Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wednesday round-up

  • Last night's blogger reception with Mayoral candidate Ralph Becker was a roaring success. It was great to meet all the fantastic local bloggers and discover that they are as smart and funny in real life as they are online. My only regret was that I couldn't have arrived on time and gotten a chance to chat with folks more. The bus system is what made me late to the event, but luckily we brought up transportation issues up with Min. Leader Becker and he seemed to agree.

    I think many were encouraged by Ralph's responses to our questions and suggestions and he did himself a great service by engaging the blogosphere in a constructive fashion. Better to have a friend than an enemy. I just wish other candidates would do the same. Again, I am still undecided, but must admit that he impressed me last night

  • Atrios (Duncan Black) has labeled Democratic strategist Bob Shrum as a "wanker of the day" for admitting what we already knew: that he convinced Edwards to vote for the war. Digby points out that Kerry too was talked into voting for the war by the same breed of perennially losing DC Democratic strategists. Digby and Atrios let the blame fall of the beltway boys rather than the Senators turned presidential candidates (and running mates). This to me makes no sense. When one votes for a candidate for president and vice-president, you are doing so on your assessment of their judgment (as well as stances on the issues).

    Both Kerry and Edwards (as well as Clinton, Dodd, and Biden) voted for the Iraq war out of purely political reasons--their fear of seeming weak on national defense. Kerry in particular was afraid to vote against the war given that he had voted against the 1991 Gulf war, which was a mistake. So instead, he was wrong both times. If these Senators made wrong but politically expedient at the time votes in 2002, what confidence should I have as a voter that they will make the tough calls in the Oval Office? Sure the DC pundits have horrible advice, but the Senators running in 2004 (and in 2008) didn't have to listen to them. If you will recall, Edwards and Kerry were fighting over who got to have Shrum as their advisor.

    As much as I think Bob Shrum and Democracy Corps should be blacklisted for consulting, the onus falls on those who sought out and took their advice: the candidates.

  • The coverage of the Trolley Square shooting as finally come up with an interesting angle: the shooter's girlfriend:
    On the night of Feb. 11, Talovic talked to his girlfriend, Monika, for hours on the phone. '' 'Something is going to happen tomorrow that you'll never be able to forgive me about,' '' the 17-year-old remembers Talovic saying. ''He said it was supposed to be the happiest day of his life and that it could only happen once in a lifetime.''
    Monika pressed for details. "It involves everyone and everything," he said, except for her - he loved her too much. "I would never in the world want something like that to happen to you."
    Two days later, Talovic killed five people wounded five more critically, and was killed by the police. Talovic and his girlfriend had another thing in common (besides ethnicity): trouble at school...
    Both had dropped out of school, Talovic from Horizonte High School in Salt Lake City, Monika from Cap Rock High School in Amarillo. She is now being home schooled and expects to receive her diploma in November.
    My conjecture that the war caused some of this still holds water:
    Talovic was about 5 years old in the early 1990s, when Serbian forces overran Talovici.
    Monika said Talovic described hiding in the woods over a period of three years, lying face down in the dirt to avoid watching as Serbs decapitated countrymen nearby. He told Monika of seeing people shot in the head or stomach. He did witness killings, his aunt said.
    Talovic recalled his hunger pains, surviving on wild mushrooms and droplets of water that collected on leaves, Monika said.
    "He was mad because when he didn't have a place of their own, they had to live in the forest. He used to be mad when he was a little kid, but said he got over that," she said.
    Talovic once spoke of a clinic in their village where the wounded and dead were taken, Smajlovic said. He "remembered there was a little ambulance there," Smajlovic said. The aunt recalls hiding with the Talovic family in the woods. Eventually, the family left, walking hundreds of miles toward a free zone in Tuzla. On the way, they slept on the floor of schoolhouses without blankets. Talovic's grandfather was fatally shot. An infant brother and sister died.
    "They didn't have food, they didn't have shelter, it was every man for his own," said Smajlovic. "It was horrible. They spent their time looking for food, a piece of bread. There was no time to talk about anything nice."

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