Monday, December 24, 2007

Landing in New Mexico

Well, haven't posted for a while. In the blog world going forever without posting is a killer thing to do, but what the hey, the Time Coaster experiences Time in a different way. Indeed , there are supposed to be some places in the Universe where Time curves up against itself, so you could theorectically jump to a far future without having to go thru all the present moments leading up to that Future.

Be that as it may what happened was in many ways was, I was still making the transition to New Mexico, and dealing with stuff. Yes, stuff in boxes, and storage units, and traveling to Denver, and thence to Platteville to empty out a storage unit there, and then driving a 14 ft. Uhaul back down to New Mexico. Luckily this was accomplished just before we started getting some real snow fall.

Meanwhile I came across this article over at Huffington Post by Bob Cesca.
He ends up endorsing Barack Obama, but before that he does a brillant summation of seven wasted years for America under the Bush Imperium:

" From the very beginning - - - George W. Bush has been an embarrassment.

We know his disgraceful deeds and policies. But it's his utter lack of quality; his unsubstantial presence; his marble-mouthed oratorical retardation; his inability to inspire greatness; and his empty-suit absence of intellectual curiosity which preordained him to be the worst President of the United States in modern history.

.... after seven years in this Dark Age, I've almost forgotten what it was like to have a real president occupying the White House: a president who, even if I disagreed with his policies and ideology, dignified the office with a stature that symbolized the awesomeness of America.

But President Bush was never a hero in the first place and only grew more ridiculous with each subsequent crime against the Constitution, against human decency and against democracy itself. If there's any justice left in this nation, history will record that President Bush was an entirely inadequate tool; a bungling villain whose early popularity grew out of a traumatic and patriotic need to support the office regardless of who occupied it.

And when the flood waters literally rose up and washed away the disguise, the slack-jawed poseur was revealed -- the "bore" who had always been there, but who had been previously and cynically costumed in cowboy drag. Some of us recognized the charade from the beginning, but it required a second national tragedy, this time in New Orleans, to alert the media and the rest of America to his criminal incompetence.

American history is inextricably tied to the presidency. It's how we mentally assemble the chronology of our past. For going on eight years, we've endured a chief executive who never should have ascended to this post. Consequently, this decade has been an aberration; a time when Americans somehow championed an illegitimate, Orwellian hooplehead and, naturally, we suffered for our lack of vision. This is how most of the first decade of this century will be remembered."

His article continues a little further at this location:
Barack Obama For President

I think it is a pretty effective summation, and is reflected in 'W's approval rating being around 24%.
It does make one wonder what he would have to do to chip away at that hard core 24%. As Count Floyd would say," Really scary stuff kids!"

Okay I am out of here at this point. Will try to post more often, as we head into 2008. As Firesign Theater used to say, "Get Ready for Time Warp Two"!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Best (Live) Spirit release ever

Just released this month, (well a little earlier in the UK) is a new collection of music by Spirit, which could be one of the best ever retrospective releases of live songs by the band.

As Spin over in the UK notes: " From the same label (Acadia) that brought you 'The Euro-American Years', this is a 3 CD set made up of live and studio material all taken from the archives of Randy California. CDs One and Two are made up of tracks recorded in the Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ebbetts Field, Denver, Colorado and the Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas. CD three is all unreleased studio material."
From looking at the track listing from discs 1 and 2 what you are getting is live versions of most of the songs found on Spirit of 76, only these are from live performances in 1974, with a Spirit line up consisting of mainly Randy California, Ed Cassidy, and Mark Andes.

For Spirit fans, it is as if the temple has finally opened to treasures we didn't even know existed.

Look at the listing for Disc 1:
1 Veruska
2 Storm In The Night
3 Like A Rolling Stone
4 I've Got To Use My Imagination
5 Fresh Garbage
6 Devil
7 Kristee
8 My Road
9 Old Blue
10 Joker On The Run
11 So Little Time To Fly
12 All Along The Watchtower
13 I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)
14 Same Old Thing Urantia

Some of these songs, I don't believe 'live' versions have been available before. Veruska has to be one of the more powerful pure pyschedelic songs ever recorded. I can only imagine what it sounds like live, as performed in 1974.

Highlights for me from Disc 2 are :'Electro Jam/Mr Skin ', On The Road Again ,Happy , Guide Me , It's All The Same , and Hey Joe.

Disc 3 appears to be studio recordings and has a Spirit cover of Dylan's 'Positively Fourth Street', something I had no idea they had ever done.
Other cuts that intrigue me are: Maybe You'll Find , Looking Into Darkness , Circle , It's Time Now , So Happy Now , Miss Lani , and You're So Beautiful . For me personally, I am seeing songs here I have never heard before, and had no idea Spirit had ever done them.

In a way it's a shame such Spirit releases didn't come out earlier, say in the late 70's or early 80's. One can speculate about a live version of Veruska being played on radio, and I believe if this had been released by the mid-80s it would have sparked a lot of interest in Spirit as it was in its Tent of Miracles phase.

I have to add that I haven't received the cd set yet, but am eagerly looking forward to encountering it. For hard core Spirit fans it has to be a must have , and for others who might be interested in how this unique band sounded at live concerts in 1974, this could be a revelation, if not salvation.
JP sez check it out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound

A new book just about the 13th Floor Elevators has been released. I can't review it yet, as I just ordered it. It is likely the first full lenght book to come out about the 13th Floor Elevators.

Here is a precis of a review from

"One of the most exhilarating and important rock 'n' roll stories ever told."Julian Cope The trailblazing 13th Floor Elevators released the first "psychedelic" rock album in America, transforming culture throughout the 1960s and beyond. The Elevators followed their own spiritual cosmic agenda, to change society by finding a new path to enlightenment. Their battles with repressive authorities in Texas and their escape to San Francisco's embryonic counterculture are legendary. When the Elevators returned to Texas, the band became subject to investigation by Austin police. Lead singer Roky Erickson was forced into a real-life enactment of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and was put away in a maximum-security unit for the criminally insane for years. Tommy Hall, their Svengali lyricist, lived in a cave. Guitarist Stacy Sutherland was imprisoned. The drummer was involuntarily subjected to electric shock treatments, and the bassist was drafted into the Vietnam War. This fascinating biography breaks decades of silence of band members and addresses a huge cult following of Elevators fans in the United States and Europe. The group is revered as a formative influence on Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Primal Scream, R.E.M, and Z.Z. Top. "

Coming in at 454 pages, it looks to provide a lot of information about the Elevators in one spot, that has never been provided in a narrative fashion before.

As Julian Cope notes over at Process press(which is the publisher):
" rammed with arcane facts, interviews, colour plates, discographies, a foreword by Yours Truly, and as scrupulous an oral history of this most essential bunch of Gurdjeffian refusenecks (or should that be redniks?) as only the truly Utopian voyager could have delivered to our doors."

