Monday, July 31, 2006

An Evening Prayer.

With all the bad news in the world and my last three snarky posts, I thought maybe I should post something inspiriational. I found this photo from Rev. Sam at Elizaphanian and am posting it along with the prayer he has written and says each day at Evening Prayer.
Holy Father,
As we come to the closing of this day
And we reflect on the hours that have passed
We ask for your healing and forgiveness for those things which were not good
And we give you thanks and praise for those things which were good;
Go before us now with your grace
Through these hours of evening and night,
That when morning comes
We might greet you with joy in our hearts and your praise on our lips;
This we ask in the name of Christ our Lord

Separated At Birth.

Mel Gibson Ave.

And, they've named a street after him in Beirut.
A spokesman told us:

"The comments were very encouraging and the least we can do is to name a street after him."

Signs for Mel Gibson Avenue were quickly erected under cover of dark last night.

Israeli secret service quickly rushed out new aerial maps of Beirut which included the position of Mel Gibson Avenue.

Mel Gibson Avenue was promptly flattened to the ground at 0400 this morning.

An Equal Opportuntity Bigot.

He's not just an anti-Semite, he's a homophobe too:
Heartthrob actor Mel Gibson, asked by one of Spain's leading magazines what he thinks of homosexuals, launched into a tirade against gay men.

"They take it up the ass," Gibson told El Pais as he got out of his chair, bent over and pointed to his butt. "This is only for taking a shit," he said.

Reminded by the interviewer, Koro Castellano, that he worked with gays while studying at the School of Dramatic Arts, Gibson added: "They were good people, kind, I like them. But their thing is not my thing."

Castellano said, "But you were obsessed with the thought that if you were an actor, people would confuse you with one of them."

"Yes," Gibson admitted, "but I did it. I became an actor despite that. But with this look, who's going to think I'm gay? It would be hard to take me for someone like that.

"Do I sound like a homosexual?" he asked. "Do I talk like them? Do I move like them?

Winning Sunshine.

Now for something a bit lighter than the news. Went to see "Little Miss Sunshine" on Saturday. It's a fun diversion with terrific performances from Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin. The dysfunctional family happenings are a little bit contrived but it all makes for a very funny movie. I laughed so hard at the final scene that I had to wipe the tears from my eyes.

I think it is currently only playing in NY and LA but, go see it when it comes to your town. It will be a better time at the movies than some of the summer crap that Hollywood is giving us.

Women Catholic Priests.

Twelve women will be ordained today is a secret ceremony in Pittsburgh.
On Monday, 12 women in bright white robes will board the Majestic, the flagship of the Gateway Clipper fleet, at the Station Square dock in Pittsburgh. The ship will become a floating church -- and the stage for what might be the most central controversy in Catholicism today. The robed women are in the vanguard of the growing womenpriests movement, the most flamboyant and incendiary challenge to the Roman Catholic Church's unrelenting discrimination against women. Declaring herself "present" (in Latin, ad sum), each of the 12 will be ordained priests or deacons by women bishops -- themselves secretly ordained to the episcopacy by active Roman Catholic male bishops whose names will remain locked in a vault until they die. This ceremony is totally verboten: Women's ordination or even advocating for it is forbidden by the Catholic Church, under pain of excommunication, which means no sacraments, ever, not even a Catholic burial.

Qana, No Words Needed.

Is Might Right?

Read Max Hastings' take on current US and Israeli policy and its impact on the fight against terrorism.

MORALITY in foreign policy is often subjective. The United States Administration is confident that it represents the forces of democracy and freedom, and feels free to do whatever it judges best to promote these fine things. Israel perceives Palestinians and Arabs committed to its destruction, justifying any action against them. Some in the Muslim world see no prospect of frustrating Western cultural, economic and military dominance on Western terms of engagement, and so choose other methods — such as suicide bombing — that better suit their weakness.

Many Americans and Israelis believe that virtue is anyway unimportant, that the Arab world chiefly respects the successful use of power. Yet the weakness of this argument is laid bare in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere. The US, Israel and their backers are perceived both as behaving immorally and using force ineffectually.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saving Heterosexual Marriage.

This should save marriage as we know it.
Bill Clinton Answers Ann Coulter's Gay Charges.

Bush & Religious Fundamentalists.

Karen Armstrong, in Monday's Guardian, has an opinion piece about the impact of Bush's fondness for fundamentalism both in the US and abroad. All of the talk about the end times by religious fundamentalists seems to have lead us to ignore the suffering of innocent people and prolong the battle. But, I guess that is what they want.
Bush and his administration espouse many of the ideals of the Christian right and rely on its support. American fundamentalists are convinced that the second coming of Christ is at hand; they have developed an end-time scenario of genocidal battles based on a literal reading of Revelation that is absolutely central to their theology. Christ cannot return, however, unless, in fulfilment of biblical prophecy, the Jews are in possession of the Holy Land. Before the End, the faithful will be "raptured" or snatched up into the air in order to avoid the Tribulation. Antichrist will massacre Jews who are not baptised; but Christ will defeat the mysterious "enemy from the north", and establish a millennium of peace.
Near the end of the piece is this paragraph which counters the religious Armageddon-seekers interpretation of Revelation.
This nihilistic religiosity is based on a perversion of the texts. The first chapter of Genesis was never intended as a literal account of the origins of life; it is a myth, a timeless story about the sanctity of the world and everything in it. Revelation was not a detailed programme for the End time; it is written in an apocalyptic genre that has quite a different dynamic. When they described the Jews' return to their homeland, the Hebrew prophets were predicting the end of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC - not the second coming of Christ. The prophets did preach a stern message of social justice, however, and like all the major world faiths, Christianity sees charity and loving-kindness as the cardinal virtues. Fundamentalism nearly always distorts the tradition it is trying to defend.

Sunday Visual Treat.

Here's a new painting by my friend Jason McKechnie which, if you are in Toronto, you can see as part of a Summer Group Show from July 27 - August 19.

The Myth Of The Conservative Bible.

Steve Kangas, on the blog Liberalism Resurgent, takes the position that the Old Testament is conservative and the New Testament liberal. I love his New Testament summary of the politics of Jesus and thought they would be great to ponder this Sunday morning.
On defense: Jesus said "Love your enemies" and "Blessed are the peacemakers." "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:44; 5:9; 5:39.)

On social programs: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." (Matthew 19:21.)

