Apr 28, 2007

Correction and clarification.

Two posts to the Washington Post's blog.

I must have missed something.I could care less about Gonzales firing 8 or,(like Janet Reno did)93.What law is it exactly that the democrats have said he has broken?
I mean of course besides being a republican?I am not a Bush fan,nor did I vote for him but I have noticed,the democrats voted for the war and then backed away when it didn't go well saying they got different intel.Bull!Now they have created a scandal where there isn't
one,and the republicans stand idly by and don't call them on this.What kind of half-ass dog and pony show is this?The democrats criticize and attack everything that goes on in the White House.Are they hoping noone will notice they have been in office 5 months and haven't done a damn thing except go on vacation.They don't have any ideas or plans about anything.
Passed a resolution that is worthless and A bill that is loaded with pork the president said he would veto.I don't think we're getting our moneys worth out of these bunch of whiners and quitters.That would make them losers that I believe will lose big in 2008.They can't fool even democrats forever.But,I don't know,Clinton did!

Posted by: Clay2046 | April 27, 2007 05:50 PM

Clay2046, Well, you're talking about two unrelated issues, that's part of the problem.

How many U.S. Attorneys did George W. Bush fire when he first came into office? 92 is the count that I have. How many did George H.W. Bush fire in 1989? 93. And Reagan? Same story. So the Clinton firings were consistent with precedent.

When presidents first come into office they replace the U.S. Attorneys wholesale. This is part of the political spoils system. Although there is a check here too: The replacement attorneys are confirmed by the U.S. Senate--which serves as a vetting process. It helps to keep marginally qualified, and flatly unqualified candidates out of the selection pool.

Politics may play a role in who gets hired, but it has never come into play late in the process to determine whether a person stays or goes. In the over 140 years since the creation of the Department of Justice U.S. Attorneys are generally only removed mid-term for malfeasance or incompetence.

There has never been a case in our history where a president has fired this many attorneys for reasons that clearly have very little to do with those non-political performance standards.

There are actually a number of other things at work here too--including the removal of appointment provisions from the Patriot Act renewal which cut the Senate and the Courts out of the appointment process; resulting in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys by this administration with little to no prosecutorial experience. That's an issue, because these U.S. Attorneys wield a great amount of power. Had these U.S. Attorneys received Senate confirmation, the Bush administration could at least point the finger of blame, but now this one pretty much falls on them. It's saying something that Bush didn't even feel entirely comfortable running these "interim" appointees through a friendly Senate in 2006 to receive confirmation. I believe the U.S. Attorney for Utah was the only one who went through the normal appointment process in 2006.

At least one area which is likely to come into play is obstruction of justice. The White House and the political staff at the DOJ have asserted that these firings were not done with the purpose of interfering with specific cases, but there is circumstantial case that could be made here. The White House hasn't helped its case much either by its stone walling, continually shifting explanations, the disappearance of relevant emails (in reference to White House political staff), the withholding of evidence; and the embarrassing fact that no one at the Department of Justice, which oversaw this process, is able to state who recommended prosecutors for firing (or removal from the to be fired list), and because of that no one seems to know, or recall, why those names were put on the list in the first place. That's problematic.

The Iraq War spending bill is another entirely different beast. As far as the "pork" goes take a look at the previous war supplementals which have gone through. It seems a little bit odd to develop a conscience over this issue at this stage in the game--especially when the "pork" items in this one are about one-tenth what has gone through in previous bills. In fact the alleged "pork" items in the bill would account for roughly a day and a half of Iraq War spending (we're spending a rate of $7 billion a month--the alleged "pork" items that I've seen in this bill amount to a little under $500 million). If you're a fiscal conservative you'd probably be better off asking about the $800 or billion that has been spent so far, with out-year medical and replacement costs pushing the estimated final price tag to about $2 trillion dollars. Like I said though, that's an entirely different beast.

Posted by: JP2 | April 27, 2007 08:47 PM

Apr 20, 2007

Hot or Not?

Hot. And hot-tempered, too.

But mostly cute, sweet, and adorable.

Apr 18, 2007

"I looked down."

"I looked down."

