Saturday, September 12, 2009

830


09/12/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
1st Lt. Tyler E. Parten, 24, of Arkansas, died Sept. 10 in Konar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

09/12/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (3 of 3)
Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga...assigned to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan....died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province

09/12/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (2 of 3)
1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va...assigned to 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan....died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province

09/12/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (1 of 3)
Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga...assigned to 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan...died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province



A day late - updated with link

Pool photo by Chris Hondros (NYT)
The ceremony at the World Trade Center site on Friday,
eight years after the terrorist attack.

Bill in Portland, Maine, gives us "Questions Worth Re-Asking:"
Why did the president sit in that Florida classroom for several minutes after being told "America is under attack"?

Why did Rudy Giuliani put the anti-terrorism command center in the World Trade Center against the advice of experts who knew better?

Could there be any greater examples of heroism than the passengers who fought back on Flight 93, the rescue teams at the Pentagon, or the NYPD and NYFD responders who ran into the towers without hesitation because "It's my job"?

Father Mychal Judge: Saint...or Supersaint?
-
Why did firefighters have faulty radios instead of dependable ones, Mr. Giuliani?

And many others you can read here.


Yesterday was too busy and too long for me to post a decent memorial to that day.

Somewhere, God willing, I have a CD with my photos from St Petersburg, September 2001, and I will share them, but I have not seen it for a very long time. Here are my memories.

We were on our first visit to Rusia, seeing the sights of the imperial city. As we gathered for dinner two sisters came downstairs and informed the rest of us that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. This seemed so bizarre that we asked if it was some small private plane gone off course. No, they said, an airliner. In horror and disbelief we had a very subdued supper.

The last thing we would want to do when visiting a foreign city is spend time glued to the tube but everyone rushed back to their rooms. Seeing a disaster movie's special effects while reason says "this is real, not Hollywood," was so disorienting. The scope of it all was difficult to fathom. We were eight time zones ahead of New York so this went into the late hours for us. When CNN re-ran the same material, I switched to BBC. When both were endless loops, I began bouncing around in French, Spanish, and Italian channels where I could understand most of what they said. Exhausted with horror we went to bed.

Before we left the room the next morning we remembered that our new step-brother-in-law, Mike, was supposed to be at the WTC. We called home. Sister-in-law said that surely father-in-law would have told us. My ex reminded her that father-in-law did not tell us for months that his sister had died and asked for some follow up.

The Russian people were amazing. The compassion and grace they showed in our remaining days touched us deeply. Strangers would come up and offer their condolences. Our tour guide changed our plans that day so we could stop by the American Consulate. We visited a large produce market, stopped at a flower shop for flowers, then parked a street away from the consulate, walked through a school playground to get to the next street over, which was blocked to traffic, and approached. Expat Americans and Russians were gathered, laying flowers, standing in silence, weeping, praying, holding each other. Guards were everywhere on the assumption that any US outpost was a target.

I am no fan of Vladimir Putin as he appears to be an unreconstructured lover of permanent power. Even so, he was the first world leader to call the White House and express sympathy. By his order all the flags in Russia were at half mast. As our coach left the hotel that morning I saw the white-blue-and-red at half mast over the Winter Palace (Hermitage) and wept. Not one but five minutes of silence were called for at noon that day. We were, at that point, in the Russian Museum, working our way through the amazing exhibits with school children ahead of and behind us. Noon came and and complete silence fell. Long, total silence. The only sound was one American in our group who was clueless and kept asking questions of our guide who only nodded in response.

When we returned to the hotel there was a message on the phone in our room. The first four words are engraved on my memory. "Bill, Bob, Mike's OK." It was brother-in-law Bob telling us all we really needed to know. He elaborated a bit. We later learned from our stepmom that Mike was in the second tower. Folks had been drilled since the bombing back in 1993 (I think that was the year). Feeling the neighboring impact they immediately began to evacuate. They took the elevator part way then the stairs. He emerged from the building and walked straight to his hotel and called home. I have never asked him about it. I know he fled amid falling bodies.

The fact that we had no idea how or when we would get home was disorienting but chump change compared the the awful reality, the stunned grief, the global uncertainty. Planes were not flying in the United States (if we ignore the one taking the bin Ladens and other Saudis out of the United States and why have we NEVER been given a good explanation of that one?). Our visas expired on Saturday so we had to leave Russia.

The first leg of our return occurred on schedule. We flew from Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg to Helsinki. The original plan was to change planes, fly to JFK, then to LAX. Instead the travel agency that arranged this tour put us up in a hotel in Helsinki for two nights until we could all fly back to the States.

There was not much security in Pulkovo. There was overwhelming security in Helsinki. We went through metal detectors three times. If you did not look northern European your bags were examined (profiling of the most blatant sort). Dogs went by repeatedly. The airport was crawling with armed police and military. In the chaos that greeted us at JFK there was plenty of security but not as much as in Finland. We cheered when we touched down on US soil.

The return involved booking each leg when you got there. It was beginning to look as though we would not get the next connecting flight as a very inefficient and, yes I will say it, incompetent doofus fumbled. Finally one of the Finnair folks, having finished with his own passengers, stepped over and almost immediately got us on our flight to Los Angeles. More security. The wand was going off by my shirt pocket. I told the security lady that I had a piercing there. She groped me to verify it then let me through. (It is long gone.) Then I realized it was not that at all but the little foil-lined packet with a towelette that I had from the previous flight.

We finally got to LAX and forked over for a taxi to take us to my in-law's home. It was the wee hours of the morning and I don't recall how long we slept and how quickly we returned to the Bay Area where we lived.

Special prayers and sharing time had been arranged at St Cuthbert's while I was still in transit. (Thank you, Pamela.) I went through the phone book, looking for the nearest Mosque to arrange for some dialogue and diffusing of ethnic and religious prejudice. The world needed, and still needs, healing. The entire nation was grieving, processing fear, making choices on how to respond.

And the stories of heroism, tragedy, and dislocation kept unfolding.

