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Thought for the Week

During my time in the camps, I had got to know the enemies of the human race quite well: they respect the big fist and nothing else; the harder you slug them, the safer you will be.
--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Liar of the Week

Gosh, there were so many to choose from. But in the end, it has to be someone on the White House team. In this case, Condi Rice:

The fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al Qaeda ... or we could take a bolder approach.
How do I know she's lying? First, because whenever anyone says 'the fact of the matter' (or even: 'to be perfectly honest') he/she is about to lie. Second, because this explanation for the invasion of Iraq gives the Bush team a character trait it is not known for: subtlety.

One little problem: These are not chess players. They are 350-pound nose tackles.

Still, in this case, it's a lot better to lie, I guess, than to tell the truth. That would just encourage the terrorists.

This Week in Iraq

Coalition casualties have now reached 2,175. The Administration predicts a long war, even if Iraq chooses a 'democratic' government. So we may yet--it'll take years and years, but it is possible--top the 58,000 lives we squandered in Vietnam.

Knowing what's ahead, I feel so bad for every parent who has to bite his or her tongue as a beloved child enlists.

Tales of the Reconstruction

Longtime Swami reader Patti Racz went to Louisiana to help out. She met amazing people. From her dispatch:

The most memorable was an inmate of the Louisiana State prison system. Prior to the arrival of any real help, this shelter was operated by a group of prison trustees and the deputy sheriffs who guarded them. These men, apparently, worked countless hours and performed the Herculean task of keeping the few hundred evacuees safe and as comfortable as possible. They carried water from the endless puddles and newly formed streams to allow toilets to flush, kept the area as clean and manageable as possible, cooked and served the meager food supplies and provided personal care to the bedridden. There were multiple opportunities for them to run, to blend in with the thousands of wanderers. Yet they stayed the course, continued to care for those with overwhelming needs and refusing the option of freedom.

This particular inmate, whose name I never did learn, sat outside and smoked a cigarette with me after he finished buffing and waxing a hallway floor. He told me the story of his incarceration; he had served less than a third of his sentence with more than a decade to go. Tears formed and spilled down his cheeks as he spoke. "I thought I was tough. I lost my heart in that prison, I had to, it was the only way I could survive that hell. I was so sure it died inside of me. And, then, being here, ma'am, I found out that I surely ain't dead. Nobody dead could hurt this bad. These folks here, they suffered so much makes my life seem not so bad. This storm, ma'am, it was God's way of giving me back my heart."

There was talk that the deputies would speak for these men, hoping to negotiate early releases. I knew of a program at home that would sponsor him. His eyes lit up for a moment. But, then, he would not share his personal information with me, "they be watching us, Ma'am, I won't be doing nothin' to get us both into trouble. Just keep me in your prayers and I be prayin' for you." I never saw this man again.The Greenhouses in Gaza: Who's Telling The Truth?

A dear friend who passionately loves Israel sent a disturbing piece by Si Frumkin, a columnist for the Jewish Observer of Los Angeles.

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