,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) - A Giant Passes Away


Countless articles will appear about the great Swedish film maker, many by people who are far more knowledgeable than I am. As my tribute to Bergman, I decided to republish what I wrote on March 17, 2006.

Bach and Bergman, Not Bush and Bombs

A grey and wet St. Patrick's Day morning. The weather pundits were right; rain and more rain. Two days before spring solstice, it is unusual weather for us in the San Francisco Bay area. Couldn't escape reading about the president but decided to stay away from him in my blog. He is mentioned but just in passing....in an item about Jessica Simpson, that she dodged an appearance at The White House. I am not familiar with her music but she looked pretty and wholesome in Washington Post. My favorite music: Bach, jazz, and blues. Recently, I watched a movie (Swedish, with sub-titles) that is not only named Saraband, Bach's cello suite is a part of the story and could be heard in the background. Made for Swedish TV, 86-year old Ingmar Bergman returned as director (he was also the author) for this 2005 sequel to his acclaimed 1973 production Scenes From A Marriage. While I wished that the story ended differently, it was a feast. Bergman announced that Saraband was his last appearance as a director. Magnificent.

Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann in Saraband - © Sony Pictures Classics

Julia Dufvenius and Börje Ahlsted - © Sony Pictures Classics

Ingmar Bergman © Sony Pictures Classics

Liv Ullmann Marianne--Lawyer
Erland Josephson Johan--Professor Emeritus
Borje Ahlstedt Henrik--Professor
Julia Dufvenius Karin--Cellist

I am listening to Bach's Concerto in C Minor, Allegro, Band III. An old LP titled Two Concertos For Two Harpischords & Orchestra. George Malcolm and Simon Preston conducted by Yehudi Menhuin.

Monday, July 23, 2007


The Tour Guide Returns to Rant Against the War


How does it feel to meet a friend after 38 years? We had been exchanging Christmas greetings and e-mail. On a few occasions we talked on the phone. My friend, Pat, visited Los Angeles a few years ago but I couldn't go there. I was excited about meeting her when she informed me of her plan to visit San Francisco.

It is a long way from Calcutta (Kolkata), India, to Perth, West Australia. That is where Pat and her family moved to in 1969. Pat is traveling with a woman friend who lives in Melbourne, Australia. All of us worked together at one time.

JHL and I met them in San Francisco on Sunday and took them to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a warm, sunny afternoon. Sail boats dotted the bay. The bridge, as it often happens, was partially shrouded in fog. A breath-taking sight nevertheless for tourists as well as the natives. And they were there in droves. The walkway was crowded with people. Runners on the walkway reminded me of times when I had done that. Then we drove down to Sausalito for lunch at Paradise Cove. In no time at all the intervening years disappeared.

We plan to make a trip south to Monterey Bay and Carmel before they take off for Toronto.

Returning to the blogosphere after an absence of four days I see that nothing has changed. Majority of Americans are still against continuation of the president's war despite a barrage of warnings about al-Qaeda. The commander-in-chief, of course, is sticking to his position. The good news, if one can call it that, is that so far in July the number of casualties in Iraq -- both civilian and military -- is lower than in previous months. But the month is not over.

And the sanctimonious David Vitter, Republican senator from Louisiana, is back. Argh!

Listening to Blues By Muddy Waters: Track 16 - I Be Bound to Write to You

Second Guitar: Charles Berrry, The Plantation Recordings, The Historical 1941-1942 Library of Congress Field Recordings by Alan Lomax

Friday, July 20, 2007


Defeat for General Musharraf

And In the domestic front, the Bushies have found the enemy

By ruling against President Musharraf in the case about constitutionality of the sacking of chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Pakistan's supreme Court sent a clear signal. It is, of course, a major defeat for General Musharraf who wants to continue military rule in Pakistan. Our government is a strong backer of Musharraf because of his role in the fight against terror. When it comes to such things we pay lip service to democracy and rights of the people. Nothing new about that.

Many of us have been saying the same thing but Keith Olbermann of MSNBC does it better. His scathing indictment of the president and his cohorts in Countdown should be a must read for all who oppose what they have done in Iraq.


