Saturday, February 16, 2008

A third nation in one day!

This evening I see we had a visitor from Slovenia. Welcome to these "pages"!

How can one not love a nation with a city named Ljubljana? I took a quick look at Wikipedia and notice the Duchy of Carantania in Slovenian history. Brings back memories of my history classes at UCLA.

For our learning tidbit tonight we look to the Slovenian language, with some two million speakers. "Slovene is one of the few languages to have preserved the dual grammatical number from Proto-Indo-European." If you ever took classical Greek you will, perhaps vaguely, remember the dual (as in singular-dual-plural).
Slovenes are said to be 'a nation of poets' due to their language. Poets France Prešeren and Edvard Kocbek and writer Ivan Cankar are three of the most prominent Slovene authors, while Vladimir Bartol, Srečko Kosovel, Tomaž Šalamun, Boris Pahor, Drago Jančar and Aleš Debeljak are among the most famous.
Here's to poets, poetry, and the preservation of the earth's languages!
--the BB

I had to share this

"Geek Graffiti Porn" was the header at the Group News Blog

via was their credit.
--the BB

Bush's War

Juan Cole has this:
Contrary to the glowing depictions of Iraq in the US press, Baghdad is engulfed in a lake of sewage so big it can be seen on Google Earth, many neighborhoods lack water, and electricity supply is insufficient and spotty. Although the Iraqi government crows about building clinics, the fact is that most nurses and physicians have fled, and medicines are in short supply. Last I knew, water purification was being impeded by US blockades on chlorine trucks coming in from Jordan. Some 70% of Iraqis do not have access to clean water, and there have been 100 recent cases of cholera in the capital, especially in the slum of Sadr City.

In nearby Baquba to the northeast, most children cannot go to school because of the poor security and some of those who can faint from hunger. The lack of services, poor security and perceived US favoritism to Shiite have stirred anger and resentment in Baqubah against the US.

--the BB

This morning's visitors

I am pleased that Prince Leka II has drawn a visitor from Albania. Welcome! Of course, I have no idea whether today's guest is pro- or anti-monarchy, but then I am not a monarchist myself (way too American) though I feature royals here. The chief thing is some kind of link with others around the world and I am delighted to have an Albanian visitor.

We also have a guest from Aotearoa, the island of the long white cloud, New Zealand. Two elderly sisters from New Zealand were parishioners at the church in Redwood City, California, where I served as interim. Yes, they had Vegemite in the cupboard. They also taught me that what is marketed in California as kiwi or kiwifruit is properly termed Chinese gooseberry. That can be your trivium for today.

Like many Episcopalians, I am very grateful for the New Zealand Prayer Book with its dedicated approach to honoring the multiple cultures of society and to reflecting New Zealand's uniqueness in the liturgies. A strong model of inculturation of the Gospel that has guided and nourished others, it is a gift to the larger communion.

Welcome, Kiwi, to this site!

A friend asked me

How do I do my graphics?

Well, the answer is tedious but, with practice, doing it is easy. There are a lot of steps but I am quick at the keyboard and it becomes second nature over time. I started with simpler steps then expanded, getting fancier over time.

I am putting the entire process in comments to this post if anyone is interested.

The short answer is using the capabilities of Microsoft Word and the ability to capture from the screeen.

I also have stored a huge quantity of graphics on my laptop (lost tens of thousands of them when we reformatted). So I have lots of illustrations of Jesus, for instance, and icons (the sacred kind, not the computer kind), and political pics.
--the BB

Saturday in Lent 1

Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’ (Mark 2:27-28)

Then the J-dude said to them, "The church / creeds / canons were made for the people, and not the people for the church / creeds / canons; so check it out. I'm in charge here; not the church / creeds / canons." Then the crowd murmured, for they assured themselves that they knew what the church / creed / canons required but they had no idea what the J-dude might do.

Before they could challenge the Nazarene troublemaker, he fixed them with his gaze and said, "Yo, check it out. I am going to do a new thing. Lots of new things, in fact. Deal."

And the common people heard him gladly and said, "Word up."

But those who thought they had it all figured out were disconcerted and began to plot how they might destroy him.

