Hang On While Ya Can

Rollin’ through to fifty

The end becomes more clear

Rollin’ through a life time

I don’t care when it comes

Not afraid of dying

Nothing to fear in the end

I’d love to live forever

But only in the mind

A body can take so much ya know

And come to end so swift

Take care, be healthy, Why?

No one comes to it intact

Work from Nine to Five

Gather a lifetime of trinkets

Push on through to the big Six-Oh!

If luck is with you

You don’t go too far

You can still remember your name

Slow on to the 80s

Hangin’ on to life

I’d rather go out quickly

With beauty still and vital

Push too far you go insane

You never know it though

Life began at thirty

You get a good few years

But the doctors and Big Brother

They want you to kick around

Taxes and insurance

That’s why we push for more

Think it’s for your life

Guess again, think again, revolt

Push on through?

I don’t think so

Break on through instead

The other side is calling

Mystery and myst it seems

Yet it draws us back, I know not why or how

The American Dream, the life fandango, to boogie with a kid

We are bedazzled by the blind

I don’t want to live forever

Death is not my enemy

But I’ll hang on while I can

Sorrow and Joy

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On Joy and Sorrow
Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Question all things…

“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” — Buddha

The Story of Don Gato

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O Senor Don Gato was a cat.
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
He was there to read a letter,
(meow, meow, meow)
where the reading light was better,
(meow, meow, meow)
‘Twas a love-note for Don Gato!


“I adore you,” wrote the ladycat,
who was fluffy white, and nice and fat.
There was not a sweeter kitty,
(meow, meow, meow)
in the country or the city
(meow, meow, meow)
and she said she’d wed Don Gato!


O Senor Don Gato jumped with glee!
He fell off the roof and broke his knee,
broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
(meow, meow, meow)
and his little solar plexus
(meow, meow, meow)
“Ay Caramba!!” cried Don Gato.


All the doctors they came on the run,
just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation,
(meow, meow, meow)
about how to save their patient,
(meow, meow, meow)
how to save Senor Don Gato.


But in spite of everything they tried,
poor Senor Don Gato up and died.
No, it wasn’t very merry,
(meow, meow, meow)
going to the cemetary,
(meow, meow, meow)
for the ending of Don Gato.


But as the funeral passed the market square,
such a smell of fish was in the air,
though the burial was plated,
(meow, meow, meow)
he became reanimated,
(meow, meow, meow)
he came back to life, Don Gato!

Absolutely loved this song when I was a kid.  We sang this at Franklin Elementary School off of Frankfurt Avenue.  It’s a fun little song.

Tamerlane Macabre

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I was reading Tamerlane ~ Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World when I came across this passage.  I laughed out loud.  Unny was sitting beside me and looked at me funny.  So I “made” her read the passage. She looked at me like I was an idiot and asked me why it was funny.

I couldn’t really explain why?  It just was….

Tamerlane ~ Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World

The book was a most entertaining read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Justin Marozzi has a similar style to John Man.  Man writes exhaustively about Central Asia, China, Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai.

Timur was a madman.  I love the guy.

We need a Timur or a Genghis in our age.  Someone with the balls to do what is necessary rather than politicize and haggle like clucking hens.

Khmer Apsara 2010

I purchased this painting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I’m a huge fan of the Apsara theme and the mythology behind them.

Also picked up the Angkor themed painting below.

Kabul Beauty School

This is an old post that I wrote up a few months ago while I was in Herat, Afghansitan.  This happened between June and September 2007 in Kabul.

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I read the book Kabul Beauty School and decided to seek out the real place.  The actual beauty school.  Try to meet the author and get her to sign the book.  The books more about life in Kabul than just a Beauty school.  So I get there and decide to get a hair cut.  This is a few years back.  The reason that I decide to get a hair cut is that the receptionist is pretty as hell.  lol  Just an excuse to talk to her and stick around longer.  And she smelled so good I didn’t want to stop inhaling her scent.  Whatever it was.  Some combination of fruit and flowers that left my knees weak.  haha

I get my hair cut and while in the middle of that.  I’m talking to the receptionist.  I get her name ~ M….  She’s Afghani but had moved to London with her parents during the diaspora.  I figured she was about 24 or 25.  We talked for a while and eventually I talk her into meeting me for lunch at my hotel.  We exchange phone numbers.

