Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fire And Ice

"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

Robert Frost
That's about all I have to say about love and politics today. And, as usual, someone else said it first and best.

Another version of Fire And Ice below.

Friday, December 24, 2010

And in our world of plenty, We can spread a smile of joy

In case you forgot, the reason for this video & charity are still going on. Mean people suck:

The actual video:

Have I the right?

Whenever some rightie raises the " NPR is a Liberal Network™" theme, I slap my forehead against the desk.

See, here's what happens when a stalwart leftie at NPR meets a right-wing pundit on an NPR show. Bloodshed, you think? Well, sort-of:
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Matthew Franck argued that we need robust, even passionate debate on the issue, but that the charge of hate is not a contribution to argument. It's the recourse of people who would rather not have an argument at all.

Have you used the hate charge in an argument over gay marriage? Have you heard it? Our phone number: 800-989-8255. Email: You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Matthew Franck directs the Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute. His piece in the Washington Post is titled "In the Gay Marriage Debate, Stop Using the Hate Card." And he joins us now from his office in Princeton.
Who is Matthew Franck? Look at his blog at American Principles Project and you'll see much criticism of the nomination and approval of Sonia Sotomayor, with praise for Sen's Kyl, Coburn, McCain & Hatch for their principled stands against her. You'll see praise for noted conservative media personality Carrie Prejean as a well . . .

And you'll see his blogroll, full of Hot Air, Weekly Standard, World Net Daily, and other right-wing extremists (and occasional liars).

So does 'Lefty' Neil Conan of NPR take off the gloves and give Franck a thorough bashing:
CONAN: A lot of the debate is framed in terms of the - well, you mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-respected civil rights organization. It is framed in the same kind of terminology as the civil rights arguments - that gay men and lesbians want the same rights as other people, and that those opposing it are opposing their right.

Mr. FRANCK: Mm-hmm. So the argument is made. I don't agree with that argument. I'm not persuaded by it, and I think most Americans are not. There's frequently an effort to analogize the situation of gay couples to the situation of interracial couples 45 years ago. As everyone should know and this is history...

CONAN: Before the Loving decision...

Mr. FRANCK: know, there were anti-miscegenation laws that forbade blacks and whites from marrying. Those laws, of course, prevented opposite-sex couples from coming together in marital unions that everyone recognized would actually be marital unions if they were permitted to form them. In other words, people universally understood to be capable of marrying one another were prevented from marrying one another by an intrusion and intervention of the state into their freedom to marry.

The situation is rather different with same-sex couples, who have never been permitted to marry under any understanding of the laws of marriage -common law, statutory law - in any country, until quite recently.

And in order to fold them into the institution of marriage, we don't merely have to remove an obstacle to their marriage. We have to redefine what marriage is. And that's where, I think, the debate needs to be. What is marriage? And what do we take it to be? And what change are we undertaking if we extend it to gay couples? My argument, and the argument of many marriage advocates - traditional marriage advocates - is that the extension of marriage to gay couples is not an expansion of the institution but an inversion of it, and a dismantling of it.

. . .
CONAN: ...we want to give some other people a chance. But thanks very much for the phone call.

We're talking with Matthew Franck. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

And here's an email from Kathleen in Cape Cod: The discussion is absurd. Of course, there are hate groups. What in the world do you call an organization that exists for the sole purpose of fighting a minority group's civil rights? Who, calling for the jailing of gay people simply for being gay, like the National Organization for Marriage board member Mr. Card does, or who demonize gay people with rhetoric that compares us to child molesters, or makes insane claims that the Nazi SS was made up of gay people. The hate card is being played. Here is hatred of gay people.

And I think - well, you might disagree with some of the particulars there, Matthew Franck. Hate is being played on both sides. I think that's accurate.

Mr. FRANCK: Yes. The difference, I think, is this: that on the side of the defenders of marriage, there are no mainstream marriage advocacy organizations that are engaging in hate speech or propagating falsehoods or myths about gay people. I just - it's not happening.

On the other side, there is, I think - on the other hand - a kind of mainstreaming of the strategy to anathematize, which is what I described in my article.

CONAN: Among those you describe as part of the strategy is the judge in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Judge Vaughn Walker held that California's Proposition 8 enacted without reason a private moral view about the nature of marriage that cannot properly be embodied in public policy.

Mr. FRANCK: Right, exactly right. And that brings us back to what I think is a key to a lot of what's going on. In the courts, a key legal question is: Is there a rational basis for a policy? If there is not a rational basis, then it cannot be upheld on equal protection or perhaps due process grounds. And so I think the full-court press we see in the culture has a kind of judicial parallel. The idea is if you can propagate the idea that defenders of gay marriage have no rational basis for defending marriage, as it has always been known in every human civilization, as the union of men and women, for - chiefly - for procreative ends, but if you can say that there's no rational basis for that, then you achieve a great strategic goal in the courts of law, which is to have judges hold that no rational basis exists for such distinctions in the law and therefore, laws like Prop 8 have to fall.

But if you can see that there's no rational basis for that, then you achieve a great strategic goal in the courts of law, which is to have judges hold that no rational basis exists for such distinctions in the law and therefore laws like Prop 8 have to fall.

CONAN: And we will see what the 9th Circuit decides - and I suspect, eventually, the Supreme Court. Matthew Franck, thank you very much for your time today.

The paragraph I bolded is the main straw man in this whole argument: That the mean gay-lovers are being mean to us non-mean gay haterz. Jeebus!

