Sunday, May 31, 2009

to Morales supporters.

I'm not invested in this race one way or the other. My endorsement could be the kiss of death to either of them maybe. (I'm all for moving UUA to Denver by way...even if Morales isn't. If not there, maybe Cinci or Fort Wayne?). And Morales did respond to me once in clear language.

I just wish his supporters when they post stuff like this....,
...to perceive the need for change and move in the direction that keeps us relevant.
...would speak plainly on the relevant direction their movement's going to carry us if it isn't Denver, 'cause they leave me baffled with their endorsements.

What changes? What's irrelevant? What's not? When I smile and stick to those new comers, what am I'm I supposed to say of us, according to Rev Morales?

Peace Making: SecDef Gates on North Korea

From International Institute for Strategic Studies As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Singapore, Saturday, May 30, 2009
And then there’s North Korea. Dependent on the charity of the international community to alleviate the hunger and suffering of its people, North Korea’s leadership has chosen to focus the North’s limited energy and resources on a reckless and ultimately self-destructive quest for nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. These programs have isolated North Korea globally and, quite literally, starved its people.

The policy of the United States has not changed: Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. North Korea’s nuclear program and actions constitute a threat to regional peace and security. We unequivocally reaffirm our commitment to the defense of our allies in the region. The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies. And we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.

President Obama has offered an open hand to tyrannies that unclench their fists. He is hopeful, but he is not naïve. Likewise, the United States and our allies are open to dialogue, but we will not bend to pressure or provocation. And on this count, North Korea’s latest reply to our overtures isn’t exactly something we would characterize as helpful or constructive. We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region – or on us.

At the end of the day, the choice to continue as a destitute, international pariah, or chart a new course, is North Korea’s alone to make. The world is waiting.

There are no easy solutions to the challenges I have outlined this morning. And that brings me to my final point: the type of leadership you can expect from President Obama and the United States in coming years.

When Secretary Clinton visited the region, she said that this administration is committed to listening to the views of friends and partners across the globe. For example, we are now beginning to negotiate accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation – which demonstrates our willingness to take regional norms into account as we consider our relationships across the globe.

The President, similarly, has spoken of a more collaborative and consultative foreign policy – one committed to forging common solutions to common problems. Do not get me wrong: The United States will continue to be assertive on the international stage. We will protect our allies and our interests. We are, as a former secretary of state said, an indispensable power – but we are also one that is aware of our own limitations, aware that the world and nearly all the challenges we face are simply too complex to go it alone.

Let me close with a final thought. Throughout more than two centuries, the United States has been a beacon of freedom. In our efforts to protect our own freedom – and that of others – we have from time to time made mistakes, including at times being arrogant in dealing with others. But we always correct our course, and our willingness to do so is one of our most enduring strengths. In the end we know that our own democracy’s strength ultimately depends on adhering to our nation’s values and ideals – and on the strength and independence of other democracies and partners around the world. Those remain the guiding principles of our foreign policy today.
For all the talk about partners, it's going to be a lonely wait for the indespensible power to hear North Korea's decision to continue as a destitute, international pariah, or chart a new course.. Letting the madman Kim decide the future a frighting option.

Update: More Gates in Singapore,

Universalist Church Concord Michigan




Saturday, May 30, 2009

A UU and Obama Advisor speaking about North Korea

A quote from William J. Perry speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"We could have stopped this last nuclear test if we had chosen to do so. We could have stopped the first one had we chosen to do so," he told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"That requires a military action, and I'm not recommending military action. But somewhere along in this series of coercive actions, one can imagine an escalation, and if the ones that are less do not succeed, we have to be willing to consider the other ones," he said.
A little fuzzy I'd say but unlike many Peace Activists Perry's not waiting until the Battle's joined at the depth of the struggle when the outcome's in doubt to say this was a bad idea, just a blood for oil war, and so on.

If you've got a better idea, now is the time to lay it out because I'm certain the Administration looking for ideas on Iran. They read blogs too. So write. What speaks our Peace Making draft to do now?

