Saturday, December 17, 2005

A rogue regime opposed to peace (and Election results)

"What the Iranian president has shown us today is that he is clearly outside the international consensus, he is clearly outside international norms and international legitimacy, and in so doing he has shown the Iranian government for what it is -- a rogue regime opposed to peace and stability and a threat to all its neighboring countries,"

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry


Hamas wins 73% of vote in Nablus local elections Source

"If the Hamas was ever to become a dominant force in Palestinian politics, that would be the end of the peace process,"

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"How undiplomatic."

"And I just want to return to the point that I made earlier. In 1989, in 1990 and 1991 when I was lucky enough to be the Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War. Doesn't really kind of get better than that. (Laughter.) I really looked back and I thought, what we were really doing was harvesting those good decisions that had been taken back in the '40s. And we were, in effect, harvesting good decisions that frankly Ronald Reagan had made in 1982 and '83 and '84 when he held fast and essentially said that the Soviet Union was an artifact of history that was going to go away. And I remember people saying, "How undiplomatic. My goodness. How could you say that about a great power like the Soviet Union. But you know, it was speaking the truth."....

...."But there are so many events in history that one day seemed impossible and now we look back on them as inevitable. And they weren't inevitable. They came about because the United States of America married power and principle together, because the United States understood that its values and its interests were inextricably linked and because the United States was willing to speak the truth, that men and women wherever they are, whoever they are, are endowed by their creator to have these rights"....

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
The Heritage Foundation
Washington, DC
December 13, 2005


Monday, December 12, 2005

Polls and Elections in Iraq.

What do Iraqis think?

An interesting item in the poll is the "Q17 - Which structure should Iraq have in future?". The Constitution that was passed calls for the Federal Iraq, yet the poll says that 70% would like "One unified Iraq with central government in Baghdad" as oppose to 17.6% that call for "A group of regional states with their own regional governments and a federal government in Baghdad".

National Survey of Iraq, Nov 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

History is repeating itself?

Hamas started by Israelis to fight Yaser Arafat, Afghanistan mujahendines and Al Queida were trained by the US to fight the Soviets. When they turn their guns against the former masters though they become know as Islamic Radicals. I wonder where this folly ends up!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"Special Report"

There are exceptions; but all too often journalism in the west is not much more than propaganda pieces where the goverment thesis is advanced not by facts, rather one sided characterisation and framing of "the other side" as unreasonable, and dishonarable. Case and point is the Gaurdian's Special report on Iran:

As negotiators, Iranians have a reputation for being both skilful and infuriating. They have certainly lived up to that in the three years since their nuclear ambitions became the focus of intense diplomatic attention, drawing in, beside the International Atomic Energy Authority, the EU troika of Britain, France and Germany, with the US warning and fulminating and trying to set terms from a distance.
One tactic that has reduced the best of Europe's diplomats almost to tears is the habit of suddenly discounting concessions which Iran had sought long and hard by announcing, once they have been reluctantly granted, that these concern minor issues of no particular importance to them either way. It is as if you can never build up any bank balance of obligation on the Iranian side. Another has been to violate the conditions under which talks are taking place, and then, when the other side not surprisingly breaks off discussions, to proclaim readiness, even eagerness, to start them again, but without mentioning the original agreed conditions. Yet another has been to obscure the difference between Iran's obligations under the IAEA regime and the agreements underwhich it is conducting talks with the EU. And yet another has been to produce apparent evidence that nuclear "sovereignty" is an issue of such popular importance in Iran as to limit the Iranian government's room for manoeuvre in international negotiations.

It seems this last card was the Iranian choice yesterday, when the parliament in Tehran voted by an overwhelming majority for a bill which would ban intrusive inspections by the IAEA if Iran is referred to the UN security council for its alleged nuclear misbehaviour. The vote was presumably not unrelated to the fact that the board of the IAEA is meeting in Vienna later this week to consider just such a referral, although many already expected it to postpone the decision, perhaps in the context of commendingnew Russian proposals as a basis for discussion. The Majlis tends to do what it is told or expected to do in foreign affairs, especially since the recent consolidation of the right within Iranian political institutions. In truth the vote does not mean much anyway, since Iran has never passed a law agreeing to such inspections, preferring to proceed on a more ambiguous basis, and no doubt there are ways, if it wishes, to preserve that ambiguity whatever the Majlis has supposedly decided.

The coverage of the issue has been so one sided that the Iranian government had to buy a full page advertisement in the New York Times (see full text here) to explain its version of the story. Take for example:

One tactic that has reduced the best of Europe's diplomats almost to tears is the habit of suddenly discounting concessions which Iran had sought long and hard by announcing, once they have been reluctantly granted, that these concern minor issues of no particular importance to them either way.

On what basis does the author make these allegations? What has the Best of Europe's diplomats reluctantly granted the Iranian side? The nature of these propaganda pieces are all too evident when contrasted with the detailed position of the Iranian goverment in An Unnecessary Crisis - Setting the Record Straight About Iran's Nuclear Program piece in the New York time.

The article's characterization of the Iranian Majlis (Parliament):
The Majlis tends to do what it is told or expected to do in foreign affairs, especially since the recent consolidation of the right within Iranian political institutions.

Reading the Guardian article, it appears to me the "do what it is told or expected to do in foreign affairs" is an better characterizations of the Guardian article as oppose to a Iranian parliment. It is truly sad when journalism becomes indistinguishable from government propaganda and and a citizen of western democracy has to get its facts from advertisement piece by a foreign government.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Virtual reality of the occupation.

