I just stumbled across this today, but I think it's beautiful.
I finally got a copy of Tahmima Anam's new book, A Golden Age, a novel that takes place during the 1971 liberation war. Thanks to the modern miracle that is the Internet, I was able to find an online book dealer in New Jersey who could get me a copy of the British print (the American print doesn't come out until next year - go figure). I was terribly excited when the novel arrived, and suffice it to say, it surpassed my already high expectations.
At just under 300 pages, Anam's Golden Age is a quick read. In fact, I think I could have easily inhaled the entire thing in one afternoon. As it was, I read it on the subway to and from work over the course of three days.
Golden Age is the story of Rehana Haque, a middle class Dhakaite widow who has struggled all her life to provide for her children, Sohail and Maya. Above all, Rehana wants what all mothers want - for her children to be safe and happy.
Sohail and Maya grow into young adulthood along with their country. As Sheikh Mujib is arrested and Gen. Zia declares independence, the liberation war threatens the stability of the Haque family. Rehana faces a choice between what's best for her children and what's best for her country. Or is there a difference?
The character development in this novel is exceptional, and the imagery at times both stark and touchingly beautiful. I closed the book hungry for more, and missing my newly found friends.
I started reading Glenn Greenwald's column about Jon Yoo's utter contempt for intellectual honesty, but it was too depressing to think about.
So, I watched a music video that I like.
Because I still have that luxury.
Last night the Mrs. and I stepped out for a bit of culture. The Capital Fringe Festival is upon us, and we picked up tickets for a play, Tom Murphy's The Drunkard.
The Drunkard was not what we expected. The production was well done, and all of the acting was good. I particularly enjoyed the performances of Jonathon Church (the villain), and Steven Hoochuk (the crusading philanthropist).
That said, I did not particularly enjoy the play. The Drunkard struck me as little more than a banal temperance play. The only thing to take from the play is that drinking is bad. I half expected to be abused with religious tracts after the final curtain. And clocking in at 135 minutes, it got tiresome quick.
The great irony, of course, is that this temperance play nearly drove me to drink.
Making up for the disappointing play, I returned home to find that my copy of Tahmima Anam's novel about the 1971 liberation war, A Golden Age, had finally arrived. Sadly, I was exhausted from so much preaching, and had to wait until this morning's commute to crack it open. Full report to come.
The Washington Post reports today that the White House has ordered the Department of Justice not to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against any present or former White House officials.
Sen. Schumer (D-NY) said the Bush administration is "hastening a constitutional crisis," but I contend that we've long since entered a constitutional crisis in this country, and the Congress is failing to do anything about it.
Rep. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the new Bush administration order "makes a mockery of the ideal that no one is above the law." Have we already forgotten Scooter Libby? Guantanamo Bay? Secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe?
This administration (and, more importantly, the political movement behind it) more than any has clearly established that we are no longer a nation of laws. The administration is not hasting a Constitutional crisis. We are in the midst of a Constitutional crisis.
Also little reported this week was a new Executive Order from the White House that would allow the government to seize the assets of anyone who opposes the administration's Iraq plans.
Those targeted by this EO are persons who "have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of...undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq..."
Of course, we are assured that this EO is only going to be used against terrorists, but then again so was extraordinary rendition, torture, and Abu Gharaib, and we see how well that's worked out.
Furthermore, let's not forget that modern anti-terrorist laws have been used to prosecute such "violent acts" as vandalism and political protests.
I was reminded this morning of sitting through a speech by Alan Dershowitz a few years ago. Dershowitz made the argument that intrusions into our liberties are not important if we don't notice them. After all, he said, it's not being free that's important, it's the feeling of being free. I disagree.
And don't think this is a partisan battle. I have Republican friends who bristle at this sort of power grab, and Democratic friends who don't see any problem. Joe Lieberman, after all, would still be a Democrat had the primary voters not elected someone else.
The current administration has surely stepped up efforts to increase the power of the state at the expense of the rights of the individual. But things are still being done in an incremental way. How many people will never be aware of new Executive Orders, new Supreme Court precedents, new powers of the state to kidnap and torture innocent people?
And, regardless of who wins the White House in 2008, can we really expect them to give up all the power that Bush has consolidated into the Executive Branch? Who is the leader so honest that he will turn down the crown? Where have you gone, George Washington?
When the Soviet Union disappeared people into gulags, we reacted with disgust. When our own government does it, we ease our consciences with another latte and a trip to the mall. When we find ourselves in fetters, it will be we who have fashioned the chains.
Rick Renzi, the Republican incumbent in AZ-01 managed to keep his seat in 2006 following a vicious campaign against his Democratic challenger, Ellen Simon. Renzi, as you know, was a key player in the U.S. Attorney firings stemming from DOJ investigations into shady land deals orchestrated by the Congressman.
Desperate to keep his seat, Renzi ran slanderous ads against Simon calling her a "NAMBLA lawyer" (which she is not) and at one point calling her "the devil." Ellen Simon bowed out of the 2008 race, leaving the field open to a new Democratic challenger. But nobody's really stepped up.
