Saturday, May 02, 2009

Under the stars

It is the second day of the Dark Month. The All Father and Great Fish of Heaven is coming to dominance in the sky. This is the first new moon following the month of mourning, the night designated by custom for the investiture of the new Lord of Ystraf. The ceremony itself must take place under the stars and it is at least a clear night, if a cold one. Members of several noble families have gathered in the capital but it is not a joyous occasion. Swearing allegiance to a prince you despise is no easy thing.

It is not so much that the plot thickens as that a rich background is now mostly in place for what will ensue.

The first paragraph above is not part of the text but a synopsis of the chapter I am writing at the moment. Alas, it is bedtime and I must lay it aside. Sigh. I lose all sense of time when I am working on these tales.

I love writing.

Sweet dreams, my silly sheep.

--the BB

Governments and Economies


I do love her thoughtful writing. You may check out her essay "Why Is There an Economy?" here.

--the BB

Cowards and bullies and monsters

Torture is the weapon of cowards and bullies and monsters. Cheney is all three. Prosecute him.
--Andrew Sullivan

Read why Andy says this here.

--the BB

A gray day with intermittent sprinkles - oh, and wind

Today is not exactly perfect gardening weather. Still, things need to be done.

This morning (very late - I do not face mornings with energy) I went out to the yard to plant my two new clematis vines. The Warsaw Nike and Nellie Moser that I planted as bulbs (corms, whatever?) had seemingly done nothing so I was going to use their holes for the new plants. As I pulled away the thick layer of mulch, I found little stems headed toward the air and sunshine. Those were quickly recovered and I looked around for spots to dig two new holes. That is now done and my entire back fence has vines planted along it. I pulled some weeds, restored some watering wells that time and blow sand were eliminating, and watered half the yard before it begain to sprinkle.

It was only a sprinkle but I came in anyway. The wind had been gusting and I did not want to get wet. I can certainly finish watering either tomorrow morning or after work early in the week. Perhaps even this afternoon.

Four of the new bare root roses are covered in leaves and one has just begun putting out shoots. In the past week a few roses have bloomed on my Golden Showers, Climbing Blaze, and Piñata. There should be lots of blooms by next weekend. The grapevines are lush, the trumpet vines are growing, and the potato vines are covered with white blossoms. Hooray for spring!

My ex's family is having a major gathering this weekend and I was with them last evening, hence no blogging yesterday. I will re-join them all tomorrow after church. I have another social engagement this evening and am enjoying some introvert time today.

And that's the news from Desert Farne.

--the BB

A different version on getting perspective.

Eight of the last ten page views of this site were related to Friday Prince Blogging, all but one of them from google image searches on photos of royalty. I need the reminder of why we have had visitors from 159 countries and what a huge portion of my site visit stats consists of. Good for reining in the ego, don't ya know.

Fortunately, I know that prayers and political posts and general information are also read and get responses, and that is what keeps this blog going.

Whatever the reason, guests are welcome.

--the BB

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Damn their eyes!

WASHINGTON — The Senate handed a victory to the banking industry on Thursday, defeating a Democratic proposal that would have given homeowners in financial trouble greater flexibility to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages.


Twelve Democrats joined all the Republicans in voting against it.

Of course we live in a fucking corporatocracy. Did you ever doubt it?

It would be nice if these asshats remembered that they are supposed to be working for the American People. (I know - terminally naive.)

"And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

--Senator Durbin

The blunt acknowledgment that the same banks that caused the financial crisis "own" the U.S. Congress -- according to one of that institution's most powerful members -- demonstrates just how extreme this institutional corruption is.

The ownership of the federal government by banks and other large corporations is effectuated in literally countless ways, none more effective than the endless and increasingly sleazy overlap between government and corporate officials.

--Glenn Greenwald

h/t to Turkana at Daily Kos

--the BB

4278 - Updated with special note

April 27, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Staff Sgt. Leroy O. Webster, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., died April 25 near Kirkuk, Iraq, after being shot while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Webster is survived by his wife, Jessica, daughters Natasha, Kaydence, and Jadyn, and his father and mother, Donald and Crystal Webster, all of Hartley.

