Sunday, August 30, 2009

So long, it's been good to know you

Here's a picture of Teddy Kennedy no one has seen before:

Pam's dad took it in Superior, Wisconsin in 1961 when Teddy was on the stump for his brother's Presidential campaign. On the back is written:
April 1961
Ted Kennedy with Ed Gagnon & family
taken by Jim Corcoran
From wikipedia:
His seven weeks spent in Wisconsin helped his brother win the first contested primary of the season there, and similar time spent in Wyoming was rewarded when a unanimous vote from that state's delegates put his brother over the top at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

Teddy was flawed, as the right-wingers keep pointing out. But I'm pretty sure he really cared about people. Why else would he work as a Senator when he had family money, and why else would he fight for things like universal health care, instead of enriching corporations and giving his family tax cuts.

So long, Teddy.

Update and corrections:

Clearly, in '61, Jack Kennedy was no longer campaigning because he had already won. Thus, Teddy wasn't stumping anymore.

And the picture was taken (as Pam corrected me) after her family had already moved to Riverside, CA. Ed Gagnon was a part-time employee of her dad.

So the whole Wisconsin quote above is barely interesting and not at all relevant. Still, it's a cool personal picture of Teddy Kennedy.

What? Me Torture?

What? Me Torture?

He was a friend of mine

Teddy Kennedy sent a letter to Pope Benedict "Joey Ratz" XVI recently. It went something like this:
Most Holy Father, I asked President Obama to personally hand-deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him.

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God's blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life.

I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family. And both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provided solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith, I have tried to right my path.

I want you to know, Your Holiness, that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States senator.

I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I'm committed to doing everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.

The Pope, being the Christian symbol & example that he is, went all out and sent a reply through, well, someone:
The Holy Father has read the letter which you entrusted to President Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spirtual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of our universal church.

His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the risen savior to all who share in his sufferings and trust in his promise of eternal life.

Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord.

Nice. Class act from a guy who wants us to forget that he was HitlerJügend.

Craig Crawford from MSNBC sums it up well in his Twitter updates this afternoon:
  1. Bear says "Were Sen. Kennedy a disgraced priest who needed shelter from police he would have gotten direct response"..
  2. Humble letter hand delivered to the Pope by Prez gets a 3d person response? Ted did more for real people than Benedict..
  3. My guess is that in 50 years more people will visit Ted Kennedy's grave than Pope Benedict's, and for good reason. The Vatican just blew it.
  4. How could the Pope not personally respond to Ted's amazing letter? What a jerk! Ted wins the moment. He's the one in God's hands now.
  5. Vatican dissed Ted all along, a ltr underling doesn't help.He 's a better man than the Pope. @KristiIA .I'm glad the priest read the ltrs
  6. Ted Kennedy turned out to be a bigger man than the Pope.
  7. So, at the last minute the Vatican figured they had better treat Ted well, but the Pope himself couldn't be bothered.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Mommy don't worry now teddy boys here

We've lost the one sure vote for health care reform in the Senate:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77 .

Teddy wasn't perfect, clearly no one is. Yet he chose to leverage his family's wealth and position into a career of public service. And while he had many flaws and missteps, he had found his stride in recent years, being a champion of health care reform in the truest sense, so that the 46 million or more Americans with no access to health care might join in the American dream.

As usual, the far right Free Republic loves them some Liberal death:
Ted Kennedy is dead
The bar is open!
Drinks on the house!
Its PARTAY time

This damn traitor lived far to long.

Mary Jo: “Hey Teddy. See this button? It has only one direction: DOWN! Step right in!”

It appears that as long as a murderer of millions of people is an American, he is “great.” The glowing tribute from George H.W. Bush is stomach-turning.

The death of Ted Kennedy is no more an occasion for mourning and tributes than the death of Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao.

There is no indication of repentance for his career of lies, murder, theft, and oppression.

His funeral will almost certainly take place at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Boston, from where Rose Kennedy was buried, unless for some reason the family desires a “state” funeral in Washington. In any case, the orgy will be broadcast, hundreds of pro-abortion Catholics will slither forward to receive Communion on camera. Archbishop Sean O’Malley will crouch in a linen closet for a week, until the funeral is over.

You get the idea. this is why bipartisan debate is impossible. As usual, the signal-to-noise ratio for the right-wing drops below intelligible levels.


Addendum by The Sailor:>"the signal-to-noise ratio for the right-wing drops below intelligible levels."

Interesting, but understandable, you would phrase it that way.

My current work is in processing noisy images acquired thru translucent membranes in the retina via slightly fluorescing parts of the retina. Each image is dark. But when I align them, register them, and average them, I can clearly see the pathology. It takes time and many samples.

I've applied the same algorithms to the republican reaction to Ted Kennedy's death.

Each image is dark, but after processing them the hate shines thru. Oddly enough I thought it was just noise too, turns out the signal is loud and clear.

