March 17th, 2006

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Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

The sky is blue, not green, blue with pink clouds, though maybe with the yellow of the sun, I can imagine it green to go with the leaves and the shamrocks!!

I read about St. Patrick's Day. It is actually a religous holiday. Well, spirits are spiritual, I suppose. It is a day to think about spiritual renewal and pray for missionaries. Hmmmm! Well, I can do that. It certainly feels like a special day. The holiday spirit is in the air.

Almost all businesses are closed today in Ireland except for restaurants and pubs, so, if you were there, you would go to mass, and pray, and celebrate. And here, well, in our usual way, the parade in San Francisco was last Sunday, and I am sure the bars are well-stocked today, too.

I offer a poem by Charles Simic that has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day, or maybe it does.

    Time - the lizard in the sunlight.  It doesn't
move, but its eyes are wide open. They love to gaze
into our faces and hearken to our discourse.

It's because the very first men were lizards.  If
you don't believe me, go grab one by the tail and
see it come right off.  

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Happy Shamrocks to YOU!!

Check out google today.  It is covered in shamrocks.

And from comes the word history of leprechaun, which I know you were just dying to know, and now, you do, and so living comes easily to you.

Word History: Nothing seems more Irish than the leprechaun; yet hiding within the word leprechaun is a word from another language entirely. If we look back beyond Modern Irish Gaelic luprachán and Middle Irish luchrupán to Old Irish luchorpán, we can see the connection. Luchorpán is a compound of Old Irish lú, meaning “small,” and the Old Irish word corp, “body.” Corp is borrowed from Latin corpus (which we know from habeas corpus). Here is a piece of evidence attesting to the deep influence of Church Latin on the Irish language. Although the word is old in Irish it is fairly new in English, being first recorded in 1604.


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Morning Flow!

 St. Patrick’s Day


See through green colored glasses today,
        the renewal of spring,
                    as light
milks your gaze
                    in churning butter
                            to rings.    



Leprechauns dance in the sky,
    swirl laughter like ribbons
        through you and all eyes.
            Now write on clouds
            with porcupine spines
                 the needles of Zen
                   bound simply
                      to round.  




I feel frisky today
like a leprechaun
riding the back of a rabbit
in a rodeo
clothed in clover
as shamrocks
     rain down
and are tossed back up
            like hats.
     Up and down
           I float
                 bucking  broncos inside.



The world of the leprechaun
is green, Irish green.
He lives beneath the leaves
and dances with the clouds
and uses a mushroom round
for an umbrella
when the sky
is falling down.



Can I get away from leprechauns
for the remainder of this day?
Now, “When Irish eyes are smiling,”
Lilts, like clover, in my brain.

I’m caught on the curve of a shamrock.
Is there no escape?
It seems not.
I hammock in the sound.


            When Irish eyes are smiling,
            Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
            In the lilt of Irish laughter
            You can hear the angels sing.
            When Irish hearts are happy,
            All the world seems bright and gay.
            And when Irish eyes are smiling,
            Sure, they steal your heart away.



I feel so fine today, so fine,
as though nothing has ever been wrong.
I remember when I had the biopsy,
I thought there can’t be anything wrong.
I felt too well.
And, today, I feel well, too, and I don’t believe there is anything wrong.
I don’t believe I have any Irish in me,
but who knows.
My eyes are smiling,
and I think the smile
is what steals the heart away.
May your smile be stealing hearts today,
and may there be so many hearts stolen,
and retrieved that the passing of hearts,
is a movement tidal as the sea,
global, as song.


Jane and I talk today.  Our focus has been around me, but I feel fine, so our writing may change.  I still have many medical appointments and 33 times of radiation, but I feel a huge shift in my being,  a coming back to life.  I am amazed to feel so good.  I live today in a harvest of tears.  Thank you!!   There truly is life after death, renewal and change. 


I thought you might want the whole Irish eyes song so you can sing it all day long  to the delight of your friends and co-workers.

Here it is!   Happy St. Patrick's Day.  I hope you are wearing Green!


