Friday, November 09, 2012

Controversial Cook County judge “happy to be re-elected” - Chicago Sun-Times

My final post on this blog.  I wanted to leave something on my ancestors Pfarrer Streccius but since the world’s getting every more wacky, I’ll leave it from these words from the Chicago Sun Times on the retention of Judge Brim for Cook County. 

A judge unfit for the job with the papers to prove it, but duly endorsed by the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization.  God help those who have been judged by here, and those yet to be judged by this sad and insane jurist.

All my blogging will be over at my West Side Blogger spot or some of the other less frequently updated blogs you can find on my profile.  I’m turning off comments here.

So long UUs.  Good luck.

Court records obtained by the Sun-Times reveal Brim was examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist who believes she’s “presently mentally fit with medication” but opined she was “legally insane” at the time of the reported skirmish with the sheriff’s officer.

Montgomery said those very findings indicate the case should be tossed.

Brim has a “bipolar disorder” and “at the time that this alleged offense occurred ... my client was simply not in a mental state that is sufficient for her to ever be found guilty, so we’re wasting valuable judicial time.” Montgomery told reporters.

But the case will proceed, Montgomery suggests, because Brim has not bowed to pressure to step down.

“If they’re trying to get her to resign as they apparently have been trying to do, and holding this case over her as a hostage, it will never happen because if we must try the case, we will try the case,” Montgomery said.

Asked to explain further, Montgomery said “the assistant state’s attorney has said to me on at least two court appearances, ‘Is she going to resign?’ And when I said she absolutely is not going to resign under these circumstances, she [the assistant state’s attorney] said ‘OK let’s go to trial.’ ”

Andy Conklin, a spokesman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said later: “We’ve never suggested that she resign.”

Brim, 54, has been on the bench since 1994 and Tuesday’s victory means another six-year term in office.

While bar groups were giving her a thumbs-down, with one noting that attorneys questioned her “legal abilities,” the Cook County Democratic Party gave the entire slate of retention judges — that is, sitting judges up for re-election — a thumbs-up.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle put out a robocall asking voters to support the Democratic ticket and the judges up for re-election, her campaign spokesman Scott Kastrup said on Wednesday.

Controversial Cook County judge “happy to be re-elected” - Chicago Sun-Times

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama supporters celebrate no more Israel

Rebel Pundit talking to Obama supporters election night on State Street last night.

Time for me to stop with Pfarrer Streccius.  I think one more post and then I'm calling it quits with it.  Probably start something new on the greater Chicago Religious scene and stop anything UU related.

 Dreadful times coming I'm afraid.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Beachwood Reporter - Fact-Checking Rahm: How He Faced The Nation And Lied Through His Teeth

From the Beachwood Reporter’s imaginary interview (link at the bottom of this post) with the Mayor on Face The Nation. Not mentioned is falsely slamming the Muslim world with over reaction to this video about the most Islamophic thing I’ve seen.  It’s simply false.  There was no reaction.  This was a calculated assault by al Qaeda.  Radical Islamists who mostly kill Muslims they find of the wrong sort.

RAHM: And the events there are a human tragedy. It's an assault on America.

RHODES: Then we are at war?

A clear-eyed review of the coverage and official statements clearly show that the Obama administrations went to great lengths to portray the Benghazi assault as one of spontaneous mob reaction to a crappy anti-Muslim video. Why? Because a planned attack by Libyans upon a U.S. embassy in which the ambassador is killed is a Tet moment; it demonstrates an organized opposition capable of such attacks that belie the rosy story we've been told about the president's brave intervention there. A spontaneous mob action spurred by a video, on the other hand, posits an ambassador's death an "accident" in the chaos of irrational extremists, even if aided by "opportunists."

This is why this is important. We were misled - and not just to preserve the president's policy options (for example, not having to declare war on Libya or send troops or take retribution militarily, explicitly anyway, special forces are probably operating, but so the administration doesn't have to respond immediately and publicly) but also on behalf of the president's political imperatives, particularly this close to an election.

While the Republicans have failed to explain this dynamic, instead just repeating the apparent sin of not immediately labeling the attack as a terrorist act, i.e., taking the macho approach and trying to paint the president as weak and not standing up for America, the critique remains just as validly from a progressive perspective. But that perspective, one that takes great issue with the civil rights disaster this president has been as well as the radically right-wing foreign policy approach going further than Dick Cheney ever would have dreamed including kill lists and civilian drone bombing campaigns, is missing from the media discourse.

The Beachwood Reporter - Fact-Checking Rahm: How He Faced The Nation And Lied Through His Teeth

Obama Supporters Think His Policies Are Crazy And Immoral When Attributed To Romney

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The most screwed-up State Rep race in Illinois

The most screwed-up State Rep race in Illinois

Doug Ibendahl shows why politics in Chicago's West Burbs always interesting: Luis Gutierrez endorsed Republican Angelo “Skip” Saviano in his race against Democrat Kathleen Willis in the new 77th House District.

Needless to say, Speaker Madigan's prints all over this one.  Ibendahl deconstructs this one in the link above.

Rabbi's home destroyed, Synagogue flooded

H/T JTA Sandy Live Blog

UU Society Geneva Illinois raised over $4k for Sandy relief last night. We'll send it to the new UU District for distribution to UU Congregations and their members. Video gives you a sense of the destruction.

Friday, November 02, 2012

He was the change by James Piereson - The New Criterion

Poor UU Jeff, the pestilence and plague I and my friends infect into America and UUism are here to stay.  Jeff’s lapse into language of disease reflects maybe his own political psychosis than mine. Dying liberalism gone ugly for lack of reason or faith.

James Pierson’s review of Charles Kesler’s I am the Change tells us Progressivism / Liberalism is spent; and that exhaustion puts Unitarian Universalism’s considerable investment in the old ideology up for a rebalancing. 

Whether the President wins or loses, slamming the considerable number of fellow citizens who will NOT vote for him, seems a losing strategy for a faith due for considerable ideological retro fitting if it’s to survive.

From Pierson’s review in the New Criterion, link below;

Four years ago, in the excited aftermath of the 2008 election, Barack Obama was widely viewed as a liberal messiah who would engineer a new era of liberal reform and cement a Democratic majority for decades to come. He would prove to be, as many pundits predicted, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or perhaps even an Abraham Lincoln, for our time. They were not alone in saying this: Obama himself said much the same thing.

These forecasts seemed grandiose at the time; today, after four years of an Obama presidency, they look positively silly. In contrast to 2008, 2012 Obama looks less like a transformational president and more like a typically embattled politician trying to survive a tight contest for reelection. Even some of his strongest supporters are now “defining Obama down” as just another Democratic “pol” making compromises and paying off constituencies in order to keep his coalition together. Extravagant hopes have given way to a scramble for survival. Few continue to believe that Obama will establish the foundations for a new era of liberal governance. Some are beginning to point toward a more surprising turn of events: Far from bringing about a renewal of liberalism, Obama is actually presiding over its disintegration and collapse.

He was the change by James Piereson - The New Criterion

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Resisting Aggressive Secularism: A commentary by Fr. Barron

Fr Barron (a buddy of a buddy of mine) shaking things up in Chicago. I thought the point on Secularism exempting itself as not just another ideology very much on target.

Several Female Prisoners On Hunger Strike In Iran

Via RFE,

Nine female political prisoners have started a hunger strike to protest their conditions in Tehran's Evin prison.

The Iranian website reports that the women stopped eating after they were beaten and insulted by guards.

Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh started a hunger strike in the same prison last week after prison authorities banned her relatives from visiting.

Sotoudeh began serving a six-year jail term in 2010.

A European Union delegation canceled its visit to Tehran last week after Iranian authorities rejected its request to meet Sotoudeh and the jailed filmmaker, Jafar Panahi.

The European Parliament awarded Sotoudeh and Panahi the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought last month.

Several Female Prisoners On Hunger Strike In Iran

Friday, October 26, 2012

News From Obama’s Home State | Via Meadia

Walter Russel-Mead with a must read column on the Ravitch Volker Report (pdf file) on Illinois’s financial disaster. Liberalism’s pursuit of Social Justice resulted in more poverty, ignorance (failed schools), and misery.  It won’t easily be undone, but undone it will be; win or lose Obama.  The Liberal / Progressive model unsustainable and collapsing before my eyes, outside my door, in my home state of Illinois.

But where liberals in America have the freest hand—in states like New York, California and Illinois—we see incontrovertible evidence that the policies they choose don’t have the consequences they predict. California by now should surely be an educational, environmental and social utopia. New York should be a wonder of glorious liberal governance. Illinois should be known far and wide as the state that works.

