Saturday, September 30, 2006

Are Iraqi Kurdistan's Days Numbered?

An Israeli magazine with a good reputation reports that Iran and Turkey are preparing for a joint invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey and Iran both have active guerrilla forces fighting in their countries that are using Iraq as safe havens (the PKK and PJAK respectively, the photo is of a PKK fighter). Both countries have warned the Iraqi Kurds to stop supporting them.

I have felt that neither country could long tolerate an independent Kurdish state on their borders and a joint invasion presents a conundrum for the United States. US ground forces are in no fit shape to repel an invasion, although our Air Force would reek havoc. With Iraqi insurgents attacking our back, the United States just might lose a war against both Turkey and Iran. The US has labeled both the PKK and PJAK as terrorist organizations. Would we fight to defend terrorists? While Bush is jonesing for a war with Iran, Turkey is our ally and a member of NATO.

It is a sign of how weak the United States has become diplomatically that our biggest enemy and our only real Muslim friends may have formed an alliance. 'May' is the operative word. I don't know how much I believe this report. Turkey wants to join the European Union and attacking Iraq will kill those plans for the next several decades. But Turkey may believe they face the prospect of being dismembered themselves unless they act first to dismember Iraq. The Israeli magazine reports that Turkey is outraged by a map published in an American military magazine that gives large parts of Turkey to a new Kurdistan state (see Ugly American Award Winner). Even the possibility of this war proves the old saying....
Things are never so bad they can't be made worse. ~ Humphrey Bogart, African Queen

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Iraq's Police Academy Is Full of Shit - Literally

Feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. ~ Washington Post, 9/27/2006
There is nothing more basic for a civilized society than disposing of human waste. Arab societies especially consider such cleanliness a moral imperative. That the brand new, American built, $75 million Baghdad Police Academy is a festering cesspool that is falling apart less than two years after construction began goes beyond the corruption that caused it to be a hearts-and-minds disaster.

Building a competent, professional police force is supposed to be priority of the American occupation. War supporters have trumpeted this academy as proof of progress. Yet, this disgusting facility can only demoralize recruits even while they are being trained. Any competent commander would have blown up the buildings (apparently insurgents have tried) reasoning that sleeping in tents is better than sleeping in shit. But, competent commander and Americans in Iraq is an oxymoron.
Things are no better outside the walls of the police academy. This photo of raw sewage flooding an Iraq street was taken by award winning photographer Kenneth O'Halloran.

The Baghdad Police Academy contractor was Parsons Corp. There is some good news from the Iraq police force - no luck with those insurgents but they did catch a pot farmer.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Truth, as Edited by Karl Rove

The reason the Administration is redacting everything except a few paragraphs of the National Intelligence Estimate is to deprive the people of the right to know what their government is doing. This is an absolute right in our country, Iraq War not withstanding, for the people to know the truth. This democracy cannot survive when the people wonder if their leaders are full of crap.

Secrecy breeds dis
honesty. If you can't believe in you government on matters of life, death, and war, what good is that government? President Bush must instruct his staff to divulGe the cOmplete report without Delay.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

That Thing Called 'Morale'

Morale is the greatest single factor in successful wars. ~ Dwight Eisenhower
I've never served in the Armed Forces so I can't know for certain what promotes good morale among the troops. However, I imagine getting jerked around by your commanders is bad. The troops were told they would serve 12 months in Iraq. Now, they are being told - We lied to you. You're staying a few extra months. Have fun getting your ass shot at. Strike me this is a good way to get your commanding officers fragged.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

History of Terrorism Part 5 -
One Man's Terrorist Is Another's Freedom Fighter

It is one of the dirty little secrets of history - whether you are a terrorist or a freedom fighter often depends solely upon your point of view.

ETA - Basque Separatists

Basques believe their existence as a separate race can be traced to 10,000 BCE. The Basque language is one of the oldest extant tongues. It has no roots in Spanish or Latin. Scholars date it to Neolithic times. Basques live in a region along the Pyrenees Mountains including four provinces in Spain and three in France. There has not been a separate Basque country for nearly 500 years.

