• Monday, August 31, 2009

    adding pictures

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    A look at the Iran NIE and its impact

    The NIE report
    "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons
    program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is
    keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."
    Wall Street Journal article
    "As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate... was that 'Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons...despite...international pressure.' This was a 'high confidence' judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 'in response to increasing international scrutiny.' This too is a 'high confidence' conclusion
    Will the NIE report on Iran change the debate on international action against Iran?
    "National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that Israel must 'continue to act in every way against the Iranian nuclear threat.' Israel is working under the premise that Iran is still pursuing nuclear weapons, said Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli defense minister. 'This is exactly one of the issues over which the state of Israel must take no risk,' he said in a radio interview."
    Gulf states (Sunni neighbors such as Saudi Arabia)
    "For the first time ever, leaders of the Arab Gulf states invited Iran to attend a summit in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did little to reassure them that his country's nuclear program is not a threat to the region."
    "What particularly concerns Gulf Arabs is the possibility that Iran could go nuclear -- a concern unlikely to be erased by the ambiguous findings of the new NIE. ...As the new NIE notes, 'Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.' ...That thought fills Sunni Arabs with dread. 'If we accept Iran as a nuclear power that is like accepting Hitler in 1933-34,' warned one senior Arab official, using the kind of analogy that back in Washington would get him dismissed as a neocon warmonger."
    "The European Union's foreign policy chief said Friday he was 'disappointed' by the latest talks with Iran over the nation's nuclear program, a failure that could result in more sanctions for the Middle Eastern nation."
    "Last year, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused President Bush of "downplaying" the threat of a nuclear Iran. "[W]e we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations," Clinton said in a January 2006 speech at Princeton University. On Monday, Clinton's campaign said the new intelligence assessment on Iran validates her push for diplomacy."
    An interesting opinion on the importance of 2003 "international pressure" in Iranian nuclear planning
    Was it disruption of AQ Khan's proliferation network or the "Iraq effect".
    An overview

    The AQ Khan connection

    What happened in 2003 - IAEA violations and Khan's network uncovered

    What happened in 2005 - Transition to Ahmadinejad
    What happened in 2006 - UN vs Iran

    Intent and Israel

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Post Global Barometer - Yes I'm Robert of Los Angeles

    Observation: Hamas, Gaza, Israel, The West Bank, et al. The past few days have been good ones for Islamists such as Osama bin Laden who have seen their vision of an Islamic empire take small steps forward with the Gaza win, with the Fatah defeat, with Lebanon closer to chaos and with the US "surge" not succeeding (at least by the Pentagon's estimate). Israel, with a Martin Indyk column in The Washington Post this morning and a Calev Ben-Dor analysis in the Jerusalem Post yesterday (both available for viewing in the GPB Supporting Data for Israel), has suggested that all this could actually be good for Israel because it allows Gaza (the violent failed state of radical Islam) to be separated from the West Bank (the haven of moderate Islam led by secular Fatah). The columns by Ben-Dor and Indyk go on to say that Hamas will clearly fail because Gaza is ungovernable (particularly when all monetary resources to govern are denied). Yet, more objective analysis by cutting-edge groups such as Stratfor say "Hamas wants to show that the Western economic embargo against its democratically elected government will only result in more chaos in the territories and create a larger breeding ground for militias and crime families to take root. (The leading crime family in Gaza, Dugmush, is already believed to have aligned itself with al Qaeda-linked militants.) Hamas wants to be seen as a strong political force that Western governments will have to deal with if they want to prevent a larger conflagration down the line." (Stratfor's analysis is also available in GPB Supporting Data for Israel). Hamas has shown in the past it is far more able to govern than Fatah (that's why it defeated Fatah in the January 2006 elections)...and that it is capable, as Fatah is not, of enforcing a cease fire (as it did for several months while Fatah-aligned groups continually fired missiles into Israel). The bet of key analysts is on Hamas, despite international pressure against it, not Fatah.Observation: Appeasement and smart strategies: The GPB has been privileged to have many smart people comment on its observations over the past year. Currently, if you click on the "Comments" button, you'll see two comments by a frequent writer who goes by the name of "Robert of Los Angeles". In his first comment, Robert raises the point that if you are not at physical war with groups like Al Qaeda, then you are appeasing them. It is a very valid argument that many from conservative talk show hosts to center-right analysts have raised. In his second comment, Robert suggests that Radical Islamists are conducting their own "surge" and are using "a coordinated 5 prong attack that may achieve much more by guerrilla and terrorist means than direct military assault." As we at the GPB have modeled the tactics of radical Islamist groups over the past 5 years, we have found what Robert says to be true. Islamists, defined as those who seek to overthrow the existing Middle East power structure to create what some call a Caliphate, are not fighting a "war" as the US defines it...they are not engaging as Robert says in frontal attacks. Their war is one waged for hearts and minds...and control of the global political agenda. Violence or terror is clearly a tool but it is only one tool of many that include the most effective internet and media campaigns we have ever seen. So when we at the GPB suggest that the US is fighting the wrong war, we are not suggesting that the US appease its opponents. Rather, we are suggesting that the US fight the real war...the one the very smart people in bin Laden's camp are fighting, which is a multi-faceted war to win global political support. If anyone doubts that this is a war, one Radical Islamists are winning, they need only look at global public opinion polls and at who is being more effective on the international stage (see the 4 week view of the GPB) if you doubt us. Vote for all that apply OR Add your own Solution
    Current Tallies/ Rankings

