Sunday, March 27, 2005
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Elizabeth Cheney is the Czar of Democracy!That's supposed to be funny because a Czar is a corruption of the word Caesar (so is the German Kaiser). A Caesar is an unelected, unlimited ruler, a totalitarian. From the Washington Post
A meeting Thursday, hosted by new State Department "democracy czar" Elizabeth Cheney, brought together senior administration officials from Vice President Cheney's office, the National Security Council and the Pentagon and about a dozen prominent Syrian Americans, including political activists, community leaders, academics and an opposition group, a senior State Department official said.So, the WaPo engaged in some dumb wordplay, is that much to write about? Certainly not. The real issue is the nature of the (expatriate) Reform Party of Syria. Scrolling down to the bottom of the home page we see brief indictments of the current Syrian government. What do they say about Bashar al-Assad(the Lion)'s brother-in-law? "The evil of Syria. Behind the scenes. Plays w/CIA. Supports terrorism." And what do they say about Ghazi Kanaan, the Interior Minister? "Good relations w/CIA. Wants to be the new Syrian Intelligence Tsar. Corrupt." Hard for me to draw parallels between the Chalabi linked CIA and the anti-CIA linked Reform Party of Syria. Color me unimpressed. Not that honest expatriates shouldn't have a role in critiquing the current government (which is Monarchic in nature, despite RPS referring to al-Assad as the "illegal President"), but simply that these folks, sincere as they might be, don't resemble what I'd call the core of a new government. I'm sure the RPS leader, Farid Ghadry, sees himself that way, but that's not how I am struck. Czar of Democracy, daughter of the Vice-President, positively surreal.
The opposition group comes from the Syria Reform Party, a small U.S.-based Syrian organization often compared to the Iraqi National Congress led by former exile Ahmed Chalabi. The INC, which led the campaign to oust former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, had widespread U.S. financial and political support from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, as well as Congress.
Friday, March 25, 2005
The Kyrgyz SituationImportant things to know include some background information. Map of Kyrgyzstan (notice the strange arrows, showing patches Uzbekistan inside Kyrgyz territory). Also important to note is the long Kyrgyz border with China. Kyrgyz, like Uzbek, Kazakh, and Turkmen, are speakers of an Altaic language, specifically, the Turkic sub-family. The country is home to some regional (North vs South) strife. The opposition are almost all from Southern areas. The country is home to some religious strife, pitting the secular versus the Islamists, the main underground group is known as Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The Islamist support is also in the South. I haven't read anything that directly links the political opposition with the Islamists. The main players are former President Ayakev, coup-leader Bayikev, and new President Kadyrbekov (although Bayikev reported he was President). Ayakev was known as the most liberal leader of the Five-Stans, but that is not saying much. Ayakev instituted many free market reforms. The economy is very bad now. I can hear free market critics already saying "It would have been fine if only they'd done more." Although its obvious that Ayakev was no saint, he was the guy who appointed Bayikev to the Prime Minsiter's post in 2000. Bayikev appears to have lost his election bid to parliament, and things have been getting hairy ever since. Kadyrbekov was banned from a run-off election based on alleged fraud on his part. Details on the protests and pictures available here. Ayakev is criticized in this older Human Rights Watch report. I'm partial to the Swiss as reporters. This peice from the usually very fact-based Swiss Info includes the following, perhaps telling, comments, in comparing the CIA-inspired coups in Geogia (Shaskavili) and Ukraine(Yuschenko).
Only Kyrgyzstan's revolution was violent and only its opposition government immediately won the backing of Moscow which once ruled the region.One last thought. Ayakev was thinking of doing more trade with China, since Russia has signed on, and the official US position seems to be favorable, there is the off chance this was a joint anti-China move.
And, unlike the new leaders in Georgia and Ukraine who have irked Moscow, Kyrgyzstan's opposition has shown no interest in shifting Westwards away from Russian influence.
Most of the opposition leaders were themselves top officials at some time during Akayev's 14-year rule.
