Saturday, September 19, 2009

Heart thread - 09/19/2009 - updated

On this feast of St Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury - the one who ordained Cuthbert a bishop - there are many to pray for.

For Margaret who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, "for grace and strength for all her children and grandchildren in the days to come."

Mimi asks us to "please pray for the family of a young friend of ours. His father, aged in his late 50s, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on Thursday. There was no known history of heart disease."

Fran asks: "Please pray for the soul of Juliette, mother of my boss, Father Jerome Gingras. Juliette died on Friday at age 95. Please pray also for Fr. Jerry and his family. Juliette was in good health almost all the way to the end. Fr. J did get to see her and spend time with her on Thursday, which was a real blessing."

For Joel, who finally got a diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, and for Margaret as they deal with this going forward.

For Mother Sandra and her ongoing healing.

Friend Steve writes: "Keep Brother Roosevelt in your prayers. Can't find work down in Florida. He's looking for any type of contract work throughout the country. Tough times these days for bean counters."

For the soul of my Aunt May whose funeral will be this coming Wednesday and for my cousin Judy and the rest of the family.

For Mark (Mapko = Marko) in his sudden loss.

For Marc Andrus, Bishop of California, having surgery for prostate cancer Monday, September 28 [thanks, David, I was sloppy on which Monday].

For those with no health care or inadequate health care and for those who struggle on their behalf to move this nation toward a civilized system that cares for all.

I offer thanksgiving for the US scrapping proposed missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic and for Russia abandoning their plans to deploy missiles near Poland.

For the new year as the Jewish Community enters the Days of Awe. L'shana tova.

For a happy Eid ul-Fitr (even if I'm running a bit late here).

For the repose of the souls of Patrick Swayze and Mary Travers.

For the upcoming meeting of Abbas, Netanyahu, and Obama - for the sake of all the peoples of the Middle East.

For Fran's swift recovery from her sore throat.

For Diane that her headaches may desist and her health be sound.

For Hans passing a kidney stone this weekend (we think it happened yesterday).

For Myron and all who love him, esp. Sue.

For those ordained in the Diocese of the Rio Grande today that they may be gracious and effective channels of God's love in the lives of many.

For the unemployed.

For E. and D. and T. and K. and A. and J. and S. and D. and P. and R. and F. and S.

When typing I forgot to offer prayers for Ralph: "I’ll be spending the next three weekends (and the free bits in between) moving and might not get to posting much."

And for Jenny who just moved and now faces unpacking.

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--the BB
Photo of Jackie Rago, Venezuelan musician, playing the cuatro.

Where we have, unfortunately, been

Fighting the Moral Decay of "Those People"
by Hunter
Sat Sep 17th, 2005 at 17:00:54 PDT

Public drunkenness. Fighting with the police. Drug use, with few serious efforts at rehabilitation. Sexually-related breaking and enterings, and even international smuggling.

See, this is the problem with America today. And yes, I know this post is going to be controversial on a liberal site, but I think we simply must recognize the problems with having those kind of people in our midst.

I'm sorry, but this is a class thing. It needs to be talked about. It's small wonder we have a breakdown of law and order in this country, when this is the kind of rancid family histories we're dealing with.

Is it simply bad parenting? These kids don't have many good role models to look up to -- if you've got noone in your family to look up to other than drug abusers, petty criminals, etc., I really don't see how you can help turning out the same way.

Or is it deeper than that -- does genetics play a role? Is a lack of respect for the law more "hardwired" in some groups than others? What about drug abuse, surely some groups are more succeptable to it than others?

I'm not sure, but perhaps it's time to administer some sort of tests and find out. Because I'm simply not sure this cultural "melting pot" that is America can stand the strain of all these wealthy white folks invading our neighborhoods and sending things all to hell:
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's (R) youngest son, John Ellis Bush, "was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest," the AP reports. Her is a nephew of President Bush.

"It's not the first time Florida's first family has experienced legal problems with one of their children." Noelle Bush was "sent to jail twice" for violating rules during her rehabilitation following a drug arrest. "She was jailed for three days in July 2002 after being caught with prescription pills and served 10 days a month later after being accused of having a small rock of crack cocaine in her shoe."

Update: A Political Wire reader reminds us that the Bush family's legal trouble doesn't end there. The governor's oldest son broke into an old girlfriend's bedroom window. And Bush's wife, Columba, lied to customs officials a few years back.

by Barbara
Sat Sep 17th, 2005 at 19:37:53 PDT

I have been in Bogalusa, LA for the past three days and today I lost it...emotionally. The pain and suffering, the bullshit by every fucking government agency from the locals to the FEDS.
I have managed to bully my way into the main command center and become friendly enough with the 'important' people, that I have been invited into crucial meetings that are affectionally called "OPEC" meetings because they are about draining/screwing Americans.

Yesterday I was with the "crisis manager" of Bogalusa, Tom Anderson...he's actually a detective in the sheriff's department and while he surely was nice, he's a lying SOB when it concerns what is TRULY happening in Bogalusa. More on the FLIP...PLEASE CONTINUE TO READ THIS AND RECOMMEND

I talked to FEMA reps, RC reps, State Health reps and the hospital folks and received the same "we don't need doctors or nurses to run clinics" (I've been placing medical teams)
Today at the Red Cross shelter, the doctor I traveled with...Dr. Ken Levine, was STILL seeing patients that 'didn't need him' when I left at 7 p.m.


