Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blog #51: The Week That Was

Republican would be president John McCain pulled a fast one (he thinks) in choosing his vice presidential choice. He selected a no longer obscure governor of the State of Alaska, one Sarah Palin. I’m sure in his mind he thinks he trumped Obama, he undoubtedly did it in hopes of stampeding discontented Hillary Clinton supporters to his side of the great divide. But the good senator lacks the wit and sophistication to see that Clinton supporters didn’t support the lady just because she was of their gender. Women are not cattle to be herded and corralled. Democratic women supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama because of her experience, her determination, and her proven ability to get the job done. They are disappointed at how the Democratic race turned out as are a lot of men including Jack Nicholson and Little Eddy, but although they may be a little disgruntled they are not dimwitted. They supported Hillary Clinton because they believe in the need for health care for all, an end to our country’s endless occupation of Iraq, and most especially they believe in a women’s right to choose. They will get little or none of this from McCain’s choice of a running mate. She is a no-choice to many Clinton supporters! In his desperation how pitiful can McCain get?

I realize that I’m a day late, and quite a few dollars short with this, but I have just come up with a truly inspired pick for the McCain vice presidency slot. We know there’s no way that George W. Bush can serve another four year term, but there are no term limits on the Veep. John McCain, stop right where you are, quote the late Gilda Radner’s Emily LaTella and say, “Never mind.” Then tell the world you have seen the light, and as a result have decided to enlist the king of vice himself, Dick Cheney for your mate? Running mate, of course. What a damn shame that McCain didn’t put Cheney at the head of his selection committee, for if he had been there would be no doubt as to who McCain’s running mate would be. The timid, ever reclusive Mr. Cheney would have picked himself, just like he did with Bush.

And it’s no secret who received the primary protection during the Bush administration. With every whisper of danger who was it who was always being shuttled off to an undisclosed location, while W. was dangled out there as an enticing target? Why was Cheney the one to get to go into the secret bunker? Because Cheney was the one who was really running things during 43’s reign, and in the process he made impressive inroads into restricting we Americans of our rights and our freedoms. Mark my words, give Cheney four more years and there’s no telling where we would end up. He’d turn us into a full fledged junior fascist state. We here at the Little Eddy blog rank Dick Cheney right up there with Adolph Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering, and Benito Mussolini, and all the rest of the best of the right who were so very wrong.

Richard Milhous Nixon was the first Republican to try and turn our country into a mini fascist state. I was living in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, N.Y. during the ‘72 election and I distinctly remember walking my dog through Prospect Park while watching hordes of Nixon junior storm troopers scurrying through our neighborhood trashing McGovern and other Democratic signs in private yards. Back then there was even talk of suspending the elections indefinitely because of the war, but nothing came of it and looking back on it in a comparison of Richard Nixon to Bush/Cheney, Mr. N. turns out to be a puppy among dogs, a veritable pussy cat among lions.

So listen up, Republicans. It’s not too late. Make John McCain see the light and give yourselves another four years of bliss with a third term of a Dick Cheney vice presidency. After all, don’t you want someone who’s really in charge while McCain charades? I mean half of the time the poor fellow can’t even remember who it is that we support, and who it is that’s against us. And we don’t mean someone like Sarah Palin. Republicans need a red blooded man with balls galore running their show, while McCain makes a visible show of governing. And there it is, my friends, Little Eddy’s gift to the McCain campaign. And unlike those Republican consultants who will charge you an arm and a leg at the drop of a participle, we give you our suggestion for exactly what it’s worth, absolutely free.
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Barack Obama was placed in nomination Wednesday afternoon by one Michael Wilson of Florida, a Republican and former Air Force medic and veteran of Iraq. Mr. Wilson was no orator but his words resounded with the truth of his observations. In nominating Mr. Obama he said, “I’ve seen war up close — not as a political slogan or some think-tank theory.” He went on, “I support Barack Obama because America needs a president who has the strength, wisdom and courage to talk to our enemies and consult with our allies. A president who has the judgment to use war as a last resort, not a first resort. A president who can adapt to new situations as things change, instead of being stuck in the past.” Truer nominating words were never spoken.

We American people ought to really ask ourselves the question Ronald Reagan asked us in 1980, bringing the question up to date of course. “Are we really better off here in 2008 than we were in 2000?” Come on, think about it, and be sure to be truthful in your answer. I surely hope Americans ask themselves that question, because if they answer it honestly there is only one way their vote can go. Better to vote for an unknown that you have faith in rather than a sure fire repetition of that which you’ve had eight years of already.

When Reagan asked that question in 1980 unfortunately the nation did not appreciate the modest gains in fiscal responsibility that the Carter years had garnered, and Americans foolishly elected Ronald Reagan as their president. And Reagan proceeded to do his behind the scenes dirty work, stoking conflagrations in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and generally spending money like it was going out of style as he rebuilt America’s war machine, all the while talking a big line about a Republican’s two favorite words, fiscal responsibility. Bush 41 followed Reagan by starting Gulf War I, but as least his advisors had the good sense to stop short of demanding Hussein’s complete capitulation, and so they did not engage us in the quagmire that the Son of Bush managed to get us mired in. The American people showed their appreciation of Bush 41 by voting in Bill Clinton, who led the American people in 8 years of peace, prosperity, jobs, and fiscal responsibility, with Republican prosecutors plaguing him every step of the way. His administration did away with welfare, and produced not higher deficits but actual surpluses.

Anyway, here is our take on the just passed Democratic convention. Monday night was Democrat Lite night, with Michelle Obama the highlight in a speech about her husband. Not bad but no red meat, though the sudden appearance by Ted Kennedy, fresh from brain surgery, just had to be inspiring. On night two of the convention Hillary Clinton gave the speech of her life, reminding her supporters of why we all supported her, and making absolutely clear her no-holds-barred endorsement of Barack Obama as a champion of those causes she has worked for all these years. Her affirmation made clear that if Obama fails to win the election it will be through no fault of hers. She went out of her way to give him a tremendous boost, telling the convention, “Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose,” she said, beaming as the convention hall burst into applause. “And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.” She then offered a battle cry, “No way, no how, no McCain!”

Hubby Bill Clinton followed on night three with his most compelling speech since his presidency. Saying he is convinced that Obama is "the man for this job," he praised the nominee's "remarkable ability to inspire people," his "intelligence and curiosity," his "clear grasp" of foreign policy, the strength he gained from the "long, hard primary" against Hillary and the judgment he showed in choosing Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. as his running mate, which Clinton described as "hitting it out of the park." The longest ovation of his speech came after a slap at the Bush administration's foreign policy propensities to go it alone and rely on force first. "People the world over," Clinton said, "have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

Barack Obama made a compelling case for himself Thursday night. Speaking to a rapturous audience of about 8o,000 + in the Denver Broncos’ stadium, the largest convention crowd ever assembled, Obama delivered an address that was alternately outraged and uplifting, personal and political. "Tonight," said Obama, speaking from a specially constructed sound stage on the floor of Denver's Invesco Field, "I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land — enough! This moment — this election — is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive."

He responded to Republican criticism that he was an elitist by presenting himself as a serious man — not a celebrity — who has a plan to turn around the ailing U.S. economy and enhance America's standing around the world. He promised "an economy that honors the dignity of work" and proceeded to surround himself with a platoon of economically battered American workers. "I get it," said the first candidate of African ancestry to win a major-party presidential nomination. "I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office .... But I stand before you tonight because all across America, something is stirring."

To highlight his connection with middle-class America, the Illinois senator invited average Americans to the stage to describe their problems and their hopes. Among them: a suburban housewife from Ohio, a Teamster from Michigan, a small-business owner from Florida, a teacher from New Mexico, an unemployed Republican nurse from North Carolina and a middle-aged plant worker from Indiana whose job was exported to China. That Indiana man, a disaffected Republican named Barney Smith, electrified the crowd by declaring, "We need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney."

Obama blasted President Bush and McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, with some of his harshest language of the campaign, painting a grim picture of economic hardship: rising unemployment, falling wages, plunging home values and rising costs for gasoline and college tuition. After a passing salute to McCain and his heroic military service, Obama scorched his rival on issues of policy and judgment. "I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans," he said. "I just think he doesn't know." And: "John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell — but he won't even go to the cave where he lives." And "John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time ..... I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change."

Adding to the historic resonance, Obama delivered his speech on the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" address. "Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!" King said that day; Obama's triumph, standing in the shadow of those mountains, suggested the country was moving ever closer to the colorblind society King saw in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. As Obama quoted Martin Luther King: " 'We cannot walk alone,' the preacher cried. 'And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.' " "America," Obama concluded, "we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise — that American promise — and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess." There he stood before 80,000 of his Democratic peers, a black man, running for the presidency of the United States, the choice of a major party. Martin Luther King Jr’s ringing words about the mountain top seemed finally to be near at hand.

During the first night of the Democratic convention Republicans were busy trying to divide Democrats with an ad by a self-proclaimed hispanic ex-Clinton supporter (undoubtedly sent to their ad agency by Central Casting) telling the world that she’s dern mad and voting Republican, and golly gumdrops, further assuring other Democrats that it’s okay for them to vote for McCain too. Yeah, it’s okay to vote for McCain if you don’t mind the country going bankrupt, being tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely, and financing military services with civilian corporations at a cost well above what the same services would cost if the army handled them themselves. And you’re going to see and hear a lot more of this Republican garbage and misspeak as the Republican convention spreads its wings during the coming week. Next week Democratic advertisements will bloom during the Republican confab, but what’s really a shame is the fact that Democrats have no taste for the lies and slander that make up the Republican lexicon. If they could only get themselves up for a little libel of their own they could have some real fun replying to those Republican ads run during their Democratic lovefest.
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The 2008 Democratic Convention was a show for the ages. It had real honest to god drama and suspense wrapped up in how the Clintons would take defeat, and what Hillary’s followers would do. It had speeches with real, honest to god eloquence, speeches that got right to the point, and which weren’t afraid to show the real reason our government and economy are failing. It had some great music with the likes of Cheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, and Michael MacDonald, among others. And it capped everything off with that 80,000 seat stadium, every seat filled, for Obama’s acceptance speech, which was a stroke of rather arrogant genius.

However Barack Obama failed the 18 million primary voters who cast their lot with Hillary Clinton when he failed to put Hillary on the ticket as VP. After Hillary’s strong support on Tuesday night, and her Wednesday interruption of the role call to have Obama made winner by acclamation, and Bill Clinton’s ringing Wednesday night concurring endorsement, the threat of a large scale defection of female Clinton supporters has materially diminished, in spite of Republican ads inviting disconted females to "come on down!"

