"You watch your mind to see who you are not. I watch my mind to gain a sense of its content, which has always been my pain. As I watch it, I get a sense of its impermanence. Thoughts come and go as part of a process. I see how content dissolves into process and begin to see the patterns in the process. Realizing it isn’t MY suffering, MY pain, it becomes THE pain. I’ve gone from the tiny, the small, and the individual to the universal. I feel OUR pain. When we do, we go from fear to compassion. Fear is MY pain, compassion is THE pain."
Though I said I was taking a break from political comment, this article on Harry Reid by Mark Leibovich is just too fun to pass up. I feel like we have some gumption and personality back. Things aren't black and white. We have a combination. Reid does, as Leibovich says, blue-state yoga and red-state push-ups and sit-ups. He is a Democrat who is a Mormon and opposed to abortion.
"Harry Mason Reid is the product of the tiny desert town of Searchlight, Nev., whose father, a hard-rock miner, battled alcoholism and depression before killing himself at 58. The future senator hitchhiked 40 miles to attend high school in Henderson, where he became an amateur boxer.
He came to Washington to attend law school, working nights as a Capitol police officer. He was elected to the Nevada State Assembly at 28, served as lieutenant governor and later led the state’s Gaming Commission, a job that pitted him against organized crime figures. (Mr. Reid’s wife, Landra, once found a bomb under the hood of the family car.) He was elected to Congress in 1982, and moved to the Senate four years later.
Mr. Reid has brought his pugilistic sensibility to his career, often taking jabs at those he deems unworthy. In Mr. Reid’s two-year run as minority leader, he called Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, “a political hack”; Justice Clarence Thomas “an embarrassment”; and President Bush a “loser” and a “liar.” Within that litany, Mr. Reid says he regrets only calling Mr. Bush a loser."
Somehow this "tickles me pink," and I am pink, in my pink pajamas.
I do not expect to agree with everything someone who represents me thinks, but I do want them to think, show compassion, and know there are a multitude of sides, and with that, how do we, then, provide the most benefit to the most people. We're all in this lifeboat together. I am delighted with the change in tone, so very much needed after such a horrendous clamp-down. Bush's litany of you are either with us, or against us, is now gone, and we are once again free to breathe the freedom this country represents.
Bush just can't graciously let go. I don't know why he continues to cultivate his reputation as the worst president in history, but I guess it is hard to let go of habit.
Bipartisanship on Hold
President Bush was back on TV yesterday, without the scowl he’d been sporting the day after the election but with the surviving members of his Cabinet. He talked about how much he was looking forward to lunching with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and working on “the great issues facing America.” Mr. Bush said his team would “respect the results” of the election.
Just maybe not right away.
Without missing a beat, Mr. Bush made it clear that, for now, his idea of how to “put the elections behind us” is to use the Republicans’ last two months in control of Congress to try to push through one of the worst ideas his administration and its Republican allies on Capitol Hill have come up with: a bill that would legalize his illegal wiretapping program and gut the law that limits a president’s ability to abuse his power in this way.
Mr. Bush listed his priorities for the forthcoming lame duck session of Congress. It was an odd list that included only two really urgent items — passing the bills that keep federal money flowing and confirming the nomination of Robert Gates as the next secretary of defense. The rest was a grab bag that included one worthy but hardly urgent idea (getting Vietnam into the World Trade Organization) and a series of ideas ranging from bad to truly awful that Mr. Bush has been unable to get through Congress and hopes to ram through in the Republicans’ last weeks.
For example, he wants the Senate to ratify his recess appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. That vote, which is likely to be strongly debated, can easily wait for the new Congress, and should. Mr. Bush also pressed for quick passage of “the bipartisan energy legislation,” which had Congressional officials scratching their heads in puzzlement about which bill he might mean. And he wants immediate approval of his administration’s deal to sell civilian nuclear technology to India despite that nation’s refusal to sign or abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
That was a bad idea from the start. But the wiretapping bill is simply outrageous, and it has no business being discussed in this lame duck session.
The bill Mr. Bush wants was drafted by Vice President Dick Cheney’s lawyers and by Senator Arlen Specter, the outgoing Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Specter presented it as a compromise that would regulate the president’s ability to spy on Americans’ phone calls and e-mail without a court order. It really was a cave-in to Mr. Bush’s effort to expand his power beyond limits that have existed for nearly 30 years.
