Tuesday, July 31, 2007

But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason

(Graphic from this wonderful web site: www.corporations.org)

The Conservatarian OC Register is the gift that keeps on giving. Witness this rant on the late, lamented Fairness Doctrine:
It's difficult to imagine a greater abridgement of that constitutionally guaranteed freedom than a government agency that demands private broadcasters must air views contrary to their own. That essentially is what the former Fairness Doctrine entailed, requiring broadcasters to give free air time to opinions they disagreed with, with the risk of fines or loss of their broadcast licenses if they didn't please the government.

Thankfully, we've been rid of that heavy-handed abridgement of freedom since the Reagan administration abolished the doctrine in 1987.

Catch that? St. Ronnie, he who walked on water, or leaked water into his Depends™, was the one who abolished it.

Here's the thing, kids. While the broadcasters may be private (mostly), the airwaves they use are public, and are our property. In exchange for their use, which is a mighty gift to the private broadcasters, they were once obliged to use a small part of the airwaves for "the public interest", like, you know, news reporting, Public Service Announcements (like Civil Defense drills), and other small inconveniences.

Yet, because the "Market" hates any obligation to give anything away sans profit, and because Conservatives are all about the "Market" having its way with society, Reagan's administration overturned the Fairness Doctrine:
FCC hearings in 1987 found the doctrine provided "broadcasters with a powerful incentive not to air controversial programming" to avoid litigation over compliance disputes, according to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

That's this Kevin Martin:
Martin, a former lawyer with telecom powerhouse Wiley, Rein & Fielding LLP, has close ties to the White House, having served as deputy general counsel to the 2000 Bush campaign. His wife, Catherine, works in Vice President Cheney's office. He is a former University of North Carolina student body president and Harvard Law graduate, and was appointed to the FCC in 2001.

. . . In addition to indecency, Martin has been a strong proponent of lifting a 30-year-old prohibition on one company owning a newspaper and television station in the same city. The commissioner backed a move to eliminate the "cross-ownership" ban as part of the proposed media ownership rules passed by the FCC in 2003 and later thrown out by a federal court.

Great. Just great. And the batshit crazy Brent Bozell has this to say about Martin:
"The FCC has been delinquent in its stewardship of the public airwaves," said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, whose members have flooded the FCC with indecency complaints in recent years. "This irresponsibility must stop, and with the leadership of chairman Martin, we are confident it will."

Here's a great analysis of the Fairness Doctrine:
The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the "Fairness Doctrine" is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance. The Commission later held that stations were also obligated to actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.

Privatizing everything, including combat troops and public airwaves, has long been the goal of the Right. And their slavish devotion to the myth of the "Free Market" goes on and on and on. The OCRegister piece continues:
The complaint that talk radio is one-sided misses the point. The Constitution guarantees government will not interfere with a free press. It's the public marketplace that determines what voices ultimately are heard. Not the government. There's no shortage of soap boxes today. Regulating speech won't increase freedom. It only limits it.
Sure. Regulating speech so more than one side can get an idea out on PUBLIC AIRWAVES is a really bad idea. Why, imagine! Someone might buy almost every news media and publication to further a political agenda. Heck, they might even try to buy Dow/Jones and the WSJ . . .

Oh wait. Never mind.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Down In Mississippi

Coupla ole budz a mine done this here video a them playin' a J.B. Lenoir song. That'll be Mr. Jim Dickinson playin' a geetar, and Mr. Jimmy Crosthwait tappin' on his anteek washboard and lookin' like one a them slave patrollers (Jimmy likes rifles, don't you there, Jimbo? <wink>). Just click on that country meth lab down there ta see the durn thing. I like it, and I think ewe will tooooo!

Thank ye to a grate sight fer carryin' this lil' piece a voo-doo music.

Friday, July 27, 2007

They're going to keep trying till they get it down Pat

UPDATE: Think Progress has a guest blogger that says it better that I did or can.

I apoligize for the headline, sometimes snark is the only way I can deal with the horrors this misAdminsitration has orchestrated:
AP: New Details on Tillman's Death

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

``The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,'' a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors - whose names were blacked out - said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's
comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed.

The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Among other information contained in the documents:
- Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal
investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non- criminal, punishments.

- The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

- No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene - no one was hit by enemy
fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tell the truth. Tell me who's been fooling you?

(graphics by Dancin' Dave)
All that's missing is Royksopp's "Remind Me" playing in the background as he moves past the advert.

The DeBunker Mentality

Bush seeks to debunk critics of Iraq claims

President Bush sought anew Tuesday to highlight connections between the Al-Qaida group in Iraq and the one responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and he sharply criticized those who contend that the groups are independent of one another.
"The facts are that Al-Qaida terrorists killed Americans on 9/11, they're fighting us in Iraq and across the world, and they are plotting to kill Americans here at home again," Bush told a contingent of troops. "Those who justify withdrawing our troops from Iraq by denying the threat of Al-Qaida in Iraq and its ties to Osama bin Laden ignore the clear consequences of such a retreat."
Bush referred throughout his speech to what he said was newly declassified intelligence in his effort to draw connections between the Al-Qaida group in Iraq and the central Al-Qaida leadership. But the White House and intelligence officials declined to provide any detail on the intelligence reports that Bush cited, including their titles, dates and origins.
Newly declassified documents that no one has ever heard of? WTF!?

BTW, the 'critics' Bush seeks to debunk are actual intelligence officials who produced the latest national intelligence estimate on threats to America.
Al Qaeda in South Asia called top threat
Undercutting Bush's stance, a U.S. official says most of the network's Iraq affiliate are homegrown.

Undercutting new assertions by President Bush, a top U.S. intelligence official testified Wednesday that Al Qaeda's organization in Iraq is overwhelmingly composed of fighters from that country, and that the terrorist network's ability to operate in Pakistan poses the greater danger to the United States.

The testimony came just one day after Bush forcefully argued that Al Qaeda in Iraq is substantially controlled by foreign operatives, and that most of them would be trying to kill Americans if not for the ongoing war there.

Gistaro, who was the principal author of a recent national intelligence study on threats to America, noted that Al Qaeda in Iraq — or "AQI" as the group is known in U.S. intelligence circles — has

"expressed an interest" in launching attacks against the United States.