Back to the hair cut.  The gal cutting my hair had underarm stench that cut the freakin’ wind.  A couple times I actually thought that I was going to start gagging or pass out from it.  It was strong.  Like she hadn’t taken a bath in a month stink.  I just started laughing.  I let her finish my hair.  She does an ok job.  I spike my hair up anyway so if they screw it up, it usually looks like I did it on purpose.  lol

Back to M.

M calls me up and asks me to meet her in the lobby of my hotel.  I get all excited.  Woohoo, I’ve got a DATE in Kabul, Afghanistan!  hahahaha  You have no idea how big a deal that is until you spend a few months in Afghanistan.

She shows up with a body guard and stinky hair cut lady as a chaperon.  We have tea and talk for a while down in the coffee shop in the mall area of my hotel.  And it’s actually a pleasant afternoon and good conversation.  I seem to have met a Kabuli socialite.

Her body guard has an AK47.  And stands there like he’s ready for the attack from hell.

Of course, I am the perfect gentleman during this meeting and each subsequent meeting under the watchful gaze of the body guard.  The last couple of meetings she didn’t bring the chaperon.  But she never went any where without her body guard.  She laughed at me for being nervous.

Turns out M is only 20.

And she is a member of the extended family of Agha Khan.

If you don’t know who Agha Khan is…look the dude up.  He’s so rich that he has his own consulate in London and a couple of other countries.  He’s the head of the Ismaeli Clan.  The Ismaelis are a sect of Islam.  Shi’a Islam.  They’re small.  Maybe 30 million worldwide.  The largest group is in Canada.  Agha Khan is their leader/father/benefactor.  He sets up scholarship foundations for them.  Businesses and keeps them organized and in touch.  He’s no Osama bin Laden.  Quite the opposite.  He believes in education.  For Muslims.  Men and women.

Anyway, I meet with M a few more times.  At first because I’m interested and I think I might get laid.  lol  Then later, I figure out that there ain’t a prayer in hell of getting laid and it’s just interesting talking to this girl.

Out of curiosity, I asked a guy named Sher Ahmad (a whole other story) who is the Security Boss of Rashid Dostum (look him up).  I asked Sher what would happen if I wanted to marry M.  He told me with a straight face; “David, they would kill you.”  I looked at him in disbelief at first.  Then I just laughed.  Realizing that he was telling the truth.  That’s when he told me that she was a relative of Agha Khan and she would be matched with another Ismaeli and never have a worry in her life.

She emails me out of the blue every once in a while.  She returned to London not long before I departed for Herat.  Apparently, they’d found out that she was meeting with some strange American.  Thankfully, I had sense enough to not make any Rico Suave moves on her or anything stupid like that.  The bastards probably would have killed me had I tried.  For me, it was enough to meet an nice, educated Afghan woman and learn a bit more about the culture.

I tell ya.  Lots of crazy experiences over here.

The first email that I got from her after her return to London:  “David, I miss you so much.”  I must have been her first crush.  It was a cute email.  She was a nice girl and pretty as hell.  Had this lilting sing song voice that made ya wanna break out in song yourself.  It was a great experience for me and a beautiful side of Kabul that not too many Westerners are privileged to have.

When We All Get to…HELL?

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Annie Dillard:

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.” “Then why,” asked the Inuit earnestly, “did you tell me?”

Dante Aleghieri:

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.

John Milton:

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.

Marcus Aurelius:

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.

Mark Twain:

Travel has no longer any charm for me. I have seen all the foreign countries I want to except heaven & hell & I have only a vague curiosity about one of those.

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

“The Bible has noble poetry in it and some clever fables; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.”

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The Famous Blue Mosque of Mezr-e Sherif ~ The Shrine of Hazrat Ali (Rawza Sakhi)

Located in Mezr-e Sherif…

Mazār-e Sharīf or Mazāri Sharīf (Persian: مزارِ شریف) is the fourth largest city of Afghanistan, with population of 300,600 people (2006 estimate). It is the capital of Balkh province and is linked by roads to Kabul in the south-east, Herat to the west and Uzbekistan to the north. Mazari Sharif means “Noble Shrine,” a reference to the large, blue-tiled sanctuary and mosque in the center of the city known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali or the Blue Mosque. It is believed by some Muslims that the site of the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, is in Mazari Sharif. Twelver Shi’as however, believe that the real grave of Ali is found within Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq, as was disclosed by the Sixth Twelver Shi’a Imam, Ja’far as-Sadiq.[1] The city is a major tourist attraction because of its fabulous Muslim and Hellenistic archeological sites. In July 2006, the discovery of new Hellenistic remains was announced.[2] The ethnic majority in the city are Tajiks.

