Archive for June, 2006

Tomorrow is Friday

About time man. Yeesh. I’m looking forward to it, I dunno about you, but it’s been a long week. Didn’t work too much, but I’m recovering from weeks of stress and busy-ness. It will be nice to chill out a bit.

Hope everyone out there has a great weekend.

Will bloggers change the world?

Good discussion over at PressThink.

I’m not usually one to blow smoke up bloggers’ collective ass, but Jay makes some good points. The future is an open vista technologically (you can guess what I think the future holds politically. Alas, Babylon comes to mind) and I just posted about how necessary it is to have a blog the other day. So why am I hesitant? ‘Cause I’d rather that Big Media didn’t know what’s coming. So why am I posting about this at all? Hmm…. good point. Because I can? Because I’m pretty positive no one from the NSA or the New York Times reads this blog? Pick your excuse.

Anyway, blogs aren’t even the most important thing. It’s the links between people that make us strong. If you are ever in trouble or you need to post something that the MSM won’t touch with a 30 foot pole, send it to me. I’m editorially irresponsible. I’ll publish any muthafuckin’ thing (and cuss about it, around it, during it, and after it). If there’s a story out there that needs more exposure, send it to me and a hundred other bloggers. Some of us will publish it and somebody will (hopefully) read about it. We just gotta look out for each other, the same way the rich, elitist upperclass looks after their own.

But let’s remember that we don’t have Big Media on the ropes. Far from it. So let’s not get too cocky, folks. Blogs are cool and they can change the world…but will they? Maybe when Grandma reads blogs instead of watching NBC. Until that day, we’re small potatoes.

I admit it; I am a total Iron Maiden fan. Ain’t nothin’ to be ashamed of though, as they totally fucking rock. And they still rule after all these years. Looking at the track list for the new album gave me shivers!

  • Different Worlds (Smith/Harris – 4.17)
  • These Colours Don’t Run (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 6.52)
  • Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 8.44)
  • The Pilgrim (Gers/Harris – 5.07)
  • The Longest Day (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 7.48)
  • Out Of the Shadows (Dickinson/Harris – 5.36)
  • The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg (Murray/Harris – 7.21)
  • For The Greater Good Of God (Harris – 9.24)
  • Lord Of Light (Smith/Harris/Dickinson – 7.23)
  • The Legacy (Gers/Harris – 9.20)

Fucking right! Up the Irons! Those song names sound really cool, and my God some of those songs are loooong! Gotta love epic Maiden songs; they usually rule. Nothing quite as long as Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is 13 and a half minutes long, but not bad none the less.

I’m stoked. I hope it’s a concept album. I can already see some themes emerging: Light and Darkness, Death and Rebirth, Time and Change….

Looks fucking great. I can’t wait. But it looks like I will have to wait until it’s released in September.

Maiden Rules!

Update 7-12-06: Here’s the album cover!

Crushing blow

Just got back from my softball game. We won, 18 to 8. It was a pretty solid game; I had a double with 3 RBIs. But on the first play of the game, a guy who was subbing for someone led off with a grounder to third base. Our guy scoops it and throws it to first where I try to catch it, but the throw is wide; way too far out of reach for me to catch. But it hits the runner with a sickening “thwack!” He went down after that and dropped to his knees. We all came running. He had taken a shot to the face, and the third basemen has a gun – it was thrown hard. He had a huge bruise on his left temple, right around the eye. It was swollen an inch off his face in a matter of seconds and it started to turn black. You could see the laces from the ball, etched on his forehead. It was fucked up.

He had to go to the hospital, but he should be okay. He called from the waiting room to check on the score. I’m glad he’s okay, but it was freaky as it happened. Not something you ever want to see in a game.

I didn’t even have a chance to blog about this (and probably blow a gasket in the process), but it seems the flag-burning amendment didn’t get the requisite 67 votes in the Senate. It got 66.

A constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration died in a cliffhanger vote in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, one week before Independence Day, one vote short of the support needed to send it to the states for ratification.

