Saturday, June 21, 2008

You DID want war with Iran, didn't you?


Do your elected officials know that? They seem hell-bent on stupidity these days.

Do something before it's too late.

[See Tom J's diary at Daily Kos for starters.]
--the BB

Friday, June 20, 2008

Things are jumping around here!

Today we welcome our first visitor from the Republic of Maldives. Located south of India and southwest of Sri Lanka, the Maldives is a nation of atolls in the Indian Ocean. The capital and largest city is Malé and the language is Dhivehi.

If anyone should be concerned about global warming it is the Maldivians. Wikipedia notes this:
The Maldives holds the record for being the flattest country in the world, with a maximum natural ground level of only 2.3 m (7½ ft), though in areas where construction exists this has been increased to several metres. Over the last century, sea levels have risen about 20 centimetres (8 in); further rises of the ocean could threaten the existence of Maldives.
Your virtual tour:

Ey Dhivehi Gauma Ey ( Maldivian Song )
The national song (way cool):

iru ossumun
Who knew you'd be shaking your hips to music in Dhivehi this weekend?

--the BB

Damn, damn, damn caving Dems! - Updated

OK. Nancy and Steny didn't vote for the damn thing, but they let it come to the floor. What is the point of being Speaker of the House if you can't keep something like this from passing? Remember that oath to uphold and defend the Consti-fracking-tution?

Phillip Carter at the WaPo:
Republicans and Democrats in Congress reached a breakthrough compromise yesterday on a bill that would dramatically revamp the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Most significantly, the draft legislation makes legal the president's probably previously illegal National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program. If signed into law, the new bill would also immunize telecommunications companies from individual lawsuits over surveillance. (More than 40 such suits have been filed already.)
[Emphasis mine, of course]

There was and is no reason to grant immunity to telcoms and certainly not to provide wiggle room for the lawbreaking thugs in charge of the executive branch.

I feared this was coming and it has. I am furious with the Dems in the House of Representatives and, if I had the power, would vote every compromiser out in the next election. No mercy, no excuses, no exceptions.

Nancy, you're back high on my shit list. You could get off it by putting impeachment back on the agenda. Short of that, you're probably going to stay there. I expected more of a grandmother. Just saying. I don't even need to get started on Steny and Rahm. Grrrrrrrrr.

In my book, voting to violate the Constitution is difficult for me to distinguish from treason. Also just saying. Who needs to aid and abet enemies when we're destroying ourselves from within?

Asshats. The lot of them.

So, I get to see headlines like this first thing in the morning:
Democrats Have Legalized Bush's War Crimes
AlterNet - 3 hours ago
Essentially, Bush was betting that even if his warrantless wiretap program was disclosed -- as it was in December 2005 -- that he could trust his Republican congressional allies to protect him and could count on most Democrats not to have the guts to ...
--the BB

Z'kor et-shabbat l'kadsho

I was blessedly reminded this evening that it is Shabbat. May you all know its peace and joy.

Alas, I shall violate it tomorrow, going in to work. In response to heavy lobbying, however, it will be another "take your daughters to work day." Jennifer keeps inquiring about the girls and is looking forward to meeting them and Deborah promised they can play in her cubicle for a while. I have just issued the paternal warning about trashing work areas. This drew giggles since my office at home is a shambles. It is so hard to be a parent when one's foibles are so transparent. Sigh.

For tonight, however, I got home before dark and cooked up some polenta with chicken (not pork!) sausage, roasted red peppers, onion, all deglazed with a splash of cabernet and a smaller splash of balsamic.

Memo to self: you really should have your recipe for microwave polenta handy before doing this again. Not a bad recovery, but....

Just took a sip of wine.

Blessed are you, Adonai Eloheinu, Sovereign of the Ages, who have made the fruit of the vine.

What, you expect me to type in Hebrew? I can recite it but these fingers can only do so much, nu?

The girls send their love to one and all.

Update: Oh, and don't forget to get laid. It's an important mitzvah.
--the BB

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"The House and the Senate should not be taking up this bill...."

Senator Feingold:
"The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration."
h/t to mcjoan, of course
--the BB

There was some mild sibling rivalry

Last weekend there was some gentle dissension on the home front. In short, the rest of the kids are jealous of Maggie and Belle having their NOLA adventures. I even heard a cry of "can we have our own blog?" to which Daddy replied firmly, "No."

