Saturday, January 10, 2009

Worst in my lifetime

In nominal terms, the economy has lost more jobs this year than in any year since 1945, although the population has grown significantly.
--Los Angeles Times

I was born in 1946. That means 2008 saw more jobs lost than any year in my lifetime.

How do people get the idea that Republicans know how to run the economy? Granted, they know how to pillage the economy for the benefit of the few, but beyond that?
--the BB

Some things never change

Back when we used to attend the San Francisco Opera (early to mid-80s) we sat in the next to last row of the uppermost balcony. Interestingly, today's seat in a movie theatre for a live broadcast of la Rondine from the Met, cost only about a dollar shy of the prices waaaaaaay back then. I digress.

We would often rush to get to the Opera on time, climb many flights of stairs, then settle into our cramped but cushioned seats. The lights went down, the music went up, it was warm. And by the third act I usually took a little nap. Maybe in the second act.

Sure enough, I startled myself awake with a little snore in the third act today. And as I snored and came to, my opera companion nudged me.

So predictable.

I really do need to get more sleep.

The production was terrific and the singing and acting spectacular, I might add, though there were some technical difficulties in the broadcast. The sound system was erratic, with occasional pops that near startled me out of my seat. The first bar of the last act was silent and the interviews between acts were near-unintelligible.

The kisses between Ruggero and Magda were rather, well, more than one usually gets in acting. I had not realized that the singers are married (wed right at the Met, I believe she said). This illumined their playfulness at curtain calls. I don't think it is standard practice for the tenor to slap the soprano's rear as she bounds out for her final curtain call. They are quite charming.

Back to last-minute prep before company comes.
--the BB

Worst. President. Ever. - updated with link

SusanG at Daily Kos cites a Boston Globe article then adds her own comments:
WASHINGTON—The United States and its partners have shortchanged Afghanistan by focusing on short-term goals pursued without a cohesive strategy or a clear understanding of the way the poor, decentralized country works, an independent study concludes.

Here's what's striking about this statement: You can substitute nearly any issue handled by the Bush administration and this paragraph pretty much sums up everything that's gone wrong. Try it:

"The United States has shortchanged _______ by focusing on short-term goals pursued without a cohesive strategy or a clear understanding of how _________ works."
Er, yes. One can name almost any topic whatsoever.

So much for the "legacy tour" trying to fabricate a new record (while the real one goes down the memory hole).
--the BB

Flooding in Southern Africa

From the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
JOHANNESBURG, 8 January 2009 (IRIN) - More rains are forecast for Southern Africa into next week, threatening countries already grappling with the impact of recent flooding.

Parts of Zimbabwe have been inundated with heavy rains since 26 December, and the authorities have warned of yet more flooding in the north of the country. That could affect efforts to stem a cholera outbreak that nationwide has now claimed 1,753 lives.

Rains have also pounded parts of Mozambique and Malawi over the past few weeks, killing at least one person, displacing thousands and drowning farm land.
For those in great danger,
Kyrie eleison.

For those in deep sorrow,
Christe eleison.

For all who join together in time of need,
Kyrie eleison.

h/t to Episcopal Cafe
--the BB

Friday, January 09, 2009

в кухне

Church must have done me good. Tonight and last night I did not leave work feeling as though I had been run over by a truck. Thank you, Jesus and Holy Mother Mary.

There seemed, nonetheless, to be some weird configuration of the planets this morning. While this afternoon we fielded the usual mix of the timid, the frustrated, and the confused (it IS a help desk, after all), this morning all of us seemed to get very frustrated, angry, cranky, and grumpy people. It was several hours of non-stop negative vibes. I was very happy to go to lunch and get lost in a green chile cheeseburger and reviewing my Russian textbook.

I figured going over the text we used last spring might be a good idea before plunging back into it twenty-seven days from now. It is certainly a lot easier as review than it was trying to digest so much radically new material the first time around. The fact that I have used CDs, vocabulary lists, grammar books, phrase books, and dictionaries in the meantime undoubtedly has helped. Alas, the very cute and nice Russian bellboys at the New Orleans hotel are not available for me to practice Russian with.

The past month has involved several rounds of tidying and cleaning. Thursday night I dropped off a trunkload of clothing that was getting out of my closet and - I trust - on to the bodies of homeless folk. It has been windy and chilly of late, though last night I came home and it was 70 degrees upstairs and I had left the heat off all day.

