Saturday, September 29, 2007

The True Patriot Act (redux)

The Patriot Act took another hit on Wednesday (Sept. 26).

A federal judge agreed with a guy who had been arrested in Portland over the horrendous Madrid train bombings of 2004.

The government used the infamous legislation to root around in this guy’s life, arrest him wrongly, and screw up generally. And the court spanked the government for doing so.

As usual, it’s a little complicated, but let’s face it, you come to highwayscribery for decoding.

Under the Fourth Amendment the government cannot gather evidence for courtroom prosecution unless it has proven to the court there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

The Patriot Act, naturally, waived the requirement where that crazy “secret court” -- formulated under the Foreign Intelligence Security Act the administration is dying to bypass -- can be convinced the proposed surveillance of an American citizen has something to do with foreign intelligence gathering.

According to an article by Bob Egelko in the “San Francisco Chronicle,” Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon attorney was arrested after the Madrid bombings because the Federal Bureau of Investigation claimed that his fingerprint matched one found at the massacre site. He cooled his heels in the pen for two weeks before the government had to admit (again!) that they’d gotten it wrong, and then ponied up $2 million of your money and the scribe’s to make him whole again.

Obviously not one to fuck around, and certainly worthy of our lionization, Mayfield went ahead and pressed his Fourth Amendment rights. Because he was already free, this effort was on your behalf and the scribe’s.

The government argued they’d already ponied up the aforementioned two bills, but Mayfield wanted the stuff they seized from his home back and sued Uncle Sam anyway.

The highwayscribery board of editors mulled this over and quickly agreed to a position clearly stating that if the government takes your stuff and then they lose the case, you get the stuff back.

The judge in Mayfield’s case, Ann Aiken, agreed: “Since the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the government has been prohibited from gathering evidence for use in prosecution against an American citizen in a courtroom unless the government could prove the existence of probable cause that a crime has been committed.”

Under The Patriot Act, she continued, “The people are expected to defer to the executive branch and its representation that it will authorize such surveillance only when appropriate.”

The board of directors here also voted on a non-binding proposal that says the people should never defer to the executive branch.

Aiken concluded: “For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law - with unparalleled success. A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited as well as ill-advised.”

Extra-constitutional. That’s what they are cooking up in Congress under the guise of protecting you (and the highway scribe).

And the courts are saying its stinks. Two weeks ago highwayscribery reported the striking down of the whole business with the FBI’s “national security letters.”

And it was as much a pleasure to scribble about it then as it has been today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Book Report "The Life of An Anarchist" by Alexander Berkman

“What we call progress has been a painful but continuous march in the direction of limited authority and the power of government and increasing the rights and liberties of the individual, of the masses."

Alexander Berkman, “The ABC of Anarchism”

Alexander Berkman burned life-long for his idea.

Berkman was an anarchist born at the turn of the 20th century. Early on he befriended the famed rabble-rouser Emma Goldman and forged a revolutionary bond that would endure until his final letter to her; contained in this exciting collection of writings entitled, "Life of an Anarchist."

Born in Russia and suckled on the idea of deposing the Czar, Berkman’s writings reveal a precocious and brilliant young mind antagonized by the injustice he saw everywhere in the world, but mostly in the work warrens sprouted everywhere by the Industrial Revolution.

So convinced were he, Goldman, and other immigrant libertarians, that the social revolution was just around the corner - for science held it to be so - that the twenty-one year Berkman injected himself into the Homestead strike of anthracite miners in Pennsylvania.

Although atheist, there is nothing hangdog about the original anarchists. Gerald Brennan, in his “The Spanish Labyrinth,” notes that they are “uncompromising moralists.”

Brennan recounts, “I was standing on a hill watching the smoke and flames of some two hundred houses in Malaga mount into the sky. An old anarchist of my acquaintance was standing beside me. ‘What do you think of that?’ he asked.

“I said, ‘They are burning down Malaga.’

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘they are burning it down. And I tell you - not one stone will be left on another stone - no, not a plant nor even a cabbage will grow there, so that there may be no more wickedness in the world.’

“It was the voice of Amos or Isaiah (though the old man had never read either) or of an English sectarian of the seventeenth century.”

For Brennan, the anger of the Spanish anarchists against the Catholic church, “is the anger of an intensely religious people who feel they have been deserted and deceived.”

At Homestead, the mine owners had hired the notorious Henry Frick to break the strike with his special brand of violence and industrial espionage. Workers were shot and killed. And so the brave young crazy man took it upon himself to kill Frick. Berkman shot him, but unfortunately did not kill him and ended up with 14 years of jail time for his futile efforts.

Incarcerated, he ran into a striker whom did not jibe with his anarchist’s vision of the revolutionary worker; a common experience for the free communist looking to unions as the vehicle by which the “new day” will be obtained.

Berkman was a very good writer, and this tome edited by Gene Fellner and published by Seven Stories Press, also enjoys the blessings of excellent translation.

What the scribe is trying to say is that “Life of An Anarchist,” makes for good novel-style reading.

Berkman’s account of his time in jail is truly harrowing and makes the case for a society without, as he liked to put it, “compulsion.”

Something of an anti-celebrity at the time, the young rebel was singled out for brutal attentions to which he commonly responded with more energy and defiance than the average fellow might be able to muster under such dire circumstances.

