Saturday, December 31, 2005

War Plan Red

Harry's Place on Peter Carlson's story in yesterday's Washington Post on US Plans to invade Canada. hasn't been secret for more than 30 years, but it did exist. It was approved by the War Department in 1930 and updated in 1934 and 1935.

War Plan Red was actually designed for a war with England. In the late 1920s, American military strategists developed plans for a war with Japan (code name Orange), Germany (Black), Mexico (Green) and England (Red). The Americans imagined a conflict between the United States (Blue) and England over international trade: "The war aim of RED in a war with BLUE is conceived to be the definite elimination of BLUE as an important economic and commercial rival."

Churchill's third speech to Parliment in 1901 was on the prospect of War with the United States resulting from the boundary dispute between British Guiana and Venezuela. War between the two countries wasn't unthinkable.
Evil would be the counsellors, dark would be the day when we embarked on that most foolish, futile, and fatal of all wars--a war with the United States. If such a fit of madness were to occur, he warned, both nations, having long enjoyed a glorious immunity from the curse of militarism, would be similarly placed, and no decisive events could be looked for until the war had been in progress for a year or two and enormous armies had been raised on both sides.

--page 45 of Martin Gilbert's Churchill and America

Seems far fetched today but America had huge German and Irish populations, hostile to Britian and not afraid to say so. There was evil counsel given and it was given right through 1941 from fellows like Lindbergh building on that widespread hostility.

He did not see the conflict as basically a war for democracy or morality. He was skeptical of the ideology and moral righteousness of the British and French.

Fits of madness have happened.

Mil Blogs

The BBC on Military Blogs via Norm.

The war in Vietnam is often referred to as the first war on television, and the wars in Afghanistan and now in Iraq will be known as the first wars to be blogged.

American Liberalism and Bebel's Socialism of the Fools

Kristol writing on The Paranoid Style In American Liberalism referencing Arelene Getz's Where's the Outrage essay linking Bush and the NSA taps with South African Hit Squads. Kristol describes Getz's paranoid logic (and you can read her for youself too) as,

First the Bush administration will listen in to international communications of a few hundred people in America who seem to have been in touch with terrorists abroad ...and next thing you know, government hit squads will be killing George W. Bush's political opponents.

What is one to say about these media--Democratic spokesmen for contemporary American liberalism? That they have embarrassed and discredited themselves. That they cannot be taken seriously as critics. It would be good to have a responsible opposition party in the United States today. It would be good to have a serious mainstream media. Too bad we have neither.
Bad enough we no longer have a responsible opposition. I've been linking the anti-semitic progressive leftist yesterday and Nick Cohen has it right,

But the liberal left has been corrupted by defeat and doesn't know much about anything these days.
... it has been maddened by the direction history has taken. Deracinated and demoralised, its partisans aren't thinking hard enough about where they came from or - and more pertinently - where they are going.

And they're going for Bebel's Socialism of the Fools.

Friday, December 30, 2005

the descendants of those who crucified Christ own the riches of the world.

More Leftist anti semitism via NormsBlog,

"The world offers riches to all. However, minorities such as the descendants of those who crucified Christ" have become "the owners of the riches of the world," Chavez said Dec. 24 on a visit to a rehabilitation center in the Venezuelan countryside.

A Liberal Lawyer at U of Chicago looks at Presidential Powers

For readers who think Bush should be impeached; Prof Sunstein at U of C's Law School on the President's Inherent Powers.
The Bush Administration has made strong claims about the "inherent" power of the President. These claims are not unprecedented, and they are rarely if ever preposterous; but they are nonetheless bold. Thus it has been argued that the President's inherent authority includes (1) the power to go to war without congressional authorization, (2) the power to engage in foreign surveillance, (3) the power to detain "enemy combatants," including Americans captured on American soil, without access to a lawyer or to hearings, and (4) the power to engage in coercive interrogation of enemies, even torture, when necessary.

One of the jobs of the Department of Justice is to protect the constitutional prerogatives of the President, and after 9/11, it is hardly surprising to find bold claims of this sort. My first goal here is to make some progress in understanding the legal issues by sketching the general framework under which they might be analyzed. My second goal is to suggest that it is often best to refuse to resolve issues of inherent authority, and to answer the legal question while leaving those issues undecided.
And the post keeps going with lots of comments afterwords... It will go for days and worth following.

The Anti War Online Journal: article written by an author awaiting the sound of Zionist jackboots and the inevitable knock on the door

Online Journal Dec 19, 2005,
The cult of the Jewish holocaust is fundamental to Germany's officially imposed state religion: legalistic, political Zionism, propagated daily in the mass media and reinforced by a legion of judicious bureaucrats and self-obsessed politicians. Whether Social Democrat or "Christian" Democrat, neo-Marxist or neo-liberal, the government of the day is dutifully trained to look first to Tel Aviv for its legitimacy. It is instructive to note that, at least once a year, the incumbent German president or chancellor must stand in front of the Knesset in Israel and, with quivering lower lip and a freshly peeled onion, throw his best Elizabeth Taylor act and read from the same worn script stapled together with exhausted and sometimes ludicrously inappropriate diplomatic cliches.

This perennial ritual is always embarrassing, obsequious and viciously humiliating to behold. Nonetheless, the German government at least acknowledges publicly that it is wealthy, globalist Israelis and their glove-puppets in the City of London who control Germany, not the German people. And those who control Germany control the dark, towering superstructure of the despised and hated European Union.

Online Journal: Jewish law and making a killing on Hurricane Katrina

The Progressive Online Journal Dec 2, 2005. I think the author here is trying to be sympathetic to Jews here... I find it bizarre.

Counterpunch: Ghali Hassan on Bush as Jew's accessory

CounterPunch June 4, 2004,
The White House has appointed Mr. John Dimitris Negroponte to be United
States ambassador to Iraq. He will preside over the largest embassy in the world, and housed in the Republic Palace (misleadingly named Saddam's Palace by the U.S. occupation). He will be protected by high concrete walls, barbed wires and more than 150,000 occupation force, including several thousands of foreign mercenaries armed to the teeth with the most violent tools. Mr. Negroponte is Greek-American diplomat. He is currently leading the diplomatic war against the people of Iraq as the U.S. envoy at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Negroponte is Jewish. A friend in Spain expressed his deep concern to me recently: " to appoint a Jew as ambassador to the Arab country that has been devastated because of the will of a cabal of Jewish neocons headed by Wolfowitz, Bush is just an accessory; is like trying to put off a fire using buckets of gasoline". [my emphasis]

Nick Cohen's “You’re not going to believe the anti-Semitism that is about to hit you.”

Nick Cohen's column on Left Wing anti-semitism (i.e. people who see Jews at the root of all the world's problems) after he was swamped with it in e-mail.

I've had a few threads going with people who seem to find it hard to believe the hatred is sprouting up on the American Left. Cohen writes about the UK but I see people succumbing to the temptation Cohen describes in conclusion to his column I've posted below.

And I'll post more on this.
But the liberal left has been corrupted by defeat and doesn't know much about anything these days. Marxist-Leninism is so deep in the dustbin of history, it is composting, while social democracy is everywhere on the defensive. Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Christian fundamentalism are beating it in the struggle for working-class and peasant minds. An invigorated capitalism is threatening its European strongholds. There's an awful realisation that Tony Blair and Bill Clinton may be as good as it gets. The temptation in times of defeat is to believe in everything rather than nothing; to go along with whichever cause sounds radical, even if the radicalism on offer is the radicalism of the far right. [my emphasis]

In 1878, George Eliot wrote that it was "difficult to find a form of bad reasoning about [Jews] which had not been heard in conversation or been admitted to the dignity of print". So it is again today. Outside the movies of Mel Gibson, Jews aren't Christ killers any longer, but they can't relax, because now they are Nazis, blood-soaked imperialists, the secret movers of neoconservatism, the root cause of every atrocity from 9/11 to 7/7.

It's not that the left as a whole is anti-Semitic, although there are racists who need confronting. Rather, it has been maddened by the direction history has taken. Deracinated and demoralised, its partisans aren't thinking hard enough about where they came from or - and more pertinently - where they are going.

