Friday, March 05, 2010

Down the passage which we did not take

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
--T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

My apologies for the hiatus between Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets. Life has been a bit busy and I needed some time to regroup (not to mention buy a new copy of Four Quartets since mine was misplaced somewhere).

I fell in love with the language of Eliot in my freshman year of college. I recall walking to class the day we were to discuss The Waste Land and Miss Kaiser asking me what I thought of the poem. I opined that I loved it. She did not. She asked if I understood it, to which I replied: "Not at all but what glorious language."

Well, there you have it. My aesthetic judgments begin with a sensory, visceral response. The mind races behind trying to catch up, to explain why I like or dislike this or that. This is why my comments on culture or aesthetics here are likely to be non-systematic and idiosyncratic.

Through my freshman year and beyond I reveled in the luxuriant language of The Waste Land and it shaped my own writing, whether poetry or journaling. I believe it lingers in the background of my fiction. It certainly predisposed me to respond favorably to Four Quartets.

Once again the response is visceral. I like the word patterns, whether I have the faintest idea what they mean or not. Hence, I do not pretend to offer here a learned analysis or anything resembling an authoritative interpretation. These are merely some of my individual responses to Eliot's poetry.

Well, enough excursus.

If all time is eternally present

This gives us a starting point that is jarring to the predominant Western perspective. We conceptualize time as something that passes in a linear fashion, like water flowing by, always unidirectional (modern ability to play video in reverse notwithstanding). If contemporary physics offers concepts of space or time curving, we get a bit uneasy. This is because our sensory perceptions on the day-to-day level is of rectilinear three-dimensional space with events moving "forward." When the word "timeline" is used we immediately think of something in a straight line with dates marked in regular numerals along that line. Our conceptual timeline does not curve, deviate, reverse itself, or - gasp - squiggle.

Yet we will speak of all time being eternally present to God, whose being is outside time.

If we were more traditional (and I mean going back to ancient traditions) we might view time differently. As cyclic, for instance, a perspective common in many societies.

Then there are the times we ponder starlight. We see a star in the skies and our scientific thought processes remind us that the light we are perceiving now left that star many years ago. Arcturus, for example, is rather close yet what we see of it is light that left 36.7 years ago. What does this do to our idea of time? To behold this star is to see the past.

Eliot invites us to shift our perspective to the eternal, the timeless, though it is only in time that we can think of it.

Our imagination might be able to grasp the idea that all matter that exists right now, scattered through the vastness of space, once existed - at the Big Bang - as an infinitesimal point. Let your imagination point to that not-even-a-speck and say "everything is right HERE." Eliot asks us to consider that "everything is right NOW."

If that is the case, however, how does it unfold, as we perceive time in the ordinary sense? How can anything have beginning, middle, and end if everything is simultaneous? How could anything happen? Anything change? Movement exist? Can there be transformation or redemption if everything is here and now?

What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Eliot is certainly taking our imagination down a passage it would normally never have taken. He calls us into an unfamiliar place, "towards the door we never opened/ Into the rose-garden."

Will we allow ourselves to step into eternity?

Is such an exercise pointless? Merely disturbing dust to no evident purpose?

What might happen if we go into this rose garden?

When Eliot visited Burnt Norton, a Gloucestershire manor, in 1934, he evidently had one of those moments when past, present, and future coalesced: a transcendent glimpse, if you will. In the course of this poem he teases out implications of this, inviting the reader to experience something far more vast than our usual awareness.

Perhaps this is why I unconsciously felt these poems would be good for Lent as Lent calls us to ponder on a deeper, vaster scale than we normally do.

[Should I include one of those ethical disclaimers, announcing that I used "Dust on a bowl of rose-leaves" as the title of a poem I wrote, a poem that is an acrostic of later lines in Burnt Norton?]

