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Political Gnosis
Monday, 18 July 2005
On Rove
Mood:  amorous News
"It's best people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts," Bush said Monday. "I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

It was the second time that Bush, when asked specifically about Rove's involvement in the matter, passed up an opportunity to come to his adviser's defense.

Reasonable. The investigation is still going on. If what was done wasn’t illegal, than there may be nothing that can be done. And it might affect the case if Rove is fired early. If it were to turn out that Rove hadn’t done illegal things in this case, then it would look like Rove was a sacrificial lamb for someone else in the department who may have done more leaking.

The actual law has a 5 year limitation, meaning that if she’d not been undercover in 5 years, than she could legally be “outed”. Not a nice thing to do, and frankly it is wrong to punish a whistle blower that way. But doing something wong is not illegal.

Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. But he has insisted through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name, nor did he intend to "out" her.

Cooper said Sunday that a 2003 phone call with White House political adviser Karl Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Giving a first-person account of his role in a case that nearly landed him in jail, the reporter disclosed that Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also was a source for the story mentioning Plame.

Cooper recalled that Rove told him, "I've already said too much" after revealing that the wife of the former ambassador apparently was with the CIA.

Cooper speculated in the piece, released Sunday, that Rove could have been "worried about being indiscreet, or it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else."

"I don't know, but that signoff has been in my memory for two years," Cooper wrote. The White House and Rove's lawyer have stressed that Rove never mentioned Plame by name.

So what’s the difference between Wilson’s wife is CIA, and Plame is CIA? Does Wilson have 15 wives? Maybe it was one of the 14 other wives that Rove was talking about? This is just stupid. Just because the journalist (or anyone else reading the story) might have needed a phone book to find out her specific name. Heck with “Wilson’s wife”, Google would make rather short work of finding out who she was. And how could he not figure out that this action would “out” Ms Plame?

Let’s see here, we’ll say Wilson’s wife because no-one can figure out who that is. And do it right after Wilson discredits an African Uranium theory, in a story related to that issue.

It took the same tack Sunday, as spokesman David Almacy declined specifically to comment about Libby, citing an independent counsel's ongoing investigation of the case.

Writing an account of a conversation he had with Libby, Cooper said, "Libby replied, 'Yeah, I've heard that too' or words to that effect" when he asked if Libby had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Africa to investigate the possible sale of uranium to Iraq for nuclear weapons.

As part of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation, Cooper testified about his conversation with Libby in a deposition at his lawyer's office in August 2004. Libby, as Rove did this month, provided a specific waiver of confidentiality. In a grand jury appearance last Wednesday, Cooper gave his account of what Rove told him.

Libby seems not to be involved. She seems to have been surprised that the reporter knew something that she apparently sees as a rumor floating around. So she appears to be innocent. News.;_ylt=AluR2_Io1joPUqLBrmjn8i.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY-

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 6:12 PM EDT
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Monday, 11 July 2005

Mood:  happy
London's Muslims condemn Bombings

Hours after terrorist bombs tore into London's transport network Thursday, Muhammed Abdul Bari experienced another high-tech explosion of hate. Someone unleashed what he called an e-mail bomb of thousands of hate-filled messages to the Web site of the Muslim Council of Britain.

By Sunday, Bari, who also is the chairman of the East London Mosque, was reading a different message. The e-mails were running about 4-1 in favor of positive messages and sympathy for the predicament facing Muslim Londoners.

"Whoever did this," Bari said, referring to four bombs that ripped through three subway trains and a bus last week, "did a terrible callous thing. It's atrocious. . . . These groups claim to be Muslim, but who are they really?"

"One thing is clear: Londoners, Muslim and non-Muslim, are united against this," he said.

As crews continued trying to retrieve bodies after the worst terrorist strike ever in downtown London, communities of faith prayed for calm Sunday and mourned the dead, who number at least 49.

Britain's religious leaders later made a joint appearance, appealing to Muslims, Christians and Jews to find unity and resolve in a condemnation of terrorism. Earlier in the week, Home Secretary Charles Clarke had met with Muslim leaders to keep abreast of possible tensions.

For all the haters out there, the ones that say muslims never condemn a terrorist act, well these muslims did condemn the attacks on Great Britain. The war on terror isn't about Islam against non-Islam, it's against a form of Islam that is attacking the rest of the world. Make no mistake, one crazy with a nuke will take out a lot of people.

