Year: 2015

That shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist, Sandy Hook, and the “profoundly unpatriotic effort to put war over every other policy priority”

Seven years ago yesterday, this happened.

Muntadhar Al-Zaidi paid a steep price for his act of defiance, but apparently thought it was worth being…

… beaten with cables and pipes and tortured with electricity immediately after guards removed him from a news conference for hurling both shoes at Bush. He said he was taken into another room and beaten even as the news conference continued.

However, he remained defiant about the incident that landed him in prison.

“I got my chance, and I didn’t miss it,” he said.

“I am not a hero, and I admit that,” he added. “I am a person with a stance. I saw my country burning.”


Yesterday was another anniversary, marking three years since the Sandy Hook massacre. The occasion has produced an abundance of hyperbolic hysterical reactions, but no concrete solutions to the gun violence crisis. In fact, the specific horrorshow of December 14, 2013, has been replicated numerous times in the past three years.

Here is a map of school shootings since Sandy Hook.

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And according to NBC News, 554 children under the age of 12 have died from gunshot wounds since Sandy Hook.


Of all the retrospectives and think-pieces marking the Sandy Hook anniversary, I thought Marcy Wheeler’s was the most compelling. In it, she synthesizes our (well, my) numbness over two ongoing catastrophes, the epidemic of gun violence in this country, and our government’s damn-the-torpedoes exportation of ultra-violence to the rest of the planet, otherwise known as the Global War on (a very narrow definition of) Terror.

The occasion of Wheeler’s post was to comment on president Obama’s remarks in reaction to the San Bernadino shootings of two weeks ago. I want to quote what I thought was the best part of it, and encourage you to read the entire piece.

The right wingers who insist on calling any attack by a Muslim “terrorism” — who insist on tying the San Bernardino attack to ISIS, even in the absence of evidence — do it to prioritize the fight against Islamic terrorists over all the other ills facing America: over other gun violence, over climate change, over the persistent economic struggles of most Americans. Theirs is a profoundly unpatriotic effort to put war over every other policy priority, even far more pressing ones. That stance has led to a disinvestment in America, with real consequences for everyone not getting rich off of arms sales.

Last week, President Obama capitulated to these forces, giving a speech designed to give the attack in San Bernardino precedence over all the other mass killings of late, to give its 14 dead victims more importance over all the other dead victims. Most strikingly, Obama called attacks that aren’t, legally, terrorism, something his critics have long been demanding.

It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009; in Chattanooga earlier this year; and now in San Bernardino.

And he lectured Muslims to reject any interpretation of Islam that is “incompatible” with “religious tolerance.”

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

Not only does this give too little credit for the condemnation Muslims have long voiced against terrorist attacks, but it holds Muslims to a standard Obama doesn’t demand from Christians spewing intolerance.

It was a horrible speech. But this line struck me.

I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.

In context, it was about terrorism.

I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.

Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it.

But, particularly coming as it did after invoking dead children, it shouldn’t have been. Aside from those whose own kids narrowly missed being in Paris, why should we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris, rather than in the faces of the young people killed in the Umpqua Community College attack or the over 60 people under the age of 25 shot in Chicago between the Paris attack and Obama’s speech? If we were to think of a cancer with no immediate cure, why wouldn’t we be thinking of the 20 6-year olds killed in Newtown?

We have a cancer, but it’s not terrorism.

Wheeler goes on to compare and contrast Obama’s speech to Jimmy Carter’s 1979 Crisis of Confidence (“malaise”) speech. Again I encourage you to take the time to read the entire piece.

Scenes from country life: Drop dead heifer

A photo posted by Tim Ungs (@timungs) on

One of my heifers had been panting and frothing and isolating herself for a couple days. My neighbor Albert and I got her in the pen  and dosed her with Nufluor Tuesday, but Wednesday she looked much worse, so we loaded her on the trailer and ran her to the vet right before closing. The assistant immediately saw she was choking on something, probably a hedge apple stuck in the esophagus. The vet ran the equivalent of a plumber’s snake down her and seemed pretty satisfied that he had pushed the hedge apple through.

