Saturday, June 30, 2007

What did you do there? I got high

Who are these guys? Shaggy hair, retro-mod clothes, guitars slung low like a pop-punkster should . . . could be any of several new bands like Jet, The Libertines, The Click Five, and many others.

Only it's not. It's The Small Faces, in 1967:
The Small Faces were a British mod band formed in 1965 by Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Jimmy Winston (who was soon replaced by Ian McLagan). Heavily influenced by American R&B, they later evolved into one of the UK's most successful psychedelic acts before disbanding in 1969.

. . . Their mid-1967 single "Itchycoo Park" is one of Small Faces' best-remembered songs and was also the first of the band's only two charting singles in the United States, reaching No. 16. "Itchycoo Park" was also the first British record to use phasing, a form of "flanging", an effect developed by Olympic Studios engineer George Chkiantz in 1966. Itchycoo Park was followed by the powerful and stylish soul-rock epic "Tin Soldier", (originally written by Marriott for singer P.P. Arnold), who can be heard clearly on backing vocals; it remains one of their best-known singles. However, when the song only reached No. 73 on the US Hot 100 chart, Immediate Records was said to have abandoned its shortlived effort to establish the act in America.

The band was the brain-child of former child actor Steve Marriot. After he left the Faces , he started Humble Pie:
British hard-rock outfit Humble Pie was one of the first rock & roll supergroups, featuring Steve Marriott of the The Small Faces. Peter Frampton of The Herd, and Spooky Tooth's Greg Ridley. Influenced by American blues and soul, they developed a blues-rock sound that proved influential to legions of subsequent hard rock and heavy metal bands. They were best known for their hard-rocking, recordings and concert performances between 1969 and 1975.

Here's a truly fascinating video of the Pie, not rocking loudly as the often did, but doing an acoustic cover of The Yardbirds' "For Your Love." Note the kid with the stars on his shirt playing the sunburst epiphone: he went on to some modest success later in the '70s:

Friday, June 29, 2007

So let's dance, take a chance, understand me

In honor of Juneteenth, and vamping on Steve's running series of unsung heroes, let's see a show of hands of how many folks remember The Gong Show?

Excellent! Then you must remember Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine from that show.

What you probably didn't know is that Eugene Patton was in real life a stage hand. And not just any stage hand, Gene was the very first African-American member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 33, (International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Hollywood!)

Performers are known for the trite but true saying 'the show must go on.' But what is rarely acknowledged is that no show goes on if the crew doesn't go on ... on time, on stage, in the studio and on the road, it's the crew that makes it happen.

So let's hear a big round of applause for Gene and all the other unsung heroes behind the scenes. (But especially for Gene!)

They don't make the magic, they make the magic happen.

Thank you, goodnight!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

That kind of music just soothes the soul

Working in and around recording studios has some advantages. I often get to hear exciting new music long before it hits the streets. Such was the case when the last studio at which I was on staff was finishing the cd that became "The Love Below".

But my latest new discovery happened the old fashioned way: I heard what sounded like some fine old-school soul music on the radio, reminiscent of Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and even Marvin Gaye. And then I found out it was this young man, Ryan Shaw:
This 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Decatur, Georgia is out to revive the passion and soul of the Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues (1960-1972) for a new generation. His One Haven/Columbia debut album, This Is Ryan Shaw, combines a powerfully expressive voice with a clutch of great songs both classic and new—and a state-of-the-art, in-your-face sound that makes it impossible to sit still.

Lots to see and hear at his website, go check him out. Here's his Electronic Press Kit:

And here's a live video of "Over and Done":

Cross-posted at Crooks & Liars as C&L LNMC, Sat. 6/23.

You know my name and the number you know you know my name

And the loser number is ... 28301-016!

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Liar time after time, Liar you're lying to me

A White House lawyer turned U.S. judge was asked on Tuesday to explain apparent discrepancies between reports he played a role in talks about setting rules for the treatment of enemy combatants and his congressional testimony he was not involved.
"By testifying under oath that you were not involved in this issue, it appears that you misled me, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the nation," Durbin wrote Kavanaugh, who was confirmed by the Senate last year on a vote of 57-36 for a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Kavanaugh was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush after serving as a White House lawyer.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Kavanaugh was involved in a heated 2002 White House meeting about whether U.S. citizens declared enemy combatants should be given access to lawyers. Durbin said National Public Radio confirmed the information on Tuesday.
"I asked: 'What did you know about Mr. Haynes's role in crafting the administration's detention and interrogation policies?"' Durbin wrote.

"You testified: 'Senator, I did not - I was not involved and am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants - and so I do not have the involvement with that,"' Durbin quoted him as testifying.

Durbin said in his letter to Kavanaugh that in light of the media reports, "your sworn testimony appears inaccurate and misleading."
Translation: You're a f**king liar!

And the standard Bushco response? Yep, you guessed it:
A court spokesman for Kavanaugh said in a statement, "Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation testimony was accurate
Translation: I'm a f**king liar.

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

now, you give to me, I'd like to know what you learned

We got an award! How cool is that! Kid Sally, one of the fine group of bloggers over at Lizzy's Night Bird's Fountain has sent us this:

It is now my turn to nominate 5 others for the Thinking Blogger Award (see the rules here.) There are so many great blogs out there it's hard to pick just five but here are the blogs to which I pass the "Thinking Blogger Award" on to:

  1. Tom Watson
  2. A Poetic Justice
  3. Steve Audio
  4. This Blog will self destruct in 5 minutes
  5. Seeing the Forest
I don't know what to say except thanks for reading what I, and now we, write here, and for caring enough to send this.

Here are the rules, from The Thinking Blog:

Congratulations, you won a !

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. I thought it would be appropriate to include them with the meme.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

That was that! Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all - blogs that really get you thinking! It is the first time I am starting something with my blog so I hope it doesn't come back to haunt me.

Happy link-love-sharing, whatever it is!

Well, now I have to tag 5 blogs that make me think, shouldn't be hard. Let's see:

1. The Heretik
2. Corrente Wire
3. Dover Bitch
4. RJ Eskow's NightLight
5. Shoephone's Evergreen Politics

So there you go. I want to thank my agent, my publicist, my personal assistant, my trainer, my...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

oh where oh where can my baby be?

