Monday, October 31, 2005
Texas Dodge 'em - Bush played the Alito Card
Casualties in Iraq
Politics of Divisiveness - The Smirk is Back
--Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at U.S. Military Academy,West Point, Oct.20, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
India - Dowry System and Bride Burning
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Marine Corps Marathon
Reading about Charles Stalzer, Margaret Hagerty and other older runners who are going to take part in the race tomorrow gives me hope that it is not too late to run another. Slower than I used to be but my knees are holding up; I can go out of the door and run 10 miles. Shall think of the participants in the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow and wish them well. May the wind be behind your back.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Libby resigns -- Charged with five counts in the CIA/Valerie Plame leak investigation
A Steve Bell cartoon from The Guardian,UK.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Letter in The Guardian,UK, From A Vietnam Veteran
And Steve Bell's "More Sacrifices will be required"
Harriet Miers Fell on the Sword for Her Boss
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Casualties of War and Champions of War
Where they lived, where they died. Today's Washington Post contains detailed map and charts. Also see Josh White and Ann Tyson's report "Military has lost 2,000 in Iraq".
The president, of course, is still a champion of the war. The costs have been too high for him to survive the firestorm that will erupt following an admission of a wrong decision.
Total injured: 15,220.
".....any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne ( 1572-1631) Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions ,1623
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The Enigma of Condoleezza Rice
Monday, October 24, 2005
A Wise Old Man Who Served Bush 41
First, it was General Colin Powell who finally admitted regret in September about his UN speech to gain support for the war against Iraq. Then last week his former chief of staff, Col. Larry Wilkerson issued a harsh statement, criticizing the administration's Iraq policy. Now it is Brent Scowcroft. But the neocons go merrily marching on.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Iraqis and The Ministry of Defence Poll
Excerpt from the Sunday Telegraph report:
"The secret poll appears to contradict claims made by Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, who only days ago congratulated British soldiers for "supporting the Iraqi people in building a new and better Iraq".
Andrew Robathan, a former member of the SAS and the Tory shadow defence minister, said last night that the poll clearly showed a complete failure of Government policy."
Friday, October 21, 2005
Prince "George" Without His Machiavelli
And Death Toll Mounts for U.S. Soldiers
At the end the president could turn out to be right. "There's some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining," Bush said. "But the American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to." Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker write in the Post of "A Palpable Silence in the White House". Hard to think of Bush without Karl Rove. Could happen but let's not rush into counting the chickens before they are hatched.
The BBC web site has a report (Bush plagued by domestic issues) on the same subject by Matt Frei of its Washington bureau.
In other news, death toll in Iraq is nearing the 2ooo mark. Latest count: 1992.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Greece, Off the Beaten Path
I flew from SFO to Heathrow. Had lunch in the City with a friend, spent the night in a hotel near Gatwick Aiport and the next day boarded a flight from Gatwick to Preveza. At Preveza I met Kostas Vaseleiou, the guide, and other members of the group--all from England. Preveza is located at the tip of an inlet of the Aegian Sea.
Tina Averoff (extreme left) joined the group to take photographs for the Epirus Foundation of Greece. She walked with us all the way to Tsepelovo.
It was the feast day of Saint Constantine, Costas' patron saint. Kostas' wife, Madelon and one of her friends (a Spanish woman) who worked as an interpreter in the EU Secretariat,Brussels,drove up from Kipi to join us for dinner.
Madelon and Kostas ©RS
Enroute Tsepelovo ©RS
Madelon, Effie & Roy Hounsell in foreground.
After breakfast we went to Ioannina by boat and then by bus to Preveza to catch our flight.
Next day I caught a flight for SFO from Heathrow. "Baghdad by the Bay", as the late Herb Caen described San Francisco, was a welcome sight from the window of the plane. I was home.
