Monday, February 26, 2007

King George strikes again

Making Martial Law Easier

More scary shit from the neocons. Here’s a short New York Times editorial in its entirety…

A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration's behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called
posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president's use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.

The newly enacted provisions upset this careful balance. They shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any "other condition."

Changes of this magnitude should be made only after a thorough public airing. But these new presidential powers were slipped into the law without hearings or public debate. The president made no mention of the changes when he signed the measure, and neither the White House nor Congress consulted in advance with the nation's governors.

There is a bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri, and backed unanimously by the nation's governors, that would repeal the stealthy revisions. Congress should pass it. If changes of this kind are proposed in the future, they must get a full and open debate.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Something is very fucked up...

...with the media and with us when two of the “top news stories” that appear on Yahoo! (maybe it’s just Yahoo!, but I doubt it) are, a.) “out of control” Britney checks into rehab; and, b.) Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez aren’t as good of friends as we’d been led to believe.

We make me sick. And, like my friend Wendy said yesterday in an unrelated response, “It’s a team effort.”

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh, to be able to right-click real life…(random stuff)

First random topic…I never go to bars or whatever to meet new people, but if I start, I’m totally saving this line for reference…“I might not be the best looking guy here, but beauty's only a light switch away…”

Second random topic…I love Jim Schutze. He gets his knickers in a twist over the exact same kind of stuff that I do. Basically, he can’t stand being fed any amount of bullshit about anything and I can’t either. I get the feeling we have similar personalities…(hopefully) lovable curmudgeons who try to joke when we’re not bitching. Probably the only differences between us are that I swear way more than he does and people actually read what he’s bitching about. He’s one of the few writers who keep the Observer legitimate, in my opinion…

Third random topic…I’ve never cared for award shows or halls of fame or any of that stuff. But even though I think the idea of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is pretty stupid, I always have strong opinions about who should or should not be inducted every time the nominations are announced.

The First Major Annoyance with regard to this subject is that The Pretenders were inducted. On the first try, no less. I find this highly annoying because, a.) “The Pretenders” released two albums…the first being one of the greatest albums of all time and the second being one of the greatest examples of “sophomore slump” of all time; after that it was the Chrissie Hynde Show, which proved to be much less impressive and suggests to me – as with David Byrne and Talking Heads – that the leader of the band is/was only as good as her/his collaborators. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily. But in Chrissie Hynde’s case, it’s especially annoying because she’s one of the biggiest phonies and hypocrites in rock music. She wrote some good songs after half the original incarnation of The Pretenders died by overdose…it’s just that there were only about maybe six or so over a twenty-plus year period. Not very award-worthy, in my opinion.

The Second Major Annoyance is that Van Halen were inducted on their first nomination while it took Black Sabbath, like, five times or something. That is so, so hideously wrong on so many levels. Yes, I’d put Van Halen in. But Black Sabbath – as much as the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin and The Clash (and I’m being serious) – should have been an absolute no-brainer, slam-dunk, pick your cliché. Think about it…for better or worse, heavy metal and all the related genres – bands from Slayer to Nirvana – would probably have never existed. I honestly can’t think of another band on the planet who has been so influential. Again, I’m not kidding. They invented their own genre…period. Yes, they were bloated and embarrassing toward the end of the 70s, but the first half of that original lineup was as important to the history of hard rock as anything else…ever. Prove me wrong, goddamit.

Fourth random topic…There has been a series of events that has propelled (read: dragged kicking and screaming) me into the twentieth century recently. Just in time for the twenty-first, I know. While I have always believed strongly in the need to have a cell phone, I have also always had a great reluctance to actually use my cell phone much…a reluctance that was based as much on lack of necessity as it was my fear of gizmos. Nevertheless, because of the aforementioned series of events, I have become – oh, god – Cell Phone Guy. At least, compared to what I was prior to a few weeks ago, anyway…

The series of events in a nutshell: For the last five-plus years, I have only had one credit card, which also happened to be my bank card. Well, a couple weeks ago, somebody got hold of my card number (probably online) and started charging a bunch of fraudulent shit up in New York. (The good news, for me, was that they didn’t go off and buy some high-definition, high-plasma, high-whatever TV or something…they actually used it for ordinary stuff: a meal at McDonalds, a bus pass, some stuff at Home Depot. So part of me actually feels good that, while it was theft, at least they were stealing shit that helped them get through a day. They got fed, they got taken some place they needed to go, perhaps fixed something at home. I can live with that.) Fortunately, the fraud was caught quickly, but it left me without a credit card…and since I rarely carry cash, this was a problem of some significance for me. I spent much of the rest of that day running home from work to get my checkbook, running to the bank to write a check to get cash, running back to work to get online, talk to the credit card people, etc. And since I was running about – and knew that I’d be working all weekend – I had to rely on my cell phone for all the different people who needed to get in touch with me about different things. (I should also mention that I was more or less “on call” because of some projects at work and needed to be able to drop everything and run across town for extended periods of time, be updated on the progress of said projects constantly, etc.)

Anyone who knows me knows I have zero patience, tolerance, talent and disposition for anything technology-related. (The irony that I’m blogging about this is not lost on me, by the way. But I must point out that the extent of my computer skills and understanding is basically typing. I can type the fuck out of anything. That’s why all my posts are so goddamn long. It’s not because I have anything important or brilliant to say…I can just type whatever comes to mind almost immediately. Talented hands, perhaps…not so talented brain. Oh, and I know you can sometimes right-click on something and save it. Occasionally, I’ll just right-click on something for no good reason…just ‘cause I know something computer-y will happen when I do. Beyond that, though, I’m basically a chimp.)

