,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Barack Obama done in by a Pat Robertson Wannabe

Egomaniacs Come In All Colors

Who would have thought a few months ago that Barack Obama's downfall would result from his failure to foresee the dangers of close association with an egotistic black pastor. His allegiance to the pastor of his church, perhaps his inherent decency, prevented Obama from putting distance between himself and his pastor even after publication of Reverend Wright's sermons made many of his supporters wince. The reverend has strong views, some are questionable. Watching video clips of his appearance before the National Press Club on April 28th and at other venues one thing that sticks out is that the reverend loves to hear himself talk. There was no stopping him. The impact of his statements on Senator Obama's campaign was the last thing on Jeremiah Wright's mind. He was No.1. He was center stage. He gloated; he lapped it up. Earlier this month, the Philadelphia speech helped Obama salvage some damage, but not enough. The reverend wanted to continue to bask in the limelight and took a page from the playbook of another reverend who bloviates, Pat Robertson. Pat Robertson's lunatic statements earned him a lot of media coverage at one time. Reverend Wright got attention too....in spades. A quiet retirement? Not for them.

At long last Obama spoke out on Tuesday (April 29th) and left no doubt about the parting of company with Reverend Wright. However, the reverend has caused tremendous harm. The pendulum has swung. Of course, things can happen between now and the convention to change the picture especially if voters decide that issues, not personalities, matter most. It is Hillary Clinton whose numbers show impressive gains in recent days. In her case, it was Bill Clinton who needed muzzling. Unless she fumbles she could end up winning the prize.

Monday, April 28, 2008


'Secondary Virgins' Back in the News

'Slightly Pregnant', Perhaps * India's Shame

Reading about President Bush's support of 'abstinence only' (from sex) policy can make one chuckle but the consequences are far from funny. Accounts of his somwhat wild youth leave little doubt that he didn't -- abstain. But that is normal practice. Politicians exhort people to do what they say, not what they did. So, one ought not to hold that against the president. One day he found the lord and went on a straight and narrow path. Stranger things have happened.

But when the 'abstinence only' hypocrites talk about 'secondary virginity' that is a bit too much. What a phrase! Trust the gang that gave us "extraordinary rendition" and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to promote it.


Opponents of abstinence education say the approach ignores the fact that teenagers are sexually active and fails to give them accurate medical information or advice on safer sex.

"We get sex-ed classes in school and that should be where teens get the right information - but that isn't happening," says 15-year-old Mildred, from Arizona, who volunteers as a peer educator with the pro-choice organisation Planned Parenthood.

"They don't touch on subjects like sexuality, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), birth control - it's not allowed because of abstinence-only education. It leaves you on a cliff-hanger - and a lot of teenagers become sexually active in their middle school years."

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood estimates that two thirds of teenagers will have experienced sexual intercourse by the time they leave school.

And with some 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year, America has one of the highest teen birth rates in the developed world.

"This national programme which has wasted $1.5bn (£750m) of tax money is a failure and our teens are paying the price," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.
"We've been wasting money on programmes that don't work and we're seeing the consequences every single day."

State governments receive federal money they must match to fund abstinence programmes.

At least 17 states have opted out of the system and others have suspended funding while Congress investigates whether such programmes work.

Critics say there is no evidence that they delay sexual activity and teenagers who have taken a vow of virginity are less likely to use protection if they break their promise.

Religious right

Roger Norman, a Texas lawyer, describes himself as being part of the religious right.

He runs an organization called Wonderful Days which does not receive government funding but teaches abstinence as part of the health curriculum in some local schools.

"I am convinced that abstinence is the only way for kids," he says. "You begin by teaching the consequences of bad behaviour and the benefits of proper behaviour and you do that in a way that a child can grasp.

"Secondary virgins"

Teenagers who do have sex before marriage are given another chance by becoming "secondary virgins".

"Of course, if you view virginity as number one, and you've slept with someone, of course it's going to be different and you can never go back - but that doesn't mean there's no tomorrow," explains Ashley.

"Every day is a new decision and abstinence is not one you make once. You're going to have to make this decision over and over again. So if you fail once, you get back up and you try again."

(Before sex)
"Dennis: Look, even if you did get pregnant, I'd marry you.
Odette: Do you believe in centralized government or states' rights ?
Dennis: What?
Odette: I just want to know the kind of guy I'm marrying.
Dennis: I'm starting to get the distinct impression you don't want to do this anymore."

From Sarah Kernochan's 1998 film "Strike"(also released as "All I Wanna Do")

Female Foeticide Continues in India
  • New Delhi — The Indian prime minister described the growing practice of aborting female fetuses as a “national shame” on Monday, and called for stricter enforcement of laws designed to prevent doctors from helping parents to get rid of unwanted unborn daughters. (NY Times April 29, 2008)
At the same time, cheerleading teams are being imported from the west to entertain cricket fans in India!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Armies of God

The U.S. and Talibs
"Bigotry is the sacred disease."

