Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oh, and did you know?

Capital gains made up 63 percent of the richest 400 Americans’ adjusted gross income in 2006, or a combined $66.1 billion, according to the data. In all, the 400 wealthiest Americans reported a combined $105.3 billion of adjusted gross income in 2006, the most recent year for which the IRS has data.

Bill Donius at Huffington Post:
The richest 1% of Americans earned $1.3 trillion in 2004, an amount greater than the total national income of Canada. Further the top 1% of Americans has 33% of the country's wealth. The tax policy center estimates that 80% of the tax savings from the Bush tax cuts went to the top 10% of taxpayers and almost 20% went to the top one tenth of 1%! Wall Street Journal reporter Robert Frank in his very insightful book, "Richistan", reported these figures.
[Emphasis mine]
h/t to bubbanomics at Daily Kos for drawing my attention to these. Bubbanomics' post ended with this sentence: "During the 50's, a time fondly remembered by the GOP as one of prosperity (among other things), the top marginal tax rate was over 90%!" And h/t to budhydharma who referenced bubbanomics today. Budhydharma writes today: " In point of fact, the Republican Party is not much more than [the] Political Arm of The Ruling Class."

Oh, there's class warfare all right. The rich and powerful have been waging it against the rest of us, and quite successfully, for some time (especially the last eight years). They are terrified that their comfy arrangements may come crashing in around their ears. I can only hope so, because this nation and the world desperately need a more equitable economic arrangement.

Government of, by, and for the People is the last thing they want.
--the BB

What Maha said - updated with Kagro X

This is a follow-up to my earlier post - and Senator McCaskill's remarks, and President Obama's.

Barbara O'Brien, one of my favorite political commentators who writes at Mahablog, discusses the economy and some of the whining coming from Wall Street types these days, as they attempt to justify outrageous bonuses.

One choice paragraph:
The idea seems to be that because they work very, very hard, they deserve enormous amounts of money. The thing is, normally the economy doesn’t reward a person based on how hard he works. It rewards people for producing something that has value to other people. The fact is that America is full of people who work very, very hard and who are not paid well at all for it.

She really nails it here. A lot of hard work is done in this nation without huge financial rewards.

To this I might add: So get over yourself. People struggling at minimum wage are not likely to feel sympathy for your plight. Nor can I think of any reason why they should.

Anyway, I commend her entire article (and her blog) to you all. She also writes on Buddhism.

Kagro X had a great comment at Daily Kos today:
"On Main Street, ‘bonus’ sounds like a gift," he said. "But it’s part of the compensation structure of Wall Street. Say I’m a banker and I created $30 million. I should get a part of that."

So, say you're a banker and you flushed $30 million down the toilet, which is the actual scenario we're looking at. When can we expect you to pay a part of that back?
Well, yes. Exactly.

--the BB

The first riddle

Photo of the original Turandot poster
courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Calàf, the exiled prince of Tartary, risks all by taking his chance at answering Princess Turandot's three riddles. If he wins, he gains her; if he loses, he loses his head. The appeal of ice princesses (tù che di gel sei cinta) is lost on me, but my secret dreams did not include princesses, so I recuse myself on this issue. I do loves me some Liù, on the other hand.

When I first heard a recording of Turandot it was one of those "take it or leave it" experiences. Over time, however, I came to love it and would probably say it is my favorite opera. In the words of one of the Office Girls: "You can't argue with the butt-kicking excellence of the Pucc'-man [pronounced Pooch-man]!"

Here are Éva Marton and Plácido Domingo in the riddle scene (Straniero, ascolta) from a production at the Met in 1988.

The first riddle is: "What is born each night and dies each dawn?"

Turandot is thoroughly shaken when Calàf guesses it: la speranza ("hope").

"Where IS he going with this?" you may well ask.

My point - finally - is this: today, for me, Hope is not about President Obama, nor a thing with feathers, but the act of planting in the yard. I am re-enacting what I did two years ago in a plot that consisted of nothing but an admixture of sand and fine adobe clay bounded by cinder block walls (an efficient but aesthetically execrable material). My sandbox.

