Sunday, December 31, 2006
I usually don't make New Year's Resolutions because they don't last but a week. I will try harder this year:
1. Don't blog about Iraq every day. Anything I say has been said by much greater minds and in much better prose. Furthermore, anything I say doesn't change the powers that be one iota.
2. Lose weight.
3. Write more poetry (the dry grizzle of rust is causing the words to grind.)
4. Lose weight.
5. Consider supporting John Edwards for Presidency. At least get on his current program at http://johnedwards.com/splash/:
We all must take responsibility and take action now to:He may be a malpractice lawyer at heart, but the above sort of summarizes the way I look at things (if you include getting the hell out of Iraq as providing moral leadership).Provide moral leadership in the world
Strengthen our middle class and end poverty
Guarantee universal health care for every American
Lead the fight against global warming
Get America and other countries off our addiction to oil
6. Lose weight
7. Work on mathematics. Work on science.
8. Lose weight.
9. Do more NYT crossword puzzles (keeps the mind spry)
10. Lose weight.
And this is what my friend thinks about it:
Saturday, December 30, 2006
First, of course, the disclaimer. He was a man who did many evil and despicable things and should have been brought to justice for what he did. However, I agree with many observers, that this should have taken place in the International Criminal Court in the Hague. (Of course, we do not subscribe to this Court for the exact circumstances that surround this execution. That is, while Saddam Hussein was responsible for many tragic deaths, so is George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney. Other than impeaching Bush and Cheney, then bringing criminal charges, which would break apart America, there is little that we can do.)
My main objection to executing Saddam Hussein is a moral issue. What may be the principal reason for the execution is Bush's desire to lend credence to his initial action of invading Iraq. I am sure that, in his mind, having history books saying that the invasion was for the purpose of removing an "evil" dictator will lend some justification to this act. Inevitably, he hopes, Hussein will be linked to the events of 9/11 as he and his administration has tried so hard to do for the last 5 years. All of this in spite of the fact that the United States was a supporter of Saddam at a time when he was doing his foulest deeds! Of this there can be no dispute. (c.f. well known picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in the mid 1980's)
Furthermore, the way in which Saddam was tried was in many respects a farce. During the whole trial up until minutes before his execution, he was in the hands of the occupying army of the United States. In spite of it being said that this was a "fair" trial, it was in many respects a kangaroo court. Whether the future views it as such remains to be seen.
In summary, Saddam Hussein should have be tried before the World Court. If found guility, as he would most certainly be, he should have been imprisoned for life with no possibility of parole. The execution only serves the purpose of emphasizing the current barbarity in Iraq, one that falls heavily at the feet of George W. Bush, his cronies and the American people.
Friday, December 29, 2006
On this point, let there be no doubt: If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism.Glenn goes on to discuss the Israeli underpinnings of Joe's desire for war with Iran. In my opinion, he does not go far enough since, at this point, open ended support of Israel by the U.S. will inevitably lead to Israel's use of a nuclear weapon against Iran as things deteriorate ("we had to nuke 'em to survive the Nazis").
What I really wanted to do, though, is to point out the tremendous fallacy in the Lieberman quote. That is, conflating Iran with al-Qaeda. Iran, along with the better part of Iraq and Lebanon, are Shiite. Al-Qaeda is most definitely Sunni (actually the core of al-Qaeda is of Sunni extremism: Wahhabism or Salafism which originated in Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country and our dearest friend.)
Where does Joe get his information? If Sunni and Shiite were going to cooperate in "terrorism" they would have cooperated in Iraq where they are killing each other in the most barbaric way.
As I said, why even read this crap any more. Just hunker down for Armegeddon.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
There is something wrong here:
ORLANDO, FLA. - Ever since Judy Clifford's parents died, she had planned to move with her husband into their Nashville, Tenn., home, which she knew so well.Hmmmm. We have a ex-Congress composed of a Republican majority that frittered away legislative time (less than 100 days a year) passing tax breaks for their buddies including an attempt at a big estate tax break for the wealthiest Americans and then they turn around do this kind of crap.
"I felt like they were still there," says Ms. Clifford, who is retired. "I could see my mother standing at the sink washing dishes and my daddy watching TV, and I wanted to stay in the house because of that."
Instead, the two-bedroom ranch-style home is for sale for $122,000, the subject of a bitter tug-of-war between the Cliffords and TennCare, Tennessee's healthcare program for the poor and uninsured. TennCare has laid claim to the home to recoup the cost of caring for Clifford's mother, who was on TennCare when she died three years ago.
In the face of soaring Medicaid costs, Tennessee and every other state are required to set up a Medicaid estate-recovery program. Many have been launched only recently, and some - like Tennessee's - are becoming more aggressive. Often, they target the home because it's all that's left after beneficiaries have spent their assets to pay for nursing-home care.
Time for the majority to stick it to the Scrooges. I'd say a progressive tax to make Trump's head spin.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
AP: Selective Service to test military draft machineryYea, right. And the Pope doesn't poo-poo in the woods.