It makes for a gripping narrative as the prison dramas, personal travails, and even an attempt at escape with help from his tunnel-digging Italian anarchist friends, make for real-life human drama.

Reading an intelligent writer’s sentiments upon his release into a great, wide world that no longer knows him, nor he it, is also worth the effort.

Anarchists played for keeps in those days and an associated of Berkman’s and Goldman’s murdered President McKinley. So that when one of the periodic red scares gripped American by the throat, both found themselves arrested (more prison stories) and shipped-off to the new promised land, Russia.

It’s not a pretty chapter, the one on Russia. Arriving with a song in his heart, Berkman comes to know first hand the repression and death dealt in by the Bolsheviks - the people that ruined socialism.

He relates experiences and conversations with characters from a Russia gone by, honest and authentic folk, nearly incandescent with the promise of emancipation, often paying the cruel price of their own lives at the hands of a power crazy clan.

Berkman does a wonderful rendering of the grim face-off in Petrograd with the communist government. There the Kronstadt sailors, loyal sons of the October Revolution, made a stand in the name of democracy betrayed, proclaiming “all power to the workers soviets.”

Their massacre at the hands of Mr. Trotsky, who always enjoys the hip left’s support, what with his theory of “permanent revolution” and all, makes for sad reading; a Russian “Les Miserables,” that concludes with Berkman’s declaring the revolution dead.

The account is detailed, blow by blow. Actually, it’s journalism, clean and mean, featuring a terse narrative that lets the actual documents, declarations and decrees from both sides speak the best parts.

The last part of the book is taken up with Berkman’s “The ABC of Anarchism.”

Admittedly highwayscribery, run by a bourgeois poet maintaining a traditional family, does things with its anarchistic tongue in its syndicalist cheek. It’s a way of not taking things too seriously, but the “ABC” is a delightful primer that takes the scribe back to a hopeful youth.

A simple manual for the application of a free and communal social order, the manifesto is infused with the joy only a true black-flagger carries around, infused with the euphoria an abiding faith in human potential lights within.

He starts from square one, holding the reader’s hand while heading down the black-bricked path, formulating a Socratic dialogue:

“Anarchy, therefore, does not mean disorder and chaos, as you thought before,” Berkman writes, “On the contrary, it is the very reverse of it; it means no government, which is freedom and liberty. Disorder is the child of authority and compulsion. Liberty is the mother of order.”

He makes convincing and reasoned arguments about the social salve in taking the competition out of life, of neutering the marketplace, of eliminating discrimination. Better people, he asserts, will come from better treatment. The sky is the limit.

“Imperatives and taboos will disappear, and man will begin to be himself, to develop and express his individual tendencies and uniqueness. Instead of ‘though shall not,’ the public conscience will say ‘though mayest, taking full responsibility.’ that will be a training in human dignity and self-reliance, beginning at home and in school, which will produce a new race with a new attitude in life.

“The man of the coming day will see and feel existence on an entirely different plane. Living to him will be an art and a joy. He will cease to consider it as a race where everyone must try to become as good a runner as the fastest. He will regard leisure as more important than work, and work will fall into its proper, subordinate place as the means to leisure, to the enjoyment of life.”

This from a guy who spent his life on the run, in and out of prison, a man welcome nowhere.

In our perverse civilization, he points out, the value of things is placed on a monetary standards.

“From the viewpoint of social usefulness the street cleaners is the professional colleague of the doctor: the latter treats us when we are well, but the former helps us to keep well. Yet the physician is looked up to and respected, while the street cleaner is slighted. Why? Is it because the street cleaner’s work is dirty? But the surgeon often has much ‘dirtier’ jobs to perform. Then why is the street cleaner scorned? Because he earns little.”

Under anarchy, the wage scale will no longer be speak to the worth of the person, only their willingness to be socially useful.

Berkman’s theorizing can be applied to the very book under the glass here. Purchased at Labyrinth Books, for a paltry $2.98, its value outpaces so much of the drub that hits your face upon entering a Barnes & Nobel, (for example).

Of course. the relationship between the “industrial proletarian” and “peasant farmer” is no longer a crucial question. And Berkman’s wide-eyed view of science and all it will do for us would be somewhat tempered had he the same points of reference (Chernobyl, the declining oceans, Hiroshima, global warming) we do today.

But his hope for a society organized around the loose principles of mutual responsibility, human kindness, and equality still sounds better than anything the scribe pulled from the “New York Times” this morning (or the morning before that).

Long live anarchy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Psychedelic Surfer

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love was not your typical anarcho-syndicate.

And it may not have considered itself such, but an excellent article in the July issue of
“Surfer” magazine profiling legendary board shaper, wave hunter, film star, movie producer and all-around mad man, Mike Hynson certainly suggests they were.

The article was written by Steve Barilotti. It is not available online and we thought a highwayscribery-styled “book report” for the piece (even though it’s not a book) was in order given the great accompanying visuals, and the fact it fits a number of the blog’s themes.

Hynson was born, in Barilotti’s words,
“A pure SoCal golden child with slick-backed blond hair, Ray-Bans, and a seamless straight airtight package that could be readily sold to the mushrooming mid-’60s surf population and beyond.”

