Saturday, January 05, 2008

Friends from two more nations

I have been to Helsinki but not yet to la bella Italia. Welcome!

OK, back to the kitchen.
--the BB

Joyeux Noël!

Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams

Today the transgressions of humanity are washed away by the waters of the Jordan

Today Paradise has been opened to humanity and the Sun of Righteousness shines down upon us

Today we have been delivered from darkness and illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God

Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness

Text from the Great Blessing of the Waters on the Feast of the Holy Theophany of our Lord
--the BB

Friday, January 04, 2008

On the eleventh day of Christmas

Tomorrow I am having friends over for dinner. Unless I panic and pare down the menu it will be a five course formal meal. Dress and behavior will be totally informal but I enjoy doing the fancy table, good food, course after course routine. And what is the point of having my mother's china and silver if they don't get used? Mother did not believe in having things "too nice" to use. Hooray for Mom!

I still have some items to pick up tomorrow (fresh produce from an upscale store where more variety and better quality may be found). Most of the ingredients are already on hand at this point. Soon I shall take out the spice blender and put in peppercorns, juniper berries, a bay leaf, a couple allspice, thyme, marjoram, and sea salt. Whir that pup up and lo! a rub to put all over the pork loins so they may absorb it through the night. Pork roast tomorrow!

It will be a wintery meal: roast pork, roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts; before all that a butternut squash soup; at the end fruit cake, cookies, port.

While I enjoy cooking, I absolutely loathe cooking for one. While I know that I deserve better, I probably sit at the dining table for a meal by myself about twice a year. The rest of the time I am eating while watching television, at the computer, or standing up. I know. Not good. Maybe this is why I go overboard when I have the chance to feed others. I am looking forward to it.

Sweet dreams, y'all.
--the BB

Another visitor, another flag

--the BB

Let's savor this moment

Barack Obama gives his victory speech in Des Moines.

A moving account of the excitement and the anxiety is provided by LowerManhattanite over at the Group News Blog (whence I obtained the video above).

You may read the text of the speech over at Truthout.
--the BB

Can you believe it?

The word comes from Mad Priest:

The Stateside office has reopened following the Christmas break and a whole load of cheques were waiting for us on the doormat. This will make you smile:

The appeal total now stands at:


Just two days left and MadPriest is starting to do something he usually leaves to the better qualified. Yes, he's ON HIS KNEES (the only position approved by the Bishop of Horsham) praying for a miracle.

The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

Maddy adds:
Come on you lot!
And as the actress said to the bishop:
Let's have one last spurt out of you.
And let's make it a good one.

--the BB

Friday Prince Blogging

Today's is a short entry. I have one photo of His Royal Highness Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark. He is the second son and third child of former King Constantine II of Greece and Queen Anne-Marie, who was a Princess of Denmark. Crown Prince Pavlos is his elder brother and Crown Prince Fredrik of Denmark is his cousin. Born 1 October 1969 in Rome, Prince Nikolaos graduated from Brown University with an A. B. in international relations in 1993. [Source: Wikipedia]

Now for the juicy part--from the Royal Forums:
The alpha Greek male of his generation and the man many monarchists favour to succeed King Constantine to the Greek throne were it to be re-instated, Prince Nikolaos of Greece is both the ultimate Greek and the ultimate bachelor prince--though both are not necessarily exclusive.
Whether it be London or Greece, Prince Nikolaos’s playboy status defies all geographic barriers, and is considered one of London’s most eligible bachelors. He has been pictured with the likes of models Elle MacPherson and Claudia Schiffer to actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
But the most talked about relationship the Prince has been rumoured to be in is his rumoured relationship with Crown Princess Victoria, the 27 year old heir to the Swedish throne. From the Norwegian King and Queen’s 60th birthday celebrations in 1997, where apparently the Love Boat made a love match, to subsequent royal gatherings from Princess Martha Louise of Norway’s 30th birthday and her wedding to author Ari Behn, the rumour mill has always ran rampant with a Greek-Swedish love match, though neither the Prince or Crown Princess has ever confirmed a romantic relationship ever existed between them.

Most recently, Prince Nikolaos has been linked romantically to Tatiana Blathnick, a 22 year old student who has visited Greece with the Prince on several occasions.

Well, ladies, there's still a chance. It's said he is comfy in the courts and on the streets. Woot!

Diane reminds us all to pray for...

The people of Kenya....

