Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hayder Al-Khoei on wikileaks: A record worse than Saddam’s? Think again.

From Al-Khoei's response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the British Iraqi Forum,
The west should indeed be blamed for many of the catastrophic events that unfolded in Iraq throughout its history, but it would be both naïve and insincere to try to pin all the blame on Bush and Blair. If anything, these leaks confirm previous suspicions that terrorists came ten a penny from neighbouring Syria and Iran.

To Iraqis like me, who have lost immediate family-members both pre and post 2003, the sudden burst of conscience from a public that was silent during three decades of the harshest, most despotic regime the Middle East has seen in the last few centuries is abhorrent in itself, and leads me to question the motivation behind the sudden faux-concern for the plight of the millions of suffering Iraqis. Here in London, Iraqis campaigned for years against Saddam, and tried desperately to convince people like Ms Alibhai-Brown to support their worthy cause. Very few heeded the calls; apparently stories of Iraqis dying are not all too interesting. Unless of course the West is somehow culpable in the killing.

It is such a shame that commentary on Iraq has been reduced by many to an industry focused at selling news with little regard for history and context. Much of the suffering in Iraq today is a direct result of Saddam’s legacy. It is the failure to understand and appreciate historical context that has led to the crass, shallow, superficiality that has become a feature of much of the news coverage in Iraq.

It is cruel to count victims as statistics who perished in the recent war, but if we want to be soulless and academic, then the civilian victims that are identified in the latest documents make up only one-third of those who vanished during the Anfal campaign under Saddam. More to the point, Ms Alibhai-Brown seems to paper over the fact that tens of thousands of the post 2003 war victims were in fact targeted by a ruthless insurgency in Iraq, and insurgency that relies on remnants of Saddam’s regime for funding, logistics and indeed recruits. Saddam may have been arrested, tried, and executed, but his men are still in Iraq committing the same crimes they have always been committing. The legacy of Saddam is still claiming lives and it is still destroying the country.

Gay's on the Wrong Side of Love

Bay Area Reporter on Gay voters shift slightly to GOP
The number seemed startling: 31 percent of voters who identified as "gay, lesbian, bisexual" in a national exit poll on November 2 said they voted Republican. Just two years ago, only 19 percent voted for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Is the "gay vote" for Republicans really changed that much?

Is it really that large – 31 percent?

Keen News Service looked at the vote November 2 in precincts in heavily gay neighborhoods in six cities around the country. That data suggests the gay vote for Republicans was 26 percent. But that 26 percent represents a seven percent increase over how those same precincts voted in the 2006 midterm elections.

And when you consider that the national exit poll data was re-weighted a few days after the election so it would correspond with actual election results – meaning the estimate of the gay vote for Republicans is now calculated at 29 percent – then the two data sets are not that far off.

Furthermore, notes Patrick Egan, a public opinion specialist and professor at New York University, both sets of data show a relatively similar shift. Between 2006 and 2010, the exit poll data showed a shift of about five points toward voting Republican. The gay precinct data showed a shift of about seven points.

Walter Russell Mead: Can The L-word Be Saved?

First in a series on defining Liberalism 5.0.
During the next couple of weeks I will post some more about what 5.o liberalism will look like and how it both breaks with the policies and world view of 4.0 liberals while seeking core liberal values in a changing world. But whether we still call it liberalism or whether we find some new word to stand for our deepest national hopes and dreams, American society must move beyond the increasingly dysfunctional and outdated ideas of 4.0 liberalism. Whatever was the case in the past, it just doesn’t work now. If we don’t recognize that and move on, economic decline and social stagnation will undercut our prosperity, endanger our liberty and undermine our international power and domestic security. That is a future no true liberal could love.
A series I'll be following because today's 4.0 Liberalism certainly dysfunctional and outdated.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas on the West Side 'L'

Santa rides outside and that's gotta be awfully cold.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Liveblog: Students’ Day in Iran, Dec. 7 (16 Azar) 2010

Updates over at Dissected News.

Below reportedly of students from Sharif University in Tehran.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Benedict XVI: Christian Radical

Samuel Gregg writing Ratzinger's telling us to quit over analyzing Jesus. Jesus was what he said and the message pretty simple.

Read the whole thing, but here's Gregg's conclusion.

There's a Humanist and Pagan response here, but I don't think much of a Christian one that withstands Ratzinger's Radicalism.
But why, we might ask, does Benedict belabor the point? One reason is surely the damage done to Christian faith by scholars parading various pet theories as “facts.” Another reason, however, may be Benedict’s sense that even many faithful Christians have forgotten the radical implications of accepting Christ as whom he says he is.

First, such an acceptance rescues Christianity from becoming what the German philosopher Rüdiger Safranski calls “a cold religious project”: a “mix of social ethics, institutional power thinking, psychotherapy, techniques of meditation, museum curation, cultural project management, and social work.” That’s a concise description of the “liberal Christianity” that’s helped empty Western Europe’s churches, particularly in Benedict’s German homeland.

Second, it forces us to take seriously aspects of Christianity that have disappeared from public view over the past forty years.

In recent decades, Benedict claims, Christian preaching has stopped mentioning the Last Things revealed by Christ: i.e., heaven, hell, and the fact that all of us will be judged. Instead, preaching has become “one-sided, in that it is largely directed toward the creation of a better world, while hardly anyone talks any more about the other, truly better world.”

For confirmation, just look at the websites of those religious orders which talk endlessly about social justice without relating it to Christian belief in the limits of earthly justice and the reality of divine justice. This diminishes Christianity to either what Benedict calls “political moralism, as happened in liberation theology” or “psychotherapy and wellness.” It also, some might interject, encourages us to conjure up secular messiahs who, not being God, cannot possibly fulfill religious-like expectations of hope and change.

In the end, it results in the same thing: practical atheism, at the heart of which is a teddy-bear Christ who, as Benedict wrote years ago, “demands nothing, never scolds, who accepts everyone and everything, who no longer does anything but affirm us.”

And therein may be the essence of Benedict’s Light of the World. Yes, Christ always offers us forgiveness. Nonetheless, Benedict adds, Christ also “takes us seriously.” Having stated who he is, Christ leaves us free either to accept him as he really is and order our lives accordingly, or to construct what another Christian scholar, Thomas More, called “worldly fantasies” of our own making.

More radically different paths are hard to imagine.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Chicago's Gastropub Revolution

Thanks to Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap just down the street (for now) from Meadville Lombard. Via the Chicago Bar Project
Chicago's smoking ban went into effect January 1, 2008, thanks in large part to the Woodlawn Tap, known to its Hyde Park clientele as "Jimmy's" in honor of the bars long-time proprietor, Jimmy Wilson. According to Sean Parnell, creator of Chicago Bar Project and author of Historic Bars of Chicago, "The Sun-Times surveyed the air quality according to EPA standards in the smokiest Chicago restaurants and bars and found Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap to be the worst. Patrons had always claimed that the bar was smoky, but no one realized that it was equivalent to breathing in the air following a volcanic eruption."

