The Gypsy's Caravan

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Open Letter to Mr LIEberman

Good Morning, Mr Lieberman,

Soon you will be senator no longer. I'm here to tell you that I did not appreciate your vote on the Alito nomination.{Lieberman voted for cloture, with the Republicans AGAIN} Because you have no spine, and refuse to stand up for progressive values, I will do everything that I can to defeat you in the next election. That means voting for anyone who opposes you including a republican, if I have to. I visited the website of your opposition in the primary, and pledged my campaign contribution, as soon as your vote was recorded.

Oh yeah, I am a lifelong member of the Democratic party, and I have never once voted for a republican. I'd rather have an honest to goodness republican in office, if it means that you are gone. It will force the Democratic party to run someone else next time.

NO THANKS, to you!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Can anyone say "Warmest January in Recent Memory"?

No, Mr Bush, PHOTOS Did Not Disgrace the US

In this morning's news, Mr Bush is more worried about the semblance of disgrace than the disgraceful way our soldiers in Iraq were encouraged by our secret police to misuse and murder prisoners.

He points out that in publishing this material "I know it caused a lot of people who want to like us to question whether they should," Bush said, adding "equally importantly, it gave the enemy an incredible propaganda tool.

"That's why it was important for us to investigate, to expose, to hold people to account, so people see there was a consequence for the behaviour,"

Seriously, a propaganda tool??? People die, are horribly maimed and humiliated, and he mourns that we provided them with a Propaganda tool? Did all that cocaine and alcohol strip Mr Bush of all his humanity, or was he never taught it in the first place?

So, what are these consequences for Mr Rumsfeld? How about Dick Cheney - who insisted, and keeps insisting that we need to keep using these proscribed behaviors? How about you, Mr Bush? What are your consequences? When you signed the bill written by Senator McCain and voted for overwhelmingly by both houses of congress, you made it clear that you had no intention of obeying that law.

When do we get to witness your perp walk?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Rapture

Why is it, that when you talk about the Rapture, there are thousands of people who literally believe it, and do not think it's a squirrelly idea.

Alternatively, when you talk about the space aliens coming in a huge mothership to beam up the believers, everyone knows you are effing out of your mind.

...just saying.

Dragon Blogging

The Artsy Fartsy Photos - OSV

Click on this one to see the droplets of rain clinging to the branches.

Making cheese

Thursday, January 26, 2006

... And Thank Goodness Someone Is Standing Up For Their Views!

Go and Read : L A Times Writer Defends Incendiary Column

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles Times columnist who infuriated conservatives by writing that he does not support American troops fighting in Iraq -- and calling those who do "wusses" -- stood by the article on Tuesday.

Joel Stein said he has been "bombarded" by hate mail over the incendiary article -- which was headlined "Warriors and Wusses" and held that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were "ignoring their morality" -- but does not regret writing it and stands by the premise.

"I don't support what they are doing, and I don't the see point of putting a big yellow magnet on your car if you don't," Stein told Reuters in an interview. "I don't think (soldiers) are necessarily bad people. I do plenty of things that are wrong too. But I don't agree with what they are doing so I don't see the logic of supporting it."

Barbara Boxer is Right About Alito

Here is the text of a speech that Senator Boxer delivered yesterday, laying out her opposition to the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Today, I am announcing my opposition to the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.

According to Article II of the Constitution, justices of the Supreme Court may not be appointed by the president without the advice and consent of the United States Senate. So it is our solemn duty to consider each nomination carefully, keeping in mind the interests of the American people. And this nomination is particularly crucial because the stakes have rarely been so high.

First, consider the context in which this nomination comes before us. The seat that Judge Alito has been nominated for is now held by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who came to the Court in 1981.

For years, Justice O'Connor has provided the tie-breaking vote and a commonsense voice of reason in some of the most important cases to come before the Court, including a woman's right to choose, civil rights, and freedom of religion.

Second, consider the tumultuous political climate in our nation. President Bush understood that in 2000 when he promised to govern from the center, and be "a uniter, not a divider." Sadly, this nomination shows that he has forgotten that promise because it is notnfrom the center and it is not uniting the nation.

The right thing to do would have been to give us a justice in the mold of Justice O'Connor, and that is what the president should have done.

Let me be clear: I do not deny Judge Alito's judicial qualifications. He has been a government lawyer and judge for more than 20 years and the American Bar Association rated him well qualified. He is an intelligent and capable person. His family should be proud of him and all Americans should be proud that the American dream was there for the Alito family.