Fred Barnes writing in The Weekly Standard and talking with Congressman Mark Kirk

Orignally posted on Illinoize.

Good column today in The Weekly Standard about the inburbs and outburbs.

Read it all but here's some,
Kirk had the 20 issues tested by pollster John McLaughlin in the inner ring of suburbs around Chicago. Twelve of the issues polled over 80 percent positive, and only two polled under 70 percent (while still receiving majority support). The top four were approved by 90 percent or more: teacher checks (95 percent), tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance (93), portability of health insurance (93), and mandatory Internet filters (91). "If we talk about stuff like this," Kirk says, Republican strength in the suburbs will "snap back quickly."

To Kirk's surprise, one major issue in the exurbs-reducing traffic congestion-didn't register favorably in the suburbs. Asked if they wanted privately built toll roads, "voters said they'd rather the highways not be there."
If Eric Krol's dominating issues for the election aren't dominating in a couple of months, here's what's on suburban minds.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Kate Burton kidnapping

Al-Mezan statement on Kate Burton kidnapping. What passes for National Liberation movements in the middle east is plain old gangsterism. Here is another soul who senselessly caught herself and family with the gangsters.

David Gelernter on Disraeli

Gelernter today in The Weekly Standard on The Inventor of Modern Conservatism .

Seems for me the Republicans have taken on the tasks of both the National and Philosophic party leaving the Democrats just the party of those hiding behind pleas of we were bamboozled; without deference to traditions or principles or what they even said in the past.

He [Disraeli] put it like this:

In a progressive country change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and the traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.

(Which is exactly the issue that divides Republicans and Democrats today.) If Tories were "national," the Liberal party was ("to give it an epithet," he said, "a noble epithet--which it may perhaps deserve") the "philosophic" party.

Normblog on Tadeusz Borowski

Norm quotes Borowski on hope.

I first read Borowski thirty years ago and still have my copy.

Once in a while I reread A True Story found on page 157 of Penquin's 1976 edition about Kapo Kwasniak, who

...showed little enthusiasm for the stories of vulgar novels, adventure films, or of any kind of play. He hated all extravagant tale on the themes of romantic literature. But he would abandon himself with passion to any ridiculous, sentimental plot as long as I managed to convince him it was taken from my own life.

I don't read holocaust literature or history other then Borowksi's stories. I go to Washington a few times a year but never visit the Museum.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The dreaded Hun and Montana's Sedition Project

Today's Chicago Tribune has a front page spread devoted to Montana's Sedition Project to obtain pardons for German-Americans convicted of sedition during the First World War.

Most people today don't realize how dominate German-American culture was in America in the years prior to 1917. Chicago schools were bilingual in German and English. The Trib article tells us 40% of Montana's population in 1917 spoke German as their first language. We modeled our Universities after the Germans.

Check the link to today's story and you'll see it presented as a timely topic given all the talk about NSA spying and the Patriot Act.

But there is a bigger story underneath here about German Americanism and what became of it in the US.

When I was protesting the Vietnam War my Dad would half-jokingly tell me to remember when ...the dreaded Huns twice threatened Europe, both my Grandfathers, my Uncle and my Dad all served.

For one of my Grandfathers, service meant opposing one of his cousins who served in the German Army. Here's that cousins picture: Alfred Streccius; with his wife, in 1918. I bought it last year off the internet from an antiquarian.

He's a fascinating guy with service from Africa to military advisor to the Red Air Force in the 1920s, and the Nationalists Chinese in their war against Japan in the 1930s.

Two branches of my family: one leaves and comes to Chicago to avoid the draft in the 1880s, and the other stays in Germany and produces a line of Officers.

I wrote the Israeli Historian of the German Army, Omer Bartov telling him I thought I had the seeds for a story about the power of America. How the same families, grounded in the same religion and culture, could spiral off on such different trajectories. The difference was America and Chicago.

He wrote back encouraging me but it's one of those things on the back burner. This is the closest I've come to writing something. I've collected records but not enough to write anything.

Anyways, as a guy who can trace some roots back to Germany and knows a bit of history, I say don't pardon these countrymen and women in Montana. Montana's law was harsh. We wouldn't want to repeat it today, but these German-Americans supported, in word and heart, the wrong side.

The 20th century is a history of disasters wrought by Germans. Their convictions should stand and the we German Americans should be thankful our cousins did not win.

Ted Kennedy and New Bedford Mass Standard-Times confidentiality agreement with student hoaxster

Romenesko gets a letter asking,
From ROGERS CADENHEAD: The New Bedford [Mass.] Standard-Times reported on Dec. 17 that a local college student was visited by homeland security agents after requesting Mao Zedong's "Little Red Book" on interlibrary loan:

Seven days later, after the story attracted international attention on hundreds of weblogs and online news sites, the student admitted that he fabricated the story. The newspaper has neither apologized for running the original story or revealed the name of the student.

At what point does a newspaper find sufficient cause to break a confidentiality agreement? The 22-year-old student knowingly lied to the newspaper and harmed its reputation across the entire planet. Though the follow-up story is allergic to the notion the paper might have erred, blaming it hilariously on a "perfect storm" and running an op-ed "thumbs down" to the student for lying, the source's anonymity puts all of the consequences of the hoax on the newspaper suckered by it.
Too jaded of me to suggest the answer is a plot to drum up something for Sen Kennedy's editorial against the Patriot Act? Because this was the only fact Kennedy could cite.

Was this student pulling a prank on a News Paper or was there more going on here?

After all, his story was used to sway opinion on an imporatnat piece of legislation.

hat tip to Yet Another Unitarian Univesalist Blog

Earlier posts here and here.

Pictures of life in Cuba

Harry's Place posts these pictures taken by dissidents in Cuba.

The "Mad" SecState had better be planning because we'll have this human rights basket case in clinic before long.

See my earlier post on Gen Leonrad Wood.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Obama and Brownback on Darfur

They have a column in today's Washington Post and applaud the bi-partisan foreign policy and their (particularly Obama's) acknowledgement of American exceptionalism,
Only the United States, working in concert with key nations, has the leverage and resources to persuade Khartoum to change its ways:
Jeff Weintraub quoted Eric Reeves in a post Children Within Darfur's Holocaust,
The deliberate destruction of children, on an ethnic basis, is the known and calculated policy of Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia---the inevitable consequence of a counter-insurgency strategy of civilian destruction, by various means, chosen with full knowledge. This is the atrocity the international community has chosen to accept, and before which it daily continues to acquiesce---responding only with humanitarian assistance and a conspicuously, radically inadequate African Union cease-fire monitoring force.

This is Sudan, suffering a long way off; too few care, and far too little.
I don't think it would take much in the way of military resources to destroy the Janjaweed and its seems a perfect mission for French Foreign Legion. France a key nation Obama and Brownback might suggest we work with in concert.

I watched Bill Bennet talk at Princeton's Conservative movement examined on C-Span a few days ago too, and he mentioned talking to Reeves about Darfur. Reeves said few of his students had much interest while Darfur was portrayed as a Muslim - Christian conflict, but their interest perked when it was portrayed as oppression of Black Africans instead of Christians. Sad observation by Reeves.

Jack McCallum's Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism and the increasingly cantankerous Castro

Watched McCallum on C-Span's Book notes this AM talk about his new book on Gen Leonard Wood.

I read Hagedorn's two volume biography from 1931 a few years ago. Then I was interested in Wood's reforms of the War Department. The questions to McCallum this morning were on parallel's to Iraq. (Wood was the first American General to fight radical Islam in Mindano.)

I'm on my way to the library for McCallum's book because I think it's Cuba and Wood's experience there that will become required reading soon enough.

Here's Castro on SecState Rice in the Miami Herald a few days ago,
In an unusually harsh outburst, Cuban leader Fidel Castro Friday called U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ''mad'' and used a vulgar epithet to describe her special commission on the island's transition.

It was the first time in memory the 79-year-old Castro, who has been unusually aggressive in his recent public pronouncements, used the crude but common vulgarism in public, two longtime monitors of the Cuban media said.

Castro has become ''increasingly cantankerous for the last four years,'' said Brian Latell, a retired CIA analyst on Cuba and author of After Fidel, a new book about Castro and his brother, designated successor RaΓΊl Castro.

