Saturday, January 24, 2009


U.S. Soldier dies of non-combat related injuries
A 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier died as a result of non-combat related injuries Jan. 24. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending next of kin notification and release by the Department of Defense.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Matthew M. Pollini, 21, of Rockland Mass., died Jan. 22 at Forward Operating Base Delta, near al-Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 772nd Military Police Company, Taunton, Mass.

Le jardin

Sorry, no current photo to go with this. This is the time of year when Albuquerque gardens do not photograph well unless you are very much into a thousand shades of tan and gray. Which I am, but I am still not inclined to take out the camera at this point.

Today I did a bit of digging with the hoe - while a rich mole sauce simmered in the kitchen - enlarging wells around fruit trees and some roses. More to do but my aging back prefers this sort of thing in short stints. Some of my fruit trees from two years ago and half of my bare root roses have not survived. It is time to plan what to do next.

I have noticed that the flat-leaf parsley I planted two years ago survived into last year and went to seed. I now have little parsley plants scattered about. Works for me.

Tonight I will go through some catalogues at Bill's as we both plan what trees we want to plant in our respective back yards. I have a vision of my back yard with fruit trees, roses, a few vegetables, vines along the back wall, and a nice brick patio with a ramada overhead to attenuate the summer sun (and wisteria twined on it). It will take a few years to grow into that vision. For now the sandbox I began with is reasserting itself.

Hardly exciting news but it's the news I have.
--the BB

В кухне

Even from my office upstairs I can tell that my house now reeks of mole.

I am collaborating on dinner tonight. My friend Bill was in the mood for mole and inquired whether someone who makes mole might work together on a dinner party tonight. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.

¡Por supuesto!

So a whole bunch of ancho chiles (pictured above) have been toasted, soaked, chopped, blended, and are now simmering with tomatoes, garlic, chocolate, onions, a bit of lard, spices, and toasted and ground almonds and sesame seeds. All this will join sauteed chicken later.

I suppose it's time to transfer the shirts from the washer to the dryer now. Just an ordinary Saturday here at Desert Farne ending with a gathering of friends in Corrales.
--the BB

Looking back

There were confirmation hearings for Rice and Gonzales.

Condi asserted that Senator Boxer was impugning her integrity (for calling her on her lies). I was of the opinion at the time that Condi had no integrity to impugn. I have not changed my mind over the intervening years.

There were fact checkers at the time. And let's face it, the entire Bush Crime Group were inveterate liars.

Abou Gonzales was not impressing the Dems. To my mind, not enough was made over Abou getting Dubya out of jury duty so it wouldn't come out that Bush had a DUI on his record. Keeping that out of the public consciousness is one of the things that made Bush's rise possible. Those who know me will have guessed I am not ready to forgive Gonzales for that. Whether Dubya has stayed dry over the past eight years (which I and many doubt), his behavior has rather consistently been that of an alcoholic - erratic, intemperate, irresponsible, and fueled with anger, the whole glossed over with the charm of the good old boy.

The debate over privatizing social security was raging, with the fearmongers trying to gin up a crisis that wasn't there. Can you imagine the mess we would be in if that particular dream of Dubya's had come to pass?

We saw a headline like this: "Christian tsunami aid group REFUSES to give food to starving Indians because they wouldn't convert."

James Dobson, one of the world's great a******s, was foaming at the mouth over Spongebob Squarepants and anything that, to him, smacked of being "pro-homosexual."

Maru noted: "'60 Minutes' is allegedly prepping a segment on ethically-challenged House majority leader/scumbag Tom DeLay. "

Speaking of Abou G., Armando had this post up at Daily Kos:
In a significant and welcome move, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund ("MALDEF") has publicly stated that it "cannot support [Alberto Gonzales'] confirmation" as Attorney General.

MALDEF was very careful to praise Gonzales for his life achievements and to state that they expect to work with him if he is confirmed. But the headline is MALDEF's refusal to support his confirmation. I applaud them. I am sure it was not an easy thing to do, as they faced considerable pressure internally and externally on this. Consider that they are opposing the first Mexican American nominated to be Attorney General. It may seem mealy mouthed, but I believe it is a courageous act.

