Saturday, January 31, 2009

Transdifferentiation: Another Way to Immortality?

Well, sort of. But apparently only if you are Turritopsis nutricula, a form of jellyfish.

The reason I bring it up is because you have probably seen multiple reports of new cross litigation brought by the Un-Real Diocese of San Joaquin against the Real Diocese of San Joaquin and ECUSA on some of the sites that shall not be mentioned.

Should you choose to read the description of the litigation, and the argument, be forewarned: It is transdifferentiation except in this case, plaintiffs don't return to a youthful state, they remain semi-transparent jellyfish no matter what they call themselves.

So before you put on your tin-foil head garb for the annoying escalator ride to nowhere, just keep that in mind. And take some aspirin. You'll have a headache when you are through.

To whit, the photo is of the immortal jellyfish. Put a pointy hat on it, and you can see the similarity to former TEC Bishop Schofield who also lives in a sort of bubble.

Yes, yes, I know. I will go ask for forgiveness now.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Interesting Reading For The Day

Nathan over at The Wayward Episcopalian has a terrific post over at his blog today. I hope you will take the time to read it and think about it.

*****
+Gene Robinson will be testifying before the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee on the issue of gay marriage in the state this coming Thursday, February 5, 1:00pm. It would appear the hearings before this committee are neither televised or broadcast otherwise. Hopefully we can find video of this when it occurs and post. The proposed amendments to bill RSA 21:3--HOUSE BILL 415, "AN ACT adding certain terms regarding non-discrimination to the laws"--authored by Jim Splaine (D) and introduced January 8, 2009, seeks to elevate current civil unions to "marriage" per non-discrimination. Another article is here. Splaine's contact information, should you be inclined, is here. Bill text is here, bill docket is here, and bill status is here. Co sponsors of the bill include: Edward Butler (d), Barbara Richardson (d), and Paul McEachern (d).

NIRS Needs Your Help--And So Does Ellie Over At MP's

UPDATE: First to Ellie. Ellie is having to put her dear dog, Izzy, down today. She was just diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg. Please visit MP's and send Ellie a prayer, and one for Izzy, too.

*****
One of the very best--and I mean top notch--groups in the U.S. on everything nuclear is Nuclear Information Resource Service, NIRS. I worked with them (I was employed by another international environmental group at the time) on a number of radioactive waste issues and I can tell you they are truly guardians of us all when it comes to anything nuclear. I hold the highest respect for them.

NIRS needs your help to yank $50 billion in loan guarantees from the stimulus bill designed to help construct new nuclear power and "clean coal" plants. This is not the way to go green, assures even more radioactive waste which has no place to go, and in the case of coal, spews toxic metals and chemicals into our air and water and refutes attempts to stop climate change.

This will only take a minute, and if you don't belong to an organization, just type none in the organization box.

There are two things to do, and I have made it very easy for you:

1. Sign the letter to stop the nuclear and coal pork
2. Send an e-mail to your senators to stop the pork

Thank you very much. It is important to us all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Volcano God in Alaska Apparently Unhappy

Every time some national disaster occurs, some on the uber religious right start pointing to various groups admonishing guilt. It happened after 911, happened after Katrina.

In an interesting spin, Redoubt volcano, located approximately 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, is showing increased signs of getting ready to blow according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The photo here, courtesy of the Observatory (photo by R. Clucas), was taken of Redoubt erupting in 1990. The eruption reportedly shot ash eight miles into the air. Just what we need in an era of climate change.

So, I was thinking... What would the cause of this eruption be?

Would it be Sarah Palin and her campaign lies or perhaps her recently announced SarahPac? Ted Stevens and his corruption case? Gosh, there is such a long list of potentials it's hard to pick.

Pope to Offer Personal Prelature to Traditional Anglicans + More

... which is interesting. Read the Telegraph article here (and here). All I can say about this is, mmm.

*****
Rev. Professor Stephen Noll writes on the Anglican covenant process. Interesting reading especially for (as he calls many) revisionists. T1:9 also is carrying a piece on this.

*****

Gallup ranks the states in terms of importance of religion. Pretty darned interesting and does explain quite a bit about some political machinations. Read it here.

*****
This is an incredible 1:08 minute clip that almost defies description except to say, if you love sexism, you'll love former Texas congressman Dick Army in this (whew!):



*****
The American Family Association (will not link) is freaking out over Pepsi's support of lgbt folks. They called for a boycott of Pepsi and are really freaking out over the 30 second Pepsi add (below) being shown in the UK. Watch the Pepsi add... it will make you smile (and Lord knows, we can't have that!).

UPDATE: the video has been pulled, but here is a link to another site where they have it embedded and it WORKS!





My advice? Drink a lot more Pepsi.

*****
Finally, a decent piece on how the GOP is hunkering down to become... just what they were. Worth a read, and some of the links are quite good.

Read This Then 'Splain to Me Why...

taxpayers should EVER support school vouchers.

Here's the story (and court decision).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pope and I Apparently Have Something In Common

January 27th was the Holocaust Memorial Day. I am deeply ashamed that I missed the date, and I sincerely apologize.

This date--January 27--despite all other things, keeps the memory of those that died at the hands of Hitler: Jews, gypsies, gay and lesbian people, and certain Christian people and keeps the memory of what can and did happen in current history, as it should be.

We must never forget. Never.

This week, the Pope did something that made many people in the world very unhappy, and they are unhappy for good reason.

We both, the Pope and me, forgot the importance of this date.

Those of us in TEC read from the Jewish books during our liturgy, and we read and study it as well else wise. It is a vital and irreplaceable part of our thinking.

So how is it that we do not ask those among us to recognize this date?

Both of us--me and the Pope--were wrong, albeit for different reasons, but nonetheless, wrong.

