Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The grass has roots
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:08 PM
Here's my pick for Most Productive Blog Response Ever. You might remember this thread from last month, where the question arose of whether putting professional-quality recording gear in the hands of the teeming masses (in the form of Pro Tools and "bedroom studios") would be a net positive or negative for music fans.

Well, Mike Tuttle has taken it upon himself to consider this question in the form of a podcast, SkyPieces Radio. He's looking at a wide swath of independently-distributed (mainly rock) music and helping us sort the wheat from the chaff. (IHHO, of course, but HHO ain't too bad.) Check it out.

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Not getting the concept
Posted by neros_fiddle at 5:28 PM
From Bush's press conference:

In a nation that once lived by the whims of a brutal dictator, the Iraqi people now enjoy constitutionally protected freedoms, and their leaders now derive their powers from the consent of the government.

Shouldn't that be consent of the governed?

Well, of course it should, but we should know by now that Bush doesn't know the difference between dictatorship and representative government.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Terrorism is just another word for gay kissing
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:41 PM
So what sort of nefarious terrorist plots is our government shredding the Constitution to protect us from? Via Americablog, we learn:

According to recent press reports, Pentagon officials have been spying on what they call “suspicious” meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The story, first reported by Lisa Myers and NBC News last week, noted that Pentagon investigators had records pertaining to April protests at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey. A February protest at NYU was also listed, along with the law school’s LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw, which was classified as “possibly violent” by the Pentagon. A UC-Santa Cruz “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protest, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a “credible threat” of terrorism.

So when Bush assures you that his illegal and unconstitutional spying was limited to only the worst of violent evildoers, take it with the same enormous grain of salt as his claims three years ago that Iraq really, really, truly, definitely had WMD.

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The Straight-Shooting Truth Teller
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:59 AM
Our President, 4/20/2004:

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

The President cannot be trusted to uphold his oath of office to protect the Constitution. It's now as obvious as it's ever going to be. Can we impeach him now?



I want one of the pool reporters to cite this quote at the next briefing and ask Scottie, "What other violations of law is the President lying to the public about?"

Thanks to Eschaton.

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Monday, December 19, 2005
Words mean things
Posted by neros_fiddle at 6:20 PM
Just to make sure I understand:

- We can keep people detained indefinitely at Gitmo and secret torture prisons because they aren't covered by Geneva Convention. They aren't covered by the Geneva Convention because they aren't prisoners of war. They aren't prisoners of war because we're not really at war, no war has been declared. It's a "different kind of war."

- This "different kind of war" will last for decades.

- Bush says that he's allowed to violate the law because we're at war.

So, what Bush is telling us is that it's enough of a war for him to rule by executive fiat, but not enough of a war for us to violate international law in our conduct of said sort-of-war. And it won't end in our lifetimes. So we'd better get used to him having unchecked power for the foreseeable future.

Looks like al Qaeda's attempt to eradicate our freedom is a continuing success. I'd rather die in a free country than be kept alive by a police state.

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Bush and Gore, 2005
Posted by neros_fiddle at 5:55 PM
Executive summary of recent Bush speeches and press conferences:

There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law.

After all, I am the law.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005
Bush to NYT: How dare you question the great and powerful Oz?
Posted by neros_fiddle at 6:53 PM
Forced to admit he authorized what are quite possibly illegal and unconstitutional wiretaps, the Straight-Shooting Truth-Teller today groused that revealing his impeachment-worthy actions was a threat to national security.

During an unusual live, on-camera version of his weekly radio address, Bush said such authorization is "fully consistent" with his "constitutional responsibilities and authorities."

Bush added: "Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."

He acknowledged during the address that he allowed the NSA "to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations."


Given Bush's track record of correctly identifying people with known links to al Qaeda, this fails to reassure.

Even less reassuring is Bush's failure to recognize that warrantless wiretaps have no place in a free society. During the address, he proudly insisted that he will continue to spy on whatever US citizens he wants, with or without a court's consent.

Sort of makes you wonder what else the press has been sitting on for a year or more.

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Friday, December 16, 2005
When you write the laws, everything's legal
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:49 PM
Before you get too excited about McCain getting the White House to support his anti-torture amendment, read this. McCain is trying to standardize military and nonmilitary interrogators to a single standard of permissible techniques -- that of the Army field manual.

With characteristic mendacity, Bush made a big show of "reversing position" and supporting McCain -- while changing the Army field manual:

The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, military officials said Tuesday.

[...]

Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.

In a high-level meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, some Army and other Pentagon officials raised concerns that Mr. McCain would be furious at what could appear to be a back-door effort to circumvent his intentions.

"This is a stick in McCain's eye," one official said. "It goes right up to the edge. He's not going to be comfortable with this."


As with the rapidly-developing NSA spying scandal, here we see Bush expanding (one might say abusing) the power of the executive branch to get his own way at any cost. At the very least, this explains his obsession with calling Saddam Hussein "the dictator." Dictatorship is obviously a topic near and dear to his heart.

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Measuring the gulf between the President and the truth
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:59 AM
The next time someone (like, say, the President) trots out the notion that attacking Iraq was OK because "everyone saw the same intelligence" on WMD, you can now comfortably call them a rude name.

Here's a report from the Congressional Research Service that explains exactly what the executive branch shares with Congress, and what they don't. It seems highly unlikely that the intelligence could reasonably be called "the same."

Now, if our steely-eyed fighter pilot feels comfortable with spreading that sort of manure for the American public, consider for a moment how much credulity we should bring with us when we listen to him assure us that he's not stomping all over the Constitution.

Especially when we learn things like this:

President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.

The super-secretive NSA, which has generally been barred from domestic spying except in narrow circumstances involving foreign nationals, has monitored the e-mail, telephone calls and other communications of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people under the program, the New York Times disclosed last night.


So not only does Bush contemptuously lie to us about his decision to go to war, he also unilaterally erases our civil liberties with secret orders.

But people like him because he's a "straight shooter." Go figure.

CRS report link from Eschaton.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Let's hear it for Ford
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:07 PM
Seriously.

Following a week of withering publicity after playing patty-cake with the despicable American Family Association, Ford dug around in the boardroom and discovered its corporate balls.

Kudos. I'm proud to have a Mazda in my garage today.

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Roget sighs
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:59 PM
The President shouldn't try to use big words.

I mean, there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, you're a threat. And the 9/11 attacks extenuated that threat, as far as I -- concerned.

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Nero's Fiddle Tech Support Corner
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:21 AM
Welcome to the Nero's Fiddle Tech Support Corner, where we will get "down and dirty" with in-depth technical issues. With 20 years of professional experience on the front lines of information technology and a degree in English, I am uniquely qualified to explain the thorniest tech problems clearly and helpfully.

Today's helpful hint:

Cat vomit will kill an iPod in an especially disgusting way.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of the Nero's Fiddle Tech Support Corner.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005
Christmas War: report from the front
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:29 PM
The brave few fighting to rescue Christmas from the Jesus-hating liberals suddenly found themselves fighting on a new front this week, as they launched an e-mail blitzkrieg against insufficiently Christian churches that decided holding services on Christmas Sunday was just, you know, too much of a hassle. Apparently, Christianity will topple if Wal-Mart greeters don't bow down before Christmas, but dammit, little Esau is gonna want to play with his new Game Boy that morning and it'll be easier to just skip the whole worship thing.

One such church is the enormous Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky (motto: "more parking than Six Flags"). After news broke that it was joining several other "megachurches" in declining to hold services on December 25th, Jon Weece, the senior minister, was deluged with nastygrams from irate soldiers in the Christmas War, who surely never dreamed that they would be attacking churches in their defense of, well, the church.

It was a defiant Weece that took the podium last night in the vast Southland worship hall on a stage bedecked with no less than 15 artificial Christmas trees, a pagan symbol. First, Weece blamed Satan for the criticism: "Can you see or begin to see that the devil is stirring the pot on this?"

After calling his critics tools of the devil, he then complained his critics were calling him a tool of the devil: "People e-mail me, calling me pathetic, a disgrace to the church and the kingdom, a child of Satan."

Shockingly, Weece then proceeded to attack Christmas himself, using the same arguments that were so offensive they got a Wal-Mart employee fired when expressed in an e-mail: "Christmas began as a pagan holiday to the Roman gods, and if we were to really celebrate the historical birth of Jesus, it would either be in early January or mid-April. I'm only pointing out the historical technicalities not out of intellectual arrogance, but again because of the illogical, ill-informed and even hypocritical arguments that were aimed at me this past week."

As a grand finale, he then claimed not worshipping on Sunday is OK because that's how the Jews do it:

Weece also argued that the church would be worshiping every Sunday in December -- at least technically.

Referring to Christianity's Jewish roots, he said that Sunday begins at sundown on Saturday according to biblical tradition.


So the word from one of the biggest churches in the country: it's OK not to observe Chrismas because it's pagan, and besides, worshipping on Sunday isn't really that important anyway.

Reportedly, little Esau doesn't give a damn as long as he gets his Game Boy.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005
Theocracy of the weak
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:52 AM
In addition to dropping some ads from gay-oriented media and ceasing all ads targeting gays (any ads showing up in gay-oriented media will now be "generic" ads, the same ones running in other media), Ford is dropping support for gay events.

This is a huge win for Wildmon's loony fringe hate group. Hold your nose and peruse his site and ask yourself: why does Ford feel the need to knuckle under to these nutcases? Here's a few headlines for those unwilling to grace Wildmon's site with a visit:

Anti-Christian Hostility Driving 'War on Christmas,' Attorney Says

Donor Network Right to Refuse Organs from Homosexual, Says Christian Doc

Seventh Medical Organization Affirms Abrotion
(sic)-Breast Cancer Link

As a side note, I visited Sears for some Saturnalia shopping last night and my lovely wife noticed some crude, hastily-posted "Merry Christmas" signs on the doors. They were, from all appearances, hastily run off a laser printer and taped to the doors. The AFA site takes credit.

What a weak religion these people must have, if they start to lose faith if national department store chains don't constantly reinforce their beliefs to the exclusion of everyone else. Is their God really so fragile that He needs Xeroxed signs to survive?

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Have you bashed gays... lately?
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:03 PM
Let's see here. First, Donald Wildmon's gay-hating American Family Association threatens a boycott of Ford unless they stop advertising in gay-oriented media. Ford stops advertising in gay-oriented media. Wildmon calls off the boycott. Yet, Ford insists that there's no connection between the events!

Ford Motor Co. said on Tuesday that its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands will no longer advertise in gay publications, but denied that the nation's second largest automaker made the decision under pressure from conservative Christian groups.

[...]

Ford's move came nearly a week after the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association canceled a boycott of Ford vehicles that began in May, when the group criticized Ford for being too gay-friendly.

"We are ending the boycott of Ford," association Chairman Donald Wildmon said in a statement Wednesday on the group's Web site. "While we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future."


But, wait, there's more! You say this transparent mendacity reminds you of a certain Presidential Administration? That's no coincidence! The very Ford execs who negotiated the deal with the AFA (that Ford denies even exists) are former Bush White House officials. That's Bush -- making the world safe for ultra-right wackos.

Nice to know that the legacy of Nazi-lovin', Jew-hatin' Henry Ford is alive and well.



(Image from here.)

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