Islam and the West-A history shrouded in mystery


It shouldn’t be……Islam has been a constant in the western world just as much as Christianity and the European empires of England, France and Spain, yet far too many people don’t know that about the Islamic religion.  I’ve posted on this blog before the lecture of one American Muslim scholar, Jerald Dirks that relates historical documents about Islam and Muslim interaction with Europeans and indigenous people of North America that dates anything written by contemporary historical scholars.  Here again I post his lecture

Now comes word of the reasons why Thomas Jefferson possessed an English copy of the Quran, which leads me to wonder has anyone asked themselves why would he want one?

Long before Europeans governed Muslim colonies, interest in Islam and its cultures ran high in Europe. Part of the reason was political. Three Muslim empires dominated large parts of Asia: the Ottomans in Anatolia, the Mediterranean and Arabia; the Safavids in Persia; and the Mughals in India.

These Muslim dynasties were not just powerful but were also admired for their refined arts and culture — music, poetry, gardens, ceramics and textiles. Moreover, books in Arabic offered knowledge of many fields to those who learned the language. Not just the sciences and philosophy but even Arabic literature enticed European translators. Thus, in 1704 a Frenchman first translated the “1001 Nights,” whose tales soon became an enduring classic of European as well as of Arabic letters.

Above all else, the religion of Islam itself seemed an especially compelling field of inquiry to a variety of European scholars and thinkers. How had a handful of Muslims emerged from the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century to conquer so much of the known world? This was one of the great questions of world history, as both the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire and the English historian Edward Gibbon agreed. In addition, philosophers and freethinking Christians deemed the central tenet of Islam, the unity of God, more rational than the mystery of the Christian Trinity. Thus, many different Europeans attributed singular importance to Islam and the language of its revelation, Arabic.

George Bush today


Jewish Bible InstituteImagine, we elected this man as president twice!  He couldn’t bring on the apocalypse as president so he’s trying to do it as an ex-president?

Next week, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization’s goal: to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.

Bush would not be able to engage in such activity as president because it certainly be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state rights but pursuing such an agenda as a private citizen can only make one ask is this the true George W. Bush?  But isn’t this what Christianity believes, that no one can be saved unless they accept Jesus as their savior?  In that regard Bush is doing nothing more than what his religion demands.  The notion that people aren’t good enough as they already are however, is an idea that has to be abandoned if we are to live as citizens of America.

Terrorism rears its ugly head again


This time it was in a mall in New Jersey state.  We were fortunate no one was killed except the terrorist, but he leaves behind a thousand or more on the scene people who will never be the same and a society that is losing this war of attrition on its collective psyche finds itself unnerved again at how unsafe ordinary activity has become.

shoopA 20 year old young white man using his brother’s firearm decided to terrorize the citizens at Westfield Garden State Plaza because, some say, he wanted to die.  What’s troublesome is the way in which he chose suicide….by scaring, frightening, terrorizing Americans.  He probably didn’t consider himself a terrorist; most white people don’t and that begs the question why don’t they?  I think I found the answer

They (white males) didn’t start out mad. No, they were driven crazy by the sense that the world had spun so far off its axis that there was no hope of righting it. Underneath that sense of victimhood, that sense that the corporations and the government were coconspirators in perpetrating the great fleecing of the American common man, lay a defining despair in making things right. And under that despair lay their tragic flaw, a deep and abiding faith in America, in its institutions and its ideals….. they believed that if they worked hard and lived right, they, too, could share in the American Dream. When it is revealed that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, that dreams are for Disneyland, then they morph into a tragic American Everymen, defeated by circumstances instead of rising above them.

In the near–ghost towns of America’s factory cities, white workers seethe into their beers, wondering where it all went wrong—and how it all went to hell so fast. Perhaps more menacingly, some of these obedient men have now been replaced by violent men, who lash out at their spouses, while their sons learn their lessons well, as they drive through suburban neighborhoods looking for immigrants to beat up, and even to kill…..

The white working class and the white middle class have rarely been so close emotionally as they are today; together they have drifted away from unions, from big government, from the Democratic Party, into the further reaches of the right wing. Together they listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. And together they watched Brad Pitt initiate Ed Norton into “Fight Club,” searching for something— anything—that would feel authentic, that would feel real. Middle-and working-class white men—well, they just are beginning to actually understand each other.

Add to this mix belief by far too many that Democrats, government and America’s first black President are intent on taking away their guns along with their  money and redistributing their wealth to those who don’t deserve….to those who they fear…..to Americans who they consider a threat to their very existence, then you can see why and how America’s white males strike out in ways that are reminiscent of terrorism. Yet because we don’t label these acts of murder and mayhem what they are, there is no need on the part of anyone to denounce them…far from it.  In fact to do so with an emphasis on the method of terrorism has been vehemently opposed by people on the right because it strikes too close to their notions of gun control.  So we are stuck in a cycle of violence, some say it is as American as apple pie, and terrorism and has been the case for most of our existence as a Nation, our biggest threat is ourselves.

 

What is offensive about this picture?


snorestop-hed-2013Evidently some in America don’t like the imagery of an American soldier hugging a niqaabi clad woman in this snorestop advertisement that’s appearing in California.  Too many of us are still in the business of deciding for others who they can and cannot mate with.  Perhaps that is the discontent many have with Obama; the thought that a white woman would actually have sex with an African man and produce a child that would be as competitive in the western world as any  white child is too fearful a thought for some.

America is too culturally diverse today to have such limitations placed on people and their choices. There are Americans embracing Islam and Muslim women/men are marrying them and many of them are in the US military. Neither act, accepting a religious belief and being American or in the service of your country  is mutually exclusive unless you’re a bigot who believes in really antiquated notions of racial superiority being diluted with co-mingling.

Meet the players behind the picture

Don’t think for one minute these people are serious about their jobs


113th CongressBecause they aren’t!!  I’m not being facetious, I’m serious.  The Republican controlled House, the Party currently running and ruining the show in Washington is NOT serious about governance, compromise, bipartisanship, ANYTHING except collecting their paycheck.  The party dedicated to reducing the budget, cutting entitlements, waste, fraud and everything else is one of the biggest loafers, welfare recipients to drain the government coffers and they do so by merely showing up for work and doing absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Remember this?  It was a year ago we brought you the work calendar for the House of Representatives which showed members of that body working a total of 126 days for all of 2013.  That’s a little over 4 months out of the year! Four!  Luckily they were scheduled to work two weeks in September and two weeks before the debt extension deadline but the week of the deadline date itself they were scheduled to be off!! They’ve gone and done one better for 2014.  Next year they’ve lopped off 13 days from their work schedule and will only work 113 days next year.  That’s less than 4 months out of the year. Take a look for yourself house-schedule-2014Last year I wrote

They (members of the House) are scheduled to work for only 126 days for a yearly salary of $174000. That’s almost half the number of days the average American works for a whole lot more money.  In other words, they work half as long as we do and get paid more…..and that’s if you’re just a normal member of Congress.  Cantor gets $19,000 more or $193,000 and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner gets $223,000 yearly….all to obfuscate and obstruct Obama’s legislative agenda to the detriment of the country.