I’m not like many folks who are drawn like moth to flame to anything with buttons, lights, bells, whistles or otherwise pokey things. Indeed, I am repelled immediately and almost violently from them – much like a crucifix to a vampire or empathy to a Republican – because they immediately reveal my true nature as a complete and utter retard toward all things…I don’t even know how to say it. Technological? It’s not “detail-oriented” because I’m good with shit like that at work (and, in fact, the words are in the title of my Monster resume that has been floating uselessly up in the cyber ether for longer than I can remember). My co-workers would confirm this…the fact that I am the absolute shit when it comes to knowing, remembering and communicating the most mind-numbing minutea regarding anything product-related (I still haven’t decided if my job gradually made me anal-retentive in some ways or if it instead just brought that previously-dormant quality to the surface – I prefer the former theory, but can’t confirm). But I’ve always been this way and I don’t know why. Back in the day when I could halfway-seriously call myself a “musician,” I had absolutely no patience for other musicians…mostly because, if they weren’t talking about music theory or some other shit that broke music down into, like, math or something, they were constantly going on about their gear; this pedal does this, you plug this thing in here, hook this to that to this and you can find yourself with a thousand sound options for…bleh. I have always been a “just let me fucking hit the ‘on’ button and go” kind of guy. And not in any sort of Unabomber-y way…I don’t have any philosophical problem with technology. I just know I can’t process the shit.

I do know that whenever the time comes for me to replace this antiquated hunk of shit in front of which I’m sitting now for a new, more bitchin’ model, I’m going to have to ask Val or Julie or somebody with some sort of computer knowledge to go with me. Otherwise, I’m just going to end up in a Best Buy at midnight, crying and drooling all over myself before passing out and being taken somewhere for “evaluation.” It will be nice to have something that doesn’t freeze up automatically whenever I have more than two things open…but the transition will not be pretty, I’m sure.

That's all. Just wanted to vent.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Looking for dog fighting and cock fighting materials?'s the place for you...!

Though I wrote Amazon much the same message, I’m going to quote my best friend Wendy’s message to them because she was a bit more specific and articulate…

“I have recently become aware that sells books and DVDs promoting dog and cock fighting even though they are illegal activities and obviously inhumane. I have spent a LARGE amount of money at over the years and am a devoted customer. I am telling now, though, that I will not make any further purchases as long as these reprehensible items are sold on your site.”

As you might gather from Wendy’s message, yes… actually sells books, magazines and DVDs the promote dog fighting and cockfighting. As appalling and disturbing as that is in itself, the “official” Amazon response to both Wendy’s and my messages is as follows…

“Thank you for writing to with your concerns about selling books and DVDs promoting dog and cock fighting.

“As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on our web site represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics.

“ believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we will continue to make controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they are prohibited by law. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on our web site. However, does not endorse any opinions expressed by individual authors, musical artists, or filmmakers.

“We value all feedback from our customers, and I thank you again for taking the time to send us your comments about this issue. We hope you will allow us to continue to serve you.”

I’m speechless…unfuckingbelievable. That these people would use freedom of speech as justification for selling material that promotes illegal and grossly inhumane activities is completely offensive. As my friend Ginger said, “I can appreciate they don't want to censor, but I seriously doubt they would sell kiddie porn magazines and that's the same type of thing. They just don't want to take animal abuse seriously. That's very disappointing from such a huge company.”

Another of my friends, Shonda, said, “Yeah, that is crap. I just happened to go looking for some stuff on Amazon today but remembered your email. Glad I didn't order from them after all.”

And that’s exactly what I hope to achieve with this blog/bulletin. Please forward this to all your friends so that we can boycott That Amazon sells this kind of crap – and uses the soapbox of “freedom and censorship” from which to stand when justifying their right to do so – is unconscionable.

Thanks for reading this and please let me know if you need additional information with regard to how I found out about this particular issue…

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


"Don't lethargic...
You're a're the target"

That has nothing to do with this post, except for the fact that the name of the photo above is called "Target" and it reminded me of the old Husker Du song. I know it's the title because the photographer was gracious enough to email me a jpeg of the image for use in my blog. I was actually going to include the pic just as a companion to the previous post about the interview in the newest issue of The Sun with Richard Louv, armadillos, etc.

Really, though, it's in appropriate for that purpose, because the picture itself is...well, worth at least a thousand words, as the saying goes. It's a remarkable work of art that completely took my breath away when I first saw it. My first reaction to it was quite visceral, but changed almost immediately to another interpretation. And therein lies the beauty and genius of the photo. Like all great art, it's open to myriad interpretations...some simultaneous, others that form upon later examination.

The photographer's name is Margaret Fox and I cannot thank her enough for emailing a jpeg image of it to some schmuck with a blog down in Texas whom she's never met. I think there may be some kind of unspoken community that exists among readers of The Sun...a sort of inherent trust that allows you to feel immediately comfortable with your Sun reader peerage.

I hope you're able to view the photo and have some of the same reactions I did, despite my not being able to display it the same size it appears in the magazine. Upon first glance, I thought it was an instance of great timing...a child running and playing, the moon in the distance giving added perspective - literal and figurative - with a commercial airplane that just happened to be flying past. It looks like the child is almost chasing it. After a few moments, though, I noticed the angle of the plane and immediately felt the cold shiver of 9/11...the footage we all saw of that second plane as it banked sharply in the direction of the World Trade Center towers and the devastation that followed. I know to this day, I can't see any airplane in the vicinity of a skyscraper without feeling that same sick feeling. And I see it almost every day on my way home from work as I head south toward downtown Dallas. (Granted, I'm seeing it from miles away so "vicinity" is a term relative to my vantage point and lack of dimensional perspective. But still...)

