Friday, November 30, 2007

And can you hear the sound of hysteria?

(image by darkblack; genius as usual)

Mark Steyn wrote an editorial last week that has been pretty well trashed around the liberal bloggersphere, wherein he says:
Rudy Giuliani was a brilliant can-do executive who transformed the fortunes of what was supposedly one of the most ungovernable cities in the nation. But on guns, abortion and almost every other social issue he's anathema to much of the party. Mike Huckabee is an impeccable social conservative but, fiscally speaking, favors big-government solutions with big-government price tags. Ron Paul has a long track record of sustained philosophically coherent support for small government but he's running as a neo-isolationist on war and foreign policy. John McCain believes in assertive American global leadership but he believes just as strongly in constitutional abominations like McCain-Feingold.

So if you're a pro-gun anti-abortion tough-on-crime victory-in-Iraq small-government Republican the 2008 selection is a tough call. Mitt Romney, the candidate whose (current) policies least offend the most people, happens to be a Mormon, which, if the media are to be believed, poses certain obstacles for elements of the Christian right.
The Giuliani adulation seems somehow misplaced, now, doesn't it? I mean, take this:
In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.

Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was “the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994.” In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York “had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years.” When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that “under me, spending went down by 7 percent.”

All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record.

(note: emphasis mine)

Well then. And on the rest of the candidates, this is just how devoid the current Republican Party is of not only ideas but ideals.

Take Huckabee and his personal 'Willie Horton':
Huckabee has also come under criticism for his handling of the case of Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist who was released during Huckabee's governorship and who subsequently sexually assaulted and murdered a woman in Missouri.[77] Dumond's case had attracted national attention in the mid 1990s from critics of President Bill Clinton who felt the former Arkansas Governor had been too harsh with Dumond because Dumond's victim was a distant Clinton relative.

Even before taking office, Huckabee met with Dumond's wife and privately announced his intention that Dumond be set free, stating his unhappiness with the way Clinton had handled the case.[78] Dumond was castrated prior to his trial; he stated that he was attacked by two men in his home (though district prosecutor Gene Raff suggested it was a case of self-mutilation[79] and a urologist who'd studied the topic told the Forrest City Times-Herald that self-mutilation isn't that rare among psychologically disturbed sex offenders.[80])

On September 20, 1996, Huckabee publicly announced his intention of commuting Dumond's sentence based on the commutation given by Jim Guy Tucker, who had served as governor during Clinton's presidential run and had overseen the case.[81] There was strong opposition to Huckabee's plan, leaving Huckabee in a difficult situation politically.[77] On October 31, 1996, Huckabee met privately with the parole board to talk about the Dumond case. On January 16, 1997, Dumond was granted parole, just five months after he had been rejected.

Huckabee released a statement saying, "I concur with the board’s action and hope the lives of all those involved can move forward. The action of the board accomplishes what I sought to do in considering an earlier request for commutation ...In light of the action of the board, my original intent to commute the sentence to time served is no longer relevant."[77] His full disclosure of the incident is described in his book From Hope to Higher Ground.

Dumond had been sentenced to life in prison until 1992, when Tucker reduced the sentence to 39 1/2 years which made Dumond eligible for parole. The parole was granted on the condition that another state take him. Wayne Dumond moved to Kansas City in 2000 and was convicted there of sexually assaulting and murdering a woman that lived near his home. Wayne Dumond died in prison in 2005.

(emphasis mine)

Ron Paul is considered a crackpot by the war-firsters, even though as a Libertarian he has credentials that ought to endear him the the Right-wing of the party. Of course, the Right-wing of the party is as phony as a million dollar bill and courts large dollar donations and offers large dollar solutions in their quest for omnipotent power instead of the small government to which they pay lip service.

And McCain, as a serial flip-flopper and grudging GWBushCo sycophant, has gotten no real traction this time around. His cred was likely shot the last time around, and many consider him too old at this point.

Regardless, Giuliani, as the biggest chest-thumper and shouter, has the most to lose by his latest scandals, and it will be fun to watch his fall from grace. Between the Shag Fund story and the above smackdown of his statistical hackery, he's finally getting the attention he so richly deserves.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


VIA skippy we learned we shouldn't
Celebrate Turnaround in Iraq Just Yet

I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn't gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level -- which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth.

I interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing.
And we could provide you with all kinds of stats and reasons that the surge didn't work, but as Time Magazine's ass Ace reporter Joe Klein sez "I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right"

OK then, moving on.
Crooks and Liars provides an open thread that contains a Darkblack tapestry:
The Last Bar-B-Que
Personally, I would have gone with "The Last Schtupper", but that's just me.

And last but not leashed, TBogg informs us that
the investigator investigating Karl Rove is being investigated ... for quashing investigations.
Bassets! ... uhh, I meant Bastards!

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

and they're bankrupt on selling

Chris Dodd makes sense again about the awful bankruptcy bill:
Today Senator Dodd released his full plan for bankruptcy reform. You can view the full Dodd plan for fair, practical bankruptcy reform at

Here are the bullet points of what the Dodd plan will do:

  • Modify the means test to ensure families have sufficient resources to live on
  • Protect children, not creditors
  • Ensure all medical debts are dischargeable
  • Permit bankruptcy courts to restructure mortgages so families can stay in their homes
  • Allow private student loans to be dischargeable
Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren says, "These proposals show that Senator Dodd is squarely on the side of families. He knows that hard-working, play-by-the-rules people sometimes need a safety net."

Senator Dodd has the best record of Democratic candidates on bankruptcy reform - eRiposte of the Left Coaster writes, "He has been consistently and strongly progressive on the topic of Bankruptcy "reform" at least since 2000."

Last month Dodd announced that he will call for the reform of a part of the current bankruptcy law which prevents judges from aiding those in default of their loans by restructuring their payments.

How does your fave candidate look on these issues? eriposte at The Left Coaster has a comprehensive analysis. But here's the simple answer:

Don't you, don't you, don't you know you gotta tell the truth, yeah huh

(Graphic: McClatchy, 7/20/07)

Without irony, the WaPo notes today:
As Lott Leaves the Senate, Compromise Appears to Be a Lost Art

No kidding. Except the problem goes much further than Lott. As the article goes on:
Lott's departure from Capitol Hill in the coming weeks after 34 years in Congress -- 16 in the House, 18 in the Senate -- is further evidence that bonhomie and cross-party negotiating are losing their currency, even in the backslapping Senate. With the Senate populated by a record number of former House members, the rules of the Old Boys' Club are giving way to the partisan trench warfare and party-line votes that prevail in the House. States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

Again, without irony or even logic, the comparison of far-right Republicans to moderate Democrats falls below the writer's radar. But here's the real truth of the Senate:
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) filed 56 motions to break off filibusters to try to complete legislation, a total that is nearing the record of 61 such "cloture motions" in a two-year Congress.

