Sunday, December 17, 2006

3 Excellent Paragraphs from Salon

I was reading on the web this morning and checking some of the opinion pieces at Salon, and came across this great article by Gary Kamiya, entitled,"

A bombshell with a long fuse - The Iraq Study Group report may be DOA. But it shows the Washington establishment is finally confronting reality in the Middle East.

Here's a live link A bombshell with a long fuse, though you likely have to get a free site pass by watching an ad first.

And here's the 3 most excellent paragraphs which express what I have been thinking recently also :

"In fact, the greatest single failing of the ISG report was that it did not make its cautious military proposals -- to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq by 2008, to push harder to train Iraqi troops -- contingent on the acceptance of its diplomatic ones. As many analysts have pointed out, the problem with training Iraqi troops is that Iraqi troops are more loyal to their sects than to the in-name-only government, and so training them might simply result in their being able to shoot at us more accurately in the future. For this reason and others, the ISG's plan would still be a Hail Mary pass even if its diplomatic recommendations were followed; if they are not, it has virtually no chance of success. By saying, "If you don't engage in diplomacy, you should withdraw U.S. troops immediately," the Baker group would have greatly increased the pressure on Bush to abandon his failed stay-the-course approach. And such a link would have given Democrats in Congress invaluable bipartisan support to demand a timetable for troop withdrawal -- something they don't feel they have enough political cover to propose now.

Of course, Bush would almost certainly have rejected this proposal anyway. As his entire disastrous presidency has shown, Bush is incapable of admitting he is wrong. With all the certainty of a simpleton whose brain has been taken over by One Big Idea, Bush has been convinced ever since 9/11 that history and God have chosen him to defeat an enemy of near-satanic menace. (Oddly, this Manichaean attitude is echoed by his also highly devout enemies.) In his mind, the current crisis is the Battle of Britain, and he is Winston Churchill, rallying the British people to their finest hour. Unfortunately, Bush has chosen the wrong World War II analogy. Iraq is not the Battle of Britain, it is Stalingrad. And Bush is not heroically standing fast like Churchill; he is stubbornly clinging to a doomed position, like Hitler. (If he insists on playing Churchill, there's a more applicable battle: Dunkirk.)

{or Gallipoli; during WW I, Churchill pushed for the Gallipoli operation, and long after any window of opportunity had passed for making it work, the Allied generals kept pushing more and more troops into the maw, to no useful end}

So for the next two endless years, the American people, the 140,000 American troops in Iraq and the Iraqi people will have to hang on for dear life as Bush, like Ahab chasing the Great White Whale of "Islamofascism," steers his course straight for Davy Jones' Locker -- with the only consolation being that he will take the Republican Party with him. But the Bush era will eventually pass, and America will be forced to deal with Mideast reality. "

As Kamiya concludes his article: "Bush will reject the Baker Commission's report, the neocons are already screaming in rage and panic, and it remains to be seen whether the Democrats will seriously press for any Mideast policy change that will lead to a showdown with Israel. But the facts on the ground are not going away. "

Sunday, December 10, 2006

An excerpt from Thomas Rick's Fiasco

Well, haven't posted for a while, which means I may have lost what readership I had. Sorry. The Thanksgiving holidays intervened with my time, and then you hit December and more time gets sucked away.

Anyway I finshed reading Thomas Ricks Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq . Reading this along with State of Denial will illuminate many things about the war in Iraq. I highly recommend reading Fiasco. Here is a bit from about the book:

"The main points of this hard-hitting indictment of the Iraq war have been made before, but seldom with such compelling specificity. In dovetailing critiques of the civilian and military leadership, Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Ricks (Making the Corps) contends that, under Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, the Pentagon concocted "the worst war plan in American history," with insufficient troops and no thought for the invasion's aftermath. Thus, an under-manned, unprepared U.S. military stood by as chaos and insurgency took root, then responded with heavy-handed tactics that brutalized and alienated Iraqis. Based on extensive interviews with American soldiers and officers as well as first-hand reportage, Ricks's detailed, unsparing account of the occupation paints a woeful panorama of reckless firepower, mass arrests, humiliating home invasions, hostage-taking and abuse of detainees."

Then on page 408 we find this passage, which considering the occasion took place a few days short of two years ago are a devastating indictment of the 43rd President taking any action on what has turned out to be the truth back in 2004. It is slightly more than 4 paragraphs, but since I am recommending the book and citing it, I hope the powers that be don't get upset. Okay here goes:

"In December 2004, two unvarnished official reports hit the White House. The first was a somber assessment by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, at that point, the agency's largest station. Called an aardwolf in agency jargon, the assessment enjoys special status under CIA regulations. It cannot be edited by the ambassador, and it is delivered directly to the agency's director. Just a few other copies are distributed, and only to people at the top of the government, with recipents including the president, the secretaries of state and defense, and the national security advisor. "We face a vicious insurgency, we are going to have 2,000 dead, the CIA station chief's report stated, according to a senior U.S intelligence official with direct access to the document.

A few days later on December 17, 2004, according to a former senior administration official, President Bush received an extensive briefing on the situation from Army Colonel Derek Harvey, a senior U.S. intelligence expert on Iraq. Unlike most U.S. military intelligence officials involved in the region, Harvey understood Arabic, and also had a Ph.D in Islamic studies. He had a far less rosy few than what the president had been hearing. CIA and NCS officials who already had received the longer four-hour version of his briefing sat in. The insurgency was tougher than the American officials understood, Harvey told president according to three people present at the meeting. "It's robust, it's well led, it's diverse. Absent some sort of reconciliation it's going to go on, and that risks a civil war. They have the means to fight this for a long time, and they have a different sense of time than we do, and are willing to fight. They have better intelligence than we do." The insurgents had managed to mount about twenty-six thousand attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqis during 2004 and the trends weren't good.

The president wanted to know where Harvey was coming from. Who was he? And why should his minority view, so contrary to the official optimism, be believed. Harvey explained that he had spent a good amount of time in Iraq, that he had conversed repeatedly with insurgents, and had developed the belief that the U.S. intelligence effort there was deeply flawed.

The other officials present weren't entirely at ease with Col. Harvey and his perpective. " There was always the view that Harvey was a little bit over the top," especially in his certainty that he was right and everyone else was wrong, said a former senior administration official.

Okay, what about the Syrian role? the president asked.

One ot the CIA officials spoke up to say that his agency didn't see clear financing coming from Syria. The CIA had long thought that Harvey and other military intelligence figures were overemphasizing the role of Syria and foreign fighters in Iraq. No, Harvey bluntly responded with striking specificity, in fact , we do. "We see four different tracks of financing from Damascus. All to Ramadi, to the tune of $1.2 million a month. And it is based in a very Arab way, on relationships and shared experiences. And all the sigint [sinals intercept intelligence] isn't going to tell you that". But don't focus on the foreign fighters, Harvey told the president, breaking a bit with the orthodox view in military intelligence . We've zeroed in on them too much because our intelligence apparatus can intercept their communications. But they aren't at the core of the Iraqi insurgency, which is "the old Sunni oligarchy using religious nationalism as a motivating force. Thats it in a nutshell."

Its fairly easy to see that events in Iraq have unfolded exactly as Col. Harvey was saying they would back in December 2004.

At this point General Abizaid is saying give us 6 more months and perhaps 20,000 more troops, and the situation will get stabilized. More likely by then there will be 3,500 dead US soldiers, an additional 5,000 more wounded, and the civil war will be just as nasty as it is now.

Just another example of this Adminisration ignoring intelligence because it does not fit their idealogical notions, and then compounding their blunders. And also by late in 2007, their incompetence will likely cost us 3 quarters of a trillion dollars. Well, as the old Houston Post motto used to say, "Let facts be submitted to a candid World."

Monday, November 20, 2006

New Popular History of Tibet by Thomas Laird

The Story of Tibet: conversations with the Dalai Lama - by Thomas Laird.

I was checking out the new book section at the local library, and I found this new popular history of Tibet entitled : The Story of Tibet: conversations with the Dalai Lama - by Thomas Laird.

I started reading it and immediately found it an easy read and engaging. I am not going to do a review here, since I am just beginning on it, but I would recommend it highly as it is well done, and you get a thorough account of Tibets history as viewed by the Dalai Lama himself.

There is a very good passage on page 367, which I will quote several paragraphs of, as it elucidates His Holiness's view of the Tibet/China situation in 2006 and on into the near future.
The interviewer is Thomas Laird the author :

What is your prediction for the future?

DL:"I believe truth has its own strength and we must retain our faith in truth", he answered, returning to the theme he referred to in our first interviews. "Of course guns have their own unique strength. But the strength or force of a gun is short or temporary. Temporarily it is decisive, but in the long run it is weak. The power of truth stands up. Truth always remains unchangeable. Then there is another manifestation of these two. The power of guns is often not compatible with truth and very much depends on untruths or lies. So with guns, there are usually lies and destruction. When governments keep so many state secrets, this is a sign of weakness despite military strength. If a government is compelled to keep secrets from its own people, this is a weakness. Also in China, the government has kept too many secrets from its own people. This is not good. Tibetans do not have guns, but we are very strong.
We have suffered a lot. We have been victimized, but still (tell) the truth. There is no lie, no effort to hide our mistakes. We are open. Anybody is welcome to look at what we are doing. We are trying to be open, and this is a manifestation of the truth and this is a real strength. That is why I feel that , for the future, there is hope and it is positive."

