Thursday, December 31, 2009

A J Muste on World War 2 and Conservative Nostrums

A fellow at Meadville-Lombard's Peace Making Symposium asked me why Political Conservatives so quick to resort to War. He hadn't grown up in the midwest where Colonel McCormick's ghost still lingers (my friend didn't know McCormick either). Democrats caused wars. Wilson and WW1, FDR and WW2, Truman and Korea, JFK/LBJ and Vietnam. An oft heard conservative nostrum in middle America. My Dad told me (a generational agreement on Vietnam). Bob Dole --who I sometime thinks channels my Dad-- repeated it not so many years ago.

My congressman expressed a similar Isolationism about Iraq when he said America has no business getting involved in Iraq's thousand years civil war. A Democrat claiming Bush started the War, we had to business fighting. I heard the same belief in emails to me in Iraq from Church members. Americans have no business in the Europe's or the Middle East's or SE Asian's anyone else's wars. Let those Asian boys fight them as LBJ tried to triangulated the sentiment. Let the Iraqi's fight their own civil war.

When the Military Voices group met, and folks explained their Churches efforts to honor Vets in special services, I suggested we ought to have another service to hear the voices of those opposed to these Wars. Hear their reflections now. Repeat the words they wrote then.

I get mixed reviews on those thoughts. Sometimes I'm told no one, or hardly anyone, opposed America's entry into WW2. America was united then, in a way not today.

I doubt that. Paul Fussell's The Boys' Crusade dispelled that nostrum for me. Read Fussell's analysis of the troop morale reports and how many understood why America was fighting Germany.

So, to try and recapture some of those anti-War voices, and to hear what they were saying during the war --recall sedition laws were enforced then-- I'm going to try and reclaim some of those voices and post them.

For starters, fellow Dutch-American and Hope College Grad --still remembered by Hope too with lectures in his name on War and Peace-- AJ Muste. Here are some thoughts on what Muste believed during the War via Ira Chernus,
Muste pointed out that if the U.S. destroyed Germany, it would have to impose a long military occupation and deny democracy to the Germans, or else risk another war. Moreover, the victorious Allies would inevitably resume their domination of the world's economic resources, perpetuating the inequities that had led to the war in the first place. Listening to the pronouncements of U.S. and British leaders during the war, Muste heard a vision of "American-British military domination of the earth," to protect their economic advantage. Indeed, he said, all possible outcomes of the war would lead to more enmity, not the world community that U.S. leaders publicly advocated. Capitalism would be preserved and its rule strengthened. A return to the familiar pre-war capitalist system, buttressed by a massively militarized state, would lead to more economic depressions. (Many pro-capitalist observers agreed with him on this point.) Then there would be either "a period marked by chaos and incalculable woe", or the imposition of totalitarian-style controls¾ the very thing the war was supposed to prevent. Eventually, just as after World War I, the bitterness and hardship created by this war would sow the seeds of the next.

[***]

Some of Muste's predictions about the postwar era were accurate. The European imperial systems did collapse. There was a new war. Although it was a cold war, it did bring a vast militarization of U.S. society. And it brought more insecurity to many millions of people. But it would be hard to argue that World War II created, in any sense, the kind of total disaster or world "suicide" that Muste predicted. He took the post-World War I era as his model, expecting it to be replicated on a larger scale. But it did not happen that way. There was no economic depression. Nor were there social revolutions in Europe. And the defeated nations made no effort to strike back at the victors militarily. Muste's views proved to be excessively apocalyptic. This was true, in part, because the U.S. government made sure it did not happen. Ironically, U.S. leaders were acting out of apocalyptic fears surprisingly similar to Muste's, though of course they blamed the supposed threats on quite different factors than he did.
So when we honor the Vets, we ought consider another service, and recall those opposed. Read them, and ask ourselves what would have happened had we followed their paths. The notion America was headed for a huge economic collapse absent the War Time stimulus, and potentially Fascism, was a widespread thought on both the left and right in War Time America.

Why that didn't happen an important thing to understand.

Why Muste's forecast didn't fully come true; the result of Muste's any many others profound misunderstanding of Americans and our institutions.

We're not going to understand his failure if we don't resurrect these voices, and a service bringing them back-to-life a nice way to start that appraisal. War didn't begat more war, but fear of another did begat an absense of War: And the defeated nations made no effort to strike back at the victors militarily. Muste's views proved to be excessively apocalyptic. This was true, in part, because the U.S. government made sure it did not happen.

Make sure it does not happen... that's what America did, and still tries today. We forget that if we forget the critic A J Muste.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sen. Feinstein: Halt transfers to Yemen

via The Hill

Too bad Americans have to relearn this stuff again and again. These guys are at war with the United States and belong in Gitmo for the duration. There not criminals. They're warriors, and captured warriors belong in Gitmo.
The senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee wants no more Guantanamo Bay detainees released to Yemen in the wake of a Christmas day terrorist attack hatched in that country.

“Guantanamo detainees should not be released to Yemen at this time,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “It is too unstable.”

Feinstein’s warning comes just nine days after the Department of Justice announced the most recent transfer of 12 detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan, Yemen and Somaliland. Six of the 12 were transferred to the government of Yemen.

Police smashed a protester in Ashoura Day in 27 Dec. 2009 زیر کردن مردم با ماشین توسط مزدوران نیروی انتظامی

What in the world Sen. Kerry is going to go over there and say about this is beyond me. Iranian cops smash and drive over an unarmed protester. H/T Freedom Fighter Iran.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Document states Khamenei & regime authorities preparing to escape to Russia

Leaving a sinking ship? Pray its true. For Iranian people and the world's peace. Via Planet Iran. H/T Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

Iran Global website has exposed a document that discloses information on Khamenei and various authorities of the regime’s possible escape to Russia.

The document is on the National Security Agency of the Islamic regime’s letterhead addressed from the office of the High Assembly of the Islamic Republic’s National Security official [name is redacted] to an individual [name redacted] in the revolutionary guards. The letter is dated 6th of Dey (December 27th).

It reads:

Re: Response to a letter number [redacted] written on the 5th of Dey (December 26th).

Salam Aleykom

With respect, we would like to inform you of the inspection, check up and preparation of the aircraft, destination Russia, for the purpose of transporting the Supreme Leader, his esteemed family and various officials of the Revolutionary Guards. Should the commanding forces lose control, direct your attention to the attached permit, number [redacted] of the National Security Agency and the Bureau of Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Security in order for the necessary steps to be taken.

Va al-salam

Office of the high assembly of the Islamic Republic’s national security

Commander, Brigadier-General, Revolutionary Guard

Stamped by Secretary General of the High Assembly of the Islamic Republic’s National Security

Stamped by Dr. Saeed Jalili

CC: [redacted]

Bob Herberts: A Less Than Honest Policy; for Marry in Mass

Herbert writes what's been obvious all along: Health Care reform is a gimmick to suppress America's demand for care. It will be a catastrophe for Dems and a horrible wake up for Marry and Mass. The two of use have a bet going about this comment,
This is a fabulous moment for Democrats. The Republicans have shown they are indifferent or hostile to the health and economic needs of the majority of Americans. Their puerile and bullying obstruction on health reform is a great object lesson and teaching moment. If they would destroy the chance for even modest improvements in health care for perhaps 31 million fellow citizens to harm progressives and Obama, they need to be called on it.

Already they are talking about how they can use this moment to gain seats in the mid-term election and aim for the Presidency in 2012. I think not.

Let the Dems call them out. The GOP threw the big finger repeatedly at the public. Let the Dems say it. Republicans in Congress spit on decency, common sense, and compassion for Americans. Let the Dems make them pay politically.
Well, Bob Herbet is saying something and it's not pretty: A Less Than Honest Policy
There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate’s version of President Obama’s effort to reform health care.

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.
And after explaining it, Herbert concludes,
The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it.

Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people.
It will take Democrats years to get out from under this sorry bill, if they even can. Herbert sees it. Every American will sooner rather than later if this bill gets signed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

RIP Gul Mohammad

Photo via The Dawn. Quote below via Bill Roggio's Long War Journal,
The Taliban tortured and executed a tribal leader who raised forces to battle the Islamic extremists in Pakistan's contested tribal agency of Bajaur.