Critics warned the ban would spell doom for the traditional Chicago bar. They were right. Gone are the days when bars can rely on faithful regulars putting in eight-hour shifts on their favorite stool. This has literally cleared the air and forced a change of strategy for any would-be bar owner. It's also created a pleasant side-effect: bars have become accessible to a whole range of new clientele. Women are increasingly attracted to gastropubs and gastrolounges because they no longer fear leaving with hair and clothes smelling like an ashtray at a downtown Vegas casino after 10 minutes, and their more discriminating palates are satisfied by the upscale board of fare. And with so many young professionals living in the area, a smoke-free atmosphere with fine food & drink also appeals to those with small children before they make their required exodus to the suburbs. Thus, tables are filled by day with families, in early evening with couples, and at night with those seeking after-dinner drinks and perhaps more than just culinary sustenance… While the focus may now be more on turning tables than turning coasters at Chicago bars, the goal is still the same—to create an experience that will drive repeat business and they've done just that.

Health Care Reform: Cutting Supply of Care to reduce Costs of Care?

An example of the weird way the Feds approach the high costs of care not be adding to supply, but by cutting supply.  Solving the problem of the scarcity of care, by making care more scare.  In this case the care is Durable Medical Equipment for seniors.
North Carolina’s leader in home medical equipment advocacy and education, NCAMES, is mobilizing its membership base to support efforts led by Rep. Sue Myrick (R - NC, 9th District) to have the Federal government address fatal flaws in a bidding program affecting thousands of seniors and patients in need beginning in January 2011. The bidding program decides which home medical equipment companies can service patients who use Medicare to pay for their equipment

Copies of a November 24 letter co-signed by Rep. Myrick and Rep. Bruce Braley (D - IA, 1st District) which was sent to Donald Berwick, M.D., Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), were distributed to hundreds of NCAMES member companies statewide. In the letter, Reps. Myrick and Braley press Dr. Berwick about a recent study revealing that more than 40 percent of the companies selected by CMS’ flawed bidding program to provide HME services are financially unstable and unable to provide necessary medical supplies.
“The bidding program managed by Dr. Berwick’s agency is killing small businesses across North Carolina and needlessly endangering thousands of home medical equipment patients,” Beth Bowen, NCAMES Executive Director, said.
According to Bowen, testimony at a Congressional Subcommittee hearing this past September was overwhelmingly against the CMS bidding program, with example after example given of its negative effects such as forcing home health care patients into institutional care. Bi-partisan support for halting the bidding program has been growing over the past few months, Bowen said, with elected officials like Rep. Myrick pushing CMS harder to address concerns.
For example, Rep. Myrick pointed-out in her letter that many contract winners chosen by CMS actually have credit limits of less than $10,000, are on credit hold, or are so far behind on their payments that their accounts have been turned over for collections or legal process.
The CMS bidding program, “has a poor track record” Myrick wrote, emphasizing that seniors will have difficulty obtaining the supplies and services they need, and “The new system could drive out quality suppliers who have reliably served seniors in the past.”
And here's Don "PJ" Berwick's response to Congress via Bid News Blog,
WASHINGTON — AAHomecare reports that in his first appearance at a Nov. 17 hearing on health reform before the Senate Finance Committee, CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D., singled out national competitive bidding program as an example of how the federal government can save money.

When Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, questioned him about projected savings under the Affordable Care Act, Berwick responded that the costs of DME had fallen 32 percent in “the trial” (Round 1) of the bid program, “returning something like $150 million I think back to beneficiaries in those nine trial areas.”

According to AAHomecare, “Berwick focused only on short-term savings attributable to the bidding program and not on the sharp reduction in patient choice and access to quality care that will result from the misguided program and the badly designed bidding system.”
Focused only on short-term savings. Next step is reduce demand-for-care to meet the reduced supply-of-care and Liberalism's getting pretty raw about how to reduce demand for care.

پخش اطلاعیه دعوت برای بزرگداشت روز ١٦ آذر در دانشگاه تهران / Hand outs in Tehran University Calling for Protest on Dec 7

Via Mir Hossein Mousavi میر حسین موسوی
Students of Tehran University distributed hand outs calling on their fellow classmates to participate in protests on National Student Day (December 7) despite heavy security presence. Green students of Tehran University along with other brave students all over the country by putting up the photos of imprisoned student activists invited their classmates to be the voice of political prisoners on National Student Day and protest to the brutal injustice by the coup government.
The Islamic Organization of Students of Amir Kabir University by issuing an invitation called on all students across the country to attend the protests on National Students Day (December 7) and chant "University is Alive". In their statement, the students of this university also call the civil movement of Iranian people and especially the students' movement vital for the future of the country and add that the students' movement is "a thorn in the eye of the tyranny" and ask the students to continue the path.

Re: Publishing Sermon Titles: "Crowds Smash Door: Near Riot to Hear Fosdick"

From Leonard Sweets review of Liberalism and Lost Days: A Re-evaluation of Fosdick.
 These were the days when Christians literally beat down the doors to get into church. "Crowds Smash Door: Near Riot to Hear Fosdick" ran the headlines of a 1924 newspaper. It was not uncommon for people to wait in front of the church for more than two hours in what they called the "bread line" so that they could be fed at Fosdick’s table. Church members were ticketed to ensure seating, but others had to find fragments of nourishment where they could, with some sneaking into already packed balconies through fire escapes and other evasive subterfuges, and with Fosdick’s own seat filled by a standee as soon as he entered the pulpit. The carnationed, gray-gloved ushers, or what Fosdick termed his "Guard of Honor," were really the city’s best-dressed bouncers and bodyguards. "We had a hectic time yesterday in the ushering business," one memorandum from a head usher reported. "One lady fainted. Two ladies crawled under the ropes on the pleas of wanting to go away and then beat down the center aisle. Mr. Lawton held them up. The crowd in the south gallery was dense and passing the plate was difficult and lengthy, as every one wanted to chip in -- bless their hearts. This explains why the other chap and I had to sprint down the aisles to catch up with the procession." Liberal causes found patrons in wealthy benefactors like John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who was ubiquitous in Fosdick’s career, and prominent public-relations experts like Ivy Lee, who retailed Fosdick like breakfast cereal through market analysis, mass distribution and image-building.
These were also the days when the papers routinely listed sermon titles for the coming Sunday. I'm guessing Rev Fosdick sure let the flock now what was coming.

Like marketing breakfast cereal? Well, breakfast is the healthy way to start the day. No sin marketing a way to a healthy spiritual life either.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal: Bring on the Death Panels.

Via Net Hentoff: Real Death Panels Are Coming Our Way
NEW YORK Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in economics and an influential New York Times columnist, also has a blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal." On ABC's "This Week" (Nov. 14), during a discussion on balancing the federal budget against alarming deficits, he proclaimed the way to solve this problem is through deeply cost-effective health care rationing.

"Some years down the pike," he said, "we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes." That would mean the U.S. Debt Reduction Commission "should have endorsed the panel that was part of the [Obama] health care reform."

