The saints of the ditches

also posted at Truth & Progress

(apologies to Casey Neill)


(Ammiq wetland, also at bottom – photos reproduced with permission of A Rocha.)


I began looking into the subject of this essay almost a year ago and it is still mostly unfinished just as it was then, crucial research not yet done and important questions not answered. Like everything else this little project was interrupted by personal tragedy, the sudden unexpected death of my dearest friend of some 30 years, and the aftermath. But somehow it seems appropriate now.

As a child I was regularly shooed off to Sunday school at the only church in our tiny little town. Probably just to get rid of me for a while, but maybe also in some vague hope that it would improve my behavior. As far as I know, neither of my parents ever set foot in the place.

It was a pretty gentle Christianity, heavy on parables and light on hellfire. The texts didn’t really take in my case, not in the intended sense of conversion anyway. But something else eventually did.

Two teachers in particular left an impression that would take me many years to understand and to appreciate. A husband and wife team. They recited and exhorted. They produced little plays and arranged trips to church camps in the mountains and on the coast and served as chaperones. And paid themselves for the kids who couldn’t afford the minimal expenses involved. In the wintertime, they found ways to distribute food to families that had fallen on hard times without embarassing them.

They once organized a cleanup campaign. Not for the church grounds; someone was paid to do that. For the rest of the town. I wound up on ditch detail, removing the beer bottles and assorted trash from the old mill ditch that ran through town. In the old days, it was the water source for fire trucks equipped with pumps. Now, it was a trash collector, but one full of tadpoles, wild iris, and crawdads that grew to enormous size in the absence of predator fish.

Do this because you know it is right.

Your reward is in heaven. Ask for no other.

Looking back years later, I saw the great and essential gift they had really given me: a living example of the difference one person of pure intention could make in the life of others and in the community at large. I came to think of my unwitting secular heroes as the Saints of the ditch.

Thoughts of my Saints returned when I ran across A Rocha for the first time in the summer of 2006, in a news article about their evacuation of staff from the Ammiq marshes during that year’s war – or whatever we call them these days – between Israel and Hezbollah.

The Ammiq (English transliteration varies) wetlands, by far the most significant in Lebanon, are the remnant of a once much larger system of swamps, now drained or dried up. Their unique position in the migration flyways elevates their importance further. An incredible 250 species of birds frequent the swamp.

Sadly they exist on other crossroads as well. Suffice it to say they drain into the Litani, and are fed by runoff from the Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, home of another remnant, the scraps of the great forest under documented assault since the time of Gilgamesh (and also bombed, accidentally, last summer).

I became intrigued with these A Rocha people, who quietly and successfully worked to preserve a swamp; Christians who publish manifestos in Arabic on the imperative of caring for creation. (The name is Portugese for “the rock.” The British mother group’s first project was in Portugal.)

And I’m looking at them again, after my ten months in nowhere. There is a lot to explore; their webpages go on forever. There is sometimes an emphasis on the Christianity, but at other times one has the impression of an environmental movement infiltrating and evangelizing the Christian community. The group seems to embrace a strategy of bringing Christianity around to its green way of thinking, and reinvigorating the environmental movement with its Christian perspective.

The emphasis is on research, conservation, restoration, sustainability, community development. And the targets aren’t all small: one declared goal is the reversal of global warming.

In the meantime there are little projects around the world. In northwest Washington state, A Rocha volunteers are working to reestablish kestrels as natural controls on the introduced starlings that drive berry farmers to despair. 

Above all A Rocha understands the value of ecosystem services and the inordinate threat their loss poses to the poor. Here is Stella Simiyu, national committeewoman of A Rocha Kenya and A Rocha International Trustee:

If you look at Africa, for example, the rural poor depend directly on the natural resource base. This is where their pharmacy is, this is where the local supermarket is, this is where the Do-It-Yourself store is, this is in fact their fuel station, their power company, their water company. What would happen to you if these things were removed from your local neighbourhood? Therefore we cannot afford not to invest in environmental conservation, because this is how we enhance the ability of the rural poor to have options and provide for them ways of getting out of the poverty trap.

