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Saturday, March 11, 2006

The recent bombings in Benares (I don't recall its "new" name, offhand ... oh, it's 'Varanasi') remind us that terrorism is real. We are so inured to the lies of the Bushies, it seems, that perhaps we'd forgotten that there are still people out there who want to get us, and, perhaps, we've even forgotten who those people are.

Police detain suspects in Varanasi bombings
Mar 11, 2006, 12:49 GMT

New Delhi [Deutsche Presse-Agentur] - Investigators detained eight suspects in connection with the bombings in India's temple city of Varanasi that killed 20 people, local media reported Saturday... Two bombings were carried out by suspected Muslim militants in Varanasi, considered Hinduism's holiest city on March 7. More than 50 people were injured.

One of the blasts occurred at the Sankatmochan temple, a popular shrine dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman, and the other detonated at a railway station.

The NDTV reported that the police is also looking into the role of Abdul Salar, a top militant of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit, as a mastermind behind the explosions. Salar, was killed hours after the bombings in the state capital Lucknow, which lies about 280 kilometres north-west of Varanasi.

Earlier, an unknown militant group, the Lashkar-e-Qahab claimed responsibility for the bombings. But Indian intelligence agencies said it was a ploy by the LeT which is behind several attacks in India to mislead investigations.

The LeT has been accused of carrying out the bombings at markets in New Delhi in October that killed over 60 people, and the modus operandi followed in those blasts was similar to the Varanasi bombings.
Lashkar-e-Toiba, or Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, or Lashkar-e-Taiba is one happy bunch of thugs. OK, 'thugs' derives from the 'Thuggee' or the devotees of Kali, the Goddess of Death in the Hindu religion, and is religiously oxymoronic. (cf. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" for details.)

All right, a better term for LeT would be 'assassins,' which derives from Hassan I Sabbah's
"secret islamic order originating in the 11th century who believed it was a religious duty to harass and murder their enemies. The most important members of the order were those who actually did the killing. Having been promised paradise in return for dying in action, the killers, it is said, were made to yearn for paradise by being given a life of pleasure that included the use of hashish. From this came the name for the secret order as a whole, hassasin, "hashish users." After passing through French or Italian, the word came into English and is recorded in 1603 with reference to the Muslim Assassins." [American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, 2000]
The legend of Sabbah (sometimes called "Hassan ibn Sabba") is eerily apt, given our present situation. from Wikipedia:
From a high mountain fortress, Ibn al-Sabbah directed a ruthless campaign against the overlords of other sects in Persia, Iraq and Syria. Northwest of Qazvin, atop the Alborz Mountains, on a lonely ridge 6000 feet above the sea, stood the castle of Alamut (eagle's nest). Commanding a royal view of the valley below, accessible only by a single, almost vertical pathway, the remote fortress was an ideal hideout and headquarters. In 1090, Hasan seized the fortress of Alamut, and the castle henceforth received the name of the Abode of Fortune. The position of Alamut caused its prince to receive the title Shaykh al Jabal "Prince of the Mountain", and the double sense of the word Shaykh, which means both prince and old man, has occasioned the historians of the Crusades and the celebrated Marco Polo, to call him the "Old Man of the Mountain."

His feared organization's sinister name came from its member's ritual use of the drug hashish, the popular Arabic name for hashish smokers. For the immediate attainment of their objects, the order was less in need of heads than arms; and did not employ pens, but daggers, whose points were everywhere, while their hilts were in the hand of the grandmaster. With poison and dagger as their means of dealing death to carefully selected victims, the fedaviyan (Modern Persian, from Arabic Fida'iyin "Who are Ready to Sacrifice their Lives for the Cause") struck terror wherever they appeared. From 1090-1256 CE, the Assassins unsettled everyone who opposed them. Amirs, governors of cities, commanders of fortresses, and even religious dignitaries all took to wearing a coat of chain mail at all times.

Hassan ibn as-Sabba conditioned and organized a band of fearless political killers such as had never been seen before. His method of indoctrination was unique. He constructed a secret garden and furnished it with all the delights promised in the Qur'an to the faithful when they reached paradise. chosen were drugged, one or two at a time, and taken to this garden by night. When they woke up in the morning they were surrounded by beautiful and scantily clad women who would minister to their every need and desire. After being allowed to savor this false - but pleasant and sensual - paradise for a day or so, they were again drugged before being taken back to awaken in their own squalid hovel or cave dwelling. To them, it was as if it had been a vivid dream. Hæsæn-e Sæbba then sent for them, told them God had given them a preview of Paradise, and surprised them by telling them exactly what each had been up to while in the secret garden. So successful was he in this method of conditioning and indoctrination that it was said he once astounded a visiting amir whom he wanted to impress with his power by sending for one of his men and ordering him to kill himself - which he immediately did.

When an Assassin was sent out by Ibn as-Sabba to carry out some violent death, the Assassin was just as dedicated. So convinced were the Assassins that they would be rewarded in paradise that they never hesitated to fulfill their missions of murder, even though this often meant their victims' bodyguards would kill them immediately afterward.
So, in that light, we'll call Lashkar-e-Toiba 'assassins,' rather than 'thugs.'

Now that's ironed out (or mangled, according to your interpretation), we find this interesting note

from the South Asia Terrorism Portal (2001)

'Army of the Pure'

The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), reportedly one of the largest terrorist outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is also suspected of involvement in the December 13, 2001 attack on India's Parliament in New Delhi. ...

1. Formation

Formed in 1990 in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, the Lashkar-e-Toiba is the military wing of the Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), an Islamic fundamentalist organisation of the Ahle-Hadith sect in Pakistan. The MDI is based in Muridke near Lahore, Pakistan and is headed by Prof. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is also the Amir of the LeT. Its first presence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was recorded in 1993 ....

2. Objectives

The Lashkar-e-Toiba was first involved in the Mujahideen resistance against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the Nineteen Eighties and early Nineties. Subsequently, it began operations in J&K. It was actively promoted by Pakistan's external intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), since 1996 ... the ISI infiltrates a considerable number of Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries in [Kashmir]. This is to ensure control over the terrorist violence and promote an Islamic orthodoxy, a goal that the Pakistani state has been following since the Nineteen Seventies.

The LeT's professed ideology goes beyond merely challenging India's sovereignty over the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Lashkar's 'agenda', as outlined in a pamphlet titled Why are we waging jihad includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India...It seeks to bring about a union of all Muslim majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan. Towards that end, it is active in J&K, Chechnya and other parts of Central Asia. The outfit had claimed that it had assisted the Taliban militia and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan during November and December 2002 in their fight against the US aided Northern Alliance....
But, happily, the Reagan Administration had a huge hand in all of this, back from our days of training and arming the mujahadeen in Afghanistan ...
DEMOCRACY NOW! (transcript)
Thursday, June 10th, 2004
Ghost Wars: How Reagan Armed the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan

AMY GOODMAN: Very good to have you with us. You write that the CIA, the KGB, Pakistan's ISI and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Department all operated directly and secretly in Afghanistan. They primed Afghan factions with cash and weapons, secretly trained guerrilla forces, funded propaganda and manipulated politics. In the midst of the struggles, Bin Laden conceived and built his global organization. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of this history which you to say the least, very comprehensively deal with in "Ghost Wars?"

