Sephardic Jews

Juan Cole has a great link today to an article by a lady named Ella Habiba Shohat who is an Iraqi, an Arab, and a Jew.

I like to read how the three main religions, Christianity, Muslim and Jew have lived alongside each other over the centuries and this is a particularily interesting article. I had never realized how the creation of Israel and the influx of westernized Jews affected the original Jewish people in the middle east. You think the European Jews feel out of place after landing in the middle of Islamic territory, what about the other Jews who had gotten along pretty well in the area for centuries only to have that all screwed up by the unpopular appearance of their cousins?

What a crazy world we live in, somebody's always gettin' the shaft.


Our government is just plain nuts

Inagurals should be outlawed.

As everyone is getting ready for the big Bush inaugural hoe-down, parade performers are being ordered not to look directly at the president, and the people of Washington DC have been wondering why they have to spend their money on all that extra security for Bush's party. A fitting question. If the president wanted to have a party in your home town, would you want to pay for any of it?

Well rest assured dear citizens of Washington DC, the federal government has a solution. DC is to use homeland security funds to pay for it's costs during the inauguration. Yep, that money that is supposed to be spent keeping citizens safe will instead be spent on Bush's inauguration. Maybe it will go to pay snipers to take out any parade performers who dare look upon der president.


I'm a bit confused about this whole Iraqi election thing

The elections in Iraq are coming up fast, just 18 days away now. One might think that this is some monumental turning point in Iraqs future until one takes a closer look at this thing called the elections.

Remember, this isn't like a presidential election where they vote on two guys, this is an election of the National Assembly which will be responsible for drafting a constitution. Idiots Some people call this Iraqs first voting experience and with alligator tears in their eyes get all sentimental talking about how great it is to see these backward people practice the grand art of voting for the first time. But people who make grand statements like that are usually fools who can't be bothered to know what they're talking about.

Before the war Iraq already had a 250 member National Assembly which was elected via parliamentary elections. The only real kink was that candidates were vetted by a government appointed election commission thus Baathists generally won about 70% of all the seats by loading the elections with people who professed loyalty to the Baathist Revolution. The rest was usually won by Baathist allies or independents.

Of course, I assume that the Baathists also counted the vote so the vote was never transparently honest (probably won't be now either) but the fact is that voting is not anything new to Iraq. (Interestingly, women usually fared about as well if not better in Iraq's National Assembly elections as they do here in the United States. For example, 33 women were elected to the 250 person Assembly in Iraq in 1984 whereas only 24 women served in the 435 member U.S. House of Representatives during the whole decade of the 80s.)

We really haven't created a new system for the Iraqis, we've only given the same system without Baathists. This is good, of course, but since Baathists are no longer around to load the elections with their own people, one might wonder what kind of people are running for election this year.

The simple fact is this: No one knows. None of the candidates will publicize their name for fear of assassination.

Juan Cole has a list of Iraqi political parties and how many people each has registered to run in the elections. If my shell script did the math correctly, the list adds up to 7734 people running for office in Iraq on Jan 30. Yet the people of Iraq don't know any of their names or what they stand for or what their goals and ideas are or anything. They just know that these unknown people are supposed to form a new Constitution for Iraq. How do you choose who you want as leader from a list of anonymous people?

Dear voter, since we have ridded ourselves of corrupt Baathists, we are proud to hold fair and honest elections for a change. Please pick which one truly represents you from this list:


Thank you for voting!


Speaking of stupid quotes

"Get some devastation in the back."

That was spoken by billionaire senator Bill Frist (sorry to say this twerp is from Tennessee) as he was having his photo taken in tsunami striken Sri-Lanka by an AP photographer


I was out of town for a few days and it looks not much happened while I was gone, unless of course you live in Iraq and your house was accidentally bombed.

If you don't want to read the story I'll tell ya: The military hit the wrong target in Iraq and wiped out a house that was in the vicinity of their intended target.

Ok, that stuff happens. It's not good, but it happens. If you wanna bomb a populace into submission you gotta break a few eggs I suppose.

But what bugs me is that the pentagram.. er, pentagon just had to go and make it worse by saying that the military "deeply regrets the loss of possibly innocent lives."

Possibly innocent lives? That's like going to a funeral and going up to the crying widow and saying "I'm deeply sorry that your husband is probably in hell." Don't they think the Iraqis are already mad enough without us rubbing their faces in it?

"Yeah we're really sorry about blowing those people to smithereens. What makes us feel even worse is that we killed so many of them that there was bound to be one of two decent human beings in there too. Statistically speaking there is a slight possibility that a random sampling of Iraqis might contain a few who are ok people and if we just blew any of those people up... our bad."

Whos the PR wizard who dreamed up that soundbyte? This is the pentagon, it employs thousands of people. They have a $400 billion a year budget and "Oops sorry, some of them might notta deserved to be killed" is the best we can come up with?

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