2004-08-31

Canadian FM Pettigrew Condemns Iranian "Farce"

Disgusted by the Iranian regime's lack of cooperation in investigating the death in Iranian custody of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi, Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew raised the possibility of "joint pressure" by Canada and its allies against Tehran.

The Canadian government has accused Iran's hardline courts of covering up the true circumstances of Iranian-born photographer Zahra Kazemi's death last year in order to protect senior judiciary officials implicated in her murder.

"We've tried dialogue with the Iranian government but it has turned into a farce, this situation around Madame Kazemi," Pettigrew told reporters after meeting Belgian Foreign Minister Karl de Gucht.

"Certainly we are sharing our outrage at the way the Iranian government and the judiciary system has treated this citizen. We lose no opportunity to raise it."

"What we want is to know what has happened in that jail, we've asked for the body to be returned to Canada so that we could autopsy it. They say it's an accident, that she fell. Well, we'll know. When you have the body you know those things," he added.


Read the article at Free Iran.

Najaf: A War for Shi'a Leadership

Big Pharaoh has some very illuminating observations in his analysis of the Najaf confrontation.

'Last April, Sadr ignited his first uprising. His gang stormed the holy shrine in Najaf and literally occupied it. They controlled the keys and the treasures. When the fighting intensified, Sistani ordered all armed groups to leave Najaf including American forces. Sadr didn’t comply, his occupation of the shrine continued, and US forces had to withdraw outside Najaf to fulfill their part of the shaky truce. Poor Sistani, he lost all control over the shrine and that didn’t feel good. What would the pope feel if a wayward monk occupied the Vatican and its treasures?!

Today Sistani sleeps with the keys under his pillows! How did the keys jump from Sadr’s pocket to Sistani’s bed? Did Sistani form a militia? Sistani stayed for over 3 months with no keys, how did the old man manage to return them back? ... '


Read the rest at the link.

Hamas Bombing Kills 15+

At least 15 people were killed in a double bombing in Beersheba. Debka notes that 'Terrorist access from Mt Hebron to Beersheba is unimpeded by security barrier whose construction is held up for high court rulings.' The AP article on Fox says that 'The explosions came just hours after Sharon presented to his Likud party the most detailed timetable yet for Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and warned party rebels the plan "will be implemented, period."'

Once again, the islamofascists are making it abundantly clear that they oppose any steps which might lead to a resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Todays article at Debka spells it out: 'Palestinian terror is again rampant in the belief that it has the power to defeat Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement plan.' Apparently it's working: 'Ready until the last to assume responsibility for security in the Gaza Strip after Israel’s departure, the Egyptian government has finally backed off. This week, Cairo rescinded its key proviso, that Yasser Arafat reform the Palestinian security machine and cleanse it of terrorists.' The analysis also predicts that the Iranian regime, now seeking a 'leadership role' in the Palestinian Authority, will step up its attacks against Israelis in the coming week.

Morning Report: August 31, 2004

Republican Convention captures nation's attention. Blogging live from the Republican Convention in New York, Roger L. Simon is impressed by McCain. Serenity, blogging live from in front of the TV set, calls day one a "hell of an opening". Charles notes here that one of the speakers was Zainab al-Suwaij, the Iraqi woman whose account of the 1991 uprising appeared in The New Republic in February 2003. And Sully, back from his August break, appears to have been won over.

2004-08-30

Flight 587: News Roundup

When Al-Qaeda on a website in May 2004 claimed the plane’s fall as an attack, however, I paid it little attention, for just about anyone can claim just about anything on a website.
But now comes a wisp of evidence to suggest that AA 587’s demise was in fact not an accident but an operation carried out by Al-Qaeda. This information has a complex pedigree:

 *It is recounted in a top secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service report written in May 2002 and made public on Aug. 27, 2004 by Stewart Bell in Canada’s National Post.
*Its source is Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, a 22-year-old from St. Catharines, Ontario, said to be of “unknown reliability.”
*Jabarah in turn is reporting on what he heard from Abu Abdelrahman (a Saudi Al-Qaeda member who worked for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the organization’s highest ranking operatives). KSM’s information has usually turned out to be reliable.
So, the information that follows is not exactly rock-hard, but it is a real lead.
And this is it: Abu Abdelrahman told Jabarah who told CSIS ...

Daniel Pipes, FrontPage


"The operative told Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents during five days of questioning that ``Farouk,'' a Canadian citizen whose real name is Abderraouf Jdey, downed the plane in a suicide mission on Nov. 12, 2001, with explosives similar to those carried by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid. ... "
Boston Herald


"The Airbus A-300 flight headed to the Dominican Republic crashed in the Rockaways shortly after takeoff from Kennedy Airport on Nov. 12, 2001, killing 265 people.

The source told agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that the man had trained in Afghanistan along with the 9/11 hijackers, according to a report in Canada's National Post.

During five days of questioning, he revealed that a Montreal man named Abderraouf Jdey used a shoe bomb like the one Richard Reid wore, to bring down the plane.
NY Post


Consider. The war rages in Iraq, our military are being injured and killed; Muslim extremists continue their evil, including downing two Russian passenger jets killing some 90 people; an al-Qaida operative tells Canadian investigators that an Afghanistan-trained Canadian terrorist brought down American Airlines flight 587 in New York three years ago; terrorist warnings continue in our country – the latest for Veterans Administration hospitals. All this and more!
...

So what does John Kerry, the presidential challenger, focus on to present himself to the American voters and ask for their vote? Vietnam!

Barbara Simpson, WorldNet Daily

Canadian Intel: AA 587 Downed by Shoe Bomb - Debka

"According to a top secret Canadian government report, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York, had a sequel two months later. On November 13, 2001, American Airlines flight 587 crashed over Queens, New York, shortly after takeoff from JFK killing all 265 people aboard. A captured al-Qaeda operative, Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, told Canadian intelligence investigators that a Montreal man who trained in Afghanistan alongside the 9/11 hijackers was responsible, using a small shoe bomb similar to the one used by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid for his “suicide mission.” He named Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen ... "

The Debka article adds that, despite vigorous denials by Washington, this scenario seems plausible, in part because a number of suspected operatives were behaving strangely in the hours before the crash. The article also states that the US received numerous warnings from foreign intelligence agencies before the crash.

Breaking News from Debka: November 13, 2001 Crash No Accident

The post- 9/11 crash of American Airlines flight 587 over Queens, New York, was the work of al-Qaeda, according to a recent Debka article citing Canadian intelligence.

Stay tuned.

More Good News for Bush

President Bush continues to climb in the polls, according to both Gallup (hat tip: Michael Graham at NRO) and Rasmussen. Additionally, Graham comments that a "feeling of inevitable doom" is beginning to descend over his friends in the Kerry camp.

LGF has still more poll results ( from Election Projection ), indicating a "pre-convention bounce".

Roger L. Simon notes that the Swifties' ads, and especially the book (look for more on that later today), have taken a heavy toll on Kerry's campaign. Most damning, the charges have not been contradicted, only reacted to with bluster and outrage. Well, JFK2 can be as outraged as he likes, but if he can't defend himself against the Swift vet's accusations, he's sunk.

Personal observation: I think it's helping that we're getting out there and speaking up. Just last night I had a great discussion with a woman in my kabbalah study group who's getting tired of keeping her mouth shut. A lifelong liberal who's never voted Republican before (seems there are a lot of those coming out of the woodwork!) she expressed horror that the Jew-haters of the "Peace and Justice" group had attracted such a following, and outrage that the Democratic Party had been "hijacked" (her word) by far-leftists and islamists. There followed a short but encouraging discussion (or at least, the beginning of a discussion) on some difficult and previously "taboo" subjects, such as the problem of evil in the world, and the responsibility of Jews - or anyone - to defend themselves and others from that evil.

The kind of mass insanity currently on display in the streets of New York becomes "respectable" only as long as rational people fail to oppose it. It depends on a spell of silence that shuts down good people's ability to think critically. As soon as we speak up, and show that we are not afraid to challenge this doctrine of fascism and despair, the spell is broken. And this is what we must do.

2004-08-29

Lewis Lapham Sees the Future

For an example of crass leftist fabrication, read this post on Lewis Lapham's time travel in Serenity's Journal.

Still more proof that the leftist press is in self-destruct mode.

The Left Imploding; the Dems' Expanding Universe

Not wishing to waste the opportunity to make fools of themselves, the far-left factions are converging on New York with a level of ferocity and viciousness the city hasn't seen since ... well, never mind. But it's getting clearer and clearer that the tide of public opinion is turning: President Bush is now edging ahead in the Rasmussen polls, and while it's too early to get excited, I do think things are going to start looking up.

With lots of help from the moonbats in New York. If Whoopi Goldberg's vulgar joke about "bush" alienated some Kerry supporters, I think these protests will alienate even more. They are showing, more clearly than Karl Rove ever could, the intellectual vacuity and moral bankruptcy of the anti-Bush camp.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has completely lost its moorings and is moving ever farther away from its nonexistent center. Theoretically, the DP may have an ideological "center of gravity"; but through the action of a sort of "cosmological constant", it continues to expand ever further into the abyss.

