It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves

Ernest Hemingway was to me, a kind of paleo-minimalist writer. Because of the shifting tides of taste and cultural politics he seems to go in and out of style. When I was in college in one of those literture survey classes we were required to read Hills Like White Elephants. If you like deciphering metaphors it can in its way be a detective story. Its beyond my reach to capture a moment like Heminway did in that story. That moment, so small, yet so important where one’s life changes forever. There is no going back, some things cannot be undone.
Since I liked Hills I read A Clean, Well Lighted-Place. It takes place in a cafe. Its not just a physical place , but a mood. In a cafe or diner you can be the iconoclast American, the free thinker, but at the same time you’re sharing time with others. In Hemingway’s story the old man isn’t physically traveling, in fact he’s near the end of his journey in contrast to the young waiter who is at the beginning of his. The full text is here, click on the red title.
“Another,” said the old man.

“No. Finished.” The waiter wiped the edge of the table with a towel and shook his head.

The old man stood up, slowly counted the saucers, took a leather coin purse from his pocket and paid for the drinks, leaving half a peseta tip.

The waiter watched him go down the street, a very old man walking unsteadily but with dignity,.

“Why didn’t you let him stay and drink?” the unhurried waiter asked. They were putting up the shutters. “It is not half-past two.”

“I want to go home to bed.”

“What is an hour?”

“More to me than to him.”

“An hour is the same.”

“You talk like an old man yourself. He can buy a bottle and drink at home.”

“It’s not the same.”

“No, it is not,” agreed the waiter with a wife. He did not wish to be unjust. He was only in a hurry.

“And you? You have no fear of going home before your usual hour?”

“Are you trying to insult me?”

“No, hombre, only to make a joke.”

“No,” the waiter who was in a hurry said, rising from putting on the metal shutters. “I have confidence. I am all confidence.”

“You have youth, confidence, and a job,” the older waiter said. “You have everything.”

“And what do you lack?”

“Everything but work.”

“You have everything I have.”

“No. I have never had confidence and l’m not young.”

“Come on. Stop talking nonsense and lock up.”

“I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe,” the older waiter said.
“With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night.”

“I want to go home and into bed.”

“We are of two different kinds,” the older waiter said. He was now dressed to go home. “It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe.”

“Hombre, there are bodegas open all night long.”

“You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.”

from New Partisan Ali’s Nose

If she only had a sense of smell, Alison Bernstein has told friends, she would be perfect. But as it is, she wanders the world cut off from the sensations and signals that guide those around her. She can’t identify her boyfriend by the smell left on his shirts. When she passes the Nuts4Nuts vendor, and friends exclaim over the delightful aroma, she can only nod and smile.

Daily Kos on how some Republicans are like Al-Queda, So You Want to Play Hardball Eh?

Should the President be King? Reflections from the Deep Origins of America

When he wrote the Constitution in 1789, James Madison had a specific goal in mind: to create a system of government that would constrain the tyrannous behavior of an unaccountable executive. Only in this way, Madison knew, would the “blessings of liberty” be able to flourish and grow in the new United States.

Peanut Butter and Jelly a grave and gathering threat to America

The Other Big BrotherThe Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far.

Jan. 30, 2006 issue – The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation’s supposed “war profiteering.” The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. The idea, according to organizer Scott Parkin, was to call attention to allegations that the company was overcharging on a food contract for troops in Iraq. “It was tongue-in-street political theater,” Parkin says.

But that’s not how the Pentagon saw it. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security.

There is little doubt except maybe on the extreme extreme left and the some on the John Bircher right that we need to gather intelligence and use electronic surveillance as a tool. With proper oversite from Congress and the FISA courts there is little call for paranoia, but without proper and ethical oversite its obvious at this point to abuse those surveillance activities to the point of absurdity. Even someone that thinks Halliburton is God’s gift to corporate America and the protesters are all looney should see how we’ve approached the point where the doctor has been bound and gagged and the inmates are running the asylum.

Halliburton Cited in Iraq Contamination

“We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated,” said a July 15, 2005, memo written by William Granger, the official for Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary who was in charge of water quality in Iraq and Kuwait.

“The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River,” Granger wrote in one of several documents. The Associated Press obtained the documents from Senate Democrats who are holding a public inquiry into the allegations Monday.

Maybe, just maybe Halliburton and its corporate executives lack of ethics is a bigger threat then a few protesters handing out sandwiches.

I’m not–we’re talking about unchecked aggression here–

Congradulations to George and the supporters of Bushonomics, BUSH ADMINISTRATION BREAKS RECORD
Administration Borrows more from Foreign Nations than Previous 42 Presidents Combined

Hat Tip to Angry Bear

It seems to me that the Democrats’ play is obvious: point out that the Republicans have been stealing from the defense budget, using the Iraq adventure as a partisan piggy-bank and employment service, and otherwise sacrificing national security for corrupt partisan advantage. Repeat after me: “The price of Duke Cunningham’s Rolls-Royce would have bought a lot of body armor for the troops.”

and while we’re on the subject of body armor, Point Blank War Profits

“I’ve told many family I’ve met with, ‘We’re doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones.’”

— George W. Bush, December 2004

The history of the Point Blank Interceptor OTV body armor vest and the company that manufactures it is a shameful tale of the state of war profiteering in the Rumsfeld age.

The Interceptor OTV is the body armor jacket recently revealed by Defense Watch to have been identified by a U.S. Marine Corps forensics report as being responsible for the deaths of “as many as 42 percent of Marines who died from isolated torso injuries.” The Point Blank vest is not only inferior in design–it leaves the shoulders and upper arms unprotected–it was fielded despite that fact that it did not pass tests of its designed capabilities.

