Saturday, November 11, 2006

Memo to Pelosi: Fix Consitutional Crisis BEFORE '08


After Downing Street reminds us there are still a lot of issues unresolved.

The Perfect Storm of Citizen Revulsion
...even with the House and Senate in Democratic hands, we need to remember that the immense power of the presidency is still in the hands of Bushistas like Richard Cheney and Karl Rove and George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice and Stephen Hadley and Alberto Gonzales.




They have refashioned the Constitution to make Bush immune from obeying laws he doesn't like; they have invented theories that permit him to round up anyone, American citizen or not, and throw them into a military clink without access to lawyers; they have so bent the definition of "torture" as to make it unrecognizable (it now means that the government can do anything to you short of killing you or doing great injury to your internal organs); the president claims to be able to "pre-emptively" attack any foreign country and power regardless of whether they are an imminent threat to the U.S.; the security forces can now enter your home, search your house, peek into your private email and computer files, without you ever being informed and without you even knowing; the government can now violate the privacy of attorney/client privilege by listening in on all such conversations; the government can declare martial law whenever it so chooses; and on and on.

Let us not forget that the Executive branch still possesses these immense police-state powers, they've used them before against American citizens, and they have made it plain that they are quite prepared to keep using them. Among the issues that must be dealt with by the new Democratic-contolled Congress is to find a way to bring us back to judicial sanity and respect for the rights guaranteed to American citizens under our Constitution.


ADS points out the President still has these powers as the problem. I wish to point out that is not the worst possible case; the worst case would be something I consider fairly likely unless We Do Something Now: Democrats and Republicans together decide that they really kinda like the idea of the Presidency retaining those powers.

There's only one thing that frightens me more than George Bush holding the powers of the Unitary Executive, and that would be a more intelligent and better advised person in the oval office, of either party.

The idea of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton - or frankly, ANYONE, even me, having such power is terrifying. In a sense, the raw stupidity of George Bush and the ideological splits within his administration have been a blessing in disguise. Hes managed to sabotage and expose a 30 year plan to turn the United States into an Empire, with the vast majority of it's citizens made irrelevant to the political process.

An ironic round of applause is due for George and Karl.

But we have an edifice of power to dismantle, lest anyone better qualified to rule scale the heights. That would be pretty much anyone, of any party.

We all need to demand the process go forward. Investigation will officially reveal what is generally already known - and if that investigation does NOT verify and expand upon what is already public knowledge, we will know that the corruption spreads more widely than previously thought.

Remaining members of Congress - and particularly those members who seek re-election in 2008 - had better re-acquaint themselves with their oaths of office and their primary duties.

Friday, November 10, 2006

In service to the Constitution.

Impeach George Bush

I need to send my copy of the Memorial in, and since I'm thinking about it, I figured I'd think aloud and squeeze a post out of it.

I'm having difficulty with the pdf files linked at Impeach for Peace; they do not seem to be willing to be downloaded. It looks like I will have to use the html versions of the generic forms. Simply copy and paste them into any good word processor.

For extra credit, after filling out the form, saving it in the usual format and printing your primary copies, save it as a PDF file after filling in the blanks, then export it to a pdf-aware graphics program, such as Photoshop and save it as a high-resolution, tabloid sized (11"x17") document. In small print, add the following at the bottom: "this is an enlarged facsimile of my official memorial, dated (fill in the blank.)" This gives your representative something big enough to wave around on C-Span.

There are many services that will print this out for you, if you are not conveniently local to a Staples or Quick-Print shop of some sort. Zazzle will do a nice job.

Select a MATTE output - otherwise, it will catch reflections from TV lighting and be unreadable.

If you prefer - you can also save the large, scaled pdf along with a photo of yourself holding your original memorial to a CD. Label it nicely and include it with the signed document. You may also wish to include a personal statement as to why you think it important to initiate impeachment.

Here are the thoughts I have in the matter; and as you might expect, the thrust of the argument goes to ethics and duties. In essence, this call to impeach the president is a call to Congress to examine it's own conscience and return to it's constitutional and ethical duties of oversight and constraint.

Until the issues raised in charges cited in this memorial are investigated by the House and adjuged by the Senate, it is impossible for Government to act with credibility or be accorded due respect for the inherent worth of it's deliberations.

These proceedings will of necessity involve a searching examination of the role of Congress in these matters; a period of self-examination that is long overdue, regardless of the final outcome. It is worth remembering that the call to impeach the president is not a call to convict; that is a matter of fact and of law to be resolved by due and established process.

