Sunday, April 30, 2006

Baghdad Hobby Club

What do some servicemen stationed in Iraq do to pass the time? Hobbies! Specifically, model trains! Here, Lt. Patrick Anderson works with some of our HO scale hopper cars. Patrick and a few others in the outfit have also built an operating layout using KATO UNITRACK.
And Kato has pictures of it here. (On the lefthand menu of the Web site of the Japanese model railroad manufacturer Kato USA, click on the Customer Photo Gallery and go to the Baghdad Hobby Club at the bottom of Page 2.)

via Allen Johnson

Update: Here's their website

cross posted Bill Baar's Trains

He drinks his own bathwater

Sometimes you need a guy who drinks his own bathwater. Sarason Liebler says that's the kind of guy Rumsfeld is.

Clinton let control of the Pentagon to run wild with Congress after the misstep with Don't ask don't tell. After that it was a gentleman's agreement between the two to stay out of each other's way.

There is no doubt that Rumsfeld is full of himself. If one reads transcripts of his speeches, press conferences and interviews -- or better yet watches a live interview -- one likely sees a 73-year-old war horse tie his interlocutors in hopeless knots, an intellectual half nelson.

What did the generals expect? Did they think this fellow who had served and observed the military in action and discharged direct senior executive authority for more than 30 years, prior to his return as secretary of defense, was going to come in and rubber stamp the backward-looking, generally myopic and self-centered outlook of peace-time military leaders?

Having served on active duty in the Navy and then as secretary of defense in the 1970s, Rumsfeld had definite opinions of the military leaders and an excessive regard for his own capabilities. While many leaders become risk-adverse with age and experience, Rummy, with an unbroken track record of success, has clearly drunk large helpings of his own bath water.

He charged back into the Pentagon demanding "transformation" of the military. Good! Before Sept. 11, 2001 he was attacking pet parochial projects of the generals and admirals. He was determined to get the military to face the new realities and many did not want to do that as they were either stuck in the past or full of service loyalty or had simply gotten change- and risk-averse themselves. While Rumsfeld did not get his way in everything, especially as senators and congressmen fought to keep outmoded and excessive projects feeding their districts, he did make major changes while generating fury from two-star officers or higher, turned into office boys.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Does Ayman al-Zawahri feel upstaged by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The U.S. military has only seen "loss, disaster and misfortune" in Iraq, al-Qaida's No. 2 said, in a video message that a U.S. official deemed part of a propaganda campaign to demonstrate the terror network's relevancy.
I wonder if that's why he feels a need to show relevancy?

We don't watch CNN here, you can only watch Fox

Serious question maybe but not a serious reporter. Read the whole thing.

Q It's come to my attention that there's been requests -- this is a serious question -- to turn these TVs onto a station other than Fox, and that those have been denied. My question would be, is there a White House policy that all government TVs have to be tuned to Fox?

MR. McCLELLAN: Never heard of any such thing. My TVs are on four different channels at all times.

Q Because you have four different TVs. But every time I've ever been --

MR. McCLELLAN: Every TV in the White House also has channels every -- has a split screen, where they can --

Q Well, they always seem to be tuned to Fox, and there's been requests, and these are paid for by taxpayer dollars. And my understanding is that you guys have to watch Fox on Air Force One. Is that true?

MR. McCLELLAN: First time I've ever heard of it. First time you've brought it to my attention, meaning the first time the press corps has brought it to my attention. In fact, I've watched other channels on here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Angry Unitarian Universalist comments

You should get a life and stop stalking this board! How do you even know that they are not involved with the divestment campaign already? If you have something to say, try to find a positive way to say it!

A comment in response to my comment on the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's blog,

You should get on board with the Sudan divestment campaign.

I don't know if the responder was a UU or not. They were anonymous. The anger obvious and strange.

DePaul's strange priorities

Hat tip to Marathon Pundit for this one.
Although it's a struggle to find any university recognition of it, Todd Beamer, the passenger on doomed Flight 93 who yelled out the call, "Let's roll," was a DePaul University alumnus.

DePaul paid Ward Churchill, who called the World Trade Center victims "Little Eichmanns," an estimated $5,000 to speak there last fall.

DePaul's complete acknoledgement of Beamer's sacrifice, as far as I know, consisted of his picture being placed in a 2002 DePaul graduation program.

Strange priorities at DePaul.
I'm DePaul Grad School of Biz MBA (79)... what's taken over the place is beyond belief.

people whom we are encouraged to loathe, encouraged to hate and who, ultimately, are just figureheads

The Independent's (publishers of Extra) Middle East Correspondent Tony Fisk interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Lateline about the Zarqawi video.

Read the whole thing but here's a clip. Via NormsBlog and Tim Blair

TONY JONES: You also thought he was a creature invented to fill the narrative gaps. In other words, a creature created, in a sense, by American propaganda. He's much more than that; isn't that evident from this video?

ROBERT FISK: Yeah. It is pretty clear. He does exist. He is still alive and that was him on the video. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I watched it several times over and am clearly of the mind that this is the man. What we do need to know, of course, is whether he has actually any real status over and above being a name al-Zarqawi. In other words, does he actually have any real status as a militant, as a resistant, as a rebel, whatever you like to use the word, terrorist, other than just being a person who is to be hated and to be bestialised in front of the television screens. The issue really is, I think, is this a person who is seriously an enemy of the "West" or is this just another person who is popping up on our screens to say this is the latest mad lunatic, the latest fanatic, the latest terrorist whom we have to be concerned about? That is the real issue, you see. Over and over again we've had this system where whereby we've had Ayatollah Khomeini and Gaddafi in Libya. We've had these extraordinary figures in the Middle East, like Nasser, for example, in Egypt in 1956 and people whom we are encouraged to loathe, encouraged to hate and who, ultimately, are just figureheads, who in the end are people who we just are encouraged to loathe, encouraged to hate. People who, at the end of the day, are not per se people who we need to worry about, people who, indeed --

TONY JONES: Robert Fisk, can I interrupt you there?

ROBERT FISK: Yeah, yeah.

TONY JONES: I'm surprised to hear you say some of these things because isn't it he himself who put these images on the Internet, including make a beast of himself by earlier putting on the Internet images of him with a mask on beheading Nicholas Berg, for example?

ROBERT FISK: Well, no. I mean, we don't know that that was Zarqawi. If indeed it was, then he is obviously the monstrous figure we make him out to be. At that time you'll remember the Americans said they believed the voice was that of Zarqawi, but we didn't have any evidence of the voice on the tape. You know, the issue is, are we in fact creating these creatures for ourselves to hate or are they creating themselves? In other words, are we being promoted by these people? Are these people being put before us as caricatures, if you like, to hate or are they people who are there to be hated by us in order to make the, you know, them and us, evil/good caricatures, which George W. Bush has laid out before us?

My Blog in Italian

I saw someone reading it in Italian.

Amazing we can do that...right out of Star Trek with those universal translators.

Why is Intelligent Design never a problem in Physics class?

The wag in me thinks it's because those obsessed with the ID debate never made the calculus requirement for phyisics. Embracing limits and infinity seemed a leap of faith to me. I stumbled with it.

I missed this last night on Milt but file it away here to later read the book.

Of the universe, British scientist James Jeans once said that it “begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.” Even as scientists probe the innermost depths of the universe and come ever closer to explaining its origins, much of cosmology remains a dark mystery. We once again look to the sky and attempt to explain how and why we are here with JOEL PRIMACK, professor of physics at the University of California Santa Cruz, and his wife, NANCY ABRAMS, a lawyer and former Fulbright scholar. Together they have written a fascinating new book The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos, which not only explores recent cosmological findings, but also discusses their philosophical implications.

The latest Al-Zarqawi video: apostate lackeys, Rafidite Shi'ites, secular pro-Zionist Kurds and false Sunnis

We're told we're just creating more terrorists in Iraq but it's interesting how much time Al-Zarqawi spent talking about all the Muslims allied with us in Iraq on this latest video.
Today you [the coalition] are using any ploy or method to bring together the rivals, your companions and partners, the apostate lackeys, in order to create a deformed government, in the hope that it will rescue you from the severe and embarrassing crisis you face with your people and your supporters. We, in turn, believe that any government established in Iraq today, whoever its leaders may be - the hatred-filled Rafidite Shi'ites, the secular pro-Zionist Kurds, or the collaborators who are falsely considered to be Sunnis - will be a collaborating government supporting the Crusaders, which was established to serve as a poisoned dagger in the heart of the Islamic nation.
Maybe it's working if Zarqawi feels the need to talk about it so.