On rugged individualism and the pursuit of self-interest: "Love your neighbor as yourself." "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you." (Matthew 22:39; 7:12.)

On financial success: "Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." "You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 19:23; 6:24.)

On the philosophy that "greed is good": "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15.)

On paying taxes: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:22.)

On crime and punishment: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (John 8:7; Matthew 7:1,2.)

On climbing the social ladder: "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" (Matthew 11:19.)

On money-hungry televangelists: "In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and other sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables." (John 2:14,15.)

On the free lunch: "Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves… The number of those who ate was about five thousand men…" (Matthew 14:19,21.)

On the perks and privileges of power: "After that, [Jesus] poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." (John 13:5.)

On moral absolutes: "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?" "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:11; Mark 2:27.)

On family: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple." Also: "'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers.'" (Luke 14:26; Matthew 12:48,49.)

On race relations: In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus praised the morality of a hated foreigner over his own countrymen. (Luke 10:30-37.)

On the superiority of one's native country: "These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: 'Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.'" (Matthew 10:5,6.)

On letting others pull themselves up by their own bootstraps: "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:13,14.)
So was Jesus liberal? NO, HE WAS A RADICAL. Read all of Steve's response to the myth that the Bible is conservative.

The Impact Of Our Newest Supreme Court Justices.

Sen. Ted Kennedy has an opinion piece in The Washington Post about the deception of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito when they came before the Senate Judiciary Committee for approval of their nominations.
Now that the votes are in from their first term, we can see plainly the agenda that Roberts and Alito sought to conceal from the committee. Our new justices consistently voted to erode civil liberties, decrease the rights of minorities and limit environmental protections. At the same time, they voted to expand the power of the president, reduce restrictions on abusive police tactics and approve federal intrusion into issues traditionally governed by state law.
Read it, it makes me angry.

Overflowing Iraqi Morgues.

Sad. Results from our efforts in Iraq and sectarian violence.

Christians And The Culture War.

Sunday's NY Times has a story about an evangelical pastor who has disowned the politics of the right and how that action impacted his congregation.
“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I abhor,
And yet how sweet
The sound along the marching street
Of drum and fife; and I forget
Wet eyes of widows, and forget
Broken old mothers, and the whole
Dark butchery without a soul.

Without a soul—save this bright drink
Of heady music, sweet as hell;
And even my peace-abiding feet
Go marching with the marching street
For yonder goes the fife,
And what care I for human life!

The tears fill my astonished eyes
And my full heart is like to break,
And yet ‘tis all embannered lies,
A dream those little drummers make.

Oh, it is wickedness to clothe
Yon hideous, grinning thing that stalks
Hidden in music, like a queen
That in a garden of glory walks,
Till good men love the thing they loathe.

Art, thou hast many infamies,
But not an infamy like this—
Oh, snap the fife and still the drum,
And show the monster as she is.

-- Richard Lee Gallienne (1866-1947)

Anne Lamott On Prayer & Faith.

Beliefnet has a great two part interview with "bad girl" Anne Lamott. Part 1 and Part 2. I can sure related to her answer to the question, do you pray about politics? (Well, at least most of it. Not sure if I will ever "soften" toward Bush.)

I pray to endure this administration. I pray not to contribute to the damage that we are living with and that we must start recovering from.

My heart has softened towards Bush, although not towards the administration. I pray for my heart to be softer. I have very, very passionate political beliefs that are all obvious; if you read a paragraph, you know where I stand--the old, hardcore, aging, hippie, left-wing activist and Democratic preaching leader. It's who I’ve always wanted to be, who my parents were.

I pray not to do more damage; I pray to bring hope, I try to help people get through this.

Do It For The Children.

Damn, this pisses me off. Our Republican congress can't just vote on an increase in the minimum wage to help the poor. It has to be tied to tax breaks for the rich.
Congress would pass an increase in the minimum wage before leaving Washington for vacation, but only as part of a package rolling back taxes on the heirs of multimillionaires, a Senate leadership aide said Friday.
Increasing the minimum wage is the only moral thing to do. The impact of poverty on children alone screams out for its implementation without some false need to decrease taxes on others who don't need relief.
...minimum-wage workers today are worse off now than they have been in decades? At its peak in 1968, the minimum wage was worth the equivalent of almost $7 an hour today. That was also the last year that the minimum wage was above the nation's poverty line. The effect of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, to $5.15 in 1997, has been completely eroded by inflation. That figure (which equals $10,700 a year) is now less than one-third of the average hourly wage of American workers, the lowest level since 1949. If the federal minimum wage were increased to just $7 an hour, at least 7.4 million workers would receive a wage boost. If the minimum wage were pegged at $9.50, millions more would be lifted out of poverty. The largest group of beneficiaries would be children, whose parents would have more money for rent, food, clothing and other basic necessities.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Better Solution.

Restorative Justice, as opposed to our current punitive justice system, emphasizes healing and repairing the damage done by crime, This involves all people impacted by crime--the victim, the offender and the community. The first principle of Restorative Justice is:
Justice requires that we work to restore those who have been injured.
Here is a story of one woman's life a year after the murder of her son. Read it and you will see that no matter what the punishment, there is no healing involved in how we currently deal with crime. It is imperative that we (as loving, caring Christians) work to heal the damage done by crime.

A year on from that night in Walton Hospital, where she willed her son to survive but had to watch him slip away, she is still in shock. Gee cannot bring herself to go to McGoldrick Park and will do anything to avoid it.

She talks in half sentences and whispers, her eyes searching the room. They settle on the same spot - a photograph of her beaming son, the one reprinted countless times in newspapers and magazines - and she finds some kind of peace.

The article goes on to say:
She draws no consolation from the killers' convictions. Barton will serve at least 17 years and eight months for the murder of the promising A-level student while Taylor, who delivered the fatal blow, will serve at least 23 years and eight months.

"What is prison? They're not free to roam and repeat what they did. I don't know what life is like inside. But we're still living with our pain. What is justice? People say justice has been served. Your loved one is still gone and justice won't bring them back."

Where is the justice when victims are so torn apart by crime? Where is the justice when offenders are housed without serious attempts to rehabilitate? Where is the justice when our society just ignores all parties impacted by crime and goes on it's merry way?

Into Community Theater? Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The Army discharges a Sgt. because he is into community theater. But, at least he got the lead in "Bye Bye Birdie."

