Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
They are saying on television that it is the end of Camelot, that never again will the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport be the center of a major news event. Very likely, that is true--that this is the final act of the Kennedy family as the closest thing that we have had to royalty. Yet I prefer to think of the things that the family has done: the civil rights, immigration, labor and healthcare legislation that they were instrumental in bringing to reality, the Special Olympics, and above all the spirit of citizenship, service and friendliness that characterized, and still characterizes them.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For all those whose cares have been our
concern, the work goes on, the cause endures,
the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
I never really thought the cancer would get him. He was Ted Kennedy, after all, and it was merely cancer. I guess larger than life wasn't large enough in the end.
Perhaps other nations think of legislators the way we revere some few of our senators, but it seems unlikely. Ted Kennedy walked in the shoes of Webster, Clay and Calhoun and perhaps a few others; Hubert Humphrey comes to my mind. He did things for people--ordinary people. (I was tempted to write, "people very different from himself," but from what I know of him--and I never met the man--I don't think he saw himself as different from the rest of us.) He was great in his accomplishments and great in his heart. He started from a privileged background, but had many obstacles to overcome, some of his own making, to become the giant we think of today.
We'll miss you, Ted.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
President Hamid Karzai seems poised to declare an overwhelming victory in Afghanistan’s hotly contested presidential election, even as allegations of fraud by his main opponent threaten to undermine the credibility of the vote.Apparently, they imported vote-counters from Iran.
The president’s finance minister, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, claimed Monday that Mr. Karzai had garnered 68 percent of ballots in Thursday’s election, quoting figures from election officials that he said had been provided to the cabinet.Such a showing would make a second round of voting unnecessary.
How dumb do they think we are? How dumb do they think the Afghan people--that is, the ones who haven't written off the government entirely--are?
Just yesterday we heard reports that the western military commanders in Afghanistan are preparing to ask for more troops. As regular readers will recall, this page has long supported the Afghan war as necessary or at least justified. But in the end, as everyone recognizes, the Taliban and their terrorist allies (which allies are the reason we are in this, and the only justification for putting American and other NATO troops in among the warring parties) can only be defeated by the Afghans. If the Afghan people do not reject the Taliban, the country will only be a graveyard for foreign troops.
And it should go without saying that the only way that the people of Afghanistan will back the central government is if it presents something worth supporting. That means, as a first step. making serious inroads on corruption, cronyism and incompetence.
Apparently, there is no appetite for serious reform in the Afghan government. It's time for the US to tell Karzai (whom I welcomed early in his term) some home truths: that if he and those around him are not going to get on the stick and put the welfare of the nation above their own fortunes, the US will leave him and his cronies to their just desserts. As a first step in that lesson, no more troops until government improves.
Update: According to AP, fragmentary official returns give Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah (the former foreign minister) about 40% each. Returns are to be reported over the next few days.