Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friends, bloggers, other visitors
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past."
T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, Four Quartets,1
To all visitors to this site--regulars, occasional, and accidental--good health. I no longer make New Year's resolutions but many people do. I wish them success. While globally there has not been much to rejoice about, individually many of you have had joyful experiences. Births, marriages, new friendships, travels, career achievements. Small things matter. I hope that those who needed support found it.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
The Seasons: Winter
O Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind ?"
---P.B. Shelley, Ode to West Wind
The gingko trees on the street lost all their leaves. The blankets of golden leaves no longer cover the ground; the storms blew them away. The bulbs that I planted in October are looking strong and healthy. Not too long before the blooms appear. The sweet peas are beginning to emerge. This is when they are most vulnerable to snails.
"The bottoms of my shoes
from walking in the rain."
---Jack Kerouac, 1964
"The desolation of winter
Passing through a small hamlet,
a dog barks."
---Shiki (translated by R.H. Blyth)
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Faith and Bigotry
If polls are right, somewhere along the way a large percentage of Americans embraced an arrogant, dogmatic interpretation of Christ and his teachings. G.W. Bush is the ideal ruler envisaged by Ezra Stile Ely. An avowed Born Again Christian, he champions their cause. In their world, there is only one way. From issues as diverse as right to die, women's right to choose, and teaching of evolution, to use of public grounds for display of religious symbols and statues, the zealots want to force the rest of us to accept their position. A fully supportive administration is doing all it can to destroy the barrier between church and state. Christian groups, including Catholics, have become actively involved in the political arena and political leaders are assiduously courting them. There is something very hollow about them. The same people are critical of other nations where the constitution is based on scriptures; where archaic laws and practices prevail; where religious minorites are persecuted. The fundamentalists are reported to be waiting for rapture...the Second coming of Christ when the true believers will ascend to heaven. Hope it happens soon.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
The Bush White House Lied......Again
NEW YORK (AP) — The National Security Agency has conducted much broader surveillance of e-mails and phone calls — without court orders — than the Bush administration has acknowledged, The New York Times reported on its website.
- Since the Times disclosed the domestic spying program last week, President Bush has stressed that his executive order allowing the eavesdropping was limited to people with known links to al-Qaeda.
- But the Times said that NSA technicians have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might lead to terrorists.
- The volume of information harvested from telecommunications data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the paper said, quoting an unnamed official.
"Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Friday, December 23, 2005
Peace, think Peace
"This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hallowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.
---William Stafford, USA (1914-1993)
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Spending Cuts Bill and what it means - The bottom line
"......that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.
- A sixth defection — by Sen. Norm Coleman of the sugar-beet-producing state of Minnesota — was headed off when Republican leaders restored $30 million in subsidies for sugar producers. "Sugar farmers will not face any cuts in this important agreement," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), "and Sen. Coleman will support the … package."
- "........the whole package would trim about $3 for every $1,000 the government would otherwise spend.
- In tandem with the spending-cut bill, Congress has prepared legislation to extend some of the temporary tax cuts that it enacted in 2001 and 2003. The spending bill would save $40 billion over the next five years. The tax bill, which Republican congressional leaders hope to bring to a vote early next year, would cost $70 billion.
- "Put the two together," said Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the top Budget Committee Democrat, "and guess what: You have increased the deficit, not reduced it."
- Much of the criticism of the measure came from groups speaking for the poor, the elderly and college students.
- "The provisions … would cause considerable hardship among low-income families and people who are elderly or have disabilities," said the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- Medicaid recipients, particularly those just above the poverty line, would have to pay more for their healthcare or accept fewer medical services. Some could be forced to pay as much as $100 for services that now cost $3, the center said.
- For elderly and disabled Medicare recipients, the premium that covers visits to the doctor would be increased.
- A previously enacted reduction of 4.4% in the fees received by doctors for treating Medicare patients would be erased.
Kangaroo Courts in the Land of Bush - "Darkness at Noon"
- Robertson indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been used to obtain FISA warrants. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who had been briefed on the spying program by the administration, raised the same concern in 2004 and insisted that the Justice Department certify in writing that it was not occurring.
- "They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants -- to kind of cleanse the information," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. "What I've heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin court."