Published: Thursday December 21, 2006
The Selective Service—the federal agency that would be integral to any draft effort by the Bush administration—will perform tests on its system equipment, the Associated Press is reporting.
Selective Service "is planning a comprehensive test of the military draft machinery, which hasn't been run since 1998," writes Kasie Hunt. "The agency is not gearing up for a draft," an agency official told Hunt, and "the test itself would not likely occur until 2009." (emphasis added)
However, if one is realistic, this may be the only way to end the War in Iraq. Jenna and not-Jenna would be eligible for the Army, just like all the other college age kids. As Bruce Springstein said: "No Retreat, No exemptions."
Hello negotiations with Iran.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
In an interview with The Washington Post, Bush said he has asked his new defense chief, Robert Gates, to report back to him with a plan to increase ground forces. The president did not say how many troops might be added, but said he agreed with officials in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill that the current military is being stretched too thin to deal with demands of fighting terrorism. (emphasis added)But, wait a minute, the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff are also against a surge!
The military chiefs do not favor a troop buildup in Iraq but see supporting and strengthening the Iraqi army as pivotal to stabilization, the Post said, citing sources familiar with the officials' thinking.Now, I am restricted by Goodwin's rule from making the obvious analogy here. Just think Stalingrad and Moscow. But another one occurs to me.
The time is October, 1854 (I had originally mis wrote "1984"), and the place is Balaclava. The British and the Turks were fighting the Russians in the Crimean War. (Think about that for a moment, the Brits, who later got decimated by the Turks at Gallipoli, were allies against Russia that would soon be linked to England by marriage. History makes for strange bedfellows.)
In a way, this is like Gettysburg. Few people, except Civil War Buffs, remember the details of the battle except that it was ferocious. Everyone should remember Lincoln's address at that battle site commemorating the soldiers there.
So, this is what people remember of the Battle of Balaclava:
Balaclava is a battle honour for all the British regiments that took part. It is usually a pre-condition for a battle honour that the battle is a victory for British arms. Balaclava was a strategic defeat. The Russians captured seven guns and at the end of the battle held the ground they had attacked. Against this the three episodes in the battle; the Charge of the Heavy Brigade, the Thin Red Line and the Charge of the Light Brigade, are such icons of courage and achievement for the British Army, that it is not surprising the military authorities awarded Balaclava as a battle honour to the regiments involved. (emphasis added)Get that, the British lost the battle. (I guess they sort of "won" the war.) I'm not sure about the charge of the Heavy Brigade, but the charge of the Light Brigade has certainly stood for the intense stupidity of throwing troops at a situation without thinking and having them decimated. All we have to do is read some of Tennyson's Poem:
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
For Bush, "winning" in Iraq is about Honour. And that Southern American concept is long, long gone.
As a final note, I was unaware that the Battle of Balaclava was where the phrase "The Thin Red Line" originated. You learn something new every day.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
So, what's going to happen in January? Supposedly, in a Democratic Republic (as opposed to a pure Democracy like Athens circa 500 BCE), the elected representatives of the people make decisions. Overwhelmingly, the people of the United States have expressed their desire to cease and desist our involvement in Iraq and to bring the 140,000 plus troops we have there home. (Some of these troops are National Guard who have been away from their families for a long time makeing "National" and "Guard" a double oxymoron.)
Of course the Boy King will say that he is Commander in Chief. He may even say that he can't be impeached in a time of War. That would be interesting.
Yes, the Boy King insists that He is the "decider" and has indicated that He will reject both the will of the people, as expressed in the hard fought election of November, 2006, and the opinion of the Iraq Study Group, which, after all, could only discover information the the Administration already knew.
This is a setup for a horrendous conflict between Bush, supported by the few cronies He has left (I predict a vast exodus of rats from the sinking ship), and Congress. (Sadly, there is some possibility that the Senate will be retained by the Republicans, at least for 3 months, blunting the intensity of the confrontation. A lot can happen in 3 months.)
No one is anxious for this confrontation. It will cause extreme anxiety both nationally and internationally. But it is clear that the course of the country has to be changed and one can simply hope that the Democratic Congress will not sit idly by if Bush decides to increase the troop level instead of beginning them home.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Iraq's al-Maliki presses reconciliation By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press WriterNow why would al-Sadr boycott a conference sponsored by his bestest ally? Well:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's army has "opened its doors" to all former members of Saddam Hussein's army, the prime minister said Saturday at a national reconciliation conference boycotted by one of his main Shiite allies, a major Sunni group and Iraq's exiled opposition.
The radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of al-Maliki's key political backers — refused to attend the meeting, as did a major Sunni group and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite. (emphasis added)
......The story is about Muqtada al-Sadr supporting the "Iraqi People’s Support Conference" in Istanbul. This was the Sunni conference held in Istanbul yesterday and the day before. Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a statement supporting it. He said that it "supports our brothers [the Ahl ul-Sunna, the Sunni people - Ali]," and that his entire concern was for the success of meetings such as this of people whose aim is:The point of all this is that we don't understand the least about Iraq. al-Sadr is a Shiite! We all thought that there was such bitter emnity between Shiite and Sunni that never the twain would meet. Now he's supporting a Sunni conference in Istanbul and spurning conference in Baghdad sponsored by the Shiite Prime Minister.
