Monday, December 31, 2007

One lazy blogger...

Just have not been able to get here of late to make entries. Time has passed amazingly quickly over the last few months- and my ability to get things done both at home at work have not kept pace.

I thought as my hand healed more time would come free. Not so. I had to make up for lost time, and I had to prepare to teach a new class. Sigh. Maybe the situation will relax soon.

I hope to get back to work here at the site after the holidays.

Items on my 'watch list' (much less sinister than a government watch list):
  • Pakistan- with the assassination of Bhutto that nation looks to be in a very precarious position. There is no democracy when opposition candidates are killed.
  • Our own election- Iowa votes this week. Will Edwards stay alive with a win? Does Guliani even matter any more? If Romney and Clinton are willing to be this mean this early in the election process, just how mean will they be willing to be when it comes down to the wire? Those are two nasty politicians.
  • Relative calm in Iraq- does that matter, or are the terrorists simply keeping their powder dry waiting for our withdrawl?
  • The media- is our excessive focus on Brittney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, the (departed) Anna Nicole Smith, etc., a passing fancy or a depressing trend that is gaining strength? How can any self-respecting journalism organization devote 1 minute of news coverage to the topics above while American troops are at war? (Maybe that's the issue- are there any self-respecting journalism organizations???)
  • Faith and politics in the upcoming election- will anyone truly exercise their faith through their politics, or will we get more of the same- exploiting faith (and the faithful) through politics? Does any candidate- all of whom profess to being a Christian of some sort- have the courage and moral compass to clearly state that they will not accept torture as a method of interrogation?
  • The environment- how long will Americans continue to whine about the price of oil but do NOTHING about it? Supply is dwindling. Demand is growing. Prices will continue to rise.

Those are some issues for me.

For now, I'm enjoying the holidays, and hope you are doing the same.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First the Shah, now...

The cartoonist could have added the US one-time support for Saddam, right Mr. Rumsfeld?
Musharraf and Bush

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Continued dis-service

In an earlier post I made note of how some Presidential candidates who are also Senators abstained from a key Iraq war funding vote.

They're at it again. This time, they fail to vote of the nomination of Attorney General Mukasey.

Clinton, Dodd, Biden, Obama, McCain all did not cast a vote.

Do they no longer need to represent the interests of their states and nation while they campaign for President. I understand that they will miss votes, but on fundamental matters? Especially fundamental matters on which they express strong opinions on the campaign trail?? Where are they when needed to keep another person who does not know if waterboarding is torture and illegal from assuming the position of chief law enforcement officer?

If they can be so cavelier about representing their states interests, how can we trust them to represent ours once they assume the office of President?

These individuals should be ashamed of their failure.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"All must be friends
All must be loved,
All must be held dear,
All must be helped."

- Teresa of Avila
The Way of Perfection

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

God is Great, God is GREEN

I've always seen care and concern for the planet- stewardship of God's gift to us- as a matter for people of faith.
Now an increasing number of typically Republican voters of an evangelical persuasion are coming to a similar conclusion.  To these individuals I say, "Welcome!"
[A] movement called "creation care," which asserts that Christians are the stewards of God's creation, has rapidly been been gathering momentum, said the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, or NAE.

"What is really happening is that American evangelicals are becoming, well, green, if you will," Cizik said...

"This is going to be an issue which evangelicals are going to look at when they cast their ballots," Cizik said.

"I think it should be on par with all the other issues," like abortion and same-sex marriage, he said. "When you think about it ... hundreds of millions of people around the globe are already being impacted by climate change."

In a poll last month by Ellison Research, 70 percent of self-described evangelicals said they believed global warming would have an impact on future generations, and 64 percent said action should begin immediately.

More than half — 54 percent — said they would be more likely to support candidates who worked to curb global warming.

AG vote coming up

Headling from "Truthdig"
I agree.
If we cannot have someone who understands that waterboarding is torture, and is willing to say that torture is wrong and illegal, then we should let the Attorney General's office remain vacant.
Anyone in the Senate who votes for his confirmation is voting to continue the torture policies of the US, is voting for slipping moral standards on the world stage, is voting to put American service men and women at risk if captured by would-be enemies, and is demonstrating a profound lack of moral integrity.
Keep an eye out for which of the presidential contenders who are in the Senate vote for this nominee.

Waterboarding History

Interesting article about how waterboarding has been used across time, and helping to clarify that it is in fact torture.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Discouraging story

Experts: West can't stop Web radicalization

Internet plays growing role in spreading extremist propaganda, recruiting

Whether the hate is domestic- white supremecy groups, for example- or international islamist in origin, it is spread rapidly through the internet.
Talk about a computer virus.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What Bush leaves behind for the GOP

It used to be that the Republicans had two crucial strengths in how they were perceived in the public eye as they headed into national elections. 1) They were better on national defense. 2) They were better for economic growth.

I'm sure that there will be many, many Republicans lining up in January '09 as President prepares to leave the White House to say thank you for the state in which he leaves the party.

War Politics

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is finding himself in some trouble due to his support of the Iraq invasion. His numbers are not strong as he seeks re-election.

What's interesting is some of the polling data from the state.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Kentucky voters want the U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year. That figure is close to the national average and includes 22% who want the troops withdrawn immediately. Thirty-seven percent (37%) want the troops to remain until the mission in Iraq has been accomplished.
A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 57% of Americans would like to see U.S. troops brought home from Iraq within a year.

Also interesting is the fact that the "out of Iraq" numbers are actually down in the last couple of months- from about 64% to the present numbers.

Perhaps that's because the major media coverage of the war has slipped to virtually none while the news has been dominated by other stories- some important (California wildfires), but others ridiculous (Britney Spears and her latest bad behavior).

It seems that the more Americans think about the war, the less they like it.