I don't know how hard it will be to keep balanced, and not fall to one side or the other. The first mistake would be to assume that no threat even exists, and that the whole thing is some sort of very loud nightmare. The second mistake is to assume that the danger is horribly great and that every Muslim all over the world is secretly working out plots to kill Westerners for the glory of Islam. Both illusions are dangerous.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 5:40 PM EDT
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Friday, 8 July 2005
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There is no place in the world -- Neither in the sky, the sea nor in the mountain crevices -- where one can escape the inevitability of death -- Dammapada

A knot, a knot. Settle the mind in oneness. Why is this happening: here a knot, there a knot, all kinds of knots? They offer truth for setting the mind, truth for encouraging the mind to settle.

Osashizu, September 10, 1888

In the absence of any knot, everything goes in one ear and out the other. . . . You cannot listen or understand unless faced with a knot.

Osashizu, October 9, 1889

When you find yourself in a situation where you think this may be your end, recall that it is a knot. Make a commitment of spirit and stand firm. If you stand firm, the Truth of Heaven will work for you. This I teach.

Osashizu, August 23, 1904

God bless Great Britain!

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 8:40 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 6 July 2005
Mood:  chillin'
To say that truth is objective is a common misconception. When searching for truth we all start off with preconceptions and an expected outcome. Therefore how can truth be objective? Truth is more a matter of one’s perception of the evidence in front of them.

Truth is never constant either. It is a forever changing and growing process. A good example of how truth changes can be found in a tree. Say you go out and measure a tree you just planted. it may be 2 meters tall, but the next year when you go and measure the same tree, it will have grown. So therefore the truth about how tall the tree is has changed. In the same way the tree has grown, so truth does

In the spring of 2004 the imperial psyche, as the critic Walter Davis observed in Counterpunch, found in Mel Gibson its poet and in Abu Graib its savage feast. In a text by Raphael Patai entitled The Arab Mind it apparently found its catechism. Originally published in the early seventies, though actually belonging to an earlier, second World War, genre of "national character" studies and anthropology-at-a-distance, Edward Said had cited it as the very epitome of crude orientalism. It was reprinted in time for the invasion and became, according to Seymour Hersh, "the bible of the neo-cons in Arab behavior", as well as a war college handbook on humiliation--in particular the chapter on "sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression", where we are informed inter alia of "the Arab view that masturbation is far more shameful that visiting prostitutes". In the foreword to the 2002 reprint, a Colonel De Atkine writes. "At the institution where I teach military officers, The Arab Mind forms the basis of my cultural instruction."

How can a book of any type written in the 1970's hold any bearing today? This is just silly -- to me anyway. Can you imagine the strange things that would be printed about Americans in the 1970's?

"Americans are very fond of drugs, disco and very opposed to any aggressive action. They wear their hair long and seem to have a cultural aversion to soap and water. They usually wear suits, called 'liesure suits', made of a type of plastic called 'Polyester'."

Ah yes, I saw one of these typical Americans just the other day...

Hersh's report helped to explain the source of so much talk of Muslim shame and sexuality, suddenly everywhere on the lips of think-tank pundits and retired generals. Now it is clear why Arabs--unlike, say, Anglo-Saxons--find being stripped naked in front of attack dogs and grinning torturers especially disturbing and shameful. Muslims, we must understand, inhabit shame-cultures, shame being more primitive than guilt, which is Judeo-Christian, enlighened, modern. And, of course, we already have it on Erik Erikson's authority that, psychologically, guilt is a more "advanced" emotion than shame. Hardly surprising, then, that this warmed-over orientalism was coupled, in White House discussions, with vulgar racist projection--"Arabs only understand force". Fanon understood this move and where it might lead those "of whom [the occupiers] have never stopped saying that the only language they understand is that of force. The argument the native chooses has been furnished by the settler."

Is the "Arab" taboo on sex held equeally by all Arabs? Is the only thing any Arab ever understood force?

Well, for one thing, not all Muslims are Arabs, and even then not all of them come from the Middle East.

The monotheistic religion Islam has more than one billion adherents, less than 20% of which are Arab.

In Asia, Islam is the principal religion of Indonesia (which has the world’s largest Muslim population), Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula states, and Turkey. India and China both have extraordinarily large Muslim populations, although Islam is not the principal religion in either country. Approximately two percent of Australia is Muslim, where it is the fastest growing religion.

In Africa, Islam is the principal religion in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan, with sizable populations also in Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania (where the island of Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim), and Nigeria.