"Kifiya!" - "Enough!"

Saad Eddin Ibrahim's editorial Islam can vote, if we let it from May 2005. Disappointed I didn't find it earlier. Here's his conclusion but read it all.
For me, however, something about events of the past few months feels new and irreversible. Too many people in too many places - Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere - are defying their oppressors and taking risks for freedom. Across the region the shouts of "Kifiya!" - "Enough!" - have become a rallying cry against dictators.

With luck, the Middle East may catch the so-called third wave of democracy, which has rolled through 100 countries since the fall of the dictatorship in Portugal in 1974. But whether it will be a spring wind or a sandstorm will depend in great part on how the Islamists are accommodated in Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine in the months ahead.

Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have hinted recently that the United States would accept the outcome of any fair and free elections, even if it brings Islamists to power. That hint should be explicated in a clear doctrine.

A government open to all and serving all is our best weapon against both autocracy and theocracy.

(Saad Eddin Ibrahim, chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, is a candidate for president of Egypt. )

Kenneth Anderson's on What would Lincoln have done? And why finally we should not ask the question.

A good post by a Law Prof looking at Kuttner's Lincoln-Bush comparison. I quoted Anderson's commmens on Lincoln's faith and education.

Kenneth Anderson's Law of War and Just War Theory Blog: Shame on Robert Kuttner for using Lincoln for cheap shots at Bush:
As for religion, Kuttner et al. might be thought to resemble most closely the anti-war Democratic newspapers of the day - along with many of the sophisticated newspapers of Europe - who were appalled by the religiousity of the Second Inaugural Address and accused its author of offering 'puritanical' theology in place of public policy, and who believed that Lincoln was invoking the mantle of the Almighty in order to shield his own policies from criticism - Lincoln was guilty, in their eyes, of being at once a believer and a hypocrite, which is not that different, so far as I can tell, from how Kuttner sees Bush. As for the belief that Lincoln acquainted himself with a wide range of opinion through his wide reading, whereas Bush lives apart from newspapers and criticism - well, ironically, both elite Radical New England opinion and elite New York Democratic anti-war opinion believed that the ill-educated Lincoln lived in a world shaped by Western frontier prejudices and that he was simply outside the mainstream of what American and European elites 'knew' to be the real world, not so different from what Kuttner et al. in the 'reality-based community' like to think of themselves and President Bush.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Did Germany trade hostage Suzanne Osthoff for Robert Stethem's killer?

David's Medien Kritik on Susanne Osthoff: The Happy Hostage who said of her kidnappers you cannot blame them for kidnapping her,as they cannot enter [Baghdad's heavily fortified] Green Zone to kidnap Americans.

Our German friend notes
...a suspicion - probably never to be proven - that Osthoff was released in exchange for Hizbollah terrorist Mohammad Ali Hammadi, convicted of killing Navy diver Robert Stethem in Beirut during the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight.

Oh, and Mrs. Osthoff contemplates a return to Iraq in the near future (her subsequent kidnapping is a safe bet if terrorists are still not permitted to enter the Green zone).

Are there any other Arab killers of U.S. military personel in German prisons?

You know, just in case...
Osthoff is another who reminds me of those folks running the gates. Worse really, she's made kidnapping pay.

Freedom's progress 2005

Norm finds a report on the state of freedom globally gives hope that we are at the start of a tectonic shift toward liberty across the Muslim world.

The report comes from Freedom House, a nonpartisan organization founded by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Wilkie. Every year its specialists rate every country in the world on an exhaustive checklist of civil and political rights.

Contracts with Illinois

I think Eric Krol wrote this in the Dec 23, 2005 Daily Herald, (Krol's byline missing on the electronic version)
Here's your 2006 Illinois political preview. Next year's election largely will be determined by two factors: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the war in Iraq.and devotes the balance of a good column working out the consequences.
Problem is both of these issues don't deal directly with Illinois's problems. So let's speculate if both become non-issues in the next few months. I commented in an earlier post in Illinoize that I had read Major Garrett's Enduring Revolutionon; How the Contract with America Continues to Shape the Nation and wondered what a republican contract with Illinois today might look like. Extreme Wisdom responded back suggesting for starters,

1. Constitutional Changes a)A SPENDING CAP on all State & Local Government funds (Inflation+Population Growth)

2. Conversion of all Pensions to "Definecontributionon" (Defined Benefit is unsustainable) 3. Binding Referenda/Initiatives - allowing voters to bypass our ossified & sclerotipoliticalal class.

A Bold Education/Tax Reform Plan

1. Abolition of Local Property tax for schools and education being funded 100% from the State, with an inflation indexed scholarship for each child - chosen by the family

2. Abolition of the School District and conversion of every school to an Independent Charter.

This post by Jeff Trigg that 64% of General Assembly races unopposed has been on my mind too, so let me suggest another piece of a contract here a long the lines of California's recently voted down Proposition 77 on redistricting.

I'm not certain what the Republicans will think of Extreme Wisdom and myself writing contracts for them, so why note ask the readers to write the contracts for the Democrats, Libertarians, and Greens too. The contracts might come in handy for thinking about Illinois should Iraq's elections bring stability and Fitzgerald springs no surpriseses.

All I ask is keep the ideas specific as something that could be turned easily into legislation. And while pledging no new taxes tells use what a party won't do, it's really nice to hear what the party expects too given whatever budget limits the set up for themselves. If taxes aren't part of your solution, tell us how you'll solve Illinois's problems without increasing them. If you plan to spend a lot of money to solve problems, you better tell us how you'll pay for it too.

Interesting topic I hope for those of you on Christmas - New Years vacations.

Cross posted at Illinoize

Deadline Nears for Christian Hostages in Iraq

From the Ratzinger Fan Club blog.

A good friend of mine is an Engineer for Metra. I feel for these hostages much the same way I feel for those folks who race the crossing gate with my friend.

Somewhere there is some American soldier putting their life at risk to save these folks. I hope they appreciate him or her and stop racing the gates over there in Iraq.

And here's something from Reuters which is the most current news on them I find.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's blog removes their Problems in American Democracy post

Go back to my post UUSC should retract.... (should I nail the rest on a door in Boston?) and click on the link to UUSC Blog's post on The Problems in American Democracy and you'll see the problem's gone.

The best tradition of the blogesphere is what goes on the net, stays on the net; even when it's egg on the face.

UUSC blog can not be faithful to this mission,

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies.

if they themselves, as a power structure in our Church, hide rather than confront a lie they spread among their readers.

Or in cruder terms they use, spit on the blogesphere, and the blogesphere might just spit back; or throw an egg or too with a laugh.

Laugh and then reflect on heoric folks like Akbar Ganji on hunger strikes for human rights and social justice.

The UUSC will become useless and irrelevant, unread by anyone, if you don't deal with your mistakes and explain to your readers how you goofed here. You owe it the Unitarian Universalists who took you seriously here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Congress Rocks the Middle East

from The Guardian,
An all-congressional band known as the Second Amendments will perform for U.S. troops over the holidays during a trip to the Middle East and Europe.

The bipartisan rock and country band features Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., on guitar and lead vocals; Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., on lead guitar; Dave Weldon, R-Fla., on bass; Jon Porter, R-Nev., on keyboards; and Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., on drums.

The Belmont Club on tomorrow's leaders

Belmont Club quoting Robert Kaplan in today's LA Times. And please note the Hispanic names when you see the troops on TV. Our first Hispanic SecState is out there right now serving with them. Probably our first Hispanic President too.
The Belmont Club: But he'll remember, with advantages ...: "If you want to meet the future political leaders of the United States, go to Iraq. I am not referring to the generals, or even the colonels. I mean the junior officers and enlistees in their 20s and 30s. In the decades ahead, they will represent something uncommon in U.S. military history: war veterans with practical experience in democratic governance, learned under the most challenging of conditions. For several weeks, I observed these young officers working behind the scenes to organize the election in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. ... Throughout Iraq, young Army and Marine captains have become veritable mayors of micro-regions, meeting with local sheiks, setting up waste-removal programs to employ young men, dealing with complaints about cuts in electricity and so on. They have learned to arbitrate tribal politics, to speak articulately and to sit through endless speeches without losing patience."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

UUSC should retract.... (should I nail the rest on a door in Boston?)