--the BB

Thursday, March 04, 2010


I cannot imagine a greater heartache than burying one’s own child. I have known friends and parishioners faced with this horror. The grief is overpowering. Words fail. We all recoil at the thought of something that seems to violate the order of nature. We are supposed to bury our parents, not the other way around.

The myth of Medea takes us beyond that horror to a greater one: the tale of a woman who kills her own children. Everything about this is just not right.

One must approach with caution. Medea's nurse warns us, wishing things were not as they are.
If only they had never gone! If the Argo’s hull
Never had winged out through the grey-blue jaws of rock
And on towards Colchis! If that pine on Pelion’s slopes
Had never felt the axe, and fallen, to put oars
Into those heroes’ hands, who went at Pelias’ bidding
To fetch the golden fleece!

The ancient Greeks did not spare themselves tales of such horror and we, in the postmodern era, turn to classical Greek tragedy to plumb the psychological depths of human pride and folly, betrayal and revenge, terror and madness. It is difficult to beat the purge of a well-performed classic. We watch people in extreme situations, victims of their own character and the whims of the gods, marching inexorably toward destruction... and see ourselves.

Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides - these amazing dramatists spin out mythic tales and catch us up in timeless human drama. It is not unusual to feel wrung out like a dishrag at the end of one of their plays.

Readers of this blog know I love Greek drama and catch it at every opportunity.

Euripides' Medea is currently playing at the Vortex Theatre in Albuquerque. Some friends and I caught it last Friday evening. The ancient Greeks and the modern actors and director spun the timeless magic. Wow.

The immediately noticeable thing is that they played it straight. I had pulled off the shelf my copy of the Penguin Classics containing this play, a copy printed in 1983, with yellowing pages, some of which fell loose as I opened the book and read. I managed to read most of the play over the course of lunch and while waiting for my friends before dinner. It is the Philip Vellacott translation. The program notes say this production was based on a new translation by Robin Robertson, 2008. You could have fooled me as it sounded exactly as I had read it earlier that day.

Even as the Nurse began her opening lines I realized this production was faithful to the original. Over the course of the performance I could also tell they had not mucked around with the text. The play was not transposed to modern times. Costumes evoked ancient Greece. Lines that jar modern sensibilities were left intact. This was not a modern adaptation, a clever resetting of the tale in some other place and time, or Robinson Jeffers' retelling; it was pure Euripides and we were back in 431 BCE when it was first performed in Athens.

We were also, of course, in a nightmare landscape of our own souls where things like this take place, or might take place, which the gods forbid.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The cast did a splendid job and one must single out Angela Littleton in the title role. She has the physical and emotional presence to dominate the play. She also managed the challenging task of moving from grief to rage to calculated cunning to madness. Those of us familiar with classical mythology know where this tale is headed yet we wait with anticipation to see how it will unfold, hoping we can get caught up in it. We are not disappointed.

I will not recount the plot. You may read it at Wikipedia. What I should like to do is ponder factors that struck me.

One is the clash of cultures. Medea is the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, a Georgian state on the eastern side of the Black Sea. Aeëtes was the son of Helios, the sun god, and a nymph. Medea is thus daughter of a king, granddaughter of a god, and a privileged person in a wealthy kingdom. To the Greeks, however, she was simply a barbarian, the term applied to all non-Greeks. She was considered uncivilized and inferior by definition.

Jason, whose ass she had repeatedly saved while enabling him to steal the Golden Fleece and escape back to Greece, repeatedly informs her how fortunate she is to be in civilized Hellas (Greece). She does not seem impressed by this arrogant assumption of cultural superiority. As a result of the violent wreckage she has left everywhere, all accomplished for love of Jason, they are pretty much exiles living at the mercy of whoever will take them in. This is, to put it bluntly, quite a few steps down the old social ladder for a princess who once lived in luxury.