If only they had thought a little bit more before the invasion.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Historical Reminder

Police and soldiers emboldened by state of emergency powers swept up hundreds of activists and opposition members on Sunday, dragged away protesters shouting "Shame on you!", and turned government buildings into barbed-wire compounds.
This nation is, according to President Bush, one of our "key allies in the global war on terror," and yet here they are acting like the military dictatorship that they are.  Bush administration officials relentlessly use the word democracy- at every turn- when discussing Pakistan, but there is nothing democratic about that nation.  Musharaff took power in a coup, appointed himself President, conducted elections that were decidedly less than free, and has now given up all pretense of democracy by suspending the Constitution and seeking out hundreds of political opponents.
This is reminiscent of one of the key areas of moral confusion in the US during the Cold War- many of the nations we supported then because they were 'anti-communist' were horribly undemocratic, corrupt, and every bit as evil in their treatment of their people as communist nations. 
Will we repeat this mistake (or perhaps I should say, continue to repeat this mistake) in our struggle against terrorism?  We certainly appear to be poised to do this.
In doing so, the people of the US should realize that they fan the flames of extremism and make our terrorism problem worse, not better.  A key complaint of Al Qaeda and other jihadis is that the US supports corrupt regimes in the Middle East.  While this complaint is more than a little disingenuous (remember that the Taliban was selling opium as its major export), it is none the less hard to defend ourselves against when we DO in fact support corrupt regimes like Musharraf's.  Bush and Rice repeating the word 'democracy' repeatedly when discussing Musharraf or Pakistan is not only simply an example of the 'big lie' technique (just repeat the lie over and over until it becomes perceived as truth), it is a laughable one, as no one, despite the repetitions, believes it.
This is just another example of how a moral compass must guide our foreign policy.  Lies, support for repressive dictators, and, of course, torture, will undercut any US efforts in the struggle with terrorism, and, in the end, leave us more vulnerable and in a weakend position in the world.
The sooner we recognize that moral thinking is also pragmatic thinking, the better off we will be.

Getting Out of Iraq

Interesting article over at History News Network on the subject of comparing Vietnam and Iraq.  Drawing comparisons is problematic, the article correctly points out.  That said, in terms of comparison...
In diplomatic terms, leaving Vietnam was a prerequisite to reestablishing U.S. moral standing abroad. By the early 1970s, at the height of the war, many U.S. allies in Europe and elsewhere had become concerned that a country willing to spend 20 years and 50,000 lives opposing an anti-colonial liberation struggle was seriously lacking in competent leadership. Withdrawing from Vietnam thus removed a persistent irritant in U.S. relations with its closest allies and deprived American enemies of an invaluable propaganda point.
As did the Vietnam War, U.S. involvement in Iraq has produced a profound strategic myopia on the part of American policymakers. The Iraq war has drained U.S. military and economic resources and distracted the Bush administration from longer-term challenges to American power. It has deeply damaged the foreign policy consensus that emerged after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and left the future course of U.S. diplomacy in doubt. And, like the Vietnam War, the conflict in Iraq has led much of the world to conclude that the United States lacks the wisdom and maturity required of a superpower.

Read the whole article for yourself.  Nicely done.

Last to Die

Bruce Springsteen asks on his new album that famous question asked of Vietnam:  "Who will be the last to die for a mistake?"
I don't think he's talking about Vietnam.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

- Proverbs 29:2-2
Especially those tortured by the wicked will groan.
Sounds like Isaiah is referring to the Mukasey hearings...

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The Lord saw it, and it displeased [God] that there was no justice.

- Isaiah 59:14-15

Friday, November 02, 2007

Mukasey should listen

What Mukasey could say:  

"Anybody who does not know if waterboarding is torture or not has no experience in the conduct warfare and national security."
"People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S. We are a better nation than that... It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot and being used on Buddhist monks as we speak."
Source of these quotes:  John McCain.  I disagree with McCain on the Iraq Invasion, but he's no softy on foreign policy, and knows what it's like to be tortured.

No Attorney General is better

President Bush says that, "[i]n a time of war, it's vital for the president to have a full national security team in place... A vital part of that is the attorney general."

This statement came in response to the fact that Democrats are holding up the nomitation of retired federal Judge Michael Mukasey for Attorney General. And they are absolutely right to do so. We've had too much toleration of torture by this adminstration. We've taken the body blows done to American prestige by former AG Alberto Gonzales, with his 'torture memo' and tortured logic when it comes to the treatment of those detained by the US in the 'war on terror.'

When testifying before Congress in his confirmation hearings, Mukasey was unwilling to address the question of whether waterboarding is torture and thus illegal in a forthright manner. Someone as evasive as he was should not become the chief law enforcement officer of our nation.

Remember the outrage by Republicans over the "that depends on what the meaning of 'is' is," by President Clinton. That outrage was fair. Clinton parsed his words in ways that at times during the whole Lewinsky affair strained any credible use of the English language and did, in fact, amount to purjury. It was wrong.

Isn't evasiveness on the issue of torture equally wrong- perhaps even more so than evasiveness about private, consensual sexual matters?

It is time for American to begin moving forward towards a more moral foreign policy, one more consistent with what Americans would prefer to believe about themselves, rather than to continue to have a foreign policy that represents what has been America at its worst- about vengence rather than justice.

Mukasey should either answer the important questions clearly, honestly, and concretely, or America should do without an Attorney General until we have a President willing to appoint a person of integrity and dignity.

And, as we move towards the election of 2008, Americans should take care to make certain they put into office someone who is willing to appoint such a person, as our current President is not.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Don't forget to bring the good experiences of meditation into your daily activities. Instead of acting and reacting impulsively and following your thoughts and feelings here and there, watch your mind carefully, be aware, and try to deal skillfully with problems as they arise. If you can do this each day, your meditation will have been successful.

-Kathleen McDonald

No matter what our faith, isn't this the goal?  Shouldn't we take our religious practice into our daily lives?
Desires achieved increase thirst like salt water.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lack of progress

Anyone who thought that perhaps we'd move in a positive direction in terms of a return to American values on torture with the departure of Gonzales... well... you'll be disappointed, apparently.

Our government authorized torture in 2005, and apparently has found a new Attorney General whose new way of authorizing the tactic is to evade the topic.

It is critical to serve others, to contribute actively to others' well-being. I often tell practitioners that they should adopt the following principle: regarding one's own personal needs, there should be as little involvement or obligation as possible. But regarding service to others, there should be as many possible involvements and obligations as possible. This should be the ideal of a spiritual person.
HH Dalai Lama

A Third Party??