Noise always cancels out over time, the same frequency just amplifies.

BTW, their 'facts' are always wrong, Kennedy's service won't be at St. Stephen’s, it will be at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. That's where he went to pray when his daughter, Kara, was undergoing treatment for lung cancer at Dana-Farber Hospital.

Bugle Call Rag

Stars and Stripes, the well known leftist Pentagon funded newspaper [/snark] has donesome excellent work on the following story. Check out the timeline:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009:Army bars Stars and Stripes reporter from covering 1st Cav unit in Mosul

Asserting that Stars and Stripes “refused to highlight” good news in Iraq that the U.S. military wanted to emphasize, Army officials have barred a Stripes reporter from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division that is attempting to secure the violent city of Mosul.

Officials said Stripes reporter Heath Druzin, who covered operations of the division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team in February and March, would not be permitted to rejoin the unit for another reporting tour because, among other things, he wrote in a March 8 story that many Iraqi residents of Mosul would like the American soldiers to leave and hand over security tasks to Iraqi forces.
Additionally, Col. Gary Volesky, the 3rd Brigade’s commander, asserted that Druzin “would not answer questions about stories he was writing.”
Maybe it's just me, but I seem to remember a “goddamned piece of paper” saying something about freedom of the press.

Now fast forward a few weeks.
Monday, August 24, 2009:Journalists' recent work examined before embeds

U.S. public affairs officials in Afghanistan acknowledged to Stars and Stripes that any reporter seeking to embed with U.S. forces is subject to a background profile by The Rendon Group, which gained notoriety in the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq for its work helping to create the Iraqi National Congress. That opposition group, reportedly funded by the CIA, furnished much of the false information about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion.

Rendon examines individual reporters’ recent work and determines whether the coverage was “positive,” “negative” or “neutral” compared to mission objectives, according to Rendon officials. It conducts similar analysis of general reporting trends about the war for the military and has been contracted for such work since 2005, according to the company.
Notice there is nothing about accuracy in their standards.

But wait, there's more!
Thursday, August 27, 2009: Files prove Pentagon is profiling reporters

Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”
“They are not doing that [rating reporters], that’s not been a practice for some time — actually since the creation of U.S. Forces–Afghanistan” in October 2008, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters Monday. “I can tell you that the way in which the Department of Defense evaluates an article is its accuracy. It’s a good article if it’s accurate. It’s a bad article if it’s inaccurate. That’s the only measurement that we use here at the Defense Department.”
But the Rendon profiles reviewed by Stars and Stripes prove otherwise. One of the profiles evaluates work published as recently as May, indicating that the rating practice did not in fact cease last October as Whitman stated.

And the explicit suggestions contained in the Rendon profiles detailing how best to manipulate reporters’ coverage during their embeds directly contradict the Pentagon’s stated policies governing the embed process.
“It’s troubling that the military is contracting a private PR firm, paid with U.S. taxpayer dollars, to profile individual reporters,” said one servicemember who declined to be identified for fear of official retribution. “It shows utter contempt for the Constitution, which we in the service pledge our lives to defend.”
And if you call now you'll receive:
Friday, August 28, 2009:Pentagon: Reporter profiling under review

Under fire following revelations that a military command in Afghanistan is compiling profiles of reporters covering U.S. military operations, Pentagon officials acknowledged Thursday that they were reviewing the practice even as they maintained that they were not making use of “positive,” “negative” and “neutral” grades assigned to reporters’ work by a Pentagon contractor.
[Pentagon spokesman Bryan] Whitman told Pentagon reporters that he was inquiring about the issue, but he added that the Pentagon is not launching any formal inquiry to the matter.

“I haven’t seen anything that violates any policies, but again, I’m learning about aspects of this as I question our folks in Afghanistan,” Whitman said. “If I find something that is inconsistent with Defense Department values and policies, you can be sure I will address it.”
“USFOR-A has only used this information to in part help assess performance in communicating information effectively to the public,” USFOR-A spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks told Stars and Stripes in an e-mailed statement. “These reports do not ‘rate’ reporters or news outlets themselves, nor do we keep any reports on individual reporters other than personal information, name, passport or ID number, media outlet, etc….”

Shanks also contended that the compiling of the reporters’ profiles was halted in May of this year.

But those claims run counter to the actual media profiles, the existence of which Stars and Stripes revealed earlier this week. The profiles contain ratings and pie charts purporting to depict whether an individual reporter’s work is “positive,” “negative” or “neutral,” as well as advice on how best to place a reporter with a military unit to ensure positive coverage and “neutralize” negative stories.

One Pentagon correspondent who requested and received her profile on Thursday said it included her current work up through July.
Riiiight, they never did it, and if they did do it they've stopped doing it, and if they did do what they said they didn't do and stopped doing they're still doing it and even tho they're reviewing what they didn't do they're not investigating it.