Tonight I pre-cooked ground beef, hot Italian sausage, onions, and garlic. Tomorrow these will be joined by two kinds of mushrooms and tons of tomato-y goodness plus spices, to simmer for hours and become my signature spaghetti sauce, in the Neapolitan style with lots of fennel seed to give it a noticeable overtone of licorice (which I adore in any form). The Dinner for Eight group will meet at my house tomorrow evening. While at Whole Foods I ran across some ladies passing out samples of their pasta and flavored butters. One was clearly Italian (by her accent). I asked what sort of pasta she would recommend for a heavy meat sauce such as I am making. She went for the rigatoni with rough surface to pick up the sauce - and so it shall be.

All that and brunch and La Rondine tomorrow midday. Whew. Glad I am not preaching this Sunday.

This is all pure piffle, of course. I am not up to profundities or rants tonight. Ready for bed.

Hope y'all are heading into very nice weekends.
--the BB

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What David Aquarius said

He said it in comments at Hoffmania and his comments have been elevated into a post that you can read here.

OK, Harry... Nancy...Come over here a second. Here's a few facts that you may have forgotten in your quest for meekness.

--the BB

Omigod, a journalist doing research!

Max Blumenthal has looked into Rick Warren's involvement in AIDS in Africa. It's not really a very edifying or encouraging sight.

I encourage you to read the whole article here.

This summarizes it:
But since the Warren inauguration controversy erupted, the nature of work against AIDS in Africa has gone unexamined. Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His website contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren’s involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren’s allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent’s most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations’ special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is “resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred.”

Bush loves to take credit for his "compassionate" stance toward AIDS in Africa too, but with his resolutely abstinence-only approach and the resultant governmental policy of withholding funds where contraception is taught or fostered, a lot of unnecessary death ensues. Bush's legacy is rather uniformly one of death and disempowerment for the masses and profits and immunity for the powerful rapists of society and the environment.

--the BB


01/07/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Jessie A. Cassada, 19, of Hendersonville, N.C., died Jan. 6 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary...

01/08/09 AP:
At least 2 U.S. soldiers killed by suicide bomber in Afghanistan
A suicide bomber struck U.S. troops patrolling on foot in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least two soldiers and three civilians and wounding at least nine others, officials said.

Tubwayhun L'ahvday Shlama (blessed are the peacemakers) performed by SAVAE:


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Anthony D. Davis, 29, of Daytona Beach, Fla., died Jan. 6 in Northern Iraq, of wounds suffered when he was shot by enemy forces. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

Tubwayhun L'bwileh (Blessed Are They That Mourn) sung by SAVAE:

Some thoughtful comments

Given the header, I must hasten to say "not my own."

Søren Schmidt, researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, has a guest article at Juan Cole's Informed Comment titled "It is 3 Crises, Not One":
Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza has led to Syria breaking off the semi-official peace negotiations with Israel, the strengthening of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s popularity, the weakening of the pro-western governments of Egypt and Jordan, and an upswing in recruits ready to join the many extremist groups in the Middle East.

Everything indicates that a peaceful and constructive development of the situation has been pushed even further into the future.

This outcome is in sharp contrast to the positive developments of the 90s, when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process contributed to the Israeli-Syrian rapprochement and the election of the moderate Khatami as president of Iran.

If the region is to exit the current death spiral, it will be necessary to exploit the synergies that a coordinated approach to the situation would open up.
Juan Cole reports:
Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to kill US troops in Iraq in revenge for the Israeli assault on the people of Gaza. "I call upon the honest Iraqi resistance to carry out revenge operations against the great accomplice of the Zionist enemy,"

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from Baghdad attacked the international community for its silence in the face of what he called Israeli brutality, and he put pressure on Jordan, Egypt and Turkey (without naming them) to break off diplomatic relations with Israel.
and this:
Workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza say they have gone into houses and discovered horrific scenes of corpses, and of living children still next to the body of their mother. Physicians in Gaza are convince that the official death and casualty totals for this military operation are gross underestimates, and that there are lots of buildings with undiscovered corpses in them alongside orphaned children.

This is a huge disaster.
--the BB

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why preaching hate matters

Castor beans (from USDA via Wikipedia)

Dan Savage reports at the Stranger (Seattle):
Eleven gay bars in Seattle received letters today addressed to the "Owner/Manager" from someone claiming to be in the possession of ricin, a deadly poison. "Your establishment has been targeted," the letter begins. "I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients."
I worked for a decade in biotechnology (as an accountant, not a scientist). We actually used ricin (the powerful toxin derived from castor beans) in attempts to create drugs that would target cancerous cells and kill them. A lethal dose of ricin is about the size of a grain of salt (Wikipedia). There is no antidote.