In Franck's rambling op-ed in the WaPo that led to the NPR piece above, he shows a prejudice and lack of awareness that's pretty stunning:
What's going on here? Clearly a determined effort is afoot, in cultural bastions controlled by the left, to anathematize traditional views of sexual morality, particularly opposition to same-sex marriage, as the expression of "hate" that cannot be tolerated in a decent civil society. The argument over same-sex marriage must be brought to an end, and the debate considered settled. Defenders of traditional marriage must be likened to racists, as purveyors of irrational fear and loathing. Opposition to same-sex marriage must be treated just like support for now long-gone anti-miscegenation laws.

While many "defenders of traditional marriage" are decent people with good intentions, so were many of the "defenders of traditional marriage" that fought against Loving v. Virginia, where inter-racial marriage was made a Constitutional civil right. To claim no similarity between these situations is delusional.

The best retort came in a letter to the editor criticizing Frank by a WaPo reader:
Matthew J. Franck's Dec. 19 Outlook commentary, "On gay marriage, stop playing the hate card," was an extended fallacy. Mr. Franck defended intolerance by arguing that the tolerant should not be intolerant of the intolerant, because intolerance is wrong. He is confused.

He moved on to the fallacy that bigotry against homosexuals is not irrational. He said the function of marriage is to produce children. So the infertile and those past menopause should not get married? He said same-sex marriage dismantles the institution of marriage. His conclusion was used as an argument for his conclusion. Mr. Franck succeeded only in proving that bigotry against homosexuals really is irrational.

Finally, Mr. Franck concluded the piece with an especially obnoxious fallacy: In the interest of robust debate, bigotry should be exempt from criticism, because criticism is a conversation stopper. Bigotry merits no such privilege.


So did liberal NPR spokesman Conan engage in debate and argument with Franck? Nope. Instead he was played as a sucker by a well spoken schoolyard bully. A mention of the SPLC position merely served up a softball for Franck to hit out of the yard in service to his prejudice. Yet I'm betting Franck got off the phone and complained to colleagues about his rough treatment.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adeste Fidelis

I've heard it said that the unchanged male voice is the most beautiful. I'm not sure I completely agree, but this presents strong evidence to support that contention.

Vienna Boys Choir, "Adeste Fidelis":

Ahh Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in, Are you aware the shape I’m in?

My friend and co-blogger on the other site is packing her bags, loading up the dog, hauling the kid, and joining her Doctor on a move to America's arch. God speed, Joan Glenn!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy we'll be beyond the sea

Perfect music, performed perfectly.

People, this can't be taught, only nurtured.

Here's where the song came from. Bobby's version had different lyrics, telling a different story. But as always, it's the melody that matters:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry . . .

Non-guitarists may not appreciate the artistry of this guy. Only one I ever heard who might do this stuff better might have been George vanEps. And no, Lenny Breau's style isn't like Ted's so on can't really compare except to say they were both wonderful players who we lost too soon.

It gets off to a slow start, and he changes guitars before he starts, but wait, it's worthwhile. And stay for the bonus bit and lesson at the end.

Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Mother! Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child

Christmas music on a harp-guitar. This guy is really good:

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Certain songs, pieces of music, have been perfected and never, ever, should be recorded again.

This is one:

But then again, you might like Miley Cyrus's version.

If so, I pity you.

Hark, the herald angels 'n' stuff

Here's a repost from 12/23/06, with some additions:

Here's some pre-Christmas music goodness from The Roches. In case anyone wasn't sure, Handel rocks:

Here's more Christmas goodies from the girls:

And the 2 best alternative Christmas albums ever? In my authoritative opinion:

The Roches: We Three Kings

Barenaked Ladies: Barenaked for the Holidays

Here's a sample of the Ladies' men:

Of course, YMMV. But I'm right, I'm just saying...

You make me feel like dancing!

My youngest brother has had a brain tumor growing in his head since he got treated for leukemia when he was 9.

At the time it was an experimental treatment, and involved chemo and radiation, massive doses of each.

All those pictures of skinny little bald kids and such that you've seen on TV? Yeah, that was him. But he survived and has been in remission for 40+ years.

But survival doesn't come without a cost. He had a seizure a few weeks ago. The local hospital he was ambulanced to knew they were unable to deal with it and ambulanced him to a hospital that had the facilities to diagnose what was going on. Massive BENIGN brain tumor.

He was in brain surgery for 14 hours. He was in ICU for days, the dainbramaged [sic] ward for weeks, a rehab facility for more weeks, but Monday he gets to come home for more rehab, but at least he's home (well, not exactly home, it's a friend's house. A competent friend who can do more for him than I/we can.)

He's had problems as an adult, and he and I have been estranged for years. But maybe that damn thing in his head was part of that. Even if we're not as close as we were at one time, I think he's going to be better than he has been for years.

It makes me feel like dancing.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

You may say I'm a dreamer

No better liberal ever lived. Even after her husband squandered his good will and good ideas, she stayed relevant and dignified.

Bon Voyage, Elizabeth.

And to honor Elizabeth, John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) offers Imagine:

Walking down the Line

Need any additional proof that the Republican congresspeople are hypocrites and liars?

The deal Obama and Republicans have struck also includes a one-year cut in payroll taxes, from 6.2% to 4.2%. The tax is applied to a worker's first $106,800 of wages. If implemented, it would mean that someone earning $50,000 a year would pay $1,000 less in Social Security contributions next year. Someone earning $100,000 would pay $2,000 less. The payroll tax rate would go back up to 6.2% in 2012.

The estate tax -- currently scheduled to return in 2011 to a top rate of 55% along with a $1 million exemption -- would instead come back with a lower top rate of 35% along with a $5 million exemption.

