Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Island, a gem on Chicago's West Side

I stumbled accross this drafting a comment I never posted.

An African American family moved into this neigborhood in the late 50s and the community stoned the house. Cicero cops crossed over Roosevelt Road with their squads filled with bricks for people to throw.

I got my 8th grade graduation jacket at Van Dyke's store there. I've worked in the factories on the east side of the neigborhood; as did my step brothers and sisters (Victor Gasket, Pheoll Screw, Harrington & King, Hotpot....). I drank in the bars on Roosevelt Road. My wife baptized at St Francis of Rome accross Roosevelt Road in Cicero. I know the area well, and I know the ugly chapters.

Anyways, if you know the West Side's sad stories too, just watch this young man describing the neigborhood today and you know there is plenty of hope that things can change for the better.

xp Illinoize

McCain is a GO!

Hickey channeling McCain who is not a bad candidate to channel at all.

Here's McCain's blog.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Before there were bloggers in Chicago, there was Mike Lavelle

Blue Collar Pundit from Time, Dec 2, 1972,
LaVelle is amused by readers who ask skeptically whether he writes his own material: "I tell them, 'No, I've got a trained mother.' " He is also mildly disconcerted by the stir his columns have caused: "So here I am, the average man expressing himself in the media, and people look at it as unusual. It says something about the isolation of the media, I think."

Lately he has considered abandoning his job as a pipe bender to write full time, and he jokingly wonders whether his having dropped out of high school helped or hurt him. "Do you realize the possibilities," he asks puckishly, "if someone, anyone, had just approached me ten years ago and given me just one more year of schooling? I might have gone to college—and ended up writing greetings for Hallmark cards."
Also read the comments from my earlier post.

What value Hastert?

My latest Oberweis mailer. There is also a new TV ad featuring Hastert but it's not available yet on Oberweis's site.

I'm going to guess most if not the majority of GOP primary voters on the eastern side of the 14th haven't lived here long enough to have attachments to Hastert.

I think they may just see an endorsement from a guy who ended a career in Congress with a bad fumble.

Worse, they may just see the former earmark King as the predessor to todays earmark Queen.

So with Bush picking constitutional fights like this with Congress,
His [Bush] sharp message on earmarks, though, stirred consternation on Capitol Hill and excitement among fiscal conservatives.

He called Congress irresponsible for lumping 11 spending bills into a single, 1,400-page measure nearly three months into the fiscal year.

"Another thing that's not responsible is the number of earmarks that Congress included," he said. Congress "made some progress" curbing pet projects, he said, but not enough.

Bush said he asked Jim Nussle, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to present him with possible actions to take, although he would not elaborate.
Hastert's endorsement may just seem more of the same from less than the best from Congress .

The other wild card here are the Paulistas. They'll vote.

If the GOP Prez primary is competitive enough to generate interest and boost the turnout, then I'm guessing all these new GOP voters will be turned off by Hastert.

I thought Oberweis would benefit from the Paul voters --Oberweis comes off angry and so are they-- but this endorsement's killed that.

Paulistas won't have a clue who Lauzen is, but they'll know Hastert, not like him, and vote for anyone but Oberweis if they get that far down the ticket.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

RIP Benazir Bhutto: ...everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology.

From Journeying to democracy by Benazir Bhutto,
As I board the plane to Pakistan, I am fully aware that the supporters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have publicly threatened my assassination.

Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander, has said that his terrorists will "welcome" me on my return. Everyone understands the meaning of these comments. And I fully understand the men behind Al Qaeda. They have tried to assassinate me twice before. The Pakistan Peoples Party and I represent everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology. We represent the future of a modern Pakistan, a future that has no place in it for ignorance, intolerance, and terrorism.

The forces of moderation and democracy must, and will, prevail against extremism and dictatorship. I will not be intimidated. I will step out on the tarmac in Karachi not to complete a journey, but to begin one. Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beckel: MoveOn Freed Lieberman to Endorse McCain

HT Brian Faughnan at who wrote,

It's hard to imagine that Joe Lieberman would have endorsed a Republican for president if he remained a Democrat in good standing in the U.S. Senate. Lieberman points out that one reason he endorsed McCain rather than a Democrat is that no Democrat asked for his endorsement. If Lieberman had been re-elected to the Senate as the Democratic nominee (rather than as an Independent), one of his colleagues might have sought his endorsement.

If McCain finishes strong in New Hampshire, he might have to send a thank you card to MoveOn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bill Foster video

Check over at Illinoize for my thoughts on this odd man.

Tell Mark Pera it's almost Christimas 2007; not Fall 2007

From Pera's Website. Where ever one stands on Iraq, it seems one should care enough to update the stand. Fall's past, what now Mr Pera?

Maybe Pera's hoping voters skip it. He certainly seems to have avoided an update.
Mark Pera believes the U.S. pullout must start this fall

Mark believes that it is past time that we brought our soldiers home.

By any measure or standard, the strategy for war in Iraq has been a failure.

Experts ranging from sitting and retired generals to diplomats and scholars acknowledge that there is no purely military solution to the conflict, and that the battle will only be won with political solutions.

Mark believes that Congress should mandate a pull-out of our troops beginning in the Fall of 2007 and should also place a cap on funding to accomplish that goal.
Also check my post at Illinoize.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lucien Sève « Le communisme est mort, vive le communisme ! »

French Marxist Lucien Sève on the crisis of the French communist party,
With the death of what was so improperly called communism, history has entered a new phase. In view of the limitless freedom that capital enjoys today, we are in for boundless catastrophes. While on the left there still is no effective political alternative, not even a mental set of opposable political references. All our woes stem from this void. The task of those who follow in the wake of Marx today is therefore clear: for years we have been talking of inventing a communism for the 21st century. Now, at long last, the time has come to do it. We have had enough talk on the subject.
...not even a mental set of opposable political references... no kidding, the left worldwide is in the void.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

First Sergeant Brobyn. "We are here to make ourselves superfluous."

An Iraq Town Shrugs Off Terror by Ulrike Putz in Der Spiegel.

Photo Gallery here.

So what changed? Why, suddenly, do 79 men apply to join the police in a single day? Rawah has, relatively speaking, become a peaceful place once again. The last attack -- an insurgent threw a hand grenade over the wall of a barracks where some 60 Marines were stationed -- took place over a month ago. And life on the streets seems to be returning to normal. During the day there are boys running around on the streets; in the café of the little market hall, young men play pool. Mothers take their daughters shopping. Even at night there are people outside on the streets. One night recently, a group stood outside of a well-lit hair salon warming their hands over a little fire. And just talked.

"At some point, people simply had enough," Subhi says. The men in the town wanted a future for their families and decided the path to that future involved working with, rather than against, the Americans. Whereas before, people had been paralyzed with fear, they began informing US troops about insurgents' activities. Others would speak up if they saw suspicious-looking characters on the streets of Rawah.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jonathan Meyer in Roll Call on Democrats and the War: Having used the Iraq War to win over millions of Americans....

HT Dems Move to Acceptance on Iraq

Heck of a way to talk of a War so many have died in regardless of how you feel about the decision to invade or stay. Democrats should never be allowed to skip talking about either decision in favor of the economy instead.

Meyers in Roll Call as quoted at WWS,
Over the past couple of years, Democrats have made huge political gains by criticizing President Bush for both his decision to invade Iraq and his conduct of the occupation. These critiques are probably the single greatest factor in Democrats retaking the House and the Senate in 2006 and sending Bush’s approval ratings spiraling to historic lows.

But that critique has gone about as far as it can go. A significant majority of voters today agree with Democrats that the decision to invade Iraq was wrong, and that the conduct of the occupation and attempts to rebuild the country have been failures. A large percentage of Americans believe the Bush administration misled the country on Iraq in the first place. Those opinions are solidly held and highly unlikely to change. That debate is over...