STEVE COLL: Well, it of course begins in 1979 when the Soviets invaded during the Carter administration, and it really swelled between 1981 and 1985. Essentially, under Bill Casey, the CIA created a three-part intelligence alliance to fund and arm the Mujahadeen, initially to harass Soviet occupation forces and eventually they embraced the goal of driving them out. The three-way alliance in each of the parties had a distinct role to play. The Saudi, their intelligence service primarily provided cash. Each year the congress would secretly allocate a certain amount of money to support the CIA's program. After that allocation was complete, the US Intelligence liaison would fly to Riyadh and the Saudis would write a matching check. The US role was to provide logistics and technological support as well as money. The Saudis collaborated with Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, to really run the war on the front lines. It was the Pakistani army, in particular the ISI, that picked the political winners and losers in the jihad, and who favored radical Islamist factions because it suited the Pakistan's army goal of pacifying Afghanistan, a long-time unruly neighbor to the west, whose ethnic Pashtun nationalism the army feared. The army saw Islam not only as a motivating force in the anti-Soviet jihad, but as an instrument of Pakistan's regional policy to control Afghanistan. The US acquiesced with all of this in part because they thought that the only purpose that brought them to the region was to drive the Soviets out, and they didn't really care about local politics. But also because after Vietnam, the generation of CIA officers involved in this program were scarred by their experiences in Southeast Asia, and they essentially operated under a mantra of no more hearts and minds for us. We're not good at picking winners and losers in a developing world. Let's let the Pakistanis decide who carries this jihad forward. That's how the favoritism of the radical Islamic factions was born and nurtured...

Which brings us to this very interesting article from a group whose web administrator is in Florida, and whose server is located in India. (I looked it up).

["Pakistan Facts is run by a diverse group of individuals from across the world, sharing common concerns regarding Pakistan's continued support for terrorism and nuclear proliferation." Take that as you will.]

The truth about Lashkar-e-Taiba
Friday, May 21 2004 @ 09:40 PM Central Daylight Time

Pakistan Terrorism
by Kaushik Kapisthalam

When it comes to the common terrorist thread between Willie Brigitte, Izhar-ul-Haque, David Hicks and Faheem Lodhi, Australians constantly hear the name "Lashkar-e-Taiba" (LeT) bandied about. Given the preponderance of LeT connections to terror plans within Australia therefore, it is critical that Australians understand the origins and activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba. To begin with, one must be disabused of the notion that the LeT is a "Kashmiri" group. It is not. The LeT was founded in Pakistan and is made up of mostly Pakistani Punjabis with a smattering of Afghans, Arabs, Bangladeshis, South East Asians and the occasional Western or Indian Muslim recruit. To understand the LeT, it is critical to appreciate its position in the Pakistani as well as the global jihadist movement.

Islamists today are a fractious bunch, but they can agree on the notion that the creation of a 'pure' Islamic state represents the best hope for salvation in both this world and the next, and as such Muslims everywhere are obliged to strive for such a goal. The Jihadist movement represents a subset of Islamists who intensely believe that near-perpetual war, pursued by any and all means against the unbeliever offers the best way to meet their obligations and make the Islamist dream real. In particular those inspired by the 18th century Saudi preacher Ibn Abd al-Wahhab - often known as 'Wahhabis' or 'Salafis'- are among the most persistent, energetic and emphatic promoters of this kind of jihad.

Salafis have been active since the 19th century in the sub-continent, where they are also became known as the "Ahle-Hadith" (People following the Prophet's Tradition.) The connections were renewed as thousands of Arabs armed with billions of petro-dollars streamed in to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. One result was the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the "Army of the Pure" is the jihadi or military expression of the Pakistani Ahle-Hadith movement.

While the Salafi LeT represents one part of the Pakistani jihadi community, the other major grouping consists of the more numerous Deobandi sect with terrorist groups like the Sipah-i-Sahaba-Pakistan (SSP) Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM.) Unlike the Ahle-Hadith, the Deobandis have built a powerful political movement within Pakistan but their political participation has also resulted in periodic bouts of serious tension with the Pakistani Army, which although highly supportive of jihad in Afghanistan and India, nevertheless brooks no challenge to its vice-like grip on political power within the nation. In contrast, the LeT led Ahle-Hadith movement has traditionally stayed apolitical and instead focused on its main goal - the dream of establishing an Islamic Caliphate that stretches from Indonesia to Morocco, including Northern Australia by means of a violent jihad.

Due to its eschewing of political confrontation with the Pakistani army and thanks to the strength of its ties to Saudi Arabia the LeT steadily grew in to one of the largest and most capable jihadist groups in Pakistan, despite the relatively small size of the Ahle Hadith followers in that nation. Even though the LeT elects not to take part in politics, it does have an unarmed wing, the Markaz Da'wa wal-Irshad (MDI) or "Centre for Religious Learning and Social Welfare". At the inspiration and by some accounts seed money from Osama bin Laden, Pakistani Salafists Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of the University of Engineering and Technology of Lahore, founded the MDI in 1987. One of the other founding fathers of the MDI was Palestinian promoter and scholar of jihad Abdullah Azzam of the Muslim Brotherhood. Azzam was also one of the inspirations behind the creation of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Many consider Azzam the "Godfather" of the modern jihadist movements. Azzam was in fact the religious and political mentor of Osama Bin Laden and the inspiration behind the "Arab-Afghan" phenomenon of international, particularly Arab volunteers hijacking local conflicts involving Muslims in the name of Islam and turning them into a part of a global jihad. To this day, Lashkar uses Azzam's speeches and publications to train and motivate its cadres. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, before it renamed itself "Jamaat-ud-Dawa"(JuD) in 2002, linked on its website to the Hamas official website and the then English mouthpiece of al Qaeda, Azzam.com. Before Israeli forces killed him, Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin routinely addressed LeT rallies in Pakistan through phone. It is to be noted that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed became the supreme leader or the "Emir" of the LeT following Azzam's death.

The 190 acres large headquarters of the MDI/LeT is located in the town of Muridke, about 45 kilometres from Lahore. Its vast campus contains a huge mosque for the construction of which Osama bin Laden had reportedly contributed 10 million Pakistani Rupees, along with a garment factory, an iron foundry; a wood works factory, a swimming pool and three residential colonies for the volunteers. During the days of the US-Saudi funded jihad in Afghanistan to drive out the Soviets, the MDI was allowed its LeT volunteers to fight along with the Afghan Mujahideen. The Muridke campus also served as a base camp for Arab fighters to rest and recuperate and even train for jihad.