View the LA Times slide show on the matter, here.

I deeply apologize.

The New York Times (Finally!.. sheesh) On Belugas

The New York Times is obviously not the quickest from the mark sometimes. Sheesh. But here's what they had to say (realize, this is hardly an environmental or lib paper):

There is no doubt that Cook Inlet is vital to Alaskans. But it is also vital to the species that live in its waters. Listing the belugas does not mean shutting down the economy of the Cook Inlet. It means adjusting it to accommodate species that cannot adapt or survive any other way.

Gee, how rational can one be?

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

About six months ago, in September of 2008, I took on two cats to foster for someone in alcohol/drug rehab. To be honest, I didn't want to do it. Why? Because I just sensed the woman was a flake and this would not end up well.

But the cats, then living in an abandoned apartment with a cat box that looked (and smelled) like the county landfill, needed help. So I made her a deal.

For $80.00/month, I would keep her cats only if she agreed to pay for the proper food to get the 21 and 17 lb. cats down to a healthy weight. The $80.00 was for that food and the cost of litter for the two. Those of you that know boarding costs understand that this is about what a vet charges for three days for one cat. In reality, it probably doesn't cover the costs, but close.

She agreed (after begging me to take them) to do it my way, and paid for September. I received October as planned. November not so great, but eventually paid. Nothing in December or January, and today I received from her, via a letter, permission to adopt out the cats as she had lost her job and could no longer pay for them.

This would be a cinch for me were it not for the fact that these really ARE nice cats. But then there is the problem with how she handled them.

Kahn came in weighing 21 lbs., extremely clinically obese. He weighs 15.5 lbs. now, and needs to get down to at least 11 or so pounds then we reassess. Off to the vet this Friday (with Kizo, below) for weight assessment.

Kizo came in at 17 lbs., clinically obese, and is now down to 13 lbs. Looks to me like 1-2 more lbs. should do it. He is a big boned cat.

So now, the very position I wanted to avoid obviates itself.

Tell me what you think.


This is all about the cats. Right now, and perhaps in the future, especially given the economy, these cats could not go back to her even IF she were not in a halfway house. She would have to be stable enough and living somewhere she could have the cats. Strike one.

She spends the days with her boyfriend who hates cats. She is not looking for work. Strike two.

She allowed the cats to become extremely obese which says to me that her ability to take care of the cats is, well, not great. This along with the condition I found the cats in. Strike three.

In her defense: She is trying to clean herself up. It is not easy. Jobs are hard to find, and not getting any easier to find. She may not have realized that obesity in cats can kill them (many become diabetic), though she got my lecture and sure as heck knows it now. The cats are nice, thus she must have done something right!

If I hold them for her, they could be here for near ever. And if she eventually moves in with the boyfriend, he will never accept them.

My feeling (for the cats' sake) is to rehome them.

So tell me, how do YOU vote on this?

Hold them for her, or adopt them to appropriate-to-the-cat approved homes prior to which we:

1. Require an application.
2. If a cat appears to be a match to the applicant, we check personal references, vet references and do a home visit (actually, the home visit says a great deal). We require every member of the family be at the home visit to see how people deal with the cat/dog. Very telling. There is also a rather private list of rescuers that have a DNA (do not adopt) list from experiences from failed adopters etc.
3. If home and vet references, and home visit fly, we require they sign a contract which assures the dog/cat is returned to us regardless of when or why for the life of the animal. This is a safety net for the animal and the human.
4. Prior to release, each dog/cat is spayed/neutered, vaccinated as appropriate (we NEVER over-vaccinate... a real tic of mine), checked for internal parasites and treated if necessary, microchipped (we remain the first holder of the chip with the adopter as second, we pay all registration fees and we physically register so we know it is done), treated for fleas/ear mites as routine (Advantage multi), fully vetted (anything wrong is righted, from teeth to coat, and anything else found through blood, urine labs and examination and they don't leave until they are perfect), and on the day of exit, receive another thorough exam--what we call an "exit exam"). If a cat, each goes with a hard shell plastic carrier with a metal gate appropriate to the cat's adult size. If a dog, and a dog requiring crating for house training or other purposes, we require the crate be in place. Re require all to have ID when released and WE put it on their collars. All cats/dogs must be at proper weight before leaving. All dogs must have some basic obedience skills, and with some dogs, we require and will pay for classes in obedience (when they successfully graduate) by reimbursing a portion of the cost if they use one of our recommended list of trainers (each highly scrutinized... no shoddy, wanking trainers, rather certified trainers we check and which are approved by a local degreed behaviorist).
5. ALL veterinary paperwork--literally all the notes, all the bills, all the certifications, go with the dog/cat except any AKC or TECA registrations (we never release these, and for good reason).
6. An entire packet of information on health, nutrition and other useful information and links to appropriate sites goes with the dog/cat in a notebook which also contains all the dog/cat records. We also send a recommended list of veterinarians that are certified in western, eastern, and homeopathic medicine.

So you see, we put a lot of work into this for a good reason. We want to make good choices for the people and the animal. It is very, very expensive in some cases and we are always in the red. While we may make $50.00 on one animal, we might spend $1,000.00 on another. Adoption fees never cover costs at the end of the year. Never. Never ever, ever!

So, what do YOU think?

Hold for her indefinitely or find the cats a good home?

My heart and head say the latter.

Sea Ice: Area v. Volume of Northern Polar Ice

The third in a new series addressing climate change. The previous two, each of these is about 4 minutes, can be found here.

This is important information. Why? Because YOU are going to hear this prattle all the time. If you believe climate change is an important topic, arm yourself with the proper and correct arguments to defuse the prattle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Don't Usually Do This.

