Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mirfat Al-Hakim on Hizbullah's Children's Militias.

Mirfat Al-Hakim writing in the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yusuf via a MEMRI translation,
According to Roz Al-Yusuf, "Hizbullah has recruited over 2,000 innocent children aged 10-15 to form armed militias. Before the recent war with Israel, these children appeared only in the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations, and were referred to as the 'December 14 Units,' but today they are called istishhadiyun ['martyrs']..."

"Hizbullah has customarily recruited youths and children and trained them to fight from a very early age. These are children barely 10 years old, who wear camouflage uniforms, cover their faces with black [camouflage] paint, swear to wage jihad, and join the Mahdi Scouts [youth organization]...

"The children are selected by Hizbullah recruitment [officers] based on one criterion only: They must be willing to become martyrs."
According to the article, Na'im Qasim, deputy to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, said in an interview on Radio Canada: "A nation with child-martyrs will be victorious, no matter what difficulties lie in its path. Israel cannot conquer us or violate our territories, because we have martyr sons who will purge the land of the Zionist filth... This will be done through the blood of the martyrs, until we eventually achieve our goals."

Monday, August 28, 2006

I know now that humankind marks certain people for death. Against them there shuts a door.

Norm Geras quoting Chicago's Saul Bellow on Eric Reeves assesment of Darfur today,
The final moment of diplomatic truth for Darfur has at last arrived. All evidence suggests that the international community is prepared to acquiesce before the military onslaught Khartoum's National Islamic Front is preparing for North Darfur...
If under these circumstances the international community is unwilling even to threaten non-consensual intervention to protect civilians and humanitarians in Darfur, then Khartoum may rightly, in full throat, exult in its savage triumph.

Ghazi Hamad in Al-Ayyam: The Reality in Gaza is Miserable, Wretched, and a Failure in Every Sense of the Word

via MEMRI.

Hamas's Ghazi Hamad on the mess in Gaza. I think reality is hitting home. That's what Democracy does.
"...I want to make a reckoning and own up to our mistakes. We are always afraid to speak honestly about our mistakes, as we have become accustomed to placing the blame on other factors. The anarchy, chaos, pointless murders, the plundering of lands, family feuds... what do all of these have to do with the occupation? We have always been accustomed to pinning our failures on others, and conspiratorial thinking is still widespread among us...

"We exhausted our people time after time with errors in which everyone played a role...

"The question is: Why did we not keep Gaza's freedom? In the past we said, time and again, that we are in favor of the liberation of every inch of land. Today we have thousands of inches - 365 square kilometers - and nonetheless we have not succeeded in keeping this great blessing, and we have begun to lose it...

"A simple statistical calculation shows that since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, 500 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,000 wounded. There are 200 handicapped, and more than 150 homes have been demolished - and this in addition to the destruction of the infrastructure, the bridges, and the electric power plants. The number of Israelis killed by [Palestinian] rockets is no more than three or four... Would it not have been possible to limit our losses and maximize our achievements, if we had only used our minds?...

"When you walk around in Gaza, you cannot help but avert your eyes from what you see: indescribable anarchy, policemen that nobody cares about, youth proudly carrying weapons, mourning tents set up in the middle of main streets, and from time to time you hear that so-and-so was murdered in the middle of the night, and the response comes quickly the next morning. Large families carry weapons in tribal wars against other families. Gaza has turned into a garbage dump, there is a stench, and sewage flows [in the streets].

"The government cannot do anything, the opposition [Fatah] looks on from the sidelines, engaged in internal bickering, and the president has no power... We are walking aimlessly in the streets. The reality in which we are living in Gaza can only be described as miserable and wretched, and as a failure in every sense of the word. We applauded the elections and the unique democratic experience, but in reality there has been a great step backwards. We spoke of national consensus, [but] it turned out to be like a leaf blowing in the wind..."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Petition for Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi

From Nazanin's petition site. HT Iranian Woman
On January 3, 2006, 18-year-old Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi was sentenced to death for murder by court in Iran after she stabbed one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 16-year-old niece in a park in Karaj (a suburb of Tehran) in March 2005. She was seventeen at the time. Iran is signatory to international treaties which forbid them to execute any one under the age of 18; however they continue to do so.

The injustice of this case propelled Nazanin Afshin-Jam to take immediate action and start a petition to help save the life of her namesake. The petition now has over 200 000 signatures from around the world.

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin interviewed in Al-Nahar

via MEMRI,
Question: "Do you think that Hizbullah has monopolized the Shi'ite community, and dragged the country into a difficult war in its name?..."

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "I don't think Hizbullah asked the Shi'ite community about the war. Perhaps the great emigration from the south is the best proof that the people of the south were against the war. The Shi'ite community authorized no one to declare war in its name or to drag it into a war that was far from its wishes and from the wishes of the other ethnic communities in Lebanon. What happened in the south does not represent the will of the Shi'ite community, and is not its responsibility, but was caused by the vacuum that the Lebanese state left for years in this region... What happened is the natural result of a state relinquishing its duty to defend a region and its citizens."

Iranian Woman: Khatami, Global Justice and Reconciliation

Iranian Woman on Justice and Reconciliation via Spirit of Man.
The US State Department has issued the visa for Khatami, and Reverend Peterson is inviting him to The Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation.

Reverend Canon John L. Peterson at or (202) 537-5745

Khatami's team MURDERED Saidi Sirjani in 1994. Khatami became the president of the Islamic Republic after this Murder and the system continued killing intellectuals and WHO EVER had a secular belief.
Send Peterson an email on how he reconciles the injustice. I'm sure it has something to do with peace.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Political Arithmetik: CT Sen: Got to GOTV

Political Arithmetik crunches the numbers in Conn.

Interesting stuff.

Helen Thomas at yesterday's press conference

via Powerline,
THE PRESIDENT: Helen. (Laughter.) What's so funny about me saying "Helen"? (Laughter.) It's the anticipation of your question, I guess.

Q Israel broke its word twice on a truce. And you mentioned Hezbollah rockets, but it's -- Israeli bombs have destroyed Lebanon. Why do you always give them a pass? And what's your view on breaking of your oath for a truce?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thank you. I like to remind people about how this started, how this whole -- how the damage to innocent life, which bothers me -- but, again, what caused this.

Q Why drop bombs on --

THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish -- let -- ma'am. Ma'am, please let me finish the question. It's a great question to begin with. The follow-up was a little difficult, but anyway. (Laughter.) I know you're waiting for my answer, aren't you, with bated breath.

This never would have occurred had a terrorist organization, a state within a state, not launched attacks on a sovereign nation. From the beginning, Helen, I said that Israel, one, has a right to defend herself, but Israel ought to be cautious about how she defends herself. Israel is a democratically elected government. They make decisions on their own sovereignty. It's their decision-making that is -- what leads to the tactics they chose.