But after reviewing the hearing record and the record of his statements, writings and rulings over the past 24 years, I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong person for this job.

I am deeply concerned about how Justice Alito will impact the ability of other families to live the American dream -- to be assured of privacy in their homes and their personal lives, to be secure in their neighborhoods, to have fair treatment in the workplace, and to have confidence that the power of the executive branch will be checked.

As I reviewed Judge Alito's record, I asked whether he will vote to preserve fundamental American liberties and values --

Will Justice Alito vote to uphold Congress' constitutional power to pass laws to protect Americans' health, safety, and welfare? Judge Alito's record says NO.

In the 1996 Rybar case, Judge Alito voted to strike down the federal ban on the transfer or possession of machine guns because he believed it exceeded Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. His Third Circuit colleagues sharply criticized his dissent and said that it ran counter to "a basic tenet of the constitutional separation of powers." And Judge Alito's extremist view has been rejected by six other circuit courts and the Supreme Court. Judge Alito stood alone and failed to protect our families.

In a case concerning worker protection, Judge Alito was again in the minority when he said that federal mine health and safety standards did not apply to a coal processing site. He tried to explain it as just a "technical issue of interpretation." I fear for the safety of our workers if Judge Alito's narrow, technical reading of the law should ever prevail.

Will Justice Alito vote to protect the right to privacy, especially a woman's reproductive freedom? Judge Alito's record says NO.

We have all heard about Judge Alito's 1985 job application, in which he wrote that the constitution does not protect the right of a woman to choose. He was given the chance to disavow that position during the hearings -- and he refused to do so. He had the chance to say, as Judge Roberts did, that Roe v. Wade is settled law, and he refused.

He had the chance to explain his dissent in the Casey decision, in which he argued that the Pennsylvania spousal notification requirement was not an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion because it would affect only a small number of women, but he refused to back away from his position. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, found the provision to be unconstitutional, and Justice O'Connor, co-writing for the Court, criticized the faulty analysis supported by Judge Alito, saying that "the analysis does not end with the one percent of women" affected... "it begins there."

To my mind, Judge Alito's ominous statements and narrow-minded reasoning clearly signal a hostility to women's rights, and portend a move back toward the dark days when abortion was illegal in many states, and many women died as a result. In the 21st century, it is astounding that a Supreme Court nominee would not view Roe v. Wade as settled law when its fundamental principle -- a woman's right to choose -- has been reaffirmed many times since it was decided.

Will Justice Alito vote to protect Americans from unconstitutional searches? Judge Alito's record says NO.

In Doe v. Groody in 2004, he said a police strip search of a 10-year-old girl was lawful, even though their search warrant didn't name her. Judge Alito said that even if the warrant did not actually authorize the search of the girl, "a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so..." This casual attitude toward one of our most basic constitutional guarantees -- the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches -- is almost shocking. As Judge Alito's own Third Circuit Court said regarding warrants, "a particular description is the touchstone of the Fourth Amendment." We certainly do not need Supreme Court justices who do not understand this fundamental constitutional protection.

Will Justice Alito vote to let citizens stop companies from polluting their communities? Judge Alito's record says NO.

In the Magnesium Elektron case, Judge Alito voted to make it harder for citizens to sue for toxic emissions that violate the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, in another case several years later, the Supreme Court rejected the Third Circuit and Alito's narrow reading of the law. Judge Alito doesn't seem to care about a landmark environmental law.

Will Justice Alito vote to let working women and men have their day in court against employers who discriminate against them? Judge Alito's record says NO.

In 1997, in the Bray case, Judge Alito was the only judge on the Third Circuit to say that a hotel employee claiming racial discrimination could not take her case to a jury.

In the Sheridan case, a female employee sued for discrimination, alleging that after she complained about incidents of sexual harassment, she was demoted and marginalized to the point that she was forced to quit. By a vote of 10 to 1, the Third Circuit found for the plaintiff.

Guess who was the one? Only Judge Alito thought the employee should have to show that discrimination was the "determinative cause" of the employer's action. Using his standard would make it almost impossible for a woman claiming discrimination in the workplace to get to trial.

Finally, will Justice Alito be independent from the executive branch that appointed him, and be a vote against power grabs by the president? Judge Alito's record says NO.