Rumsfeld: tell them it is victory. Unapologetic and unyielding victory.

Long clip from a good speech.

Troop Talk at The National Training Center
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Fort Irwin, California, Monday, August 29, 2005.


You know it’s worth noting that there seems to be some confusion and misunderstanding, at least in certain circles in the United States, about America’s place in the world, about the nature of this Global War on Terror that our country is fighting today.

When you consider some of the things that we’ve been hearing, it suggests that we may have arrived at a rather unusual place:

--A place where, in some cases, U.S. military action in response to a terrorist attack seems as likely to be called “inhumane” as the terrorist attacks against innocent men, women and children;

--Where some devote -- I’ve seen some papers that have devoted five to ten times as many editorials to illegal mistreatment of prisoners by a few, actual and alleged, than to the terrorists’ beheading of innocent citizens;

--Where tens of thousands of Iraqi corpses are found in Saddam Hussein’s mass graves in Iraq, yet a prominent political figure in Washington says that Saddam’s torture chambers have been reopened under new management;

--Where polls showing concern with the war’s progress are given frequent press mention, but polls showing growing Muslim support for democracy and growing rejection of extremism and terrorism are given at best only passing reference;

--Where some folks, with an indignation, inaccurately allege that American troops are killing innocent civilians, and flushing a Koran down a toilet -- which didn’t happen -- but shy away from using the word “terrorist” because of its pejorative connotations.

And then there are the anxious assertions that we have recently heard in Washington:

--We’re losing the Iraq War, they say;

--That we should withdraw precipitously; and

--That the situation is worse than Vietnam.

This same kind of talk was prevalent throughout the Cold War. We were told we couldn’t confront the Soviet Empire successfully, we were told we couldn’t win, we were told that maybe America, not the Soviet Union, was the real problem.

It seems to me that, that kind of thinking needs to be challenged, it needs to be raised, and talked about and discussed. So let’s be clear:

The United States is not losing the war -- the global war against terrorists -- nor are we losing the war in Afghanistan or Iraq;

We must not -- and we will not -- retreat.

The challenge we face is clear, but admittedly difficult: If our enemies obtain the even more lethal weapons that they seek, this war could well escalate to considerably larger numbers than the casualties we saw on September 11th.

It’s time that we remind the world what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. They need to remember who we are -- the United States of America -- and who we are not:

That our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have defended generations of Americans from the deadly designs of dictators, terrorists, fascists, Nazis, and Communists, and that they’re doing so today, and that they will be doing so as long as there is an America.

There are some who are asking why America is fighting this war half a world away, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Tell them it’s because you are standing on the front lines to protect and safeguard their freedoms.

Tell them that America is not what’s wrong with the world. It is the terrorists, the beheaders, the hostage takers, the assassins -- the people being pursued and fought every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere -- they are what’s wrong with the world.

Some may ask what are goal is, what our mission is.

Tell them the mission is not to think it is possible to only defend, to cower behind illusory defenses. Or to wait for danger to return to our shores. Your mission is to go on offense. To go on the attack.

And that is exactly what the U.S. and Coalition forces are doing in Afghanistan and in Iraq: they are engaging the terrorists where they live for the simple reason that we do not have to deal with them where Americans live.

Some may ask specifically what our goal is in this war.

Well, you can tell them it is victory. Unapologetic and unyielding victory.

And we can tell them one more thing. That Americans know and appreciate the cost of war, its pain, that every loss of life, every wounded soldier, weighs on our souls and in our hearts. That we value human life, that we’re proud that we value human life, and we do not consider that a weakness. Indeed we consider it a strength.

You might remind them of what one sailor wrote to his son upon hearing of the Japanese surrender which ended World War II, some 60 years ago this month. He wrote:

“When you grow a little older, you may think war to be a great adventure.

Take it from me -- it’s the most horrible thing ever done by man.”

And it is. And that’s why it will always and must be always, the last choice.

But today, as in World War II, America confronts a lethal enemy as the only means to secure our freedom and peace. Americans fight today so that their children and their children’s children might have those same freedoms that we have all been privileged to enjoy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Behind the enemy powers: the Jew

Harry's place on the cover of the UK's magazine Extra and their cover story on the United States of Israel by Robert Fisk.

Harry scanned the cover,



And reminds us of some earlier similar posters,



Check is link for posters from the years in between then and now. Little changes... it's always Hinter den Feinmaechten: Der Jude.

Evangelicals and Religious Liberals will unite?

Over Romney maybe?

per Novak:
The U.S. Constitution prohibits a religious test for public office, but that is precisely what is being posed now. Prominent, respectable Evangelical Christians have told me, not for quotation, that millions of their co-religionists cannot and will not vote for Romney for president solely because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Romney is nominated and their abstention results in the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's just too bad. The Evangelicals are adamant, saying there is no way Romney can win them over.
More....
Romney wisely has no intention of lecturing America on Mormon theology. Rather, he cites the 1838 speech in Springfield, Ill., by the young Abraham Lincoln, in which he said, "let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation." In other words, religion should not make that much difference in America.

The Clinton Generals

I'm always amazed those who complained about Halliburton were so clueless about what Rumsfeld was cleaning up from the start over at the Pentagon. A good analysis by Larry Stirling here.

I used to see Grace Hopper by the way, getting donuts in the Pentagon concourse every morning. I wanted to ask her to sign my COBOL book but was too embarrased to ask a flag officer for that. I'm sure she would have though.

Also check The Generals and CDIon the Center for Defense Information (CDI) and their role in the General's revolt.

Here's from Stirling
Billy Mitchell knew the value of air power and fought for it; ditto Hyman Rickover, who successfully brought about our nuclear Navy; George Patton, the tank corps; and Adm. Grace Hopper, who brought computers into the military.

Not so any of these guys. They waited until they were in the safety of retirement before mouthing any opinion.

They should have heeded the old saw that says: "Better to remain quiet and let people think you don't know what is going on instead of talking and confirming it."

The problem with militaries is that they become, in part, conduits of money expropriated from the American public in the name of national defense and then funneled into useless pork-barrel projects as nothing more than huge public subsidies to some senior congressman's constituency.

The "battleship admirals" that objected to Billy Mitchell's airplanes were fronting for the battleship contractors and all their employees back at the shipyards.

The modern-day version of this is Donald Rumsfeld, himself a combat veteran, confronting an entrenched military establishment of which nearly four-fifths of the active team is non-combatant.

One of his first actions was to cancel the development the huge Crusader artillery system that was no longer relevant to the asymmetrical warfare America is facing. Of course, that ticked off all the guys on the Crusader gravy train.

Civilians must control the military or we will find ourselves flirting with a military "party" of which these generals are the seed corn.

Vietnam 2006

A friend sends this picture. She's writing some stories about her trip and when they're published I'll link them.

Theresa Carter: Mugged In Chicago - A Love Letter (of sorts) to the Windy City

Theresa writes,
I was mugged/attacked on April 15 in Chicago and have been chronicling my experience in my blog. I’m trying to get the word out to help others avoid this painful experience. Would you be willing to post an excerpt and a link? Here are two potential excerpts, but please use whatever you think is appropriate for your readers:

"I left shortly after 2am to catch a cab back home. Alone. Yes, I know, that was my first mistake. My second was that I'm impatient. I don't like standing around waiting for a cab. So instead of going back into the bar and calling for one, or waiting in front of the bar, I started walking down Diversey.

Now don't for one second think that I am blaming myself in any way, shape, or form for what happened that evening. The fact that I was a woman walking alone on a Chicago street late at night did not justify the brutality that ensued."