Barack Obama is obviously aligned with the Kennedy branch of the Democratic Party. That explains why Jimmy Carter wasn’t invited to speak, the Kennedy’s don’t like him. Caroline Kennedy headed Obama’s vp vetting effort, and not surprisingly it turns out Hillary wasn’t even considered. However putting Hillary Clinton on his ticket would have virtually guaranteed his election, as she would have brought support in two areas he is sorely lacking in, older women and blue collar and Catholic men. Joe Biden might help in the recruitment of the men, but the women have generally been left frustrated. McCain thinks he has countered Obama by putting the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, on his ticket. Let us sincerely hope that Obama has learned his lesson. Should he lucky enough to be elected, he can partially make up for his veep failing by putting Hillary in charge of drafting a health care plan which will cover all Americans, and putting Bill Clinton in charge of traveling the world restoring the rest of the world’s faith in America after eight years of contemptuous neglect from George W. Bush. But in the meantime, the race for the presidency which once seemed as inevitable as the rising of the sun, suddenly got a lot tighter, its waters muddied.

Bush 41 was a typical Republican president, but at least he knew enough to stop at the gates of Bagdad, and his actions didn’t throw America into the world’s contempt. But the son is not like the father, and 43 invaded a nation which was no threat to us, using fictitious charges to support his invasion, and among the many doctrines 43 shredded along the way were the Geneva Accords on torture, and as a result the U.S. standing in the world community has never been lower in my lifetime. Of course, Bush and the Republicans could care less about what other nations feel about the United States. Other nations be damned, the Bush/Cheney cowboy mentality cries out for them to go it alone. But their way is not the American way. It is high time we Americans took back our country.

John McCain claims he is a maverick, but that maverick side of him got putrefied when he decided to make a serious run for the president, and began courting the religious right. McCain claims to decry attack ads, but with one ad after another he and his Republican hosts have attacked Obama, his lack of experience, his celebrity status, what have you. And the Republicans will most definitely play the fear card, they already have, and they really have no other choice. There is nothing in their platform or their future that would positively benefit the ordinary people of this country. Their policies only benefit the well connected, the wealthy and the giant corporations. Isn’t it interesting that whenever Democrats attempt to point this out, Republicans start screaming “class warfare?” Tell them with your vote in November that as a member of the left out middle class, we have an inherent right to scream "class warfare" as much and as loud as we damn please. That's because the only welfare Republicans are committed to support is corporate welfare. And so since they have nothing positive to offer the American voter they have no other choice but to attack, and cast doubts and fear in the hearts of voters.

Obama is inexperienced in the presidency. But who the hell isn’t? In fact the only Presidents who have experience are those who are elected for a second term. So both George Bushes were untried when they went in, as were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton happened to be the only Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to have been elected a second term. And what a difference Bill Clinton made. After twelve years of fiscal irresponsibility under Republicans Reagan and Bush 41, with absolutely no help from the G.O.P. (who spent his entire eight year term trying to investigate and nullify his presidency) Bill Clinton went in and managed to work through a crises in the Balkans without war, and here in America he governed with a level of fiscal responsibility that for the first time saw real inroads in the jobs market and which produced a surplus, rather than deficits. And in his recent autobiography Alan Greenspan, the Republican who headed the board of governors of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, praised Bill Clinton for his fiscal responsibility while lamenting George W. Bush for his complete lack thereof.

My son the doctor, was devastated by the recent turns of events, and is particularly apprehensive now that McCain has chosen a woman for his vp. He is sure that not having picked Hillary as his veep, Obama has blown his chance for the presidency, and he is already looking towards another four years of Republican rule. I agree with him that Obama’s slight of Hillary defies logic, but hopefully Obama will have learned from his mistake now that the road to the presidency has suddenly gotten a lot steeper and much rockier.

McCain is dead wrong, however if he really thinks Hillary’s followers are going to cross over to his side of the philosophical divide on the strength of his having picked a female. “No way, no how, no McCain!” Has a ring to it, doesn’t it? No John McCain, as we said earlier women aren’t cattle to be herded. They supported Hillary Clinton because of who she is, because of what she has done, and because of what they felt she would do if elected. Sarah Palin might fill your personal bill as a maverick, but by no stretch of the imagination does she fill any one of those Clinton supporters' needs. No way, Jose! McCain, you should have gotten yourself a good ole’ boy, like you undoubtedly initially wanted. Now you’ve got that damned 3 o’clock phone call ringing on your side of the street, with a vice president even less qualified to answer it. And some of us would challenge your own qualifications in answering that phone. Having been a prisoner of war makes you qualified as a bona fide war hero, but not as a leader of the country. You seem much too reliant on military power as a diplomatic tool, and much too focused on a complete victory in Iraq. For the reality is that a victory is not possibile in Iraq, just as it wasn’t in Vietnam or Korea before it.

But think about it, doesn’t the thought of making Dick Cheney a vice president make those juices start to flow?
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Some final thoughts on the Democratic Convention: Barack Obama's audience for his acceptance speech likely topped 40 million people, and the Democratic gathering that nominated him was a more popular television event than any other political convention in history. More people in the US watched Obama speak from a packed stadium in Denver on Thursday than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final American Idol or the Academy Awards this year, Nielsen Media Research said Friday. (Four playoff football games, including the Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots, were seen by more than 40 million people.) Obama’s TV audience nearly doubled the amount of people who watched John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush four years ago. Kerry's speech was seen by a little more than 20 million people; Bush's acceptance speech to GOP delegates had 27.6 million viewers.

Through four days, the Democratic convention was seen in an average of 22.5 million households. No other convention — Republican or Democratic — had been seen in as many homes since Nielsen began keeping these records for the Kennedy-Nixon campaign in 1960. There weren't enough television sets in American homes to have possibly beaten this record in years before that. And finally, a national Gallup Poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday gave Obama a 49 percent to 41 percent lead over McCain. They had been tied last week.

Loud, Sweet Cheers for Our Side,

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blog #50: Our advice ignored . . .

Well, damn! Obama didn’t take our sage advice and appoint Hillary to be his veep. Such a damn shame. Hillary has the very segment of voters that Obama most needs, blue collar men and older women. Hillary would have taken all of the chance out of the election, old LameO wouldn’t have stood a chance. However, enough with the frustration. Biden, although a bit long winded, does have the experience that Obama lacks, especially in foreign policy. And he certainly towers above the other candidates who had been vetted. And the primary reason for us to turn our full attention towards getting Obama/Biden elected can be found in the short piece that follows.
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The new Republican Holy Water being dispensed by the gallon these days by misguided presidential candidate John McCain is called Surge Water. According to McCain Surge Water cured Iraq, chased Al Quaeda all the way back to Pakistan (though our troops can’t ever leave Iraq for Al Quaeda will sure as hell come Surging back), and the cost for our being there and occupying those lucky dogs is only costing our taxpayers 10 billion big ones a week, a bargain if a Repugnicant candidate ever saw one. And the wonderful thing about our country having to pay out this weekly tariff (besides the fact that Dick Cheney’s favorite companies are cleaning up) is that it is finally giving countries like China and Saudi Arabia a chance to buy our most precious landmarks right out from under us. Wonder how the Grand Canyon’s gonna look under Chinese rule? You think they’ll give discounted admissions to us Americans for having had it all these years and taken such good care of it? However selling off our national treasures to finance this war to end all wars (until the next one comes along, of course) seems to be the way of Bush/McCain, and those of us who write here at: are more than happy to extend our famous right handed, extended middle finger salute to them.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear... A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty, Hi Yo Surge, Away! The LameO-McCainO rides again!
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The RIAA closed down a site to which you could upload a mix of songs of your choice which you could then share with friends, who could then download them to their own computers and iPods. It was called Muxtapes. Here is what the Houston Chronicle’s tech columnist Dwight Silverman wrote on the subject a couple of days ago:

“Back in April, I wrote about a fun Web site called Muxtape, which lets you upload a dozen songs which your friends could then hear via audio stream. It was an online version of 1980s-era mix tapes. “At the end of that blog post, I wrote this: It's a lot of fun, but I wonder just how legal Muxtape is. This is the kind of thing that makes the RIAA's collective head explode. If you're intrigued, I suggest you try it while you can!

“That sound you heard in the distance was the Recording Industry Association of America's tiny skull going Boom! Muxtape has been taken offline, with this cryptic note being the only explanation found at the site:

“Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA.” There's a little more at the Muxtape blog, but not much: “No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned. Beta users of Muxtape For Bands: you are unaffected by this outage.

“Muxtape was just one of several sites that offer a service for making song lists others can hear. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a roundup of them in a story that was published Thursday, apparently before Muxtape went down. In the wake of Muxtape's "problem", you can try Mixwit or GoodStorm. Hopefully, Muxtape will be back, in some form.”

VentureBeat on Thursday printed the RIAA’s explanation for the shutdown of Muxtape. RIAA said, “For the past several months, we have communicated our legal concerns with the site and repeatedly tried to work with them to have illegal content taken down. Muxtape was hosting copies of copyrighted sound recordings without authorization from the copyright owners. Making these recordings available for streaming playback also requires authorization from the copyright owners. Muxtape has not obtained authorization from our member companies to host or stream copies of their sound recordings,” the service told Portfolio.” That may well throw a cramp in the site’s promise that it will not be closed indefinitely. However, given the hoopla raised about this shutdown, perhaps the labels, artists and RIAA will work with the site for some sort of legal alternative.

"As I went into at length yesterday, the whole situation between the RIAA and the proponents of digital music is becoming farcical. The RIAA shut down Muxtape, but several other alternatives will undoubtedly rise up soon. Some already have, including the startup 8tracks which basically uses Internet radio rules (that copyrighted tracks can be played as long as they are streamed and the user can’t pick what track is next) to circumvent the RIAA. There are also more questionable legal alternatives in MixWit and Favtape.
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The website mentioned in the above list, 8tracks, located at , is named for the 8-track cartridge system used from 1960 to ‘8o’s which began the practice of people making their own “mixes” of favorite tracks from their record collection. allows you to make mixes with their MP3’s, or you can upload your own. Mixes should be at least 30 minutes in length. And if you’re like me while you’re checking it out you can extend a middle finger salute in the general direction of the RIAA. Here is how 8tracks has gone out of its way to clear the legal hurdles which have evidently shut down Muxtape. Josh Catone of sitepoint explains:

“8tracks, a new online mix-tape/web radio-like service that will launch on Friday, allows users to upload music and create 8 song mixes that can be shared with other users. Founded by former Live365 general manager David Porter, 8tracks is taking pains to offer their service legally. Competing services, like Muxtape, don’t really seem to make much mention of the legal issues involved with letting users upload and share tracks.