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's Human Rights Weblog wrote the Problems in American Democracy and what they cited was the tale of the college kid getting the visit from the FBI for checking out Mao's Book.

It's the only thing UUSC cited in this frightening post. They ought to apologize for it because now the kid admits it's all a hoax.

It's sad we Unitarian Universalist (not too mention Sen Kennedy who referenced this case in an editorial) we're so quick to disregard the FBI's and Homeland security's statements on this case and rushed to a pretty harsh post about threats to America's liberties.

Jonathan Saltzman writing in the Globe today tells us that,

A Homeland Security spokeswoman in Washington said she had no record of any interview of a UMass-Dartmouth student and pointed out that the department does not have its own agents. An FBI spokeswoman in Boston also expressed doubt.

That didn't stop it from buzzing around the Internet and even being picked up by Kennedy, who cited it as the latest example of the Bush administration's intrusion on civil liberties.

''Incredibly, we are now in an era where reading a controversial book may be evidence of a link to terrorist," he wrote in an op-ed piece in Thursday's Globe.

Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said last night that the senator cited ''public reports" in his opinion piece. Even if the assertion was a hoax, she said, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance.
The Church sure seems to be getting yanked into the Democratic Party's rhetoric about Alito being the jack-booted thug, and Patriot Act's looming authoritarianism without out much reference to facts, and the reality of a few years experience with the Patriot Act.

A few calls to the FBI and Homeland security by UUSC would sure have helped avoid a post where the only fact referenced is a bald lie.

One reason for keeping some distance between Church and State is politicians can sure bamboozle the Church sometimes.

You wonder who UUSC is talking too to arrive at these conclusions because they're certainly not talking too --or at least believing or even willing to quote-- people who knew some facts about what the FBI or Homeland Security had not done.

This is a problem for our Faith and Church.

Hat Tip to MediaNation's Little red faces


Friday, December 23, 2005

Teresa Heinz Kerry in The Forward on Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Teresa Heinz Kerry on The Outrageous Silence of George W. Bush

It's funny she didn't ask for a unified, outraged and outspoken world response given her husband's assault on Bush's supposed unilaterialism during the debates. Thank God for John Bolton in the UN. Iran was the topic of his first speech there.

World stalls on dealing with Iran at our peril and I fear the Irianian people have the most to suffer should we stall until we're left with now choice but her husband's War of Last Resort.

Kerry said of Bush in the first debate,
He also promised America that he would go to war as a last resort.

Those words mean something to me, as somebody who has been in combat. "Last resort." You've got to be able to look in the eyes of families and say to those parents, "I tried to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter."
We wait for that and Iran's sons and daughter will suffer the most. I pray for revolution in Iran.

I'm pasting her letter in full here. I don't think she or The Forward would mind.
In calling the Holocaust "a myth," as he did last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has drunk from the bloody cup shared by the malevolent enemies of equality and justice, the ultra right-wingers and haters who live in history's shadows.

Need it be said, again? The gas chambers, the bureaucratic system of murder, the efforts to sever an entire people from their place in this world, did happen, did exist and remains a unifying cause for those who choose justice, now and forever more.

This latest outburst gives the Bush administration a second opportunity to send a strong message in support of Israel and of the global community, and to make a clear statement against bigotry and hatred. This time, President Bush should not let the moment pass — as he did after Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" in an October 28 hate-filled speech.

Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and his denigration of an important ally and close friend of America was an outrage. But so, too, was the tepid American response.

The Bush administration — which so often answers challenges with confrontational language — took this occasion to whisper. With the exception of America's ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, who denounced the remarks as "pernicious and unacceptable," the Bush administration explained those comments as if they had been uttered by a crazy relative — and then returned to its talking points on Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted widespread condemnation of the remarks, but did not offer condemnation of her own: "When the president of one country says that another country should be wiped off the face of the map in violation of all of the norms of the United Nations... it has to be taken seriously.... There has been widespread condemnation of this statement and it only demonstrates why we're working so hard to keep Iran from getting technologies that would lead to a nuclear weapon."

The State Department's spokesman, Sean McCormack, anemically noted that Ahmadinejad's statement "reconfirms what we have been saying... and I think it underscores our concern as well as the international community's concern about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons."

President Bush's press secretary, Scott McClellan, told reporters matter-of-factly that, "Many leaders in the international community have spoken out about the comments that were made."

But Bush was not among them. Not a single word of disapproval passed the president's lips.

The lesson of the last century and more is clear: Acts of hatred often follow words of hatred, and the best way to head off hideous deeds is to respond swiftly and with certainty. Instead of explaining away Iran's behavior, or scoring minor tactical points, it is time to let the antisemites know that Americans will not tolerate their calls for violence or especially grievous insults to history.

Let me explain my outrage. I grew up under a dictatorship, in Mozambique. Grown-ups could not speak out against the repression and injustice that surrounded us. But since leaving, I have demonstrated and marched against tyranny and hate.

I began my formal work against antisemitism in 1977, when I joined the Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry, a group I would later co-chair. It was an honor to meet and stand with Refuseniks like Ida Nudel, Judith Rattner, Vladimir Slepak, Natan Sharansky and so many others. I visited Russia many times, and met with people who had been systematically and sometimes brutally repressed. I learned from them that when we say "never again," we have to mean it.

Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of Great Britain, has compared antisemitism to a virus, surviving through millennia by mutating: religious anti-Judaism into racial antisemitism, and now antisemitism morphing into anti-Zionism. Whatever the rationalization its adherents hide behind, though, antisemitism has always had at its heart the same things: bigotry and hate and fear.

The only way to prevent the virus from surviving and spreading is to attack, killing it with the strongest possible condemnations before it has a chance to mutate and spread. In October, Bush missed a chance to do that. Now he has a second chance to speak out. I hope he will take it.

It is time for Iran to be confronted by a unified, outraged and outspoken Bush administration, an administration that feels and dispenses the cleansing heat that such virulent words deserve.

Teresa Heinz Kerry is the wife of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Cong Hoekstra's editorial to Director Negroponte on captured Iraqi archives

Hoekstra's editorial in today's Washington Times asking Negroponte to declassify 35,000 boxes of captured documents.

He's right. And it's a great example of how the net should be used.
Much of the blame for the slow translation can be attributed to the fact that the United States has few trained Arabic translators in its intelligence community. Of the ones we do have, their focus and priority, as it should be, is on translating current information to assess potential threats and to provide support for our troops in the field.

The other significant problem, and one that is entirely of our government's own making, is that current intelligence community requirements allow only people with top security clearances to handle the documents.

Given the limited availability of translators, and legitimate questions as to whether the U.S. government could ever employ enoug translators to review the documents, the most prudent course is to eliminate the classification requirements surrounding the documents. They could then be published, so academics, journalists, bloggers and other interested individuals could have access and help translate them.

An undoubtedly enterprising spirit resides in the American people, and others around the world, that we can harness to assist in translating the documents. Regardless of one's political perspective, there are many on all sides who would like to know more about the happenings and thinking in prewar Iraq.

I, along with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, recently proposed that the federal government take a bold and unprecedented step to immediately turn this archive into a valuable source of information on Iraq. Specifically, we called on Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte to declassify the millions of pages of documents and make them available to the public.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Buck on Al Qaeda and the tax season

Buck is great at telling us what should be obvious. He's like a Sam Johnson.
Lots and lots of people have been going ballistic over the fact that NSA computers have monitored a select number of phone calls made internationally. Clearly unconstitutional, they say. Clearly illegal, they say. Grounds for impeachment, some even say.

On a different note, the year is ending soon. People's W-2 forms from work will be coming out, as will receipts from charities, etc. It will soon be time once again for the yearly ritual whereby everyone meekly and mildly registers with a government agency that monitors:
All of this takes a lot of time, of course, so I'd expect everyone to take a short breather before returning to the all-important task of denouncing the NSA for monitoring a few international phone calls made by people associated with Al Qaeda. After all, no free society can tolerate that sort of invasion of privacy.