"Confused? You won't be, after this week's episode of...Soap"
Saturday, August 29, 2009: Army used profiles to reject reporters

The secret profiles commissioned by the Pentagon to rate the work of journalists reporting from Afghanistan were used by military officials to deny disfavored reporters access to American fighting units or otherwise influence their coverage as recently as 2008, an Army official acknowledged Friday.
Congratulations to the Stars and Stripes for their work in exposing lies from the Pentagon and maintaining the 4th Estate promise of keeping government honest. Unlike the stenographers of the corporate media, they did their jobs. There should be a Pulitzer in their future.

(You can go here to learn more about the history of Stars and Stripes.)

And now, the title song of this post starts at about 1:10:

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


JustUs Scalia has stated that the state murdering innocent people is Constitutional:(warning PDF)
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent.
While no one is innocent, some folks are not guilty of the crimes they've been charged with. To date, 241 people have been exonerated and released.

I question whether someone who is innocent of the crime, but has been convicted and sentenced to DEATH, has had a 'full and fair trial.'

Now, for some brain bleach:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Baby Just Wrote Me A Letter

New letter found in lobbying scandal

A congressional investigation has turned up yet another fraudulent letter sent to U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, this one forged to appear as if it was sent by the Senior Center in Albemarle County in opposition to climate change legislation.
The latest forgery brings the total number of bogus letters sent to Perriello and two other congressmen to 13, representing a total of nine community groups in Charlottesville and in Pennsylvania.

All of the letters were sent by a Washington “grassroots” lobbying firm on behalf of a pro-coal advocacy group
in mid-June and urged the congressmen to vote in opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
Bonner has told other media organizations that the fake letters were sent by a temporary, part-time employee who they say has been fired.
Yeeeess, a temp sent out all these letters, on all their own. And just because Bonner et al have a history of this is no reason to think that they are responsible.

And just because the major coal companies agreed on starting a PAC (RICO anyone?) and hired a lobbyist firm known for ginning up astroturf that sent out these fake letters (mail fraud anyone?) is no reason to think that they did it on purpose.

I've no doubt they'll have their own investigation and find out they're not at fault.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Put another candle on your birthday cake

I meant to post this yesterday, 8/18, so please pretend it's still Tuesday...

H.R. 'Ruth' Anderson would have been 83 today. Had she still been around, her kids, grandkids, in-law kids & grandkids, and various others would have called and wished her Happy Birthday.

We all likely would have gotten together either last Sunday, or next Sunday to celebrate August birthdays, at a fun family-oriented restaurant. We would have laughed, caught up on what we all were doing, and all celebrated Mom's latest birthday.

Fate often has a way of intervening, however, and Mom isn't around anymore. This is her first birthday without her. She was, and still is, loved and missed every day.

So Happy Birthday, Mom. I hope you get this greeting wherever you are in the cosmos.



Monday, August 17, 2009

Insomniac Music

Tuesday Genius 10:
Cry Me a River - Diana Krall
At This Moment - Billy Vera and the Beaters
You Send Me - Otis Redding
People Get Ready - Rare Earth
I Wanna Get Next To You - Rose Royce
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart - The Bee Gees
I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations
Feeling Alright - David Ruffin
Slow Jam Sweet Thing - Rufus with Chaka Khan
Day Is Done - Norah Jones

What can I say, my iPod knew what I wanted to listen to even before I did.

And one more for the road:

Just Farking Around

A cop wrecked 'em:
Hollywood officer has history of crashes
An officer involved in an alleged cover-up of a wreck has had several accidents on duty, his file shows.

The Hollywood police officer involved in a rear-end crash that allegedly was covered up by fellow officers is no stranger to road accidents. His personnel file, obtained by the Sun Sentinel, shows he was involved in eight other crashes while driving his patrol car.

Joel Francisco, 36, an 11-year veteran of the force, was ordered to attend Driving Training School three times. Early in his career, he was suspended for being in three crashes within a year's time that were deemed preventable, the file says.
9 crashes and 3 mandated driving schools in 11 years. Mr Magoo has a better driving record.

Death Rules!
A Texas Judge on Trial: Closed to a Death-Row Appeal?

Soft-spoken and a devout Christian, Judge Sharon Keller presides as chief justice of Texas' highest criminal court. She's also known as "Sharon Killer" by her opponents, who are going to see her in court next week on charges of judicial misconduct.
Keller finds herself at this pass because of a four-word sentence she uttered on Sept. 25, 2007: "We close at 5."
Keller was reportedly at her home dealing with a repairman that afternoon when she got the request — and made her reply. Richard's lawyers failed to meet the deadline, and at 8:23 p.m. Richard was declared dead following a lethal injection.
After confessing, Richard claimed he was innocent, but his appeal centered on a history of alleged family abuse and his supposed IQ of 64.
A devout christain once again condemns a retarded man to death because she couldn't be bothered.