But he said that 90% of its members are Iraqis who joined Al Qaeda's organization there following the U.S. invasion. He estimated the group's strength at "several thousand" members and said "the bulk of AQI's resources are focused on the battle inside of Iraq."
Need I mention that AQ did not exist in Iraq before Bush invaded? And that Bush's policies have made America less safe? And that the best friend AQ has ever had has been Bush?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Walk The Prank II

Welcome to yet another (psychotic) episode of Walk The Prank.

Kids, don't try this at home. Adults, don't try this at the airport!

In a kinder, gentler era there were still airport security and X-ray machines.

Setup: The band I was with booked the Xmas holiday shows, (including New Years), for as much money as we'd made all year. The drummer then decided he had to go home for all those hollow days.

After many hours of 'discussions,' there was no changing his mind.

Prank: We decided to give him a parting gift. We drove him to the airport, saw him to his gate and gave him his christmas gift. It was from all of us. The box contained his favorite drumsticks, gilded and inscribed with his name.

Unbeknownst to him we'd also cut the shape of a .45 caliber pistol out of tinfoil. We inserted said tinfoil between the wrapping paper and box of our gift. We saw him off at the gate and handed him his gift.

He was touched.

Fun part: Observing from the balcony as he was detained and searched over and over while he missed his flight.

Extra fun part: He was touched ... in the way only a jailhouse matron can do.

(Maybe you had to be there;-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 15

I saw a guitarist once, in a little club, in 1969, who knocked me on my ass. I wrote about him over 2 years ago here:
Chicago Transit Authority, Fall 1969, The White Room, Anaheim, CA

On their first pass through LA, they played The Shrine Friday night. My girlfriend saw them, heard them say that they were playing in OC Saturday night, and made me go. In a tiny room, on a stage 12 inches high, horns blasting, they created a sound totally new at the time. This was the Chicago of "25 or 6 to 4", not "Color My World." This was the Chicago of Terry Kath, and Peter Cetera before anyone told him he was a star. This was a bunch of guys living in a ratty house in Hollywood, playing their asses off, making new music.

In the '60s, as previously, ALL bands started out as Top-40 bands. Think I'm wrong? Look at The Beatles' and Stones' first albums: full of great covers. The great bands eventually wrote their own music, but still, it was common to cover other artists' great songs. The Spencer Davis Group's first 3 hits (Keep On Runnin', Gimme Some Lovin', and I'm A Man) were all popular with bands of the time.

CTA, later shortened to Chicago, started off as an eclectic R'n'B/Rock band, using sharp instrumental skills and the somewhat unusual addition of a horn section to create some tough, hard rock, but with jazzy influences and sensibilities. None of us at the time had heard anything like them.

Here they are doing their cover of "I'm A Man", originally a vehicle for young Stevie Winwood's weary beyond his years full throated blues singing. Instead it became a rave-up for Terry Kath, today's under-appreciated guitarist. Sadly, 2 things kept Kath from guitarist superstardom: Chicago's descent into maudlin pop noodling, and his shooting himself dead. Sadly, both fatal incidents.

Here's a promo video for the Spencer Davis Group version: compare, contrast:

And here's more Chicago live, with Kath on lead vocals. Dude could sing, too. Sad...

I still hear him screaming "where do I hide?", And he asks and I say "hurry inside"

Yeah, kind of a cheap laugh, but I've had a headache all day, so this was easier than some of the other ideas I had of what to put up George's ass. Maybe we should have a contest of "What did they find up Bush's butt?" His brain? Karl Rove? IED's? Sean Hannity? His next policy decision? On second thought, maybe it's best we don't know.

The TSA Goes All the Way ... or ... Sex Cells

(via skippy)
Alarm at US right to highly personal data

Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.
In a strongly worded document drawn up in response to the plan that will affect the 4 million-plus Britons who travel to the US every year, the EU parliament said it 'notes with concern that sensitive data (ie personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of individuals) will be made available to the DHS and that these data may be used by the DHS in exceptional cases'.

Under the new agreement, which goes live at the end of this month, the US will be able to hold the records of European passengers for 15 years compared with the current three year limit.
The new agreement will see US authorities gain access to detailed passenger information, from credit card details to home addresses and even what sort of food may have been ordered before a flight. In addition, US authorities will be free to add other information they have obtained about a passenger, leading to concerns about how the information will be shared.
Well thank you for sharing ... people's most personal info with folks who've proved they can't tell a toddler from a terrorist!

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shame, Come Back, Shame

For these folks, shame left the building a long time ago

One of the high-priced lawyers who have sucked $47 million out of the $1 billion World Trade Center insurance fund is infamous for defending companies that manufactured Agent Orange, a pregnancy drug linked to cancer, and defective breast implants. James Tyrrell, a partner in the law firm Patton Boggs, is hailed in legal circles as the "master of disaster" and the "devil's advocate."

Another lawyer, Thomas Jones, serves simultaneously as secretary of the WTC Captive Insurance Co., which manages the $1 billion FEMA fund, and as partner in theChicago-based McDermott Will & Emery, the fund's legal counsel.

In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan last week, 9/11 responders blasted the Captive's mounting expenses - $75 million so far, including $47 million on law firms - and Jones' alleged "conflict of interest."

They charged the city-run WTC Captive is a cash cow for its employees, consultants and lawyers, and has "squandered" money that should go to 10,000 cops, firefighters and other workers with illnesses blamed on toxic exposure at Ground Zero. It has paid just $45,000 to a carpenter who fell off a ladder.
Documents obtained by The Post show that eight senior partners at McDermott, Will & Emery, including Thomas, can each bill the insurance fund $618 an hour. The partners first billed a "discounted" $550 an hour, but that fee was raised 6 percent in 2005, and 6 percent again last year.

Under the same agreement, junior partners in the firm can bill $389 to $484 an hour; associates $223 to $242 an hour, and paralegals $150 to $200 an hour.
Nice work if you can get it.

Mayor Bloomberg in another article stated:
"The truth of the matter is, Congress didn't set up a victims' compensation fund," the mayor said. "We'd like them to do that, we've asked for that; they set up a captive insurance company. And the insurance company can only pay out monies if somebody sues us in court and wins a judgment against us."

If that was true then why has $47 million gone to lawyers to defend the contractors and $45 thousand gone to payments?

And it sure seems a long way from what Mayor Bloomberg said previously:
In a joint press release on March 21, 2003 with Governor Pataki, announcing the legislation that allowed for the formation of the WTC Captive, Mayor Bloomberg is quoted as saying that "This legislation is necessary for the City to expedite the payment of claims relating to this effort."
Yet 6 years later only lawyers have been paid, and paid not to expedite but to impede payments to first responders and others who responded to search for survivors/recover bodies and clean up the debris from the 9/11 disaster.