Democrats who wonder about the direction their party is taking should look well at the faces of the protesters in New York City this week: That is the face of your future.

Another Blog Bites the Dust

Protesting the amnesty given to Muqtada al-Sadr, Jeffrey is shutting down his blog Iraqi Bloggers Central. IBC, which operated under several titles, was originally meant as a successor to the defunct Cry Me a Riverbend, providing a place for readers to openly discuss "certain Iraqi blogs that don't allow comments". While the original CMAR had to shut down due to death threats, IBC evolved into a popular discussion forum for the various Iraqi blogs (both annotated and comment-free).

For those new to the world of Blogdad, several important debates and meta-debates have been flourishing since the inception of Iraqi blogging last October/November. Among the important questions:
- How do we know whether an Iraqi blog is authentic?
- To what extent does a particular Iraqi blogger represent the Iraqi population as a whole? And what is the role of personal, individual opinions?
- How can non-Iraqis best understand the various, sometimes conflicting views expressed on the Iraqi blogs? And where does a fledgling democracy draw the line between responsible dissent and hostile subversion?
- Given that some Iraqi blogs allow reader comments while others do not, are we permitted to draw inferences about the bloggers' possible biases? That is, does the absence of a comment corner indicate a blogger's unwillingness to face the challenges of open debate?

The passing of Iraqi Bloggers Central will be a big loss to the blogosphere; it's up to the rest of us to pick up the slack and carry on IBC's mission as best we can.







Good News for Bush

President Bush's poll numbers continue to climb, according to Rasmussen Reports. Could it be that the tide is turning?

The New Republican: Columbia Flashback

Are you a fan of the print media? I know I am. I love the internet, but it will never replace the ease, reliability, authority, and permanence of traditional publishing. Just yesterday I lovingly unpacked my 1973 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; it's now sitting on the shelf right above my OED. I expect to use both on a daily basis.

And magazines! If you're a magazine lover, you know what I mean: the only thing harder than schlepping around a lot of old magazines, is throwing them out.

So it was quite a pleasure, last week, to unearth some old copies of The New Republic, some going back ten years. ("CNN Wrecked Television News"? Who knew?) And sitting before me now is the June 3, 2002 print issue, open to Michael Crowley's illuminating article "The Makeover". Back in the summer of 2002, in the heat of primary season, two rivals for the Democratic nomination crossed paths in Columbia, South Carolina - and, for one magic moment, shared the spotlight:

"... As they stand side by side beneath a dreary exit sign, Kerry looms over Edwards by several inches. He also overwhelms his adversary rhetorically. After Edwards delivers some brief and subdued words to the crowd, Kerry whips them up with a furiously ideological stem-winder that makes Edwards grimace as if he were suffering a sudden migraine. Afterward there is much speculation that Edwards was irked at having to share the stage with Kerry, not least because of their striking height difference - a difference Kerry's backers love to dwell on.

It's a small, perhaps petty, triumph. But these days the Kerry camp will take whatever it can get. For, in a sense, Kerry is the anti-Edwards. Where Edwards has become the darling of the national media, Kerry can't seem to catch a break. His press clippings record 18 years of journalistic wisecracks about his ego, his looks, and his self-promotion."


Crowley explains that the goal of Kerry's makeover is to dispel his image as an aloof, narcissistic aristocrat. The candidate himself allows that "I haven't really reached out to or met a lot of people in the press until the last couple of years." But his very aggressiveness highlights "a degree of personal manifest destiny and self-love rare even among politicians. Indeed, his biography suggests an almost liofelong grooming for power."

Crowley notes that Kerry is aware of his image problem - but, as with everything else about himself, a little too aware of it, and we get the impression he's trying just a little too hard to prove he's a regular guy. As an unnamed Democratic activist says, "It's the rebranding of John Kerry ... that arrogant jerk you've heard so much about is really just a regular guy."

Ah, but John Forbes Kerry has a secret weapon. And what, you ask, might that be? I'll give you a hint: It starts with a V and ends with "nam."
When I asked Kerry whether he worries that Republicans might find a way to use that old footage of Michael Dukakis riding absurdly in a tank against him, he grew defiant. "If they want to put up an image of Mike Dukakis in a tank," Kerry replied, his eyes narrowing, "I'll put up an image of me on a boat in Vietnam."

And Vietnam isn't only an answer to Kerry's ideological vulnerabilities; it's an answer to his characterological ones as well: Out-of-touch, selfish rich kids didn't risk their lives in the jungles of Vietnam. ...


Indeed.

2004-08-27

Morning Report: August 27, 2004

Iraqi police secure shrine area in Najaf. Heeding the embattled Muqtada al-Sadr's call to join the "peaceful masses", remnants of the so-called Mahdi Army are leaving the Najaf shrine according to news reports. This came as a result of negotiations between Sadr and Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's leading Shi'a cleric. "Sadr accepted the peace proposal in a face-to-face meeting Thursday night with the 75-year-old grand ayatollah. The interim Iraqi government also agreed to the deal, and U.S. commanders ordered their troops to cease fire in Najaf." But according to the latest bulletin from Debka, "Under 5-point plan negotiated by Ayatollah Sistani with radical rebel Sadr overnight, rebel stronghold towns of Najef and Kufa declared weapons-free, foreign troops leave, handing security to Iraqi police, compensation paid for damage of three-week conflict.... US forces who fought rebellion withdrew to edge of city. Not all militiamen hand in weapons. Sadr walks free under Allawi government amnesty." For a very informative background on Shi'a Islam, read Ali's April 10 post, "The Myth and the Reality". (IHT, ITM, Debka)

Russian air disaster called terrorism. Not that it was ever in much doubt, but the twin crashes, within 20 minutes of one another, of two Russian airliners are being considered the result of terrorism. The crashes killed 90 people. Russian officials say traces of explosives have been found on at least one of the wrecked planes, according to this report on the Russian plane disaster. According to the Debka report, 'al Qaeda has finally come forward with a claim of responsibility, published by the Islamic Minbar website associated with the Islamist organization.' A denial by moderate Chechen rebels begs the question of whether Chechen extremists were involved; some analysts consider it likely that the hijackers came from outside of Russia. Russian newspapers have already referred to the event as "Russia's September 11", inviting speculation that the planes might have been intended to target high-level officials. It is noteworthy that the event comes less than a week before both the Chechen presedential election (scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday) and the Republican National Convention.

Sudan: Deadline? What deadline? In the latest chapter in the unfolding tragedy in Sudan, Jane has some thoughts on the importance of UN-imposed deadlines.

Al-Qaeda/Hezbollah/Ba'ath link? This piece by FDD's Cliff May on Munah al-Abdullah suggests that the capture of an inter-organizational terror liaison may provide proof of collaboration between various fascist regimes.

Remarks. Events in Russia encourage questions as to whether islamo-fascist elements are turning their attention toward West/Central Asia. An article on Uzbekistan by Andrew Apostolou sheds some light on the challenges facing that region.



2004-08-26

Goooooold!

US Women Beat Brazil for Olympic Soccer Gold Medal. Is this great or what?

ATHENS, Greece — An hour after the game, Mia Hamm was still on the field, hugging, crying, and posing for pictures with an Olympic gold medal around her neck.

Then, finally, she left.

After 17 years, 153 goals and 266 games -- including a grueling overtime finale -- it was time for her to go.

"There are few times in your life where you get to write the final chapter the way you want to," Hamm said. "I think a lot of us did that tonight."

Hamm and the rest of the Fab Five had just enough left in their thirtysomething bodies for one more triumph in their final tournament together. Led by two goals from the next generation, the United States beat Brazil 2-1 Thursday to claim the Olympic title. ...

Read the rest of the Fox News story at the link.

The Blogging Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Okay, so I took another mental health day. ("Asher, you need more than a mental health day." Thank you, that will be quite enough of that.)

No, really, I needed an extra mental health day, especially since I missed seeing Melissa in Portland last night. Honestly, I'll be fine, and the doctor says these scars on my wrists should heal very quickly.

And what happened while I was Away From Komputer? Well, the world went to hell in a handbasket, that's what. So Lenore The Little Dead Girl has returned to A Small Victory, but only as a harbinger of the blog's impending demise. Michele, I'll sorely miss you.

Oh, and al-Qaeda blew up two planes in Russia. Allawi is kissing Sadr's ass. Terrorists beheaded another Italian. The IRI thugs hanged a sixteen-year-old girl, and then dug up her body. I'm telling you, it's almost enough to make me want to give up blogging.

Hah! You should be so lucky.

Well, listen, here's something to cheer about: US women beat Brazil for soccer medal. I'll give this one its own post, too, but I just had to mention it here.

Finally, couldn't close this post without a tribute to Melissa. Now, I could go on about how gorgeous and sexy she is, but there's something in the Bible about "coveting thy neighbor's wife", and Tammy Lynn Michaels may not live in Portland but she's certainly my "neigbor" in principle. So I must keep it platonic.

From an interview with the local lefty rag, Melissa offers this:

Considering it's an election year, did you feel any pressure to put out a more politically motivated album?