Go to Iraq and fight, Mr. President

It is one of the great, dark, evil lessons, of history.

A country — a government — a military machine — can screw up a war seven ways to Sunday. It can get thousands of its people killed. It can risk the safety of its citizens. It can destroy the fabric of its nation.

But as long as it can identify a scapegoat, it can regain or even gain power.

The Bush administration has opened this Pandora’s Box about Iraq. It has found its scapegoats: Hillary Clinton and us.

The lies and terror tactics with which it deluded this country into war — they had nothing to do with the abomination that Iraq has become. It isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.

The selection of the wrong war, in the wrong time, in the wrong place — the most disastrous geopolitical tactic since Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia in 1914 and destroyed itself in the process — that had nothing to do with the overwhelming crisis Iraq has become. It isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.


The continuing, relentless, remorseless, corrupt and cynical insistence that this conflict somehow is defeating or containing or just engaging the people who attacked us on 9/11, the total “Alice Through the Looking Glass” quality that ignores that in Iraq, we have made the world safer for al-Qaida — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault!

Sen. Clinton has been sent — and someone has leaked to The Associated Press — a letter, sent in reply to hers asking if there exists an actual plan for evacuating U.S. troops from Iraq.

This extraordinary document was written by an undersecretary of defense named Eric Edelman.

“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq,” Edelman writes, “reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.”

And now Mr. Bush, you have picked out your own Jefferson Davis, your own Dreyfus, your own “profiteer” — your own scapegoat.

Not for the sake of this country.

Not for the sake of Iraq.

Not even for the sake of your own political party.

But for the sake of your own personal place in history.


You have set this government at war against its own people and then blamed those very people when they say, “Enough.”


This, sir, is your war.

Sen. Clinton has reinforced enemy propaganda? Made it impossible for you to get your ego-driven, blood-steeped win in Iraq?

Then take it into your own hands, Mr. Bush.

Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations.

Go there and fight, your war. Yourself.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Alarms and Diversions: They are coming, they are coming


The juju men are at it again. Their empire is crumbling. The president's support is ebbing away even among his hardcore followers. So the masters of dirty tricks brought out the cash cows -- 9/11 and threat of terrorism -- to recoup lost grounds. Time is running out and they are desperate. The rhetoric has changed. The bravado is missing. No more "Bring them on" (President Bush July 2, 2003) and "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." (VP Cheney June 20, 2005). Now they are ratcheting up the fear factor; if we don't fight them there (in Iraq) we'll be fighting them here in America.

The ploy worked in the past and paid them dividends. Following the president's press conference on July 12th, neocons are coming out of the woodworks to stress the threat from al-Qaeda, specifically al-Qaeda in Iraq. Iraq exposed the neocons' lies. It is in Iraq where more than 3900 of our soldiers have lost their lives; many more thousands injured. It is in Iraq that our money is going down a dark hole, billions of it.

All of a sudden there are reports from various sources about al-Qaeda's growing strength and plans to hit us in America. The usual suspects have joined in the campaign.

Despite all that is known about the lies and deceptions used to take the nation to war some Americans still believe in them, and they will buy it. Maybe it will give the neocons time to cook up something to buttress their position. There is nothing new about the fact that Islamic fundos want to harm America. It is also conceivable that the neocons are hoping for something to happen. There is a strong smell of orchestration in the recent warnings about threats of terrorist attacks. Before they go out kicking and screaming at the end of the Bush presidency they will do everything possible to muzzle dissent and sabotage the growing opposition to their pet war.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Passages: July 2007

A Great Summer Movie on Video - House of Angels

It never fails. One morning you wake up and think where did the days go. Almost a month past the beginning of summer. So much to do and so little time, especially for those who work and have children.

For the rest of us things are different, easier. We have time to do whatever we want to do. So far the season has been good. Walks, picnics, gathering of friends. For me, on some days just looking out of the window at the passing scene is a pleasant activity. Guess one has to be somewhat lazy by nature to enjoy it.

In a few more weeks there will be the annual trip to the coast. On some days, Pajaro Dunes can be cold and foggy in the midst of summer but that never deters us from us enjoying ourselves.