War Monger Report: BBC UKStrangely enough, I hear the UK is far from supportive of Bush's efforts in Iran. Anyway, BBC is bringing up this old, discredited peice of "War Monger Iran Disinformation" (Campaign, Set Peice 1). I guess a story doesn't run unless they can find a real fool to report on it. What is Set Peice 1? A swab of highly enriched U-235 that IAEA inspectors found during inspections of Iran's facilities. At the time, Iran claimed two years ago that the material in question was simply leftover from the previous owner. Then, less than six months ago, as I blogged at the time, the IAEA experts decided that the contamination from previous owners "the imported components can probably account for all of the particles in question" (Arms Control Today). Not, this was not some hasty decision, but one that was made after eighteen months had been available for study.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Is this news?On advice of extralegal counsel, Robert Lindsay, I've been informed that Miyoko Watai is not a man, but a woman, thus removing from my mind the idea that Fischer is gay. The quote, from this newspaper peice that fooled me is as follows: "Miyoko Watai, his long-time companion, said he was "very happy" after hearing the news." I had mixed my antecedents, and been fooled by the use of the term long-time companion. Original post can be found in HTML comments.
Romance V Germanic
UPDATE: As of 2008, please refer instead to this siteThis morning I woke up and I had the answer to a question that had been bothering me, namely, why did Protestantism flourish where it did, and why did Catholicism remain in other places? I had heard economic arguments which I didn't like, or knew to be untrue. Nor did I prefer to think of religious people as picking and choosing based on the basis of cash flows, a mild bias, and one which I could ignore if I had been presented with good evidence. It turns out to have been linguistic. If you have been following my blog, or clicked on the links in the sidebar, you'll learn about my theory of the linguistic basis of terrorism, which I have been hoping will dominate the debate for the last year or so. Now I find that religion, at least once, operated on the same principles! Thanks to the dozens and dozens of people who disagreed, and only convinced me further (the most ironic being a Slovenian, who rejected the idea, even after we discussed how modern Slovenian borders were linguistic). The Religious map matches the linguistic. A couple notes. The Treaty of Augsburg, 1555, was what gave Lutheran German Princes and Peasants the right to be Lutheran within Germany. That date is not on the map. The linguistic map is the modern map. I think I know where to get a ~1648 linguistic map of Europe, but I'm afraid it isn't nearly as clean as these other two maps, nor does it distinguish between Romance and Germanic families as sharply.
Monday, March 21, 2005
WowieDo you care about Iraq? You MUST watch Leonard Downie and some of the Washington Post staff cover foreign policy on C-SPAN. Now, I know what you are thinking. "WaPo, Why Bother?" and generally I'd say you were right. Two or three of the four speakers are, well, predictable. One, however, was simply mind-blowing for me. Do you care about the troops? Just thank goodness Wolfowitz is OUT of the Defnese Department, and that Rumsfeld will retire before too very long. Thank goodness Bolton is out of State, too, come to think of it. Karen Hughes back in? Not really the worst sign. She's got a lot of the Eisenhower Republican in her (Hey, I'm talking about improvements here, not absolute goodness). May the world become a better place.
The Law Bush Signed, Relating To Terminal CareA lot of chatter is about concerning a law Bush signed in 1999 relating to the right to die. The bill in question has no official title, but was numbered SB1260 of the Texas State Legislature's 1999 session. In short, if this mess of legalese can ever be described shortly, it includes the following, some of which is scary. § 166.006 The law makes pains to insure that Insurers and Health Care Providers can't force you to sign an "advance directive" concerning your wishes if completely and terminally incapicated. No penalties are mentioned. One can easily imagine how it would keep costs down to have Insurers push people into signing advance directives. § Directives are valid even if not notarized. Happy Forger's Day! The charges, however, are "attempted homicide" for doing it. Generally outlines the forms that would have to be signed for an advanced directive. § 166.039 includes a the both dubious and relevant subsection (f),
(f) The fact that an adult qualified patient has not executed or issued a directive does not create a presumption that the patient does not want a treatment decision to be made to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment§ 166.045 (halfway down!) is when the discussion really begins. It basically says that if the doctor does not want to provide treatment, the decision must be reviewed by a board the doctor is not on(§§ a) then the patient has 10 days(§§ e) while the physician (or facility personnel) will make "reasonable efforts" to find a new physician(§§ d) What I have not discussed is what was going on before that in Texas, and I'm not really clear.
Bush's Judges"Slavery was God's gift to white people." "The purpose of a woman is to be subjugated to a man." Another judge who ruled that a doctor who put a white coat on a salesman and brought him in to a breast exam was within the law. I'm the kind of person who wants to have a white van with those quotes (maybe one on each side) and drive around the South and Mountain States with a loudspeaker saying "Support Bush's Nominees!" "Slavery was God's gift to white people." "Women should be subjugated to a man." "Support Bush And Support His Nominees!" Anyone want to fund the trip?
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Are YOU Tough On Crime?If you aren't, then you are likely one of those "freedom-lovers."
It would be an easy matter to prove that in all, or almost all, the governments of Europe, penalties have increased or diminished in proportion as those governments favored or discouraged liberty.[The Spirit of Laws, Vol I, Book VI, Sec IX]
Friday, March 18, 2005
Feith Relisten, TodayMore than once Feith repeated mention of "countering ideological support for terrorism." He later described it as "The only way we are going to win the war on terrorism is, as a country, by dealing with the ideological support that the terrorists get." No one asked what this might entail. There was far more interest in the preventive/preemptive war talk, and Feith flat out lied when describing America as a country with even a preventive war past. He makes two absurd comments on this matter. He brings up tsunami relief. FYI, we didn't pre-position relief forces before the tsunami, there was no preventative or pre-emptive angle. He also brought up Haiti, where US-funded rebels were creating anarchy and wouldn't stop until Aristide left. Likely Aristide would win 60+% in an election today, especially if the race was between him and the scumbags running the country now.
Bombing of SS Norway, almost two years agoIt was al-Qaeda terrorism, I'm convinced. That's updated information from before, and I was cruising around and found this little tidbit concerning international worker rights
Claimants of victims in the May 25 explosion in Miami could get only 10,000 dollars (about 530,000 pesos) if the case were transferred to the Philippines from Florida, where they could get as much as one million dollars (53 million pesos), a Miami Herald report said last month.
A seafarers' contract negotiated by the Philippine government with the Malaysian-owned Norwegian cruise ship and other Miami-based cruise liners, allows the transfer of such cases to Philippine courts
UPDATE: More on the worker's rights angle of the story (unrelated to the succesful al-Qaeda attack in America which no one seems to care about) here
Aside from the unscrupulous practices in FOCs, Bayoneta also cited the practice of blacklisting of seamen by manning agencies and ship owners. These prevent seafarers who criticize anti-worker practices and unsafe conditions on a ship from boarding again.
"The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) engages in a similar practice except they call it 'watchlisting'. For us, it's the same thing because both practices prevent seafarers from being employed again just because they dare speak out against the unjust conditions they are subject to," said Bayoneta.
Doug Feith TodayI only caught the last ten minutes of Doug Feith, Deputy (Under?)Secretary of Defense for Policy. Mr. Feith, true believer in the Iraq War, and the most shameless peddler of Iraq/Al-Qaeda links theories, didn't say much. He talked a bit about "not knowing" what the future might hold. He tried to draw a comparison with the Cold War, where we apparently knew the Gulf of Tonkin event was to occur, where we knew the North of Korea would invade the South, where we knew in advance about revolutions and counter-revolutions around the world. Certainly planning for all-out war with the Soviets would have been job one, but at no point did we ever know how it might start, or how it might go. Doug Feith is trying to get the press to justify extra-funding, and to have him seen as a very smart person, by referring to the unknown. The Reuters and VOA questions sucked. I think I would have asked if there as much certainty before as he asserted, or as much uncertainty now. Are we thinking that there is liable to be need for military action in the Western Hemisphere, or Western Europe?
Thursday, March 17, 2005
How did England Become Protestant?The author has made no attempt to draw parallels with modern evangelical Protestantism. Where did English Protestants come from? They were educated at Cambridge. How did they gain power? Henry VIII had relied both on English Catholics and Protestants in his machinations against the power of the Papacy. After he was done, the Catholics found many of their own tracts being used against English Catholicism. How was it cemented? Henry's son, and only heir apparent, was educated entirely by Protestants. It should also be noted that many of Henry's wars, in Scotland and the raids in France, were against Catholic powers.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Explaining Wolfowitz Nominated For World Bank PresidentLike the Czar over Potemkin, Dear Leader does not know what is going on. His filter is the close group of people around him, foremost among them Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice and Cheney. As a side note, I just recently finished R Suskind's "The Price of Loyalty," which does nothing but confirm this view of Bush as ill-informed. At this moment, and no one knows for how much longer, the Iraq Attack seems to have been mutated from a Depose-Saddam/Avenge-My-Father/Lots-of-Corporate-And-Defense-Contracts/No More WMDs For the NMEs plan into a "Let's Bully The World Into Democracy" plan, and, for the last week, it seems to be working. If it does work (and so far I give it a 0% chance, but that could rise), who is to be rewarded except its architects, foremost among them P Wolfowitz? Credentials be damned, even if P Wolfowitz has never managed a retail shoe store, managing the funding arm of the US foreign policy establishment will be trivial.
This Matter Is Unrelated To His DaughterI am spending a week in a scholar's home. He has quite a collection of works on the History of England. Considering contemprorary (and ancient, it turns out) sympathies for times long dead; the pretensions of those who assert that only tradition can guide, has led me to investigate some of the sources of the American Republic. I read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers in college, along with the best known works of Locke, Grotius, Hume; the works of the Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, along with economists like Smith, Ricardo, Chambers, Aito, and many more. All of this, however, was written with America in mind, a state the revolutionaries could not have enjoyed. They thought of England.
- S Keynes and M Lapidge, Alfred the Great, Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources
- WA Chaney, The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England
- RA Brown, The Normans and the Norman Conquest
- MP Gilmore, The World of Humanism, 1453-1517
Monday, March 14, 2005
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Misleading TitleSomeone, Ambrose-connected, wrote a book called "The Longest Winter." The topic is the Battle of the Bulge. Most people might think a book with that title might concern Napoleon's famous invasion of Russia. More knowledgable people would have assumed it concerned the Battle of Poltova. On a personal note, a soldier or officer of the army of Charles XII captured by Peter the Great was named Narin. He was sent to work in the mines.
The Congressional ArgumentChairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, JW Thomas (R-CA), is probably the most powerful member of the House in the more traditional conservative mold. If he's a religious nut or racist, he's fooled me. On questions of tactics, he is the man to beat. His statement on Social Security is very revealing. Social Security is "unmaintainable" based on "current financing." Does it strike anyone else as odd that the only culprit is financing? Ranking Member Charles Rangel (D-NY) asks for the one thing that has nothing to do with solvency, private accounts, off the table, so the real issue can be addressed. Excellent.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
My SuggestionSenator Levin is making perfect sense, the small states (Iowa and New Hampshire) at the beginning of the primary season should not be the same every time. When I listen to Elaine Kamarck I feel like she's actually pro-GOP. When I heard Conlin take a cheap jab at Senator Levin I wanted her ejected from the meeting.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Another Linguistic MapI'm really going to have to add Yugoslavia and Sudan to my proof, but, in the meantime, a pretty picture of lingua-political map of the Iberia Penninsula in 1300. I was looking for a good map, for no good reason, of the full extent of the Mongolian conquests (Russia, Iraq, Iran, all of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, China, Korea, Tibet, and more...OK, found one.
Think of Bush Much?I do when I read stuff like this, from a history of "the Great Civil War," occuring in England, 1642-1661
The status of the monarchy had started to decline under the reign of James I. He was known as the "wisest fool in Christendom". James was a firm believer in the "divine right of kings". This was a belief that God had made someone a king and as God could not be wrong, neither could anyone appointed by him to rule a nation. James expected Parliament to do as he wanted; he did not expect it to argue with any of his decisions.I believe Bush believes an imaginary super-being made him President, and that he is never wrong. Why, just today former (centrist) Republican Senator Durenberger said a similar thing.
Stephen Schwartz attempts to rewrite historyHere is Schwartz, hinting at the root cause of the Protestant Reformation:
I believe we make a mistake in thinking that historical and social success is determined by religious success; I believe the opposite is true. To me, Protestantism flourished because it took root in nations living on the North Sea where navigation and commerce were impelled by individual initiative, from which Protestant theology, for various reasons, benefited. Spanish Catholicism fell into decline because it conquered the richest provinces of the New World, and the country choked on all that gold and silver.Schwartz's assertions are ahistorical, and will be proved wrong. Protestantism first took root in Luther's Germany. After Luther died, its center was Geneva, home of Calvin. After the Treaty of Speyer, 1554, the North Sea shipping routes seem to be every bit as organized as Mediterannean shipping. Shipping wasn't "impelled" by individual initiative but by treaty and the desire for profit. By 1561 Protestantism had reached and taken over in the countries where it would eventually rule, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and England. To be sure, decades of fighting would ensue in some of these countries, most notably the Netherlands. And, certainly, in the middle of the 17th century, the Gunpowder Plot and the Execution of King Charles had undeniable inter-Christian tensions. Back in the 16th c., there were constant efforts on the part of the Vatican, using the armies of Spain (formerly the head of the Holy Roman Empire, but after Charles V, simply called the Spanish Monarchy), to quell Lutheran and Calvinist advances. In the next century the Vatican would embrace a Counter-Reformation, whereby Catholicism itself would attempt some modernization. But, although Schwartz claims "Spanish Catholicism choked on her silver," the Spanish Monarchy had barely begun to touch New World silver before 1550. This chart shows that, except for a brief period after the double default of 1557 (Spain and France, after years of Hapsburg-Valois wars, both declared bankruptcy), the purchasing power and volume of Spanish silver increased until 1600, well after Protestantism had reached, and conquered, its eventual homes. In fact, as can be expected, Catholicism lost out because of precisely the kinds of reasons that Luther, Calvin and Zwingli would have noted: the religion had drifted far from Jesus, it had become far more concerned with ritual, hierarchy, grandeur and money than salvation, and it had become tyrannical and oppresive in response to the challenge of the Reformation (e.g. "the Index" of forbidden books, the Spanish and Dutch Inquisitions). Protestantism rose because it rejected cloying Catholic rituals, leveraged the printing press, and, under Calvin, became militant, spread surreptitiously (via books written not in Latin, but languages of the people), and had Geneva as continental headquarters. I came to the realization that Schwartz appears to be applying Marxist economic determinism, which gives economic forms (capitalism,communism,feudalism) they key role in determining outcomes, to religious history, and at the same time changing Marx, asserting that it is the capitalist form which acheives the best outcome. A neo-con, certainly.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Fahrenheit 9/11 BackgrounderSure, Karzai, and at least one other prominent and powerful post-Taleban Afghan leader worked for UNOCAL. Sure, one of the first actions of the Karzai government was to sign the decrees necessary for a Turkemistan-Afghan-Pakistani pipeline, but check this quote out from the article "Turkmenistan and Central Asian Regional Security" by Murad Esenov. Well, no, you don't have to, that's why I am for.
All accords reached between Turkmenistan and Pakistan relied on the use of Afghan territory to promote bilateral cooperation. However, representatives of Afghanistan itself were not parties to these accords. Moreover, on 5 March 1995, the then President of Afghanistan, Burhanutdin Rabbani, speaking on Kabul Radio, sharply criticized the [pipeline] agreements that had been reached between Pakistan and Turkmenistan and the intentions behind them. In particular he described these plans as "attempts by the Pakistani leadership to help the opposition Taliban movement."Don't get me wrong. I just think its funny that the realization of a pro-Taliban plot was what got Karzai his job.
Practical implementation of the Pakistani-Turkmen accords began in the autumn of 1994, when cargo convoys started shuttling between Turkmenistan and Pakistan across the Afghan territory and preparations got under way to set up an international consortium on a gas pipeline construction project. It is noteworthy that the emergence of the Taliban movement on the Afghan military-political scene was directly related to an active phase in this Pakistani-Turkmen cooperation. In the late autumn of 1994 a group of Afghan Mujahideen seized a caravan moving from Pakistan to Turkmenistan. To secure its release, the Pakistani Interior Ministry tapped a small and little-known religious sect, led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, based in the south of Afghanistan. Before long that sect rapidly evolved into the Taliban movement, which subsequently began its triumphant march across Afghan territory, turning around the entire military-political situation in the country.
Know Your Own TroublesLike all True American(TM)(all rights reserved), I consider the world to be mine. There are, however, despite my ownership, some problems. The Caucasus and Central Asia are not insignificant. This is a link to a database of the papers of the academic publication "Central Asia and Caucasus Journal of Political Studies, available free from the Sweden based Center for Social and Political Studies.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Tidbits, post-Iraq WarI'm channeling the right wing
- Twins born! Thank the almighty for Bush's struggle for freedom.
- Bush and Blair announce the 800 year Irish struggle must end
- Littering, long known as a "gateway crime," will soon feel the spread of freedom, as Bush announces that his campaign to liberate the world of "garbage terrorists," and how litterers are already retreating in the face of his successes in the Middle East
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Good News, Ignored by US MediaDrug war successes in Argentina, President Kirchner fires military guys and Airline agents involved in drug trade, puts drug control in hands of civilian law enforcement, taking it away from the military (which was dealing drugs, see beginning of sentence). President Kirchner is a bad, bad man for being succesful. Using law enforcement to enforce law? Why, who knows what he'll do next! Or previously.
Stupid Presidential Rhetoric Tricks"He can run, but he can't hide" -- GW Bush, soon after Sept 11th, on U bin-Laden. "We’re keeping the pressure on him, keeping him in hiding." -- GW Bush, recently, on U bin-Laden. "He can run, but he can't hide" -- RW Reagan on current Libyan President, M Ghadaffi.
New to Me, AnywiseWas doing a little background research on constant war-monger, Michael Ledeen, and found a couple blogs which had interesting bits. First, The Washington Note, which had lots of stuff on Ledeen and Gobrih Next, FUgOp, which had links that I'd never heard between Bush-favorite Judge Silberman (Whitewater, etc), Ghorbanifar, and the original October Surprise. Both seem worthy of some further attention.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Greenspan liesAlan Greenspan unequivocally declared that the system of "pay-as-you-go" Social Security, the system in place for at least the last half-century, can not continue as the demographics change. This fucktard is ignoring a whole host of ways that would allow pay-as-you-go even with the upcoming demographic situation. What a liar, fraud, and partisan hack is Scumfuck Greenspan.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Warmongering Report: IranApparently, the story about Iranian digging is taking place, and this digging was secret. Today, at the Defense Department Briefing, someone asked about the tunnels. I don't know the source of the warmongering, but a report asked a terribly loaded question, and the Briefer and he had a back-and-forth including numerous warmongering tactics. The original source of the story was the IAEA. Let's look at exactly what the IAEA and Iran said happened.
The Agency has continued implementing the measures of the Additional Protocol. Complementary access at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) site on 15 December 2004 revealed underground excavation activities which Iran had failed to report in a timely manner to the Agency as required under Code 3.1. of the Subsidiary Agreements to its Safeguards Agreement (i.e. at the time the decision was taken to authorize or carry out such construction). Through a letter received by the Agency on 13 December 2004, Iran submitted an updated Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for UCF providing preliminary design information for a tunnel that was being constructed at the UCF site. In the DIQ entry related to the purpose and nature of the tunnel, Iran indicated that, "in order to increase capacity, safety and security of nuclear material, a storage is considered and will be constructed". Iran also indicated that the modifications had been initiated in September 2004.In other words, the Iranians reported it, and the IAEA inspected it.