January 1, 2008 archive

A resolution: To work to bring the troops home

A New Year’s resolution:  To do what I can to end the Iraq war and occupation.

To do something, even if it’s something small, to try to accomplish something big.

It takes a leap of faith, in 2008, to believe that anything you do can make a difference.  After nearly five years of being ignored by the Bush administration and the Congress, many are disillusioned and/or cynical.

But, for the most part, they are still planning to vote.

If you believe that your one vote will make a difference in this country’s direction, why wouldn’t you believe that your one voice against the war can also make a difference?

When I wrote recently about the Iraq Moratorium , some readers responded that protests are meaningless or even counterproductive.

Protests not your thing?  Fine.  Do something else.  Contact a member of Congress.  Help an antiwar candidate.  Wear a button.  Whatever.  Let a million ideas and individual actions bloom.  But do something.

That’s what’s attractive about the Iraq Moratorium, a national umbrella uniting people and groups who want to bring the troops home.  There is no “one size fits all” philosophy.  There are no rules.  People are encouraged to do their own thing.  But they are encouraged to do something, and, whatever it is, to do it on the Third Friday of every month.  

The Iraq Moratorium website collects information about past and future actions across the country and makes it accessible so people can share ideas and tactics and support and inspire one another.

Since Moratorium #1 in September, there have been several hundred actions in about 30 states, ranging from simple vigils to rallies and marches challenging war profiteers.  The next round is scheduled on Friday, Jan. 18, and organizers are beginning now to list their plans on the website.

But group actions are just a part of the Iraq Moratorium.  Individuals can take part, too, by doing something on the Third Friday of every month, whether it’s wearing a button or armband to work or school, putting up a sign, writing a letter to the editor, or dozens of other possibilities.  

It would be nice if folks would sign the simple pledge on the website:

I hereby make a commitment that on the Third Friday of each and every month, I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq.

But even that formality isn’t necessary.

All you need to do is do something, once a month.

The Pentagon and the war machine will operates 24/7/366  this Leap Year.

How about resolving to spend a small amount of time, once a month, to try to make a difference?

Happy New Year.

Four at Four

Some news and open thread.

  1. The Guardian reports Past failures are a recipe for success for Hillary, says Bill. “Failure is not usually an attribute used to sell American presidents, but that is how Bill Clinton is pitching his wife to Iowa’s voters in the final days before the state caucuses. Hillary Clinton has a crucial quality for an occupant of the White House, the former president argues: the strength to carry on after getting it wrong. ‘You need to know how a president deals with failure,’ he told a packed fairground hall in this town south-west of Des Moines.” If American wanted a failure, they’d find a way to re-elect Bush.

  2. According to the Des Moines Register, Edwards, wife crackle over remark by Obama’s wife. Okay, first off… crackle? “John Edwards gave a long, passionate response Monday to rivals’ claims that if he becomes the Democrats’ presidential nominee, he would be financially handcuffed because he agreed to federal campaign spending limits that will last throughout the primaries. ‘It scares them to death, because what they know is, what this candidate and this campaign stands for is working,’ he said. ‘Can I ask you a question? If they have more money, and money’s what matters, then why are they worrying about me?’ … ‘When you’re resorting to arguments about how much money somebody has, you’re in a bad place,’ he said. “Because you’re not saying, ‘He’s wrong on this issue, or he’s wrong on that issue. And he’s not a good candidate.’ They’re not saying any of that. They’re saying, ‘But we have more money.” Obama aides have been telling reporters that Edwards’ decision to accept spending caps would cripple him if he became the nominee.”

  3. The New York Times reports Outside groups spend heavily and visibly to sway ’08 races. “Spurred by a recent Supreme Court decision, independent political groups are using their financial muscle and organizational clout as never before to influence the presidential race, pumping money and troops into early nominating states on behalf of their favored candidates… The groups are prohibited from coordinating their efforts with the campaigns… Unlike national political parties and their candidates, many of these interest groups face no limits on how much they can take in from their contributors and often do not have to disclose their donors’ names until after an election… Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is the only leading Democrat who has not attracted support from any of these groups in Iowa.”

