Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jennifer Rubin: Conservatives Torn on Interrogation ‘Truth Commission’

She writes,
Conservatives are torn. On the one hand, a “truth commission” to investigate enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the Bush administration would criminalize policy differences, potentially tag the Bush administration’s good faith efforts to prevent a second 9/11 as “war crimes,” and tear the country asunder. All that strikes conservatives as dangerous in the extreme. And yet … the temptation to plunge into the abyss is palpable.

Tom McGuire writes:

So speaking as someone with no love for either Bush or Obama’s likely agenda, I say to the Truth Commission idea, bring it on. Nancy Pelosi being sworn in to lie about what she knew and when she forgot it — she has to be less dangerous to the country that way.

The idea of a truth commission is tantalizing for those itching to puncture the bubble of hypocrisy that has enveloped the Democratic-controlled Congress.
I vote for the plunge into the abyss. The truth needs to be out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Free Roxana Saberi

The site devoted to freeing her, and an inteview on MSNBC with her Dad.

Leadership, Petraeus style

Some Leadership lessons Revs Hallman and Morales might want to consider.

I fear UUism and Liberalism too ossified and stuck in slogans. Military leaders, weighing life/death in daily decisions, try never to allow themselves to become so blind.

Paula Broadwell on General Petraeus's upcoming speech at Harvard's Kennedy School Forum.
WITH A FALTERING economy, soaring unemployment, and overseas military commitments consuming more each day than the gross domestic product of many small nations, the United States urgently needs adaptive and transformational leaders. In paying tribute to Harvard veterans at a Kennedy School Forum tonight, General David H. Petraeus will underline the importance of adaptive leaders in today's complex national security environment.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called Petraeus the "preeminent soldier, scholar, and statesman" of his generation - roles that he transitions among as the commander of US Central Command.

Is his leadership unique? And if so, in what way? In more than 100 hours of interviews with Petraeus, his mentors, peers, and subordinates, I have elicited numerous perspectives on his style of leadership and approach to juggling the responsibilities of "soldier, scholar, and statesman." A common theme is that Petraeus models the very principles of adaptive leadership that he advocates.

Pakistan's Collapse - the Peace Making Challange

Update moved to top: More from Richard this AM. His closing paragraph,
There may have been a major miscalculation, whose consequences are now creating grave concern in Washington. The Times Online used the “nuclear” word in its lede and added: “The US considers rooting out militant sanctuaries in Pakistan critical to success in the Afghan war. Washington is also worried about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.”

From handshakes to worries about nukes. From “peace in our time” to the Battle of Britain. Once the overall design margin of a system has been eroded, failure when it comes manifests itself in a rapid cascade of events. The hidden stresses suddenly pile on each other and the structure, raddled with hundreds of weaknesses each minor in itself, collapses under their simultaneous impact. Today the United States is under threat on a number of fronts, from the Black Sea to cyberspace and South Asia. Since November 2008 America’s response to those challenges has been informed by a new set of assumptions about the nature of the world and the appropriate response to them. Now those assumptions will be put to the test. More than ever the United States needs good intelligence: about Pakistani intentions, the security of that country’s nukes, Taliban capability and foreign support against US troops. More than ever the public needs to know whether the world view of the new administration is part of the solution or part of the problem. Like the Islamabad, Washington will eventually find out.
Read him all. Especially the links from Bill Roggio.

****

A challenge I've heard little discussion of. Mahir Ali writing in The Dawn on the $5b aid package,
Arguably, the best possible use for the bulk of the forthcoming $5bn would be to spend it on education, whose inadequacy is in all probability the largest single reason why the sowers of ignorance find such fertile soil — and the dominant feudal mentality again helps to explain why the idea of enlightening the masses has never quite caught on. Chances are the money will be put to more mundane uses, such as upgrading weaponry or servicing the international debt. A certain proportion may also end up in someone or the other’s pocket. Richard Holbrooke says the handout should have been multiplied by 10; Zardari, who at one point was keen on soliciting $100bn, would wholeheartedly agree.

Meanwhile, the inadequately explained bail for Maulana Abdul Aziz and his return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, is more or less guaranteed to enhance the sense of beleaguerment that has become second nature to the majority of Islamabad’s residents, accustomed as they are to sporadic blasts and massive security barriers.

‘The government,’ according to a report in The Guardian at the weekend, ‘is urging foreign embassies to move into a diplomatic enclave that may soon resemble Baghdad’s green zone.’ Almost everyone acknowledges, however, that adequate precautions against suicide bombers are hardly feasible. The vulnerabilities of Lahore and Karachi — to say nothing of Quetta and Peshawar — have already been demonstrated, while the likes of Baitullah Mehsud are free to hold press conferences, evidently with little fear of interception.

