Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hamid Taqvaee on the right to nuclear weapons

Maryam Namazie interviews Hamid Tagvaee of the
Worker-communist Party of Iran in this post titled: There is no ‘right’ to nuclear weapons.

Here's an interesting quote from Tagvaee on the West's cultural relativsim when it comes to non-Europeans.
Maryam Namazie: When it comes to the ‘third world’, you often see the people living there being given the same opinion as the government of that country whereas that wouldn’t be the case in the west. For example, if the British government has nuclear weapons, it doesn’t automatically mean that it has a right to them or that the British people agree with its having such weapons. Why does that happen, especially when it comes to political Islamic groups or the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Hamid Taqvaee: The problem is that public opinion in western countries or to be exact the media and the government in western countries, categorise people in the ‘Third World’ in this way. They want to make people believe that whatever happens there and whatever the regimes do there are what people there want. And automatically this implies that governments in the Middle East or in Third World countries are representing their own people. Add to this cultural relativism and you can see what is going on. As a result, they say that Iran is an Islamic country; whatever the Islamic Republic says is what people think and so automatically they conclude that the people of Iran support the Islamic Republic’s securing of nuclear weapons. But the real situation in this case and almost every political issue is the exact opposite. The people of Iran automatically oppose what the Islamic regime says and wants because the people of Iran despise this government. Their position on the nuclear issue is opposite of what the government says.

Arlene Jones to run for 37th ward Alderman

She writes Improving the West Side - my passion in life in The Austin Weekly News.
This is my final column. No, the major newspapers didn't offer me a better job, nor was my contract up and my editors came to their senses and chose not to renew it. No, I'm not leaving to "spend more time with my family." In fact, for the next couple of months, I'll see less and less of them.

Four years ago, I wanted to make a difference on the West Side. I ran for alderman of the 37th Ward. I lost.

I am again going to run for alderman of the 37th Ward. You see, all the aldermanic seats are now open, and you cannot have a race without runners. So I will not write this column while running.

When I lost four years ago, rather than retreat, I was given the opportunity to write this column. I was given this opportunity because I wrote "so many" letters to the editor. If the reporting seemed unfair or if events in Austin weren't being covered, I was quick to send an e-mail.
I've followed her columns and while I probably disagree with her on everything National, I always wanted to hear her thoughts for local problems and issues. Ideas like developing the old Brach's Factory into an entertainment district. Here's more from her column,
I have never been at a loss for words. In Chicago, there is never a dull moment when it comes to politics. And for the West Side, well, we get left out all the time, or the coverage is negative. So it was important for me to want to highlight issues right here in the community.

My very first column asked a basic question: "Why do you live in Austin?" Three and a half years later, it's still a valid question. Some were born into this community. Others like myself, moved here on purpose. We recognized the value in the housing stock. We saw lots of parks and churches. If you don't know the history of Austin as a community, it was never a hick town that just got incorporated into Chicago. Instead, it was a planned community, a suburb of Chicago at one time with Austin Town Hall being the center of the community.

Over the years, I have tried to keep this column at the forefront of where the West Side is today-hence my e-mail address of westside2day***yahoo.com. Now let me make it perfectly clear: The understanding that I have of this side of town was not by accident. There were many Westsiders who came before me and who paved the way for me to have the vision that I have. And I keep them in mind whenever I sit down to write. People like the late great West Side activist Nancy Jefferson.
For a Westsider Today, Jones has a feel for the history of the West Side, and how it's always changing. A little more,
If you want to get a perspective on the history of the black West Side, then Dr. Christopher Reed of Roosevelt University is the person to call. His book, Beyond Chicago's Black Metropolis: A History Of The West Side's First Century, 1837-1940, proves that we've been a presence on this side of town for more than 150 years. The question still remains what our presence will be on this side of town when the 200th anniversary rolls around.

I am leaving this column, but my voice will not be silent. Instead, you can hear me every Sunday night on WPNA 1490 AM from 10 p.m. to midnight. I also have my website, www.arlenejones.blogspot.com. There, you will be able to read my current opinions, and you can even reply. Lastly, starting Jan. 2 until Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. I will do the conference call Monday through Friday. So my voice just won't be in this column, but it will still be out here.

For the conference, call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance, so use your cell) and enter the access code: 806598#. I can host up to 96 people.

I'll leave you with my favorite African Proverb, "On the Day of Victory, No One Will be Tired."
As for the next 50 years and the presence of African Americans on the West Side, of course they'll be a presence and like everyone else on the West Side they'll be rolling further West.

Mik Ryko once wrote the old neigborhood is the place eveyone loves and is trying to leave. Move out West and you find yourself bumping in to all kinds of West Siders, and the talk always turns to how things have changed. Cairo's Deli on East and Roosevelt is gone now, and new hi-rise condo's are being built down the block. It's a different kind of Roosevelt road now for sure.

Whether that is victory or not, I don't now; but I can promise you no one on the West Side is ever tired for long. It's a restless place. In a good way (mostly). Everyone figuring out an angle to get ahead, improve their lot, and find their own little victory.

So good luck to Arlene Jones!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sowell: Alternatives to seriousness

Sowell years ago writing on Ford's pardon of Nixon.
To this day, President Ford seems not to understand what was so deeply wrong about his pardon of Richard Nixon. It offended the most fundamental principle that the Watergate impeachment process was all about --- that no one is above the law.

This is more than a catch phrase. It is what our whole system of government is about. It is what all our freedoms ultimately depend upon. You cannot have holders of power who are above the law and still have free citizens.

To throw the rule of law overboard because we were sick of hearing about Watergate -- and today Monica Lewinsky -- is an irresponsible self-indulgence. Many a diabetic may be sick of taking insulin, but what is the alternative?

Both with Nixon and with Clinton, we were not talking about people who happened to stray over the line. We all stray over the line sometimes. But that is very different from deliberately driving your tractor-trailer on the wrong side of the road and forcing everybody else out of your way.

Corrupting witnesses, concealing evidence, evading subpoenas, retaliating against "enemies," misusing the FBI --- these things are not straying over the line. They are driving the tractor-trailer of the presidency on the wrong side of the road. Nixon and Clinton both did it, but the issue is bigger than either or both of them.
Healing, bringing-us-together, had a price.... I don't think it was worth it.

Ben of Mesopotamia: Schaudenfraude (Or John Kerry Visits Iraq)

Check the picture of Kerry Ben's posted,
Ben of Mesopotamia: Schaudenfraude (Or John Kerry Visits Iraq)

Finally, the next morning, Senator Kerry ate chow at the Dining Facility. Normally when a Senator/Representative visits, he is joined by a contingent of soldiers/Marines/airmen from his home state. Despite the fact that the MP unit responsible for Green Zone security is an Army Reserve unit from Massachusetts, not a single soldier went to sit with him. (By contrast, Bill O'Reilly, host of that terrible shoutfest on Fox, had over 400 soldiers waiting in line to meet him on Saturday)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

FDR's meaning of Christmas

From Jon Meacham in today's WaPo,
Sixty-five Christmas Eves ago, on the South Portico in 1941, with Churchill at his side, FDR declared: "Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies . . . Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love and in God's care for us and all men everywhere."

For a nation at war, whatever our politics or our religion, it remains an ageless message.

Stephen Schwartz: Wahhabis or "Salafis"?

Stephen Schwartz writing in the Weekly Standard,
The Sunni terrorists in Iraq have worked even more linguistic magic on Western media, who have assigned them the title of "insurgents." But too much blood has been shed for Westerners to continue flattering Muslim extremists in this manner.

The Sunni murderers in Iraq are terrorists, not insurgents.

And they are Wahhabis, backed by Saudi Arabia, not pious "Salafis."

As George Orwell knew, the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their real names.
Also just finished Fouad Ajami's The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq . It hammered home for me that there was indeed a plan for Iraq after the war and we picked the wrong one: The State Dept and CIA's CPA instead of DoD's backing for Chalabi. Congress needs to read Ajami and call Bremer to some hearings.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More boneheadedness from Obama with Rezko

Clinton will clean Obama's clock with this stuff.

From today's Trib,
Political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko made a modest pitch to Sen. Barack Obama last year.Rezko recommended a 20-year-old student from Glenview for one of the coveted summer internships in Obama's Capitol Hill office.

The student got the job and spent five weeks in Washington, answering Obama's front office phone and logging constituent mail. The student was paid an $804 stipend--about $160 a week--for a position valued mostly for the experience it provides.
[***]
As the internship drew to a close in August 2005, the intern's father was cited in court records as an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged state government bribery scheme linked to Rezko. A news report about the court records identified him by name.

Obama's spokesman said Obama would not comment on the internship because he is spending the holidays with his family. But spokesman Robert Gibbs said the internship in no way contradicts Obama's previous statements that he has never done any favors for Rezko, given jobs to Rezko associates or been involved with Rezko "in any government activities of any sort."
Obama should just say it's the Chicago way.

xp Illinoiz

Friday, December 22, 2006

Masrour Barzani: For Iraqis, A Promise Is in Peril Baker-Hamilton Would Sell Out Democracy

Let's hope Democrats listin to Bazani instead. From WaPo,
Iraq's constitution should be treasured. Iraq's neighbors should not be allowed to violate our sovereignty. Democracy and federalism are the popularly chosen basis of the new Iraq. Never again should Kurdish wealth be stolen to finance genocide against the Kurdish people.

While Kurds welcome American troops into their homes, Baker-Hamilton proposes that the United States revise its policies to meet the demands of those firing at its soldiers. According to the study group, we are all part of "a problem" that needs fixing, and we are equally unworthy of America's protection.

Don't sell us out to our authoritarian neighbors and those who are terrorizing our communities. We agreed democratically to participate in this project because we were guaranteed the rights needed to protect our people. We Kurds are asking President Bush and America to remember the sacrifices we have made to keep your loved ones safe in Iraq. We are asking you to keep a promise where those before you have failed.

Al Qaeda Sends a Message to Democrats (how will Durbin and Obama respond?)

via Drudge from Brian Ross at ABC,
Al Qaeda has sent a message to leaders of the Democratic party that credit for the defeat of congressional Republicans belongs to the terrorists.

In a portion of the tape from al Qaeda No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri, made available only today, Zawahri says he has two messages for American Democrats.

"The first is that you aren't the ones who won the midterm elections, nor are the Republicans the ones who lost. Rather, the Mujahideen -- the Muslim Ummah's vanguard in Afghanistan and Iraq -- are the ones who won, and the American forces and their Crusader allies are the ones who lost," Zawahri said, according to a full transcript obtained by ABC News.

Zawahri calls on the Democrats to negotiate with him and Osama bin Laden, not others in the Islamic world who Zawahri says cannot help.

Links to Rezko and Alsammarae posts over at Illinoiz

Alsammarae's story right out of a novel. Here's some links to my posts on him over at Illinoiz

Alsammarae blog chatter

Alsammarae: he did it the Chicago way

and Alsammarae's on the run

Marathon Pundit on Obama, Rezko, and Fitzgerald

Marathon Pundit links a John Kass column on Obama and retaining US Attorney Fitzgerald. The Marathoner writes,
Kass and other members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board met with Illinois' junior senator last week. Kass asked if Obama--if he's elected president--would reappoint US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald

Now outside of the state, Fitzgerald is best known for his role in the "Plamegate" investigation. Here, Fitzgerald's name is associated with prosecutions that touch near the nerve center of the Daley political machine, as well as the administration of his fellow Democrat, Governor Rod Blagojevich. Fitzgerald goes after Republicans too, his office, pending appeals, successfully prosecuted former Governor George Ryan.

And what about Obama's property neighbor Tony Rezko? Fitzgerald's office is handling that case too.

Kass reports that Obama hedged on whether he'd re-appoint Fitzgerald. Of course, Mayor Daley, whose administration has been pummelled by Fitzgerald, wants Fitzgerald out yesterday.
There is a lot at stake now with Alsammarae out there on the run too,
Federal authorities in Chicago have expressed interest in Alsammarae's links to recently indicted businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a former top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich who won an Iraqi power plant contract while Alsammarae was electricity minister. The contract no longer is in effect.

Authorities here want to learn more about the deal because Rezko and Alsammarae know each other, and each has been accused of corruption, a source familiar with the investigation told the Sun-Times. Alsammarae and Rezko attended the Illinois Institute of Technology together in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Cheney talks; Wilson balks

from WAPO,
Vice President Cheney is willing to testify in the perjury and obstruction-of-justice trial of his former chief of staff that is scheduled to begin next month, according to defense lawyers and sources familiar with his plans.
from Fox,
Former ambassador Joseph Wilson asked a federal judge Wednesday not to force him to testify in the CIA leak case and accused former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of trying to harass him on the witness stand.
But Wilson's lawyer doesn't mind trying the case in the media. From MSNBC
A federal judge strongly admonished an attorney for former ambassador Joseph Wilson for her appearance yesterday on MSNBC's program "Hardball" where she predicted a jury can find I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby guilty of making false statements.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton writes in an opinion today, "the Court would not tolerate this case being tried in the media."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

NYT: Iran President Facing Revival of Students’ Ire

Nice the NYT noticing.

The protest, punctuated by shouts of “Death to the dictator,” was the first widely publicized outcry against Mr. Ahmadinejad, one that was reflected Friday in local elections, where voters turned out in droves to vote for his opponents.

The students’ complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president’s crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country.

Illinois GOP's future: Paul Froehlich's letter to the Trib

Representative Paul Froehlich's letter to the Trib. Thank you Representative Froehlich! Check for thoughts on it here, here, here, and here.
The Republican Party did not lose control of Congress alone in the 2006 election. In Illinois, the GOP also lost ground in the General Assembly--where it was already in the minority--and was completely shut out of statewide offices for the first time in generations. Demographic math makes it clear that Republicans in the blue state of Illinois will not regain majority party status until the GOP attracts a sizable segment of minority voters. It isn't happening at the moment, so the party has to change. The question is how?

I propose bringing back the traditional Republican emphasis on pursuing justice and providing equal opportunity. Lincoln said the Republican cause is "to elevate the condition of men, to lift the artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the path of laudable pursuits for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life."

The GOP has a relatively proud lineage as the party that ended slavery, gave black men the vote, and passed the 14th Amendment to protect against state violations of civil rights. By contrast, the Democratic Party opposed the Civil War amendments, enacted Jim Crow laws, and prevented a federal law against lynching.

Republicans cannot, however, rest on their laurels from previous centuries. Too many Republicans today do not have correcting injustice on their radar screens. We have other priorities nowadays than ensuring that all Americans have "an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life."

One barrier to attracting more non-white voters is the perception of Republican hostility to minorities. One cause for this perception is the fact that so many conservative Southern white Democrats who had opposed civil rights law became Republicans over the last 40 years. Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman spoke before the NAACP on July 14, 2005. He apologized for the Nixon Southern strategy to "benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Other things that reinforce the perception of GOP hostility to minorities are the following:

Blunt crusades against illegal immigrants and affirmative action, which are easily (mis)interpreted as racist.

A blind attachment to the death penalty, despite the high wrongful-conviction rate of minority defendants.

The lack of serious Republican effort (except for Ken Mehlman) to earn support from African-Americans.

Opposition or indifference to issues important to Latinos and African-Americans, such as rooting out racial profiling and closing the nation's biggest disparity in public education funding.

Immigration, like affirmative action, is an issue that must be addressed with care. Appeals to racial resentment and fears regarding either issue should be verboten. It's one thing to advocate better enforcement of our immigration laws; it's another to run campaign ads equating illegal immigrants with terrorists. Republican support from Latinos plummeted from 44 percent for Bush in 2004 to 26 percent this year.

Anyone who studies the issue recognizes that the death penalty needs serious reform. When Republicans resist reforms, such as videotaping interrogations and witness identification procedures in capital cases, they exhibit blindness to a status quo in Illinois that has been rife with errors.

Only those willfully blind to reality fail to recognize inequality and injustice in our nation. Median income has dropped in Illinois more than in any other state except Michigan, while the gap between rich and poor has grown. More and more jobs lack pensions and health coverage. Illinois has a greater proportion of children living in poverty than any other Midwestern state. Inner-city schools with the highest concentration of poor students tend to have the least-qualified teachers. Republicans need to make it a priority to address these problems. There is ample precedent for doing so.

The Declaration of Independence makes justice a priority when it states "all men are created equal" and that securing rights is the supreme purpose of government. (Justice means equals should be treated equally.) We pledge allegiance to a country "with liberty and justice for all." One purpose of the Constitution listed in the Preamble is to "establish justice."

When Republican leaders work on issues that matter to the groups whose support we seek, then we'll earn credibility with minorities who too often feel unwelcome in the party. The opportunity is there, but it will require recapturing the original vision of our party as we once again become champions for the oppressed, so we're not seen as protectors of the comfortable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Khaled Kasab Mahameed

From The Forward: Iran Denies Visa to an Arab Shoah Scholar
Khaled Kasab Mahameed waited until the very last moment, hoping that his visa would come through. A Muslim lawyer from the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, he had reserved a seat on an afternoon flight December 10 from Amman to Tehran, expecting to address Iran’s international conference on the Holocaust. His bag was packed. His wife and two children were ready to take him at 9:00 a.m. to the Jordanian border crossing.

But at 9:00 a.m., his hopes were dashed. In a phone call to the Iranian Embassy in Amman, a clerk informed him that there was no visa waiting for him. “I was so disappointed,” he said. “I sat depressed, and I waited an hour and called again. Then another hour and called again. In the end, they said Israelis don’t get visas.”
[***]
Unlike Western leaders who spoke out against dignifying the conference by attending, Mahameed saw an opportunity. He believes that if Arabs and Muslims don’t study the Holocaust, if they continue to deny it, then they will not be able to deal with the conflicts they face.

“It’s very important that they begin to study the significance of the Holocaust,” Mahameed said. “It affects relations between East and West, and it dictates policy regarding the Palestinians in particular.”
[***]
The secret to peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, according to Mahameed, depends on the Arabs and Muslims learning about the Holocaust — the subject of his lecture — and the Jews, in turn, getting over their fear.

“When you don’t understand the Holocaust, it hinders the peace process,” he said. “I wanted to go tell the Iranians that when you play down the Holocaust or deny it, you are directly hurting the Palestinian refugees who are in camps. By denying it, they are making the Jewish people feel persecuted — which doesn’t allow options for peace to develop.”
[***]
Like all messengers, Mahameed has not had an easy time. He stood at Kalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem on Auschwitz Remembrance Day last January, and at a conference held by controversial Arab Israeli lawmaker Azmi Bishara at which he distributed pamphlets about the Holocaust that he printed with his own money.

“People get angry and say, ‘No, I don’t want it,’” he said. He sometimes gets ugly comments on his Arabic-language Holocaust Web site. Once, he said, a Hamas activist threatened his life. Mahameed managed to convince him to give up firing Qassam rockets.

Mahameed remains optimistic. “Just give me two months, and I can make peace here,” he said. “You laugh. I’m serious.”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Peter Francis Geraci

It's hard to resist.

Like Bert Weinman or Celozzi Ettelson, the name's just part of a Chicago insomniac's heritage. Peter belongs to the ages.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Omran Salman on The Poisonous Report

Translated by MEMRI from AAFAQ writing on the Iraq Study Group report,
"Here lies the essence of this whole report. The price is to completely abandon the spreading of democracy in the Middle East, and to begin a dialogue with the dictatorial regimes of Damascus and Tehran.

"In other word, the cost of bringing the Syrians and Iranians to the negotiating table on Iraq and of making them participate in finding a solution to its crisis is to grant them the honor of partnership in finding a solution - while they are conspiring and allowing militants and weapons to pass through into Iraq.
ht Regime Change Iran

David Horowitz and Thomas Klocek to speak at DePaul on academic freedom in January

via Marathon Pundit,
The DePaul Conservative Alliance is sponsoring an event that will take place on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus that is bringing well-known author and conservative thinker David Horowitz, fired DePaul professor and victim of DePaul political correctness run-amok Thomas Klocek, and DePaul math professor Jonathan Cohen to speak about academic freedom on campus. Or perhaps the topic should be the lack of academic freedom on campus.
I'll try and be there too.

Photos of Student Protesters interrupting Ahmadinejad: Fascist President: You do not belong here!

Over at Regime Change Iran and The Spirit of Man.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes : Why do you ask me these questions at five o'clock?

Great... just great....
Is al Qaeda a Sunni organization, or Shi'ite?

The question proved nettlesome for Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, incoming Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"Predominantly -- probably Shi'ite," he said in a recent interview with Congressional Quarterly, a periodical that covers political and legislative issues in Congress.

Unfortunately for Reyes, the al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation.

In fact, U.S. officials blame al Qaeda's former leader in Iraq, the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi, for the surge in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites.
[***]
Asked to describe the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Congressional Quarterly said Reyes responded: "Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah," and then said, "Why do you ask me these questions at five o'clock?"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Iraq Study Group and Ordering Civilians to serve in Iraq

The Iraq Study Group tells us,

With the situation in Iraq "grave and deteriorating," the United States must begin the process of shifting troops out of the country, members of a bipartisan panel said Wednesday. But at the same time, the group recommended, the Bush administration must make sure that it has sufficient civilian personnel in Iraq -- if necessary, by ordering some employees to serve there.

Well, I've made the Best qualified list for all sorts of Civilian Jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan and I never get selected. My latest status-tracking report on my applications above. The guy at the Army Corps of Engineers told me it's very competitive for jobs other then Engineers and they have no problem filling positions.

I made the Best Qualified list a few years ago from hundreds who applied for audit jobs with the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction. It was something like 400 applications whittled down to twenty and then five selected. I made the list of twenty.

I feel like my contribution to the war effort is setting the bottom-of-the-barrel so low Uncle Sam doesn't have to reach that far. No idea where the ISG is coming from here.

Obama: Hospitals Terrorize the Uninsured

How to Get a US Senator via Rich Miller's Capital Fax.

I think our Senator's been up for graps for some time now.

Some of the guys Baker - Hamilton would have us negotiate with

Via Yahoo News...
Palestinian gunmen killed three young children of a senior Palestinian intelligence officer Monday, pumping dozens of bullets into their car as it passed through a street crowded with schoolchildren — in an apparent botched assassination attempt that could ignite widespread factional fighting.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the Islamic militant Hamas group denounced the drive-by attack, which left the children's schoolbags and a small plastic bag with a sandwich covered in blood. However, senior officials in the intelligence service, which is allied with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party, blamed Hamas for the shooting.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

COCKALORUM: Another signifcant step

COCKALORUM: Another signifcant step

Some good news on sharing Oil Revenues in Iraq.

Iraq, Rumsfeld, and plans

It wasn't for lack of plans: Jed Babbin on Rumsfeld,
Few know that in early 2003 - a month or more before the Iraq invasion - President Bush was presented with two plans for post-war Iraq. The first, written by CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided for a long occupation of Iraq and the nation-building that the president renounced in his 2000 campaign. The second, a Pentagon plan authored by Rumsfeld's team, provided for the establishment of a provisional government before the invasion and American withdrawal within months of Saddam's overthrow. The president, convinced by Powell that "if you break it, you own it", chose the Powell-Tenet plan and ordered Rumsfeld to carry it out.

When Baghdad fell, after the brief tenure of Gen. Jay Garner, the president appointed L. Paul Bremer III to govern Iraq under Rumsfeld's direction. But Bremer proved to be a loose cannon, endlessly circling around from Powell to Rice to the president to get permission to do whatever Rumsfeld didn't agree with. One Pentagon official involved closely told me Bremer's tenure was disastrous because of his continuing reliance on the group surrounding Adnan Pachachi, an old-time Sunni whose persuasion of Bremer to leave Sunni militants alone was one of the principal reasons the Sunni insurgency was able to gain strength. Bremer's decisions to disband the Iraqi army and delay the outlay of reconstruction funds alienated Iraqis almost completely. At about that time, the media began contriving the myths of Rumsfeld and Iraq.

Apocalypto

The Buck Stops here reviews Apocalypto.

I'm sticking with Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney flicks.

Al Zahraa TV on Iraqi's Shia: Defend your houses by killing them

The Telegraph via The Belmont Club,
For coalition commanders in Iraq, however, the most sinister aspect of his broadcasts is not the bile directed at them but the equally venomous ticker-tape that runs at the bottom of the screen. "Chase the Shias from neighbourhood to neighbourhood," it urges. "Eat them for lunch before they eat you for dinner. Defend your houses by killing them."
Here's President Talibani on the Iraqi Study Group report and President Bush,
“If you read this report, one would think that it is written for a young, small colony that they are imposing these conditions on,” Mr. Talabani said. “We are a sovereign country.”
[***]
“I believe that President George Bush is a brave and committed man and he is adamant to support the Iraqi government until they've reached success,” he said. He said setting conditions was “an insult to the people of Iraq.”
I pray Talibani is right.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Shia Revival

Finished Vali Nasr's The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future and found it an excellent short read on the differences between Shia and Sunni variants of Islam. An Amazon reviewer writes,
By creating the first Shiite-led state in the Arab world since the rise of Islam, we have ignited hopes among the region's 150 million Shiites. Yet, our policy still operates under the old assumptions of Sunni dominance.

It never fails that actions often lead to unintended consequences. In this case, however, Nasr clearly lays out a case that there will be no quick fixes.
I don't think igniting the hopes such a bad thing. I did reinforce my feeling that much of what we Americans know of Islam and the Arab world is shaped by a Sunni prejudice fostered by Saudi Arabia and Aramco going well back into the 1950s.

Also, The Belmont Club on al-Zarqawi's feelings about the Shia Revival,
An interview with al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, shortly before he was killed by a US bomb, shows he hated Iraqi Shi'ites more than Americans. Hated them so much he was willing to start a war with the Shi'ites in the hope that the resulting conflagration would burn the Americans out. "

Jimmy Carter, Rwanda, Israel, and wanton brutality

Romeo Dallaire in Shake Hands with the Devil quoting from Shaharyar Khan's The Shallow Graves of Rwanda,
Khan had been in Afghanistan during the worst of Soviet and mujahedeen conflict. As a child he had lived through the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1947. In his book he wrote, "The fact is that never in living history has such wanton brutality been inflicted by human beings on their fellow creatures [as in Rwanda]... even the killing fields of Cambodia and Bosnia pale before the gruesome, awful depravity of massacres in Rwanda." He chose one example from among many other to make his point. "The Interahamwe made a habit of killing young Tutsi children, in front of their parents, by first cutting off one arm, then the other. They would then gash the neck with a machete to bleed the child slowly to death but, while they were still alive, they would cut off the private parts and throw them at the faces of the terrified parents, who would then be murdered with slightly greater dispatch." Khan was wrong when he wrote that the veterans of the genocide had become hardened to such things. We were simply putting off our feelings until later. --p462
How empty and unfeeling Jimmy Carter must seem to Rwandans today.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jimmy Carter on Israel and Rwanda

About 800,000 to a million people butchered in Rwanda over three months in 1994 mostly with machetes, and I don't recall Carter saying much about it. And I don't recall him saying much about Bosnia. But we get judgement on Israel which Dershowitz rightly calls an obscenity. Leave us along President Carter.. please go...

From HardBall via Alan Dershowitz.
SHUSTER: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re back with the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. His new book is called “Palestine: Peace: Not Apartheid.” President Carter, why did you use the word ‘apartheid‘ in the book‘s title?

CARTER: Let‘s look at the entire title, if you don‘t mind. The first word is Palestine, which involves the land that belongs to the Palestinians, not the Israelis. I didn‘t refer to Israel, because there‘s no semblance of anything relating to apartheid within the nation of Israel.

And I also emphasized the word ‘not‘ -- that is, peace, and not apartheid. That is what I hope to accomplish with this book, is sort of move to that goal. But there‘s no doubt that within the Occupied Territories—Palestinian land—that there is a horrendous example of apartheid. The occupation of Palestinian land, the confiscation of that land that doesn‘t belong to Israel, the building of settlements on it, the colonization of that land, and then the connection of those isolated but multiple settlements—more than 200 of them—with each other by highways, on which Palestinians can‘t travel and quite often where Palestinians cannot even cross.

So the persecution of the Palestinians now, under the occupying territories—under the occupation forces—is one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know. And I think it‘s—

SHUSTER: Even worse, though, than a place like Rwanda?

CARTER: Yes. I think—yes. You mean, now?

SHUSTER: Yes.

CARTER: Yes.

SHUSTER: The oppression now of the Israelis—of the Palestinians by the Israelis is worse than the situation in Africa like the oppression of Rwanda and the civil war?

CARTER: I‘m not going back into ancient history about Rwanda, but right now, the persecution of the Palestinians is one of the worst examples of human rights abuse I know, because the Palestinians—

SHUSTER: You‘re talking about right now, you‘re not talking about say, a few years ago.

CARTER: I‘m not talking about ancient history, no.

SHUSTER: Rwanda wasn‘t ancient history; it was just a few years ago.

CARTER: You can talk about Rwanda if you want to. I want to talk about Palestine. What is being done to the Palestinians now is horrendous in their own territory, by the occupying powers, which is Israel.

They‘re taken away all the basic human rights of the Palestinians, as was done in South Africa against the blacks. And I make it very plain in this book that the apartheid is not based on racism, as it was in South Africa. But it‘s based on the desire, of a minority of Israelis to acquire land that belongs to the Palestinians and to retain that land, and then to exclude the Palestinians from their own property
and subjugate them, so that they can‘t arise and demonstrate their disapproval of being robbed of their own property. That‘s what‘s happening in the West Bank.

And the people in this country, in America, never know about this, they never discuss this, there‘s no debate about it, there‘s no criticism of Israel in this country. And in Israel, there is an intense debate about the issues in this book. In this country, no.

Technical Mujahid, a New Periodic Magazine Related to Technology and Internet Security Published by al-Fajr Information Center

Jihadist Geeks have a new Journal. Via CENTCOM's what terrorists are saying.
Another article, The Last Card: We Need it in their Homeland, written by a member of the information office of the Islamic Army in Iraq, like the editorial contained in the magazine and an introductory message, emphasizes the great purpose of jihad in the information sector. This front is determined by the author to be “a main pillar in the battle of Islam against the Crusaders and the polytheist belief”. To this end, advertisements for the most recent Juba sniper video from the Islamic Army in Iraq and a news caption about its release on DVDs in Iraq, is used as an example.

For future issues, the editors urge members of the jihadist Internet community to submit articles in the field of technology for publishing. They write: “My kind, technical Mujahid brother, the magnitude of responsibility which is placed upon you is equal to what you know in the regard of information. Do not underestimate anything that you know; perhaps a small article that you write and publish can benefit one Mujahid in the Cause of Allah or can protect a brother of yours in Allah. This way you will gain the great reward with the permission of Allah”.
Except their sniper videos are the real thing and we're the targets.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

President Bush meets with Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

I tire of folks who tell me the United States is waging war against Muslims, instead waging a war as allies of Muslims; who also do a good deal of the dying.

Bush met in the White House Tuesday with Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Here's the press release (HT CENTCOM) and some quotes on how the revolutionists sees the revolution going,
The Iraqi situation has been subjected to a great deal of defamation, and the true picture is not being presented in order to show a dark side of what's happening in Iraq. We see the attempts to defame and distort the situation in Iraq not taking into consideration the democratic steps that that country has taken, writing the constitution and establishing a state that depends heavily on the constitution, that it is unified and that it is strong. There are attempts to show the sectarian strife in an attempt to weaken the position in Iraq.

The U.S. interests, the Iraqi interests, the regional interests, they are all linked. Therefore, it is very important when we deal with this issue, we look at the interests of the Iraqi people. If we don't, this whole issue could backfire and could harm the interests of the region, the United States, and Iraq, as well.

Therefore, we believe that the Iraqi issue should be solved by the Iraqis with the help of friends everywhere. But we reject any attempts to have a regional or international role in solving the Iraqi issue. We cannot bypass the political process. Iraq should be in a position to solve Iraqi problems. We welcome any effort that could enhance the democratic reality in Iraq and protect the constitutional role of that state.

We have gone a long way to establish a democratic and pluralistic society in Iraq. We have given a great deal of sacrifice to achieving the objective. We cherish all the sacrifices that took place for the liberation and the freedom of Iraq, sacrifices by the Iraqi people, as well as friendly nations, and on top of that list, sacrifices by the Americans. We have now an elected government in Iraq, a government that is so determined to combat both violence and terror, a government that it is -- strongly believes in the unity of that government and of that country and the society, a government that deals and will deal with all the sources of terrorism regardless where they come from.

We will work very hard and seek all forms of cooperation at the international level and the regional level in order to defeat terrorism that it is trying to use Iraq as a base in order to sabotage the future of that nation.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for allowing me this opportunity to meet with you. I would like to take this opportunity also to thank the American people and their sympathy toward Iraq, those who helped Iraq to get rid of a brutal dictatorship and to enjoy freedom and liberties. [Baar's emphasis]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rt. Hon Ann Clwyd MP: Bring back Saddam" ...? Human Rights in Iraq and Beyond

Concluding comments to a speech that should be read in full. Via Labour Friends of Iraq.

Speech by the Rt. Hon Ann Clwyd MP on the occasion of the
Carolyn A. Wilson Lecture 2006

"Bring back Saddam" ...? Human Rights in Iraq and Beyond'
Wellesley College
15 November 2006
So, where do we go from here?

We have acted in the Balkans, in Sierra Leone, in East Timor, in the Congo . . . . and in Iraq.

Many of you are probably wondering, however, whether, knowing what I do today, with Iraq blighted by sectarian division and continued bloodshed, I would have still supported military action in Iraq.

Was life under Saddam, better than it is now in Iraq now, and better than it will be in future?

The post-liberation phase did not exactly turn out as we hoped. There were many mistakes made. I regret particularly that the promotion of human rights was not more central to our strategy.

But too much criticism is levied at those of us who supported the action in Iraq.

Because by acting, we were to a large extent, enforcing up to 20 UN Security Council Resolutions, that had been broken over many, many years.

The world had to show that such abuse will not be tolerated.

I cannot emphasise too strongly the depravity of this regime.

And let us not forget the mistakes of those who refused to get involved. Those who were blinded by short-term economic and political interests. Those who were in Saddam’s pocket.

So yes, I remain thankful for Saddam’s downfall.

And Iraq won’t always be the way it is now. It will get better.

Nation-building is always a long-term exercise, a continuing and evolving process. Look at Kosovo, Afghanistan and East Timor – or further back in history, the reconstruction of Germany and Japan after the Second World War.

So I believe that the recovery from the legacy of Saddam will take time, but it will happen.

For much of my political life, I have gone against the grain.

Deciding whether, when, and how to act, entails making some hard and sometimes very uncomfortable choices.

Sometimes to end violence, force has to be used.

Sometimes to protect the sanctity of human life, lives are lost.

And, if the mistakes made in Iraq, lead to the international community ignoring the need for humanitarian intervention in the future, great suffering will result. The world will become a more dangerous place for all of us.

We cannot duck these issues.

As Winston Churchill said:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

I appeal to you to remember these words throughout your lives. Don’t be frightened to take a stand.

Believe me, it is the true measure of our humanity.

The Independent: Disembowelled, then torn apart: The price of daring to teach girls

The Independent via Power Line, Gay Patriot, and Blackfive
The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.

Mr Halim was one of four teachers killed in rapid succession by the Islamists at Ghazni, a strategic point on the routes from Kabul to the south and east which has become the scene of fierce clashes between the Taliban and US and Afghan forces.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rezko, Alsammarea and fleecing our Iraqi Allies

I wondered about a Rezko connection to Alsammarae. Looks like Fitzgerald wondered too. Via the ST (isn't there another paper in Chicago? Why is the ST the first paper I link to now?)
Federal authorities are investigating an Iraqi power plant deal involving Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a former top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich charged with defrauding Illinois taxpayers.

Investigators want to talk to Iraq's jailed former electricity minister, Aiham Alsammarae, about how Rezko landed the potentially lucrative contract, a source familiar with the probe told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Alsammarae, who holds dual U.S.-Iraqi citizenship and has a house in Oak Brook, helped Rezko get the deal, another source said.

Rezko and others in the venture were to own the plant and sell electricity back to the Iraqis, but the Iraqi government still was to pay a substantial portion of construction costs, that source added.
xp Illinoiz

Maryam Namazie: 7 women at risk of stoning

Namazie's link is to AI's petition.
Maryam Namazie: 7 women at risk of stoning: "7 women are at risk of imminent execution by stoning in Iran. Sign the petition against it by clicking here.

This outrage has to be stopped now!"

B16: ...the inalienable rights of the human person, especially freedom.

Neuhaus writing on Bendict XVI's visit to Turkey.
During his days in Turkey, all the diplomatic niceties were observed, but Benedict did not back away even 1 inch from the challenge he raised at Regensburg. On the contrary, he repeatedly asserted that religion must repudiate violence, and underscored the duty of states to protect religious freedom.

The last point is a very touchy issue in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey, where Christians are less than one half of 1% of the population. Despite all the attention to Christian-Muslim relations, the chief purpose of the Pope's trip was to express solidarity with Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople and the symbolic leader of the world's 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians. Confined by the Turkish government to a small area of Istanbul called the Phanar, the ecumenical patriarchate is under siege and denied the most elementary rights to own property or conduct its own ministries.

Contrary to some media reports, notably in The New York Times, the Pope did not bless Turkey's admission to the European Union. Rather, he and Bartholomew issued a joint statement that such admission must be conditioned upon respect for "the inalienable rights of the human person, especially freedom. In every step toward unification, minorities must be respected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion."

So was the visit to Turkey a success? If success is measured by clarifying the challenge of radical Islam and expressing solidarity with religious minorities under Islamic rule, the answer is certainly Yes.
xp Pfarrer Streccius

Friday, December 01, 2006

Waleed Hassan RIP

From The Scotsman via Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
ONE of Iraq's best known TV satirists was shot dead on his way to work yesterday.

Waleed Hassan's Caricature show was unmissable for Iraqis seeking a release in laughter from the blood and chaos around them. He poked fun at sectarian violence, bickering politicians, the US forces and power blackouts.
[***]
Waleed Hassan, a Shiite in his 40s, was one of five actors in Caricature. Iraqis weary of the tumult around them have turned to the show to watch the cast portray policemen taking bribes and government officials whose main goal in life is to line their own pockets then leave the country.

In one episode, Hassan said: "Iraqi policemen in a convoy were firing in the air in order to make their way through my neighbourhood yesterday, and they used more ammunition than the Russians did to break the siege on Stalingrad."

For fan Faris Naeem, 35, Hassan's killing was heartbreaking.

"The assassination of this actor is another sign of Iraq's chaos. The criminals who are targeting actors, athletes and other public figures want to keep the blood flowing over any sign of humanity and culture," said Mr Naeem, owner of a TV repair shop in Baghdad.

...once the heads have ripened. When it's harvesting time...

Saudi government-appointed executioner for Mecca, Abdallah Al-Bishi interviewed on Lebanese LBC TV on November 4, 2006.
Reporter: "This is the most renowned executioner in Saudi Arabia, Abdallah Bin Sa'id Al-Bishi, who carries out the executions. His sword delineates the border between seriousness and play. There is no negotiating with him once the heads have ripened. When it's harvesting time, he is the most suited for the job."

Abdallah Al-Bishi: "I started to work in this field after the death of my father - about a week or 10 days after his death, in 1412 [1991-92]. I was surprised that the people who supervise this field summoned me, saying I had a mission. Allah be praised. Of course, I did not have swords or anything back then, but I used the swords of my father, may he rest in peace, and carried out the execution. My first mission was to execute three people."

Reporter: "Abu Bader's swords have cut off a hundred heads and more. His eldest son, Badr, is training in the same profession. He inherited this profession from his father, Sa'id Al-Bishi. He remembers how, when still a small boy, he accompanied him to the beheading of a criminal in Mecca. That sight, Abu Badr says, was the turning point in his life."

continue reading here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Islam and Women's rights: Today it is the Right that has latched on to women's rights.

Pamerla Bone writing in The Austrialian about a conference in New York of Muslim Women you won't find covered in our MSM. via Normsblog
Maryam Namazie, a British-based human rights activist, said recently: "Debating the issue of women's rights in an Islamic context is a prescription for inaction and passivity, in the face of the oppression of millions of women struggling and resisting in Britain, the Middle East and elsewhere. Anywhere they (Islamists) have power, to be a woman is a crime."

Namazie is of the Left. She is the director of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran's International Relations Committee and has been named British secularist of the year. But in general, she notes, the Left, the traditional defender of human rights, is silent about the oppression of Muslim women. The reasons are that political Islam is seen as anti-imperialist, racism is these days much worse than sexism and minorities are automatically to be supported. (Some minority; Islamism is the strongest and fastest-growing ideology in the world.) Change must come from within, say the good liberals. Strangely, no one said that about South Africa's apartheid system.

Today it is the Right that has latched on to women's rights. John Howard was an unlikely feminist until various sheiks began expounding their theories about women's role in society. It was only when Osama bin Laden became a threat that George W. Bush started talking about the freedom of Afghan women. No one cared about the Taliban when all they were doing was oppressing the female half of the population.

Given that a half-billion Muslim women are not going to abandon their faith, the only way they can be liberated is for Islam and women's rights to be reconciled. That is why all power and support - and maximum publicity - should be given to Muslim women reformers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Flopping Aces - Backup: Getting The News From The Enemy, Update III

Flopping Aces - Backup: Getting The News From The Enemy, Update III

Long but fascinating post on the non-immolation of six Sunnis by a Shia mob. It's hoax played on the AP it seems.

Archbishop Ncube: Zimbabwe is not a nation at war

More on Zimbabwe via Catholic News Service with a HT to Belmont Club,
Archbishop Ncube, who was in London to raise funds for an AIDS charity, blamed the crisis on the mismanagement of the country under Mugabe over the last seven years.

"Zimbabwe is not a nation at war," Archbishop Ncube said. "It used to be able to feed itself and its neighbors. Zimbabwe used to have one of the highest life-expectancy rates in Africa.

"And these figures cannot just be blamed on AIDS," he added.

He said the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front government, or Zanu-PF, was not investing in medicine to treat AIDS because it was "more interested in importing military aircraft from China than protecting (the) lives of its people."

"We remain in the grip of a dictator. ... We cannot compete for attention in a world fixated by events in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan and elsewhere. Yet we need the international community to maintain pressure on Zanu-PF now as much as ever before," he said.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

l’Humanité interviews Iraqi Minister Minister of Science and Technology Raïd Fahmi

Raïd Fahmi is Iraq's Minister of Science and Technology, and a member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist party. The French Communist daily l’Humanité interviewed and the English translation available here. HT to Labour Friends of Iraq.
l’Humanité: How does the Iraqi government, with its avowed objective of ending the occupation, intend to achieve the departure of foreign troops in light of the fact that the United States refuses to give the least schedule for withdrawal? It’s rumoured that major American military bases have been built and will endure, even in the event of the departure of military forces. Furthermore, it’s difficult to imagine the United States withdrawing purely and simply from the region.

Raïd Fahmi: Regarding the withdrawal of military forces, the Iraqi government’s approach is quite clear. We think that it’s not possible to call for an immediate withdrawal. The country is united on this front. Even political forces from the Sunnite community are firmly opposed to immediate withdrawal of the multinational forces, for reasons of national security. But there is also a large majority of the population who agree that it’s impossible to call for an unmodified continuation of the presence of multinational forces. These troops are here by virtue of UN resolutions 1637 and 1546 as well as a number of letters exchanged between two former Prime Ministers: Allaoui et Al Jaafari. We have publicly expressed the fact that we are no longer satisfied with these conditions today. Furthermore, negotiations are unde way with the multinational forces to review their conditions and their presence, and in particular, their authority, and their relationship with each other and with the Iraqi forces. The Iraqi government recommends that the Iraqi armed forces be primarily responsible for the country’s security. If the Iraqi forces need support from the multinational forces, it should be the Iraqis who ask for help, rather than the current situation where there are limits and constraints imposed on them by virtue of the above-mentioned resolutions. This should be formalized when the question of the authority of the multinational forces will be discussed in December. Nevertheless, this will not provide a definitive response with regards to the withdrawal date of the multinational forces. The principle of a withdrawal schedule has been accepted by the government. But this schedule has two prerequisites. We must establish a schedule for developing the capacities of Iraqi military forces, for increasing such capacities, and for the gradual transfer to the Iraqi forces of security files pertaining to the various Iraqi provinces. Similarly, the timing of the withdrawal of the multinational forces must be accelerated. This dual calendar should provide an acceptable solution for the population and will correspond to our desire to establish a withdrawal plan for foreign armies in Iraq.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Caroline Glick: The Gemayel Warning

Caroline Glick on the Gemayel Warning.
The Democratic Party's victory in the November 7 Congressional elections convinced Iran and Syria that they are on the verge of a great victory against the US in Iraq. Iranian and Syrian jubilation is well founded in light of the Democratic leadership's near unanimous calls for the US to withdraw its forces in Iraq; Bush's firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his appointment of his father's CIA director Robert Gates to replace him; and Bush's praise for the Congressionally mandated Iraq Study Group charged with revisiting US strategy in Iraq, which is being co-chaired by his father's secretary of state James Baker III.

Although his committee has yet to formally submit its recommendations, Baker made clear that he will recommend that the administration negotiate a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq with Iran and Syria. That is, he is putting together a strategy not for victory, but for defeat.

Baker fervently believes that US foreign policy should revolve around being bad to its friends and good to its enemies. Consequently he thinks that the US can avoid the humiliation of the defeat he proposes by buying off Syria and Iran, the forces behind most of the violence, instability, subversion and terror in Iraq. If the US accepts their conditions, they will temporarily cease their attacks to enable a US retreat that will look only mildly humiliating to the television viewers back home.
[***]
Just as Israelis and American Jews both bitterly recall Baker's acrimonious and degrading treatment during his tenure as secretary of state, so the Syrians and Iranians take comfort from his record. They remember Baker as the man who accepted the 1989 Taif Accord that ended the Syrian-sponsored Lebanese civil war by sacrificing Lebanese sovereignty to Assadian fascist occupation in the name of regional stability.

Then too, Baker is remembered as the man who abandoned Iraq's Shi'ites to their fate at the hands of Saddam after the US failed to assist them in their post-Gulf War rebellion which the US itself had encouraged. Finally, no doubt they noticed that Baker's law firm Baker-Botts is representing the Saudi government in the 9/11 victims' lawsuit against the kingdom.

BAKER'S CURRENT dealings with Iran and Syria parallel closely Israel's talks with the Palestinians in the lead-up to its withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria last year. As Baker does today, at the time Israel appealed to the Palestinians to restrain themselves temporarily to enable an orderly Israeli surrender of the territories.

Litvinenko's statement: May God forgive you

I knew the US would be tested after the elections with bombings in Iraq, but Litvinenko's and Gemayel's murders creating a perfect storm.

Here's Litvinenko's final testament via IHT,
But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.

You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.

You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women.

You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Abizad on the long war and America's will

Abizad from Reuters via Weekly Standard's blog,
The top U.S. general in the Middle East said on Friday that if the world does not find a way to stem the rise of Islamic militancy, it will face a third world war.

Army Gen. John Abizaid compared the rise of militant ideologies, such as the force driving al Qaeda, to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s that set the stage for World War Two.

"If we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we'll go through World War Three tomorrow," Abizaid said in a speech titled "The Long War," at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, outside Boston.

If not stopped, Abizaid said extremists would be allowed to "gain an advantage, to gain a safe haven, to develop weapons of mass destruction, to develop a national place from which to operate. And I think that the dangers associated with that are just too great to comprehend."

Abizaid said the world faces three major hurdles in stabilizing the Middle East region: Easing Arab-Israeli tensions, stemming the spread of militant extremism, and dealing with Iran, which Washington has accused of seeking to develop nuclear bombs.

"Where these three problems come together happens to come in a place known as Iraq," said Abizaid, who earlier in the week warned Congress against seeking a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from the country that is wracked by insurgent and sectarian violence.

"The sacrifice that is necessary to stabilize Iraq, in my view, must be sustained in order for the region itself to become more resilient," Abizaid said.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Zimbabwe: This cull is not an act of God.

From the Independent via NormsBlog,
The World Health Organisation has plotted this precipitous fall in women's mortality in the former British colony from 65, little more than a decade ago, to today's low. Speaking privately, WHO officials admitted to The Independent that the real number may be as low as 30, as the present figures are based on data collected two years ago.

The reasons for this plunge are several. Zimbabwe has found itself at the nexus of an Aids pandemic, a food crisis and an economic meltdown that is killing an estimated 3,500 people every week. That figure is more than those dying in Iraq, Darfur or Lebanon. In war-torn Afghanistan, where women's plight has received global attention, life expectancy is still above 40.

This cull is not an act of God. It is a catastrophe aggravated by the ruthless, kleptocratic reign of Robert Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980. The Mugabe regime has succeeded in turning a country once fêted as the breadbasket of Africa into a famished and demoralised land deserted by its men of working age, with its women left to die a silent death.
And from Micahael Quinlin on the shift in meaning of the word Cull.
So cull has shifted sense from “selection of the best” to “mass disposal”. Not a good move, you may feel.
Well, the new meaing fits this story.... a mass disposal this is. A disposal we in the west indifferent too, and no act of the Gods for sure.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gen. Abazid to Sen. Clinton: ...despair is not a method

Wildwestjoker over at Donald Rumsfeld Fan Club,

I think people, particularly pontificating senators who grandstand in hearings, may eventually find that some generals have a tendency to say what they don't want to hear. Here everyone has assumed General Abizaid was told to shut up by Rumsfeld the General Hater, but here the Centcomm Commander hits the old girl right between the eyes with the equivalent of "Why don't you shut up?" in his testimony today:

Clinton: "Hope is not a method. We've had testimony now for four years about what 'must be done' -- and it doesn't get done."

Centcomm Commander: "I would also say that despair is not a method."

Perhaps this stupid canard that Rumsfeld defied his generals and refused (as opposed to being unable) to put more troops in the field will finally get clarified. There may have been a window shortly after the takedown when more forces could have been introduced, but to what end? Nobody will ever know just exactly how much the Abu Ghraib scandal, which was completely over and participants charged before it was ever reported, damaged our ability to be more aggressive because of the political nightmare that ensued. I think time will reveal that we have been doing just about as much as we dare while waiting for political control to solidify in Iraq. It hasn't been the lack of numbers we've suffered from, but the lack of determined aggression. It hasn't been politically tenable for us to be more aggressive with the
timing of Abu Ghraib.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ruth Marcus on Pelosi, Murtha, and Abscam

From Marcus's column in todays WAPO: Unfit for Majority Leader,
Two other congressmen in on the deal "do expect to be taken care of," the lawmaker says. But for the time being -- and he says repeatedly that he might change his mind and take money down the road -- he'd rather trade his help for investment in his district, maybe a hefty deposit in the bank of a political supporter who's done him favors.

"I'm not interested -- at this point," he says of the dangled bribe. "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know." Indeed, he acknowledges, even though he needs to be careful -- "I expect to be in the [expletive] leadership of the House," he notes -- the money's awfully tempting. "It's hard for me to say, just the hell with it."

This is John Murtha, incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi's choice to be her majority leader, snared but not charged in the Abscam probe in 1980. "The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.

Not the most promising start.
If Rahm Emanuel is remaking the National Democrats in Illinois image, you really hope he's trashing this very Illinois sounding behavior in the make-over. It kills the party before they even start.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rich Miller on Judy Baar-Topinka, Illinois... and serious trouble ahead

Wish he had written this before the election,
Polls show voters never believed much that Rod Blagojevich ever said. But they do believe what they see and hear, and the Blagojevich campaign masterfully used Topinka’s own words against her. “I love you dearly,” she said to George Ryan at an emotional State Fair event in 2002. The now infamous video clip of her speech, along with the reportedly electronically altered sight of her bobbing her head up and down as Ryan spoke at the podium was replayed about a billion times on TV. The Blagojevich people have built almost their entire campaign around that clip, which makes the case for them that she was “George Ryan’s treasurer.”

The people who know Judy Baar Topinka know that almost all of the charges made by the Blagojevich campaign against her were baseless or just plain lies.
I’ve known Topinka for 16 years, and I don’t believe she has a corrupt bone in her body. She’s too cheap to be corrupt. And I know for a fact that she does whatever she can for military veterans.

But the voters could see and hear Topinka talking about her “love” for George Ryan or saying something off the wall about unnamed people who care about veterans — and, understandably, they didn’t like it.

For way too long we’ve been an electorate that focuses on out-of-context quotes or laps up gotcha games that deliberately distort meaning just because we can see or hear the so-called evidence for ourselves. If voters don’t start seeing through this blatantly dishonest, cynical manipulation by the professional hucksters (both in politics and in the media), we’re heading for serious trouble.

Borat

We went last night and walked out after the first third. I hope these people successful with their law suit. It was a cruel movie.

Chris Lauzen's post mortum

An email from Lauzen.

Number 3 is a balance. I think the solution there is Justice Scalia's position: "It is blindingly clear that judges have no better capacity than the rest of us to determine what is moral". Abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cells research should all be decided in legislatures and not by courts. That makes sense and it's a stand that's unmistakable.

Here's the Senator's ideas,
1. "Allow us to vote" for our Republican Party leaders just like Democrats do and just like Republicans used to do before 1986. I sponsored and unanimously passed SB600 out of the State Senate in April 2005. I have waited patiently for House Republican Leaders to ask for a vote. Democrat Speaker Madigan and Majority Leader Currie have acquiescenced to allow a simple up-or-down vote in the House. I now call upon Representatives Tom Cross, Tim Schmitz, and Pat Lindner to use their House Republican Leadership power to call SB600 for a vote during Veto Session within the next three weeks.

How in the world can a Republican precinct committeeman ask a neighbor to help grow this party, if our leaders do not demonstrate enough respect for that person's opinion to allow them to vote for the equivalent of the party's board of directors? We're fighting a war in Iraq in part for this basic principle of democracy.

2. "Clean up our act" by prohibiting party leaders from working as paid lobbyists on the side. Although it's getting old to be reminded of George Ryan's crimes by a Governor who has been in power for four long years and has more federal investigations directed at his administration than Ryan had, Republicans should have no party leader or elected official who is using his or her political influence and inside information to enrich himself and his friends.

3. "Emphasize traditional values and sound policy principles" rather than being distracted by position and power. A solid majority of citizens and voters in this country believe that every innocent human life is a gift from God and should be protected by society from destruction. They recognize that less government means more freedom. We are confronted by bad people so we need strong national defense externally and conscientious public safety internally. And, a durable majority of hard-working people know that the strongest social unit in the world is the traditionally family. As another Illinois-born Republican Ronald Reagan said, "...now is the time to speak in bold, unmistakable colors, not in timid pastel shades."
What social conservatives have to remember is while many (if not most) agree, ...a durable majority of hard-working people know that the strongest social unit in the world is the traditionally family. It's an option no longer available for a growing number of single-parent lead households.

Further more of us are going to live the majority of our time alone. A majority of us will grow up in families that don't look traditional. Everyone will agree about the value of the traditional family, but many will not live in one.

It's that reality that in fact sparks much of this debate. It's a reality social conservatives are going to need to understand and learn to speak too, understanding that people live in realities, and not ideals.

The Republican position should be Scalia's: Judges shouldn't make these calls. That means legislatures do it and they need to be aware they shouldn't sound like Judges either.

xp Illinoz

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kareem Amer's detention

From Arabic Network for Human Rights Information,
Egyptian Human Rights Organizations Condemn the Ongoing Detention of Egyptian Blogger and the Violation of His Right to Freedom of Expression Kareem Amer is detained for an additional 15 days
Cairo - 11 November 2006

The Public Prosecutor Office of Alexandria re-detained the Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer for additional 15 days on Wednesday 8 November. This is considered a violation of his right to hold opinions without interference, which is stipulated in the Egyptian constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Egypt is a state-party.

"The arbitrary accusations against Kareem Amer indicate the authorities' inclination to detain Kareem simply for expressing views contradictory to theirs. The Public Prosecutor told Kareem that if he did not abandon his views, even though personal, he may be imprisoned," the undersigned human rights organizations stated.


The case of Amer is eventually testing the extent of respect granted by the Egyptian government to the right to freedom of expression, the Egyptian Constitution, and other international covenants which that right.

Kareem Amer deserves encouragement and support for risking his freedom for the sake of upholding his right to believe in secularism. His insistence on his right to freedom of expression had previously resulted in his expulsion from Al-Azhar University. The right to freedom of thought and expression is a basic human right that should not be undermined. Article 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, states:

Article 18: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change religion or belief, the freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching either alone or in community with others and in public or private."

Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

The undersigned human rights organizations call upon the Egyptian government to immediately release Kareem Amer, protect him against more harassment, and guarantee his right to freedom of expression.

Signatory Organizations:

From Egypt:
1. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
2. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
3. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
4. Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
5. Habi Center for Environmental Rights
6. Al-Nadeem Center for Psychological Rehabilitation and Treatment of Victims of Violence
7. Hisham Mubark Law Center
8. Land Center for Human Rights
9. Shomuu Assocaition for Human Rights and People with Disabilities
10. Egyptian Center for Human Rights
11. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
12. The Civil Observatory of Human Rights
13. Al-Ganob Center for Human Rights

From Bahrain:
14. Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Repudiation of Bush; and an affirmation of Lieberman

If voters repudiated Bush yesterday, they certainly gave Lieberman a resounding affirmation too.

There were sensible Democrats elected yesterday. Bruce Reed explains why.
Apart from a foolish summer fling with Ned Lamont and a late Laugh-In cameo from John Kerry, Democrats did just about everything right and ran their best campaign in a decade. Field marshals Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer ignored the virtual industry of self-help nonsense that has paralyzed Democrats' chattering classes and went back to a simple, proven formula: From the suburbs to the heartland, elections are won in the center.
It's good for America if the Democrats can hang on too some of these new Representatives. I'm not betting on it and guessing on a return to the self-help nonsense.

The Machine was rolling

Beavers in the Sun Times,
"This was the Machine rolling," said Ald. William Beavers (7th), who has been Stroger's muscle and who won his own seat Tuesday on the County Board.
I think it's going to turn out to be a very tough time for Liberals and Progressives in Illinois.

Here's Madigan's Steve Brown in the Trib,
"It's a good referendum on Democratic policies," Brown said.

Under the trio of Chicago Democrats—Jones, Madigan and Gov. Rod Blagojevich—the social agenda over the last four years included laws bolstering gay rights, requiring equal pay for women and increasing the minimum wage—something the governor made clear he hoped to do again.
As Illinois politics sinks under indictments and fiscal crisis, they're going to have to ask themselves if the deal with the rolling Machine was worth it, because these prizes look only symbolic to me. The getting-in-bed with the Machine will make them pay an awful price, starting with scandals that will continue to tarnish Obama's national bid.

As for the GOP, when your at the bottom, the only way is up. I just wish JBT had said early on she was badly mistaken about Peter Fitzgerald.

xp Illinoiz

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's all Rovian

Gerard Baker writing in The Austrialian.
There is compelling evidence now that John Kerry is a kind of Manchurian Candidate of Democratic politics.

It seems entirely possible that at some point in his career he was seized by a youthful Karl Rove, brainwashed and programmed to kill off, at crucial moments in American history, the Democratic Party's political prospects.

[***]

The party's leaders, such as Nancy Pelosi, who will become Speaker of the house, is among the most left-wing of house Democrats. On economics, the party has abandoned Clintonian pragmatism for naked populism.

The glimpse of Democratic leadership afforded by Kerry's intervention probably came too late to deprive the party of a majority in at least one and possibly both houses of Congress next week. But as Democrats prepare the celebrations, most know their problems are just beginning

Rich Whitney and Daniel DeLeon

I belonged the Socialist Pary of Frank Zeidler back in College in the 1970s. I left, or sort of fell out of it, when I graduated in 1976.

Rich Whitney belonged to he much older -but still existing- Socialist Labor Party founded by Daniel DeLeon back in 1877 . The Socialist Party and IWW eclipsed the SLP in the first decade of the 20th century.

Yet it lingered on. It was a fixture on the new left in the 60s and 70s when elderly members and younger converts like Whitney would show up with copies of The People. The SLP's current National Secretary, Robert Bills, writes to Illinois Times of Whitney's eighteen year history with the SLP.
PARTY OUT OF BOUNDS
There are two types of lies: lies of commission and lies of omission. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Richard Whitney told little green lies of both types when Terry Martin of the Illinois Channel asked him two direct questions during a recently televised interview: “What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?”

To these questions Whitney replied: “I’ve always been independent-minded. I’ve never been a member of the Democratic or Republican parties. . . . I actually have been a Green for over 10 years now, because I helped found . . . our local in 1996 . . . . I’ve been always very much involved in third-party kind of politics in trying to get us out of this stranglehold of the two party system.” (Watch the video at http://www.whitneyforgov.org)

Fact is that the 51-year-old candidate and 10-year veteran of the Green Party belonged to the Socialist Labor Party for 18 years, from 1975 until 1993. There’s nothing wrong with being a Socialist, at least I don’t think so. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind about being a Socialist. However, there is something wrong about a candidate asking for your trust while concealing the truth when asked: “What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?”

Green and yellow really do go together.

Robert Bills
National secretary
Socialist Labor Party of America
I've changed my mind on Socialism but I'm proud to have known Frank Zeidler and grateful for the brief time I spent with the SP. So I'm not Yellow about having been Red.

In fact, Bush's ownership society ideas seem awfully close to the pension fund socialism comrades like Whitney and I argued about back in the 1970s. So maybe I'm still one.

xp Illinoiz

Friday, November 03, 2006

John Laesch on Republican Torture Policies

Eating lunch today and saw Laesch's second commercial .

My first thought was if Republican Torture Politics are creating more terrorists, then it seems to me like an immediate pull out from Iraq is the order of the day.

Next was to wonder if Laesch, in his time as an Intelligence Officer, used intelligence obtained coercively? If he thought terrorists fighting outside the Geneva Concention's rules-of-war were entitled to give just the name, rank, and serial number required by the Convention?

Or would he have drawn a line further out on what could be coerced and how during interrogation? He must have some thoughts based from his MI training here.

Which took my mind to the image of Mr. Faleh in Laesch's ad. The hooded prisoner with fake electrodes attached to him. Back when a Mr. Qaissi was posing as Mr. Faleh, the NYT's told us the real prisoner had been released and disappeared,
Meanwhile, it is not clear what happened to the real hooded man, Mr. Faleh. An Army spokesman said he was released from American custody in January 2004. Tribal leaders, and the manager of a brick factory next to the address where prison records say he lived, said they had never heard the name. Besides, they said, detainees often make up identities when they are imprisoned. Mr. Qaissi's attorneys said they have not attempted to search for him.
Finally I recalled one of the most impressive things I saw working in the Army. It was the Spec 4 in charge of the GIs in my computer room leading them in training on Wednesday afternoons. Once they went through exercises on ethics using case-studies like: you're a sole American Military Advisor to Commandte X in the jungle. The Commandte proceeds to slice off the ear of a prisoner. What do you do? You have no authority here, your just an advisor, and a lonely one at that among the Commandte's men.

These guys would discuss the cases and it was impressive to see them work solutions to this stuff. Almost embarrassing really because they looked up to me as the college educated computer programmer.

When the Taguba report came out and I read this citation at the end, I knew the Army was still doing the training.
4. (U) The individual Soldiers and Sailors that we observed and believe should be favorably noted include:

a. (U) Master-at-Arms First Class William J. Kimbro, US Navy Dog Handler, knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib.

b. (U) SPC Joseph M. Darby, 372nd MP Company discovered evidence of abuse and turned it over to military law enforcement.

c. (U) 1LT David O. Sutton, 229th MP Company, took immediate action and stopped an abuse, then reported the incident to the chain of command.
These guys are real heros to me. They knew the Army rules. They knew the moral boundaries. They saw line crossed and they acted. They're pretty impressive Americans Soldiers.

That's where Laesch's images on Republican Torture Politics took me.

xp at Illinoiz

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Iraq's Nuclear Bomb program

The NYT doesn't want the Gov to publish the Iraqi plans.
Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”
Somehow I think the know-how is out now and the greater danger is Americans thinking WMD in the hands of terrorists is a Rovian ruse.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

David Warren on Islamica's publication of responses to Benedict: We have relgions because journalism cannot tell us what we need to know.

David Warren's conclusion on Islamica's publication of an open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI by 38 leading Muslim Scholars and Leaders.
Islam is thus, in the words of 38 of its most qualified living exponents, not merely "a religion of peace", but more essentially a religion of love -- of love, from and for the one God we all worship; the one true Lord we know by His works, and who is Love in all His actions. For what is done in hatred cannot be done in God's name, and will always be false religion.

Now take this in. In a moment of increasing worldwide violence and tension, Pope Benedict XVI issued a call, echoing his predecessor John-Paul II, for a real dialogue between religions at the highest level of reason. And authoritative spiritual leaders of the Islamic umma responded favourably to this, and declared, in a fine, noble, and open spirit: "Let the dialogue begin!" This is news of very great significance. It should have been the top headline in every newspaper in the world.

But our media -- West and East -- report this, when at all, as some kind of sidebar on the terror war; as if the Muslim leaders had merely accepted an "apology" from the Pope for having hurt some Muslims' feelings.

This is why we have religions. Because journalism cannot tell us what we need to know.
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