This presents a unique opportunity for Democrats. Having used the Iraq War to win over millions of Americans who were previously disposed to support the other side, they can now build on that momentum by turning to other issues to seal the deal with voters who remain on the fence.

To borrow a phrase, it’s the economy, stupid...

Making these arguments will prove tremendously advantageous to Democrats for many reasons, but chief among them are two: First, without losing the gains they’ve made through criticism of the Iraq War, they will be able to expand their base by recapturing the economic middle class and building a broader, more stable constituency based on dealing with the future, not revisiting the past. Second, having already created an image of themselves as the more levelheaded purveyors of foreign policy, they can now show themselves to be the more responsible, trustworthy grown-ups on pocketbook issues, undoing the damage inflicted on them by decades of “tax and spend” name-calling.

Torture: What did Pelosi and her colleagues know - and when did they know it?

Enemy combatants captured fighting outside the rules of war i.e. Geneva Conventions, should, in my opinion, be coerced to give up information beyond the Geneva's provision for name, rank, and serial number.

Whether water boarding is allowable way to coerce, I don't know. McCain says no. He took a stand. The administration struggled to draw the lines.

But Democrats have demagogued it, and for sure leaders were briefed long ago. Here's today's Boston Herald Editorial: Who knew what on Capitol Hill?
The Washington Post reported Sunday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top congressional leaders were briefed in September 2002 on CIA interrogations designed to squeeze information from suspected terrorists. Among the techniques described, according to the Post, was waterboarding.

“In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic,” one official present during the briefings told the Post. “But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, ‘We don’t care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.’ ”

And yet, once word of the harsh techniques became public, Pelosi, among others, began employing it as a blunt political instrument - proclaiming the practice of waterboarding as an illegal form of torture and condemning the Bush administration for allowing it.
Also, Hitchen's today on Abolish the CIA. Destruction of the water boarding tapes the last straw.
And now we have further confirmation of the astonishing culture of lawlessness and insubordination that continues to prevail at the highest levels in Langley. At a time when Congress and the courts are conducting important hearings on the critical question of extreme interrogation, and at a time when accusations of outright torture are helping to besmirch and discredit the United States all around the world, a senior official of the CIA takes the unilateral decision to destroy the crucial evidence. This deserves to be described as what it is: mutiny and treason. Despite a string of exposures going back all the way to the Church Commission, the CIA cannot rid itself of the impression that it has the right to subvert the democratic process both abroad and at home. Its criminality and arrogance could perhaps have been partially excused if it had ever got anything right, but, from predicting the indefinite survival of the Soviet Union to denying that Saddam Hussein was going to invade Kuwait, our spymasters have a Clouseau-like record, one that they have earned yet again with their exculpation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was after the grotesque estimate of continued Soviet health and prosperity that the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the CIA should be abolished. It is high time for his proposal to be revived. The system is worse than useless—it's a positive menace. We need to shut the whole thing down and start again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Boston Herald's Editorial on TNR and Beauchamp

The Boston Herald's editorial on TNR's recant of Beauchamp's stories from Iraq.
Whatever the length, this piece would have served readers better had it employed the classic five-W formulation of the straightforward beginning of a news article: Who (we the editors), What (denounce some things we’ve published), When (in the past year), Where (from Iraq) and Why (because they don’t stand up under investigation).
I think it's called keep it simple.

Throwing Laesch under the bus

A comment by Carl Nyberg over at Prairie State Blue on Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Foster in the primary.
A significant number of key people have decided they can't back Laesch. In fact, some of them have decided they will oppose Laesch no matter what.

I feel like these judgments have been rendered unfairly in most cases.

I also think that the attacks on Laesch are unfair enough that it will create a real problem for Foster.

Foster probably should do something to de-escalate the nastiness, especially the unfair attacks on Laesch.

If Laesch is denied the nomination by b/c people perceived that key players won't work with Laesch, Laesch's supporters have a certain incentive to jam Foster on that very point.
Laesch not my kind of Democrat. He's the now pervasive kind of Democrat who's taken over, and made it impossible for Lieberman style Liberals to find a home there.

But Laesch has been a tireless campaigner for Progressivism in Il-14 --as Progressivisms now become-- and it seems he deserves a little better.

He's your party Democrats, with a program more consistent with where the party's been the past six years, than the candidate those key people want to field in Il-6.

Maybe the Lieberman Dem's don't belong in the party, and Lieberman Liberals should leave it to the Laeschites, but those muddling key people, who's principles sway with the winds of polls, seem the least appealing of all. I hope they do, as Carl wrote, jam Foster on that point.

xp Illinoize

Thomas K. McCraw: Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction

A new book I'm sure Prof Voertman would have had me read. A review of it here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dick Durbin on Three Hots and a Cot

From a very long Trib piece yesterday on Senator Durbin. Including this on Mukasey and torture.
The more Durbin pressed Mukasey, the more frank he became, until at one point he noted that the U.S. taxpayers pay for the Koran to be delivered to detainees at Guantanamo in a plastic Baggie "so that it hasn't been touched by infidels."

Detainees receive "a system of health care that is better than what a lot of Americans get," when what they're really entitled to is three hot meals a day and a place to sleep--or, as Mukasey put it in the moment, "three hots and a cot."

At this, Durbin stopped cold, seemingly stunned into a few milliseconds of silence. He looked blankly at his staff, as if to ask if they'd heard the same thing. When he turned back to Mukasey, he drew a breath and measured his words carefully.

"I've been there. I hope you get a chance to visit," he said slowly. "For those who are being held on suspicion with no charges . . . it seems so fundamentally inconsistent with who we are."

After the judge left, Durbin still seemed to be trying to make sense of the conversation.

"His views of the law are troubling in this respect," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't expect to hear this from him. I thought I would hear something more moderate, based on the fact that he was a so-called consensus candidate."

He wondered, he said, if the White House aide traveling with Mukasey that day might urge the nominee to tone down his comments.

"I keep thinking to myself, 'The White House person is going to catch him in the hall and say, 'Next time, here's the answer,' " Durbin said.
A combatant found fighting outside the rules of war e.g. as terrorists without uniform, isn't entitled to much. McCain, who was a POW, has been pretty clear about what can and can't be down. McCain came out hard against waterboarding.

I wonder if a detainess are to be treated as POWs can we ask of them only name, rank, and seriel number? And then hold them for the duration? Can we coerce anything else from them? If yes, with what forms of coercion?

Muckasey's blunt. McCain's blunt. Durbin's well... a little further on...
To guide him, Durbin acknowledges that he sometimes consults public opinion polls, trying to figure out how far he can go with his agenda.

"I read them as a politician," he says. "It's like reading the scores in a sports page. But there comes a time when you have to take a position that might not be popular.

"There aren't many of us who continued to raise this torture issue," he says. "It's not one that members like to talk about. It could hurt you politically."
I thought McCain wrong on waterboarding but I respect his viewpoint. With Durbin it always seems a little fuzzy to me. Should we treat detainess as criminals and try them? They seem more like POWs and, like McCain did, they should sit it the war for the duration. With a little more humaness then McCain got, but sit it out none-the-less.

If Durbin's taking a stand here, and I'd agree it could be unpopular because I doubt many Americans think detainess desrve much more than three hots and a cot, I sure wish he'd be a little more specific on the alternatives.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

John McCain: The Great Man in the Race

Deb Saunders writes The Great Man in the Race. Hickey may be right.

