Tuesday, July 29, 2008

anatomy of a painting [2]

So this is the new stage for the painting shown last week or so. This is a probing period, and like I said, I ditched the photocopy you saw in the last image. I like to attack the canvas(linen) at this point in the process with as much paint as I can reasonably manage. This is always, a wet into wet situation, rough, fast handling with highly charged colors. If I'm doing it right, I'm combining as many colors as I can at once. Of course there is a pre-set of colors, that are quite considered for mood, tempo and scale. I trowel these on and work the surface for a few hours - playing the drying times of each color - manipulating the high oil density colors against the more absorbent colors.
The results, if I'm on my game are that within the drying process I get rewarded with some encaustic type areas along with passages that feel geologic, and reflective. What I'm looking for here is a topography that will lead to other decisions. Lately, I am also concerned with the smoothness of the surface, and this seems to be pushing me towards and almost c-print quality.

Also, I want to have a certain freedom with the materials that can at times overwhelm me physically. If my arms and hands are not fatigued and aching after this stage, then I haven't fulfilled my obligation to get as much of my physical presence into the piece as I should. For me this is critical at this point in the process because I need to feel a commitment to and from the surface before proceeding into more complicated waters.

This "second stage" may repeat itself a few times until the skin of the canvas feels right, this skin being critical to how the paint glides in future passes. The glide has everything to do with how the colors combine and mutate seamlessly.
Another critical aspect besides an internal commitment, is somehow getting a light to present itself. Light is very important to me and I need to have a source developing immediately upon covering the ground layer. This isn't necessarily directional light but should be evident throughout the surface in this foundational stage.

So I think I'm pretty sure about where this is going next, and I have a maquette or two in the wings. I should have a new update in a week or so on this one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

birth of the CUIL

So the new search engine CUIL just launched - crashed- and reloaded.

From the NY Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — In her two years at Google, Anna Patterson helped design and build some of the pillars of the company’s search engine, including its large index of Web pages and some of the formulas it uses for ranking search results.

Ms. Patterson left Google in 2006 to found Cuil. The new company has other prominent ex-Google employees, including Russell Power, who worked with Ms. Patterson on the large Google index, and Louis Monier, a former chief technology officer at AltaVista, a pioneering search engine. Cuil, which has about 30 employees and is in Menlo Park, Calif., has raised $33 million from venture investors.
I checked it out (searched myself of course) and there seem to be the obvious bugs and such but I do like the design. This could be promising and that is good news to all of us embedded into Google.

Friday, July 25, 2008

hot summer looks

Looks like Goth may finally be getting a much needed image update after 30 years!

Check out all the jokers at Comic Con..

image: wired

Thursday, July 24, 2008

making us proud

I sincerely hope that you had a chance to watch and listen to the Obama speech in Berlin today.
It was incredible. I mean a hundred thousand people or more. An endless sea of people, a rapt audience. Even Obama faltered on his words a couple of times. Who wouldn't with that many eyes upon you? It was impressive and presidential and uplifting and clear. I actually got choked up. This is what leadership looks and sounds like. This is what free people should aspire to. As Americans we should be very proud of the fact that man speaks on our behalf - and relieved. Truly awesome.

Of course, CNN promptly plants the seed that this success and welcome by so many in Germany may be a bad thing. The bullshit never ends with the media.

believe it...?

FORMER NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr Edgar Mitchell - a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission - has stunningly claimed aliens exist.

our world unravels a little more, not to mention this little ditty about Flight 93 being shot down via the war crimes trial of Bin Laden's driver...

image: the famous
Lubbock Lights

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

debts to pay

The future for young Americans (18-35 set) does often look and feel bleak in economic terms. We talk alot about the financial struggles of being an artist but it really is a much wider net. Financial insecurity for young people is the core of American economics. It is a perversion of the highest order for the world's wealthiest nation. Take a look at some statistics below and realize who you must vote for in November and the importance of getting involved anyway you can locally and at the State level.
via TomPaine.com:

A poll done for Qvisory, an online advocacy organization aimed at helping young adults manage economic and lifestyle issues, revealed that the results of conservative economic policies have taken a severe tool on people between the ages of 18 and 35. In the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll :

• Fifty-five percent said that their finances, the economic squeeze and money are their biggest problems. Young people simply do not believe they have enough money to keep pace with the cost of living.

• Forty-eight percent of young people worry frequently about making ends meet, and another 38 percent worry at least occasionally about making ends meet. Thirty-seven percent of parents also worry frequently about their children being able to make ends meet.