I think I am grateful to have been so far away in another country (the land of the enemy of my childhood). Distance was a small cushion. We received support from total strangers, people who could not speak English, people who had been raised to think of us as the enemy, people who lived in the city besieged by Germans in WWII. Responses were personal, heartfelt, and free of agenda but they reminded me of the larger human family, of the mortality we all share and the compassion of which we are all capable.


Ultimately, there are no words - for that day or for the sorrows we humans inflict upon one another. I will close with this (which was posted by Elizabeth Kaeton).

Leonard Slatkin Conducts the BBC Orchestra on September 15 2001 in honor of those who lost their lives a few days prior. (Use this link if embed is not working.) Samuel Barber's Adagio:



--the BB

Friday, September 11, 2009

If you are in New Mexico....


Go see Vortex Theatre's production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Seriously.

It's only playing weekends through October 4.

I just came home from seeing it tonight.

If you don't live in New Mexico you may not know that New Mexicans tend to give standing ovations for damn near everything. A perfectly respectable but in no way stunning performance of a symphony, opera, play, or recital brings them to their feet. I live here and am a citizen of New Mexico and happy to be one, but I will always be a Californian, OK? I don't get it. This is one of those things that reminds me I am not from here.

So I resist this behavior. I will happily applaud to show my appreciation of a performance but if I am going to stand they bloody well better earn it. I need to be thrilled, moved, exalted... something out of the ordinary to want to rise and show special recognition.

Tonight I could hardly wait to leap to my feet when the play was over. I gushed to some of the Vortex staff and tried not to hold up the director too long to say how fine it was.

So, if you like theatre, if you like Albee, if you like good acting... go see this production.

I am hardly a casual observer. The movie was a scandal when it came out in 1966 and my mother was horrified that I took a nice girl to see it. (We were halfway through college at the time.) You need to have a feel for the bland "niceness" of the 50's to appreciate how much buzz there was over this film with its occasional vulgar language and adult topics- unbelievably tame by today's standards. So it was part of the liberating challenge the 60's gave to my parent's generation. It was powerful, passionate, horrifying, gut-wrenching, and finally tender when one did not expect it.

Though no details remain in my mind there is little doubt that I scoured the bookstores immediately, obtained a copy of the play, and read it. And re-read it. Lines from the play are burned into my memory like phrases from Shakespeare. When George or Martha began a number of lines tonight I could finish them in my mind. ("I am the Earth Mother and you're all flops.") After 43 years, mind you. I may have watched the movie a second time, though I am quite unsure. I have never seen a live performance of the play.

My water-damaged copy of the play (Pocket Books, 75¢) is foxed at the bottom, has portions of the covers ripped off, and has not yellowed but browned, brittle pages. There are underlinings in what was then called peacock blue ink. I read most of the first act before going tonight.

When a play has been made not only into a movie but a notorious, famous, well-received movie - with Taylor and Burton, no less - it is a challenge to actors, directors, and audiences to produce and experience the play outside the framework of the image and memory in everyone's head. It is a mistake to reproduce the film on stage but how does one give it independent life?

I am delighted to say the actors in this production inhabited the play in their own manner, so that one heard Albee's George and Martha and Peter Shea Kierst's George and Debi Kierst's Martha but not reproductions of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. I now have fresh images of Martha and George to carry in my head, not to mention the joy of having watched them perform just feet away from me.

They were just amazing: forces of nature, two people engaged in a deadly earnest dance/game of mutual assault with incomprehensible ties under it all. I say "incomprehensible" unless one can appreciate the complexities of life and of human character and interaction. I was impressed as a callow youth but this is really a play for people who have been through the wringer more than once.

Debi and Peter could shift, convincingly, from raw vulnerability to all-out attack. Their Martha and George are people one is not easily inclined to like but one cannot turn away from. The viewer is horrified, entranced, caught up, curious (no matter how well one knows the work).

The program notes that Shakespeare is the first love of Lori Stewart, the director. There was much about this that resembled an excellent Shakespearean production. You know the story, you vaguely remember many of the lines, the characters are old friends (old enemies? old acquaintances?) yet one still wants to see what happens and how it happens. The tale has many layers, the language is rich, and the experience is rewarding time and time again.

Eli Browning as the physical, ambitious Nick and Clara Boling as Honey, Nick's mouse, I mean, spouse, carried out their roles very well also. Eli captures the large (yes, people defer to tall persons in this world), good-looking (ditto) type hoping for preferment and willing to play games to get it. Externally he has it all, but we realize over the course of the evening how trapped and desperate he has let himself become. Clara expresses the perpetually childish, whiny, timid type that annoys the hell out of all the rest of us and reveals her own terrors to become, at last, someone we begin to understand and feel compassion for - even if the role of Honey is one I suspect everyone wants to slap at some point.

Four tragically broken characters, caught in games - in roles - they don't know how to break out of, driven to carry out το παναρχαιο δραμα (the ancient primal drama, to borrow a phrase from Greek poet George Seferis). It is like a Greek tragedy in which, driven by their particular fate, each performs the sacrificial rites that necessity demands while we watch on in horror, all the way to the exorcism, the final sacrifice, and some catharsis that allows us to leave the theatre and go on living with ourselves.

I have one cavil. It is an extremely minor yet integral part of the play. George reads from the Latin Office of the Dead. It was painful to hear, the Latin Consultant notwithstanding. I would assume George, an academic in the history department, would read Latin out loud, particularly Church Latin, in one of three modes: whatever passes for classical Latin, wine country Church Latin, or beer country Church Latin. I have sung in choirs where we sang Latin texts with music by Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven the way Germans pronounce Church Latin and music composed by Verdi, Vivaldi, of Josquin the way Italians pronounce Church Latin. The difference shows in how "c" or "g" sounds when followed by e, i, or ae. Germans use "ts" for such a "c" and a hard "g." Italians use "ch" (as in church) for such a "c" and soft g (as in George) for such a "g." Both pronounce "ae" to rhyme with "day." When I was taking Latin in high school we always used a hard k and hard g sound for c and g and "ae" rhymed with "high." When George was reading I heard a combination of sounds that just seemed weird. And, as I said, painful. I suggest someone who sings Church Latin all the time or an Italian professor help soften this out. THAT is my only gripe, but I'm putting it out there because I was a language major and my companions both saw me wince tonight.

