Monthly Archives: August 2005

Christopher Hitchens

I just heard author and so called “liberal hawk” Christoper Hitchens say, in hawking his book on Thomas Jefferson to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, that Jefferson “unilaterally” waged war against “Islamic terrorists” when he sent the U. S. Navy to invade the Barbary States of North Africa which were sponsoring the infamous Barbary Pirates. The Pirates attacked vessels from nations which hadn’t paid their annual tribute (protection money), stole the cargo, took the crews prisoner and sold them into slavery.

If Hitchen’s assertion that those of the Barbary States were Islamic Terrorists wasn’t enough to call into question his credibility, he bid farewell to Stewart by invoking the very hackneyed “it’s been real.” A sure sign that Hitchen’s obviously expansive opinion of his own intellect is misplaced. I mean, come on, “it’s been real”?

The Barbary pirates and their employers, the heads of the Barbary States who frequently came to power through coups and assassinations, were criminals motivated by financial gain, not terrorists; and Hitchens should certainly know the difference.

Until the U. S. was able to construct a navy to send after the pirates, for many years it paid an annual tribute to the Barbary States to protect the many commercial U. S. vessels that plied the Mediterranean.


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An Apartment

I have today received confirmation of my rental of an apartment on the edge of downtown Merida, that I will move into on October 1.

The apartment is two stories, one bedroom, fully furnished (even an iron, ironing board, and microwave, conveniences I have long lived without), air conditioning and adjoining private terrace. The rent is 3,000 pesos per month, about $277. at today’s exchange rate.

Upon my arrival and after settling into the apartment I will go shopping for a bicycle, which I will use for transportation around Merida. For exploring further afield I will rely on public transportation.

I will post pictures of my Merida digs as soon as I arrive.

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Pat Robertson – Liar

Reuters reports that televangelist Pat Robertson, in addition to being a demagogic radical who has defiled Christianity by using it for his personal political objectives, is a liar. After explicitly advocating the assassination of Venezuelan President Chavez, Robertson today denied it. See below.

As an aside, how can Reuters seriously refer to Robertson as a “conservative?”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson, who called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said on Wednesday he was misinterpreted and there were a number of ways to “take him out” including kidnapping.

“I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping,” Robertson said on his “The 700 Club” television program.

“There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted,” Robertson added.

Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a presidential candidate in 1988, said on Monday of Chavez, one of Bush’s most vocal critics: “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.” (emphasis added.)

Read the full story here.

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Osgood Brown Conference Center

I was stunned to learn Saturday evening (Aug. 6, 2005), during the grand opening party for the Elma Microtel Inn and Suites, that the wonderful folks of WSCO Petroleum had named the conference center adjacent to the hotel after Mayor Osgood and me. They also named one of the two meeting rooms for each of us.

I am, of course, very grateful for the recognition, particularly from folks for whom I have such great respect.

Elma’s Public Works Director Jim Starks also deserves substantial credit for his work in facilitating the successful siting and construction of the hotel project.

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Mt. Hood at Dusk

I really like this photo I took at dusk in late April 2002 while driving East through Eastern Oregon.

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The hillsides throughout the island of Hvar, just off the Dalmatian coast, have been terraced over the millennia by folks clearing rocks so the ground could be farmed. Lavender is grown everywhere and its scent permeates the air. Also grown are grapes from which is made the dark golden, tasty local wine.

Also on Hvar is the oldest theater in Europe, constructed during Shakespeare’s lifetime and which has recently been renovated. While visiting the town of Hvar I stayed in what was once a Venetian Count’s home. The hotel was about $20. per night and a sumptuous dinner of spaghetti fruti de mar (spaghetti with clams, mussels, and octopus), a salad and 1/2 carafe of local wine was $8. The restaurant owner, an Italian fellow, threw in a complimentary glass of vodka which I assumed was home distilled.

A bus ride across the mountainous island on the 1 1/2 lane road got to be a little exciting on a couple of occasions.

Hvar is good for a two or three day visit. There are other amazingly beautiful nearby islands, easily accessible through the excellent, pervasive ferry service. The Adriatic on the Croatian side is much deeper, thus cleaner, than on the Italian side; and mostly submerged mountains protrude from the sparkling aqua hued sea, creating more than one thousand islands.

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More Indignities Heaped Upon the Constitution

Emails from two military prosecutors working at prosecuting Guantanamo Bay detainees indicate that the ‘military tribunals’ are “rigged.”

Let’s see. We declare the prisoners enemy combatants, imprison them incommunicado off-shore, deny them legal counsel, torture them; and, after the Supreme Court rules that the prisoners must be provided due process of the law, set up rigged trials. Sounds like something King George would have done.

Read the report by Australian TV news.

Major Robert Preston wrote to his supervisor:

“I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people,” Maj Preston wrote.

“Surely they don’t expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time.”

Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.

“I lie awake worrying about this every night,” he wrote.

“I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission.

“After all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don’t really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer.”

Major Preston was transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions less than a month later.

Captain John Carr wrote:

“When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused,” he wrote.

“Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged.”

Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.

“You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel,” he said.

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