Economics is not now, nor has it ever been, my forte. But with the economy spiraling out of control--and todays "Bloody Monday" report of more than 68,000 jobs cut--it seems like a good time to post an The New York Times Op-Ed by 2008 Nobel Laureate in Econ, Paul Krugman.

In his NY Times Op-Ed, Krugman takes on the naysayers to Obama's massive stimulus plan.

I think it is well worth reading given uber-nutcase Rush Limbaugh (and others) has blatantly stated he hopes Obama fails. Failing, of course, means we all get hurt even worse; a curse only a madman would wish upon innocent Americans that didn't gamble away our economy and didn't get a spoonful of greed pie, either.

You can read Krugman's Op-Ed here.

Other instructive writings/interviews by/with Krugman:

http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/feature/2008/12/08/paul_krugman/
http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11050137
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/11/paul-krugman-de.html
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/economists-ideology-and-stimulus/

Sunday, January 25, 2009

If You LOVE Words, Like I Do...

Read this! SO fun, and so full of neat history.
excerpt:

Hopefully, none of us have ever had to live on Skid Row. This expression came into popular use in the Great Depression. Living on Skid Row was was the last place for someone who was on the bottom of society, or "on the skids." These skids were a very real thing, though. In the late 19th century the logging industry was growing, especially in the northwest. Large tree-trunks had to be hauled, either to sawmills or to the nearest transport. They would be moved along tracks made of greased timbers. The loggers called these 'skid roads.' Legend has it that the first Skid Row was along a Skid Road built in Seattle.

Aren't words fun!! Reminds me a lot of Steve Allen who used to do a segment on his show about words. Man oh man, am I dating myself or what?!

So Long, Sniff!

Yesterday, one of our cats, Sniff, a gorgeous young lilac Siamese, went to her brand new forever home!

We are so excited because not only is she going, her sister (Scratch) will be going to the same home in about two weeks (she has a minor fungal infection in her ear and we want to get those ears just perfect before she goes).

It is always a blessed day when a cat that was thrown away finds love in another place. As it turns out, a friend of a friend adopted the two and the home is quiet, serene and just perfect for these little girls! They really are light, like the singular picture.

I got a report this morning that Sniffy slept on the bed last night, ate well, is faithfully using her kitty box and is happy as a clam! Yeah for little Sniff! It is amazing when only one cat leaves--or enters--how the household dynamic changes. I can feel it and see it.

Two more adult cats are coming next Saturday. Their human family is in crisis and has been waiting for a spot to open here, so happily, I let them know last night we FINALLY have an open spot!

So say a prayer of thanks to God for these two little ones and a prayer of hope for the two new ones coming in.

*****

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trouble in River City?

It appears that ACNA (formerly the Common Cause Partnership) is meeting objections to their new Constitution. Nuff said, read here. (Well, I do have to say one more thing: unsurprising.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

SHE Badly Needs a Speech Writer: Quote of the Day

1. This is from you-know-who up there in the detached state, also too. There is a tie between two quotes of the day, both are equally outrageous:

Our biologists have protected game by eliminating predators from calving grounds and we'll further protect herds, some of which are at precariously low levels of abundance - thus ultimately promoting the population growth of every species.

I guess every species doesn't include wolves, and bear sows and cubs all of which can be shot from airplanes to lower their numbers. How that is a "growth of every species" is beyond me.

And for your second source of entertainment:

Responsible resource development - including drilling, mining, timber and tourism - means more jobs, instead of more government.

This from a woman who supported the pebble mine which would disrupt and pollute water sources. Should you be interested in reading the whole thing (which I don't recommend though given she penned this herself, it is interesting given Obama's speech which he also penned), go here. She apparently has now signed an attorney to help her land a lucrative book deal. Please, God, let someone write it for her. I don't think our minds could withstand the unmanageable sentences and tiny ideas. And with a possible $11 million in the deal, gosh won't she just be your average soccer mom then? You betcha.

2. The Detroit Free Press Gets The DOH! Award for This Headline:

Some see Palin's media slams as spotlight grab

Nothing like understating the obvious.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some EXCELLENT Short Videos On Climate Change

I found several of these in a post on Daily Kos. The purpose of these is to attack common misperceptions on the topic of climate change.

I invite you to watch these. They are VERY well done and suitable for cable news shows and shorts in discussions on them.

This one, the difference between "weather" and "climate" is very, very good.



This second one is on the topic of the change in polar ice caps (arctic rapidly decreasing, antarctic increasing) and why this doesn't add up to climate stability (no climate change). Very, very good.

Frank the Duck and His Dad

This is SO neat. Trucker and his duck(er). And as they said, "What the... duck?"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Last VERY Funny Bunch of Speeches by Bushy on Letterman

Move the water away from the keyboard. If you don't, don't blame me.



Also, see previous post on Sammy the cat banned from an Alabama post office for not paying taxes. No joke. Your government (not for long!) at work.

Sammy the Cat Banned From Alabama Post Office for Not Paying Taxes

Our government at work. Watch here (2:06):



If you would like to send Sammy a note of confidence and support:
Mr. Sammy the Cat
PO Box 173
Notasulga, AL 36866

So. Baptist R. Albert Mohler Calls +Robinson, Others, Atheists and Idolotors

UPDATE: You can see some video and hear +Gene Robinson giving his convocation prayer here at Pam's House Blend.

UPDATE 2: Bruce Wilson has an excellent article on Huff Post here. Warren, as we well know, has more problems than Obama's team knew or, apparently, bothered to research. Talk about political hypocrisy!

*****
James, over at The Three Legged Stool, presents, today, a very interesting piece on recent schizmo actions. But what I found the most fascinating, actually, is the apparent intervention in TEC affairs by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr (Ph.D.).