It's bad enough that the EPA, (via a Bush political hack who overruled scientists at the request of Bush ), said the air was safe for these workers. Now the money alloted to them is being spent fighting their claims.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

So baby, please stop crying 'cause it's tearing up my mind

For the whiners on all sides who complain that the Dems aren't getting anything done, this should end that once and for all:
This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress.

The trend has been evolving for 30 years. The reasons behind it are too complex to pin on one party. But it has been especially pronounced since the Democrats' razor-thin win in last year's election, giving them effectively a 51-49 Senate majority, and the Republicans' exile to the minority.

Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate.

This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs.

Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., forced an all-night session on the Iraq war this week to draw attention to what Democrats called Republican obstruction.

"The minority party has decided we have to get to 60 votes on almost everything we vote on of substance," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "That's not the way this place is supposed to work."

Even Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who's served in Congress since 1973, complained that "the Senate is spiraling into the ground to a degree that I have never seen before, and I've been here a long time. All modicum of courtesy is going out the window."

Sure, Trent. That's why you keep voting against cloture. It's about the "courtesy".


She took him to the lake and he fell in love

(Lake Nebagamon, south of Superior, WI)

I'm back in Los Angeles, after a week's vacation. We had a wonderful time in Wisconsin, lovely lakes, great people, and just a fantastic sense of how folks outside L.A. live; very refreshing. We visited Lake Nebagamon Saturday afternoon, not long before driving down to "The Cities" to catch our flight back home.

OK, now to serious business:

I've never done this before, and I don't do it lightly, but based on last night's experience, this place is a rip-off:


Son-in-law Randy organized parking for our vacation for both groups: Him, Michaelle & Bella, and Pam & I. We both made reservations, and arrived at slightly different times a week ago Friday night. The lot is actually on 99th St., one block above Century, east of La Cienega.

Pulling in to 99th St., we saw different signs for airport parking on both sides of the street, with a well-lit valet-style setup on the right side. We pulled up, and were told to park in the lot at the end of the street. Driving the 100 feet or so to the entrance, we saw the driveway entrance blocked by barriers. We pulled back to the valet station, and were told to park in the structure on the other side of the street. We unloaded luggage, Pam drove in, took a ticket from the attendant, parked, and came back down. Self-parked, kept her keys and the ticket, just like any parking lot.

So far, no problem. But here's where it gets strange. When our flight landed, we called the lot 3 times for pickup. After almost an hour, the van finally showed up, we loaded our stuff in, and off we went. Meanwhile, Randy tells us he left his keys with the attendant, which we didn't do. This proved to be a mistake.

When the van dropped us off, Pam went up the the 6th floor, retrieved her car, payed the attendant in the lot the agreed-upon amount, and we were ready to go. Randy meanwhile goes into the office behind the valet station to pay his bill and retrieve his keys. They over-charge him by $18 with no explanation: "It's what the screen says; no, I don't know how to print the screen". We're curious now as to why Pam paid the attendant in the lot while Randy had to pay in a different location.

Armed with no receipt but having his keys, Randy now goes into the same structure we had parked in to get his car. And is he steamed when the attendant tells him that it is a different company, and he will have to pay $34 to get his car out just like we did.

An angry confrontation with the first lot people went nowhere, never mind that they mislead Randy, and us, into thinking that the lot on the other side of the street was also their facility. We were just lucky that they waved us on and didn't insist on holding our keys too. Bottom line is Randy had to fork over almost $90 to 2 different parking lots to get his car back. Further examination of signs on the structure we actually parked in revealed: "We have no relationship with the parking facility at 9920 S. La Cienega". The attendant at the good lot (9800 S. La Cienega) told Pam that the other guys often mis-directed customers to the other lot, so this scam may have been going on for some time.

Here is the good company: http://www.airpark-lax.com/

So fellow travelers searching for good long term parking, take my advice. Don't go to LA Parking Center at 9920 S. La Cienega.

Instead, park across the street at AirPark LA at 9800 S. La Cienega.

This is just my opinion, your mileage may vary. But I doubt it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can You Guess My Name?

(via Crooks & Liars)
Mention the President, Lose a Case?
Defense motion to ban George W. Bush's name at trial defeated

Apparently President George W. Bush is now so unpopular that some lawyers believe the mere mention of his name in front of a jury could tip the scales against them.

Attorneys Michael P. Laffey and Robert P. DiDomenicis of Holsten & Associates in Media, Pa., are defending Upper Darby Township, Pa., in a civil rights suit brought by Harold Lischner, an 82-year-old doctor who claims he was falsely arrested for displaying an anti-war sign at a Bush campaign event in September 2003.

With the case set to go to trial on July 23, the defense lawyers recently filed a flurry of motions, including one that asked Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Gene E.K. Pratter to prohibit the plaintiff from mentioning Bush's name.

The motion in Lischner v. Upper Darby Township said that according to the latest Newsweek poll, Bush has "the worst approval rating of an American president in a generation," and that 62 percent of Americans believe that Bush's handling of the war in Iraq shows that he is "stubborn and unwilling to admit his mistakes."
In separate motions, the defense team urged Pratter to prohibit any mention of the First Amendment -- since Lischner's suit is premised only on the Fourth Amendment -- and to bar any testimony about the message on Lischner's protest sign.
Pratter found that the message on Lischner's sign and Bush's identity, as well as the circumstances surrounding his visit -- including the war in Iraq and Bush's bid for re-election -- are "relevant to the determination of probable cause and to the adequacy of Upper Darby's training and policies."

All relevant evidence is "generally admissible," Pratter said, and "the president's identity and Dr. Lischner's opposition to the war in Iraq -- presumably as evidenced by the text on his sign -- are relevant because they are part of the circumstances weighing on the probable cause analysis conducted by Officer [Michael] Kehrle."
In a previous ruling, Pratter refused to dismiss the suit, finding that the conditions imposed by Drexelbrook were illegal and that a jury must decide "whether Upper Darby had a policy, practice or custom of enforcing the landowner's unlawful condition."

Also to be decided by the jury, Pratter said, is "whether Upper Darby failed to adequately train its police officers and such failure to train caused Dr. Lischner's constitutional injury."

Now Pratter has ruled that, at trial, Bush's identity has legal significance because it bears directly on the legality of Upper Darby's policies.

