Weblog Archives




  Saturday   October 21   2006


A New Decision?

“Administration officials told me on Monday that President George Bush is likely to announce "an exit strategy" that would draw down current U.S. force levels in Iraq.

"I think the dimensions of the catastrophe there has finally sunk in," one administration source said.

He and two others I talked to refused to speculate on details of any withdrawal, but all said that Bush would begin public statements after the upcoming elections were completed.

But they did say that Bush is also becoming "increasingly pessimistic" about any military action against Iran. According to one, "Bush really wanted to mount an attack on Iran earlier this year -- he was really hot to trot," but military briefings brought home to him that attacking Iran did not mean eliminating its suspected nuclear sites but also having to destroy "Iran's entire retaliatory capability," in the words of one. This capability is formidable; U.S. intelligence sources say Iran has underground missile batteries southwest of Abu Musa with the HY-2 advanced version of the Silkworm anti-ship missile. There are also Scud-Cs which could hit any UAE ports, including those to the south and west of Abu Dhabi and they could also strike Dubai where U.S. naval sources currently dock at the port of Jebel Ali.


 11:55 PM - link


Kerry Skarbakka


  thanks to Conscientious

Kerry Skarbakka

  thanks to Conscientious

 11:34 PM - link

dumb and dumber diplomacy

Why Bush “Lost” Korea

But another indication of just how seriously the Administration regards the diplomacy of convincing others to follow the U.S. lead is the identity of its UN ambassador — John Bolton. Bolton, whose answer when asked a couple of years ago what lesson Iran and North Korea should take from the U.S. invasion of Iraq, answered “Take a number.” But there are too many instances of Bolton’s demagogic bluster to document. Let’s just say the world looks at Bolton and sees an infantile provocateur who has about as much to offer international diplomacy as does Bill O’Reilly.

But it’s not Bolton’s John Wayne shtick that makes the Security Council push back against the U.S. in order to ensure that the sanctions that are adopted will be largely symbolic, and will facilitate rather than hinder a resumption of negotiations with Pyongyang. It’s simply that the U.S. is unable to lead because it offers no plausible endgame. Resuming talks aimed at a denuclearization deal is the only sane endgame, so the others on the Security Council will ensure that its condemnation and punishment of North Korea works towards that goal.

North Korea is simply the latest failure highlighting a foreign policy hobbled by ideological flights of fancy and a remarkable inability to recognize the limits of U.S. power to remake distasteful realities. When the paintball revolutionary who penned Buhs’s “Axis of Evil” speech popped up this week with a prescription for the Korea crisis that included forcing South Korea to starve North Korea, encouraging Japan to build nuclear weapons, and inviting Taiwan to NATO meetings in order to “punish” China, what became abundantly clear was that the Administration has suffered all along from an absence of adult supervision.


 11:23 PM - link


Arctic Life in Greenland


  thanks to Conscientious

Tiina Itkonen

Since the beginning of the 1990s, I have been searching for my own Ultima Thule, my place in the Far North. I was enchanted by the story of the Mother of the Sea and, in 1995, it inspired me to set off for the place where the story originated in Greenland. My search for the Mother of the Sea took me to the Polar Eskimos of the northernmost part of Greenland. The lack of haste, the friendliness of the people, the silence of the glaciers and the peace of the landscape compelled me to return to Northwest Greenland in 1998, 2002 and 2005.


  thanks to Conscientious

 11:15 PM - link

a broken army

BREAKING: The US Army (A Demographic Timebomb)

What is really happening inside the US Army and what are the long-term implications?

This line of inquiry begins with "My Saddest Consumer Experience, Ever". It's a diary which relates the following encounter with a career Marine:

"I'm a Marine, and I just got back from Iraq on... what day is it, Friday? Monday, and I've been drinkin' since. Probably be drinkin' until I go back - not to Iraq, but back in. This war is a mistake, it's all based on lies. We never found any weapons over there, men and women are being killed for no reason. It's a mistake and there's no reason for it. I've been there.."

...his face jolted as if he had just realized what he was saying. This man was broken, and there was absolutely no reason for it. His voice cracked as he continued

This is a stark illustration of one of the unintended consequences of the Bush Administration's Iraq fiasco. Its aftermath will bring fundamental and disturbing changes to US Army demographics.