There's a tear in your eye,
And I'm wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such pow'r in your smile,
Sure a stone you'd beguile,
So there's never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter's
Like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;
You should laugh all the while
And all other times smile,
And now, smile a smile for me.

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

For your smile is a part
Of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet's sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter and light.
For the springtime of life
Is the sweetest of all
There is ne'er a real care or regret;
And while springtime is ours
Throughout all of youth's hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.



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Jane's Poem to the Green!!

Everything that¹s green calls out to me today.

The old dog¹s house opens its roof to sky.

Slung between trees, the hammock waits for sun.

Lavender, rosemary, sage spill along the wall.

Look, they say, as small as we are

We are here and here and here.

Come to us.

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rising -

As I sit here now, I feel the words of Dylan Thomas describe what I feel:

"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age;"

The poem goes on, but I will stay with those words like a caterpillar on the edge of a leaf reaching out with front feet into the air. I feel myself rising, just rising, like sap. I had not realized how slumped I had become, how protected. I reach out now with my eyes, and see texture, depth, dimension. My feet receive the floor, and are received. My spine begins to stretch, my head to rise, my disks to rise out of their sponge.

I had not really understood what they meant about chemo, about the dying and coming back, but I think today I do, and I can trust it this time. There is no more chemo for me, no more attempting to be hearty, no more falseness in trying to greet the infusion room with a joke and a smile. I settle into the green of this day. I could be in Ireland it is so green, and the sky is again clouded over. I am okay'd to live with the leprechauns. I have been given a pot of gold. I give thanks for that, and thanks for you, too.
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A Dylan Thomas Poem!

  Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
  Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

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An Irish Poet for today!

  That the Science of Cartography is Limited
  -and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses
is what I wish to prove.

When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.

Look down you said: this was once a famine road.

I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in

1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.

Where they died, there the road ended
and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of

the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon

will not be there.

Eavan Boland

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like a newborn -

I feel myself looking at the world with huge eyes. All is so new, and now, again, the sun lifts the leaves. This Irish day is so perfect for seeing with new eyes and soul.
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Editorial in the NY Times today!

Time for Facts, Not Resolutions

Published: March 17, 2006

We understand the frustration that led Senator Russell Feingold to introduce a measure that would censure President Bush for authorizing warrantless spying on Americans. It's galling to watch from the outside as the Republicans and most Democrats refuse time and again to hold Mr. Bush accountable for the lawlessness and incompetence of his administration. Actually sitting among that cowardly crew must be maddening.

Still, the censure proposal is a bad idea. Members of Congress don't need to take extraordinary measures like that now. They need to fulfill their sworn duty to investigate the executive branch's misdeeds and failings. Talk about censure will only distract the public from the failure of their elected representatives to earn their paychecks.

We'd be applauding Mr. Feingold if he'd proposed creating a bipartisan panel to determine whether the domestic spying operation that Mr. Bush has acknowledged violates the 1978 surveillance law, as it certainly seems to do. The Senate should also force the disclosure of any other spying Mr. Bush is conducting outside the law. (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has strongly hinted that is happening.)

The Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees should do this, but we can't expect a real effort from Senator Pat Roberts, the Intelligence Committee chairman, or Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. They're too busy trying to give legal cover to the president's trampling on the law and the Constitution.

When the Republicans try to block an investigation, as they surely will, Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, should not be afraid to highlight that fact by shutting down the Senate's public business, as he did last year. This time, though, Mr. Reid needs to follow up. The first time Mr. Reid forced the Senate into a closed session, Mr. Roberts said he would keep his promise about an investigation into the hyping of intelligence on Iraq. But Mr. Roberts continues to sit on that report.

The nation needs to know a great deal more about the domestic spying. How many people's calls and e-mail were tapped? How were they chosen? Was Mr. Bush planning to do this until the war on terror ended — that is, forever? The public should be asking why members of Congress are afraid to make those important and legitimate queries.