As a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, he authored a memo suggesting a new way for the president to encroach on Congress' lawmaking powers. He said that when the president signs a law, he should make a statement about the law, giving it his own interpretation, whether it was consistent with what Congress had written or not. He wrote that this would "get in the last word on questions of interpretation" of the law. In the hearings, Judge Alito refused to back away from this memo.

When asked whether he believed the president could invade another country, in the absence of an imminent threat, without first getting the approval of the American people, of Congress, Judge Alito refused to rule it out.

When asked if the president had the power to authorize someone to engage in torture, Alito refused to answer.

The Administration is now asserting vast powers, including spying on American citizens without seeking warrants -- in clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- violating international treaties, and ignoring laws that ban torture. We need justices who will put a check on such overreaching by the executive, not rubberstamp it. Judge Alito's record and his answers at the hearings raise very serious doubts about his commitment to being a strong check on an 'imperial president.'

In addition to these substantive matters, I remain concerned about Judge Alito's answers regarding his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton and his failure to recuse himself from the Vanguard case, which he had promised to do.

During the hearings, we all felt great compassion for Mrs. Alito when she became emotional in reaction to the tough questions her husband faced in the Judiciary Committee. Everyone in politics knows how hard it is for families when a loved one is asked tough questions. It is part of a difficult process, and whoever said politics is not for the faint of heart was right.

Emotions have run high during this process. That's understandable. But I wish the press have focused more on the tears of those who will be affected if Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito and his out-of-the mainstream views prevail.

I worry about the tears of a worker who, having failed to get a promotion because of discrimination, is denied the opportunity to pursue her claim in court.

I worry about the tears of a mentally ill woman who is forced by law to tell her husband that she wants to terminate her pregnancy and is afraid that he will leave her or stop supporting her.

I worry about the tears of a young girl who is strip searched in her own home by police who have no valid warrant.

I worry about the tears of a mentally retarded man, who has been brutally assaulted in his workplace, when his claim of workplace harassment is dismissed by the court simply because his lawyer failed to file a well written brief on his behalf.

These are real cases in which Judge Alito has spoken.

Fortunately, he did not prevail in these cases. But if he goes to the Supreme Court, he will have a much more powerful voice -- a radical voice that will replace a voice of moderation and balance.

Perhaps the most important statement Judge Alito made during the entire hearing process was when he told the Judiciary Committee that he expects to be the same kind of justice on the Supreme Court as he has been a judge on the Circuit Court.

That is precisely the problem. As a judge, Samuel Alito seemed to approach his cases with an analytical coldness that reflected no concern for the human consequences of his reasoning.

Listen to what he said about a case involving an African-American man convicted of murder by an all white jury in a courtroom where the prosecutors had eliminated all African-American jurors in many previous murder trials as well.

Judge Alito dismissed this evidence of racial bias and said that the jury makeup was no more relevant than the fact that left-handers have won five of the last six presidential elections. When asked about this analogy during the hearings, he said it "went to the issue of statistics... (which) is a branch of mathematics, and there are ways to analyze statistics so that you draw sound conclusions from them..."

That response would have been appropriate for a college math professor, but it is deeply troubling from a potential Supreme Court justice.

As the great jurist and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote in 1881, "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience... The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics."

What Holmes meant is that the law is a living thing, that those who interpret it must do so with wisdom and humanity, and with an understanding of the consequences of their judgments for the lives of the people they affect.

It is with deep regret that I conclude that Judge Alito's judicial philosophy lacks this wisdom, humanity and moderation. He is simply too far out of the mainstream in his thinking. His opinions demonstrate neither the independence of mind nor the depth of heart that I believe we need in our Supreme Court justices, particularly at this crucial time in our nation's history.

That is why I will oppose this nomination.


And I agree, wishing that my elected representatives would represent ME, rather than the corporate interests that have bought their vote. I'm talking to you, Mr LIEberman!

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Old Sturbridge Village Farms & Mills

The colonial farmer plowed with a pair of oxen. I recently found out that oxen are gelded bulls. The farmer typically would have 8 acres a year under the plow. It takes about one day to plow an acre that way. I would have thought they would have had much more land in production than that!

The Blacksmith Shop:

The former smithy was a wooden building which burnt down some years ago. They searched New England for a stone smithy of the right age and moved it to this setting.