I went to check on my little 80 year old ladies today and stopped at another house with TWO TREES still through it and the couple living there...14 days AFTER the hurricane hit, they put a sign out on their lawn that said "this is how the government treats you"...FEMA went there the next day, gave them a $2k check and wished them good luck.

These people sent their kids to Texas and want to go's a town south of Houston, the name escapes me now. These people have NOT seen the RC and scavange for food/water. She drove for an hour and waited in line for 9 hours to fill out the paperwork for getting RED CROSS vouchers and then was given a NUMBER and told to come back on MONDAY. Now you might think, well they must be in the middle of no where...WRONG, these people are on the ROAD THAT ALL THE GOVERNMENT agencies take to the main control center at least 10 times daily. FEMA never even got people to remove the trees off their roof, they had FRIENDS show up finally.

At my little 80 year old ladies home, I find out they haven't seen the RED CROSS for 2 days and they were out of food and water and needed medical attention and meds. I got them all of that.
While there, their young neighbor talked with the photo journalists who requested I talk to him and I find out that the RED CROSS REFUSED to talk to him, much less help him. This is a 36 year old man who has a wife with POLIO and they are living in a church with NOTHING. FEMA won't talk to them, they have no phone, etc.

From a member of a yahoo group:
Yes, I was literally in the middle of "Katrina". I can only speak about this incident from my own perspective. So do not interpret this as being anyone's opinion but mine.

When Katrina, hit here in Biloxi, MS, there was very little rain, it was more like some kind of a wind storm than anything else. Cocoa (my cat) and I woke up about 7 am on Monday morning to a lot of wind blowing from east to west. Cocoa sat in the dining room window and watched everything blowing by. I sat in my rocker in the living room and also watched a lot blowing by. The electricity and cable had gone out the previous night about midnight, so we were basically cut off from the world. About 3 or 4 PM that afternoon the wind started to die down and a few of my neighbors started sticking their heads out the door to see what the damage was, and what had survived.

On Wednesday following Katrina my neighbor (an elderly woman) came knocking on my door, and asked me if I could get an ambulance for her. Me and my neighbors were all unsuccessful in that attempt, the 911 system had gone down but we were unaware of it. I took my neighbor to Kesler AFB hospital because she is a retired dependent of an Air Force Master Sargent. She was in cardiac distress, she was medivac'ed to Texas where they did heart surgery, I have heard from her yesterday Friday, 09/16/05 and she is now in Florida and doing fine.

The American Red Cross finally started coming though here on either Friday or Saturday after the hurricane offering hot meals and that kind of help. My electricity finally came back on Monday, 09/05/05 (Labor Day). The water was also restored that day. We were without water or power for right at a week.

Telephone service land line/or cell has been very sporadic at best during the week before electricity and ever since. We cannot as yet dial 800 numbers at all, calls out to regular numbers seem to go fine, but incoming calls as still sporadic at best. I can't remember which day this week the cable/internet service was finally reestablished, those of you that have received a personal e-mail from me are in a better position to tell when that was restored than I am.

Our beloved President Bush, has been in and out of Biloxi, two or three times since Katrina, but as far as help goes (FEMA & etc), forget it, there has been none to speak of so far, and guys and gals that are gay (or any single people), from what I have been able to find out can forget getting any help from the government. The American Red Cross still continues to come about every day and offer hot meals at lunch time, the postal service (snail mail) is finally back up (sometime this week) and we now have contact with the outside world. Not one government representative of any kind has yet to knock on my door and tell me where I could possibly get help or to offer any kind of help. So even though we are beginning to recover we have basically been on our own. And, that is unfair for me to say that, because there have been groups of people from churches and individuals who have come forth to try and help us. I met people from Arkansaw, Texas, Georgia, Alabama & Florida, who brought water and anything else like that they could trying to help people out.

So to all of the people who have tried to help, and the people in the groups that have offered help and my personal friends, again I wish to thank all of you, not only on my behalf, but also all the people of the Gulf Coast, we could not have done it without your help.

Al Craven in Biloxi


Four years ago, the self-appointed head of his imaginary American Church, recovering coke addict and alcoholic who calls himself our President stood at Ground Zero with a bullhorn and shouted: "I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Four years after the famous Ground Zero Bullhorn speech, no one has heard a thing. This most incompetent and irresponsible of Presidents, "fully supported" by a Republican Congress, Republican Courts, a Republican Governor of New York State and a Republican Mayor in New York City has accomplished nothing. Four years later Osama bin Laden remains free, his terrorist organization appears to be stronger than ever, we're mired down in that horrible chaos called Iraq (a war based on a series of monumental lies), and Ground Zero remains a huge parking lot for shattered dreams, memories of lost lives and failed "projects".

Yesterday, this two-legged offense to American history, the United States Constitution and decent people around the globe led a church service in the National Cathedral (again, forgetting he's supposed to be our President, not our "Pope") and made another grandstanding, smoke and mirrors pronouncement positioning himself as the savior of the elderly, the vulnerable and the poor." Not satisfied with playing defender of democracy, he now thinks he's the new Mother Theresa.

Egads! Are Americans that stupid? Will they once again swallow the trite and empty lies that spew out of this oil guzzling, planet killing, constitution trashing con artist's mouth? Are we going to allow this monster to use Katrina to drag this nation even further away from the Constitution and from the 21st Century? Are we going to allow him to define "the lesson of Katrina" as a message from God to make this a more Christian nation?

