Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sunday reflections

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

CRUX fidelis,
inter omnes
arbor una nobilis;
nulla talem silva profert,
flore, fronde, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulci clavo,
dulce pondus sustinens!

above all other,
one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peers may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest Weight is hung on thee!
--Venantius Fortunatus, tr. Edward Caswall

Sticking with the classics tonight.
--the BB

We gather and make Eucharist

It's what we Episcopalians do. At this moment the dismissal hymn is being sung in Hanford, California by the Episcopalians of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Scene at the end of the First Lesson
Remain Episcopal Eucharist

I am so proud of them, the battered yet faithful. I grieve for the alienated. I pray for all the injured, all the angry, all the frustrated, all the bewildered.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Let's keep the prayers coming!

[Kirstin gently pointed out that I originally typed "love and save the Lord." Well, perhaps there is an element of saving our Lord's reputation in a world abused with bad images of Him.]
--the BB

This is just too funny

W. H. D. Koerner's painting: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

George W. Bush was under the impression that this painting was titled "A Charge to Keep" and used that as the title of his autobiography. However...

It is not a painting of a missionary spreading the gospel but an illustration for a story about a horse thief making his way out of town. Too delicious.

Eli at Firedoglake comments:
Only George W. Bush could look at a con man and see a righteous Christian crusader and kindred spirit. Well, Bush and about 60 million American voters. I think they're starting to catch on, though.
Read the whole article. One can only hope the American People wake up and realize the doofus in the Oval Office is not a crusader, he's a liar and thief.

Fran gives me too much credit. You can read the full tale here (Scott Horton in Harper's, 1/23/2008) and an earlier reporting on the painting here (Sidney Blumenthal writing in Salon om 2007: "From Norman Rockewll to Abu Ghraib").
--the BB

And the Ukrainian team makes 40!

I have posted these before but it seems an appropriate moment to share once more these pysanky that I made last spring. The one in the upper left is in the parlor that serves as my home chapel; the others are in various homes.

Welcome to the Ukrainian visitor who brings our flag collection up to forty. Nice to have you here.

Yes, I realize that I should have put the graphic in Ukrainian instead of Russian but I don't have a Ukrainian dictionary sitting next to the computer and I do have a Russian one. My apologies for not being precise this time around.

Welcome to all the citizens of the world.

Update: Fran, if you and Mark can send me the proper Ukrainian for "Hello" or "Welcome," I will be more than happy to do it right. We're tryin' here, folks.
--the BB

Moving Forward, Welcoming All

Today, Saturday, January 26 , Remain Episcopal will be hosting the Moving Forward, Welcoming All conference being held at Church of the Savior, Hanford, California. You may read about it at Episcopal Life Online.

It will also be videocast beginning at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Check out Remain Episcopal. You may donate to them through Paypal. Lots of information and discussion concerning the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Joaquin may be found at Father Jake Stops the World.

Please hold all the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin in your prayers today. May the Holy Spirit guide and heal all the scattered sheep. May faith, hope, and love overflow. May those who gather today be given discernment to know what things they ought to do to rebuild the church in Central California. Grace will abound. May all feel and know it.

God, our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity, new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity; that the eternal message of thy Son, undefiled by human traditions, may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through him who maketh all things new, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Percy Dearmer

--the BB

Why Republicans should NOT be in charge of foreign policy

Res ipsa loquitur.
--the BB

Friday, January 25, 2008

"And it was one big lie."

Bill Moyers' Journal speaks to the issue of the administration's lies, carefully orchestrated to lead us into an unnecessary, counterproductive, and--I would argue--illegal and immoral war.

That these war criminals are shameless enough to appear in public is simply astonishing. That we allow them to is scandalous.

Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for speaking up.

Would that the corporately controlled media would pick this up and run with it.

Madame Speaker, put impeachment back on the table now or admit that you have no more sense of law, morals, or shame than Bush and his henchpersons.

Check out the lies for yourself here.

h/t to Hoffmania
--the BB

Move over, Jack Benny

A visitor from the Philippines brings our flag total up to 39.


The Asian Commission of the Diocese of California also provided the opportunity for me to get to know Fr. Bayani Rico and the Church of St Martin and the Holy Child in Daly City where a thriving Filipino Episcopal community worshiped. Then, in a doctoral seminar, I got to know Bishop Bart Espotero of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church, in communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion).

Through my cousin's wife I learned to love lumpia. Yum!

A family tale:
Dan brought his lovely bride-to-be to California to get married. She stayed with us, my mother being the sort of matriarch who would look after a young woman in a strange country. It was Thanksgiving week. Mother called the offices of the Roman Catholic diocese to inquire about getting these young Catholics wed. So sorry, no can do, all closed down for the holidays, paperwork, etc.