The topic has been discussed at the US Army Officer Candidate School (OCS). The Army OCS Foundation hosts a web forum for Officers and Officer candidates. This forum is a goldmine of inside information and it also demonstrates the insidious nature of Right Wing Noise Machine influence.


 11:06 PM - link

mao art

I want one of these.

Your portrait painted like a propaganda poster
Offer yourself a beautiful oil painting, executed by an artist painter. Originality guaranteed.


  thanks to Neatorama

I think this one would be appropriate for a blogger.

Reference 0940
Carry out the struggle of denouncing Lin Biao Bush and Confucius Cheney to the end.

 10:57 PM - link

  Friday   October 20   2006

give us this day our daily photograph

More shiny water — Wrangell

gordy's image archive index

This is the last one from my Alaska trip 30 years ago. I will have to try some Fuji Velvia one of these days. This trip was the pretty much the end of my taking pictures, at this time of my life. I had met Candy a couple of months before this trip and we would be married in another year with three children after that. This was also the last time I took pictures with my Leica IIIc until I recently had it repaired. The shutter started acting up on my last 35mm roll on this trip. I think there were other pictures that were fine. I should try to find them.

 11:31 PM - link

no more house cleaning — really

I actually tried to post the last entry a couple of days ago but my ISP had upgraded their security and the new security didn't like me posting anything with HTML tags in it. We got it straightened out this morning. I must say that it has always been a pleasure working with our local service provider here on Whidbey Island, Whidbey Telecom. They have always been very responsive. I can call and the problem is taken care of while I am on the phone. I have everything but the photography section and the family stuff updated. It has been bothering me for some time. I've got a bunch of work coming up, but when that is done, I will start on the photography section. Now to check my links and see if we've gone to war with Iran yet.

 10:53 PM - link

more housecleaning

The blog roll is finally updated. Part of it was changing the way I put the links in. I originally was doing it through my blogging tool, Greymatter, but that was too cumbersome. Now I have it all converted over to HTML and I can change it easily in Dreamweaver. That will help keep it current. I did some pruning and added a bunch of new links as well as doing some reorganizing. Do check it out. It's there on your left under gordy's camera straps, unless you are on an archive page and then you will have to go back to the home page. I will, later, make some changes below the blog roll and the front page will be done. Then on to the rest of the site. I think I'll let the dust settle a little bit.

 01:07 PM - link

  Tuesday   October 17   2006

the housecleaning continues

Having put the right column in order I'm attacking the left column and the dreaded out of date blog roll (or is that blogroll?). The political blogs section is now updated. I've cleaned out the dead and dying links and included a bunch of new ones that I've been reading regularly. Do check them out.

This is just the beginning. I've likened this site to the Winchester House. It started with some words about the death of my brother that I put online over 10 years ago. Then I started posting about family stuff. A little over six years ago I started this blog. Periodically I revised the design as technology changed and what I considered a good idea changed. (It all seemed like a good idea at the time.) A classic case of design by increment. Now to see if I can bring it all together so that it looks like it all belongs in the same website.

 07:00 PM - link

  Sunday   October 15   2006


I've been complaining about how out of date the blog roll is. Well, there are a lot of other things that need cleaning up, too. There are sections that sort of died as I must have wandered off and other sections that were kind of thrown together that have grown. I've started cleaning this mess up. Things will appear a little helter skelter for a while as I work on getting everything together. Some sections are gone, maybe to come back another day, and some sections are staying with a commitment to update them. The first thing I've done is shortened up the book and movie right hand column and created a Books & Movies archive page. More changes coming, including a revised blog roll.

 11:52 PM - link

middle east clusterfuck

This is an excellent overview of the Middle East written by the premier journalist reporting on the Middle East — Robert Fisk. Read it and weep.

The Age of Terror
Double Standards of Morality
by Robert Fisk

A few days after Lebanon's latest war came to an end, I went through many of the reporter's notebooks I have used in my last 30 years in the Middle East. Some contained the names of dead colleagues, others the individual stories of the suffering of Arabs and Kurds and Christians and Jews. One, dated 1991, is even splashed with a dark and viscous substance, the oil that came raining down on us from the skies over the Kuwaiti desert after Saddam blew up the wells of the Emirate. It was only after a few minutes that I realised what I was looking for: some hint, back in the days of dangerous innocence, of what was going to happen on 11 September 2001.

And sure enough, in one notebook, part of a transcript of an interview I gave in Toronto in the late 1990s, I see myself trying to discourage the Middle East optimism of my host. "There is an explosion coming in the Middle East," I tell him. What was this explosion I was talking about? I find myself writing almost the same thing a couple of years later in The Independent--I refer to "the explosion to come" without locating it in the Middle East at all. What was I talking about? And then, most disturbingly, I re-run parts of a film series I made with the late Michael Dutfield for Channel 4 and Discovery in 1993. Called From Beirut to Bosnia, it was billed as an attempt to record "Muslims growing anger towards the West."

In one sequence, I walk into a destroyed mosque in a Bosnian village called Cela. And I hear my voice on the soundtrack, saying: "When I see things like this, I think of the place I work, the Middle East... I wonder what the Muslim world has in store for us... Maybe I should end each of my reports with the words: 'Watch out!' " And when I checked back to my post-production notes, I find the dates of all our film sequences listed. I had walked into that Bosnian mosque, watched by Serb policemen, on 11 September 1993. My warning was exactly eight years too early.

I don't like journalists who, in middle age, start to pontificate morbidly about the wickedness of a world that should be full of love, or who rummage through old notebooks in search of pessimism. So I own up at once. Surely we don't have to be weighed down by the baggage of history, always looking backwards and holding up billboards with the "The End of the World is Nigh" written in black for readers too bored to look at the fine print. Yet when I sit on my seafront balcony today, I am waiting for the next explosion to come.


 01:20 PM - link

comic book art

Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein
The Original Comic Book Source Images Of POP Artist Roy Lichtenstein


  thanks to Speak, See, Remember

 01:09 PM - link


BREAKING NEWS: Eisenhower Carrier Group Sails for Iran Theater

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Eisenhower and its accompanying strike force of cruiser, destroyer and attack submarine slipped their moorings and headed off for the Persian Gulf region on Oct. 3, as I had predicted in a piece in The Nation magazine a few weeks back.

The Eisenhower strike force, according to my sources, is scheduled to arrive in the vicinity of Iran around October 21, at the same time as a second flotilla of minesweepers and other ships.

This build-up of naval power around the coast of Iran, according to some military sources, is in preparation for an air attack on Iran that would target not just Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, but its entire military command and control system.

While such an attack could be expected to unleash a wave of military violence all over Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere against American forces and interests and against oil wells, pipelines and loading vacilities, as well as a mining of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, with a resulting skyrocketing of global oil prices, the real goal of this new war by the U.S. would be ensuring Republican control of the House and Senate.


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

Chris Hedges: Bush’s Nuclear Apocalypse

The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is, as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran. The ships will be in place to strike Iran by the end of the month. It may be a bluff. It may be a feint. It may be a simple show of American power. But I doubt it.

War with Iran—a war that would unleash an apocalyptic scenario in the Middle East—is probable by the end of the Bush administration. It could begin in as little as three weeks. This administration, claiming to be anointed by a Christian God to reshape the world, and especially the Middle East, defined three states at the start of its reign as “the Axis of Evil.” They were Iraq, now occupied; North Korea, which, because it has nuclear weapons, is untouchable; and Iran. Those who do not take this apocalyptic rhetoric seriously have ignored the twisted pathology of men like Elliott Abrams, who helped orchestrate the disastrous and illegal contra war in Nicaragua, and who now handles the Middle East for the National Security Council. He knew nothing about Central America. He knows nothing about the Middle East. He sees the world through the childish, binary lens of good and evil, us and them, the forces of darkness and the forces of light. And it is this strange, twilight mentality that now grips most of the civilian planners who are barreling us towards a crisis of epic proportions.

These men advocate a doctrine of permanent war, a doctrine which, as William R. Polk points out, is a slight corruption of Leon Trotsky’s doctrine of permanent revolution. These two revolutionary doctrines serve the same function, to intimidate and destroy all those classified as foreign opponents, to create permanent instability and fear and to silence domestic critics who challenge leaders in a time of national crisis. It works. The citizens of the United States, slowly being stripped of their civil liberties, are being herded sheep-like, once again, over a cliff.


 12:57 PM - link


Jeff de Boer

"16th Century Samurai Siamese"
1992, brass, bronze, copper, mixed media, 13"X16"X7"


 12:52 PM - link


Calling Bob in Baghdad

I am very, very lucky. I am alive in a war zone. Most of the time I have running water and when I turn on the lights, a series of generators ensures that they come on. I don't have to worry about saying goodbye to my family here in the morning and not knowing whether I'll see them in the evening. I know I'm lucky because almost everyone I know in Baghdad has to worry constantly about those things.

Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.

I'm more puzzled by comments that the violence isn't any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?


  thanks to Eschaton

Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.

The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government.

It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.

The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.


  thanks to The Agonist

Interview with Rajiv Chandrasekaran
by Juan Cole

RC: When I observed how some Americans lived and behaved in the Green Zone, I was struck by the imperialist overtones: the Gurkhas guarding the palace, the CPA staffers bemoaning the slothful work habits of the natives, and there were the pork products in the dining hall, the alcohol-sodden nightspots. I'm not arguing that the United States has sought to be imperialist in Iraq -- although others may have that view -- but what I am saying is that some of the Americans who went to Baghdad for the CPA wound up acting, unintentionally or intentionally, in an imperialist way. And it wasn't just how they were living. How to explain CPA health care adviser James Haveman's decision to devote resources to reworking Iraq's prescription formulary? (I detail this in Chapter 11.) Haveman's had saved millions of dollars by forcing Medicaid providers in Michigan to buy prescription drugs off an approved list, known as a formulary. He figured the same thing could work in Iraq. It wasn't about listening to what Iraqis wanted; in many cases, it was all about what the Americans, cloistered in the palace, thought the Iraqis needed.

In some cases, Iraqi experts disagreed with the CPA's policies, but they were powerless to stop it. Let me quote from the end of Chapter 11: Once Haveman left, the Health Ministry reported that 40 percent of the 900 drugs it deemed essential were out of stock in hospitals. Of the 32 medicines used in public clinics for the management of chronic diseases, twenty-six were unavailable. The new health minister, Aladin Alwan, beseeched the United Nations for help, and he asked neighboring nations to share what they could. He sought to increase production at a state-run manufacturing plant in the city of Samarra. And he put the new formulary on hold. To him, it was a fool's errand. "We didn't need a new formulary. We needed drugs," he said. "But the Americans did not understand that."


Four more years?
As civilian casualties climb, the U.S. makes plans to keep 140,000 troops in Iraq until 2010. Will the public in either country permit it?

The situation in Iraq is far, far bloodier than we knew, according to a new study published in the Lancet. The situation in Iraq is not getting any better, according to U.S. generals. But the Department of Defense has to allow for the real possibility that some 140,000 American soldiers will be stuck in the country for four more years, according to the Army chief of staff. Can the U.S. troop presence in Iraq really be sustained at these levels as the country devolves into sectarian civil war? Is the United States making the situation worse rather than better?


The crossroads
by Steve Gilliard

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, dropped a political bombshell last night by saying that Britain must withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society.


From the Department of Desperate Measures

The madness of contemplating a coup, though, is that the same Shiite religious hierarchy which swept Allawi out of power through general elections in January 2005 has feared such a coup as their nightmare scenario all along, and so would almost instantly call for a popular uprising that would put the U.S. in helicopters-on-rooftops departure mode. But that's not all. Here's what I had to say two months ago on the subject:

But can they really be fantasizing about an anti-Shiite coup? Aside from the fact that it would multiply the U.S. occupation's enemies well past the ability of our military to handle them, what would be the point?

Since nearly all of the relevant power in the country is essentially outside of government control already, or at best only paying lip service to it, staging a coup in Iraq would be like trying to steal a car that's already been stripped for parts and is sitting on wooden blocks. Or maybe like trying to hijack a flight-simulator game in an arcade.


 12:44 PM - link


Roman Loranc


  thanks to wood s lot

 12:20 PM - link

the american death spiral

Lost Wars and a Lost Economy
On Borrowed Time (and Money)
by Paul Craig Roberts

President Bush and his neocon flaks have simultaneously lost two wars and America's economic future.

Last Friday's payroll jobs report was a continuation of Bush's dismal record. Only 59,000 net new private sector jobs were created during September. That is about 90,000 less than would be needed to stay even with population growth. Like all jobs that the US economy has created in the 21st century, the September jobs are in domestic services.

Waitresses and bar tenders accounted for a quarter of the new jobs. The remainder were in health care and social assistance, wholesale trade and transportation, financial activities, and accounting and bookkeeping services.

US manufacturing lost another 19,000 jobs. Since Bush took office, the US has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs.

Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services in Washington DC notes that the growth of total hours worked over the current "recovery" is less than half the average rate of all previous recoveries and is the worst performance on record. Due to offshoring, manufacturing hours worked have declined 6.6% since the recovery began in November 2001.

It has been years since the US economy has created high-productivity, high-paying jobs in export and import-competitive sectors. The US manufacturing trade deficit is now twice the size of the oil import bill. The years of deficits have destroyed America's creditor status in the balance of payments. At the beginning of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that for the first time in 90 years, the US is now paying noticeably more to foreign creditors than it receives from its investments abroad."


 12:16 PM - link

street photography

Much of my photography has been with medium and large format cameras. Working with larger cameras generally means a slower and more thoughtful approach to taking pictures. While being thoughtful has it's good points, sometimes being unthoughtful helps. Part of my getting back into 35mm rangefinder cameras was to get into unthoughtful photography, also known as street photography. Photography where one captures a quick moment without thinking — unthoughtful. But being unthoughtful means emptying your mind (see Pooh). There has been too much going on in my life to do much emptying, but I still have hope. Colin Jago had a post that has some interesting sidetracks. The object of the post was interesting enough:

Matt Stuart


Colin also linked to an article he did about street photography that is worth a read:

Street Photography

When I first had a camera I used to walk around taking pictures. I would go on a special trip to somewhere just with the intention of seeing what there was to photograph. I didn't know it at the time, but I was following in a long tradition called street photography. I also didn't know that this thing that I didn't know had a name was very difficult.


In his article, Colin linked to this street photography site that I've watched for some time. (Note to self: Update your woefully outdated blog roll.)


Our aim is to promote Street Photography and to continue to explore its possibilities. All the photographers featured here have been invited to show their work because they have the ability to see the unusual in the everyday and to capture the moment. The pictures remind us that, if we let it, over-familiarity can make us blind to what’s really going on in the world around us.


in-PUBLiC has several galleries of street photographers, including some additional Matt Stuart photographs. Good stuff. Inspirational. (Note to self: Pencil in some time to clear mind.)

 12:01 PM - link


Swan Dive

Against the background of everything else happening in the financial markets is the apparent circumstance of peak oil. Even The New York Times joined the chorus in a Sunday editorial, saying:

Our demand for petroleum products strains the limits of the global capacity to supply them. In past decades, if a pipeline broke in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia might compensate by setting workers to pumping more oil. Now, with little additional capacity, rising prices are necessary to balance out supply and demand.

No more increasing capacity = peak oil.

It's as simple as that. We now have nine and a half months of "rearview mirror" action to look back and see that world oil production has retreated from its all-time high of just over 85 million barrels a day (m/b/d) achieved in December 2005 (just as geologist Kenneth Deffeyes of Princeton had predicted). For 2006, production has remained in the 84 m/b/d range every month reported so far, while demand has exceeded that.

Where finance is concerned, the basic implication of peak oil is pretty stark: an end to industrial expansion (i.e. "growth"). All the alternatives to oil will not keep the industrial economies expanding -- they can only slow down a contraction, and only marginally so. The trouble with this picture is that finance is a system that uses paper markers to represent the hope and expectation for the expansion of wealth. These markers are currencies, stocks, bonds, option contracts, derivatives plays, and other certificates that are traded in open markets. If there is no longer any hope of increased wealth in the world, then all those tradable paper markers become losers. Their value unwinds and imagined piles of wealth evaporate into thin air.


 11:07 AM - link


Be sure to check out Rockaways, but it's all good.

Juliana Beasley / Photographer


  thanks to Conscientious

 11:01 AM - link


It's not been an easy couple of days. We started off Friday for the 2 1/2 hour trip to visit her mother at Western State Hospital (Alzheimer's). We were on the ferry dock waiting for the ferry when Zoe's stomach was really bothering her and we had to turn around and head home. She was heartbroken that she couldn't make it. (Zoe's post.) She was afraid that the stress of going to see her mom was kicking off the IBS and she wouldn't be able to see here again but we made it down yesterday to see Gerry okay. We brought Gerry some of her favorite foods, which she enjoyed. There are still flashes of Gerry there but she continues to decline. We wish she could be closer to use so we could visit her more often but she is still getting being aggressive with the other patients. It will take 30 to 60 days of good behavior to get on the discharge list and the discharge process is at least two months long. We will be going to a care meeting with her doctors at the end of the month. I hope they have some ideas on getting her to a level that she can be discharged. Zoe has more.

 10:41 AM - link