September 25th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

Jane and I are both feeling a bit frazzled this morning as to the book.   We need a huge block of time, and the morning snatches are not now enough.  I am struggling to connect with my lovely still point that was so softly expanding.   The fashion show is a bombardment for me, and I am trying, this morning, to come back to the writing space, the place of prayer.  What Jane and I have come to see is that with the poetry, and the time and space we gave ourselves for it, we were touching the place of presence, meditation, prayer, and now, we need to use another part of our minds to gather it together and analyze it and we miss our morning place of peace.  

Our sense now is that courage is also that place of presence, so perhaps we need the courage to give ourselves again that luxurious place of presence where time expands.   Perhaps this week I am feeling a bit grabby around time.  It seems there isn't enough of it, and yet, I know if I could let go and relax, there would be more than enough.   I am perhaps more tightly wound this week, and yet, one huge change I am delighted to notice is that  I don't seem to get upset.  There is a lot of mumbling and grumbling at the rehearsals, and I notice it all, and I am aware of what is going on, and all the different egos and personalities, and I am not affected.  I am there, and I am observing.  I am a place of peace.   That feels good to me, and, as I write this, I realize I can feel that place of peace now.  I speak, and it is here.   I speak it into existence.   Ah, "In the beginning was the word."   I just need to give myself a wee bit of time, instead of hammering myself with all there is to do.   I am peace.   Ahhhhhh!

One thing Jane and I hope to get across is that poetry is life, and it is not removed from life.   Poetry has a bad rap, because of how we were taught it in school, and, yes, there is poetry that is written for other poets, and that is great, but we would love to open each of you to reaching for that poetry churning and chewing within. 

I was reading George Leonard's book, The Silent Pulse, last night.   It says on the front it is revised and updated for the 21st Century.  One thing that concerns me is that he gives no references for his statistics.  I read this last night, and stumbled.  It is on page 43.   "Our solar system takes nearly ten billion seconds (240 million years) to make one circuit of the Milky Way galaxy."  Somehow that didn't sound right to me that ten billion seconds could equal 240 million years.   I thought, "Wow, the national budget is even more out of control than I thought."   Well, if Steve and I do the math right, ten billion seconds is just over 317 years.  I don't think our solar system is circling the Milky Way that fast.   240 million years is more that 7.5 quadrillion seconds.   (7,500,000,000,000,000). Maybe we are doing something wrong with our math, but I don't understand his statistic, and I wonder why there is no reference for it, and no reference anywhere in the book.    My concern is this.  The "New Age" is often dismissed.  My understanding is that George Leonard, along with Mike Murphy, was a biggie,  in the bringing in of this new age.  Facts need to be used correctly, so the important stuff doesn't float like veils in the wind.

I look up George Leonard on Wikipedia.   He is an amazing man, so I suppose it is just a minor slip and irrelevant or Steve and I are the ones misinterpreting.   Anyway, may your brains be clear today, and the connections free to roam and re-connect in whole new ways.

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Kindness works -

This piece reminds me of the old fable where the sun and wind argue over who is stronger.   They agree that the strongest will be determined by the one who can get the man walking below to take off his coat.   The wind blows and blows, and the man just tightens his coat more.   Then, the sun comes out and shines, and the man removes his coat.

Op-Ed Contributor

Do Unto Your Enemy...

Published: September 25, 2006

IN 2002, I attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Ga. At “the Schoolhouse,” every new Army infantry officer spent six months studying the basics of his craft, including the rules of war.

I remember a seasoned senior officer explaining the importance of the Geneva Conventions. He said, “When an enemy fighter knows he’ll be treated well by United States forces if he is captured, he is more likely to give up.”

A year later on the streets of Baghdad, I saw countless insurgents surrender when faced with the prospect of a hot meal, a pack of cigarettes and air-conditioning. America’s moral integrity was the single most important weapon my platoon had on the streets of Iraq. It saved innumerable lives, encouraged cooperation with our allies and deterred Iraqis from joining the growing insurgency.

