Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taking +Maya's advice

San Pablo Bay viewed from Pinole, CA
22 February 2003

Following the counsels of that most godly bishop, +Maya Pavlova, and offering myself vicariously for Jane R and anyone else who needs rest, I am about to take a little nap. Actually, I just took one at the computer.

I did a bit more restoration of watering wells (the trenches around plants, not those deep holes for drawing liquid from the earth), mulching, and watering in the yard this morning. I have studied a little tiny bit of Russian, though I need to do a lot more. There was some cooking. Reading online, of course. And I am reviewing the first 85 or so pages of my novel-in-revision. Getting ready to actually print up the revision so some other eyes can see if what I have attempted in the re-write is successful or not. I would so love to ship this off to a publisher!

This is a rather unbooked weekend so if I am moving slowly that seems just perfect.

And now for a little snooze.
--the BB

Can we ward off panic right now? - updated with new graphic

Juan Cole comments:
Iran cannot construct nuclear bombs with uranium enriched only to less than 4%. It needs to be enriched to something like 90% to make a bomb. So all the silly articles on Friday about how iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb are just illiterate. Moreover, the report in question actually says that Iran is slowing its enrichment activities.


Now that the Likud is back in control of Israel, flanked by even less savory far-right forces, we will unfortunately be bombarded by inflammatory propaganda about how dangerous Iran is. Iran hasn't aggressively invaded another country in at least a century and a half. In contrast, the Likud never met a war of aggression they did not like.
[Emphasis mine]

Professor Cole is drawing on chemist Cheryl Rofer's article:
The concentration of U-235 is 3.49% in the enriched uranium that the Natanz plant is turning out. The IAEA has found no evidence (Download Iran 0902) that any higher enrichment is being produced. 3.49% is not enough to make a bomb. Iran is not in a position to make a bomb, unless there is a bunch of hidden stuff that nobody has found, involving big buildings that can be seen by satellite surveillance.

It would take a reconfiguration of the Natanz facility that the inspectors would notice to produce bomb-grade uranium (concentration of U-235 of 90%). The inspectors also take environmental samples to verify the concentration of U-235. They would have to be kicked out of the facility and their video cameras taken down for Iran to do this.

There are a number of other things in that IAEA report that the media aren't bothering to report, like that the pace of enrichment has slowed. That doesn't support the idea that Iran is racing toward a bomb, so it's not relevant, I guess.
So if you hear someone spouting twaddle, you are now armed with information to stop it.

--the BB

Six years ago tomorrow

It's gratuitous weekend photos time.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Manzanita or Bearberry
Pinole, California
22 Feburary 2003
--the BB

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another not-so-fond nostalgia tour through my archives

Rove’s Grand Vision (thanks to Jan Pieterse for the link)

Karl Rove, the political adviser to President Bush who recently became chief of staff for policy, said on Thursday that Mr. Bush had helped transform conservatism from "reactionary" to "forward looking" . . . "We are seizing the mantle of idealism."

“Republicans cannot grow tired or timid,'' he said. . . ``Conservatism is the dominant political creed in America,'' Rove said, adding that more needed to be done.

Bonus item: Rush explains, “We don't retract anything we do here because we never lie and make things up on this program." (Here’s a list)

Bush Seeks to Begin a Thaw in a Europe Still Cool to Him

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 - President Bush leaves for Brussels on Sunday for a four-day campaign to sell himself to Europe as a new man with open arms, but behind his embrace of the triumvirate that opposed him on Iraq - President Jacques Chirac of France, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia - lie serious tensions unlikely to be resolved on the trip.
Most significant are the White House rebuff of European requests that the United States take part in talks to persuade Iran to abandon what is thought to be a nuclear weapons program, and American opposition to Europe's plan to lift an embargo on arms sales to China.

Via Digby , WSJ's Washington Wire reports this poll finding:
"Americans want Democrats to stand up to Bush," the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports. "Fully 60%, including one-fourth of Republicans, say Democrats in Congress should make sure Bush and his party 'don't go too far.' Just 34% want Democrats to 'work in a bipartisan way' to help pass the president's priorities."