The Tragic Fall of an once Proud Newspaper
Tina Brown's comments in the Post, "Seeing Right Through The Times's Transparency", cannot be disputed. The failure of NYT to exercise control over a rogue reporter (self-described Miss Run Amok!) is a mystery. Why was she allowed to continue as a loose cannon after her reports about Saddam Hussein's WMD were proven to be false ? Those in charge of running the NYT are still behind her. Perhaps they have good reason for doing so; perhaps their hands are tied.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
A Bully Squirming - The Table has Turned On Tom DeLay
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. Warmed the cockles of my heart to read that a warrant has been issued for arch bully Tom Delay, aka the Hammer, aka the Exterminator. The report in Washington Post by Susan Gamboa of Associated Press reads: "AUSTIN, Texas -- A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Rep. Tom DeLay, requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges". He might froth at the mouth about vengeful prosecution but he will have to go through the motions required under our legal system.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Harriet Miers - Finally a Paper Trail Surfaces
What will be her argument as she tries to wiggle through this? The Washington Post report by Charles Babington and Fred Barbash "Miers backed abortion ban in 1989" leaves no doubt about her position. "Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers agreed in 1989 that she would "actively support" a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban abortion except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother." It is doubtful that her views have changed since 1989. But one really didn't need a paper trail. It became clear some time back (after publication of the treacly letters and notes that she sent over the years to G.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush that this Bush groupie could never do anything to displease her hero.
Evelyn Waugh* Paul Scott* Henning Mankell
" 'I have been here before', I said; I had been there before, first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were creamy with meadowflower and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest."
"I am not I: thou are not he or she
They are not they"
Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
The Raj Quartet, Paul Scott's saga about India in the final years of British rule is in a different league. Mr. Scott came from a humble background and it took him a long time to gain recognition. He went to India in 1943 as an air supplies offer and served in India and Malaya. The first volume of The Raj Quartet appeared in print in 1966. The final volume was published in 1974. The book brought him fame. It was made into a serial by Granada Television. The production did full justice to the book. For me, it revived the sights, smells and sounds of India I knew.
Some, including the author Salmon Rushdie, criticized Mr. Scott's depiction of India and Indians. I thought that the book came quite close to accurately describing the conditions that existed. That Paul Scott was able to capture the nuances during his brief stay in India and able to write about them with such clarity speak a lot about his talent. It was not an easy thing to do.
Paul Scott died in 1978 from cirrhosis of the liver. He was 58. His last years were plagued by his drinking problem. Shortly before his death he received the Booker Prize for "Staying On", a novel about an English couple who decided to remain in India after the end of the British rule.
"This is a story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs."
--The Jewel in the Crown, 1966; part one of The Raj Quartet
A fellow blogger, fogdux, wrote on October 9th about Henning Mankell, the Swedish author of mysteries. Her tribute to this gifted writer leaves nothing to add. I discovered Mankell a few years back and voraciously went through all the Kurt Wallander books that the library had. There was one that I didn't like--"The Dogs of Riga". Mankell's latest book, "Before the Frost" features Linda Wallander, Kurt's daughter, as a detective. I am looking forward to reading it.
"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."
Slash and Burn, Cut and Run
Online edition of the NY Times,which made a mockery of its motto "All the news that's fit to print",is carrying an Associated Press report about the ongoing investigation of CIA/Valerie Plame leak by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald. "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's CIA-leak inquiry is focusing attention on what long has been a Bush White House tactic: slash-and-burn assaults on its critics, particularly those opposed to the president's Iraq war policies."
Monday, October 17, 2005
How We Are Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq
A few ragheads here, a few ragheads there. The AP report in the Post reads:BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two western villages, killing an estimated 70 militants near a site where five American soldiers died in a weekend roadside blast, the military said Monday. Residents said at least 39 of the dead were civilians ."
