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July 20, 2007

Happily Noted: The UN Makes Harry Potter Go 'Round
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

What have international organizations done for America lately?  I am not making up this excerpt from the UN's daily briefing:


  • The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is also joining Potter-Mania as millions of copies of the seventh and final Harry Potter novel will go on sale July 21.

  • The UPU – the primary forum of cooperation between Posts—says that never before in the history of the postal service, will postmen and women the world over have delivered so many identical books on the same day.

Wizardly thanks to the young-at-heart Potter fan in sunny CA who pointed this out to me.

Sadly Noted: We Are "Done" With Iraq, and with its suffering people too
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Remember a while back when an outcry went up about how few Iraqi refugees the US was admitting?  Then the US pledged to take 25,000, a whopping one percent, of the 2.2 million estimated to need resettlement?

We were supposed to resettle 7,000 in FY '07 (which ends in September), but the US recently announced we would only process 2,000 by then.  Only 133 have made it into the country so far, apparently thanks mostly to the careful work of the Department of Homeland Security.

Warren, Michigan (an industrial city outside Detroit) has a large population of Iraqi Chaldean Christians.  It made the Money Magazine top 100 places to live in the US last year.  It also has a lot of unemployed former industrial workers in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country.  Many of the Iraqis applying to come here have family there.  Although the Administration pledged to spread refugees around the country, local civic and religious groups have begun gearing up to welcome the newcomers.

Not the Mayor of Warren, who this week sent out a news release claiming that 15,000 Iraqis were coming to "unfairly burden" Warren and neighboring Sterling Heights.  (Interestingly, the good people of Sterling Heights seem to be coping just fine.)

The press release that Warren's Congressman, long-serving Democrat Sander Levin, put out in response is quite an indictment both of how little the US is actually doing on refugee resettlement and how viciously Warren Mayor Steenbergh seems to have distorted that pathetic reality.  How many refugees are expected in Michigan in the coming weeks?  90.  How many of those are expected in Warren and Sterling Heights combined?  45.

Kudos to Levin and shame on us. Not just on Mayor Steenbergh and his fear-mongering, but all of us who don't live where employment is 6.9 percent and no new jobs are coming soon, who talk and think about Iraq being "over" like pulling a tooth or driving away from a traffic jam. 

"Mission Completion!"
Posted by Moira Whelan

Those with children will get the reference to Little Einsteins. But the Little Einsteins in the White House aren’t measuring up to Disney’s young problem solvers, and frankly are not doing their Republican friends in Congress any favors.

Republicans should be getting the message that if they want “Mission Completion!” to be shouted from the rooftops, they need Tevo, the Disney Channel, and their Favorite Rocket Ship, because they’re not going to get it from the White House.


Continue reading ""Mission Completion!"" »

July 19, 2007

What the Baker-Hamilton Commission Could Do Next
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Trying to use the phenomenal popularity of the Baker-Hamilton Commission (itself very astutely feeding off the phenomenal popularity of the 9-11 Commission) to stand in for strong action on troop withdrawal, Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) put forward a proposal, now apparently dead, for a "Baker-Hamilton II" to propose a way forward in Iraq.

I'd like to see something a little different:  ask the Baker-Hamilton wise folks to go back to work and give us a dispassionate, bipartisan estimate of how Congress can start now, and the next Administration can continue, to clean up the damage the Iraq war has done to our national interests in the Middle East, our position in world public opinon, our military preparedness, and our core national values.

I doubt they'd come up with a sadder, tighter statement of the problem than this piece by Timothy Garton Ash from the LA Times, "Iraq hasn't even begun."  But having bipartisan agreement on the dimensions of the problem -- and bipartisan recommendations on what to do about it -- might do a lot to move some issues off the dime in a closely-divided Congress and past the veto pen of this White House.  It would also prepare the ground and make things easier for the next President, whomever s/he may be.

Just a thought.

July 18, 2007

Homeland, anyone?
Posted by Moira Whelan

Fran Townsend has worked herself into a lather over the last few days to