I hope when she gets to those pearly gates she believes in it goes something like this: "Hey, Saint Peter, this woman arrived late and her excuse is she got caught in traffic."
"Sorry, we close at five."

Pay for Play:
Supporters: Sex shop limits not dead

Opponents of sexually oriented businesses in Kansas aren't giving up on trying to limit their operations, even though the state attorney general says he won't enforce a law restricting their signs along highways.
The bill drafted by Kinzer's committee would prohibit adult stores within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, public parks, private homes, day care centers, houses of worship or even another adult store.
"The adult entertainment businesses make the most money by far where there's legislative and social repression," he said. "Why do you think adult entertainment places come to Kansas?"
And as a corollary, why do you think conservatives buy the most porn online? Because they're too stupid to find it for free.

Mr.Peabody, set the Way, Way Back machine:
Charter school to teach creationism theories

A new public charter school under scrutiny because of plans to use the Bible as a primary source of teaching material says students will also explore several different theories of creationism.
School headmaster Val Bush says students will also explore several versions of creationism as part of their studies.
This is a public charter school, using taxpayer funds and teaching the bible. Their excuse that's it's just teaching about religion or history is patently false since they incorporate no other religious texts. Good luck with getting into college.

Irony alert!!!
Angry area man becomes face of health care debate

Has the angry man who confronted U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter at Tuesday's town hall meeting in Lebanon become the "Joe the Plumber" of health care?
Miller, 59, a blue-collar worker now living on disability, rushed toward Specter and yelled, "You're trampling on the Constitution! ... You and your cronies do this all the time" before leaving the hall.
Where the f**k is it written in the Constitution that we should pay his non-working a$$ for being disabled?

I'm not sure why I was reminded of this song, but here's some brain bleach:

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Les Paul

Les Paul, virtuoso guitarist and inventor, passed away Thursday at age 94. Between his legendary guitar design and the numerous studio advances he pioneered, Paul arguably had more influence on popular music than any other figure of the post-World War II era.

Lester William Polsfuss was born on June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He started playing harmonica at age eight, and by his early teens had picked up the guitar and banjo as well. He also became a tinkerer at an early age. When he was 10, he made a harmonica rack from a coat hanger. Shortly after, he opened up the back of a Sears acoustic guitar, inserted the pickup from an old Victrola behind the strings, and turned the record player on to create his first amplified guitar.

By age 13 Paul was performing regularly around home as a country guitarist. He dropped out of high school and began landing gigs throughout the Midwest, including radio jobs with Wolverton's House Band on KMOX in St. Louis and on the WLS Barn Dance in Chicago, and also releasing a couple of country recordings under the name Rhubarb Red. By this time, though, Paul had discovered the work of jazz guitarist Django Rheinhart, and became bored with country music. He formed the jazz-oriented Les Paul Trio, moved to New York, and landed a featured slot on Fred Waring's radio program. During this period, Paul continued his experimenting. In 1941, looking for a way to electronically sustain musical notes, he attached strings and two pickups to a wooden board with a guitar neck. "The Log", as it became known, was one of the first solid-bodied electric guitars. When he was ribbed by his fellow musicians for playing such a ridiculous-looking instrument, he hid his Log inside the workings of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar.

Paul was drafted in 1942, which took him out to California to work with the Armed Forces Radio Service, where he worked with Rudy Vallee and Kate Smith. After his discharge, he formed a new trio, backing The Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, and Bing Crosby, who recorded the hit "It's Been A Long, Long Time" with the trio. Crosby also encouraged the guitarist's experimentation; he often visited Paul's makeshift garage studio, and eventually provided financial backing for Paul to build a full-fledged recording facility.

In California, Paul continued the sonic experimentation that built the foundation for the modern recording industry. He altered the speed of recordings to change their pitch and timbre. He experimented with microphone positioning and was one of the first to use reverberation. He found that by playing along with previous recordings, he could literally become a one-man band. In 1947, Paul recorded an instrumental version of "Lover" using eight separate guitar parts recorded on two acetate disc machines. Working with acetate discs required Paul to record each layer of music as a single take. He also built an acetate disc cutter from the flywheel of a Cadillac. Capitol released "Lover" as a single, and it became a major hit. Around this time he met a country singer named Colleen Summers; he changed her name to Mary Ford, a name he picked from the telephone book. But in 1948, tragedy would strike. Paul's car skidded off an icy bridge, severely injuring his right arm and shattering his elbow. His elbow would be immobile for life, so Paul had the doctors set it at an angle that would allow him to play guitar.