Another bit of praise I must heap on this ensemble: I was so caught up that most of the time I unconsciously set aside awareness that I was observing a performance and felt that I was watching not this actor or that but THIS Martha and THIS George, THIS Honey and THIS Nick.

So.

Awesome.

Go see it.

Vortex tickets are dirt cheap (especially if one is used to buying season tickets in the San Francisco Bay Area with the annual bribe, I mean donation). This is not just a bargain but a helluva experience. Treat yourself.

The Vortex Theatre
2004½ Central Avenue SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-247-8600

--the BB

Heart thread - 09/11/2009 - updated


I came home this evening to a note from Mother Rhonda asking our prayers for Mother Sandra and her niece's family:
Dear All,

I just talked with Mother Sandra, and she is at Presbyterian Hospital on the westside being evaluated for surgery. If the doctors agree to go ahead with the surgery, she will be moved to Presbyterian downtown for the procedure. Cheri and Fr. Brian Winter are with her now, and I will go to wherever she is this evening. She fell at home on Wednesday, and the situation has gotten worse since then. She asked for our prayers . . . and I do not have the e-list of the Intercessory Prayer Guild that she keeps. Therefore, will you please send this request to any others you can think of....

In addition, Mother Sandra's niece, Hilary, lost her baby yesterday. Mother Sandra said they are aware of our prayers and ask you to continue to offer them for that dear family at this time of loss.

May the grace, wisdom, and peace of God surround Mother Sandra, her niece's family, and all those who love and care for them.

I will update you as I know more.

In Christ,
Rhonda
UPDATE:
Dear Friends in Christ,

Mother Sandra is being well-cared-for and, in her words, "feeling safe" with the care she is receiving. She is in Intensive Care receiving antiobiotics for a severe infection, which had weakened her and was the cause for the fall earlier in the week. No surgery is scheduled after all. Her nephew Christopher is flying in from Fort Worth this morning, and, as you know, she adores him and is delighted he will be here.

For this weekend, she has several close friends and clergy who are doing "shifts" to be sure she and Christopher are not alone. And, as you would expect, she asked me to tell you that she feels your prayers and asks that you continue them -- but, please, no visitors or calls at this time.

If here is any change, I will let you know as soon as possible.

May our Savior's healing power and love abundantly embrace Mother Sandra now and always.

In Him,
Rhonda



--the BB

Thursday, September 10, 2009

822


09/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty (3 of 3)
1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va...assigned to 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan...died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan

09/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty (2 of 3)
Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga...assigned to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan...died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan

09/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty (1 of 3)
Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga...assigned to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan...died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan

09/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Youvert Loney, 28, of Pohnpei, Micronesia, died Sept. 5 in Abad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle using small arms and recoilless rifle fires. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

09/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Petty Officer 3rd Class James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif., died Sept. 8 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. He was assigned to an embedded training team with Combined Security Tranisiton Command in Afghanistan.


"I am, George. I am."


Some friends and I are going to catch "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the Vortex tomorrow evening. Woohoo!

I saw the 1966 movie of it and fell in love with the play. I immediately bought a paperback copy and read and reread it. Tonight I dug out the copy, one of the many books of plays that were damaged when there was flooding in the storage locker where many of my books resided before moving here. The bottom is foxed but I can turn the yellowed pages and reread it. Which is what I am just about to do.

This should be fascinating. What will this slice of 1960s academia liberally sprinkled with fear and loathing feel like now? Will this be visiting an old friend? A fresh revelation? A new disappointment? Who knows.

I love live, local, intimate theatre.

--the BB

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Now the probing dark eyes looked on Ušni’s face but no longer on the world


Across the river and not far from the great oak forest P’s slayer also wept. He had brought H’s body to the princess and the duke. H. of U., the noble hostage and brave fighter, had been a romantic figure to the young F. of V. They both intended to be brothers in glory, fighting for the princess and Fjorn. They had sworn eternal friendship and sealed it in blood, promising to tell their children and grandchildren about each other’s exploits. But H. would have no wife, no children, no grandchildren. F. had lost his friend.

While F., the muscle-bound younger brother of a character in the first two books, is four years into his manhood he is still only nineteen years old. To him this journey to fight with and for friends is a grand adventure. He formed a bond with a somewhat older but still young man who shared his romantic view of the glory of fighting. They were united in a cause and eager to make names for themselves.

We come to the day when harsh reality intrudes, when the former hostage and son of the late Lord Marshall of the principality engages a key player in the tale and is slain. F. avenges the friend he looks up to by killing his hero's killer. With a sword thrust through the back. Hardly the "honorable" way to kill, though immediately effective. F. takes his fallen oath-brother back to the camp, overcome with grief and shame.

Yes, I got soppy writing this scene. Fran can testify I was soppy writing an earlier scene between the princess and H. (back when we were at Doxy's wedding weekend).

Still, three events in one day have turned the tide in the battle for the throne. A lot of twists and turns to pursue before a new Black Lion sits on that throne and is acclaimed.

Of course it's an anti-war story, sillies.

Sweet dreams, my winsome wolverines!

--the BB

Two snaps up




h/t to Hoffmania

--the BB

Teh speech

The President:
Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.


The BB:
And about time someone said so. I loved the "don't be pulling this shit with me" tone tonight.


The President:
I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it.



The BB:
About fucking time.

Who's got 'splainin' to do?


Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon writes:
The people who value human lives over corporate profits aren’t the ones who should be required to explain ourselves. Our argument is sound. We believe all people are equal, and that the rich’s wallets are therefore not more important than your lives. We’re the ones who stick by the principles of our founding documents, and we’re the ones who steadfastly maintain that human life is valuable, even if the human holding it isn’t a rich insurance company executive.