Then I realized that the plane in the photo isn't an actual jetliner, but a model airplane that the boy has launched/thrown himself and is chasing after. He's just playing. And that gives the photo even more of an emotional punch...the polar opposite of what I thought I was first seeing versus what my rational mind was able to fight through and recognize. That recognition led to a very genuine questioning of "reality"...what you think or fear or hope is real in contrast to what is actually real. And which reality is preferable, for that matter.

There's also the additional visual commentary that all those contrasting interpretations evoke...the juxtaposition of the innocence and pure, joyful experience of youth in comparison to the fear and dread we've accepted, if not embraced, as adults. It just amazes me what this one photograph communicates so simply and so brilliantly. Whether that was Margaret Fox's intention...I have no idea. But it moved me in a profound way. I wish I could blow the photo up to poster size and hang it somewhere in my crappy little apartment because it's such an inspiration on so many levels. Not to mention the fact that it's yet another illustration of my own "learn/unlearn" philosophy...

Anyway, I know I descended into pretentious artbabble, but I'm unable to share my thoughts on this one without doing so. I tend to lose whatever articulation I'm normally capable of in the face of something really beautiful.

Thanks, Margaret, for sending me the image and for capturing it in the first place. I hope you all are able to enjoy it half as much as I do.

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note to self...

"Being bitter...that's for people who aren't busy with other matters... I (don't) have time for that." - former president Harry S. Truman

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Donde esta los armadillos...?

Just finished the February 2007 edition of The Sun and it was outstanding as always. As with each issue, this month's started with an this case, a journalist by the name of Richard Louv. Louv was speaking about a concept that I found pretty fascinating that he calls "nature-deficit disorder." One of the comments he made that really struck a chord with me was, "There is something in us that needs immersion in nature, and when we don't get that, we don't do well."

I know that's definitely true in my case. For the most part, I never feel more comfortable within my own skin and at peace with the space I occupy on this Earth than when I'm in the desert. (Doesn't necessarily have to be a desert environment, I don't think...though, that's always my preference.) It's one of the rare times when I can really shut my brain down and Whatever issues I have are left in the car or the motel room and I just probably sounds hokey or cheesy or maudlin, but I just become a completely small, completely anonymous, completely random human exploring and soaking in a much larger world. One that's more beautiful and infinite and simple - a simplicity dictated by the futility of trying to understand its complexity, if that makes sense - than I will ever come close to understanding. I don't know why I find that kind of desolation (for lack of a better word) so comforting, but I do. Maybe it's because it's in that situation, both mentally and physically, that I begin to grasp the concept of "perspective" sense of being just feels in better, more proper proportion. I wish I could explain it better...

Anyway, back to the interview. At one point, Louv was discussing a trip he took with his nineteen-year-old son to some of the areas where he spent growing up near Kansas and Missouri. He said the following...

Next we drove up to Kansas City, where I grew up. Along the way, we must've seen thirty dead armadillos on the road. I had never seen even one as a child. It turns out the armadillos' range has expanded out of Texas and up to central Missouri. There's some suspicion this might be caused by global warming, but that also may not be the case. In fact, armadillos have been heading north ever since they crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico in 1850. We have to consider a much longer clock when we talk about the environment and remember that major environmental changes have always occurred.

My brain immediately siezed on that - a-HA! - because it in turn occurred to me that I haven't seen an armadillo - dead or alive - in years. Much like the dust storms we used to get in Dallas when I was a kid. And much like the decent snowfalls (4" - 8") we would also occasionally get, as opposed to the crappy two-inches-or-less we always have gotten since the time I was in junior high, probably. It's just one of those things that disappears so gradually you don't notice it until years later, when something sparks a memory.

They're such cool, cute little critters...I miss armadillos.

Via con dios, armadillo. (And stay away from the roads...!)

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


Here's a threefold bitchfest from me to you (whoever "you" are). My targets aren't unusual...the media, gutless politicians afraid to stand up in the face of criminal corruption, and public indifference (and our lack of desire to hold the people we elect accountable for either not doing or abusing the positions they hold).

Our Gutless Media

If Beale Street Could Talk – Part 2…Impeach Disney and General Electric

By any serious standard of journalism, impeachment should be in the news right now. This illustrates the worst problem with our media. It's not how they cover stories. It's how they do not cover stories.

Newsweek poll a while back said that 51 percent of Americans want Bush impeached and 44 percent do not. That's about double the support there was for impeaching Clinton when it was in the news every single day.

It is a relatively short journey to see failure to demand impeachment as a moral failure. If we go into the next presidency with the next president free to launch wars on the basis of lies, torture, murder, detain without charge, spy without warrant, rewrite laws with signing statements, hide the workings of our government, disobey laws on his or her whim ... I don't care what party he or she is from, I don't care if it's Nelson Mandela, you don't give that power to a human being. And that's what we're doing if we fail to impeach Bush and Cheney.

Our Gutless Political Representation

President’s Actions Could Lead to Impeachment

"The President is mischaracterizing U.S. action vis-à-vis Iran. In fact, the U.S. is already engaged in offensive and provocative acts against Iran. The President's strategy, by portraying our involvement as only being on the defensive, is laying out the groundwork for him to attack Iran and bypass authorization by Congress," Kucinich said.