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The "Freedom Fries" Gang and Their Budget Bill
- In an unusual pre-dawn vote yesterday, the House narrowly passed a broad five-year budget plan to cut spending on Medicaid, student loans and other entitlement programs by $39.7 billion. That 212 to 206 vote, concluded at 6:07 a.m., came one hour and three minutes after the House voted 308 to 106 on a 2006 defense spending bill that included a provision opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, a move long sought by President Bush, energy companies and Republican leaders.
Monday, December 19, 2005
"Who will watch the watchers ?"
From an editorial in the NY Times, Dec.18, 2005:
- Mr. Bush said he would not retract his secret directive or halt the illegal spying, so Congress should find a way to force him to do it. Perhaps the Congressional leaders who were told about the program could get the ball rolling.
December 18, 2005
Editorial NY Times
On Oct. 17, 2002, the head of the National Security Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, made an eloquent plea to a joint House-Senate inquiry on intelligence for a sober national discussion about whether the line between liberty and security should be shifted after the 9/11 attacks, and if so, precisely how far. He reminded the lawmakers that the rules against his agency's spying on Americans, carefully written decades earlier, were based on protecting fundamental constitutional rights.
If they were to be changed, General Hayden said, "We need to get it right. We have to find the right balance between protecting our security and protecting our liberty." General Hayden spoke of having a "national dialogue" and added: "What I really need you to do is talk to your constituents and find out where the American people want that line between security and liberty to be."
General Hayden was right. The mass murders of 9/11 revealed deadly gaps in United States intelligence that needed to be closed. Most of those involved failure of performance, not legal barriers. Nevertheless, Americans expected some reasonable and carefully measured trade-offs between security and civil liberties. They trusted their elected leaders to follow long-established democratic and legal principles and to make any changes in the light of day. But President Bush had other ideas. He secretly and recklessly expanded the government's powers in dangerous and unnecessary ways that eroded civil liberties and may also have violated the law.
In Friday's Times, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau reported that sometime in 2002, President Bush signed a secret executive order scrapping a painfully reached, 25-year-old national consensus: spying on Americans by their government should generally be prohibited, and when it is allowed, it should be regulated and supervised by the courts. The laws and executive orders governing electronic eavesdropping by the intelligence agency were specifically devised to uphold the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.
But Mr. Bush secretly decided that he was going to allow the agency to spy on American citizens without obtaining a warrant - just as he had earlier decided to scrap the Geneva Conventions, American law and Army regulations when it came to handling prisoners in the war on terror. Indeed, the same Justice Department lawyer, John Yoo, who helped write the twisted memo on legalizing torture, wrote briefs supporting the idea that the president could ignore the law once again when it came to the intelligence agency's eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mail messages.
"The government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties," he wrote.
Let's be clear about this: illegal government spying on Americans is a violation of individual liberties, whether conditions are troubled or not. Nobody with a real regard for the rule of law and the Constitution would have difficulty seeing that. The law governing the National Security Agency was written after the Vietnam War because the government had made lists of people it considered national security threats and spied on them. All the same empty points about effective intelligence gathering were offered then, just as they are now, and the Congress, the courts and the American people rejected them.
This particular end run around civil liberties is also unnecessary. The intelligence agency already had the capacity to read your mail and your e-mail and listen to your telephone conversations. All it had to do was obtain a warrant from a special court created for this purpose. The burden of proof for obtaining a warrant was relaxed a bit after 9/11, but even before the attacks the court hardly ever rejected requests.
The special court can act in hours, but administration officials say that they sometimes need to start monitoring large batches of telephone numbers even faster than that, and that those numbers might include some of American citizens. That is supposed to justify Mr. Bush's order, and that is nonsense. The existing law already recognizes that American citizens' communications may be intercepted by chance. It says that those records may be retained and used if they amount to actual foreign intelligence or counterintelligence material. Otherwise, they must be thrown out.
President Bush defended the program yesterday, saying it was saving lives, hotly insisting that he was working within the Constitution and the law, and denouncing The Times for disclosing the program's existence. We don't know if he was right on the first count; this White House has cried wolf so many times on the urgency of national security threats that it has lost all credibility. But we have learned the hard way that Mr. Bush's team cannot be trusted to find the boundaries of the law, much less respect them.
Mr. Bush said he would not retract his secret directive or halt the illegal spying, so Congress should find a way to force him to do it. Perhaps the Congressional leaders who were told about the program could get the ball rolling.
