A strange war, &c.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrives at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, March 9, 2013.


This is such a strange war, our war in Afghanistan. The way the Associated Press puts it is, Secretary Hagel is dealing with “the jarring difficulties of shutting down a war.” Shutting down? I guess winning is out of the question. How about losing?

The AP says, “An early supporter of the war while in the U.S. Senate, Hagel later became more disillusioned with the conflict, opposing the surge of troops sent to quell the escalating violence. More recently he has warned that Americans want the U.S. to get out of the war . . .”

Fair enough. But here is my question: If you were in Afghanistan today or tonight, wearing our uniform, how could you fight on, knowing that we were “shutting down” and knowing the mindset of the new SecDef? Why would you risk your neck? You just would, I guess.

Again, such a strange war. In 2004, the Democrats portrayed Afghanistan as the “good war,” unlike Iraq. They did it again in 2008. When did the good war turn bad? When Bush was no longer president, and the Democrats’ political needs changed?

Also, I wonder this: Did we “shut down” in Vietnam? Or just lose? In Iraq, it seems to me we did all right. Although even that is murked up . . .

This article says that President Obama has three goals for his upcoming trip to Israel. The first is to convince the Israelis that he is serious about Iran. The second is to get a better relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Wonderful. And the third goal? “Enticing Israel back to negotiations with the Palestinians.”

Obama sees the Middle East conflict way one, I see it another. In my view, it is the Palestinians who need the enticing — and Obama seems pretty disinclined to do it.

It can be depressing to talk to people about Israel, even very nice people. I talked to a very nice man at an event not long ago. If I understood him correctly, he believes that Israelis wander forth in the dark of night, gobbling up more and more “Palestinian” land. He believes that Ariel Sharon launched the Second Intifada. (There are many believers in this.) Sharon was responsible for the murder and mayhem, not those committing it. He must have wanted his own people maimed and dead.

Again, this was a very nice man I was talking to — a peach. What about people who are rotten? The madness or confusion regarding Israel is one of the most depressing topics I know.

Did you hear about the bra? I better spell out what I mean: As this article tells us, Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, was avidly on the take. A woman involved in fundraising “said she gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 as his personal cut of political donations, pulling cash from her bra during private meetings.”

Just like a television show. And can we say the fundraising lady had a padded bra?

I know a couple of things about Thomas Perez, who is to be our secretary of labor, apparently. Learned them from this news report. “He is expected to have solid support from organized labor as well as the Hispanic community” — meaning La Raza, MALDEF, and all them, I guess.

Great, just great. What the American people did on Election Day had huge consequences, in endless spheres.

I spotted a headline: “Sen. Carl Levin’s decision opens seat in 2014.” Should I go home to Michigan to run? Or should the Republicans lose more conventionally, and maybe less entertainingly?

I don’t know why I’m waxing (and whining) defeatist. Michigan’s current governor is a Republican. Both houses of the legislature are in Republican hands. And a majority of U.S. House members from Michigan are Republican. It’s a veritable “red” state!

Years ago, I heard Jack Germond say something on television: “Levin always looks easy.” But you could never beat him. He was elected to the Senate in 1978. Not only was Carter in the White House — the top songs that year were from Saturday Night Fever.