Get that? That means the Republican minority has threatened to filibuster a record number of times, to block virtually any Democratic-sponsored legislation. Why did I leave out 'nearing'? Because the WaPo is wrong; the current session has already broken the record:
The filibuster has tremendously increased in frequency of use since the 1960s. In the 1960s, no Senate term had more than seven filibusters. In the first decade of the 21st century, no Senate term had fewer than 49 filibusters. The 1999-2002 Senate terms both had 58 filibusters. [1] In the fall of 2007, the 110th Congress' 1st session broke the record, for fillibuster cloture votes, topping 70 as of Nov 15, 2007. It is on track to triple the number of such votes in 2008's 2nd session.

So there's your bipartisanship, a complete blockade of progress by Republicans. Even when it goes against their own self-interests:
FICTION: Senator McConnell Wants to Put Partisanship Behind Him, Get Down to the Basic Work of Government. During his press conference, Senator McConnell said, “I would suggest this might be a good time to, kind of, put the high level of partisanship aside and try to do the basic work of government, which we've not been able to do so far.” [McConnell Press Conference, 9/4/07]

FACT: Senator McConnell Objected to Appointing Conferees on Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization. On the Senate floor, McConnell objected to a motion by Senator Reid to appoint conferees on the Children’s Health Insurance reauthorization bill, saying, “Mr. President, the message has not yet been received, and, therefore, the request is a little premature. We would need to consult with our colleagues on this when they receive the request from the House. And, therefore, for the time being I would object.” [Senate Floor Proceedings, 9/4/07]

Bastards. And read the McClatchy article with the above graphic here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

He'll look at you and tell you lies

(all pictures from Jeremy Silman's article about composer David Bell;
click on any picture for a large image)

I touched on this in my last post, wherein a Right-wing editorial writer complained about the WGA. But that's not important right now. What is important is that film and TV production and post-production is leaving L.A. and it's sad, because the best talent pool and facilities for that work are here in L.A.

I was at Paramount Stage M today on the Paramount lot, one of the last remaining scoring stages in town. And it's closing forever next June, 2008. The reason, Sumner Redstone wants to close the facility and turn it into mixing and editing rooms because he's a cheap bastard who doesn't mind the actual music recording, or scoring, being moved to cheaper and less talented European musicians. How's his track record in the film business? Well, just look at Paramount under Sherry Lansing compared to today under Redstone's hand-picked Berman & Gray.

What's ironic is that out on the actual stage, pictured above, workers were busy setting up tables and chairs for a formal dinner tonight honoring, you guessed it: Sumner Redstone.

And the actual support staff on the stage had been trying to get the room repainted for over 10 years, with no luck. But now, with the room scheduled to be demolished in 6 months, the room is freshly painted, for a macabre Last Supper. One might suggest that Redstone is a surrogate for Judas in the painting, with his 30 pieces of silver in his pocket.

Rather sad for Hollywood.

Here are some more great pictures of Stage M. And if you're interested, follow the link to Jeremy Silman's site for a great description of how TV (and film) music are recorded.

Looking into the control room from the stage:

Looking over the mixing console out through the window onto the stage:

Here's another link with some historical info about Stage M.

Stop the world, I want to get off ...

... and I managed to get off for 7 days in a warm sunny clime on the beach. My GF (and not checking the news) really helped;-)

But now I'm back (dammit!) and the weather sucks and there ain't no beaches, so you have to suffer along with me.

Here are some of the daily atrocities I, and you might have, missed:
20,000 vets' brain injuries not listed in Pentagon tally

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.
One base released its count of brain injuries at a medical conference. The others provided their records at the request of USA TODAY, in some cases only after a Freedom of Information Act filing was submitted.
Houston Police and Homeland Security using military spy planes on Americans

Houston police started testing unmanned aircraft and the event was shrouded in secrecy, but it was captured on tape by Local 2 Investigates.
Military Probe Focuses on Iraq Contracts

One of the most striking aspects of the fraud investigations has been the number of those caught up in it who have apparently killed themselves _ at least three Army officers so far.

Just take this job and shove it, I ain't workin here no more

According to the convoluted logic of this editorial, the striking WGA writers are hypocrites because they don't hate illegal immigrants, or something:
What's the difference between an illegal immigrant on a job and a "scab" that crosses a picket line? After all, aren't people both merely seeking work where they can find it? Aren't both willing to toil at a lower wage in an effort to feed their families?

The difference – at least in the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America – is Hollywood liberalism and the bicoastal 213/212 area-code universes that ideologically feed it.

For what the strike by the WGA has revealed yet again is that outrage among the Los Angeles-Manhattan intelligentsia over corporate greed, unfair labor practices, stagnating wages and vanishing job security is directly related to the income and education level of those threatened.

Consider for a moment the hundreds of thousands of Californians who have been forced from jobs in construction, landscaping, auto body repair, cable installation and a host of other jobs by an alliance of employers and an ethnocentric lobby that's hungry for demographic power.

Listen, idiot, everyone, me included, whose income derives from the Hollywood entertainment industry is worried about our jobs being outsourced as productions and even music scoring are going overseas.

And the main reason for that is bloated artist salaries, producers' bottom lines, and corporate greed. By the time production has wrapped, and Tom Cruis's salary of $25mil has been paid, producers seek to cut costs by a few thousand dollars and send animation, music scoring, and many other post-production tasks to Asia and Eastern Europe. And our world, that of crafts and trades, technicians and engineers, is one of the very few that has proven resistant to the corporate drive for hiring illegals, because of one word: unions.

Yep, the dreaded communist-front unions and guilds here in Hollywood police their own membership, while attempting to keep a living wage available for members.

The right-wing outrage and toadyism present in the editorial is staggering.

There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord, I pray

Ain't this cute: GWBush, who refuses to negotiate with either terrorists or any opposition states for that matter (see: North Korea; Iran) finally organizes a Middle East peace conference:
President Bush, who's largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he's hosting in Annapolis, Md.

He won't remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn't planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.

Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president's speech would include "a little more detail." But when she was asked to describe his message, she replied: "I would describe it as 'encourage.' "

So I guess his time as a lame duck president is much more valuable than wasting time trying to bring some equanimity and peace to the world's most troubled area.

