Saturday, November 04, 2006

Maybe I Am Chopped Liver


A Review of THE WICKED SON: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews by David Mamet. 189 pp. Nextbook/Schocken. $19.95.

To anyone who takes Jewishness seriously, David Mamet’s 1991 film, “Homicide,” was confusing. On the one hand, it was refreshing, even exhilarating, to see how openly Mamet dealt with issues like Jewish identity and anti-Semitism. Far from hiding his background, like so many in his business, Mamet embraced it, then shoved it in everyone’s face. His Jewish characters were neither the celluloid conversos nor the neurotic nebbishes that Hollywood (and all those Jews who run the place) so adore, but uncloseted fighters. There wasn’t a George Costanza or Jenny Cavallari or Fielding Mellish in the bunch.

But there was a slight problem with Mamet’s Jews: They were unrecognizable. Their anxieties seemed from an earlier era. They belonged to no real place, just one of Mamet’s Hopperish lonely cities. They spoke Mamet-speak, which is to say, a language so hyperreal that it sometimes sounded quite unreal. They were, in fact, contrivances, created to highlight Mamet’s hobgoblins and hobbyhorses.

One encounters the same schism, and the same ambivalence, in “The Wicked Son,” Mamet’s examination of the modern Jewish psyche. Like everything he does, it is blunt and bracing, honest and provocative, original and gutsy. At the same time, it’s not exactly clear which Jews Mamet is talking about, what decade they live in, how fairly he treats them or even how many of them there are.

The book’s title refers to the character in the Passover Seder who distances himself from his people. “What does this ritual mean to you?” he asks tendentiously. For Mamet, he represents a disease among Jews, too many of whom are negative, weak, defeatist, ignorant and ungrateful. They hate their own history and traditions, loathe the state of Israel and are far too prone to trade their precious birthright for the closest cause or cult.

Even if they find Mamet’s other works bewildering or raw, many Jews, particularly politically progressive types who are also observant or strongly self-identified or devoted to Israel, will applaud him here. They’ve been to one too many Upper West Side dinner parties in which they’ve been forced single-handedly to take on a tableful of pro-Palestinian Jews or to admit to praying periodically. They’ll share his complaint about unremitting hostility of many Jewish leftists to Israel, a place a large number of them have never even visited, nor ever bothered learning very much about. They’ll agree that Philip Roth and Woody Allen trashed Ashkenazi immigrant culture. They’ll share his disgust at all those supposedly enlightened Jews who mock the tradition that helped make them what they are, only to embrace the nearest “analgesic” — materialism, Buddhism, yoga, self-help, agnosticism, sports, ethical culture — instead.

The joke is on them, Mamet says, for wherever these fallen Jews land, they run right into other, similarly disaffected Jews, and end up doing the very things they supposedly abhor. Those who consider circumcision mutilation have their breasts enlarged; those who’d never open up to rabbis go to shrinks or “life coaches”; those who will not recite the Shema (Judaism’s most important prayer) intone “I am Jewish, but I do not practice” just as ritualistically.

“I’ve seen it, and, perhaps, you have, too — the self-proclaimed ex-Jew, scoffing at the funeral, the wedding, the Seder, and leaving in dudgeon when his behavior was not tolerated,” Mamet declares. He’s right. There was that Passover I attended a few years back when one very well-educated Jewish woman was annoyed by every turn of the text. People had honored that text for centuries, and followed it even in Auschwitz, but for this spoiled sourpuss it was just too much to bear.

But here as in “Homicide,” something about Mamet’s world seems artificial and overdone. He has a peculiar knack for finding the most egregiously misbehaving Jews: Jews who serve jumbo shrimp and cavort naked at bar mitzvahs, or tell shockingly anti-Semitic jokes, or can’t distinguish Rosh Hashana from Yom Kippur or would see Israel wiped out without compunction.

Such self-loathing is, of course, nothing new. “Who hates the Jews more than the Jew?” Henry Miller once asked. But Mamet has a ready answer for Miller: everyone else. The world hates the Jews, he writes, always has, always will. Liberal Jews who read The New York Times or listen to National Public Radio may not think so, but they are naïve; when the pogrom comes, he predicts, even lapsed Jews will search frantically for doorways with mezuzas. In fact, apart from various Internet wackos, anti-Semitism, at least the American strain, has waned; how else to explain the very assimilation Mamet so detests? But he writes as if Father Coughlin is still on the radio, Henry Ford still hawks The Dearborn Independent and Fritz Kuhn’s German American Bundists still march through Yorkville.

With equal fervor, Mamet depicts lapsed Jews as figures from Dante, full of pain and guilt and “anomie,” languishing in an ethnic limbo, scorned by Jew and gentile alike. Pathetic, self-lacerating losers, he calls them (sort of like gay Republicans). Naturally, no one’s fooled: to both themselves and those who hate them, they’ll always be Jews. Mamet subscribes to what an old Jew from Chicago — one a generation older than he — once told me: “You can change your noses, but not your Moses.”

But as near as I can tell, few wayward Jews feel such angst. We are no longer in the age of “The Jazz Singer,” where children steeped in Jewish learning break their poor pious fathers’ hearts by trading pulpits for prosceniums. They may feel a pang or two around their Christmas trees, but as assimilated children of assimilated parents, their Jewish ties were pretty attenuated already. Here, too, Mamet seems a generation or two too late. Given his prodigious talent and insight, one wonders why. Maybe it’s a bizarre form of nostalgia, for a time when, thanks largely to their enemies, Jews felt more fraternal, and many were shtarkers — tough guys — rather than the deracinated wimps he thinks we’ve become, people whose favorite Jew, as he puts it, is Anne Frank.

On Israel, Mamet’s problem isn’t timing but oversimplification. That Israel represents so much of what he admires in contemporary Jewish life, that he has become the lineal descendant of another Hollywood figure — Ben Hecht — should not blind him to its faults, nor lead him to caricature its critics. Not all Jewish criticism of Israel is self-hatred, and not all gentile criticism is anti-Semitic. Jews who sympathize with the Palestinians are not necessarily neurotic. Few Jews consider Zionism “criminal,” and are there any who condone suicide bombing? And, by the way, not all Israeli crimes are “imaginary.”

As a cure for all this dissonance, Mamet offers, to use a notion out of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a surprising “lead,” one beyond the ken of Shelley “The Machine” Levene and the other real estate hustlers in the play: faith. Jews should stop trying to answer the unanswerable and yield to Jewish ritual and wisdom. After all, he asks, how could all those sages have had it so wrong all these years? Jews should force themselves to go to shul, and sit there until the spirit penetrates and soothes them.

More than almost anyone else of his generation, David Mamet would subscribe to the old Yiddish aphorism “S’iz shver tsu zayn a yid”: It’s hard to be a Jew. But in this day and age, it’s also easy: one gets little if any flak for it, and there are many, many ways to honor Jewish tradition, every bit as lovingly as Mamet does. Open-mindedness and tolerance are two. Even that whiny Seder-going girl, after all, married a nice Jewish boy — maybe even under a huppah.


David Margolick is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink.”


Unconventional Wisdom

Asterisks for the Political Rulebook


IF Democrats really do shake up Republicans on Tuesday, voters will have pulled off more than an upset. They will have turned that convenient tool of politics — Conventional Wisdom — right on its head.

We won’t know what the voters do until they do it, and this is a good time to recall that the accuracy of polls and prognostications depends on who votes. But so far, the electorate seems poised to reject a number of political tenets so entrenched that they are paraded as fact. And now — maybe not.

Remember the popular principle that all politics is local? That truism, often wrongly attributed to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., is so old it originated with Finley Peter Dunne (1867 to 1936). But the polls reveal that the public’s anger over the administration’s policies in Iraq, and concern about illegal immigration and health care, has nationalized the election — a phenomenon that has political scientists borrowing from meteorologists.

“We’re seeing the tsunami of political waves hitting,” said Michael McDonald, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The Republicans built up really strong walls, and if this wave had not been as strong as it was it would’ve crashed up against the levee and that would have been that. But this one looks like it can top the levee.”

Those walls refer to another article of faith — the safe Congressional district, gerrymandered by both parties to protect incumbents, most recently and very effectively by Republicans. Their majority was supposed to be all but inviolate. As recently as last spring, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report and other analysts rated only 12 out of 435 House districts as “tossups” and 20 others as in play to some degree. Now, many of the same analysts rate 35 districts as tossups and consider 27 more to be in play.

Even the higher numbers are not startling as percentages of the entire House. Republicans did indeed build a strong protective structure, and much of it is expected to hold. But the chances of Democrats’ gaining the 15 additional seats they need to take the House — at the least — have grown sharply, and some optimistic Democrats are daring to dream of taking the Senate, too.