Washington Post article stated: ‘A senior intelligence officer was more wary of the ambitions of the strategy. “This has little to do with Iraq. It's all about pushing Iran's buttons. It is purely political.” The official expressed similar views about other new efforts aimed at Iran, suggesting that the United States is escalating toward an unnecessary conflict to shift attention away from Iraq and to blame Iran for the United States' increasing inability to stanch the violence there.’

Kucinich said, "The White House spin machine is at it again: this time providing justification for a new war - a war against Iran." Kucinich pointed out that while the term 'officials' is mentioned 21 times in the Post article - not once are the officials identified by name.

In his January 10 address to the nation, President Bush asserted that succeeding in Iraq begins with addressing Iran and Syria. "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq," Bush said.

Washington Post is quoting strategically placed Administration sources who are providing justification for an attack against Iran," Kucinich said. "This new twist on Iran, a country this Administration refuses to have free and open diplomatic talks with, is stating the Administration's case for war."

"The degree to which this President continues to take steps to go to war against Iran without consulting with the full Congress is the degree to which he is increasingly putting himself in jeopardy of an impeachment proceeding," Kucinich said.

I’m a fan of Dennis Kucinich, but I’m wondering if he’s being a little disingenuous here. It’s one thing to start throwing the word “impeachment” around in an effort to show you’re tough or at least just pissed off. If Kucinich is sincere, why hasn’t he filed impeachment papers? It’s already been done at least once since this past November’s elections…

Our Gutless - or at least willfully ignorant - Citizenry

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney Makes the Case for Impeachment

As some people learned from the minimal and abusive media coverage, on December 8, 2006, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced Articles of Impeachment against President George W. Bush, making him the 10th president of the United States to face such action. Of course, McKinney was on her way out of office and thus more willing to challenge the Democratic Party leadership by upholding basic Constitutional principles.

Fewer people are aware that Congresswoman McKinney on December 27, 2006, entered into the Congressional Record extended remarks on impeachment that merit our close attention. Why would she do such a thing on her way out the door with no chance of reintroducing her bill in the new Congress? For one thing, she clearly would agree with the response Congressman John Conyers gave to Lewis Lapham when asked what he thought the point was of publishing a lengthy report laying out evidence of Bush's impeachable offenses. Conyers' response was: "to take away the excuse that we didn't know."

Here is McKinney's case for impeachment and for the history books, a case that says to historians, "Look, I knew what needed to be done, and I failed for years but I admitted it on my last day," but a case that says to us: "Here is your mission: awaken currently serving Congress members to this case or kiss your democracy goodbye."

Some of the more noteworthy reasons for impeachment, based on McKinney’s remarks…


Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America, the President has a duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." George Walker Bush, during his tenure as President of the United States, has repeatedly violated the letter and spirit of laws and rules of criminal procedure used by civilian and military courts, and has violated or ignored regulatory codes and practices that carry out the law, has contravened the laws governing agencies of the executive and the purposes of these agencies, and in conducting the foreign affairs of the United States of America has proceeded in flagrant violation of the core body of international laws, to which the United States of America is bound by treaty.

With respect to domestic law, this conduct has included one or more of the following:

(1) Self-Exemption from Laws upon Signing. Since assuming the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush has attached signing statements to more than one hundred bills before signing them, within which he has made over eight hundred challenges to provisions of laws passed by Congress, a figure that exceeds the total number of such challenges by all previous presidents combined, and has used this practice to exempt himself, as President of the United States, from enforcing or from being held accountable to provisions of the said laws.

(2) Suspension of Basic Legal Proceedings. In dereliction of his duty to uphold the law, George Walker Bush has systematically violated basic legal and criminal procedures that require any search, seizure, arrest or detention to be non-discriminatory, based on probable cause and sufficient evidence to warrant a stated charge, that provide access to legal counsel, arraignment and the option of bail within a period of days, and that require reasonable and non-coercive interrogations, rights of silence, as well as privy communications with counsel…By ordering mass arrests and indefinite detentions based on indiscriminate profiling of specific populations, George Walker Bush has also systematically violated laws prohibiting harmful extraditions, secret arrest and custody, and denial of defined and legal periods of detention or incarceration.

With respect to international law, this conduct has included one or more of the following:

(3) Promoting Illegal War. In direct violation of Articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter, a treaty ratified by the United States Senate in 1945 and therefore the supreme law of the land as according to Article VI of the Constitution, George Walker Bush has advanced and executed a policy based on so-called pre-emptive or preventive war, whereby the United States of America claims the right to unilaterally assault, invade or occupy other nations without first engaging in collective measures with other member states of the United Nations or first gaining the prior assent of the United Nations Security Council, and whereas George Walker Bush did apply this doctrine by launching a war of aggression…

(4) Promoting Torture. In direct violation of…legal memoranda and alterations to regulations such as the Army Field Manual, to undermine the Federal Torture Statute; the Third Geneva Convention banning torture and abuse of Prisoners of War, as well as non-combatants and unarmed ("enemy") combatants held in detention; and…the Fourth Geneva Convention, which expressly prohibit not merely torture but physical abuse of any kind being inflicted upon…"those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals," this language being written as a precaution against and in anticipation of alternate definitions of torture, these declarations and treaties being ratified by the United States Senate and therefore the supreme law of the land as according to Article VI of the Constitution, George Walker Bush, as President of the United States of America, has condoned and presided over a vast expansion of the use of torture against unarmed combatants and civilian non-combatants, both foreign and domestic, detained or kidnapped by forces or agents of the United States… By signing a legal memorandum on February 7, 2002 (declassified on June 17, 2004), in which he wrote that "The war on terror ushers in a new paradigm," one which requires "new thinking in the law of war," and decreeing that, contrary to all past military practices of an official nature, the United States would no longer be constrained by the laws of war presently in force in its treatment of those captured during its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and subsequently detained, a legal opinion which the Supreme Court struck down on June 29, 2006 (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld) by its ruling that the Third Geneva Convention did apply to detainees in the custody of the United States, George Walker Bush, President of the United States, by his concerted efforts to undermine any legal limits on the use of torture by United States personnel, did commit and was guilty of high crimes against the United States of America.