“8tracks operates under the compulsory license for webcasting established by the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US. The company pays royalties under the license to SoundExchange and agrees to follow certain rules restricting the number of times a song from a single album or artist can be transmitted from the same mixtape over a three hour period. Additionally, 8tracks has public performance licenses with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

“According to VentureBeat 8tracks also capitalizes on a “loophole” in copyright law that allows music to be streamed online as long as the listener doesn’t know what’s coming next. So 8tracks can allow users to create 8 song mixes and then it can stream them in random order. Users are allowed to share mixes, rate them, comment on them, and remix them by adding tracks from a mix to a “favorites” list which can then be used as fodder for future mixes. The interface is simple and easy to use, and a little slicker than similar services, like the aforementioned Muxtape.

“So how much does keeping 8tracks legal cost? According to the site’s legal page, they will need to average a $20 CPM on ads ($30 in 2010 due to license rate increases) in order to break even — and that doesn’t include royalties paid to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. 8tracks will be attempting to cover their costs primarily with advertising, and will eventually add “buy it from Amazon” links and premium subscription options as well. It’s hard to say if that will work, but because I’ll wager most Internet radio listeners put on the web radio station of choice and then minimize the window and listen to music in the background while they work, it’s doubtful that 8tracks will have a very engaged audience for traditional web ads. The VentureBeat write up also mentions audio ads, though, which could work better.

“If labels were smart they would see the opportunity in services like this to spread new music and would cut deals with sites like 8tracks and Muxtape to highlight tracks from their new artists. I still listen to artists I initially found after they were featured on Napster or — it’s amazing that labels still haven’t figured out the power of exposure after all these years. There’s no way I’d own 3 Lemon Jelly albums, for example, if I hadn’t found them years ago while browsing tracks on the original Audiogalaxy back in high school.”

And Little Eddy adds, if the music labels had an ounce of brains to go along with their appetite for a pound of a music l0ving flesh, they would never have condoned the practice of extorting money from the very college students who will be the white collar and business leaders of tomorrow, as they have allowed and perhaps even encouraged their legal beagle idiotas at the RIAA to do. Their actions have so turned off an entire generation that the music industry, and the record companies in particular, will likely never fully recover.

This is not sheer maliciousness on the part of music lovers. The truth of the matter is that the record companies doubled the price of an album of music when they transferred the medium from the vinyl format to CD’s, even though because of their extremely small size the elaborate printed features that frequently accompanied the vinyl albums went the way of the dinosaurs. All the new medium offered for the more than doubled price was a background which eliminated extraneous hiss and pops.

People who bought music after the industry’s transition from vinyl to CD’s , were royally screwed by the tone deaf business wonks who run the record companies, and it was inevitable that once people found out they could get the music online for free it was only a matter of time before they broke their addiction to paying for music. As an example of this over pricing a typical album on CD is priced at $16. A few rows down, a motion picture on DVD, which costs hundreds times more to produce than the record album, typically sells for $18. I’m very sorry to have to disillusion all of you Bush/McCain Repugnicant capitalists out there, but when people see the same item for $16 in music stores, and free on bit torrent, I’ll give you one guess as to where they are going to go to satisfy their musical jones. Point your browser to that wonderful free store up in the cloud. The price can’t be beat. And there’s no cardboard packaging to clutter our landfills. Imaginative bands and musicians are going to follow the lead of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails in offering their future albums for sale on their own websites, in many cases allowing people to price them for themselves. New bands and musicians who are with it are going to put their music up on sites like Muxtapes and 8tracks so their music can be heard by the public.
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There is a solution to this problem, and it isn’t hard to figure out, although the business types who run the record labels will probably never go along with it. There is virtually no expense associated with putting content out on P2P. Where there is an artist involved I think the bit torrent sites ought to include the artist’s email and physical mailing address to accompany any material of his available for download, and each person benefitting from the material should send the artist a contribution. Notice I say the artists, not the record companies. Many record companies don’t pay the artists a cent for their digital downloads to begin with, because the contract they are playing under didn’t include digital royalties. And of course, no respectful record company is going to volunteer to give an artist money if they don’t absolutely have to. That’s what the guy who heads Radiohead pointed out after their experiment with offering their album Rainbows as a download on their website. He would not say what people paid for the album but he pointed out that Radiohead’s contract with EMI paid them zilch in royalties for digital downloads, so that anything they got was more than they would have gotten through normal channels. That’s why my conscience is perfectly clear each time I download music from the cloud. If I was buying the same tracks on iTunes or Amazon the artist would most likely be getting not one cent of the money, just as artists get no share of that $3,000 that the RIAA extorts out of college students who don’t want to fight them in an expensive court case. What the legal beagles don’t take for themselves goes to record company execs to foster their preferred lifestyle.

As for movies, they are terribly overpriced in movie theaters these days, but of course they cost an arm and two legs to finance and produce. However, downloaders are using their own computers to project the movie, and paying their ISP’s and their own electric bill for their bandwidth and their air conditioned comfort, so I suggest that movies have a standard price of $3.00 attached to them, plus an online address to which to send the money. This of course, will afford no benefit to the actors and writers, but if even 50% of the people who download a movie would pay $3.00 for it, the movie studios would do okay. At least they would have nothing to cry about, and no need to try and turn ISP’s into their private police force.

Again it should be voluntary, not mandatory. Kids who have no money, and old folks who are in a likewise position, should be able to download movies for less, and even for free if they can’t afford to pay for it. It doesn’t cost the industry a damn cent if people download who wouldn’t be able to otherwise buy. Movie companies would still clean up if only half to two thirds of the downloaders came through with the moola. And it wouldn’t hurt the movie industry’s theater business. People would still attend the theaters, there’s no comparison watching a movie in a theater as compared to your home computer screen. However those of us who can no longer attend movie theaters do get the benefit of being able to see movies once again. Meantime for me it is back to downloading my entertainment needs with a consience as clear as Texas skies during a blue norther.

It would be quite possible for the above system to be mandatory. The torrent site could encrypt the data and sell the unlocking key to the downloader. That would assume a much greater responsibility on the part of the provider, who would have to hold the money in escrow for the c0pyright holder and eventually transmit it, but just think what it would do for those providers with a conscience. Of course, we would have to give The Pirate Bay a pass on this system. They could not bear to have to conform to a system where you had to pay for content.
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The recording and motion picture industries are quaking in their Manolo Blahniks, no doubt about it. They find themselves up Excretory Creek without the proverbial paddle. Almost all of their most precious content sits up there in that bit torrent cloud luring computer users like the ancient mythical sirens lured sex-starved sailors onto rocks, or a modern day Bob Barker on steriods urges America’s housewives to “come on down!” Free music and movies for the taking thanks to the miracle of P2P. But the industries are smug, and though those motion picture guys are rich, their musical brethren have been reduced to trying to sue their way out of the poor house through what amounts to a shameful scheme of blackmail. So in their shared desperation the two industries are joining hands in a common cause. The website: reported the following:

ASPEN, Colo.--Recording industry and motion picture lobbyists are renewing their push to convince broadband providers to monitor customers and detect copyright infringements, claiming the concept is working abroad and should be adopted in the United States. A representative of the recording industry said on Monday that her companies would prefer to enter into voluntary "partnerships" with Internet service providers, but pointedly noted that some governments are mandating such surveillance "if you don't work something out."

"Despite our best efforts, we can't do this alone," said Shira Perlmutter, a vice president for global legal policy at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. (The IFPI is the Recording Industry Association of America's international affiliate.) "We need the help of ISPs. They have the technical ability to manage the flow over their pipes ... The good news is that we're beginning to see some of these solutions emerge, in particular in Europe and Asia."

“IFPI's Perlmutter went on to rattle off a list of countries that have taken at least some steps toward antipiracy filtering, through laws enacted by the legislature or other means: France, South Korea, New Zealand, Belgium, and Australia are on her list. In addition, Canada's copyright lobby has pushed for legally-mandated filtering. In the U.S., she said, referring to broadband providers, "increasingly they will be partnering with us – they will be doing deals with us."

“During a discussion at the Progress and Freedom Foundation's technology policy conference here, Perlmutter said one filtering solution would involve identifying particular files that are (or are not) permitted to be sent to particular destinations. That would be a "very tailored approach," she said. The idea isn't exactly new: the Motion Picture Association of America said nearly a year ago that ISPs should police piracy, and one of its member companies asked federal regulators to make this a requirement. AT&T said in January that it's testing technology that would let it become a copyright network cop, and the MPAA subsequently suggested that piracy-prone users should have their accounts terminated because they're "hogging the bandwidth," as if the MPAA gave a damn about that.

Several internet providers, including AT&T and Comcast were in attendance but none participated in the discussion. The report went on from there, but by now you get the idea. There is no way the MPAA and the RIAA can police the nation’s ISPs on their own. The RIAA has been able to coerce a number of college students and a few others on whose computers RIAA investigators found copyrighted music in a public folder to pay outlandish fees in lieu of being taken to court where the well- heeled record company legal teams have a distinct advantage, and for awhile the courts were allowing the RIAA to win those cases which did come to trial on the strength of copyrighted music in those public folders.

However here lately that worm has turned, and the RIAA has lost several recent cases, with the courts insisting on evidence of actual sharing, not just the fact that a person had music in a publicly available folder. This is evidence which the music industry evidently cannot produce. So the only chance the music and motion picture industry entities have now is to somehow shame or coerce the ISPs into doing their police work for them. The bigger the ISP, the better chance the movie and recording industries have in getting their cooperation, particularly if the ISP in question also owns entities which handle copyrighted content. ATT has already announced it is exploring a program that would monitor their customers’ online activities. As things now stand the internet is basically free, and there are several web institutions who intend to do their damndest to keep it that way. Fortunately these legal entities can be counted on to be the watchdogs of our net freedom, and to resist such arrangements between copyright holders and ISPs.

CNET summed up the situation as follows: “Even if the content industry do sign deals with broadband providers, there are still a slew of unanswered questions – including ones about customers' privacy and how filtering will work in practice. Will piratical transfers be automatically interrupted? Or just slowed? Will piracy-prone users merely find – this is what the IFPI suggests – their accounts suspended? How to detect whether content is licensed, or protected by fair use rights, which vary based on the situation? What if the transfer is encrypted?”

