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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Benefit for John Stabb

I recently heard of benefit for John Stabb formerly front man for the DC Punk band Government Issue. John was mugged jumped a few weeks ago and savagely beaten John Stabb Benefit. He was beaten badly enough to require surgery to his head and face, insertion of Titanium plates (cue Didjits Plate in my head from Vietnam), and attendant numerous large hospital bills. I have a recollection that his real name is Schroder. Stabb being his nom-du-roque. I learned of this only last Thursday via Diane's show on WFMU in New Jersey !DIANE'S KAMIKAZE FUN MACHINE! Out of town out of state, giving out the news.

There were two bands I saw more times than any other, not deliberately, it just worked out that way. Government Issue was one of them; I must seen them 10 or more times. The other was the Slickee Boys (Kim Kane, the mask, c'mon I got no regrets). My old friend Derrick Hsu put out the GI record Joy Ride on his Fountain of Youth label. Which I am loooking at as I type this. Huh, it says here Tom Berard shot the video used for the cover. Hey Tom. Wherever you are. The "Marc" who put the benefit site together I imagine is Marc Alberstadt  who was also in Goverment Issue [name on the poster for the first benefit show is a Marc Ganancias - ed. note]. Marc did a show at WMUC when I was a freshman [or was that Kenny Alberstadt?] For that matter Tom Lyle did one for a brief period also. I never understood why people didn't like Tom Lyle. He wasn't any harder to get along with than plenty of other people I've known.

I used to see John Schroder around the University of Maryland a few years ago, even occaisionaly in McKeldin Library where I work. I assumed he was getting a degree. My friend Rob Bratton dug up a myspace page of his at some point "Stabb ... john stabb.". I saw from this Mr. Stabb had recently gotten married. There is plenty of myspace support building up on that space now. He seemed content. Well, as content as xpunkers get.

Ich bin ein G.I.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Mantra Petraeus

What meaning should be drawn from the invoking General Petraeus's name multiple times in multiple speeches by the administration and their household parrots Bush Leans On Petraeus as War Dissent Deepens - Most obviously that they wish to create the impression of turning the war over to the Generals. Or at least the responsibility for it's outcome Top U.S. Official Asks Congress Not to Put Limits on Iraq Mission - New York Times. Few, even among those voraciously maintaining it, believe a military solution along the current lines is possible or likely. It means as well that they believe that Petraues is a safe general. Someone embodying a determination, optimism and credibility they find useful and manageable. In this year of magical thinking they believe if they remove it, day to day aspects of the war, from themselves they can believe for a time that anything is still possible. 'Mistakes may have happened but we are all agreed victory must be ours.' And above all: Failure must not be named Neo. They intend kicking the can down the road, keeping the troops at full level through to the next administration so that it can never be said, they didn't achieve victory | The Iraq war is lost. Victory is forever just ahead.

These are the curious tones that fill the pages of the nations newspapers. The epitome of which was William Kristol's recent OpEd in the Washington Post Why Bush Will Be A Winner. The commentary on Kristal's piece divided between whether he is trying to delude us or himself more. It included Howard Kurtz's piece also in the Post Howard Kurtz - Kristol's War -, which noted the piece had at least one eager reader, Almost overlooked was an unsigned editorial about the same time from the Washington Post's own editorial staff The Phony Debate - An ugly gratuitous excursion into the world of opposites. A scurrilous assault on objective reality, of the sort that severely undermines the Washington Post's credibility. When it comes to that TPM's Josh Marshall pointed out that the Washington Post's editorial board consistently supported this war in its conception and execution As Bad As Bush. This editorial is just a part of the general chorus of the war party to redefine the present, the actual and the acceptable. Much more of this sort of commentary will be seen in coming weeks as the program to manufacture a consensus moves forward. A consensus that declares victory however redefined to be necessary and achievable Anne Applebaum - No Magic Bullets For Iraq - But at the same time avoids discussion of how this war came to this pass; how it came to be at all. Or where it is going after 2008  U.S. Is Seen in Iraq Until at Least Õ09 - New York Times.

