Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's from a couple of days ago but still...

... incredibly illuminating. Or... the reverse. Does Bush actually suck intelligence out of the universe?



h/t to Hoffmania
--the BB

Oh, by the way

Mr. Mukasey, the Attorney General of the United States, just told the Speaker of the House to go fuck herself. In very civil terms, of course.

What can I say? Only and idiot or a wimp would have confirmed him when we all knew he was one more White House tool. Now we're stuck with the slimy weasel.

There really seems to be no reason for any American to obey any law whatsoever any more. After all, the chief executive of the nation doesn't.

IMPEACH THEM ALL!

--the BB

The truth edges out

"Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance." [...]
--Goerge W. Bush

Bush let the cat out of the bag when he said this.


I often invoke the principle of "cui bono?" (who profits?) here. In this instance I want to ask "cui malo?" Who is harmed?

If how we conduct surveillance is revealed, does it harm the American People or the Bush Administration.

Bush wants us to assume that we, the American People, will be put at risk by such disclosure, but let's take a look at that.

dday has a great article up at Daily Kos (thanks to mcjoan for pointing me to it). The title is "Telecom immunity is Bush immunity - the proof."

dday points to a New York Times article that notes:
The warnings from President Bush and his senior aides have grown more urgent over the last few weeks, now that Congress has let a temporary wiretapping law expire. But there is little sign of anxiety among many intelligence and phone industry officials.

Yes, the telecom industry is largely unconcerned about nullifying billion-dollar lawsuits against them.
That's right. The intelligence folks and Pentagon types are not freaking about lapsing laws or inadequate protection to do what needs to be done. And the industry execs seem calms too.

The only one freaking out is Bush.

What does that tell you?

To me it suggests that he and his thugs and cronies (White House Staff, Office of the Vice President perhaps, Justice Department) have a great deal to lose. The United States or the telecommunications companies? Not so much.

There is no crisis.

There is no reason for the congressional Dems to cave or "compromise" (which always equates to rolling over and giving the President everything he wants).

In fact, there is not much need to do anything at all.

Remember, it was the Republicans who thwarted renewing the Protect America Act (which Bush had promised to veto) after all the shouting about how important it was to pass such legislation. Why did they block it and why had Bush threatened to veto? Because it did not provide telcom immunity.

So if Bush wants to pout and hold his breath over this, let him. That's HIS personal problem; not ours.

UPDATE:

You can read what a plaintiff in a suit against AT&T has to say here. Part of it:
After Saddam Hussein was executed, President Bush reassured the world that the Iraqi dictator received "a fair trial – the kind of justice he denied victims of his brutal regime."

The Bush administration has similarly promoted "the rule of law" and "an independent judiciary" for countries such as Cuba, Burma and Iran.

Yet that same president is pressuring Congress to deny Americans our day in court before an independent judiciary by repealing the rules of law that guarantee the right to sue a private company for illegal infringements on our privacy rights.

mcjoan says toward the end of that post:
What they don't want us to know is just how illegal it was--how many Americans were targeted, why they were targeted, and what the scope of this program was.
smintheus has a different post up that talks about how Bush "guts" the board cahrged with oversight over intelligence activities. Quelle coincidence, n'est-ce pas?

Effing little thug. I wish somebody, anybody would hold him accountable in some effective manner. Extradition to the Hague would be a great start.
--the BB

Κυριε, ελεησον

Israel - Palestine
Israel Takes Gaza Fight to Next Level in a Day of Strikes
New York Times - 52 minutes ago
Majed Hamdan/AP Medical workers moved a boy to a hospital in Beit Lahiya in Gaza. As many as 19 Palestinian civilians were killed Saturday.

Russian Federation
Presidential election under way in Russia's Far East
Reuters - 1 hour ago
By Alexei Dovbysh VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) - Russians voted for a new president on Sunday in an election expected to deliver a victory to Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin's chosen successor and another blow to Moscow's already tarnished democratic ...

Iraq - Turkey - Kurdistan
Troops withdrawn from Iraq, Turkey says
Los Angeles Times - 7 hours ago
{Troops now out of Iraq, Turkey says } {The announced withdrawal comes after the large-scale offensive against Kurdish rebels strained ties between two US allies.

Armenia
Protesters and Police Clash as Armenia Unrest Grows
New York Times - 1 hour ago
Protesters gathered in Liberty Square in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on Saturday and faced off with security forces. By SABRINA TAVERNISE YEREVAN, Armenia - The largest crowds this tiny, mountainous country has seen in years have clogged central streets here for 11 days as Armenians of all ages have protested the results of a presidential election they say was stolen.

Good God, if  Americans only had the guts to protest when this happens!

Venezuela - Colombia
Chavez warns of "war" if Colombia strikes Venezuela
Reuters - 41 minutes ago
CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez warned Colombia on Saturday it would be a "cause for war" if its forces struck inside Venezuelan territory as they did in Ecuador killing a top Colombian rebel commander there.

Kenya
Addressing Constitutional Reform Critical Says Kenyan Lawyer
Voice of America - 5 hours ago
By Akwei Thompson Kenyan negotiators have begun discussing long-term reforms following the signing of a power-sharing agreement by president Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Iraq - U. S. Embassy
The Bush administration is blocking an inquiry into the delay-plagued construction of the $736m US embassy in Baghdad, a senior Democrat in Congress said today.

Henry Waxman, who is chairman of the oversight committee in the House of Representatives, asked US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice today to explain why her department certified the embassy as "substantially completed" in December despite inspections that reveal continued deficiencies in the facility's water, fire alarm and kitchen systems.

The Baghdad embassy, which stands to become the largest US diplomatic facility in the world, had an original opening date of mid-2007. But the project stalled amid ballooning cost estimates as well as charges of corruption and shoddy work by the private contracting company overseeing the project.