· When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked if he thought he would be the next Prime Minster of Iraq, Dr. Chalabi responded: “That's up to the United Iraqi Alliance parliamentary bloc, and they will decide on that through a democratic process… I believe I have a majority of the votes on my side right now.”

Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of journalism in books like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67

Sharon signs evacuation orders for Gaza, West Bank settlements
Big News - 16 minutes ago
The Israeli cabinet voted 17 to 5 to approve the withdrawal from settlements in Gaza and parts of the West Bank. The historic decision paved the way for Prime Minister Sharon to sign evacuation orders for ...

Why global warming is not natural
Times Online - Feb 18, 2005
THE strongest evidence yet that global warming has been triggered by human activity has emerged from a study of rising temperatures in the oceans.

American actress Sandra Dee passes away
Sify - 1 hour ago
Los Angeles: American actress Sandra Dee, a teen idol who epitomised wholesome innocence during the 1950s and 1960s, died on Sunday at the age of 62, hospital officials said.

White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe
Washington Post - 6 hours ago
At two key moments in recent days, White House officials contacted congressional leaders just ahead of intelligence committee meetings that could have stirred demands for a deeper review of the administration's warrantless-surveillance program, according ...
Facing Pressure, White House Seeks Approval for Spying New York Times
Bush Didn't Need to Get Court Approval for Wiretaps, Frist Says Bloomberg

Bin Laden: 'I will never be taken alive'
Guardian Unlimited - 2 hours ago
Osama bin Laden vowed never to be taken alive in an audiotape broadcast on a militant website today. In the recording - which appeared to be a fuller version of a tape broadcast last month - the al-Qaida leader ...

The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.[...]

By now, I think all reasonable people agree there are a number of curious discrepancies in the Deadeye Dick shooting story. And while I think the rumors floating out there have a germ of truth to them, I don't think they can fully explain the story. Oh, sure, I'm sure alcohol was a big part of the story. First Katharine Armstrong the 100-yard eyewitness says "No, zero, zippo" then she admits on background that there might have been a few beers in the picnic basket? Then Dick sheepishly admits to a beer. (Though a friend tells me that the hunters around Jackson Hole--where Dick lives when he's not playing Texan--don't drink beer when they hunt, because it makes them pee; they drink whiskey.) I think the alcohol aspect is especially likely since the people who went to the hospital on Saturday night--Ben Love, Mercedes Whittington, Bob Hixon, and George Willeford--made up the entire other hunting party. If Dick's hunting party was drinking heavily, it would make sense that none of them would go to the hospital while still shit-faced.

But the alcohol can't be the sum of the story. If it were, Katharine Armstrong and Dick would not have made such herculean efforts to avoid mentioning Pamela Willeford, who after all really did see the accident since she was standing right there next to Dick (that is, if we can believe the stories they've been telling).

Now, I don't buy the rumors that Dick was hiding an affair with Willeford. I mean, if I were a cuckold, I don't think I'd be visiting the guy whom my wife's lover just shot. Not unless this is a real 1970s swinger crowd, Texas style. (Though I am reminded of the rumors about John Bolton at Plato's retreat, so I suppose it is possible.) I think Dick was trying to hide the presence of Willeford for other reasons.


One more detail we ought to consider when asking what Dick is trying to hide--the least discussed house guest, Nancy Brown Negley. Described in the NYT piece as a philanthropist "whose family once controlled Brown & Root," she is described elsewhere as the heiress to the Brown & Root interest. Brown & Root, of course, has become Halliburton, the big beneficiary of the Iraq war, as well as a great deal of other defense contracting. By all appearances, Nagley's primary occupation is to give money away (and to good, artsy causes, too!). But she, too, has ties to one of the construction/DOD contractors making a killing off of this war.
The Bush administration offered no new aid for Hurricane Katrina victims in the budget it released Monday, instead putting modest amounts of money into preparedness and response plans for future disasters.