Lenin and the mystagogues: Lesley Chamberlain's The Philosophy Steamer: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia

Finished Lesley Chamberlain's book The Philosophy Steamer: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia reviewed here by Frances Stonor Saunders and by Bryan Appleyard over at Orthodoxy Today. Appleyard writes,
In September 1922, in St Petersburg, Lenin's political police loaded 25 families onto the German ship Haken. Six weeks later, about the same number were loaded onto another German ship, the Preussen. The ships steamed out into the Gulf of Finland and the families waved goodbye to Mother Russia.
and finds the real heart of the this story,
On board those ships was a peculiarly Russian mix of philosophers, critics, historians, mystics and theologians. They were divided by many things, but they were united by three big things. First, they had all been identified as threats to Leninism; second, they were famous, and executing them would have alienated foreign supporters; third, they had all seen the malignancy that lay behind the hyper-rationalism of the Bolshevik revolution. They had seen, in other words, the fatal weakness in the Enlightenment Project and were seeking an alternative. Chamberlain calls them "the shipped-out mystagogues".

The book's true subject, therefore, is the confrontation between reason and faith. But the banality of that formulation simply does not do justice to the depth and passion that Chamberlain brings to her story, nor, indeed, to the complexities of what we mean by faith. The reason this is such a good book is that the author feels the conflict within herself. She sees herself as a rational secularist and humanist, but, equally, she sees how catastrophically those causes have failed in the past. As a result, she understands the evil of Lenin but also grasps his deep and entirely logical attraction for western intellectuals; on the other side, she sees the vagueness, eccentricity and, frequently, just plain madness of her mystagogues, but also their honesty, heroism and high decency. In almost every sentence, one feels the pressure to codify this conflict into a coherent statement, and the impossibility of the task.
Much of the task and scholarship according to Chamberlain is happening on the web. Here's a nice site on Nikolai Berdyaev and his essays translated into English.

It is a tough book to read in the sense I felt this need to jumb to the net every few pages and google the names from the list of passengers to follow up later with their writings.

Saunder's review quotes Lenin in his scatological mode Marxists prone too,
These metaphysical antiquities [the philosopher exiles -Baar] had no place in Lenin's world, which was anti-metaphysical, rationalist, atheist. As Chamberlain writes, under Lenin reason "took a perverse, political form . . . which became the foundation of the totalitarian system. It led to a militant and incriminating ban on all expressions of faith and an attempt to destroy individual conscience and human inwardness." Lenin spoke of religion as getting off on the dead; he referred to those he was evicting as "the shit". Trotsky, eager assistant in the deportations, described one of the victims as "a philosophical, aesthetic, literary, religious sponger, that is, he's the dregs, trash."

Aafaq: Saudi Activists Organizing Sit-in in Front of Court In Solidarity with the "Girl of Qatif"

It will take some courage to participate in this.

Franklin Foer's Fog

It takes him 13 pages before he can see fit through the fog to tell us,
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hillary Plants: CNN's David Bohrman

Malkin on CNN's screwup...
In a now richly ironic interview with Wired.- com before the debate, David Bohrman, a CNN senior vice president, explained why videos were picked not by popular vote, but by supposedly seasoned CNN journalists: The Web is still too immature a medium to set an agenda for a national debate, he claimed. "It's really easy for the campaigns to game the system."

"You've seen how effective the Ron Paul campaign [supporters] have been on the Web," he noted. "You don't know if there are 40 or 4 million of them. It would be easy for a really organized campaign to stack the deck."

What does Bohrman have to say about his crack staff now?
Partisan and stupid is no way for a network to be.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Preschool for All

Remember this?

Heather Cook writes Canadian Brand Socialism: Failing the Sick and Poor and quotes this report finding,
The policy thus provides the greatest benefit to upper-income families, who as it turns out make greater use of subsidized daycare services.
Cook concludes,
To add fuel to this fire, national childcare advocates are pushing for the government to further restrict private daycare options in Canada, after an Australian company – 123 Busy Beavers – began buying up Canadian day care centers. The company’s only crime seems to be that it’s the largest such company in the world.

It seems to me that a little free-market competition might help to keep the costs reasonable and the options open for Canadian parents.

It’s clear that the Canadian brand of socialism is no longer effective. Canadians are clinging to the safety nets of “free health care” and “subsidized programs” without thinking things through. They don’t stop to ask themselves “what would happen if the tax money currently earmarked for health care and subsidies stayed in my pocket?”

If Canadian socialism can’t take care of the children and the sick, what exactly is it here for?
Today's Socialism is taking care of someone for sure; just not children, sick, or workers.

It's that reality that makes me still feel a leftist after chucking Socialism. Socialism and progressive politics just not the people's program anymore.

Also check Spontaneous Solutions on queues and waits in Stuff Rich Miller Would Never Post (Rich did).

Americans don't like queues. Americans want choices. Collective solutions have a nasty habit of benefiting those least in need, and removing everyone elses choices.

So our question in Illinois then, is what exactly is Blagojevich here for? Like Canadian Socialism, the Gov's not in it for the sick and poor.

Congressman Davis and the Cops

Davis and the Cops, from the Trib
"The more I thought about it, the more perplexing it came," said Davis. "I knew I had not committed any infraction.

"No tail lights were out or anything like that. Licenses were in place and intact. There was no apparent reason to be stopped, except that we were profiled," said Davis.

He said he plans on challenging the ticket.

"It's not the money. It's the principle of the whole thing."
I've been stopped in the same neighborhood. As a white male, the cop's assumption is I was looking for a drug buy.

As I became an older white male, the assumption was I'm looking for a prostitute.

That I'm cruising historic Douglas Blvd for a glimpse of Chicago History is not believable to most cops.

Now that the area is ripe for gentrification, my profile might be changing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Russia Today: Stalin wrote romantic poetry. Did you know that?

From Der Spiegel Online: Using Stalin To Boost Russia Abroad
There are probably better ways of promoting a country's image abroad than running an ad campaign in English-language newspapers peddling the softer side of a man whose repressive policies led to the deaths of millions. Under the slogan "proud to be different," Russian state propaganda channel Russia Today (RT) has recently been running full-page ads featuring Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in a general's uniform, armed with a quill in hand. "Stalin wrote romantic poetry," the ad states. "Did you know that?"

It's about as subtle a message as if German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle were to advertise with Hitler and the question: "Did you know that Adolf Hilter also painted?"

RT, which has about 700 employees and whose signal can be received in about 100 countries, went on the air in April 2005. The channel broadcasts in English and Arabic.
In English and Arab.... wonder who RT is reaching out too?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Michael Yon: Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home

Photo of Muslims and Christians preparing St John's Church, Bhagdad for the arrival of the Most Reverend Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of the St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Diocese for Chaldeans and Assyrians in Iraq.

Much more over at Michael Yon online

HT Captian's Quarters

Ron Silver: Neo-Con? Extreme Moderate? How about Revolutionary Liberal.

From Ron Silver's blog,
I count myself firmly in the tradition of Wilson, FDR, Truman and Kennedy…and yes, Reagan and George W. Bush. “Go anywhere, bear any burden,” “try to do our best to make a world safe for democracy.” Our national mission, a worthy and ennobling one, is to expand freedom where we can. These are revolutionary goals very much in keeping with our Founders’ vision. They are hardly conservative, let alone neo-conservative goals.

My reactionary former colleagues and friends were quite content with the status quo with Saddam in power in a post 9/11 world. I was not. Revolutionary, not reactionary. My friends sound a bit racist when they insist on Arab-Muslim incapacities to expand freedoms and maintain their faith. I believe the Arab world will work its way to achieve this. I know that it will most likely come about through internal Arab-Muslim struggles and not via external pressures, but I believe we are uniquely capable of helping it along. Uniquely, because our Founding scriptures declare, “all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights.” Revolutionary, not reactionary.

Novak on Obama

Novak writes,
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
Wonder if it's the long reach of Illinois politics?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Blackwater and Ahyam al Samarrai

Looks like Maliki thinks it was Blackwater that sprung al Samarrai from jail the Chicago Way,
McClatchy Newspapers September 19, 2007 Blackwater security guards who protect top U.S. diplomats in Iraq have been involved in at least seven serious incidents, some of which resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said Wednesday.