Here is the anecdotal evidence of a growing problem

What did you do today?
by tvb
Fri Sep 16th, 2005 at 23:32:53 PDT

What did you do today?

I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy today.

I had been trying to avoid it but I knew there was a deadline coming. Things would be changing soon.

It was one of the biggest, saddest things I did today, this month, this year, this lifetime. When I left my attorney's office today, it felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.

Venting continues below the fold.

It wasn't credit cards that did me in. I never really used them. I keep one for when I need to rent a car, make hotel reservations, etc. but rarely ever used it otherwise. Even when I used it to guarantee the rental or reservation, I would pay cash.

It wasn't because I was stupid and didn't pay my bills. I did.

But I got sick. Real sick...sick enough to end up in the hospital. I had no insurance and the bills were beyond my means. And the hospital sued me, and they won. The bill was more than I make in a year. Then I got sick again and spent another three days in the hospital.

I don't have medical insurance because I can't afford it. It costs about 40% of what I make. I make about $100 more per month than I can to qualify for Medicaid. My job does not offer insurance.

I have some medical issues that require drugs each month at a cost of $78. These are life-sustaining drugs. If I don't take them, I die. I should see a doctor every 6 months but I can't afford it. It is also the reason I ended up in the hospital twice. If I was able to afford private insurance, it would exclude this pre-existing medical condition.

The bankruptcy filing listed $35K or so in hospital bills. Another $2000 or so was other stuff--nothing major and out of control. The judgment on the first bill was limited to what Medicaid would have paid by the judge. The difference was enormous---thousands of dollars. They were trying to sue for retail because I didn't have insurance and which was way more than HMO and Medicaid reimbursements. That was the only bright spot...that they could not gouge me further because I am poor; the judge would not give them that amount One mistake I made is that I didn't show up with an attorney that day in court but my limited budget forced me to make a decision--I knew I would lose the judgment because I was in their facility and knew my dollars would be better spent on the bankruptcy filing. In our country, dead people can't even get out of medical bills...they will sue the estate according to my attorney.

It got bad after that judgment. My parents who live in another state started to get calls. At first I couldn't figure out why they were calling there. It turns out they got that number because she was listed as my emergency contact at the hospital. The night my mom was dying and ultimately died, a debt collector called repeatedly like it was a game. She called every twenty minutes or so. This was all by a hospital that is non-profit and receives government subsidies. In court, the attorney had with him my medical records; so much for HIPAA. I guess it only applies to those with insurance.

And finally, I gave in and decided, "Screw them". It ultimately came down to those calls to my parents and then only to my dad where they would deliberately ask for my mom. I know this because they were told by him that she had passed away months ago.

When I went over the final filing today with my attorney before it was submitted (it's all done online these days), I was both angry and amused that he knew the names and addresses of all the people I owed money to. He said it is always the same people.

I know I am not alone in what happened to me. Most bankruptcies are due to medical bills
A national health care program could put an end to thousands of bankruptcies. But big business prevails these days and allows banks and credit card issuers to make a fresh start more difficult for those who did nothing to deserve it, other than getting sick in one of the few nations in the world that does not provide medical care to their residents.

My attorney indicated he has never been busier. Gee, I wonder why?

I'm lucky though. Those folks in NOLA who will be struggling (and think of those medical bills!) will not find it so easy. They need to got through income tests and credit counseling at their own expense. That is not right.

Sorry for the length. I'm venting here a bit.

Who's in Charge
Club for Growth guy says:

That sore spot was rubbed raw earlier this week when Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, suggested that the Republican Congress had already trimmed much of the fat from the federal budget, making it difficult to find ways to offset hurricane spending.

Mr. Coburn called such a claim ludicrous and other Republicans took exception as well.
"There has never been a time where there is more total spending and more wasteful spending in Washington than we have today," said Pat Toomey, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and the head of the conservative Club for Growth. "There is ample opportunity to find the offsets we need so that this does not have to be a fiscal disaster as well as a natural disaster."
Still, after years of total Republican rule during which the president has failed to veto a single bill and House Democrats have been completely stripped of any ability to do anything, nothing will stop the Republicans for being portrayed as the party of fiscal restraint.

-Atrios 10:55 AM

Our goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely -- so we'll have a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures.

George W. Bush
President Discusses Hurricane Relief
September 15, 2005

In total, 64% of the IGs appointed by President Bush held some sort of political position, such as a political appointment in a Republican administration or a position with a Republican member of Congress, before their appointments as IGs . . . .Only 18% of the IGs appointed by President Bush had previous audit experience, such as experience in an IG's office, at the Government Accountability Office, or at a private accounting firm.

House Committee on Government Reform
Minority Staff
The Politicization of Inspectors General
January 7, 2005
Janet Rehnquist, the daughter of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, will resign as inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department after a controversial tenure, congressional sources said Tuesday . . . Congress is investigating Rehnquist's work as internal watchdog of the agency, including her decision to delay an audit of Florida's pension fund at the request of Gov. Jeb Bush's office. Investigators also are looking at whether she forced out several top career staff members.

