2004-11-30

Best of Dreams Into Lightning

... And while you're visiting, why not check out my current posts here:
DREAMS INTO LIGHTNING - Current Posts

Bruchim ha-ba'im!




WOMEN AND POWER: Gender, politics, and the price of empowerment – responsibility.
Women and Power
But Can She Vote?
Iran in Transition?
Gender and Sexuality

IRAN
Iran Regime Change Petition
And Iran...

THE L WORD: Liberalism in crisis.
Response to Thomas Friedman: America's Addiction
Response to E.L. Doctorow: The Unfeeling Left
Berman: Another Peace Movement
An Infinite Supply of Arab Murderers
The Moral Struggle

ORIGINAL FICTION
The Zero Ring
The Rose of Paradise
The Death Wish

SPIRITUALITY
The World of Tomorrow
The Kabbalah: complete series
Like a Persian: Madonna and Esther
Vashti and Freedom
I Am a Jew and My Father Was a Jew


WORDS TO LIVE BY
Faith



Muslim Zionist Speaks Out

Professor Khaleel Mohammed of San Diego State University is not afraid to speak out in favor of Israel - and he cites the following verse in the Koran for support:
"O my people! enter the land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin." Koran 5:21 (al-Ma'ida)

According to this article in Ha'Aretz, Professor Mohammed stands by his controversial view that the land of Israel is ordained - "katab" in Arabic - for the Jews. ""If Allah katab the Holy Land to the Jews, then it is theirs unless stated otherwise - and it is not stated otherwise in the Koran," he says. In fact, Mohammed explains, the Koran goes on to record that the Jews were punished for their "cowardice" in failing to enter the land at Moses' call, and had to wander 40 years in the wilderness. But "They received punishment for their sins - a prohibition limited in time on their entry to the land. This makes no difference to the principle whereby the land was intended for them."

As for Israel and the Palestinians: "The establishment of the State of Israel is the expression of the fact that the Jews desired to return to their land. The State of Israel was established thanks to the `Jewish jihad,' and the acts of terror that are being carried out by Palestinians inside Israel are not jihad because this is not their land."

Go read the whole article at the link. Hat tip: Ocean Guy.

Muslim Liberals Call for Justice

Three leading Muslim liberals - Jawad Hashim, Shakir al-Nabulsi, and Lafif Lakhdar - have written an open letter to the United Nations calling for strong action against terrorists. The letter, now available in English translation, urges the UN Security Council to establish an "international tribunal to prosecute individuals, groups, or entities including, but not limited to, Muslim clerics, who issue religious edicts (fatwas) inciting terrorist acts."

Go visit Iraq the Model to find out more, and be sure to follow the e-mail link. Dr. Hashim welcomes signatures from people of all religions and nationalities; I've just added my own name - now it's your turn.

2004-11-28

Morning Report: November 28, 2004

Iran regime continues nuclear dance with EU. In another installment of the tedious IRI/EU nuclear charade, the Europeans at one point broke off talks with the Iranian regime, according to a recent Debka bulletin: 'Europeans break off attempt to rescue uranium enrichment deal with Iran at UN nuclear watchdog meeting in Vienna, opening door to UN sanctions. Attempt collapsed when Iranian FM Kharrazi rejected their draft resolution. He also refused to drop demand for exemption of 20 centrifuges from uranium enrichment freeze.' But now CNN is reporting that the islamist entity has "backed down". In the estimation of this AP report, 'Iran apparently has given up its demand to exempt some equipment from a deal freezing uranium enrichment programs that can make nuclear weapons, diplomats said Sunday.' The AP's sources said the IAEA had received a letter 'containing a pledge not to test some centrifuges during the freeze it agreed to November 7 during negotiations with Britain, France and Germany on behalf of the European Union'; this move will apparently head off a confrontation with the UN Security Council.

Iran considers Saudi Arabia a nuclear state - MENL. Middle East News Line reports that the IRI regime believes Saudi Arabia already has nuclear weapons: 'Iranian sources said the Islamic leadership in Teheran assessed that the Saudi kingdom has acquired access to nuclear weapons and technology. The sources said Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in 2003 with Pakistan for the latter to help the Arab kingdom in both the deployment of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.' (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

"Large buildings full of students." Progressive Arab columnist Eissa Al-Halyan, writing in the Saudi daily al-Jazirah, excoriates the educational establishment in Arab countries in this article made available through MEMRI.

Political Theory Sunday. A reader at The Corner weighs in with this post on Leo Strauss and the neoconservative movement.

France Is a Great Country

... if you've just spent a week in Libya.

Michael J. Totten - agent extraordinaire of the Portland Mukhabarat - is on his way back to Stumptown after a week in the land of "North Africa's Caligula". Meanwhile, he's making the most of his unexpected two-day layover in Paris.

Let's blogroll!

Post-Thanksgiving special.

For that warm, fuzzy feeling, visit this post at Strangechord!

Dale is a special person with a special story. Read it at this post on Straight Up With Sherry.

Stuffed with stuffing, wintermelonsoup still needs time to decompress after a long and grueling tour in Iraq. Her girlfriend Beth has her own Thanksgiving thoughts. (Probably Beth can relate to Melissa's new single, "Christmas in America".)

And finally -

For a Halakhically correct Thanksgiving, you must study this. Hat tip: Ocan Guy. Next year at Plymouth Rock?

Gay Marriage Debate

I'd post on gay marriage more often if I could handle the subject this well. (Okay, call it "same-sex marriage" or SSM if you want. Picky, picky.)

At the moment I can't think of a single thing to add to Ampersand's points, but it's early in the morning and I just had to post this link. Go read it.

2004-11-27

Update

Had an exhausting but wonderful visit with The Next Generation today; he'll be here one more day before going back home to San Francisco.

I've begun posting my Dad's longer World War II memoir here. I doubt that all 126 pages of my father's experiences from San Francisco to New Georgia will be of interest to the general reader, but you're free to drop by and take a look. Possibly historians or WWII buffs may find something interesting here; at any rate, my father was a very fine writer.

That's all for now ...

2004-11-26

Discovery!

For readers who have been following my father's WWII memoirs, there's important news: I've just unearthed his lengthy, chronological memoir of his years in the Pacific war.

I've already posted the complete text of a much shorter piece, "Pacific Driftwood / Jottings", a collection of impressions of the war which Dad compiled from the writings of his fellow soldiers. While cleaning house after my mother's death, I'd located both that work and another among my father's writings, but I managed to misplace the longer journal in the months since then. But I've just now found the longer paper where I had so cleverly hidden it from myself, and I will begin posting it online as soon as I get the chance. It runs to 126 typewritten pages, beginning with Chapter 1, "Bon voyage? What do you mean, 'bon'?" and ends with Chapter 15, "The Cannoneers Had Radar Ears". A sixteenth chapter, titled "Marching Around New Georgia", apparently was never written beyond the title page.

So, pour yourself a cuppa joe and stay tuned.

2004-11-25

You say you want a revolution?

Ali at Iraq The Model tells about a revolution in Iraq.

A Note on Comments

I love getting comments! I check my comments often; as the blog owner, I can check them directly through HaloScan. This makes it easy for me to find new comments on old posts.

Unfortunately, while the HaloScan page displays the most recent comment on top, it does not link the comment to the original post! So please do me a favor: if you're commenting on an old post, try to mention the date, post title, or topic of the post so I have some idea of the context for your comment.

Thanks!

Thanksgiving Day: Freedom and Responsibility

As Americans, we have much to be thankful for. Yes, it may be a trite sentiment, but it's still true. We need to acknowledge, individually and as a nation, our blessings; and for those of us who are religious, it goes without saying that this implies acknowledging how deeply we are beholden to the Creator.

I will argue here that thanksgiving is not merely a fair sentiment, nor even solely a spiritual experience; it is a moral duty. This is because our good fortune places a moral burden on us. If we have wealth, then we have the duty to spend it wisely and to donate to charity. If we have power, then we have the duty to use it in the service of justice. If we have freedom, then we have the duty to learn about the plight of those living under tyranny - to ask the questions they themselves are forbidden to ask - and to work to set them free.

If freedom brings responsibility, does oppression - or victimhood - bring absolution from responsibilty? No. If we lack the freedom to act, then we must learn from our experience and resolve to right such wrongs as we have endured as soon as we have the chance. My Islamic teacher, Imam Mamadou Toure, explained it this way: "Every person has a duty to fight oppression. If they are experiencing oppression, they have a duty to fight for freedom. If this is not possible - for example, if the person's family is threatened - then, at a very minimum, the person has a duty to hate the oppression in their heart, and to fight it when they do have the chance."

Jason Holliston has an excellent post on the subject of victimhood. The victim mentality is the greatest enemy of dignity, of responsibility, and ultimately of freedom.