(5) Promoting Kidnappings and Renditions for Illegal Torture. In direct violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture… which states that "No State party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture," and the Fourth Geneva Convention…the said conventions having been ratified by the United States Senate and therefore the supreme law of the land as according to Article VI of the Constitution, George Walker Bush, as President of the United States of America, did sign, on September 17, 2001, an executive order (still classified) granting unilateral authority to the Central Intelligence Agency to render detainees to countries where torture is routinely practiced for the express purpose of interrogation, thereby subverting an established program of rendering detainees to justice by bringing them to the United States or to a country in which they were wanted to face criminal charges in a court of law. And whereas the Central Intelligence Agency did thereafter carry out this order not only by rendering hundreds of detainees to countries where they were subsequently tortured, but also in many cases first illegally kidnapping the detainees, and did subsequently establish secret detention centers, operating outside any known laws, for the express purpose of circumventing all legal protections to which the said detainees were entitled under international law.

(6) Use of Illegal Weapons. In violation of multiple and diverse tenets of international law, George Walker Bush, as President of the United States, has authorized or sanctioned the use of illegal weapons, including but not limited to the following:

(a) land mines, deployed by United States forces in Afghanistan and Iraq…which are…illegal under Geneva Conventions…which states that it is a war crime to launch "an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population in the knowledge that such an attack will cause an excessive loss of life or injury to civilians…"

(b) cluster bombs, including those which upon explosion project lethal plastic fragments not detectable by X-ray, deployed by United States forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, which leave unexploded ordnance known to maim and kill innocent civilians and which are therefore also illegal under Geneva Conventions…which bans "the use of any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays…"

(c) depleted uranium munitions, being radiological weapons used extensively by United States Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, in violation of Geneva Conventions…which prohibit the use of "projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering" or weapons "which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment" or damage to "the health or survival of the population," and which have been classified as "weapons of mass destruction" by the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities;

(d) napalm, a weapon widely used in Vietnam, an upgraded kerosene-based version of which has more recently been used by United States forces in Iraq…in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention…which expressly prohibits "Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties" of the device when used as a weapon;

(e) white phosphorous, which Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Venable confirmed on November 15, 2005 was deployed "as an incendiary weapon" in urban areas of Fallujah, Iraq, where there were high concentrations of civilians…making the said deployment of white phosphorous a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention…

(f) BLU-82B/C-130 "daisy cutter" bombs, being massive incendiary bombs deployed by United States forces in Afghanistan, and which upon detonation create a firestorm the size of five football fields or greater, and a vacuum pressure capable of collapsing internal organs, in violation of Geneva Conventions…which expressly forbid such indiscriminate destruction of civilian life and the environment;


…George Walker Bush, in his conduct while President of the United States, has consistently demonstrated disregard for (the oath of the office of the Presidency)…by obstructing and hindering the work of investigative bodies, by seeking to expand the scope of the powers of his office, by failing to ensure a swift response to a natural disaster where lives were in the balance, and by failing to appoint competent officials or to hold those whom he appoints or those to whom the government grants contracts accountable in cases of dereliction of duty, abuse and outright fraud.

(1) Obstructing Inquiry and Detection. In an effort to conceal…high crimes and misdemeanors…George Walker Bush, in his conduct as President of the United States of America, has presided over…an administration which actively interferes with the free flow of information by manipulating the press and frustrating its ability to provide an oversight function by being actively hostile to questioning from the press, by placing imposters posing as agents of the press at press conferences, by threatening reporters with prosecution under espionage laws, and by purchasing television segments and placing newspaper stories falsely posing as unbiased reporting in an effort to promote Administration policies… This Administration has also refused to provide key information to Congressional investigations, and to prosecutors investigating the outing of a Central Intelligence Agency Officer in an apparent act of retribution, or to actively pursue the identity of the guilty informant, despite the President's public pledge to fire the guilty party once discovered, and even after one Administration official was charged in the case with obstruction of justice. George Walker Bush has abused his office by consistently invoking executive privilege in order to shelter his office and his appointees from both Congressional oversight and judicial accountability.

(2) Replacing the Veto with Signing Statements. By declining to veto even one bill, and instead attaching signing statements challenging hundreds of laws passed by Congress, thereby seeking to exempt the executive branch from accountability to said laws…
George Walker Bush has subverted the very nature of his office by seeking to add to his office extraordinary and unconstitutional powers and privileges.


…George Walker Bush, in his conduct while President of the United States has…demonstrated a pattern of disregard or contempt for the Constitution itself, as he clearly demonstrated in November 2005 when he shouted at a group of Republican lawmakers, "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a [expletive] piece of paper!"