I look forward to getting my hands on this one.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In transition

Haven't posted for a while, and I gather in the blogosphere world this is a cardinal sin, but I have been in the process of moving from Texas to Santa Fe , New Mexico, so that is the TimeCoaster's excuse.

Actually ended up making three trips in all. Did one long haul traveling across West Texas via Abilene, Post, Lubbock, then thru Clovis to Ft. Sumner, and thence to SF.

Discoveries along the way were that Leal's in Clovis has excellent Mexican Food, for the weary traveler. The tacos were good, and the pinto beans very finely done.

Then I found, having no cd player in the vehicle I was at the mercy of Fm stations. Not being all that enamoured of country, I was hitting the buttons like crazy trying to find something to listen to.
One rule of thumb, I found to be true crossing Texas, is that between 100 and 107.9 on the FM dial, at any one time there is usually at least one station playing a song by the Doors. Led Zepplin just about fits into this rule of thumb too.

Also heard this Christian radio commentator on how Christians are discriminated against in this country, and W, is unpopular because he does the right thing, and the liberal media is committed to tearing him down.

I would demure on this and point out, that if 'W's approval rating is below 30 % it is highly likely that over 70% of the country disapproves of what he is doing. For seven years he has run the country appealing just to his 30 percentile point base. Hardly any American president has ever chosen to ignore the wishes of the rest of the citzenry for so long.
Therefore I predict that this ignoring of the politics and wishes of 70% of the country is at some point going to come back to haunt 'W' and the Republicans.

But as a socio phenomena it is interesting that in the eyes of Christian radio, he -'W', can do no wrong. Altered universe some people are living in.

So listening to FM radio, and even AM in rural Texas, at times gave me insights into different viewpoints I would otherwise not encounter.

So be it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but some opinions carry more weight than others. And if the GOP chooses to ignore 70 % of the country, they may someday find themselves with only 30% support.
The writing is on the wall.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Petraeus Show

Once again Sidney Blumenthal over at sums it up better than most with an article entitled : How Bush is trying to save face in Iraq.

Here is his summantion at the end of the article:

If the surge has no connection to political goals in Iraq, it still has strategic political goals, just not in Iraq. The surge is the military means to Bush's political ends at home. "So now I'm an October–November man," Bush told his authorized biographer, Robert Draper, in "Dead Certain." "I'm playing for October–November." The rollout of the Petraeus report is the last major political offensive of the Bush administration. Petraeus' reputation is the token for buying precious time for an unpopular president. The Democratic Congress lacks sufficient majorities to alter Bush's policy. Petraeus' show is staged to keep Republicans, on the edge of sheer panic, from defecting en masse. Through Petraeus, Bush is locking in the congressional leaders and the Republican presidential candidates behind his policy. The general has been wound up as a mechanism for Bush's endgame -- perpetuating the president's Iraq policy until the conclusion of his term and assigning responsibility for "victory" or "defeat" to his successor. In his analogizing to the Vietnam War, Bush has begun to lay the basis for a stab-in-the-back, who-lost-Iraq debate, a poisonous legacy.

Sen. John Warner, the Virginia Republican who announced his retirement last week and who has called for disengaging from Iraq, asked Petraeus a simple and obvious question about Bush's policy, one that Bush likes to answer: "Do you feel that that [strategy] is making America safer?" Unexpectedly, Petraeus paused. "I believe this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq," he finally replied, carefully sidestepping a direct response. So Warner repeated his question: "Does the [Iraq war] make America safer?" Again Petraeus paused before answering, "I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted it out in my own mind."

In the end, Petraeus could not convince even himself. Petraeus has lost his battle. Crocker has revealed the strategy as hollow. But the policy goes on."

Meanwhile over at CounterPunch , Patrick Cockburn, who has been living in Baghdad since 2003, notes what is really going on in Iraq, irrespective of the 'surge':

"The truest indicator of the level of violence in Iraq is the number of people fleeing their homes because they are terrified that they will be murdered. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees the number of refugees has risen from 50,000 to 60,000 a month and none are returning.

Iraqi society is breaking down. It is no longer possible to get medical treatment for many ailments because 75 per cent of doctors, pharmacists have left their jobs in the hospitals, clinics and universities. The majority of these have fled abroad to join the 2.2 million Iraqis outside the country.

The food rationing system on which five million Iraqis rely to stay alive is also breaking down with two million people no longer being fed because food cannot be distributed in dangerous areas. Rice and beans are of poor quality and flour, tea and baby formula are short. Unemployment is 68 per cent of the workforce, so without a state ration and no jobs, more and more Iraqis are living on the edge of starvation.

No wonder then that what Iraqis believe is happening to them and their country is wholly contrary to the myths pumped out by the White House and the Pentagon. The opinion poll commissioned by ABC news, the BBC and Japanese Television NHK and published yesterday shows that 70 per cent of Iraqis say that their security has got worse during the last six months when the US increased the number of its US troops in Baghdad and surrounding provinces. A solid 57 per cent believe that attacks on coalition forces are acceptable. Some 93 per cent of Sunni approve such attacks and 50 per cent of Shia also back them."

See : The Fakery of General Petraeus : What Iraqis Think About the Surge
Counterpunch- Sept. 11, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The VFW Speech or No Equivalent for the dumbing down of Historical Memory

Time is an asterisk --- David Byrne(Talking Heads)

Well, Time tends to roll on, and memories are but thoughts run through human heads. Still, I lived through the Vietnam War, and there are many still alive that have memories of that era. I was noticing that Tucker Carlson was born in 1969, so there are many now in the 21st century, who have no memories of that era.

However, with Mr. Bush's VFW speech we have really no equivalent for the dumbing down of historical memory. This speech will undoubtedly be studied in future times, as being sort of a crystalization moment, of the patent dishonesty of the Bush Administration. Already many facets of the speech are being studied.

That being said, I will devote the rest of my post to just a little of the critical reception of this speech:

" James Gerstenzang and Maura Reynolds write in the Los Angeles Times: "Historian Robert Dallek, who has written about the comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, accused Bush of twisting history. 'It just boggles my mind, the distortions I feel are perpetrated here by the president,' he said in a telephone interview.

"'We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict. And we couldn't work our will,' he said.

"'What is Bush suggesting? That we didn't fight hard enough, stay long enough? That's nonsense. It's a distortion,' he continued. 'We've been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It's a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out.'"

As Dan Fromkin at the Washington Post notes further:

As Stockman and Bender write in the Globe, political analysts and historians are agog.
"'I couldn't believe it,' said Allan Lichtman, an American University historian, adding that far more Vietnamese died during the war than in the aftermath of the US withdrawal. Lichtman said the rise of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal pro-communist regime, could as easily be attributed to American interference in that country.
"The president's portrayal of the conflict 'is not revisionist history. It is fantasy history,' Lichtman said.

"Melvin Laird, secretary of defense under President Nixon from 1969 to 1973, said Bush is drawing the wrong lessons from history.
"'I don't think what happened in Cambodia after the war has anything to do with Iraq,' Laird said. 'Is he saying we should have invaded Cambodia? That's what we would have had to do, and we would have never done that. I don't see how he draws the parallel.'