Cause Presidentin's such, you know, hard work.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Well you're dirty and sweet, clad in black, don't look back

Kids. You raise them, feed and clothe them, trying your best to nurture with love and care, always hoping to impart some wisdom and sense so they'll make good choices and live good lives.

Then they move out. And you worry they'll take up with some hoodlum friends and develop bad habits, won't eat well or take care of themselves. And you worry that they'll find a job, and even someday, maybe find love.

They spread their young wings and fly away, the ungrateful bastards. Hmmph!

Seriously, our good friend David "TRex" Ferguson has spread his tiny vestigial saurian wings and flown away from The Lake to start his own blogging career, and we wish him nothing but good wishes, long life, and many bloody carcasses to dine on.

You can find him here at his new house, TRextasy.

Best wishes, amigo. And like the old Bud Light commercial says, "I love you, man!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If I gave you the truth, would it keep you alive?

Ronald Reagan was the greatest American President ever. Even Christopher Hitchens says so:
Reagan sold heavy weapons to the Iranian mullahs and lied about it, saying that all the weapons he hadn't sold them (and hadn't traded for hostages in any case) would, all the same, have fit on a small truck. Reagan then diverted the profits of this criminal trade to an illegal war in Nicaragua and lied unceasingly about that, too. Reagan then modestly let his underlings maintain that he was too dense to understand the connection between the two impeachable crimes. He then switched without any apparent strain to a policy of backing Saddam Hussein against Iran. (If Margaret Thatcher's intelligence services had not bugged Oliver North in London and become infuriated because all European nations were boycotting Iran at Reagan's request, we might still not know about this.)


Why does this matter now? A couple of reasons. First, there are many who bow down and worship even unto his glory, never mind that his patriotism was informed by watching wartime news reels while he was a small-time contract player.

And second, that today is the anniversary of his greatest impeachable offense:
Washington, Nov. 25--President Reagan said today that he had not been in full control of his Administration's Iran policy, and the White House said that as a consequence up to $30 million intended to pay for American arms had been secretly diverted to rebel forces in Nicaragua.

At the same time, the President announced that two men he held responsible--Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the national security adviser, and Lieut. Col. Oliver L. North, a member of the admiral's staff--had left their posts.

With the Administration already in turmoil over the earlier disclosure of clandestine arms shipments to Iran, and with speculation rampant about a major overhaul of the White House staff, the President's statement seemed to deepen a sense of disarray. By all accounts, Mr. Reagan now faces the most serious crisis in his six-year Presidency.

That's right. Corruption, sloganeering, and lying were his stock in trade. And yet, did he 'man up' and take credit for his duplicity? Did he own the story he had spun to the American public like a true hero? No, he blamed his subordinates like the chickenshit he was. Full of scorn for those who criticized him, he steadfastly swore that he and he alone held the vision forward for America in his hands.

I'm pretty sure that was something else in his hands, a little closer to his heart.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'd die for you, I'd cry for you, I'd do anything, I'd lie for you, You know it's true, Baby I'd die for you

It's happening in Pakistan:
Twin suicide car bomb attacks killed 15 people in the Pakistani garrison town of Rawalpindi on Saturday, the military said, the eve of the return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from exile in Saudi Arabia.

It's happening in Afghanistan:
A suicide bomber killed nine civilians, six of them children, and an Italian soldier on the outskirts of the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, NATO said.

It's certaily happening in Iraq:
Friday noon, two car bombs targeted two police patrols in two different locations in Mosul killing 9 and injuring 21 others.. The first one was a suicide car bomb in Al-Mithaq square targeting a police patrol and few minutes later another car exploded at Al-Baath intersection targeting another police patrol and the result was 9 killed ( 6 of them were policemen ) and 21 injured ( including 8 policemen ).

What's the cause? Of course it's Islamist fundamentalists, who hate us for our freedoms. according to GWBushCo:
They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
Actually, no.

It turns out that suicide bombers hate occupying forces, pretty much everywhere. Robert Pape, Political Science Professor at the University of Chicago wrote a book titled "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism". Here's what he says, interviewed by the radical leftist magizine "The American Conservative":
The American Conservative: Your new book, Dying to Win, has a subtitle: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Can you just tell us generally on what the book is based, what kind of research went into it, and what your findings were?

Robert Pape: Over the past two years, I have collected the first complete database of every suicide-terrorist attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. This research is conducted not only in English but also in native-language sources—Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, and Tamil, and others—so that we can gather information not only from newspapers but also from products from the terrorist community. The terrorists are often quite proud of what they do in their local communities, and they produce albums and all kinds of other information that can be very helpful to understand suicide-terrorist attacks.

This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

This is a Marxist group, a completely secular group that draws from the Hindu families of the Tamil regions of the country. They invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the suicide vest from the Tamil Tigers.

TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

TAC: That would seem to run contrary to a view that one heard during the American election campaign, put forth by people who favor Bush’s policy. That is, we need to fight the terrorists over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.

RP: Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies over there, if you would, is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us.

Since 1990, the United States has stationed tens of thousands of ground troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and that is the main mobilization appeal of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. People who make the argument that it is a good thing to have them attacking us over there are missing that suicide terrorism is not a supply-limited phenomenon where there are just a few hundred around the world willing to do it because they are religious fanatics. It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.

TAC: If we were to back up a little bit before the invasion of Iraq to what happened before 9/11, what was the nature of the agitprop that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were putting out to attract people?

RP: Osama bin Laden’s speeches and sermons run 40 and 50 pages long. They begin by calling tremendous attention to the presence of tens of thousands of American combat forces on the Arabian Peninsula.

In 1996, he went on to say that there was a grand plan by the United States—that the Americans were going to use combat forces to conquer Iraq, break it into three pieces, give a piece of it to Israel so that Israel could enlarge its country, and then do the same thing to Saudi Arabia. As you can see, we are fulfilling his prediction, which is of tremendous help in his mobilization appeals.

TAC: The fact that we had troops stationed on the Arabian Peninsula was not a very live issue in American debate at all. How many Saudis and other people in the Gulf were conscious of it?

RP: We would like to think that if we could keep a low profile with our troops that it would be okay to station them in foreign countries. The truth is, we did keep a fairly low profile. We did try to keep them away from Saudi society in general, but the key issue with American troops is their actual combat power. Tens of thousands of American combat troops, married with air power, is a tremendously powerful tool.

Now, of course, today we have 150,000 troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and we are more in control of the Arabian Peninsula than ever before.

TAC: If you were to break down causal factors, how much weight would you put on a cultural rejection of the West and how much weight on the presence of American troops on Muslim territory?

RP: The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.