This conduct has included one or more of the following:

(1) Suspension of Due Process. In direct dereliction of his duty to defend the Constitution, George Walker Bush has systematically deprived citizens and residents of the United States of their constitutional rights to due process under the law, by sanctioning or ordering, at the discretion of the executive, their detention without charge and without trial, a fundamental right to which they are entitled under habeas corpus and the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights; by denying the right to a fair and speedy trial and blocking access to counsel for the defense, both of which are rights guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment in the Bill of Rights; by denying those so illegally detained the opportunity to appear before a judicial officer that they might challenge the legal grounds of their detention; by sanctioning and ordering mass arrests and detentions which inevitably involve all of the above named abuses; and by refusing to disclose the identities and locations of those detained.

(2) Unreasonable Searches and Seizures. In violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, George Walker Bush did clandestinely direct the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct electronic surveillance, including a new form of spying using sophisticated software to track internet usage, of citizens of the United States on U.S. soil without seeking to obtain, before or after, a judicial warrant, including spying on groups and individuals who had committed no illegal acts, involving penetration, entrapment and provocation…

(3) Non-Cooperation with Congress. In derogation of the legislative functions of the Congress, granted under…the Constitution, and the implied power to see that the laws made by Congress are faithfully executed, George Walker Bush, in his conduct as President of the United States, has engaged in a consistent pattern of obstructing and frustrating Congressional investigations. George Walker Bush opposed and delayed the formation of a commission to investigate the attacks of September 11, 2001, and once it was formed, refused to turn over key documents and information in compliance with subpoenas, and also sought and gained exemption from testifying under oath for all but one top administration official (Condoleezza Rice). He refused requests from the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina and requests from the 9/11 Commission to turn over key documents and information. Under his administration the Justice Department made it official policy to refuse cooperation with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, to refuse the release of records or testimony, central to informing government decisions, to re-classify previously unclassified records and to withhold even non-secret documents. These actions severely restrict the ability of the people and their representatives in Congress seeking to hold government officials accountable for their decisions to have access to a record of how official decisions were reached, or even to know what the official polices are. Wherefore, George Walker Bush, by obstructing the work of the Congress, did commit and was guilty of high misdemeanors against the United States of America.

In direct dereliction of his duty to defend the Constitution, George Walker Bush has, during his tenure as President of the United States of America, sanctioned the establishment of a parallel legal system operating outside the scope of the Constitution under which the participants would not be bound by due process or basic rights of the accused to speedy and fair trials, access to counsel, or even the right to know the charges and evidence against them, by replacing these measures with a new form of law involving: secret and indefinite detention without trial or hearing; renditions to other countries outside the reach of law and justice; the use of military tribunals to replace civilian courts; detentions outside normal writ of habeas rules and without access to effective counsel, unmonitored conversations or judicial attention and review; exclusion of the accused from portions of the trial and from access to evidence used against them; acceptance of hearsay, including testimony gained under torture or duress; and a lack of independent judiciary or appeal of conviction. An unknown number of individuals, many of whose names the Administration has refused to release, have already been held in undisclosed locations or secret prisons, and mass arrests have been accompanied by deportations. By failing to conduct timely status review hearings, as required under Article 5 of the Geneva Convention, the Bush Administration has made it effectively impossible to determine the status and the rights of those held in secret detention. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that the denial of rights under the Geneva Accords is illegal [Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld], new proposals from the Bush Administration expand the definition of those who can be detained as "enemy combatants" as no longer limited to aliens abroad, and assert that neither the Uniform Code of Military Justice alone, nor federal criminal procedures will guide the functions of these new courts. George Walker Bush, as President of the United States of America, in defiance the Supreme Court, and in keeping with a pattern of conduct seeking to exempt himself from its rulings and from constitutional law, did commit violations of domestic law and was guilty of war crimes.

In all of this, George Walker Bush has sought to arrogate unprecedented power to his executive office and to undermine the system of checks and balances established by the Founders, by using war and national emergency as the basis for his claims in support of a unitary presidency.

With all the evidence spelled out so clearly and in such great detail…with public support of impeachment clearly available to the members of Congress…what exactly will it take for someone – anyone – in a position of congressional authority to formally and effectively file articles of impeachment against the president and members of his administration, all of whom are unquestionably as guilty as he in carrying out both war crimes and failure to act according to the responsibilities the president took an oath to uphold when he was sworn in?

Why is no one in the media pressing the question of impeachment amongst the Washington politicians whose activities are supposed to be under constant investigation by the media in general?

Our federal officeholders are abusing their positions. The media as a whole are not performing the basic functions of their positions.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, while admittedly not specifically covering a story they thought could possibly lead to impeachment, criminal charges, and ultimately the resignation of the President of the United States, had a hell of a lot less to work with at the time than is available now.

So why has a serious movement to file Articles of Impeachment not taken place to this point? That it hasn’t is a despicable dereliction of duty on the part of all groups involved. It’s not that I have a partisan beef to rail about here. I’m just completely ashamed by the utter lack of dedication to the democratic principles we all have a duty to police.

The evidence is overwhelming; the crimes unquestionable.

Impeach! NOW!!

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my purpose, I hope

...There was nothing he could do to change the world around him. He could only defy it and hope his defiance lessened the collective desire to brutalize those who are different.