The New Iraq Strategy or the Old Saddam?

Why US presence in Iraq is doomed.....It simply isn't based on reality, does he think people would forget the use of chemical weapons against their city?

"Once you take a city, you've got to go through it slowly and clear
it," says Capt. William Grube, commander of Fox Company, of the 2nd
Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, whose unit lives in and helps patrol
the city. He says previous operations in Anbar Province, where US and
Iraqi forces attacked and then withdrew, were simply "playing

"At some point, you need to take it, and sit there, and hold it for
real," says Captain Grube, from Emmaus, Pa. In Fallujah, "the longer
we have the place stable, the more chance there is to undermine
support for insurgents."

"When you look at the near term, of course it is going to be
negative," says Grube, about Fallujan views of how badly damaged their
city was by the offensive. So he takes the long view - one that many
Iraqis remain uncertain about.

"I don't think they will wake up one day and say, 'I'm all for
transparency and the rights of man,'" says Grube. "We have to show by
example that you can be powerful, but not a brutal conqueror."


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Racing alone

Interesting book:

Racing Alone

US vs Bush Frame!

The headline reads: used white phosphorus in Iraq
. Notice the frame in the title.

When Iraqi Army used Chemical weapons against Kurdish villages it was
attributed to Saddam. We saw headlines such as ....Saddam is using
WMD against its own people. Why isn't the use of Chemical weapons in
Iraq attributed to Bush and Blair as oppose to "US" or "Britain"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

When all else fails blame Iranians!

Britain accuses Iran of running training camps for bombers

The article says:

The account of the alleged Iranian involvement made by defence and diplomatic sources in Iraq yesterday was extraordinarily detailed.....

This story is rather interesting

There are parallel of this "detailed" allegation to the "45 minutes" claim of the British "defence and diplomatic sources" How is this any different? Where is the proof? If there are such evidence, wouldn't the British government presents the evidence to UN?

There are more... In the British view you see the colonialism mind set at work. It is as if the Iraqis (that have been at war in one form or another since 1980) can't figure out how to make a bomb and need Iranians to tell them about infra-red triggers. The "colonizer are superior to those of the colonized", the irony is that the British army was training Iraqis during the 80s, why is it that they don't expect them to have learned a thing or two from the years of British training?

In the "Radio Free Europe" Article Iran: Experts Say Infrared Bombs Used By Iraqi Insurgents Can't Be Homemade It says:

Jones [ security policy adviser to NATO in London] stressed that another significant feature -- also far beyond the insurgents' production capability -- is the infrared "trip-wire."

"It's very much the same concept that you have of alarms," Jones said. "An infrared beam goes between two points in a museum, and if that is interrupted, then an alarm goes off."

The alleged infra-red triggers are suppose to be the same as the ones that are used in the museums. Could they be the ones that were taken from the Iraq national museum as Donnald Rusmfeld was saying: "Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," Rumsfeld said . . . Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. "Stuff happens,"

What is a deception without national security claim?

Godfrey [the U.K. Armed Forces Program at the Royal United Services institute] added that the intelligence services have also gathered a lot of evidence from the attacks on British troops. He said he doubts, however, whether -- because of its nature -- the intelligence services would reveal this kind of evidence to the public.

What are they hiding the evidence from? The insurgents that planted the bomb?

Friday, September 30, 2005

....I mean, they can't win a battle...

THe Defense Department Frame

Q: A question for General Casey. You opened up and said the enemy is attacking the will of the Iraqi people and attacking the will of the American people. They are failing in Iraq. Are you suggesting that the enemy, with these spectacular attacks, is somehow successfully chipping away at the will of the American people?

GEN. CASEY: What do you think?

Q: It's not my question to answer – (laughter)

GEN. CASEY: It is your question. But look, you guys read the polls just like I do. And this is a terror campaign, and they are trying to create the impression that we and the Iraqis cannot succeed in Iraq. And what do you think? Is it having an impression back here at home, the levels of violence? I think it is.

SEC. RUMSFELD: There's no question but what the general says is correct, that they have a media committee, multiple media committees, the terrorists do. They know what they're doing. They're focusing on public opinion in the United States. They're trying to do things that are dramatic and affect that. And they're looking for allies and ways that they can get the echo chamber going. They work closely with Middle East networks and arrange to have cooperative arrangements with them.

No, I mean, they can't win a battle, they can't win a war out in the field. The only place they can win is in a test of wills, if people say the cost is too high and the time is too long.


The Iraqi Frame

Technically, it’s the summers end… But realistically, we have at least another month of stifling heat ahead of us. It’s almost mid-September and the weather is still hot and dry in Baghdad. There are a few precious hours in the very early morning when the sun seems almost kind. If you wake early enough, you can catch a solid hour of light breezes and a certain summer coolness.

The electrical situation deteriorated this summer in Baghdad. We’ve gone from a solid 8 – 10 hours daily to around six. During the winter, we have generators in the area providing electricity when it goes off. In the summer, however, with the heat and the heavy electrical load from air-conditioners AND the fuel shortage, many generators have to be turned off for most of the day.

We’re also having water difficulties, though people have grown accustomed to that. You can tell first thing in the morning that the water is cut off. I woke up this morning and knew it even before I had gotten out of bed. The house just sounds… dry. You strain your ears for the familiar house sounds and they aren’t there- there’s no drip-drip-drip from the faucet in the bathroom down the hall. There’s no sound of dishes being washed in the kitchen downstairs. There’s no sound of a toilet being flushed, and certainly no sound of a shower. The house is dry.

