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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Let's clarify a few things.

1. This is important, scandalous, etc., and deserves much more attention from media, pundits, crusaders, etc.

Bush veto of SCHIP bill.

Yes, the original CHIP program got expanded, and the bill/budget was deliberately timed to create a showdown.

So, by Bush "not blinking", lots of Republican candidates are going to have to further distance themselves from their own party and its leader, who chose the wrong hill to die on. (Add your own cowboy movie metaphor here.)

I'm expecting wall-to-wall attack ads with sick kids next year, during primary season and the general election.

Decent article in Slate.

2. This is just silly.

Separating God and state.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Pelosi defends refusal to put "God" on flag certificates

Posted by Sabrina Eaton October 09, 2007 16:28PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today defended the Architect of the Capitol's refusal to permit use of the word "God" on official certificates enclosed with flags flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Dayton-area GOP Rep. Michael Turner and more than 100 of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to Pelosi last week after an Eagle Scout in his district asked that a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol be sent to his grandfather with a certificate inscribed with the message: "In honor of my grandfather Marcel Larochelle, and his dedication and love of God, country, and family."

The boy and his father contacted Turner's office after noticing the word "God" was left off the certificate included with the flag. Outraged upon learning that the acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, won't allow religious expressions on flag certificates, Turner sent a protest letter to Pelosi.

"The Architect's policy prohibiting "God" from appearing on certificates for flags flown over the U.S. Capitol puts at risk our religious freedoms and heritage," said the letter, which also was signed by Ohio Republican Reps. Steve LaTourette of Bainbridge Township, Patrick Tiberi of Genoa, Jim Jordan of Urbana, Steve Chabot of Cincinnati and Jean Schmidt of Miami Township. "The Architect's policy is in direct conflict with his charge, as well as the scope of his office and brings into question his ability to preserve a building containing many national religious symbols."

Asked about the issue today at a press luncheon, Pelosi said the architect's policy was adopted because "people were asking for statements that not only were religious, beyond using the word God, but political as well." She said the official policy is to send a certificate that lists nothing beyond the date the flag flew over the Capitol and the name of its recipient. She said that members of Congress who request flags on behalf of constituents can "add whatever they wish" to the certificates, "whether it is a political statement or a religious statement."

"It's not about being anti-religion," Pelosi said, noting that each day in the Capitol starts with a prayer. "It is just about what the architect thought was appropriate for him to proclaim in a certificate."

Turner said Tuesday that he will continue seeking more signatures for his letter asking Pelosi to overturn the policy, and "if the speaker and the architect continue to implement their censorship program, we will drop legislation to compel the architect to return to granting inscriptions permitting the acknowledgement of God."

He said members of Congress vet the appropriateness of messages constituents request with the flags, and their discretion should be sufficient."We have the responsibility for these common sense issues that might arise with flag inscriptions and this one is basic," Turner said. "The architect has decided the word 'God' is offensive. This rule should not be allowed to stand."

An Eagle Scout wanted to have a flag flown over the US Capitol in honor of his grandfather. An authenticating certificate would be issued by the Capitol Architect (note -- I'd have thought that the architect of the US Capitol might have died in the early 1800's, but I digress...) . The Eagle Scout asked that his grandfather's commitments to family, country and God be mentioned on the certificate. Shockingly, and just when the Party of Lincoln was taking a real beating for not caring about poor children, the Architect not only omitted the word "God," but stated that it was against the rules to mention religion, deity, etc. He was defended by Nancy Pelosi.

Enter the Eagle Scout's congressman, and after a number of talk show appearances, all is well, grandpa has a flag and a certificate and proof that the US Congress knows of his devotion to God.
If this doesn't seem like the sort of thing I normally get exorcised about, well maybe it isn't. I see in it, though, blatant attempts to manipulate public opinion. Even if the original story is as told, just a boy who loves his grandfather, the media coverage has made everyone iconic.

Can you imagine a better cast? An eagle scout? (Paragon of virtue and love for God and country.) A grandfather. A flag. A government functionary who doesn't appreciate God, flags or grandfathers. A God-and-Republican-and-children-hating Congresswoman from San Francisco? A Congressman serving as Defensor Fides, who saves the day.

Yay! And where does this get us, this time spend wrangling with architects? and wringing hands? The same place it will get us next year, when we will be treated to extensive hearings on flag burning (yes, it comes back every election year), homosexuals' living arrangements, school choice and military service records. No where, just more divided.

We've got more important business to conduct, people! This is just silly.

3. This is important, but not now. Not this way. Too much is at stake.

Who killed the Armenians?

Back around the time of the 1st World War, lots of Armenians (for which read "Christians") died in Turkey. On that point, no one disagrees. On how they died, nearly everyone who has seriously studied the subject seems to agree that these people died, were massacred or even martyred, at the hands of the Turks (for which read "Muslims") in the area of the world then ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

From the BBC:

What happened?

During World War I, as the Ottoman Turkish empire fought Russian forces, some of the Armenian minority in eastern Anatolia sided with the Russians.

Turkey took reprisals. But historians argue over the extent to which Turkish policy towards Armenians during that period was motivated by wartime conditions. On 24 April 1915 Turkey rounded up and killed hundreds of Armenian community leaders.

In May 1915, the Armenian minority, two or three million strong, was forcefully deported and marched from the Anatolian borders towards Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). Many died en route and numerous eyewitnesses reported massacres by Turkish forces. Atrocities against Armenians continued until the Ottoman empire collapsed after the war.

What do Armenians say?

Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed during World War I, either through systematic massacres or through starvation.

They allege that a deliberate genocide was carried out by the Ottoman Turkish empire.

What does Turkey say?

It says there was no genocide.

It acknowledges that many Armenians died, but says many Turks died too, and that massacres were committed on both sides as a result of inter-ethnic violence and the wider world war. Turkey estimates the number of Armenian dead to be 300,000.

While the descendants of the slaughtered and of the implicated live together in Turkey, the modern state of Turkey can bear no more responsibility for a these crimes than can modern Swedes for the horrors inflicted by the Vikings.

At least, that's how we in the West view things. So, why not set the record straight, in whatever dimly lit corner of academic where there might still be a question? Why not, indeed!

From testimony October 10 by the Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time of the atrocities, wrote -- and I am quoting -- “I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.”


Our troops depend on a major Turkish airbase for access to the fighting fronts, and it serves as a critical part of the supply lines to those fronts. A growing majority in Congress, and I am among them, strongly oppose continued U.S. troop involvement in the civil war in Iraq, but none of us wants to see those supply lines threatened or abruptly cut.

All eight living former secretaries of state recently cautioned Congress on this matter. And I quote, “It is our view,” write former Secretaries Albright, Baker, Christopher, Eagleburger, Haig, Kissinger, Powell and Shultz, “that passage of this resolution … could endanger our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey.”

Three former secretaries of defense – Carlucci, Cohen and Perry – this week advised Congress that passage of this resolution, and I quote again, “would have a direct, detrimental effect on the operational capabilities, safety and well being of our armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan.”

Members of this committee have a sobering choice to make. We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn this historic nightmare through the use of the word “genocide” against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying. This is a vote of conscience, and the Committee will work its will.

Let's have hearings and make it official US policy to call it a genocide. What's the harm in getting to the truth? Could it be that people who are still angry about the Crusades might get a bit upset about what they see as a defamation of themselves? Not of their ancestors, but themselves? Could it be that we are deliberately provoking a tenuous ally, upon whose cooperation our soldiers depend for arms, food, and other logistics?

The truth is important. But insisting upon it now means using as truth as a weapon. That is never right. This can wait.

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