Tag Archives: rights

Cool Dark Rock

06-09-12

I wanted to play something cool, something a little dark, and something that rocks tonight. Perhaps I was inspired by the politicians in the news, and all the pernicious trash that seems to be poking out from every cool, dark rock around.

PLAYLIST
In The Hall Of The Mountain King – Sounds Incorporated
I´ve Loved You – The Music Machine
Instrumental Duet – Bela Fleck
Ray Gun Suitcase – Pere Ubu
The Darker Days Of Me & Him – PJ Harvey
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Elvis Costello
I Wanna Rule The World – 10cc
2/1 – Brian Eno
All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands – Sufjan Stevens
She Is Staggering – Polaris
Fools – The Dodos
Change My Life – Spoon
Rumble – Link Wray
Baby, Please Don’t Go – Them
Bloodstains (Darkness Version) – Agent Orange
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Red Right Hand – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Guitar Solo 6 from ‘Dead Man’ – Neil Young
Bad Trip – Bo Diddley
Insanity Creeping – The Flow
Castles Made Of Sand – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Sittin’ On Top Of The World – Howlin’ Wolf
Free Ride – The Illinois Speed Press
Overture – The Collectors
White Room – Cream
When I Was Young – Eric Burdon & The Animals
Cool It Down – The Velvet Underground
Évasion de Julien – Miles Davis
The Old Revolution – Leonard Cohen

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-06-09: Cool Dark Rock by The Stranger on Mixcloud

Even though Money Romney is trying to distract you from his social issues, he and his champagne campaign neglect the American voter’s intellect by implying that social issues and economic issues are not intertwined.

“Mitt Romney is pro-life,” senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said. “He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”

via In These Times:

But the distinction between “economic” issues and “social” ones is inherently false, particularly as it pertains to reproductive choice. The economy isn’t separate from issues of choice, nor is it separate from any issue we might refer to as a “woman’s issue.” (Which, one hopes, extends beyond the simple matter of whether to have a baby.)

An economic downturn can alter the course of even a planned pregnancy. Since the recession, more people have been demanding contraceptive services, and more of them have been seeking abortions.

Poor women are more likely to terminate unintended pregnancies than their more well-to-do counterparts,” explains one study.” As more women and families fall below the poverty line and are otherwise constrained by financial circumstances, abortion rates can be expected to rise.”

Economic violence is real violence. It impacts people. It changes lives. And it’s what conservative fiscal policies enact. Cutting social programs such as domestic violence shelters (which are actually needed more often during times of economic strain), denying necessary insurance coverage for reasons of personal religious belief, or attacking institutions like Planned Parenthood that provide affordable reproductive health care, doesn’t strengthen the economy in any way. What it does is penalize the poor, making them less able to access contraception, and more likely, if they are pregnant, to need the abortions that Romney, as a potential “pro-life President,” would claim to abhor.

But as we’ve seen, Romney likes to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to court both Santorum-covered Bible Belters and critical-thinking independent moderates (some might point out that these are mutually exclusive). He wants to put aside social issues in favor of economic ones, but can’t seem to defend himself on either. He wants to get credit for good business sense running a private equity firm and earning capital gains, but can’t withstand criticism about his affluent, privileged status, low effective tax rate, or corporate-raiding, job-cutting image. He wants to claim that his programs as governor or Massachusetts created jobs, but that Obamacare (modeled on his own Romneycare) destroys jobs. It’s all a classic case of projection.

via TPM:

On Sunday, the campaign defended the former Massachusetts governor’s jobs record, arguing that the state’s 47th in job creation ignores the improvement made between the beginning and end of Romney term. But when it comes to attacking President Obama’s jobs record, the Romney campaign doesn’t always apply the same standard.

For example, the campaign’s press secretary Andrea Saul sang a different tune last month:

“President Obama hasn’t created a net single new job … Since he started his presidency, he has not created any jobs. Not when you look at the full picture of the economy.”

It’s a fine line for the campaign to walk, as it simultaneously uses averages and “net” jobs numbers to insist that Obama’s jobs record is sub-par. Romney adviser Kerry Healey said “Averages are an unfair measure of a chief executive’s record.”

And surely the Obama administration gets none of that benefit of the doubt, despite the bleeding having stopped, and some minor-if-not-exactly-celebratory progress being made, all despite the best efforts of the Republican party. Many are now charging economic sabotage at the hands of the GOP.

“I don’t have any doubt at this point — the Republicans are clearly rooting for recession as hard as they can,” said veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, who believes the Obama campaign should aggressively make the argument. “People need to know what’s happening and there’s nothing wrong with explaining it. Republicans’ actions give more and more credibility to [the notion], and if independent voters become convinced of it they’ll be furious.”

Lately the charge has taken on a new vigor, from progressive commentary to the highest echelons of the Democratic totem pole. Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod last Sunday said Republicans have been “high-fiving each other on days when there is bad news.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday pointedly accused House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) of seeking to sabotage the economy for partisan gain.

Survey data from late last year suggest the public can be sold.

Proponents have pointed to the broader GOP lock-step opposition to Obama’s agenda, to Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) “Waterloo” remark and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s infamous 2010 quote, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Economics writers also question why Republicans have turned sharply against deficit spending to boost the economy since Obama took office, after having historically supported the concept while in power. Last year’s self-inflicted debt ceiling near-crisis shook confidence in Congress’s ability to carry out its most basic functions, and Republicans are signaling a return to the same brinkmanship as early as later this year.

But of course, despite all their madness, some Republicans are going off-message (or: ‘Gone Clinton‘) on the economy.

Conservative Utah Republican Liljenquist voiced support for the Glass-Steagell bank regulation. Liljenquist said he is a “huge Mitt Romney supporter” and vowed that he would “use every ounce of my training at Bain Consulting and in the private sector to dive into the financial issues of our time.”

“When you take the downside of that behavior away, then people engage in riskier and riskier and riskier behavior,” he said. “And that’s what happened with Wall Street. They got away from all good lending practices, they got away from all rationality, they leveraged themselves up 42 to 1 on the dollar thinking, you know what, if this goes south, we’ll get ours and everything will be fine.”

And the former (conservative) justice who led the dissent says he’s increasingly convinced that Citizen’s United won’t stand the test of time.

