not in politics," the judge said. "If it wasn't for politics neither you nor I would be here today," Mr. Hussein retorted.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Iraq Civil War, Step 4.2

Posted without comment, from today's New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 14 — The police reported finding 68 bodies today scattered around the city, as the wave of reprisal killings for Sunday's attack on Shiite civilians appeared to gain steam.


The wave of killings followed a graphic display of street violence on Monday, in which Shiite vigilantes seized four men suspected of terrorist attacks, interrogated them, beat them, killed them and left their bodies dangling from lampposts on Monday morning, witnesses and government officials said.


The toll, as reported by an Iraqi Interior Ministry official, was equal to the worst of the many bombings that has racked the city over the last year, but spread out in individual acts of violence across its entire breadth.


On Monday, in Sadr City, the Shiite section in Baghdad where the terrorist suspects were executed, government forces vanished. The streets are ruled by aggressive teenagers with shiny soccer jerseys and machine guns.

They set up roadblocks and poke their heads into cars and detain whomever they want. Mosques blare warnings on loudspeakers for American troops to stay out. Increasingly, the Americans have been doing just that.

There seems to be no minimum age to join the action. A playful boy named Musa, who said he was 11 but looked about 8, was part of a 4-foot-tall militia struggling to drag chunks of concrete into the street to block cars on Monday. "We're guarding the road," Musa explained. He was carrying a toy pistol. Some of the other boys had real ones.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Right now I'm watching Senator Russ Feingold from Wisconson introduce a resolution on the floor of the Senate to censure President Bush for authorizing illegal warrantless spying on Americans as part of his so-call "war on terror." The president's actions violated the 1978 FISA law explicitly requiring a warrant for any such surviellance. Bush, assuming the powers of a king, simply decided, with no foundation, to ignore the law.

A very strong argument can be made that impeachment is the appropriate remedy for what Mr. Bush has done. According to polls, about half of the American people agree. In classic afraid-of-their-own shadows, though, the Democrats in Congress won't touch it.

Censure, then, could be seen as a compromise -- a chance to strongly rebuke the president for his actions and make a statement that even after 9/11 the US is still a nation of laws, but without taking the nation through the trauma of an impeachment.

GOP senators are right now trying to wreck Feingold's flow. Frist of Tennessee is trying to take time away from Russ, while Specter of Pennsylvania is demanding to see a copy of the resolution before Russ speaks. Feiny is having none of it. He's speaking his peace. He's acting like a member of Congress -- something in shockingly short supply these days among both Democrats and Republicans.

The disturbing thing is that most Democrats are afraid to support even this half-measure. Think about that: they are afraid to make a statement that the president broke the law and his actions were not acceptable. What are they afraid of? Half of Americans agree that his actions were wrong. It's just a statement of how you feel. When you're afraid of how you feel about an issue of significant importance, you're useless as a so-called representative. You should resign. Even worse, if you don't think what Bush did is wrong, well...