Sunday, May 31, 2009

just a little bit of spanish castle magic

Byron York, right-wing hairstyle that walks like a man, attempts to rain on the Sotomayor parade and invokes the sainted name of Miguel Estrada, who, like Sotomayor, seems to be Latino. But there, all resemblance ends.

York in the Washington Examiner:
In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated former Justice Department lawyer Miguel Estrada to a seat on the federal courts of appeals. In that instance, as today, the nominee was was a Hispanic with a compelling story and impressive qualifications. And some of the very people who are today praising Sotomayor spent their time devising extraordinary measures to kill Estrada's chances.

His "dark-and-stormy-night" goes on to describe furtive meetings with shadowy liberal groups like the NAACP and People For The American Way, who issues marching orders to Dick Durbin and other senators:
"They also identified Miguel Estrada as especially dangerous," the staffer added, "because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."

Yeah. About that. Dahlia Lithwick unpacks the story further:
But the most vocal objections come from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a group of 20 House Democrats who, unable to evaluate Estrada based on his judicial experience (he has none) or legal writings (which are not being produced) met with him for an hour last June, in the basement of the Capitol. Their conclusion? According to Rep. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Estrada "shares a surname" with Latinos but has done little to help them. Menendez complains that Estrada had not set up internships or mentorship programs specifically aimed at helping young Latino lawyers, and he told Democrats that his ethnicity would be irrelevant to his day-to-day work as a judge.

Armando at Talk Left adds more criticism of York:
What Byron York will not acknowledge is that unlike Democratic opposition to Estrada, which was based on his ideology, not once did a Democrat or progressive say that Estrada lived a "privileged" life filled with "preferential treatment." Yet that is precisely what York's conservative cohorts have done to Sotomayor. When York confronts Michael Goldfarb, Fred Barnes, Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Tom Tancredo and the rest of the despicable racialists in his Party, then come back and talk to us.

An old Source Watch post (with broken links) describes Estrada according to the DOJ where he worked:
Miguel Estrada is a Federalist Society member and former clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy. He is also a partner in the law firm that represented President George W. Bush before the Supreme Court during his post-election legal fight with Al Gore. Estrada is a strong supporter of capital punishment whose judicial philosophy has been compared to that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Maybe it's just me, but that's plenty of reason to filibuster Estrada. And none of it applies to Sotomayor.

Note the very cool quote from "The Breeze and I" in Jimi's solo. Nice.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In honor of North Korea, and Pakistan

Steve Bates of The Yellow Something Something (formerly known as The Yellow Doggerel Democrat) referred me to the wonderful Tom Lehrer and his song,"We will all go together when we go." Since I listened to it on YouTube, it has gotten stuck in my brain...

So I thought I'd share.

When you attend a funeral,
It is sad to think that sooner or
Later those you love will do the same for you.
And you may have thought it tragic,
Not to mention other adjec-
Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do.
But don't you worry.
No more ashes, no more sackcloth.
And an armband made of black cloth
Will some day never more adorn a sleeve.
For if the bomb that drops on you
Gets your friends and neighbors too,
There'll be nobody left behind to grieve.

And we will all go together when we go.
What a comforting fact that is to know.
Universal bereavement,
An inspiring achievement,
Yes, we all will go together when we go.

We will all go together when we go.
All suffuse with an incandescent glow.
No one will have the endurance
To collect on his insurance,
Lloyd's of London will be loaded when they go.

Oh we will all fry together when we fry.
We'll be french fried potatoes by and by.
There will be no more misery
When the world is our rotisserie,
Yes, we will all fry together when we fry.

And we will all bake together when we bake.
There'll be nobody present at the wake.
With complete participation
In that grand incineration,
Nearly three billion hunks of well-done steak.

Oh we will all char together when we char.
And let there be no moaning of the bar.
Just sing out a Te Deum
When you see that I.C.B.M.,
And the party will be "come as you are."

Oh we will all burn together when we burn.
There'll be no need to stand and wait your turn.
When it's time for the fallout
And Saint Peter calls us all out,
We'll just drop our agendas and adjourn.

And we will all go together when we go.
Ev'ry Hottenhot and ev'ry Eskimo.
When the air becomes uranious,
And we will all go simultaneous.
Yes we all will go together
When we all go together,
Yes we all will go together when we go.

(edited to match the YouTube version a bit more)

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 28

I know I've written about this before, but have patience with me as I make a new point. There were two occasions in pop/rock music, pretty close together in '69-'70, where Everything Changed:

The first Led Zeppelin album came out in January 1969.

The first Black Sabbath album was released in February 1970.

Upon hearing both albums, every musician I knew realized that the bar had been raised, and music was entering new territory. And while the bands were really quite different, they do share many influences as well as mythologies: both are often mentioned as the first "Heavy Metal" band.

While both are indeed heavy, I think Sabbath is a better candidate for the title, as Zep, under Jimmy Page's direction, was a more experimental, blues-driven group, where Page could use Robert Plant's unique vocals as part of an orchestration along with guitar tones that were different and pretty exciting.

But Sabbath had the hands-down edge in Heavy, with Tony Iommi's use of what came to be known as power chords, and simplistic, insistent, and compelling "riffs", or repeated musical motifs.

So did Iommi invent the use of "power chords"? For those unfamiliar with the term, a power chord is a note grouping using just root and fifth notes, with no third. Thus, a C power chord would use C & G notes, with no E. This means that there is no 'major' or 'minor' distinction, but rather a universality of a solid chord. The 'prettiness' of the major, and the 'darkness' of the minor are non-existant, and all that remains are the solid, resonant foundation of the chord.

And back to the question, did Iommi invent power chords? No. Several players and bands were exploring these chord formations, including a certain Mr. Hendrix. But who actually used them first?