"to extricate themselves from the grasp of the occupation and of the Baathists"
He went on to say:
"I will not accept the intervention of any country in the affairs of Iraq, and will continue to reject the occupation."
How stupid we have been.
A very long assessment of the ISG report was published in al-Mada, written by `Adil `abdel Mahdi, the Iraqi vice president. `Abdel Mahdi tried to take a balanced approach towards the report, claiming that its recommendations have to be examined individually and not accepted or attacked as a package. He wrote copious comments on most of the report’s recommendations, but in a political introduction, he pointed that his main criticism of the report, and of the American behavior in Iraq in general, is the faulty knowledge Americans have on Iraq. He pointed out the report’s own admission that there are few Americans with enough knowledge of Arabic and that information-gathering practices have been less than stellar. `Abdel Mahdi added that he believes that much of the information in the report is based on ‘hearsay’ from suspicious sources, hinting that this may have tainted the report’s conclusions. (emphasis added)This really smarts. How many of you out there are scientists or work in an information based job? I bet almost all. The most important thing in science and medicine is the integrity of the data.
Over and over again we see the mighty fall because of inaccuracies in the data. The list starts at the prewar intelligence of WMD in Iraq, to the recall of pharmaceuticals (e.g. Vioxx), to Dobson's spouting of inaccurate data on gays.
All public persons should have a practice that is now common in the surgical setting: before the operation proceeds, there is a "time out" so that everyone is on the same wavelength as to what is being done and, for instance, what leg or testicle is being removed.
Why shouldn't politicians have the same "time out" before they speak or, more importantly, invade a country based on faulty data? It might save a lot of headache, not to mention lives.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I will admit, that I was pretty appalled by the editorial and was appreciative of Mr. Greenwald's commentary which put it in perspective.
Now we have the Post reporting on Senator Nelson's (D-Fla) trip to Syria to try and open negotiations with that government to extricate us from the horror that is Iraq. I am sure we will have the condemming editorial within minutes. I particularly like this quote from the White House via Tony Snow:
In a statement in President Bush's name, the White House said yesterday that Syrians deserved a government grounded in "the consent of the people, not brute force." Bush said Damascus should stop trying to undermine Lebanon's government.Yes, yes, yes. We are in favor of "consent of the people" and "release of political prisioners." But, for God's sake, let's not have consistency.
The White House also called for the immediate release of Syrian political prisoners, specifically naming Michel Kilo, Anwar al-Bunni, Aref Dalila, Mahmoud Issa and Kamal Labwani. Bush expressed concern that some ailing political prisoners are being denied health care and that others are being held in cells with violent criminals. (emphasis added)
Syria, as a Shiite State, holds the key to Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, neither of which will submit to brute force. If we haven't learned that in the last four years, we aren't ever going to learn it. You can still negotiate with a government (e.g. China) even if you, ha, ha, despise them. (China, of course, lets us implant Walmarts, stealth capitalism.)
By the way, now that we are remembering the past with Pinochet, lets also remember Christmas Bombing:
But as the music of bells and carols yield to the drums of a mounting military cadence, America about to go to war, another Christmas memory intrudes. This year marks the 30th (34th, this was written in 2002, DrC) anniversary of the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam. For people of a certain age, the thought of that unprecedented air assault, lasting from Dec. 18- 30, intermittently disturbs the tranquility of the otherwise holy season. How staggered we were at reports of the bombs falling day and night on cities across North Vietnam. Hanoi and Haiphong were especially hard hit.You see, everyone is someone's terrorist.
American pilots flew nearly 4,000 sorties, including more than 700 by high-flying B-52s. Those ''area bombers,'' incapable of precision, had never been used against cities before. That they were used now was a sure sign that this was terror bombing pure and simple. (emphasis added)
And, if you don't think nuking Iran this Christmas isn't on the table at the White House, you don't know your President.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
So, what is his legacy? How could the future possibly view him as a successful president?
1. The destruction of Iraq as a stable society. It is difficult, if not impossible to imagine the people in Iraq living in proximity after the brutality of sectarian violence that we see every day (like today in Baghdad with car bombs killing 57 and injuring 150+). Yet, some day there will be stability because that is the way that human life goes. History teaches us that the worst of enemies can often become the best of friends. It is almost impossible to imagine that Russia and Germany could have gotten along after the horrors of World War I and II, yet they do. However, Bush will not be credited with a stable Iraq 20 years down the road (is Nixon, or Johnson, credited with a stable, and friendly, Vietnam?)
All Bush wants to do now is get to the end of his presidency without Iraq going under on his watch. The cornered animal will bite off its paw to get free of the trap. Consider that George W. Bush has the ability to push the button on nuclear war. Consider that he is now obsessed with Iran and doesn't want to leave office with Iran having nuclear weapons. What next?