In a speech at the University of Arkansas, retired Justice John Paul Stevens argued that events since the decision “provide a basis to expect that the Court already has had second thoughts about the breadth of the reasoning” and will likely return to its 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

Stevens noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion did not explicitly address the possibility that the decision could open up the floodgates for foreign entities to bankroll U.S. elections. It’s a notion that President Obama warned of in his 2010 State of the Union.

When the justices carve out exceptions, argued Stevens, they will “create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion.”

“[T]he Court must then explain its abandonment of, or at least qualify its reliance upon, proposition that the identity of the speaker is an impermissible basis for regulating campaign speech,” Stevens said. “It will be necessary to explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection to the campaign speech of some non-voters than to that of other non-voters.”

“I think it necessarily follows that such speech made or financed by the terrorist organization itself would receive no constitutional protection,”  If foreign entities are barred from bankrolling U.S. elections, then the court is conceding that “the identity of some speakers may provide a legally acceptable basis for restricting speech.” Not only would that require the court to explicitly explain why corporations meet the standard (Stevens argues they shouldn’t because they can’t vote), it would also bring into question the blurring of lines between issue advocacy and campaign speech in Citizens United.

In other words, politics has changed fundamentally: the old style bosses are out and a new style media system driven in. Politics is now a business with advertising specialists, market researchers and pollsters all fostering polarization and continuing crisis so that their counsel will be solicited more often. Increasingly, political campaigns are run like military commands with centralized top-down direction, defensive and offensive strategies and tactics as well as psychological warfare.

Campaign gurus are well schooled in the techniques of perception management. This same techniques are also used to sell war, concrete proposals and results are less important than perception and image. Politics is now a growing industry with money and politics more joined at the hip than ever and an interest in keeping the big money flowing into its bank account.

This has been a slow and nefarious evolution going back to Reagan, or even Nixon. As economist Paul Krugman points out, as America may be entering another Depression, it’s time to stimulate, not enact austerity (which will wreak havoc in Europe), or ‘Keynesian economics.’ And historically, conservatives like Reagan have been all-too-happy to spend on big government, when they control the White House, of course. Now they are using the crisis to their benefit.

“After there was a recession under Ronald Reagan, government employment went way up. It went up after the recessions under the first George Bush and the second George Bush,” Obama said last month on the campaign trail. “So each time there was a recession with a Republican president, we compensated by making sure that government didn’t see a drastic reduction in employment. The only time government employment has gone down during a recession has been under me.”

More broadly, federal spending growth under Obama has been remarkably low by historical standards. The pressure from the GOP and D.C. political elites, who have been hostile to Keynesian economics in recent years, has put the administration in a tough spot.

Reagan, not Obama, was the big spender. While there was a brief burst of government spending early in the Obama administration — mainly for emergency aid programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps — that burst is long past. Indeed, at this point, government spending is falling fast, with real per capita spending falling over the past year at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War.

Here’s the truth. America has a huge budget deficit hanging over our heads. America is currently suffering from a classic case of debt deflation. This is exactly the situation in which government spending should temporarily rise to offset the slump in private spending and give the private sector time to repair its finances.

If the rich don’t pay their fair share, the rest of us have to pay higher taxes — or do without vital public services like Medicare, Medicaid, Pell grants, food stamps, child nutrition, federal aid to education, and more.

Republicans say we shouldn’t raise taxes on the rich when the economy is still in the dumps. This is a variation on their old discredited trickle-down economic theories. The fact is, the rich already spend as much as they’re going to spend. Raising their taxes a bit won’t deter them from buying, and therefore won’t hurt the economy.

In reality, Romney and the GOP are pushing an agenda that has nothing whatever to do with reducing the budget deficit. If they were serious about deficit reduction they wouldn’t demand tax cuts for the very wealthy.

We should have learned by now. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 were supposed to be temporary. Even so, they blew a huge hole in the budget deficit. Millionaires received a tax cut that’s averaged $123,000 a year, while the median-wage worker’s tax cut has amounted to no more than a few hundreds dollars a year. Bush promised the tax cuts would more than pay for themselves in terms of their alleged positive impact on the economy. The record shows they didn’t.

Romney and the Republicans are pushing a reverse-Robin Hood plan that takes from the middle class and the poor while rewarding the rich.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Romney’s tax plan would boost the incomes of people earning more than $1 million a year by an average of $295,874 annually.

Meanwhile, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Romney’s plan would throw ten million low-income people off the benefits rolls for food stamps or cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or both. “These cuts would primarily affect very low-income families with children, seniors and people with disabilities,” the Center concludes.

Americans still hate the rich, according to yet another poll. Pew’s major Trends in American Values poll shows class resentments bridging the partisan divide:“Majorities in all educational and income groups agree that ‘today it’s really true that the rich just get richer while the poor get poorer.’ In the current survey, 76% of the public agrees with this statement, about the same as the 74% that agreed in 1987.”

Even the moderate pundit crowd’s beloved independents agree: Our ruling classes are worthless parasites. A mere 22 percent of “swing voters” “admire the rich.” (How many Romney supporters “admire the rich,” you ask? Thirty-eight percent. No one likes rich people.)

via Joseph Stiglitz:

Inequality in America has been widening for dec­ades. Warren Buffett put it well, “There’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years and my class has won.” The rich do not exist in a vacuum. They need a functioning society around them to sustain their position. Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable. There comes a point when inequality spirals into economic dysfunction for the whole society, and even the rich pay a steep price.

When one interest group holds too much power, it succeeds in getting policies that help itself in the short term at the expense of the rest of society in the long time.

Periods in which the broadest cross sections of Americans have reported higher net incomes – when inequality has been reduced, partly as a result of progressive taxation – have been the periods in which the U.S. economy has grown the fastest. It is no accident that the current recession, like the Great Depression, was preceded by large increases in inequality. When too much money is concentrated at the top of society, spending by the average American is necessarily reduced – Moving money from the bottom to the top lowers consumption because higher-income individuals consume, as a fraction of their income, less than lower-income individuals do.

The relationship is straightforward and ironclad: as more money becomes concentrated at the top, demand goes into a decline.

