Friday, November 26, 2004

Tom tom club

We watched the Brokaw 2 hour wrap up show tonight, and it wasn't as excremental as I thought it might be. They picked unarguably important highlights of American history over the last 3 decades, and reported them ...well, fairly straight.

Watergate was given a properly sober review, and while it made it clear that the undoing of Nixon was by his own hand, it didn't really discuss what an evil bastard he really was. Nor did it touch on Nixon's comparison as a Republican to today's Party. The movement conservative of today wouldn't recognize Nixon as one of their own if he were a contemporary figure. In fact, as far as policy goes, he was in many ways to the left of Clinton (EPA anyone?).

And Reagan, saintly charismatic figure as he was portrayed, was not connected with any of the truly despicable acts that took place under his watch (air traffic controllers, United Farm Workers).

And the only presentation of GWBush was, interestingly enough, an interview by Brokaw shortly after the election. To paraphrase:

Brokaw: Pres. Clinton is leaving office with a 68% approval rating, that would indicate that most Americans are happy with the direction he was leading America.

Bush: Yeah, well, I'm the President now.

With that much grace and charm presented by a politician, better to let his own words speak volumes.

But the real insight was in watching Major Tom as a young'n, reporting on, for example, Watergate. With some fire, and with some actual injection of opinion, he stated that "It is clear that the end is near." Not just the talking points, but actual reality.

Doesn't he get the irony, that today's braying yet emasculated press personalities simply will not, except in few cases, actually state WHAT THEY THINK!. The right wing press comes close, sadly, with Hannity, O'Reilly, et al stating their pre-programmed points: "The Left sucks/is morally bankrupt/is not to be taken seriously/is still in the thrall of Clinton" etc. etc. etc.

And yes, there are comparitively minor players out there: Al Franken & Air America Radio, Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, Robert Scheer, Greg Palast, David Brock & Media Matters as well as all the wonderful bloggers working for the progressive movement (see my links, and follow those to even more).

But Tom sadly points out his own irrelevance, as he has fallen into his dotage, where he and the tragic Dan Rather, once the young lions of the press, not afraid to take on the icons and powers of the day, have been reduced to mere scribes, reporting not news but kibble fed to them by political machines.

I'm sure somewhere tonight, Walter Cronkite was watching, and I'm sure he was saddened. We've gone from journalists who dug, clawed and fought for the truth, to Tim, Chris, and Tom, paper tigers with no substance.

If Watergate happened today (WMDs in Iraq, Florida 2000, Abu Ghraib) it would be treated as a minor burglary, and quickly forgotten while we discussed Kerry's cowardice in Viet Nam, Dean's scream, Edward's hair...hey, wait...that's exactly what happened.

Arrrggghhhhhhhh! I though it was all a bad dream!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

With God on our side

One thing I never fail to understand about the Christian Right is, if they are so sure of their position, why do they have to lie?

This story dropped yesterday (interesting timing, a holiday news vacuum) as reported at The Blue Lemur:

The story, which reports that a California teacher has been banned from giving students documents from American history that refer to God, including the Declaration of Independence, is said a product of right-wing spin.

In fact, Cupertino public school principal Patricia Vidmar banned documents relating to God because the teacher had been forcing students to listen to what some felt was Christian propaganda, a media watchdog site reports. According to the site, the school had told him to stop but he did not comply, at which point the principal required that he submit his lesson plans to her in advance.

The teacher, Steven Williams, sued for discrimination and is now being represented by a conservative Christian legal group, Alliance Defense Fund.

This becomes more interesting when taking a closer look at the Alliance Defense Fund. From See The Forest:

The school did not "ban the Declaration of Independence" -- that is just a lie. This story is like when you hear that a man was "arrested for praying" and you find out he was kneeling in the middle of a busy intersection at rush hour and refused to move.

This is the BIG STORY today, on Rush, and Drudge, and the rest of the Usual Suspects. And it is a carefully planned and carefully timed lie.

The story is timed for this afternoon so that it cannot be refuted until Monday.

It is timed to cause fights and hatred at family Thanksgiving dinners across the country.