Conclusion: In spite of our understandable obsession with Iraq, whatever happens there will not be a significant part of Bush's legacy. Nuking Iran would be.
2. Standing by while the environment is destroyed making the planet unlivable for the majority of our children.
Disappearing ice is already causing problems for the Polar Bear and it is likely to be driven to the brink of extinction unless it can find ways of adapting.But, you know, when it hits people on the head that the East and West Coasts of America will be under water, they will do something. Will may also forget that this Administration sat idly by while New York got ready for drowning? See the discussion of Katrina below.
Conclusion: While the environment will be the issue in 20-30 years, few will give a damn about Bush's lack of contribution to solving the problem. We will have much more important things to do like staying alive.
3. 9/11. As this episode in our history recedes from our consciousness, it becomes bereft of emotion. This may be largely due to the constant reminder by Bush in his speeches. "9/11.... 9/11.... 9/11." Human beings have a way of blocking bad things and only remembering neutral or good things. Thus, I think in 10 years 9/11 will be almost forgotten, except by those who immediately suffered. And, of course, by all the NYC emergency personnel who are now experiencing long term effects from their rescue efforts. Some peoples, e.g. the Jews and the Holocaust, have a long memory. Americans don't. We forget the earthquakes, the Chicago fires, the hurricanes, etc. For crying out loud, look at Katrina (below). In summary, I think 9/11 as a part of Bush's legacy is overrated.
Conclusion: Not what Bush thinks it will be.
4. The Imperial Presidency. I am sure Bush doesn't want to be known as the President that destroyed the American Constitution. However, he has already gone a long way towards doing that. But, as an astute 89 year old friend of mine who has been in national politics for a significant portion of her life keeps reminding me, America is a resilient entity. It is only when the voters become irresponsible, and lazy, that we get in trouble (c.f. the 2004 elections.) Hopefully, the pendulum is swinging and the horror of the last six years will be reversed in the next two. I am optimistic.
Again, like Iraq, in spite of our obsession with Bush's dismantling of the Constitution, it is possible that this may be rectified by the 2008 election. Unfortunately, as Glenn Greenwald always points out, Bush has broken the law and, if we are a nation of laws, that issue has to be settled. Breaking the FISA is a felony and the punishment is imprisonment. Bush in jail?
Conclusion: In terms of his legacy, could go either way. Hard to see how it could benefit him unless he does a 180 degree turnaround in the next two years.
5. Katrina. This is much different than 9/11. The damage has not been cleaned up. Hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced. The economy of the area continues in shambles. Every single response by team Bush was inadequate. I think, particularly if the Democratic Congress makes some moves towards New Orleans and its levees, this could be a long term black eye for Bush. The difference from 9/11 is that the damage is still there.
Conclusion: Could be one of the big negatives of his legacy.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I always sort of liked Kofi Annan. He, like many others, has had to fight the underlying racism of the West. His last speech today at the Harry S. Truman library included this quote:
In the speech, Annan warns that "no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all share responsibility for each other's security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves." He describes it as important that "The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. (emphasis added)All to slowly we are heading toward a confrontation of the Law (as embodied in our Constitution) and the Imperial Presidency.
Maybe, just maybe, the Rule of Law will arise from the ashes of the last six years.
I just hope the new Democratic Congress can get it right. But, democracy is always messy, so we won't expect miracles.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Comment: I might have died and gone to heaven. Olive oil on pasta is a delight. And dark chocolate!
Health Benefits of Olive Oil (Covas MI, Nyyssonen K, Pouslen HE, et al., on behalf of the EUROLIVE Study Group. Citation: Ann Intern Med. 2006;145:333-341. )
Conclusions: Olive oil is more than a monounsaturated fat. Its phenolic content can also provide benefits for plasma lipid levels and oxidative damage.
Perspective: The daily dose of 25 ml of olive oil is similar to the dietary amount recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. The modest results help explain some of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and occurred over a short period of time in a group of healthy young persons without cardiovascular risk factors.
The added benefit of olive oil with a high phenolic content can be achieved by using virgin olive oil. Phenolic contents are lost in processing. Other foods rich in polyphenols that increase the HDL cholesterol include green tea, cocoa, and dark chocolates.
Oh, I thought that Virgin Olive Oil was, like, you know, stomped by virgins. Shows you how little I know.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Though he referred to the war in Iraq and the deaths of American troops in
that country as “criminal” in a speech on the Senate floor last night, Senator
Gordon Smith (R-OR) insists he did not mean the word to imply the conflict was a
breach of either domestic or international law, RAW STORY has learned.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
(CBS/AP) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday rejected a U.S. advisory group's conclusion that a concerted effort to resolve Israel's conflict with its neighbors will help stabilize the situation in Iraq, saying there is no connection between the two issues.
This is just two of hundreds of pictures of Iraqi children I have collected in the past few years. Every day another haunting image is posted by the news services. How can we as supposedly thinking and caring persons tolerate this constant reminder of how evil what is happening there has become?