This morning my back yard looked like this.

I started soaking some bare root roses.

Then I looked back from the other end.

And at the end of the day we had these expressions of hope and commitment to a future. On the left is "Strike it Rich" and on the right "Piñata." I already have one Piñata rose bush that I planted from a taller potted version and it blooms endlessly and gloriously in manifold shades.

I plan to plant a clematis tomorrow. We had some back in El Cerrito, California, and I do enjoy them.

I planted two "Iceberg" tree roses back near the vines along the wall.

Here, closer to the door off the dining room and just to the left of the Red Haven peach tree, are a "Chicago Peace" rose on the left and "Miss All American Beauty" on the right.

There are still six roses to plant tomorrow.

I also planted some red tulips that should have been planted earlier. Ah well, with me things happen when I get around to them.

And that is my day (ignoring trips for more compost and root stimulant and plant food plus several breaks).

To further explain the issue of hope, perhaps I should let you all know that the first year I put in bare root roses I watered and waited and waited and waited and waited past all hope for some sign of life. Eventually all but one put forth shoots and blossomed and I had a wonderful summer enjoying them. This is why these critters are, for me, a sign of hope. And of faithful waiting.

My little Advent.

And now it's time to go soak in the tub. If roses get to soak, so does the gardener.
--the BB

"These People Are Idiots" Executive Compensation Bill Discussions - Sen Claire McCaskill

It is an amazing thing to hear someone speaking common sense, plainly and firmly.

Thank you Senator McCaskill.

I hope this passes.
--the BB

There is no salvaging of Gitmo. Shut it down. Conduct LEGITIMATE legal procedings in US courts under US law.

A former gung-ho military prosecutor at Guantánamo resigned. He speaks with Rachel Maddow about why he felt he could not be part of this fiasco.

h/t Vyan at Daily Kos

--the BB

Friday, January 30, 2009

4236 with names - updated with photos

This does not raise the count, only notes that more names have been released.
Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)

Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, of Colville, Wash...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
While home on leave in 2004, (Chief Warrant Officer Todd) met Shelly Gordon at a New Year’s Eve Party. (They were married) on April 29, 2005 at the V.F.W. Legion Hall in Colville followed by a honeymoon in Disney World.


(The couple) enjoyed time with their dogs and sharing Friday "date nights" with dinner and a movie. Their love blessed them with a daughter Ashlyn Joy in April of 2008.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)

Chief Warrant Officer Joshua M. Tillery, 31, of Beaverton, Ore...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
"He loved his job," Roger Trueax said. "He loved being a helicopter pilot."

Tillery also loved photography, snowboarding and dirt biking. His mother said he stood about 6 feet tall and had big brown eyes, a strong jaw and an irresistible smile.

Tillery met his wife-to-be, Stephanie, while they were stationed together at Fort Lewis in Washington. They married a few months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Stephanie received an honorable discharge after she had twins, Alec and Colin, who are now 6. A third son, Hayden, is 2.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)

Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Kelley, 30, of Cameron, Mo...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
Chief Warrant Officer Kelley was the son of a U.S. Army colonel and a teacher. At age 11, following his dad’s retirement, the family settled on a farm southeast of Osborn. A dozen years later, he and DaLana Wallace of Cameron (Missouri) were married. Together they would have two children, now ages 6 and 4.

Officer Kelley flew Kiowa helicopters and previously was an airborne combat infantryman. By every account, he loved God, his country and his family. He dreamed someday of becoming a professional pilot.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4)

Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski, Jr., 35, of Bovey, Minn...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
Windorski graduated from Grand Rapids in 1991. He was the eldest of three boys, a husband, father, and step-father.


Windorski joined the service right after high school. His brother said Windorski loved the military, and always wanted to be a pilot.

This was his third tour of Iraq.


