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Roger Simon
Roger Simon
9 Feb 2016
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27 Jan 2016
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In politics, it is the small things that count. In Iowa politics, it is the tiny things that count. For all … Read More.

March Madness: Fun Here, Death Abroad


It is a warm and pleasant Sunday, and my Twitter stream is full of March Madness, the selection of 68 college basketball teams for the NCAA tournament.

Other media are awash and aflame with it also, and soon Barack Obama's official website will publish its own brackets, inviting citizens to match their expertise against the president's.

On Tuesday, the president and British Prime Minister David Cameron, in America on a state visit, will travel to Dayton, Ohio, to attend a first-round game between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky. Both world leaders will be interviewed at halftime.

My Twitter feed scrolls. Spirits rise and fall as the brackets are announced. And then I see a small, virtually buried item and click on the link that it contains.

In Afghanistan, another type of March madness has occurred.

A U.S. Army sergeant, a family man with two children of his own, has methodically gone from house to house in a rural south Afghan village and allegedly massacred 16 unarmed civilians, including nine children, four of them younger than 6. He then set fire to their bodies.

The sergeant, The New York Times would inform us on Monday with unintended irony, had been assigned to "what is called a village stabilization operation."

I think we can consider that at least 16 people in that village are now permanently "stabilized."

After the shootings, President Obama is immediately briefed and issues a statement of apology. He then talks to the president of Afghanistan from the back seat of the White House limousine. Obama is on the way to a basketball game in which his daughter, Sasha, is playing. The White House releases a picture of Obama on the phone in the limo's backseat, looking serious and concerned.

After the call concludes, the official White House pool report makes clear, Obama continues to the game.

One wonders what they make of all this in Afghanistan. The United States has been in that country for 10 years. After quite correctly going there to destroy the al-Qaida terrorist operation that carried out the 9/11 attacks from that country, the United States has lingered.

According to an ABC report from back in December 2009: "As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama's description Tuesday of the al-Qaida 'cancer' in that country left out one key fact: U.S.

intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al-Qaida fighters in the entire country."

But we remain. Obama has announced we will finally leave at the end of 2014, though the pace and scope of our withdrawal may be affected by facts on the ground.

Meanwhile, 2012 has already proved a horrendous year.

Last month, American soldiers burned copies of the Quran — "inadvertently," we say — which led to attacks by Afghan soldiers that killed six U.S. soldiers. (Afghan soldiers and U.S. soldiers are supposed to be allies, just in case you were wondering.)

Now a U.S. staff sergeant based at Lewis-McChord, Wash., with 11 years in the military and three tours of duty in Iraq, has allegedly killed16 unarmed men, women and children.

The White House press briefing on Monday began with a presentation about fighting high gasoline prices, and then Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, opened things up for general questions.

Did he have any statement to make about the shootings in Afghanistan? he was asked.

"No," Carney replied.

A reporter then asked if "killing children in their sleep" would affect American thinking about staying in Afghanistan.

No, Carney replied. "The president's policy is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and stabilize Afghanistan so Afghan security forces can stabilize their country," he said.

ABC's Jake Tapper asked if the United States had reached its "sell by" date in Afghanistan.

"We've been there a long time," Carney said and then seemed to deflate slightly. "Incidents like this do not make it any easier, no question. This is a challenging time, there is no question. Our goal is not to stay any longer than we have to."

Carney was then asked whether President Obama would continue with his plan to attend the NCAA tournament on Tuesday considering the terrible events in Afghanistan.

"His schedule has not changed," Carney said. "March Madness is just getting started. Many of us around this country enjoy this. March Madness is a wonderful tradition in American sport and culture."

Message: Life is good. For those who get to live it.

To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



4 Comments | Post Comment
Now that this guy is finally off his GOP primary rant, this article is pretty good. I always enjoy a good anti-war article, and with the exeption of Pat Buchannan, I have to come over to the liberal side to read them.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:14 AM
Isn't this odd... you left out that those books were already defaced by prisoners so burning them was the right thing to do, and the guy that flipped out was just that... He Snapped. I wonder how many tours of duty it would take most of us to lose it after? When a postal worker does it, or a high school kid does it we say how sad, I wonder what happened to that boy to make him snap, but here the libs use it for their purpose and leave out the important details. Remember our Army Captain who was a muslim who snapped and starting shooting up a room on base? We make all kinds of excuses for him too. You don't see Americans acting like animals in the street and burning flags, builidng and books do you? Not speaking of the "books" being defaced, only adds to the firestorm. Those who leave out those kind of facts are equally at fault and wear the added aftermath blood on their hands. If you are going to tell a story, tell the whole story. Not telling the WHOLE truth is basically nothing more than being dishonest and lying. Didn't your mother teach you that? As for Obama playing anything.. well my God, he's in office for 4 years, and hopefully not 8, gets out before 54 at the long end and has the REST OF HIS LIFE to be on VAY KAY, but has spent the past four years doing just that. The man doesn't work! He's making up for some sad childhood of being an outcast and now wants to be the popular kid. GO TO WORK BARRY. If I were him I would be the first in the office and the last to leave. The country is in crisis and he's pretending to play golf, basketball and sing. WTFudgie??? Enough of this fool! Please let the Alinksy wet dream & our nightmare be over!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Lindz Sangalli
Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:15 AM
Life is good for vacationaing first ladies and bracketing Presidents, not so hot if you are a young patriot sent off to fight foreign wars. Great if you are a candidate and only have to face silly questions about providing BC to 30 year old law students, rotten if you've made three tours and have to go back again. Swell if your a pundit protecting the status quo by bashing any potential nominee for 4 weeks, hard if the suicide bomber pulls up next to your 25 year old uniformed body.

Carney shouldn't have to answer the qustions posed to him at that press briefing, President Obama should be asked those questions in a public forum. Carney isn't in charge, Obama is. Carney is like those soldier, he takes the hit while Obama studies bracketology. Tell us again why OTHERS are unfit to be President.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Tom
Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:30 AM
Re: Lindz Sangalli
Give me a break, I heard the same thing about Bush hiding out in Crawford and chopping weeds, and disappearing to Camp David. Do you thing any of these guys really have a day off? Ever? The paprazzi is on their case, everything they do is a photo op and they are on the phone and web 24/7. Or at least Cheney was, then he told Bush what he was going to do about everything.....I don't think Bush really understood any of it. but ...................
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:40 PM
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