Jed Lewison, writing for Daily Kos put up an interesting graphic comparing the congressional work schedule with that of the average American and the comparison is stark.  If you think there’s anyone in Congress who is a champion of your rights and values, unless you’re a crook, thief or Wall Street banker you should disinvest yourself of that notion right now.  Like anyone else who gets away with murder, or robbery, members of Congress are quite content to do as little as possible for as much as they can get! workcalendaranimated3second

This man deserves his props


Jason R. ThigpenI don’t know him, but I like what he’s written

After discussing it with my wife and family, I’ve decided to run as a Democrat rather than a Republican. I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people. Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line. We’ve received some wonderful support by numerous leaders and members within the NC GOP, as the vast majority of Republicans are wonderful, hard-working people that don’t agree with those radical nut-jobs either but unfortunately the extremists in the party, with their ‘burn it all down’ philosophy, appear to be the ones turning out the majority of voters in the primaries and mid-term elections. And I want the people to know there is a choice.

Jason R. Thigpen

The new face of terrorism


Paul Anthony CianciaNo one yet is calling  Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, a terrorist even though he walked into Los Angeles airport and shot three people, killing one, and the reason he’s not being called one is he cannot be directly tied to Islam or Muslims but that’s what he is.

We in America have politicized crime…only Muslims can be terrorists like only white homophobic men/women can commit hate crimes and in making this statement have diminished the criminal activity of the likes of Ciancia.  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, Muslims, who won’t be blamed for this assault on America,  government and law enforcement officials, who won’t have to answer questions of how did this murderer escape their scrutiny that billions of dollars in their budgets is supposed to protect us from and perhaps even the general public, glad to be spared the hand wringing, woe and fear that attacks said to target their way of life brings …everyone except the innocent victims of Ciancia’s murderous, terrorist rampage…… all because we failed to use one word to describe him. Fix this America!

Contributing to a false sense of security


Ted CruzIt’s incredible someone would even put this in print!!

Tea Party favorites Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Larry Klayman spent most of last week bashing Muslims and introducing the “Quran” and “Allah” to the shutdown and debt ceiling debate that they are losing in Congress.

Unfortunately for them, Muslims are in fact more popular and viewed more favorably by Americans than the far right movement.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, but it makes for good headlines.  It also has the effect of luring people into a false sense of security, making them think that things aren’t really as bad as they seem, when in fact they are much worse!

It was the GOP’s failure to stand together, he [Ted Cruz]said, that killed the effort to defund Obamacare.

“We didn’t accomplish our ultimate policy goal in this battle, and we didn’t because unfortunately a significant number of Senate Republicans chose not to unite and stand side by side with House Republicans,” he said. “Had we stood together I’m convinced the outcome of this fight would be very, very different. But listen, none of us ever thought that taking on the Washington establishment was going to be easy.”

He added: “Right now I’m more encouraged than ever.”

As Cruz took the stage, the audience greeted him with a 36-second standing ovation.

To many members of the #DemonicGOP Cruz et.al are the saviors of the GOP not its nemesis and you can be sure they will keep driving the theme that they are needed to resurrect a dying party from stale, old leadership and they’ll continue to do so with bigotry and demagoguery the likes of which we haven’t seen in American politics for a long time.

Protest or parody


women driversWomen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been asking for the right to drive for sometime and it culminated in a recent protest whereby they took to the wheel of vehicles and drove them without official permission.  However, such protests aren’t without some risks to those involved or for those who might tacitly support the protest.

Hisham Fageeh, a Saudi-American made a video whose timing coincides with the women’s protest but I leave it up to you whether it is in support of the protest or of the government’s position on the subject of women as drivers.  No doubt Fageeh is well aware of how  the Kingdom handles dissent or the ridiculous lengths the monarch goes to persuade women NOT to want to drive.  I’m a bit incredulous but does driving really damage women’s ovaries?!?!

 

 

UPDATE

At least 16 Saudi women have received fines for taking the wheel on a day set by activists to defy the kingdom’s traditional ban on female driving, police and reports said on Sunday.

Only few women braved official threats of punishment and drove on Saturday in response to an online campaign headlined “Women’s driving is a choice”.

“Police stopped six women driving in Riyadh, and fined them 300 riyals (Dh293.67) each,” said the capital’s police deputy spokesman, Colonel Fawaz Al Miman.

Each of the women, along with her male guardian — who could be a father, husband, brother, uncle, or grandson — had to “sign a pledge to respect the kingdom’s laws”, Miman told AFP.

In Jeddah, police also fined two women for driving, according to the Red Sea city’s police spokesman, Nawaf Al Bouq.

Saudi newspapers, meanwhile, reported that six women were stopped by police in the Eastern Province, and at least two others were stopped in other parts of the kingdom.

A dozen Saudi women posted videos on the Twitter account of the campaign, @oct26driving, showing themselves driving.

Activists had originally issued a call on social media networks for women across the kingdom to drive their cars on Saturday to challenge the ban.

Some say they received telephone calls from the interior ministry asking them to promise they would not drive on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the ministry said it would act against anyone who attempts to “disturb public peace” by congregating or marching “under the pretext of an alleged day of female driving”.

The next day ministry spokesman General Mansour Al Turki told AFP: “It is known that women in Saudi are banned from driving and laws will be applied against violators and those who demonstrate in support” of this cause.

Activists say Saturday was chosen as a “symbolic” date as part of efforts first launched more than a decade ago to press for the right to drive.

The absolute monarchy is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving. Public gatherings are officially banned.

……and the beat goes on.

A Common Foe


Donning a blond wig, Laurel Borowich did the dishes after dinner. Chappaqua, N.Y. February 2013.

Donning a blond wig, Laurel Borowich did the dishes after dinner. Chappaqua, N.Y. February 2013.

I have railed against this disease for as long as I can remember and in the after glow of what some may consider a victory against the dark forces of conservatism, I would like to remind all that “death” is a common enemy  that has enlisted cancer as one of its allies.  I know we can’t win the war with death but I would like to think we can win one battle with it; our lives and the lives of people we love depends on it.  So any politician who wants to demagogue on an issue let him or  her pick this one; let them pick a fight with cancer and stir up the emotions of the public against it in order to defeat it once and for all.  Let us hang it publicly as we did Saddam Hussein in 2006 so that it becomes a dark and distant memory in our collective consciousness.

You must read this about FauxPas News


Inside the Fox News lie machine: I fact-checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare

I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.

As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.

“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.

But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.

