Friday, December 23, 2005

Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled

Sen. Byrd voices his shock and dismay over the Bush administration's practice of spying on U.S. citizens

I am giving over this post to a speech made by Senator Robert Byrd in the Senate on Dec. 21st. Take it away Sen. Byrd:

" Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous president. It has become apparent that this administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.

We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is to choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the administration's flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this administration as "domestic terrorists."
We now know that the FBI's use of national security letters on American citizens has increased 100-fold, requiring tens of thousands of individuals to turn over personal information and records. These letters are issued without prior judicial review, and provide no real means for an individual to challenge a permanent gag order.
Through news reports, we have been shocked to learn of the CIA's practice of rendition, and the so-called black sites, secret locations in foreign countries where abuse and interrogation have been exported, to escape the reach of U.S. laws protecting against human rights abuses.

We know that Vice President Dick Cheney has asked for exemptions for the CIA from the language contained in the McCain torture amendment banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Thank God Dick Cheney's pleas have been rejected by this Congress.
Now comes the stomach-churning revelation through an executive order that President Bush has circumvented both Congress and the courts. He has usurped the third branch of government -- the branch charged with protecting the civil liberties of our people -- by directing the National Security Agency to intercept and eavesdrop on the phone conversations and e-mails of American citizens without a warrant, which is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. He has stiff-armed the people's branch of government. He has rationalized the use of domestic, civilian surveillance with a flimsy claim that he has such authority because we are at war. The executive order, which has been acknowledged by the president, is an end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which makes it unlawful for any official to monitor the communications of an individual on American soil without the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

What is the president thinking? Congress has provided for the very situations which the president is blatantly exploiting. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, housed in the Department of Justice, reviews requests for warrants for domestic surveillance. The court can review these requests expeditiously and in times of great emergency. In extreme cases, where time is of the essence and national security is at stake, surveillance can be conducted before the warrant is even applied for.
This secret court was established so that sensitive surveillance could be conducted, and information could be gathered without compromising the security of the investigation. The purpose of the FISA court is to balance the government's role in fighting the war on terror with the Fourth Amendment rights afforded to each and every American.

The American public is given vague and empty assurances by the president that amount to little more than "trust me." But we are a nation of laws and not of men. Where is the source of that authority he claims? I defy the administration to show me where in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the U.S. Constitution, they are allowed to steal into the lives of innocent America citizens and spy.

When asked yesterday [Dec. 18] what the source of this authority was, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had no answer. Secretary Rice seemed to insinuate that eavesdropping on Americans was acceptable because FISA was an outdated law, and could not address the needs of the government in combating the new war on terror. This is a patent falsehood. The USA Patriot Act expanded FISA significantly, equipping the government with the tools it needed to fight terrorism. Further amendments to FISA were granted under the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. In fact, in its final report, the 9/11 Commission noted that the removal of the pre-9/11 "wall" between intelligence officials and law enforcement was significant in that it "opened up new opportunities for cooperative action."

The president claims that these powers are within his role as commander in chief. Make no mistake, the powers granted to the commander in chief are specifically those as head of the armed forces. These warrantless searches are conducted not against a foreign power, but against unsuspecting and unknowing American citizens. They are conducted against individuals living on American soil, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is nothing within the powers granted in the commander-in-chief clause that grants the president the ability to conduct clandestine surveillance of American civilians. We must not allow such groundless, foolish claims to stand.

The president claims a boundless authority through the resolution that authorized the war on those who perpetrated the September 11 attacks. But that resolution does not give the president unchecked power to spy on our own people. That resolution does not give the administration the power to create covert prisons for secret prisoners. That resolution does not authorize the torture of prisoners to extract information from them. That resolution does not authorize running black-hole secret prisons in foreign countries to get around U.S. law. That resolution does not give the president the powers reserved only for kings and potentates.

I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the legislative and judicial branches. The president has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed to Americans by the U.S. Constitution.

We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the president speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election "a landmark day in the history of liberty." I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled.

These renegade assaults on the Constitution and our system of laws strike at the very core of our values, and foster a sense of mistrust and apprehension about the reach of government.
I am reminded of Thomas Paine's famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls."
These astounding revelations about the bending and contorting of the Constitution to justify a grasping, irresponsible administration under the banner of "national security" are an outrage. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. It is time to ask hard questions of the attorney general, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the director of the CIA. The White House should not be allowed to exempt itself from answering the same questions simply because it might assert some kind of "executive privilege" in order to avoid further embarrassment.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Historical Perspective

Recently, as in last week, as noted in the press:

"Another line was certainly crossed by Joe Lieberman last week, when he said, "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." Mark Schmitt TPMCafe

So here Joe Lieberman's endorsement of the Cheney view of the role of dissent, together with his blindness to the fact that only the president undermine's presidential credibility, from just an historical perspective,
is truely astounding.

Even during World War II, in the 1944 election, Thomas Dewey and the Republicans critized Roosevelt , the then Commander in Chief, all throughout the campaign. Did this effect the outcome of WW II. Not really.

Moving up to the Korean War, the first two years of that war, the Republicans gave Pres. Truman unmitigated Hell, especially after the Chinese came in and kicked the Allied forces back down to the 38th Parallel. Plus they gave Truman Holy Hell when he fired MacArthur.

During the Vietnam War, in the time period Dec. 67 thru January 1968 especially, both Democrats and Republicans were attacking LBJs prosecution of the war as Commander in Chief.

Further on in the Vietnam war, when Pres. Nixon opted for the invasion of Cambodia in April 1970, dissent exploded in this country. Nixon as Commander in Chief was severly criticized in other words.

Yet, now in the case of a war that was never all that popular with Democrats anyway, if we are to follow the Lieberman dictum, suddenly Democrats are to stop criticizing George Bush as Commander in Chief, and I suppose sit on their hands for the next three years.

Granted Liberman may be a big fan of the Iraq War, because he is a big fan of Israel. But in this case I think Lieberman is full of horse shit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

4th Amendment gets poked with holes

James Risen and and Eric Lichtblau report in today’s New York Times that President Bush once again violated the Bill of Rights for the sake of “security.”

"Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.
The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches."

As the Mahablog ( points out:
"Let’s see …

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
So how is monitoring emails and telephone calls without a warrant not a bare-assed end run around the 4th Amendment?

It is fairly easy to point out that once you start poking , say 5000 exceptions in the 4th Amendment, then we have become a country of men having supreme power, and not a country of laws.

Pick and choose which Bill of Rights to disregard, and then you really don't have a Bill of Rights anymore. You get what Hunter S. Thompson called," a Kingdom of Fear".

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people living life in peace...

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.


I remember Dec. 8 1980, I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, staying at a friends, Chris W. Was on my way down to Albuquerque, to catch a flight to
Houston. It was already a dispiriting time what with the election of Reagan, just a month previously. A dark day, and a dark time period
Imagine Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 02, 2005

Crackdown on Drepung Monks

"(Reuters) - Several Tibetan monks have been detained for their opposition to a Chinese political campaign they were forced to participate in, leading to a rare mass protest, two advocacy groups said on Thursday.
The Dharamsala-based Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said five monks at the Drepung monastery, on the outskirts of the capital Lhasa, were expelled and detained after refusing to sign a document denouncing the Dalai Lama as a separatist.