For a democratic secular Iran. For peace and prosperity in the Middle East.: British Iranians Picket the Lib Dem HQ

Fron an Iranian Blogger in London: British Iranians Picket the Lib Dem HQ:
British Iranians staged a silent picket outside the Lib Dem HQ, in Cawley Street, Millbank. The picket was in protest at remarks made by Lib Dem Baroness, Emma Nicholson, in the European Parliament, who referred to the Islamic Republic as 'an advanced form of democracy in the region'.

Jefferson's Purple Finger

Found over at Chicago Boyz.

Media Nation: Did Ted Kennedy fall for a hoax?

Dan Kennedy over at Media Nation finds Ted Kennedy got hoodwinked by an internet legend, Media Nation: Did Ted Kennedy fall for a hoax?:
Ted Kennedy -- or, to be more accurate, Ted Kennedy's office -- has an op-ed piece in the Globe today about the Bush administration's war on civil liberties. It includes this:

Just this past week there were public reports that a college student in Massachusetts had two government agents show up at his house because he had gone to the library and asked for the official Chinese version of Mao Tse-tung's Communist Manifesto. Following his professor's instructions to use original source material, this young man discovered that he, too, was on the government's watch list.

Think of the chilling effect on free speech and academic freedom when a government agent shows up at your home -- after you request a book from the library."
Dan links McCarth telling us it's hoax. The interesting thing is McCarth blogged yesterday with enough to make one hesitate to go forward with the editorial yet Kennedy's staff let it through the next day. Why let themselves get egg on their face? Or do they not read blogs? Or do they figure through enough false garbage and some of it is bound to stick?

Demographics is the future - Update

The latest from the census bureau on population shifts via Drudge here and here as a postscript to my response to Philocrates.

Whether voting trends --or Church going, or any other trends-- will remain the same I don't know, and the challange is reaching out to people in these new communities.

I heard David Brooks on TV describe the cities in these growth States as "aspirational" and thath should tell everyone something about how these folks will think.

Nick Cohen column on police torture and Germany's Metzler kidnapping

Nick Cohen is reviewing his old columns and here is another good one on the conviction of German Police for exceeding the limits with a suspect in the kidnapping of an 11 year old child.

A interesting point for us in the United States is this footnote at the end,
PS The police chief was also convicted by the German judges sitting without a jury as is the continental way. After this article appeared, Helena Kennedy QC wrote to point out that the case was an indirect vindication of the jury system and the Common Law. No British, American or Australian prosecutor would have dared put Wolfgang Daschner on trial for the simple reason that although he was technically guilty there wasn’t a jury in the Anglosphere which would have convicted him.
I like the German perspective on social and moral issues. It's framed by their experience of a whole people's moral collapse. One reason why I think Ratzinger a good choice as Pope.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Five random facts about me

Diane over at Respublica tagged me to name five random facts about myself. I have to tag five more. You'll find out who you are soon. Took my old head two days to randomly generate this,

  1. I like sausages. On my way now to Randy Reams in Elburn Ill to stock up on his smoked and Ukrainian styles.

  2. I watch trains. Can spend all day doing it.

  3. I can spend all day wandering around Chicago looking at old Churches and visiting hot dog stands

  4. If I let my beard grow, it would be all grey; but that's more hair than I have on my head.

  5. I accumulate library fines even though St Charles lets me renew online.

Nick Cohen on notes delivered with daggers

Nick Cohen is posting some of his old columns. This one from last year describes the Index on Censorship's transformation from universal liberalism into a human-rights travesty today.
It was founded by Stephen Spender in the early 1970s to fight for the right of Soviet dissidents to speak freely. Vaclav Havel, Nadine Gordimer, Salman Rushdie, Doris Lessing, Arthur Miller, Aung San Suu Kyi and many another clear and strong voice used its pages to denounce the suppression of opinion wherever it occurred. Yet when it contemplated the warm corpse of a film-maker [Theo Van Gogh] who had been ritually slaughtered for dramatising violence against Muslim women, its instinctive reaction was so hateful it still has the power to shock six weeks on.
And further on about Van Gogh's colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali,
What was most telling was Index’s treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who worked with van Gogh on the film. I can remember when she would have been a liberal heroine. Ali is a Somali, who was circumcised at five - if you want the gory details of what female circumcision involves, by the way, I’m afraid you’re going to have to look them up. She fled from an arranged marriage at 22. She overcame enormous handicaps to become a Dutch MP and, as free men and women are entitled to do, decided she didn’t believe in God. Needless to add her secularism made her dangerous enemies, and the police had to protect her from Islamists. Their guard was increased when the killer stuck a five-page letter addressed to her to van Gogh’s body with a dagger.

Lifson on the Liberal Bubble

And he says...
American liberals are able to live their lives untroubled by what they regard as serious contrary opinion. The capture of the media, academic, and institutional high ground enables them to dismiss their conservative opponents as ill-informed, crude, bigoted, and evil. The memes are by now familiar. Rush Limbaugh and the other radio talkers “preach hate.” Evangelicals are “religious fanatics” comparable to the Islamo-fascists in their desire to impose “theocracy.” Catholics observant of the teachings of their church are “hypocrites” and their priests possible “pedophiles.” Jewish conservatives are members of the “neocon” cult, a suspicious lot schooled in the esoteric works of Leo Strauss.
My admittedly selective experience is I can express an opinion that same-sex marriages should be legal, or guns controled on conservative blogs and have my opinions respected. I can express an opinion in support of Bush on a "Liberal" blog and more often than not written off as an idiot or at best told I'm tolerated because the listener a tolerant sort.

Those Liberal bubbles are cast of iron. They can be destructive things to surround yourself in. I fear Lison is right here regardless what happens in the mid terms. The longer trend is this,
The liberal bubble is a seductive delusion, one to which many liberal are addicted. Repeated failures to persuade the public to vote into power those politicians who agree with their political principles will not persuade many to venture outside the glossy confines. As result, expect the liberal spiral downward to increasingly resemble a vortex, leading to oblivion.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Drudge undearths Clinton and Carter's warrentless search orders

Here they are, at the electonic Federal Archives here and here.

Geneva Illinois: birth place of the National Security Agency

Nice time to remember Geneva's Riverbank Labs and the story of William Frederick Friedman. Note Knowledge is Power engraved on his tombstone in Arlington.
After receiving a B.S. and doing some graduate work in genetics at Cornell University, William Friedman was hired by Riverbank Laboratories, what would today be termed a "think tank," outside Chicago. There he became interested in the study of codes and ciphers, thanks to his concurrent interest in Elizebeth (sic) Smith, who was doing cryptanalytic research at Riverbank. Friedman left Riverbank to become a cryptologic officer during World War I, the beginning of a distinguished career in government service.
Cross posted at Illinoize.

The Belmont Club's summary of blogs on NSA surveillance

The Belmont Club reviews them and notes,
However the legal arguments play out, a slightly different question already has a definite answer: the President does not, apparently, have the reliable ability to conduct surveillance of the enemy without the fact being revealed in the New York Times.
And over at World Wide Standard dot com a look back to Stewart Baker in Slate from 2003,
In the spring and summer of 2001, with al-Qaida's preparations growing even more intense, the turmoil grew so bad that national security wiretaps were allowed to lapse—something that had never happened before. It isn't clear what intelligence we missed, but the loss of those wiretaps was treated as less troubling than the privacy scandal that now hung over the antiterrorism effort....
We were troubled by the wrong thing for sure.

Marathon Pundit on Free Speech at DePaul

Marathon Pundit has some more posts on DePaul and Klocek including this from the Illinois Chapter of the American Association of University Professors:
The DePaul administration accuses Klocek of ‘threatening and unprofessional behavior,’ although it never specified any threats made by Klocek. AAUP guidelines protect extramural speech of all academics, including adjunct instructors. Removing an instructor for an argument outside of class is a violation of due process, and firing him is even worse. Extramural comments are only subject to punishment if they indicate professional misconduct, and hostile arguments may be unpleasant but certainly do not rise to that standard.

Although some critics point to Klocek’s firing as an example of political correctness, it primarily reflects the powerlessness of adjunct faculty and the corporatization of colleges where students are seen as customers and those who offend them will be removed.