We must realize that if those who govern are seen to be above the law and immune to question, no Citizen can be expected to respect the laws Congress passes, the President enforces or the Courts uphold. If matters this grave are treated as purely political, how will the we, the citizens see other laws regarding matters that affect their lives and purses?

This is an extraordinary moment in the history of the United States, as pivotal as the Civil War and as fraught with peril as the times of our founders. Either the values they established will be upheld, or this nation will change into something rather more ordinary, and much the worse.

The facts in the matter center around the President's assertion of the power of the "Unitary Executive" and a further assertion that in war, his powers are of necessity greater than during peace. But the further implication of this concept is that he may determine when to go to war, and indeed, define "war" to extend to conditions of international lawlessness that are consistent and expected challenges for any nation.

This has the effect of subverting the Constitutionally-mandated checks and balances upon Presidential Power, as well as depriving the Executive Branch of the benefit of due deliberation and a legitimate mandate.

The charges against this President go far beyond the technical, they are matters that go to the very heart of our Constitutional Republic. They cannot be treated as issues to be dismissed in a "new spirit of bipartisanship;" they trancend the partisan. If they are so treated it will be seen as assent to this most unwholesome direction, exposing Congress in turn to disrepute and increased scorn from an impatient and angry Citizenry who is already suspicious that their govenrment is devoid of any principle save self-preservation and personal advancement.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The New Spirit of Bipartisanship

Bipartisanship Magnet > Kiss My Donkey | CafePress




I got your buttons, I got your cards, I got your snappy dark shirts, I have an absolute KILLER bumper-sticker - and they all are to make the same point, and that is this. Whether or NOT Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wish to continue with "business as usual," business will NOT be as usual until certain messes are cleaned up.

A Constitutional Crisis trumps any amount of ambition for the first hundred hours. We want investigations, and we want those investigations to go where they go. Pelosi has to understand that if the evidence points to impeachable offenses, it's not the duty of the house to decide yae or nay to that. That is the duty of the Senate. First, they are first and foremost responsible to their constitutional oaths and offices. And second, this issue must be resolved, and resolved quickly.

I should add that until these issues are resolved, the Presidency itself is damaged.

There are a great many things George Bush has done that must be investigated, repudiated and repaired within the next two years, before inertia becomes tradition.

No future president should be permitted the latitude this president has been, we clearly need to solidly re-establish constitutional checks and balances. We also clearly need a constitutional amendment that puts individual privacy beyond dispute.

Congress must take back the powers stolen from it, and that means reviewing much of the legislation passed by the previous, rubber-stamp congress. It should be made clear that the president must respect and honor the will of Congress, or if he cannot, he must use his veto. His usage of signing statements can be, if need be, addressed by legislation and litigation.

But right now, we have a sitting president that has defied the constitution and international law in order to defend and indeed expand the use of torture. The only "bipartisanship" I'm able to stomach on this matter is a loud, bipartisan repudiation of the use of torture and a very serious investigation of the practices undertaken by this president.

Otherwise, one might reasonably think that the Democrats are as interested in seizing that power as the Republicans are, concentrating it in the Executive and using it to rule a new American Empire. I doubt very much that's a vision many of my right-wing colleagues would welcome and I'm certain that my fellow libertarians are solidly oppose d to that, whatever else we may disagree on. If it appears that Congress is unwilling to face the matter with courage and integrity, we in the net-roots will; by all means available to us.

Our reach becomes greater every day, our coalitions and alliances become more sophisticated, and for the most part they usually bypass the traditional fonts of power completely. You see, we don't need "access" to make our points. Nor do we need any great political machine, or boiler rooms filled with indoctrinated drones. We have RSS feeds and blogroll alliances for that, just to name a few little issues.

The growth of the netroots, of blogging and of the pervasive power of the Internet has been very unwelcome in the halls of power and certainly viewed with distrust and disdain by the Mainstream Media. We are not "managable." There are too many of us, with far too little individual power, wealth or access to be easily coerced.

Understand that my discomfort with the power wielded by Tom Delay against the interest of the American people is not allayed by that same power being in the hands of Nancy Pelosi. Congress needs to understand that in very large part, this result was due to an aroused, aware and extremely angry American people. We are by now pretty much immunised to political posturings, positionings, re-triangulations and symbolic gestures.

I want my representatives representing MY interests. They are not a wing of White House operations, and should not aspire to taking that power by taking the White House.