01/28/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Sgt. Trevor J. Johnson, 23, of Forsyth, Mont...assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune...died Jan. 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan:
Trevor Johnson played G.I Joe as a child, and paintball, football and Legion baseball as a teenager, even delaying boot camp until he could see out the Legion season. He was, writes the Gazette, "a ranch kid through and through, at home on a horse and at ease with a gun, and he wanted to serve his country from an early age."

01/28/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Sgt. David W. Wallace III, 25, of Sharpsville, Pa...assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune...died Jan. 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan:
"My son was very proud to be a Marine and looked forward to doing his job every day," Carol Wallace said Wednesday. "It was an exciting life that fit his lifestyle, and it provided him with a very good education. He got to see the world....He took on a more dangerous position, learning about explosives."
Rest eternal, grant to them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Photos and additional quotations from IGTNT

Walking on shifting sands

David@Montreal has been encouraging me to look at frustrations and setbacks as opportunities (not his exact words). I have thought of him when trying to rearrange my schedule, my life, my expectations.

Today I was on the phone during lunch hour working out the shift in class registrations through the University of New Mexico continuing education office and talking to a furniture salesman. I ordered - and paid for - bookshelves a while back. This was at a nice discount and through a store going through reorganization (i.e., bankruptcy) so they don't even order the goods until you buy them. There are staffing changes, of course. The nice lady who wrote up my order is no longer working for them. A person taking over her accounts left a message that, well, the order for the shelves intended for my bedroom had not been placed. So I talked to him today and that order has now been placed but it's going to take another 4-6 weeks before the shelves arrive.

Rearranging schedules, life, expectations.


I was actually quite mellow with all this, though disappointed.

Meanwhile, after buying ten bare root roses on the way home last night, I bought another two tonight along with six bags of mushroom compost and three bags of cedar bark chips. Hoping for nice weather tomorrow so I can work in the garden. And remembering that I may have to rearrange my schedule, my life, and/or my expectations.

Que será, será.

I also picked up a huge stack of clean starched shirts at the cleaners. Now that I have a bunch of wrinkle resistant shirts from Eddie Bauer, I don't need to visit the cleaners quite so often. These were ones I dropped off ages ago.

One cannot avoid speculating how they take 100% cotton and make it wrinkle resistant. I have washed these shirts and taken them out of the dryer and they have looked terrific, even with creases where an iron would have put them intentionally. Sure, there is some major interfacing in the collar, cuffs, and placket, but what HAVE they done? Steeped the fabric in the blood of freshly clubbed baby seals under a new moon while chanting to chthonic deities? Anyway, the result of whatever they do is quite fabulous.

The sum of all this is that this has been a week of minor chores. Four trips over the course of one week to refill my prescriptions (and WHY has Walgreen's online renewal program shut down?), picking up gardening supplies, and generally doing this or that little task. I need to do a lot more chores but seeing things get done is good, even lots of little things.

I hope y'all are launching into some really fine weekend activities or cessation of activities.
--the BB

Primates' meeting in Alexandria

Sigh. I suppose my faith compels me to pray for the primates' meeting. Given the agenda of some persons, this leaves me feeling rather like Flush Limpbone being forced, kicking and screaming, to pray for the President's success.

One can often say of persons around whom one would rather not be that one bears them no ill will. Frankly, I am not quite that evolved towards certain primates of the Anglican Communion. Heaven only knows how far I have regressed, evolutionarily speaking, but I actually bear some ill will toward those who oppress my sisters and brothers. I know this is not good for me.

There is the analogy that hating is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die from it. But I am not talking hatred, just acknowledging some ill will. I know the difference between the love that is commanded and liking someone. I can be committed to the ultimate well-being of people I don't particularly like. And in the very long scheme of things I wish healing and bliss to Henry and Peter. But in the very short scheme, not so much. I quite want them thwarted and their oppressive behavior halted and I really do not like them even a little bit, though I know they are precious in God's sight. That, for now, is simply how it is.