But the world must understand that now is the time to come together to address the root cause of the problem. And the problem was you have a state within a state. You have people launch attacks on a sovereign nation without the consent of the government in the country in which they are lodged.

And that's why it's very important for all of us, those of us who are involved in this process, to get an international force into Lebanon to help the Lebanese government achieve some objectives. One is their ability to exert control over the entire country; secondly is to make sure that the Hezbollah forces don't rearm, don't get arms from Syria or Iran through Syria, to be able to continue to wreak havoc in the region.

E. J. Dionne: A Wrong Turn for Liberalism and those Lakoff frames

Dionne writes of a new biography of historian Richard Hofstadter by David S. Brown: Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography.

Now I know what's so flaky about those Lakoff frames. When someone trots out those Frames, the arguments get dismissed. Takes all the fun and creativity out of public policy, which probably explains why Conservative writers usually more fun to read, even when I disagree with them.

They're at least treating me as an adult, and as the Libertarian joke went: Liberals want Gov be your mom, Conservatives a Dad, and Libertarians want Gov to treat you like an adult.

No one appreciates a Liberalism that dismisses reasonable argument as a disorder. As Lasch says below, it's lazy.

Many progressives and reformers, he argued, represented an old Anglo-Saxon middle class who suffered from "status anxiety'' in reaction to the rise of a vulgar new business elite. Hofstadter analyzed the right wing of the 1950s and early 1960s in similar terms. Psychological disorientation and social displacement became more important than ideas or interests.

Now Hofstadter was exciting precisely because he brilliantly revised accepted and sometimes pious views of what the populists and progressives were about. But there was something dismissive about Hofstadter's analysis that blinded liberals to the legitimate grievances of the populists, the progressives and, yes, the right wing.

The late Christopher Lasch, one of Hofstadter's students and an admiring critic, noted that by conducting "political criticism in psychiatric categories,'' Hofstadter and his intellectual allies excused themselves "from the difficult work of judgment and argumentation.''

Lasch added archly: "Instead of arguing with opponents, they simply dismissed them on psychiatric grounds.''

This was, I believe, a wrong turn for liberalism. It was a mistake to tear liberalism from its populist roots and to emphasize the irrational element of popular movements almost to the exclusion of their own self-understandings. FDR, whom Hofstadter admired, always understood the need to marry the urban (and urbane) forms of liberalism to the traditions of reform and popular protest.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Obama, the Messiah and the Mob

Kristen McQueary writing in The Daily Southtown on what can only happen in Illinois. HT Marathon Pundit also at Illinoize.
Everyone knows House Speaker Michael Madigan is a man of few words.

Last week, he uttered a special one: Messiah.

"There's been no word from the messiah," Madigan answered wryly when I asked whether he would be supporting Democratic Treasurer nominee Alexi Giannoulias in November.

The "messiah" to whom Madigan referred is U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama yanked Giannoulias from obscurity and endorsed his run for state treasurer — despite the fact that Madigan had a different candidate in mind. In TV commercials that catapulted Giannoulias into Illinois living rooms, Obama called the young treasurer candidate "one of the most outstanding young men I could ever hope to meet."

Madigan didn't take too kindly to it, especially when Giannoulias won the nomination.

So far, Madigan is giving Giannoulias the cold shoulder, bolstered by media reports that Giannoulias' family bank extended loans to a mob figure. The mob issue hasn't crushed the Giannoulias campaign, but it jackknifed momentum this spring and surely gave Madigan some smug satisfaction.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Rumsfeld reflects on 'Sept. 12' world

A good interview here via Elephants in Academia,
The latest plot "is a reminder -- probably even a useful reminder for everybody -- that this is going to be a long struggle, and that there are a large number of people who are determined to try to defeat freedom," he said.

"The organization, the financing, the purposefulness of these people is real, and they're not the kind of people that you negotiate with ... they don't accept halfway measures."

He recalled a speech he gave in 1984 as President Reagan's Middle East envoy after a Hezbollah bombing killed 241 Marines in Beirut: "And you look at what's going on today ... this long war didn't just start on Sept. 11."

Yet he said many people confuse terrorism for "a criminal activity ... we've had a great deal of difficulty getting the country and the world to understand that this is different, this is a long struggle" against "violent extremists ... who are determined and persistent."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Peter Beinart: The Ned Scare

I remember George McGovern. My first vote was for George McGovern. Now I know Ned Lamont is no George McGovern.

Peter Beinart explains why.
It is the absence of such a worldview that allows Lamont to wax hawkish about North Korea while urging near-immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. And that allowed congressional Democrats to demagogue the Dubai ports deal, even as they criticized the Bush administration for alienating Arab public opinion. Lamont's critics are wrong: Ideologically, he is not Carl Maxey [challanged Scoop Jackson in 1970], and his supporters are not mostly McGovernites. The greater danger is that he is Jimmy Carter or Michael Dukakis, and his supporters are like the Democrats who wandered in the post-Vietnam, pre-Clinton intellectual wilderness: able to describe the conservative vision they abhor but not the liberal alternative they propose.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Leonard Fein: A Word Liberals Dare Not Speak

Quotes from another good essay in The Forward,
Left-liberals are loath to deal with the scourge of terrorism. By and large, they see the people others label “terrorists” as merely malcontents. Enemies? People are, after all, intrinsically good, even if they have, through no fault of their own, turned bad somewhere along the way. Everyone — well, nearly everyone — can be redeemed, no? Call them “militants,” call them “insurgents,” “guerrillas,” go all the way and call them “freedom fighters,” but no, do not call them “enemies.”

There are layers upon layers here. We are dealing with fundamental notions of sin and virtue, of good versus evil, and these are concepts largely absent from the vocabulary and the worldview of the contemporary left. We — yes, I am a confirmed left-liberal — bristled when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” we snicker (or shudder) at George W. Bush’s Manichaean view of the world, that view that holds that “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists,” a view that simply deletes the vast middle ground, all the gray areas of moral ambiguity. We see that Pat Robertson is in Jerusalem praying with Ehud Olmert and that Dick Cheney is suddenly Israel’s best friend, he and his acolyte hawks who want to make war against Iran. (And, of course, prefer that it be Israel that does the actual fighting.)

But the core of the matter remains, I believe, the reluctance of the left-liberals to accept as a part of our new situation the hard reality of terrorism. Even if we worry privately that Samuel Huntington may have been prescient with his “Clash of Civilizations,” we cling to a rosier view. We remain more concerned with civil liberties than with national security.

David Klinghoffer: A Judgment Observed Does Not a Theocracy Make

David Klinghoffer writing in The Forward about those who can't tell the mishpat from the chok,
Some members of America’s political and cultural elite have been having a tough time lately distinguishing between the political philosophy of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and that of our country’s religious conservatives. Ahmadinejad is a classic theocrat whose regime subjects his country to religious law. Can we say the same of a Christian like George W. Bush?
Read the whole thing.