“Those hedge apples are a bad deal, especially October and November,” the assistant said.

“Maybe I should pick ’em all up and get them out of my pastures?” I asked.

He and Albert laughed. “Let me know how that goes….”

The vet kept at it with the snake for quite a while, then forced some electrolytes down in another tube. A few doses of antibiotics. She should be fine, as long as there were no perforations in the esophagus. Barring that, or a secondary pneumonia, she should be better by tomorrow. She still looked to be in bad shape, but I was feeling pretty optimistic when we ran her off the trailer.

A photo posted by Tim Ungs (@timungs) on

At dusk I went to check on her and she was panting more heavily than ever. She staggered unsteadily to the woven wire fence, leaned there for a few seconds, then tumbled over sideways, shuddered, and died on the spot! In my past experience with bovines passing from this world, the process has always been a slow, unbearable (for me) struggle, so this was a surprise. The  heifer laid down and stopped panting, and that was it. I peeled back an eyelid: that massive glassy cow eyeball staring back at nothing.

I texted my other neighbor Dave (“well damn that heifer fell over and died right in front of me”). He was out with his tractor so he volunteered to come and drag the heifer in front of the gate so the dead truck could winch her up and cart her off.

I sat on an old bush hog in the dark waiting for Dave, along with two cats: Marshmallow, an older orange tabby male, and a new kitten (as yet unnamed) who had forced herself into our family a few weeks back, with great persistence and overwhelming cuteness. Marshmallow hates the kitten and hisses at her whenever she approaches, but the kitten, being a kitten. doesn’t take it personally and tries to play with him anyway. Both were purring like cicadas. I made a note to sit outside in the dark with the cats more often.

The heifer was in a sort of awkward spot but we got a chain around her neck and Dave dragged her out backwards. The bright amber lights, the roaring engine, and the backup beeping made his John Deere seem like some cheap sci-fi monster. Dave and I chatted for a bit. He was feeling overwhelmed as usual–“I’m movin’ hay and got those stumps ground and drowned that skunk [wait, what skunk?!], and … I’ve just got too much to do. My nerves can’t take it.” As always, though, he made a point of saying, “I don’t care to help you out when I can.” (In Kentucky this means he doesn’t mind. That one took me a while.)

While we spoke, the kitten was circling and sniffing at the great fallen beast.


This is not the first time I’ve written about dying bovines and the dead truck. Here is “Waiting for the Dead Truck” from a few years back.


lilahorsehhphone2My daughter Lila, who turns 11 next month, has been taking riding lessons for two years. A few weeks back, I was sitting in the car, half reading a back issue of Harper’s, and half watching Lila’s lesson. She seemed to be doing a lot of galloping. I got out of the car, thinking I’d get a picture of her breezing past, but then realized something was wrong.

Not that you’d have noticed listening to Mary, Lila’s teacher. She maintained her authoritative teacher voice–emphatic, carefully enunciated–but her instructions were along the line of “grab the mane and pull” and “tell her whoa.” Around the ring Lila went twice more at full gallop, and I heard her start whimpering about her stirrups. I started feeling sick. Her posture was getting worse and worse. Things were happening very quickly, and yet I remember this in slow motion: she started sliding off center in the saddle, then rotated a little more to the right, then quickly down the horse’s side, and off. A thud, the sand flying. But she landed clear.

Mary and I got to Lila at about the same time. She had banged her head pretty hard. We stood her up and brushed her off and checked her pupils.

lilawallOnce satisfied that Lila wasn’t badly hurt, Mary was immediately back in teacher mode, explaining what had happened. The girls had been doing no-stirrup work, which they often do. Lila had begun to tire and started trying to get her feet back into the stirrups. In a frightening loop, she was pressing tighter and tighter with her legs, which told her horse, Contessa, a young rescued thoroughbred, to go faster. Contessa started to canter, then gallop. Mary estimated horse and rider had raced eight times around the ring. Poor Lila was hanging on for dear life, but her thighs gripping the horse only made it go faster.

Contessa ambled back to Lila and gave her a nuzzle. Mary then gave Lila a leg up, and she finished the lesson.

I spent a lot of time in the following week beating myself up: what the hell kind of parenting is this?!

