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He may be anti-choice and conservative on some key social issues, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered for the anti-war cause today. By a vote of 50-48-2 the provision of the war spending bill demanding a one year time-line for withdrawal from Iraq survived a challenge that included 2 members of the Democratic Party and one member of the recently formed it’s-all-about-me Party.

The latter is of course Joe “let’s-make-the-Senate-a-House-of-Lords” Lieberman, who was on NPR this morning whining that the provision would result in a presidential veto – a promise that probably kept some of the anti-war votes in line. Reid managed to keep DLC-type Democrats like Ben Nelson in line, and scored two Republican votes to offset the weenie factor in the Democratic Party. Kos has the details in the link above.

The bill still has to be reworked to reconcile with the House bill which is a bit more stringent. CNN has a few more details.

Meanwhile, give credit to Reid. And let the president veto troop funding if that’s his wish.

Meanwhile, these Republicans are facing tough re-election campaigns next year. Their opponents have an issue.

Norm Coleman (MN)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Cornyn (TX)
Liddy Dole (NC)
Pete Domenici (NM)
Mitch McConnel (KY)
Pete Sessions (AL)
John Sununu (NH)
John Warner (VA)

This bill won’t end the war. But it drastically reshapes the debate. It’s not a question now of if we pull out, but when.

The photo is from Wikipedia.


Yet another storm brewing. I haven’t had a whole lot of free time lately, but I will follow up on my promise to cover the issues of the Security National Balloon Track proposal.

From the Eureka Reporter:

A Balloon Track maintenance project that Citizens For Real Economic Growth’s spokesman Larry Evans referred to as “poorly considered and poorly documented” was stopped a day after it was begun.

Security National CUE VI started the project on Thursday, with plans to apply clean and crushed aggregate rock to its vacant Eureka parcel’s existing roadways, which, SN said, have not been maintained for close to 10 years.

“Concerned citizens and local community environmental and good government groups first became alarmed by the description of ground-disturbing work that could encroach on protected wetlands, as well as risking potentially dangerous releases of toxic wastes contaminating the site,” Evans stated in a news release.

One of the phone calls CREG and others made was to Eureka Community Development Department Director Kevin Hamblin.

Hamblin told The Eureka Reporter that when SN first approached the city in October 2006 with repair and maintenance questions and asked if a coastal-development permit was required, SN was told that per the state Coastal Act “road maintenance including road grading of potholes and things like that” was exempt.

But the exception is that “you can’t have mechanized equipment within 50 feet of the edge of an environmentally sensitive habitat area,” Hamblin said.

“They were just asking what was exempt and we told them,” he said. “They were getting ready to do (the) work (and) we started to receive a lot of complaints and concerns on Thursday.”

The city went to inspect, but it didn’t seem that SN was “going anywhere but on their roads,” Hamblin said.

“We were following the rules for the abatement of a nuisance, to allow needed emergency access for fire equipment, medical services and police,” SN Senior Vice President Brian Morrissey said in an e-mail response to The Eureka Reporter’s inquiry about the maintenance activities. “We invited Coastal Commission and city staff to observe our work to further ensure that no ESHAs were harmed.”

CREG said heavy equipment and “industrial-scale bilge pumps sprayed potentially contaminated water out of potholes.” Morrissey contends none of the work traversed into a wetland area.

More details in the article listed above. According to Hamblin as quoted in Hank Sims’ Town Dandy column of last week, the project shouldn’t draw much public attention until August. I figured I had some time, but it looks like the issue may already be heating up.

Shortly after I was drawn into the discussion I had an interesting conversation with Security National representative Brian Morrissey which as I’ve said appealed to my blue side as opposed to my green – Brian has said that they may be releasing local economic impact information that is more up to date than the BAE report based on a study made before the doomed Wal-Mart proposal of 9 years ago. For a summary of issues from the project opposition’s point of view click here (contains several pertinent links). Security National commissioned a poll released shortly before last fall’s election which indicates strong support for the project in Eureka, support which may have been reflected in the Eureka City Council race results. Assuming the poll was accurate, the question is whether that support will hold once these permit and court battles are underway.

For those who want to catch up there are numerous articles including this (biased but substantially accurate) timeline and a recent series in the Times Standard. The North Coast Journal had a very comprehensive cover story some months ago as well but I don’t have time to sort out a search right now as their are dozens of stories there which incorporate “balloon track.” Some help Hank?

Meanwhile, I guess I have to pull out my Balloon Track file and dust it off.

Photo is from Balloon Track Watch.

Debate with a HereticThe above painting is entitled Scene from the Life of St. Thomas Aquinas: The Debate with the Heretic, by Bartolomeo degli Erri, believed to be painted around 1465. It’s part of the collection at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (you can zoom in on the image here). I’ve seen it so many times over the years and probably thought too much about it.

I’m assuming that the black robed figure is Aquinas. He appears twice in the painting, arguing and piously praying to St. Mary. But wasn’t Aquinas accused of heresy? Is he the heretic, or is he arguing with one? The commentary on the wall of the museum suggests that his opponent is the heretic with the darkness of the outside of the church behind him. It also speculates as to whether the heretic is Jewish, or something I read makes the suggestion anyway. On the other hand, the heretic appears to be backed up by clergy, unless their physical positioning is coincidence.

Don’t know why this painting has my attention, but every time I visit the museum I spend some time looking at it. It’s not particularly brilliantly crafted. Has to be the subject matter. Aquinas is of course credited with paving the way for the Renaissance and ultimately the Enlightenment at least in terms of the power of reason, except as it applies to “theological virtue.” But he gave license to reason.

Now the object of the theological virtues is God Himself, Who is the last end of all, as surpassing the knowledge of our reason. On the other hand, the object of the intellectual and moral virtues is something comprehensible to human reason. Wherefore the theological virtues are specifically distinct from the moral and intellectual virtues.

The Summa Theologica, Of the Theological Virtues

The theological virtues assigned to humanity are faith, hope, and charity, all of which are to be independent of reason. All else is in the human realm is within the purview of reason. From the same source:

Faith and hope imply a certain imperfection: since faith is of things unseen, and hope, of things not possessed. Hence faith and hope, in things that are subject to human power, fall short of the notion of virtue. But faith and hope in things which are above the capacity of human nature surpass all virtue that is in proportion to man, according to 1 Cor. 1:25: “The weakness of God is stronger than men.”

I can live with that. Even a secularist like me acknowledges faith, that despite all of the aspects of human nature that divide us, there is something above (or beneath the surface) that connects us and can’t be broken by our shortcomings. At least I like to see it that way.

Time for bed.

Captain Buhne notes – doesn’t look good.

Looks like O7 is a bad year for Humboldt Festivals, North Country Fair excepted.