Monday, July 31, 2006

500 year old liberal intellectual traditions of moral and ethical debate have been tossed into the gutter

James Lewis via Right Wing Nuthouse,
We have lost elementary moral distinctions over the last century. As a culture, we pretend we cannot tell the difference between accidental shootings by police in pursuit of killers, and deliberate killing by those intent on destroying innocents. This is not, as the Left likes to boast, a reflection of our higher morality. It is a loss of elementary moral discrimination. We are much less moral than our ancestors of a hundred or two hundred years ago.

One role of the New Media must be to restore that common sense morality which says that hiding behind women and children in war is murder, plain and simple. The onus for murder is on the terrorist, not the cop.

There is a solution: It is for the media and the United Nations to rediscover the elementary moral distinctions of the original Geneva Conventions. Killing innocents is murder. Drawing enemy fire on children is evil. It’s not hard.
And Right Wing Nut House's conclusion,
...the traditions in the west of wrestling with moral questions regarding war has been deliberately abandoned. Any new moral truths or clarity that would emerge from such a debate or discussion would threaten the left’s ability to use civilian deaths exactly as Hizbullah does; to beat their political opponents over the head.

It’s a shame, really. The very people who would ordinarily be at the center of helping the west in creating any new moral paradigms for fighting and winning the War on Terror are letting her down in her hour of greatest need. The 500 year old liberal intellectual traditions of moral and ethical debate have been tossed into the gutter and replaced with an unyielding, anti-intellectual absolutism that will brook no opposition to its cherished tenets and comfortable, old shoe verities.

We may yet pay dearly for their prideful ignorance before all is said and done.

'Israel Must Be Wiped Out The Map'

Sicilian Notes resolves the Farsi to English debate on deconstructing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's words with a picture that says it all from the NYT.

'Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Obikan: Do Not Cast Yourselves into Perdition by Your Own Hands,

'Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Obikan writes the case for keeping clergy out of politics.
"If we respond to the hasty, emotional, and imprudent calls, we will never succeed, and we will never attain our objectives. Proof of this is Hizbullah's action in Lebanon, when it independently took the decision to [wage] war, without this decision coming from the natural source [i.e. the Lebanese government], without agreement regarding the declaration of war against the Jews, and without concern for the [relevant] interests. The capturing of the two Jewish soldiers - which [Hizbullah] thought of as gain - has [actually] led to disaster and to obvious loss.

"What [we] got in exchange [for the capture] of the Jews [was this]: One of our countries has been entirely destroyed; there have been severe damage to [its] infrastructure, expulsion and starvation of its inhabitants, the killing of many of [its inhabitants], the weakening of the strength of the Muslims, the breaking of their unified position, and division in their ranks…"

"My Advice to My Muslim Brothers is to Leave Fateful Decisions... to the Nation's Leaders and Rulers"

"It is regrettable that ordinary people, who do not know and do not understand, have begun to interfere in important matters such as these, which is the [sole] prerogative of the rulers and commanders. As the religious scholars have instructed, [the decision to wage] war lies in the hands of the ruler... My advice to my Muslim brothers is to leave the decisions regarding the fate of the nation, and [regarding] war and peace, to the nation's leaders and rulers, who consult with knowledgeable ulema and with people known for their wise counsel, in order to decide what is best."

Beware of this black spinster

Ynet on Palestinian media reaction and coverage on SecState Rice.
A cartoon last week in the PA controlled Al Quds depicted Rice pregnant with a monkey. A caption read, "Rice speaks about birth of new Middle East."
She's got to be hard to take for the guys who run the PLO, or Hamas, or Hezballah. Africans, much less an African American woman, shouldn't seem to be pushing them around.

Fuad Sharbaji: Hassan Nasrallah and Some Advice to Rice on Skinning the Cat

Syria's former TV Director, Fuad Sharbaji gave some words of advice to SecState Rice yesterday,
"Finally, I propose to Condoleezza Rice that she listen to what Hassan Nasrallah said, and pay attention to Israel's current situation. [Israel] is now the cat that the resistance has struck, and it is likely that it will soon be skinned – and no force, no matter how many nations it includes, will be able to help it."
How is Israel is supposed to negotiate with butchers getting ready to skin the Jews? I take Sharbaji at his word.

Bill Baar and L'Humanité

From Wikipedia's entry on Hamas's funding over the years. What company I keep.
According to the U.S. State Dept,[3] Hamas is funded by Iran (led by a Shiite Islamic regime), Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. The party is known to support families of suicide bombers after their deaths. Some believe the financial support includes a monthly allowance. [30] However, various sources, among them United Press International [31], Le Canard enchaîné, Bill Baar and L'Humanité[32] have highlighted that Hamas' early growth - before its official founding and the creation of the military branch - had been supported by the Mossad as a "counterbalance to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)". Furthermore, the French investigative newspaper Le Canard enchaîné claimed that Shin Bet had also supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO and Fatah, in an attempt to give "a religious slant to the conflict, in order to make the West believe that the conflict was between Jews and Muslims", thus supporting the controversial thesis of a "clash of civilizations". [33].

Mounir Herzallah: Jews lose either way

Translation by PJ Media of a letter to Der Tagesspiegel,
Dr. Herzallah reports on how Hezbollah-terrorists came to his town, dug a munitions depot and then built a school and a residence directly over it. He writes: “Laughing, a local sheikh explained to me that the Jews lose either way: either because the rockets are fired at them or because, if they attack munitions depot, they are condemned by world public opinion on account of the dead civilians.” Hezbollah, he says, uses the civilian population “as a human shield and then when they are dead as propaganda.”

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's interview with Hezballah in The Guardian

Hezballah doesn't think it's an Arab Israeli war,
For Ali and his comrades, the latest conflict is a war of survival not only for Hizbullah but for the whole Shia community. It is not only as a war with Israel, their enemy for decades, but also with the Sunni community. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have all expressed fears of Iranian domination over the Middle East.

"If Israel comes out victorious from this conflict, this will be a victory for the Sunnis and they will take the Shia community back in history dozens of years to the time when we were only allowed to work as garbage collectors in this country. The Shia will all die before letting this happen again."

