Friday, August 31, 2007

Breaking: Senator Craig to Resign

photo: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

Alleged Gay Sex Too Much for GOP

GOP Leaders have pressured Senator Larry Craig (Idaho-R) to resign in the blow-up of a sex scandal of alleged gay solicitation in an airport bathroom.

Senator Craig pled guilty to a single minor charge, although he now claims doing so was a mistake and that he is not gay.

GOP leaders have not pressured the resignation of Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska who is the target of a criminal investigation over his dealings with a a government contractor. Nor have GOP leaders pressured the resignation of Senator David Vitter of Louisiana who is alleged to have frequented a Washington, D.C. house of prostitution. A lot.

NY Times

Senator Craig plans to resign on Saturday.

Idaho Gov. C. L. Otter, a Republican, would be responsible for naming a replacement to serve until the end of Mr. Craig’s third term, in 2009.
Republicans. Family Values... unless politically inconvenient.
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Bush Moves to Aid Homeowners

WASHINGTON -- President Bush, looking for ways to respond to the subprime-mortgage crisis, will outline a series of policy changes and recommendations today to help borrowers avoid default, senior administration officials said.
-- Wall Street Journal

Oh, this ought to be good. Bush can 'help out' in the same way he has helped in NOLA. God help us all.

In another move, Mr. Paulson and HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson have instructed their staffs to begin working with mortgage lenders and others to identify borrowers who are in danger of defaulting. They also are trying to work with private lenders and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to develop loans for borrowers who will likely face default if they can't get more flexible terms.

This mortgage thing must be really bad, if Bush is having to do something, and in August...
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U.S. Troops deaths rising, Sectarian Violence rising.

All time daily high reached one month ago

attacks per day on coalition and Iraqi forces, civilians and infrastructure.

The surge is a failure and is unsustainable. All anecdotal evidence to the contrary is just plain bullshit. The numbers dont lie. It didnt work.
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Last Long Summer Weekend

What are your plans?

I'm going to lie around the house, watch DVDs of BBC Planet Earth, the expanded edition of Serenity, An Inconvenient Truth, Black Snake Moan, Season 1 of Heroes, and Memento (which I've never seen, so don't anyone spoil it.)

Probably also ride my bike two, maybe three times, depending on what my daughters want to do. Say 30-40 mile each ride. And eat barbecue. Yummy. My famous bean diet has worked great. I'm down 35 pounds since I started, the lowest weight I've been in years. Not on beans right now, but am watching to make sure I don't go back up. Got another 15-20 to go down before Halloween if all goes well, so I'll likely go back to the beans one week after Labor Day and stay there till I've lost the weight. That should put me at 220-225 going into the long winter season which would be just perfect. But I have to have my barbecue for Labor Day.

Ribs, corn on the cob, coleslaw, hot corn bread, fresh butter & honey, and some greens. Also perhaps chicken. (I'm hungry right now is the problem.) Plus good sauce to dip the meat in. *sighs* Then just lay back and watch my new DVDs, checking every few hours to see how y'all are doing. Good times.

Where will you be, who are you with? What are you eating? Doing? Watching? Anything special or just kicking back? Any special recipes? What are your Labor Day weekend plans?

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Peekaboo, I See You

photo: caribb

Jet Delayed Overnight: Iraqis Speaking Arabic

American Airlines Flight 590 was delayed overnight in San Diego Wednesday night after a woman traveling with two children expressed concern about 6-7 Iraqis speaking Arabic, after the plane had started to taxi to the runway. Due to the lateness of the hour the flight was rescheduled for the following morning.

Houston Chronicle

The Iraqis had been training Marines at Camp Pendleton and worked for Defense Training Systems, a unit of International Logistics Services Corp. of Anchorage, Alaska, said Dave Stephens, the company's chief executive officer.

"They did nothing wrong," Stephens said Wednesday. A company press release called it "an unfortunate situation for all flight passengers."

Local law enforcement questioned the men, who were quickly released, said American spokesman Tim Wagner. The Transportation Security Administration did not get involved.
"9/11 changed everything." Yes, it did. Now any damn fool can turn a jet around with irrational fears of dark people talking in another language. And because of 9/11, no one can say "Hey Lady, that's crazy talk." Every report has to be checked out. People have to be "careful" how they behave. There's a chilling effect.

In this case an entire plane-load of passengers was stopped from reaching their destination. Hotel reservations were broken. Appointments were missed. Plans were rescheduled. Romantic plans were blown. People on their way to meet people had to wait an extra half-day in Chicago to meet them. In Chicago.

How much money and aggravation did this delay cost? At what point do we give up useless security theater? Can't we agree it's not worth it any more when all we've got is a woman from highly conservative San Diego with her two children who is afraid of the dark men with the funny foreign language?

When is enough enough? When can I have my country back?
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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bill Clinton Senator Craig is a Naughty Boy

Comic: -- Click on comic to see full size

Beat Me Hurt Me Make Me Write Bad Checks

Meet the Press January 24, 1999, Sunday 9:00 AM

MR. RUSSERT: Larry Craig, would you want the last word from the Senate be an acquittal of the president and no censure?

SEN. CRAIG: Well, I don’t know where the Senate’s going to be on that issue of an up or down vote on impeachment, but I will tell you that the Senate certainly can bring about a censure resolution and it’s a slap on the wrist. It’s a, "Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You’re a naughty boy."

The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy.

I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.

The question issue now is simply this: Did he lie under oath? Did he perjure himself and did he obstruct justice? And that’s where we’re trying to go now in this truth-seeking process. And I hope we can get there. And then I’m going to have the chance to decide and vote up or down on those articles. After we’re through with this impeachment trial, it’s collapsed, it’s gone, then the Senate will make a decision on if it’s a censure or not.
You know some of those Republican closet cases would just love to have Bill discipline their ass. Ever watch CSPAN wondering what the Republican side of the aisle is day-dreaming?

"Oh, Mr. Clinton, um, Mr. President! Is this the Lincoln Bedroom? Could we go to the Oval? In my fantasies, we're always on your desk in the Oval. Or maybe in the Situation Room with all those Generals watched by Sergeants with their big guns strapped on to their tight, tight uniforms. I've been such a bad, bad Senator, Mr. President. I've been naughty. Punish me, Bill. Spank me. Spank me. Spank me harder. Whip me with your Unitary Executive Powers. Mount an incursion into my interior. Inspect me for duel-use weapons. Search for my supergun. Destroy me, you nasty man. Insert your Big Dog into my entry port as the occupying power, ravage my ancient treasures and violate Geneva over and over again. Order your strike force to take me hard and fast from behind. Oh Mr. President -- I think I love you."

Hat tip: Arch Pundit
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For Your Consideration, Puget Sound Version

Darcy for Congress: Part 1

Darcy Burner is running in Washington's 8th Congressional District. Please vote for her (if you live there) or consider making a contribution.

Running out the door right now so I don't have time to tell you in detail the fifty different reasons why Darcy is worth your time and money. For more, go read Dave's Darcy and the Sheriff.

Darcy's opponent is the idiot former Sheriff Reichert whom President Bush flew into town last week and partied with after the death of Officer Germaine Casey in New Mexico. Don't let the assholes win.

Elect Darcy Burner to Congress.

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Conversations with Children #101

The Yes-No Game

Age: Two to Five

Her: No.*
You: Yes.

Her: No.
You: Yes.

Her: NO!
You: YES!

Her: NO!!!
You: NO!!!

Her: ----
You: NO!!!

Her: Yes?
You: No!

Her: Yes!
You: No.

Her: Yes.
You: Yes.

Her: No.
You: Yes.

Her: No.
You: No.