Silva Harotonian

A site I found reading NPR's interview with Roxanna Saberi.
Silva Harotonian, an Iranian citizen of Armenian descent, recently held a modest role with a humanitarian organization working to improve child and maternal health in Iran. Her work and life were interrupted on June 26, 2008 when she was detained by Iranian authorities and charged with participating in an effort to overthrow the Iranian government through a ''soft revolution.'' On January 19, 2009, she was sentenced to three years in jail.

My cousin Silva is a kind, honorable young woman whose arrest was a tragic misunderstanding. Since she was arrested, Silva has sat in jail unable to tell her story, innocent of any intentional wrongdoing. Now I am speaking for her. Please look through this site to get to know Silva’s story and to sign the appeal to Iran’s government using your voice to help Silva regain her freedom.

Arlene Jones writes a novel: Billion Dollar Winner

Arlene's first novel is coming out soon. Here's a link with a taste of it.
What? An activist winning the lottery? How can that be? True Activists don’t buy lottery tickets. They protest against it.
My kinda book. I'm a guy appalled at Illinois considering video poker machines on every corner to balance the budget yet I get lotto fever when that jackpot goes over a $100 million.

Good luck Arlene. Hoping to see you on Oprah, and then in Hollywood!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unitarian Universalism as a Movement (part 2)

Some links on Religious Movements: from the Free Dictionary
Noun 1. religious movement - a movement intended to bring about religious reforms
And Wikipedia on Social Movements,
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change.
So I guess a common characteristics of Movements are goals. Movements are out to Change something or someone. Movements have mission and purpose.

I'm not sure Unitarian Universalism fits that frame. We have covenants on how to live in community. Life's purposes and goals are up to us alone, but we covenant to seek them in community.

But it's hardly exhaustive research...

PS I zap the scatological comments.

RIP Terry Barnich

Chicago Daily Observer's obituary on a brave guy from Illinois.

Unitarian Universalism as a Movement

I'm not certain what people mean when they write of UUism as a Movement. I don't think it's one. Movements are ephemeral; at least the ones I've known. Their mission once accomplished (or failed) then they fade away with members often burned out.

But then I'm not certain what people mean by this either.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fr. Robert Barron: Obama, Notre Dame and The Fetishism of Dialogue

He writes,
What I sensed in both Jenkins’s and Obama’s speeches was a sort of fetishism of dialogue, an excessive valorization of the second stage of the cognitional process. The conversation, they seemed to imply, should remain always open-ended, the dialogue on-going, decision or judgment permanently delayed. But dialogue is a means to an end; it is valuable in the measure that it conduces toward judgment.
...but read him all.

Unlike Catholics, we UUs not writing Church Doctrines, we unite as seekers towards truth. We don't unite as believers in truths.

I fear we sometimes fail to keep that in mind and instead write documents rendered meaningless in pursuit of consensus.

I'd rather the crisply written and logical exposition of a stand, I alone may vote against in disagreement, versus the meaningless document we all agreed upon. Knowing what I disagree with is more valuable than agreeing in confusion.

UU's (at least many I know) have a hard time with that. We don't come together in agreement of belief and there is no reason to hammer out the agreement.

We unite in pursuit... we unite in activity.. we unite in doing Church. Conveying what we do instead of what we believe a tough thing to explain to others maybe... even to ourselves. It's easier to write muddier and muddier consensus tracts no one reads I fear.

Obama's trial and conviction of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani , and our Values

From the President's speech,
We are preparing to transfer another detainee [Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani ] to the Southern District of New York, where he will face trial on charges related to the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania - bombings that killed over 200 people. Preventing this detainee from coming to our shores would prevent his trial and conviction. And after over a decade, it is time to finally see that justice is served, and that is what we intend to do.
Sure sounds to be Obama's got this fellow convicted already.