Being a truth seeker means being a loner

Today's Trib on the Klocek case.

I'm DePaul alum and sad to see this treatment of a guy at a school that can host Ward Churchill and have no problem retaining faculity who said they would ban you from the classroom if you didn't like it.

Via Marathon Pundit.
The occasion of Klocek's fall from grace was a student-activity fair, at the beginning of the 2004 fall semester. Among the organizations there was Students for Justice in Palestine, which supports the Arab side in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Klocek picked up a piece of its literature and was offended.

"I said to them, 'Don't you know there's a Christian perspective too?' " Klocek recalled.

Salma Nassar, president of the group, recalled Klocek's words differently. "He then continued to talk about how Christians have more of a right to Palestine than Muslims or Jews," she told the DePaulia, the student newspaper.

Other students told the newspaper they tried keeping to the level of an intellectual discussion but Klocek was out of control. He said he tried getting the students to examine their premises but they were too angry to respond to the Socratic method, a time-honored pedagogical technique.

Shortly, Klocek broke off the argument by putting a thumb to his chin and flicking it forward. The students were offended by the gesture; he said he intended it to mean, "I'm out of here!"

There are places on Earth where the gesture has a stronger connotation, as Klocek might have known. A favorite course of his is: "Languages and Cultures of the World."

Sometimes he can't explain, even to himself, why he got into it with students. Other times, he sees the incident as a natural extension of his commitment to teaching.

"I was headed to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee; why didn't I just keeping going?" Klocek said. "I don't know. But if militant Zionists had been there, I might have engaged them too. Being a truth seeker means being a loner."


A quote from Jacob Weisberg's book on Bush found on Neo Neo-con,

Richard Perle, foreign policy adviser [says]: "The first time I met Bush 43… two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was that he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much.

Weisberg intended it as a slam on Bush but anyone who's depended on those who can't ask questions for fear of displaying ignorance understands the wisdom here.

Grave responsibility before God, conscience and history

SecDef Rumsfeld on Meet the Press March 23, 2002. I'll always remember this exchange. The transcript doesn't convey Rumsfeld's sadness with today's isolationists and Russert's befuddlement over responsiblity for grave decisions.

Fran's comment below about putting American First popped it into my head again,
Russert: There are many in the world asking for more time for negotiations, for diplomacy -- the Vatican -- the pope issued this statement: "Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history."

Rumsfeld: It's true.

Russert: And you accept that?

Rumsfeld: Indeed. It is a fair statement. War is the last choice. President Bush has said that repeatedly, and he has made every effort humanly possible to avoid it.

Russert: Yesterday in New York City and across --

Rumsfeld: Indeed, he gave a final ultimatum to avoid war: leave in 48 hours -- after exhausting every other step. He is -- I am sure very people could disagree with what the pope said.

Russert: Yesterday in New York City, some 200,000 Americans took to the street and protested -- there's video -- across the world. What would you say to those protestors?

Rumsfeld: Well, I -- this is a free country -- people can have their own views, and they always have. In every war, there have been protestors. The American Firsters filled Madison Square Garden repeatedly with thousands of people before World War II while Europe was in flames, while millions of Jews were being killed, and the chant was, "Don't get involved in a war in Europe." It's a natural human reaction for people to want to avoid war.

All Duckworth over at Archpundit

And it's interesting reading. The Jew baiting America Firsters are raising their heads over there too. The Democrats need a house cleaning. "Fran" writes,
It also seems to me that Emanuel is a Democratic Neocon who is a Hawk element from the Israeli/American contingency along with Liebermann and I'm sure there are a some more. It also seems to me that this faction is playing both ends against the middle, for a not necessarally America first agenda. The DCCC, headed by Emanuel has also solicited 6-10 other military persons and is trying to push/hire them in other races elsewhere in the country.

Are Wilson-Plame real?

Drudge is doing a contest to caption this picture. I wonder if it's doctored. I can't imagine serious people talking about serious issues posing like this.

As you know, I am neither a technician nor an attorney

Then maybe Sen Rockefeller should just go home. It's humiliating to see a Party who's candidates I voted for from 76 to 00 talk like this.
Some Democrats say they never approved a domestic wiretapping program, undermining suggestions by President Bush and his senior advisers that the plan was fully vetted in a series of congressional briefings. "I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse, these activities," West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, said in a handwritten letter to Vice President Dick Cheney in July 2003. "As you know, I am neither a technician nor an attorney."

Rockefeller is among a small group of congressional leaders who have received briefings on the administration's four-year-old program to eavesdrop _without warrants _ on international calls and e-mails of Americans and others inside the United States with suspected ties to al-Qaida.
Here is Roger Biles writing about Illinois's Sen Paul Douglas back in the 1950s,
An avid defender of civil liberties who had been the frequent target of red-baiters during his own political career, Douglas genuinely deplored McCarthy's methods, and yet --as the quotations cited by Fried suggest-- he grudgingly admitted that the proven existence of communist spies necessitated the unpleasant kind of investigative work conducted by the red-hunters.
Biles had quoted Fried earlier as having said,
Paul Douglas (not noted for a lack of courage), while disapproving of McCarthy's methods, had to concede that 'we have had some Alger Hisses in government'. 'We were handicapped by the fact that many of the men who McCArthy singled out were implicated to some extent.'
From page 100 of Roger Biles book Crusading Liberal.

Linked at Hugh Hewitt and Real Ugly American.

Jeff Weintraub: "Dangerous Territory" - Paul Berman & Bob Herbert

Jeff Weintraub: "Dangerous Territory" - Paul Berman & Bob Herbert
Jeff Weintraub reviews columns by Berman and Herbert and concludes,
...when it comes to talking about torture, political repression, and other threats to 'freedom, democracy, and the rule of law,' then in my humble opinion people who favored leaving Iraq under the rule of a genocidal fascist regime with a proven history of ongoing torture, mutilation, rape, ethnic cleansing, and mass murder on a massive scale, and who now favor unconditional surrender to the fascists and jihadis engaged in murdering Iraqi civilians in order to bring back this kind of regime--in other words, people like Bob Herbert ... well, it doesn't seem to me that such people really have a lot of moral credibility on these issues. (Unlike, say, John McCain.) Am I being unfair? I don't think so.
Not at all Jeff, not at all... not only not unfair, but a question that has to be asked.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Demographics is the future

Chris Walton over at Philocrites comments on my post with Paul Douglas and the filibuster saying,

...right now, the minority party in the Senate represents the majority of the U.S. population. It's the large states, with urban centers, that are the home turf of the liberals you enjoy criticizing. But because the Constitution stacks the Senate against these very states -- only two votes for you, New York -- Douglas could never have made this particular charge against the current Senate.

Check out Charles Mahtesian writing in the latest issue of Government Executive on Fertile Ground. If the minority party represents the majority of the population, it's not going to last for long.
In the Northeast, the Democratic Party's stronghold, men and women marry later, on average, than in any other region, and the Northeastern states feature some of the highest levels of unmarried-couple households in the nation. Marriage rate data reveal similarly stark distinctions: Red states dominate the top of the chart while blue states are clustered at the low end.

These figures would be nothing more than curiosities if they weren't so portentous. Democratic strength is concentrated in states with low fertility and low marriage rates, which wouldn't be a problem if these places were attracting large numbers of new residents. But most are not, at least when compared with the fastest-growing states, and that will have consequences after the next decennial census when congressional seats (and thus electoral votes) are reallocated according to population. Based on 2004 population estimates, Poli-data of Lake Ridge, Va., a political data analysis firm, projects that nine states will lose House seats after the next census - all but two of them voted for Kerry. Seven will gain seats - all but one of them carried by Bush. In 2012, even if every state voted the same way it did in 2004, there would be a net gain of six electoral votes for the GOP ticket based on these projections.
It's going to be a long time talking and filibustering with these kinds of trends.

