Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hamas and Bin Laden

I wasn't surprized by Hamas's electoral victory in the Palestinian Authority. I have a hard time believing Bush and Rice were surprized.

The fellow with the toughest position after a victory like this is Bin Laden. How does one advocate sucidal struggles when Hamas can win an election like this? It's Bin Laden who really has a tough time explaining his positions now to the Arab street.

Legislation to ban protests at the funerals of Iraq war casualties organised by a far-right religious group

Our Lt Gov Pat Quinn's work is getting noticed in the UK! From Harry's Place.
The doings of fundamentalist zealots, attitudes to homosexuality and the war in Iraq: These topics appear regularly on Harry's Place but not always in the same story:

US STATES are planning legislation to ban protests at the funerals of Iraq war casualties organised by a far-right religious group which believes that the deaths are divine retribution for American tolerance of homosexuality. Pastor Fred Phelps and his congregation have staged demonstrations at around 80 funerals. The website of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas contains the following message: “They turned America over to fags, they’re coming home in body bags.”

Legislators in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma are now considering bills to keep such protests at least 300ft away from funeral services.

Any attempt to stop the protests is likely to trigger a debate about whether it restricts Americans’ constitutional right to free speech.

NormBlog: The rise of anti-Semitism in the UK

Norman Geras links a long article by Shalom Lappin on the raising anti-semitism in the UK. The siege can happen here. And the left will be the impresario too. Here's Lappin's closing paragraph.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty that the Jewish Community encounters in the current situation is its comparative isolation. It has no obvious allies in the political domain. Much of the left now serves as an impresario for the hostility that it faces. The centre and the moderate conservatives are largely indifferent, and the far right is a deadly threat. Islamist groups are shaping opinion within Muslim communities, while non-Muslim immigrants that share common concerns with Jews, like Indian Hindus and Sikhs are not in a position to offer substantive assistance, given their own vulnerable position in the cross fire between Islamism and anti-immigrant racism. Jews continue to be seen as privileged, excessively influential, and so in no need of assistance on one side, but irreparably foreign on the other. The unwillingness of major public figures to take up the issue of rising hostility to collective Jewish concerns leaves the Community quietly under siege.

Jesse Jackson piñata at GOP party

But it was fake story. I love the way blogs surface this stuff. Hat Tip to Rich Miller.
I’m a big fan of citizen reporting, and everyone makes mistakes, but a serious problem occasionally arises when partisan bloggers are blinded to an obviously fake story - just the sort of thing they love to trash the “mainstream media” for doing.

Yesterday, a Daily Kos member reported on a Republican-sponsored State of the Union Address watching party in Bloomington. The party supposedly featured a Jesse Jackson piñata and was to be held at a gay themed bar. The party was advertised on a Republican site.

The writer eventually admitted that he had been duped, but not before 200 angry Kossacks weighed in on the latest outrage.

To his credit, the Archpundit (a partisan blogger himself) figured out the hoax right away.

The Officers' Club: Could Democrats Win With a Policy of “Muscular Isolationism?”

Good discussion on isolationism in American including some polling results on distribution of isolationist thought: it's even between the parties.
The Officers' Club: Could Democrats Win With a Policy of “Muscular Isolationism?”: Here is the main paradox the Democrats currently face: They have a vocal, motivated, well-funded base that doesn’t like the projection of American policy abroad. This small sector of the populace is very anti-military, but responsible leaders, left and right, have deployed American troops to support American interests since the country was founded. The paradox that the Democrats face is that in order to be seen as credible on national security issues, one must be ostensibly pro-military. In order to appeal to “moderate” main stream voters, necessary to win elections, one must support the troops.
Kerry's war-of-last-resort doctrine seemed to call for the most brutal of wars. Wait until war is your only option and the American people will demand wars of anniliation just we waged against Germany and Japan. Let things get to that point, against formidable foes, and we really have no choice. The muscular in our isolationism is no joke and the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki found out.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Jewish Organizations Plan a Big Push Against Genocide in Darfur

Wonder if the Unitarian Universalists would join a march against genocide?

From The Forward with a thanks to Jacob Weintraub.

By MARC PERELMANJanuary 27, 2006

Jolted by the tepid response to the genocide in Darfur, Jewish communal organizations are mobilizing at an unprecedented level for an issue that might appear tangential to Jewish concerns.

National and local Jewish organizations are gearing up for a rally to be held April 30 in Washington under the aegis of the Save Darfur Coalition, which brings together more than 150 faith-based and human rights groups and in which Jewish organizations figure prominently. Organizers also intend to deliver a million handwritten and electronic postcards to the White House at the time of the rally, demanding a more effective American response and American support for a stronger multinational force to protect civilians in the war-stricken region.

"Darfur hit a heartstring in the Jewish community," said Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The council is a body that coordinates 13 national and 122 local Jewish agencies on issues of social justice, among other concerns. "It shows that when we say 'never again,' we mean it.... It is one of those moments when everybody seems to be saying the same thing and we see an extraordinary force coming about."

The Bush administration in 2004 applied the term "genocide" to the repressive actions conducted by the Sudanese government and its henchmen against the population of Darfur. The United Nations passed a series of resolutions, and the African Union introduced troops into the area. Even so, according to diplomats and relief groups, the situation on the ground has worsened.

"This is the first time the United States has determined that a genocide was taking place while it is still happening, but at the same time, the administration has failed to act on it," said Ruth Messinger, president and executive director of the American Jewish World Service. The AJWS, a Peace Corps-like charity, has spearheaded advocacy efforts on Darfur for the past two years. "This is what gets the Jewish community moving. They know the price of silence during the Holocaust and Rwanda," Messinger said.

While the 1994 genocide in Rwanda took place over several months and garnered little attention, the crisis in Darfur is now entering its third year and has grabbed the attention of politicians and pundits such as Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times.

The organized Jewish community lobbied for Western intervention in Bosnia in the early 1990s, but most activity occurred at the leadership level, and grass-roots involvement was minor, according to Jewish officials involved at the time.

Ronny Strongin, a spokeswoman for the AJWS, said that this time around, the call for more public action actually came from the grass roots.

"We were reluctant because it means a lot of resources and energy, but this is what people want; there's an itching to march and demonstrate," she said, adding that the AJWS had secured financing from a donor and hired a professional staff to prepare for the event.Gutow of the JCPA said that the strong grass-roots involvement is impelling major Jewish groups to be even more vocal in lobbying the administration and Congress.

"What you see here is an attempt to bring more single voices from the community together with the big voices," said Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee's Jacob Blaustein Institute for Human Rights, which has been pushing for stronger engagement on Darfur. The AJCommittee has asked its local chapters to bring leaders of other faiths to Washington on February 15 to lobby Congress and the administration.

Some Jewish officials acknowledged privately that the idea of pressuring Sudan's radical Islamic regime motivated some Jewish groups to join the action. They said, however, that the fact that Jews are mobilizing to end Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Darfur sends a positive message to the Muslim world.

Open warfare erupted in Darfur in early 2003 when two rebel groups attacked military installations in an effort to redress the region's chronic economic and political marginalization. The international community has accused the government of responding to the rebels by dispatching militias known as janjaweed, composed of fighters of Arab descent, which attacked the civilian population. The militias embarked on a wave of indiscriminate killing, looting and mass rape, as well as massive displacement.

Since February 2003, according to international estimates, more than 400,000 men, women and children have died while another 2.5 million civilians have been forced into refugee camps in Sudan and in neighboring Chad.

Congress recently cut $50 million it had earmarked to support the military mission of the African Union in Darfur. Darfur advocates want lawmakers to reinstate the funding, and they are calling for dispatching U.N. peacekeepers to assist the A.U., which has been struggling to implement its monitoring role.

"It is absolutely essential that President Bush directs the State Department to introduce a Security Council resolution calling for the United Nations to assume control of the African Union mission in Sudan when the U.S. takes its turn as president of the Security Council for the month of February," said David Rubenstein, coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition. "While the African Union has been doing the best that it can with its limited funding and equipment, the U.N. would bring considerably greater resources to the task of protecting the civilians of Darfur."

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al on the period of calm

Deconstruct this one,

There is a difference between regarding the period of calm as divergence from the resistance - which will never happen - and regarding the period of calm as one of the tactics of the resistance.

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al Presents Hamas Plan on Al-Jazeera TV

What happened to the Kids for All-Kids?

Hat-Tip to Rich Miller for this from the Bellville News Democrat. I'm betting the number covered and with claims paid gets beyond 10,000.
A taxpayer-financed study conducted when Gov. Rod Blagojevich was announcing his plan to guarantee health insurance for every child in Illinois shows the number of uninsured children could be far fewer than he estimated.