"The facts that the political candidate was not only a candidate for arguably the most important office in our government, but also the current president participating in a campaign for re-election, were important to the court's determination that the condition imposed by Drexelbrook was illegal and, thus, relevant to the probable cause determination."

The text of Lischner's sign is also legally significant, Pratter found, because "the fact that Dr. Lischner's sign was not blatantly offensive or disrespectful, and certainly not aimed at inciting violence or some other physical disruption, is relevant to whether probable cause existed."

As a result, Pratter rejected Upper Darby's argument that the "probative value" of Bush's identity and the text of Lischner's sign is outweighed by the danger of "unfair prejudice."

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Congress' Inherent Power of Contempt

Via the New York Times:
Congress has another route to enforce its will, an inherent power of contempt. But that has not been used since early in the 20th century. It has long been deemed unwieldy in the modern era as it entails Congress stopping all work to hold its own trial and imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol.
I really like the sound of this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm in the room without a light, The room without a view

Bush alters rules for interrogations

President Bush signed an executive order Friday prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment,
including humiliation or denigration of religious beliefs, in the detention and
interrogation of terrorism suspects.
The executive order was the result of legislation Bush signed in October that authorized
military trials of terrorism suspects. The court system was designed to protect
classified information and eliminated some of the rights defendants are guaranteed in
civilian and military courts.

It also gave Bush wide latitude in interrogating and detaining captured enemy
combatants. While it outlines specific war crimes such as rape, the legislation said the
president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards set by
the Geneva Conventions when authorizing less severe interrogation procedures.

The executive order has been months in the making, with some in the CIA increasingly
eager to get the rules of the road laid out. Asked if one of the agency's most extreme
techniques — waterboarding — would be allowed, a senior intelligence official declined
to provide any specifics. But, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity about
the order, said: "It would be wrong to assume the program of the past transfers to the
In a call with reporters, senior administration officials repeatedly refused to say what
specific kinds of interrogation techniques would be barred, arguing that doing so could
tip off al-Qaida members training to withstand hostile questioning. But sleep is not
among the basic necessities outlined in the order, one official said, opening the
possibility that sleep deprivation is among the approved interrogation methods.

The order also does not permit detainees to contact their family members or have access
to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Explaining why, one official said those
provisions are not part of the part of the Geneva Conventions that apply to these kinds
of detainees.
So Fearful Leader once again authorized torture by his, and his alone, interpretation of what constitutes torture.
Bush has said many times that the US doesn't torture and does follow the GenCons.

Gee, I guess that's easy when he alleges he can redefine those terms.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Moat in king george's eye

The US is just beaming [sic] about this plan:
Trench proposed around Kirkuk
U.S. and Iraqi officials Tuesday announced a ban on truck traffic into Kirkuk and proposed digging a trench around the northern city, where a series of bombs killed at least 76 people a day earlier.
Whaaa!? This is the New Way Forward?

They build a freakin' moat! And a dry moat at that!?

Gee, it's not like the first time they tried to resort to 14th century tactics.

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye!

Listen, to the sound from deep within

Sean-Paul Kelley of The Agonist has another great podcast up: Radio Agonist

Give it a listen.

Note: Lyrics from "Listen", from "Dreamgirls", written by Scott Cutler, a friend & client of mine. The song was nominated for an Oscar in 2007.

By the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the shining Big-Sea-Water

Hi from the north woods:

Here's the High Bridge looking from Superior, WI, toward Duluth, MN:
And here's one of the spits of land between Lake Superior and the St. Louis River:
Lovely people (more about that later) and lovely country.

Now on to business:

Harry Reid forced the issue yesterday :
Moments ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that in response to conservative obstructionism, he plans to force war supporters to physically remain in the Senate and filibuster Iraq withdrawal legislation. Reid accused conservatives of “protecting the President rather than protecting our troops” by “denying us an up or down vote on the most important issue our country faces.” He said that if a vote on the Reed/Levin Iraq legislation is not allowed today or tomorrow, he will keep the Senate in session “straight through the night on Tuesday” and force a filibuster.

So how did that work out?
After forcing conservatives to stand all-night and filibuster the Levin-Reed Iraq redeployment bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has pulled the entire Defense Authorization bill from consideration on the Senate floor.

Following this morning’s vote against ending debate, Reid argued that the Defense Authorization legislation should not be considered until the Senate is prepared to offer a future course for Iraq.


Did any Republicans cross over and vote on the side of righteousness:

Collins (R-ME)
Hagel (R-NE)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)

So who voted against cloture, and for continuing filibuster?

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

Clearly most of the usual suspects. Note that, while many of us on the Left, aka the right side of this issue, have been encouraged by the stomach rumblings of John Warner, Arlen Specter, Richard Lugar and a few others, the proof is in this vote.

No timetables, no relief for American Troops, no attention paid to the rationale electorate, just to wingnuttia.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Every time I thought I'd got it made, It seemed the taste was not so sweet

On Pace with the ch-ch-changes in Iraq:
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs says he's seen a major change in security in Iraq in recent months, and says that will influence his recommendation to President Bush on how long to continue the current strategy.

General Peter Pace says a "sea change" has been taking place in many places in Iraq, which he says should help give local police and the military "a chance to get on their feet."

Pace has conferred with several commanders in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, and says he's gathered a positive picture of the security environment there and in Baghdad.
Is he high? Did he mistake the title 'Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ' in a hand rolled sort of way? I mean WTF is he smoking!?

The civilian and US casualties are higher than before the surge escalation began.

There are mortar rounds impacting the Green Zone daily.

Visiting US congresscritters have to wear armor in the most protected area of Baghdad, can't leave the Green zone during the day and can't spend the night, (and that's what you might call a downward trend from their visit to a market in Baghdad, “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime” a couple of months ago.)

If we gather any more positive pictures like that we can claim a Pyrrhic victory ... and get out!

Cross posted at Vidiotspeak

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Emperor's New Clothes

Congressman Steve Cohen tells it like it is about Harriet Miers' non-appearance before a Judiciary subcomittee.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Running into the sun, but I'm running behind

READING, Pennsylvania (July 15) - Consumer advocate Ralph Nader told the Green Party's national convention that he is considering a 2008 presidential run. Nader accused Democrats of trying to shut smaller parties out of the political process. "But I'll show 'em", said Nader defiantly, "Hey, I helped put George W. Bush into the White House in 2000. That sure got the Democrats' attention, didn't it?"