The OCRegister, in what I'm sure is a Libertarian rant with no intention of irony, says:
And Paris Hilton is in jail only because of this entirely arbitrary government fiat.

Whether the level is 0.08 percent or 0.10 percent, why should someone's blood alcohol level in itself be a crime?

Maybe having that much alcohol in their blood makes some people less likely to drive safely. But there are lots of perfectly legal things that can make you a less-safe driver. Cell phones and iPods are common distractions. A law school professor of mine was known to read books while driving. Then there's one of the biggest, most dangerous distractions: the person sitting next to you. And don't forget noisy kids in the back seat.

OK. In the hands of Richard Pryor, this might be funny. But here's more:
Why should alcohol consumers be singled out for punishment – as demanded by the 19th century Woman's Christian Temperance Union – except that the prohibitionists' modern-day counterparts, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are organized against them?

. . . In general, we don't punish people because of some factor that may simply make them statistically more likely to harm others.

Really. Interesting. How about those on the Do Not Fly lists? How about those held in Guantanamo because someone turned them in for a US Army Reward? How about those sex offenders on Megan's List?

This has to be intended as irony, humor. How else do we explain this:
Miss Hilton went to jail not for the drunken driving itself, but for driving again after her license was suspended. This, too, is an injustice.

After all, driver's licenses have nothing to do with safe driving. As anyone who's traveled Southern California freeways knows, having a license does not make one a competent driver. And there are plenty of people without a license who undoubtedly would be fine drivers. Even without licensing, you already have a much stronger incentive to drive safely than the government could ever provide: Your own life is at stake each time you get behind the wheel.

Ah, the credo of the righteous Libertarian. Responsibility rests with the person, to know what is right, and to know what is best for one's self. And the corollary to the driver's license analogy is, as expected, is gun registration. Not mentioned, indeed, but never far from the hearts of Libertarians.

This is just simple-minded foolishness. Following this logic, there is no need to ticket speeders, until they kill someone. There is no need to arrest someone waving a gun in public, until they shoot someone.

This is childish thinking, juvenile logic. But it's the OC Register, Libertarian beacon to the world. Or something.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm #18, and I Don't Know What I Want

Every now and then I wonder, did SteveAudio know what he was doing asking me to post on his blog? And then I consider, well, he had quite some time to grok what a mess I am. So here goes another piece of shameless self, city, and state promotion. has rolled out a new feature for Tennessee:
BNN's Tennessee Blogosphere Influence Rating combines a variety of data sets to determine which blogs are most powerfully influencing the direction of the Tennessee political blogosphere. The exact method BNN uses to calculate influence scores must remain proprietary in order to prevent attempts to game the system. BNN's methodology takes into account the fact that all Internet data is profoundly limited in its reliability by using multiple data sets that, when combined, reveal a fair picture of activity in the blogosphere.
I started out at #18 out of 49:

Thank you readers! I hope to be posting more often just real soon now....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I will say the only words I know that you'll understand

Funniest thing I've read all day. From RightWingNuthouse:
If you haven’t already, stop by Michelle Malkin’s new look blog. And while you’re there, register to comment.

Yours truly will be handling comment moderating duties. I would also encourage some of the saner lefties who comment here (and you know who you are) to register at Michelle’s. She would especially welcome thoughtful liberals in her comments section.

Um, no, not really. That's this Michelle Malkin:

Supporting racial profiling

"And, um, all I will say is that I think that -- that, uh, these -- these, uh, uh, categorizations: Race, ethnicity, religion, etc., shouldn't be taken off the table. And I'll tell you -- you've got these civil liberties hypocrites -- these liberal hypocrites ... who have no problem using these classifications if it means that, uh, they can have diversity in police departments or fire departments or to, uh, affect and socially engineer, uh, a campus." [8/11/04]

Defending WWII internment camps

"I think that, based on the military intelligence and legal assessments at the time, the Roosevelt administration did the best that it could do [interning Japanese-Americans]. [8/9/04]

Attacked Transportation Secretary Mineta: WWII internment "clouded" his views

"[If] the Bush administration wants to do one single concrete thing, it could get rid of [Transportation Secretary] Norm[an Y.] Mineta, who embodies this problem. He is somebody who experienced the evacuation during World War II. He was evacuated to a camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. And it has clouded, it has absolutely clouded his view of what needs to be done now." [8/11/04]

Try to love one another right now

Just a few days ago I mentioned the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling here. And now it's suddenly back in the news in a frightening way. From Sunday's LATimes:
BROWN vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's landmark declaration that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional, may be the court's only ruling in the last 200 years that virtually everyone today agrees was "rightly decided." It is simply unimaginable that a president would appoint, or that the Senate would confirm, a court nominee who failed to pay homage to the 1954 decision.

. . . Under Roberts' reinterpretation of Brown, the decision's central message is that government must be strictly "colorblind" because all racial classification is inherently pernicious. In this view, there is no legal or moral difference between a school assignment program (like those at issue in Brown) that enforces racial segregation and others (like Seattle's and Louisville's) that are designed to ensure some measure of integration.

WTF? First, read the whole article. Then worry, and weep. What is the real issue with Brown that would cause the hyper-reactionary Supreme Court to revisit it?

First, take a look at this map:

Yep. Segregation of races was required by law in 17 Red states. While it may have been unintentional for Wikipedia to use red for the rascist states, I really don't think so. Many of those states are still considered red today.

Sometimes the Supreme Court gets it wrong: Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Bush v. Gore. Breathtakingly, disastrously wrong. In re: Plessy, the SCOTUS reversed it's infamous decision with Brown. Separate But Equal was banished forever. Or not. Wikipedia goes on:
Brown is often referred to as Brown I, because the following year, 1955, the Court completed its ruling. In this second Brown decision, Brown II, the Warren Court ordered the states' compliance with Brown I "with all deliberate speed." Brown II was argued by Robert L. Carter, who had earlier initiated some of the cases consolidated at the Supreme Court into Brown I. Even so, formal compliance with the provisions of these two cases was not expedited, and in the South most public schools would not be desegregated until about 1970 under the Nixon administration. Nearly twenty years after Brown, school desegregation would come to the court's attention again in two cases involving the use of busing to integrate students across school districts: Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971) and Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974).

