Monday, August 28, 2006

This One's For WOP

Well it's that time of year again and many of our faithful readers and contributors are heading off to their respective campi across the county, or running up mountains in Vermont, or kicking around footballs (or fotbols) for 8 hours a day, etc. Unfortunately WOP couldn't join us for a bit of a farewell dinner last week, so I have an unused XXL chef's shirt still hanging in the closet -- perhaps he was just too frightened of the prospect of an Irishman cooking up an Italian feast. I gotta tell ya though WOP, you would have loved the Italian market , 'A Latteri,' I visited to get the cheese and a rather tasty soprasatta (probably would have loved the cheese and soprasatta too for that matter). Anyway, a good time was had by all as they say, and your presence was certainly missed WOP. We even had ol' Dino on the stereo, and of course a tanantella or two. Anyway, good luck to all of you headin' out there. Remember why you're attending university, and don't let your studies get in the way of your education. There' ll always be Burnin Man. HUZZAH!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Magdalene and Hart Crane

There has been a lot of speculation about Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. For some reason we so often forget that Jesus was both God and Man, according to Catholic theology. He is always perfect like God. I say Jesus has to answer to the biological imperative just like every other living human being. If he didn't then the idea of the dual nature of Jesus may be an untruth. Rather than argue about this I want to think about Magdalene the way I always terms of the poetry of Hart Crane.

Southern Cross

I wanted you, nameless Woman of the South,
No wraith, but utterly--as still more alone
The Southern Cross takes night
And lifts her girdles from her, one by one--
High, Cool,
wide from the slowly smoldering fire
Of lower heavens,--
vaporous scars!

Eve! Magdalene!
or Mary, you?

Whatever call--falls vainly on the wave.
O simian Venus, homeless Eve,
Unwedded, stumbling gardenless to grieve
Windswept guitars on lonely decks forever;
Finally to answer all within one grave!

And this long wake of phosphor,
Furrow of all our travel--trailed derision!
Eyes crumble at its last kiss. Its long-drawn spell
Incites a yell. Slid on that backward vision
The mind is churned to spittle, whispering hell.

I wanted you...the embers of the Cross
Climbed by aslant and hubbling aromatically.
It is blood to remember; it is fire
To stammer back...It is
God--your namelessness. And the wash--

All night the water combed you with black
Insolence. You crept out simmering, accomplished.
Water rattled that tinging coil, your

Rehearsed hair--docile, alas, from many arms.
Yes, Eve--wraith of my unloved seed!

The Cross, a phantom, buckled--dropped below the dawn.
Light drowned the lithic trillions of your spawn.

--Hart Crane

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Let's Forget About All This Terrorism and War and Drink Historic Water

Obviously I've found the fortitude to go through some of my China pics. This one was taken on the highway outside of Xi'an - where I got dreadfully sick (maybe too much historic water drinking).

On the implausibility of the explosives plot

This is too good to miss:


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Make It So Number One

Why does Mr. Bush think that simply because he says something that it necessarily makes it so? What sort of upbringing and 'education' leads to such a warped understanding of reality that Captain Bush of the Starship Amerika can utter such statements as:
"Hezbollah started the crisis. And Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis."

Why then is all of the Arab world celebrating today Hezbollah's victory and declaring a major shift in Mid-East power following Israel's forced withdrawal from Lebannon? Only hours ago President Assad of Syria remarked that a new Middle-East has emerged in the wake of Hezbollah's victory and the US vision of the region has become an illusion. Israeli victory? Who knows - I'm not prone to believing the likes of Assad either. But there are still two missing Israeli soldiers - Oh, do we even remember them?

Perhaps the only bit of intellectual history ever glanced at by Captain Bush is Leo Strauss, who taught him that it is ok to lie and deceive if it furthers your own political agenda. (Though I seriously doubt ol Dubya could handle Strauss' intellectualism, and since George has publicly laughed about never having finished a book....). Even though a self-proclaimed 'born again Christian,' Captain Bush acts like an old school Jesuit, and I mean old school as in the 16th century. "Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church [or Cap'n Bush] so decides it." (from the Spiritual Exercises)