From a purely political point of view, Democratic Senators have no excuse now. This is all the political cover they could possibly need. Their votes now are truly votes of conscience. A yes vote will condone torture. They must vote no. [Emphasis mine—PES]
As we know, they caved.

Let's not forget Rummy:
From Washington Post via Yahoo: The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

US outsourced torture: probe
Reuters - 1 hour ago
By Jon Boyle. STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The United States flew detainees to other countries where they would be tortured and European governments probably knew about it, the head of a European investigation into the controversy said on Tuesday. ...

Jason Leopold at Truthout was reporting:
Over the past few months, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been questioning witnesses in the CIA leak case about the origins of the disputed Niger documents referenced in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address, according to several current and former State Department officials who have testified in the case.

The State Department officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because some of the information they discussed is still classified, indicated that the White House had substantial motive for revealing undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

Future Supreme Court Justice Alito was being voted on in committee.

Bob in Baltimore was writing about something that continues to haunt us all:
Following up on yesterday's interview with Dan Bartlett, CNN had on Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez this morning. He and Bartlett are peas in a pod. They said exactly the same thing, and once again, journalists seem to have a hard time asking the most basic an simple question:
How is wiretapping without a court order NOT a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution?

Robert Parry was writing this:
Every American school child is taught that in the United States, people have "unalienable rights," heralded by the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Supposedly, these liberties can't be taken away, but they are now gone.

Today, Americans have rights only at George W. Bush's forbearance. Under new legal theories - propounded by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and other right-wing jurists - Bush effectively holds all power over all Americans.

He can spy on anyone he wants without a court order; he can throw anyone into jail without due process; he can order torture or other degrading treatment regardless of a new law enacted a month ago; he can launch wars without congressional approval; he can assassinate people whom he deems to be the enemy even if he knows that innocent people, including children, will die, too.

Under the new theories, Bush can act both domestically and internationally. His powers know no bounds and no boundaries.

Dan Froomkin shared this:
Katrina Revisited
Joby Warrick writes in The Washington Post: "In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

"A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House's 'situation room,' the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document. . . .

"The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration's foreknowledge about Katrina's potential for unleashing epic destruction on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities and towns. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. 'I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm,' Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's 'Good Morning America.' "
Eric Lipton writes in the New York Times: "A White House spokesman, asked about the seeming contradiction between Mr. Bush's statement on Sept. 1 and the warning as the storm approached, said the president meant to say that once the storm passed and it initially looked as if New Orleans had gotten through the hurricane without catastrophic damage, no one anticipated at that point that the levees would be breached."

Do you remember this tired old lie?

Gonzales Echoes Defense of Wiretaps
Washington Post - 3 hours ago
By Dan Eggen. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales argued yesterday that the requirements of a secret intelligence court are too cumbersome for rapid pursuit of suspected terrorists, repeating the administration's ...
Why did this man have no respect for the law? It is fitting that no one will now hire him.

The Jack Abramoff scandal and its ramifications was news.

There was lots of debate about habeas corpus and Abou Gonzales' comments thereon.

The Scooter Libby trial was hot news. You may have noted that Dick the Dick is very disappointed that Dubya did not give Scooter a pardon. Dick should worry; Scooter is his buffer. That Bush commuted Libby's sentence is scandal enough, thanks. They are all guilty of treason.

Lieberman implied quite strongly that criticizing Bush's policy in Iraq was treasonous.

The NYT editorial took on Bush's State of the Union speech:
The White House spin ahead of George W. Bush’s seventh State of the Union address was that the president would make a bipartisan call to revive his domestic agenda with “bold and innovative concepts.” The problem with that was obvious last night — in six years, Mr. Bush has shown no interest in bipartisanship, and his domestic agenda was set years ago, with huge tax cuts for wealthy Americans and crippling debt for the country.

