Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Incoherent Rambling on Democrats, the Iraq War, the Good Fight, and Cindy Sheehan.

I am not an apologist for the Democratic Party. I find their capitulation on the Iraq War spending bill to be a huge mistake. We expected them to maintain a singular voice and express the will of the majority.

The occupation will continue and many more American soldiers will die for now and American resources will go down the great war machine hole.

The civil war will continue on its own huge momentum and in the future if even then, some resolution will occur in Iraq. One thing that I do know is that only the Iraqis can determine what type of society they want, on their own, but they may never get that chance.

The huge oil reserve in Iraq is unfortunately the major obstacle for the Iraqis. As long as it is there and the world requires oil for its energy, the control of that resource will exceed the need for the Iraqis peaceful existence. Its that simple.

However, it still does matter which candidate is elected to public office and in particular to the office of the President.

I recently took a look at the case of Charles Singleton - convicted killer becomes deranged in prison, an appeals court rules that he can be given drugs to rouse him to a degree of sanity at that point he can then be executed, and he was in fact executed.

The composition of the court that ruled in favor of this double drug scenario is heavily weighted by Republican Presidential appointees.

Let me spell it out. You can look at this as a singular event or a singular detail but it is not simply that. It is about a culture that will allow that degree of severity in society to proceed, and to proceed with its blessing. Its about a severe agenda for our society, keyword is severe.

It does matter who gets elected as President. The President makes many many appointments. There is a difference between the parties. Its tiny but that tiny difference favors a slightly more open and slightly more equal society.

If anything, the Alberto Gonzales attorney-gate fiasco demonstrates as clearly as possible, that the appointments of this President are based on politics, meaning a willingness by the appointee to carry out the severe agenda of the Republican Party above all other considerations as the basis for the appointment. Forget about egalitarianism, or pure justice, or pure equality, or even a non partisan attitude, forget about it, not important.

Cindy Sheehan's letter totally bummed me out. I recognize that she only has a finite amount of energy because the beast that she was trying to slay is massive and has a trillion lives.

It brings home how we can feel so insignificant trying to change this brutal corporate - military - war - prison complex monster. We can from time to time feel defeated in its cold security camera face. Its a terrible feeling and anyone on the left knows about it. Writing this blog isn't even a feather stroke on its thick hide.

Still, it does matter. The fight is always good. Cindy did a hell of a job and I love her for that, really truly love her. She did a lot, she did a hell of a job. I couldn't believe how for a period she was ubiquitous.

They used such heavy handed bullshit on this lady, for a period she took the whole major assault. The ugly bastard right wing noise and garbage machine spewed at her constantly.

They should be ashamed for that. But that would assume that they have enough humanity left to recognize that.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Disconnect

Two recent articles point in a complete 180 degree direction away from the stated message coming from the Bush administration on Iraq.

Specifically, the troops themselves are drifting from the mission's viability and necessity.

Also, the occupation of Iraq is furthering and increasing terrorism beyond the borders of Iraq. The lessons that the insurgents have learned while attacking Americans in Iraq are starting to show up in other Middle Eastern countries.

Both things need to be understood as the end result of policies that are flawed, incomplete, and misguided.

Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq

With allies in enemy ranks, GIs in Iraq are no longer true believers

The disconnect couldn't be more obvious. No one can possibly miss it.

The policy is failed. The troops must come home.

Monday, May 28, 2007

What Comes After Worst?

Just in case you have not seen this article, it is telling.

With allies in enemy ranks, GIs in Iraq are no longer true believers

The salient part of the article comes right away.

"...on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber's body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army."

The point could not be clearer.

Here the troops are trying to bolster the fledgling Iraqi military, when that very same Iraqi military is haven to those insurgents that want to kill US troops.

The US planners and right wing elite that have corporate interests at stake in Iraq don't really care how many troops get killed as long as the US presence continues in Iraq.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Strange Case of Charles Singleton

Charles Singleton "was 19 when he stabbed Mary Lou York to death while robbing a small grocery store in Hamburg, Arkansas. She identified him before she died. In 1979 he was convicted and sentenced to death."

Long story made really short, Singleton became deranged in prison, hearing voices, crazy hallucinations, totally out of his mind. He imagines his victim is stalking him in the dark and wants to marry him.

The Supreme Court ruled 18 years prior to his execution which did occur in 2004 when Singleton was 44, that it was unconstitutional to execute the insane, cruel and inhuman punishment.

A federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled in February of 2003 that it was OK to give an insane inmate, i.e. Singleton, medications to make him sane enough, and then to go ahead and execute him.

And execute him they did on January 7, 2004 with a lethal injection, another drug cocktail. The irony is American in nature, one drug to rouse him to an acceptable level of awareness followed by a second drug to execute him.

Singleton was happy to go. He was tired of living with insanity.

There is an aside to this, in that I search for "signs of life" in our withering democracy. Well I found one such sign.

During the federal appeals court decision making process on whether it was OK to make somebody sort of sane with drugs and then to execute him or her, there was an outstanding dissenting voice.

The voice was that of Judge Gerald W. Heaney.

Source "Judge Gerald W. Heaney, in dissent, said there was a third choice. He would have allowed Mr. Singleton to be medicated without fear of execution.