Two years ago I sat in the Johnson Room of the US Senate listening to a rather prominent majority party senator paint a rosy picture of reconstruction and 'democracy-building' in Iraq. According to him, it was the media (ah yes, that monolithic, Clinton-loving bugbear blamed for hating the maverick Captain Bush and repeatedly 'getting it wrong' when it comes to Iraq), by focusing only on the problems in Iraq, that was shaping the public dialogue and obfuscating all the good and positive developments in our little fledging democratic brother Iraq. Well, I have to say I was relieved to get the senator's assurances that everything is going just fine in Iraq. Phew! And I thought it looked grim. Silly me. Good thing I wasn't allowed to see any of the over 2500 coffins returning to US military bases as those whiley, left-wing, agitator journalists wanted; I might have gotten the wrong idea about what was happening in that wonderful new Mid-East democracy. I only wished that the senator would have assured me that we won Vietnam too, but time was limited.

I won't go so far as to say either side 'won' in this the latest war in the Middle-East, but it's clear to me that American policy has once again lost. And, by the way, what the hell type of 'diplomacy' simply dictates from the sidelines such drivel as "Syria knows what it must do"?

"Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic: it has no attributes peculiar to fallen angels. It is not even Machiavellian, for Machiavelli's teaching was graceful, subtle, and colorful. Nor is it Neronian. Nevertheless one may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns."
— Leo Strauss, Liberalism Ancient and Modern

Monday, August 14, 2006

"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I recently finished reading Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel and Holbrooke's reference to August 1914 should make us all stand up and give a shit about what Bush, Rice, Rove et al. have done to the world.

Two full-blown crises, in Lebanon and Iraq, are merging into a single emergency. A chain reaction could spread quickly almost anywhere between Cairo and Bombay. Turkey is talking openly of invading northern Iraq to deal with Kurdish terrorists based there. Syria could easily get pulled into the war in southern Lebanon. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are under pressure from jihadists to support Hezbollah, even though the governments in Cairo and Riyadh hate that organization. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of giving shelter to al-Qaeda and the Taliban; there is constant fighting on both sides of that border. NATO's own war in Afghanistan is not going well. India talks of taking punitive action against Pakistan for allegedly being behind the Bombay bombings. Uzbekistan is a repressive dictatorship with a growing Islamic resistance.

The only beneficiaries of this chaos are Iran, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who last week held the largest anti-American, anti-Israel demonstration in the world in the very heart of Baghdad, even as 6,000 additional U.S. troops were rushing into the city to "prevent" a civil war that has already begun.

This combination of combustible elements poses the greatest threat to global stability since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, history's only nuclear superpower confrontation. The Cuba crisis, although immensely dangerous, was comparatively simple: It came down to two leaders and no war. In 13 days of brilliant diplomacy, John F. Kennedy induced Nikita Khrushchev to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba.

Kennedy was deeply influenced by Barbara Tuchman's classic, "The Guns of August," which recounted how a seemingly isolated event 92 summers ago -- an assassination in Sarajevo by a Serb terrorist -- set off a chain reaction that led in just a few weeks to World War I. There are vast differences between that August and this one. But Tuchman ended her book with a sentence that resonates in this summer of crisis: "The nations were caught in a trap, a trap made during the first thirty days out of battles that failed to be decisive, a trap from which there was, and has been, no exit."

Preventing just such a trap must be the highest priority of American policy. Unfortunately, there is little public sign that the president and his top advisers recognize how close we are to a chain reaction, or that they have any larger strategy beyond tactical actions.

excerpt from: The Guns Of August
By Richard Holbrooke
Washington Post, 10 Aug 2006

Criminal Administration

Sorry for just posting articles, but... well, some things just have to get out there.