He says that even if the international community calls on Hizbullah to disarm as part of a peace deal, he and his men will not lay down their arms. "This war is episode two in disarming Hizbullah. First they tried to do it through the Lebanese government and the UN. When they failed, the Americans asked the Israelis to do the job."
And there will be scores to settle with a cease fire,
And even when the battle with the Israelis is over, he adds menacingly, Hizbullah will have other battles to fight. "The real battle is after the end of this war. We will have to settle score with the Lebanese politicians. We also have the best security and intelligence apparatus in this country, and we can reach any of those people who are speaking against us now. Let's finish with the Israelis and then we will settle scores later."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: interview with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Officer on Iranian and Korean aid to Hezballah

From MEMRI's translation in July 29th's issue of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat
"Hundreds of Hizbullah fighters currently confronting Israel's military array took part in special training courses at the Revolutionary Guards bases in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad and Ahvaz. According to a high-ranking [Revolutionary] Guards officer, who trained one of the Hizbullah naval units, Hizbullah has many surprises up its sleeve. Until now, there has been no direct confrontation between Hizbullah and the Israeli navy, [but] one of the Israeli navy's ships was attacked with C802 missiles with the help of Revolutionary Guards [fighters] stationed in Lebanon. Hizbullah has a divers' unit and a naval commando unit [equipped] with Chinese-made Ho-Dong speedboats, which are capable of dealing [serious] blows to the Israeli navy."

The Iranian officer added that "thanks to the presence of hundreds of Iranian engineers and technicians, as well as North Korean experts brought [into Lebanon] in the guise of [domestic] servants by Iranian diplomats and by the staff at the Iranian representations and offices in Lebanon, Hizbullah has managed to build a 25-kilometer underground [tunnel]. Each opening in this [tunnel] measures 12 to 18 square meters, and has a mobile floor and a semi-mobile ceiling. Each four openings are connected by a passage that allows fighters to pass easily [from one opening] to the other.

"The [Revolutionary] Guards has also built Hizbullah underground storerooms in the Beka' Valley, at a depth of no more than eight meters, which hold huge amounts of missiles and ammunition. In the Beka', there is [also] a central command room operated by four Revolutionary Guards officers and four Hizbullah [fighters]. Each sector has its [own] command and operations room.

"Hizbullah's missile unit includes some 200 technicians and experts trained in Iran. Hizbullah has three missile units, each supervised by a staff of 20."

The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew? Part 2

I watched local NBC news night and read today's Trib. They all have Gibson's apology for saying despicable things but fail to mention anything about Jews, or what the despicable words were.

I hope that's the despicable thing Gibson had in mind when he apologized. If he was specific about his words, the press doesn't seem inclined to say so.

The Vancouver Sun: Iranians being prepared for war with Israel

HT to Winston for this story in The Vancouver Sun,
A former CSIS informant who once kept tabs on terrorists says the Iranian regime is "mentally and spiritually" preparing its people for war against Israel.

The Ottawa man, now in Tehran, reports that the hate campaign against Israel is in full swing on the streets of the capital.

"It is everywhere. There are posters at intersections of (Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah) saying Israel must be erased from the map," he told the Citizen. "It is not good. It is sad," he said.

Opponents of the Iranian regime in Canada say they too have received similar reports from Iranians on the ground, describing huge posters depicting the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah with the slogan: "This war is our war."

Jan Schakowsky, Comrade Lysenko, and Proletarian Science

Ann finds Congresswoman Schakowsky advancing Proletarian Science,
The proletariat cannot postpone socialist reconstruction until the time when its new scientists, many of whom are still running about in short trousers, will test and clean all the instruments and all the channels of knowledge. The proletariat rejects what is clearly unnecessary, false and reactionary, and in the various fields of its reconstruction makes use of the methods and conclusions of present-day science, taking them necessarily with the percentage of reactionary class-alloy which is contained in them. The practical result will justify itself generally and on the whole, because such a use when controlled by a socialist goal will gradually manage and select the methods and conclusions of the theory. And by that time there will have grown up scientists who are educated under the new conditions.
Glad Ann found Schakowsky on the record,

I'm very concerned that this is being used in a way to discredit the whole notion that our country and the rest of the industrialized and developing world ought to do anything about global warming;

sorting out the reactionary class-alloy in the Global Warming debate until Academia can edcuate the new scientists.

John Noonan: The Rise of the Service Gap

Read him on it over at NRO.
Yet as the top tier of American academia grows increasingly hostile toward the military and military service, the service gap may go from fiction to fact. As the antiwar movement has grown, so have so-called “counter-recruitment” campaigns, designed to strip the military of the legal right to recruit on campuses.

There is hypocrisy here, as the same activist element that specializes in counter-recruitment also spends a great deal of time bemoaning the supposed service gap. On the one hand, these activists want to blame the wealthy for exploiting the poor to serve as cannon fodder in today’s wars. On the other hand, they seek to ensure that as many affluent young people are kept out of the military as possible.
It's devastating that Liberals and Progressives support these anti ROTC movements.

Chris Link: Photos that damn Hezbollah

Hezbollah censors any photo's of its fighters. Unfortunately almost all reporters in Lebanon omit telling us when their being escorted and censored by Hezbollah.

Australia's Herald Sun has some smuggled photos of Hezboallah at work.
The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut and did not wish to be named said he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.

"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

"It was carnage. Two innocent people died in that incident, but it was so lucky it was not more."

The release of the images comes as Hezbollah faces criticism for allegedly using innocent civilians as "human shields".

Mr Egeland blasted Hezbollah as "cowards" for operating among civilians.

"When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children," he said.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Australian: It is time for Iran to end the killing

A perfect editorial in The Austrialian.
In Lebanon and Israel, Ahmadinejad has blood on his hands

IS the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere? Are we children of a lesser God?" asked Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora this week in Rome. "Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?" It's a good question and one that drips with as much anger and poignancy as Shylock's famous soliloquy in The Merchant of Venice. But it is also, sadly, the wrong question. For, in the present conflict, there is no difference between Lebanese and Israeli blood. Both nations are being made to pay the price for policies set by thuggish theocrats in Tehran and, to a lesser extent, Damascus. Those are the men to whom Mr Siniora's question needs to be directed. Hezbollah, aka the Party of God, touched off the current conflagration by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing three others in a cross-border raid just over two weeks ago. That attack was only the latest in a long series of often fatal harassment actions conducted by the terrorist group since it filled the void left by Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. Through it all, Hezbollah has been a puppet of the Iranian theocracy, which created it more than 20 years ago with the purpose of using terrorism to expand the Shia regime's influence throughout the Middle East. In retaliating against Hezbollah and pressuring Lebanon to control its territories and kick out the organisation, Israel is taking a logical step against an Iranian regime whose leaders routinely vow to "wipe Israel from the face of the map". Every one of the nearly 500 deaths of the past two weeks, whether Lebanese or Israeli, is tragic. But those who complain Arab blood is cheap must realise that the price is being set in Tehran, not Jerusalem. And the power to stop the bloodshed lies most of all with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who at a stroke could get Hezbollah to lay down its arms and quit a country in which it does not belong.