I decided to hit the pavement. I tracked down Hannity’s guests, one by one, and did my own telephone interviews with them.hannity-obamacare1

First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.

Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.

There is only one Obamacare requirement that applies to a company of this size: workers must be notified of the existence of the “healthcare.gov” website, the insurance exchange. That’s all.

Next I called Allison Denijs.  She’d told Hannity that she pays over $13,000 a year in premiums. Like the other guests, she said she had recently gotten a letter from Blue Cross saying that her policy was being terminated and a new, ACA-compliant policy would take its place. She says this shows that Obama lied when he promised Americans that we could keep our existing policies.

Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes.  One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $600 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to around $20,000 a year.

I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.

I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.

acaAllison also told me that the letter she received from Blue Cross said that in addition to the policy change for ACA compliance, in the new policy her physician network size might be reduced.  That’s something insurance companies do to save money, with or without Obamacare on the horizon, just as they raise premiums with or without Obamacare coming.

If Allison’s choice of doctor was denied her through Obamacare then, yes, she could have a claim that Obamacare has hurt her. But she’d also have thousands of dollars in her pocket that she didn’t have before.

Finally, I called Robbie and Tina Robison from Franklin, Tenn.  Robbie is self-employed as a Christian youth motivational speaker. (You can see his work here.) On Hannity, the couple said that they, too, were recently notified that their Blue Cross policy would be expiring for lack of ACA compliance. They told Hannity that the replacement plans Blue Cross was offering would come with a rate increase of 50 percent or even 75 percent, and that the new offerings would contain all sorts of benefits they don’t need, like maternity care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so forth.  Their kids are grown and moved out, so why should they be forced to pay extra for a health plan with superfluous features?

When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy that will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.

Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, 63 percent less than their current bill.  It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.

It’s true that we don’t know for sure whether certain ills conservatives have warned about will occur once Obamacare is fully enacted. For example, will we truly have the same freedom to choose a physician that we have now? Will a surplus of insured patients require a scaling back (or “rationing,” as some call it) of provided healthcare services?  Will doctors be able to spend as much time with patients? These are all valid, unanswered questions. The problem is that people like Sean Hannity have decided to answer them now, without evidence. Or worse, with fake evidence.

I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster; but none of them had even visited the insurance exchange. And some of them appear to have taken actions (Paul Cox, for example) based on a general pessimistic belief about Obamacare. He’s certainly entitled to do so, but Hannity is not entitled to point to Paul’s behavior as an “Obamacare train wreck story” and maintain any credibility that he might have as a journalist.

Strangely, the recent shutdown was based almost entirely on a small percentage of Congress’s belief that Obamacare, as Ted Cruz puts it, “is destroying America.”  Cruz has rarely given us an example of what he’s talking about.  That’s because the best he can do is what Hannity did—exploit people’s ignorance and falsely point to imaginary boogeymen.

For those who might have thought FoxNews was a legitimate news organization)

Eid al-Adha photos


There are some nice photographs of Muslims celebrating eid al-adha in 2012 the world over.  Photos like this one of Muslims in Lagos, Nigeria nigeriaare worth your attention.  Go here to look at the rest of the pictures that depict the diversity of the Muslim community.

Closed for business


shutdownAmerica has been closed for business for quite a long time.  Well before President Obama’s second term began, the #DemonicGop decided the only thing it was going to do was obstruct any initiatives taken by the either party, Democrats or non #DemonicGOP members, in order to make the Obama administration look inept and incompetent even if it was to the detriment to their own party or the American people.  Ultimately the purpose is to show any future aspirants to power that power is reserved for only a few in American society….people of color or faith need not apply, and in case you forget remember what happened to Obama.

The #DemonicGOP is not without help in their agenda.  A #sycophanticMedia has gone a long way to legitimize the fraud coming from the opposition party and leading to the shutdown.  In fact some among the #sycophanticMedia have used terms like “slimdown” to water down the impact of the lunacy coming out of Washington.  But if you really want to know what’s going you’ll have to look beyond the #sycophanticMedia into what’s being said like this

Joan Walsh nods:

On the day the Affordable Care Act takes effect, the U.S. government is shut down, and it may be permanently broken. You’ll read lots of explanations for the dysfunction, but the simple truth is this: It’s the culmination of 50 years of evolving yet consistent Republican strategy to depict government as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else. The fact that everything came apart under our first African-American president wasn’t an accident, it was probably inevitable.

BillClintonI’d say it came apart during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the first sign of madness when the Democrats first truly wielded power after the Southern Strategy bore fruit under Reagan. Remember that Clinton was from the beginning regarded as illegitimate because he didn’t get more than 43 percent of the vote. Let us recall Bob Dole’s wordsafter Clinton’s 1992 clear electoral college victory:

There isn’t any Clinton mandate. Fifty-seven percent didn’t vote for him. I’ll represent the 57 percent.

Or Tommy Thompson with an equally surreal view of the Constitution:

Only 43 percent of the people voted for Bill Clinton — that is not much of a mandate. . . . Republicans won nine legislative houses across the country. . . . Republicans have just as much of a mandate as the Democrats.

When you compare this with the Republican view of the 2000 election when George W Bush lost the popular vote and, undeterred by any sense of restraint, doubled down on massive unfunded tax cuts and pre-emptive wars along with budget-busting new entitlements, you get a better sense of who feels entitled to rule in this country, and who is routinely regarded as “illegitimate.”

Now, of course, this merely suggests that it is simply being Democrats that render the last two Democratic presidents inherently illegitimate – since only one was African-American. But remember how Clinton was regarded as “the first black president” by many, including those on the left? Remember his early days fighting for civil rights in Arkansas? You think a white Southerner overturning the success of the Southern Strategy would be deemed acceptable to the Southern right which increasingly dominated the GOP?

Nonetheless, Charles C. W. Cooke rightly notes:

Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush, all of whom presided over fractious shutdowns, might find this insinuation rather perplexing. In the last 40 years, only President George W. Bush was spared such a conflict.

The one president whose legitimacy was actually in some actual doubt escaped the revolt entirely. Hmmm. Quod erat demonstrandum.

More to the point, the other shutdowns were not about demanding the repeal of an already-enacted, constitutionally-approved signature achievement of a re-elected president – only a few years after a massive financial crisis and during a global recession. They were bargaining positions in which both sides had something to offer and a compromise to reach. All the GOP has to offer this time is … shutting down the government. This is not negotiation; it’s blackmail. And blackmail after all the proper avenues for stopping, amending, delaying and reforming the health bill have been exhausted. I mean they repealed the bill 41 times already – proof positive that all constitutional means for opposition have been exhausted. That‘s what makes this different. It’s not about playing hard by the rules. It’s losing and throwing the board-game in the air and threatening the destruction of the US and global economy in consequence. It’s unbelievable.