The best thing I can do in this political climate is to be a good example. Be a strong person and live my life well.



2004-08-25

Mental Health Day

I'm taking a break from posting today. Should be back up and running tomorrow. See you then.

2004-08-24

Morning Report: August 24, 2004

Iraqi forces surround shrine. Urging militia members to surrender, Iraqi National Guard forces surrounded the shrine at Najaf. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan told reporters that "the decisive hours are near" for Muqtada al-Sadr's fighters.

Armed clash erupts in Tehran. 'According to witnesses and other reliable sources, on Sunday night [August 22], around 11:45, several members of security forces clashed with unidentified armed persons on Piruzi Avenue--Coca cola intersection—in the eastern part of the capital. Shortly after this confrontation a witness present on the scene told IRNA by telephone: “The unknown armed individuals, probably three or four in number, got away with a car.” This witness added: “Fierce gunfire between the security forces and these individuals lasted for some minutes,” adding that “according to the locals two members of the security forces were injured.” He added, “A couple riding a motorcycle were injured in the crossfire.”… IRNA news item (translation on Free Iran)

Chrenkoff: more good news from Afghanistan. 'But optimism is back, and since the overthrow of Mullah Omar's regime almost three years ago it has been making a slow but steady comeback. For all the continuing security problems and sporadic fighting with the Taliban and al Qaeda remnants, Afghanistan's resurrection has been an unheralded success story of the recent times. Huge challenges remain, to be sure, but for the first time in a generation there is real hope that the country is finally breaking out of the cycle of violence and succeeding in its first steps on the road to normalcy. The Afghans know it's happening, but we in the West, looking at Afghanistan through the prism of mainstream media coverage, are far less aware of all the positive developments taking place over there. Here is some good news from the last four weeks that you might have missed while the media, true to their form, continued to focus on the negatives. ... ' Read the rest here: Arthur Chrenkoff - Good News from Afghanistan (Hat tip: Omar at ITM.)






2004-08-23

Greatest Jen on ETA

Be sure you stop by The Greatest Jeneration for the latest on the ETA thugs and their prospects in Spain, which the Madrid bombing and its political aftermath must have led them to deem a desirable target.

Even now, no one can say for sure who was behind the Madrid bombing. Personally, I won't even try to guess - there's just too many unknowns. But hypothetically speaking, I think there would have to be help from a sophisticated, well-financed entity, perhaps even a national government; one located not too far away from Spain, perhaps even within Europe ... and it would probably be helpful if they also had an indigenous Basque population ... but just listen to me, I'm rambling ...


Debka on Revised Disengagement Plan

Debka offers analysis of new disengagement proposals from Bush. A firm opponent of Bush's Gaza and West Bank disengagement policy for Israel, Debka takes cautious encouragement from the President's apparent backdown on earlier demands that Israel halt new construction in Gaza. An administration official recently stated that Washington would agree to allow Israel to build limited new housing within existing Jewish sites on the West Bank to allow for natural population growth, provided that the settlements do not overstep existing territory.

Debka's analysis notes with some satisfaction, "With Labor staging its own revolt against the drive initiated by its chairman, Shimon Peres, to join the government, no cabinet or Knesset majority and a party divided against him, Sharon finds his disengagement plan blocked at every hand." For the full analysis of the issues facing Bush, Sharon, and their respective governments, read the whole piece here.

Al-Qaeda Plot Thwarted in Pakistan

Terrorists were planning massive attacks in Pakistan for earlier this month, but were prevented from doing so by key arrests by Pakistani authorities, according to this news item on Pakistan arrests which I've been able to find only on Netscape.

Headline of the Day

From the CNN front page, presented here without further comment:


Bible study class meets at Hooters to reach 'unchurched'


Morning Report: August 23, 2004

Arson destroys Paris Jewish center. A Jewish community center in Paris was destroyed by arson in a pre-dawn attack Sunday. The incident harmed no one but gutted the six-story building. Thanks to Charles at Little Green Footballs for the link.For the New York Times spin, and its disturbing implications, read the news analysis at LGF and follow the discussion thread.

Leftist cyber-strike backfires. And speaking of LGF, the great minds at Indymedia had the bright idea to threaten a Denial of Service (DOS) attack on LGF and several other sites not to their taste. They also boasted of having hacked into Protest Warrior's mailing list. Read the rest of the story - original post and the unfolding saga of the comments section - at the link.

A hate crime? No certain motive has yet been found for the execuation-style killing of Lindsay Cutshall, 23, and her fiance Jason Allen, 26, as they slept on the beach in Sonoma County, California. No evidence of suicide, sexual assault, or robbery was found. But a Sonoma County Sheriff's spokeswoman, calling the slayings "very odd", indicated that the young couple may have been victims of a hate crime - murdered for their evangelical Christian beliefs.

2004-08-22

Morning Report: August 22, 2004

Iran regime's West Asian arm-twisting betrays desperation. Amid an ever-increasing bluster of threats, the Iranian regime bullied two Western-allied nations into reducing their strategic cooperation with Israel, according to this Debka report. 'When Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Tehran in late June, he was informed in no uncertain terms by spiritual ruler Ali Khamenei and president Mohammed Khatami that if he wants good relations with the Iranian regime with concomitant economic benefits, such as cheap oil and gas, he must end Turkey’s military ties with Israel. Erdogan agreed to bar Turkish air space to Israeli warplanes stationed in Turkey or incoming from Israel for use as a corridor for striking Iranian nuclear and military installations.' Debka notes that Erdogan's stance has shifted away from Washington and Jerusalem in recent months. The article also discloses that during a recent visit to Azerbaijan, ostensibly to discuss bilateral security and trade issues, a group of Iranian intelligence officers also appeared in Baku to demand that Azerbaijan end its strategic cooperation with Israel. The article concludes that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon may be hindered from dealing effectively with the Iranian threat by domestic worries over his disengagement plans, which have generated fierce opposition within his own Likud party. (Comment: possibly Washington was seeking to ease the pressure on Sharon when it softened its demands on the evacuation of Jewish settlements.)

"I tell ya, I wuz there, man!" The Belmont Club deconstructs the cultural meta-message of the Najaf shrine standoff, which is, yes, still going on.

Kerry, in his own words. Jane at Armies of Liberation predicts that reaction to John Kerry's Vietnam images will result in a backlash against the officer-turned-war-protester-turned-senator-turned-presidential-candidate.

Fugitive Marzook denies charges in Damascus, media mum on CAIR link. Little Green Footballs supplies one of two little green details missing from an AP story on Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau. Read the item, and follow the discussion on the CAIR-terror link.

2004-08-21

Rights and Privileges

Dhimmi Watch gets it just right when noting that lefties might think twice before comparing opponents of gay marriage to the Taliban. That is to say, let's keep a sense of porportion, especially when we learn that Zanzibar bans gay sex.

Let me make myself really clear here. I am not impressed with those who claim to be fighting for the rights of women, gays, and ethnic and religious minorities in America, while ignoring the oppression of minorities, gay people, women, and human beings in general in other parts of the world. If you care only about the rights of American gays, American women, American minorities, then you are not fighting for "rights" at all, but for privileges.

Do I support gay marriage? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt. But what do gay people in Zanzibar - or Iran, or Algeria - care about your right to marry when their right to freedom, perhaps their very right to live, is in jeopardy?

2004-08-20

The New Republican: Mirror Image

Continuing its valiant attempt to portray the Democratic party as viable and relevant, The New Republic offers us a glimpse inside the Democratic National Convention in the August 2 and August 9, 2004, print issues.

In the August 2 issue (TRB, p. 6), Peter Beinart offers his thoughts in advance of the Democratic and Republican conventions. "The two parties' conclaves are shaping up as mirror images of one another", he writes. Citing the lineup of moderate and even liberal Republicans slated to speak in New York (John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, Rod Paige, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Zell Miller - oh, wait, he isn't even a Republican), Beinart explains that this is evidence of the GOP's "ideological insecurity".

This is quite interesting, because it was Beinart who told us just two weeks earlier that John Kerry displayed "true self-confidence" by choosing the sharply contrasting Edwards for a runningmate. (Edwards, to whom the party's left wing, "represented by groups like MoveOn.org", "gave their hearts" once bereft of Howard Dean.)

But if Beinart can manage a wry sneer at the Republican convention, he can't conceal his outright worry over the prospect of this year's Democratic event. "If Bush Republicans lack ideological self-confidence, the Kerry Democrats may have too much of it," he says uneasily of a "shockingly realistic picture of what the Democratic Party really is. And that means liberalism is on tap virtually every night."

"I doubt the Kerry campaign tried to stock the podium with liberals. They simply chose the people in the party with mass appeal, great promise, or both. ... And, unsurprisingly, it produced a convention roster that looks - and sounds - like the Democratic Party." That, Beinart says, is the problem: he contrasts this year's convention with earlier events in which "each [speaker] represented the party not as it was, but as it might have been had liberal interest groups not exercised such control over the nominating process."

If Peter Beinart wrote in blogspeak, he'd say: "What's up with all these f***ing moonbats?" Or something like that.