"Some people might not see the situation you face so positively, " I said.

DL:" If you look at the Tibet situation locally," he replied, " then it seems hopeless, desperate, and it seems our time is running out. But in reality the Tibetan problem is not hopeless at all, not like problems from a civil war. Our problem is we had a conflict with a new guest with a gun who came without a proper invitation. But things change. The Tibet issue is very much linked to the situation within China proper. China, no matter how organized, is part of the world, (and) change is part of the world. In the last fifteen to twenty years China has changed dramatically, and this change will continue. The totalitarian system has changed and has lost its ideology, and politicians seem primarily concerned with power. Sometimes I feel I am a more genuine Communist than them.

"The existence of a totalitarian government requires military force.," the Dalai Lama continued firmly. " If it does not have any proper sort of aim or ideology, just power, such a system is unhealthy and is bound to change. Because of different technologies like the Internet, it is impossible for any government to keep so many secrets or secrecy, and this makes change inevitable. Therefore, change is already taking place, and the time for totalitarianism is running out. On the Tibetan side, the spirit is strong, and support from the outside world is increasing. I feel from a wider perspective, there is very much hope".Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Pieta -album by Milton Nascimento

Recently I got a hold of a copy of Milton Nascimento's album of 2005 entitled Pieta. Was unaware that it had come out, because 1) I was over in Europe then, and 2) I had lost interest in some of Milton's albums of the late 90s and early aughts. At any rate I can report that this release is delightful, and before I go further let me quote the short review over at

"Having recorded a series of highly influential releases during the seventies and early eighties -- and captured a worldwide following in the process -- Nascimento seemed to lose his way for a spell. But thankfully, he is back on track, praising the Eternal Feminine as personified by his mother and other strong women who have touched his life. The theme is not new to him -- the concept of a female twin soul/guardian spirit has recurred in his work since the beginning -- but this is the first time he has dedicated an entire album to the age-old anima/animus duality. His trademark baritone-to-tenor, crowned by an ethereal yet searing falsetto, is companioned by a roster of women altos (Simone Guimarães, Marina Machado, and Maria Rita Mariano) whose voices envelop his like darkly iridescent angel wings. Old friends like lyricist Fernando Brant and bassist Lô Borges, who have been with him since his youthful Clube da Esquina days, are on hand, as are icons from Brazil (arranger Eumir Deodato) and the U.S.(Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock). Although Nascimento's one-time naive sophistication has undeniably been superceded by a knowing, jazzy neo-primitive thrust, this is his finest effort in years and thus, an essential must-have. --Christina Roden "

I first was turned onto the music of Milton Nascimento while in the Peace corps in Jamaica. A member of the German Volunteer Corps in Jamaica, Vinnie, lent me a 100 min cassette tape that was all his music. I remember sitting on the RoofTop bar in Papine, just outside of Kingston, and the view to the south was tremendous; you could see the causeway going out to Port Royale and then south of that the Caribbean sea. Looking at that view, I would recall the song Cravo E Canela (Clove and Cinnamon) by Nascimento , and I could almost sense the energy of the South American continent. Btw that’s an incredible song, one can sense the heart of Minas Geraes and Brazil in it. I duped that tape and continued listening to his songs the rest of the time I was there. And when I got back to the States, I ended up spending a lot of time and effort to get all the songs of his that were on the tape, on albums.(This was back when lps still predominated) It ended up taking something like 14 albums to get that mix.

In the end though the reason I went to so much trouble to recollect all those songs, is the music of Milton Nascimento at its best, is so captivating, sometimes otherworldy, and always filled with heart and soul. He sometimes uses too much lush orchestration which veers into 'cocktail' music for me, but on the other hand his music can reveal incredible South American vistas at times. Nascimento exhibits sheer musical genius in many of his songs.

I did move away in my interest in his albums over say the last ten years, but this album is alive and brings his music up to date, without dipping into any trite trends. The first song on Pieta, A Feminina voz do cantor is one of the most moving songs I have heard in a long time. Its like Nascimento taps into some subconscious feeling that most anyone can relate to. Which makes for great art. Another similarly moving song is Beira-Mar Novo, in which Milton has vocal backing by a group of young Brazilian teens- Meninos de Aracuai.

All the songs have a ‘alive’ sparkling quality. I can recommend it highly, especially if one already likes Brazilian jazz, or likes his music to begin with.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Foreigner's Gift

The Foreigner's Gift by Fouad Ajami

Sometimes time passes by between one post and the next. For one thing I have been reading. And have just finished reading Fouad Ajami's The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq . Okay more on Iraq. The more I learn about Iraq, the more disquiet I feel about the whole project. Before I go further here is the outline type review found at

"The fall of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime brought the first glimpse of freedom for Iraq and unleashed elation, resentment, and chaos. On the one hand, there is hope: the Iraqi people have their first chance at independence. On the other hand, there is despair: the country is exploding with violent sectarian and political power struggles. Through it all, Iraq has remained an enigma to much of the world. What is it about this country that makes for such a seemingly intractable situation? How did Iraq's particular history lead to its present circumstances? And what can we fear or hope for in the coming years?

Fouad Ajami, one of the world's foremost authorities on Middle Eastern politics, offers a brilliant, illuminating, and lyrical portrait of the ongoing struggle for Iraq and of the American encounter with that volatile Arab land. Ajami situates the current unrest within the context of Iraq's recent history of dictatorship and its rich, diverse cultural heritage. He applies his incisive political commentary, his broad and deep historical view, his mastery of the Arabic language and Arabic sources, and his lustrous prose to every aspect of his subject, wresting a coherent, fascinating, and textured picture from the media storm of fragmented information.

In the few years after the Iraq war began, Ajami made many trips to that country and met Iraqis of all ethnicities, religions, politics, and regions. Looking beneath the familiar media images of Iraq and the war, Ajami visits with individuals representing the breadth of Iraq's populace, from Sunni leaders and Shia clerics to Kurdish politicians and poets, Iraqi policemen, and ordinary people voting for the first time in their lives. He also hears from American soldiers on the ground, and the result of all his encounters is an astonishing portrayal of a land that has emerged as a crucial battleground between American power and the wider forces of Arab religious and political extremism."

This is a fascinating book. Prof. Ajami has a distinctly different prose style which spirals around a subject; that is starts around the edges of a subject and then circles inward. It is not unlike the spirals on the book cover of Islamic tile art. It takes awhile to get used to, but he illuminates much in his own way.

He actually sees some good thing coming out of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And he brings an unique perspective being a Shia Muslim of Lebanese descent.

The gift supplied by the 'Foreigners' is in this case, the removal of Saddam and the bringing of democracy to Iraq.

The thing is events since I even recently read this book, has already overtaken the somewhat hopeful prognostications of Mr. Ajami.

For example here is what Mortimer Zuckerman in the Oct. 15th issue of US News and World Report says about the undertaking in a opinion piece entiltled, " A Sad Litany of Failures. And I will quote just two paragraphs:

"Nobody was entitled to think the Iraq venture would be roses all the way, given that Saddam Hussein had repressed Iraqis for three decades, depriving the nation of a cadre of local leaders like, say, Hamid Karzai in Kabul. But we had a vision of what might have been achieved. It would not be too much to say it was a noble vision, but it was not one grounded in the hard reality of a fractured, multiethnic society. Saddam held his citizens down by brutality and cunning, not giving religious leaders a key role, as we did, yet subtly balancing religious rivalries one against the other. Shiites account for some 60 percent of Iraq's population, and for them democracy means empowerment. But the Sunnis, who had dominated under Saddam for so long, were never going to accept minority status, and the Kurds were not going to accept anything less than de facto sovereignty, which they obtained after the 1991 Gulf War.