Maliki didn't detail the incidents, which he said add to the case against the North Carolina-based security firm. Blackwater's license to operate here has been revoked while U.S. and Iraqi officials investigate a shooting Sunday that Iraqi officials now say left at least 11 people dead.

But Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al Askari told McClatchy Newspapers that one of the incidents was former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ahyam al Samarrai's escape from a Green Zone jail in December. Samarrai had been awaiting sentencing on charges that he had embezzled $2.5 billion that was intended to rebuild Iraq's decrepit electricity grid.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rudy Giuliani, Colonel Morgenthaler, and Democrats changing course

Giuliani saying Democrats will change mind about Iraq War
Rudy Giuliani said at a town hall meeting Monday that he thinks the Democrats are going to change their minds about the Iraq War and again support it.

"Do I think the mission in Iraq is the correct one? I think without a doubt it is," Giuliani said in Londonderry, New Hampshire. "And I think the Democrats are gonna change their mind about it again."

"I think Edwards has apologized for it. She (Hillary Clinton) hasn't apologized for it but she said it was a mistake, but it was George Bush's mistake. I guess he got her to vote that way," he said.

The former Mayor of New York went on to tell the crowd, of over 250 people, again that he thought over time the Democrats will change their minds about the Iraq War and that "over time history will show it was the right decision."
If the Democrat's candidate in Illinois's 6th turns out to be Colonel Morgenthaler and she sticks with this diary entry,
As she told me the horrors of living in Kuwait under the occupation, I realized that if we had not had the first war, Saddam may have been impossible to stop with the oil under his total control. The men who did terrible things to the Kuwaitis, especially the Kuwaiti women are very similar to the men we are fighting. As people get upset about Abu Ghraib, one thing that should never be forgotten: these are men who have murdered Americans and would continue to murder Americans if given the opportunity. (my empahsis)
...then I'd say Democrats have started the turn.

John Judis on Rudy: the Pope makes him do it.

Judis in TNR on Rudy the Authority Figure, HT WurfWhile Get ready for lots of this kind of mumbo jumbo if Rudy get's it.
There are two aspects of Catholic philosophy that show up clearly in Giuliani's political outlook. The first, which he would have found at almost any religious school, is a tendency to view politics and history as a moral contest between good and evil. That is sharply in contrast to a secular post-Enlightenment view of individuals--from presidents to petty thieves--as products of historical forces greater than themselves. The difference between Giuliani's view and the secular one would show up in his attitude toward crime and criminals.

Second, Giuliani was exposed to a specifically Catholic (as opposed to Protestant-individualist) view of the relationship between authority and liberty--one that dates from Aquinas's Christian Aristotelianism, was spelled out in Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical on the Nature of Human Liberty, and still enjoys currency today, even in the wake of Vatican II. Catholic thinkers do not see liberty as an end in itself, but as a means-a "natural endowment"--by which to achieve the common good. For that to happen, individuals have to be encouraged to use their liberty well; and that is where authority comes into play. Authority, embodied by law and the state, encourages--at times, forces--free individuals to contribute to the common good. Or, to put it in Aristotelian terms:Authority--by creating a just order--encourages liberty over license.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kruathammer on the GOP field

Sums up my thoughts perfectly, more gnashing of teeth. Republicans have 4 1/2 good presidential candidates. All five would make fine Cabinet members: Romney at Treasury, Thompson at Justice, McCain at Defense, Giuliani at Homeland Security, Huckabee at Interior. All the team needs now is to pick a captain who can beat Hillary.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Aleida Guevara in Teheran: "My father never mentioned God"

Sarah Baxter describes a culture clash between between the children of Che Guevara and the Mullahs at Teheran University. From Times Online via Belmont Club
A glorious culture clash took place in Iran recently that made me laugh out loud. The children of Che Guevara, the revolutionary pin-up, had been invited to Tehran University to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their father’s death and celebrate the growing solidarity between “the left and revolutionary Islam” at a conference partly paid for by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.

There were fraternal greetings and smiles all round as America’s “earth-devouring ambitions” were denounced. But then one of the speakers, Hajj Saeed Qassemi, the co-ordinator of the Association of Volunteers for Suicide-Martyrdom (who presumably remains selflessly alive for the cause), revealed that Che was a “truly religious man who believed in God and hated communism and the Soviet Union”.

Che’s daughter Aleida wondered if something might have been lost in translation. “My father never mentioned God,” she said, to the consternation of the audience. “He never met God.” During the commotion, Aleida and her brother were led swiftly out of the hall and escorted back to their hotel. “By the end of the day, the two Guevaras had become non-persons. The state-controlled media suddenly forgot their existence,” the Iranian writer Amir Taheri noted.

After their departure, Qassemi went on to claim that Fidel Castro, the “supreme guide” of Guevara, was also a man of God. “The Soviet Union is gone,” he affirmed. “The leadership of the downtrodden has passed to our Islamic republic. Those who wish to destroy America must understand the reality and not be clever with words.”
Note the, Those who wish to destoy America... here. Give these folks credit for saying what they mean.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Former Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts on Giuliani

Jason Bonham interviews Gov Cellucci on Giuliani. HT Backyard Conservative

Benazir Bhutto: ...everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology.

Benazier Bhutto's Journeying to democracy which has new meaing after the slaughter of the attack against her. Temendous courage...
As I board the plane to Pakistan, I am fully aware that the supporters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have publicly threatened my assassination.

Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander, has said that his terrorists will "welcome" me on my return. Everyone understands the meaning of these comments. And I fully understand the men behind Al Qaeda. They have tried to assassinate me twice before. The Pakistan Peoples Party and I represent everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology. We represent the future of a modern Pakistan, a future that has no place in it for ignorance, intolerance, and terrorism.

The forces of moderation and democracy must, and will, prevail against extremism and dictatorship. I will not be intimidated. I will step out on the tarmac in Karachi not to complete a journey, but to begin one. Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it.

Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy

A link to the Navy's website for him.

72-Year-Old Concerned Citizen takes down suicide bomber

A CENTCOM Press Release,
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – A 72-year-old man stopped a suspected suicide bomber from detonating himself at a checkpoint in Arab Jabour Oct. 14.

The man approached a checkpoint where Mudhehr Fayadh Baresh was standing guard, but did not make it very far.

Baresh, a tribal commissioner and member of the Arab Jabour Concerned Citizens program, said he ordered the man to lift his shirt - using training received from Coalition Forces - when he did not recognize him as a local villager.

The suspect refused to lift his shirt. Baresh repeated the command again, and the suspect exposed his suicide vest, running toward the checkpoint.

Baresh opened fire which caused the vest to detonate, killing the suspect.

“I did it for the honor of my family and the honor of my country,” said Baresh, when he met with Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Eric Lee on Globe and Mail's survey of Afghans on NATO

Eric Lee lays out the numbers and comments on Globe and Mail's survey of Afghans on NATO's presense in Afganistan.
And here is what the Afghans believe:

51% say that the country is heading in the right direction
59% believe that President Hamid Karzai represents their interests
60% say that the foreign presence since the fall of the Taliban has been a good thing
60% feel that they are better off now than they were five years ago
64% say that those foreign countries are doing a good job fighting the Taliban
65% say that foreign countries are doing a good job providing reconstruction assistance
71% have a very or somewhat positive view of their government
73% think that women are better off now than under the Taliban
84% have some or a lot of confidence in the Afghan national army

Unsurprisingly, when comparing the results by gender it turns out that women “tend to be more negative about the Taliban.”

Now imagine if the same poll were conducted among, say, readers of the Guardian or Independent in the UK. Would it show huge majorities expressing support for and confidence in both the Nato mission and the elected Karzai government? Probably not.