They did not realize it was my mother calling. Silly folk.

She informed them that this girl's parents had entrusted their good Catholic daughter to her for an honorable marriage and she intended to see that happen and if the Catholic Church would not look after their own she would turn to Protestants. They were married the day after Thanksgiving in the diocesan chapel. I have never, before or since, seen a wedding arranged in the space of two days.

Slow blogging day but I was taken out to dinner by my best friend on this, my saint's day (Feast of the Conversion of St Paul: a lovely time for the fattening of sinner Paul).

Speaking of slow blogging, I have begun some overdue paperwork. "Shoveled" scattered papers into a couple of boxes, took them down by the kitchen table, put the paper shredder nearby, and began to sort and toss. Some order may yet come out of my chaos. Who knows? I may be able to find all the papers I need for taxes before April rolls around. I may get books put back on the shelves whence I took them. I may be able to organize the revision of my novel. All sorts of wonderful things might happen... provided I spend less time on the internet. Don't plan to disappear, just ease up a bit.

I do hope you have all begun a wonderful and restorative weekend.
--the BB

A buddy's birthday coming up

Vibol Peou turns 24 this coming Sunday, so here's a shout out to him. He built the website for St Cuddy's. I just want to wish him a great celebration and a fabulous year ahead.

--the BB

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's January; let's head south!

Right at this moment I am on the verge of shivering, even as I hear the fans spreading heat from the furnace about the upstairs rooms. And I just confessed to my fondness of lying in the sun.

So how perfect is it that today's latest visitors are Jamaica and México? I am so ready to hit the beaches! I have plenty of time. Of course, being unemployed also implies that I don't have plenty of money. So I remain where I am and journey in my mind.

My physical flag collections includes both these countries. I have a small Jamaican flag and a large Mexican one.

My visits to México have been limited in geographic scope. Twice we went to Puerto Vallarta, vacations designed strictly for unwinding--pretending we were vegetables on the solar grill. Baste me, turn me over now and again.... And the finest, freshest Piña Coladas on earth. Yum. Getting home with art and furniture on one of those trips would be a narration for its own blog post. Then there have been several trips to the Distrito Federal and Mexico City. On a couple of those I/we visited Cuernavaca and Taxco. And one trip involved a week living with friends in a small pueblo outside Colima by the name of Suchitlán. I love México and the Mexican people. ¡Ojalá que yo pueda visitar allí muchas veces más!

Welcome to my mosaic of a neighborhood. Please come again and leave comments.
--the BB

Friday prince blogging

Grand Ducal Arms of Luxembourg (from Wikipedia)

Before I introduce this Friday's prince, I have a little story. In the first and fourth quarters of the grand ducal arms above you will see a crowned red lion rampant on a barry (horizontally striped) field argent and azure (silver and blue). This is the civil ensign of Luxembourg, familiar to me as the flag that flew on the Star Clipper, the tall-masted ship on which my ex and I sailed about the "treasure islands" of the Caribbean one January. Ignoring my bouts of sea sickness on the last two days (and I know most incarnationally what "blow chunks" means), the sight of it brings back pleasant memories. Of course, I am the type that could spend a great many days lying in the sun with great contentment. Feed me occasionally, hydrate me often, keep loud noises away... ahh! Bliss.

His Royal Highness the Hereditary Grand Duke
of Luxembourg, Prince Guillaume

May I present to the august personages of blogtopia (™ skippy the bush kangaroo) Prince Guillaume Jean Joseph Marie, Hereditary Grand Duke (i.e., designated heir) of Luxembourg. Prince Guillaume was born November 11, 1981. He is the eldest child of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, an heir of the House of Nassau. (Wikipedia is the source of the info here.)

There is another Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg, his uncle.

This Prince Guillaume attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and has studied at the University of Durham. He has studied international politics and geopolitics.

Ladies, there is hope. Prince Guillaume dated a Norwegian young lady for a year but is currently, so far as I can tell, unattached for the past several years.

I believe he will be paying attention on February 3 when the Giants play the Patriots in Arizona.*
Guillaume is interested in music and sports; he plays piano and enjoys soccer, swimming and volleyball. He speaks Luxembourgish, French, German, Spanish and English. He regularly represents his parents in many foreign activities. He also has a passionate love for the sport of American football and is a fan of the New York Giants.
His siblings are Prince Felix, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra, and Prince Sebastien.

Prince Guillaume, one of the world's
eligible bachelors

Prince Louis, Guillaume's brother,
who renounced claims to the throne
for himself and his heirs.
I think this photo explains why.

