Friday, January 05, 2007

If innocent people were hurt


The US Navy is fighting the Islamists in Somalia. Did I miss the national debate over whether entering another civil war was a good idea?

During a joint press conference with Egyptian President Mubarak, Israeli PM Olmert almost kinda sorta apologizes for the deaths of four or more Palestinian civilians during a military raid on Ramallah. No, wait, that’s not what he said: “I’m sorry if innocent people were hurt.” First, dead is not the same as hurt. Second, that’s a rather ungrammatical use of the conditional: by suggesting that the people who were hurt/killed might not have been innocent, he is saying that he either is or is not sorry at the present time. Possibly he alternates every minute between being sorry and not sorry, using an egg timer, until such time as their guilt or innocence is determined. Perhaps the correct phrasing would have been, “I would be sorry if innocent people were hurt,” but then again maybe no form of grammar adequately conveys an apology slash smear. Maybe that could be Lynne Truss’s next book: Eats, Shoots, Leaves, and Pretends to Apologize.

Olmert also says that “things developed in a way that could not have been predicted.” Yes, no one could have predicted that an Israeli military incursion of troops, tanks and attack helicopters into the West Bank could result in fatalities; normally they’re greeted as liberators, with flowers and dancing.

I mistook Commodore Bananarama’s return of some powers to the Fijian president he had deposed: the deal was that the president then swear in the commodore as prime minister.

Bush’s signing statement giving himself the power to open anyone’s mail without a warrant – “especially,” in the words of the statement, “if they contain free samples of gum, candy or other taste treats” – is not exactly a surprise, given his record. But almost more worrisome than Bush’s people reading our mail is the failure of anyone in Congress to read this statement, which was issued 15 days before anyone noticed.

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