Occupiers. Alas, whatever chances we may have had to overcome these difficulties have been torpedoed by the breathtaking incompetence of the Bush administration in managing postwar Iraq. Senior officials from the president on down ignored warnings that we might win the war and lose the peace. Gen. Tommy Franks won the battle for Baghdad but seemed to feel that planning for the postwar period was someone else's job. But whose? We sent an inept group of operatives to run Iraq, often appointed because of their political leanings. Whatever support we originally enjoyed there we began to lose when we allowed criminals to rampage. Then the Americans, fabled for their can-do efficiency, failed again and again to deliver electricity, water, and, most critically, security. Today, the violence is estimated by one account to have cost more than 600,000 Iraqis their lives. "

What I notice hasn't been mentioned is that this October has not only been the worst month for Americans this year, it has been the worse since November 2004. The situation has worsened. Much of the territory in Iraq is really controlled by either Sunni or Shia militias now. Our troops will be lucky to get out of there, with even some semblence of government and order restored. And there is no guarantee, that even if US forces stayed there until 2016, that the day after all US troops are gone, all hell might break loose again. Indeed, the hell on earth scenario is already happening for this corner of our planet.Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

at IronKnot Ranch, April 2001

I recently substantially added to the biography of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche over at Wikipedia . And added the photo above which I took I believe April 5th, 2001 at IronKnot Ranch in New Mexico. I am going to go ahead an add to this blog, what I wrote, because I know over time, the bio at Wikipedia will get edited, and I fear 'dumbed' down or keel-hauled. To elaborate I don't like to see valid information subtracted from an article, just because someone doing an edit doesn't like the information presented. Okay . Here goes. It will make a huge post, but hopefully it will be of some benefit:
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H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (August 12, 1930-Nov. 22, 2002) is a renowned teacher of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. He was renowned in the West for his teachings, and also for his melodic chanting voice, his artistry as a sculptor and painter, his limitless compassion, and his sense of humor . He was the source of treasured Nyingma lineage transmissions for the thousands of people whom he taught in North and South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe.

He was born in the Tromtar region of Kham [Eastern Tibet] in 1930. His father was Sera Kharpo, who was actually a lama in the Gelugpa sect. His mother was Dawa Drolma, who was widely considered to be an emanation of Tara, and had a profound influence on her son's spiritual life.

By the time he was three years old he was recognized as the incarnation of the previous Chagdud Tulku, and soon thereafter traveled to Temp'hel Gonpa, a monastery about two or three days by horseback from Tromtar. As he recounts in his autobiography, The Lord Of The Dance:

“For the next seven years, until I went into three year retreat at the age of eleven, my life would alternate between periods of strict discipline in which my every move would be under the surveillance of my tutors and interludes in which my suppressed energies would explode. Throughout, I had many visions, many clairvoyant experiences, many extraordinary dreams, and within these, I sometimes had glimpses of absolute open awareness.”

After this retreat he received numerous teachings, empowerments, and oral transmissions, from various spiritual masters. One of them, Sechen Rabjam Rinpoche, told him that Tara meditation would be one of his major practices. In 1945 shortly after completing his first three year retreat he went to see His Holiness Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Rinpoche. From Chökyi Lodrö Rinpoche he received the Rinchen Tangyud empowerments, and caught his first glimpse of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who was attending the empowerments. By 1946 he entered his second three year retreat, this time under the guidance of the Tromge Trungpa Rinpoche. Near the conclusion of this retreat, the death of Tromge Trungpa forced him to leave before its completion. He then returned to Chagdud Gonpa in Nyagrong, and after staying there for awhile, proceeded on a pilgrimage to Lhasa with an entourage of monks.

He then did an extended retreat at Samye, the monastery built by Guru Padmasambhava, and afterwards attended empowerments given by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche,who would become a main teacher as well as a source of spiritual inspiration for him. After this in 1957 he stayed for a year in Lhasa, Tibet, in the same household as Khenpo Dorje, whom he regarded as his root lama.

During 1958, his last year in Tibet, Chagdud Tulku was advised to marry in order that he would have a companion and helper in the unsettled times to come. He later wed Karma Drolma, the daughter of a wealthy landowner in Kongpo. Later on in exile in India, they would have a son and a daughter, Jigme Tromge Rinpoche and Dawa Lhamo Tromge.

Following Tibet's invasion by China in 1959, Chagdud Tulku escaped along with Khenpo Dorje to India, after enduring hunger, and many close calls, where it looked like they would not make it out. His route took him through Padma Kod region of Tibet, and his party came out from there into the Nagaland area of India.In India Rinpoche lived in a number of Tibetan refugee resettlement camps - Kalimpong, Orissa, Dalhousie, Bir, and Delhi. He practiced Tibetan medicine , and was much in demand as his fellow refugees had trouble coping with the heat, and subtropical diseases found in India.

A year or two after his arrival in India, Rinpoche entered a retreat in Tso Pema, a lake sacred to Guru Rinpoche, located near the city of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. At this location he met Jangchub Dorje, a primary disciple of Apong Terton and a lineage holder of this great treasure revealer's Red Tara cycle. Jangchub Dorje gave him empowerments for the Red Tara cycle, and then he re-entered into retreat and signs of accomplishment in the practices came very swiftly. Later, when he began teaching in the West, Red Tara sadhana would become the meditation most extensively practiced by his Western students. While he was living in Bir, circumstances there gradually led to an estrangement with Karma Drolma, and eventually they separated.

After giving a teaching in Kulu Manali, the Dalai Lama extended an invitation for Rinpoche to go to the United States and teach, contingent upon him getting a visa. It was at this time that he moved to Delhi, and lived in Majnukatilla, a TibetanCamp on the banks of the Jamuna river. The process of trying to get a visa went on for three years, and was ultimately unsuccessful. During this time period he met his first Western students, but he also caught malaria and nearly died, and was saved by an Indian doctor who finally made the correct diagnosis of what was ailing him.

In the fall of 1977 empowerment cycles were given in Kathmandu, Nepal by H.H. Dudjom Rimpoche in order to propagate the sacred lineages to a new generation. Chagdud Tulku decided to travel there in order to receive all the empowerments of the Dudjom treasures from Dudjom Rimpoche. Hundreds of tulkus, scholars, yogis and lay practitioners gathered at Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's monastery for these empowerments. About his experience he says this in his autobiography:

“ During my stay in Nepal I received empowerments and oral transmissions for all the treasures he had discovered in this life and in his previous life as Dudjom Lingpa. It was a wealth of practices whose splendor is unsurpassed, and deep within me I formed the aspiration to offer this transmission to others through empowerment and teaching.”

While attending them Chagdud Tulku met and older lama from Western Tibet, Lama Ladakh Nono, who was known for doing mirror divinations. He subsequently did a mirror divination for Chagdud and told him he should go to the West and benefit many people there by teaching the Dharma. He also predicted that a Western woman would come into his life and that this would be good.

He continued to stay in Nepal on into 1978 in order to attend a new series of empowerments in the Choling Tesar cycle given by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche. It was while attending one of these empowerments, that a Western woman , Jane Dedman, approached Chagdud Rinpoche with the offering of a white scarf and a jar of honey. Afterwards he invited her to lunch, and shortly after this he gave her some teachings. A month or so later he accepted her offer to serve as his attendant in retreat after the empowerments. This retreat lasted for several months, after which Dudjom Rinpoche among other things suggested Chagdud go to America to teach.

After many months of waiting he was finally granted a visa and landed in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 1979. Shortly after this, he married Jane in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The early years of his teaching in the Americas was spent in Eugene, and Cottage Grove Oregon. In 1983, at the request of his
students, he established Chagdud Gonpa Foundation.He soon ordained his first lama, a Western woman named Inge Sandvoss, as Lama Yeshe Zangmo.

Additionally in the time period of 1980 through 1987 he gave many teachings and invited many other renowned Lamas such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, and Kyabje Penor Rinpoche to Oregon where they bestowed many empowerments and teachings. He also helped set up Padma Publications which eventually published his two books: The Lord of the Dance, and Gates to Buddhist Practice. Padma Publications also, with the assistance of Richard Baron began the monumental task of translating from Tibetan into English, Longchenpas Seven Treasuries , of which three volumes have been published to date.

In 1987 he returned to Tibet for the first time since 1959. He traveled to Kham, visiting the three monasteries of his youth ,and actually bestowed empowerments to the monastic staff there. His son, Jigme Tromge Rinpoche, traveled with him to Tibet and the next year immigrated to the United States, entering a three-year retreat a few months after his arrival.
Then in 1988 after land was acquired in the Trinity Alps of Northern California, the main seat of Chagdud Gonpa Foundation was created there as Rigzin Ling. It was here that Chagdud Tulku offered the empowerments and oral transmissions of the Dudjom Treasures in 1991, and several years later, of the supreme dzogchen cycle, Nyingt'hig Yabzhi.

In 1992 he received an invitation to teach in Brazil and he would become a pioneer insofar as spreading the Dharma in South America. Throughout the 1990s he maintained an extensive teaching schedule, put many of his senior students into three year retreats, and helping to establish many Chagdud Gonpa centers throughout the Western Hemisphere. These include, more than 38 Dharma centers under Chagdud Tulku's supervision and inspiration, in America, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Switzerland and
Australia. The best known are Rigzin Ling in Junction City, California and Khadro Ling, his main center in Três Coroas, Brazil.

In all his teachings he was known for stressing pure motivation in doing spiritual practice. He once wrote, "In the course of my Buddhist training, I have received teachings on many philosophical topics and meditative methods. Of all teachings, I find none more important than pure motivation. If I had to leave only one legacy to my students, it would be the wisdom of pure motivation. If I were to be known by one title, it would be the 'motivation lama.'"