Jennifer Van Bergen
August 11, 2006
Jennifer Van Bergen is a journalist with a law degree. Her book, The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America has been called a “primer for citizenship.” She can be reached at
A few months from now, after midterm elections, if Democrats regain a majority in Congress—or if Democrats regain the Executive office in three years—almost the entire Bush administration could be standing trial.
That’s if Michigan Congressman John Conyers has his way. Conyers issued a scathing, nearly 400-page report detailing crimes that Conyers’ staff found were committed by members of the Bush administration.
Recently I wrote on about White House liability for war crimes. The Conyers report is both a larger inquiry—looking into crimes committed other than only war crimes—and a smaller one, because it considers largely crimes related to the invasion of Iraq.
The report notes:
If the present administration is willing to misstate the facts in order to achieve its political objectives in Iraq, and Congress is unwilling to confront or challenge their hegemony, many of our cherished democratic principles are in jeopardy. This is true not only with respect to the Iraq War, but also in regard to other areas of foreign policy, privacy and civil liberties, and matters of economic and social justice.
Included in the report are such acts as Bush’s determination to go to war before obtaining congressional authorization; misstating and manipulating the intelligence to justify that war; encouraging and countenancing torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees; and cover-ups and retribution.
The report has not gotten much media attention, which is shocking given the serious and far-reaching allegations contained in it. The violations of 26 different federal laws and regulations range from committing fraud against the U.S., making false statements to Congress, misuse of government funds, obstructing Congress, retaliating against witnesses, and violations of the War Powers Resolution, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and war crimes and torture statutes and treaties. Conyers further details violations of laws relating to leaking and misuse of classified and other government information.
All in all, the picture painted is of an executive gone awry. It is an administration that has no qualms about lying either to its own Congress or to the public that voted it into office. Actively conspiring to interfere with and obstruct proper government functioning, decision-making, or oversight is not beneath this crew. What about going to war preemptively without authorization by Congress or the War Powers Resolution? No problem for this crowd: if there is no intelligence and no justification to support the decision to send our servicemen and women into battle, make it up. If someone stands up and tells the truth—reveals the lies—get back at him by leaking to the press that his wife is an undercover CIA agent. That puts her and her colleagues in danger and harms national security? So what? Nothing is going to stop these guys from carrying out their mission of aggression. It has nothing to do with preserving American values, democracy, or peace.
There is hardly a subject area relating to Iraq where the administration did not engage in some dirty tricks. The administration, according to the report, knowingly or recklessly made false statements about links between Saddam and al-Qaida and 9/11, Saddam’s alleged efforts to acquire nuclear weapons or his acquisition of uranium from Niger or possession of chemical or biological weapons, the Niger forgeries, and the “sliming” of Ambassador Joseph Wilson and outing of his CIA wife, Valerie Plame. Nor did they tell the public the truth about what was being done to detainees: unlawful deportations, “ghosting” detainees, authorizing torture and more.
The extent of the criminal enterprise is breathtakingly upsetting. Why? Because we all know every piece of it but not until the list is all put together and the laws are set forth in front of us do we see what we already knew. This is a criminal administration.
There are few stones unturned in the Conyers Report, but two important laws which Conyers does not cite are the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the general conspiracy law.
(The report actually does cite another part of the conspiracy statute, conspiracy to defraud the government, but it doesn’t cite the general conspiracy clause. Conyers does not try to pull together the substantive offenses—the actual criminal acts. However, he doesn’t need to: Any prosecutor worth his salt would jump at RICO and conspiracy charges with these sets of facts.)
Either RICO or conspiracy are appropriate where there is evidence of an agreement by more than one person (conspiracy) to commit a crime, or where there is evidence of a “pattern of racketeering activity”—which can be any act from a long list of criminal enterprise behaviors, including obstruction of justice, obstruction of criminal investigations, traveling interstate to promote a criminal enterprise, transactions involving chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, international terrorism, and many others.
Either RICO or general conspiracy are used when many separate, otherwise unconnected acts may be viewed as part of a larger plan by more than one person. Indeed, when one considers the acts engaged in by the Bush administration which the report claims violate the law, it is hard to avoid the impression that they constitute a criminal plan or enterprise.
While Byron York commented in the conservative National Review that the Conyers Report is the “Democrats’ Impeachment Map,” the Democrats have taken no action and do not seem inclined to do so. But the report is both less and more than an impeachment map. Impeachment does not put criminals in jail. Conyers’ report could.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Case Study in How the Feds Want to Destroy the Foundations of the Republic

Should journalist Josh Wolf be afraid?
By Ryan Blitstein
Article Published Apr 19, 2006

At times, Josh Wolf is a journalist. At others, he's a blogger, an activist, or an anarchist. At this particular time, one thing's for certain: He's got a videotape the federal government wants.
The 23-year-old San Franciscan possesses a tape that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Finigan deems essential to a grand jury investigation of a protest last July that resulted in injuries to two San Francisco Police Department officers.
To Wolf, the government subpoena of his tape represents a threat to his ability to gather news as an independent reporter. He believes it's yet another reel cast in a Justice Department fishing expedition that will stop at nothing to put his activist compatriots behind bars.
To the government, however, Wolf is a misguided, self-important young radical withholding evidence without legal justification. Regardless of the outcome, Wolf's predicament raises questions about how much information journalists should turn over to the federal government, and how the legal system handles those who draw little distinction between citizen journalism and citizen activism.
Though many facts are disputed, all parties agree that Wolf videotaped a July 8, 2006, protest march in San Francisco against the G8 Summit taking place in Scotland. At previous protests, Wolf had attended as an advocate for a cause, but this time he went as a journalist, gathering footage for his videoblog, "The Revolution Will Be Televised" (
"Most of the time I go out, I feel like I'm a fly on the wall," Wolf says. "Whether or not I agree with what they're doing, my role is to document it."
On the portion of Wolf's video that he released publicly, dozens of protesters, some dressed in black and wearing face masks, marched down the street in the Mission carrying signs and placards with anticapitalist, anti-government slogans or bearing the logo of the group Anarchist Action. Around dusk, things went awry; the tape shows marchers setting off fireworks and dragging metal newsstand boxes into the street to block traffic.
SFPD Officers Michael Wolf (no relation to Josh) and Pete Shields were among those called to the scene to quell what was fast becoming a small riot, with protesters allegedly breaking windows of businesses with baseball bats. When their patrol car was blocked by a very large foam sign under the chassis, the cops exited the vehicle near the corner of Valencia and 23rd. Wolf chased after a man he suspected of placing the sign under the car. In Josh's video, Officer Wolf is shown struggling to cuff the suspect amid shouts of: "Get off him, you're choking him!" and "Hey cop, you're going to jail for police brutality!" Above the din, Officer Wolf heard the sound of fireworks and saw smoke coming from the direction of his patrol vehicle.
Back at the car, Shields attempted to arrest someone lighting fireworks under the vehicle, igniting the foam underneath. Another protester then struck Shields from behind. By the time Officer Wolf returned to the vehicle, his partner was bleeding profusely from the head, the victim of a fractured skull.
Local law enforcement has charged three protesters with misdemeanors. The federal government now seeks justice on behalf of Shields, as well as investigating the damage to his vehicle.
Because he was videotaping Officer Wolf at the time, it's improbable that Josh Wolf's tape also contains footage of Shields being hit on the head or of fireworks being placed under the patrol vehicle. The Justice Department is likely looking for something else that may be on his tape, though they won't divulge what that something is.
Wolf doesn't want to give up the complete, unedited version of the tape. He believes the federal government is indiscriminately monitoring antiwar groups under suspicion of terrorism, and as a journalist he shouldn't be forced to surrender unused footage in support of that investigation. He won't say, though, what's on the 15 or more minutes of the confidential portion of video.
Josh Wolf doesn't look like much of a revolutionary. With slicked, wavy hair, long sideburns, and the heels of his jeans fraying over Eurotrash sneakers, he seems more like a college kid (which he is — he'll graduate from San Francisco State this May). Yet Wolf believes that the "corporate media" will collapse within a decade, and, as co-founder of various indie media-related projects, he hopes to help create the alternative that replaces it. But that future hasn't arrived, so Wolf works as outreach director of a community college television station. When he realized his July protest video was worth something, he sold an edited version to local TV stations.
A few days after the protest march, trouble arrived at his door, in the form of a geeky man carrying a briefcase. "Can I ask you a few questions?"
Wolf thought the guy was a reporter. So he opened the entrance gate of the building and let him in.
Then the man flashed his badge: FBI.
The agent, his partner, and two SFPD investigators interrogated Wolf for an hour and a half about the protest. He doesn't remember much of what they asked, other than their wanting to know who struck Shields. Eventually, the investigators asked for his videotape, and Wolf told them he had to speak with his (at the time, nonexistent) lawyer. Wolf dialed the phone number ingrained in his head for years — 205-1011 — the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. He learned that the authorities needed a subpoena to force him to give up the tape. In February, FBI agents served him with one.
Two weeks ago, Wolf's pro-bono lawyers argued a motion in federal court to quash the subpoena before Judge Maria-Elena James. They claimed that Wolf is protected by California's shield law, which allows journalists to maintain confidential unpublished information obtained during newsgathering. The law lets journalists cast a wide net in reporting, even though they may end up seeing or hearing actions that are illegal. Granting the government widespread power to request unused recordings, Wolf's lawyers argued, would turn journalists into an arm of the Justice Department, creating a chilling effect among citizens, thereby violating their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.
Of course, this contention assumed that Wolf, a self-appointed citizen-journalist, is every bit as much a "professional" as the men and women with years of experience and an editor reviewing their copy — something that's still a matter of debate among the media. Nevertheless, as more Americans become self-appointed citizen journalists, with camera phones and digital cameras and even cheap handheld video cameras, more "news" will come from people like Wolf.
Federal privilege law, which offers fewer protections for journalists than California law, applies in federal court. But it's unclear which federal crimes took place on July 8 and the government has made very little of the investigation public, although its court filing argued that protesters damaging a police vehicle, paid for partly with federal funds, was enough to rouse suspicion of federal crimes. Wolf's lawyers contended that the subpoena was an unreasonable use of federal power to aid local and state investigations.
Wolf called the investigation an FBI witch hunt of anarchists, pointing out that the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has monitored many antiwar groups since 9/11, including Indymedia.
To demonstrate that the subpoena was an unreasonable violation of his rights as a journalist, Wolf had to prove that the grand jury was overreaching. He'd been visited by members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the SFPD together, and he cited other recent indiscriminate monitoring and prosecution of suspected anarchists by the Justice Department. However, without access to details of the grand jury investigation, there was little he could prove.
On April 5, Judge James denied Wolf's motion to quash, partly based on an in camera (non-public) review of some portions of the grand jury investigation, which weren't shown to Wolf. It's likely that the government will now re-subpoena the tape.
Wolf doesn't have many options. If he refuses to turn over the tape, he could wait for an arrest warrant, which might lead to jail time if he doesn't cooperate. Or he could wait until the government obtains a warrant to search his apartment, and make it very hard for them to find the video. There's also a slight chance of working out a deal to show the government only a portion of the tape.
In her ruling, the judge noted that the protest took place in public, rendering Wolf's argument of reporter confidentiality "meaningless." Taken to its logical extreme, that reasoning means any recording or reporting done by anyone in public is not confidential, and is the equivalent of transforming the commons into a Big Brother-esque monitored zone. Yet as long as the Justice Department suspects that some federal crime may have been committed, they can subpoena anything that might be applicable to the investigation.
"The Assistant U.S. Attorney said the government has the duty to see if anything suspicious occurred, and then determine if there's a crime," Wolf says. "That's not a world I want to live in."