In the past, finances have been a problem for Nader and the Green Party, but he said due to a group of very generous contributors, the next run for the presidency shouldn't be any problem at all. Chuckled Nader, "I'm flattered that these fellas have told me that money is no object to put me on the ticket. Even though they don't seem to care about my agendas and stands on issues, they just toss money into my campaign coffers like its going out of style. It's good to know at least somebody wants a third party running."

Nader poses with his contributors

(graphic by Dancin' Dave)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Walk the Prank, episode one

While nowhere near as entertaining and informative as Steve's "'Cause I can play this here guitar" series I still feel compelled to contribute a few of my rock & roll experiences. So please welcome the first (psychotic) episode of 'Walk the Prank:
When you're on the road for a few weeks you tend to play pranks on each other. And they're only funny if you aren't the victim. And they probably aren't funny anyway, but you know me, I got OPD*:
Setup: The bass player wipes the neck and strings down on his fretless bass with a rag containing WD40 before each set so he can glis smoothly.
The drummer wipes his sticks and hands with an astringent rag before each set for a better grip.

Prank: Swap the rags just before they go on.

Fun part: Look innocent as the bass player skids between muffed notes while dodging the drummer's flying 5b sticks as they shoot into the house.

Extra fun part: Look even more innocent while they blame it on the stage manager!

(Maybe you had to be there;-)

*Obsessive Prank Disorder

Friday, July 13, 2007

So make it one for my baby, and one more for the road

We (Pam & I) are hopping on a plane tonight for the first leg of the Isabella 2007 "You're The Cutest Baby That I Ever Did See" tour.

The hotel is supposedly connected to the internets, so I should be able to blog, although probably intermittently. So hopefully I can check in Sunday from lovely Superior, WI.

So I leave everyone in the hands of the great home team: Sailor, Wintermute, and Dancin' Dave. Show them all the love you have for me, or just send them $20. Whatever.

Meanwhile, just in case you forgot:

Bush sucks.

Lieberman sucks.

McCain sucks.

Fred Thompson sucks.

And lest we forget, Nader sucks.

It's my mind and I'll think like I want

The fanatically LiberConservatarian Orange County Register wants you to Test Your Freedom IQ:
Are you a rock-solid freedom lover, a closet authoritarian or an in-your-face socialist? Take the Register's first Freedom Quiz and see. It's devised with new graduates in mind, to help them understand their political philosophy as they head out into the real world or back into the not-so-real world of academia.

Right. So those are the parameters. First, in my opinion most authoritarians are pretty in-your-face. And the few socialists I know are pretty closeted, and are no part of the Left today. And that "rock-solid freedom lover"? Old paranoias die hard, it would seem.
We believe in limited government, respect for the individual, self-responsibility, free markets, free trade and property rights.

Um kay. But as might be suspected, the crap starts flowing fast and deep:
3. A small coffee shop owner is upset that a Starbucks is moving into the same shopping center. The owner has organized a campaign to stop the new store from locating there. Such action is:

a) Laudable. Small-business owners always are being driven out by the big corporate bully. Such a fight represents the struggle of average folks against corporate behemoths.

b) Good to the degree that it represents the will of the people. If most members of a community don't want a Starbucks, then Starbucks should not open up there. Put it to a vote.

c) Reprehensible. Companies should be free to compete as long as government doesn't get involved. Let the best coffee win.

Know up front that the right answer in all cases is C. So Starbucks, or Walmart comes to your neighborhood, flexes its muscle, and the local business owner is SOL. Because the mighty Market has spoken. In other words, they want Government off your back, but it's OK to for you carry the yoke of Big Profit. Makes sense.

But then:
7. A large retail company, such as Costco or Wal-Mart, has offered a city significant tax benefits if the city uses eminent domain to take an older strip mall of small businesses and give the big-box retailer the choice location. City Council members:

a) Have every right to do so, and should proceed. After all, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld such takings in the Kelo decision last summer, and city officials need to maximize tax revenue on every plot of land.

b) Should hire a firm to do a study and hold public meetings to see what the public prefers. If the majority wants the property for a big retailer, then the majority should rule.

c) Should tell the big retail company to find another city to hornswoggle. Property rights are the foundation of American life – whether you're a single homeowner or Donald Bren – even if, in Kelo, a slim high court majority was too foolish to see it.

Keeping in mind the "right" answer is C, here, the 'big bad' For-Profit mega-retailers are the predator. Huh? Against who? Oh, the local property owner. Let's get this straight. In question 3, the Big Corporation is good. But in question 7, the Big Corporation is Bad.

Only difference I see is that in the first case, the assumption is that the Mom'n'Pop coffee store is in leased property, while in the second, the insult is directed toward the property owner.

So I guess everyone is not exactly equal under the law:
White men with property have the right to vote but Catholics, Jews, Quakers and others are barred from voting.

The Naturalization Act bars Asian Americans from becoming citizens.

New Hampshire eliminates property ownership requirements, which gives more white men the opportunity to vote.

New Hampshire becomes the first state to eliminate the rule that only property owners and taxpayers can vote. Following New Hampshire's lead, other states begin to shift away from such restrictions in an effort to open the electorate to more white males.

So it would seem, if I analyze correctly, that the OCRegister would favor a return to the truly original intent of the Constitution in 1776.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

There goes my hero

Truth or consequence, say it aloud, Use that evidence, race it around. (via skippy):
Firing by Bush rejected by boundary official

A dispute over a backyard wall in Whatcom County has reached all the way to the White
House, with President Bush firing International Boundary Commissioner Dennis Schornack
over his handling of the matter.

In a strongly worded letter to Bush, Schornack said the International Boundary
Commission (IBC) is an independent, international organization outside the U.S.
government's jurisdiction. Schornack wrote that according to the 1908 treaty that
created the IBC, a vacancy can only be created by "the death, resignation or other
disability" of a commissioner.

"I am unable to recognize the authority of this communication because I don't believe
that you would knowingly act beyond your authority, outside the law or to otherwise
jeopardize the national security of the United States," Schornack wrote.

A dejected Schornack said Wednesday: "I am ashamed of my government." Bush nominated him
to the IBC in 2001.
Schornack sought assistance from the State Department, but was told the agency could not
help with the lawsuit because the IBC is an independent entity, Feldman said.

The Justice Department advised Schornack to hire outside counsel to assist the IBC, so
Schornack enlisted Feldman's services.
So what's the problem? The State Department and the DoJ both opined that his department is not part of the US government an advised him to hire outside council. He hired outside council, including Feldman and Mike McKay, a former US Attorney.