Right now, Democrats had better be concentrating on cutting Bush's balls off, to be blunt. He may be a lame duck, but he's not nearly lame enough for my taste. Well, actually, I'm all for a bipartisan effort in pruning back executive power. But I surely do not insist on it. I just think that it should be less difficult than Pelosi imagines to achieve that sort of bipartisanship, given the number of Republicans up for re-election in 2008.

As for the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, the senior senator from this great state of Nevada: A lot of us are not at ALL pleased with your efforts during this election. We are not pleased that Ensign is still the Junior Senator. We think you put politics above good policy, at the very least.

I'm thinking maybe you are too fond of the good old boy sort of politics, a little too comfortable inside the beltway, maybe a little bit out of touch with the fact that you are, in fact, our delegate and employee. I think those of us outside the realm of power politics have a better idea of the essentials than those tripping on the heady fumes of influence.

You have two years to either clean up this mess, or become inextricably identified with it. That is not a great deal of time, so you had best get busy. You have all the influence and power you need to do it, and a republican minority that would like very much to remain part OF a large and influential minority.

Having you as Majority Leader is only a source of prestige to our state if you are actually leading the Majority toward a re-establishment of proper, ethical, honorable and constitutional governance. If you are not - well, you may as well be Tom Delay.

This is a moment in political history as pivotal as was 9/11. Do not follow the example of George Bush and squander it to gain political objectives at the expence of this Constitutional Republic. The citizenry is beind you totally - but sir, we are behind you with fixed bayonets. Do not think that there is nearly the latitude for you that George Bush had. We are weary, impatient and cranky.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good News, Bad News, Local News.

And, yes, I DO take it personally: Next up: "A historic battle over the U.S. constitutional system"

And ain't that gonna be fun? Don't expect the Dems to lead the charge on this; it's going to be the netroots and the vast majority of the american people who consider themselves "independants."

Anyway, It's a sort of good news/bad news day.

Good news: control of the house. Bad News: Nancy Pelosi - is she up for it? You might wanna just put her number on speed dial, and add her congressional email to your blog update lists, just to let her know you have an eye on her.

Bad news: Senate still up for grabs. Good News: Senate IS up for grabs.

Worst news: Looks like we may have to impeach Jim Gibbons.

Best News(Blogger Readership division) Looks like we may have to impeach Jim Gibbons, making Nevada Blogs actually interesting to the rest of the world.) At any rate, the

Bad News: Carter Campaign collapsed, Ensign seems likely to keep seat. What the HELL happened to the Carter campaign in the last two weeks?

Good News: Carter, underfunded, ignored by media and most of the Democratic party, STILL took Cook county and huge chunks of the vote. DAMN respectable showing and a real wake-up call in a race that the smart money would have said would not be a real contest. The results are still not official, but so far, Ensign has managed to eke out what is probably a margin of victory, unless absentee ballots change the picture entirely. I've been completely unable to find any

In a sense the result is still okish, because O'l Cripple-Kicker just got himself a wake-up call. When the Democratic son of the most Liberal Democratic President sucks nearly 3000 votes out of Elko, NV, that is what you would call a "clue."

I would call upon all Nevadans who have personal difficulties with the federal goverment to call upon Ensign for aid in the matter and share what response you get with folks such as me. He and the GOP paid heavily for this victory, and if you voted for him, I bet you feel he's gotta owe you something.

And he does, oh boy, he does!

We who are now active in the netroots have learned is that "when the cat's away, the mice will play." So, whoever you were backing to win, and whoever did win, and however you feel about that, you need to send the eventual victor a little note and a reminder that you are not going back to sleep. For the entire duration of their term, they are going to find your name on the list of weekly correspondents with their office. Make a point of it. Because when it comes down to it, most of the problems we face at the moment are due to a lack of oversight on our part.

As a blogger, I'll be waiting to see if something falls out of HIS closet - given his linkages with the Evangelical machine and the local Republicans, it's highly probable there's something off-balance, hidden behind the forgotten laundry on the top shelf.

And The LV Gleaner points out that The Hair Club for Republicans has a silver lining for... well, anyone other than fellow Republicans:

Nevada's Other Senator will now be the new Elizabeth Dole (except with better hair), which is to say he'll spearhead the 2008 GOP Senate campaign effort. Why have the Hair Do's wingnut colleagues entrusted him with such an important responsibility? Of the 33 senators who have to defend seats in 08, 20 of them are Republicans, and nobody else wanted the job. Throw in Ensign's work ethic, which is confined primarily to iron shots and putting, and it's safe to say Harry Reid's Democratic majority is going to get bigger before it gets smaller.
Trust the Republicans to put the least qualified in charge of offices of any importance - even when it affects their own future. Clearly, a foolish consistancy IS the hobgoblin of small minds.

