06/20/12

Fast and Furious

We live in a world of necessary evil. We would have no policy in national security but for it. In almost every such act, we trade life for lives and choose less worse over worst of all. So it’s no surprise that an ATF operation like “Fast and Furious,” intended to trace gun trafficking by Mexican cartels winds up unable to account for 1000 handguns and that some of those unaccounted for weapons kills, in the hands of an unintended owner, one of our own, a US Border and Patrol agent, Brian Terry.

I’m fine with the accountability Congress is currently demanding of DOJ and Attorney General Eric Holder. But, lets not act like this wasn’t a reasonably anticipated consequence. What do you think perennially happens in the Mid East? We routinely get shot by our own weapons. Anytime you’re running in guns, whether for good or bad, some are going to walk.

In local news, one of our own, House Rep. Trey Gowdy is getting some of his first real national exposure arguing over the applicability of the executive privilege now asserted by Attorney General Holder. Gowdy was an attorney here in SC before the House. The applicability of the executive privilege, unfortunately, is precisely the sort of thing I can’t comment on for the nature of my work.

But, drug cartels?? All day e’r day, playa.

Performed by ipoet. Music produced by Jordan Santana.

Today’s song blog here:

Gunwalk

03/26/12

The Stream

Sorry that things have been a little slow. Preparations for TEDxGreenville, in addition to the normal ramping of spring activities, have left me pretty thin. I’m hoping a couple more posts before this Friday’s presentation.

Until then, an oldie from the archives, below, in light of the Supreme Court’s consideration of the health care bill and mandate. Please, please do not read CNN or MSNBC or Fox for your information on it. There are too many expert and original source sites. I recommend this one.

Following CNN for legal analysis is like buying your milk at Bo-Nats. I mean, they’ve got it, but you’re probably getting dysentery.

Performed by ipoetlaureate.  Music produced by Juicebox Jackson.

The Way We Should Die

01/20/12

Frankensteinin’

SOPA winds up being pretty close-to-home-hitting. If you haven’t heard, there is a bill before Congress to give additional law enforcement powers in order to police intellectual property piracy on the internet. Think going to jail for your beach trip YouTube slide show set to Billy Joel’s “These Are the Times to Remember.” On Wednesday, various online sites protested the bill by going black for the day.

But, long before mp3 players and Napster and digital music were ever a twinkle in the panicking public’s eye, hip hop had been wrestling with the ethical and legal issues of digital and intellectual property rights for decades. A culture built on the sonic lifting of data bits, called sampling, understood the beauty and the bravado of attempting to take the work of another and make it your own. Whether the same disco break juggled between two turntable record players or the electronic database of drum hits on a Dr. Sample or the rubbery touch pads of an MPC60, growing up, hip-hop was always taught to share.

So when the rest of the world finally got around to sampling in rock ‘n roll and country western and sharing music files and video over the worldwide web and between their personal electronic devices, without permission, rappers had long been building a kind of collective and borrowed digital art museum for generations, about which no one had ever previously given a flying flip.

Of course, with the proliferation of ways to boost and jack and replicate others’ hard work, record companies and television stations and movie houses and book publishers and the like got sort of cranky about it all. That crankiness has apparently resulted in a pretty serious piece of proposed legislation that threatens the way we’ve grown accustomed to enjoying the internet.

The internet works mostly because it is a free-for-all. It’s like information capitalism. Wikipedia is a shining example. How could an online encyclopedia, which J.D. Wackadoo from your son’s little league team might have contributed to, be more accurate than World Book? Well World Book may have had, let’s be generous, an editorial team of 50 people. Wikipedia has a team of millions. And, for every proffered opinion of Johnny Screwup, Wikipedia enjoys 10 pair of expert eyes trained on that same entry. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, thousands and thousands of really smart people are the payoff for also allowing us doofuses to participate too.

Anyway, it is the culture of collaboration and shared information which makes the internet maybe the most powerful tool ever created (that actually feels an understatement). Where the potter in Nepal and the potter in Appalachia can Skype Raku jokes.