The Greek hero and his exotic foreign wife exist not only on the border between two cultures but also, it is claimed, on the border between two eras. "Jason, Perseus, Theseus, and above all Heracles, are all "liminal" figures, poised on the threshold between the old world of shamans, chthonic earth deities, and the new Bronze Age Greek ways." [Wikipedia]

Medea, especially, represents an older culture. She is skilled in herbs, perhaps what we might now consider a curandera. Seen through a Greek lens, she is a powerful sorceress. She may use trickery and illusion in some instances, but she also knows which potions to use to accomplish her ends. She is cunning and not to be trusted. One might venture to say she is the patriarchy's worst nightmare, a magical mix of power, intelligence, sexuality, and ability to act without deference to a male social structure. Every fear, and slander, that a Greek male (or a modern Western one) might project on to an independent woman is found in perceptions of Medea.

All the men in this drama are powerless in relation to Medea.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

All this is found in a play that has what, to modern ears, are gratingly misogynistic lines. Thus is is said that "Medea is widely read as a proto-feminist text to the extent that it sympathetically explores the disadvantages of being a woman in a patriarchal society, although it has also been read as an expression of misogynist attitudes." [Wikipedia]

In the opening speech the Nurse says: Jason she is all
Obedience - and in marriage that's the saving thing,
When a wife obediently accepts her husband's will.
Euripides has already set us up since the last thing we will see as the play unfolds is Medea obediently accepting her husband's will, except in deceit as she manipulates him to achieve her ends. The nurse also warns:
She is
A frightening woman; no one who makes an enemy
Of her will carry off an easy victory.
Again and again we will hear obsequious remarks, and deferential ones, suggesting or outright asserting that women are weak, helpless, or meant to stay in their place and be ruled by men. Even Medea uses such words to deceive King Creon or Jason, her husband.

But here is the thing that emerged as I thought about the play in the days following last Friday's performance. Medea may say the acceptable things in her social setting but she will have none of it.

Medea will not let herself be defined, determined, or controlled by the perceptions of anyone else, most especially men in power. She will act as she will act. Further, she will most especially act in a manner to revenge herself on the men who have despised and injured her. There is destruction in her wake from the time she and Jason first meet. She does not care. She will slay, dismember, deceive, poison, and sacrifice to get what she wants. For all this power and self-determination she is left without home, family, husband, or children - because at the end of this play all she wants is revenge on Jason and the cost of that will be destroying the children of her own womb.

Perhaps Euripides only won third prize (of three contestants) that year because the Athenians were not ready for a Medea. What is more, she "gets away with it." She prepares a refuge in Athens through the solemn oaths of its ruler and when Jason's new bride and royal father-in-law have perished horribly and Medea's little boys are dead, she climbs into a chariot drawn by dragons to make good her escape. (Being the Sun's granddaughter has its privileges. This production does not depict the dragon chariot, however.)

Perhaps I am just rambling but I feel Medea's power in our consciousness lies in her larger-than-life aspects that we cannot tidily put into a little box mingled with the very sympathetic reality of her being a woman wronged. She betrayed her own family and abandoned everything for love of Jason and was then cast aside for a trophy wife. No one can witness this tale or know this myth and find Jason to be sympathetic. [Which raises the question why there are so many men these days named Jason.] Then, mixed in with all this, is the infanticide that renders her a monster.

What are we to make of such a formidable, complex, fascinating and terrifying character?

(And the nuns wondered what to do with a problem called Maria.)

The concluding lines, spoken by the Chorus, certainly capture a great life truth.
Many are the Fates which Zeus in Olympus dispenses;
Many matters the gods bring to surprising ends.
The things we thought would happen do not happen;
The unexpected God makes possible;
And such is the conclusion of this story.
Heedful of this, we might be less presumptuous in our plans, allowing that things will not work out as we assume.

How might things turn out if we allow people outside our categories and accept them whether they fit our models or not? How might they turn out if we keep faith with one another? What if we honor the human heart more than we honor power, position, and riches? What if we had not sacrificed everything for a golden fleece?

Kudos to Shepard Sobel for bringing this play to the stage and welcome to Albuquerque! New York's loss is certainly our gain.