We are often tempted to believe that "suffering ennobles". It does not. As liberals, we are sometimes taught that "oppressed people understand the suffering of others". This is a dangerous myth. To be dealt with cruelly by others is not, in and of itself, either uplifting or enlightening; it is an opportunity to understand the pain of injustice, but it is no more than that. How we grow from our experiences, whether pleasant or painful, is our choice as individuals - and our responsibilty.

The Torah teaches this principle unequivocally:

"You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." - Exodus 22:29

"You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor, nor show deference to the rich..." - Leviticus 19:15

"You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger ... Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment." - Deuteronomy 24:17-18

On this Thanksgiving holiday, let us remember our blessings and acknowledge them; let us also give thanks for the moral burden they place on us. For that, too, is a blessing.


Biblical quotes are from the Jewish Publication Society translation.

Postscript: Please read this recent post by the Ten O'clock Scholar.

Let's blogroll!

Thanksgiving Day special. I'll be posting a Thanksgiving piece (a bit more serious than my previous post) a little later on today. Meanwhile, check out these holiday-themed pieces:

Sherri, a new member of our blogroll, might have been thinking of Captain John Smith's famous admonition to the settlers - "he that will not work, will not eat" - when she wrote this Thanksgiving Day post on Straight Up With Sherri.

Kat at The Middle Ground keeps it short and sweet today, with this message. While you're there, be sure to check out the TMG main page. Kat, who apparently works about 40 hours a day, is posting a very informative series on Middle East history ... while holding down a day job (and I mean a REAL job)!

Jane at Armies of Liberation has some thoughts for Thanksgiving from the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twenty-first centuries. Read it all here.

LaShawn Barber shares some passages from the Gospels and a few thoughts of her own, here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2004-11-24

Pilgrims

As Americans reach for the stuffing and turkey basters, it is well to reflect on the meaning and origins of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

William Bradford, in his classic Of Plymouth Plantation, records that in 1621:
They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strenth and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came firest (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

A letter by Edward Winslow, dated December 11, 1621, relates:
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labours. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted.

And so the Pilgrims embarked on their task of founding a new nation, a new culture, a new world. Sustained by their courage and their faith in Providence, they persevered through good times and bad.

But all was not perfect among these early pioneers. For all their virtues and their ideals, they, too, had human failings. Life in the settlements was harsh, and sometimes, despite the Pilgrims' heroic efforts towards virtue, the more unpleasant aspects of human nature emerged. And so we read, in chapter 32 of Bradford, the unfortunate case of a young man who was brought to trial for unnatural acts involving
a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving.

2004-11-23

Morning Report: November 23, 2004

Yankunovich declared winner in disputed Ukraine election. The Russian-leaning incumbent, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, was declared the winner in the recent election, defeating the pro-Western challenger Viktor Yushchenko. Recent news reports indicate massive protests by Yushchenko's supporters. Dreams Into Lightning will be following this situation as it develops.

Second "Islamic Scholars" leader assassinated in two days. Another high-ranking member of Iraq's Islamic Scholars Association was murdered Monday. "Sheikh al-Zuheir killed by gunmen in Miqdadiya near Baqouba day after assassination by drive-by shooter of Sheikh al-Feydhi in Mosul", according to the latest Debka bulletin. The anti-Western Islamic Scholars Association had threatened to boycott the upcoming Iraqi elections.

Iran Regime Arrests Feminist Bloggers

Ampersand at Alas, a Blog reports that more than 25 internet activists for women's rights and human rights have been summarily arrested in Iran. Two Iranian women leaders, Fereshteh Ghazi and Mahoubeh Abbasgholizadeh, are among those arrested by the regime. Please go read the post, which contains e-mail links to Iranian and international officials. These folks need to hear from you.

This letter from the International Women's Media Foundation might give you some ideas.

Also, please support Iranian freedom organizations like these:
  • Free Iran

  • SOS Iran: Iran of Tomorrow Movement

  • NCRI: Iran-e-Azad

  • Marze Por Gohar: Iranians for a Secular Republic


  • Thanks!

    2004-11-22

    Join the Spirit Of America Blogger Challenge

    If you keep a blog, be sure to read up on the Spirit Of America Challenge and invite your readers to participate!

    Dreams Into Lightning readers, if you should be moved to acknowledge this blog in your donation (thank you!), here's the information you'll need.

    Dreams Into Lightning Joins Spirit Of America Donor Challenge

    You - yes, YOU! - can help American troops build a better future for Iraqis. Spirit of America is a humanitarian relief organization operated by American service members overseas. Keep watching this space to find out how you can help Dreams Into Lightning make a difference.

    News Roundup: Japan, China, Iran

    Japan's more assertive stance was apparent at the recently concluded APEC summit, with Koizumi showing little interest in mollifying either China or Russia in territorial disputes stemming from East China Sea gas fields and the Kuril Islands respectively. The increasingly confident - and pro-US - Japan is seen as a potential ally against possible threats from China and North Korea. More information is available from Stratfor.

    China, eager to fuel its faltering economic engine, has recently been courting the IRI regime in Iran. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is working to produce a nuclear missile, with over 350 sites involved, according to this Debka report:
    ... a “walk-in” source approached US intelligence earlier this month with more than 1,000 pages purported to be Iranian drawings and technical documents, including a nuclear warhead design and modifications to enable Iranian ballistic missiles to delivery an atomic strike. The warhead design is based on implosion and adjustments aimed at fitting the warhead on existing Iranian missiles. DEBKAfile’s military experts believe the data referred to the Shehab-3 and its improved version, the Shehab-4. The US official said he would not have revealed this much had not Powell alluded to the intelligence publicly. If the information is confirmed, it would mean the Islamic republic is further along than previously known in developing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.


    MEMRI reports that Omar Hadid, one of Saddam's private guards prior to the liberation of Iraq, was also a key aide to Zarqawi and went to Afghanistan for training with al-Qaeda. Omar's brother, Hamid Hadid, was the bureau chief of al-Jazeera in Iraq, before al-Jazeera was closed by the Iraqi government for inciting violence. (This would fall under the category of "Saddam-Zarqawi-al-Qaeda-al-Jazeera links".) This November 19 item at the MEMRI News Ticker is attributed to al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, November 19.

    War Crimes

    'In Fallujah, where U.S. Marines and soldiers are still battling pockets of resistance, insurgents waved a white flag of surrender before opening fire on U.S. troops and causing casualties, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert said Saturday without elaborating.

    U.S. troops in the northern city of Mosul found the bodies of nine Iraqi soldiers Saturday, all shot in the back of the head. The military first reported that seven of the victims were beheaded, but a second statement issued later Saturday said those reports were false.

    Four decapitated bodies found earlier in the week in Mosul have not been identified, the military said Saturday. American and Iraqi forces detained 30 suspected guerrillas overnight in Mosul, the U.S. military said.'
    - AP article (Hat tip: Big Pharaoh.)

    Chamber of Horrors

    'Three empty bottles of whiskey were dropped beside the front walk, and a pair of the type of black gym shoes worn by many insurgents was in the doorway beside a black ski mask. Inside, a black banner bearing Arabic writing was taken off a wall in an empty room. Translated, it read "There is no God but God" and "The Organization of Tawhid and Jihad."' This news story describes the discovery of some of the torture/execution chambers used by Zarqawi's network, Al-Qaeda In Iraq, formerly known as Tawhid And Jihad. The site "is one of more than 20 found in Fallujah", according to the article. (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

    Morning Report: November 22, 2004

    President Bush: hands-on manager. President Bush personally intervened in a dispute among security agents, pulling his lead Secret Service agent away from Chilean guards after the Chileans tried to prevent the Secret Service from accompanying the President to a state dinner. (CNN)

    Iraqi government stands by January 30 election date. The date for Iraqi general elections has been set for January 30, al-Sabah reports:
    The UN  High Commission on the Elections has announced that the elections will be held in 30th January . That announcement forms a reply on the rumors circulated two days ago. Which referred to the possibility of postponing the elections under pressure and demand of some regional and  local political forces.Dr. Fareed Riyaal the spokesman of the commission said that the specified date will include the elections of the national association and elections of the national assembly in Kurdistan region in addition to the elections of councils in 18 Iraqi provinces.He denied the rumors on the contacts made by Lakhdar al- Ibrahimi the UN special envoy with the Iraqi parties to postpone the elections , saying that is groundless and it is just predictions because the commission is the only concerned side in adopting the decisions concerning all elections in Iraq.  