More than 50% of the total casualties reported to be civilians who happened to be in the area where the military action took place. As in the past, we can expect the deaths of civilians to be confirmed with the usual expressions of regret.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Kashmir - Tragedy in the Disputed Territory
Makes one weep. A stark example of man's inhumanity to man. It is the decades old enemity between India and Pakistan over territorial rights in Kashmir that is preventing medical and other forms of assistance from reaching villages on the Pakistani side of the border. More than 38,000 dead according to latest reports. From Dan McDougall's report in The Observer "'We are desperate for heavy machinery: drills, backhoes, anything that can help remove the debris and perhaps save lives,' said Abdul Qayyum, a Bagh schoolteacher. 'The government should send heavy machinery so we can get bodies or save those who are still alive. If they can't help us, then let the Indian army over the border. They are only kilometres away. What is more important - politics or lives? We can hear the call to prayer from their mosques floating across the line of control. Their buildings are standing - they can help us.'
Deadline Oct.28th - All Eyes on Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald
The grand jury for the CIA/Valerie Plame leak investigation by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald is due to expire on October 28th. Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to announce his decision by that date whether or not to prosecute any of the people involved. For some of the players it must be an agonizing time. The special prosecutor and his office succeeded in preventing the investigation from turning into a circus. For that alone Mr. Fitzgerald and his staff are worthy of praise. What a difference when compared with Ken Starr who was in charge of the Clinton investigation ! His office leaked like a sieve and he revelled in appearing before TV cameras. The Washington Post is carrying an excellent summation of the background by Howard Kurtz.
All The News That's Fit to Print ! The NY Times
One of the journalists involved is Judith Miller of the NY Times. David Corn's column in The Nation includes the following:
"So much for without fear or favor. This is an awful acknowledgment for the nation's leading paper. Taubman and Jill Abramson, a managing editor, called the situation "Excruciatingly difficult." It was worse. As I've written before, Jayson Blair bamboozled his editors; Judy Miller handcuffed hers. If a deal could have been reached a year earlier, the Times would not be as embarrassed as it is today. No wonder, as the paper reports, when Miller made a post-release speech in the newsroom, claiming a victory for press freedoms, her colleagues "responded with restrained applause."
"When the Times reporters interviewed Abramson and asked her what she regretted about the paper's handling of the Miller case, she replied, "The entire thing." That was a refreshing shot of candor. But Miller's account and the paper's extensive take-out do not totally clear the air. They leave the impression that we're still not getting all the news that ought to be fit to print."
---Alice In Wonderland
Saturday, October 15, 2005
For or Against Harriet Miers - Democrats In A No Win Situation
Charles Babington writes in the Washington Post that : "While the turmoil on the right offers Democrats a tantalizing opportunity, party strategists said, it also will confront them with a difficult choice: Confirm a conservative with close ties to President Bush, or oppose her and join ranks with hard-right activists who historically are their arch enemies." Yes, a difficult decision to make. Anywho nurses the thought that Ms Miers, Bush Groupie No.1, is going to disappoint him is out of touch with reality. No, if confirmed, Harriet Miers will enable the president to include her, along with Scalia and Thomas, as a "strict constructionist". We know what that means.
Rutabaga and Other Root Vegetables
Rutabaga as gourmet fare in expensive restaurants in Washington DC ! The Washington Post article by Walter Nicholls has a link to interesting recipes. Don't know about gussified rutabaga but some of us who dabble in cooking have always recognized the merits of this and other root vegetables. Simply roasting root vegetables mixed with olive oil, a dash of Herbes de Provence or cumin powder will produce a hearty, healthy, flavorful dish. Enjoy it with a soup made from roasted Acorn squash or orange-flesh sweet potatoes (yams), accompanied by rustic bread and a light red (Rhone style) wine. A great supper on a chilly evening. If a vegetarian meal is not your thing, broil some sausages, slice them in 1" pieces and serve on a platter to accompany the vegetables.
This is how I do it. About 1/2 lb. of each would be enough for four plus leftover.
Celeriac (Celery Root)
Salt and black pepper
Herbes De Provence or Cumin powder
Peel, cut into bite size pieces. Dice the onion, mince the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, Herbes De Provence, a dash of cumin powder, salt and coarse ground black pepper. Mix well. Bake in 375 deg. oven for 30/35 minutes (until soft, not mushy). If desired, drizzle extra virgin olive oil before serving.
Herbes De Provence
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon summer savory
1/2 teaspoon lavender
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon oregano or basil
1/4 teaspoon sage
I exclude bay leaf.
