About Me

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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.







Friday, July 28, 2006

Not Alone

Seems that Peter Beinart, at least, is thinking along the same discouraging lines I am in regard to the Democratic responses to al-Maliki's congressional visit. Some high notes from his piece in WaPo:
"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid demanded that Maliki eat his words or be disinvited from addressing Congress. "Your failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raise serious questions about whether Iraq under your leadership can play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East," wrote Reid and fellow Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Charles E. Schumer on July 24.

How, exactly, publicly humiliating Maliki and making him look like an American and Israeli stooge would enhance his "leadership" was never explained in the missive."

"The Democratic Party's single biggest foreign policy liability is not that Americans think Democrats are soft. It is that Americans think Democrats stand for nothing, that they have no principles beyond political expedience."
Read his whole piece here: Pander and Run

Thursday, July 27, 2006

babytalk cover
We Are Such Boobs

I sometimes am just amazed at the wickedly purtianical streak that runs through America. Reading some mothers' reactions to the image of a nursing baby on the cover of parenting magazine Babytalk I want to run and hide; that these women are so distressed, that they sexualize themselves to such an extent that one woman shredded the 'zine rather than have her son see the cover, I just don't know what to say to that.

I sort of want to plaster the cover all over building walls across the country now. If we can't see a woman nursing, but we're ok with blood-spattering movies and games, war in foreign lands, and all that, then once again, we've got a major problem.

AP: 'Breast' cover gets mixed reaction Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dear Lord

It grows ever more embarrassing to be a Democrat in this country; if this is the depth of understanding of the Democratic leadership of the nature and complexity of the Middle East and the Arab world, then despite the disgrace and horror of the current administration, we may still be better off with the Democrats not calling the shots in foreign policy right now. This just in from AP:
"Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an 'anti-Semite' for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel."
Okay. Al-Maliki is Shia. Hizbullah is Shia. Hizbullah is the only credible military force in the Arab world in the context of the conflict with Israel. Al-Maliki is trying to build a multi-sectarian base for his country which is quickly degrading into civil war. He is surrounded by Shia neighbors who will be vital as allies if Iraq is to survive.

And Pelosi and Dean want him to denounce Hizbullah? do they also want him to instantly lose any credibility he has as an independent leader, not a lapdog of the perceived "US-Israel-Jewish lobby"? Do they want him to be assassinated?

I wonder: I am quite prepared to denounce Hizbullah, but also equally ready to denounce the actions Israel has taken, including its killing of UN personnel; also the tacit approval of the US government for their actions. Does that make me an anti-semite? A self-hating Jew, perhaps?

I beg anyone who has any sense among the Democrats: Pay attention to realpolitik just a bit more. There are ways to keep support of American Jewry and AIPAC types without acting like total asses.

Dean calls Iraqi PM an 'anti-Semite' - Yahoo! News.
Must Reads

As the situation continues to deteriorate in Lebanon (UN observers killed by Israel, continued shelling of Haifa, death and destruction everywhere), Abu Kais' From Beirut to the Beltway blog continues to be an excellent site for the ongoing discussion in and out of Lebanon. And also, linked from there, this translation of an article on Voices on the Wind (from Lebanon and Beyond): Right and Responsibility, Translated from an article by Dr. Radwan el Sayyid. I really do recommend taking a look. And hoping that somehow, this war will resolve itself soon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

O Tempores!

All I can say is, I'm glad someone else said it. I don't think I could bear the shame of such honesty.

Ashcroft Nostalgia.
blues brothers on a mission from god
A Message From God

Interesting (and perhaps serendipitous) timing on this one: the discovery of a 1200 year old book of psalms in an Irish bog.
"The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of
Israel."
Read the whole gospel here: AP: Ireland worker finds ancient psalms in bog.
Unsurprising

So at last a controlled study of 12-step programs shows what I've said for years: that they are effectively placebo. This isn't to negate they can provide, but to recognize that in many ways, they merely replace destructive addictive patterns of behavior, with a pattern that is less destructive, but no less a feed for patterns of addictive action. Also interesting is the terribly defensive stance of the psych guy they interview: not of AA, but of cognitive therapy, and its scientific basis:
"Some of the wisdom embodied in A.A., such as the notion of persons, places and things that trigger drinking, are very much a part of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a scientifically driven, empirically validated treatment,” Dr. Nunes said.

“A.A. has helped a lot of people,” Dr. Nunes said. “There are a lot of satisfied customers. On the basis of that, we have to take it seriously.”
Like I said: placebo.


Review Sees No Advantage in 12-Step Programs - New York Times
Fascinating

So Arlen Specter is going to sue Bush over the constitutionality of the signing statements? This should be one to follow.

Sen. Specter Readies Bill to Sue Bush

Monday, July 24, 2006

FYI

If you are looking for someplace to track just what is going on in Lebanon---just the bare bones facts/events---you should keep up with the BBC's timeline. It is a decent high level running tally of just what the hell who is doing to whom...
Monday Yet Again

So, Condi's off in Beirut, which is good, but likely unproductive. I am interested in Olmert's comment though, as reported in Ha'aretz, that he is open to a joint Western-Arab peacekeeping force. More rant inducing to me is the report on Pakistan's new weapons grade reactor, which looks to expand their capacity of nuke production ten- to twenty-fold:
"'Such a reactor could produce over 200 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium per year, assuming it operates at full power a modest 220 days per year,' it says. 'At 4 to 5 kilograms of plutonium per weapon, this stock would allow the production of over 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year.'

There was no immediate reaction to the report from the Bush administration. Albright said he shared his data with government nuclear analysts, who did not dispute his conclusions and appeared to already know about the new reactor.

'If there's an increasing risk of an arms race in South Asia, why hasn't this already been introduced into the debate?' "
It's a damn good question. And considering we just approved the shipment of all those F-16s the other week, I'm wondering: in what way do we win from supplying a nuclear arms race between to rival nations who are non-signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, who hate each other, and at least one of whom has a glaring record of terrorism, instability, and rash behavior?

Read more: WP: Pakistan Expanding Nuclear Program.