« Thursday Open Thread | Main | Bitter Irony Department »

August 21, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Davis X. Machina

Things have gotten interesting in Libya.

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?

Joe S

My condolences to you and your spouse, Sir C.

Sir Charles


I want to post something about Libya. I was ambivalent about the wisdom of our role there, but I found the Greenwald notion that this was somehow indistinguishable from Iraq to be ridiculous in every sense.


Thanks. We're in that very strange stage where there is a flurry of activity that kind of prevents the reality from fully sinking in. I suspect it will hit home harder -- especially for my wife who has now lost both parents -- once all of the formalities are attended to.

Krubozumo Nyankoye

Yes, condolences are in order, the passing of the elders is a milestone. Ohm shanti.

Nice quote DXM. Let us be hopeful WRT Libya.

SC - I don't think we can compare the military now with what it was in the 60s-70s. I'll give a pass on the most glaring difference which is subscription. To anyone who was between the ages of 18 and 26 during the period 1966 to 1973 the selective service was a symbol of the political might of the powers that were. It was a bludgeon to be used to try to tamp down the outrage over useless and brutal carnage. It was an epic fight over all.

Today I am not at all certain exactly what we've got in the form of a military. The all volunteer concept has certain merits but when you weigh the motives of why some might do so it becomes more problematic. Perhaps their ultimate purpose is to serve some other directorate than the established government. This goes to the seven mountains scheme, the military is an obvious key in attaining dominion. Everyone here should apprise themselves of the conditions in our military academies, particularly the air force acadmey and realise that religous zealots who hear voices in their heads directing them, are in many positions of immense responsibility respecting such things as nuclear weapons.

Actually, when I look at the political landscape in the US I think to myself, is this some kind of sick joke?

The top three republican candidates for the position of most powerful person in the world are religous nutjobs who claim they have been chosen by their big sky daddy to lead us out of our tribulations based on praying for forgiveness for our sinful ways?

Yes, the world laughs at the politics of the US.

kathy a.

sir charles -- our thoughts are with your family and you forllowing the loss of your mother-in-law. she sounds like a wonderful woman who lived a good full life, and it's a relief she was able to go reasonably gently. it must have been a joy to her, living so close.

i want to think about that article some more -- it has a point, but i think overstates the case for widespread idolatry of the military and its missions. and i am not sure i agree with his conclusion that regard for service-people equates to (or is the most cogent example of) the rest of us sitting on our butts and deferring to "heros." it feels like he is smashing some not-terribly-related points together.

there are a number of differences between afghanistan/iraq and the VN war. one is that we currently have an all-volunteer military. the mass demonstrations during the VN years were fueled by the draft -- everyone was subject to the draft or knew people who were drafted. there were so very many casualties that most people also knew one or more of them. it seems obvious that the previous administration made the decision that re-instating the draft to support these wars would be political suicide, and would result in widespread vocal and persistent opposition.

i agree that we learned something after VN; it was disgraceful that servicemembers were shunned and villified for doing what they were ordered to do.

it is also disgraceful that we have managed these wars despite no draft by rotating servicemembers into combat multiple times -- i just read of a suicide, where the servicemember was about to be deployed for the 8th time, and had been trying to get out of it because he had been injured and had ptsd symptoms from the previous tours.

there has been a lot of opposition to these current wars, from the beginning -- not much in congress when it started in afghanistan so soon after 9/11, or when the "weapons of mass destruction" smoke and mirrors was presented about iraq, but certainly many outside congress were opposed all along, and hindsight has opened some congressional eyes as well. more recently, you even hear it from some on the republican side.

and there are some policy/strategy results. we are pulling out. we are cutting the defense budget. obviously not as fast as most of us would like, but there's no denying the movement out of the quagmires.


I also offer my condolences. I have not yet experienced this, but my parents are elderly, too.

Paula B

Condolences, SC to you, your wife and family. Even when a parent is 90, death comes as a shock. My sympathies to all of you.
One or two of Qaddafi's sons have been captured and Moamar's hours may be numbered. Couldn't happen to a finer guy.
We're under tornado warning and I hear thunder, so am getting off the computer.


Sir C, my condolences to you and your wife. I'm at the age when I'm seeing a lot of people go through this (my own father died several years ago, and my husband has long since lost both parents). And people my age are getting sick, divorced, etc. Time passes...