An interesting story about a man’s travels in Mazar-e Sherif.

The Shrine of Hazrat Ali, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a mosque in Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan. It is one of the reputed burial places of Ali. It is the building which gives the city in which it is located, Mazari Sharif (meaning “Tomb of the Exalted”) its name.[1]

According to Shi’a Muslim belief, Ali was originally buried by his two sons, Hasan and Husayn in an undisclosed location, which was later made known by the great, grandson of Husayn and Sixth Shi’a Imam, Ja’far as-Sadiq – as the grave that is found within Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.[2]

A funny coincidence.  As I sit here researching the Mosque and The Shrine of Ali, my good friend Shoaib (my Terp) calls me on the phone.  I had just texted him “Eid Mubarak” as today is the beginning of Eid for Muslims.  He called to say thank you for the text and to tell me that he’d just arrived in Mazar-e Sherif.

Life is full of coincidences like that for me.  So cool.  I like it.

The story of the founding of the shrine indicates that, shortly after the murder of Ali and the burial of his body at Najaf, near Baghdad, some of Ali’s followers worried that his body would be desecrated by his enemies, and they placed his remains on a white female camel. Ali’s followers traveled with the camel for several weeks, until the camel ultimately fell to the ground exhausted. The body was then reburied where the camel fell.[1] The body was said to be redisovered there in the 12th century.

Decoration of the mosque

According to tradition, Mazari Sharif owes its existence to a dream. At the beginning of the 1100s, a local mullah had a dream in which Ali bin Abi Talib, the prophet’s cousin and son-in-law and one of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs appeared to reveal that he had been secretly buried near the city of Balkh. After investigation, the Seljuk sultan Sanjar ordered a city and shrine to be built on the spot, where it stood until its destruction by Genghis Khan. Although later rebuilt, Mazar stood in the shadow of its neighbor Balkh, until that city was abandoned in 1866 for health reasons.
Some of the artwork on the Blue Mosque. It is now the academic knowledge that the holy mazar which prior to 1100 AD was also sacred, as there is documentation of a “holy man” (with no reference to a name) being buried there, is, in fact, the eternal resting place of Zarathustra the Aryan (Iran-Afghan-Tajik) prophet who was killed in Balkh (Bactria) and was buried in that location. After the invasion of Arabs in order to protect the mausoleum, the guardians of the shrine decided to in a way erase that fact to protect the shrine similar to how the guardians of the shrine of Kurush (Cyrus) told the Arabs that the shrine is the temple of Solomon (Hazrat-e- Soleyman) to keep it from destruction. Later in saljuq’s time, probably a guardian of the shrine or someone who knew of the real story approaches the sultan as a mullah and tells the Turkish king that he dreamt about Ali being buried around Balkh and guides the sultan to the shrine, persuading the sultan to rebuild it. Therefore,Zoroaster rests in the heart of the original land of Aryans Aryanem vaije (eranvij=ایران ویچ).

The Seljuq dynasty sultan Ahmed Sanjar rebuilt the first shrine at this location. it was destroyed by Genghis Khan in the invasion around 1220. It was rebuilt in the 15th century by Husain Baiqara. [3]Most of the shrine’s decorations, however, are the result of modern restoration work. [1] One of the few remaining artifacts from the earlier shrine is a marble slab inscribed with the words, “Ali, Lion of God.”[3]

A site plan of the location made in the 1910s shows that there had earlier been a smaller walled precinct in the mosque, which were razed to create parklands later, although the portals to this precincts still remain as gateways for the shrine.[3]

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The core of the shrine contains Zarathustra’s tomb chamber and its ziaratkhana, which is an antechamber for prayer and worship. Tombs of varying dimensions were added for a number of Afghan political and religious leaders over the years, which has led to the development of its current irregular dimensions. These include the square domed tomb of Amir Dost Muhammad and a similar structure for Amir Sher Ali and his family. [3]

This is a beautiful Mosque and is hundreds of years old.  I have been to the Blue Mosque of Herat.  The Masjid Jam-e.  I’d love to visit Mez and take in the site up there.  I hear it’s a beautiful land.  Perhaps someday, I’ll make that journey.  Maybe I’ll talk to my friend Sher Abed and see if I can be a guest of Rashid Dostom  who is the King of the North.

