,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Hogs at the Trough (II) - Addicts and Pushers

"Crooked Capital", Howard Kurz writes in the Washington Post about the cozy relationships between lobbyists and legislators: "Of course, the Democrats don't have totally clean hands. Abramoff was friendly with some D's as well. Ohio's Jim (Beam Me Up) Trafficant is in jail on a 2002 bribery conviction. And Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson is under investigation over a telecommunications deal in Niger. The larger point is that both parties in Washington engage in what critics have called legalized bribery: taking money from special interests while voting on the legislation that affects them; taking golfing and other trips with lobbyists and then doing their bidding on the Hill. The scandal here is what's legal, not the relative few who have run afoul of the law. If Republicans are doing more of it, that may reflect the fact that they run Washington these days."

Don't expect things to change much. It is mutual--the legislators and special interest groups feed on each other. They will find ways to maintain the status quo.
Two Speeches - A World of Difference

The president read a speech at the Naval Academy, Annapolis,MD. See Daniela Deane's report in The Washington Post. About halfway through, when the president was describing how great things have become for the Iraqis, and then brought up the spectre of 9/11 (it has worked for him in the past) I switched him off. To use a cliché, I wouldn't buy an used car from him.

It was more interesting to read the speech to be given by Lord May, president of the Royal Society. Excerpts from Ian Sample's article "Fundamentalists threaten scientific progress" in the Guardian,UK:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The Lies about Iraq's WMD and The Democrats Who Swallowed Them

Washington Post*BBC

In his column today "More than a Mistake In Iraq", Richard Cohen , The Washington Post, comments about Democratic presidential aspirants who are now trying to do somersaults to explain their support for the war. A pox on all of them, the gutless opportunistic, unprincipled politicians. Hundreds of thousands of of people all over the world were protesting and marching against the obviously orchestrated efforts to sell the war while they were being briefed by the neo-cons and solemnly falling in line. Why ? The proponents of war were not believable; they had an agenda; they had records. The Democratic leaders' attempts to put a spin on their support for the war is pathetic. They didn't even display a sense of skepticism ! What do they see when they look at themselves in the mirror ? Following from Richard Cohen's column:
Col. Larry Wilkerson Fires Another Salvo

Not for the first time, Col. Wilkerson targeted the vice president--his role in abuse of prisoners. In an interview by the BBC, Col. Wilkerson stated:

"I look at the relationship between Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld as being one that produced these two failures in particular, and I see that the president is not holding either of them accountable... so I have to lay some blame at his feet too," he went on.

In the BBC interview, Col Wilkerson also developed his views on whether or not pre-war intelligence was deliberately misused by the White House.

He said that he had previously thought only honest mistakes were made.

But recent revelations about doubts in the intelligence community that appear to have been suppressed in the run-up to the war have made him question this view."

The more I read about Col. Wilkerson's accusations about the Bush administration, the more I think about his former boss. General Powell's failure to speak out or resign from his position has been explained by some as the acts of a 'good soldier' who could not go against the commander in chief. Sorry, but that does not wash.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Iraq After Saddam - What is the Difference ?

Abuse, Torture and Killing of Civilians*G.W. Bush,"Cowboy Khan"
Saddam Hussein is no longer in power but abusive fiefdoms are being created by Iraqis with money and influence. In "Private Security Crews Add to Fear In Baghdad" Jackie Spinner, Washington Post, covered only part of the deplorable situation. It is not only private security forces under payroll of Iraqis in high positions in the new government but also the government forces that are feared by the people. According to recent reports they have good reason to be afraid of them. Abuse of power is rampant. No less a person than our handpicked former Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was quoted by the BBC on November 27th" "Such abuses are as bad today as they were under Saddam Hussein", Mr Allawi told Britain's Observer newspaper two weeks after 170 detainees were found at an interior ministry centre, "some allegedly suffering from abuse and starvation". The Iraqi blogger Riverbend in her November 25th post wrote about random killing of civilians by government security forces.
"Cowboy Khan", A New Moniker for President Bush

Oh, to be Genghis Khan. Howard Fineman commented in Newsweek, All Quiet in DC, about the president's stop in Mongolia on his way back from Far East: "No wonder Bush loved Mongolia. My colleagues in the White House press corps reported that he seemed relieved to be able to spend a few hours there. Nothing like a 36 percent job-approval rating to make you feel fondly towards the vast, empty steppes of the Far East.

"Perhaps Bush was thinking jealously of Genghis Khan, who probably didn’t need to be concerned about the polls and pundits. He just conquered a lot of territory, and that was that.Would that it were that simple. It’s not. Voters are worried, perhaps more than ever, about what the president and Vice President Dick Cheney, and the rest of the Bush Administration now call “Islamo-fascism” or “radical Islamist fundamentalism.”

"But those same voters on this Thanksgiving seem to doubt that Bush’s Cowboy Khan approach is wise, at least in Iraq. They’re becoming more inclined to think that it was, is, folly."

