Friday, February 27, 2009


While waiting for the finish to dry on the stairs, I'm working on my military plans for Afghanistan. The president called me again last night, but I told him I wouldn't be ready for a few days--maybe a week, considering how long it's taking for the stairs to dry--so he gave a speech about Iraq without my input. Oh well.

Speaking in front of an audience of marines today at noon, Obama could not have been more well received as he outlined a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq in 18 months. I don't doubt that some people will find fault with the speech and these plans. But watch the speech on C-SPAN if you get a chance, and listen to how the crowd connects with him. I'm beginning to wonder if Obama is actually a genius, or if he only seems so compared to W.

We have this firebush (Hamelia patens, a cousin of my wild coffee plant), in the back yard next to the koi pond. Every year I cut it back hard and it comes back happier than ever. Like many other plants in our backyards, the firebush has medical qualities and a rich history that we don't know anything about. This one is known by people around the world; they eat it, make tea from it, rub it into wounds. Who knew?

I'm also discovering that the situation in Afghanistan is endlessly complicated both politically (with the Russians, Pakistanis and others) and militarily. Developments in Pakistan are pretty remarkable and not well covered in the press. Recently, the Pakistani government ceded control of a large section of the country called Swat to the local tribes, and many of these sympathetic to the Taliban in Afghanistan. And Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Here is a report from CNN:

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