Monday, May 29, 2006

Understanding Modern Terrorism and History
Another Installment of my Theory on Linguistics and Conflict

     Earlier I said how the spread of protestantism nearly perfectly matches the extent of Indoeuropean->Germanic lands.  I have been lazy and not even bothered to show how the Orthodox Church matches Indoeuropean->Slavic regions (UPDATE 20060618: Ack! The Schism of 1054 was between Latin and Greek speaking peoples, not Latin and Slavic).  I offer another snippet of evidence about religion, religion being spread by language, before proceeding to talk about the position of English.

     W.K. Jordan's Edward VI: The Young King The Protectorship of the Duke of Somerset is 500 pages, Volume I of II about the first half of a reign of Henry VIII's heir who was a kid for the years(1547-1553) he was in power.  Henry VIII and the English Church (mostly) supported his divorce, and the result a complete divorce of the Church of England and Rome.  Henry VIII had gone further than that, in his thinking.  It is apparent he saw a Protestant future for England.   Most all of Edward's VI's tutors were Protestants, meaning it would have been almost impossible for Edward VI to grow up Catholic.  In reality, because of Edward VI's short reign, it was more important that the adults picked by Henry VIII, to rule while Edward VI was young, was dominated by Protestants. 

     This following quote shows clearly that the affinity of the English and German languages made all this possible.  In 1548, the first full year of the reign of the young King...

Intimately connected with this assault [on Catholic traditions like the mass], too, was the almost feverish translation into English and the publication of the principal works of all the leading continental reformers: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Bullinger and Osiander -- to name only the most influential.  By the close of the year the whole corpus of reformed thought was fully available to English [language] readers, not to mention such more popular and polemical works[.]

     The last matter for this post, however is the role of the English language in history.  Barring an exploration of the reasons why Germanic and Latin(Romance) languages have come to dominate the globe at this time, it becomes almost intuitively obvious that English, being a mix, a reunion, of these two branches, gives it a unique position.  It has the greatest access to both worlds. 

     In the long run, though, the Chinese language has one advantage, in that the script has not changed in nearly 2,000 years.  Barring Mao's meddling (and that impact I am in no position to ponder) once a person can read, they can read material close to 2,000 years old.  English, though, has mysterious spellings only 600 years ago (Chancery English).  850 years ago and it is a mystery.  Luckily for English speakers, translations are possible, and the wisdom of the ancient texts is often about interhuman relations in a particular, pre-industrial, pre-electronic, pre-computer context.

Please Be Honest

     One value of writing is putting things down succinctly.  Have you ever seen a briefer overview of factions within the Republican Party?  From the age when people who watch the Daily Show are more informed than those who watch America's #1 rated cable "news" show, here is a presentation of the The Ironic Times.

Factions in the Republican Party
Old Money Conservatives Establish permanent plutocracy
Christian Right Bring Jesus into schools, government, dating
Big Corporate Interests Make tax cheating more convenient
Homophobes Make nation safe for hate crimes
Xenophobes Construct giant wall around entire country, give border guards shoot-to-kill orders
Prairie Independents Destroy all regulatory agencies, rape environment
War Hawks Make world into freedom-loving mini-Americas through unrestrained use of military power
Traditionalists Restore routine corruption, bribery, influence peddling to former place of honor

Friday, May 26, 2006

Meeting the Thought Processes

     General Hayden is now head of CIA.  As a general rule, he is probably a law-abiding person.  That is, of course, if you agree with him on what the law says.

     Democratic Presidential nominee candidate, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, popular blogger and 1st Amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald, along with many others, want to say "The NSA is violating FISA."  But has the NSA violated FISA?  FISA can't supersede the Constitution, and the thought processes of General Hayden (and who knows how many others, but certainly including former Attorney General John Ashcroft) have crafted a revolutionary new interpretation of the 4th Amendment.  Something in me wishes more people cared about that.

     General Hayden first hinted at his "new Fourth Amendment" in response to questions from Jonathon Landay, a reporter.  Most people couldn't get past the idea that Hayden didn't seem to know about "probable cause."  What slipped by most people was his defense.  He was saying probable cause does not matter to NSA, warrants don't matter to NSA as long as someone (who? good question!) says the search is "reasonable."  I include this quote only in the name of completeness, feel free to skip to the meat of the matter beneath it.

      Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --
      No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.
      But the --
      That's what it says.
      But the measure is probable cause, I believe.
      The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.
      But does it not say probable --
      No. The amendment says --
      The court standard, the legal standard --
      -- unreasonable search and seizure.
      The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause." And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?
      Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

     Just so we are all clear, the text of the 4th Amendment reads as follows

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

     Hayden laid his cards almost on the table, but I'm not sure Landay heard him.  Hayden is not saying that the NSA now uses a "reasonably believe" standard to get a warrant to replace "probable cause," it is not getting warrants if it believes, in its own(!?!) judgement, that the search is reasonable

     The whole point of warrants is that a government official can't simply do what they want when it comes to coming onto your property and taking your things.  They must make a case before a Judge if they want to enter your castle or take your crown, yet Hayden is suggesting there is no review by any other branch of government when the NSA does a reasonable search

     Although I am not a scholar of Constitutional history, my review of Supreme Court cases and other sources illustrates plainly that this is an entirely novel way to look at the Fourth Amendment.  Hayden is reading it as if there is a period after the word "seizures" and the rest is only applicable if the Official doesn't think it is reasonable By the way, my favorite Supreme Court case on the Fourth Amendment is still Boyd v US (1886) because of its eloquence and its expansive view of the 4th Amendment.

     Doubt me about this "novel" interpretation of the Fourth Amendment?  I hope you do.  But Michael Hayden makes it crystal clear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his confirmation hearing to become Director of Central Intelligence. To the transcript.

      Do you believe the Fourth Amendment contains a probable cause standard?
      It clearly contains a probable clause standard for warrants to conduct searches. There's the broader phraseology. And I've actually talked to some of my relatives who are in law school at the moment about the construction of the amendment, which talks in a broad sense about reasonableness, and then, after the comma, talks about the probable cause standards for warrants.
      The approach we've taken at NSA is certainly not discounting at all, ma'am, the probable cause standard and need for probable cause for a warrant. But the standard that is most applicable to the operations of NSA is the standard of reasonableness -- you know, is this reasonable?
      And I can elaborate a little bit more in closed session, but for example -- for example, if we have a technology that protects American privacy up to point X in the conduct of our normal foreign intelligence mission, it is reasonable, and therefore we are compelled, to use that technology.
      When technology changes and we can actually protect privacy even more so with the new technology, "reasonable" just changed and we must go to the better technology for the protection of privacy. It's that reasonableness debate that informs our judgment.
      Let me ask you: that "reasonable" standard is your standard. It's not necessarily the law because the Fourth Amendment very specifically states, in Judiciary, we had former FISA judges come before us. They said, in effect, in their court, the probable cause standard was really a reasonable suspicion standard.
      Now you're creating a different standard which is just, as I understand it, just "reasonableness."
      No, ma'am. I don't mean to do that. And Lord knows, I don't want to get deeply into this because, I mean, there are serious questions of law with people far more expert than I.
      To give an example, purely illustrative and hypothetical, NSA, in the conduct of its foreign intelligence work, in the conduct of its foreign intelligence work, intercepts a communication from a known terrorist, let's say, in the Middle East. And the other end of that communication is in the United States.
      One end of that communication involves a protected person. Everything NSA is doing is legal up to that point. It is targeting the foreign end. It has a legitimate reason for targeting it and so on.
      But now, suddenly, we have bumped into the privacy rights of a protected person. Now, no warrant is involved. We don't go to a court.
      Through procedures that have been approved by this committee, we must apply a standard to protecting the privacy of that individual.
      And so there we -- we've touched the privacy of a protected person. But there are clear regulations held up to the reasonable standard of the Fourth Amendment, but not the warrant requirement in the amendment, ma'am.
      Well, I'd like to debate that with you this afternoon, if I might.