This three year old girl was killed in "crossfire" between American troops and "insurgents." As the Iraqi bloggers at
Gorrilla's Guides are constantly reminding us, this child would not be dead if we weren't in Iraq.
There are many reasons for withdrawing American personnel. This is the best at the same time as the most tragic. We can't bring her back to life.
(Oh, and by the way Mr. Bush, this child died while you were "considering the options.")
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The point I am making is that what should effect policy in modern times should be language, not physical force. Of course this idea breaks down when we employ the military to accomplish what we are unable to do by voice. The use of voice in international affairs is, of course, diplomacy. Going to War is the ultimate breakdown in the use of language. The debacle in Iraq is an excellent example of this breakdown. The President was intent on effecting policy by the use of the military in 2003 in Iraq and, very early, abandoned any diplomacy.
Since that time, the value of words has been enormously compromised. The rhetoric of the White House, particularly directed towards the opposition party, has been intense. They have been accused of everything up to and including treason. Logical and rational proposals, such as withdrawing from Iraq, have been greeted with scorn and shouts of "Stay the Course."
Now we have the Baker Commission recommending withdrawal from Iraq, exactly the opposite of what the Administration has contended for three years. What is a citizen to do when confronted with language which is so contradictory? Who are we to believe?
It is clear when language breaks down, good government is not possible. When obfuscation becomes the currency of the times, there is no hope of unity. When, in modern society, it becomes every man, woman and child for themselves, bleak times are on us indeed.
Much more than anything else we need a Truth Commission. The American public needs to be assured when their President speaks, he speaks the truth. Another word for truth is reality.
As usual, I am not holding my breath.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
There is much speculation as to what will happen in the MidEast under various scenarios. There is no speculation, that I can see, as to what effect this will have on America. As in previous types of encounters, most recently Vietnam, I think Americans will pull back in almost completely, just when we need to be leading in things, such as global warming, that are of staggering importance.
I haven't read Jimmy Carter's book, but I understand that it has not received any reviews from the main stream press. That says something about something. I don't expect to see it reviewed in the New York Review of Books for well known reasons.
Friday, December 01, 2006
As'ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, spoke on campus Tuesday about the current state of Lebanese politics as part of a series dealing with the current situations in the Middle East.This is how the interviewer described the War in Lebanon:
This summer fighting erupted between Israel and Hezbollah, an Islamic organization based out of Lebanon, after the group entered into Israel and captured two soldiers.Excuse me. Is this an adequate explanation for a military incursion by the IDF that literally slaughtered 1,000 - 1,500 innocent civilians and where the IDF left tens of thousands of cluster bombs in the last few hours of the "incursion" which will depopulate the area for many, many years? This is an attempt to be "fair and balanced" and equates the capture of two soldiers with the devastation rendered by the IDF (much of the infrastructure of Lebanon was damaged or destroyed; much of it very far north of where Hezbollah has its forces; so much so that Human Rights Watch has entered numerous citations against the IDF).
How are we ever going to contribute to stabilization in the midEast when one of our most politically advanced universities continues to distort the reality of what has happened to these unfortunte peoples?
BEIRUT — The Lebanese government has nearly doubled the size of its security forces in recent months by adding about 11,000 mostly Sunni Muslim and Christian troops, and has armed them with weapons and vehicles donated by the United Arab Emirates, a Sunni state. (emphasis added)Bonus question: What sectarian group does Hezbollah belong to?
The dramatic increase in Interior Ministry troops, including the creation of a controversial intelligence unit and the expansion of a commando force, is meant to counter the growing influence of Iran and Hezbollah, its Shiite ally in Lebanon, Cabinet minister Ahmed Fatfat said in an interview this week.
The quiet, speedy buildup indicates that Lebanon's anti-Syria ruling majority, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, has been bracing for armed sectarian conflict since the withdrawal of Syrian forces in the spring of 2005. It also reflects growing tensions across the region between U.S.-allied Sunni Muslims who hold power in most Arab nations and the increasingly influential Shiite-ruled Iran and Hezbollah. (emphasis added)
As usual, we can't do anything right. We should make Peace with the Shiites, they are in charge in Iraq and Iran. Why pick sides?
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Who and what does this man actually represent? He is the Prime Minister of Iraq but what does that actually mean? As best as I can see from the the news and multiple blogs, he has almost no power. Can he tell the officers of the "Iraqi Army" what to do? Is he like Bush in that he is Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Army?
What use was there for him to meet with Bush other than to be humiliated. Bush and his cronies are now actually trying to place the blame on this poor man for the disaster that is Iraq. Who leaked the secret Intelligence memo to the NYT? If I was al-Mailiki I would have caught the first plane back. But back may not be the safest place for him to be these days.
The idea that somehow things will just go along and eventually get better when the streets of Baghdad yield 50-100 bullet riddled corpses a night, many with signs of torture, is just insane. Bush must believe very strongly in deus ex machina, in spite of there being no crane in the wings with the gods, either literally or figuratively.