Live Webcast Tonight

You can go here from 8PM - 10PM tonight for a live streaming webcast of my friend, Kate Higgin's performance (with two other singers). It should be fun and she's great!

PLUS, you can play spot the old fart.

Billboard Of The Day.

Want To Be Happy?

Move to Denmark. But stay away from Burundi.

Jon Stewart On The Job Condi Is Doing. Maybe She Should Stick To Playing The Piano.

Jon Stewart: But as some see mayhem and chaos in the violence, [Condoleezza] Rice sees chaos and makes mayhem-ade...
Rice "What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing birth pangs of a new Middle East"
Stewart: Birth pangs? Yes, I believe today's contraction took out a city block.
---Jon Stewart

Jesus Loves Porn Stars.

Brian Orme interviews Craig Gross of, #1 Christian porn site.
XXXchurch exists to bring awareness, openness, accountability and recovery to the church, society and individuals in the issues of pornography and to begin to provide solutions through non-judgmental and creative means. XXXchurch is here to make you think, react and to decide where you stand on the issues of porn. We're not here to sling mud, but to shove the envelope and try and do some good.

Execution Ban In Missouri.

I'm always pleased when I see these kinds of actions by judges having the impact of stopping executions. Now if we could ban the death penalty completely ...
However, the state said it could not comply with a key part of Gaitan's order: Officials said they had contacted 298 anesthesiologists in Missouri and southern Illinois, and none was willing to participate in executions. The state also asserted that the judge had overstepped his bounds in requiring a board-certified anesthesiologist.

Attorneys for Michael Taylor, the death row inmate who filed suit earlier this year, said in court papers Monday that Missouri's new procedures fell short of what was required under the 8th Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.

"The state's proposed protocol … utterly fails to protect inmates from the errors, ad hoc improvisations, and poor judgment of inadequately trained personnel forced to carry out executions without adequate guidance," the brief said.

A Hanging In Iran.

I read this yesterday but didn't have time to post it. Another outrageous execution in Iran, this time a 16 year old girl. This is Iranian justice.

When Atefah realised her case was hopeless, she shouted back at the judge and threw off her veil in protest.

It was a fatal outburst.

She was sentenced to execution by hanging, while Darabi got just 95 lashes.

Shortly before the execution, but unbeknown to her family, documents that went to the Supreme Court of Appeal described Atefah as 22.

"Neither the judge nor even Atefah's court appointed lawyer did anything to find out her true age," says her father.

And a witness claims: "The judge just looked at her body, because of the developed physique... and declared her as 22."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tune In For God, Get Porn.

Maybe it's just because it has been a long day and I'm tired but, I think this is funny in a perverse way. If you've ever been to Fresno, this is about as exciting as it gets. (Not that I would probably tune it to either format.)

KFYE-FM hasn't budged from the Fresno-area dial, but it's about as far as you can get from the Christian music, sermons and Bible stories it was broadcasting until about a week ago.

Now it calls itself "Porn Radio" — "all sex radio, all the time," with a suggestion that people under 21 not listen.

Songs with little in common except suggestive titles and lyrics fill the playlist, including "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" by The Beatles, "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye and "Nasty" by Janet Jackson. Tamer songs are heated up by adding recorded moans and groans.

The change, made after the station was sold this month, was met with several non-sexual groans from some residents.

"It would appear this is another of those promotions that are simply designed to create controversy," longtime Fresno radio personality Ed Beckman told The Fresno Bee. "This format belongs on Sirius or XM, not on over-the-air."

The station tries not to cross the line, said owner Jerry Clifton.

KFYE has been playing songs in a continuous one-hour loop without commercials. Clifton wouldn't tell the Bee whether he plans to eventually switch to a more traditional format.

This Is Christian?

Christian Zionism is highlighted in this Wall Street Journal article. Read it. This kind of attempt to bring about Armageddon scares the hell out of me. God will do what God will do, in God's time.

Someone Needs To Evaluate Her Priorities.

Solitary Confinement. Part 2.

Another meeting away from the office all day and another ride home during NPR's "All Things Considered" allowed me to hear the second part in their series on solitary confinement.

It's worth listening to if you are interested in the issue. And again I think the part we need to focus on is the fact the most of these men get released without any preparation to survive and our entire society needs to wake to this. If we don't, it will continue to be a problem.
Almost every inmate in isolation will be released back into the public one day. But there are a few prison officials who are rethinking the idea of isolation -- and wondering if there might be a better way.

World War III.

Paul Harris in The Guardian takes on Republicans and conservative media types who are anxious to dub the wars in the Middle East and Iraq as WWIII. I've been bothered by the hyperbole and I think he sums it up well.
Certainly there is a great deal of trouble in the world. These are dangerous times. But a third world war? Let's be brutal and forget the morality of any conflict. Let's just stick to the numbers. So far in Iraq, US soldiers are dying at the rate of two a day. There has been a total loss of 2,567 (each one a tragedy, just like every Iraqi civilian killed) over three years. Here is the figure for British dead on the first day of the Somme in the First World War. It was 19,240. That was just one day's losses in one battle for just one nation in that conflict.

Let's move to the Second World War. So far in Lebanon (which has prompted most of the now frenzied 'World War Three' references) there have been 413 Lebanese civilian deaths. Here is the figure for Russian civilians killed in Leningrad during the Nazi siege. It is about one million. That was one city's losses in one country.

So, quite frankly, talk of a third world war is not only ignorant. It is offensive to victims of previous wars and those dying now. That is particularly true as those people most desperate to create talk of a third world war are often those least willing to accept the policies needed to fight any new world war. Firstly, that would be a massive rise in taxes to fund a national effort to defeat a global enemy. Secondly, would be a universal draft to provide the manpower (and womenpower too, these days).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Out And Proud.

On the lighter side, The Guardian has a story on the state of men's feet and the need to wear sandals in the summer. When it's 100 degrees for weeks, here in LA, wearing shoes and socks are crazy, what else are we to do with our ugly feet in the heat?

One anti-sandal blogger (and there are many) sums up the issue as "the shoe God never finished and the men who don't care". There appear to be two main branches of objection. The first is that men look stupid in sandals, and that men's sandals are themselves stupid-looking. The second is that men have ugly feet. Men's feet are shaped like spades. They smell. The toes are hairy, the toenails are often cracked and yellow. I would call this an idiotic generalisation, were it not an exact description of my feet.