     By the way, Senator Feinstein does not take up General Hayden on that offer.  It sounds like Senator Feinstein simply thinks Hayden means that he is using a different standard before a court.  Hayden obfuscates by talking about technology, but I think the thrust of his argument is clear, and his thought processes are plain and represent the theories of a powermad child.

     I want to be fair here, when talking about officials who think they can simply re-interpret the Constitution to suit their needs.  I believe if a President were to forthrightly state "I believe a law or practice of the Government is proceeding in error, and from now on my administration will behave thusly" they are on reasonable grounds.  After all, nothing stops Congress and a President from making a law that violates the Constitution, or even other laws.  The moment a President does this, Congress and the Courts can begin taking steps if they disagree.  If the administration is then found to be wrong, in a court of law, they can be subject to the penalties set forth for those who violate the law in question.  The only other way to look at the Constitution is to say that the President must sue, in the Supreme Court, to change the law before his administration acts differently.  I'm not confident that that is explicitly stated which way it has to be in the the Constitution or any laws, but I'd be interested to find out.  In any event, the administration re-intepreting the laws in secret is tyrannical.

     But what this adminstration has done is to act in secret, and to decide for itself whether it needs to seek a warrant, because it decides for itself whether or not the search was reasonable.

     This is a clear violation of 220+ years of precedent.  And that's their thought process, laid out.  Similar to the FBI National Security Letters, a search order that an FBI officer can just say they want, without any warrant required, and a complete gag order is in place for those searched (unlike the normal warrant).  According to the Washington Post, 30,000 a year are used by the FBI.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Hampshire Passes Law to Encourage Killings Its Kids

     At least, the ones who are molested.  After all, the penalty for molesting a kid, set by the bill, is a mandatory 25 years.

     There is, in fact, no mandatory minimum for second degree murder in New Hampshire, although the maximum penalty is life in prison.  New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939, but the death penalty can be applied to, for example, murder during a rape, but that is not the same as child molestation, so probably not applicable here.

     So, if you've fondled a kid, the message Bill O'Reilly wants to send you is to just kill the kid. 

     O'Reilly?  Yup, after Florida passed its law, O'Reilly jumped on the "let's all hate child molestors" bandwagon and used his platform to bully New Hampshire's Governor and most conservative Newspaper into passing this law.  Fuck the Florida Legislature, which has made the theft of 1 dollar from someone over 65 a more serious felony than firing a missile into a building.  Bill O'Reilly should be sent packing for, yet again, being an idiot.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


     Did Adolph Hitler use airplanes and bombs to kill the Resistance? 

     If he did, does that make it OK when we do it in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Could this be part of our PR problem?  If Hitler didn't even do it, how does that make us look?

     I'm all for using planes against planes, and armored vehicles, and maybe even against regular vehicles.  Here in the United States we generally only use helicopters, and then only to monitor vehicles, or people running on the ground. 

     At least until "full sovereignity" (minus a few things) was handed over to the Iraqis, it is hard to argue that we should have treated them any differently than the US military might treat a US citizen in this country. 

     No, I never yet heard of a member of the US Armed Forces laying down their life to save an Iraqi civilian, not in the way that one might expect soldiers, sailors, airpeople and marines to do for each other.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Today's Blog Post: Bi-Republicans

     So, today I was cruising around the blogs, not even sure I checked Google News first, and I had a little epiphany.  We all know many politicians, but especially Republicans, are shameless.  If you follow the Daily Howler might have read his "Socrates Speaks" sidesite, which descibes how some mid-1990s shameless Republican said his proposed changes to the Medicare plan were not "cuts."

     Years later, some Democrats wanted to tone down Bush's proposed Billionaire Bingo tax cuts of 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.  They didn't ask for tax hikes, mostly, just to slow the tax cuts proposed by His Monchichiness, the President.  At this time, Republicans accused the lowly Democrats of proposing tax hikes, even though no such thing had seriously been proposed.  Gore wanted smaller tax cuts than Bush, and Republicans would call Gore's tax cut plan a tax "hike."  Amazing, aren't they?

     Did it work?  Ya betcha.  Newt's medicare plan was passed and all of the Democratic efforts to slow the tax cuts for the Waltons and the 18 Families were blocked.  And if it worked that well last time, of course, the braindead Republicans are going to try it again!  Are you going to let them get away with it?  Think about blogging the issue.