Esther in Iran: ghosts, drownings, and the next war

From Esther blogging in Iran,
9 PM Monday night: Iranian tv calls for Iranians to go to the streets to celebrate Hezbollah’s victory. The call and response of Allah Akbar (God is great) begin. There are about 50 people out in our neighborhood. A few people light fireworks, by 9:15 our neighborhood is silent except for sporadic victory honking throughout the evening.

“I am afraid there will be attacks on foreigners,” my friend says. We are standing on her balcony where we can see a huge part of Tehran.

“You’re probably in more danger in London than here,” I respond.

“Things can change so quickly.”

“We both know Elizabeth who was here all during the revolution – she said that no one ever bothered her.”

“That is because the enemy was internal. This time the enemy is the West, and we are westerners.”

“Look, the government has approved a celebration for Hezbollah tonight, and there are only about 50 people in our neighborhood out and there just a couple of fireworks. This is an opportunity to celebrate: it’s sanctioned, and in Tehran very few people are taking that opportunity.”

“It does not take many people to cause big problems.”

“You’re right.”

I dream of ghosts, drownings, and the next war.

8 AM Tuesday morning: We wake up to highways lined with banners of Nasrallah. Thousands of banners. Tehran is really quiet. Really quiet.

if the Democrats take Congress

Conventional wisdom is if Democrats take one or both house they'll start a series of investigations on Bush Administration.

While some will Bush for that, I'm betting the Democrats will start throwing lots of money, for better or worse, on the War instead.

Because they'll fear a successful terror attack between Nov 2006 and the 2008 elections, and the last thing they'll want is to be attacking Bush; while America attacked.

Instead, they'll push for more weapon systems. They'll follow a policy of Muscular Isolationism with some token multilateral diplomacy. Token because the partners know the can't count on the neo-isolationists in Congress.

Michael Freund: The real blunder in Lebanon

Barone Blog links Michael Freund explaining The real blunder in Lebanon,
Not since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait has a Middle Eastern leader made such a grievous strategic mistake, both in underestimating his foe and miscalculating the impact of his own course of action.
And he means Ahmadinejad, transferring advanced rockets and weaponry to Hizbullah, Teheran and Damascus have just unwittingly proven one of the Bush Administration's central contentions regarding the need for preemptive action against rogue states in the global war on terror.

The two countries have demonstrated that they are ready and willing to share missile systems with a terrorist organization, thus strengthening the case that they must be prevented from obtaining weapons of mass destruction at all costs.

This very point was at the heart of an important speech made by US President George W. Bush last October in which he outlined America's strategy for fighting terror across the globe. Speaking at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, Bush made clear that, "we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation."

Furthermore, he stated, "Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account."

Outing another Lieberman Supporter

Denny Hastert's Democratic opponent: John Laesch; outs a local Lieberman supporter in Illinois's 14th district.

Spreading ... a little party cleansing soap and water around the 14th District as Laesch puts it.

Laesch loses of course, but he'll continue the purge of Democrats. This is what will destroy Democrats in 2008.

Habib Saleh: arrested for disseminating fake news

A press release from,

A military trial and a harsh Penalty for a writer for his online articles

The Egyptian Human rights organizations call for a fair trail to Habib Saleh

Cairo, 16 August 2006

Egyptian human rights organizations condemned today the harsh penalty decided by the military court in Hamas city, Syria against the writer "Habib Saleh", 59 years old, because some of his articles via internet that criticizing the Syrian government.

Habib Saleh was arrested in May 27, 2005 from his office in Tartos, and he was kept under arrest for more than one year until the yesterday sentence of three years in jail. The military court accused him of "disseminating fake news!".

This decision was not the first of its kind against Saleh. In 2002 he was sentenced of three years along with other ten activists in a case called "Damascus Spring". Syria is under the state of emergency for 43 years.

Egyptian NGOs states that "The freedom of expression and the political criticizing is a right for every citizen. And when the government claims that this criticizing went beyond the limits of the law, there should be a fair and justice trail, which was not the case with Habib Saleh. Trail under the military courts and the state of emergency does not respect the minimum standards of justice.

Habeb Saleh is the Seventh Syrian writer who is tried for his online articles. The unfair military trials became a systematic way dealing with the writers, journalists, and democracy advocators in Syria.

For more information about the internet prisoners in Syria:
1. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo)
2. Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
3. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
4. South Center for Human Rights
5. Al-Nadim Center for Psychological Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence
6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
7. Egyptian Association against Torture
8. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
9. Center for Rural Studies- Egypt
10. Hisham Mubark Center for Law
11. The Arabic Program for Human Rights Activists
12. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
13. Maat Center for Legal and Constitutional Studies- Egypt
14. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
15. Andalus Center for the Studies of Tolerance and Violence Confrontation
16. The Egyptian association for economic and social rights
17. Habi Center for Environmental Rights - Egypt
18. Development and Human Rights Forum - Egypt
19. Shomuu for Humanitarian Rights Care
20. Awlad Al-Ard Institution for Human Rights

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Oliver Kamm: Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy

Amazon UK's review of Oliver Kamm's new book, Anti -Totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy.
Throughout the past century the Left has fractured over the issue of national security. In Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy, Oliver Kamm plots a course for progressive politics by drawing on four pivotal historical debates on the British Left. These episodes comprise: collective security in the 1930s; opposition to Communist expansionism after World War II; the Labour Party's rejection in the 1980s of its earlier anti-Communism; and President Bush's "war on terror".

Kamm identifies, running through these debates, an authentic left-wing tradition of militant anti-totalitarianism. Against it, however, there has been a recurring temptation for progressives, critical of their own societies' failings, to extenuate or even romanticise the ideological opponents of Western liberal democracies.

Kamm criticises left-wingers who instinctively oppose the use of force by the Western democracies. He demonstrates the affinity between their supposedly progressive anti-interventionism and a conservative 'realism' (which Kamm terms 'amoral quietism') that fails even in its own terms as a strategy for preserving vital interests. Kamm demonstrates that these issues are not new to British political debate, and that the Left is reprising familiar errors. The sole novel feature of left-wing opposition to the Blair-Bush strategy since 9/11 is that an alliance has emerged between different and previously hostile forms of totalitarianism.

Against self-styled realists, Kamm defends regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of an anti-totalitarian struggle with recognisable antecedents in twentieth-century Europe. He argues that the promotion of global democracy accords with the Left's internationalist ideals of opposition to fascism and clerical reaction. Indeed, the much-maligned term neoconservatism should be seen as a modern variant of traditional liberal internationalism.

Interventionism has recently been a difficult cause to argue in British politics. Kamm expounds it, as Martin Bell notes in his foreword, "with style, dexterity and scholarship"

Chavez and the bankers

David Osler is a Marxist having second thoughts about Chavez,
Dave's Part: Venezuela: banking on the revolution: "The Financial Times today reports on how the banking sector is faring in ‘revolutionary’ Venezuela. The headline tells you much of what you need to know:

Venezuelan bankers get rich from Chavez's revolution

Bankers traditionally face firing squads in times of revolution. But in Venezuela, they are having a party.