Girl Blogger from Baghdad

Two years after the war and there is not enough water and electricity and US Defense Secretery says " they can't win a battle, they can't win a war out in the field". Does he think he is winning?

Monday, September 26, 2005

It is getting wrost...

So the Basra police sees two men acting suspicious, unlike the rest of Iraq, they do their job and arrest them, later finding that they are connected to the British forces. So what does the Basra police get for doing their job?

Britain will scrap and replace police force in Basra

When you look back at events of last two years it seems that incompetence and corruption has been rewarded and people doing their job have been penalized.

What was the lesson?

Q: Earlier today you said the President was thinking of suggesting trigger power for the military to take over in the most severe catastrophe. My question is, would he bypass our constitutional civilian rule over the military to get that kind of authority?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are some laws that are already in place. You have the Insurrection Act, which was originally passed I think back in 1861. The President had authorities before that to quell rebellions or restore law and order if needed. But that was primarily -- the purpose of that act was really aimed at what I just said, quelling rebellions or restoring law and order. What we saw with Hurricane Katrina was a category five hurricane coming up the Gulf Coast. I think it hit as a category four. But this was a major, catastrophic event, and that's what the President is talking about, a situation like Hurricane Katrina. Is there a trigger needed, an automatic trigger for something like a hurricane five --

Q Wouldn't that be dangerous? After all, there is a --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- for something like a --

Q -- precedent, isn't there?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me -- that's why I'm trying to go through this to talk to you about his views and his thinking on this because it is one of the important lessons learned of Hurricane Katrina. And the President is talking about what do we do in the event of a major, catastrophic event when we need to quickly deploy large amounts of resources and assets to help stabilize the situation. That's what he's talking about.

The military is the one organization that has the capability to quickly deploy large amounts of resources and assets to help stabilize a situation in the event of a major catastrophe.

Q But why bypass civilian control? You have instant communications, you can call the President.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we saw some of the problems from Hurricane Katrina. And this is one of the lessons --

Q Why? What --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- this is one of the lessons learned when you have a situation where state and local first responders are doing everything they can to help. But they're also victims. And to a large extent, they are overwhelmed. And so the question becomes, in a situation like that, how do you immediately or quickly establish some stability to help get people the help they need.

Q But can't you assume, then, that the President would know immediately if there was a severe catastrophe in the country?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, what?

Q I said, wouldn't we assume that the President would know immediately that there was something terribly catastrophic?

MR. McCLELLAN: And that's why we need to look at this issue, because right now, the way things are set up, you have the Department of Homeland Security, which is from the federal government standpoint where you have a number of agencies under its umbrella that help assist the first responders. But it's primarily a state and local responsibility -- the initial response efforts, with the full support of the federal government.

And we saw with Hurricane Rita that there was very good coordination going on at all levels of government. And the response -- or the reports that the President was receiving that the response efforts were going well to get people the help that they needed and to save lives.

With Hurricane Katrina, you had a unprecedented natural disaster, one of a size and magnitude like we haven't seen before. It covered a very large area. And the President wants to make sure that we learn the lessons from Hurricane Katrina, and that means at all levels of government. And one of the lessons is, in a situation like this, do you need an organization like the military to come in and quickly stabilize the situation. They're the one organization that can do that, and that's what he wants Congress to consider.

Q They couldn't even reach the President during Katrina.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's false. That is absolutely false.


The cost of cleaning up after the damage caused by the broken levees (which was probably avoidable) is going to be much more than if the goverment had spend the money to keep the levees repaired and in working condition. The lesson is not to make sure other cities infrastructures are in good shape, rather the lesson is to change the rules on how quickly the millitary can get involve in the catastrophy. It looks as if the goverment trives on the catastrophies and is not interested in avoidng them in the first place.

George and Tony Show

Blair falls into line with Bush view on global warming

Monday, September 19, 2005


I can understand the delay and overall burrecratic incompetence of the federal goverment to deliver aid to the victim of the disaster. But this is just beyond belief....

Suburb Ok'd Decision To Block New Orleans Evacuees
The City Council in Gretna Louisiana has passed a resolution supporting a move by the police chief to seal off a bridge that could have been used by thousands of people in New Orleans to evacuate. Gretna is a largely white town while the vast majority of the evacuees in New Orleans were African-American. The town's mayor Ronnie Harris said "This wasn't just one man's decision. The whole community backs it." Hundreds of men, women and children were turned away as they tried to cross the bridge over the Mississippi River. There were reports that officers fired gunshots over the heads of some people trying to cross the bridge. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin criticized the town's move to close off the bridge. He said "We allowed people to cross ... because they were dying in the convention center. We made a decision to protect people.... They made a decision to protect property."

and From LA Times


I can understand the delay and the bureaucratic incompetence in trying to get aid to people. But this is just beyond belief...

Suburb Ok'd Decision To Block New Orleans Evacuees
The City Council in Gretna Louisiana has passed a resolution supporting a move by the police chief to seal off a bridge that could have been used by thousands of people in New Orleans to evacuate. Gretna is a largely white town while the vast majority of the evacuees in New Orleans were African-American. The town's mayor Ronnie Harris said "This wasn't just one man's decision. The whole community backs it." Hundreds of men, women and children were turned away as they tried to cross the bridge over the Mississippi River. There were reports that officers fired gunshots over the heads of some people trying to cross the bridge. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin criticized the town's move to close off the bridge. He said "We allowed people to cross ... because they were dying in the convention center. We made a decision to protect people.... They made a decision to protect property."