    No, the US will never learn.

    I'm a Republican who read Noam Chomsky on a dare. I don't agree with most of what the guy says, but I'm starting to think he's right on some of his views of America's inanely aggressive and intrusive foreign policy. We butt in, screw things up and make things worse for us almost every time. Bush is only the worst of a long line of Presidents, Republican and Democrat, who have conducted foreign policies that hurt rather than help us. We'd be (and the world would be) much better off if we'd take about a decade off from any foreign adventures.

    6/13/2007 8:51:46 AM
    James R., Springfield, ILVOTE

    Putin's new hand

    The US and Europe seem to have failed to realize that Russia is now a global player with clout again. He really has very little that he needs to negotiate on right now. US and European dithering about human rights, Kosovo and Moldova do nothing but annoy an already miffed Russia. If the US and EU would simply acknowledge Russia's new position on the global stage, I think a lot of these hot issues would suddenly disappear.

    6/14/2007 5:40:57 AM
    Z. Klaffey, LondonVOTE

    Are all of you completely insane?

    Sorry, got that out of my system. It doesn't matter whether we are losing the war or whether we caused the war, it matter that we ARE at war. There is no appeasement, no negotiation BECAUSE first of all there is NO nation to negotiate with in facing Al Qaeda and their very raison d'etre would forbid it. So don't kid yourself about such things. And many truly THINK that you can no more trust a DEAL with Mahmoud than you could with Hitler! Did upending the South on cause a tipping to chaos and greater slavery? Did upending the Nazi cause chaos and Communism - yes it did but it was still worth it. Did upending Eastern Europe bring horror - no, though surviving Bosnians and Kosovars would disagree. You act as if standing for nothing, acting upon nothing, in fact keeping the horrible status quo (which the West DOES share blame in!!) is a GOOD THING and would have lasted anyhow. Nothing is further from the TRUTH. Are we helping the radicals get what they want? I don't think so. If there are not enough Arabs and Muslims that yearn for freedom and to use their Western educations! to help their brother, then it is a shame upon them and not on us. Too long (i.e. before Bush) have extremists been murdering and intimidating the people of the STANs, Iraq and the Levant, too long have the old generation radicals (the protocommunist PLO / PKK), the Baathist and neo-Stalinist parties, the new kids on the block the AQ and the Hezbollah -- made "secular" military oppressors and pseudo-fundamentalist oligarchys the ONLY alternative.

