March 29th, 2007

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Good Morning!!

Here we are with another beautiful morning.    I breathe in the freshness within.   My intention for today is to more fully complete my thoughts.  I think that sometimes we truncate our thoughts and movements.   The question "Is there more?" can often be asked, and it is important to note when it is enough.

So, today, I am with noticing as I continue to work on the book.  Yesterday was a marathon of work as I determined to get back through it in these two days, so again today I begin to enter into the past from now. 

It is morning.  Young Light!!
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Listening -

It has been a full and productive work day.  I read these words:


        "An open ear is the only believable sign of an open heart."

                                    -- David Augsburger

I think it is as important to listen to ourselves as it is to listen to others.  Listen to both.
Enjoy silence and invite what enters i
n.  Enjoy your open heart!

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Evening -

The sky is alive with the moon and stars.  I saw two quail today.  They were quite vocal with their "qua querkos" and they are again settling in to live here.    One was walking up and down the driveway staking out territory.   The other called back from within the plants.

I made a cheesecake for my book group coming here tomorrow night, a Bailey's Irish Cream Cadbury chocolate cheesecake and I forgot that after the 45 minute cooking time, it has to sit in the oven for an hour before it comes out to cool so I am still up awaiting its emergence.

There are some interesting tidbits in this weeks New Yorker.

There is a new biography of Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson.   I was unaware that Einstein calculated how many water molecules existed in 22.4 litres.  Isaacson says the answer is a number so vast "that many unpopped popcorn kernels when spread across the United States would cover the country nine miles deep."   Wow!   That's an image. 

In the movie review, David Denby has this to say about the two movies, "300" and "Shooter."

    "Made in a time of frustration, when Americans are fighting a war that they can neither win nor abandon, "300" and "Shooter" feel like the products of a culture slowly and painfully going mad."

The book The Cigarette Century by Allan M. Brandt is also noted.  Brandt calls what has been done by Big Tobacco, their campaign of dirty tricks that "included misleading advertising, pseudoscience, and pocketed politicians," the "crime of the century."   It sounds like a book to read if you are needing to quit smoking. 

I will now pop my cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool.   Here is to dreams in the night and day!!
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Wide Awake -

I am wide awake tonight.  I continued cooking and so now I am with Thomas Merton.

Here are some words of his from "Auschwitz, a Family Camp," circa 1967.

    "Language itself has fallen victim to total war, genocide, and systematic tyranny in our time.  In destroying human beings, and human values, on a mass scale, the Gestapo also subjected the German language to violence and crude perversion.

     .... The language of Auschwitz is one of the vulnerable spots through which we get a clear view of the demonic.

    Gestapo double-talk encircles reality as a doughnut encircles its hole. "Special treatment," "special housing." We need no more than one lesson, and we gain the intuition which identifies the hole, the void of death, in the heart of the expression. When the circumlocution becomes a little more insistent ("recovery camps for the tired") it brings with it suggestions of awful lassitude, infinite hopelessness, as if meaning had now been abolished forever and we were definitely at the mercy of the absurd.

     "Disinfectants,"  "materials for resettlement of Jews," "Ovaltine substitute from Swiss Red Cross" - all references to Zyklon B!  When a deadly poison gas is referred to as a soothing restorative, a quasi-medicine to put babies to sleep, one senses behind the phrase a deep hatred of life itself. The key to Auschwitz language is its pathological joy in death.  This turns out to be key to all officialese.  All of it is the celebration of boredom, of routine, of deadness, of organized futility.  Auschwitz just carried the whole thing to its logical extreme, with a kind of heavy lilt in its mockery, its oafish love of death.

     "Work makes free" - the sign over the gate of Auschwitz - tells, with grim satisfaction, the awful literal truth: "Here we work people to death." And behind it the dreadful metaphysical admission: "For us there is only one freedom, death."

    "To the Bath," said the sign pointing to the gas chambers.  (You will be purified of that dirty thing, your life!)  And as a matter of fact the gas chambers and crematories were kept spotlessly clean.  "Nothing was left of them (the victims), not even a speck of dust on the armatures."

    "Assigned to harvest duty" - this, in the record of an SS man, meant he had been posted to Auschwitz.  The double meaning of  "harvest" was doubtless not random.  It has an apocalyptic ring."

          Thomas Merton

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Jon Carroll -

Jon Carroll

Thursday, March 29, 2007

There's been lots written about the whole Alberto Gonzales/fired federal prosecutors story, a daunting amount, so I'll skip through the major talking points. Political firings (but they're not illegal), firings in the face of good performance reviews (suspicious but not illegal), lying to Congress (that could be illegal) and general posturing by all parties involved, most lately the lawyer for Monica Goodling, Justice Department liaison to the White House, who invoked the Fifth Amendment on behalf of his client because his client was in danger of being falsely accused of a crime.

Nope, can't do that. If you've committed a real crime, then you get to invoke the Fifth. If you don't like the forum, too bad. Democracy is messy, as Donald Rumsfeld has mentioned. Indeed, a reader at the blog Talking Points Memo suggested that Goodling might be guilty of obstructing an investigation by asserting a bogus Fifth Amendment right.

The most complete coverage of this whole sprawling case has been in TPM, as it is called. It was TPM that got an army of volunteers to go through the 3,000 pages of e-mails and memos released by the White House. TPM is a worthy and struggling organization; you can help it by sending a check to TPM Media LLC, P.O. Box 490, Old Chelsea Station, New York City 10113.

Here's my first question: If those eight U.S. attorneys were fired at the behest of Karl Rove for real or imagined disloyalty to the president (and that does seem to be the case), then what were the 85 other prosecutors doing right? Why are they still in place? It can't be their performance ratings; performance ratings had nothing to do with the firings. Could it be that, in some way or another, all of them had demonstrated their malleability? Is there perhaps a corruption case they have not prosecuted? Have they been raising a little money on the side?

See, the thing is, there's an election coming up in 2008. There are likely to be disputes about what happened in the voting booths. A pliable federal prosecutor would be a useful thing to have around when legal challenges are starting. Since the plan to fire the attorneys had been in the works for two years, it could be an example of Karl Rove's ability to think long term. Just an idea.

The other interesting thing is the use by now-resigned Justice Department employee Kyle Sampson of the phrase "loyal Bushies." What is interesting is that he did not use the phrase "loyal Republicans." There have always been patronage appointments, and most often those appointed are members of the same political party as the president. James Garfield, it will be remembered, was killed by a "disappointed office seeker," that is, a person who thought he was entitled to a job under the patronage system.

But George W. Bush and the Republican Party are not coterminous. It would be hard to describe the belief system of a loyal Bushie, other than unquestioning faith in George W. Bush. Would he be in favor of reduced government spending, increased individual liberties, a conservative and prudent foreign policy? Nope. George W. Bush does not stand for any of those things. Loyal Bushies can be counted on to do the right thing, the Bush thing, whenever a thing needs doing. That's the belief system.

One of the more depressing books written in the past few years is "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. It details the early months of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which was in charge of the reconstruction effort after the military victory in Iraq.

Loyal Bushies ran that operation. The loyal Bushies did not have to have experience in the Middle East, or in rebuilding nations, or in information systems or electrical grids or Islam or anything that might be useful. There are people in the United States who have those skills, but they were not called on. Most of the people in charge had either donated large amounts of money to the Republican Party or had expressed strong neoconservative views in think-tank policy papers, or had just hustled their way onto the gravy train with a sharp line of patter.

Inevitably, there were competent people; just as inevitably, they were brushed aside by ideologues, who did want to be confused by facts. Many Iraqis had cheered the fall of Saddam; many Iraqis were waiting for American know-how to help rebuild their country. American know-how didn't know how because loyal Bushies were in charge of everything, and loyal Bushies neither liked nor trusted Iraqis. They stayed inside the Green Zone, wearing their "Bush/Cheney 2004" T-shirts and eating hamburgers imported from the United States by Halliburton.

Whoever wins in 2008, there will still be a lot of loyal Bushies in place, and woe, woe is us.

Karl Rove thinks long term, but he thinks only about one thing. Would that someone had thought long term about Iraq.