In Europe, Albania is predominantly Muslim, and, historically, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Georgia have had Muslim populations. Immigrant communities of Muslims from Northern Africa, Turkey, and Asia exist in France, Germany, Spain and Great Britain and in some number in every European country. Ten percent of France is Muslim in religion.

In the Americas the Islamic population has substantially increased in recent years, both from conversions and the immigration of adherents from other parts of the world. In the United States, the number of Muslims has been variably estimated at 2–6 million; 20% of the population of Suriname is Muslim.

Neolibertarian -- Islamic Sects

So, not all muslims have the same culture. It would be hard to imagine that a Muslim Arab living in a country like France has the same cultural attitudes toward sex and masturbation that a Muslim Arab living in Pakistan would.

And even if that were true, the sect of Islam might make a rather large difference.

Unlike churches, mosques are not denominational. Despite the differences among Muslims, traditional Friday prayer services are largely similar and Muslims of any background are welcome to attend services at any mosque.

Who are the Sunnis?
Sunnis are Muslims who are considered the more "orthodox" believers. Sunnis follow all of the most traditional beliefs and actions.

Who are the Shi'ites?
The term Shi'a is a shortened form of Shi'at Ali, which means "the party of Ali" - and at the time of Ali's death in 661, that is probably all it was: a party or tendency of people who supported Ali's claims to the caliphate. Over time, they became the largest non-Sunni sect in Islam.

Who are the Sufis?
Sufism is important to the development of Islam because it is in this tradition that the more spiritual and mystical aspects were preserved. This stands in contrast to the mainstream of Islam which, through its first centuries, was more concerned with the expansion and organization of the general community.

Who are the Kahrijites?
In Arabic, their label means "to go out" - they were, in effect, the first Mulism dissidents and rebels, being present almost from the dawn of Islam. Like later dissidents, they chose to separate themselves from the main body of believers, feeling that the majority of Muslims had lost the "true path."

Who are the Wahhabis?
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab could be considered the first modern Islamic fundamentalist. He made the central point of his reform movement the idea that absolutely every idea added to Islam after the third century of the Mulsim era was false and should be eliminated.

Who are the Ismailis?
An early Shi'a sect which split from the main group because of a dispute over who should be considered the next Imam.

Who are the Zaidis?
Formed by Zaid, a grandson of Husain, the Zaidis have believed that the true Imam must publicly assert his claim to the title and seek to overthrow the corrupt regime run by unacceptable rulers.

Who are the Fatimids?
The Fatimids are a successor movement to the Isma'ilis and are descendants of Fatima and Ali through the line of Isma'il. In the tenth century, those descendants asserted themselves as caliphs in North Africa, and ruled Egypt from 969 to 1171.

Who are the Nizari?
This sect is actually very well known around the world, but under a different name: the Assassins.

Who are the Alawis?
Also known as Nusayris, the Alawis are a branch of Isma'ilism which has gone so far along its own path that many Muslims no longer even regard it as a form of Islam. The term Alawis actually just means "followers of Ali," which is used in some countries to refer to all Shi'a in general. Some think that they worship Ali as God, but that isn't entirely accurate.

Who are the Druze?
The Druze comprise another sect which is not widely regarded as being "truly" Muslim. This group diverged from mainstream Islam in the eleventh century when some Isma'ilis started to believe that God became manifest in the personality of a prophet or imam.

Who are the Baha'i?
Baha'i is another movement which is descended from Islam, but which most Muslims today no longer regard as authentically Islamic. Islamic Sects

So even if a Muslim Arab grows up in the Middle East, he might not see things the exact same way as another Muslim. So there is no reason to think that every muslim lives in a "shame culture", and that the exact same stress will effect all of them in the same way.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 3:33 PM EDT
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Thursday, 30 June 2005
Oh Scotty Where Art Thou
Mood:  sharp
Many people have complained about jobs going to other nations, especially in more "high tech/high skill" areas such as engineering. There are many opinions as to why:
Engineering Shortage

What's lamentable about this latest why-do-our-kids-suck-at-math hand-wringing is that too many Americans are coming away from the conversation with the message that we're losing an intellectual arms race because our young men and women are lazy, stupid or both. As a recent study of high school kids in 26 states showed, 22 percent of entering college freshmen are required to take remedial math classes. Math and science have become lower priorities in the secondary educational system. But as I can personally attest, there's a good reason that fewer young Americans are pursuing careers in the sciences: the jobs suck.