At bottom is Hynson, age 17, working as a shaper for G&S in Downtown San Diego.. A few years later he starred with some other guys in a famed surf film, “The Endless Summer.” the iconic poster for which (Hynson in the middle) is second from the bottom.

The rest, as they say, is surfstory.

“After ‘The Endless Summer’ broke big-time in 1966, Hynson’s look, now seen in full-page ads in ‘Surfer’ and ‘Surfer Illustrated,’ was copped shamelessly by mainstream media as the archetype of California style.”

(Just so it’s clear about what and whom we are talking about here.)

Ah, but the sixties were the sixties good friends. Look at the familiar temporal progression in the photos. Short to long hair, straight to freaky-deeky clothing, and a lifestyle shift to match them is what ensued.

Hynson, contrary to most surf-urges of the day, was a dandy who for a time owned a clothing store in La Jolla stocked completely with goods shipped in from Carnaby Street, when Carnaby Street was, well Carnaby Street.

By the time the conversion was complete, Barilotti notes, Hynson had decided to spurn the gifts laid at his feet by the gods of surf commerce. “His choice to go it alone, without the backing of a leading board house such as Hobie or G&S, resulted in his being subtly moved out of the golden light of surf-media celebrity and assigned the status of drug-addled eccentric.”

Which clearly (perhaps proudly) he was.

Barilotti jumps around a bit in his piece, choosing to lede with Hynson’s involvement as co-producer of a strange film product involving the collaboration of Jimi Hendrix known as
“Rainbow Bridge,” which highwayscribery promises to review sometime in the near future.

It’s an interesting story about how Hendrix’s death held up the film’s release and how Hynson, seen in the third picture from the bottom during the shoot, and director Chuck Wein, skirted legal issues with Warner Bros., and “four-walled” the film at the South Coast Cinema in Laguna Beach, south O.C.

Present at the 1971 premiere were,
“the Brotherhood of Eternal Love -- a freewheeling crew of spiritual seekers and psychedelic buccaneers...”

(More Barilotti)

“The Brotherhood, set up a church in 1966, proclaimed LSD and other mind altering drugs to be sacramental pathways to enlightenment. Their philosophies drew heavily from the preachings of psychedelic high priest Timothy Leary, who at times lived with Brotherhood members in Laguna.”

Leary was on then-President Nixon’s infamous “list of enemies” and this article suggests that the cooler, younger, sexier Hynson probably was, too, given his potential for corrupting the minds of a particularly susceptible generation.

Anyway, the premiere was a gift to a brother surfer named Johnny Gale; a crazy guy given to splashing tabs of Orange Sunshine acid at local rock audiences and who built a fortune through illegal drug sales before (surprise!) dying violently in car crash that the article suggests had something to do with those same illegal drug sales.

Also at the premiere were some local narcs of the federal stripe who did not take kindly to a portion of the film wherein some Hawaii surfers bust open a surfboard yielding a stash of Afghani hashish with a poster of Nixon hovering that read, “Would you buy a used car from this man?”

It’s easy to look back at those times as completely free and open and wild, somehow innocent and forgiving, but when you look harder you see the universal military draft, an ongoing war that, from a casualty perspective makes Iraq look like a family feud.

In that light it becomes clear that those crazy self-destructive pioneers of radical politics and sheer sensuality lived dangerously. Why they did so is for the psychologists to determine.

That movie scene, the article continues,
“which brought on howls of derisive laughter from the audience, was an audacious slap in the face of Nixon, the [Drug Enforcement Agency], and especially [local narc] Neal Purcell - a bold yet foolhardy act of defiance that spurred retaliation and a global manhunt that lasted more than 25 years.”

Crazy times. Times in which the daughter of a U.S. Senator, Melinda Merryweather, could act in something like “Rainbow Bridge” and marry the psychedelic surfer/producer.

Soon after the film was screened, agents busted into Hynson’s cutting-edge shaping studio, Rainbow, and busted some of the custom boards open with rifle butts in a futile search for Afghani hash.

No one ever accused the federal government of committing the original turn of thought.

The article gets into the specifics of Hynson’s approach to shaping, the radical nature of his “rails,” which are the side parts of the board. Before Hynson, boards were flat and rounded and sat atop the water. After his innovative, razor sharp edges boards road through tubes and cut the waves up.

Fourth from the bottom is a photo of the Rainbow Surf and Juice Bar in 1973. It was designed by architect Ken Kellogg and “hand built by Hynson without a single nail or square corner,” according to the article.

Hynson’s passion was so abiding that he and a friend,
“sweet-talked their way around the Sea World front office to have one of the handlers coax a trained dolphin named Cindy up on the ramp so that Hynson could meticulously trace and duplicate her dorsal fin.

“He wrote later, ‘The softness, the rounded corners the fact that it’s a natural design that works for one of God’s perfectly functional creations. And if you can put your head in that place, and maybe this fin will help, it will be the beginning of a new awareness and surfing’.”

That’s enough to know there, although the article gives lots of love to the design aspect, because it is, after all “Surfer” mag.

Journalistic requirements obligate the scribe to wind up a story you know too well. The early ’70s, the cocaine, the end of “the dream” and, once again, the dissipation of a streaking, creative spirit.