In this context ‘pure motivation’ means the cultivation of bodhicitta , which is the enlightened intent of doing practice for the benefit of oneself, and all other sentient beings.

In 1995 he moved to Khadro Ling, in Río Grande do Sul, Brazil, and it became the main seat of his Dharmic activities, for the rest of his life. In 1996 the first Brazilian Dzogchen retreat took place at Khadro Ling and a large Guru Rinpoche statue was created there. In the next few years, he traveled in South America, giving teachings in Uruguay, Argentina, and
Chile, in addition to different parts of Brazil. He also continued to travel to his centers in the United States, and made frequent visits to Nepal, a return to Chagdud Gompa in eastern Tibet and a visit to mainland China. During this same time period, in addition to leading Drubchens and month long Dzogchen retreats, he also trained his students in the sacred arts of
sculpture and painting, as well as ritual dance, chanting, and music.

In 1998, construction began on the lha khang (temple) of Khadro Ling. In July 1998, the empowerments of the Taksham Treasures were bestowed by Terton Namkhai Drimed in the still incomplete temple. This temple was followed by an enormous prayer wheel project, perhaps the largest in the Western Hemisphere, then eight magnificent stupas, and a monumental statue of Akshobhya Buddha. In the same period, in Parping, Nepal, Rinpoche built a new retreat center where eight people began training
according to the Kat'hog tradition under Kyabje Getse Tulku.

While Chagdud Rinpoche kept up a tremendous amount of Dharmic actvity, in the last few years of his life he was somewhat slowed down by diabetes, and in 1997, he entered a clinic and was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. In the last year of his life Rinpoche's body began to sabotage his outer activities. He tired more easily, and travel became difficult. In 2002, he cancelled a trip to the United States, which had been scheduled for October, and instead entered strict retreat.

In the last week of his life, he concluded this retreat on Tuesday, November 12th , worked with a student artist to complete a statue of Amitabha, talked with many of his students, and led a training in p'howa (transference of consciousness at the moment of death) for more than two hundred people. He continued teaching with great vigor until about 9 pm on Saturday night
November 16th. Then on Sunday morning of the 17th, at about 4:15 a.m., Brazilian daylight time, he suffered massive heart failure while sitting up in bed.

After this Rinpoche remained in a state of meditation for almost six full days.The ability to remain in meditation after the breath stops is known as (t'hug dam).His son Tulku Jigme Rinpoche described this in a release to the Brazilian press:

“After his last breath, my father remained in a state of meditation foralmost six full days that prevented the usual deterioration of hisbody. The ability to remain in a state of meditation after the breath stops iswell-known among great Tibetan masters, but circumstances have rarelyallowed it to occur in the West. Chagdud Rinpoche remained sitting ina natural, lifelike meditation posture, with little visible change ofcolor or expression. During that time, no one touched his body.

Until the sixth day, Friday, November 22rd, Rinpoche showed no physical signs that his meditation had ended. In the interim we were inconstant consultation with a lawyer and other officials about local customs and regulations. Friday midday, his meditation ended and his mind
separated from his body. Within hours, his appearance changed. He took on the signs typical of those occurring within the first 24 hours of death.”

Afterwards his ku dun (the physical body) was flown to Kathmandu, Nepal, and to the retreat center in Parping. During the forty-nine days that followed, Getse Tulku Rinpoche and Jigme Tromge Rinpoche led ceremonies in Parping,to purify inauspicious circumstances to Rinpoche's rebirth and to generate great merit through offerings and practice.

A year later on the full moon of December 8, 2003, Rinpoche's cremation was held on Jigme Rinpoche's land in Parping, with Kyabje Mogtza Rinpoche, one of the highest lamas of Kat'hog Gonpa, serving as Vajra Master. Hundreds of Rinpoche's students gathered, to mourn the loss of his direct physical presence, and made prayers and offerings for his eventual rebirth.

His wife Chagdud Khadro and his son Jigme Tromge Rinpoche continue to teach and carry on Chagdud's many projects and practices.

Monday, October 09, 2006

something I read

Well, haven't posted for a while. Actually I have had several posts brewing in my brain, but just haven't got round to putting any together.

Politics right now predominate, but some are being covered so extensively now, I see no need to add to that fray at the moment.

Meanwhile I started reading Mediterranean Winter: The Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece by Robert D. Kaplan and came across this passage which I shall quote:

"For those who in Kazantzaki's words, "squander their lives" with the Tigress, (the White Goddess), the great events of life come from the books, rather than the people, one comes across. Some books show us a new world, others vindicate our own experience. Books can lead you astray, they can ruin you, they can deliver you from the strictures of your environment. Because some are so important one remembers perfectly the circumstances in which one found them , and read them.

You don't find the books that change your life by accident. One finds them the way a ragpicker finds something useful in the garbage, or the way a hunter accidentally encounters his prey. The enterprise demands vigilance, says the philospher Walter Benjamin: it takes practice to lose one's way in a city in order to discover something important about it."

I just started reading it, and am already enjoying it. I recommend it.

Here is a initial description from the inside flap cover to give you an idea of what it is about:

"In Mediterranean Winter, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Balkan Ghosts and Eastward to Tartary, relives an austere, haunting journey he took as a youth through the off-season Mediterranean. The awnings are rolled up and the other tourists are gone, so the damp, cold weather takes him back to the 1950s and earlier - - - a golden, intensely personal age of tourism.

Decades ago, Kaplan voyaged from North Africa to Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece, luxuriating in the radical freedom of youth, unaccountable to time because there was always time to make up for a mistake. He recalls that journey in this Persian miniature of a book, less to look inward into his own past than to look outward in order to dissect the process of learning through travel, in which a succession of new landscapes can lead to books and artwork never before encountered."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Excerpt from an interview of Sidney Blumenthal

I really enjoyed the interview with Sidney Blumenthal over at Welcome to WorkingForChange. I am posting a short bit of it here. For the full interview here is the raw link:

Sidney Blumenthal is "both a trenchant, learned journalist and a tested political counsel who served as a former special advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House, Sidney Blumenthal has been writing commentary on politics regularly for and The Guardian since 2003. Blumenthal is a wordsmith with lacerating insight."

Okay here is just a small part of the "Buzzflash" interview:

"BuzzFlash: Much of what you've written so accurately and trenchantly points to the failure of the Bush administration to achieve its own stated goals. Really, Iraq is only the most tragic and at the same time, the most ludicrous example of how they have constantly shifted their goals and even failed every time they've shifted them. It might have been something extremely different if this were a radical government, and actually had succeeded at something beyond making the wealthy wealthier and leading us to the point of bankruptcy. I guess those are their two successes in some weird sort of way.

But you write frequently about their failures -- that, by their own standards, they've failed. Of all the many reasons they've given for going to Iraq, none seems to hold up. What we're left with is that they're stopping terrorism there, when we're really just mediating a civil war at this point between Sunnis and Shiites. Given all this failure, how are they able to continue to rule with the trump card of "you need us to fight against terrorism"? I know you can kind of manufacture "truthiness," as Stephen Colbert says on television, with big bad scary commercials with wolves in them. But the reality is failure, as you've pointed out. How can they get away with this?

Sidney Blumenthal: For every failure, Bush develops a new front where he insists that he is required to save us from a new threat. The Bush universe of threats is a constantly expanding universe as he moves to politically higher ground, escaping from failure after failure. He's not only radical, but the consequences of his radicalism have been catastrophic. These people have been deeply incompetent.
Now, some of the things that they're incompetent about go to the heart of what they believe. Their incompetence is not some inadvertent byproduct. It actually derives from their principles.
For example, consider what happened to New Orleans and the aftermath from Hurricane Katrina -- the destruction of a major American city, an absolute inability of the federal government through FEMA to cope as it should have with this terrible catastrophe. Why was it unable to cope? Well, the Bush Administration doesn't really believe in government. That's one of its dirty little secrets. So they turned FEMA into a dumping ground for political hacks. They demoted it. They cut it apart. They drove out professionals. They turned it into a plaything for lobbyists and no-bid contractors. What's going on throughout the government is a kind of FEMA-ization.

What has happened in Iraq in the occupation is not much different from what happened in New Orleans. Look at the privatization of warfare in the occupation, and how Halliburton and other contractors have profited. They've practically looted the federal treasury. And the result's catastrophic. The privatization of the occupation should not be seen as too different from Bush's proposal to begin privatizing Social Security. Imagine what that would have looked like, had it not been stopped. But their incompetence reflects their philosophy.

BuzzFlash: Do they think they've succeeded?

