Thursday, November 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

What’s up with blogrolling? It seems like it is only acknowledging only part of the Blogosphere. Despite a few attempts at a direct ping, it still thinks I haven’t updated since Saturday.


Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (2)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Colombia’s Uribe threatens “paras” – Yahoo! News:

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Thursday ordered an investigation of right-wing militia leaders suspected of killing two fellow paramilitaries this month and threatened to extradite them to the United States.

The move came as Uribe, a close friend of Washington, faced a political crisis after some lawmakers allied to him were arrested for being involved with the illegal militias, who for many years collaborated with some sectors of the army to fight Marxist rebels.


Files found in a laptop computer seized from Jorge 40 show how he pretended to disband more fighters than he actually did while secretly keeping up his life of extortion and murder. The computer contains evidence of long-suspected links between paramilitaries and public officials.

Three members of Uribe’s congressional coalition have been arrested in the “para-political” scandal. One is accused of being involved in a paramilitary massacre of peasants.

Six other members of Congress, all from Uribe-friendly parties, were in called for questioning by Colombia’s Supreme court on Tuesday. Among the six is Senator Alvaro Araujo, brother of Foreign Minister Maria Consuelo Araujo, who has refused to bend to opposition demands that she resign.

First elected in 2024 after promising to smash the Marxist insurgency, Uribe was reelected in May. He rejects charges by human rights groups of leniency toward the paramilitaries.

Paramilitary groups, or “paras” as they are sometimes referred to, are theoretically self-defense groups formed to protect landowners from Marxist guerrillas.  In truth they are perhaps the single most violence set of actors in contemporary Colombia and while it is true that the combat groups like the FARC it is also true that their main motivations tend to be linked to the drug trade, not self-defense.  Indeed, much of the fighting with the FARC has been over drugs. 

In general they are representative of the general problems of violence in Colombia and the failure of the state to exert full control over its own territory

Uribe has frequently been accused of favoring, if not allying himself with, paramilitary groups.  He has had success in getting some of them to demobilize, but has been criticized for allowing light sentences to be used as an incentive to that demobilization–not to mention that it is always questionable as to exactly how much real demobilization has taken place (as the laptop records indicated about note).  Additionally, there have been serious accusations of paras used intimidation to manipulate who runs in elections, hence influencing directly who gets elected.  Hence, the scandal noted above involving members of congress.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor

Yes, light blogging from me today (and this week in general, I guess). It is the end of the semester, and hence there are multiple pulls on my time. Although today it has been about struggling through a chapter of my book on Colombia.

At any rate, a brief break to the internets led me here: Understanding Battlestar Galactica.

Devotees of the show might find it interesting.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (3)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: Iowa Democrat launches 2024 White House bid

Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa on Thursday launched an underdog bid for the White House, promising to restore America’s sense of community and optimism as he became the first Democrat to declare for the 2024 race.


“I am running for president to replace the anxiety of today with the hope of tomorrow and to guarantee every American their birthright — opportunity,” he said.

And so it begins.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (1)|
By Steven L. Taylor

…although not especially surprising. \

Via WaPo: Democrats Reject Key 9/11 Panel Suggestion –

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2024.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

There can be no doubt that we have some serious problems with our intelligence apparatus.  They failed to predict 9/11 and assertions of “slam dunks” led to serious problems in Iraq.  Further, the war on terror is as much a war based on intelligence gathering as it is anything else.

Take those sobering facts and add the fact that we, as Americans, need a Congress (regardless of partisan makeup) that is serious about keeping the executive branch in check in this very shadowy area of public policy.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (1)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Bush Proclaims Support for Iraqi Premier

President Bush today proclaimed Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki “the right guy for Iraq,” and said the two had agreed to speed the turnover of security responsibility from American to Iraqi forces.


“I’ve been able to watch a leader emerge,” the president said, describing the threats Mr. Maliki said he had received since becoming prime minister, including shells being fired at his house.

The president added, “You can’t lead unless you’ve got courage. He’s got courage and he’s shown courage over the last six months.”

I must confess, whenever Bush makes such pronouncements based primarily on a personal meeting, my mind always goes back to his statements about looking into Putin’s heart. Since that assessment was a tad off the mark, I have to wonder about Bush’s capacity to make these judgments.

Having said that, I am not sure that the President has much in the way of options here. While it is highly questionable that Maliki is, indeed, “the right guy” he is the one who the process legally placed in that slot and it isn’t as if there are a lot of other options at the moment. Not to mention we already put pressure to replace his predecessor.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (4)|
Wednesday, November 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Frist abandons 2024 presidential bid:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist renounced a bid for the White House in 2024 on Wednesday, an early dropout from the most wide-open presidential race in decades.