Paul and Ford married in 1949, and the duo commenced a string of hits that continued through the mid-50's, including "How High the Moon", "Bye Bye Blues", "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise", and "Vaya Con Dios". By this time, Paul had mastered the art of multitracking, combining Ford's vocals with his guitars and other effects to produce a sound years ahead of its time. Paul was now recording on magnetic tape. His friend Bing Crosby had invested in the Ampex Corporation, which developed the first commercial open-reel recorder. Crosby gave Paul the second Ampex Model 200 built, which Paul modified with a second playback head to create a crude form of multitracking using mono tape. This inspired Ampex to build two and three-track recorders, and in 1954 Paul commissioned Ampex to build the first eight-track recorder. Ampex completed this project in 1957, which Paul lamented was too late for him to use on his hits, but by the mid-60's the machine was established as the backbone of modern recording.

In 1952, Paul came up with his most famous innovation. As early as 1945, Paul had approached the Gibson Guitar Corporation with ideas for mass-producing "The Log", but was rejected. But in 1950, competitors Fender unveiled the Telecaster, which became the first popular solid-body electric guitar model. Gibson offered Paul an opportunity to become a consultant, which led to the creation of the legendary Les Paul electric guitar. Les Pauls quickly were noted for their excellent sustain - the reason Paul began experimenting with guitars in the first place. The other key innovation came in 1954 with the introduction of the humbucking pickup on Les Paul models, producing a clarity of tone then unattainable on other guitars.

The Les Paul was slow to catch on at first with guitarists, though. The solid-body design made it heavier than most competing models - a musician friend once remarked to me, "Those damn things feel like they weigh a ton!" A lot of pop guitarists preferred to stick with their hollow-bodied models, and many country and rockabilly artists preferred the twangier Telecaster. Carl Perkins was one of the few early rockers to play a Les Paul. In the 50's and early 60's, Les Pauls were favored most by jazz and blues guitarists who prized their sustain and its clean, thick tone. Bluesmen Freddie King and John Lee Hooker, among others, put their Les Pauls to good use during that era.

More than anything, the rise of British rock in the mid-60's caused the Les Paul's popularity to soar. Keith Richards was the first British rocker to use a Les Paul extensively, and his peers quickly recognized that the guitar provided the perfect sound for the blues-derived rock they were creating. Soon, Les Pauls were in the hands of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Peter Green, and just about every other notable British guitarist of the time. The Les Paul established the sound that would become the signature of the 60's-70's guitar rock era. By then, though, Les Paul himself had a falling-out with the Gibson company, which stopped producing electric guitars with his name in 1963. But the demand for Les Pauls was so great that Gibson resumed their production in 1968. The latter-day Les Pauls were considered inferior by many guitarists. Those who could afford to do so continued to seek out vintage Les Pauls; every once in a while you'd hear a story that Eric Clapton or some other famous guitarist would find a classic Les Paul in mint condition in a pawnshop in some podunk town. Today, late-50's Les Pauls in good condition bring many thousands of dollars.

During the 60's Les Paul began to recede from the spotlight. Paul and Ford would have no major hits after 1955; ironically, the guitar that he helped create became a chief factor in pushing the style of music he specialized in playing off the pop charts. The couple divorced in 1962. Paul recorded infrequently in his later years, although one of his most notable achievements came in 1976, collaborating with ace Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins to make Chester And Lester, winning a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance. The two masters created an impressive blend of jazz and country styles, much of it recorded live in the studio without overdubbing. Paul had quintuple-bypass surgery in 1981. Until his last days, Paul appeared regularly in live performance. He began a Monday night residency at Manhattan jazz club Fat Tuesday's in 1983; when that venue closed in 1995, he moved to Iridium, where he continued to appear each Monday until weeks before his death, often joined by a host of celebrity musicians coming to pay their respects to the master. Although arthritis had robbed Paul of much of his speed, he remained a fluid, tasteful guitarist to the end.

Due to his inventiveness and innovative ability, Les Paul may well have been the most important popular music figure of the 20th Century. Although many artists sold more records, none could match Paul for his ingenuity. His ideas created the foundation that the entire modern music recording industry was built upon.

Readers with a further interest in Les Paul must read this 1975 Rolling Stone interview.

(Crossposted at Pole Hill Sanitarium.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

You Better Call Me A Doctor!

Sometimes this (voluntary) job breaks my heart. I know I'm just preaching to the choir, but I'd like to point out a few things, in the form of Republicans v. reality.

Republicans: The health care bill says ...


Sorry for shouting, but there was no debate in the full Senate and what debate there was was being stifled in the Senate committees. It has yet to make it thru the House committees, and the multiple versions being offered change from committee to committee. Those have to be reconciled, then the House and Senate bills will have to be reconciled. And the way it's going the bastards who take the most money from health care corporations are going to kill it.

Republicans: Death Panels will decide whether you, your child or your parents will die.

reality: Getting medical advice when you have a terminal condition, (and life itself is a terminal condition), on how much you want to put up with when it's still your choice is a sign, the ultimate sign, of freedom and freewill.
It's only advice, the government doesn't get to make the decision. Unlike in Texas.
BTW, many Republicans, including Gov. Palin, have either authored or signed bills for this very choice.