22% of kids is just shy of 1/4 of all kids. So in a little more than half our states, you'll graduate 22% without them learning math up through a HS graduate level. Math is quite possibly one of the more important skills one can learn in the 21st century. Wanna work on PCs? Need math. Wanna program? Need math. Medicine? Math again. Almost any skilled job requires that a person learn Math and English. Without those basic skills, the child won't be able to do much more than shelve products at the local Wal-Mart or maybe take your order in the Drive-up Window.

"Math and Science have become a lower priority"... For what? What else could be taking up all the school day so that a kid can graduate without job skills? It isn't History. Most Americans know so little that they can't place the Civil War in the proper half-century. (For you math challenged, a half-century is 50 years, so the kids had about a 50/50 chance). I tend to be skeptical of the "Condom on Cucumber" excuse as the health class I took hardly mentioned condoms (actually at one point the teacher lost her place in her notes, and you could tell because she made the same *stupid* joke about "Dr. Fallopian" and how he was a "nosy guy" two days in a row, when lecturing on the same topic). It ain't sex ed, at least judging by my sex ed experiences in the early 90's. We never had the "Rainbow Party" book either. I think the thing is that the teachers waste a lot of time. Not only in the unending task of getting kids to understand the phrase "sit down and shut up", but in reviewing old material from the previous year/semester. There is just no reason to be wasting time going over old stuff. I learned and relearned graphing every year since 7th grade. I get it. X is left to right. Y is Up and Down. Do we need to spend three days on it in college?

Columbia's liberal arts requirements exceed those of tech dork mills like CalTech and M.I.T. but their typical engineering student's ignorance of such essentials of American citizenship as politics, history and literature was staggering nonetheless. A disproportionate percent of the student body was composed of foreign nationals, but they weren't the only ones allowed to graduate without enough knowledge of English to compose a cover letter. My classmates' single-minded dedication to their studies came at the expense of reading the newspaper, listening to music and campus activism. Engineering students were widely--and accurately--regarded as boring careerists. Who'd want such geeks as coworkers?

Well these are the other two problems of American education. This time, it's the culture. First off, high skilled jobs are (in this author's words) dorky. Not nearly as cool as those dream jobs as singers and newspaper columnists, I'm sure. The problem is that the achievement of such a high degree of skill should be honored. (FYI all you "cool jocks", Halo was entirely made by geeks. So was your Ipod and your laptop.) But American culture in general sees people who tinker with high tech stuff as "dorks" and geeks. Who wants to be thought of as a geek? So the kids play sports and do other things trying to be "cool" and "hip".

The other problem: The instant gratification disease.

My classmates' single-minded dedication to their studies came at the expense of reading the newspaper, listening to music and campus activism. Engineering students were widely--and accurately--regarded as boring careerists. Who'd want such geeks as coworkers?

Hate to break it to you, but if you want to graduate with enough skills to land a $100K a year job, you'll have to lead a somewhat boring existance. It takes time to learn calculus, physics and chemistry. You just aren't going to have as much time to listen to the latest punk band or hang out with your buddies. But go see these "geeks" and "dorks" in 10 years. They'll have a speed boat and a nice house.

Visits to the Career Services office reinforced the grim picture of life as a scientist. I knew I'd need a high-paying job to pay off my student loans after graduation. Dow Chemical, Monsanto, General Electric--all the decent offerings required spilling brain cells on the machinery of mass death on behalf defense contractors. An ex-girlfriend who'd graduated a couple of years before me worked as a physicist for a company that was secretly developing genetically modified organisms for use in internationally banned biological weapons. She was assigned to a team trying to perfect long-range lasers to incinerate cities and towns from the sky. "We're all sinners," I remember lecturing her over beers one night, "and we all do things we regret. But if there's a hell I'm positive that anyone who does what you do will be on the express elevator, going down."

I don't know what he's talking about here, it sounds a bit like sour grapes. He wasn't interested in the "dorky" engineering job to begin with, so of course to him, all these jobs are somehow currupt and evil.

Just after I learned enough about nuclear fission to make me someone Saddam would have liked to meet, I got myself thrown out of college. My engineering classes were too boring to keep my interest and too hard besides. But I've come to believe that I sabotaged my studies because I was depressed by the thought of working for those monsters alongside idiots. Wall Street, which cared less about my B.A. than my I.Q., paid my rent until I returned to Columbia a few years later as a history major.

This is the real reason he's not doing technology. It's boring and difficult, and if TV has taught him anything, it's that boring and difficult things are to be avoided.