''I believe,'' he wrote, ''that to execute a man who is severely deranged without treatment, and arguably incompetent when treated, is the pinnacle of what Justice Marshall called 'the barbarity of exacting mindless vengeance.' '' Judge Heaney added that the majority's holding presented doctors with an impossible ethical choice."

I applaud the humanistic side of judicial decision making that is expressed in Heaney's statement.

Source (American Psychiatric Association) President Paul Appelbaum, M.D., thinks the court came to a wrong and troubling conclusion. "Physicians violate their ethical obligations as healers when they treat condemned prisoners for the purpose of restoring competence to be executed," he told Psychiatric News. "The only humane alternative in these situations is for the state to commute the prisoner’s sentence to life in prison, so that treatment can take place without being darkened by the shadow of death."

George Bush bestowed an honor on Judge Heaney on May 8, 2007.

Source On Tuesday, May 8, 2007 the President signed into law:

S. 521, which designates the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 515 West First Street in Duluth, Minnesota, as the Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and United States Courthouse and Customhouse.

You know there's always a kicker, right. I checked out the composition of the 8th Circuit Court. In 2006, there were 21 judges on the court. First those appointed by Democratic Presidents, a total of 4 (2 by Lyndon Johnson, and 2 by Bill Clinton). Those appointed by Republican Presidents, a total of 17 (1 by Nixon, 6 by Reagan, 3 by George H.W. Bush, and 7 by George W. Bush).

Heaney retired a few years back, he was appointed by Lyndon Johnson. So probably at the time of the decision there were 5 Democratic appointees and 16 Republican appointees. Oh yeah, the vote on "its ok to execute Singleton if given anti-psychotic medications", 6 to 5.

In summation:
The convicted killer goes nuts while awaiting execution.
The Supreme Court decides its unconstitutional to execute a lunatic. Its cruel and inhuman.
An appeals court decides its OK to execute a lunatic as long as they are taking anti-psychotic meds so that they'll know they are being executed.
A humanistic judge says how about giving the lunatic the anti-psychotic meds and then giving him life in prison.
The head of the American Psychiatric Association agrees with the dissenting judge.
The prisoner is executed.
President Bush bestows an honor on the retiring humanistic judge.
The makeup of the appeals court in 2003 - 5 Democratic appointees, 16 Republican appointees.

Further source material: Executed mentally ill inmate heard voices until end

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn is a great historian and commentator on America.

He is a critic of the best caliber.

Here he speaks "on human nature and aggression."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nobody Knows

Yesterday I posted about the new Presidential directive that allows Bush to assume complete control of all the government, essentially creating the new position of Dictator in a supposed democracy. The mitigating factor would be some catastrophic situation, perhaps an attack on the US by terrorists from Iran for example.

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive

A deep operative has wisely pointed out that this rather significant change in the tradition of the US is getting virtually no media attention.

Now correct me if I'm wrong here, but what about the so called liberal media?

Well, there is no liberal media, never was one, ever.

If there was a liberal media this would be the number one headline until somebody had a chance to squash the directive.

The list does not bode well:
A President that is the least popular President in decades and simultaneously removed from any of the implications of that non popularity.
An enemy that is ill defined, diffuse, and can pop up anywhere.
Iran, which is clearly in the gun sights.
A proclivity towards squelching dissent, removing basic American rights like the right of Habeus Corpus, along with illegal surveillance.
A Presidential personality that does not do well with outside advice, democratic process, or diplmacy.

Is it time to start speculating on an upcoming catastrophe?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bush To Be New Dictator

When you weren't looking, President Bush issued a new directive on May 9, 2007.

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive

Just in case the USA gets into another catastrophic situation, the President will take over complete control of ALL of the government.

Separation of powers would be nixed.

The Supreme Presidency would arise. Here are a few excerpts:

This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.

(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

(g) "Government Functions" means the collective functions of the heads of executive departments and agencies as defined by statute, regulation, presidential direction, or other legal authority, and the functions of the legislative and judicial branches;


Have a nice day!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Honor Killings, Virginity Pledging, the Usual Liberal Whore Suspects, and Neil Saves the Day.

The elective invasion of Iraq continues to bring many harsh and brutal consequences for the Iraqis. Iraqi women are suffering greatly and are experiencing a drastic reduction in their societal, economic, and sexual rights. Chillingly, since Saddam went down, there is the return and increase in honor killings. A classic Bush jiujitsu is revealed, where results violently contradict the originally expressed motivation.

"... the Bush Administration proclaimed that women's rights would be a centerpiece of its project to make Iraq a democratic model for the rest of the Arab world." source

"Although such (honor) killings are hard to quantify and occurred during Saddam's regime as well, Iraqi professionals believe that women are now being murdered by their kin at an unprecedented rate."source

"In Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, government officials are trying to understand and stop a rise in honor killings.... women are still dying nearly every day." source

We saw the widely covered tragic story finally told last week where "Dua Khalil, a 17-year-old Kurdish girl whose religion is Yazidi, was dragged into a crowd in a headlock with police looking on and kicked, beaten and stoned to death last month." source

I watched the cell phone video taken at the murder and its not for the squeamish, be prepared to shed tears for this beautiful girl. No one helped her, no one lifted a hand in her defense.