I know. I am an old meanie. Love my kids but I am simply not up to such an adventure. However, I did promise that other kids may have adventures that get shared online. Eventually. Over time. I have a lot of kids. You'd think I were a Mormon, a Catholic, or a passionate Baptist. But y'all know better.

Anyway, here are Belle and Maggie checking out a photo of Her Ladyship, the Right Rev'd and Right Hon. Maya Pavlova of North Carolina, who kindly sent me a pastoral letter to cheer me up and encourage me, which is certainly did.

We all need some kitteh love now and again, even those of us who sneeze around kittehs.

Actually, as four of us rode home this evening after work we joked about it feeling like playing hooky. We split at 7:30 when the boss wasn't looking and it was still daylight. Woohoo, don't we know how to be wild!? That is purely ironic and rhetorical, y'all don't need to comment, as if I needed to say so.

So I have already been able to do a fair chunk of blog reading and have munched on some lovely extra sharp cheddar and crackers with my Coke (yes, we may have preferences but we don't discriminate) enhanced by three fingers of rum (in the first go around and some more in the second). Feeling very mellow at the moment. Lest y'all worry, I eat large lunches and really need very little food in the evening. And I almost always get either my oatmeal or an omelet in the morning. Most nights involve zero alcohol also, so I'm not dissipating down here, no matter what rumors you may have heard.

Godde bless the kittehs and all the other critters!

Don't forget to send some love over to the Cunning Runt who's got the blues but can't sing about them on Basin Street, as I can these days.

La K has begun her interferon treatments. Let's knit her a virtual prayer shawl (while others work on an incarnate one).

Nice to get home and have some energy for blogging.
--the BB

122 - so much nicer than other counts I keep

Wikipedia informs us that:
Macau was both the first and the last European colony in China.
It "is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong."

I had barely posted the last three nations from which we had visitors when a guest from Macau showed up! Welcome.

Asia or Monaco?
The mixing of the Chinese and Portuguese cultures and religious traditions for more than four centuries has left Macau with an inimitable collection of holidays, festivals and events. The biggest event of the year is the Macau Grand Prix in November, when the main streets in Macau Peninsula are converted to a racetrack bearing similarities with the Monaco Grand Prix.
Music performance in Macau during the Yuan Xiao Festival, the night of the 15th of the 1 st Moon, lunar month (the Shakers have invaded!):


Old Macau in 1960


--the BB

Sure I stole it

Do you think they'll really mind?

A video on the Harrowing of Hell from the Cathedral in Arizona via OCICBOV:

This is one of my favorite themes and serves as the primary image of the Anastasis (Resurrection) in Orthodox iconography (see above). Enjoy.

--the BB

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

War Criminals by any measure

Even the AP talks about it. Now the WaPo does too (thanks Dan Froomkin).
The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.


Bring 'em to justice.
--the BB

Where is my 2x4?

Somebody needs to whomp Steny Hoyer upside the head. What colossal twititude he is manifesting these days.

Mcjoan has the latest and a link by which you may let your Representative and Senators know you DON'T want telcom immunity.

Oh, and in another post mcjoan shares part of a NYT editorial on the topic.
-the BB

Eleven squared

There are now 121 flags in the virtual collection from visitors around the world. Today Sudan joined Aruba and the Bahamas, whence we had visitors a few days ago. Welcome to all of you!

I left home this morning a few minutes after six and, with a serious grocery and necessity shopping tour on the way home (a new chap has joined our ranks and had nothing with him), got home a few minutes after nine tonight. So I shall be brief but I need to welcome our new friends.

Aruba (official tourism site here) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You may read about it at Wikipedia.
About the flag:
The Aruba flag has four colors: Bunting yellow, Larkspur (or U.N.) Blue, Union Jack Red and White. Each of these colors is significant: the blue represents the sea that surrounds Aruba; yellow is the color of abundance, representing the island's past and its industries of gold, aloe and oil; red is for the love each Aruban has for the country and the ancient industry of Brazilwood; and white symbolized the snow-white beaches as well as the purity of the hearts of Aruba's people who strive for justice, order and liberty.

The symbols on the flag consist of a red star and two yellow stripes. The red star represents the four points of the compass, with the island having drawn people from around the world. The star also represents the island itself, surrounded by the beautiful blue sea. The horizontal yellow stripes denote the free and separate position Aruba enjoys in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Wikipedia introduces the Bahamas thus:
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an independent sovereign, English-speaking country consisting of two thousand cays and seven hundred islands that form an archipelago. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida and the United States, north of Cuba, the island of Hispanola and the Caribbean, and northwest of the British overseas territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
God save the Queen!
The Bahamas is an independent country and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom.

Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, represented by a Bahamian governor-general. The prime minister is the head of government and is the leader of the party with the most seats in the elected House of Assembly. [also from Wikipedia]
Of Sudan we read:
Sudan (officially the Republic of Sudan) (Arabic: السودان ‎as-Sūdān)[2] is the largest country in Africa[3] and the Arab World, and tenth largest country in the world by area. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. [Yep, Wiki again.]
Sudanese Music - Majzob Onsa

Aruba band

The Bahamas - Salute to Joseph Spence


Bonbini! means Welcome! in Aruba.
--the BB

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hoping to post more soon

Very long work day. I still have to welcome our visitors from Aruba and the Bermudas.

Patience, my naughty chipmunks.
--the BB

More financial architecture

Well, it IS the Central Business District (CBD) and it seems that three out of four buildings around here are banks or related financial institutions.

Ya gotta love the details here. They don't frame windows like this anymore.

Here we have a post-modern adaptation of neo-classical style and ornamentation, with a salmon paint job and fresh contrasting cool grays and warm creams.

The photo above is the view just as I was about to enter the Chinese Star No. 2 for lunch. A very decent buffet and some of the foods do have fire in them.

The inscription below the pediment reads "New Orleans Cotton Exchange." How cool is that?

Well, actually, nothing is cool here this time of year. The temp is rising a bit and the humidity remains.

Humidity on my front porch Monday morning was seven percent. Juts saying.
--the BB

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here are a couple of photos from Albuquerque

This is a bronze statue in the Albuquerque International Sunport. I have been impressed by it for years and realized today that I was right there with a camera in my briefcase.

The artist is Lincoln Fox and the work is titled "Dream of Flight."

I am sorry these photos do not balance exposure to show detail better.
--the BB

It ain't over by a long shot. But it might be.

There have been rumblings of "compromise" with respect to FISA legislation and we all know what compromise means in the current political atmosphere. Caving to the White House. Maybe not as much as Bush would like but still caving.

Yet I remain firm in my opinion that where the Constitution, including the Bill or Rights, is concerned, no concessions should be made. Period.

Mcjoan and Kagro X have articles up today at Daily Kos on what seems to be going on with respect to the AT&T and GWB Immunity Act (oh, that's supposed to be FISA legislation - well, sounds like the same thing).

Mcjoan has a great passage:
Does Nancy Pelosi have any idea how bad this sounds?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants the matter settled before Congress breaks for Independence Day at the end of next week, suggesting she is ready to bring the issue to a head.

"We want to pass a bill that will be signed by the president," she said. "And that will happen before we leave for the Fourth of July. So the timing is sometime between now and then. I feel confident that that will happen."

By all means, celebrate the birth of the nation by throwing aside the Fourth Amendment and passing the Protect AT&T Act. There's nothing like optics like that, in an election year, to show a Democratic Party embracing the politics of change. Here's a clue, any bill that will be signed by the president will suck for the American people and for the Constitution. Any bill that will be signed by the president should be unacceptable to every Member of the first branch of government--the one that created the law that Bush broke--and might possibly be struck down by the third branch.
Kagro X notes that the judiciary committees seem to be overlooking in debates about judicial oversight, a rather glaring omission indeed.
The essential problem is that the people negotiating this for both parties are all people who place their faith in the intelligence community, and appear to exhibit virtually no skepticism whatsoever about a program designed to permit the gathering of incredibly detailed intelligence about everything done by everyone, with no checks, no oversight, and really, no obligation by the actual government (as opposed to the contractors who actually do this work) to actually get it right and keep their noses out of places even they say it doesn't belong.

Democrats in Congress who will be asked to vote for this "deal" need to hold out for something negotiated by people who actually know and understand the issues at the center of the dispute. And they're not getting it so long as the judiciary issues are being dictated by intelligence people. That's a miserable failure of oversight by the intelligence side, which is overreaching, and the judiciary side, which is underrepresented and underperforming.
--the BB


Latest Coalition Fatalities

MNF: MND-C Soldier attacked by IED
A Multi National Division-Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack southeast of Hillah, Iraq June 16. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Kelly E. C. Watters, 19, of Virginia Beach, Va. died June 11, from wounds suffered while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division...

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Javier Perales Jr., 19, of San Elizario, Texas, died June 11, from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

From Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

I began posting the incremental count when the number passed four thousand. I intend to continue until this illegal and immoral occupation has ended.
--the BB

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We're not talking about a divan

If you would like to know something about the very secret and universally opposed SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) that Bush has been trying to foist on Iraq, check out Smintheus' article. This is something the White House will not reveal, Congress has no chance to review, the Iraqi Parliament has no chance to review, and that makes all kinds of commitments (but we don't know what they are). Sort of Bush's back-door plan towards a permanent virtual occupation or something like that. But who knows? You can learn lots from what Smintheus shares.
--the BB

Christe, eleison - 6015008

Mugabe vows MDC will ‘never rule Zimbabwe’
Financial Times - 1 hour ago
By William Wallis in London Robert Mugabe has vowed that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will “never rule Zimbabwe” in a weekend speech that followed a pledge to arm war veterans and send them to fight in the event of an MDC victory.
Runoff election won't end Zimbabwe's crisis The Associated Press
Mugabe says ready to hand power to a party faithful Reuters

Israel - Palestine
Rice says Israeli settlement building hurting talks
Reuters - 1 hour ago
By Arshad Mohammed RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday Israel's continued settlement building was harming peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas US Department of State
Rice criticizes Israel on West Bank settlements The Associated Press

Afghanistan - Pakistan
President Karzai in terror warning
Times Online - 1 hour ago
President Karzai threatened yesterday to send troops into Pakistan to prevent cross-border attacks by the Taleban, giving a personal warning to Baitullah Mehsud, the self-proclaimed leader of the Pakistani Taleban, that he would be hunted down for ...
Video: Karzai Threatens to Send Forces Into Pakistan AssociatedPress
Karzai Threatens to Send Soldiers Into Pakistan New York Times

Iowans fight back against deadly floodwaters
Reuters - 56 minutes ago
By Frank Polich IOWA CITY, Iowa, June 15 (Reuters) - Officials moved paintings, books and documents out of harm's way on Sunday as record flooding in parts of the US Midwest partly submerged the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.
Video: More Rain Forecast for Flood Weary Iowa AssociatedPress
Floodwaters start to recede in Cedar Rapids CNN

War Powers Why This Court Keeps Rebuking This President
New York Times - 18 hours ago
By JONATHAN MAHLER “The most important thing we do is not doing,” Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said of the Supreme Court’s abiding humility, its overwhelming preference to allow the people, through their elected representatives, to govern themselves.
Critics Study Possible Limits to Habeas Corpus Ruling Washington Post

Nuclear Smuggling
Nuclear ring reportedly had weapon design
The Associated Press - 3 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) - An international smuggling ring may have secretly shared blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon with Iran, North Korea and other rogue countries, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Smuggling Ring Suspected of Sharing Nuclear Info
Report: Smuggling Network Had Blueprint for Advanced Nuclear Weapon FOXNews

Iraqi Forces Mass Outside Southern City of Amara
New York Times - 2 hours ago
By ANDREW E. KRAMER and ALISSA J. RUBIN BAGHDAD - The Iraqi Army continued to mass troops outside the southern city of Amara on Sunday and Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, offered a three-day amnesty and weapons buyback program to militants ...
Anti-US cleric shifts strategy for Iraq elections The Associated Press
Sadr's Launches his Election Campaign TIME

Lord, deliver us from searching for our ultimate security in any created thing, in any theory, system, or organization, sacred or secular. Show yourself to us, our light, our refuge, our salvation, so that we may recognize you in all things and worship you always in spirit and in truth. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Gerard W. Hughes