Blagojevich said there were 253,000 Illinois children without insurance. But the study by a New York polling firm, released to The Associated Press this week, put the figure as low as 124,321 and as high as 246,954.

Obama on Alito Filibuster

Cross Posted at Illinoize

Ok, I've exceeded my post quota for the week and you wouldn't see much of me fora few a days, but I couldn't let this pass.

Obama is sounding like Kerry's I voted for the funds for war and then I voted against them comment now. The problem for Democrats is they can't figure out what they're about and say so!

Please Senator Obama, start making the better case and consider Rove may very will be right when he said Democrats are fine patriots, but just have got it deeply, profoundly and consistently wrong.
Sen. Barack Obama said he would vote Monday to filibuster Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but he conceded the effort would be futile and criticized Democrats for failing to persuade Americans to take notice of the court's changing ideological face."

The Democrats have to do a much better job in making their case on these issues," Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week." "These last-minute efforts--using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway--I think has been the wrong way of going about it."

Despite his criticism, Obama announced his intention to support the maneuver designed to block--or delay--Alito's confirmation this week. The movement, which was launched by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), appeared to lack the 41 senators needed to be successful.

Terry Savage in Today's Sun Times on Health Savings Accounts

Terry Savage writes on the new HSA plans. They will grow and the impact on us huge. Medicaid, Medicare, and any Health Insurance initiative will need to be redesigned around them.
HSAs combine a high deductible health insurance policy and a tax-favored savings account. Instead of buying a health insurance policy with a $250 deductible, you'd buy a policy with a $5,000 deductible. It sounds scary, but that policy costs much less. The money you or the company saves on insurance premiums -- as much as 40 percent of traditional costs -- can go into a special, tax-deductible savings account and be used to pay for medical expenses tax-free. Unspent money grows for future years' expenses.

Many employers contribute some or all of their insurance premium savings into accounts for their employees. In 2006, an individual can put as much as $2,700 a year into an HSA, or $5,450 for families. But you can start an HSA account with a much lower amount. For those who can't afford a contribution, the high-deductible, low-cost medical insurance plan will at least protect them against bankruptcy caused by medical expenses.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Article 22 of Hamas’s covenant on Jews, Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, and the Lions

Nick Cohen writes Fascists are on the march again,
It is impossible to write anything about Jews these days without being accused of being an anti-semite or a Zionist imperialist. I think I’ll take the coward’s course and look at what the victorious Islamists of Hamas think of Freemasons instead.

It was Masons, not Jews, who were the target of the original conspiracy theory of the far right. What would end up as fascism began as a reaction against the American and French revolutions. The counter-revolutionaries had to explain why people were proclaiming heretical ideas about the rights of man. They couldn’t admit that the French and Americans were embracing Enlightenment values of their own free will. There had to be a conspiracy. Europe’s Jews were in the ghetto in the 1790s, and it was preposterous to pretend that they were secret rulers of the world. So the far right decided that the conspirators were the Freemasons.

Hitler banned Freemasonry and General Franco executed thousands of Spanish Masons. You get an idea of how thoroughly the ideas of the European reaction have penetrated the Middle East when you look at the loathing of Masons on the Arab far Right.

Article 22 of Hamas’s covenant says of the Jews: ‘They were behind the French Revolution, the communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money, they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies.’

I know Iraqis who had to run for their lives when Saddam Hussein accused them of being part of a Masonic plot. Last year, the Telegraph reported that Ahmad Thomson, a Muslim lawyer who advises the Prime Minister on community relations, had declared that a ’sinister’ group of Jews and Freemasons was behind the invasion of Iraq.

Everything from the ravings of the Iranian leadership to the genocide in Darfur makes a little more sense if you grasp that parts of the poor world have taken up the insane theories of European fascism. And as Europeans ought to know by now, you need to be very worried when the men who spout them get into power.

Christian Peace Makers: Iraq's no Vietnam

I've blogged it before.

The Peoples Republic of Vietnam celebrated the likes of the Christian Peace Makers team. The Vietnames Communists knew how to turn Pacifists into allies for their cause of ruling Vietnam with an Iron Fist.

Now were fighting a foe who hates the West and seeks to destroy us. There's a big difference and these sad folks with CPT may pay with their lives to show it.

A gotta love politics rumor on Cheney's resignation

A rumor found on yahoo's Rumsfeld group.
This is the rumor in Tennessee: There is a rumor being circulated in Tennessee that, when the President comes to Nashville to speak the day after the State of the Union Address, he will announce that Vice-President Cheney will step down for health reasons and he will appoint Sen. Frist. I do not know if there is any truth to this. It may have more to do with the fact that this is "empty" Sunday (no football on TV) and people have nothing better to do than sit around and make stuff up. Whether it is true or not, at tonight's Tennessee Tech University basketball game, we decided a Frist/Rice ticket would be formidable ticket.

You gotta love politics.

Normblog on the lack of response to Chirac's nuclear warning to Iran

The lack of notice and response to Chirac is strange. Norman Geras has blogged on it and a reader responded this way,
Suppose he is doing just that, raising the stakes, but on behalf of all of Europe, the US, Australia and anybody else who might be the target of a terrorist dirty bomb.

Suppose western intelligence agencies have come to a joint conclusion that there is now a dirty bomb (orsomething equally scary) out there in the wrong hands, even if they don't know whose hands it is in.

Who would be the best person to get a message across from the west to the terrorists? Chirac is the most anti-US of them all. As Nixon went to China,
Chirac can beat his shoe on the table in a unique way.

That no other western leader has batted an eye makes me think he could be talking for all of them. If they continue to let it pass, they are effectively allowing him to speak for them as well, whether by design, or prior unspoken understanding, or not.

Iraqi Communist Party call for Solidarity from the West

We have to note, with regret, that the Iraqi democratic forces have not received, in their difficult struggle, effective solidarity and support from international forces of the left. As a result, most of the latter have unfortunately been rendered observers of events, rather than exerting positive influence on the ongoing struggle over the future course of developments in Iraq, especially in supporting the struggle for a democratic prospect, at a time when the Iraqi patriotic and democratic forces are in urgent need for such concrete and multifarious support and solidarity.
--International Relations Committee, Central Committee - Iraqi Communist Party
Baghdad, 15 January 2006
Interesting time when George Bush and the Republican Pary are the Communist's best support. Read their whole analysis here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Daily Briefing on Iran: Hundreds of "Tehran Collective Bus" employees arrested

A Daily Briefing on Iran: Hundreds of "Tehran Collective Bus" employees arrested: "Hundreds of Tehran's Collective Bus drivers, technicians and workers have been arrested, since yesterday, following the issuance of a notice of strike. The protest action is to start from Saturday early morning and should affect most of the ten transit areas of the Greater Tehran."
Also note the support expressed by the Teamsters and Senator Santorum (where are Durbin and Obama?)
In a letter dated, January 6, 2006, Santorum requested from the U.S. Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of the arrested Tehran's Bus drivers and the repressed Iranian People.

Slamming the Islamic regime for the persistent human rights abuses and the brutal attack of the strikers, the Pennsylvanian Senator stated in part of his letter: "I ask that you and other senior leaders of the US Government make a concerted effort to reach out to groups of individuals, such as unions and students, to let them know the People of America stand with them in their fight for greater freedoms and liberties".

Durbin's Police State

I've never been held at gun point by a geek from the National Security Agency.

I have been held at gun point by police from Chicago, Berwyn, and Oak Park.

That was back before I looked like a geek myself and the standard practice in the near West Burbs and Galewood was to take any male teen on the streets after midnight and stretch us over the hood for a pat-down.

So I worry more about abuse from local cops then Federal cops. I tell my kid if you get pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel... don't move fast. Cops --with good reason-- can be jumpy and if not well trained might shoot before they think.

And then stories like this in today's Chicago Sun Times just confirm you don't want to be the wrong looking guy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time in Illinois,
Rollins, a former special education student who had no criminal record, was 17 when he was convicted.

He repeatedly told police, "I'm innocent," until they "hit him around a couple times" and he agreed to confess, Fioretti said.

At the press conference, Rollins said police used "scare tactics" and "put their hands on me" and "kept hittin' me" until "finally I asked them what happened. He [a detective] told me everything" to say in a confession, and Rollins signed a document written by an assistant state's attorney, he said.

"I was scared to death," he said. "I didn't want to go through it."
In prison, other inmates identified him as someone who'd raped an elderly woman, which led him to be treated more harshly than others, he said.

He said he'd "try to hold my dignity, my pride" during that time, though he admits to times he'd ask himself, "Did I do this?"
I heard Sen Durbin talk about Gitmo. I'd really like to hear him talk about Illinois.