Prince Felix, another royal brother

Prince Guillaume goes postal

Le Grand Duc Jean (Guillaume's grandfather, who abdicated in favor of his son Henri), Le Grand Duc Henri, La Grande Duchesse Maria Teresa, SAR Prince Guillaume, le Roi Albert II et la Reine Paola de Belgique

The Grand Ducal Family

Promoting business in Luxembourg

Making an appearance in Belgium

Prince Guillaume

--the BB
* [Ha! Bet you thought I was too caught up in ecclesiastical trivia and linguistic minutiae to know who was playing the Superbowl, didn't ya?]


I was just pointed to this from a comment thread at Fr. Jake's.
Check out the close-up where one should see the bishop's name.

Should give John-David some pause, I would think.
--the BB

Anyung haseo!

All right, I have no idea how to transliterate Korean and I don't read Hangul script.

Greetings, nonetheless, to our first visitor from South Korea!

Alas, my Korean vocabulary is limited to hello, goodbye, and thank you. Still, that worked in the grocery store down the block from the church in Oakland.

I was privileged, through the Asian Commission of the Diocese of California (yes, ACDC is the acronym, though we did not cut any records), to meet Fr. Andrew Shin, who is now the Anglican Bishop of Taejon in South Korea. He is a sweet and loving man. It was great fun watching him and Fr. Gordon Lau teasingly debate Chinese and Korean culture and history. Would that all our cultural and ethnic divides could be recognized and bridged so graciously!

While I could not find much about Bp. Shin online this morning (the Province of Korea has not updated their website in almost a decade), I note that he is a member of the Ekklesia Society, along with much of the Global South. This may well be an expected role he has to play. Nonetheless, I know I have a friend in Korea and this gives me a chance to remember him.

Thinking of Korea also brings to mind the dance performed by a classmate in a course on Contemporary Asian Theology at the Franciscan School for Theology in Berkeley. It was a drum dance serving as a prelude to worship. Stunning. Beautiful. Sacred. I learned of the perduring element of shamanism in Korean culture and its integration into Christian faith and practice. (Perhaps like the influence of the earth-centered Celtic tradition in the West?).

Peace to all the peoples of Korea, North and South. I look forward to the day the country can be reunited.
--the BB

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thursday Constitution Blogging

This one's for you Senate Majority Leader and Madame Speaker:

Article. VI.

Clause 3:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

That, like the presidential oath, lies at the core of their duties. Whatever else the members of the House and Senate are supposed to do, and they have many critical things they are supposed to do, the preeminent responsibility is to support the Constitution of the United States of America.

I wish they’d get off their asses and start doing it.

UPDATE at 11:51 p.m.:
Jane at Firedoglake has some pertinent comments.
Well you know, the way to not "step on the message" of bipartisan unity is also for the fucking Republicans to join them in voting for the criminal contempt citations, but everyone knows that's not going to happen. Because Republicans don't do that.

Can someone explain to me how "bipartisan" ever means anything but giving the wingnuts what they want so they don't pitch a bitch in the corner?

Hell, just go read the context and try not to puke (and good luck with that).

Yes, I'm having whatever the disgust equivalent of a hissyfit is today. As a body the congressional Dems come across as a pack of tiny dogs that yap a lot but never bite, annoy the hell out of everyone, and wet themselves if you say "boo!." I feel like firing the lot of them. They need a serious "come to Jesus" talk and it's up to Us the People to give it to them.

[I know, I'm tarring them all with one brush: a sign of serious frustration.]
—the BB

Stand by your blog vicar!-Updated

As FranIAm put it, "He lives! Praise God. The flap is over and MP will continue to enlighten, enliven and occasionally annoy from OCICBW."

Mad Priest began today with this, much to our relief:
Okay, my friends. Panic over.

In fact, I feel a little disappointed. My ego has been dented. They had received only three ANONYMOUS complaints (I would have thought I was worth more than that). One about me putting swear words into Benny's mouth, one about the unnamed Bishop of Horsham and one about me saying that Muhammad had committed genocide and enslaved Jewish women and children and taken one Jewish teenager as his own concubine (which is out of the Islamic history books). To be honest they were more worried about me being blown up than they were about anything else. No conditions were placed on the continuation of the blog. I was given the facts and, obviously, I have to decide for myself how to proceed. That is a very adult and civilised way of doing things. I am fine with it.

On a personal note, the only thing I'm disappointed with is that they don't seem to be able to discern how a priest who is able to put together a blog like this could be used in the diocese - possibly in respect of some sort of emerging church project. It still looks like I'll be packed off to the middle of nowhere, to a church with a regular congregation of about 20 and no toilet (let alone a hall). To even get to the first stages of mission in such a place will take years of paperwork and money raising and I'm an ideas person not an accountant (not even an accountant who has ideas).

Anyway, enough about me - let the game continue.