The other day, Lila had locked herself in her room for an entire afternoon. When she emerged, she proudly invited us in to see her wall of equine wisdom. The deployment of duct tape reassured me that she was indeed my departed dad’s granddaughter, and the sentiment of the epigram at the top spoke for itself.


Mutiny, I promise you

The New Pornographers clip I’m sharing because, duh, the title, and also because it features an early Kristin Schaal sighting, which should be a good enough reason by itself.

Sharing the second clip, from The Fall and Rise Reginald Perrin, again, and it probably won’t be the last time. The wordplay is hilarious, even if you don’t think it’s a brilliant distillation of paranoid reactionary thinking.

No question, this week has belonged to #piggate, as it should. Not looking to spoil the fun, but I just want to point out a potentially major story being overshadowed by all the Schadenfreude and memes.

The emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as a potential prime minister has got some in the British military getting ready for when Jimmy’s balloon goes up.

A senior serving general has reportedly warned that a Jeremy Corbyn government could face “a mutiny” from the Army if it tried to downgrade them.

The unnamed general said members of the armed forces would begin directly and publicly challenging the labour leader if he tried to scrap Trident, pull out of Nato or announce “any plans to emasculate and shrink the size of the armed forces.”

He told the Sunday Times: “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security.

“There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”

It’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t happened before, and not too long ago.

This would be a good time for the Prime Minister to insist the general be identified, and sacked, but I have a feeling that’s the last thing on his mind.

A couple of good things to read about #piggate: Libby Watson’s Everything We Know About David Cameron (Allegedly) Putting His Dick In A Pig, By a Britisher and Lawrence Richards’s What the British are really laughing about.

For an extremely satisfying hate read, I recommend The Corbyn Supremacy, in which the New Yorker’s film critic does his best to leverage his Britishness, his only qualification for writing about UK politics, apparently.

Lane posted his snooty, supercilious and unfunny piece before #piggate broke. His contrasting Corbyn’s “callow upstart at the cottage door” with Cameron, “[t]he hale fellow who might have made his name, and a far larger fortune, in countless spheres of life” takes on many more layers of meaning, now that we all know a little more about how hale fellows get on in the world.

Back on the chain gang….

We here in central Kentucky somehow avoided being roasted during what was globally the hottest month ever recorded, in what may still turn out to be the hottest YEAR ever. Most of the summer here was wet and temperate, but we have reverted to the scorching mean the past few weeks.

I hadn’t planned to do so, but it turns out I took the summer off from blogging. My last offering was right around Memorial Day (and it was a recycled post at that….)

But you know, recycling is good.

As per I-d:

Did you know that 95% of binned clothes could have been re-worn or recycled, and recycling one T-shirt saves 2100 litres of water? Basically, you can help save the planet by not clogging up landfills and not squandering the natural resources used in fabric production.

Since then over 14,000 tonnes of old clothes have been collected globally, and now the Swedish brand has launched Close the Loop, a collection of 10 denim pieces made from the textiles recycled from the Garment Collecting initiative.

Look, I’m fully aware that big corporations are constantly trying to piggyback onto noble causes while continuing their unsustainable, avaricious, capitalistic ways, but … I can’t find anything to criticize in this campaign.

Plus, this video promoting the campaign is terrific:

That’s all I got this morning. It’s upbeat and positive, and goes against the summer’s trend of dispiriting news: climate change, mass shootings, and a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem, cheating at golf.

Hero Friday: Kesha, Connaughton and Hersh


I will probably have occasion in the future to ponder the Kesha 2.0 rollout, which just appears to have begun in earnest.  She has been through some rough times, going to lawyers with her erstwhile svengali Dr Luke, and battling an eating disorder. See, the thing about it is I think her music is really good, and I wish her the best.

I have to take a moment to talk about Pat Connaughton, who helped lead the men’s basketball team for Notre Dame (my alma mater) to dizzying heights, by that program’s modest standards. Having already signed to pitch for the Orioles, he insists on pursuing his dream of making an NBA team.