The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:6)

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

All is gift. I can boast of nothing but God's goodness.

O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--the BB

Friday, February 15, 2008

Zimbo visitor makes 56!

Icon of Saint Bernard Mizeki by Robert Lentz, OFM
Feast Day June 18
Image via Trinity Stores

A hearty welcome to today's visitor from Zimbabwe. It has been four days since a new flag has shown up on the counter and I am delighted to see the Zimbabwean flag show up.

Yes, I do have a 3'x5' flag of Zimbabwe in my physical flag collection. The connection is as follows:
A seminarian from Zimbabwe was studying at CDSP (that's The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California) and was friends with JoAnne Bennett. JoAnne was doing her field ed at St Cuddy's and I invited Mark Malisa to come preach. This was very exciting as it was his first time preaching. His father was a priest in Zimbabwe and through Mark we briefly had a sister-parish relationship with St Anne's, Gokwe.

I wanted to learn some music and it took lots of effort but I finally learned one Gospel chant that I still love to sing whenever I can. We sang it sometimes on Pentecost. I was the only one attempting it in nDebele but I translated it into English for the congregation. This may be a faulty version since I am doing it from memory and I know I don't have the orthography right.

Leli vangeli bo
ayisilo lokudlala
leli vangeli
lihamba ngomoyo oyingcwele
lihamba ngomoyo oyingcwele

This holy Gospel; it should not be taken lightly.
This Gospel; the Holy Spirit gives it power.
It is moving; the Holy Spirit gives it power.

With this joyous perspective, let us pray for the people of Zimbabwe who are dealing with social upheaval, an iron-fisted regime of a president-for-life, a shattered economy, and a church torn with strife as well.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the cross of the Son of God, who is mightier than all the powers of evil, abide with you in your going out and your coming in! From the wrath of evil people, from the temptation of the devil, from all low passions that beguile the soul and body, may it guard, protect, and deliver you: and may the blessing of God the Almighty and Merciful, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
—Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer
of the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon

"Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe"
"Simudzai Mureza wedu WeZimbabwe"
"Blessed be the Land of Zimbabwe"

I forgot to mention. I was ordained a minister of the Gospel (as a Baptist) on the feast of Bernard Mizeki, catechist and martyr in Mashonaland.
Thanks to Padre Mickey who remembered Mark's last name.  With the memory jog I can affirm that it was Malisa.
--the BB

And now for the exotic

Today we start out with some music courtesy of the Alba Music Video Blog:

Gratuitous Albanian singer photo
Pirro Cako Video Klip - "Ah moj dashuria ime" eng. Ah, my love!

Pirro Cako comes from Tirana but moved to Paris in early 90's. Both his parents were music artists (Gaqo and Luiza). His wife, Inva Mula (known also as Inva Mula-Tchako) is an internationally recognised soprano opera singer (e.g. if you've seen movie "The Fifth Element" with Bruce Willis, it was her singing voice of the Diva Plavalaguna (The Diva Dance song) and aria Donnizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (the mad scene)). Pirro is also well known as a music composer. He returned to Albania in 2000 to win the 1st Prize in Kenga Magjike (eng. Magic Song Music Festival). Has released 2 albums so far "Heret a vone" and most recent one "Mos me krahaso".
Yes, friends, we take a peek at Albanian royalty today.

Today we feature HRH Leka Anwar Zog Reza Baudouin Msiziwe Zogu, Crown Prince of Albania, aka Leka II. Quite a mouthful. He shares his father's name, Leka, and the Anwar is for Sadat of Egypt, Zog for his grandfather King Zog, Reza for the Shah of Iran, Baudouin for his godfather Baudouin I, King of Belgium. Msiziwe is an African honorific and he speaks fluent Zulu.

[As with most of these posts, I take the bulk of the information from Wikipedia.]
His father, Leka I, or King Leka, loves him some munitions and has been called a Rambo.

