Wednesday, May 31, 2006


My new neighbor, this bird with the amazing singing voice, is going loud and strong tonight. Yay! Er, not when I'm asleep at my desk tomorrow.

Go Sabres!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just to post

I started feeling earlier today like the Buffalo sports fan that I am. I was getting disheartened, lacking faith, etc. But then I read Jerry Sullivan's column in today's Buffalo News and everything changed. I remembered again why I love this Sabres team as much as I've loved any sports team, perhaps more than any other team. And they once again came through and justified and renewed and redeemed that faith.

Go Sabres!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Anything before October 2005 is a pre-dated post of something I'd written in a mass e-mail to people about an experience in Southern California, but was not originally filed as a blog entry. In other words, I have NOT been blogging since November 2002. But since this blog is chronicling my life since moving to California and I want to make sure that I exist somewhere besides nodewhere, I figured some "greatest hits" wouldn't be a bad thing. As it is, I've appear to have lost two would-be entries ... the best career day ever and my first ride on X.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The worst rock and roll fans (all rolled into one person)

Living in Los Angeles presents near countless opportunities to attend amazing concerts. Since moving here in August 2002, I've seen close to 30 shows (guesstimate off the top of my head) including most of the best shows I've ever seen--Rilo Kiley, Coldplay (3X), Arcade Fire, Brandi Carlile, Neko Case/New Pornographers, Rachael Yamagata, Tift Merritt, The Shins, Damien Rice and Radiohead among others.

Going to so many shows I've also learned a lot about concert etiquette and stuff: cellphones are the new lighters, the Troubadour does NOT have a two-way mirror but does have nearby free parking, standing near the door of the Troubadour means you might get a concert poster and standing near the soundboard at the El Rey means a place with just OK acoustics will sound pretty damned good. But perhaps the main lesson I've learned is that the crowd at shows likely sponsored by KCRW (local public radio that specializes in tasteful alternative) is pretty tame (not much clapping, dancing or singing).

This past Tuesday I saw Regina Spektor at the aforementioned El Rey, and we stood near the soundboard in back. Before I get to the rest of the story, let me just encourage all four of you to buy some Regina Spektor, the new album—Begin to Hope—comes out June 13. Great show. Loved her new songs and her old ones. She's a piano-playing Russian emigre creating music unlike everyone else out there. I'd seen her once before at the Roxy and while she was amazing, that was one her first appearance in Los Angeles and she seemed a wee bit overwhelmed almost that the audience was crazy for her and could sing along to her songs. This time, she fed off that energy and used it to fuel her show.

Anyway, back to the blog entry.

In my experience going to shows I've learned that there are a number of fans to avoid:

1. I love this band soooo much so I'm gonna sing along, even though I can't carry a tune or even define what a tune is.

2. This band's music has a great beat and you can dance to it, even though I couldn't find the beat with Sherlock Holmes and the Hubble Telescope.

3. I love this band soooo much that I have got to tell you how much I love them even while they're performing (quiet songs, too!)

4. I love this band soooo much and the only thing better than my love for the band is my love for the too-rare occurence of meeting another fan just like me, who also loves the band as much as me.

On Tuesday at the Regina Spektor show, I ran into these fans and they were all wrapped up into two people. WOW! Actually, my language skills are failing me now. I need the absolute inverse of WOW! Or maybe I need the bizarro kryptonite version of WOW! Because that's how it felt.

As a not-tall guy (5-foot-4), concerts often challenge me. Since I don't like teeming up stream to squeeze into the front row, I usually try to find locations in the back with good sight lines. Plus, I'm old and up front you find more of fans 1 and 2. At the Spektor show Dave, Eric and I were in the back behind the sound board and in front of the bar.

Well, once she takes the stage I've got a pretty good sightline and can see her as she sits at the piano. Occassionally, the people in front of me shift their weight thus obscuring my view a little bit, but it's not that bad. With just a couple baby steps or neck tilts, I can see Ms. Spektor and her curly black hair again. As the show wears on though, things start getting difficult. A couple people have wedged their way into the throng and now the sightlines are starting to disappear no matter where I stand.

Then it gets better, one particular woman (who is sorta shall we say unskinny) and her friend (who are in front of us to the left) have started to accumulate the beer. Incidentally, so has a rather flaming guy in front of us, who is to our right with his group of friends.

Each of these wonderful characters are clearly demonstrating that they're bad rock fans No. 2, which is a pain the ass, esp. given the lack of sightlines. Soon Spektor starts playing a song that has a singalongable chorus and my two fave superfans start belting to the backrow of a theater in NYC. Double yikes! They're each a bad-fan 1&2.