CBS News
Janet Rehnquist Resigns
March 4, 2005
A little over a year ago, Stuart Bowen Jr. was lobbying for a company looking for work in the impending reconstruction of Iraq. A former longtime aide to President Bush, Bowen tapped administration contacts on behalf of URS Group, a consulting firm, and the company eventually landed contracts worth up to $30 million for overseeing Iraqi construction projects. Today, Bowen works for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led bureaucracy running Iraq. In his new job as inspector general, Bowen is the corruption watchdog over more than $20 billion of rebuilding, including the activities of URS, the company he represented.

Chicago Tribune
Insiders Shape Postwar Iraq
June 20, 2004
The man who has issued many critical reports about the mismanagement and security flaws at the Department of Homeland Security was told Wednesday night that he was out of a job.
Clark Ervin made himself very unpopular by issuing a series of stinging reports on security programs that he said had failed, officials he called inept, and fraud that he suspected. His year-end report, out today, alleges that millions of dollars have been wasted or are unaccounted for by the department . . .
The White House appointed Ervin as inspector general for the Homeland Security Department only for the term of Congress. He wanted to stay on, but was informed Wednesday night that he would be replaced. "His term expired and that's that," said a White House spokesperson.

ABC News
Official Who Criticized Homeland Security Is Out of a Job
December 9, 2004
Defense Department Inspector General Joseph Schmitz was appointed to his post by President Bush in 2001 after the Associated Press reported the office "was caught cheating" and destroying internal documents. His office has broad jurisdiction to investigate all Pentagon contracts, both in Iraq and elsewhere . . .
According to the January 5, 1996, Aviation Daily newsletter, Schmitz "had a number of airline clients in his private practice" -- and as IG has subsequently refused bipartisan efforts to intervene and terminate a controversial, multi-billion-dollar Pentagon contract with Boeing. The contract would send more than $23 billion in taxpayer funds to the company, yet in return would only be allowed to lease jets, not own them. In fact, even though Schmitz himself admitted the administration "used inappropriate procurement strategies and did not use best business practices ... to provide sufficient accountability" for the contract, he claimed there was "no compelling reason" to halt the deal.

The American Prospect
These Dogs Don't Hunt
July 9, 2004
Schmitz's office on Tuesday released a 256-page report on the investigation [into the Boeing tanker deal], coinciding with a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the matter, considered the largest procurement scandal in decades. While panel members congratulated Schmitz on the extensive report, some questioned whether the inspector general was too liberal (sic) in redacting 45 sections of the report, including e-mails between key players.
The report also blacks out the names of several government aides. For instance, in one e-mail sent Jan. 19 from Roche to Schmitz, the names of a lawmaker and several administration officials who championed the $23.5 billion plan have been erased.

Government Executive
Pentagon IG: Defense official could face criminal charges
June 7, 2005
Joseph Schmitz, the Pentagon's chief internal watchdog since March 2002, has quit to join a defense contractor involved in private security services . . . Schmitz will become chief operating officer and general counsel of McLean, Virginia-based Prince Group, which manufactures items on contract and owns Blackwater USA, a security consultant working in Iraq . . .

Pentagon's Chief Watchdog Joins
Company that Owns Blackwater
September 1, 2005
Contractors are already lining up for Katrina money . . . Blackwater USA, known for its work supporting military operations in Iraq, said it would provide 164 armed guards to help provide security at FEMA sites in Louisiana.

Contracts will be FEMA's next challenge
September 13, 2005

U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA):
The President suspended wage standards for workers on the Gulf Coast before he declared a national emergency. That means he was so focused on cutting the wages of people who'd be returning to the Gulf Coast to rebuild their lives and their communities that, in order to hasten the suspension, he failed to follow the law. And at the same time the White House was cutting workers' wages, it was busy awarding no-bid contracts. The President has proven once again that he's more interested in governing for the few than in governing for all of us.

The President's pay cut affects tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Americans who desperately need a decent income to rebuild their lives. People working construction jobs in the Gulf Coast might only have earned $7 or $8 in the first place; now, the only protection left for them is the federal minimum wage, which is a disgraceful $5.15 an hour because Republicans repeatedly refuse to increase it.

What the President has done is immoral.

Male Veterinarian Appointed Acting Director of Women's Health, FDA
Posted by Rose Siding
Added to homepage Sat Sep 17th 2005, 11:04 AM ET
Symbolic of the importance the Bush Administration places on women's health, a male veterinarian has been appointed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Lester Crawford as acting director of the Office of Women's Health. Norris E. Alderson, PhD, has spent the majority of his career at the FDA holding various positions in the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The Office for Women's Health, which ensures that the FDA remains gender sensitive and monitors the progress of women's health initiatives, was most recently headed by Dr. Susan Wood. Wood resigned late last month in protest over the FDA's refusal to grant over-the-counter status to emergency contraception.

The incompetence and corruption of the Bush years must NOT be forgotten.

As I read articles in the aftermath of the Federal Levees Distaster (it was not Katrina), I am reminded of how much damage the Bushies did to this nation.

Yes, I remember and bear grudges. Even if they are never held legally accountable, I want their actions exposed to the light for all the world to see.

--the BB

Remembering where we have been

They do it at Home Depot, Lowes and OSH.
They do it at Office Max, Staples and Office Depot.
They do it at Target, K-mart and WalMart.
They do it at Kroger, Safeway and Albertson's.

They do it to every new employee at practically every major retail outlet in this country.

We need to do it to the president. Annually. After all, he is running the country.

How about it, Mr. Bush? Wanna submit to a drug/substance test?