    Debka: 350 nuclear sites in Iran. "What installations?" an IRI official asked innocently, when international nuclear inspectors requested, last May, to revisit installations they had seen earlier in the year. According to this Debka report, US intelligence estimates that as many as 350 sites may have to be hit in order to destroy the regime's nuclear weapons program. Additionally, Pentagon planners are convinced that such an operation must also accomplish regime change:
    The first stage would be a bombing mission against the regime’s primary prop, the Revolutionary Guards. The second stage would be the destruction of known and probable nuclear sites – a much harder mission given the hundreds of sites known and unknown number and carefully camouflaged underground behind cunning window-dressing. US intelligence estimates as many as 350 sites. It does not have precise knowledge of which are the most important or even which are active. Regime change in stage three would entail ground action.
    Dreams Into Lightning encourages readers to voice support for regime change in Iran by signing the Iran Regime Change Petition, which is endorsed by the activist forum Free Iran.

    2004-11-21

    Let's blogroll!

    Some people think of terrorism as a "nuisance" comparable to organized crime. Kat at The Middle Ground puts the same analogy in a more useful context: like the generations-long battle with the Mafia, it will be a slow and difficult, but ultimately winnable, war. Winnable, that is, if we remain committed to shrewd and relentless prosecution of the battle. BTW, I've added a long-overdue sidebar link to TMG as well.

    Zeyad at Healing Iraq has gotten a much-too-close-for-comfort view of the fighting. I don't know how he manages to stay sane enough to blog ... he must have a pair of those brass cojones.

    Jane at Armies of Liberation is more than a little bit miffed about journalistic double standards, and she's not mincing words in her latest article published in the Arab News. She also picks up where a previous Dreams Into Lightning post left off, with a comprehensive listing of progressive Arab, Muslim, and Middle Eastern organizations.

    As you've probably figured out by now, your host doesn't get out that often, and rarely manages to leave downtown Portland. Michael J. Totten doesn't have that problem. Follow this post to his article on his recent trip to Tunis. Also read MJT's recent posts for his thoughts on Zeyad's predicament, and a guest post by Jeremy Brown on Fascists, Nazis, and assorted other totalitarians.

    A plague of locusts is the subject of recent posts by Allison Kaplan Sommer and Imshin. Let's hope this turns out not to be a major problem in Israel.

    Drawing the line. Ampersand of Alas, a Blog offers some thoughtful critiques of the controversy surrounding various cartoon or caricature portrayals of our next Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Amp isn't impressed by the International Women's Forum's accusations of "racist" political cartoons, but is nevertheless troubled by the racial overtones of Danziger's and Oliphant's cartoons.

    Dumb and dumber? You were probably worried that the Washington Post was too high-brow for most readers. You weren't? Well, fret not, because they're lowering the reading level even further to try to stop the paper's circulation hemorrhage. And, oh yeah, they're doing all kinds of other neat stuff ... LaShawn Barber has the details.


    Update

    Regular posting will return to Dreams Into Lightning starting tomorrow. I've gotten caught up on American Literature and I've gotten a handle on Simpson's Rule and other approximate integration techniques ... now if I can remember the difference between the Shell Method and the Disk Method, I'll have Solids of Revolution down pat, and I'll be almost done with second-semester Calculus.

    Looking forward to Thanksgiving weekend, as The Next Generation is coming up from San Francisco for a visit.

    On the home front, I just got a new vacuum cleaner and a new bed - no more sleeping on a futon on the floor! - and the apartment is finally starting to look presentable. And my DVD set of "The L Word" arrived last week, so I've got no shortage of mindless melodrama to keep me entertained during my downtime.

    There's a lot I want to write about, particularly around anti-Semitism, authority and responsibility, and the changing landscape of American culture and politics. Stay tuned.

    2004-11-19

    Hezbollah Drone Update

    On November 12, a Hezbollah-operated reconnaissance drone called the Mirsad-1 penetrated Israeli airspace and flew over the northern town of Nahariya for fifteen minutes. The incident raises serious questions about Israel's air security, according to this Debka report. Debka notes that a Patriot air-defense system normally posted in the area was absent on the day of the intrusion, leaving the area guarded only by the less advanced Hawk missiles - which, unlike the Patriots usually on duty, lacked the ability to detect small objects like the drone. Debka points out another curious aspect of the incident: the footage broadcast after the overflight, purportedly shot by the drone, "shows a Patriot battery present". Either these photographs were taken by a previous, undetected mission over Israel, or they were illicitly obtained from another source such as a private satellite company. The report also weighs in on an unidentified submarine spotted of Israel's coast at the time of the incident; read the article at the link for full details.

    RELATED:
    Morning Report: April 12, 2005 (Hezbollah drone penetrates Israeli airspace.)
    Hezbollah Drone Update
    Eagle/Heron, and Another UAV

    2004-11-18

    Some of the Boys Dressed in Pink Shorts Anyway

    Hat tip: Emily at Strangechord
    You knew, didn't you, that when a rural elementary school in East Texas had a "let's swap gender roles" day, someone would complain that the practice "promotes homosexuality" (shudder).


    Students in Spurger, Texas were encouraged by school officials to wear camouflage hunting gear to class on Wednesday after they called off their annual "TWIRP Day" in which boys dressed as girls and vice versa.

    The cross-dressing tradition began some years back as a kind of Sadie Hawkins Day where girls ask boys to go out on dates.

    TWIRP stands for "The Woman Is Requested To Pay."

    But Delana Davies, who has two children in the Spurger school, complained this year that the tradition could promote homosexuality and got the Liberty Legal Institute, a right-wing Christian legal group, to take up the cause.

    "It might be fun today to dress up like a little girl -- kids think it's cute and things like that. And you start playing around with it and, like drugs, you do a little here and there (and) eventually it gets you," Davies told reporters.


    So in the interests of promoting heterosexuality (and deer hunting), the authorities re-designated the day as "camouflage day". Now personally, I know some women who look fabulous in camouflage and combat boots, but I'm not sure that's quite what the school had in mind. Anyway, you can read about the whole subversive plot here.

    Say You're Sorry

    You may recall that a group of well-meaning Americans has seen fit to apologize on behalf of the American people for the recent Iraq war.

    These folks are a little behind the times. A year ago, Mohammed at Iraq the Model wrote that the peace movement does, indeed, owe the Iraqi people an apology:

    I don’t know really know why Saddam’s regime lasted for over three decades, but I am sure as an Iraqi who survived that period that there’re no legal or moral justifications for it to remain.

    I was counting days and hours waiting to see an end to that regime, just like all those who suffered the cruelty of that brutal regime. It’s been really a disgrace chasing the world ,the world of the 21st. century, reminding it how incapable it was to aid the oppressed and to sue those who dispised all the values of humanity. Through out these decades I lost trust in the world governments and international committees. Terms like (human rights, democracy and liberty..etc.)became hallow and meaningless and those who keep repeating these words are liars..liars..liars.

    I hated the U.N and the security council and Russia and France and Germany and the arab nations and the islamic conference.
    I’ve hated George Gallawy and all those marched in the millionic demonstrations against the war .It is I who was oppressed and I don’t want any one to talk on behalf of me, I, who was eager to see rockets falling on Saddam’s nest to set me free, and it is I who desired to die gentlemen, because it’s more merciful than humiliation as it puts an end to my suffer, while humiliation lives with me reminding me every moment that I couldn’t defend myself against those who ill-treated me.

    What hurt me more and kept my wound bleeding was that they gave Saddam a tribune so the skinner can talk, and offered him a diplomatic representation almost all-over the world to broadcast his filthy propaganda and sprinkle Iraq’s wealth on his supporters. I really didn’t understand those countries demands to take away our misery. Did they really think that the sanctions were the cause?

    We were not even human, Saddam wiped off our humanity , we were just numbers and a lot of Identity cards that we had to show wherever we went.

    The Baath idea was this:
    YOU’RE A CITIZEN , THEN YOU’RE A SUSPECT

    Believe me , we were living in the” kingdom of horror”.

    Please tell me how could the world that claims to be civilized let Saddam launch chemical weapons on his own un-armed people? Shame..

    Can anyone tell me why the world let Saddam remain and stood against America’s will to topple him?

    Till when will the charts of human rights remain incompulsory , cancel them, because they remind you of your big disgrace.
    Keep giving time and tribunes to regimes like those in Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Libya to justify their presence.

    To me I don’t recognize your committees and I have no time to listen to that nonsense, I’ve got along way to walk building my country and helping my people forget the days of abasement.

    You all owe the Iraqi people an apology.

    2004-11-15

    The Real Peace Movement

    The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism: United we stand.
    Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism
    The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism does not seek to change the tenets of the religion. However, the Coalition believes that the Koran only provides general principals of governance which leaves the faithful with substantial flexibility to modernize popular Muslim practices and beliefs.

    The Coalition seeks to encourage discussion among Muslims about every aspect of their religion as it applies to modern times. The unwillingness of the Muslim religious establishment to consider modernizing the faith has relegated most Muslims to third world status and in many instances to a medieval existence.

    Those who seek change are often afraid to speak out because of the aggressive and violent nature of those Muslims who reject change. The silence of peaceful Muslims has resulted in the hijacking of Islam by extremists and terrorists. This must change.