The body of tribal leader Gul Mohammad was found in the Salarzai region in Bajaur. Mohammed was reportedly tortured and then strangled to death.

The Taliban pinned a note to Mohammed's body that said "the man was spying for security forces and anybody found involved in anti-Taliban activities will meet the same fate," Dawn News reported.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/12/taliban_execute_baja.php#ixzz0aw9ZviUz

Teheran: “Aren’t you ashamed to beat and kill your own people?”

via Times OnLine: Fears of bloody endgame in Iran as five are killed in street battles,
Another witness told The Times how a middle-aged woman emerged from a cornered crowd and yelled at the police: “Aren’t you ashamed to beat and kill your own people?”

“To our surprise two of them admitted they were ashamed and were doing this only for money. The head of the squad then asked that we go home because he did not want to have to give the order to have us beaten,” the witness said.
A lot rides for World Peace on taking down this bloody Regime. It's lost confidence itself. How the world plays the exit here critical.

تهران - عاشورا 14 / Aashura: Tehran, Vali Asr- Dec 27

via Mir Hossein Mousavi میر حسین موسوی

Slogans at Iranian Protests

via In defense of Freedom of Speech in Iran twittering a revolution.
#Ashura #Iranelection Some of the chants heard on the streets today have included: “Ya Mahdi! Eradicate the roots of oppression!”, “This is the month of blood! Seyed Ali [Khamenei] is going down!”, “Down with the Dictator!”, “We are not from ‘Koofeh’ to support Yazid!”, “Rape, Murder, Down with the Jurisprudence!”, “Di...ctator should know, he will be toppled very soon!”, and “Death to Khamenei”, among others.

فیلم کامل درگیری های سیرجان و غیور مردانش Sirjan: Bloody clashes in Sirjan leave five dead and dozens wounded

Amazing video from Sirjan of protestors cutting down two men about to be hung.



via NCR,
NCRI - The Iranian Resistance strongly condemns bloody suppression of defenseless people in Sirjan, central Iran, which has left dozens killed or wounded and calls for an international probe.

On Tuesday, December 22, the scene of a public hanging of two prisoners, Esmail Fathi-Zadeh and Mohammad Esfandiarpoor, in Sirjan turned into a confrontation between protesting people and the suppressive forces. Local residents and families of the two prisoners confronted the suppressive forces by hurling stones and chanting slogans.

During the clashes yesterday morning, people took advantage of the chaos and removed the prisoners from the scene set up for their hangings. According to earlier reports on Tuesday, one of the prisoners was thought to have been killed.

Having lost the control of the situation, the suppressive forces mobilized more of their agents across the city and re-captured the two prisoners and brought them back to the hanging ropes.

Local residents were angered by the regime’s henchmen and became more fierce in their protest against the hangings. In fear of the escalation of unrest, the suppressive forces opened fire on defenseless people killing at least five and dozens more were wounded. A number of the wounded were taken to hospitals in Kerman, the provincial capital. Some of the wounded are in critical state. A group of local residents and families of the two have been arrested. During the clashes, a number of vehicles belonging to the suppressive forces were set on fire.

The intelligence agents were deployed at the entry points to the city to control the traffic and helicopters were hovering over the city and the main roads to monitor the situation.

The Iranian Resistance calls on all international human rights organizations, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to condemn deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and dispatch an international fact finding mission to probe the bloody suppression in Sirjan.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
December 23, 2009

Ashura Protests in Iran

Pictures via Revolutionary Road's facebook page. Some very graphic so be warned. The Regime is shooting the protestors now. President Obama needs to pull out that Nobel Prize speech and speak out.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar: I Am Convinced that the Regime Will Collapse

From an intreview in Der Spiegel I'm guardedly optimistic for the first time in a long time. I hope Obama doesn't bungle things with the opposition once the wheels fully come off the regime.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunny and Gene

From the Prolog to Arlene's new novel. Looks like it starts at the Hospital my kids were born at. Good luck with the book Arlene, and Merry Christmas. Hope Hollywood finds you!
~1985~

The sound of the baby crying had been going on for hours. His intense screams filled the otherwise quiet hallways of Austin General Hospital. Located on the WestSide of Chicago in the rapidly gentrifying community of West Austin, Austin General or A.G. as it was nicknamed by the staff had quickly gained a reputation as “the place” to give birth in all of the Chicagoland area.

The nursery was the center hub of the third floor maternity ward. Its waist-to-ceiling clear glass windows topped a bay-shaped viewing area that allowed parents and visitors to observe the infants at all times. The walls were tinted in the softest of green color so that they radiated both warmth and calm to those who beheld it. The space beneath the window area was configured to hold four to six of the specially designed Lucite bassinets. Each bassinet was custom embossed with the A.G. signature crest—a physician with outstretched hands holding a naked newborn baby while the mother laying in bed reaches her arms out to embrace it.

Normally the nursery was filled with at least four infants. But tonight in a rare moment of delivery room slowdown, the only occupant was a newborn baby boy. Swaddled in receiving blankets, wearing a sky blue skullcap and barely six-hours-old, he had done a stellar job of making his presence known to anyone entering the floor.
read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bill Roggio: If we had just left the Islamic Courts alone...

Roggio in full... I hope he's ok with it.
The photo above, taken by a Reuters stringer, serves as a gruesome reminder of the nature of radical Islamist groups and the failure to oppose them. Here is the Reuters cation:

Militants from Hizbul Islam haul the bloodied body of Mohamed Ibrahim, 48, from a chest-deep pit after stoning him to death for illicit sexual intercourse with a woman in the Afgoye district, Somalia on December 13, 2009. Ibrahim was sentenced to death by a local Islamic court after he was found guilty of infidelity.


Keep this photo in mind when Martin Fletcher, Matthew Yglesias, the Los Angeles Times, and a host of pundits attempt to pin the blame for the rise of Islamic extremism and the al Qaeda-linked Shabaab in Somalia on the US. Hizbul Islam, which is led by al Qaeda-linked Hassan Dahir Aweys, co-led the Islamic Courts with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who is now the President of Somalia, before it was ousted by Ethiopian forces in December 2007. The Islamic Courts was by no means a moderate group when it assumed power in the spring and summer of 2006. The Islamic Courts conducted suicide attacks, had women stoned to death for adultery, murdered people in theaters for watching soccer, and committed a host of other outrageous crimes that mirrored what the Taliban have done and still continue to do.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2009/12/if_we_just_left_the_islamic_co.php#ixzz0aZGYcBRr
I didn't download the photo. Go look though in case you doubt the nature of our foe.

Jim Wallis and The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch For Peace

I replied to an odd message on Jim Wallis's blog about the 1914 Christmas Truce and just thought the spirit and form of a Christian celebration may not be the most thoughtful response, as we wage war alongside Muslim allies against a Radical Islam. Unthoughtful whether one supports President Obama's Surge or believes it's "Out Now" in Afghanistan. You can follow the exchange here.

I'd much rather the left turn to Islamic sources of Liberalism and Pacifism than rely on our western themes. The Northwest Frontier gave us Badsha Kharn, a contempory and student of Ghandi, and his followers today in the NWF suffer mightly at the hands of the Taliban.

Here's a link to a film on his life.

The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch For Peace

Sunday, Jun 14th 5:00pm

$11

This dramatic documentary tells the extraordinary tale of Muslim peacemaker Badshah Khan, a reformer who helped shape India's modern political, social and spiritual landscape. Born into Pashtun warrior society, Khan managed to raise a nonviolent army of 100,000 men, women, and youngsters as he struggled for India’s independence alongside Gandhi.

Shot in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, this eye-opening film includes rare historical footage, remarkably candid interviews from world leaders, and a score by world music pioneer David Amram. This film is a co-production of the U.S. and Canada.

In English, Urdu, Dari, Pashto, and Hindi with English subtitles.