(Note: emphasis mine)
Ok, kids, now do you get it? Do you see how badly we've allowed ourselves to be duped, lied to? Gawd a'mighty, how much more jingoistic jargon do we need to hear before we realize that we've totally screwed the pooch with this one?

Oh, and for all the Right-wingers who yearn for 'victory' in Iraq, and war with Iran and domination of Syria and a wall around Israel and free oil from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and privatization of all American services both at home and abroad?

Go to hell. You don't even deserve to die.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do

As this Thanksgiving winds down after Pam's fantastic dinner, and I have time to reflect, I find myself thankful for several things:

Family, who have to love you even when you act like a jerk:

Family far, far away:

Family too new to really understand, yet precious beyond measure:

Old friends:

New friends;

Lifelong romance that goes from here:

to here:

and the thread that ties it all together: Music.

18th century:

19th century:

Mid-20th century:

Later 20th century:

Late 20th century:

21st century players playing 20th century music. It's really all rock'n'roll:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why don't we steal away

If you're caught street racing, your car can be destroyed:
RIALTO - Zero to seven in 30 minutes.
It might sound slow, but that's about how long it took Tuesday to crush seven cars confiscated by the Ontario Police Department for illegal street racing.

As fast and furious as these dragsters might once have been, law enforcement was fastly and furiously destroying them.

"It's becoming a good deterrent," said Officer Thomas O'Dell as a blue 1990 Acura Integra was smashed into just a shell at the Ecology Auto Parts wrecking yard. A loud pop sounded as the air rushed out of its tires.

Under a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the Illegal Street Racing Task Force has been waging a crackdown on illegal racing and auto theft, which are inextricably linked.

No one with any degree of intelligence thinks street racing is a good idea, and punish the evil-doers, that's fine. But I can think of several things that can be done with legally confiscated cars: donation to charity, homeless shelters, working poor, other options.

But no, the police, acting like schoolyard bullies, smash them.

While he action here is based on criminal laws, there is too strong a whiff of civil forfeiture here:
The widespread use of such proceedings, which usually involve assertion of in rem jurisdiction, has also brought many complaints about their misuse to deprive innocent persons of their lawful property. Without a requirement to prove that a crime had been committed, much less committed by the party in possession of the property, it has become too easy, the critics say, for law enforcement personnel to seize and prosecutors to forfeit properties worth as much as $20,000 because it will likely cost the person that much in legal fees to recover them.

Wha does this mean? That your assets may be siezed under the flimsiest pretext, and you're screwed trying to get them back.

Kevin Drum has more (guess what-it relates to the walking tool known as Giuliani):
Civil asset forfeiture became all the rage among law enforcement during the 90s, and Giuliani was just riding the wave. The idea behind it is that even if someone is acquitted of a criminal act, the state can still seize their property based on mere probable cause that the property was criminally used. The defendant, even though he was found innocent of the underlying crime, can't get his property back unless he goes to court and wins a civil case against the state. There's no presumption of innocence and no need for a unanimous verdict.

Years ago, when I first heard about this, I was appalled. I still am. Even now that I've read enough to understand the legal theory that supports it, I remain appalled. It's the kind of thing that's almost enough to make a libertarian out of me.

Not convinced? Think the ends justify the means? Check this out:
Police stopped 49-year-old Ethel Hylton at Houston's Hobby Airport and told her she was under arrest because a drug dog had scratched at her luggage. Agents searched her bags and strip-searched her, but they found no drugs. They did find $39,110 in cash, money she had received from an insurance settlement and her life savings; accumulated through over 20 years of work as a hotel housekeeper and hospital janitor. Ethel Hylton completely documented where she got the money and was never charged with a crime. But the police kept her money anyway. Nearly four years later, she is still trying to get her money back.

Still believe in "guilty, until proven innocent"?

Didn't think so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

His welfare is of my concern

If you Google "support the troops" it returns 15,900,000 hits. Some are from the US Military, or known pro-military groups like the USO or American Legion.

Many however are like this:
Show your support for our Troops every day by wearing one! The cost of each wristband is $3.00 plus $.50 for postage. We also have child-size wristbands for $2.50 plus $.50 for postage. All of the proceeds go to sending packages to our Troops for the holidays.

Lovely. But what's the the catch? A very small caveat at the bottom reads:
Operation Support our Troops is registered under the Charitable Solicitations Program of the State of Washington but it is not a non-profit corporation so all donations are gifts from the heart.

In other words, buy my stuff so I can make money off the suffering of the troops.

Others offer to directly send gifts, cards, prayers, often with vague assurances that most of the money donated will go toward actual help.

But why, you might ask, are we being asked to help pay for things like medical care, armor, and help for wounded soldiers' families? Here's a quote from the official US Military support site:
Because America Supports You is a Department of Defense program we cannot accept outside donations. Instead, we encourage you to contact one of the many homefront groups to find out how you can contribute to their efforts. These fantastic organizations are making a real difference. They send care packages and letters to our service members, provide direct assistance for military families and support the wounded – just to name a few.

How's that again? You need us to support stuff for the troops that maybe, just maybe, ought to be their due from the US government? Nah, not likely. From the Assoc. Press:
A soldier facing his second tour of duty in Iraq said in a jailhouse interview Monday that he was at a hospital seeking mental help when he was arrested in the middle of the night for allegedly being absent without leave.

Spc. Justin Faulkner insists his superior officers at Fort Campbell knew about his mental problems but refused to provide adequate treatment.

On Thursday, Faulkner checked into a Lexington VA hospital, where doctors told him they wanted to keep him until Monday for observation. Police showed up at the hospital shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday to take him to jail.

Read the whole article, it's quite sad. It's really no different from being a political prisoner, except it's our own government that quite literally owns your ass.

h/t to the Mom.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Robbery, assault and battery, the felon and his felony

The ever-vigilant Mom sent me this news article a few days ago:
Rare Robbery Case Brings Cries of Racism

Three young black men break into a white man's home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them to death - but it's the surviving black man who is charged with murder.

In a case that has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups, Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county under a rarely invoked legal doctrine that could make him responsible for the bloodshed.

"It was pandemonium" inside the house that night, District Attorney Jon Hopkins said. Hughes was responsible for "setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices."

Prosecutors said homeowner Shannon Edmonds opened fire Dec. 7 after three young men rampaged through the Clearlake house demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson. Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, were shot in the back. Hughes fled.

I wasn't sure what to think about it, and since I'm not an attorney, and don't even play one on the teevee, I sent it off to Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft.

At first she wasn't going to tackle the issue, but then she emailed me back:
Thanks, this is now bothering me. I've written it up here and hat tipped you. So now you have to write about it!

Here's her take on the case, with many passionate comments:
I'm aware of felony murder laws, in which one participant in, say a bank robbery, is held liable for murder if another participant kills someone during the course of the crime or the getaway, but this California case is going a step further.

. . . The murder charge is based on California's Provocative Act doctrine --

The Provocative Act doctrine does not require prosecutors to prove the accused intended to kill. Instead, "they have to show that it was reasonably foreseeable that the criminal enterprise could trigger a fatal response from the homeowner," said Brian Getz, a San Francisco defense attorney unconnected to the case.

The doctrine is used so rarely the NAACP is alleging the charges are racially motivated. It's also are asking why the homeowner wasn't charged with murder.

I don't like the idea of making defendants liable for the acts of victims.

I also think this is a case of over-charging. The homeowner's step-son was beaten with a baseball bat and is so brain-damaged he can't feed himself and lives in a rehab facility. That's the crime the defendant should be held accountable for (assuming it wasn't self-defense) and I would bet that California's attempted murder, aggravated robbery and assault penalties, to name a few, have penalty enhancements that could keep this defendant in prison for decades if convicted of committing or aiding and abetting that attack.

I think her analysis is good. Again, I'm clearly a legal amateur here, and while I feel everyone is entitled to protect their homes, still, I'm troubled by this from the original article:
Brown and other NAACP officials are asking why the homeowner is walking free. Tests showed Edmonds had marijuana and prescription medication in his system the night of the shooting. Edmonds had a prescription for both the pot and the medication to treat depression.

"This man had no business killing these boys," Brown said. "They were shot in the back. They had fled."
And this:
"I didn't do anything wrong. All I did was defend my family and my children's lives," said Edmonds, 33. "I'm sad the kids are dead, I didn't mean to kill them."

He added: "Race has nothing to do with it other than this was a gang of black people who thought they were going to beat up this white family."

There's the unintended punch line in the last sentence: Black people who were going to beat up a white family. I'd be curious to search statistics in the county on Black vs. White crime and prosecution, and I'm pretty sure what I'd find. That doesn't excuse the crime and the beating. But vigilante style action by a homeowner can't be unchallenged.

Jeralyn mentioned a famous case in her email to me that she didn't include in her post, where prosecutorial zeal seems to have led to overcharging:
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday reversed the felony murder conviction and life sentence of Lisl Auman, who was found guilty of murder even though she was handcuffed and in the back of a police car when a companion shot and killed a police officer.

The court said the conviction was flawed because the judge's instructions to the jury on a related burglary charge may have been improper. Auman's conviction on the burglary charge allowed the jury to find her guilty of felony murder, which carries a sentence of life without parole.

The court ordered a new trial but upheld the law that allowed Auman to be convicted of felony murder as an accomplice, even though she did not kill anyone. "... It does not matter that the defendant had no intent to kill or that the defendant did not cause the killing," the court ruled.

Maybe so, maybe not. But clearly this case, and the California one, are not black & white, no pun intended. There are shades of gray in the law; there have to be.

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 19

Another entry in the Underappreciated guitarist series...

Billy Idol was one of the iconic performers of the early MTV era. Attractive, with exciting songs, and willing to do elaborate videos, he became a star in large part because of the influence of the video world. His songs rocked, even though most were constrained by the innovative (at the time) use of a LinnDrum drum machine.

But he wouldn't have rocked as much without his main performing partner, guitarist Steve Stevens:
His hit-making collaboration with Billy Idol began when Idol moved from the UK to the U.S., shortly after the latter's band Generation X disbanded. Stevens co-wrote and played on the albums Don't Stop EP, Billy Idol (1982), Rebel Yell (1984), Whiplash Smile (1986), and the remix collection Vital Idol (1985).

Musical differences during the Whiplash Smile sessions led to the pair's parting of ways (namely, Steve's jazz-laden guitar work on the cut "Man For All Seasons"). In (1987) Michael Jackson hired Stevens to back him on the Dirty Diana track.

. . . After an extended hiatus, Stevens and Idol reunited in 1999 for a series of tours across the USA and Australia. This era included a recording captured for the VH1 show Storytellers, which was subsequently released on CD and DVD. Stevens also appeared in the Billy Idol episode of VH1's Behind The Music.

Such was the success of this renewed collaboration, in 2005, along with producer Keith Forsey, the duo released Billy Idol's Devil's Playground album. This was the first album to feature the trio since 1986's Whiplash Smile. Also touring with Idol was keyboardist Derek Sherinian - Stevens played and co-wrote three songs on Sherinian's 2004 solo album "Mythology".

Great guitarists are often obscured by the more visual talents of the singer, it's the price they pay. Still, so many front persons would be so lacking without their star instrumentalists and collaborators behind them.

Here's Steve playing a song for some little movie starring Tom Cruise, often credited to other fine guitarists:

And here's some nice acoustic playing:

As an added treat, here's a live, unplugged video of "Rebel Yell". Stripped of the production elements of the recording, this video proves 2 things: 1) a good song doesn't need a big production to be great, and 2) Steven's contribution to Idol's success is invaluable.

Here's Steve's website:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

If you want me to keep your little secret

Joseph Heller wrote a great novel called Catch-22, which describes a paradox of logic:
Catch-22 is a term coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, describing a paradox in a law, regulation or practice in which one is a victim regardless of the choice one makes[1]. In probability theory, it refers a situation similar to Heads I win, tails you lose. A familiar example of this circumstance occurs in the context of job searching. In moving from school to a career, one may encounter a Catch-22 where one cannot get a job without work experience, but one cannot gain experience without a job. Catch-22 situations are also sometimes called the chicken or the egg problems.

Of course, that never happens in real life. Except when it does, and like in the book, there ain't nothin' you can do about it:
A federal appeals court dealt a near-fatal blow Friday to an Islamic charity's lawsuit alleging it was illegally wiretapped by federal investigators, saying that a key piece of evidence the charity planned to use is a protected state secret.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that a top secret call log accidentally turned over to the now-defunct U.S. arm of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation's lawyers by the U.S. Treasury Department can't be used as evidence.

Al-Haramain, which was labeled by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, alleged it had been illegally wiretapped by the Bush administration without a warrant. But without the document, the court said, the foundation has little proof it was wiretapped.

And the real Catch-22 in this case?
The charity's lawyers voluntarily turned over the document to FBI agents after it was given to them. But a lower court ruled that the lawyers couldn't use the actual document to support their lawsuit but could use their memories of its contents to go forward.

Got that? The government gave them the document, the charity's lawyers "did the right thing" and gave it back. And now they can't use it to prove their innocence!