 

While their newsletters sometimes include terms like abomination, affront to God, blasphemy, they are universally reserved to describe not the sexual behavior of imaginary cartoon characters or the tenets of other faiths, but mercury pollution, illegal dumping on streambanks, and the impoverishment of biodiversity.

The frequent use of the term creation might give some pause. But to the extent that A Rocha talks about God’s creation, it is creation in a certain theological sense, not the opaque dead literalism of televangelists and the legions of village atheists who mistake them for Christianity. While there may be a few somewhere in the tent who sympathize with creationism, the following, from Tsunami Tragedy: Where was God? by a Sri Lankan member of A Rocha’s International Council of Reference is typical:

Modern science has given us a picture of God’s world and of human life as evolving through a long process of potentialities being actualized in time.

 

That might as well be Jay Gould. In searching A Rocha’s publications and web materials so far, the only direct references I can find to creationism describe it as “an annoyance.”

And frankly, I have to like a group that finds joy and purpose in the Book of Job. One of the most popular sermons passed around A Rocha sites is on the following text:

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.

–Job 12:7-8, New International Version

This is not far at all from a fundamental buddhist notion. In the common image of the buddha touching the ground, the gesture is a claim of authority. Questioned as to the reality of his enlightenment or what gives him the right to say such outlandish things, buddha doesn’t appeal up to heaven but reaches down to the earth itself as witness.

I do not understand the endless ranting and raving about religion that goes on in the blogosphere, particularly the dimwitted antinomianism focussed on Christianity so much of the time. Sure, all the children of Abraham are bloodthirsty and tiresome. Filthy gets, the lot of them. But they’re not going away, and I’d miss them after just a few days of listening to bores like Hitchens and Dawkins.

Barrels of ink and millions of pixels are squandered daily on the likes of Fred Phelps. Ever see a story about A Rocha? If you know a Christian who might benefit from the acquaintance, tell them about A Rocha.

Here are two videos produced by A Rocha. That is at least one too many, but they offer slightly different perspectives. The second is included partly for its casual, offhand demolition of the Dominionists that seem to loom so large in American Christotainment.



Me, I ran screaming from the church long ago and have never looked back, but were I to attempt an argument for Christianity, it would be largely about the care of creation and on the terms laid out by A Rocha, whose work would be exhibit A. If I still had a Jesus, he would be this Jesus of the swamps.


Senator Reid: It’s Not A Compromise, It’s A Capitulation

Dear Senator Reid,

Who was it that, in February, said:

This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country.

Oh. Right. It was you.

Who was it that, in February, also said:

There can be no purely military solution in Iraq.

And:

At a time when President Bush is asking our troops to shoulder a larger and unsustainable burden policing a civil war, his failed policies have left us increasingly isolated in Iraq and less secure here at home.

Oh. Right. That was also you.

And who was it, in July, who was reported to have said: 

…he now saw ending the war as a moral duty, and even if the Senate again falls short… would turn again and again to Iraq until either the president relents or enough Republicans join Democrats to overrule Mr. Bush.

Yes. Again. You.

So, what has changed? Why are you now saying you will “compromise” with the Republicans, not to actually end the word, but to just put some meaningless babble into the next bill that will continue it? Could it be all the good news that’s recently come out of Iraq?

Like the new National Intelligence Estimate that says, in effect, that the Bush strategy in Iraq has failed?

Or the nearly two-thirds of the more than a hundred experts surveyed for the Terrorism Index, who believe that the “surge” has either failed, or even had a negative impact?

Or the Fund for Peace saying Iraq is near a total collapse?

Or the recent report in the Observer that fatigue is crippling our army?

Or the recent Los Angeles Times report that: “As military and political leaders prepare to deliver a progress report on the conflict to Congress next month, many soldiers are increasingly disdainful of the happy talk that they say commanders on the ground and White House officials are using in their discussions about the war.”?