And the first fruits of this election manifested in the Resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld, to be replaced with someone from Bush Senior's camp, Bob Gates. Taken with the exodis of neocons and theocons from the White House, is this a sign that grown-ups are now in control of the President?

John McCain was quick to welcome "a new direction" and bump up his public profile. I think we can take this as indication that he's serious about a White House run, and I frankly would have to look favorably toward a Republican of McCain's stature and in the White House, given what I see as a high probablity of indisputable Democratic control of both houses by 2008. I'm pretty sick of one-party government, and I'd mislike having to go through the last six years again.
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Monday, November 06, 2006

Ted Haggard meth & gay sex - VERY FUNNY

It depends on what you mean by gay sex in Denver...

Bush planned Iraq 'regime change' before becoming President

A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001

read more | digg story

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Tipping Point II

Voting Elko's Values.

From the Washington Post


Strong public opposition to the Iraq war continues to hurt Republicans in many key races, but the Bush administration struck a defiant tone, signaling that the election results will not influence its strategy. Tuesday's balloting might influence Congress, Vice President Cheney said in an interview with ABC News, "but the president's made clear what his objective is. It's victory in Iraq. And it's full speed ahead on that basis. And that's exactly what we're going to do."

Cheney was responding in part to sharp criticism launched in a Vanity Fair article by two of the Iraq invasion's strongest advocates: Richard N. Perle of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee and former Pentagon official Kenneth Adelman. Perle said the administration's war policy had become dysfunctional, adding: "You have to hold the president responsible. . . . I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."



Those are names to conjure with, and names of influence throughout the Right in general. Such disaffection is the sort of news that echos even in Elko, a place where I don't think everyone is a mindless kool-aide drinker.

Even the most conservative of conservatives in such places live of necessity in full contact with reality, and they really do live by the principles they vote by. Those principles stand them in good stead, by and large. So at some point they have to start asking themselves, why are these principles NOT working when the President applies them?

Because, well, they should have. They know damn well they should have.

If you must go to war, or go to help clean up a disaster like Katrina in a Conservative way and do the things any sensible conservative would do in terms of planning and preperation, it would have gone well. War, conflict and disaster are things that Conservatives are by nature prepared for. Conservatives have an utter distate for the untidy and the improvised, and if they go, they go prepared.

So there was every reason to expect that the Iraq war should have gone as anyone with any grasp of the realities involved - say, such as Jack Murtha - would have confidently predicted, given the resources someone like, say, General Shensiki knew would be needed.

I was opposed to the war on principle. I wasn't opposed on the basis that we could not win. The means to do so were easily available and more than adquate to the job. If it needed doing, I was quite confindent that the doing of it was a matter of routine. And it would have been, had the matter been left to the professionals. The very people that your Senator, John Ensign, would now screw over in favor of the problem children of the war, such as Haliburton.

And one could conservatively ASSUME that someone with Bush's apparent credentials, backed by the apparent confidence of his staff and their apparent grasp of the situation would do what any conservative would expect; proper planning, preparation, and execution leading into a short period of security and transfer of authority that went smoothly because it was in the hands of people who were trained and experienced in their tasks, the very best we could send.

I mean, if your conservative assessment was that it was a necessary action. Because Conservitives, being conservative, do not tend to act suddenly unless it's a real emergency, and then other conservatives know that you don't pester someone who's dealing WITH an emergency. So, if George Bush said there was an urgent need to invade Iraq, there was no good reason to doubt his word. Not for a real conservative who thought they were relying on the good judgement of another conservative with far better information.

But, well, he aint. t appears that little attention at all was paid to anything other than appearences, and even that was restricted to domestic news and tame talking heads. Nearly all of the attention of this administration from the git-go has been to bamboozle you and keep you bamboozled. And to give the devils their due, they have been pretty clever about it.

So I forgive the folks of Elko and thousands of other deeply conservative towns across the nation for being in a state of shock and denial, for they cannot imagine how anyone who lives by their own virtues could screw up so badly. It is literally inconceivable; it should be a matter of practical impossibility due to bone-deep, value driven integrity that is the soul of small-town conservatism

Well, I'm sad to say this, but folks like George Bush and a thousand others took advantage of your preconceptions of how things ought to be. They said all the right words in public, and you figured that since you have integrity, they did too.