Sarah Palin was one of the first, and the most resounding, to warn us of the coming of government panels to decide which of us -- especially, but not exclusively, toward the end of life -- would cost too much to survive.

She was mocked, scorned from sea to shining sea, including by the eminent Paul Krugman for being, he said, among those spreading "the death penalty lie" as part of "the lunatic fringe." (Summarized in "Krugman Wants 'Death Panels,'" Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Nov. 15.)

Soon after he had left the ABC studio, someone must have alerted Krugman that -- gee whiz -- he had publicly rooted for death panels!

Swiftly, on his blog, Krugman admitted he had indeed said those dreaded words, but:

"What I meant is that health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they're willing to pay for -- not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we're willing to spend for extreme care."

"Extreme care," Professor Krugman? To be defined by government commissions, right?
Extreme Care... Liberalism as we've known it spent. That's the Death Panel at work now. The idea and conscience have gone bankrupt and no extreme care's going to revive the ideological corpse.

Update: The conclusion from Paul Hsieh's, The Free Market Is Not Another Form of Rationing
Individuals are entitled to health care that they purchase themselves, is owed to them by contract (e.g., insurance), or is given to them as voluntary charity.

Whenever government attempts to guarantee an alleged “right” to health care, it must also control it. Bureaucrats and politicians must ultimately decide who gets what health care and when, not doctors and patients — if only to control costs. This is true rationing, and it necessarily violates the actual rights of the practitioners forced to provide care on the government’s terms (rather than their own) and the taxpayers forced to pay for it.

The free market is therefore the antithesis of rationing. It respects individual rights, whereas rationing unjustly violates individual rights — a crucial moral distinction.

If liberals are genuinely concerned about making health care more affordable, they should support free market reforms. Although the current American system is not a free market (but rather a mixed system), it is the least-regulated sectors of medicine — such as LASIK eye surgery — that follow the typical free-market pattern of falling prices and rising quality that we take for granted with computers and cell phones. This can and should be the norm in all of health care.

So when someone argues that a free market in health care would be just “another form of rationing,” challenge that claim. You won’t merely be debating semantics. You will be defending justice and individual rights. You will be helping to lower costs. And if someday you need an MRI scan in six days rather than six months, you may even be saving your own life.
...and my classic example of how government intervention in Health Care involves decisions on Capital Investment. Think the corruption brought to Illinois Government with the Health Facilities Planning Council, and Hospital Execs wearing wires for the Fed as they're shook down for bribes, or the Guv Blagojevich himself shaking down Chicago's Childrens Hospital.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nick Cohen: Political Correctness (Not Nearly Mad Enough)

Nick Cohen shows which side of Love the UN falls on. My emphasis below..
The decision of the United Nations last week to exclude gays from a special resolution condemning extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions did not receive the attention it deserved.

The United Nations is still the object of wistful and on occasion Utopian hopes from those who do not realise that it can never be a moral force because it is a club without membership rules that allows any tyranny to join. Its best – some would say only – good purpose is to reveal how apparently rival dictatorial ideologies – African Nationalist, Islamist, Communist, post-communist and crony capitalist – will sink their differences and unite in opposition to liberalism.

Among the lackeys of despots who said it was all right to kill queers were the representatives of Iran Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, North Korea, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. Not one African country voted in favour of protecting homosexuals from extra-judicial murder, including Nelson Mandela’s South Africa, which still gets far too easy a ride in the Western press in my view. At the UN the supporters of dictatorship and dictatorial ideas reminded us once again that what unites them is more important than one what divides them, and that lesson is always worth remembering.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NBC: Christian woman faces death for blasphemy

via MSNBC,
ITTAN WALLI, Pakistan – In early November, in the dusty city of Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s heartland, Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian woman and mother of five, was sentenced to death by hanging under the country’s blasphemy laws.
Her crime? She allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
Walid Phares notes in his facebook page "We're giving 5 billion dollars to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to see this happening?... Go figure...

Real Social Justice

Ryan Messmore on Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio who coined Social Justice,
His vision of social justice, then, emphasized freedom and respect for human beings and the small institutions through which they pursue basic needs. He held that true justice can’t be achieved without doing justice to our social nature and natural forms of association. Social justice entailed a social order in which government doesn’t overrun or crowd out institutions of civil society such as family, church and local organizations. Rather, they are respected, protected, and allowed to flourish.

Today, well-meaning policy makers and activists often do just the opposite as they try to overcome social challenges. Rather than viewing society as a network of smaller associations and communities, they mistakenly equate society with the state, centering its identity upon civic government.

As a result, these policy makers and activists conceive justice in terms of how much government directly addresses the needs of individuals. They too often bypass the web of intermediary institutions or deem those institutions irrelevant—or detrimental—in addressing and solving large social problems.

FBI: Hate Crimes and Anti-Religious Offenses Declined In 2009

Note the keeper quote here is: Anti-religious crimes also declined, although attacks against Jewish targets continued to far outstrip incidents aimed at Muslims and Islamic sites.

Politics Daily: FBI: Hate Crimes and Anti-Religious Offenses Declined in 2009

Pecksniffian progressives

Via George Will today on violent video games today, and corrupting comics from the 50s,
Progressivism is a faith-based program. The progressives' agenda for improving everyone else varies but invariably involves the cult of expertise - an unflagging faith in the application of science to social reform. Progressivism's itch to perfect people by perfecting the social environment can produce an interesting phenomenon - the Pecksniffian progressive.
It's the cult of expertise that rubs me wrong and the failure to measure the trade-offs of submitting to the experts versus any progress towards perfection.

Christopher Hitchens 1-0 Tony Blair

Via The Guardian,
Both men were unabashedly stalwart in their positions. Hitchens, one of the leading "new atheists" and author of the hit book God Is Not Great, slammed religion as nothing more than supernatural gobbledegook that caused untold misery throughout human history. "Once you assume a creator and a plan it make us subjects in a cruel experiment," Hitchens said before causing widespread laughter by comparing God to "a kind of divine North Korea".

Blair, perhaps not surprisingly, was a little less forthright. On the backfoot for much of the debate he kept returning to his theme that many religious people all over the world were engaged in great and good works. They did that because of their faith, he argued, and to slam all religious people as ignorant or evil was plain wrong. "The proposition that religion is unadulterated poison is unsustainable," he said. Blair called religion at its best "a benign progressive framework by which to live our lives".