But those days are over. America’s moral standing has eroded, thanks to its flawed rationale for war and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and Haditha. The last thing we can afford now is to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation, as President Bush proposed to do and can still do under the compromise bill that emerged last week.

Blurring the lines on the letter of Article 3 — it governs the treatment of prisoners of war, prohibiting “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment” — will only make our troops’ tough fight even tougher. It will undermine the power of all the Geneva Conventions, immediately endanger American troops captured by the enemy and create a powerful recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

But the fight over Article 3 concerns not only Al Qaeda and the war in Iraq. It also affects future wars, because when we lower the bar for the treatment of our prisoners, other countries feel justified in doing the same. Four years ago in Liberia, in an attempt to preserve his corrupt authority, President Charles Taylor adopted the Bush administration’s phrase “unlawful combatants” to describe prisoners he wished to try outside of civilian courts. Today Mr. Taylor stands before The Hague accused of war crimes.

It is not hard to imagine that one of our Special Forces soldiers might one day be captured by Iranian forces while investigating a potential nuclear weapons program. What is to stop that soldier from being water-boarded, locked in a cold room for days without sleep as Iranian pop music blares all around him — and finally sentenced to die without a fair trial or the right to see the evidence against him?

If America continues to erode the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, we will cede the ground upon which to prosecute dictators and warlords. We will also become unable to protect our troops if they are perceived as being no more bound by the rule of law than dictators and warlords themselves.

The question facing America is not whether to continue fighting our enemies in Iraq and beyond but how to do it best. My soldiers and I learned the hard way that policy at the point of a gun cannot, by itself, create democracy. The success of America’s fight against terrorism depends more on the strength of its moral integrity than on troop numbers in Iraq or the flexibility of interrogation options.

Several Republican combat veterans, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain and John Warner, have recognized that the president’s stance on Article 3 is a threat to our troops and to our interests. It would be insulting for the president to assume he knows more about war than they do.

But the compromise the president struck with the senators last week leaves the most significant questions unresolved. The veterans must hold their ground — and the White House must recognize that our troops need all the moral authority they can get.

Paul Rieckhoff,the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, isthe author of “Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier’s Fight for America From Baghdad to Washington.”

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The Geneva Convention -

You may be tired of hearing me on this subject of torture, but my father was captured by the Germans during WWII when his plane was shot down.   He said he was well-treated.   There was not a lot of food because there wasn't a lot of food for anyone.  They survived because of the Red Cross packages.  They sometimes shared what they received in the Red Cross packages with the guards.  I read a book on a man who was in charge of interrogation of fighter pilots.    He was gentle and kind, and stayed friends with many of those he "interviewed" after it was over.    The information changes so fast, there was not much of value to be gotten anyway.   The victory Bush has won is wrong and we are allowing him to continue to destroy what this country has stood for, and for no reason.   How very sad this is.      I offer another piece from the NY Times today.

Op-Ed Contributor

Firing Potent Words, From a Tank

Published: September 25, 2006

I’M pleased that President Bush has said he will enforce the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions. I hope he stays true to his word.

My great respect for the conventions developed not from afar, but from the ground, in the Second World War, at the dirty-boot level, where the bullet meets the soldier.

As a young Army lieutenant, I had the job of making clear to the enemy, via loud speaker or leaflet-filled artillery shells, that the accords would be honored. Over and over, from Normandy to the Elbe, in tanks and in foxholes, my sergeants and I would say in German, “You will be well handled according to the Geneva Conventions.”

How did I find myself in this line of work? I started out with the Tank Destroyer Forces. But in one of Gen. George Marshall’s few mistakes, the destroyers were disbanded. Noting that I spoke some German, the Army then placed me as a second lieutenant in a German-speaking unit. Some of us made broadcasts; others interviewed captured German soldiers to discover ways to damage their morale.

