Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hamid Taqvaee on the right to nuclear weapons

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

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

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

Arlene Jones to run for 37th ward Alderman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So good luck to Arlene Jones!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sowell: Alternatives to seriousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 24, 2006

FDR's meaning of Christmas

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

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

Stephen Schwartz: Wahhabis or "Salafis"?

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

The Sunni murderers in Iraq are terrorists, not insurgents.

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

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

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More boneheadedness from Obama with Rezko

Clinton will clean Obama's clock with this stuff.

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

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

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

xp Illinoiz

Friday, December 22, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to Rezko and Alsammarae posts over at Illinoiz

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

Alsammarae blog chatter

Alsammarae: he did it the Chicago way

and Alsammarae's on the run

Marathon Pundit on Obama, Rezko, and Fitzgerald

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

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

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

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

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

Cheney talks; Wilson balks

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

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

Thursday, December 21, 2006

NYT: Iran President Facing Revival of Students’ Ire

Nice the NYT noticing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Khaled Kasab Mahameed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Peter Francis Geraci

It's hard to resist.

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Omran Salman on The Poisonous Report

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

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

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

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

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

Over at Regime Change Iran and The Spirit of Man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2006

Iraq Study Group and Ordering Civilians to serve in Iraq

The Iraq Study Group tells us,

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

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

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

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

Obama: Hospitals Terrorize the Uninsured

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2006

COCKALORUM: Another signifcant step

COCKALORUM: Another signifcant step

Some good news on sharing Oil Revenues in Iraq.

Iraq, Rumsfeld, and plans

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

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

Apocalypto

The Buck Stops here reviews Apocalypto.

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

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

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

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Shia Revival

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

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

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

Jimmy Carter, Rwanda, Israel, and wanton brutality

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

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jimmy Carter on Israel and Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHUSTER: Yes.

CARTER: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 04, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cannot emphasise too strongly the depravity of this regime.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes to end violence, force has to be used.

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

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

We cannot duck these issues.

As Winston Churchill said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rezko, Alsammarea and fleecing our Iraqi Allies

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

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

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

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

Maryam Namazie: 7 women at risk of stoning

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

This outrage has to be stopped now!"

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 01, 2006

Waleed Hassan RIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

continue reading here.