Sidney Blumenthal: They always think they need to be given another chance, and that, in time, things will work out. I think Bush's strategy is like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind -- "Tomorrow's another day!" He has no strategy. Listening to his press conferences and speeches is like being stuck on a camp bus when you were a kid, singing, "We're Here Because We're Here." That's his policy on Iraq. It's like endlessly singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Three Angels

Three angels up above the street,
Each one playing a horn,
Dressed in green robes with wings that stick out,
They've been there since Christmas morn.
The wildest cat from Montana passes by in a flash,
Then a lady in a bright orange dress,
One U-Haul trailer, a truck with no wheels,
The Tenth Avenue bus going west.
The dogs and pigeons fly up and they flutter around,
A man with a badge skips by,
Three fellas crawlin' on their way back to work,
Nobody stops to ask why.
The bakery truck stops outside of that fence
Where the angels stand high on their poles,
The driver peeks out, trying to find one face
In this concrete world full of souls.
The angels play on their horns all day,
The whole earth in progression seems to pass by.
But does anyone hear the music they play,
Does anyone even try?

-- - - B. Dylan, New Morning

I was returning to poetry recently, after not reading much for a long time. And Robert Bly's A Little Book on the Human Shadow led me to The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, also by Robert Bly with James Hillman and Michael Meade.

Before I go further I notice my blog has been getting a few comments. I thank my readers, and moreover thanks for leaving comments. Let me say I don't blog every day, so sometimes some new update to my blog might not happen for a few days. I note my posts have been political for awhile, but I did not start out to do a 'political' blog. The rubric of the 'Time Coast' has always suggested to me that I would comment on what washes up on the shores of 'Time' as I experience it. So if anything it is a subjective blog, and can be upon whatever I am experiencing at that crucial momentary instant that will call the 'Present', the thing itself occuring in the time that in a way we are all going through. But, we all likely experience the Zeitgest of our time differently with different shadings.

Okay that being said, the following passage I found helpful to me recently. I will try to limit it to 4 paragraphs. It is written by the James Hillman, noted for his extensive work in Jungian pyschology. And the reason for me posting Bob Dylan's lyrics to Three Angels at the beginning of the post, is that he refers to it among other poetry also.

This is from a chapter entitled, The Spindrift Gaze Towards Paradise:

"Moments come when we feel outside time, seized by longing, moved by an image, in touch with invisible voices. We realize we do not live in one world alone. As Rilke says "We are grasped by what we cannot grasp". And James Wright says, "The air fills with delicate creatures/From the other world"........Something beyond life lives within life and calls the soul. .......

The ecstatic traditions of Rumi and Kabir insist that transcendent joy and love, are immediately close." Byzantium" is right at hand, if you say yes quickly. (Rumi)" Those who hope to be reasonable about it fail" says Kabir. These schools teach the loss of work and surrender, a sinking that is also a lifting. Emily Dickinson, too, speaks of surrender. Surrender to what? First of all surrender to the yearning itself (which the Greeks call pothos and the German Romantics call Selmsucht) --- and this disciplines desire by not fulfilling it. We learn that this longing cannot be satisfied, is not meant to be satisfied, because the soul gazes beyond towards Paradise. So yearning keeps the soul "in growing orbits",/ which move over the things of this world" (Rilke), searching, asking, risking "even if we do not reach" (Rilke).

At some point, however, we furl the sails and let the questing come to rest. It becomes less a matter of seeking Paradise than of receiving gifts. Perhaps, this too is surrender. Instead of knocking on the door, it swings open on its own hinges. Or maybe you and the door both unhinged. No longer on a journey, you are simply at home waiting for guests. So the great mystical philosopher Plotinus, speaking of his relation with the figures of 'paradise', "said: " It is for them to come to me, not for me to go to them." I think he is saying," You don't will yourself upward and out of this world with ascetic struggle.Rather, keep alert for visitations. Even "this concrete world" is full of souls," sings Bob Dylan.

We would like otherworldly visitations to come as distinct voices with clear instructions, but they may only give small signs in dreams or as sudden hunches and insights that cannot be denied. They feel more as they emerge from inside and steer you from within like an inner guardian angel, who, as Rolf Jacobson says, puts its " mouth against your heart/ though your not aware of it". And most amazing, it has never forgotton you, although you may have spent most of your life ignoring it. Sometimes when you sink into yourself and listen or when you talk with a particularly moving or beautiful figure of your dream an utterly surprising window opens."

Okay, I have probably quoted enough. I hope whoever encounters this blog and this particular post, is helped in some way.

Peace, J.P.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Zawahiri's wish and the March of Ignorance

Looney Tunes indeed.

Just recently Ayman al Zawahiri came out with a video calling for Americans to convert to Islam.

My initial take: What a profound misunderstanding of what America is all about, and then, what an arrogant disregard of anyone elses religious beliefs. And then I thought, Mr. no. 2 of Al- Queda really needs to watch some of the Bugs Bunny cartoons of the 1940s. They exemplify something about the American character, that these characters just don't get.Seriously.

There appears to be a lot of ignorance going around these days. And I mean in the sense of choosing to ignore information which is readily available, but not paying any attention to it, because it does not fit into your preconceived and hardened world view.

Zawahiri likely developed his ideas about America, from his study of the works of Sayyid Qutb, his mentor. Qutb was a hard core Egyptian fundamentalist who spent some time in American in the late 1940's. He was at what is now the Univ. of Northern Colo., in Greeley.
He apparantly saw some couples dancing and kissing back then, and from then on pronounced American society as decadent. If one reads about the origins of Al-Queda, a lot of roads lead back to Qutb. All these guys are as humorless as hell, have a fear of women's sexuality, and are totally devoted to their own obstruse versions of Islam.

Well, this leads into a very complex area. For those wanting to know more about Qutb, I suggest the Wikipedia article as a starting point.

Meanwhile GWB in a recent speech tossed out this bon mot:
"The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq.

In other words the Bush/Rumsfeld clash of the Titans of all time rhetoric machine is escalating big time.

In this regard I found Fred Kaplan's article over at the Slate helpful:

Bush Goes a Bridge Too Far:

The president's latest dumb speech.

"But one passage in particular reveals that the campaign is getting desperate:

The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq.

Here's the question: Does anybody believe this? If you do, then you must ask the president why he hasn't reactivated the draft, printed war bonds, doubled the military budget, and strenuously rallied allies to the cause.

If, as he said in this speech, the war in Iraq really is the front line in "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century"; if our foes there are the "successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists"; if victory is "as important" as it was in Omaha Beach and Guadalcanal—then those are just some of the steps that a committed president would feel justified in demanding.

Yet the president hasn't done any of those things, nor has anyone in his entourage encouraged him to do so. And that's because, while the war on terror is important and keeping Iraq from disintegrating is important, they're not that important. Osama Bin Laden is not Hitler or Stalin. Baghdad is not Berlin. Al-Qaida and its imitators don't have the economic resources, the military power, or the vast nationalist base that Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union had.

So, the speech sends the head buzzing with cognitive dissonances. There's the massively exaggerated historical analogy (which should have been obvious, if not insulting, to the World War II veterans in the audience). And there's the glaring mismatch between the president's gargantuan depiction of the threat and the relatively paltry resources he's mustered to fight it."

I would just add that Hitler, at one time had over 130 divisions on the Eastern Front alone. Neither Bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri command that many divisions or anything like that manpower in all their operations throughout the world.

And it would seem Al-Zawahiri has been living in a cave so long, he seems to think getting an American Muslim to make a video , will somehow get 290 million Americans to suddenly convert to Islam.

Inflated bombastic rhetoric, and vast misunderstandings over different cultures.

Makes it hard to lighten up. Even with Bugs Bunny cartoons from the 1940s. But, I think Bugs would know how to handle an Al- Zawahiri.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Absolutely wrong in an imperfect World

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. — Voltaire

Bush said differences over Iraq provide "an interesting debate." "There's a lot of people – good, decent people – saying `withdraw now.' They're absolutely wrong. ... We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake."

"Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster."

This was from a Presidential press conference of Monday, August 21st.
The thing which struck me immediately was that if the good, decent people saying withdraw now are absolutely wrong, then the converse of this is that George W. Bush is absolutely right. Of course the instant sarcastic thought is: absolutely Right wing.

But to explore this further, obviously W. has moved into the realm of moral absolutes. Being absolutely right about Iraq, he has achieved total certitude.
One could argue by doing so he joins the ranks of our greatest philosphers, saints, and of God himself, to say nothing of the notion of Godhead.

Heres a Wiki squib on certainty:
Certainty is the absence of all doubt. Something is certain if it is so clearly established or assured that skepticism could not exist. Philosophers have struggled for certainty, but have had many difficulties. Meditations on First Philosophy is a famous pursuit of certainty by Descartes. Contemporary views of knowledge do not demand certainty, but rather a "justified true belief".

I'm going to circle around this notion some. Okay, lets say Bushs critics are totally wrong, absolutely wrong. Well, there is not much point in the so-called "interesting debate". Ipso facto, Bush is already totally certain, and absolutely right. Not much point in debate then.

In fact it would appear that "W' has attained absolute Truth, in regards to the future of Iraq.