As a terror organization, ETA (Basque Fatherland and Liberty) dates to 1959. They are agitating for a free Basque state through bombings, kidnappings, and assassination. Since the fall of fascism in Spain, Basques have had a level of autonomy that has softened but not extinguished the separatist movement.

PKK - Kurdistan
Another ancient culture that dates back to 6,000 BCE. Kurdish independence has been an infrequent and haphazard affair for thousands of years. Occasionally, a Kurdish principality would form and survive for a few decades before it was invaded and conquered. The Kurds have never assimilated with the Turkish, Arab, or Persian cultures that dominate them.

The PKK, Kurdish Worker's Party, was in part a Russian, cold war creation to disrupt Turkey. It's goal was, and is, to create a soverign Kurdistan from parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Their tactics include roadside bombs and attacking tourists visiting Turkey.

The creation of an autonomous Kurdistan in post-Saddam Iraq has complicated regional politics. The PKK has safe haven with Iraqi Kurds. The US military considers the Kurdish Peshmerga elements to be the Iraq Army's only effective fighting force. So, while the United States supports its ally Turkey in their struggle against Kurdish terrorists, we also support Kurdish freedom fighters as our strongest allies within Iraq. Although most Kurds are Sunni Moslims, in the spirit of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Israel is an active supporter of Kurdish separatists. Both Turkey and Iran have attacked United States allies in Iraq with no American response. For all things Kurdish, visit the Kurdistan Shop.

French Resistance
Following the German victory over France in World War Two, French "dead-enders" organized into terror cells. They opposed German efforts to help the French people with food depots and soup kitchens. Their crimes included truck bombs, poisoning the food supplies of German soldiers, blowing up bridges, derailing trains, assassinating Germans and killing innocent French citizens accused of collaboration.

See the difference. To Germans the Resistance were terrorists; to us they were heroes deserving plastic action figure dolls. The photo is of matchbooks with instructions on how to derail trains. This article is a socialist comparison of French and Iraqi resistance tactics.

Irgun - The First Palestinian Terrorists
The photo at right is of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem after the 1946 bombing by the Irgun designed to kill British civilian and military personnel. Formed in 1931, the Irgun disliked the socialist tendencies and peaceful nature of mainstream Zionists. They believed that if Arabs killed Jews then Jews should kill Arabs in greater numbers. They felt that only bloody retaliation would stop the Arab pogroms.

The events at Deir Yassin in 1948 are the perfect example of how the difference between terrorist and freedom fighter is who is telling the story. From the Arab point-of-view, Deir Yassin was a massacre where more than one hundred women, children, and elderly were butchered by the Irgun and Stern Gang. The Israeli point-of-view is that it was a military action to protect the Jerusalem Road against well armed fighters where Jewish soldiers went out of their way to protect innocent lives. What is the truth? Perhaps there is no truth, only perspective.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Christian Jihadists

You have heard it said of old, Do not kill, and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, that every one who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment....
You have heard it said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also....
You have heard it was said, You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
~ Jesus Christ, Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22, 38-39, 43-44)
For those of us living in the United State to realize that there are people out there teaching their children that God wants them to kill innocent people is more than a little disconcerting. The realization that even in this age of the global village precious few of them will ever have the opportunity to practice what is preached to them is not very reassuring. It is more than disconcerting to know that right here in the United States there are devout, mainstream Christians teaching their small children to be "warriors for Christ."

Jesus Camp documentary clips are so ubiquitous a link is sufficient. Becky Fisher, head of the camp, is quoted saying she wants to "see them radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all of these different places." There is no need to wonder how this is different than Islamic jihadists because Fisher is clear that there is no difference. Kill and be killed for Christ.