The world will definitely be a better place without Gaddafi. The man's a murderer in my book.

I'm one of those liberals with an ambivalent attitude towards the military, compounded by the fact that I now work for them. I always separate the soldiers (and their families) from the policymakers in my mind; I totally disagreed with Iraq, don't agree with the way Afghanistan has been handled, and am of mixed views on Libya, but in each case the soldiers are doing what they're ordered to do--it's the politicians who make the decisions. I think one can respect the sacrifices the soldiers make without agreeing with the policies. Some things I do admire about the military: it's one of the few institutions left in the US that isn't all about making money, and there is still some ethos among the leadership about taking care of the soldiers, which sure as hell doesn't seem to characterize most employers in this country these days.


I'm sorry SirC. A lot of good-bye to accept this month for you and your wife. May all be peaceful and hopeful and kind as you move through change.


I second nancy's thoughts.


A lot of good-bye to accept this month for you and your wife.

Son (in his own way) and all...

big bad wolf

SC, my condolences. It sounds as if she had a good and generous life.

great song.

MR Bill

Sir Charles, I'm sorry for your Families loss..
Here's a poem by Borges that speaks to me:

Jorge Luis Borges

Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.

If there is a limit to all things and a measure
And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
Who will tell us to whom in this house
We without knowing it have said farewell?

Through the dawning window night withdraws
And among the stacked books which throw
Irregular shadows on the dim table,
There must be one which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one worn gate,
With its cement urns and planted cactus,
Which is already forbidden to my entry,
Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.

There is a door you have closed forever
And some mirror is expecting you in vain;
To you the crossroads seem wide open,
Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.

You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.

[Translation by Alastair Reid]

Sir Charles

Thanks one and all for your kind thoughts.

My mother in law was a great story. She moved down to DC at the age of 78 following the death of her husband of 53 years (also a very lovely man). She had been a suburban housewife for at least fifty of those years, so the move to the city was a big change. But she did it with complete aplomb -- it seemed like only a matter of weeks and she was riding the buses, taking the Metro, joining a church, making friends in her apartment building, and even driving a little bit. She ended up having a very joyful time living here -- she loved the city and her newfound independence and was not dependent on us at all really.

She was very resolute in the face of illness, chosing not to have surgery or intrusive care when diagnosed at the age of 90 with pretty advanced colon cancer. Her only complaint was that she wished she had a more dignified illness, which cracked me up.

With her passing and our son moving out -- possibly for good -- in a couple of weeks, it does seem like a huge life change. My wife and I were noting yesterday that Stanley is going to be even more spoiled than he already is.

Prup (aka Jim Benton)

Sir C: You and she were fortunate to have the time to get used to the thought of her death, to reach the stage of accepting it long enough before it happened. It is fortume you, your wife, and your mother-in-law all deserved. A mother-in-law who can create the liking in her son-in-law that you show in your comments is a rare and valued commodity. (I will be unable to say similar things when I come to report the death of mine.)

Certainly she had a lot of things in her life that brought her joy. As you look back, realize that one of those things was having you as a son-in-law, which says good things about her skill as a parent. Celebrate -- as you are -- the time you had to know her. It wasn't long enough, but then it never is.

As for Stanley, may i suggest that introducing a cat into the household might be good for him and the two of you. Cats are very good at keeping someone from feeling spoiled -- except for themselves of course, but then they deaserve being spoiled.

kathy a.

wonderful stories about your MIL, SC. only "wished she had a more dignified illness" -- should i end up in such a situation, hope i'm able to muster that kind of dignity and humor.

don't worry, the young squire will be back, if only now and then. it's a huge transition when they venture forth for extended periods -- i finally stopped crying at each major departure when my younger began her senior year of college. on the one hand, the house will be too quiet and the schedule less full. on the other hand, it's amazing how quickly one can adjust. mom recommends USPS flat rate boxes for care packages and shipping what was forgotten -- cheap, reliable, the post office even gives you the boxes.

Paula B

Good suggestions, Kathy. Also, see if you can talk the lad into an occasional Skype visit. You can record it and/or shoot stills off the video feed as you visit online.
As a MIL, stepmom and grandmother, i can tell you those jobs require maneuvering the minefields of the generation gap, with nary a misstep. I've hit a few live ones, I confess. Your MIL must have been a very savvy lady, as well as independent and brave.

kathy a.

skype is good -- that got us through daughter's year in japan. the lad is accomplished and ready to go, but i'd be willing to bet he could use a stanley fix every now and then; phones are inadequate.

low-tech cyclist

My condolences, SC - your MIL sounds like a wonderful person.