This work was new to us and the Army, and we made up our rules as we went along. Through interviews with prisoners, we soon discovered that reminding Germans that they would be treated according to the Geneva Conventions was one of the most effective ways to persuade them to surrender.

Our broadcasts, then, took on the following structure: first, we’d outline what we knew about the German position; second, we’d describe the weight of artillery and air power that was about to fall on them; finally, we’d end with assurances that those troops who surrendered would be well treated under the Geneva Conventions.

Loudspeaker missions were not popular, as the Germans most often tried to shut them up with heavy fire. Initially, we’d place our speakers near the front lines and then run cables to the relative safety of the foxhole from which we’d broadcast.

Having trained as a “tanker,” I hoped to get loudspeakers off the ground and mounted on tanks, where they would be mobile and infinitely more effective during an attack. It was a wish that would not be fulfilled overnight: I was a young lieutenant in the position of having to persuade a tank general to give up a fighting vehicle for a loudspeaker.

Eventually, and somewhat to my surprise, I succeeded. After the Battle of the Bulge, I received the O.K. to mount a loudspeaker on a light tank of the Second Armored Division. At the same time an O.S.S. agent placed a loudspeaker on a Third Armored Division tank. He unfortunately was soon killed. This left my “talking tank,” as the Second Armored Division tank became known, as a pioneer.

At last, we could broadcast our message during an attack. This was an advantage because the enemy was more likely to surrender during an attack than after the battle had quieted down.

The jury-rigged tank also worked remarkably well. The loudspeaker itself was mounted on the forward slope of the turret and partly covered by a metal casing that resisted light machine-gun fire. The generator was set over the engine in the rear, totally covered. All the tank’s weapons could operate, though the wires attached to the speaker limited turret motion. Some of the ammunition racks inside the tank were removed and the amplifiers for the loudspeaker fastened to the steel insides.

We broadcasters lived in the turret, the tank driver was forward in the driver’s compartment and the electrician who maintained the loudspeaker and electronic equipment occupied the assistant driver’s seat.

Having trained as a tanker, I was familiar with tank combat. I could work the radios and fire the guns. I usually placed the tank as No. 3 in an attack column. There, it could broadcast immediately without interfering with the two point tanks as they checked right and left.

We were a success. In three weeks fighting beyond the Rhine in 1945, the Second Armored Division credited the talking tank for the surrender of 5,000 prisoners. The actions of the other tankers were also crucial. Their willingness to hold their fire gave surrenders a chance to happen. Germans had time to weigh the alternatives: an attack from our tanks versus imprisonment under the Geneva Conventions. In this way, American and German lives were saved.

The British had a similar strategy, though they did not use loudspeakers. They had a truck-drawn trailer with a radio broadcast studio and station inside. Led by Marius Goring (famous, later, as the hero of “The Red Shoes”), this unit would interview cooperative German prisoners and broadcast their reactions to their capture into Germany. In these broadcasts Goring would get prisoners to stress that while being a prisoner was no pleasure, they were treated fairly under the Geneva Conventions.

Yes, times have changed. Yes, we face a different enemy from the one we faced half a century ago. But I’ve seen firsthand the power of Geneva Conventions, both to compel surrenders and to broadcast, for the world, our determination to live up to our highest ideals.

Arthur T. Hadley, a former assistant executive editor at The New York Herald Tribune, is the author of a forthcoming memoir, “Heads or Tales.”

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I love this fable -

Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.)  Fables.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
The Wind and the Sun
THE WIND and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
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Tears to the eyes and fullness in the heart -

My beloved niece Katy is 11, and her teacher this year has them publish their writing work on-line.   Katy left me a message tonight that her Memoir is finished.  I go on-line and check it out.

Here is what she says.


Maybe it was her smile, her laugh, it was pretty much everything about her. My Aunt Cathy used to dance with me, play my games, watch my movies… Me and her, her and me, we were always together. I loved her so much. She was like my best friend.


          It happened when I was in first grade.

“We’re moving,” my dad had said to me. I was jumping with joy, but I didn’t understand why he had such a melancholy look on his face. “… To Connecticut,” he finished.