Directed by T.C. McLuhan
2008, 92min

That this man so little known today, and the plight of the party that follows his ideals so ignored, a huge tragedy.

Setting Ourselves up for Keillor

Rev Thom writes,
It is the part about being vague, fuzzy, and refusing to stand for anything that I take issue with. These comments are insulting. They are cheap shots. And they are false. Our theology is not vague, but complex. When we reject simple ideas about God and the afterlife it may seem like vagueness. In fact, it is not. The truths in life cannot be easily summed up in a few short phrases and when we attempt to do that we diminish God. To embrace paradox is not the same thing as being vague.

However, it is the part about not standing for anything in particular that is the most patently false. Want to see what we stand for? Check out the Standing on the Side of Love campaign for starters.

Unitarian Universalists have been the leading religious voice for marriage equality in the United States. On this issue we possess moral clarity and we have shown up time and time again.
Sadly, what Rev Thom cites here: Standing on the Side of Love, and Marriage Equality; aren't stands of any sorts, much less statements of discernment and clarity. They're slogans deliberately vague to persuade, and therefore easily ridiculed. Keillor doesn't hate us, as just see our occupation with finding new language an easy target for comedy.

The comic speaks to deeper truths everyone sees. Our passion for finding new languages of theology sometimes gets in the way of unspoken truths. Anyone married more than once, knows one marriage hardly equals the other, so when we say Marriage Equality we're not speaking towards a Theology of Marriage that allows a UU Church to marry two men, or two women. We're speaking a muddle, and everyone knows. They have to stop and ask what our slogan means and that's the comic's moment to turn the joke.

I don't listen to Keillor. I've never found his sarcasm or cynicism entertaining. But a muddled voice posing Prophetic a tempting target for mockery in comic America. Not hated, but rediculed, and no way to grow a Church for sure.

The Guardian: Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri

From the obit in the The Guardian,
His political opposition to injustice may represent an important act of defiance. But what Montazeri would wish to be remembered for may be his attempt to change the basis of Shia jurisprudence from protecting the right of the faithful to protecting the right of the citizens. This made him issue a historic statement earlier this year calling for respect for the right of the Baha'i people in Iran as citizens of the country. No other leading theologian has ever dared to issue such fatwa. He expanded the boundaries of Shia jurisprudence into the realm of human rights and wrote a book on the subject. He may not have become the leader of Iran, but he led conservative jurists into new areas in order to reform old rules
Squaring Sharia with Modernity every Theologian's task whatever the faith and legal tradition; including our own as UUs.

Also, Interview with Ayatollah Montazeri about 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners
گفتگو با منتظری در مورد کشتار زندانیان سیاسی در تابستان۶٧

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where's the Family in the Peace Making draft?

Considering family life is where most of us learn to resolve disputes peacefully, or fail to learn that skill; it's curious the latest Peace Making draft omits any reference to family life. It seems to me broken families failing to socialize their male members a sure source of violence. More focus on families and gender roles might offer some better and practical insights on paths towards peace than I believe the current SOC offers.

The Deerslayer's Back (and lining up for some Awards)

My earlier post on Hurt Locker: The Deerslayer's Back.

And it's winning awards. Here's Ebert,
"The Hurt Locker," Kathryn Bigelow's compelling film about a death-defying bomb disposal unit in Iraq, swept the field Monday as the 57 members of the Chicago Film Critics Association revealed their 2009 awards.

The film won every category it was nominated in: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jeremy Renner), Best Original Screenplay (Mark Boal), and Best Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd).

The Chicago victories, seen in the context of other big-city critics groups and the Golden Globe nominations, bring a few pre-Oscar trends into focus:

* "The Hurt Locker," moderately-budgeted at $11 million and produced independently, is in a horserace with "Up in the Air" in the Best Picture Category.

* Bigelow is the possible front-runner for Best Director. No woman has ever won in the category, and only three have been nominated: Lina Wertmüller ("Seven Beauties," 1976); Jane Campion ("The Piano," 1993), and Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation," 2003). That will work in her favor. Ironically, if her ex-husband James Cameron is nominated for his "Avatar," that may help her. Oscar voters love drama.
As a complete story, it's not much, but there are bits-and-pieces, individual scenes, that are good; and I especially liked the end when the hero is getting off the C-120 for his second deployment. It sure looks like Iraq too. Not some place in southern California.

Whitehouse on Health Care Opponents



Tell it to Jane Hamsher: 10 Reasons to Kill the Senate Bill

The Senate Bill's a very bad piece of work certain to be a millstone around the Democratic Party for years. It's going to take a decade to digout from under the damage this thing creates if implemented.

Give us a break with the rhetoric Sen Whitehouse.

HT Washington Times

Jane Hamsher's 10 Reasons to Kill the Senate Bill

Her top ten over at Fire Dog Lake,
Top 10 Reasons to Kill Senate Health Care Bill

1. Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations — whether you want to or not.
2. If you refuse to buy the insurance, you’ll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS.
3. Many will be forced to buy poor-quality insurance they can’t afford to use, with $11,900 in annual out-of-pocket expenses over and above their annual premiums.
4. Massive restriction on a woman’s right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.
5. Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-pays.
6. Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won’t see any benefits — like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions — until 2014 when the program begins.
7. Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others.
8. Grants monopolies to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.
9. No re-importation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years.
10. The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of four will rise an average of $1,000 a year — meaning in 10 years, your family’s insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.
I'm used to Illinois Democrats guised as reformers creating programs to payoff buddies i.e. stakeholders. If your surprised, write your reps in Congress. Hamsher lists some good talking points.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

RIP Grand Ayatollah Montazeri

Iran's at a critical moment in its history, and it's a critical moment for Peace Making in the world. What's happening there now is momentous and I believe will be of far more consequence than our HC reform or what ever that was that took place in Copenhagen the past week.

From the live blogging of Montazeri's funeral arrangements at Planet Iran,
December 20, 2009

According to received reports from Qom a large number of mourners have begun gathering at the residence the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri who passed away in his sleep last night.

Following the announcement of his passing, supporters of this popular and respected Marja’ Taghleed (Source of Imitation), reformist leader and dissident senior cleric, began gathering at his house. Among the senior clerics and Marja’ Taghleed present are: Ayatollah Sanei, who along with Ayatollah Montazeri, has been at the forefront of the support for the Green movement in opposing the Islamic regime and the Ayatollahs Mousavi-Ardebili, Shabiri-Zanjani, Bayat-Zanjani and Amini.

Reportedly people from around the country have begun to travel to Qom in order to mourn the passing of this beloved Shia leader who has been a brave supporter of the people of Iran.

After announcing Montazeris passing, the Islamic regimes media outlets, such as the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and Fars (a media branch of the revolutionary guards) took to attacking him, claiming him to have been “a corrupting agent in encouraging forces opposing Khomeini to take shape and organize”.

Peacemaking: Ibrahaim al-Rubaish the Poet of Guantanamo

Obama launches cruise missles a few days ago into Yemen for the likes of,
US intelligence reports have said "dozens" of senior al-Qaeda members are established in Yemen. Telephone intercepts and other surveillance detected close ties with groups based in South Asia. Officials claimed that Saleh al-Somali, a Somali-born terrorist killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan last week, had orchestrated movement between the two war zones.

But other most wanted figures remain at large. Ibrahaim al-Rubaish, known as the "poet of Guantanamo", who was released from the US prison camp in 2006 to undergo rehabilitation in Saudi Arabia, has fled to Yemen, as have other ex-prisoners.
I wonder how many Americans know America's at this work? Talk about MSM failing America... More from Bill Roggio here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Southsider to another: Blago's Lawyer Excited to Depose Obama

For PG who doubted we'd find Obama mired in war and Blagojevich's garbage.

Here's the Gov's lawyers on putting Obama, Rahm, Valerie, and Thom Balanoff on the stand on the sale of Obama's senate seat.

I shudder at what the next year brings America.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Evidence-Based PeaceMaking

Evidenced-Based Peacekeeping: A thought that came to my mind during the Interfaith Peace Symposium (PDF file) at Meadville-Lombard this weekend when someone mentioned Balanced Scorecards used by the UN's Millennium Development Goal's and their indicators.