Or the new military report that our Army soldiers are committing suicide at the highest rate in 26 years?

Or the report by Oxfam and other aid providers that “the number of Iraqi children who are born underweight or suffer from malnutrition has increased sharply since the US-led invasion,” and that “around 8 million Iraqis – almost a third of the population – (are) in need of emergency aid.”?

Or that our puppet “government” in Iraq recently missed all the benchmarks that were supposed to measure its progress?

Or that The Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces?

Or the report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that “”Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.”?

Or that six years since Shock ‘n’ Awe, we still can’t keep the lights on?

Or that thirty percent of the weapons given to Iraqi security forces- some 190,000 assault rifles and pistols- are missing?

Or that Iraqi security is still lagging and incapable of doing its job, and the Iraqi army won’t be self-sufficient for years?

Or that a major Shiite faction won’t work with our puppet government, while  Sunni leaders say they’ll keep attacking until we leave?

Or that the United Nations says conditions for Iraqi children are worse than they were a year ago?

Or that Britain is leaving Iraq, with its tail between its legs?

Or that Australia’s secretly planning to leave, next year?

Or that Turkey keeps hinting that they might invade Kurdish Northern Iraq?

Or that a July Washington Post-ABC poll found that “(m)ost Americans see President Bush as intransigent on Iraq and prefer that the Democratic-controlled Congress make decisions about a possible withdrawal of U.S. forces”?

Or that Bush has made clear that the war won’t end while he is playing president?

Please, Senator, explain. Are you afraid of Bush’s historically low approval ratings? What is it? The American people want and deserve to know. People are being murdered and maimed. Every day. This isn’t a compromise, it’s a capitulation. Why, Senator? Why?

The September Hearings and Cheney’s Minority Report

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

The upcoming hearings with General Petraeus might turn out to be interesting in ways no one expected.

Reading recent news stories, one feels one is back in the 80’s, listening to Reagan-era lighter-than-air justifications for the funding of “Freedom Fighters” in Nicaragua.

In an interview on Aug. 18, General Petraeus said that with ill-equipped Iraqi security forces confronting soaring violence across the country in 2004 and 2005, he made a decision not to wait for formal tracking systems to be put in place before distributing the weapons.

“We made a decision to arm guys who wanted to fight for their country,” General Petraeus said.

If General Petraeus really wants to portray himself as a latter-day Oliver North, he may have justification.  The de-facto man at the top of the current chain-of-command, after all, was a champion of the Congressional minority report on the Iran/Contra hearings.  This minority report rather creatively interpreted the Iran/Contra hearings themselves as an example of Congressional over-reach.

Asked by a reporter in 2005 to explain his expansive views about presidential power, Mr. Cheney replied, “If you want reference to an obscure text, go look at the minority views that were filed with the Iran-contra committee.”

“Nobody has ever read them,” he said, but they “are very good in laying out a robust view of the president’s prerogatives with respect to the conduct of especially foreign policy and national security matters.”

The situation is vexing.

We seem to have a General who finds “we made a decision” to be all the justification needed for — quite possibly and willy-nilly — arming the very insurgents he is fighting.  The idea that there might be something, well, against the law about sending tax-payer funded weapons into a war zone and dumping them without supervision amongst the disputants, seems not to register.

The above Petraeus quote is from this article:

Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations

By JAMES GLANZ and ERIC SCHMITT

Published: August 28, 2007

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 – Several federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and American forces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted to the largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.

For President Bush, in this environment, to claim that adding fifty billion more dollars worth of assorted crap into the chaotic toilet of Iraq would amount to, somehow, “supporting the troops” is for President Bush to invite some pointed comparisons.