One question that will be taken up but largely left unanswered is sustainability. Just how long can this surge be extended and kept up. Is the military leveling to the political leadership? Is the political leadership leveling with us? Further, after the surge got underway, the original scheme was forced to an initial adjustment to include deployments in area's outside the focus of the surge, the towns outside of Baghdad. This as the insurgents sought to avoid getting caught in a war of attrition while maintaining a level of socially debilitating violence. While the military seems to have dealt with this as units moved into the theater, it seems dependent on the increased troop levels. The initial plan cobbled together by the amateur imperialists at the American Enterprise Institute did not seem to envision the slightest level of adaption to U S initiative. The insurgent combatants may have started out with minimal or borrowed competence, but the crucible of war is a highly directed classroom. When I read the words of the colonels or generals only recently do I see the sense that they understand they are dealing with an enemy which will gain competence as they fight them, and continually adapt new tactics. Even then it is always coached in sour bleating tones that somehow the enemy cheats as they do this.

As the surge gets under way and a surge plus is folded in Why Petraeus' intriguing new Iraq strategy is probably doomed. - By Fred Kaplan - Slate Magazine. It seems increasingly clear that the purpose here is to reach for a military solution (and largely with U S forces) in the absence of any forthcoming political solution. It is worth noting that an equal surge is under way among the contractor force which was quite substantial already (ranging between 80 to 120 percent of the allied uniformed force) Silent surge in contractor 'armies' | Drifting through all this still is the Baker-Hamilton plan, and rumor and denial on the existence of a plan b to deal with the possibility that the future will demonstrate that the surge accomplished little of a permanent nature and the political tenability of continued occupation no longer exists.

The current 'message' treatment that al qaeda in mesopotamia is one with al qaeda classic confuses rhetorical battles with real battles Lergely courtesy of General Bergner   Dan Froomkin - Bush's Baghdad Mouthpiece - Yes, al qaeda in Iraq chose to trumpet a association with Bin Laden's franchise. Notwithstanding what reasons they might have it does create a minor public relations opening for the U S. It is not; though, a particularly real or militarily useful analysis. No one truly interested in defeating either force would take insight or make critical decisions based on such posturing.

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Monday, July 23, 2007
Tobacco Road

Another person seeking to escape the consequences of disgrace is Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The suggestion which shouldn't be allowed is that anything which a certain number of people accept, is alright and can't be judged.

Michael Vick commands a number of marketable abilities, and commands by this a further ability to make a enormous amount of money, through shoe contracts and being a franchise player in the NFL. He leverages this ability against censure. Or rather he did; behind this now circulates doubt NFL to Vick: Stay away from camp | Sustained success depends on intangibles, particularly leadership. Jeff Shultz writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution quotes Vince Lombardi:

"Leadership rests not only upon ability, not only upon capacity; having the capacity to lead is not enough," Lombardi said. "The leader must be willing to use it. His leadership is then based on truth and character. There must be truth in the purpose and will power in the character." Jeff Schultz: Has Vick lost his ability to lead? | Sports Columnists |

A courser way of looking at this is to observe that marketability is grounded on results. Vick is working hard to remind people of other promising athletes that never showed results  Vick Ordered by Goodell To Stay Away From Camp -

Dog fighting is as Senator Byrd terms it a barbaric practice. Senator Byrd became quite exercised on this on the floor of the Senate the other day Byrd on Michael Vick: Going to Hell - Capitol Briefing. It is unnecessary cruelty. Cruelty to animals, raise doubts among us that are older than peta. They are older than modern ideas against cruelty to children, in the form of child labor laws, which largely followed the regulation of animal treatment. Dog fighting is the deliberate maiming and tormenting of another living creature. For sportm for entertainment. Torturing and killing them if they are not suitably amusing. Breeding hostility and aggression into these animals to such an extent that they are breed under forced conditions What kind of dogfighting equipment did they find on Michael Vick's property? - By Michelle Tsai - Slate Magazine. A hostility of their nature they never would come to without human agency. More humiliating for us that dogs are a creature we can work with so familiarly, because we domesticated them and joined their destiny with ours. All this is underscored by the very real criminal penalties that lie within this indictment: up to six years in jail and $350,000 in fines NFL suspends Vick after dog-fighting charges | Breaking news | Guardian Unlimited Sport.

