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    14 August 2004
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    Losing battle

    Looking at American politics over time you see an overlying trend that has never deviated, except in the most trying times. This country, after founded with liberal rooting in religious freedom, has proceeded to march undeterred into liberal territory. The conservatives of today often turn out to be the forgotten or demonized of tomorrow, and for that sacrifice, they should be lauded. This is why the right is such a hateful and vocal minority. They are losing ground every second as the river of change flows on, simply slowed by their vain efforts.

    Those who stood against the American Revolution, the emancipation proclamation, restrictions on the monopolies of the robber-barons, women's suffrage movement, Social Security, Medicare and minority voting rights are the parents and grandparents you'd be embarrassed to mention.

    Now the conservatives are making a stand with gay marriage. Sure, they will be able to slow the movement's progress, but gay rights will happen, just later rather than sooner. Those people will be embarrassed to say in 40 years that they stood against gay rights just as nobody will admit today that they were against the civil rights movement. Only the most feckless conservative would say that they mourned the day the Jim Crow laws were abolished. Democrat and Republican conservatives stood against the tide of change, against the civil rights which we now couldn't imagine losing. Are those people heroes now or do we respect the Martin Luther King's and JFK's over the Strom Thurmond's and John Stennis'?

    From fighting against black voting powers, to the women's right to vote, to the abolition of slavery, we see that as time passes, the conservative agendas of the past grow increasingly repulsive. These agendas produced no lasting heroes. We laud the accomplishments of Susan B. Anthony but who can remember a soul who stood against her movement? The conservative hero is one for an era while the liberal is one for the ages. The conservative champion ultimately fails because of the nature of his cause. He is forgotten as his cause ferments into the future. The list of liberal American heroes is endless, but who can name a conservative hero from the past? They do not exist. Ronald Reagan may hold that standing now, but time has not yet taken its toll on the man's conservative image.

    A conservative stands against the tides of change, fighting for the status quo, fighting for those white men that think that things could only get worse because things are so darn good now. All the conservative can hope to do is slow the unstoppable momentum of change. From Jesus, to Martin Luther, to Thomas Paine, to Frederick Douglas, to Teddy Roosevelt, to FDR, to Martin Luther King, the liberal is an enabler of change who sees that there is work yet to be done and that society can improve. There is work left to be done and America's future does not lie in the past.

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    First of all, Charlie has passed my position in SC but the word is that the situation on the ground in FL is looking much worse than up here.

    Secondly, on Sunday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will face an election to oust him as the rich in the country would like or to stay in office as the poor would like. This, of course has strings attached to Washington and Oil. Chavez, the victim of a sloppy US backed coup detat, offered some strong words for bush earlier this month:

    "Look out! On 15 August I am going to hit [a home run] so hard that it will land in the gardens of the White House"

    Chavez was also threatened by his rival and Ex-President Carlos Andres Perez in an Interview with Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional:

    "Violence will allow us to remove him. That's the only way we have... [Chavez] must die like a dog, because he deserves it."

    Polls on this issue are different, with local Venezuelan poll leaning toward the opposition. But Washington is taking an pessimistic look at the situation and has a poll that shows support for Chavez. It will be interesting to see what happens Sunday night and Monday morning. . .

    11 August 2004
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    The situation in Iraq continues to simmer, and it is beginning to look like Najaf is going to be the site of a major offensive. What I find strange is the situation we are in, the Shia are a large Majority who are not happy. They were liberated from under the fist of the Batth Party but now they seem to be under another. A "poor Shia's" man, Sadr, is the big news taking a beating around Najaf. Another Shia is Chalabi and his nephew who are banned from Iraq along with the INC which is a large political organization (the nephew is head of the tribunal trying Saddam!). Finally the main Shia, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is out of the country and suffering from heart problems.

    This is all coming to a head but what I find troubling is how Iraq's deputy president, Ibrahim Jaafari looks at the situation:

    "I call for multinational forces to leave Najaf and for only Iraqi forces to remain there"

    Meanwhile you have Col Anthony Haslam, commanding officer of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Najaf, noting that:

    "Iraqi and US forces are making final preparations as we get ready to finish this fight that the Moqtada militia started"

    I don't know what we should do, but who wants a bleeding-heart's opinion anyway?

    09 August 2004
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    New atrocities

    This time in Turkey, new attacks are unleashed but, fortunately with insignificant results although any results (death) is in itself, a tragedy.

    This is a new issue parallel to the rising violence in southern and middle Iraq that has moblized the US Military to retake general order responsibilities from Poland in two Iraqi cities. This looks to be the next step toward the war for Iraq that seems to be brewing from within the US occupation. I'll look into this Black Banner phenom that Juan Cole has mentioned:

    Claude Salhani of UPI reports that the recent kidnappings of truck drivers in a bid to force the companies that employ them out of the Iraq market are being claimed by a shadowy group called "the Black Banners." He speculates that this phrase has a Shiite ring to it, but quotes one observer who doubts that. Salhani writes:

    The "war" in Iraq is suddenly taking a very different turn, and regrettably, not one for the better. After first targeting the military, then changing tactics by kidnapping hostages and holding them in exchange for the withdrawal of Coalition troops -- and one may add with some success -- the "insurgents" are now going after the soft underbelly of Iraq, its fragile economy.

    A new rebel group, hitherto unknown, calling themselves the "Black Banners" is the latest to surface. They join the plethora of armed groups opposed to the presence of foreign forces, particularly American soldiers, in Iraq. The Black Banners have detained six hostages: three Indians, two Kenyans and an Egyptian, all nationals from "neutral" nations.

    The tactic of attacking the civilian employees of companies doing work in Iraq is actually not new, and is only one of a number of current guerrilla tactics. Another is to assassinate municipal, provincial and federal officials. A significant percentage of municipal council members has been assassinated, though only The Guardian has reported on this deadly campaign at the local level.

    As for the trucker kidnappings, the Black Banners are a symbol of revolution in Islamic history, and not only among Shiites. The corrupt Umayyad kingdom was overthrown by the Abbasids around 750 CE when revolutionaries raised black banners in the East. The Abbasid dynasty, which created Baghdad and ruled for centuries, is seen by Iraqis generally and by Muslims generally, including Sunnis, to have created a Golden Age when the Muslim world was more glorious than Europe. So the term "Black Banners" could have a Shiite implication, but does not necessarily do so. Even secularists or Marxists could adopt black banners as a revolutionary symbol, with reference to the Abbasid revolution.

    Juan Cole 7/04

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    I love to cover polls, but I tend to stay away from Fox polls for obvious reasons. But the disaster that this president has lead himself into has shown up in even a Fox sponsored poll(in .pdf).

    It is an excellent poll, and very indepth. I asks an array of questions not just the simple question you see followed by numbers. It lists the different ratings of the president from 2000 till now and similar stats of the other three important figures. Some numbers that are astonishing are stats concerning their approval ratings in individual issues:

    -Economy Bush 36% Kerry 44%
    -War on Terror Bush 44% Kerry 38%
    -Situation in Iraq Bush 41% Kerry 40%
    -Education Bush 34% Kerry 47%
    -Health Care Bush 31% Kerry 49%
    -Taxes Bush 41% Kerry 42%

    This poll would never reach the eyes of its loyal viewers, or intelligent people who read this blog.


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