Recall Chief Justice Stone and Justice Jackson on Nuremberg.
Chief Justice Stone, who once referred to the Nuremberg trials as a "high-grade lynching party," wrote privately in November 1945 that it would not disturb him greatly if the power of the Allied victors was "openly and frankly used to punish the German leaders for being a bad lot, but it disturbs me some to have it dressed up in the habiliments of the common law and the Constitutional safeguards to those charged with crime." Justice Jackson's response to this criticism says a great deal about how he viewed the Nuremberg Trials:

"When did it become a crime to be one of a 'bad lot'? What was the specific badness for which they should be openly and frankly punished? And how did he know what individuals were included in the bad lot? . . . . If it would have been right to punish the vanquished out-of-hand for being a bad lot, what made it wrong to have first a safeguarded hearing to make sure who was bad, and how bad, and of what his badness consisted?"
Bush and Cheney sought the compromise between Stone and Jackson: to sort out the bad lot and hold them for the duration.

Obama sounds to me like he's going to treat terrorists, at least Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani , as common criminals for what can only be Stone's high-grade lynching party. (Or maybe life in a super max with no return home come AQ's Fatwa of surrender).

So who's betraying American Values here? Show trials as criminals for warriors at war with the United States? Obama's words betray him:...would prevent his trial and conviction.

Hold them in Gitmo for the duration. To do otherwise is a lie.

Afterthought: ... would prevent his trial and conviction.... Remember Obama a Constitutional Lawyer... I can't believe this just a slip of his pen in the speech.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

AI on the torture of Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi

A man tortured not for information he might yield, but as ...a prisoner of conscience, held only because of his religious beliefs. A prisoner of Concscience Rev Sinkford could not speak a word of solidarity for on his behalf.

Via AI,
Document - Iran: Further Information on Arbitrary arrest/ fear for safety/ possible prisoner of conscience/ medical concern/torture and ill-treatment: Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi (m)

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/045/2009

14 May 2009


Further Information on 262/06 (MDE 13/114/2006, 29 September 2006) and follow-up (MDE 13/120/2006, 13 October 2006; MDE 134/2006, 11 December 2006; MDE 13/140/2007, 30 March 2007; MDE 074/2007, 15 June 2007;MDE 13/103/2007, 10 August 2007 and MDE 13/135/2008, 11 September 2008) - Arbitrary arrest/ fear for safety/ possible prisoner of conscience/ medical concern/torture and ill-treatment

IRAN Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi (m), aged 50, Shi'a cleric

Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi was subjected to beatings on 5 May 2009 in Yazd Central Prison, central Iran, where he was transferred in the latter part of 2008. He has been held in solitary confinement since 27 January 2009. He may be a prisoner of conscience, held only because of his religious beliefs.

On 1 May, Ayatollah SayedHossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi wrote a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, requesting that international observers be sent to Iran in order to pave the way and to assist Iranian people in an open referendum on the system of government (see letter at http://www.hrairan.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=967:456&catid=66:304&Itemid=293). Following this letter, Ayatollah Boroujerdi was beaten in prison on 5 May and in protest he began a hunger strike. The prison authorities reportedly told the Ayatollah’s family that his telephone privileges of calling his family and lawyer were being suspended and that he was being punished for his latest statements about a referendum. There is no information available to Amnesty International as to his present condition with regard to his hunger strike.


Ayatollah SayedHossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment on 13 August 2007. According to the judgement he will serve one year in a prison in Tehran and the remaining ten years in a prison in another part of the country. He has been repeatedly denied adequate treatment for his medical concerns including Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems. Ayatollah Boroujerdi is reported to have been repeatedly tortured and ill-treated since his arrest. His family have appointed lawyers for him but, the Special Court for the Clergy (SCC) has refused to allow them to defend him on the grounds that only clerics appointed by the Judiciary can make representations on his behalf.


AyatollahSayedHossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi advocates the removal of religion from the political basis of the Iranian state. He was arrested at his home in Tehran on 8 October 2006 along with more than 300 of his followers. He and 17 followers were initially sentenced to death, but the death sentences were later dropped. In addition to his sentence of 11 years' imprisonment, Ayatollah Boroujerdi was also banned from practicing his clerical duties and his house and all his belongings were confiscated.