And take a look at The Economist's comparison a while back of Hastert and Pelosi's congressional districts. Which one would the resolutely egalitarian Paul Douglas have envisioned as America's best future?
There is also a class difference. Mr Hastert's district is as resolutely middle-class as it is cheerfully mid-American. A few businessmen live in multi-million-dollar houses, and send their children to private schools. But most people send their children to public schools, shop in giant shopping malls and eat in chain restaurants. The region's varied economy means that you do not need a higher degree to get ahead: people do well in farms and factories as well as in office suites. And the almost universal commitment to the public schools reinforces the sense of equality. Sue Klinkhamer, the mayor of St Charles, points out that her local school district is so big that people living on fairly modest incomes can send their children to the same schools as do millionaires.

San Francisco is both higher- and lower-class. The city is home to some of the richest people in the country, many of them, like the Hearsts, Haases and Crockers, the heirs to rather than the creators of huge fortunes. It also has a disproportionate number of single professionals with big disposable incomes. Yet it is also host to one of the country's biggest concentrations of homeless people. Over 8,000 of them, perhaps twice that number, many drug-addicted or mentally ill, live on the streets. “A mixture of Carmel and Calcutta”, is the verdict of Kevin Starr, California's state librarian, on his native city.
Cheerfully egalitarian, growing, attracting immigrants, (Kane County one third hispanic now) is the way to go.

...have to be awfully smart, someone once said, to believe something so stupid

Michael Barone explains some of the lessons of the past 25 years in a great column covering the major themes of my adult life. I'm see why some think I'm idiot now. Now I know why.
These lessons have been widely learned and widely applied, by George W. Bush but also to a large extent by Bill Clinton. But not, curiously enough, by those who see themselves as the best and the brightest, our university and media elites. They would still like to see America's power reined in, as it was in the 1970s.

They are insouciant about the costs that larger and more intrusive government and higher taxes impose on the economy. They think that leniency and subsidy are the appropriate responses to deviant and self-destructive behavior. They think our most important right is a right to kill our unborn children. You have to be awfully smart, someone once said, to believe something so stupid. And to be so blind to the clear lessons of the past quarter century of history.

Jeff Weintraub: Khartoum Triumphant: Managing the Costs of Genocide in Darfur (Eric Reeves)

Jeff Weintraub: Khartoum Triumphant: Managing the Costs of Genocide in Darfur (Eric Reeves): Once again, this urgent and informative piece by Eric Reeves needs to be read in full (and in conjunction with his other recent report, Darfur Betrayed). Some highlights follow. --Jeff Weintraub

Sen Paul Douglas: "Everyone in his heart knows that it is a disgrace"

A quote from Sen Paul Douglas's maiden speech as a US Senator speaking against the Wherry resolution. Found on page 57 of Roger Biles Crusading Liberal.
The Wherry Resolution gives to 33 Senators, now and almost forever more, the power to kill any measure. This means that 17 states can act to preserve a filibuster. This means that a combination of the 17 smallest states, with less than 8 per cent or 1/13 of the population and less than 7 per cent or 1/15 of the income can tie up the Senate and the country and defeat the will of over 90 percent of the people. If we continue along this line, the great qualification of a Senator will be his ability to speak for 24 hours without stopping....Everyone in his heart knows that it is a disgrace.
Not hard to tell he was a U of Chicago Economist with the ratios. He was one of my Dad's favorite politicans.

Cross posted on Illinoize.

Purge on Beijing's first gay festival

Ford stops taking ads it's news all over. Communist Police crack down on a Gay Pride festival no one says much. One can believe same sex marriage not a right, one can believe what they will about homosexuality, but anyone who believes in basic human rights should protest this.

Libya gives up chemical weapons

It's the two year anniversary Good news MSM likes to overlook.

The Left - Right anti-war alliance

Harry's Place has good posts on it here and here. And George Galloway on Irans right to nukes.

Confessions of a blogger

"In a cold but stuffy bed-sitting room littered with cigarette ends and half-empty cups of tea, a man in a moth-eaten dressing-gown sits at a rickety table, trying to find room for his typewriter among the piles of dusty papers that surround it. He cannot throw the papers away because the wastepaper basket is already overflowing, and besides, somewhere among the unanswered letters and unpaid bills it is possible that there is a cheque for two guineas which he is nearly certain he forgot to pay into the bank ... He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak he will be suffering from a hangover."
Hitchens via Harry's Place.

Until it was too late

America is in a war with Islamic extremists who are trying to defeat our country. "Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas," Mr. Bush said in his radio address. "But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late." The president said the activities he authorized by the National Security Agency "make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time."
From today's editorial in New York Sun thanks to WorldwideStandard dot com.

Comrade Stalin's above the McDonalds, next to the casino

Thanks to Harry at Harry's Place.


Check it out...

US Constitution as Paper

I don't know if this story about Bush and the Constitution over at it's all one thing is true or not. But it did get me thinking the past few days.

I had the privelge of taking Joe Wall's Constitutional History class at Grinnell College in the 70's. I still have all the books and one of these days I'm going to reread them all.

Two points have stuck with me though: I have no desire to be a lawyer, and I think FDR's court packing scheme was not a bad idea because --like FDR-- I want to get the fields ploughed.
Last Thursday I described the American form of government as a three-horse team provided by the Constitution to the American people so that their field might be plowed. The three horses are, of course, the three branches of government - the Congress, the executive, and the courts. Two of the horses, the Congress and the executive, are pulling in unison today; the third is not. Those who have intimated that the president of the United States is trying to drive that team, overlook the simple fact that the presidents, as chief executive, is himself one of the three horses.

It is the American people themselves who are in the driver's seat. It is the American people themselves who want the furrow plowed. It is the American people themselves who expect the third horse to fall in unison with the other two.

I hope that you have re-read the Constitution of the United States in these past few weeks. Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again.
Nobody else agreed with FDR (or me now) so were stuck with the nine old justices. Anyways, on my blog, I'm in the driver's seat and here's my quick take on the Constitution as piece of paper.

The Constition was our second try at creating a government. The Articles of Confederation was first and it didn't work.

While the constitution's lasted to today, it was grievously flawed from the start because it sanctioned slavery . It took a brutal civil war and hundreds of thousands dead to fix that grievous flaw. It took over another hundred years to fully enfrancise African Americans. We're still working slavery's legacy and American can't be understood without following the scar through our past.

The Constitution is a political document. It's profound because it limits government. It establishes what government can't do.

And we should re-read it as FDR told us because all of American politics is a debate about these limits. The boundaries change and the locus of power moves between Local, State, and Federal; but all our politics is about these boundary lines and the Constitution is the piece of paper that sets the rules of the game.

But it's not an inspirational document. It's a guide for lawyers mostly. I'm sworn to uphold it, but I'm not inspired by it.

My inspiration is our Declaration of Independence,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
These are truths. This is more than paper. We believe in these truths. They are truths that endure without amendment, interpretation, debate, or any politics. There is more than paper here. There's a creator who endows and that's why FDR told use to re-read our Bibles too.

Execution video of Ronald Allen Schulz

On Fox Now and the reporter said it was too brutal to watch. I'd have evesdroped without a warrant, surveyed, waterboarded, or degraded anyone who I thought had information that would have helped save this guy. It's a brutal thing for the family to have on TV but I wonder if we need to show it for people to understand the people we fight.
The Islamic Army of Iraq claimed Ronald Allen Schulz, an American adviser, had been killed.

The video did not show the face of the victim, however, and it was impossible to identify him conclusively. The victim was kneeling with his back to the camera, with his hands tied behind his back and blindfolded with an Arab headdress when he was shot.

The videotaped killing showed the man being shot as he kneeled in an open, empty area of dirt. The video also showed Schulz's identity card.

A Blogger's life

Rev Scott Wells told me I'm an idiot, I let your comment go through Bill for the record. Don’t think this is a problem? This isn’t about mailng lists or games membership and development directors play. Your comment makes you look like an idiot.

And Freedom Folks kindly wrote, One note about Bill, he's spooky smart, don't turn your back on him.

Of course, sometimes an idiot can hit the nails on the head.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Crystallized fruit

Nick Cohen writing in Holidays in Hell. Search a little further down after the part on the Maldives, Sienna Miller, and Saddam (that's interesting story too).
THE EUPHORIC hopes for peace and freedom brought by the end of the Second World War were dead by Christmas 1948. The Iron Curtain had fallen across Eastern Europe trapping tens of millions behind it. Stalin clung to life and his purges rolled across Eurasia from the Mongolian steppe to the German plain.