Throughout the 90-minute debate Hitchens seemed to have the crowd's sympathy. That might have been to do with his ill appearance due to cancer, but was far more likely to be down to the sharpness of his verbal barbs and the fact that 57% of the audience already agreed with his sceptical position according to a pre-debate poll, while just 22% agreed with Blair's side. The rest were undecided.
Sometimes Religion is for the good. Sometimes it's for the bad. Like any human impulse, it's best kept in check by institutional checks and bounds. But human impulse it is, and a very powerful one. It's reality shouldn't be denied.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Uncommitted Relationships

Lucky he's not a politician.
"The Rev. John H. Thomas, former general minister and president, has shared with UCC leaders, including the current Collegium of Officers, Conference Ministers and others, that he and his wife, Lynda, are in the process of divorcing, and that he has formed a relationship with another woman with whom he worked while in Cleveland. While it is not appropriate to discuss details of this matter publicly, it is important that, as officers of the church, we respond with truth and clarification when questions or concerns are raised. Both parties have informed the Collegium that the relationship is entirely consensual and, at the urging of the Collegium, Rev. Thomas has also informed the Church and Ministry Department of the Western Reserve Association of the matter.
Was Thomas her boss? Weird to note this committed relationship was consensual. One thing that drives me more conservative is I wish, in this case, the fellow would man-up and just say things as they are. None of these vague words about a very human failing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tony Blair defends religious faith

Tony Blair has defended religious faith as a force for good in the world during a televised debate with atheist and columnist Christopher Hitchens.

This would have been a great thing to see.
In a question from the audience Mr Blair was asked what role faith played in his decision to invade Iraq.

He said: "I think we can nail this one pretty easily. It was not about religious faith.

"You know, one of the things that I sometimes say to people is, look, the thing about religion and religious faith is if you are a person of faith, it's part of your character, it defines you in many ways as a human being.

"It doesn't do the policy answers, I am afraid.

"Even on the major decisions that are to do with war and peace that I've taken, they were decisions based on policy, and so they should be, and you may disagree with those decisions, but they were taken because I genuinely believed them to be right."
Were it that easy....

Think on These Things: Sources of Courage, Hope, and Faith for Those Serving Their Country.

As a carrier battle group steams to the Yellow Sea off Korea (and the Creating Peace folks go silent on conflict. Seriously, does one of them care to comment on Prez Obama's actions here, or must we wait till war goes south and then say hey, big mistake.), it would seem appropriate to for Beacon press to reprint this little book.

A recent sermon on it: Think on These Things: Sources of Courage, Hope, and Faith…
A Sermon by Sean Honea

A few clips from Honea,
In 1941, the America Unitarian Association (or AUA) commissioned a pocket guild for Unitarians serving in WWII entitled Think on These Things: Sources of Courage, Hope, and Faith for Those Serving Their Country.

Describe Book:

I have it right here. This edition was published in 1942. It’s the Fourth Printing. So that would make it almost 70 years old. It’s a good size for soldiers: small, thin, and if one things soldier had plenty of, it was pockets, and so I don’t imagine it would have been too hard to carry. It’s 77 pages, with 8 pages for personal notes -- lined and unlined – choices are good things. Now I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the pages are just the right size for ripping out and rolling cigarette. So if nothing else it was practical, it was it’s fourth printing after all. I’m old enough to remember mass smoke breaks, just barely.


Think on These Things: Sources of Courage, Hope, and Faith for Those Serving Their Country

Sound nice doesn’t it. Very all encompassing and general. Take note of the gender inclusive and non-deity specific language. It’s very UU.

At least in the title, once I get two lines into Frederick May Eliot’s Forward, it takes slight turn towards masculine. He writes:

“This Book has been planned and prepared to offer young men in the national service a means of fortifying their faith in the basic religious principles of democracy.”

Think on “these” things. Not his things, God’s thing, or Godly things, but these things. Not just for young men, but “those” serving in their Country. And until you get to Chapter 10 entitled, “the American Dream, “ the AUA left the question of nationality open.

I suppose the title may sound a little too commanding or authoritative for the fiercely independent Unitarian Universalist of today. However, title’s intent becomes clearer when we hear the verse that inspired it found buried on page 72 of the “Prayers” chapter.

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians, Thing on These Things Pg. 72)

So, guide was telling young men and women sent to fight and aid others in horrible and dehumanizing action that is Modern Warfare to remember that no matter what may befall them, remember your connection to humanity: the good and just are still in the world and are still within you, and still care about you.
Read all of Sean's sermon. It might be a good little book for all of us to read. It might even help us reach out a little better than the woeful efforts we seem to be exerting here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

 I've been all over the place on the web today.  Giving thanks for humor seemes the way to end the moring.

Enjoy: Obama Outlines Moral, Philosophical Justifications For Turkey Pardon

Obama Outlines Moral, Philosophical Justifications For Turkey Pardon

Intrusive Thoughts Walkthrough Tour

Making young UU's stick

There's been a few posts on keeping kids raised UU in Church. I'm not going to gather them up and link them here, but it's a recurring topic in the UU blogosphere.

I'm betting the answer simple: the young are single and few UU Churches offer much for single people. That's an assertion from knowing three UU Churches over the years in Illinois and Northern Virginia. Those Churches oriented towards families, couples, and maybe surviving partners, but offered very little to single people.

There must certainly be exceptions (Micah's Porch in Chicago?) but I'm betting darn few.

Presence of US, allies allowed in Quetta

Via The Dawn with a HT to the Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum,
WASHINGTON: Pakistan has allowed the US military and its coalition partners in Afghanistan to maintain a presence in Quetta, says a Pentagon report to Congress.

The report, which was released to the media on Wednesday, also notes that tensions between India and Pakistan have a direct impact on Afghanistan and therefore, the United States must consider relations between South Asia’s two nuclear neighbours while making any strategy for Kabul.

“Pakistan Army General Headquarters recently approved a US Office of Defence Representative and Coalition presence at the Pakistan military’s 12 Corps HQ in Quetta,” the Pentagon tells Congress.

Earlier reports in the US media said that Pakistan also had allowed the CIA to expand its presence in the Balochistan capital.

“Yes, we have asked for that, and we continue to ask for that,” said a Pentagon official when asked if the United States wanted more actions against alleged militant sanctuaries in Quetta.
Need to ask Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal for the significance of this move.

Ahmadinejad's Days Are Numbered

Ahmadinejad's Days Are Numbered

I'm more hopeful today on Iran than North Korea. There seems far more hope there in the Green Revolution, than Korea which does not look good at the moment. UU's creating peace silent to my knowledge on what to do there. Tell me I'm wrong.

Red Finns gone Red again.

In 2010 Sweep, Even the Finns Voted Republican from Michael Barone,
The Finnish vote. Around 100 years ago, Finnish immigrants flocked to the mines and woods of the country around Lake Superior, where the topography and weather must have seemed familiar. They've been a mostly Democratic, sometimes even radical, voting bloc ever since. No more, it seems. Going into the election, the three most Finnish districts, Michigan 1, Wisconsin 7 and Minnesota 8, all fronting on Lake Superior, were represented by two Democratic committee chairmen and the chairman of an Energy and Commerce subcommittee, with a total of 95 years of seniority.

Wisconsin's David Obey and Michigan's Bart Stupak both chose to retire, and were replaced by Republicans who had started running before their announcements. Minnesota's James Oberstar was upset by retired Northwest Airlines pilot and stay-at-home dad Chip Cravaack.

So here's a new rule for the political scientists: As go the Finns, so goes America.
Ya have to know the place and it's history to appreciate the flip.

