Saturday, August 01, 2009

Three years ago

'A Moment of Opportunity'
By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Monday, July 31, 2006; 1:42 PM

President Bush's "moment of opportunity" in the Middle East is increasingly looking like an opportunity for disaster.

Bush's official position is that some blood-spilling in the Middle East is worth it in pursuit of the region's positive transformation.

Even in the wake of an Israeli airstrike Sunday that killed 57 civilians in the Southern Lebanese town of Qana, every terse presidential acknowledgment of the human toll is accompanied by soaring rhetoric about freedom and democracy and lasting stability.
In the best of circumstances, Bush would be running the risk of being considered callous. But in the current circumstances, he runs the risk of being considered both callous and delusional.

By almost no stretch of the imagination is the current conflict strengthening Bush's hand or advancing democracy. Rather, it appears to be emboldening Bush's enemies.
It's increasingly accepted wisdom in Washington that what's going on in the Middle East right now is a "proxy war" between the U.S. and Iran. But even through that lens, the U.S. appears to be losing.

And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, heading back to the U.S. after another round of what some journalists are credulously calling "shuttle diplomacy," appears to be "negotiating" primarily with Israel -- her own proxy.

You don't get much more Washington Establishment than Richard N. Haass, who was Bush's first-term State Department policy planning director and now leads the Council on Foreign Relations. And he apparently finds Bush's position laughable. Literally.

Peter Baker writes in the Washington Post that Haass "laughed at the president's public optimism. 'An opportunity?' Haass said with an incredulous tone. 'Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?' "

We were concerned (and I still am) about the reliability of voting machines.

Swiftboaters were going after John Murtha.

Jerusalem Post: U.S. Urges Attack on Syria
by Jeff Huber
Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 08:36:22 AM PDT
No, this doesn't come from the Conspiracy Free Press. It's from Sunday's Jerusalem Post:
[Israeli] Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria.

The Democratic leadership of Congress sent a letter to GWB:
Despite the latest evidence that your Administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory, there has been virtually no diplomatic effort to resolve sectarian differences, no regional effort to establish a broader security framework, and no attempt to revive a struggling reconstruction effort. Instead, we learned of your plans to redeploy an additional 5,000 U.S. troops into an urban war zone in Baghdad. Far from implementing a comprehensive "Strategy for Victory" as you promised months ago, your Administration=' strategy appears to be one of trying to avoid defeat.

63 killed in Iraq as government struggles to impose control
Mainichi Daily News - 1 hour ago
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A roadside bomb blew up a bus, killing 24 people in it as gunmen ambushed and shot dead five workers of a power station in a day of widespread violence across Iraq that left 63 people dead Tuesday. ...
bomb attacks kill more than 40 in Iraq Times Online
52 killed in Iraq attacks The Australian

--Google headlines

We will have a better idea of where we are if we remember how we got here.
--the BB

Susie speaks for me

I agree with Susie Madrak that folks using certain deceitful scare tactics should rot in hell. I know I won't grant them absolution unless they have enough contrition to confess publicly the evil they are doing.

There is no excuse for their behavior.

--the BB

Le estupidez me da asco

Bill Maher's New Rules on several things, including the birthers:

And once these stories get out there, they're hard to stamp out because our media do such a lousy job of speaking truth to stupid.

h/t to Heather at Crooks and Liars

--the BB

"The Leverage has switched to the Consumer."

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:
The Health Insurance Industry, is the biggest Opponent, the biggest Opponent of this legislation passing, AND with a Public Option in it. Because they know the glory days are over for them --

The Leverage has switched to the Consumer.

Congress and the President will remove the Insurance Industry from coming between the Patient and his or her Doctor.

From your mouth to God's ear, Nancy.

h/t to jamess at Daily Kos. You may watch the video there.

--the BB

Day trip! - updated

Today my friend Kathy and I headed out of town. We checked out some of the crafts in Tijeras then went toward Cedar Crest. I had not been up to Sandia Crest in forever so off we headed to Cíbola National Forest and the peak where one can look down on Albuquerque and a whole lot more.

No matter what the larger views, I was looking at details of flora, as usual.

I loved these deep violet penstemon, seen here with asters.