Most of the 77 followers of Ayatollah Boroujerdi who also faced trial, have now been released. Five of them are however, serving prison terms ranging between 2 and 5 years.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The SCC, which operates outside the framework of the judiciary, was established in 1987 by Ayatollah Khomeini to try members of the Shi’a religious establishment in Iran. Its procedures fall farshort of international standards for fair trial: among other things, defendants can only be represented by clergymen nominated by the court, who are not required to be legally qualified. In some cases the defendant has been unable to find any nominated cleric willing to undertake the defence and has been tried without any legal representation. The court can hand down sentences including flogging and the death penalty.


RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:

- calling for a prompt and impartial investigation into allegations that Ayatollah Boroujerdi has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and, with its methods and findings made public;

- urging the authorities to end the practice of solitary confinement, in line with the recommendations made by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;

- seeking assurances that he is not being tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention;
- urging the authorities to allow Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi to receive adequate medical attention and regular access to family visits;

- expressing concern that Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi and his detained followers may be prisoners of conscience, who should be immediately released if not promptly charged with a recognizably criminal offence and given a fair trial;
- expressing concern that Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi has been denied the right to adequate and regular access to legal representation of his choice.
APPEALS TO:

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi

c/o Director, Judiciary Public Relations and Information Office

Ardeshir Sadiq

Judiciary Public Relations and Information Office

No. 57, Pasteur St., corner of Khosh Zaban Avenue

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info@dadiran.ir(In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)

Salutation: Your Excellency


COPIES TO:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info_leader@leader.ir

via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter(English)

http://www.leader.ir/langs/fa/index.php?p=letter(Persian)

Chuck Schumer On "Torture" - "Do What You Have To Do"

To what you have to do a good deal broader than the measured opinions the administration contemplated. It wasn't do what you have to do which was Democrats then, and probably Democrats tomorrow, should we sustain another mass attack.

The Sept 2002 Pelosi brief : 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'

From WaPo back in 2007 via The Raw Story,
Individual lawmakers' recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

Congressional officials say the groups' ability to challenge the practices was hampered by strict rules of secrecy that prohibited them from being able to take notes or consult legal experts or members of their own staffs. And while various officials have described the briefings as detailed and graphic, it is unclear precisely what members were told about waterboarding and how it is conducted. Several officials familiar with the briefings also recalled that the meetings were marked by an atmosphere of deep concern about the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack.

"In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic," said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. "But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.' "
I'm tired of Democrats as the party of the bamboozled. It's time for Speaker Pelosi and the CIA briefer to appear before the Truth Commission, under oath, and tell the world all.

Update: She really does seem bamboozled. It's time for the Speaker to go home...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

How Cook County works

For UU's unaware of how Cook County Democratic Machine politics works.

Fox News picks up Illinois Review's story on Rep. Froehlich's property tax reduction service.



And seven shots intended for the home of Cook County Commissioner Tony Perica... the foe of Obama endorsed (Obama's 'No, I Can't Moment) Cook County Prez Todd Stroger,



Jeff Berkowitz summed it up with Forrest Claypool from the No, I can't Moment link,
Berkowitz: why couldn't [Obama] go that extra length? And, you know Barack. And, you've worked with Barack and you helped elect him to the U.S. Senate. So, it's not like he just knew you as a reformer. You folks - you've worked with David Axelrod's firm. You helped start David Axelrod's firm, AKPmedia, right?

Claypool: Correct.

Berkowitz: In 1984-85, and you worked closely with Rahm Emanuel, you knew Axelrod, you were sort of the Three Amigos, and maybe the fourth amigo was Barack Obama, why couldn't [Obama] go that extra length and endorse you? You could have been Cook County Board President. You could have seen reform [enacted]. You could have done a great many things that I know Barack Obama would like to do to improve health care and so forth for people in Cook County. Why couldn't he make that move?

Claypool: I don't know. I mean, look, politics is complex. People have multiple relationships and they do the things they have to do and believe in.