A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
- Prairie Weather

“Protest works. Just look at the proof”

Free MP3 sites

Be your own program director. Venture off the beaten path. Live a little.

2dopeboyz: Hip hop. (RSS)

3hive: Sharing the sharing. Free and legal MP3s from over 600 underground and undiscovered artists — new ones added daily. (RSS)

Amazon MP3 Download - Frequency: Weekly. Get the latest on Amazon MP3 music downloads - new releases, freshly ripped hits, and special deals.

Audio Drums - A blog for rare, possibly overlooked, maybe forgotten gems of music with a slight emphasis on electronic and indie genres. (RSS)

Common Folk Music - A blog about music, not just folk music, but all music ranging from indie to alt-country to bluegrass, because music is for the “Common Folk”. (RSS)

Discobelle.net (RSS)

Fiddlefreak Folk Music Blog - Folk, bluegrass, Celtic, and other music of the people. (RSS)

Fingertips Music - Free and legal music. (RSS)

Gorilla Vs Bear (RSS)

Hillydilly: Simply Good Music. (RSS)

I Rock Cleveland: Indie Rock, College Rock, Alt Rock, Modern Rock, Cleveland Rock, and Rock. (RSS)

KEXP Song of the Day: KEXP 90.3 FM - where the music matters (RSS)

Kick Kick Snare (RSS)

Line Of Best Fit - TLOBF.COM | Music Reviews, News, Interviews & Downloads (RSS)

Lipstick Disco - Deep House & Disco music blog fronted by Females (RSS)

Minnesota Public Radio Song of the Day: Music lovers from 89.3 The Current share songs with you each weekday. (RSS)

Muruch (RSS)

Music Like Dirt: Music in all its many forms, mp3’s, live reviews and photography. (RSS)

My Old Kentucky Blog - a music blog that parties with unicorns. (RSS)

Nah Right. (RSS)

ninebullets.net. (RSS)

Rollo & Grady: Los Angeles Music Blog, LA Music Blog (RSS)

Said the Gramophone: a music weblog (RSS)

She Makes Music: She Makes Music focuses on the most exciting and impressive new music created by brilliant and talented female musicians. (RSS)


Sounds Better With Reverb (RSS)

Stereogum: All the MP3s on Stereogum.com (RSS)

their bated breath (RSS)

Women of Hip Hop (RSS)

YouKnowIGotSoul (RSS)

Mourn ya till I join ya

The Wheel’s Still In Spin: Focusing on new music releases and reviews of individual albums as original, fictional short stories (RSS)

A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz - This site is just a way for me to have a little fun and share a little music. I’ll highlight some of my favorite artists that I play on the radio and try to expound upon their music in ways I can’t always do on the air. (RSS)

Aminal Sound

Audiofile: Music Blog, Music Articles - Salon.com

Crossfade: The CNET music blog

Direct Current New Music - Adult pop, rock, singer/songwriters, folk, Americana, alt-country, adult alternative, soul, world music, crossover jazz and simply those artists that make us go “hmmm.”(RSS)

GarageBand.com Folk top tracks (RSS)

GarageBand.com Hip Hop top tracks (RSS)

Flawless Hustle: Urban culture blog featuring artist interviews, music reviews, legal music downloads, street art, graffiti and more! (RSS)



The Jon Swift principle: “I will add anyone to my blogroll who adds me to theirs.” Email or leave a comment to let me know.


The Hunting of the Snark

Sites participating in blogroll amnesty day

Jon Swift aka Al Weisel, may he rest in peace. Co-originator of Blogroll Amnesty Day

skippy the bush kangaroo (Co-originator of Blogroll Amnesty Day) (2012)

Vagabond Scholar (2012)
Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety. Keeper of the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup (The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves)

Notes From Underground (2012)

Redeye’s Front Page (2012)

Wisdom of the West (2012)

Zen Comix (2012)

pygalgia (2012)

Mikeb302000 (2012)

The Agonist (2012)

Brilliant At Breakfast (2012)

Bacon and Eggs (2012)

This Week In Tyranny

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

Dawn Johnsen is taking over the Office of Legal Counsel and she is on record that OLC must be willing to “say no” to the president.  That is good, and her record in this respect is encouraging as well.  On the other hand, Alberto Gonzales said in his confirmation hearings that “I am deeply committed to the rule of law. I have a deep and abiding commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws and not of men.”  How did that turn out?  Similarly, there was a spasm of excitement this week about president-elect Obama’s statement this week: “Under my administration, the United States does not torture.”  Does no one remember that our current president claimed “We do not torture” (more than once) as well?  It is a bit unsettling to see some on the left accept the same kind of advance proclamation of fidelity to the rule of law and firm assurance from those at the top, which they were (properly) deeply skeptical of in the current administration, at face value for the upcoming one.