And, what the heck is it with this guy's being unshaven? Is it a compromise between the West and the requirement of a beard in Islam? Or is he just being Don Johnson Miami Vice cool?
And one more thing from here:
Al-Malaki said he reassured Bush of "the government's resolve to impose the government's authority, bring stability, hold to account outlaws, and limit the possession of arms to the hands of the government."What's he going to do about Charleton al-Heston and the IRA (Iraqi Rifle Association). Their Constitution says they have the right to bear arms. Right?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I was struck by this report from Colorado:
Pagosa subdivision bans peace wreathNow I can understand how some dyed in the wool advocates of War can protest, at Christmas time, about a peace symbol. After all, it is the same mind set that got us into this mess to begin with. But that last accusation, a symbol of Satan, well, that threw me.
By Robert Weller
The Associated Press
DENVER — In a town in scenic southwestern Colorado, homeowners are battling over whether a Christmas wreath that includes a peace sign is an anti-Iraq war protest or a promotion of Satan. (emphasis added)
I am almost certain that the peace symbol that we now are familiar with arose in the 1950's with the antinuclear movement in Britain, spearheaded by Bertrand Russell. In the U.S. it included Linus Pauling on its roster. Everyone is familiar with:
And I am almost equally sure that this sign came from the semaphore sign for the letter "N" (as in Nuclear):
This local controversy is just another manifestation of the Christianist movement, so ably commented on by Glenn Greenwald, Tristero on the subject (at Hullabaloo) and others. Christianism has been around in America for quite some time. It is the same impulse behind the Klu Klux Klan, Father Coughlin, the John Birch Society, and, more recently, the fundamentalist movement with Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Moral Majority morphing into the Christian Coalition, and even Opus Dei. In addition, it is the impulse behind a President of the United States, which has a Constitution separating organized Relition and the State, claiming seriously that he "talks with God."
In is my belief that all of these groups subvert the normal human craving for spirituality, which finds its most common expression in formal religion (Chritianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Animism, etc. (Judaism is #12)) and direct it, as is well described in the blogs mentioned above, towards political aims. This perversion of Christianity into Christianism is most prevlalent in America. It leads to this absurd linking of the the Peace symbol, which was also, it must be confessed, a political symbol, with the bugaboo of all major religions, the devil:
Cross of Nero - Or Peace sign. Another sign that mocks the cross of Jesus. Also know as "The Dead Man Rune". It appears on the tombstones of some of Hitler's SS troops.But, and it is a big but, the people who consider the Peace symbol satanic also consider almost every other iconic symbol satanic, probably including this one.
Here is the offending wreath itself:
Saturday, November 25, 2006
OPT: Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military AttacksAnd the bombing of innocent people is lawful, Ms. Whitson? What about Lebanon last summer. Oh? You forgot. I realize that you famous jurist (I suppose). Since you report from Jerusalem, I guess we know which "side" you're on, as if there should be "sides" when it comes to civilians. And,you are right, all Palestinians are terrorists and all terrorists, even suspected terrorists, even elected officials of Hamas, should be killed, in that strange, twisted world you live in.
(Jerusalem, November 22, 2006) Palestinian armed groups must not endanger Palestinian civilians by encouraging them to gather in and around suspected militants homes targeted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Human Rights Watch said today. (emphasis added)
According to media reports, on Saturday the IDF warned Mohammedweil Baroud, a commander in the Popular Resistance Committees, to leave his home in the Jabaliya refugee camp as they planned to destroy it. Baroud reportedly summoned neighbors and friends to protect his house, and a crowd of hundreds of Palestinians gathered in, around, and on the roof of the house.
There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful.
Here comes my suggestion. Why doesn't Human Rights Watch supply the Palestinians with F-16's, or better, tactical nuclear weapons, so that they can defend themselves?
Friday, November 24, 2006
At this point, it is not a question of a good solution, or even a neutral solution. It is just a question of what is the least bad of any solution that is proposed. I think getting the American and British armies out of Iraq is imperative. That this will be difficult is without question. That there will be open sectarian strife as a result, well, there is full blown civil war as we speak.
Is there any possibility that the U.N. could serve as keepers of the peace, what little there is? We have so castrated the U.N. that it is probably impossible for it to do so. Which country would send their troops into the jaws of hell?
The innocents among the Iraqi people, and there are many, half the population is below 25, continue to suffer a catastrophe of our making.
In the meantime, Walmart is offering sales. The American public lives on another planet.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
1. The Democratic Party. It achieved victory in the November election issuing a clear statement that the majority of Americans do not approve of the way their government is being run. While the champagne corks are still popping, it is important to recognize that the real battles will come in January when the new Congress sits. Will there be substantial change? Or, will Bush fight tooth and nail (using the veto and the filibuster) to impeded the will of the majority. It is more likely every day, given his rhetoric, that he will precipitate a constitutional crisis over the power of the so-called unitary presidency. At least it will distract him from killing people and put the lie to all his high blown talk of establishing democracy in other countries.