1200 Solitary Lives.

While driving home from my meeting today, I was able to listen to a two part story on NPR's "All Things Considered" about the SHU--Security Housing Unit--at Pelican Bay. You can listen here. It's about 30 minutes long and provides detailed information about what it is like to spend 23 hours a day in an 8' x 8' cell.

Interesting to me is that no one is there for the crime they committed to get into prison but for their behavior, mostly gang related, on the inside. BUT, the most interesting thing to me is that over 90% of these men will be release with very little effort to prepare them to re-enter society. Imagine spending six years with no human contact and then, within weeks of leaving solitary, being back in the real world. What do you think happens to these men?
Almost 95 percent of the inmates in Pelican Bay's SHU are scheduled to be released back into the public at some point. They'll spend a few weeks in a local prison before rejoining society, with little, if any, preparation for how to live around people on the outside. And for every inmate that leaves, there is another one waiting to take his place.

The 23rd Qualm.

OK, I was wrong, just one post before I go to my meeting. From Child of Illusion via Mad Priest:


Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.

He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.

He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.

Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.

Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

- Annette P. Bingham

Another Day, Another All Day Meeting.

Everything I am reading is all Israel and Lebanon all the time and I have to get ready for an all morning and afternoon meeting away from the office. No blogging until late afternoon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

'Strine' (Aussie) Bible.

I've gotta read this version of the Bible. From the creation story:
Out of the blue God knocked up the whole bang lot.... God said 'let's have some light' and bingo - light appeared."
or this version of the temptation in the Garden of Eden:
"There was this sheila who came across a snake-in-the-grass with all the cunning of a con man. The snake asked her why she didn't just grab lunch off the tree in her garden.

"God, she said, had told her she'd be dead meat if her fruit salad came from that tree, but the snake told her she wouldn't die. So she took a good squiz [look] and then a bite and passed the fruit on to her bloke.

"Right then and there, they'd realized what they'd done and felt starkers [naked]"

Meanwhile In Somalia.

Somalia is about to erupt into full scale war. But, who cares it's only Africa?
John Prendergast, a senior adviser with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, says the flurry of moves leaves the country on a "precipice."

"I think both sides - particularly the Islamists - are throwing a few jabs, to use a boxing analogy, testing each other to see how far the other will go in advance of any talks, if they should happen," he says.

A complete breakdown in negotiations could spark a major regional conflict.

The Anxiety Starts The Moment You Wake.

The Times of London has an interesting first hand account of life in Baghdad from the perspective of a half Shia, half Sunni employee of the paper.
Like most Baghdadis, I've lost count of the people I know who have been killed or wounded. My local grocer vanished two weeks ago when a suicide bomber walked into the cafe where he was eating. They found only his shoes and phone. I now have to venture further afield to shop for my mother and sisters, a dangerous chore in a city where death squads drive past shops and gun down storekeepers and customers alike.
Read it.

Oh, The Company We Keep.

It's hard for me to focus on much else besides the Middle East (and work of course) what with wall-to-wall coverage on CNN of the crisis in Israel and Lebanon (not to mention the deterioration in Iraq).

But, early this morning I came across this quote in the June 26th issue of Newsweek:
"Last year four countries accounted for nearly all the executions worldwide: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. As my Irish grandmother used to say, you're known by the company you keep."
Columnist, Anna Quindlen on capital punishment
Why do we continue to think that killing anyone is the solution to anything?


Wikipedia says a fiasco means "a complete or humiliating failure, especially of a pretentious undertaking." What an appropriate title for a book. I suspect this is a book we all need to read, although for some of us it just reinforces what we've known for some time.
"President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 ultimately may come to be seen as one of the most profligate actions in the history of American foreign policy,"Mr. Ricks writes. "The consequences of his choice won't be clear for decades, but it already is abundantly apparent in mid-2006 that the U.S. government went to war in Iraq with scant solid international support and on the basis of incorrect information -- about weapons of mass destruction and a supposed nexus between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda's terrorism -- and then occupied the country negligently. Thousands of U.S. troops and an untold number of Iraqis have died. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, many of them squandered. Democracy may yet come to Iraq and the region, but so too may civil war or a regional conflagration, which in turn could lead to spiraling oil prices and a global economic shock."
And, now that we seem to have lost the war we initiated in Iraq, it's time for a new war in Lebanon/Israel. Screw up one thing and it's time to move on to screw up somewhere else. Worst thing is that they all impact each other.

Family Values.

From FUBAR: Family values --- As in, "I believe in family values." This can mean a variety of things. For example:

"I don't like to pay taxes for government services."
"I'm afraid of homosexuals."
"I'm afraid of black people."
"I'm afraid of foreigners."
"I believe Rush just had a bad-back problem."
"I think the fifties was the best time in U.S. history."
"I'm white."

Today's Cartoon.


Did We Make A Bargin With The Devil?

Those of us in the baby boomer generation that is.

Monday, July 24, 2006

100 Degree Idiot.

It's hotter than hell all across the country and a GOP senator (Sen. Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma) compares global warming to Hitler.
"It kind of reminds . . . I could use the Third Reich, the big lie," Inhofe said.

A Plug For A Friend.

For those of you in LA, here's a plug for my friend Kate Higgins' Friday night performance at:

FRIDAY JULY 28th 8-10 pm

You can listen to her here.

Teaching Tolerance In Nursery School.

This makes sense, changing perceptions should begin at an early age.

Condi's New Job.

Mad Priest has a suggestion that might be a good idea. It would certainly get her away from screwing up the Middle East as it seems no political leaders listen to religious leaders anyway.

I'm preparing to send money to help start the fund.

Why Meditate?

I wish I were better at this practice. I keep trying Centering Prayer without a lot of success. I guess that's worth something.

Abolish The Death Penalty.

Even Ken Starr says the dealth penalty needs fixing. I say get rid of it completely. We need to wake up to the unfair way death penalty statutes are implemented.
"It corrupts all of us. It is corrupting our courts, it's corrupting prosecutors, it's corrupting defense attorneys, it's corrupting juries, it's corrupting our society," said Bryan Stevenson, a defense attorney and professor of clinical law at New York University's School of Law. He was among those participating in a National Press Club discussion on the future of the death penalty.
Stevenson said the system is so corrupt in Alabama that 80 percent of death row inmates face execution for committing crimes against white people, while 65 percent of all murder victims are black.