There's some comfort when you're middle aged geeky looking guy like Durbin and myself. But when you're a young African-American male, you've got enough threats in your life. The Chicago Police Dept shouldn't be another one.

So Sen Durbin, please speak with some passion about real threats from the government to our liberties. We have plenty of examples in Illinois with stories you can put a name too... unlike NSA surveillance where I've yet to see who's been abused.

Cross Posted at Illinoize

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kerry's call from Davos

Asked if the administration was taking Kerry's call for a filibuster seriously, White House press secretary Scott McClellan chuckled on Friday and said: "I think it was a historic day yesterday. It was the first ever call for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland."

It's sure not Paul Douglas's Democratic Party anymore.

IRAQ THE MODEL: Usama Jad'aan "...eliminate terror elements according to a quality plan"

Gitmo will look a good option to the Bin Ladenists caught up in this sweep by Sunni Arabs in Anbar,
IRAQ THE MODEL: "Iraqi tribes in Anbar arrest 270 Arab and foreign al-Qaeda members!
From Dar al-Hayat (Arabic):


The Anbar tribes’ campaign to rid the province of Zarqawi’s terror organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq is in its 2nd day and so far, 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested.
[…]
Usama Jad’aan, the leader of Karabila tribes in Qaim told al-Hayat that “the operation will continue to eliminate terror elements according to a quality plan” and added “270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested, in addition to some Iraqis who were providing them shelter”.

Sheikh Jad’aan added “the operation is conducted in coordination between the tribes and the minister of defense Sa’doun al-Dulaimi and since we arrested hundreds of terrorists, I don’t expect the operation to take a lot of time”."

rumors of your pending retirement

From Wednesday's interview with Hugh Hewitt:

HEWITT: A penultimate question, Mr. Secretary. Your friend and mine, Frank Gaffney, tells me he does not believe rumors of your pending retirement. Are you intending to stay the course in the Pentagon?

[Laughter].

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's funny. Frank's a good guy. You know him, huh?

HEWITT: Yes.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Wonderful. No, I have no plans other than to keep doing what I'm doing. The President's asked me to stay on and I'm doing that.

I would add this, however, that being able to serve with the men and women in uniform during a time of peril for our country is an honor and a privilege, and I feel grateful that I'm able to be involved and to be working with such truly wonderful people.

http://www.dod.mil/transcripts/2006/tr20060125-12372.html

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nashat Aqtash's advice to Hamas

Middle East Media Research translated some of Hamas's election statements.
In the run-up to the Palestinian elections, Hamas members in the Palestinian Authority began to make relatively pragmatic statements, while continuing to make extremist statements. According to media reports, Hamas has retained a media consultant to improve the movement's image - though Hamas claims that the consultant was hired to provide technical advice on enhancing contacts with the media(1). It should be noted that the relatively pragmatic statements were made by Hamas members involved in the elections, and not by the movement's central leaders, who live abroad. These leaders, in particular political bureau head Khaled Mash'al, emphasize continued resistance alongside "diplomatic activity," and state that there is no contradiction between the two.
Nashat Aqtash is the media consultant Hamas hired and The Guardian did a story on him including these helpful hints he imparted for the tag of $180,000,
Helpful hints

The advice Nashat Aqtash gave to Hamas:

· Say you are not against Israelis as Jews

· Don't talk about destroying Israel

· Do talk about Palestinian suffering

· Don't celebrate killing people

· Change beard colour (if red)

Byrd and Alito

Byrd's announced for Alito. If I were Alito, I'd tell Byrd to keep his vote. How Byrd could have voted against Dr. Rice and then plan to vote for Alito with the comment Alito ...struck me as a man of his word just seems like plain old racism. Byrd still thinks like a Klansman. And a scared one at that.
Byrd's announcement came just days after West Virginia businessman John Raese announced plans to challenge the veteran senator in the November election. Byrd and Nelson both face re- election. So does another Democrat from a state Bush won, North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, who has not yet announced how he will vote.

It's My Mind: Chicagoans flock to Wal-Mart jobs

Levois has a great post on the new Wal-Mart store over in Evergreen Park,
It's My Mind: Chicagoans flock to Wal-Mart jobs: "You know back in 2004 there was a debate about letting Wal-Mart open a couple of locations in the city. One was in the Austin neighborhood the other would have been on 83rd Street near Simeon High School. The council rejected the one on 83rd but they gave the go ahead on the location in Austin."
Please go read the rest! He keeps a nice blog.

Cross Posted at Illinoize

Illinois Veterans Homes

A letter to the Editor found in today's Daily Herald,
Our Illinois veterans homes are in need of health care staff. The state (Gov. Rod Blagojevich) needs to release the funds for staffing the empty beds in all the Illinois facilities. We have close to 500 or more honorably discharged veterans waiting to be admitted. Some veterans are told the wait could be between 8 months to 2 years. This wait is no way to treat our veterans. The state has the funds — it just needs to allocate them differently. I know everyone wants their piece of the pie, but these individuals deserve the whole thing.Robert HurstSugar Grove
And a little follow up to confirm Mr Hurst's numbers. This from the Chicago Tribune back in July,
Q. I'm a disabled veteran. Are there nursing homes in Illinois for veterans?

A. Illinois has four nursing homes for veterans, located in LaSalle, Manteno, Anna and Quincy. You can apply at each home for a spot. But you should be prepared to wait. For example, 409 people are on the waiting list for a place in the veterans' home in LaSalle. Currently, 147 people are on the waiting list for a spot at the Manteno facility, according to a spokesperson at the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs in Springfield.

Why the long list? Nursing homes for veterans are a good deal. Veterans in Illinois pay $929 a month for care, a fraction of the cost of a private nursing home. Ironically, even though the homes have big waiting lists, they also have vacancies. Funds have not been available to fully staff the buildings, though the Veterans' Affairs Department spokesperson said there are plans this year to add 25 nurses so the vacant beds can be filled.
Anyone know if Gov Blagojevich hired those 25 nurses?

cross posted at Illinoize

Moderation or Blasphemy?

DAVID HOROVITZ writing in today's Jerusalem Post. It's not just Israel and the West who will have to grapple with this earthquake. Islamists will have to grapple with the questions of moderation or blasphemy. They may have the toughest choice of all to make now.
But Hamas's founding charter is uncompromising in its intolerance of Israel. It strives "to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine" and prescribes "resistance and quelling the enemy" as "the individual duty of every Muslim, male and female."

Some may seek comfort in the belief that an ascent to government could prompt a greater sense of responsibility, a move to moderation. But Hamas's intolerance is based on a perceived religious imperative. No believing Muslim, in the Hamas conception, can be reconciled to Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. To deny that, for Hamas, is blasphemy.

And that is the ideology to which the Palestinian people, for whatever reason and by their own free hand, have just tied their fate. That is the guiding ideology with which Israel and the West will now have to grapple.
Hard times coming but sure glad Kerry isn't President. His first choice was go to Paris and Chirac's talking nuclear strikes on Iran.

The Hamas Victory

My quick thought is great. Hamas won big. The Arab cards are on the table now and all those pro-Fatah Liberals in Europe and the US have to declare themselves. No more phoney 70's National Liberation mumbo jumbo in English from Arafat (while talking like Hamas in Arabic.) Hamas is committed to Israel's annihilation. Are Liberals too?

And Hamas has to be responsible for governing and accept the consequences of being belligerents, and talking annihilation. They'll learn fast.

This is what Democracy is all about.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Live Blogging Illinois Republican Primary Governor Debates - wrap up

Where we going to get the money?

JBT: cut the waste. Blajo's heated drive way; washing the salt domes, and don't expand gambling. We need to grow the economy, we're not comptetitive...hey ...she sounded strong.

Gidwitz: If we were a family? Don't spend more than we have... we're in the hold 5k per head already. Priortize the spending... raising taxes won't do it ...tighten the belt instead... I can't follow it.

Brady: At least specific on programs and savings. We need a Capital program. This is the first time in three years a Gov can't pass one and that's because no one trusts him.

Obewise: Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and O is the outside change agent to fix it. Grow that old pie again... make us proud.

Closing Statements and everyone gets 90 seconds.

Oberwies: he goes after JBT. She's inside and he's not and used the Fitz word again... he's just like him. Ouch!! He said Blagojevich out to break the Dem Rep indictment tie. Now he's using Corinne Wood's illness...

Gidwitz: Take make our Government... up end the status quo; Illinois is on the wrong path with too much corruption. We need a proven leader, and I guess G is one...

He blessed us and Illinois.

Brady: Good, first step is retiring Blagojevich, and he can do it. Brady can do it because he will not raise taxes. B's greatest vulnerablity is corruption. Keeps using that family business word. I like him, he goes after Blago... he blesses us again too.

