Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wanglibi Village Tibet Tingguang photo Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"If you stick to your soul, it will stick to you. The world has a way of slipping through your fingers."

George Bernard Shaw

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Join" (1980) by Elizabeth Murray Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"The primacy of IMAGINATION I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM."


Captain Future's Log


Representative John Murtha is from my neck of the woods. His district is close to where I grew up. He was the first Vietnam veteran to be elected to Congress. He saw combat, and he has the medals, including two purple hearts. He is the highest ranking Democrat on the House appropriations defense subcommittee. He is considered a hawk. He voted for the Iraq war.

Thursday he said it's time to bring U.S. soldiers home.

This is the Washington equivalent of an earthquake. As the AP report put it "The comments by the Pennsylvania lawmaker, who has spent three decades in the House, hold particular weight because he is close to many military commanders and has enormous credibility with his colleagues on defense issues."

This was the first huge blow of the day suffered by the Bush administration; the other, which came late Thursday night, is from a former CIA Director in the first Bush administration, and a Navy Admiral, who accuses the Bush administration of a policy of torture, and of lying about it. (Both stories are excerpted below.)

It is to be expected that such devastating statements would make Bushcorps and their apologists defensive. But that spineless bunch of hate-filled moral bankrupts knows only how to attack the messenger. While the president repeatedly accuses Democrats of being irresponsible, repeating it like the Rovian mantra it likely is, his White House spokesperson did his best to villify and marginalize John Murtha for daring to speak his mind. Some other Republicans and the Rabid Right blogs were even more defamatory.

I haven't agreed with many positions taken by Rep. John Murtha on military and foreign policy matters. But I never disrespected him. Read his statement below and see what it sounds like to you.

I saw some of his press conference. I saw the emotion with which he spoke about the wounded soldiers he's visited. And I say to those who vilify him now, have you visited with the soldiers every week you so easily send into hell? Do you talk with men who have lost both legs and an arm, or to the family seated around the bed of a young son in a coma?

How dare you disrespect a man who has.

I fully expect to disagree with John Murtha again, to oppose some bill that he supports, to support some candidate he opposes. But I hope I never degrade myself or degrade the political process by the kind of cowardly vilification that characterizes the supposed guardians of our morals, the holier than thou zealots that blithely send others to bleed and burn and die so they can enrich themselves, in this orgy of cynical corruption known as the Bush administration and the repulsive right.

Rep. John Murtha on Thursday. Posted by Picasa


It Is Time To Bring Them Home

by Congressman John Murtha (D)
Pennsylvania 12th District

[excerpts of his official statement; emphasis added]

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.

The American public is way ahead of us.

The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”
For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited.

A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment.

Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away.

Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S. Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement.

Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground... Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent.

And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control.

A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified.

I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
Former CIA Director Calls Cheney Vice President for Torture

From "'Cheney is vice president for torture'" ITV News

A former CIA director has exclusively told ITV News that torture is condoned and even approved by the Bush government.

The devastating accusations have been made by Admiral Stansfield Turner who labelled Dick Cheney "a vice president for torture".

He said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory".

The former spymaster claims President Bush is not telling the truth when he says that torture is not a method used by the US.

Speaking of Bush's claims that the US does not use torture, Admiral Turner, who ran the CIA from 1977 to 1981, said: "I do not believe him".

On Dick Cheney he said "I'm embarrassed the United States has a vice president for torture. He condones torture, what else is he?"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Second star to the right, into the galaxy of imagination... Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"The key to seeing the world's soul, and in the process wakening our own, is to get over the confusion by which we think that fact is real and imagination is illusion. It is the other way around. Fact is an illusion, because every fact is part of a story and is riddled with imagination. Imagination is real because every perception of the world around us is absolutely colored by the narrative or image-filled lens through which we perceive. We are all poets and artists as we live our daily lives, whether or not we recognize this role and whether or not we believe it."

Thomas Moore
While Scotty's ashes wait for another ride into space, and the world shakes with the news that Star Trek always had a gay character after all (Sulu came out a few weeks ago), you can relive their last movie together, Star Trek VI, its context and meaning today, right here at Soul of Star Trek.

And if you're interested, a tale about the Lost Star Trek 40th Anniversary Book.

And welcome to our humble planet to Olivia Ivory, newborn first grand-niece.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

fractal ami from Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

Imagination is the eye of the soul."

Joseph Joubert
Shame in Numbers

from San Francisco Chronicle

The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, enough to nearly fill the NFL's largest stadium.

Roughly 14,500 detainees remain in U.S. custody, primarily in Iraq.

In Iraq, the number in military custody hit a peak on Nov. 1, according to military figures.
Nearly 13,900 suspects were in U.S. custody there that day — partly because U.S. offensives in western Iraq put pressure on insurgents before the October constitutional referendum and December parliamentary elections.

Some 82,400 people have been detained by the military alone in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to figures from officials in Baghdad and Washington. Many are freed shortly after initial questioning.

An additional 700 detainees were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Just under 500 remain there now.

In Iraq, the Defense Department says 5,569 detainees have been held for more than six months, and 3,801 have been held more than a year. Some 229 have been locked up for more than two years.

Pentagon officials say those mistreated are relatively few when the sheer numbers are considered. Yet human rights groups say they don't know the extent of the abuse. "And there is no way anyone could, even if the military was twice as conscientious. It is unknowable, unless you assume that every act of abuse is immediately reported up the chain of command," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.

As of March, 108 detainees were known to have died in U.S. military and CIA custody, including 22 who died when insurgents attacked Abu Ghraib and others who died of natural causes. At least 26 deaths have been investigated as criminal homicides.

Last week, Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said that more than 400 criminal investigations have been conducted and 95 military personnel have been charged with misconduct. Seventy-five have been convicted.

Through the CIA, a much smaller prison population is maintained secretly by the agency and friendly governments. A network of known or suspected facilities — some of which have been closed — have been located in places including Thailand, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

About 100 to 150 people are believed to have been grabbed by CIA officers and sent to their home countries or to other nations where they were wanted for prosecution, a procedure called "rendition." Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are known to cooperate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mount Kawagebo in Tibet. Photo by Anazhu. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"Nature is imagination itself."

William Blake

Captain Future's Log

Watching A Car Wreck Is Not An Agenda

Chris Bowers at My DD writes that no President has recovered from poll numbers like those Bush is getting (including two new ones over the weekend and Monday.) T. Goddard's Political Wire had an item about research from James Carville and Stan Greenberg which shows an opening for Democrats because of Bushcorps fall from grace.

An opening, yes, but who is going to go through it? And how? And even, why?

So far it seems Democrats have watched Bushcorps self-destruct.
Tom Gilroy warns that Bushcorps isn't going to simply roll over and be dead. He reminds everyone that they are" a gang of fanatics who stole two elections in a row, invaded a country they knew couldn’t defend itself, and gave a male hustler White House security clearance." And they will continue their usually successful tactics of character assassination and Newspeak redefinition.

Sure enough, Bush is out on the hustings naming Democrats like Kerry and Harry Reid as traitors giving aid and comfort to the enemy with their criticisms of the king in wartime. It worked before. (See the New York Times editorial excerpted below for the truth.)

In the meantime, their demonic work goes on in Congress and through the Executive branch, with hoped-for help apparently coming from the courts, especially the Supreme Court in the future. As Gilroy writes, "As long as Democrats and their well-fed punditocracy measure Bush, et al with a yardstick of morality, popularity or ethics, they will never recapture the majority, and here’s why; Bush, et al aren’t driven by morality, popularity, or ethics. They’re driven by money."

But since you've read the Captain's log on privatization, you knew that.