Gen Harbord's recommendations to Congress from his Mission to Armenia

Harbord laid out the Commission's recommenations on the US Gov accepting a mandate to govern the fledgling state of Armenia in two columns: one Pro and one Con. The final 14th Pro recommendation lacked a matching Con. Here it is from page 28,
14. Here is a man’s job that the world says can be better done by America than by any other. America can afford the money; she has the men; no duty to her own people would suffer; her traditional policy of isolation did not keep her from successful participation in the Great War. Shall it be said that our country lacks the courage to take up new and difficult duties?
Our decision to not accept the mandate for Armenia would have been an interesting topic for Congress to reflect on.

House Resolution 106 just noted this response by Congress to Harbord's report,
(13) Senate Resolution 359, dated May 11, 1920, stated in part, `the testimony adduced at the hearings conducted by the sub-committee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have clearly established the truth of the reported massacres and other atrocities from which the Armenian people have suffered'.

(14) The resolution followed the April 13, 1920, report to the Senate of the American Military Mission to Armenia led by General James Harbord, that stated `[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages'.
Congress noted Armenia's suffering but strangley silent on how it responded to Harbor's recommendations on what should or should not have been done.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hastert to announce resignation today

That's what Fox and Politico are saying. (A quick search of the Sun Times and Trib showed nothing.) Here's from Fox,
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will resign his seat in Congress later this year, and not serve out the remainder of his term, FOX News has learned.

The Illinois Republican has informed the House GOP leadership of his early departure, according to Republican sources. No date has been chosen for a formal announcement, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, sources told FOX News, but the resignation is expected to become effective in December or January.

Hastert's leaving in the middle of the 110th Congress means his Illinois district will have to hold a special election, one more likely to favor a GOP candidate since the party is expected to be more adept at turning out voters in a low-turnout special election.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Seattle Times: $4.5 million for a boat that nobody wanted

An interesting chart from a Seattle Times article Defense Industry Earmarks. Who gets the earmarks and which Reps get contributions from the industry recipients. The chart below shows the Reps.

HT by Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean's post: You'll Agree with a Republican After Reading This over at dKos

dKos: Murtha's "pet rock" bankrolled apparent AF suicide victim

A dKos diarist speculates on the suicide Sunday of Charles D. Riechers, 47, the Air Forces Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisitions.

Riechers made the WaPo Front page for temporarily taking a "no work" job with a company close to Murtha while awaiting confirmation for his position as Dep Asst Sec,
A leading patron of Concurrent in Congress is Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who represents the district where the company is based. Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, announced the creation of the company in 1987.

Murtha recently arranged $10 million in earmarks for the company for fiscal 2008, according to records compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. One $3 million earmark is for an Air Force project.

Through a spokesman, Murtha said he has no financial ties to Concurrent. Murtha said the company's "quality work and research has resulted in improved equipment for our troops. Their competitive price has saved taxpayers money, and they continue to deliver on-time results."
I don't think Murtha will politically survive this one. It's way too ugly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SCHIP and Liberal Passions

Capitan's Quarters and Bruce Kesler on USA Today's poll on SCHIP expansion.

I'm not surprised. My liberal friends have become surprising deficit hawks. They're older and have often worked in public sector jobs. They're cynical about things like SCHIP.

Now Gore and global warming will get them excited but they sense the politics on this one. They're not worked up.

Hardly a scientific survey I know. It's just what I've observed.

Global Cairene: Alaa Al Aswani Disappoints with “Chicago”

GC reviews Al Aswani's new book Chicago.

I took first semester Arabic at College of DuPage. A big class with spouses of Arabic speakers trying to learn the inlaws language, and kids from Arabic-speaking families trying to improve their kitchen-Arabic.

They seemed the typical Chicago experience: work hard, school at night, aiming for a better job and big house in the 'burbs.

Guy Moquet's Letter

Powerline notes French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this letter needs to be read in French Schools a celebration of resistance and sacrifice for one's country. PL writes,
There's a good reason why Moquet's letter should not be read to students. Moquet was a Communist agitator, not a member of the French resistance. And his letter, though brave, says nothing about sacrifice for one's country. Indeed, it doesn't even mention France. That's not surprising -- as a Communist Moquet presumably was an internationalist at best (and a Russia-first Stalinist at worst), not a French nationalist.

It's not clear, however, that the resistance by France's teachers to Sarkozy's decree stems from Moquet's lack of credentials as a patriot. In the news report I saw tonight on French television, the resistance seemed to have more to do with (a) resentment at being told what to do by Sarkozy and (b) a lack of desire to promote patriotism and sacrifice for country. One teacher sniffed that there are better ways to teach about the French resistance. But Sarkozy isn't devising a course on the resistance movement; he's trying to inject a little bit of patriotism into one school day. The problem is that he picked a poor example.

But that's not to say that Sarkozy made a mistake. More likely, I imagine, he made a gesture to the French left.
And I'd say not a bad gesture at all. Moquet doesn't mention country but neither did he mention Stalin. He writes of his family. This letter not a bad example at all for kids.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jed Babbin: Pelosi’s Most Dangerous Ploy

Babbin deconstructs Pelosi's ploy,
Turkey is our most under-appreciated ally. Its eighth president, Turgut Ozal, was a great friend of America, once referring to his nation as, “little America.” When Ozal died suddenly in 1993, neither President Clinton nor Vice President Gore went to the funeral, an insult the Turks remember. Europe has been even less appreciative. Turkey has practically begged to become a member of the European Union, but its applications to what some Turks call the “Christian club” have been stalled again and again because of European criticism of its human rights record.

There is a deep-seated cultural sensitivity among the Turkish people and their government on the issue of the Armenian massacre nine decades ago. Amb. Sensoy may have been thinking about the far-reaching effects – including on Turkey’s application for EU membership -- of the House genocide resolution when he told us, “No nation would like to be labeled with that greatest of human rights violations.”

House Republican leaders are very concerned about the effects the Democrats’ resolution could have. House Minority Leader John Boehner told me, “If the Turks cut off our ability to use Incirlik, there’s no question that this could jeopardize our troops on the ground in Iraq. And frankly, if this is just the latest in the Democrats’ string of back-door attempts to force a retreat from the war against al Qaeda, it’s certainly the most dangerous.”

Speaker Pelosi is apparently so intent on forcing an end to American involvement in Iraq that she is willing to interfere in our tenuous friendship with Turkey. When she does, it will be an historic event: the House of Representatives will be responsible for alienating a key ally in time of war and possibly interdicting supplies to US troops.

Chicago Public Schools to open Marine-run academy

Someone at CPS has been reading Making the Corps. via the AP from WQAD
The Chicago Public Schools will commission today the nation's first public high school run by the U.S. Marine Corps.

The opening of the Marine Military Academy on the near West Side is seen as another blow to activists who have fought to keep the armed services out of city schools.

Novak: Rudy and Religion

Today's ST,
The most surprising recent national polling result was an answer given by Republicans who attend church weekly when Gallup asked their presidential preference. A plurality chose Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic who in 1999 said: "I don't attend regularly, but I attend occasionally." Their choice raises deep concern among prominent conservative Republicans who feel it would be a serious mistake for leaders of the religious right to scorn the former mayor of New York.
I think God is speaking to them.

Al Gore and ignoring the 'final solution' to eliminate Tutsis

The Guardian from March 2004: US chose to ignore Rwandan genocide -Classified papers show Clinton was aware of 'final solution' to eliminate Tutsis
President Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time.

Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.

Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.
The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based in Washington DC, went to court to obtain the material.

It discovered that the CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, the then vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of senior officials, included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which ... is spreading south".

Three days later the state department's intelligence briefing for former secretary of state Warren Christopher and other officials noted "genocide and partition" and reported declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".

However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide".
A guy who remained silent during this a heck of a choice for a peace prize.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Today's WaPo Editorial: The evidence of a drop in violence in Iraq is becoming hard to dispute.