The honor killings actually enhance George Bush's faith based sexual abstinence approach to pre-marital sex and method for reducing AIDS throughout the world. The honor killings make abstinence seem like a moderate position.

There are a lot of problems with faith based abstinence programs, for example:

"studies also show that when teenagers from abstinence-only programs do have sex, they're less likely than others to use protection. Perhaps that's why the teen pregnancy rate in Texas remains one of the highest in the country, despite the abstinence-only policies Bush pushed as governor." source

The neo-conservative think tanks provide the manpower and their right wing filtered publications provide the support for Bush's faith based abstinence program. At The Heritage Foundation you will find numerous articles on abstinence only sexual theory along with supporting data. For example:

Adolescent Virginity Pledges, Condom Use, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Young Adults

I checked out the collegiate backgrounds of the authors of this Heritage paper and found that although one is a PhD, the degrees are not in reproductive medicine, human sexuality, psychology, and such, as one might assume, but in economics, political science, and public policy - always good fields to use as a base to make determinations on understanding and altering human sexual behavior for vast segments of the US and world population.

But what about good old red, white, and blue American sexual freedom. In the new conservative Bush world, the type of sexual attitudes casually depicted on TV shows like "Frasier" and "Drew Carey" -both shows sported Bush supporting Republican actors - all that would be part of the great liberal scourge that promotes, yes indeed, terrorism.

The amazing flexibility of the right to blossom new horizons that stun the innocent and to find segments of society to reframe, yields another fruit. You see there is a new thought out there understood by some conservatives and its that conservatives in America have far more in common with the fundamentalist Islamists, still hated and despised but maybe a little bit less. Folks on the left already knew this, but here we see a specific angle.

You see the liberalization of gay marriage causes fundamentalists of all stripes, Christian and Moslem, to recoil in horror. When opposing forces recoil at the same thing then maybe they have something in common, a common enemy.

"In 'Christianity Today', managing editor Mark Galli urged a strong stand against terrorism but also sounded a startlingly sympathetic note toward the Islamic militants’ anger at the “hedonism,” “materialism,” and “secularism” the West was exporting into their cultures. In October 2004, in the same magazine, Watergate felon turned evangelical minister Chuck Colson warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States would help radical Islamic terrorists by making “our kind of freedom abhorrent” to Muslims."

"Meanwhile, in May of that year, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan asserted in his syndicated column that on such issues as homosexuality, “conservative Americans have more in common with devout Muslims than with liberal Democrats." source

Finally, the younger brothers of the presidents seem to always deliver a jolt of humorous embarrassment for the elder. Here Neil delivers in spades, in spite of George's faith based preachments and tax payer financed abstinence programs for the rest of us:

From CNN on November 25, 2003: Bush brother's divorce reveals sex romps

"The (Neil) Bush divorce, completed in April after 23 years of marriage, was prompted in part by Bush's relationship with another woman. He admitted in the deposition that he previously had sex with several other women while on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong at least five years ago.

The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.

"Mr. Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her," Brown(lawyer for now ex-wife Sharon Bush) said."

"It was very unusual," Bush said.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Scraping

OK Its stupid. I know its stupid. Its crass, I know, and its easy, I know.

Trust me I'm working on a lengthy article that will be good, I hope.

In the mean time: Bush Sex Roleplay

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lazy and Busy

There's a humorous article out on CNN:

Why gasoline prices are rising while oil isn't

Humorous because the answer is extremely simple, and doesn't require a financial magazine snow job to duck the reason.

Its called monumental greed. Specifically it is monumental greed backed by an equally greedy government administration.

Laziness is both epidemic and in remission. There is active laziness like mindlessly sitting in front of endless depressing sitcoms, rarely funny, rarely clever, predictably bland, vapid, but always popular and always ready for the taking. Sitcoms are the whore of laziness.

There is passive laziness like sitting and staring at the ceiling and wishing life was 180 degrees different.

I suppose there is depressive laziness where the overwhelming psychological pain deflates ambition of any sort. I don't know any figures on this, but I bet its very very common.

I took a yoga class one time with the theme of working with depression. At the time I wasn't depressed but I took it anyhow thinking I could use it in the future or tell somebody about it. The instructor made us move, much more that a regular class. The idea was to simply get active and moving.

On the other hand, everybody is incredibly busy. Nobody has any time anymore. People can only talk for so long because they have to get going, get back to being busy. Talking isn't busy enough, you have to be excited. And so we get busy to get excited.

Excited is the new busy. Over-happy is the new smile. Ascending exciting impressive busy along with descending and depressive laziness is the new even temper.

There's a certain business to George Bush in Iraq. He wants to keep the war element busy. Maybe that's what the neo-cons are. They just want to keep busy, stay active, keep a war active and busy. Unfortunately Iraq is no longer exciting for everybody. Bush is active though , he insists its active.

Maybe we need a lazy leader, someone with no ambition and no excitement. We need a president that stares a lot. Somebody that doesn't want war because they're too lazy, its too much trouble.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Surrender

This is an interesting topic, surrendering to a greater awareness.