The comparisons General Petraeus is inviting, witting or no, between himself and Oliver North, give Democrats a frame with which to change the tone of the conversation.  Far from the supporting of troops and the fighting of terrorism, Democrats can use the September hearings to explore the extent to which Iraq is about the undermining of the rule of law and the mainstreaming of Cheney’s minority report.

September could be interesting.

Midnight Cowboying – How to Create a Modern Aristocracy and assorted bullshit

How to Create a Modern Aristocracy

Nothing sets the tone that we are a nation of people instead of a nation of law by having said people steal the election. Also, by having the highest court involved, you can demonstrate to the masses you also have another branch of the trinity of our democracy in your pocket. And for extra style points, appoint your strong man who stopped the democratic process in Florida to the United Nations as an ambassador.

Now have the puppet you installed never veto a single bill and you can demonstrate to the citizens that all three branches, even legislative, are now under the law of a few select people, who are now above them all.

Now that you made your point that you are now in control, it is time to do what aristocracies do, fleece the people. This is most cleverly done by presenting it as a gift, or cake, to the masses. In our case, let’s say ‘tax cuts’ instead of using ‘welfare checks for the rich’, which is what they actually are. In fact, you will need to go to the point of ‘looting’ as one Nobel laureate for economics called it. The people need to feel they have absolutely no recourse, either by the law or by economic power.

But least the people notice that the government of the aristocracy is stealing their and their children’s gold and sovereignty, the standard thing to do is distract them with a war. This tactic has worked like a champ for generations. Besides the obvious benefit of population control of the lower classes, least they overwhelm you one day with their sheer numbers, it will also allow to you to question the patriotism of the citizenry. This will add a level rhetoric protection in case part of the rabble says their protest validates their patriotism because the war violates the very tenants the country is founded on. This will polarize the population of your nation into two philosophical camps you can foil against one another. A people divided are easily ruled, and since you yourself created the war, you control the debate.

Since the purpose of the war is cover for the looting of the national treasury, you will need to use all three branches of our democracy to insure your aristocracy controls the message of the war and how it is presented to the people. Feel free to change your justification as your war evolves. You control the executive branch so no one can hold you accountable. The executive branch actually is the only recourse to having the law executed, which is folly for your opponents anyway since you have replaced the rule of law with the rule of an elite ruling class. It is a great catch 22 only a social revolution can absolve.

Sooner or later though, someone is going to catch on that the war is just a distraction, and for your aristocracy to take full root your rule needs to last at least two generations. This is why to make sure your war is either unwinnable or has goals so esoteric they can never be defined much less ever achieved. A combination of both is the ideal situation.

Now that you have set the national stage to make sure you are never accountable for your actions, and you have a system in place to make sure the election box is no longer a factor in continuing you rule, it is time to control the domestic policy to set up a modern aristocratic class system.

God save the King.

—————

Now, a love story….

Guardian Unlimited
http://www.guardian….

A tame female elephant has fled an Indian circus after eloping with a wild bull elephant that broke open a gate and led her off into the jungle, her distraught handler said today.

It broke into an enclosure and led Savitri into the jungle, with the pair being followed by three other female elephants in the same pen. Their trumpeting alerted circus workers, who led them back.

Savitri’s mind, however, seemed made up. According to one forestry official, she was last seen bathing with the bull in a jungle pond. When handlers called for Savitri to come to them, she looped her trunk around the bull’s leg and “he protectively shielded her like in a Bollywood blockbuster,” the official said.

———

Now, two videos I can’t stop watching:

———–

My Top 5 Favorite Things Today:

1) Lightning Bolt Hitting Plane Taking Off Osaka
http://gizmodo.com/g…

2) Why We Kiss
http://www.scienceda…

3) Robot with Omni-Directional Wheels That Don’t Turn.
http://www.youtube.c…

4) Ancient Squatters May Have Been the World’s First Suburbanites
http://www.sciam.com…

TELL BRAK:  The mound that marks an ancient city rises more than 130 feet from the Syrian plain-and reveals that what could be the world’s first city was shaped more by immigrants than kings.

