Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Stuff

A few things that got my attention lately:

The Washington Post served up this great interactive package on the struggle to defeat so-called IED's (improvised explosive devices) in Iraq. Don't miss one part of the package, the transcript of this online chat with the author.

The New Statesman, a British paper founded almost a century ago as a socialist organ by George Bernard Shaw and some Fabian compatriots, does a nice job of keeping track of all the journalists who inexplicably continue to die in Vladimir Putin's Russia. Well, perhaps it's not so inexplicable after all. I'm just glad the paper is keeping watch, so that we can too.

Okay, enough about such heavy life and death issues. Now onto the subject of my gluttony. I didn't know until reading this Free Times review last week that one of my favorite restaurants--Lemon Grass, a yummy Thai place on Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights--is under new ownership. According to the article, they're doing what new owners always tend to do, tinker with some new ideas. But I haven't noticed. I'm just glad they haven't messed with my favorite dishes, the Siam Rolls appetizer and the House Fried Rice entree. Just writing about them makes me hungry.

I rarely find joke websites worthwhile, and ignore most invitations to visit them. But I must admit that this site did make me chuckle a bit. But be warned: it won't pass muster with the PC police, so if you follow the link and find it offensive, don't blame me. Blame your own curiosity.

Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and his book publisher are probably doing cartwheels this morning. His fine book on the Founding Fathers' balance between religious tolerance and faith was mentioned in both today's lead editorial in the Times and on the page next to it, in columnist David Brooks' column (how nice to be able to link to it now that it's no longer stuck behind a paid-only wall). Both were prompted by Mitt Romney's recent speech, in which he attempted to take up the issue of his Mormon faith. Last year, I reviewed the book in question, Meacham's American Gospel, for the Christian Science Monitor.

Finally, Cleveland native Drew Carey, whom I gather is a political conservative, is starring in a new web-TV series for Reason TV, which is affiliated with Reason magazine, the bible of the Libertarian movement (although it's an independent magazine that's quite separate from the party, and generally quite good). The magazine should improve further under its new editor, Matt Welch. Four years ago, I enthused about Welch's writing, pointing to this great piece in the Columbia Journalism Review about the emergence of new online citizen journalists. Matt will no doubt build on the quality first instilled by former Reason editor Virginia Postrel, whose unfortunate bout with cancer I recently mentioned. She subsequently dropped me a nice email note. Okay, folks, go finish the work week in style--at least those of you who follow traditional work weeks.


At 8:19 PM, Blogger Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

John your blog is fabulous and I loved that you featured the Rick Atkinson chat. These issues are always so complicated; I don't know how you feel about this (and yes I wish we were not in Iraq), but back when we first, seemingly all of a sudden, brought so many of our troops home after the initial attacks in Iraq, I thought it was the wrong move. Now that I read all this it brings up the issue of how much real manpower is needed to get something done, and if we had not trimmed our forces, would the situation be a bit different now? I'm not sure but it's food for thought.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Like you, Carole, and probably like most Americans, I'm torn on this. We never should have been there to begin with, and went under false pretenses. But then we compounded the problem by not going in with enough troops to win decisively, plus we disastrously disbanded the Iraqi army (probably our single biggest mistake), which left a lot of disaffected, suddenly unemployed, armed and trained enemies ready to do us harm. Which they've been doing for about four years now.

While the latest "surge" of troops seems to have pacified things a bit at the moment, the reality is that we don't really have the troop strength to sustain this for much longer. Absent a new draft, which isn't going to happen, our armed forces are starved of enough bodies to keep this up. And in any case, it's going to drain the treasury as we move close to a total price tag of $1 trillion for this misadventure, which has now taken longer than World War II. It's just unbelievable to me as I write these facts that our "leaders" could inflict this kind of damage on their own country. And to what end? None that I can discern.


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