Cowboy Khan, very appropriate.



The Making of Suicide Bombers

An Iraqi Woman Comments

I found and started reading "Baghdad Burning", the Riverbend Blog, soon after the beginning of the war in 2003. The author is eloquent, passionate and incisive in her posts from Baghdad. Baghdad Burning is listed among the links under "Magnets" on the left-hand side of my page. Her November 25th post is so moving that I decided to copy most of it here.
  • I try to imagine what would happen to me, personally, should this occur. How long would it take for the need for revenge to settle in? How long would it take to be recruited by someone who looks for people who have nothing to lose? People who lost it all to one blow. What I think the world doesn’t understand is that people don’t become suicide bombers because- like the world is told- they get seventy or however many virgins in paradise. People become suicide bombers because it is a vengeful end to a life no longer worth living- a life probably violently stripped of its humanity by a local terrorist- or a foreign soldier.
  • I hate suicide bombers. I hate the way my heart beats chaotically every time I pass by a suspicious-looking car- and every car looks suspicious these days. I hate the way Sunni mosques and Shia mosques are being targeted right and left. I hate seeing the bodies pile up in hospitals, teeth clenched in pain, wailing men and women…
  • But I completely understand how people get there.
  • One victim was holding his daughter. "The gunmen told the girl to move then shot the father," said a relative.
  • Would anyone be surprised if the abovementioned daughter grew up with a hate so vicious and a need for revenge so large, it dominated everything else in her life?
  • Or three days ago when American and Iraqi troops fired at a family traveling from one city to another, killing five members of the family.
  • "They are all children. They are not terrorists," shouted one relative. "Look at the children," he said as a morgue official carried a small dead child into a refrigeration room.
  • Who needs Al-Qaeda to recruit 'terrorists' when you have Da’awa, SCIRI and an American occupation?

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Sexual Hypocrisy Alive and Well in India

Philanderers Want Virgin Brides
Learned from a report in The Telegraph (UK) that an Indian actress, Khusboo is facing the wrath of her countrymen because of her comments that a modern man should not "expect his bride to be a virgin".

  • Khushboo, a 35-year-old Tamil film star and television game show host, made her controversial statement in a magazine which surveyed celebrities' views on pre-marital sex.
  • The resulting outcry - which saw Khushboo being served with a gagging order to keep the peace - has ignited fresh debate over the gap between public morality and private attitudes towards sex in India. Yesterday the High Court of Tamil Nadu, the state where the controversy began, ordered its police director general to draw up a plan to prevent the Khushboo protests growing violent.
Ah, the insecurity of the males. I applaud Ms Khusboo for publicly stating what needed to be said. As to the men in her home state, Tamil Nadu, they deserve a kick in their goolies (balls). I watched the movie "Kinsey" last night on video. The men who are up in arms in India over virgin brides might learn something from it. But probably their minds are closed to the concept of sexual equality. This 2004 film caused an uproar among the conservative Christians here in America too.
"The most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women."
--Simone De Beauvoir

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Violence Against Women, A Worldwide Problem

A report in USA Today , 11/24/05, by Dan Vergano makes dismal reading. Physical violence against women is continuing unabated in many countries. Mr. Vergano's article is based on a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • "Wife beating and sexual violence against women are "common, widespread and far-reaching," says a World Health Organization report released Thursday.
  • "The "WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence Against Women" is based on a survey of 24,000 women in 10 nations It says the percentage of women reporting having been physically or sexually assaulted, or both, in their lifetime ranges from 15% in Japan to 71% in rural Ethiopia. The violence has severe health and economic consequences, the report says.
  • "Domestic violence, in particular, continues to be frighteningly common and to be accepted as 'normal' within too many societies," says the report, the first global look at these kinds of assaults. All of the women surveyed had had a male partner at some point.
  • "In the USA, about 1.5 million women a year are assaulted by a husband or boyfriend; about one in six women have been sexually assaulted at some time in their life, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."It is a problem here, one that many communities face," says Diane Stuart, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the Justice Department. "This is a crime committed behind closed doors." Stuart says the isolation reported by domestic violence victims in the WHO report is also experienced by American women."
Commenting on the WHO study, Alertnet.org states: "It paints a harrowing picture of broken bones, bruises, burns, cracked skulls, dislocated jaws, rape and fear. Often the cycle is repeated from one generation to the next. A child that is brought up in an environment where there is domestic violence tends to accept it as the norm and they will then practise it," said Phumaphi." (Joy Phumaphi is assistant director-general of Family and Community Health at the WHO.)

My post dated October 30, 2005, about "Bride Burning", based on a Washington Post article, brought me a number of messages from India. The writers (assumed to be men) pointed out the flip side of the Dowry Act (Sec. 498A of the Indian Penal Code)--"widespread misuse of dowry laws by Indian daughters-in-law". Many instances of abuse of women in India are related to payment of dowry. When I asked the writer (one of them didn't leave a valid reply-to address) to provide specific instances of husbands being physically abused and tortured to death by their wives, I received no response. I do not dispute that there could be instances of women taking unfair advantage of Sec.498A.