Reports say that Bin Laden also paid for the construction of a lavish and secure guesthouse in the LeT's Muridke campus. Other than staying in the guesthouse occasionally, Bin Laden also used to chair LeT's annual conclaves. After he became a global fugitive in the early to mid 1990s, Bin Laden preferred not to stay in the Muridke guesthouse due to security concerns. While Osama bin Laden stopped attending LeT's annual moots, he has addressed them over the phone until a few years ago from his hideout in the Sudan and, since after 1996 from Afghanistan. Addressing the November 1997 LeT annual meeting on the phone from Kandahar, bin Laden reportedly said: "Those who oppose jihad are not true Muslims." The LeT like other Pakistani jihadist groups also benefited greatly from Al Qaeda training at its camps in Afghanistan. In those camps, LeT fighters gained access to suicide bombing techniques, learned how to build large truck bombs that could destroy reinforced concrete structures, how to conduct surveillance on targets without being noticed, how to plan for spectacular operations covertly etc.

It was only after the Mujahideen's capture of Kabul in 1992 that the LeT aimed its attention on Kashmir. Urged on and materially assisted by the ISI, Pakistan's sinister intelligence agency, with whom it had a working relationship during the Afghan jihad, the LeT started a mass recruitment campaign in Pakistan to fight Indian troops in Kashmir. Though the LeT's nominal goal was to help Pakistan annex Kashmir, it fit in well with its grand plans of establishing an Islamic Caliphate. The LeT saw Hindu majority India as an obstacle on par with the US and Israel to the Islamist dream of creating a unified empire that spans the entire Muslim world. At a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on February 18,1996, LeT's Emir Saeed said: "The jihad in Kashmir would soon spread to entire India. Our Mujahideen would create three Pakistans in India." The LeT is still active in Kashmir while simultaneously being faithful to its original goal.

To finance its day-to-day activities, the LeT leverages its contacts in Saudi Arabia as well as launches donation campaigns with overseas Pakistanis, especially middle class and wealthy Punjabis in Britain, Australia and the Middle East. According to Jane's Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, Osama bin Laden has also financed LeT activities until recently. The LeT, under its new name JuD, uses its outreach networks including schools, social service groups and religious publications to attract and brainwash recruits for jihad in Kashmir and other places.

While LeT apologists try to use its connection to Kashmir to palm it off as a "Kashmiri freedom fighter" group, the reality is that it has always used brutal terrorist tactics in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. LeT members have perpetrated and even claimed responsibility for scores of attacks on Hindu pilgrims, temples and innocent farmers. In fact, the LeT boldly claimed responsibility for a May 2002 attack on the wives and children of Indian troops at a time of war-like situation between India and Pakistan. European Union External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten noted at that time that he was repulsed by the sheer savagery of the attack where sleeping infants were machine-gunned to death at close range. Despite this, the LeT openly praised the attack and glorified it on its website.
[This was reprinted from a longer article on an Australian website. Here's the link, but it was dead when I tried it.

http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2004/05/18-0003.html ]

I know. It's been a lot of reading. But it's important, every once in a while to understand who is attacking us, WHY they are doing so, and with whose money, weapons and training they are doing it.

Yup. Just like Saddam Hussein: another American Death Index Investment gone bad.

You suppose it's too late to withdraw our funds from that market? (Or, do you hold, conversely, that there ain't no such thing as karma, or birds coming home to roost, etc.?)

Either way, we are all Indians today, just as the world stood with us on 9-11.

Just because you're paranoid ....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

There is a truth that I know to be so, but I don't know how I know it, except that I've watched it over the years, and it has never failed. I didn't get it from a scripture, or a book, or a wise teaching. One day I just noticed it, and later, I noticed that the literature bore me out.

Process is important. The endings of any process are present at the beginning of the process. The seed contains the whole in a strange way.

That's not really anything cosmikal (sic), or deep or profound or anything like that. It's just an observation that gives a lens with which to understand history, whether personal or public memories.

There's a news story running in the local newspaper today. Tuesday was the last day to file for political office, and a sitting judge at the last minute did not file for re-election. Only trouble is, he'd called another fellow, and told him to "get his paperwork ready." When the filing deadline loomed, the judge pulled his filing, and the other fellow filed his papers.

Fait accompli. Only one filing for that judicial seat, and so, victory by default. A quick, sly maneuver to win the game by exploiting a technicality of the rules. Many years ago, I remember watching a college football team pull a slick little play in the last minute of a close game. They were behind by three points. They threw a short pass to the running back, who dropped it. And all their players, stopped, as though it was an incomplete pass, and ran back to the huddle. The other team ran back to their huddle. But it had been a lateral.

And one player picked up the ball and ran into the end zone.

It had been a live ball. The whistle never blew.

It was a legal play, of course. But it was, really, about cheating the spirit of the game.

In the same manner, the judge and his crony cheated the election game. Now, they wail with great crocodile tears that they have done nothing illegal. And, according to an Ethics Officer of some Protocol, it's the first instance of this 'trick play' that he can recall for a judicial seat.

But I have to ask you: would YOU be comfortable in asking for 'justice' from a judge so anointed? There is a fundamental disconnect here, an oxymoronic innocence. 'We didn't break the law' seems to equate to 'we haven't done anything wrong' in the minds of our 'justices.'

Because that's what it's about, after all. JUSTICE.

The preamble to the Constitution ought to have as much weight as any of the rest of it. It's a mission statement, but I don't recall it beginning: "In order to diddle the law."


It actually begins: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Let's try that again: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice ..." Establish Justice.

Not justice with a little 'j.' Justice with a BIG 'J.'

So let's compare that Justice to the sleazy trick these two good old boys used to slither Rufus into Jethro's seat.

Or, let's compare Rufus and Jethro to the sleazy way that the Supreme Court not only handed the election to Dubya in 2000, but the slimy manner that they carefully states (in a 5-4 decision, a sheer exercise of political muscle) that Bush v. Gore wasn't actually real law, because its precedent didn't apply to any future cases.

And look at the sleazy way that they've been packing the Federal Bench with Federalist Society cronies, the slimy way that they danced Roberts and Alito before us with their families, their color-coordinated Victorian regalia, their dancing sons and weeping wives.

And then ask yourself: how does that differ in any manner other than magnitude from what our local yokels have tried to pull off to start Rufus' stint dispensing "Justice."

And consider "Justice" Alito and "Chief Justice" Roberts, and I tell you, the statue of Justice might be blind, but she's also been stripped naked, and made an object of fun for the jeering lynch mob that's agin' "Legislatin' from the bench."

Of course, if they make up stuff that the Dittoheads LIKE, it's perfectly OK to legislate from the bench -- you know, like Bush v. Gore.

But can we call this "Justice"?

I think not.