 I stopped jumping, and looked at him. I stared hard, because I was disappointed in him, until I realized it wasn’t his fault. I would be leaving my beloved Aunt Cathy behind. Alone. I felt like everything was my fault. Like there was a big chunk of empty space missing from my heart.

Never, I told myself, never will I leave California. But we did. We moved to Connecticut. I had no say in the matter. A couple of years after we left, my Aunt Cathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. My parents didn’t tell me. They didn’t want to worry me. My Aunt C. and I always talked on the computer, through e-mails. That was pretty much the only thing that we could do, and we rarely talked on the phone.

My aunt was treated with chemotherapy, and all of her hair fell out. That really scared me. After six months, she started feeling better, happier. I felt the same way that she did—joyous and excited. She’d made it through. She told me that I was what gave her the strength to get better. She had survived cancer, which is a really neat thing to be able to say.



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Joe Scarborough gives advice -

Joe Scarborough speaks:

    In my first installment of "Joe Knows," I will be telling Democrats how to most effectively articulate their policy positions on the current conflict in Iraq. My goal is to transform them from wimps to political gladiators who kick ass. Then at least we will have a real debate.

    Monday I will offer advice on Iraq to Republicans. And that will be the speech I would actually give were I running this year. But since the Democrats need more help in figuring out what their party believes on the war, i thought I would start with them.

    The way I see it, America needs a real debate on the real issues facing our country in the 21st Century. So long as politicians on both sides skirt the issues, Americans will be the losers. And since Democrats have been so helplessly tongue-tied on Iraq, I could think of no better place to start than with the war.

    So here goes (campaign managers, cut and paste starting here):

    "Friends, I'm sorry. I really am. When you sent me to Washington, I promised to do my best in representing you, but sometimes, even giving your best is not enough. One of those times I messed up was when I voted for the war in Iraq.

    You know what my biggest mistake was? Trusting the Bush Administration.

    George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld all told me America was in great danger because of Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear weapon programs. Heck, even the CIA director told me it was a slam dunk.

    One year after September 11th I, along with 75% of Americans, believed the Commander in Chief. But what a mistake that was.

    America now finds itself involved in a brutal war that will last longer than the Civil War, both World Wars and Korea. Iraq's security situation is worse than ever, and even our troops tell me that civil war is right around the corner.

    So what do we do?

    Blaming George Bush is not enough. Blaming George Bush won't win a war, won't rebuild fractured alliances and won't bring our troops home.

    FDR didn't look back after Pearl Harbor and neither should we now look back on the mistakes of the past. This election isn't about that past.

    It is about America's future.

    Right now, America is spending $1.5 billion a week in Iraq. Generals are saying it may take up to 15 years to secure that country.

    That means some of the 9 year olds you pass at bus stops next week will be fighting and dying in Iraq if the Bush Pentagon has its way.

    That means America will pay over $1.5 trillion on Iraq before the end of this tragic adventure.

    That means America will be stretched thin not only militarily but also economically.

    Friends, my momma always told me that no matter how far you get down a trail, if it is the wrong one, turn around. That's what America must have the courage to do, That's what our leaders must have the courage to do. That is what I will have the courage to do.

    In fighting to get our troops home, I will be fighting to put America first. I will be fighting to protect your tax dollars. I will be fighting to protect our troops' lives and I will be fighting to strengthen our military to insure that instead of being tied down in Iraq, we be strong enough to face the very real threats caused by North Korea and Iran.

    Enough is enough!

    Send George Bush a message. Tell him America can no longer spend our children into permanent debt and lose more lives in a three-sided civil war that America cannot end. And tell him we have given Iraq their first three Democratic elections. It is now time to let them determine their destiny as we once again begin focusing on ours.

    You can send George W. Bush that message and put America first again by casting your vote for me on November 7th. Together we can make sure that our country's greatest days lie ahead.

    Thank you and may God bless our troops overseas and bless the United States of America.