Interesting article about the threat to form a 3rd party by evangelicals if they nominate pro-life, pro-gay marriage Guliani.  It's an interview with Richard Land, a leading evangelical who serves as president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
A serious threat?  I don't know.  I doubt it.  I think when push comes to shove the evangelical leaders would rather win than be right, so they will vote against Clinton by voting for Guliani.
If a third party materialized, however,  it would torpedo Republican chances in '08- more than Nader hurt the Dems in 2000.  It would be more like what Theordore Roosevelt did to the Republicans back in 1912.   Bull Moose Party II
But I still marvel at the inconsistency on one issue when it comes to the Religious Right:  Where's the outrage over an unjust war to equate with the outrage over abortion?
From the interview, Land says he cannot vote for Clinton.  He compares that vote to voting for a Klansman.  He says:  "I cannot vote for someone who believes that it's all right to stop a beating heart."
Wanna bet he voted for G.W. Bush in 2004?
3,834 American hearts stopped through his unjustified invasion of Iraq (not to mention as many as 80,000 Iraqi civilian hearts).
Do those hearts count in the Religious Right's moral equation?  Or is it really just winning the elections that truly matters?


2 Stories, Irony Apparently Missed in DC

U.S. can't account for DynCorp performance in training police, report says... auditors said the environment was "ripe for waste and fraud."  DynCorp's invoices had numerous problems, such as duplicate payments. [W]ith invoices paid without being checked, and with no one tracking what they were for, auditors say it's impossible to determine what money was spent on.
So of course...
President Bush asked Congress on Monday for another $46 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and finance other national security needs.

$500 Billion is not enough to get the job right, apparently.
You know, a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Digit Data

Well, I've not been a very active 'blogger' for some time now. You may recall, my most loyal visitors, that this has been due to an injury I incurred during the summer- an injury that required surgery on my left hand.

The update is a good one. The surgery has been successful. My left hand now works properly again. It is not yet as strong as it was, and there is still some pain from time to time, but I am happy with the improvement. I've had many doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, and a lot of down time for my hand. Now I've been given the 'green light' by my doctor to do what I wish and feel my hand is strong enough for. I have only one more- presuming all continues to go well- doctor appointment, and while I continue to do physical therapy on my own, I have no more appointments with the physical therapist to attend. My time is becoming more my own.

I still find that if I attempt to type too much- too long, that is- that I experience discomfort. However, I am improving and am finding that I can type much more rapidly and accurately, and the length of time I can type is gradually increasing. I suspect my hand will never quite be 'normal' again, but it is returning to at least 'very good' if not perfect, and is much, much better than before the surgery.

Thus, I hope to return to a more active mode here in the weeks ahead. I hope to get back to my thinking, analyzing, and writing about important topics of our collective lives.

One of the important issues that I live with daily is that of education. I find that now, my teaching, may also keep me somewhat limited as a blogger. Why? The standardized test fixation of politicians today is changing the nature of my work as a teacher in ways that are not good- taking up enormous amounts of time as I try to work at a breakneck pace and virtually sucking the life out of me as I become a mere implementer of what the very wise (italics indicates sarcasm in this case) people in Lansing and Washington, DC believe I should teach.

If those people are such experts on the teaching of history, why do they prove to be such poor students of it? Why do they think that they are more qualified than I to decide how to teach the history that they clearly do not know?

Oh, sure, they know some facts. But there is a major difference, and substantial gulf, between mere knowledge and understanding. This the politicians clearly do not grasp. They clearly think that if our students are capable 'Trivial Pursuit' (remember that game) or 'Jeopardy' contestants, then they are ready to be citizens.

An education should not merely be about the ability to recite facts. Educated people should understand the context of those facts, be able to discern the meaning of those facts, and be able to apply those facts in new, flexible, and powerful ways. The current drive towards testing our students by having them fill in bubble sheets takes us no where in terms of these goals. Even the writing that is required by many states- including Michigan- as a part of their testing does nothing for true education because it is so locked-down in terms of format and constricted in terms of content.

Oh, and did I mention that these very wise politicians expect us to do all of this in an environment where our resources are being cut back? Do more and deal with greater problems among our students with less money- is this educated thinking?

So, as a teacher I am left tremendously busy, physically tired, mentally drained, and endlessly frustrated by the environment in which I work. Thus I may not have the time and energy to post as often as I like.

That said, I do hope, however, to become a more frequent contributor to this blog in the future than I have in recent months.

Thank you to all who have continued to visit, only to find limited posts and a lot of 'cut-and-paste' quotations. I hope the future will be more satisfying to us all.

Grey Pilgrim

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The "War" on Terror Continues to Hurt Us

Hatred of U.S. drives al-Qaida recruiting

As Americans become desensitized, violence radicalizes ordinary Arabs

"The U.S. says this war is part of the global war on terrorism," Saedi Farhan, an Iraqi engineer who took part in an attack on U.S . forces, said in a weekend interview with NBC News. "But people here say that the war has increased fanaticism and brought terrorism to Iraq."

"An aggressor occupied my country, destroyed it and made millions [of] refugees. It is an honor to fight this," said Hamid Ali, the owner of a construction company who also admitted attacking U.S. troops.
The daily stream of images from wartorn Iraq — of screaming men, women and particularly children; burned-out cars; twisted metal — has dramatically increased the organization's pool of recruits, said al-Qaida sympathizers in cell after cell.

Can we change policies before it is too late?
Is it already too late?

Thin skinned China

Even Americans seem to be more willing to handle criticism than China, and Americans are, in my view, very thinned skin when it comes to criticism of their culture and policies.
In this case, given what China has done to Tibet, the criticism, even if only implied, is well deserved.
Congressional award and presidential visit angers China

China warns that a planned White House meeting Tuesday between Bush and the Dalai Lama and a public ceremony Wednesday to award the spiritual leader the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal are bad for U.S.-Chinese ties.

"We are certainly very much displeasured and regret the fact that the U.S. side would totally ignore the repeated positions of the Chinese side and go ahead with its erroneous decision," Wang said in an interview. "Such moves on the U.S. side are not a good thing for the bilateral relationship."

In Beijing, a government official on Tuesday also criticized the U.S. plans.

"The move will seriously damage China-U.S. relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. Liu did not specify how relations would be damaged if the award does take place.

He told a regular news conference that China hoped the U.S. would "correct its mistakes and cancel relevant arrangements and stop interfering in the internal affairs of China."