Surrender seems to be connected to ideas like letting go, and even relax, or acceptance, or acknowledgment.

Surrender also involves a great deal of attention. Lip service won't really work. Also lack of examination of what one surrenders to, or complete lack of contemplation might be obstacles to surrender.

You can surrender to the fact that you have a broken foot, but that doesn't preclude doing the best things to aid in healing the bones. So surrender still needs your effort.

Worry and irritations are part of the friction we feel when we hang onto notions that may be outdated or absent.

Trust or confidence might be needed to bridge the gap of uncharted territory that surrender invites. Also an understanding that the present situation is no longer desirable and so a leap is a possibility or is wanted. The term leap of faith is connected to surrender.

But then you get into an examination of what is faith. Is it a collection of half beliefs or is it complete confidence. And what about doubts. Can doubt be the chain that prevents surrender.

I find this an interesting topic because we face changes that require surrender to a new way of understanding throughout our lives. We adjust to the death of our loved ones and friends. There is a type of surrender that occurs after much grieving, where we truly understand that the death occurred or some loss occurred, and there's no way to resurrect that life.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Einstein, Picasso, and Bush

Einstein arrives at heaven's pearly gates, tells Saint Peter, I'm Einstein, and asks to be let in.

St. Peter says, "How do I know you're really Einstein?"

Einstein proceeds to write a magnificent equation that stuns Saint Peter. He is amazed at the dazzling complexity and the brilliance shining through the equation.

Saint Peter says, come on in.

Picasso arrives at heaven's gates, tells Saint Peter, I'm Picasso, and asks to be let in.

St. Peter says, "How do I know you're really Picasso?"

Picasso proceeds to draw a magnificent art work that floors Saint Peter. Saint Peter can't help but find himself profoundly moved by such creative mastery and artistry.

Saint Peter says, come on in.

Bush arrives at heaven's gates, tells Saint Peter, I'm George Bush, and asks to be let in.

St. Peter says, "How do I know you're really George Bush?"

Bush says, "Well I don't know how to prove it." Saint Peter says "Well, Einstein was here, and he proved he was Einstein by writing out this brilliant equation. Then Picasso came, and he drew this magnificent art work and I instantly knew it was Picasso."

George Bush then says, "Who's Einstein? Who's Picasso?"

Saint Peter says, come on in.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Biking

Biking is a great way to get around. If you are physically able, you can bike to work especially if you live 3 to 10 miles from your job. Closer than that then walk.

When you bike you tend to learn the side road routes. I bike to a job in one particular town avoiding the main four lane road which has no room for a bike, and I take the side roads where there is hardly any traffic.

If you bike 3 to 10 miles in one direction, you are getting that aerobic workout that is good for the heart. Also you have to be alert when you bike and that's a good thing. The brain is attentive and sharp.

You really need a helmet, its mandatory. I used to bike without a helmet and have a one week stay in the hospital war story. The helmet would have helped, no question about it.

99.99 percent of the time I am in complete disagreement with the President. However the man bikes, so somewhere in there lies a soul that has potential.

I do drive but I save on gas with biking. Around here premium is up to $3.39. I figure I bike about 3,000 miles a year. Let's say my vehicle gets 20 mpg's. 3,000 divided by 20 is 150. 150 times $3.39 is $508.50. That's cool.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dubai, Halliburton, Cheney, Iran, and Sexual Slavery

Lindsey Graham sparred with Barbara Boxer over Iraq, Sunday on Wolf Blitzer. Graham told the oft repeated smear that those who want withdrawal from Iraq don't support the troops. Specifically Graham said that Harry Reid called the troops "losers." Mercifully Boxer knocked that lowball right back at the pitcher's mound. The majority of Americans want a withdrawal of Amercian troops because they want American blood out of the Iraq civil war equation.

The Republican/neoconservative ability to create and publicly repeat these kinds of paranoic link-based remarks is a thing to behold. You won't see any Republicans rushing to draw links of any kind from this set of recent events and facts surrounding Dubai, Halliburton, Cheney, Iran, and sexual slavery.

The link trail starts with Halliburton.

The company that keeps on giving and taking, Halliburton, is moving its main corporate headquarters to Dubai, U.A.E.: source

The move has deservedly drawn widespread criticism.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, called the move, "an example of corporate greed at its worst.....This is an insult to the U.S. soldiers and taxpayers who paid the tab for their no-bid contracts and endured their overcharges for all these years...At the same time they'll be avoiding U.S. taxes, I'm sure they won't stop insisting on taking their profits in cold hard U.S. cash."

"Federal investigators last month alleged Halliburton was responsible for $2.7 billion of the $10 billion in contractor waste and overcharging in Iraq. "

The extremely liberal tax laws in Dubai also are an enticement, and keep in mind that, "Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive from 1995-2000."

Cheney turns out, has recently stopped in Dubai as well.

Abdullah welcomes Cheney to the U.A.E.

Next up is Iran. A few short days after Cheney visits Dubai, U.A.E., none other than Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also stops in for a two day visit: UAE and Iran cement ties

"The UAE is currently Iran's largest trading partner."