In a society in which inequality is widening, fairness is not just about wages and income, or wealth. It’s a far more generalized perception. Do I seem to have a stake in the direction society is going, or not? Do I share in the benefits of collective action, or not? If the answer is a loud “no,” then brace for a decline in motivation whose repercussions will be felt economically and in all aspects of civic life.

There is no good reason why the 1 percent, with their good educations, their ranks of advisers, and their much-vaunted business acumen, should be so misinformed. The 1 percent in generations past often knew better. They knew that there would be no top of the pyramid if there wasn’t a solid base – that their own position was precarious if society itself was unsound. Henry Ford, not remembered as one of history’s softies, understood that the best thing he could do for himself and his company was to pay his workers a decent wage, because he wanted them to work hard and he wanted them to be able to buy his cars. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a purebred patrician, understood that the only way to save an essentially capitalist America was not only to spread the wealth, through taxation and social programs, but to put restraints on capitalism itself, through regulation. Roosevelt and the economist John Maynard Keynes, while reviled by the capitalists, succeeded in saving capitalism from the capitalists.

According to Politico.com, the so-called “mega-donors,” unleashed by Citizens United and pouring boundless big bucks into this year’s political campaigns, are upset that their massive contributions are being exposed to public view, ignoring the right of every one of us to know who is giving money to candidates — and the opportunity to try to figure out why.

“Quit picking on us” is part of Politico‘s headline. Their article says that the mega-donors’ “six- and seven-figure contributions have… bought them nothing but grief.”

Wall Street titans have been whining for a couple of years now about the horror of people in politics criticizing ineffective banking regulations and the favorable tax treatment so many wealthy people receive… America’s barons feel assaulted, victimized, wounded, even!

Frank VanderSloot and his wealthy pals went ballistic and cried intimidation. “You go back to the Dark Ages,” VanderSloot said, “when they put these people in the stocks or whatever they did, or publicly humiliated them as a deterrent to everybody else — watch this — watch what we do to the guy who did this.”

Conservatives described the Obama ranking of Romney contributors as an “enemies list,” conjuring images of Nixonian wiretaps and punitive tax audits.

“Most of the megadonors backing [Romney’s] candidacy are elderly billionaires,” Tim Dickinson writes in Rolling Stone. “Their median age is 66, and their median wealth is $1 billion. Each is looking for a payoff that will benefit his business interests, and they will all profit from Romney’s pledge to eliminate inheritance taxes, extend the Bush tax cuts for the superwealthy — and then slash the top tax rate by another 20 percent.” As at least one of them has said, they view these cash infusions as an “investment,” plain and simple.

Not that Democrats are pure of heart and innocent. In fact, Adam Bonica, an associate political science professor at Stanford has put together a database indicating that since 1979, 377 members of the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans have given almost half a billion dollars to candidates of both parties, most of it in the last decade. The median contribution was $355,100 each.

And this, via Salon:

The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality has put together a new package of easy-to-digest “educational materials on trends in inequality.”

The slides now available at www.inequality.com are divided into 14 categories: debt, education, employment, family, gender, health, immigration, income, mobility, politics, poverty, race, violent crime, and wealth.

If you are poor, you are more likely to be in debt and have health problems, and less likely to get a quality education or have your priorities reflected in politics. Of course, that’s always been true, not just in the U.S., but everywhere.

What’s alarming is how, as the wealthiest Americans get a bigger and bigger share of the income pie, U.S. society is stratifying in dangerous, self-reinforcing directions.

For example, in 1972, families in the top income quintile spent an average of $3,536 annually on “enrichment expenditures” to “supplement their children’s opportunities to learn and develop.” The bottom quintile spent $835. Twenty-five years later, spending by the top quintile had more than doubled, to $8,872, while spending by the bottom quintile had only risen by about 50 percent, to $1,315, and had hardly budged at all since the early 1980s.

This may partially explain why college completion rates for richer Americans have risen faster than for poorer Americans.

Over the same time period in which the private sector unionization rate for men fell from 35 percent to 10 percent, the average CEO went from earning 25 times as much as the average worker in compensation to 262 times as much.

“Researchers who study mobility have consistently found that there is less mobility in the United States than in most other European and English speaking countries.”

So there’s the American Dream for you.

http://www.rt.com/s/swf/player5.4.swf

via In These Times (which I recommend all of you immediately subscribe to)

When a democracy functions properly, media revelations of executive branch misconduct typically result in an investigation by the legislative branch. Watergate epitomized this healthy dynamic— So when the New York Times this week ran the headline “Senate Will Investigate National Security Leaks About Terrorism ‘Kill List,’” it was a frightening sign that something has gone horribly wrong since the Woodward-and-Bernstein days.

Last week, the Times published an expose detailing how President Obama personally orders the execution of American citizens and foreigners that he labels “terrorists.” According to theTimes, this program deems “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”; allows the president to be judge, jury and executioner; and operates wholly outside of the law. Indeed, the Times reports that the administration justifies such dictatorial power by insisting that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process can now “be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.”

However, the memo laying out this utterly preposterous legal theory is secret—and, of course, hasn’t been ratified by any court.

As the Times noted in that subsequent follow-up story, Congress is focused not on shutting down—or even overseeing—the assassination program. It is instead focused on making sure those who blew the whistle on it are punished. Why? Because that will ensure that other such unauthorized programs can continue. As Sen. John McCain (R) made clear, he wants revelations of illegal activity halted and possibly prosecuted specifically because “such disclosures can only undermine similar ongoing or future operations.”

Rather than celebrating the heroes who expose wrongdoing and then stopping the illegal acts, the government is shooting the messengers in order to let the crimes continue.

That’s why this war on whistleblowers is not just some theoretical problem only for academics to debate or for foreigners to worry about. It represents a genuine domestic threat to democracy itself. If through our silence and complacency we allow that threat to expand, we shouldn’t be surprised when more of us are in the government’s crosshairs.

And if war-crime whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, or the countless others to be named are brought up on trumped up conspiracy, espionage, aiding the enemy, or treason charges, the penalties could be death.

In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals: “the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.” As The New York Times summarized those findings: “at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile” while “the bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals.”

This repellent practice continues. Over the last three days, the U.S. has launched three separate drone strikes in Pakistan: one on each day. As The Guardian reports, the U.S. has killed between 20 and 30 people in these strikes, the last of which, early this morning, killed between 8 and 15. It was the second strike, on Sunday, thattargeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike:

At the time of the attack, suspected militants had gathered to offer condolences to the brother of a militant commander killed during another US unmanned drone attack on Saturday. The brother was one of those who died in the Sunday morning attack. The Pakistani officials said two of the dead were foreigners and the rest were Pakistani.

Note that there is no suggestion, even from the “officials” on which these media reports (as usual) rely, that the dead man was a Terrorist or even a “militant.” He was simply receiving condolences for his dead brother. But pursuant to the standardsembraced by President Obama, the brother — without knowing anything about him — is inherently deemed a “combatant” and therefore a legitimate target for death solely by virtue of being a “military-age male in a strike zone.”

Although as the New York Times points out, two-thirds of the most frightening post-9/11 plans for attacks on American soil were stings orchestrated by government agents. Typically, a bumbling, gullible, down on their luck “potential terrorist” with no history of violence is coaxed into some sort of involvement and then arrested, followed by news media trumpeting the “narrowly foiled plot”:

The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.

Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech — comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas — then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups.

Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk. But others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find.

For more things you probably didn’t know about how the world actually works, subscribe to Lee Camp’s Moment of Clarity series:

And, of course, follow the Stranger in a Strange Land on Mutiny Radio!

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-06-09: Cool Dark Rock by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Advertisements

A Better Amercia

PLAYLIST
In The Hall of the Mountain King – Umphrey’s McGee
Dark End of The Street – The Flying Burrito Brothers
Shelcha – Yael Naim
Computer Games – Yellow Magic Orchestra
Clectric Café (Neotericz) – 8-Bit Operators
WTF? – OK Go
Super Brothers (Love Device Mix) – Guitar Vader
Rubber Band – Trammps
Brothers On The Slide – Cymande
Fascination – David Bowie
Strawberryfire – The Apples In Stereo
Raid (Instrumental) – Madvillain
Trouble (Eve of Destruction) – Blackalicious
The Evil that Pens Do – Extended Famm
White Flag (feat. Bashy, Kano and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music) – Gorillaz
One Day – RJD2
Golden Rule – Erin Anova & the Maroons
Funk Em – Hieroglyphics & Del The Funky Homosapien
Past Zero Time – Dark Matter
Sessomatto – Armando Trovaioli
The Sophisticated Hippie – Horace Silver (Easy Mo Bee)
Always True to You in My Fashion – George Shearing & Peggy Lee
La Vieille Meurt – Alain Goraguer
Waiting For The Worms/Stop/The Trial/Outside The Wall – Pink Floyd

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-06-02: A Better Amercia by The Stranger onMixcloud

While the socialist-Maoist-Marxist-Trotskyite-Stalinist-communist-pinko-red-hippie John McCain badmouthed capitalism as ‘cruel’, and Bill Clinto went off-message on private equity, the old guard of Republicans (RINOs) futilely try to inject their reasonable wisdom into an insanely destructive party. Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) has lashed out at members of his party for their unyielding obstructionist opposition to new tax revenues.

“The only thing [SuperPAC money] can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.”

In America, a disturbing number of people seem to think that the impoverished are degenerates who deserve their fate and none of our society’s help. At least it’s encouraging to know that they also don’t believe the rich should get their unearned, undeserved bailouts. But these crooks don’t have anything to worry about.

Our police forces seem more interested in hauling away credentialed members of the media in cuffs. “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated,” was the warning issued by a Chicago Police Department officer caught on video. Our hypocritical Commander-in-Cheeba seems more interested in busting up medical marijuana stoners, than any cartels.

via OccupyWallSt

And even during the 2008 Republican National Convention, at which FBI informants Brandon Darby and Andrew Darst set up David McKay, Bradley Crowder, and Matthew DePalma on charges of possessing Molotov cocktails in two separate incidents. It’s important to note that the only Molotov cocktails that figured in the RNC protests at any point were the ones used to entrap these young men: the FBI were not responding to a threat, but inventing one.

Over the past month, the FBI have shifted into high gear with this approach. Immediately before May Day, five young men were set up on terrorism charges in Cleveland after an FBI infiltrator apparently guided them into planning to bomb a bridge, in what would have been the only such bombing carried out by anarchists in living memory. During the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago,three young men were arrested and charged with terrorist conspiracy once again involving the only Molotov cocktails within hundreds of miles, set up by at least two FBI informants.

None of the targets of these entrapment cases seem to be longtime anarchist organizers. None of the crimes they’re being charged with are representative of the tactics that anarchists have actually used over the past decade. All of the cases rest on the efforts of FBI informants to manufacture conspiracies. All of the arrests have taken place immediately before mass mobilizations, enabling the authorities to frame a narrative justifying their crackdowns on protest as thwarting terrorism. And in all of these cases, the defendants have been described as anarchists in the legal paperwork filed against them, setting precedents for criminalizing anarchism.

Smashing bank windows, for example, may be illegal, but it is increasingly understood as a meaningful political statement; it would be difficult to build a convincing terrorism case around broken glass.

And now the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn’t: indict a media organization. . . . Charging Julian Assange with ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as ‘conspiracy to commit journalism‘”

Key Democratic Senators such as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein have publicly called for Assange’s prosecution for espionage (which in the case of both Assange and Manning may still carry a death sentence).

A group of journalists including Jeremy Scahill, Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, and Kevin Gosztola joined WikiLeaks and their counsel, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), insuing the federal government over the extreme secrecy in the trial of Bradley Manning. CCR asked the court “to grant the public and press access to the government’s motion papers, the court’s own orders, and transcripts of proceedings, none of which have been made public to date.” CCR argues that the trial has been “even less transparent than the controversial military commission proceedings ongoing at Guantánamo Bay.”

Considering that any vaguely named combatant or anyone standing near said “combatant” can be blown up by the president without due process, it does seem like something we should probably guard against, right? Now, similar to the ‘Do Not Call’ and ‘Do Not Track’ lists, a ‘Do Not Kill‘ petition has been started to counter the president’s ‘Kill List’. People are now (only half-mockingly) begging the government not to kill them.

via Salon:

Could Obama order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial? The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting thatwhile the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch. Despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war”

Attorney General Eric Holder then publicly claimed: “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” Both of those episodes sparked controversy, because of how radical of a claim it is.

John Brennan, the president’s counter-terrorism adviser, said in a recent speech that not a single non-combatant had been killed in a year of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And today’s Times article quoted a senior administration official who said that civilian deaths were in the “single digits.”
But it turns out that even this hey-it’s-better-than-carpet-bombing justification is rather flimsy. The Times article says “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties …It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” This was the exact language used by George Zimmerman in his 911 call about Travyon Martin (“it looks like he’s up to no good”), classifying all males in the vicinity of suspected Terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — including teenagers — as “militants” and “combatants,” and deeming them fair game to be killed solely by virtue of their physical location, gender and age.

And of course, President Obama is creating a great recruiting tool for anti-American fundamentalist forces.

“These attacks are making people say, ‘We believe now that al-Qaeda is on the right side,’ ” said businessman Salim al-Barakani, adding that his two brothers — one a teacher, the other a cellphone repairman — were killed in a U.S. strike in March.

Who would have guessed that continually dropping bombs on a country using remote-controlled sky robots and killing their civilians would breed hatred and a desire to attack back? Not only do these constant Obama attacks extinguish the lives of innocent people, but they also exacerbate the very threat they are ostensibly designed to address.

Of course, if the president continues to utilize authoritarian methods of torture, profiling, surveillance, illegal wiretapping, terroristic war tactics,and  robotic death-from-the-sky, surely the conservatives will call him out on this big government tyranny! What’s that? They’re calling him a socialist, leftist, a Maoist, and a Muslim? And the left supports his Big Brother extremism as well? As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer asked: “Dems who think executive process is due process: Where were they when Bush‬ needed help with warrantless wiretapping?” or his indefinite detention scheme? Dianne Feinstein is more worried about stopping leaks and punishing whistleblowers than investigating the war crimes in the first place?

And WIRED gives us even more right-wing Nixonian extremism coming from the Obama White House:

The Obama administration is set to argue to a federal appeals court Friday that the government may breach, with impunity, domestic spying laws adopted in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

The case tests whether Americans may seek recourse or monetary damages when a sitting U.S. president bypasses Congress’s ban on warrantless spying on Americans — in this instance when President George W. Bush authorized his secret, warrantless domestic spying program in the aftermath of the September 2001 terror attacks. A federal judge found in 2010 that two American lawyers’ telephone conversations with their clients in Saudi Arabia in 2004 were siphoned to the National Security Agency without warrants. The allegations were initially based on a classified document the government accidentally mailed to the former al-Haramain Islamic Foundation lawyers.

The document was later declared a state secret, removed from the long-running lawsuit and has never been made public. With that document ruled out as evidence, the lawyers instead cited a bevy of circumstantial evidence that a judge found showed the government illegally wiretapped the lawyers as they spoke on U.S. soil to Saudi Arabia.

Against the government’s objections, San Francisco U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker awarded the two lawyers — Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor — $20,400 each in damages and their legal counsel $2.5 million in costs. It marked the first time anyone had prevailed in a lawsuit challenging Bush’s so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program.

The domestic spying program was first disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005, and the government subsequently admitted that the the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on Americans’ telephone calls without warrants if the government believed the person on the other line was overseas and associated with terrorism. Further news investigations found that the government had secretly enlisted the help of major U.S. telecoms, including AT&T, to spy on Americans’ phone and internet communications without getting warrants as required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Parts of the surveillance program were so egregious that the upper echelon of the Justice Department, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, threatened to resign en masse if it wasn’t changed.

Congress, with the vote of President Barack Obama — who was an Illinois senator at the time — subsequently legalized much of the warrantless spying in the summer of 2008. The legislation also provided the nation’s telecommunication companies immunity from lawsuits accusing them of being complicit with the government’s warrantless wiretapping.

The government, however, claims said it cannot be held liable under the spying law, and that Congress has not waived sovereign immunity — meaning the government has not consented to being sued for breaching its own laws.

And via EFF:

In a disappointing ruling for government transparency advocates, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held the government could keep secret “cables describing waterboarding; a photograph of a detainee, Abu Zubaydah, taken around the time that he was subjected to the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’; and a short phrase that appears in several Justice Department memos referring to a ‘source of authority.’” This suit came on the heels of revelations that tapes allegedly showing waterboarding were destroyed by a CIA officer. The court accepted the government’s argument that waterboarding was an “intelligence method” and therefore exempt from disclose. The Obama administration argued in favor of this interpretation despite previously banning waterboarding as torture. As the ACLU’s Alexander Abdo wrote, the ruling means “the CIA can effectively decide for itself what Americans are allowed to learn about the torture committed in their name.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites when looking for “signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.”

The list was posted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, before suing to obtain the release of the documents. The documents were part of the department’s 2011 ’Analyst’s Desktop Binder‘ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

I present them all here in the hopes of generating more blog traffic and wasting expensive government resources. It is especially entertaining to know that one can get on Intelligence Agency radar with sentences such as “Pirates plot smart power pork cloud exposure, help aid meth lab explosion body scanner wave!”

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Assassination, attack, domestic security, drill, exercise, cops, law enforcement, authorities, disaster assistance, disaster management, DNDO, domestic nuclear detection office, national preparedness, mitigation, prevention, response, recovery, dirty bomb, domestic nuclear detection, emergency management, emergency response, first responder, homeland security, DHS, maritime domain awareness, MDA, initiative, militia, shooting, shots fired, evacuation, deaths, hostage, explosion, explosive, police, team, DMAT, organized crime, gang, gangs, national security, state of emergency, security, breach, threat, standoff, threat, standoff, SWAT, screening, lockdown, bomb, bomb squad, bomb threat, crash, looting, riot, emergency landing, pipe bomb, incident, facility, hazmat, nuclear, chemical spill, suspicious package, suspicious device, toxic, national laboratory, nuclear facility, nuclear threat, plume, cloud, radiation, radioactive, leak, biological infection, biological event, chemical, chemical burn, biological, hazardous, hazardous material incident, industrial spill, infection, powder, white powder, gas, spillover, anthrax, blister agent, chemical agent, exposure, burn, nerve agent, ricin, sarin, North Korea, outbreak, contamination, exposure, virus, evacuation, bacteria, recall, ebola, food poisoning, foot and mouth, FMD, H5N1, Avian, flu, salmonella, small pox, smallpox, plague, human to human, human to animal, influenza, Center for Disease Control, CDC, Drug Administration, FDA, Public Health, agro terror, tuberculosis, TB, agriculture, listeria, symptoms, mutation, resistant, antiviral, wave, pandemic, infection, waterborne, airborne, sick, swine, pork, strain, Tamiflu, World Health Organization, WHO, quarantine, H1N1, vaccine, epidemic, Norvo virus, viral hemorrhagic fever, E. Coli, E Coli, infrastructure security, airport, CIKR, Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources, collapse, AMTRAK, computer infrastructure, communications infrastructure, telecommunications, critical infrastructure, national infrastructure, Metro, WMATA, airplane, chemical fire, BART, MARTA, Port Authority, NBIC, National Biosurveillance Integration Center, transportation security, grid, power, smart, body scanner, electric, failure, outage, black out, blackout, black-out, brown out, brownout, brown-out, port, dock, bridge, cancelled, delays, service disruption, power lines, drug cartel, violence, drug, narcotics, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, border, Mexico, cartel, southwest, Juarez, Sinaloa, Tijuana, Torreon, Yuma, Tuscon, decapitated, US Consulate, U.S. Consulate, consular, El Paso, Fort Hancock, San Diego, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales, Sonora, Colombia, Mara salvatrucha, MS13, MS-13, drug war, Mexican army, methamphetamine, Cartel de Golfo, Gulf Cartel, La Familia, Reynosa, Nuevo Leon, narcos, narco banners, Los Zetas, shootout, execution, gunfight, trafficking, kidnap, Calderon, Reyosa, Bust, Tamaulipas, meth lab, drug trade, illegal immigrants, smuggling, smugglers, Matamoros, Michaocana, Guzman, Arellano-Felix, Beltran-Leyva, Barrio Azteca, artistic assassins, Mexicles, New Federation, terrorism, Al Qaeda, terror, attack, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, agro, environmental terrorist, eco terrorism, eco-terrorism, ecoterrorism, conventional weapon, target, weapons grade, dirty bomb, enriched, nuclear, chemical weapon, biological weapon, ammonium nitrate, improvised explosive device, IED, Abu Sayyaf, Hamas, FARC, Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia, IRA, Irish Republican Army, ERA, Euskadi ta Askatasuna, Basque Separatists, Hezbollah, Tamil Tigers, PLF, Palestine Liberation Front, PLO, Palestine Liberation Organization, car bomb, jihad, Taliban, weapons cache, suicide bomber, suicide attack, suspicious substance, AQAP, Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula, AQIM, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, TTP, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Yemen, pirates, extremism, Solamia, Nigeria, radicals, Al-Shabaab, home grown, homegrown, home-grown, plot, nationalist, recruitment, fundamentalism, Islamist, ice, emergency, hurricane, tornado, twister, tsunami, earthquake, tremor, flood, storm, crest, temblor, extreme weather, forest fire, brush fire, stranded, stuck, help, hail, wildfire, wild fire, Tsunami Warning Center, Emergency Broadcast System, magnitude, avalanche, typhoon, shelter-in-place, disaster, snow, blizzard, sleet, mudslide, mud slide, erosion, power outage, warning, watch, lightning, lightening, aid, closure, interstate, burst, cyber security, botnet, DDOS, dedicated denial of service, denial of service, malware, trojan, keylogger, Cyber Command, 2600, spammer, phishing, rootkit, phreaking, cain and abel, brute force, brute forcing, MySQL injection, cyber attack, cyberattack, cyber terror, cyberterror, hacker, china, conficker, worm, scammers, social media

Weighted and Healthy

I have previously advocated for a moderate lifestyle somewhere between diet freak and total decadence. Many disagree, and the cultural perspectives often do more damage than good, as with many idealized depictions of a false status quo. People seem all too eager to forget that there is a medical distinction between ‘overweight’ and ‘obese.’

Japan has a bipolar view, using Draconian punishment or discrimination against employers and employees for their percentages of body fat, while also glorifying the traditionally obese athleticism of Sumo.

There are undoubtedly many different types of fat, and science is learning and evaluating the risks and benefits of each. In fact, a recent study found that those drastically losing weight increase their risk of damage to the kidneys. In some countries in Europe, where a better grade of cooking oil is used than in the homogenized and processed U.S., no link was found to a diet of fried food and shorter mortality.

And as I (and brilliant minds such as Ron Swanson) have stated before, if you want to ruin your body with grease and calories, how is this any different than the risk taken by somebody who smokes, or drinks, or skydives, or joins the military, or works in law enforcement or fire emergency services?

(Ron Swanson is a fantastic icon in that, as an ardent outdoorsman and craftsman, he also endorses physical activity, sports and exercise.)

And ultimately, like polio or the black plague before us, we will gradually learn to overcome the perfectly contemporary threats of cancer, diabetes, and the (as-yet unproven) risks of GMOs, as mere artifacts of our time.

LOOK, HEY, SERIOUSLY NOW…!

I don’t do this just to hear the round-pear-shaped tones of my own voice, although I do suppose there must be some kind of egomania deep in there… hey, if I’m reaching your aural canal with sound waves, that’s great, and I would love to hear your variation of worldview from mine… but even if nobody else is listening, I’m still more than happy to have this record of my insane ranting in digital existence.

There are a lot of policy-makers who have been bought and sold like human slaves, our “elected” officials and legislators, passionately fighting and arguing for the beliefs and policies of the highest bidders in this country. Most of the donations given to presidential candidates are in the triple digits.

Intellectuals will argue amongst themselves as to which ones are in charge, why aren’t things run by the super-smart instead of the super-rich, a sort of Ayn Rand fascism of a different kind of elitism, deciding who gets educations and who doesn’t. As if intelligence alone, and not wisdom, confers rights over others. As if those who happen to get an education “win” or “deserved it” and others lose. Distinctions are made all through this… those who bought it and didn’t deserve it, those who are somehow “true intellectuals” but always define the word in such a way that it would always include themselves… so there’s no bias

And of course the rich, who often don’t even realize why they’re reviled, that they may be part of the 1%, that saying repulsive things about minorities or the poor would even matter, their sheltered, insulated lives preventing them from having any connection to the average American plight, let alone anywhere else in the world, nothing could possibly prevent them from using their powers to benefit themselves at everyone else’s expense.

I am a proud pseudo-intellectual. I don’t claim to be an expert, or a researcher, a or a credited journalist, or anyone of any note. We don’t have the power of money, or impressive degrees. But myself and other Americans who try to stay informed, read, converse, immerse in varied opinions and worldviews, and attempt (sometimes with difficulty) to cultivate a conscience, and who are unhappy with the state of affairs as they are, still have an important role. Our criticism, our skepticism, and our questioning are all vital to protecting what shreds of the Republic are left.

Many people will try to invalidate your opinions based on those arbitrary groups they have put you in. These people are fallacious, and can be regarded as such. People will try to argue that your position is invalid if you don’t have all the answers yourself. But that doesn’t logically follow. Our role, and my own as I see it, is to point out what is wrong and vile. We can fight tenaciously with peaceful protest, actions, journalism, social media organization, poetry, civil disobedience of the physical and digital varieties. Our importance is not defined by our volume, but by our basic desperate survival, factual support, common sense, and loyalty to liberty.

We don’t want to disparage individuals for being less privileged economically, or intellectually, or with regards to race, gender, social status, some ridiculous religious or political beliefs, or even their level of common sense or wisdom. Every person has the capability to form valid or invalid opinions at times, and can now more than ever assess a constant stream of information, sometimes including facts. They may end up right or wrong on particular issues, but their voices still matter! The genetic variation of our species alone determines who will be good at math, who will have the nicest hair, the best sense of direction, a mind for legalese or computer skills, who can type the fastest, run the fastest, jump the highest, shoot the most accurate… and all of them need hundreds of hours to be great at any of them, they should all be given the equal opportunity to find out for themselves, to live their life as they choose without hurting others. That combination of genetic prowess and hard work and skillful training need to be fostered in everyone, to bring out our full American potential.

Those  of us humble enough to note that we are merely voices clamoring in the darkness, you may not agree with us or think we’re right, and we may not even ever get our way, but we will have our say, and nothing short of total extermination will silence us.

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the mountain king – Duke Ellington
When I Get Low I Get High – Ella Fitzgerald With Chick Webb
Sixty Minute Man – Billy Ward & His Dominoes
Stormy Weather – Charles Mingus
Floyd’s Guitar Blues – Muddy Waters
Violent Love – Willie Dixon
Mean To Me – Sarah Vaughan
Southern Can Is Mine – Blind Willie McTell
Over The Hill – R.L. Burnside
Drone Blues – Jimi Hendrix
Fight The Power (Part 1&2) – The Isley Brothers
When I Want to Get Funky – Victor Wooten
Sugar Loaf Mountain – George Duke
Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson
Love And Happiness – Al Green
Use Me – Bill Withers
Gentle Thoughts – Herbie Hancock
Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
We Can Work It Out – Stevie Wonder
Pusherman – Curtis Mayfield
Come On Feet – Melvin Van Peebles
Plumskinzz – MF DOOM
Potholderz (Feat. Count Bass D) – MF DOOM
The People – Common
Things Get a Little Easier – Biz Markie
Outer Spaceways – Sun Ra
Keynote Speaker (feat. Dave Chappelle) – Talib Kweli
Where Do We Go (feat. Res) – Talib Kweli

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-02-04: Black History Month by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

*putting the 1% in a position where they’re paranoid and scared, ready to make mistakes.

Evolution not eradication!

I think I believe the political things I do now due to critical thinking and reading about science.

Reading about science will make you a humanist, as you can deeply bathe alone in the beauty of the vastness of discovery in all that exists, and possess empathy for each and every other living human’s worst trials and tribulations.

Reading about science will make you an environmentalist, both as a survival mechanism for our species, and from an appreciation in the appropriately evolved brain regions of the vision of light wave-particles representing a fragile but physical ecosystem.

Reading about science will make you a progressive, recognizing the routine obstacles and opportune advancements available to the flourishing young species, in an optimistic attempt to evolve into something greater.

Reading about science will make you pro-LGBTQ rights, when you begin to understand that human sexuality (as no different than all other observed species on the planet) is a spectrum of varying degrees of brain states and natural physiology.

There are things, however, for which I seemingly fight against the science. Large proportions of our numbers prefer to stay the course, observe the status quo, reap the benefits of our exploitation, and feed.

I believe in liberty. I believe in freedom. I believe in the individual rights of every variety up to but not including those that affect the individual rights of others. If you do infringe on the civil rights of another (as a rapist or murderer or thief or kidnapper or corporate plunderer or embezzler or bribe-accepting crooked policy-maker), then you should be given the fairest trial imaginable and if still found guilty, be punished in accordance to the pain or suffering of the offended individual, and no more. The only exception to this is in cases where the offender represents a future threat, in which case the individual should simply be sequestered from society. The purpose of government is a facilitation of services, regulations, insurances and social contracts that are agreed upon by the members of that society. The purpose of government is not control, it is arbitration. The system of laws and penalties are the results of findings in legal precedent in deciding what benefits our species and its environment best.

With creative thought and personal liberties threatened by corporate fraud, legalized systems of corruption, political bribery, systemized oppression, censorship, violations of privacy, involuntary compulsion to self-testify, indefinite detainment, racial profiling and discrimination, indoctrinated economic inequities, endangerment by unnecessary yet catastrophic war, and even sanctioned assassination, it is difficult to imagine a flourishing of the spontaneous, imaginative, inventive, adaptable, risk-taking, persistently change-making mutants attempting to evolve our species. We call them geniuses because they’re only incrementally affecting the gene pool towards a new classification, but they’re there.

The needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few (Winston Churchill, so I’m told, and not Mr. Spock), and when we allow the sapenice to be put back in Sapens, many of these questions seem so very simple and obvious. Especially with the realization that our own government is causing so much of it. Stop. Just stop. Don’t even look back. Stop proliferating violence and military entanglements around the world. Stop oppressing the underprivileged and underserved. Stop not only ignoring the crimes of a certain class, but routinely bailing them out at the expense of others. Stop infringing on the rights of the people that make up your country, both in word and in deed. Stop destroying the ecosystem we inhabit, if we intend to continue living here for a while longer. Put the brakes on. Freeze. Halt. Stop.

No, I’m not a civil libertarian because I’m a good member of the species, simply eating away in the ways we are told best suit our present state. I am a civil libertarian because I believe in the mutants. I believe that the outliers, given the freedom for growth, will make us all incrementally better, and not just greater.

But perhaps we needs to follow a natural progression of Homo Sapiens, Homo Dominus, Homo Maximus, Homo Awesomus, and finally Homo Hubris.

 

Smooth and Cool

2010-07-31

Whether you’re mind-expanded state has you obsessed with the arrival of extragalactic forces, or corrupt corporate entities are squeezing you into a compacted ball, stay cool, baby. Because taking it in stride is the very definition of class.

PLAYLIST
Dizzy Gillespie – In the Hall of the Mountain King
Nina Simone – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Fauna Flash – Carsual Swing  – Afterhours, Vol. 3
Sarah Vaughan – They Can’t Take That Away – Me
People’s Choice – I Likes to Do it  – Disco Super Hits
Stanley Jordan – Eleanor Rigby  – Dreams of Peace
Ziggy Elman and His Orchestra – Zaggin With Zig
Thelonious Monk – Misterioso
Ray Baretto – The Old Castle  – Pictures At an Exhibition
Bob James – The Genie  – The Genie
Miles Davis – Feio  – Bitches Brew
Tin Hat Trio – Somniloquy  – Memory Is Elephant
Bob James – Nautilus
Sun Ra & Walt Dickerson – Light Years  – Visions
Charles Mingus – Things Ain’t What They Used to Be  – Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife
Miles Davis – Miles Runs the Voodoo Down  – Bitches Brew
Roam The Hello Clouds – This Mountain  – Near Misses
Blood Sweat & Tears – Blues Part II  – Blood Sweat and Tears 3
Cake -Shadow Stabbing- – Comfort Eagle
Madeleine Peyroux – The Summer Wind  – Half The Perfect World
John Coltrane – Theme for Ernie  – Soultrane

Stranger in a Strange Land 2010-07-31: Smooth and Cool by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

“stay cool, keep cool”

Net Neutrality

I have been so painfully ignorant of this issue for the past few years that I didn’t even know it WAS an issue. I mean, I knew back in 1994 when I was first really on the internet playing slingo and the extent of my HTML abilities was Geocities, that one day the internet would be co-opted by either the big businesses who allowed access, or by the gubment who’d censor content. The problem with it is that it is both a network and a form of media. Like a telephone service, neither the providers nor any gubmental agency should have a say over what it is that you say. You can print your own leaflets, write to your penpal, and tie two cans to the ends of a string and talk to the girl next door with it. As a network, there should definitely be a hands-off ruling, except of course in cases of presidential assassination or sedition.

And therein lies the problem: because on the internet, you CAN, for all intents in purposes, get away with those things, either in or out of context, for example: “Man, I sure would like to kill the president of the United States of America! Gee golly. I have to wonder, when I kill the president of the United States of America, if it will actively bring down the government of the United States of America. Man, I sure would like to actively bring down the government of the United States of America. Bomb Bomb Bomb, communism, bomb bomb Al-Qaeda, terrorism, social reform, bomb bomb, Oklahoma, bomb bomb bomb, anarchist’s cookbook, Tyler Durden, Weather Underground Organization, bomb bomb bob-omb, Che Guevara-wear, bomb bomb, Cindy Sheehan, bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb.” The FBI has now bookmarked this page. Right between Albinoblacksheep.com and the .gif of that dancing fat kid on ebaumsworld.com

As a form of media, the internet is a pretty overwhelming force to be reckoned. Offensive, salacious, subversive, damaging, insulting, expansive; the problem presented it just that there are no rules, no boundaries and no guiding force for the youth of today. It would be the role of a responsible government to stop internet predators, and it seems entirely warranted that your ISP can allow you to filter results that you may find abrasive to you or your child’s fragile little mind. Ultimately, however, a damn *liberal* would argue that it is in the hands of each and every individual to follow the written rules and unwritten social mores, that each website have their “Code of Conduct” and “Terms of Use.” But we all know that people are stupid, lascivious, ignorant, lecherous, greedy and horny. If they’re not the bastard trying to sell you kiddie porn, then they’re the bastard trying to buy it, or the ignaramous who spends twelve hours a day on WOW, or worse, Yahoo Games. Better still, with today’s technology, you can chat to a fifteen-year-old girl while you play Chess. And I remember from when I was sixteen, there are plenty of innuendos available there.

Now we are presented with the grimy decision of allowing the gubment to regulate our precious Strong Bad, which I’m sure is first on their list, or letting the big businesses restrict our access to hotwivesinaction.com, which I’m sure is on their list. I don’t even know if that’s a real website, and I’m sure the school computers won’t let me check.

I knew this was going to fucking happen, but I let it slip into the back of my mind like so many Darkwing Duck episodes, or the name of the guy who owned the general store on Petticoat Junction, or Ghost Rider’s real name. SO… having ignored the progression of this situation over the years paying attention to silly things like… I don’t know… the refinement of nuclear components in the Middle East, presidential debauchery, my education, girls, terrorism and war… such that the issue sort of sneaked up behind me. This is frightening, because if the message boards at Somethingawful.com, and the Askaninja are just now talking about it as well, enough to bring it to OUR attention, whilst Tim Wu is shaking his head, then this sort of attack on our civil liberties has been in the works for some time prior, maybe even in the works from the internet’s inception. CURSE YOU ALBERT ARNOLD GORE, JR.!! CURSE YOU!! Not only that, but if we are so easily distracted with terrorism and wars and pop divas, that something like this is going on in the background, imagine what other wheels are turning, and in what other dirty pies the dirty fingers are. Perhaps the internet is just a ruse so that Karl Rove could convince Guy Montag to burn all the books? Maybe it’s a vast desensitization device, to program us into a certain way of thinking? Could it be that between the time that “Bye, Bye, Bye” came out to when Arnold Schwarzenegger took gubernatorial office, we lost a few constitutional rights we were entitled to, and were so taken by surprise that we can’t even remember what they were to argue?

I have other theories, but all facts considered, it would be pretty stupid to put them on the internet.