Bush And A Vision of Apocalypse
Robin Wright in the Post wrote about the ongoing efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program. "The second is what punitive action Iran's international critics could take if the country fails to comply. U.S. officials have been tight-lipped about the specifics of Rice's talks." Nothing new. It was,however, an item in The Guardian that made me gasp. The evil empire scenario with all its arrogant declarations. The surprise was that Saudi Arabia, a close ally (the rulers if not the people) of the Bush administration was a target! And Pakistan, despite its proven role in export of nuclear technology to the evil ones, is no longer so-- there can be no better example of "My enemy's enemy is my friend". The Empire Strikes Bush, Dan Froomkin's May 16th column in the Post is a good one to visit.
One wonders if the scenario is part of the Born Again Christians' Rapture (Second Coming) thing. Maybe they are tired of waiting and want to resort to a catalyst. I'm being facetious but one can never tell what they are thinking of.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Harold Pinter Gets His Due
Harold Pinter was born in 1930 and is married to Lady Antonia Fraser, the renowned author of historical fiction. The home page of Harold Pinter.org contains the following:
"Pinter's interest in politics is a very public one. Over the years he has spoken out forcefully about the abuse of state power around the world, ........................"
Injured U.S. Soldiers
Where are the officials who sent them to Iraq? Do something.
The Death Toll
According to icasualties.org, the total for U.S. soldiers is now at 1966.
"For me war has become a flat, black depression without highlights, a revulsion of the mind and an exhaustion of the spirit.
---Ernie Pyle (1900-1945), American journalist who covered World War II.
Ernie Pyle died from sniper's bullets in Ie Shima, Japan, 18th April 1945.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
The President's Video Conference with Troops in Iraq
The President Makes A Scripted, Orchestrated Appearance
Elfriede Jelinek - Controversial author back in the news
Knut Ahnlund described Ms Jelinek's works as "whingeing, unenjoyable, violent pornography". That there is an element of violence in pornography, enjoyable or otherwise, is indisputable but Ms Jelinek's works are not pornographic. I did not know of Elfriede Jelinek until I read about her about a year ago when she won the Nobel for 2004. I watched video of the film "The Piano Teacher", based on Jelinek's novel. Thought that it was great and I blogged about it on November 8, 2004. The books, however, were disappointing. I read "The Piano Teacher" translated by Joachim Neugroschel, and "Lust" , translated by Michael Hulse. Found them boring. It was like reading police reports. Michael Haneke, director, and Isabelle Huppert in the leading role made "The Piano Teacher" a fascinating movie. The book failed to come close. Perhaps it was the translation.
I respect Elfriede Jelinek for speaking out about sexual violence against women and for her position on Bush's war. Her play "Bambiland" is a scathing indictment of the war against Iraq.
The Third Way - The Path Back for Democrats
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Reading the President's Body Language
Where are you Smirking Chimp ? The Post article by Dana Milbank cries out for your pithy comments. For a while it seemed as though we, Bush critics were pissing against the wind. The wind has shifted. More and more such items are beginning to appear in mainstream media. The NY Times can run with Judy Miller.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Blogging as Therapy - If it works, why not ?
Psychologists, even with good intentions, cannot be fair and impartial on this issue. While there is the risk of attracting weirdos--they are out there--one can easily prevent comments from readers in the blogs. The downside of that is it would block not only slimy people but those whose comments might actually have a positive effect....for both.
While I myself have not posted intensely personal details in my blog, I admire those who do. It takes courage and confidence. If they find release and satisfaction from posting their thoughts, may the force be with them.
The Pesky Reporters - The President Got Hot Under the Collar
Good for a laugh. Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in the Post (Photo Op Bites Back) described an exchange between El Jefe and Matt Lauer. How the situation has changed! This would have been unthinkable a year ago when most of the journalists covering the president did not dare challenge the strict management of news under the iron hands of the president's minions. Talk about control. They were the masters. That was then. Now the reporters no longer feel cowed by the president. They have found chinks in his armor. More power to them.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Victims of Natural Disasters - Largely the Poor
Reports about the earthquake that devastated parts of northern Pakistan mention more than 20,000 dead and countless who are homeless. Indian territories escaped major loss. The number of dead greatly exceeds Katrina's toll. In Guatemala, many victims will never be found and accounted for. There is something that jumps out of the reports and photographs---most of the victims belong to the lower end of the income scale....the "have nots".