The U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council was "illegal," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the BBC on Wednesday.

"I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time -- without U.N. approval and much broader support from the international community," he said in an interview with the BBC World Service.

The U.N. Charter allows nations to take military action with Security Council approval as an explicit enforcement action, such as during the Korean War and the 1991 Gulf War.

But in 2003, in the build-up to the Iraq war, the United States dropped an attempt to get a Security Council resolution approving the invasion when it became apparent it would not pass.

At the time, Annan had underlined the lack of legitimacy for a war without U.N. approval, saying: "If the United States and others were to go outside the Security Council and take unilateral action they would not be in conformity with the Charter."

Gen. Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and senior military officers over Iraq is worse than any he has ever seen with any previous U.S. government, including during Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

Mid-September 2004 was also the time when Bush's lead in the polls slipped to a statistical heat with Kerry. And it was before the vote counts were manipulated in Ohio to give Bush a second unearned term.

I didn't bother post the links but they're in my archives.

--the BB

Rejecting the GOP stance

No human institution is perfect but rejecting governance is just supporting anarchy. Reagan showed us how to toss the baby out with the bath water, a truly stupid and harmful perspective for which we've paid ever since.

--me on Facebook, linking to G is G

Check out Government is Good for a positive recounting of the appropriate and effective role of government in our lives.

It's time we rejected an approach that leaves the powerful unfettered and the rest fucked over. An anti-government bias is just stupid. And dangerous. Where it is flawed, amend it. Where it gets out of bounds, curtail it. Where it is weak or ineffective, strengthen it. Insist upon appropriate oversight at all times and in all areas. But get the hell over posturing against the very notion of it.

h/t to Dems2006

I especially like this quote:
Government is not simply a provider of services, it is a collective moral endeavor that enable us to promote the common good. It is a public space in which we debate moral questions and try to decide on what is good for society. The market cannot perform this function – it is not an ethical enterprise.
Remember, "politics" comes from the Greek word πολις/polis = city-state. Ultimately it means the procedures and structures by which we arrange our life together in community. It is a good, valid, and morally neutral term. Humans practice good politics and bad politics, efficient politics and ineffective politics. Politics is neither good nor bad in itself. In a government like ours which is predicated upon participation by citizens and is created by Us the People, we - all of us - have a responsibility to shape politics and make government good.

--the BB

Accountability, Oversight, Rule of Law


JUSTICE Act, Introduced on Constitution Day 2009, Would Fix Long Standing Problems with the PATRIOT Act and Other Surveillance Laws

From the press release via Russ Feingold's office:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation to fix problems with surveillance laws that threaten the rights and liberties of American citizens. The Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism.

The JUSTICE Act reforms include more effective checks on government searches of Americans’ personal records, the “sneak and peek” search provision of the PATRIOT Act, “John Doe” roving wiretaps and other overbroad authorities. The bill will also reform the FISA Amendments Act, passed last year, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision, preventing “bulk collection” of the contents of Americans’ international communications, and prohibiting “reverse targeting” of innocent Americans. And the bill enables better oversight of the use of National Security Letters (NSLs) after the Department of Justice Inspector General issued reports detailing the misuse and abuse of the NSLs. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 23rd, on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.

“Every single member of Congress wants to give our law enforcement and intelligence officials the tools they need to keep Americans safe,” said Feingold. “But with the PATRIOT Act up for reauthorization, we should take this opportunity to fix the flaws in our surveillance laws once and for all. The JUSTICE Act permits the government to conduct necessary surveillance, but within a framework of accountability and oversight. It ensures both that our government has the tools to keep us safe, and that the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans will be protected. When he was in the Senate, President Obama was a strong ally on these issues, and I look forward to working with his administration to find common ground on commonsense reforms.”

I am pleased that both New Mexico Senators were on board with this (Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman). Props to all the Senators involved in this.

The CBO admits it in passing

The Congressional Budget Office, that does impartial financial analysis of potential legislation, has this parenthetical remark about the idea of co-ops for health care:
(The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments.)
h/t to Politico by way of mcjoan who points out that Politico was a day behind Daily Kos.

--the BB

Friday, September 18, 2009


09/18/09 AFP:
Bomb kills US soldier in Afghanistan
A bomb attack killed a US soldier in southern Afghanistan, the NATO-led force said Friday, capping another bloody week for foreign forces battling Taliban militants.

Guerrillas attacked an Italian convoy in Kabul on Thursday, killing 6 Italian troops and 10 Afghan civilians, and wounding over 50 others.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi as a result called for foreign troops to depart Afghanistan sooner rather than later. It had already been decided that 500 of Italy's 3000-strong military mission would soon go home.

--Juan Cole

La Cena

Shabbat shalom and l'shana tova!

Tonight I headed north for dinner chez mon BFF. Because I'm a foodie, I am going to write about food.

[Mimi, read only on a full stomack, 'k?]

I took a bottle of Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2005. We enjoyed it thorooughly.

Round 1: homegrown red and green peppers (red mild, green a bit hot), roasted and peeled; homegrown garlic, roasted; goat cheese; olive oil over all; homegrown thyme leaves; chunks of good sourdough bread on which to place the above. Yummy.