From LA Times

Is it a religious war?

Bishops want to apologise for Iraq war
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
BISHOPS of the Church of England want all Britain’s Christian leaders to get together in public to say sorry for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

The bishops say that the Government is not likely to show remorse so the churches should. They want to organise a major gathering with senior figures from the Muslim community to make a “public act of repentance”.....

Rest of the article


Jeddah, 19 Sept. (AKI) - Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh, Saudi Arabia's grand mufti, has spoken out against those seeking to sow civil war in neighbouring Iraq. "Adding to the bloodshed and murder of innocents by planes and bombs are attempts by suspicious parties to trigger sectarian tension between the people of Iraq,” said Al-Asheikh who was quoted by the Arab News daily.

These jihadists were trying to stoke intra-religious clashes “to serve the aims of the enemies conspiring against Muslims,” al-Asheikh argued. Al-Qaeda's number one in Iraq, the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared an all-out war against Shiites in an audio recording posted to the Internet last week.

Rest of the article

Sunday, September 18, 2005

So much for independent media!

"It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history"

Today's jeopardy... What do Iraqis consider as bigger problem than terrorism? Answer

Bishops want to apologise for Iraq war

From Bill Clinton:

"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq,
Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," he said.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

Clinton added: "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."


It sounds like the "one of the largest [credit] thefts in history".

Friday, September 16, 2005

separated church and state.... "for a theological reason, not a secular one"

Excerpt from the Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Ph.D. testimony in Judge Robert's confirmation hearing:

....It is less well known that the framers of the Constitution also drew on a theological vision and that their prohibition of the establishment of any religion and their insistence on the protection of the free exercise of religion was made for religious reasons.

The popular debate uses the “founding fathers” on both sides of any specific controversy on what are called separation of church and state issues. Those who vigorously oppose any perceived breach in the separation of church and state understand the authors of the Constitution as secularists and revolutionaries who established a nation on the concept of liberty, including not only freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion. These strict separationists see religion as a threat to the secular sphere and the individual freedom from religious control that a secular public life entails. On the other hand, those who want to lower the bar in the separation of church and state debates also cite the founders in support of their position. They argue that the founders were not “secularists” who wished to keep religion locked away from public life. As is so often the case, there is truth on both sides of this argument.

The thought of John Locke, on whose work “founding fathers” such as Thomas Jefferson drew, is instructive. Locke, like others in the 17th century, had seen the terrible results of religious wars as Catholics and Protestants struggled for power in England. At first Locke was dubious about the capacity of human reason to provide the bulwark against the terrible abuses that result when “Priest and Prince” are combined. But his own faith led him finally to believe that it is only in the absolute protection of human civil society from any control by religious authorities that people are enabled to come to have faith in God. He paid a high personal cost for challenging the abusive power of the religious state, as he had to flee to Holland to escape execution for treason.

It was, therefore, for a theological reason, not a secular one that Locke and the American founders who drew on his work separated church and state and prohibited establishing one religion over any others. In that way, they protected religious freedom. Locke believed that people could only come to know God under the conditions of absolute freedom from any state control of their consciences. All state control gives you, argued Locke, is the “sin of hypocrisy, and contempt of his divine majesty.”

Locke made this simple point: ‘God doesn’t need the help of the state for there to be faith.’ Also, Locke and the framers of the U.S. Constitution were deeply and profoundly suspicious of the motives of those who wanted to bring religious and state control together. Locke notes “how easily the pretence of religion, and of the care of souls, serves for a cloak to covetousness, rapine, and ambition.”

The Framers’ Construct—The Prohibition of Establishment of Religion and the Free Exercise of Religion—Have Stood the Test of Time

From our vantage point in the twenty-first century we can see that the framers were right. They did not just protect political freedom. They protected religious freedom. It is no accident that the United States through all of its history so far has been free from the terrible effects of religious war. The framers of the Constitution knew what they were doing. Don’t merge religion and the state.

This has recently been said with great acumen by retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. As she wrote in a concurring opinion last term, “At a time when we see around the world the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government, Americans may count themselves fortunate: Our regard for constitutional boundaries has protected us from similar travails, while allowing private religious exercise to flourish. Americans attend their places of worship more often than do citizens of other developed nations, and describe religion as playing an especially important role in their lives. Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” McCreary County v ACLU, 125 S. CT. 2722, 2746 (2005).

The Prophetic and Progressive Faith Traditions

It is helpful for the health of our political life to realize that some people can vigorously object to any attempt to merge religion and the state from deeply held religious conviction. Those who point out the remarkable danger to American society from tendencies to merge religion and the state are not by definition “faithless secularists” or “liberal ideologues”.

The faith communities who vigorously defend separation of church and state, who oppose any establishment of religion and who vigorously protect the free exercise of religion are a diverse group. Some may best be described as “progressives,” while others could be called “the prophetic.”

The Progressive Faith community is, in large part, the most direct heir to the religious perspectives that informed thinkers such as Locke. Progressive people of faith have roots in the European Enlightenment and in the Protestant movement in Christianity. The root word of “Protestant” is “protest” and the protest was, in part, against the temporal power wielded by the Catholic Church of the 16th century.