Mine Is Bigger Than Yours.

Just what the world needs, a 103" big screen TV. Pricetag? $70,000.

Surprise, Here Comes Condi.

Our dear leaders have made surprise visit after surprise visit (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld) to Iraq and now Sec. Rice is surprising Beirut. We did such a great job with Iraq I can't imagine the impact our efforts will have in the Middle East. Actually I can and that's what makes me cringe.
"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said.

In the past two weeks, at a time when Lebanon has dominated the international news, the sectarian civil war in central Iraq has taken a decisive turn for the worse. There have been regular tit-for-tat massacres and the death toll for July is likely to far exceed the 3,149 civilians killed in June.


I'm sure I'm being too critical but do you think she could take the sun glasses off the top of her head before meeting with the Lebanese leaders. Is she serious or what?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What If...

I have read tons over the past few weeks dealing with all the back and forth in The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Communion. I haven't had a lot to say mainly because, I don't have anything that I think I can add to the debate and, secondarily, I am fed up with the whole thing and think the church needs to move on to implementing it's true mission.

Today Fr. Tobias Haller has a great post titled "What If" on his blog "In a Godward Direction," that I am going to post in its entirety. I think it sums up my thoughts and, I plan to not wade into all this church politics and move forward as God intends.

For Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
Ephesians 2:14-16
What if we were to practice what we proclaim: that we are one in Christ by virtue of our baptism?

What if we realized that what divides us are the rules we set in place to define us?

What if we set aside the commandments that divided us, the ordinances that determine who is in and who is out, the law that makes outlaws of us all?

What if we accepted Christ as our peace, as he accepted us, and went without covenants and treaties to bind us together, but trusted only in the Cross?

What if we truly practiced what we proclaimed?

CA Prison Reform.

The SF Chronicle has an editorial today endorsing sentencing reform as a means to help solve the CA prison overcrowding situation. Unless the CA legislature takes some action along these lines it will be clear that, as usual, our state politicians are just posturing for election purposes.

The editorial endorses the two proposals (which I've talked about before) of the American Bar Association commission, set up to study prison reform:
-- Lengthy periods of incarceration should be reserved for the most serious offenders, who present the greatest danger to the community;

-- Alternatives to incarceration should be provided to offenders who pose minimal risk to the community and appear likely to benefit from rehabilitation programs.
If we don't take this issue serious soon we will just continue to house people and increase prison population.
Just as expanding freeways will only relieve traffic congestion in the short term, building more prisons won't offer a permanent solution to the prison crisis.

Think This Will Have Any Impact? I Doubt It.

Church leaders urge Bush to call for cease fire in Middle East conflict.
Dear President Bush:

We urge you to work with other world leaders to secure an immediate cease-fire in the violent conflict raging now between Hezbollah and Israel.

We are deeply concerned for the innocent victims of the attacks and reprisals between non-state parties in Lebanon and the government of Israel. This violent conflict has created a grave humanitarian crisis, and no hoped-for benefit should outweigh the cause of saving innocent lives.

If this conflict continues, the current humanitarian crisis could escalate toward a catastrophe. Already in the first days of attacks and reprisals, reports say that 34 Israelis have been killed, including 15 civilians, others injured, and thousands have been made to leave their homes, and, in Lebanon, at least 335 people, most of them civilians, are reported killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced or sought refuge in other countries.

In the face of such a humanitarian crisis, calls for the fighting parties to be restrained in their actions fall short of what is needed. Your presidential leadership and the full weight of the United States, acting in concert with the international community, must be applied now to achieve an immediate cease-fire and to launch an intensive diplomatic initiative for the cessation of hostilities. This is a necessary first step toward the diplomatic resolution of this crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the way toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.


Leaders of churches and church-related organizations of Churches for Middle East Peace

It's Too Damn Hot..

...too think, so blogging will probably continue at a slow pace. But, here's a cartoon that ties together this summer's heat with the actions of our dreadfully inadequate American president.

Buckley On Bush.


"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign."
William F. Buckley
My recollection of my first interest in politics was as an early teenager around 1963 and then the 1964 Goldwater campaign. Probably as a result of trying to be argumentative, another classmate and I took to the Goldwater campaign, most other kids were for Johnson.

I remember reading William S. Buckley as a kid and then over the course of years (as I came to my senses saw the error of my ways) would watch his TV show on PBS. While I rarely agree with him on important things, it is amazing how he has taken on the Bush administration and today's conservatives.
"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology -- with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress, and in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge," Buckley says.

Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. ... So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable"

Here Is The Church, Here Is The Steeple.

It's Sunday and here's an interesting solution to church budget shortfalls.'s a way for churches to turn water into wine.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Am Abe Lincoln.

Another Wrongful Conviction. Texas, once a defendant is found guilty by a jury, innocence really doesn't matter. Only the conviction counts.
So says Bob Ray Sanders in the Dallas Star-Telegram. Another example of the unfairness of our legal system (who can call it justice system?) is the case of Gregory Bruce Dunagan who seems to have proved his innocence but remains in prison.

Having Truth vs. Searching For Truth.

Looks like the Baptists are struggling with issues involved in the compatibility of intellectual exploration versus the conservative views of their theology. Baptist colleges are giving up financial support from their denomination in favor of academic freedom. Good for them!

But efforts to rein in what many Southern Baptists see as inappropriate departures from religious orthodoxy have looked to many professors and college administrators like efforts to limit academic freedom.

"The convention itself in its national and state organizations has moved so far to the right that previous diversity on the faculty and among the trustees is no longer possible," said Bill Leonard, dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest. "More theological control of the curriculum and the faculty has been the result."

David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it more starkly. "The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist form is incompatible with higher education," Professor Key said. "In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you're searching for truths."

Saturday's Picture Of The Day.

Something about this photo from the Chicago Tribune made me want to share it. I guess it just made me laugh out loud.

A Fading Tradition.

I don't tend to often get nostalgic for my childhood but, having grown up in Pennsyvania, this NY Times story about the disappearing hex sign brings back a lot of old memories. I remember driving around our neck of the woods and seeing them on barns everywhere. It was probably my first exposure to public art.

For those not familiar with hex signs, here's some background.
They were brought here by the Germans who came from the Rhineland-Palatinate area to these fertile valleys in southern Pennsylvania, a region rich in mystery — and mistranslation. Though the people in these parts are of German descent, they are called the Pennsylvania Dutch because the dialect that most of them once spoke, a mix of German and English, was referred to as Pennsylvania Deutsch.