Round 2: Chicken and vegies. To wit: sauteed chicken with a sauce full of homegrown tarragon, butter, and a demi-glace base. OMG it was awesome. BFF adjudged this the best sauteed chicken he'd made in years. Served with grilled homegrown eggplant slices, homegrown tomatoes, and mozzarella slices in overlapping layers, drizzled with olive oil and chiffonade of homegrown basil, all roasted a while in the oven. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The vegetables took well to the wonderful tarragon sauce. Heaven!

Round 3: Fresh ripe black figs quartered with cream poured over them.

After all this we had ginger tea.

I am spoiled. And loving it.

--the BB

Thursday, September 17, 2009


09/17/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Mills, 24, of El Paso, Texas...assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C...died Sept. 16 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle Sept. 15 with an improvised explosive device.

09/17/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Sgt. 1st Class Shawn P. McCloskey, 33, of Peachtree City, Ga...assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C...died Sept. 16 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle Sept. 15 with an improvised explosive device.

09/17/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Sgt. 1st Class Bradley S. Bohle, 29, of Glen Burnie, Md...assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C...died Sept. 16 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle Sept. 15 with an improvised explosive device.

09/17/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Robert D. Gordon II, 22, of River Falls, Ala., died Sept. 16 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, from a non-combat related illness, after becoming ill Sept. 11 in southern Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Heart thread - 09/17/2009

This morning I think of those who mourn and the souls of Aunt May, Nikolai, Mary Travers, and Patrick Swayze.

Of those losing their lives in war or civil strife across the globe.

Of Mother Sandra and her ongoing healing

Of Bishop Marc Andrus as he readies himself for surgery on Monday

Of Myron and his family (updates at Wounded Bird)

Of sundry birthdays this week: Mary Jane, Kirstin, Tom....

Of today's birthday girl, Roseann, with prayers for her health and spirits!

And gratitude for rain that waters the earth.

--the BB

Wish you knew more about Afghanistan?

Do some catching up at Juan Cole's article today found at Informed Comment.

--the BB

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


09/16/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 2)
Sgt. Andrew H. McConnell, 24, of Carlisle, Pa...assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash...died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device Sept. 14 in southern Afghanistan.

09/16/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 2)
1st Lt. David T. Wright II, 26, of Moore, Okla...assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash...died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device Sept. 14 in southern Afghanistan.

09/16/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Demetrius L. Void, 20, of Orangeburg, S.C., died Sept. 15 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when a military vehicle struck him while conducting physical training. He was assigned to the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas.

09/15/09 :
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty
Staff Sgt. Bryan D. Berky, 25, of Melrose, Fla., died Sept. 12 near Bala Baluk, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from enemy fire while supporting combat operations. He was assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

09/14/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Spc. Daniel L. Cox, 23, of Parsons, Kan...died Sept. 12 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised-explosive device and small arms fire.

09/14/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Staff Sgt. Nekl B. Allen, 29, of Rochester N.Y...died Sept. 12 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised-explosive device and small arms fire.

09/14/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Matthew M. Martinek, 20, of DeKalb, Ill., died Sept. 11 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Sept. 4 when enemy attacked his vehicle with an improvised-explosive device followed by a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire.

09/14/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Tyler A. Juden, 23, of Winfield, Kan., died Sept. 12 in Turan, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit using rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fires. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Yes, says the Spirit, they rest from their labors but their works follow after them.

Pray for the repose of May LaRose Anderson

11 May 1917 - 16 September 2009

My sister Iva just wrote:
Aunt May passed a few minutes ago. I saw her day before yesterday. Stayed about 20 minutes and held her hand and talked to her. She never blinked an eye.

May was the "happy child" of Dad's family, born when times were not as tough for the Swedish immigrant family. We used to visit Aunt May and Uncle Red's farm and May was a terrific cook! I believe I have shared a bit about her before so will not elaborate tonight.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory!

--the BB

This is for Nikolai and Mark

I can't sing tonight without choking up, so I'm not even going to pick up the phone, but one person will know and understand.

#686 Nettleton - this one's for you!

--the BB

For Nikolai

Mark (Марко) added this to his today blog:

[Here is the link.]
Nikolai was singing this (and, in typical fashion, very loud, slightly off key, and with charmingly mangled English lyrics) when he died. Thank you all for the emails, phone calls, and flowers. I won't be online for a long while. I will get back with everyone, but it may be a month or two. Oh, I will be OK. But the world is certainly going to be much more lonely and is going to be a lot less fun. I will miss his singing, his exotic and dramatic table graces, and his calm and bemused expression which made me think that he knew something the rest of us didn't know. If you can, sing something to someone you love today. That's the best tribute one can offer for this good, gentle, and kind man.

Николай, my bosom buddy, обичам те!
[Nikolai, my bosom buddy, I love you!]

Mark told me once that Nikolai sang to him every day. Let us honor Mark's request and sing something to someone we love (or even a total stranger), as our tribute to Nikolai and Mark.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Mark, their son Radi, and for the repose of the soul of Nikolai.

--the BB

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yes, you may be whomperjawed

I cannot help contrasting the protest against being labeled as misinformed (8/22/09 town hall in Albuquerque) with the reality of the crowds that show up (video below).

9/12 DC Tea Party

h/t to Maha (who labeled her post "Reverse Evolution")

--the BB

Prayers for my Bishop

From DioBytes: eNews from the Diocese of California:
Bishop Marc to undergo surgery

On September 28, Bishop Marc Andrus is scheduled to have surgery for prostate cancer. His recovery time will be approximately three weeks. We ask that you include Bishop Marc and the entire Andrus family in your prayers.
I am canonically resident in the Diocese of California, so Bishop Marc is my bishop. I ask your prayers for him and the family.