5)  Monster spider web spun in Texas
http://www.cnn.com/2…

——–

Have a good Labour Day weekend y’all, I’ll leave you with this:

Why We Are Here

(Because I can

-Armando – promoted by Armando)

I think we are all here because we all believe sincerely that, no matter how much we disagree, and man do we ever disagree, everyone here respects the fact that we all are committed to positive, even progressive change for our country and world.

I believe that I have had a serious policy disagreement with everyone on the planet so it should comes as no surprise that I have had huge disagreements with every poster here and will no doubt have a hell of a lot more of them going forward.

So why am I here? Simple – having disagreed on issues, large and small, with Buhdy, OPOL, Turkana, EK, etc. – I have found that they and I could dust ourselves off and still have fun, respect each other, fight again, and then fight again. And then have some more fun, respect each other and so on.

When Buhdy told me about this site I wanted in. Hell, I insisted on being in. Why? Because it brings back what used to be a staple at daily kos – a community that could fight together, fight each other and play together.

I miss that as much as I miss anything in blogging. I could not get that at Daily Kos for a long time. I know I’ll get it here.

So we will discuss important ideas and issues, organize for important fights, fight important fights amongst each other, but also have fun together. Be a real blogging community. And I have a real confidence that Buhdy, the Zen Dictator, will keep it that way. So I’ll be around a lot. To discuss. To fight. To play. To bond. But mostly to regain that old feeling that I miss, the feeling of being a part of something special – a real political blogging community.

I can’t wait.

WAR!

Like it or not America, here it comes!

As announced in Grand Moff Texan‘s We Have Four Days, we’re going to war with Iran – and to hell with us if we don’t like it.

Cheney

What we, the American people, think does not matter.  There will be a ramping up of the propaganda storm, but it’s only for show.  In the end it doesn’t matter if we support it or not – this war is going to be shoved down our throats.

To make up for their miserable failure in Iraq the geniuses driving the Bush administration’s foreign policy (if it can be called that) are going to launch a military strike against Iran.  Nobody wants this war except for a few sick bastards.  Unfortunately for the entire world those few sick bastards are the very same sick bastards that our Democratic ‘leadership’ has refused to impeach. 

It’s not like we didn’t warn them.  How many essays have there been posted throughout the blogosphere begging them to impeach the criminal scum in the Whitehouse before they could do something this insane?  How many of us have begged, pleaded, or demanded that the Democratic ‘leadership’ stand up for America and do the right thing?  I have typed my fingers to the bone writing such essays myself – and I am far from being the only one.  There have been hundreds maybe even thousands of essays beseeching the Democratic ‘leadership’ to give us sanity, reason and justice.  They never heard us, and now the whole world will pay.

Our ‘leadership’ sucks!  There is no way to excuse their pathetic inaction against a 20% president who has flaunted his lawlessness and his insanity.  There is just no getting around the fact that ‘our side’ has colluded with and enabled the sinister bastards who have taken hostile control of our nation.  When Mike Stark told us they weren’t our friends, he wasn’t just jivin’.  They have sold us all down the river…and all the best of them want to do about it is pass a non-binding resolution or maybe issue a stinging declaration of sincere disapproval.  I don’t know about you but I know when I’ve been stabbed in the back.

I strenuously objected to the bogus invasion of Iraq.

I also objected to the occupation of Iraq and object to this day to the continued immoral, illegal and insane occupation of that poor country.

I objected to the surge.

I objected to son of surge.

I objected to the escalation of the surge and son of surge.

I objected to the escalation of the escalation.

And I was not and am not alone.  The American people have resisted and objected and screamed bloody murder, but none of that matters.  Evil men are running our country and Democrats are helping them.  They have betrayed us all.

They are determined to do this and they will do this but don’t let them do it in silence.  Scream bloody murder for all you’re worth!  Let’s let the whole world know how much we hate what they’re doing in our names!

