Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin Q+A: The (even) Short(er) Version

GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin just answered questions from reporters for the first time as VP candidate (for the record, Joe Biden has met with and taken questions from national and local press 86 times since his nomination). You can read the transcript here. For those of you unwilling to read 4 short questions and answers, here is the short version:

Q: Governor Palin what would you do differently than George Bush with regards to fighting terrorism?
A: Nothing
Q: Will you endorse Sen. Ted Stevens?
A: I'm gonna wait and see how his trial goes first
Q: Will you vote for Sen. Stevens?
A: [does not answer]
Q: What do you think about the bail-out package?
A: I'll support it only after John McCain fixes everything with his magic!

Ok, that last one was LONGER than her actual answer...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Fringe Doesn't Work

And I'm truly sad it doesn't. I like many things about the set-up, and I think the performances being given by Anna Torv and John Noble are actually pretty good. That said, there are several problems, which I think all stem back to one basic issue.

JJ Abrams has clearly never played a role-playing game.

I don't just say that to be a nerd-supremacist. When you play a role-playing game, you learn what makes a character too powerful for the story he or she is in. In role-playing parlance, such a character is called "broken."

Dr. Walter Bishop is very badly broken.

He knows the answer to every mystery, and furthermore he knows these answers based on special knowledge available only to him. Why the hell am I, as a viewer, supposed to be interested in the mysterious substance-on-the-bus or hypergrowth baby or whatever if I know he's just going to look at it and say, "ah yes, I invented this in 1984 and here is how it works."

Compare this to the X-files' Scully and Mulder, who were as much in the dark (if not MORE in the dark) as the viewer was. Hence we could have some connection to them as they solved the mystery.

I also think Fringe proves once and for all that William Gibson's pronouncement on JJ Abrams, that he is not "a native science-fiction mind." The technological melange Fringe presents doesn't make any sense, share any central theme, or tap into any key anxiety about the path of our contemporary society. The anxiety that "science and technology are getting out of hand" doesn't cut it. If that were the thesis of an undergraduate essay turned in to me I would hand it back marked "too vague! revise!" Mary Shelly was concerned about "science and technology getting out of hand" so was William Gibson, but they wrote very different (and equally great) books because they had much more specific concerns based their particular historical moments, and personal interests.

All THAT said, I may well continue to watch the show. Why? I'm a mystery junkie. Show me a weird macguffin and I'm likely to just watch along to see where you are going with it, even if I think you are full of crap. In fact sometimes that will make me even more likely to watch, as I attempt to answer the question "will they really go there?"

And this, dear readers, is probably how JJ Abrams got to where his is today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Networks and Narratives

Someone I went to high school with died this week. He was a Marine, killed on convoy duty while serving in Afghanistan.

He was no one I knew well. I have only a vague memory of him, and of the girl who, the article marking his death in my hometown paper tells me, became his wife.

The article in the paper, which I will not link to here, since I don't know if the deceased or his family would approve of what I am about to say, gives a short outline of the dead Marine's life over the decade since I was acquainted with him. I could not help but be struck by how sharply our lives had diverged over the course of those ten years. He had three children, the oldest of which would have been born when he and I were both twenty years old. I, at the time, was drinking too much, playing Dungeons and Dragons and Half-Life for hours on end, and trying to learn how to become a fiction writer. The most difficult thing in my life was probably waking up for my 9:30am Spanish class, which I earned a C in because of my absenteeism. Meanwhile, my former classmate was training to be a Marine, and becoming a father.

The wars my classmate served in (he was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan) were for me largely media events. I remember the shaky video images of bombers over Afghanistan in the first days of that war, the triumphant reports of our warlord allies sweeping the Taliban from power in what seemed a classic, lopsided American victory. I was in a class on Faulkner at the time, taught by a complete blowhard of a professor who shall remain nameless. The professor was actually much like Faulkner, a man frustrated by the fact that he was a man with only scant experience with violence living in a culture that equates violence with masculinity. He loved to repeat stories to the class about his few fleeting encounters with physical confrontation. In particular, he claimed to have once been shot at - though he wouldn't give the circumstances - and to have confronted what he believed to be a ghost with a loaded shotgun. It took me a long time to realize he was a windbag and a very sad and incomplete man, probably because I shared many of his insecurities as a 22 year old manchild who had never so much as thrown a punch in anger, though I had spent countless hours in dazzlingly detailed simulations of armed conflict. The professor and I traded quips on war, violence, "human nature." Sometimes I corrected his military nomenclature, "no, no Professor, that would be an assault rifle, not a submachine gun."