Today, Arizona Congress Watch points us to the money numbers for AZ-01 and it looks like nobody is running - not even Renzi. Renzi, the incumbent, has barely $20,000 cash on hand. And according to the Arizona Republic, the NRCC won't even confirm that he's running. So, why does Renzi lead the money field by almost $16,000? The Dem with the most money right now is Mike Caccioppoli, and he's reporting under $5,000 cash on hand.
This isn't even a case of the Democrats not fielding a candidate against a strong incumbent. This appears to be a case of the Democrats not even bother to field a candidate in an open race. That's just crazy. AZ-01 is not only a winnable seat. Ellen Simon won 44 percent of the vote - just 7 percent behind Renzi. A year later, Renzi is all but out of the race, and the field is fertile for a Democrat to come in and lay roots for a winning campaign. But, instead, the Democrats appear to be taking a pass.
NRCC spokeswoman Julie Shutley said the Republicans "are confident that this seat will remain in the red column." And I can see why. The Democrats are handing it to them on a platter.
Minus-2 takes on new life as Sk. Hasina has been arrested and detained without bail.
Hasina was directly produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka at about 7:45am.
After hearing, first class magistrate Kamrunnahar rejected her bail prayer and sent her to jail in connection with an extortion case.
This comes just after the caretaker government announced its comprehensive plan for holding the next election in 2008.
Salam Dhaka has more
আপনি কেমন আছেন? আমার নাম সে্ত। আমি বাংলা লিকতে পারি।
This is curious. On my computer at home, the vowel symbols are in the correct place, but on my computer at the office, they are not. This really bugs me as now half the words don't make any sense. Any ideas on what causes this and how to fix it?
Memo to Rudy Giuliani's web team:
Please take the time to delete the carriage returns out of the copy that you're cutting and pasting into your email blast engine.
That said, I'm proud of you for making all the fonts the same this time.
I opened my latest direct mail from Barack Obama a couple of days ago and was struck by a few things.
First, I'm tired of all the "movement" talk. I attended a fundraiser for Obama in Austin, Texas during his 2004 campaign for Senate and was quite taken with the guy. He's charming and a charismatic speaker, but over the past few years I can't say that he's particularly stood out as the messiah figure that some of his more ardent supporters seem to be selling. In fact, the first thing that the letter brought to mind was the Living Colour song "Cult of Personality," which made me a bit resentful.
Second, there's an anecdote meant to bolster the undeniable claim that Obama is getting a massive amount of grassroots financial support. The anecdote is about a poor immigrant who can barely afford food or rent, yet managed to donate $25 to the Obama camp. The poor immigrant, according to the letter, earned just $900 a week.
Okay, granted if the guy is supporting a family of four in New York City, $47,000 isn't a lot of money. But I just have a hard time thinking of someone making $47,000 as indigent, and I suspect a lot of people would agree.
Third, there's Obama's talk about not accepting any money from PACs and lobbyists. Wow, I thought, a national political campaign doing $30 million a quarter with not PAC money? That's impressive.
But, Ben Smith echoed my suspicions on his Politico blog today. There may be a little bit of lawering on this claim. Now, just because someone works for the health care industry doesn't mean they're a lobbyist, and in this I think Ben is trying to spin gold out of straw.
But what about the $95,000 in PAC and committee money that Obama took in the 2006 cycle? What's that cash doing? Is it all spent? To Obama's credit, it looks like he's been returning PAC money that's been coming in this election cycle (though the FEC database does show a $2000 donation from the COOPERATIVE OF AMERICAN PHYSICIANS - MUTUAL PROTECTION TRUST (CAP-MPT) FEDERAL PAC. Presumably it will be, or has been, returned.)
I don't mean to say that Obama's grassroots fundraising hasn't been phenomenally impressive. I just don't want to see his camp shoot themselves in the foot by playing fast and loose with claims of financial purity that are easily called into doubt by basic opposition research.
Obama's not the only one with an interesting money story, though. The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire had this interesting bit this morning:
And on Sunday, McCain’s second-quarter financial report is expected to show a debt of about $1.8 million, including $750,000 that the campaign had withheld from a Web company in which lobbyist and campaign Chief Executive Rick Davis has a financial interest.
This brings me to the question nobody seems to be asking - Where the hell did all of McCain's money go!?!
This may be a glimpse into the answer - $750,000 bill for Web services suggests that McCain's been getting fleeced. I mean, have you noticed his online game? $750,000? Really?
I understand that his fundraising is in the toilet, but he had something like $20 million at one point. It's all gone, and what does he have to show for it? Answer: crappy advice from campaign consultants trying to make him into something he isn't.
Sheesh. You'd think he was a Democrat running that kind of campaign.
This is terrible. New Age is reporting that the Bangladesh government has cut off the education stipends for 75,000 schoolgirls in 19 upazilas.
The minimum eligibility criteria for the stipend are 75 per cent class attendance, at least 45 per cent marks in all the examinations and the state of being unmarried.