    6/14/2007 9:42:14 AM
    Robert of Los AngelesVOTE

    On a positive note (if you're an Islamist)

    If you actually were analysts or picked analysts who put key information together, you'd SEE something very interesting about the Islamists "surge" - a coordinated 5 prong attack that may achieve much more by guerrilla and terrorist means than direct military assault. I've questioned whether combining ISLAMISTS here makes sense as different factions have different purposes. But on this 5 or 6 prong attack on Western interests and Israel there is no doubt they're working together. 1) Hamas blitzkrieg in Gaza 2) Tripoli AQ "Fatah al Islam" - ending badly to be sure for AQ but that is to be expected of a martyrdom operation 3) Hezbollah rearming 4) Assasination campaign in Beirut continues. 5) Palestinian uprising in Lebanese camps escalate. Add a free bonus 6) PKK (Syrian supported) attacks on Turkey to destabilize Kurdistan / Iraq Tie this in with a renewed international diplomatic campaign for return of Golan Heights and you realize that Syria is making a strong move to use ALL of these Islamist factions, and wouldn't and couldn't do all of this without Iran.

    6/14/2007 11:10:16 AM
    Robert of Los AngelesVOTE

    What about Hizbullah?

    Yes - Lieberman and Bush are falling for Bin Laden's trap. But Bin Laden doesn't stand for all Islamists. What about the Shiite group Hizbullah in Lebanon? I wonder what they would have to say.

    6/14/2007 7:38:52 AM
    Charles in TorontoVOTE

    "Fall" of Gaza a huge opportunity

    With Hamas now isolated in Gaza: 1. Further isolate them.. cutoff everything possible. 2. Encourage Israel to immediately recognize the West Bank as the legitimate Palestinian State. Do the deal now, and let Hamas figure out how to survive on their own.

    6/15/2007 9:49:29 AM
    Steve Salt Lake CityVOTE

    "Fall" of Gaza a huge opportunity

    With Hamas now isolated in Gaza: 1. Further isolate them.. cutoff everything possible. 2. Encourage Israel to immediately recognize the West Bank as the legitimate Palestinian State. Do the deal now, and let Hamas figure out how to survive on their own.

    6/15/2007 9:53:17 AM
    Steve Salt Lake CityVOTE

    Thanks ...and you're right (see what a little flattery and attention will do)

    You're absolutely right that Gaza and most of the news is very bad for us and we've made many mistakes both politically and militarily. But I take solace that the battle lines are becoming clearer, no more fence sitters, and some very strange bedfellows. And while the new Israel-Fatah alliance of necessity is not the GOOD bad news of Hitler attacking Stalin throwing him into Churchill's ready embrace (because the West Bank is not the strategic lynchpin of the region)and yet it is a symbolic wonder that the next handshake between a PLO and a Zionist leader (maybe alongside Mount Moriah) will be a little warmer and a little more genuine.

    6/15/2007 9:28:54 AM
    Robert of Los Angeles

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Politics of Rage Revisited - Fascism in the Islamic World

    You want questions on how to improve relationships with the world after the end of the Bush administration. Let us presume a Democrat will prevail in 2008, this will certainly please a majority of your audience. The first question should be – How will the next President understand the temper and dynamics of the Middle East and the Islamic world?

    One answer may be to update your classic essay after 9/11 “Why do they hate us?”
    At this point both left and right misunderstand what is meant by such a title, as Ron Paul so awkwardly talked about the “elephant in the room” (reasons for Islamic anti-Americanism) to a room full of elephants (the GOP debate) – i.e., it’s a shorthand to say the Arab claims and complaints due to Western imperialism, Zionism and pre-emptive attacks are an excuse for terrorism. Nothing could further from the reality of your great summary of Middle East history where you honestly note everyone’s victories and defeats, failures and accomplishments in this region but focus on Islam’s failure to create ways to reform institutions and nations.

    Let me in my terms create a description of how I understand what is currently happening in the Islamic world. Many commentators have begun to note how Islam has not had the “Reformation” and “Enlightenment” that Christendom did which by the way took many hundreds of years of turmoil to create patterns and institutions of pluralism and democracy. While this is a powerful truth, so is the “Politics of rage”, your other title for your essay “Why they hate us”. The use of rage communally and nationally is not isolated, even now, only to Islam, and devastated Europe and thus the world a scant 60 years ago but is far from ending its reign of terror because it is a free-form metastasizing ideology latching on to many cultures and ways of thought to wreak poison and violence and reaction and war. This is has grown from how economics and culture have been altered by technology – and so began slowly in the 19th century, created most of the havoc of the 20th but has plenty of steam left especially in the developing world in the 21st.
    In the beginning was socialism. It was hoped that redistribution and worker rule over all institutions including property and business would ameliorate the growing problems of industrialism. Wherever this idealism failed, sometimes by the success of modern Western capitalism in co-opting such efforts, or the horrid dictatorships of the proletariat – Communism, or simply the malaise where no spiritual values or ideals really exist where economics and politics were supreme, the result was nihilism. And nihilism leads of course to destructive behavior, more often than not, prompted by new creatures with powerful rhetoric, using the rage of the masses for their own purposes – it’s the same story really from the streets of the failing Weimar Republic, to Mao’s Red Guard, to Khomeini’s Revolution.
    But what follows is critical – amorphous rage does not stay unpurposeful, fomenting endless chaos – it forms into what we understand as fascism. Fascism is called right wing – and deservedly so for several reasons but ultimately misleading. It is right wing because it uses jingoistic rhetoric (nationalistic or in the Middle East, sometimes at least deceptively Pan-Arabic) and religious fervor to rally. It is right wing because with socialism discredited and classical liberalism devalued, debased, deformed, the spectrum shifts to the right. But ultimately, men are using this nationalism and religion to gain or hold power and consolidate it by expanding the state and merging religious and other cultural institutions with it. We saw that with Nazis, subverting the churches of Germany, co-opting them in a national patriotic church and oppressing those who protested. Most historians do not see Nazism to have been representing any legitimate form of Christendom when it exalted pagan values, but it still used a call for the return of the Holy Roman Empire in a 1000 year Reich (Millennialism as political ideology). Further, fascism uses militarism in fascinating, seemingly contradictory ways – to increase the power of the state internally and of course to project and threaten abroad, but also taps the energy and radicalism of youth (an eternal “revolution”) to threaten and devalue any countervailing institutions in society – a very effective way to minimize any potential enemies not only political but simply cultural.

    What does this mean for the world? There is the impact of communist states and post communist states morphing into fascism. Some of these regimes are almost farcical and appear to be harmless anachronisms if not for the way people suffer under them. China is destined for great power and so its “capital” driven economic expansion is what we see and we underplay the most “quiet” fascist government ever. There is no anti-Western rage of times past and we hope that prosperity and global access will subvert the contradictions of a business-oriented classless society led by a totalitarian party apparatus.

    But there is no such quiet, no such productive alternatives to nihilist and /or fundamentalist rage in the Middle East and wherever radical Islamist thought can gain a foothold in Muslim populations. That is the nature of what has come to be called Islamo-fascism and we can thank a old-time leftist journalist Oriana Fallaci for popularizing the term in the interval where the West apologized for talking about a “crusade” against jihads and euphemizing a strategy against a war on terror, when terror is a tactic, not an ideology, certainly not a nation or power under itself. So if we question using the term “Islamic fascism”, we could change it to Iranian fascism, or Al Qaeda fundamentalist-inspired fascism, but we need to call it what it is.

    But politicians and all Americans should know how Islam differs from its twisted image of Islamic fundamentalism, though as you said in your essay the practice and institutions of Islam like Christendom have been contradictory over history. Islam is an egalitarian philosophy but created sprawling empires, that were often echoes of past glories recreated for Islam (e.g. the North African and Central Asian caliphates were like the Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar of old, and the most elaborate and corrupt empire, the Ottoman, had taken possession of the Christian regime whose name defines convoluted politics, the Byzantine.). Islam was created as a protest movement against tribalism, slavery and treatment of women as chattel. Yet singularly has failed to stamp out these oppressions, often spreading it instead of controlling it because of inconsistent theology due to vague traditions of hadith, with little spirit of reformation for clerics to represent the umma to meet the needs of changing society but plenty use of sunna in facile interpretation to justify sultanates and slavery.

    But like many in the West, many worked through the ages, in empires and in village to improve culture and society, the lot of their fellow Muslim. And being Muslim is an important thing, a duty to God and to your fellow man, and a belief that God will judge the unjust, even those who claim they are acting in the lights of religious belief. In this, Muslims, both devout and secular, are not much different from Christians, both pious and nominal, in cherishing eternal values and justice.

    But what has fascist ideology as practiced within the Islamic world wrought, even in the past 30 years?

    Nationalistic and Pan Islamic regimes have been seen as emperors with no clothes, and yet try to maintain control over fundamentalism – yet these are still the Weimar Republics of the Middle East, weak, sometimes unstable or alternatively rigid and unchanging, some subject to ethnic tensions that could escalate centrifugally. Iran is was the new face of Islamic revolution. Saddam’s Iraq was ever the old way of neo-Stalinist application of socialism with a Muslim face. We see the old versus the new (socialist versus the Islamofascist) in the generational wave of discord within the Palestinian movement. We see it in Kaddafi stepping away from his old ways because he was the mentor of the Red terrorists from PLO to Baader Meinhof to IRA but never a Wahhabist Islamic radicals.

    Mahmoud Ahmadenijad is taking the Islamic revolution to a new fascist level, seemingly wanting to take pages from Hitler’s playbook in most frightening ways. Denying the Holocaust, while seeking a new destruction of Israel quite explicitly, and seeking to usher in a millenial reign, a Holy Empire (starring the 12th imam as well as Jesus) is only one avenue. He clearly wants to antagonize and shock while simultaneously weakening worldwide resolve to protest. The Easter “gift” of British sailors “catch and release” is illuminating. I wonder if Germany did something similar in the 1930s. Most of the recent Western “spies” are those working for liberal causes (Wilson Institute, Soros Open Society) for peace and reconciliation. Did Hitler play this same game with academics from the West, maybe Mussolini did?

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    Xena Liz, Cindy and Miss USA - symbols of the evil Empire??

    We have to take our victories where we can get them in the face of bizarre hostility for a 100 years of saving the world. Our Miss USA takes a tumble and gets booed and yet shows some class before the skeptical world. Same class in the face of disdain by the new warrior princess, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who did achieve unconditional victory over Rosie. Watch out, Joy Behar! Meanwhile our favorite Gold Star mom, Cindy, gets in a snit with the waffling Democrats and declares her cause over. And speaking of waffling, it is a pretty picture when we neocons can now come to the defense of none other than Jolting Joe Biden for a yes vote on Iraq funding.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Why Democrats are More Imperialistic than Neo-cons. REALLY!

    In the Middle East, the BIG short term story is the Democrats folding on the withdrawal timelines. The medium term story is how Lebanon, Pakistan and other Muslim nations' crises will take prominence. But one perhaps small long term impact is the ironic shift that peace-loving Democrats are at heart more imperialistic than Republican Neo-Cons. HUH?!!

    One recent story is that the Democratically controlled Congress (but in a huge bipartisan consensus!) advocates the U.S. suing OPEC for the high price of oil. Now this huge cartel does control the international pricing of crude through its "managing" of supply and demand, but this has never been the subject of international trade sanctions. Even though impractical in the highest and probably not actionable under international law and certainly not enforceable economically, this does not stop Congressional initiative on this issue. Now classically, a tax or claim on a foreign power imposed unilaterally is defined as "tribute" owed. A greater power able to enforce such judgment of tribute on lesser powers is a primary definition of empire. And no doubt we could enforce this judgment somehow but only militarily to intimidate governments and / or their leaders to do our bidding. How many McDonalds we have around the world or even how many arms we deploy, sell or give away does not make empire, it is the imposition of our sovereignty on others and a tax or tribute is such an imperial measure.

    But a second definition of empire would be the creation of offices such as satraps and viceroys for the subject nations or regions that would report and be accountable to the imperial power. Now in the setting of benchmarks and deadlines and schedules for the Iraqi parliament, again, there is the inherent structure of empire. Now the Iraqi government should not only be accountable to their own people for success or failure, but accountable to us in so far as their actions help or impede our goals of peace and defeat of terrorists in the region. We of course have the option of withdrawing our support and ending our mission there if reasonable prospects do not exist, if continuation actually contributes to a situation antithetical to our interests (i.e, Iraq or major parts of it irretrievably capitulate to Iranian and / or Al Qaeda agendas).

    But to in advance impose "benchmarks" as key determinants, ultimatums in fact and de jure on WHEN a foreign legislature meets and takes action (i.e., Iraqi parliament should not adjourn for any summer recess, at least with required work undone) and HOW they take actions on measures internal to their government (i.e. Oil distribution law and the "softening" of De-baathification measures) to meet our specifications is strictly speaking, imperialism. (I could say more on the folly of soft-pedaling the Baath party issue when it is still anathema to have been a Nazi party member, and it is clear that a tougher stand against former Communist party membership, or at least KGB rank, by Russia at the Fall might have forestalled the rise of Putin and his ilk).

    Of course again because of the exigency of Iraq forming a strong economic and govermental union quickly against sectarian extremism there may be a need for such action. But will we, or should we do the same in specifying Lebanese army actions this May against the AQ threat or when (not if but when) Pakistan's new government takes over from Musharraf, what should we impose on them? I'm not talking about sanctions or threats or preemptive actions on perceived enemies, that is warfare and diplomacy, I am talking the dimunition of sovereignty of our allies, that is imperialism.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Iowa dreaming: Vilsack thinks cloning is here and curing people

    This is what I emailed Iowa's Governor and the Iowa newspapers:

    Has Governor Vilsack missed the news from Korea regarding the Hwang cloning scandal?!!

    In one paragraph, you state
    "One of the greatest gifts God gives to children is a vivid imagination"

    Later you say that " At the time we never dreamt that new treatments dependent upon such transplants would be developed so quickly. Well, they have been, and as a result we should revisit our ban on nuclear cell transplants" is, as of now, back to daydreams, a figment of you or your staff's imagination.

    Science was never close to treatments based on SCNT / Cloning and with the Korean scandal, the effort is back to "square one" even among diehard proponents. Don't make the same mistake that we have in California believing a phony bill of goods. Put your research priorities on adult stem cell, cord blood and bone marrow transplants.

    see: Iowa State of the State

    hat tip:
    wesley smith blog

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Is a piece of paper worth the deaths in Iraq?

    Text of Iraq constituion above - NY Times free registration may be required.

    Was it worth it? If the constitution sticks, will the war be worth it? Is Saddam is executed, will it be worth it?

    Well, ask yourself was Nuremberg worth the fuss we made over conquering the Nazis?
    Was putting in a government and a new constitution in half of Germany worth the effort?

    Actually, in my mind, a fight against tyranny, once engaged, is almost always worth it. To me, any one who died in the fight against totalitarianism, from Gulag to China to Vietnam, whether the battle was ultimately won, died not in vain. Just a thought!

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    Gerald Plessner - Gays, Gaza and a Brave New World

    Last week (Aug 10), Gerald Plessner advises his mother would approve of gay marriage. No one has more right than a son to speak for his departed mother. Actually he says she 'says' “homosexuals were some of the nicest people I knew.” I agree and straights can be more mean-spirited - as well as spiritually “mean” (in the old sense). In fact the religious right is instructed to believe that we are ALL sinners. So what’s the problem? As his mother 'said': "Haven't they been pushed around enough?" Wouldn’t his mother have known marriage as a bond both spiritual and physical resulting in Gerald. By careful omission, he doesn’t tell his “blessed mother” that family is being redefined to suit a diversity of rights.

    Now (Aug 17) he gets sillier about a concern also close to his heart. But I don’t know Plessner, a former intelligence analyst, can be so naïve. He expresses not only pleasant platitudes but once again blaming religion as a cause for social disruption. Yes, Ariel Sharon has done the practical thing but it is clear it was also unilateral and not part of any negotiations. There is no Sharon and Abbas as there was Begin and Sadat. There will be no peace prize for razing a few thousand homes unless the Palestinians freely want peace. Yes, they must be "tired of war and poverty" brought on by their oppressors (corrupt and cruel) - Arafat and Hamas! I think it is Plessner’s understanding that if passions of faith and ancient traditions of kinship and ethnicity disappeared that peace would reign, needing only a few UN blue helmets to dispatch any remaining discontents with happy words and happy gas. Such was the hope of utopia found in Huxley’s Brave New World. No family, no faith but tolerance and openness. Yet this is not reality and I would rather live in a world where faith and commitments to family and nation cause discontent than one without what gives purpose to life.

    Navy Ships in Blue Cities? They don't want them

    Stockton (most likely much Redder than Blue San Francisco) will most certainly get the USS Iowa to sail up the river to its final resting place.

    Box of Docs Box 17 JGR DOJ Daily Reports 6

    I received the above box as an assignment from Duane, Radioblogger and Hugh Hewitt’s right hand man, via an e-mail late Saturday night, August 20, 2005

    This box, 17 JGR DOJ Daily Report 6, contains 60 pages. I cannot find much of interest but will try to give you a thorough report.

    After all, this is a “busman’s holiday” for me as a paralegal, though I am more on the database side of litigation discovery analysis.

    To summarize, again there are 60 pages and all documents are dated November and early December 1984. There are 2 inserts called “withdrawal sheets” which remove info on privacy grounds. There is a 3 page letter from DOJ to HUD. I assume the next 1 page is a handwritten note from John Roberts. If so, it is the only thing actually authored by him. All the correspondence is being sent to him and there is no discernable way to knowing if he had any role in the documents. But there do not seem to be any “smoking guns” on these issues. Only the cryptic nature of his handwritten comments on page 6 provide any amusement to me.

    Anyhow, I need to continue the summary. There are 10 pages of DOJ press releases on tax shelters and antitrust inaction on acquisition of a Pabst brewery. There are 8 pages regarding Chicago Milwaukee St Paul and Pacific Railroad’s demise leading to some Right of way issues that concern creditors’ claims, timber harvesting, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The creditors’ it seems have applied to Senator Symms and McClure, so there is political pressure to settle though the land would seem to revert totally to federal rights. The following 6 pages are regarding the rights of certain Haitians to due process in trying to avoid deportation where the case has been granted Supreme Court cert. Then there is a 30 page letter in the form of a “brief” from DOJ to House Judiciary Chair Rodino which opposes bills to change contempt of Congress and Independent Counsel laws to allow criminal action where the Executive Branch claims “executive privilege”.

    Again, even if someone finds objectionable stands in the remarks or actions in the documents (which is very little to find beside the vehemence of the constitutionality of “executive privilege” and the expression of being sensitive to congressional relations “ the give and take of the political world”), there is no evidence from these pages that Roberts was responsible for their writing or the opinions expressed coincided with his views, personal or professional.

    Back to the handwritten page, page 6. It is entitled “Tuesday staff”
    1st para – “ pocket veto case” ( no reference in box to such a case), then “invited (illegible) office (s)” to meeting. “No quick decision needed” yet “need to file soon to get S. Ct (supreme Court) decision this term.” “Give up on (illegible) to get decision?”

    2nd para – “protective(?) notice of appeal”. “Do plan to appeal” (due to illegibility can’t hazard a guess on the case)

    3rd para –“FFF” (Ah, hah Fred F. Fielding) concern on HUD matter... DAG & AG (Deputy and Atty General) share concern and will try to keep it from becoming a flap”
    (The only HUD case here is the discrimination in government housing in East Texas. Did it ever become a “flap” in the Reagan Administration (a google search does show East Texas HUD has been a problem over many years!!)

    4th para – “Reagan photo – hold”

    Well, not much fun here!!!

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    Back to the future

    Seriously, if you want to make a difference with human cells now, consider

    Blood donation - The Red Cross is desperate this time of year - Red Cross

    Register as a Bone Marrow Donor - http://www.marrow.org/

    Are you signed up as an organ donor - http://www.donatelifecalifornia.org/
    Donate life

    (beyond the DMV pink dot - and you've done that, right?)


    Check out where progressive thought is on bioethics :

    James Hughes, bioethics professor on transhumanism
    Change surfer

    Peter Singer, Princeton chair of bioethics,
    Singer - Reason Magazine

    Also specifically on the stem cell situation:

    "Caution: this is right wing extremism":

    versus the liberal Slate's reasoned approach:
    Embrace the slippery slope

    Finally, my favorite blog for these issues - Called "Second Hand Smoke" but no, it doesn't discuss ETS but ESCR, it's bioethics according to Wesley Smith.


    - And yes, comments within it by Robert B are from me

    Brave New World Part I

    I felt I had to read Brave New World for my Bioethics class coming up this fall at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena and my priority interest in this topic.

    It is a quick read and very enjoyable in a very disturbing way. I had never read it before, mainly because I thought it would be repetitive of the likes of Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm and 1984. In some ways, it is of course, but then it is really not, and not just because of the test tube eugenics element.

    The fundamental difference is that the first 3 books I mention, mainly focus on fears of the totalitarian states of Communism and that was represented in reality by Soviet Russia and Red China. Now the inner workings of these states turn truth on its head but as to its ideology and its need for a worker ethic, communism actually deals strictly in moral absolutism according to Marxism and most often becomes as puritanical as any possible theocracy in all areas of life.

    Now Huxley's premise in Brave New World is that after apocalyptic wars, there is a convergence of regimes, a coming together based on an economy of high consumer wants, total employment, and assured social stability (Aside: China is perhaps at the vanguard of such a hybrid society - still totalitarian in nature but allowing economic "freedoms" to boost both consumption and export. A sort of neo-fascism of "opportunity" that creates a dynamic economy that communism has notoriously been unable to achieve previously.)

    Although the test tube babies are what we focus on as we consider the consequences of genetic manipulation, Huxley’s prophetic words were basically his effective way of engendering such a society. If we have no father and mother, then the concept of family is simply gone, and the very idea of such relationships becomes obscenity. A fake religion (worshipping our Ford!!) is created to promote communal activity (both spiritual and otherwise - orgy-porgy) while eliminating real personal faith in a Creator God or any eternal principles at all.

    A person's value cannot be left individual, and so the primacy of "society" is encouraged in community, work, and consumer settings. But beyond that, living for pleasure is the highest value (as long as you put in your 8 hours) not any greater purpose for yourself or others, and if that gets tiresome, there is "Soma" to sedate you and potions to purge your need for passion, commitment, or pregnancy (Need I mention the availability of paxil and prozac and contraceptives).

    Anyway, instant gratification (of physical needs) and moral relativism are strangely enough the bedrock principles of the Brave New World's social stability. And unlike the double-speak of "black is white" of the other aforementioned books, when one of the "world directors" admits to a world where love is bad, and apathy is good, he is telling the truth.

    Gratify their immediate desires, make them forget commitments and purpose, and you're halfway to a content society. Eliminate the eternals of family and faith, and celebrate a diverse but ordered society (pre-ordained genetically) and you will have only some little need of even a police force that will quiet any situation with happy words and happy gas. Today's modern society often mirrors such priorities - our preoccupation with material needs and convenient and "open" relationships, and our intolerance of the intolerant fundamentalist faiths that would interfere with personal freedoms and often foment social discontent at all levels. Lip service is still paid to family, but the focus is indeed "that it takes a village" and that "village" should have a progressive ethic of openness with economic and personal freedoms under a guiding compassionate hand of social planning.

    Well such are my thoughts on how it is the "moral relativism" of a society that will drive the need for uses of technology including the medical and biological advances coming upon us. I will speak more to Huxley's prophesies of this eugenic "utopia" later.