Meanwhile, my classmate would have been in Base Housing somewhere, with his wife and his 2 year old, knowing what all this meant for them. I wonder, what did he feel? Was he excited to be called to do the duty he had volunteered for? Was he afraid? Would I really have been able to understand his feelings, if he had told me about them?

I remember watching the first day of the Iraq war on the dorm room floor of a young woman I was hopelessly, unrequitedly in love with (still a victim of unrequited love! how childish! my classmate's second child had been born by then) as the great sticks of bombs fell on Baghdad, sending spouts of fire into the sky. The young woman and I talked about politics, history, the great waste of it all. My major concern was demonstrating to her how wise, carefully considered, and impeccably humane my political positions were, in the vain hope this would win her heart. A few days prior to this, or perhaps it was afterwards, I can't remember, I participated in one of the handful of Anti-war protests that was held at my school, a mid-size liberal-arts University in the SUNY system. At one point, I accidentally threw up the heavy-metal rocker's devil horns instead of the hippy's peace sign. Later, I would find myself leading the chorus of chanting, booming out the ancient, overused call "What do we want?" and receiving back from the crowd around me "Peace!" I remember sensing the power and pleasure that came from using my voice this way, the ease with which I discovered I could project my words through the small crowd and the electricity I felt when they responded to them. It was then that I began to sense that I wanted to teach (and loudness, sheer force of vocal presence, remains a primary tool of mine in the classroom, to this day).

I cannot be sure where my classmate was during all this. The brief newspaper article does not give me enough enough information to say for sure. Since he was a Marine, and served two tours in Iraq, there would seem to be a good chance he was in Kuwait, waiting for the Air Force to do its job and the ground war to start. Would he have been speaking or listening while he waited for the orders to cross the border? He attained the rank of Sergeant by the time of his death. Would he have already had a position of responsibility by the Winter of 2003? Would he have been responsible for organizing a platoon or a squad, reassuring them and advising them as they faced uncertain times ahead? Or would he have only been sitting and listening while generals boomed out orders and enthusiasm, and Lieutenants presented assignments and objectives.

I do not compare my life to my classmate's life, now ended, to criticize my own academic life as shallow shallow, cynical, or "unreal" while romanticizing his family life and service as "authentic" and meaningful. Only to point out how we built our lives out of (and were ourselves built by) two profoundly different networks of deeply interlinked things, ideas and people. In my case, the academy, my colleagues, a great raft of books, a thousand forms of media. In his case, many of the same things (note the iPods so often present in videos and pictures sent by by troops in Iraq) but all connected with the institution of the Marine Corps, his family, and of course the opposing network of people, ideas and things (call it what you will, international terrorism, Afghan resistance, whatever) that ultimately took his life.

These networks are complicated, and vast. Everything in them is profoundly active, nothing is passive, just transmitting effects from point A to point B. (To give credit where credit is due, without junking things up with unneeded academic-ese, I'm drawing here off of the "Actor-Network theory" of Bruno Latour). Neither my life, nor my classmate's, was entirely determined by technology, by politics, by the economy, nor by the stories we as humans tell ourselves about these processes in order to make sense of them. Rather, all play a role. A sudden trauma, like death in wartime, makes it easier, perhaps, to recognize the complex play of interlocking networks. Who can doubt that the roadside bomb, that the sniper, speaks? Who can refute that technology, society, human agency, all help to compose their utterances? Is it not clear that both I, and my classmate's family, will try to make meaning of this, and that our meanings may be profoundly different?

A few day ago, I wrote about a political blog started by a colleague of mine, a project I still hope to contribute to. He has called his blog, Its the Narrative Stupid. As a fellow humanities scholar, he wants to make salient the central role of narrative, that key process of meaning-making, in our political life. I agree completely. I only want to point out, through this long and probably far too wordy exercise, that narratives are always located in networks, and that while they touch every part of that network (and vice-versa) they are not synonymous with it (Baudrillard not withstanding). The map may be the only way we may know the territory, but it is not the territory.