Using Jesus to Justify Killing
I never cease to be fascinated by the ways Christian jihadists parse the words of Jesus to "prove" He really, really supported killing people in a Just Cause. (Just Cause being defined as "the reason I want to kill you.") A common twisting of Jesus' words, sampled here, is to take the "turn the other cheek" statement and perverting it so it only refers to personal insults. Throughout His Sermon Jesus was laying down impossibly strict rules along the theme of peace and love, even to those who hate you. Yet, here, He suddenly gets all trivial and is just talking about getting slapped on the cheek. The form of the Sermon is consistent - don't do the greater violence and don't even do the lesser violence.

It is ludicrious, of course, but these are fanatics who want God on their side while they practice their hatred. Whether they are Muslim or Christian, their bloodlust exceeds their faith. They are more than willing to twist the teachings of their religions into unrecognizable knots to justify violence upon anyone who does not share their perversions.

Walter Wink on Jesus' pacifism.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. ~ Bertrand Russell
Fanaticism is religion caricatured; bears, indeed, about the same relation to it that a monkey bears to a man; yet, with many, contempt of fanaticism is received as a sure sign of hostility to religion. ~ Edwin Percy Whipple
Fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity. ~ Edward Gibbon

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Vanishing Ice Caps

From a South African news source (via ThinkProgress) is news that the Artic ice is disappearing faster than anyone imagined. The photo to the left shows the effect of 24 years of global warming. The report that shocks scientists is that the ice pack has shrunken nearly in half in just the last three years. The waters from Sweden (the land at the top of the photo) to the North Pole is now ice free.

I know what my right-wing friends (acquaintances ... annoying neighbors) will say. They will say that global warming will be the greatest thing to happen to the Earth since pre-packaged spinach. Here is a Cato Institute love fest for heat.

What's the downside? This is a slide from a University of Florida "Biology for Engineers" lecture. If all the polar ice melts, Florida and Louisiana will disappear. The Mississippi River will flood to and consume Memphis. Eleven of the country's 25 largest cities will be inundated, including Washington D.C. Maybe this will catch the President's eye, a quarter of Texas will be underwater. To balance Cato, here is a National Resources Defense Council article.

Suffering the Little Children

As a tactic, using small children to hector an occupation army is contemptible. As a harbinger, it is a sign that the U.S. war in Iraq is a lost cause. This AP story tells of children as young as six and seven throwing rocks and firebombs at American troops patrolling Baghdad. The U.S. officials are correct that the tactic is designed to induce American soldiers into committing an atrocity. It is also a sign that a tipping point has been passed. When children begin doing this it is because it has become the common currency of the realm. Opposition to U.S. troops has become universal. We may continue to die, they may continue to die, but the war is lost.

More on the plight of Iraqi children is reported here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Problem With Infallibility

When Pope Benedict quoted that 12th Century Byzantine emperor he made a mistake. As top diplomat for over a billion Catholics he should have chosen his words more prudently. It happens. He is, after all, only human. Humans make mistakes and they apologize.

Unfortunately, the Pope is annointed by God; he is supposed to be infallible. The best Benedict could manage was to express sorrow at the reaction to his talk. If I accidently hit you in the nose, I say "I'm sorry." I don't say, "I'm sorry you're still crying because I hit you."

That last one doesn't cut it. It lacks compassion. It's not good, being a Pope without compassion.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The History of Terrorism
Part 4 - America's Legacy

There is something about the American Spirit, perhaps a curdling in the Melting Pot, Americans terrorizing other Americans is a recurring theme in our history.

Ku Klux Klan
At its apex in the 1920's, the Klan had four to five millions of members. Founded after the Civil War by former Confederate soldiers to resist post-war Reconstruction it quickly resorted to terrorist acts aimed at suppressing the freed slaves. Northern whites who organized schools for the freedmen, blacks who tried to start businesses, vote, or bear arms were targeted for intimidation or murder. People would be roused from their sleep at gunpoint by hooded raiders. The lucky ones would be threatened; the unlucky ones would be lynched or burned alive. One of the first anti-terrorism laws passed by Congress was the Klan Act of 1871.

The Klan faded in the 19th Century only to be reborn anew in 1915, in part due to the film Birth of a Nation. The new Klan expanded its hate list to include Jews, Catholics, unions, and Hispanics in western states like California, as well as black Americans. It grew to immense strength. In many areas of the country you could not get elected without ties to the Klan. Lynching and burning again became their terror weapons of choice. There has never been a larger, more successful, or more deadly terrorist organization operating within the United States.