But when I mention race, I should unpack my point. It’s not a simple one, and I do not mean to be glib or too casual in throwing that word around.obamaracism

I’m talking about the difference between opposition to a president’s agenda and a belief that he is somehow an impostor, illegitimate, and a usurper for reasons that seem, in the end, to come down to racial and cultural panic.Do I have to recount the endless accusations against Obama of such?  No president has been subjected to endless litigation of his birth certificate or his religious faith (as if the latter mattered anyway). No president has been heckled in a State of the Union address with the words “You lie!” as Obama was. There was no claim that George W Bush was illegitimate because he muscled through a huge Medicare expansion as he was destroying this country’s fiscal standing having lost the popular vote to Al Gore. The Democrats didn’t threaten to shut the government down to stop anything he did. And no Republican, facing a major economic crisis, has received zero votes from the opposition in his first year. Both Bushes and Reagan won considerable Democratic support for tax cuts and tax hikes in their early years. The opposition accepted the legitimacy of the election. That’s the difference.

But Clinton was nonetheless regarded as illegitimate despite being what in any other era would be called a moderate Republican. Ditto Obama, whose stimulus and healthcare law were well within conservative policy consensus only a decade ago. I supported both presidents as a moderate small-c conservative (until Clinton revealed himself as sadly lacking the character not to self-implode). So I have long been puzzled not by legitimate opposition to various policies but by the frenzy of it. Call it the education of an English conservative in the long tortured history of American pseudo-conservatism.

In the end, I could only explain the foam-flecked frenzy of opposition to Clinton and Obama by the sense that the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s was the defining event for a certain generation, that the backlash to it was seen as a restoration of the right people running the country (i.e. no minorities with real clout), and that Clinton’s and even more Obama’s victories meant this narrative was revealed as an illusion. This is compounded by racial and cultural panic – against gays, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos etc – and cemented by a moronic, literalist, utterly politicized version of Christianity. This mindset – what I have called the “fundamentalist psyche” – is what is fueling the rage. It’s what fueled the belief that Romney was on the verge of a landslide. It is inherently irrational. It knows somewhere deep down that it is headed for defeat. But it will take down as much of the country, economy and constitution as it can while doing so.

For this time, as they surely know, Reconstruction will not be on their terms. They have no agenda because the multi-racial, multi-cultural, moderate-right country they live in is a refutation of their core identity. So race and culture fuel this – perhaps not explicitly or even consciously for some, but surely powerfully for many. And we are reaching a perilous moment as their cultural marginalization intensifies and their political defeat nears. After that, the rage could become truly destabilizing, unless some kind of establishment Republican leadership can learn to lead again. America and the world need to batten down the hatches.

 

There’s this shellacking for members of the #sycophanticMedia

U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.gov't suicide

When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)

And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it. The last shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, were not the product of unilateral demands to scrap existing law; they took place during a period of give-and-take budget negotiations. obstructionism

But the political media’s aversion to doing anything that might be seen as taking sides — combined with its obsession with process — led them to actively obscure the truth in their coverage of the votes. If you did not already know what this was all about, reading the news would not help you understand.

What makes all this more than a journalistic failure is that the press plays a crucial role in our democracy. We count on the press to help create an informed electorate. And perhaps even more important, we rely on the press to hold the powerful accountable.

That requires calling out political leaders when they transgress or fail to meet commonly agreed-upon standards: when they are corrupt, when they deceive, when they break the rules and refuse to govern. Such exposure is the first consequence. When the transgressions are sufficiently grave, what follows should be continued scrutiny, marginalization, contempt and ridicule.

In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on.

But the lack of accountability is arguably even worse because it has the characteristics of a cascade failure. When the media coverage seeks down-the-middle neutrality despite one party’s outlandish conduct, there are no political consequences for their actions. With no consequences for extremism, politicians who have succeeded using such conduct have an incentive to become even more extreme. The more extreme they get, the further the split-the-difference press has to veer from common sense in order to avoid taking sides. And so on.

The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.  corporate-news-poster

Instead journalists have been suckered into embracing “balance” and “neutrality” at all costs, and the consequences of their choice in an era of political extremism will only get worse and worse.

One of the great ironies of the current dynamic is that political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, who for decades were conventional voices of plague-on-both-your-houses centrism, have now become among the foremost critics of a press corps that fails to report the obvious. They describe the modern Republican Party, without any hesitation, as “a party beholden to ideological zealots.”

But as Mann explained in an interview last year, “The mainstream press really has such a difficult time trying to cope with asymmetry between the two parties’ agendas and connections to facts and truth.”

Even with a story as straightforward as the government shutdown, splitting the difference remains the method of choice for the political reporters and editors in Washington’s most influential news bureaus. Even when they surely know better. Even when many Republican elected officials have criticized their own leaders for being too beholden to the more radical right wing.

Media critics — and members of the public — have long decried this kind of he-said-she-said reporting. The Atlantic’s James Fallows, one of the most consistent chroniclers and decriers of false equivalence, describes it as the “strong tendency to give equal time and credence to varying ‘sides’ of a story, even if one of the sides is objectively true and the other is just made up.”

New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen argues that truth telling has been surpassed as a newsroom priority by a neither-nor impartiality he calls the “view from nowhere.”

Blaming everyone — Congress, both sides, Washington — is simply the path of least resistance for today’s political reporters. It’s a way of avoiding conflict rather than taking the risk that the public — or their editors — will accuse them of being unprofessionally partisan.

But making a political judgment through triangulation — trying to stake out a safe middle ground between the two political parties — is still making a political judgment. It is often just not a very good one. And in this case, as in many others, it is doing the country a grave disservice.

So, no, the shutdown is not generalized dysfunction or gridlock or stalemate. It is aberrational behavior by a political party that is willing to take extreme and potentially damaging action to get its way. And by not calling it what it is, the political press is enabling it.

We need a more fearless media.

Is there more to say than that?

Where have we heard this before?


Saw this in one of the papers I read now and then and my jaw hit the floor

Illiteracy dashes hopes of democracy in Egypt

voterand thought to myself if you replace a few words like “minorities” instead of “illiteracy” and “America” instead of “Egypt” you’d have the typical #DemonicGOP talking point.  Haven’t we already seen how, through legislation, restricting voter registration and electoral participation has been a staple of the GOP nationwide?

We’ve mentioned before how Egyptian politics mimics American paranoia and  hysteria as Egyptian elites try to minimize or completely eradicate Islamists from their body politic with talk of unbelievable Muslim Brotherhood plots  straight from Tea Party fairy tales (manuals).  Talking about a segment of the population who negatively affects the electoral process is another talking point Egyptians have copied from American politicians…..and via their media no less.  Take a gander

 In a country where illiterate people constitute one-third of eligible voters, the concept of free elections is worrisome.

Nearly 16 million among the 53 million eligible voters cannot even read or write. Therefore, some liberal politicians believe there is no hope for democracy….