     As anyone with eyes can plainly see, from Tony Snow as the White House Press Spokesliar to the new House Majority Leader, John Boehner, Republican Stinkies are trumpeting the undeniable fact that Federal Tax Revenue is "soaring."

     Thanks to the blogger Peatey I found this graphic, originally made by Kash at Angry Bear, which shows all tax revenue except Social Security taxes.
A graph of federal revenue ex social security taxes shows a massive drop since Bush took office.

     Yet, just days ago, Republican Speaker of the House JD Hastert said that no one earning under 40,000 with a family pays taxes.  Republicans consistently, on the House Floor and on the News Shows keep saying that poorer people don't pay taxes, but the word they keep leaving out of that sentence, the critical word, the only word that would make the sentence true, is "income."  Sure, the poorer people don't pay much, if anything, in income taxes, but they pay lots and lots in payroll taxes.  Got the idea yet?

     The Republicans are saying their tax cuts are helping revenues, but income taxes collection is way down.  It's only payroll tax revenue which has increased. 

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Not so serious post

     Should I post a couple jokes?  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe the story about human and chimpanzee evolution is still topical so you can go look at that link for the very, very not so serious rundown.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Today's Two Minute Hate! Courtesy of the US State Department

Hustlers at the State Department
leveraged false reports
of religious identity markers on clothing
(seemingly first reported by neo-Conner Amir Taheri)
to call Iran "despicable." 

Undoubtedly, per usual
reports of the Iranians
forcing Jews to wear a stripe of yellow, Christians red, Zoroastrians blue,
will be far more widespread
than the truth of the matter
or the identity of the scum that fabricated it
or is denied by the sole Jewish member of the Iranian parliament. 

If the State Department
doesn't want to make a comment
about things which are as plain as the nose on your face,
they'll pretend they never heard
   about anyone asking if China should join the G-8 [1]
while he takes time to damn Iran
for a report from Canada
linked to Taheri
which had already been questioned.

     "History Mike" has some more of the details, but not many.

     And that's today's two minute hate, comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler.

     UPDATE: The main National Post story refuting this is here, but it took me at least a minute to load. 

[1] Which the State Department Spokesweasel actually did today, claiming he'd never heard of anyone asking about China joining the G-8 today, so he had no comment, but was quick to describe Iran as despicable if this story were true.
Reuter's Gets Some Credit

     In an article entitled "Iran now enriching home processed uranium: source" about uranium enrichment in Iran Reuter's prints

The IAEA has found no hard proof of any project to make atomic bombs but says that, after more than three years of probing, it still cannot confirm that Iran's intentions are entirely peaceful.

     Too bad they don't do the same thing when one hears the latest warmongering news, and too bad this admission appears so far down the article.

     Let the Iran warmongers know, please, like former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards and House International Relations Cmte. Ranking Member Tom Lantos(D-CA).

Best Management Practices: The San Ysidro Example

     You are a border control official, and you've gotten a tip on a car.  You pull the car over, and as you approach it on foot, the car starts driving and turns back into traffic, you

  • a) Fire at the driver, shooting until the car stops
  • b) Fire at the wheels, shooting until the car stops
  • c) Fire in the air, at least once, alerting the driver that they had better stop.

     If you answered A, you were probably trained by the US Border Patrol!

     Next question.  If you have preceded to shoot to death a person driving, you should

  • a) Keep hundreds of people, anywhere nearby, in their cars for hours, near the bodies
  • b) Let everyone out of the area, using breakdown lanes and other contrivances
  • c) Keep the traffic across the border moving as if nothing had happened.

     If you've selected A again, then you are TOP COP material!  America is a country where, in fact, it is a CRIME PUNISHABLE BY INSTANTANEOUSLY METED OUT LETHAL FORCE to pull away from a cop.

     What was the problem here, anyway?  The tip was that someone had picked up illegal entrants into the United States and was bringing them to Mexico.  Don't we want people to bring illegal entrants out of the country?  I'm not saying we should subsidize anyone who wants to drive an illegal to Mexico... but they can use the carpool lane.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Saddam Hussein Had Millions of Acres of Land

     His top flunkies, too, had lots and lots of stuff.  Who has it now? 

