Right Thinking From The Left Coast
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

Monday, April 02, 2007

Daddy’s Home
by Lee

As many of you know my dad worked in the oil business, and when I was little he used to work month on/month off.  He’d crew change out, then we wouldn’t see him for a month, but it was always a joyous occasion when Daddy came home. 

If you can watch this without getting emotional you have a heart made of stone.  I’m sitting here at work with tears in my eyes.

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 02:30 PM in Life & Culture  • (2) TrackbacksPermalink

The Standoff
by Lee

The standoff between the UK and Iran over the captive sailors and marines is heating up.

About 200 students throwing rocks and shouting “Death to Britain” and “Death to America” demonstrated outside the British Embassy in Tehran but caused no damage or injuries. About a dozen protesters also demonstrated outside the Iranian Embassy in London, demanding that the captives, taken March 23, be freed.

On the one hand we’ve got a handful of protesters demanding the prisoners be released, on the other we’ve got violence and rock-throwing and chants of death by ten times as many protesters.  If this doesn’t illustrate the difference between civilized western behavior and barbaric Islamic brutality I don’t know what could. 

Religion of Peace™ my ass.

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 01:35 PM in The Religion of Peace™  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

And Speaking of Totalitarianism…
by Lee

The UK’s transformation to a police state is official.  Within 200 yards of George Orwell’s house there are 32 police surveillance cameras.

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From the article:

According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras - one for every 14 people in the country - and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Use of spy cameras in modern-day Britain is now a chilling mirror image of Orwell’s fictional world, created in the post-war Forties in a fourth-floor flat overlooking Canonbury Square in Islington, North London.

On the wall outside his former residence - flat number 27B - where Orwell lived until his death in 1950, an historical plaque commemorates the anti-authoritarian author. And within 200 yards of the flat, there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move.

Orwell’s view of the tree-filled gardens outside the flat is under 24-hour surveillance from two cameras perched on traffic lights.

The flat’s rear windows are constantly viewed from two more security cameras outside a conference centre in Canonbury Place.

In a lane, just off the square, close to Orwell’s favourite pub, the Compton Arms, a camera at the rear of a car dealership records every person entering or leaving the pub.

Within a 200-yard radius of the flat, there are another 28 CCTV cameras, together with hundreds of private, remote-controlled security cameras used to scrutinise visitors to homes, shops and offices.

The message is reminiscent of a 1949 poster to mark the launch of Orwell’s 1984: ‘Big Brother is Watching You’.

Great Britain is an Orwellian police state, while the United States tortures people then detains them without trial.  Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with the world.  And why aren’t you outraged?

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 12:15 PM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Produce the Body
by Lee

Here’s another gutless ACLU liberal pussy you might have heard of.  Like all gutless liberal pussies he has no idea what it takes to defeat a fascist enemy, and simply doesn’t get that in a time of war we need to be prepared to give up some of our liberties.

“...the great principle of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the British people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments.”

“It is only when extreme danger to the state can be pleaded that this power may be temporarily assumed by the executive, and even so its working must be interpreted with the utmost vigilance by a free parliament...”

“Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy. This is really the test of civilisation.”

That was written by Winston Churchill in 1943. 

Think of the most despicable nations in the world today.  Saudi Arabia.  Yemen.  Sudan.  China.  These are all nations which meet Churchill’s standard.  And the United States of America is charging up to the front of the line.

Yaah Bush!

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 12:10 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Torture Couch
by Lee

I missed this because it was in the subscriber-only section of the WSJ but Sullivan links to it and quotes the salient paragraphs.

When the Pentagon needed someone to prosecute a Guantanamo Bay prisoner linked to 9/11, it turned to Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch. A Marine Corps pilot and veteran prosecutor, Col. Couch brought a personal connection to the job: His old Marine buddy, Michael “Rocks” Horrocks, was co-pilot on United 175, the second plane to strike the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The prisoner in question, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, had already been suspected of terrorist activity. After the attacks, he was fingered by a senior al Qaeda operative for helping assemble the so-called Hamburg cell, which included the hijacker who piloted United 175 into the South Tower. To Col. Couch, Mr. Slahi seemed a likely candidate for the death penalty.

“Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands,” Col. Couch says.

But, nine months later, in what he calls the toughest decision of his military career, Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution. The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi’s incriminating statements - the core of the government’s case - had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.

The Slahi case marks a rare instance of a military prosecutor refusing to bring charges because he thought evidence was tainted by torture. For Col. Couch, it also represented a wrenching personal challenge. Laid out starkly before him was a collision between the government’s objectives and his moral compass.

Now, tell me how this Marine is some kind of ACLU pussy.  Tell me how he’s not serious about winning the war on terror.  Make all the same damn accusations that the usual Bushbots™ make against anyone who dares to question the Emperor’s right to torture anyone he pleases.  I think you’re going to have a hell of a hard time making them stick.

So now we have yet another terrorist who will probably never face justice just because a bunch of red, white, and blue yahoo bad-asses wanted to get their rocks off listening to some Arab scream in pain.  Well, as an American patriot who wants to see our enemies face America justice, all I can say is I hope you’re proud of yourselves.  The United States of America, the greatest nation in the history of the planet, is turning into a fucking banana republic.  And the Republican Party is the driving force in making it happen.