The first real usage of the power chord was much earlier, in my opinion, and it was by the unlikely but very talented Scotty Moore, guitarist for Elvis Presley, in the recording of Hound Dog. The song, originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton, is what is called a "12 bar blues" format. A chord chart would look like this:


with each Roman Numeral representing the chords of the progression relative to the root key. If the song is in the key of E, then I = E, IV = A, and V = B.

All this is to set up the following premise: Listen the the original recording of Hound Dog, and listen to what Scotty Moore is playing on the I chords: Root-fifth notes, with no thirds. And thus was the power chord born.

Oh, and listen to the solo. Pretty serious rock chops for the day. For both of those, Scotty Moore is the latest Under-Appreciated Guitarist in the series.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fly on little wing

While many progressive and left-leaning blogs also traffic in humor, wit, and even snark, there are a few that are deadly serious, chock full of great issue-oriented writing by very smart people.

One of the top in this category is OpenLeft, and they're having a little fund raiser:
Even during a time when progressives and Democrats are ascendant politically, very few political organizations and media outlets overtly self-identify as left-wing in America. The urge that many politicians, pundits and organizational staff have to apologize for being leftist, or deny they are leftist altogether, is palpable. See, for example, Democrats tripping over themselves to call Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor moderate. While conservative, pro-corporate policies have driven the country into a ditch, being called "liberal," "leftist," and to a lesser degree "progressive," remains a label that most prominent Democrats and advocacy organizations work to avoid at all costs.

Open Left is a rare exception to this rule. We have consistently produced analysis, and organized activist campaigns, with unabashedly left-wing goals. For example:

  1. When the national media was looking for someone--anyone--to articulate a coherent left-wing critique of Obama administration appointees during the transition, they had few places to turn but Open Left.
  2. When others complained about the lack of infrastructure spending in the stimulus, we actually helped increase it.
  3. When, in 2007, Democratic presidential candidates were all claiming they were going to end the war in Iraq, it was Open Left that exposed the reality behind the rhetoric. We forced a national debate over plans to leave tens of thousands of so-called "residual forces". Additionally, we helped produce an alternative policy called the Responsible Plan to End the War, which was signed by several then-congressional candidates, and now-current members of Congress.
Here's what proprietor Chris Bowers says about himself and other main contributors (all true):
Whether it is my polling and demographic analysis, Mike Lux's expansive knowledge of progressive institutions and history, David Sirota's hard-nosed economic populism, or Paul Rosenberg's wide-ranging cultural critique, this is not the sort of thoroughgoing, left-wing, yet still realpolitik, leftism you will find in many other media outlets or political organizations in America.

Seriously, these people are, as Teh Kidz™ used to say, 'The Shit'. They're not just kicking the tires of the progressive car, they're designing the new engine. Help them out if you can, because they deserve it. I'll be sending them some bucks in the next few days. You should too.

On a side note, pretty much everyone who has ever covered Jimi's "Little Wing" has gotten it wrong, including the lovely and talented Stevie Ray Vaughan. How so, you might wonder? The lack of subtleties and restraint. Jimi's setting of the song has softness, and delicacy, and while many of the other versions out there showcase great chops and technique, they still manage to miss the point.

Of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Change, change, change*

On a personal note: I have a habit of emptying my pockets every night and tossing all my change into a brass bowl. When that gets full, (and it takes a while because I use my credit/debit card for most purchases), I transfer the change to a coffee can. Today the coffee can was full and the brass bowl was full.

Which is the long way around of saying: I got a new iPod!

I lost the last one when I put it in my laptop bag, (only Dell would design a laptop bag with outside 'pockets' that had no bottom.) I had so many fond memories of that iPod. [/sigh] But this one is much better and cheaper.

I love my iPod.

*My apologies to Aretha for the title.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

I'm gonna get married

It was a sad day Tuesday for civil rights in California, as the state Supreme Court offered its schizophrenic decision on last November's Prop. H8:
The California Supreme Court's decision Tuesday to uphold Proposition 8 and existing same-sex marriages left in place all rights for California's gays and lesbians except access to the label "marriage," but it provided little protection from future ballot measures that could cost gays and other minorities more rights, lawyers and scholars said Tuesday.

In a 6-1 ruling, the court said the November ballot measure that restored a ban on same-sex marriage was a limited constitutional amendment, not a wholesale revision that would have required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be placed before voters.

One gay friend of mine cynically suggested that the reason the court let the marriages stand was to avoid having to refund the license fees ($70 x 18,000 = $1.26M). I dunno, I'm not sure they're that smart. But grandfathering in actual discrimination seems OK to this court.

Tonight the irony-challenged folks sent out this awful email:
Second, the Court’s decision to continue recognizing those same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses prior to the passage of Prop 8 should be kept in perspective. Remember that a large number of the marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples were for out-of-state residents travelling to California --- which will not be recognized anyway in the vast majority of their home states. Moreover, if California goes as Massachusetts did after legalizing gay marriage, a substantial portion of the still-recognized gay marriages will be dissolved by divorce within a few years. In the end, only a tiny number of gay marriages will continue to be recognized. What really matters is that the vast majority of what was at stake in this case --- the right of the voters to amend the state constitution to restore traditional marriage going forward --- ultimately proved to be a complete victory for us!

While raising the "Gay's are more promiscuous and thus marriages are bound to fail" straw man, and ignoring the real divorce rates with hetero marriages, they count on D-I V-O-R-C-E to further their agenda.

That's some family values we can count on.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bad News, Good News

Prop. 8 upheld by California Supreme Court

The justices uphold the same-sex marriage ban but also rule that the 18,000 gay couples who wed before the November vote will stay married.
It seems to me, while I disagree vehemently with the Californians who voted for bigotry and the Utah Mormons who financed the campaign for bigotry, that the CA constitution was upheld.

I'm certain that citizens of California will strike down this egregious assault on equal rights next time around.

Why am I certain, you ask? Because I have Blind Faith.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Do nine men interpret? Nine men, I nod.