I profoundly distrust gatherings of ecclesiastical primates. I consider them situations rife with potential for evil and instruments of the quest for power. Put more graphically: huge opportunities for the satanic.

All of that notwithstanding, my faith is in God and that faith is far greater than my fear of devils or of humans or of institutions, even of primates.

And there is potential for collaboration in ministry, the ministry of Christ, the ministry of God's reign. The Spirit is always full of surprises and grace and Gospel can break out where least expected.

And so:

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in Alexandria for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach them in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide them to perceive what is right, and grant them both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

--the BB
Prayer from The Book of Common Prayer, USA 1979

Illustration of primates tree from Conservation International

Thursday, January 29, 2009

For all my East Bay and former East Bay friends - edited with link

AP photo by Ben Margot

One should know the long history of political commentary at the Grand Lake movie palace in Oakland in order fully to appreciate this special comment.

I have found it interesting (and disturbing) that the Repugnicans rather consistently project. If they accuse someone of something awful you may be rather certain they are doing it themselves (and probably to a far greater extent than their accused ever thought of doing).

This trait of theirs crossed my mind while viewing the photo above. Consider all the blather about Iraq being a better place and the world being a safer place with Saddam Hussein out of power. Hmmmm. I rather find the United States a better place and the world a safer place with GWB out of power. Just saying.

As the bumper sticker has reminded us: regime change begins at home.

Update: Oops. Forgot the h/t to Watertiger at Dependable Renegade.
--the BB

Hope springs eternal in the furry beast

The back yard viewed from
my bedroom window
on 17 April 2007.
I had just planted roses and fruit trees.

It is about as bleak now, but much more lush. I will take photos this weekend.

Tonight on the way home I stopped at Costco and Home Depot and bought ten bare root roses. That should brighten up the summer. I obviously am counting on yard time this Saturday (and possibly Sunday).

In other news: I received an e-mail last night from UNM continuing education. Russian II has been canceled because of low enrollment. Sigh. I asked them to transfer my tuition to Conversational Russian and am waiting to hear (a) that they have done so and (b) what room we will meet in this coming Monday.

My regret is that I won't get the continued foundational work before being dumped into conversation. I still have not learned how to form all the cases and we had only touched on past and future tenses. We had not gone anywhere near perfective and imperfective verbs or unidirectional and multidirectional ones.

Большой вздох!*

--the BB
* Grand soupir!

Why common folk think ill of Wall Steet

We are emerging from eight years with a president who was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple. There is something ordinary folk resent about other folk who carry with them a sense of entitlement. Of course the world owes them deference, they seem to assert without a second thought. It's that sense of being owed something, most especially something the rest of the world does not perceive as having been earned.

Now, I have to acknowledge having received bonuses during my business career. I was in middle management and the bonuses were not immense. They were deemed a reward for my contributions and I, at least, am convinced I earned them. The largest came when I was involved in the formation of an R&D partnership and I worked incredible overtime hours and sacrificed my health in the process. I am quite certain that I earned every penny (and more).

I am thus not averse to the notion of bonuses as forms of incentive and reward.


I do not believe they should take the form of incommensurate extravagance that goes along with executive salaries that do not truly reflect effort and performance. Businesses are built on the labor of workers and no amount of putative executive vision and leadership can justify making hundreds of times more than folks working on the line. That it should even be considered reflects the most outrageous values and clearly implies dehumanizing all others who make a company succeed. And if a company is not succeeding, exorbitant rewards at the top not only make no sense, they are a scandal and an affront.

So massive layoffs of workers combined with massive rewards to executives offend most people. And they should.

You may read Ben White's article at the New York Times today titled "What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses." David@Montreal sent it to me this morning. The dear man may have thought I needed something other than caffeine to kick-start me today.

Here is a stage-setting excerpt:
Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high.
Here's the kicker:
On Wall Street, where money is the ultimate measure, some employees apparently feel slighted by their diminished bonuses. A poll of 900 financial industry employees released on Wednesday by, a job search Web site, found that while nearly eight out of 10 got bonuses, 46 percent thought they deserved more.
What can one say?