It is part of a strategy to reinforce a "conventional wisdom" notion that "liberals" are "going too far" with their demands of separation of church and state.

And from People For The American Way regarding the ADF:

ADF defines itself by its ability to strategize and coordinate with lawyers all over the United States.
[. . .]
ADF also defends the right of Christians to 'share the gospel' in workplaces and public schools, claiming that any efforts to curb proselytizing at work and school are anti-Christian.

The best overall analysis of this whole piece of crap is from the brilliant Digby:

Via Peter Daou I see that the right wing bloggers are all atwitter about this article in which a teacher is reported to be suing his principal for allegedly refusing to let him teach the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God.(Well, technically it mentions a Creator.) According to these furious Republicans, the founders are rolling in their graves...

". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."


"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."


What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."


. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."


The 1796 treaty with Tripoli, negotiations begun under Washington and signed by Adams states:

[As] the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion

Please spare us the rewiting of history. There were Christians, Deists and atheists among the founders. But they were all products of the Enlightenment which the current Christians seem determined to reject. The founders are rolling in their graves, all right.

I guess it's fair to lie about your beliefs and your "opponents," because after all, when you're saved, you don't have to worry about "values" and "morals" anymore. I'm not worried about pissing off any Christians, because, as a Christian who believes in Church/State separation, I'm pissed about anyone who wants to indoctrinate kids. Unless one comes to beliefs in one's own way and time, beliefs are just dogma.

So don't kick my dog, ma.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Come sail away...

From Reuters yesterday:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip.
That started from this tropic port,
aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
the skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day,
for a three hour tour, a three hour tour………
The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
the Minnow would be lost; the Minnow would be lost.
The ship took ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle,
with Gilligan, the Skipper too,
the Millionaire, and his Wife,
the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann,
here on Gilligan's Isle.

Sorry, I couldn't resist that.

Actually, here's the real tidbit from Reuters:

The Senate voted 65-30 for the legislation late on Saturday that sets aside funds for a range of priorities including a presidential yacht...

This is the good ol' boy that America wants to have a beer with ("Muffy, bring me a microbrew, that's a good girl"), the down home guy who clears brush and gives reporters nicknames. This is the guy who is fighting for values across this great land.

This is the Imperial Presidency, an adolescent's fantasy of power.

Scene: Up in a treehouse, late at night, lit by flashlights:
Georgie: "Dude' I got a boat! And I don't have to pay for it!"

Condi: "Bitchin! Can I come out on it too?"

Dickie: "Of course you can. Didn't Georgie let you join our club?"

Rummy: "Damn! We can sail around all the time, and our parents can't stop us! Cool!"

Georgie: "My dad tries to stop me, I'll throw his bony ass overboard."

Mommy Barb: (heard in the distance) "Oh George, you can't go out on the boat. I told you, it's not yours!"

Georgie: "Aw, man. She'll whip my ass. Crap, I gotta go in. Laters..."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Stand by your man

Porter Goss, new CIA director, told Congress when he was nominated for the position that he would not inject any partisanship into the troubled agency.

So it was no surprise when he then did this (from the NYTimes):

Porter J. Goss, the new intelligence chief, has told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to "support the administration and its policies in our work,'' a copy of an internal memorandum shows.

"As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," Mr. Goss said in the memorandum, which was circulated late on Monday. He said in the document that he was seeking "to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road."

Some agency personnel saw no problem with this. As I noted in a previous post, Michael Scheuer, Chief of the Osama Bin Laden desk at the CIA had anonymously written a book earlier this year, "Imperial Hubris," which wasn;t kind to either the Agency or the Administration. So this might have been seen as a warning against straying off the reservation.

At a minimum, Mr. Goss's memorandum appeared to be a swipe against an agency decision under George J. Tenet, his predecessor as director of central intelligence, to permit a senior analyst at the agency, Michael Scheuer, to write a book and grant interviews that were critical of the Bush administration's policies on terrorism.

"Mike exploited a seam in the rules and inappropriately used it to express his own policy views,'' the official said of Mr. Scheuer. "That did serious damage to the agency, because many people, including some in the White House, thought that he was being urged by the agency to take on the president. I know that was not the case.''

