2009-11-22

Funny, there doesn't seem to be a problem with Western-style Communism.

Normblog:
You can bet that if there's someone saying that some particular culture isn't receptive to the idea of human rights, they'll be hoping to foist on you a view that identifies that culture with the power-holders within it. I happen to have an example to hand. It's a man telling us that 'The Chinese have a powerful sense of their identity and worth. They have never behaved toward the West in a supplicant manner'. He goes on as follows:

The issue... is much deeper than Western-style democracy, a free media or human rights. China is simply not like the West and never will be. There has been an underlying assumption that the process of modernization would inevitably lead to Westernization; yet modernization is not just shaped by markets, competition and technology but by history and culture. And Chinese history and culture are very different from that of any Western nation-state.

So no need to worry about democracy and rights for them, they being so different and all?

Go read the rest at the link. Original source of that quote is here; Norm also quotes a different view, from two writers who are actually, like, Chinese and stuff.

2009-11-12

Feds to Seize New York Properties Linked to IRI

Via Cyrus at Facebook, here's The Daily News:
Putting the squeeze on Tehran, the feds moved Thursday to seize a mosque in Queens and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper from a nonprofit organization suspected of secretly funneling money to Iran.

"The Alavi Foundation has effectively been a front for the government of Iran," said Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, who sued to grab more than $500 million in assets.

Read it all at the link.

Morning Report: 2009-11-12

Iran expects Russia to supply S-300 missiles. Arutz Sheva: 'Iran's Defense Minister, Ahmed Wahidi, said Thursday in an interview with an Iranian newspaper that his country expects Russia to stand behind a deal it signed with it for the supply of advanced anti-aircraft S-300 missiles.'

Strategy Page on bombings and loyalty in Iraq. Strategy Page provides an unsentimental look at contemporary Iraq:
Iraq has a loyalty problem. Too many Iraqis are only willing to give absolute (no bribes will work) loyalty to family or tribe. Thus at the national level, too many Iraqis can be bought, and you can never be sure who you can trust. Saddam dealt with this problem by trusting no one, except family and tribe. Even then, he constantly moved people around, and had to kill a few of his closest associates, to inspire more loyalty from the others. In a democracy, you replace the bullets with cash. The Iraqi government is so corrupt because many politicians see it as a matter of life or death to shower close associates with stolen money, to insure their loyalty. The one exception to this is the Kurds, who fear the Arab majority so much, that they have become, by local standards, incorruptible in security matters. The Kurds are still divided by families and clans, and still willing to be bought, but not when it comes to security. Many Kurds make a good living down south, as security contractors. This is actually a tradition that goes back centuries. You want a reliable bodyguard, go hire a Kurd.

Read the full article at the link.

Debka: Obama wants more time for Iran parley. Debka:
President Barack Obama and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu talked for more than an hour and a half in the White House Tuesday, Nov. 9, all but fifteen minutes without advisers. There were no cameras and the usual post-meeting press briefings, joint communiques and interviews were cancelled. A curt White House statement said: "The president reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel's security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues. The president and prime minister also discussed Iran and how to move forward on Middle East peace."

Netanyahu then headed out to Paris to see President Nicolas Sarkozy later Tuesday.

DEBKAfile reported Monday: US official sources admitted Monday, Nov. 9, that Tehran had finally blocked every compromise offered by the Obama administration through backdoor channels. This and the US president Barack Obama's Middle East peace initiative have both run into the sand. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Middle East envoy George Mitchell informed him last week after their failed bid to persuade the Palestinians to sit down and talk peace with Israel.

Clinton found Mahmoud Abbas in Abu Dhabi with one foot out of the Palestinian Authority leadership and exploiting Obama's misplaced reliance on a total Israeli settlement construction freeze on the West Bank and in Jerusalem to strike a rejectionist position for the sake of restoring his tattered credibility on the Palestinian street. On that score, there is nothing much for Obama to discuss with visiting Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Nov. 10, although both found themselves under pressure to meet during Netanyahu's brief visit to Washington to address the General Assembly of the North American Jewish Federations. ....