    ... The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism strongly supports the promotion of democracy in the Middle East. However, the Coalition cautions that imposing democracy on the Middle East without first promoting secularism and destroying terrorism may lead to the creation of Islamic extremist states that will ultimately reject the democracy that brings them to power.

    The Coalition supports the right of all peoples to self government, but recognizes the importance of a solid system of government which guarantees a secular democracy protecting the rights of all people, regardless of gender, race or religion, and strives tirelessly to eliminate threats to democracy including extremism and terrorism. The Coalition fosters this secular environment by opening debates on the prerequisite of secularism in governments in the Middle East & North Africa, rallying against Islamist propaganda in media outlets, in institutions of education and in political campaigns, and by exploring the creation of secular democracy-preserving constitutions for Arab and Muslim countries.

    ... The Coalition believes that fundamentalist Islamic terror represents one of the most lethal threats to the stability of the civilized world. The existence of Islamic terrorists is the existence of threats to democracy. There is no room for terrorism in the modern world and the United States should take a no-tolerance stance on terrorism in order to avoid another tragedy, along the lines of 9-11. With the added threat of biochemical weapons, the call to defeat terrorism has never been so urgent.


    Faith Freedom: Ex-Muslims speak out.
    FaithFreedom
    Today humanity is being challenged. Unthinkable atrocities take place on daily basis. There is an evil force at work that aims to destroy us. The agents of this evil respect nothing; not even the lives of children. Every day there are bombings, every day innocent people are targeted and murdered. It seems as if we are helpless. But we are not!

    We are losing the war against terrorism because we do not know our enemy. Terrorism is just a tool, the enemy is the ideology behind terrorism and that is Islam.

    Those of us, who know Islam, know that the understanding of the terrorists of Islam is correct. They are doing nothing that their prophet did not do. Murder, rape, assassination, beheading, massacre and mutilation of the dead "to delight the hearts of the believers" were all practiced by Muhammad.

    If truth matters it should be now! This is the time that we have to find the root of the problem and eradicate it. The root of Islamic terrorism is Islam. The proof of that is the Quran.

    We ex-Muslims have seen the face of the evil and have risen to warn the world. No matter how painful the truth may be, only truth can set us free.

    Arabs For Israel: Yes, really.
    Arabs For Israel
    We can support the State of Israel and the Jewish religion and still treasure our Arab and Islamic culture.
    There are many Jews and Israelis who freely express compassion and support for the Palestinians. It is time that we Arabs express reciprocal compassion and support.
    The existence of the State of Israel is a fact that should be accepted by the Arab world.
    Israel is a legitimate state that is not a threat but an asset in the Middle East.
    Every major World religion has a center of gravity. Islam has Mecca, and Judaism certainly deserves its presence in Israel and Jerusalem.
    Diversity should not be a virtue only in the USA, but should be encouraged around the world. We support a diverse Middle East with protection for human rights, respect and equality under the law to all minorities including Jews and Christians.
    Palestinians have several options but are deprived from exercising them because of their leadership, the Arab League and surrounding Arab and Moslem countries who do not want to see Palestinians live in harmony with Israel.
    If Palestinians want democracy they can start practicing it now.
    We stand firmly against suicide/homicide terrorism as a form of Jihad.
    We are appalled by the horrific act of terror against the USA on 9/11/2001.
    Arab media should end the incitement and misinformation that result in Arab street rage and violence.
    We are eager to see major reformation in how Islam is taught and channeled to bring out the best in Moslems and contribute to the uplifting of the human spirit and advancement of civilization.
    We believe in freedom to choose or change one’s Religion.
    We cherish and acknowledge the beauty and contributions of the Middle East culture, but recognize that the Arab/Moslem world is in desperate need of constructive self-criticism and reform.



    Irshad Manji: Author of "The Trouble with Islam."
    Irshad Manji - Muslim Refusenik
    The Trouble with Islam shatters our silence. It shows Muslims how we can re-discover Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking -- a tradition known as "ijtihad" -- and re-discover it precisely to update Islam for the 21st century. The opportunity to update is especially available to Muslims in the West, because it's here that we enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged without fear of state reprisal. In that sense, the Islamic reformation begins in the West.

    It doesn't, however, end here. Not by a long shot. People throughout the Islamic world need to know of their God-given right to think for themselves. So The Trouble with Islam outlines a global campaign to promote innovative approaches to Islam. I call this non-military campaign "Operation Ijtihad." In turn, the West's support of this campaign will fortify national security, making Operation Ijtihad a priority for all of us who wish to live fatwa-free lives.


    Free Iran: Iranian activists' homepage.
    Free Iran





    2004-11-14

    Iraq The Model Celebrates One Year

    I've got a lot going on right now and I don't have time for regular posting ... but THIS I've got time for:

    Iraq The Model is one year old. The Fadhil brothers - Omar, Ali, and Mohammed - are marking their first anniversary of blogging today.
    Iraq The Model homepage
    first anniversary post

    2004-11-12

    The Voice of Reason

    Dan Savage, writing in the Portland Mercury, offers this bit of clear-sighted, dispassionate analysis:
    We can't literally secede and, let's admit it, we don't really want to live in Canada. It's too cold up there and in our heart-of-hearts, we hate hockey. We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. The Republicans have the federal government--for now. But we've got Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City (Bloomberg is a Republican in name only), and every college town in the country. We're everywhere any sane person wants to be. Let them have the shitholes, the Oklahomas, Wyomings, and Alabamas. We'll take Manhattan.

    To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we'll say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues. We're going to battle our bleeding-heart instincts and ignore pangs of misplaced empathy. We will no longer concern ourselves with a health care crisis that disproportionately impacts rural areas.

    We'll fight to keep guns off the streets of our cities but the more guns laying around out there in the heartland, the better. Most cities have strong gun-control laws--laws that are, of course, undermined by the fact that our cities aren't walled. Yet. But why should liberals in cities fund organizations that attempt to get trigger locks onto the handguns of NRA members and Bush supporters? If red-state dads aren't concerned enough about their own children to put trigger locks on their own guns, it's not our problem. If a kid in a red state finds his daddy's handgun and blows his head off, we'll feel terrible (we're like that), but we'll try to look on the bright side: At least he won't grow up to vote like his dad.

    Better Dead Than Red

    2004-11-11

    Dogface: The New Georgia Doughboy

    From my father's World War II memoirs. Posted in honor of veterans everywhere.

    This is the New Georgia doughboy, returning from the front. He's wearing his green-and-brown-mottled camouflage suit - the one he has been wearing continuously for the past three weeks. It has seldom been off of him, even to be washed - the rains take care of that. If his unit happens to be anywhere near a creek, he washes himself, but that happens only once in a while. Oh, yes, and that camouflage about his face is not really camouflage. Can he help it if the dust, kicked up from the road, sticks to his sweaty, bearded face? All available water is used for drinking, but even with the supply on New Georgia augmented by purified water from neighboring islets, he has to exercise rigid economy. His daily supply which he carries with him in two canteens doesn't last very long in New Georgia's baking sun and steaming jungles.

    This doggie, like most of his buddies has been in combat for around twenty consecutive days. That means that during that time he has no hot food. His meals when he could get them, were C rations eaten right out of the can. Sometimes his fare wasn't even that sumptuous. Sometimes he subsisted on a bar of D ration chocolate a day. Now he returns, stripped down to barest essentials, without even the light battle pack he started out with. He still has his faithful M-1 Rifle with possibly some ammunition left, his precious water, first aid packet, and sulfanilamide tablets.

    He trudges along the dusty road, his trousers legs rolled up to just below the knees, revealing a dirty, soggy, reeking pair of green canvass jungle boots. He walks along the road which Army engineers and Navy Sea Bees have hewn out of the jungle. But the soldier doesn't always find the road dry and dusty; all too often he slogs through channels of knee-deep mud which must serve as travel routes. On this isle of the dead and living dead, the stench of this mud suggests that decaying bodies are blended in with the soil, but the smell is more probably from rotted vegetation. When it rains in New Georgia, this is what the soldier eats in, sleeps in, lives in. Now, as he walks along with expressionless eyes focused on the ground a few paces ahead of him, his presence adds a poignantly personal touch to the procession of peeps and three-quarter tons which are laden with supplies for the front. Daily he (for "he" represents all such front line men) passes our gun positions with an air of mingled apprehension and respect. He dreads being near them when they fire, yet he wants to get a good look a t the guns that probably helped save his life. "How do you guys stand it? How do you stand the noise?" he asks with a seriousness that dumbfounds us. How do we stand it! He's been sniped at, mortar-shelled, has our artillery barrage seventy-five to one hundred yards ahead of him, and he asks us that! He comes up to the guns once in a while when there is a lull in the firing, and pats a howitzer affectionately. "I could kiss these babies," he says with a wan smile. Once he asked if we'd let him pull the lanyard that would send a 95 pound shell on its destructive mission. He was tickled as a kid with a new toy when we let him fire on the next fire mission.