With so much still unknown about the domestic spying, the censure resolution merely allows the Republicans to change the subject to fairy tales about Democratic leaders' trying to impeach Mr. Bush. They are also painting criticism of Mr. Bush as unpatriotic. That's tedious nonsense, but watching Mr. Feingold's Democratic colleagues run for cover shows how effective it is.
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Jon Carroll today -

I see a slew of columns today on this subject, and it is hard to choose just one, and maybe another will appear, but, for now, here is Jon, who appears to be reasonably reasoned on the subject.


Friday, March 17, 2006

President Bush is on the road again, this time with a new dog and pony show about Iraq and Iran. According to David Sanger of the New York Times, when the president whistle-stopped around to friendly venues in December explaining his strategy for victory, his dropping poll numbers stopped dropping -- for about a month. Then they resumed their slide down that well-known slippery slope.

(A slippery slope differs from, say, a rocky slope in that a slippery slope is a lot harder to climb back up. Not that the president seems to be in any mood to reverse course -- everyone believes him when he says he's going to "stay the course." Staying the course on a slippery slope is easy -- it's what's at the bottom of the slope that's the problem.)

"We expect the enemy will try again and they will continue to sow violence and destruction designed to stop the emergence of a free and democratic Iraq." Again, I believe him. I think "the enemy" (which may have a lot in common with "the friend" or "the acquaintance" or "the people in the village you guys bombed three years ago") will continue to slaughter people and disrupt orderly government and generally carry on in the appalling jihadist way -- which, come to think of it, is a little like the appalling American way, except that we use NIEDs (non-improvised exploding devices). So the president's vision is us killing them and them killing us until someone gets tired.

This is in contrast to Vice President Cheney's remark 10 months ago that "they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." Gosh, if they can throe that well, there's a place for them in the outfield of the Chicago Cubs.

But this boilerplate cheerfulness about the war was not the real reason for the speech. Nope, having so clearly gotten that Iraq thing under control, Bush is now lashing out at our new worst enemy, Iran. Today: Iran and IEDs. "Some of the most powerful IEDs we are seeing in Iraq include components that came from Iran. Coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran."

Does anyone believe him? Seriously, do even the people who support him because of his stands on abortion and gay marriage, people who cheer him because of his Supreme Court appointments -- do they believe him? I have no idea whether what he's saying is true, and I have a suspicion that he has no idea whether what he's saying is true. The takeaway message -- IRAN BAD -- is all he cares about, and the people around him have turned the White House into a giant disinformation machine.

This situation is even getting to conservatives, because they at least did not expect to be lied to. Sure, George, say what you need to get elected, but we know, wink wink. Except no one knows; there may not even be anything to know. A person could drive himself crazy reading expert opinions about the plans and preoccupations of the Iranian government -- I've been trying; I'm crazy -- and if scholars who've spent their careers concentrating on Iran differ, what chance is there that the White House knows what's going on -- or would tell us, come to that?

Here's what I'm sure of: No one actually wants nuclear war. Iran has long been a country that says what it needs to say in public, and does what it needs to do in private. It is an oppressive regime, and yet it tolerates all sorts of un-Islamic behaviors as long as they happen behind closed doors. The citizens of Iran are not cut off from the international information flux the way, say, the citizens of China are. There are deals to be cut. Do you have any confidence that the Bush administration employs wily, sophisticated diplomats? Me neither.

Not that I think Iran getting nuclear capability would be a good thing. The more bombs there are, the more danger we are all in. But Iran feels threatened, quite possibly because we are threatening it. Its sworn enemy Israel has the bomb. Russia, to its immediate north, has the bomb. The United States has more bombs than anyone. If this were a big game of Risk -- and it is -- who would you say was in the most danger, the country with 8 gazillion bombs and an equal number of delivery systems, or the country that has yet to make its first one?

Meanwhile ... there is no end to that sentence. Meanwhile.

We have hard evidence that Iran is developing sophisticated -- what? We just know, that's all. We have reports. People tell us things. We listen in. We're the government.
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Ode Magazine!!

The April Ode is out. I again encourage you to subscribe. You can check them out at

The magazine uplifts, and, offers a wonderful opportunity. For example we need more books for children. Yay!!