It’s the people who are putting corporate profits ahead of human lives who need to explain themselves. They’re the ones who should be asked why corporate profits count more than lives. They’re the ones who should be asked why working class citizens should be forced to decide between paying for an insurance bill or paying their rent in order to make sure that no insurance company executive goes without a fresh supply of yachts and fancy cars. They should be forced to explain why insurance company executive yachts count more than your ability to avoid homelessness, or your ability to have a perfectly treatable illness actually treated. (If you think that laws against rescission will stop the practice, keep kidding yourself. The fines will be low enough to count as the cost of doing business.) Instead of asking why “the left” is so unreasonable, let’s start asking why everyone else thinks human lives count less than rich people’s dollars.

h/t to Digby for this

4343


September 04, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Staff Sgt. Todd W. Selge, 25, of Burnsville, Minn.; and
Spc. Jordan M. Shay, 22, of Salisbury, Mass.
They died Sept. 3 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. The soldiers were assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
The incident is under investigation.

September 09, 2009
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty
1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton, 24, of Monroe Ga., died Sept. 8 near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive devise. He was assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

822



September 02, 2009
Dod Identifies Army Casualties
Spc. Jonathan D. Welch, 19, of Yorba Linda, Calif.
Pfc. Jordan M. Brochu, 20, of Cumberland, Maine.
They died Aug. 31 in Shuyene Sufia, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

September 02, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Tyler R. Walshe, 21, of Shasta Calif., died Aug. 31 in southern Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

September 04, 2009
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Petty Officer 3rd Class Benjamin P. Castiglione, 21, of Howell, Mich., died Sept. 3 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Battalion.

September 05, 2009
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Baltazar Jr., 19, of San Antonio, Texas, died Sept. 3 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

September 06, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
2nd Lt. Darryn D. Andrews, 34, of Dallas, Texas, died Sept. 4 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device and a rocket-propelled grenade. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

September 07, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Randy M. Haney, 27, of Orlando, Fla., died Sept. 6 in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires. He was assigned to the 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

September 08, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Michael C. Murphrey, 25, of Snyder, Texas, died Sept. 6 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

September 09, 2009
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Capt. Joshua S. Meadows, 30, of Bastrop, Texas, died Sept. 5 while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Ich habe es gestohlen


This was at OCICBW this morning.

MEANWHILE, IN A BUNKER
DEEP BENEATH THE
FOX NETWORK NEWSROOM




Now, y'all know about Godwin's law, don't you?
Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.
--Wikipedia
But sometimes you just gotta.

--the BB

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fired up?


I am definitely fired up over health care, as you can tell by this evening's posts, and not a few leading up to them.

I am fired up over the shift toward autumn. I know it's technically almost two weeks away, but existentially it has clearly begun. The days and nights are cooler, leaves are beginning to fall.

I am fired up over the turning points in the war I narrate. Two really big events in one fictional day: it is D-Day in the battle for the Lion Throne.

These siblings are the arch-villains of my book. Their raw lust for power really drives the tale's action. She is like a Lady Macbeth only egging on a brother instead of a husband. I have been waiting a long time to send her to Ušni's hall.
P’s unconscious form had been quickly lashed to her steed so she was semi-upright, which kept her from drowning as the warhorses negotiated the river. T. held the lead and begged the stars to save her.
There will be lamentation on both sides of the river this night.

Sweet dreams, my gallivanting goldfinches!

--the BB

I like where the Senate Finance Committee comes out in this

An uninsured father takes on the health insurance industry... and does it well. Share this!



h/t Malcolm+

--the BB

Former VP of Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint authors Max Baucus' health care plan


I know, you're shocked.

Anyway, now we know.

Read about it here.
All this time I've been calling Max Tax health care Max Baucus' health care plan.

But, as William Ockham points out, it's actually Liz Fowler's health care plan (if you open the document and look under document properties, it lists her as author). At one level, it's not surprising that Bad Max's Senior Counsel would have authored the Max Tax plan.

...

What neither Politico nor Bad Max himself want you to know, though, is that in the two years before she came back to the Senate to help Max craft the Max Tax plan, she worked as VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint.
Thank you William Ockham and Marcy Wheeler!

Marcy also discusses the evil incentives in the Max Tax plan.

It's really bad. And being touted.

I am learning to loathe Max Baucus and he was to me just a vague name a year ago.

Cue the chorus of priests in Jesus Christ Superstar: "he is dangerous."
--the BB

And the horse you rode in on, Clarence! - updated

Sen. Chambliss: Obama Better Show 'Humility' In Speech To Congress

What a miserable little troll. He is one truly disgusting human being (this is a gunnysack rantlet for all the shit he's uttered in his sick, twisted career).

Clarence is his first name, btw.

The following tidbit is from Wikipedia.
In 2008, he was named one of 10 worst congressmen by Esquire Magazine, which described the competition as "staggering."
Click on Wikipedia above to read about the 2002 race, a low point in American politics.

This is the man lecturing the President on humility.

As for health care, Clarence is a bit sloppy. Check out the crap he tried to pull on August 12. As Bernita writes at Blog for Democracy:
As long as Saxby follows the Republican talking points he will continue his mission of misinforming Georgia voters who voted for him to be their voice in government. I am so not shocked - Saxby reaps a lot from his friends in the health care industry. He will take care of their interests before Georgia voters. Saxby on Health Care Reform. Epic Fail.

--the BB

My letter to Senator Jeff Bingaman


Here is Senator Jeff Bingaman's further information on Public Option (from his website):
How does the "public option" fit into health care reform?

The Need for a Public Option

One key element of the debate we’ve been having is whether to create a so-called “public option” – a health care plan available to all Americans that ensures that there is at least one health insurance option for Americans that is affordable and would focus exclusively on providing meaningful care, not turning a profit. With my strong support, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a bill which contains a robust public option described below:

  • Run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Secretary of HHS would have the authority to negotiate provider payment rates that are no more than the local average private rates, which would help control costs. The government would provide funding for the first three months of the plan in order to get it up and running and make the public option available in all parts of the country. The funding would be repaid once the public option began operating.
  • Public option would be one of the Gateway choices. The public option would be available to all Americans alongside private insurance options within the newly established health insurance “Gateways.” .
  • States would help tailor a public plan to their needs. Each state would create an Advisory Council to recommend strategies for quality improvement and affordability. This would allow states to implement strategies that would provide efficient, affordable care to their residents.
  • Participation would be purely voluntary; Americans would have the choice of participating in the public option but there would be no obligation to do so.