If the centre cannot hold, things will inevitably fall apart. Every now and then the odd flicker of hope can be glimpsed, but chances of redemption are fading fast. Once India concludes its drawn-out electoral process, it might be well-advised to make contingency arrangements for a wave of refugees driven by Islamist anarchy.
If the centre cannot hold... it's not optimistic. Via Richard Frenandez xp Bill Baar's Westside

Torture - the ticking bomb

The ticking bomb... the classic problem for classrooms. Google it and you'll find all sorts of interesting discussion.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Torture

Jay Leno made another joke last night about former Illinois Gov Rod Blagojevich and the likelyhood he will be raped in prison. Jay got roars with it.

Another former Illinois Gov began each chapter of his political memoirs with a paragraph on his stay at the Federal Prison in Duluth Minn. One of those chapters described the rape of Walker's cellmate by other inmates one evening.

Americans routinely joke about this common crime in our prisons. We laugh about Blagojevich's likely fate and wish the guy would just go away.

Yet we go to war with each other over an administration that struggled with what violence could be applied on those who would do American great harm. An administration who took the morality of what they did seriously enough to debate it and put the opinions to paper.

Yet these every day crimes are just jokes.

Illinois

The origins of the word Illinois lie in the distant past of the nations who, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, spoke some form of the Algonquin language. The first transliteration of their name by the Jesuits were diverse: Illimoueck, Illinewek, Alliniwek, Liniwek--until Father Jolliet, havin spend a longer period of time in their company, determined that the correc word was "Illinois" (phonetically in English: "EE-LEE-NWA"). Like the Iroquois, they were not a single group, but a confederacy of subgroups, in their case numbering five: the Chahokia, the Kaskaskia, the Peoria, the Tamaoroa, and an adopted band, the Metchigami. The Metchigami were refugees from the West who crossed the Mississippi in search of protection at a time when the Illinois were at the apogee of their power.
--p 234, The Time of the French in the Heart of North America 1673-1818, by Charles J. Balesi

VDH: Morality of the Left?

I'd like to know the answer to this one myself. Especially on those Predator Drones sending Hellfires into houses in Waziristan.
II. I do not understand the morality of the Left. Let me get this straight: catching the beheader and architect of mass murder Khalid Sheik Mohammed and waterboarding him in Guantanamo at the zenith of worry about more 9/11s, anthrax attacks, and the European bombings is outright torture, an horrendous stain on the US (cf. what FDR did to saboteurs caught on the east coast during WWII). But blowing up the heads of two Somali pirates during negotiations or incinerating houses of suspects in Waziristan (lots of “collateral” as they say in Hollywood) is ok? Did I miss the habeas corpus, Miranda rights, Army Field Manual rules, appeals, etc. that were followed in the nano-second between the trigger pulling and the heads exploding?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

UU Gun Clubs

I was asked at Church a few Sundays ago if I had an Illinois Fire Arm Owners card 'cause if I did I could join some others at their UU gun club.

I said no. I'm really not one much for guns. They spook me a bit. She shrugged and said, so much for stereotypes.

We are a Western Church and I guess some of the frontier is still with us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Battle of Teutoburg Forest 2009

The 2000th anniversy is coming.

Adrian's been following the build up: here's post 20.

New Ulm Minnesota's getting ready for it. I've always found it strange Jesus never mentioned it.

From Imperium Konflick Mythos at Kalkreise
“Varus, give me my legions back!” Emperor Augustus is said to have cried out, when the news reached him that more than 15.000 Roman soldiers had been lured into an ambush by Germanic tribesmen and had suffered a crushing defeat.

The Emperor and the whole of Rome were shocked. The superpower Rome had lost three of its best legions and had suffered one of the greatest defeats of its history. The plans to set up a province east of the Rhine had been foiled.

The Varus Battle, also known as the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest, was to become an event of world historical importance. It shaped today's Europe decisively.

The Romans abandoned their plans for expansion in faraway Germania and retreated to beyond the Rhine.
It was the most significant battle of his time. Perhaps ours too.