This is something I think we are generally aware of as scholars, I'm certainly not accusing my colleague of making this mistake, but only pointing out that we must walk a careful line. We are right to argue for the importance and power of symbols, but we must guard against letting them float free from the Networks they always circulate in. When we forget that Narratives have networks attached to them, we lose resources we need to understand how those who exist in Networks quite different from our own may be making meaning. This, I think, may have dire political consequences. I am not saying that we must bow to the meanings others have made, only that we must understand what those meanings are and how they are working within their networks if we are to be able to talk to them, to share our ideas with them, and to expand our coalitions. This, ultimately, is the only way (IMHO) to successfully advocate one's position within a Democracy.

If You Know Union Members who are thinking of Voting for John McCain

Please show them this:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Things Andy Finds Fascinating Chapter 1,493

In which a Japanese shipping company gives a Panamax Roll-On-Roll-Off of car-carrying vessel a name which would seem to befit a country-western Album.

Presented for your approval: the Texas Highway a 17,000 ton vehicle carrier in the service of Taiyo Nippon Kisen Co. LTD. of Kobe, Japan. Her sister ships include the more internationally flavored Tianjin Highway and Baltic Highway as well as the Indiana Highway and Kentucky Highway which sound like they could be a Springsteen album and a Bob Denver album, respectively.

I just find all of this a fascinating example of the multicultural melange of mixed-up symbols our late-capitalist culture serves up in the even in the most mundane and under-examined spaces. A mix of symbols in which even historically powerful "western" culture can be re-mixed and re-contextualized.

Oh and when the container ship in the next lock over pulled forward two frames after this one, she revealed herself to be the Maersk Dallas.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hypertext formatting a Public Domain document

I've taken a stab at starting the project I described in my last post: creating a hyperlinked version of a public domain text. I've added the text of John Locke's Two Treatises of Government to the wikibooks project where it can have links to wikipedia articles and other gloss material added to it.

You can check it out here. Any help would be much appreciated.

Project Idea

Does anyone know of any project working to convert public-domain e-books (like those available from Project Gutenberg) into a wikipedia-like hypertext format? That is to say, into a format where proper nouns, references, and terms the reader might not immediately know are linked to some resource (wikipedia entry, original source, etc) that might help the reader gain a better understanding? I love how this has been done with the Orwell Prize online adaptation of Orwell's diaries. Just think of how useful it would be with a dense philosophical or historical text. We all end up searching wikipedia for the references anyway.

If no one knows of a project like this already ongoing, would anyone want to help start one?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blog Bifurcation

Actually more like trifurcation. I'm trying to sort out my academic, personal and political blogging. Personal stuff, my take on various bits and pieces of pop culture, reflextions on quotidian existence, will remain here on greatconcavity. I'm biting the bullet and starting a dissertation blog with the same title as my dissertation, Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians, where I will be posting fragments of my ongoing dissertation. Finally, the next time I have something I think is worth saying about the current election cycle or US electoral politics in general, I'm going to try to put it up on It's The Narrative, Stupid a new political blog organized by a colleague and twitter-buddy.

See you around the internets.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dumb Like a Fox

I assume by now we've all seen this:

and we're ready to get to work spreading the meme.Sarah Palin is unready to be Vice President! She didn't even know what the Bush Doctrine is! What a dummy.

I'm not sure that's going to work. Here's why:

What it looks like the Republicans are going for with the Palin love-fest is the same sort of identity politics they always play. They want white suburban, exurban, and rural America to look at Palin and say, "hey she's a member of my community, she's like me!"

Thus, when media outlets and liberal commentators pick out Palin's flaws, a large, powerful segment of the electorate hears the media picking on them. Race, religion, and other crude markers of identity are clearly central to this trick, but when the criticism pertains to issues of knowledge or intelligence, I think there is an additional factor in play that renders this trick particularly effective. Forms of knowledge, skill and intelligence possessed by great swaths of the electorate have been devalued by the corporate de-skilling and outsourcing of work. Thus, these voters are already primed to react defensively to the proclamations of "elites" possessed of knowledge that the market, and our larger society, still grants some value and tokens of respect.

The great trick of the GOP, of course, has been to turn this defensiveness into a weapon to bludgeon exactly those people who might try to blunt the worst effects of this capitalist process of de-valuing the knowledge and skills of working people. The Dems try to point this out, but of course, since the corporations ARE the media, they are always fighting an uphill battle (and the fact that they themselves dare not directly confront capitalism doesn't help any).

My suggestion? Leave the gaffes alone. Concentrate on the war with Russia stuff. By next week the Obama campaign should have ads in heavy rotation repeating Palin's statement that she would "go to war with Russia" and playing it over stock footage of the Crossroads-Baker Atomic test. Basically the "Daisy" ad all over again. Would it be a little dirty? Sure, but to hell with it, they've been waaaay dirtier than that and paid no price for it. If Obama's goal is to lose with a clean conscience, he should think about the very real, very terrible effects a McCain/Palin administration ticket would have on the country.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'd just like to point out

That by Heart's own admission, the titular character of the song "Barracuda" is not really supposed to be a good person. Submitted into evidence, these lyrics, the only ones repeated during the course of the song:

If the real thing dont do the trick
You better make up something quick
You gonna burn burn burn burn it to the wick
Ooooooh, barracuda?
Yes, the GOP has stolen a song about a habitual liar to brand their VP candidate. Who is a habitual liar. Wow.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Kick-Ass Obama Ad

YES! Its like my point 4 below with the Unhealthy Politically Induced Rage(TM) removed. Nice! I want to know if anybody see these up on the air. We gave 'em the money, now they better spend it.

Dear America: WTF? An Open Letter

Yes, time for another open letter from me. Because I'm very fond of my own opinion. This one goes out to the Electorate to the US of A

Dear America*,

The polls currently suggest you are responding to the recent ad campaign (referred to in the press by its trade name "convention") staged by the Republican party. I would like to ask you one, simple question:


I have always prided myself on standing up for democracy, for advocating for popular sovereignty, but this really shakes my faith to the core. Here's why. The McCain campaign is based on a number of lies totally removed from anything resembling reality. Lies so stunningly untrue that if you believe them, voters of America, I will be forced to seriously reconsider the notion that you are capable of making an informed decision about where to go for lunch, much less who should control the nation. Let me enumerate these lies here:

1. Non-existent American Oil: Ok seriously folks, seriously NO ONE believes there is enough Oil in the US to make even a teeny-tiny dent in Gasoline prices. Even the Republican politicians admit that, when they aren't saying misleading things about "energy independence" in front of cheering crowds. Furthermore, continuing Oil consumption at our current rate endangers the global climate and ensures continued dependence on that political bug-a-boo "foreign oil." See, even if we did increase domestic production in the short-term, in the long-term those supplies run out (remember they aren't very big) and, since price incentives never drove us to reduce consumption, we're back at the Saudi spigot. "Drill baby Drill" is the most blatantly false mantra an American political party has embraced, possibly ever. It promises you, the American voter, that you will be able to continue your way of life unchanged if we just sweep the environmentalists out of the way and let the Oil industry off the leash. This is untrue. The Gasoline economy is coming to an end, the hard physical limits of size of existing oil reserves and the ability of the atmosphere to absorb CO2 make that an inescapable reality. Our only choice is to run off the edge of this cliff full-speed or start thinking about how to make a controlled landing. Furthermore, how much less of a leash do you think we can really give the Oil industry. Have you not noticed the Oil-Man-In-Cheif we've had for the past 8 years?

2. Non-Existent Tax Cuts/Non-Existent Tax-Hikes: Let me make this perfectly clear. Barack Obama will only raise taxes on people making $250,000 a year or more. How many times does he have to say this? And he'll only raise them back to the level they were paying taxes under the Clinton administration, you know, those 8 terrible years of peace and prosperity. So the next time you hear McCain say "Barack Obama wants to raise your taxes" I want you to ask yourself "do I make $250,000 a year?" and if the answer is "no", just tell yourself "he isn't talking to me, he is talking to some McMansion owning rich fuck I can't stand." Either that or he is, you know, lying.

3. Non-Existent Job Creation Plan: McCain insists, insists that his plan to give giant tax breaks to Very Wealthy People(TM) will "create jobs." Newsflash America, this is the exact tax scheme we've had for the last eight years. The same one! With the same plan, let the rich become ultra-rich and they will bestow their prosperity on all of us through the magic of trickle-down economics. How well has that been working out for us so far, eh? Am I the only one who noticed that unemployment jumped UP recently? Cutting taxes on the rich is not a job-creation plan. Scratch that, it is a job creation plan, but it isn't one that will work.

4. Non-Existent Reformer Credentials: If I hear a major media outlet call John McCain a "maverick" one more time I'm going to hit my head into a wall until I pass out. I swear to God, America, you watch me. John McCain has voted with President Bush 90% of the time during his administration. He has endorsed all of the President's major policies in his own policy proposals. Sure, he has his name on a major piece of campaign finance reform legislation, but that was only AFTER he was investigated in a major scandal involving a campaign donor that apparently tapped senators he had given multi-million dollar contributions to for favors. Handy way to clear your name after being caught with your hand in the cookie jar, huh? Don't even get me started on why calling Sarah Palin a "reform" candidate is a laughable notion. Ok, now I'm started, so how about this list: her close relationship with corrupt Alaska senator Ted Stevens, her blatant gaming of Federal earmarks to win $12 million in federal money for an Alaska town with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, her support for the so-called "bridge to Nowhere" before it became a political hot-potato (she literally had a T-shirt supporting it), her blatant cronyism and disregard for professional employees while running Wasilia... see! I told you not to let me get started.

Well, there you have it, America, a few of the Big Lies of this election cycle. Could I enumerate more? Probably, but I really need to get back to work now.

Please, don't buy into this crap. Show me democracy is not a horrible, farcical mistake? Please?



*Sorry Canada - it just has a better ring to it than "Dear United States"**
** Additional apologies to Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, Falkland Islands, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela - props to Colin, who apparently has been playing that "name the countries" game on

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Andy's Linux Hacks for NOOBs - Phun with screensavers edition

I'm more-or-less a novice user when it comes to linux. I'm pretty proud of having put together the little hack I'm about to describe, but I realize it is kid stuff for those of you who administer commercial grade servers and write kernel patches and stuff. Still, I thought I would share what I did for the benefits of my fellow NOOBs who might find the information useful. Sharing is what FOSS is all about, right?

I've always been fascinated by the variety of real-time and near-real-time information you can access with a networked PC. I remember the first time I found a Full-Disk GOES image on the web. I was amazed, there was the "big blue marble" of the earth, just like in the famous images from the Apollo Missions (except in black-and-white and higher resolution) and I was seeing it as it appeared just a few hours ago! Since then, I've discovered a variety of live or almost-live feeds of interesting images, like the Kennedy Space Center launch pad, or weather radar images, images from traffic cameras on local highways, or from the SOHO satellite monitoring the sun.

Yesterday it struck me that I had all the tools I needed to set up my Linux desktop box (running Ubuntu 8.04) to automatically download images from these feeds and display them as my screensaver. Here's how I did it.

Ubuntu ships stock with a screensaver called glslideshow that displays a slideshow of image files on the screen. I decided to use this to display my images. First I had to modify the settings for the glslideshow screensaver to pull images from a directory other than its default and to forgo panning and zooming the images it displayed. Sadly, Gnome doesn't give you an easy way to do this from the GUI just yet, so I had to go in and edit a couple of config files. First I had to modify the glslideshow config file to get it to display the images the way I wanted to. This file is located at:

The line of this file beginning with:

gives the options that the glslideshow screensaver program will be executed with. I set mine to:
Exec=glslideshow -root -duration 5 fade 1 -zoom 100
Which basically tells the program to show images for 5 seconds at a time with a 1 second crossfade between them, and to display the images at 100% screensize, which prevents any panning or zooming effects. You can read the man page for glslideshow to learn more about the options if you want.

For some reason, to set the location the screensaver will use as the source for its images, you have to edit a different file. This file is called .xscreensaver and is located in your home directory. You may or may not have one. If you have one edit it. If you don't have one, create one. In any event add this line to .xscreensaver:
imageDirectory: [Path to Files]
Substitute the location you want to use to store your files for [Path to Files] I used a subdirectory in my home directory so I used
imageDirectory: /home/MyUserName/Pictures_For_Screensaver

Once you get that set up, throw a couple images into the directory you are going to use and go to the "screensaver" entry under the "preferences" menu and enable the glslideshow screensaver to give it a test run. It should randomly display your test images on the screen.

Next, I set up my machine to download images from my sources at set intervals. To do this I used the program crontab, which tells the computer to execute a specified command at a specified time, to automatically run the program wget, which fetches a file from the internet.

You set up crontab by writing a text file with entries that tell the computer when you want it to execute a given command. This can be a little tricky to understand at first. I'm not going to go into detail about how to use crontab. It is a very powerful little program. If you want detailed instructions on its general use, go here. For our purposes, all we need to know is how to set it up to issue our wget commands at regular intervals. You do this by creating a text file and adding lines in this format
*/[Number of Minutes Between Downoads] * * * * wget -O [Path_to_File/Filename] [URL of File to Download]

Ok, what does all that mean? It means that to tell crontab to have wget grab the file at and save it to /home/User_Name/Pictures_for_Screensaver every 30 minutes you add a line reading
*/30 * * * * wget -O /home/User_Name/Pictures_for_Screensaver/gevs.jpg

What's the deal with all those "*" symbols? Its complicated. Seriously, read this or take my word for it, you need 'em.

Add a line to the file for each of your image sources. Have the computer grab more frequently updated images more often, and less frequently updated images less often. I ended up grabbing images from the following sources:

Which gives me an interesting mix. Some local webcams, some silly stuff, a couple of satellites, weather radar...

Once you have your text file done, save it as a plain text file under any filename you like. I saved mine as "cronfile." Then issue the following command from the command line:
crontab [filename]
Replace [filename] with the name of the text file you created.

And voila! Your own auto-updating webcam screensaver! I'm watching mine right now. It is showing me traffic on I475 in toledo and the slow march of the "crawler" vehicle bringing the space shuttle to the launch pad at Kennedy, as well as the most recent GOES and SOHO images, local weather radar, and the current Aurora activity forcast from the space weather center.

Useful? Time will tell. A nerdy thrill from having a "magic window" out on various parts of the Earth and Outer Space? Hells yes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Post-Modern Meta-Irony

Art collective monochrom continues their attempts at culture jamming:

The thing that makes this really interesting is the context. has been one of the most visible sites distributing monochrom's work. Yet BoingBoing is a site with a strong libertarian bent - sometimes trending towards anarcho-capitalist. So the video above - which is a monochrom project distributed via BoingBoing's "BoingBoing TV" - ends up being a truly weird hybrid: art collective members commenting on the difficulty of being subversive under a late-capitalist regime that relentlessly transforms speech into commodity, interspersed with ads hawking the Microsoft corporation's new "crowdsourced music platform."

What I can't decide is, who wins in this exchange?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Amy Goodman Arrested

They arrested radio journalist Amy Goodman in Minneapolis today. This, after days of random raiding of homes and meeting places of peaceful protesters. What has this country come to? Do we arrest journalists for the crime of covering the news now? This is unacceptable. As has become my habit, I wrote the Obama camp to complain and ask for action. I doubt I will get any, but I had to try.

Here is what I wrote:

Dear Senator Obama,

I know, you get too much mail from me. This one is important.

Senator, they just arrested an independent journalist, the well known and widely respected Amy Goodman, in Minneapolis. The actions that have been taken by the police in that city in the days leading up to the RNC: rounding up peaceful protesters on vague warrants, raiding meeting places in force with guns drawn, and now arresting a journalist who was covering a news event, are unacceptable. Senator, you have the eye of the media. You can speak out against these excesses and the nation will hear you.

Senator, I understand that the conventional wisdom is that you must stand silently by while the Minneapolis police shred the first amendment by disrupting American Citizens trying to exercise their First Amendment rights to free assembly and freedom of the press. I understand that politics as usual would say that speaking out against these excesses would make you look "weak" on crime, or terror, or something...

Senator, saying nothing here makes you look weak on protecting our constitutional rights. Are we to understand that this is what we have come to in the United States of America? That we now arrest journalists for the crime of covering the news?

Please speak out. Please reassure the nation that this is not your vision of what the United States should be.

Thank You.