Tag Archives: Libya

Nation Building and the Public School Dropout Crisis

I wonder why the news media pays so much attention to the regime change that the USA is sponsoring in Libya while virtually ignoring the real threat to our nation’s future: the dropout crisis in our public schools and what a lack of education and job opportunity means to a generation of young people.

Maybe it’s time for some nation building in the USA. I can’t take credit for that notion — or saying — but I can’t find now the original source. But as public schools begin to open throughout the country, consider these facts as reported by America’s Promise Alliance:

One in four public school children drop out before they finish high school. That’s 1.3 million students a year – one every 26 seconds, 7,000 every school day.

And as bad as those numbers are, the situation has actually been improving somewhat. Here’s from a November 2010 article in Time, “Dropout Rate Dropping, but Don’t Celebrate Yet“:

High school graduation rates are one of education’s perennial bad-news stories. How bad? In 2008, there were 1,746 “dropout factories,” high schools that graduate fewer than 60% of their students. But according to a new report released on Tuesday, there is finally some good news to talk about. First, the national graduation rate inched up from 72% in 2001 to 75% in 2008. There were 261 fewer dropout factories in 2008 than in 2002. And during that six-year period, 29 states improved their graduation rates, with two of them — Wisconsin and Vermont — reaching almost a 90% rate.

But don’t call in the cast of Glee just yet. According to the report, by Johns Hopkins University, along with two education-oriented groups, America’s Promise Alliance and Civic Enterprises, eight states had graduation rates below 70% in 2008, and 2.2 million students still attend dropout factories. An achievement gap also persists: only 64% of Hispanic students and 62% of African Americans graduated in 2008, while 81% of white students did. (See the top 10 college dropouts.)

These shortfalls carry enormous costs for students as well as for taxpayers. In today’s economy, dropouts have few options, a poor quality of life and almost no economic mobility. In 2009, the average person with a college degree earned about $1,015 a week, while the average high school dropout earned just $454. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is 5.2% for those with a college degree and 14.6% for dropouts. The Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., estimates that dropouts each year cost the nation more than $300 billion in lost income.

OK.  The dropout crisis. That’s one side of the issue. How about those who do graduate and move on to college? How well prepared are they? Here’s from an Akron Beacon Journal editorial, “Remediation 101“:

Something is seriously wrong when one third or more of incoming freshmen need to take remedial classes in English or math before they can proceed with their regular college courses. The growing need for remediation (an astounding 62 percent of first-year students at Youngstown State in 2009-10) underscores once more fundamental weaknesses in the state’s educational system.

The percentage of freshmen under age 20 who need remedial classes has risen three percentage points, to 39 percent, in five years. For older students, many of whom take on college work after years out of school years, the figure is a disheartening 46 percent. As reported Sunday by Carol Biliczsky, a Beacon Journal staff writer, for Ohio, the cost of bringing marginal students up to speed in 2007-08 was $189 million. A state pushing to stay competitive by increasing the percentage of college-educated citizens can hardly afford the inefficiency and wastefulness such figures represent.

Without question, much of the blame resides with the uneven quality of secondary education and a curriculum not closely aligned with the material and standard of performance expected in college.

It is expensive, financially and in time spent, when high schools fail to provide the necessary academic preparation, passing on the responsibility to colleges and universities. Taxpayers end up subsidizing not only secondary education but also a do-over in college at much higher cost. Students lacking basic math and language skills often do not graduate, or they take longer than four years to earn a diploma. Either way, they rack up large debts along the way.

The rub in all this, of course, is that employers are demanding a more educated workforce to compete in what in many ways is now a global knowledge-based economy.

Here’s from John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises, opining on The Huffington Post, “America’s Job Surplus and the College Completion Crisis“:

How can it be that today, in the midst of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression and millions of Americans seeking work, that 53 percent of employers — and 67 percent of small business employers that create most new jobs — find it difficult to find qualified workers? How can a workforce desperate for new jobs appear so helpless amid so many businesses desperate to hire?