Here is a tid-bit of news from Ode.

Harry Potter makes the world safe.

Although Harry Potter and his pals face many perilous situations, the novels chronicling his adventures make the rest of the world safer. British researchers examined the number of visitors to an emergency room in Oxford and discovered a mysterious pattern: During the weekends when the last two books in the Harry Potter series were released, the number of young visitors to the ER fell significantly. Apparently, J.K. Rowling’s novels are so popular immediately after they hit the bookstores that fans stay inside to read and thus avoid accidents.
The idea for the study came when one hospital staffer had a quiet weekend shift and arrived home to find his three children sitting on the sofa glued to the latest instalment of Harry Potter’s adventures. In a charming contribution to the British Medical Journal (December 24, 2005), author Stephen Gwilym sees potential for a whole new literary movement. “It may therefore be hypothesized,” he writes, “that there is a place for a committee of safety-conscious, talented writers who could produce high-quality books for the purpose of injury prevention.”

Plus, MTV is offering "Spiritual Windows" throughout the day. Who says the world can't change?
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Okay! One more!

I read the article on Bush and his rug. Here is what William Rivers Pitt has to say about that.

 Deranged, Disconnected, and Dangerous
    By William Rivers Pitt
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    Friday 17 March 2006

    There was an article in the Washington Post ten days ago that, was, in no uncertain terms, the most frightening and disturbing report I have seen in months. It wasn't about mass casualties in Iraq, or about a looming civil war there, or about terrorism, or the bursting budget, or spying on Americans. It was about a rug.

    "Nothing says power like the Oval Office," begins the article. "The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts. And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does. For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents. Turns out, he always says, the first decision any president makes is what carpet he wants in his office. As a take-charge leader, he then explains, he of course made a command decision - he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design."

    The article goes on to describe, in writhing detail, how George W. Bush inserts the Oval Office rug into virtually every conversation he has. If a discussion veers away into matters of import, Bush steers it back to the rug. "He loves his rug," said Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director, in the Post article. "I've heard him describe it countless times."

    The article, to be sure, was meant to be lighthearted. It left me, however, in a state of deep disturbance. All he can talk about is his rug? With everything that is going on these days, he wants to focus on the rug. Dead soldiers? Rug. Civil war? Rug. Complete and total failure? Complete and total rug.

    The man is deranged, disconnected, dangerous. It appears, finally, that a significant portion of the country now sees this clearly. Only 33% of Americans, according to the latest Pew poll, approve of Mr. Bush and the job he is doing.

    Hey, it only took five years. It has suddenly become all the rage to jump all over this administration. Pundits from every corner, including more than a few conservatives, are apparently waking up to the fact that they stapled themselves to Casey Jones's train. Hell, even right-wing avatar Peggy Noonan is saying that if she knew then what she knew now, she wouldn't have voted for Bush. Here's the kicker, though, and a good explanation for that lingering 33% support: Noonan says she wouldn't vote for Bush because he is actually a liberal. The blind leading the blind has become the deranged following the deranged. Go figure.

    Speaking of deranged, and of the 33-percenters, let me show you something. This was put together by one of the administrators of the web forum DemocraticUnderground, who noticed that news reports out of Iraq seem to continuously use the phrase "a recent surge of violence" to describe what is happening there. Feast:


    Middle East Online, September 3, 2003: "Meanwhile, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac were to meet in Germany on Thursday to discuss ways for the West to respond to the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the Middle East."

    UK Telegraph, October 31, 2003: "Ansar is believed to be channeling into Iraq the foreign fighters who are behind a recent surge in violence in the country, officials say."

    KNI News, November 3, 2003: "Bush blamed loyalists to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists for the recent surge in violence in Iraq."


    Reuters, March 4, 2004: "A wave of bomb attacks in Baghdad and Karbala killing at least 171 people earlier this week has highlighted the difficulties in rebuilding the country and restoring peace. But Mr. Blair, speaking after a meeting in Rome with his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, said the recent surge in violence in Iraq did not constitute civil war."