The law suit filed by Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation against the U.S. Army for violation of his First Amendment rights might not succeed in winning recognition of the rights of atheists in the U.S. Army but it would once more expose the abuses they are subject to.

NY Times 4-26-08
Specialist Hall’s lawsuit is the latest incident to raise questions about the military’s religion guidelines. In 2005, the Air Force issued new regulations in response to complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy that evangelical Christian officers used their positions to proselytize. In general, the armed forces have regulations, Ms. Lainez said, that respect “the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”

One gets the distinct impression that the "evangelical Christian officers" are not too far apart from the Talibs in Afghanistan when it comes to God. Is it fear of God that makes them coerce others to follow their faith ? It cannot be love of God.


Thursday, April 24, 2008


Democrats on the Brink

There are some who feel that the current battle for nomination is not going to do the Democrats any harm; once the nomination process concludes voters will fall behind the person who will go up against John McCain. Former Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate Pat Schroeder of Colorado appeared on PBS NewsHour yesterday and smilingly expressed her opinion that what was happening was good. Ms. Schroeder is for Hillary Clinton, but that is beside the point.

But I really don't worry about the future. I think it's very positive for the Democratic Party, and let me tell you why. I see George W. Bush channeling Herbert Hoover, for heaven's sakes, and now we see John McCain channeling George W. Bush. (Pat Schroeder on NewsHour)

What is happening is not positive. Democrats might not recover from the damage being done to chances of retaking the White House.

Let's face it. Both candidates have negative image with large blocks of voters. For Hillary Clinton, it is her past and the shadow of Bill Clinton. Her claim of dodging bullets in Bosnia revived reports about her untruthfulness. For Barack Obama, first and foremost it is the color of his skin, and then the barrage of critical, somewhat twisted, reports about his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his comments about 'bitter' voters in Pennsylvania. When both Clinton and Obama -- gleefully aided by conservative, pro-Republican media -- are doing all they can to highlight the faults and weaknesses of the other, prospects for Senator McCain cannot but look brighter. Ms. Schroeder might choose to ignore reality, but at the end of the day that is not going to save us from a looming disaster.

Like it or not, Obama being black is a factor that cannot be disregarded. There are voters for whom that alone is reason enough not to support him. Robert Novak's column in today's Washington Post mentions "........the dreaded Bradley effect "

Monday, April 21, 2008


Monday Morning Charivari

Democrats engaged in Self-Destruction * The Weather

Depressing to follow what the Democratic front runners' are doing to each other. From a sure thing few months ago, hopes for victory in November are beginning to look dim. By the time the nominee emerges from the morass it might be too late. It does not look likely that the result of Pennsylvania primary is going to decide the issue. Hillary Clinton is not going to concede. Obama got battered by the moderators in the debate last Wednesday and stumbled. The fact that the numbers are still in his favor means nothing to Hillary Clinton. Where are the wise, old leaders of the Democratic Party? One gets the feeling that they have they have given up or they are unable to stop the blood loss.

The polarization between Obama-Clinton camps has reached a point where their supporters have gone on record saying that they are not going to vote for the other if their candidate fails to secure the nomination. Let us hope that they will not follow through with that. I'm not for Hillary Clinton; at this point I detest her, but if she manages to claw her way to becoming the nominee I'd vote for her.

All that is good news for Republicans and John McCain. It is incomprehensible that voters would support a candidate who is like a Bush clone. The economy is reported to be the uppermost issue. Do the voters want the targeted tax cuts engineered by Bush to continue? Do they realize that the beneficiaries of the tax cuts are not them but a very small group of people once described by President Bush as the "haves and have-mores"? McCain, after opposing the tax cuts, now promises to extend them! And the war in Iraq -- do we want (need) it to go on forever?

An Unusual April

"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance." ~Jane Austen

Well, right now I'd not mind being in a state of inelegance. A month past spring equinox the temperature is wintry. Last Sunday a bone-chilling wind howled through the peninsula all day. So far we have had only a few days when it felt like spring. Unusual. Good that the foothills are still green but it is time for warm days, walks through the woods and picnics on the grass.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


"Teeth into the Jugular", or Jingolytis of the Bosphongus


True Believers

A query in google resulted in "Your search - 'Jingolytis of the bosphongus'- did not match any documents." Quite so; I didn't expect to find a slew of items because the phrase does not exist. Years ago, a colleague coined the term to describe people who called in to report sick. Alwyn would say "He (or she) has jingolytis of the bosphongus". It was his way of being skeptical about their illness.

General Petraeus, supreme military commander in Iraq, likes "teeth into the jugular". David Broder reported in the Post that the General used the phrase a number of times during a meeting. Easy to picture the enemies -- whoever they happen to be in this fifh year of Operation Iraqi Freedom -- mortally injured. Remember what Vice President Cheney said about the insurgents being "in the last throes"? That was almost three years ago, on May 31, 2005. Those who gave us the war will say anything. They would love to start another war if only they can sell it. Currently, attempts are being made to shift attention to Iran. Fitness of the overstretched U.S. military ? Not important. They are doing what they can to demonize Iran just as they created the mythical stockpile of WMD in the prelude to the war. Tony Blair's government did its part with the "doctored dossier". The game plan worked. We are paying for it; we'll continue paying for it long after the end of the Bush presidency. Expect more jingolytis of the bosphongus to come down the pike.

In the meantime, with 'teeth into the jugular' the evil ones are in their 'last throes'. 21 more American soldiers died in the first 13 days of April. And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Tenderness in the Desert - "The Band's Visit"


The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) * Chet Baker

The Band's Visit, Israeli director Eran Kolirin's film -- his first, was an unexpected delight....a heart-warming story about a band of musicians from Egyptian police force who unintentionally found themselves in a small desert town named Betah Tikva in Israel; the band was invited to perform at the Arab Cultural Center in Petah Tikva. The towns are not fictional; they exist.

Ronit Elkabetz, as Dina, made an impression as soon as she appeared on the screen. A free spirit, something very enticing about her understated sensuality. Kolirin's development of the overture by Dina to the shy, old-fashioned band leader Tewfiq Zakaria couldn't have been better.

There are movies that you forget about when you come out of the theater and there are those that leave a mark. Check it out.
© Sony Pictures

Ronit Elkabetz
© Sony Pictures

In his review, Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wrote:

Khaled (Saleh Bakri), trumpet player in the band, talked about Chet Baker (1929-1988) and My Funny Valentine. Found a Chet Baker CD in my collection.

© Pacific Jazz

It was issued by Pacific Jazz (Capitol Records) in 1995. My Funny Valentine is on track 5. Originally recorded Feb 15, 1954.


Chet Baker - trumpet
Bill Perkins - tenor sax
Russ Freeman - piano
Carson Smith - bass
Bob Neel - drums

Monday, April 07, 2008


"Stop-Loss", A Movie about Soldiers and Bush's War


"A Love Letter to American Soldiers"

It is true that major media no longer gives as much coverage to the war as it once did, and the American public's attention has moved on to other issues. Decline of casualty rate following the surge is one reason, and then the dismal state of the economy; the domino effect of the sub-prime mortgage scam that went sour on quite a few unscrupulous investment bankers on Wall Street and victimized thousands of home owners -- mostly from low and median income groups; the election campaigns and recent spike in unemployment rate all account for lack of interest in what is happening in Iraq.

Bush's war, however, is very much alive, alive but not well. It continues to take its toll both in lives and dollars. And for the families of soldiers serving in Iraq it is an ever present fear about the safety of their loved ones. Latest figures from icasualties.org show that out of 4020 soldiers who died in the war, 509 (12.7%) were 21 yrs old. It is noteworthy that two of the primary architects of the war had dodged Vietnam.

David Denby of The New Yorker, in his review of "Stop-Loss", the movie by Kimberly Peirce, wrote:
  • "This movie may become the central coming-home-from-the-war story of this period, just as “The Best Years of Our Lives,” made in 1946, became central to the period after the Second World War. Like that extraordinary work, “Stop-Loss” is devoted to the men’s hidden wounds—the wired-up tensions and nightmares that lead to drunkenness, fights, smashed love affairs and marriages. Throughout the Second World War, Hollywood made dozens of patriotic combat films, as well as occasional home-front movies (like “Tender Comrade,” with Ginger Rogers) about gallant wives. The Korean War, except for B-movies by Samuel Fuller and Joseph H. Lewis, went undramatized until it was over, and this was largely true of the Vietnam War, too. During all these wars, none of the discomforts of the returning soldier, or the dismay of his friends and family, were shown on the screen."
  • The movie, which she developed with the novelist and TV producer Mark Richard, is a complicated love letter to American soldiers—and to young American men in general, whose minds Peirce has tried, in a way, to enter before.
  • The soldiers are held together by their love for one another, and that element of Army life may make “Stop-Loss” popular with both liberals and conservatives, but no one, I think, will be happy about what the movie suggests is happening to some of the best young people in the country.

Tom Toles, Washington Post

Tom Toles, Washington Post


Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The Infamous John C. Yoo Back in the Spotlight

Justifying Torture * Women's Right to Choose

Thought we had read and heard enough about John Yoo. But, no. Two recent reports highlighted his nefarious role in Bush-Cheney administration.

What would be a fitting epitaph for such a man?

"He blindly served his president and never encountered a law that he couldn't bend to justify torture of prisoners and abuse of our Constitution".

And John C. Yoo is law professor at Berkeley!


Dan Eggen and Josh White in The Washington Post April 2, 2008

Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators
James Oliphant in The Baltimore Sun

April 1, 2008
Further reading: Naomi Klein's The True Purpose of Torture

Pro Choice? Yes

Michael Gerson's hit piece in the Post ,"Obama's Abortion Extremism", like all other pro-life arguments does not mention what happens after the birth. Do the pro-lifers who march on streets and argue passionately against abortion spend the same amount of time aiding the infants of unwanted pregnancies? "Abortion" sounds dirty and so they adopted it. The issue is women's right to choose....a right that should never be taken away under threat of punishment.


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