In protest, more than 400 monks staged a sit-in in Drepung's main courtyard on November 25, refusing to denounce the Dalai Lama and accept that Tibet is a part of China and calling for the release of the five monks.
Soldiers and police put down the protest and "resisting monks received severe beatings", the report said.

After the crackdown, severe restrictions have been placed on the monastery and nobody has been allowed to either enter or leave the premises since 25 November 2005. The officers maintain strict vigilance of the monastery and the monks’ activities round the clock."

My opinion: Asking Gelugpa monks in Drepung Monastery, the main Gelugpa monastery in Tibet, to foreswear the Dalai Lama , is analogous to asking Catholics to renounce the Pope.

I suggest writing the Secretary of State a letter bringing this to her attention, at:

The Honourable Condoleezza Rice
Office of the Secretary of State
2201 C Street, N.W.Washington, DC 20520, USA

and also sending an email to Brian Williams at NBC Nightly News.
He might even write back according to a story in USA Today.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Til Then

Well, after 4 days of holidaze, am not feeling all that inspired.
Still, I did succeed in transcibing the lyrics of Til Then by the 13th_Floor_Elevators, which is on their Bull of the Woods album.
These lyrics are virtually unfindable on the web. I've tried. Will add these lyrics here, and also add them to Leos Lyrics.
Okay, here they are:

Til Then

La La La La La
La La La La La
La La La La La
La La La La La

I hear the sound of feet.
of dancing in the street
there's a dance thats coming on,
have a feeling it won't be long
the sound of bells a ringing,
the sound of people singing

Something, I love something,
Something, I love something....

brings sadness from the heart
and the madness soon departs
until we've found a way
as what it takes to say
When each man lends his voice
and grabs his only choice

Something, I love something,
Something, I love something....
Something I love......

our dance is coming on,
and you know it won't be long

this is where the laughter plays,
so to lift your happy ways,
as the echo builds and swirls,
and you know the carpet fills,
and everyone will fly through space,
and so joins the human race

La La La La La
La La La La La
La La La La La
La La La La La

the new will soon be found
as the air fills up with sound
the sound of bells a ringing,
the sound of people singing

and each man lends his voice
and grabs his only choice

Something, I love something,
Something, I love something....

and you know I love those bells,
and you know I love those bells
something else I'd love to say.......

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"they'll turn the game board over as they leave."

November 17, 2005

President Bush's positive job rating continues to fall, touching another new low for his presidency, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds. Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%.

"Seeing the Bush Administration go down is not going to be a pretty site. Like angry confused children, as it dawns on them that they will not be able to win this game, that they will soon completely lose the ability to swindle the American public, then they will decide that if they're going to lose, were all going to lose and they'll turn the game board over as they leave." ----- Bloganator at Huffington Post.

Then from Robert Scheer over at the Huffington Post:
"You've got to hand it to Dick Cheney; no other modern politician has come so close to perfecting the theater of the absurd. Even as he protests his innocence of lying about matters of state, he lies about matters of state.

Parsed out, Cheney's recent statements amount to a defensive claim the Bush administration didn't lie so much as it was just calamitously incompetent, too eager for invasion to bother to do its due diligence.`The reality, however, is that while the Yalie president may not be the brightest star on the horizon, the owlish Cheney is nobody's dummy. What he is nand has always been, is the most bald-faced of the administration's war hustlers, shamelessly peddling, for example, the cloak-and-dagger tale of a Hussein operative meeting with 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta in Prague long after U.S. intelligence had dismissed it.

Similarly, it was Cheney who was instrumental in getting Colin Powell to make the astonishing claims of the intelligence source code-named "Curveball" the centerpiece of the secretary of state's prewar presentation to the United Nations. Now, thanks to a definitive investigation by the Los Angeles Times published Sunday, we find out that top German intelligence sources in charge of interrogating Curveball had already declared him an unreliable source.

"We were shocked," a high level German intelligence officer told the Times. "Mein Gott! We had always told (the United States) it was not proven -- it was not hard intelligence."

But perhaps the most outrageous lie Cheney and the White House kept -- and keep -- making is that invading Iraq was a sensible part of the response to 9/11."In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away," noted Graham on Sunday. "Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda."",

In making his continued one-man jihad against the facts, Cheney is apparently throwing Hail Mary passes to that part of the Republican base which will believe anything it is told -- having already lost the trust of the majority of Americans.But as Rep. John Murtha said in response to the slander by a Republican congresswoman that he, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, is a coward for arguing for the quick and complete withdrawal from Iraq, 'You can't spin this. You've got to have a real solution. This is not a war of words, this is a war."
Yes, Cheney's war.

Well, this has been sort of a connect-the-dots post, with me bringing in material from several sources.

As it is Bush at 34% means next spring, unless something miraculous happens, he can do fundraising for Repubs, but probably not public campaign appearances. By late spring the Abramoff trail should start, and Scanlon will squeal and start getting Repub congressmen indicted. By early fall the Scooter Libby trial could start.

Things don't look good for the Republicans , and the crack up in the ranks are a sign that panic is starting to set in. There probably will be a withdrawal or re-deployment, because if Bush tries to stay the course, with 57% of Americans thinking he's a liar,he will end up getting destroyed politically, and if Cheney is any indication of the mentality, or lack of, his stay the course idea will take the Republican party down with him.

As Thomas Friedman notes today," If ours were a parlimentary system Bush would have to resign by now."

Its too bad we have to wait til Nov 2006 for some substantial reaction to this regime to take place.Lets see ,2 years of Korean War took Harry Truman down to 23% approval. So Bush still has further down to go. It is messy, and it is going to get messier.
Since we don't have a parlimentary system , we are stuck with this turkey for another three years.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Check it out:

CD recommendation:
Traveling out to Ironknot , I was introduced to this cd by the Be Good Tanyas. Also my friend Gus, says it is a very popular album there, getting played a lot at IronKnot now. I tried it out,and can highly recommend it. Here is the listed review over at

"Once again a Canadian perspective helps to bring out the best in American roots music. Like the Band, these three women of the Great North have taken the traditional sounds of their southern neighbor and made them uniquely their own. They inflect the acoustic intimacy of public domain tunes like "Reuben" and "In My Time of Dying," modern classics like Townes Van Zandt's "Waiting Around to Die," and Peter Rowan's "Midnight Moonlight," and their own songs with only the best and most appropriate elements of their punk, trip-hop, and Motown influences. As in the work of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, you have to listen closely to hear how Frazey Ford, Samantha Parton, and Trish Klein veer off from the past into the future: a soulful melisma wrapped in Ford's whisper, a hint of a funk groove in their arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun," Klein's electric guitar peeking out between her banjo and harmonica. Chinatown taps into the quiet power found on the back porches of what Greil Marcus called "old weird America," and with nary a musical misstep, qualifies as a masterpiece." --Michael Ross

A soothing album for the soul.---J.P.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Here is one more photo from the stupa consecration. The respective statues, from left to right, would be Chenrezig, Red Tara, and Shaykamuni Buddha. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 11, 2005

Shrine during Stupa consecration

Here you can see the Stupa which contains some relics from the cremation of H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. His paranirvana anniversary happens to be Nov.17th. Posted by Picasa

Front of the new Shrineroom at Ironknot Ranch

This is how the front of the shrineroom at Ironknot ranch looks at present. At some point, the raster block it is made of will be plastered over and look like stucco adobe. Posted by Picasa

Photos from far western New Mexico

This is a view looking north from Ironknot Ranch towards Apache Box Canyon .
From what I hear, it was a canyon used at times by Geronimo and his band.