But what is so odd is how these "Judges" carry themselves with an air of injured dignity. How could WE judge them? It's enough that Scalia and Cheney say that nothing's wrong as they go off on a duck hunting trip (It hasn't been recorded whether the ducks were staked down or not). Just because Cheney has a case pending before Scalia's court, why, there's nothing AGAINST THE LAW about it. Nobody's broke any RULES, right?

They are innocents, you see. They no more appreciate what "Justice" is than a sea sponge appreciates Modigliani. The magnificent spirit of the Law, what it means, what it stands for -- that Preamble to our Constitution -- is completely invisible to them. Sadly, their innocence is also their guilt.

But, as I've heard the voices rehashing the tale today, nobody seems to be able to explain what it is that bothers them about it. Meaningless polysyllabics drop from pinched mouths. How about this: It's WRONG. A puppy dog or a child of five could see it, but evidently all the Wise and Learned talking heads in town can't. And so, mired in complexities they miss the point: It's a fundamental betrayal of what "Justice" is, and the Emperor has no clothes.

But the voices chatter on, finding empty nuance, diagnosing knowingly without ever naming the malady.

I feel as though I've slipped through the looking glass into Bizarro World. (Or, for my Talmudic friends, I feel like I've fallen down the Rabbi hole.) The funhouse mirror reflects that "Justice" with jagged, distorted, frightening forms.

In fact, it has become so distorted that we cannot even read the word itself. It is merely an abstract form, stretched and twisted out of any relevance to its genesis. We are lost in a sinister funhouse, being stalked by vicious clowns. (Metaphorically, of course.)

No: the way that a thing begins contains the whole process, and I look forward, down the river, and there, on the banks of Denial, there is no place for Justice to sun herself.

There is only room for the slick shysters; the tricksters, the swindlers, the embezzlers, the cronies, the corrupt and that vast legion of the damned who "technically never broke any law."

That beach is terrifically crowded.

Hey! They didn't break any laws, right? Right?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hart's little serenity prayer (take a moment to savor its calming and restorative powers. I promise that you will need it for what's to come):
[INVOKE DEITY HERE], grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; and the balls to change the things I can't accept.
World War III is underway, but the criminals in the Capitol have just sold out our rights.

And somehow, even if the Supreme Court managed to find the huevos to declare the NSA wiretapping illegal, and the secret prisons illegal, and the broken international laws and treaties illegal, and the invasions illegal, and the illegal detention and murder illegal, and the wholesale looting of the treasury illegal ... well, I don't think the Supreme Court police would be equal to the task. There's a hire order out for one.

I found it on the Government jobs web site last week, when I was looking for what a Supreme Court clerk earns. The job description reads:
February 17, 2006

POSITION: Police Officer
Supreme Court Police

DESCRIPTION: Serves as a uniformed police officer with the Supreme Court of the United States. Responsible for providing a full range of police services. Supreme Court Police Officers are primarily responsible for protecting the Chief Justice, Associate Justices, building occupants, and the Court's building and grounds. Additional responsibilities include Courtroom security, dignitary protection, emergency response, and providing assistance to building visitors.


-A high school diploma is required.
-A Bachelor's degree is required.
-Prior experience as a sworn police officer with a thorough knowledge of law enforcement techniques and practices may be substituted for Bachelor's degree.
-Applicants must be mature, reliable, skilled in oral and written communication and have excellent interpersonal skills.
-Applicants must have no record of felony convictions, and must not currently be involved in any pending criminal charges.
-Applicants who possess prior military service must have been separated under honorable conditions (honorable discharge).
-Applicants must be US citizens, at least 21 years of age, but not yet 37 years of age at the date of appointment. (The maximum age may be waived with prior qualifying federal law enforcement service.)
-Applicants must be licensed to drive and have an excellent driving record.
-Employment is subject to successful completion of a medical exam, which includes rigorous fitness standards, and a background investigation.

SALARY: $48,354 -- Entry level, non-certified
$50,048 -- With documentation of graduation from the MBPT at FLETC or after completion of training (6 months)
$56,119 -- (After 30 months - Private First Class)

-Excellent benefits, premium pay, and eligibility for retirement with 20 years of service at age 50, or 25 years service at any age.

CLOSING DATE: March 10, 2006 (close of business)

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Please FAX Optional Forms 306 and 612*, which are required, along with RESUME and COVER LETTER to (202) 479-3076.

*Applications submitted without Optional Forms 306 and 612 will not be considered.
Fax Number: 202-479-3076 Phone Number: 202-479-3404

-Best qualified applicants will be invited by letter to take a written test at a date and time to be determined.

-Applicants who pass the written test will be contacted to schedule an interview.

NOTE: Travel to Washington, DC, will be at the applicant's expense.

*Optional Forms 306 can 612 can be obtained from www.usajobs.opm.gov
Which I repost here, in case you need the job. Hurry, though it closes in two days.

But, even if they hire Mr. T for the Supreme Court Police, I don't think they'll be able to stop the gang rape of the Constitution that happened on the Hill this week.

We are, fellow citizens, well and truly fucked.

I wish I could say it in a less offensive manner, but you can't step in shit and report it as a foot massage in pearlessence cream. We have been betrayed by a criminal government, and that's not hyperbole.

That's straight up fact.

Yesterday, they repassed the Patriot Act, which some legal experts note infringes on five of the first ten amendments (for you college graduates, that would be the "Bill of Rights.")

Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II - Right to bear arms. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III - Quartering of soldiers. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV - Search and seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI - Right to speedy trial, confrontation of witnesses. Ratified 12/15/1791.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

[Void Where Prohibited by Law]
At least they're not quartering troops in our homes. Yet.

And, in the Senate, the Republicans voted NOT to investigate the NSA wiretapping program (neatly flushing the Fourth and, to an extent, Fifth Amendments down the toilet.)

This is happily in line with the widely reported Monday news story that more Americans can name members of the fictional "Simpsons" family than can name the five rights enumerated in the First Amendment.

(Alas, your Humble Correspondent can name both, which makes him a freakish anomaly, according to the story.)

Here, from THE READING EAGLE (PA - I include it because I love the name, sounds kinda cartoony don't it?)

March 07, 2006
Ignorance of rights putting them in peril
The Issue: A survey shows that Americans are more aware of "The Simpsons" than their freedoms under the First Amend-ment.

Our Opinion: If Americans are unaware of what their freedoms are, they won't realize those freedoms are being eroded until is too late to do much about it.

At a time when the government is steadily chipping away at our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, it's disheartening to learn that the American public knows more about a bunch of cartoon characters than about the First Amendment.

For those who were sleeping during civics class, the First Amendment provides us with the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition.

These freedoms form the foundation on which our American way of life has been constructed over the past 229 years. These are the freedoms that have drawn so many people from all over the world to our shores. These are the freedoms for which so many have risked so much. These are the freedoms for which so many have died.

And these are the freedoms of which most Americans are appallingly ignorant.