Looking ahead a few years from now, the content industry may not be satisfied with voluntary agreements. Let's say that AT&T and some of its larger rivals start to filter pirated material and demonstrate (at least to a first approximation) that it's possible, but one ISP does not join in. Look for the RIAA and MPAA and their political allies to ask Congress for a law that would transform heretofore "voluntary" agreements into ones that are mandatory. Of course it is that outcome which has the community so uptight. Freedom is promised to us in the Constitution, it should not come with a price tag dictated by business interests. And as for the money the RIAA is bullying from college students, take one guess as to how much of it is going to musicians? That’s right, zero. Zilch! What the lawyers don’t get, goes to enriching the lifestyle of record company executives.
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And from Little Eddy’s Obligatory Apple News Department comes the following: On the bright side of of the Apple Jonathan D. Glater reports in the NY Times that some colleges and universities are planning to welcome freshmen with Apple iPhones and iPod Touches. The always on internet devices raise some novel possibilities, like tracking where students congregate. With far less controversy, colleges could send messages about canceled classes, delayed buses, campus crises or just the cafeteria menu.

While schools emphasize its usefulness — online research in class and instant polling of students, for example — a big part of the attraction is, undoubtedly, that the iPhone is cool and a hit with students. Basking in the aura of a cutting-edge product could just help a university foster a cutting-edge reputation. Apple stands to win as well, hooking more young consumers with decades of technology purchases ahead of them.

The Apple of our dreams is dark on the inside however. A worm found in its center indicates that a disgruntled Alabama woman has filed suit against Apple, claiming the iPhone 3G’s network is slower than advertised. The 10-page complaint was filed Tuesday, alleging Apple’s “breach of express and implied warranty and unjust enrichment.” The complaint seeks class action status, claiming that Apple’s iPhone 3G advertising campaign is misleading. And it made one ZDNet editor wonder about his own iPhone desire.

And yet another worm embedded in our Apple (but this one might well turn) revealed that Microsoft, still smarting after all these years at being cast as a bumbling oldster in Apple’s ongoing Mac vs PC ad campaign, has hired Jerry Seinfeld for help in its upcoming advertising skirmish with Apple. The software giant's new $300 million advertising campaign, devised by a newly hired ad agency, has been closely guarded. But Mr. Seinfeld will be one of the key celebrity pitchmen, say people close to the situation. He will appear with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in ads and receive about $10 million for the work, they say. And whereas it’s true that just like in Alice’s Restaurant, in advertising money can buy you anything you want, however Microsoft might be wise to first use a part of its advertising budget to fix whatever ails Vista. Enough with this vaporware nonsense. When businesses and other Windows users stop reverting from Vista back to XP, that’s the time for Microsoft to advertise. First make your product work, then advertise your pants off.
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And so passes another week. What next week might bring makes getting up in the morning almost worth the trouble. Several cups of black coffee take me the rest of the way. Have a good week all.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blog #49: Convention Time’s a’Coming!

With the Democratic Convention looming large, and Senator Obama’s poll numbers alarmingly near to those of Senator John McCain, the Obama and Clinton camps got together late in the week to announce a pact of peace and harmony in advance of the Denver Democratic Convention. In short, a roll call vote will be taken to ascertain the true delegate vote count of both the Clinton and Obama campaigns. The second night will field speeches from both Senator Clinton and hubby and ex-prez Bill, as well as Senator Obama’s still unnamed Democratic vice presidential candidate, whoever he or she might be. And Hillary Clinton is expected to release her delegates to vote for Obama, and she will actively campaign for a Barack Obama presidency. Both campaigns cited the historic nature of her race, and her extraordinary accomplishments as the first female candidate to remain in the race until the end, and the first to garnish a healthy minority of convention delegates.

In an interesting aside, a former Clinton supporter was gushing at the news of the roll call on a panel on Larry King Live Thursday night, while a former Obama supporter reeked of sarcasm and skepticism. This was indicative of the deep wounds of the campaign in which each camp’s supporters still hold to some degree. However, I’m quite sure the candidates themselves have worked their way through any of this residual animosity, and both are ready to face up to the challenges which face all of us Democrats, the task of electing Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Matters like possible misuse of caucuses and other campaign strategies dwarf next to the looming possibility of John McCain, coasting in on the tail of Democratic infighting, and somehow waking up on Nov. 5th finding himself elected as the next president of the United States. For many reasons too numerous to go into here, this is an outcome I would personally find deplorable.
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Beware of men like the Republican presidential candidate John McCain who shamelessly use war as a tool for diplomacy, and who equate success in war as nothing short of complete victory. Such men would have you overlook the fact that war is a game whose success is measured in the number of deaths of your enemies. And the generals who we trust to execute our war plans are men whose sole expertise is in the extinction of the soldiers of the army of our opposition. Korea ended at the very parallel where it started, and Vietnam ended in our out and out defeat, although not many Americans will admit to that assessment. But what other conclusion can you draw when you exit the country pell mell, and the former capitol of South Vietnam once called Saigon is now named Ho Chi Minh City. The cessation of hostilities in a conflagration like Iraq would not be a shameful outcome as that honorseeking candidate McCain would have you believe. Anything that brings senseless killings to a halt is one giant step in the right direction. And it is interesting to note that the troops of the military have given at least six times as much to the Obama campaign as to McCain’s.

It is unfortunate that war is perceived by politicians like George W. Bush and Karl Rove as a unifying situation for a deeply divided nation, so much so that they are tempted to pursue a military action in place of diplomacy for domestic political purposes rather than true foreign policy reasons. And for an up to the minute look at the present, there is John McCain’s sharp criticism of Russia’s incursion into its ex-territory of Georgia. Now just a few short weeks ago the McCain camp was quick to point out that Obama was being presumptuous as he addressed that huge crowd in Germany as part of his Iraq and European tour. But McCain’s ferver in condemning the Russian invasion of Georgia is equally, if not more presumptuous than was Obama, coming as it did before a White House response by our still reigning president was forthcoming. And it left some of us to wonder if his criticsm was in part fueled by the fact that his primary adviser’s lobbying firm received $600,000 in fees from the country of Georgia as recently as a few months ago? That’s the trouble with engaging lobbyists as political advisers. Any forthcoming opinions which might reflect the lobbyist’s clients’ interests immediately come under our well deserved suspicion. So much for Obama’s perceived presumptuousness. McCain who thinks of himself as a foreign policy expert, is hopelessly superior in that department.

And while we are still on topic of Russia/Georgia, we wonder if Mssr’s Putin and Medvedev were properly impressed with President Bush’s unmitigated castigation of Russia’s incursion into Georgia. In Washington President Bush condemned as unacceptable what he called Russia’s “bullying and intimidation.” “Takes one to know one,” and “the pot is once again calling the kettle black” both come to mind after our careful analysis of Mr. Bush’s self-righteous tirade. Bush also said Friday that Russia must withdraw its troops from all of Georgian territory and said the United States would stand with Georgia in the conflict. “Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected,” he said. For some strange reason he made no mention of respecting Iraq’s territorial integrity. "After you," could have been a response from mother Russia.
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Remember recently when Barack Obama warned his followers that the opposition was going to call attention to the fact that his face doesn’t match those of the presidents whose faces are on our currency, and how the McCain camp immediately screamed unfair and accused Obama of playing the “race” card. Well, of course he was playing the race card, he has no choice, it is the hand he’s been dealt. Well, Eugene Robinson, an Op-Ed columnist for the Washington Post, reported Friday that no sooner spoken than the Republican Smear Machine goes into operation with its first missive, a book by one Jerome Corsi called “The Obama Nation.”

Corsi would be known as just another visitor from the outer fringe if he had not been the co-author of "Unfit for Command," the book that slimed John Kerry's exemplary record as a Swift boat commander in Vietnam. The allegations in that book were discredited, but not before they had been amplified by the right-wing echo chamber to the point where they raised questions in some voters' minds – perhaps enough to swing the election.
It was an abominable trick, but quite remarkable. Kerry's opponent, George W. Bush, had avoided Vietnam altogether by taking refuge in the Texas Air National Guard, and who went AWOL from that. Kerry was a decorated war hero, yet somehow his valor and sense of duty were turned into a political negative and used against him. And now Corsi, in what he acknowledges is an attempt "to keep Obama from getting elected," has come out with a book that similarly tries to turn one of Obama's strengths – his compelling life story – into a liability.

Robinson notes that Corsi's new volume of vitriol seeks to smear Obama as a "leftist" and add fuel to the false and discredited rumor that he is secretly a radical Muslim, or at least has "extensive connections to Islam." The liberal Web site Media Matters has already demonstrated that the book is riddled with factual errors – for example, Corsi repeats the charge, thoroughly disproved, that Obama was in church for one of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's most incendiary sermons. But the point isn't to tell the truth. The point is to repeat the lie and thus give it new life. Corsi's dirty work is more difficult this time around because Obama has already written his life story in the autobiographical "Dreams From My Father." Since he can't reveal anything about Obama's past, Corsi is reduced to reinterpretation – or, at times, invention.

It sounds like the kind of book that should quickly be consigned to the remainder bin, but – unsurprisingly – it is already a bestseller. The Post and other news organizations have noted that this and similar anti-Obama books win the imprimatur of best-seller status by being "pushed by conservative book clubs that buy in bulk to drive up sales." However it remains to be seen if a book slanted to diminish Obama’s chances for the presidency will be read by anyone not already an ardent proponent.
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This week opened on a note of sadness. My Monday morning online newspaper announced the death of one Anthony J. Russo, who at age 71 died in his native Suffolk, Va. on the preceeding Wednesday, police records showed. The cause of death was not immediately made public.

You might well ask, “who the hell was Anthony J. Russo?” Well, he was a real authentic hero, although one of the unsung variety. He was the grunt man on the Pentagon Papers Caper, the man who had physically manned the Xerox machines which copied the thousands of pages of the mammoth report that Daniel Ellsberg had given to newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, so that the American public could have a chance to read the Pentagon’s own top secret assessment into the origins of the Indochina War.

Russo, a Rand Corp. researcher, had visited Vietnam for a study involving interrogating Viet Cong prisoners. He came back radicalized. “I knew what I was told about the war was totally false,” he said. Ellsberg had met Russo in Saigon in 1965 and they were both troubled by what they had seen during their research there.

“In 1968 I came back and Dan was across the hall at Rand," Russo recalled. "He had been a total hawk in Vietnam. But everything about him seemed shattered. It was as if he was trying to grow himself back. He was going through a metamorphosis . . . He was very tortured. There was no way he could justify the war anymore."