The issue also implicates a philosophical divide. How one sees him or herself. Are you the cumulative, frankensteined product of your family and friends and influences or are you some a priori, self-made island? Do you deflect or claim credit for your success, in whatever measure enjoyed? When we become convinced that we have “made” this or “invented” that or “composed” these, we are confessing an obliviousness to the shoulders of work upon which we actually stand.

Stealing is wrong. In most cases, illegal.

But, when we share ourselves over the internet or otherwise in life, we are celebrating, in the best way, our derivative and common selves. It’s certainly a choice to call such conduct “piracy” and ourselves “thieves” and “robbers.” I suspect, though, doing so will feel something like pirates walking their our own gangplank.

Flip the javascript on ’em, Bonita Applet Bottom . . .

Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

(Little piece of trivia — the beat for today is a remix, by djclutch, of a song I did called Ad Infinitum off my debut solo record Simple Moves (available on itunes). It’s part of a group of remixes djclutch imagined entitled Similar Moves. Appropriate to today’s entry, therefore, I suppose it is a kind of sample of a sample of a sample. Like stealing the same thing three times . . . from yourself. I wouldn’t last a day in jail. I look great in orange. I mean great.)

Today’s song blog here:

Walk the Plank

11/2/11

At Least They Have Great Meatballs

Has anyone else noticed how heavily this site traffics in/relies upon infantile ethnic and cultural stereotyping? Wait until tomorrow. It gets worse.

So, news has come in that Julian Assange, the principle editor of WikiLeaks, has lost his court battle against extradition back to Sweden to face the sexual assault charges pending against him there. I’ve stayed sort of neutral on the propriety of the WikiLeaks service. I see the arguments for and against. Assange is definitely either a creepy or highly contemplative guy, maybe both. Although in the hair I favor one, I’m not an English barrister. But based on the information available, the extradition decision is not any sort of comment on the merits of the pending allegations against him.

I am Order of the Coif, however. (Another brag brag, not to be confused with the more artful humble brag.)

My WikiLeaks blong was one of the first on this site. So, it holds a good deal of sentiment for me in that respect. Plus, it’s over a super fresh Manny beat. The brevity of the copy portion of the post will give you some insight into the evolution of this site in a year’s time. Plus, only like 4 people were following me at that time (2 of whom were being compensated — in personalized rap news songs, of course), so you probably missed it.

Performed by ipoet.  Music produced by DJ M@nwell?

Today’s song blog here:

Top Secret

10/26/11

Drowning in a Puddle

So, they are evacuating Bangkok in anticipation of horrendous flooding. But, every time I’ve done an Act of God song, see,e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here, it sounds like a leftover ballad from Farm Aid. There just isn’t much of an angle beyond, “Wow, this is really sad” and “man, the Earth sure is powerful.” So, I passed. The European Union came to an agreement regarding its debt crisis, and Greece specifically. But, I either missed it earlier or the news did not break until I was essentially done with today’s blong. Plus, a song about European economic policy might make the ladies swoon.

Earlier this afternoon, I had a homeboy message me concerning the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) recent lawsuit against SeaWorld for the enslavement of six Orcas. PETA alleges that their captivity violates the 13th Amendment’s slavery prohibition. As a constitutional matter, specious (although interestingly the Amendment is not circumscribed by words like “person” or “citizen” or “naturalized person/citizen” as is elsewhere found). As a human one, maybe not so much.

I LOVE SeaWorld. I remember, and probably still have, those molded plastic animal sculptures that you’d get out of the ginormous vending machine style dispenser and how they’d still be partially molten when they dropped. I think I had a pink dolphin. We took our kids, probably 4 years ago, and they sweated like little sweet potatoes in the Orlando bunsen burner of a sun but loved every minute. “Shamu” in particular. I mean the divers would literally ride, standing on the nose of the orca under water, until it shot them both high into the air. It was stunning.

