Saturday, August 11, 2007

I've been terrible about updating. Mostly because I haven't been that motivated, I've had people locked out, and I've been training a temp at work AND doing all kinds of other shit work. Bleh. SO here's all the stuff I haven't posted, it's three weeks worth, but not nearly as much as you might think. Enjoy, andi'll try and be better about posting.

Week of 7/16

This weekend was pretty great. We drove up to Chicago on Saturday morning for the Pitchfork Music Festival. We saw (in no particular order):

* Beach house
* Fujiya and Miyagi
* Girl Talk
* Cat Power
* Yoko Ono
* The Junior Boys
* Jaime Lydell
* Of Montreal
* and many others

the weather was a perfect 80 degrees with no humidity. I did however get sunburned on the back of my neck, due to remaining in the same spot in front of what would be the Of Montreal stage. We squatted there for about five hours so that we could be in the front rows for the concert. All was well for the first half of the concert, until some assholes in the back of the mass of humanity that was behind us decided to start pushing forward. Imagine the weight of 8,000 people pushing your forward. Now, imagine that your forward progress is prevented by three rows of people smooshed against an unforgiving gate. This is how people die at concerts. Jen and I assumed defensive postures and elbowed all the way. We still had many many sweaty 200+ lb drunk males jumping all over us, but we managed to not get crushed. Lovely. The concert itself was good - and Of Montreal puts on quite a show.

There was some sort of three-headed beast, a guy all in black with a gold sequined mask, a guy with wings, a blown up guy with a paper mache head, a woman in a gold cat suit, the lead singer in a leather get-up (briefs, fishnets, and corset) glitter all around and some sort of red jelly.... there really was something quite bizarre about watching a bunch of macho men push towards the stage trying to get closer and closet to a skinny white boy, clad in leather - the homo-eroticism completely lost on the males in the crowd....

So, despite being in Chicago all weekend, Jen and I returned on Tuesday so that we could see Mirah. That's right, we drove back from Chicago on Sunday night so that I could go to work on Monday, get hired (more on that later) and take the day of Tuesday. So that we could drive up on Tuesday and see a concert, only to drive back home so that I could be at work on Wednesday. Let me tell you that the concert was amazing - I really like Logan Square Auditorium. And we were mixing it up because my cousin Catherine came with us. And we decided to stop in Springfield to catch a movie and lunch, in order to avoid rush hour traffic in Chicago. So yeah, the concert = amazing, we were three rows back, from the stage, not a fence that keeps you several feet from the stage, but the stage itself. I could have reached out and tapped her. I highly recommend you get your hands on some Mirah, especially Cold Cold Water and The Garden, oh and the song she sang about New Orleans. Just check out her myspace page.

Anyway, the concert was good, the drive back = yucky. The concert itself didn't get over until midnight, which means that right off the bat we were looking at an arrival time in STL of 4:30am. Yikes. So there was fast food and Red Bull and eventually, Jen let me convince her that I needed to be the one driving and she should be sleeping in the backseat (on account of her having to work at 6am, and me having to work later at 9:30am). So Catherine and I sang songs, and talked politics and joined the Senate who was having a sleepover to force Republicans to stop obstructing. All, in all, the drive wasn't bad once my red bull and no doze kicked in. Of course, when I finally did get home, my body was immeasurably tired, but still highly caffeinated (and actively multiple choicing?) so there was no sleep for a half hour, by that time it was almost time for me to get up anyway.

So work sucked on Wednesday - alot. But I slept alot last night, and I shudder at the thought of Red Bull - the great thing is that we plan to do the same thing this coming Sunday. St. Vincent is playing the Empty Bottle. We'll be there. and Monday will be hell.

Oh, so yeah. I was hired on Monday. Finally. Benefits kick in Sept 1. And I got a slight pay-raise, but now I'm also eligible for bonuses and paid time off. Three weeks of it, to be exact. and sick days. paid sick days - five of them. and a 401k with a 7% match. oh yeah.....

meanwhile, it is now Thursday, and i am actively hungry.

Gonzales is scheduled to appear before the SJC on Tuesday and it should be fascinating - especially since Leahy sent him a list of questions beforehand so that we could avoid anymore "I don't recall" moments. He also pointed out that Gonzales has been "inconsistent" in the past. This means that he LIED. Hopefully, the SJC will hand Gonzales his ass on Tuesday. I'll be watching.

Here's the letter he sent Gonzales:

July 17, 2007

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

When you last testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 19, 2007, you often responded to questions from Senators on both sides of the aisle that you could “not recall.” By some counts, you failed to answer more than 100 questions, by other counts more than 70, and the most conservative count had you failing to provide answers well over 60 times. As a result, the Committee’s efforts to conduct oversight were hampered. Senator Specter and I wrote to you after that hearing to ask you promptly to supplement your testimony on April 19 with answers to those questions for which you responded that you could not recall or did not know. In your cursory response, you did not supplement any of your answers.

I would like to avoid a repeat of that performance. In order to assist you in your preparation, I send you the following questions in advance of your July 24 appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

1. On April 19, you testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that you had not spoken with anyone involved in the firings about that process because you did not want to interfere with the investigation. Again, on May 10, you testified to the House Judiciary Committee that you had not spoken with anyone involved in order to protect the integrity of the investigation. Then on May 23, Monica Goodling testified under oath before the House Judiciary Committee that she had an “uncomfortable” conversation with you during which you outlined your recollection of what happened and asked her for her reaction to your version. Is Ms. Goodling’s testimony accurate, and if so, how do you account for your previous, uncorrected testimony to this Committee?

2. On April 19 you testified before this Committee that your former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson was responsible for putting together the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired. But on May 15, the day after Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty announced his intention to resign, you said that the firings were largely Mr. McNulty’s responsibility. Mr. McNulty has said that he had very limited involvement in the decision of which U.S. Attorneys to fire. Please describe all of your interactions with Mr. McNulty related to the replacement of the nine U.S. Attorneys and your understanding of his role in deciding which U.S. Attorneys would be fired. Why has your description of who made the decisions, and who was most involved in the decision-making process, changed over time?

3. While Bradley Schlozman was Acting Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, he approved pre-clearance of a voter photo identification provision from the state of Georgia that has become the focus of extensive criticism about the management of the Department’s voting section. He authorized a National Voter Registration Act suit against the State of Missouri, over the reservations of Todd Graves, then U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, who argued that the case lacked merit. This case was later thrown out of court. Mr. Schlozman admitted before this Committee that he had bragged about hiring Republicans to the Civil Rights Division, and he reportedly advised candidates with Republican political affiliations to remove them from their resumes before applying to the division.

a. Were you aware of these issues when Mr. Schlozman was appointed interim United States Attorney in the Western District of Missouri? How did they affect your decision?

b. After Mr. Schlozman was appointed interim U.S. Attorney in Missouri, he brought indictments against people affiliated with ACORN, a group that supported Democratic candidates and that registered voters, on the eve of a closely contested midterm election in Missouri, despite the contrary policy expressed in the Justice Department’s guidebook on “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses.” Were you aware of this pre-election indictment decision? What was your role in the decision?

4. Recent documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits and reported in the Washington Post indicate that you received reports in 2005 and 2006 of violations in connection with the PATRIOT Act and abuses of National Security Letters (NSLs). These violations apparently included unauthorized surveillance, illegal searches, and improper collection of data. These reports were significant enough to prompt reports to the Intelligence Oversight Board. Yet, when you testified under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in April 2005, you sought to create the impression that Americans’ civil liberties and privacy were being effectively safeguarded and respected, saying “[t]he track record established over the past 3 years has demonstrated the effectiveness of the safeguards of civil liberties put in place when the Act was passed.” Earlier this month, in responses to written questions I sent you on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee about when you first learned of problems with NSLs, you, again, did not mention these earlier reports of problems. Would you like to revise or correct your misleading April 2005 testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, or your July 6, 2007 response to this Committee’s written questions related to these issues?

5. According to news reports and briefings provided by the FBI, the FBI has been conducting an internal audit of its use of National Security Letters that has confirmed the findings of the March 2007 Inspector General report that there was “widespread and serious misuse of the FBI’s national security letter authorities.” Is it your view that there has been widespread and serious misuse of the National Security Letter authority?

6. When you were asked on February 6, 2006 if any senior Justice Department officials, including your former deputy, James Comey, expressed concerns about the Bush Administration’s warrantless electronic surveillance program, you testified: “I do not believe that these DOJ officials . . . had concerns about this program.” Mr. Comey subsequently testified on May 15, 2007 that on March 9, 2004, he informed you, as White House counsel, and others including the Vice President, that the Justice Department had concluded that the Administration’s warrantless electronic surveillance program did not have a legal basis. He testified that you and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card tried to circumvent him, in his role as Acting Attorney General, by rushing to the hospital bedside of ailing former Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to persuade him to certify the program. Please provide a full explanation for the legal authorization for the President’s warrantless electronic surveillance program in March and April 2004.

7. Last year, the Iraq Study Group found that the Iraqi police "cannot control crime, and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including unnecessary detention, torture, and targeted execution of Sunni Arabs civilians.@ They also found evidence of serious police corruption. They called for the Department of Justice to take the lead role in training the Iraqi police force. In January of this year, you reported to the Judiciary Committee that the Department was overseeing hundreds of police trainers in Iraq and Jordan. Last week, the President reported that the Iraqi police had failed, yet again, to meet the Administration's own benchmarks for progress. On the same day as this report, U.S. troops engaged in a gun battle with Iraqi police on the streets of Bagdad, where six Iraqi policemen and seven Shiite gunman were killed defending an Iraqi police lieutenant. On July 13, USA Today reported that a previously undisclosed investigation by the army shows that Iraqi police were directly complicit in a complex insurgent attack on a government compound in Karbala in January that killed U.S. soldiers. What have you, as Attorney General, done to improve the Department’s programs for training Iraqi police over the last six months, what steps have you taken to combat improper political and sectarian influences within the Iraqi police, and what grade would you give yourself for this effort?

8. This Committee recently became aware of a memorandum dated July 10, 2007, and signed by Steven G. Bradbury as “Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General” for the Office of Legal Counsel. It contends that Harriet Miers, who is a former White House Counsel, is “immune from compelled congressional testimony.” Pursuant to what legal authority did Mr. Bradbury issue this memorandum, and how is Mr. Bradbury’s issuance of this memorandum consistent with the Vacancies Act? At the end of the last Congress, Mr. Bradbury’s nomination to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel was returned to the President.

9. The Department’s July 9, 2007, report on its data mining activities raises many questions about the impact of these programs on American’s privacy and civil liberties. In the Judiciary Committee’s hearing earlier this year on privacy and civil liberties implications of government data mining programs, several witnesses concluded that data mining programs are not effective tools for combating terrorism. Has the Justice Department conducted audits or studies demonstrating that its data mining programs, such as the STAR program, are effective tools for identifying potential terrorists?

10. In 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Hometown Heroes law to extend federal survivor benefits to the families of firefighters, police officers, and emergency workers who die of heart attack or stroke in the line of duty. The legislation was intended to create a presumption that the heart attack or stroke was caused by work in the line of duty, unless there was clear evidence to the contrary. However, more than three and a half years after Hometown Heroes became law, the Justice Department has approved only six claims and denied 48 claims out of nearly 260 applications. Many families have been waiting for a decision from the department on their claims since the bill became law in December 2003. Why has the Justice Department taken so long to decide Hometown Heroes claims? Why is there only a three percent acceptance rate for Hometown Heroes claims?

11. Given the Administration’s resistance to congressional oversight, its misleading and self-serving statements, its having denied security clearances to Office of Professional Responsibility investigators reviewing actions taken in connection with the President’s warrantless electronic surveillance program, and the ineffectiveness of other internal review mechanism, such as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the Intelligence Oversight Board, why should Congress or the American people have any confidence in your recent announcement implementing “a significant new national security oversight and compliance effort”?

12. Other Inspectors General can investigate misconduct throughout their agencies. Apparently, the Department of Justice Inspector General suffers under a limitation that restricts his ability to investigation misconduct by you, the Deputy Attorney General, and other senior Department lawyers. Will you agree to the removal of this limitation on the Department of Justice Inspector General so that the Inspector General may investigate misconduct by you, other senior Department of Justice officials, lawyers, and law enforcement agents?

I remind you that any testimony you wish to submit is due at least 48 hours before the hearing. I look forward to your testifying on July 24.



(emphasis mine) hahahahahahaaha

Oh and Royal Air Force jets were dispatched to intercept Russian bombers that were on track to enter British airspace...

Meanwhile Larry Flynt hints that there is another senator on his list of 30 solid leads.... Vitter still hasn't resigned despite his awesome hypocrisy. This was the guy that ran on traditional family values, and anti gay sentiment and said that Bill Clinton should resign. And yet, he was seeing DC and New Orleans hookers, liked to be dressed up in diapers by said hookers and may have fathered a child. I don't care what you do in your personal life, but when you make my personal life into a political football, yours becomes fair game. and so does your hypocrisy. Been in that child's life much, Vitter - how's that for family values?

Oh and here's a word on Bill. Blowjobs from your intern = bad idea. The power dynamic makes it troubling. Is it a high crime and misdemeanor? No. Should he have been impeached? no. Did the Clinton Impeachment sour the American People on impeachment as a legitimate tool of the political process? Yes. Was that the republican plan all along? maybe. should we impeach BushCo for high crimes and misdemeanors? Most definitely. And here's a short list why:

1. Lying to the American people and bringing a phony case to go to war
2. formulating and carrying out an illegal plan to spy and wiretap US citizens
3. extensive violations of the geneva convention, including punishing civilian populations for insurgent attacks and torture
4. gutting habeas corpus
5. concealing news, promoting propaganda to US media sources
6. the designation "enemy combatant"
7. no bid contracts in Iraq that fleece the American public and endanger US lives
8. kidnapping and holding foreign nationals at CIA black sites
9. criminal neglect during Hurricane Katrina
10. refusal to provide information that is vital to investigations carried out by co-equal branches of government
11. unitary executive
12. gutting the bill of rights
13. failing to prosecute the criminal outting of Valerie Plame
14. failing to protect the US from 9/11
15. ceding the presidents wartime powers to a WAR CZAR in contravention of the Constitution
16. etc etc etc.

Week of 7/30

Sorry about the newly instituted security measures. One of the IT guys heard me telling Jen that I have a blog, and now he wants to read it. Except, I don't want him to read it because I talk about all sorts of things here at work that I am not allowed to talk about. Thus, the invite-only blog for awhile.

Meanwhile, I am extremely sore today from a Sunday spent on the water, and the tube and waterskis - combined with a night of little sleep. Due to, what else? The new kitten! Twix, likes to climb the blinds right above our bed. Not only does this make an unholy amount of noise, there is the ever present danger that she will lose her precarious grip and fall, claws extended onto our upturned faces. So you see, I didn't sleep well. Tonight we are instituting a no-pet rule. All the pets will be locked up or locked out.

Also, this weekend, I was struck with an urge to build a cat playpen. I am quite proud of the result, it has three levels and a box on top that the cats can sit in. Whether or not they will be amused with my contraption remains to be seen. At any rate, it gives them a perch to survey the room without being bothered by the dogs.

And today I have encountered a DISCOVERY channel game that you should all play. They tagged real sharks and set them loose off the coast of California. You are part of the game as a virtual boat and crew that track these sharks. You can set your course and your speed etc. Your mission is to encounter the sharks and pick which kinds of interactions you want to have, like one-man, two-man, cage etc. You do not want to get attacked. You get various experience and money from these encounters. Here's the cool part, your boat and the sharks run in real time. So if you set your course to somewhere that it won't get to for three hours in the real world, you won't get there for three hours. And when you have encountered a shark, it's because the shark really was at that location at the same time as your virtual boat. Cool huh? Check it out.

Week of 8/9

This past weekend was Lollapalooza. In stark contrast to Pitchfork, I was not squashed even a little bit even thought there were countless more people attending and the shows were just as high energy. Also, last weekend I noticed an exciting complication to my Lolla tickets....they never charged my credit card...muah hahaha! Haha, error in my favor to the tune of $330. Ha ha ha ha. Oh, and the festival was good. We saw Lady Gaga, Smoosh, Pearl Jam, TV on the Radio, Matt and Kim, !!!, Regina Specktor, Cold War Kids and more that I am forgetting, and more that we heard but did not see.

This week is ungoldly hot, temperatures in the 100s all week? Sounds like a typical August in St. Louis.

We stayed with Cariss in Chicago this past weekend and reminiced fondly about our days at Rosebury with memory aides like her book of chronicles and photo album. She reminded me that I had in fact said to Lauren (who was claiming to be a virgin), "Once you've had a giant DILDO shoved up your cooch, you're pretty much not a virgin!" HA. Rosebury was good times. I miss my roommmates, but as Carissa says, not the dishes.

Meanwhile, in Discovery Channel's Sharkrunner game which I mentioned last week, I got munched....again.

Here's a lesbo movie for you. Amour de Femme, clearly it's french and if you can get over the fact that there is at least a 7 inch height differential between the two main characters, I think you might enjoy it. I know I did.

My sister's 21st birthday was last week. I was the lucky designated driver. But I did enjoy myself and I did enjoy buying drinks for my sister and watching Jen get absolutely hammered. If you think that you can't drink 16 drinks in 4 hours, you would be wrong - because she did...and paid the price for it for three days.

Bush, Cheney and Gonzales still fucking bastards? Check.

And here's another lesbo movie for you - depressing as hell, but very good Aimee and Jaguar. go get it and watch it.


Blogger Roko said...

Hot? Hot!? Try coming down here to Alabama for a bit. Yesterday was the first day in 10 days or so that it didn't break 100°. And I see your fun on the water and raise you 14 hours of search and rescue training. On Lake Tuscaloosa, AL. In August. The high that day was 105°; even during the night search evolution the apparent wind from the boat moving was hot. St. Louis might have been toasty, but down here is downright hot

Oh, and glad to have you back.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Ariela said...

Oh, Ja Lynn, I agree with Roko -- SO glad you're back on the blog scene. Not to mention such a great post!!!! Love the Cariss quotes... We do love that girl, so. But not the dishes.

Yay for benefits and THREE WEEKS vacay! Wowee!

I'm about to go complain to our fake HR person about the discrepancies in my benefits package. i.e. the fact that they've neglected to calculate a month of work last November in my vacation time. Did they think I wouldn't notice that I'm down those hours? Stupid. Stupid.

More posts please! Good luck with your first weeks as an (official) employee!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Audra said...

Hey Ja Lynn, so good to see that you've had a good couple of weeks and that the concerts went well. Please let me know if you want to go with me to a Tori Amos concert this fall (she's touring again, yay!). She'll be in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Lawrence (Kansas City-ish) Kansas.

Congrats on being an "official" employee.

2:22 PM  

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