I postulate that existential fear is at the heart of most “isms.” And although there’s no objective measure of angst that I know of, the world may seem scarier to We, the People, than it used to, and not just because of terrorism. Collectively, our props are falling away. Compared to fifty years ago (as far back as I can remember), communities are fragmented, families are scattered, jobs are ephemeral. Across rural and small-town America, communities that were once homogeneous are becoming multiracial and multiethnic. “Givens” about God and Man and Sex and other big issues are being openly challenged.
Thus, fearful voters can be incited into voting against their own self-interests by the terrifying specter of gay people getting married.
If you understand the fear issue, then what I call Erin’s Paradox (named for my daughter because she noticed it, not because she has it) becomes more understandable. Erin’s Paradox says that the further away Americans live from any likely terrorist target, the more fearful they are of terrorism. “Likely terrorist targets” are urban, and city dwellers learn to be comfortable with multiculturalism. If you live in some homogeneous little town out on the prairie, however, it’s more likely you are not comfortable with multiculturalism at all. Thus, dusky Islamic terrorists from unfathomable foreign places scare the stuffing out of them, much more so than the potential Timothy McVeigh wannabee next door.
Bottom line: When you are looking at a rightie you are looking at a nationalist; and when you are looking at a nationalist you are looking at someone who has already surrendered to fear. The terrorists have got ‘em right where they want ‘em — terrorized.

It's Not That America's Poor Don't Have Jobs...
I can't believe how many people I speak to who quote Jesus out of context when the issue of poverty in America is brought up, "The poor will always be with us." So that makes it ok? You can quote Jesus, the champion of the poor, while shrugging your shoulders at the working poor?

How about all the people who say that everyone has an equal opportunity in America? That would be true if people who work 40 hour work weeks actually earned a living wage.

Millions of poor in America who work several jobs and still end up on the bread lines? There is something wrong with this picture.

While 45.8 million Americans lack any health insurance, the top 20 per cent of earners take over half the national income. At the same time the bottom 20 per cent took home just 3.4 per cent.

The gap is ever widening. Obviously we are not all born with the same opportunities. Our children our going to bed hungry because the minimum wage is a farce and our legislators refuse to deal with it.

37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty
Posted by BlondeSense Liz

Conspiracy Time
Posted by Susie in Politics As Usual, War Stories, The Regime (February 20, 2006 at 10:43 am)
Seems like it was just Fitzmas yesterday, and now it’s time to start thinking about it again:
The investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson is heating up. Evidence is mounting that senior officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Council conspired to unmask Plame Wilson’s identity to reporters in an effort to stop her husband from publicly criticizing the administration’s pre-war Iraq intelligence, according to sources close to the two-year-old probe.
In recent weeks, investigators working for Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald have narrowed their focus to a specific group of officials who played a direct role in pushing the White House to cite bogus documents claiming that Iraq attempted to purchase 500 tons of uranium from Niger, which Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had exposed as highly suspect. […]
The sources added that the witnesses testified that Joseph and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had worked directly with senior officials from vice president Cheney’s office - including Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, National Security Adviser John Hannah, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove - during the month of June to coordinate a response to reporters who had phoned the vice president’s office and the NSC about the administration’s use of the Niger documents.

Bush wants this to be like Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus. Well, a few points there. First, read what habeas corpus actually is:
A writ (court order) that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner's release.
Bush is comparing his domestic spying to taking away the right of American citizens to appear in court before a judge AFTER the government kidnaps you. Bush is assuming a few things here. First, bush is assuming that what Lincoln did was right at the time, that what Lincoln did would be right for today, and that what Lincoln was going through (the possible dissolution of our entire country, literally civil war) is the exact same thing in gravity as what we're going through trying to fight terrorists today (something that other countries have been fighting for decades, so it's not that novel and it's not something that you win in 4 to 5 years and then go to back to normal). Bush's domestic spying has no end in sight, and as the Republicans always like to tell us, once you create a federal program it never goes away. So, basically, Bush is saying that he'd be fine suspending the Constitution indefinitely.

Think about that, folks.