Sorry about that. I feel your pain. You see, I grew up in an area like that, where people had to rely upon one another, expected to be able to, and could. The closet volunteer fire department was a solid 15 miles away, the closet hospital was 45 minutes on dry roads in a fast car - and they were never dry. If you heard three shots in rapid succession, you grabbed a rifle and a first aid kid and ran toward the sound, because there was a broken leg or worse.

And when you grow up in such a place, it's really crushing to find out that people from the big city don't share those essential values. Well, not the rich ones, anyhow.

Honestly. I'm not on the leftward sode of blogastan by choice, I got the political spectrum jerked out from under me by people like Perle. I'm a freakin' conservative by a freaking old fashioned standard; I believe in old fashioned things like not meddling in folks private affairs, balancing budgets, taking care of your family first and then your neighbors. Its not charity to tend your neighbor's cattle when he's too sick to do it. It's neighborly. And they would do the same, probably have, and likely will do so again. Hell, it doesn't even much matter if you like each other; what's that got to do with cows that need milking?

I still have difficulty with the idea that an agreement should need more than a handshake to seal the bargain, and I think that all business agreements should be "Full measure, pressed down and running over." That's what I learned from the folks around me as I grew up, and not just from the church-going, either.

Because of that background, lies, injustice and betrayal of trust piss me off beyond measure. I have a very sensitive ear to differences between what people say and the lack of an echo from what they actually do.

Jack Carter had the guts to go to Elko and give real answers to some real tough questions I understand you tossed his way. But then, he's the sort of conservative like to think I am; a guy who talks based on the walk, instead of a guy who talks loud enuough so you can't tell if there's any footsteps.

But Ensign's buddy and bestest friend, George Bush - he didn't have the guts to go anywhere else. He used Elko and it’s deeply Conservative citizens as a refuge filled with idiological human shields against hard questions. If he'd had any guts worth mentioning, he'd have gone straight to the biggest stage in Vegas. Ain't he supposed to be President even for the folks who DON'T care for the cut of his jib?

"All hat, no cattle." A good old fashoned Texas summation of this whole "neoconservative" movement. It's all hot air and moonshine, the lot of it, a grand scheme to take over the whole damn world by virtue of us being "the only superpower" and executing "the will of God."

Turns out that all this was founded on thought no deeper than the crick in my back yard on the East Hoquiam, which was barely deep enough to wet the back of a crawdad.

And these days, it's pretty easy to predict what happens to someone who asks a REPUBLICAN a tough question. Or indeed, just looks like they might try. Of course, since Allen has a well established record of spitting on pretty much everyone, why not the Constitution and the First Amendment? Speaking as a semi-virginian myself, I don't think of spitting tobacco juice at ladies (or anyone) to be the act of a Gentleman who belongs in the Senate.

I'd like to think that Allan is an exception - but local races prove that his sort of "gentleman" seems to infest the Republican right, and I think that is due in part because Washington has become such a cesspool that no person of real charactor even gets invited to swim on that side of the pool. It is utterly implausible to me that Allan is the best possible representative of the Old Dominion, and ceratainly John Ensign does't strike me as being authenticly representative of the solid, genuinely Conservative heart of Nevada.



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The Tipping Point - The Sacred Center

As I was writing what became the second "Tipping Point" post, I was brought face to face with the fact that the folks in Elko are pretty much like the folks I grew up with, folks who might vote one way or another on a particular issue, but who all pretty much shared a common core of what I think of when I speak of "Conservative Family Values."

Who would you prefer to represent you; someone who actually does share your best values, values such as guts, integrity, plain spoken honesty, and who actually gave you the respect of coming to your town, whatever his political ad visors might have said about it being a waste of time.

Who deserves your vote more; someone willing to stand up in front of and take your best shot or someone who's spent his entire career in Nevada politics blowing smoke - from Washington, DC.

That is literally the case. It's there for anyone to read, John Ensign's record is damning. For people like you, he's produced the square root of sweet bugger-all, despite all the fine words and hair gel.

Oh, he's a fine figure of a man, looks like a proper church deacon, says all the right things when he needs your vote in between kissing babies and kittens. But when it's time for HIM to vote - here's what you get.

On February 2, 2006, the Senate failed to pass Senate Amendment 2735 to Senate Amendment 2707 to H.R. 4297 by a vote of 44-53. This amendment would have imposed a modest 2-year reduction in capital gains and dividends tax reduction for those making over $1 million per year, with proceeds to veterans’ health – surely a reasonable measure during what Senator Ensign says is the defining war of our times.