In a country where illiterate people constitute one-third of eligible voters, the concept of free elections is worrisome.

Nearly 16 million among the 53 million eligible voters cannot even read or write. Therefore, some liberal politicians believe there is no hope for democracy…

“It is a frustrating reality, but it could be changed with some planning and work on the ground. As the statistics indicate, only 45 per cent of registered voters went to vote and 4 million Egyptians rejected the idea of a religious state. We need to mobilise the 10 million Egyptians who support a civic state in the next voting for the new constitution, the parliament and the president,” added (Al Sayed Yassin, a veteran writer and consultant at Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies)

Do you not hear the strains of allowing only certain groups of people participation in  the voting process?  Does this not sound like Egyptians are being set up for poll taxes and literacy tests of a Jim Crow America; ideas that may become in vogue for a new America as well.  We know that in the name of democracy one of the largest political parties in Egypt will be outlawed and forbidden to participate in government but now it seems Egyptian elites want to call for disallowing large segments of Egyptians from participating as well.   Once again we see a parallel universe between Egyptian and American politics with fear being the catalyst for insane and anti-democratic processes disguised in the name of democracy.

UPDATE

For examples of the types of literacy tests voters Egyptians could face take a look here  at what Americans once faced.  Such tests weren’t designed to assess literacy rather they were designed to not allow targeted populations from participating in  governance.

Looka’ here


Found this article floating around Facebook and thought it a harbinger of things to come in America.  Women in western societies are accepting Islam absent male influence; they are deciding on their own to embrace a religion that many see as oppressive to women and women’s rights, yet in doing so making a statement that they want to decide their future, their relationships independently and in their own way.  That’s what western societies offer their citizens…the right to choose, and it seems so long as freedom of religion is not criminalized like other free choices that used to be available to women….the number of women who embrace Islam will most likely increase for the time being.

However, this young woman’s life choices seems to be a precursor to becoming Muslim.  Reading her story might make it easier for objective observers to see why women in America accept Islam

hijabi

I am an American non-Muslim woman who has chosen to wear the hijab. Yes, you did read that correctly! I am not conducting an experiment on what the hijab is like or trying to explore the lives of Muslims. I have made a permanent life decision to only show my face and hands while in public, and I love it!

When I was younger, I found the hijab to be beautiful, but unfortunately I thought that a lot of the myths about the hijab were true, and so I was daunted by it. When I started college I studied Arabic and made friends with the Muslim students in my classes. A few of the girls wore a hijab, and even though I liked the look of it and respected their right to wear it, I thought that it was oppressive.

Unfortunately, around the same time, I began to notice that some of the men at my university would openly speak about their female classmates as though they were moving pieces of meat. I would often have to hear stories that I rather wouldn’t about what these boys would like to do to this girl or that one, and I began to notice their looks. Before entering university, I would catch men looking at me in an inappropriate way from time to time, and I would just ignore it, but after hearing these conversations and feeling their many looks, I couldn’t just ignore it anymore.

I mentioned how I felt to some of my classmates, and often I got responses like “boys will be boys,” or “it’s just their biology, they can’t help their behavior.” At the time, I bought these responses, and I thought that my discomfort was just my problem. I thought that these people had a right to behave the way they were, and I had no right to try and stop them. When I got engaged, this all changed.

My fiance is my soulmate. We met in junior high and were friends for years before we began dating. He had asked me out a few times before then, and even though I turned him down, he always behaved around me in a respectful way. It was because of how he always treated me that I eventually agreed to go out with him. The day he proposed to me is, so far, the happiest day of my life. Once I made the decision to make a lifelong commitment to him and only him, it seemed obvious that no one had the right to treat me like their sex object. Whenever I would notice someone looking at me inappropriately, I no longer felt uncomfortable, I felt outraged! But I still had no idea what I could do about it.

couple

Finally, one day I saw one of my hijabi friends at school and ran over to say hi to her. She started to walk towards me, and for some reason I was just struck by her. She was wearing a scarf and an abayaa like she normally did, but in that moment she looked regal and powerful. In my mind I thought, “Wow, I want to look just like that.” I started researching the hijab, and I learned more about why Muslims wear a hijab, what makes a hijab a hijab, and how to wrap scarves. I watched youtube videos, browsed online hijab shops (including Haute Hijab) and the more I saw the more I was impressed by how these hijabi women exuded class and elegance. I wanted so much be like these women, and couldn’t get the hijab out of my mind. I even started dreaming about it!

There were many things I liked about the hijab. I liked the thought of having so much control over my body and how the outside world saw it, but what I also liked was how well it fit with my feminist beliefs. As a feminist I believe that women and men should be equals in society, and that the norm of treating women like sex objects is a form of unequal and unfair treatment. Women in American society are looked down upon if they don’t dress in order to be attractive for others, but I believe that women shouldn’t have to conform to some ridiculous and unattainable standard of beauty. The hijab is a way to be free of that.

However, the way the hijab best complemented my feminist beliefs was how it was about so much more than women’s clothing. As I understood it, the hijab is about how men and women should interact while in public. Men also dress in a non-revealing way, and both men and women are supposed to treat each other with respect. I was happy to learn that both men and women were expected to be responsible for their own actions, and impressed at how egalitarian the ideals of the hijab are.

At this point, I was certain that I wanted to wear a hijab, but I had a problem. I was afraid that wearing a hijab as a non-muslim would be offensive, and I was too afraid to ask my friends. I found one youtube video on the subject, and though it said that it wouldn’t be offensive, I still wasn’t sure. But eventually, after weeks of thinking about the hijab, I finally asked one of my friends. She told me that she wouldn’t be offended, and then pointed out that Muslims aren’t the only ones who wear headscarves, many Jews and Christians do as well.

I started wearing it off and on for a few weeks after that, and once I felt comfortable I always wore it when I left home. Soon after, I left for an internship in Jordan. I was afraid that the Jordanians would not like that I was wearing a hijab, but quickly after I got off the plane I found otherwise! When I told people that I was an American non-Muslim, they were excited to see that I wore a hijab. People often told me that they thought it was a very good thing that I was wearing it, and some people were touched that I would show such respect to their culture. Best of all, I will never forget the sight of a fully grown man jumping with excitement because I was wearing a jilbab! These memories will always bring warmth to my heart, and they give me strength back in the states when I have to deal with angry glares or awkward questions about my hijab.

Sometimes I will still catch men looking at me in a disrespectful way, but I take joy in knowing that though they may try, they still cannot see what they want to. Because of the hijab, I understand that my body is my right, and I will be forever grateful to the Muslim women who taught that to me.

 

 

Power, politics and religion-how race is still very much a problem in America


This article resonated so deeply with me I had to share it.

nypd-muslims-350

Recently news broke of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) unbridled, secret surveillance of Muslim communities and organizations, monitoring intimate aspects of people’s lives and designating entire mosques as terrorist organizations without evidence. I reacted to this with a familiar combination of rage and fatigue.