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 11:57 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Losing Faith
by Lee

Every person who reads this blog needs to read this NYT piece in its entirety.  It’s how a former Bush kool-aid drinker, Matthew Dowd, has come to see the light about his former boss.  I think this article, more than just about anything else I’ve ever read, sums up my own feelings of disillusionment with this president, a man I voted for twice.

Mr. Dowd said he decided to become a Republican in 1999 and joined Mr. Bush after watching him work closely with Bob Bullock, the Democratic lieutenant governor of Texas, who was a political client of Mr. Dowd and a mentor to Mr. Bush.

“It’s almost like you fall in love,” he said. “I was frustrated about Washington, the inability for people to get stuff done and bridge divides. And this guy’s personality — he cared about education and taking a different stand on immigration.”

Mr. Dowd established himself as an expert at interpreting polls, giving Karl Rove, the president’s closest political adviser, and the rest of the Bush team guidance as they set out to woo voters, slash opponents and exploit divisions between Democratic-leaning states and Republican-leaning ones.

In television interviews in 2004, Mr. Dowd said that Mr. Kerry’s campaign was proposing “a weak defense,” and that the voters “trust this president more than they trust Senator Kerry on Iraq.”

But he was starting to have his own doubts by then, he said.

He said he thought Mr. Bush handled the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks well but “missed a real opportunity to call the country to a shared sense of sacrifice.”

He was dumbfounded when Mr. Bush did not fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld after revelations that American soldiers had tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Like I said, read the whole thing.  I don’t have a NYT interview, I’ve got this blog.  And you can see over the five years I’ve been writing it the realization that Bush the president was nothing, nothing like Bush the governor or even Bush the candidate.  And the more I saw this president as being someone antithetical to my views, the more I began to drift away from the Republican Party, to the point where I’m now a registered Libertarian.  I just don’t see anything in this administration, or indeed in the GOP itself, which I have any interest in supporting any more.

I think they’ve got a read make-or-break situation in 2008.  Will they go with a Giuliani-type candidate, or with a Bush Jr. like Romney?  I’d love to be able to vote for the GOP again because, let’s be honest here, the Libertarian Party are a bunch of losers.  But I’d rather piss my vote away on the Libertarians than vote for an updated version of Bush.

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 11:17 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Music To My Ears
by Lee

First they revolutionized the music world with the iPod.  Then they did it again with the iTunes Music Store.  And now, Apple is leading the charge against DRM.

Apple® today announced that EMI Music’s entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from the iTunes® Store (www.itunes.com) worldwide in May. DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording, for just $1.29 per song. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song. iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today—128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM—at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside DRM-free higher quality versions when available.

“We are going to give iTunes customers a choice—the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.”

This, of course, it just with EMI artists for right now.  But when the other labels see how lucrative this will be they’ll all eventually fall into line.

The music industry is at a crossroads—adapt or die.  It seems that some of them, finally, are learning to adapt.

Posted by Lee on 04/02/07 at 09:51 AM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Found Money
by Lee

Here’s a fascinating little development which, ironically, happened on April Fool’s Day, but I assure you this isn’t a goof.  About once a year I go through my filing cabinet and old boxes of papers, determine what I need to keep and what I don’t, then take all the old papers to a commercial shredding company for disposal.  As I was going through all these things today I found a check for quite a large amount (over 4 figures), made out to me, from a 401k I had almost 8 years ago.  I don’t remember the check, and I sure as hell can’t think of any possible reason why I wouldn’t have deposited it.  The 401k account has been defunct for so long that all of the paperwork for it ended up getting shredded a year or two ago.  But there, today, was this check, tucked neatly away among some other papers.

The company at which I had the 401k doesn’t exist any more so there’s nobody there I can contact.  I sent an email into the information line for the company which issued the check on behalf of the brokerage house to see if I can figure out what the hell is going on.  But, wow, wouldn’t that be a nice little windfall out of nowhere?

Posted by Lee on 04/01/07 at 11:04 PM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Divine Order
by Lee

As we all know, Bush has done a lot of shit I disagree with but this, without a doubt, is the worst.

White House sources have confirmed to NBC News that last week President Bush signed Executive Order 4107, which specifically prohibits atheists from holding cabinet positions, reserving these positions for religious people only.  The specific religion does not appear to matter, only that the employee be some variety of theist.  “The president believes that atheism is a great moral evil,” explains one high-placed source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  “He believes strongly in the power of prayer and faith to guide decisions, and therefore wants to make sure that non-believers are being are excluded from contributing to the types of vital moral decisions made by any future presidential administrations.”

I’m damn near speechless.  It seems that with his legacy in tatters, Bush is looking for any way to leave his mark on future administrations, and this is it.  It’s clearly unconstitutional, but is that anything new?  Read the whole thing.  This is beyond anything even I could have possibly imagined. 

Posted by Lee on 04/01/07 at 11:46 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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