Well, as usual, the problem is Bushco:
lawyers at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., and acting Assistant Attorney General Ronald Tenpas particularly wanted to settle the suit
Late Tuesday, Schornack received a faxed letter from Liza Wright, assistant to the
president for personnel, informing him Bush had terminated his appointment "effective

The White House referred calls about the firing to the Department of Justice, but
officials there declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.
How can it be a 'personnel matter' if Schornack doesn't work for the DoJ and isn't part of the US government?

But best of all Schornack, a Bush nominee who isn't employed at the 'pleasure of the President', stood up and did the right thing.

We can be heroes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 14

Recognize this guy?

Either one of them, actually. One was in some band, named after a bug. The other is the Godfather of British rock guitarists.

Continuing in my series on under-appreciated guitarists, let's talk about Bert Weedon:
Thames TV did a "This is your Life" on Bert Weedon. Among the people paying tribute to Bert were ;- Eric Clapton, Brian May, Hank Marvin, Phil Collins, Adam Faith, Val Doonican, Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan, Marty Wilde, Frank Bruno, Henry Cooper, Paul Daniels, Gloria Hunniford, Basil Brush and many other stars from the world of show-business.

. . . As a result of his exciting solos on the early rock records. Bert was asked by Top Rank to make a record as a solo artist, and so Bert became the first British guitarist to get a solo record in the Hit Parade - the memorable "Guitar Boogie Shuffle". He subsequently notched further hits with "Apache". "Nashville Boogie". "Ginchy". "Sorry Robbie" "Tokyo Melody". to mention but a few. His L.P. `s have sold in tremendous numbers; "Bert Weedon remembers Jim Reeves" sold over 250,000 while his "22 Golden Guitar Greats" L.P. reached the No 1 spot in the Album Charts, and he once again made disc history by becoming the first solo guitarist to reach the coveted top of the Hit Parade - receiving both Gold and Platinum L.P.'s for his record breaking sales of over one million copies. The tremendous success of his L.P.'s and C.D's ensures that Bert is still among the top recording artists of Britain.

Wikipedia has this:
Bert Weedon OBE (born 10 May 1920, East Ham, London) was an influential English guitarist and composer during the 1950s and 60s.

Weedon began learning the guitar at the age of twelve. The first British guitarist in the UK Singles Chart, with "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" in 1959, he was an influence on many of today's big names, including Eric Clapton, Brian May, Mike Oldfield, The Shadows and The Beatles.

Indeed. Bert was a transitional player, crossing from the '50s into the '60s, from gold lame tux jackets to overdriven amps, and making the guitar a truly popular and populist instrument.

Bert's version of Apache wasn't a hit, but many of his other recordings were. Here he is at the height of his popularity:

Here's Bert with some kid who achieved modest success in the '70s:

And here's Bert in '52 with some guy who had a Gibson guitar named after him. From left to right: Ivor Mairants, Les Paul, Bert Weedon:

True guitar geeks will notice that this early Les Paul model has a very unusual control arrangement. It looks like a single Volume and Tone, with some sort of switch added, and the jack is on the top rather than on the side.

I see the lights, I see the party lights

My good buddy and local L.A. blogger skippy had an anniversary:

happy 5th blogiversary!** to skippy!

that's right, this site has been blogging continuously at this space for 5 years today! we can hardly believe it ourselves! one would think we'd have something useful to do, but no, we've been disseminating news and snark for the past 5 complete turns of the calendar.

And he even mentions this humble blog:
the list goes on: taylor marsh; sailor of vidiot speak; lindsay beyerstein and maha; steve of the carpetbagger report, and steve of steveaudio; dave of seeing the forest; everyone at the american politics journal; man eegee and blogtopus and badtux the snarky penguin.

All I can say is well done, my friend. Skippy was one of the first A-list bloggers to give me a link, back almost 3 years ago (the SteveAudio 3 year anniversary is coming up this September).
Since then we've gotten to know him and his lovely wife, socialized with them on several occasions, and consider them good friends. In fact, here's a picture of the happy couple:

He has a unique voice, and unique blog, and as someone famous once said, "they say he's a righteous dude".

Keep it up skippy, and we'll try to help you get to 2,000,000 hits!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

He'd grown up just like me, my boy was just like me

(graphic by Dancin' Dave)

You'll be warm in the arms of the mayor of simpleton

(Image by The Heretik)

America's Mayor is starting to look like the mayor of some 3rd world country:
As Rudy Giuliani campaigned in the Palmetto State today, he faced tough new questions about Arthur Ravenel, the new co-chair of his South Carolina campaign. Arthur Ravenel was appointed to replace his son Thomas Ravenel, who was indicted several weeks ago on federal cocaine charges.

This press release from the Democratic Party details many of Arthur Ravenel's racist public statements, such as:

Arthur Ravenel Jr. called the NAACP the "the National Association for Retarded People" twice in 2001, first at a pro-Confederate flag rally at the Statehouse and then, according to The Post and Courier, "repeated the offending remark during an interview outside the Senate chamber with four print reporters, three of whom had tape recorders running." Ravenel apologized only to people with mental and physical disabilities, saying "No apologies to the NAACP or the national NAACP." Speaking to a New York Times reporter, Ravenel said "they [the NAACP] are the enemy."

Ravenel headlined an event for a white supremacist hate group. On October 9, 1993, Ravenel headlined an event in South Carolina sponsored by the now-defunct Confederate Heritage Preservation Society and the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), described by The Nation as "America's largest white nationalist organization..[that] represents the reincarnation of the White Citizens Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South."

According to the New York Post, "Earlier in his career, he drew fire when he said that white congressmen were operating on 'black time'-- meaning fashionably late."

Nice. Retarded People.

Of course, Rudy has a growing list of questionable issues and friends:

Bernard Kerik:
Giuliani then pushed President Bush to nominate Kerik to be secretary of Homeland Security, at which point multiple scandals derailed the nomination and Kerik's career; subsequently Kerik pled guilty to corruption charges dating from his Corrections days.[131] In March of 2007, The New York Times reported that Kerik was likely to also be indicted for tax fraud and illegal eavesdropping, and also disclosed that Giuliani had testified under oath in April 2006 that he had in fact been briefed on Kerik's mob links in 2000 — prior to his appointment of Kerik as Corrections Commissioner. Giuliani had previously denied knowing of these connections until years later.[132]

Monsignor Alan Placa:
Giuliani employs his childhood friend Monsignor Alan Placa as a consultant at Giuliani Partners despite a 2003 Suffolk County, N.Y., grand jury report that accuses Placa of sexually abusing children, as well as helping cover up the sexual abuse of children by other priests. Placa, who was part of a three-person team that handled allegations of abuse by clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is referred to as Priest F in the grand jury report. The report summarizes the testimony of multiple alleged victims of Priest F, and then notes, "Ironically, Priest F would later become instrumental in the development of Diocesan policy in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests."