Other sources: the mid-west's Black Legion, the African American Registry article, ADL.

Not a group but a tactic, lynching has been the preferred tactic in America for spreading terror in a population. Killing someone by hanging - men and women have both been lynched - was more than just murder. Often the victim would be tortured or burned while still alive. The bodies would be left hanging for days and even weeks while they rotted and were eaten by animals. The point was to terrorize.

The Klan in the south used lynching to punish blacks who tried to register to vote and as an object lesson to any who might consider voting in the future. As can be seen in this picture, lynching black Americans in southern states was a family recreation. Native Americans were frequent victims. In California lynching Hispanic Americans was so common Spanish slang in the state called American democracy "linchocracia."

There is still a lingering affection in some circles for lynching. In 2005, the Senate voted on a symbolic resolution condemning more than a century of the lynching of black Americans. Ten Senators, all Republicans, voted against the resolution.

Other sources: the American Institution of Lynching, Bob Geiger on the relationship between historical lynchings and modern Redstaters (scroll down to 6-16-2005).

Puerto Rican Nationalists
Pop quiz: What is the only organization to stage an armed assault on Congress? Who tried to assassinate President Harry Truman? Easy answer, just look up a couple of lines.

In the Twentieth Century the Puerto Rican nationalist movement was subject to draconian measures. Summary arrest and executions by colonial police of advocates for independence was common. As part of a coordinated rebellion in 1950 designed to forstall commonwealth status, two men were sent to Washington D. C. to kill the president. The Truman family was living in Blair House while the White House was being renovated. Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola tried to shoot their way into the presidential residence. They got as far as the steps of the house.

In 1954 the diminutive Lolita Lebron lead four Puerto Rican gunmen in a bold attack on Congress. Shouting Puerto Rico Libre! they unfurled a Puerto Rico flag and fired automatic weapons from the visitors' gallery. Five congressmen were wounded, none killed. Lebron continues to be a heroine to Puerto Rican nationalists.

Other sources: Art, Puerto Rico independence movement, FBI kills an independence leader in 2005

And So Many Others
I could keep going. The terrorism practices by union busters in the Nineteenth Century, Tim McVeigh, the many groups like the Weather Underground who blew up ROTC offices around the country during the Vietnam War, the current Minutemen. I could go on forever. In this land of the Second Amendment and a dyspeptic melting pot, terrorism fueled by race, creed, or political impotence is as American as apple pie.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Poisoning Our Food Supply

I've sometimes wondered why Al-Qaeda keeps trying complicated airplane attacks when it would be much more effective and a lot easier to poison our fruits and vegetables which are sitting out in the open in every supermarket in the country. Then news like the nation's entire supply of spinach has been compromised by a deadly e-coli bacteria comes across the Internet. I realize, how would we know if Al-Qaeda poisoned our food?

Nary a week goes by that there isn't some report about salmonella in croutons, shigella in resturant food, enough mercury in fish to make a thermometer, hepatitis diseased food handlers, and bad mushrooms. Well, I never liked mushrooms anyhow. Then there are the reports that an unapproved genetically modified rice manufactured by Bayer has contaminated a quarter of the United States rice supply - Bayer has asked the USFDA to approve the rice for human consumption because it is already in America's food supply. And the USFDA has begun allowing companies to deliberately add viruses to food.

Our food supply is so badly contaminated by greedy businesses, general incompetence, and Food and Drug Administration corruption, anything Al-Qaeda could do would be a drop in an already foul, stinking bucket.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Freedom of the Press Is an Individual Right

The First Amendment's protection of Freedom of the Press was not intended to protect newspapers and news reporters exclusively. Pamphleteers like Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin spread political news and dissent, often anonymously, that would never have found its way into the Mainstream Media of the Eighteenth Century. The First Amendment was intended to protect anyone with and idea, some ink, and a few sheets of paper from government censors. The Internet is the Twenty-first Century version of the wood hand press.