     One of the reasons the new Iraq will fail as a Republic is that it was beyond mental power of ideologues like Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney to see that some amount of "land reform" after a dictatorship is not only a good thing, but necessary.

     I suspect it was all given to the government, which will help the next government institute a tyranny, perhaps Chalabi dreamed of living in the Palaces where the US soldiers live today, and handing out 10,000 acres here, a square mile there, to each and all of those who most pleased him.

     From Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws, a modestly not-short section called In What Manner the Laws Establish Equality in a Democracy, which includes a general consideration of land reform, dowries, and equalization.  The Republic established in Iraq was to be Aristocratic, and not Democracy, but the principle would simply similar.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Neo-Con Backgrounder

     Eleana Benador is the booking agent for all the neo-cons.  If you don't see a couple on her list, like Khidir Hamza and Frank Gaffney, they were there before. 

     If there is one person on Earth who might be construed as the ultimate nexus of the neo-con framework, it is this one. 

     Kazakhstan, as we all know, is an repressive and most likely murderous.  They are friends of Big Oil. 

     I can not, highly enough, recommend that you read this fantasyland peice, written by Eleana Benador, on how wonderful Kazakhstan is, on how wonderful the former Soviet Commissars are, on how wonderful it is that their children will rule after them. 

     God Save the Monarchy!

"Good" News

     A couple years ago, the greedy, self-righteous Army of Idiots who staff the White House led a coup against the elected leader of Haiti.

     They accused Aristide of not maintaining security, they prevented even defensive equipment from being imported for Haitian police, the Bush administration sent the military in, the military engaged in the kidnapping of a foreign leader, much like it was done in Venezuela.  The Bush administration are certainly international criminals, and the grossest violators of their oft-trumpeted concept of "sovereignity."

     The Bush administration put Killers, Drug-Dealers and Evangelical Preachers in charge of Haiti after Aristide left for Africa.  They were never elected to anything, and they consistently pushed back all elections.  Greedy, power-mad hacks at the State Department and in the White House, these shameless humans, they would criticize fair elections in Palestine and Lebanon that elect Islamists, but they never made a peep about the lack of elections in Haiti.

     Aristide's ally, Rene Preval, won the first elections that Haiti had.  He has taken office today.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

NY Times Beating War Drums, Again

UPDATE 1: Edited for clarity

     This article, this peice of craptastic jingoism from the NY Times, it bends over backwards to help the Bush administration, the neo-cons, many Democrats, Arab-haters and Christian Zionists start a war with Iran.

     It starts out by quickly mentioning the earlier traces of HEU, traces found on some equipment in Iran, traces which were explained away years ago.  The NY times plays its readers for fools, because the NY Times never mentions that.  The Times leaves in the minds of its "readers" that this is the second time a contaminated swab has been found. 

     A second, less severe point is that the article relies entirely on unnamed sources.  Isn't that part of what people point out as the problem with journalism today?  Isn't journalism that might cause America to start another war important journalism, say, more important than, the precise name of a particular military medal.  It should be noted that one of the unnamed sources might be John Bolton.

     This article's author, this shameless assholeic warmonger, does stupid, nearly pointless things to keep Iran in the sights.  For example, uranium for most power plants is enriched, enriched between 3 and 5 percent.  The NY Times idiot says 3 and 4 percent.  What if you read this article, and then you later learn that Iran enriching to 5 percent, 5 percent, you've been taught is outside nuclear power reactors range.

     Other articles, published this same morning, mention two critical things that this flatulent peice of know-nothing-ism does not bother to say.  Namely a) Iran denies any of this, and b) research has already been done which indicates this uranium is not weapons grade.  We all bloody well know by know that SOMEONE forged those uranium from Niger documents, and CURVEBALL lied about other stuff, and SEVERAL PEOPLE lied about underground WMD labs in Iraq.  People will lie to kill other people!