Diran Sarkissian, president of the local subsidiary of Stanford Bank, a US bank with offshore operations based on the Caribbean island of Antigua, is proud of his rapidly lengthening list of high-net-worth customers who are enjoying President Hugo Chavez's self-styled 'Bolivarian Revolution'."

Monday, August 14, 2006

William Shawcross: the arc of extremism

His Arc of Extremism column his available without subscribtion now at JP Online. Here are the concluding paragraphs,
In a thoughtful recent speech in Los Angeles Blair spoke of fighting an "arc of extremism." That extremism is Islamic extremism, whether it is inspired al-Qaida or by Teheran, whether its foot soldiers are Sunni or Shi'ite, whether they were born in Britain, or southern Lebanon, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else.

As Blair said: The battle is over the values that are to govern the future of the worlds. "Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity; or those of reaction, division, hatred?"

"This is war," said Blair.

Alas, it is. Wherever they were born, the men who want to blow up airliners, who want to destroy Israel and, not coincidentally, who want to kill all hope of a decent society in Iraq - are Islamo-fascists who are united in hatred of us.

The sooner we in Europe understand that, and that they must be defeated, the safer everyone - Christians, Jews, Muslims, and non-believers - will be.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Spartacus triumphant

More David Osler in Havana,
Dave's Part: Castro: cult of personality: "So instead, let me share with you a couple of examples of the clear devotion the Cuban people for el comandante, as published in Granma - the only available newspaper - this week. On Thursday, Atilio A Boron gave us his perspective on the Cuban revolution, adding:

'Fidel is the personification of this extraordinary achievement. He is Spartacus triumphant, who defeated the American Rome, the unyielding Quixote who synthesises the clairvoyance of Marti, the heroism of Che and the iron will of Ignacio de Loyola.'

Some guy, then. Yesterday, a bunch of Cuban orphans saw their letter to FC published on page one, under the headline 'We have confidence in your unwavering spirit'. This is how they see the man:

'We lost our fathers when we were very small ... but we have always felt by our side a greater Father, the father of all Cuban revolutionaries. From you we have always received attention, affection and the example of an irreproachable revolutionary.'"

Saad bin Laden and the cease fire in Lebanon

Did Saad bin Laden agree to it too? From ABC,
Die Welt said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard released Saad bin Laden on July 28 with the aim of sending him to the Syria-Lebanon border. It linked the reported move to the outbreak of war between Israel and Lebanese-based Hizbollah.

"From the Lebanese border, he has the task of building Islamist terror cells and preparing them to fight together with Hizbollah," Die Welt said, quoting intelligence information.

"Apparently Tehran is counting on recruiting Lebanese refugees in Syria for the fight against Israel, using bin Laden's help," it added in a preview of a report to appear in its Thursday edition.

Western intelligence sources have long suspected that Iran is holding a number of al Qaeda figures, possibly including Saad bin Laden and Saif al-Adel, the network's security chief.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Robert Conquest: Corliss Lamont Chair of Civil Liberties like a Dr. Mengele Chair of Preventive Medicine

David Blank quoting from a letter from Robert Conquest in the History Network,
For half a century Corliss Lamont was the most consistent and best known American apologist for Stalin and the Soviet Union. Through the Moscow trials and the murders of Ehrlich and Alter and Leon Trotsky; through the Nazi-Soviet pact, the invasion of Finland, and the conquest of the Baltic states; through the murders at Katyn, the lowering of the Iron Curtain over eastern Europe, and the "Jewish doctors' plot"; through the years of the Gulag and the "unanimous" elections, there was Corliss Lamont faithfully explaining to the American people how much the West was maligning the Soviet Union and how close to Paradise the Soviet Union really was.

To show that he was totally non-partisan in his support of authoritarian societies, in 1977 Lamont coordinated the placement of an advertisement in the N.Y. Times (Jan 30) in which he and a group of like-thinkers indicated that "the present [Communist] government in Vietnam should be hailed for its moderation and for its extraordinary effort to achieve reconciliation among all its people". Of course a million boat-people may have had a different view.

In 1979, he and another group signed another advertisement in the Times (June 24) which stated that "Vietnam now enjoys human rights as it has never known in its history..." and approvingly quoted a resolution of the National Lawyers Guild that "clearly recognizes...that the reeducation program for [a half-million] former Saigon personnel carried out by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was absolutely necessary...". What a great civil libertarian!

The reason I got involved with Lamont's history was because, after earlier spending many years as student and faculty member at Columbia University, I belatedly learned that Columbia Law School had established a Corliss Lamont Chair of Civil Liberties! A Corliss Lamont Chair of Civil Liberties? As I wrote then-President Sovern, that is like establishing a Fritz Kuhn Chair of American Values or a Paul de Man Distinguished Professorship of Jewish Studies! Or, as Robert Conquest wrote to me, like establishing a Dr. Mengele Chair of Preventive Medicine. I wrote many people, inside and outside Columbia, about my anger at this appointment and received many letters in full agreement with me

David Blank

Friday, August 11, 2006

Roskam asks Duckworth How does that work?

A Roskam Press Release dated today over at Illinois Review although it's yet to show up on his site.
WHEATON - One day after a foiled terrorist plot on American airliners departing from Great Britain, Roskam called on his opponent, Democrat Tammy Duckworth, to take a solid position on the Patriot Act and the policies that have protected our nation since September 11th, 2001.
The Patriot Act is one of many issues Tammy Duckworth has been elusive and vague on. In February, Duckworth said she is “torn but would probably vote for the compromise” (Daily Herald, 2/27/06, Patriot Act stirs…”). Duckworth also voiced opposition to terrorist surveillance programs saying “such actions after September 11 were understandable” but added that “it’s a different climate now” (Daily Herald, 2/27/06, Patriot Act stirs…”).
And some excellant advice from Daniel Henninger in the WSJ about a question every Republican (Democrat too for that matter) I believe obligated to ask,
That was unfortunate timing this week for the Lamont Democrats, declaring themselves officially the antiwar party within 24 hours of the Brits foiling an Islamic terror plot to spread thousands of U.S.-bound bodies across the North Atlantic, or perhaps across New York, Boston and Washington as the planes descended. Yes, we know; they support the war on terror but are merely against George Bush's war in Iraq. How does that work?
In a better world, the U.S. war on terror, at its core, would be bipartisan. That world was what Joe Lieberman's politics represented. That world is dead. Democratic support for the Republican administration's plans to fight these terrorists is down to about zero. This means the Democrats must have a plan of their own to defeat terror. Every Republican running for office at every level this fall should force his opponent to describe it. And if they aren't certain about the details, they can call Ned Lamont.
So Duckworth, Bean, Hare... how does that work?

cross posted at Illinoiz

Barone Blog: A McCain-Lieberman ticket?