As the show continues, which ended up being a good 80 minutes, the singing and dancing continue, and the dancing gets more and more ostentatious. Then they exhibit their Horrible Rock Concert Fans No. 3 sides. Unskinny girl starts really talking to her friend, who is also unskinny. Then flaming guy starts talking more and more to his friends, who are even starting to shun him a wee bit, like ignoring some of his comments hoping that he'll shut the fuck up.

But no dice, he's loaded so his tongue needs an outlet ... lo and behold as his dancing moved him to his left and her dancing moved her to right unskinny girl and flaming guy meet up. Their first words are, ironcially enough, apologies to each other for being sorta loud and taking up too much space. But since they somehow manage to fall in love at first sight with each other as fans they hug it out and then managed to become 100 percent oblivious to the fact that they're at a concert with other FANS of Regina Spektor. So now they're in full out HORRIBLE FUCKING CONCERT FANS Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4!! I mean, for fuck's sake, right?

After a few minutes of their at-this-point-nearly-histrionics they are getting shushed by pretty much everyone around them, save their friends who are just tipsy or immune enough or conditioned to stand an extra half-step away, but not say anything.

Thankfully, the show was over in about three more songs and still amazing. Yet even more testament to Regina Spektor. So go buy her album and pray to whatever you believe in that these two don't end up at the same show as you.

Apologies that this entry really died at the end. But it's late, I'm tired and my allergies have been taking a bite out of me most of the night.


p.s. saw Morgan from Whisptertown 2000 along with Michael Runion at this show.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I love computerized fruit, but perhaps i harvested before ripening?

damn you, Steve Jobs. I could have had a black computer, of course then this blog would have been in gestation for the last seven months.


Follow-up to the wost administration ever or George W. Bush is killing my country

So Verizon and BellSouth are claiming that they never gave any customers phone records to the NSA. Well, as noted in several news outlets today, Verizon was in the middle of non-denial denial. Verizon is almost entirely local calling (not long distance) and those records are not what the NSA was really after. They wanted long-distance calls, which was the purview of MCI, which Verizon acquired in the recent past.

Voila instant Constitutional violation.

Btw, i love how fucking asshole conservatives play liberal concern for civil liberties as something that only naive idealists would ever care about, b/c the world we live in is dangerous. It's really fucking sad that one one who leads this country is an idealist anymore.

FUCK THEM ALL TO SOMEPLACE HORRIBLE (I don't believe in hell).

Since I've got the insomnia ...

I was comparing and contrasting friends' blogs today and noticed that my little blurb underneath my blog title is ridiculously long compared to theirs. I am too megafuckingwordy. Final Fantasy Seven!?!??!??!

Pic of the day:

Monday, May 15, 2006

George W. Bush's administration is the worst EVER

It seems that after winning the Cold War we have become what we beheld.

Last week USAToday blew the roof off of the Bush administration. Following in the steps of the WashPost's scoop on secret prisons the CIA had terrorist suspects flown to and tortured, and then the NYTimes scoop on warrantless wiretapping of phone calls in the United States, USAToday revealed that the U.S. government has been actually paying the phone companies for call logs of like every call in the country. No "content" just which was numbers were called and for how long.

So who says that USA Today, with it's extreme templating and short stories has led many old school gutenberg types to portray it as style over substance, deserves to be called by the unfortunate moniker ... McPaper.

So here are a couple articles ... first, the USAToday article. I hate copying, but people need to read this and so to the four of you who ever read this blog it's here. After that is a column from Frank Rich of the NYTimes, which also should be read, because he's saying basically I'd say if I was a 100x better writer and had his eds at the NYTimes.

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
Updated 5/11/2006 10:38 AM ET
By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.

The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the NSA program is secret.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, nominated Monday by President Bush to become the director of the CIA, headed the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005. In that post, Hayden would have overseen the agency's domestic call-tracking program. Hayden declined to comment about the program.

The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.

In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, declined to discuss the agency's operations. "Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operational issues; therefore, we have no information to provide," he said. "However, it is important to note that NSA takes its legal responsibilities seriously and operates within the law."

The White House would not discuss the domestic call-tracking program. "There is no domestic surveillance without court approval," said Dana Perino, deputy press secretary, referring to actual eavesdropping.

She added that all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government "are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists." All government-sponsored intelligence activities "are carefully reviewed and monitored," Perino said. She also noted that "all appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on the intelligence efforts of the United States."