FindLaw has more details:
The decision, which reversed a lower court ruling, was a victory for the White House, but it didn't entirely put the issue to rest. The judges sent the case to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco to determine whether the law governing the wiretapping of suspected terrorists trumps the state secrets law.

. . . The appellate court's ruling also didn't resolve another lawsuit that more broadly challenges the warrantless wiretapping program.

An attorney for Al-Haramain said he was pleased with the appellate court's ruling because it gave him another chance to bring a lawsuit under a different argument.

"This is back to the drawing board," lawyer John Eisenberg said. "My case is still very much alive and kicking."

Of course, the GWBushCo administration has broadly expanded their interpretation of state secrets law, ruling that exposing illegal activities of the government violated the law, thereby invoking, once again, Catch-22.


(h/t to the vacationing Sailor)

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

I'm at this event with RJ Eskow, DDay and Dante from Calitics, and several real MSM press folks:

Los Angeles, CA – For the first time in history, presidential candidates will take part in a forum focused on the issues of global warming and America’s energy future this Saturday, November 17th at the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles. The forum will be webcast live beginning at approximately 2:00pm PST, 5:00pm EST at:

Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Congressman Dennis Kucinich are confirmed to attend the presidential forum sponsored by Grist ( and PRI’s Living on Earth ( The candidates will present their plans to address global warming and energy issues in a series of interviews with journalists and experts in the field. All candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties have been invited.

Updates will come as events unfold. I'm not sure if we can actually liveblog the event, we'll see.

We've also been promised (maybe) some actual face time with the candidates, so that could be interesting.

Update: David Dayen at Calitics is live blogging. RJ Eskow also live blogged.

Update: Cleaned up, edited for clarity, grammar, spelling, hopefully.

Kucinich (no notes, spoke well)

Great to be at forum not sponsored by coal industry. Tribute to Rachel Carson, Al Gore, others; called upon to talk about direction; drives a Ford Focus, vegan diet, personal choices-how do you live?

US must lead the way to abolish all nukes, participate in climate change talks.
Says our gov't is retrofitting B2 bombers with stealth tech and bombs to bomb iran; says his would be a “Works Green Administration” with environmental consciousness in all aspects of gov't. All gov't department involved in sustainabilty:
  • Transportation: mass transit;
  • Housing: green housing;
  • Energy: disincentives for coal/nuclear, incentivize solar, microtech;
  • Health: preventive health care;
  • Education: teach environmental principles.
  • Labor & Interior: disincentivise reduction of natural resources, land, no uranium mining on native American land.
K: Can challenge any & all industries; of/by/for the people; (huge applause).

Q: We once had a vp who wrote a book about climate change, got no action in congress; what can you do to reverse dynamics?
K: Cleveland once had mayor who believed all institutions should be public; imagine a pres who isn’t tied to interest groups; no hesitation to go over congress’ head to people.

Q: People fear losing jobs?
K: High energy costs in NE caused by investment in nuclear energy; resistance generally from interest groups, who control gov't.

Q: Is pension enough to offer workers
K: I support a guaranteed income, dividend! No one should be homeless, hungry.

Q: I'm not sure coal miners will be satisfied with guaranteed income; squeezing of jobs overseas
K: Energy companies, other countries have plans to build new coal powered plants around world; UN report will have much impact; clean coal is oxymoron; pay miners what they are used to; HR3300 bipartisan; new tech = new jobs, will lower utility bill, etc. Monopolies won't happy, but tough for them.

Q: People most harmed by Global Warming live in 3rd world countries, how do you help them?
K: Cap & Trade is a phony solution; we must reduce carbon footprint; islands starting to be flooded by rising ocean waters; losing our capacity for moral reasoning (in constitution); trade agreements must include workers’ rights, and environmental quality principles.

Standing ovation.

Hillary Clinton (lots of boos during intro)(speaking from notes)

This is appropriate location for forum because California leads on environmental issues; UN report today, has laid out plan; some still hold the disgraced view that no action is needed, we can’t fiddle while world warms.

Air pollution causes 24k premature deaths, 1/3 child asthma cases; what should we not to do? Look at the last 7 years. More dependence on foreign oil now than on 9/11.

Today you will hear applause for some speeches, but I hope we’re here to be serious (implying Kucinich isn't serious).

3 goals:
  • 1: Reduce greenhouse gases,
  • 2: Cut foreign oil imports,
  • 3: innovation in clean air efficiency.
California has held per person electricity use flat for 30 years; sadly, many people believe case for Global Warming hasn’t been made yet.

Market based cap & trade is the way; she is only candidate who could hit the ground running: issue Executive Order-all new federal buildings would be carbon neutral; take tax subsidies away from gas & oil companies; raise fuel efficiency standards for autos.

US treasury will issue Energy Independence Bonds, sell bonds; use money for energy investment.

Will create National Energy Council, National Energy Advisor; Recommend new treaty to replace Kyoto.

Partial standing ovation (note: a Code Pink heckler was led out by police. I had taken a bathroom break, saw him loaded into police car.)

Q: Last 3 Presidents vowed to work reduce greenhouse gases, what’s different about you?
H: GWBush had no intention to work against climate change, Bush41 did good job, Clinton/Gore did good job; there are 3 major differences now:
  • 1. People’s awareness greater now than 7 years ago.
  • 2. The world is moving to global commitment; US doesn’t want to feel left behind because other countries doing good job, need to reassert global leadership.
  • 3. Commitment can work when electorate, congress, ready to act.
House & Senate each passed good energy bill, we'll see what eventually comes of it; she will use executive orders.

Cosponsor of Boxer/Sanders bill, but any bill out of Environmental committee will be vetoed by GWBush.

Especially important to work with China; say to them: if you continue to use coal, you need to work toward carbon sequestration; we should work with them on demo projects, wind, solar, etc. We’re not trying to slow China & India down, we’re trying to help their economy.

Applause, standing ovation.

John Edwards

The system in DC is broken; gives thanks to Gore; the world knows Global Warming is a crisis. Politicians are too afraid to rock boat, elected leaders overrun by need to spend time chasing money; oil companies spending $$$ to make sure we are addicted to oil.

Today's UN report is more evidence than anyone should need; US will send a representative to conference in Bali with no clue.

I came out early and aggressively on Global Warming, we need to lead the world, create new energy fund by auctioning pollution permits, repealing oil co subsidies.

The cap & trade system will have effect on fossil fuel costs, prices will go up; it's a political strategy doomed to failure. Sacrifice will be required, change won’t be easy.

