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?