Here in the San Francisco Bay area the number of South Asian immigrants has grown exponentially in the past eight years and with it the number of cases of abused women in the community.

Maitri is a non-profit organization run by volunteers to assist South Asian women who need help. From legal assistance to medical care, job search, and shelters, the volunteers of Maitri spend long hours to provide much-needed service to rehabilitate abused women who find themselves without money and a roof over their heads.

Friday, November 25, 2005


The First Rains of the Season


Rainy morning. It feels good. We have had a few light showers earlier this month but today is the real thing. It was time.

The street and the cars parked alongside the curb are covered with leaves from gingko trees. More like gold than yellow. Day after Thanksgiving is a holiday except for those who work in stores. Big day for bargain hunters storming the gates early in the morning. Parking lots full of drivers looking for rare empty spots. Fender benders; frayed tempers. I can imagine the cash registers making ka-ching, ka-ching sound. Good for the economy and some people get pleasure out of it.

Rain drops on window

Photo credit: stock.xchng (sciucanessa79@virgilio.it)

Gingko Leaves

Photo credit: stock.xchng (typographica@gmail.com)

A few more days of rain before AC and I can go walk through groves of oak and redwood trees to look for chanterelles. It is very rewarding when we come across a especially bountiful patch and fill our bags. After a few hours we sit down to have sandwiches and talk of pleasant things or just enjoy the forest around us. I cook risotto with chanterelles and a sprinkling of saffron to add color. For making soup I add diced potato to give it body. Soup tastes especially good on cold evenings.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Thanksgiving Day 2005 - Year 3 of the War In Iraq

On this day as we gather with families and friends, let us spend a few moments to think about the emptiness in the hearts of those who are suffering from losses. We can tilt the balance of being the half who "love the other half".

In memory of those who died in Iraq. Let us not forget the hapless civilians who became victims of warring factions, the civilians whose deaths are described by some as "collateral damage".

U.S. Soldiers: 2102
Injured: 15568
Iraqi Civilians: Minimum 27094 Maximum 30538

Every Thanksgiving Day, Jon Carroll of The San Francisco Chronicle writes a column that I urge everyone to read. Excerpt: "And the final bead on the string is for this very Thanksgiving, this particular Thursday, and the people with whom we will be sharing it. Whoever they are and whatever the circumstances that have brought us together, we will today be celebrating with them the gift of life and the persistence of charity in a world that seems bent on ending one and denying the other."
Now, to Yehuda Amichai.

Half The People In The World

Half the people in the world love the other half,
half the people hate the other half.
Must I because of this half and that half go wandering
and changing ceaselessly like rain in its cycle,
must I sleep among rocks, and grow rugged like
the trunks of olive trees,
and hear the moon barking at me,
and camouflage my love with worries,
and sprout like frightened grass between the railroad
and live underground like a mole,
and remain with roots and not with branches, and not
feel my cheek against the cheek of angels, and
love in the first cave, and marry my wife
beneath a canopy of beams that support the earth,
and act out my death, always till the last breath and
the last words and without ever understanding,
and put flagpoles on top of my house and a bob shelter
underneath. And go out on roads made only for
returning and go through all the appalling
between the kid and the angel of death?
Half the people love,
half the people hate.
And where is my place between such well-matched halves,
and through what crack will I see the white housing
projects of my dreams and the bare foot runners
on the sands or, at least, the waving of a girl's
kerchief, beside the mound?
---Yehuda Amichai

Translated by Chana Bloch And Stephen Mitchell


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Further Misadventures of The Bush & Blair Team

It Gets "Curiouser and Curiouser"
"The Queen had one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. “Off with his head!” she said without even looking around." (Lewis Carroll ,1832–1898, British author, mathematician, clergyman. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Lot of buzz about the existence of a secret memo reported to contain details of a meeting between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush in April 2004 when the president expressed his desire to bomb al Jazeera TV station in Doha, Qatar. The British press has been muzzled by invocation of Official Secrets Act from publishing the details. "World News Roundup" by Jefferson Morley in the Washington Post covers the subject well. Additional coverage by John Plunkett in The Guardian and by Rosemary Bennet and Tim Reid in Times Online.

  • Under a front-page headline “Bush plot to bomb his ally” in the Daily Mirror yesterday, a secret minute of the conversation in April 2004 records the President allegedly suggesting that he would like to bomb the channel’s studios in Doha, capital of Qatar. Richard Wallace, the Editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: “We made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given ‘no comment’ officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under Section 5.” (Times onLine Nov.23, 2005)
  • An international journalists group today demanded "complete disclosure" from the British and American governments over reports that the US considered attacking the al-Jazeera HQ in the Qatar capital, Doha. The International Federation of Journalists claimed that 16 journalists and other media staff have died at the hands of US forces in Iraq, adding that the deaths had not been properly investigated. (The Guardian, Nov.23, 2005)


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


"Mean Jean" Schmidt, VP Cheney - Attack Dogs Doing Their Thing

President Bush using the Good Cop, Bad Cop strategy ? He is sort of desperate. Learned from The Guardian that he went to Mongolia and praised his hosts for sending 160 troops to "coalition" forces in Iraq. In his Media Notes column, Howard Kurtz , Washington Post ,reports about the vicious attacks on Rep. Murtha by Republicans to shore up support for the president. "Anyway, Schmidt's defenders say she didn't realize Murtha had been a Marine. But her Ohio nickname will probably stick, thanks to this NYT profile:

"She grew up in the rough-and-tumble of a family auto racing business, went through concealed-weapons training, and bears a local nickname seldom applied to shrinking violets: 'Mean Jean.'"

And the guy she dug up to smear Rep. Murtha ? Col. Danny Bubp, a Marine reservist, a crusader for Christian right. The VP needs no introduction. He was the one who said ''I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." (CNN, May 30, 2005). Death toll for November: 68. Incidentally, VP Cheney took five (5) draft deferments during the Vietnam War.

Monday, November 21, 2005


"Shake and Bake" in Iraq - Who Will Cry For Us ?

All of us need a "Long night for the soul"
"Bush at the Tipping Point",by Howard Finemann in Newsweek "As friends describe it, Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania had been searching his soul for months, seeking guidance on what to do in Congress about Iraq. "I think he was going through what we Catholics call a 'long night of the soul'," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut." Jack Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal isn't likely to take shape unless....unless there is a groundswell to force it. Could happen if the attrition rate for our soldiers continues at the current rate (67 so far this month).

There is another side of the war which must not be forgotten. It is the use of overt and covert means by us to win at any cost. From torture of prisoners, secret prisons in "friendly" countries which have been paid in cash or kind to allow such facilities, to use of white phosphorus, we have lost the right to claim high moral ground. We have become like the enemy.

"Propaganda nightmare of chemical hypocrisy" by Bronwen Maddox, Timesonline November 17th edition: "HOW damaged is the US by the row over its use of white phosphorus in Fallujah last year? On the facts available now, it is within the letter of the law, even though it has not signed the most relevant protocol on the use of the weapon." Excerpts:
  • But even if it considers itself on firm legal ground, it has created a nightmare of public relations at the point when it is trying to court support in Europe and the Middle East.
  • Allegations of unusual weapons have been around since the assault. The US denied them, until internet bloggers unearthed personal accounts by the US military. On Tuesday Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Venable said that the substance had been used as an “incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, contradicting earlier statements by the London and Rome ambassadors, and the State Department website.
  • If there was anything that could make perceptions worse, it was the military slang of “shake and bake” attacks, phosphorus being the “bake” part.
  • It will take a lot of work by Karen Hughes, the President’s emissary, to improve the American image abroad, to make up for the incendiary effect on hearts and minds.
Paul Reynolds, BBC, on November 17, 2005: "White Phosphorus: Weapon On Edge":
  • The Pentagon's admission - despite earlier denials - that US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in Falluja last year is more than a public relations issue - it has opened up a debate about the use of this weapon in modern warfare.

  • The admission contradicted a statement this week from the new and clearly under-briefed US ambassador in London Robert Holmes Tuttle that US forces "do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons".
  • The official line to that point had been that WP, or Willie Pete to use its old name from Vietnam, was used only to illuminate the battlefield and to provide smoke for camouflage.
  • This line however crumbled when bloggers (whose influence must not be under-estimated these days) ferreted out an article published by the US Army's Field Artillery Magazine in its issue of March/April this year.

  • The article, written by a captain, a first lieutenant and a sergeant, was a review of the attack on Falluja in November 2004 and in particular of the use of indirect fire, mainly mortars.
  • It makes quite clear that WP was used as a weapon not just as illumination or camouflage."WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosive]. We fired "shake and bake" missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out," the article said.
Linda Feldman writes in The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Iraq War Support Fell So Fast":
"Why did Americans go sour on the Iraq war so quickly, and what can Bush do about it? John Mueller, an expert on war and public opinion at Ohio State University, links today's lower tolerance of casualties to a weaker public commitment to the cause than was felt during the two previous, cold war-era conflicts. The discounting of the main justifications for the Iraq war - alleged weapons of mass destruction and support for international terrorism - has left many Americans skeptical of the entire enterprise."

And the November 18th post "Baghdad Burning", the Riverbendblog, by a young Iraqi woman living in Baghdad, reads:
House of Horrors...
The talk of the town is the torture house they recently found in Jadriya.

"The whole world heard about the one in Jadriya, recently raided by the Americans. Jadriya was once one of the best areas in Baghdad. It's an area on the river and is special in that it's greener, and cleaner, than most areas. Baghdads largest university, Baghdad University, is located in Jadriya (with a campus in another area). Jadriya had some of the best shops and restaurants- not to mention some of Baghdad's most elegant homes...… and apparently, now, a torture house."
Who will cry for us ?