In a study conducted by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in Chicago, only one in four Americans could name even one of the five First Amendment freedoms.

However, more than half of those surveyed could name at least two of the characters on "The Simpsons."

It gets worse.

Nearly one in four of the respondents could name all five of the main characters on "The Simpsons," but only one in 1,000 people contacted in the survey could name all five freedoms.

Asked to name just three of the freedoms, more people were able to name the three judges on "American Idol."
It's junk news, of course. The classic "Why Johnnie Can't Read" snark, but it is instructive. Jefferson and Adams, Washington and Franklin knew that our democracy depended on an educated and informed public -- a fact conveniently forgotten by our war hawks in Vietnam and now in Iraq, acting as though democracy were a franchise like a Dairy Queen where any idiot can run it, as long as they keep the franchise manual on hand. Like McDonald's where every detail has been tediously mapped out.

But, alas, democracy ain't like that, and the conscious dumbing down of America -- by yanking civics and government classes from high school curricula in the Reagan Era -- is now bearing fruit. Too many Homer Simpsons say: "Well, if the Administration is listening to BAD GUYS, that's OK, then."

And, "I don't have anything to hide, so I don't mind them wiretapping. Keeps me safe."

It's very important that fundamental documents like the Declaration aren't read. If Johhnie were allowed to read (and not force-fed "American Idol" he wouldn't be an Idle American):
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
Johnnie doesn't recognize that, but he probably knows the prior sentence:

"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness --"
We've been cut off at the em-dash.

Let me tell you a story that I didn't understand at the time. I have long wondered why I didn't write it down, but my writing mind is funny. The words do not go onto the page until they are ready. That's not my choice. That's my PROCESS' choice. Call it my muse, or my subconscious, or whatever. It is the daemon on my writing shoulder that's kept me hitting deadlines for thirty-plus years now. And now, it tells me, it's time:

When I was an Oregon delegate to and an Indymedia reporter (for the Los Angeles FREE PRESS) at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, two delegations were housed in our hotel, located way out in Westwood. The Oregon delegation and the Iowa delegation occupied side-by-side meeting rooms downstairs, and every morning, we would dutifully trudge down to have our breakfast, see the latest Democratic Star speak, and have a couple of Senators schmooze us -- which is how I met John Kerry, as chronicled in one of the FREE PRESS dispatches.

But what struck me was how the Iowa delegation was as lily-white as Eugene, perhaps, but the Oregon delegation was weirdly Western diverse in a weirdly Western way.

But both delegations boasted the same archetypes, and both were strangely naieve -- impressed to be in fabulous Hollywood, California, etc. Tourists, in other words.

Well, I lived in Hollywood for thirteen years, and we saw their type all the time. No big thing. Just another busload of McDonald's munchers headed for Disneyland.

Which reminded me of the thing I first saw when I got to Hollywood, fresh from New Mexico and three years in Texas: of course, we HAD to go to Disneyland. And what I noticed was how many earphones tucked discretely behind the ears there were at Disneyland.

The "Happiest Place on Earth" was -- admittedly and unashamedly, as I would learn -- a police state. There isn't going to be any trouble at the "Happiest Place on Earth" and they've got an astonishing number of plain clothes cops and surveillance camera equipment everywhere. I suppose I should have been having too much fun to notice, but I noticed it anyway. There is something in the presumption that one is a criminal that is degrading to the spirit, I think.

The reason that I started noticing was because they constantly fed us into waiting lines that were, in essence, teak-railed cattle pens.

And, because I'd spent a lot of time around cows and cowboys, I couldn't lose the uncomfortable feeling that we were being herded into a feedlot or a slaughterhouse. It was profoundly disturbing -- so much so that my first visit to Disneyland was never all that happy. We spent most of our time waiting in cattle gates, endless mazes that neatly snaked infinite lines into as small a serpentine as possible.

Why is this important?

I'll tell you why.

Because, using the same sorts of "there ain't gonna be any trouble" mentality, the LAPD had created a Disneyland police-state circus around us. They had literally taken construction machinery in a rough circular perimeter of, say, 100 yards, using the Staples Center as the anchor point for their compass, and, indiscriminately ramming three-inch steel poles through sidewalk, street, parking lot or dirt, put up a ten-foot fence around the Democratic National Convention.

There were demonstrations, but they were so far away from us (who were mostly inside most of the time, anyway) that they might as well have not been.

Every morning I saw those Iowa people.

And every day, I was more and more astonished that a free people would allow this military perimeter, this police state completely stifle free speech in the name of democracy. There was, then, the armed camp mentality, the overabundance of police, the endless concrete barriers and barricades that we've grown used to over the past six years, but, for the moment, for the end of the Clinton presidency, and the anointment of Albert Gore as the Democratic nominee for the presidency, we were the inmates of Kamp Disneyland, in the Land of the Reaganistas, Kalifornia, a kinder, gentler fascism. SWAT teams in Mickey Mouse ears.

It was astonishing to me, inured to it already. It was a level of Southern California police state that shocked even me, who'd grown used to it over thirteen years.

I remember riding on the (charter) bus from the hotel with the Attorney General of Iowa, and as we chatted about nothing in particular -- for we had nothing in common, except that we were both delegates, and on the same bus -- I noticed as the Hollywood freeway merged onto the Pasadena freeway for downtown (right where that great mural of the Old Woman and Planet Earth is or was, or whatever, and after I'd seen that the Western Exterminator Man was still bending, with the hammer hidden behind his back, talking to the bug that he's obviously about to bludgeon to death, a stream of thirty motorcycle cops pulled onto the freeway, and formed a phalanx, like a flight of World War Two B-17Gs over the Channel.

Did I mention that the freeways were all but deserted? (How they pulled off that miracle, I can only guess at).

I would walk the four blocks south from Staples center, hiding my delegate's badge under my shirt, and pulling out my Indymedia Center press pass from its hiding place. Underneath the overpass on I-10, just between the Patriot Building, or whatever it was called (there was a giant five-storey mural of the "Spirit of '76" fife, drummer, flag-carrying patriots facing the Staples Center, a testament to Wacko Southern California Patriotism) and underneath that I-10 underpass, reserve Sheriff's deputies had their cruisers parked on the (empty) sidewalks, and were playing fake ninja games with their shotguns because they were bored out of their skulls guarding streets that were blocked off to all but pedestrian traffic, and, as the song says, nobody walks in L.A.

When I went back, they had to run my little holographic DNC 2000 ID through a reader, and they ran me through a metal detector, and a suspiciously wet-behind-the-ears private security screener would go through any bags I was carrying.

Just like going into an airport.

But this was to exercise our Democratic (and democratic) franchise.

And I thought: Dear Sweet Jesus, doesn't ANYBODY see?