So, the issue of animals in captivity is a difficult one. That’s where a lot of them are, really. Captivity. We eat them, domesticate them, wear them, hunt them, mount them. I was sort of enraged over the self-righteous view of many that Michael Vick’s atrocities, and they were unspeakable, were of some different order than the more culturally acceptable ways we casually kill or mistreat animals. For your lunch, let’s say. The chicken farmer didn’t have to have any of the malice or sadism others would project on Vick, for the experience to be just about as awful for the dead chicken as the dog.

So, it seems we tend to judge the humaneness of an act in regards to animals based on (1) our view of the human motives (distinct from the objective pain suffered by the animal) and (2) the capacity of the animal to be conscious of any suffering or harm incidental to, or directly caused by, the activity.

So the “sportsman” is seen as respecting animals because he (or she) hunts by some sort of chivalry code that “honors” the game. Their motives are different than the cock fighter. This was the sort of thing you heard about the Federal Judge who presided over Vick, like he had some moral authority, as a hunter, to condemn Vick for animal abuse.

This is not to disparage hunting. It’s to encourage consistency.

So a place like SeaWorld is hard to condemn. It reasonably sees as an accolade to its credit that the top zoologists, biologists, and animal lovers in their respective fields attend to the creatures it harbors. But, treating well someone you mistreated in the first instance doesn’t seem`very commendable. It’s like punching a friend in the eye and then handing them a top of the line ice pack. Or Tim Tebow mounting an “heroic” come back from the score deficit his own bad play created. (Second appearance of the word “mount” in this post.)

I have no idea how the animals feel about it. PETA is pretty fired up.

The worst part about slavery is that it’s not death. You live the hell, not escape it. In rhetoric, I would steer pretty well clear of associating animal captivity with slavery. We know what human captivity is and their seems to be an injustice in correlating the two.

Even still, to hold animals against their will and out of habitat to the affect of any misery at all seems something less than we should strive for. It’s not really a question of whether we can but whether we should. I believe that over time we can grown in our moral sensibilities. Maybe, we are not obligated to consider the well being of a cow in the same way as we consider our own but if the luxury of our philosophical and moral advancement allows us the intellectual perspective to close the gap on the two, then maybe that’s good.

I’m not ready to shut SeaWorld down. I sure wouldn’t call their activity slavery. But, maybe over time we can choose better.

This is one of those weird nights where I chose a song topic, began writing, and then peered into my library of beats and there was one of almost perfect sonic compatibility. I mean how many beats in the universe have what appear to be whale or dolphin squeals in the background? And, somehow I had one on hand?

Performed by ipoet (d/b/a Tom Lawyer). Topic by Conduct Lionhardt. Music produced by djclutch off his forthcoming Beat Tape ’11 (spoiler alert!).

Today’s song blog here:

No Room

07/8/11

12 Angry Men

My apologies to Nancy Grace. This ain’t her fault.

I didn’t watch a minute of the Casey Anthony trial. Literally, not one. I know the sparest about it. This song blog is not some considered opinion on its outcome. It appears reasonably perceived as wrong.

But, it seems a collective sin that we so consistently relish the sensational and scream for guilt. I don’t know if we fall into fury for the actual loss of the victim’s justice or for some blood thirst. It’s not like we fear Casey Anthony on the streets. And, our 24-hour news cycle of tabloid television doesn’t help. Nancy’s name seems ironic. I mourn for Caylee. But, she’s all good. If there is a God, she’s all good. My greatest lament is for those among us who, in the name of vindication, seem to have no goal but revenge.

The Courts are a violent place. By its nature, the criminal verdict does violence. Oft justified, but violence nonetheless. It rips liberty, and at times, life, from people and families. It is serious business. We should neither hope for it unnecessarily or celebrate it like some birthday party or lottery win.