Looking east

Looking south

Looking down with a telephoto lens
See the butterfly!

On the way back we stopped at Ribs and had... ribs, of course. With Diet Coke and iced tea we toasted Darkslayer, the hero of my first two books, born on this day in 1691.

And that's my big old day. Or at least my beautiful afternoon.

Here is a shot of where we were as viewed from the west side of Albuquerque.

I have shared lots of photos of the Sandia Mountains since they are the predominant feature no matter where one is in this area. They rise 5000 feet above the city and Sandia Crest, the highest point, reaches 10,678 feet (3,255 m).
--the BB

Do I live in a backward country?

Here is some news from Albania:
By Benet Koleka

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania's homosexuals won more than they had hoped for after the government said it planned to allow same-sex marriages despite opposition from religious leaders and politicians.

The proposal put forward by Prime Minister Sali Berisha on Thursday faces a tough fight in parliament.

But should he make good on his plans, Albania would join European Union members The Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain in giving gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples and would be the first country in the Balkans to do so.
Toujours Dan posts the BBC article with the heading "Al... Albania?"

As Mark Lowen notes in the BBC post:
In a predominantly Muslim country with almost no open homosexual community, the announcement by a conservative PM has taken people by surprise.

And that is an understatement, I'm sure.

As for me living in a backward country, just check out the "birther" movement.

--the BB

Consensus and secrecy?

Leon Panetta seems still to be playing the "trust us" card on behalf of the CIA. Uh, Leon? That's why we call it oversight.

You may read emptywheel's post by clicking the link above.
--the BB

Dang, did my people leave too soon?

My father's parents came from Sweden at the end of the nineteenth century and met in the US. As readers here know, I am a typical third-generation American from an earlier era. My grandparents learned English but spoke Swedish in the home. Dad and my aunts and uncles all spoke Swedish and English as children. My sister, cousins, and I have pretty much zip of the ancestral culture.

My inner self is Mediterranean/Latin American. Nothing about me (except being tall and blue-eyed) seems Swedish. But when I see things like this video I cannot help feeling proud of "my people."

Dadlabs has a video just under ten minutes on Swedish social policies and paternity leave. Rather enlightened. We really need to get over the use of "socialism" as a scare tactic.

At the official Swedish website I saw this:
Why Pride in Sweden?
by: Stephen Whitlock
Summer brings a number of arts festivals, concerts … and gay Pride parades. In the four decades since the modern gay rights movement began in the United States, Pride marches have become well-established highlights of the warmer months in many cities around the world.
Read more about Pride in Sweden
Today is the Pride Parade in Stockholm.

h/t to Democrats Ramshield for the post at DK today: An American expat's view of the European social safety net versus the American social safety net.

OK, my roots are showing today. Another bit from
Carl Linnaeus is Sweden's most famous natural scientist. Yet his importance is not confined to the international history of science. As the author of living classics which people still read he can also be said to be a part of Swedish everyday life today.

The Swedes, perhaps, look upon him primarily as a traveller and explorer of their own country, while to others he is the father of the modern classification of flora and fauna. But he was much more than this - an inspiring teacher, for example, who sent his students on voyages of scientific discovery all over the world.
I add this tidbit because my grandmother honored him by naming one of my aunt's Violet Linnea.

¡Bueno! ¿No les parece suficente? Ya puedo regresar a mi disposición cotidiana de alma latina en cuerpo sueco.
--the BB

It is in the legal record now - updated with link

FishOurofWater reports at Daily Kos:
Major David J.R. Frakt gave a blistering argument, a virtual indictment of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzales for enabling war crimes in his request for pre-trial dismissal in the case of United States v. Mohammed Jawad, the 12 year old child that was tortured by the United States then held in Gitmo indefinitely. The Court has now ordered the release of Jawad.

Sadly, this military commission has no power to do anything to the enablers of torture such as John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Robert Delahunty, Alberto Gonzales, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Haynes, Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for the jurisdiction of military commissions is strictly and carefully limited to foreign war criminals, not the home-grown variety. All you can do is to try to send a message, a clear and unmistakable message that the U.S. really doesn’t torture, and when we do, we own up to it, and we try to make it right.
FishOutofWater concludes:
JAG Fract, by winning this case with this damning evidence has put into the legal record, a basis for trying Yoo, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other high level Bush administration officials as war criminals.