God our refuge and our strength, look with mercy upon the people of Kenya who have nowhere to turn for refuge. Forgive us for not being the refuge you have called us to be, for not providing a sanctuary for those who are vulnerable, cold and in danger. Give us new vision to throw upon our doors and spread upon our arms to those who wander the earth, looking for signs of your presence and hope. We pray in the name of your Son, in whose mercy is our only hope. Amen

And the people of Pakistan...

Courageous and mighty God, grant your wisdom and strength to the people and the leaders of Pakistan. Restore order and hope, and raise up courageous leaders who see a vision of respect and dignity for all people. Give us courage as well, that in the face of fear we stand up for truth, for peace, and for justice. In the name of your Son who brings peace and God's favor to earth, and who makes peace with us, and among us. Amen

Thank you, Diane. Please forgive me for lifting wholesale.
--the BB

We all [try to] love each other

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Dave, who give us such fun cartoons, is doing his part to heal some rifts in the Body of Christ by inviting Anglican bloggers of all stripes to practice love (and join a group on facebook). Of this group he writes:
A group for people who blog about Anglican goings-on. Also the people who comment on the blogs about Anglican goings-on. Also Anglicans who blog, but not about Anglican goings-on. Also those who have no idea what is going on, but want to join in.

This is a group for those who blog from the right hand pews, those who blog from the left hand pews and those who find themselves blogging in the central aisle where they might be struck down by a hymnbook from either side or be run down by the procession. Everyone is welcome.

I hadn’t planned this to be a place for in-depth debate, as there are lots of those out there anyway. But it might become a place to connect with the people behind the websites. Who knows, we might discover we’re all human after all. And where the bloggers lead the bishops follow. Or something.
The server seems busy at the moment but you may join here.
Even I have managed to join facebook, so it must not be too difficult.
--the BB

HR 888 - flag, mom, apple pie... or not?

The information for this post comes from Troutfishing at Daily Kos in a call to contact our congresscritters and urge them to oppose HR 888.
Resolved, That the United States House of Representatives----

(1) affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history, including up to the current day;

(2) recognizes that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation's most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures;

(3) rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation's public buildings and educational resources; and

(4) expresses support for designation of a `American Religious History Week' every year for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith.

Sound innocuous? God bless America and all that.

Look more closely.

"[T]he religious foundations of faith on which America was built ... form the inseparable foundation for America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures."

That "inseparable foundation" languages does more than make me uneasy. It creates a sense of dread and of outrage.

As a person of faith, I do NOT want anybody's religious interpretations overlaid on our representative processes, our legal systems, or our societal structures. Within societal structures may be any number of faith communities but faith is not a prerequisite for social structures or, in most instances, for participation in them.

It is not an accident that the United States Constitution does not mention God: any god or gods. Religious belief or the absence thereof is irrelevant to our form of government.

Many are busy trying to rewrite our history to assert that we are and have been a Christian nation. When that won't fly (because it is such an outright lie) they retreat to vaguer assertions about "the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our Nation's founding." It sounds so very nice... until you think about it for half a second. That diverse religious history tells us about all the ills of mingling religion with government (theocracy ain't pretty in history) and why so many fled to this continent to get away from religious wars, religious oppression and intolerance, and to enjoy religious freedom (at least for themselves). From there we grew to realize that it's a good idea to have religious freedom (or freedom from religion) for everybody.

The "resolved" clauses of bills are the ones that count but the "whereas" clauses provide an interpretive framework that should not be ignored.

I am guessing that the third resolve in HR 888 is intended to preserve things like the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in courtrooms and other public locations. If we include alongside the Decalogue a copy of the Code of Hammurabi or perhaps some contributions from Solon and Magna Carta, I might be less suspicious. But let's face it, no matter how much the Decalogue has informed and shaped the western system of jurisprudence, the first commandment is "I am the Lord [YHWH] your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3) I just don't think this faith affirmation belongs in any secular law court. And I most certainly don't want this nation ruled by ecclesiastical courts (can we all say Sharia?).

As for the fourth resolve: I would prefer not to have such a week decreed by our government and leave the celebration and practicing of faith to the faith communities. I do believe that the religious (and non-religious) elements of our history need to be taught and taught well and that everything goes into a healthy and complete context but we need more than a week. In other words, this resolve is either inadequate and meaningless or somehow pernicious. Or both. I doubt that such a week would add any value to our national life but it may provide a convenient back door for the reinforcement of misperceptions about the role of religion in government.

The whereas sections have some gross distortions (may we call them lies?) about our history.
One example reads: "Whereas political scientists have documented that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible."