In addition, two US state department employees who worked on the embassy project are now under criminal investigation. Waxman urged Rice to release subpoenaed documents related to the Baghdad embassy project next week or risk being forced to do so.


Lawless Thugs - White House and Attorney General
Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to refer the House's contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers committed no crime.

As promised, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she has given the Judiciary Committee authority to file a lawsuit against Bolten and Miers in federal court.

"The House shall do so promptly," she said in a statement.






Litany to the God of Fire
O flaming Spirit of love,
we cry to you in the midst of the struggles of our lives!
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our anger and our rage.
Transform them into the power of your compassion.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our fears.
Transform them into courage.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our despair.
Transform it into hope.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our doubts.
Transform them into wisdom.
O sacred fire, empower us!
We offer you our broken sisterhood.
We offer you our broken brotherhood.
Help us remember the wholeness that you intended.
O God of fire, burn within us,
heal us, strengthen us, remake us,
empower us with your passion for justice!

Amen.
—Victoria Walton

--the BB

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ellen DeGeneres speaks out - hear her.




--the BB

Take Bill Clinton's advice



h/t John Aravosis at Americablog
--the BB

I admit it: not my first or second choice

I was excited at the thought of the centered, purposive, experienced, and passionate Al Gore but he chose not to run.  I held out to the very end and was ready to give, talk, walk, and work my butt off for him.

I love the populist message of John Edwards, so he was my second choice because he held hope for shifting power away from the corporations and back to the people.

But it's pretty obvious that I have shown my current bias here. And I love these ads.




h/t to openthread at Daily Kos
--the BB

Heart thread - leap day 2008


Pseudopiskie is asking for some prayers for Penny and Dave.  You can read about it here.

I feel much better and have not been febrile for two days.  Thanks for holding me in the Light.

Kirstin is still getting over the crud.

Mimi is traveling.

Jane R has asked our prayers for Jeff who is gravely ill.  I think she's been so stretched and stressed she could use a little love too.

FranIAm should have closed her house deal today.  It's been a tough go.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin continues to need our prayers, as do the Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Pittsburgh.  The Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande, where I live, can use prayers as our Standing Committee has tons to deal with while we are between bishops.

Don't forget that the Cunning Runt is still convalescing from his arm surgery (though he's not played that for sympathy in a while now, but you gotta now therapy and recuperation ain't fun).

Lisa at My Manner of Life was thrown for a loop at the death of her beloved cat Shug and I think she still needs some holding.

Mike F has written of God's "severe mercy" lately.

This imitatio Christi bit is quite hard to cope with. I don't want to write all this stuff, actually. But if I am even remotely honest in thinking it through, this is where it gets me. I can't claim to be even remotely comfortable with it, humanly speaking, and I'm most certainly not preaching it to anyone else, and yet for me it is impossible to escape.

After tonight's Friday adventures in Panamá, we may need to pray for the good Padre's soul.

People of all faiths and ethnicities in Nigeria need our prayers.

Ongoing prayers for all the folks we've been holding, natch (Eileen's household, my sister and her husband, etc.).

And I am surely missing lots of others.



Descend, Holy Spirit
Descend, Holy Spirit of Life!
Come down into our hearts, that we may live.
Descend into emptiness, that emptiness may be filled.
Descend into the dust, that the dust may flower.
Descend into the dark, that the light may shine in the darkness.
Amen.
—Frances Caryll Houselander

--the BB

I love me some Jon Soltz

He's the Kosovo and Iraq Vet at VoteVets who demolishes the wingnuts with facts and logic.

"The people in our organization have been to Iraq. We've seen it first hand. We don't need Republican talking points to tell us the deal on the ground in Iraq. There was no Al Qaeda there when we invaded the country. Just today, Al Qaeda controls 10 percent of Afghanistan. I mean, the question is-- when you have 90 percent of your army in Iraq, and you have only 10 percent of your force structure in Afghanistan -- the question is, What is the central function of the War on Terror?

John McCain is going to be like George W. Bush on the situation with Al Qaeda, which is a policy of retreat. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. The American military is stuck in a bloody civil war in Iraq. We need to take the fight to the enemy in this country, and defeat the people that attacked this country. John McCain and George Bush are failing our country."




You can read about his laying it on the line at MSNBC. Lovely. Or watch it here:

Thanks to jhutson at Daily Kos for the article.

--the BB

House Dems, DO NOT DO THIS!

It sounds as though Steny Hoyer might be floating a trial balloon on taking up the Senate bill in the House. This would be disastrous and there is no need to do this.

What will it take to knock some sense into them?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

h/t to mcjoan again
--the BB

Behold, I bring you good tidings.... - updated

... whether they are of great joy for all people is a judgment call. But for me, at least.

My MacBook is in hospital for it's brain transplant. They expect that will take no more than two days and, since the problems began before the first year was up, I don't have to pay for it.

Meanwhile, my dicey Dell desktop is, for the moment, running and I thus have access to the net.

The cute tricks I use to blog require too much thought to replicate on this platform, even if that is how I blogged prior to a year ago. I am having enough challenge switching from English to Russian to Italian (to prep our church's teenagers going to Rome in a few months). No, I cannot carry on conversations in Italian, but I can do standard phrases with a decent accent and a love for the musicality of the language. All those years of listening to opera and cooking, you know.

I see the word "lontano" (distant) and switch into the persona of Calaf in Turandot: "Mia povera Liu, se in un lontano giorno io t'ho sorriso, per questo riso, dolce mia fanciulla, m'ascolta. Il tuo signore...."

Now I may have slightly garbled the lyrics, the grammar, or the spelling, but where else can you get music with your tourist phrases, eh? The teens will, rightly, conclude that I'm beyond eccentic, but what a treat they are in for.

Modesty oozinng out of me too, as you can see.

Bene.

Try to stay out of trouble, hear?

UPDATE:
Quick computer surgery. My Mac is back and I'm typing on it right now. Woohoo!
I will now spend the rest of the evening loading my applications on it and transferring documents back onto it.

