my thoughts . my memories . my family . my projects . my fears

Archive for the ‘Iraq’

The Past Is Now

April 30, 2008 By: admin Category: Iraq, Music

Debbie emailed me this morning. Molly was in Matt M’s studio when she was 15. Alison and Bryan were at the Mela.

What does that all mean…??? Well….

My best friend from High School was Debbie. She’s a very observant jew. It was a lot of fun hanging out with her family and learning all about Judaism when I young. The family was very warm to me always, I thinnk because they knew how much I loved Debbie. Debbie was on fire and by all accounts still is. Everyone says that about me, but Debbie had this infectious life energy that I couldn’t stand to not be around. She tells the story of how we met as being that SHE had to chase me, not–as you would imagine–the other way around. She says she tried to sit next to me in class, strike up a conversation, be generally friendly, etc. but I wasn’t having any of it. From my end I can tell you that it wasn’t attitude, it was FEAR. For 10 years I’d been in grammar school with the same 30 people, now I was in this big, hoity-toity high school in the ‘burbs with people who actually knew what they wanted to do in life. I’d always known I wanted to be an actress, but that’s so fluffy, ya know???

Anyway, so after a few tries, Debbie has found me. Thank goodness. It was great talking with her and catching up. We had some great times that I look back on with fondness.

Re: Molly and the studio… We met Matt M a few weeks ago at a concert of Indian classical music that he’d invited us to. The amazing Vishwa Mohan Bhatt was playing and I was privileged to film and record audio of the whole concert. I hope to package the material into a DVD that Bhatt can use forever and I can use as a calling-card, but will need the audio professionally mixed and mastered by someone else, and so last night we went over to Matt M’s house/studio to transfer the audio for him to mix! When Molly entered the storied studio (Bruce Swedian built it) she knew she’d been there before. In fact, this studio was where she’d recorded her very first efforts EVER. She was fifteen.

The three of us sat on the floor of the studio talking about all kinds of things generally had a really amazing time. We actually have a tremendous amount in common, and it’s just wonderful for Molly to be around someone with so much talent and experience who’s not an asshole. This will be an awesome partnership, I think…

Last weekend we saw Bryan and Alison at the fundraiser for Shadhika. It’s only been 3 months since India, but both of us felt this incredible relief when we saw them on Sunday. We were both unprepared for how much we’d missed them and so when I hugged Bryan I really felt the great wonder of what a hug is supposed to be: family. We don’t know each other so well, all of us, but they are vital people in our lives–in the lives of many–and it was so wonderful to see them again. Consequently, though, it SUCKED when we had to part. We weren’t ready for that either. We realized, looking at them, that weren’t going back top D.C. or Idaho, or Kansas. They were going back to India. That and seeing the Soma Girls’ video every day now solidifies things for me: I’m going back in February 2009. :)

So, that’s the update. Lots of incredible things have happened recently. There’s lots more to blog about but I’m going to pace myself…

Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary

October 10, 2007 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, Faith, Iraq, NewsQuake!, Politics

The following is a recent article I wrote for Propeller.com‘s original blog, “NewsQuake” (Propeller is the new name for Netscape.com, where I work. “NewsQuake” will be changed as soon as we figure out a name that works with “Propeller.”):

When Hillary Clinton was first elected senator from New York in November 2000, I was living in Brooklyn and was still a huge Clinton Family fan. I’d voted for her husband twice, and now I voted for her. I was thrilled to have the incredibly smart ex-First Lady as my state’s new senator. She was so savvy and politically experienced, poised, charismatic, and–a woman!


Sadly, the glow would wear off sooner than I could imagine. On October 10, 2002–less than two years after she had been elected–Senator Clinton gave a speech on the Senate floor, discussing the pending resolution that would grant President Bush unprecedented military powers, as well as the authority to invade Iraq. In her 2,476-word speech, Clinton urged the nation to tread very carefully. Saddam was bad, she said, but war was far, far worse. “If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us.” She spoke of tyrannical Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his eventual defeat. “We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of a million people being killed in the 1990s. Instead, by stopping his aggression in Bosnia and Kosovo, and keeping on the tough sanctions, we created the conditions in which his own people threw him out and led to his being in the dock being tried for war crimes as we speak.” It started out as a good speech–a great speech–but didn’t end as one. After delivering about three-quarters of a very convincing and passionate anti-war message, Senator Clinton voted for the resolution.