There is a type of wealthy that will always do what they want, they have their own rules. And while their wealth orders the world (or disorders it) and sets the contours of our existence, they keep their affairs and their enthusiasms to themselves. They live in fragile alliance with each other and the politically powerful, as separate as they can manage from us. The trend setting pop powerful; members of a second celebrated rank of the wealthy or famous, live in our world. They seek consciously or unconsciously to normalize their enthusiasms. Even as they sometimes should be curbed.

Sally Jenkins speculates on Vick's need to show he still remembered his own tobacco road, summed up in the incantation: Keeping it real. She doubts there is anything real to idealizing nostalgia in the life of capricious celebrity Sally Jenkins - Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Vick - Vick's apparent dabbling in the shadowy world of dog fighting points to a need for subculture. To the role of subculture against primary culture. This is subculture understood simply as any culture that exists in counterpoint to the dominant culture. There are those who will who respond to blood-sport like dogfighting all the more for the existence of others who will make it seem glamorous. They seek the mystique of subculture, The mystery cult of celebrity. This in return increases the marketability of individual ability intermixed with transgressing persona.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Social Conservative.

Sen. Vitter continues to show up for work this week surprising many Dana Milbank - Sex and the Conservative - who figured that a politician revealed to have a strong fond heartfelt attraction for prostitutes while maintaining a portfolio on the sanctity of marriage and family would go quietly away  Senator's Number on 'Madam' Phone List - But Senator Vitter believes that the time has come for indiscretion to become discretion. What would beating this rap mean? French style political privacy, a respect for the separation of spheres? But this would require the republican caucus backing away from certain aspects of the SOCON agenda. Backing away because they also respect the sphere of privacy, and because it is becoming increasingly clear they don't really believe in their agenda. Or it could mean a course of a pure hypocrisy; continuing to bully-pulpit morality - not even pretending to practice what they preach. Seeking only to master the art of looking away, being discrete.

There are those who would have us understand that this is One Little Sin, scarcely a bump. It does not seem to be the case where this was a single simple lapse in judgement by the Senator, but a longer more extensive pattern of behavior, extending back to his home state Louisiana. The social conservative rank and file shouldn't think that Vitter's hanging-on to his office is a victory for their cause. They shouldn't think the brave sons they've elected to speak for them have any intention of living by their norms. That is not what those who have created societies consisting of distant privileged elites do, or have ever done. This exposes a hypocrisy not just of the movements leaders, ambitious contemptuous and entitled, but of all the self-styled righteous among them covetous and permissive, of those in the right clubs.

If you attack others as Senator Vitter made a career doing; harshly, unfairly, and then prove vulnerable, those you attacked will take you down. This is not mercy perhaps, but fairness first. Mercy is extended pointed towards balance. And then only to the genuinely contrite, fairness allows nothing else. As Ruth Marcus points out some, David Ignatius among others, ask for the decency of privacy for such fallen figures Ruth Marcus - Private Sin, Public Matter - Some say "look his wife forgives him", many if not all of these people still doubt Hillary Clinton's sincerity ascribe various motives to her decision and it will always be held against her, by them especially. On the other side of this divide Effie Barry stopped listening to Mayor Marion, and Jeri Ryan, as lovely as Jessica Devlin in Shark as she was as SevenOfNine, left her game congressman husband. I'm sure; though, Sen. Vitter didn't intend to bring his wife out in front of the cameras to send the message "my wife is giving me a pass so should you." Vitter is a public figure. His public positions, and exercise of public power were to trumpet his sanctimonious superiority over others and use this power to negate rights and freedoms they felt they had claim to. His standing before us is entirely public. He has no automatic right to retreat to privacy to escape contradiction. His wife by whatever measure she makes choices made hers. But we the public still have right to voice our opinion that he walk away from us, disgraced.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007
SF Sorrow

 WZBC, Boston Colleges radio station, has a time slot Friday evenings they call Test Pattern. Designed to be an hour long examination of a particular theme. Generally it is the last radio show I listen to at work before packing it in for the week end. John Straub, did one of these last Friday, the second in the last month or so, Test Pattern: New noise from San Francisco. He featured a number of local bands from the Sanfrancisco area like the Sic Alps, the Hospitals, the Oh Sees or OCs they have seem to have existed under both, and the Gowns. I gotta say - I enjoyed this a great deal.