But wait, there's more:

But a second former intelligence official said he was concerned that the memorandum and the changes represented an effort by Mr. Goss to stifle independence.

"If Goss is asking people to color their views and be a team player, that's not what people at C.I.A. signed up for,'' said the former intelligence official. The official and others interviewed in recent days spoke on condition that they not be named, saying they did not want to inflame tensions at the agency.

Keep in mind that the transition to Goss' leadership has been going very very smoothly:

Tensions between the agency's new leadership team, which took over in late September, and senior career officials are more intense than at any time since the late 1970's. The most significant changes so far have been the resignations on Monday of Stephen R. Kappes, the deputy director of operations, and his deputy, Michael Sulick...

"It's just very hard to divine what's going on over there,'' said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, who said he and other members of the Senate intelligence committee would be seeking answers at closed sessions this week. "But on issue after issue, there's a real question about whether the country and the Congress are going to get an unvarnished picture of our intelligence situation at a critical time.''

There's more, much much more, so read the whole article.

As another example of non-partisan intelligence gathering and analysis, consider this discussion of the August 2001 PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Within the US," as quoted by Condi Rice during the 9/11 Commission hearings (from TheDailyHowler-scroll down):

Rice appeared before the commission on April 8, 2004. Special rules had been crafted for her appearance—no one could question for more than ten minutes. Blessed by these special restrictions, Rice knew what she had to do when questioned by Richard Ben-Veniste. She stalled; she hemmed and hawed; she fudged and evaded; and yes, eventually, she told a flat lie. And how did the “press corps” react to all this? How else? They all pandered to Condi! Rice had baldly broken her oath—and your pundits all pandered to Condi.

How did the sequence of questioning go? As he began, Ben-Veniste asked a bone-simple, yes-or-no question about a briefing Bush received in the summer before 9/11. Eventually, he was forced to ask his question three times. But here was its first iteration:

BEN-VENISTE (4/8/04): Isn’t it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] warned against possible attacks in this country?
After Rice gave an odd reply, Ben-Veniste asked his question again. This time he used more specific language—language he had taken straight from the PDB itself:
BEN-VENISTE (second iteration): As of the August 6th briefing, you learned that al Qaeda members have resided or traveled to the United States for years and maintained a support system in the United States. And you learned that FBI information since the 1998 Blind Sheik—warning of hijackings to free the Blind Sheik indicated a pattern of suspicious activity in the country, up until August 6th, consistent with preparation for hijackings. Isn’t that so?

The answer to that question was simple—yes. In fact, the highlighted language came straight from the PDB in question (text of PDB below). But Ben-Veniste was at a disadvantage; the August 6 PDB was still classified, so while he and Rice knew what it said, the press and the public had no way to know. And Darling Condi knew what this meant; it meant that she could dissemble as much as she pleased, and her fake answers couldn’t be checked. So the Icon hemmed and hawed again—forcing Ben-Veniste to ask his question a third, final time:

BEN-VENISTE (third iteration): You have indicated here that this [PDB] was some historical document. And I am asking you whether it is not the case that you learned in the PDB memo of August 6th that the FBI was saying that it had information suggesting that preparations—not historically, but ongoing, along with these numerous full-field investigations against al Qaeda cells—that preparations were being made consistent with hijackings within the United States.
Again, the highlighted language came straight from the PDB (text below). The answer to this question was bone-simple —yes. But Condi knew the PDB was still under wraps—so she refused “to tell the whole truth.” In fact, Rice’s third answer was so far from the truth that it can best be described as a lie.

Our new Secretary of State. Makes me feel so proud.

Welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

UCLA CLass Field Trip 11.18.04

We're going to Mad Dog Studios (web site).

We'll meet there at 7:00, and we'll see all three of their rooms, and spend time discussing maintenance issues in all 3. They're good people, and it should be fun.

Mad Dog Studios
291 S. Lake St.
Burbank, CA 91502

From the valley, head east on either Magnolia or Victory Lake is last main street before the 5 Fwy.
Turn right on Victory, turn left at Olive, Turn right on Lake, halfway down the block on right side.