2009-11-04

Republicans Win Big in Atlantic States

B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot: Governor-elect Christie declares victory.
I do hope the president is listening to this speech, especially where he said that he doesn’t want the government to fix every problem. His supporters cheered that line heartily. He promises to turn the state capital upside down.

He talk about cutting taxes, spending and onerous regulation.

A lot of good stuff in this speech, sounds like my kind of Republican.


Gay Patriot: McDonnell's margin biggest for GOP in Virginia history.
It looks like Bob McDonnell is running ahead of George Allen’s tally in 1993 when that good man enjoyed the largest margin of any Republican in the history of the Commonwealth.

UPDATE: McDonnnell won Fairfax County by a whisker, 51-49. This is a very big deal, very big.


Republican takes New York's Westchester County.

But fellow Gay Patriot blogger ColoradoPatriot has some concerns.

Neo-Neocon has some thoughts:
It was a good night for the Republicans, a bad night for Obama and liberal Democrats. Especially in New Jersey.

Obama will never admit it. But will he take it to heart? I doubt it. It will be full steam ahead on the agenda, and the same for Pelosi (and to a lesser extent Reid), who will attempt to twist the resistant Blue Dog arms (or is it legs?) ever more forcibly. Should be interesting.

If same sex marriage can’t win in places like California and now Maine, then its day hasn’t quite come. However, I do think that, with the next generation coming up, it’s just a matter of time. ...

2009-11-03

Morning Report: 2009-11-03

Israeli Heron drones in Afghanistan. Debka:
Germany is the fifth foreign nation to acquire the Heron TP drone or other Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle technology for support missions against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, DEBKAfile's military sources report. Today, these drones complement the US Air Force's dominant role in Afghanistan air space, thanks to two useful features and the CIA's shortage of Predators for its own and NATO use:

1. The Israeli drones are cheaper.

2. The Herons' operational features include a long-distance range, the ability to stay aloft for 52 hours non-stop and tracking and targeting capabilities. They can carry out complex functions such as in-flight refueling and slotting into strategic missile defense systems.

Equipped with 1,200-horsepower engines, they carry 250 kilos of ordnance, mainly air-ground missiles. With this load, the Israel UAVs can reach an altitude of 11,000 meters. Flying empty, it can reach a height of13,700 meters. This means that the Heron can fly above regular commercial air traffic without becoming icebound thanks to another special feature, which is important in the freezing Afghan winters.

Our military sources report that the Canadian armed forces began using Israel UAVs a year ago, hiring them on charter from Israel's Aviation Industries. ...


Afghanistan: Terrorists get butts kicked. Strategy Page:
November 3, 2009: Two weeks of fighting in South Waziristan have left nearly 400 Taliban and al Qaeda dead, along with about 40 soldiers. Nearly has many Pakistani civilians and security personnel have been killed by terror attacks. While there are high (media) profile operations, they have little impact on Pakistani military capabilities, and have increased public support for the military offensive in the tribal territories.

Pakistan has seven brigades of troops advancing into South Waziristan ...


SWJ roundup. A sample of the stories Small Wars Journal is following this morning: Afghan presidential runoff canceled; suicide bomber kills 35 near Pakistan army headquarters; US concerned about Iraq election delay; Clinton tells Iran that US position will not change; and much more. Read it at the link.

2009-11-02

Morning Report: 2009-11-02

Obama appoints Hagel to intelligence post. Arutz Sheva: 'Jewish Republican party officials and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) are among several groups that have called on U.S. President Barack Obama to rescind his appointment of former senator Chuck Hagel as co-chairman of his Intelligence Advisory Board. Hagel made clear his attitude towards Israel when he spoke at the pro-Arab and self-proclaimed pro-Israel Jerusalem Street lobby last week. ...'