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and drop all the niceties and legal issues. Frame it all you want, Judge Roberts, the reason you want to re-visit Brown has nothing to do with how to implement programs that try to counter segregation and racism. The "colorblind" status you wish to confer to the law will ignore insults and inequities based on color.

Welcome to the world of Judge Roberts, where the law is a process, and people don't matter.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Are you still being followed by the teenage FBI?

Howie Klein of Blue America sent me this book:
So Angie’s back on the Blue America list and I hope you’ll join me in donating some money to her campaign. We’re not going to find a better candidate, not anywhere, to help us reclaim our country. Avalon Books sent us a box of the just-released YOUNG J. EDGAR: HOOVER, THE RED SCARE, AND THE ASSAULT ON CIVIL LIBERTIES. Each book has been autographed by author Ken Ackerman and it sells in stores for $28.95. Every Angie donation for $30 or more gets a Blue America thank you with a book (until the box is empty.) Add a cent to your donation if you don’t want the book. One more thing, Jacquie is already planning out an aggressive paid-media strategy for CO-04 in ‘08, so if you want to stick some dough in the Blue America PAC, please don’t be shy.

I've read the first chapter, and it's already got me hooked. Why a book about J. Edgar would be fascinating all these years later? Here's a quote from the book:
But back in 1919, just four years earlier, it had all made perfect sense-the Red Scare, the Raids, the fear. Most thinking, informed Americans agreedL World War I had ended, but the country was still fighting, against anarchists and communists at home just as surely as it had fought the Kaiser's Germany in Europe the year before. American soldiers still faced bullets on Russian soil in 1919, and Bolshevism was sweeping the world. Anarchists had exploded bombs in American streets, and people had been killed. Radicals had infiltrated labor unions and threatened to topple major industries. The country demanded safety and someone had to act.

A. Mitchell Palmer and his team had taken responsibility. Had there been excesses? Certainly. But that didn't change the fact. The principal fact was the bombs, and the danger of more bombs, and the duty to protect Americans. Everything else took a back seat.

The parallels to today's Global War on Whatever We Define As Terror are pretty obvious. Americans, in an understandable yet selfishly shallow way, excuse many sorts of bad behavior when they feel threatened, and the Right today does all it can to give a megaphone to threats real and imagined.

The book's author, Kenneth Ackerman, said this in an editorial in my hometown LATimes:
Yet when Hoover showed up for his first day of work at the Department of Justice in June 1917, he was a bright 22-year-old, just out of law school. He still had boyish good looks and was cocky and driven. The country had just entered World War I, and Hoover had avoided the wartime draft. Instead, he was ready to help win the war at home, to save the country from spies and subversives.

What changed this young eager beaver into the crass, cynical tyrant of later years?

The fact is, Hoover learned his attitudes and worldview from teachers at the Justice Department during his early years there, when the country was going through a period much like today's war on terror.

Indeed. Here's Kenneth Ackerman's website:

Are You a Slut? Or Just Highly Sexed?

MSNBC has an AP report on a new federal survey by the National Center for Health Statistics about how many lovers men and women have had sex with.
The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four.

I know you'll want to read the rest here.

You can also take MSNBC's online poll here.

The federal survey itself is here in .pdf.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yeah, yeah, yeah I go a swingin' school

How far from institutionalized racism have we come in America? Well, you'd think a 4th of July parade in Huntington Beach would be miles away from any controversy:
Organizers of Surf City's Fourth of July parade said Wednesday they would let the producer of the documentary chronicling the 1947 Mendez v. Westminster school-desegregation case take part this year.

Parade officials reversed a decision to deny Sandra Robbie's application for her Magical History Tour bus on grounds that it lacked entertainment value.
I suppose the American Revolution, which is what the holiday is about, was chocked full of entertainment value, too. What with people dying for . . . you know, freedom.

Who is Sandra Robbie?
This site is dedicated to helping those preparing research projects on the landmark Mendez et al. v. Westminster et al, Mexican American Desegregation Case from Orange County California in 1946. The case was decided 7 years before Brown v. The Board of Education, and argued on Appeal by Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP, among many others. The Mendez case is a civil rights study about how one family stood up to a segregated society and with the support of their friends, relatives, community and hosts of lawyers and civil rights groups, convinced the Courts that segregation had no place in our schools or in our society.

What is Mendez v. Westminster? A pretty special time in Orange County's past:

On March 2, 1945, five Mexican-American fathers (Gonzalo Mendez, Thomas Estrada, William Guzman, Frank Palomino, and Lorenzo Ramirez) challenged the practice of school segregation in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. They claimed that their children, along with 5,000 other children of "Mexican and Latin descent", were victims of unconstitutional discrimination by being forced to attend separate "Mexican" schools in the Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and El Modena school districts of Orange County.

Commemortaive postage stamp issues by the United States Postal Service in 2007
Commemorative postage stamp issues by the United States Postal Service in 2007

Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of Mendez and his co-plaintiffs on February 18, 1946. However, the district appealed. Several organizations joined the appellate case as amicus curiae, including the NAACP, represented by Thurgood Marshall. More than a year later, on April 14, 1947, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the district court's ruling.

7 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, put a stop to "separate but equal" forever:
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954),[1] is a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court overturning its earlier ruling, declaring the establishment of separate public schools for black and white students inherently unequal. This victory paved the way for integration and the Civil Rights Movement.

Or did it? Here's what Clarence Thomas, the "best" candidate, said:
Notably, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, himself an African-American, wrote in Missouri v. Jenkins (1995) that at the very least, Brown I has been misunderstood by the courts.
Brown I did not say that "racially isolated" schools were inherently inferior; the harm that it identified was tied purely to de jure segregation, not de facto segregation. Indeed, Brown I itself did not need to rely upon any psychological or social-science research in order to announce the simple, yet fundamental truth that the Government cannot discriminate among its citizens on the basis of race....

