Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve 2003 Flashback

Wanted to find a new picture of Howard Dean, or a link to a video, or *something* Howardly to post, but came up blank. So we'll have to settle for a New Year's Eve flashback from December 31, 2003. (That was the same December when Howard said the capture of Saddam Hussein hadn't made us safer, remember?"

Via the Blog for America archives...

Flat Howard united the feuding wings of the office -- he made peace between Joe Rospars and Clay Johnson, on behalf of the South and North sides of HQ, respectively, who agreed that we can only take out country back if we all come together.
Bittersweet, I know. What could have been. But I'm thankful that Howard brought us all together, and thankful that he's still working to take this country back and restore our honor in the international community.

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A prayer for the new year

Holy Mother...Loving Father...
Source of All That Is...
Oh--You know who You are!

That daughter You gave me said a funny thing yesterday:
"It seems like God has gotten shy over the years"
(Meaning You don't talk to people like in the "old days")

I said I wasn't sure that was true--
that sometimes it just doesn't get written down
Sometimes people aren't sure it's really You
(Or are afraid to believe that it is)

And I told her of the time I heard from you
(or one of Your "people")
"Help heal the world" were the words I heard
while lying in bed early that morning
And then You held me close

Maybe I imagined that, but it didn't matter
The words felt real enough, and the need for healing was real,
so I promised that I would
Later I learned about tikkun olam,
the Hebrew phase which translates to "repairing the world"

That confirmed the notion that the call to help heal the world was true and real

It's also impossible

There can never be enough glue, tape, bandages, needles and thread, hammers and nails, hope, patience, and love, to get the job done

I suppose that's why the baptismal vows say, "I will, with God's help"

So as we begin a new year, I ask again for Your help
Help me to find the strength, energy, and love to keep working
to mend that which is broken,
both in myself and in the world You entrusted to our care.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's Wishes

What are your hopes for 2007? Anyone have any special plans for ringing in the new year?

One year our family did a ritual where we lit a candle, and said what in the ending year we were thankful for, and then what our hopes were for the new year. Maybe we should do that here. Who would like to go first?

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P.S. Click here for Oscar's 'toons.

Remembering who enabled Saddam Hussein

I was wondering if I could find some appropriate words to post about the execution of Saddam Hussein. I'm conflicted--of course he was a bad man, but so much about the way all of this went down is just wrong. Just for starters, in a diary entitled Why Saddam Must Die Before Sunrise, FishOutOfWater noted

The Bush Administration wants Saddam dead before the Kurdish war crimes trial begins.
With Saddam dead, the complicity of Bush Senior with Saddam's regime can be covered up.
I'll leave you tonight with this excerpt from Show this picture everywhere, by wiscmass

Saddam was executed for murdering 148 Shiite men, women, and children from a town where someone tried to assassinate him about 25 years ago. But let's not forget that Saddam was able to maintain his power for so long with a lot of help from a few specific people. Accordingly, I want to see this picture everywhere for the next several days:

Read the rest here. Saddam Hussein was, of course, a very bad man. But we're not exactly the guys wearing the white hats in this story either.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

New post by Riverbend

There is a new post at Baghdad Burning for the first time since November 5.

End of another year

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school- it's just not safe.

Why make things worse by insisting on Saddam's execution now? Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.
Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?
Click here for the rest.

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I strongly recommend reading Christy Hardin Smith's post Bringing Poverty to the Table. Yes, as I suspected, the post was prompted by Edwards' announcement yesterday. But even if you support a different candidate, please read. As Christy noted at the end of the piece:

That it has taken a Presidential candidate standing up and talking about this issue to get it back on the front pages of newspapers — at least for the day yesterday — is unconscionable. But at least people are talking about it again, and for that I applaud John Edwards for sticking to a topic that all of us need to be talking about much more frequently.
I don't have a candidate to support yet, as Gore still seems unwilling to run, Feingold has said he won't, and Howard Dean is a man of his word, who promised not to run if elected chair of the DNC. But poverty is one of those uncomfortable, dauntingly big and complex issues that tends to get swept under the rug by the majority. Maybe it's a bit like global warming in that respect. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were graphic examples of the urgency of both issues--we can't afford to ignore either. So I will join Christy in applauding Edwards getting poverty back into the headlines, even for one day. But I hope it will be for longer than that. Hopefully other candidates and officeholders will join him.

And I don't say this as a supporter of any political candidate. I say it as a human being. I also say it as an Episcopalian who is proud of my new Presiding Bishop who insists on keeping the focus on this issue, in spite of the efforts of others to shift the attention back to issues of human sexuality. From an interview in June of 2006:

Bishop JEFFERTS SCHORI: We need to be examining the poverty that is real around the world. We need to be examining the fact that our brothers and sisters, Anglican and not, in places like Africa and Asia don't have enough to eat. Their children don't have the opportunity to go to school. AIDS and tuberculosis and malaria are rampant in many parts of this world and people with those diseases don't have access to adequate health care. That's where our focus needs to be.

And, from a description of Katharine Jefferts Schori's book, scheduled to be released in January...
Grounding her reflections in a theology of the reign of God—‘God’s dream for creation’—she dares to ‘dream big’ herself, casting a vision of a world without poverty and hunger, where we all recognize our interdependence with every other child of God.
Jefferts Schori's book can be preordered here.

And I have heard those words echoed by Bishop Gene Robinson, and by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and by many other people I respect and admire. I hope that more and more people will talk about it--especially people who have an audience. And when people try to distract us with something shiny, I hope that we will redirect, and bring the discussion back to issues of vital importance for our human family.

(Also posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing and Street Prophets)

Update: I just discovered that Part II of Christy's discussion of poverty is now posted at FDL.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Teeth Wanted!

Thought those of you with children or grandchildren may want to send an email about this to the toothfairy...

The Radiation and Public Health Project is working to show the links between nuclear power & weapons and radioactive strontium-90 in the human body. They need baby teeth from all over the country/world in order to show the difference between areas around nuclear reactors and those not near them. The website gives you directions on how to participate.