This is why the Federal Election Commission's ruling freeing "uncompensated Internet activity" from campaign financing laws is in the tradition of the Founding Fathers (note to self: I can praise the government, wow!). Campaign financing limits are an attempt to slow the legalized bribery that wealthy contributions to political campaigns have become. The heavy hand of government was never intended to restrict the common American from freely sharing his opinions with the public.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Not So Starry Nights Now Adays

When I was a kid I loved star gazing. My brothers and I would take a telescope into the backyard and spend hours looking into the night sky. Currently I take some time most evenings to meditate outside. I've noticed that there aren't as many stars as there were in my youth and what is there are not as bright. Now, my eyeballs are 45 years older but I don't think that's it. There is a not-at-all-subtle glow on the horizon (San Diego City) that was not there when I was young. The visual noise of urban lights are obscuring nature's glory and we are all the worse for that.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

History of Terrorism Part 3 -
The American Civil War

There are so many examples of terrorist activity in the United States during the past 200 years choosing which ones to highlight is a difficult task. Which acts during the genocide of Native Americans that was the Indian Wars could be described as terrorism? Burning homes and killing noncombatants, women and children, was featured on both sides. I'll dedicate two postings to American terrorists and still no listing can be complete because terrorism is as American as apple pie.

John Brown, William Quantrill, and
Bleeding Kansas

The use of terrorism during an insurgency can rightly be said to have been invented in the mid-1800's in Kansas. In the years before the Civil War, Kansas was to determine through plebiscite whether it would be a slave or free state. Pro-slave Bushwackers and abolitionist Jayhawks pulled out their guns, intending to influence the vote by scaring their opponents out of the state. Murder, kidnapping, and arson abounded as both sides tried to kill the other. Whole families, including women and children, were killed because one member of the family was suspected of being an abolitionist (or pro-slaver). In 1856, when John Brown was just a mad preacher (see picture above) and not a national icon, he led a raid on three families along Pottawatomie Creek in Kansas. Under his leadership, five men were hacked to death with sabres because they were pro-slavery. William Quantrill rode on the other side of politics. Leading a gang of raiders that included the Jesse and Frank James and the Younger brothers, Quantrill killed over 150 men and burned 200 homes and businesses on his raid on Lawrence, Kansas in 1863.

Mosby's Raiders
John Mosby led a Confederate cavalry troop, the 43rd Virginia Cavalry. He and other Confederate Partisan Rangers developed many of the tactics still used by guerrillas around the world. They raided soft (unprotected) targets, worked in small units, and melted into the civilian population when challenged. To skedaddle was to scatter and run instead of fighting. The Union Army hated this cowardly tactic as much then as the U.S. Army hates it now in Iraq. Painting source.

Confederate Bombers
Who masterminded the first terror attack upon New York City? Nope, not Bin Laden. It was in 1864 when Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin sent eight agents into New York with dozens of fire bombs. They set fire to nineteen hotels and P. T. Barnum's museum. The goal was to incite a rebellion in the Northern city that most hated the Civil War. With all the optimism of Donald Rumsfeld at the gates of Baghdad, the plan predicted that the Confederate flag would be flying over the city by nightfall. The fires went off; the rebellion didn't.

It's All Just Fiction - Or Plagiarism

Huff Post's Eat the Press caught something that would be silly if it didn't explain a lot. The poster art for ABC's "Path to 9/11" is the spitting image of the the poster art for a 1996 NBC series called "Dark Skies." What is weird is the eerie similarities between the plots of the two works.
Dark Skies was an X-Files type show that posited evil space aliens are hiding among us and that there is a vast, government conspiracy covering it up. Historical events and figures are woven into the plots, such as alien involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy.

Evil outsiders hiding among us. Government conspiracies. Historical figures woven into a fictional story. Substitute Bin Laden for the space aliens and "Path to 9/11" is a blatant rewrite of "Dark Skies."