John Lancaster, The Washington Post wrote: "The damage was said to be heaviest in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where the area's communications minister, Tariq Mohammed, told the Associated Press that "more than 30,000 people have died." That figure was considerably higher than other official estimates and could not be independently confirmed."
Krissah Williams' report about Guatemala in the Post mentioned "At least 640 dead, many missing"
"Guatemalan officials said they would abandon communities buried by landslides and declare them mass graveyards, according to the Associated Press. Many of the missing apparently will simply be declared dead, and the ground they rest in declared hallowed."
Bigots see the hand of God in natural disasters. They talked about retribution for sinful New Orleians. Now the holy rollers might see the earthquake as punishment for atrocities committed by Islamic Jihadis. Give them time, they will come up with cause for the suffering of the Guatemalans.
The earth's restlessness is easier to understand. There are explanations for earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding. Nevertheless, it seems that the burden of suffering falls disproportionately on the poor. It is because of the areas where they live, the kind of housing which they can afford, and what they do for livelihood.
The San Francisco Bay area, of which I am a resident, is considered high risk because of close proximity to earthquake faults. Minor temblors are common and the seismologists talk about the "big one" that is going to hit. If and when a major earthquake takes place in this area the profile of victims will be markedly different.
Bush administration chalks up another achievement
Now we learn from Michele Singletary's column "When bankruptcy becomes personal" in The Washington Post that:
"The overall quarterly increase was fueled by consumer Chapter 7 filings, which rose 17.7 percent, to 362,481 from 308,028, for the second quarter of 2004. Under Chapter 7, a person's assets are liquidated, except those exempted by law, and debts are wiped away. Such cases are usually simple. The average filer doesn't even appear before a judge.
"This recent surge in bankruptcy petitions is largely attributable to consumers scrambling to file before the new, tougher Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 takes effect Oct. 17."
The new act was tailor made to benefit corporate America. There is no doubt that it will do so. Those facing bankruptcy can pound salt.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
A Turbulent Autumn in Foggy Bottom
"Hubris on the Hill", Ruth Marcus' column in The Washington Post makes good reading. She wrote about the ethical problems facing Bill Frist and Tom DeLay. They invited trouble, especially DeLay whose arrogance greatly exceeded that of Dr. Frist's. They have no one to blame but themselves. There are others on both sides of the aisle in Congress who suffer from monumental egos. The White House and Cabinet offices do not lack them either. It is the nature of the beast. Politics and humility do not mix.
The death toll of American soldiers nearing the 2000 mark. The hubris of a handful of people created the mess that is Iraq. They continue to offer platitudes and keep the spectre of terrorism alive to justify their miscalculation.
Then there is the controversial nominee for the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Despite the brouhaha the president is confident that Harriet Miers would be confirmed. Don't see the Republicans going to the extent of voting against her. There is too much at stake. After all the president has delivered on most of the issues close to the heart of the conservatives. The president is hurting on several fronts. David Broder in The Washington Post wrote about "Bush's Fraying Presidency". If his support continues to drop then Republican members in the House and Senate will suffer from the domino effect. Last thing they want. So, they might have doubts about her fitness but they will vote to confirm Harriet Miers. I strongly suspect that Ms. Miers will follow the playbook of Justices Scalia and Thomas....the president's favorites.
Friday, October 07, 2005
G.W. Bush - New Cold Warrior or Creator of Red Herring?
The president read a long speech on October 6th. He needs to boost the sagging polls and the speech writers went all out to assist him. The cold war was mentioned in context with Islamic terrorism. We have a new cold warrior fighting the good battle, defending us from the evil doers.In a report titled "Bush Says 10 Plots by Al Qaeda Were Foiled" The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Susan B. Glaser commented about the vagueness of the threats mentioned in the speech.