I’ve never been able to relate to the post-verdict jubilance of a victim’s family. Then again, I’ve never been victimized. But, I suspect that I couldn’t muster much joy. And, maybe theirs is feigned or forced or some sort of mask. I think, mostly, I would despair.

At the same time, knowing how precarious and prone to error our judicial process can be, I could never be confident of any outrage over a failed prosecution. American justice is built on the notion that it is a fundamentally lesser wrong to allow the guilty to walk than the innocent be detained. In suspiscious outcomes like the Casey Anthony trial, we can take solice in two things: (a) punishment could never have redeemed the victim and (b) we have averted the worse hell of a wrongful conviction. That is not to say, “Let them all go.” But, let us not cry with such arrogance, like we know.

Let us be about grace. It is what we would want for ourselves.

Performed by the ipoet. Music produced by dj clutch.

Today’s song blog here:

Nancy Ain't Grace

03/3/11

Of Public Concern

The Supreme Court returned an 8 to 1 decision today, in Snyder v. Phelps, C.A. No. 09-751 (March 2, 2011), which held that members of the Westboro Baptist Church had the constitutional right to picket military funerals to express views of “public concern.”  Public concern is a term of art used to describe highly protected speech that implicates matters which can be fairly considered as relating to political, social, or other community interests.  In this case, the members of Westboro Baptist Church, over a 20 year period of time, have used military funerals as a vehicle to protest and prophesy the judgment of God over the alleged sexual sins of America, principally homosexuality and child abuse in the Catholic church.  The Supreme Court’s decision protected, in the absence of reasonable state law restrictions on the time, place, and manner of such protest, signage that expressed among other and equally horrible things, “America is Doomed”; “Pope in Hell”; “Semper Fi Fags”; and “God Hates You.”

I’ll say two things:

1.  The Supreme Court largely and likely got it right.

2.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

Have pity on us.

Performed by ipoet.  Music produced by dj clutch, of course!

Today’s audio here:

god Hates You

02/3/11

Necessary and Proper

Today’s a first.  Recorded the song on the road.  The ipoet is completely mobile.  So I can now literally be rap blogging in a high speed car chase or burning building. (Assuming there is an non-password protected wireless network nearby.  No, that’s illegal, and I would not do that unless I really, really needed to post some important rap news.)

It’s been a busy week at work, including some late nights.  I’m operating on blong fumes.  (Which is legal in all 50 States by the way.)  But, a second federal judge ruled that the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (healthcare reform) exceeded Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.  See Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2011 WL 285683 (N.D. Fla. Jan. 31, 2011.)

So I figured it was time for a Con Law lecture.  (That’s lawyer slang for Constitutional Law.)  I thought it might also be instructive to briefly describe the panic of first year law school classes as a 1L.  After listening to the song you will actually be only 46 credit hours shy of your law degree from an accredited law school but fully licensed to practice in South Carolina!  I kid, I kid!  I’m licensed and practicing there and none of us received our bar admissions through a rap news website.  I can promise.  University of Phoenix maybe, but not rap news.  That’s ridiculous.

So, while steering shy of any sort of real opinion on the matter, I’ve tried to briefly outline our Commerce Clause jurisprudence and the particular basis of the Florida decision.  As always, both subjects have more nuance than I’d ever care to deliver, or you’d ever care to hear, in a rap song.  Wait, why do I do this site again?

Themes include law professors, Socratic Method bullying, anxiety attacks, a handful of obscure legal decisions, and then a second and a half on Congress’ ability to regulate healthcare reform.

New producer today.  Killed it.

Performed by ipoet.  Music produced by Juicebox Jackson.

The Way We Should Die

09/22/09

Reading Madison’s Mind

Reaction to the Sonia Sotomayor hearings and what might constitute reasonable criteria for confirmation.  Additionally and loosely querying what it means to plunge the “original intent” of the founding father’s private minds as we go about the work of constitutional interpretation, the Federalist Papers notwithstanding.

Performed by ipoet.  Music produced by Harry Krum.

Today’s audio here:

Reading Madison's Mind