In an interview on Huffington Post, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York expressed a similar lack of surprise, while calling these police practices a “new low.”

The NYPD’s approach to counterterrorism policing seems to start from a place that all Muslims are inherently suspect, raising serious civil rights and safety concerns… Subjecting whole communities to blanket surveillance because of their faith is not good policing. These tactics alienate law-abiding Muslims and deepen mistrust between law enforcement and communities. That breakdown in communication puts all New Yorkers at risk.

The criminalization of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities has become appallingly, shockingly normalized in the War on Terror. For a decent yet disturbing roundup of the policies of terror waged against AMEMSA communities since 9/11, check out this article. The writer does a pretty good job of summarizing, but he also makes a common mistake, attributing the origins of this story to 9/11. In reality, the beginnings are much older.

Nineteenth Century western imperialism created false human hierarchies to justify white supremacy. It used these racial hierarchies to rationalize war, genocide, and slavery – strategies that led to the buildup of wealth and power for some through the hyper-exploitation and destruction of others. The criminalization of AMEMSA communities today is rooted in the idea of a permanent, foreign threat to American interests that demands a constant state of war. This is a centuries-old, divided view of the world into two realms: civilized and uncivilized, friend and foe. In claiming to protect the civilized realm from harm, the United States manipulates ideas of “freedom” and “democracy”, while in fact putting these goals out of reach for entire groups of people through militarized violence, criminalization and policing.

The NYPD’s police practices are also rooted in slavery and anti-black racism. After the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, slavery had officially ended and blacks were granted citizenship. But brutal legal systems of racial control in the South granted broad police powers to regulate all aspects of black life. States throughout the South passed so-called Black Codes – laws restricting black people’s right to own property, conduct business, buy and lease land, and move freely through public spaces.

Fast forward a century later, to Nixon’s War on Crime and War on Drugs, declared after the passage of federal Civil Rights legislation. Just as the federal government yielded to demands for an end to racial discrimination, these domestic wars kicked off the massive expansion of a racialized criminal justice system that scholar Michelle Alexander now aptly calls The New Jim Crow. Today, there are more black people under the control of the criminal justice system than there were enslaved in 1850, and the United States is by far the largest jailor in the world. As for the reasons behind Nixon’s War on Crime, contrary to popular belief, scholar Naomi Murakawa points out, the “US did not confront a crime problem that was then racialized[;] it confronted a race problem that was then criminalized” – a race problem rooted in the formation of the United States. Throughout U.S. history, every step toward black liberation has been met with a countering surge in anti-black violence and criminalization.

This history raises important questions for the racial justice movement about the meaning of words like democracy, freedom, and security, when U.S. projects claiming to advance these aims clearly undermine them in reality. As acts of self-defense, we are often tempted to fall back on phrases like “law-abiding” and “hard-working” to distinguish ourselves and assert our rights, or to make overly visible gestures of patriotism like flag-waving and participation in U.S. wars. But these very words and actions feed into the divisions between “us” and “them,” between “friend” and “foe,” between “deserving” and “undeserving” – divisions that have life-threatening impacts for the most vulnerable peoples of the world, both within and beyond U.S. borders.

From the War on Crime to the War on Drugs to the War on Terror, increasingly, this us-versus-them way of sorting humanity is what “makes” race today, by dictating whose lives are safeguarded by the alleged American promise of freedom and democracy, and whose are not; and by normalizing the brutality of criminalization, mass incarceration, and war.

 

Before we go any further, lets reflect on the past


WMDs & Saddam

We’ve been here before haven’t we.  In the lead up to the Iraqi war….both of them….we heard politicians we trusted come out and declare that the foe of the day was complicit in crimes against humanity or some such charge drastic enough to call for American intervention.  In both cases we found out later, after many lives were lost and a lot of damage inflicted on innocent people the charges were not true.  Before we embark on another potential mis-adventure let’s take time to rehash what happened to the last Middle East tyrant we both embraced and deposed

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen,Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

Chemical_weapon1According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons’ use — even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly civilians.

Officials were also warned that Iran might launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East, including terrorist strikes, if it believed the United States was complicit in Iraq’s chemical warfare campaign.

“As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings,” the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. “Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international law.”

At the time, the military attaché’s office was following Iraqi preparations for the offensive using satellite reconnaissance imagery, Francona told Foreign Policy. According to a former CIA official, the images showed Iraqi movements of chemical materials to artillery batteries opposite Iranian positions prior to each offensive.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attaché in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as “GA”) against Iranian forces in southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq’s chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. “If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border,” the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

The CIA noted in one document that the use of nerve agent “could have a significant impact on Iran’s human wave tactics, forcing Iran to give up that strategy.” Those tactics, which involved Iranian forces swarming against conventionally armed Iraqi positions, had proved decisive in some battles. In March 1984, the CIA reported that Iraq had “begun using nerve agents on the Al Basrah front and likely will be able to employ it in militarily significant quantities by late this fall.”

The use of chemical weapons in war is banned under the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which states that parties “will exert every effort to induce other States to accede to the” agreement. Iraq never ratified the protocol; the United States did in 1975. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production and use of such arms, wasn’t passed until 1997, years after the incidents in question.

The initial wave of Iraqi attacks, in 1983, used mustard agent. While generally not fatal, mustard causes severe blistering of the skin and mucus membranes, which can lead to potentially fatal infections, and can cause blindness and upper respiratory disease, while increasing the risk of cancer. The United States wasn’t yet providing battlefield intelligence to Iraq when mustard was used. But it also did nothing to assist Iran in its attempts to bring proof of illegal Iraqi chemical attacks to light. Nor did the administration inform the United Nations. The CIA determined that Iran had the capability to bomb the weapons assembly facilities, if only it could find them. The CIA believed it knew the locations.

Hard evidence of the Iraqi chemical attacks came to light in 1984. But that did little to deter Hussein from using the lethal agents, including in strikes against his own people. For as much as the CIA knew about Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, officials resisted providing Iraq with intelligence throughout much of the war. The Defense Department had proposed an intelligence-sharing program with the Iraqis in 1986. But according to Francona, it was nixed because the CIA and the State Department viewed Saddam Hussein as “anathema” and his officials as “thugs.”

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona’s shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report partially entitled “At The Gates of Basrah,” warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: “An Iranian victory is unacceptable.”

Subsequently, a decision was made at the top level of the U.S. government (almost certainly requiring the approval of the National Security Council and the CIA). The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized electronic intelligence. There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona described much of the information as “targeting packages” suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

The nerve agent causes dizziness, respiratory distress, and muscle convulsions, and can lead to death. CIA analysts could not precisely determine the Iranian casualty figures because they lacked access to Iranian officials and documents. But the agency gauged the number of dead as somewhere between “hundreds” and “thousands” in each of the four cases where chemical weapons were used prior to a military offensive. According to the CIA, two-thirds of all chemical weapons ever used by Iraq during its war with Iran were fired or dropped in the last 18 months of the war.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein’s military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory and recapture the entire peninsula. The success of the Fao Peninsula offensive also prevented the Iranians from launching their much-anticipated offensive to capture Basrah. According to Francona, Washington was very pleased with the result because the Iranians never got a chance to launch their offensive.

