I hope you will come back and join me when i return.
Jill and Kayinmaine, This is an open invitation for you to guest post in my absence.
Until i return...
Rojak posts, mostly political.
"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -- Thomas Mann
If so, I must be a writer.
"There are practitioners of politics who hold that voters are dumb, ill-informed and easily misled, that voters can be manipulated by a clever ad or smart money," Rove said.
But Rove, seen as the mastermind behind President George W. Bush's White House victories in 2000 and 2004, said, "It's wrong to underestimate the intelligence of the American voter." [emphasis mine]
On Friday, July 7, Army 1st Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens was buried at a respectful ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, which many consider to be the most hallowed ground in the United States.
But the peace was disrupted by protests from members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. In a cordoned-off area by the entrance to the cemetery, they carried signs with anti-gay and anti-American slogans and proclaimed that Ewens' death in Afghanistan on June 16 was another sign of God's impeding doom on the nation.
Westboro has taken what it calls "love crusades" to military funerals across the country. The church was not protesting at the funeral because Ewens was gay, but because he died, in their view, serving a country that has incurred the wrath of God by accepting and tolerating homosexuality.
Now the father of a slain serviceman whose funeral was disrupted is suing the church in an attempt to fight back against what he views as the abuse of military families with a message of hate.
Sadly, Florida has all but lost its long battle to keep oil and gas rigs far from the state's shores. Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson deserve credit for achieving a better bill in the Senate than what the House passed, but the entire Florida congressional delegation must be faulted for not demanding more in return for giving up longstanding coastal protections.
It's unclear at this point what legislation will ultimately become law, because each house of Congress is adamantly insisting on its own version. The Senate would keep Gulf of Mexico drilling rigs at least 125 miles from the shoreline, but the House would make it 100 miles and give states the option of allowing even closer drilling in exchange for economic incentives.
But wouldn't this have been the perfect time for Florida to say, look, you want to jeopardize our environment and economy by drilling. OK, let's make a deal. Let's spread responsibility for covering the catastrophic costs of hurricanes.
But no. Florida still must fend for itself, even though the nation is pouring billions into Hurricane Katrina recovery and even though Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, but not Florida, would get a 37 percent cut of the revenue from new drilling.
An energy bill set for passage in the U.S. Senate this week that would open up thousands more acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil exploration has some attractive features. But in the long run, it is a myopic piece of legislation.
Alabama, admittedly, would make out like a bandit under the proposed bill, and it’s easy to see why it has the support of our state’s senators. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., estimates it will produce “tens of millions of dollars annually" for Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.
That’s because it contains a revenue-sharing plan that gives the four states 37.5 percent of royalties from new areas of production and new leases in existing production areas.
Now the federal government retains all royalties from oil production three miles or more from a state’s coastline.
The most troubling aspect of the energy bill is that while it opens up vast new areas of the Gulf to oil exploration and production, if [sic] it offers nothing to require increased fuel economy.
To move toward energy independence, the two concepts should be joined at the hip. But the Senate leadership, notably Tennessee Republican Bill Frist, refuses even to consider a bipartisan fuel-economy amendment, saying extra baggage would threaten passage of the bill.
The amendment, proposed by Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., would require a 4 percent improvement in fuel economy standards annually unless federal regulators say otherwise. Experts say that’s a sensible figure.
To reduce it, the regulators would have to justify why the increase was not feasible.
The Senate energy bill’s lack of any fuel-economy requirement is reason enough to be wary of it. But some critics also say it could set oil exploration on a slippery slope that edges toward the coastline. [emphasis mine]
The images of the dead children in southern Lebanon played across the television screens on Sunday over and over again — small and caked in dirt and as lifeless as rag dolls as rescuers hauled them from the wreckage of several residential buildings pulverized hours earlier by the Israeli Air Force.
The images were broadcast on all of the Arab-language satellite channels, but it was the most popular station, Al Jazeera, that made the starkest point. For several hours after rescuers reached Qana, Lebanon, the station took its anchors off the air and just continuously played images of the little bodies there.
“This is the new Middle East,” one report from the shattered town began, making a sarcastic reference to a phrase Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice uttered last week when visiting Beirut and rejecting calls for an immediate cease-fire. American weapons caused the deaths, the report said.
The federal government has inflated the "No Fly List" to 200,000 names. but the list has nabbed more members of Congress than it has terrorists. US Senator Edward M. Kennedy and US Representative John Lewis have been inconvenienced by it, and anyone named David Nelson is likely to face a major interrogation each time he flies. Federal officials make it very difficult to correct the list, thus tormenting citizens who are guilty of nothing more than having a name resembling a name suspected sometime by some government official.