Is 'Murka Addicted To Oil or Tax Credits?
"Federal tax rules that took effect last month allow a credit of up to $3,150 for anyone buying a hybrid car. The credit is the same regardless of tax bracket.

However, owners of small businesses who buy a Hummer, Ford Excursion or other SUV weighing more than 3 tons get a deduction of up to $25,000 — depending on tax bracket — if they use the vehicle exclusively for work." -AP

And we all know that the majority of those 'tax break' SUV's are driven by their wives... well at least that's the case around here.
Posted by BlondeSense Liz | 12:56 PM

Civil unions begin in New Jersey
by: pam
Mon Feb 19, 2007 at 07:30:00 AM EST

At midnight, civil unions in the Garden State began. This is the third state -- after Connecticut and Vermont -- to create CUs, and unions in those states will be recognized by NJ, as will marriages from Massachusetts and the five countries that allow gays and lesbians to marry. (

Making Martial Law Easier
A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president’s use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.
The newly enacted provisions upset this careful balance. They shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any "other condition."

Novak: House GOP fired Veterans-friendly committee chair in order to "save money"
by John in DC 2/19/2007 02:13:00 PM
Discuss this post here: Comments (78) | digg it | FARK | | Link

We now know how the Bush administration got away with years of providing such paltry support to our injured and maimed veterans from the Iraq war and Afghanistan. The Republican congressional leadership forcibly removed the GOP House committee chair in charge of overseeing veterans. Why? He was too vet-friendly, too interested in meeting the growing needs of our war veterans, and the Republicans wanted to save money at the expense of our injured and maimed veterans.

And I quote Robert Novak, one of the most conservative Republican columnists in existence:
[T]he House Republican leadership had removed [GOP] Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The extraordinary purge buttressed the growing impression of arrogance as Republicans enter their second decade of power in the House.

The party's House leaders purportedly removed Smith, a tireless promoter of spending for veterans, to save money....

The leadership's problem with Smith has been his insatiable desire to make life better for veterans during 24 years on the Veterans Affairs committee (six years as vice chairman, four years as chairman).

Veterans abuse: The stories in the news just the past few days
by John in DC 2/19/2007 01:26:00 PM
Discuss this post here: Comments (76) | digg it | FARK | | Link

- "Concerns Mount Over Waiting Lists at Veterans Affairs Mental Health Centers: Marine Jonathan Schulze, who hanged himself Jan 16. His family says four days earlier, Schulze had called doctors at the veteran's hospital in St. Cloud, Minn., and told them he was suicidal. They told The Associated Press that he was turned away on account of a waiting list for beds at the hospital. As a rule, the VA does not put off veterans with suicidal tendencies, say VA officials." - FOX News, 2/13/07

- "Veterans Have Reduced Access to Mental Health Care at Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities, Investigation Finds: Veterans with mental illnesses on average had almost one-third fewer visits with mental health professionals in 2005 than they did in 1995, according to an investigation conducted by McClatchy Newspapers, McClatchy/Miami Herald reports.... almost 100 VA clinics 'provided virtually no mental health care in 2005,' McClatchy/Herald reports." - Kaiser, 2/12/07

- "There are two troubling reports, one out today, that point to serious problems affecting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' ability to treat military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.... Our veterans' mental and physical health is not something to play games with. They have served their country, and their country has an absolute obligation to return the favor." - Macon Telegraph, 2/14/07

- "Bush budget cuts veterans health care in 2009: The Bush administration's budget assumes cuts to veterans' health care two years from now -- even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system." - AP, 2/13/07

Get The Lead In
Posted by Dr. S in Politics As Usual, Corporate Statism, Fuck the Poor, Class War (February 19, 2007 at 3:20 pm)
Dont you wish you could say you were surprised that a government agency has abdicated its public safety responsibility?
In 2005, when government scientists tested 60 soft, vinyl lunchboxes, they found that one in five contained amounts of lead that medical experts consider unsafe — and several had more than 10 times hazardous levels.
But that’s not what they told the public.
Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a statement that they found “no instances of hazardous levels.” And they refused to release their actual test results, citing regulations that protect manufacturers from having their information released to the public.
That data was not made public until The Associated Press received a box of about 1,500 pages of lab reports, in-house e-mails and other records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed a year ago.