The government is collecting "external" data on domestic phone calls but is not intercepting "internals," a term for the actual content of the communication, according to a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the program. This kind of data collection from phone companies is not uncommon; it's been done before, though never on this large a scale, the official said. The data are used for "social network analysis," the official said, meaning to study how terrorist networks contact each other and how they are tied together.

Carriers uniquely positioned

AT&T recently merged with SBC and kept the AT&T name. Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T are the nation's three biggest telecommunications companies; they provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers.

The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans.

Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services — primarily long-distance and wireless — to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.

Created by President Truman in 1952, during the Korean War, the NSA is charged with protecting the United States from foreign security threats. The agency was considered so secret that for years the government refused to even confirm its existence. Government insiders used to joke that NSA stood for "No Such Agency."

In 1975, a congressional investigation revealed that the NSA had been intercepting, without warrants, international communications for more than 20 years at the behest of the CIA and other agencies. The spy campaign, code-named "Shamrock," led to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was designed to protect Americans from illegal eavesdropping.

Enacted in 1978, FISA lays out procedures that the U.S. government must follow to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches of people believed to be engaged in espionage or international terrorism against the United States. A special court, which has 11 members, is responsible for adjudicating requests under FISA.

Over the years, NSA code-cracking techniques have continued to improve along with technology. The agency today is considered expert in the practice of "data mining" — sifting through reams of information in search of patterns. Data mining is just one of many tools NSA analysts and mathematicians use to crack codes and track international communications.

Paul Butler, a former U.S. prosecutor who specialized in terrorism crimes, said FISA approval generally isn't necessary for government data-mining operations. "FISA does not prohibit the government from doing data mining," said Butler, now a partner with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.

The caveat, he said, is that "personal identifiers" — such as names, Social Security numbers and street addresses — can't be included as part of the search. "That requires an additional level of probable cause," he said.

The usefulness of the NSA's domestic phone-call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear. Also unclear is whether the database has been used for other purposes.

The NSA's domestic program raises legal questions. Historically, AT&T and the regional phone companies have required law enforcement agencies to present a court order before they would even consider turning over a customer's calling data. Part of that owed to the personality of the old Bell Telephone System, out of which those companies grew.

Ma Bell's bedrock principle — protection of the customer — guided the company for decades, said Gene Kimmelman, senior public policy director of Consumers Union. "No court order, no customer information — period. That's how it was for decades," he said.

The concern for the customer was also based on law: Under Section 222 of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers' calling habits: whom a person calls, how often and what routes those calls take to reach their final destination. Inbound calls, as well as wireless calls, also are covered.

The financial penalties for violating Section 222, one of many privacy reinforcements that have been added to the law over the years, can be stiff. The Federal Communications Commission, the nation's top telecommunications regulatory agency, can levy fines of up to $130,000 per day per violation, with a cap of $1.325 million per violation. The FCC has no hard definition of "violation." In practice, that means a single "violation" could cover one customer or 1 million.

In the case of the NSA's international call-tracking program, Bush signed an executive order allowing the NSA to engage in eavesdropping without a warrant. The president and his representatives have since argued that an executive order was sufficient for the agency to proceed. Some civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, disagree.

Companies approached

The NSA's domestic program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the sources. Right around that time, they said, NSA representatives approached the nation's biggest telecommunications companies. The agency made an urgent pitch: National security is at risk, and we need your help to protect the country from attacks.

The agency told the companies that it wanted them to turn over their "call-detail records," a complete listing of the calling histories of their millions of customers. In addition, the NSA wanted the carriers to provide updates, which would enable the agency to keep tabs on the nation's calling habits.

The sources said the NSA made clear that it was willing to pay for the cooperation. AT&T, which at the time was headed by C. Michael Armstrong, agreed to help the NSA. So did BellSouth, headed by F. Duane Ackerman; SBC, headed by Ed Whitacre; and Verizon, headed by Ivan Seidenberg.

With that, the NSA's domestic program began in earnest.

AT&T, when asked about the program, replied with a comment prepared for USA TODAY: "We do not comment on matters of national security, except to say that we only assist law enforcement and government agencies charged with protecting national security in strict accordance with the law."

In another prepared comment, BellSouth said: "BellSouth does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any governmental agency without proper legal authority."

Verizon, the USA's No. 2 telecommunications company behind AT&T, gave this statement: "We do not comment on national security matters, we act in full compliance with the law and we are committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy."

Qwest spokesman Robert Charlton said: "We can't talk about this. It's a classified situation."