Her entire speech was spin, and I felt betrayed. But I wasn’t the only one. In the years since she cast that vote, Clinton has been haunted by it. She has had to answer again and again for that decision–her presidential campaign has been dogged by it–and she has had to watch as military decisions based on her vote failed time and time again, costing trillions of dollars and many thousands of lives.

Because of her vote, I was angry at the senator for a long, long time. For me, her support of the war was the ultimate line-crossing, an unforgivable act. And yet, when she announced her candidacy for president in January 2007, I decided to give her a second chance (as did many Americans and New Yorkers). Betraying my earlier instincts, I reasoned that the past was the past, and told myself that there was little she alone could do about the current debacle in Iraq. In short, I started letting myself like her again.

As her presidential campaign unfolded, I was once again charmed by her intelligence and poise. I was inspired by the idea that she really could become our first female president, and would therefore be more compassionate. There was a desire for change, a promise of strength, but most of all, there was the hope that Clinton, with her eight-year track record as the most politically active First Lady, could repair our nearly devastated foreign relations.

And then the other shoe dropped.

On September 26, 2007 the Senate assembled to vote on the politically psychotic Lieberman-Kyl Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill–an amendment that, in no uncertain terms, authorizes military action against Iran. Now, let’s put aside for a second the awkward fact that the amendment was being debated while the President of Iran was visiting this country. Let’s also put aside the question of where the troops for such an invasion would come from. Instead, let’s consider how much data there is clearly demonstrating how much Americans don’t wish to launch another war.

As I read the amendment, I wasn’t as terrified as I usually am by such things, because I was sure that Hillary (as I was now calling her) would lead the logical and overwhelming opposition. Here was the chance to correct her earlier, gargantuan mistake. She could use her clout as a presidential candidate to quickly vaporize the lunatic project.

Imagine my sense of betrayal when she did just the opposite, and voted in favor of the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment.

Candidate Clinton has now voted for war not once, but twice. No additional sanctions, no continued, UN-driven multilateral talks–war. It is therefore that, with heavy heart, I give up on her. I have no other choice. If she can do this as a senator, what insanity would she approve as president? She had, and still has, the opportunity to lead by example, to show the world that we aren’t a nation of bullies and Lone Rangers, but rather one for whom diplomacy and negotiation are the stuff of foreign policy. Let’s hope she turns it around. I’d like that, but I’m not going to hold my breath, and, in the interim, will seek elsewhere to cast my vote.


September 11, 2007 By: admin Category: Faith, Iraq, Living, Mom

Six years later and I still tear-up when looking at photos like this. I remember everything about that day. It was the second time ever that I’d worked from home. It was early, 8:15 or something. I was in my pajamas with my coffee, working on my computer. My cell phone rang. It was Mom. She was a bit frantic when she asked: “where are you???” I said, “Home.” Next she said: “Turn on your TV…”

Later in the day I was at a friend’s house and saw people jump. It was awful. The closest to “war” that I hope I will ever get. I burst into tears and left my friend’s house. I walked to the hospital near my apartment. I wanted to give blood–as much as I could without passing out–but when I got there the line was around the block. People didn’t know what else to do. They couldn’t get on the subway and go to work or to the site to offer assistance. All of us wanted to dig. Then we wanted to enlist. But none of that was possible at Noon or so that day. So we went to the hospitals and the overrun hospitals turned people away. Can you believe that? They had too much blood. When you got up to the head of the line there was, thankfully, someone taking your name and phone number so they could call you in a month or so when their supply would be short again. Or they thought. Turned out there weren’t enough people to save for all the blood the hospitals had.