"Writing about my experience is, admittedly, an exercise for the internal. It may not be bringing those memories to the surface, but it is providing an outlet for my frustration, fear, anger, hope, and thankfulness. This afternoon a friend of mine told me he'd called his 24-year-old sister in Princeton, NJ. He told her to read my blog. She called him back and said she would never, ever leave a bar alone again."

The blog is located at http://www.thelocaltourist.com/blog.htm.
cross posted at Illinoiz

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

confessions of three apostates

Execution video via The Jawa Report,

Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where is the U.N. investigation?

Molly Ivins on the Israel Lobby

Ivins writes,
It seems to me the root of the difficulty has been Israel's inability first to admit the Palestinians have been treated unfairly and, second, to figure out what to do about it. Now here goes a big fat generalization, but I think many Jews are so accustomed (by reality) to thinking of themselves as victims, it is especially difficult for them to admit they have victimized others.
When the sucide bombings stop and another Sadat can step forwards from among the Arabs, maybe then the Israelis can start thinking about mistreatment of anyone. They'd be fools to tear down the wall between them and the PA before that.

Jews aren't victims, but they will be if they're foolish enough to think they're the root.

CBS's Dick Meyer on the Liberal Impulse

A lot can happen between now and November, but I think Meyer's will be proven right here,
November will be the last time that voters can punish George Bush and I expect they will. I think that, however, is close to the limit of Democratic hopes for the medium-term future. Their progress will be determined by Republican regress.

My hunch is that Democrats will capture House and Senate seats but not the House or Senate. And if they do, the victory will be fleeting and they will do poorly in 2008.
And...
...a defining impulse or attitude of many Democrats and liberals today is that Americans, because of evil manipulations by Republicans, do not know what is best for them and the party's job is to show them the light.

That is a temperament, and one which is not easily discernible in policy papers and campaign platforms. But voters can smell it a mile away. And lately, they think it stinks.

Betty Loren-Maltese: A Stand Up Woman

From today's Trib,
"What I didn't expect was so many damn strip searches," she said. "I've had my clothes off more now than I did in my entire sex life. I told one officer patting me down, `If you do that any more, we'll have to get married.'"
Sometimes I wander over to the Pioneer Tap in Forest Park.

I told a lawyer buddy of mine there once I liked Loren-Maltese because she walked proud through that lobby in the Federal Buidling during her trial. Never any of this hat-over-the-face-stuff.

He told me, yeah, she's a real stand-up woman.

Divestment and Sudan; and the Rwanda Generation- something for the UU Service Commitee

from Norm, about the Sudan divestment campaign.
Why have US students responded so strongly to Sudan, when closer-to-home issues like the Iraq War and cuts in financial aid have failed to produce mass movements on campus? "This is the Rwanda generation," says [Samantha]Power. "The foundational moral learning experience for these students was Rwanda - they don't understand how they could have been alive while it happened."
The UUSC should get on board with this.

When the yield curve flips, I'll be watching you

Friend on the Hill writes,
This is fabulous. I’m not attaching the file because it must be gigendous, and you probably only want to open the link if you have a DSL or T1, and you’ll need Real Player. It’s worth it though
Here it is. It's hysterical.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Helping Judy Baar-Topinka stand by her man on the Jim Leach show

A comment by Greg showing Judy Baar-Topinka how to answer the question: Is President Bush taking the country in the right direction?
Jim, how hard could it be???

"55% of Americans believe they are better off than they were four years ago. The President is well liked personally (last I saw it was like 57%) and consumer confidence is high in the country," said Topinka while defending the President on the Jim Leach show on Monday. "I know there is a lot of anxiety over Iraq, gas prices and other issues such as Iran and we see that reflected in the President's job approval rating. I believe with the changes at the WH, the improving political situation in Iraq, the fewer casulties and the President showing leadership on gasoline prices by easing regulations and other measures, we'll see the President begin to shore up his job approval numbers," she continued.

I whipped up that answer in about thirty seconds. An answer like that shows loyalty, honesty, deftness, and optimism. And oh yeah, one area where the President is getting high marks in polling, is the immigration issue.

cross posted at Illinoiz

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Phones for Iraq Appeal

Found at Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War,
Via Normblog,comes this appeal from the TUC for donations of second hand mobile phones to unions in Iraq:

TUC General Councillor Sue Rogers, Chair of the TUC Iraq Solidarity Committee, said: 'Rather than throwing your old mobile phone out, put it to good use rebuilding trade unionism in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Their need is great, and this would be such a small effort, but a big contribution.'Old mobile phones (and their chargers, of course) should be sent to the TUC Aid for Iraq appeal at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS.

Tiger Hawk: Bin Laden changes the subject

Tiger Hawk's thoughts on why Al-Turabi (the apostate?) has taken front stage from Iraq.
Al Qaeda drew a line in the sands of the Sunni Triangle, and the United States Army and Marines walked right across it. First, al Qaeda tried to kill Americans, per bin Laden's orders. It largely failed. Then al Qaeda went after America's allies, and succeeded only in turning public opinion against itself in every Muslim country it attacked. After thirty months of battlefield defeats and political embarrassments, bin Laden won't even mention Iraq in one of his rare public utterances, and he rallies his troops to fight a war where American soldiers aren't. How humiliating. How delightful.

Al Qaeda has lost in Iraq, and bin Laden is desperate to change the subject. He and his organization are at grave risk of being discredited, and when that happens it will be much harder for al Qaeda to attract recruits, raise money, or deal with governments.

Web of Leaks

Right Wing Nut House finds a blog devoted to CIA leaks.

Inellectual isolation and the curse of bad ideas

From Jonathan Rauch's In Arabic, 'Internet' Means 'Freedom' found at Middle East Transparent.

Odd though it may sound, somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic-language Web site, called LampofLiberty.org -- MisbahAlHurriyya.org in Arabic -- can change the world by publishing liberal classics
[***]
Intellectual isolation is a widespread Arab phenomenon, not just an Iraqi one. Some of the statistics are startling. According to the United Nations' 2003 "Arab Human Development Report," five times more books are translated annually into Greek, a language spoken by just 11 million people, than into Arabic. "No more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire past millennium," says the U.N., "equivalent to the number translated into Spanish each year." Authors and publishers must cope with the whims of 22 Arab censors. "As a result," writes a contributor to the report, "books do not move easily through their natural markets." Newspapers are a fifth as common as in the non-Arab developed world; computers, a fourth as common. "Most media institutions in Arab countries remain state-owned," the report says.

No wonder the Arab world and Western-style modernity have collided with a shock. They are virtually strangers, 300 years after the Enlightenment and 200 years after the Industrial Revolution. Much as other regions may be cursed with disease or scarcity, in recent decades the Arab world has been singularly cursed with bad ideas. First came Marxism and its offshoots; then the fascistic nationalism of Nasserism and Baathism; now, radical Islamism. Diverse as those ideologies are, they have in common authoritarianism and the suppression of any true private sphere. Instead of withering as they have done in open competition with liberalism, they flourished in the Arab world's relative isolation.
Here is the result and in English.

Bin Laden, Darfur, and Al-Turabi's interview on Al-Arabiya

Bin Laden's telling Jihadists,
"I call on mujahedeen and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arab peninsula, to prepare for long war again the crusader plunderers in Western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but to defend Islam, its land and its people," bin Laden purportedly said.

"I urge holy warriors to be acquainted with the land and the tribes in Darfur."
And I'm still trying to sort out Al-Turabi's interview with Al-Arabiya
"Reform Can't Emerge From Wretchedness, Fear, and Conservatism"; "Our Faith Will Become Stronger if We Go to the West"

Hassan Al-Turabi:
"Brother, our society needs to be reformed, and reform cannot emerge out of wretchedness, fear, and conservatism. What are we conserving? This backwardness? The Westerners ride our backs with their armies, with their economy, their media, and their science, and we just sit there being conservative? What are we conserving? By Allah, our faith will become stronger if we go to the countries of the West. Our faith will only grow. My faith grew stronger in Europe, in France, in Britain. My faith grew stronger, and so did my knowledge, Allah be praised."
Update: also check Inayat Bunglawala over at Comment is Free: Sudan Spring.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Flopping Aces on the CIA leak

The Ace quotes an earlier Weekly Standard article on the CIA's war on Bush. It is one of the oddest stories of this administration. Really odd that it's taken Bush this long to crack down on behavior that would never be tolerated at a civilian agency.