The answers to those questions lie at the heart of a new divide that has developed within the American economy. Over the last several decades, a chasm has emerged to divide the skills of the nation’s workforce, as they exist, and the demands of the nation’s job market. Today, America has only 45 million workers who have the training and skills to fill 97 million jobs that require some post-secondary education. U.S. companies have to choose among importing skilled workers, outsourcing jobs, or relocating operations in markets overseas with a rising supply of skilled and affordable workers. At the same time, the nation has more than 100 million candidates for only 61 million low-skill, low-wage positions. If America wants to remain competitive, we will have to expand our supply of high- and middle-skill workers.

Ah, good to see Mad Dog moving toward retirement in Libya. But if we are interested in nation building that really matters to the USA, we should start here with our schools and with a generation of young people who really are being left behind.

 

 

Mad Dog and Really Mad Men

Well, it looks as though Mad Dog Qaddafi is about to join the ranks of the unemployed, or enter the chapter eternal, as they like to say in the college frat biz. And from what I could tell from TV reports while chasing the treadmill belt early this a.m., he went out with more of a whimper than a bang.

Wonder if he had already made his reservation for an extended stay at the Caracas Holiday Inn?

In any event, let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed that the new leaders in Libya really do have some commitments to political and personal freedom.  We’ll see.

Next in the high stakes game of international regime change?

Bashar al-Assad, come on down.

Let’s hope that he decides to go with a whimper rather than with a bang. Syria appears to have some military muscle that might make things a little more dicey in that country if and when fundraisers for the Arab Spring come knocking on the palace door.

And talking about really mad men, what’s up with the shootings and brawls at the San Francisco-Oakland football game over the weekend? Good grief. It’s just football — and a preseason game at that.

Here’s from the NYT, “In California, a Second Episode of Fan Violence“:

For the second time in less than five months, officials in California are investigating a violent event involving sports fans, after two people were shot Saturday in the parking lot of Candlestick Park in San Francisco following a professional football game.

The shootings occurred after a National Football League preseason game in which the 49ers defeated the Raiders, 17-3. A 24-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries and another man in his 20s was hospitalized with less serious wounds, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

Details of the shootings and names of the victims have not been released by the police.

The shootings follow a confrontation at a baseball game in March when a San Francisco Giants fan was severely beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after opening day. Two Los Angeles Dodgers fans have been charged.

Experts say that fan violence — especially postgame, perhaps aggravated by alcohol — can play out in parking lots and out of the view of stadium security, sometimes to deadly effect.

“There is a culture of aggression and masculinity that permeates out onto the fans,” said William Wiener, a sports psychologist in private practice in Manhattan.

“Having a conflict and not backing down seems more appropriate in this environment for some,” he said. “It becomes an outlet for their life’s aggression.”

This type of mayhem is commonplace at soccer matches throughout the world. Do we really want to see that happen in this country?

Folks, c’mon. Get a grip. It’s American football, a game being played by well-paid mercenaries employed by corporations that get tax breaks way beyond anything available to other businesses.

And as we’ve seen during this Arab Spring, there are plenty of people willing to put their life at risk for what they believe in — but I can guarantee that a sporting event is not worth taking a belly full of lead or possibly dying in a parking lot for.

Just sayin’.

 

Nation Building and Royal Weddings

Is it just me, or does Mad Dog Gadhafi suffer from a major league PR problem? I can’t fully understand why we have joined forces with a group of rebels — most likely al Qaeda in training — in Libya to overthrow Mad Dog while Bashar al-Assad is getting a free pass to shock and awe the citizens of Syria.

And do we care more about these exercises in nation building — or the royal wedding?

Maybe the different takes on Libya and Syria have everything to do with image. Here’s from the NYT:

For years, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has nourished a reputation as a youthful and forward-looking leader in a region full of aging autocrats, a man who might yet reform the repressive police state he inherited from his father, given time and opportunity.

His country’s worsening crisis — a bloody battle between the police and protesters that is being closely watched around the world — would seem to be a chance to stave off the violence with restraint or even bold reforms, a path his father never took. But as the death toll mounts, and the ominous disappearances of dissident figures increase, his time appears to be running out. International pressure is growing, and so is the outrage his violent crackdown has inspired.

Mr. Assad could still succeed in quelling the unrest, diplomats and analysts say. But to do so he would have to realize the hopes once placed in him when he inherited power from his father 11 years ago and confront his own family, which controls Syria’s thuggish security apparatus and appears to be pushing hard for a continued crackdown. At least 120 people have been killed since Friday, the bloodiest day of the five-week-old uprising.