The DNC will present an "admirably honest" picture of today's Democrats. "But just because it's honest doesn't make it wise." So Beinart says of the Democratic Party; but looking at the GOP, Beinart discerns a left-of-Republican-center lineup that can only mean "a party unwilling to reveal its true face to the nation." So which is it, Peter?

What really worries the Democrats is that the upcoming Republican convention just might be the "true face" of the Republican Party: one that values principled individuals and inclusive organizations; one that sees tolerance and responsibility not as opposing, but as complementary; one in which unity is born of diversity. This is why so many former Democrats are now Republicans.

Are the two conventions - and by extension, the two parties - really "mirror images" of one another? In some ways, yes: the Republicans have become the party of responsible change, progress, and human rights; while the Democrats have become the reactionary, anti-democratic party, now reduced to defending third-rate dictators.

But the symmetry is not complete. Many of the positive changes that liberals of the last generation fought for have become part of the mainstream. Other battles, like gay rights, have yet to be won, but now enjoy support within the Republican party, where conversation on such issues is most meaningful. What do the Democrats have left to offer? Very little - only the rhetoric of dissatisfaction.

More on the Iraqi football (soccer) players ...

Take a moment to examine this report on the incident from al-Jazeera-on-the-Thames. The leader for this piece asserts that "Iraq's successful Olympic football team has launched an outspoken attack on US President George W Bush." But the article provides no evidence that "the team" did any such thing. The piece quotes the coach and two of the Iraqi soccer players - Salih Sadir and Ahmed Manajid (the latter from Fallujah) - with anti-American comments. With a single cursory sentence it dismisses the Ba'ath regime's notorious abuse of Iraq's olympic team: "The team said they were glad Iraq's former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein - Saddam Hussein's notorious son killed by US forces after the invasion - was no longer in charge."

But did any of the other footballers express different sentiments? The Ba'athist Broadcasting Corporation is not interested in that question. But Omar wonders: "all the reporter could come up with were comments from 2 players and the coach out of 22 players and several trainers, medical staff...etc So if those were the 'best' comments he could get, I'm interested to know what were the comments of the others ..."

Iran: Regime Executes Girl for "Sharp Tongue"

Girl, 16, hanged in public in Iran

Source:
Free Iran

'On Sunday, August 15, a 16-year-old girl in the town of Neka, northern
Iran, was executed. Atefeh Sahaleh was hanged in public on Simetry Street
off Rah Ahan Street at the city center.

The sentence was issued by the head of Neka’s Justice Department and
subsequently upheld by the mullahs’ Supreme Court ...

She told the religious judge, Haji Rezaii,
that he should punish the main perpetrators of moral corruption not the
victims.
...
After her execution Rezai said her punishment was not execution but he had
her executed for her “sharp tongue”.'

Morning Report: August 20, 2004

All over but the shoutin'? Muqtada al-Sadr has disappeared, according to latest news reports on the Najaf shrine standoff, but at this moment there are conflicting reports on whether police have entered the mosque.

Perspective on the Iraqi soccer (football) players. A widely publicized news item depicted members of the Iraqi olympic soccer team as harshly criticizing Preseident Bush and the United States. But how many football players were actually giving these views? One player, Ahmed Manajid, was quoted. What about the team as a whole? Omar at ITM offers a little perspective.

VDH: Europe getting the picture? Victor Davis Hanson notes that planned US troop withdrawals from Europe may be just the thing to supply our Old World friends with a bracing dose of reality. Read Hanson on Europe at the link.

2004-08-19

Reflecting on our Various Strategic Options in the Persian Gulf

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's defense minister expressed his government's disquiet about the U.S. troop presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and hinted that some Iranian generals believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent U.S. threat.

Iran Uneasy over US Presence


All together, now, repeat after me:

Go. Ahead. Make. Our. Day.

Morning Report: August 19, 2004

Iraq to Sadr: Surrender or else. Muqtada al-Sadr has reportedly rejected an Iraqi government demand for immediate surrender and will likely face a military assault within hours. A recent Debka bulletin states that 'government accuses besieged Shiite cleric Sadr of cheating when he offered to accept ceasefire terms and leave mosque with his militia. Instead, all 2,000 militiamen are barricaded inside and shooting from there at US-Iraqi siege force. ... Wednesday, US-Iraqi forces transferred to Najef Kurdish Special Forces 36th commando battalion, of mostly Shiite fighters, to spearhead Iraqi military drive into Imam Ali Mosque.'

A Home for Steve-O

What if someone you knew was involved in a gang of criminals and murderers? Would you turn them in?

What if it was your own father?

And what if it meant that your mother would pay with her life?

Welcome to the world of Steve-O. If you haven't read it yet, his story is here:
Bringing Steve-O to the States

Here's the address for donations:

JH Iraqi Youth Trust
6660 Delmonico Drive
Suite D
#410
Colorado Springs, CO 80919


Well, what are you waiting for?
Hat tip: Buckeye Abroad at LGF

Jewish Chaplain Serves Proudly in Iraq

From Chabad.org Magazine:

' I'm in Hawaii, He's in Iraq: Why Are We Doing This?
By Dini Felzenberg

It's been 190 days since my husband, Rabbi Captain Shmuel Felzenberg, left from our base in Hawaii to Kuwait and eventually to Iraq. Not that I am counting. Nor do I know the very exact amount of days (and minutes) that remain until his anticipated return in February, 2005. Even if I did, it wouldn't matter much, as these deployments always seem to get delayed and the only way to not be disappointed is to not have any expectations.
...
So you are probably wondering about my husband. He, too, was raised in an Orthodox home, became involved with Chabad a little later in life, learned in the Morristown Yeshivah, the Rabbinical College of America, and continued on to get his rabbinical ordination from Kfar Chabad in Israel. Also not exactly the type of guy you'd expect to be serving in Iraq.

But I guess when something is truly right for you, no matter how seemingly impractical or out of the ordinary, you find yourself doing what you are meant to do. And without question, my husband is meant to be in Iraq right now ...'


Read the whole article at the link:

Rebbetzin's Iraq Story

Thanks to Gila for sending this!

2004-08-18

The New Republican: "Edwards for Vice-President!" - TNR

Hey, guys, whatever works.

Unable to come up with a single solid reason for supporting John Kerry as a candidate for President, the editors of The New Republic have taken to extolling the virtues of a putative Vice President Edwards. Peter Beinart (July 19, 2004 print issue, p. 6) opines that Kerry's choice of Edwards shows "a trait rare among politicians: true self-confidence". In passing over lesser-known candidates, Kerry shows courage: "If Gephardt and Vilsack would have obscured Kerry's deficiencies, Edwards exposes them: He's a better speaker than Kerry; he's got a more compelling life story; he has a more powerful critique of the president. Unlike Gephardt, he clearly would use the vice presidency as a stepping stone. Unlike Vilsack, he enjoys an independent base in the party."

Edwards is a better speaker than Kerry ... hmmm, that's not saying much. Heck, Kerry is a better speaker than GWB, but Bush is funnier. Of course, maybe it's time someone took the spotlight off Kerry's own "compelling life story", especially as we find out that more and more of it is just that - a story.

But Beinart has to admit that Kerry's "confident" choice was really born of necessity: every poll indicated that Edwards as a running-mate represented Kerry's ONLY hope of launching a viable opposition to the incumbent George W. Bush. So in a sense, the Democratic Party is running Kerry and Kerry is running Edwards. Hence, "it is Kerry who is shifting his message in response to Edwards". This, according to Beinart, is further evidence of Kerry's invaluable "flexibility".

But the fact remains that the Democrats picked Kerry, not Edwards, to represent them in the contest for the highest office in the land; and in the coming general election, it is Kerry, not Edwards, whom the American electorate will be weighing against President Bush. The picture Beinart gives us isn't one of a strong yet broad-minded candidate who prides himself on an inclusive decision-making style; rather, it's one of a cynical attempt by a desperate Democratic Party to wrest political power away from its ever-more-restless rabble. As the gap between the DNC intelligentsia and the DU mob grows wider, the relevance of a Kerry-Edwards ticket will dwindle. A great vice-presidential candidate does not necessarily create a great presidential candidate - or a successful one.

Beinart ends with the curious claim that Bush's "vision of national security didn't change, even after September 11". Huh? That must be why all the political commentators have noted GWB's dramatic shift away from isolationist policy. As Big Pharaoh wrote, "I don't care about the past. Bush was born on September 11, 2001."

Let's blogroll!

Wictory Wednesday is observed. CaribPundit's Rtfm reminds us of our duties. The donations window is closing ... get your $$$ off to the GOP today!

"War for the soul of Islam." Go check out Kat's latest series at The Middle Ground. One important post, The Enemy Within, reminds us that we are not at war with Islam itself. 'Let me start out by saying, Islam is not my enemy. No more than Catholicism, Judaism, Pentacostle, Amish, Anime, Hindu, Buddha, atheist (yeah, I count that as a religion), etc. Singling out the religion as the "enemy" or any person that worships in that particular mode as the "enemy" is a rather crude and unrealistic method of sorting out the players in our current situation. If you do, you may well alienate a crucial part of the population from being your ally. So, tonight, I started reading all of the sites and other information passed to me from different sources regarding Islam. ...' Read the rest of the post at the link, and don't forget to explore her site for related and current posts.

BigPharaoh says: No Moore! Heeding the results of a reader survey, GM, alias BigPharaoh, says Hell no! I won't go ... to see Fahrenheit 911. And there's an Arabic word, "bagaha" (participial form: bageh), which applies to certain parties in a certain region of the Western world ...

Morning report: August 18, 2004

Ali, Mohammed of ITM to run for office. Ali and Mohammed Fadhil of the "Iraq the Model" blog have announced that they will run for seats in the new Iraqi National Assembly, representing the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party. Read the announcement here. (ITM)

Thaw in Israel-Syria relations? Just days after Israeli chief of staf LtGen Moshe Yaalon announced that peace with Syria was "theoretically possible", Syria appears to have undertaken some confidence-building measures in the Golan, according to the latest bulletin from Debka: 'President Assad is said to have ordered reconstruction of Golan town of Kuneitra, left deserted and in ruins 30 years to support Damascus’ charges of Israeli destruction. Europeans informed step taken as peace gestures towards Israel, which is expected to reciprocate by pulling back its Golan positions 5 km, so abandoning strategic points of vantage on Mt. Avital and low hills.' (Debka)

Deadline for Sadr. Iraqi officials have given Muqtada al-Sadr one last chance to surrender before Iraqi forces storm the shrine in Najaf where he's holed up. (Fox News)

Terror suspects to appear in London court. Two of the suspects connected with the August 1 East Coast terror alert are among the eight who will be arraigned in London on terrorism-related charges. (Fox News)

2004-08-17

***BREAKING NEWS: FADHIL BROS. ALI, MOHAMMED TO RUN FOR IRAQI NATIONAL ASSEMBLY!!!***

Ali and Mohammed Fadhil of the "Iraq the Model" blog have announced that they will seek seats on the Iraqi National Assembly. The brothers will be representing the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party. Please go read the announcement now!


Ali, Mohammed Announce Political Plans

A'ash al-Iraq!

LCR Joins in Call for Inclusiveness

News release:

Coalition of Mainstream Republican Groups Calls for Party Unity Plank in GOP Platform

Groups Will Fight to Insure Platform Reflects Diversity of Opinion in GOP

'(Washington, DC)—A coalition of mainstream Republican groups consisting of the Log Cabin Republicans, Republicans for Choice, and the Republican Youth Majority call on the Republican Party to adopt a "Party Unity" plank in the GOP platform. "We understand that Republicans of good faith can differ over divisive social issues, however our platform should respect the diversity of this party," said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, Patrick Guerriero. "The platform of the Republican Party should represent all Republicans, not just those on the far right. Today we give the GOP a chance to show unity in 2004," said Ann Stone, National Chair of Republicans for Choice.

The Party Unity Plank introduced today reads:

"We recognize and respect that Republicans of good faith may not agree with all the planks in the party's platform. This is particularly the case with regard to those planks dealing with abortion, family planning, and gay and lesbian issues. The Republican Party welcomes all people on all sides of these complex issues and encourages their active participation as we work together on those issues upon which we agree."

"This coalition of mainstream Republican organizations stands here today representing the future of the GOP," said Eli Allagoa, Managing Director of Republican Youth Majority. "This coalition is represented in the primetime speakers our party has chosen for the New York convention and this coalition should be represented in our party's platform," continued Allagoa.

"It is not enough to have inclusive voices like Mayor Giuliani, Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator McCain speaking in primetime, if the platform only represents the voices of exclusion like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell and Rick Santorum," said Guerriero.

The RNC's announced lineup of primetime speakers for the convention includes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and New York Governor George Pataki. Additionally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will open the convention. All of these speakers have long histories of supporting policies that respect the GOP's diversity.

...
Republican Youth Majority is a nationwide network of students and young professionals who believe in developing an inclusive generation of pro-choice, pro-environment, and fiscally conservative Republican leaders. By training a diverse group of students and young professionals to spread our message of tolerance and inclusion, we will ensure a long-term Republican majority. '

See:
Republican Groups Call for Inclusion
Log Cabin Republicans

From slavery to ... slavery?

Human trafficking is a serious problem in Israel, according to this Fox News report on sex slavery.

'TEL AVIV, Israel — Human trafficking is turning into a real problem in Israel, where law enforcement officials say women are bought and sold into the indentured servitude of the sex industry.

The women in question are usually from the former Soviet Union and are traded by the Russian mob. The same Bedouins who smuggle weapons into Israel bring the women up through the Egyptian desert, oftentimes with a load of weapons.

...

Thinking they are escaping the harsh conditions of home, a reported 3,000 prostitutes each year come to Israel. Their fist experience in the Holy Land is a forced march across the Egyptian desert, crossing the Israeli border through routes used to smuggle weapons and drugs.

"They have a big gun. If you not go like everybody, then maybe they kill you," said one woman.
...

Israel recently got off the U.S. State Department's black list of nations that allow human trafficking by prosecuting the individuals who buy, sell and transport the women. But in the last two years, Israeli police have raided more than 200 brothels, prosecuting 150 traffickers.'

Yankee go home!

Enraged by President Bush's plans to withdraw US troops from South Korea, thousands of angry protesters demanded the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea.

Hat tip: Baldilocks, Rachel Lucas.

2004-08-15

Conversations in the Park

As I write this, today's scheduled Muslim/Jewish picnic in Portland's Gabriel Park seems to have become a Jewish/Jewish event; apparently there was a SNAFU in the scheduling. I'll post an update as soon as I find out more.

This is part of an ongoing series of events promoted in part by Rabbi Joey Wolf and Congregation Havurah Shalom of Portland, Oregon, as well as many members of Portland's Muslim community. Past events have been, without exception, enormous successes. All those involved in the planning and promotion of these Jewish/Muslim events deserve our unreserved thanks and respect.

Today's event started at 11am and I left about 12:30pm. I'm back home blogging now (it's about 1:30 Pacific time). I have to thank the numerous folks I chatted with (in the predominantly liberal Jewish crowd) about freedom activism and today's Mideast. This might be a good place to address some of the questions I was asked.

How can you support right-wingers like President Bush and Goli Ameri if you're advocating for human rights and democracy? This is really at the heart of a lot of the questions people ask. My answer? Funny, I thought those were LIBERAL issues! If the so-called "Democratic" Party has been lax in promoting these things in the Middle East - where they are in such desperately short supply - then that is the fault of the Democrats for betraying their own stated ideals. If, further, these same values are being promoted, effectively and successfully, by a conservative, Republican president, then liberals should demonstrate their own open-mindedness by putting principle ahead of partisanship and supporting President Bush on these important matters. (That doesn't mean you have to agree with GWB about everything; I certainly don't.)

Are the peoples of the Middle East ready for democracy? I refer you to the Iranian-American writer Amir Taheri, in an article published January 20, 2003:

'When Iraq's opposition leaders gathered in London this past weekend to discuss the future of their country, one of the few words they agreed on wasn't even of Arab origin. The word is "dimuqratiah" (democracy) which was first introduced to the Arabic political lexicon in the mid-19th century as the Nahda (Awakening) movement spread in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. ... By the start of the 20th century the constitutionalists had won in both Constantinople and Tehran, establishing the first Western-style parliaments in the Muslim world. A Martian visiting the Islamic world in the final years of the 19th century would have noticed the almost unanimous support that the democratic ideal enjoyed among Muslim elites. ...'

Please read the rest of Democracy in Arabia, and take note of what Mirza Agha Kermani wrote in the late 19th century about the secret of the West's success: "The rise of the Western powers as masters of the world, and the decline of Muslim nations into abject servitude, are due to one fact only. In Europe, governments fear the people. In Islam people fear the government."

What about the Patriot Act? What about gay rights? I have a lot of problems with the Patriot Act; so do many conservatives, particularly libertarians. And a surprising number of conservatives also oppose legislation like the Federal Marriage Amendment, either on ideological ("small-government") grounds, or (in the case of David Brooks, who unequivocally supports gay marriage) on moral and humanitarian grounds. But please let's keep a sense of perspective here: we are talking about important civil-rights and civil-liberties issues, but millions of people in the Mideast cannot even begin to discuss such issues as these. Free speech, women's rights, minority rights, and gay rights are NONEXISTENT in places like Iran and Syria. Under the Ba'athist regime, Iraq was nothing less than a giant concentration camp; today, it promises to become the first modern democracy in the Arab world. In plain English: first things first.

So, does single-issue politics put you together with a lot of people who have different beliefs? I don't agree that the freedom/democracy movement is "single-issue politics"; in fact, in many ways I think it is the ONLY issue. The right of people to live as free beings in charge of their own destiny is fundamental; it is the basis for all politics and all social activism; and all individual issues emanate from it. "What is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else - all the rest is commentary." Our responsibility as human beings, and as free citizens of the most powerful country on earth, is to help our fellow humans to achieve the same blessings we take for granted and consider our birthright: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." How best to do this? We must learn from the insights and experiences of others - "all the rest is commentary, now go and study it." This is not single-issue politics; it is the very foundation of what we hold dear as Americans, as Jews, and as human beings. All the rest is commentary; this is the one thing that matters.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to speak with me about the freedom movement; I value your insightful and thought-provoking questions.

2004-08-13

Further Remarks on Gender and Sexuality

(This is a follow-up to my previous post, Iran in Transition?)

The key to the IRI regime's approval of male-to-female gender reassignment ("sex change") is the assumption that all transgender people are heterosexual-identified; that is, they want to transition to the desired gender (in this case female) and then have relationships with the "opposite sex" (men). But in fact, leaving aside for a moment all the misogyny and homophobia of the islamist regime, this is a false assumption. While accurate statistics are hard to come by, transgender activists now estimate that about half of all TG's - both male-to-female and female-to-male - are gay identified. That is, they are born as males and become lesbians, or are born as females and live as gay men.

"But if you were born as a guy, and you like girls, or you were born as a girl and you like guys, then why go to all that trouble? Why make life twice as hard for yourself?" Because gender identity and sexuality are distinct from one another - although they are interrelated. Everyone knows that men and women are different, and that therefore a relationship with a man is different from a relationship with a woman. By the same token, doing a relationship as a woman is different from doing a relationship as a man; there's simply a different dynamic to it.

The subject of "transhomosexuality" and its evil twin "transhomophobia" (to use the ten-dollar words currnet in the queer community) is still new. There has been tremendous progress in the gay world in recent years. (And for you nitpickers, I'm using "gay" in the broad sense because I hate having to hit caps-lock every time and say "GLBT".) But before we go further in discussing lesbian- and gay-identified transgenders, we need to take a quick look at the relations between the transgender and lesbian/gay communities in the West in recent years.

One of the ironies of the gay movement of the 1970s was its quiet disenfranchisement of the transgender community. Ironic because many of the activists of the Stonewall rebellion (most notably the late Sylvia Rivera) were either cross-dressers ("drag queens") or transgendered people. Ironic, too, because the gay liberation movement began mirroring the same prejudice it experienced from the outside world.

The gay movement believed that "fitting in" was the key to success. (I realize this is a bit of an oversimplification, but I'm referring to the mainstream gay movement, which by definition had to be ... well, mainstream.) Gay and lesbian stereotypes were frowned on - but in a telling asymmetry, butch lesbians were accepted while effeminate gay men were not.

During the same period, a similar tactical move occurred in the feminist world. Feminists bought into the fallacy that "in order to be equal to men, we must be like men". Consequently, it became "politically incorrect" to acknowledge any innate differences in gender, other than the obvious reproductive differences. All apparent gender differences in behavior, mannerisms, temperament, language, style of learning, and so on, had to be dismissed as the result of "gender stereotyping" and the "nurture" school prevailed over "nature".

So women tucked themselves into unisex business suits in the "dress for success" fashion, while gays worked hard to prove they were just like everyone else ... except for the small matter of being gay.

These intellectual fads had serious consequences for the transgender world: because if there are no internal differences between women and men, how are we to understand the case of someone who believes they properly belong to the opposite gender? For women throwing off the shackles of patriarchy, it could only mean one thing: betrayal. Women who wanted to be men were betraying the cause of their feminist sisters, and must be trying to gain "male privilege" by going over to the other side. Even worse, men who wanted to be women were charlatans, trying to take away from "real women" the one thing women could call their own: their identity. Such were the attitudes of early feminists toward transsexuals.

Transsexuals represented undesirable "baggage" for the gay and lesbian community, by being visible, and different, and everything gays weren't supposed to be. Perhaps they also made gay men uncomfortable, as many gay men have experienced harrassment for their own feminine mannerisms. Certainly lesbians, being both gay and (perforce) feminists, did not take kindly to the thought of biological males - even postoperative transsexuals - intruding on their world. This was the era in which "womyn-born-womyn only" music festivals like the legendary Michigan Womyn's Music Festival were born.

But as Meg famously declared in A Wrinkle in Time, "Like and equal are not the same thing at all." Countless experiments in egalitarian child-rearing, and mountains of laboratory studies, eventually dispelled the notion that gender differences could be ignored. As lesbians became freer to explore their own sexuality, they discovered that some of their own number were so far at the "butch" end of the butch/femme spectrum that basic assumptions about gender had to be called into question.

In recent years, the lesbian community in particular has made dramatic advances toward the acceptance of differently-gendered people. The MWMF, which still strictly excludes transsexuals, has engendered a protest movement, and the policy is now a matter of serious debate in even the most orthodox lesbian circles. And major lesbian magazines were affected: Girlfriends confronted its readers with the news that one of its columnists, veteran activist Pat Califia, would soon be Patrick Califia; and Curve, in a groundbreaking article titled The Opposite of Opposite Sex, tackled the unique challenges of transgender relationships. [Note: if the article is no longer available at the original link, you can view it at my reference page.]

And now we are back to transhomosexuality. In the previous post, we saw that some authorities in islamist regimes can accept transsexuality within certain limitations. But it is these limitations that tell us everything. No mention is made of female-to-male transitions. Nor does the article say anything about lesbian relationships; but we may assume that transsexual women in Iran face the same prohibitions as other women, including this one.

In the West, of course, things are much better. But it's instructive to look at traditional attitudes toward gender and sexuality, because they often reflect an internalized model of a "gender hierarchy" which has difficulty grasping relationships that don't fit a particular paradigm. And I'll write more on that soon, but I have to stop for now.





Iran in transition?

Thanks to Jane for forwarding this piece.

Iranian Truth: Sex Change in Iran

It's a response to a New York Times story reporting the increasing acceptance of gender reassignment surgery (commonly known as "the sex-change operation") in Iran. I don't have much to add to the post's main points, which are (1) increasing acceptance of transsexual/transgender people anywhere is a good thing, but (2) we cannot necessarily infer (as NYT writer Nazila Fathi apparently does) that a more tolerant policy toward transsexuals means a more tolerant Iranian regime. In fact, this is not the case.

There's a widespread assumption in the West that transsexuals are simply an "extreme" form of homosexuals. This isn't true, and clearly the IRI, for all its prejudices, is operating from a different set of assumtions. In their minds, transsexuals can be "OK" because, and only because, they are not considered homosexuals.

Because of the way civil rights evolved in the West, transgender people are seen as more "out there" than conventionally gendered gays, and, by extension, the transgender rights movement is still seen as a footnote to the gay rights movement - the "T" that comes, almost as an afterthought, at the end of "GLBT".

In revolutionary Iran, there was no Stonewall, no Sylvia Rivera, no gay rights movement. There are no gay rights, period. Transsexuals successfully transitioning male-to-female will be recognized as women, with all the rights enjoyed by women - i.e., none. Please see my earlier post on a gender transition in Kuwait.

Social conservatives in the West should resist the temptation to see this development as a sign of increasing "liberalism" (whether good or bad) in Iran. Rather, they should reconsider the widely-held assumption that transsexuals seek gender reassignment on a whim, or as a fad, or as some kind of misguided political statement.

Social conservatives should ask themselves: Why, under a ruthlessly misogynistic regime, would anyone want to be a woman?

Morning report: August 13, 2004

New Jersey Governor McGreevey admits gay affair, announces resignation. Admitting to having had an extramarital affair with another man, James McGreevey has offered his resignation as the governor of New Jersey. For a full analysis, we now take you to Jane at the New Jersey -based, globally influential Armies of Liberation.

Al-Sadr said wounded. Latest reports indicate that Muqtada al-Sadr has been wounded in Najaf.

2004-08-12

Taheri: The Muslim World's Civil War

... is not about winning an argument. In an especially fine piece, Amir Taheri explains that the West's infatuation with the notion of a 'clash of civilizations' ignores some important realities of today's world: it is the Muslim world itself that is the chief battleground of the conflict, and many of the islamist movement's leaders have been educated in the West; so we cannot assume that the problem is a lack of information about the West. The 9/11 Commission's emphasis on a 'hearts and minds' campaign is misguided, Taheri says, and is symptomatic of such assumptions.

In plain English: It isn't all about us.

Taheri enumerates several important nations in the Muslim world that have been battlegrounds in the struggle for the soul of Islam: Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Malaysia. Although the article does not mention Sudan, it might well be added to the list as a prime example of intra-Muslim conflict. Continuing atrocities show us what can happen when Islam's Klansmen, the Janjaweed, are allowed to operate unopposed.

The article names two of the chief architects of islamist ideology, Abu al-Ala Maudoodi and Sayyed Qutb, who had extensive contact with Western values and education in their own lives. Qutb is extensively profiled in the excellent book 'Terror and Liberalism' by Paul Berman.

To Taheri's article I would only add that while the war in Islam is not only about the West, it cannot be separated from the West either. It isn't all about us but it is, partly, about us. To put it another way: both islamists and non-islamists often speak of moderate, progressive forms of Islam as reflecting "Western" values. But it is also possible to say that many of the values embraced by the West (and, to be plain, America more so than Europe) are the values of liberal Islam as this piece at "Armies of Liberation" demonstrates.