"Most of the plots were previously reported in some form; a few were revealed yesterday. The White House had never before placed a number or compiled a public list of the foiled attempts to follow up the Sept. 11 attacks, but it offered scant information beyond the location and general date of each reported plot -- making it difficult to assess last night how serious or advanced they were or what role the government played in preventing them."
Editorial in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune reads in part:
"Myers' view, which Bush immediately quashed, overflowed with common sense and practical wisdom. Bush's Cold War construction overflows with faulty logic; it tries to make Islamic radicalism fit a familiar -- and therefore comforting war-justifying -- mold that doesn't work."
Thursday, October 06, 2005
El Jefe read a speech---a long one
The speech writers gave it their best shot. No easy task but 40 minutes can cover a lot of ground. It did. There were some good one liners. But how did the speech play in Peoria? The President and his staff say that they do not pay attention to the polls. Some people believe them. The drop in support indicated by the polls, however, cannot be poo-poohed away. They know it and we know it.
So they resurrected the old standbys.
- 9/11 and the threat of terrorism lurking around the corner
- Great things are happening in Iraq
- Soldiers are dying for a noble cause
- Other evil doers --Iran, Syria
Saddam Hussein was an indisputable tyrant but Iraqis lived in a secular society in which women were not required to wear hijab and were free to work alongside men. The new Iraqi constitution reflects the influence of Islamic scriptures. Women's rights are in danger.
Two and half years after the war began, in Baghdad the residents do not have regular supply of power and water.
The speech might temporarily succeed in shielding the president from criticism about the mess created in Iraq and problems at home--the mounting deficit due largely to his lopsided tax cuts and the war in Iraq, the rising energy costs, and funding for reconstruction of New Orleans--but they are not going to go away.
The Women of Pakistan Cannot Be Silenced
If it were not for the cruel facts President Musharraf's PR efforts to put a lid on increasing number of reports about rape victims and lack of rights of Pakistani women would have been funny. Yasmeen Hassan's open letter to President Musharraf in today's Washington Post will only make things more unpleasant for General Musharraf. He is still reeling from his infamous statement during an interview on September 12th.
"You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."
The General tried to deny saying it but he was being recorded. The audio transcript can be heard on the Post's web site.
Yaa Habibi !
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Keep Oregon Free - Gonzales v. Oregon 04-623
The Washington Post is carrying a report by Charles Lane, "Supreme Court Holds Hearing On Assisted Suicide Case" that includes questions raised by the justices.
From what is known about Harriet Miers and her affiliation with a fundamentalist Christian church, if she wins confirmation to the Court her vote would most probably be against Oregon.
Summary of the background.
- Patients must be in final six months of terminal illness
- Patients must make two oral requests and one written request to die, separated by a two-week period
- Patients must be mentally competent to make decision
- Two doctors must confirm diagnosis
- Lethal prescription of drugs prescribed by doctor and administered by patients themselves
The Bush administration has been after Oregon's Death With Dignity Act for a long time. The former Attorney general Ashcroft took a personal interest in it. Religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, vehemently opposed the act. Ashcroft tried to annul the law in 2002 because "it depended on an improper use of medication by doctors and violated federal drug laws". His order was overruled by an appeals court. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is continuing the battle, State's Rights be damned.
An editorial in today's NY Times ended with the following:
"The impact of today's case will be felt beyond Oregon. The Bush administration's position has discouraged other states from enacting assisted suicide laws. But the Supreme Court should make clear that Oregon, and all states, have the right to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with a maximum of dignity and a minimum of pain."
The Brits take an enlightened position on Euthanasia
While faced with increasing intrusion of religious beliefs in all aspects of our life we are surrendering to bigotry, across the Atlantic in England things are moving the other way. Rights of citizens to have more control over end of life decisions are being liberalized.
The Guardian,UK, "Church Ends Taboo on Mercy Killings" January 16, 2005.