Today's WaPo Editorial,
This doesn't necessarily mean the war is being won. U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions -- and there has been little progress on that front. Nevertheless, it's looking more and more as though those in and outside of Congress who last month were assailing Gen. Petraeus's credibility and insisting that there was no letup in Iraq's bloodshed were -- to put it simply -- wrong.
But it's got to make it easier for Iraqis to reach that real solution.

James W. Ceaser: The Stupid Party - How the Democrats earned the epithet previously reserved for Republicans.

A shock it was. I remember the look on their faces. via Weekly Standard,
For those in the party's mainstream, the revolt of the New Left and the "counterculture" came as an enormous shock. It was as if their own offspring had suddenly and unnaturally turned on their progenitors and set about mercilessly to devour them. The New Left called into question almost everything liberals had deemed to be progress: material well-being, American power, and especially the enlightened motives of the leaders of the American nation. Liberalism was part of the problem, not the solution. In the words of the movement's political manifesto, the Port Huron Statement, "What we had originally seen as the American Golden Age was actually the decline of an era." The moral disaster over which liberalism had presided, culminating in the Vietnam war, was so fundamental, so interwoven into the fabric of American life, that only a revolution could save us. The New Left married a deep pessimism about America to an unbounded optimism about the transforming power of revolution.

Iraqi Liberal Khudayr Taher: My Journey from Darkness to Light; America Is the Prophet of Liberty

MEMRI's translation of Khudayr Taher's essay at the liberal Arab e-journal Elaph.
"Allah's Justice and Mercy Encompass All Humanity," Except for the Terrorists, Wahhabis, and Khomeinists

"It is illogical to think that Allah, Who is just, would prefer one sect… and love only [those belonging to it], and bring them into the pleasures of Paradise while bringing the rest of humanity into hellfire. It is impossible that Allah's justice and mercy [would allow this]. Allah's justice and mercy encompass all humanity, all religions, and all countries, and no one has the right to claim a monopoly on truth and faith.

"[But] naturally, I exclude from Allah's mercy the terrorist movements and the criminal takfiri groups like the Wahhabis, [the followers of] Khomeini's [theory of] the rule of the jurisprudent… and all the Islamist [political] parties, [both] Shi'ite and Sunni… Theirs is ignominy in this world and punishment in the next world.

"I left the prison of sectarianism… and turned to the concept of Allah… as a philosophy and a belief that symbolizes beauty, justice, love, virtue, and the principle of human brotherhood for all, without differentiating between Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians, Jews, or Buddhists…"
Curious liberals and religous liberals wouldn't talk about an essay like this more.

Belmont Club on Sanchez's statement

Belmont Club on Sanchez's full statement. A quote from the General,
Since 2003, the politics of war have been characterized by partisanship as the republican and democratic parties struggled for power in washington. National efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising effective, executable, supportable solutions. At times, these partisan struggles have led to political decisions that endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that political power had greater priority than our national security objectives. Overcoming this strategic failure is the first step toward achieving victory in Iraq - without bipartisan cooperation we are doomed to fail. There is nothing going on today in Washington that would give us hope.
I caught the Q and A with Sanchez after the speech and thought he got a little too coy with the reporters asking for the names and specifics on who failed America here.

Also, this earlier Belmont Club post on Sanchez's address.

Cooperation moves the public

A plug for the Shoreline Interurban Historical Society's history of the Garfield Park "L".
The first publication in the Dispatch Series is Cooperation Moves the Public, the story of the integrated operations of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and later the Chicago Transit Authority over the Garfield Park Branch of Chicago's rapid transit system until September 19, 1953. Trains were operated seconds apart "on sight" as there were no signals and no radios. This was a very complex operation, best described as cars of wood operated by men of steel pursuant to a book of rules that included a rule stating that no collision with another train will be excused.
We excuse all sorts of train wrecks in Illinois politics today and you'd be hard pressed to find men or women of steel skillfully operating much of anything complex.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's blog found an editorial in The Kankakee Daily Journal suggesting the rule book's flawed.
The first year of the four-year statewide term finds the state's three most powerful Democrats locked in a battle to determine which one of them is really in charge. Leaders do this sometimes, but the check on this bad behavior is usually the other 173 legislators who serve as ballast, pulling their leaders back to more rational positions.

But not this year. While the leaders squabble, the other 173 have been just witnesses. Why? The Kankakee Daily Journal editorialized over the weekend with a list of reasons. And their main focus? The concentration of campaign funds in the Four Tops.

"The leaders get to decide if you will have an opponent who's well-funded -- or none at all. To be competitive in a "targeted" race means $500,000 for a House seat and $1 million for a Senate seat."

Their fixes include a host of campaign finance reforms to end the concentration of money at the top: stop transfers, bar stockpiling of money, eliminate giving by gambling interests. Lastly? Limit donations, to force members to broaden their financial base and reach out to small donors.
So is this a way to run the railroad?

Mark Pera, IL-3rd and the GOP

Today's ST,
Mark Pera stopped in Chicago's Mount Greenwood recently to mingle with the community.

As a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Pera wanted to introduce himself to voters. He was warned about the potential for an unfriendly reception. Pera is a pro-choice Democrat from Western Springs. Mount Greenwood represents the heart of a heavily working-class Catholic - and by extension, pro-life - voting base. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Democrat, serves the area in Congress.

But Pera said he was surprised at the level of enthusiasm for his candidacy and the cynicism that still exists over the way in which Lipinski was placed on the ballot. Lipinski's father, former U.S. Rep. William Lipinski, retired from Congress in August 2004 when it was too late for an outsider to get on the November ballot.

The elder Lipinski personally called upon the committeemen in the district to appoint his son as his replacement. Not only that, William Lipinski had arranged for a Republican challenger to fill the opposing slot - a challenger who had no intention on campaigning or winning the election.
When the wealthy are flocking to the Democrats, doesn't it make sense for the IL GOP to quit making deals with Democrats and start seriously campaigning among people sympathetic to their principles?

Schakowsky on H.Res. 734 on corruption in the Iraqi government

H.Res. 734 expresses the sense of the House that the State Department has abused its classification authority by withholding from Congress and the American people information about the extent of corruption in the Maliki government.
Wonder if she sould sign off on a resolution about corruption in the Blagojevich government.

The link to H.Res. 734

Friday, October 12, 2007

Illinois Pancakes

A blog devoted to Illinois Pancake Houses.

It's good... they keep it updated.

The Forward: Divided Bosnia Puts Forward a Jewish Face

From The Forward about a country where we still have troops,
More than a decade after the end of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s vicious civil war, ethnic and religious divisions in the country remain stark. The Balkan nation effectively exists as two autonomous mini-states, one for Christian Orthodox Serbs and one for Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats.

The hybrid form of government has been a hindrance to national unity and made Bosnia’s aspirations to membership in NATO and the European Union all the more difficult to realize. So it is perhaps surprising that in a country divided strictly along ethnic lines, particularly one where Muslims have the greatest numbers, the international face of the government is a Jewish one.

Sven Alkalaj, one of only 600 or so Jews remaining in Bosnia, was appointed foreign minister earlier this year, putting him in the select company of Israel’s Tzipi Livni and England’s David Miliband.

Wurf While: Congressman Judy Biggert Why Aren’t You Proud To Be An American?

Wurf While seems over reaching just a bit here asking: Congressman Judy Biggert Why Aren’t You Proud To Be An American?

The merits of expanding SCHIP to the middle classes just doesn't seem the decisive issue. Certainly not decisive enough to differentiate the American from the UnAmerican. (Right Wing NutHouse covers SCHIP expansion nicely here by the way. He expressed my thoughts on the policy.)

I'd argue the progressive stand is to be more concerned about the 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 kids (estimates vary) already eligible for Medicaid who fall through the cracks. Outreach to poor kids seems more important than expansion to wealthier families. But I won't call you UnAmerican for disagreeing with me about it either.

Why Cook County built Stroger hospital vs more community clinics another decision that ought to give progressives pause as to who public expenditures for health care really benefit.