The military to the far right is is just a tool to exploit. Note the lengthening list of vets that have been beneficiaries of the Swiftboat treatment: John McCain, John Kerry, Paul Hackett, John Murtha, Ted Kennedy, and Max Cleland.

This ugly Republican attack machine does not speak for the heartland of America; it is attacking the heart of America. Their war against Vietnam veterans is a war against America. They see what they believe is a soft spot in America, veterans of the Vietnam war, and they are attacking.

Let’s remember these are the very same people who do not like the American working class, those struggling to make ends meet today. And they do not care about their children who suffer from the wounds of war–just look how Republicans in Congress are attempting to cut the VA budget during this war as they give tax cuts to the wealthy. The war on Vietnam veterans is an extension of this Republican class war, a branch of the Republican war against working Americans. Not only do these Republicans not represent the heartland of America; they don’t represent anything about this country.

It wasn’t a good idea fourty years ago for the pod-patriots to make military service a litmus test for either patriotism or moral authority, but they did and it has certainly come back to haunt them. The fact is that most Americans will never serve in the military so by verbally caning those that have, many at great sacrifice, the veteran bashers make their claims to moral superiority highly questionable. The endless hyperbole by the right-wing-pod-people frequently includes fantasies of bizarre ritual killings of their political foes. John Murtha proposed that we redeploy our troops sooner rather then later, to read the right-wing-pod-people you would think Representative Murtha had committed some terrible crime for which hanging was not good enough. They couldn’t say that they disagree and here’s the whys’ and hows’. The whole of discourse has become theatre and the nutty-pod-people the players:

But the lingering spectre of Bin Laden remains valuable to the Bush administration as an apocalyptic scarecrow to hold over the country to justify increased domestic surveillance, the renewal of the Patriot Act, etc., and for the Swift Boaters in the media and blogland dumping their refuse into the already polluted waters.
[ ] Michael Moore didn’t bring down the towers, Howard Dean isn’t responsible for Bin Laden remaining at large, and, unlike the fisking blogger, the overwhelming majority of liberal Manhattanites didn’t lose their nerve and flee the city after 9/11. They, we, stayed put. It’s the cowardly lions who curled up into a fetal ball and remain there today, talking tough and fooling no one but themselves.

How to Foil Search Engine Snoops

Mass Spying Means Gross Errors

Recent government surveillance programs demonstrate our increased capacity for mass surveillance. For example, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, requires phone companies to build mass surveillance capabilities into their networks. Privacy advocate Phil Zimmerman has pointed out that through CALEA the FBI requested technological surveillance capabilities far beyond the capacity of the judicial system to approve warrants or the FBI to monitor. This suggests that law enforcement plans to automate or computerize the monitoring process — probably by deploying voice-recognition technology to look for “hits” that could be followed up on with human-monitored wiretaps.

Proposals to install face-recognition technology at airports and public gatherings, to data-mine collections of government and commercial databases, and to profile airline passengers are feasible only with modern technology.

What tied the room together, Dude?

Were you listening to the story,


Were you listening to the Dude’s

I was bowling–

So you have no frame of reference,
Donny. You’re like a child who
wanders in in the middle of a movie
and wants to know–

What’s your point, Walter?

There’s no fucking reason–here’s my
point, Dude–there’s no fucking reason–

Yeah Walter, what’s your point?


What’s the point of–we all know who
was at fault, so what the fuck are
you talking about?

Huh? No! What the fuck are you
talking–I’m not--we’re talking about
unchecked aggression here–

What the fuck is he talking about?

from the screenplay THE BIG LEBOWSKI by
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

you know one cannot be bled or have a clyster without money

Have conservatives, instead of embracing what many consider Judeo-Christian values actually embraced Roman mythical virtrues such as militarism, a cartoonish ideal of masculinity, and the annihilism of perpetual war as virtues ( much like Bin Laden and followers have), rather then the values of the humility, tolerance, and peace. I’m not saying they have succeeded, but haven’t the so-called thinkers of conservatism placed a kind of cerebral detachment in place where justice, passion for life, and perspective should be. As recently as yesterday I read the plea to never forget what they did to us on 9-11. The writer is obviously still alive, the us in fact includes non-americans, non-conservatives, and non-christians. America as a nation will never forget 9–11, but one can’t help but wonder if in the mind of the neocon or Bush conservative the day will ever be reached on which it can be said that now the score is even. Will the far Right shed their arrogance and acknowledge that 9-11 isn’t something that just happened to them.That while I think revenge has its place, didn’t someone once say that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Has the fever and fear of the Far Right in fact turned 9-11 and Bin Laden into a propaganda tool, a verbal weapon with which it continues to use to deflect any criticism of its actions or policies. Democracy & Peace

“It’s hard for some in our country to connect the rise of democracy with peace,” Bush said in Louisville. “History has proven that democracies yield the peace.”

But again – while it may be nice to think of democracies as inherently peaceful – the historical reality is often quite different.

Even in ancient times, democracies often were the instigators of war. Democratic Athens broke the Peace of Nicias in 418 B.C. by attacking undemocratic Sparta. The Roman Republic waged war on its neighbors for centuries before it became an empire.

Even in American history, the democratic government of the United States has waged war against Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans and even against other Americans in the Civil War. In modern times, the United States also has gone to war without direct provocation, most notably in Vietnam in the 1960s and in Iraq now. (my note-I think it can be argued that early on there was reason to believe that it was right for Kennedy to show an American presense in Vietnam. With China’s support communism was spreading at an alarming rate in Asia. That Johnson and Nixon bungled things is another story.)

European democracies have a similarly spotty record. Great Britain fought to maintain its empire even after the monarchy had given way to democratic institutions. The same was true for France, which fought colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria in the years after World War II.

In Germany, Adolf Hitler exploited opportunities created by democracy in his rise to power, as his nationalist socialism resonated with voters suffering economic deprivation and harboring anti-Semitic prejudices. After winning the largest number of seats in parliament, Hitler engineered his fateful appointment as chancellor in 1933.