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Poets' Corner on A Sunday Morning

Yehuda Amichai*Czeslaw Milosz*Joseph Brodsky*Seamus Heaney

Hike with a Woman

When after hours of walking
You suddenly discover
That the body of the woman striding beside you
Is not made for
A march of war,
That her thighs grow heavy
And her buttocks move like a tired flock
You are filled with great joy
For the world
Where women are like this."

---Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000 ), translated by Harold Schimmel

Falling in Love

"Tomber amourex. To fall in love. Does it occur suddenly or
gradually ? If gradually, when is the moment "already" ? I would fall
in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel.
With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With a
marten in a picture. With the forest one sees to the right when
riding in a cart to Jaszuny. With a poem by a little-known
poet. With human beings whose names still move me. And always
the object of love was enveloped in erotic fantasy or was
submitted, as in Stendhal, to a "cristallisation", so it is frightful to
think of that object as it was, naked among the naked things,
and of the fairy tales about it one invents. Yes, I was often in
love with something or someone. Yet falling in love is not the
same as being able to love. That is something different."

---Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004), translated from Polish by the author and Robert Haas


New Life

"In the new life, a cloud is better than the bright sun. The rain
akin to self-knowledge, appears perpetual.
On the other hand, an unexpected train
You don't wait for alone on a platform arrives on schedule.
A sail is passing its judgment on the horizon's lie.
The eye tracks the sinking soap, though it's the foam that is famous.
And should anyone ask you "Who are you ?", you reply "Who--I ?
I am nobody", as Ulysses once muttered to Polyphemus."

--Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)


"A rowan like a lipsticked girl.
Between the by-road and the main road
Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance
Stand off among the rushes.
There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens."

---Seamus Heaney

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Et tu, Bob Woodward

Fall of a giant and no one to blame but himself

No excuse, none. Reading details of Bob Edward's silence about being told of Valerie Plame gave me a sick feeling. No matter what spin is put on it by the Washington Post and Bob Edward, it stinks. The difference between him and Ms Run Amok of NY Times ? Not much.


Kicking Fallen Leaves During Walks in the Fall

A blogger,Croweagle ,who lives in Ottawa, Canada, wrote about kicking leaves while walking in the woods. Joyful. Just reading about it and looking at his picture made me feel good. It happens. There are times when a simple act, a gesture, a kind word, a smile from a stranger can lifts one's spirits.
"The falling leaves
fall and pile up; the rain
beats on the rain."
---Gyodai (translated by Harold Henderson)


The Stark beauty and simplicity of Black and White Photographs


A gem in Newsweek. "Profound Portraits" by Malcolm Jones is about the works of a photographer that I never heard of. "Mike Disfarmer was the local photographer in Heber Springs, Ark. (pop. 3,800), from 1915 until he died in 1959." The 18 black and white images (can be viewed as a slide show) are stunning. Don't miss them.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Rep. John Murtha, A Decorated War Veteran Raises His Voice Against the War

Consternation in the Bush Camp*November Death Toll
"Murtha's Moment", Eleanor Clift's commentary in Newsweek, makes it clear why the president and his cohorts are running scared. "Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha is a burly ex-Marine with a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts who rarely speaks to the press. But he came out of the shadows Thursday to call for a complete pullout from Iraq within six months. “Our military has done everything that’s been asked of them. It is time to bring them home,” he said. Murtha’s hawkish record on military matters made his announcement all the more surprising. “It’s like George W. Bush saying he wants to raise taxes,” says Lawrence Korb, a defense analyst who served in the Reagan administration."

Out of 51 deaths in the first sixteen days of November confirmed by DOD 38 were in their 20's (see below). Five names yet to be confirmed. From The Washington Post:"MURTHA: I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that.

I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.

MURTHA: I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them. This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public knows it."

The death toll, November 1/November 16, 2005. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties

Daniel A. Tsue, 27, Marine Sergeant, Nov 01, 2005
Allan M. Espiritu, 28, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Nov 01, 2005
Dennis J. Ferderer Jr., 20, Army Specialist, Nov 02, 2005
Tyler R. MacKenzie, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 02, 2005
Joshua J. Munger, 22, Army Specialist, Nov 02, 2005
Benjamin A. Smith, 21, Army Specialist, Nov 02, 2005
Mark J. Procopio, 28, Army National Guard 2nd Lieutenant, Nov 02, 2005
Gerald M. Bloomfield II, 38, Marine Major, Nov 02, 2005
Michael D. Martino, 32, Marine Captain, Nov 02, 2005
Darren D. Howe, 21, Army Specialist, Nov 03, 2005
Jeffrey P. Toczylowski, 30, Army Captain, Nov 03, 2005
Daniel J. Pratt, 48, Army National Guard Sergeant 1st Class, Nov 03, 2005
Kyle B. Wehrly, 28, Army National Guard Staff Sergeant, Nov 03, 2005
Jason A. Fegler, 24, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 04, 2005
James M. Gurbisz, 25, Army Captain, Nov 04, 2005
Dustin A. Yancey, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 04, 2005
Timothy D. Brown, 23, Army National Guard Specialist, Nov 04, 2005
Darrell W. Boatman, 38, Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Nov 04, 2005
Thomas A. Wren, 44, Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, Nov 05, 2005
Joel E. Cahill, 34, Army Captain, Nov 06, 2005
James F. Hayes, 48, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Nov 06, 2005
Ryan J. Sorensen, 26, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 06, 2005
Brian L. Freeman, 27, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 07, 2005
Robert C. Pope II, 22, Army Specialist, Nov 07, 2005
Mario A. Reyes, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 07, 2005
Justin S. Smith, 28, Army 1st Lieutenant, Nov 07, 2005
Alwyn C. "Al" Cashe, 35, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Nov 08, 2005
Jeremy P. Tamburello, 19, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 08, 2005
Michael C. Parrott, 49, Army National Guard Staff Sergeant, Nov 10, 2005
Joshua A. Terando, 27, Army National Guard Sergeant, Nov 10, 2005
Daniel Freeman Swaim, 19, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 10, 2005
Tyrone L. Chisholm, 27, Army Sergeant, Nov 11, 2005
Donald E. Fisher II, 21, Army Corporal, Nov 11, 2005
Antonio Mendezsanchez, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 11, 2005
Stephen J. Sutherland, 33, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 12, 2005
David A. Mendez Ruiz, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 12, 2005
Scott A. Zubowski, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 12, 2005
John M. Longoria, 21, Marine Corporal, Nov 14, 2005
Christopher M. McCrackin, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 14, 2005
Ramon J. Mendoza Jr., 37, Marine Major, Nov 14, 2005
James E. Estep, 26, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 15, 2005
Travis J. Grigg, 24, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 15, 2005
Matthew J. Holley, 21, Army Specialist, Nov 15, 2005
Nickolas David Schiavoni, 26, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 15, 2005
Dylan R. Paytas, 20, Army Private, Nov 16, 2005
Alexis Roman-Cruz, 33, Army Specialist, Nov 16, 2005
Roger W. Deeds, 24, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 16, 2005
John A. "JT" Lucente, 19, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 16, 2005
Donald R. McGlothin, 26, Marine 2nd Lieutenant, Nov 16, 2005
Jeffry A. Rogers, 21, Marine Corporal, Nov 16, 2005
Joshua J. Ware, 20, Marine Corporal, Nov 16, 2005



The Plan "B" Story, Politicization of The FDA


When The Supreme Court is no longer inviolate, the FDA is small potato. "...............it is a captive to the right-wing ideology of the Bush administration".The Newsweek report by Jennifer Barrett describes not only the chummy relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA but also the FDA's submission to right-wing zealots of the Bush administration. The holding up of approval of Plan "B", the morning after pill, for sale over the counter is symptomatic of the abuse of power in practice by various government agencies. We have seen it at work in The Department of the Interior and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The officials don't wear jackboots but they trample on policies that would serve ordinary Americans and blatantly cater to special interest groups.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


The VP Defends the War - And Thus Spake His Boss


"Cheney Unleashed". Dan Froomkin, in his column White House Briefing,in the Washington Post wrote about the vice president's spirited defense on behalf of the beleaguered president. Just doing his job. After all he had a major role in cooking up the war. Reminded me of his appearance on CNN, May 30, 2005, when he said ''I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." 415 American soldiers have died after the vice president's statement. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties. Bear in mind that President Bush, VP Cheney, and Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld all avoided serving in Vietnam.

And the president appears to be overwhelmed by the winds of change. Among the many memorable sayings of President Bush, this one is special: "There's an old...saying in Tennessee...I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says Fool me once...(3 second pause)... Shame on...(4 second pause)...Shame on you....(6 second pause)...Fool me...Can't get fooled again."--Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 17, 2002. This man is our president ! He was right though. We are not going to get fooled again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The Alito Shuffle - He Is Acting Like A Politician

Candidate for A Job As Supreme Court Justice
Is he or isn't he--seeking confirmation as a justice of the Supreme Court ? Of course, he is. Therefore, his attempts to back away from his outright and clear position on abortion 20 years ago are not credible. Harold Meyerson, in his column "Alito's Smoking Gun" in the Washington Post quotes from Judge Alito's memo (application for a job) in 1985 to Regan's attorney general Ed Meese: "The Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

Leaves no doubt, does it. After the Harriet Miers fiasco, one would be dumb to expect the president to nominate a candidate who would not receive approval of conservative Christians. Judge Alito is not naive but he is acting like one by trying to defend his 1985 statement, that he wrote it because he wanted a job. His declared position on women's right to choose is just one of the issues that raise a red flag but I would have respect for him if he stood up to his principles.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Simply A Matter of Distrust

Down, Down, Down, and Down He Goes
The president's rating in a free fall. Thought my eyes were deceiving me! "In a specific comparison with President Clinton, those surveyed by 48%-36% say they trust Bush less." The president took off for Asia. Expectations are low; he might receive a better reception than he did during his recent jaunt to Latin America but apart from photo ops the trip will produce nothing. On the domestic front, however, it is a discouraging picture for the president. Results of a poll conducted by USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll (taken Friday-Nov.11th through Sunday-Nov.13th) show further erosion in support for G.W. Bush. Apparently, his Veterans' Day speech failed to win many converts.