Yeah. Until the same amount of money is spent on a kid in Westminster, CA, or Watts, as is spent on kids in Beverly Hills 90210, then not only is institutionalized racism alive and well, but Affirmative Action still mandatory.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Via super cool dude Jake Sullum at Reason Magazine:
The Drug Policy Alliance has put together a cute pharmaceutical ad satire that mocks politicians who believe locking up drug offenders is the key to electoral success.

I truly wish all the self-styled libertarians at Reason would concentrate more on Jake's issues instead of the aberrant position in favor of open borders stuck in the Libertarian Party's early platform thrown together by its handful of founders back in 1971.

My Baby Sent Me A Letter

Vice President Exempts His Office from the Requirements for Protecting Classified Information

June 21, 2007

The Vice President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Vice President:

The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, you exempted the Office of the Vice President from the presidential executive order that establishes a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified national security information.
Executive Order 12958, which President Bush has amended and endorsed, directs the National Archives to oversee a uniform system for protecting classified information. A key component of the executive order directs the Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives to inspect federal agencies and White House offices to ensure compliance with the security procedures required by the President.
According to a letter that the National Archives sent to your staff in June 2006, you asserted that the Office of the Vice President is not an "entity within the executive branch" and hence is not subject to presidential executive orders.
Umm, if the VP isn't an "entity within the executive branch" doesn't that mean he can't claim executive privilege!?

Like he did here, here, here and here?

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Read it and weep

This incredible article appeared last Sunday and dropped off the news pages so fast I thought I should highlight a few passages. The complete article is very thorough and very disturbing. Due to the length of the article I will attempt to condense and rearrange small parts of it into a timeline better suited for this forum. You might think the Abu Ghraib scandal is old news, but it's an ongoing syndrome:
The General's Report
How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties. - by Seymour M. Hersch

- January 13, 2004 a military policeman named Joseph Darby gave the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) a CD full of images of abuse. Two days later, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of the abuses depicted on the CD.
* Having male detainees pose nude while female guards pointed at their genitals;
* having female detainees exposing themselves to the guards;
* having detainees perform indecent acts with each other;
* guards physically assaulting detainees by beating and dragging them with choker chains.
* sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees.
* a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.

- January 20th 2004 the chief of staff at Central Command sent another e-mail to Admiral Keating, copied to General Craddock and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq. The chief of staff wrote, "Sir: update on alleged detainee abuse per our discussion. DID IT REALLY HAPPEN? Yes, currently have 4 confessions implicating perhaps 10 soldiers. DO PHOTOS EXIST? Yes. A CD with approx 100 photos and a video-CID has these in their possession."

- Late January 2004 Taguba was given the job of investigating Abu Ghraib because of circumstance: the senior officer of the 800th Military Police Brigade, to which the soldiers in the photographs belonged, was a one-star general; Army regulations required that the head of the inquiry be senior to the commander of the unit being investigated, and Taguba, a two-star general, was available.

[Taguba's] orders were clear, however: he was to investigate only the military police at Abu Ghraib, and not those above them in the chain of command. "These M.P. troops were not that creative," he said. "Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box."
senior officials in Rumsfeld's office and elsewhere in the Pentagon had been given a graphic account of the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and told of their potential strategic significance, within days of the first complaint.

- March 2004 Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:
Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.

- Late April 2004 revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners.

- May 6, 2004 Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq.

"Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba-of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials.
In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, "Is it abuse or torture?" At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet."

- May 7th 2004 [Rumsfeld] claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. "It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn't say, 'Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,' " Rumsfeld told the congressmen. "I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn't."

Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, "it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge." As for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, "I say no one in the Pentagon had seen them"; at the House hearing, he said, "I didn't see them until last night at 7:30."[...] What wasn't proceeding along fine is the fact that the President didn't know, and you didn't know, and I didn't know.
Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld's testimony was simply not true. "The photographs were available to him-if he wanted to see them," Taguba said. Rumsfeld's lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, "Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There's no way he's suffering from C.R.S.-Can't Remember Shit. He's trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves."
In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January information about the photographs had been given "to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described."

- November, 2004 an Army investigation, by Brigadier General Richard Formica, into the treatment of detainees at Camp Nama, a Special Forces detention center at Baghdad International Airport, concluded that detainees who reported being sodomized or beaten were seeking sympathy and better treatment, and thus were not credible. For example, Army doctors had initially noted that a complaining detainee's wounds were "consistent with the history [of abuse] he provided. . . . The doctor did find scars on his wrists and noted what he believed to be an anal fissure." Formica had the detainee reëxamined two days later, by another doctor, who found "no fissure, and no scarring. . . . As a result, I did not find medical evidence of the sodomy." In the case of a detainee who died in custody, Formica noted that there had been bruising to the "shoulders, chest, hip, and knees" but added, "It is not unusual for detainees to have minor bruising, cuts and scrapes."

- Today "From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service," Taguba said. "And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable."
There is so, so much more in the article. Like I said at the top, I rearranged a few parts of it to present a coherent timeline. And if you think what I did was just cherrypicking bits to support some political point, I urge you to read the whole thing.

I urge you to read the whole thing anyway. Read it and weep.

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

We're not gonna take it

The Right-wing noise machine is bad enough, but it's even worse when the Left joins in:

Matt Taibbi:
The biggest problem with modern American liberalism may be the word itself. There’s just something about the word, liberal, something about the way it sounds – it just hits the ear wrong.

. . . A lot of it, surely, has to do with the relentless abuse liberalism takes in the right-wing media, on Fox and afternoon radio, and amid the network of newspaper invective-hurlers.

Ya think? Deep thoughts, indeed. Let's re-state: "I hate that mean bad guys have pissed in my pool, so now I'm going to just fill it in".

John Ridley:
Five months into the Democratically-controlled Congress, and all I'm seeing is some bad slapstick. The ultimate moment hee-larity -- and lets hope it's ultimate rather than penultimate -- would be the Gonzales no-confidence vote. A useless dollop of turgid showmanship that in the end the Dems couldn't even get to the floor for a vote.

Do you understand how Congress works? With the Republicans attempting to filibuster everything the Democrats want to pass, what exactly are the Democrats supposed to do?