Agreeing to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans represented a major concession for Obama. In a concession to Democrats, Republican negotiators agreed to leave in place for 13 months the option to file for extended federal unemployment benefits. That will not, however, affect how long someone can collect unemployment benefits -- the maximum will remain 99 weeks in states hardest hit by job loss.

. . .

Extending the Bush-era tax cuts for two years would cost $458 billion, the Treasury Department has estimated -- $383 billion for lower and middle income Americans plus $75 billion for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making $250,000 or more. The White House has estimated that lowering the payroll tax would cost $120 billion. Extending unemployment benefits for 13 months comes with a $62 billion price tag, according to CNN estimates.

Lowering the top estate tax rate to 35% -- combined with the $5 million exemption -- costs $88 billion over two years, according to the Tax Policy Center.

To make this clear, the continued tax cuts for everyone raises the deficit. And additional unemployment and stimulative tax credits raises the deficit.

So after all the sturm und drang about fiscal responsibility, the R's go along with the program because it keeps taxes lower on their base. Only reason, to pander to the wealthy.

Tea-party folks, here's what's coming down the line: Republican interests are always aligned with the wealthy.

Not you.

Monday, December 06, 2010

So I sing a song of love for Julian

PayPal Cuts WikiLeaks from Money Flow [They didn't just cut the account, they confiscated the money. Fuck PayPal/eBay.]

Calls from Joe Lieberman help force Amazon and EveryDNS to dump Wikileaks [Fuck Amazon/EveryDNS & Joe LIEberman.
My cyber shopping list is getting shorter by the minute.]

Swiss bank freezes WikiLeaks founder's legal defense fund [Oh sure, they'll help American scofflaws evade taxes, and help Nazi's confiscate Jews' money, but here they draw the line.]

Federal employees warned away from Wikileaks

Students warned: Read WikiLeaks and you're out of a government job [And it's the Universities that are telling them this. In the latest new, the US also claims to have a method of removing pee from a swimming pool.]

Assange an ‘enemy combatant’ but fault is Obama’s [sez newt Gingrich, that moral paragon.]

"Why was [Assange] not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?" - Sarah Falin [Umm, where IS OBL?]

GOP leader Mitch McConnell calls WikiLeaks founder ‘a high-tech terrorist’ [Really!? He doesn't scare me as much as you folks do.]

Julian Assange's lawyers say they are being watched WikiLeaks founder's lawyers also accuse US state department of inappropriate behaviour in not respecting attorney-client protocol [This isn't news, the Feds have been listening in on bedrooms, lawyers and clients, cell phones and all other communications for years, with out any warrants. And that's just the U.S.]

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange says militant supporters of the US military have made death threats against his family in Australia.

Assange threatens to release ‘poison pill’ if arrested or killed [Can you blame him?]

Folks, what we're seeing here is the first shot heard 'round the world of a cyber-war. Black hats and white hats, (I spend way too much time doing cyber-security), are targeting a man and his family.

It's not that simple. You can't stop Al Keda [sic] by killing Osama Bin Ladin. You can't stop WikiLeaks by killing Julian Assange. I've mirrored the site, I've downloaded the insurance file and uploaded it to other sites. I have multiple copies on media. And I'm not the only one.

What you can do is ensure everyone on the globe gets an even break AKA freedom. No starving, no imprisonment without a fair trial, (no inhumane conditions even then), health care for all.

This is the exact opposite from libertarians; they think they're special and they should get to do what ever they want. But since they rode the short bus to school, and philosophy, and economics, I'm just going to ignore them as a parent does to a child having a tantrum.

It's easy if you try.

Now for my musical selections:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday random 10

She's Not There - Zombies
All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
Since I Met You - The Temptations
The Boys are Back - Thin Lizzy
The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
The Wreck Of The Old Number 9 - Doc & Merle Watson
Wasn't Born To Follow - The Birds
Oh Sheila - Prince
Bugle Call Rag - Benny Goodman
Asylum - Supertramp

And a bonus video:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And Iran . . .

A lot has been said about the Wikileaks cable dump. Bill Kristol, the dumbest smart guy on the planet, even said:
Why can't we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can't we disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?

Sounds like movie tough guy talk for kill Assange.

Funny though, Kristol also says this:

Yesterday on Fox News, top neocon Bill Kristol broke through all the media noise about WikiLeaks’ release of U.S. diplomatic cables and came up with his top headline: that the U.S. should forget about Middle East peace and attack Iran.

KRISTOL: The world really did not want Iran to get the nuclear weapons and Iran’s neighbors in particular don’t want Iran to get nuclear weapons and they’d like us to act to prevent it.

They’re not worrying about Israeli settlements on the West Bank or the Arab street disliking an attack on Iran. They understand that Iranian nuclear weapons would change the balance of power in the Middle East and call them to go nuclear. It would be an incredible setback for all American efforts to check the spread of radical Islam and terror and further nuclear proliferation in Middle East and around the world. That’s the headline.

Iran is a country with a special relationship with the US that too many too often forget. It didn't start with the hostages in '79. In fact, that, and virtually every gesture made by them toward us stems from this little event that Juan Cole discusses:
It should be remembered that then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh angered Washington in the early 1950s by nationalizing Iranian petroleum. Eisenhower slapped sanctions on Iran and destroyed its economy. Washington at that time thought Mosaddegh was a pinko, though in fact he was a relatively conservative aristocrat. At the height of the crisis, Mosaddegh wrote a letter to Eisenhower, which was ignored. Ike had the CIA overthrow the elected, parliamentary government of Iran and install the Shah as a megalomaniacal dictator. So the tradition of letter-writing by Iranian leaders at times of tensions with Washington isn’t replete with successes. Of course, the Iranians took revenge for the heavy-handed US interference with their form of government. They made an Islamic Revolution in 1978-79, and more recently elected Ahmadinejad. What Washington wouldn’t do to have that nice Mr. Mosaddegh back.