If the calvary pursued them , they would retreat to the far back of the canyon, snipe for a while , then use ladders to get out at the top of the canyon, and pull the ladders after them, leaving the calvary stuck, boxed up in the canyon, so to speak. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 07, 2005

Back tracking: a church outside Levin ,CZR

Posted by Picasa This photo is of a church in the Czech Republic, that I used to see every Tuesday and Thursday, when I was doing one on one English tutoring at Metrostaf. It is just outside the village of Levin, about 33km NE of Kolin'.

When I used to see it it was always like stepping into the year 1805, I mean it appears to date from that era I would say. When you cross the wooden bridge and come close to it, the atmosphere around it felt like going 2 centuries back at least. Just from visiting the catherdral in Kutna Hora, I surmised that the further east one could go, in the Czech Republic, Slovakia or southern Poland, the feeling of going back in time would also obtain. Quite amazing really. I kept expecting a Hussar in a Napoleonic uniform to come riding around the corner at any minute. Very quiet ,still place too.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back from a Journey to the Far End of New Mexico

Well, the reason no posts have happened for so long has been my journey to the Far end of New Mexico by plane, auto, and back by train and bus. Went to Ironknot ranch in New Mexico , which is a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center about 14 miles east of Duncan , Arizona.

What was happening there was Tulku Jigme Rinpoche conducted a series of empowerments from the Dudjom Tesar,and then there was a 2 day consecration of a small stupa that contained relics of the late Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche.

For anyone stumbling across this that has never heard of the Dudjom Tesar.; briefly Dudjom Rinpoche who was once head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism discovered a great number of mind treatures or terma, that were set down as specific Tibetan deity practices by him. These practices are needed by anyone doing the Dudjom Tesar,which is a Nyingma lineage ngondro practice> Ngondro being the preliminary foundation practices found basically in all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. One can uses Wikipedia and check out the little article I wrote on Ngondro there.

Also one can go to :, for plenty of info on Ironknot ranch.
At the time the empowerments were also given as blessings for one's mind-stream, which is how I took them.
I will write more about this in another post. Just thought I would explain the absence.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Red Tara Sand Mandala

Okay, it looks like this event already happened, but I find it interesting that the there is a special connection between Red Tara and the Dalai Lama.
Also he will be in D.C. in November

Tibetan sacred art ceremony in DC to mark forthcoming Dalai Lama visit
Tibet News, September 12th, 2005
Washington DC, USA

In honor of the Dalai Lama's 70th birthday this year, and his November visit to Washington DC, Tibetan Buddhist monks will create and then destroy a unique sand mandala at the new office of the International Campaign for Tibet on 20-21 September. The ritualized creation and dismantling of a sand mandala is a powerful spiritual and artistic experience, demonstrating the vibrant living tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Red Tara sand mandala will be created by monks from the Mindroling monastery of Tibet, re-established in India, at ICT's office in the heart of DC. The creation, visualization and dismantling of the mandala, which means 'circle' in Sanskrit and symbolizes the cycle of life and death, is an integral part of Tibetan Buddhist practice. There is a special connection between the Red Tara deity and the 14th Dalai Lama, who will be in Washington in November.

A sand mandala is made of hundreds of thousands of brightly-colored grains of sand, placed grain by grain, in intricate traditional designs. Visitors will be invited to watch the monks at work at ICT in the compelling and intimate ritual of creating the mandala. On 21 September, the mandala will be dismantled in a process symbolic of the impermanence of life. A press briefing will be held afterwards on the significance of the Dalai Lama’s forthcoming visit to DC.

The Mindroling monks, from Dehra Dun, India, will also consecrate a stunning Red Tara thangka (scroll painting) at ICT’s office on 21 September. The iconography of the Red Tara is based on ancient Tibetan Buddhist texts prophesizing the birth of the 14th Dalai Lama and including a special prayer invoking Red Tara to assist the 14th Dalai Lama to overcome extreme external and internal obstacles that could arise in his lifetime. Red Tara, one of the female deities in the Buddhist pantheon, is meditated upon to protect from fear. Mindroling Monastery is one of the six major monasteries of Tibet belonging to the Nyingma lineage and is currently the seat of the head of the lineage.

The construction of the sand mandala is a highly visual process which begins with drawing the design, forming a 'cosmogram'. Once this is complete, the monks painstakingly begin the process of applying colored sand through the end of a metal funnel onto the design. Mandala sand painting is considered to be one of the most unique and exquisite artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism. Called 'dul-tson-kyil-khor' in Tibetan, literally 'mandala of colored powders', the process is one of prayer, patience and meditation.

The venue of the mandala creation is a new cultural and diplomatic center for the Tibetan people in the heart of DC. The International Campaign for Tibet together with the Mind-Life Institute is hosting a public talk by the Dalai Lama entitled 'Global Peace through Compassion' on 13 November at the MCI Center (

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

if Republicans believe in their own BS

Found this over at Huffington Post; article by Stephen Elliot on Tom Delay of Oct. 3rd. It is a tounge in cheek comment to Elliot's post, obviously intended for Republican trolls:

Republicans! Don't read this! Remember, You won! You won!, Mission Accomplished! Terrorists are in their last throes! The economy is booming! Brownie did a heck of a job! My country, right or wrong! Libs are a Gay-pride, blackfaced march to the welfare office to get money to pay for their abortions and pot! Jesus is my co-pilot! W, The President! You got your 300 dollar tax credit! Gas is cheap! Buy now, pay later! Shop, shop, shop! Saddam had nukes! We were greeted as liberators! The Middle East is now filled with democracies! The borders are secure! Freedom is on the March! Our morals are the envy of the world! Our justice to others is a shining beacon! Oh, and did I mention Jesus? Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

Posted by: JeffDeVore on October 04, 2005 at 11:54am

The Continuing Saga of Tom DeLay, from Texas

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Return of the Evacuees

Well, this recent Tuesday, my Mom and I returned home, after a 5 hour trip coming south from northern Texas. The Houston area is returning to normal. The heat here is unbearable for this late in September, what with the humidity it always feels like it is 103 degrees F outside.

Last Thursday there were evacuees who had run out of gas in our little town here. Huge lines at the few stations that had some gas. A cousin of mine who came back last Saturday says that many of the stores had empty shelves in them.

The real damage was over in Beaumont/Port Arthur, and places like Cameron, LA, and Lake Charles , LA. Plus a lot of East Texas towns had damage, trees down, and power down, and 100 degree heat outside.

One could say that starting from High Island, all the way to Mississippi, this whole stretch of the coast has been hammered by Katrina/Rita. It will take years for many communities to recover if at all.
Houston, lucked out, as there was not so much physical damage as there was nervous damage--- the I45 100 mile traffic jam for example.

Our backyard looks remarkably the same except for some blown around twigs. Go figure. The high pressure system over Texas kept Rita from coming in near Matagorda.

So Houston lucked out this time, but given a hotter Gulf of Mexico, who knows what will happen in years to come.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Evacuee; fleeing from Rita

Well, Weds. the 21st, my Mom and I became Rita evacuees-- fleeing from a storm which on that day was rated as a Category 5 that was supposed to come in at Port Lavaca or Matagorda on the Texas Coast.

We decided to get out that morning. My idea was to get to Austin , Texas, but I quickly found out that most hotels/motels in Texas were all ready booked because of Katrina evacuees, and others fleeing from Rita.
We ended up leaving Rosenberg, at 7:15pm , on Sept 21st.