Elihu Richter: "Want Peace? Stop the endemic hate language and incitement.. an open letter to Senator George Mitchell"

I'm not optimistic. Fearful times coming I'm afraid. From Scholars for Peace in the Middle East,
Dear Senator Mitchell:

I am a medical researcher whose background includes more than 30 years of work in epidemiology and environmental toxicology and injury prevention with Palestinians, Jordanians, and Egyptians, the design and supervision of joint projects in asthma in Gazan refugee camps. I have worked with the US CDC and USAID MERC on these projects. Currently, I am doing work tp apply the tools of prediction and prevention to genocide and genocidal terror, with an emphasis on the role of state sponsored hate language and incitement. Sadly, the wars and terror in the region have compelled me to move from the epidemiology of peacetime exposures to those having to do with genocide, genocidal terror, violence, war and mass atrocities.

Like many Israelis who supported the Oslo Accords, I have been mugged by reality. We have discovered that “land for peace” has morphed into “territory for terror”. Like many who have thought long and hard about the troubles in our region, I have concluded that we have to stop talking about "the peace process"--a nebulous term, and use something more binding: respect for life, live and let live and human dignity for all. The “peace process” has resulted in thousands of Israeli and Palestinian dead..

As much as I respect your commitment to mediating the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, or more accurately, much of the Islamic world, I believe your model of "conflict resolution" -(i.e.”all conflicts can be between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved”) is no longer relevant to the region. This conflict is now being driven and overshadowed by the asymmetrically existential threats to Israel posed by Iran's race to nuclear capacity, its leaders’ crude and explicit incitement to genocide and hate language, and their support for genocidal terror, and more. As we know from the Rwandan genocide, hate language and incitement by leaders is a predictor, initiator, catalyst and promoter of genocide. Iran, with its nuclear enrichment and missile development system, poses a far greater potential threat than that of the Rwandan genocidaires. It is now the epicenter of a global axis of genocide and genocidal terror, together with Sudan, North Korea, Hamas and Hizbulloh, Venezuela, and an array of enablers, allies of convenience, and protectors. In the light of the foregoing, I wish to pose seven questions to you and your colleagues.

The first is: What vigorous and aggressive steps are being taken by President Obama to prevent Iran from acquiring the capacity to make nuclear weapons?

The second is: Will the new Administration take vigorous and aggressive actions to prosecute Ahmadinejad, his superiors and his accomplices for their incitement to genocide-as they ffeed the fires of hatred and violence with their calls for the destruction of Israel and their use of dehumanizing hate language? Their language is the language of Mein Kampf. I refer you to HConRes 21 of the past Congress, which called for such prosecutions. Note the Rwandan precedent. The incitement by Ahmadinejad and his associates is a direct violation of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and the International Criminal Court.

The third is: Does the new Administration stand for use of the existing tools of international law, or does it not to exercise the Responsibility to Protect vulnerable groups from genocidal threats, or does it not ? A distinguished list of legal scholars and human rights activists from around the world have supported the petition to bring Ahmadinejad to trial for his incitement to genocide, which is a crime against humanity. They know that if the rockets and bombs are the hardware of genocide, the words are the software. Works kill.

The fourth is: What vigorous and aggressive measures will the new Administration take to stop Iran's and Syria’s aid and support for missiles and rockets directed at civilian populations, as well as the know how and financial aid for Hezbulloh and Hamas, two organizations committed to Israel's destruction-and, as we now read, regional destabilization of the regimes which are US allies-e.g. Egypt and Morocco?

The fifth is: What vigorous and aggressive measures will the US take to support the petition already submitted on behalf of the previous mayor of Shderot to the International Criminal Court to bring Khaled Maashal to justice for ordering the rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers-a crime against humanity? These attacks have been going on for 8 years.

The sixth is: What vigorous and aggressive steps will the Administration be taking to sponsor political and legal action against state sanctioned hate language and incitement in the mosques, mass media, school texts, academic centers and the parliaments not only by Iran, but the entire Islamic world, including the Palestinian Authority? If the Kassams, Grads and Katushyas are the hardware, the hate language and incitement coming from these sources are the software of genocidal terror and genocide itself. Region wide incitement and hate language which is the barrier to peace and reconciliation

The seventh is: Now that President Obama has made the decision to close Guantanimo, what vigorous and aggressive measures will you take to exploit this powerful moral precedent and ensure that Gilad Shalit receives his most basic human right--IRC visitation rights---in keeping with his status as a prisoner of war? (Classification and separation are early warning signs of genocide).

As someone committed to respect for life and human dignity, and live and let live, --and concerned about the future of our seven grandchildren here, I have to state the following. If the new Administration wobbles on any one of the foregoing issues, it should not expect any responsible leader in Israel to take it seriously. In fact, it would be reckless for us to do so. To repeat, we in Israel are terrified of the existential threats to our lives and our country posed by Iran and its terror surrogates. It is only after these very real threats are removed that we can move to conflict resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.

