Quote of the Day

“It’s not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy. It’s the failed policy of this president — going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely.

Joe Biden on This Week

Muslims Urged to Refuse Vaccinations on Religious Grounds

While I have many posts criticizing fundamentalist Christians for allowing their religious beliefs to intrude upon medical care and science, the problem also extends to other religions. The Independent reports, Muslims urged to refuse ‘un-Islamic’ vaccinations 

A leading Islamic doctor is urging British Muslims not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella because they contain substances making them unlawful for Muslims to take.

Dr Abdul Majid Katme, head of the Islamic Medical Association, says almost all vaccines contain un-Islamic “haram” derivatives of animal or human tissue, and that Muslim parents are better off letting childrens’ immune systems develop on their own.

Dr Katme, an NHS psychiatrist, said: “If you breastfeed your child for two years – as the Koran says – and you eat Koranic food like olives and black seed, and you do ablution each time you pray, then you will have a strong defence system.”

The Department of Health and the British Medical Association have criticised Dr Katme, saying his suggestions are likely to increase infection rates of children in Muslim communities. Other Muslim groups have also condemned the suggestion.

This will not only harm the innocent children who are denied the vaccine, but will also increase the risk of diseases spreading. Vaccinations are not 100% effective, but besides protecting the specific individual vaccinated “herd immunity” decreases the risk by decreasing the overall prevalence of the disease, protecting those who fail to respond to the vaccine or those who do slip through the cracks. The more people who refuse the vaccine for religious reasons, the more likely others will also be at risk of contracting the disease.

The Real Situation in Iraq

One problem with the Bush’s approach towards Iraq from the start is that he has ignored the reality of the situation, beginning with buying the claims we’d be greeated with flowers as liberators. There are multiple reports around both the mainstream media and blogosphere about the actual situation in Iraq.

The New York Times sums up the problem with the title, It Has Unraveled So Quickly. It is well worth reading the full account, but you can get the feel with the opening paragraph:

A PAINFUL measure of just how much Iraq has changed in the four years since I started coming here is contained in my cellphone. Many numbers in the address book are for Iraqis who have either fled the country or been killed. One of the first Sunni politicians: gunned down. A Shiite baker: missing. A Sunni family: moved to Syria.

One reason success will be so difficult to achieve is that the moderates are the ones who are leaving:

The moderates are mostly gone. My phone includes at least a dozen entries for middle-class families who have given up and moved away. They were supposed to build democracy here. Instead they work odd jobs in Syria and Jordan. Even the moderate political leaders have left. I have three numbers for Adnan Pachachi, the distinguished Iraqi statesman; none have Iraqi country codes.

For another view of conditions in Iraq, listen to this week’s This American Life. It’s a story about “an American reporter in Iraq decides to rent a house in a residential neighborhood of Baghdad, rather than in live in a hotel, where he could become an easy target for insurgents.” While not the main focus of the story, there are indications of how bad the problem is, including off the record admissions from American officials that the condition is far worse than they are officially admitting.

The Guardian has also had recent reports on the dangers of living in Baghdad, the most recent entitled “If they pay we will them anyways”–the Kidnappers Story. (more…)

Lieberman Now To The Right of Brownback on Iraq

It shows how far to the right Lieberman has moved on the war, and how out of sync he is with both his former party and the country, when even Sam Brownback is telling Lieberman he is wrong. Think Progress has video from Fox News Sunday with this transcript:

LIEBERMAN: I fear that while this resolution is non-binding and, therefore, will not affect the implementation of the plan, it will do two things that can be harmful, which is that it will discourage our troops, who we’re asking to carry out this new plan, and it will encourage the enemy, because as General Petraeus said to our committee, war is a test of wills, and you don’t want your enemy to be given any hope.


BROWNBACK: I don’t — I don’t see this enemy as needing any more emboldening or getting it from any resolution. They’re emboldened now. I was there two weeks ago in Iraq. I was in Baghdad. I was in northern Iraq. This is a very aggressive situation. You have sectarian violence of Sunni and Shia. I was in the Kurdish area. They were talking about we have to get the Sunni and Shia together. I talked with the head of the Kurdish group. He said he wouldn’t vote for more troops because you have to first force the Sunni and Shia to sit down and talk about a political accommodation and that’s not happening.

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Frank Rich on Hillary’s Problem with Iraq

Frank Rich writes about Hillary’s problem explaining her support for the war:

Mrs. Clinton cannot rewrite her own history on Iraq to match Mr. Obama’s early opposition to the war, or Mr. Webb’s. She was not prescient enough to see, as Mr. Webb wrote in The Washington Post back in September 2002, that “unilateral wars designed to bring about regime change and a long-term occupation should be undertaken only when a nation’s existence is clearly at stake.” But she’s hardly alone in this failing, and the point now is not that she mimic John Edwards with a prostrate apology for her vote to authorize the war. (“You don’t get do-overs in life or in politics,” she has said.) What matters to the country is what happens next. What matters is the leadership that will take us out of the fiasco.

Mr. Webb made his own proposals for ending the war, some of them anticipating those of the Iraq Study Group, while running against a popular incumbent in a reddish state. Mrs. Clinton, running for re-election in a safe seat in blue New York, settled for ratcheting up her old complaints about the war’s execution and for endorsing other senators’ calls for vaguely defined “phased redeployments.” Even now, after the Nov. 7 results confirmed that two-thirds of voters nationwide want out, she struggles to parse formulations about Iraq.

This is how she explains her vote to authorize the war: “I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come to ask for a vote. There would not have been a vote, and I certainly would not have voted for it.” John Kerry could not have said it worse himself. No wonder last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” gave us a “Hillary” who said, “Knowing what we know now, that you could vote against the war and still be elected president, I would never have pretended to support it.”

Compounding this problem for Mrs. Clinton is that the theatrics of her fledgling campaign are already echoing the content: they are so overscripted and focus-group bland that they underline rather than combat the perennial criticism that she is a cautious triangulator too willing to trim convictions for political gain. Last week she conducted three online Web chats that she billed as opportunities for voters to see her “in an unfiltered way.” Surely she was kidding. Everything was filtered, from the phony living-room set to the appearance of a “campaign blogger” who wasn’t blogging to the softball questions and canned responses. Even the rare query touching on a nominally controversial topic, gay civil rights, avoided any mention of the word marriage, let alone Bill Clinton’s enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act…

The issue raised by the tragedy of Iraq is not who’s on the left or the right, but who is in front and who is behind. Mrs. Clinton has always been a follower of public opinion on the war, not a leader. Now events are outrunning her. Support for the war both in the polls and among Republicans in Congress is plummeting faster than she can recalibrate her rhetoric; unreliable Iraqi troops are already proving no-shows in the new Iraqi-American “joint patrols” of Baghdad; the Congressional showdown over fresh appropriations for Iraq is just weeks away.

This, in other words, is a moment of crisis in our history and there will be no do-overs. Should Mrs. Clinton actually seek unfiltered exposure to voters, she will learn that they are anxiously waiting to see just who in Washington is brave enough to act.

Related Story: What Hillary Learned About Iraq–From John Kerry