     There is, I suppose, the off chance that this material was not available to the NY Times before publication, but I doubt it sincerely.  If it was not, the NY Times has a positive obligation to put corrections at the end of the web page link this post started with.  War might be the alternative.

Friday, May 12, 2006

'Whatever It Is I'm Against It" (WIIIAI) is right

     This is a must read article on Iraq.  From the Times of London, the city's conservative (non-Murdoch) paper.

Two Views

     In this corner, we have Reuters, a nationwide news service...

California's powerful teachers union marked a major political victory on Thursday after aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would propose a $5.7 billion boost in school spending when he presents his revised state budget plan on Friday.

     And in this corner, we have AZ Central...

With his deal this week to repay schools billions of dollars he had borrowed to balance the state budget in recent years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has undercut the main argument that California's powerful education unions have made for driving him out of office.

     Reuter's Jim Christie, bow before your master Mr Schwarzenegger.  Perhaps someday you can touch him.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Interview with 20 year Australian Intelligence Operative

     Says that Bush, Blair, Howard weren't all that, vis-a-vis Iraq and WMD.  Nasty allegations, too.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantionople
2004 Penguin Book by Jonathon Phillips
Book Report and Review

     It was a dark and bloody time.  The High Middle Ages.  A century of crusading to the Levant, the eastern Mediterannean, had not resulted in a secure foothold on Jerusalem.  In 1187 it fell to Saladin.

     Pope Innocent III was a Pope who liked to send knights out on crusades.  Against heretics in France, against Muslims in Spain, against the Ottomans, and, naturally, for "the Holy Land" and relics.  Relics, like the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns, the Burial Shroud, the head of John the Baptist (and many others) make a surprisingly large appearance in this work.  Knights loved to carry parts of the True Cross into battle ahead of them.

     Knights liked to beat the shit out of people, and kill them.  They liked it so much that knights would come quite close to killing each other in huge tournaments, where 100s of knights of one faction would fight with 100s of knights of another, a huge rumble.  It was a good training ground for warriors, but the not particularly good for morals. Only one man in this story is noted to have stayed true to his wife, and for that he was highly commended.

     When the knights got Papal permission, they could go about killing and taking lands _morally_, and all was good.  When Jerusalem fell, many Knights decided to take up Innocent's crusade, and reconquer Jerusalem. 

     So, what do you need?  Lots of knights and knight leaders.  Too bad the #1 leader died before they set sail.  What else?  To get there, one has to admit, is much faster by boat.  The French, most of the party, didn't like sailing, but it would cut months off the trip.  The boats were really gross.  Horses were slung, so they wouldn't trip and break their legs, 30 to a boat. 

     Venice was the trading center of the European world, and the only place that could produce the required ships.  Venice basically stopped all other trading activities and worked on building these boats for a year.  For free?  Definitely not. 

     When the knights arrived to go, there was head count and they seemed about 1/3 of the strength they were hoping for.  This would mean that each knight would owe about three times as much to the Venetians for the overall fee.  The fee couldn't be met.

     The 90 year old, blind Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo, travelled with the Crusaders and said, you know what, if we attack the city of Zara (modern day Bosnia) we can get lots of cash, and then you won't owe me so much.  Many of the knights were not happy.  Zara was a Christian city, and the King there happened to be a crusader (not on crusade).  In truth, Dandolo knew that Ermico of Hungary was faking it.  He had only become a crusader to get the Pope's backing in his war with his brother.

     Zara was sacked.  Yet still the Venetians debts were not fully paid.

     I am going to have to briefly explain Byzantine politics here, but it is far simpler than it sounds.  The Byzantines had hindered the third crusade, and been working with the Ottomans.  Anyway, since that time, there had been a coup.  Alexius IV desposed the old ruler, Alexius III, who left a son, Alexius V, who eventually found the crusaders.

     Alexius V showed up at the crusader camp, having earlier been rebuffed by the Pope, saying "Help me take my rightful crown and I'll

  • give you more money than you need
  • I'll sent 1000s of people to join your crusade
  • I'll set up hundreds of Byzantine knights in the Holy Land to protect it from then on
  • I'll bring the Greek Orthodox Church back under the authority of the Papacy (split since 937?)
.  Answering the needs of cash, manpower, long term security for the Levant, and religious reunion, many knights were convinced and decided to install Alexius V on the Byzantine Throne.  Some knights left, though.