Our friend and online vicar, Jonathan (aka Mad Priest, as it flatters his ego), has put up a cryptic post. It seems related to church politics on his local level. Major prayer vigils going on. Hold him with love before God, my friends. He has gathered a global community of God's odd children, introduced us to each other, entertained us, provoked us, informed us, challenged us, driven us more than half crazy with terrible "Christmas" "music," and generally done a lot of Holy Ghost work on the internet. He has created a safe place to be lovingly, creatively, and passionately outrageous... and in the process to grow in grace.

The agenda from my part is first and foremost just to keep in touch though I would like to talk about your internet work too.

Thursday 9.00 a.m.

Pray for the future of OCICBW...

For those who Influence Public Opinion

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those who suffer for the sake of Conscience
O God our Father, whose Son forgave his enemies while he was suffering shame and death: Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience; when they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair; and to us your servants, give grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened. This we ask for the sake of Jesus Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen.

[Not that I wish to invoke images of prison but I do think the collect remains apt. OCICBW]
--the BB

The grandfather of lies jumps into the fray

Yes, hell's own firstborn, Lord Cheney, is out there fighting for the WH version of FISA legislation, with that all-important telcom immunity. For your own safety, of course.

As BarbinMD concludes the fresh post in which she dissects Cheney's attempts to mislead:
Who knew? Only immunity for the companies that broke the law will prevent another 9/11. Of course it will also prevent the American people from ever learning the scope of the warrantless, illegal, domestic spying by this administration. And that of course is the whole point.

Read it all here.
--the BB

Aw frack!

David Kurtz writes this at TPM:
The handwriting has been on the wall for some time, but it now seems certain that Senate Democrats will pass a new FISA bill that contains retroactive immunity for telecoms, shielding them from lawsuits over their cooperation with the Bush Administration in its far-reaching warrantless wiretapping program.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have decided to postpone any vote on holding Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt for their refusal to testify to Congress about the White House role in the U.S. attorney purge.

[I invite you to imagine a long string of extremely foul, obscene, bitter, and very angry invective at this point. Thank you. Spares me flaming my keyboard.]

We not only need to elect more progressive, reality-based legislators, we need to toss a bunch of DINOs out on their ears.

*DINO = Democrat in name only

WTF is wrong with these people? WTF are they doing in office anyway? Grrrrrrrrrrr.

You can read more details here where Paul Kiel raises the question "Who has time for contempt?" It seems they care more about "bipartisan unity in the midst of stimulus package talks" than they do about constitutional government.

Would y'all mind if I bitch-slapped the Speaker, Steny Hoyer, and the rest of them from DC back to Hawaii and back again?

Yes, the economy is important! But you didn't take an oath to support the economy. Asshats.

Kagro X shares some snarky disgust on the matter at Daily Kos.

--the BB

About those presidential candidates-multiple updates

Well, the Republicans are a motley crew of walking disasters.

But the Dems have an opportunity to do something really spectacular.

Sen. Dodd cannot fight against telcom immunity and support the rule of law by himself. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards have a chance to DO SOMETHING instead of running around the country talking. Edwards can challenge (and loan his voice) and the other two CAN SPEAK ON THE SENATE FLOOR, FILIBUSTER IF NECESSARY, AND VOTE.

Check out Jane Hamsher on this issue here, or Digby here, or Glenn Greenwald here.

Massimo Calabresi of Time is quoted by Greenwald as saying this:
The bitterest point of contention for Democrats will be the same question that divided them last summer: immunity for telecom companies that complied with Bush Administration requests for access to American phone and e-mail traffic without warrants after 9/11. After news of the Bush program broke, civil liberties groups brought cases against the companies, and since then the telecoms have in some cases refused to help the U.S. intelligence community further. Bush has said he will veto any bill that doesn't grant the telecoms immunity. The Democrats are split on the issue. Smart money bets the Democrats will cave again -- the only question is how much they fight before doing so. [Emphasis by Greenwald, underscored by me putting it in red]

We can register our wishes with the candidates. If they want our votes, they can flipping well earn them!

As Thom Hartmann likes to put it: Tag, you're it. Democracy begins with you.
[I may be misquoting him slightly, but you get the point.]

Jane says this:
You can email Senator Edwards directly at
[I'm not sophisticated enough to make that launch your e-mail but you're clever people.]

Digby says this:
Or you can simply go over to the campaign websites of our two frontrunners and ask them to do it yourself.

Obama Community

Clinton Community

I just sent my comments to all three of them.

Is Harry Reid just selling us down the f**king river?
So Reid is not forcing the Republicans to do their filibustering "in the openness of the Senate", just the Democratic Senators who haven't pocketed money from the Teleco's.

Hubris Sonic discusses this over at Group News Blog and writes that "Greenwald points out this bill will also ensure that Bush gets vast new warrantless eavesdroppings powers and permanent protection from investigation into illegal spying." Lovely.