Der Spiegel: French Village Evacuated to Clear German WWI Munitions Depot

More on WW1 via Der Spiegel.
An entire village in northern France has been evacuated for a week while bomb removal experts clear 30 tons of shells -- 1,652 in total -- discovered in a German munitions depot from World War I.
I lived in Germany near the French border for three years in the early 80s during some unusually warm summers in Europe. The heat caused a few unexploded bombs from WW2 to go off in Berlin as I recall. A boy scout troop also returned from a souvenir hunting trip to France with glass balls still filled with Gas. The unexploded contents of gas filled artillery shells.

The WWI Diary of Ernst Jünger

The year 2014 will mark the 100th year since the start of World War 1. I'm starting a label for WW1 posts and starting with this one the newly published memiors of Ernst Jünger from Der Spiegel. An immensely popular author with his book "Storm of Steel" in Germany pre-WW2, and a guy who raises some issues for Germans today,
Jünger's book could help open up a new chapter of remembering the conflict in Germany, and historical interest is bound to increase with the coming of the 100th anniversary of its outbreak in 2014, said Kiesel.

"None of the victorious nations shunned calling their soldiers heroes. But it has always been problematic to describe Jünger as a hero, there was always an outcry against it. The time may have come to approach that difficult debate again to restore a certain equality, even if these solders were involved in a war for which Germany bears the main guilt."

It may also be interesting to explore why Jünger didn't noticeably suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, an affliction that has hit large numbers of soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kiesel said keeping a diary to write down the events in detail shortly after they happened may have helped.

But most importantly, Jünger's crystal-clear descriptions unwittingly offer a fresh reminder of the devastation and terror caused by all wars.

An entry on August 28, 1916, written during the Somme battle, reads: "This area was meadows and forests and cornfields just a short time ago. There's nothing left of it, nothing at all. Literally not a blade of grass, not a tiny blade. Every millimeter of earth has been churned up and churned again, the trees uprooted and torn apart and ground to sludge. The houses shot to pieces, the bricks crushed into powder. The railway tracks turned into spirals, hills flattened, everything turned to desert. And everything full of corpses who have been turned over a hundred times. Whole lines of soldiers are lying in front of the position

There Be Dragons

Via Golshifteh Farahani's facebook page. A film to be released Spring 2008 set during the Spanish Civil War. From wikipedia,
The film, scheduled to be released in Spring 2011, includes the story of revolutionary soldiers, a journalist, his father, and a real life priest, St. Josemaría Escrivá, a recent Roman Catholic saint and founder of Opus Dei, who has been called the saint of ordinary life. sure to cause a stir.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

World’s youngest detained blogger on trial in northern Iran

Via Reporters without Borders,
Change for Equality: More than 250th Bloggers Women's rights and social and warned Activists Issued a statement Demanding the Immediate and Unconditional release of Navid Mohebi a year old blogger and the 19th Campaign Activists in the city of Amol. Mohebi is currently being held in the public ward of the prison in the city of Sari. Mohebi is currently being held in the public ward of the prison in the city of Sari.

Those issuing the statement expressed concern that despite the fact that nearly two months had passed since his arrest and despite repeated inquiries, Mohebi's family had not been provided any information by officials about the reason for Navid's arrest. Those issuing the statement expressed concern that despite the fact that nearly two months had passed since his arrest and despite repeated inquiries, Mohebi's family had not been provided any information by officials about the reason for Navid's arrest. Those signing the petition have also explained that Mohebi remains in prison while his family has faced great pressure to keep silent on his situation and not to contact the press. Those signing the petition have also explained that Mohebi remains in prison while his family has faced great pressure to keep silent on his situation and not to contact the press. Despite their cooperation in not publicizing the situation of their son he remains in prison and no official charges have been brought against him. Despite their cooperation in not publicizing the situation of their son he remains in prison and no official charges have been brought against him.

Those signing the statement explained that Mohebi's activities were peaceful and legal and were limited to his writings and his demand for equal rights for women and on these grounds the signatories have demanded his immediate and unconditional release. Those signing the statement explained that Mohebi's activities were peaceful and legal and were limited to his writings and his demand for equal rights for women and on these grounds the signatories have demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

Navid Mohebi was arrested on 18 September in the city of Amol, after security officials stormed his house. Navid Mohebi was arrested on 18 September in the city of Amol, after security officials stormed his house. On that day, security officials searched Mohebi's home, seized personal property, including his papers and computer and proceeded to beat him up and then arrest him. On that day, security officials searched Mohebi's home, seized personal property, including his papers and computer and proceeded to beat him up and then arrest him. Mohebi was then transferred to prison in the city of Sari. Mohebi was then transferred to prison in the city of Sari. Navid was due to start university this year in Tehran and had intended to study political science. Navid was due to start university this year in Tehran and had intended to study political science.
Google translate does a pretty decent job with the Farsi to English translation with Mohebi's blog.

Religion through a Chicago Cop's Eyes

A book I'll have to read although I'm not certain why Chicago gives up so many writers with this kind of view.  I'm thinking Algren and the rest of the gritty realist sorts.  I'm not convinced they've captured the real.  Anyways, it's a book I'll pick up.  From the Review: Beyond Christianity or Creed: Religion of Realism from a Chicago Cop 
Preib encounters traces of specifically Christian faith, but the religion that obsesses him is, as for Melville or Whitman, something beyond the limits of Christianity or any other creed; the “religion” at the center of these essays is the root of endurance, what keeps the people of the city slogging on, day to day. This is a stripped-down, gritty notion of the religious, but one that resonates with deep association in American history and, as Preib argues, one rooted not in metaphysics or inherited tradition so much as in the “promise in seeing the city at it is.”

Maneuvering around a leaky corpse, trying to figure out the best angle of approach to avoid getting fluids on your uniform or your skin—if such a moment is the root of a religious conception of the world, this religion is not for the weak of heart or stomach. Indeed, “realism” emerges from rough scenes—encounters with gang bangers, crime victims, the hopeless, the dead—scenes many civilians will never see. But Preib writes as a cop, with more than a passing interest in being read by his fellow cops. His indicting descriptions of self-serving lawyers, journalists, and professors is coupled with a persistent sense that only a select few are able to handle the truth of the world as it is. To embrace Preib’s realism, then, “You just have to be tough enough to ride it out.”

Preib is, to borrow his description of Whitman, “a tough motherfucker.” His prose has the blunt gait of an incident report, yet deeply measured, contemplative, each clean sentence clearly the work of lengthy reflection. His interest is not just in the facts, after all, but in how one can make sense of these facts; interpretation, in this case via formal framing through writing, allows one to go from the “realism” of the streets to the “religion” of the city.
Chicago's a very tough town but the professed tough Mother Fuckers seldom as tough as they say and the truely tough families who thrive despite it all seldom written about in the local lit. Ok, I haven't read the book it, so let me hold back the rest of the judgement.