Good stuff. I like reading it.

Then I read this from Ryan Grim on HuffPo:
The committee chairman, Max Baucus, released a framework of his proposal for the group to discuss Tuesday. The three Republicans declined either to endorse or reject the proposal on their way into the meeting.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said that there was much in the proposal that he could go along with but that he wasn't sure where his Republican counterparts stood. "I don't know anything about their position," he said.
Bingaman, however, has never been the reluctant negotiator. The third Democrat, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), declined to tell a reporter if he could support the Baucus proposal.

Snowe said much of the negotiations will focus on costs.
[Emphasis mine.]

Negotiation is an important and valuable skill. Unfortunately, recent years have taught us that negotiating with Republicans in Congress is nothing more than giving away the store and they STILL won't give anything significant in return - certainly not their support.

I also don't want any part of the Max Baucus plan these folks are pondering. Nothing I have read about it sounds like good news.

The WSJ - a notoriously non-progressive source - says today:
[Obama's] support for the public plan sets up a split with the Senate Finance Committee, which has been drafting the health bill that has been seen as the only hope of winning bipartisan support for a health overhaul in Congress. Over the weekend, the committee's chairman, Montana Democrat Max Baucus, distributed a draft of his health proposal that leaves out the public plan in order to win support from a small group of Republicans. Mr. Baucus's plan costs less than $900 billion over 10 years and would expand insurance coverage to tens of millions of Americans. (Read the health proposal here.)
"The only hope of winning bipartisan support for a health overhaul in Congress"? My friends, there is no hope of winning bipartisan support for anything that will meaningfully overhaul health in this nation. Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

So they are considering sacrificing the health and economic well being of the American People "to win support from a small group of Republicans." Hey, why not toss in thirty pieces of silver while you're at it?

The NYT reported on August 26 that:
At a town hall meeting, Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, arguably the most liberal of the Democrats in the group, said he would back the use of a procedural tactic called reconciliation that would allow Senate leaders to move a health bill forward with a simple majority, instead of 60 votes.

“It would be my preference to come up with something we could get some bipartisan support for and try to move ahead with that,” Mr. Bingaman said at the meeting, on Monday in Albuquerque. But he left the door open to a reconciliation bill. “If we are unable to do it any other way, that is an option,” he said. “It is a very difficult option to get implemented, but clearly I would support that if that’s the only way” to enact a measure, he added.
On September 4, prior to the unveiling of the Baucus proposal, the NYT reported:
Two members of the group of six, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, and Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, have been pushing for a more generous package of benefits, with a higher “actuarial value.” The other Republicans have been pushing for a package that would be more affordable to consumers.
Well, what can I say? I say it's spinach and to hell with it.*

Mike Lux at AlterNet today writes:
The Baucus mark-up only adds to this conventional wisdom, of course. But keep in mind that Senate Finance is almost without question the most conservative committee in either house of Congress right now. Its chair, Max Baucus, is in the top five Democrats in terms of conservatism, and has been historically very close to big business and the ranking Republican on the committee (Grassley). He was happy to cut the deal with Grassley in 2001, against the wishes of the vast majority of the Democratic caucus, for the massive Bush tax cut for the rich that was the main cause of our massive federal deficit over the last few years. Other key committee Democrats like Conrad and Bingaman, of the Gang of Six fame, aren't exactly liberally stalwarts either.

[Emphasis mine]

In his latest newsletter, Senator Bingaman writes:
Ongoing health care reform negotiations have moved from Congressional debates in Washington to discussions in neighborhoods, districts, and town halls across the country. I held four town halls across the state in recent weeks to speak with New Mexicans and listen to concerns and priorities about potential legislation; in turn, I had the opportunity to discuss why I am fighting for reform. Watch footage of the New Mexico First town hall in Albuquerque, or listen to my in-depth interview on health care reform with Dr. Barry Ramo of KOAT News. I remain concerned about many of the misconceptions about the proposals for health care reform. The White House provides a good resource that debunks many of these harmful rumors.
And here is my letter tonight:
Dear Senator Bingaman:

We are now in the very hard work stages on health care reform. I imagine negotiating with some of your colleagues on the Finance Committee is arduous and often frustrating. I applaud you for hanging in there.

As I read these words in the Wall Street Journal today my flesh crawled:

"Over the weekend, the committee's chairman, Montana Democrat Max Baucus, distributed a draft of his health proposal that leaves out the public plan in order to win support from a small group of Republicans."

To my eyes that sounds like sacrificing the health and economic well being of the American People for a few Republican votes.

Has bipartisanship become some golden calf, some Molech to whom we will sacrifice our children?

My message to you is DON'T SACRIFICE THE PUBLIC OPTION. Collegiality is not worth it. For all the brilliant technology and dedicated professionals in this nation health care in the United States is a disgrace. We do not score well on life expectancy, infant mortality, and several other key indicia yet we spend more than any industrial nation. Over sixty per cent of our bankruptcies are related to medical costs. This is simply not acceptable. We need to do better. We must do better.

I beg you to stand firm and not merely support the public option but FIGHT for it.

I have written to you about this before but I cannot remain silent when so much is at stake.

Thank you.

Well, folks, that's all three letters. Have you contacted your elected representatives about health care lately?

--the BB

*I actually like fresh or lightly cooked spinach. This is an old aphorism and the younger among you need not worry if it rings no bells.

My letter to Sen. Tom Udall - updated to add header


Here is what my junior Senator, Tom Udall, has on his website:
Health Care
To provide every American with quality health care, control skyrocketing costs, and ensure patients have choices, we need to dramatically improve our health care system. Congress has already passed legislation to ensure that 11 million children have health insurance. We have also begun the process of reforming the health care system to cover every American man, woman and child. America deserves a health care system that reflects the ingenuity and compassion of the American people. President Obama has pledged to push for broad health care reform, and I will work with him and my colleagues in the U. S. Senate to enact a plan that increases coverage, improves quality of care, reduces costs, and refocuses our system on preventing illness and promoting wellness.
OK, Tom is a junior senator just getting his feet wet. Still, I would like something more forceful.