On March 14, 2006, the Senate failed to pass Senate Amendment 3007 to Senate Concurrent Resolution 83 by a vote of 46-54. This bill would have closed $1.5 billion in tax loopholes, with proceeds to veterans’ health care.

Then on March 16, 2006, the Senate failed to pass Senate Amendment 3141 to Senate Concurrent Resolution 83 by the same 46-54 vote. This bill would have eliminated tax breaks for incomes over $1 million per year and some corporate tax breaks, proceeds to go to veterans’ health care.

Senator Ensign voted against all three amendments.


There are many other examples that Sara Carter has dredged up from his record, but this one goes beyond mere politics to me. To me, this vote has nothing to do with political values or ideology - it goes straight to character.

I am half Virginian, - my mother came from Lynchburg - and I was raised to respect veterans. The other half is Canadian, and that half from Unity, Saskatchewan, the Conservative heart of the Prairies - where the view is the same.

Unity makes Elko look positively cosmopolitan. In 1974, they finally got around to paving the main street. Just the main street. They were talking about planning for the thought of planning to consider a traffic light one day. And a lot of those folks sitting on those porches were veterans of WWII, Korea, Cyprus and various other places most people never think much about, and most of this talking took place in the Legion hall - the Canadian analogue to VFW. In a very real way, it is the sacred center of small town life.

And the same is true in Virgina, the same was true in Aberdeen. None of that disrespect for vets for us, too many of "us" WERE them, and there but for the grace of the draft were most of the rest. In a small town, both those who came home and those who did not are people you knew.

Every small town, and even village in the whole of North America has some place reserved to remember the fallen. Between all the wars, there are a lot of fallen to remember and they mostly come from small towns much like Elko. So I imagine that in that respect, Elko is not much different than Aberdeen, or Unity, or indeed Lynchburg, which would like to think it's still a small town with unusually fine monuments to a very large number of fallen heroes.

When you hear that dragging march, the bagpipes skirling above the muffled drums, you stop what you are doing, and turn to face the parade. And you put your hand over your heart as a gesture of respect to the fallen.

I assure you, it's not merely symbolic, and I do it even if it's on TV and nobody is watching.
If I could be a single issue voter, this would be my single issue, for I think nothing goes more directly to the heart of our national honor than how we treat our Vets.

Neither of my natal nations would exist were it not for a great deal of blood and sacrifice made by ordinary men - and now women - who took up arms in the service of their nation. Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, but that makes not a whit of difference. It's not whether history proves that the motives of your leaders were pure, or whether you won or lost the battle or the war; it's that you answered the call. And often the greater honor goes to those who went, knowing the cause was less than pure and far from certain- but also knowing they had a duty to their fellows to stand with them, or indeed to lead them. General Robert E. Lee has always been one of my examples in life as an honorable man.

So, while I'm absolutely opposed to this damn fool war I nonetheless demand due respect for it's veterans of this war and the vets, living and dead of every other war, whether it was a war of honor, a tragic mistake, a failed photo opportunity or "A Project for a New American Century." I will not stand for less than their due and I will not stand next to anyone who would cheat them of it in order to line the pockets of a wealthy patron.

Sen. Ensign behaves more like a Roman senator than an American one, and I want you to keep that in mind, how much more comfortable he'd seem in a purple-bordered toga than in an honest man's suit.

He's the sort of man who'd take a poppy from a blind veteran while dropping nickle to snitch a quarter - all while saying, "Look at what a fine patriot I am!" He's that sort of man, because this is how that sort of man votes!

Some of your sons and some of your daughters will have a harder time recovering from their service in Iraq because of this man's arrogant disrespect for their sacrifices. Yet he has a smug, oily presumption that you will not vote for an honorable alternative, simply because he honestly disagrees with you on a couple of issues.

Well, Jack doesn't disagree with you on this one!

Anyone who went to Iraq in honorable service to this nation and discharged their duties in the face of the enemy deserves the best from us; the best care, the utmost respect, the biggest smile and every damn thing they need to take up civilian life again. So many of our Guardsmen and Reserves have lost so much; jobs, entire businesses and careers, even families. And I do not count in that their wounds.

I will honor that and their MEANINGFUL patriotism over the false-front, lapel-pin, wag-the-dog variety so beautifully illustrated by this man and this vote.

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Clasped Hands and Golden Rings



I dearly love my amazingly good friend, Julia, who has a definitive ability to reach out at the perfect time and remind me to breath; that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well".

