Monday, November 27
Read the whole heartwarming tale here.
I knew it was just a matter of time before the "war on Christmas(TM)" would intersect with the war in Iraq, but jeez.
OK... the homeowners' association have since changed their minds.
Sunday, November 26
Many years ago, I saw a heist film. I don't remember the title. I
don't remember many of the actors. I don't remember the plot. The
only detail I remember is the end: a bus with all the robbers in the
front, all the gold in the back, and the bus balanced on a cliff
ledge with the people in front being the only weight keeping the
whole thing from crashing over the side.
At this point, Michael Cane says something along the lines of "okay,
I've got a plan..." and the ending credits roll.
This is what I think of when I see our elder statesmen claim that
we're doing the right thing in Iraq and that we have a plan of some
sort to solve problems there, or that we're investigating options and
performing yet another study. Picture that same bus on the cliff,
but with a fire in the fuel line. Imagine that instead of gold in
back, its a group of young Iraqis who are trapped in rubble and
instead of robbers, its solders that have climbed in there to try to
But sure, "we'll succeed unless we quit."
When we invaded Iraq, I was teaching an interpersonal and small group
discussion class-- they wanted to have a discussion on the topic of
the invasion, and I facilitated it-- the results were a microcosm of
the population: in a group of nine, three were adamantly in support
of the invasion. Three were unambiguously opposed. The other three
weren't sure. In deeper discussion, it was clear: the three who were
unsure were opposed to it, but they felt an obligation to support
their country. This is similar to what happened nationally: right
before the invasion, support for it was weak. Immediately after, it
Later, I was telling friends that this would drop off: the 1/3rd or
so of the country which was willing to give tentative support for the
war, they didn't really like it, but they hoped it would work out
okay. This is cognitive dissonance at work: reality conflicts with
your beliefs, and you can't change reality, so you change your
beliefs. It's temporary.
This year, the support for the invasion of Iraq finally stretched the
limits of the cognitive dissonance-- it's become more and more clear
to everybody that there is nothing -working- about this invasion, no
nuggets of good they can cling to. Some still try, but I think more
and more, the remaining support for our continuing occupation is a
desperation: the bus teetering on the cliff and no one having a clue
as to how to escape it, but dead certain we can come up with some
sort of plan that will take care of everything.
I don't have anything funny, or clever, or pithy to say here.
A lot of us saw this coming years ago.
I -so- wish that we were wrong.
Friday, November 24
These are relatively rare birds in the Northeast-- we tend to see them only during a brief migration period, so I thought it unlikely that we'd get to see them again anytime soon. This year, however, we managed to spot a whimbrel in a flock of geese and as I kept taking pictures, more joined it, and they kept walking -closer- to us. This is one of the best shots I got of it-- clicking on the picture brings you to a larger version, with more detail.
Thursday, November 23
Friday, November 17
Imagine this scene, with the birds flying right by you as they take off from an open field.
As usual, the pictures, just barely do it justice.
The picture links to four thumbnails from my visit to Dead Creek last Wednesday.
Monday, November 13
Apparently, those of us who hold different positions on the hot-button issues as framed by social conservatives — those of us who turn our attention and hearts to other imperatives such as peace-making, poverty relief, environmental preservation and tolerance — have no values. According to the rhetoric of social conservatives, progressives are the "anything goes" lot. Secularists, liberal Christians and followers of other faiths — we're the ones tearing America down with our moral weakness and hostility to the conservative Christian worldview.[snip]
Dwight Moody, a Baptist minister and writer on religion and culture, had this to say about values in a recent e-mail exchange with me: "Progressives, moderates and liberals are also undergirded by deeply held moral convictions, much of it driven by a religious and Christian view of the world: the value of creation, the dignity of the human person, the need for equity and justice, the cause of the poor and the dispossessed. These are values rarely articulated by the religious right, but they run deep and wide in the Bible."http://www.commondreams.org/views06/1113-26.htm
Sunday, November 12
Sorry-- lost track of the weekend, as we took a nice ride down to the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. While there, we saw many good things, including this snowy owl. Parker River, located on Plum Island out of Newburyport, MA, is one of my favorite places to do birding-- you can see my whole archive of Plum Island photos by clicking here.
Soggy day, but great sightings. In addition to the owl, we saw an american bittern (very close) as well as ring-necked ducks, a pie-billed grebe, buffleheads, a northern mockingbird, a flock of snow buntings and much, much, more.
Friday, November 10
...I found myself giving up on most of my work for a few days to
watch the Massachusetts constitutional convention. It was a
wonderful object lesson in how a single issue can drive an entire
As the Massachusetts legislature debated, something became clear: in
Vermont, when civil unions were established, they were seen as
radical and a major change by those who opposed same-sex marriage.
Shortly after, when Massachusetts was debating, civil unions were
suddenly the only conservative option. There was no chance of
passage of any legislation which didn't support some form of
acceptance for same sex unions.
In Vermont, Democrats suffered a major defeat the next election
cycle, which was quickly reversed. Today, their majority is not only
strong, but strong enough to override a veto if necessary.
In Massachusetts, the legislative body simply chose not to act on
their Supreme Judicial Court ruling, allowing it to stand, though it
took much argument and sometimes vicious rhetoric to get there. A
number of people were angered by this and attempted to produce their
own amendment to the constitution in Massachusetts to eliminate the
scourge of gay marriage and, apparently, protect their own marriage.
