Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More B&W

I was looking at the black and white world
It seemed so exciting
If you'd only put me back to back with that girl
When the night's inviting
With just a little lighting
There'll never be days like that again...

-- Black And White World, Elvis Costello

So once again I've been dabbling in the black (and white) arts, and want to share some of the results with you, my loyal readers. A few of these pictures came from my annual foray to the Carnaval parade and street fair this past weekend (including the first one, which is my new favorite); others from recent and distant travels and outings. This time I'm including a little information with each shot. Enjoy -- or, if you're of the same opinion as one of my nephews who, a number of years ago, told me in no uncertain terms that "black and white sucks!", don't. I'll leave it up to you. And as always, you can click on any picture for a larger version.

Smoking hearts, 24th and Bryant, SF. Carnaval '07.
El Diablo and some of the Bolivian contingent. Carnaval '07.
Yangshuo, China. This was just outside our hotel along the Li River.
A steamy night in Manhattan.
Nanjing Road, Shanghai, China, with the Pearl Tower in the background.
Making a connection in Prague.
Meat market in Chengdu, China. Taken by your humble blog host with Mrs. Generik's camera (because my battery had just died, and I didn't have the spare with me at the time).
One view of the London Eye.
The prettiest little girl in all of Russia at the complex of churches in Sergeyev Possad.
A door handle in Florence, Italy on an extremely hot and sunny day.
The Great Orme Tram, Llandudno, Wales.
Along Hadrian's Wall, northern England, near the border of Scotland.
Upstairs at the Musee D'Orsay, Paris.
A spectator watches the parade preparation for Carnaval along Bryant Street.
St. Stupid's Day '07, Washington Square, SF.
Winning over hearts and behinds minds; Carnaval '07.
GUM department store, Red Square at midnight.
This image of an overgrown cottage in Dublin is the first picture I took in Europe.
A drizzly afternoon along the Left Bank in Paris.
Spokes and feathers, Carnaval '07.
Three doors down, Harrison Street, SF.
Another photographer takes a break at the How Weird Street Faire (Howard Street, SF, '07).
The glory that was Rome is of another day...
At the train station in Carlyle, England.
Bamboo rafting on the Jade Dragon River near Yangshuo, China.
Arches and columns near the Uffizi in Florence.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Maher On Carter

From today's Salon, Bill Maher's take on why Jimmy Carter took back all the mean absolutely true and justifiable things he said about Preznit Birdshit:

When Democrats collapse

After Jimmy Carter caved to the Republican noise machine and took back his blast at President Bush, it's no surprise the party wimped out on the war.

By Bill Maher

May. 25, 2007 | New Rule: Jimmy Carter must be shipped off to Guantánamo, stripped to his tighty-whiteys and "waterboarded" as an enemy combatant. Last weekend, former U.S. President and current al-Qaida operative Jimmy Carter launched an unprovoked attack upon democracy, America and our troops in the field by telling the Arkansas Pennysaver that the Bush administration has been "the worst in history." And then he threatened President Bush by saying, "I'm going to get on a plane and fly out there and straighten your ass out."

As usual, we've been sucked into a phony controversy about who said what and how it hurt George W. Bush's feelings. Because when you hurt George W. Bush you hurt America's feelings, and when you hurt America's feelings, you hurt the troops. And when that happens, Tinkerbell's light goes out and she dies.

The Republican outrage machine is always invoking secret rules that liberals didn't know they broke. And apparently when you get to be president, they give you an employee's handbook titled "So You're Leader of the Free World -- Now What?" It tells you about the nuclear codes, where your parking space is, and to not talk smack about other presidents. But I was up all night on Wikipedia doing an exhaustive study of former presidents, and while other presidents have sucked in their own individual ways, Bush is like a smorgasbord of suck. He combines the corruption of Warren G. Harding, the abuse of power of Richard Nixon and the warmongering of James K. Polk.

I mean, who would you rank lower than George W. Bush? Nixon got in trouble for illegally wiretapping Democratic headquarters; Bush is illegally wiretapping the entire country. Nixon opened up relations with the Chinese; Bush let them poison your dog. Herbert Hoover sat on his ass through four years of calamity, but he was an actual engineer. If someone told him about global warming, he would have understood it before the penguins caught on fire. Ulysses Grant was a miserable drunk, but at least he didn't trade booze for Jesus and embolden the snake handlers -- he did the honorable thing and stayed a miserable drunk. Grant let his cronies loot the republic, but he won his civil war.

For some inexplicable reason Republicans have taken to comparing Bush to Harry Truman -- a comparison that would make sense only if Harry Truman had A) started World War II and B) lost World War II. Harding sucked, but he once said, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." So at least he knew he sucked. He never walked offstage like Bush does after one of his embarrassing press conferences with a look on his face like, "Nailed it." Bush still acts like every failure is just a friend he hasn't met yet.

Now, is it possible for a future president to perform as badly as Bush has? I suppose, theoretically, if we elect someone totally off the wall, like R. Kelly, or the reanimated corpse of Ted Williams, or Rudy Giuliani ... But let's be honest, we would have been better off over the past six years if the Oval Office had been occupied by an orangutan with a Magic 8-Ball. And that's why it's so depressing that when the right-wing noise machine pretended to get upset at what Jimmy Carter said, he did what Democrats always do and backed down. He said his remarks were careless and misrepresented and the sun was in his eyes and his hearing aid went out and he was molested by a clergyman.

They confronted him, and he took it all back. Which is what Democrats do. Why couldn't he have just said, "No, I meant what I said. And speaking as the first citizen of Habitat for Humanity, let me take out my toolbox and build you a house where we can meet and you can blow me." If a Democrat who's out of office and 100 years old can't speak out, what chance do we have for the ones who are in office? Like the ones who are in Congress now who, emboldened by widespread public approval of their plan to bring the troops home ... this week abandoned that plan. You see, you don't get to become the worst president ever without a little help from the other side.

-- By Bill Maher

Thursday, May 24, 2007


If I ever catch a ride with this cab driver, I'm giving him an extra big tip. Thanks to my pal Marty for the picture.


Keith Olbermann really takes the wood to the cowardly, vertebraically-challenged Democrats who decided they didn't want any part of a fight with that macho, macho man in the White House over ending the bloody debacle in Iraq. Many people consider Olbermann a liberal; personally, I think he's simply an objective journalist -- something that's in short supply these days. (Though I admit, I don't care for the part of his show that focuses on inane celebrities and American Idol bullshit.) Here's just a portion of his special comment; I urge you to follow the link and read the whole thing if you haven't read or heard it already.

  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.
You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.


For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.
  • Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats... have failed us.
    They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
  • Mr. Bush and his government... have failed us.
    They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course.
    That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.
    We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Another in my irregular series of Letters to the Editor of the SF Chronicle that most likely won't get published:

Editor --

So after putting up a modest fight with a petulant president who refuses to compromise on the issue of bringing troops home from Iraq -- something that nearly three-quarters of all Americans want, as shown consistently in recent polls -- the Democratic-controlled Congress decided it was somehow the better part of valor to cave in to the craven bully and give him exactly what he wanted all along ("Dems bow to Bush on funds for war," Chronicle, 5/23). Thank you, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid and your colleagues for selling us down the river. Remind me why we voted for you again -- I thought it was to help bring the bloody occupation of Iraq to an end. Apparently it was simply so you could continue the rubber-stamping process of the previous Republican Congresses in acquiescing to the criminal excesses and inept policies of the worst president in history.

I'm disgusted with all of them.

Love, Generik

(Cross-posted at the BARBARIAN Blog.)

Monday, May 21, 2007


I've been playing around with some of my recent (and not-so-recent) photos, and wanted to see what a few of them would look like in black and white. To me, B&W is real photography, so much richer and more expressive than color. What's great about digital is the ability to make so many adjustments so easily -- it used to be that you would have to spend hours in a darkroom to get an image just the way you wanted it. Now all it takes are a few keystrokes.

Anyway, here are some photos I manipulated recently and liked the way they turned out. As always with images here, you can click on these for a larger version.

Random Flickr Blogging Monday: No Clever Title

Only one today, because after I picked this one, every other choice I made turned out to be the dreaded spaceball.gif (does anyone know how to get past that?), and I got frustrated.

Yet another second-tier Superhero, Lounge Lizard Man has the power to tell jokes so lame and sing songs so vapid that criminals are paralyzed with open-mouthed disbelief. "Thank you, I'll be here fighting crime all week! Try your waitress! Tip the buffet!" Ba-DUM! ssssss.

(Original image, #5183, posted here. Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Two corrections from items recently posted here:

First, obviously John Aravosis (and anyone else in DC who was buzzing last night) was wrong about little Alberto Just Sign On The Dotted Line, Sick Boy Gonzales having anything close to the moral character or sense of ethics to resign. Not sure why I even posted that; maybe just because I want to see it happen so badly. But given his propensity to stonewall, obfuscate and cheerfully lie through his teeth in defense of his lord and master Bush, it seems that it may take a genuine Act of Congress to remove him from office. Can we start today? How about Monday? Does Monday work for you?

