Friday, April 30, 2004

God forgive us

What kind of God do we assume will forgive our moral transgressions?

"I don't support [the insurgents], but the way the Americans have dealt with and are dealing with this city makes me hate every American here, more and more."

--Sabah Alani

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Volunteers hunting for bodies in Fallujah find a woman and her daughter in their home, killed in the siege but undiscovered for days. Chanting mourners bury two boys caught in the crossfire of a Baghdad gunfight. A morgue in Basra overflows with torn and burned bodies from a suicide bombing.

Victims... young and old, women and men, insurgents and innocents --have been piling up day by day, making April the deadliest month for Iraqis--and Americans--since the fall of Saddam Hussein a year ago.

The Associated Press found that around 1,361 Iraqis were killed from April 1 to April 30.

"For this to be happening a year after Saddam fell, Iraqis are shocked," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the U.S.-picked Governing Council. "This shows that the United States cannot rule Iraqi properly..." [LINK]

After the public was hoodwinked, we've attacked a country that was not an imminent threat to us.
We've caused terror to be unleashed in that country of poor souls.
We never planned for the inner-chaos amongst the Iraqi nationalists.
A cake-walk, they told us. Flowers.
Instead, resentment, blood, hatred, death.
Women and children are made victims too easily..too often. Why should their lives be cheaper than yours and/or that of your own beloved family?
This is sheer insanity.
It's all gone so wrong.
The world-at-large has abandoned Bush's imperialist dream.
Bush holds stubbornly tight to that imperialist dream, like a willful child in pitiful denial.....refusing to let go of his dead dog long after the car's run it down.

Bring our troops home.
Get them the hell out of there.
President is wrong in trashing our troops

Let me start by saying I do not condone or defend cruelty to any prisoner of war while in the hands of captors, but to hear Bush saying he's disgusted with the troops (when he doesn't have the full story) made me think: He put our men and women in a land where savagery and hatred against them reigns. He's also employed private contractors who are under no constraint such as the Geneva Convention rules. Creating a prison-camp at Guantanamo, Cuba set a new standard for more freedom to "interrogate" out of the watchful eyes of the world. War is not pretty. There is never a guarantee of justice in war. These American men and women are facing hell..pure hell..every damned waking moment of their year (plus-extension) in Iraq. They are emotionally disturbed by what they see. They've killed for their mission...with regret. They've seen their friends bruised, bloodied, and killed in front of their eyes. They are not their civil selves while at war. Why do we treat them as if they're some kind of superhuman? Put yourselves in their hellish place. A careless liar put them hell. A frolicking stooge who never faced gunfire in his life (unless he was shootin' at some food). I wonder if you can tell I'm disgusted myself? I give our soldiers every benefit of the doubt. So should the President. God knows what monsters any of us would become if we were living in hell every waking moment.

Instead of displaying public disgust, find out what brought our military to such low tactics..investigate from how high-up the gross violation of human rights was approved...and mostly, bring the troops home where they belong. We all know the most-heard statement from Iraqi citizen to American troop: "Thank you for liberating us, now go home." It's time.

America may well be the world's only hope for a bright future, but we'll never convince anyone at the butt of the gun. Our troops did their job...their mission was accomplished (and accomplished well) after Saddam Hussein was caught. Everything that's happened since has been a disaster because it was never their job to do alone.

I'm here to say I'M disgusted with a commander who lost the trust of the world (after a golden opportunity post 9-11) He could not (and did not try to) convince leaders to to do the right thing and step in alongside us to win the Iraqi trust, hearts and minds. He was too afraid..too proud to make the U.N. appear "relevant". Not one more American man or woman should die, but instead should be on a ship or airplane bound for the re-uniting with their loved ones and their countrymen who have the utmost respect for their commitment, bravery, and loyalty.

*Did anyone express digust about what happened to Maher Arar?
"The Exorcist" in 30 seconds

Re-enacted by bunnies
*With a mysteriously power-of-Christ-compelling rendition of the theme song at the end.
This is a must-see, people.
Flowers and Curses

Mordechai Vanunu, flanked by his two loyal and devoted brothers, Meir and Asher, emerged through the prison gate into the spring sunshine. He raised his hands in the air with the 'V' sign, and told the world he was the same man who had been captured and imprisoned in 1986, and that he was proud and happy with what he had done.

Mordechai Vanunu has been freed.
From NPR's Julie McCarthy: "Since Vanunu's been in jail, India and Pakistan joined the nuclear club. The US went to war to destroy what it said was Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. His release comes as Libya and Iran have been put under intense scrutiny to dismantle their nuclear capabilities. It's against that backdrop that Israel continues to maintain its decades-long policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying the existence of nuclear weapons. And successive US administrations haven't demanded anything more. Meanwhile, Vanunu, we're told by associates, says he's going to campaign to the extent he can against the spread of nuclear weapons."

On Being a Desert

Being a Desert

There is an ancient teaching that is at the core of true spiritual development: in order to connect constantly to the Light of the Creator we must develop and become like the desert.