Obama Picks Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court
Great news! She's qualified and she brings a new voice that reflects America to the Court.

Now countdown to repulicant hysteria. 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
Media Matters has the quotes and the video:
In 2005, many Republican Senators went so far as to claim the filibuster of judicial nominees was unconstitutional. Now four years later, with President Obama's first Supreme Court appointment looming, will they remain consistent in their position or commit one of the most blatant acts of hypocrisy in the 220-year history of the United States Senate?
Simple answers to simple questions.

Of course they will.

BTW, there's a term for people who lack empathy, they're called psychopaths.

Should judges use their empathy, (assuming they have it), when deciding cases?

Of course. Not to ignore the law but to apply the law as "Justice tempered with mercy."

INAL, but I think 'intent' is one of the code words they use for such rulings. If the intent of a person flooded out for days with no rescue in sight, (e.g NOLA/Katrina), was to feed their family by breaking into an abandoned store one would hope that the JustUs system would have some empathy. If the said person's intent was to break into a bank for money, the empathy is still there, but probably not in the defendant's favor.

The law should not be black and white because people aren't and the real world isn't. And this is recognized in our adversarial system.

Jury/judge decide not just guilt but what measure of guilt. The prosecution generally levy the most charges possible and paint the defendant in the worst light. The defense generally try to show mitigation of the offenses, and occasionally actual innocence. That includes death row.

Obviously empathy occurs in the real world of American JustUs, because rich old white men judges go easier on rich old white men, out of empathy. (e.g. Enron execs, Maddow & Co., while white collar crimes ruin more lives than the mugger down the street. Yet who gets max time in prison and who gets a slap on the wrist in Club Fed?)

Judge Sotomayor was originally appointed by George Bush I.

The system sucks but I don't know a better one. It sure as heck won't be the end of the world if the US's first Hispanic member of the Supreme Court is also a woman and gets 1 out of nine votes, and an opinion to help decide law in the final chance we have in the JustUs system.

Hey, as the repulicants said:All of the president's nominees-both now and in the future-deserve a fair up or down vote

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, May 25, 2009

Been a soldier for a thousand years

(Written by Buffy Ste. Marie, but this is a great version)

It saddens me that we still need the military. You'd think in this modern world we would have gotten past shooting and bombing as a strategy for diplomacy. But we still have tyrants, 19th century warlords, drug cartels, terrorist extremists, and right-wing neocons driving policy discussions in their own arenas of influence. And from all of those, we still need protection.

So for those who join the military for whatever reason, tragic or heroic, I salute you on this Memorial Day. I wish hopefully that you never are hurt or worse, that your service leaves you feeling uplifted, and that your re-entry into civilian life is smooth.

And for those who are damaged by being involved in a war, my heart goes out to you. I am always mindful of Herbert Read's wrenching poem "Bombing Casualties: Spain":
Dolls' faces are rosier but these were children
their eyes not glass but gleaming gristle
dark lenses in whose quicksilvery glances
the sunlight quivered. These blenched lips
were warm once and bright with blood
but blood
held in a moist bleb of flesh
not spilt and spatter'd in touseled hair.

In these shadowy tresses
red petals did not always
thus clot and blacken to a scar.

These are dead faces:
wasps' nests are not more wanly waxen
wood embers not so grely ashen.

They are laid out in ranks
like paper lanterns that have fallen
after a night of riot
extinct in the dry morning air.

And incidents arose from circumstance

I don't know what to make of North Korea's alleged nuclear test:
North Korea announced Monday that it successfully carried out an underground nuclear test, weeks after threatening to restart its rogue atomic program.

The country's official Korean Central News Agency called Monday's test "part of measures to bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense."

President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency security session. His spokesman, Lee Dong-kwan, confirmed that a nuclear test may have been carried out in the North.

Seismologists from the U.S., South Korea and Japan reported earthquakes in an northeastern area, where North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006.

Still, one thing's pretty clear: the GWBush administration had no real plan nor strategy for dealing with N. Korea beyond calling it part of the "Axis of Evil". That said, they did stop sanctions last year:

President Bush announced Thursday that he will lift U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea — a charter member of the "axis of evil" — and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist now that Pyongyang has met a key requirement of its promise to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

But that lifting of sanctions seems schizophrenic when just 2 weeks earlier:
Further signs are emerging that the US is moving toward a more aggressive stance over North Korea. While there are internal differences over timing and tactics, the Bush administration has taken a series of new steps to isolate and menace Pyongyang over its nuclear programs.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed on Monday that Washington remained committed to restarting six-party talks on North Korea, dismissing comments by an unnamed senior US defence official on Sunday that the US was about to take the issue to the UN Security Council. She did not, however, completely rule out the possibility, instead describing the remarks as “a little forward-leaning”. She declared that no timetable had been set.

So how's all that working out now, Pres. Bush and Sec'y Rice? Oh wait, you don't give a shit. Elvis has left the building.

Now, of course, it's just one more BushCo fuck-up the Obama administration has to clean up. Kind of like international diarrhea: the shit's everywhere.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The dream police, they live inside of my head

The Minority Report, like most of Philip K. Dick's fiction, offers a bleak and disturbing preview of the future where things like "Precrimes" are in fact criminal offenses:
Founded thirty years prior to the story, Precrime is a system which punishes people with imprisonment for murders they would have committed, had they not been prevented. This method has replaced the traditional system of discovering a murder and its perpetrator(s) after the crime, then issuing punishment for a completed action. As one character says in the introduction to the story, "punishment was never much of a deterrent and could scarcely have afforded comfort to a victim already dead". Unlike the film adaptation, the story version of Precrime does not deal solely with cases of murder, but all crimes. As John Anderton (the initiator of Precrime) states, "Precrime has cut down felonies by ninety-nine and decimal point eight percent."

Yeah, well, so does putting citizens in internment camps. But that's not gonna happen. Oh wait . . .

