The Saudis

Saudi Student Was Mess Tent Suicide Bomber,” Scotsman.com Online News, http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3954118, 3 January 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

Another terrorist attack, another Saudi behind it.

Saudi Arabia has created a nightmarish society. Czarist Russia, without the culture, history, or tradition.

We are friends to Muslims, and enemies to salafist terrorists. We are friends of the Iraqi people, and enemies of the Ba’athi remnants. We are friends of the Afghan people, and enemies of the Taliban remnants. We are friends of Russia, and our interests lie in the oppressed Shia people of the oil-rich Saudi east.

Iran is our natural friend in this. While the Saudis cause no end of trouble and practice crucifiction, the Islamic Republic is about as democratic as AD 1904 Britain. Embracing Iran would be a tactical coup. Continuing to embrace the Saudis is a monumental disaster.

Land of Liberty

The Way We Live Now: What Color is Montana?,” by Kurt Markus, New York Times Magazine, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/02/magazine/02WWLN.html, 2 January 2005 (from South Dakota Politics).

A peon to Montana, and the freedom of States

There are two kinds of voters, the formula said: the easygoing coffeehouse artistes who dwell on the coasts and in small parts of the North, and the uptight white-chapel patriots who live in the South, the middle and the West (or, as geographers put it, ”almost everywhere”).

Because of its location relative to the Mississippi River and because it voted overwhelmingly for President Bush, my home state, Montana, was colored red and tossed on a pile with Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and all those other cattle lands where men are still men, legend has it, and women let them be, leading to rigid behavior in the voting booth. Democrats? Hate ’em. Environmental laws? Them spotted owls are mighty tasty. Firearms? Handy for shooting them spotted owls. Gay marriage? Don’t know; I’ll have to ask my preacher. Ah, those predictable red Westerners. They’re either standing and saluting, kneeling and praying or lying down and breeding.

But sitting and puffing weed? It didn’t quite fit — which might have been partly why unruly Montana (which until a few years ago had no daytime speed limit and still permits motorists to drink while driving as long as they’re not intoxicated) blurred the national political color code by legalizing medical marijuana at the same time it backed the Republican president. As for the other questions put before them, Montanans didn’t just split their ballots; they shredded them. They elected their first Democratic governor in 16 years, upheld a prohibition on toxic mining practices, broke the Republicans’ hold on the state Legislature but also amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Long Live Montana!