Do you understand cloture?:
This originally required a supermajority of two-thirds of all senators (i.e. 64 out of 96). However, it proved very difficult to achieve this; the Senate tried eleven times between 1927 and 1962 to invoke cloture but failed each time. Filibuster was particularly heavily used by senators from Southern states to block civil rights legislation.

Now there's a surprise. As usual, conservative are trying to block progressives.

And then there's John Judis:

Congress's approval rating is even lower than President Bush's--it's at 23 percent according to the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. And, in another poll, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's favorability rating is down there with Scooter Libby--at 19 percent. Some Democrats blame their low standing with the public on the difficulties inherent in controlling Congress when the opposition party controls the White House. The fact is that the Democrats, with only a 50-49 majority, do not have enough votes to override White House vetoes or even to stop a Republican filibuster.

Blame the victims. Kill the messenger. Please, folks, show some reality-based thinking.

As long as the Right has a veto-proof number, and as long as GWBushCo will VETO EVERYTHING ON HIS DESK FROM DEMOCRATS, the power of the Democrats, while nominal, is really ephemeral.

So quit your bitching and work for a greater majority.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So you think I got an evil mind, I'll tell you Honey

Dover Bitch has a great post over at Digby's place:
I was travelling last week and I'm still catching up on all the news I missed. Today, I read the Fourth Circuit's al-Marri opinion and is it a doozy (PDF).

If John Yoo and David Addington weren't done emptying out the liquor cabinet by p. 71, the conservative court's smackdown of the unitary executive theory here was probably enough alone to send them into a slurred-speech babble (emphasis mine):
In light of al-Marri’s due process rights under our Constitution and Congress’s express prohibition in the Patriot Act on the indefinite detention of those civilians arrested as "terrorist aliens" within this country, we can only conclude that in the case at hand, the President claims power that far exceeds that granted him by the Constitution. 17
. . . After the 2006 elections, the concern-troll Republicans warned the new majority they better not "overreach." Certainly, nobody will accuse them of doing that with a straight face.

. . . Great news from the Fourth Circuit and incredible to see how roundly rejected the law-breaking of this president has been. After watching Congress abdicate their obligations for so long, the hearings these past few months have been nothing short of flabbergasting. Learning that the leaders of the Justice Department were, at one point, on the verge of resigning, and now seeing conservative courts saying "enough..." It makes me think this might be America, after all.
Sounds about right to me. But some of her commenters disagree:
Everyone always says, "When future historians look back on the Bush administration...."

I love the optimism. Just imagine: There's a future where the rule of law prevails and American values remain the guiding light of published, quoted historians.

It's adorable. Really.
The truly sad thing is that it doesn't matter. None of these criminals will see justice. Congressional Dems took impeachment off the table over process and political bullshit - when what we need right now is accusations, indictments and fury in the face of lawlessness...but still, American Idol has its moments, and nobody seems to be paying attention.

Seems like the concern trolls have landed here as well. Look, if you really feel that all is lost, that the Dems will never get it together, then boo-freakin'-hoo for you. Act, don't whine.

Join your local Democratic Party, attend meetings, become a Convention Delegate, in other words, become part of the process and not just a complainer.

Or if you have more money than time, contribute every cent you can to whomever you believe in, whether it's your Congressperson, or a Presidential hopeful. There is plenty of room under this big tent for optimists, but not really any for whiners.

By the way, here is what wingers say about al Marri:
As unlikely as it might seem, Peoria, Illinois is a hotbed of terrorist activity, according to the FBI. Yep, Peoria. It appears that Peoria is part of a 7-city “circuit” that disperses terrorists all across the U.S. – starting from San Francisco or Los Angeles, then moving to Phoenix, Denver, Peoria, Champaign (Illinois) and New York. Take for example the enemy combatant seen here in this mug shot: Ali Saleh Kahlan al-Marri, arrested in late 2001 by the FBI. He lived in West Peoria, and the feds allege he has direct ties to al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Looking at the ice-cold hatred in those eyes, we’re inclined to believe the feds on this one.

Hatred? Dude looks more like a member of Quiet Riot back in the day. Whatever.

Willie Mitchell

Those of you interested in the music recording arts may want to read a halfway decent piece on the man who recorded all the best stuff on Al Green, Ann Peebles, and others: Willie "Pops" Mitchell:
It's June 2007, and Willie Mitchell is where he's been for most of the past five decades: inside Royal Studio, his longtime South Memphis digs. Little has changed inside these wonderfully funky walls since Mitchell's 1970s heyday -- only now the building is located on a street that bears his name.

Today, like most days, you can glimpse Mitchell in the foyer, where he sits fondling a small keyboard on his desk. Looking impossibly young for his 79 years, he's still sharp, funny, and continues to work the kind of long hours that seem unthinkable for a man his age.
. . . .
Even today, Mitchell remains a hands-on presence during sessions at Royal. "Well, I tell any guy who comes in here, if you want me to do it, then I'm gonna do it. If you want to do it, you can do it somewhere else. Simple as that," says Mitchell.
. . . .
"Memphis don't give a ****," he says. "Man, you can call up and say I'm Willie Mitchell, I need a hamburger. They'll say, 'Well, go buy the S.O.B. yourself then.'"
. . . .
While Memphis may not care, famous musicians still come from far and wide to pay their respects to Mitchell.

"I had a man from England come here and kiss my feet," says Mitchell, "What was his name, Boo?"

"Which one?" asks Mitchell's grandson.

"The one ... Albert ... Costello. Elvis Costello," says Mitchell. "He kissed my feet, and I said who is this crazy man?"
If you got this far, you'll want to read the rest.

Related links:

Hi Records history and sampler

Monday, June 18, 2007

We Can Be Heroes

Candid storm chief gets a lashing

The new director of the National Hurricane Center, an outspoken critic of his superiors since he took over in January, charged Friday night that they are trying to muzzle him and could be setting him up for termination.

Bill Proenza said the acting director of the National Weather Service, Mary Glackin, visited his office in West Miami-Dade Friday and handed him a three-page letter of reprimand.

''I don't think they can pull the rug out from under me right now,'' Proenza said, "but there is no question they are trying to muzzle me.''