Under the projects launched in 1994, secondary female students, who meet the criteria, have received the stipends, allowance to buy textbooks and examinations fees.
A female student of Class VI receives Tk 25 a month and a student of Class X receives Tk 60, in addition to an additional sum to buy books and to pay fees of the final examinations.
As the recipients do not pay any tuition fees, the government pays a small sum to the teachers against the number of stipend beneficiaries in the institution.
This type of program is vital to economic progress in Bangladesh. Without these programs, tens of thousands of girls will not be able to attend school or obtain their SSC or HSC.
Expanding educational opportunities have clearly demonstrated to be a necessary part of economic growth. By cutting off this stipend money, Bangladesh is not only hurting these girls, it's hurting itself.
When Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana confessed to "a very serious sin" on Monday night, Debra Jean Palfrey was not about to forgive him. Sin is one thing; but Palfrey believes Vitter — a proponent of the "sanctity of marriage" — should fess up if that sin was a crime as well. After all, she notes, prostitution is a legal offense for both purveyor and consumer. And as the so-called "D.C. Madam" whose escort service Vitter says he used, Palfrey says the agency she ran was merely one-half of the alleged equation. "Why am I the only person being prosecuted?" she told TIME over the phone. "Sen. Vitter should be prosecuted [if he broke the law]"
I was thinking about writing a long drawn out post about Bush's signing statements, executive privilege, and other abuses of power. But, lucky for you all, it's been an exhausting day of dealing with one crisis after another. I'll just let Keith Morris speak for me.
President Bush this morning invoked executive privilege to tell a former employee that she is not allowed to testify before Congress whether she wants to or not.
Let we think this is anything other than intimidating a witness
Taylor’s lawyer sent a letter over the weekend to senators pleading that she not be used as "as the object of an unseemly tug of war" between the White House and Congress. Taylor "would testify without hesitation" if it weren’t for a direction from the White House to not comply with the Senate subpoena, according to the letter. Her lawyer, W. Neil Eggleston, adds, "we urge the Senate to direct its sanction against the White House, not against a former staffer."
One Law for Them, Another One for Us Redux
Q Scott, is Scooter Libby getting more than equal justice under the law? Is he getting special treatment?
MR. STANZEL: Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law."
- July 5, 2007 White House Press Briefing
The Daily Star reports that BNP leaders are discussing some pretty important reforms not only to the party, but to the political culture in general.
Suggesting a ban on political programmes like hartal and road blockade in their new proposals is under active consideration of the pro-reform leaders, according to sources close to them.
"We are also thinking of a proposal for reducing the tenure of government to four years," one leader said. Proposals may also be made for making parliament effective so that lawmakers can play their proper role, he added.
Pro-reform leaders have already finalised some changes in their reform proposals including those concerning the term of party secretary general, and presidents and secretaries of district units of the party to ensure intra-party democracy.
BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan will announce within a couple of days changes in the reform proposals, and fresh proposals about politics and national institutions like parliament, party sources said.
Meanwhile, Mannan Bhuiyan visited BNP leader and former finance minister Saifur Rahman at his Gulshan residence last night and discussed the overall reform proposals with him.
"Some changes are being made in the proposals for reforms that we have announced earlier solely for the party," Bhuiyan told reporters yesterday at his Gulshan residence.
"Now, we also want to say something about overall politics as well as the country," he said, adding they will announce soon some proposals regarding this.
These are all good ideas for reforms. I hope the AL and the political class in general embrace them.
Politico's blog reports today that
The House Judiciary Committee, upset over President Bush's decision to grant clemency to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, will hold a hearing on July 11 to examine presidential clemency power, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the panel's chairman, announced on Tuesday afternoon. No witness list has been released yet.
While I'd be surprised if this was on the agenda, here's a question, why does the president have the power to grant clemency anyway? It's an invitation to abuse and, while some deserving people may have benefited posthumously over the past few decades, that hardly makes up for all the Nixons, Weinbergers, Richs, and Libbys.
Paul Begala nails it:
Tough enough to execute Karla Fay Tucker -- and then laugh about it. Tough enough to sign a death warrant for a man whose lawyer slept through the trial -- and then snicker when asked about it in a debate. Even tough enough to execute a great-grandmother who murdered her husband -- after he abused her. A friend of mine at the time asked Bush to commute her sentence, telling him, "Betty Lou ain't a threat to no one she ain't married to." No dice.
Mr. Bush is tough enough to invade a country that was no risk to America, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths and shedding precious American blood in the process. Tough enough to sanction torture. Tough enough to order an American citizen arrested and held without trial.
But if you're rich and right-wing and Republican, George is a real softie. As George W. Bush demonstrated in giving Scooter Libby a Get Out of Jail Free Card, he is only compassionate to conservatives.
Paul Wolfowitz, after failing at the Department of Defense and tarnishing the reputation of the World Bank, is settling in at his new job, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank. One suspects he will fit right in.
In other news, I suppose we now know what President Bush meant when he said, "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."