April 2006 Archives

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

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U.S. Says It Fears Detainee Abuse in Repatriation - New York Times:

"The military has so far sent home 267 detainees from Guantánamo after finding that they had no further intelligence value and either posed no long-term security threat or would reliably be imprisoned or monitored by their own governments. Most of those who remain are considered more dangerous militants; many also come from nations with poor human rights records and ineffective justice systems.

But Washington's insistence on humane treatment for the detainees in their native countries comes after years in which Guantánamo has been assailed as a symbol of American abuse and hypocrisy — a fact not lost on the governments with which the United States is now negotiating.

"It is kind of ironic that the U.S. government is placing conditions on other countries that it would not follow itself in Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib," said a Middle Eastern diplomat from one of the countries involved in the talks."

Ain't this a blip. Now the US Government is worried about torture and human rights abuses. It's unfortunate that our hands had to be caught in the Abu Ghraib/"rendition" cookie jar for us to begin to act responsibly on the world stage. Diligent, pain in the ass press combined with a mobilized electorate...hey this is an election year!

No, that's just too cynical. This administration does not make important foreign policy issues based on the political consequences. Never in a million years.

It All Comes Out in the End

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CBSNews.com: A Spy Speaks Out:

"So in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam's inner circle that he didn't have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?" [60 Minutes Correspondent Ed] Bradley asked.

"Yes," [Top Europe Officer for the CIA Tyler] Drumheller replied. He says there was [no] doubt in his mind at all.

"It directly contradicts, though, what the president and his staff were telling us," Bradley remarked.

"The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."

Well at least the intelligence wasn't "fixed around the policy," they were simply looking for intelligence that "fit into the policy!"

What has always amazed me about this administration are its thin attempts to avoid uncomfortable truths. They will lie and distort through rhetorical slight-of-hand, bait and switch if you will. But as a critical thinker, I tend to think. I check what you say with the facts as I know them. If there is dissonance, then something is wrong. None of the facts here are in dispute (although I'm sure The Weekly Standard will no doubt cook something up). So yet again, this administration is caught in yet another lie or at least a strong attempt at misdirection.

Specifically, the issue here isn't that the intelligence was faulty but that it was misused as a justification for war. It was known to the Bush administration and the intelligence community that this information had credibility problems because the community had made this clear by phone, fax, and formal report before the infamous State of the Union speech and certainly before going to war.

Jay-Z Greatest MC of All Time?

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MTV News - Jay, Nas, LL, More On Being The 'Greatest MCs Of All Time':

I can buy Jay-Z being #1 hustler in the industry. I can buy him being the most successful artist. But #1 MC of all time?!?!? Oh hell naw! Rakim, Kane or Biggie could eat him alive lyrically. Sinead O'Connor was right. It's about the loot.

Rakim was on point as usual:

"It's a blessing, man. Especially the road I took. I'm a conscious rapper. I try to stay away from a lot of things: Not wanting to cross over and go pop. Try to stay true to my roots and for them to bless me with that title. It makes it all worth the battle. It's like the first time you sit down with the notebook, you want to be with the greats. I came up under Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee. I used to think, 'If Melle Mel heard this, or if Caz heard this, what would he think?' "

The Cycle of Death

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'Even though I am suffering, my suicide bomber son was a hero' - World - Times Online:

"He was a hero and I am proud of Samir but I have suffered from his loss," she said of her eldest son. "I have seen their soldiers killing our children and destroying our home, making everything bad, so how can I see them sympathetically or kindly?"

Reading these words, I couldn't help but think how similar they would sound from the mother of one of the victims of the bombing last Passover in Tel Aviv. Ultimately "security" built upon oppression is no security at all. No justice, no peace. The prophet Micah knew that. When will we learn? Who will be brave enough to stop the killing?

Silent but Deadly

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Black Americans quiet on Darfur crisis:

"There are other matters that slow black American involvement in Darfur. For example, it is unfolding at a time when 'black Americans have lost momentum with Africa overall,' said Marie Clark Brill, a program and mobilization planner with Africa Action, a 50-year-old group that pushes for positive activism for Africa. Unlike the anti-apartheid fervor, which was spawned in an era when black Americans, still inspired by 'Roots,' were reaching out to build solidarity with Africa. 'Now,' said Ms. Clark Brill, 'we see a disconnect with the continent because of HIV and other issues.'"

We need to be more concerned and involved. Ironically, the reasons we aren't are because the issues though race driven are not black and white, so to speak, and they haven't been cogently presented to stir up Black folk. Like Rwanda where black folk were killing each other based on ethnicity, its hard for the tragedy to play into viceral racial righteous indignation there, and I suspect something similar is going on here.

A New, Bold Approach to Iraq

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TIME.com: Why Iraq Was a Mistake -- Apr. 17, 2006 -- Page 1:

Ret. General Newbold:

"From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough."

...

"Before the antiwar banners start to unfurl, however, let me make clear--I am not opposed to war. I would gladly have traded my general's stars for a captain's bars to lead our troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while I don't accept the stated rationale for invading Iraq, my view--at the moment--is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists' message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position."

Finally someone who talks plain sense. I wondered how going after a should-a, would-a, could-a ally of al-Qaeda was equivalent to eliminating the actual, original threat: Osama bin Laden and the organization he leads. Instead of a president who "doesn't spend much time thinking about" one of the America's mortal enemies, I'd prefer one who will dispatch this threat with prejudice.