Flopping Ace has lots of links and background. Here's from the Weekly Standard,

“The CIA’s war against the Bush administration is one of the great untold stories of the past three years. It is, perhaps, the agency’s most successful covert action of recent times. The CIA has used its budget to fund criticism of the administration by former Democratic officeholders. The agency allowed an employee, Michael Scheuer, to publish and promote a book containing classified information, as long as, in Scheuer’s words, “the book was being used to bash the president.” However, the agency’s preferred weapon has been the leak. In one leak after another, generally to the New York Times or the Washington Post, CIA officials have sought to undermine America’s foreign policy. Usually this is done by leaking reports or memos critical of administration policies or skeptical of their prospects. Through it all, our principal news outlets, which share the agency’s agenda and profit from its torrent of leaks, have maintained a discreet silence about what should be a major scandal.”

Culture of Corruption Watch: Rep Mollohan steps down from ethics

via CNN
The Wall Street Journal reported two weeks ago that Mollohan steered millions of dollars to nonprofit groups in his district -- with much of the money going to organizations run by people who contribute to the lawmaker's campaigns.

Also, a conservative group filed a complaint with federal prosecutors this year questioning whether Mollohan correctly reported his assets on financial disclosure forms.

While Mollohan's troubles threaten to become a major campaign problem for Democrats, Pelosi, of California, said in a statement that Mollohan decided on his own to step down and that she accepted his decision.
On his own...on his own...

Bill Page: Good Friday or "Coincidence Friday"?

Bill Page writing in the Kane County Chronicle,
Were your kids' schools closed on Good Friday? Mine too. Only no one called it Good Friday, of course. Not when there are perfectly good euphemisms at hand.

Look, I'm not a religious guy by any stretch, but I acknowledge Easter is of paramount importance to many religions. Good Friday is part of the observance, and many people take a little extra time on that day to reflect on what they feel is the meaning of the season. It's been that way for centuries, and is the reason many people take the day off, and why many schools are closed.

That would be the real reason my kids' school was closed, but of course we can't say that. Nope, it wasn't Good Friday that shut the schoolhouse door. It was "School Improvement Planning Day."

Or, as I like to call it "Coincidence Friday."
It was that way before Christ too. It's so strange secularism means forsaking history and heritage. and creating euphemisms for ancient rituals.

What extremists are saying

CENTCOM keeps a running translation of Jihadist internet postings here.

Bill Kristol on Euston Manifesto

"WHO TODAY IS CALLED a liberal for strength and confidence in defense of liberty?" Harvey Mansfield asked this question almost 30 years ago in the preface to his Spirit of Liberalism, and the answer was almost self-evident. This was during the Carter administration, and things haven't gotten better since. There have been some exceptions to the rule of liberalism's weakness, but these exceptions have been fleeting, and the rule seems stronger than ever in the America of 2006.

Not so in Great Britain. There, Tony Blair has shown strength and confidence in defense of liberty, and it turns out he is not alone. A couple of weeks ago, a group of "democrats and progressives" released the "Euston Manifesto" (eustonmanifesto.org) proposing to draw a line between a soft and relativist left and the strong and confident democratic left that the signers seek to invigorate.
Bill Kristor writing on The Euston Manifesto in The Weekly Standard as A Few Good Liberals.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gay Patriot on the ultimate self-loathing gays

Gay Patriot on today's report on executions of gay and bisexual men in Iran,

I must say it is still shocking to me that the American Gay Left views President Bush of more of an enemy to gays than Islamic fundamentalists who want to destroy Western Civilization with gays as the first in their crosshairs. Maybe American gay activists are so upset that Christianity is the foundation of America that they are willing to take their chances with Islamic rule? How tolerant, no? What it really makes me think is this: Choosing Islam over America in the War on Terror is the ultimate in being a gay who is self-loathing.

Hiltzik's Blog's split personality disorder

Kind of weird. From Howard Kurtz's story quoted in the link,
The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper’s policy by posting derogatory comments under an assumed name.

The paper said in an online editor’s note that Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winner who writes the Golden State column, had admitted posting remarks on both his Times blog and on other Web sites under names other than his own. The Times said it is investigating the matter. Editor Dean Baquet declined comment, and Hiltzik said he could not comment.

The deceptive postings grew out of a running feud between Hiltzik and conservative bloggers in Southern California. One is Hugh Hewitt, a radio talk show host and blogger. The other is an assistant Los Angeles district attorney named Patrick Frey, who maintains a blog under the name Patterico’s Pontifications.

Lets Kick Racism Out of Football

Put's the Dubai port deal in a different light for me. Via Engage,

West Ham United has two Israeli players. When West Ham took their team for a few days relaxation and training in the desert sun of Dubai, they sent their two Israelis off to Spain for a break. Israelis, you see, are not welcome in the United Arab Emirates. Bolton Wanderers left their Israeli player at home when they visited Dubai earlier in the season.

There is nothing new about sports teams bowing to the racist policies of states that they visit. The USA olympic team left a number of Jews at home when they visited Berlin in 1936.

Report from Labour Friends of Iraq delegations visit to Iraq

Iraq may be on the knife edge of full-scale civil war but there is another Iraq and a non-sectarian future through its growing labour movement.

A million trade unionists are on the march throughout Iraq. A network of non-sectarian union federations, professional associations and civil society groups has emerged in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

They could hold the key to uniting the country in peace and prosperity but only if the federal government's repressive efforts to ban independent activity using Saddam's anti-union laws and by seeking to create sectarian client unions is reversed.

Iraqi unions want urgent assistance to retrieve their independence and to boost their clout as a social partner in reconstructing Iraq. This is a huge task.
Read the full report here.

Mandela's Nicholas Haysom on Iraq

From Building Iraq’s tomorrow on SA’s legacy by Jonathan Katzenellenbogen via Labour Friends of Iraq. Nicholas Haysom was an advisor to Nelsen Mandela on building South Africa's constitution. Now he's working in Iraq doing the same.
Having been closely involved in drawing up SA’s constitution, Haysom is uniquely placed to show the Iraqis what was done in SA to bring about a settlement.

Last month, Iraqis from a variety of political parties visited SA to draw on lessons learned here.

“I don’t think there is ever a one-country template but there is much in the logic that can be borrowed and applied, albeit in a different way. When Sunnis came to SA they had a close look at how political enemies addressed each others’ concerns and anxieties,” says Haysom

What caught the Iraqis’ attention was the national peace accord which was signed by 26 political parties and organisations in September 1991 in the face of increasing violence. Of interest was that the accord had been able to protect the negotiations from the violence.

“It was a recognition that you have to deal with violence in a particular way, while allowing political negotiations to continue.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Howard Dean on Iraq, Immigration, and Church & State

Betsy's Page finds some curious statements here and here.

On immigration,
"The first thing we want is tough border control," he said. "We have to do a much better job on our borders than George Bush has done. And then we can go to the policy disagreements about how to get it done."

Republicans reacted with surprise to Mr. Dean's announcement, which puts the DNC chief's views at odds with those of many Democrats in Congress.

"If Dean means what he says about border enforcement, that would put the Democrats somewhere to the right of President Bush on immigration," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.

On Democrats and Iraq,
"There is a consensus that we cannot continue to have a permanent commitment to a failed strategy.... One, we are going to support our troops and two, you are going to see a ... desire to resolve the situation ... by turning this over to the Iraqis and bringing our folks home. The only thing that is left up to some modest differences is what the timetable is."
Fine, that's my positoin and Administrations too, and: Church and State,
"The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics."
A little harsh. I wasn't happy with the Unitarian Universalists coming out against Alito's nomination, but I don't think I'd take their tax exempt status away over it.

HT Powerline

Robespierre

Milt finds something in City Journal on Robespierre,
Though Nazism, Communism, various kinds of terrorism, and white, black, and yellow racism demonstrate how easily ideologies lead to inhumanity, not even irrational and immoral ideologies lead necessarily to mass murder, of course.
Ideologues must have the opportunity to act in accordance with their beliefs—opportunities that spring from the combination of deep and widespread resentment about the burden that people must bear, weak or weakening government, and no prospect of quick and substantial improvement. It was the presence of these conditions that permitted Robespierre to become the monster he was.

Castigating Robespierre more than 200 years after his death would have little point if he were not the prototype of the ideological frame of mind that is very much with us today. If we understand him, we understand that it is utterly useless to appeal to reason and morality in dealing with ideologues. For they are convinced that reason and morality are on their side and that their enemies are irrational and immoral simply because they are enemies. Negotiation with such people can succeed only if we have overwhelming force on our side and have shown ourselves unsqueamish about using it. Justifying its use to the electorate of a democratic country—used to thinking of politics as a process of reasonable negotiation and compromise—must involve showing in sickening detail the monstrosities committed in the name of the ideology. And that is the point of reminding ourselves of the crimes of the long-dead Robespierre.

Novak talks about Plame and Fitzgerald

Sun-Times and the University of Illinois at Chicago held a forum. Wish I could have been there. Carol Marin asked Novak about Plamegate.

Here's some of what he said. Sounds like he sang for Fitzgerald.
Robert Novak said Wednesday that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald knows who outed a CIA agent to the Chicago Sun-Times columnist but hasn't acted on the
information because Novak's source committed no crime.

Novak also hinted that he personally didn't rely on the Fifth Amendment -- which protects people from testifying against themselves -- in Fitzgerald's investigation. Fitzgerald is investigating who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to Novak and other reporters in an effort to discredit her husband, a critic of the Bush administration.
[***]
Still, he did say, "If I had gone before a grand jury and taken the Fifth Amendment, Mr. Fitzgerald would have that on the street in about two minutes."

Novak also claimed that investigators know who leaked the information, although he did not say how they know.

"The question is, does Mr. Fitzgerald know who the source was?" Novak asked. "Of course. He's known for years who the first source is. If he knows the source, why didn't he indict him? Because no crime was committed."

Novak said he doesn't believe his source violated laws forbidding the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined to comment on Novak's remarks.

Execute Moussaoui?

Siclian Notes says so.

I think not.

Moussaui an enemy combatant. He waged war on the United States and plotted terror attacks on civilians. He waged war out of uniform, and beyond the rules-of-war with deliberate terrorism of non-combatants.

I would not have tried him in a civilian court though. He should have been sent to Gitmo along with the 20th hijacker, Muhammed al-Qahtani, and sat it out for the duration of this conflict. We can try him later as a war-criminal.

But I think it was wrong to try him in a civilian court.

Who will be the Admiral Byng of the Iraq conflict?


asks and links two good articles in FT on Rumsfeld and the Generals. Adm. Byng the poor fellow depicted above. Reminds me of so many IT projects I've worked on in the past.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Protesters Picket Suburban Soldier's Funeral

Another visit from Rev Phelps. At least counter protestors show up now at the family's invitation.

Euston Manifesto signer: David Miller

David Miller - I was born into a Jewish-socialist family where beliefs in the rights of the poor and the oppressed were strongly held. My father (Maurice S Miller MP) worked hard to bring both social and medical justice to his constituents and others whom he was empowered to help, regardless of their religion and ethnicity.

However, he warned me that values and ideologies wholly incompatible with a democratic socialist tradition were gaining ground and that the Left was descending into a quagmire of self doubt and uncertainty that would crystallise into general irrationality and a visceral hatred of Israel and the US in particular.

How right he was; and so I welcome the opportunity to sign up to this manifesto and I take solace in the knowledge that I am not alone in the struggle for common sense values prevailing in domestic and international affairs.

Euston Manifesto signer: Tom Head

Interesting reading are the statements of Euston Manifeston signers.

Here's Tom Head's statement,

I have felt isolated from many U.S. liberal circles in the wake of 9/11. Iam particularly offended by:

- The resurgence of the word "Zionism," and the marginally antisemitic "Israel Lobby" language that I have encountered on the far Left ;

- The sudden lack of interest in liberal circles in human rights abuses abroad, most notably the Darfur genocide ;

- A disturbingly cynical and anti-intellectual undercurrent in liberalism that rejects all self-criticism and other reflection of independent thought ;

- The bizarre doctrine of "Sovereignty," by which the Taliban was supposed to be an acceptable government, with which we should not intervene, simply because it was in control of a nation;

- The tendency of many of my fellow liberals to exploit xenophobia whenever they feel it to be in their best interests, represented most recently by some of the language that came out of the response to the Dubai port deal ;

- Senseless bigotry directed against conservative Christians and Jews, coupled with senseless fawning directed at far more conservative Muslim leaders abroad ; and

- The irrational hatred of _all_ Republicans, and the complete and ill-advised merger of liberalism and Democratic partisanship.

I wholeheartedly sign the Euston Manifesto; I am proud to do it.

Austin Bay: 'The Euston Manifesto': Principled Left Considers War on Terror

Real Clear Politics links Euston today with an essay by Austin Bay and the New Statesman article by Nick Cohen and Norm Geras.

A quote from Bay,
I see it as an unusual example of fact-based and principled discussion from the political Left. The Eustonites "reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home ... more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples."

Read that last line as saying Iraqis and Arabs can handle democracy.

The Euston Manifesto is a courageous expression of support for the "liberty" and "liberating" components of classical liberalism.

Monday, April 17, 2006

More Rumsfeld and the Generals

A good editiorial on Rumsfeld and the Generals in todays Opinion Journal,
The anti-Rumsfeld generals have a right to their opinion. But there's a reason the Founders provided for civilian control of the military, and a danger in military men using their presumed authority to push elected Administrations around. As for Democrats and their media allies, we can only admire their sudden new deference to the senior U.S. officer corps, which follows their strange new respect for the "intelligence community" they also once despised. U.S. military recruiters might not be welcome on Ivy League campuses, but they're heroes when they trash the Bush Administration.

Mr. Rumsfeld's departure has been loudly demanded in various quarters for a couple of years now, without much success, and on Friday Mr. Bush said he still has his every confidence. We suspect the President understands that most of those calling for Mr. Rumsfeld's head are really longing for his.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Kember: a Pacifist recounts liberation

Voices of tough guys sound good when they're on your side with bolt cutters and you're chained to the floor.

From The Guardian,
Later, Kember wept as he described the moment a group of 'SAS gents' came to his rescue. He had become aware of his impending freedom when he heard British special forces asking for a 'Mr Kember' moments before entering the room where he was being held.

He said: 'I was chained to the door. They said, "Oh, it's a bolt-cutter job", and they cut the padlock and released me. We had this sort of futon on the floor and we were lying there, and suddenly we heard noise outside and then somebody calling out and then the breaking of glass and then up the stairs came these SAS gents.'

Saturday, April 15, 2006

An Officer Responds To David Ignatius

A good email found by Elephants in Academia.

Falklands’ war, a crime committed by cowardly generals

NormsBlog finds that sometimes it takes a long time to admit War was the Just action to take in response to a cowardly crime of agression.

From The Guardian,
Not many people are likely to have noticed, but it is worth recording that the Argentine president, Nestor Kirchner, last week condemned the Falklands war of 1982 as an act of "cowardly aggression" by the then military dictatorship. The junta, said the centre-left president, wanted to shore up its position at home by embarking on a nationalist adventure abroad. Many Argentines, only half joking, thank Margaret Thatcher for sending the task force 8,000 miles to liberate the islands. The debacle ended the dictatorship of General Leopoldo Galtieri, discredited the military and led to the restoration of democracy after seven years. That in turn ended the terrible "dirty war" of torture, disappearances and mass murder that the country is struggling to come to terms with.

Powerline: what liberals fear most.

John Hinderacker looks at the calls for Rumsfeld's resignation. It's a view I share.

Rumsfeld told Russert March 23, 2002 the administration had taken grave responsibility before God, conscience and history and Rumsfeld ought stick it out for the judgement.

Here's Hinderacker,
When you're President, you get lots of free advice. Some of it is well-intentioned; much of it is not. Here is why I think so many liberals are anxious for President Bush to replace Rumsfeld: they have staked a great deal on the proposition that the Iraq war has not gone well, and, in fact, has been a disaster.

But they are troubled because they are not at all sure that is true. By any reasonable standard, casualties have been low and Iraq's progress toward democracy has been impressive. This doesn't mean the project couldn't still go off the rails; it clearly could. But it is also possible--likely, I think--that the Iraqis will succeed in forming a government, violence will continue to decline, our troops levels will be substantially reduced, and, in a year or two, the consensus will be that the war was pretty successful after all. This, I think, is what liberals fear most.

They want President Bush to stipulate, in effect, that the war has been poorly conducted and has been a failure. That's the way in which firing Rumsfeld would rightly be interpreted. This would largely insulate liberals against the consequences if the war does, in fact, turn out to be successful. The same logic, I think, explains why liberals are always hectoring President Bush to "admit his mistakes." What they fear, deep down, is that the President's policies haven't been mistakes at all.

But in America , a man who is not fit to run a business or a shop can tell the most powerful military machine on the planet what orders to follow...

A comment posted on Comment Free about a post on when Rumsfeld will resign.

But in America , a man who is not fit to run a business or a shop can tell the most powerful military machine on the planet what orders to follow...

It's true and the perfect example was Truman: President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, unsuccessfull farmer and failed haberdasher.

Generals had problems with that too. From PBS's American Experience,

NARRATOR: Two weeks later, Truman prepared to leave America on a mission that caught everyone by surprise. "I've a whale of a job before me," Truman wrote his cousin, "Have to talk to God's right-hand man." Truman was heading for a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific to meet with General Douglas MacArthur. The General had been making trouble for the President. MacArthur's outspoken anti-communist opinions had inflamed an already tense situation with the Chinese. Many feared MacArthur wanted to re-take the communist Chinese mainland.

LUCIUS BATTLE: MacArthur had contempt for higher authority. He was the supreme authority. That's the way he saw himself. He was not troubled by the constitutional limits upon generals. He was not troubled by any obligations he had. I'm sure he had a certain contempt for the President. I don't think there's much doubt of that.

NARRATOR: Truman had never liked MacArthur. In his diary, the President described the General as "Mr. Prima Donna, Brass Hat," a "play actor and a bunco man." "It is a very great pity we have to have stuffed shirts like that in key positions," Truman wrote.

GENERAL EDWIN SIMMONS: The men were so dissimilar. Here was this imperious figure, very much different than the midwestern common man, who was Truman.

NARRATOR: As Truman headed for Wake Island and the meeting with his domineering General, he was determined to let MacArthur know who was boss. Truman put on his best public face, but tensions ran high from the moment the President got off the plane.

GENERAL VERNON WALTERS: And as I recollect it, MacArthur shook hands with the President. He did not salute him. Which struck me, as a young officer, right away, you know, sort of odd. Many years later, I was in Independence, Missouri, and I saw Mr. Truman. And I said, Mr. President, can I ask you an indiscreet question? He said, "Walters, there are no indiscreet questions, there are only indiscreet answers, and I'm a specialist in them. Go right ahead." I said, at Wake Island, when you emerged from the airplane and started down the stairs -- and he interrupted me and he said, "Did I notice that MacArthur did not salute? You're god damn right I noticed it. And I knew I was gonna have trouble with him."

NARRATOR: In a dilapidated Chevrolet, Truman and MacArthur set off for a private meeting. With them was Truman's secret service agent Floyd Boring.

FLOYD BORING, Secret Service: Oh, man, tension? I'll say there was tension. You could-- you could almost feel it, the tension in the air.

NARRATOR: Boring overheard the President lace right into the General.

FLOYD BORING: Never said "howdy" or nothin'. The President said to him, "I'm the Commander-in-Chief," and he was mad. "I'm the Commander-in-Chief. You're just -- you're a general in the Army. Remember that. Why do you insist on goin' into China. We don't want to do that." He said, "I want you to stop it. Otherwise, you're going to be recalled. We're going to get rid of you. General MacArthur didn't say anything. Yeah. He knew the old man was mad.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Mullahs into the history books

From a Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld and Tony Snow on FOX News Radio Tuesday, April, 11, 2006.

SNOW: Is it conceivable that the people of Iran at some point are going to say you know what? We've had enough of this. We want some democracy ourselves.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it would be a wonderful thing. If you look at North and South Korea, a satellite photo of those two countries at night, and all the electricity down south and all the activity, economic activity, the 12th largest economy in the world, and up north just darkness and starvation. And they're the same people with the same resources. It says a lot about what a free political system and a free economic system can do for opportunity for human beings.

SNOW: So you do think there may be at some point - that yearning for freedom might create the kind of pressure that could lead the Mullahs into the history books?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it's possible. If you think back how rapidly Iran flipped from the Shah to the Ayatollahs, and then in reverse think of how rapidly those Eastern European countries fell after the Wall came down. And what looked like a powerful, strong government, a repressive government and a fortress that can't be breached, and then in a day people mobbed the places and the squares, public squares, and the government fell, and it all changed. So those things can happen.

SNOW: You'd certainly like it to happen, wouldn't you?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: [Laughter]. Indeed.

SNOW: Secretary Rumsfeld, in watching this press conference I half got the impression that the press wants you to go to war in Iran. What do you think?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it's fascinating. They're certainly looking for news. They're constantly trying to stir up something. Someone told me about an original article and then newspapers picking it up and then editorials kind of converting the speculation into what they purported to be reality.

SNOW: [Laughter].

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: It's amazing. It's like the Washington merry-go-round. It only takes about 24 hours for that kind of mischief to occur.

Revolt of the Admirals; Revolt of the Pensioners

The retired Generals calling for the resignation of their former boss reminded me we've been here before with the Revolt of the Admirals --sort of-- back in 1949. Wikpedia does a nice brief on the moment.

Remember disbanding the force all together seriously considered then. The only defense America needed was a nuclear threat.

It is very similar to the Muscular Isolationism we may well find Democrats advocating in 2008.

I'm not angry, I'm not furious, I'm incandescent with rage.

A comment from Sean Birnie found at Harry's Place,

I'm not angry, I'm not furious, I'm incandescent with rage.

Like all those (I suspect) who have tried to put the humanitarian case for the liberation, yes liberation, of Iraq, I have suffered abuse, ostracism and deeply hurtful accusations of Fascism. Very rarely have I been engaged in any kind of rational argument. Mention Saddam Hussein and you'll be talking about Bushitler and Bliarpoodle within 3 seconds. It doesn't just stop at abuse though, does it?

In the internationally renowned academy where I used to work here in Spain, out of 26 English teachers, 3 of us (yes as many as that!) supported the war, two American Democrats and me, then a fee-paying member of the Labour party. We bravely tried to hold our ground against the kind of poisonous diatribes with which I'm sure you are familiar. Eventually the 3 of us were taken aside, seperately, by the Principle and told to desist. The threat of dismissal was unspoken but clearly implied. We were censored.

For the next six month I had to listen to the hate filled bile of our politically correct colleagues in silence.

I left the academy and am now free-lance.

Unfortunately it doesn't stop there, week in week out I have to listen to the Jooo conspiracy theories and anti-semitic rants that are endemic in Spain. Bear in mind that I teach middle to high ranking executives from some of the world's most prestigious companies. Once I reacted and pointed out that, since the holocaust, such ideas were somewhat discredited, and that my great-grandmother had been jewish. I lost the contract. It cost me the sum total of 800 euros.

A little later in an absynthe bar in Barcelona some drunk decided to call me a fascist, we hadn't been discussing politics, it was my Englishness that he objected to. I'm 50 plus. 5 ft 6, 9 1/2 stone. I saw red and attacked physically (wild stuff absynthe), and won the fight. Let me tell you, I felt great, I felt I'd regained my cojones. Sometimes you have to stop being nice, for your own psychological health. We can't always pussy-foot around, the dangers to our liberty are too great.

schmoo 'on the run': this is london calling: 'the left' - an estate agent's report

old fashioned decor for sure...

schmoo 'on the run': this is london calling: 'the left' - an estate agent's report:

"I like fresh air, but 'the left' of which I have always felt a part, has been a filthy, unkempt and smelly place for way too long. It needs a good clear out and a total refit. The electrics are dangerous (half the lights won't switch on); the ceiling is almost falling in, and you can't see out most of the windows because the anarchists have broken them and they are just boarded up. The decor is incredibly old fashioned and the furniture is so worn out you wonder if it is safe to sit on, and there is blood on the carpets. I went in the toilets - what a state! There's more blood all over the walls and the most stupid graffiti (except for one good Banksy). And then, when I suggested doing a bit of cleaning up half the people there at the time (which was not many) said I have gone 'right wing' - how dare they! That really annoyed me - after all they are the real conservatives."

Unitarian Universalists and the Euston Manifesto

The Chalice Blog picks up on the Euston Manifesto and explains why she can't sign it.

I'm glad because it opens what I believe is the crisis among UUs as to what they believe. UU's a subset of the left's crisis of belief.

So many UUs have replaced faith with progressive politics that when progressive politics goes into crisis, it becomes a crisis of faith for them. The Manifesto becomes a Theological review for them that they ought to read if their Faith has become politics.

My Church is going through a Framing the Discussions discussion talk. We just finished the first one. Participants concerned about how to talk with the religious right, and the political right.

I suggested problems are not so much with the right as with this confusion within themselves about what they believe, and they way the go about treating folks who disagree.

I've walked into a Church Great Ideas Group Meeting by accident --I had no idea it was a meeting; I thought it was people passing time-- during a talk about America becoming a Fascist state.

I disagreed and troubled by the word Fascist as I had known camp survivors. I said I thought just the opposite about America today: George Bush was advancing Democracy and I supported him.

This brought silence and visible disgust. Then a congregant said she was tolerant of other views.

Tolerant: that was the response. I've also been told I'm a jerk, and a hack... and then UU's wonder why they have a hard time talking with people.

I can argue a case for same-sex marriage with Jill Stanek, Fran Eaton ,or Tom Roeser and always find respect from them; not toleration. They'll disagree but skip the ad hominem.

I could care less, but when these folks in turn wonder why they can't communicate with others; they need only look at themselves.

I volunteer over night at a Homeless Shelter. I stay after sometimes for the morning prayer service offered by the Christian Bikers .

UUs always leave that service. That's fine, but then they wonder why they can't dialogue with the Christian right. Well, it's because they leave. They'll complain Christ is mentioned too much, but they're is no one stopping them from offering a UU prayer either at these services. They're Bikers for Christ, not Hells Angels. They won't strong arm you.

So bottom line here, is I'm glad The Chalice Blog brought this into the UU blogoshpere and I hope it starts some reflection about just what exactly liberal and progressive means today.

Karl Rove meant to say Mahdaviat

Karl Rove said Ahmadinejad not a rational human being.

Daniel Pipes explains while Ahmaidinejad may not be rational in our sense, he's perfectly logical --and predictable-- within his own thoughts. He's a Mahdaviat,

Thanks to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a new word has entered the political vocabulary: mahdaviat.

Not surprisingly, it's a technical religious term. Mahdaviat derives from mahdi, Arabic for "rightly-guided one," a major figure in Islamic eschatology. He is, explains the Encyclopaedia of Islam, "the restorer of religion and justice who will rule before the end of the world." The concept originated in the earliest years of Islam and, over time, became particularly identified with the Shi‘ite branch. Whereas "it never became an essential part of Sunni religious doctrine," continues the encyclopedia, "Belief in the coming of the Mahdi of the Family of the Prophet became a central aspect of the faith in radical Shi‘ism," where it is also known as the return of the Twelfth Imam.

Mahdaviat means "belief in and efforts to prepare for the Mahdi."
Pipes links this story from December in the CSM that further explains what's going on inside Ahmadinejad's head.

Pipes concludes,
...most dangerous leaders in modern history are those (such as Hitler) equipped with a totalitarian ideology and a mystical belief in their own mission. Mr. Ahmadinejad fulfills both these criteria, as revealed by his U.N. comments. That combined with his expected nuclear arsenal make him an adversary who must be stopped, and urgently.
I'd add misunderstanding the United States and the American people to that mix of ideology and mystical belief.

We're a difficult people to fathom. We're reluctant to fight, and will debate it bitterly. That can be misunderstood a pacifism and weakness. Once resolved though we can respond fearsomely.

Democrats tell us Bush has cost us the world's support, but I'm far more concerned the world clearly understands what the United States will do. The resolve far easier to see with Bush then it would have been with Kerry.

I'm just not sure Ahmadinejad isn't so far in the mystical clouds that it's too late.

The Flight 93 Film

I won't see it. Libertas reviews it here. The politics of the film not important. It's just too emotional for me.

I won't visit the site in NYC either. I was walking around midtown Manhatten one warm summer evening and stopped by an open fire station door and looked at their memorial. All I could do was shake the fireman's hand. I couldn't speak.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Just another hypocritical hebe

Read some the posts against the Euston Manifesto and you appreciate the sad state of today's left.
Just another hypocritical hebe who adheres to one standard for his own kith and kin and one for the rest of the humanity.

Sorry Mike, but I would never have anything to do with any of these people for all the money in the world. There's not enough soap and water in the world to wash my hands of their filth.
History Mike's Musings getting some of it.

Le manifeste d'Euston

Un Swissroll,
La gauche internationaliste et démocratique, celle pour qui l'universalité des droits de l'homme n'est pas un vain mot et qui refuse l'antiaméricanisme, a désormais son manifeste et sa structure: elle vise à sortir des quelques blogs qui aujourd'hui en sont l'expression pour s'organiser et mener plus largement le combat des idées. C'est le Manifeste d'Euston, qui a son propre site, très complet, et que Norman Geras et Nick Cohen présentent dans l'hebdomadaire de gauche The New Stateman. J'y adhère et ne peux qu'encourager les lecteurs de ce blog qui se reconnaissent dans la gauche (ou ne s'y reconnaissaient plus!) à s'y intéresser.
[I'll have daughter number two translate tonight.]

Young, Educated and Liberal Democrat on the Euston Manifesto

Young, Educated and Liberal
Democrat
I signed up to the recently set up Euston Manifesto. Because I believe this is the right way forward. I implore you to sign up to.

Assistant Village Idiot: Good News From the Left

The idiot speculating on what Euston Manifesto signers will call themselves,
Assistant Village Idiot: Good News From the Left I wonder what they will call themselves? 'Neo-liberals' has a nice symmetry in today's political landscape, though they might prefer something more distinctive. If they go the Neoliberal route, they will have about a 30% philosophical overlap with the neocons. Over time, that overlap might increase, and they'd all just be 'Neo's.' As it would be mostly superannuated Boomers who have grown cynical about many things, the name would be more than a little ironic. No problem. Irony has always been very hip with us.

Harry's Place on the Euston Manifesto: never compromise with the enemies of freedom

Harry gives his view about the battle within the left,
But the biggest battle of all is one that is decades old – it is the struggle within the left to ensure that our support for the forward march of liberty is never compromised by alliances with enemies of freedom. It is about a world view that sees democratic-socialism as a tautology because there is no socialism without democracy, because socialism, if it means anything at all, is about the expansion of existing liberties and not the negation of them. It is the struggle to ensure that the left’s commitment to social justice is matched by a determination to always be on the side of those who have no voice.

It is decades old because once that division was reflected in attitudes towards communist regimes. If once the question was are you with the Hungarian or Czech revolutionaries or the Soviet tanks which crush them - now it is about being, without any fear or apology, on the side of the student in Iran not the thugs who beat her. It is about solidarity with trade unionists in Iraq not their murderers, with the human rights activist in Belarussia and not the dictator they oppose, with the cartoonist in Copenhagen and not those who issue him with death threats, with the democracy campaigners in China and not the oligarchs who jail them, with the poor in Zimbawbe and not the gangsters who force misery upon them, with the dissidents in Muslim communities not those who would silence them.

Wade Zirkle: Troops in Support Of the War

Writing in Today's Washington Post on a town hall meeting sponsered ...Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), with the participation of such antiwar organizations as CodePink and MoveOn.org. The event also featured Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.),
The tenor of the town meeting was mostly what one might expect, but during the question-and-answer period, a veteran injured in Afghanistan stood up to offer his view. "If I didn't have a herniated disc, I would volunteer to go to Iraq in a second with my troops," said Mark Seavey, a former Army sergeant who had recently returned from Afghanistan. "I know you keep saying how you have talked to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characterization. The morale of the troops I talk to is phenomenal, which is why my troops are volunteering to go back despite the hardships. . . ."