Just a few of the "links" you will never hear from the Lindsey Grahams start taking shape.

Halliburton receives U.S. taxpayer supported contracts, often times no-bid contracts, to work to support American efforts in Iraq. But Halliburton is now based in Dubai, U.A.E., and of course won't be contributing to the American tax base. Turns out the U.A.E. is also the largest trading partner with Iran, and as we all know Iran is the center of the Bush-Cheney call to war. But Cheney also likes to visit Dubai, U.A.E, the home of his alma mater Halliburton.

There are many kickers to add to this cozy inexplicable multi-parametered equation but the one that is quite telling is that the U.A.E. is also the home of a huge human slave trade, where unwitting people are used as sexual slaves and hard laborers. From the CIA itself

"...the United Arab Emirates is a destination country for men, women, and children trafficked from South and East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for involuntary servitude and for sexual exploitation; an estimated 10,000 women from sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco may be victims of sex trafficking in the UAE; women also migrate from Africa, and South and Southeast Asia to work as domestic servants, but may have their passports confiscated, be denied permission to leave the place of employment in the home, or face sexual or physical abuse by their employers; men from South Asia come to the UAE to work in the construction industry, but may be subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude as they are coerced to pay off recruitment and travel costs, sometimes having their wages denied for months at a time..."


The web is as tangled as it gets. There are vast sums of money at stake, power plays, war intentions that hint at using nuclear weapons, glaring human rights violations including sexual slavery, corporate tax evasive maneuvers along with waste and overcharge allegations, a strange convention of warring bedfellows, a Vice President, is there anything missing?

Cringing



cringe - experience an inward shiver of embarrassment.

Yes we all have made and continue to make mistakes.

Some mistakes are massive, some tiny. Sometimes we are unaware of them because we have a blind spot that precludes our understanding or acknowledgment. So we operate blissfully unaware of our effect on individuals and the environment.

Whenever the awareness does creep in sometimes we cringe, sometimes we are shocked, sometimes we laugh maybe out of embarrassment, etc.

Maybe there are cringe states where we walk around with a sense of regret, hopefully it wears off.

So we learn from our mistakes at least in theory and in legend or folk wisdom.

Maybe we are forgiven, maybe not. Maybe we forgive ourselves, maybe not. And we carry on.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Halos

We saw 'Into Great Silence' last night. Good movie, long, be prepared for that. Very sensitively done, the filmmaker let the movie rise from the film process, its less preconceived aesthetically and appears very organic. It is a glimpse into the lives of the monks in the Carthusian Order based in the French Alps, the well defined, contemplative life.

Wouldn't all religions if practiced to perfection, bring a person to the same understanding? Words and descriptions might even fall away at that point.

I like halos in sacred art, surrounding the heads of saints and the enlightened. In the film there are scenes of rain drops falling into water. So you see the plunk and the radiating circle wave that the drop makes in the water, very halo like.

So the halo is this unseen radiance of the saints' mind state and understanding, and probably much more, but at least these things, pure, holy, realized, and beyond.

Rainbows are halo like. Halos are circular, circles are continuous. So there's the notion of an ongoing continuity into perpetuity. This is how we want to think of the sacred, it goes beyond mortality.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tug of War

Following the news can be a task. Specifically, on May 11 two articles came out on the Iraq occupation/civil war. The articles appear to contradict one another, and must be read within a slightly broader context.

Both articles are from May 11, one from AP, one from the Buffalo News

From the AP: Iraqi Officials Discourage U.S. Pullout

excerpt: "Worried Congress' support for Iraq is deteriorating rapidly, Baghdad dispatched senior officials to Capitol Hill this week to warn members one-on-one that pulling out U.S. troops would have disastrous consequences."

"Saleh - a Kurdish politician highly regarded by U.S. officials and who speaks impeccable English - said he came to Capitol Hill to convey the "imperative of success" in Iraq."

Presenting a contradictory sentiment and demand:

Buffalo News: Iraq parliament seeks U.S. exit

excerpt: "A majority of Iraq’s parliament has signed a proposed bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels."

In fairness this article, unlike the first, does point to the segment of the Iraq government that came to lobby Washington.

It is interesting to note that "Saleh" is a Kurdish politician. The Kurdish section of Iraq is relatively stable compared to Baghdad and is frequently cited by Bush as one of the "we are seeing progress in Iraq" sources.

On the other hand the parliament that wants the pullout is primarily aligned with Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric. It also represents a majority in the Parliament.

There is an interesting parallel occurring. The Iraq parliament like our Congress wants a withdrawal date. The Iraq government higher ups just like our executive branch want more of a troop commitment. The Iraqi government was chosen by Bush.

Both articles are also quite capable of being used as an example supporting either side of the respective issue. However it is important to note that there is a difference between a few individuals pushing an agenda versus a majority of representatives of the people.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pizza Wish

This story has stuck with me. It is the one about Philip Workman who was executed on Wednesday the 9th. His last meal wish was to have vegetarian pizza delivered to a group of homeless kids.

Workman was convicted of shooting a police officer in a botched Wendy's restaurant holdup in 1982. Workman was 53 at the time of his execution, born in 1953.