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

~ Edmund Burke

ITMFA

“I have a wide stance…”

( – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Tom Delay.

That’s the only Thug Tweety can get to defend Craig.

MSNBC has been running wall to wall with the audio tape playing it over and over again in full.  Their story goes something like this-

Audio of Craig arrest reveals new details
Spokesman denies three-term Idaho lawmaker preparing to quit
NBC News and news services
Updated: 35 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Sen. Larry Craig denied soliciting an undercover police officer shortly after being arrested in a bathroom at a Minneapolis airport, an audio recording of the arrest revealed.

Craig said on the June 11 recording, released Thursday by the Minneapolis Police Department, that he may have touched Investigative Sgt. Dave Karsnia’s foot with his foot while they were in bathroom stalls.

“You said our feet bumped. I believe they did,” Craig said, adding that he was scooting over. “The next thing I knew, under the bathroom divider comes a card that says ‘Police.'”

If you want to listen, click the video link, they also have a copy of last night’s Olbermann ‘Dragnet’ Re-enactment.

Big day for schadenfreud.

Four at Four

Four at Four is an afternoon briefing of four, yes only four, news items that are important. Please look for it Monday-Friday at around 4 p.m. Eastern.

  1. The Los Angeles Times has a good story today on Jon Soltz, Iraq war veteran and founder of votevets.org. The portrait of Soltz is Soldier answers a new call to battle:

    But in a little more than a year since he launched VoteVets. org, Soltz has helped transform the war debate in Washington by channeling the raw anger and frustration of many Iraq vets into a political campaign both sophisticated and visceral. Soltz, 30, and his band of mostly twenty- and thirtysomething veterans have shaken the GOP’s claim to be the pro-military party. They accuse Republicans of recklessly sending troops to war without the right equipment and failing to care for thousands of wounded and traumatized vets…

    “Jon Soltz seems to be exactly what progressives need,” said Paul Begala, an influential Democratic strategist who worked on Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.’s successful 2006 campaign against Santorum. “He has a pair of fists, and he knows how to use them.”

    …Soltz said the organization would remain on the offense throughout the 2008 campaign. “Everything else VoteVets has done has been warm-up,” he said. “We’re going to play in the big leagues.

  2. According to The Hill, the AFL-CIO is “unlikely to throw its support behind a candidate during the primary season. Under current rules, a candidate would need the support of two-thirds of the union’s membership, making it difficult to see how an endorsement could be offered anytime soon”.

  3. Alberto Gonzales will soon be out of a job, but his words will live on in infamy. According to the Washington Post, the soon to be Gonzales-free Justice Department is Investigating Gonzales’s Testimony:

    The Justice Department is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress on a broad range of issues, including the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program and the removal of nine U.S. attorneys last year, the lead investigator said today.

    The disclosure by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine shows that internal investigations that began with the prosecutor firings have widened substantially to include a focus on Gonzales’s actions and statements.

    Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) is looking forward to the findings.

  4. The Sahara isn’t the only desert that is slowly creeping and expanding. In China, the Badain Jaran desert is expanding. From The Independent, Great Wall could be lost to sands of the desert: “Sandstorms in northern China are reducing large sections of the Great Wall to rubble. Archaeologists say whole chunks of one of the seven wonders of the world could be gone in 20 years”. The CS Monitor had a story about China’s desertification problem recently too. China loses about 950 sq miles to desertification each year.

So, what else is happening?

John! Barack! Hillary! Dennis! Bill! Joe! Chris! et al!

so you wanna be president, huh? and you tell me you’re gonna make it all better…

then tell me: when will you SHOW UP where we really really need to see you?

take the jump:::::::::::::::::::::>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

————————
cross-posted at dKos

I’m a life-long Democrat. Been a county delegate, a local candidate, an ardent campaigner.

But, I’ve got to tell you all this: YOU.. and Congressional Dems, are losing me… losing my confidence, losing my heart… and you risk losing my vote.

