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