Google shows someone's gotten that idea already --almost-- with this post.
Clearly, today’s peace support missions, especially those with R2P tasks, require a rigorous evidence base for policy planning, operational deployment, and strategic evaluation of progress. Without such an evidence base, mission design and deployment, and both internal and public evaluations, will remain irredeemably subjective and prone to manipulation in support of political agendas.
A good step towards serious Peace Making would be emulating Peace Keeping metrics. It would be a big step beyond some of the jargon and fuzzy language we get with the Pacifist Just War binary thinking.

Metrics make us think Pragmatically and Pragmatism is very much how UU's live their faith. We ought to start suggesting some measurable metrics. Maybe those would be of far more use than any Statement of Conscience could ever be.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peace Making: Kagan on Obama's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

I've yet to read it, but I will and probably recommend my Church's Peace Making discussion group read it too. Kagan's take in The Arena,
Wow. What a shift of emphasis. Something about this Afghan decision, coupled perhaps with events in Iran, has really affected his approach.

I don't know what to say about an "Obama doctrine," because based on this speech, I think we are witnessing a substantial shift, back in the direction of a more muscular moralism, a la, Truman, Reagan. The emphasis on military power, war for just causes, and moral principles recalls Theodore Roosevelt's phrase, "the just man armed." There is something much more quintessentially American and traditional about this speech, compared to most of his rhetorical approach throughout the year.

It's always dangerous to draw too many conclusions from a speech, but this is a big one.
Footnote: Kaplan's take recalling Obama's 2007 comments on Niebuhr. I doubted that at the time but if the Prez really wrote this speech, maybe he's really read his Niebuhr,
Obama's speech doesn't mention Niebuhr, but back in April 2007, early on in the presidential campaign, David Brooks asked Obama whether he'd ever read Niebuhr. The candidate replied, "I love him, he's one of my favorite philosophers." Asked what he took away from Niebuhr, Obama answered, "I take away the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world"; that "we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate these things, but we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction"; that "we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naive idealism to bitter realism."

Brooks observed in his New York Times column, "[F]or a guy who's spent the last few months fund-raising, and who was walking off the Senate floor as he spoke, that's a pretty good off-the-cuff summary of Niebuhr's The Irony of American History."

The Nobel lecture that Obama delivered today is a fuller elaboration of the same ideas.

UU's, Climategate, and a subzero midwest morning

Given a proto-UU's faith in Science, it's curious we've yet to read any posts on climategate and scientists acting very badly, although very humanly given the funding at stake for them; --in case my friend the green Prof lured from Chicago to the big Ivy League U for mega bucks is reading.

What gives?

As I venture out into the subzero this AM to see if my daughter's car will start after sitting out all night on the driveway.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mousavi to plainclothesmen: 'Carry out your duty. Kill me.'

Mir Hossein Mousavi showing courage and guts in Iran. We wouldn't know what to make of a leader in the West like this these days. Via homylafayette Iran News in English
The following is a translation of the article which appeared in Kalemeh, considered to be Mousavi's news site:

Plainclothesmen on motorcycles intended to stop Mr. Mousavi from leaving his office by gathering in front of the Academy of Arts.

According to Kalemeh's journalist, when Mir Hossein Mousavi's car attempted to leave the academy this morning, it was blocked by a group of plainclothesmen on motorcycles.

This group of motorcyclists, consisting of 30 to 40 individuals, had been present around the academy since yesterday afternoon.

When this group of plainclothesmen prevented Mr. Mousavi's car from leaving the academy's parking lot today, the Imam's beloved prime minister (NB Mousavi was prime minister from 1981 to 1989, under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic and referred to as the Imam) got out of the car and approached the motorcyclists. This occurred as the motorcyclists chanted slogans against the Imam's beloved prime minister.

Mir Hossein Mousavi who was upset that similar incidents had taken place in the past, went among the plainclothesmen and told them: 'You are on duty. Carry out your duty. Kill me, beat me, threaten me.'

The comments of the Imam's beloved prime minister shamed the plainclothesmen who dispersed.

Without identifying himself, Kalemeh's journalist approached one of the motorcyclists and asked him the reason for their actions. The individual responded, We've been assigned the task of obstructing Mousavi's movements.

The bodyguards of the Imam's beloved prime minister insisted that he return inside the grounds, as the motorcyclists milled and drove around the academy.


Footnote: Robert Kaplan recalls Obama on Niebhur from 2007. A comment I remembered and didn't believe but maybe I was mistaken and Obama's really read 'em,
Obama's speech doesn't mention Niebuhr, but back in April 2007, early on in the presidential campaign, David Brooks asked Obama whether he'd ever read Niebuhr. The candidate replied, "I love him, he's one of my favorite philosophers." Asked what he took away from Niebuhr, Obama answered, "I take away the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world"; that "we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate these things, but we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction"; that "we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naive idealism to bitter realism."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lamar Alexander on the arrogance of Health Care Reform

Alexander quoted in Goerge Will's column today,
"This bill is historic in its arrogance—arrogance that we in Congress are wise enough to take this complex health system, that is 17 percent of our economy and serves 300 million Americans, and think we can write a 2,000-page bill and change it all…c It's arrogant to dump 15 million low-income Americans into a medical ghetto called Medicaid that none of us or any of our families would ever want to join."

Alexander is not the only temperate person who is being driven to distraction by the sense that whirl is now king in Washington. And by the worry that the people driving the pell-mell agenda will not pause to ask how to do all of it, because they fear that the answer is: You can't.
What a mess. Political Medicine governed by panels with liberals baffled that the majority will rule abortion off limits.

You want a single universal system, then you get the single universal majority's rules. You're without a disease lobby, you're sunk.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Peace Making: Suicide bombers assault mosque in Rawalpindi, kill 40

From Bill Roggio's Long War Journal:
Suicide bombers assault mosque in Rawalpindi, kill 40
By Bill RoggioDecember 4, 2009 8:26 AM

The Taliban have struck again in the heart of Pakistan's military garrison city of Rawalpindi. A Taliban suicide assault team estimated at between three to five men entered a mosque in the city and opened fire on the worshippers and detonated their vests, killing 40 and wounding 83 more. The attack killed two senior generals and wounded another.

Two of the members of the suicide assault team have been killed. The assault team was not interested in taking hostages or negotiations, according to the Pakistani military.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/12/suicide_bombers_assa.php#ixzz0YoirpY90
More today, especially on Pakistan's Awami National Party and its martyrs. ANP voices views so similar to what UU's seek yet we remain so silent on fellow liberals in the thick of this war. ANP's mission statement,
The Awami National Party draws its inspiration from the example and teachings of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, affectionately known to his people as Baacha Khan. He spent his entire life in the struggle for freedom and justice. He and his Khudai Khidmatgars offered great sacrifices in the fight against colonialism, imperialism and all other forms of oppression. In a broader sense, Baacha Khan saw politics as the highest form of public service and often described himself as only a social worker. His objective was to liberate the masses of South Asia and, particularly, his own people, the Pukhtuns, from the shackles of ignorance and poverty, so that they could rise to their full potential.

In keeping with this spirit, the ANP, like its predecessors, the NAP (National Awami Party) and the NDP (National Democratic Party), looks upon politics primarily as a public service, particularly to the poor and the disadvantaged. Hence the Party is dedicated to the promotion of democracy and freedom, the eradication of poverty, the protection of human rights, the combating of extremism in all its forms and the creation of equal opportunities for all citizens. It firmly believes in peace and non-violence as the best way to resolve all issues. It is committed to securing for all the federating units of Pakistan their full political, social and economic rights as equal partners in the federation and their fair share in national progress and prosperity.