Before 9-11 Bush’s approval ratings lanquished in the fourties, yet Bush had close to an 80% approval rating just after 9-11, the nation was willing to put aside partisan politics and show national unity in the face of adversity. Bush had about the same high level of support to persue those responsible for 9-11 into Afghanistan. Well over 10,000 citizens of Afghanistan have been killed, over 30,000 Iraqi men, women, and children and the man who is responsible for 9-11 has released a new tape. He’s able to release that tape because after three years he’s still free. What is the reaction to this humilating failure of our Bunnypants-in-chief, its all Michael Moore’s fault:

“You’d think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn’t have to hear this barbarian’s voice on tape. That’s what we should be talking about in America.” — John Kerry

If Bush held up a big green frog and called it a puppy everyone would think what a loon we have for a president, yet Bush has done just that. Everytime Bush says Iraq is the front in the war on terror he’s either in deep mental straights or he really doesn’t have a clue what to do about terrorists who have no real state/nation. Imagine if the FBI went after serial killers in the same unfocused way that Bush has gone after Bin Laden. If anyone is weak on terrorism, its George Bush.

The war in Iraq is a major distraction from the fight against terrorism. As the report issued by the Army War College states, “In conflating Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Osama bin-Laden’s al-Qaeda, the administration unnecessarily expanded the GWOT (Global War on Terror) by launching a preventive war against a state that was not at war with the United States and that posed no direct or imminent threat to the United States at the expense of continued attention and effort to protect the United States from a terrorist organization with which the United States was at war.”

To not a few people the latest attempts by the Bunnypants administartion to exploit 9-11, terrorism, and fear to extend its power from presidential to king is just another con in a lengthening list of incompetent and inept attempts to rule rather then govern. I covered some of this territory yesterday, but as usual Glenn Greenwald offers more legal detail more eloquently then I am able to…. The Justice Department tries again

The need to defend George Bush’s law-breaking has put the DoJ in the position where it can defend him only by expressly advocating a theory of presidential power that really does bring us to the John Yoo vision of a President who – even in times of a permanent and undeclared war, and even against American citizens – can exert unlimited and unchecked powers (“Neither statute . . . can place any limits on the President’s determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make.”)

That’s no longer the Yoo theory. It now describes the expressly claimed power of the Bush Administration. It is difficult to overstate how radical and consequential this development is.

and remember Al Gore’s recent speech:

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is “yes” then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can’t he do?

I guess I’m what’s come to be known recently as a Patrick Henry Democrat, give me less security and more freedom. Frankly, political correctness aside, a raghead fundamentalist nutcase like Bin Laden is hardly a threat to my freedom. The only treal threat to my freedom is in the Whitehouse and his sheep-like supporters.

The culture of corruption is growing like spores in a petri dish, Insider Trading in Frist and Delay’s Office: Story Growing

Tom Chambers Art Montages, worth a look especially for the growing legions of Photoshop amateurs.

Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story in comic book form. Very well done.

Combat veterans Sean Huze, Paul Rieckhoff and Jimmy Massey discuss the truth — and the lies — about the war in Iraq.

. . . . . . . . . . .

“O sage Pangloss,” cried Candide, “what a strange genealogy is this! Is not the devil the root of it?” “Not at all,” replied the great man, “it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not caught in an island in America this disease, which contaminates the source of generation, and frequently impedes propagation itself, and is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have had neither chocolate nor cochineal. It is also to be observed, that, even to the present time, in this continent of ours, this malady, like our religious controversies, is peculiar to ourselves. The Turks, the Indians, the Persians, the Chinese, the Siamese, and the Japanese are entirely unacquainted with it; but there is a sufficing reason for them to know it in a few centuries. In the meantime, it is making prodigious havoc among us, especially in those armies composed of well-disciplined hirelings, who determine the fate of nations; for we may safely affirm, that, when an army of thirty thousand men engages another equal in size, there are about twenty thousand infected with syphilis on each side.”

“Very surprising, indeed,” said Candide, “but you must get cured. “Lord help me, how can I?” said Pangloss; “my dear friend, I have not a penny in the world; and you know one cannot be bled or have a clyster without money.”

from Candide by VOLTAIRE

there is a twilight when everything seems seemingly unchanged.

Bunnypants has decided to put his previously debunked legal justification for doing an end run around Constitutional limits on executive power in writing. perhaps thinking that the words once printed would take on some rhetorical magic, Administration Lays Out Legal Case for Wiretapping Program

The defense comes at a critical time in the administration’s effort to quell the growing political uproar over the N.S.A. program. House Democrats will be holding their first hearing Friday on the legality of the program, and the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled another hearing in two weeks. A number of legal analysts, meanwhile, including those at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, have questioned the legality of the program in strong terms.

They have in fact stated that FISA is unconstitutional. It is a shock that a law passed in 1978 has gone this many years, through Reagan, Bush 1, and Bill Clinton without a constitutional challange brought before the Supreme Court. Bush “White Paper” Says Neither Congress Nor FISA Can Stop Him From Domestic Electronic Spying

“You could review the entire legislative history in the authorization to use military force and I guarantee you won’t find one word about electronic surveillance,” Bamford said. “If you review the legislative history of FISA, you will find Attorney General Griffin Bell testifying before the intelligence committee saying this was specifically passed to prevent a president from claiming inherent presidential powers to do this again.”

As I wrote in another post, the Attorney General of the United States is supposed to be unpartisan, but the fact is he was chosen partly because he was an ideological messiah that heard the same strange voices that Bush hears. So its little wonder they can’t hear through the den of the echo of their own voices,
Congressional Agency Questions Legality of Wiretaps

Unless the White House contends the program is a covert action, the memo said, “limiting congressional notification of the NSA program to the Gang of Eight . . . would appear to be inconsistent with the law.”