Second, one of my pals and semi-regular readers (hello, Jazz!) points out that I took it perhaps a little too easy on Jerry Falwell and his untimely demise. I said that I wasn't sorry, and that I was never a fan of the man in any way, shape or form. What I meant to say was that I was sorry the bigoted, homophobic, sexist, racist, sanctimonious, hate-mongering, clueless and banally evil sonofabitch had missed the Rapture and had died apparently rather peacefully, instead of in a horribly long and drawn out tortured, screaming, bloody debacle.

To sum up in a good news/bad news format: The bad news is that Alberto Gonzales remains ensconced in the office of Attorney General. The good news is that Jerry Falwell remains dead.

The Generik Brand regrets the errors.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Gonzo At Last?

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog is saying that Washington DC is abuzz with the rumor that little Alberto You Must Be *This Tall* To Subvert The Constitution Gonzales is set to resign some time this evening.

Oh, I hope I hope I hope I hope I hope I hope...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bumper Sticker

One of the best bumper stickers I've seen lately:

Fermez la

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Investigate, Impeach, Indict, Imprison

What, exactly, will it take to bring down this most corrupt administration, this most inept and unqualified gang of liars and crooks, this motley crew that is by far the most disregarding of the Constitution and the rule of law ever seen in American history? Do we need any more evidence that the president and his cronies have acted illegally, have committed felonies, have defied both the spirit and the letter of the law and need to be brought to justice?

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey's riveting testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday makes it clear in no uncertain terms that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and a host of lesser toadies and sycophants are guilty of no less than the high crimes and misdemeanors that, Constitutionally, demand impeachment. It's been written and talked about before, but now it can no longer be denied or danced around -- the Bush White House engaged in patently illegal wiretapping of American citizens. They broke the law. Their own Justice Department -- before little Ass High To A Chicken Gonzales got in the AG's seat and trashed the department by politicizing it and blithely signing off on any abuse BushCo demanded -- refused to certify their actions, because they knew they were illegal. John Frickin' Ashcroft, a man for whom there is no love lost in this quarter, at least had the decency to recognize a crime when he saw it, and would not go along with its commission.

So the Bush gang simply forged ahead without the required DoJ sign-off. Their own goddamn lawyers told them what they were doing was not lawful, but they went ahead and did it anwyay. They have zero regard for the law of this land. They apparently believe that they are not subject to such trivialities as statutes and courts and acts of Congress. They are above all that.

Here's Glenn Greenwald on the subject in today's Salon:

"The overarching point here, as always, is that it is simply crystal clear that the President consciously and deliberately violated the law and committed multiple felonies by eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law. . . .

"What more glaring and clear evidence do we need that the President of the United States deliberately committed felonies, knowing that his conduct lacked any legal authority? And what justifies simply walking away from these serial acts of deliberate criminality? At this point, how can anyone justify the lack of criminal investigations or the appointment of a Special Counsel? The President engaged in extremely serious conduct that the law expressly criminalizes and which his own DOJ made clear was illegal. . . .

"How is this not a major scandal on the level of the greatest presidential corruption and lawbreaking scandals in our country's history? Why is this only a one-day story that will focus on the hospital drama but not on what it reveals about the bulging and unparalleled corruption of this administration and the complete erosion of the rule of law in our country? And, as I've asked times before, if we passively allow the President to simply break the law with impunity in how the government spies on our conversations, what don't we allow?

"If we had a functioning political press, these are the questions that would be dominating our political discourse and which would have been resolved long ago."

It's simply outrageous that this scandal -- which came to light long ago, and was essentially ignored by a rubber-stamp, do-nothing Congress and a compliant, easily-distracted media -- has been allowed to go on all this time with no investigations, no oversight, no outrage (other than here in the netroots and in a few select media outlets) and no criminal charges filed as of yet. George Bush is a criminal. Dick Cheney is a criminal. Alberto Gonzales is a criminal. The entire Bush administration is made up of lawbreakers. It's long past time to bring them all to justice.

Impeach them all. Now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So Long, Falwell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and the so-called Moral Majority, is dead today at the age of 73. This is not really a surprise in one sense, as, to paraphrase Hank Williams, "No matter how you struggle and strive, you'll never get out of this world alive." It was not expected, though, and did happen rather suddenly. So it goes.

But I'm not going to pretend that I'm sorry it happened. I was never a fan of the man in any way, shape or form, and I think he was responsible for a lot of the ills that are plaguing America today. He was one of the major influences on today's increasingly authoritarian and theocratic-leaning Republican party, and though he may be dead today, his legacy will live on for some time to come -- unfortunately, from my point of view.

I'm sure many of his supporters believe that he is now "in a better place," sitting on a cloud discussing philosophy with Jesus while angels strum harps; probably just as many of his detractors are picturing him mopping his sweat-covered brow and asking for a glass of ice water right about now. My own personal belief is that the same thing happened to him that happens to everyone who shuffles off this mortal coil: The light goes out, consciousness fades, and that's it. It's all over, buh-bye. It's like binary, either 1 or 0. Either on or off. He was 1, now he's 0. He was on, now he's off. End of story.

So long, Jerry, and thanks for all the viciousness.

Monday, May 14, 2007

If It's Monday, This Must Be Random Flickr Blogging

They asked me if I would let Jesus come and live in my heart forever, and I told them no, but that he was welcome to hang out in the garden for the rest of the afternoon, provided he didn't make too much noise or scare the cat.
"Come on, Sven and Oly! Come on Jorgi! Let's go, Bjorn! We'll be greeted as liberators, I'm sure of it! Trust me, this will be a cakewalk!"
Doctors successfully separated the strangest case of conjoined twins ever seen in the Northern Hemisphere this afternoon...
Flashing a well-known gang sign, little Timmy indicates to those in the know that he is down with the Baby Bloods, yo.
Spell-casting duels were all the rage at the second annual E-Z-Bake Coven gathering in Wickham, Massachusetts.

"You're a scheming, money-hungry, castrating shrew!" *poof!*

"You're a self-centered, unfaithful, abusive drunk!" *poof!*
Unable to fill his father's big shoes, Bozo Jr. makes a sketchy living these days by selling memorabilia on eBay and collecting spare change at random frat parties.

(Original images, #2193, posted here, here, here, here, here and here. Random Flickr Blogging, for those of you who are unclear on the concept, explained in full by Tom Hilton here.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Random 10 + 8

Over at my pied a terre one of my regular online stops, If I Ran the Zoo, my colleague Tom Hilton puts up a regular post every Friday, called the Random 10. This is a meme that's gone around for years now; you simply play your iPod or MP3 player on shuffle for a while, then record the first ten songs you hear. I already made my contribution to his post in the comments section there today -- I used a list of ten songs that had played on my iPod earlier in the week -- but I just got back from my after-lunch walk, and wanted to record the songs I listened to while out walking around the bay, because I thought it was a good strong set.

My typical walk takes me one hour and is 3.5 miles long, which means that I walk at a pace of... hang on, let me do the math... 5,280 feet in a mile... carry the 1... multiplied by pi... 3.5 miles an hour. Not bad for an old guy, who listens to (mostly) old songs that no one else would ever listen to by choice. So in that time, I typically listen to anywhere from 12-20 songs, depending on the length of the songs themselves. Today I got to hear 18 before I got back to my desk. Here they are, in the order that they came up:

1. Bad Company - "Bad Company" Bad Company
2. Aretha Franklin - "Respect" Atlantic Rhythm And Blues 1947-1974
3. John Mayer - "Neon" Room For Squares
4. Lord Creator - "Kingston Town" Pure Reggae
5. The Beatles - "Things We Said Today" A Hard Day's Night
6. The Black Keys - "10 A.M. Automatic" Rubber Factory
7. Madness - "My Girl" The Stiff Records Box Set
8. The Kinks - "Susannah's Still Alive" The Kink Kronikles
9. Paul Thorn - "Burn Down The Trailer Park" Burn Down The Trailer Park
10. The Clash - "Brand New Cadillac" London Calling
11. Thunderclap Newman - "Something In The Air" The British Invasion: The History of British Rock
12. John Hiatt - "Long Night" Slug Line
13. Los Lonely Boys - "Dime Mi Amor" Los Lonely Boys
14. Sir Douglas Quintet - "She's About A Mover" 1965: The Beat Goes On
15. Bob Dylan - "Nobody 'Cept You" The Bootleg Series
16. Lou Reed - "Dime Store Mystery" New York
17. Elvis Costello - "Suit Of Lights" King Of America
18. Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble - "Riviera Paradise" In Step

Feel free to add your own 10+ however many list, ridicule my selections or just stop in and say howdy in the comments.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Conyers Sums It Up

From today's War Room comes this explanation of why the purge of U.S. Attorneys is important (there's plenty more there about Little Alberto "Short of the Truth" Gonzales' testimony before Congress today; check it out):

Why it matters

If anyone is unclear about why the U.S. attorneys scandal matters, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers just laid it out pretty clearly as he prepared to take testimony from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

"I am sure we agree -- you and I -- that any hint or indication that the department may not be acting fairly and impartially in enforcing the nation's laws, or in choosing the nation's law enforcers, has ramifications far beyond the department itself, and casts doubt upon every action or inaction your office and your employees take.

"So, when we learn that several U.S. attorneys were added to the termination list only after they decided to pursue criminal investigations involving Republican officials, or after complaints that they were not pursuing investigations against Democrats, we must insist that we understand exactly how this came into existence and how the list itself of those discharged came into existence.

"When we learn that most of the U.S. attorneys forced to resign were among the highest rated and most able in the nation, that they were told that they were being displaced to create a bigger Republican farm team while others were retained because they were 'loyal Bushies,' it creates the impression that the department has placed partisan interests above the public interest.

"When a respected former career attorney at the Civil Rights Division testifies that he has been directed to alter performance evaluations based on political considerations, when I receive an anonymous letter, apparently from Department of Justice employees, complaining that candidates for career positions have been subjected to political litmus tests, and when the attorney general has secretly delegated his authority to hire and fire non-civil service employees, this calls into question the department's commitment to fair and impartial justice.

"When the White House gives us a take-it-or-leave-it offer for a one-time, off-the-record interview, without transcripts, which I've referred to as 'meet us at the pub for fish and chips so we can talk,' which no self-respected investigator would accept, makes open-ended claims of executive privilege, and loses or destroys millions of e-mails relevant to our investigation, one asks whether the administration is trying to cover up two simple truths: who created the list and why.

"And when we learned this morning, page one, Washington Post, that another U.S. attorney in Missouri was forced out, contrary to repeated assurances that the eight U.S. attorneys whose circumstances we've been examining for the past few months were the entire list, it makes us wonder when we will get the entire report, a truthful report about this matter."

The rejoinder from Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee: "If there are no fish in this lake," Congress should "reel in our lines, dock our empty boat, and return to more pressing issues."

-- Tim Grieve

Feline Imperialism

Things have changed since I was a kid. Specifically, geography. I never knew, for instance, that Australia is now located halfway between Cuba and Jamaica.

At least, that's the only circumstance I can come up with that explains the joyful noise put forth by the Aussie band The Cat Empire (see also Wikipedia entry, here), who I caught at the Grand Ballroom in SF last night. They sound like no one else I've ever heard. Their music is a marriage of Latin beats and reggae riddims -- skalsa? -- with elements of jazz, funk and even hip-hop thrown in for good measure. The band is comprised of a keyboard player, a bass player, a drummer, a DJ who also plays percussion and two front men, one of whom sings and plays trumpet, while the other sings and plays congas and timbales (NO guitar!). They are joined on occasion by a number of other musicians, mostly horn players, but last night it was just the basic core six.

Some of you may have heard the single Sly, from their most recent album Two Shoes, which is getting some local airplay here and in other parts of the country. That was my first exposure to them, and the upbeat, almost sloppy exuberance of that song is enough to intrigue most anyone with an ear for new sounds. They played that, stretching it out as they did most songs, and just about everything else off the new album, plus a new song that they said they are in the process of recording, and they absolutely killed. I couldn't get over how unique their sound was; kind of English Beat meets the Buena Vista Social Club (or maybe Los Van Van), but definitely their own and nobody else's.

What was really worth going for, though, was simply the enthusiasm they showed, and the obvious enjoyment they had of performing. I've seen literally thousands of concerts over the past 35 years, and far too many have been rote, by-the-numbers, phone-it-in-and-let's-get-back-on-the-bus affairs that you just know had been and would be repeated night after night after night, with the same between-song banter and the same jokes and the same segues done so many times in a row that the musicians could (and, I swear, sometimes did) do them in their sleep. I didn't get that impression at all last night. The joy those guys projected was infectious, and they had the 2/3 capacity crowd dancing up a storm all the way through. I was damn glad to be a witness to it and a part of it.

If you don't own Two Shoes, go out today and buy it. If The Cat Empire is going to be playing anywhere near your town soon (they're in Los Angeles tonight), go out and buy a ticket right now. Highly, highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Come Back To The Five And Dime, Habeas Corpus, Habeas Corpus

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post in today's Salon about the need for Congressional Democrats to restore habeas corpus, and soon. He argues that it was in large part done away with (through the passage of the Military Commissions Act last September) because of Democratic spinelessness and cowardice in the face of the 2006 elections -- too many Dems were afraid of being labeled "soft on terror," even though the ones who were silent or who went along with the passage of that heinous act were still labeled as such afterward -- and so it is now incumbent on them to rectify their error and rescind the worst parts of that bill. I think he's absolutely right, and that restoring habeas should have been at the top of Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid's priority lists when Congress first came into session.

Here's Glenn:

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is, without question, the single worst law enacted during the Bush presidency, and is one of the most destructive laws passed in the last several decades. It is not merely a bad law. It vests in the President the power to detain people indefinitely with no meaningful opportunity to contest the government's accusations. That is the very power the Founders sought first and foremost to prohibit.

More significantly, whether a country permits its political leaders to imprison people arbitrarily and with no process is one of the few defining attributes dividing free and civilized countries from lawless tyrannies. Or, as Thomas Jefferson put it in his 1789 letter to Thomas Paine: "I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." To vest the President with the power to imprison people indefinitely with no charges is fundamentally to transform the type of country we are.

House Democrats are apparently now debating whether to vote on a bill to restore habeas corpus. Matt Stoller provides some of the legislative details and information needed to pressure them to do so, and he explains why quick action is required. This morning, The New York Times and even The Washington Post editorialized in favor of habeas restoration. It would be a profound -- and truly inexcusable -- abdication of Democrats' responsibilities for them to do anything other then devote full-scale efforts to restoring habeas corpus...

Needless to say, fear of appearing "soft on terrorism" is the primary impediment to habeas restoration. That fear is absurd. The Republicans' principal weapon in 2006 was the fear-mongering claim that Democrats were weak on terrorism because they oppose warrantless eavesdropping, "coercive interrogations," and lawless detentions. And yet Republicans were crushed in that election. It's not 2002 any more; the country has tuned out those sorts of scare tactics and that manipulative weapon has been overused and is impotent.

Moreover, this is not a hard argument to make, but in order for it to be understood, the argument needs to be made. Americans understand instinctively that to allow someone to contest accusations against them is not tantamount to allowing them to go free. It is easily conveyed that a critical aspect for punishing terrorists is to ensure that we only punish actual terrorists but provide a process whereby innocent people are not wrongfully imprisoned for life. If Democrats engage that debate, rather than run from it again, it is not difficult to make that case.

I can't emphasize enough just how bad this law is, and what a fundamental difference it makes in who and what we are as a people and a nation. The loss of habeas corpus -- a right that has been in existence for some 900 years; the one right that allows anyone to challenge an accuser in court, to keep from being locked up forever on the abitrary and capricious whim of a tyrant, with no recourse -- is monumental. It completely redefines America. Habeas corpus is the single most fundamental right that any and all free people should enjoy and cherish. Instead, the 109th Congress shamelessly let George W. Bush wad it up like so much used Kleenex, toss it into a bin of burning trash and then piss on the ashes. If it's true, as Preznit No Rights For You says, that Islamic terrorists "hate us for our freedom," then I sure hope someone sent them all a copy of the MCA when it passed so that they can start loving us a little more soon.

Read the whole article, then contact your Congressional representatives and tell them to restore America to its former place as the land of the free. Otherwise we're all screwed, and maybe for good.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Random Flickr Blogging Monday : yadnoM gniggolB rkcilF modnaR

What's worse than peanut butter on the roof of your mouth? Jellyfish on your wall.
Belinda's class would have been much more impressed with her demonstration of psychic surgery if she'd performed it on an actual human being. As it was, the handful of chicken gizzards and fake blood coming out of a crash test dummy just wasn't all that impressive.
The Last Supper Club band. Available for weddings, parties and crucifixions nightly.
A seemingly innocent round of "rock-paper-scissors" turned sinister recently when Satan was invoked, trumping all other hand gestures and capturing the souls of those involved.
"Look, mom! He followed me home from the Ren Faire, and he's been fauning over me ever since! Can I keep him?"

(Original images, #3655, posted here, here, here, here and here. Random Flickr Blogging explained in more detail than anyone could possibly have ever imagined by the meticulous Tom Hilton here.)
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