JBT: She agrees with what Brady says, but that would be her... anyone on the stage is better than Blago... but we trusted her three time and she's had more votes at the bottom of the ticket than Ron had at the top. She sounded tough.. not smooth like Brady, but tough.

Live Blogging Illinois Republican Primary Governor Debates III

Audience questions:

Oberwise, how would you fund pensions? The O says end corruption in the state, and I think he just came out for defined benefits pensions.

Gidwitz: about those judicial hell holes. The land of Lincoln is not the land of jack pot justice. He's worked on commissions to reverse this. We need to do a bunch of nuts and bolts things... he'll see to it... ok.. ok.

JBT: Illinois has lost 250k jobs and compete with the border states. JBT says we give low interest loans to attract business. We need to get rid of the back door taxes. Illinois is the only state with a high tech fund. Is JBT a Socialist?

Brady: A Pharmacist asks about payment cycles to help local pharmacies. Solution is we need to manage finances by managing Medicaid better and putting it into an HMO is probably the way. A Gov who can say NO can end the payment cycle delay.

Oberweis" Star Line Question will spur development. How will we pay Illinois's share? We'll pay by ending corruption and reforming procurement process. Can save 12 to 20 percent on state construction programs. Well, at least he gave out a number.

Gidwitz: Illinois is consistently one of the worse states to do business in. It's not a question of business but of the cost of doing business. Wisc has higher taxes but lower costs. We need to be a job friendly place, and especially restructure business property taxes.

JBT: Health Care... the costs are going up and employers main concern in Illinois. What can you do for small business? Why is Health care for Medicaid more expensive then private sector plans? It's out of control, we need better Utilization management and fraud controls.

Brady: Illinois deficit, what are options for expanding sales taxes into services, would you veto it? We need to bring revenues through job growth, he's pledged to no new taxes. Illinois instead needs to repeal motor fuel tax that drives jobs out of Illinois. We have some of the best resources. We just need a level playing field to make us competitive.

Live Blogging Illinois Republican Primary Governor Debates II

Brady would abolish the State Board of Education.

JBT, how do you respond to you've been there too long? You don't have credibility on ethics issue? She's made! She's had no charges against her. She runs an open office, and experience does count! The public wants an adult at this time. She sounds mad, and she sounds good!

Brady says you just have to have the right balance of experience and gets a few laughts. He sounds good, not emotional; and he says corruption is the number issue against Blagojevich.

Ouch, Q to Oberweiz is your business is good, Gov must be doing something right. Oberweis responds with example of Prarie Farm Diaries moving to Mo. Illinois lost a million dollar payroll plus vendors.

JBT takes a shot about Oberwise free ice cream coupons and then rattles off stats on job losses. I lost it thinking of free ice cream.

Gidwitz on jobs: He's the only candidate with a plan. Wants to make Illinois the alternative energy capital.

Oberwise: reduce level of workmen's comp claims... just keep governement to the side.

Live Blogging Illinois Republican Primary Governor Debates

JBT looks to thin! This is why I would rather listen to these on the radio.

Brady looks and sounds good.

Who cares if Oberweis has an MBA from University of Chicago.

Gidwitz: fundamental problem is we in Illinois add cost upon cost. We need to expand job base, and that was Brady's push too.

Gidwitz: pitches priotizing budget...Education, then Healthcare, then transportation..

Brady: Good, he responds with we need 401k type solutions for pension mess.

Brady: on pay to play politics. He wants to use the same rules the feds use. It's enought to purify the system. Hey, the guy is ready with right answers!

Oberweis: He wants to eliminate contributions from those seeking quid-pro-quos but it's ok from rich folks... great.

Topinka on China and trade: well, bring all the parties together: labor, busines, etc...and lock them in a room. hmm... that's not a happy answer.

Oberweis on immigration: we have to enforce our laws. Ok... but no tuition or cards to those breaking our laws. Man, he sounds harsh. But he got a lot of applause.

Brady responds with the terrorist card. Immigration is a National Security issue. It doesn't include rounding them up in a helicopter and dropping them in soldier field... nice!

Gidwitz on being a slum lord: He's running a HUD project and it's low income housing. Joliet would rather make the building a park, but Gidwitz is giving housing for 351 families.

JBT says all she owns is her house, but if she had section 8 housing she would want it in good shape, but it's Ron's problem, not her's...

World Wide Standard blog: Call Hillary Clinton's Bluff on NSA al Qaeda Surveillance Program

I'm sick and tired of Democrats telling me they've been duped, bamboozled, kept in the dark like mushrooms. Daniel McKivergan writes,
Senator Clinton, who not long ago claimed she was duped into voting for the Iraq War resolution, is now opposed to the NSA operation. She says monitoring al Qaeda communications should be done in a "lawful way," but doesn't know if the current spy program broke any laws. I'm sure General Michael Hayden will be gratified with the New York senator's judiciousness. Sen. Clinton also believes the president's legal
justification of the program is "kind of strange because we have FISA and FISA
operated very effectively and it wasn't that hard to get their permission." Fine. If Sen. Clinton believes the NSA program as currently structured isn't necessary and others say it's unconstitutional, she and her House colleagues should seek to cut off congressional funding for it. Sen. Clinton won't want to do that, of course, which is why Republicans may want to force the issue.
And I'm betting that's exactly what Congress will do to force the Democrat's hand.

Kos: Bush = Bin Laden

Kos writes Osma's Talking Points and shows the thought process destroying what's left of Liberalism and the Democratic Party.

Thanks to WorldWide Blog,
Let's not forget that ultimately, Osama's vision for the Arab world is far more akin to the Right's vision of America. Remember these old posts? On homosexuality, on militarism, on women's rights, on religion in school, on capital punishment, on free speech, on curtailment of civil liberties, and on a million different other issues Islamic fundamentalists don't share many disagreements with the ideologues running our country.

The reason we hate Islamic fundamentalists is pretty much the same reason we're fighting to take back this country from the Republicans. They are two peas from the same pod, and diametrically opposed to everything we liberals stand for.

Lethal Drips, Euthansia, and Alito

The UUA makes a mumbo jumbo sounding stand against Alito's confirmation. Religous Conservatives writing thoughtful stuff on euthansia after the Oregon case; and here is a good one in Mere Comments on the use of morphine drips instead of anti biotics. (Can't use both together as the morphine will weaken the effect of the antibiotic.)
Or another example: euthanasia used to conceal medical incompetence. An old man enters the hospital with colon cancer. He has a colonectomy; but the surgeon botches the procedure and the intestines become infected. In two weeks the man develops a dangerously high fever and a huge distended belly. The family is warned that if anything is done their father will almost certainly die. A morphine drip, with lots of antibiotics, is recommended. But a pro-life doctor loathed by almost everybody rushes in to warn the family that if nothing is done he will certainly die, no almosts about it. The original surgeon refuses to touch the man. Finally she persuades an outside surgeon to open the man up -- and he discovers the problem area, under many liters of pus.

According to my source, about 30 people are euthanized every year at this hospital, and it is by no means unusual. Because of the vagaries of Medicare compensation, it's often a lot quicker and more profitable to let the elderly die when they're very sick and when they aren't in complete possession of their faculties -- that is, when the family would not be over-distraught should something unfortunate happen.
This is why the Religous Right trumps the Liberal Religous almsot everytime. Their bloggers just think harder about big issues while the Religous Liberal is out there holding some sign shouting 70's rhetoric.

Voters will be thinking about that Doctor in the ER at the next visit.

As for me, I know a lot Docs, so I'll put my faith with Alito. Many Docs I know will too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Those darn colored conservatives

via Sound Politics... and D'Souza still got paid even after the disinvite! I think this is an example of an emotional reaction from the old believers to a changer. They'll pay not to hear him speak.

Lakeside School ...invited author Dinesh D'Souza to speak about Iraq and foreign policy. After he had been invited (by the headmaster), he says that a group of teachers learned that his views were politically incorrect and began a campaign to have him disinvited — which succeeded. They feared, he says, that by inviting a colored, conservative immigrant from India they would sin against diversity. In our modern academy, that's a mortal sin, and so he was disinvited. (Though he will be paid for his non-appearance.)

Ideology and Closed Systems

Grims Hall on Ideology and Closed systems.

Only problem with this kind of analysis is Americans are a non-ideological sort and institutionalize change management as a science in our culture.

We constantly knock down pillars and it's why I found working for the Defense Department so interesting. The organization is based on asking: what do you do when the pillars of command get knocked down? What do you do in the fog of war when the plans go awry?