2. Children. As I become older, they become the only thing worth living for. They are always "up" unless they are sick. They develop at an astounding rate and they can always be counted on to say something off the wall. They also are very observant, even though we think they are oblivious. If they are nurtured, they usually turn out good. If they are not, it is a sadness that is hard to bear.
3. Family. It is worth while remembering that everyone has family. The Shiite and the Sunni; the Palestinian and the Israeli; those in Nepal and Darfur, Norway and South Africa; Eskimo and Aborigine. How we forget.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Now here is something from Arms Control Wonk:
In January and March 2006, I blogged about stories by James Sterngold in the San Francisco Chronicle suggesting plutonium, much like Sophia Loren, ages extremely well—remaining quite, um, fissile for at least 60 years.Now this is important for the following reason: there is really only one way that our planet is going to avoid the unholy threat of mass extinction from nuclear weapons, and that is to have a moratorium on testing new weapons (i.e. the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.) This treaty, as many have pointed out, has been negotiated and signed by many nations including the U.S. Unfortunately, it has not been ratified by the U.S. Is there a hope that it will be with a new Senate? Don't hold your breath.
A new study from Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore finds plutonium ages much better than Ms. Loren, remaining viable fissile material for at least 90 years.
I have never thought through the import of what might happen if the CTBT was signed, ratified and implemented, even thought my brother has worked on this for the past 5 years. It is unlikely, at least in the short run, that countries like the U.S. or Israel would destroy their bombs. No, the military is much to fond of them. But the fact that the bombs would age and become obsolete (any bombs made in the 50's and 60's would now be very suspect, even with a 90 year tag). Why, that is just wonderful information.
Nature has provided us with unplanned obsolescence of nuclear weapons. If only we could implement it.
Monday, November 20, 2006
In the past six months, Israel and the United States have also been working together in support of a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan. The group has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran,So, in a nutshell, Israel and the United States are funding terrorist activity in Iran. But, oh:
(The Pentagon has established covert relationships with Kurdish, Azeri, and Baluchi tribesmen, and has encouraged their efforts to undermine the regime’s authority in northern and southeastern Iran.) The government consultant said that Israel is giving the Kurdish group “equipment and training.” The group has also been given “a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the U.S.” (An Israeli government spokesman denied that Israel was involved.) (emphasis added)
Such activities, if they are considered military rather than intelligence operations, do not require congressional briefings. For a similar C.I.A. operation, the President would, by law, have to issue a formal finding that the mission was necessary, and the Administration would have to brief the senior leadership of the House and the Senate.So, once more we have the Imperial Presidency. Or, more euphemistically, the Unitary Presidency. Once more no Congressional oversight which is very clearly stated in our Constitution (which, I am sure, Bush has never read.)
It is ironic that most of the founders of our country were Deists, or, close to being Unitarian. We have come full circle, except it isn't about being a good man. It is the opposite.
And one more thing, if you didn't think the above was ironcial enough:
The view that there is a nexus between Iran and Iraq has been endorsed by Condoleezza Rice, who said last month that Iran “does need to understand that it is not going to improve its own situation by stirring instability in Iraq,” and by the President, who said, in August, that “Iran is backing armed groups in the hope of stopping democracy from taking hold” in Iraq. (emphasis added)Now if Iran was arming Zapata, that would be a different story, wouldn't it. Insurgent activity in South Texas doesn't sound so nice.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Why are some men heros and others, like myself, not? This was brought home to me when I read this report of three brave men getting jailed for protesting the presence of 150 nuclear tipped missles under the farmland of North Dakota:
Three men protesting the presence of weapons of mass destruction in North Dakota were sentenced to federal prison terms of over three years and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution by a federal judge in Bismarck. The three dressed as clowns and went to the Echo-9 launch site of the intercontinental Minuteman III nuclear missile in rural North Dakota in June 2006. They broke the lock off the fence and put up peace banners and posters. One said: "Swords into plowshares - Spears into pruning hooks." They poured some of their own blood on the site, hammered on the nuclear launching facility and waited to be arrested.One was a priest and it reminds me of those other protests so long ago led by Phillip and Daniel Berrigan.
During their trial, the men openly admitted to trying to disarm the nuclear weapon. They pointed out to the jury that each one of these missiles was a devastating weapon of mass destruction, a killing machine precisely designed to murder hundreds of thousands. Testimony by experts about the illegality of these weapons of mass destruction under international law, and their effects, were excluded by the court and never heard by the jury. (emphasis added)
The judge challenged Greg Boertje-Obed's (one of the protestors, DrC) decision to take actions that risked a year in prison instead of staying home with his family. "Why would one leave a wife and daughter at home to engage in juvenile acts of vandalism to protest nuclear weapons? I would think your commitment to your family should far outweigh your calling to such actions." Greg's wife, Michelle Naar Obed, was in the courtroom during this exchange. After the sentencing was over, Michelle shook her head and said, "If Greg had left us his for a year and risked his life to go to war to kill people, no one would question him - they would call him a hero! But, because he risked time in jail to act out his convictions for peace, people question his commitment to his family. That is a tragedy."