Peace and Eid Mubarak!

The Media: How Do They Get It So Wrong? ALL THE TIME!

Camp Phoenix, on the outskirts of Kabul, is run by US forces, with some NATO member nations maintaining a presence there.

It is also a base for the Afghan army, which is being trained by international forces in the hope it can take over the responsibility for fighting the Taliban insurgency.

The camp occasionally comes under attack, mostly from rocket and mortar fire, though without casualties.

Camp Phoenix has never been mortared.  It’s never been rocketed.  Not while I was there.  Not while I was at Camp Eggers and not in the past 3 years.  I’d know.  I lived at Camp Phoenix for one year.  I lived on Camp Eggers for a year as well and visited Phoenix frequently.  I’ve been to Camp Phoenix several times over the past 3 years as well.  I have friends at Camp Phoenix right now.  One who has been there for 3 years.

Camp Phoenix has never been a training base for Afghans either.  Not the ANA or the ANP.  There are two Camps about ten miles down the road called Camp Blackhorse and the Kabul Military Training Complex (KMTC).  Afghans are trained there.  Afghans are trained at Darulaman and there are 2 or three ANP training bases within and around Kabul on which ANP are trained.

I see this happening all the time.  The Associated Press (AP) picks up a story written by some idiot who never leaves the safe confines of his hotel room or villa in Shahr-e Naw or Wazir Akhbar Khan.  These morons report as if they are on the scene.  They mix up place and location.  They hack together stories based on second hand information and pawn it off on the public as gospel truth.  The guy who wrote this story should be fired.  He printed a hand full of lies and sent it in as if he had actually visited the places about which he wrote.  A bunch of older hacks will probably award this poltroon a  Pulitzer and they’ll all sit around in a smoke filled chamber and congratulate each other on their bravery and literary brilliance.

I’ve seen this kind of irresponsible writing of lies and half truths all over the globe.  Korea when Kim Il Sung died.  When Qandahar was attacked.  In Kabul after various attacks.  In Herat after suicide bombings.  From whom do these morons obtain their “facts?”  Dr. Suess?  The Brothers Grimm?  Hanna- Barbera?  Does anyone back home in America fact check or edit their hotel room ramblings?

I read the newspaper and online journals and I often wonder if these folks are even in country.  What happened to reporting from the front?  These guys are reporting from the whorehouse or from the tea parlor.  They’re definitely NOT on the scene.  Not here in Afghanistan.  I can assure you of that.

H.L. Mencken

What is any political campaign save a concerted effort to turn out a set of politicians who are admittedly bad and put in a set who are thought to be better. The former assumption, I believe is always sound; the latter is just as certainly false. For if experience teaches us anything at all it teaches us this: that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right… The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.

We live in a land of abounding quackeries, and if we do not learn how to laugh we succumb to the melancholy disease which afflicts the race of viewers-with-alarm… In no other country known to me is life as safe and agreeable, taking one day with another, as it is in These States. Even in a great Depression few if any starve, and even in a great war the number who suffer by it is vastly surpassed by the number who fatten on it and enjoy it. Thus my view of my country is predominantly tolerant and amiable. I do not believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that it provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind.

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. . . [and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men.

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.

I very well may have posted these before. They bear repeating.

Private Dancer by Stephen Leather

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It’s a damn good read.

I read this book about 3 months ago.  It’s a fascinating read.  At the time I read it, though, I thought it to be all fiction.  Recently, I found out that it’s based on real events and real people.  Even if loosely based, it’s still amazing to me that anyone could be as foolish and idiotic as Pete.  It’s mindboggling that anyone could do anything remotely resembling his acts of stupidity and treachery.

I have, in my travels, been witness to similar events.  Bar girls using their wiles to goad foolish, naive men into handing over large sums of money.  Men using women for sex while telling them that they love them and are going to marry them and take them home.  Relationships began on completely false pretext.  Everything.  I’ve seen it somewhere.