"Other historians said Bush bypassed the fact that, after the painful US withdrawal was completed in April 1975, Vietnam stabilized and developed into an economically thriving country that is now a friend of the United States."

Michael Tackett writes in the Chicago Tribune that Bush's remarks "invited stinging criticism from historians and military analysts who said the analogies evidenced scant understanding of those conflicts' true lessons. . . .
"'This was history written by speechwriters without regard to history,' said military analyst Anthony Cordesman. 'And I think most military historians will find it painful. . . . because in basic historical terms the president misstated what happened in Vietnam.' . . .

"Cordesman noted that human tragedies similar to those that occurred in the aftermath of U.S. involvement in Vietnam already have taken place in Iraq.
"'We are already talking about a country where the impact of our invasion has driven 2 million people out of the country, will likely drive out 2 million more, has reduced 8 million people to dire poverty, has killed 100,000 people and wounded 100,000 more,' he said. 'One sits sort of in awe at the lack of historical comparability.'

"It also struck some historians as odd that the president would try to use a divisive issue like Vietnam to rally the nation behind his policy in Iraq. 'If we get into a Vietnam argument, the country is divided, but if you are going to try sell this concept that the blood is on the American people's hands because we left and were weak-kneed in Asia, that is a very tenuous and inane historical argument,' said historian Douglas Brinkley."

And then this from the Associated Press:

"The speech was an act of desperation to scare the American people into staying the course in Iraq. He's distorted the facts, painting all of the people in Iraq as being on the same side which is simply not the case. Iraq is a religious civil war." -- Lawrence Korb, assistant defense secretary under President Reagan and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

"Bush is cherry-picking history to support his case for staying the course. What I learned in Vietnam is that U.S. forces could not conduct a counterinsurgency operation. The longer we stay there, the worse it's going to get." -- Ret. Army Brig. Gen. John Johns, a counterinsurgency expert who served in Vietnam.

"The president emphasized the violence in the wake of American withdrawal from Vietnam. But this happened because the United States left too late, not too early. It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay the worse it gets." -- Steven Simon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Here's Democratic strategist Paul Begala on CNN: "He's saying, essentially, that 58,000 dead in Vietnam weren't quite enough, that maybe we should have twice as big a tragic memorial on the Mall.

"And who's saying it? A man who chose not to serve, took steps, used family friends to get out of serving in Vietnam, didn't even show up for his own Guard duty, so that better, braver men could fight that war. He stood before those better, braver men today a coward in the company of heroes."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

3 points to consider from Robert Drapers Dead Certain

The special comment by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC last night, was the best thing I've seen on tv in years. For those with broadband you can watch it again here at this location:

Three important points have already come out from the discussion of Draper's Dead Certain book in the press:

1)Bush says "I'm playing for October-November, to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence." Thus the reason becomes to stay in Iraq, so that it will become a fait accompli, so it forces his successor to keep us in Iraq too. [Playing with lives, so that any Republican candidates will have to swallow his policy.] How cynical is that?

2)Jim Rutenberg wrote a piece on the biography for this Sunday's NY Times. How disconnected from the gravity of Iraq does our president have to be for this exchange described below (emphasis added) to have taken place?

Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.”
But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush’s former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army’s dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’ ” But, he added, “Again, Hadley’s got notes on all of this stuff,” referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

I read that several times, trying to convince myself that it meant something other than my first take on it. But it always comes out the same: the President, who was the "decision-maker" behind a war gone horribly wrong claims to simply not know how one of the most crucial decisions was made. And to this day remains so unconcerned about it that (1) he hasn't bothered to find out how the decision was made and by whom, and (2) he can't even remember his reaction to finding out about the decision, even though it purportedly ran contrary to his war policy." - Bush Can't Recall How Iraqi Army Got Disbanded, or His Own ... by Lee Russ.

Letters just released by Paul Bremer show that indeed, Mr. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld were behind the idea.

3) Replenish the coffers- After 2009, Bush in his own words,( who has a net worth estimated at $21 million) plans on: "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." Bush added, "I don't know what my dad gets — it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money."

So Bush will go on the speech circuit at 50 thousand a pop, maybe they'll call it the ' Architect of Failure' tour, meanwhile many of the wounded coming back from Iraq will face lengthy rehabs, and not likely being able to give $50K speeches to pay for it. And Iraqi civilians will likely still be dying.

This guy is ghastly, ghastly.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

First this, before I do another post-

Haven't posted for a while. Call it summer lassitude, or as Andrew Bacevich points out in an article, Army of One - the Overhyping of David Petraeus in the most recent New Republic, the debate in this country itself, about Iraq, has devolved into a quagmire.

But Bush's recent speech to the VFW, invoking bloodbath, if we withdraw from Iraq, and displaying a profoundly ignorant understanding of the Vietnam War, would awaken anyone, with a conscious or knowledge about that war.

Before I do my own commentary in a post, let me just post a commentary fromBush’s Iraq-Vietnam Parallel at the New York Times Blog site:

The true similarities between the American experience in Vietnam and Iraq are the official deception to support the decision to go to war in the first place,the magnitude of the blunder going in, the destabilization of a country and region we never really understood, and the tremendously sad and wasteful loss of life-both of our own troops and the people of Vietnam and Iraq. It is way past time to reverse course and get out before more harm is done to our troops,the Iraqi people,the region and our real national interests. The lesson of Vietnam must be that we not wait this time for 58,209 dead American soldiers, sailors, airmen/women and marines before we bring our presence in Iraq to an end. "

— Posted by Stephen Somerstein

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bad News That Even Bush Can't Spin

You wonder how Bush can sleep at night knowing that American soldiers will be fighting -- and dying -- in Iraq while the parliament has decided to take August off.

White House spokesman Tony Snow sent critics of the recess to the Weather Channel, explaining that it gets up to 130 degrees in that part of the world.

blog it

Here is another following paragraph from this column by Margaret Carlson:

"Who could stand that? Certainly not Maliki government officials in their few minutes between leaving the climate- controlled Green Zone for their climate-controlled SUVs. They should try wrapping themselves in 75 pounds of armor and equipment while kicking in doors trying to carry out a foolish gambit to rid the place of weapons that don't exist to install a democracy that never will. "

Basically , " The latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes that al-Qaeda and its leader have only grown stronger since the inception of Bush's war.

While the president diverted the military to Iraq, the real terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan intensified. If he reads the estimate, he will weep for the more than 3,000 lives lost and billions of dollars spent in a war that's only heightened the hatred of Americans in the Islamic world and increased their desire to kill us -- here. "

This line of thought is also amplified by an article by Fred Kaplan found over at the Slate this previous Tuesday, the 17th of July entitled:

Read It and Weep:
Even Bush's intelligence report says the war in Iraq is making us less safe at home. It starts off:

"The National Intelligence Estimate that was released today—titled "The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland"—amounts to a devastating critique of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq, Iran, and the terrorist threat itself.

Its main point is that the threat—after having greatly receded over the past five years—is back in full force. Al-Qaida has "protected or regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack the United States. It has a "safe haven" in Pakistan. Its "top leadership" and "operational lieutenants" are intact. It is cooperating more with "regional terrorist groups."

Furthermore, he points out:

"Many times, President Bush has said that we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here. It is an absurd argument in many ways. But the NIE reveals that the opposite is the case—that because we're fighting them in Iraq, we are more likely to face them here."

I recommend both articles.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tipping Point?

Yesterday, in a paragraph that can be seen as a point at which the scales began to tip, against our involvement in Iraq, the senior Republican Senator from Virginia, had this to say:

"I am disappointed that, after great sacrifice by U.S. and Iraqi troops since the announcement of the surge in January, the Iraqi government has not met critical political benchmarks in that period," said Sen. John W. Warner (Va.), the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a bellwether of GOP opinion. "That government is simply not providing leadership worthy of the considerable sacrifice of our forces, and this has to change immediately."

Meanwhile Patrick Cockburn, a British reporter for the Independent in Iraq, who has been living in Iraq since 2003, has this to say in an article entitled, "The Decider in Denial" from today, July 13th, 2007. And I quote:

"Overall the "surge" has already failed. It was never necessary to wait for yesterday's report or a further assessment in September. The reason for the failure is the same as that for American failures since 2003. They have very few allies in Iraq outside Kurdistan. The occupation is unpopular and always has been.

Economic and social conditions are becoming more and more desperate. There is in theory 5.6 hours of electricity in Baghdad every 24 hours but many districts get none at all. It is baking hot in the Mesopotamian plain, where temperatures even at night are above 40C. People used to sleep on the roof but this has become dangerous because of mortar bombardments."

He further adds:
"The danger of the false optimism in the report is that it prevents other policies being devised. In January, President Bush decided to in effect ignore the most important recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report, which were to talk to Iran and Syria and to disengage US troops. Instead Mr Bush sent reinforcements to Iraq, denounced Iran and Syria and added to the number of his enemies by threatening to clamp down on the Shia militias." - - - The Decider in Denial

Previously in an article from July 11th, he had this to say:"
The benchmarks the Iraqi government is meant to achieve in exchange for US support were never realistic and have more to do with American than Iraqi politics.

The weak and embattled Iraqi government is supposed to make changes which the US at the height of its power in Iraq failed to make stick. At stake are policies deeply divisive among Iraqis that are to be introduced at the behest of a foreign power, the US, in a way that makes the Iraqi government look as if it is a client of America.

One US benchmark is for the elimination of militias and an end to sectarian violence. But the Shia-Kurdish parties that make up the ruling coalition almost all have their own powerful militias that they have no intention of dissolving. In much of southern Iraq the militias and the local police forces are the same. In almost all cases units of the security forces are unwilling to act against their own community." - The Benchmark Blame Game

The reality of the situation in Iraq, from just watching daytime news programs, rarely gets depicted.

As just one antidote, if one wants to know how the occupation of Iraq is not working, for us or the Iraqis, I recommend reading : The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq by Patrick Cockburn

Here is a small review excerpt from Amazon:

"In March 2003, Patrick Cockburn traveled secretly to Iraq just before the invasion, and has covered the war from Baghdad ever since. In The Occupation, Cockburn describes the fighting on the ground as Saddam's armies collapsed, the looting of Baghdad, the failure of the US occupation, the springs of the resistance and how it turned into a full scale uprising. Explaining how the three main Iraqi communities, the Kurds, the Shia and the Sunni, responded to the growing conflict, he gives us a nuanced portrait of daily life in Baghdad, of how Iraqis themselves reacted to the invasion and the long war and occupation that followed."

In my humble opinion, it is one of the best books to read about the Iraq war, that there is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer of Love -40 years on....

The San Francisco Chronicle is doing an interesting retrospective look at the Summer of LOVE, 40 years afterwards. I found the individual interviews in the sidebar particulary of value.
Here is a small sample, of what Grace Slick had to say:

"I was with Jefferson Airplane, newly. We were in a period -- I think not only me but a whole bunch of people -- of hope. Meaning what we had in mind we actually sort of envisioned happening within a fairly short period of time because we were very young and naïve. We forgot that the human being is a new species, one of the newest on the planet, and that our fear system, which is basically Cro-Magnon, is not in sync with this big brain. We thought enough information could change people's mind. If they sat around and considered it and weighed it, they'd see what was going on was probably not appropriate. And it's the same thing as anybody trying to do that today. Thinking that if you sending more troops into Iraq, the Middle East is going to change. They have been fighting for five thousands years over the same thing and they're going to continue to do that whether we're there or not."

"We don't have a democracy right now. It's a monarchy. There's nothing about it that's a democracy. So we're in worse shape now than we were and the stuff we were trying to change in the '60s. Look at it. Look at it from every standpoint and we're in worse shape now with the possible exception of black people making headway. And God bless 'em, it's about f--king time.

Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert. Those are the guys I look at who are telling me pretty much the truth. And they throw humor into it which makes it much more interesting to listen to."

Then Mountain Girl says this:

"I see remnants of that movement everywhere. It's sort of like the nuts in Ben and Jerry's ice cream; it's so thoroughly mixed in, we sort of expect it. The nice thing is that eccentricity is no longer so foreign. We've embraced diversity in a lot of ways in this country. I do think it's done us a tremendous service. It's also institutionalized a lot of the thinking that was beginning to emerge in the summer of Love; non-violence, peace movement, Buddhist leaning, sort of catch phrase stuff. All of that stuff has just become part of our common, everyday diet. I'm very happy for that. I feel like I get understood better.

I think that a lot of it is about having given ourselves permission to be weird. We gave ourselves permission. We also gave other people permission to be weird. Try to think outside of the box of convention. I think that's been terribly useful. As far as the drug culture is concerned, I think that's been terribly useful as well in promoting inventiveness in the arts. " - - Carolyn Garcia (Mountain Girl)

One can follow the link to get to the whole series of articles. As the Doormouse said," Feed your Head".

Friday, June 08, 2007

Ron Paul on Iran as a threat

Recently on 'Tucker', Ron Paul had this to say about Iran as a threat to the US:

"CARLSON: You—about Iran, you said last night, no candidate here is willing to remove, as you just said, the preemptive nuclear strike option against a country that has done no harm to us directly and is no threat to our national security, Iran.
But there is evidence actually that Iran funded the bombings of the barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed all those U.S. Marines. And they do fund terrorism. And it‘s not like Iraq circa 2002. We know that Iran has funded terror. They are not a threat at all to us?

PAUL: Not really. I—sure, what I was thinking in my mind there when I said that was they are not a threat to our national security. This idea that they are on the verge of having a weapon and we have to put anti-ballistic missiles up in Europe because the Iranians might attack us, I mean, that‘s a bit of a stretch.

You know, they are not capable of it. They don‘t have an air force. They don‘t have a real military. They have essentially no navy. For them to be a threat—and you say, well, they‘ve said nasty things against Israel. Israel could wipe Iran off the face of the Earth with few nuclear weapons in no time.
And the Iranians are not going to attack. I mean, they talk belligerently, but so did Khrushchev. I mean, they talked about burying us, and yet we stood up to the Soviets. They had 40,000 nuclear weapons.
So this idea that we have to be so bold and so intimidating and looking for another war or to spread the current war—I mean, we have enough problems on our hands and yet here we are threatening to spread the war into Iran. I think it‘s very, very dangerous and doesn‘t make any sense to me. "

Some common sense from Ron Paul. Meanwhile in an article over at CounterPunch, Cheney, Israel and Iran, Gary Leupp looks at how Dick Cheney, is working hard to get us into a war with Iran:

"There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy," writes Washington insider Steven C. Clemons on his Washington Note blog. "On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes -- who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy." This is "worrisome" because the "person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney."

Clemons cites a Cheney aide as indicating "that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake" by supporting the diplomatic approach to Iran apparently favored by the State Department. So Cheney plans to deploy an "end run strategy" around the president (who's more swayed at present by Condi Rice's "realists" than Cheney's neocons) if his flank doesn't prevail and Bush resists the demand of the neocons and the AIPAC lobby for a bloody showdown.

"The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles This strategy could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf
as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war."

Scary stuff.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What has been Accomplished in Iraq

Excellent artcile at Counterpunch by Saul Landau.
And I quote a little bit more:
" Bush's war in Iraq has lasted for the United States longer than its commitment in World War II, but with little to show other than death and destruction. Indeed, four years after "Mission Accomplished," Bush increased troop levels "to get a little security in Baghdad." His recent "surge" means close to 150,000 soldiers serve in Iraq, approximately the number present in May 2003 when he first "accomplished" his mission.

Bush has also succeeded in unifying pessimists and optimists. Pessimists see war costs rising to $2 trillion; optimists predict only a slightly lower figure. But neither add costs involved in "refurbishing" the military to make it "ready" for the next wars, higher spending for recruitment, which has become more difficult, and vastly increased sums for treating wounded and insane veterans."
The war has cost US taxpayers $500 billion thus far, only ten times more than pre war White House estimates. The Congressional Research Service estimated that Bush's outlays on Iraq could have bought the following: "A college education -- tuition, fees, room and board at a public university -- for about half of the nation's 17 million high-school-age teenagers. Preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country for the next eight years. A year's stay in an assisted-living facility for about half of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older." (quoted in The News & Observer, May 1, 2007)
 blog it

Monday, May 14, 2007

John T. Pinkston

I am going to post information about a distant relation of mine. It is from a book called Confederate Military History, published in 1899. Since it is 108 years ago I believe it has worn out as a copyright. At any rate it is just a paragraph, and further I want to get it somewhere on the web, just for other genealogical researchers who may come across it this way.
It is about John T. Pinkston, who was born Oct. 18, 1848.

"John T. Pinkston of Sparta, a boy soldier of the Confederacy, enlisted as a private in Company A of the Sixth Regiment Georgia Infantry, part of the brigade commanded by Ge. Alfred H. Colquitt. His service in the field began with this brigade in the little army, under Gen. Beauregard, which defended Peteresburg and Richmond from the federal forces under General Butler while Lee and Grant were struggling in the Wilderness in May 1864. He participated in the battle of Drewry's Bluff, resulting in the defeat of Butler, and a forenight later fought under General Robert E. Lee at Second Cold Harbor, repelling the assaults of Grant's army. Until December, 1864, he was on duty along the Petersburg and Richmond lines, fighting in the battles of Petersburg, the Crater, Ream's Station, Fort Harrison, Weldon Railroad and other engagements. Near the close of 1864 he accompanied his brigade to Wilmington, N.C., and was in the engagement at Sugar Loaf, and witnessed the great bombardment of Fort Fisher. After the retreat from Wilmington, he participated in the battles of Kinston and Bentonville, and finally surrendered with the army of Ge. J.E. Johnston, at Greensboro, April 26, 1865. Mr. Pinkston is a native of Hancock County, Ga., born Oct. 8,1848, son James M. Pinkston and Ann C. Dickson. After the his return from the war he attended school and began a sucessful career as a farmer. He is one of the leading men of his county and prominent in public affairs. For twelve years he served efficently as deputy sheriff of the county, and eight years as sheriff. Mr. Pinkston was married in 1867 to Mattie P. Knowles, and they have eight children living: William F., John B., Arthur Gorman, Annie L., Lena Lee, Mattie Little, Ethel F. and Julia C."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

An occupation which destabilizes

An excellent article at Working for Change about the Occupation of Iraq and how it has failed. The author is Patrick Cockburn who has been a reporter living in Iraq from 2003 to now. The article will become the forward to the paperback edition of his book: The Occupation - War and Resistance in Iraq.
At times, President Bush seemed intent on finding out how much damage could be
done to the U.S. by the conflict in Iraq. He did so by believing a high
proportion of his own propaganda about the resistance to the occupation being
limited in scale and inspired from outside the country. By 2007, the
administration was even claiming that the fervently anti-Iranian Sunni
insurgents were being equipped by Iran.
 blog it

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tibet Activists Protest Beijing 2008 Olympics on Mt. Everest

Tenzin Dorjee holding a protest banner at EBC, Tibet.

This just in : a protest at the Mt. Everest base camp within Tibet. Took some courage to do this since detention by the Chinese is no joke:

"Kathmandu – Three Tibetan independence activists, including one Tibetan-American, were detained by Chinese authorities today after demonstrating and unfurling a banner reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" in English, and "Free Tibet" written in Tibetan and Chinese, at Mount Everest.

The protest was held on the eve of the International Olympic Committee's announcement of the final Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay route and as a Chinese team of climbers prepared a trial ascent of the mountain. If approved, China will take the torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet, a move that Tibetans and their supporters decry as offering international approval to China's brutal occupation of Tibet."

........"the detained activists are Tenzin Dorjee, male, 27, a Tibetan American and three Americans, Kirsten Westby, female, 29, Shannon Service, female, 31 and Laurel Mec Sutherlin, male, 29, all four from USA. They have been detained and interrogated for demonstrating and unfurling a banner reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" in English, and "Free Tibet" written in Tibetan and Chinese, at EBC, Tibet to protest the proposed taking of Beijing Olympic torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet. Is it not yet known whether these activists have been released after interrogation or taken into custody for further interrogation."

see also: Four Tibet activists held at Mt. Everest base camp

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walking the plank for Iraq

Here's an interesting little squib from the latest issue of US News and World Report, which is usually too conservative to my taste, but Washington Whispers, and Inside the White House often have many juicy items:

Staying the Course Toward Shipwreck

"Pollster Stan Greenberg says that President Bush's arguments in favor of his Iraq policy have been effective only with conservatives so far, not with a wider audience of Americans. Only 35 percent of the voters support his "surge" of extra troops into Iraq-mainly conservatives, Greenberg says. "He's lost the country on that," adds the Democratic pollster. "Now it's all about the base." Greenberg believes that because Republicans are "walking the plank" for the president on Iraq, this makes them vulnerable in 2008. But the situation also presents difficult challenges for the Democrats, because Americans understand the dangerous consequences of withdrawal. But, says the pollster, if the United States is still in Iraq on Election Day 2008, "it will be a very big win for the Democrats, a tsunami."

"W" just extended tours of duty to 15 months. At present casualty rates, by this time next year 4293 US soldiers will be dead, and by then likely 30,000 US wounded.( 26,188 US as of 2/07)

Meanwhile, the Maliki govt. is making no moves towards even sitting down and talking with the Sunni's. There was some recent talk of a conference in Turkey, but none of the factions wanted to go there.

As I have noted before the Sunnis and Shiites have been living in the same Mesopotamian area for over 900 years, so it is the height of folly to believe the US can resolve their rancor within 5 or ten years by being an occupation force. Basically, at some point its up to them, if they want to indulge in civil war.

It is very sad, very sad, that by summer of 2008, we will have lost over 4000. And Iraqi civilians, something like 31 a day.

The war in Iraq at present has become like Gallipoli, a military blunder where the Allies kept pouring in troops for a year, to no effect.

I am so angered at the Republicans, that if they want to walk the plank, I'll be there clapping my hands. But what a price to pay, likely 4773 dead by November 08. I would rather those troops, not already dead, get to come back alive.

I suppose one small thing we can do is let out representatives know that there should be some conference, say at a neutral site like Cyprus, where Sunni and Shiite representatives actually sit down and just keep talking to reach some sort of solution they can live with. The 'surge' and extended tours of duty, just keeps our troops there indefinitely acting as a shield for the Shiites, using the US troops to die , while hurting Sunnis, as payback for their sufferings under Saddam. Not good, not good. Very disturbing. Anyway, my thoughts on the subject, and btw I recommend reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City as an eye opener, if nothing else. Also Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq
by T. Christian Miller.

Okay, my vent. Sorry, if it is a little hard core, but it is one of the things happening in the larger world we live in. I am curious how others feel.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Progress in Iraq -NOT!

Recently John Stewart on the Daily Show put together a series of clips of President Bush citing progress in Iraq:

" George W. Bush, January 2006: "There's progress. And it's important progress and it's an important part of our strategy to win in Iraq."
Bush, November 2005: "Iraq is making incredible political progress."
Bush, October 2005: "Iraqis are making inspiring progress."
Bush, September 2005: "Iraq has made incredible political progress."
Bush, April 2005: "I believe we're making good progress in Iraq."
Bush, March 2005: "We're making progress."
Bush, September 2004: "We're making steady progress."
Bush, July 2003: "We're making progress. It's slowly but surely making progress."

Actually, y'know what I think the president's problem is? Perhaps his definition of the word "progress." I have the reference book he uses when he doesn’t know what a word means: Mistaken P. Wrongingston's Diktionary of English. Let's see...ah, here we are. "Progress: Chaos caused by one's own incompetence that's portrayed as the result of others' malfeasance." ---The Daily Show "

Meanwhile as Phillip Carter concludes in an article over at Slate- Plan FUBAR:

" To sum up, it's more than a bit disingenuous to cast today's debate as one of Plan A versus Plan B. In fact, we've seen at least five major strategies implemented in Iraq, and all have failed, creating a legacy of bad blood that undermines our continuing efforts. Much of this failure owes to the naive belief that we can impose our will on the Iraqi people through our strategies, or win their support with a combination of security and reconstruction.

Gen. Petraeus and his brain trust have devised the best possible Plan F, given the resources available to the Pentagon and declining patience for the war at home. But the Achilles heel of this latest effort is the Maliki government. It is becoming increasingly clear to all in Baghdad that its interests—seeking power and treasure for its Shiite backers—diverge sharply from those of the U.S.-led coalition. Even if Gen. Petraeus' plan succeeds on the streets of the city, it will fail in the gilded palaces of the Green Zone. Maliki and his supporters desire no rapprochement with the Sunnis and no meaningful power-sharing arrangement with the Sunnis and the Kurds. Indeed, Maliki can barely hold his own governing coalition together, as evidenced by the Sadr bloc's resignation from the government this week and the fighting in Basra over oil and power.
Plan F will fail if (or when) the Maliki government fails, even if it improves security.

At that point, we will have run out of options, having tried every conceivable strategy for Iraq. It will then be time for Plan G: Get out."


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

I just finished reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. It is well written and an easy read.
Here is a short summary about it from Publishers Weekly via, and I quote:

"As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist, and his intimate perspective permeates this history of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquartered in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace. He presents the tenure of presidential viceroy L. Paul Bremer between May 2003 and June 2004 as an all-too-avoidable disaster, in which an occupational administration selected primarily for its loyalty to the Bush administration routinely ignored the reality of local conditions until, as one ex-staffer puts it, "everything blew up in our faces." Chandrasekaran unstintingly depicts the stubborn cluelessness of many Americans in the Green Zone—like the army general who says children terrified by nighttime helicopters should appreciate "the sound of freedom." But he sympathetically portrays others trying their best to cut through the red tape and institute genuine reforms. He also has a sharp eye for details, from casual sex in abandoned offices to stray cats adopted by staffers, which enable both advocates and critics of the occupation to understand the emotional toll of its circuslike atmosphere. Thanks to these personal touches, the account of the CPA's failures never feels heavy-handed"

It adds to growing list of books about the early failures of the Bush Policy in Iraq, and it primarily covers the period from 2003 thru 2005.
It does not focus so much on the war itself, but the Coalition Provisional Authority and life in the Green Zone.

To read it is to become aware of the stupefying level of incompetence, cronyism, corruption, and cultural unawareness, of the personnel under Bremer, and of how Rumsfeld and Cheney, were influencing choices entirely through their own pre-conceived notions, and idealogical rigidities.

I found it to be a book hard to put down, as Rajiv has so many inside stories, it makes intriguing reading. Well worth your time, if you want to know how your tax dollars were wasted and mispent.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


For posterity's sake I am going to go ahead and post a whole article from a foreign newspaper. Found it on Goggle news under the title:

Iraq's alleged prewar ties to al Qaeda discredited

"Saddam Hussein's regime was not directly in cooperation with al Qaeda before the US invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report. Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that, the report said. The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus. It shows that the Iraqi government and al Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

The Pentagon report had been released in summary form in February, the newspaper said. The Pentagon report's release came on the same day that Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on a radio program, repeated his allegation that al Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney said about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing US forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al Qaeda."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who requested the report's declassification, said in a written statement that the complete text demonstrates more fully why the inspector general concluded that a key Pentagon office -- run by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith -- had inappropriately written intelligence assessments before the March 2003 invasion, alleging connections between al Qaeda and Iraq that the US intelligence consensus disputed.

The report, in a passage previously marked secret, said Feith's office had asserted in a briefing given to Cheney's chief of staff in September 2002 that the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda was "mature" and "symbiotic," marked by shared interests and evidenced by cooperation across 10 categories, including training, financing and logistics.

Instead, the Pentagon report said, the CIA had concluded in June 2002 that there were few substantiated contacts between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi officials and had said that it lacked evidence of a long-term relationship like the ones Iraq had forged with other terrorist groups.

The CIA had separately concluded that reports of Iraqi training on weapons of mass destruction were "episodic, sketchy, or not corroborated in other channels," the inspector general's report said. It quoted an August 2002 CIA report describing the relationship as more closely resembling "two organizations trying to feel out or exploit each other" rather than cooperating operationally.

The CIA was not alone, the defense report emphasized. The Defense Intelligence Agency had concluded that year, that "available reporting is not firm enough to demonstrate an ongoing relationship" between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda, it said.

But the contrary conclusions reached by Feith's office -- and leaked to the conservative Weekly Standard magazine before the war-- were publicly praised by Cheney as the best source of information on the topic, a circumstance the Pentagon report cites in documenting the impact of what it described as "inappropriate" work. "

What we have here is another example of the Cheney disinformation machine at work. He cobbles together just enough facts to suit the results that he wants, and spins it enough times so they in his own blood-thinned brain he likely thinks it is true. Who cares what the CIA, or DIA, or the Pentagon concludes.

Another recent exampe was Valerie Plame's sworn testimony before Congress, where she said that there was no substance to the statement that she was the one who sent her husband, Joe Wilson to Niger.

That had been a Republican talking point all through the early years of the Libby leak case. It was spun from Cheney and his office from the very beginning of the controversy. More Cheney disinformation.

I myself think Cheney is quite delusional, perhaps brought on , by him taking inordinate amounts of blood thinner. I also think it is important to take note of all the disinformation and outright lies he puts out.

Meanwhile in an article at the Pacific Free Press entiled :
Bush, Narcissus, and the Military Parasites I came across this neat little paragraph:

"Behaving as if their country was a banana republic, they put into the office an unread, ill-traveled, inarticulate, crude, callous, mean-spirited, trouble-making, revenge-seeking, Vietnam-evading, incompetent, loud-mouthed, cheap-shot, but consistently-bailed-out narcissist — largely because Bush and his propagandists proclaimed he had found God. "

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hunter S. Thompson's mantle

Over at Rolling Stone magazine Matt Taibbi has taken up the mantle of Hunter S. Thompson with his Road Rage and Low Post articles:
Here is a few paragraphs from a Road Rage article of 3/22 which is not published online, so I can't link to it. The title of it was : Dick has a tough week.

" Amid all the spineless calculating toadies who road Bush's coattails to tit Cabinet jobs and fat Iraq contracts, Cheney is the one guy who genuinely believes in all of this bullshit. This has been his show all along and who else's could it have been really?

His counterpart, the president , after all is a snivling egomaniac trapped for all eternity in some unseemly infantile phase of personality development-and while W.'s hang ups are sufficiently incurable to keep him safely in denial in the face of abject failure and international outrage, there is no way the tortured vibes emanating from his id were ever purposeful or articulate enough to drive the world's greatest army across the ocean into Mesopotamia.

No, it had to be the indomitable will of a sinister Machiavellian creature like Cheney that made this Iraq disaster happen. Only that kind of personality could be capable of manipulating the intelligence community into signing off on bogus career-wrecking analyses and orchestrating from afar an absurd dog-and-pony show like the Hans Blix/U.N. inspections fiasco. Only a true believer like Cheney could steer this many huge bureaucracies so far off the cliff.

At every step of the way, the most brazen lies about Iraq were always Cheney's. It was Chaney who said unequivocally that Iraq had a nuclear program, Cheney who said the insurgency was in its "last throes," Cheney who said Iraq was the " geographic base" of the terrorists who hit us on 9/11...
And it was Cheney who said, with the assurance of either a sleepwalker or a psychopath or both, " I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

I try to check out Taibbi's The Low Post every week. Check at your library for Rolling Stone and past Road Rages.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gonzales A Go-Go

Well, the Time Coaster has been rather lazy as of late. Sorry. As Pico and Alvarado of Firesign theater fame would say, " Park and lock it! Not Responsible!

I do note with interest the lastest headline in the fray about the 8 fired attorneys, and Fredo , aka AG Alberto Gonzales.

"WASHINGTON — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in an hourlong meeting last fall, according to documents released Friday that indicate he was more involved in the dismissals than he has claimed.

Last week, Gonzales said he "was not involved in any discussions about what was going on" in the firings of eight prosecutors that has since led to a political firestorm and calls for his ouster.

A Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Gonzales' aides said late Friday.

There, Gonzales signed off on the plan, which was drafted by his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson. The five-step plan approved by Gonzales involved notifying Republican home-state senators of the impending dismissals, preparing for potential political upheaval, naming replacements and submitting them to the Senate for confirmation."

So the import of this suggests that Mr. Gonzales was lying last week. I guess his defense would be total mental aphasia, .i.e. he has no recall of the Nov. 27th meeting. Apparently we are asked to believe he runs the Dept. of Justice and has no idea Kyle Sampson was working towards firing the 8.

One would gather then, that 'Fredo' thinks he can lie about such things and continue to serve in his office. We shall see.

For a more in depth analysis of this and the Karl Rove angle, read Sidney Blumenthal's What Bush is hiding in yesterday's Salon.

Here are excerpts:

"In the U.S. attorney scandal, Alberto Gonzales gave orders, but he also took them -- from Karl Rove, who plotted to turn the federal criminal justice system into the Republican Holy Office of the Inquisition": Sidney Blumenthal / Salon

And " "The disclosure of the e-mails establishing Rove's centrality suggests not only the political chain of command but also the hierarchy of coverup. Bush protects Gonzales in order to protect those who gave Gonzales his marching orders ~ Rove and Bush himself .... Bush's resistance to having Rove placed under oath or even having a transcript of his testimony appears to be a coverup of a series of obstructions of justice. The e-mails hint at the quickening pulse of communications between the White House and the Justice Department. But only sworn testimony can elicit the truth."

Farther along I came across an excellent article by Robert Scheer, who has a few choice words about Mr. Cheney:

"While he is still as dangerous as any cornered animal, Cheney stands brightly revealed as the main culprit in cherry-picking the evidence to make the case for a stupid, failed war. He has been exposed as a vindictive, inflexible ideologue, who attempts to destroy all who publicly disagree with him, such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Wilson’s CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame Wilson.

- - - - His extensive ties and loyal political service to energy and defense companies such as Halliburton (which now, in a burst of honesty, is moving its headquarters to Dubai) reveal him to be a man of deep corruption.

As if we needed more evidence, the conviction last week of Cheney’s former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, provided ample evidence of the vice president’s bottomless cynicism. Surely congressional investigators will now ask Cheney, among other awkward questions, what he meant in that note he wrote to himself prior to the conviction, stating, “Not going to ... sacrifice the guy who was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others.” Who could have ordered Libby to break the law, other than his boss?

If the occupation had gone well, of course, Cheney wouldn’t be under fire. But as begins its fifth year, the only winners in this war are the aforementioned radical Shiites, Iran, mercenaries, al-Qaida, oil companies and military contractors such as Halliburton, which has scooped up $27 billion in contracts paid with our taxes. Now Halliburton is making its home in an undemocratic oil-garchy so distasteful to Americans that we wouldn’t let a company from there manage our ports.

Perhaps Cheney, in disgrace, can build his retirement cave there. "

from : Cheney is his own worst enemy

Monday, March 19, 2007

Interesting quote on the 4th anniversary of the Invasion

Richard Engel in his latest post from Iraq uses this quote. I found it to be of interest so I am requoting it here:

"In 1919, the British military’s official “eye-witness” to the World War I campaigns in Mesopotamia, Edmund Chandler, wrote in his war journal, “The Long Road to Baghdad” that Iraq's “thirsty soil has swallowed many empires.”
Chandler offered this warning to great powers like his own government, which he believed rushed to war in Baghdad without sufficient resources or a clear plan:

“Mesopotamia is a sinister, pestilential land. Not only has she devoured her own empires and kingdoms born of the soil, Ur of the Chaldees, the Assyrian Niveneh, three dynasties of Babylon, Ctesiphon of the Chosres; she has laid her blight on the greatest Empires of the West. It was in the malarious swamps of the Euphrates that Alexander caught the fever that cut short his life; it was at Ctesiphon that Julian and his Roman legions lost the Empire in the East.”

- War Zone Diary

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Prayer Flag cairn

Here is one of the rock cairns with prayer flags and mantra stones that can be seen at Iron Knot Ranch. There are several of them at different spots on the land there. It made for a good photo. May all beings benefit.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

One more Prayer Wheel photo

I am adding one more photo of the prayer wheels just to give a different view. This is the central wheel. It has a railing around it so you can manually make it turn. Which is a meritorious thing to do, by the way.
The wheels are packed with mantra on paper and on microfilm.

Prayer Wheel building at Iron Knot

This is the octagon shaped building which houses the Prayer Wheels at Iron Knot Ranch in New Mexico. The walls are made of rasterblock, which can be stuccoed, just like adobe. I think it is one of the most awesome Dharmic installations in the West. One walks inside, and finds oneself immersed among seventeen spinning, prayer wheels, each loaded with millions of mantra. It really challenges one's ordinary perceptions when you are in there.

Prayer Wheels

Just recently got back from a Vajrakiliya retreat at Iron Knot Ranch in New Mexico.

Here is info about Vajrakiliya:
The wrathful practice of Vajrakilaya is an extremely powerful means to remove obstacles of any kind, including obstacles to health, longevity, activity, spiritual practice, and, ultimately, to realization of enlightenment. Performed at the close of the lunar year, Vajrakilaya practice averts and dispels negativity from the old year and establishes auspicious conditions in the New Year for ourselves and all beings.
Here is a look at the terrain at Ironknot which is about 14 miles east of Duncan, Arizona, but is actually in New Mexico.

The relatively new installation of Prayer Wheels has seventeen prayer wheels. Some are loaded with microfilm of mantra. They have electric motors so they turn 24 a day, all week, week after week, except sometimes the motors need maintenance. The central one is turnable by hand.
I came back via the Sunset Limited (Amtrak). It was an interesting journey.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Al Davis added to Mt. Rushmore in 2103

For a while my blogging efforts have been mostly political or , well some heavy posts. Now in a more light-hearted vein, here is a jpg I jizzed up largely for my brother Tom, who among other things is a Raiders fan.

It suggests that by 2103, Al Davis will be added to Mt. Rushmore. Apologies to Mr. Lincoln. The interesting thing is this post headline might get picked up somewhere, and the next thing I know, this blog gets more attention, than from any of my more weighty pronouncements. Oh, well. At least my brother dug it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Non to 2007?

Well to start the new year here's a droll story from France,found on the BBC web site:

French marchers say 'non' to 2007 :

Hundreds of protesters in France have rung in the New Year by holding a light-hearted march against it.
Parodying the French readiness to say "non", the demonstrators in the western city of Nantes waved banners reading: "No to 2007" and "Now is better!"

The marchers called on governments and the UN to stop time's "mad race" and declare a moratorium on the future. The protest was held in the rain and organisers joked that even the weather was against the New Year.

The tension mounted as the minutes ticked away towards midnight - but the arrival of 2007 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.
The protesters began to chant: "No to 2008!"

Then I read with interest an op ed by Walter Shapiro over at Salon entitled:
A decisive year for "the decider",

in which he says:" Nearly four years after the statues of Saddam Hussein were toppled in Baghdad, 2006 was the year that reality set in about the Mesopotamian mess. Outside the closed-loop universe of conservative talk radio and Fox News, there no longer is a constituency for vaporous visions of victory. "

And about the election: "Eleven months later, the seismic rumbles are still reverberating, as the Democrats won 29 new House seats, won six Senate seats and took over six additional governorships, including those in New York and Ohio. The most stunning statistic: Not a single Democrat running for reelection was defeated for Congress or governor."

That single statement alone undercuts those who say the democrats didn't win, it was the Republicans who manuvered themselves into a loss.

Meanwhile I find myself inclined to agree with Sen. Joe Biden. Here is a capsule of his statements this week:

" Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration have privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will "be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof," in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam."

I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost," Biden said. "They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively."

Thus the surge is a stop gap measure to postpone the collapse until 2008, at which W leaves and then blames the mess on the Democrats when a pullout finally happens. Cynical, - - - perhaps.

Yet as Tim Dickison at Rolling Stone notes when commenting on Biden's statement:

"It sounds like Biden’s given up on this war, which I take as a definitive sign of defeat. Say what you will about Biden, he took the costs and responsibilities of this war seriously. Unlike others in his party he really did try to focus on this as an American committment, not the president’s war.

Accordingly, he doggedly attempted to help the administration right the course in Iraq. But it’s now clear to him, and to everyone who saw the Saddam snuff film, that there’s no Iraq to be redeemed.

Vengeful sectarianism has trumped any overriding sense of national unity. And there’s nothing our military can do now to turn that tide. By supporting the Maliki government we’re simply sanctioning the actions of the Shiia Death Squads also known as the Interior Ministry.

There are no good solutions, but Bush’s plan to put more fingers in a dike that’s about to burst will not save his legacy from the harshest judgments of history. "

Okay 2007, here we go. It will soon be the Tibetan year of the Fire Pig. Whoa!