Anyway, since her Americanism questioned, I'd suggest Biggert answer with Illinois's Harold Ickes's What is an American? My post on it generates some of the most hits on my blog.

Here's Icke's' final words as true now as they were in May 1941,
What constitutes an American? Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

Americans have always known how to fight for their rights and their way of life. Americans are not afraid to fight. They fight joyously in a just cause.

Joshua Muravchik's The Past, Present, and Future of Neoconservatism

I'm always called one. So here's the final paras from Muravchik's Past, Present, and Future,
This suggests a few priorities. First, for all our failures in Iraq, we cannot afford to accept defeat there; nor do we have to. True, our more fanciful images of what Iraq would become after Saddam’s removal have gone by the boards. But there is still a world of difference between a relatively stable if troubled country and a state of anarchy.

And then there is Iran. Even if we turn a corner in Iraq, our relative success will be negated if we allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb. Once it does, not only will we be haunted by the specter of nuclear terrorism, but we may be constrained by nuclear blackmail from actions we would want to take in future chapters of the war against terror.

Next, only by enlarging our military can we base strategic decisions on military need and not on the availability of forces. How is it that a nation of 300 million cannot indefinitely sustain a force level of 150,000 in a given theater, meaning one soldier for every 2,000 Americans?

Finally, our efforts to foster democracy in the Middle East must not be curtailed but prosecuted vigorously and more effectively. True, the “Arab spring” of 2005 did not turn out to be as successful as the famous “Prague spring” of 1968. But then, it took two decades for that Prague spring to yield fruit. The modest liberalization in the Middle East and the democratic ferment that we have stirred there promise further advances if we persevere.

None of this offers a complete guide to waging the war against terror. But it does amount to a coherent approach, essentially similar to the one by means of which we won the cold war. By contrast, liberals and realists have no coherent approach to suggest—or at least they have not suggested one. That, after all, is why George W. Bush, searching urgently for a response to the events of September 11, stumbled into the arms of neoconservatism, unlikely though the match seemed. One can always wish that policies were executed better, but for a strategy in the war that has been imposed upon us, neoconservatism remains the only game in town.

New Lenox's Tim Baldermann on Springfield's proven dysfunction

Considering Durbin's well said comment,
"I wish I could blame the Republicans, but I can't figure out how to do it," Durbin joked. "I hope that they'll come to their senses and that the Democratic leaders down there will get together and compromise."
You have to wonder how far Republican's can ride the fiasco in Springfield for gain,
In announcing his entrance into the race for the 11th Congressional District seat Wednesday, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann took aim at state Sen. Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, who also is seeking the open seat.

Baldermann slammed Halvorson, who is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, for serving in a leadership role in the General Assembly at a time when the legislature has been mired in a bitter, record-setting overtime session.

“Our federal government has problems, but the last thing we need is to have the proven dysfunction of Springfield infect Washington,” Baldermann said.

Halvorson said Baldermann should keep his focus on his Republican counterparts.
Halvorson wishes she could blame Republicans too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wilfred M. McClay's review of Todd Gitlin's "The Intellectuals and the Flag"

via Belmont Club

From a review of a very good book,
This short, loosely organized collection of occasional essays makes for a surprisingly interesting and valuable book, well worth reading and pondering. Sociologist and radical activist Todd Gitlin, who has been a figure in the American Left since his Vietnam-era days in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), has made a serious effort to reflect on the failures of the American Left since the 1960s. The criticisms he puts forward here, which are inevitably self-criticisms in part, are unsparing and penetrating, made all the more memorable by his unacademic, direct, and often epigrammatic style.

Gitlin's criticism is relentless, and will win him few new friends on the Left, though it will likely energize the many enemies he already has there. He sees a story rich with irony, in which it has been precisely the Left's most triumphant expressions in contemporary American life that led it into the spiritual wasteland in which it now finds itself. And for this lost condition, he believes, the Left has only itself to blame. It embraced the smug disassociation from existing society epitomized in the sweeping call by émigré philosopher and '60s hero Herbert Marcuse for a "Great Refusal" of the confining ideals and crass manipulations of the modern capitalist political economy. But the embrace of Marcuse's influential but ill-defined slogan has amounted in practice to a "great withdrawal," a narcissistic retreat into self-proclaimed "marginality," an obsession with ever more minute forms of identity politics and the infinite "problematizing" of "truth," a reflexive opposition to America and the West, and an immurement in "theories" whose radicalism is so pure that they never quite touch down to earth—follies all underwritten and protected by the perquisites and comforts of academia.

Gitlin argues that the results may have benefited individual leftists, who have feathered their own nests quite nicely by fusing radicalism and academic careerism, but they have been unambiguously disastrous for the Left as a political force outside the academy. "If we had a manual," Gitlin remarks, "it would be called, What is Not to Be Done." The Great Refusal turns out to have been little more than "a shout from an ivory tower," an advertisement of futility that was unable to conceal the despair, paralysis, and general contempt, including self-contempt, that lay behind it.
Was nicht Tun liebe Genossen!

Mark D. Tooley: Friends of Mahmoud - The Iranian president gets a warm reception from the religious left.

The joke may not have been to far from the mark. From Tooley in the Weekly Standard,
NOT ALL OF Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's encounters in New York during his recent trip were testy. The Shiite theocrat had what the New York Times called a "warm, even friendly exchange" with 150 church officials at the United Methodist Women's Church Center for the United Nations.

One sponsor, the Mennonite Central Committee, called the gathering a "time of dialogue and prayerful reflection among the children of Abraham." A Mennonite official further explained that "mutual respect and graciousness in this conversation blunts the demonization which is part of the current rhetoric of both governments."

The meeting is the third between Ahmadinejad and his new church friends. Forty five of them had met the Iranian during his last New York visit a year ago. And 13 church officials saw him in Iran in February.

Seemingly, the church officials are fascinated and perplexed by the chief of Iran's Islamist police state. Unlike most of them, he has uncompromising theological views, especially about the end-times, about which he shares freely. Perhaps the apocalyptic dogma is bracing to these liberal religionists, who might be inwardly bored with their own mantras about endless tolerance.

"We haven't reached the point of hard truth-telling," explained United Methodist Women's Division chief Harriet Jane Olson, as reported in her news release. "But this dialogue may help to de-escalate the language of hostility, which is a necessary part of building bridges."
I knew a Communist once in the Merchant Marine who sailed on ships organized by the Union to bring relief supplies to the Soviet Union. He was watching the ship unload in Odessa and watched the guards shoot dead a kid trying to sneak inside the ship by climbing the anchor's ropes.

He quite the Party soon after and became a Mennonite in the West Burbs. I wonder what he would have thought of this story.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Petition here calling on the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the Burmese monks

via NormBlog,
There's a petition here calling on the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the Burmese monks. Please consider signing it. (Thanks: IH.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Political Cross-Dressing

Dan Erdman's review of Look Homeward, America. In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists and the growing appeal of paleo-conservative thinking among the left.
The past six years have found progressives, liberals, and socialists busily rethinking their ideologies, allegiances and priorities. The tumult of the post-9/11 world has shaken up the certainties of the right as well. The result has been what Tony Blair called 'an orgy of political cross-dressing'.

Most of the mainstream conservative intelligentsia in the US still support the 'war on terror', but even this is starting to sound strained and creaky. A significant minority weren't convinced in the first place; no less than William F Buckley Jr, founder of The National Review, wrote, on the eve of the Iraq War, that President Bush should have been 'more cautious when he spoke of the prospects for Iraq after liberation. Portugal, climbing out from monarchy soon after the turn of the century, moved towards an autocracy that lasted for 35 years, after which was the military coup, reaching an institutionalized democracy only in the late '70s.' [1]

Those on the right who agree with Buckley often come from the ranks of 'paleo-cons', isolationist, traditionalist conservatives who regard Franklin Roosevelt - whose two singular accomplishments were a more muscular internationalism and the beginnings of the modern welfare state - as a sort of traitor to something essential in American society. Lately, representatives of this tendency have gained a new confidence, as well as a new audience.
Ron Paul's the most flamboyant cross-dresser on the stage but the audience's tipping him. I wouldn't underestimate this actor's impact.