In case you don't know who Mohler is, he is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. So first we have Warren, now Mohler, playing in the TEC schizmo sandbox.

And least you think Mohler, whose theological differences with Warren are more aesthetic than fundamental, you'd be right. They are both led by the dogma of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Among other things, Mohler maintains a blog and broadcasts a weekday one-hour radio show. He is also frequently called upon to dispense vitriol (and lies) on shows with James Dobson and others on the uber religious right and mainstream (MSM) media.

In contrast to the more large tent less dogmatic version of Christianity found in TEC, Mohler, like Warren, maintains an apparent list of "qualifications" to be Christian and penned this caustic statement (also found on his blog, linked above) on TEC's Bishop Gene Robinson and other TEC Bishops January 16th of this year:

We can be fairly sure that, for Bishop Robinson, "specifically" and "aggressively" mean more or less the same thing. A review of most recent inaugural prayers reveals virtually nothing that could be fairly described as "aggressive" and remarkably little that can be described as "specific." The last two inaugurations have included prayers with greater specificity, to be sure.

The bishop's comments reveal just about everything one needs to know about his theology. He pledges that "this will not be a Christian prayer" and he "won't be quoting Scripture or anything like that." No, nothing like that.

Recent controversies over praying in the name of Jesus Christ will not be a factor here. Instead, the bishop said he might address his prayer to "the God of our many understandings" - an expression calculated to be vague. Bishop Robinson says that he learned the language in a 12-step program he attended after developing an alcohol addiction.

"The crisis in the Church of England," wrote Clive James in The Dreaming Swimmer, "is that too many of its bishops, and some would say of its archbishops, don't quite realize that they are atheists, but have begun to suspect it."

Lets be clear about what Mohler is saying here: Mohler is clearly supporting the notion that Bishop Gene Robinson and other Bishops in the CoE are atheists.

I have no doubt I wouldn't fit into his tiny-minded box which defines Christian, either. Having been an atheist/agnostic for a good part of my life, I can only conclude that he more enjoys wielding the hatchet than seeking understanding since he overtly denies the meaning of the word atheist: one who believes that there is no deity.

One could easily suggest that Mohler is just conflating his opinion of others' religious views, or one can just flat out call it straight: Mohler is lying.

Interestingly, on January 15 and 16 of this year, while in Southern Carolina at the "Mere Anglicanism" conference where Mohler was asked to speak, Mohler broadcast two radio shows one on the life and opinions of Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali (January 16th), and the second on "Mere Anglicanism" (whatever that is) (January 15th).

Nazir-Ali's discussion on Anglicanism, Bishop Gene Robinson and the current situation begins at about 26:30. Nazir-Ali says he doesn't know what "God of our many understandings" means. Nazir-Ali--led enthusiastically by Mohler--calls the use of the above term "intentional idolotry". So not only is Bishop Robinson an atheist, he is also an idolotor.

They discussion moves on to embryonic stem cell research/use, abortion and euthanasia which Mohler calls [euthanasia] "a liberal death wish". At 34:45 they move on to the issue of African evangelism, as they call it.

The previous radio show on "Mere Anglicanism" is described this way:

As the Episcopalian Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) has moved further into theological liberalism and away from biblical fidelity, many evangelical American Anglicans have ventured out in search of faithful church structures. In a special broadcast from the Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston (SC), Dr. Mohler welcomes Rev. Dr. William Dickson—rector of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Forth Worth, TX--to the program to discuss the significance of these developments not only for Anglicans, but for evangelicals at large.

Mohler mentions CA Proposition 8, Rick Warren, Obama, Bishop Robinson and "homosexual activists". Mohler says, outright, that "Bishop Robinson is NOT a Christian Bishop." Mohler takes on Warren a bit, but not much, and takes on the term "nation's pastor", executive orders issuable by the U.S. President and backs again into embryonic stem cell use, and DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell as it pertains to gays in the military).

At about 12:25 Mohler begins to discuss Mere Anglicanism and the North American Anglican Province. Dickerson enters about 13:25. Dickerson goes back to (sigh) the 1960s and Pike saying that is where it started and that it did not start with the issue of "homosexuality". Gads, cannot they EVER get over Pike?

Dickerson defines the term "Mere Anglicanism" as primacy of the scriptures and the Thirty Nine Articles.

Dickson explains what has "happened" to the TEC as beginning with Pike and others who abandoned the Episcopal faith. Dickson said that Bishop John Spong expressly denied the presence of God and Mohler goes back to Spong's heresy. It's the battle of the literalists.

Mohler then goes back to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and saying that there are people that read these words (and the Bible) and don't believe them. Enter the dinos and exit modern theology. Mohler calls the overall problem a "comprehensive collapse of Christianity" while Dickson calls this an exciting time to be an Anglican. Exciting? Not the term I would use by any means.

*****

I undoubtedly needn't voice how I feel about this kind of interference both from Mohler and Warren, how I feel about the rather vicious name calling, and it should make the motivation for Warren's offer to St. James crystal clear though Warren, as ever, has backed into and out of that issue, as usual. Some call it tap dancing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday News Late Ed.

Time Magazine has a new piece out on Rick Warren and dare I say it isn't exactly favorable? Read here. Warren isn't going "away" any time soon as much as we might like that. So best to be able to understand this man's contortions. A protest was, again, held today in front of his church.

The US not only tortured adults, but now it is being revealed that they tortured children. Yes, you read that right. Read about it here. Ongoing concern as to whether Bush and others within his administration will be further investigated and charged for various crimes. All I can say, is I hope so.

U2 played at the inaugural concert today, In the Name of Love . If you love this song as much as I do and feel like a good dance... here is the video:



Sadly, one of the speaker towers kept many from hearing our Bishop Gene's prayer in the Memorial/reflecting pond area (as reported by The Lead), and HBO issues and NPR overshot him. Sad given Warren won't be "missed", you can be sure.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Some Sunday News Early Ed.

