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Current Topic: Current Events

Bush Still Doesn't Get It -
Topic: Current Events 11:57 am EDT, Jul 23, 2007

Here's a bit of modern-day heresy: President Bush actually has some rather sound instincts about the Muslim world. He has visited mosques more often than any of his predecessors, and he frequently talks of winning Muslim hearts and minds. So why are those hearts and minds so estranged today? What went wrong?

The problem is that Bush has relied on ill-informed advisers and out-of-touch experts. By substituting their false expertise for his own sensible intuitions, he has failed to understand the Muslim world -- which means he has failed to understand the arena in which the first post-9/11 presidency will be judged. Instead of seriously explaining Muslim societies that are profoundly split in complex ways, Bush's aides have offered a fatally flawed stereotype of Islam as monolithic and violent.
In fact, we discovered three broad categories of Muslim responses to the modern world: the mystics, the modernists and the literalists.

this is a good, if depressing article. we've made so many mistakes.

Bush Still Doesn't Get It -

Bush Commutes Libby’s Prison Sentence - New York Times
Topic: Current Events 9:07 am EDT, Jul  3, 2007

President Bush said today that he had used his power of clemency to commute the 30-month sentence for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of perjury in March and was due to begin serving his time within weeks.

For anyone on the fence about the corruption of this administration, here you go... We've now transitioned into the range of absurdity. I can't believe anyone still supports these criminals.

Bush Commutes Libby’s Prison Sentence - New York Times

Iran's secret plan for summer offensive
Topic: Current Events 11:48 pm EDT, May 22, 2007

Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.

"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."
US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban's campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.

[Well, there you have it. Welcome to perpetual war. Fuck fuck fuck. -k]

Iran's secret plan for summer offensive

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US evangelist Jerry Falwell dies
Topic: Current Events 9:42 am EDT, May 16, 2007

Adam said :

The Reverend Jerry Falwell, a leading US conservative evangelist, has died in hospital in Virginia after being found unconscious in his office.

assumming their is a God, which I don't believe but for the purposes of this just suppose, then I would love to have seen Falwell's reaction when he was sent to Hell for being a self-righteous bigot and in violation of everything Jesus said about the meek, humility, praying quietly at the back of the church, the widow's mite and money and wealth in general, casting the first stone, judge not lest ye be judged (well indeed i'm now in violation of that precept but i've tried to live by it not spent my life flagrantly flouting it).

That "judge not" line has always been one of the hardest for me to follow... there's a difference, I think, between making an assessment of someone and passing judgement, insofar as one is final and one leaves room for revision, at least intellectually. But some people you really do know pretty well, because they're public figures, and their deeds are likewise public. So in this case, I'll feel free to judge : Falwell deserves a measure of the pain he's inflicted in his life of falsity and hate. A heaping measure.

I'm still on the fence about wether there's any one or any thing out there providing it right now, but that's unknowable...

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US evangelist Jerry Falwell dies

Billy and Jill tie the knot
Topic: Current Events 11:08 am EDT, May  1, 2007

Billy and Jill got married on Sunday. The wedding was wonderful and several of us had the honor of witnessing the beautiful event.

[ Hear hear! We love you guys! -k]

Billy and Jill tie the knot

Eugene Robinson - Walled City -
Topic: Current Events 8:41 am EDT, Apr 24, 2007

Bush has enmeshed the United States in a civil conflict that will take years, probably decades, to resolve. The building of walls mocks the administration's happy-talk rhetoric about how much political progress the Iraqis are making. If the Iraqi government really were the exercise in inclusive democracy that Bush claims, walls would be coming down. Putting up walls only makes sense if the White House foresees a substantial U.S. military presence in Iraq for many years to come.

[hear hear. -k]

Eugene Robinson - Walled City -

Bush Administration Settles VA Pentacle Lawsuit - Pentacle ALLOWED
Topic: Current Events 4:10 pm EDT, Apr 23, 2007

From: Lady Boudicca, Elder, Church of Dynion Mwyn, Inc.