What’s interesting about the governance failures of these states is how comprehensive they are. Other than politicians, union officials and Wall Street investment banks, nobody really benefits from the choices Illinois has made. As the Volker-Ravitch report tells us, even the public sector unions, the architects of many of the state’s most destructive policies, are going to get shafted as a result of the bad policies they’ve supported. They’ve created a state that simply won’t be able to honor its promises to the workers the unions represent.

News From Obama’s Home State | Via Meadia

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The remarkable, unfathomable ignorance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free |

I’m guessing most UU’s have heads in the sand on Terror Tuesdays at the White House too. 

On 29 May 2012, the New York Times published a remarkable 6,000-word story on its front page about what it termed President Obama's "kill list". It detailed the president's personal role in deciding which individuals will end up being targeted for assassination by the CIA based on Obama's secret, unchecked decree that they are "terrorists" and deserve to die.

Based on interviews with "three dozen of his current and former advisers", the Times' Jo Becker and Scott Shane provided extraordinary detail about Obama's actions, including how he "por[es] over terrorist suspects' biographies on what one official calls the macabre 'baseball cards'" and how he "insist[s] on approving every new name on an expanding 'kill list'". At a weekly White House meeting dubbed "Terror Tuesdays", Obama then decides who will die without a whiff of due process, transparency or oversight. It was this process that resulted in the death of US citizen Anwar Awlaki in Yemen, and then two weeks later, the killing of his 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, by drone.

The Times "kill list" story made a huge impact and was widely discussed and condemned by media figures, politicians, analysts, and commentators. Among other outlets, the New York Times itself harshly editorialized against Obama's program in an editorial entitled "Too Much Power For a President", denouncing the revelations as "very troubling" and argued: "No one in that position should be able to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners located far from a battlefield - depriving Americans of their due-process rights - without the consent of someone outside his political inner circle."

That Obama has a "kill list" has been known since January, 2010, and has been widely reported and discussed in every major American newspaper since April 2010. A major controversy over chronic White House leaks often featured complaints about this article (New York Times, 5 June 2012: "Senators to Open Inquiry Into 'Kill List' and Iran Security Leaks"). The Attorney General, Eric Holder, gave a major speech defending it.

But Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Congresswoman from Florida and the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, does not know about any of this. She has never heard of any of it. She has managed to remain completely ignorant about the fact that President Obama has asserted and exercised the power to secretly place human beings, including US citizens, on his "kill list" and then order the CIA to extinguish their lives.

The remarkable, unfathomable ignorance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free |

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Evangelical Left Post Obama? « Juicy Ecumenism

JE on the Evangelical Left in the dumps over Obama.

Of course the hardcore Evangelical Left will vote for Obama, if with apparently limited enthusiasm.  But no matter who wins, how will liberal evangelical elites approach politics after disappointment over a candidate who aroused almost messianic hopes? Many on the Evangelical Left espouse a sort of neo-Anabaptist stance that disparages the “empire” while still demanding its Welfare and Regulatory State.   Maybe at least some evangelical liberals will explore greater fidelity to the traditional, separatist Anabaptist approach and attach less importance to electoral politics.   Stay tuned!

The Evangelical Left Post Obama? « Juicy Ecumenism

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Alternative Christianities

Alternative Christianities

Nothing's ever new it seems. Philip Jenkins writes,

On average, the Biblical world sees a startling new discovery of allegedly cosmic significance every four or five years. Most recently, we had Jesus's Wife, with the Gospel of Judas not long before that, and no great powers of prophecy are needed to tell that other similar finds will shortly be upon us. 
In themselves, the finds are usually interesting (if they happen to be authentic), but where the media always go wrong in reporting them is in vastly exaggerating just how novel and ground-breaking they are.
Follow the link at top for the rest.  A good column....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lara Logan 2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech

Logan's speech to Chicago's Better Government Association on Afghanistan and Taliban. A little covered speech that deserved more attention. Via RCP

Logan gave a blistering speech in Chicago this past week that ripped the administration for the way it has handled the war in Afghanistan and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. "I chose this subject because, one, I can't stand that there is a major lie being propagated," Logan said about the administration touting the weakening of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Speaking about Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed, Logan says she hopes the U.S. will "exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered, and that the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it."

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Unitarian Universalism, friction, and bubbles within bubbles

I'm a long time, off-and-on UU, of a conservative bent. I've been asked how I can stand to hear some of the things said in Church, and the answers simple. I appreciate a little friction in my life. If I find myself in a room where everyone agrees, I feel something must be wrong. Polished stones only get that way with friction, and the same applies to thought and ideas. They need some friction to find form. Otherwise, as Mike Barnicle finds below, We won't do well, we won't do well.

Way too many UUs avoid friction, and when they rub against some, they're in the habit of dismissing it as beyond the pale and not worthy of engagement. A plunge into a bubble avoiding any discernment or argument.

Democrat Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe,

MIKE BARNICLE: we all know that the presidency is a bubble that existed in that bubble. we also know anecdotally from your reporting and other reporting that we read continually that there's very little interaction between this president and members of the senate or members of the house. there's very little personal interaction. there's no phone calls back and forth. we don't know really what happens when he has conversations about the legislation pending and stuff like that. but we do know from last night when mitt romney says i don't know what you're talking about, we do know the look that registered on president obama's face was, you know, who are you to be saying that to another el long as we're talking about this, and jon meacham is right, that no one has spoken to him like this for the last four years.there's another element that perhaps should be under discussion. the president had no teleprompter last night. he speaks almost all the time off of a teleprompter. forced now to stand on his feet after four years in the bubble, getting pushed back a little. he didn't do too well. he didn't do too well.

US officials give up on prospects for peace deal with Taliban - Threat Matrix

The Administration gives up on negotiations with the Taliban.

US officials give up on prospects for peace deal with Taliban - Threat Matrix

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Statistical method will analyze important, poorly studied areas of human genome

Just as God doesn’t play dice with the Universe, I suspect what seems junk, serves some purpose.  Scientists at U of W will tell. 

Cross posted at my MedInfo blog.

The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, produced the identity of the entire human genetic code at the most fundamental level - the base. Three billion chemical bases from each parent pair together in a sequence along a twisting DNA ladder.

Only five percent of the material is actual genes; those 23,000 genes are the work horses that make molecules, usually proteins. The rest was initially thought to be useless "junk."

Wanting to understand how such waste could occur in nature, the NHGRI nearly a decade ago launched the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or ENCODE, to learn what that 95 percent was all about - particularly, where biological activity might be taking place in it. Last month, in a flurry of papers published in high-profile journals, ENCODE researchers concluded that, in fact, at least 80 percent of the human genome serves some biochemical purpose.

Now, building on the momentum, ENCODE has awarded another round of major grants to examine the data in new and even more rigorous ways to gain a deeper understanding of how the 80 percent affects genes. Keles' group will concentrate on areas of the genome that contain nearly identical repeating segments of base pairs. ENCODE did not include these repetitive areas in its earlier analysis.

Statistical method will analyze important, poorly studied areas of human genome

Digitized diary of mother of a First World War soldier preserved online - Ireland's Technology News Service

I expect will see more history online as we get closer to the 2014 centenary. Cross posted to my WW1 blog.  My contribution to the centenary.

A digitized diary written in 1916 offering a candid and poignant insight into the life of families of Irish soldiers during the First World War and the turbulent events of the 1916 Rising has gone live.

The Diary A Family at War: Mary Martin’s Diary, 1 January – 25 May 1916 is an online resource developed and produced by students on Trinity College Dublin’s M Phil in Digital Humanities and Culture, and the Digital Arts and Humanities PhD in UCC, using a manuscript treasure from the collections of the National Library of Ireland.

Martin, a widow and mother of 12 children, living in the affluent Dublin suburb of Monkstown, began a diary shortly after she received official word that her son Charlie, a soldier with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was missing in action on the Salonika front.

She wrote in her first entry on New Year’s Day 1916: “Since I heard you were missing as well as wounded, it has occurred to me to write the diary in the form of a letter. We hope to hear from you soon. Till then cannot communicate with you & later on when you read this it will you know what has been happening.”

Digitised diary of mother of a First World War soldier preserved online - New Media - New Media | - Ireland's Technology News Service

Obama 2002 MLK speech: "Rich people are all for non-violence", unless they are perpetrating it

This is more the Obama I new. From 2002 MLK speech at the U of C,

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Obama says in the video, shot on Jan. 21, 2002 at the University of Chicago, “but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure folks don’t take their stuff.”

Read more:

Speaking in a Hyde Park we Socialist joked as a community where white and black alike, unite against the poor.

