Friday, May 30, 2008
McClellan 's Tell-All Book
Dana Milbank in The Washington Post
- "We set up a massive political operation that was aimed at really continuing that permanent-campaign way of governing," he informed the listeners of National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."
- "We got caught up in the excesses of the permanent-campaign culture in Washington, D.C.," he explained to viewers of NBC's "Today" show.
- By nightfall, he was on MSNBC's "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann, discussing "these partisan excesses that have existed . . . because of the permanent campaign in Washington, D.C."
- Just as they had through the middle years of the Bush presidency, the airwaves again echoed with McClellan's litanies yesterday.
WASHINGTON, May 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Army on Thursday said suicides among active duty troops in 2007 had reached the highest level on record, due partly to the stress caused by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army announced that 115 soldiers, including 22 National Guard and Army Reserve troops, killed themselves last year. That marked a 12.7 percent rise from the 102 suicides recorded in 2006. There were 85 Army suicides in 2005.
It was the highest number of actual suicides in the military force since record-keeping began in 1980 and Army officials said the rate has remained at about the same level since, with 38 confirmed suicides recorded for 2008 as of last Monday.
The Army also said there were 935 suicide attempts in 2007.
The Washington Post
By PAULINE JELINEK
The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 28, 2008; 2:02 AM
WASHINGTON -- The number of troops with new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007 amid the military buildup in Iraq and increased violence there and in Afghanistan.
Records show roughly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with the illness, also known as PTSD, since 2003. Officials believe that many more are likely keeping their illness a secret.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Pentecostals Strike Back - Devil and Charles Grassley
Excerpts from the report by Jacqueline L. Salmon of The Washington Post:
- "You've got a Baptist senator attacking six Pentecostals," said Doug Wead, a conservative blogger who served as President George H.W. Bush's liaison to the evangelical community and was an informal adviser to the current President Bush. Wead has appeared on Copeland's national television show, "Believer's Voice of Victory," to defend him. "The timing is not good for the Republican Party."
- "Copeland has said that Grassley is aiming at him because of his Pentecostal doctrine and has suggested that the devil is behind Grassley's effort.
- "Satan has an agenda," Copeland said in a recent broadcast. "He is looking for a way to drive a wedge and get strife between one another."
Under Investigation (CBS News)
The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Rambling On Memorial Day Weekend 2008
Hillary Clinton Down and Dirty
Freudian slip.....assassination dreaming! Her comment about late Senator Robert Kennedy's assassination in June 1968 as being one of the reasons for her to stay in the race caused a firestorm. After trying to put a spin on it, Mrs. Clinton issued an apology....sort of. The NY Times editorial board has this to say:
Instead, she issued one of those tedious non-apology apologies in which it sounds like the person who is being offended is somehow at fault: “I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.”
The Seasons: A Wintry Spring
Pink Trillium, Big Basin State Park
White Trillium, Big Basin State Park
Matilja Poppy, Indrani C's Garden, San Mateo, CA
Sunday, May 18, 2008
"It's certainly a temporary victory for those who favor same-sex marriage," Ron Prentice, steering committee chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, said of the decision invalidating a state law defining marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman. Prentice's coalition is seeking to overturn that ruling.
The Dormouse: You've got no right to grow here.
Alice: Don't talk nonsense. You know you're growing too.
The Dormouse: Yes, but I grow at a reasonable pace, not in that ridiculous fashion.
--Alice In Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Flag Pin Does Not A Patriot Make
Barack Obama Caved In * Cherie Blair and Foreplay in a No.74 Bus
In his own words:
- “This is an issue that is a phony issue because I was never opposed to wearing flag pins.”
- He said giving up the flag pin in the first place was a commentary on hypocritical lawmakers. (Reuters Blogs)
Cherie Blair - Anything for Money
Tony Blair's 'heart sank' when George Bush was elected US president in 2000, his wife, Cherie claims in her new book.
The former prime minister's wife reveals that the Blairs had become friendly with Al Gore, the Democratic candidate, and his wife on visits to Washington, and were disappointed when Bush was declared president."I think it's fair to say our hearts sank when the result was finally ratified," she wrote in her memoir.
The book makes no mention of what later caused the epiphany in Blair. It was reported that they prayed together during Blair's vist with Bush. Think of this scenario. Bush and Blair were down on their knees, praying, when god whispered in Tony's ear to join in the battle against the evil ones. God meant the neocons but Tony thought he meant Saddam Hussein and Iraqis with non-existent WMD. And so it goes.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Mothers' Day 2008
Shadow of the War * Richard Yates * Gettysburg Address *Music of Bach
The Esquire Fiction Reader Vol.I edited by Rust Hills and Tom Jenks
© 1985 by Rust Hills
- "When it was time to say goodbye at the gate to Terry's flight, Michael shook hands with him in a little excess of old soldier's heartiness: 'Well, stay loose, Terry. And keep a tight asshole.'