These movements were responsible for inventing a concept called the “secular,” a place in social life where organized religion does not hold absolute authority. It is the invention of this sphere of “worldliness” (the root of the word “secular” being the Latin for world) that gave rise to the political philosophy that informs the framers of the American Constitution. Subsequently, other religions have brought their faith traditions into the modern era and similarly defined a “world” where government holds sway. Reformed Judaism and Vatican II Catholicism are examples of this.

Progressive people of faith come from many religious traditions today. They share a commitment to the use of reason in human affairs, the duty of religious people to help create a just society and they believe that religious freedom and pluralism are religious and social goods.

The Prophetic faith traditions are also opposed to any infringement on the free exercise of religion and to any breach in the separation of church and state. Prophetic faith traditions often draw significantly on the spirit and want the church and the state to be separate because the latter is not spiritual.

Among the Prophetic faith traditions, African American Christianity, in particular, is very clear about both religious freedom and separation of church and state. African American Christianity was born under horrific state abuses of the individual rights of kidnapped and enslaved African people that were not only legal under American law, but also most often sanctified by the dominant churches. Enslaved African people were prevented, sometimes violently, from practicing their African religious faith and from forming independent Christian churches. This historical experience has given African American Christianity a very healthy skepticism about the dangers of merging religion and political authority and a deep conviction that both need to be constantly held accountable to the demands of true justice.

Jewish Americans contribute to this same perspective out of their experience of the Holocaust and underline that the systematic kidnapping, torture, and extermination of millions and millions of people was legal under the laws of Germany. Nuremberg has established that too narrow a reading of what is “legal” can profoundly betray the duty of the nation state to the claims of transcendent justice. Moreover, the American Jewish experience has been one of the flourishing of Jewish life due to the protections of religious liberty in the United States (though this has not always been perfectly observed by all citizens).

The women’s movement in the United States blends elements of both the Progressive and the Prophetic traditions. Nineteenth and twentieth century American women had to counter strong, even virulent, opposition from churches to have their right to vote recognized. To this day, American women do not have an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution due, in part, to vocal opposition from the religious quarter in the latter part of the twentieth century.

Together the Progressive and the Prophetic faith communities are united in the view that any move to privilege one religion over another and to blur the lines that separate the power of religion and the power of the state is to run a grave risk of damaging both religion and the state. It is an oft-repeated phrase, but one that is particularly apt in relationship to the effect of merging religion and politics, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Adherence to Religious Freedom Principles in the First Amendment is Critical in a Pluralistic Society

It might seem contradictory that while as a nation we are more religiously pluralistic than ever before, we see contemporary efforts by some to establish the doctrines of only one religion, Christianity, and indeed only of part of Christianity, as social policy. The strenuous objections to embryonic stem cell research, for example, are directly based on a particular religious conviction that the human soul is made present by God at the time of conception and that the newly fertilized embryo is ensouled .

When we look more closely, however, this is not as contradictory as it seems. While the Constitution protected religious freedom, our culture has been functionally Protestant since its beginning. In the 19th century, public school children were taught from readers that were patently a tutorial in the Protestant faith. Catholic immigrants in the 19th century formed their own parochial schools because they correctly perceived that this so-called public education was in truth nothing short of indoctrination in Protestantism.

What has become evident in the last half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first is that our society is becoming more genuinely religiously pluralistic. The Harvard “Pluralism Project” has documented this astonishing growth of religious pluralism. As Dr. Diana Eck writes in her widely praised book A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), “there are now more Muslims than Episcopalians, Jews or Presbyterians” in the United States.

Such increasing religious pluralism calls for even greater vigilance both in protecting religious minorities and clearly avoiding even the appearance of the establishment of any particular religion.

The Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Ph.D.
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
The Nomination of John G. Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An interesting article

The Incoherence of the Incoherent

All stories are on the table.

Today's fairy tale.....

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, you mentioned Syria. What are the consequences if Syria doesn't -- I mean, you said time is running out. Well, what does that mean? What are the consequences for Damascus? What would you like to see the United States or other countries do if Syria does not act the way you would like it to?

AMBASSADOR KHALILZAD: Well, I would not like to elaborate any more than that. I think they'll -- they should understand what I mean. It simply is not tolerable that they, with impunity, can allow terrorists to come from other countries in the region, get training or just either pass through -- or Baathists want to have the old order returned, get trained in places like Latakia or Aleppo or near Damascus and then come across the border, kill Iraqis and pursue policies or actions that are unhelpful to the success of Iraq.

As I said, our patience is running out; the patience of Iraqis are running out. The time for decision is arriving -- has arrived for Damascus. It simply must close the training camps. It should not allow youngsters, misguided by al-Qaida, from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, from North Africa, to fly into Damascus International Airport. It shouldn't be that hard, if you see young men between the ages of 18 and 28, who are coming without a return ticket, landing in Damascus Airport, to control that. If they cannot control that, if they need help to control inflow and processing of people, well, they should ask for help. I'm sure help can be provided. But it's gone on for too long and it simply needs to be dealt with.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad on Reconstruction Efforts

What if the "young men" have return tickets also?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

2+2 = ?

President's Radio Address
Crawford, Texas
August 13, 2005


This war on terror arrived on our shores on September the 11th, 2001. Since that day, the terrorists have continued to kill -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, Baghdad, London, and elsewhere. The enemy remains determined to do more harm.


When terrorists spend their days and nights struggling to avoid death or capture, they're less capable of arming and training and plotting new attacks on America.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Quote of the day

If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.