It was a fundamental contradiction in terms: this police perimeter (the troops in Kosovo weren't as secure as we were), the command helicopter eternally hovering, at point, just a few blocks north, on Figueroa. The endless comings and goings of police convoys, cars, motorcycles. The deputies with shotguns at deserted street corners, their cars parked contemptuously on the sidewalks ...

And I remember hearing a little old lady from that Iowa delegation one morning, saying to no one in particular, "I'm so glad they're keeping us safe." And several members of the Oregon and the Iowa delegations nodded in assent ...

Including the Attorney General of Iowa.

And I thought, oh dear sweet Jesus, we are well and truly fucked.

It wasn't until today that I knew exactly what I meant by that.

As long as we dumb fucking farm hicks were being protected by the Los Angeles Police Department (whose academy trained the Shah's notorious SAVAK secret police, and more banana republic gestapo, torturers and death squads than you can shake an electrode at), well, as long as we were SAFE, this wasn't chilling.

Why, it was positively FESTIVE!
"WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved ..."
I didn't say anything then. How could I?

But I'm saying it now: are you happy now? Do you feel safer now that they're tapping your phone, monitoring your internet email, and maybe opening your mail if you're on the wrong mailing lists?

Are you still feeling so "safe" in the big city?

It was about intimidation when Hitler got the Reichstag Assembly to pass the enabling act -- which essentially gave the Chancellor unlimited powers "for the duration of the national emergency" which, thereafter, the Chancellor made certain never ended.

And the way they did it was by surrounding the temporary meeting house with Brownshirts. The meaning was clear: voting against the bill might get you beaten to death, while no one came to your defense.

It was a common enough occurrence, as any Jewish citizen of Berlin could tell you.

It was about intimidation then.

And, watching the Republicans knuckle under to the repassage of the Patriot Act, and backing off any investigation of widespread lawbreaking, I can't help but think of the intimidation that's taken hold again.

We don't beat you up with uniformed thugs, these days. (Well, not that often, at least). No: what we do is sic the Limbaughs, the Larsons, the Cybercast News Services, World Net Dailys (Joseph Farah is former Los Angeles HERALD-EXAMINER editor, now living in Grant's Pass Oregon, with a "newspaper" that often features Coulter, Dobson, Hannity, and all the other standard attack monkeys) and the religious media, et al on you.

And, clearly, there is intimidation going on behind closed doors. It's always astonishing to watch some Republican or Democrat suddenly cave in to Administration wishes. Arlen Specter, an allegedly "pro-choice" Republican not only didn't offer any opposition to Samuel "I will overturn Roe" Alito's nomination at the hearings, but he actively turned them into a Kangaroo Court, stifling any serious dissent.

But the whole time he looked like a man who knows his wife and children are being held with a gun to their heads, and will only be returned, safe and sound, AFTER Spector throws the game.

And throw it he did.

The intimidation factor isn't talked about, mostly because we expect it to come in the form of Brownshirted thugs.

Do any of us doubt that the Bushies have used their policing powers to dig up dirt on their own senators and congressmen? That they threaten and intimidate to get their way?

And, while we are sad, we ought not be surprised.

The fact that the Republicans are as spineless as the Democrats should not surprise us. The fact that they have sold our freedom so cheap should outrage us.

But we sit like that lady from Iowa, oblivious to the police state, only impatient for our turn to ride on the Matterhorn.

And, if you're like most people who waited two hours in line for it at Disneyland, once you've finished the ride, you're going to wonder what the big deal was all about.

No, fellow citizen, you and I are well and truly fucked. They're dancing on the Constitution right in front of our eyes, and we're like that lady from Iowa, oblivious and happy. It never occurs to us that it is, finally, impossible to exercise democracy surrounded by a police state.

Or, that our very existence is predicated on the good will of the police chief.

So I should have seen this coming, but, alas, I didn't.

But there is hope. Bush's approval rating is 34%. Which means that two out of every three Americans don't approve of what's going on. Two-thirds in the Senate would equal conviction and removal from office. A mere majority in the House would be sufficient for impeachment. If this is (ultimately) a representative democracy, a republic, then those numbers would demand action. Certainly they are intimidating numbers to any politician up for re-election in the fall.

And that intimidation factor may prove to be our salvation. But, unless and until a lot of someones stand up to be counted, Cindy Sheehan can't do it alone.

What is the difference between George W. Bush and Adolph Hitler?

Hitler was elected.*


*Joke courtesy of Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Early this morning, I forwarded a story that follows to a newsman I know. He wrote back:

Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 07:48:23 -0800

Thanks Hart.

The wire referenced the violence but no real details.

I'll check out the article.
This was what I'd sent:

From: hart williams
Sent: Tue 3/7/2006 7:37 AM
To: ****
Subject: More Sectarian Violence


More bombs set off at temples. You might find this interesting.

"The explosions came days after Muslims and Hindus battled each other in the nearby city of Lucknow, and angry Hindus looted Muslim shops and burnt vehicles in the coastal resort of Goa."

Complete article follows.



Times Online March 07, 2006

Bombs rock Varanasi, India's holy Hindu city
By Jenny Booth and agencies

At least four people died in the Indian holy city of Varanasi today when bombs exploded at a railway station and a Hindu temple.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the blasts at the the city, which attracts hundreds of thousands of foreign backpackers each year.

One of the devices went off inside the Sankat Mochan temple near dusk, at a time when the shrine was crowded with devout Hindus making their nightly offering to the monkey-god Hanuman, said a police spokesman.

"It was a powerful bomb," said Navneet Sikera, the Varanasi police chief.

He said at least four people were killed and 12 others injured in the blast, but Indian television stations reported that at least seven people had died. The television channels said that none of the idols in the temple was damaged in the blast.

Another explosion shook a train at the city's railway station, said Mohammed Hashmi, a police inspector.

"The blast appears to have happened on board the Shivganga Express," said Mr. Hashmi. "The blast could have been caused by a cooking gas cylinder but we are not too sure." He did not know if anyone was hurt.

A witness, Sunil Yadav, said there also was a blast near the ticket counter in the waiting room of the crowded station. He described a scene of confusion, with people running and screaming, but could not say if there had been any deaths.

Police also found two primed bombs near a restaurant at Varanasi's main cremation site on the banks of the Ganges river, Mr. Hashmi said, as police evacuated the temple and closed off the areas. "Both the bombs were lying outside the restaurants and they were live," he said.

Varanasi, which lies 700 km (450 miles) east of Delhi, is one of Hinduism's holiest city and is ordinarily filled with pilgrims visiting temples and bathing in the holy waters of the Ganges River, which runs through town.

The explosions came days after Muslims and Hindus battled each other in the nearby city of Lucknow, and angry Hindus looted Muslim shops and burnt vehicles in the coastal resort of Goa.

Now, at first blush, you might say: "So what's this got to do with anything?"

Well, I have a feeling you would maybe be a bit more impressed if instead of using the "new" name that every damned country and city in Asia now seems to have -- in this case, "Varanasi" -- I use the "old" name that you may be familiar with: "Benares."