He served in the military and was discharged in 1973 at age 20. The details of his crimes and trial are extensive and on the web.

Executed man's last request honored -- pizza for homeless

Its a poignant case for many reasons; the murder of another individual who was also a cop, this theme of fast food joints that frame his life, the details of how his lawyers worked to stay the execution, he had an 8 year old daughter at the time of his crime, the simplicity of his final wish and its good intention and the way that intention echoed in Workman's prison community, and the renewed controversy over how lethal injection may not be the easy death we have up to this point thought it to be.

There's also his name, Workman. It is a very everyman sort of name.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Surfin' USA

Can Presidential candidates perform extreme sport tricks? They're trying, and its the most extreme of extreme sports yet. They are convinced they can surf the monster wave, not just on one board mind you, but on two at once with each foot on separate and radically different boards.

One surf board is all too familiar. It is the expansive military, information, prison, war, capitalist, media, corporate, oil energy, debt soaked, genetically altered, and privatized mega-complex. The industrial aspect moved to China years ago.

It consists of defense contractors, and oil energy corporations that work in collusion with think tank 'intellectuals' and politicians to generate permanent war. It is media sources that keep the levels of information soft and incomplete, its the art of the empty sound bite haiku. It is Wall Street selected politicians primped out in public relations dialogue so they can pimp for the highest bidder and maintain power. Its much more and its huge and unwieldly. One edge of this board is rotten, the other edge insists its thriving.

There are figures that surf this board and only this board. A complicated network replete with hate based radio mouths and politicians that barely understand their own language especially when spoken from the hearts and minds of the ordinary citizen. The scariest figures are the inner core elites who want all wealth now, and can change laws, violate rights, stifle dissent, and remove any obstacle that prevents that achievement using any means available. Their present champion grabbed that board and took it to places that most Americans thought were off limits. People see the rot, and they are aghast.

The other board is more fragile and less defined. Its less moneyed and less coordinated. Its is the great quilted umbrella of movements and people aiming to increase democracy, clean up the deadly byproduct of materialistic fervor, some would say trying to protect humanity, trying to advance the civil part of civilization, trying to maintain and advance fundamental notions of equality, understanding, nobility, and survival.

There are champions of this surf board. Some get nobel peace prizes, some move and motivate us at the core of our being in the direction of the extraordinary possibilities, some leave us with lasting memories of the greatness of people, some change our understanding for the better and shake us from confusions, and most stay behind the scenes, invisible, but work tirelessly. They wake us up, inspire us, and lead us in the best way. One edge of that board is gilded and active and the other is in a great sorrow.

Is Barack Obama the dual surfer people think he is? He wants to usher in the age of green energy with its promise of no more resource wars with inhuman consequences. Yet he also wants to enlarge the military complex and maintain the rule of pre-emptive war and in so doing he appeals to the select neo-conservatives, a group well versed in war making and quick to promote the progression to war. How can he do that trick?

Is it Rudy Giuliani who at present isn't quite sure which side of which board he wants to start from. How about Hillary? McCain?

There's no way to wrap this up easily. We pick the problems apart piece by piece, try to understand all the details and implications, demand a voice, and push to aim our hopes for the best.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Value of Life

Deaths caused by circumstances outside of normal (normal?) warfare occur in Afghanistan and Iraq frequently.

In March, US Marines in Afghanistan opened fire on a stretch of road crowded by people after a suicide bomber rammed their convoy.

19 Afghans were killed and the authorities acknowledged that the deaths were unjustified.

So their was compensation given to the families of those killed by the Marines - the amount of money, $2,000 (two thousand dollars).

The amount of money in itself speaks volumes to the regard for life. What is the idea?

U.S. Pays and Apologizes to Kin of Afghans Killed by Marines

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tragedy Without Equal

It is the greatest fear of any parent anywhere, the loss of a child.

Cindy Sheehan said it best. I paraphrase, but the words were to this effect - A parent isn't supposed to bury their son or daughter.

Cindy was talking about her son who died as an American soldier in the Iraq occupation/ civil war involvement and the great grief she feels for that loss of life.

The Iraq War is an outrage. After years of looking at all kinds of information on this thing, I believe it was started with the motive of securing the world's resources. But the worst part is, who gets those resources? That would be the wealthiest corporations that exist on the planet.

The Iraq War was not in any way whatsoever started as some kind of humanitarian building or democracy sharing enterprise or any of that stuff.
The last thing these guys think about is people. Actually they don't think about them at all. Let's get real.

I do not believe any aspect of the mainstream propaganda that speaks of terrorism or dictatorships as the main motive. It a convenient hat rack.

Within this monstrous tragedy are the network of smaller tragedies. None could be as wrenching as this: Report: Iraq Child Mortality Rate Soars

Leonard Cohen stated the obvious. The lyrics are, 'democracy is coming, democracy is coming, to the USA.'

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Mars Microphone

I was out walking the dog late Monday afternoon and enjoying the spring blooming. The sounds of birds, kids, the breeze, its great.

So I'm thinking take away the sound of sentient beings and what's left; the sounds made by the wind blowing leaves, the micro sounds of rustling, the tiny light sounds that lay behind the loud sounds of cars, people, dogs, and the rest.

Then I was wondering what it would sound like on other planets. What's it sound like on Mars.

Here's the crux of the information I found on that topic, sound on Mars:

The Mars Microphone 1

excerpt: "The original Mars Microphone instrument was lost in December 1999 when contact with the Mars Polar Lander was never regained after its scheduled touchdown. Thus, there is currently no sound data available from the Martian surface."

also: "Sound on the surface of Mars is expected to be similar to that on Earth, except much fainter because the atmospheric pressure is much less than on Earth. Martian atmospheric pressure is about 7 millibars (as on Earth, this is altitude-dependent), which is less than 1% of the Earth's."

"A new version of the Mars Microphone is scheduled to fly on the French NetLander mission in 2007."

The problem is France's NetLander Mission Postponed, yes until 2009.

So, at present there are no sound recordings from Mars although the hardware is out there to do it, The Mars Microphone 2. It just needs a lift on over to Mars.

Monday, May 07, 2007

John Cage

A nice little documentary on John Cage, composer extraordinaire.

They get into a little bit about the open and chance qualities of his music. Openness is a characteristic of compassion. Open as in capable of generating a great deal of acceptance and accommodation. Its a neglected quality in a time when the bottom line and split second judgments are in the forefront.

A while back, I had gotten it into my head that I was going to do an interview with John Cage for a Buddhist publication. John Cage is a god in the world of new music and everyone involved in music was somehow affected by his work. I had read that he always answered his phone because he would say, you never know when you will meet a Buddha. I'm not a Buddha but I knew he would answer the phone.

So I tracked him down by phone and ended up talking with a well known musician in New Mexico where he had been staying, all with relative ease and with no obstacles in my way. Everyone was amazingly helpful. Then the next day, he passed away. Talk about chance, it was very sad and distressing.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Homeric Balderdash

The Republican Presidential debate last week was the pure concentrate form of bluster, obfuscation, and chest thumping notions as only those intimately involved in such a spectacle can provide. Examining the transcript for inaccuracies and homeric like mythologizing is easier than shooting fish in a barrel.

May 3, 2007 California Republican debate transcript

We must assume that these candidates knew their appreciative audience well: a less informed group of people can not be found. Who else could applaud these fantastic tales of war and country.

McCain: "We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos; there will be genocide; and they will follow us home."

"there will be chaos" - No, there is chaos now, car bombs, revenge killings, generalized fear, you name it, not exactly an orderly situation.

"there will be genocide" - Sorry, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead and millions more are now homeless refugees as a result of the war. The occupation became genocidal over the past years.

"and they will follow us home." - This is a P.R. firm sound bite, invented to scare, without merit, substance, or credible confirmation. In short it is fear mongering.

McCain: "...The war was terribly mismanaged. The war was terribly mismanaged and we now have to fix a lot of the mistakes that were made...."

No, mismanaged is a term used to describe the wayward owner at the local beverage center, not the overseers of a war. The keyword is war.

The war was exceptionally ill conceived, it was wrong from its inception, from the get go. The neo-conservatives were wrong in the early 1990's with their emphasis on militaristic domination and with a blind eye towards diplomacy. Mismanaged is one of those, massage the issue words, insipidly used to mollify the massive inhuman disaster that all wars truly are.

Giuliani: "...Remember, they (the Iranians) looked in Ronald Reagan's eyes, and in two minutes, they released the hostages."

Homer could not have done better. With a capricious and flowery dismissal of the Algiers Accords and the alleged pre-election Reagan manipulations, Giuliani delivers the campfire whopper of the evening. What's next? Reagan swam across the Atlantic, hopped and skipped over to Berlin, huffed and puffed and blew the Berlin Wall down? Does America need a story teller right now or an exceptional leader?

Romney: "...Of course we get Osama bin Laden and track him wherever he has to go, and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted upon America."

McCain: "...and I will follow him (bin Laden) to the gates of hell."

Tough talk and four years too late from Romney and McCain. That's why the Republican/neo-con/Bush invasion of Iraq which dropped the ball on bin Laden appears to the vast majority of Americans as if the USA invaded Mexico after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

With the Republican fortunes falling through the floor, with Bush's approval in the frigid 20's, its important to hold the Republican candidates' feet to the fire. They can't get away with this hogwash. We have had enough, way more than enough.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hidden Information

Often times news items that the government wants to keep a lid on, come out on Fridays especially late on Friday.

This is because people tend to ignore the news on the weekend.

This Friday the news involves the troops in Iraq and the state of their mental health. The news is harsh.

Posted on Friday May 4 at 6:55 PM Study: Anxiety, depression, acute stress in combat troops

Why would the government not want people to know this information?

In the upcoming election of 2008, Republican candidates are indicating that they will continue with the Bush stay the course in Iraq policy and there is a very keen desire to maintain a Republican Presidency, the stakes are high. Unfortunately the troops suffer the brunt of it. Yet we continue to hear the words support the troops especially from those with so much to lose politically.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Blind Spot

The Jungians talk about the shadow and the unconscious. Its well articulated in their model of psychology although for me it is not completely understood. I suspect it can only be that way for everyone.

Lately I prefer to use the term blind spot. Its narrower and simpler in scope but its still poignant, relevant, and common.

It comes up often. Its also hard to see from your own personal point of view. Your friends can point out your blind spot but they don't, that would be tactless, thoughtless. Even when asked directly a friend will feign blind spot ignorance.

I liked George Bush saying he was the commander guy. It was a lesson in blind spot group consciousness.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt said, I am the commander guy, mass worry would ensue. But we have adjusted to the Bush blind spot. He can say he is the commander guy and we don't bat an eyelash.

We like to see our presidents married to the job. I sometimes feel that Bush is married to his job in the same way that metal gets rusted together. Its stubbornly connected but the connection is fundamentally decayed.

If we could only understand the blind spot, then our troubles would be over. Those obstacles could get cleared, like that feeling of being in a sports car with the gas pedal floored while the back of the car is chained to a post that won't budge. Break those chains or at least turn off the motor and relax for a minute.

My simple advice is to go for a long walk. A long walk lubricates the mind.
The flow comes back and you get a tiny pinch of reflection.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Palestrina

I am a fan of sacred music, any religion, any era.

All music aspires to be sacred music including popular music, including all forms of popular music. Aspiring is different from realizing. Aspiring starts at zero and works its way forward.

Palestrina realized the ideal.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Green Zone Accomplished

May 1st passed and with it another anniversary of President Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' proclamation.

The further we move from May 1, 2003, the uglier the Iraq elective invasion looks.

All but stone etched Bush supporters with the unique gift of covering reality and history with loyalty, recognize that the official story about why the US invaded Iraq glaringly differs from the facts and the obvious. Its hard to find a word that adequately encapsulates the degree of difference.

Ray McGovern's recent statement regarding Bush and Cheney mandating another surge to make sure that the official withdrawal doesn't land on their terms in office, seems viable.

I'm reading 'Imperial Life in the Emerald City' by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Emerald City being the second nickname for the Green Zone. The first chapter alone obliquely reveals a part of why the whole mission was faulty from the start. With Baghdad being the focus of the surge, the Green Zone sits squarely in the heart of that storm.

As we know, the Green Zone is a 3 to 4 square mile area, partly resting against the Tigris and completely surrounded by a high masonry medieval wall now extensively refortified. Built by Saddam Hussein as a palatial residence and power center, it contains beautiful tree lined streets built to house servants along with an exacting list of comfortable and luxurious amenities. Iraqis were afraid to drive slowly by the Green Zone, they could be arrested and accused of spying or snooping. They had to ignore its overwhelming opulence and its imposition. It was an officially designated blind spot.

The US invades Iraq and shortly thereafter sets up its leadership residence in the Green Zone. Initially the Green Zone could have been 'liberated' perhaps opened as a museum, perhaps turned over to the Iraqis, maybe even raised to the ground, anything to ameliorate the fear that it held before the people and in so doing create an emphathetic foothold. Instead it became the privileged home of the US in Baghdad.

Who can explain this decision? Maybe nobody knew or bothered to find out. Is it because we have a President whose life is also so privileged and isolated from ordinary people that the thought didn't even occur and so a parallel situation is automatically established? Wasn't the rap on Bush I that he was out of touch with ordinary people and that's partly why he lost to the home grown Bill Clinton.

Regardless the Green Zone is both a psychological and military fortress distanced from the general Baghdad population, as foreboding for the past 4 years as it was under Saddam, excepting a recent infiltrating tragic attack and a continuous stream of mortar and rocket fire.

The obvious result or implication is that the Iraqis resent this. This does not help to make people at ease. This is not liberation, this is wound salting. This is a substitute authority zone to be feared not welcomed. The US planners and leaders made the choice to do that, to reestablish a center to be feared in Baghdad, cognizant of it or not.

Skip ahead to torture in Abu Ghraib and the new people in the Green Zone are a lot like the old people in the Green Zone.

I opposed the war from the start, most reading this did. Reviewing the war, it is dispiriting to see this level of short sighted planning in the mix. Regretably this is only one of many such examples in this war turned occupation where reality and rhetoric do not match.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Space

I envy the world of astronomers. Their work is to bring their attention beyond the intensity of our day to day involvement. Their job is otherworldly.

The job is also not escapist. Most of us learn about our world from the inside out, in some way the astronomer learns about it from the outside in, outside being the vastness of the universe.

These two articles are recent. Both cause you to contemplate the dimension of our tiny place here. This is helpful when faced with the ordinary stresses and tensions of each day, the way our world becomes microcosmic.

Potentially habitable planet found

Black Hole Cluster Breathes Out Enormous Gas Cloud

We talk about the shrinking of the world in terms of the speed with which we can communicate and travel, the world has gotten smaller. I was saddened to see that in the Catholic world an area of spiritual space had also gotten smaller.

Limbo no more.

I am of the generation that probably will not live to see the complete melting of the Arctic ice cap. For me that's a hard thing to fathom. The next generation probably will see it in their lifetime and they will have to deal with that loss on some level. The generation born in the 2030 to 2040 time will grow up without there ever having been an Arctic ice cap. It will be an historical period.

Arctic melt faster than forecast