In the poll:

  • Two-thirds of independents and 91% of Democrats disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Even among Republicans, who have solidly backed Bush in the past, 19% express disapproval — a new high.
  • For the first time — albeit by a narrow 49%-48% — a plurality disapprove of the way Bush is handling the issue of terrorism. Six in 10 disapprove of the way he's handling foreign affairs, the economy, Iraq and immigration, and 71% disapprove of him on controlling federal spending.
  • A 53% majority say they trust what Bush says less than they trusted previous presidents while they were in office. In a specific comparison with President Clinton, those surveyed by 48%-36% say they trust Bush less.
  • A record high 60% say going to war in Iraq was "not worth it." In a finding consistent with previous polls, 54% say it was "a mistake" to send troops there.

"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust."

Monday, November 14, 2005


FDA Officials and their Faith-based Dirty Tricks

How they sabotaged the Approval of OTC Morning After Pill
You can depend on them to follow the leader; the Bushies are ever mindful of the need to keep the conservative Christians--the self-appointed guardians of our morals-- happy. The Washington Post report by Marc Kaufman confirms what was previously mentioned in media...that the FDA, without any reasonable grounds, withheld approval for sale of the morning after pill over the counter. "The Government Accountability Office report said the apparent involvement of McClellan and other top officials was one of four unusual aspects of FDA's handling of the politically sensitive decision. The investigators reported that several key FDA officials told colleagues that the application to allow over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive would be rejected months before the decision was announced." Almost like the decision to go to war long before the drum beat was orchestrated.


Wars, Combatants and Non-Combatants

The Human Price
Soldiers and their feelings about Iraq is a subject that I often think about. I would have strongly discouraged my children from taking part in this war and I have low opinion of those who took us to Iraq, especially the ones who avoided taking part in battle (Vietnam war). Among them: G.W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Jonathan Darman's article in Newsweek, "The Wages of War" is mostly about veterans of wars past. He mentioned the current war--in Iraq--in passing but experiences of veterans in other wars could not have been much different. It is interesting that majority of returning veterans do not take part in speaking out against war although they many of them "quietly hate war". "If history is a guide, only a few of these new veterans will join antiwar movements; most will proudly support their country in any future entanglements it may face. But many of those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq will doubtless join a tradition of brave veterans who quietly hate war."

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed—those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending its money alone—it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
—Dwight Eisenhower, Speech (1953)


Free Spirits On A Motorcycle in Vietnam

"Two for the road"*Panic in Bush Land


It was such a pleasure to read the account of the motorcycle trip by Dustin Roasa and his girl friend, "Vietnam's Easy Rider" in the Washington Post. After the headlines about the Iraqi conspirator in Jordan and preparations for bioterrorism, Mr. Roasa was like a breath of fresh air. Reminded me that people in some parts of the universe still live normal lives. Yes, I am aware that Vietnam is not idyllic for all. But such journeys help one to get a feel of lands and people quite different than our own. If all of us cannot actually hit the road, reading about the journeys is the next best thing.

  • "Leaving behind the traffic-clogged, European-scale streets of Hanoi's central districts, we dodged pedestrians and trucks to emerge into the booming exurbs, ground zero for Vietnam's recent economic explosion. Industrial parks, where local workers stitch and assemble the goods that fuel the global consumer economy, lined the road on vast plots that had been scratched out of the dust. The stench of vehicle exhaust gave way to a mixture of burnt brush, overheated metal and soggy rice paddy -- the unmistakable odor of progress in Vietnam."

Who Will Say 'No More'

The president seemed to be out campaigning during his Veterans' Day appearance at Tobyhanna,PA. The Washington Post report by Linton Weeks and Peter Baker reads "Bush Spars with Critics of the War".

Shrillness arising, the man is desperate. Fortunes of Republican politicians are tied to him. They loyally fell behind to offer tortuous arguments that there were no lies, no deception leading to the decision to go to war. Too many facts are now available to whitewash the records. Let them try. The truth is out there.