    He sits and exchanges a few words with us; he's never very talkative - sits and broods a lot. As he gets up to leave, his valedictory usually is: "Keep shootin' them out there. It sure is good to hear them land." Though they go through hell, that is all that he and his buddies ever ask of us, that we keep shootin' out there, and they'll carry on their share.

    - Ken McLintock (1929-2000)
    Battery A,146th Field Artillery Battalion, 37th Infantry Division
    January 1942 - October 1945
    Urban Renewal: "Pacific Driftwood"

    2004-11-10

    Morning Report: November 11, 2004

    Arafat dies. Terrorist leader Yasser Arafat died in Paris in the early hours of Thursday, November 11, according to media reports.

    Mohammed: Emergency state enhances security in Iraq. Mohammed at Iraq the Model believes the current state of emergency declared by Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi will help restore confidence among Iraqis:
    Declaring the state of emergency laws had a positive effect on the majority of Iraqis although it should’ve caused worries but I believe that this explains the public hopes to see an end for the violence and presence of criminal groups in some parts of Iraq and this is a public feeling that grew bigger because of the brutality of the atrocities committed against Iraqis by those criminal groups. I think it also shows that Iraqis are convinced that this emergency law won’t be similar to the “laws” that governed their lives under Saddam; people know that a real change is under way and that the new laws are going to protect the citizens instead of oppressing them. Perhaps the fact that most the Fallujans left the city proves that they have no intention to confront the Iraqi and multinational forces and it clearly means”go get the bad guys” and this discredits the media’s theory which claimed that “most of the Fallujans are willing to fight”.

    Wretchard: The enemy's prospects in Fallujah. The Belmont Club assesses the position of Ba'athist remnants and insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq: 'Simply reading the map shows that the enemy is pinned in a strip north of the highway, which is now a barrier to further escape south. As Major Piccoli put it, the "enemy fighters were bottled up in a strip of the city flanking the major east-west highway that splits Fallujah". Pressing them against the highway are four US battalions from the north and two from the east.'

    Three relatives of Allawi abducted. Gunmen kidnapped three relatives of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi - Allawi's 75-year-old cousin Ghazi, Ghazi's wife, and their daughter-in-law, according to this Fox News report. A militant group called Ansar al-Jihad claimed responsibilty, threatening to kill the three hostages in 48 hours unless the Iraqi and US governments met its demands.

    Happy Birthday, USMC

    The United States Marine Corps turns 229 today.
    "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference,
    and our Marines don't have that problem."
    - President Ronald Reagan, 1985


    Semper Fidelis!

    2004-11-09

    President Kerry

    "One sunny day in 2005, an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry."

    The Marine replied, "Sir, Mr. Kerry is not the president, and does not reside here." The old man said, "Okay", and walked away.

    The following day, the same old man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry." The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Kerry is not the president, and doesn't reside here."

    The man thanked him and walked away.

    The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same Marine, saying, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry."

    The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Kerry, I've told you that Mr. Kerry is not the president and doesn't reside here. Don't you understand?"

    The old man answered, "Oh, I understand, I just love hearing it."

    The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow, Sir."

    Hat tip - again - to Rickvid in Seattle.

    Ellen DeGeneres does an interview ...

    ... on MSNBC. Catch it here. She says she and Alex have thought about becoming mothers, but both are ambivalent about the idea. (Given Ellen's list of donor candidates, maybe it's best that she stays childless.) She also talks about her voice role in "Finding Nemo", and the spontaneity of dancing. Go check it out.

    More on Hezbollah Drone (Mirsad-1)

    The Iranian/Hezbollah "Mirsad-1" UAV that recently accomplished an incursion into Israeli airspace had a payload capacity of 40kg, according to this bulletin from Debka:
    Hizballah unmanned aerial craft that penetrated Israel two days ago is capable of carrying 40 kilos - and therefore a bomb, according to Israeli chief of staff Gen. Yaalon’s report to Knesset committee Tuesday. Craft spent 7-12 minutes over northern town of Nahariya.

    Ha'Aretz writes that
    Apparently, the drone carried a camera capable of transmitting images while the plane is in motion. On Monday, Hezbollah's television channel, Al-Manar, aired footage of what it said was the drone it had sent into Israel.

    and adds:
    The drone was Iranian made. It was developed and built in Iranian plants in the 1990s. The aircraft is considered technologically very simple, with a pre-programmed route that is installed before launch. During the flight, a camera sends images back to a ground station, which was supposedly manned by Iranians, and the plane is apparently supposed to land by parachute.

    The Iranians supplied several such planes to the Hezbollah, just as they supplied rockets. One of the Iranian conditions for the supply of the drones was that Hezbollah get clearance from Tehran before any launch.

    The Hezbollah operatives were trained in the use of the plane by experts from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

    Some analysts believe the drone is primarily a psychological tactic, and that the actual military value of the Mirsad-1 is limited. It may serve as a signal of Iran's determination to defend itself and its nuclear program against strikes by Israel or the US; Syria may also be using the incident to strengthen its negotiating position with regard to the Golan Heights.

    In other news, Iran announced it has acquired the capability to mass-produce medium-range ballistic missiles. Iranian Defense Minister Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani told journalists in Tehran that the IRI is able to manufacture in bulk the Shahab-3 missile, whose range was recently upgraded to 1,250 miles.

    RELATED:
    Morning Report: April 12, 2005 (Hezbollah drone penetrates Israeli airspace.)
    Hezbollah Drone Update
    Eagle/Heron, and Another UAV

    2004-11-07

    Posting will be light over the next few days ...

    ... while I get caught up on schoolwork. I've got to read Edgar Allan Poe for Tuesday, and master integration by parts for a Calculus exam next week.

    So you will all just have to muddle through without me for a little while.

    LGF on Netherlands jihad: It's not about race.

    Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs gets it exactly right when he says:
    This is the almost universal, wrongheaded slant on the story in mainstream media: that the horrific murder of Theo Van Gogh had something to do with race, when in fact it was driven by a violent, supremacist religious ideology.

    Read more at these entries:
    Jihad in the Netherlands
    "Murder Is Normal"

    More on the Eagle/Heron Drone Deal - and Another UAV

    The Times of India reports:
    Israel is likely to sign a deal to supply spy drones worth $230 million to India soon, officials said Sunday.

    State-owned Israeli Aircraft Industries will also supply military surveillance hardware for the unmanned aircraft which will be jointly produced in India, defence ministry officials said.

    "We are quite close to signing a deal," a highly-placed official said. They said the offer includes 50 Eagle-Heron Israeli drones which have a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), can stay airborne for more than 24 hours and cruise at an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,575 metres).

    India, which treated Israel like a pariah for decades, has forged close military links in recent years. It is acquiring two Phalcon Airborne Early Warning Systems worth a billion dollars and will jointly produce a long-range missile from the Jewish state.'


    Also on the subject of drones, an Iranian-produced drone operated by Hezbollah made an incursion into Israeli airspace. According to Ha'Aretz:
    Hezbollah announced Sunday that it had sent an unmanned reconnaissance drone on sorties over northern Israel earlier in the day, saying that the plane - known as the Mirsad-1 - flew as far as Nahariya before returning safely to its base in southern Lebanon.

    The Israel Defense Forces confirmed Sunday evening that a drone did indeed enter Israeli airspace, and flew over the northern city of Nahariya. The IDF said that the drone crashed into the sea when it returned to Lebanon. Reports from Lebanese fishermen of an object slamming into the sea apparently confirms the IDF's report.

    "The new qualitative achievement comes as part of the natural response to Israel's violation of Lebanese air space," the militant organization said in a report on its television channel, Al-Manar.


    The Jerusalem Post elaborates:
    The penetration of an unmanned spy plane into northern Israel Sunday has gravely concerned the IDF command, which is bracing for a flare up on the northern border as the disengagement approaches.

    The IDF confirmed Sunday night Hizbullah's claim that it had succeeded in sending a drone over the skies of the western Galilee.

    It was the first time an enemy unmanned aerial vehicle had succeeded in entering Israel and represented a bold and provocative step by the Iranian-backed Shiite group.

    Hizbullah said the UAV, dubbed "Mirsad 1" or Ambush, had reached all the way to the northern Israeli costal town of Nahariya at 10:30 a.m. and "returned safely to base," mimicking the old IDF statements usually put out after bombing raids in Lebanon.

    But reports from Lebanon said the UAV crashed at sea on its return trip from it sojourn over the tiny corner of Israel. An IDF statement said Hizbullah was aided in the endeavor by Iran and Syria "with the aim of targeting Israeli civilians."

    It was a propaganda coup for Hizbullah, showing it could succeed in doing what no Arab state has. Only Egypt among the Arab nations has a serious UAV program. Iraq had attempted to develop one but it was not a success.