That is why I keep a permanent link to her site in the form of a classic Icon of her Patron Saint, Julian of Norwich. I don't ascribe to the idea of sainthood myself - it seems rather presumptuous that the pope, or anyone else, could decide that status, especially after skimming thorugh "Lives of the Saints" on a particularly dull November day, years ago.

In some cases, though, it's merely an acknowledgement of the obvious, once you strip away all the religious preservation and ritual pesterment that goes with sainthood. Julian can legitimately be ranked with the very great spiritual writers of the church, and if she does not surpass Augustine in the minds of men - that's because they are too much man and not Godfriend enough.

I was reminded to breathe today by a letter from her to her "Godfriends" list, which I seem still to be on despite my deplorably earthy ways and curiosity about things of the flesh.


Looking at these splendid Etruscan treasures and their Phoenician runes reminded me of that other culture, Canaanite, Mary's and Jesus', around the Sea of Galilee, that was peaceable, agricultural, about bread and wine and families and blessings, though dominated by the nomadic cattle-herding Israelite one, and the Roman military one. It is the peaceable culture that gave us the alphabet, that traded for cloth and amber across all Europe, its runes even on Iceland. And this Eastertide this Cemetery will bloom with purple irises (the Florentine lily) and golden daffodils beneath its great Etruscan cypresses with the help of so many.

I've bought tickets for coming to America, February 20, first to Washington, DC, lecturing at Georgetown on Julian of Norwich, then at Little Rock on Brunetto Latino and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, last at Wellesley on women writing, flying there from my grandson's wedding in New Mexico. And in this way getting to see my beloved sons and grandchildren. Will travel mostly by bus, which I found last year to be so much nicer than traveling by plane. The people are kinder, far more interesting, sort of the Canaanite and Etruscan agricultural layer, not the Roman Spartan military, slave-owning one. It takes so much energy from life to be military, it gives so much energy to life to be agricultural.


Careful, Julia; one could get excommunicated for such robust common sense. And I hope we have the opportunity to meet.

In any case, the cemetery she refers to is the amazing and historic 'English Cemetary' in Florence, Italy. There is much beauty and lyrical writing to be found there - too much, I find, to choose between while my dog pesters me about more immediate needs, so I shall go directly to the pitch about the photos above.

We are not allowed legally to sell objects, not being commercial, but may receive donations. In exchange we have created a CD, called 'Florence in Sepia' which gives an entire nineteenth-century collection of photographs of Florence in sepia, that we exhibited in the Palazzo Strozzi last June and which are now available for viewing in the original in our Gatehouse, as well as the catalogue of the tombs, Victorian guidebooks of Florence and much else. FIRENZE/ FLORENCE IN SEPIA We have re-created, thanks to Amalia Ciardi Dupré Harriet Hosmer's 'Clasped Hands' of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. We have also edited and printed, in William Morris type, and hand-bound in our own marbled paper, a limited and numbered edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets and Ballad. Either separately or together these would make excellent wedding gifts. Suggested donations for the 'Clasped Hands': in terra cotta, 250; in plaster, 100; in Della Robbia glazed terra cotta, 250 for the books, 50; for the CDs, 10; in dollars, euros, pounds. Please include an amount to cover postage.


Make cheques written out to 'Aureo Anello' and post to

Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei
'English' Cemetery
Piazzale Donatello, 38
50132 FIRENZE
ITALIA
Or, for PayPal, go to http://www.florin.ms/pp.html

These will be most gratefully received and will save a world heritage sight of much historical value.

If I may point out, 50 pounds, euros or dollars is a terribly low price for the book. I know less about objects such as the hands, but the provenance is unique and the cause is wonderful. Nor, I think would Julia object to telling and recording what such a donation went toward; that in turn could lead toward a beautiful framed picture as part of such a gift when your donation blooms. So when you donate, please consider adding between 50 and 100 "units" to your gift.

Julia and her loose flock are spread throughout the world and have many wonderful things to share. I should point out that Real Christians support real Christian works, if it needs saying. Indeed, even some of us "heathens" consider it worth our attention.


Joseph and Jesus had a carpenter's shop in Nazareth. Peter and his companions ran a fishing business on the Sea of Galilee. Paul was a tentmaker. Mary, in the Infancy Gospels, did sewing and embroidery while in Egypt, Jesus delivering the goods to her customers there- and so did Dorcas do fine sewing in Luke's Acts. Those of us in Christ's ministry need to earn our keep. The early disciples, both men and women, also wrote epistles, Psalters, Gospels, Bibles. They balanced work and study and prayer. And they did not use credit cards or cheques, instead directly exchanged their work. Churches in East Anglia owe their great beauty to their participants' generosity and identification with them, as Eamon Duffy shows before the The Stripping of the Altars at the Reformation. We encourage the same here in a mutual giving, to the One Body of Christ, everyone.