This is based on excerpting some statistics from their context and using them to imply something that is simply untrue. Among public documents published within a certain period the Bible was the most frequent source of quotation. True. Most of those citations were in pamphlets of sermons, commonly distributed at the time. If you remove that source and consider instead governmental and legal documents, the Bible is cited no more than classical authors, as one might well expect in the writings of traditionally educated persons at that time. There is thus no privileging of the Bible as a source of thinking in this nation's founding.

It is distortions like these that are repeatedly used, rarely examined, and widely broadcast until the general populace comes to believe that the United States was founded on "Judeo-Christian principles" when it was founded upon Enlightenment thought and secular reasoning by persons who were mostly Deists who did not operate on what is nowadays generally considered a "Christian" set of assumptions.

Are you ready for a theocracy in the United States? Some folks dearly want it. I, for one, do not, thank you very much.

Read the whole article here. Check out Chris Rodda's good work debunking the crap in HR 888 here. We do not need legislation that promotes the distorted "history" found in Christian nationalist websites.

Then politely let your representative know that you are paying attention and don't want her or him voting for HR 888.

Yours for secular democracy in which faith and non-faith are free to flourish,
--the BB

Deux drapeaux de plus!

This morning I see we have visitors from Liban et la belle France. Welcome!
--the BB


A vexillophile is someone who loves flags. That's me! I love to see them flying, their colors rippling in the breeze. I collect them also. Back in El Cerrito, California, we had a flagpole and ran all sorts of them up. Here I have the flags but no pole.

My collection includes 29 countries plus the United Nations, Earth flag, Episcopal Church, California, New Mexico, Texas, and British Columbia, along with the rainbow flag and the Italian peace flag. Some of the countries were acquired because they were available, some I have because I have some link with people from that nation or have visited there. I acquired South Africa because I was so excited to see it emerge as a renewed nation, Cambodia because I have Cambodian friends, Armenia because I grew up with Armenian friends. Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Bart's are all because of a cruise we took one January. And on it goes.

Now there is a cyber-collection. I finally got one of those counters that shows how many visits one has from each country and, as of this moment, there are ten countries represented. A few were surprises as one may surmise.

We know Padre Mickey checks in from Panamá and I am assuming that Maddy and chums visit from the UK. Massing Priest gives us hits from Canada along with those who might link from him. I strongly suspect that prince blogging has brought us visitors from Spain and Sweden and, because the Crown Prince of Laos visited in Thailand that may have brought a visit from Thailand. It is a pleasure to have visitors also from Germany, Slovakia, and Romania--the latter two being delightful surprises.

To one and all I wish a hearty "Welcome!" Please visit again!

I look forward to adding flags to this new collection. After all, I proclaim myself a citizen of the world.
--the BB

On the tenth day of Christmas

I finally rolled out the rest of the dough and finished baking Swedish pepper cookies. The recipe, rich in the goodness of melted butter, molasses, sour cream, and all kinds of spices--including black pepper, along with the allspice, ginger, and cloves--is so wonderful that I found myself eating bits of raw dough this past week. [Kids, do not do this at home, the uncooked dough has eggs in it.]

The recipe also makes lots of dough and that means lots of rolling it out. So we will have traditional ethnic cookies for our Twelfth Night party.
No, my cookies do not look like this. They are thinner, crisper, and are not adorned with sugar on top. They are just thin little ginger crisps. They may be iced or decorated with colored sprinkles but I prefer them plain. I did not locate my cookie cutters this year, so they are all small and round. Very boring, I know. Usually I have bells and wonderful crosses and Christmas trees along with round ones, but not this year. I have some copper cookie cutters that my mother used to make these same cookies--somewhere in the house or garage. They will turn up.

I may make another type of cookie but no promises. We also have my best friend's fruitcake, made according to his great-grandmother's recipe. I love it and those of you who don't care for fruitcake... all the more for me! I have the last little bit of last year's fruitcake (yes, I dole it out, not as thinly sliced as my Uncle Virgil used to do but not frequently). So we each get a small bite of last year's before enjoying whole slices from this year.

We shall celebrate the conclusion of Christmas. Twelfth Night, the Eve of Epiphany, is also the anniversary of my mother's death in 1985. The next morning I rode the train to Fresno, thumbing through my hymnal and singing hymns and weeping a lot. Somewhere around 1996 or 1997 (perhaps even 1998?) on January 5 we were having a party at our home and I got word that our next door neighbor Betty had died. I grabbed a white stole that I had been making and a prayer book, walked next door, and led the Litany at Time of Death.