 I like Bands that are about something. In the first place I ain't adverse to noise. even arty garage grind noise. What I like in a rock band is for a band to exude a sense that they're up to something. A pop band can have that, of course, as much as an indie or underground band (as they used to call them). As well all these kinds of bands can be afflicted by a wan me-too-ism where the controlling motavation is simply to be in a band and the prevailing mode is imitation.  The bands featured in this special did not leave me with this latter feeling. They are all listening intently to deeply personal muses. I already knew the Sic Alps and liked hearing their stuff again - which doesn't get played that often.  John Straub the Dj came back and played a great song off their forthcoming release on his regular show today [16Jul07]. I seem to have left the piece of paper I wrote the name down on at work.  The other standout song from that set was "White like Heaven" by the band Gown.

 The falling tooled apparatus that is the recording industry and their flailing attempts at capturing revenue streams has very little to do with DIY endeavors like this San Francisco noise scene.  As Jeffery Lee Pierce once sang: "invention was betrayed by the machine..."

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Thursday, July 12, 2007
Project Mersh

(Having not gotten around to posting this by Monday. I rewrote parts and added links from the weekends press.)

Sunday 15 July is the deadline for the new rates on radio broadcasts of recorded music and things that resemble radio broadcasts. On Thursday an Appeals Court issued a denial of stay of execution, although a more formal appeal of the decision is underway. There was by SoundExchanges a last minute change of heart on an immediate enforcement of certain fees, the courts have established they can collect. The Boston Globe, PC world, Ars Technica and the Washington Post all wrote on this Friday.

WFMU's perspective as one of the potentially effected institutions can be read via Monday dj Liz Berg's entry on the WFMU blog, from last Monday WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Radio News You Can't Use, and now this Monday WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Update on Webcasting Royalty Controversy where she laments that things are still very unclear. The fees are punitive and have to be avoided by small non-profits like WFMU and their course will probably be to cap the number of on-line listeners. An iTWire story painted the fee increase gambit as an attempt gain some form of control over internet radio before it became so big that it would dictate terms back to the labels iTWire - Net radio stay of execution really a stay of suicide. The article suggests that the point where the SoundExchange could act unilaterally may have already passed, and that they and the RIAA misread the situation and woke their judges up for no reason.

A small Washington Post article last Tuesday Jeffrey H. Birnbaum - Radio Royalties: Reprising Ol' Blue Eyes' Battle - strongly misrepresented the situation and was indicative of a belated PR effort by SoundExchange. The article appeared in a regularly occurring column covering lobbying from an insider perspective. Today's 16Jul07 Ars Technica story backs this notion up by arguing that SoundExchange seems to have transitioned to bargaining mode Net radio "compromise" hinged on DRM adoption. Hastened by increasing congressional scrutiny.

Kicking around in my mind as a followed these turns of event was the Rolling Stone magazine piece from last month Rolling Stone : The Record Industry's Decline. Most of the quotes that article collected were from people either saying one way or another that the Music Industry was dead or dying, or seething that they should have killed off the very idea of MP3s (the mere concept of a digital compressing codec) when they had the chance. Hunting it down; stabbing it with their hay forks, clubbing it with their dung shovels.  Hilary Rosen's comment was that pop music "no longer has economic value, just [merely] emotional value." Another comment that caught my eye that this is the biggest change in the Music Business since sheet music gave way to prerecorded music (records) in the 1920's. Both comments are telling. I don't know exactly how these people viewed the prerecorded music / pop-star phase (or era) of music that is modern cultures relation to the more enduring notion of music performance. Or from where they got the idea of it's permanence. Its unclear to me whether mass culture demanded the hit-record pop-star business model in order for musicians to make livings in a traditional way. By playing out at ticket-collecting venues and making a reputation. Even at this I think I am relying too much on 19th century notions of a musicians livelihood: music halls and traveling sacred music shows, opera stars and orchestras all of which were very big business in the fifty years preceding radio. I don't sympathize with the record industries travails. They always preferred prefab imitations, of their own control and devising, to artists that came to them with their own ideas of what they were about. They crushed more music than they promulgated. If the sand castle they built their fortunes on is to slip into the sea - eventually. It won't matter to me.