The Bush Administration Agrees To Approve Wiccan Pentacle For Veteran Memorials ... Monday, April 23, 2007

[ Good to hear... Wicca is as valid as any other religion, really. -k]

Bush Administration Settles VA Pentacle Lawsuit - Pentacle ALLOWED

Gunman in massacre contacted NBC News
Topic: Current Events 8:35 pm EDT, Apr 18, 2007

Sometime after he killed two people in a Virginia university dormitory but before he slaughtered 30 more in a classroom building, Cho Seung-Hui mailed NBC News a large package including photographs and videos Monday morning, boasting, “When the time came, I did it. I had to.”

The package included an 1,800-word manifesto-like statement diatribe in which Cho expresses rage, resentment and a desire to get even.

The material does not include any images of the shootings Monday, but it does contain vague references. And it mentions “martyrs like Eric and Dylan” — apparently a reference to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold...

The material is deeply angry, crying out against unspecified wrongs done to him in a diatribe laced with profanity.

“I didn’t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But no, I will no longer run. It’s not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you f---, I did it for them,” Cho says on one of the videos.


[Wow indeed. Fucking raving lunatic jackass. -k]

Gunman in massacre contacted NBC News

Study debunks journalistic image of rich 'Latte' Democrats, poor 'NASCAR' Republicans
Topic: Current Events 1:45 pm EDT, Mar 18, 2007

'Gross oversimplification'

"Our results suggest that the popular journalistic image of rich latte-drinking Democrats and poor NASCAR Republicans is a gross oversimplification," Park says. "Income varies far more within states than average income does between states, and it is these with-in-state variances that explain national voting patterns."

The bottom line, the study suggests, is that little has changed in terms of income's general influence on individual voting patterns: in every presidential election since 1952, the richer a voter is, the more likely that voter is to vote Republican, regardless of ethnicity, sex, education or age.

What's changing, the researchers argue, is how differences in income are playing out at the county and state levels. A key finding is that relative income is a much stronger predictor of voting preferences in poor states than it is in rich states.

"We find that income matters more in 'red' America than in 'blue' America," the researchers explain. "In poor states, rich people are much more likely than poor people to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but in rich states (such as Connecticut), income has a very low correlation with vote preference."

In Connecticut, one of the nation's richer states, researchers found little difference between the voting patterns of the state's richest and poorest residents. In Mississippi, the nation's poorest state, they found dramatic income-related differences, with rich voters twice as likely as poor to vote Republican.

The study also documents changing income-related voting patterns in counties across the nation. Rich counties, a longtime bastion of Republican support, are generally shifting toward the Democrats. And while Republicans maintain an edge among rich counties in poor southern states, they're doing so with slimmer margins.

These regional differences may be especially important, the researchers suggest, in understanding why the national news media is especially vulnerable to the misperception of the typical Democrat as a rich liberal living in a wealthy urban metro area.

Study debunks journalistic image of rich 'Latte' Democrats, poor 'NASCAR' Republicans

Zbigniew Brzezinski's Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 2/1/2007
Topic: Current Events 10:22 am EST, Feb 20, 2007

Testimony from Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor, 1977-1981. Original is a PDF. Also available via Google in HTML.

I've quoted four contiguous paragraphs below. Interesting words from one of the architects of the Mujahideen resistance forces in Soviet occupied Afghanistan. When he says that "most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism," he's probably in a position to know something about the subject.

* * *

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about WMD's in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the "decisive ideological struggle" of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and al Qaeda are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack which precipitated America’s involvement in World War II.

This simplistic and demagogic narrative overlooks the fact that Nazism was based on the military power of the industrially most advanced European state; and that Stalinism was able to mobilize not only the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but also had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine. In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism; al Qaeda is an isolated fundamentalist Islamist aberration; most Iraqis are engaged in strife because the American occupation of Iraq destroyed the Iraqi state; while Iran, though gaining in regional influence, is itself politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Deplorably, the Administration's foreign policy in the Middle East region has lately relied almost entirely on such sloganeering. Vague and inflammatory talk about "a new strategic context" which is based on "clarity" and which prompts "the birth pangs of a new Middle East" is breeding intensifying anti-Americanism and is increasing the danger of a long-term collision between the United States and the Islamic world. Those in charge of U.S. diplomacy have also adopted a posture of moralistic self-ostracism toward Iran strongly reminiscent of John Foster Dulles's attitude of the early 1950's toward Chinese Communist leaders (resulting among other things in the well-known episode of the refused handshake). It took some two decades and a half before another Republican president was finally able to undo that legacy.

Zbigniew Brzezinski's Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 2/1/2007

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