Barone speculates on what Austin Bey first suggested.

If not as Republicans, then as a third party.

Sign me up.

They want to kill any and all of us.

Lieberman today,
“I’m worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don’t appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us — more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War,” Mr. Lieberman said.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have healthy disagreement and discussion about national security, but to make it into a partisan political football, it’s just unacceptable and in my opinion un-American,” he said.

“How the heck can we be in a battle in which we are fighting as Democrats and Republicans against each other, when these terrorists certainly don’t distinguish based on our party affiliation?” Mr. Lieberman said. “They want to kill any and all of us.”
I worry about America too.

Akbar Ganji meets Sean Penn

Rooz online reports on their meeting.

Wonder what world Penn is in when he compares the fate of Iranian Human Rights activists like Akbar Mohammadi or Zahra Kazemi with criticism profs like Chomsky face in the US,
On human rights in the US, Penn is reported to have said that if someone raised unusual criticism of Israel, then even intellectuals in the US distanced themselves from the person.
But Human Rights activists in the middle east are largely ignored in the US and particularly by the Liberal Left, so Penn is doing some good here.

Max Eastman to Corliss Lamont 1938: Truth and Lies

The final two paragraphs form Max Eastman's letter to Corliss Lamont. Eastman is writing about Lamont's defense of Stalin's purge trials,
As National Chairman of the Friends of Soviet Russia you are, and must be if you remain in office, on all basic issues an obedient adherent of the Stalin party line. You well know the “for us or against us” policy. You know that the unscrupulous vilification and destruction of critics is as essential a technic of the Monolithic Party as of the Totalitarian State. You know that your pose of detached intelligence is being used, and what it is being used for. Perhaps you will realize why I call the resulting state of consciousness Pharasaical, when I remind you that you have addressed these noble-sounding sentences to me, among others, and that they arrived in my hand just after I had been criminally advertised to the world by your colleagues and co-workers, on the basis of these same “confessions” whose credibility you are so eagerly advocating, as an “Agent of the British Secret Service”. You are hand in glove with the authors of that criminal libel. You are doing their work, the work of which it is an integral part. You know them to be, and have yourself named them “Lie Communists”. And yet you strike this pose, and make this plea against “vituperation”, and for a “sincere” disagreement about “the grave issues” etc. And you send the letter to me!

Corliss, the grave issue at the present moment is between truth and lies. It may seem to you that I am drawing moral issues rather fine against you here and now. But you will find that in your role of public defender of a deliberate policy of falsification, you will be impelled, and compelled, to more and more crude, more and more conscious, more and more debased and foul, and even as we see in Russia, murderous, tricks of public deceit and private knifing, until there is not a clear fibre left of the man who coined those words “Truth Communist” and “Lie Communist”, and who wrote that moving inscription in my copy of his book.

Andrey Vyshinsky re: Corliss Lamont, a great fumbler

Svetlana Chervonnaya reviews the Moscow archives a few days ago.
In March 9, 1950 reference sent to Andrey Vyshinsky in connection with the latter's reluctance to invite Corliss Lamont tothe USSR, Lamont is characterized as "a great fumbler and one of the hesitating liberals", and at the same time as a person who "has alwaysbeen connected with the progressive movement and supported itfinancially", and for this reason "to refuse Lamont to visit the USSR <…>would make his further use in carrying out progressive measures difficult."

Corliss Lamont: Sydney Hook's letter to Lamont after Khrushchev's secret speech

Oliver Kamm writing on the anniversary of Khrushchev's secret speech,
John Rettie's reference to the rumours of suicide among some delegates who heard Khrushchev's speech reminded me of a letter sent by the great Sidney Hook - pragmatist philosopher, socialist, scholar of Marxism and foe of totalitarianism - to Corliss Lamont. Lamont was nominally also a professor of philosophy (at Columbia), whose contributions to that discipline were nugatory, while his apologetics for Stalin outdid in mendacity almost anyone else on the American Left. Hook wrote to him ten years after the Secret Speech, with Lamont clearly still unable to accept its implications (the letter is reproduced in Letters of Sidney Hook: Democracy, Communism and the Cold War , 1995, pp.289-90):
Dear Corliss,
Voltaire once remarked that everyone has a natural right to be stupid, but that beyond a certain point it was a privilege that should not be abused. Your letter of 30 June replying to my attempt to reason with you has gone far beyond that point. I did not suggest that you hang yourself. Nor did Max Eastman. He merely expressed the fear that you would do so after Khrushchev's revelations of the crimes of Stalin, whom you had so zealously supported against the criticisms of [the philosopher] John Dewey, [the Socialist Party leader] Norman Thomas, and other democratic and socialist thinkers. Your thunderous silence as our charges against Stalin were being confirmed seemed to indicate a state of despair. That you should read this fear as a suggestion on our part is such an obvious projection of your own state of mind that it is tantamount to an acknowledgment. I predict that more revelations about Stalin's barbarities will come to light. The longer you live - and I hope you live a long time because personally I bear you no ill, objecting only to your defense of terror - the greater will be your punishment....
Unfortunately Lamont escaped punishment owing to his having, on the evidence of his long life and voluminous polemical writings, no sense of shame. It is an obstinate problem on some parts of the Western Left.
The classified section of the Communist Party USA's paper would still carry little tributes to Uncle Joe from readers on his birthday well into the 70s. I remember reading them.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Corliss Lamont

A quote from THE SOVIET WORLD OF AMERICAN COMMUNISM by Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Kyrill M. Anderson on Corliss Lamont,

In 1984 Orwell describes a reversal of alliances that occured in the middle of a speech, and how the speaker urged his audience to tear down the posters which had been put up by agents of Goldstein, denouncing Oceania's perpetual ally. In real life the closest approach to this seems to have been the Palestinian Communist Party paper which on that epochal day in August 1939 denounced Nazism in the morning edition and praised Hitler's dictatorship of the proletariat in the afternoon edition.

The Nazi-Soviet alliance of 1939 actually caused a few members and supporters (e.g. Frederik Pohl) to reconsider. It will be no surprise that the CPUSA unconditionally supported it nevertheless. Document 15 [pp. 81-3] contains the Comintern orders to Earl Browder on the proper line to take in the struggle, and Document 16 [pp. 83-4] discusses the selection of fellow-travelers who would be suitable for disseminating the new Soviet line. One is Isaac Asimov's "grand old man of humanism", Corliss Lamont. Eugene Lyons had a less complimentary view of him, and this document would support Lyons over Asimov.

It's funny digging around for Lamont cites... I stumbled onto a friend I lost touch with long ago. Someone who shapped my thinking on many things and who seems to have followed a path similar to mine (although I never as active).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dave's Part: Update from Havana

Our man in Havana reports ,
Dave's Part: Update from Havana: "Things are definitely getting heavier here. Last night I saw troops on the streets of Habana Vieja. Granted, they were unarmed. But they were in uniform, and conspicuous by their numbers. I think most of the population got the message.

Despite the media black-out, increasing numbers of Cubans have heard the rumour that FC has kicked the bucket. But most seem to write it off as propaganda."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ayatollah Jannati's Friday Sermon

From his Friday sermon as translated by MEMRI,
"God is using one of Ali's descendents [Nasrallah] to confront the spiritual and physical descendents of Marhab of Khaybar [the Jews]. God is reviving the memories of early Islam - the memories of the conflict between Ali and the Jews of [the battles] of Khaybar and Khandaq. On one side stood Ali with a small number of Muslims, and on the other side stood the strong, rich, vain, and arrogant Jews. Ultimately, the sword of Ali did what had to be done, and he humiliated the people of Khaybar and the vain and arrogant Jews. Today, this descendent of Ali stands in the same position, and so do the descendents of Marhab of Khaybar, the Jews of Khaybar and Khandaq."
Worrisome stuff to hear when Bernard Lewis is warning us of this as is the Arab press.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Syrian Army

Fred Kaplan in Slate back in 2003.
After the Israelis stripped bare the myth of Syrian defenses in 1982, Hafez Assad abandoned his goal of achieving "strategic parity" with Israel and instead aimed for "strategic deterrence." To that end, he built up huge stockpiles of biological and especially chemical weapons—including an arsenal of missiles with sufficient range to reach Israeli cities, as well as bombs and artillery shells to kill enemy troops on the battlefield. (This shift of doctrine and the resulting chemical buildup might be a source of solace for Bashar right now, but they also provide evidence that he knows how weak his conventional forces are; he knows that Dad pretty much stopped competing in that arena.)

Hafez Assad received his first batch of chemical artillery shells as a gift from Egypt just before the Yom Kippur War in 1973. After that, he started buying them in quantity from the USSR and Czechoslovakia, though it's generally believed that the Soviets refused to help him set up his own production facilities. For that, he went shopping in China and North Korea. Until the early '90s, before export controls started tightening, he also bought chemical precursors from companies in France, Germany, Austria, Holland, and Switzerland (from the same firms that supplied Iraq). He started producing nerve gas in 1984 and was able to pack chemical weapons into missile warheads by the following year. The CIA estimates that Assad started deploying missiles with VX nerve gas in 1997. He is thought to possess 500 to 1,000 tons of chemical agents, including VX and sarin.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Shadi Mzawin: 'Hope Nasrallah gets a rocket between legs'

Every Katyusha launched is against civilians. All loaded with ball bearings and scrap. Hezballah simply launching terror strikes indifferent to who is hit. This from Ynet on the latest strike on Hiafa.
Dozens of residents, mainly Israeli Arabs, congregated at the entrances to the Rambam Medical Center seeking to check on their loved ones injured in the attack.

Some of those present condemned Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Shadi Mzawin and his sister, who arrived at the hospital to visit their sister, said: "How can it be that with all its might Israel is incapable of eliminating Hizbullah and finish it once and for all? How can it be that with al this force he succeeds to do this for us?"

Yahya Rabbah in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: Arab sovereignty expropriated

The PLO's Yahya Rabbah writing in the PA's paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida as translated by MEMRI. It's about more then restoring Arab dignity. It's about power.
"The Palestinian resistance forces [i.e. Hamas] took political decision[-making] hostage from the Palestinian political framework [i.e. the PLO]; the Lebanese resistance forces – Hizbullah – took political decision[-making] hostage from the Lebanese [government]. The resistance forces here [in the PA] and there [in Lebanon] led to both of the political regimes, the Palestinian and Lebanese, having to pay a high price, even though they did not know what was going on, and even though they were not given even the smallest chance to manage the crisis that was caused by the two actions.

"In other words, the roles of the two regimes were expropriated, their legitimacy was sidestepped, and they were left irrelevant to what was going on. The resistance forces here and there took hostage the role of the regimes in the Arab states, and left them [i.e. the regimes] standing confused and impotent, almost completely paralyzed... All of this [was carried out] via a regional coalition axis, stretching from Gaza to southern Lebanon, to Damascus, to Tehran."

Bernard Heykal: How Hezballah defines victory

The Arabist links a column by Bernard Heykal on How Hezballah defines victory.

It's interesting to contrast Nasrallah's frames from Nassar's but the bottom line for me is Nasrallah and Assad are calculating leaders. They don't wage war so the Arab street can feel good about itself.

Now Ahmadinejad who I fear is the face of the real drivers here, is a different sort all together.

Fellow Worker Eric Lee and the IWW: "You sound like every right wing bastard on the planet ...f # % k Israel!"

What would Fellow Worker Fred Thompson have said.

I think he would have been a bit more charitable on a disagreement in the One Big Union.

That's the way I remember him. Long ago, when my Dad first took me to the IWW hall on N. Lincoln across from the Biograph theatre in Chicago.

Eric Lee is a member of the IWW and writes about the response to the RSS reader picking up his thoughts on Hezballah's War on Israel, and then linking them to the IWW's site. Thoughts many FWs didn't want to read.

Read Eric Lee War, Wobs and the Web
A controversy erupted a few days ago involving myself and some fellow members of the IWW and as I think back on it, I think that there are some issues here which relate to the new communications technologies -- and to what it means to be a Wobbly. We are living in a new era, one in which cutting-edge technologies are quickly adopted (often a good thing) but we are sometimes slow to understand their ramifications.

Here's what happened: Somewhere buried deep in the massive IWW website was a page which included RSS feeds, among them a feed of links to entries on my personal website. For those who aren't up to speed with terms like "RSS feeds", this simply means that my personal website has a file listing the recent material I posted, and the IWW webmaster had cleverly found a way to read that list and publish it to the Wobbly site.

The rest here.
So much for the Fellow in Fellow Worker.

PJ Media on Reutersgate or Methinks some Zionists are up to mischief

PJ Media covering Reuter's admission it's been altering war photograpy.

What's really interesting though is one response from Reuters to the guy who alerted people to the doctored photos,
A Reuters employee has been suspended after sending a death threat to an American blogger.

The message, sent from a Reuters internet account, read: "I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut."

It was sent to Charles Johnson, owner of the Little Green Footballs (LGF) weblog, a popular site which often backs Israel and highlights jihadist terrorist activities.

In the threat, the Reuters staff member, who has not been named, left his email address as "zionistpig" at

Reporting the message to his readers, Johnson wrote on his website: "This particular death threat is a bit different from the run of the mill hate mail we get around here, because an IP lookup on the sender reveals that he/she/it was using an account at none other than Reuters News."
and more from Ynet,
In an additional twist, Johnson traced the movements of the sender of the threat, and found direct parallels between the internet locations of the sender and Inayat Bunglawala, Media Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Bunglawala, who contirbuted an editorial to the Guardian website, has attracted negative attention in the past after making anti-Semitic outbursts, and has declared that the British media was "Zionist-controlled."