Thomas Friedman in Bangalore
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Why to India? Why is India so well positioned for this? It's a lot of reasons that have come together. One is very simple. You have a huge number of educated people who speak English. You have a culture, also, where being a doctor or an engineer is absolutely the top of the pyramid. It's amazing. You go down any side street in Bangalore, and there seems to be an engineering school, you know, or some kind of software programming classroom.

Another oddity: Their day is exactly the opposite of ours. You can work all day in America, then outsource all the stuff you need done overnight to India. They work all day in India, and send it back the next day. And so a lot of these things have converged. And then there's a couple of just accidents, Terry.

One is the dot-com bubble and huge overinvestment in dot-com stocks in America. You know what it did? It laid all these pipes, these fiber optic cables around the world, and created all this excess capacity, which made it easy -- not only easy, almost cost-free -- to transmit data from America to India. And then there was something called Y2K.

Y2K comes along, and you need all these software programmers basically to go through code, to see if the date is going to be a problem in whatever software program you're running. Well, what country in the world had that many programmers easily available, cheaply available? And once the Indians did that, they said, by the way, could we do this for you? Maybe you'd like your taxes done also.

Did you figure out the reason that India is taking so many tech jobs? They are harder working, value achievement and work for less money. Which would you rather have? An American who is minimally educated and costs $100K a year minus benefits, or an Indian for $50K who is well educated and eager to show what he can do?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I mean, it's a very serious question. And I think one can only say two things. One is that there is simply no question that outsourcing our, you know, commodity jobs through places like India or grunt work functions that tend to be low-prestige, low-paying here and become high-prestige, high-paying there is, at the macro sense, good for our economy, because what it allows us to do is focus on what we do best, which is innovation. That's the macro answer.

But how can we innovate if we don't want to be engineering dorks, and can't do the math required to figure out the best solutions? How will we innovate in software if we don't know how to program?

But my micro answer is, I feel your pain. I think we as a society have an obligation to public policy and tax programs and subsidies and wage insurance and health care to find a way to cushion people who are in white collar jobs, just as we did -- or tried to, to some extent -- with blue collar, so they are not going to get steamrolled by this phenomena. We're talking about 4 million jobs that will be outsourced to India probably over the next ten years. And that's not an insignificant number.

What we need to do is to make sure that our kids are getting decent education. We also need to provide decent job retraining for people who lose their jobs to outsourcing.

Now, many more will be lost to technological change, whatever, but I think we have to take it seriously with a real public policy response, but what we must not do, Terry, is put up walls that will slow us down and deprive us of what we do best, which is to come up with new ideas, bring them to market, and sell them to the rest of the world.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 8:32 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Mood:  spacey
Those who fail to distinguish
The nonessential from the essential
And the essential from the nonessential
Will, in feeding on wrong thoughts,
Fail to attain the essential
Dhammapada 1:11

Whitewash of Guantanamo Bay?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers just back from visiting the Guantanamo prison compared it to a resort, but Democrats complained of a "whitewash" at a hearing on Wednesday because they were unable to hear from an attorney for detainees.

Officials of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that well-fed detainees gained an average of six pounds, and described mostly benign interrogations based on establishing rapport.

But Democrats said Republicans blocked testimony at the hearing from an attorney for detainees, giving a skewed view of the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which holds about 520 foreign terrorism suspects.

"I think we should hear from people that are dealing with detainees there, not just from our side of the fence," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher (news, bio, voting record), a California Democrat. "I don't think that just using a thin whitewash on this is going to fix it," she said after the hearing.

A number of committee members visited Guantanamo over the weekend as the Pentagon sought to deflect demands that the prison be closed or subjected to an independent review because of allegations of torture and abuse of detainees.

The essential point, to me, about Guantanamo is that we are natuarally good-hearted people and thus care about the treatment of our own prisoners, even those who fairly clearly mean us harm. The essential point of those held at Guantanamo is that they mean us harm, and no goodness on our part will change the mind of those who are held there. There is a possibility that our treatment of prisoners may affect the views of the average Muhammad on the street, but I suspect that unless the treatment is either 5-star quality or nazi quality, the opinions of outsiders won't change very much. So it would seem that the opinions of others is nonessential, as is the notion of "reforming" those held there. Neither one can be changed, and therefore it would be silly to waste time trying such things.