In December, The New York Times revealed that Bush had authorized the NSA to wiretap, without warrants, international phone calls and e-mails that travel to or from the USA. The following month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T. The lawsuit accuses the company of helping the NSA spy on U.S. phone customers.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales alluded to that possibility. Appearing at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Gonzales was asked whether he thought the White House has the legal authority to monitor domestic traffic without a warrant. Gonzales' reply: "I wouldn't rule it out." His comment marked the first time a Bush appointee publicly asserted that the White House might have that authority.

Similarities in programs

The domestic and international call-tracking programs have things in common, according to the sources. Both are being conducted without warrants and without the approval of the FISA court. The Bush administration has argued that FISA's procedures are too slow in some cases. Officials, including Gonzales, also make the case that the USA Patriot Act gives them broad authority to protect the safety of the nation's citizens.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would not confirm the existence of the program. In a statement, he said, "I can say generally, however, that our subcommittee has been fully briefed on all aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. ... I remain convinced that the program authorized by the president is lawful and absolutely necessary to protect this nation from future attacks."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., declined to comment.

One company differs

One major telecommunications company declined to participate in the program: Qwest.

According to sources familiar with the events, Qwest's CEO at the time, Joe Nacchio, was deeply troubled by the NSA's assertion that Qwest didn't need a court order — or approval under FISA — to proceed. Adding to the tension, Qwest was unclear about who, exactly, would have access to its customers' information and how that information might be used.

Financial implications were also a concern, the sources said. Carriers that illegally divulge calling information can be subjected to heavy fines. The NSA was asking Qwest to turn over millions of records. The fines, in the aggregate, could have been substantial.

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as "product" in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.

The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard.

Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.

In June 2002, Nacchio resigned amid allegations that he had misled investors about Qwest's financial health. But Qwest's legal questions about the NSA request remained.

Unable to reach agreement, Nacchio's successor, Richard Notebaert, finally pulled the plug on the NSA talks in late 2004, the sources said.

Contributing: John Diamond

May 14, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Will the Real Traitors Please Stand Up?

WHEN America panics, it goes hunting for scapegoats. But from Salem onward, we've more often than not ended up pillorying the innocent. Abe Rosenthal, the legendary Times editor who died last week, and his publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, were denounced as treasonous in 1971 when they defied the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers, the secret government history of the Vietnam War. Today we know who the real traitors were: the officials who squandered American blood and treasure on an ill-considered war and then tried to cover up their lies and mistakes. It was precisely those lies and mistakes, of course, that were laid bare by the thousands of pages of classified Pentagon documents leaked to both The Times and The Washington Post.

This history is predictably repeating itself now that the public has turned on the war in Iraq. The administration's die-hard defenders are desperate to deflect blame for the fiasco, and, guess what, the traitors once again are The Times and The Post. This time the newspapers committed the crime of exposing warrantless spying on Americans by the National Security Agency (The Times) and the C.I.A.'s secret "black site" Eastern European prisons (The Post). Aping the Nixon template, the current White House tried to stop both papers from publishing and when that failed impugned their patriotism.

President Bush, himself a sometime leaker of intelligence, called the leaking of the N.S.A. surveillance program a "shameful act" that is "helping the enemy." Porter Goss, who was then still C.I.A. director, piled on in February with a Times Op-Ed piece denouncing leakers for potentially risking American lives and compromising national security. When reporters at both papers were awarded Pulitzer Prizes last month, administration surrogates, led by bloviator in chief William Bennett, called for them to be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act.

We can see this charade for what it is: a Hail Mary pass by the leaders who bungled a war and want to change the subject to the journalists who caught them in the act. What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude. It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press's exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security. That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin.

Well before Dana Priest of The Post uncovered the secret prisons last November, the C.I.A. had failed to keep its detention "secrets" secret. Having obtained flight logs, The Sunday Times of London first reported in November 2004 that the United States was flying detainees "to countries that routinely use torture." Six months later, The New York Times added many details, noting that "plane-spotting hobbyists, activists and journalists in a dozen countries have tracked the mysterious planes' movements." These articles, capped by Ms. Priest's, do not impede our ability to detain terrorists. But they do show how the administration, by condoning torture, has surrendered the moral high ground to anti-American jihadists and botched the war of ideas that we can't afford to lose.

The N.S.A. eavesdropping exposed in December by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The Times is another American debacle. Hoping to suggest otherwise and cast the paper as treasonous, Dick Cheney immediately claimed that the program had saved "thousands of lives." The White House's journalistic mouthpiece, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, wrote that the Times exposé "may have ruined one of our most effective anti-Al Qaeda surveillance programs."