The 66-34 vote in favor of the amendment was a single vote short of the two-thirds required. The House surpassed that threshold last year, 286-130.

The proposed amendment, sponsored by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, read: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

It represented Congress’ response to U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 1989 and 1990 that burning and other desecrations of the flag are protected as free speech by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

I love this logic: Our idiotic, pandering law is unconstitutional, so we’d better change the Constitution!

Oh God, pry me away from the keyboard before I bleed from the sputtering rage that wells up every time I think of the fact that 66 United States Senators are so utterly corrupt that they thought it would be a good idea to take away real, actual freedom to protect an abstract symbol of freedom.

The flag is imaginary. Our freedom is (supposed to be) real!

Don’t worry. If you don’t understand, Bill Frist will help you figure it out:

“Countless men and women have died defending that flag,” said Repulican Majority Leader Bill Frist, closing two days of debate. “It is but a small humble act for us to defend it.”

NO, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!! They didn’t die to protect the flag, they died to protect freedom itself! Who gives a shit about the flag; it’s a piece of cloth, an abstract symbol of our liberty. But fascist fools like Frist would love to steal that freedom away by routing it somewhere else. In this case, they are trying to give a piece of colored cloth more rights than they would give to a human being.

IT’S AN INANIMATE OBJECT! Our constitutionally-protected freedoms are what’s important. The flag is not. We could burn a million flags and not lose one ounce of real freedom. But Frist would rather that we lose our First Amendment free speech rights in a futile attempt to protect a piece of cloth from supposed harm. Fuckwit.

But I don’t for a second think that these politicians are that stupid. They know exactly what they’re doing. I throw the word “fascist” around a lot on this blog. But this is one of those times when you can see that I’m not exaggerrating at all.

I tried not to get upset about this, but when I see such blatant, hideous, satanic idol-worship, I just get so fucking pissed off I could rip Frist’s jugular clean out and use it to wax my boat (if I had a boat).

Our nation is in deep shit. 66 senators just cast a vote for fascism. It passed the House like butter.

We are in deep shit.

God, please save our stupid nation. We are a nation of fascists and idiots, but there are some of us worth saving….Right?

Sorry for the alliterative headline (truly. I am ashamed), but Limbaugh was detained at an airport with some Viagra that was not prescribed to him. This might be a violation of his plea agreement:

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh was detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when customs officials found a Viagra prescription that did not bear his name. Instead, the bottle of pills had the names of two doctors on it according to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents examined the 55-year-old’s luggage after his private plane landed at the airport from the Dominican Republic. The matter was then turned over to the Sheriff’s Office. Investigators seized the drugs – used to treat erectile dysfunction – from Limbaugh.

Limbaugh was detained for about three hours and was let go after cooperating with officials. He could be facing a second-degree misdemeanor violation if the State Attorney’s office presses charges.

Limbaugh entered a plea deal back in April in a previous case where his charge of fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions was dropped under the condition he continue undergoing treatment for addiction.

Bad Rush! Going to the Dominican Republic to bang prostitutes deprives our hardworking American prostitutes of a fair shake. They can’t compare with those prices. Banging foreign prostitutes costs American jobs!

Oh wait, am I on the wrong scandal here? Er, I mean, … uhhh….. drugs are bad, mmkay? Naughty Limbaugh!

But, really, am I the only one wondering what he was doing with that bottle of Viagra in the Dominican Republic? It might be none of my business, but it sure is titillating. I wonder if the media will go after it like it so often does when they smell titillation.

I wonder if they like saying “titillate” as much as I do.

Vernon CA: We own this town! Get out!

Man, what a fucked up little town this Vernon, California is:

It began in January, when eight people took up residence in a boxy commercial building. Within days, three of the newcomers filed petitions to run for City Council, challenging incumbents who have been in office for up to 50 years.

Almost immediately, the challengers began to be followed by private investigators, and utility crews turned off their power. The building they shared was red-tagged by inspectors. Eventually, police and other officials drilled holes in the locks of the property and evicted the office-seekers.

The city accused the newcomers of being part of a takeover plot by Albert Robles, a convicted felon who as treasurer of nearby South Gate nearly bankrupted that city. The eight residents’ voter registrations were rescinded, and the incumbents voted to cancel the election and reelect themselves. But a judge ruled that officials had acted illegally and reinstated the election.

Since then, both sides have accused the other of misconduct. Vernon has fewer than 100 residents, but it has seen a 50% surge in its election rolls in recent weeks. Both sides accuse the other of bringing in ringers to vote in Tuesday’s election.

On election night, the city clerk abruptly decided not to count the ballots until various legal challenges were settled.

I’ve read some previous articles about Vernon (population: 91), and it sounds like something out of Dukes of Hazzard or something. The mayor, the whole city council, and all the city jobs in the town are controlled by a single family, the family that founded the town over a hundred years ago. This has led to rampant corruption as a mafia-style government grew up and began looking at outsiders as enemies. From it’s founding early last century the town has been a magnet for controversy and corruption:

Its founder, a charismatic Basque immigrant named John Baptiste Leonis, had seen the rapid development of land north and west of downtown Los Angeles. But he saw money to be made in the other direction, on land then held by Chinese and Mexican farmers.

The area had a dirt road running to Los Angeles Harbor and multiple rail lines. So, in 1905, Leonis and two local ranchers incorporated the “exclusively industrial” city, characterized as the first town west of the Mississippi devoted to manufacturing. This remains almost literally true: The city currently has fewer than 100 residents.

A powerful voice on the town’s Board of Trustees, Leonis initially promoted activities that other jurisdictions spurned: gambling, prizefighting and drinking. He leased land to a saloon owner who opened the “longest bar in the world.” On one side was a boxing stadium; on the other, a baseball stadium.

In the 1920s, thousands of workers began streaming in to work at new factories built by Bethlehem and U.S. Steel, Alcoa Aluminum and at the kill plants along Meat Packers Row.

Leonis was at the center of the financial action, operating the town bank, a large stockyard and a feed mill, and he was already drawing flak from critics who complained that he acted like the king of Vernon.

In 1925, The Times did its first front-page expose of Vernon. The paper quoted one foe as saying of Leonis: “In that town, you do not file papers at the City Hall. You simply hand them to John and he puts them in his pocket. If he is in favor of the proposition, it goes through; if he is opposed, that’s the last you hear of it.”

Two decades later, a county grand jury launched a wide-ranging corruption probe that led to Leonis, who by then had become mayor, and five other top officials being indicted on charges of voter fraud.

Prosecutors called Leonis a “boss” who ruled like a feudal lord. They also alleged that he lived not in Vernon but in a spacious home in Hancock Park. Charges against Leonis were dropped, but four other people were convicted, including the police and fire chiefs.

By the time Leonis died in 1953, he had amassed an estate reportedly worth $8 million. The inheritance went to his grandson, Leonis Malburg, who as a boy hunted doves with a BB gun at the family stockyards and took his first job as a messenger at his grandfather’s bank.

For the last 50 years, Malburg has served on the City Council of Vernon, frequently as mayor.

“Vernon is arguably the oldest continuous political machine in the country,” said Mike Davis, a professor of history at UC Irvine and author of several books about Southern California. “There is a continuity of power and rule in this private city that I’m not sure you’ll find anywhere else you go in the United States.”

This is really amazing. I’ve seen a lot of movies about “company towns” or towns utterly controlled by a corrupt mayor and they’ve stayed somewhere back in my subconscious all these years. Isn’t it nice to know that it’s based in reality? I suppose it’s comforting to know I was learning something.

At any rate, it’s not a huge deal nationally. It’s just a little podunk town with a shitty government and nothing to offer anybody. But I think it’s useful as a microcosm for corruption, and the nature of human greed. It seems to evolve naturally, almost inevitably. It grows to a certain size, but after a certain point it starts driving people away. Vernon used to be a lot larger than it is today. If you don’t buy into the oligarchy, then you’re gonna find life very tough in town. But look at what they rule over: a shitty old town with less than a hundred residents with no geographic or political significance (except corruption) to anyone. Does that bother the lords of the town? Not one bit. They’d rather be master of Vernon than a peasant in Los Angeles.

Looking at how these assholes fight over a shitty nothing-town like Vernon, you’ve gotta wonder about how desperately people crave the real power of Washington, D.C. The pigs fight over the tax-dollar-trough with an inhuman tenacity, and that should come as no surprise to any of us. It’s human nature, or so it seems.

I think it’s time to take a look at what we’ve learned about the human lust for power and remake our government in that image. We need additional controls in place to ensure that another crew like the Bush cabal never rises to power.

…Assuming we can ever manage to get rid of them. I imagine it’ll be something like running for mayor of Vernon.

Dear Leader, fresh from his daily manicure, his daily jog, his daily 3 hour prayer session, his leisurely breakfast and his daily rimjob, got off his ass to yell at the press for bothering to do their job (for once):

President Bush on Monday sharply condemned the disclosure of a program to secretly monitor the financial transactions of suspected terrorists. “The disclosure of this program is disgraceful,” he said.

“For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America,” Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. He said the disclosure of the program “makes it harder to win this war on terror.”

Meanwhile, hiding in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, a terrorist foot soldier for Al-Qaeda known as Habib al-Durka al-Alallalli had this to say about the financial records spying story: “Oh my Allah (peace be upon him)! I had no idea that the infidels were watching financial transactions within their own western banking institutions! What a shocker. I guess I will now have to be closing my Wells Fargo account. But what will I do about free checking? Oh, I hope this doesn’t affect my credit rating!”

Other terrorists were similarly concerned about the spying revelations. Several expressed concerns about whether their recent orders from The Pottery Barn were tracked. Remarked al-Alallalli, “Between this and the NSA’s internet datamining I am pretty sure the infidels know what kind of floral patterns I prefer, making it easy to distinguish my cave from Akbar the goat-herder’s. Curse the infidels and their irresistable deals on hand-sewn tufted cushions!!”

Bush wants line-item veto

The last thing we want to do is give this asshole more power!

Bush said a line-item veto would reduce the incentive for Congress to spend wastefully because lawmakers would be less likely to slip pet projects into large spending bills if they knew they could be held up to public scrutiny.

“A line-item veto would give the president a way to insist on greater discipline in the budget,” Bush said.

The measure must still pass the Senate, and that’s by no means a certainty.

Democrats generally oppose the measure. And not all Republicans are excited about the idea, although some embrace it as a way to demonstrate election-year resolve to rein in federal spending.

Lawmakers from both parties who have reservations about the line-item veto contend it shifts too much power to the president, allowing him to try to cut projects proposed by his political enemies, or to use the threat of cutting projects in exchange for favorable votes on legislation the White House desires.

Yeah, and I’m sure the White House would never think of using that power against political enemies or as a sort of tit-for-tat! Never! ‘Cause this administration is sooooo trustworthy! [/sarcasm]

Wasn’t this already declared unconstitutional anyway? I guess the neocons figure they’ve sufficiently packed the Supreme Court with fascist toadies to get away with this. They might be right, so let’s hope it doesn’t pass the Senate.

That’s basically what’s happening here. Specter is determined to please his masters (the neocons, not the American people you silly!) by retroactively making what they did legal:

But Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and other critics contend the program skirted a 1978 law that required the government to get approval from a secretive federal court before Americans could be monitored.

“We’re getting close with the discussions with the White House, I think, to having the wiretapping issue submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” Specter told “Fox New Sunday.”

What needs to be done? Looks like there’s some behind the scenes clean-up or cover-up going on here. Why not just submit it? Because it wouldn’t fly.