Ellsberg mourned Russo’s passing last week in a posting on his anti-war blog, calling him a courageous collaborator. “I knew that he was the one person with the combination of guts and passionate concern about the war who would take the risk of helping me,” Ellsberg wrote. The case that became known as the Pentagon Papers, helped put the Vietnam War on trial. It began when Ellsberg, a top military analyst disillusioned with American policy, decided to release a top-secret Defense Department study of the origins of the U.S. role in Indochina over three decades. Being employees of the Rand Corporation both men had access to the papers, and Ellsberg had initially been active in getting Russo to help him reproduce and distribute copies of the study.

Ellsberg went on to become an anti-war icon. Russo, retired as a researcher for Los Angeles County, subsequently devoting himself to anti-nuclear issues and leading Persian Gulf War protests. The Times reported that Russo divorced twice and had no children. Funeral arrangements were unknown.

Ellsberg had first offered the study to several members of Congress and government officials before deciding to send it to the newspapers. His action was branded by President Richard Nixon as treason. The government initially tried to stop publication of the Pentagon Papers, first in The New York Times and then in The Washington Post, prompting a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision barring prior restraint of free expression. Ellsberg and Russo were subsequently charged with espionage, theft and conspiracy for the leak. As co-defendants they subsequently went on trial in Los Angeles, where the papers had been copied. However, in 1973, a federal judge dismissed the case, ruling that the government was guilty of misconduct, including a break-in at the office of Ellsberg's Beverly Hills psychiatrist denounced as having been orchestrated by White House officials seeking to discredit him. For the sake of history there foll0ws a part of Wikipedia’s page on the Papers.

“The Pentagon Papers true title is United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, a 47-volume, 14,000-page, top-secret Department of Defense history of the United States' politico-military involvement in the war in Vietnam, from 1945 to 1967.

“U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara commissioned the study in 1967, and appointed Leslie Gelb (Pentagon international security affairs policy planning-arms control director) as study supervisor. Gelb hired 36 military officers, civilian policy experts, and historians to write the study's monographs. The Pentagon Papers included 4,000 pages of actual documents from the 1945–67 period.

“Daniel Ellsberg gave most of the Pentagon Papers to New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan, with Ellsberg's friend Anthony Russo assisting in their copying. The NYT began publishing excerpts as an article-series on June 13, 1971. Political controversy and lawsuits followed; on June 29, U.S. Senator Mike Gravel (Democrat, Alaska) entered 4,100 pages of the Papers to the record of his Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds. These portions of the Papers were subsequently published by Beacon Press, the publishing arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

“The importance of recording the Papers to the Congressional Record was that, Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution provides that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [a Senator or Representative] shall not be questioned in any other Place", thus the Senator could not be prosecuted for anything said on the Senate floor, and, by extension, for anything entered to the Congressional Record, allowing the Papers to be publicly read without threat of a treason trial and conviction. Later, Ellsberg said the documents "demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents, the violation of their oath and the violation of the oath of every one of their subordinates", and that he had leaked the papers in the hopes of getting the nation out of "a wrongful war."

Little Eddy would like to salute Daniel Ellsberg for his extraordinary dedication towards helping the American people learn of the true origins of the Vietnam intervention, and we would like to join with him in his salute to his remarkable fallen co-conspirator, the late Anthony J. Russo. Together the two of them were able to throw the light of truth upon the origins of the Vietnam War, which was paramount to finally turning many of the people of our country against the war. Let us all be grateful to these courageous men who risked their careers and perhaps even their freedom to shed light on the origins of that mistaken fiasco that was Vietnam.

Unfortunately the lessons learned from the run up to the Vietnam War were forgotten in the twenty some odd years before the run up to our next war, the invasion of Iraq. And so our general population went about its business oblivious to the lies and halftruths which were designed to lead up to the American invasion of Iraq. And even though the present debacle in Iraq stands as a symbol as to how little our country seems to have learned from it’s former mistakes, as long as individuals like Ellsberg and Russo are willing to risk their careers to bring the truth to light there is hope for us. And the almost monthly appearance of late of books and magazine articles throwing the spotlight on the Bush administration’s excesses in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and its possible plans to attack Iran, indicates that high officials are still willing to release information exposing our leaders when they become convinced of the futility and dangers of their keeping silent. And so the flame of hope, faint though it may be, still flickers.
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Richard Richtmyer of the Associated Press reports that John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, was denied parole for the fifth time Aug. 12 by a parole board that said he remains a threat to the public. As a result Chapman will remain in New York’s Attica Correctional facility for gunning down the former Beatle nearly three decades ago on a Manhattan sidewalk. The parole board said that although he has had a clean disciplinary record since 1994, Chapman told board members during the hearing that he had planned and conducted Lennon's killing "with an essentially clear mind." Considering that, the board said, his release "would not be in the best interest of the community." Little Eddy would like to unblushingly second that motion. Chapman, 53, has been in prison for 27 years since pleading guilty to the Lennon murder, which he has said he committed to gain attention. He became eligible for parole in 2000 after serving 20 years of a maximum life sentence. In a one-page decision issued after Chapman's appearance today, parole board members said they denied his parole "due to concern for the public safety and welfare."

Chapman, a former maintenance man from Hawaii, fired five shots outside Lennon's apartment building on Dec. 8, 1980, hitting Lennon four times in front of his wife, Yoko Ono, and others. Ono, who has previously written the parole board arguing against Chapman's release, did not offer any testimony in his latest hearing. "She was very pleased with the parole board's decision," said her lawyer, Peter Shukat. He declined to comment further.

For my money the story floated at the time, that Chapman was a former Beatle fan turned crazed, doesn’t fly. For one thing he kept quoting passages from Catcher in the Rye, a book frequently quoted from by people attempting to create the illusion of being mentally unstable. For some strange reason the people on the military right seem to think that quoting from that book shows derangement on the part of the quotes person. Chapman, who was working in Hawaii at the time as a night watchman, I believe was hired to do the job by the same shadow government which oversaw the assassinations of Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. And it was done because November 1980 had seen the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency, and the shadow government was getting revved up for military interventions in both Nicaragua and El Salvador, and Lennon who had unflinchingly opposed the Vietnam war and who had an incredibly large following was viewed by the shadow government as a threat to their plans. Ed Asner, the actor who played Lou Grant on television, and who was also active in opposing our government’s support of the Contras in Nicaragua, and who had arranged shipments of medical supplies for the Sandanista government, at one point received a letter which he read on the air, a letter in which the writer claimed they had taken care of John Lennon and then proceeded to threaten Asner as being next on their list.

I believe Chapman allowed himself to be caught at the time because he was convinced he would be let off. An attempt to paint a case for his unstable mental condition was made in a made-for -TV documentary shown at the time by public broadcasting. Several years later some entity managed to have Chapman transferred from Attica to a mental health facility in upstate N. Y. Had not the public been outraged and Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono testified against it, Chapman could have been released somewhere down the line simply by the institution classifying him as being no longer a threat. Fortunately the uproar caused the plan to fall through and he was returned to Attica and under the control of the N. Y. penal system in which he was sentenced. Chapman's next appearance before the board is scheduled for August 2010. Whatever Chapman’s original motives were, we would like to wish him a long and fruitless incarceration, preferably with him emerging from captivity feet first.
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Apple finally blew one. After years of turning out killer electronics and producing the environments in which to properly market them, Apple tried to do too much on July 11. It was the day of the second coming of the iPhone, this one works with 3G, and also it was the day of the availability of firmware updating the first generation iPhone and ipod Touch to allow them to take applications, plus the opening of the iPhone application st0re, and finally the opening of, a new function of what used to be .mac, Apple’s subscription cloud storage space. ATT had the major reponsibility for setting up the registration for the iPhone 3G, and many delays were reported in its activati0n process. The brand new Apple Applications store for iPhone also opened on this momentous day and seemed to go fairly well, with many apps being offered for free or under $10. But the transition of .Mac to MobileMe, the fourth major happening of that day, was a disaster. The service was out for days. Some people lost data they had saved to .Mac. And finally an email floated from Steve Jobs to Apple employees admitted that they had been stupid to try to do it on July 11, and, that on reflection there had been no rush in the transition from .Mac to MobileMe. Apple doesn’t make too many mistakes, usually their instincts and executions are letter perfect. We take our hat off to Apple, it is reassuring to note that not everything they do always works with perfection, that on one occasion at least they could be as off the mark as say, that competitor of theirs to the North, can you say Microsoft?

There are two interesting footnotes to this. Best Buy has announced that it will be the first non Apple, non ATT entity to carry the iPhone 3G. And it plans to do this in time for the Christmas buying season. And John Paczkowski who writes the Digital Daily column for All Things Digital, which also houses the Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg blogs, writes, “As Steve Jobs would say: “BOOM.” Apple (AAPL) has eclipsed Google (GOOG) in market value. Apple’s current market cap: $159.37 billion. Google’s: $157.56 billion. Not that we didn’t see this coming. Indeed, Valleywag predicted it back in November 2007. “Apple knows how to design not just gadgets, but the businesses that go around them,” the blog noted. “And as a result, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple is worth more than Google within two years. Make that two years or less.” Paczkowski ended by noting, “I wonder if Michael Dell would shut Apple (AAPL) down and give the money back to its shareholders now?”
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Here’s to our poets, and particularly those who attempt to guide their people in their eternal quest for freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Two of our poets of the Vietnam era were Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs, whose songs were like Broadsides, the equivalents of Patrick Henry’s rabble rousing essays during the American Revolution. Their songs rallied people to question the direction of our leaders, a direction which Daniel Elsberg’s later release of the Pentagon Papers served to confirm. Not enough can be said for the poets who would analyze a people and its politicians and leaders. They serve an irreplaceable function in a free society.

Such a man was the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The BBC reported that crowds of Palestinians have paid their last respects to the poet Darwish in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Darwish died after open-heart surgery in Houston, Texas, on Saturday at the age of 67. Leading all mourners, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas described the poet and author as a hero for all Palestinians. Darwish was one of the most influential cultural figures in recent Arab history, encapsulating the Palestinian longing for independence.