Leka I, as a young man
His father was described by the Telegraph (in his mother's obituary) as "Leka, son of King Zog I, ... a 6ft 9in tall, six-gun-toting giant who has never shaken off the aura of his country's bandit culture." It was also noted that "he was once arrested on suspicion of arms smuggling in Thailand."
Young Prince Leka's mother, Queen Susan, was an Australian grazier's daughter and a 9th cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. She was taken under the wing of Queen Geraldine when it seemed obvious that Leka I was in love with her.

The Arms of Prince Leka II

The Crown Prince was born in South Africa. "At the time of his birth, the South African government declared his maternity ward temporarily Albanian territory to ensure that Leka was born on Albanian soil."
Leka was recognized as the best foreign student at Sanhurst Military Academy, UK, and has also studied in Perugia, Italy. He "is fluent in Albanian, French, English, Zulu and Italian."
The Albanian Foreign Minister, Mr. Lulzim Basha, has brought Prince Leka into a career in the foreign service in 2007.
Prince Leka, like most of the young royals, is into numerous outdoor sports. He has five boxer dogs and lives in Tirana, Albania.
There is not much available on Leka II (that is not in Albanian--one of the Indo-European languages I have zero knowledge of). An interview from November 2004 may be read here. He told the interviewer:
My goal in life is the building of the Albanian nation, so that one day we will be asked to join the larger European family.

A noble goal.

And I don't know how tall Prince Leka II is (his father is 6'9"), but he is tall. We present graphic evidence:

--the BB

Friday in Lent 1

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Here's one way of looking at the torture debate. Is is all right to waterboard the temple of God?

Is it all right to leave depleted uranium (DU) lying around to be absorbed by the temple of God?

Is it all right to deny health care to the temple of God?

Is is all right to stand by and watch tens of thousands of temples of God be destroyed by hunger, disease, war, or--for that matter--by bureaucratic policies?

Is it all right to lay of thousands of God's temples in order to preserve the over-inflated paycheck of one CEO (or even a dozen top officers)?

Note: the word "you" in the Greek text of these verses is plural. This temple of God bit is not about private individualized spiritual experiences. It is about us all.

Jesus went out again beside the lake; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’

Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’ (Mark 2:13-22)
The concept of an Anglican Covenant is an old wineskin, if you ask me (which you didn't, I know). I have no doubt that Jesus hung out with disreputable persons. I find attempts to preserve purity both unconvincing and blasphemous. God sanctifies as God wills and all God makes is holy. It may get tarnished and twisted and need to be restored to its intended purpose but God does not abandon it. God is an adequate defender of God's own self. Our task is to share God's love and invite others into a transforming experience. God will handle the transforming. I do not need to make anyone conform to my concept of what God wants to do with him or her. I do not need to have everyone look, think, or act alike--a gross blasphemy against the creative variety God displays.

Because the Collects I put at the end of these posts comes from Lesser Feasts and Fasts and are thus the collects appointed for the weekdays of Lent, they are the prayers of the Church to which I belong and may not express things with exactly the theology or tone I might choose if I were writing them. Today I feel led to comment. I do not believe in spirit-matter dualism. They are two sides of one created reality. (Yes, the Holy Spirit is uncreated but I am not talking about the divine exception.) To me it is rather like matter and energy: we do not yet know of one without the other. Or the wave-particle nature of light. I thus cannot feel comfortable with assigning them a hierarchy. (I am no Platonist.) Spirit and flesh are both to be subject to God, in tandem, harmonized. So I post this prayer but I cannot honestly pray the part about subduing flesh to spirit. Both need sanctification equally, neither is prior to the other. I am an incarnational thinker who takes a very Genesis view of "nefesh" (the clay and breath--matter and spirit--together make the living soul--souls are not discarnate).

Lord Christ, our eternal Redeemer, grant us such fellowship in your sufferings, that, filled with your Holy Spirit, we may subdue the flesh to the spirit, and the spirit to you, and at the last attain to the glory of your resurrection; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--the BB

Lies, Liars, and FISA

Mcjoan discusses Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell's baldfaced lies on the editorial page of the Washington Post. Do not expect the WashRag to note that they are publishing unquestioned White House propaganda.

Glenn Greenwald posted info yesterday that reminds us that the WH is blowing smoke up our asses.