OK. McJoan over at Daily Kos has an update with this.
Update: Reid's staff e-mails to clarify that his challenge to Senators wishing to "talk this to death" was intended for Republicans who had been insisting on 60 vote majority on FISA votes. That is, Reid told the Republicans that if they want 60 vote threshold they will have to essentially filibuster to do so. Should the votes start tomorrow, I hope he holds that line.
McJoan's earlier post on this is here. In it she wrote:
Last month, we generated over half a million calls and e-mails to Senate offices in support of Senator Dodd's filibuster of telco amnesty. We need to double that number this week. We need to tell our Senators that we stand with the majority of Americans in opposition to amnesty, and they should be more afraid of us voters than of a lame duck, failing president.
I am just very skeptical (many times burned, very shy) and also angry that it has gotten this far. Why Reid spurned a decent committee bill earlier to bring a much inferior one to the floor is a mystery to start with. Whether he actually has any allegiance to the rule of law remains to be seen. I am very disappointed in him these days. He has a chance here to do something good and important. Keep the pressure up.

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake is trying to hold the candidates' feet to the fire:
Dear Senators Obama and Clinton: No Excuses This Time

Update: Emptywheel -- "[A]ny immunity is immunity for those who decided it was a swell idea to illegally wiretap Americans. And that list of people begins with Dick Cheney."

It's looking like the FISA battle could start as early as tonight, but Senate staff are preparing for tomorrow. Which means Chris Dodd will start his filibuster, and both of you will have plenty of time to get back to Capital Hill to help.

Look, Senators. It's not like nobody cares -- polling shows that voters overwhelmingly oppose immunity for telecom companies (PDF), and Credo's action to contact your respective campaigns took down the Obama email servers.
Jane puts it very bluntly and I agree 100%.
Look, you two came back for the farm bill. Our readers are already stocking up on popcorn, and once Dodd takes to the floor we'll be watching things on CSPAN round the clock until it finishes. I think people will notice if you try to do a Pasadena on this one again, and all of the rhetoric you have both been spouting about "change" and standing up to the Bush Administration will be reduced to instant horseshit.

Please get back to DC and do your jobs.
John Edwards today (shared by Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake:
In Washington today, telecom lobbyists have launched a full-court press to win retroactive immunity for their illegal eavesdropping on American citizens. Granting retroactive immunity will let corporate law-breakers off the hook and hamstring efforts to learn the truth about Bush's illegal spying program.

"It's time for Senate Democrats to show a little backbone and stand up to George W. Bush and the corporate lobbyists. They should do everything in their power -- including joining Senator Dodd's efforts to filibuster this legislation -- to stop retroactive immunity. The Constitution should not be for sale at any price."
--the BB

We are all woven together

"Wandering and Weaving" quilt by an Australian artist (source)

Tandaina has a lovely post contemplating how, even when physically isolated, we find ourselves linked through the internet into a global community. The reality is that we are all far more closely and intimately linked than we imagine, but the net has made it more obvious. She also ends with a prayer, and Tandaina offers lovely prayers:

Weaver of Life, God of unity and wholeness to you we give honor, glory, and thanks. For you created all that we see, and all that we cannot see. You in your complete perfection brought forth a universe of such beauty we cannot begin to experience its depth and breadth. And you created us from the dust of stars and placed within our hearts divine sparks. Teach us to see your burning light in one another, teach us to live together as your one holy family. Help us to make this world a place where all may sing with their own voice in divine harmony. Oh God we desire it, as we desire you. Amen.

Get to know Snow on Roses if you don't already. I also highly recommend her post on "Do you love Jesus?" because she articulates so well the objectivity of what we believe, by which I mean that it is grounded in God and not in ourselves, in divine love and faithfulness, not our perceptions, moods, and failures.
--the BB

Most of what [O'Reilly] says is full of crap

John Edwards on Dave Letterman's show. I think the interchange is charming. It gets physical at the end.

h/t to John Aravosis at Americablog
--the BB

Rachel Maddow on John Edwards (Countdown with Keith Olbermann):
Maddow:”…Not only was he the first on talking about the stimulus package, as you mentioned, but he’s also been the populist guy on economics. He’s the guy whose been most willing from the very beginning to actually identify bad guys in the economy. To say, let’s be patriotic about something other than war, let’s be moralistic about something other than sex, let’s talk about corporate irresponsibility and corporations that don’t serve the people who work for them, or the consumers. Let’s actually identify un-American bad behavior in the economy and that kind of, I think, real forceful approach to the issue, is going to place him in good stead right now.” [emphasis mine]
h/t to Logan Murphy at Crooks and Liars
--the BB

For our morning entertainment

“Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursel's as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
And foolish notion”
--Robert Burns

My friend Kathy wrote this morning, saying:
I really enjoying reading your blog first thing every morning. I love the picture of you I have in mind as I read. Is it a mild-mannered priest piously typing away on his computer? No, it's a fiery warrior, standing atop his chair, one foot poised beside his keyboard, his armor gleaming in the morning sunlight, his sword of truth and justice held high!
I roared with laughter at this mental image, but not as much as when she next sent me this:

How I picture you...