Darwish penned fierce criticism of the divisions among Palestinians, believing, in some ways, what they were doing to themselves was worse than anything others had done to them. He also wrote the famous speech Arafat delivered at the United Nations in 1974: "Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand." There is little doubt Darwish’s work, not just on the Palestinian cause, but on love and hope and death, will endure across the Arab world, the BBC’s correspondent said in summing up .
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Well, this empties the tank for this week. To see what next week will bring do come back again next week. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blog #48: Mouth Bleeding + Wikipedia

Sorry if this week’s post is a bit short and/or choppy. During lunch Friday I evidently punctured my tongue with my lower denture. Wounds inside the mouth bleed profusely, and you can’t stop the bleeding with a bandaid, like on other skin of the body. And so I spent the afternoon at our local emergency room, where blood was taken, and some kind of thinner was added, and eventually the bleeding stopped of its own accord. And so it was soup for dinner, and no foods requiring dentures until after my doctor visit on Monday morning. So here it is Saturday morning, and I try and bring this week’s post to life.
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Two stories I would like to refer you too, without spending much time on them myself, lead off. The first one is a priceless look at Wikipedia, and the process which is gone through to edit and approve edits. As soon as he became president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touched off a boisterous debate on Wikipedia – a conflict as unruly and entertaining as the online encyclopedia itself. The story is entitled: World War III on Wikipedia:
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And for yet another Comcast (my cable company, telephone provider, and internet service provider) horror story we would like to direct you to the Consumerist website. The tale therein told is a fascinating example of the arrogance of the ill-informed, in this case a service technician who cut off a 72 man’s cable claiming it was illegal, and who refused to look at a Comcast bill which would have proven the man’s claim.

Comcast has been much maligned lately. In its favor it has at least one employee who moniters blogs and twitter accounts for Comcast gripes, and who upon finding one immediately contacts the grieved one and helps correct the person’s situation. Also I would note that since Comcast was caught messing around with its customers’ bit torrent connections, and was told to quit the practice by the FCC, my own bit torrents downloads have improved measurably. Thanks FCC.
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I’m still extolling the virtues of Stumble Upon, a new (to me) website in which in exchange for you telling it what your interests are, takes you to exotic places on the web. It’s certainly not something I would want to fool with every time I’m on the web, but it makes a nice pastime when I’m in the mood for some discovery. I have its logo on my Firefox toolbar, and although I do most of by surfing in Camino (the Mozilla foundation’s Mac OS X centric browser) when I’m in FF and the mood strikes me I click on the SU icon. The other day I Stumbled Upon a website which publishes metaphors written by high school students in essays. Some of them are priceless, try these on for size:

• His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
• He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
• She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
• She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
• Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
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The new book by Ron Suskind which claims that the CIA forged a letter purportedly written by the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein, claiming that “9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had trained for his mission in Iraq – thus attempting to show, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification for the Bush administration’s plan to invade Iraq.” The book goes on to state, “There is no link.” The White House hotly denies all of the allegations of the book, of course, as they either denied or pooh-poohed all those of the incidents that former White House spokesperson Scott McCellan, who wrote his own tell all book about his experiences on the job, reported on. Not to mention the assertions of a military strike on Iran as alleged by Seymour M. Hersch in his recent New Yorker article. And cynics who doubt the usefulness of such books and such articles, will note that a military strike against Iran went from being an almost certainty before the appearance of Hersch’s article, to a virtual 180% change in position by the administration, even to the point of including a negotiator in recent talks with Iran. If any kind of full disclosure rule had been in force during the run up to the Iraq invasion there would likely have been no invasion.

Reviews of Suskind’s book and comments about it dominated the blogosphere the first part of this week. The book reinforces what many of us had already assumed, that the only signs in the White House which are truthful are the ones directed men and women to their respective water closets. And in these days of a Dick Cheney vice presidency, who knows if you can even believe in those. Raise your hand if you still believe the White House is operating in the best interests of the people of this country.

The Republicans got Bush elected in 2000 by Supreme Court fiat, and got him reelected in 2004 through, among other things, lies perpretrated by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans. However, who in Republican politics ever said that “truth” had no place in a political campaign? If Republicans actually ran on what they really believe in and practiced, then their membership would probably rank somewhere well below the Green Party. But lying about their beliefs and practices has done them quite well in years past, thank you very much, and from their point of view there’s really not much reason for them to change their ways. The only hope is for the American people to wise up to their lying ways.

Considering the recent resurgence in Democratic registrations, even in Republican strongholds like Alaska, you would think that in a case like the present where the stands of the two major parties presidential candidates are so clearly delineated, that the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, should be towering over John McCain in the polls. However, I am forced to admit that is not the case. In some polls Obama’s lead is within the margin for error, in one McCain actually leads Obama by four percentage points.

Scary thought, isn’t it? For McCain is making no secret of the fact that he is running as a means of continuing the Bush foreign policy. And as a man from a family steeped in admirals and generals, he also esp0uses victory as the only honorable outcome for the war in Iraq. And McCain’s promise of balancing the federal budget all the while continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, fighting tooth and nail to victory in Iraq, while righting the mortgage crises and helping the nation solve the problem of the high cost of gasoline, his protestations sound downright laughable if they weren’t so pathetic. And McCain makes no secret of the fact that if elected he will tilt the Supreme Court further to the side of conservatives, very probably signaling the end of Roe V. Wade and a woman’s right to choose. As George Carlin once said, “These people call themselves ‘right to lifers.’ don’t you love that phrase? Don’t you love the fact that most of the right to lifers are in favor of the death penalty, and they support the South American death squads, and they’re against gun control and nuclear weapons control? When they talk about right to life they’re talking about their right to decide which people should live or die.” . . . “Did you ever look at these people?” Carlin went on, “Don’t you find it mildly ironic that most of these people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place.” George Carlin could be crude and use blunt language, but it was his way to bring the maximum effectiveness to his observations.
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This next item is directed to Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States. What can you do, to get y0ur poll numbers to more accurately reflect the real split in this year’s voter registrations? To reprise an old Walter Mondale charge, “where’s the beef?” You have the plans, the gift of speaking, and lots of ideas. But you are untested. Many of us believe that you are actually flirting with defeat against a highly weak Republican candidate because you are not doing the math. You have ideas, you appeal to youth. And you have mastered the art of fund raising by way of the internet. However, the very backbone of the Democratic party, the many white, blue collar Democrats and the older women, the ones who supported Hilary Clinton in the primaries, are waiting in the wings, and not responding to polls. As a result you, Barack Obama, are running only a few points ahead of McCain, in spite of the mile wide chasm that should be separating you.

The solution is so logical it bites. Do the math. Who was it that was solidly taking all of those industrial states like Ohio, Pennslyvania, Michigan, etc. late in the primaries? This in addition to solidly taking the biggies like N.Y., Massachusetts, and California. Hilary Clinton was the one, that’s who. In 1960 JFK bit the bullet and put Lyndon Johnson on his ticket. As a result he won the presidency. Likewise Ronald Reagan with George H.W. Bush in 1980. We could go on and on.

Hillary Clinton as veep on the Obama ticket would bring all of the widely diverse Democratic factions together in one fell swoop, virtually assuring a November victory. The Clinton name might be loaded with luggage for Republicans who tend to make a religion out of their own lies, but Clinton is no dirty word to Democrats, who remember and appreciate those eight preBush years of prosperity, lots of jobs, no war, and the country coming out of those years with a surplus rather than a deficit. And Democrats would feel absolutely incredible if the Dream Ticket of Obama/Clinton were to happen. So be daring and brave, Barack Obama. Don’t listen to your advisers still bloody from the recent campaign, nor to the so-called tv pundits, who have their own agendas and who wouldn’t know reality if it bit them in their hindquarters. Try it and see. Make Hillary Clinton your vice president and watch your poll numbers suddenly soar into the stratosphere. Take the uncertainty out of your presidential race, and replace it with the taste of sure, overwhelming victory. And stability in the coming election.
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Unlucky McCain. He makes a commercial utilizing the images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton along with Barack Obama, trying to imply a celebrity-empty suit charge against Obama. Then Paris Hilton turns around and makes a little tv pitch of her own, where she announces her own candidacy for the presidency, during which she comes up with an energy plan that dwarfs McCain’s.

Also while trying to show up Obama’s lack of variety in energy policies, McCain came up with a plan boosting among other things, nuclear energy, pointing out that the navy has used nuclear powered submarines safely for many years and never had any trouble. Then, within a day or two it comes out that the navy has a submarine, the Houston, which has been leaking radioactive water in ports in Japan and other far eastern ports. The submarine is now in dry dock, which is probably where McCain should be with his record of omnipotence in the leaking of nuclear misinformation. However, McCain seems almost hysterical as he goes from one lie or distortion to another. He sounds like an old, tired man who really at times doesn’t seem to know which way is up.
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Well, the second trial for a Gitmo prisoner was completed, and the prisoner, a former driver for Osama bin Laden was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for supporting terrorism.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden was sentenced by a military jury Thursday to 5 1/2 years in prison for supporting terrorism, a far shorter term than demanded by government prosecutors. The judge gave him credit for five years and one month of his pretrial incarceration at Guantanamo Bay, making him eligible for release from custody in five months.

A Washington Post story by Jerry Markon and Josh White, called the sentence a stunning rebuke to prosecutors who had insisted on a prison term of at least 30 years and portrayed Hamdan throughout the trial as a hardened al-Qaeda warrior. The jury of six military officers convicted him of supporting al-Qaeda by driving and guarding bin Laden and ferrying weapons for the terror group, but he was acquitted of terror conspiracy. The result – a mixed verdict and an extraordinarily light sentence – could raise questions about the administration’s strategy of taking high-profile terrorism trials out of civilian courts and bringing them before the military.

Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the verdict and the sentencing “clearly indicates the fairness of the process” and that the Department of Defense respects the decision. However it is uncertain what will happen to Hamdan when he finishes serving his time in January. Military prosecutors said during the trial that an acquittal would not change Hamdan's status as a prisoner. He was declared an enemy combatant by the military in a separate proceeding, and the administration has said it can hold such combatants until the campaign against terrorism is deemed over.

While the Bush administration could order him held, officials could also transfer him to the custody of his home country, Yemen, or release him outright. The administration has been hesitant to repatriate detainees to Yemen because of concerns about its lax handling of terrorism suspects. After hearing his sentence, Hamdan thanked the jurors and repeated his apology for serving bin Laden. Jurors were aware of the judge's sentencing credit when they issued their sentence.

Earlier at the hearing, Hamdan had pleaded for a light sentence and apologized to U.S. victims of terrorist attacks. "It was a sorry or sad thing to see innocent people killed," he said, according to a transcript. "I personally present my apologies to them if anything I did has caused them pain." He admitted that he kept working for the al-Qaeda leader even after he learned that bin Laden had planned terrorist attacks. But he said his only motive was supporting his family. The father of two, who has a fourth-grade education, said he needed a job and that bin Laden paid well.