But forget radio or mp3's for now. There's always tv commercials (part iv). Here should be glimpsed the perspective of those who are now doubting the tradition value of their back catalogue and are considering again the alternatives. First: I have finally learned who does the song "Let me take your photo" that was used in a printer commercial a few months ago. They were the Speedies and they were (are from Brooklyn and 1978. Then there was the big bougie SUV commercial from last year that inexplicably ran a Moondog tune "Bird" (as repurposed by a British DJ) in the background. Moondog was either a mostly crazed Street Viking or a noted modern composer Moondog - Wikipedia. Either way I owe this bit of awareness to WFMU's Irwin Chusid. New Order's "Age of Consent" was out fronting for something - I can't actually remember what - a bank I think. I wonder what sort of subtextual message is being passed on there. Lastly, a different sort of thing really, I caught the White Stripes version of "We're going to be friends" in a music bed for a promo on PBS. "...when silly thoughts run through my head about the bugs and alphabet."

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Ordered Autocracy

One of the large scale machinations at hand I find unsettling is the movement towards what some call ordered democracy. This is a rhetoric irony. Not an oxymoron but a related cleverness. Order is sufficient unto itself here. Democracy is window dressing. In a few months China will hold a major party assembly. At one point during the pre festivity jockeying President Hu Jintao, who also happens to be the chief of the communist party, places himself at a podium where he says "attempts to modernize China's political system must not jeopardize one-party rule" China's leader vows to uphold one-party rule - International Herald Tribune the piece quotes him as later saying He embraced greater political participation but ruling out western-style democracy. By this he simply means any democracy at all.

I'm occasionally tempted to try to write a post where I lay out the difference between big D democracy and little d democracy. What stops me is being able to come up with a comprehensive accounting of this , not just a shade or facet here or there. I can't even agree with others I talk to about this which gets the big D and which the little d. There is what some call western democracy or American democracy. This in all its exceptional quality is thoroughly embedded in our particular history, culture, institutions, and experience. In as much, it is in its fragile essence not transferable. This is to the considerable disappointment of those who desire to treat it as an export product. Against this there is a basic notion to human affairs where legitimacy is accorded to the governance which places decision and control over ones surroundings and happiness closest to the level of the individual. This autonomy does not proscribe our tribal nature. The individuals first and primary choice is to cede a measure of that autonomy to the collection. But this is a choice, the price of belonging, and the individual still remains the wellspring of choice. Such as it is. Hu Jintao knows only his own autonomy, and his own desire. He can not know the desires of others more clearly than he knows his own. Order is merely the coercive power of the state submerging all other will.

Critically its becoming less clear what will exists at the top of this closed system. In the wake of the minor Thomas the Tank engine lead paint scandel a reporter associated with the New York Times gained entry to the factory complex involved and began asking questions and taking pictures. The management responded by putting the entire facility in lockdown followed by eight hours of haggling with the local police and party officials over who had the greater authority to hold or release an out of place reporter A prisoner in Toyland - Print Version - International Herald Tribune. In China the game between billionaire plutocrats and party bureaucrats is too close to call. Running the same week was a news story detailing new concessions to Chinese laborers on rights and benefits As Unrest Rises, China Broadens Workers' Rights - New York Times. And then this week in a sad incident that speaks more of insecurity, and panic than anything else Chinese Regulator Sentenced to Death - the Chinese government executed a former head of the agency which corresponds to the Food and Drug Administration Vietnam latest news - Thanh Nien Daily [I chose this link rather than one from a American newspaper simply to observe the highly restrained coverage here]. The US rarely executes or even jails bureaucrats. Our manner of having our officials decorously wait for the revolving door of industry to open for them, for their reward, soothes or at least obscures outrage.