From Hollywood, 101 North to Barham, go right. Past Warner Bros Barham becomes Olive. Continue on to Lake as above.

Yahoo map

See you tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

It's your thing, do what you wanna do

Lambert at Corrente posted the following question:

Whither Corrente?

After 11/2, everything changed.

We're not going away, but we need to think about where we are going. Readers?

I responded in his comments, and here's what I said:

You folks, as well a few of the other clear leaders of the lefty blog movement, have been responsible for starting and keeping very important conversations alive.

You even helped me decide to start my own humble blog, and that's a powerful action. Each one of us, as writers, readers, and advocates will reach that many more people, and, hopefully, change and awaken that many more dormant minds.

Keep being funny, outraged, pissy, brilliant. And for me, the Kos diaries aren't the way for you to go; Kos is doing that already. Perhaps some longer pieces, position papers, perhaps. Perhaps campaigns to get OpEd page access in friendly newspapers. Perhaps action campaigns: "Every Correntian in Los Angeles meet next Sunday PM by the Federal building on Wilshire to protest . . ."

But don't worry too much about what to do, just keep doing. Everyone, including the Corrente collective, has a different personality, so appropriate action will evolve naturally.

Keep it up, guys.

We all will continue to find our own voices, and we will raise them up in a mighty symphony of progressive song. Sounds corny but there it is. Each person, each blog, each group will continue what has started the last few years, and will fight with activism, commentary, money, whatever tools we may have at our disposal. We're all in this tigether, and we all have different jobs.

Do your jobs!

P.S. I was at first going to title this post "Rich Correntian Letter," but sense prevailed.

Power to the people, right on

I heard the most amazing speech today. KPFK, my local Pacifica outlet played an address by Bill Moyers, the gentle yet fierce progressive who has found a home on PBS in recent years. As I didn't hear the intro, I had no idea when the speech was given. Only after I did some web research did I find out that it was from June 4, 2003, and had been presented to Take Back America conference sponsered by the Campaign for America's Future. I'm really glad I didn't hear it then, but rather now, since it still seemed so relevant. It was by far the most uplifting, invigorating, and important speech I can remember hearing, especially in light of recent know elections?

I have resisted posting anything about the red states/blue states post election naval gazing that has been present in the blogosphere since 11.02.04. Others have done wonderful jobs of dissecting the left's failure to prevail, while many have leaned toward conciliatory actions to the right wingers, especially regarding the "morals" thing.

Step back with me to the curtain-raiser, the founding convention of the People's Party – better known as the Populists – in 1892. The members were mainly cotton and wheat farmers from the recently reconstructed South and the newly settled Great Plains, and they had come on hard, hard times, driven to the wall by falling prices for their crops on one hand and racking interest rates, freight charges and supply costs on the other. This in the midst of a booming and growing industrial America. They were angry, and their platform – issued deliberately on the 4th of July – pulled no punches. "We meet," it said, "in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin....Corruption dominates the ballot box, the [state] legislatures and the Congress and touches even the bench.....The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced....The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few."

But Moyer's address is what I have been waiting for: a validation of everything I believe is right about the left. The progressive attitude, compasson for humanity instead of corporations, a call for control over markets and monopolies, in short, the credo of the Democratic left.

This is what's hard to believe – hardly a century had passed since 1776 before the still-young revolution was being strangled in the hard grip of a merciless ruling class. The large corporations that were called into being by modern industrialism after 1865 – the end of the Civil War – had combined into trusts capable of making minions of both politics and government. What Henry George called "an immense wedge" was being forced through American society by "the maldistribution of wealth, status, and opportunity."

And he credibly defines the current administration and its real architect:

We should pause here to consider that this is Karl Rove's cherished period of American history; it was, as I read him, the seminal influence on the man who is said to be George W.'s brain. From his own public comments and my reading of the record, it is apparent that Karl Rove has modeled the Bush presidency on that of William McKinley, who was in the White House from 1897 to 1901, and modeled himself on Mark Hanna, the man who virtually manufactured McKinley. Hanna had one consummate passion – to serve corporate and imperial power. It was said that he believed "without compunction, that the state of Ohio existed for property. It had no other function...Great wealth was to be gained through monopoly, through using the State for private ends; it was axiomatic therefore that businessmen should run the government and run it for personal profit."

And here it is brought completely forward, the manifestation of Hanna in the guise of Rove:

This "degenerate and unlovely age," as one historian calls it, exists in the mind of Karl Rove – the reputed brain of George W. Bush – as the seminal age of inspiration for the politics and governance of America today.

That the "leaders" have moved so far away from the idea of "...of the People, By the People..." is frightening. And yet, so many in both the governed populace as well as those who govern seem to be not bothered by this at all. And the argument can be made that the far right is consciously promoting this agenda, where people are mere tools of corporate and government schemes.

Much was done in the late 19th century that was clearly progressive, including ideas championed ty the Republican President Theodore Roosevelt:

Here is the simplest laundry-list of what was accomplished at state and Federal levels: Publicly regulated or owned transportation, sanitation and utilities systems. The partial restoration of competition in the marketplace through improved antitrust laws. Increased fairness in taxation. Expansion of the public education and juvenile justice systems. Safer workplaces and guarantees of compensation to workers injured on the job. Oversight of the purity of water, medicines and foods. Conservation of the national wilderness heritage against overdevelopment, and honest bidding on any public mining, lumbering and ranching. We take these for granted today – or we did until recently. All were provided not by the automatic workings of free enterprise but by implementing the idea in the Declaration of Independence that the people had a right to governments that best promoted their "safety and happiness."

More about this as I fully digest Moyer's words. But as I read the transcript, I still feel what I experienced as I heard this address on my car radio; an affirmation of what the left is truly fighting for. We're competing for the badge of Warriors for Humanity, Fighters for Fairness, Resistance Forces against oligarchy, and we're convicted in our beliefs of justice and morality.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Masters of reality

The chief of the CIA's Osama Bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, has resigned from said CIA, so that he can openly tell America how bad the government screwed up!

In yesterday's Washington Post:

"I have concluded that there has not been adequate national debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the force he leads and inspires, and the nature of the intelligence reform needed to address that threat," Scheuer, whom the CIA banned from speaking publicly in July, said in a statement issued by his publisher.

Astonishingly, the CIA had already let him anonymously write a book called "Imperial Hubris" wherein he complained about the administration, their duplicitous abandonment of the hunt for Bin Laden, and their focus on the despotic but contained Saddam Hussein.

But when his criticisms expanded to include his own Agency, it was clear it was time to go.

But he became a critic of the war in Iraq, saying it inflamed anti-American sentiment among Muslims, and eventually his name was published. After some White House officials and pundits asserted that the CIA had allowed Scheuer to act as its surrogate critic on the war, CIA officials forbade him from speaking publicly.

At first glance, it might appear that he was following the administration talking point "That danged CIA, if they had only given us good intelligence."

But no:

The statement, issued in the name of Scheuer's publicist, Christina Davidson, said Scheuer criticized the CIA leadership for allowing "the clandestine service to be scapegoated for pre-9-11 failures -- failure more properly placed at the door of senior members of the U.S. intelligence community and senior policymakers, for whom, in Scheuer's view, saving lives has seldom appeared to be the top priority."

How many does it take?

Richard Clarke wasn't enough.

Paul O'Niell wasn't enough.

John DiIulio wasn't enough.

How many insiders spilling their guts will it take for enough people get the idea? Up is down, black is white, if their mouths are moving they're lying, and every other cliche I can think of right now and I still can't express how soulless and wretched this administration is.

Maybe this time Michael Scheuer will finally be enough. But I doubt it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Lawyers, guns, and money

The Geneva Conventions were held after World War II, to specify exactly how prisoners would be treated during war . The US was especially interested in these proceedings, because we hoped that we could avoid the gross maltreatments that American GIs endured in prison camps during that war.

Recently, however, the far right, esp. the hawks who pursued the war in Iraq have been much more short-sighted in their views. Forgetting that American soldiers can and will be captured during the current conflict, they have championed severe methods of interrogation of "detainees."

Sounds sensible, we might say. If the bastards have any information that may be helpful, we should pound it out of them, to save American lives.

Actually, no. Torture really doesn't work, it provides a lot of inaccurate data, and often is a waste of time in terms of gathered intelligence. But many warhawks seem to really get excited, in a manly way, about "prisoner abuse." The Abu Ghraib debacle clearly showed this; anyone with more than a few brain cells will realize that this wasn't just a few "bad apples," but a course of activity promoted and directed by superiors. How superior? Consider this from The Washington Monthly:

War has always had its own codes and rules, but the modern laws governing armed conflict were developed during the 20th century, when industrialized nations fought large, mechanized, bloody wars of attrition. World Wars I and II—featuring aerial combat, bombing campaigns, chemical and trench warfare, and the slaughter of soldiers and civilians on an unprecedented scale—spurred the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which laid out basic principles of conduct for civilized nations. These treaties aimed to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and to the extent possible, to minimize the suffering inherent in wa
But the lawyers—including White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Defense Department general counsel William Haynes II, Vice President Cheney's counsel David Addington, and Jay Bybee of the Justice Department (who now sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)—went further. They advised the president to sign a blanket statement of policy that the men captured in Afghanistan would not be subject to the Geneva Conventions, and that by executive fiat, they would all be declared “unlawful enemy combatants,” a category that does not exist in international law.

Gonzales' characterization of the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" further demonstrates how idealistic and short-sighted the right-wing view of current combat is. Because if we do it to them, then it's OK for them to do it to us!

Apart from this minor flaw, Mr. Gonzales's nomination has a few other small problems:

So Uncle Albert has a few problems, but that shouldn't matter to GWBush. After all, he's been a loyal consigliere for many years, and that counts more that the law.

Ashcroft, a fairly lousy lawyer but a stalwart idealogue, will now be replcaed by an idealogue who happens to be a smart lawyer as well.

From the frying pan...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

UCLA Studio Maintenance field trip 11/11-Update

Update: No luck rearranging a field trip this week, so let's do it next week, 11/18.

Also, since we need to have 3 make up meetings, can everybody vote on what nights are best, or even perhaps Saturdays? How does Tuesday night sound? Either post your choice in the comments section, or email me, the link for mail is in the left column near the top, in case you have forgotten it.



Well, it looks like we struck out. I tried to make it happen with 2 studios, but both got bookings.

I will try another one tomorrow (Wednesday), so check back here, but as of now, it looks like we will have Thursday, 11/11 off.

One of the studios told me that we could do it next Thursday., 11/18, so email me if that sounds like a good idea.

One way or another, we'll see each other next Thursday, 11/18.

Again, check back tomorrow night or Thursday morning, just in case I can make something happen.

Thanks, everyone.

Jesus is just alright with me

I'm working on a longer piece about this, but I felt this was a good time to open this topic. The right's pre-election infatuation with conservative Catholics, demonstrated visibly by GWBush attending Mass on Sunday, Oct. 31, is especially ironic in light of the fact that most evangelical, born-again conservative Christians believe that Catholics are NOT Christians.

I used to work with some of the biggest evangelical churches here in So. Cal., designing and building recording studios for their Christian record labels (another topic worth discussing), so I feel confidant to speak on this issue. I spent time with staff, management, insiders, and not just the average parishioners, and I heard comments supporting my thesis many, many times.

In Catholic apologetics, much is made of the various scriptures discussing "works," i.e., how people demonstrate their Christianity. This doesn't mean public piety and pronouncement, but rather quietly helping the less fortunate, and behaving in a caring and selfless manner. "Do unto others..." is really the operative ideal. Demonstrating time and again one's Christian ethics is a noble goal. Of course, one must truly believe in Jesus as the Christ, sent from God to atone for mankind's sins.

The evangelicals, especially the large worldwide churches I worked with, however, pay less attention to the scriptures about "works" and focus on the idea of being "saved." Once someone is "born again," they are "saved," and that's that. Bad behavior is frowned upon, but it will not interfere with being "saved."

They believe that Catholics haven't really gone through this "born again" moment, so they aren't really "saved." I remember working with one man who was in charge of the sound system at one of these very large churches, he was saying that he wished his mother was saved. An Hispanic, he admitted that he had been raised Catholic. I asked if his mother went to church, prayed, and believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and he said "Of course she does. But she's not 'saved.'"

In the eyes of many born-again, Catholics are only slightly better than the evil cultists Mormons. Yet, this election cycle, they were gladly accepted as long as they passed the litmus test, not of being true Christians, but being anti-Kerry (anti-choice.) Utter hypocrisy, much like Nader allowing Republicans to support his ballot presence.

Such values...

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Pay the price

Note: This is a repost from a while back. I had never seen this little story until my Mom sent it to me, but it appeared yesterday on TalkLeft credited to Michael Moore, but one of their commentors referred back to what seems to be the true origin: a reader submission to

Anyway, here it is again. Seems even more relevent than before. Those on the right, especially those young'ns who don't remember some of the social and economic struggles this country has endured the last 50 years will likely scoff. Heck, I can remember when doctors at hospitals still smoked while treating patients."Personal freedom/personal responsibility" you might say. I say crap. Take your personal responsibility (read: do anything I damn well please to hurt myself) and shove it up your responsibility as a human to hurt no one else.

Don't worry, I love the first amendment. It gives me the right to this blog. But responsibility means to others as well as one's self. Just as capitalism surely has to have some checks and balances, so does personal action.
  • you can smoke, but you can't blow it in my face
  • you can't yell fire in a crowded theater
  • you can't pour pollution into a drinking water source and not expect ramifications
  • you can't sell products that contain harmful ingredients without letting us know
  • you can't expect free medical care, and deny it to others merely because of class station
  • your employer can't make you do something unsafe unless both you and they are aware of the risks
  • you can't plan on your own social security to be in place while denying it to those who follow, who have just invested their tax free savings into the next Enron
  • yada yada yada
Be that as it may, I'm here to tell you that this is still pretty poignant and true.

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry. In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his workday. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine drinking, cheese eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Songs of Victory

Atrios posted this first, but it's so appropriate:

Something's coming

Could be! Who knows?
There something due any day
I will know right away
Soon as it shows

It may come cannon-balling down from the sky
Gleam in its eye
Bright as a rose
Who knows?

It's only just out of reach
Down a block, on the beach
Under a tree
I got a feeling there's a miracle due
Gonna come through
Coming to me

Could it be
Yes it could
Something's coming
Something good
If I can wait

Somethings coming
I don't know what it is
But it is
Gonna be great

With a click
With a shock
Bell will jingle
Door will knock
Open the latch

Something's coming
I don't know what it is
But it is
Gonna be great

Around the corner
Or whistling down the river
Come on, deliver
To me
To me

Could be
Who knows?
There something due any day
I will know right away
Soon as it shows

It may come cannon-balling down from the sky
Gleam in its eye
Bright as a rose
Who knows?

It's only just out of reach
Down a block, on the beach
Under a tree
I got a feeling there's a miracle due
Gonna come through
Coming to me
To me

Tonight, Tonight
Won't be just any night
Tonight there will be no morning star.


Just an old fashioned love song

More songs of hope and inspiration:

The Gates of Delirium

Soon, oh soon the light,
Pass within and soothe this endless night
And wait here for you,
Our reason to be here.

Soon, oh soon the time,
All we move to gain will reach and calm;
Our heart is open,
Our reason to be here.

Long ago, set into rhyme.
Soon, oh soon the light,
Ours to shape for all time,
Ours the right;
The sun will lead us,
Our reason to be here.

Soon, oh soon the light,
Ours to shape for all time,
Ours the right;
The sun will lead us,
Our reason to be here.

Meet the new Boss

Springsteen, from the Kerry rally:

No Surrender

We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school
Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you're tired and you just want to close your eyes and follow your dreams down

We made a promise we swore we'd always remember
No retreat no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter's night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Now young faces grow sad and old and hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
I'm ready to grow young again
And hear your sister's voice calling us home across the open yards
Well maybe we could cut someplace of our own
With these drums and these guitars

Blood brothers in the stormy night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Monday, November 01, 2004

I got the music in me

Songs of hope and inspiration:

Time and a word

In the morning when you rise,
Do you open up your eyes, see what I see?
Do you see the same things ev'ry day?