From his wife:
You are my everything now and forever. I LOVE YOU
April 25, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
CSM Benjamin Moore, Jr., 43, of Waycross, Ga., died Apr 24 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

[Note: through a fluke it has come to my attention that Google has juxtaposed the notice of CSM Moore's death here, which is intended with nothing but respect and gratitude, with political comments from another post on this blog that uses pointed humor and is totally unrelated. I want to express my dismay at this and offer my apologies to any who have been misled by google's listing or offended by Google's unfortunate juxtaposition. I trust that the tone of this posting, by itself, expresses my respect for those who serve in our armed forces and the honor in which I hold their sacrifices. --Paul]

April 23, 2009
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Cpl. William C. Comstock, 21, of Van Buren, Ark., died April 22 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

God bless these folks

It's true. Our national security does begin at home. is putting these ads out with local vets speaking to citizens of their own state.

h/t to mcjoan

--the BB

Of course it's Eileen's fault; isn't it always?

You Are Blooming Flowers

You are an optimistic person by nature. In even the darkest times, you are hopeful about the future.

You feel truly blessed in life and can sometimes be overwhelmed with emotions.

You have an artist's eye. You are always looking for beauty in the mundane.

You have a good sense of aesthetics, especially when it comes to shapes and color.

Sure enough, I saw this on Fluffy Snuggles' blog.

So, are they all designed to flatter our egos? This one does sound like me.

((((((( Eileen )))))))

--the BB

OK, I'm stealing this

... from Caminante.
Some perspective
From a thread on Facebook:

Deaths from Swine Flu = 200
Deaths from Malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa = 41 million
A mere $10 can provide insecticide-treated nets to protect people. Episcopal Relief and Development has raised nearly $3M for distribution of nets through NetsforLife in Sub-Saharan Africa.
I believe H1N1 is serious. I also believe we are being hysterical about it.

Here is more information for perspective:
Regular flu in the United States kills about 30,000 people in an average year. 90% of those are people 65 and older who are already not in the best of health. There have been 820-987 deaths each week from the regular flu in the 122 cities that are in the center for disease control tracking system. In the USA there are about 2.5 million deaths in a year.
[Emphasis mine]

That is an average of 82 deaths a day in the United States. From regular flu.

Again, I'm not saying H1N1 is not dangerous with huge potential for infection and death. I believe it is all of those. We should take precautions, be prudent, have all manner of emergency plans in place. But for heaven's sake, people, let's get a grip. (No, not the grippe.)

-the BB

It wasn't just the frat boys

Let's not forget Madame Chevron:

Yes, Condaliar Rice uttered this Nixonian nonsense:
"The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."
As to culpabilty....
"I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."
Just carrying water for ... was that your boyfriend W or the Dark Lord hisself? Ooh, that nose is growing.

Girlfriend, we so have a seat for you at the Hague.

Check out Cenk Uygur's full article at HuffPo.

When the war crimes trials are held I definitely want her among the defendants.

I remember screaming "*** ******* liar" when she was testifying, on more than one occasion, before Congress. She was saying things I knew were untrue. And oh, the offense she takes if you impugn her "integrity"! She is among the worst of them. (Chevron took her name off their tanker, btw.)

--the BB

Heart thread - 04/30/2009

This is just a very brief update.

Yesterday after work I took some flowers to my friend Kathy who is recuperating from surgery. She is doing fine and looks fabulous though she has to take it easy for another week. She sends her gratitude to all who have been holding her in prayer.

Her surgery was delayed a bit on the scheduled day and the doctor commented that most folks become anxious or angry when that happens and she was calm. She said that as she was waiting she had an overwhelming sense of being safely in the arms of God.

Below is a photo of my sister Iva holding one of her great-granddaughters. Now that they are in Fresno, a bit more accessible, and she is over her cold, this could finally happen. This happened just in time.