Before that I'll be tour guide for a few days for friends coming to San Francisco from Down Under --- Perth, Australia. We'll be meeting after almost 40 years. There will be a lot to talk about.

Colin Nutley's House of Angels (Änglagård,1992, also known as Englegård)

British film director Colin Nutley, married to the Swedish actress Helena Bergstrom, has made a number of movies with Bergstrom in the leading role. I felt a little sad when "House of Angels" ended. It is a 'feel good' movie and the story takes place in summer.

Helena Bergstrom and Rikard Wolff in House of Angels © IMDB

Swedish with English sub-titles. Check it out.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


The Dehumanizing War


"Dear America, When Will This Cruel War Be Over?", . "At times I feel like I am a thousand years old---that is what this cruel war has done to me."
--The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson,Gordonsville,Virginia,1864

He keeps trying, the warrior president. The president who gave us Niger yellow cake uranium and Saddam Hussein's non-existent WMD, is ramping up the threat from al-Qaeda. His position that if we don't fight them there (in Iraq) we'll have to face them here is not accepted by many experts about terrorism and the middle-east.

NY Times July 13, 2007

The 'Third Constituency'

In his press conference on July 12th, President Bush said: "A third constituency that matters to me a lot is military families. These are good folks who are making huge sacrifices, and they support their loved ones. And I don't think they want their commander in chief making decisions based upon popularity." - Washington Post - CQ Transcripts Wire, July 12, 2007

There can be no questions about "huge sacrifices" and "support their loved ones". But how do they really feel about the commander in chief? Some military families no doubt back the president. Then there are soldiers and their families who are no longer with him. The Nation has published an article by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian based on interviews with 50 Iraq war veterans whose comments about the war are completely different than that of the president. The full report can be read in The Nation. It was reproduced in The Guardian (UK) in three parts.

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness - The Nation

Over the past several months The Nation interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.

Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.

Terrifying house raids; random checkpoint shootings; speeding convoys that wipe out anyone in their path. Interviews with 50 US war veterans back from Iraq reveal the terrible daily brutality they inflicted on innocent civilians. A unique investigation by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian - The Guardian

"I'll tell you the point where I really turned," said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. "I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg.... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn't crying, wasn't anything, it just looked at me like--I know she couldn't speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?... I was just like, This is--this is it. This is ridiculous."

In June 2003 Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejía's unit was pressed by a furious crowd in Ramadi. Sergeant Mejía, 31, a National Guardsman from Miami, served for six months beginning in April 2003 with the 1-124 Infantry Battalion, Fifty-Third Infantry Brigade. His squad opened fire on an Iraqi youth holding a grenade, riddling his body with bullets. Sergeant Mejía checked his clip afterward and calculated that he had personally fired eleven rounds into the young man.

"The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them," Sergeant Mejía said.

We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photo­graphs, that some soldiers had so lost their moral compass that they'd mocked or desecrated Iraqi corpses. One photo, among dozens turned over to The Nation during the investigation, shows an American soldier acting as if he is about to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi man with his brown plastic Army-issue spoon.

"Take a picture of me and this motherfucker," a soldier who had been in Sergeant Mejía's squad said as he put his arm around the corpse. Sergeant Mejía recalls that the shroud covering the body fell away, revealing that the young man was wearing only his pants. There was a bullet hole in his chest.

"Damn, they really fucked you up, didn't they?" the soldier laughed.

The scene, Sergeant Mejía said, was witnessed by the dead man's brothers and cousins.


Thursday, July 12, 2007


The Pinstriped, Gucci Clad Thugs of Bush White House


Confederacy of Goons

Reports about the muzzling of Dr. Richard Carmona, former surgeon general, shed more light on the zealots in the White House. Dr. Carmona was a Bush nominee and served from 2002 to 2006. Makes one think of a mafia capo telling the underlings "Go, lean on him". Fired up by the devout, born again Christian president, they probably didn't need any urging.