Here is what I wrote to him tonight.
Dear Senator Udall:

I was happy to support you and vote for you last fall and hope the first year in the Senate has not been too traumatic.

I appreciate your comments: "America deserves a health care system that reflects the ingenuity and compassion of the American people. President Obama has pledged to push for broad health care reform, and I will work with him and my colleagues in the U. S. Senate to enact a plan that increases coverage, improves quality of care, reduces costs, and refocuses our system on preventing illness and promoting wellness."

I would love to hear more specifics and am more than happy to share with you what I wish to see in health care reform.

First and foremost, I believe that without a strong public option there will be no leverage to change how health care is done in this nation, nothing that will pressure the insurance companies to focus more on the collective well being and less on their usurious profits. I would like to see you push for a strong public option. Without it I think any reform is mere window dressing.

Additionally, I hope you are pushing for legislating an end to rescission, to denial based on pre-existing conditions, and to caps that leave people with catastrophic illness bankrupt.

Co-ops are not a sufficient substitute for a public option.

Thank you for your service. Please fight for the People.


--the BB

I replied to my Congressman's letter. - Updated


Here is part of what he said:
Most significantly, I hosted a Health Care Town Hall meeting on Aug. 22nd. A thousand constituents attended the meeting and many more watched online. This forum, along with one-on-one conversations with voters across the district, highlighted that the single most important topic on people’s minds is health care. You can watch the forum online by clicking here.


I believe the time to reform our health insurance system is now.

Today, I’m heading back to Washington to fight even harder for health care reform that:

• Guarantees choice in health insurance – including a robust public option;
• Covers all Americans to control health care costs; and
• Ends immoral practices such as denying patients coverage due to pre-existing conditions or dropping your coverage when you get sick.
[My coverage of the town hall meeting is here.]

I responded to his campaign staff first (a chap I know from church). The critical lines:
Anyway, I want to thank Martin for the stance he takes in the e-mail that just went out. I like what I read.

I would LOVE for him to join those pledging no public option = no vote. Any chance he can go that far?
This is what I wrote to his formal congressional site:

Dear Congressman Heinrich:

I appreciate what I read in the e-mail you sent out today. I am glad you are fighting for us in Washington.

I especially, and vigorously, support you in pushing for a strong public option in health care.

May I ask if you will join the Progressive Caucus in pledging not to vote for a bill that lacks a strong public option?

I realize this is a lot to ask someone from NM01 but it is what I very much want to see.

Again, my thanks for your service.
Y'all cannot imagine how glad I am we elected him to replace Bush-enabling Heather Wilson. Martin is the first Dem to represent NM01. Some of you will remember me touting my "homeboy" back during the election season last year.

Today is the day Jane R is urging us all to write to our elected officials about health care. I hope you have done or will do before the evening is over.

1 down, 2 to go.

UPDATE:
Martin has an August 9 op-ed piece at the Albuquerque Journal.
--the BB

Monday, September 07, 2009

Finding common cause


The Count of Šork and the Baron of Nurvat are both loyal to the principality, but each in his own way. Šork is a Regent and his three-year-old granddaughter is the presumptive heir to the throne. He has no way of knowing that his daughter has been murdered and his granddaughter is missing. Nurvat supports the claimant from the eastern valley.

Their forces meet, unexpectedly. Both are there to prevent the claimant from the northern plains from capturing the capital and taking the throne. A far larger force is engaged with the northerners at the moment. What shall these two do?

Join forces against the northerners, of course. I suddenly thought of shifting alliances on the globe... and the game of Risk.

The unlikely allies ride downriver to capture the ford and cut the northerners off. I pass over that clash with few words. There is violence enough in this war; I don't have to describe all of it.


So, a little bit of progress in telling the tale this weekend. One chapter ended and another begun. I will take it. I am tired.

Methinks a mere 400mg of ibuprofen will suffice for tonight, along with the antibiotic to clean up after that abscess. Back to work tomorrow.

I hope you all had a good, and safe, Labor Day weekend.

Sweet dreams, my rasty ridgebacks!

--the BB

I hardly ever cook

And the number of times I entertain per year can be counted on one hand. But when I do, life can be very good. Supper tonight was lovely.

Leftover barbecued ribs, potato salad, and fresh spinach lightly cooked in garlic-infused olive oil with minced red onion, red pepper flakes, sea salt, butter, and a splash of white balsamic.

Yes, blueberry crisp with a scoop of H-D.

Life is good this weekend. Very good.

What's more, there are two more ribs left and three days' worth of all the other stuff. Leftovers, here I come!

--the BB

For all who work, all who lack work, all the overworked, and the work addicted


There are some great posts out there today in honor of Labor Day, so I am not going to write my own blurb. Check them out.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment cites Carl Sandburg. He also provides a helpful graph for his discussion of kleptocracy.


The Rude Pundit quotes Eugene Debs to remind us all what real Socialists sound like.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars writes "If You Have A Paid Holiday Today, Thank A Union Member."

Sister Ellie quotes Abraham Lincoln (very impressive quotes, too).

Grandmère Mimi has a series of fine aphorisms, a poster, and two prayers.

Margaret has an awesome post.
We have Labor Day to remember those who literally built this nation.... and literally gave their lives....
The Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--the BB

Your chance to preview the partisan indoctrination slated for tomorrow


As SusanG says:
Check beneath the fold[this link]--if you dare--to read the entire Socialist School Indoctrination Manifesto in full.

Snerk.

--the BB

Photo of Communists on parade in St Petersburg, Russia, November 2004. The banner proclaims "Regional Communist Party." Onlookers were generally amused and dismissive, though polite. One local, mistaking me for someone who spoke Russian, made a comment about nostalgia. I see a parallel between Russians who want the Party back in power and Americans who miss "their" (white, patriarchal, Christianist, fantasy) America and want it back.