Aw, heck, just go read the Wikipedia entry on Giuliani. He sounds like a swell guy.

I'm here to get my baby out of jail

(graphic by Dancin' Dave)

George W. Bush:
"I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison.... My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. ...The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting."

[On a warm, humid Texas evening, we see two men sitting comfortably on porch. The sound of crickets chirping out to potential mates is broken as they speak:]

Bush: “You know, I really hated to punish you like that… you know, commuting your jail sentence and all.”

Libby: “I guess you just did what you had to do. I know I certainly deserved such a cruel fate for my crimes. Jail would have been too easy, too lenient.”

Bush: “And now you are left to the worst punishment that could be meted out… to have to wallow in your shame… your guilt… your conscience.”

Libby: [shudders] “As a good, decent Christian man, to force me to not go to jail and to instead lie awake at night crying my eyes out is the harshest punishment I could possibly have been given.”

[Libby’s head drops down into his hands as a sob escapes his lips and his head shakes back and forth. He pauses for a moment and peeks up over at Bush. A twinkle sparkles in his eye as he winks and his lips tremble into a smile]

Libby and Bush: “BWAA HAA HAAA HAA HA HA HAAAA!!!!”

Bush: “Heh heh, for a second you almost had me going there!”

Libby: “Hell, I almost had myself believing it!

Bush: [wiping the tears from his eyes] “Gotta love this executive privilege crap.”

Libby: “Yep. Now, could you pass me another beer from the cooler so I can drown the painful gnawing of my soul?”

[Laughter fills the rest of the Texas night]

Monday, July 09, 2007

But today I am still just a bill

This sounds about right:
Washington, DC – Senator John Kerry today announced that he will co-sponsor legislation aimed at preventing the President from writing so-called “signing statements” when he signs bills – a little known measure that allows the White House to effectively circumvent Congress. Under the bill, a president could not issue a signing statement if it substantially altered the original legislation. Kerry co-sponsored the legislation with Senator Arlen Specter (R-Penn) and the measure could be voted on as early as this month if it is added as an amendment to the defense spending bill.

“The Bush Administration’s abuse of signing statements is clearly unconstitutional and renders the Constitution’s system of checks and balances null and void,” Kerry said. “With these statements, the President has effectively subverted the law and the legislative process without actually ever using a veto. No administration should be allowed to cherry-pick legislation this way. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this legislation and I want to again thank the Boston Globe for shining a bright light on this abuse.”

Not sure if I trust Specter, but still, it's a step in the right direction.

One problem remains, however, as Kevin Drum points out:
FILIBUSTERS....I wonder how many Americans understand that you can't pass legislation in America with 50% of the votes in Congress? How many of them understand that, outside of budget resolutions, you need 60 votes in the Senate? That a filibuster isn't a matter of Jimmy Stewart talking himself ragged for hours on end, but of merely declaring an intention to filibuster? And that this is done for all but the most routine matters? With the result that the 60-vote minimum is no longer reserved for occasional high-profile issues, but has been institutionalized for virtually all legislation of any consequence?

I figure maybe 2%. What's your guess?

I'm not as cynical as Kevin, so I'll guess 5%.

I know why the caged bird ... gobbles, gobbles

Pardon my Photoshop skills, here is my take on the Libby commutation

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Live Earth & the Youth Vote

My old friend the Born-Again Hippie lays it down in his finest post to date:
The Live Earth Concerts were a stunning success, and the biggest star to emerge from the international showcase was Al Gore.

I have waited my entire socially conscious life for a political coalition to coalesce around idealistic young people before they're eaten alive by cynicism. My generation had the chance, but blew it. Big time. After the Vietnam War, we had the chance to consolidate political power gained in the protest years. But instead, we opted out of the political process, allowing Richard Nixon to be elected and re-elected. When the war ended, everyone put on a tie and tried to make up for the lost time not spent hoarding money. Thus, hippies became yuppies and the moment was lost. The direct and concrete result of that apathy is that my generation is now represented by unprincipled men like Karl Rove, who has made a career of demonizing the excesses of the sixties. The failure of my generation is on display every day that pot is still illegal. My divided and disenchanted peers have forfeited the right to instruct the young. They will decide the next presidential election.

Go read the rest here.

And there will be sorrow no more

To everyone stopping by from Crooks & Liars, welcome! And please, click the "Home" link at the bottom, or here "Home" to read other fun stuff by me and the other great writers here. And for those primarily interested in the music posts, check out my series on Under-appreciated Guitarists, 'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt's, 1 - 13.

I certainly knew of Brett Gurewitz and Epitaph Records, and his band Bad Religion, but had never met him until he came into the studio where I worked as Chief Tech. Engineer to mix "The Process of Belief" in 2001.

Jerry Finn was originally hired to mix the album, and recording was taking place at a furious pace. The band would record all night, and deliver tapes (yes, no ProTools was used in the making of this album!) to my studio first thing in the morning for Jerry to start mixing.

After a few days, Brett decided things were moving too fast, the quality of the recording was suffering due to the tight schedule, and he stopped the process (no pun intended). After finishing the overdubs at a more sensible pace, however, Jerry was committed to another project so Brett decided to mix the album himself. And thus I got to know him.

We talked music, and especially politics. Brett has a fine mind, and a clear understanding of world issues today. We talked about the sabre rattling toward Iraq, and how the U.S. had armed the Taliban and the Pakistani Mujahadeen to fight the Soviets, and how this was clearly going to backfire in our faces.

While he was mixing "Sorrow" I told him that in my opinion it should be the first single. Radio friendly, great melody combined with the patented Bad Religion guitar drive, it really felt to me like a hit.

There is a sound effect in the chorus of "Sorrow", in the line "there will be (explosion) sorrow" that I told Brett I thought was especially cool. I was truly surprised when he called me to come into the control room and listen to the final mix, before it was printed. He asked me it I though the explosion was loud enough, I told him, "No, I really think it should be up a bit more."