Now that there's an opening, it becomes especially clear that the Democrats don't seem to have anybody ready to go through it, at least in terms of 2008 presidential candidates. Though John Kerry is more eloquent and forthright now, he is regarded as damaged goods, and the party would be nervous about returning to him, mostly because of a few evidences of bad judgment in who he depended on to run his campaign, and their advice (especially about his early concession.) Al Gore is liberated and becoming of all things a passionate orator, but has no organization or intention of running, and there seem to be too many hopefuls out there to allow him to play catch-up.

In the meantime, those named as hopefuls are a pretty undistinquished lot, mostly middle of the road milksops with all the eloquence, intellect and charisma of an electric shaver, or veterans of Washington politics who have run before and lost. Hillary Clinton has amassed the most money and has the best known name, but she's not getting much emotional commitment with her stand on the war.

In the meantime, John McCain is perfectly positioned to be a very strong Republican candidate. He's well known, well liked, and he's distancing himself from Bushcorps on key issues so he'll be one of the few clean Republicans when more of the whole sordid story is told. He's positioned to lead a reform movement within the Republican party and to bring independents to him.
Right now the Democrats don't appear to have anyone with his stature who is as good a candidate. And as we all learned twice in this decade, no Democrat is going to win a close election. That's what the Supreme Court and computer voting machines are for.

So 2008 is not necessarily the Promised Land, though fortunately there's a lot of time yet. But Democrats shouldn't be waiting around, or jockeying for position in the presidential sweepstakes. Their job is to retake Congress next year, and that's what they need to be focusing on.

Democrats should be articulating a solid set of principles, positions and policies, right now.

Fortunately for them, Captain Future is on the job. The emphasis here is going to be on the future, and on what needs to be done. It'll mean resisting the temptation to highlight even the most stupendous of Bushcorps outrages, at least outside the context of what needs to be done. It will probably take more time as well.

But you haven't really been keeping up with everything written and reproduced on this site anyway, have you? Maybe less is more. We may see.

Would you buy a used war from this man? Posted by Picasa
Who is Rewriting History? More Grist for the Bush Mill?

from "Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials" [excerpts; emphasis added]
New York Times editorial

Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.

It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.

Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.

Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.

It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics.

The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon.

The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003 that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The C.I.A. ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration's "hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than he had seen in his 32 years at the agency.

Mr. Bush and other administration officials say they faithfully reported what they had read. But Vice President Dick Cheney presented the Prague meeting as a fact when even the most supportive analysts considered it highly dubious. The administration has still not acknowledged that tales of Iraq coaching Al Qaeda on chemical warfare were considered false, even at the time they were circulated.

The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.

Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.


Betraying America

From "This Isn't the Real America"
LA Times Commentary
by President Jimmy Carter

IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican. These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation.

America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

Monday, November 14, 2005

by Magritte Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"What is imagination? Perhaps it is a shadow of the intangible truth, perhaps it is the soul's thought!"

H. Rider Haggard
On Nuke and Terrorist Threat: All Hat, No Cattle

from "US faulted on handling nuclear threat"
By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent

(Reuters) - The U.S. government is not doing enough to protect nuclear weapons from terrorists and its handling of terrorism suspects is undermining America's image in the Muslim world, members of a commission that investigated the September 11 attacks said on Monday.

Although President George W. Bush calls arms proliferation the country's biggest threat and al Qaeda has sought nuclear weapons for a decade, the former commission's chairman Thomas Kean said, "the most striking thing to us is that the size of the problem still totally dwarfs the policy response."

"In short, we still do not have a maximum effort against the most urgent threat ... to the American people," he told a news conference, noting that half the nuclear materials in Russia still have no security upgrade.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Trinidad CA coast. Kowinski photo. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"Just as the ocean is an intermediate realm, a template between the crust of the Earth and the atmosphere, so is the imagination an intermediate realm, a template between matter and spirit."

William Irwin Thompson