Republicans: You'll be forced into ObamaCare!

reality: Nope. If you like your health care insurance and providers, keep 'em! If you don't or you are uninsured, the gov't plan may turn out to be an option for you. (See above, there isn't a final bill yet.)

Republicans: Obama's gonna cut Medicare!

reality: This is true, but in a way that only Republicans can spin it. Obama's plan cuts bureaucratic waste but benefits won't decrease. Let me repeat that, YOUR BENEFITS WON'T DECREASE.
That means more money can go to your health care.

Republicans: Your taxes will increase!

reality: Not unless you make over a quarter of a million dollars per year. Not that your business makes that, but that you make that personally. And even then the higher tax rate only applies to how much you make after you make 1/4 million dollars per year. Even then it's a pittance compared to what you make.
If the 'public option' is included and passes it means there is a wider insurance pool that includes younger people. Then everyone's taxes can go down.

Republicans: We already have the best health care system in the world.

reality: No, we don't. We rank 37th in the world. Our life expectancy is 24th. And we pay the 2nd highest percentage of GDP of any nation in the world for our 37th best corporate health care.

Republicans: It's socialism!

reality: I don't even know what that means when they say that. We already have gov't funded health care.
If any republicans actually believe that then they should get off our gov't funded health care, our gov't funded health care, our VA, our Medicare, our Medicaid, our CHIPS and try to find a private insurer that will accept you and do it cheaper. e.g.
Michigan insurance regulators have approved a 22 percent increase for group and individual Blue Cross Blue Shield health policies in the state
Blue Cross originally sought to raise individual rates by 56 percent and group rates by 41 percent.

Republicans: It would be unfair competition between private and public health insurance.

reality: So what? Corporations already decide what health care we deserve. Sure, an emergency room might have to treat you, in some places, but they don't have to provide medicine or aftercare or wheel chairs or crutches or dialysis. A faceless bureaucrat decides whether you 'deserve' that treatment. After paying in thousands of dollars over the years, their paycheck depends on your dying before you can collect.

Republicans: This isn't what the founders of our country envisioned.

reality: The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution say different:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It's kind of hard to promote the general welfare, have life and pursue happiness if you're sick and can't afford health care.

Somebody get me a doctor!

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

And I feel fine

AARP, for many, especially, well, retired folks, is a benevolent organization helping senior citizens make their way through the autumn of their lives. The reality is far from that:
Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus founded AARP in 1958. AARP evolved from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), which Andrus had established in 1947 to promote her philosophy of productive aging, and in response to the need of retired teachers for health insurance. After ten years, Andrus opened the organization to all Americans over 50, creating AARP. Today, NRTA is a division within AARP. According to Andy Rooney, AARP was established by insurance salesman Leonard Davis in 1958, after he met Ethel Percy Andrus. Ms. Andrus was at the time helping teachers get health insurance through the National Retired Teachers Association. According to Rooney, Davis saw the opportunity to sell medical insurance to the elderly rather than just retired teachers and for that purpose put in $50,000 establishing AARP. According to Rooney, Davis established the Colonial Penn Insurance Co. in order to control AARP, selling millions of dollars in insurance to its members through advertisings in AARP's magazine Modern Maturity and for several years Colonial Penn Insurance Co. became one of the most profitable in the U. S. In 1978, after a 60 Minutes report exposé, AARP got rid of Colonial Penn Insurance Co. and signed up with Prudential Insurance Co.[3]

According to critics, until the 1980s AARP was controlled by businessman Leonard Davis, who promoted its image as a non-profit advocate of retirees in order to sell insurance to members.[4] In the 1990s, the United States Senate investigated AARP's non-profit status, with Republican Senator Alan Simpson, then chairman of the Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy, questioning the organization's tax exempt status in congressional hearings. These investigations did not reveal sufficient evidence to change the organization's status.[5]

As an insurance sales organization, AARP shouild be considered immediately suspect. But that doesn't mean they can occasionally get it right.

Here's a commercial they're running, criticising the lying by Health Care Reform opponents:

I can't fault their statement, but I still don't trust them. Still, AARP is beloved by many older folks. My grandmother, who died 10 years ago, had become knee-jerk paranoid conservative in her later years, and railed against Reaganesque welfare cheats and other symbols of "I got mine, screw you" selfish conservatism. But she had AARP insurance, and believed in them faithfully.

I'd like to think that if she were alive today, she'd listen to AARP and not Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Chuck Grassley, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the lying bastards on the right.

So for that, AARP, you have my thanks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

They'll Never Be Another Like You

R.I.P. Lester William Polfuss, a/k/a Les Paul.

So much of what we actualize and perform as modern musicians had this man to thank for its conception and creation.
Thus, as I never got the chance to say it in person, I will say it here.