Also yesterday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center said it would file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today demanding information about the NSA spying. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed separate lawsuits Tuesday asserting that Bush exceeded his authority and violated Fourth Amendment guarantees in authorizing the NSA surveillance.

and here Report Rebuts Bush on Spying

The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

The intellectual laziness and corruption of the far right continues to simply act as blowhorns of the same pretzel twisting that has charaterrized their weak defense of Bush since the NSA scandal began.

I think the DOJ hits on a very important element of this whole program. It is not designed to snoop on political rivals or those who simply disagree with the administration’s policies… it is designed to “prevent further catastrophic attacks” by “a declared enemy that has already struck at the homeland and is engaged in ongoing operations against the United States”. An enemy who fully understands our freedoms (such freedoms they themselves do not afford others) and seeks to exploit them as a military strategy.

That lazy Bush defender, feather duster in hand should heed Mr Mark Twain’s advice, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11

The NSA’s vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

Bush and the Royal Loyalists Keyboard Brigade have the ultimate plan for America’s security, illegal warrantless searches+king-like executive power = prevention of attacks. The fact is we had illegal warrantless searches+king-like executive power = did not prevent 9-11. This may be abstract for some, but a president that creates a constitutional crisis, that made Iraq a priority over fighting Al-Queda, that has created a record national debt is a ” catastrophic” attack on American law and values.

The thing that is strange about the administrations and the rightie pundits is their deep devotion to unprincipled   nonsensical political doublespeak. The motives given by Gonzales, Cheney, and overeager right-wing bloggeteers are so easily blown out of the water by legal precedent, one asks, are we having a debate or is this The Age of the Internet version of the Political Twilight Zone. FISA allows for the NSA to start a surveillance operation at the tick of Dick Cheney’s pacemaker. What’s not fast enough about that.Tick, Tick, Tick, there goes three NSA surveillance operations that can procede legally for the next 72 hours, but Bunnypants thinks he has or needs more power. That doesn’t leave room for anything in the way of reasonable explanation for breaking the law. Impotent whining about the constitutionality of a law that Bush has been breaking for three years just makes for nationwide eye rolling in incredulity. Except for those that have a terminal case of Bush fever or cognitive dissonance. Is this administration ever going to put country first and put their extremist ideology back in the gutter they got it from.
Probably the attitude that prevails across America right now is that hey, I can work, order a pizza, rent a DVD, what do I care if Calvin Coolidge, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, or maybe Hillary Clinton in 2008 breaks the law and claims extra-presidential powers.

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything seems seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness — Justice William O. Douglas

hat tip to The Slideshow for the attempt by the current Culture of Corruption to rehash past Democratic smears in a fun game of deflection.

In some ways, the Clinton scandals of the 90’s can be seen as innoculation for the Republican corruption that was rampant, even then. We all know that the charges against the Clinton administration were bullshit, but the non-stop pounding for eight long years is one of the main reason why the public sees corruption as bi-partisan in Washington today.

I’m about as tired of your mouth as I am workin’this stinkin’hole

To those that have been paying attention the knee jerk reaction of the Whitehouse is to smear their critics rather then engage in any honest dialoque. The Attorney general of the United States of America should be above such pettiness and intellectual corruption, but Alberto Gonzales is not , AP Reports Facts on White House Smear of Gore
and In Desperation, Gonzales Smears Gore

I would say that with respect to comments by the former vice president its my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding the physical searches without warrants, Aldrich Ames as an example.

It should bother those concerned about ethics in government that the AG is either lying or is terribly ignorant of legal precedent,

1. Prior to 1995, FISA did not cover physical searches. (With Clinton’s signature, the law was expanded to cover physical searches in 1995.) The search of Aldrich Ames home occurred in 1993. It did not violate FISA.

2. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified in 1994 that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches, before FISA required physical searches to be conducted pursuant to a warrant. Gorelick was arguing that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches in the absence of Congressional action. At no time did she suggest that, after Congress required the President to obtain a warrant, the executive branch could ignore the law, nor is there any evidence the Clinton administration failed to comply with FISA.

Gore Responds to White House Criticism of Domestic Surveillance Speech

The Administration’s response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

There are two problems with the Attorney General’s effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration’s behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

Second, the Attorney General’s attempt to cite a previous administration’s activity as precedent for theirs – even though factually wrong – ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration’s program.

Inquiry on Clinton Official Ends With Accusations of Cover-Up

The legal inquiry by the prosecutor, David M. Barrett, lasted more than a decade, consumed some $21 million and came to be a symbol of the flawed effort to prosecute high-level corruption through the use of independent prosecutors.

I’m not sure that this case makes the argument for ending the appointment of special prosecutors, only that their goals and scope be more clearly defined. 21 million and ten years seems a little excessive.

After being indicted on 18 felony counts, Mr. Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999 to a misdemeanor charge of lying to investigators.

The final report, scheduled to be made public on Thursday, discusses in detail why the office remained in operation for so long: an intense behind-the-scenes clash between senior Justice Department officials and Mr. Barrett, who was trying to explore possible obstruction of justice within the Justice Department and the I.R.S.

Cisneros obviously did something wrong, yet as the article suggests, since Barrett’s main Problems were clashes with with the Justice Department and the IRS, one can’t help but think he was posessed by some spirit of Les Misrables’s Javert. .

Justice Department officials who disputed Mr. Barrett’s findings portrayed his investigation as deeply misguided and said the tax case against Mr. Cisneros had little merit. They suggested that the prosecutor had turned his disappointment in his inability to prove the obstruction allegations into unprovable theories.