The main thing that can be done here is to get information. Of course we should be as nice as possible, which it seems that we are doing. But it also seems that since such people are probably already toughened to normal interrigations (as the ones you would see used by police), although I suspect that such things happen more often then not. So long as the tougher methods are not too mean and dangerous, while it is unfortunate, it seems to be the only way to get what we need. The two options seem to be to get the info, or to accept the attacks that can't be stopped without it.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 6:26 PM EDT
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Monday, 27 June 2005
Religion has a place.
Mood:  chatty
Supreme Court rules on 10 Commandments
Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected with the inauguration of the first day of each month.

The master said, "Tsze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony".
Confucius 3:17

The majority religion in the days of the Founding of America was Christian, and for many years the laws and morals of the nation were influenced at least culturally by Christianity. Some of the influences can still be viewed in courthouses and capital buildings around America. In these same courtrooms, people take oaths on the Bible (or most people do, there are ways to get around it if your religion forbids oaths or (i think) if it requires you to swear on a different Holy Book). These things are a part of our history and heritage as Americans.

It is foolish to simply throw away our traditions and monuments simply because they are not politically correct today. Traditions matter because they give a country a set of common experiences. Everyone understands where the nation came from and why things are the way they are now. Without a root, the nation would be a tumbleweed doing whatever seemed right at the moment. Knowing that America came from (and for the most part still supports) a Judeo-Christian understanding of law, politics and culture give people an understanding of what sort of laws make sense for America and which sort don't. British laws may not work for us because we are not British. Britain has a completely different history and culture than we do. Even more so between us and Iran or Uraguay or Korea.

Now at the same time, we can't very well go around imposing an orthodox religion. It goes against what America was founded for Freedom of worship is a part of American culture as well. It would be hypocritical of America to claim a heritage of "Freedom of Religion", then go and make a religion official. But a relatively neutral "when America was founded, most people were Christian or Jewish, and this affected our culture" statement doesn't establish a religion. It doesn't say "Hey pagan! You should worship Jesus!" It isn't about the religion even. It's the culture and philosophy of Christianity, not the dogma that gets displayed.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 6:11 PM EDT
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Saturday, 25 June 2005
Seeing Reality
Mood:  spacey
The Tao is eternal but unnamable. Its simplicity though considered as the humblest, is most independant. Nothing in the world is able to bring it into subjection. Tao te Ching 32

The Tao is of course all that is and could be. But I'm not convinced we ever even pay attention to reality. Especially when it comes to things that we care deeply about. I noticed this recently about the so called "Downing Street Memo". Both sides seem to see exactly what they want to see.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based. [2]

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action. [3]

This is the actual "meat" of the memo. The portion through which some people see proof positive of lying to get us into a war, and others see either a fraud or a statement that means essentially "gathered facts to support the war".

The committee's efforts have taken on renewed urgency given recent revelations in the United Kingdom regarding the apparent minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security advisors. These minutes-known as the "Downing Street Memo"-raise troubling questions about the use of intelligence by American policy makers-questions that your committee is uniquely situated to address.

The memo indicates that in the summer of 2002, at a time the White House was promising Congress and the American people that war would be their last resort, that they believed military action against Iraq was "inevitable."

The minutes reveal that President "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The American people took the warnings that the administration sounded seriously-warnings that were echoed at the United Nations and here in Congress as we voted to give the president the authority to go to war. For the sake of our democracy and our future national security, the public must know whether such warnings were driven by facts and responsible intelligence, or by political calculation.

These issues need to be addressed with urgency. This remains a dangerous world, with American forces engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other challenges looming in Iran and North Korea. In this environment, the American public should have the highest confidence that policy makers are using intelligence objectively-never manipulating it to justify war, but always to protect the United States. The contents of the Downing Street Memo undermine this faith and only rigorous Congressional oversight can determine the truth.

We urge the committee to complete the second phase of its investigation with the maximum speed and transparency possible, producing, as it did at the end of Phase I, a comprehensive, unclassified report from which the American people can benefit directly. John Kerry

John Kerry Democrat of Mass. (and the person who lost to Bush most recently. He takes the position that the memo shows that Bush told lies to get us into the Iraq war. As a Democrat, he'd obviously love that intepretation.

Now, read this casually tossed-off memo from a mid-level British government assistant:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

In what has to be the most absurd, clawing, desperate attempt by the "Bush Lied!!1!1!!!!!!1!1!" crowd, the above "Downing Street Memo," unearthed from literally thousands of memos that flew around the Iraq preparations a few years ago, has recently been loudly trumpeted as evidence of a conspiracy to forge and falsify intelligence on Iraq.