The White House assumes (1) no one will fact check their statements, (2) no one will challenge them when they lie, (3) no one has a right to question them on anything--cf. the indignant Mme Rice who hates being caught in lies and takes it very personally--(4) the media will happily spread any bullshit they wish to propagate, and (5) Congress can't do anything about it because the WH will not recognize congressional oversight or cooperate with it on any level whatsoever.

Bush and sundry WH spokesliars have mongered fear so long folks are beginning to realize there is no substance to it (boy crying wolf syndrome). Scarecrow writes about this and the House Dems calling the bluff and not passing what Bush wanted. Bush immediately went on the offensive (I heard his words on the radio yesterday and once again went apoplectic while driving). Bush's dilemma is there is no crisis over this. Unless you count the threat that if Congress does NOT grant telcom immunity it may ultimately help reveal the extent of the White House's lawbreaking. That is what motivates Bush, not the threat of terrorists. He, in fact, is the force behind most terrorizing of the American people. In saying that I do not ignore or minimize the threat real terrorists pose to the world's peace and safety.

Scarecrow has lots of links to follow for more and also concludes thus:
The political battle is now clearly defined. The Republicans will claim that the nation faces imminent terror threats that the Democrats are unwilling either to acknowledge or defend against. The WH's Perino will claim Democrats are caving in to the "fantasies of left wing bloggers." Greenwald has more.

The Democrats will paint John "torture-is-okay-if-the-CIA-does-it" McCain as Bush/Cheney Act III, unprincipled fear mongers who not only mismanaged the effort against real terrorist threats by becoming bogged down in an unnecessary and costly Iraq invasion but also manipulated the terrorists' psychology to expand executive power at the expense of American freedoms.

It is an ageless fight. The campaign is on.

--the BB

Baptism: the Friday Five

The RevGals Friday Five is about baptism this week. I saw it at Diane's and Wyldth1ng's blogs.

1. When and where were you baptized? Do you remember it? Know any interesting tidbits?
I was baptized through the First Baptist Church of Fresno by the Rev. Bernie G. Osterhouse in March 1957. The church did not yet have a baptistry, so the baptisms took place in the First Christian Church in downtown Fresno. Since I was almost 11 at the time I do remember scattered images of it. We are, of course, talking full immersion here, which I still believe is preferable (though not required) as it vividly expresses death, burial, and being raised again.

2. What's the most unexpected thing you've ever witnessed at a baptism?
In person I am not sure I have witnessed anything particularly unexpected. But the most spectacular baptism for me was the Sunday I baptized 18 persons across four generations from one family. They were Cambodian-Americans whose family had been sponsored by Bishop Bill Swing and the Episcopal Diocese of California when they came to California from the refugee camps in Thailand. Many had been baptized on Pentecost a couple of decades earlier in St Paul's, Oakland. Now most of the rest were finally baptized, including the patriarch and matriarch, some of their children, many of their grandchildren, and a couple of great-grandchildren. We flexed on the timing (it was neither Easter Day nor Pentecost but it was on a Sunday in Easter). I felt Resurrection everywhere I turned that day.

3. Does your congregation have any special traditions surrounding baptisms?
St Cuddy's had a restored ancient tradition of giving a spoonful of milk and honey to the neophytes.

4. Are you a godparent or baptismal sponsor? Have a story to tell?
Yes, though I am a fairly rotten godparent. I do keep them in my prayers but little else.

5. Do you have a favorite baptismal song or hymn?
At St Cuddy's we always sang Hymn # 296, "We know that Christ is raised and dies no more" (tune: Engelberg). I love the energy of that tune and the reference to Christ's Body taking on new flesh and blood (in the baptized).

--the BB

An uncharitable movie review

Here is what I wrote to a friend this morning about The Golden Compass movie that another friend and I watched yesterday afternoon:

The movie was somewhat interesting but actually rather disappointing. "Thin" is the term I applied. I think they were trying to cover tons of Pullman's plot in this unusual world in a short period of time and there was thus no allowance for much in the way of developing character or giving either the persons or the world any depth. Lots of scenery and costumes and action. Very "American" as opposed to a "European" film that would move slowly and allow people and circumstances to "ripen." Extremely sketchy and not much opportunity for an actor to do subtlety.