Lets stop and consider the philosophical notion of the Absolute:

"The Absolute is the totality of things; all that is, whether it has been discovered or not. It is usually conceived of as a unitary of the external cosmos and internal spiritual conscious — at least insofar as it can be acknowledged by the human mind — and as intelligible. In some varieties of philosophy, the Absolute describes an ultimate being. It contrasts with finite things, considered individually, known collectively as the Relative.
Heraclitus concerned himself with the knowable portion of the Absolute with his Logos. Plotinus, a Neo-Platonic philosopher, saw all forms of existence as emanating from 'The One'. The concept of the Absolute was re-introduced into philosophy by Hegel, Schelling, and their followers; it is associated with various forms of philosophical idealism. The Absolute, either under that name, or as the "Ground of Being", the "Uncaused First Cause", or some similar concept, also figures in several of the attempted proofs of the existence of God, particularly the ontological argument and the cosmological argument.

Okay,okay, I realize I am getting into high-faluting notions, far away from the notions of Connecticut yankee who grew up in Midland, Texas.

But this Texan was saying back in 2004, " We're turning the corner....(in Iraq). He was saying the same thing in 2005, and early 2006. In this regard, to stretch the idea, a bit further, if you're in a city, and you turn the corner to the Right, 4 times in a row, you're right back where you started.

Thus in Iraq in 2004, we had about 140,000 troops, in 2005, in the range 137,000 to 145,000 troops, and now about 137,000 troops.In Oct. 2003 47 US soldiers were killed in Iraq per month, and now in August 2006, we, according to the average, will lose about 47 US soldiers killed this month.

Corners have been turned, and progress supposedly made, and the critics absolutely wrong, but the stay the course plan would appear to ensure more of the same, with some slight variations.

Okay, lets turn the corner and get back to the notion of the word absolutely.
Absolutely - - adverb - free from restriction or limitation; unconditioned; unqualified; perfect; purely. (Websters)This should suffice. I may laboring a point, but I believe nuance is important, and people should be held accountable for what they say; especially when we are talking about a policy that will end up meaning some individuals are going to die.

Therefore, to paraphrase, those calling for withdrawal are unconditionally wrong; they are perfectly wrong. And that would mean George W. is right with no conditions, perfectly right.

From this we surmise:
1) not only is G.W. Bush the Decider, he has attained in this instance perfect certitude.

2) anyone who disagrees is benighted, and absolutely wrong, though they are free to debate under their own delusion that they could ever be Right.

3)perhaps the next step after total certitude, will be the attainment of omniscience, and he will become like the 'star' child at the end of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey.

I read that our President is reading about Lincoln. Actually, it might be better if he were to read more about the life of Woodrow Wilson. Those who have read a biography of Wilson will recall that in 1919, Wilson campaigned strenously around the country, trying to convince the public that America should join the League of Nations. Wilson had dreams of spreading Democracy throughout the World. His 14 Points were considered very idealistic for the times.

Wilson was also a bit of a prig though. His involvement in Academia, and his Protestant upbringing made him probably our most intellectual President, but also meant he did not suffer fools lightly, and his 14 points, and the creation of the League of Nations were policies he could not compromise with his critics about. Meeting an upsurge of resistance to what he felt was absolutely necessary to create a lasting peace, after the War to end War, he gave up on his critics in the Senate, and in a trainstop tour, took his case directly to the people. At a stop in Colorado he had a stroke, and was never the same afterwards, and ended his presidency as a reclusive invalid.

One would hope that someone on the White House staff might slip him a book about Wilson in 1919, and what happens when a President gets ahead of the public, and caught up in their own notion of moral certainty, insists upon a course that begins to take on a Captain Ahab glow.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

World War III preempted, and now a word from our sponsor

Well there is a cease fire supposedly between Israel and Hezbollah. And things do seem to be winding down in the summer 2006 War there.

But back in July when it started many on the Right were suddenly pronouncing this as the beginnings of World War III.

As Tom Waldman recounts at Tom

"Newt Gingrich recently said, “We’re in the early stages of what I would describe as the Third World War,” while conservative talking head Bill Bennett said, “I think we’re in World War III now.” Right-wing talk show hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck have chimed in their agreement that World War III is now in progress, and a few, such as neocon gray eminence Norman Podhoretz and the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Ledeen, have said this is actually World War IV (the Cold War, apparently, was World War III). Sean Hannity even said this is World War V, but it was less than clear what he was talking about."

Meanwhile , it would seem the mainstream television media has given up on the World War III storyline, for total saturation coverage on the alleged killer in the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Tough luck for the Neo-Cons, they and World War III have been preempted by a murder mystery with creepy aspects.

The other point to consider is that World War II by the time it reached its crescendo in 1945, involved a majority of the nations on the planet.

How then, is a short invasion into southern Lebanon the beginning of WW III? Where is the involvement that would truly make this a 'World' War.

Could it be some of these commentators have there own fear and hysteria agenda, that they are pushing for their own political purposes?
Then of course, there is another element of the Right, the Christian fundamentalists, who have been interpreting everything that has happened in the Middle East for the last 40 years as a sign of the End times, or WW III as a precursor, which they positively hunger for.

As Waldman adds:

"Many of our own home-grown Taliban, the fundamentalists who see moral cataclysm in every sex ed class and gay commitment ceremony, are eagerly awaiting the Rapture. They pray desperately that events in the Middle East mean it really is coming this time, with the godless and the apostate cast to their deserved fate in the lake of fire. To the nominally more reasonable conservatives whose voices emanate from airwaves and op-ed pages, the prospect of World War III brings its own kind of rapture, the return of a time when they were free from doubt, when their thirst for the blood of foreigners could be quenched, when anyone who opposed them could be tried for treason. When they knew they were right, and it all made sense."

In this regard it is interesting to speculate what would happen if World War III does start, and during the first few weeks it is discovered what happened to Natalee Holloway?
A real dilemma for the media that would be.

It makes me recall lines from Allen Ginsberg's Capitol Air:

'Truth may be hard to find but Falsehood's easy
Read between the lines our Imperialism is sleazy'

And at least there is this ending of his poem:

"Aware Aware wherever you are No Fear
Trust your heart Don't ride your Paranoia dear
Breathe together with an ordinary mind
Armed with Humor Feed & Help Enlighten Woe Mankind "

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beijing pledges 'a fight to the death' with Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

I got online today and was just checking out Google News, and came across this headline from The Times Online: Beijing pledges 'a fight to the death' with Dalai Lama. Whoa, I thought that is really severe. I mean even for the Chinese. I mean how many divisions does the Dalai Lama have? None. And are any posed on the India -Tibet border. No. Really harsh stuff.

Here are a few of the relevant paragraphs:

" China’s new top official in Tibet has embarked on a fierce campaign to crush loyalty to the exiled Dalai Lama and to extinguish religious beliefs among government officials. Zhang Qingli, was appointed Communist Party secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in May. An ally of Hu Jintao, China’s President, Mr Zhang, 55, has moved swiftly to tighten his grip over this deeply Buddhist region.

In May Mr Zhang told senior party officials in the region that they were engaged in a “fight to the death” against the Dalai Lama. Since then he has implemented several new policies to try to erode the influence of the 71-year-old monk who China’s rulers believe is waging a covert campaign to win independence for his Himalayan homeland.

Ethnic Tibetan civil servants of all ranks, from the lowliest of government employees to senior officials, have been banned from attending any religious ceremony or from entering a temple or monastery. Previously only party members were required to be atheist, but many of them quietly retained their Buddhist beliefs

Ethnic Tibetan officials in Lhasa as well as in surrounding rural counties have been required to write criticisms of the Dalai Lama. Senior civil servants must produce 10,000-word essays while those in junior posts need only write 5,000-character condemnations. Even retired officials are not exempt."

This seems totally over the top to me. Readers who come across this might want to consider writing to the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. and asking them about the harshness of this rhetoric.

And further ask for clarification about who they are fighting to the death?
Is this the Tibetan people? Do the Tibetans have any religious rights anymore? Are there plans for extermination camps in Tibet? Or are there plans to fight a Tibetan army which no longer exists?

Here is an address to write to:

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
Chinese Embassy
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW,
Washington D.C. 20007

This rhetoric is unusually shrill and they should be called to account about it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fall of Lieberman and the Rise of Lamont

"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."
--- Joe Lieberman, Dec. 2005

I did a post about this statement back in December when it came out. I have since read, that it prompted Ned Lamont to get into the primary race.

My, how the times have changed since then. Check out what Robert L. Borosage says about this at Tom

"Ned Lamont’s stunning upset of incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary race on Tuesday sends shock waves through the dead sea of American politics. Lamont did the impossible—this virtual unknown beat in his own party’s primary an 18-year incumbent with universal name recognition, a $12 million campaign war chest and the support of Washington insiders, the punditry and the corporate lobbies.

His victory represents a growing voter revolt against the failed policies and politics of the Bush administration and its congressional enablers, particularly the debacle in Iraq. Until a few weeks ago, Lieberman prided himself on being the president’s leading Democratic ally in touting the war. After his defeat, Democrats will show more backbone in challenging the current disastrous course and more Republicans will look for ways to distance themselves from the president.

Lamont’s victory was propelled by a rising tide of progressive energy—activists who are tired of losing elections to the right and disgusted with cautious politicians who duck and cover rather than stand and fight. Until a few weeks ago, Lieberman exemplified those Democrats who establish their “independence” by pushing off the causes of their own party and embracing the right’s agenda. His voters didn’t abandon him; he abandoned them long ago. After his defeat, incumbents in both parties may begin to listen more closely to their voters and less avidly to their donors."

Well lets hope so. I don't want to make too much over this upset, still at the same time it has been sending shock waves through the corporate interests, and the 'pat' punditry of the mainstream media.

I liked what Wonkette pointed out about Joe's concession:

"Meanwhile, Lieberman, whom the WaPo described as “exuberant in defeat” and “almost liberated” and (by implication) “gone totally around the bend into a dark place of madness and self-delusion,” started in with the sporting metaphors.

“As I see it, in this campaign, we’ve just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead — but in the second half, our team, Team Connecticut, is going to surge forward to victory in November,” Mr. Lieberman told cheering supporters.…“For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot, I will not let this result stand,”
Mr. Lieberman said of the Lamont victory.

You hear that, Connecticut? Joe Lieberman will be your Senator whether you like it or not! It’s for your own good. [ joe lieberman ]

Meanwhile here is what Lowell Weicker a former Senator from Conn., had to say about this:

"I suspect the public is going to see right through" Lieberman's party switch, Weicker said.
It's not the purpose of the U.S. Senate to provide Lieberman with steady employment, he said.
"He wants a job."

In the aftermath this week Lieberman launched this little sally at Lamont,"

“If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England,” Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event in Waterbury, Conn. “It will strengthen them, and they will strike again.”

Whoa, Lamont wins a primary in Conneticut and suddenly British Muslims will be celebrating a withdrawal from Iraq.

After hearing of this, here is how Ned Lamont responded:

"Mr. Lamont hesitated when he was asked if Mr. Lieberman’s criticisms were beyond the bounds of acceptable political combat.
“To try to score political points on every international issue ——” Mr. Lamont said, before stopping himself. Then he added, “Why do I have to say anything?” NYT 8/11/06.

Well, judging from the papers and postings on the web, and even international interest, this story is going to be around for a while.
I notice many on the Left are pointing out that 60% of Americans are against the war, or in favor of withdrawal. My cautionary reading of this is, that some of these are not against the Iraq war per se, but against the way the Bush adminstration has prosequeted the war. They are wanting that old fashion , quick overwhelming victory, like Pattons push to the Rhine, but instead Bush, Rumsfeld et. al, have given then never enough troops, no discernable win, and just steady casualties month to month. As Thomas Friedman points out,'' we are now baby sitting a civil war", and if you are one of the 100 Iraqi civilians who die each day, it really doesn't matter how you categorize the Sunni- Shia revenge violence.

Be that as it may, as I pointed out before, the Sunnis and the Shiites having been cohabitating in the region of Mesopotamia for some 900 years now, and it is highly unlikely that 137,000 infidel Americans within 3 more years are going to clear up, what has been simmering around for the same 900.

Thus a conventional military victory is less and less likely, so then the question is, what is the exit plan for finally letting the Iraqi people sort out what they want to see happen, and American forces moving out.

At any rate at some point, even those who were still hoping for victory in Iraq will get supremely disillusioned. And at this point, what was once regarded as a Left wing view, will become the mainstream view in the USA.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Arthur Lee - -going through those Forever Changes

Arthur Lee - -(1945-2006)Musician and frontman of LOVE.

Aug. 3rd - - -Arthur Lee, frontman of 60s psychedelic legends Love, has died at the age of 61. He had been suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Rangy and invariably slouching, in tiny-frame shades and dandyish, kaleidoscopically colored clothes, Lee called himself "the first black hippie," and his band pushed boundaries. Love was one of the first major interracial bands in rock and one of the first to record a song long enough to fill one side of an album, with the 19-minute "Revelation," from its second release, "Da Capo."

A recent New York benefit concert had seen Robert Plant, Yo La Tengo, Ryan Adams and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah come together to raise money for Lee's medical expenses. However, in an emailed statement, released by Lee's manager, Mark Linn, confirmed that the singer had succumbed to the disease on Thursday afternoon (August 3). The statement read:

"Arthur Lee died peacefully at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, a little after four in the afternoon Aug 3, 2006 with his wife Diane by his side.
"His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall. "When I visited with him recently, he was visibly moved by the stories and pictures from the NYC benefit concert. "He was truly grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and fans all over the world since news of his illness became public. "Arthur always lived in the moment, and said what he thought when he thought it. I'll miss his phone calls, and his long voice messages, but most of all I'll miss Arthur playing Arthur's music."

I think the first time I really heard the whole Forever Changes album was maybe in 1974. Later on I got a copy of my own. Then sometime in 2003 I came across the release of a Dvd with a live version of Forever Changes performed as a concert with full strings in England in 2003. I found this to be a very moving concert.

Here is a recent take on Forever Changes found at the Washington Post in light of Arthur Lee's passing:"

"Forever Changes" is one of those works of art that are not for everybody but are very much for some people, along the same lines as Malcolm Lowry's novel "Under the Volcano" (which generally bores and annoys those it fails to bowl over) or Alain Resnais's "Last Year at Marienbad" (which is regularly chosen as both one of the best and one of the worst films ever made). It was never a "hit" -- there were dozens of records in 1967 that outsold "Forever Changes" many times over. But it never quite went out of print, either, and, year after year, devotees passed on copies to new listeners with evangelical fervor, with the result that its legion of fans is notably multi-generational. And so my 19-year-old son and his musician friends love "Forever Changes" just as much as I did at their age, and for many of the same reasons, few of which have anything to do with nostalgia.

What does it sound like? Well, imagine taking one of the most tuneful and adventurous pop albums by the Byrds ("Younger Than Yesterday" maybe, or "Notorious Byrd Brothers") and allowing it to marinate for a year or two in the most decadent and exotic spices. Then toss in some of the unhinged paranoia of Syd Barrett and the early Pink Floyd, the reclusive melancholy of post-surf Brian Wilson, the cotton-candy orchestration of '60s arrangers such as Paul Mauriat ("Love Is Blue") or Joshua Rifkin (who fashioned Judy Collins's hit version of "Both Sides Now") and set it all to dark and prophetic lyrics that seem to mean much more than they dare to say. "Forever Changes" combines a seductive surface prettiness with a sense that something is desperately wrong. It is psychedelia at its edgiest." - - - - Tim Page, Wash. Post --- 8/5/06

Its very sad and too bad. I would have loved to have seen Arthur Lee and Baby Lemonade as Love. In 2003, 2004 , they did extensive touring in Europe. At least there is the Dvd that captures a full Forever Changes concert in England. And at least he got a third chance in life. His 2nd was in 1992 to 1996, when he got Love going again, but the procrustian stupidity of Calif. 3 strikes law meant he did 6 years in prison. What a waste of musical talent, just because he fired a pistol in the air, in a dispute with a neighbor.

I would like someday to see Johnny Echols and the Love Band.

Meanwhile Arthur Lee is off into the bardo. He was said to be especially touched in June when Robert Plant and others did a benefit concert for him in New York. So he generated a lot of Love in his life, was hugely popular in England, and leaves a musical legacy . Rolling Stone, the LA Times and The Washington Post have all done good reflective articles on his passing.

As he says in You Set the Scene:

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There are places that I am going

This is the only thing that I am sure of
And that's all that lives is gonna die
And there'll always be some people here to wonder why
And for every happy hello, there will be good-bye
There'll be time for you to put yourself on ...

Very Buddhist lyrics to me, and then there was prophecy too:

By the time that I'm through singing
The bells from the schools of wars will be ringing
More confusions, blood transfusions
The news today will be the movies for tomorrow
--- (A House is not a Motel)

I was watching blood transfusions taking place in Haifa,today and then a trailer for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center came on which opens soon.

Life goes on here
Day after day
I don't know if I am living or if I'm
Supposed to be....
Sometimes my life is so eerie,
And if you think I'm happy
Paint me black-(white).....

Arthur's going through those Forever Changes now. We'll miss him, and hope he gets to see Jimi, and Bryan Maclean, and Janis and Syd, and others.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Quagmire or Tar-Baby

WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld extended the tours of nearly 4,000 US troops in Iraq for 120 days Thursday to help quell sectarian violence in Baghdad, the Pentagon said.Earlier this year, there were suggestions that the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, would make recommendations to Rumsfeld in the spring that could begin showing a decrease in American troops. But a Tuesday announcement mapping out five more Army and Marine brigades scheduled to go to Iraq later this year signaled that any decrease is highly unlikely. Wash. Post- - - -Friday, July 28, 2006.

Quagmire - - -1. soft miry land that shakes or yields under the foot. 2: a difficult, precarious or entrapping position.- -Websters 9th New Collegiate Dictionary.

Have been reading Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor. As I was doing so, I was remembering that even back in 2003, my friend Greg was predicting Iraq would become a Quagmire. I suggested it would become a Tar-baby, in the sense of something you get stuck to, and then attempts to become unstuck, only cause further stuckness.

Now, it looks like both our predictions have come true.

In a British style govt., Rumsfeld would be long gone by now. Having to send about 5,000 troops back into Baghdad, is admission enough in the failure of the whole neo-con enterprise. 2585 dead American soldiers as of today. 18,777 Americans wounded.
By election day it will be around 3,000 dead. By this time in summer of 2007 it could be around 4,500. The monetary cost by then could be half a trillion dollars. In short, this is madness which will ultimately collapse , because of the overwheening hubris with which this adventure was entered.

Here is a relevant passage of a review of Cobra II by Andrew Bacevich:

"Although US forces made it to Baghdad, and Bush soon thereafter declared an end to 'major combat operations', it was all downhill from there. An incident in Fallujah – troops from the 82nd Airborne Division fired into a crowd of angry demonstrators – kick-started the insurgency. That was on 24 April 2003. Heavy-handed US tactics added fuel to the fire. 'The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I'm about to introduce them to it,' a senior officer in the 4th Infantry Division is quoted as saying. Bush's chosen proconsul, Paul Bremer, compounded the problem by dissolving the remnants of the Iraqi army, thereby providing the insurgents with a pool of potential recruits. As Franks made his escape, command in Iraq devolved on Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, an officer of indifferent ability, poorly prepared for the challenges he faced, and unable to forge an amicable relationship with Bremer.

Cobra II provides only the briefest sketch of all the ugly events that followed. The volume concludes with a summary of the administration's myriad errors: underestimating the enemy, failing to understand the fractious nature of Iraqi society, relying excessively on technology, and failing to anticipate the magnitude of the nation-building task that could not be avoided. But one failure stands out. Rumsfeld's grand plan to transform the US military was at odds with the administration's grand plans to transform the broader Middle East. Imperial projects don't prosper with small armies that leave quickly: they require large armies that stay. Out of this arrogance, incompetence and sheer stupidity came a policy failure that may yet beggar the debacle of Vietnam."

Despite Bush's blathering about total victory, there can be no victory in Iraq. It would take 400,000, maybe 500,000 troops to really get things under control of some sort in Iraq, but this is not going to happen. 'W' may think he is Churchill like, but Churchill was also the chief architect of the Gallipoli disaster in WWI.

We are now about 3 months away from Nov 2006 elections. For the life of me I don't see how the Republicans can win with this policy of stay the course in Iraq. They can try to paint the Democrats all sorts of ways, but Iraq is a Republican idea through and through.(Project for a New American Century) Some Repubs officials were oping that at least the Lebanon war is moving Iraq off the front pages, but this is a bit like whistling in a graveyard.

Anyway these are my sober thoughts and conclusions. Such a huge loss of American lives, Iraqi lives, and treasure.

My prediction: The Republicans lose the House, maybe even the Senate.
One need only read Cobra II, the new book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks , and/or The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind to be able to understand what is unfolding. Grim thoughts, but there are grim things happening in the world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Prague streetcar dream

Prague streetcar dream

About 5 days ago I had a very vivid dream set in Prague, in the Czech Republic. It starts out with me riding on a streetcar going north within Prague.The number on the tram was 81.From the beginning the dream did not feel like a dream. It felt like I was indeed riding on a streetcar in Prague.

All the details unfolded just as in waking life; the sound of acceleration, of the doors opening, moving from stop to stop. I was talking to a friend. I had somehow set aside a coat, a wool cap and a dark file folder containing all sorts of papers, like resumes, and transcripts etc. I got off at a stop, in this conversation with a friend, forgetting to grab these items before getting off.

Somehow I begin running up the route , trying to reboard. and thanks to street lights, and scheduled stops, I finally catch up with it , and reboard the same car. I somehow communicated with an attendant what I was looking for and underneath the seats, at the very back of this two segment tram, I find the folder. Then I walk grabbing bars and over head bars , to the front and find my coat, buried under a pile of coats, with the cap tucked in a pocket.

At this point, having no wish to keep going further north I get off at the first chance I can. Upon disembarking I find I am in a far northern part of Prague, I had never been in before. Across the street I note , there is no discernible stop for an 81 tram going south. I begin walking around to try to get some sense of where I am. I walk east on a broad avenue.For a while the south side of this street has multi story buidings lining it. But then there is a gap through which I see a view.

I see that there is a wide valley between this part of Prague, and further south, with a east-west highway and train track running parallel to the street I am on. Meanwhile, as all this is unfolding it is turning from mid-afternoon to late afternoon. The sun is moving across the sky, and the quality of light in the air changes as it does as time goes by, in any sunny day.

On the north side of the street I notice an Art Museum. I go over to it just to check it out. This street is hilly so the yard has a concrete wall, so that at the high part of the block it comes to street level, but at the low part it is higher than ones head. This means, the property the Museum is on is level of course. There is little grass, growing in some of the cracks on the concrete wall. Little details like this have me experiencing this not as a dream, but as really walking around in Prague.

Next I head back up to where I got off, and then head west. I come to a street that has more residential type housing. There is a what looks like a small school or Art institute. I run into a young Czech woman on the walkway entrance and say Good Day, and also Wie Gehts. She doesn't speak English or German, so this sally gets nowhere, but she points to the building so I go inside and meet a young Czech man named Lada who speaks English. He has a 13 year old son who asks me how long I was on 81 before I got off. "Was it 12 or 15 minutes? After further explanation they drop what they are doing, we go out to a square, and they get on a different street car that takes us all to another square, where they point out a stop for #81 going south.I thank them profusely, and then after a time get on a southbound #81. Finally I arrive in a familar part of Prague. I get off, and somehow I have left my coat on the tram again. Yikes!

At this point I began leaving the dream, and found myself in my bed.

What struck me about this dream was its essential undreamlike nature. Colors and details were as precise and as vivid as moving around in Prague in waking life. When I woke up I felt like I had been in Prague for the last few hours, rather than in a dream.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan

Red Chiles at the Thimphu market

I just finished reading - - Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa. I stumbled across it at our local library, not really expecting them to have much about Bhutan.

Here is a short review from over at

"As a teacher of English literature, Jamie Zeppa would understand how the story of her journey into Bhutan could be fit into the convenient box of "coming-of-age romance," a romance with a landscape, a people, a religion, and a dark, irresistible student. An innocent, young Catholic woman from a Canadian mining town who had "never been anywhere," Zeppa signed up for a two-year stint teaching in a remote corner of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Despite the initial shock of material privation and such minor inconveniences as giardia, boils, and leeches, Zeppa felt herself growing into the vast spaces of simplicity that opened up beyond the clutter of modern life. Alongside her burgeoning enchantment, a parallel realization that all was not right in Shangri-La arose, especially after her transfer to a college campus charged with the politics of ethnic division. Still she maintained her center by devouring the library's Buddhist tracts and persevering in an increasingly fruitful meditation practice. When the time came for her to leave, she had undergone a personal transformation and found herself caught between two worlds that were incompatible and mutually incomprehensible. Zeppa's candid, witty account is a spiritual memoir, a travel diary, and, more than anything, a romance that retraces the vicissitudes of ineluctable passion."

I really enjoyed her descriptions of the lansdcapes of Bhutan; the mists, and the way clouds obscure and reveal the mountains and hillsides. She sees aspects of Bhutan with a sweet sensitivity. The book is especially good in her descriptions of life in Eastern Bhutan, the Pemagatshel region down near the southern border with India.

The author was working in Bhutan from 1988 thru to late 1992. Back then World University Service of Canada had Canadians teaching English in Bhutan all throughout the different regions of the country for 2 year stints.
Reading of the different accounts of her co-workers life there in really, really out of the way places in rural Bhutan, reminded me of my Peace Corps experiences, and of my short 21 days in Bhutan. Made me very envious for the experience. Punakha monastery still remains probably the most peaceful place I have ever visited on this earth.

I recommend this book highly for those interested in Bhutan. I notice some of the Amazon customer reviewers gave the author a hard time for falling in love with one of her students. However , the student was in his 'twenties' when their affair began, and love works in mysterious ways. They did end up getting married. They , 'the reviewers', just show off their late 90s political correctness to the max, but it seems inhuman and heartless to me.

The book is well written, and the author is quite honest, though it did run out of steam the last few chapters.

Here is a great quote from the book, though it does not list what Buddhist text she found this in:

And if you hit upon the idea that this or
that country is safe, prosperous, or
fortunate, give it up, my friend. . . for you
ought to know that the world is ablaze with
the fires of some faults or others. There is
certain to be some suffering . . . and a
wholly fortunate country does not exist
anywhere. Whether it be excessive cold or
heat, sickness or danger, something always
afflects people everywhere; no safe refuge
can thus be found in the world.