In the current economy I am grateful to be employed.
--the BB

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More from last evening at sunset

The Marriott "Pyramid"

Looking north

Closer view of the Pyramid

I liked it better before they tarted it up with cadmium red medium highlights. The effect is muted and less harsh in these photos but it's really noxious and clashes with the entire environment.
--the BB

Do not bother spamming this site

I have only briefly toyed with unmoderated comments and both times I got comments trying to promote something. Hence, I moderate every comment so that neither I nor my guests have to wade through such stuff. I once erred in being overzealous by rejecting something that would have actually been a nice link to a lovely resource site - something I regret but can live with.

I just got a comment that was promoting something related to money.

A word. Don't do it.

Rejected out of hand.

Exceptions for resources that have nothing to do with money and might be of interest and use to the wonderful folks who come here.
--the BB

GOP! Unh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

Why it makes no sense to "reach out to" (i.e., roll over for) congressional Repugnicans:

$819 Billion in Spending & Tax Cuts

------------------------YEA------NAY-------PRESENT ----NOT VOTING

All the talk about bipartisanship and compromises and dropping this or that from the package to woo them over to supporting the bill..... for this.

h/t to Jed L

--the BB

[Yeah, yeah, yeah, in theory I believe in working together. But I absolutely do not believe in running to kick a ball that is being held by Lucy Van Pelt.]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hmmm, I could be more accessible

blog readability test

h/t to Malcolm+
--the BB

Die Kinder

I know some of you are wondering what the kids are up to now that the traveling ones and I are all back from New Orleans.

There has been some adjusting, trying to get back to whatever passes for normal (always a challenge).

The Floor Patrol has reconstituted itself downstairs. You may see them here underneath my great-grandfather's sermon-writing desk.

They are (L to R): Anthony B Thunderfoot, Zotney T, Haimish, Belle, Miss Hephzibah, Carlo Verro Esq., and Marcus. [Bison, giant South American anteater, highland cattle, hippoposterous, heffalump, boar, and lion, respectively.]

Now I have a gang to greet when I come in the door (in addition to shouting to those upstairs). The house feels homier with them back in place.

Then we have those huddled in and on one of the new pieces of furniture in my bedroom.

Top (L to R): Patches Pussy, Eddie (Oedipus Platypus), Manuel Mapache, Leo the lion cub, and Sally the humpback whale and her calf Jonah.

Bottom (L to R): Shou-Yi the panda, Dillinger my killer 'diller, Pample Moose, Norbert the NIH worm, Thermy (Thermopolous, NOT thermidor, please!), Otter the Great, Victor J Flyboy, Paddington Bear, and Margaret Macrina Dolphin (aka Maggie). Paddington is not in his standard duffle coat but in a tie-dye T-shirt I picked up on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (where the 60s are alive and well).

There are other kids in the library and His Orthodox Majesty with whom I cuddle and sleep each night. They get to pose another time.

Anyway, shouts out from all the dwellers of Desert Farne. Dillinger sends a special shout out to David (see post below - David's blogging avatar is an armadillo).

h/t to Jane R who reminded me y'all have not heard from the kids lately. (I think they've been behaving, but then, what does Old Dad know?)
--the BB

Heart thread - 1/27/2009

Mad Priest lists the prayer requests at OCICBW and the thread of love and intercession follows.

Ellie Finlay (of Child of Illusion) feared she might be having a heart attack. She later reported from hospital that this appears not to be the case (Hallelujah!) but is still in for tests and observation. May the holy angels defend her and Christ sustain her.

David (of The Knowledge Box) was among the tens of thousands laid off so he and his family need our prayers. May hope not fail them, community uphold them, and employment come in time.

JimB is laid off and laid up and needing to have his gall bladder yanked. May great healing graces pour down from heaven and well up from earth and may all who minister to him be guided with wisdom, skill, and grace.