Yesterday, at the poke and prod session otherwise known as the NBA Draft Combine, he recorded a 44-inch vertical jump, the best of the year, and the best since Kenny Gregory in 2001. That was surprising (but not too surprising if you’ve watched him play for four years). What was a real shocker is that he has 10 percent body fat, one of the highest figures in the Combine. (I told you it was a poke and prod deal….). CBS Sports’ Sam Vecinie said Connaughton “might be the best pure athlete at the Combine” and the Vine of his leap sparked numerous twitter references a certain hoops movie starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.

And then there is Seymour Hersh, whose London Review of Books piece about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden caused a shitstorm of reaction, both pro and (mostly) con.

My small contribution to the kerfuffle: It seems to me to offer a textbook illustration of the snark/smarm dialectic described in Tom Scocca’s brilliant essay from 2013. It’s a meandering piece, in the best way, and hard to summarize.

[Drums fingers] OK you’re back and have read “On Smarm.” Excellent.

There is a lot of good stuff in that piece about David Denby and Dave Eggers and Joe Lieberman, but as it relate to Hersh I have in mind the passage where Scocca writes, regarding Edward Snowden:

Talk about something else, smarm says. Talk about anything else. This young man is in possession of secret official computer files that document the routine lawlessness and boundless intrusiveness of the American surveillance state. An unaccountable power is monitoring the entire global flow of information—which amounts, in contemporary practice, to monitoring thought itself. Illegally.

 Smarm says:

Edward Snowden broke the law.

Edward Snowden is a naif, who has already foolishly betrayed his nation’s most vital secrets.

Edward Snowden is an unstable, sensation-seeking narcissist.

Edward Snowden isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know.

Edward Snowden is a traitor.

So what if Snowden is telling the truth? Just look at the way he’s telling it.

I see a similar dynamic being played out by mainstream journalists with regard to Seymour Hersh.

Um, that interview in Slate with Isaac Chotiner…. Yowsa. He really doesn’t want to be there, and yet Hersh deflects and mocks his young inquisitor’s earnest (and dishonest, nay, smarmy) efforts to corner him into the same old traps (anonymous sources, the New Yorker rejected your story…) so many other “respectable” journalists have been trying to paint him into. It’s impossible to summarize the interview, so I will paste in a couple of representative chunks….

Hersh: I sent it approvingly because it crossed my desk and it does say there were walk-ins. [Laughs] You can read it any way you want. The White House has been very clever about this. They have gone after me personally. They don’t like me boo hoo hoo. But they have been very careful to hedge everything, they quote Peter Bergen. Bergen or Berger, is that his name?

Chotiner: Bergen.

Hersh: They quote him. He views himself as the trustee of all things Bin Laden.

Chotiner: I just want to talk to you about your piece and journalism.

Hersh: What difference does it make what the fuck I think about journalism? I don’t think much of the journalism that I see. If you think I write stories where it is all right to just be good enough, are you kidding? You think I have a cavalier attitude on throwing stuff out? Are you kidding? I am not cavalier about what I do for a living.

Chotiner: I don’t think you are cavalier. That was not my question.

Hersh: Whatever it is, it’s an impossible question. It’s almost like you are asking me to say that there are flaws in everybody. Yes. Do I acknowledge that not everybody can be perfect? But I am not backing off anything I said.


Hersh: So, all that happens is I tell [New Yorker editor David Remnick] about the story, and his initial approach was to say do a blog item. Go fuck yourself! A blog? I have done a couple blogs when it is 1,000 words but this is worth more. At that point it was very early. So I was on contract for a book and said fuck it … You want to make a lot out of it? David always says he welcomes another view. I am the guy who said fuck it, I will do what I want to do. [Editor’s note: Other news sources have reported that the New Yorker declined to publish a version of the story.] [Hersh picks up other phone]: Yeah. Yeah. Oh no, fuck no … I don’t want to do it there! Go fuck—

Hersh: You there?

Chotiner: Yes.

Hersh: Fucking TV interview sets up in the hall of my office building. It’s a lawyer’s building.