The level of insight into Iraq’s chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq’s program prior to the United States’ invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and could send officials out to assess the damage.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin’s lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad — proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

Syria_3In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam’s unconventional assaults. Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus.

 

More Louie Gohmert-this guy is really funny!


This congressman is from Texas……… a state that also safely houses Ted Cruz the Canadian born Texas senator who denounced his Canadian citizenship with an eye on the 2016 presidential elections in order to appease those in the #DemonicGOP who claim Obama is not American because his father was African… and also the home state of Rick Perry THE Executioner for all of America’s 50 states.

Louie Gohmert, however, is a different breed altogether…he occupies his own “zone” that keeps getting more and more exclusive with Gohmert turning out to be its only occupant

When Rep. Louie Gohmert floats conspiracy theories, Americans across the political spectrum tend to roll their eyes and ignore him. But one of his more feverish conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama’s ostensible ties to the Muslim Brotherhood could be fueling dangerous anti-American sentiments in Egypt and potentially complicating U.S. foreign policy in the region, experts say.

For months, the five-term Republican congressman from Texas has been claiming that the Obama administration has been infiltrated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are steering U.S. foreign policy and emboldening terrorists.

“This administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America,” Gohmert told the conspiracy-friendly World Net Daily radio back in April, in just one example of such claims…….

….in Egypt, where the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government was recently ousted by the country’s military after the people turned against it…(a)nti-American conspiracy theories are rampant there, for a variety of reasons related and unrelated to U.S. foreign policy, and hearing it from a United States congressman lends credibility to the theory that the U.S. is teaming up with the Muslim Brotherhood — and even Al-Qaeda — to destroy Egypt.

“I guarantee you nobody in Egypt really knows who Louie Gohmert is or what he’s about. So they could very well point to this and say ‘Look! He’s a member of Congress. This must be serious. There must be something to it,’” said Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It doesn’t help in a political environment where everyone is already angry at us to be fueling conspiracy theories against us. In that way it enables an overall level of hostility toward the U.S.”…….

….The New York Times reported that the U.S.-Brotherhood conspiracy theory has become “widespread” in Egypt, even to the point of being seen by some as common knowledge. Billboards and posters in Egypt tie President Obama to the Brotherhood and accuse him of supporting terrorism against Egypt. And segments of the pro-military Egyptian media have beenplaying a YouTube clip of Gohmert speaking on the House floor, spliced with ominous background music, likening the Obama administration’s aid to Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi’s government with assisting terrorists….

Exporting idiocy that can endanger American interests is usually called “treason”….a word we heard to stifle dissent for Bush’s expeditions in the Middle East but Tea Party members like Gohmert feel  no hesitancy in promoting ideas that if not considered seditious on American soil have at least been used to foment a military coup in Egypt.

The Muhammad Morsi dilemma


MorsiII

The Morsi government was doomed to fail before it even began.  No matter what his government did, the Mubarak loyalists and the Army conspired very early on to depose him at a time and method convenient to them.  Nothing could have been done to avert that outcome.  There are international forces that benefited from the military coup and the Obama administration played both sides against the middle as is usually the case for America, but the origin of this coup was the banks of the Nile and it was propagated  by Egyptians  and perhaps financed with a little help from their friends in the Middle East and beyond.

Before the overthrow could be accomplished, Morsi first had to be properly dehumanized and linked with the most infamous criminals known to man and with the Egyptian propaganda machine in full swing it was an easy task

Mr Kholy (Egypt’s ambassador to Britain)  compared the one-year rule of Mr Morsi to the Islamist takeover of the Iranian state after the 1979 revolution and said that, like Nazism, the Muslim Brotherhood ideology sought to dominate Egyptian society.

“Morsi was elected president and held office for one year but in that time he tried to make everything Muslim Brotherhood controlled. Egyptian culture over 5,000 years is a mix of religions and civilisations in which the Islamic religion is one ingredient of the Egyptian character,” he said. “The Muslim Brotherhood are like a Nazi group that demand that everything changes and people (sic) everything to their way.”

…and with code words like Nazi, it was on for the military coup and over for the Morsi government.  After using terms meant to denigrate the Morsi government, machinations were put in place to ensure the public was on board as well with manufactured crisis designed to turn Egyptians against the government they voted into office

Throughout the month of June the media onslaught on Morsi’s government not only continued to blame it for all the ills afflicting Egyptian society, but also intensified as three particular problems were highlighted: the deterioration in security, frequent power outages that lasted hours and affected not only residential but also industrial areas, and shortages of fuel, causing hours long lines at gas stations.

gasEgypt has 2480 gas stations, with about 400 stations run by the government. The other two thousand stations are owned privately by business tycoons who were given these licenses during the Mubarak era because they were close to the regime and considered very loyal. Morsi’s government asserted that each station received its share and that there was no reason for the shortages. In fact, a few days before he was deposed Morsi warned gas station owners he’d revoke their licences if they refused to provide their customers with fuel. Khalid Al-Shami, a youth activist who was with the opposition until the military coup, exposed the plot when he announced in public that the handful of owners of the privately-run gas stations conspired to create the manufactured fuel shortage crisis in order to build public discontent against Morsi. The best evidence that the problem of fuel shortage was manufactured is that it evaporated overnight. Since the moment Morsi was deposed there has been no fuel shortage.

As for the security deterioration and electricity cuts, the conspiracy was deeper. The police which refused to electricity problemsprotect entire neighborhoods during Morsi’s rule has returned back in full force. Criminals and thugs who terrorized people in the streets are back under control by the same Mubarak-era security apparatus, except for the areas where Morsi’s supporters demonstrate. Electricity outages that lasted for hours every day in almost every neighborhood have disappeared overnight. The mystery of solving these two intractable problems were uncovered this week. Out of the thirty-five member cabinet chosen by the military, eight were retained including the Interior Minister in charge of the police and the Minister of Electricity. One would assume that the first ministers to be sacked by the post-coup government would be those whom the public complained about their incompetence. The opposition who called for dismissing these ministers were now hailing them and cheering their retention. In short, many public officials who professed loyalty to the hapless president were actually undermining his rule all along, while the opposition accused him of packing the government with MB loyalists.