"And, Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just arrived back from Afghanistan -- we never got a letter, we never got a visit from you, you didn't come to our homecoming. The only thing we got was a letter from the governor of this state thanking us for our service in Iraq, when we were in Afghanistan. That's reprehensible. I don't know who you two are talking to, but the morale of the troops is very high."

What was the response? Murtha said nothing, while Moran attempted to move on, no pun intended, stating: "That wasn't in the form of a question, it was a statement."
Michelle Malkin has the video here. Powerful stuff and Moran never even thanked Seavey for his service.

David Corn: 2008 Looking Like 1968

Maybe David Corn reads my blog. I've been saying it a while now here, here, and again here.
There are, obviously, distinctions between 1968 and now. Hillary Clinton is not a commander-in-chief in charge of a tragic war (or the No. 2). There is yet no sizeable antiwar movement, as there was in 1968, for Feingold to use as a base. Edwards is not the vacillator that Kennedy was—although like Kennedy, he does raise poverty as an issue. But it sure seems possible that the Iraq war—if Bush does not achieve his complete victory there in the next two years—has the potential to dominate the Democratic contest and to split the party, as the Vietnam war did in 1968.

For now, the party is repressing those potential differences. Look at the Democrats’ recently released "Real Security" platform. Iraq is covered on page three of the three-page statement. And the plan offers little: "ensure" 2006 is a year of "significant transition" to full Iraqi sovereignty and of "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces"; "insist" that Iraqis make political compromises to unite their country and defeat the insurgency; "strongly encourage" allies and other nations to play a "constructive role." That's not much. The plan says nothing about what should be done if the problem in Iraq is not a self-contained insurgency but a civil war—or something close to it. Should the United States keep 130,000 troops in the middle of a sectarian conflict? Should it pick a side?

Clinton is straddling, not leading, and much of the leadership of her party is essentially doing the same. That might help Democrats in the coming congressional elections by providing on-the-ropes Republicans with little to attack. Then again, it might not. But the conflicts and dilemmas posed by the Iraq war will probably persist. If so, Democrats could find that their biggest challenge is not the Republicans but themselves.
Update: and 263 comments on it so far at his blog.

A.E.Brain on the Euston Manifesto: I've signed up, anyway. I could do no other

Blog's talking about the Euston Manifesto:

Brainster's Blog on a Sensible Left.
It certainly seems to me that most of the Left in the United States has lost its moorings. With some rare exceptions, they have decided to support a murderous band of thugs. Very few of them have any desire for success in Iraq; their notion appears to be that if Iraq works out well, it will help the neocons. So they'd rather see Iraq in flames.
A Little Polite Music explains why s/he signed,
I wrote this post was to set straight in my own mind quite what the Manifesto was manifesting, so to speak. I find so little here to argue with and so much with which to agree that I will sign and offer what help I can. I have been troubled for a long time by the way in which those of us on the progressive left, should we disagree with our supposedly social democratic government, have had nowhere else to turn within the mainstream of UK politics. Hopefully this new alliance will provide a hothouse of ideas which can reach out to affect not just those to whom their truths are self-evident, but also create an intellectual background to inform the ongoing struggle to bring progressive democracy to all nations and cultures, including our own.
Sicilian Notes, who didn't sign and I think because he's Irish but I'm from Chicago and it didn't stop me.

City of Brass thought it ported though and wrote,
It is the new American majority - it is Purple Politics. It is universal in a way that being just a Democrat or just a Republican can not be. It is a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
And finally A.E.Brain writes the title I'll use for this post,
I have minor quibbles. And I'm loath to adopt the word "progressive" to my own beliefs, for that label has been tainted irredeemably in my eyes. Nonetheless, I have fewer quibbles with this manifesto than I have with the various brands of neo-conservatism that I admire, and in the main, follow. It remedies all of the fatal flaws that have made me unable to see myself as in any way connected to the Left.

I still think this is more NeoCon than Leftist, but no matter what you call it, I'm for it. I urge anyone to read the text in full, and to adopt most, if not all, of the principles espoused in it into whatever your platform your political party adopts. Especially the bits about how none of us is infallible, and how we should not let the partisan labels of Left or Right get in the way of our common goals.

I've signed up, anyway. I could do no other.

Pommygranate,
This is a massive step forward for the Left at a time when they seem to have simply run out of ideas.
Also The Guardian's Comment Free.

The Euston Manifesto: For a Renewal of Progressive Politics

Via NormsBlog and read also The New Statesman. Their website where you can sign the manifesto (I did) is here.
The Euston Manifesto

For a Renewal of Progressive Politics


A. Preamble

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the 'blogosphere'. It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere - in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. It inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites that are behind this call for a progressive realignment.


B. Statement of principles

1) For democracy. We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures - freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.

2) No apology for tyranny. We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently 'understand', reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy - regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3) Human rights for all. We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

4) Equality. We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations - as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality, but we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights. The universal adoption of the International Labour Organization Conventions - now routinely ignored by governments across the globe - is a priority for us. We are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalized abuse.

5) Development for freedom. We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation. The current expansion of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates in developing countries. The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to achieve these goals, and we support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History. Development can bring growth in life-expectancy and in the enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day. It can bring freedom to youth, possibilities of exploration to those of middle years, and security to old age. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for travel, and helps make strangers into friends. Global development must be pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth.

6) Opposing anti-Americanism. We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

7) For a two-state solution. We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

8) Against racism. For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of 'anti-Zionism'. We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.

9) United against terror. We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

10) A new internationalism. We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law - in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the 'common life' of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a 'responsibility to protect'.

11) A critical openness. Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the 'anti-war' movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

12) Historical truth. In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

13) Freedom of ideas. We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas - even whole bodies of ideas - to which others are committed. This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting.

14) Open source. As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders. The open source model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open source collaboration have served human progress for centuries.

15) A precious heritage. We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out, none left behind. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total - unquestionable or unquestioning - truth.

C. Elaborations

We defend liberal and pluralist democracies against all who make light of the differences between them and totalitarian and other tyrannical regimes. But these democracies have their own deficits and shortcomings. The battle for the development of more democratic institutions and procedures, for further empowering those without influence, without a voice or with few political resources, is a permanent part of the agenda of the Left.

The social and economic foundations on which the liberal democracies have developed are marked by deep inequalities of wealth and income and the survival of unmerited privilege. In turn, global inequalities are a scandal to the moral conscience of humankind. Millions live in terrible poverty. Week in, week out, tens of thousands of people - children in particular - die from preventable illnesses. Inequalities of wealth, both as between individuals and between countries, distribute life chances in an arbitrary way.

These things are a standing indictment against the international community. We on the Left, in keeping with our own traditions, fight for justice and a decent life for everyone. In keeping with those same traditions, we have also to fight against powerful forces of totalitarian-style tyranny that are on the march again. Both battles have to be fought simultaneously. One should not be sacrificed for the other.

We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11 2001 were America's deserved comeuppance, or 'understandable' in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that.

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted – rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi 'insurgency'. The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.

Vandalism against synagogues and Jewish graveyards and attacks on Jews themselves are on the increase in Europe. 'Anti-Zionism' has now developed to a point where supposed organizations of the Left are willing to entertain openly anti-Semitic speakers and to form alliances with anti-Semitic groups. Amongst educated and affluent people are to be found individuals unembarrassed to claim that the Iraq war was fought on behalf of Jewish interests, or to make other 'polite' and subtle allusions to the harmful effect of Jewish influence in international or national politics - remarks of a kind that for more than fifty years after the Holocaust no one would have been able to make without publicly disgracing themselves. We stand against all variants of such bigotry.

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of 'rendition', must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by certain left and liberal voices.

D. Conclusion

It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic 'anti-imperialism' and/or hostility to the current US administration. The values and goals which properly make up that agenda - the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression - are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.