Of course, the chances are that with the Bush administration scheduled to hit the road come the 20th of January, 2009, Hamdan will stand a good chance of being repatriated to Yemen and his wife and daughters, at least if the Democrats win the presidential election in November. Fortunately the Democratic party has not adopted the arbitrary and dictatorial stance of the Bushies. It has been a dreadfully long eight years.
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Beware of the servants of the Lord when they get angry. Allegations of racism surfaced in the civil trial of Victoria Osteen, copastor of the Lakewood Church, who is accused of assaulting a black Continental Airlines flight attendant in 2005. The accusations came in the afternoon of the first day of testimony against Osteen, the wife of evangelist and author Joel Osteen. The attorney for flight attendant Sharon Brown said the allegations will be a continuing theme.

In testimony Thursday, flight attendant Maria Johnson implied Victoria Osteen acted in a racist manner during an incident over a spill in the arm of a chair, when the co-pastor sought her out instead of two black attendants that day. One of the other attendants was Brown. Reginald McKamie, the attorney who is representing Brown, elicited testimony from Johnson that she felt Victoria Osteen singled her out because she was "the only white girl." She told jurors that Victoria Osteen grabbed her by the arm and led her to the spill, "like leading a naughty child." Johnson said she was shocked by her behavior.

When Victoria Osteen's attorney, Rusty Hardin, then questioned Johnson, he accused her of playing the "race card," prompting an audible gasp from the gallery. McKamie then called psychiatrist Shayna Lee, who said black women interpret confrontation and others' actions differently than other races and genders. Lee, who is black, said Brown was referred to her specifically because of the challenges facing black women.

Brown accuses Victoria Osteen of assaulting her, contending the co-pastor grabbed her by the shoulders, pushed her into a restroom door and elbowed her in the chest on Dec. 19, 2005. Brown is asking for 10 percent of Victoria Osteen's net worth. Brown's lawsuit claims she lost her religious faith and suffers from hemorrhoids because of the anxiety and trauma from the incident. Victoria Osteen paid a $3,000 fine to the Federal Aviation Administration for interfering with a flight crew member, a fact seized upon by Brown's attorney. The Osteens paid the FAA fine to put the incident behind them, Hardin said.

Moral, there’s nothing meek about the well-heeled followers of Our Lords of the Lakewood Consortium. With the rich go the power to treat the working class with the arrogance they deserve. Long live the superiority of the ruling classes, and the high paid legal talent that insures their continued dominance.
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Here are more Stumbled Upon high school metaphors for your giggling pleasure.

• He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
• The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
• McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
• From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
• Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
• Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
• They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.
• John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
• He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
• Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
• The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
• The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
• He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
• The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
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And there you have it for this week. Hope you'll come again next week, and point any friends who might enjoy this here. Bye bye.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blog #47: "Hear Ye, Hear Ye. . ."

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye!” a booming voice in my head keeps repeating. “Let us raise our glasses high. Let us give a toast to our federal government, that entity which proudly represents ‘a few of the people, a modicum of the time.’”

Mantra of the Bush/Cheney administration. Taking the slogan of, “we put the law on your side,” Bush/Cheney amends that to read, “we put the government on your side if you’re rich. And we solemnly swear we’ll do our damndest to make you a lot richer. As for the rest of you turkeys out there, get a life, get religion, and until you straighten up and fly right you get to pay the taxes that support us in the style to which we wish to become accustomed. So there! That’ll teach the 70% of you out there for being Democrats and independents. In our party only Republican rightwing Christian conservative yahoos need apply.”

The week’s big news stories began with the story that we all suspected was the case long before an investigation revealed its truth. It was the news that, surprise surprise, the Department of Justice under former attorney general Gonzalez used strict lines of questioning to make sure that it hired no employees, lawyers or otherwise, who were not 100% loyal to the Bush White House. Congressional testimony placed that responsibility directly on the shoulders of one Monika M. Goodling, charging she espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices. This aide exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department’s second-in-command.

This was done not just in recruiting the Justice Department’s political jobs, but also recruiting for permanent civil service positions, therefore making the practice illegal as well as immoral. One source said that among staff members she was known as “she who must be obeyed.” Whereas this kind of deck stacking makes absolute sense to the absolutists of the world, men like former Bush adviser Karl Rove and former House majority leader Tom DeLay, to many of us such behavior happens to be not just illegal, but highly immoral. This is because of all the government departments, the Justice Department in particular should not operate from a narrow partisan perspective, but should administer its justice with as wide a swath as possible as it purports to serve many aspects our widely divergent society.

All the while as he was running for president in 2000, the inveterate Bush, he of the two faces, both spewing odious vapors, wielded the specter of his bonafides as a politician by pointing out that as governor of the State of Texas he had worked closely with the Democratic leadership of the State House and Senate, and that it was he, therefore, who was the best qualified to bring the diverging political forces in Washington together. This had actually been true in Texas, for as governor he would not have gotten to first base if he hadn’t been bipartisan, for in those Good Old Days Democrats ruled the Texas roosts, including both State houses. Incessantly harping on this, the 2000 election cycle found Mr. Bush assuring us that Texas had been only the beginning, and further that he alone was the one who would reach across the aisle breaking the hold of flagrant partisanship in the Congress. That if elected the former governor of Texas would be a truly bipartisan president. What an absolute crock! What a cynical promise considering how completely the Democrats were shut out of the legislative process during Bush’s first six years, in many cases not even allowed to attend the meetings in which industry lobbyists actually wrote much of the Republican legislation of the period. It was not until the blessed 2006 elections that Democrats finally won back control of the House and Senate, and consequently began to have their voices heard.

Recently vice president Cheney pointed out to that ABC reporter that this administration does not let itself be influenced one little whit by polls. In other words, they could care less that up to 80% of the nation believes the administration is on the wrong path. He boastfully admitted ignoring the polls as if that was something of which to be proud. Whereas it may be true that a president with one ear to the wind may not be much of a leader, however, if his sense of direction is correct, at least he will be taking the nation in a direction in which its people wish to go. A true leader does not lead his nation off a cliff. A true leader does not take a horrific happening like 9/11 and attempt to skew it to his own purposes, claiming nonexistent ties of Saddam Hussein to Al Quaeda, trumping up tales of mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction and bogus claims that Hussein is months away from being able to produce nuclear weapons, thereby promulgating such a state of anxiety within the United States that Bush’s subsequent invasion of a country which had done not a single aggressive act towards the U.S., came as almost a matter of relief.

Only fools and despots arbitrarily attempt to lead their people to places where they don’t want to go. And the Bush administration seems to be top heavy with both. No sir ree sir, the vice of Cheney to the contrary, a real leader pays attention to the people who elected him, takes the public pulse often and leads the people in a direction in which they wish to be lead. Which is a reminder to us that the blessed time keeper is gently ticking away the final moments of Bush/Cheney, that its reign will soon be just a painful memory, a distant nightmare as it were. Fortunately Laura Bush is house hunting in Dallas. I really think that two ex-presidents named Bush in Houston would be a strain of our city’s delicate infrastructure. George Herbert is one thing, he had sense enough to listen to his advisers when they told him to stop, don’t enter Bagdad. Let W. settle in Dallas where all of those right wing conservatives will make him feel right at home.

And our Mr. McMeToo, alias Mr McSame, spent the early part of this week exhibiting his latest removed skin blemish while chattering away meaninglessly about how he is going to balance the budget by curtailing government spending, while at the same time renewing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, plunging full speed ahead in our occupation of Iraq with it’s ten billion dollar weekly outlay, and at the same time take care of our nation’s needs for a stable housing market and low priced gasoline. Oh and by the way, he announced he is going to bring our troops home from Iraq, but only after winning a complete victory there. Right on! How far can you bend credulity, Mr. McSame? Here’s one more question for the American voter to answer. Do you see a bankruptcy in our nation’s future? Inquiring minds want to know.

In the last couple of days Mr. McSame’s campaign has been charging that the Obama campaign is playing the race card. Of course he’s playing the race card, you worthless twits, he’s black! What other card would you expect him to play? And you, mister bereft-of-ideas, are playing the Caucasian card for all its worth. And given the recent Caucasian history of your party I would predict that it’s not worth all that much.

In the first draft of this paragraph I called the presumptive Republican nominee Mr. McMeToo. In a revellation of massive proportions I renamed him Mr. McSame, because it damn near rhymes with his real name, McCain. The way he has been coming on of late, disparaging Senator Obama’s character, trying to associate him with the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and demeaning his motives, we think Mr. McShame might be a more appropriate moniker. So there you have our three variations, Mr. McMeToo, Mr. McSame, and Mr. McShame. Which name do you favor? Ir none of the above then make up your own name for him.
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Back during the dim dark days of the Vietnam war the nation’s newspapers were nonplussed. What to do? U.S. presidents don’t lie; let me further qualify that, U.S. presidents do lie just like everybody else, but we have placed them on a pedestal raised so high that America’s family newspapers and television news anchors cannot call a president on his lies. The statistics LBJ was handing out in the early stages of the Vietnam War were obviously conceived in his wildest dreams. Or perhaps gleaned while high on some exotic mushroom or a highly potent blend of Hashish. At one point an ingenious reporter on N.Y.’s Herald Tribune, perhaps remembering the mythical missile gap phrase from the Kennedy/Nixon election, came up with the phrase “credibility gap” to describe LBJ’s sojourns from the realm of reality. The newspapers of the nation invoked collective sighs of relief. Newspapers don’t like to lie, at least not when they are well aware the information they are imparting is fiction. Now they had a cover. No longer having to pretend it resembled the truth, they could report on it like it was, all the while warning their readers that the administration had a “credibility gap.”

Of course, as a people we have gone a long way since then. After LBJ we had Nixon, who went on to stretch credulity to previously undreamed of lengths. And in these days of our coming of age we are no longer so naive that we think truth has any connection at all with politicians, particularly presidents. We always hope for the best, of course, but after seven years of a Bush team doing its best imitation of a totalitarian regime (all done in the name of protecting we, the people, of course) we have become all the more cynical.
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The standard myth Republican sympatheizers (hereafter referred to as Repugnant. Symps) like to use these days is the fiction that the Democratic party is no different from the Republican party, and therefore it would be a waste of your vote to support them. That is a myth being promulgated by much of the media, including Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs of CNN. Let’s go back fifteen years, shall we? Bush 71 had come off of a high during Gulf War I, only to get mired down in an economy which showed the strains of financing a full scale military operation completely on credit. Under Bush 71 the budget deficits loomed large but surmountable. Bill Clinton took office, and the economy soared. Job creation was at a maximum, and although a disturbance happened in the Balkans, no war developed from it. The conflict was resolved merely by the threat of bombing. And in response to the bombing of two of our African embassies, and of the naval vessel Cole, Al Quaeda training facilities were bombed in Afghanistan. But again no war. A smooth running federal government, fueling an unprecedented period of growth, and get this, all the while Republicans one and all were screaming and hollering “nay!” at every step of Clinton’s way, and in spite of the Republican’s investigating him every which way to breakfast, by putting the interests of the country ahead of his own party Bill Clinton managed to reduce the federal deficit in his eight years in office and actually ended up creating a surplus. A surplus Bush 73, was quick to turn into a pile of red ink, and we all know where the federal deficit has gone from there. Straight to the Christian right’s heaven.