Do you think of a way to start the day
Getting things in proportion?
Spread the news and help the world go 'round.

Have you heard of a time that will help us get it together again?
Have you heard of the word that will stop us going wrong?
Well, the time is near the word you'll hear
When you get things in perspective.
Spread the news and help the word go round.

There's a time and the time is now and it's right for me,
It's right for me, and the time is now.
There's a word and the word is love and it's right for me,
It's right for me, and the word is love.

Close to the edge

Paul Krugman has emerged in this election cycle as one of the truly great American commentators. By being able to skewer either side, his credibility seems unimpeachable. Of course, during this election cycle he has been kept very busy mainly critiquing the right, as not only have they been in control of the bulk of the Americal political landscape, but have also been the ones who richly deserve the bulk of the criticism.

Here he is in an interview with The Texas Observer:
We’re right on the edge between those two possibilities. Things have shifted quite a lot over the past few days. On the one hand, the ruling party really doesn’t believe in democratic norms. They’ve been trying to rig the election in a number of ways, and they’ve rolled out [the idea] that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for the terrorists, in effect. That’s a deeply undemocratic thing, and if they win, they will try to institutionalize that. On the other hand, if they lose and the records are opened—it’s pretty obvious that it will be devastating. So it’s a weird moment. You feel like people are noticing the nakedness of the emperor—finally—but either just at the last minute or maybe not quite in time.

What happened here after 9/11 was this adulation for the leadership that completely swamped any rational perception of who these guys were and what they were like. [The first presidential] debate had an effect partly because it was as if for the first time in three-plus years, people were able to see without the shroud of glory. column to Kerry, my open letter to him if he wins, will be: Do not be magnanimous. You need to expose and dismantle this machine.

We’re within inches of having most of the world, actually all of the world, and quite a few Americans, believing that we’re no longer a functioning democracy. That could happen a month from now. Moderates and liberals made a terrible mistake in 2000. Their attitude was well, this was very bad, but the right thing to do was to basically gloss over it and pretend it’s okay. That just encouraged these guys. It should have been a mobilizing point.

Sound like hyperbole, you think? Not at all. Reconsider all the actions of the Right, many of which are clearly intended to delegitimize the entire Left side of the political spectrum, and you will have the truth.

Don't know if it will set you free, however.

Take it, take another little piece of my heart...Break it...

From Atrios:The "Jersey Girls," otherwise know as 9/11 widows who shamed the GWBush regime into investigating that tragedy, have watched the latest OBL video, and they give it, and Bush, two thumbs down:

We cried when we saw the tape on Friday of Osama Bin Laden. He's tanned and healthy. He does not look desperate or scared. He does not look like a man on the run.

Three years ago, President Bush promised us he would capture Osama Bin Laden--Dead or Alive. He didn't do that.

The man that murdered our husbands, is back terrorizing our country again. The videotape of him has brought us back to 9/11. We feel threatened. We feel vulnerable. We are scared.

Our question to President Bush is: Why didn't you catch him when you promised us you would? Why is this mass murderer--this madman-- still out there making videotapes and terrorizing our country three years after you promised our country that you would make us safe from him? President Bush, why cant you keep us safe from this madmen?

Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle

This needs to be made into a commercial for Monday television.

It should also contain these gems:

"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection.

These comments clearly show an administration, and a political machine, that is utterly and completely evil. Fer Christ's sake: " good for us!!" I submit for your consideration that anyone who says, or even believes this, should be offered a 12 month, all expense paid vacation in Iraq and be delivered into the hands of the grateful Iraqi populace, who will greet them with flowers.

Better idea, they should be sent to Saudi Arabi to be exchange students, studying Wahabi Islam, so they can bring a little cross cultural and comparitive religious love back home.

Friends, Americans, citizens, lend me your ears. We come to bury Bush, not to praise him.