Taheri concludes that 'As for Osama bin Laden, even his fellow Wahhabis have put him beyond the pale. But that has not prevented the Bin Ladenists from pursuing their campaign of terror wherever they can. This war is about finding and neutralizing the killers, not educating them or winning an argument against them.' As more and more Muslims experience islamofascism first-hand, ordinary people in the Muslim world will understand that the enemy is their enemy, and the choice is their choice: surrender to slavery, or fight for freedom.

Morning report: August 12, 2004

US, Iraqi forces strike Sadrist rebels in Najaf. Allied forces have surrounded militiamen loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf and are launching a major offensive against them, according to this CNN report on Najaf operations. A recent report from Reuters says US Marines have seized the center of Najaf.

Mohammed on Najaf. Mohammed at ITM has some thoughts on Najaf. A friend who owns a hotel in Najaf tried to persuade the militiamen to leave the premises, but the hotelier's family, concerned for his safety, told him to leave them alone. Most civilians are said to have deserted the area. Regarding the al-Sadr militia, Mohammed writes: 'I was talking about this with some of my friends and I was trying hard to explain that the government was patient to show that force is not the only nor the 1st choice to confront problems but it will be the last choice and after exhausting all other possible solutions. All this to show that Iraq’s policy will be entirely different from that of the dictatorships that ruled in the past. A policy that seeks what’s best for the people rather than the government’s will or desire, to avoid any possible losses among people. However the truth has to be said and as one of my friends said, “what you say is true but the militias in question were the ones who raised arms and that was 1st choice, and here responding with force will be a self defense rather than a choice made in haste”.' Read the post at the link.

Iran regime's Shahab missile test successful. The IRI successfully tested the latest version of its Shahab-3 missile, which is said to be capable of striking Israel and US bases in the Persian Gulf. The missile, based on a North Korean model and modified with Russian technology, has a range of 1,300 kilometers. The CNN story adds that 'A senior Israeli defense source said Israel believed Tehran was developing a Shahab-4 missile with a range of 1,700 km (1,056 miles) capable of reaching Europe.'

Ahmad Chalabi returns from Iran; Iraqi Interior Ministry won't arrest. According to this AP article appearing on Fox News, former GC member Ahmad Chalabi - who faces a variety of accusations in Iraq - returned from a trip to Iran but appears to be safe from arrest, at least for now, as the Interior Ministry says it will not arrest Chalabi. The criminal charges against Chalabi stem from a stash of counterfeit Ba'athist-era currency that was found in a raid on his Baghdad home in May. His nephew, Salem Chalabi, faces murder charges.

Update

Got my shipment of stuff from storage yesterday. Started unpacking boxes ... like opening a time capsule! Books and papers I haven't seen in 7 years or so. Anyway, that's finally DONE so now I can relax a bit ... my brain is finally clear enough to think.

2004-08-10

Strong Words in Shi'a Iraq

Omar at ITM reports that Shi'a fundamentalism is losing popular support even it its traditional strongholds:

' People here [in Najaf] are not only disgusted and upset with this gang but also most of them showed extreme anger and some of them went as far as condemning Islam and even the Mahdi himself!! I don’t agree of course with that, as Muqtada has nothing to do with Islam.

A She’at taxi driver told me, “ Why are we doing this!? Why among all religions we commit such horrible crimes?? If this is Islam then s**t on it and on Mahdi himself, we don’t want this! They went as far as attacking peaceful churches and I really don’t understand why! This is not the Islam we were raised to believe in, the Islam of peace and tolerance. I wish I could see this idiot dead.”

One of my colleagues; a She’at who used to sympathize greatly with Islamist whether She’at or Sunni, told me today that he is shocked with what the Mahdi army is doing, “ When he revolted the 1st time and they called him an outlaw we didn’t like it. How can they call a cleric who’s the son of Iraq’s most respectable Ayetullah, an outlaw. Now I cannot and I do not want to defend him. He’s a criminal and so are all his followers. They have killed civilians, policemen, destroyed a gas station in Sadr city, and are threatening to burn down the oil pipelines now! Why and for what!?” '

Iraq the Model, August 10, 2004

2004-08-09

Why, yes, Wretchard, as a matter of fact ...

... I do believe the "war on terrorism" is about making the world safe for homosexuals, not to mention transsexuals, women, Jews, Africans, Christians, Muslims, and even straight white males.

2004-08-08

Rice Vows to Stop Mullahs' Nuke

Condoleezza Rice expressed confidence that the international community will put strong pressure on the Iranian regime to dismantle its nuclear program, but refused to say whether the US would act alone if necessary, according to this news item on Rice and Iran's nuclear program.

'"The United States was the first to say that Iran was a threat in this way, to try and convince the international community that Iran was trying, under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, to actually bring about a nuclear weapons program," Rice said on CNN's "Late Edition."


"I think we've finally now got the world community to a place, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to a place, that it is worried and suspicious of the Iranian activities," she said. "Iran is facing for the first time real resistance to trying to take these steps." ...

She also said, "We cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen."'


Goli Ameri: Say No to Terror

In a June 18 news item, congressionial candidate Goli Ameri responded to terrorist acts with a vow to stand firm against terror if elected to represent Oregon's First District.  "These terrorists hate Americans because we are pluralistic, prosperous, and free. There is no negotiating or reasoning to be had with these fanatics. We must find them and destroy them before they can realize their evil intentions. ... In Iran I watched as radicals gained power through the use of terror and maintained it through fear. These terrorists are attempting to cow Americans in the same manner. Today’s atrocity should strengthen our resolve to win this deadly, painful, but necessary war," Ameri said.

Enraged Citizens Thwart Executions in Zahdan, Iran

The city of Zahdan , in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan in southeastern Iran, was the scene of a showdown between citizens and IRI security forces after the announcement of five scheduled executions. After the first victim, a 25-year-old man, was hanged, the crowd erupted in intifada-like rebellion. Read the news release from SMCCDI on Free Iran.


Morning report: August 11, 2004

Allawi in Najaf: militants must lay down arms. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi made a surprise visit to Najaf and urged rebel militiamen to "leave the holy sites quickly, lay down their weapons and return to the rule of order and law." Allawi sait he believes common criminals and foreign insurgents are behind the violence in Najaf - and not Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, as the US Government has stated. (Both Baghdad and Washington may be correct - see below.)

Iranian diplomat reported kidnapped in Iraq. Details are still sketchy, but reports indicate that a militant group has kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in Iraq. The diplomat, Faridoun Jihani, would be the second foreign diplomat from the Muslim world taken hostage in Iraq in recent weeks, following Egypt's Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb who was abducted on July 23 and released on July 26.

Debka on kidnapping, Najaf. In recent bulletins, Debka notes that the "Islamic Army of Iraq" which kidnapped Jihani is the same group that killed two hostages from Pakistan last month. The Israeli-based site also suggests that the IRI regime encouraged al-Sadr's rebellion, and that Allawi may be relying on "local methods of deterrence" to combat Tehran's meddling. Another bulletin reports that Sadr has refused Allawi's call to stand down.

2004-08-06

Haunted Iraq

Do not miss this post from Zeyad. There are some stories there that H. P. Lovecraft would be proud of.

Interesting detail about Zeyad's grandmother, who is a psychic. It's ironic because Zeyad is a confirmed atheist/skeptic/rationalist. Also the part about amulets is interesting: makes me think of the Necronomicon, or the Key of Solomon. There are amulets in the Jewish tradition too (cf. the Book of Raziel).

I've never had a paranormal experience, but I don't discount them. Anyway, I've got to stop here as it's almost Shabbat. See you Saturday night.




CaribPundit Appreciation Post

Congrats to CaribPundit on the fancy new digs. And thanks for this latest post, which reveals yet more neo-fascist tactics by the so-called "Democratic" party: go check out the memo the Dems had their lawyers send out to discourage TV stations from airing the "Swift Boat Vets Against Kerry" ad. And as Rtfm reminds us, 'Tens of millions of Iraqis and Afghanis are actively opposing/fighting al Qaeda right now…Even as they prepare for their own elections - and terrorists who once had safe haven are scurrying between safe-house and spider-hole to survive.' And don't forget to flag your browser with the new home of CaribPundit.

The Terror War

The latest weekly newsletter from Debka informs me that "The al-Qaeda Threat to America is Serious."

Well, duh.

As we recall, the September 11 attacks were in the works for five years or more, so we shouldn't be surprised if "old intelligence" bears on events affecting us now. A few days ago when the press reported that the threat to Wall Street was out of date, I assumed (just as the leftist press intended) that it meant our CIA and Homeland Security folks had screwed up. Fortunately a number of LGF readers clarified the situation. (There's discussion at this thread.)

No doubt, we can expect an attempted large-scale attack on America by the end of this year. Whether it succeeds in causing harm or not will depend on a lot of things; but whether it succeeds in demoralizing us will depend only on ourselves.

Religion and Evolution

Kat in Missouri posted some thoughts on religion that I think are worth picking up on. (Thanks Pat!) All religions have to evolve, and that's always been the case. In fact, if religion is understood as a means for people to improve their moral and spiritual state through the accumulated wisdom of generations, then it seems that evolution is an essential element of religion.