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Why we're here

I wasn't going to try to do a post today, as we need to get ourselves on the road and head back to Columbus from Chicago, in time to pick up our dog that's at the sitter. But I felt that, since people are starting to declare candidate preferences, it was worth a few minutes of my time to say something about who we are and why we're here. It was this guy who "brought us to the party"...some of us for the first time.

Maybe this isn't necessary, but I'm still kind of smarting from Oscar's departure. Yes, it was his choice. But one of the special things about Howard Dean was that, stereotypes aside, he attracted a diverse group of supporters. And for me, both in politics and in the rest of life, learning to live together in community with people who are different is a big part of the curriculum.

I don't know what will happen to this blog as the next presidential election approaches. I know that I *don't* want to be the boss of it, so I relinquish any notion I am steering this thing. But for a long time, most of the posts were by me. Such that, when I looked at the blog this morning and saw the words "Why I'm supporting Edwards", for a moment I had to ask myself, "When did I write *that* title? That's not what I *thought* I wrote!"

It shouldn't be necessary, but I'm toying with the idear of adding a disclaimer somewhere that opinions expressed in posts at Howard-Empowered People belong to the individual posters, and in no way represent the group as a whole. Because, in my mind's eye, I'm imagining that someone is going to ask "Is this the Edwards blog now?" No, it's not. People are welcome to write their own posts about who they support or don't support. I only hope that we will find a way to continue as a community, held together by those values that first brought us together, and deal respectfully with our differences.

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Why I'm supporting Edwards

In 2003 and 2004, many of us where changed by our experiences with Gov. Dean’s campaign for president. He told us that we have the power, and we believed it. We took up the power and we started changing our country. People set up DeanCorp and went out and tried to make our country better. He told us, “The biggest lie that people like me tell people like you is that if you vote for me, I solve all you problems. The truth is that you have the power.”

Well, who is going to inspire people to take action to build a better country this time around? I am watching Sen. Edwards on C-Span announcing his candidacy. He is talking about people getting involved, signing up for OneCorp (Sound a little like DeanCorp?) He is telling us that the same sort of message about us needing to take up our power.

I know that it is early. A lot of you probably haven’t made up your minds yet. Some of you might have ill feelings from one comment or another from the 2004 cycle, but I would ask that you all listen seriously to what Sen. Edwards has to say and think about how you can get involved.

Full disclosure: I’ve been in talks for some time about working as a staffer for Edwards’ campaign. You can see some of my thinking from this blog post.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Edwards announces a day early

Via Yahoo News

The North Carolina Democrat's campaign accidentally went live with his election Web site a day before an announcement Thursday that was scheduled to use Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as a backdrop.

The slip-up gave an unintended double-meaning to his campaign slogan on the John Edwards '08 Web site: "Tomorrow begins today."
There's been some discussion of Edwards as a candidate in the comments on this blog. I am probably more uncommitted than many. Yes, I know he voted for the war. Yes, I know he took advantage of the lame Confederate flags on pickup trucks kerfuffle and used it to scold Howard Dean.

So, on the one hand, I see bloggers out there falling all over themselves praising him (not at this blog), and I'm certainly more skeptical than *that*. But on the other hand, I can't accept the notion that anyone who has ever taken a position with which I disagree, or ever dissed Howard, is therefore not redeemable, ever.

And, really, truly, I do not have an agenda with this post. And I *do* feel like I'm just not ready for the '08 campaign season to begin in earnest. But I'd like to toss a few questions out there.

I'm wondering what you all want/need from a candidate. What issues are crucial, in your minds? How would a candidate indicate that s/he takes the grassroots seriously and will be willing to work with us?

We do a lot of "ruling out"--and I've certainly done that myself, with Hillary, Biden, etc. Or we sometimes say who seems okay--or at least seems to suck less than other potential candidates. And certainly most people at this blog would be happiest if Howard Dean would be the nominee. But I'm wondering if it's possible to step back for just a moment from naming names and talk more generally about what we want in or from a candidate.

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Open Thread


Here is a quote from OPEN MIND by Diane Mariechild ~

Social change must start in our hearts: peace and prayer open our hearts. People who practice spiritual disciplines have the most enduring impact on life because the inward work we do makes us more effective in any situation. We are most effective when we can return good will for ill will and show kindness to those who would harm us; when we look for a common solution without anger or a desire to retaliation; and act on principles of care and concern without a need for reciprocation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This quote made me think of our many conversations here and how we help each other keep on despite frustrations. I suppose, in that regard, blogging here is a spiritual practice. Thanks, Renee. ♥ Thanks to all! XOXOXXX ~ listener

You're quite welcome, listener. Just adding a quick note that, since so many are in need of prayers and light, I wanted to add a candle to this thread. Since it's Kwanzaa time, I figured I'd use these candles. And here's the link to the HEP candle page.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The "peace on earth" part of Christmas

From the blog An Inch at a Time: Reflections on the Journey, part of a sermon given by Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena, California.

It is a longing that transcends culture, religion, language and custom -- a longing that is represented tonight for us as Christians in the baby in the manger -- the sudden, amazing and incomprehensible gift of grace: a God who loved us enough to become one of us. Yes, we manifest the wonder of Christmas in the gifts given, the meals shared, the gathering of family and loved ones. But the greater wonder is that the God who is love incarnate came down at Christmas to be among us as one of us. Came to show us how to share that love with a world in desperate need of it – to a world yearning for the “peace on earth, good will among all people” the angels proclaimed.

The “peace on earth” part of Christmas is arguably the crescendo of the Christmas story but twenty five years ago tonight my attention was on another part … on the “and she brought forth her first born son” part. What must it have been like, I wondered, for a teenaged mother to bring forth her first-born child and cradle him in a manger rather than a bassinet in an occupied territory under martial law with the words of the angel who announced his coming still echoing in her head? It was the year I heard the Christmas story quite specifically through the lens of my own experience; the particularity my impending motherhood. On Christmas Eve 1981 I was not only pregnant for the first time, I was waaaaaay past “great with child.” Actually, I’d hit “great with child” back about October, reached “enormous with child” sometime in November and by “O Holy Night” was pretty much “immobilized with child.”