While the issue of a Magisterium that wants to remove free will and inquiry is quite clear, it does not seem in the least religious and we know Pullman parallels it intentionally with religion, even using a term for the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. There is no element of ritual and that, for me, totally destroys any sense that the Magisterium should be paralleled with or equated to religion. It is just more like Stalin or Orwellian thought police.

In fact, for all the "magical" elements in the tale it does not seem to have any magic to it. It is short on awe and, though loyalty and bravery are big there is little of what one might consider compassion or larger vision. I would use the term heartless. Even the "good" characters seem to operate with very little or no "heart." Call me a sentimental fool, but it is difficult to imagine the characters in the film as being capable of love. Sympathy, loyalty, finding someone else's lot pitiable, yes... but not love.

There is no unifying vision. "Dust" connects parallel worlds and the Magisterium suppresses knowledge of it, but the sense, critical to mystics and to compassion, that all things and creatures are linked, of a web of life--utterly missing. Or at least it does not come through to me in this film.

It is very dark, literally (cinematography, lighting, costumes).

The characters are intriguing and one wants to know more about them.

Lots of effort, lots of visual texture (though little of any other kind), lots of effects, a crap film.

[All this is through the eye of someone writing fantasy fiction with a great deal of energy spent on character, relationships, motivations, and a coherent world with cultures that seem believable--well, that's my aim, I cannot guarantee results. This is probably why I was so disappointed in not finding much in the way of what I care so much about.]
--the BB

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday in Lent 1

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ (Mark 2:5)

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea; Though its waters rage and foam, and though the mountains tremble at its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3, BCP)
I was struck, in a new way, by the story of Potiphar's wife and young Joseph. When she couldn't commit adultery with the young Hebrew stud, she made false accusations and he landed in prison.

I cannot avoid political overtones these days. Not getting one's way and / or lying seem to be prominent themes in Washington, DC, at the moment.

But that is not what struck me. It was, instead, a reversal from the usual context in which "No" means "No." In te story of Joseph recorded in Genesis, Joseph keeps his healthy boundaries, his integrity, and his master's honor intact by saying "No." Potiphar's wife refuse to accept his healthy boundaries, transgressing several she should have in the process. Even when Joseph removes himself from the scene, she takes advantage of it to exact revenge for her perceived slight.

Men who "want one thing" are notoriously dense on the subject of what "No" means. The joke is "What part of 'No' don't you understand?" The retort would seem to be "all of it."

For the sake of good boundaries, healthy relationships, and the good of all, we need to learn how to say "No" and how to hear it. All of us, regardless of gender or any other category.
Strengthen us, O Lord, by your grace, that in your might we may overcome all spiritual enemies, and with pure hearts serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--the BB

KO--my hero

Keith Olbermann dropped the F-bomb on Bush tonight:
If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business — come out and say it!

There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.

You’re a fascist — get them to print you a t-shirt with “fascist” on it!

What else is this but fascism?
He also uttered the L-word.
And if there’s one thing we know about Big Brother, Mr. Bush, is that he is — you are — a liar.

Not that one can be a sentient being and NOT know that George Weasel Walker Bush is a liar.

Read, or watch, it all at Crooks and Liars.
--the BB

We report; you decide

The question: does John McCain oppose torture or not?

I used to think the question was fairly clear cut.

Maybe not.

Check the story. Weigh in.

I do not consider it a good thing that we should even wonder.
--the BB

What's House Judiciary up to?

This afternoon, the House of Representatives voted to hold White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel (and one-time Supreme Court nominee) Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress for their refusal to testify about the White House role in the purge.
--David Kurtz

Josh Marshal has some comments:
With torture debates and the raucous presidential primaries, folks don't think much anymore about the US Attorney scandal and the Bush administration political purge of the DOJ that led eventual to multiple resignations and the fall and disgrace of Alberto Gonzales, President Bush's Attorney and long-time legal confidant. But that's what these contempt citations are about. They're aimed at finally pushing through the stonewalling that the White House has now used for more than a year to keep the truth of what happened from becoming known.