Surely they jest. If this is one of our "most effective" programs, we're in worse trouble than we thought. Our enemy is smart enough to figure out on its own that its phone calls are monitored 24/7, since even under existing law the government can eavesdrop for 72 hours before seeking a warrant (which is almost always granted). As The Times subsequently reported, the N.S.A. program was worse than ineffective; it was counterproductive. Its gusher of data wasted F.B.I. time and manpower on wild-goose chases and minor leads while uncovering no new active Qaeda plots in the United States. Like the N.S.A. database on 200 million American phone customers that was described last week by USA Today, this program may have more to do with monitoring "traitors" like reporters and leakers than with tracking terrorists.

Journalists and whistle-blowers who relay such government blunders are easily defended against the charge of treason. It's often those who make the accusations we should be most worried about. Mr. Goss, a particularly vivid example, should not escape into retirement unexamined. He was so inept that an overzealous witch hunter might mistake him for a Qaeda double agent.

Even before he went to the C.I.A., he was a drag on national security. In "Breakdown," a book about intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks, the conservative journalist Bill Gertz delineates how Mr. Goss, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, played a major role in abdicating Congressional oversight of the C.I.A., trying to cover up its poor performance while terrorists plotted with impunity. After 9/11, his committee's "investigation" of what went wrong was notoriously toothless.

Once he ascended to the C.I.A. in 2004, Mr. Goss behaved like most other Bush appointees: he put politics ahead of the national interest, and stashed cronies and partisan hacks in crucial positions. On Friday, the F.B.I. searched the home and office of one of them, Dusty Foggo, the No. 3 agency official in the Goss regime. Mr. Foggo is being investigated by four federal agencies pursuing the bribery scandal that has already landed former Congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham in jail. Though Washington is titillated by gossip about prostitutes and Watergate "poker parties" swirling around this Warren Harding-like tale, at least the grafters of Teapot Dome didn't play games with the nation's defense during wartime.

Besides driving out career employees, underperforming on Iran intelligence and scaling back a daily cross-agency meeting on terrorism, Mr. Goss's only other apparent accomplishment at the C.I.A. was his war on those traitorous leakers. Intriguingly, this was a new cause for him. "There's a leak every day in the paper," he told The Sarasota Herald-Tribune when the identity of the officer Valerie Wilson was exposed in 2003. He argued then that there was no point in tracking leaks down because "that's all we'd do."

What prompted Mr. Goss's about-face was revealed in his early memo instructing C.I.A. employees to "support the administration and its policies in our work." His mission was not to protect our country but to prevent the airing of administration dirty laundry, including leaks detailing how the White House ignored accurate C.I.A. intelligence on Iraq before the war. On his watch, C.I.A. lawyers also tried to halt publication of "Jawbreaker," the former clandestine officer Gary Berntsen's account of how the American command let Osama bin Laden escape when Mr. Berntsen's team had him trapped in Tora Bora in December 2001. The one officer fired for alleged leaking during the Goss purge had no access to classified intelligence about secret prisons but was presumably a witness to her boss's management disasters.

Soon to come are the Senate's hearings on Mr. Goss's successor, Gen. Michael Hayden, the former head of the N.S.A. As Jon Stewart reminded us last week, Mr. Bush endorsed his new C.I.A. choice with the same encomium he had bestowed on Mr. Goss: He's "the right man" to lead the C.I.A. "at this critical moment in our nation's history." That's not exactly reassuring.

This being an election year, Karl Rove hopes the hearings can portray Bush opponents as soft on terrorism when they question any national security move. It was this bullying that led so many Democrats to rubber-stamp the Iraq war resolution in the 2002 election season and Mr. Goss's appointment in the autumn of 2004.

Will they fall into the same trap in 2006? Will they be so busy soliloquizing about civil liberties that they'll fail to investigate the nominee's record? It was under General Hayden, a self-styled electronic surveillance whiz, that the N.S.A. intercepted actual Qaeda messages on Sept. 10, 2001 — "Tomorrow is zero hour" for one — and failed to translate them until Sept. 12. That same fateful summer, General Hayden's N.S.A. also failed to recognize that "some of the terrorists had set up shop literally under its nose," as the national-security authority James Bamford wrote in The Washington Post in 2002. The Qaeda cell that hijacked American Flight 77 and plowed into the Pentagon was based in the same town, Laurel, Md., as the N.S.A., and "for months, the terrorists and the N.S.A. employees exercised in some of the same local health clubs and shopped in the same grocery stores."

If Democrats — and, for that matter, Republicans — let a president with a Nixonesque approval rating install yet another second-rate sycophant at yet another security agency, even one as diminished as the C.I.A., someone should charge those senators with treason, too.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

This is another test


Sports don't suck

Sabres beat the Sens in 5. Up next is Carolina ...