Her: Yes.
You: So pumpkin, look** at the the silly kitten...***

*The No can be about anything. What matters is you're going to turn the No itself into a game. A fun game. Just like hide and seek.

**Keep switching till she's having fun, then change subjects. Ta-da!

***It's not okay to trick them into doing the original No. Fair's fair. Distract them, then change the subject. Done properly you'll have the kid laughing and playing with you as you switch back and forth between Yes and No. Remember -- it's a GAME.

Like Conversations with Children? Read The Augustlet Chronicles.

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Thousands Riot in Chile

Over 400 people were arrested and hundreds injured yesterday when Chile's largest trade union (Chilean Workers Center) called for a day of protest over President Michelle Bachelet's Socialist administration economic and trade policies.

Police threw tear-gas at protesters as clashes broke out in several cities during the nation-wide protest. Most of the violence was in Santiago, near the Presidential Palace, where riot police turned water cannons on protesters blocking the streets.

This riot wasn't just students. It was middle class. Even though Chile's economy (more below) is doing quite well with copper's high prices, the middle class feel the rich are getting richer while they are not only being left out of the economic boom but getting screwed in the bargain. Yesterday the middle class made it clear they were done being screwed.

Call it a Chilean version of Labor Day. Or the Boston Tea Party.

Guardian Unlimited

Thousands of Chileans took to the streets yesterday in a burgeoning middle class revolt against the 17 years of coalition government that has ruled since the fall of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.

Television images showed senator Alejandro Navarro, of President Michelle Bachelet's Socialist party, bleeding from the back of his head after apparently being clubbed by a police officer. Mr Navarro, who was treated in hospital, supported the protest.

"This protest will start to change things. There will be one after another," said Arturo Martinez, of United Workers Central. The union is tapping into widespread anger at economic inequality in Chilean society. As riot police and ruling party politicians tried to play down the protests, the capital was filled by protesters demanding higher pensions, better public transport, subsidised housing and a halt to rising food and electricity prices.

President Bachelet initially defended her record as a progressive politician, then conceded and promised "subsidies to all" families in need and a "short-term solution" for economic inequality.

Yesterday's protest comes after weeks of labour action, including strikes by poultry workers in southern Chile and copper miners in the north. Union leaders called the demonstrations to protest against the government's "neo-liberal" economic policies and to further the national debate about the country's minimum wage.

Salaries for workers have been at the forefront of public debate after recent statements by Bishop Alejandro Goic calling for "an ethical [minimum] wage" for Chilean workers.

Chile, with 15 million inhabitants, is the world's biggest producer and exporter of copper, ahead of the U.S. and Australia. The economy expanded 6.1 percent in the second quarter fueled by higher investment, domestic consumption and exports. Copper prices rose 16.7 percent this year.

``People see the money and they say to themselves, `Why don't they spend it,''' said Julio Espinoza, an analyst at brokerage BiCE Corredores de Bolsa in Santiago. ``It's a very difficult situation.''

Giving into the demands would add to pressure on inflation, already at the upper end of the central bank's target range, and might lead policy makers to boost interest rates to stem rising prices, he said.

The price of copper, Chile's main source of foreign exchange, has rocketed this year to as much as $3.71 a pound on July 20 from as low as 60 cents in 2001. Copper for delivery in December rose 3.15 cents, or 0.95 percent, to $3.34 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange at 3:12 p.m. New York time.

``When you press a balloon, sooner or later it explodes, and in this case the people are the balloon,'' said Luis Perez, a 32 year-old employee at a law office in Santiago, after joining the protest. ``The country has money in the pockets but it doesn't help poor people.''

With state revenue benefiting from the two-year surge in copper prices, the government should be spending more, said Roberto Daza, a 41-year-old taxi driver in Santiago.

``We have a terrible health system, hospitals are crammed with patients,'' he said. ``Chile has lot of resources from higher copper revenue that should be distributed more equitably among the people,'' he said.

Codelco, owned by the Chilean government and the world's largest copper producer, said on Aug. 14 that it added a record $4.67 billion in profits and taxes to government coffers in the first half of the year.
My mentor, my boss for six years is a senator in Chile, representing the Tarapacá Region, Chile's northenmost administrative and one of the poorest regions in the country. There's nothing on Fernando Flores' blog (auto-translated by Google) about this so far but we shall see. Check back.

I'm with the Chilean middle class. Hell, I'm with the American middle class. Want to have a general strike? Go Union go! Not a fan of the violence so much, but hey... I'll be happy to help clean up the blood. I like a good spot of trauma I do. *smiles sweetly*

This Republican crap about how we should take the money and give it back to the rich via tax cuts so they can trickle it back down. Bullshit if I ever heard it. Sure, you need to take a reasonable amount of capital and reinvest in capital improvement and in new projects. But then you need health insurance for everyone, education for everyone, retirement and vacation, childcare for everyone. Take care of the people doing the work so they have time to raise their families, learn new domains of knowledge, invent entirely new fields of opportunity, and rest when their work is done, all in good health.

What is just plain wrong is taking the money made by the people doing the work (that's you and me) and handing the vast overwhelming majority of the money to the few people at the top who make the major business decisions, own most of the company stock. It's bullshit. I'm not talking about paying out on 401K's. I'm talking $2-50 million dollar salaries and options for CEO's and other top executives and corporate officers.

It isn't a question of not having a market economy. It's a question of the government not making sure all its citizens are provided for. As the citizens of Chile are making clear.

Go Union go! And here in the United States... Happy Labor Day.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bust Cards

For Your Wallet (Thanks ACLU)

Print copies of the ACLU Bust Card (2 to a page), cut on the lines, and give one to everyone you know. Do this now please.

Tagging back on to Sara's great post, You have the right to remain silent, tagging on to my post Give Us Money Now, the ACLU Bust Card says in plain language what you and your kids should actually do when the police stop you. Make sure you read over it with your kids and PRACTICE, actually mock up being stopped.

If you or someone you know is a photographer, make sure they have the Bust Card for Photographers which lays out what is legal to photograph and not, and what the authorities can do about it, e.g.: Can they take away your film? Can they stop you from filming?

Know your rights. Don't be screwed.

Daughter #2 (Chelsea) was stopped last night on a routine traffic stop, her first. It went well. Why? Because all of my kids and I have PRACTICED, over and over and over, over and over and fracking over again, precisely how to handle a traffic stop so the cop is put at ease and is most likely to put them into the "good person" category and not the "scumbag" category.

Next to domestic disturbances, the single most dangerous type of regular call for a cop is the routine traffic stop. Want to avoid getting a ticket? Put the cop at ease before s/he gets to your car. When the lights come on:

Calmly put on your right turn signal. This lets the cop know you see him and are going to obey. Because you didn't slam on your brakes (dangerous) or swerve violently to the left (the wrong side of the road) you've demonstrated you are calm. Now reach up and turn on the overhead light in your car. This lets the cop see into your car indicating you have absolutely nothing to hide. Pull over carefully and smoothly at the first safe place where there is room for both you and the cop. Put your car in park. Roll down both front windows as you do not know which window the officer will approach. Put BOTH HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL IN THE 10 & 2 O'CLOCK POSITION. Don't do anything else. If you had the radio on it should be off. If you had a radar (fool) it should be long hidden without drawing attention to you or it. No talking on the cell phone. No nothing. Just sit there. Wait. The officer may take a while. Whatever. You have absolutely nothing to do in the world except sit there with your hands high on the steering wheel, absolutely positively NOT moving in your well-lit car.

When the officer approaches always call the officer Sir, Ma'am, or Officer. Don't get tricky and try Trooper (State Police), Deputy (Sheriff Department) or Agent (most federal officers.) You'll screw it up. Call them Officer and they'll understand you're doing your best. The first question they're likely ask is, "Do you know why I stopped you?" Answer "NO."

Let's review...

The first question the officer will ask is, "Do you know why I stopped you?" You know damn well why he stopped you. You were a) doing 75 in a 60, b) while running a red light, c) in a school crossing zone, d) with a light out, e) expired tags, f) and almost nailing a nun. Who cares! Answer: "No Officer, I don't." Now smile.

Notice you haven't given or offered your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. Don't volunteer any of these. Your job is simple; keep the conversation on other stuff. The moment the officer takes your paperwork and heads back to the squad car, your chance to avoid a ticket drops big-time.

Don't admit to anything -- they'll write down on their copy what you admitted to and use it against you if you contest the ticket. Which you most likely should. People who contest tickets usually get them at least reduced (costs you less plus less points against your license which means not as much a jump in insurance costs) and often contesting a ticket gets it thrown out completely. It's at least worth a shot. But right now your job is to make the cop like you, to occur as a good person, a nice person, a person perhaps having a bad day who just made a simple mistake, all without ever ever ever admitting to a violation or anything illegal. Because the cop CAN & WILL use that admission against you.

If you're a nurse or a medic, say so. Or a teacher. If you're a woman, don't hesitate to cry or smile, feminism be damned -- unless it's a woman cop. If they want to scold you, never ever talk back to them no matter how much of an ass they are. At the bare minimum, keep your freaking mouth shut. If you can handle it (and they look like they want it), thank them for the lesson and promise to do better. The point is to get out of the ticket. You don't know how many tickets they might still write you for; at any given stop a cop has discretion to write probably three to four violations. Don't give them an excuse to make an example of you.

Thus if you're someone important, shut your damn mouth. Telling the cop you're important guarantees you'll not only get a ticket, you'll get the maximum possible ticket the cop can give you (possibly even a low-level criminal citation), ever "t" crossed, every "i" dotted. The cop will be at your court date, notebook in hand, having carefully written down every stupid thing you said and did. You will be convicted without any reduction. And if you're important enough the cop will have tipped the media off to come watch you make a fool of yourself.

Even if you get a ticket don't lose your cool by the side of the road no matter how unfair it seemed to you. The cop can still jerk you around if you give any reason. Smile, be polite, sign the ticket, pull out carefully and leave. Then get off the road at the first safe exit (a gas station) and write, write, write everything down, no matter how tiny or insignificant. Such a contemporaneous account including anything else you remember in the next few hours to day, has enormous credibility if you choose to contest the ticket or file a complaint.

The best single book written on fighting traffic tickets is Beat Your Ticket: Go to Court and Win (Nolo Press.) If you need to go deeper, Legal Research also from Nolo, and your county law librarian should be able to help you.

What Sara says works. You have rights, not just on the little stuff, but on the big stuff as well. I've said no to cops and federal officers, in interviews, in my car, and at my door. You can too. It's a matter of knowing your rights and of practice, of training yourself to say "No" to improper questions and being willing to stand up for those rights consistently.

"Can I ask you a few questions"
"Do you mind if I come in and look around?"
"Would you open your trunk so I can take a quick look?"

Practice saying "No" repeatedly. This may sound stupid but I'm completely serious: Try saying "No" out loud right now. Ask one of the above questions out loud, then say, "No, you may not." Now do it again, also out loud. Good. Now find a partner, ideally a family member. Have person A ask the question out loud, then person B replies, "No, you may not" out loud. Do this 10 times. Now switch. Feel free to make up your own civil rights questions where the answer is "No." But practice saying "No." Once you've done this 75-100 times, the twitchiness in your body begins to go away and the "No" starts to become natural.

Practice gets a behavior deeply into the body. If you don't physically practice standing up for your rights with your family multiple times out loud (saying "No"), then when the heat is on and a cop is bearing down six inches over you with a gun on their hip and their partner shining a flashlight into your daughter's eyes at 2 am, most likely the cop will win and your family will lose. Truly.

I can't say this enough: As you practice so will you behave when it is real. Make sure your family wins -- practice protecting your rights with your family. And print out copies of the ACLU Bust Card -- actively protecting your rights protects all of our rights.

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You have the right to remain silent

Jesse's post (just below) on Anastasio Prieto points up something that's been a burr under my saddle for a long while now.

Very few Americans under 30 have ever taken a civics class . Which means nobody's ever walked them -- slowly and patiently over several weeks -- through each article of the Bill of Rights, and explained to them -- carefully and thoroughly and in great detail -- how those articles define the way they as Americans should expect to interact with their government.

This, of course, is very convenient for the would-be oligarchs in our midst. Funny thing: people who don't know they have rights aren't nearly as inclined to insist on them.

Now, right up front, I need to point out that Prieto's in a very special pickle, due to the plain fact that nothing in the Bill of Rights applies when you're sitting at a US border checkpoint. If you're trying gain entry to the country, they're entitled to do whatever they want to you. You have two choices: submit, or don't cross. If ICE wanted to search him, he could either say yes, or turn around. He was very much at their mercy.

Also: if you have more than $10K in funds, you're committing a crime if you don't declare it. So Prieto, law-abiding citizen he, declared it. As a trucker, he's probably a frequent border-crosser who'd done this often enough before, and had no reason to expect trouble this time. Jesse's right: the whole thing stinks to high heaven of extortion, and it's yet more evidence that ICE is an agency working at the fraying edges of what's allowable in a free society.

(I cross the border about twice a month. I don't know what HSA has in my file, but I appear to be an A student: the ICE guys always run my passport, look at the computer screen, smile, and wave me through. But writing that last paragraph, I'm feeling the fear that my happy status could change now that I've written something unkind about them. I'm an American, dammit. The very thought that I would even feel any fear at all just makes me furious. As they're fond of saying -- without a trace of the irony I always seem to hear anyway -- welcome home.)

But if Prieto had been anywhere but a border checkpoint, there is absolutely no reason that this would have needed to go down like it did. He would have been asked the same questions; but he could have walked away with his truck, his money, and his rights intact -- if he'd understood his rights under law.

Which, as I noted earlier, almost nobody does. Which is a problem, since more more and more of us seem to be finding ourselves in these situations. Which means that this, kids, might be a fine occasion to brush up on your civil rights in regards to police interactions.

First: There's a reason cops always ask before searching a home or vehicle. It's not because they're trained to be polite. It's because they cannot conduct a search without your consent. And you do not have to give it to them. Ever.

When a cop asks if he can enter your house or take a look inside your car, the right response is always, "Do you have a warrant?" And if they don't, the next right response is always NO. (Extra points if you step outside the front door and close it behind you; or exit the vehicle and lock the door behind you as you say this -- these actions unmistakably demonstrate your intention to withhold consent.) If Prieto had been anywhere else in America and asked this question, all he had to do was say NO when the cop asked if he could search the truck. And that right there would have been the end of it.

Mistake #2 was telling the cop anything. He had a right to remain silent, and to refuse to be interrogated. The right answer was, "Am I free to go?" If the cop hems and haws, you can assume the answer is yes. He doesn't have a valid reason to detain you. Another good option is: "I'm sorry, I know you're just doing your job -- but I'm under no obligation to answer your question." And then, again: "Am I free to go?" (If the answer is "no," of course, then your next move is to refuse to talk until your lawyer is summoned.) Again, had Prieto done this rather than answering the question about how much money he had, the cop would have been cut off from pursuing events further. As an American, you have a right not to answer nosy questions about your personal business -- not even if they come from cops.

I know. You never, ever see people acting like this on Law & Order. But that's because TV cop shows have done a great job of teaching people to surrender their rights without even realizing that that's what they're doing. Once you do know, those TV cops provide all kinds of useful examples showing how people get manipulated out of their rights all the time.

For an even better example, though, watch this instead. A group called "Flex Your Rights" has a terrific 45-minute video tutorial on this available on YouTube called Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters . Watch the whole thing. Watch it twice. Watch it with your friends and kids. Watch it with the people you party with -- and (most particularly) those you do political work with. The day may come when knowing when and how to say "no" to a cop may save your property, your freedom, or your life.

Nobody in America knows this stuff any more. For a long time, back in the days when the cops worked for us, white middle-class Americans didn't need to. (On the other hand, if you were poor, black, or brown, you've always needed to know this.) But in our new America, knowing how to defend our basic civil rights against armed government agents trained to wheedle them away from us is an essential survival skill that we all need to get busy and re-learn.

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okay, getting back to work now, i just had to post that because nobody had lolgeh'd that yet.

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Give Us Money Now

DEA Takes $23,700 From U.S. Trucker

Driving while Mexican-American is apparently enough to get your money taken in New Mexico. But don't worry. File a lawsuit to prove its yours, and you can have it back in a year. Probably.

Land Line Magazine - for Professional Truckers

A Texas trucker whose $23,000 in cash was confiscated from his truck by federal drug agents has sued the federal government to get his money back.

Anastasio Prieto – a U.S. citizen who resides in El Paso, TX, and is contracted with Schneider National Carriers – said he distrusts banks and chooses to carry large amounts of cash.

According to court documents, Prieto passed through a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint on U.S. 54 on Aug. 8 before pulling into a weigh station in New Mexico. A New Mexico Department of Public Safety officer told Prieto his trailer had a worn tire, and an officer asked if he could search the truck.

After Prieto allowed the search, the officer asked him whether he had possession of needles or cash in excess of $10,000. Prieto told the officer he had no needles but he did have $23,700 in cash, which was taken by officers who then contacted a supervisor.

The supervisor showed up at the weigh station about one hour later but rejected Prieto’s willingness to show her income documents he said proved the cash belonged to him.

Seizing money was routine, one of the two officers told Prieto, and Gary Apodaca, a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer, told him he’d probably get his cash back “in a year from now.”
Houston Chronicle

Officers took the money and turned it over to the DEA. DEA agents photographed and fingerprinted Prieto over his objections, then released him without charging him with anything.

Border Patrol agents searched his truck with drug-sniffing dogs, but found no evidence of illegal substances, the ACLU said.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated Prieto's right to be free of unlawful search and seizure by taking his money without probable cause and by fingerprinting and photographing him.

"Mere possession of approximately $23,700 does not establish probable cause for a search or seizure," the lawsuit said.

It said Prieto pulled into the weigh station about 10:30 a.m. Aug. 8 and was let go about 4 p.m.

DEA agents told Prieto he would receive a notice of federal proceedings to permanently forfeit the money within 30 days and that to get it back, he'd have to prove it was his and did not come from illegal drug sales.

The ACLU's New Mexico executive director, Peter Simonson, said Prieto needs his money now to pay bills and maintain his truck. The lawsuit said Prieto does not like banks and customarily carries his savings as cash.

"The government took Mr. Prieto's money as surely as if he had been robbed on a street corner at night," Simonson said. "In fact, being robbed might have been better. At least then the police would have treated him as the victim of a crime instead of as a perpetrator."
Gee, Gidge. How about I just throw up a road block and take all cash exceeding whatever I feel reasonable from anyone who doesn't look like me? That should let me hit my budget for the year, no prob.

Or how about you kiss my ass. Dumbshit Republican judges who've stretched the law to allow this crap. If this isn't an unconstitutional taking, then what in the hell is?
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DNA Frees Man After 18 Years

International Herald Tribune

GOLDSBORO, North Carolina A man who remained in prison for 18 years after being wrongly convicted of child rape was released Tuesday after new DNA testing cleared him of the crime.

Dwayne Allen Dail, now 39, hugged his attorney as Wayne County Superior Court Judge Jack Hooks Jr. set aside his conviction.

District Attorney Branny Vickory had asked the judge to dismiss the original charges against Dail based on the new test results. The tests showed that DNA found on the 12-year-old victim's nightgown matched another man already in prison. The results also excluded Dail as the rapist.

"I'm a blessed man," Dail said, hugging his mother as other crying family members stood nearby. He said he never thought the conviction would be set aside.

The girl was raped in 1987 by an intruder who entered an apartment window, and the victim later identified Dail as the attacker.
What can you possibly say?

Two life sentences plus 18 years. He never gave up hope. Never stopped proclaiming he was innocent. The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence -- one of many similar projects around the country -- believed him. But it all would have been for nothing if the victim's nightgown hadn't been accidently saved, accidently found. DNA testing was done and today Mr. Dail is a free man. Compensation? Sure... he'll likely get $20 grand per year.

The State can lock you up for two life sentences plus 18 years on the word of a single 12 year old eye-witness with a compelling story and circumstantial evidence. Because someone has to pay. Shit. You bet I'm a believer in making damn sure the State meets its burden of proof. Every single goddamn time.

Welcome home Dwayne Allen Dail.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In the Beginning was the Word

And the Word was Story
or The Writers v. the Producers 2007

Sofia Coppola's Academy Award winning Lost in Translation is my third-favorite movie. Opinion is split roughly 40/40/2o of the people whom have seen it: Given 100 people, 40 adore it, 40 despise it, 20 are indifferent. My mother and my daughters fall in the indifferent category confirming for me the movie speaks powerfully only to those in the middle of their life. What it says, depends on whom you are and what stories you listen for.

If you're in the 80% it reaches, Sofia's movie moves people to tears or upsets them because it tells a particular kind of story. Lost in Translation is Art with a capital A. From before the beginning, literally some of us say, everything is created in story. All of this, whatever this is, everything which exists, exists in language, in story told by a speaker and listened by a listener, all invented in a shifting tale by a storyteller.

A big fight is gearing up. You should know about it. If only to know that the people who invent the stories which create the ever-present background context encompassing and giving rise to the media culture you and I live in -- the writers -- are in a fight with the people who control the money, networks, and airwaves -- the producers. It is not a fair fight. The last few times this fight has been had the writers got their asses whooped. Producers negotiate for a living. Writers... well, writers aren't especially social at the best of times, most of them. Frankly many writers are a bit weird and many dress slightly funny or look a little off which is more of an issue than you might imagine, especially in beauty-obsessed Hollywood. But ultimately, none of that matters. The problem the producers have is, no one else but real pro writers can write. Writers are experts not just on dialogue and character. Much more importantly, writers know bone deep what story is, how it works, how to bring it forth from nothing, how to mold and shape story into that which moves people -- to the point where they'll kick in $10 bucks a ticket to watch the movie twice and bring their kids, or watch for an hour every Thursday night at 9 pm. The problem the writers have is, the producers control the money and access to talent. Plus writers have to write. They must.

Fifty-thousand scripts a year are registered with the Writers Guild of America, but only 4,400 writers a year get hired to write television and movies. That's it. That's how many writers, year after year have got whatever combination of talent, skill, weirdness, connections, and guts to keep bashing their head against the wall that it takes to make it, when your family and friends keep telling you to get a real job. The odds are very much not in your favor when it comes to writing in film and television professionally.

Most movies fail. Most movies lose money. Movies and television that make money -- and no movies make money according to Hollywood accounting unless they are enormously successful -- start making money with DVD sales. TV makes money with advertising, but where it pays off is when a show gets to 100 episodes and sells into syndication. Although now with the power of The Long Tail, TV shows of even one to two seasons can sell DVD's (think Joss Whedon's Firefly) and make decent money.

Pay attention now: Regardless of if a movie makes or loses money, a writer gets paid residuals as the negotiated equivalent of royalties. Residuals aren't bonuses. Residuals aren't salary for writing. Residuals are what writers get in exchange for the studio being allowed to exploit the work the writer created. Period. The fight this fall is over how much money the producers have to pay the writers in residuals per DVD sold. Not to mention how much per internet sale (currently none) and other new means of distribution.

One possibility is there will be a strike. Another possibility is the fight will get bumped three years into the future when everyone is more clear precisely how the internet will impact distribution. The thinking there is, better for everyone to suck it up with a poor deal now, than to get screwed with a bad deal now (and no one is quite sure who would be the screwer or the screwed.) Three years from now much should be clearer. The third possibility is the writers try to bump things forward to the future, but the actors (SAG) come along in their contract negotiations and set a new deal on DVD residuals... and that becomes the new standard. The odds of a strike happening this fall are higher for the writers, because the writers don't want anyone else determining their destiny.

I've written a screenplay and am working on another. Writing is damned difficult. My heart lies with the writers. Hollywood accounting is designed to confuse and befuddle, to allow the studios to take costs from their failures and dump them on other people's winners. The producer's financial game is a con.

Without the writer who creates the story there is nothing. "Writing is easy, all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead." -Gene Fowler

Every movie you love, every television show you enjoy -- all of them were written by a writer. This fall they'll be fighting for their fair share. Don't let anyone fool you (for example the NY Times who got it completely wrong.) What the average WGA writer is paid today in comparison to what the other main creative talent makes is a joke. Directors, actors and producers all make enormously more than the writer. But without the writer there is only a blank page.

As we approach Labor Day let's hear it for the union of professional writers, the Writers Guild of America. Go Union Go!

Want to know more?

WGA v. THE STUDIOS: Unspinning The Spin

The Average Writer's Non-Biased Guide to The Upcoming WGA Negotiations

The Economics of Screenwriting

Screenwriting blogs: John August, Wordplayer & The Artful Writer

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From a Horsefly On The Shed Wall in Crawford...

Scene from a weekend Texas barbecue—“Hope you don't mind Dick's Teriyaki Baby gettin' on yer Ginger Chicken, 'Berto.”


The walls are adorned with old Frederick Remington western prints, a poster for “Shanghai Noon”, and an old chest X-ray of John Wayne's, circa 1965. We hear a doorbell ring—or rather, the “ding” of a service station's customer bell when someone drives over the hose out in front. A staggering LAURA BUSH lurches into view—barely steady on her feet as she goes to the door. She's done up in a 70's-style double-knit western jumpsuit, with piping and fringe on the seams and pockets. She accidentally kicks a stuffed armadillo down the hall as she walks, holding onto the walls.

LAURA: I'm coming. I'm coming! (To herself) Shit! God...make this fucking earthquake stop! Coming!

She opens the door where we see ALBERTO GONZALES standing there holding a plate of wrapped food. A stunned Laura steps backward.

LAURA: Oh Goddamn. How did a fucking wetback get past the Secret Service? (She pounds on the wall intercom) Mayday! Mayday! Valley-Doll One is in distress! Repeat—Valley-Doll One is in distress!

GONZO: Mrs. Bush—Laura! It's me...Al.

She looks on, still wobbly and confused.

GONZO: Gonzales!

LAURA: (Recognizing him) Ohhhhhh! Well Goddamn, Al! Get yourself a... national I.D. card or something so a girl can identify you! (Laughs) Mmmmmm! I see you've brought treats...

GONZO: Tasty fish tacos, ma'am.

Laura clears her throat exaggeratedly—signaling there must be something more.


GONZO: Oh yes, and this! (From behind his back he produces a pickle jar-sized bottle of pills) A fine bottle of 1974 Seconal. Great vintage.

LAURA: (She sniffs at it.) It's got a lovely bou-quet! And a pre-Elvis bottling. You shouldn't have. (BEAT) But too late, you already did. Thanks!

They start walking through the house towards the back yard.

GONZO: So...where's the boss man? Out by the grill?

LAURA: No...he's hiding. From you.


LAURA: (Sighs) He thinks you have a resignation letter or something for him, and he thinks if you can't actually hand it to him, it doesn't count. (BEAT) You don't, do you?

GONZO: Me? Naaaaaaah! Just brought...a nice plate of fish tacos.

LAURA: (BEAT) Wrapped in DOJ stationery.

GONZO: Yeaaaaaah...was all I could...y'know, get my hands on at...the-uh...time.

LAURA: Y'know, whatever. He's out there—hiding in the hay bales.

GONZO: Hay bales? I don't see any hay bales.

LAURA: (Pointing) Over there. The hay bales.

GONZO: Those aren't hay bales. They're rolls of fiberglass insulation, ma'am.

LAURA: (Chugging pills from the mouth of the jar) Mmmmmf! Hay bales, fiberglass—what's the difference?

GONZO: Well, what do you feed the horses?

LAURA: (Stunned) We have horses?

GONZO: Never mind, ma'am. I'll just find him.

Gonzales goes out the back door, onto the patio, where DICK CHENEY stands at the grill—unsteady, as he's holding a sweating bottle of Rumplemintz in one hand, while poking at charred meat with the other.

CHENEY: Hey, 'Berto. How's it hangin'?

GONZO: To the right, of course, sir.

CHENEY: Heenh-henh. Love that shit. Love it. (He picks up something extra well-done off the grill on a fork, waving it at Gonzo.) Baby?

GONZO: (Wincing at the offer) No. No thanks.

CHENEY: Sure? These are fresh ones—not from frozen embryos.

GONZO: I'll pass.

CHENEY: More for me, then. (He takes a huge swig off the Rumplemintz, dribbling it on his gingham shirt) F' you're lookin' fer Brilliantine, he's hidin' in that stack of insulation, there.

GONZO: (Walking off) Thanks.

CHENEY: (Calling out) Ehhh, I wouldn't take a piece of that and chew on it like he did. It ain't hay. Lips swelled up something awful.

GONZO: Gotcha.

Gonzales walks across the field over to the bales of insulation, which quiver and move as someone (BUSH) is obviously hiding behind them. We can HEAR him furiously scratching back there.

GONZO: Hello, sir. It's me.

BUSH: Don' know who yer talkin' to. There's nobody back here.

GONZO: Sir...I know you're back there. I can see your boot moving.

BUSH: No you don't.

GONZO: It has the Presidential Seal on it. I'm looking at it, now. Kicking.

BUSH: I stashed 'em here yestiddy so's I wouldn't nick 'em up clearin' non-existent brush. Yer lookin' at a boot with no man attached. on yer way. No president back here, and he can't accept yer resignation. No sir!

GONZO: Guess he can't accept this plate of fish tacos I made, either.

BUSH: (Sniffs) Fish tacos?

GONZO: Yep...made with chopped-up Mrs. Paul fish sticks, too. Just the way the president likes 'em.

BUSH: Looka here! Foun' m' boots! (Bush rises from the fiberglass, covered in tufts of it, blotchy-skinned and totally hived-over) Hey, Berto! Let's see them tacos!

GONZO: Here you go, sir.

BUSH: Mmmmmm-mmmmm! Smells great! And ya wrapped it up so nicely, too. In paper?

GONZO: So they uh...steam better on the grill.

BUSH: And you wrote a message on it. Awwwww! (Reading) “Dear George, enjoy these tacos. Love, Fredo. P.S. I fucking...quit?” Grrrrrrrrrrrr! You son-of-a-bitch! You tricked me! (He flings plate of tacos at Gonzo who ducks it.) Fuckin'...Sancho...Villa- mother-fucker!

GONZO: It was the only way, sir. I'm sorry. And I think it's Sancho Panza.

BUSH: Whut-fuckin' ever! You can't resign! Whut about yer legacy? Whut about-about helpin' all the sexed-up children, like Chris Hansen does? Whut about makin' me look like my shit is over?

GONZO: I can't do it anymore sir.The jig is up.

BUSH: Jig? You're part Black? You specifically told me you were Mexican!

GONZO: I mean, it's done. I can't fight 'em off any more. There's nobody left at Justice. I called a meeting last week and got 15 out-of-office replies from people who'd quit. And I'd only sent out 10 messages! That's an omen, sir. Plus, I can't go back to Capitol Hill again to testify.

BUSH: Why not?

GONZO: Because I've officially run out of ways to say “I'm not gonna tell you shit!” I've said “I don't recall” 107 times. I've said “I don't recollect”, another 44 times. Said “Huh?” twenty times. Threw in a few “Duhs”. I'm spent. I'm burnt. They've got me.

BUSH: Well there's always “No habla ingles”, right? I mean, I can't actually habla the ingles real good, but for you, maaaaaan, that excuse fits like a corn husk on a tamale.

GONZO: Sir, they know I speak English.

BUSH: Yeah, but do they know it's not your first language?

GONZO: I dunno. I don't recall.

BUSH: There! See? You don't recall! You can still do this. You've got a few still in ya. C'mon. hang around. Me, Dick, and you?—We can be like know, the stripped down versions of those bands from back in the day! Who fucking needs keyboards, and strings and shit? (Begins air-guitaring furiously as he “mouth-guitars” the opening chords from *Deep Purple's “Smoke On The Water”)

“Dahn-dahn-DAHN! Dahn-dahn-DAHN-dahn! Dahn-dahn-DAHN! Dahn-dahn-DAAAAAAAAHN!” We can do this!

GONZO: I-I'm afraid not, sir.

BUSH: You can be like that weird, little brown dude in The Association! C'mon!

GONZO: Here's my key to the White House washroom. I enjoyed handing towels to you.

BUSH: (exploding) Well fuck you then, Baba Looey! Fuck you sideways! Quick Draw don't need you, anyway! In fact...(Calls out) Laura! Get yer face outta that ditch and call the INS fer me! Seems we got us a non-citizen intruder!

GONZO: Sir, I am a citizen.

BUSH: So was yer boy, Padilla. Ha-hah! Don't mean shit! I don't need you! I don't need Karl! I don't need Condi-

GONZO: She hasn't quit, sir.

BUSH: Whut th-well where the hell has she fucking been? Screw it! I don't need anybody! All I need...(Lifts a clanking, clattering case from behind a roll of insulation) are my friends...fuggin' Moussy and O'Doul (Laughs) Moussy. Henh-henh, Sounds kinda Moo-slim. (Laughs again, then yells) They're all I need!

GONZO: Sir...that's an awful lot of bottles. Did you drink those today?

BUSH: Yes, I. Did! Mother! (BEAT) S' non-alcoholic, stupid! I can have a hundred of these fuckers!

GONZO: Well, that's good.

BUSH: It'd be a problem...if I was brewin' pruno in the well behind the shed, and was dippin' from it every time I went back there t' get baling wire for this... Goddamned, pink fuggin' hay! (Kicks at a roll, nearly falling down) That'd be a problem!

GONZO: Oh, shit. Look sir. I'm uh...I'm gonna go now.

BUSH: Go! Be out! (Throws a Moussy empty at Gonzo who eludes it) I'll ride this bitch out by m' lonesome! (To himself) Don't need no-Goddamn-body...

GONZO (Pointing at Cheney) You've still got Mr. Cheney.

BUSH: (Reeling with surprise) Are you fuckin' kidding me? 7 years in—I still don't know that nother-fucker! Do you see what he's cooking over there? Karl joked about that shit! Dick's fuckin' doin' it! I've still got Cheney? He's got me! Get the fuck outta here! (Throws another bottle at Gonzo, missing again.) Go!

GONZO: Just wanted to say that it was a pleasure to serve under you, sir.

BUSH: Yeah, yeah...serve this, bitch! (Grabs hard at his crotch.) Who needs you?! You were just along fer th' ride! Cha-ching! Hear that? That was me droppin' your token-ass in the slot! Got me a pocket fulla tokens just like ya! So, hah!

GONZO: Good-bye sir. (Walking away)

BUSH: What? No “Adios, amigo?” (Screaming now) Oh, of course! You're too good for that! Amigo would mean “friend”! And friends don't just book up!

GONZO: Enjoy the fish tacos.

BUSH: Slow yer roll there, Speedy. (Waves the bathroom key at Gonzo) You've got a little more than this key, outstanding. Yer gub'mint car? The Escalade? Where's the key fer that?

GONZO: I don't recall.

BUSH: And your cabinet officer's credit card?

GONZO: (Now jogging back to the house) I don't recollect, sir!

BUSH: Wait! Your passkey to the White House gym! Your Blackberry! The escort service discount card? Where the fuck are they?

GONZO: (Sprinting now, past Cheney and into the house, toward the front door.) ¡No habla ingles! ¡No habla ingles!


*Thanks, Professor Fate!—LM

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The Arrow No Longer In Your Quiver.

The distinguished Senator from Idaho—where apparently, he-da-ho.

Seems you cant go a fortnight without some level of GOP “Family Values” hypocrisy rearing its ugly, liver-spotted-like-Strom Thurmond “haid”.

The breaking news from under the desk of Senator Larry Craig (R-Hedaho)—via Jen, Digby and Roll Call:

Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men's public restroom in which Craig was arrested.

Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men's restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.

Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see "an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall."

The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig.

"I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, 'fidget' with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes," the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia's and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

"My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall," Karsnia stated in his report. "From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me."

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

"At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area," the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that "I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider."

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

Rumors about Craig have been swirling for quite some time, with an exposĂ© of how he was “voting right, while sleeping “light”, having been spiked recently thanks to pressure from concerned parties. But, once again proving the old adage “You can't keep a good GOP man down—once he's got it up in the men's room”, Craig evidently opted to keep pushing the envelope (every apt description of the general “thrust” of this event is going to sound like a first draft of a Penthouse Forum letter ), and found himself caught out there in George Michael-land—busted, and pleading guilty to lewd behavior in a public men's room.

Now, for me—vile behavior in such a place would encompass those who use the facility without care for “aim”, or find the need to fill the bowl with all 1000 sheets of the roll of NotScottTowels. Eruptive folks who opt for Pollack-esque public “art” in said spaces should be jailed as well. But...Senator Craig's indiscretions are...well, not quite of that variety. They appear to be more of the “interactive”, sort, if you will. This is apparently, against the law in most states—Florida included—where last month, GOP State Representative Bob Allen was also busted in a public men's room for soliciting lewd actsfrom an undercover cop. Allen's defense was that he feared “becoming a statistic” due to the presence of burly, aggressive Black men. (Picture above of the man Craig's people considered blaming for inciting the incident—until they realized that not only was this man not actually there in the men's room, but was also not in Minnesota, and really, was just some body-builder's pic they desperately snatched from Google Images.)

Senator Craig's people I'm sure considered floating that defense idea out there...until they realized that a single southern Florida men's room probably had more Black men in it than most of Minnesota in general, never mind Idaho, so out the glory hole went that defense. :) Thus, they merely sought to cover it up, and cover Craig's ass. (I told youevery apt description... ) And failed, as the record of the event slowly dribbled out (“Sigh!”) into the public.

But the thing to note here, is that what we are witnessing in the GOP, is akin to watching something die off in real time—right before your eyes. Like hockey players skating around with no helmets, or audio cassette tapes fading from the displays of your local electronics stores. The thing that is dying is the ability for the GOP to trot that bullshit “Family Values” card out as a club to bludgeon liberals with as they have over the last 20 years. In the wake of Foley, and Haggard, and Rudy, and Vitter, and Allen, and Craig, and who-the-fuck-else-it' month, you'll note their reticence to rear up on hind legs and squawk like little punk-ass bitches, the pejorative, “San Francisco Liberal!”, like they did up until a few months ago. Our GOP boys on the down-low are as sprinkler-upsetting as a Tom of Finland poster convention at the Moscone Center. That which the right so loathes, and rails against—the idea of one's sexuality not necessarily being of the variety that sprouts little Santorums all over the place like Johnny Appleseed on crack, is the petard they so often nowadays find themselves hoisted upon.

And the bitch of it all is, that it's not like they're being exposed for long-term relationships with partners of some standing. It's all this furtive shit. Paid prostitutes with uncanny White House access. Conservative military experts who just yesterday were starring in porn flicks with titles like Tijuana Toilet Tramps , and offering their services on outcalls. Diapers and shit-play as the wallet would allow.

“Here a urinal, there a urinal, everywhere a' dremeled urinal. Old McWingnut's gettin' his swerve on, E-I-E-I-Ohhhhhhhh!” See, it's hardly the sort of long-term, stable, Susan Sontag and Annie Leibovitz thing, out this piece for our dear, fork-tongued friends on the right.

They're getting busted on what we call 'round the way, “the grimey shit”.

Running the family values bag, as a party-wide cudgel against the Left is a no-winner for that crew anymore. It is the arrow no longer in their quiver. Because once they deign to go down that road, up pops the litany of what would be by their description, “indiscretion after indiscretion”, with nary a Lefty counterbalance to spin against. Go there at your peril, Ed Gillespie. Please. I fucking beg of you...go there.

So what's left for 'em? Racism? Well...that's wearing a tad thin, as the immigration “debate” has backfired into millions more Latinos saying “Fuck that shit!”, to an antagonistic Republican party—for perhaps decades, now. And the hating on us Black folks is so Goddamned tired that it gets about as much mileage as a '72 Monaco wagon with 20 cinderblocks stashed in the wayback. Got so tired that they tried to run against it, to spark turnout in Black areas in putting up the smiling, move-only-when-you-pat-'em-on-the-head bobbleheads that were Steele, Blackwell and Swann. Which in the end, turned out so shitty that the trio's got enough time for an open ended tour as a singing group—“The Three Castrati”.

The only arrow left, is terror. Fear. The bearded, bomb-strapped boogeyman under your daughter's bed. (Insert wheezy “Count Floyd” 'Whoooooooooooooooo!' here for extra-scary effect.)

That's it. From here, until election week November of next year, and perhaps several election cycles thereafter, the only weapon left is pants-pissing fear. Or, to paraphrase the late, great Richard Pryor, “Old, strong ammonia pants-pissing fear.” An incredible motivator when used in tandem with other things—but left on its own as a fulcrum to hinge a party's future on, well...its cheap-fuck, penny-barrel hardware indeed. So by all means, oh loyal opposition—ride that horse. Ride that horse, till his nuts're draggin' in the mud, fellas.

And uh...speaking of nuts dragging... :)

UPDATE: Oh Jesus!

He started his press conference by saying, “Thank you all for coming out today.”

I. Shit. You. Not.

UPDATE #2: As per the comments, which are killin' me, this classic moment from Dave Chappelle— “This is not the first time I've tasted penis. I've had several in my line of work.”
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Women in Western Art

Shakespeare's Sister had this up. So beautiful I pulled it over. Enjoy.

Links to the original art here.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Bush Motorcycle Cop Dies

Bush "In Rare Form" Hours Later

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A police officer died Monday after crashing his motorcycle while riding in a motorcade as President Bush prepared to leave the city following a fundraiser for Sen. Pete Domenici.

Rio Rancho Officer Germaine Casey, 40, was rushed to an Albuquerque hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The motorcycle was near the front of the motorcade, and the president saw the wreck as he drove past on the way to the airport, said Rio Rancho Police Department spokesman Officer John Francis.

Bush issued a statement saying he was saddened by Casey's death and extraordinarily grateful for his protection.

Other motorcade crashes: A Honolulu police officer, Steve Favela, died when his motorcycle crashed while he was part of a presidential motorcade traveling across Hickam Air Force Base last November.
Afterwards, President Bush flew to Puget Sound where he held a fundraiser for embattled congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA08):

Sally Gorton, wife of former GOP Sen. Slade Gorton, who was overheard gushing to friends after a private photo-taking session with the president said that the president was "in rare form." Reichert later informed the group that Bush "wanted to have fun" at the reception.

The event raised at least $500,000 for Reichert and the state Republican Party.

The Domenici event, held behind closed doors, brought in at least $430,000, an amount that had Domenici chief of staff Steve Bell marveling. "We didn't think we'd raise this much, with the president in the 30s approval in our state," he said.

He said the good news, though, was marred severely by the news of the death of the 40-year-old, the father of two.
President Bush has yet to attend a funeral for a single one of the 3,732 US fatalities to date in his wars. Issue statements written by others while not smirking; mostly no problem. And then *sings*Presidents just want to have fun*sings*.

The man utterly lacks empathy. He is incapable of putting himself in another's skin. All that exists for Bush is himself and the very few around him who feed his pathologies.

Rest well Officer Casey. Tat Tvam Asi.
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Republican Sex Kitten

"I Should Not Have Plead Guilty"

Role Call: Craig arrested, pleads guilty

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?”

Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.

In October 2006, Craig’s office publicly denied allegations that he was a homosexual made on a gay activist Web site — Craig’s office told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that the charge was “completely ridiculous,” saying that the allegations had “no basis in fact.”
Another married Republican blown away in a sex scandal.

I have no problem with people getting caught up in sex trouble. It's part of being human. Given my upbringing, it took me till my early forties before I stopped screwing up by the numbers. I understand all about lying, covering up, concealing, and the thrill that comes from getting away with sex and seduction you know damn well you shouldn't.

My issue here is not that Craig apparently was on the hunt for illicit gay sex. He wants to fuck men while pretending to be straight or to fuck around on his wife, that's respectively between him and himself (and his partners), and between him and his wife. I don't think it's going to work well for him personally to keep lying to himself, or for him to be in a committed relationship and be having sex outside it, but that's truly a personal problem, not a public issue.

Where this becomes a public issue worthy of the Group News Blog is two-fold:

Craig is a Republican, the party of sexual morality and repression. They're against gay sex, indeed they're against all sex outside of marriage. Republicans have received hundreds of millions of votes through demonizing, suppressing and threatening other people's sex lives and threatening and legally controlling people's bodies, all in tight coordination with the more extreme elements of organized Christian religion. Republicans above all other political parties have made people's private lives fair political game. So mote it be. Hypocrisy is a political sin.

Second, Craig's acts reflect precisely the Republican mantra: It's Okay If You're a Republican. Stealing elections is okay. Corruption is okay. Greed is okay. Starting wars for no good reason is okay. Killing and screwing over the poor is okay. Virulent racial hatred is okay. Perjury is okay. Incompetence is okay. Killing off soldiers with shitty body armor and massive strategical failures is okay. Revealing state secrets is okay. Gay hookers in the White House is okay. So is gay sex in an airport bathroom. Any damn thing is okay if you're a rich white male Republican U.S. fucking Senator. Why can't people understand?!

I don't care what people do privately. Take the time, get into therapy, work it out. That's what I did. Or don't. Whatever. But be a public stand for the anti-sex and morality party while simultaneously being on the down-low, your cover should be blown. Hard.

Hypocrisy and narcissism to the point of believing you can do no wrong are public sins.

Update: Arrest Report & Docket Sheet for State v. Craig
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Breaking: Attorney General Gonzales resigns

Department of Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass On The Way Out

The New York Times reports Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned Friday, according to a senior administration official who will make the announcement later today.

Can you spell, "T A R G E T o f I N V E S T I G A T I O N ?"

I knew you could.

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We Fight On

The GNB Banner & Blog Design

We've been open going on two months now and I just noticed I never gave public credit to the people who designed everything.

The GNB Banner was built by Lower Manhattanite (click on the photo above to view in HIGH resolution) with the nose cone of the AC-130U Spooky taken from a design by the amazing Driftglass (photo also clickable for HIGH resolution.)

If you look at Driftglass' version in High Res (below), you'll see there are some numbers & a letter on the nose cone, which LM transfered over when he grabbed the nose cone and put it onto the version which graces our cover today. We have no idea what it symbolizes, except knowing Drifty I'm betting it calls out to Gilly. But that's just me. Any guesses?

There's the beautiful old bomber for Steve, a Spooky to bring in close support fire for grunts in trouble, and my personal favorite, a dustoff. *smiles* All bursting off the page through the sky through breaking news. Wonderful work LM.

The design of the blog itself was done by Hubris Sonic. I love how subtle the flow is between all the elements, how the text shows up so perfectly against the background, how the colors match each other, how the Section Headings both stand out but also don't overpower their background.

We've got simple clicks letting you email us, contact us, find out about copyright, and (eventually when we're bigger) donate. As well as go to the archives and other stuff. Also our blogroll is simple enough not to overwhelm.

I think this is one of the most elegant blogs I've seen. Cheers and congratulations to Hubris Sonic & Lower Manhattanite. With a special thank you to Driftglass. Please join me in a praising the guys on a design that leaves me happy day after day after day. We'd love to hear your comments on our blog design for good, not-so-good, or stuff you'd just like to see improved.

Finally, if you have a guess what Drifty's tribute on the nosecone means, hit us in comments. 'Cause I've spent too damn much time puzzling it. Y'all are smart people. So figure it out and tell me already. Please.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Knock Knock -- Who's There?

4th Amendment Narrowed Again

The U.S. Tenth Circuit has upheld its own 2-1 panel ruling in United States v. Andrus, refusing to rehear the case. The denial of rehearing en banc at least made clear the decision was limited to the specific facts of the original case, which is a mercy. Professor Orin Keer of The Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting post, "Virtual Analogies, Physical Searches, and the Fourth Amendment", which lays out the issues more clearly.

In Andrus the case revolves around who has authority to give permission to a search. Ray Andrus wasn't home when the government knocked on his door and asked to search. His 91 year old father who lived there gave the federal agents permission to search the home. The agents went into Andrus' open bedroom -- there was no lock on the door and the bedroom door was open -- and bypassed the passwords on the computer by connecting directly to the hard drive and scanning. They found files which looked to be child porn.

The case came down to, a) did the agents have permission to make the search, b) which turned in part on the fact that Ray Andrus' room was unlocked meaning anyone in the home had access to the room and thus to the computer including his elderly father who gave the consent, and c) is a computer considered a relatively non-private item such as a briefcase, or a relatively private item such as a locked footlocker where a person might put private papers and belongings?

The 10th circuit panel ruled 2-1 with a strong dissent that a) considering the totality of the circumstances -- read the decision to grasp those; 4th amendment cases are always made considering the total facts of the specific case -- that it was a very close call, but that indeed the agents were justified in relying on the father's consent to search, given all the hoops they jumped through (which I haven't specified here -- again, feel free to read the decision linked above); b) that because Andrus' room was unlocked and the door to his room was open, the agents could reasonably assume the computer was available for public use by others in the home thus making the consent to search valid, and c) that a computer is NOT a private item such as a locked footlocker. Specifically, the majority refused to take judicial notice of how operating systems today routinely password protect a person's workspace against the government's practice of bypassing such protection. The dissent was appalled, saying people's most personal information and papers are stored on computers now, much like in past years they were stored in lock boxes with keys. But the majority refused to listen and ruled it is okay for the government to simply connect at a disk level totally ignoring ordinary passwords without that being a Fourth Amendment violation.

What do we learn from this? First, while this is only the Tenth Circuit and thus only truly applies to you if you're in the middle of the U.S., and while I'd hope for the Ninth Circuit (the West Coast) to get it right, you can't count on it. It's quite possible, even likely that till more judges from our generation and politics make it to the Bench, we're going to see this kind of nonsensical decision. It may be obvious to you and I that our personal and most private papers should be as inviolate from search on our own private computer absent a warrant or properly granted consent as if they were hard-copy papers in a locked box, but don't expect the judges to get it right for the next few to ten years. Certainly not now in Kansas. Which leads to point the second...

Andrus, according to the decision, made two mistakes. From a legal point of view. Obviously, his first mistake was storing child porn. Not the point. Point is, even if you own the home -- as he did -- or even if you're a teenager in your parent's home, if you want your personal room to be free from search, you need to lock it. Then someone else in the home can not grant permission to search the room, absent a key, and if they did, you'd have solid legal grounds to fight the search. Next, encrypt stuff you want private at a disk level. Three ways I know to do this: Encrypt the entire disk, create a virtual disk, or encrypt a specific file. I recommend only the first two for day to day operations; the last is useful only when sending a file to someone else.

PGP is good for encrypting entire disks as well as creating virtual disks. Jetco's BestCrypt also encrypts entire disks and creates virtual disks. Both will let you encrypt a single file. PGP is well known. I've used both, like and recommend both. Both also work at the enterprise level -- PGP has more experience there -- including key recovery, although of course that means you can be forced to provide a key in response to a warrant or subpoena.

Personally, I like the belt and suspenders approach. Encrypt the entire disk with one program, then create a virtual disk with another program and put your critical information on the virtual disk. A virtual disk works just like another "F" or "G" drive, but no one is going to get in absent your pass phrase.

Point being, till the law catches up with technology, use technology to protect your papers the way the Fourth Amendment used to.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Used to get high for a living

This one is for Drifty...

John Butler Trio -- Used to get high for a living.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Argument for Withdrawal (people getting it)

Other people are starting to get this too:

Is The Prospect Of Withdrawal Responsible For The Modest Security Gains In Iraq?

Much of the touted security gains have come in the Anbar province, a region that was not the target of Bush’s escalation. In fact, progress in Anbar pre-dated the surge and occurred while troop numbers were being reduced in the region.

The NIE states that local security arrangements such as those in Anbar province are being formed in response to imminent U.S. withdrawal, and that these “bottom up” security initiatives “represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months” -- ThinkProgress
As i noted in my post from earlier this month (8/11/2007)

Argument For Withdrawal
Of all the troops sent into Baghdad for the surge a number of them came from newly deployed units. But more than a significant number were pulled from Al-Anbar. This has had the affect of reducing pressure and removing targets of opportunity there. The locals have been trying quell sectarian violence and go after AQI themselves.

The 'Surge' is working alright, working as a demonstration of the value of withdrawal.
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