Hardly a surprise.  Indeed, I’ve known he was out for well over a year.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (1)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Eugene Volokh has a piece at NRO that takes on Prager’s column (noted in my previous post): Eugene Volokh on Constitution & Oaths on National Review Online. In the piece he goes even further into the religious test issues I raised and reminds us that Quakers refuse to swear oaths on the Bible:

What’s more, the Constitution itself expressly recognizes the oath as a religious act that some may have religious compunctions about performing. The religious-test clause is actually part of a longer sentence: “The Senators and Representatives … [and other state and federal officials] shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required ….” The option of giving an affirmation rather than oath reflects the judgment — an early multiculturalist judgment — in favor of accommodating members of some denominations (such as Quakers) who read the Bible as generally prohibiting the swearing of oaths.

The affirmation option was thus one tool to make sure that the law didn’t exclude people of certain religious groups from office, but rather let them retain their religious culture while participating in American civic life. The religious-test clause was another tool. The Constitution itself — a pretty important part of the “value system underl[ying] American civilization” — expressly makes clear that elected officials need not take oaths of office with their hands on any book.

So the Constitution thus already expressly authorizes people not to swear at all, but to affirm, without reference to God or to a sacred work. Atheists and agnostics are thus protected, as well as members of certain Christian groups. Why would Muslims and others not be equally protected from having to perform a religious ritual that expressly invokes a religion in which they do not believe? Under the Constitution, all of them “are incapable of taking an oath on that book,” whether because they are Quakers, atheists, agnostics, or Muslims. Yet all remain entirely free to “serve in Congress.”

He also makes the following amusing (or at least I thought so) point:

Nixon, also a Quaker, did swear, apparently on two Bibles. This didn’t seem to help.


h/t: Hot Air

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (2)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Townhall comes a remarkable column by Dennis Prager: America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on. In the piece he takes to task the fact that Representative-elect Ellison (D-MN) wants to use a Koran in his swearing-in ceremony:

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization


When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble.

First, surely Prager does not think that Ellison using the Koran is more damaging than the 9-11 attacks. That is perhaps the worst hyperbole I have read in some time.

Second, it is odd that Prager should be having such a negative reaction to the idea of a Muslim member of Congress. Aren’t we currently fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at least partially predicated on the notion that the Muslim faith and democracy are compatible? Surely we should be pleased that someone of that faith is able to successfully participate in our own democratic system.

Third, the notion that there is some requirement that all persons serving in the US government all take their oath of office on the Christian Bible is simply incorrect. We can start with the following from Article VI of the US Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

In the same paragraph that mentions the oath of office we find the statement that there be no religious test for holding office in the federal government of the United States. Surely it is obvious on its face that requiring the usage of a particular holy book would fall in that category (not to mention the 1st Amendment). More to the point, there is no mention whatsoever in that clause about process (like the usage of any book). So Prager is on thin ice to insist that there is some deep principle being violated here.

The federal code has the following on the oath of office, and it does not mention the usage of books: US CODE: Title 5,3331. Oath of office

§ 3331. Oath of office

An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” This section does not affect other oaths required by law.

Again: nothing about books.

Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, he is simply wrong to state that all of our elected officials have all used the Bible in their swearing in ceremonies. The Minnesota Monitor has some examples of officials who have used other religious texts in their swearing-ins. Also, Barbara O’Brien points to this list of which texts were used by Presidents in their swearing-in ceremonies. Note that there are a few (like Teddy Roosevelt) who did not use a Bible. LBJ used a missal, or Catholic prayer book.

As such, Prager is factually incorrect in the central thesis of his column.

And ultimately what could be more American than being allowed to decide what texts and beliefs one holds sacred and yet doing so in the context of democratic government and shared respect for the choices the other elected members of Congress wish to make? This is a key example of assimilation, not a case of the opposite.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (5)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via WaPo: Powerful Shiite Bloc Boycotts Iraqi Government

A bloc of Iraqi lawmakers and cabinet ministers allied with militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr launched a boycott of their government duties Wednesday to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to attend a summit in Jordan with President Bush.

“We announce the suspension of our participation in government and parliament,” said Nasar al-Rubaie, the leader of Sadr’s parliamentary bloc. “We gave a promise last Friday that we will suspend our participation if the Prime Minister met with Bush and today [Wednesday] we are doing it as a Sadrist bloc.”

I suppose it begs the question of whether there was any actual governing going on anyway, this raising the question of whether there is much in the way of practical manifestations of this move. Certainly the parliament seems to have been inert of late. It is more difficult to know the degree to which the ministries are actually functional.

It is noteworthy that the Sadr bloc has not actually withdrawn from the government:

But Rubaie cautioned that their action did not mean the officials were pulling out of the government, which would all but guarantee the collapse of Iraq’s unity government.

“The suspension does not mean our withdrawal from the political process,” said Rubaie. He added the Sadr bloc would meet in coming days to discuss how long members would remain out of the government.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (1)|
Next Page »

blog advertising is good for you

Visitors Since 2/15/03

Wikio - Top of the Blogs - Politics



Powered by WordPress