Combined with the mounting cost of the war in Iraq, that makes boldness and innovation impossible unless Mr. Bush truly changes course. And he gave no hint of that last night. Instead, he offered up a tepid menu of ideas that would change little: a health insurance notion that would make only a tiny dent in a huge problem. More promises about cutting oil consumption with barely a word about global warming. And the same lip service about immigration reform on which he has failed to deliver.

At times, Mr. Bush sounded almost as if he’d gotten the message of the 2006 elections. “Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on — as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done,” he said.

But we’ve heard that from Mr. Bush before. In early 2001, he promised to bring Americans together and instead embarked on his irresponsible tax cuts, a divisive right-wing social agenda and a neo-conservative foreign policy that tore up international treaties and alienated even America’s closest allies. In the wake of 9/11, Mr. Bush had a second chance to rally the nation — and the world — only to squander it on a pointless, catastrophic war in Iraq. Mr. Bush promised bipartisanship after his re-election in 2004, and again after Hurricane Katrina. Always, he failed to deliver. He did not even mention New Orleans last night.

The war drums suggesting we attack Iran were beating. Mercifully, that did not happen.

DON'T MISS SEN. Chuck Hagel's (R-NE) speech from this morning's hearing on the Iraq resolution.

"I don't think we've ever had a coherent strategy. In fact, I would even challenge the administration today to show us the plan that the president talked about the other night. There is no plan.... There is no strategy. This is a ping-pong game with American lives."

Yes, we have entered a new era. I bring these clips from my past collections to remind us where we have been and, I hope, to stimulate us to keep on fighting the good fight for truth and justice. One cannot turn an ocean liner around without a lot of effort. Even so, we cannot reverse the course of our ship of state without a lot of effort.

--the BB

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Now that's accountability!

We lament what we consider a bad regulatory record in China but mightn't health and other standards be better observed in our own land if learned from the Chinese?

Two are sentenced to death over toxic milk scandal
Times Online - 5 hours ago
Two men are to be executed and one of China’s top dairy company bosses will spend the rest of her life in jail after at least six babies died and 300000 fell ill after drinking infant milk powder that was deliberately tainted with an industrial ...
Little comfort in milk scandal verdicts BBC News
Death sentences given in Chinese milk scandal International Herald Tribune

Can you just imagine headlines blazoning the execution of, say, the Enron execs, or Bernie Madoff, or heckuva job Brownie?

Admit it. It's tempting. At least as a fantasy.

Folks in charge would be examining regulatory minutiae and lab reports with great interest whilst trying to save their own necks. I mean: talk about your performance review!

[Y'all know better than to come here for sweetness and light.]
--the BB

Are YOUR senators aware of this? Are mine?

Marcy Wheeler, aka emptywheel, reminds us:
In particular, I believe, they are delaying Holder's nomination to shorten the time between the day Holder takes over and the day the statute of limitations on violations of FISA Bush committed on March 11, 2004 start to expire--that is, March 11, 2009, just seven weeks away.

Sort of puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

We need to confirm Eric Holder as Attorney General ASAP. America needs this. The world needs this. Justice demands this.

For more information, read Marcy's post here.

OK, I just sent my letter:
Dear Senator Bingaman:

I am writing to urge you to do all in your power not only to support but TO HASTEN the confirmation of Eric Holder as Attorney General.

It came to my attention today that the statute of limitations on violations of FISA Bush committed on March 11, 2004 start to expire on March 11, 2009.

This may have no bearing on efforts to obstruct Holder's confirmation or it may have every relevance. We cannot afford to take the chance. The restoration of rule of law in this great nation cries out for swift action in appointing a new Attorney General.

I believe we have come very close to losing our constitutional government altogether and we must not allow any chance to restore it to slip through our fingers now.

May I also ask you to remind the Junior Senator from our state to activate his e-mail at the Senate?

Thank you so much for your consideration of these matters and the service you give to our nation and to the citizens of New Mexico.


Actually, I just received an e-mail today from Senator Bingaman thanking me for my views on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This clearly meant it was time for another communication with my Senator.

--the BB

Now the clean-up begins

Now that the two arch-criminals are gone (but not forgotten), tidbits are going to be coming out. Count on it.