FOX News Poll: Nearly 1 in 5 Democrats Say World Will Be Better Off if U.S. Loses War

geez.. if true, that's going to be a winner for the party. via PJ Media
Nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq, according to the FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll released Thursday.

The percentage of Democrats (19 percent) who believe that is nearly four times the number of Republicans (5 percent) who gave the same answer. Seven percent of independents said the world would be better off if the U.S. lost the war.

Paratrooper Ben went to Afghanistan to protect us, now we can all help him

Saw this soldier's story on European Journal: Paratrooper Ben went to Afghanistan to protect us, now we can all help him

Gerard Alexander: Letter from Iraqi Kurdistan

From his letter in the Autumn 2007 issue of Democratyia,
Iraqis are eager for Western help. University students in Erbil and Sulaimaniya grasp at contact with the outside world. Businesspeople and political leaders are hungry for engagement with the global economy. Average citizens are desperate for foreign investment because of the employment they know it can bring. If anything, they are frustrated that Western countries have appeared shy to get more involved, or to show moral support to a people under siege from thugs who place nail-bombs in public marketplaces.

To be brutally honest, some of those who call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would quickly move on to other issues if they got their way. Once Iraq is out of their sights, it will be out of their minds and cease to exert a moral pull on them. The Kurds are not going anywhere. What they want above all is a well-grounded, long-term relationship with the United States and Western Europe. One Kurd I spoke to said that Kurds will reach out to whoever extends a hand to them, and smile back at whoever smiles at them. They know it is they who will face the violent chaos that would fill the vacuum created by a precipitate withdrawal. We should keep smiling back.

WaPo: An Incursion of Briefs at Guantanamo

The legal beagle reality of getting to the truth for those who think we torture confessions out of terrorists.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris: Dems could do far more to end Iraq war

From a very true column on Democrat's failure to speak and act truthfully about Iraq,
Galling as it may be to Democrats, Bush still can claim to be acting with more clarity and courage than the congressional majority.

He believes the Iraq war is right and has thrown away things most politicians crave — approval ratings, and potentially his reputation in history — to get what he wants.

Democratic leaders believe the war is wrong but have pursued their beliefs with a series of ginger calculations that so far have achieved no substantive changes in policy.

They are acting with the same defensive-mindedness that led many Democrats to swallow deep misgivings and vote five years ago to authorize the war in the first place.

Many Democrats on Capitol Hill are in no mood just now to be lectured by MoveOn, the group whose ad denouncing “General Betray Us” was widely perceived to have backfired badly.

Whatever one’s view on the merits of the war, however, MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser is right that his ostensible Democratic allies have defined themselves by caution.
I think Bush right, and history will find him right too. But there is no certainty to this. Only that Bush and the GOP have given up those approval ratings to do right for the country and world as they see it.

What is certain though is Democrats failure to confront with the same courage Bush has shown. Their failure corrodes our politics with Bush bamboozled the Dems into voting for war. No, it's the Democrats lack of courage and conviction at work. We can judge them now without waiting for History's verdict.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

David Brooks: The Center Holds

More on Brooks tomorrow but I want to flag this excellant column,
The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.

Finally, these Democrats understand their victory formula is not brain surgery. You have to be moderate on social issues, activist but not statist on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy. This time they’re not going to self-destructively deviate from that.

WaPo page 15: Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist"

I don't know if I'd be so optiomistic but it seems like news more worthy than page 15. via Confederate Yankee
Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday.

"I can't say there is a picture of roses and flowers in Iraq," Maliki told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "However, I can say that the greatest victory, of which I am proud . . . is stopping the explosion of a sectarian war." That possibility, he said, "is now far away."

While political reconciliation is not yet complete, he said, progress is being made. "Reconciliation is not a decision that can be made, but a process that takes continuous efforts and also needs strategic patience," Maliki said.

He said cabinet ministers who have left his government in protest will be replaced, and he expressed confidence that the Iraqi parliament will pass legislation that he, the Bush administration and Congress have demanded.

Kos: Who would you rather have lead, Bush or Ahmadinejad?

More odd Ahmadinejad posts over at Kos. At least Bush is winning now but did they really need to poll their readers on it?

via LGF

Monday, September 24, 2007

Roger Kimball: The poverty of liberalism

Kimball's last paragraph from an essay on Ahmadinejad's invite to Columbia,
The spectacle of these left-wing academics repudiating men like Larry Summers and Donald Rumsfeld even as they abase themselves scrambling to find excuses for welcoming a fanatic like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the halls of a great American University is disgusting. I think again of Bagehot's observation that "History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it." Are we really willing to let ourselves--our ideals, our way of life--be carelessly traduced by a rancid leftism so enfeebled that it can no longer distinguish between free speech and suicide? We are even now in the process of answer that question. How we answer it will determine a lot more than the issue of who gets to speak on American college campuses.

A Kossack on Ahmadinejad

Hard stuff to read. via PJMedia
I know I'm a Jewish lesbian and he'd probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush Administration that make me swoon...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Liberalism's great failure

A picture of Gay Teens executed in Iran. Columbia refuses ROTC on campus over Don't Ask Don't Tell but invites Ahmadinejad to speak. Talk about losing the moral compass.

Picture via Direland.

Columbia, Ahmadinejad, and Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh

Have to wonder if Columbia is letting Ahmadinejad speak in return for Columbia Alum and George Soro's associate Dr. Kian Tajbahsh's release yesterday from Tehran's Evin prison.

Update: Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger’s Statement About the Release of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh,
On behalf of the entire Columbia community, I want to say how relieved we are to hear of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh's release from prison in Teheran. Months ago, I joined the chorus of voices calling for the government of Iran to free Dr. Tajbakhsh – an alumnus of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation working with the Open Society Institute. In recent discussions with the Iranian Mission, I communicated that I would raise his case, among many other issues, directly and publicly if President Ahmadinejad came to speak on our campus. Dr. Tajbakhsh’s belated release on bail should not change our determination to challenge the regime’s record of unjust imprisonment and repression of such scholars, journalists and advocates working for a freer society in Iran – among them one of Columbia’s graduation speakers last year, Nobel Prize-winning human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi.
It was blackmail that got Ahmadinejad a forum at Columbia.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Senate condems's ad on Petraeus 72 to 25

Durbin couldn't bring himself to support it, and Obama dodged the vote.
To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces
Check out TPM, and again here, also World Wide

Friday, September 14, 2007

Steve Huntley connects the social conservative dots on Giuliani

Huntly in today's Sun Times,
Giuliani promises to appoint strict-constructionist jurists to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even more than the tax cuts, the high court appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito are the crowning domestic achievements of the George W. Bush presidency. The next president surely will get to make one or more high court nominations, and conservatives would like a GOP president to consolidate Bush's transformation of the court.

Social conservatives probably figure a man who won't renounce his positions on abortion, gun control and gay rights to appease them can be counted on to keep his judicial promise. And Giuliani must know that, should he reach the White House, his keeping this pledge would be as crucial to his winning a second term as George H.W. Bush's violation of his "read my lips, no tax increase" promise was to costing him re-election.

Next year looks to be miserable for Republicans. Because poll after poll shows Giuliani matching up against the Democratic contenders in the general election better than any other GOP candidate, social conservatives likely see in Giuliani the best chance to protect traditional values from arbitrary liberal judicial activism.

They know more about what's in their best interest than the Beltway beacons of enlightenment.
Also read Eric Johnson: Anti-Roe and Pro-Rudy