In-freakin'-deed. That's some modest diplomacy right there.

And now the obligatory Flock of Seagulls Youtube. I worked a show with them in '83, the were charming, funny, a joy to work with. And Mike Score, the dude with "the hair" was the nicest of the bunch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why does the sun go on shining . .

There Will Be Blood

Former Senator Alan Simpson is a Very Serious Person. He must be — after all, President Obama appointed him as co-chairman of a special commission on deficit reduction.

. . .

So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. ... When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

. . .

Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.

. . .

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.

It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind. Mr. Simpson may or may not get the blood bath he craves this April, but there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize.


Context, from Mitch McConnell:

In the latest post-victory peroration by Republican honchos, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, outlined on Thursday morning his vision of the way forward for the GOP before a friendly audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation. To save you some time, here's the five-word synopsis: President Obama's agenda must die.

Loyal opposition? Not so much.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Only the Lonely

This blog post by Roger Ebert is one of the finest set of words I've ever come across. I can only excerpt a tiny bit, but please read the whole thing because he, (like us;-), includes lots of salient, beautiful music.
All the lonely people

Lonely people have a natural affinity for the internet. It's always there waiting, patient, flexible, suitable for every mood.
What do lonely people desire? Companionship. Love. Recognition. Entertainment. Camaraderie. Distraction.

Encouragement. Change. Feedback. Someone once said the fundamental reason we get married is because have a universal human need for a witness. All of these are possibilities. But what all lonely people share is a desire not to be -- or at least not to feel -- alone.
Seriously, read the whole thing, it's a short short story in a blog post. It's a beautiful comment on our human condition.

And the music is great too. He just forgot one song.

You Had The World At Your Fingertips, No One Can Make It Better Than You

Hey kids, get off my lawn! You too, you sanctimonious bastards who thought you were teaching Dems a lesson by not voting. Have you seen what you've done? Do you really think putting Rethuglicans in charge will help DADT, DOMA, climate change, single payer, SS, MediCare ... etc, etc, etc.

But why not, you know? After all, what have Obama & DemCo done for you lately, I mean aside from these 244 things.

The main failure for most folks was the dismal record of jobs creation, but did you know we went from LOSING jobs under Bush to (finally) gaining jobs under Obama?

Rome wasn't rebuilt in a day 2 years, but it sure as hell can be destroyed in a day 2 years.

Your poll tax and jim crow and greed have got to go

I've had a little hot-blooded commentary at Facebook lately, with some folks responding to a couple of posts wherein I criticized the right-wing movement in the US and those in the LGBT community who embrace Republicanism, against their own best interests.

It all started here:
LGBT friends: Please don't vote for Republicans. They want to marginalize & discriminate against you. Dem's haven't done enough but Rs? No.

My recently found sister Carolyn took issue as a long time self-identified Republican:
Too bad that is what you think of Republicans. Sounds like you don't allow for independent thinking which even a Republican can do. P.S. This is not a "democracy" but a "republic." Look up the difference.

While she is a lovely & kind person, I suspect her knee-jerk reaction confused the issue. I said "Don't vote for Republicans", which clearly means professional Republican politicians, working in concert with the Republican Party. Clearly there can be "independent thinking" by folks of any political persuasion, but that wasn't my point.

Point was, the R party has done nothing I can think of since Eisenhower left office that would in any way help working people, minorities, the persecuted and downtrodden, or anyone else not in their power elite base.

That's all I meant. Increasing redistribution of wealth upward, decrease of civil rights, increase in national dept, decrease in American manufacturing base, decrease in real wages, massive loss of retirement income for many workers, increase in phony financial instruments designed to move even more money to the upper classes, disregard for safety and priority of active duty military, the list goes on.

That was my point. I stand by it.

Look, I know many on the religious right become seduced by social issues: abortion, gay rights, etc. But folks, wake up, you're being played! While certain right-wing politicians truly are anti-abortion, NO movement will ever be made to overturn Rowe v Wade. If they were serious, they would have done it during the many years Congress was overwhelmingly R. But it's too good a wedge issue to waste by overturning the law, it's better theater to rail against abortion as the great Satan.

So please folks, think about what actually has occurred during Republican administrations and Congresses, and then vote intelligently for what will really help you and America.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

Perfect music, performed perfectly

Rockers today: can you compete with this?

Here's a close approximation of the original version:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You've taken my life, so take my soul, That's what you said and I believed it all

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” Prior To Election Day

There are a number things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the "stimulus" was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the "stimulus" with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be "non-reviewable by any court or any agency.") The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.
It continues quite convincingly.

I just voted by absentee ballot, I've done it every year when and since I lived in CA.

I like having the time to look at the candidates and propositions, (they don't always mean what they say or say what they mean), do the research, and decide with the facts in front of me rather than trying to remember everything I'd read under the pressure of being in the booth knowing people are waiting in line for me to make up my mind.