• The percentage of young people holding almost every form of debt, other than mortgages and auto loans, is up from 2007. That includes credit card debt (52 percent, up from 49 percent), student loans (37 percent, up from 31 percent), unpaid medical bills (28 percent, up from 23 percent), loans from parents (20 percent, up from 12 percent) and payday loans (6 percent, up from 4 percent).

• A small, but significant, minority report having their phone, cable or utilities cut off because they failed to pay their bill (19 percent) or have had their credit revoked, including a repossession or card cancellation (15 percent), in the last year. A large number of young people say they only pay the minimum monthly amount on their credit cards (57 percent) or that they have paid a late fee on a card (36 percent) in the past year.
now consider how the "drunken" Wall street cronies have fared over the last 20 years under predominantly GOP leadership. A group that not only has consolidated unprecented wealth, but is currently being bailed AGAIN by the taxpayer to the tune of billions. Can some one remind me why regulation is bad?

According to IRS data, “the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation’s adjusted gross income for two decades” and “possibly the highest since 1929.” Meanwhile, “the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years.”


So friend and writer Nancy Rawlinson has now committed herself to bloggery. The new blog will cover books/lit, publishing, MFA's and the creative process. Sure to be a nice companion to Maud Newton for the literary among you. So please check her out at Boolah.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

pacific ocean blue

This just moved to the top of the queue for must have music!
Here's the blurb from Other Music:

Late Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s ‘77 solo LP has long been heralded as a lost classic. Like Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos,” Wilson’s album is considered a masterpiece in soul-baring, lonewolf pop, and here it’s reissued in a deluxe edition with unreleased tracks.

* side note: If you don't own the Chris Bell record, do yourself a solid and buy it now. It's essential.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What do you think is essential reading for the artist?

So this in an open call for a discussion about what you consider essential reading for the contemporary artist. Let's limit it to 5 titles - books or essays. These can be historic, contemporary, of any discipline. You can also include an artists monograph if you can explain why it is essential beyond your affinity to that artist's work, like perhaps the guest essay of that title.

I'd like to see what parallels are out there for artists that are online regularly via blogs, etc.
Also, I'm personally interested in uncovering any educational gaps that I might have. So please impress me with something other than total silence on the subject ;)

Friday, July 18, 2008

29 years ago....

The following from Jimmy Carter - 29 years ago. Some things never change, especially American amnesia.

CARTER: Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never...

Point two: To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my presidential authority to set import quotas...

Point three: To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel...

I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.

These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay...

Point four: I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source...

Point five: To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board...

Point six: I'm proposing a bold conservation program to involve every state, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford.

To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems...

Our nation must be fair to the poorest among us, so we will increase aid to needy Americans to cope with rising energy prices. We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our nation's strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives...

I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our nation's problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act. We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.

Continued reading at A Tiny Revolution

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I don't have time for noncontroversial art exhibits...

My love affair with boundary-pushing art began more than 10 years ago. Back then I had a ton of energy and a lot less responsibility. I had time for each and every marginally disgusting effrontery to common decency within a 50-mile radius. These days, my schedule is pretty packed. Take this week, for example. Monday: Abu Ghraib flip books. Tuesday: a blackface reenactment of the Reagan assassination attempt. Wednesday: drive upstate to watch an amputee roast and eat his own golden retriever. You get the picture. I swear, if my wife didn't spend her weekends making plaster sculptures of Catholic saints being fisted by famous serial killers, I'd never see her.

Bottom line: If people aren't protesting, becoming nauseated by, or threatening lawsuits against an artist's work, you can look around for me, but I'm not going to be there. Using light and shadow to mythologize the pastoral and create a setting where human beings and the natural world can coexist peacefully? Best of luck to you. If you need me, I'll be watching a heroin addict use his own HIV-positive blood to paint Hiroshima victims on the side of a school bus. You know, with all the other real art buffs.

The only thing these so called "masters" have in common is that they didn't have the balls to shake things up. Why would I waste my time solemnly staring at a meticulously painted portrait of an aristocratic woman when I can see someone drink glow-stick fluid and vomit onto a canvas covered with pictures of Nelson Mandela?

good laughs continue on at the Onion

summer reading

It's summer and I have been amped about getting through a ton of books if possible. Not having worked since April, I've plunged into studio life but also some 'home-schooling" of my own. In short, finishing the myriad books I've had my nose in for months - if not years :(

So here's my report on where I am so far at the mid-summer point.