From, "Thick"
by Akhim Yeseff Cabey
February 2007 issue of The Sun


Saturday, February 10, 2007

good debates - part one

A couple weeks ago, I made the mistake of focusing on actually working while I was at work and missed an absolutely killer debate on...well, lots of things, but mainly Christianity on the Observer's Unfair Park blog site. I rushed to put together my two cents in response/contribution, but ultimately decided I'd just missed the boat. No sense in beating a dead horse just to purge more anti-religion rhetoric from my own personal storage. But I will say that it was a fascinating read, that my friend Bill did his faith proud and that, along with Jeff Liles and a couple other folks, really made great, articulate points that needed to be made by all folks involved. Especially in response to what was a pretty stupid post that started the whole thing by "bible girl." As much as I wish I could have fired off my shots, it was still a terrific dialogue. Which may still be going on...I haven't checked. And I don't even like debates, honestly. Not a fan of confrontation, for the most part. But I highly recommend you click the above link and check it out when you have a chance.

I also wanted to post a link to another great religion debate. It's an ongoing, online exchange between atheist-extraordinaire (though occasionally intolerant) Sam Harris and Conservative Soul author Andrew Sullivan. I've enjoyed reading it thus far because it's a thoughtful, constructive and revealing look at the differences - and the similarities - between these two great minds. It's polite, funny, personal, moving, and a fairly fearless, mostly open-minded exchange. As with most debates, no one will ever win or lose. But it's cool to be able to follow along as it unfolds. You can read it here, if you're so inclined...


Friday, February 09, 2007

they’re trying to build a prison...

Following the rights movements
You clamped on with your iron fists,
Drugs became conveniently
Available for all the kids.

Minor drug offenders fill your prisons,
You don’t even flinch…
All our taxes paying for your wars
Against the new non-rich.

They’re trying to build a prison…for you and me to live in.

The above was published by the smart guys in System of a Down just prior to September 11, 2001. Chuck D has been saying more or less the same thing since the mid-80s. Why is it only now starting to make sense to me…?

Seriously, is there anyone who still feels privatization of what should be government functions is a good idea? We have hundreds of thousands of weekend warriors running around Iraq right now functioning either as security or soldiers, and more contracted civilians over there attempting to deliver things to and from the other contractors. Then comes news that private firms are taking on roles in “intelligence” (gathering, securing, reporting on, storing) – and how fucking scary is that? And, because they’re not actual government operations, they can do so without any regulation or oversight…just pay them, let them do what they claim they can, and deal with any problems later. Works brilliantly, right? Just like at Abu Graib. Just like Guantanamo Bay. Just like the illegal ties they’re now discovering between CIA staff members and certain contracted companies. And, of course, there’s nothing fishy at all about the corporate ties between all the groups that are “awarded” these jobs and any of the members of the current administration…the neo-cons don’t get any financial benefit from this sort of thing, right? Halliburton/KBR…? Anyone…?

My previous – completely unrelated – post mentioned something about a “cancer of corruption” and “the institutionalized looting of national wealth.” Completely unrelated, right? Does anyone notice a pattern? Perhaps some sort of connection between the increasing business and/or profits for shadowy “global” corporations with probable conflicts of interest (direct and indirect ties to our federal government) and the increasing erosion/abuse of civil rights both within and outside U.S. borders, and the increasing lack of accountability with regard to honoring international law…?

Well, apparently, the system of privatizing anything that might be considered sensitive or might need to be overseen by international law is working so well that we’re taking “Gitmo” on the road. Or bringing it back home, as the case may be…

The Bush administration's penchant for privatizing virtually all government operations has combined with the current furor over border security to create another perfect storm - this time for suspected illegal immigrants.

These thousands of people held in detention under the aegis of the US Department of Homeland Security - increasingly in privately-owned jails - are failing to receive timely medical treatment and adequate food, being subjected to frequent sexual harassment, and having their access to lawyers, relatives and immigration authorities improperly limited.

You can read the rest of the article – along with a second, more personal story – by following the jump. And then let me know at what point it’s okay for me to throw my hands up and fucking scream…

Home-Grown Gitmo

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

“We’ve got to get what we can now, now.”

The other day, I posted a little something on Boca Tinta about a nifty article in the February issue of National Geographic about the Big Bend National Park area. It’s not atypical, though, for the magazine to follow up an uplifting article about the environment and/or good public works programs to protect it (in this case from Mexico…not America, of course). So I should have seen what was coming when I finished the Big Bend piece…

The magazine’s next article is one of the most disturbing and depressing yet with regard to greed and the tendency of the obscenely rich to make themselves even more obscenely rich at the expense of the obscenely impoverished. It examines current conditions in Nigeria and, more specifically, the Niger River Delta region, where the same oil companies we all know and love move in like locusts to extract what they need - with no consideration for the environment or the people who live there - then move on with the same reckless and greedy agenda to the next area. The pictures speak volumes about what’s being done there and, not surprisingly, an increasingly violent movement by the locals to benefit from what, geographically speaking, is rightfully theirs. One picture of the Niger Delta looks uncomfortably like the current state of the Mississippi River Delta here in the U.S. And that’s no coincidence. You can see much of the article here…

Curse of the Black Gold - Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta

Among the many facts and quotations that caught my eye…a reference to a report by “an International Crisis Group” and what it calls “’a cancer of corruption.’ A Western diplomat quoted in the report was even more direct, referring to ‘the institutionalized looting of national wealth.’” As in the U.S., while the world’s mega-energy companies – Dutch Royal Shell, France’s Total, and, of course, our own Exxon/Mobil and Chevron/Texaco – have what amounts to free reign to loot whatever lands they choose regardless of any environmental concerns (and it’s an absolute orgy of land-rape in the less powerful areas of the world, as you might imagine), they usually require some level of cooperation from the governments whose lands are being pillaged; the “cooperation” coming in the form of the rich (government) officials receiving handsome financial benefits that are rarely shared with the peoples they govern. I’m hard-pressed to think of any impoverished nation anywhere in the world where the root cause of the poverty is anything other than simple, insidious greed and corruption. The folks running the oil companies are well beyond being aware of this…they count on it. They are vultures with no competing predators and a seemingly endless supply of dying lands and peoples on which to gorge themselves.