There are many beautiful things made in this humble “carpenter’s shop,” and they are perhaps a not unworthy reminder to those who’s faith has been shaken by the actions of shepherds who led them astray. Julia does not ask for donations, save when she has something of value to freely give in return. Consider this very idea the most appropriate Christmas gift imaginable – the very example of Christ.

That which I most particularly suggest for the very many US Christians now facing a devastating crisis of faith is this:

The Julian Library Portfolio (specify whether to be bound in vellum or Florentine printed papers or our own Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei marbled papers or purchased individually):

Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei Marbled Papers [are] made by a Rom mother who was begging in Florence's streets and whom we taught this Florentine skill so she can support her children, her family in Romania. She is the one who writes out the Lord's Prayer so beautifully in Italian and whom we tried to teach also to read as well as to write. She sings 'Alleluia§' to her baby as a lullaby.

Contents/ Essays in Booklets within the Portfolio:

*Augustine, Boethius, Dionysius: Julian's Mystical Philosophers.

*The Most Ancient Life of St Gregory the Great. Written by a Monk or Nun at Whitby, A.D. 713. Reproduction of St Gall Manuscript. Text in Latin and in English Translation.

*Hilda and Caedmon: The Dream of the Rood: The Earliest Poem in English. Reproduction of Runes, Ruthwell Cross. Text in Old English, Modern English Translation.

*The Carmina Gadelica : Gaelic Prayers in the Ortha Nan Gaidheal. Text in Translation from the Gaelic. The Prayer used for the Enclosing of Anchorites in Medieval England was adapted from St Patrick's Lorica. Celtic Intertwine Embroidery Design in Gold on Green for a Chasuble.

*Godfriends: The Continental Medieval Mystics.

*Henry Suso: Horologium Sapientiae. Reproductions of Medieval Manuscript Illuminations. Parallel Text in Middle English Translation from the Amherst Julian Manuscript and in Modern English Translation.

*Jan van Ruusbroec: The Sparkling Stone. Diplomatic Transcription of Amherst Middle English Translation of the Text.

*The Mystics' Internet: Birgitta of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, Margery of Lynn, Chiara of Pisa, and Francesca of Rome.

*Julian of Norwich, The Showing of Love. The Westminster Cathedral/Abbey Manuscript. Excerpts.

*A Julian-Related Manuscript in Norwich Castle. Partial Manuscript Transcription.

*The Soul a City. Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich. Diplomatic Manuscript Transcriptions.

*Margaret Gascoigne/Bridget More. Contemplating on Julian. Manuscript Reproduction from St Mary's Abbey, Colwich. Portraits of Julian of Norwich's Benedictine nun/scribes.

*Dame Barbara Constable, O.S.B. and the Upholland Julian Fragment. Manuscript Reproduction from the Stanbrook Abbey Facsimile, Portrait.

*Mother Agnes Mason, Foundress, Community of the Holy Family. Manuscript Reproduction, Portrait.

*Sacred Conversation: Contemplative Art.

*The Lord's Prayer: 'Our Father'. Julian of Norwich, Evelyn Underhill, Simone Weil. Greek Texts Given.

*Fioretta Mazzei. Blue/Green Thoughts: Pensieri blu o verde raccolti da un assessore per una piu` vasta sicurezza sociale. Parallel Italian Text, English Translation.

The Julian Portfolio of the Julian Library Project began as a series of lectures on contemplatives given to the Hastings Quaker Meeting and held in the Anglican Holmhurst Theological Library, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, six years ago, concurrently with the work of editing the extant Julian of Norwich Manuscripts, and these booklets accompanied the lectures. They present primary documentation concerning women's theology through time. Their form replicates the fascicles written and hand-sewn by the Benedictine English contemplative nuns who studied and preserved Julian of Norwich's text in exile from England in the seventeenth century. Our Bottega marbles the paper and binds the portfolios.

Suggested Price/Booklets: $50.00 including surface postage. Individual booklets $5.00 including surface postage.

To order send e-mail or write to
Julia Bolton Holloway§, Director
Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei
Piazzale Donatello 38
50132 FIRENZE
ITALY




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