Los Angeles Times 7/11/07

  • WASHINGTON — President Bush's first surgeon general testified Tuesday that his speeches were censored to match administration political positions and that he was prevented from giving the public accurate scientific information on issues such as stem cell research and teen pregnancy prevention.
  • "Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard H. Carmona, who was surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, told a congressional committee. "The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation — not the doctor of a political party."
  • Early in the administration, when the issue of federal funding for stem cell research arose, Carmona said, he felt he could play an educational role by discussing the latest scientific research. Instead, he said, he was told to "stand down" because the White House already had made a decision to limit stem cell studies. He said administration appointees who reviewed his speech texts deleted references to stem cells.
  • Carmona's remarks were the latest in a series of complaints from government scientists about what they say are administration efforts to control — and sometimes distort — scientific evidence in order to support policy decisions.
Another Republican Hypocrite Exposed

It never fails. Every time they get caught in a sexual scandal Republican politicians immediately turn to god and seek forgiveness. It must be getting tiring for the almighty. God is said to be 'all forgiving' but surely can see through blatant hypocrisy. One gets the impression that the deeply religious politicians might know what sin is but they don't have a clue about the difference between right and wrong.

Adam Nossiter in NY Times 7/11/07:

  • NEW ORLEANS, July 10 — From the beginning of his political career 16 years ago, Senator David Vitter has been known for efforts to plant himself on the moral high ground, challenging the ethics of other Louisiana politicians, decrying same-sex marriage and depicting himself as a clean-as-a-whistle champion of family values.
  • “I’m a conservative who opposes radically redefining marriage, the most important social institution in human history,” Mr. Vitter, a 46-year-old Republican, wrote in a letter last year to The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans daily.
  • That self-created image, a political winner here since 1991, when Mr. Vitter joined the Louisiana House, took a tumble Monday with the disclosure that his phone number was among those on a list of client numbers kept by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, who is accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington.
If you feel like puking, go ahead. What did this paragon of virtue, champion of moral values, said after he was exposed:

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in a statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way." (Jake Tapper - ABC News)

Read that they were "circling the wagons". Do I hear "Praise the Lord and pass the rubbers"? But to them condoms are sinful. So pass on STDs and promote unwanted pregnancies would be more like it.

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
----Lewis Carroll (1832–1898), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, chapter 4 (1865).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Old Khayyám and I

A Walk at Skyline Ridge - Summer 2007

We go back a long way, old Khayyám of Nishapur and I. It was before I knew the taste of wine. But the first time I read Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám I got hooked. The versions mentioned below relate to Edward FitzGerald's translations of the Rubaiyat. Omar Khayyám. of course, was dead for centuries (died in 1131 according to some accounts) when I read him but that is not important. In some ways he was a kindred spirit. A man of many talents who wrote about wine and women.....and didn't seem to pay any heed to the scriptures. Perhaps that is why I like his writing.

Wonder how he got away with it. In today's world of Islamic fundos there would be a fatwa on his head. Perhaps the fact that he was a renowned astronomer and mathematician, in the good graces of the ruler (Vizier), protected him from their wrath. Or maybe there were enlightened mullahs in Persia, if such a thing was possible.

"Alike for those who for today prepare,
And those that after some tomorrow stare,
A Muezzin from the tower of darkness cries,
'Fools! Your reward is neither here nor there'. "
--Second Version, 1868

Edward FitzGerald (31 March June 1883), the superb translator of the Rubaiyat, was reported to be a dour man who lived the life of an ascetic.

Here we are in July and the weather continues to be mild. Unusual, but I'm not complaining. Arani Sinha and I went on a great hike (up Stevens Creek Canyon and down) on Sunday. Yesterday, JHL and I drove up Page Mill Road to hike at Skyline Ridge, one of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) preserves. Alpine Pond is barely 200 yards from the parking lot. We followed the Ridge Trail to Horseshoe Lake, about 1.5 miles and found a shady place to sit down for lunch.