Wow. I have a lot to live up to now.

Thought y'all might enjoy the giggle.

Speaking of giggles...

You know how there are moments when something triggers hysterical laughter totally out of proportion, but you just can't stop laughing? Tears stream down your cheeks, you keep doubling over with wild whoops, and, for reasons probably unknown to yourself, all manner of tension is discharged.

I had one of those in the museum in Chartres. Some friends and I had taken the train out of Paris to visit Chartres Cathedral. While there we had lunch in a nearby restaurant and we toured the nearby museum. We saw a suit of armor up close and personal. It was tiny. Now, granted, I am of the hugeous Viking variety, but even the young women in our group towered over the suit of armor. This provided an entirely new image of the medieval knight in shining armor. They must have been, by modern standards, pipsqueaks. Or, at least, this one was.

It just hit me somehow and I became hysterical. The museum guard was concerned, though I doubt I seemed to pose a danger. Unless he feared this madman might run amok.

So I have a counter-image to keep me humble after Kathy's high praise. I know that I am really quite silly.

I do, however, plan to continue battling lies and oppression.
--the BB

Yes, he's a liar. Why won't anyone say so?

The Center for Public Integrity--Investigative Journalism in the Public Interest--has assembled data from two years' worth of statements by key administrative figures beginning with 9/11/2001. They now have a database confirming "false statements."

By Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.

It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose "Duelfer Report" established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq's nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.

In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.
Big duh! say I. Many of us felt they were lying to us (yes, I will use the L-word) back at the time, because they were just not marshaling hard evidence or making a convincing case.

And, in case anyone wonders, I was in favor of dealing militarily with Al Qaeda, bin Laden, and the Taliban in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Pity we didn't pursue that course without being derailed by the Iraq fiasco.

Read it here.

I am glad to see that the New York Times, USA Today, and The Associated Press all took note. Do you think there is a glimmer of hope that the American People will finally recognize that they were systematically lied to?

By the way, impeachment was not put into the Constitution as a process to be invoked only when one thought one had the votes. If an investigation into the lawlessness and malfeasance of these people were actually undertaken, I suspect the revelations would lead to more votes. Just sayin'.
--the BB

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A passing

I am not given to following the doings and mishaps of celebrities. Nonetheless, I was so impressed with the acting of Mr. Leger in Brokeback Mountain that I viewed him as someone developing into a superb performer. I thus note this with sorrow:
Actor Heath Ledger is found dead
38 minutes ago
NEW YORK (AFP) — Australian-born actor Heath Ledger, 28, the co-star of the Oscar-winning movie "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead in his New York residence on Tuesday, police said.
The newspaper quoted officials as saying pills were found near the body, but gave no further details.
AP notes this:
The Australian-born actor was nominated for an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain," where he met his wife, actress Michelle Williams, in 2005. Ledger and Williams had lived in Brooklyn and had a daughter, Matilda, until they split up last year.
For his daughter and all who love him, peace and consolation.

For all who die early in the maelstrom of fame and drugs, Lord, have mercy.

For those who die unnoticed, unrecognized, unmourned, Lord, have mercy.


--the BB

What we might have done instead

Taxpayers in Albuquerque, New Mexico will pay $383.9 million for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

113,120 People with Health Care OR

600,489 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR

10,193 Public Safety Officers OR

7,857 Music and Arts Teachers OR

97,985 Scholarships for University Students OR

47 New Elementary Schools OR

3,917 Affordable Housing Units OR

150,241 Children with Health Care OR

54,841 Head Start Places for Children OR

8,201 Elementary School Teachers OR

7,524 Port Container Inspectors

You may check out your town here.

Remember: Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United States; it had no weapons of mass destruction; it had a (very repressive and brutal, absolutely) secular regime that wanted nothing to do with al Qaeda; it had no connection with 9/11/2001 (the hijackers were mostly Saudi); the White House lied and distorted to gin up this war; this was a preemptive war, something universally condemned by both international law and traditional just war theories; this overthrow of Saddam and establishment of permanent US bases was part of the plan of PNAC (Project for a New American Century) well before 9/11 and Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. were part of this "think tank"; the invasion and occupation of Iraq has enriched companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, etc. in no-bid contracts while Iraq still does not have constant and reliable water and electricity after all this time; there was no plan at the time of invasion for providing order and security once we got there nor for withdrawal. Just sayin'.
--the BB

The Emerald Isle

At some point this evening a visitor from Ireland brought our country total up to thirty-five. A hearty welcome to you. I hope you will visit again (and feel free to comment).

For this do I love Derry,
For its smoothness, for its purity,
Because it is full of white angels

From one end to the other.

--Columcille (St. Columba)

--the BB

Tuesday Prayer Blogging

Dawn Walk, December 23, 2006

Jesus Christ, our Starting Point, our Way, our Goal, look upon us with Thy most gracious eyes, with the eyes of Thy most overcoming pity, with the eyes that recalled St. Peter to himself, to the Communion of Saints, to Thee. Amen.
--Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

From Give us Grace
--the BB

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pentagon reporting 1 in 5 with brain injuries

Crooks and Liars reports the following horrific news:
On The Chris Matthews show, Richard Stengel, the managing editor of TIME gives us a chilling new report that the Pentagon is releasing about the serious head injuries our troops are sustaining in Iraq.

Stengel: When we got into the Iraq war we didn’t know how long it would last. When we got into the Iraq war we didn’t know how much it would cost. It’s lasted longer, it’s cost more than we ever expected. The real toll is coming out now. The Pentagon is releasing a report saying, one in five American serviceman and women who have been in Iraq are coming back with brain injuries. Mild, traumatic brain injuries. More than 250,000 people. That legacy of that will last all of our life times and it’s incalculable.

It is incalculable and unforgivable, but it would appear that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney still sleep very well at night.

It is very difficult to even contemplate this. One among many horrors perpetrated in our name.


For those in the Armed Forces of our Country

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those who suffer from war

Into thy merciful hands, O Father, we commit all who suffer in a world torn by war.  Grant them the continual knowledge of thy presence.  Let not tribulations or distress or persecution or famine of nakedness or peril or sword separate them from the love of Christ.  Bless the very old and the very young; the leaders and the followers; civilians and warriors; doctors and nurses.  Fortify the bereaved, give peace to the dead.  And may the world's agony, which lies upon thy heart, so quicken our conscience and stir up our wills that we may give ourselves unsparingly to the building of righteousness and brotherhood, as true children of our Father and makers of peace, through him who came to redeem all people, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
--John Wallace Suter (1859-1942), alt.

--the BB

For a sister in Christ

I just read in a thread at Jake's place that Grace, an evangelical who persistently yet charitably debates with the liberal crowd there and at OCICBW (maybe other spots as well), is being attacked at Viagraville, being denounced as a heretic. While I disagree with her more often than not, she has never been ungracious, unloving, or intentionally hurtful. MP squabbles with her vociferously. Sometimes she makes me want to scream. Yet she comes from a loving place which tells me we disagree but are not ultimately on opposite sides.

For her courage in trying to bridge a gap that most write off as unbridgeable, for her persistence when rebuffed and her loving desire to denounce no one, I salute Grace. She still comes from positions that I can no longer acknowledge but I am grieved that she is being attacked by those vicious twits (that was a rather mild term and I will let it stand). May Christ uphold all who, with charity and good will, seek to maintain communication among those who find themselves alienated from one another or hostile toward one another.

Grace, may God fill and surround you with peace, joy, and love in this difficult time.

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.
--the BB

The cuts won't be as small. Big whoop.

By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 18, 2:27 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will cut counterterrorism money for police, firefighters and rescue departments next year, but not by as much as it originally proposed.

Next month the White House will request $2.2 billion to help states and cities protect against terrorist attacks in 2009, and not $1.4 billion, an administration aide told Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., on Friday. That would be 10 percent more than the president requested for 2008, but 40 percent less than Congress gave the department this year.

What was that about Dems being soft on terrorism?

Bush never gave a shit about the American people or terrorism (except as a means to power) and never will.

h/t to John Aravosis at Americablog
--the BB

Neither safe nor politic nor popular

On some positions a coward has asked the question is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
– Martin Luther King Jr., November 1967

Lifted wholesale from Meteor Blades' post at Daily Kos.
--the BB

War as an enemy of the poor

Photo source

An excerpt from Dr. King's comments on Vietnam:
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

Read it all here.

A further comment of King's from his speech of November 11, 1967 to the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace [via The Rude Pundit]:
"Now what are some of the domestic consequences of the war in Vietnam? It has made the Great Society a myth and replaced it with a troubled and confused society. The war has strengthened domestic reaction. It has given the extreme right, the anti-labor, anti-Negro, and anti-humanistic forces a weapon of spurious patriotism to galvanize its supporters into reaching for power, right up to the White House. It hopes to use national frustration to take control and restore the America of social insecurity and power for the privileged. When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor can become a leading war hawk candidate for the Presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events..."
Plus ça change....

So many wonderful and challenging postings on this commemoration of Dr. King!