Books finished:

  • Storm World - Chris Mooney
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
  • Seeing is Forgetting The Name of the Thing One Sees (Robert Irwin) - Lawrence Weschler
  • The Aesthetics of Decay - Dylan Trigg
  • A Theory of Cloud/Toward a History of Painting - Hubert Damisch
  • The Emigrants - W.G. Sebald
  • The Rings of Saturn - W.G. Sebald
  • The Emergence of Memory, Conversations with W.G. Sebald - Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Books currently trying to finish:

  • Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald
  • Searching for Sebald, Photography after W.G.Sebald - The Institute of Cultural Inquiry
  • The Fate of Place - Edward Casey
  • The Accursed Share - Georges Bataille
  • Confessions of Nat Turner - William Styron
  • Francis Bacon - Gilles Deleuze
  • Holy Terror - Terry Eagleton
  • Sticky Sublime - Bill Beckley
  • What Painting Is - James Elkins

Books I hope to at least get started on by fall:

Feeling and Form - Susanne Langer (owned this for years and never cracked it)
Pictures and Tear: A History of People who have Cried in Front of Paintings - James Elkins
On the Road ( The Original Scroll) - Jack Kerouac ( a re-read of sorts)

The Purple Cloud - M.P. Shiel

Archeologies of the Future - Frederic Jameson

Presence of the Past - Rupert Sheldrake

It's a tall order for sure and I don't expect to get through all of these texts but I really want to. I'm not a particularly fast reader, I'm prone to underlining and re-reading pages. Still it seems doable despite my own reading idiosyncrasies. Of course, new things always come your way so this list is at best an ambling walk through the thicket

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

anatomy of a painting [1]

So for the first time, I'm going to attempt to be disciplined enough to chronicle a new work from start to finish. not every interval of change but enough to witness the lifespan of a painting.
This is the new "blank" canvas. Actually stretched linen, measuring 48 square. This piece has been in existence for roughly 6 months so it isn't exactly new but having done a few ground layers and some earlier tinkering on a composition, I decided to black it out and start over.

Typically, this is how it will begin. Me in a chair staring at the thing and then taping some preconceived ideas onto the surface. These range from photos, to color copies - or more evolved collages done by hand or in photoshop or both. I have a new sunlit room for the first time in years and I am already seeing the results on my mood and ability to feel the paintings out more. I'm excited to get into something decently sized as this. Already the kernel of the idea present in the xerox on the canvas has been discarded by my fickle intuitions :)

David Lynch and iphone

Too Weird for the Wire - Kevin Carey

I tried to come up with a title but the real title is perfect so there you go. This issue of The Washington Monthly has an incredible piece about how arcane white supremacist legal theories are showing up in Baltimore courtrooms - out of the mouths of African-American drug dealers.

No kidding and after reading this, you realize how spot on the The Wire is about streets of Baltimore. But the story goes way past anything Simon could write for the show. This is something that could only surface in America. I mean it is nuts and then nuts some more.

Here's an excerpt::

Judge Davis ordered the three defendants to be removed from the court, and turned to Gardner, who had, until then, remained quiet. But Gardner, too, intoned the same strange speech. "I am Shawn Earl Gardner, live man, flesh and blood," he proclaimed. Every time the judge referred to him as "the defendant" or "Mr. Gardner," Gardner automatically interrupted: "My name is Shawn Earl Gardner, sir." Davis tried to explain to Gardner that his behavior was putting his chances of acquittal or leniency at risk. "Don't throw your life away," Davis pleaded. But Gardner wouldn't stop. Judge Davis concluded the hearing, determined to find out what was going on.

As it turned out, he wasn't alone. In the previous year, nearly twenty defendants in other Baltimore cases had begun adopting what lawyers in the federal courthouse came to call "the flesh-and-blood defense." The defense, such as it is, boils down to this: As officers of the court, all defense lawyers are really on the government's side, having sworn an oath to uphold a vast, century-old conspiracy to conceal the fact that most aspects of the federal government are illegitimate, including the courts, which have no constitutional authority to bring people to trial. The defendants also believed that a legal distinction could be drawn between their name as written on their indictment and their true identity as a "flesh and blood man."

Read the full story by Kevin Carey here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

50% of NY's new voting machines flawed ?

Wired has another chilling piece on voting machine flaws that are just on time for the upcoming elections in September and November(Presidential).

Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, expressed frustration with the vendor, saying it appeared that Sequoia was using the state's acceptance testing process to find problems with its machines in lieu of a sound quality-control process.