Mr. Bush has acknowledged that he authorized the National Security Agency to conduct certain kinds of domestic wiretapping without obtaining the warrant required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He has claimed that the law hindered the hunt for terrorists, but has not offered a scrap of evidence for that claim. He has also never described the program’s overall scope, and almost none of the lawmakers who will vote on this bill if Mr. Bush has his way have any idea what it entails.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is one of the few members who does know, has said there is nothing in the program that could not be done legally. She has proposed a more modest bill that would give the government more flexibility to eavesdrop first and get permission later. But Mr. Bush is not interested. He wants the bill that would gut the law, absolve him of illegal behavior and turn over the task of determining the constitutionality of his program to a court that is not equipped to make that judgment.
Since the White House has continued the wiretapping without legislative approval, there is no conceivable reason why Mr. Bush should see this as an emergency. His real motive could be to create a bargaining chip that would allow him to get a narrower bill giving the telephone companies immunity for helping the administration conduct the unlawful eavesdropping. That’s an absurdly bad idea.
There are plenty of responsible lawmakers in both parties who are sympathetic to the idea that the executive branch needed more flexibility to pursue terrorists after 9/11. It has been obvious all along that if the president feels current law is too restrictive, he should explain its shortcomings to members of Congress and ask them to amend it. The Republican majority was never going to insist on that, but the new Democratic leadership might.
The White House refuses to explain itself because this has never been about catching terrorists. It is about overturning the crucial limits placed on executive authority after Watergate and Vietnam. Mr. Cheney and a few other hard-liners have been trying to turn back the clock and have succeeded in some truly scary ways, including the military commissions act they pushed through Congress before the elections. It is vital that they not be allowed to do any more harm.
Check out this slideshow. http://www.npca.org/explore_the_parks/safari/ice_age_floods/?page=1
Featured Park: Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
Glacial meltwater flowed into ice-dammed lakes. The largest one--Glacial Lake Missoula--covered an area twice the size of Rhode Island. Water and ice from Lake Missoula, which would have filled half of Lake Michigan, swept forth across the land as glacial dams repeatedly broke open. These floods are believed to have begun as early as 2.6 million years ago, at the onset of the last Ice Age, and ended around 13,000-15,000 years ago. Today, their evidence can be seen along a 600-mile path stretching from western Montana to the Pacific Ocean, with the greatest concentration of flood features in eastern Washington State.
Recently, NPCA, members of Congress, and many others have come together to support national recognition of these cataclysmic events. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) introduced legislation supporting the creation of a national geologic trail to be overseen by the National Park Service. Both bills passed and a final bill will soon be sent to the President. If signed, the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail would be the first of its kind in the National Park System.
Watch our slideshow for a tour of the proposed trail and highlights of its amazing natural features >>
For additional scenes from the flood's path, visit D.J. Bradley Photography >>
What would it be like
if you lived each day,
each breath, as a work of art
in progress? Imagine that you
are a masterpiece unfolding
every second of every day, a
work of art taking form with
I see now
that this dewdrop life
is not regrettable
as it's destined to be
a pearl on the lotus.
Sanekata Fujiwara (died 998, Japan - a poet of the Heian Period.)
Even if I know
I will turn into a pearl
on the lotus leaf,
I still wet my sleeves with tears
like morning dew.
Michitsuna Fujiwara's Mother
(Tenth-century Japan - a poet of the Heian Period - her personal name is lost to history.)
reflected on the eyeballs
of a dragonfly.
Issa Kobayashi (1763-1824, Japan - a haiku poet of the late Edo period.)
Beware what you set your heart upon.
For it shall surely be yours.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is no wonder some of us feel shell-shocked at the deliverance it seems has come with this election. We truly have been granted a reprieve. I give you the words of William Rivers Pitt.
A Deep, Deep Breath
By William Rivers Pitt
Thursday 09 November 2006
I will sew no silken seam on a fine May mornin',
You can bide your time 'til your time runs out,
So take this as fair warning ...
- "Shepherd Lad," The Battlefield Band
Let us be absolutely clear on what has taken place. This was not simply a midterm election, not just a historic running of the table, not just a scathing repudiation of virtually everything the Bush administration has stood for since they swaggered into Washington six long years ago.
It was so very much more than this.
The back of the "Neo-conservative Revolution" has been broken, perhaps not for all time - simply because nothing truly evil ever really dies - but for a good long while. The ideology foisted upon an unwilling public by the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen and the rest, the ideology that has given us slaughter in Iraq and a ravaged reputation abroad, has been exposed and eviscerated. The Project for the New American Century, and all that was spawned from it, has been relegated, for now, to the dustbin of history.