This link over at The Wagon and Other Stories from the City


A fellow in my small-Church Ministry group yesterday said our Church doesn't talk about Redemption. 

I'm glad we don't; although I don't think there's anything in UU history (and especially the second U's) that prevents us.  Afterall, Chicago's Second Universalist was known as Church of the Redeemer.

Wikipedia tells me,
 In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as a Redeemer. This refers to the salvation he is believed to have accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or "buying back". Although the New Testament does not use the title "Redeemer", the word "redemption" is used in several of Paul's letters. Leon Morris says that "Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ."[1] The English word redemption means 'repurchase' or 'buy back', and in the Old Testament referred to the ransom of slaves (Exodus 21:8).[2] In the New Testament the redemption word group is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.[3]
The concept of the redeemer is used in the Book of Ruth to refer to the kinsman-redeemer, and in the Book of Isaiah to refer to God, the "Redeemer of Israel".

Many Christian churches are named "Redeemer", such as Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York City) and the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem.
Salvation talk doesn't really work for me. Universal salvation's universality made it a bit irrelevant. If we all get it, fine, what else is to be said?

We're stuck with our nature, character, and actions and live our lives best we can in my view, keeping Kennedy's words in mind: With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

A clean conscience all we can expect.

History will certainly judge.

Blessed or not what's done our own true work. No window open to redeem what's done.

Anyways, this topic comes up again in the group, what say you?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Real Clear Relgion

Real Clear Politics one of the first sites I hit each morning. Now they've brought us Real Clear Religion too. A sample for today:

Does NY Times Think Facts Are Optional? - Terry Mattingly, Get Religion
The Best Church Choir In America - Hamil Harris, Washington Post
The Book of Mormon Announces Initial Casting - New York Theatre Guide
Deeper Magic, Deeper Meanings in Harry Potter - Evan Weppler, Patheos
Harry Potter on Mars Hill - Linda Peacore, Christianity Today
How to Understand Archbishop Dolan's Win - John Allen, NC Reporter
Sagrada Famalia: a Cathedral for Our Times - Austen Ivereigh, Guardian
Pope Pleads for Life of Pakistani Woman - Sarah Delaney, Catholic Herald
Saudi Religious Police Ease Up During Haj - Ulf Laessing, Reuters
How Religious Jews Might Work Together - David Lasher, First Things
Bad Boy Rapper Shyne Goes Kosher - Kevin Flower, CNN Belief
What If Mennonites Ran the World? - Jeremy Yoder, Work & Hope Blog

Sermons and Self-Help

Christ the King, Then and Now - Pat Gohn
Suffer the Little Children - James Emery White

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Lee Smith writing on the thinking behind inviting Yusuf Islam of the slay Salman Rusdie persuasion as step towards restoring sanity.
While there are a few on the American left, especially in the academy, who maintain that Islamism delivers a valuable critique of Western imperialism, or is a social movement defending the oppressed, this is a minority position. Anti-anti-Islamism is something else: a belief that American opponents of Islamism have cooked up a Muslim scare for their own political benefit, just as anti-Communists once concocted a Red scare.

“The most obvious similarity is that both originate in a denial of the threat,” says Norman Podhoretz, a veteran of both ideological conflicts. “The anti-anti-Communists consistently accused the anti-Communists of exaggerating the Soviet threat from outside and the threat of subversion from within. Anti-anti-Islamists make the same accusations against those who take the Islamist threat seriously. Either we are part of an assault on civil liberties, which we are indifferent to, or we are eager to go to war.”

“The anti-anti-Islamists are extremely parochial,” says Paul Berman, one of liberalism’s few outspoken opponents of Islamism. “These are people who can’t get beyond Republicans and Democrats. It’s about the enemy of my enemy, and ‘my enemy’ for them is the GOP.”

Anti-anti-Islamism is an instrument used to attack Republicans and conservatives, and while no one yet has been tapped to play the role of Joe McCarthy, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s obsession with keeping sharia, or Islamic law, out of the United States may well do more harm than good. The pressing issue in America’s wars is not that American Muslims might want to get married or buried or pass on their estate according to Muslim traditions, but that we have real Islamist enemies like Iran trying to kill our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and supporters of terrorism who live inside our borders and want to shoot us or blow things up.

These are not paranoid fantasies, even as anti-anti-Islamists, like their anti-anti-Communist forebears, pretend otherwise. “The idea is that we have nothing to fear from them except our own overreaction,” says Joshua Muravchik, onetime national chairman of the Young People’s Socialist League and now a fellow at Johns Hopkins’s School of Advanced International Studies. What is true of Iran and terrorism today was true a quarter-century ago. Back then, says Muravchik, “they thought, ‘if only we wouldn’t scare Russians, they wouldn’t behave so badly.’ The anti-anti-Communists believed that the Cold War was as much our fault as theirs.”
It's the strange parochialism that Berman finds that strikes me. As though these folks plain don't get out much.

Abbas Goya: MultiCulturalism = MultiRacism

Goya's take quoting Maryam Naimize. A twist on tolerance through non-Western eyes,
The mere fact of stating "tolerance" towards other people is a humiliation to mankind. It is to say that people would otherwise dislike/hate each other. This is as if you are saying "be a tolerant racist".

When it comes to "tolerating ideas" why should anyone respect or accept the idea that encourages beating children, circumcision of women, beheading infidels, that earth is flat, etc. And if that idea is the law of the country or a practice of a community why should I tolerate that law or practice?

No matter in which context multiculturalism applies the word "tolerance", it is either a derogatory, a racist implication. or it is to accept injustices.

As Maryam Namzie puts it:

“Multi-culturalism always gives precedence to cultural and religious norms, however reactionary, over the human being and her rights. And it always sees communities as having one homogeneous belief and opinion – often times taking the most reactionary segment of that community – the imams and elders’ beliefs – as the belief and culture of the whole.

Multi-culturalism’s promotion of respect for beliefs and opinions is so strong that even when rights are violated, women mutilated and killed, girls victimised, respect for those beliefs and norms take precedence over individual and universal rights.

There is a real contradiction between cultural relativism and multi-culturalism on the one hand and individual rights on the other."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

S. E. Cupp: Sarah Palin's happiness is what really irks liberals

Somehow I think there's more than a grain of truth in this observation,
But for her [Palin'] detractors, nothing raises the ire of cynical liberals more than a happy-go-lucky, totally unburdened, freethinking and self-assured conservative woman who has everything she wants and then some. And without anyone's help.

Sure, she'll tell you that Todd, her parents and her children are an invaluable support system. But after eight years of hearing that George W. Bush was a nepotism experiment gone wrong, Sarah Palin has made it here (wherever this is) on her own. John McCain's imprimatur certainly launched her into the national spotlight, but she became the youngest and first female governor of Alaska all on her own.
How dare she?

Liberalism, after all, needs to imagine an unhappy populace. Passing sweeping entitlement programs and convincing voters that big government is the answer only works if people are frustrated with their stations in life.

Thus Palin is a real threat to front-office operations.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Black Caucus mum on Tea Party Republican who wants to join

Levois picks up the story over at It's My Mind.