Go to the Vortex website to learn more or make reservations. By the time I publish this it will be almost midnight, so I will say tonight (Friday) through Sunday are the last three performances.

--the BB


03/02/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified (1 of 2)
Spc. Matthew D. Huston, 24, of Athens, Ga... died March 1 in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked their unit using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

03/02/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified (1 of 2)
Spc. Josiah D. Crumpler, 27, of Hillsborough, N.C... died March 1 in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked their unit using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

03/02/10 DoD:
Marine Casualty Identified
Lance Cpl. Carlos A. Aragon, 19, of Orem, Utah, died March 1 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

03/02/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified
Spc. Ian T.D. Gelig, 25, of Stevenson Ranch, Calif., died March 1 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

03/02/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified
Spc. Ian T.D. Gelig, 25, of Stevenson Ranch, Calif., died March 1 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

03/01/10 DoD:
Army Casualty Identified
Staff Sgt. William S. Ricketts, 27, of Corinth, Miss., died Feb 27 at Bala Murghab, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Heart thread - 03/03/2010 - updated

I ask your prayers for my friend Diane who was in the middle vehicle of a three-car accident today. No one has serious injuries but it could have been much worse as there were children in the cars behind and in front of her. Pray also for the distracted driver who caused this damage.

One year old tomorrow: great grandnieces Clara and Olivia.

Please remember my friend Jay also.
Hi Paul... yes... second MRI came back negative. My doc is baffled as to what's going on. No improvement in my condition. Some days are definitely better than others. Been experiencing a flare up since Saturday... today was the worst... I thought I was going nuts in a staff meeting. My hand and arm feel like they have a car battery hooked up to them and the current is flowing. Leg and foot are numb and I've had some pretty awful sleepless nights. Thanks for the message and well wishes. Life pretty much sucks right now though.

--the BB

Quick updates

Having visited Eliot's Ash Wednesday, I will turn next to Four Quartets but I just got a new copy last night, so there is a small hiatus in those reflections. Daily thoughts should return shortly.

While I do not blog at work, I have posted comments on others' blogs in between calls but that seems to have been blocked, so if you hear less from me it does not mean I am not reading and thinking of you or joining in your prayers.

Mark (Марко Фризия) sent me a note yesterday to say: "So many things to take care of and catch up with, but I wanted to contact you and let you know I was alive and still struggling." Please continue to keep him in your prayers.

The photo above is of a railroad overpass in Pinole, California, about 15 minutes from where I used to live.

--the BB

Monday, March 01, 2010

Heart thread - 03/01/2010

So many prayer requests this evening.

For my coworker Jennifer who collapsed three times this weekend and is in the hospital. They suspect pneumonia but are testing for everything.

For Mark suffering an outbreak of shingles.

For Diane's dad who is in the hospital with pneumonia.

For my niece Paula, facing a bout of diverticulitis.

For Jack, who will always be my father-in-law to me, who had stitches removed today following cancer surgery two weeks ago. The margins are all cancerous so there are severe limitations on what can be done.

For my coworker Tammy who is having a miserable time with her right eye following surgery.

For Jonathan and the Missus as they make a huge transition.

For the people of Chile and the people of Haiti, recovering from devastating earthquakes.

For Mark, who is still healing and has not posted in a month.

For those lacking shelter or heat in severe winter weather. For the youth of the reservations where suicide, already high, is increasing.

For Margaret and all the faithful who will stand in witness against the hatred of Westboro Baptist Church in Richmond tomorrow.

O Crucified Firstborn, you have surrounded us with sisters and brothers who share with us their joys, their wounds, and their deep concerns: In your merciful compassion grant that we, who do not pray for ourselves as we ought, may faithfully hold these in our heart with love as we stand before you; may your Spirit bear us together to the Father's throne where we may obtain such grace and healing as we need and be strengthened to praise and serve you all the days of our life; for the sake of your passionate love. Amen.