It took us 5 hours to go from Rosenberg to Eagle Lake, Texas. At that time Rita looked to be a Category 5, with 165 mph winds. I packed my stuff, and then Mom packed the family photo albums, her clothes, and we left thinking 145mph winds might wipe out our house, because we are just 55 miles inland from the gulf. Burnet , Texas was our destination, as that was the only room I could get on short notice.

So there we were traveling about 3 mph in a stream of cars. At one point I got very worried that if all the roads were like this, we would run out of gas,and we would be stuck at 12;30 at night, with my Mom with a pacemaker, plus hot weather is hard when you are old and used to air conditioning. Well , it was totally frustrating and also scary, as you could feel some panic in the air. I hope I never experience anything like it again.

But then , THEN, once we got thru and past Eagle Lake,then we took alt 90 to Gonzales , no problem ,had the road to ourselves,and then 183 up thru Luling, Lockhardt, then I35 Austin, then to Burnet. Got there at 4:40 am the morning of Sept.22nd. I drove from 7:15pm til that 4:40 am.

All that we could figure out , was there had been some sort of accident in Eagle Lake, but it was strange as when we finally got to Eagle Lake, it was just a 4 way stop , with a guy with a red flashlight directing 4 way traffic, that was backed up on both of this farm to market 2 lane roads.

As we waited some people cheated by using the opposite lane to go foward.
So we got to Burnet , Texas, totally wiped out.

We made it up to my brothers in Mckinney, yesterday. I am glad we did come here, as at the time there was no way to know Rita was going to shift and go in near Sabine Pass.
Both of us needed it. My sister in Sugarland, was going to escape to Brenham , Texas, but traffic gridlocked in Houston, and they could not even get out of Sugarland! They are okay though, as Rita went further east, and down to a Cat 3.

Though awful, it could have been much worse.
Maybe the Dalai Lama, who was in Austin, last Tuesday did powerful prayers, and got the magnitude of the karma reduced. Hard to say, but as I say, at least my Mom and I have a home to drive back to. People in Slidell, LA, had it much worse.
So I give thanks, for getting out of there, and being safe here with family.
It shakes you up, but makes you realize how precious our time here on earth is.

My Mom and I became 2 out of 1 million evacuees for a while, but I feel even more sorry for Louisiana, that has been hit twice in 4 weeks.

I brought my laptop with me, and one of the things I grabbed, was a box with most of the negatives of all the photos I have taken over the years. It is funny what you grab, when, you leave a house, and think it may get blown away. Some physical items can be replaced, but once blown in a hurricane, photos are gone. I am afraid my energy is still a bit in an uproar. Or stressed.

My Mom called a neighbor, who says our house is okay, so we will likely go back down this coming Tuesday. I am sure tree branchs are down.
In all it has been a strange and scary week.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Red Tara , again

Red Tara Thankha ---- found over at Tibetan Spirit - - just thought I would post this because a lot of the news has been really dispiriting lately and can only do so many political type posts. Plus it looks like Tropical storm Rita could be headed this way. This could effect the author of this blog.
I will say I have always had good dealings with Tibetan Spirit, check them out, they have cool stuff. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Reading Newspapers--- sort of a basic thing

I recommend reading "How Bush Blew It, over at Newsweek.
Here is an excerpt:

"How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.
But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes.

When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority."

and:" One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

And then over at MahaBlog,( here is that bloggers reaction to this article:

There's something fundamentally screwy about a president who won't read newspapers or watch television news, but instead relies entirely on his staff to tell him what's going on in the world. This is not normal. Imagine a CEO who pays no attention to his company or industry in general until someone on his staff works up the courage to tell him the company is losing money. Granted, a lot of corporate heads are oblivious, but not that oblivious.

(According to legend,
John Kennedy used to speed-read six newspapers every morning while he ate breakfast. As I recall, Kennedy usually had a clue what was going on in the world.)

Second, what is the point of an executive who gives no direction? Many's the time I've attended "crisis" meetings in which staff and managers and maybe a couple of vice presidents dealt with a serious problem. After thorough discussion of the goals and obstacles, and after questions are asked and suggestions are made, the big shots decide on a plan of action. They don't just sit there and yell, "fix it!"

From my own reading of History, I believe that FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, they all read newspapers each morning. LBJ had 3 tvs set up so he could watch all 3 network news programs.

It sort of pinpoints one of the really strange aspects of "W". He doesn't read newspapers, or watch the news(has to get a Dvd made of summaries), and he doesn't talk to any ordinary Americans, any American in some diner or cafe, or on the street, or anyone who disagrees with him. All meetings with the public are totally vetted events. Thus like Nixon he islolates himself more and more. Unique and strange, and in the case of Katrina, deadly for those stuck in attics, in the poorest neighborhoods.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Am going to post most

of Craig Crawfords post today to the Huffington Post, - - -The Unmasking of George Bush - - - "

Hurricane Katrina exposed to the bone what many consider George Bush’s true persona. We’ve seen it all in the past two weeks: his patrician instincts, the seemingly disingenuous posturing and a stubborn refusal to fully take responsibility for what goes wrong.

Bush could throw a trillion dollars into the Mississippi Basin, dispatch hundreds of spinners to shift the blame — even fly to the region every other day until he is out of office — but to many Americans none of that would undo their first impressions of his above-it-all response to Katrina.
The president’s handling of this disaster reveals a part of his nature that explains so much more than the arguably preventable extent of Katrina’s unprecedented wreckage. It explains such things as his refusal to back down on Social Security revisions that even his own party leaders don’t want anymore. It explains how the “compassionate conservative” proclamation of his first presidential campaign translated into little of significance, especially for the urban poor. And it explains why he hasn’t gone to one funeral for an American soldier killed in Iraq.In short, rising numbers of Americans perceive Bush as someone who thinks he’s always right, who believes his critics are know-nothing wimps, and who considers the little people as mere tools for the rich and powerful to do what he considers right for America." CQ Weekly

There is a bit more to this article. The full article can be found by clicking on the CQ Weekly link.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reading on the edge

What have I been reading lately? Aside from Blazing Splendor, which I reviewed earlier I just picked up How we Lost Iraq by Aaron Glantz.
After living in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, he pretty much sums up what many are beginning to notice: whatever goodwill we garnered for getting rid of Saddam, has been totally squandered in Iraq by an Administration incapable of making shrewd moves, or even what would be fair for the people of Iraq. Here is a large excerpt from a review at, done by V.I. Scherb:

"Aaron Glantz, a reporter for Pacifica Radio, has written a compelling first hand account of his experiences in Iraq between early 2003 and early 2005. This is new journalism at its best. Mr. Glantz is very upfront about where he is coming from as a supporter of human rights for all, whether they be Americans, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, or Iraqi Christians. He is quite willing to acknowledge the atrocities of Saddam's regime as well as of the terrorists and U.S. forces. Living among the Iraqi people and sometimes mistaken for one by U.S. soldiers, he brings clarity to a complex situation and puts a human face on people under enormous pressure that you won't soon forget. Glantz's honesty comes through in a way you never see in the mainstream media, whose reporters are often isolated from the day to day lives of Iraqis in their suites at the Palestine hotel. He is also quite willing to turn his eyes on himself, asking "How many people can you interview whose relatives have been killed before you start to crack--or worse, tune it all out?"