In the news of last weeks US House gains there are now two new Republican members of Congress who just so happen to be Black. One of them was a veteran of the Iraqi war. And it's his story that I'm posting right here.

ObamaCare Waivers

Obama White House Hands Out 111 Obamacare Waivers- Hides It on Website

The Green Eye Shade guys at CMS handing out waivers to clout heavy Corporations. As we said at HCFA long ago, you can't make this turkey fly.

National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum

Updated X1

Some pics from the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum at Indiana and 18th in Chicago.

Update: Coverage over at the Chicago Journal.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Road for Gay Iranian Refugees leads to Toronto

A tough place to be gay. From a story on the Underground railroad for Gays from Iran to Toronto,
After standing for six hours with his nose pressed hard into a grey concrete wall, Farzan Shahmoradi started to hyperventilate. He was in a Tehran detention centre along with 50 other young men arrested at a house party in the city’s suburbs.

A police officer sidled up behind the frightened 19-year-old and told him to look straight ahead. The officer left the interrogation room often, but always returned with the same command: “I know everything about you, but I want to hear it from you. All of your friends have told me everything.”

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy: Inside a school for suicide bombers

A preview of her documentary on training young suicide bombers.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Questions linger about Chicago role in bomb plot

A bit more on the Yemeni bombs bound for Chicago via Chicago Breaking News,
Authorities are still trying to figure out why the addresses on the packages were for buildings no longer used by Jewish synagogues -- one of buildings is now empty and other is a Unitarian church that had stopped renting space to a Jewish congregation seven years ago.

Even stranger: the names on the packages were not for people in Chicago but rather obscure historical figures. One packages was addressed to Diego Deza, a figure from the Spanish Inquisition, and the other for Reynald Krak, who was beheaded by a Muslim general during the 12th century Crusades.
Reynald Krak aka Raynald of Chatillon and Diego Deza here. An interesting message...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Politically Conservative, Religiously Liberal

Rev. Marlin Lavanhar' sermon delivered on Sunday, October 10, 2010 at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.   It deserves a few more hits than it's getting.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Michael Totten » The U.N. Discredits Itself Yet Again

Michael Totten » The U.N. Discredits Itself Yet Again

Via Michael Totten,
Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged “immodest.”

Friday, November 05, 2010

Keep Keith! | The Weekly Standard

Keep Keith! | The Weekly Standard

Kristol's final thoughts which are probably the real reason for dumping Olberman,
Perhaps Olbermann violated NBC News “policy and standards.” But NBC doesn’t have real news standards for MSNBC—otherwise the channel wouldn’t exist. It’s a little strange to get all high and mighty now.

But there’s now a Republican House, and perhaps GE is trying to curry favor by dumping Olbermann?

Republicans of the world, show you believe in the free expression of opinion! Tell the crony corporatists at NBC—keep Keith!

Nick Cohen: Salman Rushdie on Jon Stewart

So much for sanity's restoration.

Cohen on Salman Rushdie’s surprise that Jon Stewart had given a starring role at his “Rally for Sanity” to a crooner who had previously opined that Rushdie deserved to die for deciding of his own free will to abandon Islam and criticise its texts.

Suicide bomber kills 50 at mosque in Pakistan's northwest - The Long War Journal

Suicide bomber kills 50 at mosque in Pakistan's northwest - The Long War Journal

Utter silence from the world's left on murders like this....strange, so strange.
A suicide bomber killed more than 50 people in the latest attack on a religious gathering in Pakistan.

The suicide bomber detonated his vest outside of the Waali Mosque in the frontier city of Darra Adam Khel in northwestern Pakistan. The bomber killed the Pakistanis as they were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, ensuring the maximum number of casualties.

Fifty people have been killed and more than 100 more have been wounded, some critically, Pakistani officials told Geo News.

The Taliban and allied terror groups have been behind the attacks on religious sites in Pakistan. Minority groups such Ahmadis, a sect of Islam that is illegal in Pakistan, and Christians, have been targeted, as well as the majority Barelvis, who are hated by terror groups for practicing Sufism and their opposition to the Taliban. Sufi shrines have been a major target of the attacks.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani still faces execution

Press Release number 86
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani still faces execution
Global protests must continue
3 November 2010
According to reports received today, global protests have managed to prevent the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani as of now. However the threat of imminent execution remains.
A global public outcry immediately followed news of her impending execution on 3 November, which was reported on by all major media outlets. Tens of interviews took place with Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson of the International Committees against Stoning and Execution, Iran Solidarity Spokesperson Maryam Namazie, and other campaigners. Millions took immediate action worldwide by sending letters of protest to the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments calling for immediate action. A number of governments, including the French, Italian, Swedish, and US and the European Parliament and European Union responded at once and demanded that her execution be stopped. There were a number of demonstrations on 2 November, including in Berlin, Brussels, London, Paris, Rome and Washington, DC.
Once again, the Islamic Republic of Iran clearly saw the widespread global reaction to its decision to execute Ms Ashtiani and did not go ahead with her execution.
Ms Ashtiani’s execution, however, is still imminent. This is clear from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s response to protesting governments. The Committees have received reports that the highest court has sent the order for her execution to Tabriz prison; she could therefore be executed at any time.
The International Committees against Stoning and Execution salute protesting people worldwide that called for an end to Ms Ashtiani’s execution. It is as a result of public outcry that Ms Ashtiani is still alive today.
We ask that people continue their protests, exerting pressure on governments and the Islamic Republic of Iran and highlighting her situation until her execution is officially rescinded and she is released along with her son, Sajjad, her lawyer, Houtan Kian, and the two German journalists arrested on 10 October 2010.
International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning
Tel: begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0049 (0) 1775692413     
0049 (0) 1775692413

Some Implications | The Weekly Standard

Some Implications | The Weekly Standard

Implications two and three should be pondered by those claiming the US faces too years of gridlock and an uncooperative GOP.
2. Along these lines: I haven't had a chance to do the math, but I bet the Democratic caucus now has a higher percentage of antiwar members than before--and President Obama had already lost a majority of his party in the House on the war. So if Obama intends to stay the course in Afghanistan, as I think he does, he'll do so with GOP support in Congress.