National, religious, ethnic and racial groups exposed to genocidal threats usually learn the hard way that they cannot rely on the world community to exercise the responsibility to protect. Anyone can see the similarity of today's regional situation, to the incitement and hate language used against Jews in pre-WWII Europe. The democratic world cannot allow itself to wait until it is too late and later ask forgiveness for having stood by while genocide was occurring. Like then, here too, a morbid plan is unfolding before our very eyes, combining nuclear threats, terror proxies, and regional incitement. I ask: Will the new Administration’s slogan--“Stand for Change” disguise its becoming a “Bystander for Genocide”?

Since its establishment in 1948 by the UN, Israel, though always reluctant to use force, has always relied on itself, not others, to do whatever is necessary to protect itself, in keeping with the Zionist ethos of self-reliance and self-respect. But that ethos includes a reluctance to use force (Israel endured 6000 rocket attacks over 8 years before launching Cast Lead). It also includes a commitment to preventing war by instilling in the next generation the values of life and respect for life and human dignity, albeit not always consistently and evenly. It also includes the fostering of regional projects in cooperation which apply these values in everyday life-in agriculture, conservation, environmental protection, and technology.

The values of Live and Let Live need to replace the cults of Death, Demonization and Dehumanization which are now endemic throughout the Islamic world. These cults have already cost 12 million lives in the Islamic World since the end of World War II.

Asking whether Israel is for or against a Palestinian State is looking for the right answer to the wrong question. The question you should be asking is: what will the world do to remove the asymmetrically existential threats to Israel from the dangers of Iranian nuclear enrichment, arming, supplying, training and inciting genocidal terror throughout the region. No agreement will have any sustainability without addressing these existential threats.

Sincerely,

Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH (Emeritus)

The author is Head of the Genocide Prevention Program at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine and Associate Director, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem and

Head of World Genocide Situation Room in GENOCIDE PREVENTION NOW (GPN) worldwide Web site

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A New UU: The Voice of Islam

A New UU writes on The Voice of Islam, and the silence of a moderate Islam.

It's out there. But how many UU's listen or support it?

AP Photo's of women in Afghanistan protesting legalized rape within marriage. From CTV.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Statement by Gilbert Meilaender, Paul McHugh, Benjamin Carson, Nicholas Eberstadt, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Alfonso Gómez-Lobo, William Hurlbut, Donald Landry, Peter Lawler, and Diana Schaub over at the Hastings Forum.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Islam's Modern Saint

Some links I want to remember from Asian Reflections.

Also this.

Easter 2007 Baghdad

And Easter gift from a friend.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Algren's Last Night

HT Beachwood Reporter

I used to drink at the old O'Rouke's at North and Sedgwick hoping to bump into him. I'd see Roger Ebert instead. Bartender told me there was no more miserable customer than Algren. A real jerk towards women in the bar.

Anyways, this is how a significant chunk of Chicago's elite view our city. Why is a curious question.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Muslim, Pacifist, and Pashtun Patriot


At one point Alex had a reference to the spirits of Ghandi and King as guides on his post on President Obama's plans for the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I noted in my response as an after thought that Alex had failed to mention Ghandi's Muslim counterpart Abdul Ghaffar Khan nicely profiled here.

We do so little to remember Muslims who share a faith so close to ours in Spirit. We offer a Chrisitan and Hindu to our Muslim brothers and sisters and fail to lift our fingers for even a simple Google search for souls such as Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

My religion is truth, love and service to God and humanity. Every religion that has come into the world has brought the message of love and brotherhood. Those who are indifferent to the welfare of their fellowmen, whose hearts are empty of love, they do not know the meaning of religion.
—Abdul Ghaffar Khan

The more I see him the more I love him. I know of the greatness of Abdul Ghaffar Khan
—Mohandas Gandhi

We wonder how to make our congregations culturally diverse and over look the many who seek the unity within all cultures. A unity we share with these comrades yet we fail them so when we ignore them like this.

Steak and Human Embryos

Patter Pensee picks up on Marilyn Seawell, and the slaughter of animals for human consumption.

I replied to Patter Pensee (Seawell doesn't accept comments),
Would you destroy an unwanted human embryo for research, or therapies? Would you put the same thought into it as you have about a steak?
And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.”

Those who hear the King might want to ponder just who he included in family here, before accepting the deference President Obama showed the medical-industry-research complex when he opened up further Embryonic Stem Cell research in the name of Science and Progress.

Simple Humanism tells me the answer: human life from conception to death is of equal moral value.