The Guardian,UK, Doctors' Leaders drop opposition to euthanasia, June 30, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Judith Miller's 85 Days in Prison
There were doubts about her motives and hints that reasons other than "protecting her source" made her decide to remain silent and go to prison. Today's Washington Post carries a report "Lawyer Casts Blame on Reporter for Time in Jail" by Carol D. Leonnig that sheds some light but does not fully explain the circumstances. Perhaps Ms. Miller went to prison to benefit from the "tell all" book that is supposedly in the works. As the reporter who contributed a series of stories about Saddan Hussein's non-existent WMD which the NY Times management was guilty of publishing without checking facts, Ms. Miller will undoubtedly create a partly fictional account of her role in the Plame affair.
What Makes Harriet Miers Tick
El Jefe pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Harriet Miers was a possibility but not at the top of the list of most of the pundits who ventured to express their opinions about a possible nominee. Initial reactions indicate that Conservatives are more unhappy than the Democrats. That, however, is not enough to feel good about the nominee. The Conservatives' ire could be part of the plan. Remember El Jefe's stated admiration for Scalia and Thomas ? It is hard to believe that he changed his position and risked displeasure of his core constitutency, especially the Christian right, by picking a person who would be radically different. A tiger does not change his stripes. G.W. Bush remains an opportunistic, hypocrite. Either he has reason to be assured that Ms. Miers will deliver by siding with Justices Scalia and Thomas or he decided to avoid a brutal, long drawn-out confirmation process by nominating one who could sneak by without causing a fire storm. He has enough problems on his desk to discourage him from adding another.
As he always does in such unrehearsed settings, during the press conference this morning the president butchered the English language but spoke strongly about the nominee. He also disparaged polls. That must be taken with a grain of salt. The White House does pay attention to polls.
The problem with the nomination is that Ms. Miers' positions on various issues remain unknown. She never held a judicial position--there is no public record of her beliefs and opinions. Details of her work in the White House will be protected under "executive privilege". The perfect stealth candidate.
- Scenario I: The president is confident of Ms. Miers' position on issues that are important to his core support groups and they will soften their criticism.
- Scenario II: Ms. Miers comes with an open mind and, if confirmed, will follow the path of retiring Justice O'Connor.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
October - Dylan Thomas, Wales and the San Francisco Peninsula
The first day of October. Thought of the poem by the late Dylan Thomas. "Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,......"
Great poem. For us in the San Francisco Peninsula frosty fingers are unheard of in October. October means sunny, bracingly cold days and blue skies. After unseasonably cool days during most of the second-half of September, we had our Indian summer. During the last few days the daytime temperature climbed over 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). JHL and I hiked the 7.5 mile Los Trancos trail a few days back and felt the heat. We were tired and sweaty but it felt good. Buckeye Creek was almost dry but that will soon change. Today is noticeably cooler.
Back to Dylan Thomas and October in Wales that he described so powerfully. There is beauty and there is harshness. The Welsh must be hardy people to cope with such stark autumn.
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.
Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women, and the rows
Of the star-gestured children in the park.
Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches,
Some of the oaken voices, from the roots
Of many a thorny shire tell you notes,
Some let me make you of the water's speeches.
Behind a post of ferns the wagging clock
Tells me the hour's word, the neural meaning
Flies on the shafted disk, declaims the morning
And tells the windy weather in the cock.
Some let me make you of the meadow's signs;
The signal grass that tells me all I know
Breaks with the wormy winter through the eye.
Some let me tell you of the raven's sins.
Especially when the October wind
(Some let me make you of autumnal spells,
The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales)
With fists of turnips punishes the land,
Some let me make of you the heartless words.
The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry
Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury.
By the sea's side hear the dark-vowelled birds."
"I first saw the light of
day in a Glamorgan villa,
and,amid the terrors of the
Welsh accent and the smoke
of the tinplate stacks, grew
up to be a sweet baby, a
precocious child, a rebellious
boy, and a morbid youth"
---Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914-1953)
For those who are interested in learning more about Dylan Thomas, the BBC's web site is a treasure trove.