     They sail some more, sack another Chrisitan city for food, and when they get to Constantinople they decide to sail Alexius V up and down past the walls, to get a sense of the mood.  There did not appear a cheering throng to greet them.  There had been some hope he'd simply be swept back into power without a fight.

     A couple fierce battles and the Venetian ships were masters of the waters and the crusaders made camp across a small strait.   Alexius IV had not made serious preparations, his soldiers were very often to be found running away from battle.  At one point he banned attacking the Crusaders. 

     The Byzantine nobles gave up fairly quickly, having not won a battle, and freed Alexius III, and crowned him and his son co-Emperors. 

     But Alexius V didn't have the required money in the treasury to pay the crusaders, so he started melting down many of the great treasures of Constantinople to pay them, which made those who hated the Westerners even more furious.  It got as bad as some could take, and a Murtuphlus killed Alexius III, became Emperor, and began to resist the crusaders.

     Hundreds of acres of Constantinople were burnt to the ground, and the crusaders were succesful, and conquered Constantinople.  This time they put one of their own on the Throne, and Emperor Baldwin of Flanders began what is sometimes called the Latin Empire, which lasted for about 60 years.  The relics were carried away to the Churches of western Europe.  The in-fighting began almost immediately between top crusaders, and between those knights who seemed to want to sack Constantinople rather than join the big pile.  The knights ended up being paid very, very little, less than was asked at them in Venice, when they agreed to set sail for Jerusalem.

     It would be impossible not to notice parallels between Alexius V and Ahmad Chalabi.  The book was too long, and sometimes someone would be introduced, 80-90% of the way through the book, as a leading knight.  Where had they been the whole time?  There was a lot of battle detail, some of which was interesting, and there were some interesting details about the High Middle Ages (the age when the Latin Church ruled the Western World, and everyone slept around and killed each other).  I had already become partially familiar with the scope of crusading efforts, how Holy War was a non-stop affair for medieval Popes, and this was a lot of detail about one important crusade.

     Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Redelivered was about the first crusade, and was, for centuries, considered one of the, or the greatest Italian epic poem, according to the linked web page.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cross Border Raids Turned Into Pretext for War on Iran

     What actually happened?  According to three sources, probably based on the reports of Iraqi villagers near Erbil, Turkish Special Forces raided Iraq, chasing after the PKK.  The PKK is a secessionist/terrorist group in SE Turkey.  Turkey was America's #1 arms client during the 1990s, and the PKK was their #1 target.

     According to the PKK's press outfit, Firat, and the Iraqi government, it was Iranian forces which invaded Iraq.  Other people say it was a combination of Turkish and Iranian efforts.

     Zaman Online quotes a PUK official

"Iranian bombardment was severe last night; it continued, easing by the morning. Hundreds of Kurds had to escape to safer regions. I think the Iranian Army conducted this operation in coordination with Turkey," told Iraqi Kurdistan Patriotic Union (PUK) official Arif Rusdi to AFP Agency. A school and a car were hit during the bombing, he added.

Upon claims that the Turkish Special Forces were conducting a cross-border “hot pursuit,” the Iraqi government delivered a note to Ankara the other day asserting that Iranian Forces trespassed five kilometers within their borders and bombed PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) targets in the Erbil and Hajj Umman regions.

The statement released by the Iraq Ministry of Defense reads that 180 heavy shells fell on Northern Iraq. Iranian government Spokesman Gulam Hussain Alham did not confirm the allegation during his statement yesterday.

"We do not confirm any news that suggests Iranian Forces' trespassed into any neighboring countries, let alone Iraq," said the spokesman to al-Jazeera.

     Meanwhile, the hitherto unknown to me Journal of Turkish Weekly writes

Reports have been confirmed that it was actions taken by Turkish troops this past Saturday which were the spark for specific complaints from Baghdad about increased Turkish military presence and action along the Northern Iraqi border.

