Saturday, May 16, 2009

So that you may love one another

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."

I would like to consider Jesus' admonition that we are to keep his commandments combined with his comment that he has kept his Father's commandments.

We can all agree that he fulfilled the Father's will, but given how much he trashed the purity laws - touching corpses and stuff lie that, while defending his disciples on matters of food and hygiene, not to mention working, that is, healing on the Sabbath - you have to concede that in a literal and legalistic sense he did not keep the commandments very well at all. Which gets us back to the beginning of this paragraph: he fulfilled the Father's will by keeping the spirit of the Torah and the prophets and the writings.

I say this in order to take seriously Jesus' call for us to obey him without turning such a sublime passage about love into a legal code, ammunition for moralistic finger wagging.

An Episcopalian canon lawyer pointed out to a group one evening that the Roman Catholic Codex Iuris Canonicis concludes with an amazing sentence declaring that the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church.
Can. 1752 - In causis translationis applicentur praescripta canonis 1747, servata aequitate canonica et prae oculis habita salute animarum, quae in Ecclesia suprema semper lex esse debet.

Can. 1752 In cases of transfer the prescripts of can. 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.
In today's Gospel Jesus says that his purpose in giving us commands is so that we may love one another.

One cannot hear me preach many times without hearing me say something that may be new to someone reading here, namely that Grace precedes Law, in the Hebrew Scriptures as in the New Testament. If you were raised on "first the law, then grace," unlearn it right now. It is a lie that has been foisted on you.

Witness: Exodus comes before Sinai. The people are delivered, saved, first and then the Torah is given to show them and assist them in living like a delivered people. It is not to gain God's favor but to live like a people who have experienced God's favor and saving power. The Law is a gracious gift to an already saved people. Let that sink in.

The purpose of Jesus' command is not gain God's favor but so those who are already beloved and redeemed may live like a beloved and redeemed people.

Let us then revel in the astounding graciousness of today's passages and may love abound in, around, among, and through us.

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB

This is why I remember the fallen

And this is why I pray for our troops.

This is why I consistently vote for veteran's benefits and anything that supports these men and women.

This is why I get rather soppy around Decoration Day and Armistice Day (that's Memorial Day and Veteran's Day to you youngsters). I cry when I watch videos like this or read war poems or recite the pledge of allegiance, sometimes when reading the Preamble to the Constitution, and always when reading The New Colossus. I am very sentimental about my country.

I may criticize my government, its actions and decisions, but I do so because it is MY government, my nation, the land of my birth, the land of my citizenship and I want to hold us to high standards and call myself and all of us to live into the dream that is the United States of America.

I may call into question our military actions as a nation - their practicality, their legality, or their morality.

But I never call into question the bravery, dedication, and sacrifices of our fighting men and women. I try to say "thank you" face to face when I see our women and men in uniform.

I grieve for those injured or killed, though they are strangers to me. We may have never met, yet they are my brothers and sisters, my fellow Americans, placing their lives on the line for the nation we love.

Visitors come to this blog having searched for the names of the fallen. I hope they find their loved ones honored and respected, though if they glance at other items on this blog they must wonder how that squares with my political opinions. For me there is no conflict.

Whatever may have happened back in the days of the Vietnam War, I have yet to hear any of my liberal acquaintances speak ill of our troops, or fail to uphold them politically (we are not the ones trying to cut benefits for the troops). In fact, back during the Vietnam War, the war of my generation, I vehemently opposed it, but did not bear ill will toward those who were fighting it. My quarrel was with national policy, not with our soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines.

Here is more from today's IGTNT post:
To date, 4296 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Iraq. The death toll thus far in 2009 is already 76. More than 31,000 members of the military have been wounded, many grievously. The Department of Defense Press Releases, from which the information at the start of each entry in this diary was drawn, can be seen here. The death toll among Iraqis is unknown, but is at least 200,000 and quite probably many times that number.

To date, 683 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The death toll thus far for 2009 is 53. 467 members of the military from other countries have also lost their lives.

Slide Show ~ The Final Salute

Other sites have stories, video, pictures and remembrances, including: Honor the Fallen.

Assisting our military: Supporting our troops is the RIGHT THING to do.

You can send a care package. Please consider brightening the day of a soldier with a care package.

You can write letters.

You can send a cup of organic coffee.

You can find other ways to give at or Fisher House. If you have frequent flyer miles you would like to donate to hospitalized veterans or their families, please see Fisher House’s Hero Miles program.

You can help the left-behind animal companions of our troops. See how here.

And don’t forget them when they get home! Read to learn what you can do. Visit VoteVets and IAVA. IAVA’s newest project, Support Your Vet, was launched earlier this month.

To all who serve I say, "Thank you!"
--the BB

Resources and references

WWII poster

Batocchio has a post up summarizing so much of what needs to be said and known on the topic of torture with lots of references and links. If you want a resource on this topic, check it out.

This is not a game. These torture "debates" should not be thought experiments divorced from objective reality, history, the known timeline and the very real and deadly consequences of these policies. It's one thing for members of the general public to be confused or not be up to date on the general timeline and key details, or be swayed by fantastical ticking time bomb scenarios. It's one thing for the bloodthirsty chickenhawks who assume every Muslim or Arab prisoner is a guilty terrorist to indulge in their ignorant, self-flattering Jack Bauer fantasies of living in the "real world" of tough decisions. It's inexcusable that so many members of the media still - still - know and/or report these matters so poorly. We deserve and need better. It's not hyperbole to say that people are dead because of these policies. Given what we already know, how can we turn away? This is not a game to those who were tortured, nor to the families and friends of those tortured, abused, maimed and killed. It is not a game to human rights activists trying to end abuses around the world. It's not a game to the JAGs and other lawyers trying to ensure fair trials and treatment for their clients, guilty and innocent alike. Contrary to the grotesque bullying tactics, shameless lies or colossal self-deception of the Cheney family and their kind, it's not a game to the American and coalition troops attacked, injured, maimed or killed as a result of arrogant, feckless leadership and reckless, unconscionable and evil policies.
Read it all here.

h/t to Digby for pointing me to it.

Watch them squirm to avoid facing the truth

Mad props to David Waldman. The other three should be ashamed to appear in public.

Y'all may have read posts by Waldman under the name Kagro X at Daily Kos and elsewhere.
--the BB

A mother's point of view

What might the mother of a Marine who went through SERE training have to say about waterboarding?

You can find out here. An excerpt:
This is why I'm writing to you: Yesterday on TV I saw some Republican mouthpiece, some ex-Cheney aide, who has never worn a uniform and has NO idea what the hell he is talking about, say that we never tortured anyone because we did it to our own troops and they volunteered to serve; therefore it isn't torture. His statement was allowed to stand unchallenged.

My son did NOT volunteer to be tortured. He was NOT told what would be done to him at SERE. He was told he would be taught to survive. Instead he was tortured, humiliated, degraded, shamed, and told to keep quiet about it. How in God's name would that prepare any of our troops to survive capture? It won't. It will only make them break quicker in the hopes of not having to go through more torture.

Who will speak up for my son and the others like him who joined the military to serve and who were subjected to sadistic torture, not by the enemy, but by the war criminals ostensibly on our side? These people, Cheney and his talking heads, everyone of them chicken hawks who avoided serving, should NOT be allowed to use torturing our troops as rationalization for their crimes.
As for Dick (may be burn in hell) Cheney, McClatchy has a new article up recording his past lies and pointing to the increasingly obvious reality that torture was NOT about saving American lives but about justifying the invasion and occupation of Iraq. In other words, an immoral illegality in service of another immoral illegality.

There. Is. No. Justification. For. What. They. Ordered. Done.
WASHINGTON — Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained al Qaida operatives in chemical and biological warfare, an assertion that wasn't true.

Did I mention that the lying, sadistic bastard known as Dick Cheney should burn in hell? And that I violate my own theology to even postulate this, so deep is my loathing and indignation when that vile hellspawn is the topic?

h/t to mcjoan (again, bless her)

Let's round this out with a haiku in "honor" of Liz Cheney:
Daddy's Little Girl
Wuvs when the bad, bad mans are
Slammed against the wail . . .
La pomme ne tombe pas loin du pommier.

h/t t Joe Sudbay at Americablog and KarenMrsLloydRichards

--the BB

L'enfant prodigue

OK, it's more like the prodigal father who allowed his son to be stuffed into a box for almost three years. CPS should be pounding on my door any minute.

But he's back in the bosom of his family and I am so glad.

Above you will see Molesy communing with with Otter, their younger siblings Shou-Yi, Pample, and Fr. Anskar in the background.

--the BB

Los jitomates

Here are the heirloom tomatoes I planted last evening. One is looking rather iffy today, so we shall see. If even half my tomatoes produce this summer I shall have a bounty.

--the BB

Friday, May 15, 2009

One or two applications should suffice

--the BB

I'm shocked, shocked!

If Jane Harman was asking--more than six months after CIA started torturing--whether or not the torture had been "authorized and approved by the President," it's a pretty big clue that the Administration had not given Congress a Presidential Finding. Or, to put it another way, it's a pretty big piece of evidence that the Administration and CIA had failed to comply with the law!

--the BB

The photos are out there already

This was not the work of "a few bad apples." This was White House policy!

This blood is on the hands of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and their accomplices AND ON OURS UNLESS WE HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!

Photo via The Sydney Morning Herald
h/t to Juan Cole

--the BB
[Note: I make no apology for posting photos of the atrocities committed by our government in our name. The truth must be exposed.]

Heart thread - 05/15/2009


My boss, and wonderful friend, Miguel is having surgery today. We have worked together for many years, and he is one of my heroes.

Dear Friend’s mother—who celebrated her 87th birthday last Friday—has developed pneumonia. Doris is a strong, vibrant person, and she is taking appropriate medications, but this is worrisome.

I would appreciate it if the OCICBW crowd could remember Miguel and Doris in their prayers. Also, Jim—Dear Friend’s brother-in-law—who continues to undergo treatment for inoperable brain cancer.

h/t to MP and GM

Let us also remember Doxy who has been toiling on a major work project and Dear Friend, who risks all by marrying Doxy next weekend. Poor chap, he gets us lot in the bargain.

This from our mission prayer team:
Mike and Eydie have asked prayers for their next door neighbor, Roy. Roy is ‘in extremis’ (near death) and is being cared for by Hospice. Let us hold Roy before God in prayer asking for a peaceful and painless death.
[Last names omitted]

I ask for guidance and peace of mind for my friend Cuervito.

For the Episcopal Mission of San Gabriel, meeting tomorrow to develop our vision for future ministry.

Though this was posted yesterday, I pass it on today. From Pseudopiskie:
More prayers requested
Today Julie-Anne is having surgery on her shoulder. She has lupus and is worrying more than normal because this is the first surgery she has had since the lupus diagnosis. Please pray for guidance of the hands of all involved that her pain will be eliminated and recovery will be swift and full.

Richard is also having surgery today to remove a tumor from his liver. He is, quite frankly, a physical mess. Please pray for him, his medical team and his family who have suffered much lately.

And while we are at it, let's also keep in mind the folks affected by the tornadoes. We are grateful that our friend Maria was able to outrun the tornado in her pickup but not all the residents were so lucky.
Continued prayers for my friend Kathy recuperating from surgery, for Roseann and Gary, for Kirstin (one year ago today was surgery!), for Diane with a broken arm, and for all the folks in recent heart threads.

For the unemployed and those about to be laid off, including my co-workers Dorothy and Rodney who "rolled off" our project today.

For peace in Sri Lanka and Canaan, for Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Myanmar, for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Congo, and Somalia.

For the restoration of the rule of law in the United States.

For those who fight disease in any manner: research, prevention, treatment, cure, rehabilitation, education, etc.

For our fellow creatures, our environment, and this fragile planet.

For those who pray for us and those with none to pray for them.

Almighty and most merciful God, kindle within us the fire of love, that by its cleansing flame we may be purged of all our sins and made worthy to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer

--the BB

Shabbat shalom!

It is cooler today and I took advantage of it when I got home. Before the sun set (and thus before Shabbat), I ripped out two bare root trees that had done nothing and took advantage of their well-mulched locations to plant two Japanese eggplant and a zucchini. I also dug a long trench, amended soil, and planted five heirloom tomatoes. I have now watered all the new vegies. Tomorrow I will water the whole yard and, God willing and my body cooperating, plant the penstemon and petunias.

Right now I am sweaty but cooling down and the sun is about to set.

A blessed Shabbat to you all!

--the BB

New pic

We are getting side-by-side photos now. Clara is sleeping on the left.

--Hoff Hoopla


05/12/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Lukasz D. Saczek, 23, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., died May 10 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment...

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

4295 - updated with photos (2x)

I have not kept up on this in the past week and apologize.

May 12, 2009
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty

Commander Charles K. Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., died May 11 from injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident at Camp Liberty, Iraq.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Cpl. Ryan C. McGhee, 21, of Fredericksburg, Va., died May 13 from wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces while conducting combat operations in Central Iraq.
"The loss has been devastating for me and my family; never in a million years would I have thought this would happen," said Steven McGhee, Ryan's father.

"He was my best friend. I feel like I lost half of myself," said his brother, Zac.

Ryan graduated from Massaponax High School where he was a well-liked student who met the woman he was to marry during his sophomore year.

"I lost my soul mate. I don't know what else to say. He was my one and only, so it's been difficult for all of us," said Ashleigh Mitchell, Ryan's fiance.


"He was always talking about he wanted to give back to the country; he wanted to do something for the country. He was such a proud American," said Joe Rodkey, the principal of Massaponax High School.


"He was a good man and a good son, and he will be deeply, deeply missed," added his father.
[McGhee's photo and comments via IGTNT]

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Maj. Steven Hutchison, 60, of Scottsdale, Ariz., died May 10, in Basrah of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Al Farr, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment...

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)

Pfc. Michael E. Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)

Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo. He was assigned to the 277th Engineer Company, 420th Engineer Brigade, Waco, Texas...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)

Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4)
Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Texas. He was assigned to the 55th Medical Company, Indianapolis, Ind...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Spc. Jeremiah P. McCleery, 24, of Portola, Calif.; and
Spc. Jake R. Velloza, 22, of Inverness, Calif.
They died from wounds sustained after they were shot by enemy forces in Mosul, Iraq on May 2. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Shawn D. Sykes, 28, of Portsmouth, Va., died May 7 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered from an accident that occurred May 5 at Combat Outpost Crazy Horse, Iraq. He was assigned to 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Justin P. Hartford, 21, of Elmira, N.Y., died May 8 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 699th Maintenance Company, Corps Support Battalion, 916th Support Brigade, Fort Irwin, Calif.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Randy S. Agno, 29, of Pearl City, Hawaii, died May 8 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, of wounds sustained Apr. 27 from a non-combat related incident at Forward Operating Base Olsen in Samarra, Iraq. He was assigned to the 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Omar M. Albrak, 21, of Chicago, Ill., died May 9, in Baghdad, of injuries sustained during a motor vehicle accident. He was an Individual Ready Reserve soldier assigned to the Headquarters, Multi-National Forces Iraq.

[Photo courtesy of IGTNT]

Father of all, we pray to you for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Something's afoot

Following the selection of the regency council there have been discussions, rumors, and suspicious activity. I had great fun finishing up a chapter last night. The core of that chapter was a letter from a brother to his sister - mostly family chat with a touch of news carrying considerable political import.

I have since plotted another death, thought some more about a flashback scene, realized I left out some tidbits I'd like to reinsert in earlier passages, and wondered how evil are my villains, anyway, and in what ways? What are their redeeming qualities?

I find the juxtaposition of political movements and historical shifts on the one hand and simple domestic matters on the other quite fascinating. As ever, I know the chief players, the overall narrative arch, and the eventual outcome, but I have yet to learn how it all unfolds. Endless questions.

--the BB

I am a very happy bear tonight

Back in August 2006 when I moved from California to New Mexico, one of my kids got packed by mistake. All the rest were where they were supposed to be for this move: in the car with me.

It was not immediately evident but before long I realized that I had not seen Molesy since California.

I was devastated.

Malachi Matthew Melchizedek Mole is my eldest. He and Otter the Great joined the family on Christmas Day 1978. Molesy is quite mellow, rather bean bag in physical bearing, a superior story teller and all-around party mole. At some point he got clean and sober but is still very good for late night stories and jokes and gives excellent cuddle.

Whenever I thought of Mole I would grieve and pray that he was all right and hope that he might yet show up.

I came home tonight and returned the trash and recycling bins to their places and glanced around the garage. As I work on recycling my mountains of cardboard, more and more space opens up. I looked at a couple of containers that had been hiding for quite some time. I opened the top one that had "ikons" among its labels. It is the set of five large icons that together form a stunning deisis. They had hung in the church, some of them coming out on certain feasts. A bulto of Mary Magdalene from Guatemala was also in there along with some exotic fabrics. I brought all those items inside.

Underneath were two large green plastic tubs. I opened the top one and rummaged around a bit when I spotted Molesy.

You cannot imagine my joy, me relief, my remorse, my delight. I was going to stick with Diet Pepsi this evening but celebrated with some leftover BBQ, ice cream, and a touch of chocolate bunny (I believe in making Easter last 50 days).

Mole is right next to me as I type this, along with his coeval bro, Otter.

Life is good in Desert Farne tonight.

Based on the biblical models of Luke 15 it seemed appropriate to share my joy with others.

Peace out!
--the BB

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No one does timelines like Emptywheel

Marcy is the empress of timelines in legal and political discussions. She can ferret out the smallest revealing details and put them in order and connect dots.

I light incense and bring flowers.

Because no one in Congress was told that the CIA was going to start torturing in 2002, until it was too late. Pelosi and Goss were told, after CIA had waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times, that CIA might waterboard in the future. Bob Graham was not told of waterboarding at all, according to him. Jello Jay was not at the briefing at which CIA told Pat Roberts "in considerable detail" about waterboarding. The CIA doesn't even say Jane Harman was told about waterboarding specifically in February 2003 (though I assume she was).

The first time CIA can say for certain that any Democratic members of Congress at all were briefed on waterboarding was in July 2004, after CIA had waterboarded for what ended up being the last time, and after their own Inspector General determined they were breaking the law.

And then, in 2005, when CIA was trying to sustain their ability to torture against Congressional wishes, CIA had briefings for Ted Stevens and Thad Cochran with no Democrats in attendance. They had a briefing for John McCain with no Democrats in attendance. They had two briefings for Bill Frist with no Democrats in attendance. They had a briefing for Duncan Hunter with no Democrats in attendance. They had a briefing for Crazy Pete Hoekstra with no Democrats in attendance.

Lindsey Graham says that, "if you were trying to commit a crime ... you would not go around telling people on the other side of the aisle about it." And that, as it turns out, is exactly what the public record shows: that the Bush Administration did not tell Democrats about what they were doing. For six months to two years after they started this program, and again when they were under pressure to end it, the Bush Administration did not go around telling people on the other side of the aisle about it.

The Goopers may now stop whining about what the Dems knew about torture. I have no problem with holding ALL sides accountable to the extent they are culpable, but you cannot - with the least shred of integrity - pretend that there was any equivalency in guilt on the torture front. This one belongs to the Bush White House. Period.

--the BB

Anyone paying attention should know the basics of the timeline

Marcy has some observations on veracity.
DURBIN: So, when members of Congress were briefed of [sic] this, was it before the fact? Were they being asked to authorize these techniques and give their approval?

ZELIKOW: Sir, I think Senator Feinstein mentioned, SSCI is apparently really trying to break down the chronology. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has been publicizing chronologies of briefings, which then need to be matched up against when we were actually doing things.

And so, the honest answer is, I don't know whether folks were briefed before the fact.

Yes, Zelikow, you do know whether folks were briefed before the fact. There's the SSCI narrative (to which DiFi's work--alluded to by Zelikow--is follow-up), which states clearly that Congress got briefed after Abu Zubaydah had already been tortured.
[Emphasis mine]

Maybe he's just too busy/important to bother with little things like timelines of the history of which he was a part. After all, facts are so inconvenient.

And this is allegedly one of the "good guys" in the torture storyline.

Marcy also writes this:
The Republicans are working so hard to argue that Democrats were properly briefed because--per Lindsey Graham--if it becomes clear they weren't, then it is evidence of criminal intent.
You think?

I also commend to y'all's attention the op-ed contribution of Vicki Divoll in today's NYT.

Some of her comments:
The C.I.A. is prohibited by law from conducting covert action activities without express presidential approval — and this is not a requirement that the agency takes lightly. The National Security Act also requires that when the president approves a covert action program the two Congressional intelligence committees shall be “notified.” The committees do not have disapproval power, nor can they force changes at that time. But the law does require the executive branch to provide timely, written notice to the full committees — which together consist of fewer than 40 members — of the plans.

It is unlawful for the executive branch to limit notification, as it did here, to the Gang of Four. There is no such entity recognized in the National Security Act. Federal law does provide, however, for notification of fewer lawmakers than the full intelligence committees, but only when “extraordinary circumstances affecting vital interests of the United States” are at stake. Under those very limited situations, the notification may be to the “Gang of Eight,” which includes the majority and minority leadership of the House and Senate, in addition to the intelligence committee leaders.

It should be noted that there is a legal argument that the interrogation program was merely foreign intelligence “collection,” and not “covert action” at all, because it was used to elicit information that already existed in the minds of the detainees. In that case, there is no exception in the law for Gangs of Four or Eight, and every member of the two committees should have been notified.

Of course my strong feelings about torture, its proponents and its defenders as well as its perpetrators, have not gone away, even if I have not commented much amid the recent flood of discussion.

Btw, Barry, if you don't release those photos I, for one, am gonna be mighty pissed. Your transparency promises are fading rapidly into Bushspeak. I believe that while releasing them may (and almost certainly will) in the short run provide fodder for those who hate us, continuing to cover-up and to protect perps will do us far more damage in the long run.

You should release the photos and say, loud and clear: Yes, we did this and it was wrong on every level--legal, moral, and practical. We renounce and denounce any such activities. We shall not allow them in the future and we will prosecute those responsible for such behavior according to the laws of the land (which the President, as a law professor, knows include the treaties of which we are signatory).

That would release an absolute shit storm but it could also restore a great deal of our credibility and national pride. We must deal with the truth.

And what the fuck is Dick Cheney doing walking around instead of his lying, treasonous ass being behind bars? May I suggest he enjoy some leisure travel on the Iberian peninsula?
--the BB

Heaert Thread - 05/13/2009

From FranIAm:
My sister in law OS has shown evidence of malignant cervical cells. Due to her age, weight and other health conditions her doctor is recommending her to a special surgeon for a hysterectomy. She is very frightened. O is not a woman of particular faith, actually has been quite scarred by it. That said she is wanting to pray and be prayed for. It is in the nature of my husband's family to expect the worst in all things and then actually manipulate things unconsciously to bring the worst forth and "be done with it." Please pray for her health but also for her hope and faith, which is what she really needs.

Although she has not asked me to do this, I am asking for ongoing prayers for less-and-less of a lurker Chris. She has said a few words and I know she has corresponded with at least one of you. She also has reached out to Roseann by phone, she feels so quietly connected to this community. She has had her ongoing health challenges that I have asked for prayer about in the past and these are indeed ongoing. Please support her and hold her in prayer. Chris is often taking care of everyone else, I seek prayers to take care of her!

For those of you who do post prayer lists, if you can post this on your blogs, great. If not, no worries, just thank you from deeply in my heart for the prayers.

And I am fine - presentation at diocesan event went well... so thanks for your prayers on that. Also ongoing thanks for all the amazing help I received and paid the deductible for my car. I send my love, gratitude and prayers to and for all!! I am just too busy this week and actually already late to leave the house which I will not return to until 10pm tonight. That's cool though, all is well, thanks be to God!!! Your collective prayers for me are ever present, well received and appreciated more than words could ever say.


"In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways."
Edith Wharton
[Emphases mine]

Please follow the links and join in prayer at OCICBW (for mibi52 and Nij and JCF and Amber) and at Acts of Hope (for Cecilia and Deenie).

Continued prayers for Roseann and Gary.

And for Kirstin:
One more med pick-up
Two blood draws
Seven weeks between me and freedom. :-)
For Frank and Robert and Ellie and J and E and Jay and Glen and Lisa and for Doxy as she deals with way too many good things all at once and all the other folks I am forgetting to name this morning before dashing off to work.

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.

--the BB

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Watertiger said it so well

A few words for Dick Cheney:
Newsflash, you fucking ghoul: your beliefs don't supersede the law.

[Spelling corrected]

A novel thought in his parallel universe, I know.
--the BB

Monday, May 11, 2009

Say thanks to a Nurse this week

It is Nurses Week.

My niece Jannita is a NICU nurse and the Hoff family has a nice tribute posted to all the nurses who have kept Katie and Jeremy's twin daughters alive and healthy. Now let's see, what is it Katie did before having the girls...?

Have you thanked a nurse lately?

--the BB

The regency council is formed

As the assassinated prince's widow sits with her three-year-old daughter on her lap. The daughter is swinging a scepter like any child with a stick. The power dynamic has shifted.

I hope to get more writing done this week.
--the BB

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Dinner

Well, actually it was planned as the inaugural feast of my new (modest) BBQ grill, a simple Weber for use with charcoal. The neighbors from across the street came and joined me, so the lady of the house got to eat without cooking or doing dishes. They are such nice people and it was fun to have them over. We ate lots but it was abstemious - no alcohol.

I, on the other hand, am now having a nice drinkie now that the dishes are in the dishwasher and the leftovers are put away. I will not be planting more as it cools off this evening, my body is too sore for more digging. Tomorrow, I hope. I still have the squash and some petunias to put in and today after church I stopped by the growers' market and came home with three penstemons and two heirloom tomato seedlings. I am now puzzling over where to put everthing, given that squash take lots of room.

It has been a good weekend, even without writing, yet a tiring one.

--the BB