Hundreds of disruptions have occurred at American airports since Sept. 11 after security breaches set off fears of terror attacks. The subsequent lockdowns boosted local television news ratings. Though no terrorists have been apprehended, thousands of Americans have been arrested at airports for violating Transportation Security Administration regulations or other rules. [emphasis mine]
"We're still on the road to World War III. Things were looking a little grim last week - all those countries pressuring us to call for an immediate cease-fire, but we stayed strong. Sure, we sent over Condi Rice to negotiate, but she's not there to obtain a cease-fire. No, she's there to obtain a 'sustainable cease-fire,' which considering the Middle East, is like sending her to bring back Jimmy Hoffa on a unicorn."
&mdash &mdash Professor Irwin Corey
Iran’s government will reject a proposed United Nations resolution that would give it until August 31 to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of international sanctions, state-run radio says.
“Iranians will not accept unfair decisions, even in the framework of resolutions by the international bodies,” the radio commentary said.
There has been no official comment to the draft resolution, but state radio often is thought to provide the Iranian government line.
The resolution was formally circulated to the full 15-member UN Security Council on Friday and will probably be adopted next week.
“Ultimatum and deadline cannot be acceptable to us,” the commentary said, accusing the US and its allies of making what it called an illegal demand by the United States, France, Germany and Britain.
Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, has said that if Israel wants secure borders it must withdraw from the disputed Shebaa Farms area it has occupied since 1967.
Israel, which has bombarded Beirut's suburbs and southern Lebanon with aircraft and artillery since July 12, has said it wants to weaken Hezbollah so that the Lebanese government can disarm the group.
In an interview with Aljazeera.net late on Friday, Siniora said his government cannot force Hezbollah to disarm as long as Israel continues to occupy the Shebaa Farms.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called off a trip to Lebanon today after the Lebanese government asked her not to come.
Lebanese officials said the request was made after dozens of civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Lebanon village of Qana.
At least 51 people were killed, many of them children, when Israeli war planes blitzed a village in south Lebanon, an attack which Israel has rejected responsibility for.. [emphasis mine]
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today said that the village of Qana, where Israeli airstrikes killed at least 50 people today- including scores of children - was used as a Hezbollah base for launching hundreds of rockets at Israel.
“From the village and its surroundings, hundreds of Katyusha (rockets) have been fired at Israel, toward Kiryat Shemona and Afula,” Olmert said during Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting, according to a participant in the meeting.
”The army did not get an order to strike at Lebanese civilians. In Kfar Qana, hundreds of Katyushas are hidden.”
20 Taliban killed in southern Afghanistan(read more)
Israeli Airstrikes Kill 20, Destroy Homes(read more)
Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.
The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?
After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.
“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”
Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.
But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.
U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.
A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court.
According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute."
Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.
"That's the big question ... the definition of who can be detained," said Martin Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University who posted a copy of the bill to a Web blog.
The administration's proposal, as considered at one point during discussions, would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing "speedy trials" and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony.
The landmark court decision countered long-held assertions by the Bush administration that the president did not need permission from Congress to prosecute "enemy combatants" captured in the war on terror [hence the use of the term "indefinitely" in the first paragraph] and that al Qaeda members were not subject to Geneva Convention protections because of their unconventional status.
"In a time of ongoing armed conflict, it is neither practicable nor appropriate for enemy combatants like al Qaeda terrorists to be tried like American citizens in federal courts or courts-martial," the proposal states.
The draft proposal contends that an existing law — passed by the Senate last year after exhaustive negotiations between the White House and Sen. John McCain [snip], R-Ariz. — that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment should "fully satisfy" the nation's obligations under the Geneva Conventions [which Dim Son negated via signing statement – ed]. [emphasis mine]
Dear Concerned Citizen;
We are the Jewish-American Relief Fund for Lebanon Refugees. We are upset by the horrible conditions found among the Lebanese people displaced by the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces). Our homeland is causing hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians to flee their homes in fear.
We don't want to take up much of your time. All we ask is that you donate what you can to help us help those suffering. They have nothing now, so anything you can spare will be happily accepted. We are sure you will be as generous as you can.
Our organization is a duly licensed charity and all donations are tax deductable.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Seymour A. Dershowitz
Jewish-American Relief Fund for Lebanon Refugees
PO Box 3032
Atlanta, GA 30329