,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Democrats, "Beware the Ides of March"

Democrats in Ohio are still reported to be for Hillary Clinton. But her lead has slipped to a point (about 5%) where it is no longer "safe". Outcome in Texas is up in the air. March 4th, when primaries will take place in those two states, is a crucial day for both Clinton and Obama.

What will happen next is a matter of concern to all Democrats. For one candidate it would be time to "fish or cut bait". Though yet to be officially anointed, Republicans have a candidate. Infighting among Democrats is the last thing we need. Sooner the Democratic contender is named the better we shall be to begin the real battle for White House.

Let us hope that the Democrats will come together and act for the good of the party. Protracted behind the scene manoeuvres by power brokers for support from super delegates must be avoided. Heed the people's will and decide long before March 15th (The ides of March).
Funny Headline of the Day

Bush: US Is Not Headed Into Recession
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

---Wm Shakespare (Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Viewing Presidential Contenders without Rose Colored Glasses

After the Rhetoric Who Will Walk the Walk?

When John Edwards pulled out of the race Barack Obama became my choice. Hillary Clinton's fixed smile, at times almost rictus-like, and her tiresome emphasis on experience fail to convince me. Above all, Clinton's support of the war and attempts to skirt around the issue made me turn against her long before the nationwide momentum for Obama began. She certainly can claim more years in politics. Does that translate into ability to govern? No president can be successful without competent cabinet members. Obama can be expected to select people who will have the necessary knowledge and expertise to assist him.

However, let's not delude ourselves. Once elected, politicians have a habit of forgetting what they said during campaign. I do not expect either Obama or Clinton to fulfill the promises they are making. That is how the system works. No matter who occupies the White House the power brokers -- big money contributors, lobbyists, labor unions -- will extract their "pound of flesh". Obama's flipflop on campaign financing cannot and must not be condoned. There will be deals cut. There will be scandals, created ones if not real. If Obama is elected, the search for his feet of clay will be intense; warts will be magnified. But the bottom line: undoubtedly a better America....many times better than the abysmal depth to which Bush and his neocon cohorts have taken our country to.

Charlie Wilson, the then chairman of General Motors, reportedly said in 1955: "What is good for General Motors is good for America". GM is no longer the major force it once was but there are others and they wield tremendous power. Under Republican administrations rules that were in place to prevent unethical corporate practices were removed or government watchdogs looked the other way as rules were broken. Targeted tax cuts that benefit those at the highest level of income were promoted and passed. Ordinary Americans were conned by smoke and mirrors as Republicans sacrificed their interests in championing free-market economy. They would stand to get a more fair deal; their concerns would receive attention. Soldiers would be brought home from the unjustified war.

McCain has moved to the right as far as possible. He now acts like a Bush clone except that he speaks better than the incumbent of the White House. But knowledge of English language is not a good reason to elect him. As to the Vicki Iseman story, if McCain's supporters desert him because of that piece of fluff then perhaps he is better off without them.

McCain distorting Obama's statement about Pakistan.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The Seasons: Heralds of Spring

Heralds of Spring * Haikus

Cold and wet afternoon. We are 30 days away from Spring Equinox. It feels very wintry. Yet there are signs that spring is around the corner. Acacias began showing their plumage a few weeks back; the daffodils alongside Hwy 280 back of the Stanford Dish have made their annual appearance for the pleasure of motorists. And yesterday I noticed blossoms on a cherry tree in a neighbor's yard.


Spring too, very soon!
They are setting the scene for it--
plum tree and moon.
---Basho (1643-1694)

Blossoms on the pear--
and a woman in the moonlight
reads a letter there.
---Buson (1715-1783)

Source: The World of Zen by Nancy Wilson Ross

Chanterelles were late in emerging this season because of lack of rain. The January rains brought them out. Some are still to be found but the delicious mushrooms will be soon gone.

BG in the forest


Thursday, February 14, 2008


The Race for White House

Democrats * Republicans * Eavesdropping Bill

Disturbing....what is happening in the race for White House. The contenders are behaving just as others did in past presidential elections. Mud-slinging, while not yet very pronounced, is going on. And in the battle for support they continue to trample on truth and do somersaults. They want to please all interest groups. They are ready to play the 'race card', 'abortion card', 'faith card'. You name it, they are ready and willing. John McCain, formerly an Episcopalian is now a devout Baptist.

Recent passage of the eavesdropping bill and protection for telecom giants who cooperated with the Bush Administration by providing records without court order was a glaring example of the failure of the Democrats to stand up to such abuses. Some of them, including our Senator Feinstein, fully support the Bush Administration on this issue; others are plain gutless, still under spell of 9/11, or they receive contributions from the telephone companies.

  • He has also recently benefited from some interesting political contributions.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday approved new rules for government eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails, giving the White House much of the latitude it wanted and granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies that helped in the snooping after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Protection for the telecom companies is the most prominent feature of the legislation, something President Bush had insisted on as essential to getting private sector cooperation in spying on foreign terrorists and other targets. The bill would give retroactive protection to companies that acted without court permission.

Few comments from friends:

DM, Massachusetts: " Today's senate voting to grant immunity to phone companies about tapping got me curious. Dem big mouths always come on TV saying they opposed everything about Bush and yet they can seem to never overturn any of his bills. So I looked up the Senate voting record for today's bill just for kicks.


To me it seems the Dem party is filled with republican moles, inclduding some from CA, who put on dem party suit simply to sabotage the notion that dems will stand up to bush.

SG in California, wrote: "My interest in US domestic politics flagged after Clinton took office in 92 (I recall listening to Bill at a discussion group on education at Stanford the day before he announced his candidacy), because the war between the Clintons and the "vast right-wing conspiracy" did not interest me.

The Obama-Hillary battle is interesting because it pits baby-boomers against the generation that grew up with civil rights bill having passed the Congress. It's brought our the closet misogynists, the closet racists and the liberal hypocrites all out in the open.

Obama and Michelle are high-achieving blacks who do not constantly bitch about racism but expect to be treated equally as whites.
I like that attitude.

The white liberals are oh-so pro-affirmative action because they carry the burden of white guilt and holier-than-thou attitude as a badge of honor. Most of them have little social (and in many cases, little professional) contact with non-whites. Clintons belong to this group. They are all for black upliftment as long as they and their (mostly white) buddies do it. Note that George Bush has had more non-white senior executive and White House staff than Clinton did.

The younger gen voting for Obama is much more racially integrated and do not continually mouth affirmative action and other platitudes like the old liberals (except the members of the rapidly expanding Hispanic Separatist Nation who also seem to like Hillary more :).

It's like the caste system in India. Congress and the Commies (particularly in Bengal) were always dominated by Brahmins who wanted to uplift the lower castes but did not care to have them in their own social or political power circle. Our generation started breaking the caste barriers in school, college dorms, in friendship, and in marriage.

DM, from Massachusetts: One of my takeaways from this election as I hear various call in talk shows on TV/radio during this ballot bowl season: conservatism is another name for war mongering and hate spewing free speech, and how important it seems for the republican candidate to pander to the the handful bastion of these conservative media personalities instead of serving the people that elect them. For it is they who best decide what is good for the country. If this kind of arrogance and hate was being spewed by the leaders of another country we all know what would that be labeled as.

Some claim they want to hear about specifics instead of motivational oratory. Remind me when was the last time a president was able to deliver on specifics they promised to the people. They only managed to deliver what was promised behind closed doors away from the public eye.

Unfortunately this 2 party system manages to perpetuate this conservative and liberal mentality and gives meaning to their existence. These labels give these people something to rally around and plot around. I wish someday these would just disappear instead of these spy vs spy mentality they seem to foster in many - "I as a staunch conservative want HRC to win because she would mess it up so much that the (neocons) will then rule the (world) for another 20 years after that" - almost an exact quote from a Talk of the Nation episode.

and of course the way Latino population is growing in a few years everybody else will be hasta la vista :) We will all be worshiping Mother Mary & baby Jesus in bathtubs in our front yards."

Perhaps a bit of a stretch but that possibility cannot be completely shrugged off. I'll not be around when the Hispanic community becomes a dominant force in California and a few other states. The prospects, however, are disheartening and I cannot help feeling sad about the inevitable changes on the distant horizon. Currently, a debate is raging in the United Kingdom about recognition of Sharia Law for Muslim citizens. One gets the feeling that it will not happen as long as majority of the Brits oppose it.


Sunday, February 10, 2008


Scamming in the name of War Veterans

Fraudsters in the Charity Racket

Scammers exist; they have always existed and always will. The NYTimes editorial on February 8th described the nefarious activities of one particular organization -- Coalition to Salute American Heroes (CSAH). Perhaps the same people who coined the unforgettable phrases "collateral damage" and "friendly fire" came up with the name but that is beside the point.