I have never forgotten the level of documentation involved in transporting or possessing something so dangerous. Some of that documentation passed through my hands when I worked in accounts payable.

Anyone who would even threaten this, much less act on it, has to be consumed with a festering hate. We learn hatred. So where would this domestic terrorist learn such hatred?

Anyone care to speculate?

I obviously have my own ideas.

[Caution: this is not a parody; it is the Westboro Baptist Church singing "God hates the world." Not for the squeamish. UPDATE: I should strengthen this warning. This can really sour your day; offered for informational purposes only. Have an antidote ready - a lovely walk outdoors if weather permits, or some time with a loved on, a purring cat or adoring dog, some time to bask in God's love.]

This is why Prop 8, its implications, and its sequelae are so important.

* * *

(Lest I be misunderstood, I do not think Rick Warren is even remotely as sick and hateful as this crowd. The world is repulsed by Phelps and his gang and does not take them seriously. But that makes Warren and those like him far more of a threat, because he is "likeable" - more so than the Bavarian troglodyte in the shoes of the fisherman - and still spreads the belief that same-sex affection is disordered and needs healing. Though I would, and do, vehemently disagree, I do not question his right to preach that in his church. I consider it bad theology and bad science and harmful to others - thus pretty much a combination of willful ignorance and immoral speech. But it's allowed. Taking it into the public forum to deny civil rights to a segment of the citizenry is also allowed, though an act of injustice and oppression which the citizenry has every right to denounce. We can certainly call bigotry and oppression what they are. He errs in labeling the protests as Christophobic. Jesus said nothing about sexual orientation - and had a lot of critical things to say about family, for that matter. Our argument is not with Jesus. It's not even with the Bible, but with certain interpretations of it, especially interpretations by folks who see nothing wrong with eating shellfish or wearing blended fabrics, or who don't consistently stone their teenage daughters when they get knocked up because their parents won't teach them contraception. There is way too much inconsistency in hermeneutics there. End of rantlet.)
--the BB

Dear God, help us survive to see that day

From Bushes and Cheneys and neo-fascist creepies and things that go BOOM! in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!

--the BB

Kirtan Mass

A few months ago St Michael and All Angels, Albuquerque, launched a Kirtan Mass, held the first Wednesday of each month at 7 PM.

My first time was tonight.

I left work as hammered as usual and decided I needed church. Since the church is between work and home, this was easy to do. I drove to the church parking lot where I took a thirty-minute nap, then entered the church. The rector and his wife were in the vesting sacristy eating salad so I chatted with them a while, then sat down in the nave. That way I could enjoy the rehearsal.

The lights were dimmed and there were lots of candles and flowers here and there. The altar party was seated on zafu in an open circle. Brian played the harmonium and they had found a highly skilled tabla player. There was also a flute, guitar, and some small percussion.

Kirtan is a highly devotional mode of Hindu worship in which musical phrases are sung by a leader and repeated by the worshipers. Lots of repetition as one can get lost in a devotional frenzy. We were not dancing though my buttocks were moving a lot on the chair. I really cannot sit still with strongly rhythmic music.

Our singing began and ended in Latin with forays into Sanskrit and English. Readings were from two Gospels, from Milton, and from Rumi. There was a long period of silent prayer. Near the end we shared the Body and Blood of Christ. At the very end we passed the peace.

I feel much better.

It is evocative of the Contemplative Mass at St Cuthbert's, Oakland, only with lots (and I do mean LOTS) of singing.

If you are in town and so inclined, check it out. It was very well attended for a midweek service (in a sacramental church).

Then I came home, put out the garbage and recycling, and had leftovers enhanced with spices and heavy cream.