As unutterably massive as this is, it still does not capture the entirety of the event.
There are many things that make the United States of America unique, but one stands out above all. Every other nation on Earth has within it cultural, religious or historical threads, often stretching back hundreds if not thousands of years, which bind its people together.
When you see the Orangemen march in Ireland, when you see the Serbs mark the anniversary of a massacre that happened 900 years ago, when you see the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, you are witnessing an echo out of time that, for good or ill, silently reminds the people of those countries that they have a shared heritage which stretches back dozens of generations.
The United States stands apart from this. We are an invention, the product of an idea, the children of a dream. We come from everywhere, and though our history is stained with far too much blood shed during the unfolding of our own history, the sum total is an amalgamation of the best and worst of the human experience. Nothing like this has ever existed anywhere, ever.
All we have to tie together this amazing and confusing experiment are a few old pieces of paper. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the only truths that each and every citizen of this country have completely in common. They are our unifying theme, our organizing principle, and we share this together because the basic idea was, and remains, that these belong to us and defend us and set us, now and forever, free.
It was not always so, and remains today a dream unfulfilled, but in the end, that was the genius of it all. These three documents, and the ideology behind them, were created to be self-improving entities. Much remains to be done to move along the "more perfect Union" Lincoln spoke of, and that work will never be completed ... and that is the point. These things are ours, and they are all that we truly have to bind us together, and our purpose as citizens is to bend our will toward the creation of that more perfect Union.
Before the sun came up on Wednesday, that shared heritage had been under a savage, unrelenting attack by men and women who have no respect for the idea and the dream which makes us all that we are as a people. The right to a trial has been shattered, the right to stand before your accuser has been removed, the right to be secure in home and person from governmental intrusion has been swept by the boards, and all by a president who once referred to the Constitution as "just a God damned piece of paper."
These cancers have not been cut out simply because of an election, of course. But the first, vital step towards repairing our shared heritage was taken on Tuesday night, simply because we have at long last returned to the basic Constitutional requirement of checks and balances within this government. No longer will the best interests of the people be slapped aside by people who have no patience for the process that was laid out by wiser and better men. Some logs have been thrown in the road, and for now, a real chance for healing has been gifted to us by the very democratic institutions these people would shun and shatter. The power of the vote, so often maligned and disdained, has been restored.
A more perfect Union, indeed.
Much remains to be done. The departure of Donald Rumsfeld from the Pentagon will not heal Iraq, nor will it bring back to life the soldiers and civilians who have died thanks to the hubris of others. The cornering of Dick Cheney has not sapped him of his power. George W. Bush remains an incurious front man whose very existence in that seat of power will stand as a constant threat to the safety and security of this nation and the world entire.
"U.S. envoy tells Iraqis election won't change policy," reads the Associated Press headline from Wednesday. That, in and of itself, says all we need to know about what remains to be done. For the first time in far too long, however, an opportunity has arrived to do more than scream into the thunderstorm and damn the rain.
The real work begins now.
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. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation, will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.
In the autumn of 1998, Ted Kooser took morning walks in his recovery from cancer and radiation. He was told to stay out of the sun, as I was, though I tend to forget, and so he walked before dawn on the isolated country roads of his home in Nebraska.
He writes, "During the previous summer, depressed by my illness, preoccupied by the routines of my treatment, and feeling miserably sorry for myself, I'd all but given up on reading and writing. Then, as autumn began to fade and winter come on, my health, began to improve. One morning in November, following my walk, I surprised myself by trying my hand at a poem. Soon I was writing every day."
We are now at his season, and so, today, I give you his poem of November 10th, 1998.
High winds all night.
Most of the snow passed north of us,
but this morning we're given the fancy white lace
at the edge of that blanket,
every weed on the roadside coated with ice.
Behind the counter at the post office,
somebody's small carton stamped with block letters:
ANGEL MOMENTS WITH SNAIL.
I drive very slowly all the way home.
Martin Buber -
How are we educated by children, by animals! ....
We live in the currents of universal reciprocity.
In 1775, Tom Paine wrote:
We have it in our power to begin the world all over again.
A situation similar to the present hath not appeared since the days of Noah until now.
The birthday of a new world is at hand.
May each day from now on, ring the same.