If you think this sort of thing only happens in “poor” countries, think again. The people of New Orleans know first-hand what can happen when energy companies destroy natural ecosystems in the process of doing their business; the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta region are scarred to the point of obsolescence, at least with regard to serving as a protective barrier for the populated inland areas. And while Nigeria isn’t on the receiving end of mega-hurricanes, the industries (if you can call them that) that once existed before oil and natural gas were found to be in large quantities below the surface of the land – meaning, sadly, above the surface of the folks who call the area home – have been largely eradicated. Fishing, in particular, has become impossible because the wetlands have been destroyed and the waters polluted to horrific levels.

As I alluded to earlier, the “cancer of corruption” isn’t limited to folks abroad with more limited means than those of us in America. Please note the following article that confirms what virtually all of us already knew was going on during the latter half of 2006…

Exxon Record Profits Also Shows Company Took Less Profit in Run-Up to the Election

If you recall at the time, industry “experts” were doing their best to convince us all that the suddenly lowering prices of gasoline had nothing at all to do with the November elections…that the energy companies were only giving us the pricing they could based on international price demands beyond their control. Conservatives and liberals alike…we all knew it was bullshit. We just had no proof. Now we do. Now we know that the oil companies were simply cutting their margins…and were still able to profit at what should be illegal levels. Dig this quote from the article…

(The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights) noted that, despite the temporary and limited relief of election season pump prices, the record annual profits of Exxon and Shell show once again that last summer motorists were the victims of one of the greatest rip-offs of all time when gasoline prices topped $3 per gallon. The industry has long claimed that gasoline pump prices are attributable to external factors such as the price of crude oil, but today's profit data make it clear that high gasoline prices are directly tied to oil company decisions.

"The proof in Exxon's profit report is that oil companies are robbing Americans blind and that the companies can have tremendous influence over gasoline prices at any time they want simply by taking a little less in profits," said FTCR President Jamie Court. "That's a very different portrait than the industry paints of being captive to global economic forces. Congress needs to hold hearings and ask company executives under oath about whether Exxon's sudden profit drop in the fourth quarter was based on a political motivation and subpoena company documents to determine the root of the change."

I guess the point of this post can actually be condensed into one very unpleasant statement. Which is that the mega-corporations of this world can, have and will turn any areas they so desire into Lagos, New Orleans, Kiev, the Caspian Sea region…all without the slightest concern for anything other than, “We’ve got to get what we can now, now.” That they can, have and will do so with the assistance of a system that allows for, if not encourages, the “institutionalized looting of national wealth.” Indeed, we need look no further than Washington for confirmation.

I don’t know if money is the root of all evil. But I do know greed is. And while I’m not a Christian, I also know that greed is the very concept of Satan incarnate. By my definition, we’ve elected Satan to the executive and legislative branches of our government. At what point do we decide to stop feeding the beast…?

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

they get by with a little help from their friends

Only in Texas...?

Who's Funding Global Warming

While we do seem to contribute more than our fair share of Appallingly Greedy Bastards With No Conscience Whatsoever - and TXU was more than eager to step to the front of the line after Enron imploded / got busted - greed must always have partners in crime in order to function. It's not surprising to see who those accomplices are. (Though, I will admit being a little surprised to also see who some of the accomplices were not.)

If TXU and our sleazebag governor get their way on this thing, I think I just might lose all faith in the notion that Texas has any functioning democratic principles left. Outside of lining the pockets of already rich people, this project serves no useful purpose on any level. Why must it be so flipping embarrassing to live in this state sometimes...?

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Darlin', don't you go and cut your hair..."

My good friend Shonda has more guts than I ever will. On March 24th, she's participating in a fairly creative fundraiser for children's cancer research. She tells the story better than I, so I'll quote from her MySpace blog about the event...

Shaving my...head

Click on the Find a Participant, put in my name, donate on my head, and on March 24, I'll be shaving off what little hair I have right now. This is all for children's cancer research and the shaving is in solidarity for all the kids who lose their hair during chemo.

You're invited to come out to Trinity Hall on March 24 to watch this spectacle and to make sure I don't weenie out.

A quick link to her participant's page:

And some info about the foundation and the good work they do:

Please donate to her (and their) cause if you can. Her head's worth at least a few bucks, I can assure you. And make plans to attend the proceedings as it should be plenty entertaining at the very least... rock.


"so's been good to know ya..."

(beisbol being too berry berry good to him…)

I’ve said this before and have always gotten sucked back in. When they changed from their awesome red uniforms to the crappy, bush-league blues they wear now…when they signed John Rocker…when they let Pudge Rodriguez get away…when they signed any number of total scumbags that came aboard during the awful John Hart era…

But this time, Rangers…I’m out. Done. Finito. Other than signing Barry Bonds, I don’t think you can get any lower than signing this asshole

So now I am officially a Twins fan. No going back. Done deal.

Fuck off, Texas. (Rangers, that is.) Oh, and speaking of Barry Bonds…I do hope you had the foresight to include some kind of contract clause like the one the Giants put together. Not that they should have re-signed him, either…