I predict Sabres in 6, but a tight six, and possibly 7. This series will match up the conference's best home team (Canes) against the league's third best road team (at least, i think league-wide the sabres were third best, could be conferential though).

Need Rory Fitzpatrick to step up and also probably Thomas Vanek.

More soon.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Internet is for more than porn ...

... it's the best cure for jealousy.

This is THE RILO KILEY SHOW that i wish I could have gone to since moving out here. But alas, this was a secret myspace show that only "friends" of the band learned of. I am not a cool kid, though I work with some, and thus not on myspace and ergo never learned of this show until far too late. So I missed this performance of The Frug!!!

But watching this and I almost feel like I got to go. It's weird the top blog had 100 click throughs to this. I'll probably have one ... my own at some later date.

Sabres are up 3-0!!! Fuck you Ottawa.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Apple rules

You can create pdfs of anything that you want just by saving as a pdf when you open the "print" dialogue box. take that Bill Gates!

Go Sabres!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Go Sabres!

Sabres stole both games in Ottawa! And we lost one of our best players for most of the second game and the Sens goalie looks awful. If the Sabres can get their offense moving consistently and tighten the D, this will be a short series.!!

Go Sabres!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Why I love KCRW

Elf Power

Check them out! Nic Harcourt played them on Morning Becomes Eclectic Friday morning, they're great! At least the song he played was ... An Old Familiar Scene. I'm not gonna pimp them as much as I pimp Rilo Kiley, but that song was intoxicating.

Without newspapers look what we would lose ...

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez has spent his last year (and change) focusing on homelessness, specifically telling the story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former cello student at the prestigious Julliard in New York City, who as a result of the ravages of schizophrenia and a social services system that has found it more convenient to ignore him (and thousands like him in the United States) has been homeless in downtown Los Angeles for years. With the help of Lopez and dozens of others throughout Los Angeles (homeless services providers, family and friends and also caring readers), Nathaniel has moved into an apartment (at least part of the time) and is using the resources available to homeless people on Skid Row. Nathaniel's story has it seems prompted the Times and Lopez to turn a glaring spotlight on Skid Row, perhaps one of the great shames of our increasingly divided America. In the shadow of great wealth, the nation's largest concentration of homeless (and unfortunately associated criminal activity, public health problems and ignored tragedies) festers in the middle of our revitalizing downtown.

Today Steve Lopez brought the story of Lee Sevilla to the attention of hopefully millions of people. Sevilla is a 71-year-old woman with a part-time receptionist job who lives in her Dodge Neon, maintains her hygiene at a Chevron station and has a daughter who wants to help her. But Sevilla doesn't want to be a drain or imposition on anyone and like all of us seems to want to maintain the dignity of her independence and self-sufficiency. I cannot recommend strongly enough reading this.

No one else, sadly, is really writing these stories or covering them, which is another national shame in this country--this time on the newspapers and other media. But thanks to people like Steve Lopez, things are improving in Los Angeles for the homeless. Now if the other cities in the county can find the courage to do what's right (helping people) rather that simply what is easy (pandering to neighborhood "leaders" who spread unscientific half-truths about the not-real negative effects of locating a homeless services agency in their communities). And thanks to people like Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, one of the rebel groups in Darfur signed an agreement to end the violence. Unfortunately for the world, the New York Times makes his columns available only to paying members of its Web site.

So to remedy that today I present ...

May 7, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Heroes of Darfur

For three grueling years, Eric Reeves has been fighting for his life, struggling in a battle with leukemia that he may eventually lose. And in his spare time, sometimes from his hospital bed, he has emerged as an improbable leader of a citizens' army fighting to save hundreds of thousands of other lives in Darfur.

Pressure from that citizen army helped achieve a breakthrough on Friday: a tentative peace deal between the Sudanese government and the biggest Darfur rebel faction, brokered in part by U.S. officials. We should be skeptical that this agreement will really end the bloodshed — past cease-fires and promises have not been honored — but also rejoice in a glimpse of sun over the most wretched place in the world today.

If the violence does diminish — and that will take hard work in the months and years ahead — part of the credit will go to Mr. Reeves, a scholar of English literature at Smith College who has used an arsenal of e-mail messages, phone calls and Web pages to battle the Sudanese government and American indifference. He was the first person I know to describe the horrors of Darfur as genocide, and he financed his quixotic campaign by taking out a loan on his house.