The administration has asserted that a post-Sept. 11, 2001, congressional resolution approving the use of military force covered the surveillance of some domestic communications.

Specter has said that the president “does not have a blank check” and he has sought to have administration ask the special court to review the program.

At least not until you write them one, right Arlen? Specter should be using his power as chairman to nail this administration’s balls to the wall, but instead he’s trying to play both sides and get them out of a serious constitutional jam.

Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King is saying that the New York Times should be prosecuted for daring to reveal the financial records spying program:

King, R-N.Y., said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the nation’s chief law enforcer “begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times— the reporters, the editors and the publisher.”

“We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,” King told The Associated Press.

No, treasonous is destroying Americans’ 4th amendment rights for some sort of secret spying program that wasn’t approved by the full Congress or by any federal court.

Persecuting the press for revealing abuses of power: Sounds exactly like fascism to me!

An Open Letter to Dick Cheney

Awww… poor Dick Cheney is offended.

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking at a political luncheon in Chicago, denounced the decision to reveal the existence of the financial monitoring program and the earlier-disclosed National Security Agency surveillance program.

“What I find most disturbing about these stories is that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people,” Cheney said. “That offends me.

You know what? Suck it, Dick. What offends me is illegal spying programs enacted unilaterally by the executive branch with little oversight from Congress and apparently no oversight from the courts. What the hell is going on here, Dick? I think you’ve got some serious explaining to do. We are ostensibly a democracy and as such you are expected to act in accordance with our principles such as liberty, freedom, government transparency and check and balances. You are ruling as if you and Bush were Kings or co-Emperors. This cannot continue.

We, the people, are very concerned with the way you’re running things, Dick. May I call you “dick”, Dick? First we find out you’re tapping our phones, then our internet, and now our financial transactions? Is there anything you haven’t tapped? I suppose you’ll be putting microphones in our houses and apartments next, right? We’ve gotta do whatever it takes to stop dem terr’rists, right? Even if we have to give away all our liberties and live in fear under the thumb of an oppressive government?


You hear me, Dick? NO!

I choose freedom. I choose liberty. I’ll take the risk, I accept the possibility of terrorists attacking me or my town. I still choose freedom. Statistically, you’re far more likely to die in a car accident than a terrorist attack. I still drive my car all the time. I choose freedom.

You never even asked us. You never even gave us a choice. You just started secretly taking our rights and liberties away. Well, that ends now. You should be impeached and then indicted for your crimes, Dick. You never even considered asking us whether we wanted to surrender those rights; you took them.

Your true colors are showing, Dick. We can see now that you are a fascist. If not in philosophy then certainly in action, you are a fascist and it’s time for you to resign because you are clearly not fit to be vice president of the United States.

You may have thought you were doing the best thing for us, you may have assumed that we would want to lose our privacy and our liberty in exchange for an empty promise of safety. That’s irrelevant. You were wrong, and you didn’t err on the side of liberty. You erred on the side of expediency and dictatorship. We don’t live in a dictatorship, Dick. You of all people should know that. But we will if you continue to be so stubborn and aggressive. It’s time to resign, Dick.

It’s time to face the music: Resign and apologize.

Perfect Porridge blogger Greg has finally cracked the spine of the beast. Sony ponied up the tracks and a settlement check!

UPDATE #2 (6/22): Would you believe we got 28,000 hits on this post yesterday? That’s a lot of people reading/talking/blogging about Sony and their incompetence. Would you believe that as a result, Sony somehow got their act together to e-mail iTunes settlement codes AND a settlement check the next day? Guess it only took 232 days of persistence and a blog swarm of 8,500 unique user hits to get them moving. Thanks Sony!

This is why everyone needs a blog, people! Do you want a voice? Because without a blog you don’t really have one (unless you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company). You can bitch and whine all you want, but without the power of the internet, not many people are going to hear you.

When it’s time to take a stand will you be armed with a megaphone or a ballgag?