Friday, September 08, 2006

Seeking Reality in the Shooting of a San Diego Footballer

San Diego Charger linebacker Steve Foley was shot in front of his home by an off-duty police officer last weekend. That is the undisputed fact. But what caused the confrontation? What really happened?

The Policeman's Story
The twenty-three year-old Coronado policeman was driving home after work at 3 am last Sunday out of uniform and in his personal car. He saw a car driving recklessly, he followed at speeds up to 90 miles-per-hour, and he tried and failed to pull the car over three times. When Foley stopped in front of his house, the officer felt threatened by Foley and his female companion who had moved into the driver's seat of the car. As Foley approached the officer, the policeman fired a warning shot. This caused the woman to drive the car towards the officer. The policeman shot at the woman in the car. This caused Foley to run towards the officer. And, this caused the officer to shoot Foley.

The Linebacker's Story
At 3 am, someone they suspected to be a carjacker or obsessed fan began following Foley and his companion. Foley drove slower then faster, trying to get away. Three times this suspicious person tried to pull them over. When they got to Foley's home, Foley started walking towards the unidentified man while the man was still in his car. The man now obviously scared got out of his car, said he was a cop, pulled a gun, and fired it. Trying to protect Foley, the woman drove Foley's car towards the unidentified man. The man then shot at the car and Foley.

Some Perspective
  • Steve Foley was unarmed.
  • The policeman was in civilian clothes driving a civilian car. There was nothing to indicated he was a cop.
  • Foley is big (6 foot-4 inches, 265 pounds), black, and as any NFL running back will tell you, scary.
  • The policeman was just a kid, 23 years old. Veteran officers will tell you that young cops run out of confidence quickly. They get scared and pull their guns where a veteran wouldn't.
  • Foley has been in trouble before. He had drinking problems in the past and was accused of battery on a police officer this April although no charges where filed.
Other Facts Worth Noting
San Diego has a history of excessive police officers shootings. In the past, police have shot people "armed" with rocks, bottles, bricks, sticks, tree branches, and a pen. One naked guy who was caught masturbating by a bikepath was shot while armed with his wanker. Several years ago police shot and killed another NFL player, Demetrius DuBose, who had allegedly taken a policeman's nunchukas but was otherwise unarmed. I don't remember the last time San Diego police shot someone who actually had a gun.

Coronado, where the young policeman works, is populated mostly by old, white retired naval officers. Stuck out on an island (well pennisula), there is only bridge and causeway access, it is isolated from the rest of San Diego. It is not a place where young, hip, black folk are seen.

Driving While Black has long been a crime in San Diego. There was a classic case where police were looking for a stolen Honda and arrested Charger football player Shawn Lee for the crime; he was driving a Jeep Cherokee. Add together Driving While Black with black guy driving nice car, black guy with white woman in the passenger seat, and black guy in an upscale neighborhood. Steve Foley broke at least four unwritten laws that get people arrested in San Diego.

So, What Do I Think Happened
Foley was probably driving drunk. He's done it before. The policeman looked like some college kid stalker; the kind of guy NFL player are always getting harrassed by. Some kid saying "I'm a cop" in a frightened tremolo is not going to cut it. When Foley stopped in front of his house the wise move for the policeman would have been to wait until a uniformed officer arrived. But this young cop was angry. Here was some black guy dissing him. He was with a white chick in a nicer car in a nicer neighborhood than the cop had. He was going to teach that nigger a lesson. But the cop got scared, scared shitless real fast. How do I know the cop was scared? Foley was shot once in the hand and twice in the leg. Police are taught to shot the torso. That gun was waving around like it was at the end of a willow branch.