For firefighters, those killed, those endangered, for healing of the land


Michael Bamberger, priest and firefighter, sent an email to Susan Russell. I reproduce here what she posted.
It is about 155,000 acres and at 44% containment – the biggest fire in Los Angeles County in recorded history. Every major watershed in the Los Angeles basin has been burned out. The most visited National Forest available to an urban population in the United States will be unavailable for who knows how long, Two firefighters have died and dozens have been injured. Civilian injuries have been limited, thankfully, and most were due to people refusing to evacuate
as advised. 64 homes and several businesses have been lost. It will take years for us to calculate the losses, and centuries for the forest to recover.

And we’re not “out of the woods” yet. There is still an awful lot of open “line” and some of the most critical is right above Sierra Madre. The next few days will be critical. We need favorable winds, lower temperatures and higher humidities. And a lot of hard work by the ground-pounder firefighters, dozers and aircraft.

As Susan says: "(But do keep the prayers coming this way!)"

O God, we remember before you those who place their lives in danger for the sake of others. Watch over them day and night and grant us grateful hearts that we may uphold them in word and deed.


--the BB

I dreamed a dream


And it wasn't about being on Britain's Got Talent. But it was a doozy.

Just before waking up this morning I dreamed that I had signed up to teach one of those continuing education classes on the waterways of Russia. About which I know nothing. And within an hour over a dozen people had signed up for it. Go figure.

Good morning, chipmunks! May your dreams all be benign.

--the BB

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Heart thread - 09/06/2009 - updated


I ask your prayers for my friend Diane who has been having daily headaches.

Mother Sandra asks prayers:
I just received word that my niece, Hillery, is in distress with her third pregnancy. Please hold Hillery, Joey, her husband and her family in prayer as the medical team tries to bring a healthy resolution to Hillery and her unborn child.

For my fellow worshiper at St Gabe's, Mike, who has had a serious leg infection and saw a specialist a few days ago. May he come to healing that leads to wholeness.

The news you are not getting in US newspapers or cable TV is always fodder for prayer.

Philippines Rescues 957 From Sunken Ferry, Works to Contain Oil
Bloomberg - Cecilia Yap - ‎1 hour ago‎
Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The Philippine coast guard worked to prevent about 250 tons of oil from spilling out of a ferry that sank off the southern island of Mindanao after rescuing all but 11 of the more than 900 people aboard.

I used to commute on the Bay Bridge daily. This is a very big deal to those affected.
Crack in span may delay Bay Bridge opening
San Francisco Chronicle - Rachel Gordon - ‎7 hours ago‎
(09-06) 17:21 PDT OAKLAND -- Inspectors discovered a crack in a crucial component of the east span of the Bay Bridge on Saturday that could jeopardize the planned Tuesday morning reopening of the bridge.
On average, 280000 vehicles travel San Francisco-Oakland Bay ... CNN

China troops enter India, 'mark' territory
IBNLive.com - ‎24 minutes ago‎
PTI Leh: Chinese troops entered the international border in Ladakh and painted "China” on boulders and rocks in Indian territory, Indian border patrol reportedly found on July 3. Chinese troops entered nearly 1.5 km into Indian territory near Mount Gya ...
China intrudes again, we do it too, says India Hindustan Times

Sri Lanka expels Unicef spokesman
Aljazeera.net - ‎1 hour ago‎
Sri Lanka has announced it is expelling a UN official after he reportedly expressed concerns over the plight of Tamil children during the government's military campaign against Tamil rebels.

Nepal temple reopens
Calcutta Telegraph - ‎4 hours ago‎
Kathmandu, Sept. 6 (PTI): The Pashupatinath Temple reopened today after a two-day gap amid tight security but Nepal's Maoists blocked roads adjoining the 5th-century Hindu shrine and shouted slogans against their government for appointing Indian ...
Pro-China Maoists attacked Indian priests? Times of India
Maoist attack on Hindu priests condemned Express Buzz

Bangladesh, India to review ties during Moni's visit
Zee News - ‎10 hours ago‎
Dhaka: Combating terrorism, Tipaimukh dam issue, sharing of river waters and border management will come up for discussion at a "congenial ambience" during Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni's visit to India from tomorrow.

Settlement freeze / At the outposts, it'll be business as usual
Ha'aretz - Amos Harel - ‎3 hours ago‎
So? Did the Americans know in advance about Israel's intention to authorize 500 more housing units in the West Bank? And how long will the freeze - the temporary limitations on construction - last?
Israel approving new West Bank construction The Associated Press
Barak to authorize 500 housing units in settlements Ynetnews
US says many Arab states have pledged to make gestures to Israel
Ha'aretz - Barak Ravid - ‎3 hours ago‎
United States government officials say that they have succeeded in extracting "pledges" from a number of Arab states to move toward normalization of relations with Israel.

'We tried to kill Carter and Blair'
Jerusalem Post - Khaled Abu Toameh - ‎3 hours ago‎
The leader of an al-Qaida-inspired group in the Gaza Strip revealed on Sunday that his men recently tried to assassinate former US president Jimmy Carter and Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

Iran's package includes nuclear, economic cooperation: official
Tehran Times - ‎7 hours ago‎
TEHRAN (Dispatches) - Iran is set to present a ""comprehensive"" package of proposals to six world powers on issues like the proliferation of atomic weapons and economic cooperation.

Irán y Venezuela firman diversos acuerdos
Pueblo en linea - ‎hace 1 hora‎
Irán y Venezuela han firmado varios acuerdos en esta capital, según informó el domingo la televisión estatal de la República Islámica. Los dos países firmaron una serie de acuerdos en la capital iraní, Teherán, antes de llevar a cabo la ceremonia de ...

Sarkozy llega a Brasil, con contrato militar en la mira
Univisión - ‎hace 48 minutos‎
PARIS (AP) - El presidente de Francia, Nicolás Sarkozy, llegó el domingo a Brasil con la esperanza de persuadir a funcionarios brasileños para que compren cazas franceses y no los aviones de sus rivales de Estados Unidos y Suecia. ...

Científicos británicos y franceses descubren tres genes del alzheimer
El País (España) - ‎hace 2 horas‎
El combate contra el alzhéimer puede haber entrado en una nueva era después de que dos equipos de científicos europeos -uno liderado por Francia, en el que había españoles, y otro de Reino Unido- identificaran tres nuevos genes relacionados con esta ...

Zimbabwe's neighbors to seek end to sanctions
Reuters - Joe Bavier - ‎2 hours ago‎
KINSHASA (Reuters) - African leaders will step up calls Monday for an end to Western sanctions against Zimbabwe and urge South Africa to plead Harare's cause within the Group of 20 rich and developing nations, officials said.
Backgrounder: Development of African regional bloc SADC Xinhua
SADC to revisit Zimbabwe's power sharing deal ZimEye

Nigeria says amnesty deal a 'huge' success so far
AFP - ‎7 hours ago‎
ABUJA - A "huge" number of militants in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta have accepted an amnesty deal and given up their weapons so far, officials said Sunday.

Presunto autor de la masacre de 18 jóvenes adictos en Juárez, detenido
La Jornada (México) - ‎hace 16 horas‎
En distintas acciones, efectivos del Ejército Mexicano detuvieron a importantes miembros de la estructura operativa de los cárteles del Golfo y de Juárez en los estados de Tamaulipas, Coahuila y Chihuahua. Sin embargo, la Secretaría de la Defensa ...

Gabon. Il Paese sta lentamente scivolando verso un caos ingestibile
LiberoReporter - ‎2 ore fa‎
Nel Paese africano essere al potere significa accedere alle sue ricchezze ed essere ricco vuol dire avere il potere. Un circolo chiuso che Bongo padre aveva ben capito visto che per 40 anni non aveva mai lasciato il governo del Paese ad altri ed era ...

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us, unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Update removed an irrelevant link.]
--the BB

If you don't want some kind of health care reform then you want this:


Nicked from Ellie



--the BB

My letter to the President



Here is my letter today.
Dear Mr. President:

You have seen the reprehensible response you get from the GOP when trying for bipartisanship on health care. Now it is time to do the right thing, whether they choose to get on board or not (and they won't).

Please take a strong, consistent, vocal, public stance (this coming Tuesday and going forward) in support of a vigorous public option in health care. It is not just one element in reform; without it most other steps will be baby steps that do not go far enough. There will be no real motivation for insurance companies not to gouge the public while sacrificing its health to their profits.

I cannot state this strongly enough. I am a Democrat who was proud to support your election. If we fail on this I will be a Democrat wondering why he even bothers with such a spineless party. At the moment the only segment of our party I wholeheartedly admire is the Progressive Caucus. Please listen to them.

Thank you.
I sent it through this White House link where comments are invited.

Jane R and others are encouraging us to do something daily for health care and designated this as "Today is write-the-President-about-health-care-reform day." Mimi's post reminded me to do my duty. I love the way we encourage one another to be active, engaged citizens. This is democracy at its finest.

This may be my third or fourth letter to the President since his inauguration. It is more polite than the last one.

So, write already.


--the BB

Welcome to the idiotocracy


--Hunter who also said:
After a millennium of being led around by great leaders and not so great leaders, of great debates and petty ones, of steady marches towards freer and richer and more enlightened societies, we have apparently decided to chuck it all, because any pulsing mound of meat with the ability to work a magic marker will now be as a god to us.

My usual sources are not available - upated


This Week with George Stephanopoulos notes the passings of conductor Erich Kunzel, former Reagan adviser Beryl Sprinkel, retailer Nancy Talbot and former Congressman W.G. Hefner. In addition, the Pentagon released the names of 11 servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army SPC Abraham S Wheeler III, 22, of Columbia, SC
Army SSG Jason S Dahlke, 29, of Orlando, FL
Army PFC Eric W Hario, 19, of Monroe, MI
Marine LCpl David R Hall, 31, of Elyria, OH
Army SPC Jonathan D Welch, 19, of Yorba Linda, CA
Army PFC Jordan M Brochu, 20, of Cumberland, ME
Army SPC Tyler R Walshe, 21, of Shasta, CA
Army SSG Todd W Selge, 25, of Burnsville, MN
Army SPC Jordan M Shay, 22, of Salisbury, MA
Navy PO3 Benjamin P Castiglione, 21, of Howell, MI
Marine LCpl Christopher S Baltazar Jr, 19, of San Antonio, TX

Normally, I give the number of total allied servicemembers killed as tallied by iCasualties.org, one of the few organizations dedicated to not forgetting the sacrifices by our military. However, iCasualties.org's servers have crashed and they are seeking donations to defray the cost of new equipment. Iraq Body Count lists 69 Iraqi civilian deaths for this week; 537 deaths (including 21 children) for the entire month of August.

--Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars

Update: I added the link for donations. I just gave because I have used them ever since I began tracking the number of US military casualties and I am grateful to icaualties for their service - and for the prayers that so many of you have offered for the fallen and their families.

Epic fail


Ali H. Soufan, FBI special agent involved in many interrogations, writes in the NYT:
It is surprising, as the eighth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, that none of Al Qaeda’s top leadership is in our custody. One damaging consequence of the harsh interrogation program was that the expert interrogators whose skills were deemed unnecessary to the new methods were forced out.

Mr. Mohammed knew the location of most, if not all, of the members of Al Qaeda’s leadership council, and possibly of every covert cell around the world. One can only imagine who else we could have captured, or what attacks we might have disrupted, if Mr. Mohammed had been questioned by the experts who knew the most about him.
I will conclude here with his opening paragraph:
PUBLIC bravado aside, the defenders of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques are fast running out of classified documents to hide behind. The three that were released recently by the C.I.A. — the 2004 report by the inspector general and two memos from 2004 and 2005 on intelligence gained from detainees — fail to show that the techniques stopped even a single imminent threat of terrorism.


--the BB