Why do we, the American public, continually delude ourselves with this threadbare Republican nonsense? Supply side economics, the mainstay of Republican rule under Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover created a massive depression which took Franklin Roosevelt his first two terms to begin to get under control, and after America was attacked at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt even funded the ensuing world war in such a way that the nation was not financially crippled. In fact, thanks to rationing, war bond sales, and other matters of the like the US emerged from the war economically stronger than ever. Democrats were strong until Eisenhower’s two terms, then they won back the presidency by the skin of their teeth under John F. Kennedy. After Kennedy’s assassination Johnson stepped into the presidency, and jumped feet first into the Vietnam War. He won one full term running against Barry Goldwater, some say after a tv commercial spread fear of Goldwater’s nuclear trigger finger. But Vietnam did not go as planned, and at the end of his first full term in office Johnson proclaimed that he would not run again for the presidency. A wildly contested presidential race ensued during which anti-war candidate Bobby Kennedy who was leading the Democratic pack was shot and killed, and Hubert Humphrey ended up being the Democratic candidate, with Richard Nixon winning the general election thereby enabling him to draw out the Vietnam War for another four years.

Republicans returned to their true mettle of deregulation and a weak federal government during the mid term election of Clinton’s first term, and by Bush 73 they were well entrenched in deregulating the government. People tend to forget that the reason banks and other such entities got regulated in the first place was due to their irresponsible behavior with people’s money back in preRooseveltian days. But modern economic wizards like Texas A&M economics professor turned politician Phil Gramm managed to deregulate the energy industry just in time for Enron to take its spectacular dive, and then he quickly deregulated banks so that he could step down from the Senate to a lofty position with the Swiss banking firm of UBS. From there he can comfortably watch while any number of American financial institutions enjoying the benefits of Gramm’s deregulation, go belly up, and in his prevailing omniscience Gramm has called our American complainers “whiners.” He was McShame’s economic advisor (and very likely his Treasury Secretary tobe in the unlikely event of a McShame presidency) until the fallout from his whiner comment forced McShame to distance himself from Gramm. The thought of Phil Gramm as Treasury Secretary is enough to send chills down even Republican spines.

How come deregulation doesn’t work? you might well ask. It certainly seems to go hand in hand with the idea of freedom. Regulation was put in place because businesses cannot always be trusted to do the right thing by their customers, or even their stockholders. Regulations were not arbitrarily put into place due to some wishful thinking on the part of some bureaucratic rule makers with too much time on their hands. Regulations were applied where and when needed, and should not be removed without the expectation of dire consequences. The Republican mantra is filled with similar dissonance. In many cases it is flat out wrong. The Congress presently has lower scores than the president because the Republicans have held to the administration’s line leaving the Democrats powerless to break their grip and do the bidding of the majority that elected them. Only now, with Republican prospects in November threatening to go down the tubes, is the White House and Republicans relenting enough to let certain popular pieces of legislation pass with a presidential signature. But don’t let that fool you. They will return to a government regulation free state the minute our backs are turned and our attention is elsewhere. Be wary, stay awake, and vote Democratic in November.
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And here is what to me is the best piece of news of the week that has passed. According to Reuters the two biggest pot smokers of the 1970’s are about to embark on their first comedy tour since their acrimonious split 25 years ago. “Cheech and Chong: Light Up America. . .” will hit 22 cities in the United States starting with Philadelphia on September 12 and ending in Denver, Colorado on December 20. In between they will play Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C. among other places.

"This is a moment that I've been looking forward to for many, many years because we have such a legacy and history together that we couldn't escape it, even if we tried," Chong told reporters at a news conference to announce the tour. Cheech and Chong were one of the most successful comedy teams of the 1970s with hit movies and chart-topping records based on their brand of marijuana-influenced humor.

Marin said their humor about doing stupid things while being stoned on marijuana should still appeal to today's youth, as well as Cheech & Chong's older fans. "We've had the younger audience all along. Every time they get to that certain age, they go through that Cheech & Chong period of watching the movies, listening to the records. So, it's almost like a rite of passage," Marin said. As they discussed their tour, Cheech and Chong relied on some props in the form of synthetic marijuana plants to win some laughs, as Chong "watered" the plants with bottled water.

Marin, 62, and Chong, 70, spoke about their upcoming tour to reporters at the Troubadour, a fixture on the Southern California club scene. Marin said as budding comedians, he and Chong waited in line outside the club for hours for the chance to perform there. Cheech and Chong gained notoriety in nightclubs in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s and released their first album, "Cheech and Chong," in 1971. "Los Cochinos" in 1973 won the Grammy award that year for best comedy album. In 1978 their first movie, "Up in Smoke," proved to be a blockbuster, raking in more than $100 million at box offices.

They performed together onstage for the last time in 1981, but continued to make movies and records. The pair split following the 1985 release of their album "Get Out of My Room." Chong said that their break-up – which was well-publicized and bitter – was caused by success. "What happens if you don't have big problems, like trying to make it – when that's cured when you've made it – then your little problems become your big problems," he said. "So you start fighting over stupid things."

Marin carved out a career as a television actor in shows such as "Nash Bridges" and "Judging Amy." Chong also did a lot of TV work, including appearances on "That '70s Show." Chong has long advocated the legalization of marijuana, and in 2003 was arrested and later imprisoned for selling drug paraphernalia.

And just why is an upcoming Cheech and Chong tour worthy enough to get a large Reuters story announcing it, and to be mentioned in these unvenerated pages? For one thing, for seven years now America has been too damned uptight, allowing the so-called Christian right entirely too much influence on what we have gotten to read and see and enjoy. If any team can break this logjam and get the river of comedy flowing again it has to be Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Particularly with George Carlin no longer in the house, we have a problem of comedic straightness impaled in cement. Their tour should make short work of that little problem. I just wish I could see it, I hope it will be filmed and the results come out on DVD. It’s sure about goddamned time we had some real humor in our house once again. Cheech Marin summed up their years of fighting this way. "We've gotten to the age where we don't feel like fighting anymore," he said, "because the end is a lot closer than the beginning."

Out with Bush/Cheney. In with Cheech/Chong. Anyone second that?
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If you happen to be wondering whatever happened to the Fake Steve Jobs, go here: Although it is interesting, of course written by the same author, but it doesn’t have the verve of Fake Steve. Trouble is, I suspect, that these days the Real Dan is a hot property, and he daren’t do those wild profanity-laced speculations that were so funny when he was writing as Fake Steve and hiding behind the persona of the Apple CEO.

I will freely admit that it was those hilarious posts by Fake Steve that got me into blogging. My oldest son had been pressing me to write down pieces about my life for the edification of his two sons, and I toyed with the idea of publishing a blog as that would give me an incentive to write. One day I visited the Google blog creation site, and for the fun of it I filled out the blog template. Actually, what I did was to take a blog I had written in AppleWorks, saved it to the clipboard and then pasted it into Google’s blog template. And after proof reading it, I hit the publish button at the bottom, and viola! My very first blog was published.

Of course somehow I screwed up the URL, spelling the word little with an extra l, hence (Note the double t’s, double l’s, double e’s, and double d’s.) To this day I haven’t changed it (which would probably be quite easy) because of my theory that its incorrectness might make it somehow stand out. I also freely admit that to this day I use the very same routine I had used submitting that original post.

All during the week I write my blog in the very same AppleWorks’ word processing program I used in the beginning, then come Saturday mornings I highlight what I have written, copy it to the clipboard, after which I open my Google blog page, sign in, click on new post, and when the template appears, I paste in the contents of my clipboard. I have resisted learning the first thing about html as if it was the plague. I used the name the Real Little Eddy because it being a blog, I felt I could tell the truth about what I think and feel about what is right about America, and what I feel is screwed up about our land of the free and home of the brave. Of course, the $64,000 question: would anyone bother to read it? Well, a few do, though early on I made the mistake of installing a counter at the bottom of my page, and my weekly page viewers are in the vicinity of a hundred or so, miniscule in web terms.

And so I ponder the possibility of teaching myself html and other tidbits of Webpage Creation 101. The purpose, to have a web presence beyond my blog. I have done 13 onehour episodes of my podcast recreating my former radio program Nightsong, and I would like to create a page on the internet where I can post these so that anyone out in internet land who is interested in creative radio could have access to them.

Now Google very conveniently has a free site on which anyone can have their own webspace, just like it has blogspot where anyone can post a blog. The site even has templates which you can use to artfully put your page together. I am seriously looking into this, and although I have nothing to report on at this time, I hope to soon begin exploring it’s possibilities. It would be fun to perhaps have a poem or two, a couple of photos, and of course, access to my podcasts. It could also have a link to my blog, plus links to blog collections on certain topics, like presidential candidates. Not to forget the Texas Child Protective Services doing what they do best – taking children from their rightful godgiven parents and putting them into the statewide Texas foster child system. Does the figure 460 sound about right? And what would you feel about a judge who not only makes this happen, illegally treating the many cases as one to expedite the removal of the children, but who when the Appeals and Supreme courts affirm the parents’ original right to due process and orders the court to return the children, that same judge requires the parents to pick the children up themselves from the far flung reaches of this rather large state at their own expense?

Where do judges like judge Walther come from. These days most all Texas judges are Republicans. Kind of figures, don’t it? I hate to admit it but Texas Republicans were pretty smart. The first thing they did was get their members elected and appointed to judgeships throughout the state. That was so their legal squabbles, their many challenges of voters who won’t vote their way, and their outrageous redistricting plans, etc., would receive a sympathetic hearing in the courts. So here is your challenge, Democratic party of Texas, if you dare accept it. Start high on the hog. Win back Texas, one judgeship at a time. Then go after the rest of the hog. The State House and Senate. If you ask me after seven years of State and Nationwide systematic abuse, the Republican hog is very vulnerable.
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Little Eddy comments on the nation and Texas ever guided by the inspiration of Samuel B. Clements (Mark Twain) and George Carlin to name two of our inspirations. We thank you for dropping by, and hope to see you again next week. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy