Sunday, December 25, 2005

Revolutionary QOTD:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin.

Particularly apropos in light of recent news regarding domestic spying.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Who Needs Conspiracy Theories When You've Got George Bush?

An administration like the current one could put paranoiacs and whacko conspiracy theorists straight out of business by leaving them nothing to make up. The only theories they could invent that weren't actually true would have to involve space aliens and other science fiction. The Bush administration has all the rest covered. The government can spy on you without a warrant. The government is spying on anti-war and peace groups. The government will retaliate against you if you say something they don't like. And my favorite is the secret court where the government can secure secret warrants, retroactively if they want, to spy on American citizens. My favorite part of that one is, it wasn't good enough for the Bush administration. They had to bypass the secret court because it didn't give them enough secrecy.

You see I wasn't feeling too cozy about the idea of a court that met in secret with the FBI, NSA or CIA that could issue warrants even 72 hours after the fact if the government felt it would slow them down too much to actually wait for a warrant. But I could reasonably see where some secrecy and speed might be necessary in seeking warrants for intelligence activities. It's just that, though I'm not an intelligence expert, I gotta think that making the conversations, documents and warrants involving the case secret until they yield some results, would be secrecy enough. Is a spy court really necessary?

But Bush and the gang made that point completely moot by bypassing the court completely. In a simple and bold move they made us feel lucky we had a secret court. At least there was some kind of check and balance. But the thing that amazes me most with what is happening these days is the shortness of our, meaning the American public's memory. Does anyone remember COINTELPRO? When the FBI was conducting counterintelligence on people and groups who just happened to have ideas that were left of center or not in the mainstream. Where they infiltrated, disrupted and played dirty tricks on groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Students for a Democratic Society. Where they spied on people like Dr. Martin Luther King and Abbie Hoffman. Do you see how this kind of thing can get out of hand and why we need checks and balances?

The Bush administration uses as their argument that these extreme measures are necessary because of the extreme threats we face, but I think that argument is completely false and the leaders of a so-called democratic nation should know they are. Times when our nation is threatened by the dangerous and global enemy of terrorism cannot be used as an excuse to lessen the protections our civil liberties afford, but is a time when they need most to be protected. You see the founding fathers may have wanted us to have leaders we can trust, but they were wise enough to know that we cannot always trust our leaders. In fact they'd created a revolution over the point, so they were quite clear on it. That is why they built checks and balances into our constitution to keep our leaders from overstepping their authority.

They also must have realized that it is not at times when we are at peace or threat that those liberties are most likely to be threatened. But at times when we legitimately fear a real enemy during war that an unscrupulous or overzealous leader can take advantage of our fear and usurp our liberties. When we are faced with the circumstances we find ourselves in today, we must be more vigilant of our liberties. Not less.

And finally, does no one see the irony here? As we fight for so-called democracy in a foreign land, we are having our civil liberties weakened and unprotected in our own. It can only make us look like hypocrites to the world for which we seek to be an example.
New Blogs I Dig.

Two blogs that were recommended by a friend some time ago, but I just got around to really checking out:

I Blame the Patriarchy
The Quintessential Negro

Though the Quintessential brother be kinda tardy on da updates. But he's a writer for a weekly paper. So I suppose after writing all day for a living, writing for his blog is not something he wants to do in his spare time. But what he has posted is cool.
The Toy Will Bring You Joy This Holiday Season.

Warning: This post may not be suitable for younger or more sensitive readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Actually it might be perfect for more sensitive readers. Depends upon how you use the word sensitive. The story is from Wired News and it is about a high tech gadget do I put this delicately, to give women pleasure. It can be operated remotely by a Bluetooth device, ideally a phone. It is a natural progression because high tech gadgetry has always been mental masturbation for men. Actual masturbation if you count internet porn. Personally I think it is technology gone too far. I am a staunch advocate of natural and manual methods. But I'm a man and this device is for women.
Revolutionary QOTD:

"The revolution will not be televised." -Gil Scott Heron.
From This Modern World: An equation for our time.
As usual Tom Tomorrow nails it with what he calls, "An equation for our time." It is available on bumper stickers, "as well as the usual selection of other crap," in Tom's store. His blog is at and don't forget to check out the cartoon at Working for Change. Nothing less than political comic genius.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Revolutionary QOTD.
"You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution." -G. K. Chesterton.
Does Loss of Our Civil Liberties Mean The Terrorists Have Won?
Remember soon after 9-11 when President Bush advised us all to go about our business as usual? He said that if we allowed the terrorist to make us so afraid that we didn't travel, go shopping, go out and do all the things we normally do that the terrorists had won. All the things he advised American's to do were things that would stimulate the economy, which took as much of a blow as anything after 9-11. I find that advice ironic in view of revelations of abuse of the civil liberties of American citizens, and of torture the of Iraqi prisoners, and Guantanamo Bay detainees over the past year or so.

It was revealed yesterday that President Bush signed an order just after 9-11 to allow the NSA to eavesdrop on international phone calls and email of American citizens without a warrant or any cause. The president is also pushing to make most of the provisions of the Patriot Act permanent. An act which threatens many of the freedoms and civil liberties we are supposed to cherish as Americans. The President speaks of bringing democracy to Iraq, yet we are guilty torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. The fact that Senator John McCain, who endured for 5 years, as a POW in Vietnam, and who knows what effect torture can have on a human being, has to propose legislation to prevent our country from practicing torture is unbelievable. The fact that when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice travels to Europe she is dogged at every turn by questions about whether our government condones or practices torture, is an international embarrassment.

I would ask the president why continuing to go to the mall and travel by airplane and any of those other activities he advised us to continue doing after 9-11 are any more important than the freedoms and civil liberties our nation is supposed to guarantee? Last time I looked, going to the mall was not in the constitution. Protecting Americans from illegal search and seizure, violation of our rights to privacy and other freedoms are. How is it that continuing to go about our business usual does not include protecting our freedoms as usual. If we become a nation who is so afraid of terrorism that we spy on each other, hold our citizens in jail without cause and without recourse indefinitely, torture our prisoners, or send them to places where we know they will be tortured (a practice called rendition), does that not also mean the terrorists have won?

What kind of America do you want to live in? To me, living in the kind of America that the Patriot Act would create is as frightening as terrorism. Maybe more so. It is an Orwellian nightmare America. And to me it does mean that the terrorists have won?

Friday, December 16, 2005

You've Got Mail - From LA Times.

Or should we say, You've got an STD! Found this in the LA Times yesterday morning. Maybe they could hire the AOL guy to record audio for it. Not a very sensitive way of finding out that what you got from one of your past hook ups was more than a few minutes love. On the other hand, better than not knowing at all. The article states:

In an age when many search for sex on the Internet, Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday unveiled a controversial tool to fight the spread of HIV and other diseases: a website that helps send anonymous e-mail warning people that they might be infected.

Through the website,, users can send a free, unsigned electronic postcard with a standard message or a personal note, thus avoiding an awkward conversation that many people would rather not have. The idea is to help people be more forthcoming with sexual partners so those at risk of sexually transmitted diseases get tested and practice safer sex.
As more people find out about this I could see pranking become a major problem.

I gotta say that this could be a big problem as more people become aware of it. It could become a tool for pransters and people seeking revenge. I think there should be a little more control over it, such as proof you were diagnosed with an STD. In any case, it puts aggravation with spam in your inbox in perspective. Now there could be a much more ominous note in the phrase, you've got mail....
Revolutionary QOTD:

"Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind" -Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Cory Maye Case Update.

I wrote earlier this week about the case of Cory Maye, a man convicted of murder the murder of a police officer and sentenced to death in Mississippi. The case has garnered a good deal of attention across the blogsphere and is on the brink of getting some deserved mainstream media attention. The blogger who originally broke this story, Radley Balko of the Agitator, will be interviewed on Air America Radio this morning at 11am eastern time. I'd like to do something in the beginning of this post that I did not do in the last one and that I have not seen in any of the blogs that are speaking out in Cory Maye's defense. That is acknowledge a victim of this tragedy whose wrong cannot be righted, Police Officer Ron Jones. He was killed in the incident that lead to Mr. Maye's conviction and that is a tragedy that saddens all of us, no matter which side of the debate we fall on. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends and to the community he served.

The facts of the case are laid out in that previous post and much more succinctly by the Agitator and The Hammer of Truth, but I will briefly cover them here:

The police, as part of a drug raid broke down the door of Cory Maye's apartment, late at night, while Maye was sleeping. Maye was not named in the warrant and was not a suspect. Frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, Maye fires at what he says he believed at the time to be an intruder.

Maye is black, the police officer is white and son of the town's police chief. Maye is convicted and sentenced to death by a jury with two black members, the rest were white. Maye had no previous criminal record. The police first reported that no drugs were found in Maye's apartment, later they said they found "traces" of marijuana.

Maye's original attorney, Rhonda Cooper, had never tried a capital murder case before she represented Maye.

Officer Ron Jones the sole officer who conducted the investigation kept no records. Jones made no effort to identify Maye, to make a controlled drug buy from Maye to corroborate the informant's story, or to do a criminal background check on Maye. There is no evidence indicating that Jones knew the identify of the person occupying Maye's apartment.

The warrant for Maye's residence appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant.

The times listed on the evidence sheets for both Maye and Smith's apartments were repeatedly scribbled out. Maye's sheet lists no exact time the evidence was collected. The evidence in Smith's apartment was collected on the 26th, immediately after the raid, while the evidence in Maye's was apparently collected at 5:20am the next day (this being the last of three times entered, the first two having been scribbled out to the point of being illegible).

Cory Maye's family and his attorney also accused officers of beating him while he was in custody after his arrest. Officers and prosecutors said those claims were completely false.

This observation may sound snide, and isn't something we like to acknowledge, but it is the truth. It is also something I have not yet seen in the other blogs on this topic. The sad truth is that there was a time in Mississippi when a man in Cory Maye's position would have never seen the inside of a police station or a court room. He would not have made it that far. It's sad to say that this is at least an improvement in the state of affairs in racial relations in the south.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

French Cartoon on Blogging.

Ok, I dunno how I ended up on this site. I was stealing images off the web for my site, and I was looking at one of Che Guevara, the icon of revolution. So I ended up on this French site and I was trying to read it and ran across this cartoon which is actually pretty funny. My French isn't great and somebody will tell me I got part of it wrong. I didn't Babelfish it. Anyway, here's my best translation:

First French Guy: Blogs cover everything. [dunno word] of culture, sciences, fashion, art across the entire world. It's an incredible chance to open the world for yourself. [T-shirt says: I blog therefore I am.]

Second French Guy: Nice, so what's your blog about?

First French Guy: Me.

Again that's very rough translation. Maybe I'll Bablefish it, but I'd have to type it in with all the accents and crap. Too lazy. But it's funny. No?

Ciao and peace.

Tookies Legacy Could Save Cory Maye

Tookie's Legacy Could Save Cory Maye
One potentially positive thing that may come out of Tookie Williams losing his life at the hands of the state, if you can say there's anything positive about it, is that the residual media focus could bring attention to the case of a man who does not deserve to be on death row. The mans name is Cory Maye and he is on death row in Mississippi. Here are the basic facts from the blog, Battlepanda,

Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened [sic] for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

There's much more detail at the Hammer of Truth, a libertarian weblog, He's writing a wiki completely detailing the case. Some details excerpted from his blog are:

Maye's original attorney, Rhonda Cooper, had never tried a capital murder case before she represented Maye. According to Balko, Maye's family terminated their relationship with Cooper after he was convicted. In her place, they hired a guy from California with no legal experience.

Officer Ron Jones the sole officer who conducted the investigation apparently kept no records. According to DA Buddy McDonald, all record of the investigation "died with Officer Jones."

Based on the information included in the warrant affidavits, it appears Jones made no effort to identify Maye, to make a controlled drug buy from Maye to corroborate the informant's story, or to do a criminal background check on Maye. There is no evidence indicating that Jones knew the identify of the person occupying Maye's apartment.

The legitimacy of the warrant for Maye's residence is questioned by some. It appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant, who says he spotted marijuana in the apartment.

Maye is black. Jones was white. There were only two black members of the jury which convicted Maye in a state historically criticized for racist judicial activities.

The times listed on the evidence sheets for both Maye and Smith's apartments were repeatedly scribbled out. Maye's sheet lists no exact time the evidence was collected. The evidence in Smith's apartment was collected on the 26th, immediately after the raid, while the evidence in Maye's was apparently collected at 5:20am the next day (this being the last of three times entered, the first two having been scribbled out to the point of being illegible).

Cory Maye's family and his attorney also accused officers of beating him while he was in custody after his arrest. Officers and prosecutors said those claims were completely false.

The thing that concerns most bloggers who have been reporting on this case is the lack of ability to get the mainstream media to report on it. They gave massive coverage to a black man on death row, who despite how he had redeemed himself, did at one point do some pretty heinous things. It was endlessly repeated in the media, all the horrible things Tookie had done. And I'm not saying that was wrong. But why can't a man who may be innocent, if not he certainly does not deserve to be on death row, get any media mention at all? It's been all over the blogsphere and there's simply now way that now one in the mainstream media knows about it and knows that the case is newsworthy.

The blogger who first wrote about it is Radley Balko at The Agitator, There's a letter writing campaign to Governor Barbour of Mississippi on Maye's behalf. Please forward this information to your friends so that as many people know about the case and the lack of attention the mainstream media is giving it. Perhaps you could join in the letter writing campaign. I plan to write to some media outlets and post what I write to them here. As well as any response, or lack of response.

Ciao and peace.

Revolutionary Quote of the Day.

"Every generation needs a new revolution." -Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Answer Christmas warriors with a greeting as traditional as Merry Christmas, but more relevant to the spirit of this season.

As I sit by the holiday tree sipping soy nog and listening to soon to be holiday favorites like Secular Night, I can't help but reflect upon what has been dubbed by the media as the Christmas wars. How appropriate a sentiment for the season. I mean there's no irony here is there? None in the fact that a season that's supposed to be about giving and love and peace has been turned into the next battlefront in the culture wars. However, as Phil Donahue, the white haired, bespeckled, poor man's Oprah of his day, used to say, folks, this is still America. And he is right to this day. It still is America. In this country, controversy, like sex, sells. Sex is really just another form of controversy. A sexy form or controversy. Whether you're selling religious fundamentalism and right wing dogma, or newspapers, controversy fuels the economy. And that may be a good thing for the season. You can justify all kinds of meaness, pollution, even war, with the fact that it helps the economy.

Let's face it folks. Times is tough. And much as I'd like to knock it, this time of year I could use being in on the action. More importantly people, I'm afraid that in all of this people will forget what Christmas in American is really about. Commercialism! It's about what we can buy. Most importantly, it's about what you can buy from me. So perhaps I could offer these.

For the Secular Humanist who has everything, why not a Merry Secular Holiday Season! t-shirt? For the thrifty person on your holiday shopping list, Generic Holiday Greetings!

But to throw the other side a bone, because Jesus was a long haired, itinerant, revolutionary of his time. Not at all a part of the majority who were probably celebrating some pagan festival of the winter solstice on his birthday, back then. So we might rightly ask, WWJC (What would Jesus celebrate)?

But they just don't capture the spirit of the season in the old way, do they? And I have to admit that this divisive spirit around the holidays makes me just a little sad. Especially when this holiday season comes at a time when our country is at war and young men are fighting and dying. Whether or not you believe the war is justified, I think we are all united in one thing. Whether you are a stay the course of folly hawk, or a cut and run dove, to be honest I lean distinctly towards the dove side, whether your state is red or blue, the thing we all wish for, almost without exception, is peace.

This season also comes at a time when so many of our fellow citizens have been struck by a natural disaster. When a city that stood as a cultural icon of America still lies in ruin. And lets not forget the many other towns around it who also were struck by the same disaster. Those citizens are scatterred about the country. Many have lost loved ones and all their earthy possessions. Our government was woefully slow to respond and many are still desperately in need. At a time like this I recommend replacing both the secular and traditional greetings with another traditional greeting that has also withstood the test of time, but which is more appropriate, especially in light of the cultural, natural and actual wars we are engaged in. That seasonal greetings is: Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Everyone.

Well, ok, it has a bit of a PC touch at the end. I said everyone, not men. And isn't that at the heart of the spirit of the generic seasons greetings, however misguidedly they are applied at times by the PC police. Isn't the point to make the holiday season inclusive of all people? Whether or not they are in the majority. Whether or not they are Christians. Whether or not they celebrate what we celebrate, something else, or nothing at all.

And towards that end, let's not boycott anything, or threaten business who don't use the greeting we prefer. Let's just start using them to the people we see during the holiday season. Believing there's a war on X-mas is like belief in Santa Claus. You need some imagination. Which Bill O'Reily has plenty. Crooks and Liars reports that his claim of Christmas discrimination on Saginaw Michigan is bogus.

It seems to me in this country that when we're not making up reasons to start real wars, were creating imaginary wars. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin and the Vietnam War? Sound familiar? In my lifetime we've had the War on Poverty, but there's still poverty. The war on drugs and I can still... uh, I mean people can still get illegal drugs. There's the current war on terrorism and I suspect long after we've forgotten it, there will still be terrorism. Now we've got a fake war that's an actual spin off of another fake war. The Christmas wars are really just part of the so-called culture wars. Sometimes I think American just has a big war jones. But we don't always have to play into the war frenzy. In the spirit of the season, sometimes we can just say, peace.

In that spirit I offer these fine products: Make X-mas love, not X-mas war.

Peace on earth. Good will towards Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, Taoists, Wiccans, Voodooists, Pagans, Heathens, Chicks I meet who aren't religious, but are spiritual, and last but not least, Secular Humanists! Amen.

I'm going to send the Make X-mas Love one to Bill O'Reilly. With the caveat that he not attempt to do so with fellow employees in a way that would be considered inappropriate or lead to charges of sexual harassment. Finally, need I remind you all that not so many years ago a great American made a plea for peace in this country. That man's name was King. Do you remember what his plaintive cry was? Yes, it was Rodney King and he asked, "Can't we all just...get along?"

Peace and Ciao.

[A portion of the profits for purchase of the items above will go to a charity to help victims of hurricane Katrina. The rest will be used to support this blog.]