- "Then Sarah opened her arms for him. She was taller than he was, but that didn't make it an awkward embrace. She held him, however briefly, in the way a man ought to be held before going to a war that nobody would ever understand."
Track 3, Passacaglia and Fugue, for organ in C minor, BWV 582
Toccata and Fugue: A Bach Organ Work Selection
Denon Records, April 1995
Friday, May 09, 2008
Election 2008 - Warmongers
And Poems by Robert Hass
It was a pleasure to read that "Time and Materials" by my favorite poet, Robert Haas, is the joint winner (with "Failure" by Philip Schultz) of this year's Pulitzer Prize.
Excerpt from "A Poem" by Robert Haas
"More Iraqi civilians have now been incidental casualties of the conduct of war in Iraq than were killed by Arab terrorists in the destruction of the World Trade Center.
In the first twenty years of the twentieth century 90 percent of war deaths were the deaths of combatants. In the last twenty years of the twentieth century 90 percent of war deaths were deaths of civilians.
There are imaginable responses to these facts. The nations of the world could stop setting an example for suicide bombers. They could abolish the use of land mines. They could abolish the use of aerial bombardment in warfare. You would think that men would relent."
I typed the brief phrase, "Bush's War,"
At the top of a sheet of white paper,
Having some dim intuition of a poem
Made luminous by reason that would,
Though I did not have them at hand,
Set the facts out in an orderly way.
Berlin is a northerly city. In May
At the end of the twentieth century
In the leafy precincts of Dahlem Dorf,
South of the Grunewald, near Krumme Lanke,
Spring is northerly; it begins before dawn
In a racket of bird song. The amsels
Shiver the sun up as if they were shaking
A liquid tangle of golden wire. There are two kinds
Of flowering chestnuts, red and white,
And the wet pavements are speckled
With petals from the incandescent spikes
Of their flowers and shoes at U-bahn stops
Are flecked with them. Green of holm oaks,
Birch tassels, the soft green of maples,
And the odor of lilacs is everywhere.
At Oscar Helene Heim station a farmer
Sells white asparagus from a heaped table.
In a month he'll be selling chanterelles;
In the month after that, strawberries
And small, rosy crawfish from the Spree.
The piles of stalks of the asparagus
Are startlingly phallic, phallic and tender
And deathly pale. Their seasonal appearance
Must be the remnant of some fertility ritual
Of the German tribes. Steamed, they are the color
Of old ivory. In May, in restaurants
They are served on heaped white platters
With boiled potatoes and parsley butter,
Or shavings of Parma ham and lemon juice
Or sorrel and smoked salmon. And,
Walking home in the slant, widening,
Brilliant northern light that falls
On the new-leaved birches and the elms,
Nightingales singing at the first, subtlest,
Darkening of dusk, it is a trick of the mind
That the past seems just ahead of us,
As if we were being shunted there
In the surge of a rattling funicular.
Flash forward: the firebombing of Hamburg,
Fifty thousand dead in a single night,
"The children's bodies the next day
Set in the street in rows like a market
In charred chicken." Flash forward:
Firebombing of Tokyo, a hundred thousand
In a night. Flash forward: forty-five
Thousand Polish officers slaughtered
By the Russian Army in the Katyn Woods,
The work of half a day. Flash forward:
Two million Russian prisoners of war
Murdered by the German army all across
The eastern front, supplies low,
Winter of 1943. Flash: Hiroshima.
And then Nagasaki, as if the sentence
Life is fire and flesh is ash needed
To be spoken twice. Flash: Auschwitz,
Dachau, Therienstadt, the train lurching,
The stomach woozy, past displays of falls
Of hair, piles of valises, spectacles
With frames designed to curl delicately
Around a human ear. Flash:
The gulags, seven million in Byelorussia
And Ukraine. In innocent Europe on a night
In spring, among the light-struck birches,
Students holding hands. One of them
Is carrying a novel, the German translation
Of a slim book by Marguerite Duras
About a love affair in old Saigon. (Flash:
Two million Vietnamese, fifty five thousand
Of the American young, whole races
Of tropical birds extinct from saturation bombing)
The kind of book the young love
To love, about love in time of war.
Forty five million, all told, in World War II.
In Berlin, pretty Berlin, in the spring time,
You are never not wondering how
It happened, and the people around you
In the station with chestnut petals on their shoes,
Children then, or unborn, never not
Wondering. Is it that we like the kissing
And bombing together, in prospect
At least, girls in their flowery dresses?
Someone will always want to mobilize
Death on a massive scale for economic
Domination or revenge. And the task, taken
As a task, appeals to the imagination.