    Radio Free Europe, April 14, 2004: "US President George W. Bush held a major news conference at the White House on 13 April in the middle of the deadliest month for Americans in Iraq since Baghdad fell a year ago. He spoke of the recent surge in violence there, but urged his countrymen not to lose faith. He also said he would adhere to the 30 June deadline for handing over sovereignty to Iraqis."

    US State Department, April 15, 2004: "Pace said the recent surge in violence in Iraq is being driven by 'terrorists' who see the June 30 deadline for turnover of sovereignty approaching rapidly and are petrified by the promise of democracy."

    CBS News, April 26, 2004: "Lt. Gen. David Barno, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said Monday that the military has seen a recent surge in violence, but that most attacks were directed against soft targets, such as civilians or isolated Afghan security outposts."

    Pew Research Center, May 12, 2004: "Despite the prison abuse scandal and the recent surge in violence in Iraq, a majority of the public (53%) continues to support keeping troops in Iraq until a stable government is established."

    China Daily, May 25, 2004: "In his speech to the Army War College here, Bush warned that 'there are difficult days ahead and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic.' Yet he vowed the handover would take place on schedule and that the US-led coalition would not be defeated by insurgents blamed for the recent surge in violence."

    The New Standard, June 24, 2004: "Compelled by the recent surge in violence, US Central Command (CentCom) has informally asked Army planners for as many as 25,000 more troops in Iraq, the Baltimore Sun reports."

    The Washington Post, July 22, 2004: "Despite a recent surge in violence, including kidnappings, car bombings and assassinations, senior US and Iraqi officials gave a relatively optimistic assessment on Wednesday of the security situation in Iraq since the transfer of political authority from US to Iraqi authorities June 28."

    Progress Magazine, July/August, 2004: "In the short term, ongoing help will be required with the maintenance of security within the country. The response to the recent surge in violence must emphasize political solutions and not be just a simple deployment of military power."

    The Washington Post, September 9, 2004: "'The recent surge in violence has been especially surprising because in the weeks after the transfer of power there was a phase that, for Iraq, felt to some almost like a lull.'"

    Al Jazeera, September 17, 2004: "The assessments, made before the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the US military death toll there topping 1000, appear to conflict with Bush's upbeat description of the US-led effort to stabilize and democratize Iraq."

    The Washington Times, September 22, 2004: "The Iraqi leader also said that despite a recent surge in violence in Iraq, it is 'very important for the people of the world really to know that we are winning, we are making progress in Iraq, we are defeating terrorists.'"

    Al Jazeera, December 18, 2004: "Mosul has experienced a recent surge in violence. On Friday, a car carrying Turkish security guards was attacked in the city, in Iraq's far north near the Turkish border, and four people were killed, one of them decapitated."


    Radio Free Europe, January 4, 2005: "The incident marks the most senior assassination since the death in May of Governing Council president Abd al-Zahra Uthman Muhammad and should be seen within the context of the recent surge in violence ahead of national and provincial elections slated for 30 January."

    CBS Chicago, January 17, 2005: "The area around Kut has seen a recent surge in violence. In a separate attack, two Iraqi provincial government auditors were shot to death late Sunday after armed gunmen stopped their car in Suwaira, about 25 miles southeast of Baghdad, an official at a Kut hospital said."

    ABC News, March 2, 2005: "Most of the victims were Shiites, the targets of a recent surge in violence, most notably a series of suicide bombings and other attacks that killed nearly 100 people during the Shiite religious commemoration known as Ashoura."

    The BBC, April 27, 2005: "But he added it was too early to say if a recent surge in violence amounted to a concerted campaign, and insisted that US-backed forces were 'winning.'"

    The International Herald-Tribune, May 16, 2005: "The insurgents' choice of adversary is unusual. But the recent surge in violence, at least, follows a time-tested pattern."

    The Washington Post, May 19, 2005: "A senior US military official told reporters Wednesday that the recent surge in violence in Iraq followed a meeting in Syria last month of associates of the Jordanian insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi."