Tracie the Red is battling "bizarre bronchial illness" (and if anyone can battle it's our Tracie). May she have a happy issue from all her afflictions.

Amid all their afflictions, these folks are praying for each other and all of us. Let's not slack off in this great chain of love.

It might not hurt to remember MP whose blog and the Holy Spirit have brought us all together.

[The photo was taken from the parking lot tonight as I left work.]
--the BB

They's some s**t here that just don't make sense

Rachel Maddow helps us understand why the pieces being tossed out there just don't fit together:

No, the pieces don't fit at all. Because some of the pieces are not really part of the puzzle. Somebody somewhere is pulling stuff out of, well, you know where, and we all know what comes out of you know where. A whole lotta crap.

Lies. Distortions. Phony non-issues. Divisiveness. And the ever-popular two sets of rules: one for Goopers and one for Dems.

Yep, the Republican playbook is alive and well. And the media pass it all along as though it made sense (or were even true). And people buy it.

Folks, we need to debunk the lies, stand up to the fearmongering, and every now and then kick them in the groin to remind them that they're why we're in this mess and are incapable of getting us out of it.

Rat bastards.

Well, that's my contribution to the illusion of bipartisanship. You see, I've learned something from them. They can't be trusted, they won't play fair, and we need to play this game the way it should be played. If they won't play fair and right, kick 'em off the damned field.

And for heaven's sake, don't indulge their tantrums.

OK, back to Paris.

h/t to Heather at Crooks and Liars
--the BB

Turdblossom, subpoenas, and the rule of law

Karl Rove, surely one of the more amoral creatures to walk or slither across the earth, has been subpoenaed again by Representative Conyers. Will he be able to wriggle away from it this time?

The WSJ reports:
Robert Luskin, Mr. Rove's attorney, said Mr. Rove recently received a renewed privilege assertion from President Bush, before the president left office. Mr. Luskin said he would consult with Mr. Obama's White House counsel to determine the Obama administration's stance.

There is some dispute in legal circles over whether a president's executive privilege claim continues to be in force after he leaves office if his successor doesn't enforce it.

"At the end of the day Rove will do what he is told," Mr. Luskin said.
Marcy has an extended consideration of the matter and its legal ramifications, along with her disclaimer that she is not a lawyer (but one darn smart cookie, I tell ya). You may read it all here. I commend it to those interested in following issues of checks and balances and rule of law.

My own view, of course, is that it is long past time to haul his ass in to testify or hold him in contempt. The arrogant shit (no, he's not the blossom that springs from manure, just the steaming pile itself) is long overdue for frogmarching to a secure cell. A great multitude of the evils of the past eight years could not have come to pass without his wickedness at work.

Pass the popcorn. This should be interesting.
--the BB


01/26/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Julian T. Brennan, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y., died Jan. 24 while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force...


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Kyle J. Harrington, 24, of Swansea, Mass., died Jan. 24 in Basra, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-hostile accident in his unit motor pool. He was assigned to the 542nd Maintenance Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade...

01/26/09 MNF:
Soldiers killed in aircraft crash
Four Coalition Soldiers died Jan. 26, when their aircraft crashed in Northern Iraq. The cause is unclear at this time and does not appear to be by enemy action. An investigation is ongoing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jane R m'a tenté - et en voici le résultat!

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.

You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

Well, I did live there in December 1967, for a whole wonderful month.

Time to sell T-shirts and raise money to go back? [Nah, no competing with Padre Mickey right now. Have you been to the Dance Party Store of Love yet?]

Not Eileen's fault this time! Blame Jane.

--the BB

That we are even talking about this testifies to gross moral failure at the highest levels of the Bush administration

Emptywheel also has a post about "Jane Mayer's excellent piece on Obama's Executive Orders banning torture." Mayer begins:
On Thursday, President Barack Obama consigned to history the worst excesses of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror.” One of the four executive orders that Obama signed effectively cancelled seven years of controversial Justice Department legal opinions authorizing methods of treating terror suspects so brutal that even a top Bush Administration official overseeing prosecutions at Guantánamo, Susan Crawford, recently admitted that they amounted to torture. According to some of those opinions, many of which remain classified, President Bush could authorize U.S. officials to capture, interrogate, and indefinitely imprison terror suspects all around the globe, outside of any legal process.