Elizabeth & I sat in hospital room, decided to continue my Presidential campaign to “tell truth” (invoking sympathy).

Bell Labs, a US company invented the solar cell in 1954, now 95% of solar cells are made overseas. I read that “Foreign firms envision wind farms in US”-why aren't US corporations thinking the same way?

I will pledge:
  1. Will cut carbon welfare subsidies to oil and energy companies;
  2. New era in innovation, smart electrical grids, safer;
  3. Seed innovation, low interest loans to homeowners, industry;
  4. New market; utilities –separate energy sales profits from innovation.
These steps will mean higher energy prices for a while, families will ultimately come out ahead, after sacrifice; we should be patriotic about something other than war. The Greatest Generation during/after WWII did great things; this is the moral test of our generation: will we leave our children a better world, as our grandparents and parents did?

Now is time for Dem party to be bold, stand up for what we believe in; We need to leave behind political calculations.

Q: Calling on people to sacrifice? How did we (as a country) get there? You’ve sacrificed a lot-how do you get America to sacrifice?
JE: There is a hunger to act as a national community; to take action, to “ask not what your country can do for you...”. We’re not going to be careful, not going to be politically cautious. I will call on Americans to sacrifice. The government is corrupt:
  • Why no universal health care? Because of drug companies.
  • Why no attack on Global Warming? Oil companies. Narrow interests run the government.
Q: Talking about shared sacrifice, burdens will not shared in all locations, like coal country?
JE: No more coal fired power plants until carbon sequestration is implemented. Families in coal regions: make polluters pay; money from cap & trade to help families; this will create 1 million new jobs, where? Generate them in hardship areas: rural, inner cities.

Q: Should rights to pollute be auctioned off to help people?
JE: A portion of it, rest to developing technologies.

Q: Impacts will hit world’s most vulnerable hard? What can America do to help?
JE: America providing miniscule help; the world will face difficult time. Be willing to invest in infrastructure, drought resistant crops in 3rd world. 3 billion people live on $2/day.

America needs to be a leader, but isn’t. We should lead the effort for education,\; spend $50 billion in AIDS prevention; clean drinking water; microloans.

The only way to be credible leader is to lead.

Q: How can America lead on climate change? Our credibility is shot; the world thinks we went to war over oil.
JE: We have enormous responsibility to lead, the world needs to see America act in an unselfish way. We’re an example of bad behavior, we need to re-establish moral leadership. We need to end war in Iraq, reverse things:
  • Guantanamo;
  • Illegal spying;
  • No more rendition, secret prisons.
Why as a country do we debate about torture? What is wrong? It's not our America, we need to take it back.

Q: Reality is, none of the bills will pass, we need 60 votes. Should we compromise or hold out on better legislation?
JE: The most powerful weapon: don’t sit at conference tables with industry and lobbyists & scared politicians. If we act like we did in working toward civil & women’s rights, the politicians will follow.

We need public campaign financing; there are practical politics involved. We need to increase strengths in House & Senate; America wants change, something different. We need to weed out corruption, status quo. I am certain I can go into swing state and be helpful to the Democratic cause (is this a concession that he may not win, but would work for Democratic candidates?).

Q: The candidates are out ahead of media, how to get through media filter?
JE: All the media consolidation ia a bad thing! (applause in press tent). Big corporations are bad; the Presidential debates spend more time sniping, not talking about issues. The media are more interested in horse race, not substance.

Standing ovation.

Press tent:

John Edwards:

1 thing to say, as recap: Global Warming is a huge crisis, we need to take bold action, weed out corruption, influence of oil, gas, energy companies.

Q: McCain/Lieberman bill?
JE: Not good enough.

Q: Difference between you and Hillary?
JE: I came out early, more emphasis on losing corruption, different position on nuclear power: I don’t favor any new nuclear plants.

Q: As we implement ideas into marketplace, changes may not happen fast enough?
JE: I support a 40 mpg standard by 2016, but any standards need to be fluid, to take advantage of new tech.

Q: LA is planning a subway to sea; what is role of mass transit?
JE: Mass transit good thing; we should be very aggressive in projects.

Q: Global Warming: bigger issue than war on terror?
JE: No bigger issue over long term. End the war, change health care, but this is anout saving lives, preservation of planet.

Organizers & panelists available for Q&A

A: We heard a lot of visions, bold plans, ideas. We want more forums, more candidates.
A: More companies say they need federal funds for Global Warming help.
A: Heckler displeased with Sen. Clinton.
A: Energy policies so complex, debate hard.
A: Plenty of good in the proposed energy bill: tax credits, CAFÉ standards, mch that could be done immediately.

Q: Water supply crisis?
A: Water untold energy story.

A: Initiatives coming from bottom up: cities, counties, etc.; the message will drive DC.

The End.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lonely sailors pass the time away, and talk about their homes

VidiotSpeak is a good blog friend of ours. In fact, we borrowed The Sailor from them to write here too.

They have a great new look, snappy design, and still the same great talent.

Best wishes to them!!

You've got to stand and deliver, with your body and soul

(picture of Edwards today at NBC joining the striking WGA and supporting
union members, taken by my friend Bear of Bruin Design)

John Edwards took issue with Hillary laughing about NAFTA last night:
One moment from the debate stuck with me – when Senator Clinton was asked about NAFTA and she tried to joke about charts and laugh about it.

"For the one million Americans who lost their jobs because of NAFTA, this isn't a laughing matter.

Indeed. David Sirota put together this video, showing the laugh-fest along with some sobering facts:

I was invited to participate in a conference call today by David Bonier, Edwards' Campaign Manager. Also on the call were:
  • Congressman Michael Michaud (D-ME), Co-Chairman House Labor and Working Families Caucus,
  • United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard
  • Transport Workers Union International Vice President Roger Tauss
All pretty interesting stuff. They were all reading from talking points, no surprise there, but I was surprised by the passion these guys showed, all of them. Bonier I would suspect it from, but the others, well, I was surprised.

One of the points they made was HRC saying that:
"NAFTA was a mistake to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would..."*

That's pretty tepid criticism of something most on the left think was a bad idea on the best of days, and one of the major disappointments of Bill's Presidency. It appears that either because of ideology, or spousal support, HRC hasn't moved past that issue.

But now she is supporting the pending Peru Trade Agreement. Here's what Edwards says about that:
Despite strong efforts by many Democrats in Congress, labor organizations and fair trade advocates to embed international labor standards into the Agreement, what resulted were references to general principles and not specific standards. And the Agreement still replicates and in fact expands all of the other most damaging aspects of past trade agreements. In short, this agreement does not meet my standard of putting American workers and communities first, ahead of the interests of the big multinational corporations, which for too long have rigged our trade policies for themselves and against American families.