Here's Grims writing on the response changers get from the old believers, and why it feels like we're not speaking the same language.
The same thing is at work in these political models. Your most effective political operatives are good at applying reason to questions within the model. "How does this political coup fit within the model?" is one such question. "What does the model suggest as the right response to rising gas prices?" is another.

Yet the reason they adopted the model wasn't rational -- it is tied up with emotional thinking about what kind of person they want to be and also what kind of society they want to have. These are the very questions that Aristotle said might not be able to be addressed wholly rationally, or possibly even at all rationally.

This is why the "changer" gets hit with a heavy emotional response when he begins knocking down the pillars of the system. It is because, at base, the real supporters of the system are invested based on deep emotional attachments to the ideals. They can be wholly clinical about applying reason to events, fitting them within the system and devising a response. Applying reason to the model, in a way that undermines it, moves you into an emotional field, and they will have an emotional response.
What's most revealing about this whole dialogue between Grims Hall and Neo Neo-con is the whole sense of how thinking is deeply changing at the moment.

My letter to Durbin and Obama on UUA and Alito's nomination

Dear Senator,

I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Illinois.

The National Unitarian Universalist Association has entered the polical fray and come out against Judge Alito's confirmation for the Supreme Court.

Their decision can be found here http://www.uua.org/news/2006/060124.html

I'm deeply disappointed my Church's National Office has chosen to make a political stand such as this and want you to know I am a Unitarian Universalist in good standing with my Church who finds Judge Alito to be an honorable American, and someone who will bring great distinction to the court.

I strongly encourage you to vote for his confirmation.

Thank you
Bill Baar

deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong

John McIntyre hearing the sounds of Rove sawing off the tree limb.
In December, as the NSA wiretap story was unfolding and the debate on the Patriot Act was ongoing in the Senate, I suggested that Democrats had walked right into a trap with their relentless attack on Bush and the War:

“Not recognizing the political ground had shifted beneath their feet, Democrats continued to press forward with their offensive against the President. They’ve now foolishly climbed out on a limb that Rove and Bush have the real potential to chop off.”

On Friday, Karl Rove began to saw that limb off. In a speech before the Republican National Committee, Rove made it clear what the Democrats can expect in 2006.

"At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security….Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview. That doesn't make them unpatriotic -- not at all. But it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."

The left will scream foul that Republicans are challenging Democrats’ patriotism, but those complaints didn’t save Max Cleland’s senate seat or get John Kerry elected President. Why the Democrats continue to focus their attacks on national security related issues (Iraq, wire-tapping, Gitmo, and torture) is beyond me. I suspect a big reason is the Howard Dean/Moveon.org/DailyKos influence that is becoming increasingly more mainstream in the Democratic Party.

The 2006 midterms

People call Rove a genius but this coming election is a no-brainer for Republicans. From Dick Meyers writing in Against the Grain over at CBS.
The 2006 GOP/Rove platform can easily be put on an index card, if not a Post-it note. It reads something like this: we are at war against foreign terrorists who want to kill you and your society and we'll do what it takes to stop it and the Democrats won't; we will cut your taxes and give you money and Democrats won't. Every Republican candidate in the country can spit that one out.

The controversy over domestic surveillance without warrants illustrates the efficient, black and white clarity of the Rovian message. Rove said, "Let me be as clear as I can: President Bush believes if al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

Please draft a two sentence response that will work in a TV ad; my guess is it will sound as convoluted as John Kerry explaining why his vote for war was a vote against war.

Democrats thought the domestic surveillance revelations were a boon; if that were the case, why would the administration be devoting this week to a public campaign to trumpet the issue? Simple: because they think they have the gut punch: we'll protect you, they won't.

Bill Clinton's Culture of Corruption: The Office of Independent Councel's report on Henry Cisneros

The Press Release says it all,
This has been a long and difficult investigation. It is my hope that people will read the entire Report and draw their own conclusions. An accurate title for the Report could be, “WHAT WE WERE PREVENTED FROM INVESTIGATING.”

After a thorough reading of the Report it would not be unreasonable to conclude as I have that there was a coverup at high levels of our government and, it appears to have been substantial and coordinated. The question is why? And that question regrettably will go unanswered. Unlike some other coverups, this one succeeded.
Full report is here.

RUMSFELD: We discussed a lot.

Secretary Rumsfeld's Remarks at Honor Cordon with Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
DoD News Briefing Secretary Rumsfeld's Remarks at Honor Cordon with Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Monday, January, 23, 2006 - 00:00 AM EDT

RUMSFELD: First of all, welcome to the Pentagon. We have a lot of construction going on, so we've all been disrupted. We're over here temporarily. The prime minister is a friend. We have great respect for him and for President Musharraf, and we're delighted that the prime minister was able to come by. He will be meeting with the president later, and I am sure he and the president will have things to say to the press.

Q: What did you discuss?

RUMSFELD: We discussed a lot.

Q: Like did you discuss?

RUMSFELD: And we -- just a minute, just a minute. just a minute. I'm not answering questions. I'm just talking. I never get a chance to do this. We discussed a great deal about our relationship, which is an important relationship for both of our countries. It's important bilaterally, but it's also important in the region. And we have a great many things that we do together, and we have had good success in a number of things we do together. And we wish Pakistan well, and that is all I have to say, and it's nice to see you all.

Rwanda Survivors Blog

Rwandan Survivors is a new blog with the aim,
...to bring together survivors of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and create a discusion linked to the new film 'Shooting Dogs'.

This site will include testimonials from survivors and a database of resources for people to use.
Watching Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo on TV were really the politically transformative events for me. They turned me from a McGovern Democrat into a Bush Republican.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Senator Obama and Samantha Powers

I called Senator Obama's Office today to see if Samantha Powers still worked for him.

They said yes.

Senator Obama's hiring of Powers was pretty noteworthy and I'm not sure what she's really produced for him.

The Chicago Defender wrote back in July 2005 after an interview with the Senator Obama,
Obama said he is troubled that the situation in the Sudan has been moved “off the radar screen” by other stories such as the bombings in London the last two weeks.

"The fact of the matter is we still have a major humanitarian crisis there, though the wholesale slaughter that had been taking place has diminished," he said.

Obama said he met with Anne Patterson, acting U.S. representative to the United Nations, as well as the ambassadors to Sudan and China. "I told them the killing, which started in 2003, has to stop," he said.

Obama is a co-sponsor of a Senate bill to make sure the United States allocates "the millions of dollars needed to help these African union countries, like Rwanda and South Africa, airlift and supply the troops they've sent in to provide help to assistance to the people in Darfur camps.”

This week, he has also hired Samantha Power to advise him on foreign policy, especially as it pertains to genocide. In 2003, she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for the book, “A Problem from Hell: American in the Age of Genocide.”
Anyone know what she's up too, please comment.

cross posted at Illinoize

BBC: Iraqis and Afghans are the among most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.

The BBC poll on optimists and possimists.
In Afghanistan 70% say their own circumstances are improving, and 57% believe that the country overall is on the way up.

In Iraq 65% believe their personal life is getting better, and 56% are upbeat about the country's economy.

The experts at polling firm Globescan, who conducted the survey, venture the
guess that war may have created a "year zero" experience of collectively starting over.
And the pessmists --with good reason-- are:
Among the six countries with unhappy majorities, Zimbabweans stand out as the most miserable lot.

An overwhelming 90% of those interviewed say their country's economy is getting worse, and 84% are dubious about their own financial future.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Norm's Blog:'When you are a witness to something terrible..." and the UUSC would not voice a concern

It's amazing stories like this from Ann Applebaun can appear in the Washington Post and groups like the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee remain siltent about such oppression. It's a huge moral failure on our part.Anne Applebaum via Norm's Blog
Enter the Web site: http://www.abfiran.org. Click on "Omid: A Memorial," and then "Search." Enter a name - or a religion, a nationality, an alleged crime. One by one, the stories will transfix you.

Atefeh Rajabi, a 16-year-old schoolgirl: Executed by hanging in Neka, Aug. 15, 2004, for "acts incompatible with chastity."

Azizullah Gulshani: Executed by the state in Mashad, April 29, 1982, for "promoting the dirty, non-Islamic sect of Bahaism."

Ali Akbar Tabatabai: Executed by extrajudicial shooting in Maryland, July 23, 1980, for an "unknown revolutionary offense."

Many of the entries are frustrating. There is "no information on this case," or else the information - from official sources, exile groups, human rights groups - is sparse. Dates are missing, photographs are missing, and although the site has English and Farsi links to nearly 10,000 political victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran, thousands more haven't even been entered yet.