But Sequoia isn't the only problem, according to counties who have reported receiving problematic machines from the state Board of Elections after the board was supposed to have tested and certified the machines. The Board of Elections is examining all of the new machines before sending them out to counties.

In Nassau County alone, the largest voting district outside of New York City, officials found problems with 85 percent of the 240 ImageCast machines it received so far -- problems that the county characterized in a letter as "substantial operational flaws that render them unusable or that require major repairs."

The county rejected 48 machines right at delivery, due to physical damage. Another 58 machines exhibited problems during testing, according to William Biamonte, the Democratic elections commissioner for Nassau County. [New York counties have two election directors -- one each from the Democratic and Republican parties -- to avoid charges of unfair elections.] Some of the latter machines, he said, shook dramatically when they were running and workers either had to shut them down or the machines shut themselves down from the vibration. Other machines had dead batteries or batteries that wouldn't hold a two-hour charge, as they were required to do.

Another 112 machines produced a "printer failure" error message. Biamonte says this was the result of a change Sequoia made to its firmware. He said that when he received his first batch of machines about a month ago, the machines had "horrific paper jams." To fix the problem, Sequoia loaded new firmware on the systems to speed up the printer, but in doing so disabled the USB port on machines, resulting in the "printer failure" error messages.

Monday, July 14, 2008

sports as the model world

German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk comments on the Tour de France in an interview with Spiegel.

The best-looking breasts, in general, are artificial. The strongest sexual performance is fueled by Viagra. Why are we getting so worked up about athletes doing the same thing?

Sloterdijk: There is an obvious reason: The relationship between sports and everyday life is like that between the holy and the mundane. It forms a model world, in which everything we know from the average world is intensified. The same values apply there as anywhere else, but in a more concentrated form. This is why the idea of pure performance is more important there than anywhere else. Fraud is normal in the gray zone of the normal, but in the model world it must be proscribed. This special world, framed by clear rules, is inherently designed as an artificial sphere of pure performance, which gives it a special mission. Our meritocratic society celebrates its contradictions within sports. For this reason it is, if you will, an innately transient zone. Athletes cannot be saints or priest, but they must at least live up to their reputation as heroes, and when they no longer can or want to, they become like everyone else -- and we can put them on welfare.

via Phronesisaical

your new FISA flow chart

Ok, so I'm still rather gripped by this legislation because frankly it scares me. Also because there continue to be excellent posts generated examining this bill. You do have to wonder, did Congressional staffs give this the same attention?

So for the latecomers to the issue or those simply confused/indifferent to it all , here is a handy flow chart examining and comparing the "old FISA" with the "new and improved FISA".

From Ketchup and Caviar:

The focus of change is the bolded red line marked “U.S. or non-U.S. Persons Located Inside or Outside the U.S.” Currently a warrant is required in this case. Notice the changes involving the bolded blue lines and text in the following chart:

continue reading Wes Alwan here and see if you can figure out how this new bill improves anything...

Seeing is Forgetting - Robert Irwin

One of the great pleasures so far this summer has been finally (after years) getting around to reading Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler. This may well be the best book about an artist and their working method and evolution that I have ever read. If you interested in abstraction, this is pretty much required reading. You'll also get a nice little history on the formation of the L.A. art scene from the 1950's on which for an east coast artist, was quite intriguing and it certainly filled some gaps for me. This is a fast read (and great biography actually) with a lot of big ideas and I think some very fruitful fodder on how to approach one's work within your own studio dynamic. My interest and admiration for Irwin has gone off the charts to say the least, it has left a true and at times profound impression. If you teach, I think you need to get a copy of it.

Here's an excerpt regarding Irwin's relationship with his studio practice during his "late lines" period(1962-1964):

In the beginning all of this was not very considered. It was done very intuitively. My concentration was not real good. It was mostly a question of just staying in the studio and simply not going out. Whether I did anything or didn't do anything, whether I was able to work or not, I simply would not let myself leave. But after awhile, if you don't let yourself leave, then everything else begins to leave, that is, all of your other reasons or ambitions in being there; and if you're very fortunate, you might then reach a point of being completely alone in an intimate dialogue with yourself as acted out in the realm of the painting.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

headin out for the weekend

Ben Turnbull: Bring Me the Head of Saddam Hussein, 2008.

Friday, July 11, 2008

today's studio view

new FISA and the dismantling of the free press

Chris Hedges has an ominous opinion piece at the LA Times about the new FISA agreement. This will have a huge impact on how information is disseminated to the public - objective fact finding will severely be hindered. This isn't simple about the private citizen's right to privacy.