The Obama Administration’s reforms may have seemed as simple as the stroke of a pen. But, on Friday afternoon, the new White House counsel, Greg Craig, acknowledged that the reversal had been gestating for more than a year. Moreover, Craig noted in his first White House interview that the reforms were not finished yet and that Obama had deliberately postponed several of the hardest legal questions. Craig said that, as he talked with the President before the signing ceremony, Obama was “very clear in his own mind about what he wanted to accomplish, and what he wanted to leave open for further consultation with experts.”

Marcy observes:
Obviously, one of those questions is how to approach legal consequences for those who ordered torture--or warrantless wiretapping. The EOs Obama signed last week don't commit him to an approach on that score. Furthermore, he seems inclined to insulate himself from such decisions by putting them in the hands of Eric Holder, to make it a prosecutorial decision. Though Holder has intimated he'd hold both the architects of our torture regime and of our warrantless wiretapping responsible (lucky for him, he could do it all in a giant 2-for-1 deal), I'm not holding my breath on that score. But we won't know what he'll do until he becomes Attorney General.

That said, Mayer makes it clear just how much lobbying has gone into Obama's evolving policy on torture. She describes a meeting that must have taken place in December 2007 or January 2008 with a bunch of officers--including four star Generals--at which the officers lobbied Obama to end our torture regime. That high-level lobbying continued up until last month. Mayer specifically describes the role of retired Marine General Chuck Krulak who promised to "fly cover" for the Obama Administration after they pushed this through.

Fascinating stuff.

--the BB

"We went to the hospital to make sure that the Attorney General had information...."

Marcy Wheeler has some reflections on Abou Gonzeles' long interview on NPR. The man is such a sleazy weasel. I do hope he's held accountable somehow somewhere. Remember, lying to Congress is a felony.

--the BB

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Heart thread - 1/25/2009

We need some serious cosmic lovin' for JimB who is suffering pancreatitis and going through a really nasty patch. You can read all about it at the Mad One's. Please hold jimB in your hearts.

I had a long phone chat with JoAnne the other evening (she of the new call to be a rector) as she was driving to her parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary. Exciting and challenging times, so love and best wishes to JoAnne and her whole family.

I want to toss out a few general prayers: one for Fran who always bites off more than ordinary folk can chew and then does it all well but, dear God, please sustain and protect her amid the whirlwind that is her life; and one for E. who needs upholding and shielding in general; and one for Kirstin who doesn't have the pep to blog much but whom we still are cheering on. Themethatisme has been on quite a ride lately too, and we don't want to forget Being Peace, and I am rapidly panicking over all the folks I should be naming right now and can't cram into my conscious thought all at once. La Contessa's life is pretty stressful too.

There are the peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia caught up in conflicts new and old, all living in some form of mutual terror and desperate for peace. There are the people of east Congo and the people of Zimbabwe, the long-standing strife in Sri Lanka, the folks of northeast Spain and southwest France who have been battered by deadly storms.

I want to pray for the Diocese of the Rio Grande as we continue to seek healing and renewal before electing a new bishop. And always for Katherine, our Presiding Bishop.

For Barack, our President, and his family and for all the intricate negotiating that must be done to turn the ship of state around, and take effectual steps on behalf of our stricken economy and global economic health.

Not surprisingly, I am asking God to give spines to the Democrats in Congress (and that is truly a prayer of blind faith).

I imagine you have some prayers of your own to add. Please do.

As I sometimes pray:
O Lord, we pray for those who pray for us, for those who have asked our prayers, and for those who have none to pray for them.

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

[Both prayers from The Book of Common Prayer 1979]

--the BB