In the pursuit of these goals, the ANP is ready to work together with like-minded forces in Pakistan and to subscribe to partnerships with all peace loving countries of the world.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Chicago Black Writers Network Christmas Book Fair



HT A. P. Jones

David Harsanyi: We-Don't-Want-to-Talk-About-It-Gate

Harsanyi writing today,
Americans honor the courageous informant, the gutsy citizen who stands against the savagery of the profit-mongering conglomerate. Well, sometimes. It appears, believe it or not, that there are those who aren't religiously tethered to this sacred obligation.

For now -- because of revelations of the ClimateGate scandal, in which hacked e-mails revealed discussions among top climate scientists about the manipulation of evidence -- Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in Britain, has stepped down from his position. Michael Mann, architect of the famous "hockey stick" graph, is now under investigation by Pennsylvania State University. Similar inquiries should follow.
More over the weekend on Climategate. Way too much money was being dished out not to be suspect about global warming. Now it seems we skeptics had plenty to be skeptical about.

Shabaab suicide attack in Mogadishu

WARNING: Very Graphic video via Al Jessera but worth viewing by anyone who believes there are nonviolent althernatives to dealing with Radical Muslims who will do this to fellow Muslims. H/T Bill Roggio,
Al Jazeera provides footage of the Shabaab suicide attack in Mogadishu, Somalia. The bomber detonated at a graduation ceremony for medical students.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/videos/2009/12/shabaab_suicide_attack_in_moga.php#ixzz0Yie3sFR4




XP Bill Baar's West Side

Iraqi reporter hurls shoe at Montazer Zaidi

Via Alsumaria TV,
An Iraqi journalist threw his shoe on Tuesday at Iraqi reporter Montazer Al Zaidi who was imprisoned for throwing his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush.
The shoe hit the wall next to Al Zaidi’s head. The attacker accused Al Zaidi of siding with dictatorship.

Following the incident, Al Zaidi argued that he threw his shoe at occupation not at a fellow Iraqi citizen.





منتظر الزيدي يُضرَب بفردتي حذاء بعد سنة من قيامه برمي بوش بحذائه
الأربعاء 02 كانون الأول 2009 06:52 GMT

أقدم الصحافي العراقي سيف الخياط على ضرب مراسل قناة البغدادية منتظر الزيدي بفردتي حذائه أثناء عقد الأخير ندوة في العاصمة الفرنسية باريس عصر اليوم عن واقع الإعلام في العراق، وتزامن الحادث مع الذكرى الأولى لرمي الزيدي فردتي حذائه على الرئيس الأميركي السابق جورج بوش.

وكان الزيدي قام بالاعتداء على الرئيس الأمريكي جورج بوش برميه بفردتي حذائه ونعته بـ"الكلب" في شهر كانون الأول من عام 2008 أثناء مؤتمر صحافي مشترك عقده الرئيس الأمريكي جورج وبوش ورئيس الوزراء العراقي نوري المالكي في بغداد.

وقال الخياط في حديث لـ"السومرية نيوز" إن قيامه برمي فردتي حذائه على الزيدي جاء "بسبب تنظيم البعثيين للمؤتمر الذي أقامه اليوم الثلاثاء في العاصمة باريس فضلا عن تسميته للجماعات الإرهابية بالمقاومة خلال المؤتمر"، بحسب قوله، مشيرا إلى أن المؤتمر نظم من قبل الإعلامي العراقي سعد المسعودي، الذي وصفه الخياط بأنه "احد عناصر مخابرات نظام صدام حسين السابق".

واعتبر الخياط أن "الزيدي تجاوز على الصحافيين العراقيين واتهمهم بعدم الحيادية ومحاولة تمرير المشروع الأمريكي في العراق"، وروى قائلا "قمت وسألت الزيدي عن سبب الحفاوة السورية به وسبب وتسميته الجماعات الإرهابية بأنها مقاومة، ثم رميت فردتي حذائي عليه، وصحت بصوت عال إنها لك يا زيدي من الصحافيين العراقيين الأحرار".

وأشار الخياط إلى أن شقيق الزيدي وبعض الحرس الذي يرافقونه فضلا عن منظم المؤتمر سعد المسعودي "حاولوا الاعتداء" عليه، إلا انه رفع احد الكراسي مهددا إياهم بـ"الضرب" في حال الاقتراب منه، بحسب ما قال.

ولفت الخياط إلى أن رميه للزيدي بالحذاء جاء لـ"إفشال مخطط البعثيين للتمدد بين الإعلاميين في باريس فضلا عن إسكات صوت معاد للتجربة الديمقراطية في العراق" بحسب تعبيره.

يذكر أن الخياط عمل في عدة مؤسسات إعلامية عراقية خلال الأعوام الأربعة الماضي مثل قناتي الفيحاء والعراقية فضلا عن كونه مراسلاً لوكالة الأنباء اليابانية قبل أن يقرر طلب اللجوء في فرنسا والإقامة فيها نهاية عام 2008.
A google translation,
December 02, 2009 06:52 GMT

Senior Iraqi journalist Saif al-Khayat to hit the channel Baghdadiya correspondent Zaidi threw his shoes during a recent seminar in the French capital this afternoon about the reality of the media in Iraq, the incident coincided with the anniversary of the first to throw Zaidi pair of shoes at the former American President George W. Bush.

Zaidi was the assault on President George W. Bush throw threw his shoes and calling him a "dog" in December of 2008 during a joint press conference held by President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

Khayat said in an interview with "Alsumaria News" that he threw his shoes on al-Zaidi was "due to the organization of the Baathists, who hosted the conference on Tuesday in Paris as well as the designation of terrorist groups, resistance during the conference," he says, pointing out that the conference organized by the Media Iraqi Saad al-Masoudi, which he described as a tailor "one of the intelligence elements of the regime of Saddam Hussein's former regime."

He said that the tailor, "Zaidi, bypassing the Iraqi journalists and accused them of neutrality and try to pass the American project in Iraq," Roy said, "you asked Zaidi about the reason for the Syrian hospitality, and the reason and name of terrorist groups as resistance, then the pair of shoes thrown at him, loudly it true you, Maximize the journalists free Iraqis. "

He pointed out that the tailor's brother Zaidi and some guards accompanying him as well as conference organizer Saad al-Masoudi, "tried to assault" on it, but he lifted a chair, threatening them with "beating" in the event of approaching him, according to what he said.

He pointed out that the tailor to throw Zaidi shoe came to "the failure of the Baathists planned expansion between journalists in Paris, as well as silence the voice of anti-democratic experience in Iraq," according to his words.

The tailor worked in several media organizations in Iraq during the past four years, such as the fallopian Fayhaa and Iraqi as well as a correspondent for the Japanese news agency before deciding to seek asylum in France and stay in the end of 2008.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More on Expert Panels

From Doug O'Brien in Big Government.

Under Obamacare, new cost effectiveness panels will join the advisory panels like the Preventive Services Task Force. Instead of just making clinical recommendations primarily intended to improve the quality of patient care, they will make recommendations intended to also contain the cost of care. So when the cost effectiveness folks decide that mammograms are only indicated every two years and only for women over 50, that will become the reimbursement policy for Medicare and Medicaid, and the mandate for private insurance that must comport with coverage standards. Sure, you could pay higher premiums for more coverage or pay out of pocket if your and your doctor think it wise to have annual mammograms at age 40, but wait, we were told Obamacare would save us money and wouldn’t decrease our coverage.

So we have a federal panel of “experts” setting policies for medical treatment. That will hopefully prevent people from consuming unnecessary care that drives up the total cost of health care. (Never mind that defensive medicine caused by liability concerns are strictly off the table.) But we have just seen the knee jerk reaction of Congress and the White House to what is only a non-binding recommendation, where they instantly caved to public opinion and special interests (in the form of radiologists and the American Cancer Society) and disavowed the recommendations and assured American women that they could go right ahead and keep getting all the mammograms they want.

What will Congress do when the cost effectiveness folks decide that expensive colonoscopies should be denied to all but a limited group of patients? Is it possible that when voters start calling their offices that Congress will step in to protect access to limitless colonoscopies? Every time Congress or future administrations bow to pressure cost containment becomes more and more impossible.