But this, say Ladan and Roya Boroumand, is only the beginning: Their "Omid" Web site, named for the word "hope" in Farsi, is a living project that will expand as relatives of the victims of the Iranian Islamic regime add to it, correct it, change it. The launch today - on the 25th anniversary of the Iranian students' release of American hostages - is in part a bid for the support and the readers they need to expand the site further. It's also a bid for successors. "If the regime kills us," explains Ladan matter-of-factly, "we hope someone else will take up the task."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Iran and the Gore-Chernomyrdin culture of corruption

What about a special prosecutor to investigate the breech of Gore-McCain's Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992?

John Broder in the NYT Oct 2000,
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — In June 1995, Vice President Al Gore signed a secret agreement with Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, then the Russian prime minister, calling for an end to all Russian sales of conventional weapons to Iran by the end of 1999.

But the deadline passed with no sign of a halt to such sales, despite repeated complaints late last year and this year to senior Russian officials by Mr. Gore, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Moscow continues to be a significant supplier of conventional arms to Tehran despite the Gore-Chernomyrdin deal, the Central Intelligence Agency reported in August.
[****]
The Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement appeared to undercut a 1992 law, the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act, known as Gore-McCain after its principal sponsors, Mr. Gore, then a senator from Tennessee, and Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican. The law was rooted in concerns about Russian sales to Iran of some of the same weapons that the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement expressly allowed.

Senator McCain said this month that he was unaware of the deal that Mr. Gore struck with Mr. Chernomyrdin, which was codified in a document stamped "Secret" and signed in Moscow on June 30, 1995. Mr. McCain said a "strong case can be made" that the Russian delivery of arms, especially the submarine, should have triggered sanctions against Moscow under the provisions of the Gore-McCain law.

"If the administration has acquiesced in the sale, then I believe they have violated both the intent and the letter of the law," he said.
[****]
President Clinton entrusted his vice president with an extraordinary degree of authority to manage one of the most important accounts in American diplomacy. Mr. Gore used that authority to pursue a broad agenda on issues from arms control to the environment to cooperation in space.

Much of that work was carried out in a channel known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which was established in 1993 and which met twice a year until Boris N. Yeltsin, the former president, dismissed Mr. Chernomyrdin in March 1998. Mr. Gore has cited the work of the commission as among his signal achievements as vice president and an important part of his résumé for the presidency.

Some critics in Congress, as well as Governor George W. Bush's foreign policy advisers, say that Mr. Gore placed too much faith in his close personal relationship with Mr. Chernomyrdin, and that this led Mr. Gore to turn a blind eye to strong evidence of corruption by Mr. Chernomyrdin and associates, who appear to have profited handsomely from the rapid privatization of Soviet state enterprises.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Bruce Bawer: An American Gay's view of Europe's Leftist Elite

Bruce Bawer's perspective on Europe's left. Thanks to David's Median Kirtik and German Joy's. Someone will email me and say Bawer is a self-loathing Gay because he challanges the liberal view... it's always the term self-loathing. I don't know how that writer will know what's inside Bawer's head.
"A few years back, after a prolonged immersion in American Protestant fundamentalism (I was writing a book), I moved from the U.S. to Western Europe, ready to bask in an open, secular, liberal culture. Instead I discovered that European social democracy, too, was a kind of fundamentalism, rigid and doctrinaire, yielding what Swedish writer Johan Norberg calls "one-idea states"—nations where an echo chamber of insular elites calls the shots, where monochrome media daily reiterate statist mantras and shut out contrarian views, and where teachers and professors systematically misrepresent the U.S. (millions of Europeans believe that free public schools, unemployment insurance, and pensions are unknown in America). The more I saw of the European elites' chronic distrust of the public, and the public's habitual deference to those elites, the fonder I grew of the nasty, ridiculous rough-and-tumble of American democracy, in which every voice is heard—even if, as a result, the U.S. gets capital punishment and Europe gets gay marriage.

How did Western Europe come to be ruled by monolithic ideologues? Short answer: the "'68ers," which is what Europeans call those who came of age in the radical movements of the 1960s, revering Mao and reviling the U.S. as Nazi Germany's successor. Remarkably, after the protests were over, an extraordinary number of '68ers—those who'd stood on the barricades denouncing the system—ascended into positions of political and cultural power, shaping a New Europe (and an EU) in which the anti-Americanism of the barricades became official dogma."
And more from Bawer on Hating America,
Europeans mock American religiosity. But American religion, for all its attendant idiocies and cruelties, has never prevented Americans from acting pragmatically. Secular Western European intellectuals, however, have their own version of religion. It is a social-democratic religion that deifies international organizations such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and, above all, the U.N. Not NATO, which is about waging war, and which has for that reason been the target of much European criticism in recent years; no, the NGOs are about waging peace, love, brotherhood, and solidarity, and, as such, are, for the elites of Western Europe, beyond criticism, for they embody Western Europe’s most cherished idea of itself and of the way the world works, or should work. The elites’ enthusiasm for these institutions, whether or not they are genuinely effective or even admirable, is a matter of maintaining a certain self-image and illusion of the world that is intimately tied up with their identity as social democrats; America’s unforgivable offense, as Kagan notes, is that it challenges that image and that illusion; and the degree to which the reality of America is distorted in the Western European media is a measure of the desperate need among Western European elites to preserve that self-image and illusion. It sometimes seems to me a miracle, frankly, that America has any friends at all in some parts of Western Europe, given the news media’s relentless anti-Americanism. There is no question that the chief obstacle to improved understanding and harmony between the U.S. and Western Europe is the Western European media establishment. It is an obstacle that must somehow be overcome, for Western civilization is under siege, and America and Europe need each other, perhaps more than ever. More sane, sensible European books along the lines of Revel’s L’obsession anti-américaine and Bromark and Herbjørnsrud’s Frykten for Amerika can help.

Michelle Bachelet

Her website, the congratulations from The White House, and the story from the BBC.

Norman Geras on Glyn Berry 1946-2006: A comrade of the Afghan people

Thanks to Norman Geras. Read Berry's blog here and below is a quote from him,
Bitter lessons such as those of Rwanda and Srebrenica have shown us in tragic terms that there are situations where the international community must take collective action, using all the means available through international law. In today's world, sovereignty is no longer exclusively about rights, it is about responsibilities. The primary responsibility of a government to protect its own people is integral to the very concept of sovereignty. When that responsibility is not or cannot be exercised in the face of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing, there can be no realistic option but for the international community to take collective action, including, as a last resort, the use of force...

Saeb Erekat: “Iran, instead of trying to remove Israel from world, should try to help to put Palestine on the world map”.

Statement from the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran via NormsBlog. Maybe a site that should be required reading for the Iran's already a Democracy crowd.
Announcement condemning Iranian Regime’s position on Holocaust and Elimination of Israel

On 3 January 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad president renewed his call for the destruction of Israel and claimed that Holocaust – which involved the killing of six million innocent Jewish people by Nazi regime – was a fiction. He made his statement in front of a group of radical Islamist student activists. He emphasized that, his latest remarks were deliberate and that they were in line with the state strategy.

During recent weeks, leading members of the Iranian regime have defended his remarks as the basis of government policy that was one of the tenets of Islamic Republic and its founder, the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian regime is using the Palestinian issue in order to destroy Israel and deny the Holocaust, while at the same time it is depriving oppressed nationalities in Iran such as Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baloch, Kurd and Turkmen of all their fundamental political, social and human rights.

Iran’s oppressed nationalities are simply appealing for their rights within Iran on the basis of international law and United Nations Conventions and Accords. As a result of their legitimate demands, they are suffering gross human rights violations by the Iranian security forces and intelligence agencies. Arrests, kidnappings, illegal detention and the extra-judicial killing of political, cultural and social activists are routine in Iran. The Iranian constitution sets in stone the systematic social, ethnic and cultural discrimination against ethnic minority groups.

The Palestinian people, through their elected representatives, are negotiating with the Israeli government and do not need a guardian. They are trying to solve their differences with the Israeli people and government through a political process. As Mr Saeb Erekat, the head of Palestinian negotiating delegation put it: “Iran, instead of trying to remove Israel from world, should try to help to put Palestine on the world map”.

The Iranian regime’s internal and external policies are based on creating tension and confrontation, both inside and outside Iran. By taking an irresponsible position, President Ahmadinejad is trying to deflect public attention in Iran away from domestic economical, political and social crises. The government’s foreign policy aims to position Iran as the sole defender of Palestinian people’s right by allying with extremist groups to create tension in the Middle East and ultimately derail the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.

While we condemn the Iranian government’ regarding Holocaust and the destruction of Israel, we appeal to all democratic forces and human rights organisations to support the oppressed Iranian nationalities (that comprise 2/3 of the population) towards the establishment of a secular, democratic and a federal state in Iran.

Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents

I haven't read them. Just found the link. But it looks like an interesting resource.
Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

Iran's Akbar Ganji's pictures for SoapBlog Chicago

Some more pictures for SoapBlog Chicago to consider using. This time of Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji.

I've blogged on him here: The Economist on Iran's Akbar Ganji: "a courageous and obdurate man willing to lay down his life on a matter of principle".

The petition to the UN Human Rights Commisionaire, European Parliament, and Iranian Authorities to free him can be found here.

And here is Reporters Without Borders on Ganji: Akbar Ganji goes on hunger strike : "No one should be imprisoned - not even for a second - for expressing an opinion."

A pic for SoapBlog Chicago

I found a great picture for SoapBlog Chicago to consider for their logo thanks to It's My Mind's tribute today to Dr. King.

This would look great for them, be consistent with thier politics, and probably more recognizable to most of today's users.

What do you think Jeff?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Unitary Executive powers: ok for Abortion, but not for National Security

Unitary Executive Powers is all the talk on Liberal blogs. An example are signing statements Presidents use to express limits on what they'll enforce on bills they sign. The left believes Bush will use signing statements on national security to create an imperial Presidency.

Stuart Buck finds an example of one when Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Clinton did not want to enforce the act's provisions limiting speech on abortion.
I do object to the provision in the Act concerning the transmittal of abortion-related speech and information. Current law, 18 U.S.C. 1462, prohibits transmittal of this information by certain means, and the Act would extend that law to cover transmittal by interactive computer services. The Department of Justice has advised me of its long-standing policy that this and related abortion provisions in current law are unconstitutional and will not be enforced because they violate the First Amendment. The Department has reviewed this provision of S. 652 and advises me that it provides no basis for altering that policy. Therefore, the Department will continue to decline to enforce that provision of current law, amended by this legislation, as applied to abortion-related speech.
The Left is lost when it comes out against signing statements for National Defense but lets them slide when used to promote abortion. It's a horrible loss of principle and seems driven by a loss of values.

The Left's betrayel: fatuous, immoral, and weird beyond measure

Nick Cohen on the Left's betrayel of it's own principles and history. It all unravels with George Galloway appearing on reality TV to the tune of £150,000.

In every developed country, the story has been the same. At the beginning of the Iraq crisis, the far left moved to the far right and took control of the anti-war protests. Behind them came many decent people who were against war for good reasons. Unfortunately, their hatred of Bush was such they couldn’t bring themselves to back democracy once it was over. They didn’t go as far as Galloway and support the Baathists, but they didn’t oppose them either.

In Britain, we had the honourable exceptions to the rule of Tony Blair, the majority of Labour MPs and the trade unions, but there was no sense among the wider liberal-left that the struggle in Iraq was anything to do with them.

The other day, I ran into Kanan Makiya, a writer who has done more than anyone to expose the horrors of the Saddam regime, and he was disgusted with the rich world’s liberals. He is collecting millions of old files in Baghdad so Iraqis will be able to find out what happened to their families during the 35-year Baath dictatorship. ‘All the time, I hear the insurgents crowing, “Even your friends in the West don’t support you.” And they’re right. We have been betrayed.’

The madness is passing now, with a whimper, not a bang. When Galloway comes out of the Big Brother house, no one in the middle classes will want to know him and that will be for the good. Far from being sinister, Celebrity Big Brother deserves to win a Bafta for its exposure of the truly sinister.

Still, aren’t they weird? The liberals who think it is worse to appear on a TV show than in the court of a fascist tyrant; the socialists who believe that it is left wing to ignore Iraq as the forces of the far right blow it to pieces. Not just fatuous and immoral, but weird beyond measure.

Niall Ferguson: The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented

Niall Ferguson is a historian of the first World War. This is his grim column speculating on another great War he sees coming with Iran. A war that drags in China.

It may come to war soon, but it will be swift under any scenario, and with any outcome.
The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.

Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration's original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran's nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost. And the Great Gulf War might never have happened.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Clown caught in Elmwood Park

Lombardo just caught in Elmwood Park last night.

I had lunch at the Onion Roll on North Ave last week.

All brings back memories of walking town to Sam Giancana's house as a kid on warm summer evenings to watch the FBI watch Giancana.

So the old neigborhood nostalgia put me in the mood for mob surfing, and I found this history of John (No Nose) DiFronzo over at Big Al's Corner.

John (No Nose) DiFronzo was a colorful member of the Chicago Outfit who worked his way up the ranks and reached the top spot solely by surviving.

Although the rumor was that he got his nickname by having his nose shot off during a shootout with police, the truth is a little less exciting. According to veteran journalist Sandy Smith, when DiFronzo was younger he was a common thief who developed a taste for Michigan Avenue furs.

He would stake out a nice fur shop and at the appropriate moment smash the plate glass window, strip the fur from the mannequin, jump in his car and split.


This technique was eventually DiFronzo's undoing. Once, his face hit a jagged piece of glass as he jumped back out of the window, and police were able to follow the blood trail and arrest him. He had left his nose in the window. Police gave it back to him, and doctors were able to successfully reattach it.

George Galloway and Rula Lenska

Remember Rula Lenska from that commercial in the 80s? She's together with George Galloway in the reality TV show in Britian. It's impossible to describe this, just look at the pictures at Harry's Place. Galloway is pretending to be a cat and linking mild I guess from Lenska's hands.

PS on Rula Lenska

"Rula Lenska did beauty commercials (can't remember what product [webmaster: many readers have pointed out the product was Alberto VO5]), she came onto set in a Loretta Young-type swish, saying "I'm Rula Lenska, the famous actress from ...(Romania, Czechoslovakia?) She almost attained cult-like status, because no one had ever heard of her before the commercial. Also, got to be the brunt of a joke, when people imitated her entrance on the set and greeting....."

Non-Transparent Societies

I'm watching c-span's replay of yesterday's Bush - Merkel press conference. Bush called Iran a non-transparent society. He's used the term before to describe China .

Here's Wikpedia on the Transparent Society and here's something on the non-transparency of the WTO.

Padilla's Al Qaeda Form

Michelle Malkin's posted an image of Padilla's application to enlist in Al Qaeda captured among the Talaban archives in Afganistan.

I'm no lawyer, but my opinion is once you've joined an Army at War with the United States, you've renounced your citzenship.

Padilla's not a criminal, he's a POW and had he been fighting in uniform according to Geneva Convention, he should be treated as a POW. He wasn't fighing by the rules, so he should be treated the way we've agreed to treat enemy combatants.

In otherwords he sits in the cage for the duration of the war; and he should be thankful he wasn't shot.

Just have a Military Tribunal to make sure this is the right guy.

But he's no criminal, and it's wrong to treat him as one.

Announce a CEASEFIRE at once!

An open letter to Osama, Al-Zawahiri By S.A.Rehman and published in Bangladesh's The New Nation.

The opening and final paragraphs are below.

OBL and Al-Zawahiri announce a cease fire and then it makes sense to talk about releasing the combatants at Gitmo. That's all it takes.

Aslam-o-Alaikum! Do you know what degree of shame, abomination, misery and wretchedness is being heaped on the innocent and peace-following Muslims all over the world because of this so-called and self styled Jihad of yours?

Do you know how many innocent, unsullied people are being daily butchered as result of this professed Jihad of yours? How many children are being orphaned and women being widowed precisely for the same reason.

And do you know, killing one faultless human being is like killing the entire humanity. You must definitely be knowing that you will surely be held accountable for this all bloodshed. Will you, then, be able to face your God? I challenge, no!

[***]


For God's sake, take recourse to sense, and announce a CEASEFIRE at once so the inhabitants of world may be introduced to that divine aspect of the Muslims at whose hands no soul suffer, whose words and actions bear no tinge of dichotomy, whose speech, when uttered, conveys to others the message of love and protection, whose thoughts, when thought, are devoted to the well being of others. Herein lies the true success, and herein lies the victory of the true religion of Allah.

via Pajama's Media

Friday, January 13, 2006

Obama grams

What's with the Harriet Mier reference?
Dear Bill:

Thank you for advising me of your views on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to replace retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. I appreciate hearing from you.

The Constitution gives the U.S. Senate the special responsibility of "advice and consent" on appointments to the federal bench, and I take that role seriously. As with all nominees to the Supreme Court, my bottom line in considering Judge Alito's nomination is that I have confidence that he will respect the constitutionally protected rights of individuals and resist the temptation to substitute personal ideology for legal reasoning.

As you know, Judge Alito's nomination came on the heels of the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination. Now that we have a new nominee, the process of review has begun anew. I look forward to learning more about Judge Alito through a review of his record on the bench and by following the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the nomination, which began January 9.