But regardless of what your preferred method is, get out and vote!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You Send Me

I'd like to offer a post from my other site because he says it better than I can. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Bill Arnett:
WARNING: I will be using racial epithets in writing this post, words that can be hurtful depending on context, but I am doing this to make a point I would find it difficult make otherwise. The reasons for use of these epithets is two-fold: first, to show the cowardice of the two above-mentioned political parties and, second, to show how the demonization of President Obama by any means possible borders on the insane, borrows the epithets of yesteryear, and makes only the most superficial changes in form or application to try to remain free of accusations that they are still naught but bigots, racists, and homophobes who find it easier to slander, insult, brand as evil, and use slightly modified epithets to make the same old Jim Crow thinly veiled threats, denigrate our fellow citizens, make their false projections as to where a candidate stands on issues, and to run yet another "Be afraid, be very afraid…" election, a GOP specialty.

The Con Game: It has been crystal clear that the only way the GOP/Teabaggers can win elections is not based upon legislation they wish to implement to benefit the least of us, restore fiscal sanity, rein in Big Banking, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Corporations, and, in general, do something good for the party.

They are exactly the same scams as the GOP used for self-aggrandizement, the rape and plunder America, conducting illegal wars and bigger and better genocides. They're "clean", WASPs, and they aren't concerned with the fact that the GOP as led by bush/cheney made America the laughingstock of the world, got America rated as the top terrorist threat to the world, bankrupted the country with policies that called for stealing the resources of Iraq when they could have purchased them on the open market, tried to bring back the Nixon axiom that if a president does it, it's not illegal, and they sat and did nothing as our rights were so narrowed as to render many of those rights moot.

The 'code words' regarding racial issues continue to be used in demonizing an opponent that can outthink them any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Lie about any democrats intentions, deny the lie when caught and proven wrong, then go back to telling the same lies to be picked up and magnified by the media until the lie becomes 'common wisdom.'

Think of the things you hear virtually everyday and compare them to the epithets of old which these new code words have replaced.

Image: A dead monkey, shot several times by police, and a comment to the effect that someone else will have to be found to pitch health care because the dead monkey, in every bigot's mind signifies, "The Nigger is dead! The Nigger is dead! Oh, and this is so, so funny because we can display all the naked racial bigotry we want 'cause when them goddamn liberals accuses us of hating niggers we can tell 'em that it's only (snort, snort) a monkey, not our nigger president."

Open calls from GOP and teabaggers to do anything possible to make Obama fail and be a one-term nigger president thrown out onto the trash heap of history, up to and including actually shooting the nigger, and preparing for it by carrying guns to Obama rallies just in case they get a clear shot. Radical churches have openly prayed for Obama to be killed while the GOP and teabaggers openly state they wish to commit treason by assassinating Obama and operating to block every effort he makes to better the country, not because he's wrong necessarily, but because he's not a WASP and is therefore an uppity nigger. (Remember how the MSM went nuts when Obama appeared with the OHIO STATE FLAG behind him, a white flag with an 'O' with a rainbow running through the 'O' and openly breathlessly reported that obviously only a socialist despot would design his very own flag and flout it on national TV. Many faces were awfully red when it was revealed that Obama had nothing to do with the design or display of the Ohio State flag. I believe this marked a turning point for these two pernicious parties as they learned quickly that the nigger and related epithets were not going to be politically palatable with voters.

This is a real dilemma for these two parties. They can only conduct a whisper campaign about how this nigger is 1) not a citizen, 2) a practicing radical Muslim, and 3) a socialist on par with the worst despots in history. These became the new substitutes for 'those in the know' to use instead of the politically incompatible word nigger.

Images: Hitler in white-face or Obama in white face with a Hitler-type mustache. Intent: Tie the nigger to one of the most evil despots of last century and hope the use of the white-face will quell accusations of racism. Wink, wink.

Declare that Obama is not only not a citizen, but a radical Muslim educated in some of the most vile Muslim schools in existence. Oh, boy! This is almost as good as being able to openly call the president a nigger terrorist wanna-be, as the associations they sought to make were that Obama was not American at all, owed his allegiance to the Muslim world, and that every act of his was to undermine our democracy and take over as dictator.

Image: Lacking any genuine proof of any of the vile accusations they have made the rightwing then chooses to use the "Obama as The Joker" posters at rallies, getting the signs shown on TV as often as possible. It's so fucking ridiculous to people with a modicum of commonsense to portray Obama, again in white face, a la Al Jolson in blackface, as being as evil as an entirely fictional character, but it demonstrates again the desperation of the GOP/teabaggers to imply, "No nigger can run a country founded by white christian men and just to prove it we'll put the nigger in white-face to suffer derision and disgust at the thought of Obama being a cartoon bad guy."

Tactic: Smear Obama's wife and children as much as possible. "Oh, horrors! That bitch Michelle wore a sleeveless dress to a state function! Shows you niggers know nothing of maintaining even false pretensions when it comes to State affairs! Not only that, but they allowed, and Michelle physically helped, the kids plant a garden, a fucking garden, on some of the most hallowed ground in America! Only a nigger would so degrade the Whitehouse, but is it still the 'Whitehouse' when niggers move in?" (Actually asked by GOP/teabagger affiliated groups.)

My hunch, my beliefs, about the results to soon be forthcoming from the elections: Teabaggers have assumed an ever greater load of pure bigotry to do some heavy lifting for the GOP. Now the election time grows near and the teabaggers have, they believe, smeared, slimed, and set the stage for a massive turnover favoring them and the GOP.

I see it differently. Saner heads, and yes, there are some, within the GOP recognizes the threat presented by the teabaggers. The two parties will split the vote as sane conservatives realize that even THEY don't want the teabaggers in charge, as the vicious, insidious policies they would pursue (reversing health care, destroying social security, eliminating Medicare, etc.) would not only be detrimental for America but could be the straw that broke the proverbial camels back insofar as Americans finally and forever abandoning a party too mean, ugly, and self-serving to ever effectively lead a nation.