Thank you for making what I enjoy possible, Mr. Paul.

Via con Dios

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can't put it off another day

A clueless Ilya Shapiro from the non-partisan libertarian Cato Institute goes all post racial:
Although her selection represents the very worst of racial politics — she is not a leading light of the judiciary and would not have been considered had she not been a Hispanic woman — her career achievements show that the American Dream endures. While in this world it is rare for an underprivileged child from a minority group to attain a modicum of professional success — let alone reach its pinnacle — in America it happens again and again.

Um, yeah. Since Thomas, Alito, and Roberts-especially Thomas! were such "leading lights of the judiciary". Seems like Mr. Shapiro is looking at Sotomayor through his 'Latina' lenses, holding her to higher standards than the . . . men. Hmm, maybe his lenses are 'male'.

Matthew Yglesias explains her qualifications to Shapiro:
I think this is a revealing moment. Sotomayor has the normal qualifications for a Supreme Court justice—she shares the president’s political views, she lacks a record of inflammatory legal writing that would prevent confirmation, the has experience as an appellate judge, she went to fancy schools. Insofar as her background was a consideration in selecting her, which it undoubtedly was, this is also totally normal. Presidents have always sought various kinds of regional, religious, and ethnic balance in the courts. Much was made out of Samuel Alito’s Italian American ancestry, and obviously Thurgood Marshall was initially put on the court in part to make a symbolic statement about civil rights and Clarence Thomas was appointed to replace him in part out of a desire to fill Marshall’s old seat with an African-American. There was a tradition of a “Jewish seat” at various times, etc.

Then he explains race to Shapiro:
But even more revealing is that even if Sotomayor’s selection were somehow out of the ordinary, the idea that picking one appellate judge rather than another for a promotion could possibly be the very worst of racial politics is ludicrous. At its very worst, racial politics in the United States involved the systematic disenfranchisement of millions of people, their subjection to pervasive social and economic discrimination, and the maintenance of the apartheid system via the threat and reality of state-sponsored terrorist violence. At its very worst, racial politics in the United States involved persistent filibustering to prevent the federal government from doing anything to curb widespread lynching. At its very worst, racial politics in the United States involved a violent rebellion that sought to dismantle the country in the name of chattel slavery and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

But despite that long history, broad swathes of the American right remain persistently and willfully blind to the problem of discrimination against non-whites. Their view is, essentially, that racism emerged as a problem sometime in the year 1967 and that the problem consists of white people being unduly burdened by efforts to remediate something or other.

Best last paragraph ever, Thanks, Matt.

The Chambers Bros. explain race to the country in 1968:

To this day I'm not sure which brother, Willie or Joe, is singing lead here. But it's clearly one of the best R'n'B/Rock vocals ever.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

They think, theyre so cute when they got you in that condition

There been much press about the so-called protesters lately, disrupting Democratic politician's townhalls, and holding their own teabagging protests about Health Care Reform. The MSM has done their usual of equivocating, reporting both sides as "he said, she said". Of course this is absurd, but so is this type of MSM reporting. "Some say Earth is round, others say flat" isn't reality based, but they bend over backward to cover their asses, trying not to piss off conservatives who are inflaming these disruptions.

Hearing confused and angry people say "I don't want the government to take over my Medicare" is surreal, because anyone who says that is underinformed, and misinformed by propogandistic intention.

Some on the left speculate that one thing helping drive this anger is white folks who don't like a black President, and from what I've heard anecdotally the last several months, I think that's right.

So those same people won't be impressed by Prof. Melissa Harris-Lacewell of Princeton Univ. as she attemps to explain all the coincident issues driving this current bus. Because she's black too:

I think she's spot on. There was further discussion of Right-wing authoritarianism, and mention of this book:

What are the root causes of intolerance? This book addresses that question by developing a universal theory of what determines intolerance of difference in general, which includes racism, political intolerance (e.g., restriction of free speech), moral intolerance (e.g., homophobia, supporting censorship and school prayer), and punitiveness. It demonstrates that all of these seemingly disparate attitudes are principally caused by just two factors: individuals’ innate psychological predispositions to intolerance (“ authoritarianism”) interacting with changing conditions of societal threat.

I'm trying to find the video, will post ASAP.

And in re: authority, well, here's the obvious song:

Friday, August 07, 2009

Around Blogtopia

skippy, in skippy's snark tank asks "is it obama's economy yet?"

Cookie Jill, in skippy's arboretum has a great rundown of the 20 largest cases of companies bilking the government
Hint: The 1st 3 are 'health care' companies.

Extra bonus feature: stan by your lee for folks like me who grew up Marveling at comics books.

Crooks & Liars has the goods on repub lies about Health Insurance Reform: Grover Norquist Distributes Lies - Uh, Helpful Talking Points on Health-Care Reform

And last, but never least, WTF?!?
From the GOP harassment memo, entitled “best practices”:

Artificially Inflate Your Numbers. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive.