Mcjoan opened with this paragraph yesterday evening:
Russell Tice, one of the NSA whistleblowers who exposed the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program, is speaking out now that the Bush administration is gone. On Countdown, Tice described, partially, the extent of the illegal wiretapping program.
She then goes on to share excerpts of the Tice interview with Olbermann and concludes:
We went into the fight over warrantless wiretapping and the FISA Amendments Act last year with far too little information. That was why we fought so hard against telco amnesty--because the legal fight against the telcos was one of the last avenues available, at the time, for finding out just what was going on with this program. With a new administration, we should have another avenue or two open up, in the form of our new Justice Department. ...

The questions we had then are now tripled: Who was targeted and why? When did this program begin? What exactly was behind the NSA's efforts to enlist Qwest in warrantless wiretaps in February, 2001--months before 9/11, and what other telcos did they approach at that time, and to what purpose? That's just scratching the surface of questions that need to be asked, and it's about fucking time we get some answers. And that the FISA Amendment Act that legalized so many of these abuses, including bulk collection of data, be repealed.


Read it all here.
--the BB

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am so glad to say this!

The all-crow diet for hubris-reduction is reputed to be less than tasty.

Nonetheless, I am very happy to say that I was wrong.

I really believed that the Cheney-Bush regime would attack Iran before we got to the next presidential term.

You can imagine the consequences of that level of reckless stupidity. Can we all say "Armageddon," boys and girls?

But they didn't.

Mind you, I do not retract my belief that they were evil enough to do that. But they didn't.

I am so very glad that did not come to pass.

Glad and relieved.

I am delighted to have been wrong on this one.

Could you pass the wine? Those ebon feathers are a bit dry.
--the BB

641 - updated with pictures

01/21/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Staff Sgt. Carlo M. Robinson, 33, of Lawton, Okla., died Jan. 17 in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kabul. He was assigned to 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade...

01/19/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Staff SSgt. Joshua R. Townsend, 30, of Solvang , Calif. , died Jan. 16 in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan , of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg , N.C.

Photos courtesy of IGTNT

4229 - updated

Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Ricky L. Turner, 20, of Athens, Ala., died Jan. 16 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team...

DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

Senior Airman Omar J. McKnight, 22, of Marrero, La., died Jan 17 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Photo and information on McKnight from IGTNT

Preach it, Brother 'Bama! - updated with link

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

h/t to Josh Marshall at TPM
--the BB

From the pen of John Sherffius

Via Hoffmania

Musical accompaniment: Morning from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg (tarted up and with pretty pictures):

--the BB
This should make you want to puke.

A letter describing religious coercion in our military.

--the BB

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day One - updated wtih link

I didn't hear it on the grapevine but I read it at TPM:
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Hours after taking office on Tuesday, President Barack Obama ordered military prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to ask for a 120-day halt in all pending cases.
Seal - A change is gonna come 2008

I see in another version of this on YouTube that Seal sang this at an Obama event in Los Angeles on June 24, 2008.

h/t to Josh Marshall at TPM
--the BB

Former Secretary of State speaks out

h/t to bmaz at emptywheel
--the BB

A new day has dawned

Praise King Jesus and Holy Mother Mary! Check this out:
When government workers return to their desks tomorrow after today's holiday, they will be met with some new instructions. This afternoon, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the president, Rahm Emanuel issued a memorandum ordering all U.S. government agencies to stop implementing any pending rules and regulations issued by the Bush administration until the Obama administration has an opportunity to review and sign off on them.

Per the memorandum, any proposed or final regulation cannot be published until it has been approved by an agency head appointed by President Obama. The memorandum also advises extending for 60 days the date of regulations in the Federal Register that have not yet been implemented.
--From Jake Tapper's Political Punch at ABC News

That's Day One. Oh baby, this is lookin' good.

h/t to Hoffmania
--the BB

Monday, January 19, 2009

Aren't they darling?

If I could afford diamonds, the little girl on the left had a birthday today. I cannot, but she still had a birthday. Her older sister on the right had a birthday just over a month ago. The alert reader has already guessed that this ages me as I am their baby brother.