I’m NOT going to renounce being a Democrat. I’m demanding that all of you… the mess of you.. start acting like Democrats.

A CALL TO ACTION: Candidates, put some edge, some risk-taking, some larger meaning, into your campaigns. Take control of the issues facing our country, and show up where it counts.

SHOW UP in Washington, DC on September 15 to STAND UP with the rest of us on the Road2DC SPEAKING OUT in protest of the Iraq War.

SHOW UP on the steps of the Capitol Building when Congress opens its session. STAND UP to inertia and SPEAK OUT and demand that your colleagues in Congress stop Bush, make sure Iran doesn’t happen, deauthorize FISA, restore the Constitution, and deFUND the Iraq war.

SHOW UP at the White House and STAND UP to Bush. SPEAK OUT to protest George W. Bush’s complete and utter lack of regard for our country, our values, our Constitution, our privacy and freedoms, and the military, which he has devastated. It’s time to stand and be seen in a place that leaves NO question about your willingnes to engage George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and the entire GOP machine just waiting to grind you up. For your hair cut, for your military service, for your name, for your sex.

*
A CALL TO ACTION: Congressonal Democrats, it’s time to start acting on the mandate you’ve been given. You know, that’s what November 2006 was, btw. And the polls after? That’s was a mandate too. And the low approval rating of Congress? Yup, yet another mandate and it goes something like this:

STOP THE RUNAWAY TRAIN that has become our government. Take back control. DO IT.

STOP talking about about stopping George W. Bush.  DO IT.

STOP talking about defunding. DO IT.

STOP writing letters to Karl and Harriet about showing up to testify. Find a way to make them DO IT.

STOP talking about the tragedy of New Orleans and the malfeasence of the Bush Administration’s handling of it. LEGISLATE FUNDING (and, for the love of god, oversee the rebuilding) to restore one of America’s most important heritage and cultural cities. DO IT.

STOP talking about how horrible the sub prime fiasco is. HELP people so they don’t LOSE their homes. And, as a bonus, just this one time, let the risk-taking predatory lenders absorb the bulk of the burden of this mess. DO IT.

STOP being afraid to take the platform we’ve given you and USE IT…cause there are zillions of other things we need you to do. DO IT.

*
In short, we need to get those in our government BACK to the business of governing… not abdicating it to a president who has only one focus: giving more power to a small minority whose profit-driven depravity has just about bankrupted our country, our people, and the environment. The middle class belongs on the endangered species list.

We need the Democratic candidates to show up in the offices of all of their colleagues, both Democrat and Republican legislators, and bring the message in this mandate: AMERICANS WANT THEIR COUNTRY BACK.

————————
ps…would it have any impact if a bunch of “hey (your) candidate, it’s me, your screen name” diaries started showing up in the recent diary list or as comments in open threads? all asking for the candidates to SHOW UP…  where you think we need them and why

Open Thread

First!

on the beach


(right, Mona Khalil and friend)

Throughout their 150 million years on earth, life has never been easy for individual sea turtles. Perhaps one in every couple thousand survived to breeding age. There have always been the hazards of predators, disease, and unlucky weather – the drivers of evolution, the producers, if you will, of the species we see now.

Recently the odds have gotten considerably worse. Abrupt, radical change in the environment has overwhelmed even the miraculous adaptive potential latent in the genome.

  Worldwide, sea turtle populations are crashing thanks to drift nets, (illegal) intentional as well as accidental long line fishing, the loss of sea grass beds to pollution and other anthropegenic factors, loss of suitable nesting habitat to beachfront development, and simple overexploitation as a food resource.

Global warming threatens to exacerbate the problems of disappearing habitat and food, and may deliver a killing blow directly. Sea turtles’ gender is not fixed genetically but determined by the temperature of the eggs.Their reproductive cycle is also extemely vulnerable to rising temperatures.

Everyone has to live somewhere. But the turtle populations driven by thousands of years of instinct to nest on the southern coast of Lebanon would seem to have drawn an awfully unlucky hand.