One, but not all, of the reasons I believe this is a recent poll that showed 11% of respondents to the poll thought the teabaggers could solve America's problems while 77% believe that there is no way teabaggers will ever be able to run and solve the problems of government. This means that over half of the existing teabagger party members themselves believe that their party is not going to help America solve any problems.

How the teabaggers and GOP can believe that, combined, they represent salvation for America in the face of statistics like that simply marks them for the fools and simpletons they are. If the teabaggers win two or three seats, drawing votes away from serious GOP candidates, they will never gain a majority in either house. I actually expect that the more people think about the consequences of returning America to the Dark Ages by electing any combination of GOP/teabaggers the more inclined they will be to vote democratic party candidates.

Serious GOP elders running the party already see the handwriting on the wall and have started backing away from the teabaggers, not appearing with teabaggers, not donating money to teabaggers or providing other support, and, now, recognizing that the split vote between the GOP and the teabaggers could likely result in democrats GAINING seats, not losing them.

Well, we'll find out next week, so if you will excuse me please it's time for me to send in my absentee ballot.
I know Bill made several assertions without links, and if you ask in comments we will provide the references. Try me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Now You're Trying To Trick Me . . .

If Rand Paul, questionably skilled ophthalmologist & narcissist, kidnapper & pervert, had been campaigning in Japan, he would have committed ritual suicide by now. Sadly, he's running for U.S. Senate, so that option is off the table.

If he had the decency of a rattlesnake, he would have at least suspended his campaign, or even quit in shame after this took place at tonight's Paul/Conway debate:

And to the prick that commented on YouTube that this was likely a staged event and the woman was likely faking, doesn't do staged drama, unlike Tea Party darling James O'Keefe. So you're either really stupid, or just cruel. Either way, fuck off and die, please.

Contrary to Dr. Paul's assertion, the Tea Party will make you free. Well, this is real Free:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where's this place called Lonely Street?

Sorry to readers and co-bloggers for the lack of posts lately. I blame work/ambivalence/'n shit.

Meanwhile, as an antidote to the awfulness that is politics today, here is some perfect music:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Burning down the house

Ya know how you keep hearing about the foreclosure crisis and how it's caused by the poor deadbeats getting loans and stuff, and if Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae hadn't been involved everything would be OK, because them poor deadbeats just made a deal with EYES WIDE OPEN.

Yeah, not so much. The research shows that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans weren't the problem.

The problem was, and is, the banksters. Read on:
Beyond Bogus – Docx Assignment of Mortgage – Bogus Assignee for Intervening Asmts

Amid mountain of paperwork, shortcuts and forgeries mar foreclosure process

Robo-signers: Mortgage experience not necessary

Witness: Foreclosure firm owner gave gifts for altering documents

Mortgage foreclosure uproar sweeps up Northeast Ohioans

Dart Halting Evictions for Second Time in Two Years
Sheriff says he wants proof from lenders that evictions are legitimate, legal
I don't know how one buys a house without title insurance. Abstract of Title is a big industry.

So who's on the hook for all this fraud and deception?

I think that if a person/institution can't prove they own YOUR house they can't foreclose on it. That's just logical. It hasn't stopped them, but somebody should.

Now for your brain bleach:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Imaginary Lovers Numbers Never Disagree

Benoit Mandelbrot died October 14th 2010. Maybe you've heard of him, maybe not, but he had an incredible force on my life and all our lives.

After reading about his research and chaos theory I was inspired 25 years ago to learn math again. Because math suddenly made sense in the real world. One simple equation, applied over and over to the results of the previous equation, are how simple things grow complicated. Back then I had to go the library, search thru bookstores, to find text books and just do the math. All the math I had learned in school was linear. His non-linear math was, to me, the secret of the universe. It was time well spent.

Mmm, fractals, they're sexy!

What's not to like, imaginary numbers that aren't imaginary but coordinate systems that can be depicted visually. And the sheer beauty of the images! And realizing that it describes everything from snowflakes, rivers and streams, leafs and trees, blood vessels and capillaries, and solar systems to galaxies.

Just like DNA with a small number of components (ACGT) that consists of all life on our planet, this, THIS is how the universe works!

E=mc² seems simple, DNA sequences ACGT seems simple, zn+1 = zn2 seems simple. We know our world is complicated, but it's also simple. It's unpredictable, it contains things that can kill us while observing the beauty, it's unpredictable, but only within ranges.

Please don't upset the ranges.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Solomon Burke

Legendary soul and R&B vocalist Solomon Burke passed away Sunday at age 70, while en route to a performance in Amsterdam.

Burke was born in Philadelphia in 1940, in a room over a church founded by his grandmother; allegedly, she had foreseen Burke's birth in a dream. The church would be a key influence throughout his career. The day he was born, he was ordained a bishop, and by age 7 he was preaching sermons. At age 12 he had a radio ministry on Philadelphia station WHAT, and in his teens Burke made his first gospel recordings. He toured the East Coast as a gospel performer, but the crooked dealings that were standard practice in the music industry in the 50's soured him from becoming a full-time professional, and he returned to Philadelphia to study embalming.

Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records noted Burke's gospel recordings, though, and in 1960 invited the singer to New York to cut some R&B sides. According to Burke, Wexler was frustrated by his insistence that he was not a R&B singer, and his penchant for sermonizing while singing. Wexler hit upon the idea of giving Burke country-and-western songs to sing - a novel idea for a black artist in 1960 - yet became irritated as Burke brought his preaching style to the C&W material as well. Eventually, Ahmet Ertegun basically told Wexler to leave the young vocalist alone to do his thing. From those sessions, "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)", which had been a hit for Patsy Cline, became Solomon Burke's first R&B hit.