- John Cage

Friday, May 06, 2005

Intellectual Property Right.

If intellect is a property, then how come no one is collecting property taxes on intellect?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

jazz in seattle Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Why Should I believe you?

Question: Why should I belive Noam Chomsky's view of reality over anyone else? He has an appealing and belivable presentation style, but then so do those representing oppossing views.

Noam Chomsky: I say he is exactly right, he shouldn't belive it. That is why you have a brain for; you should check it out, look at the data, look at the facts, look at the evidence then decide what you think.

Listen to the full Interview

Blair the sleek liar.

Tony Blairs interview with Independent of London:

"The only thing I would ask people to do is understand that it was a very difficult decision. What I object to is people trying to frame the decision in terms of my integrity rather than in terms of the fact that I was faced with the situation where there were 250,000 troops down there. Saddam wasn't fully co-operating with the UN inspectors, he remained in breach of the UN resolutions and yet I couldn't get a second UN resolution with an ultimatum. I had to decide whether we backed off altogether, with all that would mean, or go ahead still and remove Saddam.

"It was a very difficult decision in very difficult circumstances and I have always made clear I respect those who disagreed with the decision I took".

He says there are some issues that are "a nightmare whichever decision you take"….

This was an issue that he was instrumental in. Isn’t is a sign of incompetence for a politician to put his country in a position were it is "a nightmare whichever decision you take".

….He points out that there was a sequence of events, each of which are sometimes taken out of context.
"We must remember the UN inspectors were only there because the troops were also there.
"It was the threat of force that got the inspectors back in. Now imagine what would have happened if I had backed away and that the Americans also backed away and the conflict had not happened. Saddam would still be in charge and immeasurably strengthened and there would be no further possibility about enforcing the community's will in regard to UN resolutions.
"Some will say that would have been better than having the conflict. That's a perfectly understandable view. I only ask people to understand there wasn't a middle way. So it was a nightmare in the sense that, whatever you did, you were going to get problems either in sorting out Iraq after a conflict or you would get big problems leaving Saddam in charge."

Wait a second now, what happened to the rest of the context?

a) UN Inspector had to go to Iraq because previous British (along with US, Europeans and Russians) government had authorized the sale of WMD to Iraq?
b) Saddam was in charge primarily because in 1991, after the first Gulf war, the Bush Sr administration had decided to authorized Saddam to put down Shiite uprising. Had they been left to their devices, Saddam would not have been in power.

On positive side he is more honest than President Bush:

"There are going to be many people who vote Labour in this election who strongly disagree with Iraq. There are people in my own party, there are candidates for my own party, who disagreed with Iraq. There will be some people who will vote for other parties who agreed with me about Iraq. Of course, I can't say that if we win this election that means everyone who supports us approved of Iraq. That would be absurd."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

diversity to conceal uniformity

“What you want in a media system is to present an ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity.”

Joseph Goebbels
Nazi Propaganda Minister

Sunday, March 27, 2005

a wizard who grew serpents on each of his shoulders

From Juan Cole's weblog:

.....Now-Ruz, the New Year celebrated by the Kurds (rooted in ancient Iranian Zoroastrianism, this holiday commemorates the spring solstice --usually March 21-- as the beginning of a new year). The Kurds tie their celebration to the legends of the Shahnameh, which tells the story of how in ancient times an evil ruler emerged, Dahhak or Zohak, who overthrew the glorious king Jamshid. Dahhak was a wizard who grew serpents on each of his shoulders, which needed to eat human brain every day. So Dahhak had young men rounded up from the subject populations, and two were sacrificed each day. Dahhak was finally overthrown by a young knight, Faridun, aided by the blacksmith Kaveh, who freed the captured young men on Now-Ruz. The Kurds have a legend that they are descended from those freed prisoners, and they celebrate their manumission on March 21. The story of Jamshid, Dahhak and Faridun is a variation on a widespread Indo-European myth cycle. In the ancient Indian sources the three are the king of the underworld, Yama; the world-serpent, Vrta, and Indra, who slays Vrta. The story is also echoed in the Nordic myth of Thor and the Midgaard serpent (Thor is a composite of Faridun the prince and Kaveh the blacksmith). At some point in Iran, the snake figure was historicized as an evil foreign king who brought drought and had serpents growing from his body, and he was also racialized. Dahhak or Zohak is a clearly Semitic word, whereas Jamshid and Faridun are Indo-Europeans. This development reflects the fights that took place when the Iranian peoples from Anatolia immigrated into Elamite and Assyrian territory in the 800s BC. Assyrians and Babylonians spoke Semitic languages related to Arabic and Hebrew. (Some US newspapers last year reported the struggle of Kaveh with Zohak as a historical event of the 7th century BC!)

The casting of the serpent monster as a Semitic ruler made it easy for Kurds to identify Dahhak with Saddam, and perhaps with the virulent strain of Arab nationalism he represented.

Interesting Q/A

Presenter: Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 10:03 a.m. EST

Defense Department Special Briefing on Iraq and Afghanistan

STAFF: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Q Good morning.

STAFF: Today we have an opportunity to let you interact with the
secretary of your Army, Dr. Francis Harvey, who has recently returned
from a trip into theater, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As this is his first time with you, I would ask that when we get to
questions and answers, that you identify yourself and your news
organization so he can get to know you better.

Mr. Secretary, please.