In the comment section of the Guardian, underneath his own editorial, Bunglawala denied sending the threat, blaming "Zionists" instead.

"That was not me! Methinks some Zionists are up to mischief," he wrote.

Safar al-Hawali: Don't pray for Hizbullah

JP reports he' issued a Fatwa
A top Saudi Sunni cleric, whose ideas inspired Osama bin Laden, issued a religious edict Saturday disavowing the Shi'ite guerrilla group Hizbullah, evidence that a rift remained among Muslims over the fighting in Lebanon.

Hizbullah, which translates as "the party of God," is actually "the party of the devil," said Sheik Safar al-Hawali, whose radical views made the al-Qaida leader one of his followers in the past.

"Don't pray for Hizbullah," he said in the fatwa posted on his Web site.
I don't see it there yet on the English version. Here's the Arabic one.

According to Wikipedia he has a soft spot for American Unitarians,
Al-Hawali wrote an article in Al-Bayan magazine on unitarianism among Christians. He traced the history of those who reject the doctrine of the Trinity, and believe in One supreme God. He claimed that monotheists had been subject to great persecution, by both Catholics and Protestants; and that five among the US presidents had been Unitarians.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Eric Hoffer rediscovered

A Eric Hoffer column from 1968 on Israel’s Peculiar Position by Eric Hoffer has been circulating around the net.

My Dad gave me Hoffer's Working and Thinking on the Waterfront long ago. Edinburgh film festival warns Israeli director not to attend film's screening

So much for dialogue and engagement,
Israeli director Yoav Shamir said Thursday he has been advised by organizers of the Edinburgh film festival in Scotland not to attend the screening of his new work due to Israel's offensive in Lebanon.
In an email seen by Reuters, Shamir was informed by the organizers that due to expected protests over Israel's attacks on Lebanon, "it might be in your best interest not to attend the festival this year for your own sake, rather than for ours."
The organizers said they would continue with the screening of Shamir's new documentary, "Five Days." It chronicles Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip last year from the viewpoints of settlers, the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians.

The nearly two week-long festival, which begins on August 14, is one of the key events on the world movie calendar.

Dave's Part: Havana: all quiet on the streets

David Osler is in Cuba for four weeks studying Spanish. He may turn out to be an important source for coming events.
Dave's Part: Havana: all quiet on the streets: "For the last three weeks, I have been relying on the Cuban media for information. No foreign newspapers are available anywhere at any price, and my internet access has been sporadic. For all I know, there could have been a small nuclear war somewhere, without me hearing a thing about it.

So thanks to the commenters on the last post, who have alerted me to the rumours that FC has kicked the bucket. Some sources online even suggest that a military coup may be in the offing."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Inside Surgery on Castro

From a Surgical Blog of all things,
My guess - Castro has widely metastatic colon cancer and will be dead in the next several weeks without ever regaining control of the country.
Strange story for Cuban Healthcare if true for a disease that should be easily and cheaply preventable in such a controled society.

al Bawaba: Apocalypse now ushered by Ahmadinejad

It's set for August 22nd,
Apparently, Ahmadinejad sees himself as an instrument to pave the way for the arrival of Imam Mahdi as well as an important successor to Saladin in terms of the liberation of Jerusalem. He has reportedly used public appearances on a number of occasions to make clear his confidence that he and other true believers can affect the apocalyptic timetable, urging Iranians to prepare to back him in the momentous endeavor at hand.

If only Mel Gibson had joined the Muslim Brotherhood or Hezbollah; then his critics would be Islamophobes

Nick Cohen in yesterday's London Evening Standard via Norman Geras,
I can't help but feel sorry for Mel Gibson. If only he had joined the Muslim Brotherhood or Hezbollah rather than an ultra-reactionary Catholic sect, his views on a world Jewish conspiracy would have done him no harm. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah declared that it if Jews 'all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,' yet Channel 4 News bends over backwards to make excuses for him. Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has a constitution which might have been written by Adolph Hitler, yet the Foreign Office gives the Brotherhood public money and the allegedly "left-wing" Ken Livingstone hugs its spiritual leader.

You picked the wrong type of fascism, Mel. If only you'd been cannier, there would be pieces in the Independent denouncing your critics as Islamophobes.

In God We Trust

Bush declares the 50th anniversary of In God We Trust as our National Motto although we've imprinted it on our coins since the Civil War.

Note we say we trust in God; we don't say God's with us.

A good read as to why we made that distinction (and Unitarians and Universalists were part of it) is Harry Stout's Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War
In this bayonet charge on romantic notions of the Civil War, Yale religious history professor Stout addresses a difficult historical question--What is the source of the unique "civil religion" of American patriotism?--by attempting to answer an equally difficult and potentially painful moral question: Was the American Civil War a "just war?" --from Brendan Driscoll's review on Amazon
I think Kennedy got God's place in politics just right in his second inaugural when he ended with,
With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
I don't think Bush out-of-step with Lincoln or JFK's thinking on this one. Not at all. It's our Civil Religion forged back in the Civil War.

cross posted at Pfarrer Streccius

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Welcome to FCI Terre Haute

Noticed a familiar name entering the Federal Correctional Institution at Terre Haute.

cross posted at Illinoiz

Stop listening to patriotic hymns for a moment, reflect and bring your feet back to the ground

Good advice via The Herald Sun via PJ Media,
Israel also hacked into FM radio stations and instead of normal programs a two-minute recording was repeatedly broadcast.

"Hassan sent men to fight the Israeli army, an army of steel, without preparing them. Stop listening to patriotic hymns for a moment, reflect and bring your feet back to the ground," said the Arabic message.

Israel has used a variety of technological weapons to wage a psychological war in Lebanon, also sending text messages to mobile phones and voice messages saying their war was against Hezbollah and not the Lebanese people.

Der Tagesspiegel on Mounir Herzallah

Der Tagesspiegel writes back in follow up to a comment posted here,
Dear Bill,

we are at the moment trying to get further clarifications about Mounir Herzallah's identity. We are in contact via e-mail with him from which we can possibly deduce that he is not a native speaker in German. We still believe in the authenticity of his letter but will have to keep on investigating about the matter.
All the best, Yours Clemens

Clemens Wergin
Redakteur Meinung/Politische Literatur
Editorial Writer/Political Book Editor

Verlag Der Tagesspiegel GmbH
Potsdamer Stra├če 77-87
10785 Berlin
PS A link to Clemens Wergin's blog.