Burke would continue to work with Wexler and Bert Berns through most of the 60's, and they would produce a substantial run of hits. He had a rich voice that could give a warm and tender flavor to ballads, and an impeccable sense of swing that propelled up-tempo numbers like "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" and "Got To Get You Off My Mind", two of his biggest hits. Burke's recordings continued to retain the flavor of the church, and the sermons that had frustrated Wexler turned into lengthy intros to his songs. A large, imposing man, Burke dominated the stage with his presence, and was dubbed "King Solomon" by his fans. He played his regal persona to the hilt, arriving on stage in velvet robes, a scepter, and a crown, preceded by midgets who scattered rose petals across the stage. Burke's charisma and talent made him one of the 60's most popular soul performers. He was not as well known with white audiences, although The Rolling Stones covered "Cry To Me" and "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" during their early days. Top 40 programmers likely thought that Burke's music carried too many traces of gospel for AM radio consumption; his biggest pop hit, "Got To Get You Off My Mind", only reached #22 in the Billboard charts.

Burke left Atlantic in 1968 to record for a series of smaller labels, and although continuing to be an active performer on the R&B circuit, his star slowly faded as the 70's progressed. He also kept busy in a number of other activities, maintaining his presence in the ministry and owning a Los Angeles funeral parlor. His music's legacy would spread to Hollywood in the 80's - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" was featured in The Blues Brothers, and Patrick Swayze sang "Cry To Me" in a scene of Dirty Dancing.

During the last decade, Burke enjoyed a musical comeback. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001, and the next year won his only Grammy for his album Don't Give Up On Me. He maintained an active touring schedule, and his performances were as grandiose as ever. With his weight having ballooned to 500 pounds, Burke now sang while seated in a throne. In 2006, he returned to country music with Nashville, featuring performances with Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and Patty Loveless. Remaining active to the end, he was on his way to The Netherlands for a show with De Dijk when he passed away. Solomon Burke is survived by 21 children and 90 grandchildren.

And there ain't nothing I can do about it

Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, the kid with the mustache playing keyboard above was me.

Today, I spent the afternoon with the lead singer (green jacket, red guitar: Dave Kellstrand) and the drummer (Hal Davis). The last time the 3 of us were all together was probably in '69, so I'd say the visit was long overdue. We were all great friends, but we just drifted due to family moves and the vagaries of normal life. But we had a fine time today, comparing memories and thoughts about our misspent youth. And music. Because at the end of the day, it's all about the music.

Interestingly, we know where the tall bass player (Jon Rooff) is, and we think we've located the guy playing the purple teardrop-shaped guitar (Mathew 'Mike' Peters).

We were what was called a cover band, but we were fairly unconventional. We played not just the current radio hits, but some fairly ambitious not-so-popular rock too. For example, we played 5 songs off the 1st Buffalo Springfield album, not just the radio singles. But we also did a couple of Vanilla Fudge tunes, songs I never heard another band attempt to cover.

Were we any good? I think so, audiences seemed to like us, and we played a lot during '67-'68. We even did our own Fudge-esque versions of a couple of songs. Toward the end of our existence, we even did one original song that I wrote call "Don't Turn Out The Light", that Dave & Mike sang and did the vocal arrangement on. We felt we were future stars.

A recording of us at the gig pictured did exist, but we have no idea if it's around anywhere.

Obviously I have no real idea what song this photo shows, but since I'm playing keys pretty intently, and not guitar, I have a feeling it might be our version of this:

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Farm Aid at 25

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty at the first Farm Aid concert.

Farm Aid officially turns 25 this weekend, with this year's show held in Milwaukee. Founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young once again head up an all-star lineup helping to raise money for American farmers. I was there for that first show, held September 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois. With over 100 acts performing that day, it was easily the most diverse lineup I ever witnessed in concert.

The inspiration for Farm Aid came from remarks made by Bob Dylan at the successful Live Aid concert held earlier that summer. "I hope", Dylan said, that some of the money that's raised for the people in Africa, maybe they could just take a little bit of it, maybe … one or two million … to pay the mortgages on some of the farms." Willie Nelson felt that this was a fine idea. Soon, along with John Mellencamp, Nelson organized farmers to travel to Washington to testify before Congress about their struggles. In addition, with Neil Young, they began to put together a benefit concert intended to provide assistance to struggling American farmers. They named their benefit Farm Aid, and billed it as "A Concert For America".

They chose the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium as the site for their show, and enlisted Chicago promoter Ron Stern to oversee the logistics. Arriving in Champaign, Stern quickly learned that the home of the Fighting Illini was ill-equipped to be a music venue: “There was only 100-amp [mains] service at the stadium; not nearly enough to power a whole stage show and a dressing room/backstage complex,” he recalls. Also, a way had to be devised for getting the myriad of acts on and off stage efficiently without delaying the show. Stern brought in $50,000 worth of generators and negotiated with the power company for additional electrical capacity. To keep the show moving, a manually-operated rotating stage was built. Divided in half, while one act performed for the audience, the next act set up their gear on the half behind the curtains.