There is the matter of money, and the Republican Party’s customary advantage in fund-raising. The latest figures show they have once again bested Democrats. But Democrats have narrowed the gap compared with recent Congressional elections, largely because their Senate committee raised more than its Republican counterpart.

Another curiosity this year: Republicans haven’t been able to take full advantage of their fund-raising wealth because, victims of their own past success, they have so many seats to protect. Democrats have many fewer seats to defend, which lets them target their spending in opposition territory.

And to add a few more articles of faith now in doubt: voters were thought not to trust Democrats to defend the country; Democrats were considered chronically allergic to nominating centrist candidates; and the White House’s political wizard, Karl Rove, could commit no strategic wrong.

Some of them may hold up, as might another tenet — that the party in the White House loses Congressional seats in off-years. But what about all those conventional wisdoms? Were they wrong? Misunderstood? Were those who bought into them naïve, biased?

Political analysts say that some of the popular theories were oversimplified, some exaggerated, some tenuous, but that the predominant ones were accurate — once. Political theories hold as long as the circumstances underlying them hold. When circumstances change and the theories do not — welcome, it would seem, to campaign 2006.

“All politics is local, except when it isn’t,” said John Samples, an analyst with the Cato Institute. “National waves are unusual, but they do exist.”

They come about once every decade or two, the last time in 1994 when Republicans took Congress handily, capitalizing on public disaffection over the economy, the Clinton administration’s health care proposal and a controversy over gays in the military. Democrats had their turn in 1974, when the Watergate scandal forced Richard M. Nixon to resign.

This time it is the war in Iraq. “Iraq cost Bush 5, 6 percent of the vote in ’04,” Mr. Samples said. “It wasn’t noticed closely because he won anyway. But it has been a festering problem and now it is nationalizing the race.”

The seeds of today’s public discontent may well have taken root two years ago even as another piece of conventional wisdom — that the election was all about values — took hold. According to an Edison/Mitofsky survey of voters exiting the polls two years ago, 22 percent of those interviewed cited values as the issue that mattered most. But as The Economist noted recently, 15 percent cited Iraq, 19 percent cited terrorism — 34 percent combined.

Now Democrats are running against the war and the White House. The battle for United States Senate in New Jersey, between Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat, and Thomas H. Kean Jr., Republican, is a study in warring strategies. Mr. Menendez portrays his opponent as a Bush acolyte, while Mr. Kean characterizes Mr. Menendez as an active player in classically corrupt New Jersey politics.

In a Democratic ad against Representative Christopher Shays, a moderate Republican from Connecticut, disapproving men and women shake their heads as they invoke the president and the war over and over again.

There are other factors that could lead to change. Some weak candidates emerged from primaries, and some incumbents got into political trouble — among them Representative Bob Ney of Ohio and Tom DeLay of Texas, the former House leader, both Republicans shadowed by their links to Jack Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist. Democrats will most likely succeed them. Some candidates were hurt by their connections to the Congressional page mess or personal scandals, and in the Florida Senate race, the Republican candidate, Representative Katherine Harris, has been running a problem-plagued campaign from its inception.

“Some of it is just bad luck,” said Amy Walter, who analyzes Congressional races for the Cook report. She also cited the flipside of long-term success in strong Republican districts represented by loyal elected officials. “As the party’s fortunes started to fall,” she said, “there was no way for these candidates to distance themselves from their party.”

Gerrymandering has a flip side, too. To carve out the largest number of partisan districts, officials run the risk of spreading their loyal voters too thin. G. Terry Madonna, who runs the Keystone Poll at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said that Pennsylvania Republicans who controlled the last round of redistricting “got greedy” — creating some districts with favorable balances too small to survive a wave of discontent.

Gerrymandering is not always effective anyway, says Bruce Cain, an expert on redistricting who heads the University of California’s Washington Center. “There were people exaggerating the effects of redistricting, largely because they wanted redistricting reform,” he said. And no redistricting plan can accurately anticipate demographic shifts that change a district’s makeup, or whether voters will change their minds.

“It’s never exactly static,” said Mr. Cain. “People shift from being independent to moderate or back to independent. Redistricting is good only as long as preferences are stable.”

Maybe that’s why both parties are already talking about 2008. Republicans are saying any Democrats who might sweep into office Tuesday will, as freshmen, be vulnerable to defeat in just two years. And Democrats are saying hold on — if they run a strong presidential candidate in two years the party could be just fine. It could be in power for a decade. Maybe two.

Ah, politics. How better to start the next election cycle than with two more pieces of conventional wisdom?



“So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth.”

That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.

But until recently, the “hard bruising” truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington.

One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: “mission accomplished,” the insurgency is “in its last throes,” and “back off,” we know what we’re doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war’s planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: “I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I’ve seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war.”

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on “critical” and has been sliding toward “chaos” for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don’t show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he’ll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers’ deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.



Did I create that sky? Yes, for, if it was anything other than a conception in my mind I wouldnt have said "Sky"-That is why I am the golden eternity. There

are not two of us here, reader and writer, but one, one golden eternity, One-Which-It-Is, That-Which- Everything-Is.


The awakened Buddha to show the way, the chosen Messiah to die in the degradation of sentience, is the golden eternity. One that is what is, the golden eternity, or, God, or, Tathagata-the name. The Named One. The human God. Sentient Godhood. Animate Divine. The Deified One. The Verified One. The Free One. The Liberator. The Still One. The settled One. The Established One. Golden Eternity. All is Well. The Empty One. The Ready One. The Quitter. The Sitter. The Justified One. The Happy One.


That sky, if it was anything other than an illusion of my mortal mind I wouldnt have said "that sky." Thus I made that sky, I am the golden eternity. I am Mortal Golden Eternity.


I was awakened to show the way, chosen to die in the degradation of life, because I am Mortal Golden Eternity.


I am the golden eternity in mortal animate form.


Strictly speaking, there is no me, because all is emptiness. I am empty, I am non-existent. All is bliss.


This truth law has no more reality than the world.


You are the golden eternity because there is no me and no you, only one golden eternity.


The Realizer. Entertain no imaginations whatever, for the thing is a no-thing. Knowing this then is Human Godhood.


This world is the movie of what everything is, it is one movie, made of the same stuff throughout, belonging to nobody, which is what everything is.


If we were not all the golden eternity we wouldnt be here. Because we are here we cant help being pure. To tell man to be pure on account of the punishing angel that punishes the bad and the rewarding angel that rewards the good would be like telling the water "Be Wet"-Never the less, all things depend on supreme reality, which is already established as the record of Karma earned-fate.


God is not outside us but is just us, the living and the dead, the never-lived and never-died. That we should learn it only now, is supreme reality, it was written a long time ago in the archives of universal mind, it is already done, there's no more to do.


This is the knowledge that sees the golden eternity in all things, which is us, you, me, and which is no longer us, you, me.


What name shall we give it which hath no name, the common eternal matter of the mind? If we were to call it essence, some might think it meant perfume, or gold, or honey. It is not even mind. It is not even discussible, groupable into words; it is not even endless, in fact it is not even mysterious or inscrutably inexplicable; it is what is; it is that; it is this. We could easily call the golden eternity "This." But "what's in a name?" asked Shakespeare. The golden eternity by another name would be as sweet. A Tathagata, a God, a Buddha by another name, an Allah, a Sri Krishna, a Coyote, a Brahma, a Mazda, a Messiah, an Amida, an Aremedeia, a Maitreya, a Palalakonuh, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 would be as sweet. The golden eternity is X, the golden eternity is A, the golden eternity is /\, the golden eternity is O, the golden eternity is [ ], the golden eternity is t-h-e-g-o-l-d-e-n-e-t-e-r- n-i-t-y. In the beginning was the word; before the beginning, in the beginningless infinite neverendingness, was the essence. Both the word "god" and the essence of the word, are emptiness. The form of emptiness which is emptiness having taken the form of form, is what you see and hear and feel right now, and what you taste and smell and think as you read this. Wait awhile, close your eyes, let your breathing stop three seconds or so, listen to the inside silence in the womb of the world, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, re-recognize the bliss you forgot, the emptiness and essence and ecstasy of ever having been and ever to be the golden eternity. This is the lesson you forgot.


The lesson was taught long ago in the other world systems that have naturally changed into the empty and awake, and are here now smiling in our smile and scowling in our scowl. It is only like the golden eternity pretending to be smiling and scowling to itself; like a ripple on the smooth ocean of knowing. The fate of humanity is to vanish into the golden eternity, return pouring into its hands which are not hands. The navel shall receive, invert, and take back what'd issued forth; the ring of flesh shall close; the personalities of long dead heroes are blank dirt.


The point is we're waiting, not how comfortable we are while waiting. Paleolithic man waited by caves for the realization of why he was there, and hunted; modern men wait in beautified homes and try to forget death and birth. We're waiting for the realization that this is the golden eternity.


It came on time.


There is a blessedness surely to be believed, and that is that everything abides in eternal ecstasy, now and forever.


Mother Kali eats herself back. All things but come to go. All these holy forms, unmanifest, not even forms, truebodies of blank bright ecstasy, abiding in a trance, "in emptiness and silence' as it is pointed out in the Diamond-cutter, asked to be only what they are: GLAD.


The secret God-grin in the trees and in the teapot, in ashes and fronds, fire and brick, flesh and mental human hope. All things, far from yearning to be re-united with God, had never left themselves and here they are, Dharmakaya, the body of the truth law, the universal Thisness.


"Beyond the reach of change and fear, beyond all praise and blame," the Lankavatara Scripture knows to say, is he who is what he is in time and time-less-ness, in ego and in ego-less-ness, in self and in self-less-ness.


Stare deep into the world before you as if it were the void: innumerable holy ghosts, buddhies, and savior gods there hide, smiling. All the atoms emitting light inside wavehood, there is no personal separation of any of it. A hummingbird can come into a house and a hawk will not: so rest and be assured. While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light.


Things dont tire of going and coming. The flies end up with the delicate viands.


The cause of the world's woe is birth, The cure of the world's woe is a bent stick.


Though it is everything, strictly speaking there is no golden eternity because everything is nothing: there are no things and no goings and comings: for all is emptiness, and emptiness is these forms, emptiness is this one formhood.


All these selfnesses have already vanished. Einstein measured that this present universe is an expanding bubble, and you know what that means.


Discard such definite imaginations of phenomena as your own self, thou human being, thou'rt a numberless mass of sun-motes: each mote a shrine. The same as to your shyness of other selves, selfness as divided into infinite numbers of beings, or selfness as identified as one self existing eternally. Be obliging and noble, be generous with your time and help and possessions, and be kind, because the emptiness of this little place of flesh you carry around and call your soul, your entity, is the same emptiness in every direction of space unmeasurable emptiness, the same, one, and holy emptiness everywhere: why be selfy and unfree, Man God, in your dream? Wake up, thou'rt selfless and free. "Even and upright your mind abides nowhere," states Hui Neng of China. We're all in heaven now.


Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent mind. Now that we know this, throw the raft away.


Are you tightwad and are you mean, those are the true sins, and sin is only a conception of ours, due to long habit. Are you generous and are you kind, those are the true virtues, and they're only conceptions. The golden eternity rests beyond sin and virtue, is attached to neither, is attached to nothing, is unattached, because the golden eternity is Alone. The mold has rills but it is one mold. The field has curves but it is one field. All things are different forms of the same thing. I call it the golden eternity-what do you call it, brother? for the blessing and merit of virtue, and the punishment and bad fate of sin, are alike just so many words.


Sociability is a big smile, and a big smile is nothing but teeth. Rest and be kind.


There's no need to deny that evil thing called GOOGOO, which doesnt exist, just as there's no need to deny that evil thing called Sex and Rebirth, which also doesn't exist, as it is only a form of emptiness. The bead of semen comes from a long line of awakened natures that were your parent, a holy flow, a succession of saviors pouring from the womb of the dark void and back into it, fantastic magic imagination of the lightning, flash, plays, dreams, not even plays, dreams.


"The womb of exuberant fertility," Ashvhaghosha called it, radiating forms out of its womb of exuberant emptiness. In emptiness there is no Why, no knowledge of Why, no ignorance of Why, no asking and no answering of Why, and no significance attached to this.


A disturbed and frightened man is like the golden eternity experimentally pretending at feeling the disturbed-and-frightened mood; a calm and joyous man, is like the golden eternity pretending at experimenting with that experience; a man experiencing his Sentient Being, is like the golden eternity pretending at trying that out too; a man who has no thoughts, is like the golden eternity pretending at being itself; because the emptiness of everything has no beginning and no end and at present is infinite.


"Love is all in all," said Sainte Therese, choosing Love for her vocation and pouring out her happiness, from her garden by the gate, with a gentle smile, pouring roses on the earth, so that the beggar in the thunderbolt received of the endless offering of her dark void. Man goes a-beggaring into nothingness. "Ignorance is the father, Habit-Energy is the Mother." Opposites are not the same for the same reason they are the same.


The words "atoms of dust" and "the great universes" are only words. The idea that they imply is only an idea. The belief that we live here in this existence, divided into various beings, passing food in and out of ourselves, and casting off husks of bodies one after another with no cessation and no definite or particular discrimination, is only an idea. The seat of our Immortal Intelligence can be seen in that beating light between the eyes the Wisdom Eye of the ancients: we know what we're doing: we're not disturbed: because we're like the golden eternity pretending at playing the magic cardgame and making believe it's real, it's a big dream, a joyous ecstasy of words and ideas and flesh, an ethereal flower unfolding a folding back, a movie, an exuberant bunch of lines bounding emptiness, the womb of Avalokitesvara, a vast secret silence, springtime in the Void, happy young gods talking and drinking on a cloud. Our 32,000 chillicosms bear all the marks of excellence. Blind milky light fills our night; and the morning is crystal.


Give a gift to your brother, but there's no gift to compare with the giving of assurance that he is the golden eternity. The true understanding of this would bring tears to your eyes. The other shore is right here, forgive and forget, protect and reassure. Your tormenters will be purified. Raise thy diamond hand. Have faith and wait. The course of your days is a river rumbling over your rocky back. You're sitting at the bottom of the world with a head of iron. Religion is thy sad heart. You're the golden eternity and it must be done by you. And means one thing: Nothing-Ever-Happened. This is the golden eternity.


When the Prince of the Kalinga severed the flesh from the limbs and body of Buddha, even then the Buddha was free from any such ideas as his own self, other self, living beings divided into many selves, or living beings united and identified into one eternal self. The golden eternity isnt "me." Before you can know that you're dreaming you'll wake up, Atman. Had the Buddha, the Awakened One, cherished any of these imaginary judgments of and about things, he would have fallen into impatience and hatred in his suffering. Instead, like Jesus on the Cross he saw the light and died kind, loving all living things.


The world was spun out of a blade of grass: the world was spun out of a mind. Heaven was spun out of a blade of grass: heaven was spun out of a mind. Neither will do you much good, neither will do you much harm. The Oriental imperturbed, is the golden eternity.


He is called a Yogi, his is called a Priest, a Minister, a Brahmin, a Parson, a Chaplain, a Roshi, a Laoshih, a Master, a Patriarch, a Pope, a Spiritual Commissar, a Counselor, and Adviser, a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, an Old Man, a Saint, a Shaman, a Leader, who thinks nothing of himself as separate from another self, not higher nor lower, no stages and no definite attainments, no mysterious stigmata or secret holyhood, no wild dark knowledge and no venerable authoritativeness, nay a giggling sage sweeping out of the kitchen with a broom. After supper, a silent smoke. Because there is no definite teaching: the world is undisciplined. Nature endlessly in every direction inward to your body and outward into space.


Meditate outdoors. The dark trees at night are not really the dark trees at night, it's only the golden eternity.


A mosquito as big as Mount Everest is much bigger than you think: a horse's hoof is more delicate than it looks. An altar consecrated to the golden eternity, filled with roses and lotuses and diamonds, is the cell of the humble prisoner, the cell so cold and dreary. Boethius kissed the Robe of the Mother Truth in a Roman dungeon.


Do you think the emptiness of the sky will ever crumble away? Every little child knows that everybody will go to heaven. Knowing that nothing ever happened is not really knowing that nothing ever happened, it's the golden eternity. In other words, nothing can compare with telling your brother and your sister that what happened, what is happening, and what will happen, never really happened, is not really happening and never will happen, it is only the golden eternity. Nothing was ever born, nothing will ever die. Indeed, it didnt even happen that you heard about golden eternity through the accidental reading of this scripture. The thing is easily false. There are no warnings whatever issuing from the golden eternity: do what you want.


Even in dreams be kind, because anyway there is no time, no space, no mind. "It's all not-born," said Bankei of Japan, whose mother heard this from her son did what we call "died happy." And even if she had died unhappy, dying unhappy is not really dying unhappy, it's the golden eternity. It's impossible to exist, it's impossible to be persecuted, it's impossible to miss your reward.


Eight hundred and four thousand myriads of Awakened Ones throughout numberless swirls of epochs appeared to work hard to save a grain of sand, and it was only the golden eternity. And their combined reward will be no greater and no lesser than what will be won by a piece of dried turd. It's a reward beyond thought.


When you've understood this scripture, throw it away. If you cant understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom.


O everlasting Eternity, all things and all truth laws are no- things, in three ways, which is the same way: AS THINGS OF TIME they dont exist because there is no furthest atom than can be found or weighed or grasped, it is emptiness through and through, matter and empty space too. AS THINGS OF MIND they dont exist, because the mind that conceives and makes them out does so by seeing, hearing touching, smelling, tasting, and mentally-noticing and without this mind they would not be seen or heard or felt or smelled or tasted or mentally-noticed, they are discriminated that which they're not necessarily by imaginary judgments of the mind, they are actually dependent on the mind that makes them out, by themselves they are no-things, they are really mental, seen only of the mind, they are really empty visions of the mind, heaven is a vision, everything is a vision. What does it mean that I am in this endless universe thinking I'm a man sitting under the stars on the terrace of earth, but actually empty and awake throughout the emptiness and awakedness of everything? It means that I am empty and awake, knowing that I am empty and awake, and that there's no difference between me and anything else. It means that I have attained to that which everything is.


The-Attainer-To-That-Which-Everything-Is, the Sanskrit Tathagata, has no ideas whatever but abides in essence identically with the essence of all things, which is what it is, in emptiness and silence. Imaginary meaning stretched to make mountains and as far as the germ is concerned it stretched even further to make molehills. A million souls dropped through hell but nobody saw them or counted them. A lot of large people isnt really a lot of large people, it's only the golden eternity. When St. Francis went to heaven he did not add to heaven nor detract from earth. Locate silence, possess space, spot me the ego.

"From the beginning," said the Sixth Patriarch of the China School, "not a thing is."


He who loves all life with his pity and intelligence isnt really he who loves all life with his pity and intelligence, it's only natural. The universe is fully known because it is ignored. Enlightenment comes when you dont care. This is a good tree stump I'm sitting on. You cant even grasp your own pain let alone your eternal reward. I love you because you're me. I love you because there's nothing else to do. It's just the natural golden eternity.


What does it mean that those trees and mountains are magic and unreal?- It means that those trees and mountains are magic and unreal. What does it mean that those trees and mountains are not magic but real?- it means that those trees and mountains are not magic but real. Men are just making imaginary judgments both ways, and all the time it's just the same natural golden eternity.


If the golden eternity was anything other than mere words, you could not have said "golden eternity." This means that the words are used to point at the endless nothingness of reality. If the endless nothingness of reality was anything other than mere words, you could not have said "endless nothingness of reality," you could not have said it. This means that the golden eternity is out of our word-reach, it refuses steadfastly to be described, it runs away from us and leads us in. The name is not really the name. The same way, you could not have said "this world" if this world was anything other than mere words. There's nothing there but just that. They've long known that there's nothing to life but just the living of it. It Is What It Is and That's All It Is.


There's no system of teaching and no reward for teaching the golden eternity, because nothing has happened. In the golden eternity teaching and reward havent even vanished let alone appeared. The golden eternity doesnt even have to be perfect. It is very silly of me to talk about it. I talk about it simply because here I am dreaming that I talk about it in a dream already ended, ages ago, from which I'm already awake, and it was only an empty dreaming, in fact nothing whatever, in fact nothing ever happened at all. The beauty of attaining the golden eternity is that nothing will be acquired, at last.


Kindness and sympathy, understanding and encouragement, these give: they are better than just presents and gifts: no reason in the world why not. Anyhow, be nice. Remember the golden eternity is yourself. "If someone will simply practice kindness," said Gotama to Subhuti, "he will soon attain highest perfect wisdom." Then he added: "Kindness after all is only a word and it should be done on the spot without thought of kindness." By practicing kindness all over with everyone you will soon come into the holy trance, infinite distinctions of personalities will become what they really mysteriously are, our common and eternal blissstuff, the pureness of everything forever, the great bright essence of mind, even and one thing everywhere the holy eternal milky love, the white light everywhere everything, emptybliss, svaha, shining, ready, and awake, the compassion in the sound of silence, the swarming myriad trillionaire you are.


Everything's alright, form is emptiness and emptiness is form, and we're here forever, in one form or another, which is empty. Everything's alright, we're not here, there, or anywhere. Everything's alright, cats sleep.


The everlasting and tranquil essence, look around and see the smiling essence everywhere. How wily was the world made, Maya, not-even-made.


There's the world in the daylight. If it was completely dark you wouldnt see it but it would still be there. If you close your eyes you really see what it's like: mysterious particle-swarming emptiness. On the moon big mosquitos of straw know this in the kindness of their hearts. Truly speaking, unrecognizably sweet it all is. Don't worry about nothing.


Imaginary judgments about things, in the Nothing-Ever-Happened wonderful void, you dont even have to reject them, let alone accept them. "That looks like a tree, let's call it a tree," said Coyote to Earthmaker at the beginning, and they walked around the rootdrinker patting their bellies.


Perfectly selfless, the beauty of it, the butterfly doesnt take it as a personal achievement, he just disappears through the trees. You too, kind and humble and not-even-here, it wasnt in a greedy mood that you saw the light that belongs to everybody.


Look at your little finger, the emptiness of it is no different that the emptiness of infinity.


Cats yawn because they realize that there's nothing to do.


Up in heaven you wont remember all these tricks of yours. You wont even sigh "Why?" Whether as atomic dust or as great cities, what's the difference in all this stuff. A tree is still only a rootdrinker. The puma's twisted face continues to look at the blue sky with sightless eyes, Ah sweet divine and indescribable verdurous paradise planted in mid-air! Caitanya, it's only consciousness. Not with thoughts of your mind, but in the believing sweetness of your heart, you snap the link and open the golden door and disappear into the bright room, the everlasting ecstasy, eternal Now. Soldier, follow me! - there never was a war. Arjuna, dont fight! - why fight over nothing? Bless and sit down.


I remember that I'm supposed to be a man and consciousness and I focus my eyes and the print reappears and the words of the poor book are saying, "The world, as God has made it" and there are no words in my pitying heart to express the knowless loveliness of the trance there was before I read those words, I had no such idea that there was a world.


This world has no marks, signs, or evidence of existence, nor the noises in it, like accident of wind or voices or heehawing animals, yet listen closely the eternal hush of silence goes on and on throughout all this, and has been gong on, and will go on and on. This is because the world is nothing but a dream and is just thought of and the everlasting eternity pays no attention to it. At night under the moon, or in a quiet room, hush now, the secret music of the Unborn goes on and on, beyond conception, awake beyond existence. Properly speaking, awake is not really awake because the golden eternity never went to sleep; you can tell by the constant sound of Silence which cuts through this world like a magic diamond through the trick of your not realizing that your mind caused the world.


The God of the American Plateau Indian was Coyote. He says: "Earth! those beings living on your surface, none of them disappearing, will all be transformed. When I have spoken to them, when they have spoken to me, from that moment on, their words and their bodies which they usually use to move about with, will all change. I will not have heard them."


I was smelling flowers in the yard, and when I stood up I took a deep breath and the blood all rushed to my brain and I woke up dead on my back in the grass. I had apparently fainted, or died, for about sixty seconds. My neighbor saw me but he thought I had just suddenly thrown myself on the grass to enjoy the sun. During that timeless moment of unconsciousness I saw the golden eternity. I saw heaven. In it nothing had ever happened, the events of a million years ago were just as phantom and ungraspable as the events of now, or the events of the next ten minutes. It was perfect, the golden solitude, the golden emptiness, Something-Or- Other, something surely humble. There was a rapturous ring of silence abiding perfectly. There was no question of being alive or not being alive, of likes and dislikes, of near or far, no question of giving or gratitude, no question of mercy or judgment, or of suffering or its opposite or anything. It was the womb itself, aloneness, alaya vijnana the universal store, the Great Free Treasure, the Great Victory, infinite completion, the joyful mysterious essence of Arrangement. It seemed like one smiling smile, one adorable adoration, one gracious and adorable charity, everlasting safety, refreshing afternoon, roses, infinite brilliant immaterial gold ash, the Golden Age. The "golden" came from the sun in my eyelids, and the "eternity" from my sudden instant realization as I woke up that I had just been where it all came from and where it was all returning, the everlasting So, and so never coming or going; therefore I call it the golden eternity but you can call it anything you want. As I regained consciousness I felt so sorry I had a body and a mind suddenly realizing I didn't even have a body and a mind and nothing had ever happened and everything is alright forever and forever and forever, O thank you thank you thank you.


This is the first teaching from the golden eternity.


The second teaching from the golden eternity is that there never was a first teaching from the golden eternity. So be sure.


Jack Kerouac wrote this in response to Gary Snyder's suggestion that he write his first Sutra. In 1960, when he presented it to his publisher, he said, "While I was writing this, I thought I knew what it meant, but now I don't know anymore."

“I’m an idiot! I’m an idiot! I am an idiot!”


just love blaming Clinton for their own stinking mess...!

Senate Balance of Power: GOP 49 Dems 49 Toss-Up 2

On the final Saturday of Election 2006, the race for control of the Senate is tied.

The Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power summary now rates 49 seats as Democrat or Leans Democrat and 49 seats as Republican or Leans Republican and two as Toss-Ups. The two remaining Toss-Ups are both seats defended by incumbent Republicans—Jim Talent in Missouri and George Allen in Virginia. See our complete State-by-State Summary.

Today, Rasmussen Reports is switching Tennessee from "Toss-Up" to "Leans Republican" Yesterday, we switched two states (New Jersey and Montana) from "Toss-Up" to "Leans Democrat." All three of these races are now back to where they were when the season began.

Today, we are also switching Ohio from "Leans Democrat" to "Democrat." Rhode Island and Maryland remain as "Leans Democrat."

If all of the races go as expected, Democrats would have to win both of the remaining Toss-Ups to reach the magic number of 51 seats to gain control of the Senate. If the Democrats win just one Toss-Up, there would be a 50-50 tie. In that circumstance, Vice-President Dick Cheney would cast the deciding vote in his Constitutional role as the presiding officer of the Senate.

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (D) is now running for re-election as a Independent after losing a Primary Campaign to Ned Lamont (D). However, this race has no impact on the Senate Balance of Power considerations since whichever candidate wins will line up as a Democrat when the Senate convenes next January.

History of Changes

On October 30, we shifted Washington from "Leans Democrat" to "Democrat"

On October 20, we shifted the Montana Senate race from "Leans Democrat" to "Toss-Up"

On October 16, we shifted the Virginia Senate race from "Leans Republican" to "Toss-Up"

On October 13, 2006, we shifted the Tennessee Senate race from "Leans Democrat" to "Toss-Up"

On October 10, we shifted the Pennsylvania Senate race from "Leans Democrat" to "Democrat."

On October 9, we shifted Michigan and Minnesota from "Leans Democrat" to "Democrat."

On October 2, we shifted Tennessee from "Toss-Up" to "Leans Democrat."

On September 25, we shifted Washington from "Democrat" to "Leans Democrat"

On September 18, Montana, Rhode Island, and Ohio all shifted from "Toss-Up" to "Leans Democrat."

On September 12, Washington shifted from "Leans Democrat" to "Democrat."

On September 8, Tennessee moved from "Leans Republican" to "Toss-Up."

On September 6, New Jersey shifted from "Leans Democrat" to "Toss-Up."

On September 5, Rhode Island moved from "Leans Democrat" to "Toss-Up."

On the first day of September, Rasmussen Reports changed the Minnesota Senate race from "Democrat" to "Leans Democrat."

On August 25, we shifted Pennsylvania from "Democrat" to "Leans Democrat." Santorum remains the nation's most vulnerable incumbent, but he has closed to within single digits.

On August 24, Washington moved from "Democrat" to "Leans Democrat."

On August 18, in the wake of controversial remarks by Senator George Allen, Virginia changed from "Republican" to "Leans Republican

Friday, November 03, 2006

Woman, Heaven & Hell



Military papers: ‘Rumsfeld must go’

Editorial comes days after Bush affirms defense secretary’s job security

MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 10:09 p.m. ET Nov 3, 2006

Just days after President Bush publicly affirmed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's job security through the end of his term, a family of publications catering to the military will publish an editorial calling for the defense secretary's removal.

The editorial, released to NBC News on Friday ahead of its Monday publication date, stated, "It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads."

The editorial will appear just one day before the midterm election, in which GOP candidates have been losing ground, according to recent polls.

"This is not about the midterm elections," continued the editorial, which will appear in the Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, and Marine Corps Times on Monday. "Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth: Donald Rumsfeld must go."

The newspapers are published by the Military Times Media Group.

On Wednesday, Bush had said he wants Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain in his administration until the end of his presidency, extending a vote of confidence to two of the most-criticized members of his team.

In the same interview, Bush said he did not foresee a change in the immediate future in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. He said that U.S. generals have assured him that "they've got what they can live with."

Democrats and Republicans alike have called for Rumsfeld's resignation, arguing he has mishandled the war in Iraq, where more than 2,800 members of the U.S. military have died since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Cheney has faced sharp criticism for his hard-line views and is viewed favorably by only about a third of Americans in polls. Bush said that "both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them."

Bush credited Rumsfeld with overseeing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while overhauling the military. "I'm pleased with the progress we're making," the president said. He replied in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay with him until the end.

The military publications' editorial also painted a grim view of the situation in Iraq, saying, "despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition. For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves. … And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand."

War supporters reconsider

Also Friday, several conservatives who pushed for the invasion of Iraq said they would not have supported a war if they knew how poorly the Bush administration would handle it, according to Vanity Fair magazine.

"I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam (Hussein) supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,"' said Richard Perle, who sat on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Advisory Committee until 2004.

Kenneth Adelman, who served on the Defense Policy Board with Perle, said Bush, Defense Rumsfeld and others in the administration "turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

Violence in Iraq has continued to climb, with dozens of bodies reportedly found around Baghdad on Friday. Shiites and Sunnis alike fear a reprisal in violent crime when Saddam's trial verdict is announced, which could be as soon as Sunday.

In the editorial, the military papers quote Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, as saying to a Senate Armed Services Committee in September, "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards a civil war."

© 2006 MSNBC InteractiveNBC News, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.




A New International Union Body to Tackle Corporate Greed & Unfair Globalization

ACTU President Sharan Burrow has been elected to head a new global trade union body as its first president.

Ms Burrow is currently in Vienna attending the Founding Congress of the new international trade union body: Unions International - the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Unions International is comprised of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) with eight new organisations and more to come - taking the total membership to 309 organisations in more than 156 countries.

Ms Burrow said this is an important day for the international union and labour movement. "This new unifying body will represent and give a voice to 166 million workers throughout 156 countries and territories across the globe."

"The ITUC is committed to a new internationalism as unions unite to tackle corporate greed and unfair globalisation. Defending human and labour rights, achieving stronger social protections and the right to decent work for all people are the key goals of Unions International, the ITUC.

"With few exceptions governments around world have moved to the right and are dominated by the demands of business. Union solidarity and the political power of ordinary citizens can and will continue to help restore this imbalance.

"We welcome the growth in the global economy, but we cannot leave behind the more than two billion people living on less that US$2 a day, the 187 million unemployed people with 80 million of them young people, and the around 2.2 million people dying at or from work every year. The corporate world is not contributing enough to the growth that we care about - decent work everywhere," said Ms Burrow.

The President of the Austrian Federation and the Director General of the ILO addressed the union congress, both calling for urgent attention to protect human and trade union rights and a critical commitment to eliminate the negative aspects of the social dimensions of globalisation.

More than 1,800 union delegates at the Vienna Congress ushered in the birth of this new international body and endorsed a new program for action that includes:

* Changing globalisation to promote growth with equitable distribution through decent work for all.

* Universal respect for labour rights and sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

* International regulation of multi-national business.

* Defending and promoting trade union rights.

* Fighting discrimination to achieve equality.

* Ending child enforced labour.

* Organising across borders, including in the informal economy.

The Unions International (ITUC) Congress also endorsed a commitment to mobilise workers everywhere in defence of labour rights and fair globalisation beginning with a global day of action.

"Decent work sits at the core of the labour movement. Employment without exploitation is the only sustainable solution to poverty. We have a responsibility for workers and the lives of their families everywhere.

"Our struggle is a common one - jobs, labour standards and development in the developing world and the protection and advancing of achievements in developed nations, said Ms Burrow.




International Trade Union Confederation

The (ITUC) is the world's largest trade union federation. It was formed on 1 November 2006 out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labour (WCL). The Founding Congress of the ITUC was held in Vienna and was preceded by the dissolution congresses of both the ICFTU and the WCL.

The ITUC comprises the affiliated organisations of the former ICFTU and WCL together with eight other national trade union organisations that will for, the first time, affiliate to a global body. These groups are expected to include the Confédération générale du travail in France and the Argentine Workers' Center. The World Federation of Trade Unions, previously the world's third largest global union federation, will remain independent.

The ITUC represents 166 million workers through its 309 affiliated organisations within 156 countries and territories.


As Bechtel Goes By PAUL KRUGMAN

November 3, 2006
NYT Op-Ed Columnist

Bechtel, the giant engineering company, is leaving Iraq. Its mission — to rebuild power, water and sewage plants — wasn’t accomplished: Baghdad received less than six hours a day of electricity last month, and much of Iraq’s population lives with untreated sewage and without clean water. But Bechtel, having received $2.3 billion of taxpayers’ money and having lost the lives of 52 employees, has come to the end of its last government contract.

As Bechtel goes, so goes the whole reconstruction effort. Whatever our leaders may say about their determination to stay the course and complete the mission, when it comes to rebuilding Iraq they’ve already cut and run. The $21 billion allocated for reconstruction over the last three years has been spent, much of it on security rather than its intended purpose, and there’s no more money in the pipeline.

The failure of reconstruction in Iraq raises three questions. First, how much did that failure contribute to the overall failure of the war? Second, how was it that America, the great can-do nation, in this case couldn’t and didn’t? Finally, if we’ve given up on rebuilding Iraq, what are our troops dying for?

There’s no definitive way to answer the first question. You can make a good case that the invasion of Iraq was doomed no matter what, because we never had enough military manpower to provide security. But the lack of electricity and clean water did a lot to dissipate any initial good will the Iraqis may have felt toward the occupation. And Iraqis are well aware that the billions squandered by American contractors included a lot of Iraqi oil revenue as well as U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.

Consider the symbolism of Iraq’s new police academy, which Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, has called “the most essential civil security project in the country.” It was built at a cost of $75 million by Parsons Corporation, which received a total of about $1 billion for Iraq reconstruction projects. But the academy was so badly built that feces and urine leak from the ceilings in the student barracks.

Think about it. We want the Iraqis to stand up so we can stand down. But if they do stand up, we’ll dump excrement on their heads.

As for how this could have happened, that’s easy: major contractors believed, correctly, that their political connections insulated them from accountability. Halliburton and other companies with huge Iraq contracts were basically in the same position as Donald Rumsfeld: they were so closely identified with President Bush and, especially, Vice President Cheney that firing or even disciplining them would have been seen as an admission of personal failure on the part of top elected officials.

As a result, the administration and its allies in Congress fought accountability all the way. Administration officials have made repeated backdoor efforts to close the office of Mr. Bowen, whose job is to oversee the use of reconstruction money. Just this past May, with the failed reconstruction already winding down, the White House arranged for the last $1.5 billion of reconstruction money to be placed outside Mr. Bowen’s jurisdiction. And now, finally, Congress has passed a bill whose provisions include the complete elimination of his agency next October.

The bottom line is that those charged with rebuilding Iraq had no incentive to do the job right, so they didn’t.

You can see, by the way, why a Democratic takeover of the House, if it happens next week, would be such a pivotal event: suddenly, committee chairmen with subpoena power would be in a position to investigate where all the Iraq money went.

But that’s all in the past. What about the future?

Back in June, after a photo-op trip to Iraq, Mr. Bush said something I agree with. “You can measure progress in megawatts of electricity delivered,” he declared. “You can measure progress in terms of oil sold on the market on behalf of the Iraqi people.” But what those measures actually show is the absence of progress. By any material measure, Iraqis are worse off than they were under Saddam.

And we’re not planning to do anything about it: the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is basically over. I don’t know whether the administration is afraid to ask U.S. voters for more money, or simply considers the situation hopeless. Either way, the United States has accepted defeat on reconstruction.

Yet Americans are still fighting and dying in Iraq. For what?

Go to original article


Medicaid Wants Citizenship Proof for Infant Care

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 — Under a new federal policy, children born in the United States to illegal immigrants with low incomes will no longer be automatically entitled to health insurance through Medicaid, Bush administration officials said Thursday.

Doctors and hospitals said the policy change would make it more difficult for such infants, who are United States citizens, to obtain health care needed in the first year of life.


Under federal law, hospitals generally have to examine and treat patients who need emergency care, regardless of their ability to pay. So the new policy is most likely to affect access to other types of care, including preventive services and treatment for infections and chronic conditions, doctors said.

Representative Charlie Norwood, Republican of Georgia, was a principal architect of the new law.

“Charlie’s intent was that every person receiving Medicaid needs to provide documentation,” said John E. Stone, a spokesman for Mr. Norwood, who is a dentist and has been active on health care issues. “With newborns, there should be no problem. All you have to do is provide a birth certificate or hospital records verifying birth.”

But Dr. Berkelhamer disagreed. Even when the children are eligible for Medicaid, he said, illegal immigrants may be afraid to apply because of “the threat of deportation.”

The new policy “will cost the health care system more in the long run,” Dr. Berkelhamer added, because children of illegal immigrants may go without immunizations, preventive care and treatments needed in the first year of life.

Doctors, children’s hospitals and advocacy groups have been urging states to preserve the old policy on Medicaid eligibility for children born to illegal immigrants.

Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law at George Washington University, said: “The new policy reflects a tortured reading of the new law and is contrary to the language of the 1984 statute, which Congress did not change. The whole purpose of the earlier law, passed with bipartisan support, was to make sure that a baby would not have a single day’s break in coverage from the date of birth through the first year of life.”

California has objected to the new policy. S. Kimberly Belshé, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said: “By virtue of being born in the United States, a child is a U.S. citizen. What more proof does the federal government need?”

COMMENT: What is it with George W. Bush’s deranged brand of Protestantism that just absolutely loves spreading Death & Misery around the world in the name of God ?

The Kerry apology: Democrats cower before Bush and military

By Patrick Martin
3 November 2006

John Kerry is guilty of the most fatal of blunders for an American bourgeois politician: speaking the truth inadvertently. Worst of all, his momentary lapse from conventional lying brought him into conflict with the military, the most powerful institution in contemporary America and the one that, above all others, cannot be criticized.

Kerry’s now-famous remark, at a Monday rally at Pasadena City College in southern California, resembles nothing so much as the mistaken truth-telling by Michigan Governor George Romney in 1967, when he was gearing up for a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Romney described a tour of Vietnam put on for him by the Pentagon as an exercise in “brainwashing,” a remark that, because it was so apt, destroyed his political career.

It is now well established that Kerry’s comments were a somewhat labored attempt at a joke at the expense of President Bush. According to the script prepared by his political handlers, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate was to tell the students, “I can’t overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

Instead, he mangled the line, omitting the word “us” and the final reference to Bush. The comment emerged from Kerry’s mouth as a suggestion that soldiers in Iraq were recruited from among those who did not perform well in school: “Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

What ensued was a predictable piling on by Republican spokesmen, from the White House on down, with the bulk of the American media joining in. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow took 31 questions on the Kerry comment at his Wednesday press briefing, and both Bush and Cheney rushed to denounce Kerry before friendly media interviewers. Bush was interviewed on the “Rush Limbaugh Show” Wednesday and endorsed the right-wing talk show host’s assertion that Kerry viewed US troops as “basically uneducated rubes.”

Republican Senator John McCain appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program to demand an apology from Kerry and defend the supposedly injured reputation of American soldiers. “They are not there because of academic deficiency, they are there because of love for our country,” McCain claimed.

Kerry’s initial response to such diatribes was to declare that he would not be “Swift-boated” again, a reference to his passive response to Republican smear tactics during the decisive weeks of the 2004 presidential campaign. “They’re trying to change the subject,” he declared at a press conference. “It’s their campaign of smear and fear,” he added, “This is Swift boat stuff all over again.”

Within 24 hours, however, Kerry had changed his tune, making a verbal apology on the Don Imus radio program Wednesday, then issuing a written apology that declared: “As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troops. I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended.”

Behind the apology was a near-universal disowning of Kerry by his fellow Democrats, particularly those running in closely contested Senate and House races. Three Democratic House candidates canceled Kerry appearances on their behalf, and Kerry then canceled his entire campaign schedule and returned home.

Congressman Harold Ford, the Democratic candidate for an open US Senate seat in Tennessee, declared, “Whatever the intent, Senator Kerry was wrong to say what he said,” adding, “He needs to apologize to our troops.”

Senator Hillary Clinton, the early frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, speaking at a Veteran of Foreign Wars post, joined the criticism of the 2004 Democratic nominee. “What Senator Kerry said was inappropriate,” she said.

Larry Grant, a Democratic congressional candidate in Idaho, said Kerry “shouldn’t have tried to make a joke about it in the first place.” Scott Kleeb, a Democratic candidate in Nebraska, said, “Many of us have serious concerns over the current situation in Iraq, but no one should question the intelligence and dedication of our troops. Senator Kerry’s remark was disrespectful and insulting.”

None of these sanctimonious preachments about the “honor” of the troops addressed the real circumstances under which young people, largely from the working class and with less access to higher education and high-paying jobs, actually enlist in the military. Study after study has shown that rural and small-town America, and impoverished inner-city neighborhoods, account for a disproportionate share of US military personnel.

As the casualty toll has mounted in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Bush administration’s wars have become deeply unpopular, the Army and Marines, which bear the brunt of the fighting, have had ever-greater difficulty in meeting their recruitment targets.

The Army announced last month that it had met its targets for recruiting in the 2006 fiscal year, which ended September 30, but this was accomplished only by a distinct lowering of standards. The Army raised the maximum acceptable age from 35 to 42 and decided to double the percentage of applicants scoring towards the bottom of its standardized aptitude examination, raising the limit from 2 percent to 4 percent. The Army also agreed to waive some disqualifications for criminal records that would have barred enlistment in previous years.

Particularly significant in meeting the recruiting target was the offering of cash to new recruits, with large bonuses for those accepting dangerous assignments—$40,000 for soldiers enlisting to drive convoy trucks in Iraq, for instance. Two thirds of the 80,000 new Army enlistees received some form of bonus, which one press account described as “the primary incentive for recruits.”

The Army has also greatly beefed up its corps of recruiters—like those whose efforts at recruiting minority youth in Flint, Michigan, were recorded in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11. The number of recruiters jumped from 5,500 to 6,500, while the number of recruits remained the same, an indication of the far greater effort required to pressure young people into enlisting.

The tactics employed by recruiters were documented in a report issued in August by the Government Accountability Office, which found that allegations of wrongdoing by recruiters rose by 50 percent in 2005, to 6,600 cases, compared to 4,400 in 2005. The number of cases judged to be substantiated after investigation rose by a slightly greater percentage, from 400 to 630, while criminal violations by recruiters more than doubled, from 33 to 68. The violations included coercion, sexual harassment, falsifying documents and concealing information that would otherwise disqualify an enlistee. More than 80 military recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct with potential recruits.

In an effort to step up the pressure on recruits, the Pentagon has also contracted out recruiting in some areas to private companies, rather than entrusting this task to uniformed personnel. These civilian recruiters are little better than bounty-hunters, paid nearly $6,000 per head, and accounting for more than 15,000 of the new enlistees this year—a payoff approaching $100 million in blood money.

Since the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Pentagon officials have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the difficulties confronting recruiting and the consequent danger that the size of the US armed forces remains too small to accomplish the ambitious goals set out in the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

Kerry is undoubtedly aware of these concerns, which have been voiced especially by those retired military officers who endorsed his 2004 campaign or are running as Democratic candidates in 2006. It is quite possible that this awareness contributed to his verbal slip in Pasadena.

The Democrats are incapable of acknowledging what is understood by any politically honest observer: that many of those who enlist in the US military, to be transformed into the oppressive occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are themselves victims of injustice, oppression and poverty within American society.

The abject prostration of his fellow Democrats to the howls of feigned outrage about Kerry’s “insult” to the troops is a politically significant event. It demonstrates the basic commitment of the Democratic Party, whatever minor differences exist on tactics, to the Bush administration’s program of war and aggression—a commitment that will be quickly and clearly manifested should the Democrats gain control of either or both houses of Congress in next week’s midterm elections.

COMMENT: Hopefully, that conclusion will be proved false. While a Democratic Majority Congress might not immediately defund Bush’s little misadventure in Iraq, at the very least, if they are wise, they’ll be preparing the ground for President Hillary to be credited with the inevitable strategic withdrawal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and provided Thursday Oct. 26, 2006 shows the scattered remains of an exploded star named Cassiopeia A. Spitzer's infrared detectors 'picked' through these remains and found that much of the star's original layering had been preserved. In this false-color image, the faint, blue glow surrounding the dead star is material that was energized by a shock wave, called the forward shock, which was created when the star blew up. The forward shock is now located at the outer edge of the blue glow. Stars are also seen in blue. Green, yellow and red primarily represent material that was ejected in the explosion and heated by a slower shock wave, called the reverse shock wave. ( Photo/NASA)



Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Will a shocking new GOP court victory and Karl Rove's attack on Ohio 2006 doom the Democrats nationwide?

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 30, 2006

COLUMBUS---With a major GOP federal court victory, the Ohio 2006 election has descended into the calculated chaos that has become the trademark of a Karl Rove election theft, and that could help keep the Congress in Republican hands nationwide.

Through a complex series of legal maneuvers, and now a shocking new decision from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the GOP has thrown Ohio's entire process of voting and vote counting into serious disarray. The mess is perfectly designed to suppress voter turnout, make election monitoring and a recount impossible, and allow the Republican Party to emerge with a victory despite overwhelming evidence the electorate wants exactly the opposite.

The disaster in Ohio began immediately after the theft of the presidential election here in 2004. [MORE]


Related story:

Is Rove's Election Confidence Warranted?

Relying on sophisticated, computerized voter-targeting and swarms of contact people working the final 72 hours of the campaign, Rove's machine can erase multiple points of polling margin in important races. It costs millions, but Rove raises money with the best of them -- including powerful officeholders.

So going into the final week with this apparatus going full throttle, Rove can go on the air sounding so assured that he gets Democrats everywhere talking to themselves. When he says his math -- "THE math" -- shows his candidates winning, he means it. He's reading the polls the way they make sense to him, based on how past polling has matched up against the assault of his 72-hour juggernaut.

Go to article

QUERY: Who thinks Kerry should voluntarily go to the guillotine…? (Just asking…)



From the POLITICS AS FARCE files

Prime Minister Kerensky: But Vladimir Illych, I misspoke…

Comrade Lenin: Jay Leno you’re not…

Comrade Trotsky: Ho-ho-ho…

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The GOP senator says his Democratic rival, the state treasurer, lets pension funds go to rogue nations.

By Michael Rubinkam
Associated Press

Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) accused his Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., of "aiding and abetting terrorism and genocide" by allowing state pension funds to be invested in companies linked to rogue nations. The charge drew a sharp rebuke yesterday from Casey, who called the allegations "wild and outrageous."

Appearing yesterday in Philadelphia with Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican who has pressed the terrorist-investment issue in her state, Santorum said Casey should be doing more to divest $6.5 billion from companies that do business in nations such as Syria and Sudan.

Santorum cited a 2004 report from the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank, which studied the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System, the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, and pension funds around the country.

"I'm the one trying to fight this war politically and economically so we don't have to fight it militarily, and he is asleep at the switch because he's not doing his job," said Santorum, who is seeking his third term.

Casey, a board member for both pension funds, said he has taken steps to prevent pension dollars from going to companies that do business with nations linked to terrorism. Last month, he said, he called on the Bush administration to release a list of such companies, but was "stonewalled." Casey said he also sent a letter on Sept. 1 to investment managers to assess whether any companies in their holdings do business in terrorist sponsoring countries.

"It's a really desperate campaign," Casey said of Santorum after a rally in Berks County.
Steelman said state treasurers should not wait on a list from the federal government.

Casey said the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System considered following the California pension board in hiring a private firm to provide a report on companies linked to nations supporting terrorism, but found the reports to be "worthless," as did California, said Larry Smar, Casey's campaign spokesman.

The Casey campaign criticized Santorum for receiving more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from four companies identified as having business ties in nations supporting terrorism - UBS, Siemens, HSBC, and Deutsche Bank. Santorum said his campaign would give the money to charity.

"We will give it away, even though it is fundamentally different: American citizens giving me campaign contributions, and taking police officers' and firefighters' money and investing it in Syria and Sudan," Santorum said. "They try to bring up these moral equivalencies."

Santorum appeared at news conferences Sunday in Pittsburgh and yesterday in Philadelphia with Steelman, who began pressing her state's pension boards last year. Missouri has hired a private company to screen investments, which Santorum said he favored.

Santorum also criticized Casey for not releasing information on where the state Treasury Department is investing money.

The department is in the process of complying with a complicated "fishing expedition" filed by Santorum's campaign, Smar said.

Inquirer staff writer Carrie Budoff contributed to this article.

COMMENT: Okay…The Republicans are becoming totally ridiculous now. They should just accept their fates & leave the stage gracefully…Then hang themselves in private…!!!



(How many times do you have tell that guy: NO JOKES ALLOWED!!! At least, not just before the goddamn Elections…! )

By Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent

An angry Senator John F. Kerry castigated Republicans at a nationally televised press conference this afternoon, accusing conservatives of twisting his words of a "botched joke" to suggest that students who do poorly in school will end up as soldiers serving in Iraq.

"My statement yesterday, and the White House knows this full well, was a botched joke about the President and the President's people not about the troops," Kerry said at a press conference in Seattle. "The White Houses attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure making America safe.

Kerry continued: "I'm sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks, most of which come from people who never wore the uniform and never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves."

The Democratic senator and 2004 presidential nominee has been under fire since he spoke Monday at campaign rally in California. According to the Pasadena Star-News: "Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps."

Conservative pundits have accused Kerry of suggesting that if students don't do well in school, they could end up in Iraq. White House Spokesman Tony Snow and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney both called on Kerry to apologize.

"I apologize to no one for my criticism of the President and of his broken policy," Kerry said this afternoon. "If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology it is the President and his failed team and a Republican majority of the Congress that has been willing to stamp, rubber stamp, policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families."

Before Kerry's press conference, Romney issued a statement through his spokesman while he campaign from Republican gubernatorial candidates in Idaho and Oregon.

"Senator Kerry owes an apology to the thousands of men and women serving in Iraq, particularly the many patriotic soldiers from Massachusetts who come from all backgrounds to defend our freedoms," Romney said.


He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day,
nor the pillar of fire by night,
from before the people.

-- Exodus 13:22 (KJV)


U.S. Drops Bid Over Royalties From Chevron

The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government.

Interior officials said on Friday that they had no choice but to drop their order to Chevron because a department appeals board had ruled against auditors in a separate case.

But state governments and private landowners have challenged the company over essentially the same practices and reached settlements in which the company has paid $70 million in additional royalties.

In a written statement, the department’s Minerals Management Service said it would have been useless to fight Chevron.

“It is not in the public interest to spend federal dollars pursuing claims that have little or no chance of success,” the agency said. “M.M.S. lost a contested and controversial issue” before the appeals board. “Had we simply wanted to capitulate to ‘big oil,’ the agency would not have issued the order in the first place.”

Chevron said in a written statement that it “endeavors to calculate and pay its oil and gas royalties correctly,” and it said that the Interior Department had agreed.

The agency notified Chevron of its decision in a confidential letter on Aug. 3, which The New York Times obtained recently under the Freedom of Information Act.

The reversal in the case, which involves Chevron’s accounting of natural gas sales to a company it partly owned, has renewed criticism that the Bush administration is reluctant to confront oil and gas companies and is lax in collecting royalties.

“The government is giving up without a fight,” said Richard T. Dorman, a lawyer representing private citizens suing Chevron over its federal royalty payments. “If this decision is left standing, it would result in the loss of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars in royalties owed by other companies.”

In return for the right to drill on federal lands and in federal waters, energy companies are required to pay the government a share of their proceeds. Last year, businesses producing natural gas paid $5.15 billion in government royalties.

But the Bush administration has come under fire on Capitol Hill for its record on collecting payments. While the Interior Department has sweetened incentives for exploration and pushed to open wilderness areas for drilling, it has also cut back on full-scale audits of companies intended to make sure they are paying their full share.

Administration officials knew that dozens of companies had incorrectly claimed exemptions from royalties since 2003, but they waited until December 2005 to send letters demanding about $500 million in repayments.

In February, the Interior Department acknowledged that oil companies could escape more than $7 billion in payments because of mistakes in leases signed in the 1990s. Top officials are trying to renegotiate those deals, but some Republicans and Democrats have complained that the administration is dragging its feet.

In addition, four government auditors last month publicly accused the Interior Department of blocking their efforts to recover more than $30 million from the Shell Oil Corporation, the Kerr-McGee Corporation and other major companies.

“This latest revelation proves that the Bush administration is incapable of preventing big oil companies from cheating taxpayers,” said Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the House Committee on Resources. “The public has been systematically fleeced out of royalties that these companies owe for the privilege of drilling for oil and gas on lands belonging to all of us.”

The Chevron case offers a glimpse into what is normally a secretive process. To protect what energy companies consider proprietary information, the Interior Department does not announce that it is accusing companies of underpaying royalties nor does it announce its settlements in these disputes. The government also does not disclose how much money each company pays in royalties.

In theory, companies are required to pay the government a royalty of 12 percent to 16 percent of their sales. In practice, the definition of sales is as convoluted as a Rubik’s Cube.

In the Chevron case, auditors in the Minerals Management Service were addressing an issue that had bedeviled royalty enforcement for decades: How does the government make sure it gets its due when companies sell natural gas to businesses they partly own?

In 1996, Chevron sold its holdings in more than 50 processing plants to Dynegy in exchange for a 26 percent stake in the natural gas company, which is based in Houston. For the next seven years, Chevron sold virtually all its domestic natural gas to Dynegy for processing.

In their original accusations, dating to 2001, the auditors asserted that Chevron had understated sales, and hence its royalty obligations, by inflating costs for processing gas at Dynegy.

Companies are allowed to deduct processing costs from their sales revenues when they calculate their royalty obligations. Processing involves separating water and a variety of liquid fuels like propane and methane from raw natural gas. The auditors’ accusations were not unique. State officials in New Mexico challenged Chevron over the same issue — “non-arms-length” deals, as regulators call them — and Chevron agreed to pay $10.4 million in extra royalties without admitting wrongdoing. Private property owners who leased land to Chevron sued over the same issue in Oklahoma, and the company paid $60 million last year to settle out of court.

“The natural gas processing business lends itself almost uniquely to chicanery,” said Spencer Hosie, a lawyer who has represented the states of Louisiana and Alaska in several court fights over oil and gas royalties. “It is a complicated and opaque business, and there are many opportunities to shade judgments and numbers.”

From 2001 to 2003, after detailed audits of several Chevron leases, the Interior Department said the company was reducing its “sales value” by exaggerating processing costs at six of Dynegy’s many plants. At one plant, auditors estimated Chevron had claimed five times the actual costs.

At first glance, the suspected underpayments seemed trivial: about $6 million out of hundreds of millions in royalties. But the audits were limited to only a handful of plants. Had the Interior Department pressed its claims successfully, it could have recovered money tied to all the other plants, and for other years.

Chevron paid the $6 million but appealed. The file in that case now runs more than 900 pages, most of it still off-limits to the public.

Mr. Hosie, who represented Louisiana in a lawsuit that led to a $100 million verdict against Chevron over underpaid oil royalties, expressed surprise at the federal government’s decision in the natural gas case.

“Is it even remotely likely that oil companies systematically underpay private royalty owners and state governments, but pay the federal government perfectly properly?” Mr. Hosie asked. “Isn’t it more likely they are underpaying everybody?”

A Chevron spokesman, Donald Campbell, said laws regulating state and private leases often differed significantly from those of the federal government. “The rules governing valuation vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,” Mr. Campbell said in a statement.

Chevron argued that New Mexico’s rules presumed that a deal was “not at arms length” — and that costs had to be calculated differently — if one company owned 10 percent to 50 percent of the other. The federal regulations, Chevron said, required auditors to consider additional factors before making such a determination. Because of a backlog, the appeals board had not considered Chevron’s appeal when Interior Department officials decided they could not win. But if the appeals board had overruled the auditors, federal regulations would have allowed the interior secretary to let a federal court decide the issue.

In their letter to Chevron, department officials did not say the underlying facts had changed. Rather, they noted that the agency’s Board of Land Appeals had rejected similar accusations about non-arm’s-length agreements involving two other companies, Vastar Resources and Southern Companies.

The appeals board ruled in 2005 that the Minerals Management Service had failed to show that Vastar had any real control over a partnership it had formed with Southern to sell its gas. The board said Vastar had provided “uncontroverted evidence” that the sales prices had been negotiated at arm’s length between companies with “opposing economic interests.”

But the Chevron case differed in several important ways.

The government never audited Vastar in reaching its conclusions and had provided a largely theoretical opinion when the company asked for guidance. By contrast, auditors had scrutinized Chevron, which is based in San Ramon, Calif., and Dynegy and backed their arguments with supporting data.

Chevron’s ties with Dynegy also appeared to be closer than those between the other companies. Chevron described Dynegy as an affiliate in some reports to shareholders. Chevron was also Dynegy’s biggest supplier of raw natural gas, its biggest customer for gas processing and one of its biggest for processing byproducts like propane and methane.
Administration officials said they had “carefully reviewed” similarities and differences between the cases, but offered little elaboration.

“We recognize that other parties may assert various arguments regarding the relationship between the Vastar and Chevron situations,” the Minerals Management Service said in its written response to questions, “but the agency’s evaluation and deliberative processes are privileged.”

John Bemis, the assistant commissioner for gas and minerals in New Mexico, said his state was challenging a growing number of such alliances. In addition to the $10.4 million royalty settlement with Chevron, New Mexico persuaded ConocoPhillips to settle a similar case in August for $9.5 million and is negotiating with BP in a third case.

Interior Department officials have shown little interest in evidence from either New Mexico’s experience or a current court fight with Chevron over federal royalties.

On July 11, three weeks before the department dropped its case against Chevron, Mr. Dorman and other lawyers involved in a Texas lawsuit against Chevron wrote to Interior Department officials. The lawyers, who represent a whistle-blower seeking to recover money for the federal government, said they were suing Chevron over the same issues the department had raised.

“All we were saying was that they should wait to see what evidence we turned up, and that we would gladly share everything we had with them,” Mr. Dorman said. His firm faxed a letter to the policy appeals division. Getting no response, the lawyers sent a copy by U.P.S. Six days later, it was returned. The reason, according to the U.P.S. label: “Receiver did not want, refused delivery.”

The agency confirmed in a statement that it knew of the lawyers’ case. Asked why it refused to accept their letter, the Minerals Management Service said it could not comment “because these matters are the subject of pending litigation.”


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