They actually fared pretty well under Israeli occupation. Night patrols kept the beaches empty during turtle prime time.Hezbollah on hand to help baby sea turtles

War disturbs turtles in unlikely Lebanese refuge

Population status and conservation of marine turtles at El-Mansouri, Lebanon 14-page pdf

Lebanese woman fights to save endangered

MEDASSET the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtle

Lebanon war still impacting sea turtles

In troubled Lebanon, a safety zone for sea turtles

Hazards old

and new

global warming
temperature change sex ratio
loss of sea beds
long line
drift nets

foxes, themselves internally displaced residents of Lebanon, driven out of the hills by last year’s bombing raids.
stray rockets
even a misplaced soccer field

to stir shit title it Hezbollah the protector or some such

Climate turns up heat

Besides her regular duties of patrolling the beach, moving nests from unsafe areas and protecting them with wires shields, Mona Khalil has in her time taken on UN peacekeepers and made them change both their littering habits and the Fijian contingent’s practice of buying turtles on the black market for dinner. She has run off Hezbollah guerillas using her beach as a base during the war, and repaired the damage to her home by Israeli rockets.

The beach itelf is now partitioned between armed factions. Hezbollah, which controls half, has declared the turtles, and one hopes Ms. Khalil as well, under its protection.

For this, and for nothing else, I salute Hezbollah.

Picking up the check at Democracy Cafe

The rummy stumbled out of the cafe, no one cared enough to call him a cab. Left at the table was an oddball pair, looking at the havoc their dinner party had wrecked before them. It had been quite a party, but now the waiter was coming with the bill, and there was awkward silence.

Decadence and disregard for the price of the meals and drinks and debauchery had been immense, and the check had quite a few zeros on it. Long gone were the guests who ran up this outrageous total, leaving the last two to settle and square away the bill at Democracy’s Cafe.

So it is true in reality, as it is in the cafe. A new Democratic Congress and a lame duck President share this table long sat at by corporate fat cats, lobbyists, corrupt congressmen, their hangers-on, entourages and various other party goers who had partied like rock stars in the early 2000s. Now the check is due.

Sadly, the last sweet kiss good-bye to the Republicans is that the bill did not come due during their watch, which is why they are taking being expelled from the restaurant with little to no fanfare. They knew this was coming, and like a dinner guest with no change left in their pocket, they went to the bathroom and never came back. They didn’t even leave a 20 spot to even pretend like they wanted to settle accounts, because they knew they did not need too.

So, the lame duck and sacrificial lambs, who were happy just to get to the table even if the party was obviously winding down, now face a tab of outrageous proportions. The housing market has cooled, the trade debt is outlandish, and somehow some of the party goers had gotten a second tab open, a second duel deficit, that too was suddenly these to poor soul’s responsibility. And not even figured into the total is the price to cover the fight that broke out early on, and all that was broken during its fray.

And while they sit there, just now fully understanding their miserable fate while the hooligans of the Gatsby party variety have gone home to sleep it off and wait for these two to take the fall. Because they know the responsibility and debacle of the check will be pinned on those left at the table, freeing them up to return in 2008 to go hog wild again, hands washed and cleaned of their previous indiscretions.

So be wary if you find yourself at the table when the check comes at Democracy’s Cafe. Those who ran up the tab are long gone, but owners of the restaurant, the American people, will not remember that because they do not remember what happened last week. And in 2007, when the economy shitbags because the checks are due, it is not the Republican decadence the people will remember, it will be the Democrats shaking them down to pay for the bill that they will.

And the President will just sit there, wondering exactly how much he can sneak away in a doggy bag.

———–

No top 5 tonight, because right now I am on roof top patio somewhere in Brooklyn  entertaining beautiful girls whose port of calls are listed from around the world.

Seeing in the future publish works. Let’s hope I got the time right in US/Pacific, my ability to operate clocks and calendars is legendary.

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