In recent interviews with The Miami Herald and other media, Proenza has strongly criticized leaders of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for spending millions of dollars on a public-relations campaign while hurricane forecasters deal with budget shortfalls.

One of his main concerns has been the imminent demise of a key weather satellite called QuikScat, launched in 1999 and long past its designed lifetime.

No replacement currently is in development and the loss of QuikScat could diminish the accuracy of some hurricane forecasts by up to 16 percent, Proenza and other experts have said.

Glackin's letter, obtained by The Miami Herald, charges that Proenza made statements that "may have caused some unnecessary confusion about NOAA's ability to accurately predict tropical storms.''

In the letter, Glackin also told Proenza that his actions had been "requiring me to spend a disproportionate amount of time to correct any confusion; causing undue concern and misunderstanding among your staff; and taking valuable time away from your public role . . .''[ED: That's bovine excrement, if you lose the one aging satellite that can help predict ever increasing hurricanes, that causes confusion.]

Several forecasters and other staffers at the hurricane center have told The Miami Herald that they fully support Proenza, and his comments have earned compliments from many emergency managers and others.
It was not the first time he has been disciplined since taking over the center.

Proenza said that on April 13, he was told by Louis Uccellini, a high-ranking weather service official: "You better stop these QuikScat [and other] complaints. I'm warning you. You have NOAA, DOC [the U.S. Department of Commerce] and the White House pissed off.''

Asked about his next move, Proenza said Friday night: "I'm not going to be silenced. I know my responsibilities and I know what I have to do.''
This is pure Bushco at it's heart. If you tell the truth, you get punished. If you lie for them you get promoted. (e.g. General Pace v. General Petraeus.)

Here's a sample of how much the QuikScat satellite has meant to Earth's inhabitants.

(h/t to MC for sending the link.)

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?

When I was 5 my Dad put me on his shoulders to wade thru snow drifts to reach our home.

When I was 10 he taught me to shoot a rifle and a shotgun. And to never assume any gun was unloaded. And to never, ever, ever point a gun at anything you don't intend to kill.

When I was 11 he took me to DisneyLand and the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl to see our hometown team lose.

When I was 12 he taught me to shoot pool. Neither one of us had the desire to shoot anything else at that point.

When I was 17 he gave me money for rent after I'd dropped out of High School against his fervent wishes.

When I was 21 he gave me money for my last year of college and I graduated summa cum laude.

When I was 27 he co-signed a loan for my audio company to expand.

When I was 30 he sent me rent money to keep my head above (white) water.

When I was 35 I was able to fete him in L.A. at the venue I was working at.

When I was 40 I got to spend some of his last, best days with him.

Happy Father's Day Dad. I wish you were here.

I've been staring down the barrel of a gun

I grew up in a house with guns. My Grandfather (I called him Papa) had a rifle in the closet, and I used t open the closet door, stare at it, and even once or twice reached out and touched it.

I never played with it. Why? Because, quietly rebellious punk that I thought was, I knew my ass would be spanked, hard, if I was caught with it.

I shot the gun a few times a few years later. My Dad & I took it into the desert so I could try to kill a few peaceful creatures for a college Biology project. I was supposed to stuff and mount 3 small mammals. Oddly enough, in 5th grade, I had checked a book out from the Bookmobile called, if I recall, "Practical Taxidermy". Of course, at that age, it was a giggle, a schoolboy fascination with things gross and icky.

I truly had no idea how gross and icky it was until I shot the head off a desert squirrel. Seeing blood sport, and tiny broken bits of bone was jarring. And frustrating, because the animal had to be whole for the display.

I finished the project a few weeks later with the help of a hunter friend shot shot a couple of rabbits for me. I never shot a gun again. That was in 1967.

I hate guns. I recognize their sad neccessity, for law enforcement, and soldiers. But I have absolutely no comprehension how a human can enjoy killing a creature and call it sport. Some of my beliefs I am willing to call personal failings. I recognize that some may legitimately enjoy professional wrestling, whereas I think it's idiotic. But I own my feelings about guns. No one is going to change my mind.

I regularly hear from folks on an email list, many of them conservatives and libertarians, that guns are lovely pieces of engineering and should be appreciated. They prattle on about various loads and calibers. I think they are certifiably insane.

From the NYTimes today:
Lawmakers appear to be on their way to fixing one glaring flaw in the law-enforcement system as a direct response to the massacre at Virginia Tech. But another change that is vital to public safety is facing heated resistance from opponents of gun control who seem to have trouble drawing a line between the right to bear arms and using them in crimes and selling them to criminals.

The bill would provide money to states to update the national database that gun dealers use to screen prospective buyers, adding more criminal records and mental health information. This advance for public safety was the product of weeks of negotiations between senior Congressional Democrats and the National Rifle Association.

. . . At issue is a pernicious gift to the gun lobby known as the Tiahrt amendment, after Representative Todd Tiahrt, the Kansas Republican who attached it to the spending measure in 2003. It limits the ability of federal officials to release data showing the path from manufacture to retail purchase of a gun that was recovered in a crime. Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Representative Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, are expected to seek its repeal.

All the arguments by people who want to keep guns in their houses fail even casual scrutiny to me. Statistics, while open to interpretation, show far more danger from those guns than any perceived benefit. To me, it's a bit like any addiction: one will torture logic to support the addiction, no matter how harmful. These people just want to have guns around.

I think that's crazy.

Some interesting reading on gun control issues can be found in these Wikipedia articles:

Gun Control

Right to Bear Arms

Gun Politics in the United States

United States v. Miller(1939)

NRSC Internet Campaign Guide

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has issued a new Internet Campaign Guide that Democrats need to read as well.