Q Good morning, sir. My name is Tom Squitieri with USA Today.
Following up on the issue of recruiting, two surveys conducted for DOD
and the Army recently as well as independent polling by our paper and
other media organizations show that one of the biggest challenges for
recruiters are parents of the younger people who are being convinced
by their parents not to sign up, for the reason they don't want to see
their child possibly killed or hurt in the conflict. With all the
ideas that you're brainstorming, about bonuses and all these other
things and the things you don't want to tell us this morning, how do
you deal with the fact that your biggest obstacle are parents?

SEC. HARVEY: Good question. And as you say, we do take
surveys along those lines.

One thing we're going to be doing, without getting into
the details, is we're going to be being very proactive to pointing out
to recruits and their parents the value of serving the country. This
is a theme the chief and I started in our testimony to Congress, that
it is a noble calling to serve the country. I personally feel that
way. I'm standing here before you because I wanted to serve the
country. And that's what I wanted to do. This is actually my third
career. And my motivation is, during a time of war I want to serve the
country that has been so good to me. I want to return to the
government, return specifically to DOD, that was very influential in
my business success, and what I learned here at the department. So
we're going to appeal to patriotism. We're going to appeal to the
value of service. And we're going to do that in a very proactive way.

So I think those particular results are subject to change
and they can be turned around.


A Nation Rocked to sleep

A Nation Rocked to sleep

by Carly Sheehan
Brother Casey KIA 04/04/04
Sadr City Baghdad

Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?
The torrential rains of a mother's weeping will never be done
They call him a hero, you should be glad that he's one, but
Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?

Have you ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?
He must be brave because his boy died for another man's lies
The only grief he allows himself are long, deep sighs
Have you ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?

Have you ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?
They say that he died so that the flag will continue to wave
But I believe he died because they had oil to save
Have you ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?

Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?
The leaders want to keep you numb so the pain won't be so deep
But if we the people let them continue another mother will weep
Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

History according to NPR.

U.S. Changes Tack on Iraq Military Training

All Things Considered, January 24, 2005 · After this weekend's
elections in Iraq, the U.S. plans to revise its strategy on training
Iraq's fledgling security forces, based on lessons learned in
Afghanistan. American advisers "embed" with units for up to two years,
creating closer partnerships with the forces being trained.

Eric Westervelt: …. Additionally the advisor model raises concern
among human rights groups. They recall the specter of the Central
American forces that used their new US trained combat skills to commit
egregious human right abuses, particularly in El Salvador and
Guatemala. General Grange says it is a REAL concern, especially given
the vicious nature of the insurgency and history of brutality under
Saddam Hussein.

Retired US Brigadier General David Grange: "It is hard to teach a
military that came from a country with three decades of lack of
respect for human rights to others, to change over night. And there
will be incidents, no doubt in my mind this would happen, and the US
advisors would have to report that. Which presents another, you know,
issue camaraderie between the advisor and advise."

Full Report

"War has always diminished our freedom. When our freedom has expanded, it
has not come as a result of war or of anything the government has done but
as a result of what citizens have done." -- "Civil disobedience is not our
problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of
people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their
government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of
this obedience. . . Our problem is that people are obedient all over the
world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and
cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of
petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing
the country. That's our problem."

-- (Historian Howard Zinn, author of 'A People's History of the
United States')

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The OTHER product of rational, intelligent minds - modern, Western minds.

The turn-off is just past a BP petrol station, close to a Leclerc
supermarket. You leave a roundabout and cross a concrete flyover. You
could be on the edge of any town in early 21st-century Europe.

Ahead, through the swirling snow, looms a single railway line,
disappearing through a tower in a long, red-brick building - the
terminus of a short branch line to Auschwitz-Birkenau built in the
spring of 1944. Beyond are three long railway sidings, tall
barbed-wire enclosures, wooden watch-towers, and dark huts in neat
lines. Some huts are ruined. Others stand pristine in freshly fallen
snow, as if enchanted by a curse and frozen for all time.

All is symmetrical and orderly, the product of rational, intelligent
minds - modern, Western minds.



Saturday, January 22, 2005

What if?

"If we had been wrong the other way and if the threat had really been imminent and we had been hit with an anthrax attack here that was tied to Iraq and the president had done nothing about it, what would people then say?" he retorted when asked to comment about unfound weapons of mass destruction.

"I mean, it would make the criticism of failure to prevent 9/11 just look like child's play."

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview with PBS television's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer"

Who else can use this defense? General Pinochet? Stalin? Hitler?

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Sound Bite .....

NPR's All Things Considered had program on Civil Right
movement with guest Andrew Hacker, author of the 1992 book Two
Nations; Claybourne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Papers
Project at Stanford University; and NPR's Jennifer Ludden. This is
what they said:

Jennifer Ludden: ... Would you concede.... that the general situation
for black Americans has improved?

Andrew Hacker: We have One Million young Black men in prison! That
is a whole chunk of black men, we have more black men in prison that
we have in college... Many more! And nobody is saying there is a
whole generation... that is almost close to genocide in the sense
that they are gonna be felons for the rest of their lives.

Jennifer Ludden: I am wondering Claybourne Carson, how important is
leadership, and is part of the issue there is no modern day Martin
Luther King?