Egyptian opposition even borrowed a page from the American Tea Party movement with rhetoric that was as far fetched as any used by American #DemonicGOPers  designed to incite animus against the Morsi government in ways that manufactured crisis could never accomplish.  At a time when our Tea Party and its strategy is becoming more and more apparent and on the wane in America, it seems to have found a home in Egypt and her conspiracists.  In ways that probably would make FoxNews blush, Egyptian Tea Party/military loyalists spout theories that come from the far reaches of the universe yet have no basis in reality

Readers of Egypt’s main state-run newspaper this week were treated to a startling expose. Splashed atop al Ahram’s front page was trumpeted how security forces smashed a plot by the Muslim Brotherhood, the United States and Palestinian Islamists to foment the secession of northern Egypt.

“A new conspiracy to shake stability,” the red-ink headline screamed of the scheme allegedly overseen by U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman who is among dozens of Brotherhood leaders swept into jail in recent weeks.

Media commentaries span the comedic to the preposterous. A radio host griped that a more than 2-week-old nationwide curfew is forcing husbands to spend more time cooped up at night with their wives, while a former Supreme Court justice asserted on state-run television that President Barack Obama’s brother is a Brotherhood member. Obama and the MB

An article in the pro-army Al Youm Al Sabaa newspaper alleged that Shater, the Brotherhood’s chief political strategist, ran an arms smuggling racket with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who enraged many Egyptians when he tried to broker a deal between Morsi and the army.

Television channels loop slick anti-Brotherhood video mash-ups. They contrast shots of long-bearded Morsi protesters firing guns or contorting their faces as they screech abuses with scenes of unarmed, flag-waving anti-Morsi protesters, police funerals and troops on maneuvers. Patriotic soundtracks hail Egypt’s ancient history and the military’s martial prowess.  (against unarmed civilians but certainly not against the Israeli army.)

People like  Mr. Naguib Sawiris who took his  inspiration from American politicians and media pundits in exemplary fasion managed a media blitz nothing short of incendiary and blatantly fallacious….

On July 26, a cable news host leaned across his desk, stared into the camera and let his audience in on what he believed was the Obama administration’s deepest, darkest secret. “The issue is not whether Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or not,” he declared. “The issue is that it is a fact that Obama used the help of the Muslim Brotherhood in his administration.”

Reading from notes in a tone of total omniscience, the host began to name names. He cited six figures, all Muslim American activists or intellectuals, accusing them of operating a Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cell inside the White House. They were Mazen Asbahi, Arif Ali Khan, Eboo Patel, Salam Marayati, and Mohamed Elibiary.

“Write these names down,” the host told his audience, “look them up during the break and when I come back let me know if what I say is right or wrong.”

Though he sounded like Glenn Beck or any other Tea Party-style Islamophobe, the host was not American and did not even speak English. He was Yousef El-Hosseini, a popular and famously reactionary personality on the private Egyptian cable network, ONTV. Founded by Egypt’s wealthiest man, Naguib Sawiris, a key financial backer of the forces behind the overthrow of the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, ONTV has emerged as one of the country’s central instruments for spreading pro-military propaganda.

 With such proclamations, news to the contrary was effectively stifled in ways that only happen under military dictatorships ushered in by military coups. How could you not support a takeover that was inspired by threats of foreign intervention in your country’s domestic affairs?   Opponents of the military coup and voices of opposition were silenced and persecuted and published dissent to the military’s actions was not tolerated.

Journalists have been killed, arrested and attacked since the Egyptian army began a campaign of repression in the country. On Sunday, the pattern of harassment continued, as three employees of Al Jazeera English were deported.

“Since 3 July, a total of five journalists have been killed, 80 journalists have been arbitrarily detained (with seven still held) and at least 40 news providers have been physically attacked by the police or by pro-Morsi or pro-army demonstrators,” RWB wrote. It called the killings “without precedent in the country’s contemporary history.”

Next Morsi’s opponents, some of them officials in the Morsi government had to manufacture economic and political crisis to make it seem  Egypt was on the verge of immediate demise …..

The streets seethe with protests and government ministers are on the run or in jail, but since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, life has somehow gotten better for many people across Egypt: Gas lines have disappeared, power cuts have stopped and the police have returned to the street.

The apparently miraculous end to the crippling energy shortages, and the re-emergence of the police, seems to show that the legions of personnel left in place after former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 played a significant role — intentionally or not — in undermining the overall quality of life under the Islamist administration of Mr. Morsi.

And as the interim government struggles to unite a divided nation, the Muslim Brotherhood and Mr. Morsi’s supporters say the sudden turnaround proves that their opponents conspired to make Mr. Morsi fail. Not only did police officers seem to disappear, but the state agencies responsible for providing electricity and ensuring gas supplies failed so fundamentally that gas lines and rolling blackouts fed widespread anger and frustration.

Working behind the scenes, members of the old establishment, some of them close to Mr. Mubarak and the country’s top generals, also helped finance, advise and organize those determined to topple the Islamist leadership, including Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire and an outspoken foe of the Brotherhood….

MB HQThere can be no doubt that what took place in Egypt was a military coup, despite America’s reluctance to call it that.  I’ve read words such as naive to describe Morsi’s attitude to those who opposed him but realizing the political intransigence he faced and the extent to which the tentacles of the Mubarak regime reached in Egyptian society (notice how quickly Mubarak was released from prison after the military took power) Morsi’s slow and steady approach, along with missteps that ANYONE doing what he had to do would make, made it all but impossible for him to succeed.  To say he was set up to fail, that his election took place only to be overturned is precisely what his detractors, opponents wanted to happen and it was brilliantly executed.  A democratically elected government, replacing a 30 year dictatorship was overthrown by a military coup to the applause of all but those in the ruling party that Morsi represented and it was done with many of the same tactics employed by American political opposition that the American government which supported the Egyptian coup is fighting.  In other words, Obama has given his blessings to the military coup, despite what the Egyptian military said in an attempt to justify their actions…knowing full well Egyptian opposition was made up of people and tactics that are stalling his (Obama’s) government and the economic recovery he so desperately needs. If you say politics makes strange bedfellows, you only need to look at Egyptian/Middle Eastern politics to come to that realization.  Obama worked with the Egyptian forces that are his opponents back home in America for the illegal overthrow of an elected government.  He, Obama, now faces those same forces of obstructionism while he tries to make a case to attack a country that has always been an opponent of American interests in the Middle East and a new found opponent of Egypt.  It is bizarre, unsettling  and counterproductive to American interests, and worst of all typical of how things are done in that part of the world.  Go figure…..

To bad this is satire-for some it’s typical news fare


So this video was introduced as “satire”?  It shouldn’t have been.  For far too many people of color this is the reality with which they are perceived but the tragedy is the the foibles that are highlighted in the video are common to all of America’s residents.  Hayes did this piece in response to a piece Bill O’Reilly did, and knowing what we know about O’Reilly, it shouldn’t be difficult to parody anything he says or does, because he’s such an anachronism anything said about him today is relevant to an O’Reilly of two hundred years ago.

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