Hynson spent the last 15 years or so sleeping in garages along the San Diego County coast, doing a number of stints in jail and just trying to keep his lonely difficult life afloat.

As the article notes,
“‘The Endless Summer” and the Summer of Love were long over. The mother wave of all bad Karma was feathering on the horizon, and the best Hynson could do for the next 25 years was suck it in and scratch for the bottom.”

The surf metaphors are actually more refreshing here at highwayscribery than at “Surfer” where the writers work hard concocting original prose for so specialized an interest already burdened with its own linguistic signposts.

What saved Hynson, and led to the writing of the piece, was his continued commitment to board shaping, what the article called the endless
“quest for forms” ... his craft.

Hynson’s shapes are back in demand in the strange and impermeable culture of surf, he’s back on the map and, over sixty, still good with his tools.

He has a
Web site and the boards are beginning to sell, which makes this fascinating story happier at the endpoint, then it has been for so many of his contemporaries.

"Under the Watchful Eye" (An ACLU Report)

In "Spies Like Them," highwayscribery promised to read for you, the highwayscribery nation, a recent ACLU of San Diego-Imperial Counties study on government's increasing use of surveillance cameras to monitor the goings-on in public spaces and to report back.

Mission accomplished:

Orwell got the date wrong, but the cameras are here now and more sinister technologies on the way.

The result, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, “is a dramatic expansion of government video surveillance of public space at the local level.”

That’s longhand for, “You’re being watched when you’re out in the street.”

The report, “Under the Watchful Eye,” included a survey of 131 communities nationwide that have employed cameras in their parks, streets, and other public meeting places while also taking the temperature in Great Britain where they’ve gone hells-bells for the new surveillance technology.

The report concludes that, “Video surveillance systems are proliferating despite the fact that they infringe on the freedom of speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment and threaten the anonymity and privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment and state constitutions.”

The idea of video surveillance is noxious to civil libertarians, but coupled with the application of other, newfangled toys coming down the pike, it becomes downright poisonous.

That’s because the repressive impact multiplies when government combines cameras with emerging technologies such as automated identification software, face and eye scans, radio frequency identification tags (RFID), and databases at the fingertips of law enforcement.

For example, by combining video footage with face recognition software, enforcement gremlins can quickly identify people simply strolling down the street or up to political mischief, such as demonstrating.

Because an iris is as unique as a fingerprint, the same goes for eye-scanning technology.

If, (when?) RFID tags are embedded in identity cards, and machines that read integrated into surveillance cameras, “government would be able to collect and compile an immense amount of information about individuals and their private lives,” the ACLU observed.

The Man does not have digital photographs and “biometric” information on file for most people, but he wants it and passage of the nefarious Real ID Act last year will help him get it. The report urges pressure from the states and civil liberties groups in an effort to stop the federal government from taking another step towards Orwell’s nightmare.

Otherwise, they will have profiles not just on criminals and “suspected terrorists” (the great bugaboo of the nascent century), but regular and abnormal folks just like you, too.

What kind of information? Well, it might include, “your motor vehicle records, police records, employment history, DNA and drug testing records, and you and your family’s travel and buying habits.”

That’s long-hand for, “Your closet and all its skeletons.”

Lawmakers' response to this expansion of government capacity for obtaining, sifting through and archiving the days of your lives has been wan at best. Consequently, the courts’ view of privacy protections in public settings have no legal basis to expand and keep the snoops away.

Okay, you’re American, you were born within the past 25 years and not exactly fed on a civil libertarian diet of ideas from on high. You live in a culture of violence on television and a reality of violence in the street. You’re saying, “Hey, if someone’s behaving well, then they don’t have to worry about being watched.”

Oh, you poor product of the fading conservative era!

Sad reality, this business of having to inform you that, “People have a right not only to engage in speech and protest on public streets, but also to do so anonymously so that they can speak without fear of reprisal from the government. This right to anonymity, or namelessness, is necessarily tied to privacy” (quote the report).

Think of doing and saying and doing some of things you say and do over the Internet without that catchy handle in lieu of your real name. That keeps you anonymous, or so you hope; assured that if someone were watching, your cyber-life might be radically different.

“Installing cameras in public spaces is tantamount to requiring people to identify themselves whenever they walk, speak, or meet in public,” said the report.

And it goes on to point out how Fourth Amendment establishes a zone of control around our bodies and possessions. To transgress this zone, the government has to demonstrate there is a reasonable cause to expect some hijinks. The zone extends beyond the front door of our dwelling, literally following us as we traipse through the public scene.

Now we know you were reading your handy copy of the Constitution just last night, but in case you were drinking at the time, here’s a refresher on what The Founding Fathers Fourth Gift says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.”

At least some sitting on the nation’s highest court get the message. Here’s Justice John Paul Stephens asserting that, “the decision in favor of anonymity is motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much one’s privacy as is an aspect of freedom of speech protected by the Fourth Amendment.”

If all the high-flown rhetoric about liberty and freedom (who needs em?!) doesn't get your goat, here's a more pedestrian concern to mull...

...The damn things don’t really do what they’re supposed to.