Don't kid yourselves fellas. The Bush Imperium has damaged the republic far more than the Saudi goons of 9/11. Oh...and China delenda est!

Check out Josh's blog at

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Laptop Teacher

I have been wondering if there is any way to get this blog out of the long tail. If you have any ideas please comment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Laptop Teacher

August 3, 2006

An interesting perspective on the relationship between education and big business. Education and Industry

Opening Salvos


“Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire” William B. Yeats.

Jean Piaget

“A teacher should not be seen as a transmitter of knowledge but as a guide to a child’s exploration and discovery of the world.”

“The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done.”

Penelope of Ithaca

That's who WOP, MP and I felt like at Nanny's -- gazing longingly at that door, waiting for our dear Odysseus to return. To no avail... Ah well, this just means we'll have to have twice a good a time at Nanny's tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! Now I'm told my flight is not until 6pm tomorrow. I swear I think I'm trapped here by some evil sadistic Hong-Kong freak. (Not you Duc.) This means trouble for the Nanny's gathering. From my calculations this flight schedule means I won't reach DC until at least 9pm or so, that's with no delays. I'd still love to catch a pint at Nanny's, but I have no clue what time I'll crawl in.

Fairly Evident, But They Insisted On The Sign Anyway

I noticed that a certain 'Mully C' slipped himself rather surreptitiously onto PaddyWop so I thought I'd let him know that I'm showing the colours in China. Good to see you moving about out there my friend. You need to get some of your own writing up here. I'll have WOP add you to the contributor list.

H Hour Minus 12

It's gettin tight here fellas. The commies have now shut down Hotmail, so I can't get e-mail out.

At right a seemingly appropriate pic from my travels.