Robert S. Litt, one of the Justice Department officials involved, wrote in a comment letter on May 31, 2005, that he was allowed to read only edited parts of the report but that he concluded that the report was “a fitting conclusion to one of the most embarrassingly incompetent and wasteful episodes in the history of American law enforcement.”

Mr. Cisneros is out of office, probably out of public life for good, and has been found guilty of at least one crime. Perhaps its time for Mr. Barrett to move on to more important matters.

Round and round we go on the merry-go-round of ethics – Ethics Schmethics

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert’s proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group’s expense and eat steak on a lobbyist’s account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

and this Navigating Political Rapids As They Are, Not As We’d Like Them To Be

As I have written before, I had a nasty experience long ago when the Democratic members of the Los Angeles City Council and then Mayor Tom Bradley were bought off by Armand Hammer and Occidental Petroleum who sought permits to drill for oil off the Pacific Palisades. This was a local deal, but at that time, the Dems were engaged in Abramoff like behaviors. Democrats don’t have a monopoly on decency or fair play.

But people like me who are progressively-concerned centrists have to accept the fact that the current administration’s dominant personalities are not “playing well” with the rest of the political system. Bush’s model of government is sending out disastrous signals to potential democratic change agents around the world — teaching them that checks and balances can easily be up-ended and ignored. This is not the kind of foreign policy leadership that any realist or liberal internationalist can support.

Reading back over the post so far, I’ve made fewer typos then usual and I’ve probably pissed off every almost every degree of political tilt. I agree in general with Steve Clemens reference to looking at things the way they are and facing what you see honestly, but I would add that looking back at the political history of the last 50 years and llooking around at the current political atmosphere, its like looking at the history of a sports team. You’re team isn’t going to get it right everytime, but if they are getting it right the majority of the time you encourage them and try to make them better. All the while knowing that its not just the nature of politics, but human nature, that you can only do your best as an individual and keep doing the things that need to be done with a progressive agenda in mind.

“There is more to American politics than fat cats and their political friends. There are serious-minded liberals who fight the good fight on many issues…”G. William Domhoff

For environmental reasons, national security and the extra burden on the very thin social safety net of the USA, I am concerned about our leaky borders , and ports for that matter. Unforunately there are those that have taken it on themselves to take a hateful and vigilante approach to the problem. Orcinus has a five part investigative series up onThe March of the Minutemen

Most important of all, the organizers of the Minuteman Project claimed that they would be keeping out white supremacists and other racists through their vetting process. In fact, there were at least six men participating who were members of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group whose members have been involved in crimes including assassination, shootouts with police, the machine-gun murder of a Jewish talk show host, bank robberies, plots to bomb Disney World and more. At least two of these men actually discussed setting up sniper positions along the border sometime in the near future. In addition, there was at least one member of the Aryan Nations, another major neo-Nazi group, participating in the Minuteman Project. No mainstream press account mentioned any of this.

Most press accounts ignored the bigoted past statements of organizer Chris Simcox, and almost all uncritically accepted self-congratulatory and inaccurate assessments from Simcox and co-organizer Jim Gilchrist. They also suggested, in many cases, that the Project had “shut down” some 20 miles of the border to illegal immigration; in fact, they only operated along a stretch of some two miles. One press account also described Project volunteer Jim McCutchen in flattering terms in a lengthy profile; completely ignored were McCutchen’s anti-Semitism and his contacts with the white supremacist hate group Council of Conservative Citizens, which has described blacks as a “retrograde species of humanity.”

. . . . . . . . . . .

If you’re sayin’ you’re somethin’
better’n what I am, that’s one
thing. But I can’t say much a
someone who’d run off an’ leave a
woman in a situation like this an’
feel easy about it. An’ that’s all
I gotta say.

I hope that’s all you gotta say,
El, ’cause I’m about as tired of
your mouth as I am workin’ this
stinkin’ hole!

from the screenplay Five Easy Pieces by Carole Eastman

Then the realization set in that I had been pickpocketed

No Correlation Between Bush Tax Cuts and Job Creation

The report reviewed administration claims that “tax cuts create jobs” and found the following:

* Tax cuts have no predictable effect on employment, either in job creation or job destruction.
* Since 2003, job creation has fallen millions of jobs short of the administration’s promises.
* The current weakness in job creation during an economic recovery is unprecedented since World War II.

Two New 2006 Tax Cuts Benefit Only Wealthiest Few – PDF file

# In 2006, 97 percent of the tax cuts would go to the wealthiest 1 percent
of Americans. The share going to the top 1 percent would rise slightly thereafter.
# More than 99 percent of Americans would receive nothing at all from these new tax cuts in 2006.
# The scheduled cuts would cost $2.6 billion in 2006 if allowed to take
effect. The annual cost of these cuts would increase rapidly in later years, and would exceed $10 billion in 2010.

The Paris Hilton approach to economics continues, rewarding wealth and punishing work.

Right Smears Veteran Murtha Without A Qualm

David Thibault, editor in chief of Cybercast, made it very clear to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz and Shailagh Murray that Murtha was facing accusations about his 1967 service now because “the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the anti-war movement.” In other words, if Murtha had just shut up and gone along with Bush, nothing would have been said about his service.

As it is, the charges are remarkably flimsy. Former Rep. Don Bailey, D-Pa., whom Murtha defeated in a 1982 congressional race after a redistricting, said that Murtha had told him he did not deserve his Purple Hearts, Kurtz and Murray reported. Bailey, who won a Silver Star and three Bronze Stars in Vietnam, recalled Murtha saying: “Hey, I didn’t do anything like you did. I got a little scratch on the cheek.”

Authentic war heroes (including McCain) often downplay their own heroism. In any event, what we know about Murtha, McCain, Kerry and, yes, Bailey, is that they served in combat in Vietnam. What we know about Bush and Vice President Dick (“I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service”) Cheney is that they didn’t.

What’s maddening here is the unblushing hypocrisy of the right wing and the way it circulates — usually through Web sites or talk radio — personal vilification to abort honest political debate. Murtha’s views on withdrawing troops from Iraq are certainly the object of legitimate contention. Many in Murtha’s party disagree with him. But Murtha’s right-wing critics can’t content themselves with going after his ideas. They have to try to discredit his service.

Moreover, the right has demonstrated that its attitude toward military service is entirely opportunistic. In the 1992 presidential campaign, when the first President Bush confronted Bill Clinton — who, like Cheney, avoided military service entirely — conservatives could hardly speak or write a paragraph about Clinton that didn’t accuse him of being a draft-dodger. In October 1992, Bush assailed Clinton. “A lot of being president is about respect for that office and about telling the truth and serving your country,” Bush told a crowd in New Jersey. “And you are all familiar with Gov. Clinton’s various stories and what he did to evade the draft.”

On Saurday 01-14-06, I posted about this pissing on the fire “pledge” from the righties, An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers, which includes this passage,

We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate.

These bloggers are part of the smear a vet noise machine, so when they talf about “ethics” and a “reform agenda”, how exactly are they going to do that when they are part of the problem. “In other words, if Murtha had just shut up and gone along with Bush, nothing would have been said about his service.”, when it comes to Bush and right-wing bloggers its not just about influence peddling or smearing vets, its about everybody shutting up unless what you have to say supports their narrow extremist agenda. Until they take a long hard look inward and see themselves for what they are, any talk about ethics or reform by so-called center-right bloggers is just athe screeching of blind chickenhawks bouncing off the walls.
Speaking of screeching, some comments from the statement over at Truth Laid Bear

If Republicans continue to preach one set of values, while practicing another, the American public can hardly be blamed for thinking that we are substantively no different from the hypocrites on the opposite side of the aisle. And they will be right.

You have to wonder what cave the guy lived in during the corrupt reign of Ronald Reagan

“By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. In terms of number of officials involved, the record of his administration was the worst ever.”

* Lyn Nofziger–Convicted on charges of illegal lobbying of White House in Wedtech scandal.

* Michael Deaver received three years’ probation and was fined one hundred thousand dollars after being convicted for lying to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury about his lobbying activities after leaving the White House. . .

* E. Bob Wallach, close friend and law classmate of Atty General Edwin Meese, was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $250,000 in connection with the Wedtech influence-peddling scandal….[ ]

Then there was:.
* James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior was indicted on 41 felony counts for using connections at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help his private clients seek federal funds for housing projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Watt conceded that he had received $500,000 from clients who were granted very favorable housing contracts after he had intervened on their behalf. In testifying before a House committee Watt said: “That’s what they offered and it sounded like a lot of money to me, and we settled on it.” Watt was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and 500 hours of community service.

* The Iran-Contra scandal. In June, 1984, at a National Security Council meeting, CIA Director Casey urged President Reagan to seek third-party aid for the Nicaraguan contras. Secretary of State Schultz warned that it would be an “impeachable offense” if the U.S. government acted as conduit for such secret funding. But that didn’t stop them. That same day, Oliver North was seeking third-party aid for the contras. But Reagan, the “teflon President” avoided serious charges or impeachment. . .

* Oliver North–Convicted of falsifying and destroying documents, accepting an illegal gratuity, and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress. Conviction overturned on appeal due to legal technicalities. . .

* John Poindexter, Reagan’s national security advisor, –guilty of five criminal counts involving conspiracy to mislead Congress, obstructing congressional inquiries, lying to lawmakers, used “high national security” to mask deceit and wrong-doing. . .( Bush II gave Dexie a job in his first term)

* Richard Secord pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to Congress over Iran-Contra. . . :

Massive fraud and mismanagement in the Department of Housing and Urban Development throughout Reagan’s eight years. These were finally documented in congressional hearings in spring 1989, after Reagan left office. Cost the taxpayers billions of dollars in losses.

There hasn’t been a Republican in office since Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a pivotal figure in history because he was the last Republican-Party of Lincoln president who used Richard Nixon to appease the right-wingers that eventaully took control of the party when Nixon became president. I am pro small as possible-competent government, I’m against pork, I’m not thrilled about about paying taxes, but I know they’re necessary in order to have a civilized society ( remember freedom isn’t free). A modern well equipped and trained military is an absolute neccessity, and if you want a strong America you have to be pro labor. No wealth is created in America without labor – which includes a fair compensation and health insured workforce. Look at the record, not the conventional wisdom; liberals, Deomcrats, progressive Americans don’t just say it, they’ve fought for thses ideals in blood and sweat… A long way of saying the TLB rightie commenter believes in the complete and utter fairie tale that is the foundation of conservatism. The conventional wisdom is wrong, the fact is Democrats just have a better record of growing the economy and shrinking government.

Lots of good places to look at corruption within the Bush dynasty. There is such a thing in this world as capitalism, it has promise as a system, but there are lots of kinks to iron out before it works like its suppose to. One is getting people to see the difference between crony capitalism(Republican capitalism) and the working American’s capitalism( Democratic capitalism). Web Masters: Net of Corruption Binds Bushes, Pope, bin Laden and Saddam

At the center of this particular nexus is the unlikely figure of Neil Bush, the feckless, fraudulent brother of the current president. Neilsy – as he’s known in the family – is most famous for costing American taxpayers $1 billion to bail out a savings-and-loan he had ruined with secret insider loans to his own business partners. For this massive fraud, he was fined – by his father’s administration – the princely sum of $50,000: actually paid by one of Pop’s political bagmen, naturally.