Before you contribute a penny to CSAH spend a few minutes checking how it spends your money. In the past there were reports about Frank Hudson, the then CEO of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, who spent contributions on botox injections to make himself look good, and then there were horror stories about mismanagement of funds by the people who ran Goodwill Industries of Santa Clara County, California. The United Way of America which receives support from local corporations had its share of problems with executives who misappropriated funds. The founders of Coalition to Salute American Heroes, however, win the prize for spending most of the money on salaries and perks for themselves.

Their sister organization is named "Help Hospitalized Veterans", HHV!


Thursday, February 07, 2008


The United Kingdom and Sharia Law

Beginning of the end.....end of the British justice system ? No less a person than Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, feels that there is room for ".....constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law......" Only time will tell if he is right.

Excerpts from BBC

Dr Williams says Muslims should have a choice in legal disputes
Dr Williams interview
The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

An approach to law which simply said - there's one law for everybody - I think that's a bit of a danger Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says "sensational reporting of opinion polls" clouds the issue.

He stresses that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".

But Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger".

"There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law."

Dr Williams adds: "What we don't want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people's religious consciences."

"We don't either want a situation where, because there's no way of legally monitoring what communities do... people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community."

From what we know about practice of Sharia Law in Islamic nations there is no reason to feel that those members of the Muslim community who believe in Sharia will be content with "constructive accommodation". They will demand more and more.

Considering the size and influence of the Muslim population in the UK one can see the desire for a compromise. Compromise, however, is not going to be the answer. Until Muslim men and women in the UK throw off age-old traditions, antiquated teachings of the Koran, and decide to become part of the main-stream society there can be no solution to this issue. There are no signs that this will take place any time soon.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Smirk's Last Gift

The Bush Budget * Secularists in Turkey Protest Headscarf Law

The self-described compassionate conservative president's 3.1 trillion budget announced today is awash in red ink but protects his pet tax cuts and includes an 8.1 increase for "security funding in the areas of the budget controlled by annual appropriations" (AP).

The usual mumbo jumbo accompanied the announcement of the budget.
Yes, there are spending cuts......"$196 billion in savings over the next five years in the government's giant health care programs — Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor." The programs -- entitlements, according to Republicans -- face reductions while targeted tax cuts that benefit a very small percentage of people at the top of the income pyramid are needed for "continued prosperity".

See full report by the Associated Press

Doublespeak, smoke and mirrors ? They are hallmarks of the Bush administration.
Secularist Turks Oppose Headscarf Law

Current Turkish government is dominated by conservative Muslims. The BBC reported:

Thousands of Turks have rallied in Ankara to protest against a government plan to allow women to wear the Islamic headscarf in Turkish universities.

The protestors fear such a move would usher in a stricter form of Islam in Turkey, which is a secular state.

Turkey's parliament is expected to approve a constitutional amendment to ease the ban next week.

Fundamentalists -- no matter whether they are Muslims, Christians, or Hindus -- have the same mindset. The plan by the so called "devout" Muslims in Turkey is along the same line as attempts by conservative Christians here in the United States to support mandatory prayers in school and display of Ten Commandments and other symbols on public grounds.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


The Seasons: Winter and Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil has been known to be wrong in the past but if he is right then the cold and gray days are going to be with us for six more weeks. Traditionally, Phil has credibility. This year, however, Gen. Beauregard Lee, Phil's counterpart in Lilburn, GA, didn't see his shadow. Let the pundits quibble about who is right.

Associated Press, Punxsutawney, PA

The tradition is that if a hibernating animal sees a shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early.

That was the forecast from Gen. Beauregard Lee, Punxsutawney Phil's counterpart in Lilburn, Ga. Beau did not see his shadow Saturday morning at the Yellow River Game Ranch.

It was the third year in a row the two groundhogs' predictions differed.

We shall survive, of course. We always do. We complain about cold, rainy days but we survive and then spring arrives and with it new leaves, flowers, and balmy weather. Here in the San Francisco Bay area we need not worry any more about water shortage in the summer months; the foothills will remain green longer; chanterelles will continue to emerge and provide pleasure at the table.

"The desolation of winter;
Passing through a small hamlet ,
A dog barks"
---Shiki (translated by R.H. Blyth)


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