Seriously, President Obama's National Security speech the other day brings up a thorny and problematic issue: what do we do with alleged terrorist 'pre-criminals'?
Finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.

I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Yeah. McJoan at Daily Kos has some ideas:
These detainees should be reclassified as prisoners of war, bound by Geneva Conventions as the "clear, defensible and lawful standards" that we already have in place. But beyond that, there needs to be an accounting for why they "cannot be prosecuted for past crimes." That is a part of the accountability that the rule of law demands. You cannot at the same time reiterate "our values" and "our timeless ideals" and the "rule of law" and indefinitely, "preventively" detain people in prison with no charges or proof of any crime. The legal limbo that these men have existed in for the past eight years has to end.

Because sexual criminals have high recidivism rates, many people recommend pre-criminal detention for them even after they've served their convictions. Is this an easy to solve issue? Hardly. But unless we want to give in to Big Brother and live in the Dicks' future (Philip K. & Cheney), we really need to work something out.

Oh, and Dick Cheney? Verb, object.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Walk don't run

Want to know what up and coming rock guitarists were listening to in the early '60s?

Among other things, this:

I played guitar on a Ventures demo in 1980, not a terribly interesting story, but still, I got to meet a couple of the guys. Were they hip and cool? At that point, hardly. But they represented the electric guitar when it was still a fairly new and not well respected instrument in the early '60s. For that, and for some fun music, they deserve love and respect.

Well, gotta know the enemy

Dick Cheney determined to attack inside the United States:
One of the overlooked aspects of Dick Cheney’s speech today was his extensive linking of 9/11 to weapons of mass destruction (including nuclear weapons), Saddam Hussein, and Iraq.

In addition to his full-throated defense of torture, Cheney described the national security context as one in which they foremost fear was “a 9/11 with weapons of mass destruction.”

Cheney said al Qaeda was seaking nuclear weapons and that because Iraq had “known ties” to terrorists, the Bush administration focused on Iraq because it was a regime that “might transfer such weapons to terrorists.”


Seriously, what the hell is he trying to accomplish? The moderates in the Republican Party (all 4 of them) would love for him to return to his undisclosed location, while the base (23% of America) gets a big boner every time he speaks.

Hey, wait! For us on the progressive left, that seems like a win-win.

Go Dick go!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Listen my friends

Creepy fund-raising email. I haz a sad:
Three weeks ago, my friend Senator Arlen Specter added one more feat to his long and impressive career -- he became a Democrat.

Over the years, we've certainly had our disagreements. During that time, however, Arlen has been my friend, my confidant, and my partner in enacting many pieces of significant legislation.

Learn more about Senator Specter's long record of achievement.

I'm as happy as anyone about another Democrat in congress. But Specter hardly qualifies. He comes across as a real maverick in talking points, but folds like day-old Jello when he votes.

Color me cynical, but he isn't a friend of mine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I read the news today ... oh, boy

In the 'non-apology apology' department we bring you balls of Steele:
GOP chairman says era of apologizing is over

"It is done. The time for trying to fix or focus on the past has ended. The era of Republican navel-gazing is over. We have turned the corner on regret, recrimination, self-pity and self-doubt. Now is the hour to focus all of our energies on winning the future."
Wow, I must have missed the whole part about republicants' apologizing. Maybe I missed it when I LOL when he said the future was teabagging and Reagan.
In the "Look ever there, something shiny!" department. Nancy Pelosi must really be in trouble because both Democrats and republicants agree with her! The CIA lies. Gosh, who knew!?
The CIA’s Comedy of Briefing List Errors
Of course the whole ginned up Pelosi faux controversy is just a distraction from the folks who instigated, directed and performed the torture.

I'm not a fan of Pelosi's, but she's the one calling to investigate everyone involved. Seems like a good idea to me.
From the 'You're not doing it right' department comes this:
DA: Girl Whose Parents Prayed to Defeat Illness Suffered 'Needless' Death

A Weston woman, accused of praying instead of seeking medical attention for her dying daughter, suffered a medical emergency as her homicide trial got under way but appeared OK about 30 minutes later.
Moments later her attorneys expressed concern, asking for a recess so they could get her some air. She appeared visibly weak as her husband and others escorted her from the courtroom to a downstairs office.

Judge Vincent Howard ordered court security to call 911 and have Neumann medically evaluated.
Gosh, wasn't she praying hard enough!? If only her daughter had been medically evaluated.

In a related note:
After the Rapture: Orlando man will deliver messages to those left behind

There are those who believe in the Rapture prophesied in the Bible. And there is Joshua Witter, avowed atheist.
As sure as the True Believers are they will escape this earth when the Rapture arrives, Witter is just as certain he will be left behind to deliver their mail. He has committed blasphemy to make sure.
Now for some brain bleach:

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, May 18, 2009

Marching, Marching to Shibboleth

Rumsfeld's Biblical Message-Laden Intelligence Briefs

ABC News' Jennifer Parker reports: Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld prepared top-secret military intelligence briefs for former President George W. Bush with cover sheets featuring triumphant images from the Iraq war with "Crusades-like" Bible messages, according to an exclusive report in the latest June issue of GQ magazine.
Two things really bother me about the above article.

The first, of course, is that Rummy had to make biblical comic books to get Li'l Bush to read the briefings. We didn't know quite the extent of the delusional state of the WH, but we knew they thought it was a Crusade, they said so, and we knew Bush wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but jumpin' Jehoshaphat!

The second is that ABC News did nothing but comment & quote on others' reporting! I'm pretty sure that's what I do. Of course I don't have a Washington Bureau and I work a different job to make a living.

Wow, time for another blogger ethics panel!

The 'link' to GQ by ABC was in the form of a PDF of GQ's article. Maybe I'm being unfair, maybe GQ and ABC are owned by the same corp. Maybe they paid GQ a lot of money to source GQ's article. It doesn't matter, ABC has the ability and resources to have done their own work.