Update 1: Here's our Bishop Gene! To read a copy of Bishop Gene's prayer (HBO apparently screwed up and missed Gene's prayer live), go over to Friends of Jake, here.

Update 2: Here is our President Elect giving his speech before the Lincoln Memorial (6:40).

Udate 3: If you missed the inaugural concert, it is being re-run twice tonight. Go here for times/concert.

*****
Gov. Bobbly Jindal (R-LA) says he is not interested in running for president in 2012. One has to wonder, then, why this hard line uber-conservative who is anti-choice, anti-stem cell research, anti-same gender marriage (and pro-constitutional revision to further outlaw it), and who supports a permanent "Patriot" Act, an amendment to outlaw flag burning, co-payments for medicaid, off shore oil drilling, teaching of "intelligent" design in public schools, and chemical castration of certain sex crimes perpetrators is playing further to the extreme religious right. In December, Jindal formed the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family. And who, but the most strident from the religious right, are a part? Tony Perkins, Gene Mills and Mike Johnson among others. Read more here. This fellow is as right radical as it gets when it comes to social policy. Keep your eye on Jindal.

Bruce Wilson at Talk to Action deconstructs Rick Warren. For folks interested in religion or theology, this is a must read. It certainly confirms what many of us are thinking. Rev. Dr. Renita Williams discusses a recent Warren letter and has some sage advice for him on issues of race.

Mike over at Lavender Wolves has an excellent piece (with great links) on the issue of legislators and how pro-marriage positions don't effect their political futures. This runs counter to the long piece I wrote on the topic and I'm pulling for Mike to be right. He also, and importantly, suggests that the study discussed in his piece be sent to legislators, writing: Perhaps even more importantly, we can help stop lawmakers from using the threats of retaliation as an alibi for their own bigotry. Way to go, Mike. Excellent piece.

This is a must read: Banks Using TARP Funds to Speculate in Oil Markets. Who does it involve? Citibank (it is cross posted here at Daily Kos, with an update and several rather interesting comments). Yes, this Citibank that your and my tax dollars bailed out (it was Claimed $5billion went to Citibank, but in reality, it was $45billion) to and which likely will need more funds in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Senator Levin (D-MI) announced earlier this week he would be subpoenaing treasury's contract with Citibank. Treasury had promised a copy of the contract to Levin which he has not, to date, received. Levin is chairman of the Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations. He might be in for an even bigger surprise than he imagined. Citibank's 52-week range: 3.05 (today) - 29.73. Last Friday, Citibank split into two entities. If you have Citibank stock, like my 95 year old mom does, God help you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

This Should Piss Just About Everyone Off!

The writer is an equal opportunity pisser-offer when it comes to the hypocrisy of Prop 8. I really enjoyed it, actually, and "That Woman" is quoted in the article, as well. Note, if you have thin skin as an LDS member or RCC member, might want to gird those loins before reading.

I don't agree with all of this, but I do agree with a lot of it.

Roll the dice... takes yer chances.

Part one here (mostly on the LDS part):

Part two here (mostly on RCC part):

Friday, January 16, 2009

Warren/Bish. Orombi's Purpose Driven Anti-Semitism?

This is a completely NEW revelation and one that is (as always) rather stunning. Read here.

My head is spinning. This is bizarre, to say the least.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

P-Alaska Sues to Overturn Listing of the Beluga in Cook's Inlet

Back on October 17, 2008, I excitedly wrote about the Cook's Inlet (Alaska) beluga whale listing. But now, P-Alaska is challenging the listing:

"It seems the Palin administration only likes one kind of science -- the kind it agrees with," said Craig Matkin, an Alaska marine mammal specialist with the North Gulf Oceanic Society. "Every objective expert who's looked at this small and isolated beluga population agrees it should be listed."
--X Ray Mag

By mid October, the nation had learned quite a lot about P's (we don't use the Alaska Governor's name around here anymore) position's on many things as VP candidate on the Republican ticket. Though virtually no one knew the name when first announced, the environmental community certainly did. I did. I knew the name because of her unscientific, illogical, vicious and radical support for aerial wolf hunting in Alaska.

I was stunned to think such an environmental neanderthal could even be floated--let alone chosen--as a VP candidate. I wrote my first post on P and her vigorous support of aerial wolf hunting that night--the night of announcement--and posted it the following day, August 30, 2008.

Given P was so heavily criticized for her generally inane, "worse that Watt" environmental stands--support of wolf hunting; her adversarial legal challenge to the ESA listing of the polar bear in light of global warning; her support of the slaughter of bear sows and cubs to, like the wolf slaughter, provide more caribou for tourist's to shoot; her opposition to the listing of the Cook's Inlet beluga because of more important oil and gas interests etc.--it was amazing that anyone with any sort or kind of environmental knowledge or care of same could even consider P as a viable political option media or not.

Blogs, print and net media went viral with the story of the wolf--finally. And people began to write about her overall "scorched earth" environmental stands--finally.
*****
Post defeat, I had hoped P had learned something about Americans and the environment (and believe me, much of the world press also had a field day on many of these issues) and perhaps she might take that lesson home and think long and hard about it, even seek to actually spend some time and money seeking to help Alaska's environment. Instead, as the Center for Biological Diversity opined today:

Alaska ’s legal action against the beluga whale marks the second time in recent months that Governor Palin’s administration has launched legal attacks against endangered species on behalf of the oil industry; in August 2008 Palin filed suit seeking to overturn federal protection for the polar bear.
*****
One of the environmental groups I most respect on the issue of biological diversity and endangered species is The Center for Biological Diversity. The Center is a dedicated powerhouse for biological integrity and diversity and, though relatively small, packs a mean punch. The Center is top notch. TOP, TOP NOTCH.