Perhaps the most enduring image for me was that of a doctor in scrubs being interviewed at an emergency room downtown. He did his interview, then broke down. He said: “They’re not finding any people. All I’m doing is tagging body parts.”

The other most-enduring image I will carry with me from that day is that of the silent firefighters where I volunteered at the Marriot hotel downtown. We greeted them, fed them, and led them to a bed for some short rest when they came off The Pile. They smelled of ash, smoke and death, and looked more tired–bone weary–than anyone else I’d ever seen or have seen since. It was the look of someone who had looked into the face of Hell. They had no color in them. No joy. No life. Lifesavers had become the walking dead.

I will never forget that day. I send my love to all the families of victims. May you be finding your peace.


August 16, 2007 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, Iraq, Politics, Video

Holy mother of god…

Ten Days

July 14, 2007 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, Iraq, News, Politics


There’s been a whole ‘lot of politicking going on in the last few days. At a recent press conference, President Bush gave an “Interim Report Card” on the progress in Iraq that amounted to nothing more than political arm-flapping meant to distract from the fact that he had nothing to say. It was a tough moment for Bush, but one that couldn’t have been better timed. We’ve all heard the famous Goebbels philosophy of propaganda that, as a government, if you want to control the will of the people you have to be consistent in the lies you tell. The idea being that if you say something enough times with enough conviction, people will eventually believe it. Well, 3,609 dead soliders, a Walter Reade, an Abu Ghraib, a Gitmo and a whole ‘lot of missing emails later it’s clear the American people aren’t buying what Bush is selling any more. Still, the propaganda theory is sound: step up to the microphone and make a speech about patriotism while humbling yourself to your top commander in the field-in this case, General David Petraeus-and you might just convince the people to think twice about relegating your legacy to the trash heap.

In other words, the President is hoping that if the American people think he’s thinking about troops, we won’t–like Helen Thomas did in the press conference–ask the only question that matters: “Mr. President, you started this war, you can end it. Bring in UN peace-keepers. Don’t you understand YOU brought Al-Qaeda into Iraq!”

To be fair, though, the truly unbelievable, head-spinning lack of real solutions for the Iraq debacle can no longer be laid solely in the lap of the President and his bumblingly arrogant administration. Congress is to blame for flapping it’s arms too.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, a policy-maker, or a consultant on foreign relations but I can read and I can think, and it’s clear to me that if we leave Iraq while the insurgency is poised-as it is now–to tip the scales, we will be destroying what is left of that country as well as setting the stage for the already troubled region to be taken over by fanatical elements, as the President has been saying all along. The thing is, as Helen Thomas suggested, we can’t do it alone. We’ve tried for four years and we’ve failed. And now we need help. But first we’re going to have to eat a little crow. We screwed up real bad and, in order to recoup any international confidence, need to apologize to the global community and respectfully, humbly ask for the help of the United Nations. Our troops are exhausted and need relief, and our resources are withering. Only when we, as an international society, share the supporting role will there be any real hope of “success” in Iraq.

And, when you think about it, the outcome will be what both sides currently say they want: politically, the President and Congress will be loved–both nationally and internationally-and socially, the Iraqi people will get their country back after decades of oppression and violence, and have a real shot at creating a stable democratic government.

But, we have to take that first step. In the form of the President and the Congress that voted in favor of this war, we need to apologize. It is the only tactic, and it is the strongest tactic. No one will think we’re weak as a nation, quite the opposite! Think of the bully on the recess field. If he spends his life intimidating others, all anyone will see is the bully. But if he apologizes and admits his mistakes, what we’ll finally see is the man. President Bush has ten days before he has to make a decision on Congress’s troop-withdrawal bill. Imagine what he could do in ten days.

Protest on the 4-Year Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion

March 20, 2007 By: admin Category: General, Iraq, Video

I filmed this last night down the street from my home. I read on MoveOn.org that there were approximately 1,500 protests across the nation. Our citizens don’t want this war.