When a figure like Hu Jintao presiding over a successful economy makes a statement like he did, it is certain that every other autocratically minded ruler, or owner of a one party state is encouraged and emboldened. An object lesson learned. This was true of Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet who a few weeks ago felt confident enough to blow off criticism from President Bush Bush Prods Vietnamese President On Human Rights and Openness - and congressional leaders Lawmakers criticize Vietnamese president - Yahoo! News during a state visit.

While talking this over with my friend Tran, she corrected me by saying whoever he was (and she knew who he was) he was not "president" because communist countries don't have presidents. When they say they do, and present someone as president, it is only a trick. I, because I am cursed with unrelenting literalism took the time to determine that he was by office President and Vietnamese chief of state CIA - The World Factbook -- Vietnam. In addition Vietnam has a prime minister named Nguyen Tan Dung. I take her point though, because beyond these men there is also (if I'm reading this right) Nong Duc Manh who is leader of the communist party of Vietnam. There is only the CPV. The chair of the CPV and whatever committee sits in closed room at the table with him is the only real goverment Vietnam has. Another small marker of the legitimacy of a state is how closely its formal apparatus of governance captures the actual lines of decision and force.

Vladimir Putin, former KGB colonel, thanks to the monopoly and control to the vast energy resources of the Russian state has the inclination and ability to reorder the Russian federation control the borders and borderlands. He too even as he plans his retirement and replacement is a figure of ascending confidence, and energy. Whereas China's leaders have a nascent disquiet that keeps them nervous Guardian Unlimited | China's one-party monopoly of power is coming to an end. Putin has a nemisis. It is the sort of thing that makes my friend Rob Bratton, a chess player, happy. Putin's nemisis is Gary Kasporov, Grand Master and Champion Garry Kasparov's risky anti-Putin game plan | Kasparov has been working to make himself a thorn in Putin's side for some time now, forming movements, political partys writting editorials for the New York Times. Also getting himself very publically arrested at rallies he has organized BBC NEWS | Europe | Kasparov arrested at Moscow rally. Recently Toronto's Globe and Mail did a profile on Kasparov's struggle The Globe and Mail: 'The beast of Baku' takes on Putin in the most important game of his life to keep Russia's brief interlude of liberty from slipping away and becoming one more example of the superiority of the managed security-state, and orderly democracy.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007
On Ducks

I read a interesting Washington Post article on the domestication of cats last week Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? (Hint: They Can't Open Cans) - Curiously it fit with a conversation I had with Tran a few days before. This initially centered on her disaffection for cats, which I can understand. She was loooking at a picture in a magazine which showed an unhappy wet and soapy cat in a sink. Cats don't like baths much, I remarked. Cats don't like anything much, she returned. I get along with that type of bunny people call cats, but not everyone does. Even dogs supposedly man's best friend did little for her. I couldn't believe that none of the beasties we share this world with left her untouched. So I tried to draw her out with stories and inquiries into the animal kingdom.

 The story the Washington Post related of the self domestication of cats matched her perception of them as creatures of shared convenience. They fed themselves where she grew up, and formed no bond of close attachement with people in a countyside devoid of kibbles n' bits. But they were only one among many creatures on the stage.
 "Cats and Dogs are fine I suppose", she said "but they do not make you laugh, they do not amuse you. It is hard to tell if they like you."   
 What animal does do that? "Ducks. Oh they are such troublemakers. They follow you around and try to get into the house. They are so mischievous."

 The tone of her voice and look in her eyes as she focused on an image from long ago from a lost carefree memory of her youth surprised me.  Now these were not your wild green headed malards or your basic little black duck. She took a moment to make that clear. These ducks were big ducks. Ducks the size of geese. The sort of ducks you have in Asian countries. I went to Wikipedia to check up on Ducks  Domesticated duck - Wikipedia. I figured she was talking about what I would call a farm duck. A Long Island Duck as I find they are called here. The Long Island Duck is a breed which however came from China in the 1880's and are also known as Pekin Ducks. Looking over this picture which I have cribbed off of Wikipedia I find it easy to see this as one of ducks Tran described.A picture named 180px-Hausente_b.jpg I lived next door to a dairy farm when I was young, Prentiss farm, in Plymouth MA. I don't recall specifically if they had ducks but they had critters of various sizes and shapes all over that place. Swans nested in the marshes by the Eel river. I learned early you do not pester swans.