Chotiner: I was just asking—

Hersh: You want to write about this totally tedious shit? Yes, I am a huge pain in the ass. I am the one that decided to publish it wherever the hell I please. That’s the story. You want to listen to hall gossip about me? Go ahead. [Sarcastic voice] It is so immensely important to so many people to know where I published. I can’t believe it.


Anger is upsetting to smarm—real anger, not umbrage. But so is humor and confidence. Smarm, with its fixation on respect and respectability, has trouble handling it when the snarkers start clowning around.


Smarm in l’affaire Hersh is the “respectable” media saying “old Sy has finally gone off the rails….” It’s being intensely skeptical about the challenging narrative, isolating/attacking the messenger, and circling the wagons around the Obama/Schmindle/Zero Dark Thirty accounts, which are far more absurd and unlikely.

We know what we know about My Lai and Abu Ghraib and the CIA’s domestic spying because of Sy Hersh.

Until we can find out exactly what really happened in the bin Laden raid, which is probably never, because SECRETS, giving Hersh the benefit of the doubt seems the least we can do.

UPDATE: Trevor Timm’s The media’s reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful which I saw just now, is simply fantastic on the highly selective skepticism of the press.


Besides one piece by Huffington Post’s Ali Watkins, the press has barely made a peep about the fact that the CIA’s argument about bin Laden and torture—one that Hollywood made a movie about!—is a lie. Meanwhile, Slate ran five hit jobs on Hersh within 36 hours. Perhaps that’s why Hersh treated their reporter with contempt during this already-legendary interview.

We know that the administration made many assertions about the bin Laden raid in its aftermath that turned out to be false. The purported details, many given to reporters “anonymously,” were downright fantastical—yet reporters dutifully printed them just the same. We also know that the government ordered the photos of bin Laden’s body destroyed—possibly in violation of federal law—and, in an unprecedented move, had all information about the raid transferred to the CIA, where it can’t be accessed through Freedom of Information Act requests. John Kerry told reporters directly to “shut up and move on.” How Hersh himself deserves more scrutiny than these disturbing moves by the government is beyond comprehension.

Crepuscular études

Crepuscular. I love that word and always have to look it up.

A photo posted by Tim Ungs (@timungs) on

I posted this on Instagram yesterday, and it led to comments from friends as far afield as Minnesota, Brazil and Australia. Genevieve in St. Paul declared it “word of the day,” and Dan in Sao Paulo informed me that crepuscular is a common Portuguese word, which I didn’t know, but it makes sense. Saudade has no direct English translation either.

Then Ricky chipped in from Corrimal.

Personally, I’m quite fond of dawn and dusk, they have a bit of a mystic feel. The changing of the light is always interesting.

…I love the outline of the cow…. The filigree quality of the trees against the light is beautifully delicate, and the warm glow on the horizon sets the middle ground of the frame, but it’s the presence of of the animal and its lack of complete definition that brings it all back to earth.

I didn’t know I had done all that, but … yeah. I hadn’t wanted to explain the shot too much, Ricky’s interest in it led me to confess to what I was really after.

I was actually photographing that cow more that the entire scene. She just lost her calf yesterday morning. It’s been my experience that cows don’t quite get it when their calves die, especially when they get taken away (and the Dead Truck came around in record time, a mere 15 minutes after I had called). So typically the mama bellows for the calf for a couple of days. She comes up to me accusingly and bellows with special ferocity, as if to say “where’d you put my calf!??!”

Ricky: With my tendency to anthropomorphise, I couldn’t do what you do, Tim.

Me: Well, you harden over time I guess. Yesterday I took the opportunity to ship off two of my favorite old cows as well (they both had udder problems and couldn’t nurse their calves, and one had chronic hoof issues). They got onto the trailer like humans stepping onto a bus, and when we opened the gate, both trotted gamely into the heart of the cacophonous stockyard labyrinth.

I felt a bit of a pang, but turned and let ’em go.

When I told my daughter we had sold the big red cow with the horns, she was very upset with me.

“I had to sell her,” I told her. “You didn’t HAVE to,” she replied. Correctly.


A birthday, an unhappy Anniversary, and Back to the Future we go …

The divine Julie Christie came into this world 75 years ago today, which is something to ponder and/or celebrate. Here is an interview she did in 1967 for something called “Tonight, Let’s All Make Love in London”….