Although Jamie came into the world a week later – on New Year’s Eve -- on that particular Christmas Eve for me it was all about the baby. And in what seems like the blink of an eye here it is 25 years later -- and this Christmas Eve my New Year’s Eve baby is a helicopter crew chief serving on active duty in Iraq -- so “peace on earth, good will among all people” – the crescendo of the Christmas story – is very much the focus of both the prayers in my heart and the music in my head this Christmas Eve.
Click here for the rest.

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Happy Boxing Day and first day of Kwanzaa

And today is also the "second day of Christmas" right? The one with the "two turtle doves"?

Here's a required part of Christmas when celebrated with my Mom's family:

One of the most beautiful and most revered Polish customs is the breaking of the oplatek. The use of the Christmas wafer (oplatek) is not only by native Poles in Poland but also by people of Polish ancestry all over the world.

The oplatek is a thin wafer made of flour and water. For table use, it is white. In Poland, colored wafers are used to make Christmas tree decorations. In the past, the wafers were baked by organists or by religious and were distributed from house to house in the parish during Advent. Today, they are produced commercially and are sold in religious stores and houses. Sometimes an oplatek is sent in a greeting card to loved ones away from home.

Family members extend oplatki (plural--oplatek is the singular) to one another, and break pieces off, offering good wishes and blessings for the coming year.

Every year we know that Oplatki Time is coming. It's awkward--like knowing you will be required to give a mini-speech to people you haven't seen since last year. Every year someone jokes about not doing it, or tries to barter it down to just holding up the wafers and making one big communal Christmas wish/blessing. But we always do the thing. It's tradition, dang it.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Heifer in my Mom's honor. She was really surprised, and quite touched. Will share more later, but now it's family time. Thank *you* all for being here--you're family too!

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas all you wonderful Howard-empowered people!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blessed Christmas

The picture is from listener

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Christmas Eve

(A poem for Christmas Eve)

Out of the depth and quiet
of this chill, stark night,
a gnawing ache, a yearning
deepens, rising
like a threatening wave.

The young woman trembles.
Every inmost part of her is
shaken, all comfort broken.
Her hand gropes for something firm to grasp,
but all that was certain has become
obscure, all encompassing,
racked with pain.
Scarcely able to catch her breath,
~ each wave is larger, more
frightening than the last ~
as the great wave breaks over her,
she is broken,
momentarily forgetting what she accepted,
what love she bears,
yet choosing steadfastness when all seems lost.

Suddenly and completely
she, still bathed in sweat,
enfolds love in her arms,
knows joy as one victorious,
sees clearly as one who has been
stretched and changed,
that peace is always
born of travail.

~ listener

You did it my dear friends! You carried that great Hope through a mighty long process until the time was right.
You laboured greatly and with much Travail. And oh what Joy, what Peace you have brought into being!
Alleluia! ♥ Alleluia! ♥

Thinking of you tonight, especially, Kimmy Cash
with prayerful hopes of a gentle labour and smooth delivery
and great joy at the last. ♥

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday silliness

Just some fun links (more de-stressing). Some from the comments last night, but I'm making this quick, so please excuse the lack of a "hat tip" to the appropriate person.

Jingle cats
Snow Globe
Elf Yourself
Season's Sculpting
Make-a-Flake Snowflake Maker
North Pole Dancing
My Holiday Sweater

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The work of Christmas

The image above is a woodcut by Margaret Adams Parker entitled Madonna, Angola.

I found the following poem on the blog, An Inch at a Time, and shamelessly lifted it, along with Susan's reflection on the poem, as our Advent candle reading tonight.

When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To teach the nations
To bring Christ to all
To make music in the heart.
— Howard Thurman

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Countering Anti-Muslim bigotry

Note: I started this post at the beginning of the month and then got very busy with Christmas preparations and various events for the kids. But today, after more recent developments, such as Virginia Represenative Virgil Goode's letter about the importance of tightening immigration restrictions to avoid an "influx of Muslims", I decided I'd better post it.

What I wrote earlier this month...

From Yahoo News: In U.S., fear and distrust of Muslims runs deep

When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly.

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."

At the end of the one-hour show, rich with arguments on why visual identification of "the threat in our midst" would alleviate the public's fears, Klein revealed that he had staged a hoax. It drew out reactions that are not uncommon in post-9/11 America.
A video of news segment about this story can be seen at Crooks and Liars.

Here is a link to some columns by Dr. Asma Mobin Uddin, a Columbus area pediatrician and member of the Muslim faith. She makes public appearances (one at my church a couple years ago) to help people learn more about the misunderstood and sometimes mistrusted faith to which she belongs, has written columns for the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch, and has written a children's book, My Name is Bilal...
Bilal worries about being teased by his classmates for being Muslim. He thinks maybe it would be better if people don't know he is Muslim. Maybe it would be best if he tells kids his name is Bill rather than Bilal. Then maybe they would leave him alone. Mr. Ali, one of Bilal's teachers and also Muslim, sees how the boy is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book forms the compelling story of a young boy wrestling with his identity.
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Happy Winter Solstice

I don't plan to be around much today, but I imagine a lot of other people are busy too. Feel free to use this as an open thread, but if anyone has anything to share about Winter Solstice and how you celebrate it, that would be most welcome.

The unrelenting rain here doesn't convey a very Winter Solstice-y mood to me--or maybe it does. It certainly has me "longing for the light".

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

December 23 is HumanLight

In Western societies, late December is a season of good cheer and a time for gatherings of friends and families. During the winter holiday season, where the word "holiday" has taken on a more secular meaning, many events are observed. This tradition of celebrations, however, is grounded in supernatural religious beliefs that many people in modern society cannot accept. HumanLight presents an alternative reason to celebrate: a Humanist's vision of a good future. It is a future in which all people can identify with each other, behave with the highest moral standards, and work together toward a happy, just and peaceful world.

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What part of "all" don't these people understand?

Some disheartening stories I've seen recently...

Congressman Fears Influx of Muslims
Right Wing Questions Obama's Loyalty

I know I've posted these words from Bishop Desmond Tutu before, but apparently it's a lesson that needs repeating before it really sinks in.

And, God says, God says, "Yes, I do have a dream. Like, Martin Luther King, Jr." God says, "I, too, have a dream. I dream that my children one day will discover that they are family."