How odd in this time of newspaper's complaining about why they need to be more consolidated and get an anti-trust exemption that they, and TV, get scooped by a magazine.
Speaking of the unspeakable Rummy:
Rumsfeld's Renegade Unit Blamed for Afghan Deaths
Special Forces group implicated in three incidents that claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians

MarSOC was set up by former defence secretary despite opposition from within the Marine Corps

Troops from the US Marines Corps' Special Operations Command, or MarSOC, were responsible for calling in air strikes in Bala Boluk, in Farah, last week - believed to have killed more than 140 men, women and children - as well as two other incidents in 2007 and 2008. News of MarSOC's involvement in the three incidents comes just days after a Special Forces expert, Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal, was named to take over as the top commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.
Obama, you're doing it wrong! WTF is it that happens to people when they get inside the twilight zone DC Beltway? (please notice another distinction between the Dems and Repubs, even when our folks win, we still castigate them for breaking their promises. It's called not marching in lockstep and living in a reality based world.)
Wow, either Rummy's tentacles were everywhere or the Bush apologists are really polishing that turd! From the above GQ article, now quoted by the Times-Picayune we bring you Katrina and the Waves!
GQ report blames Rumsfeld for military delay after Katrina
by The Times-Picayune

A report on the GQ magazine Web site is quoting unnamed former Bush administration official as blaming former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for many failures, including a delay in military assistance in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The report says "in speaking with the former Bush officials, it becomes evident that Rumsfeld impaired administration performance on a host of matters extending well beyond Iraq to impact America's relations with other nations, the safety of our troops, and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Yeees, of course Bush had nothing to do with it! He didn't know! He even complained he didn't know. It's not like he was in charge or anything.

Once again, maybe I'm being unfair. After all, the TV News and the newspapers are just reporting what a magazine said. (Notice how all the news outlets are distancing themselves from GQ by saying "A report on the GQ magazine", like they can't, umm, you know, like call their own sources or develop sources?)

At least GQ had some facts and document photos for their article.

I guess what I'm saying, after meandering around the point, is that TV and print news have the resources to find out whether the 'anonymous officials' are telling the truth. And get those folks on record. Don't just quote another source that you haven't confirmed and that they gave anonymity to, don't do the Drudge work.

I don't usually do journalism, I just do commentary on news articles. But sheesh, even I double check the stories I comment on!

According to their standards I could say 'GoatF**ker Today just reported you swallow anything! Headlines at 11.'

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hey kids, rock'n'roll . . .

Heard anything as interesting lately? Innovation, creativity, and uniqueness used to be valued.

Maybe Justin Timberlake will cover this now, if he's done playing with Andy Samberg.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And swords and guns and uniforms, Were scattered on the ground

We watched the season closer for Grey's Anatomy last night. No apologies, it's a good show. But they screwed up, IMHO.

A significant sub-plot had one character, mild-mannered George, enlisting in the Army to become a field surgeon. Two other characters argued this issue, and one made the overused point:
They're fighting to protect our freedoms.

Thing is, they're not.

I know it's not PC to say that, but in my life, I can't remember one war, one police action, one armed incursion, one invasion, that was to protect our freedoms. Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, all wars of choice, dreamed up by ideologues and executed by the brave, the foolish, and the desperate.

For the men and women who, for whatever noble and/or tragic reason find themselves in the armed forces, I have the utmost respect. For their own reasons, they did what I chose not to (1st Viet Nam draft, my # was 13. I didn't have to go, and I don't think I would have). And our government, and our population should support them in their sacrifice.

But we don't, by and large. We don't march on Washington to protest conditions at military hospitals, from rats to meal charges. Yes, we march to protest the war, but how does that help the returning soldiers who gave up jobs, whose families had to ask for food stamps?

They aren't defending out freedoms except in their own hearts. And that we should value. My Mom, before she died, was making knitted goods for the Long Beach VA Hospital, because she grew up during WWII when the entire population sacrificed to support the war effort and the soldiers. And Pam has done the same, because her dad was changed and formed by his participation in WWII.

So those of you enamored of the war, or who fetishize the military, what have you done? Have you done one thing that would get our soldiers out of deadly combat? Have you done one thing to help their transition back to a civilian life? Because if you haven't, you're part of the problem.

Clearly we need a defense force, and may sometime need an offensive force. But Iraq, and most likely Afghanistan are not those situations. So if you truly believe we need a military to "defend our freedoms", bring them home, equip them properly, heal them appropriately, pay them fairly, so that when a real threat occurs, they can do the job they volunteered for, the job we trust them to do.

Country Joe still makes sense:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You'll Float Too, Rush

You'll Float Too, Rush

There's battle lines being drawn

Watching Wanda Sykes at the WH Correspondent's Dinner, I admit I cringed a bit when she called Rush Limbaugh "the 20th hikacker". But that's because I am aware of decency and have some morals.

But then I thought better of it, and decided she was within her rights, because Limbaugh has renounced all human decency a long time ago. Still, the right and its apologists were quick to jump on the bandwagon. From Media Matters:
At the WSJ, James Taranto is quite upset that liberals (including that "smug" Obama!) laughed at two jokes that Taranto and the rest of the GOP humor police have decided should not have been laughed at.

Taranto then unintentionally provides some comic relief himself as he patiently explains why the Limbaugh jokes were so awful:
Why do liberals find this joke funny when they should find it embarrassing? The answer, it seems clear, is that this is an example of shock humor: a genre that relies on the frisson of violating taboos. By our count, Sykes runs afoul of five taboos in her Limbaugh joke: She equates dissent with treason. She likens a domestic political opponent to a foreign enemy. She makes fun of the disabled (Limbaugh's past addiction to painkillers would entitle him to protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act). She makes light of a form of interrogation that some people consider torture. And she wishes somebody dead.