A 1999 study by the Scottish Central Research Unit did a before-and-after analysis of surveillance apparatus in Glasgow, Scotland and found reductions in crime “no more significant than those in control areas without the camera locations.”

For those of you who forgot their Psych 101, "control" gruops or areas are the "regular" set-ups by which you compare results with the experimental group (or area).

The British Home Office weighed data from 18 jurisdictions, found some improvement in parking garages, but ultimately concluded that closed circuit television monitoring, “led to negligible reduction in crime of about 2 percent in the experimental areas compared with the control areas.”

They found that people who were aware of the cameras actually were more freaked out about the possibility of being a crime victim, which is not good when you consider that, in London, the average person is now captured on video camera 300 times a day.


In one U.S. study, robbers themselves claimed that cameras and videos aren’t effective and don’t keep them from robbing, and we know this because the nightly news in the U.S. often shows us robberies, murders even, caught on video tape, typically in liquor or convenience stores.

Another study in Cincinnati, Ohio found that the city’s program merely shifted crime beyond the view of the cameras.

But 9/11 paranoia rules public discourse and incompetence personified in the president himself drives public policy, so they’re going in for the new technology without understanding its far-reaching impacts.

The report found that municipalities actively monitoring surveillance footage have done little or nothing to determine its effectiveness nor compared benefits against other programs and approaches.

Of course, even if the cameras don’t protect the populace, they serve other myriad and intrusive goals of the security apparatus not usually cited as the rationale for their application.

In the end it’s just more bad public policy. Amost anywhere else, some kind of means-testing would be required. But here, where reaction rules, cameras, like big border fences, triumph for simply sounding like good ideas.

While he was Mayor of Oakland, current State Attorney General Jerry Brown rejected the use of surveillance cameras, arguing that, “Reducing crime is something the community and police must work on together. Installing a few or a few dozen surveillance cameras will not make us safe. It should also not be forgotten that the intrusive powers of the state are growing with each passing decade.”

Let’s see if having him in the legal drivers seat serves to protect California’s from the creeping hand of the security state.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Visual Vedette

Maybe during your day off there will be time to watch the scribe and guitar God Omar Torrez rip through a session of "Vedette Does La Danza" for Calabasas (California) television. An verbal, musical, and visual presentation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On and on...

The war will continue.

In November 2006, having swept the Democrats into power, progressives could dream of a withdrawal from the nightmare George W. Bush had created in Iraq.

Yes, concerns that things might get worse were legitimate, but they (from our perspective) were successfully defused by suggestions Iraq will have to sort out its own disaster and that the cost for fixing a distant country's prejudiced-based problems was too high.

But as Dan Froomkin of the "Washington Post" noted the other day, w. still defines the parameters of debate in the nation's capital. It's true Congress holds the keys to the gem box where financing wars is concerned, but Pelosi, Reid and Co., passed on shutting down funding this past Spring.

It's been downhill ever since.

highwayscribery's long-held position is that they should have gone to the brink with the president and dared him to leave the troops in place without the goodies they needed to hold up their end of the tri-partite violence afflicting that sad country; that they had as much to lose by standing down.

Now we will see.

highwayscribery, for its part, will support no presidential candidate that does not promise to end this fiasco and put the shocking amounts of money being spent to use at home where levees are decaying, bridges collapsing, schools failing, and the middle class evaporating before our eyes.

It is a scandal what is going on this country which seems comfortable with the ideas that war is perfectly okay, that young mens' lives should be sacrificed for false pretenses.

Even George Will wants to know, What is the damn mission anyway? When will this thing be over? Who here really cares about the Sunni-Shia feud and why must Americans bridge it with their money and blood?

Democrats and Republicans alike sit up there bandying big words about while the sons and daughters of little people live their best years circulating around a hornets nest. And we have grown too comfortable with the truth that not all of them make it home.

The general's testimony is not good enough. It does not justify further engagement and expense. "Drawing down" to where we were (in seven months!) only gets us back to where we were in January, which is no draw down at all. Telling the American people that whatever it is they want to achieve in Iraq will take "a long time" is unacceptable.

It's tantamount to saying, "We've failed and need more money to cover our tracks."

And it is immoral and shameful.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. John C. Tanner, of Columbus, GA:

"Corporal Tanner willingly put his life on the line to serve our country and today we honor him for his sacrifice. Maria and I wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies and prayers to John's family and loved ones as they grieve the loss of this courageous individual. Californians are eternally grateful to John for his dedication and commitment in protecting our nation."

Tanner, 21, died Aug. 29 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Tanner was assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Cpl. Tanner, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Air Force Master Sergeant from Martinez

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Master Sgt. Patrick D. Magnani, of Martinez, CA:

"Maria and I send our sincere condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Master Sergeant Patrick Magnani and the community of Martinez as they grieve the loss of this dedicated individual. Patrick's contributions to defending our nation and our freedoms deserve our eternal respect and gratitude. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him."

Magnani, 38, died Sept. 4 in a non-combat related incident near Bagram, Afghanistan. Magnani was assigned to the 31st Medical Support Squadron, United States Air Force, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

In honor of Master Sgt. Magnani, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Four Camp Pendleton Marines

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the deaths of Cpl. Christopher L. Poole Jr. of Mount Dora, FL; Cpl. Bryan J. Scripsick of Wayne, OK; Staff Sgt. John C. Stock of Longview, TX; and Sgt. Michael J. Yarbrough, of Malvern, AR.