According to these reports, Turkish armed forces, using infra-red cameras, spotted PKK terrorists crossing the border near Cukurca town, after which a special force team of around 100 soldiers proceeded to cross the border into Iraqi territory. The go-ahead to send in the special forces team was reportedly given from Ankara over the weekend. Recent meetings between Turkish and US officials have indicated that the US has given the nod to Turkish action on this front.

     The Turkish Army declares that it has the right to invade, but denies it has done it. From the Middle East Times

     Turkey is claiming the US approached it to ask for use of its bases in Iran.  This is the Turkish Foreign Minister.  Turkey said no.  The Murdoch owned Jerusalem Post is reporting the same.

     Lots of places are alleging Turkey is putting 200,000 troops on the Iraq border, but maybe they had nearly that many already.

     A Russian news website, Regnum.Ru, mentions that this cross border raid, if it was Turkish troops, Turkish+Iranian, or Iranian, happened while Condoleeza Rice was in Turkey, and therefore represented US sanction.

Laziness or Deception, Hardly Matters

     Does it matter if your press corps is simply incompetent, or actually out to acheive certain ends?  It hardly even matters.

     The new big deception is to refer to Iran as a member of the "Nuclear Club."  For the last fifty years, the term nuclear club has only referred to those with nuclear weapons. 

     It's amazingly easy to teach people that Iran has nuclear bombs if you tell them they are in the half-century old club of those who do.  A club whose sole requirement for membership is having nuclear bombs.

     Who are these warmongers?  Where do they get off?  They are Criminals Against Humanity.  I don't care if Ahmadinejad actually _said_ "nuclear club" (which, as he speaks in Farsi, seems doubtful).  The words have meaning in America, and have for a half a century.

     This week it was the abyssmal Trevor Royle at the Sunday Herald.

The Interpretation Of
The Interpretation Of Dreams

Sigmund Freud was
a Jewish intellectual,
raised in Vienna, in Habsburg Austria-Hungary,
who studied medicine.

He talked with women,
lying on a couch,
while he snorted a lot of cocaine.

Is it any wonder he thought about sex so much?

Monday, May 01, 2006


     Please keep your priorities straight.  Even by the largest estimates, those of the UN, far fewer citizens have died in Iraq than in Sudan.  In Iraq, we are responsible, in Sudan, others are.  We must first stop our killing before we can proceed to not seem like murderous hypocrites by stopping the Sudanese government.

     Of far lesser concern is that the Darfurians want to secede, and the Bashir government wants to maintain Sudanese unity.  In every friendly government, like Iraq, America demands territorial integrity.  What is going on is not what it seems.  The Christian Right is hammering for this war for their own religious purposes.  The oil companies wouldn't mind this war.  The defense contractors love war.  The military is pretty busy right now.  The neo-cons wouldn't mind this war at all.

I'm Ashen

     Even Senator Russ Feingold is going down the Iran=Threat road.  In a cheap attempt to take a jab at the Bush administration, he says Iran was a bigger threat than Iraq, for delivering WMD to terrorists, so, I'm ashen.

     In a positive move, Feingold brings up that the US apparently signed a ceasefire with a terrorist organization, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the MEK.  The MEK is/was an Iraqi based anti-Iranian terrorist group which had assassinated and bombed Iranian rulers and civilians.  Saddam Hussein backed the MEK.  John Ashcroft and Joe Biden backed the MEK. 

     Richard Armitage says that the only reason we signed the ceasefire was based on the immediate needs of a commander on the ground.  Talk about bullshit.  We have since reversed the ceasefire.  Plenty of time for the DIA assets to get out of dodge.

Can Richard Armitage be Trusted?

     Definitely not on Iran. 

     Senator Nelson (an ignoramus on foreign issues) of Florida, in a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked (widely respected) Richard Armitage about Iran and the IAEA.

     Armitage quickly brought up the traces of highly enriched uranium.  This is incredibly old news.  Not only that, in the most recent IAEA report, the IAEA has persisted in saying that the Iranian story of events is true, and that the contamination is foreign.

     I blogged about this information being refuted over 15 months ago.

     Richard Armitage Deserves to be Jailed