The diverse roster of performers for Farm Aid I was a spectacular array of country, rock, and blues artists rarely matched on any stage before or since. Twenty-five years on, a lot of memories of that day are a bit fuzzy, but for sheer variety and quality, I've never experienced another day of music quite like it. The show began in a steady drizzle, but by afternoon the skies had cleared, and over 75,000 of us enjoyed a fine Midwestern autumn evening. Country kingpins like Alabama, Vince Gill and Kenny Rogers appeared on the bill with legends such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and George Jones. Acoustic performers like Joni Mitchell and John Denver were featured during the day; after dark rockers like Foreigner and Huey Lewis took the stage. John Fogerty came out with a woman dressed as a pig who danced on stage, symbolizing Fogerty's legal troubles with his ex-manager. Bon Jovi, barely known at the time, played one of their first shows in a stadium atmosphere. Lone Justice, another emerging act, played one of the night's sharpest sets. Bob Dylan appeared, backed by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Their performance was so well-received that they soon agreed to launch a nationwide tour together. Sammy Hagar played live with Van Halen for the first time; Hagar launched into a raunchy monologue that got their set taken off The Nashville Network's live broadcast. Founders Young and Mellencamp turned in fine performances. Willie Nelson's set began the day's proceedings. He was a bundle of energy all day, bounding on and off the stage, introducing acts, generally keeping the party going. Nobody throws a party like Willie Nelson. Well past midnight, he launched into an hour-long set that I don't think was scheduled; I'm sure that he would have played till dawn if they had let him.

Farm Aid I raised over $9 million for struggling farmers, raised awareness of rural issues, and began a tradition that surprised Farm Aid's founders, who thought that they were putting together a one-time-only event. To this day, the Farm Aid organization has raised over $37 million and continues to advocate for family farmers throughout the USA. Celebrate 25 years of Farm Aid by checking out these classic performances from founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young from that first show in Champaign. For more details, there's this excellent article about the challenges involved in staging that now-historic show.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind, bring me my boots and shoes

I call bullshit:
Factory Jobs Return, but Employers Find Skills Shortage

BEDFORD, Ohio — Factory owners have been adding jobs slowly but steadily since the beginning of the year, giving a lift to the fragile economic recovery. And because they laid off so many workers — more than two million since the end of 2007 — manufacturers now have a vast pool of people to choose from.
Sounds good so far but ...
Here in this suburb of Cleveland, supervisors at Ben Venue Laboratories, a contract drug maker for pharmaceutical companies, have reviewed 3,600 job applications this year and found only 47 people to hire at $13 to $15 an hour, or about $31,000 a year.
Wait, isn't this where your beloved 'the free market' comes into play!?

If you can't find a skilled worker at $15/hr shouldn't you pay better wages? And/or pay for training?

Not to mention companies like this shipped as many of their jobs overseas as possible to make their stockholders happy, (IOW, help the rich get richer), and now they complain that their dog they wouldn't feed is biting them.

Just a guess, but if you didn't pay upper management 100x more than labor then maybe you could afford to find/train qualified workers. At the least qualified workers could afford to move there.

Not since right before the Great Depression has income inequality been so large. One would think MBAs and CEO's would get this: Henry Ford was an *hole in so many ways, but even he understood if people can't afford to buy your product it severely limits your product's profitability.

Now for the post's title song, Working Man's Blues #2

Monday, September 27, 2010

I've got to admit it's getting better (Better) A little better all the time

From Dan Savage:
Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself—hope you're pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other "Christians" out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).

Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.
I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
Dan's right, and he did something about it, the It Gets Better Project. and it's catching on.

Here's Dan and Terry

If you have a problem with someone's sexuality or sexual orientation? GO FUCK YOURSELF ... regardless of what teabagger [ironic, ain't it?] Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell says.

And here's some brain bleach

You're no good, baby, you're no good

CNBC will never be considered as anything but wildly supportive of the investor class and anti-labor/common people.

Yet even by their Gordon Gecko standards, Carly Fiorina was too greedy:
A consummate self-promoter, Fiorina was busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered. She paid herself handsome bonuses and perks while laying off thousands of employees to cut costs. The merger Fiorina orchestrated with Compaq in 2002 was widely seen as a failure. She was ousted in 2005.

THE STAT: HP stock lost half its value during Fiorina’s tenure.

And then there's her little Iran problem:
Fiorina's having a rough time of it. Her latest problem: defending herself against charges that HP made loads of money during her tenure by selling its products in Iran despite a U.S. trade embargo. "To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran," Fiorina's campaign told the San Jose Mercury News.

Really? Fiorina had no idea? That's odd, since...

  • Fiorina in 2003 noted Middle East sales were defying global trends, and, as theMerc notes, HP's partner there issued a press release saying sales topped $100 million and that "the seeds of the Redington-Hewlett-Packard relationship were sowed six years ago for one market - Iran."
  • Three of the three HP partners in the Middle East contacted by Christopher Stewart for a story in Portfolio magazine's August 2008 issue readily agreed to ship printers to Iran. Portfolio notified HP of the incidents, but the company didn't condemn them, instead refusing comment. Fiorina was gone as CEO at this point, but Portfolio noted that diversion of American products to Iran trough Dubai had been going strong for many years.
  • HP had an office in the Dubai free-trade zones notorious for funneling American goods to Iran, Portfolio reported — so it had ample means to be aware of how its products were being shipped.
  • After the SEC noticed the prevalance of HP products in Iran, it asked the company about the matter, and got back a letter from the company saying its Dutch subsidiary sold $120 million to Iran in 2008.
  • Finally, in January 2009, HP severed ties with Redington Gulf, the distributor that had publicly bragged about its Iran trade six years earlier.
Yep, Carly was selling to embargoed/Demonic Iran while most people, especially conservatives, thought we should be invading/bombing Iran back to the Stone Age.

Making a profit from blood and tears and American lives. A good conservative, Carly is.