… and there’s this amazing clip from the other end of her career…

Let’s not forget that she has always been, and remains, a feisty activist lady.


Two other historical resonances to note for April 14, 2015. First, the unhappy anniversary: it’s been 150 years since John Wilkes Booth shot Abe Lincoln with a derringer (!) at a performance of “Our American Cousin.”

Second, it’s apparently also the target date for the Back to the Future Delorean time machine, so there’s that.

It’s a little early for me even to try to wrap my head around the awfulness of the coming (likely) Clinton v. Bush death march. Already I have Facebook acquaintances throwing down the gauntlet, daring anyone to question the inevitability of the Hillary express. I have yet to take the bait, but it’s, what, 18 months to go? Don’t know if I can hold out.

She does seem pretty fricking inevitable at this point, I will grant you that.

It’s true: There are definitely ways to restore popular control of federal elections that increasingly seem to have little or nothing to do with the popular will. Indefatigable antiwar activist David Swanson does a nice job in laying out all the things that have to be changed at the activist level:

Instead, we need to grab this moment in which two corrupt dynasties are vying for royal powers, to use every nonviolent tool available to work at the local, state, and federal levels for:

No private election spending.

Free media air time on our air waves for candidates qualified by signature gathering.

Public financing, ballot access, and debate access for candidates qualified by signature gathering.

No gerrymandering.

Hand-counted paper ballots publicly counted in every polling place.

Election day holiday.

Limited campaign season.

Automatic voter registration.

National popular vote with no electoral college.

Mandatory voting with an option for “none of the above.”

Yup. That’s all there is to it. Easy-peasy.


Middle East policy: Start fire, just add gas!


Juan Cole’s Tom Friedman & funding ISIL: Israel/Iran Derangement Syndrome is a pretty compelling read.

I don’t agree with everything Cole says, and haven’t forgotten his support for Obama’s non-Constitutional “kinetic action” in Libya, nor his “letter to the left.” His position was not short on nuance, but Libya is a disaster today, though surely it’s cheering for those who like their middle eastern nations in flames.

Thomas Friedman’s more-puzzling-than-usual column from midweek, in which he wondered aloud whether the West should be arming ISIL, led to more than a few hot takes asserting Friedman had lost it, and was floating that balloon out of ignorance and/or dementia. I beg to differ: I think he knew exactly what he was saying.

Between Obama’s pending rapprochement with Iran and the cooperation between US and allied militaries in bombing ISIL combatants (and countless more collateral persons of no interest), there lurks the possibility of peace breaking out in the Middle East. Well, OK, peace is not really in the works, but there remains the chance the U.S. will stall out on its accidental/on purpose mission to take down every proper country in the region that doesn’t kowtow to U.S./Israeli domination.


What accounts for [Friedman] being in this category of Daesh-supporters when he is not a conservative (in the American political sense of conservative)? It is his Zionism. For Israel, Daesh is just a manifestation of chaos and not threatening to Israel which has the best military in the Middle East. But for many Israelis and supporters of Israel, it is the big conventional rejectionist states and armies with their potential for nuclear weaponry that are the real danger. That is why Friedman supported Bush’s Iraq War, as well. Apparently, for this strain of Zionism, the Middle East has to be in flames and broken up by constant American military invasions and special ops covert actions and coups in order to keep Israel from having any peer militarily in the region. Daesh is just a set of gangs and aids in keeping Syria and Iraq in chaos, so from this point of view, it is a good thing and should be armed to cause more chaos.

It is a monstrous point of view that would come as a surprise to most Americans when put like this, but all Middle Easterners understand that it is exactly the kind of policy Israeli hawks pursue and urge the US to pursue.

Yesterday morning in the Post David Petraeus was not miles away from what Friedman was jokingly-but-not-really suggesting. Suddenly, the ISIL threat has been downgraded from Existential/Kill Them All to Maybe We Should Be Friends.

Watch the pundits go along with this 180-degree turn. Will the prospect of peace breaking out reclaim its rightful place as Public Enemy Number One? That’s been the safe bet for a while now.

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