From The Mouths Of Troops
Posted by Maya in War Stories ( at 3:06 pm)
Want to know how to support the troops? Ask one:
I am a soldier serving at Fort Hood. I signed up in 2003 for a 5 year contract (I should ETS on 1/15/08). I joined at 32 years old to serve my country. I have been to Iraq twice already and was looking forward to start terminal leave in Dec of 2007.
Now after my unit returned we were told our company was being moved and that all the soldiers had to go to another company. This new company has not deployed in over a year so on paper it looks like we have been home longer.
I asked not to be sent here since I knew I would be stop lossed. Basically the answer was no and too bad.
You see they no longer care about soldiers serving honorably and doing right by us. What they are doing is finding a loophole to extend soldiers in their contracts for a year or more. This in turn makes it look like the army is not short of soldiers.
By the way, Mr. Jacoby, in case Roxanne’s title confused you for some reason, making this guy go back yet again is not support. What he deserves is a fucking break, not your armchair generalling.

6 of 7 Dismissed US Attorneys Had Positive Job Evaluations (Most investigating GOP corruption!)
Former U.S. attorney Bud Cummins, above, said officials crossed a line by publicly criticizing the performance of his well-regarded colleagues. Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, right, recently told a Senate panel that six U.S. attorneys had been dismissed for "performance-related" reasons. (By Danny Johnston -- Associated Press)

All but one of the U.S. attorneys recently fired by the Justice Department had positive job reviews before they were dismissed, but many ran into political trouble with Washington over issues ranging from immigration to the death penalty, according to prosecutors, congressional aides and others familiar with the cases.

JERUSALEM, Feb. 19 — The first peace talks in six years between the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians ended without any apparent concrete progress beyond an agreement to meet again. But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who convened the meeting, said she intended to keep pursuing the process for the rest of her time in office.

Ted Haggard's New Life Church held what they billed a 'Day of Hope' yesterday for the disgraced pastor.
At the Sunday service, Pastor Larry Stockstill, part of the church's board of overseers, told the 14,000-member congregation: "Concerning Ted and his family, we have done extensive fact-finding into his lifelong battle with a 'dark side' which he said in his confession letter has been a struggle for years. We have verified the reality of that struggle through numerous individuals who reported to us firsthand knowledge of everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships. These findings established a pattern of behavior that culminated in the final relationship in which Ted was, as a matter of grace, caught."
Or as a matter of humiliation, depending on how you look at it.

BREAKING: CIA "torture pilots" discovered
by ProgressiveSouth
Mon Feb 19, 2007 at 12:56:45 PM PST
Cross-posted at Facing South
NOTE: This is truly a breaking story, and one that must get told far and wide if we are to rein in U.S. torture policy. Please recommend and spread the word!
In a fast-moving story that's being followed by several news organizations (including reporters here at the Institute), the identities of three North Carolina pilots -- all operating under aliases -- linked to CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights have been discovered.
The new information, reported in yesterday's LA Times, comes at a time of growing outrage over the U.S. practice of whisking away terror suspects to countries with lax rules against torture. The discovery comes in the wake of German authorities announcing they are seeking three "ghost pilots", in addition to 10 other CIA operatives, for arrest in the kidnapping and abuse of Khaled Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent.