Mimi scoops them again! I learned of this at Wounded Bird before coming home to find it in my e-mail. And she evidently learned it from MadPriest. Such a roundabout grapevine. For which I give thanks.

Lord Christ, be with your servant Marc and his family and the entire healing team before, during, and after surgery. Surround him with your love and light, uphold him in body and spirit, and keep him in health and your abiding joy. Amen.

--the BB

Prayers requested - Updated (2x)

Господи, помилуй.
Господи, помилуй.
Господи, помилуй.

I am devastated to read this news from Mark (Mapko) in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Николай умира в автомобилна катастрофа неделя 13 септември. Благодаря ви за имейли и телефонни обаждания. Thank you to everyone who has emailed me and called me since Nikolai's death (in car accident late Sunday, September 13). This was a horrible shock. I am so exhausted and it may be a long while before I am able to get back in touch with everyone. I do appreciate everyone's support and kindness.
Публикувано от Марко Фризия в 13:22

Please pray for Mark, their son Radi, and for the repose of Nikolai, Mark's partner and Knight of St George.

Candles before the icons of
St George, St Nikolai (Nicholas), and St Mark

Great Martyr George
Troparion (Second Tone)
O Great among the Saints and Glorious George, since you are a deliverer of captives and a defender of the poor, a physician to the sick and a noble attendant to kings, intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion (Eighth Tone)
We the faithful who take refuge under your ready and powerful protection implore you, victorious Martyr of Christ, to deliver from all dangers and evils all those who honor you, so that we may cry out to you: "Joy to you, Great-martyr George!"
Our Father among the Saints, Nicholas the Wonderworker
Troparion (Fourth Tone)
O Father and Pontiff Nicholas, the holiness of your life was set before your flock as a rule of faith, an example of meekness and a teaching of temperance; wherefore you acquired greatness through humility and spiritual wealth through poverty. Pray to Christ God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion (Third Tone)
In Myra, you proved yourself to be a priest, a servant of divine things, O Saint, for you fulfilled the gospel of Christ, O Holy One; you gave up your life for your people and saved the innocent from death. You have been sanctified, for you were a great guide towards the things of God.

Holy Apostle Mark the Evangelist
Troparion (Third Tone)
O Holy Apostle Mark the Evangelist, intercede with God all-merciful that He may grant us remission of our sins.

Kontakion (Second Tone)
You were granted from on high the grace to solve the philosophers' problems, to triumph by preaching the divine Gospel to the Gentiles, and to lead them to your Master, O Apostle Mark worthy of all praise!

Here is a recent post on Amictus Sindone, Mark's blog:
19 Август 2009

Nikolai's prayer

Nikolai, who continues on the path of improving his English language skills, offered a verse from a poem by W.H. Auden as our table grace earlier tonight. We had dinner guests (here for movie night cum living room drag show starring Евге́ний Evgeny, the amazing Sarah Palin lookalike from Russia). And they were hanging on his every, heavily-accented word:

Global Mother, keep our
bowels of compassion
Open through our lifetime,
Purge our minds as well;
Grant us a kind ending,
Not a second childhood,
Petulant, weak sphinctered,
In a cheap hotel.

Амин, така да бъде!
Amen, so be it!

I wanted to offer some tribute to Nikolai, soldier, lover, human being. That he should offer such a beautiful prayer to remain ever compassionate speaks volumes to me. His compassion is now opened into the infinite compassion of Most Holy Trinity.

My thanks to Mimi who kindly shared this sad news so more might offer prayers.

Tonight I am re-reading Mark's e-mails and the poems he wrote to Nikolai (they are on his blog but I will not link tonight). So much love and joy.

And now the aching loss.

With the just who have reposed in your peace, grant rest, o Savior, to the soul of your servant and bestow upon it the blessed life which is from You, O Lover of Mankind!

Grant rest within your peace, O Lord, to the soul of your servant.

Within your peace where all your saints repose, grant rest, O Lord, to the soul of your servant for You alone are the Lover of Mankind.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

O Savior, You are our God! You descended into Hades to deliver those who were bound there in suffering; grant rest also to the soul of this your departed servant.

Now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.

O Mother of God, the only Virgin immaculate and pure, in virginity you have given birth to Christ our God; intercede with Him for the salvation of the soul of this your departed servant.

May the memory of Nikolai who is worthy of praise, remain with us forever.

Memory eternal!

Mark, when you finally see this, I want you to know how helpless I feel and how much I want to do something for you. Accept this tribute to Nikolai and to the love between the two of you and to your home and family. My heart and prayers are very much with you.

Update #2:
I want to conclude with what Mimi posted today:
May Nikolai rest in peace and rise in glory.

May God give comfort, consolation, and the peace that passes understanding to Mark, especially, and to all who loved Nikolai. May the all-embracing love of God heal those who grieve for Nikolai.

--the BB

Monday, September 14, 2009


09/14/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. 1st Class Duane A. Thornsbury, 30, of Bridgeport, W. Va., died Sept.12 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colo.

The Health Insurance Racket

From bravenewfilms

If the embed won't play, go here. Everyone should think about this.

--the BB

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday dinner

On the way home this afternoon I stopped at Costco. Beaucoup dollars later I emerged. Among my purchases: a flat of tree-ripened nectarines and a bunch of stew meat.