Do Muslim fundamentalists and jihadis outnumber the moderates and progressives? I don't know. As big and diverse as the Muslim world is, I think it's pretty hard to answer that question one way or the other. I'd guess that a great many Muslims - perhaps the largest number - aren't really sure where to stand. They are probably just trying to get through life in a dangerous, confusing, and rapidly changing world.

I am encouraged by what I read on Iraq the Model and Free Iran. It appears that the peoples of these nations have, for the most part, had their fill of Arab nationalism and Islamist theocracy. But other places - Egypt, Palestine, Syria - may be another matter: generations of propaganda have had their effect.

We don't know how this will turn out. We've had some important victories and gained some important friends, but our enemies in the Mideast, Europe, and South Asia are powerful and determined. So we have to keep going, fighting with compassion, wisdom, and courage.

The Blogging Will Continue Until Morale Improves

These are dark times and it's easy to get discouraged. I know I do. Sometimes I wonder what's the point, or else I wonder whether any of us can make a difference. As you know, I do get out of the house once in a while, but my social life is fairly limited and there's really no one I can openly converse with about the things that matter. (Memo to self: first dates are not the place to talk politics. It's not such a good idea on second or third dates, either.)

Nevertheless, we've got to do something, and this little keyboard is all the weaponry I've got these days. I can't stay away from it for too long, or I feel like I'm abandoning my post.

Update

It's raining (finally!) in Portland, and we're getting a break from the hot weather. I've been taking a few days to catch up on some important things (sleep, not least among them). Been working on some new chord changes and blues shuffles that my Guitar Guru gave me. Planning a trip to California in late September to visit Former Mrs. and The Next Generation. Meanwhile have been unwinding with the complete DVD series of Babylon 5 ... although it's eerie how this excellent science-fiction show from a decade ago parallels our world today.

Morning report: August 6, 2004

US forces inflict heavy losses on Sadrists. American forces killed about 300 al-Sadr loyalists in fierce fighting in Najaf, according to news reports. Mohammed at ITM agrees with the Iraqi government's decision not to enter into any negotiations with this enemy.

2004-08-03

The New Republican: The Case Against "The Case Against Bush"

The New Republic didn't endorse John F. Kerry in the Democratic primaries. The magazine (quite sensibly) backed Joe Lieberman. Never ones to stifle dissent, the editors also ran articles endorsing Wesley Clark (by J. Peter Scoblic), John Edwards (Michelle Cottle), Richard Gephardt (Michael Crowley), and even Howard Dean (Jonathan Cohn). (A sidebar in that same issue presciently observes of Kerry: "The core problem with Kerry's candidacy ... has been that the man has never had a clear rationale for running. He has no Big Idea, no passionate constituency, no unique ideological niche." Thank you, Michael Crowley.)

But Democrats will be Democrats, and Kerry was the man they picked to represent them in this year's election. So TNR dutifully rises to the occasion and puts together a two-part series titled (mark this well) "The Case Against George W. Bush." Part 1, by Franklin Foer (July 5/12 print issue), takes the President to task for his approach to expert advisers; Part 2, by Jonathan Chait (July 16), criticizes the administration's transparency, or lack of it. Do they make some fair points? Sure. But they don't convince me that Bush is unfit to be President, or that a Bush presidency imperils the future of the nation. So it is really not a "case against Bush"; it is a list of criticisms, some of them perhaps valid, others almost certainly oveblown. What we're left with at the end is: So what?

The red-shirted DNC activists in my neighborhood have apparently heeded the Kerry campaign's injunction against negative politics, so now instead of "Wanna help get George Bush out of the White House?", they greet you with "Wanna help elect John Kerry?" Well, as they say in Yiddish, Das helft gornisht. That's the problem facing the Democrats in general and TNR in particular: It's not enough to criticize the Bush administration, even if you elevate the criticism to a "case against". You've got to offer an alternative. So what's the alternative to George W. Bush? John F. Kerry, of course.

The New Republic didn't make a "case for John F. Kerry" during the primary, and it still hasn't made one. That's a shame, because a good magazine like TNR ought to be able to put on together.

Say, maybe I can help.

(Scroll down ... )

The Case for John F. Kerry























Morning report: August 3, 2004

Israel braces for mega-terror. A recent Debka bulletin states that Israel's military intelligence chief Major General Zeevi anticipates large-scale Hezbollah attacks, possibly targeting senior military officers. Zeevi believes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved by military means alone. (Debka)

Kerry fundraiser's anti-democracy suit gets underway. The case of Nemazee Vs. SMCCDI and Aryo B. Pirouznia has been assigned a case number and will be heard in Dallas. The plaintiff, Hassan Nemazee, is John Kerry's main fundraiser and is considered an IRI regime apologist by Iranian freedom activists. The student democracy group SMCCDI sees this $10 million lawsuit as a device to stifle its pro-democracy activities and buy time for the regime. SMCCDI is counter-suing. According to SMCCDI, "It's to note that in addition to many evidences, the freedom slowing role of Nemazee and some of his colleagues, such as, Akbar Ghahary and Soosan Akbarpoor, who are also part of the highest level of the Kerry Campaign, has been praised by some of the Islamic governmentally linked newspapers, such as Etemaad daily, which are praising the gang for having been able to neutralize some of the opposition's activities in the US." The pro-democracy organization is counter-suing; please consider making a donation to their legal fund. Full details are posted at this topic: Help SMCCDI Counter-Sue Nemazee. If the post has moved, please check the Free Iran forum. Watch this blog for more information. (SMCCDI / Free Iran)

Omar: West must avoid religion trap. Writing about the al-Qaeda attacks on Christian churches in Iraq, Omar warns that "This Is a Trap" set by terrorists to lure the West into believing that the Mideast conflict is religious in nature. On the contrary, Omar say, most Iraqis understand the church killings to be another attack on Iraqis. 'This time they chose to attack what they think is a soft target and I believe that their choice is based on two sick wishes: The first one: they think that by terrorizing the Iraqi Christian community the Iraqi Christians will get panicked and choose to leave Iraq and thus creating a situation of insecurity and distrust among Iraqis. The second one: with these attacks they want to drag the West to believe that this a war on Christianity and that it came as a reaction to the “war on Islam”. They want to give their war a religious shape to inflame religious sensitivities between Christians and Muslims and they want the Muslims in the West to be persecuted so that they can use it to make simple minded Muslims believe that the war on terror is a crusade.' The first goal, he says, will find no "measurable success" in Iraq; the second depends on the West. (Iraq the Model)

Comments: I agree with MGen Zeevi that the Israli/Palestinian conflict will not be solved by military means alone - nor by Israel alone. Continuing efforts at reconciliation between the two peoples are necessary to undo decades of mutual hostility. But little real progress can be made as long as foreign regimes are going all-out to derail the peace process, e.g. the IRI/Hezbollah terrorists. Peace between Israel and Palestine will not be achieved in Ramallah and Jerusalem, but in Tehran and Damascus - and this means regime change. The result will be a better future for the whole Mideast.

2004-08-02

Iran Regime Change Petition

has over 500 signatures. Is yours one of them? Click here:

True Security Begins with Regime Change in Iran

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Update

Finally got completely moved out of my old place and into my new one. Still have to wait for the rest of my books: a bunch of my old books and belongings that I've had in storage in San Francisco for several years, plus the book collection I inherited from my parents. But yeah, I think I'm actually gonna have room for everything now.

Expect to get back to posting on something like a regular basis this week.

Morning report: August 2, 2004

Sistani condemns church bombings. Iraq's Shi'a leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani has condemned the attacks on Iraqi Christian churches in a strongly worded statement. The al-Qaeda attacks mark the opening of a new front in the global terror war, and may indicate an attempt by al-Qaeda to distance itself from the remaining Ba'athist militia, while attempting to derail the latter's secret negotiations with Washington (see next item). (Fox News)

Et tu, Ba'ath? A Debka analysis suggests that the church bombings may represent al-Qaeda's effort to sabotage Ba'ath negotiations with the US Government aimed at reducing or eliminating Ba'athist attacks on American forces. Debka states that an unnamed, high-profile, non-Iraqi Arab official is acting as mediator for these negotiations, and adds that 'the negotiating track began with a preliminary condition: Baath and Sunni leaders must undertake to disengage from al Qaeda and other foreign Arab fighters.' (Debka)

IRI regime flouts nuclear accords. The islamist regime in Iran has made it clearer than ever that it has no intention of abiding by nuclear weapons accords. Recent news reports indicate that Tehran is resuming uranium enrichment activity in defiance of an earlier deal with the European Union. The Kerry campaign's proposed strategy is to provide Iran more fuel. (Telegraph via Free Iran; MSNBC - hat tip, LGF)

Khomeini property torched. News item: 'A huge fire dammaged heavily one of the two towers of Khomeini's commemorative premises in the Iranian Capital. Hundreds of firefighters and security forces were sent ... ' (Comment: Burn, baby, burn. - aa) (SMCCDI / Free Iran)