The military is an engineering profession.
Look at boys playing: they love
To figure out the ways to blow things up.
But the rest of us have to go along.
Why do we do it? Certainly there's a rage
To injure what's injured us. Wars
Are always pitched to us that way.
The well-paid news readers read the reasons
On the air. And we who are injured,
Or have been convinced that we are injured,
Are always identified with virtue. It's that--
The rage to hurt mixed with self-righteousness
And fear--that's murderous.
The young Arab depilated himself
As an act of purification before he drove
The plane into the office building. It's not
Just violence, it's a taste for power
That amounts to loathing for the body.
Perhaps it's this that permits people to believe
That the dead women in the rubble of Baghdad
Who did not cast a vote for their deaths
Or the glimpse afforded them before they died
Of the raw white of the splintered bones
In the bodies of their men or their children
Are being given the gift of freedom
Which is the virtue of their injured killers.
It's hard to say which is worse about this,
The moral sloth of it or the intellectual disgrace.
And what good are our judgments to the dead?
And death the cleanser, Walt Whitman's
Sweet death, the scourer, the tender
Lover, shutter of eyelids, turns
The heaped bodies into summer fruit,
Magpies eating dark berries in the dusk
And birch pollen staining sidewalks
To the faintest gold. Bald nur--Goethe--no,
Warte nur, bald ruhest du auch. Just wait.
You will be quiet soon enough. In Dahlem,
Under the chestnuts, in the leafy spring.
The quotations are from "Time and Materials, Harper Collins Publishers © 2007 Robert Haas
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Day of Reckoning for Clinton and Obama ?
The Lapel Pin Smear
- "Well, look, I revere the American flag," he said. "And I would not be running for president if I did not revere this country. I would not be standing here if it wasn't for this country. And I've said this -- again, there's no other country in which my story is even possible."
Many people will read a lot of meaning into Obama's refusal to wear the pin. Some will see it as a lack of patriotism, an emotional distance from the country that has served him so well. Others, such as I, will see it as an expression of cool, the statement of a candidate who wants to be president but not at the cost of his intellectual integrity. And still others (me again) will see it as Obama's push-back, his reluctance to do something simply because it is demanded of him.
An allergy to cant can be an admirable quality in a politician, although not necessarily a politically smart one. Obama, for example, is right to label Hillary Clinton's proposal to have the government lift the gas tax this summer as "a classic Washington gimmick." Still, gimmicks like this win votes.
The Price of Gas and Jesus Freaks
- "Lord, come down in a mighty way and strengthen us so that we can bring down these high gas prices," Twyman said to a chorus of "amens".
- "Prayer is the answer to every problem in life... We call on God to intervene in the lives of the selfish, greedy people who are keeping these prices high," Twyman said on the gas station forecourt in a neighborhood of Washington that, like many of its residents, has seen better days.
- "Lord, the prices at this pump have gone up since last week. We know that you are able, that you have all the power in the world," he prayed, before former beauty queen Rashida Jolley led the group in a modified version of the spiritual, "We Shall Overcome".
- "We'll have lower gas prices, we'll have lower gas prices..." they sang.
- "These prices will come down, just like the walls of Jericho came down in the Bible," he said, as another chorus of amens punctuated the sound of cash flowing out of the gas pumps.
Friday, May 02, 2008
G.W. Bush and Hillary Clinton
Something in Common
The Huffington Post April 30, 2008
- Hillary Clinton made her first ever appearance on the O'Reilly Factor on Wednesday, a confrontational but mostly friendly exchange that was -- kudos to Bill -- the most issue-oriented (if right-leaning) major interview with a presidential candidate in recent memory.
- One of the more heated policy discussions came over taxes. O'Reilly demanded to know how much Clinton was going to "take out of my wallet," and when she listed a series of proposals to aid middle class families, O'Reilly interjected. "I'm not middle class, I'm a rich guy." Clinton responded (in an awkward moment), "Rich people, God bless us. We deserve all the opportunities to make sure our country and our blessings continue until the next generation."
- Now, after half a trillion dollars and the deaths of 4,000 troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis, the president's spin doctors have waved the white flag of surrender over the USS Abraham Lincoln episode. "President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific, and said mission accomplished for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters this week.
- That excuse didn't pass the laugh test yesterday morning, when a CNN reporter asked Murtha about it. Murtha shook his head and gave a disgusted sigh as audience members chuckled. "It's almost beyond my belief that they would think anybody would believe that," he finally said. "I'm sure the White House didn't tell [her] to say that," he added, charitably. "I'm sure that was offhand."
- Even John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, piled on. "I thought it was wrong at the time," he said -- an effective tactic until the Democrats dug up footage of him from 2003 supporting the Mission Accomplished message.