--the BB

Running behind today

Good evening, my valentines, visitantes, and visionaries. I was up late last night and thus arose late this morning. Then I ran off to see Golden Compass with a friend, followed by supper at Village Pizza in Corrales (pepperoni and green chile--this IS New Mexico, land of Hatch chiles and slow vote counts).

I will keep my daily discipline for Lent but in a little while. For now....

Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Silvestre Reyes both sent Valentine letters to Bush, basically telling him to put a sock in it (or was that shove it somewhere?). About time someone told him to.

Amongst other comments, Reid wrote this:
Your opposition to an extension is inexplicable. Just last week, Director of National Intelligence McConnell and Attorney General Mukasey wrote to Congress that "it is critical that the authorities contained in the Protect America Act not be allowed to expire." Similarly, House Minority Leader Boehner has said "allowing the Protect America Act to expire would undermine our national security and endanger American lives, and that is unacceptable." And you yourself said at the White House today: "There is really no excuse for letting this critical legislation expire." I agree.

Nonetheless, you have chosen to let the Protect America Act expire. You bear responsibility for any intelligence collection gap that may result.

Fortunately, your decision to allow the Protect America Act to expire does not, in reality, threaten the safety of Americans. As you are well aware, existing surveillance orders under that law remain in effect for an additional year, and the 1978 FISA law itself remains available for new surveillance orders. Your suggestion that the law's expiration would prevent intelligence agents from listening to the conversations of terrorists is utterly false.
[Emphasis mine. Note the genteel wording in which Reid calls Bush a liar, which, of course, he is.]

Reyes wrote this:
Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration's warrantless surveillance program.

Today, the National Security Agency (NSA) has authority to conduct surveillance in at least three different ways, all of which provide strong capability to monitor the communications of possible terrorists.

It's about time someone threw facts back in the lying weasel's face. [Yes, now you know what the "W" stands for.]

You can read it all in mcjoan's post at Daily Kos. Kagro X reminds us all that if you quote the President be sure to note that he's lying (always a good policy).

Mcjoan also points out that the world does not end when Dems do stand up to the chimperor:
The Democrats stood up to Bush, and the world didn't end. And I bet it felt really, really good. I know it did. I heard the raucous cheers on the House floor when Hoyer made that statement. Remember how good it feels, Dems, and keep at it.
It seems Keith Olbermann may have ended his special comment with this:
We will not fear George W. Bush, nor fear because George W. Bush wants us to fear.

On that happy note, to borrow from Garrison Keillor on "The Writer's Almanac":
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
--the BB

Pseudopiskie started it this time

Based on my total resistance to scheduling....
--the BB

Cyril and Methodius, brothers and saints

Photo source here

My blogging chums are all over this, so do visit Deacon Ormonde Plater and Padre Mickey for all manner of learned and godly material on these splendid chaps. Grandmère Mimi has comments as well.

I would only highlight their use of local language and customs in their evangelization. They did not impose Latin (as Frankish missionaries were wont to do). Ever since learning about them in classes on Balkan history and early Church history, they have been to me saints of plurality within the Body of Christ.

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
-the BB

Boycotting Lambeth

I cannot, in our technological age, say that much ink has been spilled, but many bytes have wiggled their way through the intertubes on the issue of whether or not to attend Lambeth this year. Thinking Anglicans reports that Ugandan bishops will not be going.
[Archbishop Henry Orombi] added that their non-attendance was a means of expressing their disapproval that American bishops have been invited to the ten-yearly gathering of Primates. He said: “This decision has been made to protest the invitations extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, to TEC Bishops whose stand and unrepentant actions created the current crisis of identity and authority in the Anglican Communion.” He added they planned to meet with other traditionalist bishops at an ‘alternative Lambeth’ called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June, which is expected to be attended by other conservative leaders from Africa and Australia.
The whole bit about "I won't come if so-and-so is coming" is not attractive even among those in their early teens. It is most unbecoming and immature among adults.

While some individual bishops have not been invited, all the Anglican provinces have been. It is an opportunity to see each other face-to-face, share our common humanity, get to know each other, learn about each other's contexts, and engage in dialogue. In shared humanity and dialogue there is opportunity to promote understanding and lessen tension. New ways to move forward together might be discovered. If not, at least new or renewed ties of fellowship might enable journeying, in both tension and charity, as we seek to follow our one Lord.

If you won't let me sit at your table and won't sit at a table where you and I are both invited, you may certainly do so. But that is your choice and, in the latter case, you were not excluded, so don't go crying about being excluded. You stayed home and pouted; you are welcome to your pout. Cherish your misery and indignation. But do not expect a scintilla of sympathy.

Those who clearly want their own party with their own rules about who gets in the door and sits at the table can bloody well throw their own party. They should send out their announcements to the chosen few and have their fun, but please just STFU about victimization and martyrdom until and unless the rest of us actually start burning you at the stake.

Btw, the more you carry on the more tempting that is but I don't want to waste good wood.

And do not, under any circumstances, steal the property on your way out the door. You may think you are the new Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and we should be glad to give you our gold as you leave but you're not and we're not, so get over it.
--the BB

John Locke weighs in on the Anglican Covenant

Photo of Locke from here

John Locke, for "A Letter Concerning Toleration" (1690):

". . .I esteem that Toleration [mutually among Christians] to be the chief Characteristical Mark of the True Church. For whatsoever some People boast of the Antiquity of Places and Names, or of the Pomp of their Outward Worship; Others, of the Reformation of their Discipline; All, of the Orthodoxy of their Faith; (for every one is Orthodox to himself). These things, and all others of this nature, are much rather Marks of Men striving for Power and Empire over one another, than of the Church of Christ. Let any one have never so true a Claim to all these things, yet if he be destitute of Charity, Meekness, and Good-will in general towards all Mankind, even to those that are not Christians, he is certainly yet short of being a true Christian himself."

""It is not the diversity of Opinions, (which cannot be avoided) but the refusal of Toleration to those that are of different Opinions, (which might have been granted) that has produced all the Bustles and Wars, that have been in the Christian World upon account of Religion."

(Hat tip again, to Turner and Quinn)

The above is lifted in toto from The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. Many thanks to Jim Naughton and the Turner and Quinn philosophical archaeology team!

They are, of course, trying to reintroduce Reason into Anglican discourse. This, for the sola Scriptura crowd, is anathema, to which I say: "You want sola Scriptura? Become Lutheran." Hooker--with his triple cord of Scripture, tradition, and reason--would be horrified at much that claims to be "Anglican" these days.
--the BB

Holy Valentinus, pray for us

That our hearts may be tender,
yet not so defenseless as to be easily crushed;

that our hearts be strong,

yet not hardened and inflexible;

that our hearts be open
to all that is good and kind and noble

yet firm against cruelty and thoughtlessness;

swift to forgive and slow to anger;

wise and prudent in all our dealings

lest we descend to folly

yet ever willing to be fools for God

in the eyes of an unknowing world.

May our hearts never close themselves

to love or to kindness.

In their breaking

may they become whole.

--the BB

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lordy, I tire of bringing updates; I do.

If you're looking for charity, don't come here. I've had it with people in power who lack decency, morals, or a lick of common sense and I'm in no mood for nicey nice.
It would seem that Senator John Warner no longer has the sense God gave a goose, as my mother would have said. He actually asserted on the Senate floor today that because the telcoms volunteered they should be granted immunity. Let me get this clear. If I volunteer to break the law, then I should be granted immunity for breaking the law.

On what planet does that make sense? Would someone please send him there, because he isn't being helpful on this one.

Kagro X writes about it here.
We have a Justice of the United States Supreme Court getting all soft on torture. Yes, Nino Ratf**k Scalia is out there saying things like this:
SCALIA: Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited under the Constitution? Because smacking someone in the face would violate the 8th amendment in a prison context. You can’t go around smacking people about. Is it obvious that what can’t be done for punishment can’t be done to exact information that is crucial to this society? It’s not at all an easy question, to tell you the truth...
[Emphasis mine]
Torture not an easy question? Let me help you, s**t-for-brains: Torture is not acceptable EVER. End of discussion. Would you please go duck hunting with Dick Cheney. Maybe he can "pepper" some sense into you.

Smintheus writes about the disgusting slimeball here.

Mcjoan shares a statement from Speaker Pelosi that points out we are NOT in crisis mode over FISA legislation (no matter how much Pres. Pissypants stamps his feet):
All Members of Congress fully understand and support our responsibility to protect the American people and the need for the President, the Congress, and policymakers to have the best possible intelligence to fight terrorism.

On Friday, a surveillance law insisted upon by the President last August will expire. Today, an overwhelming majority of House Democrats voted to extend that law for three weeks so that agreement could be reached with the Senate on a better version of that law. The President and House Republicans refused to support the extension and therefore will bear the responsibility should any adverse national consequences result.

However, even if the Protect America Act expires later this week, the American people can be confident that our country remains safe and strong. Every order entered under the law can remain in effect for 12 months from the date it was issued.

Furthermore, the underlying Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provides for the surveillance of terrorists and provides that in emergencies surveillance can begin without warrant, remains intact and available to our intelligence agencies. Unlike last August, the FISA court has no backlog of cases, and thus can issue necessary court orders for surveillance immediately.

Want to pressure some Blue Dog Dems? Mcjoan has the contact info here.

Kagro X discusses the issue of criminal contempt of Congress here. As Kagro X discusses, Rahm Emmanuel's point about the risk of an adverse court decision is real but certainly no greater a risk than doing nothing.
Here, it might be time to borrow a page from the White House playbook, and pursue a "flood the zone" strategy. When the White House has multiple outrages to perpetrate (as is so often the case), it does so in overwhelming waves, with no mind paid to pacing or any insistence on decent intervals in between. Indeed, the strategy seems to be to flood the public, the media, and the Democratic opposition with everything it can throw at them, all at once. And each time they've done it, the national media have been for the most part unable (or uninterested) in keeping up. Light five fires at once, and four go relatively unnoticed.

So perhaps it's time to bring out all the grievances against the executive now roiling beneath the surface inside the Congress. Why not deal with contempt at the same time as we (hopefully) fight on FISA? And why not encourage the Senate to add its pending contempt votes to the pile as well? And why not get down to issuing subpoenas aimed at the "administration's" stonewalling on questions surrounding the missing e-mails? The destruction of the torture tapes? The withholding of key documents and testimony by the Department of Education? By NASA? In fact, by virtually every department of the executive branch that's been asked to comply with Congressional oversight over the past several years?

If George W. Bush's judiciary is ready to validate all of this, perhaps that's something the public would like to know, heading into the next election. Let's get at least some of this -- the most egregious parts, anyway -- out on the table.

Let's face it, something's got to be on that table.

Bonddad simply says (with reference to the Fourth Amendment): "To Congress: You Suck."
Clammyc has a message for Senator Schumer:
Allowing for retroactive immunity in a FISA bill that had no business even being brought to the floor is not progressive. Folding to Mister Bush on Iraq over and over and over when the vast majority of the country is on your side is not progressive. Sending a big "F-You" to on the Senate floor is not progressive. Allowing extremist appointment after extremist appointment by Bush is not progressive. Caving to an unpopular President and an even less popular Congressional minority is not progressive. Allowing non-progressives to continuously set the tone of the debate is not progressive.

John Aravosis says this:
The surveillance law is so important that they're trying to kill it, in order to prove how important it really is. Now who doesn't care about catching Osama? Then again, these are the same people who haven't caught Osama in 7 years, and don't really seem all that interested in doing so.
John also talks about some anti-torture legislation:
Today, McCain voted with those opposing the Intelligence bill because it uses the Army Field Manual (something he used to support) to effectively outlaw torture (something he used to oppose). In the end, McCain lost and we won. The Senate passed the bill (vote count here) making the Army Field Manual the law of the land for the entire US government.

Emptywheel notes that "Conyers has gotten cranky." About time, say I.

Well, that's enough bitchin' for tonight. I try to keep y'all abreast of some things I think matter to us, big time, whether we pay attention to them or not.

Sleep well and get your strength up. We have lots of politicians to whack upside the head tomorrow. And the day after.
--the BB