We'll have political medicine. Talk about a mess.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen: Worse Than War; Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity

I've made it to page 84 but probably will not finish Goldhagen's turning of the social scientist's eye on genocide here.
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's books are events. They stir passionate public debate among political and civic leaders, scholars, and the general public because they compel people to rethink the most powerful conventional wisdoms and stubborn moral problems of the day. Worse Than War gets to the heart of the phenomenon, genocide, that has caused more deaths in the modern world than military conflict. In doing so, it challenges fundamental things we thought we knew about human beings, society, and politics.

Drawing on extensive field work and research from around the world, Goldhagen explores the anatomy of genocide—explaining why genocides begin, are sustained, and end; why societies support them, why they happen so frequently and how the international community should and can successfully stop them.

As a great book should, Worse than War seeks to change the way we think and to offer new possibilities for a better world. It tells us how we might at last begin to eradicate this greatest scourge of humankind.
Not that I particularly disagree with his book. I just get numb from it. And what's worse than war is tangible in Chicago. We've become home for the trickles of survivors from the past century's slaughters. From the women I remember as a teenager in the garment factory with numbers on their forearms, my friends from Vilna every Christmas, to my barber in Elgin.
But of the devastation that drove the Bun family from Cambodia, they know nothing. That is how Bun prefers it, for now.

His choice is not unique.
Sometimes for now, not looking back is best... but don't doubt there are things worse than War. Chicago is filled with those who know.

James Corum: Surprising results from Afghanistan Debate

Corum tells the outcome to the motion: America cannot and will not succeeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan
Going into the debate, the sentiment was very much for the motion and for withdrawing from Afghanistan. The audience was polled before the debate and voted with a two to one margin in favour of the proposition (withdraw from Afghanistan): 48 per cent to 25 per cent. That is not surprising. New York is very liberal and New York University is far to the left. This is a part of the US where Obama won with over 60 percent of the voters and at New York University it was probably over 80 percent.

What was surprising was the poll after both sides presented their case for America’s Afghanistan strategy. The audience was evenly split, 45 to 43 percent against the motion - and supporting the reinforcement of the US effort. In short, a large part of an audience that leaned overwhelmingly to the left changed their minds and were won over to supporting General McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy. If a very liberal New York audience can be won over, it means that one could win very strong support from the American public for a revised strategy that reinforces the effort in Afghanistan. However, such support can only be mobilized if the political leaders present their proposals in a clear and articulate manner.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama Salutes

CC chastises failures to google.

Made me recall Blackfive's recent post on Obama Salutes, and this link to the NYT. Reagan started the practice.....
Presidents have long been saluted, but they began returning salutes relatively recently. Ronald Reagan was thought to be the first, in 1981. He had sought advice on the matter from Gen. Robert Barrow, commandant of the Marine Corps. According to John Kline, then Mr. Reagan’s military aide and today a member of Congress from Minnesota, General Barrow told the president that as commander in chief he could salute anybody he wished. And so it began.

Mr. Reagan’s successors continued the practice, and I continued to be conflicted — believing that when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack, but also feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing.

My ambivalence came to an end last week, when I saw a videotape of the president’s midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where he had participated, very early that morning, in the “dignified transfer” of 15 Army soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed that week in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama stood ramrod straight and saluted as six soldiers carried the coffin bearing the body of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana off a C-17 transport aircraft and into a waiting van. His salute, it struck me, was impeccable in every way.
I'm guessing after Obama announces his new Af-Pak strategy next week, I'll be Obama's defender here, and the anti-Obama emails in need of research we'll be flying the other way.

In defense of Empire

From an interview with Jan Urban,
What is your take on the Czech Republic today?

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am enjoying every day. On the other hand, I was born Czechoslovak and educated Czechoslovak. To people like myself, the Czech Republic was an entirely different concept. I did not like being defined by my language. I think that I am much more complicated. I want to be much more complicated. I believe that if you are looking for the most tragic mistake in European history it is acceptance of the concept of language-based nationalism.

Just yesterday I was giving a lecture in Vienna and said a hundred years ago Vienna was my capital. We only had one political system, one parliament, one currency, one transportation system. After two world wars and the expulsion of millions, are we any wiser?
As we get closer to 2014 and the centennial of the start of WW1 expect more on what was lost with multicultural i.e. multilignual Empires.

Boredom on the Earth

From The Prague Daily Monitor,
Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) - Former president Vaclav Havel yesterday gave the Vaclav Havel Library prize for the best student essay to Krystof Vosatka, from English College in Prague, for his work Boredom on the Earth.

Eighty-six secondary school students from throughout the country sent their essays to the first annual competition called Twenty Years of Freedom after Communism.
Havel said the time had come for a new and free reflection of yesterday's situation and a "deliberation on what we dislike and what should be."

Society needs a vision of its further development, Havel said, adding that it did not need a physical, but "a sort of existential revolution."

"Who else but you and your children should be its bearers," Havel said.

The competition focused on essay as this is the favourite genre of Havel, a writer and playwright.
Wonder what a YRUU manifesto of existential revolution would read? World does need one. Not sure we UUs or Liberals of any stripes the vessels.

Peace Making: The Dawn's Editorial on US Taliban Covert Talks

The closing paras from The Dawn's Editorial,
Ultimately, there has to be a negotiated end to the war. The issue is how to go about it. Do you talk to the enemy from a position of weakness, as Pakistan did during the Musharraf era and learned to its sorrow that this approach only served to strengthen the rebels? Or do you talk from a position of strength? To think that Hamid Karzai could help in this regard is to be naive.

Going by what Richard Holbrooke said on Monday, Washington has been in touch with Islamabad on the new AfPak policy yet to be unveiled. Pakistan has vital stakes in the outcome of the war.

All one hopes is that a phoney peace will not be achieved for the sake of a hurried withdrawal to placate an increasingly sceptical public in the West.

The Obama administration and those involved in back-channel probes must realise how dangerous it would be to quit Afghanistan in a manner that leaves the Taliban in a dominant position.
My emphasis on the final two paragraphs. I hoe this is not the route we're headed towards.

Also Bill Roggio on the Pak Army's hedging it's bets Pakistan hedges on Taliban as West seeks talks: Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2009/11/pakistan_hedges_on_taliban_as.php#ixzz0XyKfM08U
A perception of this wavering has also influenced the Pakistani military. An armed forces spokesperson claimed recently that the army had reached the headquarters of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan after a month-long campaign, and taken control of all key positions. The next step, under pressure from the US, was to have been to move into neighboring North Waziristan, the purported headquarters of al-Qaeda and the largest Taliban-led group, the Haqqani network.

However, the military, given the signals coming out of Britain, Italy, France and Canada, and the dithering of US President Barack Obama over sending more troops to Afghanistan, is not prepared at this point to extend its operations.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Abdul Rahim Wardak on Obama's long awaited and over elaborated decisions.



Al Jeezera via Bill Roggio's Long War Journal,
Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan's Defense Minister announced the Afghan Army would be expanded to more than 240,000 soldiers. Wardak described President Obama's process to decide on a US increase in troops as "long awaited and over-elaborated," which prompted laughter from the senior US generals in attendance, including General Stanley McChrystal.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/videos/2009/11/afghanistan_to_expand_army_to.php#ixzz0XaLtVBQU
Long awaited and over-elaborated.... no way for a Commander-in-Chief to be seen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inside Surgery on the New Mammogram Guidelines

More on why I'm appalled with Expert Panels taking over practice in the name of reform: we'll get political medicine looking for budget fixes; and that's exactly what's happening with this latest goofy guideline. Via Inside Surgery
The federal government released new guidelines this week that recommend some startling changes in how women should be screened for breast cancer.

Current recommendations call for most women to get a baseline mammogram at the age of 40 and to get yearly screenings thereafter.

However, the 17 member panel of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (none of whom are oncologists or breast specialists) that made the recommendations now say that women who are of average risk of contracting breast cancer should begin regular, routine mammograms at the age of 50 and that yearly mammograms are not necessary. They are also recommending that women abandon the practice of self breast exams.