Perhaps the most striking distinction in the history of genocide is not between those who murder and those who don't, but between "bystanders" who avert their eyes and "upstanders" who speak out. Professor Reeves has been a full-time upstander on Sudan since 1999, back when the people being slaughtered there were Christians in the south of the country. He noticed immediately in 2003 that Sudan had diversified into butchering Muslims in Darfur, and his frantic blowing of the whistle helped alert me and others. Visit his Web site,, but be careful — his fury may set your computer smoking.

I don't agree with every bit of Mr. Reeves's analysis, and sometimes I flinch at his stridency. But there's no better excuse for stridency than genocide.

While Darfur has been incredibly depressing, the grass-roots movement in this country to stop the genocide is immensely inspiring. (To join, go to Web sites like or The activist kids just bowl me over: girls like Rachel Koretsky, a 13-year-old who organized a rally in Philadelphia, distributed circulars and conducted a raffle to raise money for Darfur as her bat mitzvah charity project. So far, Rachel has raised $14,000 for Darfur.

Or kids like Tacey Smith, a 12-year-old in the farm town of Gaston, Ore. After seeing the movie "Hotel Rwanda," she formed a Sudan Club with a few friends and has raised $400 for Darfur by selling eggs, washing cars and asking for donations instead of birthday presents. Her best friend's Christmas present to her was raising $50 for Darfur. Now Tacey is organizing a Darfur fair next month.

President Bush has been more active lately on Darfur, and without the administration's relentless pushing the peace deal on Friday would have been impossible. But by and large, there has been a vacuum of leadership on Darfur over the last few years, and ordinary Americans — particularly young people — have tried to fill it. I don't know whether to be sad or inspired that we can turn for moral guidance to 12-year-olds.

Then there are the entertainers. Frankly, I think it's bizarre that we turn to movie stars for guidance on international relations. But in this case, I bow low to George Clooney, who had the guts to travel to the Darfur area last month, and to Angelina Jolie, who has visited the Darfur area twice and is pushing for action on Darfur more forcefully than almost anyone in Washington.

It gets weirder: "CBS Evening News" decided that genocide wasn't newsworthy, devoting only two minutes to coverage of Darfur in all of 2005 — but there's excellent coverage on MTV's university network and in episodes of the TV show "E.R." set in Darfur. And one of the best presentations of life in Darfur is in an extraordinary video game developed with help from MTV and available free at In the game, you're a Darfuri, trying to survive as Sudan's janjaweed militias hunt you down.

So that's how the response is unfolding to the first genocide of the 21st century: a video game is one of the best guides to understanding the slaughter, and our moral vacuum is filled by teenyboppers and movie stars.

Someday we will look back at this motley army of children and celebrities, presided over by a man struggling with leukemia, and thank them for salvaging our national honor.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Anything to capture the most elusive of targets ...

Oh, Karma chameleon wherefore art thou?

I'm hoping this offering will summon ...

Sabres in 7!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cameron Crowe is a genius

Forget Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown. Even JJ and Damon know that Say Anything Lloyd Dobler is the man women want us to be, right, maybe, Bueller, Bueller, anyone?

I'm gonna shut up now.

Go Sabres!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigration: regret regression?

As an avowed liberal living in a time when moral conservatives control the federal government, we are fighting a war based on government lies, the Vice-President blatantly disregards the science of Global Warming to help his oil baron friends and also refuses to acknowledge which of these friends helped him craft energy policy that strips away the protections of the past four decades, and the party of "small government" hypocritically tells the poor that it's not the government's job to help them by regulating the pharmaceutical industry or utilities while telling gays and lesbians they cannot marry, women they cannot have abortions and teens that condoms don't exist, I sometimes find myself thinking about the populist revolutionary spirit of the 60s. At least the 60s as portrayed in my Gen X/Y culture that is heavy on idealism and passion, if lacking in the tedium of the logistics of organization and patience. Nevertheless, despite knowing that many of the minute details have been glossed over, seeing images of the National Mall awash in a sea of people committed to justice and peace and idealism, is enough to make me envious and even a little punch drunk with a nostalgia for that which I've never been a part of.

I often get frustrated by the lack of anger among people in general and also who I know personally. They are very smart but for whatever reasons don't follow the news or among those that do, are able somehow not getting pissed off at the world. How can we sit idly by while thousands are dying in Darfur, civil liberties are obliterated in Russia and China and the government wastes tens of millions of dollars in Iraq (a recent article illlustrated how we paid for like 215 health clinics but just like 25 have been built or something ridiculous like that).