The snazzy new publication The Politico is on the case:

And btw, the mainstream media are so, uh, 2006. The first stop for press secretaries, according to the guidebook, should be bloggers who can create "buzz" and inevitably trigger stories in the drippy MSM.
. . . .
Open the campaign checkbook. Hire at least one staff member, but hopefully three, to lasso the wild Web. Basically, the Internet can't be a payroll afterthought. Campaigns must have people who constantly update the website, manage postings on YouTube and MySpace, and monitor the hundreds, if not thousands, of chattering bloggers.
. . . .
Make blogs your first point of contact. It used to be that campaigns checked in with newspaper reporters, then everybody else. Now, friendly blogs should be the first point of contact.
Go read the whole piece here; and read excerpts from the Guide itself here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

To render* a public service to our reading public I offer the Joe Lieberman translator.
(*'Render' in this case is used as "extract the impurities from fat, blubber, etc., by melting.")
What I Saw in Iraq
Friday, June 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

I recently returned from Iraq and four other countries in the Middle East, my first trip to the region since December. In the intervening five months, almost everything about the American war effort in Baghdad has changed, with a new coalition military commander, Gen. David Petraeus; a new U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker; the introduction, at last, of new troops; and most important of all, a bold, new counterinsurgency strategy.
We've put a completely different shade of lipstick on this pig.
The question of course is--is it working? Here in Washington, advocates of retreat insist with absolute certainty that it is not, seizing upon every suicide bombing and American casualty as proof positive that the U.S. has failed in Iraq, and that it is time to get out.
Ignore those mortars impacting the green zone and the record number of American deaths since the surge escalation began.
The officials I met in Baghdad said that 90% of suicide bombings in Iraq today are the work of non-Iraqi, al Qaeda terrorists. In fact, al Qaeda's leaders have repeatedly said that Iraq is the central front of their global war against us. That is why it is nonsensical for anyone to claim that the war in Iraq can be separated from the war against al Qaeda--and why a U.S. pullout, under fire, would represent an epic victory for al Qaeda, as significant as their attacks on 9/11.
I'm so ignorant that even after my BFF Bush said there was no connection between 9/11 and Iraq, and the fact that AQ never existed in Iraq until the invasion, I can't help regurgitating the old Republican memes.
Some of my colleagues in Washington claim we can fight al Qaeda in Iraq while disengaging from the sectarian violence there. Not so, say our commanders in Baghdad, who point out that the crux of al Qaeda's strategy is to spark Iraqi civil war.
Actually I don't have any colleagues, and if I did they didn't say anything like that, but I wouldn't be a loyal bushie if I said that America started and is fueling the civil war.
Facts on the ground also compel us to recognize that Iran is doing everything in its power to drive us out of Iraq, including providing substantive support, training and sophisticated explosive devices to insurgents who are murdering American soldiers. Iran has initiated a deadly military confrontation with us, from bases in Iran, which we ignore at our peril, and at the peril of our allies throughout the Middle East.
Geez, I carry their water, I clean their toilets, I suck their d**ks ... why won't they let me in to the neoclown clubhouse?
One Arab leader told me during my trip that he is extremely concerned about Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but that he doubted America's staying power in the region and our political will to protect his country from Iranian retaliation over the long term. Abandoning Iraq now would substantiate precisely these gathering fears across the Middle East that the U.S. is becoming an unreliable ally.
I met a guy who I couldn't understand so obviously when my translator said 'gathering fears', 'retaliation', 'I'm scared' I assumed he meant Iran.
A few months earlier, the Marine Corps chief of intelligence in Iraq had written off the entire province as "lost," while the Iraq Study Group described the situation there as "deteriorating."
Just like Bush I refuse to listen to anyone who doesn't tell me what I want to hear. But unlike Bush, I can't fire them.
One of Ramadi's leading sheikhs told me: "A rifle pointed at an American soldier is a rifle pointed at an Iraqi."
And I would give you his name but then he and his family would be killed.
In Baghdad, U.S. forces have cut in half the number of Iraqi deaths from sectarian violence since the surge began in February.
La, la, la, I can't hear you. And I don't care that American deaths have gone up while the Iraqi government has refused to report on civilian deaths during that period.
On Haifa Street, for instance, where there was bloody fighting not so long ago, the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade of our First Cavalry Division, under the command of a typically impressive American colonel, Bryan Roberts, has not only retaken the neighborhood from insurgents, but is working with the local population to revamp the electrical grid and sewer system, renovate schools and clinics, and create an "economic safe zone" where businesses can reopen.
Woo, hoo! Americans captured a single street in Baghdad ... and while they don't actually have any electricity there they have a $hitload of sewage! Where do you think I get this crap!?
Our troops have succeeded in improving security conditions in precisely those parts of Iraq where the "surge" has focused.
Even I have to put surge in quotes, and this is an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
While benchmarks are critically important, American soldiers are not fighting in Iraq today only so that Iraqis can pass a law to share oil revenues. They are fighting [...] to achieve the national reconciliation that will enable them to pass the oil law
It really is all about their oil.
The question now is, will we politicians in Washington rise to match their leadership, sacrifices and understanding of what is on the line for us in Iraq--or will we betray them, and along with them, America's future security?
I will continue to betray my country. I will continue to betray my voters. I will continue to betray my party. And as my BFF GW sez "wtf are you going to do about it?"

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)


Chris in Paris at AMERICAblog reports that the FDA just isn't Petsmart. [Addendum from The Sailor:
The FDA found no trace of the medication in five samples of one type of cat and two dog foods it tested in the past week, said spokesman Mike Herndon.

"At this point, FDA sees no compelling need to analyze any more samples for acetaminophen," he said.
This isn't even bad science, it's no science! One cat food and two dog food samples among hundreds of brands does not a scientific sample make. Jeebus, they didn't even test enough to feed WTF??'s menagerie for a day!]

And speaking of WTF??, they catch Afghanistan awarding the US State Department another degree in BS.

Talkleft celebrates their 5th blogiversary! (y, wkjmctp!*) Jeralyn will always have a soft spot in our hearts for her support during The Vidiot's Case of the Skull and Sawbones.

(* Yes, we know Jeralyn Merrit coined that phrase!)

Cookie Jill at skippy's most excellent thought and music emporium finds that republicans in california have to import their hatchet men from outside the US. And here I thought that after Gitmo and Abu Ghraib there weren't any jobs Americans wouldn't stoop to.

TBogg has a Clarenceification of cruel & unusual punishment.

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Friday, June 15, 2007

rejection never felt this good

Poll: Most Republicans Reject Evolution

The three Republican presidential candidates who indicated last month that they do not believe in evolution may have been taking a safe stance on the issue when it comes to appealing to GOP voters.

