Monday, April 28, 2008

A Conversation

Back in my senior year at Colgate I took a Senior level seminar, Philosophy and Faith. Much of the material was centered on Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology and other such theologies. I have to admit, for someone coming from the Orthodox Christian tradition the content was tough for me to embrace. To this day, I believe that the focus of these theologies stray from the"seek ye first the Kingdom" guidance we are given in Matthew. That being said however, my viewpoint was formed growing up white in what would have to described as a "privileged" upbringing. In A Jeremiad for the Reverend Jeremiah I commented on the great disservice rendered to the public by our Media, when discourse is limited to 20-30 second sound bites that lack context and are continually repeated to provoke emotional responses from the audience.

Compare the handling of the Rev Jeremiah Wright story by our major news organizations with the way Bill Moyers conducted his interview with the Reverend last week. I have had several people comment to me recently about how upset they are by the Wright issue and how this somehow reflects poorly on Barrack Obama. It's pretty obvious that there is so much more to Reverend Wright than can be gathered in those 20 second sound -bites. Watch and listen to the interview.

Here's the other sad thing--- the almost total literary and biblical ignorance of the population. I wonder how many people are even vaguely familiar with what Wright is referring to. Here's a little help:

Psalm 137 (Greek Numbering 136)

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. "Tear it down," they cried, "tear it down to its foundations!"
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy are those who repay you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy are those who seize your infants and dash them against the rocks.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Heart of the Matter

Once again I have to point to Juan Cole. In one simple paragraph he points out the futility of the matter. I'm willing to bet that 99% of American's wouldn't be able tell who is affiliated with whom in Iraq. Who exactly are we fighting there? Who is our enemy? Is it Alqaeda or the Mahdi army? The sad answer is that we just don't know.So we will continue to spill blood and treasury for what exactly? I'm still looking for an answer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

McCain, the Retired Military "Analysts" and the Myth of al-Qaeda in Iraq
I am quoted in this NYT piece today on John McCain's allegations that the US is fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq and that there is a danger of "al-Qaeda" taking over the country if the US leaves.Those allegations don't make any sense. McCain contradicts himself because he sometimes warns that the Shiites or Iran will take over Iraq. He doesn't seem to realize that the US presided over the ascension to power in Iraq of pro-Iranian Shiite parties like Nuri al-Maliki's Islamic Mission Party and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. So which is it? There is a danger that pro-Iranian Shiites will take over (which is anyway what we have engineered) or that al-Qaeda will? It is not as if they can coexist. Since the Shiites are 60 percent and by now well armed and trained, and since the Sunni Arabs are only 17 percent of the population and since only about 1 percent of them perhaps supports Salafi radicalism--how can the latter hope to take over?Even if McCain only means, as his campaign manager tried to suggest, that "al-Qaeda" could take over the Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, that doesn't make any sense either (McCain has actually alleged that al-Qaeda would take over the whole country.) The Salafi radicals have lost in al-Anbar Province. Diyala Province, one of the other three predominantly Sunni areas, is ruled by pro-Iranian Shiites. That leaves Salahuddin and Ninevah Provinces. Among the major military forces in Ninevah is the Kurdish Peshmerga, some of them integrated e.g. into the Mosul police force. Hint: The Kurds don't like "al-Qaeda", i.e. Salafi radicalism. Jalal Talabani is a socialist.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Suicide Bombings

This Robin Wright piece is courtesy of Juan Cole:

Robin Wright at WaPo writes that "Suicide bombers conducted 658 attacks around the world last year, including 542 in US-occupied Afghanistan and Iraq . . ."
deeper in the article is this bit of information:

" Of 1,840 incidents in the past 25 years, more than 86 percent have occurred since 2001, and the highest annual numbers have occurred in the past four years. The sources who provided the data to The Washington Post asked that they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the tallies.
The data show more than 920 suicide bombings in Iraq and more than 260 in Afghanistan, including some that killed scores of U.S. troops. All occurred after the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
The exact number of U.S. casualties from the bombs in Iraq is classified "because it might show the effectiveness of the enemy's weapon," said Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. spokesman in Iraq. "They won't even give the number to me."
More than 3,420 Americans have died in at least 10 major suicide bombing incidents, beginning with the embassy bombing in Beirut, which killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, and injured more than 100. The bombing of the
U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut six months later killed 241 and still ranks as the largest loss of American military life in a single incident since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

We don't hear much of anything about any of this amongst all talk of "keeping us safe." Tell me, why are we in Iraq, I forgot.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Revisit South of the Border

A follow up to my March 9 post concerning Pemex and the Mexicamn energy situation courtesy of Dan Denning of the Daily Reckoning.

Pemex better start exploring for more oil in the Gulf of Mexico or its going to pump out all its reserves in less than ten years. Mexican President Felipe Calderon went on national television last night in Mexico and told his countrymen (in Spanish, we presume), "We have to act now because we're running out of time and out of oil."........

The trouble is that Mexico's government has been using the state oil company, Pemex, like a cash machine that never runs out. Pemex contributes 40% of the total tax revenues of Mexico's Federal Government. It's a resource of the people, for the people, and by geology. But you cannot print oil on a printing press. There is no such thing as "just in time" energy resources.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Jeremiad for the Reverend Jeremiah

By now we've all seen the 20-30 second loops of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright delivering pointed words in what could be termed "fire and brimstone" homilies. How dare he. We've seen these 30 second pieces played over and over and over again. I don't know Reverend Wright and to be honest I haven't heard or read the complete text of any of the sermons being highlighted. I don't know the context of these homilies. Frankly I just can't get all that worked up about this.

Some say that the Reverend was damning America.How could he and how could Obama just sit there.and not leave the church. Has anyone read the Book of Isaiah or Jeremiah anytime in the recent past. It might be a good idea. It's probably where the word jeremiad came from and that is exactly what the Reverend was delivering:

jer·e·mi·ad : a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also : a cautionary or angry harangue

A search on You Tube for "Jeremiah Wright" gives 1600+ results sorted by relevancy. It's amazing that on the first page not one of the first 20 results provides an unfiltered, unedited video of Wright's homiletics. My point here is not to necessarily defend Wright but simply to put this "issue" into a little context. I have follow up post coming related to Martin Luther King Jr. Imagine the press coverage that he would have today if he ended up delivering the sermon he was working on for upcoming Sunday the week he died. It was entitled, "Why America May Go to Hell"