"The loss of these four heroic Marines reminds us of the dangers that our armed forces face while defending our country. We will never forget the sacrifices they made for the cause of freedom. Maria and I wish to convey our deepest sympathies to their families and friends as they mourn this tragic loss and we will continue to pray for their comfort."

Poole, 22, Scripsick, 22, Stock, 26 and Yarbrough, 24 died Sept. 6 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. They were all assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Cpl. Poole, Cpl. Scripsick, Staff Sgt. Stock and Sgt. Yarbrough, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Lance M. Clark, of Cookeville, TN:

"Maria and I wish to express our sincere condolences to the family of Lance Corporal Lance Clark as they grieve the loss of this dedicated Marine. With great sorrow, we add Lance's name to the solemn roll of fallen service members. He served with pride and courage, taking on the great responsibility of protecting our nation."

Clark, 21, died Sept. 7 from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Clark was assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Clark, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of El Monte Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Marisol Heredia, of El Monte, CA:

"Maria and I pay tribute to Specialist Marisol Heredia for her commitment and dedication, serving in our nation's armed forces. Marisol represented the highest ideals of our country and will be remembered as a champion of freedom. Words cannot adequately convey our sincere appreciation for her service. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and fellow soldiers."

Heredia, 19, died Sept. 7 at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, as a result of injuries suffered from a non-combat related injury on July 18 in Baghdad, Iraq. Heredia was assigned to the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, United States Army, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Spc. Heredia, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Friday, September 07, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (final installment)

And here, the pensive denouement to "The Liquid Life". the scribe hopes you have enjoyed the story.


She was waiting for me as I returned from a long and casual Saturday of avenue strolling and café lunch. I’ve learned to view it as no small coincidence that I was musing over Bakunin and what he said about the destructive urge being a creative one, when I first saw her after all that time had passed.

Her lips were thicker and her hair was richer and she was dyeing it some darker thing. She no longer lay in the sun, and her face cast blue and gray depending on how desperately the light clung to it.

She had lost that chocolate feeling.

Experience had added the wolf to her eyes and she wasn’t there to ask if it was alright for us to talk now. She was finished playing games.

“Hello Dominique,’ she said and I answered her:

“Hello Elendele.”


For those interested:

Elendele and I held summit at the Upstage Café for champagne brunch. We were surprised at how poorly things were done, at how it looked like no one cared. When we asked for our old friend the chef, we got our short-sought answer.

“Dolmance is dead,” said the waitress curtly, suffocated by the finality.

As Elendele talked she hardly used her hands the way she did before. I teased her about those notions and her weakness for the charm of antique ideologies. Her head bobbed apologetically. Her mouth got embarrassed like all that stuff was stupid and in the past.

“You should be proud.”

“You always gave me the benefit of the doubt.”

She could serve a warm and humble pie.

“It’s the only way I could get you to do these little returnings; liberal use of the sugar cube.”

Elendele softly coils my elbow, takes me out and shares a mint tea with me. We talk for an hour about her concern over the forced and early retirement basketball player, Freddy Banks from Las Vegas, who wore a blue bandana on his right hand, to keep from getting raw since he shot much more than he was supposed to, and from way too far.

She also talked about a visit she’d had with her friend Maia, who was a fruit juicy girl with sequins and surgically pruned stockings. “At least five serious boyfriends ago,” is where Elendele placed their friendship in time. We had met her together.

Maia’s state of decomposition had dazed her shockingly.

“She looked awful,” Elendele painted. “What’s the point of taking care of your body when your contemporaries are going to let theirs go to loose, and remind you you’re old anyway?”

Of course, she had not always been kind.

The girl was disappointed, too, that Saturnina had stopped playing in her fixed-up, mixed-up baseball games.

“You need a better reason to get married than because it’s time to,” was her particular dissection of the liaison with the French Radical Party deputy. Her position was identical regarding friends’ many babies, and she still knew exactly who she was.

“I just don’t know if I like what I see,” was how she lifted her gauzy bandage somehow even making her wounds look good.

I concurred on the issue of Saturnina, but I’d seen Maia and thought her still fresh; just this first sign of some gentle falling, a projection of her physical near-future, down to counting days of beauty, spending them with guile and thrift – out on Tuesday nights only.

Certain things had happened to Elendele and when they were all added up the sum total was fear. She was in a real crisis of spirit. “Is an idea a bad one simple because men fail to make it work?” she asked, emphasizing “men.”

I had no answer (Do you?)

She was mistrustful of the differences between people. The mariachi music in the building next to the salon had become too much and she’d moved because she found herself cursing in Spanish out the window, telling her natural allies to go back where they came from and meaning it.

“I’m becoming everything I ever hated,” she whispered me.

Her depressions had little to do with her personal life and were tied, instead, to the ups-and-downs of world affairs.

“The people are as erratic as the times,” she reported in from the field of battle action and true-love crimes. The earth was an awful place in which – assumed for herself – was the task of leaving bits of new beauty here and there.

But that was her familiar creed and the whole point was that language does not create every reality. That just saying it isn’t always enough. She didn’t seem up to the task anymore. Living creatively in her own handmade world amounted to going against the grain and it had worn her out.