Those were the words of the driver of a pick-up truck that ran a red-light Saturday morning, striking the car my wife's brother was a passenger in. The seat belts in his Toyota Camry failed to tension immediately (my opinion), resulting in his body travelling a few inches after the violent impact before being restrained by the belts. Had he not been wearing his seat belt, he would be dead. Instead, he has twelve broken ribs, two collapsed lungs, small fractures of his vertebrae, internal bleeding along his hip (although his hip and pelvis are not broken).

He is in the ICU at the best trauma hospital in Texas. His full recovery will be slow, but barring complications, will be full.

His wife suffered a concussion and was knocked unconscious. She was driving, and the airbag in her steering wheel did a better job of keeping her in place.

The driver of the other vehicle was/is full of remorse and accepts responsibility for running the red light. But his/her statement to the police haunts me.

"I looked down."

UPDATE: 4/30/2007
My brother-in-law is improving, but 17 days later, he remains in ICU. Do you pray? Pray for Marcus' healing in body, mind, and spirit.

Relapse yesterday. Day twenty in ICU

Day twenty-eight. Some improvement this week after they performed a tracheotomy to help him breathe. Still in ICU.

My brother-in-law was transferred from ICU to a criticalcare hospital last Friday. Saturday night, he had breathing difficulties and a high fever and was transferred to ICU again. At 3:30 Sunday morning, he stopped breathing and his heart stopped. He was resesucated, but by 8 AM, the doctors were saying his chances were poor. By 10 AM, his chances had improved to over 50% (said the doctors). As of yesterday, his improval has been dramatic, but the roller coaster ride continues.

Ventilator removed. He's back to breathing on his own. Prayers! More prayers!

Apr 9, 2007

Bunny tries to kill Pascha, but fails.

"It is not experience of life but experience of the Cross
that makes one a worthy hearer of confessions. The most
experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows
infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian
who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest
psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp
this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what
distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know
the godlessness of men. And so it also does not know that man
is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by
forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of
a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a
Christian brother, I can dare to be a sinner."
.. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together

Apr 8, 2007

Easter, but not Holy Pascha.

From Wikipedia:

In most languages of Christian societies, other than English, German and some Slavic languages, the holiday's name is derived from Pesach, the Hebrew name of Passover, a Jewish holiday to which the Christian Easter is intimately linked. Easter depends on Passover not only for much of its symbolic meaning but also for its position in the calendar; the Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples before his crucifixion is generally thought of as a Passover meal, based on the chronology in the Gospels.[1] Some, however, interpreting "Passover" in John 18:28 as a single meal and not a seven-day festival,[2] interpret the Gospel of John as differing from the Synoptic Gospels by placing Christ's death at the time of the slaughter of the Passover lambs, which would put the Last Supper slightly before Passover, on 14 Nisan of the Bible's Hebrew calendar.[3] According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration."

The English name, "Easter", and the German, "Ostern", derive from the name of Germanic Goddess of the Dawn (thus, of spring, as the dawn of the year) - called Ēaster, Ēastre, and Ēostre, in various dialects of Old English. In England, the annual festive time in her honor was in the "Month of Easter" or Ēosturmonath, equivalent to April/Aprilis[4]. The Venerable Bede, an 8th Century English Christian monk wrote in Latin:

"Eosturmonath, qui nunc paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a dea illorum quae Eostre vocabatur et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit."

Which means: "Eastermonth, which is now interpreted as the paschal month, was formerly named after the goddess Eostre, and has given its name to the festival."

In most Slavic languages, the name for Easter either means Great Day or Great Night. For example Wielkanoc and Velikonoce mean Great Night or Great Nights in Polish and Czech, respectively. Великден (Vělikděn') and Вялікдзень (Vjalikdzěn') mean 'The Great Day' in Bulgarian and Ukrainian respectively. In Serbian and Croatian, however, the day's name reflects a more particular theological connection: it is called "Uskrs," meaning 'Resurrection.'

Happy Pascha!

There is more than one name by which humans may be saved. It's a long list. These are them. End of list.

Accept no substitutes.

Apr 5, 2007

Thursday in Holy Week: Maundy or Money? Mammon or Yahweh?

The New York Times

April 4, 2007

It Didn’t End Well Last Time

Not since the Roaring Twenties have the rich been so much richer than everyone else. In 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of Americans — whose average income was $1.1 million a year — received 21.8 percent of the nation’s income, their largest share since 1929.