Journalists Need a Boot in the...

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Daring Fireball: Several Asinine and/or Risky Ideas Regarding Apple's Strategy That Boot Camp Does Not Portend:

"Regarding anything related to Apple's strategy going forward, it's essential to keep in mind just how Apple functions as a business. It's not very complicated. Apple now has two fundamental businesses: selling Macintosh computers and selling iPods. And I think if you wanted to, you could argue that this is really one core business, selling computers, and that some of their computers are Macs and some are iPods."

Exactly right. Boot camp will pit Apple against Dell and its ilk not Wintel, since both elements of that non-word are Apple partners: Microsoft and Intel.

Here We Go Again

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THE IRAN PLANS
Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?
:

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increase clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligenc officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government, ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me. No matter how undeniable the threat from Iran is, George W. Bush is not the man to face it for me. Put in people like Powell or Zinni on this, who think and tell the truth before they act. W. has absolutely no creditability with me.

The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

Once again the professionals are saying no and Administration is overriding them with so-called experts. Political neo-con craziness, which is proven stupidity as Iraq clearly demonstrates. We know what happens when this Administration does this.

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”

Let's hope so.

I wrote in defense of a friend on a mailing list who speaks as a conservative. Many were starting to ignore him, instead of taking him seriously. He thanked me and explained his position that I think we all need to heed.

Thanks Rob.

Let me also be clear, I am a conservative. That isn't a role I am playing. I firmly believe that a healthy democracy is one that has different points of view aimed at each other and the collision of those views (debate) produces comprehensive, well-thought out policies that grants the rights that liberals fight for and the responsibilities that conservatives fight for.

I believe that we have been oppressed and downtrodden. I believe that there is latent racism in the fabric of our society. But I also believe that I am not going to stand by and have people even think one IOTA that our people are too weak, too frail, too incompetent, too unlearned, too poor, too demonized, and too unfortunate to put a pen to a piece of paper and write a masterpiece, put a finger to a keyboard and create a near-perfect Java script, or put their hands to a piece of metal and create an elegant automobile.

Thus, I firmly believe that despite the fact that we have racist, bigoted, rat-bastards out there controlling the means of production and the positions of industry, We have no excuse for not being the kings and queens we are supposed to be. It was in our bloodline dating back to our African Ancestors. Malcolm said it and he was the guy I was tryin' to be like so I am just "payin' it forward." Look at Ken Chennault, Stanley O'Neal, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Barack Obama, Harold Ford Jr., Andrew Young, John W. Thompson (CEO Symantec), Milton Young (President United Way MA), Oprah, Iyanla Vanzant, Shirley Jackson, and the list goes on!

So I don't want nobody's damn welfare (my parents have been on it), I don't want nobody's damn affirmative action (so someone can disqualify my intelligence, potential, or capacity), I don't want nobody's damn quota (so I can be their damn trophy), and certainly I don't want nobody's damn pity (because I want my kids to grow up with some honor and dignity)

Despite the fact that we need some variation of those programs because there are those who are genuinely disadvantaged, I still know we can do a helluva lot better as a people than what we claim to be doing now. And it is not all DA MAN holdin' us down. Not when you have folks actin' like pimps, hoes, and hustlas and PROUD OF IT TOO!

So as the good conservative that I am here is the charge: let's buck up, stan' up, and make somethin' outta nothin' like our great grandparents used to do!

T (Tha DA!)

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Taalib al'Salaam

Lost Christianities

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In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal - New York Times:

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years, and it portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus but as his favored disciple and willing collaborator. In this text, scholars reported yesterday, the account of events leading to the Crucifixion differs sharply from the four gospels in the New Testament. Here Jesus is said to entrust Judas with special knowledge and ask him to betray him to the Roman authorities. By doing so, he tells Judas, 'you will exceed' the other disciples.
"These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was," said Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics.

It's interesting to see other "Christianities" and how early Christians believed. Contrary to popular belief, Christianity was no monolith. The term heretic is anachronistic for the first four centuries of our tradition. Competing understandings of Christ existed and named themselves the true keepers of the tradition Jesus left us mediated through his Apostles.

It makes me realize how special faith is and how tradition is just as human as faith is. Incomplete, imperfect, yet sacred and holy. After reading a good book on this topic, my appreciation of this fact has only increased.

Black Men and Responsibilty

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Grim forecast for young black men - Race in America - MSNBC.com:

"Making matters worse, a forthcoming book, which includes a study of nearly 1,500 private employers in New York City, found that black job applicants with no criminal records weren't any more likely to get a job than white applicants who were just out of prison."

Black folk who know that racism, albeit in different forms, is still part of the problems surrounding black men in our society. At Church you'll hear about personal responsiblity, morals, etc. ("Being a father ain't just about makin' babies" and so on.) But you will also hear about racism in our society. When studies show employment issues for black people, we call that institutional racism. When a clean black man is as likely to get hired as a white ex-con, that's pretty bad. That racism isn't carried out by aliens, or "institutions" or "society;" it's carried out by people. No amount of personal responsibility on the part of victims will cure this. Personal, or rather social, responsibility on the part of the prejudiced is also required. Prejudice is in all of us and is most dangerous in those with power. If you want to talk about racism in our society in the context of personal responsibility, then ask that we all accept it.