Juan Cole has an extended reflection at Informed Comment. He includes this portion of King's Christmas Sermon, December 24, 1967:
' And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace.

What is the problem?

They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal.

We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.'
[All emphasis in these quotes is mine.]
--the BB

Khartoum reveals its values

Wall Street Journal - 58 minutes ago
AP ANKARA, Turkey -- Sudan's president on Monday defended the appointment of a suspected militia leader accused of atrocities in the Darfur region to a senior government position.

Here we give them the Medal of Freedom.
--the BB

For a good giggle

... and some very good political advice, head on over to Pseudopiskie's place today.
--the BB

Norway makes 34

The flag collection grows as we get a visitor from Norway. How nice to hear from the land of fjords.

Here's a famous Norwegian you might not have read about:
Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930)—one of Norway’s greatest athletes as a young man—became the first person to sail the elusive Northwest Passage and help prove that the frozen Arctic Ocean and no landmass covers the North Pole. He also was first to make the harrowing crossing of Greenland from coast to coast. Unable to pursue exploration of the South Pole, he gave his specially made arctic vessel, the Fram, to countryman Roald Amundsen to take on the challenge.

Nansen’s subsequent contributions to the establishment of an independent Norway qualifies him as a Norwegian founding father, and has made him an internationally known statesman. Nansen used his position of leadership to save hundreds of thousands of forgotten victims of World War I and refugees of the Armenian genocide, earning him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. [from Home at First Vacations]

A more recent Norwegian athlete is cross-country skier Bjorn Dahlie. He retired in 2001 at age 33 because of an injury but check this out: "His trophy collection includes the most Olympic medals, 12, of any winter athlete, the most World Cup wins, 48, and nine world championships."

This is just gratuitous Norwegian fire fighter eye candy for Grandmère Mimi.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

An interesting discussion

Kagro X has an intriguing post about Bush's putative "pocket veto" and the finer points of contitutional law as elaborated on by the Legislative Counsel of the Republican Policy Committee back in 1990. You see, in those days Republicans in power seemed to care about the rule of law. Check it out here.

The memo in that case included these words:

The Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch have clashed repeatedly on veto policy during the past two decades. The President's actions on H.R. 2712 and the Congress' response are but the latest in a string of thrusts and parries. The President believes he exercised a 'pocket veto' and the bill is dead. The House has treated H.R. 2712 and its papers as though the President exercised a traditional 'return veto.' The Senate is preparing to concur in the House interpretation. There is another reading of the facts and the law, however. Under this alternative reading, H.R. 2712 became law on December 2, 1989 without the President's approval.
This is a follow-up to a topic addressed in previous posts at this site here and here.
--the BB

Keep the prayers coming!

Episcopalians gathered in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth this weekend. There was encouragement. But there is so much that lies ahead. Here is a quick report form a comment thread at Fr. Jake's.
Thanks for asking how it went in Fort Worth. It's been great!

Just a quick report because it's late and I've got annual meeting tomorrow. Tom Woodward+, recently of Salinas (El Camino Real), now retired (but very busy) in Santa Fe, came to Fort Worth early Friday morning and visited with Bp Iker. Fort Worth Via Media members drove him to Wichita Falls (125 miles) where about 55 folks from 3 churches and at least 1 mission met at the First Christian Church. He talked for an hour and then had a rousing Q&A session. He's just so knowledgeable, pastoral, inspiring and even funny! We are feeling empowered in a new way here.

Saturday there were about 112 present (12 or more parishes) in a science lecture hall at TCU (free) to hear a variation of the same presentation. Again, we dare to feel hope that we can make good come of all this.

Those attending also included some clergy, Bp Sam Hulsey (a native of Fort Worth and recently Bp of NW Texas) and Suzanne Gill, the Director of Communications for the Diocese. She also attended our Bonnie Anderson day in September and used a tape recorder. After the meeting, our president George Komechak offered to give her a copy of the video, telling her we have nothing to hide. The Bp is always invited to our events. He declines the invitations and then criticizes Via Media openly afterwards.

We thank all of you at Jake's and especially you, Fr. Jake, for holding us up in prayer and for getting tuned in to our situation. You have certainly taken us to a wide and concerned audience and we needed that!

Blessings to all,
You may follow developments at Jake's place here and here and here and here.

Katie Sherrod stands up and speaks out at her blog, Desert's Child.

And don't forget to stay informed through Fort Worth Via Media.

These folks have truly lived in a wilderness, cut off from the outside world and formed solely withing Jack Iker's idiosyncratic and autocratic world view. That some have firmly remained loyal to the Episcopal Church is a sign of amazing grace and perseverance. They need your prayers, your love, your support, and your encouragement.

"What can I do?" you ask. Click here.
For the unity of the church:

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may all be of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP, page 818

--the BB