Over all, the top 10 percent of Americans — those making more than about $100,000 a year — collected 48.5 percent, also a share last seen before the Great Depression.

Those findings are no fluke. They follow a disturbing rise in income concentration in 2003, and a sharp increase in 2004. And the trend almost certainly continues, spurred now as then by the largess of top-tier compensation, and investment gains that also flow mainly to the top. For the bottom 90 percent of Americans who are left with half the pie, average income actually dipped in 2005. The group’s wages picked up in 2006, but not enough to make up for the lean years of this decade.

Sensing a political problem, administration officials from President Bush on down have begun acknowledging income inequality. But in their remarks, they invariably say it has been around for decades and is largely driven by technological change. Translation: “We didn’t cause it, and trying to do something about it would be silly.”

Let’s get a few things straight: First, the economic gains of the last few years have been exceptionally skewed. From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, the gap between rich and poor widened considerably, but produced nothing like today’s intense concentration of income at the very top. And from 1995 to 2000, the long trend toward inequality was interrupted by general prosperity. The richest Americans did best, propelled by stock market gains. But the lower rungs also advanced.

Second, government policies do matter. Part of the reason for the shared prosperity of the late 1990s was an increase in the minimum wage and a big expansion of the earned income tax credit. During the same period, a strong economy coupled with fiscal discipline — including tax increases, spending cuts and binding budget rules — conquered budget deficits and furthered job growth while providing a foundation for reasonably adequate social spending.

In contrast, the economic policies of the Bush years have failed to benefit most Americans. The tax cuts have overwhelmingly benefited the richest. As a result, the tax code does less to narrow the income gap now than it did as recently as 2000. At the same time, important social spending has been cut. That exacerbates disparities, because middle-class and poor Americans use government services more than affluent Americans.

The nation needs an administration that will offer solutions for the scourge of income inequality.

Apr 4, 2007

Wednesday in Holy Week: How to Follow Jesus.

When Jesus asks us to take up his purpose in the Great Commisiion, it is like asking a drowning man to become a lifeguard.
And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.

Leonard Cohen, Suzanne

Apr 3, 2007

Tuesday in Holy Week: How Not to Follow Jesus.

I had lunch with a friend today. In our far-ranging discussions about urban and sub-urban planning issues, she discussed her attempts (along with her husband) to get a Homeowners' Association started for their suburban neighborhood.

They had a block party, organized interest, and created a temporary name: Briarcreek Homeowners' Association. Enthusiasm ran high.

For their next meeting/event, they sent out announcements, only now one of the organizers had changed the name to something that sounded friendlier to him: The Briarcreek Neighborhood Fellowship.

Almost nobody came.

The overwhelming response through follow-up phone calls was, "I saw the name 'Fellowship', and thought it was a church." In a mostly Anglo middle-class community, where perhaps 70% of the people do not attend a church, anything that even sounded like a church was the kiss of death.

Lesson: If you want to reach the un-churched/under-churched with the Good News of Jesus Christ, don't invite them to church. "Church" is itself the kiss of death.

Apr 2, 2007

Monday in Holy Week: How Not to Follow Jesus.

I saw this bumper-sticker on a car this morning as I was leaving my men's Christian accountability small-group meeting. At first, I liked it, but within a few moments I began to see it differently. I began to see it as someone who didn't just come from an early morning meeting of disciples of Jesus. I saw it through the eyes of a lost soul, and my enthusiasm drained away.

This may well be the least "Christian" bumper sticker I've ever seen. Much like Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the Temple, this message combines Triumphalism with Works Righteousness into a deadly "one-two" punch.

This message confirms the opinion many non-Christians have that Christians are judgemental, self-righteous, and intolerant, while possessing a victimization complex, too. Instead of being "as gentle as a dove, and wise as a serpent," this sticker announces someone as being "gentle as a snake, and wise as a pigeon."
It was bumper stickers like this that led me to produce the Jesus Prayer bumper stickers – "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on Me, a Sinner."

See the difference? Repent and proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord. It's a big difference from the message behind "I Pray. Get Used to It."

I once considered making bumper stickers for today's Pharisees: "I'm Saved. To Hell with You!" The message on that little Toyota may well achieve the same effect.

Morningside 1980

I took this picture of the sunlight refected on a wall in my driveway in 1980, not knowing for sure what I was taking a picture of. I can see it today.

Can you?