And while the power to ward off evil and bring good luck or plentiful harvests has been attributed to the hex signs, most scholars now believe that this notion too sprang from linguistic error. In Wallace Nutting’s 1924 book “Pennsylvania Beautiful,” the author most likely confused the Pennsylvania German word for six-pointed, “sechsafoos,” with the word for witch’s foot, “hexefuss.”

The real origin of the tradition was purely artistic, said David Fooks, executive director of the nearby Kutztown Folk Festival.

“The barn was the most important place in the farm family’s life,” Mr. Fooks said, “and it was only natural for them to decorate it.”

How Christian Is This?

Read the excerpt below from a news account of the execution of one man this past week. I understand that what he did was wrong and deserved punishment but, how can killing another human being, as described below (or any way for that matter) be "Christian?"

Shortly before 9 p.m., Hedrick, his head freshly shaved, was led into the execution chamber. He appeared calm, wearing dark-blue prison pants with the right leg cut off at the knee and a light-blue shirt with the sleeves cut off.

He was ushered into the electric chair and a half-dozen execution team members secured him stiffly upright with leather and nylon straps on his limbs and torso before asking if he had any last words.

A metal device holding a sea sponge soaked in brine was then attached to his right calf, and a wide strap with a hole for his nose but covering his eyes and mouth secured his head to the chair.

A metal cap holding another brine-soaked sponge was strapped on the top of his head. Power cables were then connected to the head and leg.

A prison official turned a key on the wall activating the system and an execution team member viewing the chair through a one-way window pressed the execution button.

It was about 9:02 p.m. when Hedrick's body jumped up straight, straining against the straps, his fists clenched. A small amount of smoke briefly rose from his leg. His body briefly relaxed between the two 90-second cycles of electricity. Each cycle starts with about 1,800 volts at 7.5 amps for 30 seconds and then 60 seconds of about 240 volts at 1.5 amps.

His body jumped and leg smoked at the start of the second cycle. After five minutes, a physician entered, put a stethoscope to Hedrick's chest and pronounced him dead.

All Human Life Has A Value.

Great dissection, in The Independent, of the difference between what Bush says and does domestically vs. his foreign policy in Iraq on the "taking of innocent human life."

Invoking the sanctity of human life, George Bush wielded the presidential veto for the first time in his presidency to halt US embryonic stem cell research in its tracks. He even paraded one-year-old Jack Jones, born from one of the frozen embryos that can now never be used for federally funded research, and talked of preventing the "taking of innocent human life". How hollow that sounds to Iraqis.

More people are dying here - probably more than 150 a day - in the escalating sectarian civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims and the continuing war with US troops than in the bombardment of Lebanon.

Is It Legal To Starve And Die In A City Park?

One city, Las Vegas, has now made it illegal to feed the homeless in city parks. How compasionate.

Gail Sacco, who operates a mobile soup kitchen seven days a week, said the city doesn't have adequate homeless services and that she is undeterred.

"There's no way for people to get out to those services in triple-digit weather," she said. "My plan is to do anything I feel is needed to keep these people alive."

The law defines a homeless person as an indigent "whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive assistance."

American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said the language makes the law unenforceable.

"The ordinance is clearly unconstitutional and nonsensical," he said. "How are you going to know without a financial statement who's poor and who's not poor?"

"It means they can discriminate based on the way people look," Lichtenstein said.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Day Without Blogging.

My brain, not my computer. It's been a long two weeks and I need to focus on other things and stay away from the news and information that drives me nuts.

What Is The Fragrance Of A Christian?

They can tell we are Christians by our perfume? Give me a break. I agree with Alan Wolfe.
The effect of such products, according to political scientist Alan Wolfe, is to create almost a parallel universe, one that allows Christians to withdraw from the world instead of engaging it as Christ commanded.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Taco Road Trip Anyone?

Now I'm really hungry. Let's take this tour and eat great tacos all along the CA coast. I could spend the day at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara.
Do rich people eat tacos? I had heard that wealthy Santa Barbara was a hotbed of authentic taco activity, but I was hard-pressed to believe it. A cruise down quaint, tree-peppered North Milpas Street, however, confirms it. The street is lined with taquerias, including the one that started the craze -- La Super Rica Taqueria.

Known to many as "the Julia Child joint" -- she was a loyal customer until she died two years ago -- La Super Rica is bright and airy, and the tortillas are handmade on the spot. On the cashier's recommendation, I pair a taco de bistec (charbroiled steak) with a queso de cazuela (a heavenly cheese baked in tomato sauce).

Just as I'm sitting down with the owner, Isidoro González, a white-bearded passer-by leans in. 'It's not just a taqueria, it's the best restaurant in town," he says. Heart be still, it's David Crosby. A fellow taco-hound! "You don't have to continue any further," he says, eyes twinkling. "This is it -- this is the place."
George Bush and Tony Blair Sing of Their Endless Love.

With all the serious news lately I thought we could use something a bit lighter. Enjoy!

The Poor Will Be With Us Always.

For Bush, poverty was an issue on the top of the agenda after Katrina when it gained him some positive PR. In New Orleans he said "We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action." But, there has been no action proving once again that our leaders aren't serious about dealing with this issue.

According to the Washington Post:
The number of Americans living in poverty has risen each year Bush has been president, increasing to 37 million in 2004 from 31.6 million in 2000. Overall, 12.7 percent of the nation's population lives in poverty, which for a family of four means an income less than $20,000 a year.

Revolving Door Prisons In The UK Too.

The UK seems to have issues with repeat offenders too and political leaders want to send millions to build new prisons. But a British charity headed by an ex-offender is putting forward a proposal.
Now he wants to build "centers of excellence" where petty criminals and ex-offenders would be able to pursue vocational training. "They will go in and train for a trade," he enthuses. "We are going to 'trade' them out of crime." Then, he says, they'll be able to find construction jobs, and use their income to pay back for their training. "So the taxpayer won't have to pay for any of it."
Seems like it's worth trying. Or we could just house them, release them, build more prisons and re-arrest them.

What Is A Progressive Christian?

Here's an interesting answer from Rev. Neil G. Thomas, and his eight values of progressive Christians,
By calling ourselves progressive, we mean we are Christians who...

1. Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.

2. Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.

3. Understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’ name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God's feast for all peoples

4. Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable.

5. Know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe.

6. Find more grace in the search for understanding than we do in dogmatic certainty - more value in questioning than in absolutes.

7. Form ourselves into communities dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do: striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God's creation, and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.

8. Recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

World Events (And Bush's Actions) Are Making Me Angry.

I had not intended this blog to be a place where I vented on the current Republican administration but things just keep getting worse and worse all around the world and our leaders don't seem to be paying any attention. We've lost all respect around the world.

Now, Turkey is contemplating invading Iraq. Let's see if they pay attention to the Bush team.

Picture Of The Day.

MSNBC's video of Bush's stem cell bill veto shows this child's reaction. And a little child shall lead them. (Screen capture from

Hezbollah, Are You Listening?

The House of Representatives debate yesterday on same-sex marriage is full of our representatives claiming full knowledge of God's plan. I especially like Rep. Phil Gingrey who claims stopping same-sex marriage helps us in the Middle East.
Gingrey, the floor leader/gynecologist, posited that the debate was "about values and how this great country represents them to the world." After the vote, he elaborated: "This is probably the best message we can give to the Middle East in regards to the trouble we are having over there right now."

So that was it: The marriage debate wasn't about amending the Constitution; it was about quieting Hezbollah.

It's In, It's Out.

Whatever happened to the tie? Not that I miss it. The Christian Science Monitor explores the status of the necktie. Just something to read to take your mind off all the serious news of the day.

Women in The Pulpit.

A commentary in the Christian Science Monitor on the role of women in church leadership is worth reading.
Christian communities can adapt to the advance of women in society by rediscovering the exalted place that women hold in the Scriptures. And as they rethink their ideas of leadership, those churches that decide to open their hearts to feminine-style leadership will naturally open the pulpit to women.

Your Summer Vacation From God.

God Girl had a great post, that I read last week while in Austin, about how to overcome the spiritual dog days of summer. I've been meaning to comment on it since then but haven't had the time so, rather than give you my limited insights, just go and read.

Humanitarian Crisis in Lebanon.

According to the UN, as many as 500,000 people have been driven from their home in and around Beirut. And, our government takes no action to stop the destruction. Read the LA Times account.
Isolated by its crippled airport, blockaded seaports and bombed roads, Lebanon has seen its food and medical supplies dwindle to dangerously low levels. Officials are struggling to accommodate the massive waves of the displaced and reach people left in warfare-racked areas. They are also keenly aware that even towns that have escaped the bombings will soon run out of basic commodities.

As the crisis deepened this week, Lebanese officials said Israeli bombs hit the nation's largest milk factories, a major food factory and an eagerly awaited aid convoy that was making its way toward Beirut from the United Arab Emirates.

I'm Torn Over Middle East Events.

I understand Zev Chafet's point in his op-ed in today's NY Times and sure hope that the Israeli effort in Lebanon has the impact he thinks it will have on Syria and Iraq.
An Israeli victory in Lebanon wounds Hezbollah's patrons, Syria and Iran, both of which threaten American troops and aspirations in Iraq. It establishes Mr. Olmert as a major figure as he tries to set Israel's permanent borders in accordance with American policy. And, with any luck, it will make it possible next year for my children to stay in camp for the entire summer.
But, the lead story in the same paper gives me concern that the wonderful Bush administration is risking civilian lives in an effort to allow Israel free reign until Sec. of State Rice arrives and we provide some leadership to end the crisis.
The strategy carries risk, partly because it remains unclear just how long the rest of the world, particularly America's Arab allies, will continue to stay silent as the toll on Lebanese civilians rises.

On Tuesday, the seventh day of the face-off, Israeli warplanes battered more targets in Lebanon, killing 30 people, including 11 members of the Lebanese Army, when bombs hit their barracks east of Beirut. Four of the dead were officers, and 30 more soldiers were wounded.

In southern Lebanon, nine members of a single family were killed and four wounded in an Israeli airstrike on their house in the village of Aitaroun, near the Israeli border.

Some 500,000 Lebanese have fled their homes to escape the violence, the United Nations estimated.
And then there is the Katrina-like reaction of our government to getting US citizens out of Lebanon. I sure wish we had leaders that I could have confidence in and respect for. Can we survive another 2 years?

It's About Time.

Conservatives finally wise up to Bush's incompetence. What took them so long?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

End of "Catch and Release" Profits Prisons.

More proof that our prison system is about one thing, money. Now, private prisons are poised to profit off get tough policy against illegal immigrants. It's always about money and never about fairness or justice.

A Quiz.

Deja Vu.

The Taliban is back in control in two Afghan towns.

Taking On Religious Extremism.

Just now on CNN, Bruce Feiler, author of "Where God Was Born," said, "the only force strong enough to take on religious extremism is religious moderation, not secularism."

How true. Those of us with strong faith and progressive/moderate beliefs need to take control of the debate and drive out forces of extremism in all the various forms it takes.

How Can We Expect Peace When This is What We Teach The Children?

These pictures are scary.

Wal-Mart Gets God.

Wal-Mart Stores has hired a former nun to work in areas where the company's image has suffered--the environment, health care and labor relations. OK, they didn't hire her because she had been a nun but it probably can't hurt.

God Wears Prada Too.

The Church of England has appointed a priest, Rev. Joanna Jepson, to be chaplain at the London College of Fashion. Why not? I agree wholeheartedly.
Miss Jepson, who will take up her post in September, believes that the Church needs to rethink how it tries to relate to popular culture. "We cannot merely remain in holy huddles in parish churches. It is imperative that there are more of these kinds of chaplaincies that reach into cultural networks and communities, which would otherwise be untouched by the Church."

Standing Up For Separation of Church and State.

Mikey Weinstein has declared war on the defense establishment for religious favoritism and proselytizing in the military.

He starts to get riled up -- waving his arms, quoting the Constitution, saying "the Christian right wants people to think that separation of church and state is a myth, like Bigfoot." And then he pauses, something he does not do often.

"Let me make it clear. I would shed my last drop of blood to defend their right to hold that biblical worldview. They are absolutely entitled to believe that Anne Frank is burning in hell along with Dr. Seuss, Gandhi and Einstein," he says. "But I will not accept my government telling me who are the children of the greater God and who are the children of the lesser God. That's the difference. I will not defend -- I will fight them tooth and nail, and lay down a withering field of fire and leave sucking chest wounds -- if they engage the machinery of the state, which is what they're doing."