In the past day or two, mixed signals have emerged about which path he will take. On the one hand, Mr. Assad has hinted at a willingness to enact greater reforms than those announced last week, when he officially lifted Syria’s draconian emergency powers law. But there have been dark warnings of harsher repression as well. In Syria’s notoriously opaque political environment, it is impossible to tell which way the president is leaning.

“This is the moment of truth for Bashar al-Assad,” said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a visiting professor at Columbia University who has written extensively on Syria. “He has potentially the ability to impose reforms on his own Baath Party, but has he the will to do so?”

The consequences of his decision could be momentous, perhaps more so than in any of the other revolts yet seen in the Middle East. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Syria is home to a checkerboard of defensive religious and ethnic minorities, and many fear that the end of the Assad family’s 40-year dynasty could unleash brutal revenge killings and struggles for power. The chaos could easily spill over Syria’s borders, to neighboring Lebanon and beyond.

Uh. Enlightened despot on the one hand. Mad Dog on the other. Hmm. And looks like we could be stepping into some deep doo-doo in Syria. Better to try to slip Mad Dog a poison turbin.

Maybe the editorial writers at the Washington Post can add some perspective in “Shameful U.S. inaction on Syria’s massacres“:

FOR THE PAST five weeks, growing numbers of Syrians have been gathering in cities and towns across the country to demand political freedom — and the security forces of dictator Bashar al-Assad have been responding by opening fire on them. According to Syrian human rights groups, more than 220 people had been killed by Friday. And Friday may have been the worst day yet: According to Western news organizations, which mostly have had to gather information from outside the country, at least 75 people were gunned down in places that included the suburbs of Damascus, the city of Homs and a village near the southern town of Daraa, where the protests began.

Massacres on this scale usually prompt a strong response from Western democracies, as they should. Ambassadors are withdrawn; resolutions are introduced at the U.N. Security Council; international investigations are mounted and sanctions applied. In Syria’s case, none of this has happened. The Obama administration has denounced the violence — a presidential statement called Friday’s acts of repression “outrageous” — but otherwise remained passive. Even the ambassador it dispatched to Damascus during a congressional recess last year remains on post.

The administration has sat on its hands despite the fact that the Assad regime is one of the most implacable U.S. adversaries in the Middle East. It is Iran’s closest ally; it supplies Iranian weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip for use against Israel. Since 2003 it has helped thousands of jihadists from across the Arab world travel to Iraq to attack American soldiers. It sought to build a secret nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea and destabilized the pro-Western government of neighboring Lebanon by sponsoring a series of assassinations.

Like people across the Middle East, the protesters in Syria say that they are seeking the establishment of a democratic system. A statement issued by organizers of the protests Friday called for an end to torture and killings by security forces; the release of all political prisoners; an investigation into the deaths of those killed so far; and reform of the constitution, including a limit on presidential terms. The mass demonstrations on Good Friday were called to show that the cause is neither Islamic nor sectarian.

Yet the Obama administration has effectively sided with the regime against the protesters. Rather than repudiate Mr. Assad and take tangible steps to weaken his regime, it has proposed, with increasing implausibility, that his government “implement meaningful reforms,” as the president’s latest statement put it. As The Post’s Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson reported Friday, the administration, which made the “engagement” of Syria a key part of its Middle East policy, still clings to the belief that Mr. Assad could be part of a Middle East peace process; and it would rather not trade “a known quantity in Assad for an unknown future.”

I don’t know. It seems to this pajama-clad citizen journalist that we are either for supporting freedom — or at least the hope of freedom — in the Middle East, or we ain’t. And if we are, then Prez O is going to have to step up and provide some leadership. Otherwise, our foreign policy is like a tennis ball heading back and forth over the net with no point ever being gained.

Anyway, I did my own public opinion and interest poll on all of this early this a.m. when I was chasing the belt on the treadmill and watching the bank of TVs that display seven or eight stations.

Every time something came on about our nation building debacles — yes, even including Afghanistan where the Taliban apparently dug a tunnel under the check points of NATO guards who were as watchful as a gaggle of air traffic controllers and sprung 450 some prisoners — I switched the channel to catch news of the really important story: the wedding this Friday of Kate and William.

Hey, let’s face it. Kate and William appear to be a charming young couple who have a shot at saving the  crown jewels and everything else of the British monocracy. Image matters. And something tells me that Gadhafi, Assad and Hamid Karzai could get together to play Texas hold ‘em on Friday in broad daylight on a street in Jerusalem and nobody would pay any attention.

So much for nation building — at least for this week.

By the way, Kiran Chetry, the host of American Morning on CNN, is in London all week for the nuptals. She is hot — and not a bad reader of the news, either. I guess she didn’t succeed on Fox News because she isn’t blond. Go figure.

And late breaking: It appears that Jimmy Carter is heading to North Korea for a three-day visit this week.

Let’s hope we’re not at war there until after the royal wedding.

Just sayin’.

The Obama Doctrine: Bam, Zap and Pow

I kinda liked the way the Prez made the case last night for the express delivery of Tomahawk missiles to Mad Dog’s doorstep in Libya. He was animated, engaged, kept on message — and he didn’t interrupt Dancing With the Stars.

So in Libya — and in other nations in the Mideast and elsewhere — I guess it’s game on. Wonder when we’ll see the first bumper sticker: Make love, not limited, kinetic military operations. Oops. I digress.

Anyway, plenty of commentary on what the Prez said — or didn’t say — available today online and via dead tree media, but here’s an interesting perspective from Roger Simon in Politico, “Obama’s BAM! ZAP! and POW!

It was “Mission Accomplished” but without the banner.

In a strong, almost pugnacious, speech Monday night, President Barack Obama said he had achieved his initial goals in Libya. “So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do,” he said.

Slashing the air with his left hand, he used language that was not only robust, but martial: “We struck regime forces….We hit Gaddafi’s troops….We targeted tanks.”

BAM! ZAP! POW!

Obama admitted that he militarily intervened in Libya even though America was not at any risk. “There will be times…when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are,” he said.

And that is why we are fighting in Libya. Our interest is to have a stable world and our values are to promote democracy and to prevent a “massacre” in Libya and “violence on a horrific scale.”

“We must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed against one’s own citizens; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people,” Obama said.

Hard to sit back while someone like Gadhafi (does anyone know for sure how to spell Mad Dog’s name?) attacks and kills his own people to retain power. I guess in the area of democracy — and values — it’s hard for the USA to be just a little bit pregnant these days.

Still, I wonder how the French and others will feel about a no-fly zone over countries like, let’s say, China, Iran (remember Neda?) and North Korea?

BAM! ZAP! and POW!

Libya: Here We Go Again

Well, to paraphrase Dutch Reagan: “Here we go again.” Are we going to take Mad Dog Gadhafi out? Or let him stay if he once again promises to behave himself? Hey, sounds like the start of a country song. And who’s in charge? Looks like the NATO alliance has crumbled faster than my NCAA brackets.

Here’s what got me fretting about all this early this a.m. It’s an AP story on NPR: “U.S. Likely To Keep Combat Role After Libya Shift.”

The United States welcomed a partial handover for the Libyan air campaign to NATO, but the allies apparently balked at assuming full control and the U.S. military was left in charge of the brunt of combat.

NATO agreed on Thursday to take over command of the newly established no-fly zone over Libya, protective flights meant to deter Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi from putting warplanes in the air. That leaves the U.S. with responsibility for attacks on Gadhafi’s ground forces and other targets, which are the toughest and most controversial portion of the operation.

Oh boy. That sounds like shoe leather on sand — and plenty of it.

OK. I’ll admit it. I need help sorting all this out. So let’s see what Charles Krauthammer has to say as he opines in WaPo, “Obama and Libya: The professor’s war.”

President Obama is proud of how he put together the Libyan operation. A model of international cooperation. All the necessary paperwork. Arab League backing. A Security Council resolution. (Everything but a resolution from the Congress of the United States, a minor inconvenience for a citizen of the world.) It’s war as designed by an Ivy League professor.