Betty and I had a funny relationship. We were neighbors who chatted over the fence in the best ancient manner. Her upbringing as a Catholic was so entrenched, however, that when she wanted to say "shit" or actually slipped and said it she would say, "I'm sorry, Father." I kept telling her, "I'm your neighbor, Betty, not your priest." But those nuns had brought her up proper, don't you know?

I had been making that stole with the Baptism of Christ in mind and actually made two of them. I still have one. It is an off-white silk with bright turquoise blue silk lining, evocative of water in my mind because it is not only blue but suggestive of blue swimming pools in southern California. The orphreys on the front include shades of blue and green. I wore the stole when I was invited to participate in her Requiem and when I laid her to rest in the earth. Whenever I put it on I think of her.

On Christmas Eve I wore another white stole, one that was part of my "hope chest." It had been given to me by Vyolene Henry, a dear woman of the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Los Angeles (the old cathedral, long since replaced with a bank). Her birthday was Christmas and I remember when we had dinner with her on Christmas Eve many years ago. She gave me the stole before I was even fully in the "process." When I put it on last week it was to honor and give thanks for her.

Everything comes with a story. In a few moments I am going to eat the unshaped cookie, the one made with the last bit of dough rolled out and untrimmed. I shall eat it in honor of my oldest nephew, who never cared what shape his cookies were when he was a child, and in honor of my Aunt Ruby Victoria who died this week, and in honor of Kazan the cookie-loving dog with whom I shared my pepper cookies.

I hope you all have been having a blessed Twelve Days of Christmas. Though it is not how I was raised--God knows--I am now quite old-fashioned about the Twelve Days. I don't really begin to enjoy and savor Christmas until the second day. Too much hustle and anxiety until all the Christmas services and Christmas dinner are over. This has been my time and I have enjoyed it very much.

Peace and joy to all.
--the BB

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Maddy announces the new total!

Especially for our extremely generous American supporters here's a whole load of Iowa crocuses. Evidently today is the day they all come out in Iowa. It will be a good month or so before they start growing in my neck of the woods.

The appeal total now stands at:


Don't forget that we close the PayPal facility at midnight on this coming Sunday. Then we will wait a week for any last minute cheques to turn up. We really must hit the $7500 mark but there's still a teeny weeny bit of hope deep down in my pessimistic soul that thinks there's just a chance we could do better.

The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

The new motto is:
Thanks to all who have donated.-
-the BB

Thursday Constitution blogging

Article I.

Section. 7.

Clause 2: Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

The term "pocket veto" refers to that last phrase. As the Senate web site describes it:
pocket veto - The Constitution grants the President 10 days to review a measure passed by the Congress. If the President has not signed the bill after 10 days, it becomes law without his signature. However, if Congress adjourns during the 10-day period, the bill does not become law.
Last Friday jerkwad [one of his more printable official titles at this site] declared that the defense authorization bill was dead by pocket veto.

The alleged objection, as reported by the Washington Post:
Although the president objected to some details in the bill that authorizes major military programs, his aides said he does not seek to reopen those debates. But he said a provision that would permit plaintiffs' lawyers to freeze Iraqi funds would do intolerable harm to the country's reconstruction efforts and the United States' relationship with Iraq.
WaPo also notes: "To block efforts by Congress to challenge the pocket veto, however, Bush is also going the traditional route, sending over to Congress his veto message and the unsigned bill."

Paul Kiel, at TPM, writes the following:
Congress will just have to start over. Keep in mind that the bill passed both houses with veto-proof majorities.

But, as Kagro X at Daily Kos first pointed out, there's a problem with that. Though the president said that "adjournment of Congress" allowed him to pocket veto, Congress was not, in fact, in adjournment.

To prevent administration monkey business during the holiday recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) kept the Senate in pro forma session throughout. By keeping the Senate nominally in session (someone shows up for a few minutes every third day), Reid stifled the administration's desire for a bunch of recess appointments.
The White House response? Kiel again: "True, the Senate was in session, they say. But we sent the president's veto to the House, and they were in recess. So voila! pocket veto!"

We seem to have some hair splitting going on here. The maladministration says that the House was not in session and it is the house in which, like all funding bills, it originated. Both true. But the Constitution speaks not of an individual house but of Congress being adjourned. And the Senate was kept in pro forma session. On the face of it, I think one has to give this one to Congress and not the White House since Congress was not fully adjourned.

This may go to the courts.

The constitutional questions aside, I, at least, cannot avoid suspicions that there may be other reasons for objecting to this law. It is, after all, the DEFENSE appropriations bill that Bush has been having hissyfits about getting to his desk. It does not contain any binding language about withdrawals etc., so the Dems have rolled over once more. It does have elements designed to support the troops beyond what the White House would do (but can any rational person believe the White House gives a damn about the troops?).

Steve Benen had this to say last Friday:
This is just bizarre. If the provision of the bill was so offensive, why didn’t the White House, which was aware of the legislation’s progress as it passed, say something sooner?

In the process, Bush has rejected a pay raise for the troops, VA care for wounded veterans, a new “Truman Commission” to fight fraud and waste by military contractors, and expanded job protections for family members of severely wounded troops.
John Aravosis focused on it this way:
Part of what troubled Bush about the legislation is that it would permit US troops to seek compensation for having been tortured by Saddam during the first Gulf War.
Digby had a more suspicious commenter over at her place:
Re: your post "Where Will It End?" I suspect that the key to the pocket veto has nothing to do with Iraqi assets. Rather, it is contained a little line buried in the last paragraph of the Memorandum of Disapproval: "... I continue to have serious objections to other provisions of this bill, including section 1079 relating to intelligence matters . . ."

What is in 1079 you ask? A provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to make available to the Congressional intelligence committees, upon the request of the chair or ranking minority member, "any existing intelligence assessment, report, estimate, or legal opinion," within certain conditions. See here.(I don't know if that link will continue to work...but you can requery HR 1585 yourself if it is broken by the time you write this.)

What specifically does Bush fear must be turned over? It's hard to say.

Waterboarding legal opinions? Opinions or other documents related to the torture tapes? Something related to the recent Iran 180? Who knows. It's also not clear to me what this language adds, since Congress already should have the inherent and statutory power to subpeona these materials. I'd have to look further into it.
All very curious.

Well, I must say that the Constitution is more interesting than I thought it was in high school. My apologies to Mr. Sawyers who tried to teach us something about political science.

For a look at how the presiden't "pocket veto" affects our troops, check out georgia10's post on the Army's halting of bonus payments. Marcy Wheeler also looks at the nonsense in Emperor Hissyfit's rationale for not signing it in this article.
--the BB

"Where the hell is our outrage?"

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. (Ephesians 4:25-28)

I am not at all surprised that a fuss is made about John Edwards being characterized as “angry.” We all recall what happened to Howard Dean when he demonstrated passion four years ago. “Omigod, bar the gates, there’s a madman on the loose!” I loved that he vocalized excitement and passion in front of a crowd of eager supporters but it was characterized as some kind of out-of-control emotional extreme of the sort that “just isn’t done.” I doubt that any horses were startled but the media establishment was, for a moment, startled out of its mindless torpor and the herd mentality took its revenge.

Scott Galindez at Truthout writes:
The corporate media over the last couple of months has been pushing a notion that John Edwards sounds "angry". Are we witnessing another attempt to take down a candidate that threatens the corporate power structure?

John Edwards is angry and he has every right to be. All Americans should be angry at what is going on in our country. Our treasure is being sacrificed in an illegal unjust war in Iraq. Our jobs are being exported overseas. Health care costs are rising while wages decline. Our civil liberties have been threatened by an administration that thinks it is above the law.
I see Edwards as expressing the view of many patriotic Americans who are fed up with corporate control of our government. It is only the corporate media that is trying to tell the American people Edwards's message is angry and un-presidential.

I see in Edwards the kind of anger that fires a passion for justice on behalf of others. I see in Bush the kind of anger that is petty, petulant, and self-centered. You tell me whose style is more “presidential.”

For a bit of context, we can turn to an outstanding capitalist, Lee Iacocca.
Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. [emphasis mine]

That is from an excerpt of his 2007 book Where Have All the Leaders Gone? He wrote it with Catherine Whitney and it is published by Scribner.

Iacocca also says (and since the excerpt is online to tout his book I feel I can share more):
Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them—or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.

And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.

Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?
Some words of Edwards:
Here's what's happened corporate greed and political calculation have taken over our government and sold out the middle class. Washington isn't looking out for the middle class because Washington doesn't work for the middle class anymore ... that is wrong. It doesn't say life, liberty and the pursuit of endless corporate profit in the Declaration of Independence. America is about opportunity for you ... and your families, your children. But our government is selling out their future at the command of lobbyists and their corporate clients and we have to rise up together and stop it. We have to rise up and say, no more. Not on our watch.
Makes me think of FDR changing the course of America after the robber barons had enjoyed their heyday. A, if not THE, driving passion of the neocons is reversing everything FDR did in the New Deal so that America will once again serve corporate interests instead of the common weal of the People. Deregulation, privatization, tax breaks for the wealthy, free reign for the rich and powerful to become more so at the expense of all the rest. We are witnessing the intentional destruction of the middle class. It has happened repeatedly in history and it means the elimination of the educated and moderately prosperous forces who have the leisure to plan, organize, and resist tyranny, oligarchy, and monopoly. When folks give all their attention and energy to mere survival, they cannot easily resist the powerful.

Randi Rhodes has a great comment on the anomaly that corporations are treated in our legal system as having the status of persons. "If corporations were persons they would get colonoscopies." [quoted from memory of a speech she gave]

If we are to consider corporations as "persons" before the law, then I like to think of verse 28 above in terms of corporations: "Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy." I do not mean some token donations they can use as tax deductions either but serious contribution to society. Oh hell, how about paying their share of the cost of a healthy and strong society in a chunk of taxes that would do more good in social services than in enriching their already-wealthy CEOs?

The passage from Ephesians calls for speaking truth. It also allows a role for anger, not to consume us (we aren't to go to bed with anger eating away at our heart), but so that we give no room to the devil. The devil is "the accuser" who will remind us of all our own failings and tell us we have no right to be angry, no right to stand up for ourselves and others. The devil will tell us to STFU and remain docile, passive, oppressed, betrayed, abused, manipulated, and ignored. Meanwhile evil can flourish, injustice prevail, and the worship of Mammon and Moloch proceed undisturbed. Let's be "bipartisan" and thus unable to do anything of substance. Don't rock the boat, don't mess with the status quo.

I say, Get your mad on. Get angry. Stand up. Speak out. Fight for our nation--not on distant battlefields but here at home, in forums large and small, letters to the editor and to congresscritters, petitions, water cooler discussions, and in the voting booth. We the People have a nation to win back from those who only want to use us instead of serve us.

Hooray for John Edwards and for the passion that fires him! I'm angry too and I don't intend to get over it.

Note: While I personally prefer Edwards over the other candidates I am in no way associated with his campaign and these comments reflect my thoughts only.
--the BB

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


It's very easy to use Paypal. I just clicked on through and added my third pittance. Small donations add up and every donation counts!


Mad Priest provides this update:

This dog is very happy. His friend, Joe, the little Dachshund puppy, has been saved from a squishing by the incredible generosity of the OCICBW... community.

The appeal total now stands at:


Which is a bit good. Especially as I think Lisbeth has found some money in a jacket pocket that I don't think has been included yet.

We received the following email from Our Man in Rio today:

Elizabeth and Jonathan, congratulations for the almost 7000 dollar mark... That will surely help Christ the King... 13,000 reais is really a lot of money for that community (it is actually almost 2 years of pledging there).

Blessings in Christ.

Don't forget that we close the PayPal facility at midnight on this coming Sunday. Then we will wait a week for any last minute cheques to turn up. We really must hit the $7500 mark but there's still a teeny weeny bit of hope deep down in my pessimistic soul that thinks there's just a chance we could do better.

The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

And don't forget to DONATE.

And if possible, advertise the appeal on your own sites as this belongs to all of us.


--the BB

How far have we come?

I would like to paste in the entire article since it dates back three years but to stay within fair use will only use a sample.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A reported U.S. plan to keep some suspected terrorists imprisoned for a lifetime even if the government lacks evidence to charge them in courts was swiftly condemned on Sunday as a "bad idea" by a leading Republican senator.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it was unwilling to set free or turn over to U.S. or foreign courts, the Washington Post said in a report that cited intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.

Some detentions could potentially last a lifetime, the newspaper said.

Influential senators denounced the idea as probably unconstitutional.

"It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this," Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on "Fox News Sunday."
[Emphasis mine]

So, how's that Gitmo thing working for you?

The world was still reeling from the tsunami that had just hit.

We were still trying to grasp the enormity of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina four months earlier (not to mention the destruction of buffering wetlands for development and the inadequate maintenance on the levees, neither of which were acts of God).
This photo from the Lower Ninth Ward was in an article by the Rude Pundit who had just visited New Orleans. Rebuilding is still going on today and there is so much more yet to be done.

How about this excerpt from an article?
The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the "national security" the law did not apply.
While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law.
(a) In its attempt to implement instructions to protect the security of the United States, the intelligence community engaged in some activities which violated statutory law and the constitutional rights of American citizens.
(b) Legal issues were often overlooked by many of the intelligence officers who directed these operations. Some held a pragmatic view of intelligence activities that did not regularly attach sufficient significance to questions of legality. The question raised was usually not whether a particular program was legal or ethical, but whether it worked.
(c) On some occasions when agency officials did assume, or were told, that a program was illegal, they still permitted it to continue. They justified their conduct in some cases on the ground that the failure of "the enemy" to play by the rules granted them the right to do likewise, and in other cases on the ground that the "national security" permitted programs that would otherwise be illegal.
(d) Internal recognition of the illegality or the questionable legality of many of these activities frequently led to a tightening of security rather than to their termination. Partly to avoid exposure and a public "flap," knowledge of these programs was tightly held within the agencies, special filing procedures were used, and "cover stories" were devised.
(e) On occasion, intelligence agencies failed to disclose candidly their programs and practices to their own General Counsels, and to Attorneys General, Presidents, and Congress.
(f) The internal inspection mechanisms of the CIA and the FBI did not keep -- and, in the case of the FBI, were not designed to keep -- the activities of those agencies within legal bounds. Their primary concern was efficiency, not legality or propriety.
(g) When senior administration officials with a duty to control domestic intelligence activities knew, or had a basis for suspecting, that questionable activities had occurred, they often responded with silence or approval. In certain cases, they were presented with a partial description of a program but did not ask for details, thereby abdicating their responsibility. In other cases, they were fully aware of the nature of the practice and implicitly or explicitly approved it.

Any of that sound contemporary? Well, the section above was taken from the findings of the 1974 Church Committee. Some of us are old enough to remember it. The report is titled "Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans." DBJ wrote about it at Daily Kos two years ago today.

How are you feeling about your rights these days? Do you trust the government of the United States to uphold your rights? Do you think the White House or the Department of Justice believe in the Constitution? Really? May I interest you in some investment opportunities in Tooth Fairy, Inc.?

How about this bit from tag team at Daily Kos?
Recently I listened to Mike Malloy who was subbing in for Randi Rhodes during her vacation. In the course of one of his rants, Malloy went off on how U.S. policies during the 80s and 90s decimated the Iraq middle class. Without a middle class, he suggested, Saddam was free to run amok, terrorizing his people. Malloy noted that only a middle class could rise up and slaughter Hussein. The poor, so consumed with day to day survival, can't think about or plan a revolt against a dictator. The upper class, so comfortable and, often, so connected or beholden to the dictator, won't free themselves from the velvet trap. But the middle class, educated and informed, with a full belly and a roof over their heads, has time and ability to dream about how things can be better. They can and do plan and execute revolts.

That got me the same thing going on in our country right now? Are we seeing a winnowing of the middle class? A strapping of the middle class? An exhausting of the middle class so that we'll have a time when we don't have anyone who can stand up to a dictator and a ruling corporate class?
Oh, and there were 13 car bombs in Iraq on New Year's Day.
Today's post by Juan Cole has this double headline:
36 Dead in Baghdad Bombing;
23,000 Civilians Killed in 07

Devilstower was speculating about how Jim Baker might be feeling:
Those of us who have protested the idiocy in Iraq from even before the first hint of "Shock" or the first glimpse of "Awe" know what it is to have the spittle of the Bush administration running down our faces. We know how it feels to be told we're on the side of Saddam and Osama. We know how it feels to be told our view doesn't count, that we're not real Americans.

But for the guy who dragged Bush's lazy ass from Florida to the White House, that big loogie right between the eyes has to be a surprise.

Less than a month ago, the Iraq Study Group issued its report calling for, among other things, a phased reduction of US troops with emphasis on training Iraqis, substantive talks with Iraq's neighbors, and diversion of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to help save an increasingly difficult situation in that country. Since then, the decider has had a tough time making, you know, a decision. But after talking to his buds and cutting a few cords of brush, he's come to a decision.

The decision, Jimmy, is that you're as stupid as the rest of us. In talks with the BBC a Bush administration official has indicated that not only will there be no serious talks with Syria and Iran, and not only will Bush be calling for an escalation of the war in Iraq, but he's not intending to devote any additional troops to training. Rather than take the one step that might eventually lend some modicum of progress, Bush is going to deliver a half hour address "explaining in detail" how another 20 or 30 thousand troops, doing the same thing that they're doing now, is the way to go.
The Euro surpassed the dollar.