There are three issues lately that have most provoked me: intelligent design, AIDS in the Third World and the genocide (as deemed by Colin Powell, too) in Sudan. My interest in the genocide in the Sudan comes from Nicholas Kristof's columns in the NY Times. He has lived up to the highest ideals of Journalism, being a voice for the voiceless, shedding light on the truth at risk to himself, and calling on those in power to discover even a slice of the courage his subjects have displayed. When he wrote about two months ago about the demonstrations planned for this past Sunday in Washington, D.C., my idealism was stirred. I felt like I had my chance to make a footprint on my time, and on the path to doing something right, even though it wasn't easy. However, the realities of funding the trip, getting the time off of work, etc. made attending this rally impossible. As I realized that the spark extinguished itself, having consumed the fuel that fired it, which finally brings us to the point today. [Without an editor, I'm really good at burying the lead, eh?]

Today was the giant "Day without an immigrant" rally in Los Angeles, which was actually part of a network of demonstrations nationwide. A friend of mine, who teaches in a local school district composed of thousands of immigrants and greatly affected by the immigration debate, was among the 500,000 who attended the demonstration in downtown Los Angeles in late March, and has said it was an ineffably empowering experience. Many of my students have expressed extremely passionate viewpoints on this issue, since their family members are living through this, and were there that Saturday and I'm sure participated today. Yet, I did not. I skipped a a chance to witness history and fuck that, to participate in history. This is a history-textbook moment that I bypassed. This was my chance to say I did stand up when one of the issues of my generation called. But I stayed on the sidelines. And oddly, I don't regret not going. I think the thing that I wish were different is that I wish I felt worse about not going, instead of just feeling bad about not feeling bad enough.

I'm not exactly sure why I didn't go, to be honest. For one reason, this is not one of the issues that has stirred me. I'm not saying that I don't care about immigration; many of my students and people I've met in Los Angeles are affected by this and I would never wish anything bad on any of them.

And I myself am an immigrant, though classified differently perhaps as an adopted Korean, who came to this country as a baby. But living in Los Angeles I've grown more aware that I am not the white part of the American tapestry and I'm happy not being so, even though I know that means certain opportunities aren't exactly the same for me as if I were white. Watching television and seeing who's in the cast and who's the hero in the movies and television, shows me that Asians and other minorities are still on the outside looking in.

But immigration is very tricky. I want immigrants to have rights. and I want people who work hard and simply want to do better by their children in my country as citizens and I want them to be protected from human predators. But I do want secure borders that prevent terrorists from getting into the country. And I don't think it's fair if people who came here illegally are somehow rewarded by getting to the front of the line while people who have gone through the formal application process are forced to wait even longer to get here.

While I think it's great that someone like Steve Lopez and other columnists write amazing columns about people who are here illegally in many cases working extremely hard to make a better life for themselves and their families, sometimes the story is glossed over. It's analgous to when reporters write Horatio Alger stories about students from poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods going off to Harvard on scholarships. These are awesome stories and they deserve to be told. But I get worried that the general public will think all kids can do that.

In this case, I might say something Lou Dobbsish (which fucking terrifies me), but not all immigrants (legal or otherwise) are here trying to make their own Horatio Alger story. They may say that they're here to make better lives (which they most likely are) and they may be working hard at it, but they aren't all doing the working three jobs with perfect kids who get straight A's thing. I say that simply from the reality that no one group is all good or saintly. And I think that when people paint with these broadbrushes we're actually moving away from coming up with any logical solution to these problems. Bringing in more people (of any race) be it legally or illegally would lead to a need for more services: medical, fire, police, educational, infrastructural, social. And that costs money.

But despite my quasi-Dobbsian idea there, I'd still much rather have news orgs skew in that direction of illuminating these saints in the shadowns than to include the immigration status of every person charged with a crime in the newspaper. My guess is that the reason I expressed that Dobbsian idea, is that I don't assume people here illegally are up to no good, joining gangs or dealing drugs. So what I think some people need to see to complete the picture is a wart. But with so many other people who are anti-immigrant, it's important to give a voice to the silent saints in the shadows. Hopefully that will help change some minds, because they've been ignoring the best part of the picture.

In the end though, I had a chance to get a better look at that picture and I didn't. Instead, I emailed, read newspapers online, watched some television, cleaned, did laundry, planned my retirement a tiny bit and chilled a tiny bit, too. The daily minutiae just required too much of me, or at least I felt like it did. In respect of the demonstrations Monday, though, I didn't transact anything. No groceries, no nothing, all becuase of Sylvana. Thanks, kid!

So this entry has been really sprawling and perhaps contradictory. And I think mainly it was me thinking on paper.

Good night.

Go Sabres!

It's only sports, but ...

Knowing that the Flyers fell 3-0 to the Buffalo Sabres yesterday in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a great feeling. Yay!