    The Iranians, however, have been developing UAVs for over a decade and it is one of theirs that is believed to have been used Sunday by Hizbullah. The Mirsad 1 is a small remote-controlled drone with one engine and a small camera.

    RELATED:
    Morning Report: April 12, 2005 (Hezbollah drone penetrates Israeli airspace.)
    Hezbollah Drone Update
    Eagle/Heron, and Another UAV

    Morning Report: November 7, 2004

    Allawi declares state of emergency. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi declared a 60-day state of emergency across most of the country in the face of increased enemy attacks, with a US-led attack on Fallujah in the works.

    French, Ivorian forces clash, sparking violence. According to the BBC report on Ivory Coast violence, 'Pro-government mobs in Ivory Coast have been making house-to-house searches to find and attack French citizens in the commercial capital, Abidjan. French peacekeepers there have moved 80 to 90 people to safer locations. As more reinforcements arrived, the troops were deployed around the city, trying to stem looting and burning. The troubles began after the French virtually wiped out the Ivorian air force, following the death of nine peacekeepers in a government raid. The mobs - supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo - went on the rampage after the French action.'

    The Head Heeb explains: 'French peacekeepers in Cote d'Ivoire are reporting eight dead and 23 injured after one of their positions was bombed by Ivorian government aircraft. The French forces later retaliated against the Ivorian air force, with various reports saying they shot down three aircraft or destroyed them on the ground. It is unclear whether the government aircraft deliberately bombed the French base, but whether or not the attack was intentional, both the peacekeepers and their neutrality have become casualties of the collapsing peace.'

    In light of the escalating crisis in Cote d'Ivoire / Ivory Coast, the United Nations Security Council has called a special meeting.

    China, Iran, and oil. According to recent reports, China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said he saw "no reason" to refer Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council while on a visit to Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, visiting China, said that he would like to see China, rather than Japan, become Iran's largest crude oil consumer. China is the world's second largest consumer and importer of oil. Analysts believe that China's economy is in very serious trouble, in part due to rising energy costs.

    2004-11-06

    From my Father's World War II Memoirs

    The day we landed on New Georgia at Lambeti Plantation, we were able for the first time to appreciate fully the devastating effectiveness of our artillery. All the land that had undergone the terrific artillery fire was all but denuded of live vegetation. Shattered remnants of coconut palms drooped pathetically, resembling gaunt weeping willows. The Air Force contributed to the destruction of this area. I could see this as I walked along the road from the Plantation to the Munda Airfield. All along the way were holes that could have been made only by 100 or 200-pound bombs. There was something curious about these bomb craters, something besides the fact that they were used as water points and swimming holes; it was grass and flowers which had sprung up in the inside. Most of the bomb craters looked like freshly made excavations with the sand, coral, etc. thrown outside around the edges. But some looked like natural depressions in the naturally uneven ground, so overgrown were they. Symbolic, it seemed, were zinnias - just common pink, garden zinnias one finds in the garden at home - growing from the depths of bomb craters. Yes, in a way they were symbolic of the good, the God-created, the enduring, and everlasting, which reappears untouched after the fury of man's wrath has spent itself.

    Pacific Driftwood

    The Dreams Into Lightning Universe Expands

    I've recently updated several of the other web pages that you see on the sidebar (and one or two that you don't), with more to come.

    My father's page, titled Urban Renewal and labelled here with his name (Ken McLintock), has a couple more of his poems posted. Also, I've just finished posting the complete text of "Pacific Driftwood" and "Jottings", Dad's literary memoir from World War II. (I spent most of the evening typing it in.) The original typescript consists of 23 pages of old air-mail letter paper and was among his personal effects at the time of his death. It contains writing by his fellow soldiers of the 136th Field Artillery Battalion, and his own impressions of the campaigns at New Georgia, Guadalcanal, Lingayen Gulf, and Cagayan.

    My sister, Stephanie McLintock, also left behind some exquisite writing, which I am posting at the page labelled with her name. I've changed the blog title; it is now called Wilderness Vision. Stephanie was troubled but enormously talented and she left behind a large amount of poetry and fiction, so please visit her site as often as you like.

    Updates on human rights and the war against fascism will be posted at Freedom Matrix. I will be posting on Judaism, America, and the meaning of freedom at The Light of Freedom. These blogs have lain dormant for several months but I plan to start developing them more fully in the weeks to come.

    The Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Holocaust Files, and Asher Abrams Portfolio are all mine too, but I haven't been updating them lately. However, suggestions for The Iraqi Holocaust are always welcome. It's not the most enjoyable blog to work on, but I think it is one of the most important.

    A mysterious individual named Shoshanna posts at The Ocean Names of Night. She seems to think she owns this blog. I refuse to be responsible for anything she says.

    Chicxulub?

    Apparently the blogospheric counterpart of the K-T Event has propelled me up TTLB's evolutionary ladder into the world of "large mammals". I'm guessing it's just, once again, an artifact of random fluctuations in one of the blogrings, e.g. Blogs For Bush, that currently is causing links to Dreams Into Lightning to be displayed on so many homepages. Still, it's fun while it lasts.

    2004-11-05

    The Zero Ring

    original fiction by Asher Abrams

    the horror of nothing to see
    -- Luce Irigaray


    No one understood why King Avishai of Dungard chose to relinquish everything then, his kingdom and his rule, or why he should have been ready to hand himself over to the care of his three daughters. Perhaps it was true, as he said, that the cares of rule weighed too heavily on him; perhaps also he had come to the realization that he had entrapped himself too deeply in the things of this world. And it was just possible, as a few murmured, that he was becoming uncomfortable with his reputation as a miser, as a man a little too fond of keeping things for himself.

    Now he is floating over their heads, the suspensors on his throne set very high so that they must crane their necks to see him: this is how he is, Levana thinks, afraid to be seen touching the ground. And he's smiling that secret smile and he's got that twinkle in his eye, and he radiates that boyish innocence that never quite becomes childishness. On either side stand Hanna and Shira. In the middle, directly before him, stands Levana, the youngest, shifting her weight now and then, the toes of her left foot accommodating the comforting feel of the small, smooth secret in her left shoe.

    "Love," he is saying, "is beyond any price. Love is a fair country with no borders, no boundaries. Love is what binds us together, and love is what has made this kingdom great."

    Hanna and Shira are looking inscrutably at Levana. The afternoon light finds its way in through the cantilevered skylights of the great, round central hall of the Palace. Levana gazes at the ancient mosaics that circle the single unbroken wall, then looks up at Avishai, silhouetted against the graceful, shallow dome that rises above the skylights.

    Rising before her, between her and Avishai, a colored projection of the map of Dungard appears, like a glowing stained-glass window. In the north is the Mountain Country, and the region called the New Land. In the middle, dividing the kingdom, are the cold and arid steppes, with their uninhabited regions of sand and stone. There also lies the maze of volcanic craters and canyons surrounding the Great Fissure, which dominates the central region of Dungard like a spider in her web. This is the land where so many soldiers fell, the land the old generals and sergeants-major still tell stories of in the halls of the palace. And to the south, stretching to the coast, is the Plains Country, the farmland, and the seat of the ancient capital, where the Palace still sits on a mountainside overlooking the city and the sea.

    The map is divided vertically into three sections of different colors. Two, of roughly equal sizes, are labeled with her older sisters' names; the third, the central strip running from north to south and distinctly larger than the others, is left unmarked. The land of Gallia, vast and vague, looms off the eastern shore.

    Confronted with this manifestation of their father's will, Shira and Hanna fidget and toy with the ceremonial tablets on which their shares of the kingdom are inscribed. Avishai's voice is soothing.

    "Hanna found the favor of Lord Tir, and she will be the co-ruler of his province under the new order. Shira has acquired her share of Lord Roncor's province through her merits as well. You, Levana, have it much easier. You don't have to please anybody. Just stay here in Dungard, and the Central Province is yours alone. I have no quarrel with the King of Gallia, but you are needed here. You must give up the foreigner if you love me.
    "You do love me, don't you, Leva?" His gaze is steady and solicitous. The throne lowers imperceptibly. She has only to say what he wants to hear, and her name will appear on the third region, and the tablet -- drawn up weeks before -- will be brought out and handed to her by gracious servants.

    "It's Gallius I love," she says. "You can't keep me forever."

    Gallius is not good looking or a particularly powerful king. In fact, he is unambitious and indifferent to geopolitical influence. His interest in Levana seems to be for herself alone. Sometimes Levana worries guiltily if it is not she, drawn by his holographic maps of the lush landscapes of his land, whose motives are impure. But in the long and empty weeks that fill her life, it is not the land she dreams of, but the man.

    "Watch what you say, little girl."

    And it is at this moment that she knows she cannot please him.

    "Daddy, I'm not your little girl anymore."