You Really Didn’t Build That - Rev. Sam Trumbore

My comment to Rev Sam,

Anyone involved in building their own business, at least successfully involved, understand building and maintaining relationships with customers and employees is fundamental. Entrepreneurship, while sounding radically individual, is hugely social. Far more social than the collectivist who might think a central planner knows best, and could more Justly decide socially useful investments and transfers of income.

The individualist versus collaborative frame I’m hearing so much in Church of late, is quite the opposite of reality. It’s the Entrepreneur sensitive to feedback through the market on the key relationship with customers, while the Government Planner often blind and deaf towards the relationship with customers and instead attentive only to the relationship with a Special Interest.

You Really Didn’t Build That - Rev. Sam Trumbore

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The storming of the U.S. embassy in Tunisia إقتحام السفارة الأمريكية في تونس

Via Tunisiatalks

تصویری از فیلم بردار کاروان احمدی نژاد که به آمریکا پناهنده شد

Via Gooya News in Farsi but Google Translate does a decent job with it.  Ahmadinejad’s cameraman requested asylum in the US while visiting NYC with his boss.  The family has gone to Turkey.

تصویری از فیلم بردار کاروان احمدی نژاد که به آمریکا پناهنده شد

H/T Ali Alfoneh <>

Obama's Flawed Record in the Middle East - Jeffrey Goldberg - The Atlantic

Obama’s managed to offend and lose the trust of everyone concerned in the middle east.  Worse, the players there under estimate he’d act militarily and ignore his threats.  I think that’s a mistake.  A huge mistake for all concerned.  The world’s never more unstable then when some despot thinks the United States will not act.  Some Goldberg clips below,

"...Obama's record in the Middle East suggests that missed opportunities are becoming a White House specialty.

Syria is the most obvious example. Assad is a prime supporter of terrorism (as opposed to Qaddafi, who had retired from terrorism sponsorship by the time his people rose up against him), and his regime represents Iran's only meaningful Arab ally. The overriding concern of the Obama administration in the Middle East is the defanging of Iran. Nothing would isolate Iran -- and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah -- more than the removal of the Assad regime and its replacement by a government drawn from Syria's Sunni majority. Ensuring that Muslim extremists don't dominate the next Syrian government is another compelling reason to increase U.S. involvement...

"There's a widespread perception in the region that Obama is a weak, somewhat feckless president," (Shadi) Hamid...  told me. "Bush may have been hated, but he was also feared, and what we've learned in the Middle East is that fear, sometimes at least, can be a good thing. Obama's aggressive hedging has alienated both sides of the Arab divide. Autocrats, particularly in the Gulf, think Obama naively supports Arab revolutionaries, while Arab protesters and revolutionaries seem to think the opposite."

Leaders across the Middle East don't take Obama's threats seriously. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the Arab leaders of the Gulf countries believe he'll act militarily against Iran's nuclear program in his second term.

Obama's handling of Middle East peace negotiations couldn't be characterized as passive; they could, however, be described as thoughtless. Obama publicly demanded that Netanyahu freeze settlement growth on the West Bank. When Netanyahu only partially and temporarily complied, Obama, in reaction, did nothing. Obama was wrong to draw a line in the sand over settlements, which are a derivative issue (if the Israelis and Palestinians settle their borders, the settlement issue will also be solved). But because he made it an issue without a thought to follow-up, he managed to freeze the peace process.

Obama's Flawed Record in the Middle East - Jeffrey Goldberg - The Atlantic

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stop Shia killings protest at Pakistan Embassy Chicago

Last Friday's protest... never picked up by MSM. Powerful words, please watch.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Interview with the American Futurologist Michio Kaku - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Some excerpts… right now I think I’ll stay old fashioned.

SPIEGEL: As we get a better handle on genetic technologies, won't there be more of an urge to create designer babies?

Kaku: We need a debate about these issues. This is going to create societal problems. You have to have an educated public democratically debating how far to push our beautiful children and the human race.

SPIEGEL: Will we eventually be able to conquer death?

Kaku: Eternal life does not violate the laws of physics, surprisingly enough. After all, we only die because of one word: "error." The longer we live, the more errors there are that are made by our bodies when they read our genes. That means cells get sluggish. The body doesn't function as well as it could, which is why the skin ages. Then organs eventually fail, so that's why we die.

SPIEGEL: What can we do about that?

Kaku: We know the genes that correct these things. So if we use genetic repair mechanisms, we might be able to repair cells so they don't wear out, so they just keep on going. That is as real possibility. We will also be able to regenerate organs by growing new ones. That can already be done now.

SPIEGEL: Then we will get rid of death?

Kaku: In principle, yes.

Interview with the American Futurologist Michio Kaku - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Panetta: We’ve Lost Track of Syrian Chemical Weapons | The E-Ring

Very bad news reported here. 

The U.S. has lost track of some of Syria’s chemical weapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday, and does not know if any potentially lethal chemicals have fallen into the hands of Syrian rebels or Iranian forces inside the country.

“There has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place. Where exactly that’s taken place, we don’t know.” Panetta said, in a Pentagon press briefing.

Panetta said that the “main sites” in Syria storing chemical weapons with which the Pentagon is most concerned remain secured by the Syrian military. But there is “some intelligence” that “limited” movements of weapons from other sites have occurred, he said, “for the Syrians to better secure what they – the chemicals.”

Panetta's statement follows reporting that Syrian rebels claim to have taken control of a military base that contains chemical weapons.

Panetta: We’ve Lost Track of Syrian Chemical Weapons | The E-Ring

BioNews - HFEA launches public consultation on mitochondrial replacement techniques

What UU’s have an opion on this?  I think we lack an Ethics or Theolgy at the moment that would counsel us in on an opinion. 

We have a heritage of advocating Fewer and Better Babies but not much heard on that post 1941; or at least the Better angle.

Via BioNews - HFEA launches public consultation on mitochondrial replacement techniques

Or Google Three Parent Baby for more.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fars News Agency: Iran Rejects Rumors about Withdrawing Support for Assad

Assad’s a loser and I suspect even Ahmadinejad's not keen on sticking with losers.

Fars News Agency :: Iran Rejects Rumors about Withdrawing Support for Assad

ویدئوی کتک خوردن و تف کردن مردم به رامین مهمانپرست در نیویورک

Ramin Mehmanparast video beating and spitting on people in New York H/T Freedom Messenger

From pillar saint to post: A bizarre desert phenomenon

Sometimes I worry a shift away from Congregations to a sort of virtual Church leads to this sort of escape, and without the eventual celebrity status Simon achieved.

Via Haaretz, link below for the full article.

But no form of asceticism was as prestigious as establishing one's abode on top of a pillar. This way of life was invented by the Syrian monk Simeon Stylites, the most famous pillar saint in Christian history. Born at the end of the fourth century, Simeon began his career as a regular ascetic monk. He became renowned for his achievements in fasting and self-mortification, and admirers began congregating around his cell in search of guidance and blessing. But the young monk wanted to escape human company, not attract it. After several failed escape attempts, he climbed up a column several meters high, which had been left over from a ruined building not far from Aleppo. Perched on a small platform that he had made, Simeon took up a life of prayer and fasting, subsisting on small rations of bread and goat milk that local boys passed up to him.

In a short time, however, an even larger group of admirers than before assembled around the pillar. Simeon, in response, gradually raised the pillar, till it eventually reached a height of 18 meters. Only then did Simeon finally grasp the extent of his fame. At dawn he would begin by performing hundreds of genuflections, and at midday he would present himself before the astonished crowds and give sermons. This extraordinary ascetic monk became one of the Church's greatest assets, according to his biography, bringing about the conversion of several pagan Arab tribes: "Thousands, tens of thousands, followed his command and gave themselves over to Christ's authority."

From pillar saint to post: A bizarre desert phenomenonRosh Hashanah Recipes#

Michael Yon: America’s Dumbest War, Ever

Michael Yon publishes a pretty disturbing letter from a soldier in Afghanistan to his Dad.  Congress needs to hold some hearings to explain what in the heck we’re doing if this is true.

Check the link below…

America’s Dumbest War, Ever

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

رویارویی ایران و غرب اجتناب ناپذیر است Confrontation between Iran and the West is inevitable

A so-so Google Translation of an article by Amir Mousavi, former Defense Ministry adviser,saying confrontation with the West is "unavoidable."

H/T Ali Alfoneh

Confrontation between Iran and the West is inevitable
News Code: 12688202 Persian date Mehr 1391 - 16:06
is inevitable and will lead to the final battle between right and wrong.

has created a situation where every day is harder.

the United Nations) to Vienna (headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency) is possible.