Ragani writes at
Although the kirtan involves music, the underlying art of kirtan chanting is not actually about musical ability or training-it is about the heart. Everyone can participate, regardless of age or cultural background. The purpose of this music is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts. Typically, the songs can last for 20-30 minutes each with a few moments of silence in between each song so you can soak it all up. The longer songs allow for deeper experience of the effects, and with the simple, repetitive lyrics (it's a chant, after all!) we really don't have to think much about the words.
KIRTAN FROM GANGA DARSHAN, INDIA (the classic stuff from 1990):


GANESH BHAJAN,KIRTAN -Vinayaka vinayaka by Leepikaa (y'all sing along!):

Om Namah Shivaya with Krishna Das (one of my all-time faves):

Rock out my fellow bhaktis!
--the BB

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

4222 - updated with photo

Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Lance Cpl. Chadwick A. Gilliam, 29, of Mayking, Ky., died Jan. 3 at a U.S. military base in Kuwait. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Chad Gilliam is believed to have died as a result of cardiac arrest. Chad Gilliam's death from natural causes does not make his loss any less painful to his loved ones, as you will see below. Clearly, he was the object of much love.

One of his friends saw a white dove fly over on the day that Chad Gilliam was laid to rest. Traditionally, that is taken as a sign that another angel has received their wings.

God doesn't forget his better angels. Help us remember Chad Gilliam. May he rest in peace, and may his loved ones find solace in their belief that they will see him again, someday.

Things are slow - or the opposite

Snow on the statuary (December 2008)

A number of us have slowed down on blog postings. Mostly it is because we have been terribly busy in our "non-virtual" lives. One can only do so many things in any one day.

Last week was slow at work (last week of the year, lots of folks taking it off) but very busy on the social front. This week is insanely busy at work (and very draining). By 5 PM each weeknight I am fried.

Not much on the social scene except that I am getting ready to have 7 folks over for dinner Saturday evening. No one who has not been to my home can imagine how much there is to do just to have dinner guests - because, frankly, my housekeeping style may best be termed "bachelor slob." You'd think at my advanced age - you're supposed to be amused at that - I would have progressed beyond a male twenty-something far from the reach of parents and college authorities. Alas. So each evening I do a little bit to move it all forward. Still lots to go before they arrive. It does feel nice to organize my life more than has been the case for quite a while.

Even so, Saturday I am meeting someone for brunch then off to the cinema for a Metropolitan Opera showing of La Rondine by Puccini.

My resolution this year has to do with socializing. If that is successful, there may well be less blogging.

I've been reading as much as possible but not commenting as much as usual. Trying to let go of that neurotic drive to post lots just so I have lots of page views. How pathetic is that?

Fear not. I shall still opine. And try to share photos.

For now, I hope you all had a wonderful Día de los Reyes, capping off a good Twelve Days of Christmas. Now into the green time!
--the BB

631 - updated

01/05/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Lance Cpl. Alberto Francesconi, 21, of Bronx, N.Y., died Jan. 1 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force...

From the New York Daily News:
"I still don't believe it. I think it's a mistake, a dream," said his 23-year-old wife, Cynthia.


"At least he was fighting for something," said his mother, Minerva Negron, 58. "He died like a hero."

"I am just praying for the other soldiers," she said.

"All of them are like my son. When I read the newspapers, when I see the news, I cry for them, too."


"He told his wife ahead of time, 'Just in case I don't come home, I want to be buried with my grandmother,' " he said.

His mother said she took comfort in knowing that her son would be laid to rest next to his grandmother.

"She's going to take care of him," she said.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Every time he opens his mouth a fetid evil envelops the planet

Where to begin?

Asked by Schieffer if he believed that anything the president does in time of war is legal, Cheney said there is "historic precedent of taking action that you wouldn't take in peacetime."

Cheney referenced Abraham Lincoln as an example of another president who "suspended the writ of habeus [sic; s/b habeas] corpus" during a war, prompting this exchange:

SCHIEFFER: But nobody thinks that was legal.

CHENEY: Well, no. It certainly was in the sense he wasn't impeached. And it was a wartime measure that he took that I think history says today, yeah, that was probably a good thing to do.

[From Raw Story]

Uh, Dick? The Supreme Court decided that Lincoln's act in revoking habeas corpus was illegal, even unconstitutional. But you wouldn't know the meaning of legal or constitutional if they bit you on your toxic ass. What parallel universe of infinite malignity did you come from?

Oh, and Nancy? Did you notice the mocking implication that everything Cheney and Bush have done is legal because YOU DIDN'T IMPEACH THEM?!!!!!!!!!!!!!


There. I feel better.

[In case anyone is wondering, I made only one resolution this year - one more than I usually make - and being nicer was not it.]

h/t Dependable Renegade

--the BB

About Panetta - updated

DiFi has her nose out of joint because she was not consulted. Rockefeller has misgivings.

That alone makes me think the appointment of Leon Panetta as chief of the CIA is a good thing.

Rockefeller has been rather feckless in opposing Bush lawlessness and DiFi has been a major Bush enabler for donkey's years. When I was a voter in California I swore I would never vote for her again, and wrote to tell her so. Once in while she does something really good but overall I think that if the Panetta choice displeases her she can go suck eggs. Granted, she is in a position where you wouldn't want to piss her off, but if pleasing Feinstein is a concern of Obama we can toss in the towel now. (All in all, that was a rather civil expression of my feelings about her.)

A great comment from a career intel professional may be read at TPM.

Dday has a great post up at Digby's Hullabaloo and I commend it to you. One tidbit:
It's that he's an outsider with enough institutional power to actually make changes, and the moral compass to make those decisions based not on burying the past but rooting it out. THAT'S what has DiFi and Jello Jay spooked.
[Emphasis mine]
--the BB

Did you notice this appointment?

Photo courtesy of the faculty bio at
Maurer School of Law
Indiana University, Bloomington

Would you like some cause for hope? Some glimmer of light in the enveloping darkness?

How's this?

Our system does not work when the executive branch secretly determines not to follow enacted statutes—or interprets them away under extreme constitutional theories. This is not to deny the executive branch its constitutional authority. It is to assure that in our constitutional democracy, where the rule of law is paramount, all branches of government and the American people know what the law is.

--Dawn Johnsen, Obama appointee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, in "her criticism of the way the Bush Administration used secrecy to bypass statute"

h/t to Emptywheel

How about this passage from Johnsen, cited by Glenn Greenwald?
Is it possible John Yoo alone merits our outrage, as some kind of rogue legal advisor? Of course not.

As Dahlia points out, Bush has not fired anyone responsible for devising the legal arguments that have allowed the Bush administration to act contrary to federal statutes with close to immunity--or for breaking the laws. In fact, the ones at Justice who didn't last are the officials (like Goldsmith) who dared to say "no" to the President-which, by the way, is OLC's core job description. . . .

The correct response to all this? Marty has several good suggestions to start. And outrage. Directed where it belongs: at President Bush, as well as his lawyers.

I commend to your attention Greenwald's entire article.

I hope for great things from her.

--the BB

1.5 million in a cage

U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001: 631 (source)

Death toll in Gaza in ten days: 489 (source)

One of these numbers includes 89 children and 30 women.

From Juan Cole:
CBS News broadcasts an interview with a Norwegian physician on the scene in Gaza.

He says he has seen one military casualty come into the hospital. Of 2500 wounded, 50% are women and children. Doing surgery around the clock. There are injuries you do not want to see-- children coming in with open abdomens, with injured legs, we had to amputate both of them. This is a war on the civilian population of Gaza. It is a very young population. They cannot flee. They are fenced in. They are bombing one and a half million people in a cage.

--the BB

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Governor of Baghdad Region Assassinated
Gunmen Kill Governor of Baghdad Region; Suicide Car Bomb Kills 10 at Interior Ministry Office
The Associated Press

Jan. 4, 2005 - Insurgents assassinated the highest-ranking Iraqi official in eight months Tuesday, gunning down the governor of Baghdad province and six of his bodyguards, and a suicide truck bomber killed 10 people at an Interior Ministry commando headquarters, the latest in a string of violence ahead of Jan. 30 elections.

Five American troops were slain in three separate attacks, officials said, in the deadliest day for the U.S. military in Iraq since a suicide bombing at a mess tent in Mosul on Dec. 21 killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. soldiers and three American contractors.

Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday described Israel as "the Zionist enemy" in response to the killing of eight Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip.

Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate
01.04.05 - AUSTIN, Texas -- Oh boy! Starting the year off briskly, lending it such tone already, such cachet, such je ne sais quoi -- those Republicans are so special, aren't they? Their first move, first rat out of the trap, top priority: lower ethics standards. Yessiree, this 2005 is going to be quite a year.

Let's put that to a vote. Many problems before us -- Iraq, a Social Security "crisis," a real health care crisis, world terrorism, our international reputation possibly at its lowest ever... who is in favor of lowering ethics standards first? Who thinks ethics standards in Washington are too high?

House "Republican leaders" -- that would be your Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert and other moral heroes of our time -- want to repeal the rule that makes it possible for the House to censure members for bringing "discredit" on the House, even if their behavior does not fall under a specific rule.

Stopping the Bum's Rush
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Tuesday 04 January 2005

The people who hustled America into a tax cut to eliminate an imaginary budget surplus and a war to eliminate imaginary weapons are now trying another bum's rush. If they succeed, we will do nothing about the real fiscal threat and will instead dismantle Social Security, a program that is in much better financial shape than the rest of the federal government.

In the next few weeks, I'll explain why privatization will fatally undermine Social Security, and suggest steps to strengthen the program. I'll also talk about the much more urgent fiscal problems the administration hopes you won't notice while it scares you about Social Security.

Steve Weissman wrote this at Truthout:

When Alberto Gonzales assured Mr. Bush that presidential war powers trumped anti-torture laws and treaties, the White House lawyer was doing what too many of his profession do. Like an ENRON tax lawyer or Mafia consigliere, he was helping his client commit crimes.

Big crimes. War crimes. Not Private Lyndie England having a good time forcing naked Iraqi captives with sacks of over their heads to masturbate at Abu Ghraib, though Gonzales's words certainly led to the subsequent scandal. His sin was far more substantial. As Counsel to the President, he enabled and encouraged the systematic use of torture, duly authorized by the Commander-in-Chief.

Rule of law? Due process? Fair trials? The presumption of innocence? Don't be silly. In the new post-9/11 paradigm propounded by Gonzales, these hard-won victories of the past sound as "quaint" as the Geneva Conventions with their old-fashioned idea that Prisoners of War need reveal only their name, rank, and serial number.

Maha reported:

Marie Cocco's column in today's New York Newsday gets to the heart of Bush economic policy, including so-called Social Security "reform":

So why does Bush want to create a crisis that doesn't exist and provide a solution that doesn't fix it? Because he is an economic Darwinist. In Bush's view, the financially strong should be helped to prosper. The weak should pay the bill.

What's remarkable to me is that somebody actually had to say this. After four years of Bush's economic Darwinism, you'd think a person would have to be brain dead not to understand that what Cocco says is true. Calling attention to it seems like calling attention to air, or gravity.

Unbecoming of the United States
"Once you say the Geneva Conventions are quaint and obsolete, you can't undo that."

Former military officers, including retired Army General John Shalikashvili, are challenging the nomination of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to be US attorney general because he endorsed shitcanning the Geneva Conventions for combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Jan. 6 on Gonzales's nomination to succeed the Crisco-enhanced flake John Ashcroft.

Democrats led by Vermont Senator Pat Leahy say they will at least try to make an effort to appear they are doing what they were elected for, and ask Gonzales to explain his role in drafting policies that may have spawned the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo Bay, before they return to their usual submissive, cowardly reboob ball-licking servility.

Gonzalez Requested Torture Memo
by Armando
Tue Jan 4th, 2005 at 22:46:08 PST

How can this piece of shit be the next Attorney General? This is a disgrace:
Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, intervened directly with Justice Department lawyers in 2002 to obtain a legal ruling on the extent of the president's authority to permit extreme interrogation practices in the name of national security, current and former administration officials said Tuesday.

I thought these little tidbits from my clippings of January 4, 2005, might help us have perspective on current events. Abou Gonzales claiming to be a victim, for instance, and Bush fiscal policies.

--the BB

The heart recoils, the mind cannot

I am sickened by the situation in and around Gaza. No side is blameless though it appears that the law of proportionality has gone out of the window. You may see some graphic video of the aftermath of an attack at The Raw Story. Almost no direct reporting is available in the United States (quelle surprise).

As Watertiger comments:
Your tax dollars hard at work and not a peep out of the White House!?!?!

I am not ready to comment much about this. You will note that in the graphic above, a standard I created some time ago, I choose a name for the land that predates Joshua, Jesus, and Mohammed all three.
--the BB

Do you ever wonder why?

Been wondering why the American public has no clue what is really going on in Iraq (or anywhere else in the world)?

Check out yesterday's Doonesbury for a clue.

It's not just Faux Noise, though they are the worst. The corporate media overall can't be bothered to do actual reporting. One exception of note is the McClatchy folk who chronicle the reality on a daily basis. Cf. the Iraq desk of their DC bureau and their blog:
"Inside Iraq" is a blog updated by Iraqi journalists working for McClatchy Newspapers. They are based in Baghdad and outlying provinces. These are firsthand accounts of their experiences. Their complete names are withheld for security purposes.
Admittedly, I get McClatchy information almost entirely second-hand via Juan Cole.

Anyway, I thought Gary Trudeau did a bang-up job in last week's strip about reporting on the plight of Iraqi Christians in exile.
--the BB