True, it took three weeks to put this together, during which time Moammar Gaddafi went from besieged, delusional (remember those youthful protesters on “hallucinogenic pills”) thug losing support by the hour — to resurgent tyrant who marshaled his forces, marched them to the gates of Benghazi and had the U.S. director of national intelligence predicting that “the regime will prevail.”

But what is military initiative and opportunity compared with paper?

Well, let’s see how that paper multilateralism is doing. The Arab League is already reversing itself, criticizing the use of force it had just authorized. Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, is shocked — shocked! — to find that people are being killed by allied airstrikes. This reaction was dubbed mystifying by one commentator, apparently born yesterday and thus unaware that the Arab League has forever been a collection of cynical, warring, unreliable dictatorships of ever-shifting loyalties. A British soccer mob has more unity and moral purpose. Yet Obama deemed it a great diplomatic success that the league deigned to permit others to fight and die to save fellow Arabs for whom 19 of 21 Arab states have yet to lift a finger.

And what about that brilliant U.N. resolution?

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is already calling the Libya operation a medieval crusade.

China is calling for a cease-fire in place — which would completely undermine the allied effort by leaving Gaddafi in power, his people at his mercy and the country partitioned and condemned to ongoing civil war.

Brazil joined China in that call for a cease-fire. This just hours after Obama ended his fawning two-day Brazil visit. Another triumph of presidential personal diplomacy.

And how about NATO? Let’s see. As of this writing, Britain wanted the operation to be led by NATO. France adamantly disagreed, citing Arab sensibilities. Germany wanted no part of anything, going so far as to pull four of its ships from NATO command in the Mediterranean. Italy hinted it might deny the allies the use of its air bases if NATO can’t get its act together. France and Germany walked out of a NATO meeting on Monday, while Norway had planes in Crete ready to go but refused to let them fly until it had some idea who the hell is running the operation. And Turkey, whose prime minister four months ago proudly accepted the Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, has been particularly resistant to the Libya operation from the beginning.

And as for the United States, who knows what American policy is. Administration officials insist we are not trying to bring down Gaddafi, even as the president insists that he must go. Although on Tuesday Obama did add “unless he changes his approach.” Approach, mind you.

Well, Chuck provides some excellent perspective, as usual. But he may be giving the Prez a little too much credit for planning all this. My understanding is like any good professor Obama was on spring break, after noodling over his NCAA picks.

Let’s see if Maureen Dowd can give some behind-the-scene insights in her NYT Op-Ed, “Fight of the Valkyries.”

They are called the Amazon Warriors, the Lady Hawks, the Valkyries, the Durgas.

There is something positively mythological about a group of strong women swooping down to shake the president out of his delicate sensibilities and show him the way to war. And there is something positively predictable about guys in the White House pushing back against that story line for fear it makes the president look henpecked.

It is not yet clear if the Valkyries will get the credit or the blame on Libya. But everyone is fascinated with the gender flip: the reluctant men — the generals, the secretary of defense, top male White House national security advisers — outmuscled by the fierce women around President Obama urging him to man up against the crazy Qaddafi.

How odd to see the diplomats as hawks and the military as doves.

“The girls took on the guys,” The Times’s White House reporter, Helene Cooper, said on “Meet the Press.”

Rush Limbaugh mocked the president and his club of “male liberals,” saying: “Of course the males were opposed. It’s the new castrati. … They’re sissies!”

Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador and former Clinton administration adviser on Africa, was haunted by Rwanda. Samantha Power, a national security aide who wrote an award-winning book about genocide, was thinking of Bosnia. Gayle Smith, another senior national security aide, was an adviser to President Clinton on Africa after the Rwandan massacre. Hillary Clinton, a skeptic at first, paid attention to the other women (putting aside that tense moment during the ’08 primaries when Power called her “a monster”). She also may have had some pillow talk with Bill, whose regrets about Rwanda no doubt helped shape his recommendation for a no-fly zone over Libya.

How odd to see Rush and Samantha Power on the same side.

Oh well. Here we go again.

Libya: Another Long War?

Wow. Talk about March Madness. One week Prez O was dithering about Libya while making his NCAA picks and the next Hillary has a coalition of the able and willing dropping bombs like three-pointers on Mad Dog Gaddafi and associates.