In China, Chairman Mao was preparing to seize power and inflict a terror to match Stalin’s. In India, hundreds of thousands had died in violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Anti-colonial movements in Africa and Southeast Asia began the long wars against imperial powers.

Worse than conflict was the fear of nuclear war. The mushroom cloud from the Hiroshima bomb hung over the age.

In The Diplomats, the historian Geoffrey Moorhouse tells how a reporter on Washington DC radio responded to the crisis by phoning ambassadors in the American capital and asking what each would like for Christmas. He recorded their replies for a special programme on the future of the human race.

‘Peace throughout the world,’ the French Ambassador demanded. ‘Freedom for all people enslaved by imperialism,’ his Soviet counterpart countered.

And so it went on. Ambassadors asked for democracy for Christmas, an end to poverty, the banning of the atom bomb until at last the reporter reached Sir Oliver Franks, His Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States of America.

‘What do you want for Christmas, Sir Oliver?’

‘It’s very kind of you to ask,’ a polite voice replied. ‘I’d quite like a box of crystallized fruit.’

If peace and goodwill elude you, if no one brings tidings of comfort and joy, I hope that all readers of The Observer at least get a nice box of crystallized fruit on Christmas morning.
And me too.

Reading those spy books

Stuart Buck on NSA spying,
A lot of people were shocked, or at least pretended to be shocked, that since 2002, Bush has authorized the NSA to spy on a number of international calls made by Americans with close ties to Al Qaeda. Maybe it's the fiction that I tend to read, or maybe it's the books that I've read about the intelligence community, but I'd be shocked to find out that there was anything that the NSA's computers didn't monitor. That's not to say anything about whether such monitoring is appropriate; it's just a matter of what one expects.

NYT's Book sales and war

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) remarks via World Wide Standard,
As the New York Times reported, the President of the United States has authorized, after counseling with the Department of Justice and various legal authorities, as well as consulting with Congress on up to 12 occasions, the use of intercepted messages from the National Security Agency as part of our ongoing counterterrorism efforts. The New York Times suggested that this was a secret way to threaten the civil liberties of Americans. The fact is, as is now being revealed, Congress was consulted at least 12 times since September 11th about the President’s authorization of these interceptions of communications, interceptions which were not solely within the United States but were from known links to international terrorism in the United States and known links with international terrorism overseas.

Baar's Five and Dime, 1260 W. 103rd St, Chicago in December 1945

Pretty well stocked considering the times.

Christmas time means hard work for anyone in retail. I spent hours mopping and scrapping gum off the floors.

Amazed at anyone thinks Chicago should forgo Walmart; instead hoping little stores like my Grandfather's will return and prosper.

Suckered into knee-jerk reactions to sell a book

Captians Quarters on The FISA Act And The Definition Of 'US Persons'
As the New York Times undoubtedly discovered during its research, the NSA probably never broke the law at all, and certainly nothing uncovered in their article indicates any evidence that they did. Neither did President Bush in ordering the NSA to actually follow the law in aggressively pursuing the intelligence leads provided by their capture of terrorists in the field. The only real news that the Times provided is that the US didn't need the 9/11 Commission to tell it to use all the tools at its disposal -- and hence the angry speech given by the President this morning.

I don't blame him a bit for his anger. I suspect that many will be angry with the Times by Monday -- mostly for suckering them into foolish knee-jerk reactions.

Preachers and the Thirty Years War

Two interesting posts over at Architecture and Morality.

The first says ...because of political and cultural influences, Mainline Protestant (MP) churches will veer towards being either more catholic or more charismatic in nature.

And another The Thirty Years’ War and the Real War Today: Muslim vs. Muslim telling us the better historical analogy for today is not Vietnam but Europe's Thirty Year War from 1618-1648. A horrific war that left central Europe decimated taking centuries to recover from and then only to be plunged again into the great wars of the 20th century,
One-third of all the cultivated land in northern Germany was reduced to barrenness. Germany’s total population of 16,000,000 was reduced by armed conflict, murder, famine, disease, and emigration to less than 6,000,000. The war had lasted longer than the average expectancy of life in those times. Even when peace was signed the agony was not over. A whole generation of youth familiar only with violence and brutality, had grown to maturity without either secular or religious education. The population sank into ignorance and superstition from which even some of the highest among them were not free.

A more local example: during the war, a German pastor named Martin Rinkhart (1586 - 1649) buried 4,480 victims of the war alone, including his wife. Amazingly, he wrote the hymn “Now Thank We all Our God” during this time period.

Unitarian Church, Geneva, Illinois

A picture of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva's Church in a warmer season. We must have a foot of snow right now.

West Side agent and I were greeters last night. This structure was build in 1843 and heated with a coal stoves in the center of the church until the 1950s (I think; maybe it was the 1940's).

Teenagers would start the stoves on Saturday night and sleep inside the church so it would be warm for Sunday services. I was thinking of them last night.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No excuse for ignoring heroism

Fred Barnes writes A War Without Heroes? Only if you're reading the mainstream media.
The New York Times took an odd approach to the Paul Ray Smith case. The nearer the awarding of the Medal of Honor came, the less coverage the Smith case got. It was as if the Times didn't want President Bush to get any credit for honoring Smith.

The day after the White House event, the Times put a picture of Smith on page A16 with a brief caption. True, the Times had run two earlier stories about Smith, one in 2003, the other earlier this year. The first was headlined: "The Struggle for Iraq: Casualties; Medals for His Valor, Ashes for His Wife." The second said Smith would get the Medal of Honor.

The back-page treatment of the award ceremony infuriated the White House. "We keep hearing how the people opposed to the war are not against the troops but only against the president," an official said. "Man wins the highest medal this nation offers--and you know how rare that is--and the Times does not think that is worth a full story and on page one. The Medal of Honor is not about the president. It is about the troops."

The media have no excuse for ignoring heroism. "There's no dearth of opportunity there," says Di Rita. In Iraq and Afghanistan, American Marines alone have been awarded 8 Navy Crosses, 35 Silver Stars, 617 Bronze Stars with "V," 1,126 Bronze Stars, and 5,197 Purple Hearts.

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

Comrade Sanders in The Progressive

The Socialist Pary did call each other Comrade by the way. Still do as far as I know. And sings the Internationale at the end of the convention. So it's not a slur to call Sanders Comrade. (It just sounds 1930ish which is about where Sander's thinking is on public policy.)

Anyways, here's Comrade Sanders in The Progressive responding to this question,

Q: So what’s your message to progressives?


[Conclusion of Sander's answer] Why is it that two-thirds of white, rural men voted Republican? Why? That’s what we have to address. That’s crazy. These people are working longer and longer hours. They can’t afford to pay $3.50 for a gallon of gas. They’re losing their jobs. So why do they vote for President Bush? And the Republican Party? We’ve got to address this.

It’s very easy to make fun of George Bush, but that ain’t going to do it. What we have to do is knock on doors and go into communities where there are people who disagree with us on certain issues.

And we have to talk to them. They’re our friends. They’re our allies. They’re our co-workers. We can’t see them as enemies.

That’s easier said than done.

All over this country you have progressive communities like Madison and Burlington, but we’ve got to go well, well, well outside of those communities. We’ve got to go to the rural areas. We’ve got to go where a lot of working people are voting Republican.

We just can’t talk to each other. That’s too easy.

The crazy thing is many people vote based on beliefs, principles, and their analysis of politics.

The really crazy thing is not respecting that and having to lecture the progressives to please not consider people who might think liberating Iraq was good for the Iraqi people and American security, that abortion is murder, that same-sex marriage isn't a basic human right, that maybe putting Social Security into a personal account one can pass onto their kids is a good thing; aren't enemies.

There just thoughtful people who don't vote the narrow economic interest Comrade Sanders preceives for them.

The fact Sanders doesn't outline those certain issues is telling. Progressives simply can't talk abou them because they understand many Americans just disagree and they can't persaude them otherwise. They can't layout a progressive case that holds water with voters except in Burlington and Madison. So they're stuck in the hip communities.