Really now: how paranoid, nasty, and stupid can you get? I mean, we all know that Michael Moore or the people at Stormfront could get an entire book or movie out of that, but would any sane or decent person?

Captain Ed makes a mistake by getting distracted by other memos which would render the case questionable, without asking the first and more important question: just how on Earth could that one statement in one memo from a mid-level official be proof of an enormous conspiracy?

Simply apply Occam's Razor here. Which is more likely?

1) Hundreds of intelligence agents and officials and politicians at all levels of the US and British government conspired to forge and falsify intelligence documents in order to justify going to Iraq, and this mid-level guy casually revealed the whole thing in a passing reference in an open, unclassified memo, or,

2) Evidence was being gathered and put into place in support of a proposed policy.

This sort of thing is an important test of maturity. If your standards of what constitutes "lying" are this flimsy, you're not just a partisan hack; you're a shallow, immature, and selfish jerk. Dean Esmay Dean's World

According to Dean, simply taking the postion that the memo might mean that the Bush Admin and the Brits were trying to make facts fit the war they wanted proves that you are "an immature jerk". The memo is vague at this point, but it isn't impossible that this could be the meaning. Notice that this was written by a bush supporter.

Did Lucy Ramirez Find The Downing Street Memos?
The media and the Leftists have had a field day with the Downing Street memos that they claim imply that the Bush administration lied about the intelligence on WMD in order to justify the attack on Iraq. Despite the fact that none of the memos actually say that, none of them quote any officials or any documents, and that the text of the memos show that the British government worried about the deployment of WMD by Saddam against Coalition troops, Kuwait and/or Israel, the meme continues to survive.

Until tonight, however, no one questioned the authenticity of the documents provided by the Times of London. That has now changed, as Times reporter Michael Smith admitted that the memos he used are not originals, but retyped copies (via LGF and CQ reader Sapper):

The eight memos — all labeled "secret" or "confidential" — were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.

The AP obtained copies of six of the memos (the other two have circulated widely). A senior British official who reviewed the copies said their content appeared authentic. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the material.

Readers of this site should recall this set of circumstances from last year. The Killian memos at the center of CBS' 60 Minutes Wednesday report on George Bush' National Guard service supposedly went through the same laundry service as the Downing Street Memos. Bill Burkett, once he'd been outed as the source of the now-disgraced Killian memos, claimed that a woman named Lucy Ramirez provided them to him -- but that he made copies and burned the originals to protect her identity or that of her source.

Why would a reporter do such a thing? While reporters need to protect their sources, at some point stories based on official documents will require authentication -- and as we have seen with the Killian memos, copies make that impossible. The AP gets a "senior British official" to assert that the content "appeared authentic", which only means that the content seems to match what he thinks he knows.

This, in fact, could very well be another case of "fake but accurate", where documents get created after the fact to support preconceived notions about what happened in the past. One fact certainly stands out -- Michael Smith cannot authenticate the copies. And absent that authentication, they lose their value as evidence of anything.Captain's Quaters Captain's Quater

This person is the only one I've been able to find who thinks the memo is fake. He's on the republican side of things and obviously wouldn't want the memos to be real.

The thing is, that if you look at the people who are making these conclusions, every one of them, to a man is coming to the conclusion that he wants to be true. Kerry wants the intelligence to be faked before the war because it makes him look good. The Republican bloggers want the memo to be either innocuous or fake so as their leader Bush is shown to be right. If the evidence was conclusive one way or another, it would be easy to spot. Everyone, Dem, Rep, Hippy, whatever would be able to come to a conclusion of what the phrase in the memo actually means. But they can't because the wording is vague, like an inkblot test. It doesn't tell you anything about whether the WMDs story was a lie. It just tells you what the writer thinks of the war. If he's generally conservative and pro-war, he thinks the memo is at best no big deal and at worst is a fake. If he opposes the war and is generally liberal, the memo is the biggest thing since Watergate.

I'll be honest and tell you -- I have no idea whether the memo is really proof of a lie. I can't even say for sure whether it's real or not. Yes it isn't a thrilling conclusion, but the truth is that no one knows and no one can know whether the memo is the real deal or not. At least not until the people involved can be injected with truth serum.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 9:21 PM EDT
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Friday, 24 June 2005
A modest proposal
Mood:  bright
In governing people and in worshipping heaven, nothing surpasses the Te of restraint Tao te Ching 59

A major problem of both major American parties at the moment is that they both seem happy and content with simply sniping at each other, and in using the events of the day as another load of feces to fling at the enemy. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would like to see it stop, immediately if not sooner.