If the sweeping surveillance law signed by President Bush on Thursday -- giving the U.S. government nearly unchecked authority to eavesdrop on the phone calls and e-mails of innocent Americans -- is allowed to stand, we will have eroded one of the most important bulwarks to a free press and an open society.

The new FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance. It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The court will not be told specifics about who will be wiretapped, which means the law provides woefully inadequate safeguards to protect innocent people whose communications are caught up in the government's dragnet surveillance program.

The law, passed under the guise of national security, ostensibly targets people outside the country. There is no question, however, that it will ensnare many communications between Americans and those overseas. Those communications can be stored indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to other governments.

This law will cripple the work of those of us who as reporters communicate regularly with people overseas, especially those in the Middle East. It will intimidate dissidents, human rights activists and courageous officials who seek to expose the lies of our government or governments allied with ours. It will hang like the sword of Damocles over all who dare to defy the official versions of events. It leaves open the possibility of retribution and invites the potential for abuse by those whose concern is not with national security but with the consolidation of their own power.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

total failure

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked: "What if Congress had responded to Watergate by immunizing the executive branch's lawbreakers and giving Richard Nixon sweeping new powers to snoop?

"Oh, wait! They just did! They just took thirty years or so to get around to it."

H.R. 6304, updating the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was passed by the Senate and awaits a pleased President Bush's signature Wednesday. The bill grants the executive branch virtually unchecked power to monitor Americans' electronic communications originating, or terminating, overseas, and immunizes from civil lawsuits the telecommunications companies that agreed to help the NSA eavesdrop on such communications without obtaining the proper warrants through the FISA court.

I promise to get back to art related posts soon, but I have been swept up in the drama of the Protect America Act/FISA over the last months and particularly the last weeks. The whole charade has depressed me deeply and is not without a dimension of fear. My support for the Obama candidacy has also been deeply compromised and the reality has set in that he is not ready for the enormous responsbilities of preisdent. There is an enormous legal cleanup job required after Bush's departure and it will take someone willing to fight tyranny. I'm not seeing it as he drifts closer and closer to the hypocrisy of the beltway elite.

I have to wonder how this will affect the online community and the alternative political narrative the web provides?

Here's how the whole day shook down:

Prior to final approval, the Senate, in the morning, rejected three separate amendments which would have improved the bill but which, the White House threatened, would have prompted a veto. With those amendments defeated, the Senate then passed the same bill passed last week by the House, which means it is that bill, in unchanged form, that will be signed into law -- just as the Bush administration demanded.

The first amendment, from Sens. Dodd, Feingold and Leahy, would have stripped from the bill the provision immunizing the telecoms. That amendment failed by a vote of 32-66, with all Republicans and 17 Democrats against (the roll call vote is here). The next amendment was offered by Sen. Arlen Specter, which would have merely required a court to determine the constitutionality of the NSA spying program and grant telecom immunity only upon a finding of constitutionality. Specter's amendment failed, 37-61 (roll call vote is here). The third amendment to fail was one sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, merely requiring that the Senate wait until the Inspector General audits of the NSA program are complete before immunizing the telecoms. The Bingaman amendment failed by a vote of 42-56 (roll call vote here). Both Obama and Clinton voted for all three failed amendments.

The Senators then voted for "cloture" on the underlying FISA bill -- the procedure that allows the Senate to overcome any filibusters -- and it passed by a vote of 72-26. Obama voted along with all Republicans for cloture. Hillary Clinton voted with 25 other Democrats against cloture (strangely, Clinton originally voted AYE on cloture, and then changed her vote to NAY; I'm trying to find out what explains that).

With cloture approved, the bill itself then proceeded to pass by a vote of 69-28 (roll call vote here), thereby immunizing telecoms and legalizing warrantless eavesdropping. Again, while Obama voted with all Republicans to pass the bill, Sen. Clinton voted against it.

Obama's vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama's spokesman -- in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama's views on the spying controversy after he had previously given a vague and noncommittal statement -- issued this emphatic vow:

To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
[read on at Glenn Greenwald]
Here is David Hutchins on why Democrats caved in - The MONEY Trail

image: the 110th Congress

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dodd-Feingold Amendment

Firedoglake is running the current voting tallies as the Congress debates for the final time on the approval of the Protect America Act and it's revision of FISA (and telecom immunity).

Call your rep today and check out where they stand here.

August 8, 1974 v. July 9, 2008

from Glenn Greenwald:

The votes in the Senate on various amendments to the FISA "compromise" bill and to the underlying bill itself were originally scheduled for today, but have been postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday, July 9) to enable Senators to attend the funeral of Jesse Helms. Rejection of the amendments -- including the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment to strip telecom immunity from the bill -- is all but certain, and final passage of the bill (with the support of both presidential candidates) is guaranteed.

Once passed by the Senate, the FISA bill will then immediately be sent by the Democratic Congress to an eagerly awaiting and immensely pleased President Bush, who will sign it into law, thereby putting a permanent and happy end to the scandal that began when -- in December, 2005 -- he was caught spying on the communications of American citizens in violation of the law. The only real remaining questions are (a) whether Bush will host Steny Hoyer and Jay Rockefeller at a festive, bipartisan White House signing ceremony to celebrate the evisceration of the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law, and (b) whether Bush, when he signs the bill into law, will append a signing statement decreeing that even its minimal restraints on presidential spying are invalid.

If nothing else, as the Democratic-led Senate follows in the footsteps of the Democratic-led House this week by passing a bill demanded by George Bush and Dick Cheney to cover-up and retroactively legalize their surveillance crimes and protect the lawbreakers, there will be a clear record -- delivered to their front doors -- of what they're really doing, along with an accounting of the deceitful propaganda they are disseminating to mask and justify it.

continue reading here

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Senator, get FISA right

Sorry for being offline, finally finally got the computer sorted and online. Anyway, if you are like me and have been deeply disappointed by Obama's position on the new FISA bill and telecom immunity from civil suits, you can pressure him via his campaign website

If you want to take further steps try these.

  • Contact Barack Obama's Senate office and do the same.
  • Use Cause Caller to contact both the Senate and Campaign Offices
    • As an alternative to the above options, you can use the Cause Caller website to help you contact the Senator and his campaign by phone
    • Click here for the Cause Caller page. The page provides a script of suggestions for things to mention on the phone, and an auto dialer for the campaign and senate offices.
    • In your own (calm, coherent) words, tell them what you think. See here for suggestions on how to say it.

  • New! Use Blue America's Whip Count Call Tool to call your senators in support of an amendment to strip telecom immunity from the FISA bill.
    • Click here so they can connect you to your senator. (If they connect you directly, the call is free.)
    • The page has suggestions for things to say in support of the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment.
    • You can help track support for the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment.
    • In your own (calm, coherent) words, tell them what you think. See here for suggestions on how to say it.

The Fourth amendment is at stake and with it a free society. This is a very dangerous and slippery slope towards opaque government and abuses that history reveals all too clearly.

From Glen Greenwald:

Just to get a flavor for how fundamental a reversal is Obama's FISA position, here is what Obama said back in February when accepting Chris Dodd's endorsement:

We know it's time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd's candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish.

The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I've been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens -- and set an example to the world -- that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America –- no one is above the law.

Here is what he said back in January:
Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people -- not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed. . . .

A grassroots movement of Americans has pushed this issue to the forefront. You have come together across this country. You have called upon our leaders to adhere to the Constitution. You have sent a message to the halls of power that the American people will not permit the abuse of power -- and demanded that we reclaim our core values by restoring the rule of law.

It's time for Washington to hear your voices, and to act. I share your commitment to this cause, and will stand with you in the fights to come.

And obviously, his vow last October to "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies" can't be reconciled with his vow to "support" such a bill now.

The issue is not -- as one extremely confused Obama-cheering blogger put it -- that Obama has done "something contrary to what conventional wisdom as dictated by a small coterie of prominent bloggers agrees with," nor is it -- as an equally confused, Obama-cheering Ed Kilgore put it -- that Obama is "stray[ing] from Democratic Party orthodoxy or from strict down-the-line partisanship" by "expressing heretical thoughts on FISA" (incidentally, it's amazing how the rule of law, the Fourth Amendment and accountability for Bush lawbreaking have now -- in service of defending Obama -- all been instantaneously reduced to nothing more than quirky, self-absorbed, petty blogger "dictates," and Obama's disregarding of those core political values is a bold demonstration that he won't be held hostage to anyone's narrow partisan demands).

The issue is that Obama has repeatedly, over the course of the last year, made emphatic commitments and clear statements about his core political values that are completely irreconcilable with his support for the FISA bill. It's possible to recognize that someone is just a "politician" and still trust that they're telling you essentially the truth about what they think and what they'll do.