John Edwards announced his candidacy. Note the setting as reported through scanman1722:
In announcing his candidacy from the rubble of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Edwards has sent a tremendous and seemingly unprecedented signal to not only Democrats, but also Americans in general. Unlike other candidates in past who have announced in news conference friendly settings or in front on cheering supporters waving political signs, Edwards announced wearing jeans and blue collared shirt in front of a house he had spent the previous day helping rebuild and with community members (almost all of whom were African American) who had been the victims of not only a natural disaster of an amazing scale, but also the victims of yet another failure of the administration and policies of George W. Bush.
Was that "the rubble of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans"? Over a year after Katrina? Oh, that's right! They are still cleaning up.

So, how are we doing?
--the BB

Belated prayer blogging

With the holiday whirl I have been losing track of the days (and what's my excuse the rest of the time?), so I failed to do Tuesday prayer blogging yesterday. Mes apologies!

As my act of reparation I took a little tour in Massey Shepherd's A Companion of Prayer for Daily Living. I came across a prayer by Abp. William Laud. It seems well suited for the present day. The language is mostly familiar, though the version in the BCP is slightly altered.

William Laud (feast day January 10) [from Wikipedia]

Gracious Father, I humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church: Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is in want, furnish it; where it is divided and rent asunder, make up the breaches of it, O thou Holy One of Israel. Amen.

--the BB

On the ninth day of Christmas

The Nine Ladies Stone Circle lies at the centre of Stanton Moor in the Peak District. This stone circle lies within a small circular bank. Nine upright stones (some actually leaning) lie on the inner perimeter of the bank, a tenth stone (prone) lies on the bank. Another standing stone, known as the King Stone, stands on its own to the south-east. It is one of a series of ancient monuments, built 3-4,000 years ago in the Bronze Age, which are spread across Stanton Moor. These stones are probably only a small part of what was once some sort of ceremonial area. Protestors have had a camp established in the area for some time, as plans to re-use an old quarry in the area threaten the sanctity of the stones.

From Proudly Wiccan

This morning I was given this glorious sunrise (viewed from my home office window)

Excerpt from The Hymn to the Dawn (Darkslayer, unpublished):

My heart’s desire mounts the heavens
The fire of love floods the world with light
Birds announce your coming while the veil of night
Still covers the land and earth slumbers
You shatter the darkness, scattering shadows
All things bathe in your glory
© 2007 Paul E Strid
--the BB

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On the eighth day of Christmas

Photo courtesy of BBC
(look out, another Tyneside chap off his chump)

This afternoon I met a friend to see The Kite Runner, a fascinating movie about family, friendship, secrets, betrayal, and redemption. It is set in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Fremont, California (aka "Little Kabul") with some scenes in Peshawar, Pakistan. I will say no more. It is an extraordinary film. You can read more about it, its filming and actors, at Wikipedia.

The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

Mad Priest is getting tough on the Christmas Appeal.
Yesterday, taking a leaf out of the book of the great Reverend Oral Hygiene, we promised you unimaginable riches in return for your donations. Four very generous and very foolish people fell for that scam, including myself, and the appeal total now stands at:


Brilliant! But I'm afraid it is still not enough.
So here is another incentive.

What can I say? Click, donate, save the puppy!

And do something wonderful for the children of Cidade de Deus through the ministry of the Anglican Church of Christ the King.

Happy New Year, Circumcision of Christ, Solemnity of the Mother of God, Holy Name Day!
--the BB

Beryl nails it!

Beryl "the Brick" comments at Fr. Jake's place on Cantuar's New Year address:
I just read it, too, and I am hoping against hope that he means that human relationships, between Episcopalians and Anglicans, are too important to discard. I am hoping again that those at the "top," archbishops and bishops, and priests, are recognizing that it is RELATIONSHIP that is important. God's relationship with us, through Jesus Christ, is grounded in love, and is not about righteousness and rules, and our relationship one with another must also be grounded in His Love. In such love, we do not turn away from one another; we do not decide who does or does not come to join us at the altar; and we do not decide who does or not take part in all the sacraments. It is all a sacred trust given to us so graciously, and there is no one who is to be turned away or "discarded." At least I hope that's what the archbishop meant. Do you think I should write and ask if that's what he meant?
Emphasis is mine. Leonardo Ricardo responds:

I nominate (from the Global Center) beryl Simkins for ++Archbishop of Canterbury (and +Turlock of course)

Thank you, Beryl, for bringing to us a gracious and hope-filled message with which to begin 2008.
--the BB

Monday, December 31, 2007

A very special thanksgiving

Thirty years ago tonight, shortly after midnight, I met someone who turned out to be my very best friend. I will be joining him at a party tonight in about one hour.

I just want to say a special thanks to God. I am very blessed.

--the BB