Cortez said it was a surface sign that Elendele had lost the feeling she could change the world.

If that was so, her body of work could be assessed as uneven and the world itself less lucky than before her surrender. So many people had been privy to her animal sentiments. I considered her honestly, in her new pallor before me and she was beautiful, still. A kitten spirit in search of whatever was left of the truth. But that was not enough anymore and she wasn’t sure if it was or should be.

People weren’t around as much. They’d been through her and she through them.

“There are lots of bad feelings floating around me,” she claimed in earnest portrayal. “They came and asked for excitement, but forgot to specify what kind.”

Elendele felt she had delivered on time and now they had strung her up for certain sins against them, had judged her, and rendered their slicings.

Elendele’s hypocrisy could not cheapen the facts of her knowledge and her sketchy campaign for hope. After all, my new gentleman had been pummeled and bruised. Nobody had wanted to play by his rules, either.

Determined not to cheat herself, disdainful of environment and restrictions, it was the aspiration to some higher style of existence that led to her many false paths which we followed her down.

“I’m going to take a little trip,” she noted before her final curtain. “The future’s gaining ground...if, when I get back let’s have coffee...together.”

She forgets to ask me if I want to come along and I choose not to remind her. I’m worn down, too. She lets me wrap a curl around my finger while she closes up shop, but turns away when I try to kiss her.

“We’re just right back where we started, Dominique,” comes her general and summary judgement and when I’d figured she probably just wasn’t in the mood for kissing.

“We don’t know what to do about it all. Only this time around we don’t have as much energy to try and figure things out.”

Whatever. I cannot decide how much credence to give the common rumor that she was just a crazy girl. Someone who wasn’t worth the investment she herself required. That Elendele was something that caught your eye when you first panned the river of life for gold. That she was only bright when the sun shone on her.

But when it did, God could that girl glitter.

The True Patriot act

Is a “patriot” necessarily democratic (as in democratic process)?

Nope. At least not when you’re talking about the USA Patriot Act.

The “Washington Post” reported yesterday that a federal judge had struck down the FBI practice of issuing “national security letters” that require internet service providers and other businesses to cough up information about you, whom you communicate with, what you buy, etc.

We covered the issue in an edition of “Vito Says...” which deals, in part, with an Op-ed written by someone who was hit with such a letter and the mess it made of their lives.

highwayscribery’s take was that the whole thing sucked, was undemocratic in the extreme, and suggested that to protect ourselves from Islamo-fascism, we’re going in for stormtrooping with a crucifix.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, agreed in principle, if not on the particulars.

He said the national security letters (NSLs) are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.”

He also said, “in light of the seriousness of the potential intrusion into the individual’s personal affairs and the significant possibility of a chilling effect on speech and association -- particularly of expression that is critical of the government [gulp!] or its policies -- a compelling need exists to ensure that the use of NSLs is subject to the safeguards of public accountability, checks and balances, and separation of power that our Constitution prescribes.”

Love that Constitution!

There are many Patriots out there who will say, but WHAT ABOUT THE TERRORISTS?!

Well, the point is, it’s not quite so easy catching and confounding terrorists as simply dredging every dissident voice (and more than a few unlucky, apolitical schnooks) into a giant electronic dragnet.

These folks are pros, you know.

The same cannot be said for those who ostensibly protect us, while actually harassing us.

We’ve done covered FBI incompetence in screening for terrorists before. As a matter of fact, visit “Told You So” (March 1, 2007),

If you need a refresher on how the highway scribe told you so.

Thursday, the “Washington Post” (again) published a dispatch with the headline, “Report: Terrorist Screening Database Marred by Errors.”

This morsel is not, like the court ruling, a product of litigious agitation on the part of the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s culled from a document penned by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

It basically says that the government’s terrorist screening database, is a mess and that, “Inaccurate, incomplete and obsolete watch list information can increase the risk of not identifying known or suspected terrorists, and it can also increase the risk that innocent persons will be stopped or detained.”

That's long-hand for, “The system doesn’t work.”

Maybe you’re a patriot who thinks blindly following the dictates of government security entities is the best way to show your love, but we here at highwayscribery say questioning them good and hard is the true Patriot's act.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bitch McConnell (minority leader)

Life’s a bitch for Mitch...

...McConnell that is. The Republican minority leader in the U.S. Senate.

According to Dana Milbank of the “Washington Post,” McConnell greeted reporters with the grace we’ve come to associate with the Republican Party and its allies on “The O’Reilly Factor” and other low-brow “political” shows.

“We didn’t miss you,” he told the pack, which immediately began nipping at his heels.

As Milbank noted, it was a tough summer for GOPers - in the Senate especially - where the goody-two-shoes, “family values” guy from Lousiana, Sen. David Vitter was found to be on a list of special clients maintained by someone they’re calling the “D.C. Madam.”

Then there was the guy from Idaho, up to who-knows-what in the mens room, and Sen. Ted Stevens, from Alaska, who had his offices raided by the FBI.

Far be it from the highway scribe to suggest that because the feds raid your lair you are guilty of something. But Stevens would probably be less restrained were somebody else in the same simmering seat.