Well. HRC may be leading the polls, and she'd clearly be better than any Republican, but as my favorite Dem. candidate?

Eh, not so much.

* HRC quote from the NYTimes video and transcript of the debate.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Outrage Fatigue

I know how it is. You've had it up to here. There are only so many stories about blood and death and pain you can take, only so many times you can hear about random shootings and corporate malfeasance and how BushCo's squad of scabrous flying monkeys have, say, supported torture or endorsed wiretapping or gouged the nation for another $200 billion to pay for a failed war. Your nerves are raw and your heart is tired and the media will just not shut the hell up already about the sadness and the war and the mayhem and the Cheney and the doom doom doom.

It is outrage fatigue, and it is epidemic. It's that feeling that we are being hammered unlike any time in recent history with so many appalling and disgusting and violently un-American incidents and scandals and manipulations that our b.s.-detectors are smoking like an old V-8 engine on a hot summer's day and it's all we can do to get up every day without screaming.
Yeah. What he said. Read the rest of it while I take a few days off to contemplate my naval ... or maybe someone else's navel.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Can't you hear me calling

Best news from the senate in some time, from Chris Dodd:
Senator and Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd today issued the following statement after a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) granting immunity to companies who participated with the Bush Administration in violating the civil liberties of millions of Americans was taken out of the Senate bill.

"I'm heartened to see that the Senate Judiciary Committee has affirmed, as I and thousands of other people around the country have, that those telecommunications companies that participated with the Bush Administration in trampling millions of Americans' civil liberties should not receive retroactive immunity for their participation. This is a victory for the rule of law and everyone who cares about preserving our Constitution.

"Getting results begins with standing for principles that you believe in, stating your position clearly, and working toward that end.

"As the debate over retroactive immunity moves to the Senate floor, I'll take this opportunity to reiterate my pledge to filibuster any legislation that grants immunity in any form to these telecom companies."

Well. Indeed. The "F" word at last from a Democrat.

Of course, the fight is only beginning, but to continue the metaphor, we seem to have won the first round. And we still have turncoat Jay Rockefeller to deal with:
Senate Judiciary Committee members yesterday angrily accused the White House of allowing the Senate Intelligence Committee to review documents on its warrantless surveillance program in return for agreeing that telecommunications companies should get immunity from lawsuits.

. . . On Friday, White House press secretary Dana Perino said that Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and ranking member Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.)'s staff "showed a willingness" to include immunity in their legislation. "Because they were willing to do that, we were willing to show them some of the documents that they asked to see."

So because they were willing to shill for the administration, Rockefeller and Bond (R-Tool) were given the cookies to eat.

Jane has more over at FDL.

cuz everybody knows, I'm a man with a mission

9/11 changed everything! It's a post-9/11 world! Global war on Islamowankerism!

No, not Rudy Giuliani's campaign slogans, but close: Slogans thrown around by GWBush and Right-wingers, and even some lefties, in recent years.

We're being pressed to accept a war on any form of terroristic activity, except when we aren't actually at war against terrorists. Exhibit 1: Osama Bin Laden.

Exhibit 2: Luis Posada:
In the first Congressional hearing held on the controversial case of violent Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight invited National Security Archive Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh to testify on formerly top secret CIA and FBI intelligence reports linking Posada to the October 6, 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner. In his testimony, Kornbluh argued that the declassified records demonstrated that Posada had concrete foreknowledge of the bombing; was in possession of a surveillance report on Cuban targets that included the doomed plane; received coded messages immediately after the plane went into the ocean from the men who placed the bombs; and was quickly identified by multiple FBI and CIA sources in Venezuela as one of two masterminds of the attack that claimed the lives of all 73 passengers and crew.

Kornbluh called Posada “one of the most prolific purveyors of political violence in recent history” and said that the evidence in the plane bombing was “more than sufficient” to have detained Posada for acts of international terrorism under the Patriot Act. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to designate Posada as a terrorist and a judge dismissed immigration fraud charges against him last spring. Posada now lives freely in Miami, as does Orlando Bosch, who the CIA and FBI both identify as a co-conspirator in the plane bombing. “The United States now finds itself in the frankly inexplicable position of having not one but both men who our own intelligence agencies identified as responsible for bringing down a civilian airliner living free and unfettered lives in Florida,” Kornbluh told the Committee.

Nice to know our government, kept small and weak by the conservatives in power now (note: irony) has done so much to protect us. They can talk ATT into spying on my email, but can't actually be bothered to find actual terrorists, even when they know where they are.

Oh, and that horrible, brutish dictator of Cuba, Castro, would like to get his hands on Posada. But no, we can't have that, now, can we?

Because besides bombing innocents. Posada wants to oust Castro. And nothing else matters:
The idealized Cuban landscapes that Luis Posada Carriles paints are nothing like the world he inhabits -- a world of conspiracies to murder Fidel Castro, bomb his hotels and blow up his freighters.

The 68-year-old Posada is already known as a Bay of Pigs veteran, former CIA operative, accused bomber of a jetliner in which 73 people died and alleged mastermind of a streak of bombings in Cuba last summer.

Here are many more links to Posada's long history of terrorism. And his ties to U.S. interests.

The incompetence, it overwhelms.


Update: darkblack adds in the comments that as usual, a Bush is involved (from 2002):
The brother of President George Bush, the Florida governor, Jeb Bush, has been instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offences, according to a new book. The Bush family has also accommodated the demands of Cuban exile hardliners in exchange for electoral and financial support, the book suggests.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Intel Chief Blasts 'Cherry Picked' Intel

WASHINGTON -- National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell said Tuesday he would resign if administration officials mischaracterized or "cherry-picked" intelligence to support their own political agenda.

"If it were cherry-picked in an inappropriate way, then for me, that's a professional obligation to object, and I would submit my resignation," McConnell told reporters.
In the first place I'm not willing to trust a guy who says he doesn't know if water boarding is torture, and his excuse of 'not being briefed on it' is lame considering it's already been classified and prosecuted as torture by the US, but one also has to wonder at his integrity when he implied it was OK to cherry-pick the data resulting in National Intelligence Estimates if it wasn't used "in an inappropriate way."

What appropriate way is there to lie, whether by commission or omission, about data that lead/leads our country to war?

But wait, there's more!
A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear programme, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.
The draft NIE first completed a year ago, which had included the dissenting views, was not acceptable to the White House, according to the former intelligence officer. "They refused to come out with a version that had dissenting views in it," he says.
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Cross posted at VidiotSpeak