    There's a moment of explosive silence; then the map goes dark and the throne plummets to its resting place on the low carpeted dais. He peers into her eyes. His lower lip quivers, as thoughts seem to compete for his attention. His voice is low and breathy, like wind and far-off thunder.

    "How dare you tell me that! Take that back at once."

    But she is silent.

    "Have you nothing to say?"

    Still she is silent.

    "Do you know what comes from nothing? Nothing -- and by the Merciful and Mysterious, that's what you'll get! Servants, annul those papers -- computer, redraw the map! And you -- go to your new home in Gallia and never let me see your face again. Pack tonight. I'll have Gallius send his men to meet you on the beach tomorrow."

    Levana is too stunned to cry at first. Then she does.

    Then, much later, she walks slowly to her room and takes off her shoes.
    *

    It is always there. Never out of reach, in her shoe, under a pillow, or in the airspace under one of the useless ceramic pieces that decorate her room. Sometimes she puts it in the pocket of her tunic, but usually that does not feel safe enough to her. But it is always there, and with it, a memory and a hope.

    Now, at nineteen, her last memory of her mother is as fresh as it was on that day, when she was eleven years old. The room looked then much as it does now: walls of pink stone, floor of marble, covered with old rugs from her mother's family. An ornate chandelier in the ceiling sprinkles cool, harsh light from one floating light globe. Sitting on the soft, purple-covered bed, she can see her mother once again standing beside her.

    Elnura is holding something small wrapped in purple velvet. She is tall and strong, like most of the women of the Mountain Tribe. Traditionally Mountain women are metalworkers, since prehistoric times of living and working in caves, while the menfolk hunted game and wild food. Years ago, Levana has been told, Elnura was a Seer, and a scholar of ancient lore. When Avishai is not around, which is seldom, Elnura spends time teaching Levana from her ancient books, with titles like The Way of Power and The Book of Creation.

    "Do you know the legend of the Rings of Power?" she asks Levana.

    "There were nine of them. They were all destroyed." She says the last word with feeling.

    Avishai is watching from the door of the bedroom. "There were ten rings," Elnura is saying, "ten and not nine. They were numbered. The Nine Ring was the first to be destroyed, and the One Ring was the last."

    "But you said there were ten."

    "Before one, what do you count?" Levana does not answer and she continues: "This is the Zero Ring. It is called the Ring of Dreams, and it is the mother of the other nine. It shows you things in the world as they really are -- how things are conceived and born, how they develop, and how they end. It shows you the beginnings and the endings of things. And then it shows you the emptiness at the heart of Creation. It shows you the Void.

    "This ring has been the secret of the women of the Mountain Tribe since ancient times. Only women have the power to channel its energy -- men are destroyed by it. Sometimes right away, sometimes slowly. Once a shepherd got hold of the Ring. He put it on. They found him the next day, going on all fours, eating grass and bleating back at the sheep. To wear this Ring is to look into the Void, and men are afraid of empty spaces."

    Avishai grunts contemptuously. "Zero," he says. "Unnecessary number." He turns to go, still looking at the Ring out of the corner of his eye. It is because the Ring is forbidden to him that he finds it irresistible.

    The Ring is a very simple, plain gold ring on the outside. Its surface is shiny and without scratches. It is like a curved mirror. The inside, the flat surface that fits against the finger, is inscribed with the thirty-two characters of the Classic Script. Each character appears exactly once, but their order changes from one moment to the next. Sometimes they form words; sometimes the words seem to fit together into ideas -- but, like the shapes you can see in the clouds, the meaning soon vanishes. Because you cannot see through the ring, you can never see all the characters at once. (Levana imagines that if she had a small, cone-shaped mirror, she might.)

    "Thirty-two signs dance around the rim," Elnura says, "but it is the space in the middle that makes it useful."

    "Will it ever run out of ways to arrange the letters?" Levana asks.

    "It will take eight thousand trillion trillion years."

    "Mama, did you ever wear this ring?"

    It is the question Elnura has been waiting for. "Yes," she says, "in the old days, that is. Among my people. Before you -- before we became acquainted with the people of the Plains Tribe, and your Kingdom. I was known as a seer, one who knew how to use the ring, how to see dreams and look into the Void. I used the Ring often in those days." Here she pauses again. "I used it again last night."

    "What did you see?"

    Elnura stands up and does not answer at first. "Some things," she says finally. "I saw some things." She takes the ring back gently and puts it in her pocket. "I love you," she says to Levana, and leaves, telling the servants that she's taking a little walk.

    The next day they learn that Elnura has traveled to the Great Fissure and thrown herself in.

    The following night a servant whom Levana does not recognize, and will not see again, gives her a parcel wrapped in purple velvet. It is the Ring.

    From then on, she keeps it in her shoe; she knows he will never look there. Sometimes she carries it in her pocket, rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger. Occasionally her fingertips will slip into the open space. When this happens she feels a pleasant tingling shoot up her arm and into her head. There is a sense of weightlessness. She finds the experience delicious but avoids this violation as much as possible; she feels it is unfair to the Ring to tease it in this way.

    Mostly she just looks at it, watching the letters. Sometimes they form words, or almost form words. During the tedious shows and entertainments that are supposed to make her evenings lively, she looks at the Ring, keeping it cupped in her hands. In the tiny hours of the heavy mornings, she reads it in the moonlight.

    Once a few of the characters arrange themselves to form FREDOMS, which is almost freedom but the letters are wrong. The next moment it becomes SERFDOM, and then the letters return to chaos.
    *

    It is after midnight. She snaps the brass latch on her goatskin satchel, and looks around at the rejected items of clothing strewn about. Picking up a delicate hair ribbon, she almost yields to the urge to tidy up, then thinks better of it. The ribbon falls to the floor.

    She has heard from Hanna and Shira.

    Hanna, the eldest: "I guess you know what you're doing to us. After you left, Shira and I got the Middle Province divided up between us, and with it the care of the Palace Compound. You know he wouldn't keep anything for himself -- that means we're going to have to look after him the rest of his life. I guess you got even."

    And Shira: "Well I hope you're proud of yourself. Our father is devastated. Do you have any idea what you've done to him? If you have any decency you'll promise you'll forget about that foreigner and stay home where you belong. Then maybe, maybe he'll take you back."

    Her life is ending and beginning. She feels like a long-festering sore that has been gashed and is at last beginning to bleed. It does no good to try to re-think her words of the day gone by. She thinks of begging Avishai to take her back, she thinks if she offers to forget Gallius perhaps he will.

    Now she stares at the ring, which seems for the first time to have turned a frosty silver. She needs more than endless recombinations of the same signs. Only the transcendent vision of the wise women of the Mountain Tribe will do now. She imagines herself in the coarse, splendid, traditional woolen robes she has sometimes seen her mother wear. She decides that this is a time for seeing deeply into things. And as the warm glow surges from finger to arm to brain and suffuses her body, she understands why night, with its emptiness, is the mother of dreams.

    Clouds obscure the starlight, and the plain is lit only by occasional flashes of gunfire. Two great armies are poised to clash, but her business is not with them. She is leading a Gallian commando unit in some sort of search-and-capture mission. She sees an outline in the night: it is the enemy leader, pathetic and helpless, and he will not be killed, but captured, as in a chess game, it is more satisfying that way.... The scene fades into a parade, it must be a victory celebration, she is marching with soldiers all around her...and now she is speaking with a great sage, discussing the mystery of things in the cell of some kind of monastery.... And finally she sees herself with an old man at her feet, raised up high as if on a throne, suspended in the air.

    And then comes the kiss of the Void.

    It could swallow you. It could tear you apart from the inside. She feels the weight of a vacuum in her body, and then the vacuum explodes and she feels she is both giving birth and being born, being crushed and turned inside out. For a moment, she sees her body lying on the bed, thinks how trivial and ugly it looks, like a rag doll that a child has dragged through the mud. Then everything dissolves into a flaming circle, and she passes through the center and finds peace.

    After vision comes memory. Levana lies on the bed, rumpled now and damp with sweat, feels the ring icy on her finger, its power spent for now. Having seen the future, she feels she has already stepped outside of the Palace compound. Looking back, she sees things she has always overlooked, or things to which she has closed her eyes.

    Memories come with a vengeance.

    -- Her mother is speaking to Avishai, perhaps Levana is eight or nine. Elnura is saying, "Why don't you ever let the girls out of the compound? They need to see things, they need to travel." Avishai: "They have all they need. I provide them with everything." Elnura: "The same way you provide for your people! Yes, I've seen the way you treat your people. I've seen the slaves in the factories, chained to the machines, with electrodes in their heads to keep them from thinking evil thoughts...." Avishai raises a single finger in denial: "Those are not slaves! They are contract laborers. Slavery is against the law -- I signed the order myself!"