A Gallup poll released Monday said that while the country is about evenly split over whether the theory of evolution is true, Republicans disbelieve it by more than 2-to-1.
Coincidentally, evolution has rejected republicans 2-to-1.

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

Saints and sinners, something willing us, to be lord of the flies

Anyone who reads here regularly knows there's one Right-Wing Nut I often criticize. I've even left considerate comments at his place, attempting to start a dialog, as he seems to be well-thought out, if incorrect in his conclusions. But so far he refuses to engage.

But then the bastard posts a piece of manure like this:
But this is not news. It’s been going on for at least a year and nothing we have done or are doing currently is slowing down the momentum of this bloody country careening toward disaster. Yes, things are that bad in Iraq. Our own military says it. Maybe it’s time for the President of the United States to start saying it and at the same time, tell us what he intends to do to stave off disaster.

I would say to my one note lefty friends that removing the troops is not – repeat, is not – the complete answer to this problem. Of course, if your only goal is to see the United States humiliated in order to validate your worldview and make political hay out of the ensuing tragedy then I can see why you’d support such a position. (emphasis mine)

Dammit to Jeebus, this is the kind of dishonesty, and sophomoric logical fallacy that would have gotten an F in Mr. Wiley's English 101 class I took in '66 during my first year in Community College. Masking as high-minded logic, it's nothing more than "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?".

Let me explain this in simple words: We (on the left) oppose the war for the following reasons:
  • American troops are dying and being injured for no benefit to us.
  • Iraqi citizens are dying and being injured for no benefit to us, or them.
  • Billions of $$ are being poured down the drain, for no benefit to us.
  • Freedoms conservatives praise are being curtailed for no benefit to us.
  • Executive power is being enhanced, with no benefit to us.
  • Middle-Eastern security is in tatters, with no...
You idiot, the best way to avoid seeing the United States humiliated would have been to act grown-up before the war and resist it, not fall into the jingoistic rhetorical cesspool that GWBushCo dived into.

We've become "Lord of the Flies": schoolboys fighting, acting like grownups while becoming feral, as if it mattered to the world. The only difference is that in the book, there were grown-ups who could rescue the boys. And what happened on the island had no effect elsewhere.

In our world . . .?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Another Victim of Sgt Schultz' Disease

Ex-Justice Dept. lawyer can't recall his role in controversial policies

Another former Justice Department lawyer went before Congress on Wednesday with few answers for his Democratic interrogators and a spotty memory.

Hans von Spakovsky, who's seeking a full six-year term on the Federal Election Commission, deflected questions about whether he undermined voting rights laws, saying, "I was not the decision maker in the front office of the Civil Rights Division."

Time and again during his confirmation hearing, he cited either the attorney-client privilege or a cloudy memory for his purported role in restricting minorities' voting rights.

Von Spakovsky couldn't remember blocking an investigation into complaints that a Minnesota Republican official was discriminating against Native American voters before the 2004 election.

Under oath, he also said he didn't recall seeing data from the state of Georgia that would have undercut a push by senior officials within the Civil Rights Division to approve the state's tough new law requiring photo IDs of all voters. The data showed that 300,000 Georgia voters lacked driver's licenses. A federal judge later threw out the law as unconstitutional.
Nearly the entire two-hour hearing focused on von Spakovsky and on allegations from [six former senior officials of the Voting Rights Section's] career Justice Department lawyers that he was the administration's "point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's mandate to protect voting rights" of minorities during his more than four-year tenure.

Citing a scathing letter from six former senior officials of the Voting Rights Section, Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told him bluntly: "It is really a problem for this body to vote for someone with this letter on the record."
Asked about the Georgia ID law, von Spakovsky declined to disclose the legal advice he gave his superiors, saying it was privileged, but he maintained that the department took the correct position because the courts didn't find that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act. In overturning the law, the federal courts cited the 14th and 24th Amendments to the Constitution, he said.
Read the last paragraph again ... his excuse is that it wasn't against the law, it was just unconstitutional!

And where does OUR lawyer, (yes, theoretically the DoJ represents the government ... of the people, by the people and for the people), get off saying it was attorney client privilege?

Does anyone else see a pattern? Apparently everyone in the Bush admin has terrible memory lapses and is incapable of making a decision.

(Cross posted at Vidiotspeak)

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 13

There are rock, country, classical, and folk guitarists. And then there are players who transcend a genre, who transcend every genre, and just simply master the instrument. At that point, they have mastered the language of the instrument, and any sound or voice is a possibility. Of course, these players are few and far between.

Ever hear of Lenny Breau? I didn't think so (from Wikipedia):
Lenny Breau (August 5, 1941August 12, 1984) was a brilliantly innovative American-born Canadian jazz guitarist who brought together country, classical, flamenco and jazz guitar techniques. Breau developed a great deal of technical ability; inspired by country guitarists like Chet Atkins, Breau used a fingerstyle not often used in Jazz guitar. Largely unknown in popular music, he is known today as a musician's musician.

1941, in Auburn, Maine. His francophone parents, Hal "Lone Pine" Breau and Betty Cody (nee Coté), were professional country and western musicians who performed and recorded from the end of the Second World War until the late 1950s. Their son began playing guitar at the age of eight, and by the age of twelve he was the lead guitarist for his parents' band, billed as "Lone Pine Junior", playing Merle Travis and Chet Atkins instrumentals and occasionally singing. Breau made his first professional recording in Maine at the age of 15, appropriately titled Boy Wonder.

Read the rest, it explains a lot.

Here's a video of Lenny showing how all styles of guitar are really the same:

And here's some video from a '68 documentary that shows Lenny's mastery of the instrument:

When he was on his game, no one showed more independance as player. By that, I mean, he could sound like 2 players at once: one playing bass & chords, piano style, while the other played the lead part. Some of his recordings really do sound like 2 guys playing at once, when in fact they are just Lenny.

I saw him play only once, at a NAMM show, with Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs playing (unnecessarily) rhythm guitar, and smiling like he had just won the lottery. Even Morse, a truly wonderful player, knew when he was in the presence of genius.

Lenny is gone now, but his legacy as a player leaves much for any of us who fancy ourselves players to strive for.

Update: from darkblack in comments: