Saturday, October 20, 2007
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Friday afternoon that he was dismissing the case against New Times and that no charges would be pursued against the editors and writers involved in the case.
Thomas also said he was dismissing special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, who had pursued the case on the county's behalf.
Thomas said that mistakes were made, that the case had been grossly mishandled and that he was uncomfortable with where the case had gone.
I'm not sure how much the attention of the blogs helped move this case, but it certainly feels good to see a wrong righted.
I see that Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey "isn't sure" whether waterboarding is "torture". Well, I can think of one surefire way to find out. As a part of his confirmation hearing, he should be waterboarded on the senate floor while being questioned. I realize that this may be rather cruel, but it would make the "torture" question quite clear to the American people and the world. If Mukasey can go through the waterboarding and then say "that wasn't torture", I suppose it would then be legitimate, but I'd bet on the opposite. And then we could end the practice for the good of America.
Old Fortnoy "Pete" Stark sure knows how to stir up a reaction when he speaks, doesn't he? Not that it's anything new. He's been bombastic throughout his years in politics. I've always liked Pete's "no more bullshit" style (he represents my Mom's district) and has plenty of courage to face the backlash. I'm not expecting him to apologize for his remarks; in fact I expect he'll just repeat them louder.
Added: I should mention that Stark is the only self-proclaimed atheist in congress.
My congressional candidate, Howard Shanker (http://www.howardshankerforcongress.com/) will be chatting over at Firedoglake at 11:00 am PT today. Feel free to go over and throw some questions at him. (and Howard, next time give me a little more timely heads up, would you please?).
Added: Howard did a very good job, fielding a wide variety of questions and giving strong, clear answers. I'll try to put some of them into a post soon, but I suggest you go read them.
Cold pizza makes a great Saturday breakfast food.
Friday, October 19, 2007
i was heartened to read that some dehydrated hikers were saved by helicopter in Sycamore Canyon. (have had plenty perilous experiences in the Southwest) But of course this wasn't front page news. What did make the bottom of the front page of the newspaper talked about the fact that- the wall being built to keep Mexicans out of The U.S. is mostly built of steel pipe that is emblazingly inscribed-"made in China" .
So during my morning break, i not only got to enjoy coffee and tobacco, but a hearty belly-laugh as well, as i am such the lover of irony.
The Phoenix New Times, a metropolitan alt-weekly, has occasionally been a thorn in the side of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and now the man with the badge has decided it's time for payback:The seemingly picayune matter of Sheriff Arpaio's home address getting printed at the bottom of an opinion column on our Internet site — and the very real issue of commercial property investments the sheriff hid from public view — have now erupted into a courtroom donnybrook against a backdrop of illegal immigration disputes, Mexican drug cartels, the Minutemen, political ambition, and turf disputes between prosecutors and the judiciary.
Which led to the following:In a grandiose insult to the Constitution, Arpaio, [Maricopa County Attorney Andrew] Thomas, and [special prosecutor Dennis] Wilenchik used the grand jury to subpoena the online profiles of anyone who viewed four specific articles on the sheriff.
And then they raised the ante:Energized, perhaps, by this mugging of Constitutional safeguards, Arpaio, Thomas, and Wilenchik then shot the moon. The grand jury subpoena also demands Web site profiles of anyone and everyone who visited New Times online over the past two and a half years, not merely readers who viewed articles on the sheriff.
The subpoena demands: "Any and all documents containing a compilation of aggregate information about the Phoenix New Times Web site created or prepared from January 1, 2004 to the present, including but not limited to:
A) which pages visitors access or visit on the Phoenix New Times website;
B) the total number of visitors to the Phoenix New Times website;
C) information obtained from 'cookies,' including, but not limited to, authentication, tracking, and maintaining specific information about users (site preferences, contents of electronic shopping carts, etc.);
D) the Internet Protocol address of anyone that accesses the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;
E) the domain name of anyone that has accessed the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;
F) the website a user visited prior to coming to the Phoenix New Times website;
G) the date and time of a visit by a user to the Phoenix New Times website;
H) the type of browser used by each visitor (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape Navigator, Firefox, etc.) to the Phoenix New Times website; and
I) the type of operating system used by each visitor to the Phoenix New Times website.Inasmuch as I read the New Times piece online, I assume they want my information, and if you followed the link, they presumably want yours
Toughest Sheriff" apparently has America's Thinnest Skin.Two top executives of Village Voice Media, the parent company of the Voice, were arrested Thursday night and released from jail early Friday morning for revealing information about a secret grand jury proceeding in a story in the Phoenix New Times.
"Sheriff Joe" has been a wacko for years, but now he's gone WAY too far. Going for the information on EVERYONE who read an online news site is a clear violation of the constitution, but in our current climate, apparently the Grand Jury allowed it.
I'm not sure that the FISA bill matters. These people believe that their authority is above the law.
Added: While I'm not sure that it's related, our federal attorney general was one of the one's removed during the AG purge, and the "interim" acting AG was Gonzo's choice. Hell of a way to run a "justice" system.
Our shrub said this earlier this week (a truly scary statement, given the past rhetoric):
After meeting with President Ahmadinejad in Iran earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his support for Iran's nuclear energy program. He has also said he sees no evidence Iran is looking to build a nuclear bomb.
Mr. Bush said Wednesday he looks forward to having Mr. Putin clarify his remarks. He said Mr. Putin told him last month at the APEC summit in Australia that the world must ensure that Iran does not have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.
Iran's chef nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Wednesday Mr. Putin has put forward a proposal regarding Iran's nuclear program during talks with Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Larajani did not elaborate.
THE PRESIDENT: I think so long -- until they suspend and/or make it clear that they -- that their statements aren't real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it's in the world's interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian -- if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.
But this -- we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we'll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.
There is a simple way to resolve this: Work with Russia and the IAEA to insure that Iran's nuclear program is for energy and not for weapons. If we had a mature administration, we would be engaging in dialogue with Iran. After all, we really could use their help next door:
BAGHDAD, Oct. 17 — Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday. Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities at a time of heightened tension with Iran.
The Iraqi electricity minister, Karim Wahid, said that the Iranian project would be built in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad that is controlled by followers of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr. He added that Iran had also agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
The expansion of ties between Iraq and Iran comes as the United States and Iran clash on nuclear issues and about what American officials have repeatedly said is Iranian support for armed groups in Iraq. American officials have charged that Iranians, through the international military wing known as the Quds Force, are particularly active in support of elite elements of the Mahdi Army, a militia largely controlled by Mr. Sadr.
An American military official in Baghdad said that while he had no specific knowledge of the power plant contracts, any expansion of Iranian interests was a concern for the military here.
We've heared a lot about Iran "meddling" in Iraq, which is almost absurd in light of the reality of our occupation of Iraq. While we may not like it, Iran has a vested interest in the stability of the country next door, and many reasons to oppose a foreign power occupying it. And, given that after four and a half years and $5 billion dollars, Iraqi's still have less electricity now than they did prior to our invasion, maybe we could use their help.
Don't get me wrong. I'm well aware that the Iranian regime is hostile toward America (not surprising, given the history). But previous administrations found ways to negotiate and work with hostile regimes to achieve common goals. It's a lot more beneficial than going to war with them.
Our nation spent more tax money conducting Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, than they did in the investigation of the September 11th 2001 attacks on the United States. Many Americans fail to see the logic behind this.
The article is a comprehensive catalogue of G.O.P. (gross obstructionist perverts) sex scandals, if you enjoy that sort of thing.
Then they do things like this:
Why do the Democrats let the GOP walk all over them only to get a swift kick at the end? I know the majority is slim, but to give more money to one of the worst programs ever funded by Congress was downright stupid. To get it vetoed afterwards is just salt in the wound.
To entice Republicans to support the bill, the House of Representatives agreed to increase money for abstinence-only sex education by $28 million, to a total of about $200 million a year. Abstinence-only courses, the only form of federally financed sex ed, teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to cause psychological and physical harm.
If that were true, our health care system would be not only broken, but besieged. A 2002 survey found that 93 percent of American adults had had premarital sex by the age of 30.
In addition to provoking shame about a nearly universal activity, abstinence-only sex education is ineffective and dangerous. Last April, a 10-year study found that students who took abstinence-only courses were no more likely to abstain from sex than other students. Previous studies revealed that abstinence-only students avoid using contraception.
Talk about conflicted. There's a whole potential dissertation on conservatives and sexuality. But I really would hate to be the one doing the research.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government’s domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.
The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons. No more.
I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegally providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.
I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.
Good for him! Thanks for not being a "spelunker", but an actual Democrat.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I helped a friend get her furnace up and working for the winter. Wasn't that much work, but she likes to smoke certain herbs, and...well...so I did.
Then I went to the brewery for a beer.
As I was talking with two women who are both local "artists", I found myself involved in a debate about "abstract art" and the human brain. Both women are in the process of getting divorced, and were talking about it's impact on their "art" (for the record, I think one is a really good artist. The other one's work doesn't strike any chord with me. But what do I know about art?), but then they started talking about divorce and endorphins, and how they impact the creative process. I wanted to say "you've both made art for years. Do you need drama to make art?", but I didn't.
On the other side was a debate between Sweaterman and Ghandisxmas about Israel and Iran, and the influence of AIPAC. Normally, I would have jumped right in. But I was either stoned or confused, so I passed.
(OK, throw in gastro-intestinal issues that made me want to go home. Have you ever had a case of flatulence that was bad enough that you wouldn't want to be in public?)
A flood of beer swept through the streets of St. Giles, England, on 17 October 1814. Caused by a rupture in a brewery tank containing 3500 barrels of beer, the tidal wave killed nine people and demolished two houses.
Yeah, I'm not blogging very seriously today. Sorry.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Noam the Dinosaur, as I've named her, has gobbled and widdled this house' once proud and weighted bookshelves of all their intellectual gildedness. Noam devoured everything from Plutarch to Sylvia Plath. We have like, two issues of Readers Digest left. She's really been a tough pet.
But she is also totally fucking awesome! How to put it? Noam moves like a cat and acts like a dog. Umm, a prodigious dog with the destructive capability of roughly 4 fairly large hippopatami. Noam is usually pretty good natured. She knows we disapprove of her devouring our library. I saw Noam regurgitate Chaucer, and bury it in the backyard somewhere for later. But this is also a creature that can narrow its eyes at you, as soon as beg for supplication. I reckon she is Jurassic or Ordovician and so so lost.
Well my frickin pet dinosaur got into my homebrew recently as it was fermenting; attenuating;flocculating in two 6.5 gal carboys that's 16lbs of two row malted barley, hops of Galena, Nugget, Kent Goldings and liquid yeast from Scotland. Two ninety minute mashes of 8 lbs of barley etc . Noam just sneaked her wily scales through my window and she apparently tore out the blow-off hoses of my fermentation cauldrons and sucked up every ounce of my hard-earned homebrew...
Noam was in the backyard, completely smashed, and sorry, from having imbibed 12 gallons of my homebrew. She was yawling and woefully guffawing mixed in with backwards Cenzoic parrot slurs, and puking. "Bad dinosaur!!!" Bad! Bad! Bad!" I said. Wow, she really puked a lot. It was so voluminous that i decided to collect it in the same carboys the inebriated saurian had plundered.
And now I have 12 gallons of dinosaur puke instead of pale ale. What is really strange is, it is still fermenting! LIKE CRAZY!
Well, whatever comes of this batch should probably be bottled
Today, I'm just plain confused by some of the news. Our shrub meets with the Dalai Lama, while in Iran, Vladimir Putin is meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Meanwhile, Turkey threatens action in Kurdish Iraq after the condemnation of the Armenian genocide of 1915. Rice plans a new mideast summit on Palestine, and nobody seems to know for sure what Isreal bombed in Syria.
I can't sort out all the different players, or their game strategy anymore. Where's the damned "insight" key on the keyboard?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Today is "Blog Action Day" for the environment, and I'm quite happy to join in. I guess we're supposed to post something on one "environmental issue" that we care about. In my case, there are so many that I have and will continue to write about. But here's one simple spot to start.
I do a lot of work on alternative fuels, but the fastest way to impact air pollution: drive less.
It really is that simple.
Personally, I choose to live car-free, because I can. But many people do need to drive to carry on their lives. The question becomes "do you NEED to drive to...?". Ask yourself before turning the key. Can you walk or bike instead? Use public transportation? Carpool?
If any of these alternatives are available, then please do not drive. The planet will thank you.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Which brings me to another major problem with our current political discourse: Professional politicians. It's not a Democratic vs. Republican or Liberal vs. Conservative issue. In the current climate of attack politics, the only people who enter the arena are motivated by a desire for power and money. They have no desire or motivation to truly represent the "people". The "people" aren't funding the campaigns that keep them in office. And in national politics, the campaign never ends. To remain in office, they're constantly running for office. Thus the "Professional Politician".
What a fornicating mess we have, where government "of the people, by the people, for the people" is no longer possible. No wonder the people hate politics.