Jewish terrorist suspect Teitel arrested in Israel. Debka: 'DEBKAfile reports that at the end of a 12-year search, the police and Shin Bet finally caught up with the Yaacov Taitel, 37, from Shevut Rachel, whom they suspect of a long series of terrorist crimes. They arrested him in the Har Nof district of Jerusalem Oct. 9. Two of those crimes are the murders of an Arab taxi driver in June 1997 and an Arab shepherd in August of that year. His home was found stocked with an assortment of firearms, including a sniper's rifle, and a bomb-making facility. The police and Shin Beit report that Yaacov Taitel, who was born in Florida, USA, operated solo and was self-taught in the use of firearms and explosives. He was first arrested in 2000 after years aboard but released for lack of evidence. He then turned to Jewish targets. In November 2006, an explosive charge was found at the Eili police station with the slogan: "Sodomites get out?" The accused has campaigned extensively against the gay community and its annual parades.'

UK secular Muslims stand up to extremists. Azarmehr:
UK's secular Muslims today decided to stand up against the Islamic political extremists, the Al Muhajiroun, who call for the abolition of democracy and imposition of Sharia Law in Britain. And guess what? the Al-Muhajiroun decided not to show up!

The Iranians who showed up today to support the secular Muslims also explained the forthcoming 4th November protests in Iran. Hopefully many people from today will stand in solidarity with the Iranian people and the Green Movement on Wednesday, outside the Islamic Republic Embassy between 6-9 pm. Lets show the world that the Green Movement is alive and moving forward.

The Spirit of Man has more:
Brace yourself for more anti-regime protests in the days ahead across the country.

Mousavi has hinted at new rallies while the criminal mullahs and their IRGC killers warned of more crackdown on November 4th protests. But the most heart warming news of all was the recent pledge by brave Iranian students to go back to street protests. The Islamic regime is shaken and suffering from big internal struggles. We need to do our part here to help the brave men and women who risk their lives to go out against this deadly regime.


Commentary. With this morning's post, I'm returning to regular posting here at Dreams Into Lightning. Stay tuned for more.

2009-11-01

El Día

When describing my father to people, I used to like to say, "Picture a cross between Albert Einstein and Captain Kangaroo." The soft-spoken, bookish Ken McLintock was, for most of the years I knew him, on the editorial staff of Choice Magazine. But in another lifetime, he had been a machine gunner in the Second World War. In a memoir written years later (and left unfinished), he recalled his experiences up until (but not including) his unit's arrival at New Georgia.

Dad's career as an editor seems to have begun during the war years; at any rate, he assembled a collection of original writings by his fellow soldiers of the 146th Field Artillery Battalion.
It was pure curiosity which led me to investigate a Japanese who had been killed about eight hours before, during the night. Before I saw the body itself, I saw a heap of clothing - or rather, rags - and I thought to myself: Is it possible that that shapeless object is a man? As I got closer, however, I saw the fallen enemy. After the first brief shock at the sight, I went ahead, dispassionately, coldly looking at him.

He was lying on his back, resembling a piece of wax statuary, with one hand flung across his waist, holding a bloodstained handkerchief (he had been machine-gunned in the stomach), and the other arm was crooked up with the hand resting near his head. His age was certainly under eighteen, and his youthful flesh was firm though colored a strange, waxy, yellow-white hue. His head was turned to one side, revealing a clean, bloodless hole in the neck where he had been shot by one not knowing he was already dead. His eyes were slightly open, and his lips parted. His boyish, beardless face was not entirely expressionless. On it I fancied I could see an expression revealing a boy trying to solve one of the great mysteries of life, a mystery that was beyond his grasp. ...


Dad also left a body of original writing. His remembrance of his mother recounts his memories of her singing career:
Mother's training, though, was not for the opera stage. Instead she sang with New York's Oratorio Society for years, and was soloist in a number of churches in the New York area. She also was a member of at least one church choir and even one synagogue choir (that of the famed Temple Emanu-El). Among the members of one of the choirs was Harry T. Burleigh, composer and arranger of Negro spirituals (as they were then called), including "Deep River". Burleigh was already well on in years when Mother knew him, and as the years went by, he would announce solemnly each year that this would be the last year he would sing "The Palms" at the Palm Sunday service.


In the one extant piece of writing that could be called a diary - dated New Year's Day 1968 - he speaks of feeling a quiet but invincible optimism:
despite having been uprooted a week before Christmas and kept until a week after Christmas in a warm house, somehow it will survive the shock of having been replanted (in a new location) this 15-degree day. And I know that, despite the cold, I will get the tree planted today. This is what I mean by invincible optimism. In other years I should have left the tree in the garage for a day or so -- letting the tree get accustomed to the cold, I would tell the world -- before planting it. Today I don't feel the need for any such evasion: I shall go out there within the hour, not joyfully, perhaps, but but at least without hesitation.


On pondering his qualifications for a certain job, he mused:
The job that I must do some day --
Fill an excavation or fule a flame --
I hope will not be asked of me too soon.
Were it tonight, or, say, tomorrow noon,
The fire would sputter, to my shame,
Or else the hole that's dug would be
So unexpectedly full of space
They'd think they'd buried in that place
Someone already more than half a ghost. ...


I do not know whether he ever got over the feeling of having lived "a life spent on the perimeter". In his later years, he embraced Judaism and became affiliated with a couple of local synagogues. For a too-short period of time, he was able to fulfill his own love of singing (and of Jewish music) in the choir of one of those synagogues.

Alzheimer's robbed him of his faculties quickly and ruthlessly. You know that scene in '2001: A Space Odyssey' where Dave has to disconnect HAL? Kind of like that.

***

My mother survived my father by about two and a half years. Her mother was the only grandparent living when Stephanie and I were growing up; we'd travel from our home in South Windsor, Connecticut to visit her in Bath, Maine every Thanksgiving.

I remember my mother as fiercely idealistic and intellectual, mistrustful of the world but relentless in her efforts to improve the world in spite of itself. She left no written works, but played a critical role in helping several friends - children and adults - to achieve literacy.

Her relationship with her mother was deep and deeply troubled. Long after the old woman was buried, Mom's voice would quiver with hurt and rage over things her mother had said or done to her as a child.

***

Stephanie was with us for twenty-eight years. She was preoccupied with mortality; one of her earliest poems observes:
Man is a fragile being,
Within himself and by himself,
Man is a dream,
An impossible dream,
And thinking he knows everything
Knows nothing
And is lost in the dream.
Imprisoned in him is a heart
That beats and stops, and all is lost.
Man fears death, though it must come ...


And then there is this:
The rain is water
from the sea
to the sky.
These rocks will be fossils,
my heart, thistles.
Only the sun consuming itself
will die.


Stephanie never felt at home in this world, as if she were migrating
through this country and out again
towards a greater desolation
than that from which I came.
Some days I am a gypsy
lying on sweet green grass or yellow fields
under a sky wide and full of sun;
some days I am a ragged dog
barking in alleys
among trash and empty bottles;
and some days I nearly forget -
but I can feel this body planning,
gathering forces,
signing documents;
all my time is borrowed time.


Even now, I find myself reading her poems and stories over and over again, always discovering something new.

Where the Night Water Runs
Once I chased a dream, a bird song,
a peacock feather,
through midnight down to the lapping water
silver crickets like ear-stars singing
all along the fields where fieldmice hide.
There is no place to go
but down to where the night water runs,
and runs black and slow,
slow like feet running in a dream.
Kind water, sweet and black
whispering, "I take nothing back.
I only go on."
The dream was really a beast
covered by night; I did not know,
and I followed the rank smell far,
too far away,
to find it, large
and turning, white clawed and snorting
too awful for fear,
too awful for running,
the song of my living too awful for fear -
and now to go on,
walking;
dawn is near.


Even now, she still visits me from time to time in my dreams.
Stephanie again, for a short time. I think we must have been teens or young adults. We were visiting the home of another family, perhaps relatives. It was getting late at night. I don't know if our parents were there or not. She was ready to drive home. Oh good, I thought, this will give us a chance to catch up; I haven't spoken with her in a long time. Even after I woke up, it was several minutes before I realized just how long it had been, and why.