For you see, the Bushes are robber barons, not capitalists: they never risk any of their own money in the competition of the marketplace – nor do they ever pay the price when their deals go belly-up. Just ask George W., whose first business was kickstarted with secret cash from the bin Ladens, laundered through their American frontman, James Bath – who was also hired by W.’s dad, then-CIA director George Bush I, to set up offshore companies for shifting CIA money and aircraft between Texas and Saudi Arabia, the Texas Observer reports.

Back to smearing vets for a second, another TLB commenter writes

It is a relatively meaningless exercise so long as scumbags and traitors like John Kerry and Teddy Kennedy continue to foul the halls of Congress. No amount of corruption that any of our people have ever committed is equal to the evil done by these two.

I support what you are doing but everything we try to do to clean up the act of our people only seems to serve to hamstring us in the face of those 2 abominations.:

Nice sack of garbage from the ethics and reform crowd. Neither Kennedy or Kerry are angels that fly on winged chariots, but “scumbags and traitors” seems like the inner juvenile fantasies of the commenter rather then any reality.

Speaking as a focus group of one…I got interested in politics in part by the Contract With America.I did not vote for the Republicans so they could spend like Democrats, be corrupt like the same and do pretty much the same nannyisms as the Democrats but with different taboos…… and I’m still waiting for those term limits.

The Contract on America dreamed up by an earlier generation of Corruption and Politics of Destruction Inc, headed by The Newtonantor

The House ethics committee recommended last night that House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) face an unprecedented reprimand from his colleagues and pay $300,000 in additional sanctions after concluding that his use of tax-deductible money for political purposes and inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented “intentional or . . . reckless” disregard of House rules.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses [constitutes] an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our government.” — Edward Bernays in ‘Propaganda,’ 1928

If there is one thing that the “center-right” bloggers stand for, its the politics of manipulation and image. They can’t stand up for what’s good, fair, decent – in other words American values, until they learn what those ideals are. They can’t declare war on science, on rationalism and reason and then say they’re against corruption. Where do they think corruption comes from? In part it comes from rejecting any consideration of the consequences of their actions and the power brokers whose posteriors their lips and keybroads are glued to. Yes we’re all sinners, yes we’re all hypocrites, but its also true that some of us fight the good fight most of the time. The issue with the Abramoff scandal, the NSA scandal, the soaring nationnal debt, a bungled unneccessary war isn’t about the facts the “center-right” can’t seem to get straight, its about starting and finishing in a progressive stance for life. To commit to an ethical life, to the notion that our moral development can’t be stunted by an easy buck, that individually and as a nation we strive to achieve better lives for ourselves that is not at the expense of others – social-darwinism is not a foundation for a democracy. Conservative politicians and bloggers can’t begin to start on the path of moral development until they renounce the social-darwinism that Republicanism has become. Think of it as a Twelve Step Program for wingers; the first step is to stop lying about the facts and who and what you are.

. . . . . . . . .

I smiled and took another gulp of my beer; then I put the glass down on the bar, deciding that I’d had enough. I reached into my right pocket to leave a tip for the bartender when I realized my wallet was gone. I felt my other pockets, but the wallet wasn’t there either. I checked all my pockets again, then looked around on the floor near my bar stool.

“What’s wrong?” Eddie asked.

“I can’t find my wallet,” I said.

Eddie started looking around too as I stood up, feeling my pockets again. Then the realization set in that I had been pickpocketed. I suddenly felt hot all over, and I became even more frantic.

One of the Scottish bartenders came over and asked me what was wrong.

“Somebody stole my wallet,” I said.

“You sure?” he asked.

“Yes, I’m sure!” I shouted.

Now other people nearby were looking over, and a couple of college-age guys started searching on the floor. Eddie was still looking around too, and then it hit me what had happened.

“Give me my wallet back,” I said to Eddie.

He gave me a drunken stare, then said, “The fuck you talkin’ about?”

“Come on, I know you took it,” I said, “or you were working with somebody who took it.” I looked around, but there was no one suspicious-looking nearby. I turned back to Eddie and said, “Give me my fucking wallet back.”

Excerpted from Twisted City by Jason Starr

a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain…

While I’m not much for authoity figures in general, political or not, it is sometimes neccessary to have someone take the lead. Someone to lay out a plan, to set goals, to organize people and sometimes just to set a tone. As Arianna Huffington points out, Bush said he welcomed, “an honest debate about Iraq”. If that’s true , why are his surrogates Swiftboating Congressman John Murtha. Shouldn’t America expect its president to lift the debate up from the gutter. The President Needs to Denounce the Swift-Boating of Murtha… Now!

They are the lowest form of character assassination — cranked out by the GOP attack machine with ruthless efficiency (and almost comical predictability). A belly flop into the Beltway sewer that degrades a political culture already so befouled it might seem beyond further degradation. But then we get this effluvium — and the stench hanging over our democracy becomes unbearable.

Bush must make it clear, immediately and in no uncertain terms, that, as a country, we need zero tolerance for this contemptible attempt to shove the reputation of a man who put his life on the line for his country into the media wood chipper. If Mrs. Alito cried over some of the questions asked of her husband, what should Mrs. Murtha do, slit her wrists?

Arianna betrays her inherent idealism. She gives weight to the possibility that Rovian Republicans want politics any place but the sewer. The culture of Bush-Rove-Delay likes political discourse down and dirty, thats how they win and as long as they keep winning, the constant barrage of hate wrapped in the flag will continue. Bush, by his silence shows his cowardice, which his apologists try to portray as resolve, a nice bit of reality manipulation.

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard, names to know: Unraveling Abramoff: Key Players in the Investigation of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Jack A. Abramoff: Up until 2004, Jack Abramoff was one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington. He leveraged his close ties to Republican and conservative leaders, including then–House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), to collect tens of millions of dollars from clients such as casino-rich Indian tribes. He treated lawmakers and their aides to lavish trips, meals and tickets to sporting events, and directed the tribes to donate millions of dollars to political candidates and parties. Now he is at the center of one of the widest-ranging federal corruption investigations in decades.