The Center's write up on the belugas can be read here [note links on the right side should you desire to read more, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA) laws, themselves], and here is the Center's press release on the beluga topic. The Center originally sued (with others) to get the belugas on the ESA list and was successful last fall.
*****
Instead of self assessment, P is on the news, in print, on the web, in blogs whining about how unfairly she was treated (WAH!) by the press during the presidential campaign. She slams the media, slams Katie Couric, and even takes Caroline Kennedy to task in the context of her warped self-relativism. And of course, this is not just bothersome, it is almost (in the old use of the word) hysterical coming from her given her absolute know-nothing criticism of Hillary Clinton on... whining.
*****
What the press didn't miss, stub their alleged liberal toes on or mis-report, were P's environmental leanings. Shit, the woman hangs that laundry on the line every chance she gets with a cosmic middle finger to everything non-human and most things human.

The problem is that P has learned exactly nothing from the campaign about herself, her mistakes, the fact Americans didn't (and don't) like her (her polling was terrible after the first convention curve) and why. Yet, to this minute, she exacts a terrible toll on the Alaskan wildlife that is not hers to kill. These species are not controlled by Alaska, but the US government.

And thanks be to God for that.

In the meantime, some of the world's most endangered animals are in P's sights, almost literally, while P serves as a lapdog for the oil and gas industry moving even farther to the right, environmentally, than George Bush--astounding as that might seem.

I wonder if P realizes that tourism isn't driven by oil and gas. Shoot, want to see oil and gas, buy a ticket to west Texas and rent a car. Or if you want to see aerial views of the oil and gas industry rape on wild land, go to VP Dick Cheney's alma, Wyoming, and take a fly over of the oil/gas exploration areas there. It is an environmental travesty.

The bottom line is this: We need to track ESA issues, and need to track those that attempt to derail listings. It is NEVER just about one species. It is always a broad attack on the entire assumption that species and environment even matter, or are indicative of environmental health or human error.

Think canary in the coal mine. Or, right now, just think Tennessee and massive coal industry (sludge) screw ups that we CANNOT clean up.

---------------------------------------
For press coverage of the belugas:

1. This is a press release from April 22, 2008 PRIOR to listing when The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service was doing a whale recount prior to listing (good background piece)
2. NOAA listing of whales as endangered, here.
3. Excellent National Geographic Piece (with graphics and pics) on the Cook's Inlet belugas here.
4. P Administration and related entities reaction to listing of Cook's Inlet beluga whale here.
5. Stories on Alaska litigation to challenge ESA Cook's Inlet beluga listing: here and here.
6. An Alaskan perspective, here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Obama Cannot Support LGBT Marriage

Yesterday afternoon, I read the first several pieces to surface with information regarding Obama's 1996 support of lgbt marriage. To be honest, I was not surprised, no matter WHAT he has said, politically, before the public and press.

I want to discuss not only how I feel about this, but take a walk through some history to see WHY Obama's 1996 statement, clearly in contradiction with his statements in 2007 and 2008 as he ran for, and won the presidency, is the true one and not what we have been hearing more recently.

You all know how I personally feel about this, so I needn't explain my own convictions other than to say that until all are equal, none are equal.

Here are a few links to articles on the 1996 Obama statements on a variety of lgbt issues: here, here, and here (these among others, the last of these has all the documents captured and readable on his statements for your perusal, and I strongly urge you to read them).

So, what are we to make of this? Well here is my take and this comes from someone that can be--though is usually not--a political pragmatist. I apologize for the length.

*****
Obama is a constitutional scholar. Having taught constitutional law for over a decade, Obama knows full well that, legally, separate is not equal. So, is his current tact (supports equal rights but not marriage) just political? That's my guess.

While campaigning, Obama said he did not support gay marriage (while supporting repeal of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which, as this article points out, is hardly an easy thing to understand), he also said he did not support Proposition 8 which not only outlawed future same gender marriage but some suggest legislated the dissolution of 18,000 extent same gender marriages in California. (Note: The language of the bill is pretty short if not sweet: Prop 8: Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments.) [my red emphasis and link]

Again, Obama is clear about the matter of civil rights in 1996 and clearly opposed Proposition 8 in 2008 (though I have found nothing to give reason) but is far less clear on DOMA while clearly supporting repeal of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell, see below).

Obama is not clear about how he intends to proceed, and this seems to be the absolute stopping point for us all: We don't know what he means or what he will do. Of course, we have to admit, given he hasn't assumed the presidency yet, this should hardly be a surprise.

So I have to ask myself this, from a pragmatic point of view:

Is it better to have a president that understands equal rights but doesn't openly advocate for same gender marriage during the election cycle, or is it better to have a president in the closet about the issue (forgive the pun, please) who might well quietly work for gay marriage given he clearly understands the constitutional and legal backdrop of the matter?

My Case

First, let me reiterate that during his campaign, Obama had said that DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) would remain an issue at large until his hoped-for second term. THAT changed recently, as I posted here. That one change, mostly ignored by the mainstream media (MSM) signaled to me that we aren't in shallow water anymore. More is going on than meets the eye. It also signaled to me that he is clearly hearing from the lgbt community, and their supporters, that equality cannot wait.

Second, Colin Powell, after having supported Obama, issued a strong statement (watch the short CNN video) saying DADT does need to be revisited and went so far as to say he believes that Obama agrees. That might seem a minor thing, but it isn't considering Powell's history on the matter, his support of Obama, and the fact he went to the MSM to say so. It's the difference between announcing a wedding to close friends over dinner and doing so on the front page of The New York Times.