It's past time to appoint a special prosecutor.

However, if American courts don't act there is now a clear case on the record for action in the Hague or other courts to try Cheney, Rumsfeld and other high level Bush administration officials for war crimes.
The petition to the Department of Justice to appoint a special prosecutor may be found here.

--the BB

Friday, July 31, 2009


07/31/09 Reuters:
U.S. soldier killed as deadliest Afghan month closes
A U.S. service member was killed as the deadliest month for foreign troops in the Afghanistan war drew to a close, the U.S. military said on Friday, with commanders vowing to continue the fight despite the toll.

07/30/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Chief Warrant Officer Douglas M. Vose III, 38, of Concrete, Wash., died July 29 in Kabul Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion...

07/30/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Gerrick D. Smith, 19, of Sullivan, Ill., died July 29 in Herat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry, Illinois Army National Guard, Marion, Ill.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

--the BB

Summertime and the living is dicey

The days at this time of year were long. Š., the summer solstice, was little more than a week away. The fire of heaven beat upon the warriors, making small ovens of their metal helmets, soaking into their armor and causing it to feel heavier than it was, mocking their resolve and draining them of energy. Those who fainted from heat and lack of water did not survive unless comrades could pull them from the fray or the enemy mistook them for the already dead.


D’s evil fantasies that morning of poisoning the [River] T. had a foul reversal when his own blood tainted the [River] P., his injured and almost fainting body stumbling at the water’s edge. It was not even a great servant of [the war goddess] who dealt the final blow but a nine-year-old boy who had joined the rush from the city to finish of the invaders. The lad swung his father’s shovel in a great arc that caught the staggering baron in the ribs and pushed him off the riverside path and over the bank. Dazed, bleeding, and disoriented the man who once hosted a young [claimant to the throne] fell into the battle-muddied water and drowned in his first desperate breath.
Oh yes, the war has gotten nasty. War has a way of doing that. We have reached the point of massacre and none of the principals were even involved in this battle.

It is time now to return to the heartland and the three main armies.

I promise that I did not consciously think of the Republicans and Blue Dogs in Congress while writing of this slaughter, but wearing crankypants all this week does fit with the tenor of the current passages.

On to chapter fifty-eight tomorrow, perhaps. Midafternoon I am running off with my friend Kathy to Tijeras, just so we can get out of town and visit.

I was so tired today that I took a nap earlier this evening AND I plan to go to bed before too long.

Sweet dreams, my sensuous sweetmeats!

--the BB

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heart thread - 07/30/2009

It has been a long time since I posted one of these and I apologize for all those whom I have not lifted up here in the interval. As Tom Schultz, OHC, always reminded me, "Pray as you can, not as you can't." So tonight I shall raise up the little that I can.

First, thanks to those of you who helped pray my friend Karen's friend Sandra to her rest. Our vicar sent this note out last Saturday:
Dear Prayer Partners,

Karen ... called me this afternoon to tell me that Sandra ... died peacefully at home last evening. We continue to hold her husband, Ed, in prayer as he continues on in life without Sandra.
Karen knew that many here and via OCICBW were praying for Sandra and she expressed her appreciation.

Tonight came this word about a beloved member of our mission:
Peter Low, faithful member of San Gabriel’s, died peacefully at his Arizona home, Monday morning, July 27, 2009. For the many that held Peter in prayer the family is grateful. We, who knew Peter, are sad as he leaves this earthly realm but know that Peter as a faithful man has returned to his Creator for eternity.
My sister just sent this word about our Aunt May:
She was sent back to the nursing home on Tuesday. I saw her yesterday. She is still very OK mentally and very depressed. She hates it and wants this to be over. She and Judy have decided on "comfort care" only. She is on oxygen but still having breathing issues. It is a nice place, and she is just wanting everyone to leave her alone. She is refusing food, just doesn't feel like eating. I told her I would do anything she wanted me to do, bring her anything she needed and all she asked was to pray this would be over soon. I can do that!
Please add your own petitions, intercessions, and thanksgivings in the comments.

--the BB

Nous te félicitons

My friend James' program has been nominated by his peers as the best Radiography Program in the country and he has been nominated by his peers as the Most Effective Radiologic Technologist Educator in the country! (news from Facebook)

Way to go, James!

--the BB

Война и мир

What the northerners did not know, nor did T., was that a humble hut three miles west of the town now sheltered the little princess.... Armies moved with the lofty goal of taking cities but no one paid attention to a modest country family with a new grandchild.
I have not given Grandmère any cute baby fixes for a while, so I thought I should share these short passages from today's storytelling.
Š. quickly decided she enjoyed life without fussy courtiers around and found the freedom to get dirty incredibly liberating. This was a three-year-old’s paradise so long as one ignored the occasional tantrum and had no knowledge that one had become an orphan.
Of the three claimants to the throne for which this child was ostensibly destined, one cousin would probably force her to marry his son, the other cousin would have her killed (as he had done with her mother), and her aunt? Neither of those actions, but what?

I have been talking about five armies moving about but as I pause I realize there were really six organized military bodies, though two more just joined the fighting today. How did Tolstoy write War and Peace without spreadsheets and genealogy programs?

The "find" function in documents is also very helpful. Good for questions like "have I introduced this character yet?" and "what have I said about this town?" and "are her/his physical characteristics defined yet?"

I suppose this would be as good a moment as any to tell those who have not heard it about my adventure at my grandparent's farm. I was three, the same age as the little princess. I saw some bantam chicks and thought they were too cute for words. I wanted to play with them, I suppose, but their mother had different ideas. I have no memory of any of this but my mother told me the story. Mother hen went after me. It explains something. I have an uncontrollable phobia of beaks and claws. Over the decades I have come to appreciate and love birds. Just so they don't get too close. Watching them, putting out seed, learning to identify them, etc.--all wonderful. But do I need to tell y'all that when my parents got me a parakeet to help me overcome this it was not a success? Imagine my relief when mom said he flew away while she was cleaning his cage (which I didn't buy for a minute). I actually worried about the bird but I was glad he was gone.

OK, Mimi , David, and baby lovers everywhere, here are Clara and Olivia on Monday.

I'm going to return to the war for the throne.

--the BB

Health Care Reform: 450,000 Doctors Can't Be Wrong

h/t to Robert Greenwald

How legislation works

Hunter posted a wonderful satire on Wednesday titled "The Senate Finance Committee Regulates Lead Paint ."

Here's a tidbit. We may as well have a giggle amid all this, though it's the kind that underscores the grave malfeasance going on.
Senator: "Golly, Mr. Lobbyist, people are really pissed off with your lead-based paint. We're thinking we're going to have to regulate it to remove the lead, or at least reduce the amount of lead in it or something."

Lobbyist: "Well, you could do that... but that would interfere with the free market."

Senator: "Good point. Well, we're all about being fair to the marketplace here. What do you propose we do instead?"

Lobbyist: "Well, hmm. For starters, I think it should be a law that everyone must buy lead paint every year."
--the BB

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't expect me to take off those crankypants anytime soon

Look, we all know that certain large corporate groups own the country, much as a handful of families have long owned our neighbor to the south.

By own I mean they control the money, the levers of power, and the flipping gummint. I.e., they own enough members of Congress that they can do whatever they damn well please with no accountability to the collective well being of the citizens of this nation.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
We, the People of the United States of America, need to take back our country.

Am I talking class warfare? Hell yes! Class warfare has been waged steadily for a long time and it's the wealthy and powerful waging it against the rest of us. Fight back!

Molly Ivins, peace be upon her, kept telling us that nothing in government would be fixed without campaign finance reform. Can you see the truth of her warning as we ponder how much, say, Max Baucus, has received from the health care industry? Just sayin'.

How about forcing the Congress, by vocal political opinion of the People, to do what is right, to insist on a public option so insurance companies have to compete (I mean, Jesus H. Christ, people, ain't capitalism about competition?), and to return regulation to this nation so the ordinary folk are not screwed at every turn?

--the BB

Just wondering - updated

Has Max Baucus been stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee yet?

Why the hell not?

Somebody needs to yank that man's choke collar. Hard and repeatedly.

With this post I am introducing a new tag: "treason equivalency."

HELENA — As Sen. Max Baucus has taken the lead on health-reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, he's also become a leader in something else: Campaign money received from health- and insurance-industry interests.

In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by Baucus, D-Mont., and his political-action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical-supply firms, health-service companies and other health professionals.

These donations total about $3.4 million, or $1,500 a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.
Not that this would have anything to do with his killing the public option in his committee.

With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans to destroy us?
--the BB

A letter from Afghanistan

Sure it was a form letter, but that I got such a note at all means a lot. I cried when I read it.

It was sent by a Captain in the US Air Force stationed in Afghanistan, and it thanked me for sending a care package to the troops. It spoke of their work training the Afghan Army Air Corps on helicopter operations.

All I did was go to and picked something and asked it be sent to any soldier anywhere. It didn't take much but sometimes amid writing letters to congresscritters and posting on this blog one wants to do something very concrete for some specific troop out there, Godde knows where. I didn't sent anything glamorous or fun. But I sent something with my love and prayers in hopes that it would make someone's life a bit more comfortable and serving a bit more bearable, and mostly so s/he would know we have not forgotten them.

Now I'm going to lift an entire post by Bill from Portland Maine and I strongly believe he won't mind or attack me for violating fair use:
Howdy, Neighbor

Couple weeks ago my partner Michael was walkin' the dog and ran into a husband and wife who were also walkin' their critter, and he struck up a conversation that somehow eventually wound up on the subject of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The husband was puzzled when Michael told him about the Netroots for the Troops campaign---the 300 care packages that we'll be boxing up and sending from Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan---because he thought our soldiers had everything they needed. It came as a surprise to him that things like work gloves, LED flashlights, and gel insoles for boots weren't available 24/7 on an as-needed basis. Well, they're not. And with a huge chunk of our military still over there, they need that stuff as much as ever, along with anti-boredom goodies like phone cards, CDs and DVDs.

The NFTT goal is to raise $50k in cash and corporate in-kind donations. A few weeks ago we were halfway there. Today we're nearly 80 percent of the way there. The vast, vast, vast majority of donations have been small, proving once again that when the netroots band together, y'all kick butt. And now we're in the home stretch.

On July 8th I set a modest $1,000 "mini goal" in C&J, and you knocked it outta the park without batting an eye---I think it took about an hour. Since it's getting to be crunch time, let's do $2k today---a mere 100 donations of $20 each. If we hit it, I'll do two things: 1) Leave you alone until next year, and 2) Break into a Matt dance at Netroots Nation or anywhere else on demand (yes, even during church services and colonoscopies).

Michael and I will start with $20 apiece, and add $20 on behalf of our neighbors who think the NFTT idea is a pretty cool way to support the troops, especially since so many people seem to have forgotten that they're over there. Here's the Netroots for the Troops donation link. Sorry, but due to budget cuts it no longer tastes like tangerine if you try to lick it.

Please note that the thank-you screen won't reflect a donation to NFTT, but rather Netroots Nation. But we promise your donation WILL go into a special NFTT account. For peace of mind, you can write "Netroots for the Troops" in the comment box when you submit your contribution.

Donations are tax deductible, thanks to Netroots Nation and its partner, Netroots Arts and Education Initiative, a CA 501(c)3 corporation. NAEI partners with Netroots Nation to support its programming.

Thank you for supporting this effort. The men and women in uniform who receive these packages are gonna be thrilled. I'm guessing that's a feeling they don't get to experience very often over there.

This is the liberal left getting behind the troops, and ain't it beautiful?

Remember, you can click links and help out.

And if times are so tough you cannot help out right now, God bless you and keep you until a better day.

Thanks, friends.

--the BB

756 - updated with graph

07/29/09 :
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Andrew Scott Charpentier, 21, of Great Falls, Mont., died July 23 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla., from a non-combat related illness incurred while assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion, Guan

07/27/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Pfc. Donald W. Vincent, 26, of Gainesville, Fla., died July 25 of wounds sustained while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division...

07/27/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Justin D. Coleman, 21, of Weeki Wachee, Fla., died July 24 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires.

This is not the most elegant graph (and me an accountant!) but I want you to note the red line that represents fatalities in 2009. Afghanistan is not going to be "the forgotten war" much longer.

We must remember that these are not numbers or statistics; they are human lives.

No death on any side in any war is simply a number.


May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
--the BB

She, whose brother stands to gain the throne, takes her own life

“You speak fair, [Lord],” U. said, “but you must excuse me if my heart does not rejoice. Many of my people walked the stars yesterday, and some soon will from injuries sustained. My son’s wife chose to die rather than serve your lady. You must give me, and my people, time to feel the ashes we wear.”

O., realizing he had been talking too much in this early season of grief, nodded his understanding.
They had toiled past midnight just building all the pyres needed for those who fell that day in battle. One death stood out: that of a young woman with as much princely blood of F. in her veins as the other young woman who will, finally, sit on the throne. All others had died at the hands of an enemy. Perhaps she, in her anxiety and despair, was her own enemy. What might her life have been like if she had not cut it short? A living hell, she thought. But as the tale unfolds, she may well have lived long and happily.

Too much death. Too many lives cut short. Such a high and tragic price.

Tonight's snippet was from the middle of Chapter 57. Moving right along. I am guessing that I am about halfway through the tale.
--the BB

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And "centrists"? They aren't centrists, they're insurance shills!

Healthcare cooperatives are not an alternative, they are a sellout to the insurance companies. The Los Angeles Times headline writers should be ashamed. (I refuse to link.)

--the BB

We cannot afford to wait, or to dither and dally - updated

I am proud to say I was one of the first signatories when they launched the petition. Can you help push that number higher?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 at 07:23:09 AM PDT

Senators Durbin, Leahy and Schumer [...] created, which already has 69,722 signatures as of 7am PST.

Thenekkidtruth writes at Daily Kos:
This is WAR, my friends. The results of inaction may well be that we're no better off than we've been since Richard Nixon, while Max Baucus enjoys years of gracious lunches with healthcare lobbyist cockroaches at Olive Garden.

Can you just imagine Senator Leahy before the cameras announcing a million signatories after only a few short days?

Make it so !!!!
Here is the text. Is it something you would put your name to?
With nearly 50 million Americans lacking health insurance, and premiums rapidly rising, it's time to address the health care crisis in our country. All Americans deserve access to affordable, quality health care -- and today, nearly one-in-six of us don't have it.

I join Senators Durbin, Leahy, and Schumer in their efforts to pass strong health care reform legislation this year. In particular, I support the creation of a public health insurance option that would foster greater competition in the marketplace, create more choices for consumers, and lead to lower costs and better quality for all.

Please reform our health care system this year!

It's 81,229 as of 8:17 PM MDT. That's almost 12,000 signatures just today. Let's organize the blogosphere and get the word out.

[Update: Wednesday evening at 10:39 MDT it had another 6,000+ signatures. Way to go!]

I also sent another e-mail to one of my senators, Jeff Bingaman, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee. With Max Baucus, Lord love him. Bingaman strongly supports a public option but I keep urging him to be strong on it. Hang in there, Jeff!

Congress and the President need to hear from the American People.

--the BB

"At the behest of the Americans...."

Clive Stafford Smith reports this in today's Guardian:
It pains me, then, to report on the role of the British government in the case of Saad Iqbal Madni, whose legal case Reprieve begins today. Madni was seized in Jakarta on 11 January 2002, and badly beaten. The Americans put him in a coffin, and flew him to Egypt, apparently stopping off in the British colony of Diego Garcia en route. When Madni arrived in Cairo, he was still bleeding through his nose and mouth from his earlier abuse, yet this was soon relegated to a minor complaint. At the behest of the Americans, he spent 92 days being tortured with electric cattle prods, before being rendered to Afghanistan and ultimately to Guantánamo Bay.
Now, if I may, I should like to underscore one sentence of this:
At the behest of the Americans, he spent 92 days being tortured with electric cattle prods, before being rendered to Afghanistan and ultimately to Guantánamo Bay.
Thank you. I knew you would want to savor that sentence, to roll it around on your brain and extract every drop of sadistic goodness from it.

Yes, I am still wearing crankypants today and I want the torture squad that operated out of the Bush White House to pay for this. Dubya, Darth, Condiliar, Rummy, Yoo, Delahunty, Addington, Gonzo, et alii. They should not be allowed outside a cell for the rest of their lives.

--the BB

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wearing my crankypants tonight

I must have felt repentant when I stopped using my chainsaw and vinegar graphic because I cannot find it in my archives. Evidently I deleted it. I really wanted to bring it out of retirement tonight. (For newbies, it is related to my comments about people who should be sodomized with a chainsaw and dipped in a vat of their own bile and vinegar.)

I am nominating for the aforementioned treatment all who are obstructing the passage of health care reform WITH a strong viable public option and/or are carrying water for the insurance companies (said corporations having long since proven themselves minions of Satan). I don't give a damn whether such obstructionists have a D or an R behind their name.

I am also inclined to suggest that members of Congress, both houses, have their feet nailed to the floor of their respective chamber until they pass legislation that helps the American people with our current health care disaster. No fucking recess, kids, class isn't over!

Told y'all in an earlier post today that I'm feeling cranky.

As for "bipartisanship" I have this to say. Dems, you were elected or re-elected to bring major change to America. Universal health care is part of your party platform. We voted for you because we want it. It will be a disaster for this nation if you don't make it happen. The overwhelming majority of the American public wants a public option. So, Dems, you have a majority. Enough to pass legislation. It's time to grab your opponents by the balls and squeeze, hard, real hard, until they fall to their knees and cry, then kick them in the teeth and toss them to the side of the road and PASS THE LEGISLATION. They are not bringing anything to the party so stop kowtowing to them you lily-livered pussies! Remember when Rush Limpbone was telling the Dems that until they won they were supposed to shut up? Ahem. Sauce for the gander time.

I know, you want to be friends with them when this is all over. Well, let me tell you something. You may possibly be cocktail party friends with some of them afterward, though they will still despise you. But if you fail, the people who elected you, contributed to your campaigns, volunteered for you, and cheered you on are going to despise you too. Think about that. Real hard. Because you are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory right now and it ain't pretty, and it ain't serving the American people, and it ain't gonna get you reelected. We haven't gotten a year into the Obama term and you are well on your way to relegating our party to the ash heap.

Now that you have a majority in both houses and a Democratic (though centrist) President, are you going to sit idly by while people die, the economy goes down the toilet, and our future is tossed away, doomed to providing health only to the wealthy while the mass is malnourished and sickened, and some folks for various ignoble reasons are stalling?

What the fuck are you thinking? Have you no shame? No integrity? No morals? No courage?

Fergodsake, do the job we elected you to do.

--the BB

Un jitomate

In Mexico tomate becomes jitomate. I don't know the history of that etymological change but since I am a California native that is term I routinely use for tomato when speaking Spanish.

Tonight I waited until almost sunset before watering the yard and even then it was hot when I ventured out the back door. After watering I did a bit of pruning then collected two small handfuls of tomatoes. I have tiny yellow pear ones and bright red cherry ones. And I harvested the one I've been watching for weeks, a golf-ball size red and orange striped one that was nestled between two branches that had just started to crush it. No salt, no olive oil, no chiffonade of basil, just pure tomato.

And it was good.

Heavenly. The real firstfruits of the yard.

--the BB

Henry II had a point

I love nuance when I respect it, and if that ain't one helluva condition I don't know what is. I have heard scholars balance perspectives in tension, offer shading and complexity, and stood in awe and admiration. Then there are times I suspect it all boils down to something rotten at its core.

Tobias is a holier man than I.
In the meantime, I find the document on the whole to be helpful. Read with care, you will see it is all about process and development of doctrine. While some are reading it as a "No" to same-sex marriage or ordination of bishops, it is rather a very well framed "Not Yet." There is a huge difference, and I think we all know the way the Wind is blowing -- where it wills, and not as we choose.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 11:07pm BST
It is certainly a "Not Yet."

But it is also a lot of codswallop and an enormous amount of hypocrisy.

For my money, +Rowan Cantuar just told the LGBT portion of humanity, ever so academically, "Fuck you!" To which I say, ever so impolitically, "Back atya, Bristles!"

Then again, it has been years since I cared what he thought about anything except in terms of the damage it does. Rather as I think of the current pope. I think Rowan would be pleased by the comparison.

This bear is not in a charitable mood today.

I leave it to my friends in the blogosphere to ponder, debate, and analyze with greater precision and charity.

--the BB


DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Herberth A. Berrios-Campos, 21, of Bealeton, Va., died July 24 in Salman Pak, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment...


07/25/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (2 of 2)
Nicholas G. Xiarhos, 21, of Yarmouth Port, Mass...died July 23 of wounds suffered while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division...

07/25/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (1 of 2)
Lance Cpl. Jeremy S. Lasher, 27, of Oneida, N.Y...died July 23 of wounds suffered while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

That this should be needed is a national shame - Updated

Congress should haul its ass down to Wise County, Virginia, and look at where our current health care situation has taken us. We cannot afford the status quo - it will take us down a vortex from which there may be no return. Those obstructing reform should be horsewhipped in the public square (I'm looking at you Blue Dogs and Repugnicans!).

As for the executives of the insurance companies fighting tooth and nail to keep their cabals and obscene profits, I may bring the chainsaw and vinegar out of retirement.

Amy Goodman reports at Democracy Now:

Transcript available on Crooks and Liars.

An excerpt:
STAN BROCK: Well, Remote Area Medical history goes back to many years when I lived in the Upper Amazon, and this is before Wild Kingdom. And I was living with a tribe of Native Americans called the Wapishana Indians, and we were—well, it was a very remote area on the northern border of Brazil in what used to be British Guiana. I had a nasty accident there with a wild horse. And while I was being pulled out from underneath the horse, one of the Wapishana said, “Well, the nearest doctor is twenty-six days on foot from here.”

It was about that time that I got the idea of bringing those doctors just a little bit closer. And that’s what we did many, many years later when I formed Remote Area Medical, but subsequently found that there were a lot of people like those Wapishanas here in the United States that didn’t have access to healthcare. And so, 64 percent of everything we do is now right here in America.
h/t to Susie Madrak


Teacherken is a frequent poster at Daily Kos. He is my age, teaches social studies in high school and is a passionate, articulate commenter on our society and the policies and politics thereof. He was there this weekend and shares his observations and responses here.
For others? Cannot we reconnect ourselves with what it means to be part of community, part of common humanity.

". . .and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . "

Might not being able to smile be one of the blessings of liberty? Do we not owe that to one another?

I will carry this weekend with me for the rest of my life. If I do not, if it has not meaningfully changed me, then I have neither conscience nor soul.
--the BB

Department of Pre-Spin (updated for typo)

After all this time - and still no justice - do you wonder about Scooter Libby's commuted sentence combined with Bush's refusal, in spite of Darth's urgent pleas, to give him a pardon? Are you curious about the things still not known to the general public? What did Bush know or not know, do or not do? How many levels of lies and manipulation can we attitute to Dick the Dick? (Answer: count grains of sand on all the shores on earth.) Whose butts are being covered and why?

Time has an article on Cheney's and Libby's pleas for a pardon, all turned down by Bush. But there's plenty of spin and glossing over there.

If you want the down and dirty on the treasonous exposure of a covert agent in a time of war, always turn to Marcy Wheeler, aka emptywheel. She has a long post up today. More detail than many of you will care for, but will be able to see the issues involved.

--the BB

Chillaxin' - updated(2x)

Thanked God for the miracle of a new day and the gift of my life. Check.

Played Freecell while waiting for pages to load. Check.

Went to Mass and yakked with folks afterward. Check.

Went to the gym, rode the bike, pumped iron, sweated in sauna. Check.

Stopped on the way home and had Chinese for lupper. Check. Asked for chili paste to give it some pizazz. Check. Now we're talking!

Saw interesting clouds on the way home as another afternoon rain builds us. Check.

Chilling. Check.

Later today: finish comb-binding a book and assemble a reference source; work on novel.


Took 45-minute nap. Check.

Popped brownies into oven. Check.

Had a couple of brownies for supper. Very naughty. Check.

Finished binding book and reference. Check.

Unfinished: work on novel. But I can get back to that today (Monday).

--the BB