Now, that, actually, is not sentimental. It's one of the most radical things that Jesus ever uttered: "They are family." Family, you don't choose your relatives. Sometimes you wish you could. Family: a gift from God to you. And you: a gift to them from God.

And, in this family, there are no outsiders. Just all, all… all belong. It's an incredibly radical thing. All, all, all. You see, when Jesus spoke about… "If I be lifted up, I will draw…" he didn't say I will draw some. He didn't say I will draw some. He said, "I will draw all, all into this incredible divine embrace of love." All. Beautiful, not so beautiful. Tall; stumpy, like me. … Rich, poor, white, black, red. All, all, all, all. All belong. All. All. Gay, lesbian, so-called straight, all. [Laughter and applause.] All, all. All. All. [Applause.] All. All. All. All. All. Sharon, Arafat, all. Roman Catholic, Protestant in Northern Ireland. All. All. All. Bush, bin Laden. All. It's quite serious because, you see, God has no enemies.

By the way, one way to help those family members who are living in hunger and poverty, is through a donation to Heifer International. I've set up a page, with a modest goal of $250, here.

Update: I've created a new candle page

Light a candle for the intentions of the HEP community

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cafe Press outage was Denial of Service attack

Just found this posted at Cafe Press:

Hi Shopkeepers,

The CafePress site was down for several hours yesterday evening due to a DoS attack. Our team was on top of it immediately and was able to make the system available as soon as possible. Service was restored at approximately 11:30PM PST and was running smoothly until approximately 8:30 AM this morning. The team is on it, knows the drill and service will be restored as soon as possible.

A DoS attack is a denial-of service attack, an attempt by someone to make our site unavailable to our users. A DoS attack is a computer crime and violates Internet proper use policy as dictated by the Internet Architecture Board.

Needless to say we are appalled that this has occurred because of what it does to our community. We hope that you understand that for your protection we are limited to what we are able to discuss regarding this as it is a security matter.
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Open Thread, holiday cuteness edition

Via Cute Overload.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A circle where we all belong

As I mentioned in the comments, yesterday was the day Daughter in Ohio sang with the choir at her school's Winter Festival. I suppose there are people who would be disgusted that they couldn't just call it a "Christmas concert" and be done with it. "We *used* to call them Christmas concerts, and sing Christmas carols, and act out the nativity story, and it was fine. Heck, there were even a few Jewish kids at the school, but they never complained about our Christmas celebrations. It just wasn't a big deal!"

There is, of course, a big difference between "nobody complained" and "everyone was fine with it". I was thinking about this the other day when a group leader was talking about an "executive decision" he'd made a few weeks earlier to postpone a discussion topic someone brought up. He said, "I really wasn't supposed to do that...but nobody complained!" I was thinking, "No, but we weren't especially happy about it," but I still didn't say anything. You see how that works? Lack of a voiced objection is *not* the same as everyone being happy with things. And I suspect that, back in the days where celebrating Christian holidays were celebrated in public schools, people weren't all "fine with it". But sometimes it's easier not to say anything--especially if you're aware that you're in the minority.

Back to Daughter's choir concert. There were songs for several different holidays, representing different musical styles, and parts of songs were in different languages. A (presumably Muslim) girl seated directly in front of me was wearing a head covering. There were kids in the choir who had two proud moms in the audience. All of these things, taken together, would probably make Bill O'Reilly's head explode.

But I thought, this is the way it *should* be. All traditions should be celebrated. Everyone should be included.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

All of this makes me think of a song by Raffi, which was inspired by the Earth Charter. It is one of the songs on his CD, Resisto Dancing: Songs of the Compassionate Revolution

In this world of wonder
circle where we all belong
Voice of a thousand tribes
circle where we all belong … where we all belong
Pulse of the human heart
circle where we all belong … where we all belong
Circle where we all are free
circle where we all belong … where we all belong.

Every creature land and sea, every flower every tree
makes a circle, where we all belong.
Every bird every cloud, every raindrop that falls
makes a circle, where we all belong.
Every turn of the tide, every ocean wave
makes a circle, where we all belong.
Every breeze that blows, every grain of sand
makes a circle in the sun, where we all belong.

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Remaining peaceful at our center

When the world around you becomes more chaotic, how do you remain calm and peaceful at your center?

The image seen above is entitled Mother and Child Hands.

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Art, worship, and action

The image you see above is entitled "O War-Torn Town of Bethlehem", and it can be found at the Episcopal Church and Visual Arts Exhibition online. Click here for the entry page of the "Unto us a Child is Born" section. As I was paging through the gallery, I had a hard time deciding which picture I wanted to post. Different images can "speak" to different people. But I think art can touch us on a level that words can't.

And music can certainly be powerful, inspiring, and motivating. Long story short, I found myself irritated with The Daily Show's segment on the U2Charist. Yes, I get that it's a funny name. But having attended such a service this past summer, I know that these services are designed to help get people feeling inspired and empowered about going forth and helping to right some of the wrongs in the world. At the service I attended, there was a lot of emphasis on the Millennium Development Goals. That's something I take very seriously, and getting more people to care about things like "eradicating extreme poverty and hunger" is a *very* good thing. So I was a tad annoyed when the segment *only* portrayed it as something silly and laughable.

Anyway, I realize the job of the folks at the Daily Show is to make people laugh. But now I feel like it's *my* job to make sure people know what the U2Charist is really about.

Here's a page on the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation web site that tells a bit about how the U2Charist might be used...

A U2charist is an Episcopal Eucharist service that features the music of the rock band U2 and a message about God's call to rally around the Millennium Development Goals. The U2charist is a great opportunity to reach out to the people in your congregation and larger community, especially young people. This service the music and message of U2 about global reconciliation, justice for the poor and oppressed, and the importance of caring for your neighbor. Led by the global MDG ambassador, Bono, U2 is calling people worldwide to a deeper faith and engagement with God's mission. The U2charist seeks to be an extension of this ministry.

Who knows...maybe Jon can make up for this by having Bono, or, better yet, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, on the program to talk about the Millennium Development Goals. (Why not--he had Bishop Desmond Tutu on the program!)

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Monday, December 18, 2006

I think something in my brain just popped

I just saw this excerpt from a Washington Times article over at Street Prophets:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told an audience in New Hampshire Muslim clerics pulled off a plane for praying should have been charged criminally.