  4. The Portland Tribune wonders if Oregon largest city’s three steam locomotives are Running out of steam? “The Brooklyn Roundhouse – is almost completely filled with three huge steam locomotives… Two of the engines have been completely restored and still run – The Southern Pacific 4449 and the Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700… Perhaps most amazing of all, over the past half-century they have cost city taxpayers practically nothing. All of the work on the locomotives has been done by a small, dedicated group of volunteers that has raised its own funds from private sources. And the Union Pacific Corp., which owns the roundhouse, has been leasing it to the city for $1 a month… Now, however, the locomotives are at a crossroads. The Union Pacific wants the roundhouse property to expand its future freight operations, perhaps within a few months.

Below the fold is a story about the Navy awaiting a court ruling on its use of cetacean-killing sonar.

falling in love… again

it’s funny. to fall in love. when you’re not free to do so.

The Iowa Caucuses are officially a farce!

David Yepsen, of the Des Moines Register, is the most respected political analyst in Iowa. Tucked into his analysis of the new Register poll, which shows Barack Obama breaking out to a legitimate lead, is a little nugget that succinctly explains why Iowa should not matter.

A lot of Democratic caucus-goers aren’t all that Democratic. Some 40 percent of the Democratic caucus-goers say they are independents, and another 5 percent say they are Republicans. (Technically, they’ll all have to re-register as Democrats to participate, but that can be done at the caucus site.) Put another way, 54 percent of the Democratic caucus-goers say they’re Democrats. In 2004, it was 80 percent.

In other words, the caucus that could launch or break campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination will be largely determined by people who do not represent the Democratic Party. This should be a stop-the-presses headline, and it should be the number one point emphasized by all who truly care about the Democratic Party. Iowa is officially a farce!

2007 A Year of Advancements and Dissapointments

Politically we have seen our Representatives FINALLY start doing what they were hired to do,

unlike the previous Congress, Investigate and hold Hearings, way too numorous to list all.

We have some seeking to find the answers to all the wrongs committed by an administration

shown time and again to be Incompetant and Corrupt! And we have many, who once controlled,

playing the Obstructionists on every issue raised.

These Obstructionists were extremely lax in

their roles as the peoples representatives when they did hold that control, and will continue to be so,

we would have already seen a change in their ideology, whatever the hell that is!

One Extremely Important Issue that stood out, of the previous Congress, and the Media didn’t even question,

as they were beating the War Drums, and using three words ‘Support The Troops’ to marginalize

anyone questioning the Policies of the Administration, was ‘What About The Troops?’.

An Open Letter To America

Happy New Year America! I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and I really don’t want to harsh your hangover or anything, but there are a few things I want to say to you. I don’t want to come off sounding superior, or even suggest I am condemning you…I’m not.

I know how consuming and complex life in the 21st Century is, I know how hard you are working, I know how many errands you have to run and how hard it is to keep up with the housework and the kids schedules and how your weekends are eaten up by the all the chores around the house. I know you don’t have much time to relax…let alone time to think about stuff that is just…well…. unpleasant to think about.

And that is what I am going to ask you to do for a few minutes in this letter.

Not Necessarily Stoned, But Beautiful…

James Marshall Hendrix would have been 65 years old on November 27, 2007.

What great music would he have given us since 1970 if he had stuck around a bit longer?

This is, IMO, the best song he ever wrote and played, and is the epitome of his guitar virtuosity:

Happy late birthday, Jimi…

If you can just get your mind together

Uh – then come on across to me

We’ll hold hands and then we’ll watch the sunrise

From the bottom of the sea

Trumpets and violins I can – uh, hear in the distance

I think they’re callin’ our name

Maybe now you can’t hear them,

But you will, ha-ha, if you just

Take hold of my hand

Ohhh, but are you experienced?

Have you ever been experienced?

Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful…

Can I move back to 1970 now?

Barack Obama will change the system part 3

photo courtesy of SEIU International on Flickr used under this Creative Commons license.

So far I have wrote about Barack Obama’s strong stands on public financing of elections and media reform. Today I am going to talk about his work making government more transparent and more ethical. These are area’s were he has gotten the most bills passed into law so hopefully this should be a interesting post.  

The Army’s Other Crisis

cross-posted from Daily Kos

is the title of an important piece in Washington Monthly, subtitled “Why the best and brightest young officers are leaving”.   Written by Andrew Tilghman, it provides the statistics that let us understand that the leadership of the Army is effectively broken, now and for the future.

Consider the following:  of the West Point Class of 2002, 58% left the Army upon completion of their minimum 5 year commitment.  Or on a larger scale, consider this:

In the last four years, the exodus of junior officers from the Army has accelerated. In 2003, around 8 percent of junior officers with between four and nine years of experience left for other careers. Last year, the attrition rate leapt to 13 percent. “A five percent change could potentially be a serious problem,” said James Hosek, an expert in military retention at the RAND Corporation. Over the long term, this rate of attrition would halve the number of officers who reach their tenth year in uniform and intend to take senior leadership roles.


Finding Light in the Darkness

My wife, Leslie, and I both read Buhdydharma’s essay yesterday on Circles and Cycles, Light vs. Dark and The Biggest Picture. We thought it would be appropriate to post an entry Leslie wrote for our blog about how we use faith and light and faith in the light as the focus of our family Christmas celebrations.  The Sahaj Marg meditation practice my wife and I have both subscribed to for years uses Divine Light in the heart as the object of meditation. Interestingly one of the suggestions for deepening meditation is to meditate an hour or so before sunrise, i.e. at the night’s darkest and coldest point. The reason for this is that the strongest connection that someone can make to their internal light is when the heat is withdrawn from the external world and it is at its darkest and coldest. It is easier to see the light inside when it is as its darkest outside.

Material woes and miseries offer special opportunities for a person to progress spiritually.  When darkness is encompassing the world as it is these days, this gives the collective human population a great opportunity to evolve spiritually. The darkness gives us an opportunity to go within, find the inner light and allow it to shine. The darkness creates a sense of urgency and a craving for light.  In any life, it is the difficulties and how one responds to those difficulties that defines that life. An artist who can turn his or her suffering into art is considered a great artist. An athlete who mounts a four quarter comeback against all odds, snatching victory from defeat, defines their career in these challenging moments.

The world is now entering a very dark phase. There will be suffering but there will also be unique opportunities for our species to spiritually evolve so that in the end we may have a society of saints and Masters. My wife and I are working according to this belief to guide our children in many areas for this eventuality.

This past Christmas I posted an essay here about our Christmas in the Barn. My wife posted a companion essay on our blog called “Our Christmas Eve ‘Faith in the Light’ Celebration” that talks about how we incorporate discussing faith in the return of the light with our children during the dark winter holidays. The Christmas Eve we celebrated together was quiet, meaningful and bolstered us to face the rest of the winter (both in the microcosm and in the macrocosm) with calm strength.

who wants to live forever?

What is this thing that builds our dreams yet slips away from us

Who wants to live forever  

Who wants to live forever?  


I watched as you passed by and thought I felt your breath for just a moment on my face, a gentle faerie vapor in the still air of the night. I brushed your hand in my dreams with my hand, an ethereal transfer of warmth from my flesh to spirit to your incorporeal flesh. That moment of space between life and death was filled, again, too briefly with transient comfort of your presence.  

But touch my tears with your lips

Touch my world with your fingertips

And we can have forever

And we can love forever

(also published in modified format at Dailykos)

Pony Party, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Comment Graphics

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