[happy dance]
--the BB

Over and out (for a while)

OK, gang. I am going to shut down for a while. See you later. Play nice. Share food and toys. Keep praying and loving and hoping and serving. Remember always that you are precious and beloved.
--the BB

Friday Prince Blogging - updated

Yes, at long last, HRH Prince Henry of Wales, aka Prince Harry, son of the Prince of Wales and the late former Princess of Wales, grandson of Her Britannic Majesty, and third in line to the throne of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


I think we have a pin-up for Mimi
when she returns from NYC

Who, thanks to loose lips Matt Drudge, we now know has been serving in Afghanistan.
LONDON — Britain's defence chief decided Friday to immediately pull Prince Harry out of Afghanistan after news of his deployment was leaked, citing concerns that media coverage could put him and his comrades at increased risk.

Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, chief of the Defence Staff, said he decided to withdraw the prince after senior commanders assessed the risks, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Harry, third in line to the British throne, has been serving on the front line with an army unit in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province since mid-December. He was originally due to return to Britain within weeks, but "the situation has now clearly changed," the statement said.

The ministry asked the media not to speculate on Harry's location - or how and when he would return - until he was back in Britain.
[From The Canadian Press]

Prince Henry Charles Albert David was born 15 September 1984.

Wikipedia says:
Prince Harry holds the rank of Second Lieutenant (known in the regiment as Cornet) in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry of the British Army. He was a tank commander, trained to lead a 12-man team in four armoured reconnaissance vehicles. After the decision not to send him to Iraq, he retrained as a battlefield air controller, the job he has been filling in Afghanistan.

He's a bit of a wild child and I will not add to the tabloid-style material by recounting his misadventures.
Their Royal Highnesses Prince William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales

UPDATE:
I forgot to mention, while some American wingnuts cannot stop obsessing over Obama's middle name, that Prince Harry is descended from the Prophet Mohammed (because his grandmother QEII is). Thought you should know. The Muslim threat is everywhere. [rolls eyes]
--the BB

BLOGGER DOWN


MP's dealing with lots of stuff these days and could use some prayer. He's a Brit, but I think he understands the American tendency to send hugs. (Then again, maybe he just rolls his eyes and mutters, "Silly sods.") Don't get too gooey on his Northumbrian sensibilities but you might send some love.


May the Cross Abide with You
May the cross of the Son of God, who is mightier than all the powers of evil, abide with you in your going out and your coming in! From the wrath of evil people, from the temptation of the devil, from all low passions that beguile the soul and body, may it guard, protect, and deliver you: and may the blessing of God the Almighty and Merciful, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
—Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer
of the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon

--the BB

Friday in Lent 3

Jacob blessed Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:7, 10)
That phrase would delight every Israelite and strike every Egyptian as blasphemy. Pharaoh was considered a divine being. That a foreigner should presume to confer a blessing on the Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt is shocking. It is supposed to be the other way around. It is a phrase subversive of the imperial order (as well as an expression of ethnic superiority by Israelites).

The passage from Genesis appointed for today offers the explanation of famine for the acquisition of land by Pharaoh. From what I have read elsewhere all land was deemed to belong to Pharaoh, not merely a fifth.
The most powerful person in ancient Egypt was the pharaoh. The pharaoh was the political and religious leader of the Egyptian people, holding the titles: 'Lord of the Two Lands' and 'High Priest of Every Temple'.

As 'Lord of the Two Lands' the pharaoh was the ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt. He owned all of the land, made laws, collected taxes, and defended Egypt against foreigners.

As 'High Priest of Every Temple', the pharaoh represented the gods on Earth. He performed rituals and built temples to honour the gods. (source)
We thus have in Genesis 47 and outsider's understanding of how Egyptian rulers came to possess title to Egypt but hardly a historical record. We also have the charming humor of Jacob's self-deprecation, being only 130 years old and nothing like the venerable ages of his forebears.

When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:47-52)
The feeding of the five thousand proclaims the God of the Exodus, the saving God of Israel, to be at work in Jesus. Today's lesson shows God, the Lord of Creation, striding upon the storm (like Baal Hadad in Canaanite mythology), another reminder that the God of Israel was present in Jesus.

For Mark the Evangelist, those who seek God will find God present in Jesus. He is the new Temple, the meeting place of the earthly and the heavenly, the contact point between humans and God.

This verse from Psalm 88:19 (BCP) is part of a passage that speaks eloquently of depression. I am glad that the Psalter embraces a wide range of human experience and emotion, bringing all of it into dialogue with God. It is a model that we don't have to hide parts of ourselves, deny our shadow, avoid what is unpleasant or frightening or tainted by societal disapproval. We can bring our entire selves into God's presence and speak honestly and passionately. It is all right.

The following is someone else's prayer for a person suffering depression [typos corrected]. I don't feel up to writing my own today.
Dear Jesus, I walk in the valley of darkness for I suffer trom depression. I feel unloved, rejectedd, useless to myself and useless to others. I feel lost in a world I no longer understand. At times, I want to sleep and never wake up again. Lord, I believe that Your love is a transforming love. Jesus, Son of David have pity on me. Out of the depths, I cry to you.

Lord, even though I feel nothing, I still praise you for the wonder of my being. You have formed me in my mother's womb and watched over me to this moment. I am precious in Your eyes and You love me. On the Cross, you shed your blood for me. You have carved me in the palm of Your hand. For all this I give you thanks and praise.

May your Precious Blood give new life to me and to all those who suffer as I do. Take each one of us and hug us to your sacred and loving heart. Through your glorious wounds may we be healed.

Dear Jesus, when you fed the crowd in the desert, you wished to gather up the fragments, lest anything be lost. As I wander through a desert and darkness of my own, I ask you to gather up the fragments of this shattered being, lest anything be lost. Through the prophet, Joel, You promise to restore the years that the locusts have eaten. I ask you, lay Your hands gently on my weary head and restore me. Let your face shine upon me and give me back the peace and the joy that has been lost.

Amen

Grant us, O Lord our Strength, a true love of your holy Name; so that, trusting in your grace, we may fear no earthly evil, nor fix our hearts on earthly goods, but may rejoice in your full salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--the BB

Señor, ten piedad


Palestine - Israel
Israel Warns Gaza Invasion Impending
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
ASHKELON, Israel (AP) - Israeli leaders warned Friday of an approaching conflagration in the Gaza Strip as Israel activated a rocket warning system to protect Ashkelon, a city of 120000 people, from Palestinian rockets.

Iraq - Kurdistan - Turkey
Turkey confirms its troops withdrawn from Northern Iraq
Reuters - 1 hour ago
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's military General Staff said on Friday that its troops had returned to bases in Turkey after a major ground offensive against Kurdish PKK rebels in northern Iraq.

Russian Federation
Putin seeks big voter turnout to help successor
Reuters - 1 hour ago
By James Kilner MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin appealed to Russians to vote in large numbers on Sunday in a presidential election he hopes will hand his chosen successor a convincing victory and rebuff opponents who call his democracy a sham.

Pakistan - United States
US Embrace of Musharraf Irks Pakistanis
New York Times - 49 minutes ago
Pakistanis at a rally in Islamabad, the capital, on Sunday heard speakers who demanded that President Pervez Musharraf resign. By DAVID ROHDE ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The Bush administration’s continued backing of President Pervez Musharraf, ...

Hezbollah - United States - Lebanon
US warship threatens stability - Hezbollah MP
Reuters - 3 hours ago
By Laila Bassam BEIRUT, Feb 29 (Reuters) - The pro-Iranian Hezbollah group accused the United States on Friday of endangering regional stability by deploying a warship off Lebanon and vowed to defy what it called an act of military intimidation.


Descend, Holy Spirit
Descend, Holy Spirit of Life!
Come down into our hearts,
that we may live.
Descend into emptiness,
that emptiness may be filled.
Descend into the dust,
that the dust may flower.
Descend into the dark,
that the light may shine in the darkness.
Amen.

—Frances Caryll Houselander

--the BB

Blog, but not blogger, down


As regular readers know, I have had computer problems off and on for the past two months. On my last visit to the Genius Bar they ordered a new hard drive, saying that the next step is just to replace my drive if I continue to have problems. In the past two days four of my five most common applications have suddenly crashed. So I am going in for a brain transplant on my laptop later today. I may be without it for a few days.

Everything was backed up last night, so I have no fears about documents etc. Reinstalling applications is a bitch, however, and too tedious for words.

I do have another computer (an iffy one that I never use) so I might be online, but not sure.

And, speaking of technical difficulties, my chest cold continues. I feel physically (but not emotionally) rotten.

The sun rose just a little while ago over the Manzanos Mountains and the sky is cloudless.

That's the news from Desert Farne.
--the BB

Thursday, February 28, 2008

WTF is the DOD up to? And why?


On February 6th, The New York Times reported that Sioux Manufacturing, which makes the Kevlar for helmets, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company had shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including helmets used by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense, aware of both the problem with Sioux's helmets and the company's efforts to cover it up, awarded another contract to Sioux a mere 12 days before the lawsuit was settled. That same day, CREW sent a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees requesting an investigation into a Department of Defense $74 million contract awarded to Sioux Manufacturing.

This note came from the good folks at CREW. h/t to John Aravosis at Americablog.
--the BB

Thursday Constitution Blogging


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Tonight I want to life one phrase out of the Preamble.

We the People of the United States, in Order to ... establish Justice, ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


The Wikipedia article on "justice" speaks of its importance:
Justice concerns the proper ordering of things and persons within a society. As a concept it has been subject to philosophical, legal, and theological reflection and debate throughout history. According to most theories of justice, it is overwhelmingly important: John Rawls, for instance, claims that "Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought."
Mingled in our concepts of justice one finds the concepts of what is fair, what is right, and what is true. The establishment of justice thus involves discernment of the true from the false, the equitable from the inequitable, right from wrong.

In the more symbolic and less philosophical article on "Lady Justice" Wikipedia notes:
...Lady Justice is often depicted wearing a blindfold. This is done in order to indicate that justice is (or should be) meted out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of the [sic] identity, power, or weakness....
Central, then, to our concept of justice, is the issue of "without fear or favor": the idea that everyone gets a fair break. Law should be applied without regard to one's status in society, one's power or lack thereof. Without this element, any purported justice becomes suspect.

The prophets of Israel had a lot to say about justice and the Torah insists that there should be one law for both the Israelite and the resident alien. This is an interesting and important principle in light of all the brouhaha over alien status in the United States and the xenophobia that is being stirred up these days. The Torah also insists that there be one set of measures, not one standard for selling and another for buying, thus always favoring oneself and cheating the other party.

Standards and procedures keep us from falling into either chaos or the principle of "might makes right" taking over. As the motto inscribed over the entrance to the Supreme Court Building says: "Equal Justice Under Law."

We are appropriately outraged when the law and the courts are subverted so that the true, the right, and the fair seem to lose out. Sometimes we are horrified when adherence to procedure springs someone on a technicality though I suggest we should be more horrified if procedures are ignored or abused. Procedures undergird both objectivity, for the sake of fairness, and careful documentation, for the sake of truth.

[What I say here about procedures and standards in the civil realm also applies in ecclesiastical matters and the role of canon law in framing our application of justice carefully and correctly.]

When someone simply flouts the law and gets away with it we all recognize that the underpinnings of society are shaken. If the Constitution, for instance, which constitutes the supreme law of the land, is ignored or undermined, then what is the basis for our government? What guarantee have we that justice can prevail? What protections do we have from any number of abuses or the rise of a new tyranny? These were things the Founders had in mind when they framed our government and they sought to put various checks and balances into place so that power would be distributed and not accrue to one person or one branch of government.

Anyone who reads this blog knows my feelings about the behavior of the current administration and what I, and many others, deem demonstrable violations of the Constitution and other laws of this nation.

What does "justice" mean to you?

--the BB

Thursday in Lent 3

When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.’ (Genesis 46:1-4)
These few verses link many themes together. Israel (Jacob) setting out on his journey reflects Abram and Sarai setting forth in Genesis 12. Since Israel is also the eponymous personage for the people of Israel we have a figure of all the nation's journeys, including the Exodus, the Exile, and the Return. Attention turns once more to the God of [Abraham and] Isaac. Jacob has dreamed before, most famously of the ladder of angels, and encountered God before, wrestling until dawn. God now speaks in a vision of the night, providing reassurance as Jacob's world was about to change drastically.

God promises to accompany Jacob to Egypt. Here we have the profound "Immanuel" theme, the promise of God with us. There is a reference to Jacob's return, though that does not occur until the book of Exodus and it is Jacob's mummy that goes up out of Egypt to return to Canaan. While Jacob can take comfort that his favorite son (the firstborn of his favorite wife) will be the one to close his eyelids in death, this points to the conclusion of the book of Genesis, which ends "in a coffin in Egypt."

An entire panoply of salvation history is echoed in just a few verses, a tale full of promise and detours.

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)
We all take comfort in the divine compassion expressed in Jesus' emotion on beholding this crowd. It is the setting in which God once more provides food in the wilderness, confirming that God is acting through Jesus as God acted once of old. A new salvation event is taking place.

As I read this verse tonight I thought about how much better it is to be a sheep without a shepherd (and object of Christ's care) than to be a sheep with a bad shepherd who leads the flock astray. Alas, various sides in our ecclesial divides all see the opposing factions as being full of false shepherds. I rather suspect the imagery of shepherd, on the human scale, that once applied more to shepherd-kings in the Ancient Near East than to priestly types, is highly overrated and overused. Would we not do better to use pastoral image less and focus on One Shepherd, our Good Shepherd? He told us not to call folks "father" since we have one Father. Maybe we would do well to use caution calling folks "pastor" or "chief pastor" - after all, we are the sheep of God's pasture and the sheep of his hand but I don't think shepherd-sheep imagery is necessarily healthy in relationships among humans. It tends to infantilize the "sheep" and ascribe agency mostly to the "shepherd." Jesus no longer calls us servants but friends. Perhaps clergy would do well to no longer call the faithful sheep (or treat them as such) and call them fellow baptized ministers of the Gospel. That's my two cents' worth, anyway.



Keep watch over your Church, O Lord, with your unfailing love; and, since it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without your aid, protect it from all danger, and keep it in the way of salvation; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER


EDUCATOR
(28 February 1964)

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (August 10, c1859- February 27, 1964). Educator, advocate and scholar. Born in Raleigh, North Carolina to an enslaved woman and a white man, presumably her mother’s master, Anna Julia was an academically gifted child and received a scholarship to attend St. Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute, a school founded by the Episcopal Church to educate African-American teachers and clergy. There she began her membership in the Episcopal Church. After forcing her way into a Greek class designed for male theology students, Anna Julia later married the instructor, George A.C. Cooper, the second African-American ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in North Carolina. After her husband’s death in 1879, Cooper received degrees in mathematics from Oberlin College, and was made principal of the only African American high school in Washington D.C.. She was denied reappointment in 1906 because she refused to lower her educational standards. Throughout her career, Cooper emphasized the importance of education to the future of African Americans, and was critical of the lack of support they received from the church. An advocate for African-American women, Cooper assisted in organizing the Colored Women’s League and the first Colored Settlement House in Washington, D.C. She wrote and spoke widely on issues of race and gender, and took an active role in national and international organizations founded to advance African Americans. At the age of fifty-five she adopted the five children of her nephew. In 1925, Cooper became the fourth African –American woman to complete a Ph.D degree, granted from the Sorbonne when she was sixty-five years old. From 1930-1942, Cooper served as president of Frelinghuysen University.
from the Episcopal Women's History Project

Borrowed in toto and shamelessly from here.

A truly awesome and inspiring woman!


Almighty God, you inspired your servant Anna Julia Heyward Cooper with the love of learning and the skill of teaching: Enlighten us more and more through the discipline of learning, and deepen our commitment to the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--the BB

Cui bono? Who profits?


It seems that the Republicans have another concern about the telecommunications companies. Some of the corporate donations are beginning to head toward the Dem side of the aisle.

Mcjoan concludes:
Hmmmm.... Sounds to me like the telcos are a little less concerned about amnesty than they are about coming out on the right side of the next Congress. And maybe it sounds like the Republicans are a little more concerned about trying to protect their hold on the telco lobbyists and all their money than they are protecting America.

You can read the post with a clip from Roll Call here.

Then there's His Majesty the Lying Sack whining and bullying and posturing and pouting. Oh, the urgency! Not to mention the issue of fairness, and we all know George IV is about what's fair, right?
President George Bush today repeated his call for Congress to approve legislation that would protect phone companies from lawsuits filed by people who oppose the role they play in providing terrorist surveillance information to the US government.

'Allowing these lawsuits to proceed would be unfair,' Bush said in the White House today.
[CNNMoney.com]
Bush tries to give the impression that those who pursue transparency in government and want to investigate possible illegal actions at high levels are the equivalent of cheesy ambulance chasers exploiting tort law. [Of course, Bush's beloved theme of "tort reform" is really about making corporations immune from accountability, much as he wishes to be himself. But that's another, yet related, topic.]

In an earlier post mcjoan shares Bush's whining and fearmongering.
More important, Bush added, "the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance and it would give al Qaida and others a roadmap as to how to avoid the surveillance."

To which mcjoan responds:
Of course, the litigation process would disclose information on the illegal activities of the government, which is more to the point. Classified information about surveillance processes would of course remain classified in the process. Another straw man from the administration.


BarbinMD has a post with a lucid response to Bush at Daily Kos.
Rush Holt (NJ-12), the Chair of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel had this to say about George Bush's latest fearmongering on the need to pass the Protect AT&T Act:

What the President really wants is a permanent blank check to conduct indiscriminate collection and fishing expeditions without any judicial oversight. This does not lead to better intelligence.

The President has had multiple opportunities to work with Congress to modernize FISA. Instead, he has chosen to demagogue this issue through a propaganda campaign, one dependent on fear-mongering and false accusations. If the President is serious about protecting the American people, he'll drop the campaign-style rhetoric and work with us to pass a realistic and workable intelligence surveillance bill.
[Emphasis mine]

--the BB

Oh yes, I have some feelings about this

Clumber first pointed me toward the article in The Atlantic. It is about Nigeria and is titled "God's Country." The author is Eliza Griswold, daughter of former Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold.

Then I read more at Fr. Jake's.

I commend the larger original article for more context. These highlights are chilling.

One Tuesday at 7 a.m. in Yelwa, about 70 people were praying their morning devotions at the Church of Christ in Nigeria (founded by none other than the fiery Kumm himself). It was in February 2004, about a year after the elders had issued their edict that no Christian woman was to be seen with a Muslim man. As the worshippers finished their prayers, they heard gunshots and a call from the loudspeakers of the mosque next door: “Allahu Akhbar, let us go for jihad.” ... [P]eople fled toward the road behind the church. There, men dressed in military fatigues reassured them that they were safe and herded them back to the church. Then the men opened fire. ... The attackers—who were not, in fact, Nigerian soldiers—set the church on fire and killed everyone who tried to escape.

[snip]

Two months after the church was razed, Christian men and boys surrounded Yelwa. Many were bare-chested; others wore shirts on which they’d reportedly pinned white name tags identifying them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella organization founded in the 1970s to give Christians a collective and unified voice as strong as that of Muslims. Each tag had a number instead of a name: a code, it seemed, for identification. They attacked the town. According to Human Rights Watch, 660 Muslims were massacred over the course of the next two days, including the patients in the Al-Amin clinic. Twelve mosques and 300 houses went up in flames. Young girls were marched to a nearby Christian town and forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Many were raped, and 50 were killed.

[snip]

At the time of the massacre, Archbishop Peter Akinola was the president of the Christian Association of  Nigeria, whose membership was implicated in the killings. He has since lost his bid for another term but, as primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, he is still the leader of 18 million Anglicans. He is a colleague of my father, who was the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America from 1997 to 2006. But the American Episcopals’ election of an openly homosexual bishop in 2003, which Archbishop Akinola denounced as “satanic,” created distance between them.

[snip]

When asked if those wearing name tags that read “Christian Association of Nigeria” had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. “No comment,” he said. “No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet.” He went on, “I’m not out to combat anybody. I’m only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I’m living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and they respect me for it. They know where we stand. I’ve said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence.”


Perhaps Abp. Akinola had nothing to do with the massacre at Yelwa. I hope he did not.

Even so, that he could grin when discussing it is absolutely chilling.

I think about the repeated contrasts in the New Testament between the way of power (the way of dominion and empire and violence) and the way of love (the way of service and compassion). Who is Lord? Jesus or Caesar?

Where endless vendettas occur it seems clear enough to me that we are dealing with the way of Caesar, the way of power and violence, the way of Satan.

And Abp. Akinola then has the nerve to denounce those who celebrate forms of love that he disapproves as satanic.

As our evangelical friend Grace keeps saying at other blogs: Lord, have mercy.
--the BB

Working on Jarred's T-shirt

Here you go, Jarred. We do what we can.
--the BB

3x3: Quick meme for Thursday

A naughty seminarian, who should be resting or studying, has tagged me.

1) List three reasons for your blogging.

2) List the rules.

3) Tag three others with the thread.


1. To spare my best friend from my daily ruminations; instead I toss them into the intertubes where everyone can ignore them.


2. It springs from the habit (now four years old) of reading politics online every day. [Yes, I have the archives of my daily clippings since 2004.] Over time I added spiritual blogs, mostly of fellow Anglicans (I use the term in its pre-tainted sense, thank you very much). My goal is to stay more informed than I otherwise would be and not be blindsided by fatuous untruths. In the process I have discovered a virtual community of genuine compassion and intelligent exchange. We inform each other, we amuse each other, we challenge each other, and we uphold each other. Damn, if we haven't come to love each other (apologies to the Brits who visit here, overly mushy, I know).


3. I require a creative outlet almost as much as I require oxygen. I love trying to make beautiful graphics, a form of "eye balm" after so much that assaults us all visually.


I hate tagging people, so I won’t.
--the BB

You were bought with a price


How much of YOUR debt does the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) own? (They just picked themselves up some Citibank.)

Sorry about the quasi-blasphemous header but I couldn't resist, not even during Lent.

Use the first link (full name) to read emptywheel's article on this.
--the BB

The 69th flag - Қазақстан


Welcome to today's visitor from Kazakhstan. This brings us to sixty-nine flags since I began tracking.

The alert reader of this blog will recall seeing Kazakhstan at the top of the south central Asia map on Monday. "Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world as well as the world's largest landlocked country, it has a territory of 2,727,300 km² (greater than Western Europe)." [Wikipedia] It is believed that horses were first domesticated there. Almaty, the largest city, is the old Soviet capital but Kazakhstan has a new capital since independence: Astana (pictured in the graphic above).

An old Kazakh song, Ne Payda - Не Пайда, peformed in a duet (enjoy the eyebrow action):


And another performance by Roza Rembaeva, a famous Kazakh singer:


And finally, a slide show of the old and new capital cities with a rap Kazakh version of "I'll be watching you." (And why not?)


--the BB

HR888 is a crock; Congress should NOT endorse lies


Chris Rodda gave background on this in January:

On December 18, 2007, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced H. Res. 888, a resolution "Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as 'American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith."

This resolution, which purports to promote "education on America's history of religious faith," is packed with the same American history lies found on the Christian nationalist websites, and in the books of pseudo-historians like David Barton. It lists a total of seventy-five "Whereas's," leading up to four resolves, the third of which is particularly disturbing -- that the U.S. House of Representatives "rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation's public buildings and educational resources," a travesty of the highest magnitude, considering that most of the "history" this resolve aims to promote in our public buildings and schools IS NOT REAL!

Thirty-one representatives have already embarrassed themselves, demonstrating their lack of knowledge of our country's history by becoming co-sponsors of this resolution. Let your representative know that if they do not oppose this resolution, they will either be demonstrating their own lack of knowledge of our country's history, or, worse yet, will be admitting that they are willing to be complicit in the perpetuation of lies in order to further the Christian nationalist agenda.
Troutfishing at Daily Kos notes this today:
House Resolution 888 has over a dozen new supporters since I last wrote here on the subject, and Chris Rodda calculates the resolution has the endorsement of 35% of House GOP members and also 5 House Democrats. [Emphasis in original]
I am all for recognizing the role of religion in society and for objective teaching of history that includes religious history, but interjecting all manner of distortions and falsehoods into our nation's laws is reprehensible. This is compounded by that fact that the vast majority of Americans are unaware that portrayals of the United States as a "Christian county" are based on outright falsehoods.

Troutfishing clarifies the danger of congressional endorsement of lies:
Even if H. Res 888 only gets passed in the US House of Representatives that would serve the goal of American history falsificationists such as Wallbuilders head David Barton ; if the Resolution gets passed in the House-- rather than rightfully rejected as the foetid mass of history falsification that it is, that House endorsement of H. Res. 888 would be entered into the Congressional Record. In that way, the history lies in H. Res 888-- proven to be lies through the diligent, hard work of Chris Rodda --would become "Congressionally certified".
Check out Troutfishing's post to learn more about this, or Chris Rodda's latest installment from this week. Bruce Wilson's appeal here is also good as it outlines the efforts to re-write American history to promote a "Christian" agenda.

Just because lies come out of the mouth of "good Christians" does not make them true.
--the BB

Kenya update

From the BBC:
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have signed an agreement to end the country's post-election crisis.

At a ceremony in Nairobi, the two men put their signatures to a power-sharing deal brokered by ex-UN head Kofi Annan.

A coalition government comprising members of the current ruling party and opposition will now be formed.
h/t Turkana at Daily Kos

For our Enemies

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--the BB

Господи, помилуй

The header for this post is Russian for "Lord, have mercy" (Gospodi pomiluj).

United States
US border "virtual fence" to be delayed: report
Reuters - 6 hours ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Technical problems have forced the Bush administration to retool a high-tech "virtual fence" along the US-Mexico border and will delay the first phase for at least three years, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Freddie Mac Posts Record Loss, Remains `Cautious,' (Update1)
Bloomberg - 46 minutes ago
By James Tyson Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Freddie Mac, the second-largest source of money for US home loans, posted a record $2.45 billion loss for the fourth quarter as rising mortgage defaults sent credit costs soaring.

Defense stalls in Sept. 11 case at Gitmo
Wed Feb 27, 8:11 PM ET
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The military is speeding ahead with plans to try six men at Guantanamo Bay for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but none of the defendants, who face possible execution if found guilty, has seen a defense lawyer yet.

Turkey - Iraq - Kurdistan
Gates pressures Turkey on Iraq
CNN International - 2 hours ago
ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has urged Turkey not to drag out its military operation against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq any longer than is necessary.

Turkey Declines to Give Date for Ending Northern Iraq Incursion Bloomberg

Kenya
Kenya's rival politicians strike power sharing deal
CNN - 58 minutes ago
President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga had been negotiating for weeks about sharing power following the disputed elections in late December.

Thailand
Back Home in Thailand, Thaksin Must Face Charges,
Wall Street Journal - 37 minutes ago
By JAMES HOOKWAY BANGKOK, Thailand - The singing and dancing began overnight as thousands of supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra converged on Bangkok's international airport to welcome him home from exile Thursday, ...

Palestine - Israel
Israel Continues Air Strikes on Gaza
Voice of America - 1 hour ago
By VOA News Israel has continued air strikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip Thursday, killing at least three suspected militants.

Pakistan
Missile kills 8 in remote Pakistan
CNN - 1 hour ago
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A missile strike in a remote part of Pakistan killed at least eight suspected militants and wounded three others Thursday, Pakistan's state media reported.
Witnesses: Missile Strike in Pakistan Kills 13 Suspected Militants Voice of America


Drive Us Out with Power
May the God who dances in creation, who embraces us with human love, who shakes our lives like thunder, bless us and drive us out with power to fill the world with her justice.
—Janet Morley

--the BB

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feast of George Herbert


Our God and King, who called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in your temple: Give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

--the BB

Wednesday in Lent 3 - Don't freak the weak - updated


Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘no idol in the world really exists’, and that ‘there is no God but one.’ Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. ‘Food will not bring us close to God.’ We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. (1 Corinthians 8:1-13)
This is a problematic text. I think the helpful part of its message is that those who experience great liberty in Christ should not exploit that liberty to lead the reticent and fearful into what these "weaker brethren" might consider sin, because they are simply not ready to handle it. One should be considerate of one's siblings in God's family.

The not so helpful aspect of this passage lies in its serving as a great prooftext (pretext) for "the tyranny of the weak." In other words, "we can never do anything that might cause offense to the timid, the scrupulous, the uninformed, the easily led, or the newly converted."

The long-time believers, the fearless, the risk-takers, the innovators, etc. are thus hamstrung by the weakness of the rest. It is rather like trying to work through consensus when one person resolutely refuses to go along. That may be brave and useful on the part of the one person and the rest may need to hear that testimony. Then again, that person may just be enjoying the passive aggressive wielding of power and the group will be paralyzed.

Notice that I carefully wrote of leading "the reticent and fearful into what these 'weaker brethren' might consider sin." The text makes it clear that it is NOT sin to eat meat offered to idols. So if I were to lead someone into this practice through my casual attitude about the whole thing, that person would not be sinning nor would I have led that person into sin. That person would only be led into what he or she might fear to be sin. I would have increased anxiety but not led into sin. My callousness might be sinful but the behavior involved (eatin meat offered to idols) would not.

Perhaps those in the various churches who have come to see sexual orientation as a neutral category and homosexual relationships (including genital behavior) to be no more sinful or grace-filled than straight ones--the moral categories only applying to how we behave toward each other and not to the configurations of bodily plumbing--have so lived in their freedom as to trouble those with a weak conscience. (I would point out that this passage indicates that those scandalized are the weak ones lacking knowledge, which corresponds to the message elsewhere that God does not give us a spirit of fear.)

I am not asserting that this is the case, only that this is one possible application of the principles in the passage. And if we run with it for a moment we may note a couple of things.

1. We all know that homosexuality is not contagious. LGBT persons are surrounded all their lives by straight folk and that preponderance and all the societal assumptions and pressures toward straightness do not turn them straight. Straight persons who happen to know LGBT persons do not suddenly find themselves turning gay. Acknowledging that LGBT persons exist and that some of them live in committed relationships and a very few of them are called to holy orders has nothing to do with turning the whole world queer. I just want to discard that specter up front.

2. So the example of our freedom might lead others to think that being queer was all right in God's eyes, and that might make them very nervous. Obviously, the idea of this does. Very nervous. And from the anxiety arise thundering denunciations, and from thundering denunciations arises violence.

Some of us would assert there is no issue of sin here, only the issue of freaking out the weak. One may well posit that those churches who have moved ahead on this did so with inadequate consideration of their weaker siblings (though it wasn't done in secret and where have they been for the past three decades?). TEC has even accepted that charge and said "sorry."

Others who believe firmly in the reality of idols (metaphor for viewing homosexuality as an objective moral disorder, at the very least) will indignantly denounce our freedom as license and godlessness. St Paul suggests we not freak the weak and also suggests that the weak are wrong. I think that if one waited patiently for the weak to come around and join those with knowledge there would have been no development of doctrine or evolution of Christian practice for the past two thousand years.

It seems to me that Jesus did a fair amount of freaking the weak, and so did the prophets. Even the Apostle Paul was known to do so from time to time (denouncing Peter quite boldly). So I think taking the principle of consideration into account while not making this passage an absolute might be a reasonable path. But never to freak the weak? Sorry.

UPDATE:
Tobias Haller has some very good comments about this passage and its applicability (or lack thereof) to our current discussions.  He is, as ever, thoughtful, careful, and articulate.

When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:29)
The Forerunner preceded the Christ: announcing the inbreaking of God's reign and calling all to turn around and forsake the ways of death, refusing to accept the terms of the powerful and the wicked, and losing his life at the hands of the unjust. Holy John, pray to Christ our God that we may be bold in the truth.


Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

Dollar drops to new low vs. Euro


Well, it's not like the market is dicey or people are losing their homes or the Chinese own vast chunks of our national debt or a counter-productive war is sapping the economy or the earning power of the middle class is shrinking.

Dipstick speaking yesterday:
WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Tuesday said the U.S. economy was not in a recession and that he believed it would not fall into a downturn.

"We're not in a recession, I don't think we will go in a recession. We're in a slowdown, and there's a difference," Bush said in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks.

Bush's comments came on a day when economic reports showed U.S. consumer confidence slumped to its worst in five years, and home prices fell 8.9 percent last year.
Grant Smith reporting at Bloomberg:
Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded little changed after earlier rising above $102 a barrel, the highest ever. Gold advanced to a record as a weakening dollar spurred investors to buy commodities as a hedge against inflation.

Futures jumped in New York and London as the dollar fell to $1.50 per euro for the first time. The UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Index rose to the highest ever, on gains for gold, silver, sugar, copper and coffee. A government report later today is expected to show U.S. crude inventories rose last week for a seventh straight time.

``This record is purely a play on the weakness of the dollar, as investors use both crude and gold as a hedge against inflation,'' said Olivier Jakob, managing director of Petromatrix Gmbh in Zug, Switzerland. ``If the dollar keeps getting weaker, and we don't have inventory builds today, it could drive prices towards $105.''
And for the gold market, let's turn to Reuters (India):
MUMBAI (Reuters) - Demand for gold subsided on Tuesday after moderate sales the previous day, with easing prices raising hopes of bigger falls, dealers said.

"They were buying at all levels yesterday -- ranging from $934 an ounce to $940," said a dealer in a large national bank.

Another dealer in a large private bank said traders were now eyeing $925, with prices down to nearly a week's low.

It drifted lower on possible sales of gold by the International Monetary Fund as the U.S. said on Monday it supported the sale of a limited portion of the IMF's gold stocks.

The metal saw its all time high on Thursday at $953.60.
To summarize: We have, in the last week, seen the dollar's lowest historic value vis-à-vis the Euro and the highest historical prices of crude oil and gold.


Well, why not go graphic? (Or what's a Google for?)


6-month value of Euro per US$1.00



5-year Gold Price

1-year Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)


US National Debt

Drats, I didn't keep my source links (one exception). You can replicate this with Google search on terms like "gold price chart." Not difficult to obtain.
--the BB