DeLay ex-aide pleads guilty in Abramoff case

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Michael Scanlon, a former top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay and a onetime partner of high-powered Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge Monday.

[ ]..He is a longtime associate of several top GOP leaders, including DeLay, Americans for Tax Reform director Grover Norquist, and former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed.

Bank robbers are generally idiots, why rob banks when you can get a degree steal all the money you want with a handshake and a spread sheet.

The Anonymous Liberal has Al Gore’s speech

The President’s men have minced words about America’s laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the “kind of surveillance” we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.

This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute.

Breaking the very thin wall that is left of America’s privacy hasn’t yielded the kind of results that would justify this administration’s burning of the constitution one piece at a time. Burning it all at once might shake a few people out of their bedroom slippers while they sit, eyes glazed, watching the Boob Tube…Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans’ international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans’ privacy.

As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about “whether the program had a proper legal foundation,” but deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.

President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a “vital tool” against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved “thousands of lives.”

But the results of the program look very different to some officials charged with tracking terrorism in the United States. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.

As Ezra Klein notes

our problem was never that we lacked sufficient intelligence, but that we lacked the ability to process it. Hence the phrase “connecting the dots,” we had the dots, they just weren’t linked. So what the NSA program has done, apparently, is offer a few million more dots, the overwhelming majority of which simply get in the way of making those crucial connections. Feel safer?

What is at the center of Bush and his supporters thinking about the NSA program? Its much like their thinking about Iraq and terrorism. They’re jumping in the air, arms frailing about, giving the impression that they are doing big important things beyond the grasp of the average American. All to distract from the facts, the NSA program is an unfocused needle in a haystack search and Iraq had less to do with terrorism then people we consider allies, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Cons complained for years, and it turns out ignorantly so, that governement was big and incompetent. Bush and company have greatly expanded government and dumped down the competence to record lows.

Lawrence Kudlow stands on corner, wets finger, sticks it in the air, On the Extent of “Corporate-Welfare Subsidies”

It does seem these Bush minions were for pork barrel spending before they were against it, but I have to wonder as to Larry’s undocumented claim.

RED (Voice Over)
I find I am so excited I can barely
sit still or hold a thought in my
head. I think it is the excitement
only a free man can feel, a free
man at the start of a long journey
whose conclusion is uncertain…
297 THE BUS 297

RED (V.O.)
I hope I can make it across the
border. I hope to see my friend
and shake his hand. I hope the
Pacific is as blue as it has been
in my dreams.

I hope.

from THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION by Frank Darabont, based on the story;
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
by Stephen King

They set off through the summer darkness along the unpaved, ill-lit road

The Bancroft Library has an on-line exhibit up of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Digital Collection and has a nice interactive map, as well as a 360 panorama:

This panoramic collage of San Francisco shortly after the disaster of April 1906 comprises eleven separate photographs taken from the roof of the Fairmont Hotel.

How to tell if Iran is the next big thing from Atrios, How It Goes

Winter/Spring – The clone army of foreign policy “experts” from conservative foreign policy outfits nobody ever heard of before suddenly appear on all the cable news programs all the time, frowning furiously and expressing concerns about the “grave threat” that Iran poses. Never before heard of Iranian exile group members start appearing regularly, talking about their role in the nuclear program and talking up Iran’s human rights violations.

Andrew Sabl looks at Moral reform movements led by ministers: RIP. for Martin Luther King Day

The Civil Rights Act would probably have happened with or without religion, but real changes in the acceptability of personal racial prejudice required–as King stressed constantly–a change in conscience, not just in law. While muttered, submerged racism and structural racial inequality are still with us, those who think nothing fundamental has changed simply don’t know much about the Jim Crow era and the racial attitudes–let alone the structures–that respectable white people and their leaders, North and South, defended openly back then.

Apparently we can’t expect the First Lady to understand the issues either, Laura Bush Defends Domestic Spying Program
so I guess Laura is not currently on speaking terms with this cranky Republican, Specter: If Bush Broke The Law With Warrantless Spying, Impeachment Is A Remedy
and I guess Laura is just a gangsta that doesn’t care too much about the rule of law

A report by Congress’s research arm concluded yesterday that the administration’s justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.

The Congressional Research Service’s report rebuts the central assertions made recently by Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about the president’s authority to order secret intercepts of telephone and e-mail exchanges between people inside the United States and their contacts abroad.

Doesn’t every Dad tell his son, never mess with strippers Strippers to rally against smoking ban

Galvanised by two radio disc jockeys, about 100 strippers were expected to rally today at the Statehouse against New Jersey’s new ban on indoor smoking in public places.

The ban, which affects bars and restaurants – but not casinos – is to be signed into law on Sunday.

So the new law is intended to encourage people to watch strippers, smoke, gamble, drink liquor and eat, but not to watch strippers while you just smoke, drink, and eat. Maybe they could just issue a set rats and mice to bar patrons as they enter and they could roll the dice as they watch the strippers.

“Let’s go,” Masako said. Sometime after the New Year, she’d begun to hear talk of a strange man hanging around the road that led from the parking lot to the factory. And then several of the part-timers had reported being pulled into the shadows and assaulted before barely escaping; so the company had just issued a warning that the women should walk in groups. They set off through the summer darkness along the unpaved, ill-lit road. On the right was a ragged line of apartment blocks and farmhouses with large gardens-not particularly appealing but at least a sign of life in the area. On the left, beyond an overgrown ditch, was a lonely row of abandoned buildings: an older boxed-lunch factory, a derelict bowling alley. The victims said that their attacker had dragged them between the deserted buildings, and so Masako kept careful watch as she and Kuniko hurried along. – from OUT A Novel by Natsuo Kirino