    -- Hanna and Shira and the cruel games they played on her. And the way they looked when they did not know she was looking, haunted and scared.

    -- Washing his feet. Of all the tasks that she has been given since her mother's death, this is the worst. She must kneel before him with the basin. Once, only once, she dares to ask, "Couldn't you get a maidservant to do this for you?" He is not angry; he simply looks wounded. "I thought you loved me, Leva," he says.

    -- At thirteen she is too old to put flowers in her hair but she still does. She thinks she is alone in the garden. A voice from behind startles her: "You look so beautiful with flowers," he says, and starts caressing her shoulders. "You should wear them more often. Why are you so tense, little girl?" She never wears flowers again.

    Now everything is clear, and freedom is a lighthouse on the horizon, a beacon over the Great Sea, and it shines on the filthy stones of the Palace Compound and calls to her. And to hell with the rest of them.
    *

    Seen from the outside, the Palace looks small, a grey mass nesting in the walled Compound on the mountainside like a pigeon. A road runs down the mountain to the city, but the road is hard to see, as if the mountain covers it. A small path, much steeper and shorter, leads from the Palace to the seashore. Levana looks back up at this path for the last time, and smiles at what she sees.

    As he walks down the path to meet her, she can see he's carrying something, he's got his arms behind his back and he's picking his way carefully among the rocks with his feet. As he walks toward her she sees he is trying to recreate the mischievous grin that she used to love in spite of herself, but now he only manages to look desperate. So he is going to give her a gift. Very nice. She has something for him too.

    "Something to remember me by," he says as he produces the bouquet of flowers. His taste for melodrama has not abandoned him. Politely, if a bit stiffly, she puts one hand out to take them.

    She locks eyes with him and reaches inside her tunic, pausing just for a moment. "Put out your hand."

    She gives him the gift, presses it into his trembling palm. She closes her eyes and forms one word in her mind: slowly. It is the only time she has ever prayed.

    The path to the Palace rises and winds through the rocks, twisting like a plume of smoke. Levana turns to look back at it, and at her father. He holds the ring, incredulous, staring into her eyes and past them.

    "Keep it," she tells him as gently as she can. "Mother would have wanted you to have it. It shows you the beginnings and the endings of things."

    "How will I know which is which?"

    "'Their end is embedded in their beginning, and their beginning in their end,'" she says, quoting the Book of Creation.

    She sees he has seen something in the distance. She looks over her shoulder. It is the flyer from Gallia, now gliding over the water, now coming to rest and hovering over the sand. Two or three armed men in berets and black shirts get out and wait beside the vehicle. Its sleek, foreign design reminds her of a seashell.

    The flowers. Their smell rises to her nose, nauseating her. She thinks: Even now he wants me to be his girlfriend. The old pervert. Their colors are lurid, obscene, like all the secret vices of the earth.

    He's watching her. He's studying me, she thinks, trying to memorize the way I look. Let him. He will soon have enough on his mind. Yes, he is fingering the Ring already, stroking it. She turns away from him, looks down at the flowers.

    "Leva," he calls plaintively. "You're going away."

    She doesn't turn to answer him, doesn't even care if the wind carries her words back to him, or where it takes the flowers she throws into the sky. "Everything goes away."

    She walks a few paces, and looks back for the last time, and he's motionless, just watching her go. He's not looking at her anymore, but at his idea of her. Now he can no longer see even that. In his mind's eye, she is already gone across the big water.

    Now he sees nothing.



    "The Zero Ring" copyright (c) 2004 by Asher Abrams.
    All rights reserved.

    American Literature Revisited

    You've probably read my earlier post about my Early American Literature class. I should point out that the main reason I've found it frustrating is the large class size. Also being a Bush supporter I kind of feel like an "army of one", but that's true pretty much wherever I go in Portland.

    Following the election, there was a period of very lively political discussion in class. People were angry and frustrated - that's only natural, these are tense times and it's been a very intense election season. And for the first half hour or so, most of the students were going on about those "ignorant" Republicans, and all that stuff.

    But then an interesting thing happened. Once folks had had a chance to get their feelings off their chests, the conversation grew more reflective. People began to question the assumptions about "red-state" voters. Several students stressed the importance of getting rid of liberal stereotypes and dogmatism. One even gave a very detailed critique of Michael Moore's "propaganda" (the student actually used that word).

    All of this makes me feel very hopeful about the future of America. I didn't say anything, beyond pointing out that "not everyone in this classroom voted for the same person" (and how would I know that, unless I voted for Bush?). I could have gotten up and said "Michael Moore is a big fat stupid white man", but what would that have accomplished? The important thing was that these students understood the need for more dialogue. The young woman sitting behind me even said at one point, "I wish I could talk to a Bush supporter, and just ask them why they voted for Bush."

    Because I'm outnumbered by about 40 to one in this class, I don't attempt to get into political debates, just as I don't go onto the Democratic Underground site and try to enlighten everyone there. But I'm always happy to talk with people one-on-one, and an attitude of "I'd like to hear what you have to say" is a good beginning for those conversations.

    As we've discovered in class, American literature is inseparable from American politics, and you can't discuss one without the other. And neither of these things can exist unless people are willing to talk to one another - and listen. I think we're headed in the right direction.

    Post-Election

    Jane has an excellent round-up of international opinion at Armies of Liberation.

    Michael J. Totten, analyzing data provided by Andrew Coyne, deduces that 45 percent of the people who voted for Bush are self-described liberals or moderates. MJT also puts the Pat Robertson faction of the GOP in perspective, and advises against painting all "conservatives" with the same broad brush.

    Channeling Whoville, Michele at A Small Big Victory speaks out for New York Bush voters.

    More to come.

    A post about my father,

    World War II, and Vietnam is currently offline because I think it still needs a little tweaking.

    This is a very important subject for me and I want to be sure i get it right. Stay tuned.

    Morning Report: November 5, 2004

    Blair criticizes Chirac, Schroeder. British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently criticized Jacques Chirac of France and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder for their countries' lack of support for reconstruction in Iraq, and called on them to work more closely with the US administration. The French and Iraqi governments appear to be trying to patch relations after Iyad Allawi, on Thursday, accused anti-liberation countries like France of being "mere spectators" in the war that deposed Saddam Hussein; Chirac, in turn, missed a Friday meeting with Allawi. Chirac stated that he was unable to attend the Friday meeting on account of the memorial service for the late Sheik Zayed of UAE and denied snubbing the Iraqi leader, according to this CNN report.

    US prepares for Fallujah incursion. American forces continued airstrikes on Fallujah in preparation for an expected assault on the enemy stronghold in Iraq. The US is awaiting approval for the assault from Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. A recent Debka bulletin states: 'US commanders say Friday deferred assault on two insurgent bastions [Fallujah and Ramadi] is imminent.' Detailed information about Fallujah may be found at Global Security.


    Analysis by Alaa. 'The “negotiating” team from Falujah has written a letter to the government stating the terms and conditions for solving the crisis from their point of view. It is an arrogant letter demanding more or less surrender and reinstatement of the apparatus of the Saddam regime under thinly disguised pretexts and carefully crafted sentences. These conditions were described by Kassem Dawood the minister of Security affairs as “laughable”. It is noteworthy that this minister himself is a Sunni.

    It is important to tell you that apart from the Saddamists, their religious extremist allies do not properly belong to any established Sunni sect. So it is a common mistake, even by many ill-informed Iraqis and Moslems, to imagine that the branch of Salafi Wahabists who advocate and practice violence, are Sunnis. In fact they are against all established denominations of the Islamic religion. The origin of this creed is a small breakaway fringe group that migrated to the Arabian Peninsula long time ago and remained a small obscure sect until the advent of “Muhammad Abdul Wahab”(and hence Wahabism), and his puritanical preaching, in what is now called Saudi Arabia, more than two centuries ago. The founders of the present Saudi dynasty used this movement first to expand their power and eventually gain political control of the Arabian Peninsula. Later on the Saudis themselves clashed with the movement and brutally suppressed the so called "Ikhwan" rebellion in the 19th century. Nevertheless Wahabism remains the official creed of the present regime in S.A. and some other Sheikdoms and small states in the Peninsula. This is not to say however, that all Wahabists are terrorists and extremists. Mostly it is just another of these religious sects and people tend to inherit these labels from their ancestors. The rise of the current dangerous terrorism in its present form, in the name of Islam, is quite a recent phenomenon, and as I have said in a previous post, has a lot to do with the cold war and its aftermath; and can be precisely traced to the events in Afghanistan and Iran in the seventies and eighties of the last century.' - The Mesopotamian, November 1

    India, Israel near defense deal. 'Israel is close to striking a USD 230 million deal with India under which it would sell 50 Eagle/Heron unmanned aerial vehicles to New Delhi', reports the Press Trust of India. The Eagle/Heron is a medium-altitude, long-range reconnaissance drone.