The most holy city in India, hearkening back at least 3,000 years, an attack on one of the most popular shrines of the Holy City on the Ganges would be the equivalent, say, of bombs going off in the Vatican. Or at Westminster Cathedral. You get the idea.

This was no "little" thing. Especially in a week that's seen one of the most holy shrines of Shi'ia Muslims bombed. If I owned stock in the "Dome of the Rock" at this point, I'd be worried.

By this afternoon, the mighty WASHINGTON POST had noticed that something was worth noticing among the little brown people that we don't usually pay any attention to. Note the time:

Blasts in Indian Holy City Raise Fears of Sectarian Violence

By John Lancaster
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 7, 2006; 3:54 PM

NEW DELHI, March 7 -- Bombs exploded in a crowded Hindu temple and a railway station in the holy city of Varanasi Tuesday evening, killing at least 15 people and raising fears of retaliatory violence against India's minority Muslim population. Authorities appealed for calm, and police in major cities were placed on high alert.

Even before the blasts, tensions had been rising in India. Angry Muslim protests against President Bush, who visited India last week, as well as against Danish newspaper cartoons of the prophet Muhammad have erupted into violence in several cities.

The first blast ripped through the Sankat Mochan temple shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday as Hindu devotees gathered to make offerings to the monkey god Hanuman, Indian media reported. Among the dead was a bridegroom who had come to seek the deity's blessings, according to the Press Trust of India news service. Tuesday evening is the traditional time for visiting the temple....
Now, I don't know about you, and I'm not trying to be spooky, but doesn't it seem like the world's gone to hell ever since the Taliban blew up those giant Buddhas in March of 2001, just months before 9-11?


03/22/2001 - Updated 03:54 PM ET
Why the Taliban are destroying Buddhas
By W.L. Rathje, Discover Archaeology Magazine

The colossal Buddhas were cut at immeasurable cost (probably in the third and fifth centuries A.D.) into the tall, sandstone cliffs surrounding Bamiyan, an oasis town in the center of a long valley that separates the mountain chains of Hindu Kush and Koh-i-Baba. The taller of the two statues (about 53 meters or 175 feet) is thought to represent Vairocana, the "Light Shining throughout the Universe Buddha" The shorter one (36 meters or 120 feet) probably represents Buddha Sakyamuni, although the local Hazara people believe it depicts a woman ... For centuries, Bamiyan lay at the heart of the fabled Silk Road, offering respite to caravans carrying goods across the vast reaches between China and the Roman Empire. And for 500 years, it was a center of Buddhist cultivation. The myriad caves that pockmark Bamiyan's cliffs were also home to thousands of Buddhist monks and served as a kind of Holiday Inn for traveling merchants, monks, and pilgrims. But from the Buddhist side, no blood has been shed ... Countries whose populations are primarily Buddhist have expressed dismay and consternation, but no one is going to war. It's not that Buddhists won't fight, but they don't go to war over images.
Indulge me. This is only a science fiction story:

(Let's call it the "Spice Road" instead of the "Silk Road." The description is, perhaps, more precise.)

When you think about it, that was a profound event. Those statues had been there, guarding the Spice Road, two giant storage batteries of "peaceful energy" perhaps, in the same manner that the black rock, The Ka'aba in Mecca is a sort of cosmic storage battery for reverence. Five times a day, all the Muslims in the world send prayers in its direction.

Of course, for that to be true, then thoughts would have to be things, little matrices of electromagnetic energy occupying time and space, measurable in microvolts or millivolts, or nanovolts, and the visualization of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions over the course of centuries would imbue a receptive target with a complex charge, something like an iron bar can be turned into a magnet, or a ferrite coating on a thin strip of Mylar can capture complex "thoughts" in form of cassette tapes that play music.

And consider further that the Spice Road was, for centuries, an artery in the bloodstream of humanity, bringing the cultures of the East to the West and vice versa, until the fall of Constantinople in 1452.

You might notice that the need for those goods from the Orient -- chiefly spices -- was so great in 1492 that Ferdinand of Spain was willing to charter an expedition to get to "China" by sending a screwball Italian WEST to cross by way of a spherical Earth.

(The crazy Italian was named 'Columbus' and the consequences of his voyage are well known.)

So, perhaps a ley line, a geomantic path that was followed, the Spice Road followed the route that geology and the topography of the Round Planet dictated a literal ley line on the planet, with Bamiyan a pressure point in the meridians of the Earth, an acupuncture point where for five hundred years, the giant Buddhas stood, batteries charging the Spice Road with as much peace as could be expected. (We are a rather brutal race, sad to say, and wars of extermination or attrition or convenience are a long tradition among our kind.)

Or, to see it with Western eyes, the Buddhists capped a portal of Hell, and the Statues, charged with High Mystical Magick blocked the chaos demons from entering the Spice Road.

Either way, ever since they blew up those two Buddhas, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. First, 9-11. Then the Afghan war, kicking out the Taliban (the first victim, perhaps of the chaos demons they'd loosed). Then the Iraq invasion. And now, sectarian violence in India, suspected -- though no one knows yet -- to be Muslim violence against the most holy city of India, revered by nearly a billion people.

And now, the ramping up to a war with Iran. The whole Spice Road is lighting up.

But, heck, that's just a science fiction story. The important Buddhist lesson was a classical one: Buddhism teaches that nothing is permanent. All is impermanence. One hundred years from now, in any crowd that you see, virtually everyone will be dead. Gone. And of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only the Pyramids remain.

And so, the Taliban, in March of 2001, proved, in blowing up the statues, that nothing is permanent, indeed. Everything changes. Everything passes away and is reborn. Like a flower. Like the Spice Road.

Like the Taliban.

And somewhere a buddha is laughing.

As for the "tip" to my newsman friend? He ran a quick blip, but nothing further was heard. Not much on the national radio, either. Took the WASHINGTON POST until nearly quitting time (EST) to notice it. As I write this, the sun is just rising in the starlit sky on the eastern horizon in India. Venus is just about to rise as the Morning star.

There. the bombings are yesterday's news. The morning papers will tell the Indians that the death count has risen to 16.

And we are oblivious to the fact that the Muslim world is now engaged in violent confrontations with the cultures at both ends of the Spice Road. And maybe what we need is a laughing Buddha, more than anything.

But nobody's laughing in Benares.

Monday, March 06, 2006

If you're one of our regular readers, the following from the New York TIMES will not surprise you any more than it did me:
March 6, 2006
South Dakota Governor Signs Abortion Ban

The governor of South Dakota, Mike Rounds, signed today a bill intended to ban most abortions in the state and to set up a challenge to the United States Supreme Court decision, handed down in 1973, that legalized abortion in all states.

The law would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the woman's life, with no exception for cases of rape or incest. Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, has pledged to challenge the law in court.