Same Sex Weddings - Across the Atlantic, Walls Come Tumbling Down
Like it or not, there is a wave of such unions to follow--almost 700 of them in England and Wales on Wednesday, 21st December. Yes, there were some protesters; the usual sin and damnation crowd. "The protesters, who gathered outside the city hall, demonstrated against the "sin" of homosexuality and the new legislation. They heckled Ms Close as she arrived for the ceremony. She told one protester: "God bless you ... I'll see you at the gates of heaven."
Sunday, December 18, 2005
The Right to Die - Switzerland Takes the Lead
--Charlotte Perkins Gilman, American author (1860-1935)
- A spokesman for the university hospital in Lausanne said the decision was taken after a long reflection.
- He added that the conditions for permitted an assisted suicide remained very strict.
- From the start of next year terminally ill patients in Lausanne's main hospital will be allowed to take their own lives on hospital premises, as long as they are of sound mind, are already too ill to return home, and have expressed a persistent wish to die.
- Senior doctors at Lausanne's hospital say the decision was taken after almost three years of consideration and reflects the position of the Swiss Medical Association and the National Committee on Ethics.
- Both bodies say that in order to respect the wishes and independence of patients assisted suicide should be permitted in exceptional cases, but that it should never become a routine procedure.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
"We the people" and George Bush's America
Reading "A Scoop Deferred" by Paul Farhi in the Post one gets the impression that it is not what he described that is important but what he left unsaid.
- Huey Long, known as "the Kingfish," dominated the state of Louisiana from 1928 until his assassination in 1935, at the age of 42. Simultaneously governor and a United States senator, the canny Kingfish uttered a prophecy that haunts me in this late summer of 2005, 70 years after his violent end: "Of course we will have fascism in America but we will call it democracy!"
- In 2005, what is self-reliance? I can recognise three prime stigmata of the American religion: spiritual freedom is solitude, while the soul's encounter with the divine (Jesus, the Paraclete, the Father) is direct and personal, and, most crucially, what is best and oldest in the American religionist goes back to a time-before-time, and so is part or particle of God. Every second year, the Gallup pollsters survey religion in the United States, and report that 93% of us believe in God, while 89% are certain that God loves him or her on a personal basis. And 45% of us insist that Earth was created precisely as described in Genesis and is only about 9,000 or fewer years old. The actual figure is 4.5 billion years, and some dinosaur fossils are dated as 190 million years back. Perhaps the intelligent designers, led by George W Bush, will yet give us a dinosaur Gospel, though I doubt it, as they, and he, dwell within a bubble that education cannot invade.
- Some of my friends and students suggest that Iraq is President Bush's white whale, but our leader is absurdly far from Captain Ahab's aesthetic dignity. The valid analogue is the Pequod; as Lawrence says: "America! Then such a crew. Renegades, castaways, cannibals, Ishmael, Quakers," and South Sea Islanders, Native Americans, Africans, Parsees, Manxmen, what you will. One thinks of our tens of thousands of mercenaries in Iraq, called "security employees" or "contractors". They mix former American Special Forces, Gurkhas, Boers, Croatians, whoever is qualified and available. What they lack is Captain Ahab, who could give them a metaphysical dimension.
- What Whitman meant (as Lawrence knew) was that the United States itself was to be the greatest of poems. But with that grand assertion, I find myself so overwhelmed by an uncomfortable sense of irony, that I cease these reflections. Shelley wore a ring, on which was inscribed the motto: "The good time will come." In September, the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying at Zion Church in Whistler, Alabama: "The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come on time if we just wait."
Friday, December 16, 2005
Members of the Choir - All Together Now
December 13, 2005
A Giant Among Pygmies - William J. Fulbright (1905-1995)
"Back in 1987, Senator Fulbright gave the commencement address at my graduation from U of Miami. It was an excellent speech that revealed a level of understanding of world affairs that is rare among the corridors of power in this country. After a 30-year Senate career, he died in 1995 at the age of 89.
"Excerpts from the Arrogance of Power are given below, which has striking relevance in the context of the current Iraq misadventure.
"On American foreign policy:
- Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily; a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But... when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism.
"Fulbright also related his opposition to any American tendencies to intervene in the affairs of other nations:
- Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God's work.
"He was a strong believer in international law:
- Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations. As a conservative power, the United States has a vital interest in upholding and expanding the reign of law in international relations. Insofar as international law is observed, it provides us with stability and order and with a means of predicting the behavior of those with whom we have reciprocal legal obligations. When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests."
Sources: Wikipedia.org CommonDreams.org
"It is a good thing the good senator is no more. Today's powers-that-be would have branded his words above as irresponsible, unpatriotic, unchristian, UN-loving, terrorist-supporting, michael moore-like claptrap. His tax records would have been audited by the IRS and his phones tapped by the FBI. O'Reilly would have called him 'Frenchie', Cheney would have called him 'dangerous', Rice ' a friend of Saddam', Limbaugh 'deliriously left-wing' and Gary Bauer 'gay'.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Democrats - Lost in Translation
E.J. Dionne wrote in the Washington Post:
"The real patriots are not those who fall into line behind everything Bush says. They are the Republican and Democratic doubters who have pressured Bush into realizing that he has limited time in Iraq and an imperative to speak more realistically. In his speech yesterday, Bush actually admitted that "things did not always go as planned" in Iraq and that last January's elections "were not without flaws." From an administration that never admits mistakes, that's progress.
It is not too late; there is hope.
A Soldier and His Son - Murder or Mercy Killing ?
Monday, December 12, 2005
Trouble in Paradise - Taprobane in Turmoil
Once known as Taprobane, then Ceylon, the island was renamed Sri Lanka after it became free of British rule in 1948.
I have fond memories of the island and the people I came to know during a visit in 1984. I wrote about it in November 2004, A Man named Gunasekhara and a troubled island.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Chile - Winds of Change
The wheels of justice moved slowly but they moved. General Augusto Pinochet, the former military ruler, is facing human rights charges. He was one of our favorite dictators in Latin America. He was aided and abetted by us, under the guidance of Henry Kissinger, in torturing and killing dissidents. Good news indeed for the Chileans. They can also expect their next elected head of state to be a woman who is refreshingly different. This is from a report in the Washington Post by Monte Reel. "
SANTIAGO, Chile -- Everyone in the audience was dressed in dark blue or black. Some wore clerical collars, and most had heavy silver crosses dangling around their necks. But Michelle Bachelet wore an electric pink jacket that sent a clear message: She was a candidate for president, not sainthood.
"I'm agnostic. . . . I believe in the state," Bachelet told several groups of evangelical ministers last week. "I believe the state has an important role in guaranteeing the diversity of men and women in Chile -- their different spiritualities, philosophies and ways of life."
Saturday, December 10, 2005
"Did you kiss the dead body" - Harold Pinter's Speech at Nobel Awards Ceremony
- 'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'
- I have referred to death quite a few times this evening. I shall now quote a poem of my own called 'Death'.
Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?
Who was the dead body?
Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?
Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?
Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?
Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body
- When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror - for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.
- I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
- If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.
© The Nobel Foundation 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
"Brokeback Mountain", A Film About Gay Cowboys
Ang Lee's new film, Brokeback Mountain will soon be released in local theaters. This isn't a review of the movie (reviews are available on the web). JHL and I have watched the preview clips screened before other films that we went to see, and it is on our list of "must see". We have read the short story by Annie Proulx which was adapted by Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana for the screenplay. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger play the roles of Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar. The story is in the volume titled "Close Range, Wyoming Stories", published in 1999.
Back in the 80's during a business trip to Singapore, my friends took me out one evening to listen to the Singapore Cowboys. Not sure but I think it was in the Mandarin Hotel where the group appeared on a regular basis. I was not a country western fan then and not one now but I like Willie Nelson's music. The Singapore Cowboys were taking requests. I sent a note and very soon they launched into "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys".
Don't let them pick guitars and drive in old trucks,
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such.
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
They'll never stay home and they're always alone,
Even with someone they love."
--Written by Ed and Patsy Bruce, recorded by Willie Nelson in 1980.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Back to Los Trancos Trail
Here are two great photographs taken inside Foothills Park. Thanks to Scott Haefner and Harold Poskanzer who graciously gave permission to reproduce them.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 lge garlic cloves, minced
Sml pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1.5 lb Roma tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded, diced (canned OK)
About 1 tspn fennel seed, ground fine in a mortar or spice grinder (I lightly toast the seeds)
2 tblspoon chopped fennel fronds
1 can (200 gms) olive oil packed tuna, drained and flaked
2 doz green or black olives, pitted, quartered
1 lb penne
Heat the olive oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a large skillet until the the garlic just starts to color. Add the tomatoes, fennel seed, fennel fronds and
salt to taste.
Cook gently until the tomatoes soften but don't allow them to collapse into a sauce. Remove from heat and add the tuna and olives. Keep warm.
Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss, add some of the reserved water if needed.
1. Serves 4-6
2. The fennel is important, substitution will not create the right flavor
3. Good quality water-packed tuna can be used but first it will have to be drained, doused liberally with extra virgin olive oil and kept overnight to allow the oil to soak in.
We had sweet baguette, home made avocado dip, and a California merlot. Sitting in a small meadow on a cold but sunny day it felt good. All was right with the world.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Democrats: Pussyfooting Around The Iraq War
So far in December 19 more soldiers have died. The total is now at 2132. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties.org
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Good Soldier Rice and the Tortuous Definition of Torture
Reading "Rice Defends Tactics Used Against Suspects" by Glen Kessler in the Washington Post reminded me of former President Clinton's statement during his appearance before the grand jury about the Monica Lewinsky affair. "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." Then there is always the admirable Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson): "Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Alice in Wonderland.
See"The defining of torture in a new world war
By Paul Reynolds
World Affairs correspondent", BBC News website
- But as she set off a European visit during which the rendition flights and the ultimate aim of such flights will be a key issue, the Secretary of State stressed several times that the United States did not engage in torture.
- And it is really the torture issue which is the key. If the flights were simply for the purpose of moving prisoners between open court systems, nobody would complain.
- It is the idea that they are tortured in secret detention camps that has concerned critics and has forced Ms Rice to issue her statement.
Britain's role in war on Terror - The Guardian, UK
Ms Rice in her furious best; don't miss the cartoon by Martin Rowson (The Guardian).
Monday, December 05, 2005
Republican Mavericks Lindsay Graham, John Sununu
- Sununu has taken the lead in a group of senators pressing for changes in the Patriot Act, the legislation expanding FBI powers that the administration rushed through Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Many of the changes they wanted were made in the Senate bill, but administration objections have stymied their acceptance in a House-Senate conference.
- For Graham, the issue is the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other (still secret) overseas facilities. Like 89 other senators, he supported McCain's legislation barring the use of torture orthe extreme measures publicized at Abu Ghraib.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
"Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" ? * Autumn Haikus
"Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" by the British author Alan Sillitoe was published in 1959. A book of short stories that included the title piece. The story was made into a great B&W film (1962) in which the actor Tom Courtney made his mark. One of the "angry young men" in post World War II England, Sillitoe's books reflected the angst of the British working class. I remember the powerful effect of his first book, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1958). That, too, was made into a film.
"The winds that blow--
ask them which leaf of the tree
will be next to go !"
--Soseki (translated by Harold Henderson)
"The falling leaves
fall and pile up: the rain
beats on the rain."
--Gyodai (translated by Harold Henderson)
Running Runner's High Alan Sillitoe
Saturday, December 03, 2005
"Planted reports" Par for the Course
Stop the Slaughter - Democrats, Stand up and be Counted
In "Up In The Air", current online edition of The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh describes plans for increasing use of airpower in an effort to minimize army casualties at the risk of more civilian deaths. Excerpts:
- One person with whom the Pentagon’s top commanders have shared their private views for decades is Representative John Murtha, of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The President and his key aides were enraged when, on November 17th, Murtha gave a speech in the House calling for a withdrawal of troops within six months. The speech was filled with devastating information. For example, Murtha reported that the number of attacks in Iraq has increased from a hundred and fifty a week to more than seven hundred a week in the past year. He said that an estimated fifty thousand American soldiers will suffer “from what I call battle fatigue” in the war, and he said that the Americans were seen as “the common enemy” in Iraq. He also took issue with one of the White House’s claims—that foreign fighters were playing the major role in the insurgency. Murtha said that American soldiers “haven’t captured any in this latest activity”—the continuing battle in western Anbar province, near the border with Syria. “So this idea that they’re coming in from outside, we still think there’s only seven per cent.”
- Robert Pape, a political-science professor at the University of Chicago, who has written widely on American airpower, and who taught for three years at the Air Force’s School of Advanced Airpower Studies, in Alabama, predicted that the air war “will get very ugly” if targeting is turned over to the Iraqis. This would be especially true, he said, if the Iraqis continued to operate as the U.S. Army and Marines have done—plowing through Sunni strongholds on search-and-destroy missions. “If we encourage the Iraqis to clear and hold their own areas, and use airpower to stop the insurgents from penetrating the cleared areas, it could be useful,” Pape said. “The risk is that we will encourage the Iraqis to do search-and-destroy, and they would be less judicious about using airpower—and the violence would go up. More civilians will be killed, which means more insurgents will be created.”
Friday, December 02, 2005
A Bloody November - We Lost 84 Soldiers
"Older men declare war. But its the youth who must fight and die!" - Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States
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 "Tony" Mendez Sanchez, 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
Jeremy E. Murray, 27, Marine Sergeant, Nov 16, 2005
Jeffry A. Rogers, 21, Marine Corporal, Nov 16, 2005
Joshua J. Ware, 20, Marine Corporal, Nov 16, 2005
Ivan Vargas Alarcon, 23, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 17, 2005
Vernon R. Widner, 34, Army Specialist, Nov 17, 2005
Anthony Alexander "Alex" Gaunky, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 18, 2005
Luis R. Reyes, 26, Army National Guard Sergeant, Nov 18, 2005
Christopher M. Alcozer, 21, Army Private, Nov 19, 2005
Jonathan F. Blair, 21, Army Corporal, Nov 19, 2005
Dominic Joseph Hinton, 24, Army Specialist, Nov 19, 2005
Michael J. Idanan, 21, Army Specialist, Nov 19, 2005
Edward Karolasz, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 19, 2005
Anthony R. C. Yost, 39, Army Master Sergeant, Nov 19, 2005
Dennis W. Zilinski, 23, Army 1st Lieutenant, Nov 19, 2005
Miguel Terrazas, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 19, 2005
Tyler J. Troyer, 21, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 19, 2005
Dominic J. Sacco, 32, Army Sergeant, Nov 20, 2005
John Wilson "J.W." Dearing, 21, Army National Guard Private 1st Class, Nov 21, 2005
Denis J. Gallardo, 22, Army Sergeant, Nov 22, 2005
Aram J. Bass, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 23, 2005
Allen J. Knop, 22, Army Specialist, Nov 23, 2005
William B. Meeuwsen, 24, Army Sergeant, Nov 23, 2005
Ryan D. Christensen, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 24, 2005
Marc A. Delgado, 21, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 24, 2005
Eric P. Pearrow, 40, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Nov 24, 2005
Steven C. Reynolds, 32, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 24, 2005
Javier A. Villanueva, 25, Army Specialist, Nov 24, 2005
Gregory L. Tull, 20, Army National Guard Specialist, Nov 25, 2005
Brett E. Angus, 40, Marine Master Sergeant, Nov 26, 2005
Donald J. Hasse, 28, Army Sergeant, Nov 29, 2005
Jerry W. Mills Jr., 23, Army Sergeant, Nov 29, 2005
Joshua D. Snyder, 20, Marine Corporal, Nov 30, 2005 .
Thursday, December 01, 2005
"A Real Strategy ?" Or More of the Same
Reading the column by Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey in Newsweek made me think that the question that we must ask is "Can we believe what he says?" There is a wide chasm between reading a speech at Annapolis and past actions, or lack thereof, by President Bush. By now majority of Americans know of the lies and deceptions that went into the misadventure in Iraq. We are paying for it and shall go on paying for it long after the president's second term ends. The rosy picture he drew about conditions in Iraq was far from the truth. And where is VP "....the insurgents are in their last throes" Cheney ? Just this morning we read about concerted mortar attacks by insurgents in Ramadi. Then, of course, there is 9/11. That cow has been milked so often and so hard that it must be screaming. The president isn't about to give up tactics that served him so well in the past. But even that is beginning to lose its impact. What is he to do!
So commented Professor Martin Van Creveld of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, in the American Jewish Weekly "Forward". Also see Brian Whitaker's article "Nowhere to run" in the Guardian. "There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward. It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them".