The desert is un-owned, open space within which anybody can do anything they want. This is the level to which we are supposed to develop. Being like the desert means that you do not care what people do to you, what people say to you, or what they do not do for you or say to you. It means being free in the deepest sense.

Our nature is usually the opposite of the desert. We are extremely and constantly concerned about what people do, say or even think about us. We are captive to almost everybody, for their actions, words and even thoughts can influence our feelings and life. In order to develop spiritually we need to constantly work on becoming like the desert, feeling open and free like the desert. It is not an easy process but one that not only greatly enables our spiritual development, but also brings to a level of equanimity and peace that cannot be reached any other way.

It is a process that takes constant focus and effort but one whose spiritual and practical effect is immense.

Rabbi Michael Berg

The honoring of our fallen should not be censored

"Just look at these people. Look at their names. And look at their ages.
Consider what they've done for you. Honor them.
I truly believe that people will take away from this program the reflection of what they bring to it.''

--Ted Koppel

Many of you may not be aware of my Honor Roll website/blog. I went there today to add what I consider to be a shameful headline: Sinclair Broadcasting refuses to air Nightline reading of the list of our fallen.
I applaud any network that would devote its time and effort to honor the men and women who gave their lives for the cause and commitment they made for this nation, regardless of politics.

Whatever brought Sinclair Broadcasting to this decision..I don't understand it, but silencing mention of our dead is f*cking shameful! Those men and women fought for American values and freedoms that are being stepped on by the likes of Sinclair.

Jane Bright of Military Families Speak Out is the mother of Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, who died July 24, 2003, near Mosul, Iraq. She said: "The Sinclair Broadcast Group is trying to undermine the lives of our soldiers killed in Iraq. By censoring Nightline they want to hide the toll the war on Iraq is having on thousands of soldiers and their families, like mine."

Sinclair's soft money political contributions will probably tell you exactly what they're afraid of. The hard money tells the same sordid tale.

I'm right on this. I know it clearly. Our soldiers know it. Their families know it.
If we cannot distinguish public mourning from making statements against a war, then we have failed as a free and civil people. We are no longer beholding of the American ideals on which our nation was founded.

See: Sen. John McCain's protest to Sinclair
See: "Koppel defends the fallen" by Al Tompkins
Daniel Pipes: U.S. military is not an instrument for social work

Daniel Pipes has written an interesting article about Americans and their vision of our nation in relation to the world-at-large. He means to show that the ensured success of bringing democracy to Iraq by miltary force is clearly not a foregone conclusion. He states that the U.S. goal 'cannot be a free Iraq, but an Iraq that does not endanger Americans'.

He offers a triad of perceptions/ideas formulated by Samuel P. Huntington, a Harvard professor, from his new book, Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity (forthcoming in May).

*Cosmopolitan: America ''welcomes the world, its ideas, its goods, and, most important, its people.'' In this vision, the country strives to become multiethnic, multiracial and multicultural. The United Nations and other international organizations increasingly influence American life. Diversity is an end in itself; national identity declines in importance. In brief, the world reshapes America.

*Imperial: America reshapes the world. This impulse is fueled by a belief in ''the supremacy of American power and the universality of American values.'' America's unique military, economic and cultural might bestows on it the responsibility to confront evil and to order the world. Other peoples are assumed basically to share the same values as Americans; Americans should help them attain those values. America is less a nation than ''the dominant component of a supranational empire.''

*National: ''America is different'' and its people recognize and accept what distinguishes them from others. That difference results in large part from the country's religious commitment and its Anglo-Protestant culture. The nationalist outlook preserves and enhances those qualities that have defined America from its inception. As for people who are not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, they ''become Americans by adopting its Anglo-Protestant culture and political values.''

Mr. Pipes admits to wavering between the bottom two choices. I'd have to say I waver between the top choice and bottom choice. The more of the world we take within and incorporate into our national psyche, the more we erase the differences that once acted as a barrier to ultimate understanding and peace. I find the choice to be quite simple. I don't understand why the second choice would ever be paramount... it seems smug, ego-based and greed-driven. In Sunday school I learned about the Golden Rule and, gosh-darn it, it's made every subsequent choice in my own life amazingly clear and simple. In these days of terror, the world really does need to work as a team. Each team member needs to respect all the differences brought to the table and ego and imperialistic attitude simply must be left at the door, regardless of who's carrying the biggest stick at the table.

How about you? Where do you fall within these choices?

Three questions

ABC's political web daily, The Note asks:

--Which candidate would you say the national political press like more?

--Who do you imagine the national political press think will win in November?

--Who do you suppose the national political press think is running the more competent campaign?


The Note previews Kerry's speech, which is to be given today at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

The Note offers a preview excerpt:

"We need to put pride aside to build a stable Iraq. We must reclaim our country's standing in the world by doing what has kept America safe and made it more secure before-leading in a way that brings others to us so that we are respected, not simply feared, around the globe."

"Will all this be difficult to achieve? Yes. Is there a guarantee of success? No. In light of all the mistakes that have been made, no one can guarantee success. No one can say that success is certain, but I can say that if we do not try this, failure is all too likely."