Friday, May 15, 2009

Libertarians: Time to get serious about justice for torturers

Original at the Center for Libertarian Press Information:

President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office brandishing promises to close the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shut down CIA "black sites" around the world, and bring cleansing sunlight to bear on human rights abuses perpetrated by the Bush administration in the name of a "Global War On Terror." On Friday, Libertarians called on Obama to quit stalling and get with the program.

"Every time it looks like justice will make it out of the woods, Obama falls off the wagon," says Starchild, coordinator of the national activist group Grassroots Libertarians. "Less than four months into his presidency, we're back to kangaroo courts at Gitmo, covering up crimes with a constitutionally baseless state secrets doctrine, and hiding evidence by deeming it 'classified.'"

Earlier this week, President Obama reneged on his administration's pledge to publicly release photos depicting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yesterday, after months of stalling on closure of Guantanamo Bay, he announced a return to the policy of trying terror cases by military commission instead of in the courts, as required by the Constitution. Obama's White House has repeatedly sandbagged even his own party's efforts to prosecute, or even expose, those responsible for the previous administration's policy of torturing prisoners.

The Libertarian Party's platform holds that "the Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government's use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law."

To Marc Montoni, secretary of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, Obama's policy shifts smell of politics as usual. "America voted for change we could believe in," he says. "What we're seeing so far looks more like Bush's third term."

Contact: Thomas L. Knapp | | 314-721-3960
PRLog release version w/PDF: Click here

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mickey Carroll RIP

Mickey Carroll died yesterday.

You may not know him, but you've almost certainly seen him -- he played the violinist Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, and performed three other Munchkin roles as well.

Mickey lived a few blocks away from us until recently, when his health took a turn for the worse and he moved in with a caretaker. We met him once, at a local event (he gave much of his time and money to St. Louis area charities). Fabulous guy.

I was surprised to learn that there's not already a Mickey Carroll star on the St. Louis "walk of fame." Saddened, too -- he'd have gotten a kick out of it, I think, if it had been done when he was alive to see it. He wasn't just from the area, he was a vaudeville player here before his brief moment of film fame, and lived out his life here as an active member of the community. Hopefully he'll get his star now, done up right in a special sidewalk segment made of gold-colored bricks.

Since Warner is pursuing its usual course of self-destructive "copyright enforcement," I can't find a suitable film clip with audio to feature in tribute. Here's an interview, though, with several Munchkins, including Mickey Carroll.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

One of those oh-so-domestic "what I'm up to" posts ...

... that I try not to engage in too much, and usually mock. I'm trying to keep a foot wedged in the door of this here blogosphere, but I don't much feel like posting "serious" material at the moment.

Having purchased a cheap (really: 15 bucks!) espresso machine, I am now officially a snob. Not an effete snob, though -- haven't been able to talk Tamara into a bread machine yet.

The straw that broke the camel's back on the espresso thing was a trip to MoKaBe's on Thursday night. We hadn't been there in a couple of years, mostly because our normal travels don't take us to the south side of St. Louis very often. Thursday was Dining Out For Life night, though, and there was a storytelling event at Lemp Mansion which Tamara wanted to attend (one of her high school teachers was one of the storytellers). Perfect storm of excuses to locate ourselves in the vicinity of Grand and Arsenal.

Best. Coffee. Evar. I'd forgotten how good it is. Much better than Starbucks, and obviously the old drip coffeemaker at home just won't cut it. Gotta have the real thing.

Set it up this afternoon. I started with a double-shot cappuccino, which came out so-so. Right now, I'm drinking a quadruple-shot iced vanilla latte, made with half-and-half instead of regular milk. That's the ticket, folks. Makes me wish I had an IV rig to just keep it coming.

Not that I'll avoid MoKaBe's now just because I can make my own espresso. The food's as good as the coffee (fantastic quesadillas, the best French dip sammich in the world), the prices are attractive and the atmosphere is perfect. You know you're home when the first thing you see as you walk in the door is some guy on a laptop covered with explicitly libertarian stickers. The clientele tends to be overtly left but leaning heavily libertarian, especially on issues like same-sex marriage (MoKaBe's is well-known as an LGBT-friendly hangout). Gotta make it down there more often.

So anyway, that's what I'm up to. Drinking espresso and reading John LeCarre's The Constant Gardener and listening to the Ramones. And posting to The Aulde Blogge, just because.