Read it all.

Bush's New Christianity.

Andrew Sullivan, in this past Sunday's Times of London, has a column worth reading, dealing with what "Christianity" has become. It's time progressive Christians take back Christianity from these clowns on the right.
Welcome to the strange new world of conservative evangelical Christianity, where government torture is no big deal, Lay is a martyr, and the death penalty is God’s will. In this version of Christianity what matters is not so much what you do — but what’s in your heart. And if you have committed to Jesus Christ and attend the right church, a little corporate larceny is no big whoop.

Taking It To The Streets.

In DC, P B & J and the Holy Spirit.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Iraq Continues to Crumble.

Things seem to be getting worse in Baghdad. This Times of London piece from last week confirms how out of control things are. And, our leaders say things are getting better, right?

Plus, they now have to deal with the situation in Israel and Lebanon. How can they do two things at once?

UPDATE (7/18): And the UN reports that over 3,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in June. According to the NY Times:
This sharp upward trend reflected the dire security situation in Iraq as sectarian violence has worsened and Iraqi and American government forces have been powerless to stop it.

"Every Human Being Deserves Better Than to Sleep on The Streets.’’

That is the stated motive and belief of NY Mayor Bloomberg according to the NY Times and, it sure sounds like a worthy goal. As long as the city addresses the root causes of homelessness the city seems to be heading in the right direction. Perhaps his plan could be a model for other US cities.

UPDATE (7/18): Here's another NY Times article with more details. I guess cleaning out homeless encampments is a good thing provided the city follows through on it's plans to provide permanent housing.

Who Cares?

Oprah's not gay.

Reports From Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian Bloggers.

Having been away for the past 6 days, I've been trying to catch up on what's been happening in the middle east. Here's a place to start -- The Truth Laid Bear.

Blogging Holiday.

Woke up too late to do any posting, off to the airport in a bit to fly home. See you later today, if I can focus or perhaps I will take the day off from blogging.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

50 Albums That Changed Music.

On the 50th anniversary of the pop album charts, The Observer has an article on the 50 albums that changed music. A pretty good list as far as I'm concerned.

Tired, But Heading Home.

Another NAMM show is over, our trade show booth dismantled and packed up for shipment, and I am finally stretched out on my bed trying to relieve my swollen, tired, old feet. (Not a pretty picture.)

On my way back to CA tomorrow morning so I can get back to my normal pattern of late night and early morning ranting.

Sunday Morning Cartoon.

Given my involvement with technology for digital sheet music, I just had to post this cartoon.Cartoon courtesy Dave Walker and The Cartoon Blog.

Levitical Sex.

David Plotz continues his review of Leviticus at and is taking on a lot of the weirdness, including masturbation and gay sex. Here's what he says gay rights advocates should use in arguing against those on the right who fixate on this one issue:
So, how should Bible-loving gay-rights supporters rebut Leviticus 18:22? A stronger argument, perhaps, is to point out all the other things the Bible is equally clear about: The death penalty for gay sex, yes--but also the death penalty for cursing your parents, the death penalty for violating Sabbath, exile for sex with a menstruating woman, etc. ... Turn the Bible-quoting back on the social conservatives: Why do they fixate on the abhorrent gay sex and not the abhorrent menstrual sex, or parent cursing, or Sabbath-violating?
Amen! Read his entire take on Leviticus 13 - 20.

More on the Democrats and People of Faith.

Haven't written much (I'm still in Austin and my blogging time is limited to early morning) about the ongoing reaction to Sen. Barack Obama's speech a couple of weeks ago but here's an analysis and reaction for Gregory Rodriguez in the LA Times.
By ceding the language of faith to the GOP, the Democrats have allowed Republicans to treat "religion" and "evangelical" and "conservative" as if all three terms were synonymous. But by developing a renewed respect for the faith of the American public, the Democrats have an opportunity not only to revive their hopes to capture the White House but to demonstrate that the religious landscape in contemporary America is as diverse as it ever was.

Stating the Obvious.

In today's lead editorial the NY Times states what has been obvious for a long time. Its good to be the king.
It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration's response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.

Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints. Even when the only challenge was to get required approval from an ever-cooperative Congress, the president and his staff preferred to go it alone. While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.

One result has been a frayed democratic fabric in a country founded on a constitutional system of checks and balances. Another has been a less effective war on terror.
And, there is an opinion column by Morton H. Halperin was on Richard Nixon's enemies list and is experiencing deja vu.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Christian View of the Immigration Debate.

How should people of faith treat immigrants? The Christian Century concludes its editorial with this paragraph:
Jews and Christians share this scripture: "You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Exod. 22:21). Scripture says that God's people are to regard sojourners not with fear, indifference or loathing, but with love and respect. Movements to criminalize millions of individuals, break up families and destabilize industries are bad enough. The notion that the alien among us is anything other than beloved elicits some of scripture's strongest condemnations: "'Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.' All the people shall say, 'Amen!'" (Deut. 27:19)

The Evolution of Religion.

Watch this interesting (less than 3 minute) video, of Robert Wright interviewing Keith Ward, Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, for a brief history of religion in years past. If you think religion is strange today you should have been around a few millenniums ago

Do No Harm.

Looks like I missed this PBS special as I am still in Austin. This show takes on the hot issue of if doctors should participate in implement executions. If you are interested, there is supposed to be an online link to watch it here. I know I will.

And then there is this article in the NY Times, "Missouri Says It Can’t Hire Doctor for Executions." Hopefully more of this kind of legal action will prevent the state from killing people until the American public comes back around to realizing that the death penalty is wrong.

630% Markup When Inmates Call Their Families. Outrageous!

Ripping of those incarcerated and their families happens all the time but, one of the biggest peeves for me is how the states cut deals with phone companies to overcharge prison inmates and their families for collect calls to stay in touch. If inmates stand any chance of being rehabilitated family ties must remain and be encouraged. All this does is prevent communication in an attempt to generate income for the states.

Looks like a Court of Appeals in NY is going to review a lawsuit that would prohibit charging these exorbitant rates.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Amazing Bush Photo Op.

Couldn't resist posting this one. The rest of us have been crying for 6 years now.

Take the Quiz.

How greedy are you? Take the Beliefnet quiz.
Betty Butterfield Sings the National Anthem of France--Happy Bastille Day!!!