Should one infer then that if the panel is not recommending mammogram screening and not recommending self-exam, they are not recommending any diagnosis of breast cancer before age 50?
xp My Medical Informatics Blog

The Guarian: Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists

Warmists uncovered, via The Guardian,
Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world's leading climate scientists during the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online, it emerged today.

The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change sceptics who have studied the emails allege they provide "smoking gun" evidence that some of the climatologists colluded in manipulating data to support the widely held view that climate change is real, and is being largely caused by the actions of mankind.

The veracity of the emails has not been confirmed and the scientists involved have declined to comment on the story, which broke on a blog called The Air Vent.
and here's The Air Vent.

We covenant with each other...

Ogre wrote at comment on 1:26 PM,
I believe that the understanding is that we covenant with each other, not with the church.
Yes, but, at my Church at least, there is a sense that those others includes everyone who has signed in the past and I suppose we could think of that as the Church.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sam Shem at HIS talk on Mammograms and Health Care

at HIS Talk today,
Re: mammograms. An independent body, after review and analysis of eight clinical trials, comes out with EVIDENCE that mammogram screening in under-40-year-olds has little or no value. What happens? The radiologists are up in arms and the Obama administration, in the person of DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, tells patients to just keep doing what you did last year. And they want to cut costs by a billion dollars over the next decade to pay for national health insurance? If anyone really believes this country will ever control the costs of health care, they are living in a dream land!”

Interesting, too, that nobody’s paying much attention to the study that showed that electronic medical records haven’t improved outcomes or cost so far, even as the government is spending lots of money on those, too. At least EHRs have potential. In an economy where jobs are dying out, politicians don’t have the guts to make serious change since the people unhappy with health care don’t have the clout of those who like it just fine. I cited statistics here years ago saying that health care was making a staggering economy look robust because of rising costs, profits, and high employment, all unsustainable in a global economy.
I suppose the question then is how confident anyone can be the government as opposed to markets can make Health Care a sustainable sector in the economy.

Considering the Gov's placing its bets on tick-box medicine, voodoo economics on preventive med, and EHR; I'm not very confident. I think it has to do with politicians guts and lack there of. Sarah Palin maybe? She has guts.

xp My Medical Informatics Blog

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unitarian Universalist Conversions

Do we convert to Unitarian Universalism?

I would think not, and if I recall right, the two times I've signed books, the Minister told me I was not rejecting any past beliefs or traditions as part of my signing.

It seems for conversion, one would need to change from some past belief; and that's exactly what I was NOT doing when I signed. The Minister (I think) said so.

Now, if someone believes they are converting, we as a Church are not particularly equipped to find them wrong on it either. We don't see into the soul. It's not what were about.

So what exactly is happening when we covenant with a Church?

...we don’t hear much from the Awami Party folks other than their death notices.

Neo's comment over at Long War Journal about a party in Pakistan like minded westerners do ignore. Librealism's huge inexplicable failure to defend Liberal Islam.
It should be said that the Awami Party is not anti-Taliban, per se, but against the violence of both the Taliban and their government opponents. There movement is very much in the passive resistance activist mold, although they do not outright proscribe strict pacifism. The do tend to mirror western passive resistance movements in many ways. For much of the conflict they tended to be sympathetic to the plight of Pashtoons who joined the Taliban and blamed the Pakistani government and western powers as the ultimate source of conflict.

The Awami Party did rather well in regional elections only two years ago. At the time the Taliban intimidated them quite a bit, but found their votes temporarily useful for for drawing off PPP votes, and for the Awami stand against “America’s war” in Pakistan. Since then, the Taliban has declared open season on them and we don’t hear much from the Awami Party folks other than their death notices.

One would think the plight of the Awami Party would be an example to like minded westerners, but they are virtually invisible in the western press. I would tend to think of them as the canary in the coal mine for any prospects of pacifying the Taliban.
Here's Awami's blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The UUA Plan and Pelosi Care

I'm assuming this UUA Plan is going to turn out to be more expensive then the Gov Option, as will most Church's plans --if even available after reform-- so our Clergy and staff will be some of the first into the Government Option unless Churches chose to go beyond the 8% of salary costs (or whatever the threshold becomes).

I'd be worried. Especially if over 50.

Moral Superiority on Health Care Reform

Robert Samuelson calls out the hypocrisy: Obama's Malpractice,
The campaign to pass Obama's health care plan has assumed a false, though understandable, cloak of moral superiority. It's understandable because almost everyone thinks that people in need of essential medical care should get it; ideally, everyone would have health insurance. The pursuit of these worthy goals can easily be projected as a high-minded exercise for the public good.

It's false for two reasons. First, the country has other goals -- including preventing future financial crises and minimizing the crushing effects of high deficits or taxes on the economy and younger Americans -- that "health care reform" would jeopardize. And second, the benefits of "reform" are exaggerated. Sure, many Americans would feel less fearful about losing insurance; but there are cheaper ways to limit insecurity. Meanwhile, improvements in health for today's uninsured would be modest. They already receive substantial medical care. Insurance would help some individuals enormously, but studies find that, on average, gains are moderate. Despite using more health services, people don't automatically become healthier.
...and the closing thought,
If new spending commitments worsen some future budget or financial crisis, Obama's proposal certainly won't qualify as "reform," as the president and The Washington Post (also in its news columns) call it. A more likely verdict: self-inflicted wound.
Self-inflicted wound for America but Suicide for Democrats and that's exactly what Democrats will have done to their party with this bill.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama's bow to the Emperor


My Dad in Manila in 1945. He was a pretty mild guy and his whole family Midwestern isolationists, pretty much opposed to American involvement in WW2.

But once in he and my uncle and all the rest did their duty. My Dad met the Japanese in New Guina and then the Philippines. He would have been aghast at Obama's bow.

I expect many Chinese who remember and have been taught about The Rape of Nanking (caution graphic images) are aghast today, unlike my President or many Japanese who have memory-holed that atrocity.

There are things worse than war. The Chinese remember Japenese occupation and have taught their childred. Today's Japan has buried their history. Obama's bow will reverberate and anger. Just as it would have angered my Dad.














Footnote: Powerline with the fumbling response to the question on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You'd almost think he didn't expect it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ehsan Fattahian was Hanged this Morning in Iran

via Mideast Youth,
According to several reports from Iran, Ehsan Fattahian was executed early this morning in Sanandaj Central Prison.

The mobilization of people to this effort has been amazing. Within a couple of days, over 10,000 people signed an online petition calling to stop the execution. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several Iranian human rights organizations issued statements calling to halt the execution. However, from the moment the date of Ehsan’s execution was set, only the head of the Judiciary, Sadeq Ardeshir Larijani, could stop the execution. Larijani let this young man die despite being innocent.

Ehsan was executed for his political activities for the Kurdish minority in Iran. Despite being tortured, Ehsan refused to admit to participating in an armed struggle against the Iranian regime. His first sentence, exile for ten years, shows that the regime didn’t see him as serious threat. Only during the appeal process was he declared as an “enemy of God” and sentenced to execution. It is not only morally wrong to execute someone for wanting to be free, but it is also illegal, since international law makes it clear that all humans have the right to self determination.

This execution is just another tool in the Iranian regime’s mechanism of repression against the Kurdish minority. The Kurds in Iran are victims of arbitrary arrests, denial of education, denial of cultural expression, executions, raids, and denial of many other human rights.

For more information see KurdishRights.org

H/T Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

Note his crime was being an enemy of God.

Also Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi's Planet Iran.

Peace Making: Rev Meeks takes on the Teachers Union

Not my favorite Chicago Preacher or Politican, but Obama's bombastic (and virulently homophobic) spiritual mentor takes on the Unions,
Less than one month after the brutal murder of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert during a gang brawl on 111th St. in Chicago shocked the world, one of Chicago's most powerful political and religious leaders, Reverend Senator James Meeks, shocked a group of teachers on Saturday, October 17, when he declared from the podium at the weekly meeting of Operation PUSH that the Chicago Teachers Union was a worse gang than the city's most notorious drug gangs.

According to one person who heard the show, Meeks said: "The BDs [Black Disciples] are not the biggest gang problem, the GDs [Gangster Disciples] are not the biggest gang problem, the Vice Lords are not the biggest gang problem, the Four Corner Hustlers are not the biggest gang problem... The biggest gang problem in Chicago is the Chicago Teachers Union." Others who were present during the PUSH event confirmed that he made such remarks.
Fellow bloggers JB Powers and Pat Hickey note,
Rev. Meeks has never drawn a stupid breath. He calculates his fiery passionate words to sum up a cold conclusion – only victory pay dividends.

He knows who the losers are in this rhetorical and political dog fight – he has strongly identified them – The Teachers Unions and their iron grip on gutless politicians.

Now, is the time for Rev. Senator James Meeks to sit down with people who can make genuine School Choice a reality – Let’s go up the Reform Food Chain. Senator Meeks ought to cross into the wilderness of School Choice to meet those people who have battled for the cause.

1. Legislators for School Choice
2. Chicago Charter School Leadership
3. Catholic and Private School Leadership
4. Editorial Boards – of all persuasions
5. National Media –with School Choice credentials
6. Secretary Arne Duncan and then his boss

Senator Meeks may yet prove to be the most important School Reform Warrior in Illinois.
I'd argue Peace Warrior too if Meeks pulls this off.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bill Ardolino: Iraq: The raveling


Ardolino via Threat Matrix. Sistani's role is interesting. If Iran's regime falls and it's Sistani's subtle influence found there too, History is going to judge what we did in Iraq very differently than many would think now.
It was vital to permit open candidate lists in order to maintain Iraq's popular trend towards nationalism, elevate truly qualified leaders, and break sectarian party strangleholds on government ministries. Notably, open list elections were supported by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and opposed by some of the major Kurdish and Shia Arab parties, the latter of which are often portrayed in the media as running Iraq at Iran's behest.

The open source news reports are typically light on detail, but this looks to be a milestone essential to Iraq's potential stability and political progress.

* The title is of course a light poke at Thomas Ricks' "Iraq, the Unraveling" series of blog posts, which I believe focus on negative aspects of Iraq without due consideration of what is working, when it works. Today it looks as if something important worked.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2009/11/iraq_the_raveling.php#ixzz0WSbBTxV7


Footnote: Bill Ardolino refers me here: See the subhead "A Split in Shia Islam" here:

http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2009/09/iran_iran_iran_1.php

Health Care Reform: Death Panels and Stupak's Life Panel

Gosh, you empower the Federal Government to make Medical Decisions between Patient and Provider and you'll get a lesson in be careful what you ask for: Health Care Reform Restricts Abortion Coverage

You want a single payor, you're going to get the universal protocols. As technology takes us deeper into bio-ethical tangles expect more decisions by a Federal Gov poorly equipped to adjudicate.

Capt. Russell Seager RIP

Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wis., was a psychiatrist who joined the Army a few years ago because he wanted to help veterans returning to civilian life, said his uncle, Larry Seager of Mauston.

Capt. Seager’s brother-in-law, Dennis Prudhomme, said Capt. Seager had worked with soldiers at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Milwaukee who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He also taught classes at Bryant & Stratton College in Milwaukee, said Mr. Prudhomme, who is married to Capt. Seager’s sister.

Larry Seager said his nephew’s death left the family stunned, especially because the psychiatrist only wanted to help soldiers improve their mental health.

“It’s unbelievable. He goes down there to help out soldiers and then he …” Mr. Seager said, his voice trailing off. “I still can’t believe it.”

Russell Seager is survived by a wife and 20-year-old son.

Mr. Prudhomme said Capt. Seager was scheduled to go to Afghanistan in December and had gone to Fort Hood for training.

“Our family has suffered a great loss and we are all devastated,” Capt. Seager’s sister, Barbara Prudhomme, said in a statement read by her husband. “We are very proud of the way Russell lived his life, both personally and professionally, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families.”

–Associated Press
The others listed here. Also this on Madison's 467th Combat Stress Control Army Reserve Detachment.

Sermon Titles in the News Letter and Pick-and-Chose Faith

Mike writes,
Many ministers preach from the Lectionary, and their sermons are based on the lesson of the day. As one moves leftward along the theological spectrum, ministers rely less on Scripture and may preach about secular topics such as the environment, politics, or other topics of civil life.

Thus, liberal churchgoers often wish to know what the sermon will be about, and are accommodated by sermon titles that are published in the newsletter and on the website. This is not a good practice. Such a policy creates a “pick and choose” faith – I like that topic so I’ll be there, I don’t like that one, so I’ll stay home.
The Chicago Tribune used to publish titles in advance, and I suppose people probably did pick-and-chose. And yes those choices yielded pick-and-chose faiths....

.....but that was still faith....

...and now?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bosnia's Iron Lady "Biljana Plavsic" freed


via CNN
Former Bosnian Serb leader Biljana Plavsic was released from prison in Sweden Tuesday, after serving two thirds of an 11-year sentence for crimes against humanity.


Maybe if it had been Swedes in this picture or Scandinavians as corpses, Plavsic would have been hung instead.

Bosnia in the 90s made an interventionist of me. I had traveled through Bosnia in the 70s as a student and had fond memories of the people. I was stunned the world watched in the 90s as they were rapped and butchered.

It's sleazy and dangerous for politicians to be scoring points against Islam in a continent where Bosnian Muslims were being put in concentration camps until America intervened. --an advisor to Jordan's King Abdullah quoted page 28 of The Economist of Feb 11, 2006 speaking on the cartoons of the Prophet. My emphasis added.

...until America intervened.

Peace Making: 20 Years After the Wall











For all my participation in Peace Making talks, I rarely hear any talk of the great progress the world's made. A link to Der Spiegel's page marking 20 Years After the Wall, and a photo of Kohl, Bush, and Gorbachev at a recent symposium marking German reunification. The fall of a Communist Empire and the liberation of millions without a shot fired. Not a typical 20th Century Moment. Worth asking what went right?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Major Hasan: Birmingham Star: Extremist religious leader educated killer major

Army's got some explaining to do about how a Psychiatrist like this can be out there "counseling" the troops. Via Brenda at RBO:
The Sunday Telegraph has reported the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas earlier this week was linked with radical imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was a “spiritual adviser” to three of the hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan attended al-Awlaki’s Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists.

Anwar al-Awlaki is an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organizations.

A fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday’s horrific shooting spree told the Telegraph that Hasan’s eyes used to light up when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki’s teachings.

Relatives said that the death of Hasan’s parents, in 1998 and 2001, turned him more devout.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bishop Conley on HR 3962

Bishop Conley writes,
With more than 620 Catholic hospitals serving the public around the United States, hundreds of Catholic medical clinics and shelters, and even a few Catholic-affiliated medical schools, Catholics have a keen interest in healthcare reform. That interest isn’t new. It’s rooted in experience, including the experience of trying to help people with little or no health insurance at all. For decades, the U.S. bishops have pushed for an overhaul of our nation’s healthcare industry and the way it delivers its services. Why? Because the Church sees access to basic health care as a right and a social responsibility, not a privilege.

But Catholic support for the general principle of reform does not bind anyone to endorse a specific piece of legislation. God gave us brains for a reason, to think; and we need to use them, because the practical and moral problems we face on the way to good healthcare reform are as formidable as the goal is admirable. This is why the U.S. bishops’ conference has tried so diligently for the past three months to work with Congress and the White House in seeking sound compromise legislation. As of November 5, all those efforts have failed.

The bishops have a few simple but important priorities.
Read the rest here

Note the Bishop's fourth point:

Fourth—and this is so obvious it sometimes goes unstated—any reform must be economically realistic and financially sustainable. We can’t help anyone, including ourselves, if we’re insolvent. If we commit ourselves to health services, then we need to have the will and the ability to really pay for them. That’s a moral issue, not simply a practical one.

Bankrupting ourselves with an insolvent program is a moral issue. I'm not a bit fan of framing public policy in moral binaries, but HR 3962 takes us down an awful economic path.