This also segues into the post below about the rule of law (Who does this man speak for?), and Digby's post yesterday about the rising of the ghoul Edwin Meese.
To use the vernacular, we be in for hard times.
TPM Muckrater points us to the following report:
In an unexpected move, a judge granted a request Thursday from David Safavian, the former head of the Office of Management and Budget's procurement policy shop, for a stay of his prison sentence, pending an appeal of his June conviction of obstructing justice and making false statements.So, if you protest for peace against the most horrendous weapons that mankind has ever known (far more deadly than flying an airplane into a skyscraper) then you go to jail. If you are in the White House and commit a crime, you go free. We might as well not have Courts and Justices anymore, what a farce.
Chertoff says U.S. threatened by international lawYou cannot have it both ways. You cannot sponsor and support an organization (the United Nations), and sign the treaties created by agencies of that body, staffed in many cases by Americans (e.g. the NPT, outer space treaty, ABM treaty, chemical warfare treaty, etc, etc, etc,) and then turn around and nullify those treaties because they have some utterly remote chance of increasing a terrorist attack.
By David Morgan- Reuters
Nov 17, 2006 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top Bush administration official on Friday said the European Union, the United Nations and other international entities increasingly are using international law to challenge U.S. powers to reject treaties and protect itself from attack. (emphasis added)
Exactly the opposite, those treaties, if fully enforced, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) signed by Clinton but not ratified by the Senate, would go very far to preventing terrorism.
In fact, an argument can be made that the very reason we have terrorism is because we are the arrogant ass of the world and have thumbed our nose at its laws, including those prohibiting torture. And, this tasty tidbit from the imploding Republican Party:
McCain: Bush Admin Breaks Laws to Hide Global Warming DataThe simple suggestion is made to Mr. Bush: Return to the rule of Law, or face impeachment.
"They're simply not complying with the law. It's incredible."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) raised eyebrows yesterday with that comment regarding the Bush administration, made before a crowd of several hundred at a Washington, D.C. event.
(Note: Chertoff should be spending more time tending his back yard, i.e. New Orleans, before mouthing drivel off his front porch.)
Friday, November 17, 2006
Then go to America Blog: http://americablog.blogspot.com/
and read the commentary. Realize this is happening in America
much, much worse happens in Iraq every day.
Israel developing anti-militant "bionic hornet"Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:24 AM GMTAnd next we will have the mini bomb. Just think what will happen of Osama bin Forgotten had one!
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is using nanotechnology to try to create a robot no bigger than a hornet that would be able to chase, photograph and kill its targets, an Israeli newspaper reported on Friday.
The flying robot, nicknamed the "bionic hornet," would be able to navigate its way down narrow alleyways to target otherwise unreachable enemies such as rocket launchers, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth said.
At least it would make the Pentagon's budget manageable.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Vatican enters Muslim veil debate
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome
Italy has a law against wearing masks in public
A senior Vatican cardinal has expressed concern over the use of some Muslim veils by Islamic immigrants in Europe.
"It seems elementary to me and it is quite right that the authorities demand it," said Cardinal Martino, who heads the Vatican department dealing with migration issues.
That is, when in Rome, do as the Romans do and when in Baghdad:
I mean, it was just 9 days ago for crying out loud that the Dems came out of obscurity and now:
US plans last big push in Iraq
Bolton predicts he would win Senate vote on U.N. post
Democrats to renew tax breaks
You know, we didn't even get to see the beach at Maui.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
They are out there beating the drums:
LONDON (Reuters) - The United States or other countries will one day be forced to consider pre-emptive action if Iran and North Korea continue to seek nuclear weapons, a senior U.S. government official said on Tuesday.First of all, other countries in the region have nuclear weapons. Israel has over 200! Many of the Union formerly known as Soviet states gave up their nuclear weapons, supposedly in exchange for peace. Are we sure?
If North Korea refused to renounce its nuclear program and Iran developed a nuclear weapons capability, it would lead other countries in their regions to seek nuclear weapons, said the U.S. official, speaking on condition he was not identified.
"We, the United States, and others who might be threatened by these developments will have to look at how to respond and inevitably I think people will have to look at the question of pre-emption," the official told reporters. (emphasis added)
Secondly, a pre-emptive invasion will be with nuclear weapons. Does anybody want that? (except the children in the Pentagon with their toys.)
The President of the United States won't talk to Iran and Syria. Both are obviously thinking of going nuclear. Who wouldn't, with the example of Iraq in ruins on their doorstep.
Bush is convening his own Iraq Study group. What? I think that the man is certifiable. Even his own father can't control him.
What I worry about the most, though, is religion. While Bush was riding high, when he could do anything he wanted, he allowed that what he was doing was the work of the Lord, with whom he had personal communication. What now??? Has God abandoned him? How will he justify his actions now that things aren't going the way God wanted them to?
"Eli Eli lema sabachthani"