About Me

My photo

Armchair theorist, poet, and occasional IT manager, Sascha B. is equipped with a Master's Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, and is not afraid to use it. His work has been published by the University Press of America, Edwin Mellen Press, University of Texas Press, and a variety of small journals nationwide. He is also the proprietor and baker for 3141 Pie, of which you should eat many.

The Deal

I stopped blogging in 2013, when life overtook me. My father became ill and died shortly thereafter, and my mother was left with increasing dementia. I became the primary caregiver, and now orchestrate my mother's care and our family estate.

Now, I am coming up for air again.

Looking for the next book to read. All suggestions welcome.

My reading list is over here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Poor Lebanon

Here, in the WSJ Friday, is Fouad Ajami, saying far more eloquently than I can why the current war has one loser no matter what, and that is Lebanon.
"In an earlier time, three decades ago, Lebanon was made to pay for the legends of Arabism, and for the false glamour of the Palestinian "revolutionary" experiment. The country lost well over a quarter-century of its history--its best people quit it, and its modernist inheritance was brutally and steadily undermined.

Now comes this new push by Damascus and Tehran. It promises nothing save sterility and ruin. It will throw the Lebanese back onto a history whose terrible harvest is well known to them. The military performance of Hezbollah, it should be apparent by now, is not a performance of a militia; nor are unmanned drones and missiles of long range the weapons of boys of the alleyways. A formidable military structure has been put together by the Iranians in Lebanon. In a small, densely populated country that keeps and knows no secrets, Hezbollah and its Iranian handlers have been at work on this military undertaking for quite some time, under the gaze of Lebanese authorities too frightened to raise questions."

Read the whole editorial: WSJ OpinionJournal - Extra
It's All About Floyd
Floyd Landis claims the yellow jersey after finishing third in the time-trial - the penultimate stage of the Tour.
Yeah. An American wearing the yellow. Again. Eat them freedom fries, all y'all: BBC: Tour de France.
And what's More...

This, from Dennis Ross today, also in TNR:
"In the end, this conflict is not about Israel. True, Israel may be a foil, but Iran has bigger fish to fry. Hezbollah and Hamas are tools in the Iranian game of self-promotion, furthering an Islamist agenda, and undoing Western influence in the area. The Syrians, for their part, seem to believe that Iran is on a roll, and better to be playing along with it than with others, and they clearly see little price for doing so."
Why Israel's war is an opportunity for the United States.

I get an uneasy feeling that neither the president, nor the Secretary of State, are connecting the dots on the situation in the region. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Houston, we have a problem....
A Truth
"Over the last few decades most, if not all, Arab-Israeli crises have occurred when the United States has been either unable or unwilling to play an aggressive role as a mediator; and most have only abated after the United States has finally thrown itself into the middle of them."
That is John Judis, saying what I wish the administration would hear a bit clearer, in TNR this week.

Only American diplomacy can resolve the Middle East crisis.
Israel Is Our Bitch

I don't know when it was ever more clear than with this NYT Headline: U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis.

Let your bitch do your dirty work, give her some bombs to kill your terrorist enemies, and you can clean up the diplomatic mess later when the smoke clears and someone else has removed the bodies, and the mothers are done keening.

This sort of thing makes me sick.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Strange Morality
"'It is a strange morality indeed that pins the moral status and life of the embryo on the question of who is paying for the research.'"
This from a legal expert at the University of Edinburgh, after Bush's veto. Strange indeed: it is the morality of American privilege. When Roe v. Wade gets overturned, expect the same morality to apply to abortion: If you can afford to pay, the law won't be a bother. For the rest, well...we've never really cared too much about the folks who allow themselves to become poor, anyway.

This is a harbinger of what to expect moving forward in a theocratically informed America. Be aware: BBC NEWS--Bush 'out of touch' on stem cells.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

And There You Have It
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Wednesday he used his first veto to block legislation expanding embryonic stem cell research, putting him at odds with top scientists, most Americans and some in his own Republican Party."
Brilliant. Just brilliant. I wish we could breed more leadership like this. Make torture legal, spy on your own citizens, but when it comes to making a visionary leap into a better future...get out that red pen.

Bush casts first veto to block stem cell bill.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

At Least He Is Sticking To What He Knows

Better the Pope writes about Jesus than about marriage, or children, or homosexuality...But even so, while it may be a good book, I doubt it will wind up with the cachet of, say, The Da Vinci Code.

Read more: AP Report: Pope writing book about Jesus.
A Voice From Over There

A Lebanese blogger's view on the current disgrace:
From Beirut to the Beltway: Iran fights Israel in Lebanon
Theocratic Leadership

Amazing that President George "never met a law I didn't like" Bush is set to cast his first ever veto against a bill that has overwhelming public and political support, and is only firmly rejected by the ultra-christian pro-lifers. The opportunity to save thousands is going to be overridden by the opportunity to appease a handful of reactionary fanatics. So has politics in this day led us.

Reuters: Senate to pass stem cell bill, Bush set to veto.
King George Alert
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an internal probe of the warrantless eavesdropping program that monitors Americans' international calls and e-mails when terrorism is suspected.
Another flagrant example of Bush deciding that expediency wins over legality, and that he can have the final say, above and beyond the law, and the nation, and the constitution...

In Testimony, Gonzales Says Bush Blocked Inquiry - New York Times
A Good Thought
"Do they deserve, the bad ones, all the rights that are afforded? No. But are we required to do it because of what we believe? Yes," - Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, speaking out on a the administration's ill-thought stance on military tribunals.
On this day of war, and tsunami, and suicide bombs, and death, it's nice to hear this from an unexpected source. Bravo, senator Graham. I only wish we heard more words and sentiments like these from our leaders right now.

What we do makes us who we are. You cannot escape the reality of this.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Poke A Sleeping Lion

In the end, Hizbullah will fail in their aims, if for no other reason than their leader, however shrewd, has a glaring blind spot:
"'When the Zionists behave like there are no rules and no limits to the confrontation, it is our right to behave in the same way,' Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, said in a Sunday address televised on the movement's al-Manar satellite channel."
Rules and limits no longer pertain. Israel as launched a unilateral policy to secure and cohere its power and safety. If Nasrullah truly believes what he says (which is as in all these situations, of course, debatable), then there is no hope for Hizbullah, and distressingly, no hope for the Lebanese who live with them.

More here: WP--Mideast Deaths Mount as Attacks Intensify.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ummm, Wow.

So Condi Rice is now in favor of Israel fighting this war as a proxy for the US against the forces of "terrorism"---in this case, Hizbullah. On one level, albeit a very lofty and theoretical level, I understand this realpolitik thinking. If Israel can weaken the fulcrum of the Syria-Iran-Hizbullah-Hamas interaction, then the US will have furthered its aims in the region without further engendering potential harm domestically. But in real terms, this is a horrifically disturbing policy. We have what little democracy that exists in the region at risk of collapsing into civil war and catastrophe, and rather than trying to coerce a semblance of peace to foster what little good may be left, we are standing by and letting the bombs drop, while the ultra-christians are cheering on the imminent Rapture.

Where is leadership and diplomacy when we need it most? Who now will act as a grownup in this world of children, and help shepherd us to sanity?

Rice Says Israel May Need to Prolong Offensive - New York Times