Not easy for Democrats who didn't have the courage to take a stand. Back in August, Gary Hart, the former senator from Colarado said this in an op-ed piece "Who will say 'No more' " in the Washington Post:
  • "History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world, diverting Guard and reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War, accumulating staggering deficits, misdirecting revenue from education to rebuilding Iraqi buildings we've blown up, and weakening America's national security.
  • "But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? My generation of Democrats jumped on the hot stove of Vietnam and now, with its members in positions of responsibility, it is afraid of jumping on any political stove. In their leaders, the American people look for strength, determination and self-confidence, but they also look for courage, wisdom, judgment and, in times of moral crisis, the willingness to say: "I was wrong."
  • "To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly. In 2008 I want a leader who is willing now to say: "I made a mistake, and for my mistake I am going to Iraq and accompanying the next planeload of flag-draped coffins back to Dover Air Force Base. And I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me."

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Sunday - "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise"

Newsweek*Torture*John McCain*Naomi Klein*The Disc Jockey

Bright and mild morning. Temp. about 48 degrees F (9 deg.C). The sky is blue. One of those mornings when just looking out of the window makes me feel good.

Only a few weeks back the leaves of gingko trees alongside the street were green; almost overnight they turned yellow and now they have started to fall. The bulbs in my pocket size garden are emerging. Need a few rainy days before going out to forage for chanterelles in the foothills.

I have done with surfing the net, read the news. There is little to feel cheerful about. The violence and senseless loss of lives in Iraq. It saddens me every time I read about dead soldiers. Majority of them are in their twenties. Dead for what--lies spread by a group of men who stayed away from serving when they were young. And the monstrous budget deficit ! So what did the Republicans in Congress try to do to reduce spendings ? Zeroed in on cutting benefits for Medicaid recipients...people at the lowest end of the ladder ! So typical. But even with the majority they enjoy in both houses, the measure failed to gather enough support. They are back at the drawing board, cooking up plans to push it through by cutting deals with moderate Republican members.

It is heartening to know that the president and his men are not having an easy time answering the critics. Chickens come home to roost. They did their share and more of creating miseries for thousands of people here and abroad. It is fitting that they are in the proverbial "hot seat" trying to justify their actions. Bill Clinton faced impeachment for diddling with Monica Lewinski. G.W. Bush, responsible for deaths of more than 2,000 of our soldiers, and emptying the nation's coffers, continues to bluster. Things might catch up with him some day.

The Debate About Torture, by Evan Thomas and Michael Hirsh in Newsweek's online edition covers the "dark side of intelligence gathering".
  • "But at what cost? While many Americans probably don't wish to know too much about the "dark side" of intelligence gathering, the horrific images of tortured detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a terrible toll on America's standing in the world. "It's killing us," says Sen. John McCain of Arizona, whose NEWSWEEK essay on the subject follows this article."
At what cost ? Recommended reading Naomi Klein's "True Purpose of Torture", The Guardian,UK.

Plan to go out for a run. Like the late runner, author Dr. George Sheehan, my energy flows when the sun is in its azimuth. In the meantime, there is music for company. Bach is good at any time. But this morning I am in the mood for jazz. A mixed bag. Listened to The Very Best of Fats Waller,then John Coltrane's Blue Train; MJQ play "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" I have Arturo Sandoval's Evolution, and a few Cuban jazz CDs lined up for the rest of the morning: Introducing Ruben Gonzalez, piano (it has the classic "Siboney" composed by the great Ernesto Lecuona), and the Ry Cooder/Manuel Galban compilation Mambo Sinuendo.

"Tis a gift to be simple
Tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down
Where you ought to be...
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
We'll be in the valley of love and delight."
---A Shaker hymn


There is hope for Moderates

Their voices beginning to make an impact
Reason to cheer. The Washington Post report by Claudia Deane and Chris Cillizza reads "In the most recent ABC News poll, 44 percent of GOP moderates said that conservative religious groups have "too much influence" in the Bush administration, compared with 17 percent who thought those groups didn't hold enough sway. About a third saw religious conservatives as appropriately influential." It took a while but more and more Americans are questioning the Bush administration's outright support of the Christian right. To paraphrase the saying about the Moral Majority, "it is neither Christian nor right". G.W. Bush, the Born Again Christian, aligned himself with the zealots because he felt they held the key to the White House. Having let the Genie out of the bottle the president lost control of it. The fundamentalists took over and the president became their pawn.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


For G.W. Bush, A Bleak Winter Ahead ?

"What Goes Up Must Come Down"

Reading "The Autumn of Discontent" by Marcus Mabry in the online edition of Newsweek about the president's falling numbers in recent polls made me happy. Support for him is dwindling across the board. "Half of all Americans now believe he is not 'honest and ethical' ". He never was. It is amazing--the damage that G.W. Bush has caused during his presidency is unmatched. He is trying to claw his way back, using tactics that worked in the past. This time it might be difficult or unachievable. It took a while but people are finally beginning to see through him. The tragedy of 9/11 allowed him to exploit it to the fullest. He desperately needs an event to latch onto. No doubt he is praying for one. A hollow man.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Blogroll Me!