"Cool", he said, and pushed it up a bit more.

He was kind enough to give me a credit in the "Thanks to..." section of the liner notes. Great guy, great band, and great music.

Here they are live on Craig Kilborne:

Here is "Sorrow" live in 2002 (sadly, without Mr. Brett):

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Our Cowardly Democratic Leadership

As I've written here before, the Democratic leadership in the Congress is hiding its head in the sand of Iraq, afraid to use the majority party's power to defund the war as the American people told them to in November 2006.

The latest proof is in an article to appear tomorrow in the New York Times about the hapless Harry Reid. Here's some of the latest BS about this sad situation:
Mr. Reid has also been hobbled by his fragile majority, reduced to 50-to-49 because of the extended absence of Senator Tim Johnson, the South Dakota Democrat who has been recovering from a brain hemorrhage since December. With most Senate action requiring 60 votes — the tally needed to cut off debate — much of the legislation that House Democrats rushed through in their 100-hour sprint has bogged down across the Rotunda, mired in seemingly endless procedural votes and Republican objections.

On Iraq, Mr. Reid has led a 49-to-50 minority as Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who caucuses with Democrats, has sided with Republicans on that issue.

As a result, when Mr. Bush refused to sign an Iraq war spending bill that included a timetable for withdrawal, Mr. Reid, with his counterpart in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saw no alternative in May but to back down rather than open Democrats to charges of cutting off money to troops in the field. The outcome left many Democrats disenchanted.
Well, shucks, is it possible the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House are actually beginning to acknowledge they already have the votes to defund the war? They don't want to admit they have the power already because they're afraid to use it. They care more about re-election fears than implementing the just-expressed will of the American people. That's sick and shameful.

To Hell with both of you! And Steny Hoyer too! That's y'all's picture up there! Pock pock pock pock!

Winning Their Hearts and Minds

News from that other war:
After more than five years of increasingly intense warfare, the conflict in Afghanistan reached a grim milestone in the first half of this year: U.S. troops and their NATO allies killed more civilians than insurgents did, according to several independent tallies.

The upsurge in deaths at the hands of Western forces has been driven by Taliban tactics as well as by actions of the American military and its allies.

But the growing toll is causing widespread disillusionment among the Afghan people, eroding support for the government of President Hamid Karzai and exacerbating political rifts among NATO allies about the nature and goals of the mission in Afghanistan.

More than 500 Afghan civilians have been reported killed this year, and the rate has dramatically increased in the last month.
I just don't have the heart to go into all the lies Bush et al have made in their multiple wars. But I would like to point out that when you call in airstrikes and artillery in villages, towns, and cities full of civilians you WILL kill more civilians than 'terrorists.'

Question for discussion: What ratio of innocents to combatants do you think is acceptable?

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)


Via skippy (via one good move, via BS Alert) we discover the ACLU has won a victory in the WOT (War On T-shirts.) The HuffPost has a pretty good breakdown of this breakdown of our civil liberties.

Think Progress catches Faux News blaming Mr. Rodgers.

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog shows why you have to read past the headline bill title to find the oxymorons.

While Farking around I learned that American Graffiti is now a felony!

Welcome to Pottersville features a column about New York's Finest ... finest stalkers that is.

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ooh, baby it's a wild world

God bless Al Gore, Live Earth has started, and so far, I'm pretty underwhelmed. First, it's built totally around Internet Explorer™, and any other browser is feature-limited (so they say). So to every Mac owner out there who doesn't have a legacy copy of MIE, you're basically screwed.

In Internet Explorer you can:
  • Simultaneously view updated status for artists at all venues
  • See constantly updated information on all concerts
  • Toggle between any concert venue you wish and watch additional “green” footage

To get to the actual streaming window for non-MIE users requires several button clicks and a dialog box telling you to restart in MIE. Thanks, guys. And when the streaming video starts, it forces your browser to a smaller size, tight around the image screen. If you're using a tabbed browser, like Firefox, or MIE(!), all your other tabs are, of course, shrunken.

Also, may seem a bit whiny but the schedule is not displayed in running order:

And since a very large portion of the world doesn't live in the US EDT zone, we now have to mentally re-calculate start times, just to see where in hell it is live now.

May be green, but it's An Inconvenient Experience.

Update: to everyone coming by from Crooks and Liars, thanks! By the way, I didn't say it couldn't be done, just that it was inconvenient for non-IE users. I found this surprising, since Gore used a Mac laptop and Apple's Keynote software for much of "An Inconvenient Truth".

Update 2: "We are experiencing high traffic volume. Please try again later." Now that's a problem!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

some are wonderin' If this land's still made for you and me

In light of Scooter Libby's Lovely Parting Gift™ the other day, and especially since today was Independance Day, some words from long ago ought to be considered.

There's this book:

And on page 498, some guy named Madison says this:

Just for background, here's Wikipedia on the Philadelphia Convention of 1787:
The Philadelphia Convention (now also known as the Constitutional Convention, the Federal Convention, or the "Grand Convention at Philadelphia") took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, to address problems in The United States of America following independence from Great Britain. Although it was purportedly intended only to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention of many of the Convention's proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was from the outset to create a new government rather than "fix" the existing one. It was not since The Annapolis Conference that the states had seriously considered the situation of the Articles of Confederation. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the convention. The result of the Convention was the United States Constitution. The Convention is one of the central events in the history of the United States.

It's clear from this, and many other entries, that the framers were leery of the power of the Executive, and carefully crafted the Constitution so power would be shared equally by the three branches in a symbolic but vitally important game of rock, paper, scissors.

The whole thing can be torqued out of balance by concentration of power, as has happened the last 6 years, with the Far Right in this country running all 3 branches. Collusion and greed, ideology and hubris, all add up to the state the country is in now.

The Mission Statement for the founding of the country had already addressed this point tangentially as it laid out grounds for the Revolution (Sailer made these points below, but they can't be stressed enough):

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

. . . He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

. . . He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

. . . He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

. . . He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

. . . For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

. . . For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

. . . He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

. . . He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Indeed. This wasn't a Non-Binding Resolution. This was like Luther's 95 Theses nailed to the metaphorical church door; a statement of profound faith and firmness, a global challenge. It lead to an ugly, bloody war, with one good result: no longer were the nascent United States ruled by a King.

Does this apply to today's United States? I think so, and so do many others. Does the road lead to another Revolutionary War? I truly hope not. In either case, George XLIII's days are numbered.