Monthly Archives: May 2006

Hooray For Barney Frank

Barney Frank on special protection
House should not criticize FBI for warranted search of member’s office

(Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I disagree with the bipartisan House leadership criticism of the FBI’s search of a Member’s office. I know nothing specifically about the case, except that the uncontroverted public evidence did seem to justify the issuance of a warrant.

What we now have is a Congressional leadership, the Republican part of which has said it is okay for law enforcement to engage in warrantless searches of the average citizen, now objecting when a search, pursuant to a validly issued warrant, is conducted of a Member of Congress.

I understand that the speech and debate clause is in the Constitution. It is there because Queen Elizabeth I and King James I were disrespectful of Parliament. It ought to be, in my judgment, construed narrowly. It should not be in any way interpreted as meaning that we as Members of Congress have legal protections superior to those of the average citizen.

So I think it was a grave error to have criticized the FBI. I think what they did, they ought to be able to do in every case where they can get a warrant from a judge. I think, in particular, for the leadership of this House, which has stood idly by while this administration has ignored the rights of citizens, to then say we have special rights as Members of Congress is wholly inappropriate.

Thanks to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo for the link.


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I Think This Is Really Funny

The New York Times is reporting that, at the same time the neo fascists are ginning up a military strike on Iran, Iraq’s recently installed Foreign Minister has “endorsed the right of Iran to pursue the ‘technological and scientific capabilities’ needed to create nuclear power for peaceful purposes”.

Those Straussian “philosopher” neofascists are just a bit too smart for their own good. They orchestrated the conquering of Iraq in the name of the grand Wilsonian ideal of bringing peace and democracy to the Iraq and then the entire Middle East, though they had to lie about WMDs and nukes to convince the USA public to go along with scheme. And what do they get?

They get a government in Iraq that is very closely aligned with the another charter members of the “Axis of Evil”, Iran, and which is now defending that which those smarty pants neofascists are decrying.

I also support Iran’s right to pursue nuclear technology, and not just for peaceful purposes. Why shouldn’t Iran be able to have nuclear weapons, like at least 8 to 10 other nations on earth? And why should anyone expect Iran to comply with provisions of the non-proliferation treaty when USA allies India, Pakistan, Israel do not? I think nuclear weapons are the only effective means of Iran deterring USA aggression and of all the nations on earth the USA has the least moral standing to lecture other nations about nuclear weapons.


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More on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

In an April 18 post I commented on an Asian Times article reporting on the formation and enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

This May 25th Boston Globe comment on the subject, via the International Herald Tribune, makes a similar point to which I made in April.

In some ways I guess I should thank Bush, Cheney, and their neofascist cabal for actually hastening the decline of their dreamed of Pax Americana and the imperial USA era that began, at the urging of aristocrats with names such as Lodge, Taft, Roosevelt, McKinley, and Wilson, with the stealing of Spanish colonies during the glorious Spanish American war.

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The Chicks Are Back

In case you haven’t heard, the Dixie Chicks are back and ready for a fight, having reportedly in essence told the country music establishment to kiss off. Their new CD, “Taking the Long Way”, opens with “Not Ready to Make Nice”, in which Maines announces “I’m not ready to back down/ I’m still mad as hell.” The 14 songs on the album were composed by the Chicks in collaboration with a number of renowned rock and pop composers.

You will remember that, during a 2003 London concert the ever frank Maines informed the crowd “”Just so you know, we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas” and indicated that she thought Bush’s policies were alienating the rest of the world. Maines comment enlivened the Rovian right wing smear machine, which featured a Clear Channel Communications orchestrated boycott of the Chicks. Clear Channel, headquartered in Texas, is the corporate owner of 1200 USA radio stations and is headed by Bush cronies Lowry Mays and Tom Hicks. Clear Channel owned station personnel orchestrated, Fahrenheit 451 type Dixie Chicks CD burnings. As far as I’m concerned the despicable acts of Clear Channel Communications in punishing the Chicks for exercising their First Amendment right is forever unforgivable and think folks should forever punish Clear Channel by not listening to its stations.

Martie Maguire commented that the dust up over Maines’ comment has caused the chicks to reevaluate their approach to their art which led to their decision to eschew commercialism in favor of pursuing their artistic tendencies and playing to a loyal fan base. “I’d rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith,” Maguire said. “We don’t want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do.”

While I’m on the subject of the Chicks, if you haven’t watched the “An Evening With The Dixie Chicks” DVD, do yourself a favor and check it out. The 2002 concert, in the amazingly stunning Kodak Theater, featured the Chicks playing through the songs on their then soon to be released CD “Home”, followed by an encore of older material that had the crowd, composed primarily of younger women, up on their feet singing along with every word. I find it very emotional, particularly their presentation of “Goodbye Earl”, which recounts the dispatching of an abusive husband by two female friends.

I think the Dixie Chicks are exceptionally talented musicians who always have top notch back up musicians and I find their in-your-face approach very refreshing in an entertainment world dominated by market driven entertainers. Maines provides powerful, spot-on lead vocals and sisters Emily Robinson and Martie MaGuire contribute incredibly sweet harmonies, as well as their virtuosity on a variety of instruments.

I hope both of my readers will run right out and buy every Dixie Chick product they can. Their new CD was released earlier this week in the USA but will not be available internationally until some time in June.

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“You can’t have a war without a good disinformation campaign”

Kudos to the “Jewish Week” newspaper for this “Yellow Journalism” report tracking to Benador Associates, an agent for some of the most prominent USA neofascists, the erroneous report that Iran was to require non-Muslims to wear particular colored clothing.

The article reports that even after the report was debunked the story continued to breathlessly reverberate through the media echo chamber.

“’You can’t have a war without a good disinformation campaign,’ opined Mathew Yglesias, of the liberal American Prospect Magazine. “

Thanks to “Talking Points Memo” for linking to the article.

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Federico’s Cafico Coffee Shop

Meet Federico Navarro A., proprietor of the Cafico coffee shop on Calle 58 a few doors South of Parque Santa Ana and purveyor of the best coffee I’ve been able to find in my limited explorations of Merida.

When I accompany my neighbor Armando on the 4 block walk he takes each day to pick up his lunch, from the cocina economica operated by my Spanish teachers, we often go to Federico’s for a cup of high test Cafe Cubano served in styrofoam demitasse.

The walls of Federico’s shop are adorned with quite a number of pictures of Mexican revolutionary hero Pancho Villa.

Federico roasts beans grown in Chiapas and Veracruz in his really cool coffee roasting machine you can see at the right. When Federico is roasting one can detect the wafting aroma from a half block away.

I buy expresso roast ground as fine as Federico’s machine will turn it out for my morning fix of high test.

Federico es un hombre muy amable. He has taken to saving his waste coffee grounds for me, which I use as abono in my garden. I returned the favor by taking him one of the watermelons from my last crop.

Federico is another one of the many reasons I like it here.


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Trojan Cooling Tower Goes Down

The cooling tower portion of the Trojan nuclear plant, a bit North of Portland, OR, has been demolished. The picture at left, which I pirated off the KOMO TV web site, shows the cooling tower disappearing into the implosion induced cloud of dust.

The Trojan plant operated for only about 10, or so, problem plagued years and was ultimately shut down by its private utility company owner as the electricity produced was not cost competitive.

We hippies knew in 1978 that the plant was doomed economically. Here we are, the members of the Satsop Fireweed division of the Crabshell Alliance, standing across the Columbia River from the Trojan tower during a stop on our return from Portland to protest operation of the plant.

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