A Sunday summary

Lots of things have been piling up and I’m still plowing through some work and errands to run today — then the next two days will be pretty heavy at work before I fly out for Terrastock on Wednesday. I’ll be doing some sort of blogging on the road, more on that later, just maybe not as actively!

So for now, some quick thoughts and a couple of links:

  • It is perhaps perversely appropriate that as we move into the final months of the current presidency the battleground where it all started following 9/11, Afghanistan, now proves itself to be on shaky ground once more. Complaining about how it seems the US has given up trying to find Osama bin Laden ignores the history of the region — the whole point is that it is easy to hide there, after all, and any student of past occupations of the area over the centuries can be summed up as ‘thin veneer of control in the cities, a lot more up in the air anywhere else.’ And we see it again, and only the historically blind should be surprised.
  • Meanwhile, Iraq. To repeat a point once more — wanting there to be more chaos and death means to be a fool, so I’m certainly pleased as punch that things are relatively calmer. And yet:

    The announcement came as Iraqi officials deployed tens of thousands of security forces across southern Iraq in response to the creation of the new Sadr group. The new secret paramilitary wing, which Sadr called “the special companies,” might start launching attacks within the next week, his aides said.

    In the holy city of Najaf, officials said 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers were being put on high alert and deployed to protect the Imam Ali shrine and the grand ayatollahs. They said an additional 17,000 security forces were deployed in and around the nearby holy city of Karbala.

    And in the eastern city of Amarah, a stronghold of the Sadr movement, Iraqi forces massed in preparation for an operation against Shiite militiamen. U.S. officials have said Amarah, the oil-rich capital of Maysan province, is used as a center for smuggling weapons from Iran.

    Speaking about provincial elections, which are scheduled for this fall, aides to Sadr said the movement would support “technocrats and independent politicians” to prevent rival political parties from dominating local governments. But they said the movement would not put forward its own candidates.

    That ain’t stable. Combined with Maliki essentially saying ‘Would the US kindly stop thinking that theirs is the only wishes which should be heeded’ and the next few months will be interesting — in a very sad way, I suspect. We can but wait.

  • I have written bad headlines before. (I’ve written much more bad stuff than merely headlines.) But whoever came up for the headline for this NY Times story on a band I am sublimely indifferent towards, My Morning Jacket — “Out of the Comfort Zone, Into the Wild Rock Yonder” — deserves derision. That ranks up there with the instantly-moronic term ‘y’allternative’ from however long ago now.
  • Finally, a bit in this story about the imminent start to gay marriage in California on Tuesday that I think sums things up very well:

    “Straight people enter into dating and courtship with marriage always out there as a possibility throughout the relationship,” he said. “It wasn’t even a possibility for us, and then all of a sudden there’s this looming question: Do we want to get married? It’s this whole new commitment I hadn’t really thought about.”

    For gay couples, he said, the decision carries pressure to act quickly, since marriage will no longer be an option if a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passes in November.

    “I think this whole marriage thing is causing more anxiety and fights among gay couples than anything has before,” he said.

    It’s a new frontier for a lot of folks. I still remember the words of an old roommate of mine in college, Steve, who was the first openly gay member of ASUCLA and who looked forward to the day when something like this might happen. I suspect he’s both thrilled and maybe a little surprised right about now, wherever he’s at. Hope he’s well.

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