As detainees are released they are beginning to tell their stories.  I cannot improve upon John Cole: “We have lost our damned minds.”  That is the best available summary of our approach to terrorism.

Guantánamo was born out of contempt for due process.  It is the product of a White House culture that is contemptuous of the Constitution, not of wartime necessity.  So it should not be surprising that the lawless nature of its very existence has been repeated on a larger scale in Afghanistan and orders of magnitude bigger in Iraq.  It’s hard to believe you are a law unto yourself on a small patch of an island but bound by it everywhere else.  God complexes are hard to compartmentalize.

The geniuses behind the unitary executive theory don’t appear to know or care that its principles don’t seem to survive contact with the courts.  Dick Cheney is probably not bothered by this; he just needed it to justify him doing whatever he wanted.  It served that purpose, he’s done with it now, and he may well be indifferent to its fate going forward.  But for the people who really believe this garbage in principle, does it give them pause is slowly, piece by piece, being dismantled?  Does it bother them that their signature cause of the last eight years - and presumably their reputations as well - are being entirely discredited?

UNPACKING JANE: Mayer writes of Alberto J. Mora, General Counsel of the Navy, on page 219.  He learns that abusive treatment is not an aberration originating well down the chain of command, but directed from the top:

“I was under the impression that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services,” Mora said.  “I was appalled by the whole thing.  It was clearly abusive and assaultive.  It was also clear it would get worse.  It could lead to creep, where if the violence didn’t work well, they would double it,” as psychological studies like the Zimbardo experiment at Stanford, in which students guarding mock prisoners became abusive, had shown.  In Mora’s view, the state-sanctioned cruelty was also “clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values…If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government.  It destroys the whole notion of individual rights.  The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty.  It applies to all human beings, not just in America - even those designated as ‘unlawful enemy combatants.’  If you make this exception, the whole Constitution crumbles.  It’s a transformative issue.”

Please keep this in mind when someone tries to use the argument that the Phoenix Program in Vietnam is just one example of other times when America has engaged in cruelty and torture of prisoners.  Prior to this it was still unlawful, and if word of it leaked there was an expectation that prosecutions if not convictions would follow.  What has transformed us in the current case is the assertion that all of it is legal.  This is what is different now.

Rockefeller and Feinstein: Preserving the Bush Legacy

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

On Monday it was reported that Barack Obama would nominate Leon Panetta to be the next CIA director, and there was an immediate, sharp reaction from some fellow Democrats. The LA Times quoted incoming head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein saying “I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director. My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time”, while a senior aide to Jay Rockefeller said the Senator “thinks very highly of Panetta. But he’s puzzled by the selection. He has concerns because he has always believed that the director of CIA needs to be someone with significant operational intelligence experience and someone outside the political realm.”

There has since been some inside baseball - literally describing it as a “brush-back pitch” - about why it happened. At first blush Feinstein’s snippy reaction brings to mind Glenn Greenwald’s memorable formulation about politicians “acting far more out of resentment over the procedural treatment to which they [are] subjected…than out of any principled objection.” Her first reaction to it had to do with her not having been informed, not on his fitness for the position (and heaven knows members of that club have majestic sensibilities that they expect to be catered to). Some groveling ensued, and everyone was happy. But there may be more to it. It also emerged that some key (via) lower level figures would stay in the system. Was that an unspoken assurance of maintaining the status quo?

I have written before about the compromised nature of this generation of leaders, and it is hard to escape the conclusion that much of the Democratic leadership during the Bush years is irretrievably tainted. In addition to Feinstein and Rockefeller, Jane Hamsher includes Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Jane Harmon; Matt Stoller mentions Hillary Clinton’s AUMF vote as significantly damaging her in the caucus states. The fact is, almost all major Democrats during the current presidency had some opportunity to at least make some noise and try to slow the momentum towards lawlessness, but chose to not push back.

(Obama famously opposed the AUMF, but remember he did not have to vote on it. Given his consensus-building style he almost certainly wouldn’t have been a lonely holdout had he been in Congress at the time. Such are the vagaries of life. He was able to take the position popular with his base at no political cost and it ended up being to his great benefit. And sometimes another team’s star player suffers a season ending injury the day before playing yours. You deal with circumstances as you find them and not as they ought to be.)

Now that the president is about to leave town for good it sets up a revealing dynamic. It is probably safe to say a lot of Democratic leaders will miss him terribly because he was such an effective foil. His fearmongering and inflexible approach gave them room to claim helplessness in the face of insurmountable opposition. Whatever their motivation - whether they truly opposed the president but decided if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em, or if they just wanted cover for what they wanted to do anyway - the end result was the same. They decided to get read in to the programs and not object, stuff their pockets with telecom money, blandly endorse an Attorney General who clearly signaled his support of torture, and generally go along with the program.

Now that their favorite excuse for inaction is about to leave there seems to be some uneasiness descending. Speculation is swirling not just about what Panetta’s nomination foreshadows; other nominees to sensitive positions are being chewed over as well. What may be shaping up is a battle not between parties but interests. The Washington leadership of both parties has a strong incentive to prevent any kind of shaking up. Leaks, revelations, investigations and lawsuits concerning this era can only end up badly for them. Getting everyone off the subject is by far the best solution for them. But the president-elect ran on a platform of change, and the Incredible Shrinking GOP is desperate for any glimmer of hope to turn around its fortunes. While I don’t doubt the potential for Obama to move to a more establishment-friendly position or D.C. Republicans’ ability to continue to act with no sense of self-preservation, it is possible that the two might - even inadvertently - put some powerful forces into play. Expect the likely targets to resist mightily.

This Week In Tyranny

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

Some real news - a judge actually endorsed part of the administration’s shadow justice system:

A federal judge in Washington ruled Tuesday that the government was properly holding two Guantánamo detainees as enemy combatants, the first clear-cut victories for the Bush administration in what are expected to be more than 200 similar cases.
Because of classified evidence relied upon by the government, both hearings were conducted mostly behind closed doors.

Lawyers for both men said they were considering appeals.

A lawyer for Mr. Sliti, Cori Crider of the British legal group Reprieve, said that there were many issues for appeal, including the government’s reliance on classified evidence her client was not permitted to see.

Ms. Crider argued that the hearing did not conform to some requirements of the Supreme Court’s June ruling that opened the door for habeas corpus cases by most of the remaining 250 detainees being held at Guantánamo. Detainees’ lawyers greeted that ruling at the time as a watershed defeat for the Bush administration.

“The fact that the word ‘habeas’ was used doesn’t mean that the process was fair,” Ms. Crider said.

James Hosking, a lawyer for Mr. Alwi, noted that his client had not been charged with any crime. “It’s time to charge the prisoners or release them,” he said.

At this point there is no reason to take the administration at its word.  If it cannot make at least some of its case in public it should not be permitted to keep detaining them.  And for God’s sake when will any of them even be charged with something?  I think we are becoming all too comfortable with (or resigned to) our un-American twilight realm.

Just to reinforce the point above, a refusal to be transparent may usually be taken as a bad sign.

Dear Ruth,

When you’ve dug yourself a hole, rule #1 is to stop digging.


Alberto Gonzales dropped in from Mars to tell us that he is “one of the many casualties of the war on terror.”  What is the personality disorder that makes you keenly sensitive to your own inconvenience but indifferent to the suffering of others?

Michael Mukasey is persistently, relentlessly awful.

The Justice Department this week released Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s recommendation that President Bush invoke executive privilege in refusing to release to Congress transcripts of Dick Cheney’s conversations with the FBI.

The seven-page letter (pdf), dated July 15, argues that disclosure of such records would hinder future presidents’ ability to receive guidance from their advisers because Cheney’s conversations detailed internal White House deliberations. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested the transcripts along with other documents related to its investigation into the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.

A bipartisan committee report has already determined the claim was inappropriate, and a separate report (pdf), that the committee has delayed voting on recommends holding Mukasey in contempt of Congress. It’s unclear if the committee will ever vote on that report; a spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Congress may not ever do anything about this, but we know it can be spurred to action by matters of grave importance.  Seriously, isn’t it amazing what they allow to pass and what they will pick a fight over?

A front row seat (via) (translation) to the economic meltdown.  An amazing account.  My favorite part:

How did a market that, I thought, had really helped capitalism work in 2002 become the great destroyer of capitalism of the last two years? There were a lot of contributors to the catastrophe, but one indispensable one is that the ratings agencies monetized their sterling reputations in an extraordinary fashion, and nobody in regulatory apparatus of government saw that this was happening, and what it might portend. The success of 2002 depended on market confidence in the ratings agency process: that’s what made investors willing to buy the notes issued by structured finance vehicles that issued the credit protection that made it possible for banks to hedge. Without that confidence, the market would never have developed. And by 2006, the agencies understood just how much that confidence was worth.

Why hasn’t Moody’s been roasted over its role in this collapse?

UNPACKING JANE:  One of the most damning accusations in the book is Mayer’s reporting of how unconcerned the administration was with extracting intelligence from detainees (p.195):

Most of the military interrogators in Guantánamo were young and inexperienced, with only six weeks of training at the Army’s Fort Huachuca, Arizona interrogation course, where they were taught techniques crafted not for the war on terror, but for the Cold War.  “They had miserable, miserable success,” [Michael] Gelles the [former] Navy psychologist said.  Having worked on the Cole bombing in 2000 and earlier terrorism cases, he had been grappling with how to unlock Islamic extremists’ minds for some time.  He believed Arabs were more elliptical and indirect in their way of communicating, requiring more patience and cultural sensitivity.  He also thought the terror suspects were better understood as criminals and fanatics than soldiers, so he had little use for the Army Field Manual’s approaches, which were geared toward getting tactical information.  Military questioners were prompted to ask incessantly, and fruitlessly, “Where is Bin Laden?”  The problem, he thought, was that the military “had no understanding of the psychology of the enemy.”

This is a policy willful ignorance.  And if you thought my unwillingness to give the administration the benefit of the doubt in the first item was ungenerous here is an example of why I don’t believe they deserve it.

Preparing the Ground

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

The final days of the administration have been filled with so-called “exit interviews” and attempts to make some kind of summary of it. People on both sides are already trying to get support for their interpretation of the big picture and it looks like the arguments over it will fade away about as quickly as the ones of the 60’s have (i.e. when the last one of us dies). I am obviously in the “utter failure” camp and am already impatient with some of the deceptive arguments being used to defend this president. Yes, almost all analysts and intelligence agencies - domestic and foreign - believed Iraq had or would soon acquire WMD, but it was the administration that insisted on war as the answer. Yes, Democratic leaders in Congress were briefed on various torture and surveillance activities, but that just means they too are complicit - the president remains the author of those abuses and it was the White House that implemented them. And perhaps most ridiculous of all, yes we have not suffered another catastrophic terror attack since 9/11 - but the president was sworn into office eight months earlier.

These debates and others will likely continue. But it could be that the most persuasive case against this presidency will be found at the margins, in the details and through small vignettes that are unambiguously revealing. (And a case needs to be made. Those of us who believe the last eight years have been terrible for our country do not wish to see this history repeated. Getting it all out on the table, and having the public generally reject it, is an important part of that process.)

It may be a relatively obscure event that paints the fullest picture. I disagree with Dick Armey on just about every policy position, but he does not come across as a scorched earth radical who has a politics-as-warfare outlook that many of his GOP colleagues had (and have). And I will always have a place in my heart for him because of this:

As the story goes, the 54-year-old former economics professor entered politics after watching C-Span one night and remarking to his wife, “Honey, these people sound like a bunch of darn fools.” “Yeah,” she replied. “You could do that.”

Barton Gellman traces Armey’s experience with the vice president in the run up to the Iraq war on pp. 215-222 of Angler, from which the following excerpts are taken. The two had long been close, Gellman writes. “They had been allies going on eighteen years, Armey following Cheney up the GOP ladder in the House.” But the looming war caused a division:

He should have been an easy vote on Iraq. Instead, Armey had made himself one of Cheney’s pivot points. Congress would decide on war authority, yes or no, in another two weeks. A lot of members were unsure, but no one liked to look weak in an election year. “You remember, at the time Congress was in a panic about this,” Armey recalled. “Everybody was scared to be seen as the guy that didn’t want to go cut somebody’s throat.” If Armey could oppose the war, he gave cover to every doubter in waiting.
Cheney has a private one-on-one meeting with Armey:
“I remember leaving the meeting with a very deep sadness about my relationship with Dick Cheney,” he said. “It’s an intuition thing. I felt like, ‘I think I just got a good BS’ing.’ If you’ll pardon the Texas vernacular, I felt like I deserved better from Cheney than to be bullshitted by him. I reckon that’s about as plainspoken as I can put it.”
But despite Armey’s well-founded skepticism he relents:
Faced with so much certainty, Armey lost faith in his doubts. The vice president had found his pivot point, nudged an obstacle, and tipped the result, just as he did on taxes and torture and global warming…”Did Dick Cheney, a fellow who had been my trusted friend - did he purposely tell me things he knew to be untrue? I will go so far as to say I seriously feel that may be the case…Had I known or believed then what I believe I know now, I would have publicly opposed this resolution right to the bitter end, and I believe I might have stopped it from happening, and I believe I’d have done a better service to my country had I done so.”

What remedy is there for such a situation? If those in power decide to lie even to close friends, and burn up decades of good will and trust in the process, how can you stop them? And if the deceiver in question is also, according to one firsthand observer, “probably the most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur I’ve ever run into in my life” how do you keep him from working the system like a maestro?

The short, unsatisfying answer is that there is no way. Our leaders were hell bent on starting a war and were willing to pull out all the stops to make it happen. In the medium term there can be a price to pay at the ballot box, and that certainly has come to pass in the last two cycles. But there can also be a longer term commitment to justice, and investigations into the nearly guaranteed bitter fruit that such an approach will produce. We can push for it not just out of fidelity to our system of government but because doing so is the surest way to rehabilitate our image abroad. And doing so will surely be a better service to our country.

This Week In Tyranny

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff has a nice article (via) on the situation that Barack Obama will be greeted with when he enters office.  It can’t be pointed out often enough:  If he does not actively roll back this administration’s excesses and power grabs he will ratify them.  For instance, Stacy Sullivan points out that “the machinery at Guantánamo grinds on, seemingly oblivious to what lies ahead.”  And since that place may have put the president-elect’s defense secretary into legal jeopardy it may be more than just bureaucratic inertia in play.  That’s the kind of situation we can look forward to.

The newspaper industry is in great financial distress, and maybe they are trying to cushion the blow of their immanent mortality for the rest of us by publishing inane nonsense like transparently obvious rationalizations for morally degenerate D.C. establishment exceptionalism.

Murray Waas: “Vice President Dick Cheney, according to a still-highly confidential FBI report, admitted to federal investigators that he rewrote talking points for the press in July 2003 that made it much more likely that the role of then-covert CIA-officer Valerie Plame in sending her husband on a CIA-sponsored mission to Africa would come to light.”  Journalism hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory the past eight years, but there’s been enough of this kind of digging by enough reporters for Congress and the courts to run with.  The courts have been good - at times great - in resisting the excesses of the executive branch, but Congress, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, has been an unmitigated disgrace.

Here’s an eye glazing story (emphasis mine) about some coming changes in global stock indexes from the Wall Street Jou….trouble….staying…awa…zzzzzzz

Recently announced plans by Caribbean-based U.S. companies to move to Europe are likely to change the face of some major stock indexes, causing further upheaval for investors in an already troubled year.


Covidien joins Tyco International Ltd., Foster Wheeler Ltd., Weatherford International Ltd. and Noble Corp. as companies that announced this month board approval for moves to Europe. Aside from Covidien, all the companies, which still need to hold shareholder votes, plan to relocate to Switzerland.

Transocean Inc. this month completed its plan redomicile from Bermuda to Switzerland. Insurer ACE Ltd. made the same move earlier this year.

The moves are prompted in large part by fears of tighter tax rules under an Obama administration.


“In the past, companies domiciled in the Caribbean may have gone for some local regulations, but they were otherwise U.S. companies,” said [David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of S&P’s index committee]. “But Switzerland has a truly developed economy and financial system and a complete legal system. It’s a bit of a stretch to say, [about being domiciled there] ‘that’s just a convenience.’ “


“I think these companies are trying to put themselves in better positions to deal with the changes to international tax rules under [President-elect] Obama,” said Rob Culbertson, tax partner at law firm of Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker.

Mr. Culberston said the fact that Switzerland has a tax treaty with the U.S. means that companies domiciled may be shielded from international tax-rule changes. Bermuda doesn’t have such a treaty.

…mmph WHAT?!  So does this mean that companies that have been hiding in, ahem, “lower-tax jurisdictions” are relocating from their offshore tax havens in anticipation of a crackdown?  Smooth.  I’m sure it’s all perfectly legal, but it’s the kind of scumbag behavior that makes people think large corporations, while perhaps run by perfectly nice people, behave as sociopaths and deserve to be regarded as such.

UNPACKING JANE:  From pp. 147-8, on the CIA’s initial setup of our torture infrastructure:

What the Agency was seeking for its most valuable prisoners was total isolation, total secrecy, and total control…One obvious choice was Afghanistan.  For the same reason the White House could argue Afghanistan was “a failed state,” unbound by international law, it was also an ideal spot for secret CIA prisons.  Several other countries, including a number of former Soviet satellite states who were hoping to win U.S. favor for their ambitions to join NATO, also agreed to host ghost prisons.  Although their leaders have denied it, multiple credible reports have identified Poland and Romania in particular as host countries.  The irony of the United States rewarding striving democracies, with histories as police states, for their help in interrogating prisoners outside the protection of the law was evidently not dwelled upon.  “We told them we’d help them join NATO if they helped us torture people,” a cynical former CIA officer said.

The bargains of our era.