“By chance,” Milbank noted, “all three men have their offices on the fifth floor of the Hart Senate Office Building. Camera crews spent much of the summer encamped outside their offices as Washington followed their travails the way the rest of the country watched Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie.”

That’s hot!

Bitch McConnell, the article noted, “attempted to douse the scandals with a stream of aseptic euphemism - and avoiding even a mention of the miscreants’ names.”

That’s hot, too!

Anyway, these and other Republican foibles have led Bitch to conclude that the Democrats are the ones in trouble because of the public’s low (18 percent) approval of Congress.

That’s cold.

We’re not going to get into Bitch’s twisted reasoning (how long before we find him in the bathroom spreading family values?), preferring a rush to a very interesting tidbit rarely (never?) mentioned by the “liberal media elite.”

And that is this legislative session has seen a record number of Republican filibusters (43), which is how you accuse your counterparts across the aisle of getting nothing done: by refusing to let them make law.

Remember when the Republican leadership was going to apply a “nuclear option” to do away with the 18th century parliamentary tactic because the Democrats were “abusing” it to keep a couple of right-wing kooks off the federal bench?

No, of course you don’t, which is why you come to highwayscribery.

How the world does churn.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sept. 11 (and all that)

You’d never know it given the enthusiasm with which he bitches about the Bush administration, but the highway scribe is absolutely weary of bitching about the Bush administration.

This blog still fulfills its muckraking duties where federal policies are concerned, but increasingly looks to posts on literature and surfing and installations of “The Liquid Life” to inform the highwayscribery nation.

the scribe is absolutely astounded at the persistence of the current thugs lording it over us (and the rest of the world); their indefatigable gusto for destroying the environment, their grim determination to see the Iraq debacle through to, er, um we don’t know where, no matter how many lives, Iraqi or American it takes.

These guys just don’t give up and will never possess the grace of viewing those of us who oppose them as anything but a threat to the national security they themselves have so jeopardized.

And we’re not getting tired of blogging (you’ll see as September heats up) at all when we defer to Shaun Mullen over at Kiko’s House where he’s done an important post as the nation closes in on whatever anniversary of Sept. 11 is coming up.

the highway scribe hates September 11, abhors the maudlin kitsch the patriotic set has made of it, does not think the tragedy should have led our foreign policy where the boy wonder (w.) took it, and thinks somebody should stand up and tell everybody else that the chances of them dying in a terrorist attack are about as likely as winning one of those mega-million, multi-state lottery things.

Yes, supposedly they caught some guys who purportedly were going to blow up some U.S. bases in Germany, which is good a reason as any to get rid of those military outposts, along with the ones in Saudi Arabia.

And if the cop set hadn't done such a good job of protecting all of us semi-law-abiding citizens it might have resulted in DEATH ON AN UNIMAGINABLE SCALE!

But the scribe digresses.

Over at Kiko’s the post entitled “The Tail of the Chimera: A Reflection on the 9/11 Terror Attacks etc.,” takes a long and sad look back at both our pre- and post-9/11 world.

Mullen notes (as the regular press usually chooses not to) that this bunch of power-crazy idiots had ample warning about terrorist activity in the Islamo-Fascist (w. and the scribe agree on that0 world prior to the awful, fateful Monday morning massacre.

Writes the blogger: “I have been reluctant to conclude that they could have, but the growing mountain of evidence showing what key U.S. intelligence operatives, [Condi] Rice and others knew but did not feel compelled to act on has convinced me that there was a reasonable chance that the terrorists could have been intercepted at airports in Boston, Newark and Washington on that deceptively beautiful September morning, if not before.”

Mullen, who does not write from an anarcho-syndicalist perspective, is certainly kinder on this point than the fire-breathing editorial board here at highwayscribery (none of whom are employable at respectable media outlets out there in the real world).

On the other hand (left), we’re lock-step on the question of whether the Iraq war could have been stopped:

“That’s an easy one,” he notes. “With a compliant Congress and somnambulant news media, Bush’s neoconservative coven was going to get a war that they had long lusted for even if it was the wrong place at the wrong time and would divert precious resources from the nascent GWOT in general and Afghanistan in particular.”

1. We’d say the press was guilty of “complicity” rather than sleepwalking. 2. We’re guessing GWOT means Great War on Terror, but will update you upon hearing from the author.

It goes on. Mullen notes that Iraq “and its bloody consequences have brought the Republican hegemony in Washington to a crashing end,” and points out that our post 9/11 America is no more secure than was the earlier version [same folks running it], while suffering, “a gross erosion of civil liberties, including the initiation of clandestine domestic spying programs, as well as the abandonment of international treaties and concomitant embrace of torture.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.


A lot of people have asked me why did I write that book, or any book. All the stories I wrote were true because I believed in what I saw. I was traveling west one time, at the junction of the state line of Colorado, its arid western one...

There's a lot of stuff on St. Jack floating around out there in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of "On the Road" and the recent release of the original scroll. So much so that it's downright Kerowacky!

You can get deluged, but of all the items currently on display, do NOT miss this clip of the writer on "The Steve Allen Show" reading from "Visions of Cody" and "On the Road" to Allen's cocktail lounge blues piano.

That's Jack reading poetry at some Beat event or other a long time ago.