Gingrich made the remark Friday night, as he delivered the keynote speech at the Manchester Republican City Committee Christmas dinner, the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader reported.

"Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists," Gingrich said. "And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens."
So, because the crew pulled them off the plan in error, because they thought the imans were terrorists, the only *logical* explanation must be that they were "pretending to be terrorists". *That's* how they made that mistake. Those devious, sneaky imams. Praying like that! Any *reasonable* person seeing several men praying together would just *naturally* assume they were terrorists. Or, you know, people openly practicing their faith.

But they were brown, so they must have been terrorists.

Disclaimer: while I don't flatter myself to believe that the So Called Liberal Media is actually reading my blog, one can't be too careful these days. So, just for the record, that stuff I just said? It was sarcasm.

You never know--someone from Greater Boston might be reading.

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At Father Jake Stops the World, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's closing remarks on an All Things Considered interview are posted:

I think my basic hope is that we remember that, as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1940 said, "The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not members." Our focus needs not to be so much on internal politics, but on serving the world, on helping to heal a world that is broken.
My gosh, do those words ever resonate for me! When it comes to the "big questions", there is little that I know for sure. But I know that "helping to heal the world" is something that I need to do. So hearing those words from the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church feels like one of those little divine nudges that remind me I'm exactly where I need to be.

Then, not long after reading what +KJS had to say, I stumbled upon an article about two parishes bolting from the Episcopal church.
Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.
So much hate there. Well, fear, I guess. I keep trying to remind myself of that, because it really troubles me to read that sort of thing.

This evening was my EfM seminar, and we did a theological reflection on the Magnificat, which is in Luke's Gospel. It begins with these words:

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

In addition to theological reflections, we have readings to discuss. Last year, my readings were about the Old Testament, and this year they focus on the New Testament. For the last couple weeks, the readings have been about the Gospel of Luke, so I'm a lot better versed in the attributes of this Gospel than I was before. From my readings, "Luke insists that the gospel is good news for the poor, the outcast, and the sinner." Later in the paragraph, the author mentions the Magnificat's "eager celebration of the reversal of roles as society sees them".

Anyway, it was a good discussion, and I was glad I pushed myself to attend tonight, because at the end of a hectic day I really wanted to rest. And in some of our informal chit-chat, I learned about a style of Nativity scene I'd never heard of before.

I submit to you that I can find this amusing but still be a person who takes her faith and calling seriously. On one level, it feels like I shouldn't have to say that, but I'm not sure that a member of this community who recently "shook the dust off his feet" accepts that particular paradox.

By the way, I hadn't read Underground Railroad for a while, but checked in on it this evening after reading Cat's comment about Oscar stating that he's considering ending the "blog exercise" of posting a weekly sermon in favor of "real world" activities.

Still pondering, and this post is not really finished in any neat and tidy sort of way. But the question that keeps nagging at me is this: How can we ever begin to tackle the big problems our country and our world face if we are not willing to remain in dialog, and in community, with people of good will who disagree with us?

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Open Thread

See "A duck's story" at Cute Overload for more pics.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

On privilege and empathy

Recently I've been checking out the web site of the Diocese of New Hampshire--that's the Diocese where the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson is bishop, and I recently started reading his biography. Well, today I discovered and downloaded a PDF of the most recent diocesan newsletter, and was really impressed by one of the article in it, called The Consequences of the Death of Empathy, by Robert Jenson. I wanted to share it, and hoped to find a non-PDF version. When I did a search, I found it at Counterpunch. I also found that it was published there way back in October. So maybe some of you have seen it already, but I'm guessing a lot of you, like myself, will be seeing it for the first time...

Too many people with privileges of various kinds -- based on race or gender, economic status or citizenship in a powerful country -- go to great lengths not to know, to stay unaware of the reality of how so many live without our privilege. But even when we do learn, it's clear that information alone doesn't always lead to the needed political action. For that, we desperately need empathy, the capacity to understand the experiences -- especially the suffering -- of others.

Too often in this country, privilege undermines that capacity for empathy, limiting the possibilities for solidarity. Two examples from my recent experience brought this home for me.

Click here to continue reading.

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Hell really DOES freeze over

This made me smile, so I wanted to share it. No other reason. This post is not meant to be deep, or ponder the big questions about the nature and existence of an afterlife that may or may not exist. I just thought it was funny, and, frankly, I think we need more laughter these days. I saw a post on the Flying Spaghetti Monster web site entitled "On going to hell"

I am becoming increasingly confused when I keep reading the comments many people leave on your website saying that we are all going to go to Hell. While their offers are quite generous, I’m a bit hazy on the details. Will they be supplying us with airfare and accommodations? Will a rental car be provided, or will we be left to our own devices once we arrive? And most importantly, in my mind, is the issue of adequate clothing to protect us from the often bitter cold.
The post included a link to this Wikipedia page about Hell, Norway

Hell is a small village in Stjørdal, Norway with a population of 352. It has become a minor tourist attraction because of its name: people like to take the train there to get photographed in front of the station sign. What was possibly Norway's most popular postcard, at least among English-speaking tourists, showed the station with a heavy frost on the ground—Hell frozen over in fact, though there was no caption to make the point.
Click here for the rest. My favorite line: Temperatures in Hell can reach -20°C during winter.

At least it's safer to discuss in polite company than that town in Austria. ;)

Crossposted at Daily Kos.

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Happy Holidays!

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Holy Night

Demetrius created a new design today, which you can see here

In searching for readings to reflect upon each evening of Advent, I've been reading some of the Christas Eve services and sermons that have been used at our local Unitarian Universalist church. The following is a song from Christmas Eve 2004

Each night a child is born
is a holy night.
A time of singing, a time for wondering.
A time for worshipping. Each night a child is born,
is a holy night.

For so the children come and so they have been
coming. Always in the same way they come,
born of the seed of a man and woman.
No angels herald their beginnings,
No prophets predict their future courses.
No magi see a star to show where to find
the babe that will teach humankind.
Yet each night a child is born is a holy night.
Fathers and mothers sitting beside their children’s cribs feel glory in the sight of a new
life beginning.
They ask “Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?”