In addition to a strong narrative arc that describes how American liberators became occupiers became oppressors, the book is filled with details and conversations that make pieces of the puzzle that is Iraq fall into place. To pick one example, his discussion of kidnappings in Iraq brings up thought-provoking points that one rarely hears voiced. Glantz notes an Associated Press report that "80 percent of the roughly 170 foreigners kidnapped in Iraq had been peacefully released. Overall, it seemed hostages directly involved in the occupation [this would include contractors working for the military] fared much worse than their civillian counterparts" (217). Details that should be reassuring turn out to be disturbing, such as Glantz's comment that the soccer stadium converted into a mass grave in Fallujah "turned out to be a lot smaller than I imagined it" which necessitated the bodies being buried very close together, "and each mound has a small concrete slab as a headstone, the name of the person hand-scrawled with red paint. Sometimes there are more than one name" (273).

Although he gives you his own opinions (and identifies them as such), many of the book's most powerful moments come when he gives the voices of the Iraqis scope. To take one example, a simple conversation with a shopkeeper suggests a chillingly plausible reason for the number of suicide bombers: there are people willing to pay them, rumors suggesting one might get as much as $250,000. As the shopkeeper explains, "Of course some people will take money to explode themselves . . . That way their family and and their grandchildren will be able to live well in the future." While huge sums go to military contractors and to protect oil interests, little goes to help the locals. As the shopkeeper wistfully comments, "If some of the money went to unemployed Iraqi people . . . there would be fewer bombings" (119-20). The passage is shocking, not only because it critiques U.S. policy, but because it suggests that many of the "fanatics" may not be fanatics at all, but simply people who are trying to protect and provide for their families by victimizing the families of others. Can the noblest of ends justify the worst of means? It is a question that some Iraqis answer in the affirmative, but obviously many in the U.S. answer the same question in the same way.

Ultimately, this cycle of violence underlies the whole book, and it applies to both Iraqi history as well as to U.S. actions in the Middle East. Although the book is hardly a justification of the invasion of Iraq, the book is by no means an unrelenting attack on U.S. policy. Glantz sometimes defends U.S. actions and critiques the anti-war Left; Glantz also describes his struggle with his editors at Pacifica who want more sensational stories than Iraqi discontent with the lack of power, water, and proper sanitation. He refuses to believe many of the worst reports of the U.S. military's behavior, although he acknowledges that a number of them turn out to be true. One of the things that makes the book remarkably compelling, is that you can actually see the shift from denial to acceptance taking place in his narrative, a shift that parallels the Iraqis transition from hope, to disappointment, to outrage. Glantz also makes unheard of efforts (at least for a journalist these days) to talk to multiple witnesses and check out their statements when this is possible. If he doesn't see things himself, he describes the aftermath in telling detail and interviews survivors. Ultimately the story Glantz tells is a tragic one, a story in which a bad situation is dishonestly exploited by the powerful, opportunities to do good are squandered, and arrogance and poorly thought out policy make a situation increasingly spiral out of control. " see How America Lost Iraq

It is a easy read, and I recommend it to anyone curious about what has gone down over there. --- J.P.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

If we are to pull ourselves out of the.....

"If we are to pull ourselves out of the disasters of Katrina and Iraq alike, we must live in the real world, not the fantasyland of the administration's faith-based propaganda. " ----from
Falluja Floods the Superdome by Frank Rich, New York Times 9/04/05.

I emailed this to several of my friends . New York Times articles tend to get archived very fast now days, and then you have to pay. But this article is also over at:
Maybe it will be around for awhile there.

Meanwhile today I came across this clip from a Yahoo News article:
"Local officials bitterly expressed frustration with the federal government's sluggish response as the tragedy unfolded.

"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area. And bureaucracy needs to stand trial before Congress today," Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, said on CBS' "The Early Show."

"So I'm asking Congress, please investigate this now. Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."

Also over at the Huffington Post there is a link from David Corn contrasting how FEMA performed in Florida during 4 hurricanes in 2004 with the prepositioning done this time:"

How do you explain FEMA's abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina only one year after its swift action in the four storms of 2004?

Well, Louisiana isn't Florida. And Kathleen Blanco isn't Jeb Bush.

For the full story on the politics of Bush-era disaster relief, see:
"FEMA: Florida Election Management Agency"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Obviously a Major Malfunction

"Obviously a major malfunction"--- those were the icy, technocratic words of the capcom announcer at Nasa when the shuttle Challenger disintegrated in early liftoff back in 1986.

Well as early as last Sunday morning, when Katrina became a Category 5, someone should have assumed the worst and ordered some actual troops to be prepositioned, just based on the experience of Hurricane Andrew if nothing else. Instead we see a major malfunction of the system. And the same technocratic disconnect initially.

I remember at one point last Weds., because of 2 shots, it was announced that all rescue boats would "stand down" , until further notice.
Meantime over at David Corn's web blog, I found this reminder of what was accomplished during Dunkirk , when thousands of private boats had Stuka dive-bombers to worry about, while they attempted to evacuate British & French troops> I will let the rest speak for itself:

"I see that the [Louisiana] governor is committed to moving everyone out in the next two days. What is really obscene is that we plan to bus them 350 miles, in school buses, to another sports area, although this one will have electricity and air-conditioning.

That is not how a country responds to disaster, and it is pathetic that our government and leadership cannot expect or inspire more. I was thinking about the comparison to Dunkirk, when the British military fell victim to a massive miscalculation about the strength of Nazi troops (the parallels abound). The British figured out, on the fly, how to evacuate 338,226 troops between May 26 and June 4, 1940, from the beaches of Dunkirk, often using small privately owned craft to get in out to the shore. (I Googled it. No, I didn't remember it from Dr. Miller's history class in White Plains High School.) Over 200,000 were also evaluated from other coastal towns. This was all accomplished with little or no time to plan, under fierce bombardment and aerial attack. Legend says the troops were treated to hero's welcome with special trains and high tea waiting at the British shore.

We are pathetic."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Moral Absolutes

I just wanted to add that just because I post something, doesn't mean I endorse everything in what is quoted material. For example the editorial from the Arab News.
I think by using the term 'pure evil', they were just trying to make a strong point. I think that humans, being what they are not capable of absolute evil.
Okay, lets say 100% evil. Even some of the evillest people in history may have had at least some tiny spark of good in their lives. Even Hitler was kind to Blondi, his German Shepard.
Now don't get me wrong. I am no apologist for Hitler. In fact from a Buddhist point of view his mind-stream will probably spend countless aeons, in some deep, dark hell-realm. After it pays the karmic debt for causing the deaths of millions, at some point which only the Buddha can know, his shade will be released. So you could say in his case 99.999999......
% etc evil.

But if you ascribe pure evil to a human, you are de facto turning them into a god of some sort.
At any rate by posting an editorial from the Arab News, I was attempting to point out, that even in Saudi Arabia, with its Wahabi sect, which are very much into drawing lines of moral absolutes, even there, there is digust and horror at Islamic terrorism. And furthermore it is interesting to see what papers in the Arab world are saying about the latest bombings.

In other news I have added most of the article on Tara (Buddhism) over at Wikipedia.Also the article on Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was just 2 lines, so I wrote and added a bio for him there. This can be checked out at:

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Jewel Offerings-- -dedicating the merit to M.S.R.O. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

to further emphasize a point--- also found at the democratic underground. Posted by Picasa

'it's also important for me to go on with my life"

it's also important for me to go on with my life, -G.W. Bush.

--- this found among many places at:COX NEWS SERVICE Arizona Star: Bush on Saturday defended his decision not to meet with the grieving mom of a soldier killed in Iraq.
"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But, I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

So instead of taking 20 minutes off from clearing brush, or shortening a 2 hour bike ride, or from attending a Republican fund raiser, to share even tea and sympathy with Cindy Sheehan, 'Dubya' believes ' it's also important for me to go on with my life".

Meanwhile we get to behold the true nature of right-wing activism in the form of some lunk with a pickup truck with a pipe attached by chains , plowing through the crosses marking those slain in Iraq during the night.

I guess this is the way the right chooses to honor the fallen. And the way the right-wing media has villified and smeared Mrs. Sheehan, just shows there are no depths of depravity they won't plumb, in order to score some political points.

For a more uncensored take on this check out:

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Jerry Garcia---- Ten Years After

Gosh can it really be ten years since Jerry Garcia left us.
Hard to believe. Another case of you don't now what you got
til its gone.
His music lives on though. From reading one of his biographies and also one of the histories of the Grateful Dead what I took away from all that info was that Garcia really, really loved music, loved playing music, and loved delving into America's musical past and folklore, and extracted what he could and used it in a contemporary way.

Before his Grateful Dead years he spent a lot of time playing bluegrass music, studying it, playing with jug bands, collecting and sharing tapes, listening to old recordings, and learning all sorts of licks and styles.
And not only bluegrass music , but all sorts of folk, western, country, and old timey type music. The guy loved to jam with other musicians and loved to push the envelope of where a song could go.
You can hear this in lyrics from something like say 'Cumberland Blues':

Gotta get down to the Cumberland mine
That's where I mainly spend my time

Make good money, five dollars a day
If I made any more I might move away

In this little blog post there is no way I can do justice to his influence. I still enjoy American Beauty and Workingmans Dead. Just the first 3 notes from St. Stephen's always opens me up to a different dimension. Still trippy after all these years I guess. But after all Garcia was also called Captain Trips too.
As more Dicks Picks come out, along with other live concerts, and Dvds of concerts, everyone will be able to listen and encounter as much of Jerry Garcia as they want. So it is a shame he left us at 53 years, but didn't he ramble in his time?

He believed in sharing his tapes and the Dead believed in free taping of their concerts. Always a certain generosity of spirit about his music and sharing his music with the rest of us beings.I'll leave this off with a little lyric from Brokedown Palace:

'Fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than words can tell, listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.'

Can still hear in my head the steel guitar lick right after that.
Check it out :"Grateful Dead: Truckin' Up To Buffalo" on DVD complete concert at Buffalo's Rich Stadium on July 4, 1989 with the picture taken from the master 1" video tape, shot with six cameras, and featuring an outstanding new 5.1 and stereo mix produced from the master multi-track tapes, this nearly three hour concert features such staples as "Touch of Grey," "Morning Dew," "All Along The Watchtower," "Deal," "Terrapin Station," and "U.S. Blues."
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Intelligent Decline

"As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns,the ones we don't know we don't know." - -Donald Rumsfeld

Okay now, 'Intelligent design' is just theological speculation. As one blogger has pointed out once you start teaching 'Intelligent design ' in the classroom, then you need to also make fair time for:

  • The blood of the monster Tiamat's husband, Kinqu,slain by Marduk created life on earth (the earth itself being created by the remains of Tiamat).
  • The earth, sky, and all life on the planet came from the egg of the god Pangu and the god himself.
  • Esaugetuh Emissee created mankind from clay on a hill
  • The universe is governed by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, with Brahma being the creator
  • Odin and his brothers used Ymir's body to create the universe."
  • The ejection of fuel from a damaged engine on the spacecraft Terminus created the universe .

One could go on and on. For example in Buddhist Cosmology you have myriad worlds and world systems. In something akin to the Big bang there are periods when whole universes are created, evolve and then there is dissolution, decay, and whole universes disappear into emptiness.

But to be so sloppy about what is science and what is religious cosmology is quite moronic. Even in science or astronomical cosmology , it doesn't deny there could be a creator God, but it is something outside the perview of science.

'Intelligent design', is taken seriously by scarcely any scientific experts. It proposes that the natural world is too complex to have been created by entirely natural processes, so there must be a designer of some kind. As to how the designer acts, or how scientists could study those actions, it has no answers. Intelligent design explains nothing and predicts nothing; it isn't even a theory.

You can't ask high school physics teachers to teach 'Intelligient design ' because there is no science involved. Be clear if you want to ask for a Christian Fundamentalist cosmology class to be taught in schools, be up front about what you are asking for. It really shows that it is just a intellectually dishonest way of trying to get Christian Cosmology taught in schools. The voices of unreason do get loud at time. I hope all the science departments in the country get a bit het up about this.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Cool passage from As it is

This is a really cool passage from As it is by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Came across this as I was reading it, and hopefully any of my friends into Vajrayana will dig it, and maybe anybody else, it will at least intrigue.
Here it is:

"Actually once you have realized the genuine state of wakefulness, samsara is no longer the problem it usually is. In the normal state of thinking we experience joy, we experience sorrow-- there are all these thoughts, all our worries and plans. But in the very moment of recognizing this thoughtfree wakefulness, there is no problem at all. At that moment, samsara is quite delightful, with a sense of great equality, expansive, and quite open. You may experience happiness, but if recognize your essence, you don't get too overjoyed and caught up in that. You may experience pain, but if recognize your essence, you don't get totally depressed and caught up in that. That is why it is called the great equality.

Usually, when everything is going well, people get so overjoyed that their hat falls off their head--- they just can't keep it on! But if in that moment you recognize the essence, whats the big deal about being happy about fleeting phenomena? Everything is equalized. At other times people get depressed and weep miserably. But if recognize your essence, what is the big deal to be depressed about? This recognition is your best friend in both joy and sorrow. If you continue training in this, you will get very good results. If not, well, it is not too much fun in this world. Everything changes, there is not too much we can rely on. Samsara has a fickle nature and nothing remains.

We need to recognize the unchanging natural state of awareness. Life is not that great if you have to remain as a totally samsaric person. Everything changes; there is no steadiness anywhere in the world, among sentient beings, or what is experienced. Second by second, everything changes. In this essence, though there is no thing that changes."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padme Siddhi Hung Posted by Picasa

Found this over at the Arab News......

This is from an editorial in the Arab News, the English version of the main newspaper in Saudi Arabia. The recent bombing in Egypt, I believe shows , that the Islamic extremists are pretty much going after , or taking on the world.(not just theWest) Most all those killed in Egypt were Egyptian Muslims. How does this further getting the west out of Iraq? Evil times.
At least the Muslim world is waking up to the evil spawn nutured within their world.
Here is the link for the full editorial: Editorial: Pure Evil

"Yesterday’s barbarity follows a pattern — a pattern of pure evil, so evil that most people find it difficult to believe that human beings could do such things.
How can anyone justify the killing of innocents? No religion condones it. Yet that is what the militants do. What is that justification to target Egyptian workers at a downtown cafe? Why did they merit death?
Most of those killed yesterday were Egyptians. It is impossible to fathom the terrorists’ warped thinking, but they clearly think that ordinary Egyptians, like ordinary Londoners, are disposable.
Theirs is not just a war against the Egyptian economy and government, it is a war against the entire Egyptian people, as it is against all the people of Britain, of Spain, of Lebanon, of Iraq, of Indonesia, of the US — of everywhere. The terrorist is at war with the entire world.
It is not enough to hunt down and destroy these men of evil. The thinking that drives them must also be destroyed. That puts a special responsibility on decent human beings everywhere. These fanatics claim to act in the name of Islam. That has to be shown to be a lie.
Their vision of the faith is so warped, so twisted, that it has nothing to do with Islam. They pollute it, they make it feared, even hated elsewhere in the world, they bring shame and humiliation to the faithful. They have departed from Islam. Muslims here and elsewhere must tell the world, not just once but again and again, every time the fanatics attack, that they have nothing to do with Islam, that they have been cast out.
Until the message gets through the world, Islamophobia will continue to grow. Until it gets through to the fanatics themselves, unless they realize they are damned, the slaughter of the innocents will continue.
No major city in the world will be spared — not in the West, not in the Muslim world, not anywhere. In their minds, we are all disposable, we are all potential victims of their all-encompassing hate."

I would gather that if you were an ordinary Egyptian who lost someone in the Sharm el-Sheik bombings, you would develop a less than favorable notion of Al Queda.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Year 1000

(St. Mark the Evangelist - -from the Gospel of Ebbon, 9th Century.)

The following is one of my favorite quotes, from a book by the art historian Henri Focillion entitled, The Year 1000. Will post this and add a little more commentary later:"

History is made of a threefold cluster of activating forces--- traditions, influences, and experiments; and every civilization perhaps every epoch of every civilization, stresses one or the other of these forces in turn. Tradition resembles a vertical force rising out of the depth of the ages; but at times it loses its cohesion, its vital drive, and then fictions and disorting myths appear in its place. perhaps this must be so if tradition is to adapt itself to the new times. Tradition is only seldom unalloyed. In fact there are traditions that are out and out inventions, to serve this or that cause, and they are of no small interest. But diverse as the facets of tradition's internal ferment may be,the ferment represents the working of the past in the historical present. Influences, in turn, represent the technique of interchange and cross-fertilization. Peoples communicate with other peoples by such influences; the foreign influences which they bring are
accepted more or less passively- - -by way of infiltration, or by a shock, because they answer a profound need, or because they are disturbing. They are like a horizontal level of water rippled by diverse currents which establish a kind of changing harmony, a more or less stable consensus within the human community.

But the enrichment and renewal of history clearly come from the experiments that are quickened by mans urge to inquire and create. Experiments, one might say , dig into the future. They may be groping, insecure and full of mistakes; they may not always be fortunate; but without them the substance of history would quickly be exhausted, without them there would be no history but merely a hopeless round of lifeless forms of conservatism.
Periods bereft of the genius of trial and of risk lend truth to the brief and terrible phrase of the Merovingian writer, mundus senescit. --
(the world grows old)

To comment further: Using Focillions measuring stick, if one looks back over the last 50 years of the 20th century and on up to now, we see a period of extended experimentation in this country; the 60's and early 70's and then two periods of intense conservatism, the Reagan era and then the new Bush era. Not forgetting that the 1950's ,the I like Ike era was one of harking back to tradition taken to the max.

To have lived through and been a bit whipsawed by all the change during this time period, one can understand, why there might be a clinging to tradition as an anchor , or shelter during a storm of change.

On the other hand if one wants to appreciate a hopeless round of lifeless forms of conservatism try taping say, 3 hours of Dick Chenry giving speeches on Cspan or CSPAN2. and watching him for 3 hours.

Now as we enter the 2nd half of the first decade of the 21st century, I would say we are seeing most experimentation staunched in favor of another hopeless round of lifeless forms of conservatism.

And we are also having to deal with the influences of the West's encounter with Islam and the Islamic world. Whatever the outcome of the Iraq war, each Iraq war veteran will bring back a small bit of influence with them; of being in a culture very different from ours, and of experiencing events very much outside their frame of reference of usual American life.

At this point it is hard to say how this will all play out. Whoever chances to read this, I do suggest using Focillions measuring stick as it were and apply it to history on your own. See where it takes you, and what it reveals for you. Okay enough of this extended commentary for now. Selah.
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Monday, July 18, 2005

Tulku Jigme Rinpoche, Lama Namkha Drimed Rinpoche and Lama Jigme at the Yeshe Tsogyal Retreat back in May 2005. Thanks to Michael K. for the photo. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Time thoughts

Haven't added much to this blog recently. Well, there are other things in life besides blogging. Maybe thats a heretical statement to add to a blog.
I read where there are some 8 million blogs out there in the blogosphere. Well, some of them amount to nothing more than infomercials, while others have an incredible amount of links, small ads, sidebars, etc.
I just don't have 'time' to do all that stuff. Perhaps why I never got around to having a web page.
At any rate I do find 'time' to do a fair amount of net surfing, and I was surfing the other day for something else, and came across the blog(web page), that has this long extended rant, which is out there, for a lot of it, yet philosophically, is intriguing, though the author gets carried away by his own rhetoric at times.

His post is called:"No equivalent term for dumbing down of individual and collective memory" by Andrew McKillop, a Venezuelan oil industry commentarist.
Here is a passage from it more exclusivly saying something about the time of our eternal present of this post-industrial age. I thought I could fit it in since this blog is entitled along the Time Coast.

Here goes:"
Time, as the astrophysicists and cosmo-chronologists will tell you, can go backwards, forwards and sideways, and accelerates and decelerates. At the centre of big astronomic masses, like huge solar systems with very heavy suns, time goes slowest, and fastest right on the edge of the spinning masses formed by millions of suns and planets arranged into nebulae. Various rates of spin, a now obligatory part of any politician’s slogan gargling to the consumer mob, are comparable to spin effects on gravitational events in deep space. Essentially, the past gets sawn off from and totally dissociated from the future. The boundary -- called the present -- is in no way like the Eternal Present of Tunnel Society, but becomes a wafer thin line as the past and future, pursuing their own and separate existences, generate fantastic energies, squashing the present to nothing.
All becomes either past or future. The present becomes porous, wavers, and then disappears completely. The spin then accelerates, and a novae or supernovae will form – a gigantic explosion, sometimes visible to the naked eye on this Earth. Later, a black hole will emerge, sucking everything, even light, into it and grinding all to subatomic dust.

Through Tunnel Memory, it is fervently believed, we are protected from both the past and future: both have been euthanized and only the Eternal Present exists. Time, like History, has been ritually and mythically stopped, dead in its tracks, the New Economy and Globalization prove this! Yet the spin of fake events, real wars and instant crises is ever-accelerating, and has to be accelerated each and every day. We are building not only peace-through-war but Universal Prosperity. No shortage of anything, except occasional shortages of munitions for our heroic frontline troops, can be allowed to affect this. This is official. "

Whew! Heavy duty, but intriguing. The entire post can be read here:

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Understanding Iraq

Understanding Iraq...

Iraq looms ever present in the news.Obviously after a while, all the suicide bombings leave one numb. Having lived through the Vietnam war, there are some echoes of that era, but 9/11 has also changed how we view this war.
At any rate one can make some attempt to figure this place out, how we got stuck to this tar baby, and how we might possibly get unstuck, hopefully someday. In this light I can highly recommend 2 books I have read, one of them appropiately entitled Understanding Iraq. The full title is:Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History, of Outside Rule from Genghis Khan to the Ottoman Turks to the British Mandate to the American Occupation by William R. Polk.
Here is the Kirkus review of Polks book: "

Kirkus Reviews
A supremely helpful companion to, and gloss on, the news from Iraq-news that, to all appearances, we'll be reading for years to come. Former State Department advisor Polk (History/Univ. of Chicago; Polk's Folly: An American Family History, 2000), who has lived in Iraq (and speaks fluent Arabic), provides a swiftly moving overview of Iraqi history from the dawn of Sumerian civilization to the present turmoil. He's concerned with finding continuities over long periods of time, noting, for instance, that southern Iraq has enjoyed "a tradition of revolt against government and landlords" dating back at least 12 centuries, while the powerful capital and its dynasts have always lorded it over the countryside. One thing is certain, he says: "Over its long history, the one group that has seldom 'owned Iraq' was its people." That is in part because Iraq has throughout that long history been ruled by outsiders, whether Persians or Mongols or Ottomans-or, more recently, Britain and the United States, both of which, by Polk's account, have made a terrible hash of things, and both of which have given the average Iraqi much reason to believe "in what might be called the James Bond school of politics," whereby shadowy agencies and governments are really in charge of things, presumably because Iraq has so much oil. Saddam Hussein knew how to exploit that sentiment, and so, Polk avers, do the insurgents who are making life so difficult for the American occupiers today. Polk adds that Iraq has another long tradition, a system of neighborhood self-government that tends to mistrust larger authority. The British dismantled the system in the 1930s, not trusting the decentralization of power, whereas under BaathParty rule the local councils were co-opted. The Americans have done no better than either, Polk argues: "They focused on the rulers and neglected the people." Learned, constantly engaging and full of pointed lessons for those wondering why the war has not ended, peace has not come, and no one in Iraq save Halliburton seems liberated."

One of the things I took away from Polks book is that the Sunnis, the Shia and the Kurds, have been living in the Mesopotamian area now called Iraq, for some 900 years now. To think an American occupation of 4, 6, even 12 years, is going to make these groups totally happy in their dealings with each other is to live in a Neo-con pipe dream.
In other words if they have had 900 years of dealing with each other, then American intervention is a blip on the cultural radar screen there. It is foolish to think we can untangle and set anew all these karmic undercurrents or that American free-market culture is the answer to their problems. Indeed our being there has attracted all the Islamic hard line extremists from varying regions that only add to Iraqs woes.

The second book: A Fist in the Hornet's Nest: On the Ground in Baghdad Before, During, and After the War, by Richard Engel, is one I read about a year ago.

Here is the Kirkus review:"Hustling young freelance journalist Engel, now an NBC regular, explains how he managed to stay put in Baghdad and cover the March 2003 invasion for American TV after the major networks' correspondents had either fled or been expelled. The author's diligence in acquiring fluent Arabic (with authentic Egyptian or Palestinian colloquialisms when circumstances dictated) initially paid off in his knowing who to bribe and how often while lining up everything from visas to prospective "safe houses" as war loomed in Iraq. For the reader, it pays off in an account that, while adding little to our understanding of how the military process ebbed and flowed, adds plenty about the all-powerful word on the "Arab street." Replete with spins and prejudices, as well as legitimate and useful insights gleaned from years in a closed society, the street operates as the prime means by which Iraqi citizens interpret events that the world at large may see in quite different terms. This system, Engel's experiences underscore, is unlikely to change as the result of either American conquest or postwar programs. Engel by no means matches the intrepid reporter stereotype: he's constantly figuring odds on where bombs will fall so he knows where not to be; he feels palpably vulnerable with "American" stamped on his visa; and he agonizes for days over where among several accomplished local liars he can place limited, yet essential, trust. Eschewing bravado, he simply states what it takes in these circumstances to show up and do the job. Yet he was intrepid enough to endure plenty of contact with the motley and hair-raising assortment of would-be fedayeen pouring into Iraq from virtually every Muslim state.Well-organized Shiite religious leaders now consolidating power (including militias tolerated by US forces), he predicts, will ultimately decide the shape of Iraqi "democracy" and thus the final outcome of a war into which we had no reason to rush. Insightful glimpse into the sausage factory of TV war coverage and the less palatable complexities it ignores. "

I found Engels book compelling reading. It was hard to put down. Notice that both authors learned to speak fluent Arabic, giving them certain insights, that Neo-cons sitting in think tanks in D.C. tend to ignore. Engel offers a vista of how Iraqis viewed the war, and what life on the ground is actually like.
Of course there is much more out there on Iraq, and these two books are like precis in a way. I merely recommend them to whoever might come across this blog, and might be interested in further informing their opinion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Back in the 1970's my friend J.K. and I used to discuss the status of Bolivia at that time. He was not my only friend who was acquainted with Latin America at that time. Over its life as a country independent from Spain, it has seen over 223 change of governments.
Lately what has been happening there is nothing short of revolutionary.
Miners, workers, Indian farmers and city dwellers all protesting together, to ask for some share of the potential wealth from gas and oil.
Naturally the corporate media in the U.S. has not covered the story too much, devoting a lot of time to J. Wilbanks, Natalee in Aruba, Brandon in Utah et al.
There is an excellent blog called Blog from Bolivia set up by : The Democracy Center, based in Cochabamba Bolivia and San Francisco California, which works globally to advance human rights . Here is a reply, one could say an add on to a recent post by Jim Shultz ,who is author of the Blog:"
jorge h said...
As a Bolivian living away for many years, I can remember a quote my father whispered in my ears as a child. From what I see, those words seem to become more real today.

"Los primeros seran ultimos y los ultimos seran los primeros"

500 painful years of inequality, 500 years of outright racism, 500 years of gruesome injustice fueled by an arrogant "One-solution-fits-all" policy enforced by the IMF and world Bank have managed to create the lab where a civil war is born. The people are tired of being cheated by their own leaders and the ruling elite, they are tired of being ripped off by foreign investors, they are tired of being sacked by the transnational corporations, by the World Bank, by the IMF and by Washington. They are tired of being poor and without access to basic services, they are tired of not knowing how to read, how to learn, how to look for a brighter future, they are tired of living in deep ignorance and a hopeless existance, they are tired of being second class and third class citizens. They are sick of being fooled and abused because they are indians. They are tired of being last and forgotten.

They now rise in anger, clutching stones in their hands through tears in their eyes and they will be heard in La Paz, the entire Bolivian Republic and around the world, because their plight is no longer just theirs, it has now become a global issue. You can bet their plight one day will be ours too. Bolivia, often referred as the poorest and most insignificant country in South America, now becomes the lightning rod of a global shift, a spark that ignites a resistance to failed policies that have only created more of the same, poverty and inequality. Policies that have only created unimaginable wealth for a conniving few and have made chaos and war the only language these few seem to pay attention to.My thoughts are with those who will lose their lives, there are innocents everywhere you look, my family is there and all my childhood friends are there, I swallow tears and watch in horror the insanity of war may force them to pay a high price in all this. We will never be the same when this storm passes, who knows what uncertainty lies in the horizon for this beautiful culture we know until today as Bolivia. I hope the world pays close attention, it's time for greed, corporate arrogance, obscene inequality, violent and subtle racism to begin their journey into the night. We are done with them, the Bolivian people are done with them."
from- - -
Beautiful words. I pray this is a new dawn for the Bolivian people.