Still can't work out whether I was in fact born to sweet delight or endless night.
Elves in the news, from the Iceland Review.
Punknews.org commenters react to my SPIN Lookout list. Apparently I left some stuff out. I guess I failed to mention it, since I thought it was kind of obvious, but in fact, you're all free to make your own list.
SPIN asked me to submit a list of twenty, and I did, but then they very generously decided to sneak one of mine on there, so one of the original twenty had to go. (Sorry, Sewer Trout.) Of course, "Superwoman" was meant to be #1.
Rand Paul has introduced a bill to revise the Lacey Act.
I'm sure somebody will pop up and tell me how important it is to maintain American criminal penalties for inadvertent violations of discontinued foreign trading regulations, but I can't see a downside here: "this bill removes each and every reference to 'foreign law' within the Lacey Act and substitutes the Lacey Act's criminal penalties with a reasonable civil penalty system."
That lobster case really sticks in my craw, if that's the expression I want. The details are here, but essentially several people were sent to federal prison for years because of participating in the import and distribution of lobsters that were shipped in plastic bags, because of a Honduran regulation, no longer even in effect at the time, that "mentioned" that cardboard containers should be used. It was one of those prosecutions that didn't even make a pretext of solving a problem, righting a wrong, protecting anyone, or making the world better in any way: it was simply a case of trying to find a "creative" technicality on which to charge these people after having decided they've got to be charged with something. None of the people involved had any way of knowing that the containers in which their shipment of lobsters arrived were the "wrong" sort, nor that the penalty for their being the wrong sort would wind up being multiple years in federal prison. The federal agents themselves didn't know, and also had no way of knowing till they had done the requisite after-the-fact "research." It was a purely malicious prosecution, of no use to anyone, resulting only in harm and achieving nothing but to visit misery upon innocent citizens whom the law is theoretically meant to protect.
This sort of thing drives me crazy, and I'm glad someone is finally trying to address it. It's not much, I grant. This is only one of thousands of crazy laws that should be revised or repealed in the cause of justice and sanity. And I have no idea if this sensible revision has any chance of getting enough votes to pass muster in Congress: after all, Congress was stupid and short-sighted enough to pass the damn fool provisions in the first place. But it is a step in the right direction, which is the kind of step rarely if ever seen in this day and age when it comes to legislation, so: well done, Senator Paul. More please.
Added: The New Republic's Thomas Stackpole pops up to explain how important it is to maintain American criminal penalties for inadvertent violations of discontinued foreign trading regulations.
Further to the previous post, Obama head cheerleader Andrew Sullivan asks "why did Obama cave to the DEA" on medical cannabis and launch a draconian crackdown despite a clear pledge not to? (He links to Jacob Sullum, whose only-thing-I-can-come-up-with idea that the campaign could be worried about a "soft on drugs" perception seems quite implausible and anachronistic to me. "Soft on crime" still has a sting, but there's no big voting bloc keen to deny cancer patients access to medical marijuana, as the initiatives themselves, and the non-campaign-killing effectiveness of the President's own rhetoric way back when, attest. The question still stands, as far as I'm concerned.)
But here's Sullivan's answer:
the other option is that the abuse of medical marijuana laws in, say, California and Colorado, has weakened his hand vis-a-vis the DEA. Both states have effectively legalized the drug for recreational use, with a fig-leaf over their juicy, sticky buds. I'm with Sullum and wish the DEA would back off. But I also wish some states had exercized more discretion and care in allowing for medical marijuana.Is that how it works, really? The President of the United states has a policy in mind, but in order to execute it, he must first persuade his own Drug Enforcement Agency to agree to let him do it? So he knocks on their door, hat in hand. "Come on guys, hear me out: just let me do it my way, just this once. Please?" The DEA responds: "okay, Mr. President. You've got five minutes. Make it good." The President of the United States makes his proposal, hoping against hope that his "hand" is good enough to persuade the DEA to allow him to instruct his Justice Department to execute his preferred policy. Fingers crossed. Unfortunately, the irresponsible voters of California and Colorado have weakened his hand too much. The DEA remains unmoved. "Sorry, Mr. President. That was a nice presentation, but you'll have to do better than that. Maybe you should tell your fun-loving buddies in California and Colorado to clean up their act before you come bothering us with this again. Miss Jones will show you out." "I fold," says the President of the United States. "You guys are just too good." Well, yes, you win some, you lose some. Too bad we screwed it up with all this "voting."