Islam has given rise to thereby forcing Tehran to back down.

has since stepped back off and forget what the blood has been shed for it to get here.


The Islamic Republic is building.

Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and does not intend by this to gain nuclear weapons.

- Tehran Medical will supply enriched uranium for a maximum of 5 percent will be of such a scale that the uranium could be dangerous in any way.

Two sides to a specific destination that brings face.

Former adviser to the defense minister reiterated that in such circumstances it is essential to rational international step before any confrontation and opposition parties in Iran's nuclear case to the back roads of diplomatic negotiations.

The possible war between Iran and Israel will be achieved.


is inevitable.
Tags: Mousavi, War, Iran, Israel

Monday, September 24, 2012

In New York, defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be "eliminated" - Yahoo! News

War’s close I fear.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday disregarded a U.N. warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric and declared ahead of the annual General Assembly session that Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated."

In remarks to reporters in New York, Ahmadinejad also said he did not take seriously the threat that Israel could launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, denied sending arms into Syria, and alluded to Iran's threats against the life of British author Salman Rushdie.

The United States quickly dismissed the Iranian president's comments as "disgusting, offensive and outrageous."

In New York, defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be "eliminated" - Yahoo! News

Rev. Peter Morales succumbs to Bulverism

Rev Morales via Huff Po, Link below,

I read that the "Values Voter Summit" recently took place in Washington. I went to the web site and looked at the list of speakers. Of the 73 speakers listed, only 13 were women. Only a tiny handful could be described as people of color. Even more amazing in a political gathering in 2012, I found only one Hispanic surname. One. ¡Dios mío! Take a look for yourself:

White. Male. Politically ultra conservative. Religiously fundamentalist evangelical. This is a summit of angry white reactionary men. Is this what passes for "values" voting in America? Whose values are being advanced here? And whose values are being rejected?

Rev. Peter Morales: The Real Values Voters Summit

And that’s about the extent of Rev Morales examination of whatever was said at the summit.  His review only his take on the gender, ethnicity, and temperament of the Value Voter participants, and nary on word on their ideas.  All dismissed as the work of angry white men.

A perfect example of the past century’s great ill via C. S. Lewis in God in the Dock,

You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it "Bulverism". Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than a third — "Oh you say that because you are a man." "At that moment", E. Bulver assures us, "there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall." That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.

A pretty shameful piece to have published as representative of our Churches and Faith.

Jashn-e-Wiladat of Imam Ali al-Rida A.S. and Interfaith Conference

I’ll most likely be there Saturday.

Jashn-e-Wiladat of Imam Ali al-Rida A.S. and Interfaith Conference

Friday, September 21, 2012

Deadly Anti-U.S. Riots in Pakistan Despite Obama's Ad Denouncing Video - ABC

Pakistan is a Hard Country.  I’m not certain our TV ads on Pak TV helped much, and may have just aggravated a bad situation.

Deadly Anti-U.S. Riots in Pakistan Despite Obama's Ad Denouncing Video - ABC News

More interviews with Occupy Protesters on the Middle East

Mitt’s Taxes and Rashid Khalidi

For UUs who wanted to know.  Now, I’d like to see hear that recording of Obama speaking at that dinner for Rashid Khalidi. The LA Times won’t release it because it was secretly recorded…..

Note the contributions to his Church.

Good afternoon,

Gov. and Mrs. Romney’s 2011 tax return is now available at

Also posted is a notarized letter from the Romneys’ tax preparer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PWC), giving a summary of tax rates from the Romneys’ tax returns for the 20-year period of 1990-2009 along with a statement from former IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg.

Furthermore, physician letters for both Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan, making public their physical condition and medical history, are also available at that link

Please see below for a question and answer document regarding the return and, again, for reference you can view the blog post from Brad Malt, the trustee of the Romney’s blind trust, detailing the information online here:

In addition to the complete 2010 and 2011 tax returns, Gov. Romney has released nine financial disclosures since 2002, which are posted on this site as well. There are 3 federal Public Financial Disclosures (from 2007, 2011, and 2012), and 6 Massachusetts Statements of Financial Interests (from 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007). The site also includes Congressman Paul Ryan’s financial information: tax returns from 2011 and 2010 for Paul and Janna Ryan, as well as 14 federal Public Financial Disclosures covering 1999-2012.

And, again, all questions regarding tax returns should be directed to returns @



Topline Facts

2011 Filed Tax Return:

$1,935,708 in taxes on $13,696,951 in mostly investment income

14.1% effective tax rate

$4,020,772 donated to charity; $2,250,772 in charitable deductions

2010 Filed Tax Return:

$3,009,766 in taxes on $21,646,507 in mostly investment income

13.9% effective tax rate

$2,983,974 donated to charity

There are now over 1200 pages of tax returns, and several years of financial disclosures, posted on the Romney for President website.  The campaign has also released a letterfrom PricewaterhouseCoopers providing information about the Romneys’ taxes going back to 1990. 


1.  How much did the Romneys pay in taxes in 2011?

In 2011, the Romneys paid just over $1.9 million in federal income taxes.  For the two years 2010 and 2011, they paid $4.9 million in federal income taxes. 

2.  What is the Romneys’ effective tax rate for 2011?


Their effective federal tax rate in 2011 is 14.1% of adjusted gross income (AGI).

Governor and Mrs. Romney donated over $4 million – nearly 30% of their income – to charity in 2011.  The Romneys took a deduction for $2.25 million of those charitable contributions. 

Had the Romneys made no charitable donations, and therefore taken no charitable deduction, their effective tax rate would have been 18.8% of AGI.

Their generous giving in 2011 could have significantly reduced their tax obligation this year. The Romneys voluntarily limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor's statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13% in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.

3.  Where did the Romneys’ charitable contributions go?

The Romneys’ charitable contributions went to their charitable foundation, the Tyler Charitable Foundation, and to tithing to their church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In 2011, the Tyler Charitable Foundation made donations to a number of causes, including the Joey Fund (for cystic fibrosis), Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Sabin Children’s Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund, and Homes for Our Troops.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a long tradition of charitable works, such as working with the Red Cross on disaster relief. In addition, the LDS Charities work around the world helping the less fortunate through humanitarian aid, clean water, food production, and medical care.

4.  Why are you releasing this today? 

Because it was filed today.

5.  When were the forms completed?      

Governor Romney signed his return yesterday.

6.  Why didn’t he file his 2011 taxes on April 15th?

As we said in April, the Romneys filed for an extension, as they did in prior years, because the investment information required to prepare complete and accurate tax returns was not available by April 15.  They cannot file tax returns until this information is provided by third parties.  This is a common practice for taxpayers with similar types of investments.  However, all taxes owed for 2011 were paid by Governor and Mrs. Romney by April 15.

7.  Why is his 2011 income one-third lower than his 2010 income? 

The Romneys’ income can vary significantly from year to year, depending primarily on what investments are sold and how much they have appreciated or depreciated.

8.  How much of his 2011 income is from capital gains?

The Romneys reported $6.8 million in income from capital gains on their 2011 return.  That compares to $12.57 million in 2010.

9.  In the PricewaterhouseCoopers letter, how were the average tax rates calculated?

PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated the average effective federal income tax rate by summing the effective rates for each of the years 1990-2009, and then dividing by 20.  The same formula is used to generate the average effective state income tax rate, and the average effective charitable contribution deduction rate. 

10.  In the PricewaterhouseCoopers letter, how was the 38.49% figure, total federal and state taxes and charitable contributions as a share of AGI, calculated?

PricewaterhouseCoopers added all the dollar amounts paid each year for federal taxes, state taxes, and charitable contributions deducted, and divided that by the total AGI for the period. 

11.  Why are there four separate documents for one tax year?

The Romneys have established three trusts under Massachusetts law, one for Mrs. Romney, one for Gov. Romney, and a family trust. Each of these three trusts has one Form 1041 tax document, and then income from these three trusts is combined and reflected on the Romney’s Form 1040.

12. There are some investments that seem to be established in offshore accounts, like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Are these investments evading taxes?

No, the investments by the blind trusts in funds established in the Cayman Islands or other jurisdictions are taxed in the very same way they would be if the shares were held in the US rather than through a Cayman fund.  No taxes are evaded or reduced.  These funds are all registered with the IRS and report all income to investors and the IRS, just like domestic funds.  Whether in Bermuda or Boston or elsewhere, there is no difference in how they are taxed.

In addition, it is important to note that there are no offshore accounts.  These are investments in funds that are organized outside the US.

Further, it is important to note that Governor Romney did not make these investments.  Governor and Mrs. Romney's assets are managed on a blind basis.  They do not control the investment of these assets. The assets are under the control and overall management of an independent trustee.

Finally, the trustee did not choose where the investments were located any more than a stockholder in a Fortune 500 company chooses where that company is organized.  Only the sponsor of the fund decides where it is organized. That responsibility is totally outside the control of a passive investor like Gov. Romney or the trustee of his blind trust.

13.  Why is there information that is redacted?

Any personal or sensitive information on the various tax forms has been eliminated in order to make the material public. Redacted material includes Social Security numbers, street addresses, account numbers or partial account numbers, business and partner tax ID numbers, and PricewaterhouseCoopers’ internal coding and preparer information.

14.  What about state taxes?

Governor and Mrs. Romney are residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and they pay all state taxes they are required to pay.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Actress Jessica Alba asks voters to pledge allegiance to Obama

This strikes me as so odd and weird,

The Obama campaign has launched its “For All” campaign, encouraging supporters to take pictures of themselves with their hands on their hearts and a note explaining why they support President Obama.

Actress Jessica Alba uses the Pledge of Allegiance as an example of the campaign in an email to supporters.

“Growing up, my classmates and I started every day with a ritual: We’d stand up, put our right hand over our hearts, and say the Pledge of Allegiance,” explains Alba. “To me, that gesture was a promise. A promise to be involved and engaged in this country’s future. A promise to work for liberty and justice — and for affordable education, health care, and equality — for all.”

Alba joins Hollywood actresses Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson by photographing herself with her hand on her heart pledging to vote for Obama.

Actress Jessica Alba asks voters to pledge allegiance to Obama

and the poster here.


OWS Protester 'Who cares?' About Dead Ambassador

Wealth and the 47% » Beyond Belief

Rev Morales ponders the 47% and assumes they’re poor. 

In Illinois and Chicago though, dependency on the Government usually means wealth.  Sometimes it’s a lot of wealth.

A Chicago Teacher earns on average $75k.  They’re stakeholders in government and can be very militant about a salary they consider a right.  They have clout.  Their Unions donate heavily to both Democrats and Republicans and the Teachers expect payback.

The average income in Chicago is ~ $36k.  Not every person in this city has clout and patronage.  If you don’t your quite powerless and quite poor.

That’s how a Patron Client political system works.

Tony Rezko and others around Blagojevich, Obama, and Mayor Daley became very wealthy men.  They did it by depending on Government.  They weren’t poor by any means.

Rev Morales here: Wealth and the 47% » Beyond Belief

Obama's toughest critics on the Left |

Obama as Studio Activist…   interviews Chicago Activists with long histories with the Prez.  The real estate connections were huge, profitable, and international: Nadhmi Auchi was over here buying up land in the 90s.  It was also hugely corrosive.

Chapter V: Obama's toughest critics on the Left |

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Iranian Woman Pummels Cleric Who Warned Her to Cover Up

Good for her, but I fear she’ll come to a bad end over it.

An Iranian cleric said he was beaten by a woman in the northern province of Semnan after giving her a warning for being “badly covered,” the state-run Mehr news agency reported.

Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the woman in the street while on his way to the mosque in the town of Shahmirzad, and asked her to cover herself up, to which she replied “you, cover your eyes,” according to Mehr. The cleric repeated his warning, which he said prompted her to insult and push him.

“I fell on my back on the floor,” Beheshti said in the report. “I don’t know what happened after that, all I could feel was the kicks of this woman who was insulting me and attacking me.”

Iranian Woman Pummels Cleric Who Warned Her to Cover Up - Businessweek

Templeton Tasting, Manhattan Mayhem!

Literal Proof God loves us.
"The Manhattan, by many accounts, constitutes proof that there's a benevolent force working for us in the universe." A.J. Rathbun, "Good Spirits" (Harvard Common Press, 2007).
Templeton Tasting, Manhattan Mayhem!

Wisconsinites make 'em with Brandy.

Occupy Wall Street chief organizer unravels, ponders calling it quits

Occupy fizzles….

Occupy Wall Street chief organizer unravels, ponders calling it quits | The Daily Caller

Protest Shia Killings in Pakistan in front of Pakistan’s Consulate in Chicago on Sep 27th.

It’s mostly Muslims killed by Radical Islamists.  On Friday Chicago’s Shia  Community will hold a protest in front of the Pakistani Consulate to protest the ongoing murders.


Obama official: Benghazi was a terrorist attack | The Cable

About time…

The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact "a terrorist attack" and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.

"I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevensand three other Americans.

As for who was responsible, Olsen said it appears there were attackers from a number of different militant groups that operate in and around Benghazi, and said there are already signs of al Qaeda involvement.

"We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda's affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," he said.

Obama official: Benghazi was a terrorist attack | The Cable

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Defending Rights or Soliciting Subsidies?

Jacob Sullum wrote on Sandra Fluke’s speech to the DNC

Fluke's sense of entitlement and her casual resort to the use of force made her an ideal speaker for last week's Democratic National Convention, where she was joined by many others who believe justice requires that they receive whatever they want (including automaker bailouts and cheap student loans), even if other people have to pay for it. This mentality is so pervasive among Democrats that they seem unable to distinguish between defending rights and soliciting subsidies.

The Democrats' Fake Freedoms | RealClearPolitics

A mentality I’ve often heard and read among UU’s too.  Just what’s a right, and what’s a plain old subsidy worth a debate.  Nothing wrong with subsidies either, but a right strikes me as a thing of a much higher order.

Bad quotations bear false witness | Boy in the Bands

A great quote from a must read post on quotes.

We should read their works — and others who have brought us to this day — but read them for what they are, and not for who we would have them be. Their heritage and our integrity depend on this.

Bad quotations bear false witness | Boy in the Bands

Creedless and no longer wholly Christian Churches need History to root them.  All to often we read into the bits and pieces of that history what we wished our forebears to have been.

Angelina Jolie visits Syrian Refugees in Turkey

H/T Syrian Organization for Defense of Human Rights.
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has arrived in Turkey to visit Syrian refugees in her role as special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Syria Tested Chemical Weapons in Desert in August, Eyewitnesses Say - SPIEGEL ONLINE

I wouldn’t place too much hope in the US.  Der Spiegel on Syria’s chem weapons site.

Hoping for US Troops

Scientists from Iran and North Korea are said to work in the expansive, fenced-off complex. According to Western intelligence agencies, they produce chemical agents such as sarin, tabun and mustard gas and test them on animals.

In recent months, the guards have been replaced and reinforced by more than 100 elite troops from the 4th Tank Division. In addition, power generators and large supplies of diesel have recently been brought to the plant to safeguard the supply of electricity in the event of an attack by rebels, reports say.

But the rebels don't plan to take the site. "We hope American troops will secure the plant," said one former army officer who deserted and joined the Free Syrian Army. "We don't want the regime to be able to use the weapons, but neither do we want them to fall into the hands of radicals after the downfall (of the regime)."

Syria is believed to have one of the world's largest arsenals of chemical weapons.

Syria Tested Chemical Weapons in Desert in August, Eyewitnesses Say - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Karam Foundation hosts Syrian writer Samar Yazbek

I’m going to try and be there. Via Karam on Facebook.

Karam Foundation is proud to host Syrian writer Samar Yazbek. Samar is a prominent novelist and journalist. Her new book, Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution, has just been translated into English. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times and The Guardian and she is a regular contributor to al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. Samar tells a story of resilience and determination and her voice is an important one that spreads the message of unity between the Syrian people.

We hope youcan join us for this special reading and book signing graciously hosted by Mai Husseini on Saturday, September 22 at 2 pm. Samar’s book will be available for sale at the event.
RSVP today and join the conversation!
100% of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Syrian Orphans Organization.

Links to Samar’s pieces and an recent interview:

Jihadists attack international peacekeeper base in Egypt's Sinai - The Long War Journal

Bill Roggio on the attack on MultiNational Force in the Sinai. They’ve been there since 1979 when Egypt and Israel signed the Peace.

Jihadists assaulted a base in the Egyptian Sinai that is manned by international troops, breached the perimeter, and wounded four soldiers. The attackers reportedly raised al Qaeda's black banner over the base before exiting the base.

Scores of "Bedouin Salafi gunmen" attacked the Multinational Force & Observers base in the Gora region of the Sinai Peninsula yesterday evening, according to The TImes of Israel. The international soldiers are in the Sinai to enforce the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

The fighters broke through the outer perimeter and an estimated 60 to 70 of them entered the base "amid heavy gunfire."

The fighters wounded four peacekeepers, torched a vehicle and a guard tower, and seized ammunition and communications equipment, according to Haaretz. The jihadists reportedly flew al Qaeda's flag before being driven off.