Furthermore, if Powell is going in this direction, you can be sure that others in the military are, likewise. One thing about Obama is clear: He does not listen to one voice, he listens to many before he makes a decision and let me remind you of the huge line of military showcased at the dem's national convention where Obama accepted the party nomination. That was no accident, rather an important statement.

Despite Powell's considerable errors on Iraq under Bush, he remains a respected mainstream voice, especially among people who listen carefully to those in uniform and often take their lead on issues. Many Americans were puzzled or delighted in Powell's support of Obama. Sure, some fired that Powell's support of Obama was "race"-based support, but that was the right wing waxing nonsense and throwing their last disgusting wad of spit into the public arena prior to the election.

Powell made his case for Obama--and his case against McCain and Palin--and I believe it was genuine.

There's fire here, not just smoke.

My Case and Historical Perspective
Now let's take a walk through a period of history that changed American politics for the last 45 years--and the lives of countless millions in this country.

Let's look at Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and later the Voting Rights Act of 1965) and what happened, politically, because of these important bills.

LBJ knew when he advocated (with a stick--that was pretty much his way of herding dem party cats!) for the 1964 Act, and at its signing, that, as he opined, "We [the democratic party] have lost the South for a generation." [emphasis and inclusion mine]

What Johnson didn't anticipate was the loss of the presidency (in terms of frequency) for well OVER a generation, loss of a united democratic and presidential majority for the majority of the last 45 years, and the creation of the racially divisive Southern Strategy/republican strategy that exists today:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
--
1970, Kevin Phillips, Nixon Strategist, The New York Times

The point is, that political decisions have legs for decades (as LBJ envisioned, and as history confirmed) and the strength of a party can be wiped out (regardless of the reason) in favor of another. The results of ONE issue, politically, can change the gold-standard of the country, in terms of political party, for decades--as it did.

In the intervening years between LBJ and Obama, democrats held the office of president for only 12 of the 36 years through Presidents Carter (four years) and Clinton (eight years). During these presidencies, Carter had a dem party majority in the US Senate for all four years of his presidency, and Clinton had a US senate dem majority for only two years. And majority doesn't tell the tale. If you only have a majority, and not a veto-proof majority (60 votes), the power of the majority is far less potent and cannot stop filibusters though, politically, one can assume that even dem party members will not always support dem issues, and some republicans might.

At stake in the 2008 election of Obama, and likewise members of congress, especially the senate, was control of the lower and particularly the upper house (and a hoped-for filibuster-proof majority) and the presidency. As you realize, many congressional members are elected on the coat tails of the president.

On November 4, 2008, there were 49 republicans, 49 dems, and two independents [Sanders (VT) and Lieberman (CT)] in the US Senate. With the Franken (D, winner)/Coleman (R) election in the Minnesota court, were Franken to eventually be seated, that would bring to 59 the number of democrats in the US Senate--one vote shy of a majority which could stop filibusters by opponent republicans.

Is the Southern Strategy still alive and kicking today? You bet. The tired old racial divide is
going screaming and kicking into its goodnight.

The November 4, 2008 election of Obama was a major break-away from this travesty as several red states became pink, purple or changed to blue. But the deep south (see second map) still maintains its red hue while the Bible Belt (see first map), especially in the very red deep south, very, very slowly changes and overlaps the very deep red in the deep south where the Southern Strategy remains effective enough to hold sway.

Both the Southern Strategy and the Bible Belt come significantly into play on lgbt issues including gay marriage as do states with significant predominate religions (e.g. Utah).

Politics and Sausage: It's better not to see either being made
I cannot say whether the choice of Christian Conservative Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation was a choice of politics, example, inaugural-by-committee or any or all of these things. No one knows, or at least no one is taking on the record about it. We may not know until Obama's presidential biography is written in years to come.

What we do know is that, in light of California's Prop 8, the issue of gay marriage is hardly settled not only in the (allegedly liberal) Golden State but in most other states. In light of the calendar of the California Supreme Court, and its hearing on challenges to Prop 8's passage, we are hopeful to have a decision this spring.

But the national issue of repeal of DADT and/or DOMA (and here), remain in the balance with DADT the likely first repealed if either.

There has certainly been NO mention of some sort of federal protection for same gender marriage and that is not to come, imho, for many, many years. Rather, Obama seems content to let the states decide, individually. THUS, it is easy, in that light, and given his history on the matter, to conclude that while he may personally support gay marriage in concept, he is NOT going to go out on a political limb to achieve it. He is going to let us duke it out at the state level and perhaps clear some sort of path through the repeal of DADT.

So, how do I feel about that? Well (and remember I am writing from a pragmatist point of view here), I think he has no choice, actually. Were Obama to come out guns blazing on this issue, the dems could be wiped out in 2010 and 2012 in the short term, and, like the dems post 1964, for decades.

It is important to remember that we have some horrible issues to deal with right now, including winding up a war-turned-occupation that should have never started (Iraq), trying to figure out what to do in a war that was dropped (Afghanistan), trying to avoid a war (Iran) and trying to keep the middle east, in general, from a complete meltdown not to mention India and Pakistan and the frequently pissy North Korea. Then there is the global economy and our national economy, energy (and the associated issue of energy security and global warming), how to deal with the incredible number of crimes committed by a bevy of folks in the last eight years (torture, among them) etc.

Every single person reading this knows that if we do not do the above right, our gooses are cooked and it won't matter who can marry who, the GOP could recover not only the house chambers but the white house and so begin eight more years of tyrannical rule that could make the last eight years look like a walk in the park. THIS is why, in my opinion, Obama will not go out on a political limb.

So, what will it take to achieve the needed civil rights? You, me and everyone we can muster to stay active and convince our representatives that rights are not just theoretical "things" but living entities.