Alpine Pond Visitor's Center
©Musafir July 9,2007

Alpine Pond
©Musafir July 9,2007

Looking west toward the coast
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Horseshoe Lake
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Horseshoe Lake, another view
©Musafir July 9,2007

JHL on the Ridge Trail
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Time for wild flowers is past but we saw some sticky monkeys, patches of clarkias and a place where there were a few penstemmons.
Penstemmons alongside Ridge Trail
©Musafir July 9, 2007

Patch of Clarkias (Farewell to Spring) ©Musafir July 9, 2007

Picnic by the lake
©Musafir July 9, 2007

With a glass of wine...for Old Khayyám
©JHL July 9, 2007

We had penne and shrimps in a tomato, garlic, basil sauce; rosemary flavored ciabatta from Grace Bakery; large slices of tomato drizzled with olive oil, salt and julienned basil (the juice from the tomato mixes with the oil and makes a great sauce to dip the bread); and fresh figs baked with just a small amount of honey and lavender sprigs -- a little cream can be added at the end for richness (I had it for dessert somewhere in Provence and my efforts come pretty close to the taste I remember). All washed down with a sauvignon blanc, followed by JHL's strong dark roast coffee from Peets. It cannot get any better.

We then continued on down to Lambert Creek. It is a one-way trail and we had to exert ourselves to walk back up to the Ridge Trail on the return leg. Hiking poles helped.

There are times when old Khayyám reappears, and the picnic by the lake yesterday was one of those.

"Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough
A flask of wine, a book of verse--and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness

And wilderness is paradise enow."
-- First Version, 1859

Well, the birds did the singing.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Morning News: Impeachment and DHS

And a Poem by Marvin Bell

Demands for impeachment -- of Bush and Cheney -- have gained traction in recent days and Cindy Sheehan is doing her bit.

Do I support her? Yes. Do I think that Bush and Cheney will be impeached? No, not as things stand today.However, the fact that more and more Americans are joining the call for impeachment is cause for rejoicing.

The same people responsible for botched up handling of relief work after Katrina are back in the news.

Another issue for Democratic legislators to run with but the outcome is predictable. The president will speak highly of its work and DHS will continue as it has done in the past.

The report about DHS reminded me of a poem by Marvin Bell that appeared in The New Yorker, June 4th issue. Knew that I had put it aside; I found it. Worth reading and thinking about.


Two owls have perched at the property line,
and a scraping on the porch means the postman
is wiping his shoes before continuing
across the yards, three homes worth' worth of catalogues
and ads, and the occasional letter, all cradled
in the crook of one elbow. I'll be getting an offer
of money, a map to riches, a new future
that has come out of the blue. Today I finger
each envelope before opening, and I admit
I feel for wires and beads of plastic explosive
amid the saliva. The daily rags speak
of a dirty bomb. The government tells me live
in a wooden house with a hurricane lamp,
a gas mask, and flares, while it arms
an impervious underground temple from which
it can map the surface, choose a site
anywhere on the globe, and call down the rain."

-- Marvin Bell

Poets.Org Re: Marvin Bell - "He is a long time member of the faculty of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he is the Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters. In March 2000 he was selected to be Iowa's first Poet Laureate."

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Blues Piano

© www.mosaicrecords.com/images/ammonslewisbn.jpg

Saturday morning. Brought out an album of LP's that I hadn't listened to for a long time. CD's are convenient to pop in and out and these days the LP's often lie neglected. I cannot be the only one who finds himself in that situation. But there are aficionados out there who have high-priced turntables and treasured LP's that are loved, cared for, and listened to with pleasure and respect. I admire them.

I'm listening to Mosaic Records' excellent remastered issue of The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. The boxed set (No.1367) was ordered from Mosaic Records, Santa Monica, CA, around 1984, not long after Michael Cuscuna and Charlie Lourie launched the admirable venture.

What brought this about? Simple. A friend lent me the video of Scorsese's The Blues - Piano Blues directed by Clint Eastwood. Watched it last night and thought about some of the albums by artists who appeared or were talked about in the documentary.