Right now one watching the news would come away with the impression that the entire American Nation is being run by a collection of 535 4-year olds screeching at the top of their lungs about how horrible and disgusting the other side is.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings," the senator said last week."
Yahoo! News

This isn't the only example:
"Howard Dean is a cruel and extremist demagogue. And Howard Dean is as ignorant on John Ashcroft as he is on national security. If this cruel, loudmouth extremist is the cream of the Democrat crop, next November's going to make the 1984 election look like a squeaker."
Tom DeLay via

"This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."
Howard Dean

"As Commander in Chief of the United States Military, I will never send our sons and daughters and our brothers and sisters to die in a foreign land without telling the truth about why they're going there."
Howard Dean
(Thus implying that the current Commander in Chief is being untruthful about the reasons for the war)

That's it. Neither side seems to have ever heard the term restraint. Restraint can be a great thing. It shows that you have some semblance of constrol over your own life. How can you even expect to be considered a great leader, or even a decent leader, if you can't even pretend to get along with those you are supposed to be sharing power with. Being angry doen't show how powerful you are, it shows how weak and threatened you feel. Think about it. If it didn't threaten you in some way, would you even bother getting upset about it? Of course not. If you got upset over every little thing going wrong, that vein in your forehead would have bust long ago, back when your brother took the happy meal toy you were playing with.

But modern politicians take the opposite approach. "Politics and war are remarkably similar situations."Newt Gingrich . And again "You have to give the press confrontations. When you give them confrontations, you get attention; when you get attention, you can educate."Newt Gingrich . They seem to have the idea that throwing a fit on national TV or the floor of the Senate gets you attention. And to a point, it does. But it's negative attention at best. It makes you look like a child who wants the toy the other kid has, not like a national leader who could solve problems and negotiate with others, like the reast of congress or a forgein state.

On the other hand, what would you think of a man who didn't use every news report as a chance to play "gotcha"? A man who isn't calling the other side names or even proclaim himself "the good guys, fighting the EVIL other side"? Such a person would seem like a natural leader, compared to all the other little boys in the government shouting about how the other side is anti-America or anti-troops or anti-apple pie. He'd seem stronger than the others as well, as being called names by others doesn't bother him.

Therefore the Perfect Sage never asserts his greatness and by so doing attains to true greatness Tao te Ching 63

"McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled."
John McCarthy

True greatness doesn't need to shout. True greatness will be noticed because it gets things done. A person who feels the need to brag about how great they are and how much they are doing probably isn't doing much in the first place. Mother Theresa never bragged about how many poor people she was going to save, she just quietly did it. Eventually people noticed and now she's practically venerated as a saint. John Paul II never claimed to have all the answers, and he got plenty done.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 9:32 PM EDT
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Thursday, 23 June 2005

Mood:  quizzical
More Arabs seeing Insurgency as Terrorism

That's right. For all the people out there who think that we're going to lose because of our "feminized politicized army", treating the Iraqis as human beings may be working. Even Al-Jazeera seems to be reporting these events as being carried out by "gunmen" or "suicide bombers"

One recent attack drew this comment from the al-Jazeera reporter: "Most of the time it's civilians who pay the price for the violence that has cost thousands of their lives".

It is always a huge price for civillians, but if reporting like this continues, the number of bombings should go down. Sooner or later the Iraq government will be in shape to handle the die hards.

A senior al-Arabiya correspondent in Iraq was lucky to survive a shooting last weekend claimed by one militant group, while a statement this week on an Islamist website purportedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group accused al-Jazeera of toeing the American line.

Wow, Al-Jazeera is pro-American now? Help meee! I'm stuck in Wonderland.

Now the bad news

It does seem, however that some of the "veterans of the Iraqi Insurgency" may move on to more hospitable environments.

The classified document says Iraqi and foreign fighters are developing a broad range of skills, from car bombings and assassinations to co-ordinated attacks.

It says these skills may make them more dangerous than fighters from Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s. And the threat may grow when the Iraq insurgency ends and fighters disperse.

This would be a huge problem down the road for other nations once the Iraq War is over. This is a similar process as how Al-qaida was formed in the 1980's. Whether or not these new groups can or will do the same thing as Al-Qaida is yet to be determined. I would hope that they will be dealt with.

Posted by theforce2/gnosis at 12:13 PM EDT
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