This is not a happy conclusion. It isn't even a remotely satisfactory conclusion. The only thing I can say, at this point, is that it looks like the only conclusion.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Something's Happening Here...

Since (actually it started before November 4, 2008) Obama's election, there has been a notable tone of reconciliation running around. At first, I thought I was imagining it. I was wrong, it really is out there!

With this in mind, watch this wonderful CBS video (2:44) but listen carefully to the very end statements from the commentators.



I think I might have missed it since before Christmas because of the Rick Warren flap (and a well-deserved flap, at that).

But, For What It's Worth, it seems that the reign of terror associated with the last 8 years is, at least in our minds, coming to a close. Thanks Be To God for this!

If you close your eyes and listen to these lyrics (no matter how well you may know them) and put them in the context of the Bush Administration and even the 2008 Republican Convention where people of all stripes were arrested, including media, versus the late 60's, I think you will see what I mean. I sang this song for years along with We Shall Overcome (usually a capella) at protests, demonstrations and political events.

For What It's Worth (Stephen Stills, see song history here)


We Shall Overcome (see history here)


Eight frigging long years of social, military, environmental and economic tyranny, soon over. The battles before us will be fought differently as we may not shout as we climb the mountain, but listen and talk as we wend through the hills.

We shall overcome and begin again on January 20th.

We have high hopes and sometimes we may be disappointed. But this is going to be a new era amid serious economic challenges. This will be the time we must learn to talk, learn to compromise on some things and try to work, for once, together. Yes, it will be challenging.

But today as I look out my window at the beautiful blue sky and the distant red sedimentary cliffs and listen to the sounds of the birds and little else, I have been reflecting on what it will mean to be living in 2009 and the serious challenges we face nationally and internationally.

We have to keep our heads on straight because many will try to turn them away from the goals we see before us. There are generations behind mine (and no doubt yours) that now depend on each of us, as elders, to assure their future and a good future at that.

Let us pray that we are strong in will, kind in heart, open to hearing, capable in thought, and gentle in action.

Lord Hear My Prayer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank you, God!

This picture says why.

Today, it was announced that our beloved Bishop Gene Robinson (NH) would give an opening prayer at the inaugural concert. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read it. When I realized it was true, I literally sat down and cried.

To say I was stunned is an understatement.

This wonderful man, the first openly (and married) gay Bishop in TEC was asked TWO weeks ago to take part in the inauguration. I had been wondering why TEC not only seemed to be shunned in the inauguration, but also WHEN Obama would lose his blind spot and be the inclusive man I believed him to be.

As many of you know, I have been extremely upset about the choice of Rick Warren as the person chosen by Obama to give the inaugural invocation. Not only has Warren spoken and acted cruelly on the issue of lgbt folks and issues, my past personal experience with Warren left me wondering not only about his honesty but his real connection to God. When someone tells me that God tells them to do things, I exit the bus via the closest door, window or hole in the floor.

Warren's church site has recently cleansed even more written material on their beliefs, something that started after both media and bloggers began to post on much of his church's exclusive thinking.

The angst I have so deeply felt culminated today upon reading the news. The tears were tears of joy (and great, great relief). When someday I look back for the final time at my life, this will be one day that will bring me a great, great sense of happiness and joy.

I know that this will cause great criticism and renewed attack upon +Gene, but +Gene is strong and has faced this before. I am certain +Gene knows exactly how much this means to so many of us; those that believe civil rights belong to all of us, lgbt and straight, people of color and not, those religious and not and those many of us who call ourselves Episcopalians and view +Gene, among many others in our faith, as a representative of the welcoming, inclusion and love of our church.

+Gene is a living testament honoring our beliefs and shines a light forward on our path asking us to move forward away from darkness when that darkness can be frightening for many.

In the middle of the oft painful schism which continues within TEC, we are given this wonderful gift at a time when another very special African American, Barack Obama, takes the oath of President with his hand on Lincoln's Bible. None of these are small details.

If you have not read some of +Gene's statements on this, I encourage you to visit The Lead and follow up with the various links to articles. +Gene's comments about how he intends to handle his prayer are wonderful.

Thank you, God.

Bishop Gene and the Inauguration + More

You have no doubt heard by now that Bishop Gene Robinson (TEC) was asked to give the opening invocation at the Presidential Inauguration Concert. Wow. For more (and believe me, you would have to be near death not to have heard about this by now!), go to the Lead, here. Pretting dang interesting news.

Obama's SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) nominee, Mary L. Schapiro, is being sued. Worth a read at the NY Times.

And the most important news (on the domestic front): Welcome Spike and Harry!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obama Commits to Abolishing DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) +...

On DADT, watch what Obama's incoming Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says in this video (this short topic begins at about 4:25/5.00 in the video) if you want to fast forward. The several questions addressed are the result of input to change.gov, round 2. Previously, Obama had said he would get to this (likely in a hoped-for second term). Go here to read on his expression of delay on the matter from November 21, 2008. Here is a piece from 365 on this and at the end, a para on DOMA.


DADT is also addressed in this short piece.

Rev. Susan Russell writes on Rick Warren's recent (eh-hem) offer to orthodox TEC churches (in this case, schizmos only, in the wake of the recent CA Supreme Court decision on their theft of TEC property) to temporarily home them as he is in solidarity with them. Now, is Warren's offer and statement just a slap at TEC in general? Well, yeah! And is it also a slap at the lgbt community (AGAIN!)? Well, yeah! Read it here. I don't attend this parish, but it is quite close, as is Warren's church to me. I find Warren's recent action as disgusting as his more recent thoughts on Prop 8, etc. And least you think I am alone, try googling Rick Warren and TEC. Some are lgbt and some straight. A LOT of them are mighty miffed. I am one.