Happy birthday, girls!

--the BB

Get out the tissues - updated

My reading of the blogs says this is one helluva weepy weekend. Tears of relief, joy, disbelief, hope, deep emotions about our nation and the world, seem to be gushing from eyes across the land (and probably around the world). I think the American electorate just gave Dr. King an incredible birthday present. I expect that before the weekend is over I may well go through two entire boxes of tissues myself. And I'm not even watching the television.

Here is a photo that I think may have been taken when the train with the Obamas and Bidens passed through. It got me started again.

Treat yourself. Go see the photos assembled by Al Rodgers at Daily Kos and savor them. Take some tissues with you.


The Rude One was not rude today and he made me cry too.

Then there's Granny Doc's testimonial of tears (I recommend reading it all):
Now, I admit, I'm a crier. Always have been. Commercials, films, books, and live theater can reduce me to goo, if the tone is right.

But, this is different. No sadness, no fear, no trace of loss or regret. Nothing but the memories of living through 7 decades of fighting so hard for a moment like this, I have been brought to an uncontrollable joy at this moment in history.


I have lived to see a brilliant, gifted, skillful, Black man just about to ascend to the Presidency.

I can't stop crying.

--the BB

What you couldn't hear on HBO

Bishop Gene's invocation at the Lincoln Memorial:

Courtesy of Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today and Elizabeth Kaeton.

I am not going to jump into the prayer fray right now.

May all well-intentioned offerings be heard in heaven and on earth and may we all be open to good things coming from Nazareth.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace.

--the BB

Anyone care to buy a bridge?

Joe Sudbay reports at Americablog:
CNN is running an ad right now which states "A new administration takes over and CNN keeps them honest. The best political team on television asks the tough questions."
People, if you didn't bother keeping Bush and company honest, WTF makes you think (1) you are going to do any better now? (2) you have any credibility left? or (3) doing it now will make up for not doing it when it counted?

Would you just STFU? You're just media hacks like all the rest and you were a tool of the Bushies like all the rest. "CNN: news you can trust" my ***.

[rolls eyes until they threaten to leap from sockets]


--the BB

If you didn't have some tears, you might be unconscious

I saw only the conclusion of today's pre-inauguration event at the Lincoln Memorial in a re-run. But wow. Just wow. Not only were the songs and the spirit exciting (with the theme "We Are One"), the underlying symbolism running through it was awesome. It concluded with a stirring speech from our next President.

Have a taste, just in case you missed it or wouldn't mind revisiting.

Y'all knew I was a sentimental patriot.

Here is the speech:

I want to thank all the speakers and performers for reminding us, through song and through words, just what it is that we love about America. And I want to thank all of you for braving the cold and the crowds and traveling in some cases thousands of miles to join us here today. Welcome to Washington, and welcome to this celebration of American renewal.

In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes; they're worried about how they'll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen table. And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future - about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what's best about this country to our children and their children.

I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.

But despite all of this - despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead - I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure - that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.

What gives me that hope is what I see when I look out across this mall. For in these monuments are chiseled those unlikely stories that affirm our unyielding faith - a faith that anything is possible in America. Rising before us stands a memorial to a man who led a small band of farmers and shopkeepers in revolution against the army of an Empire, all for the sake of an idea. On the ground below is a tribute to a generation that withstood war and depression - men and women like my grandparents who toiled on bomber assembly lines and marched across Europe to free the world from tyranny's grasp. Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible.

And yet, as I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you - Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.

It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; Latino, Asian, and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.

This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office - the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans - that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.

It is this thread that binds us together in common effort; that runs through every memorial on this mall; that connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before.

It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds - because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.

That is the belief with which we began this campaign, and that is how we will overcome what ails us now. There is no doubt that our road will be long. That our climb will be steep. But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard. I ask you to help me reveal that character once more, and together, we can carry forward as one nation, and one people, the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today.

For Dr. King, I want to offer a version of "Lift every voice and sing" by Acappella:

--the BB