The comedy gold, of course, is that Taranto unwittingly describes, point-for-point, the Rush Limbaugh show as its been heard for nearly two decades. But over that 20 years time, how many times has Taranto taken to the Op-ed town hall to tsk-tsk Limbaugh's brand of hateful humor? This is just a guess, but I'm guessing it's a bullseye: ZERO.

When Limbaugh or the GOP Noise Machine equates dissent with treason, likens political opponents to a foreign arm, mocks the disabled (paging Michael J. Fox), makes fun of interrogation and wishes somebody dead, it's funny and insightful. But when a liberal comedian does it, guess what? It's the end of the world as we know it.

The real comedy gold is in the comments there:
She equates dissent with treason.
Limbaugh: disagreeing with Bush, "because the people that disagree with him want to lose." AND "It's about time we do challenge their patriotism. The far-left fringe in this country is actively seeking our defeat."

She likens a domestic political opponent to a foreign enemy.
Limbaugh: "every time I hear a tape from [Al Qaeda leader] Ayman al-Zawahiri or a so-called dispatch from bin Laden, whenever I hear from any of these Middle East Al Qaeda terrorists, I think I'm hearing Democrat [sic] Party talking points."

She makes fun of the disabled (Limbaugh's past addiction to painkillers would entitle him to protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act).
Limbaugh on Michael J Fox: "And it's purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has." Limbaugh later added that "this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two."

She makes light of a form of interrogation that some people consider torture.
Limbaugh: "I just slapped myself. I'm torturing myself right now. That's torture according to these people." AND "if somebody can be water-tortured six times a day, then it isn't torture."

And she wishes somebody dead.
Limbaugh fill in Mark Davis: On Feherety joke about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid being killed by US troops, "his words speak enormous volumes" AND "He has nothing to apologize for." Limbaugh wishes a murder occurred at Fort Macy Park, and probably still believes one occurred.

The real sin Wanda Sykes committed was treating Rush Limbaugh, for 5 minutes, how he treats Democrats and Liberals daily for three hours.

So stop whining, right-wingers. Clean up your own house before you start complaining about ours.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mama tried to raise me better

My relationship with my Mom was complicated, and had a definite arc. As a young boy, with a single parent, it was all about Mom, and her parents with whom we lived. I adored her.

As an adolescent and young adult, we had problems. Some were mine, trying to grow up and find my boundaries, some were, well, it was complex.

But as life went on, we developed respect, and a closeness and tolerance we had never know before. Her ascent from apathy to liberalism, combined with my awareness that she had done the best she could, and understanding my own flaws, brought us closer together. We connected in a way I found precious, and she became one of my best friends.

Today is my first Mothers' Day without her. I miss her. I miss calling and saying "So, what are you doing?". I miss the goofy emails (I saved them all). But I also treasure the times we had and the closeness and honesty we knew.

She was a quiet yet passionate crusader for LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and equality. She proudly signed her No on 8 absentee ballot the day before she died. I have no idea what went through her mind that last day, as she slipped away, from sleep into something deeper and more eventual. But I hope it was confidence that she had done the best she could, and that she knew how much we all loved her.

Happy Mothers' Day, Mom. Thank you for everything.

UPDATE BY The Sailor: Steve, thank you for your omage to your Mom. I miss her too. She and I had several exchanges in comments on your blog. I think your Mom and my Mom might have appreciated this:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Juxtaposition: Episode II

Cheney: Interrogations Torture [ed: there, fixed it] saved lives

Former vice president Dick Cheney insisted that intelligence extracted from tough interrogations of suspected Al-Qaeda militants had saved "perhaps hundreds of thousands" of US lives.

"No regrets. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do," he said on CBS television, arguing that techniques decried by critics as torture were essential to break the resistance of captured extremists.
In reality:
Why Bush’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Program Failed
US report blames Taliban for civilian deaths

The U.S. said the findings came from a joint U.S.-Afghan investigation. But the country's Interior Ministry and Farah's police chief both said that their delegations were continuing to investigate and that they did not endorse the U.S. report.
American officials have indicated they may never put out a number because those killed in the battle had been buried by the time investigators arrived.
By 'buried' I guess they mean
Truckloads of dead civilians after Afghan battle

Villagers brought truckloads of bodies to the capital of a province in Western Afghanistan on Tuesday to prove that scores of civilians had been killed by U.S. air strikes in a battle with the Taliban.
Yeees, it's all the Taliban's fault that the US invaders used air strikes on an Afghan village.

Don't misunderstand me, the Taliban are religious extremists who have regained control of most of Afghanistan, not thru their military prowess, (after all, it's not like they have planes or SAMs), but by the fact that the US kills more civilians than they do. Indiscriminate bombing will have that affect.

Even the elected President of Afghanistan agrees with me:
In response to recent suggestions by U.S. military officials that the civilian deaths in Farah province might have been staged by the Taliban, Karzai said that an Afghan government team was investigating the incident and that "there was no doubt that the casualties were caused by bombings... and the use of air power."
"We demand an end to these operations... an end to air strikes," Mr Karzai told CNN.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Friday, May 08, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Alicublog has a Black Comedy post about RedState's outreach to American Blacks. I would have linked directly to RedState but I ran out of eye bleach after seeing DarkBlack's [way too] graphic.
Why newspapers suck, by Walter Pincus.
Glenn Greenwald runs down a conflict of interest regarding an anonymous sourced article smearing a potential Supreme Court nominee.
AMERICAblog has an example of the leader of the Grand Obstructionist Party calling for a smaller tent.
Also via AMERICAblog we bring you a chance to sound off about Tales of bad bosses (p.s. Sound off to us, not AMERICAblog, even I couldn't make it thru their registration process. Hint to John: You're getting 2 to 48 comments per post. It shouldn't be that onerous to chime in.)
skippy is looking forward to the new Star Trek movie almost as much as we are. But skippy gets to see it in IMAX!