In addition to the reasons kathy mentions for the absence of anti-Iraq War protests after we'd been there awhile, I'll add one more: the lack of any chance that protests would make a difference, or even be taken seriously by anyone who counted.

There had been large-scale protests against the upcoming war during the 2002-2003 winter, after all, and they were buried in the news. Tea Party protests with only a few dozen attendees got more coverage over the past couple of years than hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters did that winter.

There was little appetite for doing it again, given those circumstances. Markos Moulitsas was pretty outspoken during the period about how organizing such a protest would be nothing but wasted effort, and I think he was spot on.

Paula B

This just in: Gaddafi Found

August 22, 2011
Gaddafi Found Running for Republican Nomination

Libyan Madman Turns Up in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH (The Borowitz Report) – The mystery surrounding Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s whereabouts was resolved today as the dictator announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in a town hall meeting in Concord, New Hampshire.

In announcing his candidacy, the Libyan madman joins a Republican field which is believed to number in excess of seven hundred candidates.

While some New Hampshire Republicans seemed surprised to see Col. Gaddafi shaking hands and kissing babies at the Concord town hall, an aide to the Libyan strongman said his transformation to GOP candidate made perfect sense.

“In those final days in Tripoli he was becoming increasingly disconnected from reality,” said the aide. “So I think he’ll fit right in.”

Mr. Gaddafi, dressed in his trademark yellow turban and matching robe, got mixed reviews in his first appearance on the campaign trail, with some New Hampshire citizens saying that his six-hour stump speech was badly in need of pruning.

Additionally, some felt that his rhetoric needed to be toned down, especially his closing line about fighting for the Republican nomination “until the last drop of blood.”

But others gave him high marks for his grasp of history and geography, which most agreed was stronger than Michele Bachmann’s.

Perhaps underscoring the challenges that lie ahead for Mr. Gaddafi in his quest for the GOP nod, current polls show him in the back of the pack, leading former Senator Rick Santorum but trailing the pizza guy.

“Unfortunately for Muammar Gaddafi, he might be out of step with the current crop of Republican candidates,” one pollster said. “There’s a perception that he’s too moderate.”


Aw, man. My condolences, Sir Charles.

Sir Charles






Paula: Love it!

Mr. Bill: that's a wonderful poem. I too am a Borges fan; Ficciones, which I've read in both Spanish and English, is an amazing, complex, sometimes maddening ("What in the world is he getting at??") book.

Sir C, your wife and you were truly blessed to have had her parents in your lives.


Really sad to hear about your family's loss, SC.

I've left the USA as a place of residence for the time being, am staying in Canada for a few days before I move to Euroland for maybe 1-3 years. I'll quite likely be back in the USA, well, to visit, but also for a more extended period once I am done with Eurp.

Unfortunately, there has been some bad news in Canada. Just the morning after I arrived in Canada---this Monday morning, in other words---it turns out that the mainstream Canadian left has been dealt a huge blow. NDP leader Jack Layton died of cancer. He has been fighting cancer for a couple of years now. He had gone on sick leave a few weeks ago and appointed an interim leader, and claimed that he would return in September, but the way he looked during the press conference (terrible) made it difficult to believe.

It's hard to describe the nature and depth of this blow. Layton made the NDP into a far more credible force, putting an explicitly left-wing party in striking distance of government. And he made his greatest accomplishments campaigning hard when he was apparently quite sick.

He leaves behind a wife, Olivia Chow, who is a major politician in her own right (Toronto MP), and his children from a previous marriage. Olivia Chow released a letter containing last words to the party and the country that he penned shortly before his death, containing both practical advice (e.g. when to hold the party convention to choose his successor---Canada doesn't do primaries) and political wishes for social justice and the like.

Paula B

somebody on my FB just mentioned an earthquake in VA that could be felt all the way up here???? Something fell off a kitchen counter a little while ago. Was that it?


Wow! That's different!

Hat tip, Talking Points Memo.


I felt nothing where I work in Boston.

The comments to this entry are closed.