The Spirit of Man: Photos of Iranian terrorists on their way to Lebanon

Winston posts links plenty of pictures here: Photos of Iranian terrorists on their way to Lebanon

David Warren: Journalists Fail to Explain Qana

The more you read, the more Qana looks staged. David Warren writes a good column about it and journalism's failure to ask questions.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Welfare Reform: no one who believed in the Judeo-Christian tradition could support the bill

Ron Haskin's below from WSJ writing on the success of 1996 welfare reform bill, and Samuelson writing today here on the same topic.
Ten years ago next month, a bipartisan majority in Congress and a Democratic president launched America's welfare policy in a new and largely uncharted direction.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the predictions of doom hurled against the Republican welfare reform bill signed by President Clinton on Aug. 22, 1996. Mr. Clinton had previously vetoed two versions of welfare reform when, with skill, daring and persistence, Republicans in the House and Senate pushed it through Congress a third time and put it again on the president's desk. In an act of remarkable political courage, Mr. Clinton defied senior members of his own party and most of the American left and signed the radical bill into law.

The left, led by senior Democrats in Congress, the editorial pages of many of the nation's leading newspapers, the Catholic bishops, child advocates in Washington and the professoriate, had assaulted the bill in terms that are rare, even by today's coarse standards. Democrats speaking on the floor of the House labeled the bill "harsh," "cruel" and "mean-spirited." They claimed that it "attacked," "punished" and "lashed out at" children. Columnist Bob Herbert said the bill conducted a "jihad" against the poor, made "war on kids" and "deliberately inflict[ed] harm" on children and the poor. Sen. Frank Lautenberg said poor children would be reduced to "begging for money, begging for food, and . . . engaging in prostitution."

Many Democrats and pundits shouted that the bill would throw a million children into poverty. Marion Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund said that no one who believed in the Judeo-Christian tradition could support the bill. Even God, it seemed, opposed the evil Republican bill.
Haskin's column interesting because the challange for the future is clearly with the right suggesting to me maybe the left is stuck rambling about the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Blair's Speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council

A quote from yesterday's great speech.
As to the first, it is almost incredible to me that so much of Western opinion appears to buy the idea that the emergence of this global terrorism is somehow our fault. For a start, it is indeed global. No-one who ever half bothers to look at the spread and range of activity related to this terrorism can fail to see its presence in virtually every major nation in the world. It is directed at the United States and its allies, of course. But it is also directed at nations who could not conceivably be said to be allies of the West. It is also rubbish to suggest that it is the product of poverty. It is true it will use the cause of poverty. But its fanatics are hardly the champions of economic development. It is based on religious extremism. That is the fact. And not any religious extremism; but a specifically Muslim version.

What it is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is not about those countries' liberation from US occupation. It is actually the only reason for the continuing presence of our troops. And it is they not us who are doing the slaughter of the innocent and doing it deliberately.

Its purpose is explicitly to prevent those countries becoming democracies and not "Western style" democracies, any sort of democracy. It is to prevent Palestine living side by side with Israel; not to fight for the coming into being of a Palestinian State, but for the going out of being, of an Israeli State. It is not wanting Muslim countries to modernise but to retreat into governance by a semi-feudal religious oligarchy.

Yet despite all of this, which I consider virtually obvious, we look at the bloodshed in Iraq and say that's a reason for leaving; we listen to the propaganda that tells us its all because of our suppression of Muslims and have parts of our opinion seriously believing that if we only got out of Iraq and Afghanistan, it would all stop.

And most contemporaneously, and in some ways most perniciously, a very large and, I fear, growing part of our opinion looks at Israel, and thinks we pay too great a price for supporting it and sympathises with Muslim opinion that condemns it. Absent from so much of the coverage, is any understanding of the Israeli predicament.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Michael S. Hogue: Liberal Religion dysfunctional and unfaithful to its purpose

Hogue nailed this PDF on the home page at Meadville Lombard.

Here are the first four paragraphs. Strong stuff but in a nice Dutch tradition appropriate to a school founded in part by a Dutchman.

Now where Hogue is taking this reformation will be interesting to see,
Liberal religion is in crisis! It always has been and always will be, for crisis is part of the essence of liberalism as a place between extremism and complacency. But our current crisis-nature is nonetheless distinct.

Rather than standing against the hypermodern hubris of our North American individualism, liberal religion is entrenched within this same ethos. Rather than mediating the religious and political extremes in our world, we are paralyzed by our own internal divisions and do not have a theologically purposive vision with which to move beyond them. Instead of witnessing to the constructive increase of justice, love, and wisdom through interfaith community, our public footprint is much too small and we seem to be a register of the world’s religious and moral conflicts rather than a constructive example.

Our crisis is a tragic one, for it turns on an ironic reversal through which our strength, genius, and virtue has become our weakness, our arrogance, and our tragic flaw. As a result, we are failing our historic and contemporary prophetic tasks.

To move beyond our tragic condition, liberal religion needs to re imagine a public theology that is historically faithful and culturally relevant. And doing this depends upon heeding the summons to a New Reformation. For as the powerful hierarchy of the medieval Roman Catholic Church had become dysfunctional, unfaithful to its purpose, so also have we.

cross posted at Pfarrer Streccius

Mel Gibson and, in America, everybody is a Calvinist

A quote from Catholic and enjoying it on Mel Gibson; HT to The Buck Stops here.
As a good child of a post-Freudian culture, I was raised to believe that what people say when they are plastered, or insanely angry, or deeply afraid, or otherwise stripped of their normal rational faculties is Who They Really Are. We talk that way all the time. "I thought he was a good man until the mask came off and I saw the ugly Truth". That sort of talk is natural as breathing for us.

That's because, in America, everybody is a Calvinist, including the Catholics. We believe that the fall is identical with nature, and therefore believe that when you see a man in sin, you see him as he "really" is. Goodness is the mask, corruption is his nature.

I was corrected in this false and heretical belief years ago by my favorite priest in the world, Fr. Michael Sweeney, now president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. The reality is quite contrary. Sin is the mask. It is not what names us but what makes us anonymous. Sin, because of the fall, is normal. But sin is never "natural". It does not constitute who we are, it *destroys* who we are. It is when the human person takes his place as the redeemed creature God made him that we begin to truly see his face and know his name.

And so, to Mel Gibson. Gibson tells us, "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable." It seems to me that we have a basic choice: to believe revelation or to believe Freud.

If you believe Freud, then Gibson is a liar when he says he does not believe what he said, because only the subrational outbursts of the drunk, the panicked, and enraged can be regarded as Truly Revelatory. We must see through the Mask of the "person" supposedly "made in the image of God" to the subrational beast composed of tangled desires, fears, hatreds, and appetites beneath. This is, of course, a measure we would not want anybody to apply to us, considering the horrible things we've caught ourselves thinking in unguarded moments (you know what I mean, don't try to kid me). In our own lives, we are deeply grateful for the fact that nobody, including God, measures us by the chaotic and selfish impulses scrambling around down there in the id, but instead respects us enough to know that it is what we choose that matters. We're even more grateful that they judge us by what we choose when we are at the top of our game.
Stepping up our game, as my daughter told me she did at YMCA camp this summer, is the answer.