Thank you again for writing. Please keep in touch as this process develops.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

Are 500,000 Keys to Paradise Enough?

writes,
In pondering the behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I cannot help but think of the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88. At the time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields. Before every mission, a plastic key would be hung around each of the children’s necks. It was supposed to open for them the gates to paradise.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Trib's Chapman on Alito and Roe v Wade

Great, sensible column in Today's Chicago Tribune by Steve Chapman about The Past and Future of Roe v. Wade.
Instead, it [Roe v Wade] took the right of privacy, which is implicitly upheld in various provisions of the Bill of Rights, and stretched it beyond recognition.

The result was like building a skyscraper on a foundation designed for a log cabin. Roe was shaky on Day One and has been shaky ever since. All Alito did in 1985 was point out that the moon is not, in fact, made of green cheese. To hold that against him brings to mind journalist Michael Kinsley's famous comment that in Washington, a gaffe is not when a politician tells a lie, but when he tells the truth.

[***]

So seeing Roe as mistaken is not a radical view. The radical view comes from the other side. When the Constitution says nothing about an issue, the obvious answer is to leave the matter to legislative bodies. When the Constitution is silent, the people get the final say.

Pro-lifers are willing to accept that outcome -- even though it would mean abortion would remain widely available. They don't ask the Supreme Court to decree that every fetus must be protected from the moment of conception. They don't insist that the issue be pre-empted by the judiciary. It's abortion-rights supporters who insist that the Constitution forbids anything except their preference, ever.

I wish the Staff-who-speak-only-for-the-Staff over at the Unitarian Universalist Association had Chapman's eye for what the rest of the electorate well understands. Alito's no extremist. It's quite the opposite.

Had the Staff read the Lexington column in The Economist a early last month, they would have heard the same,
But when it comes to abortion, it is the Democrats who are the American exceptionalists.

Most rich countries other than the United States have solved the abortion problem by consulting the electorate either through the legislature or through referendums. This led to vigorous debates and, broadly, the triumph of abortion rights. Because abortion waslegalizedd democratically, pro-lifers accepted the fact that they had lost and abortion became a settled right. By contrast, in America, abortion is a fundamental right of privacy protected by a 1973 Supreme Court judgment Roe v Wade.
That abortion's become a fundamental right has done Democrats and Liberalism great harm, and after watching bits Judge Alito's confirmation hearings, I'd argue defense of Roe v Wade's pushed the party to the edge of irrelevancy. Lexington concluded,
The main reason, alas, why Democrats will stick by Roe is simply because it is a totem in the culture wars. Why should pro-choice forces surrender any ground? That argument makes sense if you want to defend choice right into the ninth month, as some zealots do. But for most Democrats who merely want to keep abortion legal under most circumstances, that right would be more secure if it carried democratic legitimacy.

Embracing the democratic process would send a powerful signal that the Party of the People has rediscovered its faith in the people. Relying on judges to advance the liberal agenda allowed conservatives to seize the mantle of populism. Roe has given Republicans a free ride: they can claim to oppose abortion in the comfortable knowledge that it will never be banned. But imagine if Roe were overturned. How many Republicans would vote for a ban on abortion that only one in five Americans support? The conservative coalition would be split asunder.

History is full of great generals who won their wars by staging strategic retreats. Field-Marshal Kutusov allowed Napoleon to occupy Moscow, tempting him to over-extend himself. The Democrats might emulate that aged Russian's wiliness and stage a strategic retreat to the high ground of popular opinion.

CUUMBAYA: another Politically Conservative Unitarian Universalist blogger

CUUMBAYA has started a blog and I'm looking forward to his posts. I suspect there are more of us out there then folks realize. Welcome!

Hat Tip Chalice Chick

John Keegan: "...a bad and worrying time in world affairs."

I fear we're so wrapped up with Alito and NSA spying we're ignoring the horror soon unfolding. I hope NSA's listening to calls from Iran.

Keegan's final paragraphs in The Telegraph from We should be very worried about Iran.
For if the West is considering military action, so are the ayatollahs. They are the sponsors of much of the insurgency in Iraq and suppliers of the insurgents' weapons. They also have intimate links with most of the world's worst terrorist organisations, including al-Qa'eda and Hezbollah. Iranians may well be the missing link for which MI5 is searching behind the July 7 bombings in London.

Moreover, while Iran has its own armoury of medium-range missiles suitable for nuclear delivery, the ayatollahs are also known to favour the placing of nuclear warheads in target cities by terrorists travelling by car or public transport. This is a bad and worrying time in world affairs.

Durbin on Abortion

What an embarrassment to Illinois Durbin is. From today's Sun Times,

In questioning Alito on Wednesday morning, Durbin pressed him on abortion, specifically on why he could not say if he found "constitutional support'' for a woman's right to choose or if the Supreme Court rulings were the settled law of the land.

"You can't bring yourself to say there's a constitutional basis for the right of a woman's privacy when she is deciding, making a tragic, painful decision about continuing a pregnancy that may risk her health or her life, I'm troubled by that,'' Durbin said.

Coburn came prepared to make some rhetorical points in the daylong Judiciary Committee hearing. When it was Coburn's turn to question Alito, he turned on Durbin -- who was not in the room.

"I wanted to razz him a little bit. . . . But I want to put forward, for 45 years Senator Durbin was adamantly pro-life, and he wrote multiple, multiple letters expressing that up until 1989.''

Coburn brandished a 1989 letter Durbin, then a House member, wrote to a Springfield constituent when he said he believed Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling paving the way for legalized abortion, should be reversed.

In short order, Durbin's communications director, Joe Shoemaker, issued a statement that Durbin "reconsidered his position on abortion after meeting with victims of rape and incest.''

Slightly mad men in middle age

David Aaronovitch starts a blog at The Times OnLine and explains that instead of arguing against them because

....no-one reads this stuff anyway, or that the readers are likely to be slightly mad men in middle age.

He just joined up and started his own because,

The advantages of having a blog seem to be the following:

1. Makes the columnist/blogger feel young and trendy.

2. Collects all his or her writings in one place so that people who have missed musings on, say, circumcision for the Jewish Chronicle can come to the blog to find them.

3. Gives the printed stuff added shelf life; it stays around longer before ending up lining the budgie's cage.

4. Allows the col/blog to get things into print that no publication would ever commission, such as... well if you come back here periodically, you'll see.

5. Permits the col/blog to show you pictures of his cat. Why it's usually a cat, I have no idea, but it's nice to have a glimpse of the person behind the argument.

Them's me reasons, and the big question concerns keeping the thing going - and that's about reading. There's a comments facility, which I hope will be a kind of debating area. But I will kill trolls - there is something dispiriting in having a good discussion hijacked by a people of ill-will. Otherwise it's be Liberty Hall.

Welcome to the Blogesphere.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dennis Byrne: Ted Kennedy: The ghost of McCarthy past

Dennis Byrne: Ted Kennedy: The ghost of McCarthy past: Are you now or were you ever a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton? Are you now or were you ever a reader or subscriber of that group’s magazine, “Prospect?”

Good post on Byrne's new blog. And the dumb thing was no one was hiding anything. William Rusher made the papers Kennedy wanted to see available over at the Library of Congress after a phone call.

Haymarket Riot alternative pictures for SoapBlog Chicago

Ok, I wasn't planning on posting this one here, but Rich asked for more posts.

Here's one I have posted on my own blog this morning. It's a follow up to a polite discussion I've been having with SoapBlog Chicago about their logo.

It may seem thin beer to you, and if so, just enjoy the link to the Chicago Historical Society and their digital collection of images.


In an earlier posts, I suggested to the folks over at SoapBlog Chicago they look for a different picture for their logo instead of the Chicago Anarchist Samuel Fielden inciting the crowd as the bomb goes off at the Haymarket riot.

Eleven Chicago cops gave their lives then and the Chicago Police Department still remembers and commemorates them.

I didn't think this the best image to use after 911; or before either. (Note SoapBlog cropped the bomb going off from the picture. The full pic is shown above.)

So I looked for images of the Police Statue the SDS-Weathermen kept blowing up when I was a kid, as an alternative for them; but I couldn't find one.

Then today I stumbled on this great site at the Chicago Historical Society with a digital collection of images from the Haymarket riot, and below's a banner carried by the Chicago Police Department's Veterans of the riot. It has an image of the statue --still standing in the lobby of Chicago Police HQ-- in the center.

There is also an engraving of Chicago's Anarchist Louis Ling preparing to blow himself up with a blasting cap in his mouth in his cell in Cook County Jail. He succeeded but not after writing Hoch de Anarchie! in his own blood on the jail cell's floorThere are plenty of good pictures here so I hope the SoapBlox Chicago folks check it out instead of commemorating Chicago's own suicide bombers.