Each night a child is born
is a holy night.
A time of singing, a time for wondering.
A time for worshipping. Each night a child is born,
is a holy night.

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Atlanta Zoo panda baby has a name

From the Lun Lun and cub updates at the Atlanta Zoo web site:

Her name is Mei Lan!

Cub watchers of Atlanta, and voters around the world. In case you somehow missed all the pomp and celebration surrounding today's 100 Day Naming Ceremony here at Zoo Atlanta, our cub has been christened "Mei Lan," which roughly translates to "Atlanta Beauty."
Click here for more, and here to see the Atlanta Zoo's photo gallery of Lun Lun and Mei Lan.

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We "otter" smile more

Via Cute Overload, I discovered the Cute Otters site. I love this picture:

I found it after looking at a number of different sites looking for something meaningful to post about. Something hopeful. Eventually I came upon this web site, and this picture. And I thought, hang it all, somebody else can keep on top of the important issues of the day in these last weeks of 2006. I don't wanna. If I post, it's going to be things that make me smile. And otters make me smile. Just look at 'em. Cute, and even kinda zen looking. At peace with the world--at least at this moment in time.

Y'all are welcome to post important news items of the day, if you come across any that may be of interest to the community. And I'll keep reposting the link to Rene's candle page as long as Thankful and her family wish.

Hope everyone is having a lovely Friday.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Light a candle for Senator Tim Johnson and family

Here's a Yahoo news article about Senator Tim Johnson's surgery. With the amount of speculation and news coverage of the potential *political* implications of his illness, I felt it was important to set up this virtual candle page for Senator Johnson and his family, to let them know we wish them well and are holding them in the light.

(And here's the link to Rene's candle page again.)

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Thursday evening links

Click here for Rene's candle page

George Lakoff on the Narrative of a Democratic Realignment

John McCain wants to shut us down

Johnson having "uncomplicated post-operative course." No further surgery needed.

Just how bad a President is George W Bush? (from the London Telegraph)

Laura Bush blames the media: “I’d like to see the media get a little bit more balanced “

Bush seeking $100B in emergency funds for Iraq

Latina High School Student: “What Rights Do I Have?”

From floridagal, in the comments...

Here's a video of Howard Dean speaking to Democrats Abroad when they went to Australia last year. Looks like a very good time was had by all there. Speaks about 20 minutes, answers questions to much applause for about 20 minutes more.
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Has "The Decider" already decided to send more troops?

Via Git out the shovel at Firedoglake which discusses Tony Snow's recent press conference:

"Q Is it possible that the President does not want to announce the deployment of thousands of more U.S. troops to Iraq before the holidays?

"MR. SNOW: No, it has nothing to do with that. Cynical, but false. . . .
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Please use this thread to share your favorite holiday cookie recipes.

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Out of the mouths of babes

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

P.S. Click here for Rene's candle page

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Ciro Rodriguez Wins

Via Firedoglake, Chalk up another "W" in the progressive column

Ciro is a true pro-labor, pro-choice progressive and having him in the House again is wonderful. We raised a lot of money this year on his behalf and thanks to everyone who answered the recent call to phone bank for him.

And, it must be said, thanks to the DCCC who went in and used their resources to pull Ciro through. It's one more kick in the nads to Tom DeLay and his redistricting scheme, which makes it an extra delight.
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Cynthia McKinney's Full Remarks on Bush Impeachment Bill

I haven't seen much discussion of this, but having found Cynthia McKinney's full statement on Democratic Underground, I thought it was worth posting.

Mr. Speaker:

I come before this body today as a proud American and as a servant of the American people, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Throughout my tenure, I've always tried to speak the truth. It's that commitment that brings me here today.

We have a President who has misgoverned and a Congress that has refused to hold him accountable. It is a grave situation and I believe the stakes for our country are high.

No American is above the law, and if we allow a President to violate, at the most basic and fundamental level, the trust of the people and then continue to govern, without a process for holding him accountable, what does that say about our commitment to the truth? To the Constitution? To our democracy?

The trust of the American people has been broken. And a process must be undertaken to repair this trust. This process must begin with honesty and accountability.

Leading up to our invasion of Iraq, the American people supported this Administration's actions because they believed in our President. They believed he was acting in good faith. They believed that American laws and American values would be respected. That in the weightiness of everything being considered, two values were rock solid: trust and truth.

From mushroom clouds to African yellow cake to aluminum tubes, the American people and this Congress were not presented the facts, but rather were presented a string of untruths, to justify the invasion of Iraq.

President Bush, along with Vice President Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Rice, portrayed to the Congress and to the American people that Iraq represented an imminent threat, culminating with President Bush's claim that Iraq was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon. Having used false fear to buy consent, the President then took our country to war.

This has grave consequences for the health of our democracy, for our standing with our allies, and most of all, for the lives of our men and women in the military and their families--who have been asked to make sacrifices--including the ultimate sacrifice--to keep us safe.

Just as we expect our leaders to be truthful, we expect them to abide by the law and respect our courts and judges. Here again, the President failed the American people.

When President Bush signed an executive order authorizing unlawful spying on American citizens, he circumvented the courts, the law, and he violated the separation of powers provided by the Constitution. Once the program was revealed, he then tried to hide the scope of his offense from the American people by making contradictory, untrue statements.

President George W. Bush has failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; he has failed to ensure that senior members of his administration do the same; and he has betrayed the trust of the American people.

With a heavy heart and in the deepest spirit of patriotism, I exercise my duty and responsibility to speak truthfully about what is before us. To shy away from this responsibility would be easier. But I have not been one to travel the easy road. I believe in this country, and in the power of our democracy. I feel the steely conviction of one who will not let the country I love descend into shame; for the fabric of our democracy is at stake.

Some will call this a partisan vendetta, others will say this is an unimportant distraction to the plans of the incoming Congress. But this is not about political gamesmanship.

I am not willing to put any political party before my principles.

This, instead, is about beginning the long road back to regaining the high standards of truth and democracy upon which our great country was founded.

Mr. Speaker:

Under the standards set by the United States Constitution, President Bush, along with Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Rice, should be subject to the process of impeachment, and I have filed H. Res.1106 in the House of Representatives.