I'll be interested whether the truth comes out but the early money is against it. San Diego district attorneys always cover for trigger happy cops. Foley will probably not be charged. He survived the shooting, that is usually considered enough punishment. The one who will get screwed is Foley's companion. She has been charged with assault on a police officer for driving her car towards the crazy kid with the gun. She broke another unwritten San Diego law, it is still taboo here for white women to date black men.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Ugly American Award Winner - Ralph Peters

Ralph Peters is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, FOX military consultant, and a writer of fiction and non-fiction who has a hard time distinguishing between the genre. Ralph feels everything in Iraq is tickety boo and once wrote this ode to the concept of permanent war and US hegemony:
At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing. ~ Constant Conflict, 1997
'Ethnic Cleansing Works'
Ralph's latest bon mot was published in the Armed Forces Journal last month. He proposed the wholesale redrawing of the map of the Middle East. He would carve up Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia to build several new countries. He justified his meat-cleaver approach to regional politics with the pithy observation, " Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works."

Ralph is silent about who would do the most ambitious redrawing of the globe since the colonial powers cut up Africa in the Nineteenth Century although, given his target audience, I suspect he envisions the United States military will get to do most of the killing.
Peters' new map of the Middle East.
As much as any American with an IQ above a turnip would hope that Ralph kept his insanity private, he was published and he was read abroad. Yassar Latif Hamdani, writing for the PakTribune, exposed Ralph's grand scheme to his countrymen.
Unfortunately, American attitude historically has always favored wrong turns and a foolhardy belief in the notion that two wrongs make a right. This is precisely why Mr. Peters says so openly "Ethnic cleansing works!"
For enhancing every notion of America's over preening arrogance and for making diplomatic efforts throughout the region, even among allies like Turkey, a thousand times more difficult, Ralph Peters is awarded the first Ugly American Award.

The Ugly American Award is given monthly to someone who has tainted us all throughout the world with his or her supercilious gall and general, all around, assholery.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Thoughts on Courage Upon
the Death of Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, has died at the age of 44. He chose a life of adventure with the mission to teach people to love the Earth and its creatures with the same intensity he had.
Any coward can sit at home and criticize a pilot for flying into a mountain in a fog. But I would rather by far die on a mountainside than in bed. ~ Charles Lindbergh
In the coming days I expect some critics to say that Irwin took too many foolish chances. He took chances, yes, but they were courageous, not foolish. Irwin knew the risks of his chosen life's work and faced the risks with unbridled joy. His was the rarest of lives, one well lived.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau
He could have become your average zoologist, standing safely in front of the cages of the animals he studied. No one would have criticized him for that decision, it is the quiet path many thousands of others have chosen. But Irwin had a vision for his life and he bravely marched into the unknown to pursue his dream. That he became famous is far less important than the fact that he lived his dreams.

After reading about the death of Steve Irwin I saw this item.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Air passengers from Charlotte to Little Rock, Arkansas, had to hurry off their plane Friday after someone found a suspicious liquid on board.
The suspicious liquid, by the way, was a bottle of water. What small, pitiful creatures are terrified by a bottle of water. What sort of country have we become that we have chosen these tremorous beings as our leaders. And that we follow them in fear.
Cowards die many times before their death; the valiant never taste of death but once. ~ Shakespeare
In his 44 years, Steve Irwin experienced more love, more joy, more fulfillment and more excitement than most of us who survive twice as long. I grieve with his family but I will not mourn his death. Rather, I celebrate his life. This was a man who had the courage to chase his dreams and bravely faced his life with all its attendant dangers. We should all be a tenth as brave.

The History of Terrorism
Part 2 - Racks and Spikes in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages were the Golden Ages for religous terrorism. The Christian church was determined to stamp out heretical thought. Many of the techniques used during this time to terrorize commoners into being devout Christians still stand out as the most fiendish torture devices every created. Christianity was also at war with Islam and Judaism and had no qualms about how it fought those wars.

Vlad Tepes
AKA: Vlad III, Vlad the Impaler, Son of Dracul (the Dragon), Dracula. Vlad is known to literature as a vampire but he is known to history as a terrorist par excellence. Ruler of Wallachia, now Romania, in the 15th Century, his favorite form of torment was the spike. In 1459 he had 30,000 merchants impaled on spikes; he had his dinner served so he could watch them died. He would impale Turkish invaders, nobles, and commoners with equal aplomb. While a captive in Hungry, Vlad amused himself by impaling birds and mice on sticks.