Acknowledging that the law is a direct challenge to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling known as Roe V. Wade, Mr. Rounds said the law's effective date in July was likely to be delayed by a court challenge.

"That challenge will likely take years to be settled and it may ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court," Governor Rounds said in a statement posted on the state's Web site. "Our existing laws regulating abortions will remain in effect."

Governor Rounds, a Republican, noted that the bill was approved by the Legislature "with bi-partisan sponsorship and strong support in both houses."

"Its purpose is to eliminate most abortions in South Dakota," Governor Rounds said. "It does allow doctors to perform abortions in order to save the life of the mother. It does not prohibit the taking of contraceptive drugs before a pregnancy is determined, such as in the case of rape or incest."

The South Dakota law is in the forefront of an effort by abortion opponents to test whether a more conservative Supreme Court will reconsider, and possibly reverse, the Roe decision.

In his message, Governor Rounds noted that the Supreme Court has reversed decisions before. He cited the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that said states could require racial segregation in public facilities if the facilities were "separate, but equal." That ruling was reversed in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 school desegregation case.

"The 1954 court realized that the earlier interpretation of our Constitution was wrong," Governor Rounds said.
You've got to admire the Satanic mindset that would equate translating women into Government Brood Mares with overturning Plessy in Brown v. Board of Education. Had the (overwhelmingly male) majority any "integrity" they'd have insisted that Governor Rounds use the far more apt Dred Scot decision instead:
Secret world of US abortion doctors
By Harry Mount in Sioux Falls
(Filed: 04/03/2006)

The only abortion clinic in South Dakota has four doctors on its staff and all live a cloak and dagger existence.

Mindful of the threat to their lives, and the precedent of other doctors killed by "pro-life" zealots, each flies in once a month to perform up to 30 operations and leaves the same day...

Oh. And speaking of hypocrisy on a level unpresidented (sic) in US history, it would seem that King George now wants the "line item veto." The Royal Pronouncement came this morning:
Bush asks Congress for "line-item veto" power
Mon Mar 6, 2006 4:25 PM ET

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, who has never vetoed a spending bill, asked the U.S. Congress on Monday to give him a line-item veto that would allow him to propose canceling specific spending projects.

But Bush's proposal faces hurdles because an earlier version that Congress passed under former President Bill Clinton was rejected by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional....
Oh puhhhhhhleeeeeeeze!

George Bush talking about fiscal responsibility is like listening to a lecture on the virtues of celibacy delivered by a pimp. (Well, the pimp might have greater credibility, come to think of it.)

In fact, King George ought to chuck that moldy old "Hail To The Chief" and institute the more appropriate, modern, and Oscar-honored song (from last night) "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

But that would smack of truth, and that virtue is in short supply amidst this ball of serpents calling themselves God's Own Party (you probably only recognize them by their initials).

King George has spent more money in his five year debacle than all the previous administrations put together plus another 40%. I know that sounds outrageous, and, in keeping with our leitmotif of utter, insincere hypocrisy delivered with the straightest of faces and puppy dog eyes, I will retract whatever truth that has inadvertently wandered into this installment.

Here, in the words of our Master of Prevarification:

President Participates in Swearing-In of CEA Chairman Edward Lazear
Room 450, Eisenhower Executive Office Building
10:00 A.M. EST


We also need to do more to reform the way Washington spends people's money. Under the current system Congress can slip spending provisions into large bills where they never get debated and never get discussed. Those are called earmarks. As a result, too many bills passed by Congress include unnecessary spending. These earmarks reflect special interests instead of the people's interest. I'm pleased that Congress is working on earmark reform, and I encourage members of Congress to pass meaningful and real earmark reform.

Here's another idea for them: They need to give the President the line item veto. Congress gave the President a line item veto in 1996, but because with problems the way the law was written, the Supreme Court struck it down. That should not be the end of the story. So in my State of the Union I called for new legislation creating a line item veto that will meet Supreme Court standards. Today, I'm sending Congress legislation that will meet standards and give me the authority to strip special spending and earmarks out of a bill, and then send them back to Congress for an up or down vote. By passing this version of the line item veto, the administration will work with the Congress to reduce wasteful spending, reduce the budget deficit, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spend wisely.

There's more, but it would probably nauseate anyone sane. (If you're not sane, by all means go there. The White House web page is a veritable festival of mendacity and psychotic ramblings. I highly recommend it to schizophrenics, who will feel right at home.)

Let me see. Banning all abortion is Brown v. Board of Education, banning "separate but equal" segregation? And, it's CONGRESS who's engaged in the most fiscally irresponsible path that we've ever seen?

Right. Gotcha.

I almost shudder to add that Bush has yet to use his veto power ONCE in his maladministration. Having failed to ever veto anything, why ask for more veto power? Kind of seems as though you couldn't possibly exercise any LESS, as it is. But, perhaps he's THINKING of acting in a fiscally responsible manner.

Let me make something clear: I am socially liberal, and libertarian, but I am fiscally conservative: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."*

(Mostly because leaving debt for your children is a form of indentured servitude via time-shifting. I am not an absolutist, and there are appropriate times to borrow, but this isn't one of them.)

But what truly astonishes me about this amateur thespian posturing is that the media just eats it up. South Dakota Governor signs law he knows to be unconstitutional in the hopes that it may be? Bad dinner theater. King George pretends to be Ronald Reagan (as he's pretended from day one)? Third-rate sitcom.

And speaking of third-rate sitcoms, the hype surrounding the Oscars has only been matched by the feigned disappointment in same, by the selfsame twits who hyped the venerable marketing event as the Second Coming of Christ for the last month. Here's a typical sniff:

No surprises - except for the big one
By Jeanine Tan, TODAY

It's just as well yesterday's 78th Academy Awards ended with Crash winning the Oscar for Best Picture - that one rather surprising triumph helped inject a dose of unpredictability into what was otherwise a very predictable night.

Most bets were on Ang Lee's widely-acclaimed Brokeback Mountain to bag the best movie award, but the groundbreaking gay cowboy film won only for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score, categories for which Oscar pundits reckoned the film was a shoo-in.
("Brokeback Mountain" can console itself with the knowledge that the Academy's vote finally became either FOR or AGAINST the film, and the perception that its enshrinement as "Best Picture" would spark an inevitable backlash from the likes of Bush and South Dakota, "moral" bastards all.)

The "media critics" of America snark the Academy Awards?

What an astonishing surprise!

I'm lying, of course. Which is completely out of character for this blog entry, and I KNOW I promised that I was going to turn to mundane puffery, ephemeral nonsense and non-controversial verbiage, but I guess I just forgot.


Wasn't Jennifer Garner just RADIANT in her deep-dish decolletage?


* From Hamlet, Act 1. Scene III, by Wm. Shakespeare

The entire speech bears repeating, so here 'tis. S'blood!

LORD POLONIUS: Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
hart williams
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