Show trials
by mcjoan
Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 12:26:31 PM PST
This was very much how it was done in the bad old days of the Soviet Union:
Secret evidence. Denial of habeas corpus. Evidence obtained by waterboarding. Indefinite detention. The litany of complaints about the legal treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is long, disturbing and by now familiar. Nonetheless, a new wave of shock and criticism greeted the Pentagon's announcement on February 11 that it was charging six Guantánamo detainees, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, with war crimes--and seeking the death penalty for all of them.
Now, as the murky, quasi-legal staging of the Bush Administration's military commissions unfolds, a key official has told The Nation that the trials are rigged from the start. According to Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo's military commissions, the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees in an attempt to foreclose the possibility of acquittal....
When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes--the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. "[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.
"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"
Haynes was a legal adviser to Rumsfeld and Gates. Bush nominated him to a federal bench position, but his nomination was actually blocked by Republican Lindsey Graham because of Haynes involvement in developing the Pentagon's torture policies. He was bad enough for Lindsay Graham to block him, and he's in charge of the Gitmo trials.
The Gitmo detainees have no hope of a fair trial, and even if they should be acquitted (against the apparent rules the administration has imposed) the government has already said they can be held indefinitely because they've already been deemed "enemy combatants." Those who survive the show trials will never breathe free air if the Bush administration has anything to say about it.

Inflation increases, again
by Chris in Paris · 2/20/2008 04:43:00 PM ET · Link

The GOP policies are crushing America. Inflation is now up to 4.3% compared to a year ago and with oil prices hitting record highs, it's not going to come down any time soon. Giving away free money to Wall Street isn't going to help either.

Lessons Learned
Fox News's Special Report yesterday:

GOLER: The president says it's better that African nations deal with African problems. White soldiers in Darfur, he believes, would be targets for all sides.
BUSH: A clear lesson I learned in the museum was that outside forces tend to divide people up inside their country and are unbelievably counterproductive.

The museum was the Rwandan genocide museum.

[Hunh!? As inarticulate as W is, this was one time he should have listened to his own words.]

TURLEY: Well, that’s part of the ridiculous element to all this. That we know there’s an NSA program; we know that it’s illegal. There’s been no showing nor is no showing possible that the President had the authority to order what he did. This is a crime, defined under federal law. So there’s no mystery to the program, there’s not a particular debate to its illegality. The only issue is standing: the ability of someone to come in and say, “I can show I was individually harmed.” And they can’t do that because the Courts won’t give them the information they need and Congress will do nothing to force out into the public the information needed to get this type of relief. And as you noted, the Congress is going further in the opposite direction; they’re trying to extinguish suits against telecom companies that have been successful.

From the New York Times:
HOUSTON — Crude oil closed above $100 a barrel for the first time Tuesday, vaulting through a longstanding psychological barrier amid persistent concern about whether production can keep up with rising global demand.
I do not think the Iraq debacle was about any one thing but I believe evidence points to oil as a primary thing it was about. Saddam was threatening to trade oil in euros instead of dollars, reinforcing a movement away from the US Dollar and that was an economic threat far more real than the illusory WMD. Additionally, I do not think for a minute that the US intended to go into Iraq to provide a reliable supply of oil but rather to (1) enrich the coffers of firms like Halliburton who are involved in the energy infrastructure and (2) reduce the oil supply in order to keep prices high.

As legal scholars and mystery fans all know, the big question is "cui bono?" (who profits?)

--the BB

Makes my flesh crawl

Screen cap from TPM

Why do I think of those "whose ideology justifies and condones the oppression and destruction of others"?

The banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt and incorporated in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. It describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

The concept of banality of evil is criticized in an article under British Psychology journal "The Psychologist". S. Alexander Haslam and Stephen D. Reicher argued that the crime of Eichmann cannot be committed by "ordinary people". Those people who commit such crime as "they actively identify with groups whose ideology justifies and condones the oppression and destruction of others". That is, "they" know that is a crime but simply finding a way to justify it. [sic]
--the BB

Nuttin' wrong

Sunrise hits the houses and mesa west of me

I did not post last evening or this morning. I was tired and went to bed early last night. Lights out at 9:30 PM. It was heaven.

Woke up with energy this morning. Obviously, I should do this more often.

The system for which I work on the help desk has been down for the past few days. Not a lot of calls and very little we can do to assist. But, in the waiting periods, I have worked my way through about 160 pages of my novel doing revisions. Huge progress.

Put another way, I have been living in another world entirely.
--the BB

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heart thread - 02/19/2009

This is lifted wholesale from OCICBW (though susankay's request also came via mail):

Dear friends of mine just told us that their 3 year old granddaughter has died of a seizure disorder. Compounding their grief is the fact that her 1 year old younger sister began having seizures this last fall. Please pray for Gary, Stacy, their daughter Jaime and Abagail who died and Annebelle who still lives.


From ANN:

Prayers for Chip whose 29 y/o son was found dead today at their home.



What a terrible morning. My vicar's mother in law died last night. Prayers please for his wife, Sue and the rest of the family.

Also, this morning, Ian, the 52 year old son of Doreen and Ray, friends of mine from church, died of cancer. Their life was full of enough pain before Ian's illness was diagnosed a few months ago. They are lovely people. Please pray for them.
Louise (awaiting biopsy results for a grown on her liver), Linda (multiple myeloma and hypothyroidism), and Erin (who successfully passed a dissolved kidney stone) are on the prayer list of our mission.

--the BB

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thursday Constitution Blogging - Article VI. Clause 2.

Glenn Greenwald really lays it out in Salon. We are bound by treaty to pursue prosecution for torture.
The U.S. really has bound itself to a treaty called the Convention Against Torture, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1994. When there are credible allegations that government officials have participated or been complicit in torture, that Convention really does compel all signatories -- in language as clear as can be devised -- to "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution" (Art. 7(1)). And the treaty explicitly bars the standard excuses that America's political class is currently offering for refusing to investigate and prosecute: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture" and "an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture" (Art. 2 (2-3)). By definition, then, the far less compelling excuses cited by Conason (a criminal probe would undermine bipartisanship and distract us from more important matters) are plainly barred as grounds for evading the Convention's obligations.

There is reasonable dispute about the scope of prosecutorial discretion permitted by the Convention, and there is also some lack of clarity about how many of these provisions were incorporated into domestic law when the Senate ratified the Convention with reservations. But what is absolutely clear beyond any doubt is that -- just as is true for any advance promises by the Obama DOJ not to investigate or prosecute -- issuing preemptive pardons to government torturers would be an unambiguous and blatant violation of our obligations under the Convention. There can't be any doubt about that. It just goes without saying that if the U.S. issued pardons or other forms of immunity to accused torturers (as the Military Commissions Act purported to do), that would be a clear violation of our obligation to "submit the [torture] case to [our] competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution." Those two acts -- the granting of immunity and submission for prosecution -- are opposites.

And yet those who advocate that we refrain from criminal investigations rarely even mention our obligations under the Convention. There isn't even a pretense of an effort to reconcile what they're advocating with the treaty obligations to which Ronald Reagan bound the U.S. in 1988. Do we now just explicitly consider ourselves immune from the treaties we signed? Does our political class now officially (rather than through its actions) consider treaties to be mere suggestions that we can violate at will without even pretending to have any justifications for doing so? Most of the time, our binding treaty obligations under the Convention -- as valid and binding as every other treaty -- don't even make it into the discussion about criminal investigations of Bush officials, let alone impose any limits on what we believe we can do.

From Article VI of the United States Constitution:
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
So let's drop all bullshit about preemptive passes or pardons. We are obligated to pursue this and excuses are simply not acceptable.

h/t to Susie Madrak at Crooks & Liars
--the BB

The buds are swelling

February in Albuquerque

I took this photo returning from lunch yesterday.
--the BB

Garden overview

Here are a couple of early morning shots of my back yard viewed from the bedroom window. I played with exposure, contrast, and saturation to make it look more like what I see and less washed out.

Lots of promise, but the color and foliage are still months away.
--the BB

653 - updated with photos

02/18/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Munden, 35, of Mesquite, Texas, died Feb. 16 at Forward Operating Base Tillman in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire.

02/18/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Sgt. Daniel L. Hansen, 24, of Tracy, Calif., died Feb. 14 while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Air Wing...

[Photos via IGTNT]

O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servants, and grant them an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
--The Book of Common Prayer (USA, 1979)