Well, they needed legislative consent to make such an amendment and
it turns out they didn't get it. The legislature didn't vote it up
or down. They simply ignored it. Not the most aggressive stance
one way or the other, but still a completely appropriate punt.
The people who oppose same-sex marriage have an option here: they can
elect a new legislature, one who will heed their concerns. They have
that right. They, however, have been failures in this regard.
Personally, that makes me happy.
I was up until 12:30 watching returns last night When I went to bed,
I thought McCaskill had lost and that the Senate would break down to
50-50. Three hours later, I woke up, only to learn that McCaskill
had, in fact, won.
I think we all owe Rush Limbaugh a great big thank you.
We've heard that a million monkeys at a million
keyboards could produce the Complete Works of
Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know
this is not true.
Thursday, November 9
I don't know whether or not his death was a crime, but the coverup of how it happened, and the reappropriation for it should be. The AP did a very thorough review of the probe of his death. Warning: this is NOT easy to read.
Wednesday, November 8
Tuesday, November 7
It didn't even occur to me that Carol Shay-Porter would win in NH-01.
I'm pretty much floored by this.
Molly Kelly seems to be in a solid lead as well, which may change the
control of New Hampshire's state senate. It's looking less and less
like Democrats will take the Senate at the national level, but even
with that, this is the best election I've seen in ages.
We took the weekend to work for the Paul Hodes campaign, realizing it was closer than we expected it to be, but still figuring he was unlikely to win. Turns out that Hodes has actually won this race. It was a sizeable margin, too.
I'm not used to working for winning candidates. I'm not sure I can identify this feeling.
I love elections, but I sort of hate them too just because I've rarely been happy with the results and these days I'm scared that the results are simply not what people claim them to be. On the plus side, the big Republican robocalling scam seems to be getting attention all over the damned place, so maybe this is one time where the dirty trick is too dirty to have escaped attention.
But, basically, it's down today to just getting people out to vote, and if the votes -are- counted accurately, it's going to be good news for the Democrats. I'm not a great fan of the Democratic party, but I'd rather have people with whom I agree 40% of the time in power than people with whom I agree 4% of the time, so there you have it.
Okay, now to breakfast, and figure out where we're going to help out today.
Monday, November 6
Okay-- first, local:
I expect in Vermont that the big winners in tomorrow's election will
be Sanders, Welch, Douglas and Dunne. Vermont Republicans will
suffer badly this time around at the local legislative level, worse
than four years ago.
In national news, I expect the House to break with 233 Democrats and
202 Republicans. I'd like to see the Republicans drop below 200 in
the house, but I don't expect it. As far as nearby races go, I
expect Paul Hodes to win in NH, which was unheard of three weeks ago.
I expect the close Senate races to reflect a six-seat gain for
Democrats, picking up Missouri Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Virginia. Ford and Pederson will both lose and Menendez
will hold his seat.
My one upset prediction is that Lamont will beat Lieberman.
I hope I'm wrong about Douglas and Pederson, but I'm probably not.
Saturday, November 4
It looks as though there are Republican robocalls happening in quite
a few states, including my neighboring New Hampshire where I'm at
work on the Hodes campaign.
The problem is that these are calls which make it sound as though
they're from the Hodes campaign, calling people over and over again,
at all hours. You don't learn that they're -not- from the Hodes
campaign until the end of the message. Of course, with a three
minute message, and multiple calls over and over again, people just
hang up, pissed off at the Hodes campaign.
As far as voter suppression tactics go, it's probably one of the more
clever ones, and it demonstrates -so- clearly that there's nothing
these people have in the way of actual -issues-.
This is politics which is toxic to its core.
We deserve better.
Friday, November 3
And carrion eater.
Yes. Bald eagles are opportunistic feeders. They'll hunt and eat live prey, but they'll also feed on a carcass of dead meat, or whatever else is available.
But, for me, when I think about the eagle, I think about the fact that we did a lot of damage to their habitat and species and still somehow managed to realize what we were doing and come back from it.
Without active and conscious effort to change the world around us, and change how we interact with the environment, our own carlessness could have easily destroyed this species. It may yet happen on the global sense, but on the macro level, we've done a lot of the necessary things that will keep them from going extinct any time soon.
Of course, it's good for them that they're opportunistic feeders, because if we don't start paying attention to another issue, they'll be all out of fish to eat. Unless we do something to head off the depletion of our oceans, we'll be in serious trouble.
Thursday, November 2
On a recent episode of the Rachel Maddow Show, she made a reference
to how the GOP had decided to pull out of several house races, one of
which was an obscure Colorado rep named Rick O'Donnell. Survey USA
has him down from his Democratic opponent by a very wide margin (last
I checked, it was 54-38 pts.).
So I'm listening to that show and thinking "why do I know that name?"
It sounds awfully familiar.
And then it hit me. That's the guy who had the health care quote
that ended up on Martha Rainville's web site.
Oh, and after the national GOP bailed on O'Donnell, the local GOP
sent out a direct mail flyer about his opponent which was designed to
look just like a sexual predator notification letter.
Now -that's- desperate.
The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton, Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn't make that known at the time. Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq died by her own hand after objecting to interrogation techniques used on prisoners.I have nothing funny, nothing pithy or clever to say about this.
I am simply disgusted.