Female Blacksmiths were rare to nonexistant in colonial society, yet now the majority of blacksmiths in this country are women. The smith at Mystic seaport told me that the premier blacksmith in the world right now is a woman.

The Sawmill:

The sawmill from across the mill pond

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The OSV Tin Shop

The most interesting tour that we took at Old Sturbridge Village was the 50 year retrospective that traced the changes in the new country for the fifty years starting just before the revolution. In that 50 years we went from farming communities mostly living and exporting produce - to being the China of the late 18th century.

By 1830, New England was the shoe capital of the world, we had something like 10 glassworks. We were the cheap labor zone for the Western world's publishing business, importing raw materials and exporting finished books to England and Europe.

Tin was that era's plastic - made to be used and when broken, thrown away. The Village has two tin shops, one is the production shop for trade thru the colonies, and the other is for the local trade.

A group of tools for the tinsmith.

A neighbor comes by to drop something off.

Cups waiting for handles, a wall sconce waiting for the reflector.

A big anvil for large projects, small anvil for cups and candleholders.

A pre-electric soldering iron. They made their own flux out of pine sap.

Turning the edge on a candle shade.

Sorry for the fuzzy photos, but the flash was too overpowering for these small inside spaces. The Gypsy dark photo technique: Inhale, exhale, inhale exhale and hold it out, jam your shoulder up against the wall, click the shutter and try to hold really still until the shutter stops buzzing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

OSV Pottery Shop

This was the main attraction for me, and I think for my daughter too. Thursday the pottery shop was closed up and you could only look at the outside of the building.

This big bruiser is a beehive kiln, must be 16 feet tall. It takes two people three days and 2 1/2 cords of wood to fire. That's around the clock stoking from a pile of wood stacked 10 ft by 10 ft by 8 ft. I was impressed. Thank goodness we have electric kilns with computer controlled heat cycles.

So, we went back on Saturday, a relatively warm dark rainy day. When we got to the pottery shop they were giving a class to neophytes, and we really didn't get to talk to the potter that much. Oh Well!

This is their glaze mill. Hand powered, you pour the ingredients in the hole at the top, along with water, and crank the pole around and around. The finished glaze pours out into a bucket from a hole in the front

Using minerals and clay that are in the area, this servicable pottery is in the typical colors of the era. Their pottery was the every day sort, meant to be used and when broken, thrown away. the fine china for the best tables was all imported from europe, and highly prized and coddled.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Old Sturbridge Village

One very cool thing about Sturbridge Village is that they let you go twice on your ticket. The village is on 250 acres of fields and forest, with antique representative buildings moved there from all over New England.

The first day we went, thursday, was sunny and in the low 50's. There were puddles of melt water everywhere. I can imagine in the late 1700's the mess that would have been, with horse and cow pies everywhere, and long skirts to drag in the mud.

We met a pig named Rufus..

...Had the docents mostly to ourselves...

..and came back on Saturday, in the rain at 58 degrees, for all the stunning moody pics.

More to come later.

* click on the title for the Old Sturbridge Village official site.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Saturday Gypsy Blogging

I almost used this pic for my gypsy icon....

Friday, January 13, 2006

More From the Reservoir

I love the reflections on the water as it goes over the edge.

The new camera even got the spray as the water boils on the rocks in the above left pic, which has frozen on the rocks and weeds in the right and bottom pics.

Morning Snow Shower

I was trying to catch the big fat flakes as they were drifting down, when I noticed the two birds in the tree.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Feeling Better Now

I'd like to thank everyone for your get well wishes, and welcome Techguy and Lily to my campfire. My cold is over, now there's just the catching up to do.

( I love to take and share photos, and if you ever want a full copy of any of my pics, just let me know, and I'll be glad to email you one. )

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Reservoir

Blogger finally got the pics uploaded, gotta go to work!! More commentary later...

My Daughter is here visiting from Oregon. On Sunday, we went to the nearby IMAX theatre to see the new Harry Potter movie. Absolutely great! They did a fantastic job. It's been a couple of years since I read the book, and I don't know how close to the original they kept, but I didn't have any brain farts over it, as I did with the Trilogy of the Rings.

After the movie, we took my new camera, (and the old one) to a place that Hubby knew in his youth. We drove on over there, and the access to the resevoir has a one lane only bridge, where you have to take turns with the oncoming traffic lane. The lake behind the dam was half melted, the open water still as a mirror.

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