Honoring the Dalai Lama is no mistake, and the internal affairs of China are abysmal.  If China would end its repression, the critisim will end.  Perhaps they should stop worrying about US internal affairs and correct their own mistakes.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The mouth is not a door through which any evil enters. The ears are such doors as are the eyes. The mouth is a door only for exit.
- James O. Hannay
The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
- Psalm 34:14

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Forming a new world religion is difficult and not particularly desirable. However, in that love is essential to all religions, one could speak of the universal religion of love.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Humility is attentive patience.
- Simone Weil

As a mother watches over her child, willing to risk her own life to protect her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings, suffusing the whole world with unobstructed loving kindness.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy.

- Proverbs 12:20-20

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

When the war on terrorism BECOMES terrorism

Mohammed al-Amin has just been released from Guantánamo, and his story, though brutal, is typical of the suffering that men have been forced to endure for five and a half years.
It is one thing to tout the 778 men who have been held in Guantánamo as "the worst of the worst," as the administration did when the prison was set up in January 2002, but it is quite another to realize that 431 of these men have now been released, and that a large number of them, like Mohammed al-Amin, were completely innocent of any wrong-doing.
Mohammed al-Amin's accidental odyssey to torture, and to his long years of illegal imprisonment without charge or trial, began when, at the age of 17, he left his parents and his five sisters, and traveled to Saudi Arabia to study the Koran, with the intention of becoming a teacher. He then traveled to Pakistan to continue his studies, but was arrested in Peshawar in April 2002, and held for two months in a Pakistani jail, where he was "subjected to beatings, held for prolonged periods in solitary confinement and denied adequate food," in an attempt to force him to confess that he was a Saudi Arabian national, because, presumably, Saudis were valued more highly than Mauritanians.

He was then transferred to Bagram, where, like many other prisoners, he was suspended by his wrists for long periods of time. He explained to his lawyers in Guantánamo that he was tied by his hands to the ceiling "for days on end," and that "whenever he lost consciousness a guard would forcefully pull him up to wake him." He also said that he was sexually abused and subjected to sleep deprivation, and was threatened with being sent to Egypt to face further torture.

Transferred to Guantánamo in August 2002, he said that his first year in Guantánamo was "terrible" and "worse than Bagram," and explained that, in addition to the sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation that he had experienced in Afghanistan, he was also exposed to loud music, as part of a program to "break" the detainees, which was masterminded by the Pentagon and introduced by Guantánamo's commander, Major General Geoffrey Miller. As in Bagram, he was eventually forced to make false confessions, telling his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear.

In protest at his indefinite detention without charge or trial, al-Amin joined a widespread hunger strike in August 2005, when his weight, which had been a meager 121 pounds on arrival (8 stone 9 pounds), plunged, at one point, to just 103 pounds (7 stone 5 pounds). By January 2006, when he was one of 84 detainees who were still maintaining their hunger strike, the authorities responded by drafting in a new team of doctors, armed with restraint chairs and feeding tubes. Al-Amin said that he was removed from the camp hospital and placed in solitary confinement in a windowless black cell, which he called the "freezer," because the air conditioning was turned up to the maximum. He also explained that the guards would "throw water on him to exacerbate the freezing conditions, and would wake him up if he fell asleep."

Describing his force-feeding, he – like others who have spoken about the experience – said he was fastened so tightly in the restraint chair that he was unable to move at all, and that a large feeding tube was then forced into his stomach, which was, of course, extremely painful. He added that, whether by accident or design, the doctors regularly "stated that they could not find the correct position and forcefully pulled the feeding tube from him," repeating the process two or three times, which caused his nose to bleed. He also stated that he was "deliberately overfed until he vomited, and when he vomited the force feeding would start again," that he was "strapped in the restraint chair for periods of two to three hours at a time, which, coupled with being overfed, led him to urinate and defecate on himself," and that he was then "dumped, covered in his own vomit, blood and faeces, back in his isolation cell." Although he attempted to maintain his hunger strike, he admitted that he gave up after 21 days. With some accuracy, he told his lawyers that the authorities "used physicians to commit crimes," and explained that doctors supervised the force-feeding, watching him while he was forced to vomit, and that on one occasion a doctor asked him, "Are you going to quit the hunger strike or stay in this situation?"

Despite all this violence, he was cleared for release sometime in 2006, after an Administrative Review Board concluded that he was no longer a threat to the United States and no longer had any intelligence value...

Bush and Cheney shoving a pram

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bush Redux

"We can't forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had WMD. He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program," Thompson told an audience of about 60 at a Newton cafe.
What's worse... deceiving people by obscuring the facts, or deceiving people once the facts have become known?
Follow Thompson's illogic:  'the absence of evidence is [somehow] evidence.' 
Is it that impossible to admit a mistake?


The Senate passed a resolution to support the President's request for $150B in war funding .
Wait.  Aren't there 100 members of the Senate?  Who didn't vote?
The five absentions were Biden (D-DE), Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), McCain (R-AZ), Obama (D-IL).
Now that's leadership.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I hate all Iranians, US aide tells MPs

Britsh MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America's stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush's senior women officials: "I hate all Iranians."

And she also accused Britain of "dismantling" the Anglo-US-led coalition in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon.

The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments this month.

Given the occassional irrational comments that come from the Administration regarding Iran and it's president (he's a bad man, but he's no Hitler, as some have implied), does war w/ Iran seem so removed from reality as it should be?  Will American's take a new war so willingly as they accepted the war with Iraq?


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here.

- Annie Dillard
Abandon wrongdoing. It can be done. If there were no likelihood, I would not ask you to do it. But since it is possible and since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: abandon wrongdoing.Cultivate doing good. It can be done. If it brought deprivation and sorrow, I would not ask you to do it. But since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: cultivate doing good.
-Anguttara Nikaya

Friday, September 28, 2007


So much for 'compassionate conservatism'.  Pres. Bush threatens a veto of a children's health insurance bill.  That wild liberal Orrin Hatch has vowed to vote to override the veto.
This threatened veto shows just how partisan this administration is.  He NEVER vetoed bills when it was a Republican Congress wasting money.  Now that the Democrats are in charge he pulls out the pen.
He will have plenty of opportunity to veto wasteful spending by the Democratic Congress.  A bill to provide healthe care to children is not the place to start.  A rich nation has a moral obligation to care for its children- who, after all, cannot possibly be held responsible for their poverty.  This is especially wrong after the President sent Sec. of Defense Gates to Congress to ask for more money (which would bring the total spending to over $700 billion by some estimates) for an immoral war.


U.S. to allow key detainees to request lawyers

14 terrorism suspects given legal forms at Guantanamo Bay
These are 14 "high value" detainees who were transferred from the (illegal?) secret CIA prisons to GITMO.
Finally a step towards living up to basic American principles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Even in the case of individuals, there is no possibility to feel happiness through anger. If in a difficult situation one becomes disturbed internally, overwhelmed by mental discomfort, then external things will not help at all. However, if despite external difficulties or problems, internally one's attitude is of love, warmth, and kindheartedness, then problems can be faced and accepted.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

If you speak or act
with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow
that never leaves.

-Dhammapada, 1

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

- Isaiah 32:17

Hate not hard to find


Monday, September 24, 2007

How do we learn to love our enemy? By seeing him as a brother who is tempted as we are, and attacked by the same real enemy which is the spirit of hatred and of "Antichrist." This same enemy seeks to destroy us both by pitting us against one another.
- Thomas Merton
from Passion For Peace

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cost of War

The $3,850 per second war and its victims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Assuming you read at average speed, by the time you get to the bottom of this column, the war in Iraq will have cost the United States another $760,000. More than $4 million of U.S. taxpayers' money ebbed away in the 18 minutes it took George W. Bush to explain to his country and the world last week why the war he ordered would last well beyond his presidency.

During an eight-hour working day, U.S. tax dollars spent in the battle zones of Iraq total $112 million. These figures are extrapolated from a report by the Congressional Research Service (CSR), a bipartisan agency which provides research and analysis for the U.S. Congress. It put the war's average cost in 2007 at around $10 billion a month.

That translates into $333 million a day, $14 million an hour, $231,000 a minute and $3,850 a second. Even for the world's richest country, this is serious money.

Read whole article here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

- 1 Corinthians 14:33-33

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let them direct to God the works that they do, because human work that is directed to God will shine in the heavens. For God created human beings and placed other creatures under them so that they might act on other creatures in such a way that God’s good works would not be destroyed.
-Hildegard of Bingen
[Emphasis added. GP]

Sacrifices of the few

This is a point I've been making repeatedly in my classroom. What are Americans in general sacrificing for the "war on terror" that they believe to be so important? My students immediately answer, "Nothing." Americans are not rationing and recycling as they did during WWII (in fact instead of rationing fuel as Americans did during WWII, Americans are whining about gas prices being too high). They are not willing to pay taxes to make sure that soldiers have the armor they deserve to protect themselves. People are not signing up for the armed forces (this especially says something about how important they thing the war in Iraq really is) in large numbers.

The people in the military are starting to clue in. They suffer, and the general public does nothing.

All those "Support our Troops" magnets you see on the back of cars- empty verbiage.

War's impact at home falls hard on relative few

Repeat deployments, extended tours add uncertainty to hardship of service

Their stories put a human face on stark statistics showing that the U.S. military — a small force by historical standards — is stretched thin after more than four years in Iraq and six in Afghanistan. Repeated deployments of active military members and reservists and diminishing "dwell times" between postings to the war zone have taxed soldiers and taken a growing toll on the home front.

"Families are truly exhausted," says Patricia Barron, who runs youth programs for the National Military Families Association. "They are starting to feel the stresses of separation more acutely."

Indeed, the whole approach to providing manpower for this conflict differs from that of the Vietnam War, from 1964-1975. Then, a much larger active military — 8.7 million troops — was bolstered by a draft that added 1.7 million more soldiers to the ranks, according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. More than 640,000 of the draftees served in Vietnam, constituting about one-quarter of the total U.S. force there, the VFW said.

But the draft ended in 1973, and the active military now numbers about 1.4 million, according to the Department of Defense.

In order to sustain troop levels in what has become a much more prolonged conflict than originally anticipated, the military has relied on repeated deployments, and a far heavier use of "weekend warriors." More than 434,000 National Guard and Reserve members have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, about one-quarter of them more than once, according to the Pentagon. In comparison, about 340,000 Guard and Reserve troops were deployed during the Vietnam conflict.

The suicide rate among soldiers hit a 26-year high in 2006, according to a Pentagon report released in August

The report said the numbers suggest a correlation between suicide and the number of days served in Iraq or Afghanistan, though failed personal relationships and legal and financial problems also were identified as factors.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wars arise from a failure to understand one another's humanness. Instead of summit meetings, why not have families meet for a picnic and get to know each other while the children play together?
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
 Very often people object that nonviolence seems to imply passive acceptance of injustice and evil and therefore that it is a kind of cooperation with evil. Not at all. The genuine concept of nonviolence implies not only active and effective resistance to evil but in fact a more effective resistance... But the resistance which is taught in the Gospel is aimed not at the evil-doer but at evil in its source.

- Thomas Merton
from Passion For Peace

Friday, September 14, 2007

Disconnected from reality

White House Press Sec. Tony Snow leaves office. He's been quoted as saying "When the money runs out..." he'd leave his post. According to one press report:

Snow, 52, announced his retirement from the position two weeks ago and finishes his tenure today. Though he continues to battle a recurrence of colon cancer, Snow has maintained that his resignation was not health-related. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family and hinted that the press secretary's $168,000 salary was too low...

Doesn't it break your heart? Snow can't get by on $168,000. Of couse the average salary in the US is less than $50,000.

Mr. President, if you're reading, I can get by on $168,000. But, of course I'd stand at the mic and tell the truth. I suppose you may consider that a liability.

Suppose Fox News is willing to throw a million plus at some ordinary Joes to save them from the money "running out"?

Doubt it. More likely they'll oppose any government policy that may help the common man, and save their charity for the six figure folks like Snow.

I'm sure Snow will be back at the "fair and balanced" network in no time. Replenishing his coffers with what passes for journalism at Faux News.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sad Story

Two U.S. soldiers whose signatures appeared on an op-ed piece in The New York Times critical of the war in Iraq were among seven Americans killed in a truck accident outside of Baghdad, family members said Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Yance Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora were members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Gray, Mora and five other soldiers died Monday when their truck overturned near the Iraqi capital, U.S. officials said.

Gray and Mora were among seven soldiers, mostly sergeants, who wrote the op-ed piece that appeared in the Times on August 19. It called the prospects of U.S. success "far-fetched" and said the progress being reported was being "offset by failures elsewhere."

"Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence," they wrote. "When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Global Warming Report

Climate change could have global security implications on a par with nuclear war unless urgent action is taken, a report said on Wednesday.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) security think-tank said global warming would hit crop yields and water availability everywhere, causing great human suffering and leading to regional strife.

Scientists say global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport.

The IISS report said the effects would cause a host of problems including rising sea levels, forced migration, freak storms, droughts, floods, extinctions, wildfires, disease epidemics, crop failures and famines.

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.
- Henry Ward Beecher
Don't just wish for peace. Work for it. 
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

One candidate's position

Democrat Barack Obama on Wednesday called for completing a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2008 and said if elected president he would start an effort to help Iraqis bridge sectarian differences,
I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now," the Illinois senator said in excerpts from a speech he was to deliver later in Iowa. The excerpts were released by his presidential campaign.

He said he would immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of 2008.

Obama said he would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq's leaders reach a new agreement on political reconciliation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Please look for an opportunity to help- through your church/religious intitution, or some non-governmental institution.

About 10 million people out of the 27 million population of Assam state have been affected by flooding after rains in the past few days. More than 2,000 villages have been completely submerged.

The second spell of flooding in less than a month has also spread across parts of Bangladesh, forcing around a million from their homes and leaving thousands stranded. About 850 people have died in floods there since late July.

About 3 million people in Assam are living in temporary shelters, government buildings and schools, officials said.

Around 1 million acres of farmland have been flooded.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
John 14:27

Friday, September 07, 2007

Still on the mend

The Pilgrim continues his recovery from hand surgery. Hence the paltry posting.

To every thing, there is a season.

I shall return.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.
- Matthew 23:23-23

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilites and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Monday, September 03, 2007

See what no eye can see , go where no foot can go , choose that which is no choice–then you may hear what makes no sound–God’s voice.
- Angelus Silsius

Sunday, September 02, 2007

He who for himself or others craves not for sons or power or wealth, who puts not his own success before the success of righteousness, he is virtuous, and righteous and wise.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Reading is the food, light, lamp, refuge, solace of the soul, the spice of all natural flavors. It feeds the hungry, gives light to the one sitting in darkness, offers bread to the one fleeing shipwreck or war, comforts the contrite heart.
- Peter of Celle

The Pilgrim post-surgery

The doctor say that my hand surgery went well. The recovery from hand surgery is slow, I am told. I was in a cast for a week, and am now in a splint that immobilizes the hand, and will be in that splint for 6 weeks or so.

The typing, I can say from experience is very slow as well. Thus very little blogging of late. I'm having enough trouble keeping up with my keyboarding at work, without adding work on the blog.

I expect all will be fine in its own time.

Until then I appreciate your patience.

Please take care of all with whom you come into contact. In doing so you help take care of the world.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

The most valuable learning is not about memorizing facts and figures. It is not about higher grade point averages and accumulating degrees. It is about life itself, and its impact is on the heart.
-Rodney Smith, "Lessons From the Dying"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bible Verse from my inbox

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, "Then who can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible."
- Matthew 19:23-26

This verse, for the longest time, made no sense to me. Who would ever give a thought to putting a camel through the eye of a needle?

Well, in the Bible used in the Eastern Orthodox tradition- the Peshitta- there is shown to be- or perhaps I should say alleged to be- a translation error that suggests perhaps the individuals who wrote the Greek Bible may have been working with at least some earlier text (perhaps portions of what scholars call Q) that was in Aramaic- the language of Jesus. Apparently the words 'camel' and 'rope' are almost indistinguishable, with a fine accent mark being the key difference.

Upon reading this, the saying made much more sense to me. Not only because of the elimination of a seemingly bizarre reference, but also in a more significant sense. If we thin down by reducing our attachment to material goods, to the material world, then we can bring ourselves closer to what God wants for us- entrance into his Kingdom, his Presence, through the eye of the needle. In reading other texts from the Eastern tradition (the Philokalia, for example), this point of moving away from our attachment to the material world- away from having material considerations drive our lives and towards a God-driven life- is given heavy emphasis as not just a theological concept, but as a way of living, as a practice. This thinning down can be difficult, but with our own perseverance and the help of God and our family in God we can do it.

A camel will never pass through the eye of a needle. But for us, as ropes of varying thickness, hope remains.

By the way: this is my first post after surgery. Typing with one hand takes FOREVER. So i don't expect to be very active here for a few weeks. Just odds and ends periodically. For some reason the issue above is close to my heart- although I may not be quite patient enough to make that clear as I hunt and peck at my keyboard- and I wanted to write a little something about it.
Until next time, whenever that may be,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pilgrim off-duty

Well, I'm going to be off for at least a few days. Hand surgery tomorrow to repair my previously mentioned injured digit.

Take care of the world for me while I'm away.


Wrong, Just Wrong

The video below is from

The caption says: "This video depicts the attitude that the body of Christ needs to embrace for these days that we are living." This is a very dangerous attitude and one that strikes me, quite frankly, as un-Christian.

The militaristic tone of this piece strikes me as no different from that which we, rightly, criticize when it comes from the Muslim world. Would we see a video such as this depicting Muslims with swords as simply depicting a metaphor for apostolic work? I do not think so. And I doubt many Muslims in the world seeing what is happening in Iraq would have a very favorable view of this video segment. To them it would smack of the imagery of the Crusades. It strikes me so as well.

No question, Jesus does say that he had come to bring a sword (Matt. 10:34). But the Peshitta Bible (Eastern Orthodox) has a footnote that puts this comment clearly in its proper context. "I have come to bring a sword" is an Aramaic (the language of Jesus) idiom meaning "divisions." Read chapter 10 of Matthew, this is clearly what Jesus means. His presence and his message will cause divisions among people (setting 'man against his father'). Jesus is not advocating violence or even aggressiveness at all.

Read Matthew 5: it is the humble, the meek, the peacemakers that Jesus said are blessed. Not the aggressive.

Read Matthew 26:52: When being arrested in the garden, Peter draws his sword and Jesus rebukes him, saying, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."

Jesus commands us to "love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to anyone who hates you, and pray for those who carry you away by force and persecute you." (Matt. 6:44)

Jesus bids us, "do not resist an evildoer" (Matt 5:39), he does not instruct us, as the caption for the video further says, "to be offensive."

The totality of Jesus message is the rejection of violence, thus my rejection of the attitude expressed in this video.

I believe it was Gandhi who once said that the only people who did not think Jesus was a pacifist were Christians. This video seems to provide evidence for that statement.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Colbert on Guliani

Funny "The Word" segment where Colbert takes on Guliani's Bush-like oversimplification of the struggle against terrorism in the world.

Colbert has apparently gotten a little to big for his britches, so a ordinary Pilgrim like me cannot put the video directly in my site. So, you'll need to go here to view it. It's definitely worth all the trouble it takes to click on your mouse.

Support our Troops- Except when it really counts

The slogan "support our troops" has become merely a piece of propaganda for the political right- used to try and slap down any criticism of the war. It is not, I repeat NOT, a meaningful statement of a political agenda. If it were a meaningful statement, we would not have had the scandal at Walter Reed Hospital- and the subsequent gag order to prevent further controversy. We also would not have the military violating its own policies in regards to how long to keep men in the field, and the subsequent denial of what many military experts now routinely say- that our military is stretched too thin. And we would not have turned our military personnel in to mechanisms of torture at GITMO and elsewhere in the world.

And we certainly would not have the blatant disregard of the mental health issues raised by the war in Iraq, especially given recent reports of high level of Iraq troop suicides [There were 99 confirmed Army suicides in 2006 (2 additional deaths are pending investigations),up from 88 in 2005 and the highest since 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. The rate of suicides grew in 5 years from a low of 9.1 per 100,000 soldiers in 2001 to the 2006 rate of 19.4 per 100,000. (The suicide rate for the general population is 11 per 100,000.)].

The CS Monitor details one example of the lack of support our troops, and their families, receive from the our government.

Those of us who believe it is time to pull our troops our of this ineffective, self-defeating, and, ultimately, immoral war, should never stand for having this slogan thrown in our faces again. It is time for the political right to recognize that from the moment they decided to sacrifice our troops to their neo-con mythology and political objectives, they lost any moral traction with this slogan. Supporting our troops now means extracting them from this untenable situation, and saving them from those politicians who would continue to use them- at a price far too high.

Treating the trauma of war – fairly
In relabeling cases of PTSD as 'personality disorder,' the US military avoids paying for treatment.

The high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among soldiers returning from Iraq is one of the many "inconvenient truths" of this war. Inconvenient largely because it is costly: The most effective and humane means of treating PTSD are time-intensive and long-term.

The military, however, has changed the terms and given many thousands of enlisted men and women a new diagnosis: "personality disorder." While the government would be obliged to care for veterans suffering from combat-related trauma, a personality disorder – defined as an ingrained, maladaptive way of orienting oneself to the world – predates a soldier's tour of duty (read: preexisting condition). This absolves Uncle Sam of any responsibility for the person's mental suffering.

The new diagnostic label sends the message: This suffering is your fault, not a result of the war. On one level, it's hard not to see this as another example of the government falling short on its care for Iraq war veterans. Yet there's another, more insidious, bit of sophistry at work. The implication is that a healthy person would be resistant to the psychological pressures of war. Someone who succumbs to the flashbacks, panic, and anger that haunt many former soldiers must have something inherently wrong with him. It's the psychological side of warrior macho: If you're tough, you can take it. Of course, we know this is not true. Wars forever change the lives of those who fight them and can leave deep scars.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another prediction

In 1996, Brent Scowcroft predicted that invading Iraq would be a likely "failure." When combined with the video clip below of Cheney making the same sort of prediction, it makes a pretty clear case for the current situation in Iraq being an entirely foreseeable circumstance.

What's good for the goose...

There's plenty of truth in this cartoon. How would Republicans act if a Democratic President had acted in blatant disregard of the Constitution as Bush has? Let's hope we don't find out with whomever is the next President using Bush's actions as precedent.

Friday, August 17, 2007

If only Vice President Cheney had listened to...

Defense Secretary Cheney. He gives a perfect rationale for not invading Iraq. Listen to what he had to say in 1994. A quagmire he said it would be. A quagmire it is.

Bill Kristol on Daily Show

The wisest thing he said is, "... don't trust me..."

He says things are getting better. Check this post from just a couple of days ago. Then you can see that you can't trust him.

Also, as Stewart points out, he's been repeatedly and spectacularly wrong on the war in Iraq. He doesn't deserve our trust- or his seat at Time Magazine, for that matter.

It's official

The Pilgrim's injured digit requires surgery. The procedure will be done next week.

Posting has been slow enough. Looks to get slower for a time.

Thanks to those of you who stay with me and visit the site from time to time.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yesterday's News Today

I see that both CNN and MSNBC (the actual TV version, Olbermann goes off here, couldn't find a CNN link) pick up on the story that I posted about yesterday in the LA Times that the White House, not the General, will give us the "report" in September about how things are going in Iraq.

Even that was in the second page of the LA Times article online.

See! I'm not crazy. It is important that the "Petraeus Report" won't be the "Petraeus Report," but instead another piece of White House spin and justification.

Well, at least I wasn't crazy this time.

Take another look at my post. Piece from Countdown below- in two segments.

Indictment of Torture

Padilla convicted on terrorism support charges reports MSNBC.

Terrorism support? Weren't we told that he planned to use a dirty bomb in the US, or perhaps blow up apartment buildings by causing natural gas leaks? Why wasn't he charged for those crimes?

Because of the Bush administration's torture policies, that's why. There is no way a court would have let them use the evidence they obtained- much of it from Padilla himself- while denying him, a US citizen, of his civil rights and holding him at a military detention center and treating him horribly.

At its root, US treatment of Padilla shows the inclination to do anything to break the silence of a suspected terrorist, even it means violating such basic citizen rights as protection against self-incrimination and harsh interrogation, as well as the right to a trial.

In short, the US military used terror – Padilla had little or no human contact for more than three years – to fight terror. Many mental health experts say his severe seclusion in a Navy brig impaired his thinking. A judge confirmed the disability but let the case continue, refusing to probe the government's hand in altering Padilla's ability to defend himself.

This last point is key, because it means that the current conviction may not even withstand judicial scrutiny on appeal. A panel of judges may throw out the conviction, and force a retrial in which Padilla gets to challenge the manner in which he was interrogated and detained (such as the use of sensory deprivation as shown below). As a US citizen, a reversal of the conviction is a real possibility.

And that one way that torture weakens- not enhances- our security. Our security is enhanced by bringing those who would harm us to justice. We cannot do this if we engage in torture, because that will render evidence obtained inadmissable in courts. It undermines the validity of any criminal- civilian or military- process, and it will result, inevitably, in some very bad people eventually being turned loose. Are we going to hold the people at GITMO forever?

Americans must get past their anger at terror suspects. They must seek justice. This can only be done by respecting the rule of law, and the Constitution, and by taking the high road, not resorting to torture, and, as the CS Monitor points out, the very thing we are working against- terror.
I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child--our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
-Thich Nhat Hanh, "Miracle of Mindfulness"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Wait until September."

This is what the Administration and its supporters keep telling us. Why? Because in September Gen. Petraeus will give us a report on the situation on the ground in Iraq.

A clear-eyed report from a top general reflecting military progress, right?

Maybe not...

From the LA Times (with the Pilgrim's emphasis added):

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government. And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.

Given the honesty of the Administration, so far... no, wait.

Since the Administration has a reputation for accurate descriptions of military intelligence... not right, either.

Because of the capacities for self-criticism displayed by the Bush team... wrong again.

Let's face it, we won't get the truth.

The ball's in your court, congressional Democrats. What will you do?

Continued Failure in Iraq

And the Iraqis pay the highest price.

Iraqi officials: Truck bombings killed at least 500

The bombings highlight the kind of sectarian tensions the troop surge was designed to stop.

And the surge has failed to stop these bombings. At what point to we admit failure and begin to try and find a way out of Iraq? Why stay to provide security when we are, in fact, not providing security?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wandering again

Another mini-vacation for the Pilgrim and family.

May blessings be with you.

Pray for the miners and their families.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hate Church Victimizes Minnesota

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., plans to stage protests at funerals of victims of the 35W bridge collapse to state that God made the bridge fall because he hates America, and especially Minnesota, because of its tolerance of homosexuality.

In a press release issued the day after the bridge collapse, the church called for protests at the funerals and outlined its feelings about the relationship between God's plan and the sins of Minneapolis and Minnesota, which it calls the "land of the Sodomite damned."

Reached at the church, Shirley Phelps Roper, who is both the daughter of the pastor and one of the attorneys for the church, said that America, and Minnesota especially, have alienated God by its tolerance for homosexuality, and that the bridge collapse was an act of God's vengeance. She said: "The bridge stood in place by the word of God and it fell by the word of God...Each of these little events is just a harbinger of the coming destruction of this American experiment. We are delivering the final call of the doomed nation."

The signs that the protesters will wave will read: "God cast down the bridge... Thank God for 9/11... America is doomed... God hates fags... God hates fag enablers... God hates Minnesota."


Funny satirical commentary on our President's willingness to use fearmongering to get what he wants.

Perhaps not so funny since the Democrats caved in and gave the President his constitutionally challenged wiretapping legislation.

Lest we forget...

I have not provided this sort of a post in quite some time, but it would be good for us to remember the situation on the ground in Iraq, the danger it poses, directly, to our troops there, and the danger it poses, indirectly, to us here in the US due to the instability the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq has wrought.

26 U.S. Troops Killed In 1 Week In Iraq
Military Announces 4 More Deaths Around Baghdad

The deaths raised to at least 3,678 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. August has begun with a wave of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq, on the heels of a relatively low death toll in July, which was cited by commanders as an indication that that the build-up of American troops in and around Baghdad was reducing violence. The military reported Monday that four U.S. soldiers had died from wounds suffered in a combat explosion in Diyala province north of Baghdad earlier that day. Twelve others had minor injuries and returned to duty.

4 more GIs killed Tuesday

Roadside bombs killed four U.S. soldiers in and around Baghdad, the military said Tuesday as the Iraqi authorities announced a curfew lasting from Wednesday to Saturday to coincide with a major Shiite pilgrimage to the capital.
Three of the Americans were killed in an attack involving several explosions on a road south of Baghdad on Saturday. Witnesses said the blasts wounded several other soldiers and destroyed at least one armored vehicle.

The military said a fourth U.S. soldier died and one was wounded when an armor-piercing bomb exploded near their vehicle in western Baghdad.

The deaths come one day after a huge bomb in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, killed four Americans and wounded 11...

Security developments in Iraq 07 Aug 2007
* BAGHDAD - Sixteen bodies were found in various districts of Baghdad in the past 24 hours, police said.
*SAMARRA - Three women and two children were killed when several mortar rounds hit a residential area in central Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Two other children were wounded.
* MAHMUDIYA - Two pedestrians were killed and six others wounded when gunmen opened fire in Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
BASRA - A British soldier was killed as a result of small arms fire during an operation in Basra on Monday night, the British Defence Ministry said in a statement.
NEAR BAQUBA - Five insurgents were killed by a U.S. air strike and 10 detained in a three-day joint Iraqi-U.S. military operation beginning on Saturday in a village near Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army killed one insurgent and arrested 93 during the past 24 hours in various districts of Baghdad, the Defence Ministry said.
BAGHDAD - Four people were killed and six wounded by a mortar strike in the Kamaliya neighbourhood of eastern Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD - Three U.S. soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb hit their convoy south of Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
BAGHDAD - One U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded on Monday when an armour-piercing bomb detonated, hitting their vehicle during combat operations in a western section of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.
MUSSAYAB - U.S. forces said they captured a suspected leader of the Mehdi army militia loyal to the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Sunday in the town of Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad. They also detained five suspected members of his cell.
DIYALA - Four U.S. soldiers died on Monday in an explosion while on combat duty in Diyala province, the U.S. military said on Monday.
HILLA - Three policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in the city of Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
BASRA - British forces killed one insurgent when they were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons as they were conducting a search raid in Basra, 550 km (340 miles) south of Baghdad, British forces said.