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Aren't They A Pair

Aren't They A Pair

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Never mind the bollocks bollards

Downtown bollards mysteriously painted blue

It isn’t yet clear how the two bollards on two corners of Kirkwood Avenue and Walnut Street became blue.

The two 1,400-pound concrete balls were installed in May 2008. One was painted green and the other was purple.

The bollards were due to be repainted, said city public Works director Susie Johnson. She said city staff had been asked to order new green and purple paint for a pre-graduation weekend touch up.
So let me get this straight, (not to be hard on the scum that coated these balls blue, they did show some spunk), but why didn't the staff of the city realize their balls were flaking until the parents came?

This has been a pubic service announcement.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Kill them all and let god sort them out ...

... appears to be the American and Israeli military strategy:
Truckloads of Dead Civilians After Afghan Battle

Civilian deaths have become a bitter source of friction between Afghan authorities and U.S. forces. Washington says it is working harder this year to limit civilian deaths and investigate reports of such incidents more rapidly after the number of civilians killed by U.S. forces soared last year.

In the worst incident last year, the Afghan government and the United Nations said a U.S. strike killed 90 civilians. Washington initially denied it, but after three months said it had killed 33 civilians as well as 22 people it called militants.
Even if the US assessment is correct, killing 3 civilians for every 2 militants doesn't seem conducive to anything but creating more militants.
UN Blames Israeli Army for Gaza War Attacks

UNITED NATIONS - A United Nations inquiry Tuesday blamed Israel for six serious attacks on UN buildings during its Gaza offensive, drawing fury from Israeli officials who accused the UN body of bias.

The report was drawn up by an independent commission of inquiry set up to investigate nine cases in which UN buildings in the impoverished Gaza Strip were damaged by bombardments or arms fire during the three-week war.

The findings present the latest criticism of Israel over the war it launched against the Hamas-run territory on December 27 in response to ongoing rocket fire from Gaza militants. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis [soldiers] died.
And that's just the UN buildings attacked in the report. Not to mention the illegal arms Israel used on Palestinian civilians:
Israel backs down over white phosphorus

Israeli troops stopped using white phosphorus shells in Gaza this year after The Times published evidence that they were injuring civilians.
On January 7 a military spokeman said that the shells in question had “no explosives and no white phosphorus”.
Wow, a government investigates itself, finds itself innocent and then proof is shown that they lied and then they backtrack to another excuse.

I think I've seen that movie before.

But I digress, my main point is that you cannot use bombs or missiles or 'air strikes' within a area known to contain civilians in order to kill combatants. Even if the bombs are 'smart.' Even if the combatants are hiding behind civilians.

This is not a reason to call in air, this is a hostage situation. Generally it's handled by negotiators and an overwhelming, but individually targeted, threat of force. Both of which the armies involved have.

Having to indiscriminately kill civilians to obtain an objective shows weakness, not strength. Lying about it proves the weakness.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, May 04, 2009

Nobody wants a Spanish Inquisition ... except Christains

The Religious Dimensions of the Torture Debate

Amid intense public debate over the use of torture against suspected terrorists, an analysis by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life of a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press illustrates differences in the views of four major religious traditions in the U.S. about whether torture of suspected terrorists can be justified. Differences in opinion on this issue also are apparent based on frequency of attendance at religious services.
Please note that the question posed was about torture of suspected terrorists, not 'harsh interrogation tactics' of 'known terrorists.'

The 'Christians' supported torture. Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, all think some torture is OK even if the subject of that torture is just suspected of being a 'terrorist.'

I'm not an atheist, I believe in god, but this is yet another reason I'll never believe in religions. The more you go to church the more you believe that torture is justified!

WTF is wrong with this picture!? Religionists are always saying how their belief keeps them on a moral path. I've always thought that knowing right from wrong had nothing to do with religion, but I never would have suspected it would be so flipped from right to wrong in the faiths I grew up in.

It seems to me that the way you treat others will be how you will be treated.

It's not exactly original, since it's been phrased in all the major faiths in the world.

Maybe my conclusions are wrong, I'm just going by the stats ... and my beliefs.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp, the star football player who later became a stalwart Republican congressman and Presidential candidate, passed away Saturday at age 73. Kemp Partners, his lobbying and consulting firm, disclosed in January that he had cancer.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kemp was a star athlete at Fairfax High School. He also excelled at studies, enjoying reading history and philosophy. Considered too small for a major-college program, Kemp enrolled at Occidental College, where he became the starting quarterback. He led all small-college quarterbacks in passing his senior year. Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1957, he spent three seasons bouncing around the NFL, earning little playing time. A brief stint in the Canadian Football League was also unsuccessful. Kemp's break came with the formation of the American Football League in 1960. He won the starting quarterback's job with the Los Angeles Chargers and led them to the AFL championship game, repeating the feat the next season as the franchise moved to San Diego. Moving on to Buffalo, he led the Bills to three consecutive AFL championship games in 1964-66, winning the title in '64 and '65, and missing out on playing in the first Super Bowl as the Bills lost to Kansas City in '66. Kemp retired after the 1969 season, the last before the AFL-NFL merger. Of the AFL's ten seasons, Kemp was named to seven league all-star teams, and started at quarterback in five of its championship games. He is the AFL's all-time leader in career pass attempts, completions, and passing yards.