Stating that none should go hungry in his kingdom, Vlad invited the poor and sick to a grand feast in his capital. He locked them in a great hall and burned it to the ground. His terrorism was effective. It is said there was no crime in Wallachia because of fear of the spike. Mohammed II turn back his invasion force when he encountered 20,000 impaled Turkish prisoners on the banks of the Danube. I've sometimes wondered if Dick Cheney had lived in a less civilized time how like Vlad Tepes he would have been.

The Historian is an excellent novel that bridges the history of Vlad Tepes with the legend of Dracula. It is a worthy read.

The Inquisition
The link above is interesting because it is from a modern Catholic scholar who has a neutral to positive view of the Inquisition. Just as there are Holocaust deniers, the Catholic Church is rife with Inquisition deniers who claim it was really a good thing (Prof. Thomas Madden).

The Inquisitions, there were several in different European countries, was designed to root out Jews, Muslims, and heretics and terrorize them through the threat and act of torture into becoming True Christians. The process was simple, people in a city would denounce their neighbors and the accused would be interrogated using torture devices that have not been improved upon in over 600 years. Those few who did not admit their heresy and repent were turned over to the local government to be burned at the stake. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were tormented in the name of God.

The Inquisition from a Jewish perspective. If you are of a morbid mind, here are drawings of the tortures used. For a little comedy, Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition skit.

Malleus Maleficarum - The Witch Hunts
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (Exodus 22:18) This one sentence has been responsible for the torment and death countless people - the estimates range up to nine million. The killing continues to this day. Over 800 killed for witchcraft in the Ituri province of the Congo in 2001. In Tanzania in the 1990's, 20,000 people were slaughtered as witches. The killing continues in much of Africa and rural India. Over the past two decades, more people have been killed through witch-hunts than were killed by Al-Qaeda. The west isn't immune. Last January in the United States a woman was fired on suspicion she was a witch. In my California Assembly district, Steve Baldwin won an election in 1994 running on an anti-witchcraft platform. The campaign against witches is mostly an attack upon independent women (Jerry Falwell calls the National Organization for Women the "National Organization of Witches."). The goal is to terrorize women into obsequiousness.

The Malleus Maleficarum was an instruction book on how to find, torture, and kill witches. Here is an archive of European witch-hunt texts.

Next time, America's surprising contribution to terrorism.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sleep Is Overrated

I only had a couple of hours of sleep last night and I'm absolutely fine. I know that some scientists believe that sleep ix nezitary por a helty life but I', licing prof that ix nonesence. All my higher fnctns ar wking finne.

Art is Sleeplessness by Vera Asiadouskaya.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Answering a Friend - What Is There to be Terrified Of?

Fear-mongering….. is there not a legitimate threat? .... There is a real threat, and the Democrats don’t take it seriously. There are millions of people determined to kill me and other Americans. THAT IS REAL.
JB at TalkArena was expounding on the comparative virtues of his hero, Newt Ginginch, verses his villian, Nancy Pelosi when he wrote that. I am not interested in his main thesis but on the above thoughts.

"There are millions of people determined to kill me..."

Millions? Kill you? Ya sure?

There were 3,000 to 5,000 members of Al-Qaeda in August 2001 and, according to President Bush, substantially fewer now. By all accounts, the Iraq insurgencies (Shi'ite and Sunni) are about fighting each other for control of the country, although they are united in their desire to drive out the U.S. occupation. But, none of them give a crap about you or me.

The Iranian leadership that might specifically want you dead number at most a few thousand, the Iranian people have no such bloodlust. At most there are a few hundred North Koreans, probably only a few dozen, who are well fed enough to be interested in killing anyone whatsoever.

That someone as intelligent as you believes that there are millions of folk out there actively trying to kill you is ipso facto proof of successful fear-mongering.

There are dangerous people in the world, there always have been and always will be. As always, caution and due diligence is required. But, they are not out there in anywhere near the numbers that terrify you so. Perverting our democracy to defend against these Ghost Legions is a gift to Bin Laden.

Like any boogieman, it is only our fear that makes this pathetic little man big.