Currently on the turntable: Solitude, Side IV, Track 3. Sweet sound.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Dying for the Commander in Chief

The War In Iraq

"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign-policy matters with war on my mind." (President Bush, Meet the Press, MSNBC News Feb.8,2004)

30 year old Army Sergeant David B. Parson died in Iraq on July 6, 2003, the first year of the war. The death toll then was 208. Now, in the 5th year of the president's war 13 American soldiers lost their lives in the first five days of July. The total as of July 5th: 3592 and climbing. Source: iCasualties.org

Our solders are dying -- every day -- in Iraq. Are they dying for their country or are they dying for a president who, according to even some of his staunchest supporters in the past, is not willing or able to face reality. The President, reportedly, does not pay attention to casualties reported in the press. Perhaps he doesn't. And he has avoided attending funeral services for soldiers. But the casualty figures cannot be buried, they cannot be shrugged off.

The president goes on selling his war. The smirk is no longer visible but he continues to play the "fear" card. In his July 4th speech the president compared the war in Iraq with the War of Independence!

Washington Post
  • MARTINSBURG, W.Va., July 4 -- President Bush warned Wednesday that the Iraq war "will require more patience, more courage and more sacrifice," as he appealed to a war-weary public for time and sought to link today's conflict to the storied battles that gave birth to the nation.
  • In an Independence Day address before members of the National Guard and their families, the president again painted a dire portrait of the consequences of pulling out of Iraq, asserting as he has before that "terrorists and extremists" would try to strike inside the United States. - Washington Post

Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico joined other senators who, in recent days, became critical of the president's war.

Washington Post
  • "I have carefully studied the Iraq situation, and believe we cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress to move its country forward," Domenici said. "I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home."

"Domenici's defection is the latest from a growing number of senior Senate Republicans who have decided to oppose the White House's preferred plan of waiting for a mid-September progress report on the effectiveness of Bush's "surge" plan of boosting the U.S. deployment in Iraq this year by tens of thousands of troops.

Rather than wait for that report, to be drafted by the administration, Domenici and other senior Republicans have called for a change in course this summer in advance of the coming legislative fight this month in the Senate on the authorization bill for the Pentagon.

"I am unwilling to continue our current strategy," Domenici said flatly, blaming the Iraqi government for its inability to get its internal administration in order.

Early last week Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the leading Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a rebuke to the White House with a more than 5,000-word address on the Senate floor declaring that the surge was not working and that the "current path" on Iraq was not acceptable. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), the former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, applauded Lugar's speech and said he would offer his own amendments calling for a change in policy during the defense authorization debate next week.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Scooter Libby, Bill Clinton, and Republicans


The very people who went amuck to impeach President Clinton for diddling with Monica Lewinsky in the White House are rejoicing about commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence by President Bush.

The president's decision was not a real surprise. He was under tremendous pressure. Now that his presidency is more or less finished in terms of significant achievements, he does not have much to lose from the reaction to his decision. On the other hand, it made the conservatives happy. Above all, it made the vice president happy.

But going back to Bill Clinton, was it envy that drove the Republicans? Possible. There is plenty of unfulfilled fantasies behind their holier than thou facade.

"The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth."
----Albert Camus, Winner of 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature)


Uneasy summer for G.W. Bush


The paragraph that sticks out in Peter Baker's report in the Post is that the president is "fixated on Iraq". Since he, more than anyone else, is responsible for creating the bloody mess he ought to be concerned about it. According to iCasualties.org, the death toll for American soldiers (101) in June was mercifully less than the numbers for May and April. The president's fixation comes with tunnel vision -- he was right, he is right, and he will continue with his war until the end of his presidency.

Bush is fixated on Iraq, according to friends and advisers. One former aide went to see him recently to discuss various matters, only to find Bush turning the conversation back to Iraq again and again. He recognizes that his presidency hinges on whether Iraq can be turned around in 18 months. "Nothing matters except the war," said one person close to Bush. "That's all that matters. The whole thing rides on that."

And yet Bush does not come across like a man lamenting his plight. In public and in private, according to intimates, he exhibits an inexorable upbeat energy that defies the political storms. Even when he convenes philosophical discussions with scholars, he avoids second-guessing his actions. He still acts as if he were master of the universe, even if the rest of Washington no longer sees him that way.

Soon the president will take off for his vacation. No doubt his aides are putting together the tomes that he will take with him for reading in Crawford. No light reading for our intellectual president. He has hidden depths. The summer reading list of G.W. Bush never fails to amuse.

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