 One curious thing that came back to me as I write this is the field trip my second grade class took to the county farm. I have still one distinct memory of that, a man feeding some enourmous pigs. We kept well back not only for the fact that the pigs seemed inclined to munch on anything in front of them as much as for the fact that at that time the Plymouth county farm was also the Plymouth county jail.

This post is for Tran a girl who loved and misses her troublesome Ducks.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
St. Libby

I need to say something about President Bush's commuting of Irving Libby's sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice  Bush spares Libby from prison sentence - The Boston Globe. Even if it adds little or nothing to the discussion.  For my own piece of mind. Now this occurred after the sentencing which set 30 months for the sentence and after an appeals court declined to let Mr. Libby remain free while he prodded an appeals process forward. Both of which were in keeping with proper jurisprudence and full due process. Niether clemency nor leniency  have ever been hallmarks of George W. Bush as others have pointed out Libby's commutation is at odds with Bush's sentencing policy. - By Harlan J. Protass - Slate Magazine. Nor did he allow any one to question him A Decision Made Largely Alone - Like a pop music performer caught in a "cult-status" career death spiral President Bush is playing these days only to the right hand box seats. The right wing - particular and certain segments of the right wing - pushed hard for a pardon of Libby now and not later and they were not about to be denied by President Bush Bush Does Not Rule Out a Libby Pardon - New York Times. They undoubted counted Vice President Cheney among their number. What they want exists within the narrow confines of their own self-interest and not the nations.

 The words fairness and unfairness, just and unjust, Law and Lawlessness have been thrown into the air. Some point out that commuting sentences, pardoning felons are among the Presidents assigned powers and therefore unremarkable Why Bush was right to spare Libby. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine. This does not mean they are beyond remarking on when used, questioned, examined for hypocrisy. The problem, before you can decide on or assign categorys among any of the above, before one can make make claims that this is just politics and therefore it is righteous to protect the troops (Libby). One must confront what the root of this situation was: the war in Iraq. Which rests on a foundation of illegitimate and deceitful justifications. It is an unjust war. It doesn't serve us to look past that to what arrangements can be made for Iraq now.

 The vendetta against Joe Wilson, his wife and what they represented is what occupied Libby.  A threat to the monotone drumbeat of fearmongering and war, This is what motivated him in the summer of 2003 and motivated him in 2006 to obstruct the grand jurys investigation and obscure the White House's role. While it is true Libby worked for others as he did this. He desired to work for them, choose to work them and choose to create and implement their schemes. For his demonstrable thwarting of the investigation he was indicted and convicted of perjury. President Bush did not find error in this. He found fault in the idea of imprisonment. Falling back on the discreditable conceit that for white boys - shame is punishment enough. Beyond this is the lurking shade of quid pro quo arrangements  Dan Froomkin - Obstruction of Justice, Continued - The notion that if he did his part and took the fall, a pardon would follow. Complicating and intensifying the questionable nature of this is that further testimony by Mr. Libby might embarrass or implicate people close to the President even the President Bush and Cheney walk, too | (this piece written by Sidney Blumenthal funtions as a decent gloss on the overall arc of this storyline).

  I feel that there is on this a trace of begging the question: impeachment. Attempting to be antagonistic enough that opposition is either provoked to, or find their choices limited to, a constitutional showdown, such as impeachment proceedings. Which likely would prove to be an overreach which would revive this administration in its final months. It may be better to constrain rather than challenge. To let the legacy of this administration be its lawlessness. Their consistent waving aside legal consequence, to position their faction above law. It is disgraceful. It is dishonorable. It is a disrespect for legitimacy in the face of obtainable power. Fear and intimidation is what they leave this nation. Those who come after Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush will look at their model and seize upon it as the Caesers took the Cato's Rome with a ruthlessness that can not now be imagined.

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