For all I know, that is how it works. But here's another option: he was lying. I have no idea why. Or maybe it was just campaign rhetoric we were never meant to take seriously, and it was his intention all along to continue and to amplify the previous administration's policy. But, as far as I can see, the DEA is under the control of the Department of Justice, which is an arm of the executive. The executive is Obama. And yet: "It's California's fault," says Sullivan. "I don't think it originated from the Obama administration" says the director of Americans for Safe Access. Really? The DEA is the Obama administration. Right?
The agency and its strategies, which together comprise America’s second effort at prohibition, may be the most completely failed ideas that the Seventies brought to America. Yet the American political sector seems incapable of accepting the now-plentiful evidence of their failure. The DEA has about 11,000 employees and a budget of about $2.5 billion dollars. Members of Congress looking for fat to trim from federal expenditures ought to be taking a close look at the agency. Its value-to-damage ratio is likely the worst in our entire government.The country and the world would certainly be a much better place if the DEA were defunded and defanged, but it's not as if it is a sovereign entity unto itself: the ultimate responsibility for this and other such atrocities surely rests in those whose policies it enforces. I can't see how anybody who considers himself a "liberal" could in good conscience support an administration that pursues paramilitary sweeps of university "4/20 parties" as a wise and decent use of executive power. I can only put it down to willful blindness and the proverbial dread of being left out of their reference group. The senseless escalation of the drug war and systematic attacks on civil liberties cost this president any further votes from me long ago, but if they hadn't, this could certainly have been something like the last straw. Not that I think it (the vote) matters, of course. But people shouldn't kid themselves: responsibility for this oops-we-did-it-again tragedy goes all the way to the top.
This kid deserves every penny of the $20 million his suit seeks, taxpayer-funded though it will be, but it won't approach actual justice unless the agents responsible face attempted murder charges, and the entire chain of command acknowledges responsibility. Heads should roll. They won't. Heck of a job, guys.
Just an update, if anyone cares: it looks like the remaining MTX/Dr. Frank albums-as-issued have finally migrated through to iTunes and (I presume) all the other digital distribution hubs.
We've still got a few of the singles, the bonus stuff from the various comps, Road to Ruin, and possibly the "best of" envisioned here to go. No word yet on physical product re-issues yet, but I'm working on it. More to come.
Doing a few shows in the next couple of months:
-- Thursday, May 3rd, 1234 Go Records, 420 40th Street Suite 5, Oakland, CA 94609, Oakland CA, 7-10PM: I'm doing one of those lit/show appearance things with Sam McPheeters and Erick Lyle. Sam (the Born Against guy) has a new book; Erick has a new issue of Scam out now.
I'm sure there'll be mostly reading and talking at this thing, but I'm going to bring my guitar just in case I run out of things to say.
-- Thursday, June 21st, Otto Bar, 2549 North Howard Street, Baltimore, MD 21218: I'm going to be doing a set at the Insubordination Fest opening night, with Cincinnati's Mixtapes as the back-up band. They're learning the songs now. It should be a fun adventure.
-- Sunday, July 8th, Oakland Metro Operahouse, 630 3rd Street, Oakland CA. 94607 : gonna be playing the Mess Fest, with Kepi, Prima Donna, and others.
Maybe a few more to come, so watch this space.
(I just have to add a bit of advice to anyone setting up or publicizing shows: it's a great idea to put basic info like the address of the venue somewhere on the front page of the website or Facebook page where you announce and publicize it; also, it wouldn't hurt to send an email with clear, paste-able text to the people who are doing the show so it is more likely that the lazy ones will post stuff about it before the last minute. Writing this post should not have involved so much "research.")
Only the first 100 (As) so far, but the rest of the alphabet is coming soon, but it's nice, fun design, with album art and Spotify links. I'm sure I'm not the only person to wonder if any of my own stuff is in there, though I'll have to wait till "D" and "M" to find out. But the Accused and the Abrasive Wheels, though, can wonder no longer. Lots of his other stuff, too, but the records are the most interesting to me.