When one strips away all the emotional and political baggage from the situation in the Middle East, the present conflict is at its heart a battle between a liberal democracy and a fascist dictatorship. It should be no trouble to figure out which side is in the right. Yet events in the Middle East are seen through one's individual political prejudices. In the West, too many on the Left are unable to put aside their reflexive anti-Americanism and romantic beliefs that Islamic radicals are simply freedom fighters to judge the situation fairly. Thus groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas that use terror as the means to spread their own political and religious obsessions are not seen as the bad guys; rather, Israel is. This view has poisoned the debate in many sectors of the media, where Israel's defensive actions are routinely cast in an aggressive light, and in the streets, where at so-called peace rallies Stars of David appear on banners next to swastikas separated by a "=" sign. But if those who blame Israel were to put away their anti-American prejudices and forget for a moment the half-baked postmodern narrative of colonisers and liberators, they would see in Hezbollah something that could just as easily be called the Nazi Party of Tehran. Today all Israel wants in the present conflict is for the Nazis to go home. Hezbollah was created by a regime every bit as totalitarian and anti-Semitic as the Third Reich. The values of the Iranian theocracy, which executes homosexuals, oppresses ethnic and religious minorities and treats women as property, should be offensive most of all to the progressive Left. Although there have been some heartening and worthwhile efforts on the left, such as the Euston Manifesto, to come to terms with these facts, it is the liberal democracy of Israel that is all too often cast by progressives as the villain. Were a similarly fascist group to emerge in the Arafura Sea and lob missiles into Darwin on a daily basis, Canberra would likewise have no choice but to respond militarily.

The questions Mr Siniora – and indeed the whole civilised world – should be asking are: "Why won't Iran bring Hezbollah to heel? Are Tehran's lunatic ambitions worth the life of even one Lebanese or Israeli?" Lebanese and Israelis alike suffer from Hezbollah's presence. The region's Sunni Muslims would likewise not fare well under a resurgent Shia Iran that would turn back the clock on democratisation and reform. World outrage should be directed not at Israel but at Iran and Syria. The Australian wishes, along with all Australians, that there was no violence in the Middle East and that the bombs of Hezbollah and Israel did not have to take so many lives – especially those of children. But we also recognise that a ceasefire for its own sake will do nothing to prevent future bloodshed. For the moment, then, our wish would be for more pressure, both from within the Arab world and without, to be brought to bear on Tehran to halt this madness.

The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?

Booze reveals the real Mel Gibson.

Now we know who Gibson thinks replaced the Mayans.

Morally imbecilic

From an excellant column today by Charles Moore in the Telegraph that should be read in full, but below gives a perfect example of so many people's failure to figure out the best choice from a serious of bad options.

Moore writes of Peter Tapsell's comment in Parliment that Israel's response to Hezballah was ...a war crime grimly reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter in Warsaw.
You could criticise Israel's recent attack for many things. Some argue that it is disproportionate, or too indiscriminate. Others think that it is ill-planned militarily. Others hold that it will give more power to extremists in the Arab world, and will hamper a wider peace settlement. These are all reasonable, though not necessarily correct positions to hold. But European discourse on the subject seems to have been overwhelmed by something else - a narrative, told most powerfully by the way television pictures are selected, that makes Israel out as a senseless, imperialist, mass-murdering, racist bully.

Not only is this analysis wrong - if the Israelis are such imperialists, why did they withdraw from Lebanon for six years, only returning when threatened once again? How many genocidal regimes do you know that have a free press and free elections? - it is also morally imbecilic. It makes no distinction between the tough, sometimes nasty things all countries do when hard-pressed and the profoundly evil intent of some ideologies and regimes. It says nothing about the fanaticism and the immediacy of the threat to Israel. Sir Peter has somehow managed to live on this planet for 75 years without spotting the difference between what Israel is doing in Lebanon and "unlimited war".

jus ad bellum and jus in bello

From Norm's blog,
If you think that in war anything goes, then this post is not for you. Likewise, if you think war is never justified in any circumstances, you should stop reading now. Or if you're one of those who think that any military action undertaken by Israel is indefensible, whether because Israel itself is an illegitimate entity or for some other reason, what follows won't engage you. Or if you think that any military action supported by the US - or by the current US administration - is indefensible, same deal.

I operate with assumptions that contradict these several standpoints: in particular, I think war is sometimes justified (when it may be called just), and that in war there are both just methods of fighting and unjust ones. I operate, that is, in terms of the well-known distinction within just war doctrine between jus ad bellum and jus in bello. We need to know whether a resort to military force has just cause. That is one kind of question. But we also need to consider whether any given military action observes the laws of war, the rules laid down concerning what may be done in warfare and what may not.
I think most Americans forget the criteria of just methods of fighting; although the Defense Department takes it very seriously. HT: Unitarian Universalists in the Military.

Norm ends the post with criteria for evaluationg the good faith of Israel's critics.
Here's something else we should be clear about, however. While some of the condemnation voiced by critics of the Israeli campaign is in good faith, much of it is not. How can you tell? This is how.

(1) Do the critics of Israel condemn Hizbollah for themselves putting civilians at risk in the areas in which they operate, attempting 'to shield military objectives from attacks' by the way they locate these military objectives?

(2) Do these critics allow that some of the civilian casualties caused by Israel in Lebanon are inevitable, and fall within the laws of war, precisely because of this policy of Hizbollah, which bears responsibility for them? Do they charge Hizbollah with war crimes?

(3) Do these critics allow that some of the damage to infrastructure is permissible within the laws of war, where the piece of infrastructure in question is a legitimate military target?

(4) Do these critics condemn Hizbollah for targeting Israeli civilians?

(5) Are they anguished by the deaths of Israelis, as they are by the deaths of Lebanese?

If the answer to these questions is no, their criticism is not in good faith. It betokens a hostility to Israel and its people, a hostility preceding rather than following from Israel's actions. There's a lot of that about.

Liberal Churches Slam Israel

The Forward on Liberal Christianity's response to Hezballah's war on Israel.
The UCC also posted a church wide prayer for Middle East peace on its Web site [available here --bb] that included the following passage: “While leaders in Tel Aviv and Damascus, Tehran, Washington, and southern Lebanon pander to ancient fears, claim the mantle of righteous victim, and pursue their little empires in the name of gods of their own devising, the people of Lebanon and northern Israel are made captive to fear.”

The Reform movement’s Pelavin criticized the prayer’s grouping of the governments of Israel and the United States with the leaderships of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. “It feels not unlike the old ‘Sesame Street’ game, ‘Which of these things doesn’t belong here?’” Pelavin said. “Two of those countries are vibrant, healthy democracies.”
The great failure of Liberalism is the complete failure of seeing the lessor of evils. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote about it in 1940 in Why the Church is Not Pacifist,
One of the most terrible consequences of a confused religious absolutism is that it is forced to condone such tyranny as that of Germany in the nations which it has conquered and now cruelly oppresses. It usually does this by insisting that the tyranny is no worse than that which is practised in the so-called democratic nations, and however serious may be their failure to conform perfectly to the democratic ideals, it is a sheer moral perversity to equate the inconsistencies of a democratic civilization with the brutalities which modern tyrannical States practice. If we cannot make a distinction here, there are no historical distinctions which have any value. All the distinctions upon which the fate of civilization has turned in the history of mankind have been just such relative distinctions.

--page 139 of Josoph Loconte's, The End of Illusions.'s wrong in every single wretched reactionary thing about it.

Tony Blair's answer to David Gregory's question on loss of American influence in the middle east at yesterday's press conference with Bush.

Blair had a disgusted look on his face after he finished (I thought) and struck off some notes on the pad of paper in front of him with a slash of his pen. At least that's how he came accross to me.

The last paragraph is perfect.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I don't think, actually, it's anything to do with a loss of American influence at all. I think -- we've got to go back and ask what changed policy, because policy has changed in the past few years. And what changed policy was September the 11th. That changed policy, but actually, before September the 11th this global movement with a global ideology was already in being. September the 11th was the culmination of what they wanted to do. But, actually -- and this is probably where the policymakers, such as myself, were truly in error -- is that even before September the 11th, this was happening in all sorts of different ways in different countries.

I mean, in Algeria, for example, tens and tens of thousands of people lost their lives. This movement has grown, it is there, it will latch on to any cause that it possibly can and give it a dimension of terrorism and hatred. You can see this. You can see it in Kashmir, for example. You can see it in Chechnya. You can see it in Palestine.

Now, what is its purpose? Its purpose is to promote its ideology based upon the perversion of Islam, and to use any methods at all, but particularly terrorism, to do that, because they know that the value of terrorism to them is -- as I was saying a moment or two ago, it's not simply the act of terror, it's the chain reaction that terror brings with it. Terrorism brings the reprisal; the reprisal brings the additional hatred; the additional hatred breeds the additional terrorism, and so on. But in a small way, we lived through that in Northern Ireland over many, many decades.

Now, what happened after September the 11th -- and this explains, I think, the President's policy, but also the reason why I have taken the view, and still take the view that Britain and America should remain strong allies, shoulder-to-shoulder in fighting this battle, is that we are never going to succeed unless we understand they are going to fight hard. The reason why they are doing what they're doing in Iraq at the moment -- and, yes, it's really tough as a result of it -- is because they know that if, right in the center of the Middle East, in an Arab, Muslim country, you've got a non-sectarian democracy, in other words people weren't governed either by religious fanatics or secular dictators, you've got a genuine democracy of the people, how does their ideology flourish in such circumstances?

So they have imported the terrorism into that country, preyed on whatever reactionary elements there are to boost it. And that's why we have the issue there; that's why the Taliban are trying to come back in Afghanistan. That is why, the moment it looked as if you could get progress in Israel and Palestine, it had to be stopped. That's the moment when, as they saw there was a problem in Gaza, so they realized, well, there's a possibility now we can set Lebanon against Israel.

Now, it's a global movement, it's a global ideology. And if there's any mistake that's ever made in these circumstances, it's if people are surprised that it's tough to fight, because you're up against an ideology that's prepared to use any means at all, including killing any number of wholly innocent people.

And I don't dispute part of the implication of your question at all, in the sense that you look at what is happening in the Middle East and what is happening in Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine, and, of course, there's a sense of shock and frustration and anger at what is happening, and grief at the loss of innocent lives. But it is not a reason for walking away. It's a reason for staying the course, and staying it no matter how tough it is, because the alternative is actually letting this ideology grip a larger and larger number of people.

And it is going to be difficult. Look, we've got a problem even in our own Muslim communities in Europe, who will half-buy into some of the propaganda that's pushed at it -- the purpose of America is to suppress Islam, Britain has joined with America in the suppression of Islam. And one of the things we've got to stop doing is stop apologizing for our own positions. Muslims in America, as far as I'm aware of, are free to worship; Muslims in Britain are free to worship. We are plural societies.

It's nonsense, the propaganda is nonsense. And we're not going to defeat this ideology until we in the West go out with sufficient confidence in our own position and say, this is wrong. It's not just wrong in its methods, it's wrong in its ideas, it's wrong in its ideology, it's wrong in every single wretched reactionary thing about it. And it will be a long struggle, I'm afraid. But there's no alternative but to stay the course with it. And we will.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ahmed Al-Jarallah: No to Syria, Iran agents

From his editorial in the Kuwaiti Arab Times,
While the people of Palestine and Lebanon are paying the price of this bloody conflict, the main players, who caused this conflict, are living in peace and asking for more oil from Arab countries to support the facade of resisting Israel. With the Palestinian Authority close to collapse and the Lebanese government beginning to give up responsibility for what is happening in its territory, Saudi Arabia has been forced to come out of its diplomatic routine and indirectly hold Hezbollah responsible for what is happening Lebanon.
This attitude of Saudi Arabia, [condemnation of Hezbollah -baar] which has been doing all it can to protect the Arab world from Israeli aggression, is enough to unmask the adventurers, who have violated the rights of their own countries and tried put their people under the guardianship of foreign countries like Iran and Syria. A battle between supporters and opponents of these adventurers has begun, starting from Palestine to Tehran passing through Syria and Lebanon. This war was inevitable as the Lebanese government couldn’t bring Hezbollah within its authority and make it work for the interests of Lebanon. Similarly leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has been unable to rein in the Hamas Movement.

Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of “these irregular phenomena” is what Israel is doing. The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community.
And today's news Nasarallah holed up in the Iranian Embassy in Beruit or maybe Damascus. And Chamosky & Co also comfortably living in Peace and selling their books and uttering mumbo jumbo.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Big Box Ordinance and Bastiat's essay on What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

Pretty much sums up my attitute on yesterdays ordinance in Chicago on Big Box retailers. Debate raging over at Illinoize here, here, and here.
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bashar, Nasrallah, and Ahmadinejad

Lee Smith writing on Identity Politics in the Middle East.
"Obviously Iran and Syria have strengthened their relations over the last nine months," says Andrew Tabler, Damascus-based researcher and a fellow with the Institute of Current World Affairs. "And their ideological correspondence has come along with suitable iconography. So, before the Syria-Iran defense pact was about to be signed in mid-June, we started seeing these posters with Bashar, Nasrallah, and Ahmadinejad. You used to have to go to the Bekaa Valley or the south suburbs of Beirut to see posters of Iranian leaders. Now we get them in the middle of an Arab capital."

Thus the Iranians have started to invest heavily in what some are calling the Shiitization of Syria, a country with a roughly 70 percent Sunni majority. "There are reports of entire villages becoming Shia," says Tabler. "And we know for sure that they're fixing up Shia shrines and building Shia mosques, even in majority Sunni towns."

If, as Michael Rubin wrote, there is a growing Sunni-Israel alliance in the region, perhaps that's because the Iranians seek to erase them both from the history books.

Komati says Hisballah was surprized? No, it's the spearhead of the Muslim 'umma

Komati told AP,
"The truth is _ let me say this clearly _ we didn't even expect (this) response.... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati.

He said Hezbollah had expected "the usual, limited response" from Israel to the July 12 cross-border raid, in which three Israelis were killed.
I don't think so,
Most of all, though, Hezbollah hopes to set a new precedent in the Arab world, as its leader Hasan Nasrallah revealed in his latest televised speech: He characterised his movement as a “spearhead of the (Islamic) umma” and declared the conflict as “surpassing Lebanon ... it is the conflict of the umma,” whose success or failure will reverberate in the entire region. In other words, Hezbollah is to serve as an inspiration, as an exemplar of bold action against Israel and, by extension, against Arab regimes that have allied themselves with the United States and Israel.

Mundane harmony

An Iranian financed Hezbollah rains rockets down indiscriminately on a model of Arab-Jewish coexistence. From The Forward,
Lutfi Mash'ur, the late editor of Israel's largest Arabic weekly newspaper, al-Sinara, used to say that in the face of Jewish-Arab enmity and violence, he would look to Haifa for hope. It's hard to know what he would have said this week, as Hezbollah rockets reigned down on Israel's third largest city, a place where Jews and Arabs live more harmoniously than almost anywhere else in Israel.

Haifa has a history of partnership between the two communities, and a mayor who champions equality and works to transform multiculturalism into an asset. As a result, the city has become a model for how Jews and Arabs can come as close as possible to living in "mundane harmony," to borrow a phrase from Mash'ur, who died last month and was mourned by both Arabs and Jews.

Unlike other mixed towns in Israel, Jews and Arabs in Haifa do live together in the same apartment buildings. They work together at the port, at the city's Rambam hospital and at Haifa University. Some even socialize and celebrate their living together a rare phenomenon in a country so bitterly divided along Arab-Jewish lines. This week they were huddling together in bomb shelters across town.

Plain talk (and Lakoff's Frames)

Time on Bush,
President George W. Bush has always done the Middle East his way. When he became the first President to formally call for the creation of a Palestinian state, it was at least partly because he gagged on such conventional but tortured constructions as "a place for the Palestinian people to carry out their aspirations." When aides drafted a speech with such wording, the President challenged them, demanding, What does that mean? An aide explained that this was how the matter was generally formulated. Bush, a senior Administration official recalls, asked, "Well, do we think there's going to be a Palestinian state?" When his aides said yes, he continued, "Then why don't we say that there should be a Palestinian state?" With that, the groundbreaking words were delivered.
And Nick Cohen Looking for Lucidity,
Among the many reasons why a candidate from the Left can’t win the Labour leadership election, let alone a general election, is that the Left can’t talk in a way that convinces outsiders that it is honest. The distortion of language in the past generation has become one of the main reasons for the success of the Right. All those creaking gags from P J O’Rourke that so tickled the tummies of Anglo-American conservatives in the 1990s, all the conservative denunciations of the bossiness of a political correctness that, in the words of George Bush senior in 1991, declares ‘certain topics off-limits, certain expressions off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits’, have succeeded beyond their authors’ wildest expectations.
And more... proof Bush is indeed the Radical,
Obfuscation has historically been the vice of those who want to keep the social order as it is by preventing the public from seeing it clearly. A paradox of radicalism is that true radicals are linguistic conservatives because they have an urgent and overriding need to be understood.
Something these Lakoff Frame (i.e. spin) advocates should reflect on...per Jess Walker:

"The problem is that he has a frame of his own to sell, a model that may have some explanatory power but which he has stretched far beyond its limits. The difference between left and right, he argues, is best understood as a split between two concepts of the family. Conservatives follow a "strict father" morality; liberals favor the "nurturing parent" approach. Both project their preferred ideal onto the nation.... [but] For now, we're left with an elaborate variation on the ancient libertarian joke that Republicans want the government to be your father, Democrats want the government to be your mother, and libertarians want to treat you as an adult.... Except that Lakoff's frame doesn't have room for the third option, or for any variations of the left or right that call the parental metaphor into question.” -- Jesse Walker

I'll stick with Bush's good sense to gag on the older order's mumbo jumbo.

It's not WW3; it's the end of WW1

These past few years have always felt like the closing chapters of WW 1 to me. The final sorting out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. The French and the Brits originally tasked with League of Nation mandates and now the task has fallen to the United States (which shirked the mission in 1919 for Armenia).

Lee Smith write Things Fall Apart and speculates on what the new middle east might finally look like.
ARABS AND WESTERN ARABISTS typically describe Israel as a European invention stuck right in the center of a region where it does not belong, but this is ignoring the fact that almost half of the Jewish state's population originated not in Europe, or Russia, or even Brooklyn, but in the Middle East. The Jews belong here as much as the other Middle Eastern minorities do, the Christians, Shiites, Alawites, and Kurds. The difference is that many of these minorities, unlike the Jews in Israel, have signed on, willingly or not, to the triumphalist Sunni Arab narrative: We are all Arabs. It seems as though eventually this fiction will collapse and some of these minorities will, like Israel, want their own states.

For decades now "Arabs" in the Middle East have feared Washington's ostensible designs to divide and weaken them. (Despite the obvious fact that America is working hard to see that Iraq, for instance, does not break into three parts.) But a region-wide reshuffling may be in the cards anyway. What might that look like?

Euston and Beyond

A New blog on the Euston Manifesto: Euston and Beyond

Pray for the Speedy Peaceful Dismantlement of the State of Israel

The prayers going up over at Kos via The Weekly Standard's Dean Barnett writing Kos, Hezbollah, and Israel.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Amal Saad Ghorayeb on Hizbollah's War Aims

Note it's a war aim against the Unites States and its Arab allies.
Most of all, though, Hezbollah hopes to set a new precedent in the Arab world, as its leader Hasan Nasrallah revealed in his latest televised speech: He characterised his movement as a “spearhead of the (Islamic) umma” and declared the conflict as “surpassing Lebanon ... it is the conflict of the umma,” whose success or failure will reverberate in the entire region. In other words, Hezbollah is to serve as an inspiration, as an exemplar of bold action against Israel and, by extension, against Arab regimes that have allied themselves with the United States and Israel.

With so much at stake, it is likely that Hezbollah foresaw Israel’s overreaction and laid out contingency plans. Its daily displays of its long-range missiles are more than empty exercises in psychological warfare. Echoing in my mind are the words of a Hezbollah official. He told me that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ongoing anti-Zionism, along with Iranian supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei’s affirmation that Hezbollah will never disarm, has given the movement confidence that it can “fight for months.”

Hezbollah is launching missiles deeper into Israeli territory than it ever has before. It is bringing the war to Israelis’ doorsteps in the hope that they will pressure their government to call for an unconditional cease-fire. And it wants to demoralise the Israeli army, one Hezbollah official told me.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Silence of the Liberal Blogosphere

Jennifer Siegel writing in The Forward on the silence of leftish bloggers,
Bloggers — as the feisty class of Internet pundits are known — love to paint themselves as free-speech warriors who bravely tackle the hard truths that mainstream media outlets either ignore or distort. But as the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah raged on and conventional media outlets covered the news from the ground, major players in the liberal blogosphere were keeping, by their own admission, decidedly quiet.
Go to Israel thought and it's not so hard to sort things out. Israeli Peace Activist Ada Aharoni ,who led a movement to pull Israel out of Lebanon; said,
``We are all for it," Aharoni said of herself and her like-minded friends. ``We are liberating our northern frontier, and we are liberating the Lebanese from the extremists and the Iranians who control them. I think it had to be done."

``I always think speaking together and negotiating is much better than any military action, and even now we should be talking," she said. ``But they started this. They didn't try to talk. It's a situation where you either defend yourself or you're dead."
When faced with defend or be dead, it's easier for a Liberal Peace Activist to see clearly. I fear her American counterparts want to wait for a moment when the United States is faced with defend or be dead.

Seth Gitell: A Bishop's Voice

Seth Gitell writing on the anti-Israeli Episcopel Bishop Shaw of Boston in the New York Sun; HT Media Nation,
Until last week. In a case of what may be extraordinarily bad timing, Bishop Shaw chose Wednesday afternoon as the moment to publicly protest Israel's strike on Gaza in the wake of the Hamas kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit. That was after hostilities with Gaza had begun but before Hezbollah's Katyushah rockets began raining down on Israel's North. Bishop Shaw's defenders say that he was prompted by the plight of Gaza's Al Ahli Anglican Hospital, which lost power during the offensive. The bishop issued a somewhat nuanced statement to explain his actions."We pray for Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit and for an immediate and peaceful halt to the hostilities raging for the past two weeks in the Gaza Strip," the statement read, in part.

There's no nuance in images. Bishop Shaw's presence at the protest with Israel in harm's way overshadows any diplomatic objective that he and his supporters say was the goal of the protest. Yet while the high-profile anti-Israel actions of those such as Bishop Shaw capture the spotlight, there is a quiet insurgency taking place to combat the efforts of Bishop Shaw and his ilk. A Dominican nun based in Jericho, New York, Sister Ruth Lautt O.P., has formed a group called Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East aimed at retaking the center of the Roman Catholic Church and the moderate Protestant churches. Seeing the wildfire of support of the divestment issue among Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ, Sister Lautt, trained as a litigator, said something had to be done.

"I said, this has gotten way out of hand. There has to be some kind of mainstream Christian voice out there," says Sister Lautt. "We've got to get people to understand this conflict instead of having this knee-jerk blame Israel for everything" attitude.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Irshad Manji:Moderate Islam on the March

Manji writing in the LA Times. Stuff we don't see much in MSM. Some quotes,
Ready for the good news? The Hudood laws are finally being seriously challenged, and not a moment too soon. Under them, more than 4,600 Pakistani women have been thrown in prison for charges that include adultery. By contrast, virtually all men accused of rape have gotten off.

Thanks to a vocal but religiously respectful campaign by civil society groups, Pakistan's influential Council of Islamic Ideology recently recommended changing the Hudood laws. That move set the stage for President Pervez Musharraf to begin releasing the 1,300 women currently awaiting trial.
And this comment from the Danisth publisher of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons when he spoke at Muslim leaders of tomorrow conference in Copenhagen,
Maybe the most compelling insight came from a surprise guest: Flemming Rose, publisher of the reviled Prophet Muhammad cartoons. After addressing us and responding to our challenges, Rose confided that the reception we gave him was more civil than anything he'd experienced at the hands of humanist groups.

Any liberal reformation of Islam will have at least two features: the empowerment of women in the Islamic world, and the willingness of Muslims in the West to exercise our freedom of conscience. In one week this month, both got a promising boost.

We need to remember that as bombs grab the spotlight.
I hope the humanists remember.

China Confidential: China Sees Tehran Trying to Suck Syria into War

We ought to make sure it's a loser for Ahmadinejad.
China Confidential: China Sees Tehran Trying to Suck Syria into War: "Senior Chinese officials and intellectuals specializing in the Middle East believe Iran is trying to suck Syria into Tehran's proxy war with Israel.

The Iranians, according to the Chinese, see a no-lose opportunity. On the one hand, Iranian ally Syria could surprise Israel and recover the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State captured during the Six-Day War of June 1967. On the other hand, should Syria suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of Israel's superior military forces, the secular Baathist regime in Damascus would almost certainly be toppled by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Either way, Iranian influence in the region would increase, even though the non-Arab Iranians are Shiites and the Syrian Islamists are Sunnis."

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Scotsman: Hawkish Rumsfeld's plea to China in search for friend lost in 1956 clash

Interesting Rumsfeld story in the The Scotsman.
Five decades after one of his US Navy friends was shot down over China during a Cold War spy mission, the US Defence Secretary is still waging a quiet campaign to win closure for the airman's widow. In the finest military tradition, he has vowed that Lieutenant James B Deane will not be left behind.

Leaving his normally hard-line views on communist China to one side, he has persuaded General Guo Boxiong, vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, to hand over once-secret papers divulging information previously unknown to the US regarding the fate of the young pilot.

Jews for Justice

A press release put out by the Israeli Embassy in London via NormsBlog,
The Embassy of Israel was this morning approached by the marginal group, Jews for Justice for Palestinians. The group requested to approach the Embassy in order to present flowers to express their condolences to the families of those Israelis who have been killed in the recent conflict in the Middle East. The representative added that this was intended to be carried out in front of a large media presence.

The Israeli Embassy, although moved by the gesture of humanitarian concern for the casualties of the attacks by the terrorist organisations Hizballah and Hamas, has suggested that should the JFJFP wish to show so publicly their solidarity with the citizens of Israel, they would take out an advert in the Times, as they have done in the past.

Indeed giving flowers at a time of mourning is not a Jewish custom, a fact that this group would have been aware of if they were in any way representative of the Jewish community.

We note however, that the Jewish community will be holding a rally on Sunday, in order to show support for Israel at this difficult time.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hezbullah's Bunker in Beruit

Captain's Quarters on Hezbullah's bunker,
UPDATE II: One of the reasons given for the lack of confirmation at this point explains a lot about the war itself:

Hizbullah has a headquarters compound in Bourj al-Barajneh that is off limits to the Lebanese police and army, so security officials could not confirm the strike.

Got that? The Lebanese police and army are not allowed to enter onto its own land. That's not much of an excuse for a state, especially given that the land is in the capital city of Lebanon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Lebanese Bloggers: Protests and Traitors

A Peace Demonstratoin in front of the White House,
The Lebanese Bloggers: Protests and Traitors: "A Lebanese woman was holding a banner that read, 'Nasrallah shut up and listen to Seniora!' Many people passing by her gave her weird looks, until one person had the audacity to snatch the banner from her and rip it up! It's saddening, but it did happen.

I chatted with Lebanese friends on the side of the protest. We were talking about how many of those who support the disarmament of Hizbullah have been put in a difficult situation. If Hizbullah is criticized, then automatically it's assumed that you're supportive of Israeli aggression, which is not true. The death toll in 7 days has reached close to 250, most of whom are civilians. Who can excuse such a painful reality?"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

East of Kurdistan: Save Malak Ghorbany from stoning

In case people wonder what's different about the Liberal West and Radical Islam, Lily Mazahery writes in East of Kurdistan,
Once again, another Iranian woman has been sentenced to death by the barbaric practice of public stoning. On June 28, 2006, a court in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia sentenced Malak Ghorbany to death for committing "adultery." Under Iran's Penal Code, the term "adultery" is used to describe any intimate or sexual act between a man and a girl/woman who are not married. The crime of adultery is also used in cases where a girl is deemed to have committed "acts incompatible with chastity," which includes instances of rape. The punishment for "adultery" is death.

On the day of her punishment, the woman's hands are tied behind her back as she becomes covered from head to toe in winding sheets and is placed seated in a pit. The pit is then filled up to her chest with dirt and the dirt is tamped down. At that point, members of the community are invited to murder her by hurling rocks at her. However, to ensure that the condemned woman/girl receives the absolute maximum amount of pain and torture, the Iranian government has even mandated the size of the stones that are to be used in this barbaric act of public execution. By law, the stones must not be too small as to prevent ultimate death, nor must they be too large that they could cause the girl's death "too soon."
I thank you for your support, friendship, and kindness, and I look forward to a day when no woman is abused, tortured, or murdered simply because of her gender.
Lily Mazahery
The direct link to Saving Malak's Life is:

Walid Jumblat: Sophisticated arsenal is not there for no reason

via Nahar Net,
Lebanon has become a proxy battleground for Iran in its resistance to US-led pressure on its nuclear program, Druze leader Walid Jumblat charged Sunday. "The war is no longer Lebanon's ... it is an Iranian war," Jumblat told Arabic news channel Al-Arabiya on the fifth day of an Israeli onslaught against Lebanon following the capture of two soldiers by Hizbullah.

"Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel," said the Druze leader, who is a close ally of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and an outspoken critic of Iran's key regional ally Syria.

Jumblat said Hizbullah's "sophisticated arsenal is not there for no reason" and that "Lebanon has become the battlefield" for Iran's nuclear stand-off with the West.

Hizbullah is backed by Iran and Syria, although the two governments deny arming it.
Iran will fight to the last Arab.

Eric Lee: Why the left should support Israel in this war

An excerpt from Eric Lee's post via Harry's Place,
The real question for socialists when a war like this breaks out is to look at what will happen if either side wins. Let us imagine that Israel wins -- meaning that the captured soldiers are returned and the rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon end. The result will not only be good for Israel, but good for the Palestinians and Lebanese as well. The Islamo-fascists will be weakened. Democratic and secular forces will be strengthened. Socialists should cheer this on.

Now image what happens if Hamas and Hizbollah win. They over-run the Jewish state, slaughtering and expelling its several million Jewish inhabitants. They create a reactionary theocratic dictatorship along the lines of their benefactor, Iran. No one benefits -- not the Jews, not the Arabs. This a result that only fascists could applaud.

Some socialists are pacifists and oppose all wars. But most of us understand that sometimes a country has to fight. And sometimes two peoples go to war against each other, and we have to take sides. We look at the reasons behind the fighting and more important -- we look at the consequences of victory for one side or the other.

Castro's dead rumors

Babalu Blog is following them. We're into day four of rumors. Babalu writes after listing the links,
Unfortunately, that's all I have that I feel I can publish at the moment without helping perpetuate the rumors. As I've said all along, we have but to wait until July 26 for verification. Should fidel not appear on his holiday, chances are he is either at death's door or begging Satan not to make him recite the Pledge of Allegiance of the US in perpetuity for all eternity.

Stay tuned.
No believer in Universal salvation is Babalu.

Akbar Ganji Calls for 3-day Hunger Strike in solidarity with Iranian Political Prisoners

The human rights situation in Iran continues to deteriorate. Petitions and protests to end the abuses have gone unanswered. During the past year, Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s government has continued the Islamic Republic's policy of monopolising power in Iran by silencing all independent and dissenting voices. The suppression of demonstrators in Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, and Kurdistan, the silencing of labor, women, and student movements and the vicious attacks on demonstrators throughout the past year, are all evidence of the ongoing and abhorrent human rights violations by the Islamic Republic of Iran. By arresting and imprisoning intellectuals, lawyers, political activists, and labour leaders and by forcing the early retirement of dozens of University professors, Ahmadinejad’s government is pursing polices that are reminiscent of some of the darkest days of the Islamic Republic.

In such an atmosphere, Iran’s democracy movement calls for the unity and support of people of conscience from around the world. Without such unity, there is little hope of stemming the appalling human rights violations in Iran and the growing authoritarianism of regime.

In response to this deteriorating situation, we the undersigned lend our support and welcome the suggestion of Akbar Ganji – Iran’s leading dissent intellectual who was recently freed after 2222 days of imprisonment – for a global hunger strike that demands the release of three prominent political prisoners namely: Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeni, a student leader and former member of parliament, Dr Ramin Jahanbegloo, a philosopher, professor and public intellectual and Mansour Osanloo, a prominent labor leader and executive director of the Worker’s Syndicated Union.

Additionally, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees from the Islamic Republic’s jails but we specifically demand the release of the above mentioned persons who represent various groups of prisoners of conscience in Iran. Should their release not be secured, we, the undersigned, will begin a co-ordinated global hunger strike from July 14 through July 16, 2006 to draw attention to our demands. We ask for the support and solidarity of people from around the world who share our goals for a democratic Iran and an immediate end to all violations of human rights.
Signers here via S'Can-Iranic

Saturday, July 15, 2006

David Horwitz interviews Nick Cohen and Norman Geras about the Euston Manifesto

They don't agree but as Horwitz concluded, Perhaps it has been useful to others.

It is. Politics needs a left and Euston is the left's best expression.

And not all Persians support it

Winston's statement of solidarity with Israel.

It's not an Arab Israeli war; it's an Israeli Persian war

As Bill Kristol points out.
WHY IS THIS ARAB-ISRAELI WAR different from all other Arab-Israeli wars? Because it's not an Arab-Israeli war. Most of Israel's traditional Arab enemies have checked out of the current conflict. The governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are, to say the least, indifferent to the fate of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) isn't a player. The prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war is a non-Arab state, Iran, which wasn't involved in any of Israel's previous wars.

What's happening in the Middle East, then, isn't just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What's happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West--but is India part of the West? Better to say that what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.
And it's worth noting animoisty between Israel and Iran something new,
Persian Iran sat out all three Arab-Israeli wars and even during the Arab oil boycott of the 1970s, continued supplying Israel with oil. The 100,000 Jews in Iran helped sustain robust Iranian-Israeli trade.

Even after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution severed these ties and sent most Iranian Jews fleeing, overlapping interests allowed these arch-enemies to do business. Mutual animosity toward Iraq - and Israel's desire to preserve influence with Tehran moderates - led Israel to supply weapons to the Islamic Republic well into the 1980s, including service as middleman in the Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages deal
Also interesting that Israel's President Moshe Katsav, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz are Iranian Jews, Farsi Speakers; with Katsave and Mofaz both born in Teheran.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Illinoisans For Mitt

A blog by locals supporting Mitt Romney in 2008: Illinoisans For Mitt .

HT to Backyard Conservative

Christianity Today: Reinhold Niebuhr and Billy Graham

Andrew S. Finstuen writes the The Prophet and the Evangelist in July/August 2006 issue of Christianity Today.

I'm struck that the Evangelical read all of Niebuhr but Niebuhr didn't reciprocate. A problem I find with my UU framing discussions were it seems most get their Conservative Theology via the television.
For example, Graham startled the Protestant world with his admission in 1958 that he had read "nearly everything Mr. Niebuhr has written." Graham apparently meant what he said. As late as the 1980s, Graham claimed: "Look, I need some more Reinhold Niebuhrs in my life. I would say Reinhold Niebuhr was a great contributor to me. He helped me work through some of my problems."
cross posted at Pfarrer Streccius

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fed deficit down, Illinois deficit up

Folks over at Illinois Review debate if Bush undercut Topinka when he touted US economic growth while they've been taking shots at Blagojevich for lack of growth. Well, growth is relative is the point and Illinois hasn't been managing the revenues from that growth very well when compared with what's happing nationally. From Frank Watson reviewing Hynes's report on Illinois's deficit,
The deterioration in the state’s fiscal condition occurred during a period of very healthy revenue growth. The Governor managed to increase the deficit during a year in which state income tax revenues grew by $1.332 billion and other state tax revenues went up by $833 million.
And compare that with the NYT's story from July 9,
Tax revenues are climbing twice as fast as the administration predicted in February, so fast that the budget deficit could actually decline this year.

The main reason is a big spike in corporate tax receipts, which have nearly tripled since 2003, as well as what appears to be a big increase in individual taxes on stock market profits and executive bonuses.
Illinois could be growing faster and could be managing the revenues better. There's plenty for JBT and Birkett to chomp on if they would come out swinging.

cross posted at Illinoiz

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Frank Zeidler 1912-2006

Frank was the last Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee and served from 1948 until 1960. Proud to say I knew him in the 1970s and invited him to speak at Grinnell College in 1975. His wife drove him out to Iowa since he didn't drive. He always took the bus while Mayor and told me it was one way he stayed in touch with voters. He was also a devout Lutheran and taught Sunday School.

Milwaukee Journal has a nice slide show on him.
Zeidler later ran unsuccessfully as a Socialist candidate for governor and the House of Representatives. In 1976, he was the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party USA.

Jimmy Carter won the presidential election that year with nearly 41 million votes. Zeidler, on the ballot in six states, received 5,427 votes, of which 4,258 were from Wisconsin.
Mine was one of those votes from outside Wisconsin. It was the only time I broke from voting for a Democrat until 2004. More from the MSJ,
Milwaukee has had non-partisan elections since 1912, but Socialism had developed a strong foothold in the largely German and working-class Milwaukee of the turn of the century, said Milwaukee historian John Gurda.

"They were creative; they were incorruptible; they were absolutely incorruptible; they were frugal," Gurda said of the Socialists.
Creative, absolutely incorruptible, and frugal not bad ways for a politician to be remembered.