Be Disruptive Early And Often

Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate

Notice the complete lack of anything resembling "have your facts well-prepared for Q&A sessions."
Gosh, it's nice to know that all the 'conservative', corporate funded 'grass roots' folks are disrupting meetings where members of congress can talk to their constituents and then answer questions.

* y! wksctp! (yes, we know skippy coined that phrase!)

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

No Matter What You Do

No matter what the Dems do the Grand Obstructionist Party will just say no. If legislation might be successful, they want to kill it, if legislation is successful, they definitely want to kill it.

If a former president actually gets Americans released from a communist country, they'll spin that as a bad thing.[Pfft, Bolton has such a great track record.]

See, it's OK for Nixon to make deals with China, it's OK for Reagan to make deals with Russia, it's OK for Rumsfeld to make deals with Saddam. It's always OKIYAR.

And, according to the wingnuts, everything a Dem does is by definition wrong.

In my fantasies I think that this a strategy on the part of Dems to let the party of fail just get wackier and torpedo themselves. In reality, I don't think Dems are that smart and they are in a race to the bottom with the repubs.

Here's an open letter to all elected Dems:
You can't argue with crazy, you can't fix stupid, and you can't bargain with repubs whose only goal is to make the country fail so that they can win the next election.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

You Fails It, It Don't Fail You


Leave agitprop to the pros, kids


How many more years, have I got to let you dog me around

Our house has always been Keith Olbermann friendly since he started hosting his MSNBC show. As many have pointed out, we're not sure of his actual politics, but very sure of his disdain for virtually everything the Right has done for the last umpteen years.

And we've always enjoyed Richard Wolffe's appearances on the show. Labelled as an "MSNBC political analyst", he seemed, like Olbermann, to dislike the same people we did. In other words, the 'enemy of my enemy'.

But that was before Glenn Greenwald said this:
On a very related note: this week, former Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe was a guest-host on MSNBC's Countdown while Keith Olbermann is on vacation. When Olbermann is there, Wolffe is a very frequent guest on Countdown, where he is called an "MSNBC political analyst" and comments on political news. All of this, despite the fact that Wolffe left Newsweek last March in order to join "Public Strategies, Inc.," the corporate communications firm run by former Bush White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett, its President and CEO. According to the Press Release they issued to announce Wolffe's joining the company:

Wolffe, most recently Newsweek's senior White House correspondent, officially assumes his new position as a senior strategist on April 13, 2009. He will be based in the firm's Washington office, where he will advise several of its top clients. . . .

Public Strategies, Inc. is a business advisory firm that serves a diverse clientele including some of the world's largest and best-known corporations, nonprofit organizations, associations and professional firms. Public Strategies helps forward-thinking organizations assess public opinion and risk, and develops strategies for managing corporate reputation and uncertainty. Much of its practice involves managing high-stakes campaigns for corporate clients, anticipating and responding to crises.

Having Richard Wolffe host an MSNBC program -- or serving as an almost daily "political analyst" -- is exactly tantamount to MSNBC's just turning over an hour every night to a corporate lobbyist. Wolffe's role in life is to advance the P.R. interests of the corporations that pay him, including corporations with substantial interests in virtually every political issue that MSNBC and Countdown cover. Yet MSNBC is putting him on as a guest-host and "political analyst" on one of its prime-time political shows. What makes that even more appalling is that, as Ana Marie Cox first noted, neither MSNBC nor Wolffe even disclose any of this.

Dang. So even if you agree with them, they can't be trusted.

And indeed, that's the point. Liberal media indeed.

And tonight, an update from Glennzilla:

UPDATE III: Mediaite notes that Olbermann has decided that Richard Wolffe will no longer be on Countdown. At Daily Kos today, Olbermann wrote:

As to Richard Wolffe I can offer far less insight. I honor Mr. Greenwald's insight into the coverage of GE/NewsCorp talks, and his reporting on Richard's other jobs. I must confess I was caught flat-footed. I do not know what the truth is; my executive producer and I have spent the last two months dealing with other things (see above) but what appears to be the truth here is certainly not what Richard told us about his non-news job.

I am confident his commentary to this point has not been compromised - he has been an insightful analyst and a great friend to this show - but until we can clarify what else he is doing, he will not be appearing with us. I apologize for not being able to prevent this unhappy set of circumstances from developing.
Good for Olbermann for doing the right thing there, at least provisionally. As for the comments Olbermann made tonight on Countdown -- in which he denied that GE barred him from mentioning O'Reilly and even mocked O'Reilly for working at a place (Fox) where corporate pressures restrict editorial freedom (claiming that such a thing would never, ever happen at MSNBC) -- for the moment, I will simply note what I wrote on Twitter: "Really surprised by the Olbermann denial -- there's lots and lots of evidence that the NYT's description about what GE did is 100% accurate."