The latter went into the slow cooker on a bed of sliced onions. I poured three small tins of medium Hatch chiles on top along with a handful of sun-dried tomatoes. Freshly ground black pepper, freshly ground sea salt, some thyme, and I turned that puppy on. Much later I thickened it with arrowroot.

Later I put brown rice in the rice cooker. You see, this is cooking for lazybones.

Then I sliced up most of the nectarines and made a nectarine crsip.

And finally I sauteed the zucchini from my yard (picked last weekend and still with firm texture) in lots of butter with salt, pepper, a splash of white balsamic, and a splash of brandy.

En voici le résultat.

Beef and green chile stew with brown rice and sautéed zucchini

Nectarine crisp warm from the oven with a scoop of mango ice cream

Life is good.

--the BB

'Murkins brag about the strangest things

And just because YouTube and Blogger seem fubar these days, here's the link.

Linked by many friends on Facebook.

--the BB

I have two new military heroes today

Their names are CHARLES C. KRULAK AND JOSEPH P. HOAR. "Charles C. Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Joseph P. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994."

Their op-ed piece was published Friday in the Miami Herald. Snippets:
But we never imagined that we would feel duty-bound to publicly denounce a vice president of the United States, a man who has served our country for many years. In light of the irresponsible statements recently made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, we feel we must repudiate his dangerous ideas -- and his scare tactics.


Repeating these assertions doesn't make them true. We now see that the best intelligence, which led to the capture of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was produced by professional interrogations using non-coercive techniques. When the abuse began, prisoners told interrogators whatever they thought would make it stop.


The Bush administration had already degraded the rules of war by authorizing techniques that violated the Geneva Conventions and shocked the conscience of the world. Now Cheney has publicly condoned the abuse that went beyond even those weakened standards, leading us down a slippery slope of lawlessness. Rules about the humane treatment of prisoners exist precisely to deter those in the field from taking matters into their own hands. They protect our nation's honor.

I want to thank these men for standing up and speaking out on behalf of the honor of the United States of America AND for the protection of our troops in the field.

Gentlemen, thank you.

h/t to Digby and Scott Horton for pointing me to this. I recommend the entire article.

--the BB

Heart thread - 09/13/2009

Today after church I visited Mother Sandra in the ICU. She was not very peppy so it was a brief visit with prayer and laying on of hands. She and I traded humor, as we always do when we talk. She remarked, "See, this is what happens when you retire!." I told her I would light a candle (which I have done) and she said I would request blog prayers. I told her she was already on the prayer list here (and shared David's heartfelt response when heard she was ill).

Please keep Mother Sandra Bess in prayer as she battles nasty infections. I've had my own struggles with infections in the past. May all the healer's skill and the Healer's grace be with her.

On a happier note, Grandpère gave these flowers to Grandmère Mimi as they celebrate 48 years of marriage.

A very Blessed Anniversary to both of you and may the years ahead shower you with grace and love! Mwah! (The kiss was for Mimi, not GP.)

--the BB

¡Sí! ¡Sí! ¡Sí! ¡Sí! ¡Sí!

¿Han entendido Uds. que España piensa en perseguir los crimenes de la administración de Bush? ¡Qué buenas noticias!

Have y'all heard that Spain plans to prosecute the Bushies for their war crimes? What good news!

MinistryOfTruth shared this segment from Raw Story at Daily Kos:
A Spanish judge has decided to go ahead with the prosecution of six Bush administration lawyers - including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - who were the architects of the legal framework for President George W. Bush "enhanced interrogation" program, according to a report in the Spanish newspaper Publico. (Original article here; Google translation here.)

The six Bush administration alumni targeted in the prosecution are former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, author of the "torture memos"; Douglas Feith, then a deputy defense secretary; Pentagon lawyer William Haynes II; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; and David Addington, a former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney.


. . . Holder’s investigation will be limited to instances where interrogators overstepped the boundaries set out by Bush lawyers for "enhanced interrogation." By contrast, the Spanish case challenges the legality of the entire program.
This is the beginning of the article at Pú
La Fiscalía tildó la querella de "fraudulenta", al Gobierno le incomoda y la Administración Obama no la quiere. Pero el juez de la Audiencia Nacional Baltasar Garzón parece dispuesto a abrir una causa explosiva, dirigida contra el equipo legal de George W. Bush, que redefinió el concepto de tortura para emplearla en la "guerra contra el terrorismo", y que afectaría también a su secretario de Defensa, Donald Rumsfeld.

En una providencia fechada el 11 de agosto y entregada a la vuelta de vacaciones, Garzón no sólo mantiene vivo el caso, sino que deja entrever sus intenciones de abrirlo formalmente: acepta tres nuevas acusaciones particulares y desoye a la Fiscalía, que sostiene que antes de abordarse el asunto en Madrid debería acudirse a los tribunales enWashington.

De la providencia se desprende también que Garzón apremia a EEUU para que conteste la comisión rogatoria planteada y aporte información sobre las eventuales acciones emprendidas allí. No se conforma con el silencio: según subraya en el escrito, solicitó por vez primera dicha información a las autoridades estadounidenses el 15 de junio y, al no obtener respuesta, envió un segundo escrito el 11 de agosto.
Nail 'em. Jail 'em. Show the world that the law applies to everyone!

--the BB