From the blog:
The official term for the twins now is feeder/growers. That is their job right now, to eat and grow. They are doing a fine job of it.
Due to the swine flu invasion, Clara and Olivia will be receiving no visitors except their parents. Protecting the girls from exposure to any kind of illness is vital for their well being. Thank you for your continued prayers and interest in the Hoff family. Everyday they get a little older and a little stronger. Please pray for God's constant blessing.
Please check out the recent prayer lists at OCICBW (here and here).

O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of mankind: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servants for whom our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their soul with patience, comfort them with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--the BB

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where do we go?

Where do we go for dinner visuals, stunning nature photography, and eloquent musings? Why, to Little Bang Theory, of course!

The Cunning Runt is celebrating his second blogiversary. Many of you know his work. If you don't, scoot on over and enjoy!

Congratulations, CR!

--the BB

The wind is like music

I just have to share this from Markos:
Kos here. My five-year-old son and I were out for a drive yesterday doing errands, when he noticed trees swaying strongly in gusty wind. He pointed at one and said, "The trees are dancing!" I laughed quietly, and said, "No, it's the wind blowing them around."

He pondered that for a second or two, then said, "So the wind is like music to the trees, right?"

I'm still pondering that.

How wonderful.

--the BB

Heart thread - 04/28/2009 - updated

First off, let us keep Roseann in our prayers. I read the following post at Mimi's (same info chez le Prêtre Fou) and I called Roseann just after I left work. What a gracious lady! Being a California foodie, I am offering special intercessions for delicious food and an appetite. I know that sounds superficial, but I long for her to be nourished in body as well as soul
From Roseann:

This is the latest and I'm sorry to say it does not look good. I think I told you that the blood cultures came back positive and I know I told you about the persistent nausea. The really scary thing is now I am wasting. I am losing muscle mass at an alarming rate.

Dr. K told me I can eat whatever I want. I told him I wouldn't get anywhere trying to eat hospital food so he said forget hospital food and eat what I like, when I want. Gary is going to have Whole Foods fix me some shrimp cocktail, filet with hollandaise sauce, and chocolate mousse for dinner. My goal will be to eat at least a third of that tonight.

I've been with people who were wasting from AIDS and it is not pretty. Please pray that we can get this under control. It seems like things were looking up but now, not so much.

My phone number here at the hospital is XXX-XXX-XXXX. I would like for anyone to call me even to just say hi. Anyone from OCICBW or Common Round. If I can't talk for some reason I'll be honest and ask for a call back later. Our phone number at home is XXX-XXX-XXXX if you want to call Gary.

I'm very, very lonely and depressed and so is Gary. At least he gets to go to work and see his friends there but truth be told, we both are at a point where we want to just sit and cry. The dogs have even given up on trying to get Gary to play hedgehog. (all toys are named hedgehog)

Sorry to be such a downer but that is just where we are right now.

Love, R
Get prayin', y'all, or meditating or holding good thoughts or whatever your brand of loving an upholding prefers.

David@Montreal nous informe aussi de quelques-uns qui ont besoin de prière. Sorry, once I type "Montreal" I want to go all French. David also informs us of some folks in need of prayer. We are asking prayers for his beloved cousin Frank and his dear neighbor Robert under-going procedures in their battles with leukemia. These are very serious procedures. And for David who cares for them, of course.

David gave me permission to share more details of his request so here you are:
Frank D.
my beloved cousin in Vancouver BC who has gone into hospital for a truly serious treatment during which they will be wiping out his immune system and infusing him with new genetic material which is being donated by an absolute stranger in Wales, which of course is where my people are from.Frank has three adult daughters, a wonderful wife who is also a dear friend of mine, and several grandkids. Frank and I have been as close as long as we've known each other, perhaps he's the closest thing to the older brother I never had, and his late parents were both my God parents. Frank will be hospitalized for a minium of five weeks and then has to go into long term rehabilitation. This is the last medical chance he apparently has. His morale and spirits are incredible.

Robert J.
Willie and I just came back from a walk, during which we were stopped by one of our neighbors down the street, waiting for us on his front porch. Robert is a 37 year old gay man who has already known very real pain in his life, and who has in the last 24 hours been diagnosed with leukemia also. His platelet count was assessed as being so low today that they are operating tomorrow. The great love and joy of Robert's life is his Burmese Mountain dog- Junior. Ironically, Robert had been offered his 'dream job' as Branch manager in a largely francophone bank in Toronto yesterday, and with this news he has had to decline the offer. Tomorrow they will be removing Robert's spleen and in the following days beginning gamma ray radio therapy.
Let us remember those affected with swine flu throughout the world, the ill, those who have died, those who love them, those in danger, and those working hard to protect the citizens of the world and to find cures.

Jane R has a lovely post of la Morenita (Our Lady of Guadalupe) "With thoughts and prayers for the people of Mexico as they face the swine flu epidemic and the aftermath of an earthquake."

For FranIAm who was in a "crashy smashy" today (and is OK), that she may be kept safe and be blessed with all she needs in her suddenly changed vehicular circumstance.

For Kirstin, who was diagnosed with melanoma a year ago Sunday and for her adjustment after July 26 when she no longer needs to inject herself with interferon.

For newlyweds in Iowa that their relations may grow and deepen.

For Ellie, who wrote this on Sunday:
The psalm appointed for this morning's principal service is Psalm 4 which begins like this:

Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause; *
you set me free when I am hard-pressed;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

It is a good prayer for me right now because I am certainly "hard pressed" and in need of a "defender of my cause". I imagine that's true for many right now - perhaps even some who may happen to read this post.
For those killed or injured in the tour bus crash in California this afternoon.

For peace in Sri Lanka.

For my neighbor N. going through a very tough spot at work.

Continuing prayer for MP and the Missus.

For the unemployed, the underemployed, the overworked, and the work-addicted. For those in any circumstance who do not know where their next meal is coming from. For the homeless, refugees, and exiles.

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--BCP, page 261

--the BB

Monday, April 27, 2009

Clearly coordinated FROM THE TOP

Check out Rachel on how the CIA and the military were up to the same shit on orders from the top. This did not rise from the bottom. Worth six and a half minutes of your time.

h/t to John Aravosis at Americablog

--the BB

A curious omission

Federal prosecutors secured a 10-year sentence against the sheriff and four years in prison for the deputies. But that 1983 case -- which would seem to be directly on point for a legal analysis on waterboarding two decades later -- was never mentioned in the four Bush administration opinions released last week.

I guess they never heard of Google or Lexis. Or maybe, just maybe, they don't consider St. Ronnie's era as worthy of emulation as they pretend they do.

You may read about how Reagan's DOJ prosecuted a sheriff for waterboarding in Jason Leopold's article here.

I like MinistryOfTruth's comment in discussing the Leopold article here:
If there is no equality under the law there can be no justice. If a dumbass Sheriff from Texas can go to jail for 10 years for authorizing waterboarding of prisoners, so can a dumbass President from Texas.
I remember reading about the 1983 waterboarding case. The court case is available in PDF format here.

h/t to MinistryOfTruth

--the BB

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rule of law only when the people making and wielding the laws feel like following them?

Mcjoan has an excellent article up today titled "Finding Justice." I commend it to you.
Here's what we know, based on the public record as represented above. A) Torture is illegal. B) The architects of the torture regime were informed that the "harsh interrogation techniques" they intended to use were torture, and that those methods were unreliable. C) Against that counsel from a military agency, torture was deployed--excessively, and it was used in part to extract information from detainees about ties between al Qaeda and Iraq, ties that the best intelligence the administration had access to had already deemed nonexistent, in order to justify the planned invasion--the chosen war--in Iraq.


Premeditated scandal, engineered so that it would become political and to maximize the difficulty of the reckoning, so that the opposition could be couched as vengeful, as out for "retribution" rather than justice. They played establishment Washington like a fiddle, and so we are here. Actually debating torture as policy and whether activities, which have been deemed war crimes when done by any other nation in any other time, are acceptable when done by us in response to an attack on our soil. FDR must be banging the lid of his coffin in outrage.

Now that the music has stopped, some poor schlubs have to decide what happens now, if they pull away the chairs or just declare the game over. There are a number of options, none of which are mutually exclusive, for proceeding with investigations and possibly even prosecution. Each has advantages and drawbacks from political and legal perspectives. Each, importantly, represents a choice by our country's leaders. The first of those choices is whether or not to recognize that our government is bound by U.S. and international law to investigate potential war crimes.

Assuming that the government chooses to abide by our obligations, follow me below the fold for a consideration of the possibilities.


[If we do nothing] It will have made torture a policy choice that future presidents will feel justified in turning to. Finally, it will mean that we're a country governed by the rule of law only when the people making and wielding the laws feel like following them.

She has followed this issue with intelligence and tenacity and I have relied on her in my posts over the past years.
--the BB

I try to be reality-based in my politics; the rest of my life, not so much.

I worked out the details in my mind yesterday. Today I printed the family tree and wrote up a one-page synopsis (for myself) explaining why A is going to claim the throne but none of his near relatives will. This enables me to narrate this in a combination of action and dialogue.

Now I need to do the same for B. C and his sister D are already covered; I know where they are coming from and their characters were established in the first two books.

Sigh. Even as the days lengthen, they remain too short. I caught a stimulating presentation/discussion at church this morning, followed by a nice smoky Easter Mass. Then I came home and watered the yard. Played in my imagination (as recapped here) and now it is time to grab a bottle of nice wine and head north for dinner. One of my favorite dishes is on the menu. Life is good.

So not ready to return to work tomorrow.

--the BB

The greening of Desert Farne

Here is a larger view of the lilac bush.

Flame seedless grapes to sweeten the summer (God willing and the Rio Grande don't rise).

Buds on the piñata rose.

Thompson seedless grapevine. It is covered with baby grapes too!

Blaze climbing rose with new buds.

Does anyone need some Greek oregano?

Looking between branches of the black Tartarian cherry.

Or perhaps you could use some cooking sage? I have lots! Two vigorous bushes like this.

And those are the highlights of this afternoon's garden tour.

--the BB

The original sin

From Frank Rich's column in the NYT yesterday:
In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee’s memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) “Downing Street memo,” in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” A month after Bybee’s memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on “Meet the Press,” hyping both Saddam’s W.M.D.s and the “number of contacts over the years” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.

But there were no links between 9/11 and Iraq, and the White House knew it. Torture may have been the last hope for coercing such bogus “intelligence” from detainees who would be tempted to say anything to stop the waterboarding.


Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.

Some of us have been denouncing the invasion and occupation of Iraq from the beginning, unconvinced by the lies that were put out back when Bush and Company were misdirecting this nation toward that end.

We were called soft on terror, unpatriotic, and all the labels we summarize as DFH (dirty fucking hippies). Soft on terror because we did not think military expansion into territories not involved in 9/11 was a good idea.

Mind you, I supported going after bin Laden and al Qaeda then and I support it now. We DFH were not the ones who called off the troops when bin Laden was holed up in Tora Bora. That was Bush. We're not the ones who said "I just don't think about him very much." That was Bush.

Unpatriotic because we questioned our president. Hah. Tell that to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh now. [I am still of the theory that George W. Bush will one day tell the truth and explode. It will be a most intriguing cause of death. I can visualize the death certificate now. Immediate cause: auto-explosion. Proximal cause: telling the truth.]

Now it is generally known that we were right about damn near everything. And our worst suspicions were not far off.

As more and more revelations about the torture program come out it is increasingly apparent that it was not based on issues of critical timing (the "24" scenario, or "ticking time bomb"), nor on a failure to get actionable intelligence by traditional, legal, moral methods, but on a desperate desire to undergird the case for an unnecessary, immoral, illegal war.

"No one could have predicted...."

Keep the revelations coming. Follow the leads. Put the puzzle together. And enforce the law.

--the BB