To my fellow Americans, as I leave this Congress, it is in your hands to hold your representatives accountable, and to show those with the courage to stand for what is right, that they do not stand alone.

Thank you.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday night open thread

Last night, I noted the following in a thread at Firedoglake about the latest evangelical minister to step down after admitting to affairs with other men.

I have recently started reading Going to Heaven: The Life and Election of Bishop Gene Robinson the recently published biography of the Bishop of New Hampshire. His view of God stands in such stark contrast to what we see in these self-hating closeted gay preachers. Something definitely went right in his upbringing.
Oh, update on the "disgraced minister" story. John Amato of Crooks and Liars wonders if it was the soy that made him gay. We discussed soy in the comments of the previous thread. Just to clear things up...

Soy sauce is fine. Unlike soy milk, it's perfectly safe because it's fermented, which changes its molecular structure. Miso, natto and tempeh are also OK, but avoid tofu.

My thoughts? Trying to deny who you are is not healthy. And, as much as I see Gene Robinson vilified, he strikes me as a much better representation of God's love for all people than those who attack him. And, he's just cool. I mean, there's a guy who really knows where his towel is.

The picture below is from his consecration. His partner, Mark Andrew, is presenting him with his mitre (bishop hat).

In other news, puddle has some new posts up at her blog, including a picture of her with Edwin, which David A. Stevenson just sent her.

Click here for Rene's candle page.

What else is going on this rainy evening?

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The "true on the inside" story of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Click here for Rene's candle page

December 12 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here's a news story from the Houston Chronicle about today's festivities: Mexicans gather to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe on annual holiday. I've posted about it on my Religious Left Blog, and crossposted at Daily Kos, Booman Tribune, and Street Prophets.

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Group seeks probe of evangelical military video

I just read about the Christian Embassy in this post on Crooks and Liars. In that post, you can find a link to the video which is mentioned in this Reuters news story, Group seeks probe of evangelical military video.

A watchdog group that promotes religious freedom in the U.S. military accused senior officers on Monday using their rank and influence to coerce soldiers and airmen into adopting evangelical Christianity.

Such proselytizing, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has created a core of "radical" Christians within the U.S. armed forces and
Pentagon who punish those who do not accept evangelical beliefs by stalling their careers.

"It's egregious beyond the pale," said Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "We apparently have a radicalized, evangelical Christian Pentagon within the rest of the Pentagon."
See also the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's website and blog. Weinstein is the author of With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military.

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Fitzmas Update

Been a while since we heard anything about Patrick Fitzgerald and the Scooter Libby case, but there seems to be some action now. Via a Kos diary by seesdifferent, entitled Scooter's graymail defense fails...

When last we left the Scooter, he and his vaunted defense team were trying to foist the dreaded "greymail" defense on Judge Reggie Walton. Briefly, "greymail" is light "blackmail." The defendant claims that in order to present a defense, he must disclose the ubiquitous "classified information." Since the court obviously can't have our valuable classified information disclosed, the case get dismissed. Clever, yes?

Now, in the other corner, weighing in at heartstopping 6-1, 205 pounds, is the light heavy weight champion of government litagation and master of the all the women he surveys, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Well, the black hats and the Mighty Fitz have been mixin it up for many months, submittin and rebuttin and filin and all that stuff. Judge Walton opined that Scooter had to get SOMETHING....But, in the tenth and final round, Fitz submitted a laundry list of substitutions and redactions that he felt would fill the bill of allowing Scooter to plead "I was busy", yet would not be classified.
See also looseheadprop's post, No Greymail For You, over at Firedoglake, where commenters are once again breaking out the Fitzmas carols.

Graphic courtesy of Political Humor.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Breaking: Jonathan Swift advocates baby eating

After seeing it mentioned on a couple of different blogs, I just watched the Beat the Press video on political blogging. See Joke "all MyDD bloggers are really Jerome" post suckers MSM for the story.

So Carroll got suckered by something that (1) is obviously a joke, and (2) could easily have been verified as such had Carroll bothered to undertake the most cursory investigation, which led to Carroll's falsely accusing Armstrong of gross deception. And what sticks in my personal craw is that Carroll then used that false accusation as the lead-in to a quote from me which, in its original context, had nothing to do with the Armstrong story. Armstrong was never mentioned in the interview with me; what I was responding to was a question about whether secret blogging-for-dollars in general gives blogging a bad name. What I said, and what I believe is true, is that astroturfing and other forms of fake blogging (like the Charlie Bass incident up in NH) usually get sniffed out pretty quickly. But the way my quote was used, it looked as though I was excusing Armstrong's (nonexistent) bad conduct by saying it's no big deal because it'll all come out in the wash. Not so -- I disapprove of astroturfing, and I said so in parts of the interview that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Here's a direct link to the satirical post that was quoted in the piece.

By the way, if you watch the video, they flash the name of our own Aldon Hynes as a blogger who received money from the Lamont campaign. Aldon addresses the issue here.

The thing is, John Carroll is apparently somebody who should know better.
John Carroll is currently an Assistant Professor of Mass Communications at Boston University. Prior to signing on with BU, Carroll was the executive producer for Greater Boston. Previously John was a commentator for WBUR-FM, as well as Public Radio International's Marketplace, and National Public Radio's On the Media. As a freelance writer on advertising, John has been an advertising columnist for The Boston Globe and Adweek and was a commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His advertising career included work at William Filene's Sons, where he was a copy chief, KK&M Advertising, where he was a senior vice president and creative director, and Carroll Creative, an advertising consulting firm he founded.

During his years with Greater Boston, John was awarded the prestigious local and national Edward R. Murrow awards for Writing, in addition to a series of New England Emmy Awards in both the News Writing and Commentary/Editorial categories. He shared the 2005 National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism with Emily Rooney.
So, this isn't Fox News we're talking about. We're talking about a journalist who, had he been around in the 1700s, would hopefully have had the good sense not to report on the "shocking" story that Jonathan Swift was advocating the eating of babies as a solution to poverty.

From the post at Crooks and Liars, where I got the link to the video"

Via Kos: Ask Carroll directly how he plans on holding himself accountable, given how accountable he and his ilk supposedly are. Be polite.
And, someone has probably mentioned this already, but it seems like this story would be a good one to mention to the people at Countdown on MSNBC.