Claybourne Carson: There is no... obviously no Martin Luther King, he
would be 76 years old now, and I think he would be still talking
about the issues that Mr Hacker just described. But my own feeling is
that Dr King would not be welcomed at most Martin King celebrations.
He would be too unsettling in terms of his own message that we still
have a lot of work to do. So I think to some degree what has happened
with Martin Luther King he has been turned into a sound bite, you
know that wonderful speech, I was at the march on Washington, and I
admired the speech, but the way in which it has been turned into a
sound bite to comfort America rather than unsettle America. To make it
seem as if these issues are all in the past. At least once struggled
with that, but now we have overcome it. And that is the way we want
to remember Martin Luther King.

Jennifer Ludden: Andrew Hacker

Andrew Hacker: We live in a very self centered time...

You can listen to the full program at:
All Things Considered

A MUST Watch Documentary

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now
they promise to protect us from nightmares.

The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror
network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these

This is a must watch documentary - Broadcast BBC 2 10/20/04 - Written
and Produced by Adam Curt

Watch Video:

Part One: The Power of Nightmares
Part Two: Baby It's Cold Outside
Part Three: The Shadows In The Cave Better Alternative

The neocons... What they say and what they belive in.

What they say....

LEDEEN : We were aiming for an expansion of the zone of freedom in the world. And in part that had to do with fighting Communism, and in part that had to do with fighting other kinds of tyrannies. But that’s what we were about, and that’s what we’re still about.

INTERVIEWER (off-camera): When you say you were democratic revolutionaries, what do you mean?

LEDEEN : It meant that we wanted to support the people who wanted to carry out revolutions against tyrannical régimes in the name of democracy, in order to install a democratic system.

INTERVIEWER : As simple as that.

LEDEEN : Yeah. It’s not nuclear physics, you know. I mean, freedom is a fairly simple thing to get.

What they belive in...

WILLIAM KRISTOL , Chief of Staff to the Vice President, 1988-92: For Strauss, liberalism produced a decent way of life, and one that he thought was worth defending, but a dead end where nothing could be said to be true; one had no guidance on how to live, everything was relative. Strauss suggests that maybe we didn’t just have to sit there and accept that that was our fate. Politics could help shape the way people live, that politics could help shape the way that people live, teach them some good lessons about living decent and noble human lives. And can we think about what cultures, and what politics, what social orders produce more admirable human beings? I mean, that whole question was put back on the table by Strauss, I think.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

"as they should"

''This is the only practical way to 'win' in Iraq, cut the size of US commitments, and establish a government the Iraqis see as legitimate,"

''What is not clear is whether all the necessary resources are really being provided, and whether a comprehensive and realistic plan exists to ensure that Iraqi military, security, and police forces develop as they should."

Anthony Cordesman, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

You got to love these "fellows"... They get so full of themselves that they think their "as they should" can be forced upon others -- Good luck!

The 4 "areas"

''There's areas where the Iraqi security forces have performed well," Metz said. ''There's areas where they've performed sub-optimally. There's areas where they've been overwhelmed by their opposition and have had to step back and live to fight another day. And there's areas where they've just plain not participated in the fight."

Lieutenant General Thomas Metz, the senior ground commander in Iraq

The good news is that 2 years in to the occupation the "areas" have been identified.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Bin Ladin Option

"The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," ...."From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."

A Military source in the Pentagon

ronically, Bin Ladin's motivation to attack New York was to make sure American policies in the middle east is not "cost-free" for its civilian population. The chance for this new Pentagon tactic to work on Iraqis is exactly the same as the chance of finding New Yorkers after 9/11 abandoning their goverment in favor of the Taliban.

Friday, January 07, 2005

SPECTER: Starting with the Patriot Act, I already commented that we had this wall which precluded law enforcement from using evidence of crime which had been obtained through search and seizure warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And now that evidence may be used in a criminal prosecution.

To what extent has that provision and the other provisions of the Patriot Act been of real importance in our fight against terrorism?

GONZALES: Well, of course, Mr. Chairman, I have not been at the department, so I may not know all of the details of specific successes that the United States and the Department of Justice have enjoyed as a result of the tools given to us by the Patriot Act.

But I am told that they have been very significant, and that for our career prosecutors, for the U.S. attorneys out in the field, they have been very, very beneficial in allowing our law enforcement personnel to defend this country.

I believe that in part because of the Patriot Act there has not been a domestic attack on United States soil since9 /11.

If the Patriot Act intends to make it easy to prosecute the terrorist, one has to wonder then why there hasn't been even a single criminal conviction of on terrorism charge since 9/11.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

"Now, I hate to ruin a good story by the president's political opponents, who are attacking him through this nominee, but let me just say there's one important point that needs to be made: Judge Gonzales is absolutely right.

You don't have to take my word for it.

First of all, Al Qaida never signed the Geneva Conventions, but moreover the Red Cross' own guidelines state that, "To be entitled to Geneva protection as a prisoner of war, combatants must satisfy four conditions: being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; secondly, having a fixed, distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; number three, carrying arms openly; and, number four, conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

Does anyone on this committee, or anywhere else for that matter, seriously argue that Al Qaida terrorists comply with the law of war? "

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez to be U.S. Attorney General.

*) Al Queda and Taliban seem to satisfy all four of the condition set out by the Senator. They have a leader (Bin Ladin), the wear distinct clothes, they openly carry their Klashnikov, and they use their weapon as has been the "custom of war".

*) The torture cases that have been publicized so far are about Abu Gharib and Iraqis. So far the practices in the Afghanistan and Gunatanamo has been for the most part secret.

*) Wonder what the Senator thinks are the protection afforded to the US para-military/mercenaries forces that operate in Iraq and Afghanistan.