But this book takes the cake.  It was a fast and easy read.  Stephen Leather gives a glimpse into the seedier side of Bangkok life.  When you read it, realize that this is only a part of that life.  It’s a small part as well.  I’ve met hundreds of regular women and men in Thailand who aren’t constantly working a scam on some dumb farang.  I’ve met people who straddle the line as well as the voyeurs who interact and watch but never participate.  Life is fascinating in Bangkok.  It can really twist up a weak soul.  Wrap you around the wings of the dark angels and drag you down.  DEEP into murky waters.  It can also be a pleasant experience and uplifting.  Depends on what and where you are seeking your experience.

Just be careful.  It’s all about situational awareness as we say in Afghanistan.  Keep your eyes open.  Don’t be a fool.

Peace.

‘I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but it was pretty close. She had the longest hair I’d ever seen, jet black and almost down to her waist. She had soft brown eyes that made my heart melt, long legs that just wouldn’t quit and a figure to die for. She was naked except for a pair of black leather ankle boots with small chrome chains on the side. I think it was the boots that did it for me.’

Thailand 1996. The Year Of The Rat. Pete, a young travel writer, wanders into a Bangkok go-go bar and meets the love of his life. Joy is the girl of his dreams: young, stunningly pretty, and one of the Zombie Bar’s top-earning pole dancers. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs and deception, as Pete discovers that his very own private dancer is not all that she claims to be. And that far from being the girl of his dreams, Joy is his own personal nightmare.

For many years Private Dancer was only available as a free download through my website. It became something of a cult classic and over the last five years was downloaded sixty thousand times from more than forty countries. I gleaned much of the information for the book sitting in a bar called Jool’s in Sukhumvit Soi 4, just down the road from Bangkok’s infamous Nana Plaza red light area. The owner, Big Dave, knows pretty much everything there is to know about Thailand, and he’s the basis for the Big Ron character in the book.

Hodder and Stoughton didn’t want to publish Private Dancer as it is so different from my regular thrillers, so I decided to publish the book myself in Thailand, through my own publishing company, Three Elephants. (Three Elephants is an anagram of Stephen Leather!)

The striking cover photograph, of a naked girl holding a cut-throat razor behind her back, was taken in Anglewitch Bar in Nana Plaza and features one of the bar’s top showgirls. It took us ages to find the right girl. When I originally wrote the book, the fashion was for the girls to grow their hair long. But these days they trend to cut it short, make it curly, or dye it red or blonde. I sat with my friend Andrew Yates for hours outside Nana Plaza in search of the right girl, but it seemed as if the only ones with long straight hair were the ladyboys! My pal Paul Owen took the photograph. I borrowed the cut-throat razor from my barber and it took us almost an hour to get the shot right. I’m really pleased with the result – think it’s one of my best covers.

The book got great reviews from Bernard Trink at the Bangkok Post and the Pattaya Mail, both taking the view that Private Dancer should be required reading for all visitors to the Land of Smiles. Forewarned is forearmed! I think it works so well because it gives the story from so many viewpoints, including several Thai characters. Most books about the Thai bar scene only give the Westerners point of view.

Private Dancer is available at all good book shops throughout Thailand, especially Bookazine and Asia Books outlets, and is also on sale at the airport. There is still a free download available of an early version of Private Dancer. CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE DOWNLOAD. The book has more detail on what happened to the characters so if you enjoy the download you’ll want to buy the book eventually!

In 2005, Phil Tatham, who runs Monsoon Books in Singapore, wanted to add the book to his growing stable of publications, and I agreed to let him have publication rights for Singapore and Malaysia. You can also buy it on line through his website, www.monsoonbooks.com.sg.

George Washington ~ Repugnant, Undesirable and Unqualified.

H L Menchken on GW

I listen to the news today.  I hear America including friends and family talking politics.  I’m constantly bewildered at the perfection that the average imperfect American expects from their leaders.  Adultery is pretty common in American life.  Yet, when a Politician or Leader is found lacking in this area of personal discipline and marital fidelity, he is crucified.  Often enough, he is crucified by people who are guilty of the same transgressions.  This is pure hypocrisy.  I’m sure it’s common outside of our borders as well.  This is about us, though.  Not Africe, Asia or Europe.  I know not one perfect person in America.  Not one.  Neither Jesus nor Mohammad are with us right now.  Nor is Siddhartha the Shakyamuni.

Yet, we have this strange obsession with the faults of politicians and business leaders and any person who becomes a sensation or a “star” in the American galaxy.   We obsessively place these folks on pedestals and then just as obsessively knock them off.  The Fall seems to be more eagerly followed than the rise.

Looking back through our history, I can not find one of our heroes or leaders who would endure unscathed the microscope of paparazzi and gossip magazines and talk television of our era.

This begs the question.  What amount of talent has gone wasted.  How many highly qualified people has this intense scrutiny stolen from our republic.  How much that once would have been freely and happily given is no longer offered because of the hassle of having your life scrutinized from top to bottom.  From head to toenails.

What great person has remained in the shadows because he’s gay or likes an occasional joint or a imbibes a bit too heavily for the hypocrits of mainstream America.

What have we lost due to this insane phenomenon of parasitic vicarious couch dwelling?

As H.L. Mencken makes perfectly clear in the scanned page above, George Washington would have been driven out of town by the townsfolk with their torches and pitchforks.  He’d have been called a drunkard, an Atheist, a profane scoundrel of the worst sort — A Business Man. The old Man even had a thing for the young pretty ladies.

George Washington is the Father of America.  More so than any other.  He is the Great Man.  The Indispensable Man in the pantheon of the Creation Mythology of America.  Yet, today, he would be a pariah.  What have we lost because of our inability to accept imperfection in others that is innate in ourselves.  I believe that too much has been lost.

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Lipstick Jihad — an excerpt

Our tears are sweet, our laughter venomous,
We’re pleased when sad, and sad when pleased,
We have broken every stalk, like a wind in the garden
We have picked clean the vine’s caldelabra
And if we found a tree, still standing, defiantly,
We cut it’s branches, we pulled it up by the roots.

—-Simin Behbehani

Lipstick Jihad is an excellent book about a womans journey back into her Iranian homeland.  Azedeh Moaveni was born in the States and raised amongst the Iranian diaspora caused by the Revolution in 1979.  Later, she returns to her home in Teheran to cover the Reformist movement at the turn of the century.  She writes about the challenges of living in Iran as an Iranian-American and the inner conflicts of dealing with the [sur]reality of Islamic Iran as juxtaposed against her familial and diaspora created memories of her homeland.  It’s a moving story told from a unique inside outsider perspective.

I’ve enjoyed reading the book.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/03/lipstick-jihad-interview-azadeh-moaveni http://www.amazon.com/Lipstick-Jihad-Growing-Iranian-American/dp/1586481932 http://muslimahmediawatch.org/2008/10/lipstick-jihad/

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Last year some time, France banned the Burqa.  I agreed with this ruling wholeheartedly.  Some argued that France should not meddle in cultures and customs of the various immigrant peoples who inhabit their country.  Still others argued that the burqa and by extension the hijab or veil is part of the right to “freedom”  of speech a part of the expression of the culture of Islamic peoples.  I simply can not agree with this.

To me the hijab/veil and the burqa is a symbol of oppression.  It’s a relic of the patriarchal systems of our forefathers and a means of control.  It’s the tool used to enslave women.  We used similar tools of oppression here in the dark ages of the west.

These things and like items used to oppress people should be relegated to the dark past.  Discarded and forgotten for all time.

How would I feel if I were forced to wear similar tools of oppression.  What’s the difference between the hijab and the star of David which the Nazis forced on the Juden of 1930s era Germany?  What is the difference between this attitude and the attitudes of White Americans towards Blacks in the early 1900s in the Jim Crow Era of the South?

I see no difference.  Women in Iran are thrown in prison and tortured and raped for the simple offense of being seen in public with a non-relative male or showing too much ankle or for having the audacity to think and speak out.  They’re beaten on the streets for showing an inch too much of hair.  Young Men are brutalized by the basiji thugs for accompanying non-relative females from a Cafe to the curb to hail a taxi.

Do we excuse these behaviors in the name of cultural diversity?  Do we welcome this into our countries?  Do we allow this barbaric behavior into our neighborhoods?

I think we should not.

Someone will make the comment eventually; “So what do you want to do?  Invade Iran?”  That is not what this is about.

We can’t do anything about the barbarism of Islamic Sharia in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

However, we do have the choice of not tolerating it’s introduction into our own home countries.

I think that is where the world should make it’s stand.

I’m of the opinion that banning the burqa was not going far enough. The hijab should be banned as well.  Similar resolutions should be introduced in the UN to end this oppressive reign of terror on women.

President Barack Hussein Obama — Inaugural Address 20 January 2009

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Who am I?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

– Marianne Williamson

I often ask myself these questions…