Kemp's interest in politics was sparked by working in Barry Goldwater's 1964 Presidential campaign and Ronald Reagan's 1966 campaign for governor of California. He became an avid reader of free-market apologists Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand. Yet he also showed a genuine concern for racial equality and economic fairness, and his political career was marked by his attempts to balance his concern for working-class Americans with his laissez-faire approach to economics. He was elected to Congress from a Democratic-leaning suburban Buffalo district in 1971, and would hold the seat for nine terms. In Congress, Kemp became a leading proponent of the theory that tax cuts would spur economic growth. He supported flat-tax proposals, lowering taxes on business, and promoted the creation of "enterprise zones" that gave tax breaks to businesses as an incentive to locate within them. Kemp was also one of the first Republicans to assert that balanced budgets were not important. His greatest legislative accomplishment was the Kemp-Roth tax cut, a 23 percent reduction over three years enacted by President Reagan in 1981. At the same time, Kemp became one of the rare Republicans who supported civil rights legislation, affirmative action, and immigrant rights. Kemp, though, also took more traditional GOP positions such as opposition to abortion and support for the Nicaraguan contras.

Kemp made a bid for the White House in 1988. The Republicans' long march to the right was in full swing by that point, though, and by then he was considered a moderate, even to some a liberal, by GOP standards. Kemp pulled out of the Presidential race following a disastrous Super Tuesday showing in which he received fewer delegates than George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and Pat Robertson. Eventual winner Bush named Kemp his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Kemp would spend most of his HUD tenure cleaning the department up from the scandal-ridden Reagan years, leaving little time to pursue his policies of developing enterprise zones and tenant ownership of public housing. Kemp's last role in the spotlight was as Vice-President on the 1996 Republican ticket running alongside Presidential candidate Bob Dole. The choice of Kemp as VP candidate was a surprise, as Dole vehemently disagreed with Kemp on economic issues, and the two constantly antagonized each other during their years as GOP leaders in Congress. Following the Dole-Kemp loss in 1996, Kemp never again sought elective office, and spent the rest of his life lobbying for free-market legislation and with charity work. He was an early supporter of John McCain's unsuccessful 2008 Presidential bid.

Jack Kemp's voice in the political conversation will be missed, not least because he represented a fast-vanishing breed, the reasonable conservative.

(Crossposted at Pole Hill Sanitarium and They Gave Us A Republic.)

Somebody get me a doctor!

Just a quick post to announce a new team member: Dr. Sardonicus, the proprietor of Pole Hill Sanitarium, will be adding his voice here.

We're all very happy. Up 'til now, the inmates have been running the place. Now we have an actual doctor to watch over us.

Or something.

Welcome aboard, Doc!

Come along if you care

Interesting slice of time: Pyschedelic music from a one-hit wonder group.

Sadly, the lead guitarist (viewer's right) is still performing today, and is a certifiable angry, paranoid loon:

It's crazy but it's true, I only want to be with you

(Damn, she could sing. Girl singers today: Study.)

Alberto Gonzales famously said the war on terrorism:
"renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

I think the modern world renders quaint some of the grandiose ideas of States' Rights:
The principle of the supremacy of federal powers over those powers held by the states is based on the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In McCulloch v. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall asserted that the laws adopted by the federal government, when exercising its constitutional powers, are generally paramount over any conflicting laws adopted by state governments. After McCulloch, the primary legal issues in this area concerned the scope of the Congress' constitutional powers, and whether the states possess certain powers to the exclusion of the federal government, even if the Constitution does not explicitly limit them to the States.

. . . In 1964, the issue of fair housing in California involved the boundary between state laws and federalism. California Proposition 14 overturned the Rumsford Fair Housing Act and allowed discrimination in any type of home sale. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others saw this as a backlash against civil rights. Actor Ronald Reagan gained popularity by supporting Proposition 14, and was later elected governor of California. The U.S. Supreme Court's Reitman v. Mulkey decision overturned Proposition 14 in 1967 in favor of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Another concern is the fact that on more than one occasion, the federal government has threatened to withhold highway funds from states which did not pass certain articles of legislation. Any state which lost highway funding for any extended period would face financial impoverishment, infrastructure collapse or both. Although the first such action (the enactment of a national speed limit) was directly related to highways and done in the face of a fuel shortage, most subsequent actions have had little or nothing to do with highways and have not been done in the face of any compelling national crisis. An example of this would be the federally mandated drinking age of 21. Critics of such actions feel that when the federal government does this they upset the traditional balance between the states and the federal government.

In today's OCRegister, Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman fantasizes about States' Rights and same-sex marriage:
Why not? Because of a huge imbalance created by that longtime nemesis of state sovereignty – the federal government. Under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Virginia has complete authority to deny the privileges and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex partners. But Iowa doesn't have the complete authority to grant them.

Oh, Iowa can provide recognition to gay marriages under all its laws and policies. But that's a surprisingly small part of what marriage encompasses. Under federal law, there are more than 1,100 rights and privileges that go with being a husband or wife. And none of them is available to married same-sex couples.

And then, schizophrenically, he lays blame for this state-variable situation, which he loves, on the awful DOMA:
"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States," says DOMA, "the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

While I agree that DOMA sucks hard, Chapman's blaming it for lousy state decisions is dishonest. He is a full-throated supporter of States' Rights. In his perfect world, CA could vote for same-sex marriage, while TX could legalize marriage between adult men and lizards. It's all OK if the state says so.

I really think the concept is outmoded. Much has been said about TX Gov. Rick Perry's call to secession, which is the ultimate expression of States' Rights. I think that's a fine idea, as long as TX is willing to never take another $$ from the American taxpayers. And since, like most of the red states, they take more in federal funds than they pay in taxes, that's going to stop too.

You fix your own highways, support your own schools, and protect your own border.

You coin your own money, print your own stamps, and clean up your own toxic waste sites.

You fund your own military, all your national park land, and take care of your own disasters.

Certain laws, like civil rights, had to be enacted at the federal level. Why? Because the states didn't. Too many reactionary politicians, along with ignorant populations, felt that equal rights were ok for them, but not for anyone else. So the feds took command.

Same-sex marriage is a similar situation. If states' want to discriminate against their citizens, then fine. Except they won't be states anymore. Like TX seems to want. Thing is, when federal dollars help me, it's my right. When they help someone else, it's socialism or tyranny.

Suck on it, states.