    The Council on Foreign Relations, May 20, 2005: "It's unclear how much of the recent surge in violence stems from tribal leaders, but as Metz points out: 'Local elites recognize that in a secular, modernized Iraq, their power would be challenged.'"

    Salon, May 23, 2005: "Even despite the recent surge in violence, in some areas - downtown Mosul, for example - Iraqi forces have begun limited independent operations."

    Associated Press, June 17, 2005: "It is also believed to be the main hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose al Qaeda-linked group has carried out many of the deadliest attacks in Iraq and who US forces believe is behind a recent surge in violence."

    White House press conference, June 20, 2005: "Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary? And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?"

    Iran Focus Online, August 4, 2005: "His comments came as the 15-nation council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution condemning a recent surge in violence in Iraq that has killed hundreds ..."

    Radio Free Europe, August 12, 2005: "But a recent surge in violence and reports of growing public hostility to the Japanese presence are prompting many to question the prospects for continued humanitarian assistance there."

    Associated Press, September 17, 2005: "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has reportedly said the recent surge in violence is in retaliation for a coalition offensive against the group's stronghold in the northern city of Tal Afar."

    The Washington Times, October 31, 2005: "The fresh US effort to crack down on insurgents followed a recent surge in violence caused by the passing of the new Iraqi constitution in a referendum held earlier this month."


    Agence France Presse, January 7, 2006: "US officials have sought to downplay a recent surge in violence that on Thursday alone claimed the lives of more than 115 Iraqis and 11 US servicemen."

    The Sidney Morning Herald, January 8, 2006: "The recent surge in violence is "an anomaly" and Iraq is not on the verge of civil war, the top US commander there said yesterday, after one of the country's bloodiest days since the fall of Saddam Hussein."

    The American Chronicle, February 1, 2006: "Recently, five other members of Congress and I sat on a C-130 transport plane surrounded by soldiers going from Kuwait to Baghdad. The backdrop is a recent surge in violence."

    The Associated Press, February 4, 2006: "Dozens of bodies have been discovered in various parts of Baghdad gagged, bound and shot repeatedly in the past week, amid recent surge in violence, which analysts have repeatedly described as initial stages of an open-ended civil war between Iraq's ethnic groups."

    Associated Press, March 1, 2006: "AP reports that he was giving an unusually frank assessment of the stakes in the country's recent surge in violence."

    The Baltimore Sun, March 4, 2006: "The top US commander in Iraq said yesterday that he hopes to make an assessment this spring about whether to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq. But Pentagon officials speaking anonymously said a recent surge in violence there has dampened hopes that force levels can be cut anytime soon."

    Associated Press, March 6, 2006: "The training at the desert village is especially important for the Marines of the First Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. The battalion, made up mostly of Marine reservists, is leaving soon for Iraq, where sectarian tensions have brought a recent surge in violence - and growing concerns about civil war."

    Reuters, March 10, 2006: "Iraqi forces, not American troops, would deal with a civil war if one erupts in Iraq and US troop cuts remained possible despite a recent surge in violence, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday."

    Al Jazeera, March 11, 2006: "Moving to the recent surge in violence that has swept Iraq, Ritter said he wasn't surprised as the only thing holding the three infighting ethnic and religious groups (Kurds, Shia, and Sunnis) together since the end of the Ottoman Empire after World War I was Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist Party."

    The New York Times, March 13, 2006: "Despite the recent surge in violence in Iraq, Mr. Reid said he believed that civil war was "neither imminent nor inevitable." He said Iraqi security forces now numbered around 235,000, with 5,000 more volunteering to join every month."

    There you have it, folks. There isn't anything to worry about in Iraq. It has only been a "recent surge of violence" we have been hearing about ... every week for the last three years since this whole catastrophe was first undertaken. Have no fear, though. As Army General George Casey states in the January 8, 2006, article above, "This level of violence, I think as we've seen, is an anomaly." George can keep right on admiring his rug.

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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another poem by Li-Young Lee -

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.

I can't remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy's palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife's right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he's given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

-- Li-Young Lee, ©1986. Reproduced from Rose with the kind permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.