Jihadists attack international peacekeeper base in Egypt's Sinai - The Long War Journal

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why did the State Department send a Gay man to be Ambassador in a homophobic Muslim country? | BARE NAKED ISLAM

I’m reading tweets in Arabic from Libya that our Ambassador was sodomized too.  I could argue a case for sending a Gay man to the Arab world, but DoS sure dropped the ball on security.

KEVIN: “I was able to speak with a Serbian consulate employee who identified himself to me as “Dino” and wouldn’t give me any more of a name than that, but told me it was no secret that Chris Stevens was gay and that “it was stupid to send him to Libya as the ambassador when he was a known homosexual”.
Dino explained in great detail that the brutal sodomizing of Stevens’ corpse was something that Muslims do to show the “utmost disrespect to the body” and that this is “a great insult in Islam” usually reserved for homosexuals (but also on enemies like Muamar Gaddafi, who was brutally sodomized before he was killed, too).  ”It is like making him a woman in death and he will be a woman now after life” the Serbian explained to me.

Why did the State Department send a Gay man to be Ambassador in a homophobic Muslim country? | BARE NAKED ISLAM

Friday, September 14, 2012

Union: Morsy's sons should give up American nationality | Egypt Independent

Now idea how many sons Morsy has, or if they reside in the US, but I’m surprised about this.

President Mohamed Morsy should convince his sons to give up their American nationality as a response to the release of the anti-Islam film that insults the Prophet Mohamed, said on Friday the Union of Political Parties.

During a meeting Thursday at the headquarters of the Democratic Reform Party, the 23 different parties and seven youth movements that comprise the union agreed to participate in all demonstrations and sit-ins protesting the film. Their goal is to pressure the US into issuing a formal apology and banning the film, the union said.

Union: Morsy's sons should give up American nationality | Egypt Independent

Protesters set fire to multinational force tower in Sinai | Egypt Independent

Few Americans I suspect realize we’ve had troops sitting in the Sinai for many decades. 

Protesters set fire to a security tower belonging to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in North Sinai and raised a black flag with the inscription "No God but Allah," perhaps to express rejection of an anti-Islam film produced in the US. 

The incident was preceded with clashes between protesters and MFO operatives, leading to one injured man. Fire was exchanged between the two parties, while protesters demanded that the Force be expelled.

Protesters set fire to multinational force tower in Sinai | Egypt Independent

“Obama, Obama, we are all Osamas”

AQ’s flag flies over our Embassy in Tunisia.
A large cloud of black smoke rose around the U.S. embassy as stone-throwing protesters and police waged a pitched battle.
Thousands of demonstrators massed outside the embassy and several were seen climbing the outer wall of the embassy grounds and raising a flag on which was written the Muslim profession of faith.  
The protesters chanted 'Obama, Obama, we are all Osamas'. One protester was seen throwing a computer out of a window, while others walked away with telephones and computers.
U.S. embassies across the Muslim world prepare for violence after Friday prayers ¿ the traditional Middle East time for protest | Mail Online

Karam Foundation for donations to Syria’s Refugees

H/T to Hosam Douedari

Karam’s taking donations to help the refugees streaming into Turkey from Syria.  Their site is here including information on their history and board.

What happens when this film’s released?


Film about Bin Laden killing helped by Obama administration, says watchdog

White House wanted to back 'gutsy' portrayal of US president in new Kathryn Bigelow film Zero Dark Thirty, claims Judicial Watch

via The Guardian

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Zawahiri eulogizes Abu Yahya al Libi - Threat Matrix

Bill Roggio’s footnote on the Drone War’s strategy which doesn’t seem to be working all that well. 

To summarize, Zawahiri is telling us that we do not have a coherent strategy to defeat al Qaeda's ideological message.

While I am loath to agree with Zawahiri on the US's lack of strategy for dealing with jihadist ideology and to quote myself, I am going to point you back to this interview on the death of Abu Yahya with The New York Times, from June:

Some independent experts, however, were more cautious. "Killing the top leadership harms Al Qaeda, but it won't defeat them," said Bill Roggio of the Web site Long War Journal, which tracks drone strikes in the tribal belt, among other topics. "There are people who will step up to fill the void. Al Qaeda has a far deeper bench than the administration gives it credit for."

Mr. Roggio said that while drone strikes offered an attractive short-term tactic against Qaeda militants, they did not present a complete strategy. "Until we tackle Al Qaeda's ideology, state support and ability to exploit ungoverned space in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, you're not going to defeat the organization," he said.

For more on this subject, see Threat Matrix report, On drones and their ability to defeat al Qaeda.

Zawahiri eulogizes Abu Yahya al Libi - Threat Matrix

Obama Offends Muslims with OBL Bragging? | Conservative Byte

GM’s Alive and Osama’s Dead wasn’t my favorite slogan. I would have much preferred we never said a word about the ops that killed him, and better yet, that we had taken him alive. Spiking the football afterword's foolish either way.

Qualms over Gitmo and water-boarding mean the US executes rather than catpures and I think the loss of intel contributed to yesterdays events and the CIA’s blindness the attack was coming.  When Al Zawahiri's brother Mohamed al-Zawahiri  takes out a permit for a demo in front of the Embassy in Cairo it seems like it ought to have raised some red flags.

A good column over at Obama Offends Muslims with OBL Bragging? | Conservative Byte

General Dempsey phones Terry Jones - Threat Matrix

Bill Ardolino over at Long War Journal on what strikes me a foolish thing to do.  Read the whole link for why.

Yesterday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff phoned the fundamentalist pastor who stoked outrage in 2010 by publicizing his plan to burn Korans. Via Reuters:

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with Pastor Terry Jones by phone on Wednesday and asked him to withdraw his support for a film whose portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad has sparked violent protests - including one that ended with the death of America's envoy to Libya. "In the brief call, Gen. Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause," Dempsey's spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan, told Reuters. "He asked Mr. Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film." U.S. military officials are concerned that the film could inflame tensions in Afghanistan, where 74,000 U.S. troops are fighting. The Taliban earlier on Wednesday called on Afghans to prepare for a fight against Americans and urged insurgents to "take revenge" on U.S. soldiers over the film.

It's difficult to wrap one's mind around the inanity of the top military officer of the United States genuflecting in an official capacity to a screwball pastor in Florida.

General Dempsey phones Terry Jones - Threat Matrix

Inflammatory Anti-Muslim "Movie" May Not Be A Real Movie

I have the feeling the US has been played by a piece of cyber warfare here.  A fake movie by a fake Israeli as a pretext to assault and murder Americans.

Inflammatory Anti-Muslim "Movie" May Not Be A Real Movie

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Full text of “Parish Practice in Universalist Churches” | Boy in the Bands

I get the feeling we Unitarians and Universalists spoke with more clarity in the 1940s and 50s than now.  That’s just my first take after skimming this guide over at Scott Well’s blog.

Full text of “Parish Practice in Universalist Churches” | Boy in the Bands

UUs not much for History, but Scott’s doing us a great service by uploading this material.  Someday we’re going to need to return to it for answers to questions we’ve asked long ago but forgotten we had asked (and answered).

Friday, September 07, 2012

1973 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner

Follow the link and you'll find a picture of the folks at the 1973 Debs Day dinner in Chicago. I'm in the very last row, fifth head from the left.  I had just turned 19.  I would join the fellows to the right of me to join the new Socialist Party based in Milwaukee.  Many of the folks in this picture would continue on with Democratic Socialists of America and become in my opinion quite influential following a Fabian policy of working within the Democratic  Party.  Then State Senator Obama spoke at Saul Mendolson’s funeral.

1973 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner

"Is Socialism More Ethical Than Capitalism" by Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D. - Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

From the conclusion…. 

What it comes to, then, is this: what we are ethically is what we are as people, not as units in a system. That one system may be better than another, I fully agree. For my own part, my preference is for a capitalism, reformed and regulated in the public interest; and the reason for my preference is that such a capitalism leaves more room for liberty and encourages ethical maturity and voluntary righteousness. Compulsory systems, paternalistic and authoritarian, foster attitudes which are ethically not grown up. Not, you understand, that I think regulation by the government is at the present time unnecessary. Far from it! I recognize as well as any man that a considerable amount of government compulsion and control are indispensable. But I would like to see it kept as little as possible. Again and again, I am in favor of compulsion from practical necessity, but I regret the need of it. I lament the evils that require coercive measures to correct them. I support such measures because I must. But I do not deceive myself about their ethical significance. What I would like to see is the voluntary level kept as high as possible. I love freedom. I want more freedom than any socialist system, or so I fear, would eventually permit. For human nature under either system would exploit the weaknesses of that particular system, and I fear the weaknesses of compulsory systems more than those of voluntary ones.

"Is Socialism More Ethical Than Capitalism" by Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D. - Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

"The Faith Behind Freedom" by Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D. - Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

Another Davies quote.  Please read the whole proclamation though.  Feel free to let me know how well Davies words have held up over the years.  I’m curious, as the religion he voiced then, is pretty much mine now.
WE BELIEVE THAT FREEDOM GROWS FROM FREE RELIGION, THAT ONLY A FREE RELIGION CAN BE UNIVERSAL. AND THAT EVERY OTHER FREEDOM IS BASED ON FREEDOM OF THE MIND.  A true religion knows no barriers of nation race or class, and no exclusions through a creed.  Its unity is in its purpose; its covenant is brotherhood.  As no man can be good enough to be the master of another, so no man can be wise enough to bind another in belief.  Hence, we reject all orthodoxies and proclaim the Free and Universal Church.
"The Faith Behind Freedom" by Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D. - Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

"The Unitarian Faith" by Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D. - Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

Quote from a sermon that should be read annually at UU Churches.  Too many lose site of this fundamental.

But is it true that a church can be founded upon individual freedom of belief and still possess a common faith? Will it not happen that the variations in belief will be so wide that no common faith is possible? The answer is, in the first place, that freedom itself is the basic precept of the Unitarian faith. Instead of people being bound together as a society of those who all believe - or are supposed to believe - the same things, Unitarians are united by their faith in freedom. This is a far larger faith than anything that is defined by dogma. What it means is this: that we can put our trust in freedom, both for ourselves and for one another, believing that we shall come closer to truth if our minds are unfettered.

What the churches of authoritarian belief are based upon - or if not based upon it, then restricted by it - is the fear that if people are allowed to think freely they will arrive at wrong and harmful conclusions, and therefore they must be told what they must believe. This certainly puts much less trust in human nature than does the Unitarian faith in freedom.

Perhaps, however, this trust may go too far. Suppose that in a given situation, an individual Unitarian insists that he is right and all the others wrong. The answer is that this can be a very healthy situation. Such a Unitarian is entitled to do all he can to prove that he is right - which, of course, he may be. It has happened frequently in history that one man has been right and all others wrong, as for example, in the case of Semmelweiss, or even of Copernicus. And if he is not so much right as eccentric, no harm will be done. Unitarians are not afraid of eccentricity.

This, then, in the first place: freedom is itself the basic precept of the Unitarian faith, both because it is the natural right of every individual person and because it is, as history proves, the best basis to go upon: and in reliance upon freedom, Unitarians are united.

"The Unitarian Faith" by Rev. A. Powell Davies D.D. - Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church

Occupy DNC Protester: U.S. Government "Controlled by Jewish mafia-banking cartel"

Occupy DNC on Obama as Israel’s Bitch.  Link below has pictures and video. 

When asked what the sign meant, “Obama Israel’s bitch,” the protester, an attorney from Hallsville, Texas, told Breitbart News, “It really has more to do with the Jewish mafia banking cartel, and Israel… Our government is really controlled by a Jewish mafia banking cartel under the guise of the Federal Reserve bank… Until people realize that nothing is going to change… Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, they are all part of it.

Occupy DNC Protester: U.S. Government "Controlled by Jewish mafia-banking cartel"

Thursday, September 06, 2012

VIDEO: Hope and Change 2 - The Party of Inclusion

Christian girl hailed as 'daughter of nation' by senior Pakistani cleric

A brave thing to do in Pakistan.

The Christian girl who was allegedly framed for blasphemy by her local mullah has been hailed as a "daughter of the nation" by one of Pakistan's most senior Islamic clerics, who also vowed to guarantee her safety if she is eventually released from prison.

The heavyweight support for Rimsha Masih from the chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council, a grouping of Islamic clerics, is being seen as a remarkable turn of events in a country where individuals accused of insulting Islam are almost never helped by powerful public figures.

Christian girl hailed as 'daughter of nation' by senior Pakistani cleric | World news |

The life of Ford Madox Ford

A TV adaption of Parade’s End. First I’ve heard of it, but I imagine will be seeing many more adaptions of WW1 novels as we approach 2014.  Cross posted to my WW1 blog.

This year’s television adaptation of Parade’s End has led to an extraordinary surge of interest in Ford Madox Ford. The ingenious adaptation by Sir Tom Stoppard; the stellar cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Alan Howard, Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Roger Allam; the flawlessly intelligent direction by award-winning Susanna White, have not only created a critical success, but reached Ford’s widest audience for perhaps fifty years. BBC2 drama doubled its share of the viewing figures. Reviewers have repeatedly described Parade’s End as a masterpiece and Ford as a neglected Modernist master. Those involved in the production found him a ‘revelation’, and White and Hall are reported as saying that they were embarrassed that their Oxbridge educations had left them unaware of Ford’s work. After this autumn, fewer people interested in literature and modernism and the First World War are likely to ask the question posed by the title of Alan Yentob’s ‘Culture Show’ investigation into Ford’s life and work on September 1st: “Who on Earth was Ford Madox Ford?”

OUPblog » Blog Archive » The life of Ford Madox Ford

God and Jerusalem at the DNC

I'm not sure God appreciates being included in party platforms, so I could argue this one either way.  Same for Jerusalem although I'm committed to Zionism.

I know it was rammed through an unwilling convention.  That's obvious from the vid.

RNC Presser with many good links.

Convention Chaos As Democrats Alter Platform To Include God And Jerusalem
The Huffington Post Labeled The Democrats "The Pushover Party" For Changing Their Platform To Include "God" And "Jerusalem." (The Huffington Post, 9/5/12)
"Obama: Why Was 'God' Taken Out Of Platform In The First Place?" (Alana Semuels and Christi Parsons, "Obama: Why Was 'God' Taken Out Of Platform In The First Place?" Los Angeles Times, 9/5/12)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D-NJ): "It Was An Unfortunate Omission." "It was an unfortunate omission, and it in no way detracts from the point that we have a president of the United States who believes both in God, we all know that, but also believes in that plank [supporting Jerusalem]."(CNN's "Starting Point," 9/6/12)

Senator Al Franken (D-MN): "It Was Silly Not To Include It." "'It was silly not to include it,' Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) told the Washington Free Beacon Wednesday evening, during an event meant to honor Center for American Progress founder John Podesta, a former Clinton administration official." (Adam Kredo, "Democrats React To Platform Controversy," Washington Free Beacon, 9/5/12)

Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY): "I'm Glad They Saw The Error Of Their Ways." "'They got a lot of calls from people like me,' New York Representative Eliot Engel, a Democrat, said in an interview at the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. 'I'm glad they saw the error of their ways.'" (Lisa Lerer and Jonathan D. Salant, "Democrats Amend Platform To Back Jerusalem As Israel Platform," Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 9/5/12)

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA): "I Felt Pretty Frustrated That A Lot Of Us Who Have A Very Strong Point Of View On This Weren't Given A Heads Up, Weren't Given A Briefing On This, It Was Just Kind Of Sailing Along." "Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the move was a 'reasonable adjustment' because many Democrats felt the platform should reflect the party's belief that Jerusalem should be capital of Israel. 'I felt pretty frustrated that a lot of us who have a very strong point of view on this weren't given a heads up, weren't given a briefing on this, it was just kind of sailing along,' Casey said." (Julie Pace and Steve Peoples, "AP Sources: Obama Intervened On Platform," The Associated Press , 9/5/12)

Democrat Strategist Paul Begala: "It's Beyond Awkward. It's Embarrassing. It's Stupid. It's An Unforced Error By My Party." "CNN'S WOLF BLITZER: "Paul Begala, I don't know about you, but to me, it didn't sound like a two thirds majority." PAUL BEGALA: "Sounded like three fourths? Five sixths? Ninety-nine one hundredths?" BLITZER: "I don't know what it sounded like but at best maybe it sounded even if you will. But what do you think?" BEGALA: "It's beyond awkward. It's embarrassing. It's stupid. It's an unforced error by my party. They don't need them. You know, look, the Chief Justice of the United States made a mistake with the Oath of Office. Everybody makes mistakes, even the smartest people in the smartest enterprises." CNN'S JOHN KING: "He's got a life time appointment." BEGALA: "That's a great point." (CNN's " The Situation Room," 9/5/12)
The Reversal On Jerusalem Angered DNC Delegates
President Of The Arab American Institute Dr. James Zogby Called The Move To Include The Jerusalem Capital Language "Insulting To My Community." "The president of a top Arab American group is lashing out at the 11th hour political maneuvering that restored language about Israel capital to the Democratic convention platform - calling the move 'insulting to my community.' Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a DNC delegate and a member of the convention's platform committee, blasted the re-insertion of language affirming that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel in an interview with POLITICO." (Byron Tau, "Arab-Americans Object To Jerusalem," Politico's "Politico 44", 9/5/12)

Zogby Said He Was "Proud That So Many Delegates Delivered A Resounding No." "Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, wrote in a statement that he was 'disappointed in the irregularities of the procedure' 'This effort hurts the president and it hurts chances for a lasting peace,' Zogby continued. 'I am, however, proud that so many delegates delivered a resounding no.'" (Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough, "Convention Floor Chaos: Democrats Alter Platform, Disagree," CNN's "PoliticalTicker", 9/5/12)

  • Noor Ul-Hasan, A Muslim Delegate From Utah: "There Was No Discussion. We Didn't Even See It Coming. We Were Blindsided By It." "'There was no discussion. We didn't even see it coming. We were blindsided by it,' said Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City, who questioned whether the convention had enough of a quorum to even amend the platform." (Josh Lederman and Julie Pace, "Democrats Change Platform To Add God, Jerusalem," The Associated Press, 9/5/12)
  • Michigan Delegate Jamana Judeh Was Not Present For The Vote On Jerusalem, But Said: "I Would Have Yelled And Screamed And Said No. That's Wrong. There's Absolutely No Reason For It." "Jamana Judeh, a second Michigan delegate, said she was happy yesterday when she heard that the Jerusalem issue had been taken out of the platform. 'Everybody feels good, that finally, maybe, the party is acknowledging us,' Judeh said, referring to the 55-member Arab American delegation at the convention. While Judeh was not on the floor for the vote at the time, she said she would have yelled 'no' if she were present. 'I would have yelled and screamed and said no. That's wrong. There's absolutely no reason for it,' she said." (Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough, "Convention Floor Chaos: Democrats Alter Platform, Disagree," CNN's "PoliticalTicker", 9/5/12)
  • Washington Delegate Gus Mansour Objected To The Amendment Saying, "This Is Not Because I'm Against Israel - Jerusalem Is For All Of Us." "A friend of Lebanese descent who also protested the amendment, Gus Mansour of Lynnwood, said 'This is not because I'm against Israel - Jerusalem is for all of us.'" (Mark Landler, "Democrats Restore Language Declaring Jerusalem Israel's Capital," The New York Times' "The Caucus" , 9/5/12)
  • Washington Delegate And Iraqi-American Majid Al-Bahadli Called the Vote "Undemocratic" And Said "Jerusalem Is Arab And Jewish And Christian, It Cannot Be For One Country." "Among those shouting 'No' on the convention floor was a delegate from Washington, Majid Al-Bahadli, who said, 'Jerusalem is Arab and Jewish and Christian, it cannot be for one country.' Mr. Al-Bahadli, an Iraqi-American who said he had been in a prisoner of war camp under Saddam Hussein, said the vote process undemocratic." (Mark Landler, "Democrats Restore Language Declaring Jerusalem Israel's Capital," The New York Times' "The Caucus" , 9/5/12)
  • Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) Opposed With The New Language On Jerusalem And Was Frustrated That There Had Not Been A "Fair And Just" Debate. "Jerusalem 'is a hub of all three religions and we should recognize that fact,' said Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan state representative who said she opposed amending the platform. 'It should not belong to just one people. It makes me feel a little frustrated that this isn't being discussed in a fair and just way,' she said." (Zeke Miller, "Chaos As Democrats Try To Put Jerusalem, God Back In Platform," BuzzFeed, 9/5/12)
  • Utah Delegate Angela Urrea: "We Shouldn't Be Declaring Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel." "Angela Urrea, a delegate from Roy, Utah, said she felt it was sprung on the convention without any discussion. 'The majority spoke last night,' Urrea said, referring to Tuesday's vote. 'We shouldn't be declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.'" (Julie Pace and Steve Peoples, "AP Sources: Obama Intervened On Platform," The Associated Press , 9/5/12)
The Inclusion Of "God" Drew Sharp Opposition From Delegates And Atheist Groups
Teresa MacBain, Spokeswoman For American Atheists: "What Appeared To Be A Bold Move By The Democrats To Be Inclusive Has Been Pulled Away." "'We're disappointed,' Teresa MacBain, spokeswoman for American Atheists, told POLITICO. 'What appeared to be a bold move by the Democrats to be inclusive has been pulled away. It sends a mixed message. Many, many people who are nonbelievers fall in the lines of the Democrats.'" (Kevin Cirilli, "Atheists Bummed By Democrats' God Flip," Politico, 9/5/12)
  • Utah Delegate, TJ Ellerbeck Voted Against The Amendment Because "When You Bring In One Deity Above Any Other Deity, You're Automatically Excluding People." "'This is the big-tent party. We want to include all faiths,' said TJ Ellerbeck, a delegate from Salt Lake City who voted against the amendments. 'And when you bring in one deity above any other deity, you're automatically excluding people.'" (Evans McMorris-Santoro, "Utah Delegates Help Launch A Democratic Insurrection Over Platform Changes," TPM, 9/5/12)
  • New Mexico Delegate Terri Holland Said The DNC Was Forced "To Kowtow To The Religious Right." "In interviews, several said they were bothered by the reference to God. Terri Holland, a delegate from New Mexico, said she thought the word was put back in 'to kowtow to the religious right,' something the party should never do. 'I don't think it has a business in anybody's platform,' she said." (Matea Gold and Christi Parsons, "Democrats Stumble On Party Platform Language," Los Angeles Times, 9/6/12)
  • Wyoming Delegate Barbara Herz Said Religion Should Not Be Included In The Platform. "One dissenter, who said she hadn't made it in to voice her 'no,' said she opposed the inclusion of God. 'I think the best thing we could do is separate religion and politics,' said Barbara Herz, of Wyoming. 'We should let every person make their own religious decisions and keep it out of the platform.'" (Zeke Miller, "Chaos As Democrats Try To Put Jerusalem, God Back In Platform," BuzzFeed, 9/5/12)
  • New Mexico Delegate Richard Cooley Said The Vote Taking Should Have Been More Precise, "Especially On Such A Divisive Issue." "She and fellow delegate Richard Cooley said the proceedings were haphazard, and that the platform should have taken a paper ballot vote. Neither were even aware the changes would be made until Villaraigosa got up on the podium and started speaking. 'We're Democrats, we love that stuff,' Holland said, about paper ballots. Cooley added that Democrats had learned the importance of proper vote-taking in the Bush-Gore election in 2000. They shouldn't take any vote for granted, he said, especially on such a divisive issue. 'We all have our own God,' he said." (Alana Semuels and Christi Parsons, "Obama: Why Was 'God' Taken Out Of Platform In The First Place?" Los Angeles Times, 9/5/12)
Many Delegates Criticized The DNC For The Lack Of Discussion And Confusion During The Vote
Georgia Delegate, John Washburn: "I'm Upset With The Process. That's Why I Voted No." "'I didn't get a chance to read it and there was no discussion. It was up there for 30 seconds and then it was down. I'm upset with the process. That's why I voted no,' said John Washburn, a Georgia delegate." (Zeke Miller, "Chaos As Democrats Try To Put Jerusalem, God Back In Platform," BuzzFeed, 9/5/12)

California Delegate Kalimah Salahuddin Voted No, Saying She Thought There Should Have Been More Discussion. "Kalimah Salahuddin a 36-year-old delegate from Pacifica, California, said she voted against it because she felt like it needed further discussion. 'I was actually pretty surprised. I thought I was going to be the only one in saying no in California,' she said. She, like many, said it was too difficult to tell if there really was a two-thirds vote. 'I just don't know if it was two-thirds people or two-thirds louder' on the third vote, she said." (Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough, "Convention Floor Chaos: Democrats Alter Platform, Disagree," CNN's "PoliticalTicker", 9/5/12)

Idaho Delegate Don Kershner: "I Think It Failed…It's Clearly A Dividing Subject." "'I think it failed,' said Don Kershner, a delegate from Boise who said it sounded to him - sitting in the opposite end of the arena from the speaker's platform - that at least 50% of delegates opposed the changes. Kershner was one of the only delegates from Idaho in the arena when the changes were made - itself a problem, he said. But he said he thought the party should have left well enough alone. 'They shouldn't have messed with it,' said Kershner, wearing a white cowboy hat supporting the Boise State Broncos. 'It's clearly a dividing subject. We don't want to drive a wedge into the party.'" (Alana Semuels and Christi Parsons, "Obama: Why Was 'God' Taken Out Of Platform In The First Place?" Los Angeles Times, 9/5/12)