--the BB

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Looking back

How To Make A Republican Tell The Truth
Posted by Plaid Adder
Added to homepage Mon Feb 28th 2005, 03:02 PM ET

I heard this from someone else over the weekend and it is brilliant:

It works just like the Salada Tea Bags lines, or that game people play with cookie fortunes, where you add the words "between the sheets" to make a meaningless platitude much more interesting.

All you have to do in order to make Republican domestic policies make sense is take their talking point and add the words "...if you're rich!"

For instance: "Privatizing social security makes a lot of sense...if you're rich!"

Or, "Our health care system is the best in the world...if you're rich!"

Or how about, "The economy under Bush is the strongest it's ever been...if you're rich!"

Just add three little words, and all of a sudden, these bastards are telling the truth.

It's most fun if you do it in a group with one person beginning the talking point and everyone else finishing it in unison. I think it coudl be productively adapted as a protest tactic for some of those Social Security meet-ups Santorum and friends are doing now, for instance.


The Plaid Adder

NEWSWEEK: White House Slow to Read Signs in Port Sale; Congressional GOP Did Not Want to Explain Sale to Public
Senior White House Official Conceded to Not Knowing About Port Deal, Tells Rep. Peter King to 'Go Ahead' on Going Public

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- For the past two campaign cycles, Karl Rove has successfully painted Democrats as soft on national security. The Dubai sale offered them a golden opportunity for payback, report Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe and White House Correspondent Holly Bailey in the current issue of Newsweek. Dubai Ports World already works closely with the U.S., shutting down its commercial traffic whenever the Navy sails in. So when it first approached the Feds about a takeover in mid-October, there were no red flags. They finished their formal review in mid-January with no public fanfare and no extended inquiry, write Wolffe and Bailey who, in the March 6 issue (on newsstands Monday, February 27), reconstruct the events of the port sale and explain how an obscure maritime takeover turned into a political shipwreck.

The GOP leadership on Capitol Hill did not want to get stuck trying to explain the sale to a public anxious after hearing how little had been done to protect U.S. ports. The White House, meanwhile, was slow to read the signs, write Wolffe and Bailey. Nobody had tracked the bidding war for the venerable British ports company called the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (known as P & O). And nobody noticed an Associated Press story-on the day of Cheney's hunting incident-that aired the security concerns of a small Miami port operator called Eller. A disgruntled partner of P & O, Eller feared that an Arab government takeover could trigger a political backlash that might jeopardize its business. Its lawyers approached the Feds but were brushed aside; the security review was long complete.

Rep. Peter King, the GOP chair of the House homeland security committee, called the White House to ask about the deal a few days after the AP story. A senior official told him not to worry, but conceded he didn't know about any investigation into the Dubai company. When King said he planned to go public, the White House official just shrugged and said, "Go ahead."

When the crisis came to a head, Bush ordered his staff to contact each cabinet secretary involved in reviewing the sale to make sure that everyone stood by the decision. Reassured, Bush called reporters to his conference room aboard Air Force One, where he suggested that critics were indulging in anti- Arab prejudice and promised to veto any legislation blocking the deal. Midweek, as he stepped off the plane in Ohio, the president was greeted by Rep. Steve Chabot. The congressman pressed into the president's hand a cartoon from that morning's Cincinnati Enquirer. It showed a grinning Arab emir spreading his arms over an American port. The caption read, "Relax, Homeland Security has everything under control."

Support the troops
by kos
Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 02:56:04 PM PST
Glad to see all those great "troop supporters" allowing this to happen.
Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question the switch, which is not widely known. They wonder whether it means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to prepare them for the challenges of Iraq.

Cutting corners like this, in addition to sending them to Iraq without proper armor, is getting people killed. And all to save two weeks.
"Support the troops" indeed...

Walter Reed: Problem Solved
by BarbinMD
Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 07:27:39 AM PST
Reacting swiftly to the shameful treatment soldiers receive as out-patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that was revealed last week in the Washington Post, the Pentagon has solved the problem:
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

Collective punishment, institute a gag rule and the problems of neglect, bureaucracy and questionable disability ratings are gone.
And apparently operating under the policy of "better safe than sorry," and only days after the Pentagon arranged for journalists to be given a tour of the newly painted, cleaned and repaired Building 18:
They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks...It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.

And if all that doesn't take care of the shocking revelations about the disgraceful treatment given to wounded soldiers and their families at the "crown jewel of military medicine," a first sergeant has been relieved of duty.

• Permalink

Studies: immigrants raise wages; are more law-abiding
by kos
Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 09:07:34 AM PST
It sucks for the xenophobic wingnuts when their talking points are contradicted by the facts.
Two new studies by California researchers counter negative perceptions that immigrants increase crime and job competition, showing that they are incarcerated at far lower rates than native-born citizens and actually help boost their wages.
A study released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants who arrived in the state between 1990 and 2004 increased wages for native workers by an average 4%.

UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who conducted the study, said the benefits were shared by all native-born workers, from high school dropouts to college graduates, because immigrants generally perform complementary rather than competitive work.
As immigrants filled lower-skilled jobs, they pushed natives up the economic ladder into employment that required more English or know-how of the U.S. system, he said […]

Another study released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined. Among men of Mexican descent, for instance, 0.7% of those foreign-born were incarcerated compared to 5.9% of native-born, according to the study, co-written by UC Irvine sociologist Ruben G. Rumbaut.

So they raise wages and are incarcerated at dramatically lower rates than native born Americans.
So why are we supposed to hate them so much?

Update [2007-2-28 14:44:58 by ePluribus Media]: The AP (via Santa Fe New Mexican) has a report on the Iglesias news conference today.

Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month that most of the U.S. attorneys had been fired for "performance-related" reasons. But Iglesias said he called his news conference Wednesday to present evidence that's "demonstrably untrue" for his office.

Cheney and Bush are going to hate this book "3 Trillion Dollar War"
by testvet6778
Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 05:34:49 PM PST
There is in the Guardian tonight dated Feb 28,2008 an article about a book The Three Trillion Dollar War being released in the U.K. today written by Nobel Prize Winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Professor at the Kennedy School Linda Bilmes. She is the one who gave the report to Congress on the fact that taking care of the wounded soldiers alone from the Iraq war would be one trillion dollars. It seems as if they got more "curioser" and after being accused of being to "outlandish" in her estimates of the "true cost". Below is excerpts of the article but you need to go to the link and read the entire piece, it is well worth the time.

Bernanke ready to sacrifice average Americans to save Wall Street
by Chris in Paris · 2/27/2008 09:34:00 PM ET · Link

Gosh, thanks. While I appreciate the public arguing between Federal Reserve governors on the subject of whether to focus on inflation or Wall Street, it's discouraging to hear Bernanke so willingly point towards another Wall Street gift. During the Bush years, the middle class has been shafted and has not enjoyed the economic benefits that mostly helped the wealthiest Americans. There was no trickle down and they didn't even try to hide behind such false stories as they did during the Reagan years. They simply didn't give a damn.

Now all of the excesses of the Wall Street wet dream, where they were given full authority by Republicans do to pretty much any damned thing they liked, are crashing down. Suddenly, we're all supposed to jump and give Wall Street more free money so we can help them bounce back. Money isn't falling from the sky, it's leaving your wallet to bail these bums out. The same middle class who has footed the bill for Iraq, footed the tax cuts for the rich, more expensive health care, fewer benefits and payed the price for lack of traditional regulation, is being asked to sacrifice - again - so that Bernanke can help Wall Street dig out of the hole they put us in. We're in for a bumpy ride one way or another so let Wall Street fend for themselves and think about the middle class. Inflation and sagging wages are taking their toll, but don't tell that to Bernanke. He doesn't give a damn unless you are Wall Street.

Sen. Whitehouse Prepares the Nation for Torture Horrors
by buhdydharma
Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 02:40:07 PM PST
Senator Whitehouse is on both the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Thus he perhaps more than anyone else has access to ALL of the available information on the Bush Torture Network. Including the remaining pictures and videotapes from Abu Ghraib that were concealed from the public view. Pictures and videotapes that even Rumsfeld was shocked by, even though, as has become apparent since, he authorized them....or at least the programs that led to them.. Before he was implicated he had this to say...

What is shown on the photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon has blocked from release? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images, "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe." They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of "rape and murder." Rumsfeld then commented, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

And that is only one of the horrifying aspects of what has occurred in the Bush Torture Network. Thus Senator Whitehouse's warning to the nation.


As we work toward a brighter future ahead, to days when jobs return to our cities, capital to our businesses, and security to our lives, we cannot set aside our responsibility to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

We also have to brace ourselves for the realistic possibility that as some of this conduct is exposed, we and the world will find it shameful, revolting. We may have to face the prospect of looking with horror at our own country's deeds. We are optimists, we Americans; we are proud of our country. Contrition comes hard to us.

But the path back from the dark side may lead us down some unfamiliar valleys of remorse and repugnance before we can return to the light. We may have to face our fellow Americans saying to us, "No, please, tell us that we did not do that, tell us that Americans did not do that" - and we will have to explain, somehow. This is no small thing, and not easy; this will not be comfortable or proud; but somehow it must be done.

IF the full story of the Bush Torture Network is ever told out loud, on televison, it will shock the nation...and perhaps even the jaded and inattentive conscience of a nation that has been buried under eight years of horror upon Bush horror. None worse than what was done to our fellow human beings, in our names.

Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.
--T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

This lady seems to be many women: Mary, a redeemed Eve, a fertility goddess, a nun. At least, I feel that she is all of these and more - not capable of being contained with one category or description.

Words like sister and mother claim kinship. We are related to her. We make our pleas to her.

"Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood."

I will allow that phrase to stand on its own without commentary.

"Teach us to care and not to care."

This makes me think of whole-hearted engagement combined with detachment from outcomes, a Buddhist way of engaging the world. We do what is needful and appropriate with no concern for the outcome, offering right action as its own reward.

Having come home to one's true self, finding God at the same time, we offer the prayer that this not be undone.

"Suffer me not to be separated" - from the Anima Christi (see below).

"And let my cry come unto Thee" - from Psalm 102:1 (Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee) - A standard versicle and response in the Western tradition.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise thee
Forever and ever.

--the BB

Terror and surrender - continued

Back in the dusty annals of history, when I was in Baptist seminary, bursting with excitement about new ways of seeing things and in love with theology yet still stuck in the dreaded closet, I had a dream. It came to mind as I did the last post and I think I really ought to share it.

It was one of those desperate nightmares. I was among the defenders of a walled city (I had been reading a lot of mediaeval history in those days). We were under attack. Everything was dark. The opposing side had, like its Goliath, a very dark, powerful monster that would annihilate our walls and destroy us. The beast dwarfed our city walls. Total terror. There was no imaginable hope.

Early in the dream, as best I can recall, I was just one among the defenders but when all was lost I cried out, "Open the gates!"

I surrendered myself and the city.

And we were not annihilated, or even attacked.

The monster turned out to be benign.

All was going to be well.

And I woke up.

It seemed then, and seems even more so now, that the monster I was terrified of was my sexuality. It only threatened if I tried to keep it at bay. Embraced it would be my friend. In surrender was grace.

The walled city was probably my "closet."

In the years that followed, I did not open my closet door. Someone else ripped it off the hinges for me. But I have never regretted letting go of the terrifying secret and learning all over to be the person God made me.

Of course, learning to be the persons God made us is a lifelong task that we face often. But it is so much better than trying to be anyone or anything else.

Grace to you all, and peace.

--the BB