OK. I’ll admit to having some reservations about this latest military adventure — consider Afghanistan and Iraq before sending nasty emails — although I agree that something had to be done to prevent the massacre of civilians.

And I’m hopeful that this won’t become another American war where we commit ground troops to go on a search for the light at the end of some tunnel that never ends. Let’s face it. In just about every military action these days, the French head home following Happy Hour. Just sayin.’

Saying all that, it seems to me that the Prez should be taking some time to explain what is going on in Libya — the Middle East in general — and how we are going to get the hell out of this mess.

Here’s Richard Cohen opining in WaPo, “Mixed Signals from Obama and the Middle East.

The Middle East is a mess and a muddle, all of it happening at pretty close to warp speed. The search for a Unified Theory of What Is Happening is futile. Bahrain is our pal; Libya is not. Saudi Arabia has all that oil; Egypt doesn’t. Iran is our enemy and its enemies must be our friends. The scorpion that lethally stings the frog that’s transporting it across the Suez Canal is not a metaphor for the Middle East but a virtual position paper. Look: The Arab League’s Amr Moussa — its departing secretary general — called for a no-fly zone and then, appalled at the violence of this military strike, expressed second thoughts. Moussa has the countenance of a Las Vegas blackjack dealer, a rare manifestation of form following function.

Still, the Obama administration has applied incoherence to confusion. It is an odd, dangerous, mix. A day into the operation, the bedraggled chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, appeared everywhere but on Animal Planet to say that the operation he himself clearly did not favor might end with the man the president said he wanted gone — a certain Col. Gaddafi — still in power. “That’s certainly, potentially, one outcome,” Mullen said on “Meet the Press.”

And the editors of the New York Times have some tepid reservations as well. Here’s from this morning’s editorial, “At War in Libya.”

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has long been a thug and a murderer who has never paid for his many crimes, including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The United Nations Security Council resolution authorized member nations to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and was perhaps the only hope of stopping him from slaughtering thousands more.

The resolution was an extraordinary moment in recent history. The United Nations, the United States and the Europeans dithered for an agonizingly long time and then — with the rebels’ last redoubt, Benghazi, about to fall — acted with astonishing speed to endorse a robust mandate that goes far beyond a simple no-fly zone. More extraordinary was that the call to action was led by France and Britain and invited by the Arab League.

And:

There is much to concern us. President Obama correctly agreed to deploy American forces only when persuaded that other nations would share the responsibility and the cost of enforcing international law. The United States is already bogged down in two wars. It can’t be seen as intervening unilaterally in another Muslim nation. But even with multinational support, it should not have to shoulder the brunt of this conflict.

Not exactly a commentary or opinion that will stir the masses to action. Looks like the NYT editors are going to drive down the middle of the road on this one — unless a truck comes barreling the other way.

So let’s see what George Will has to say on what is certainly one of the big fish in the skillet here — “Is it America’s duty to intervene wherever regime change is necessary?

The missile strikes that inaugurated America’s latest attempt at regime change were launched 29 days before the 50th anniversary of another such — the Bay of Pigs of April 17, 1961. Then the hubris of American planners was proportional to their ignorance of everything relevant, from Cuban sentiment to Cuba’s geography. The fiasco was a singularly feckless investment of American power.

Does practice make perfect? In today’s episode, America has intervened in a civil war in a tribal society, the dynamics of which America does not understand. And America is supporting one faction, the nature of which it does not know. “We are standing with the people of Libya,” says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, evidently confident that “the” people are a harmonious unit. Many in the media call Moammar Gaddafi’s opponents “freedom fighters,” and perhaps they are, but no one calling them that really knows how the insurgents regard one another, or understand freedom, or if freedom, however understood, is their priority.

But, then, knowing is rarely required in the regime-change business. The Weekly Standard, a magazine for regime-change enthusiasts, serenely says: “The Libyan state is a one-man operation. Eliminate that man and the whole edifice may come tumbling down.” And then good things must sprout? The late Donald Westlake gave one of his comic novels the mordant title “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” People who do not find that darkly funny should not make foreign policy.

So we’ll see. Another foreign policy of shock and awe potentially to be replaced by hope and pray.

But I am standing behind Prez O on one thing no matter what.

We’ve both got Kansas at the top of the NCAA totem pole.