Update: There's a new post on this at Crooks and Liars: Questions for Carroll

Another update: The Greater Boston blog now has posted a correction, adding that We will run a correction on tonight’s program (Dec. 11), and discuss the story on Friday’s “Beat The Press.”

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Happy Monday

Happy Monday. Here are some links that might be of interest...

The bubble boy in the Oval Office
Try to mend Iraq all you want; just don't tell Bush the war was a mistake.

Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes

Report on the so-called "War on Christmas from the Wall of Separation, the blog of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Making A List And Checking It Twice: Falwell Knows Who’s Naughty And Nice

From Subway:

Just a reminder that I'm mailing out "Love Songs From Ground Zero" either tomorrow or Wednesday (Depending on a doctor's appointment) so if you'd like one or more of the CD's before Christmas, please let me know.
Click here for Rene's candle page.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tom Delay has a blog

I saw a link to it on Crooks and Liars. Just read the "about" blurb to Demetrius (emphasis mine)...

The importance of the blogosphere in shaping and motivating the current conservative movement is unquestionable- not only has it served as an important tool in breaking through the liberal MSM clutter but it has helped to keep our elected officials true to principle.
Demetrius commented, "Notice they didn't say *honest*."

Okay, now I've soiled the blog with the ickiness that is Tom Delay. How to take the curse off now?

How about this, from Stuff on My Cat...

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Today is Human Rights Day

Today is UN Human Rights Day. When I mentioned this in the comments of the last thread, Holly commented that it was cool to find out that her birthday was Human Rights Day. So a very happy birthday to Holly!

On the subject of candles, here's that link to Rene's candle page again. In the last thread, puddle wrote:
I just talked to Thankful, she sez to tell you she's internets deprived, but wanted you all to know she showed Rene the candle site, and he was really moved, kept saying Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Very thankful family Thankful comes from! She came by her name honestly, lol!
puddle | Homepage | 12.10.06 - 12:09 am
Anyway, since Human Rights Day *is* a UN thing, this seems like an appropriate place to post the UN Millennium Development Goals:

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

I encourage everyone to read more about the goals, and do what you can to support them. And I will leave you with part of a sermon by Desmond Tutu:

And, God says, God says, "Yes, I do have a dream. Like, Martin Luther King, Jr." God says, "I, too, have a dream. I dream that my children one day will discover that they are family."

Now, that, actually, is not sentimental. It's one of the most radical things that Jesus ever uttered: "They are family." Family, you don't choose your relatives. Sometimes you wish you could. Family: a gift from God to you. And you: a gift to them from God.

And, in this family, there are no outsiders. Just all, all… all belong. It's an incredibly radical thing. All, all, all. You see, when Jesus spoke about… "If I be lifted up, I will draw…" he didn't say I will draw some. He didn't say I will draw some. He said, "I will draw all, all into this incredible divine embrace of love." All. Beautiful, not so beautiful. Tall; stumpy, like me. … Rich, poor, white, black, red. All, all, all, all. All belong. All. All. Gay, lesbian, so-called straight, all. [Laughter and applause.] All, all. All. All. [Applause.] All. All. All. All. All. Sharon, Arafat, all. Roman Catholic, Protestant in Northern Ireland. All. All. Bush, bin Laden. All. It's quite serious because, you see, God has no enemies.

Secondly, my enemy is not God's enemy. That's incredible: That we are family. And, if we are family, we are not doing our sisters and brothers a favor when we help them out of their poverty. The ethic of family: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. If we are family, how the heck do we justify spending as much as we do on what we call defense budgets? Budgets of death and destruction. [Applause.] When we know, we know full well that a minute fraction of those budgets would ensure that our sisters and brothers, those people out there, would have clean water to drink, would have enough food to eat, would have a decent education and health care, would have a safe environment in which to live. It's our sisters and brothers out there in those refugee camps. Those are not statistics. It is the mother of someone. It is the child of someone. Loved. And this God that we worship says, "I have no one, except you, to help me realize my dream."
You're family too, Oscar, so please come back to visit as time permits. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, you don't get to choose your family. And God never said it was going to be easy.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Open Thread

Deep thoughts from Albert Einstein...

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
We used this as our reading for this evening's Advent candle, and I thought I'd post it here as well. Figured it could sort of "cleanse the palate" (or something) after having cartoon Bush at the top of the page all day.

Sweet ones, all.

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L'il Bush

Click here for Rene's candle page.

For anyone who hasn't heard about this yet...

Comedy Central has ordered "Lil' Bush: Resident of the United States," a cartoon satire that re-imagines President George W. Bush and key executives in his administration as elementary school misfits.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Bodhi Day

During our family's nightly Advent candle lighting, I'm making a point of talking about the other "holidays of light" that are celebrated in different faith traditions. I know very little about Bodhi Day, so if anyone has anything to add, please do...

DEC-8: Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu) is when Buddhist celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha in 596 BCE.

He is said to have achieved enlightenment while sitting under a bodhi tree

Excerpted from a Bodhi Day sermon by Ryuei Michael McCormick

We should not think that this awakening is something that we must revere from afar. It is not that this Buddha is somehow set apart from us that makes him worth remembering. Instead, we should realize that the Buddha is important precisely because he was one of us, a human being who could and did wake up to a new vision of life and a new way of living in the world. What he did, we can do as well. The Flower Garland Sutra teaches that upon his awakening the Buddha thought, “I now see all sentient beings everywhere fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the enlightened ones, but because of false conceptions and attachments they do not realize it.”

It also says, “Then the Buddha observed all the beings of the cosmos with his pure unobstructed eye of wisdom and said, ‘How wonderful! How is it that these beings all have the wisdom of the enlightened ones, yet in their folly and delusions do not know or see it? I should teach them the right path to make them abandon illusion and attachment forever, so that they can perceive the vast wisdom of the enlightened ones within their own bodies and be no different from the Buddhas.’”

Some other links--not specifically about Bodhi Day, but I thought they were cool...

Walking with Peace and Presence

There's a video of Thich Nhat Hahn's "Peace is every step" walk in Los Angeles here, as well as a blog post about the experience.
by Thich Nhat Hanh

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