3. Speaking of Afghanistan: Russ Feingold, now freed of his Senate responsibilities, is liberated to consider a Gene McCarthy-like run against the president in the 2012 primaries on an end-the-war platform--pre-empting Howard Dean, who is undoubtedly also considering such an effort.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

URGENT: Sakineh will be executed on Nov 3 - Join us to save her life‏

According to news received by the International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution on 1 November 2010, the authorities in Tehran have given the go ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. It has been reported that she is to be executed this Wednesday 3 November.
We had previously reported that the casefile regarding the murder case of Ms Ashtiani’s husband had been seized from her lawyer’s office, Houtan Kian, and found missing from the prosecutor’s Oskoo branch office so as to stitch Ms Ashtiani up with trumped up murder charges.  [Another man has already served a prison sentence and is now free for her husband’s murder.]  Ms Ashtiani’s son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, have warned of the regime’s plan to do so on many occasions. With the arrest of Ms Ashtiani’s son and lawyer on 10 October and her not having had any visitation rights since 11 August and after fabricating a new case against her, the “Human Rights Commission” of the regime has announced that: ‘according to the existing evidence, her guilt has been confirmed.’ In fact, the regime has created a new scenario in order to expedite her execution.
In other news, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh and Houtan Kian have been severely tortured in order to obtain confessions against Sakineh and themselves since their arrests on 10 October along with two German journalists. The initial interrogations by the Ministry of Intelligence have now been completed and the casefile sent to the National Prosecutor General and Judiciary Spokesperson, Mohsen-Ejehi, in Tehran rather than being handled in Tabriz. Their families are concerned for their wellbeing. When attempting to secure lawyers for the two, authorities have said that the two men did not need legal representation.
Sajjad and Houtan Kian’s only ‘crime’ has been to defend Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and proclaim her innocence with facts and evidence. That their contact with Mina Ahadi is considered a crime is absurd given that Ahadi has been contacted by death row prisoners and their families and lawyers for many years now, including directly from prison. This is because of her many years of work against stoning and executions.
The International Committees against Stoning and Execution call on international bodies and the people of the world to come out in full force against the state-sponsored murder of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.  Ms Ashtiani, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, Houtan Kian and the two German journalists must be immediately and unconditionally released. 
1. Contact government officials, MPs, MEPs, and the UN asking them to intervene urgently. Governments must immediately summon the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassadors and demand that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s execution be stopped and that she along with her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and lawyer, Houtan Kian, and the two German journalists be immediately released.
2. Send letters of condemnation to the Islamic regime of Iran right away:
Head of the Judiciary
Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address
Head of the Judiciary in East Azerbaijan Province
Malek-Ashtar Sharifi
Office of the Head of the Judiciary in Tabriz
East Azerbaijan, Iran
Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Iran
Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riassat-e Ghoveh Ghazaiyeh
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran
Fax: +98 21 3390 4986
3. Please urgently donate to the Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani campaign by making your cheque payable to ‘Count Me In – Iran’ and sending it to BM Box 6754, London WC1N 3XX, UK. You can also pay via Paypal (
For more information, contact:
Mina Ahadi, International Committee against Execution and International Committee against Stoning:; Tel: +49 (0) 1775692413 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49 (0) 1775692413      end_of_the_skype_highlighting,,
Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity,, +44 7719166731 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +44 7719166731      end_of_the_skype_highlighting,,

Monday, November 01, 2010

Al Qaeda in Iraq claims massacre at Christian church in Baghdad - The Long War Journal

Al Qaeda in Iraq claims massacre at Christian church in Baghdad - The Long War Journal

A quote from Bill Roggio's post,
Based on the statement, it appears that al Qaeda in Iraq had hoped to hold the Christians in Baghdad hostage for at least two days, as a deadline for "the release" of Egyptian women supposedly being held in Coptic churches in Egypt was issued.

"The mujahidin in the Islamic State of Iraq give Egypt's Christian and belligerent Church as well as its chief of infidelity a 48-hour ultimatum to disclose the status of our sisters in religion, who are held captive in Egypt's monasteries of infidelity and churches of polytheism," al Qaeda demanded. "The mujahidin further demand the release of all of them together with an announcement of the release via a media outlet that the mujahidin can access within the deadline."

Al Qaeda said that if the demands were not met, "the lions of monotheism [al Qaeda's fighters], who wore their explosive belts, will not hesitate to kill the militant Iraqi Christian captives."
A twisted frame of mind those lions of monotheism have.

The Islamic regime of Iran plans to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani immediately

A sad Press Release to have to report.
PR 84
1 November 2010

The Islamic regime of Iran plans to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani immediately

According to news received by the International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution on 1 November 2010, the authorities in Tehran have given the go ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. It has been reported that she is to be executed this Wednesday 3 November.

We had previously reported that the casefile regarding the murder case of Ms Ashtiani’s husband had been seized from her lawyer’s office, Houtan Kian, and found missing from the prosecutor’s Oskoo branch office so as to stitch Ms Ashtiani up with trumped up murder charges. Ms Ashtiani’s son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, have warned of the regime’s plan to do so on many occasions. With the arrest of Ms Ashtiani’s son and lawyer on 10 October and her not having had any visitation rights since 11 August and after fabricating a new case against her, the “Human Rights Commission” of the regime has announced that: ‘according to the existing evidence, her guilt has been confirmed.’ In fact, the regime has created a new scenario in order to expedite her execution.

The International Committees against Stoning and Execution call on international bodies and the people of the world to come out in full force against the state-sponsored murder of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Ms Ashtiani, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, Houtan Kian and the two German journalists must be immediately and unconditionally released.

International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Edgewater synagogue serving LGBT Jews was terror target

The Sun Times updates the story on our friends and former tenants who found themselves targets of Al Queda
A small, progressive synagogue in Edgewater that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews said Saturday it had learned that it was one of the targets of the foiled mail bombs plot.

"We are somewhat alarmed and somewhat disturbed," said Lilli Kornblum, co-president of Or Chadash, a North Side congregation of about 100 members.
And watch your webpage,
However, Zedek also learned Saturday that his synagogue's website had been repeatedly visited recently by someone from Egypt -- a fact that concerned him enough to report it to law enforcement authorities.

"What I was told this morning by the person who keeps our website current is that when she was checking to see how many hits we'd been getting recently, and this is before what occurred on Friday, to her surprise we had 83 hits from an address in Cairo, Egypt," Zedek said. "It does assume a greater interest in light of what happened.''
And here's the coverage over at Harry's Place plus video below.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

John Fund: Requiem for the Pelosi Democrats

A quote from Fund's interview with Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington),
In his new book, "Character, Politics and Responsibility," Mr. Baird argues that in order to afford caring for the needy, liberals will have to challenge "unsustainable entitlements." "I would eliminate the concept of entitlements and move to needs-based social insurance," he says. "The key is to both promote personal responsibility while lowering expenditures by not promising or giving money or other benefits to those who don't need it."
An unexpected twist on sustainability for many UUs perhapes, but unsustainable unjust too. We're going to have to sort that out.

A pic of me over at the Chicago News Bench during Right Nation 2010 where a bunch of us Chicago bloggers sat down with Fund. Fund mentioned the increasing velocity of changes in opinion (that's what's new by the way; not incivility) and it leads off his column,
It took Democrats in the House of Representatives 40 years to become out-of-touch enough to get thrown out of office in 1994. It took 12 years for the Republicans who replaced them to abandon their principles and be repudiated in 2006. Now it appears that the current Democratic majority has lost voter confidence in only four years.

How did this happen? And what does the increasing speed of voter backlash mean for Republicans who will likely take control next Tuesday?
What's different today is speed. It's going to require quick response and nimble politics. Nimble theology perhaps too...