Saturday, September 30, 2006

We are family, I got all my brothers with me

We are family
Get up everybody and sing
Everyone can see we're together
as we walk on by...
and we fly just like birds of a feather
We know that's no lie-a-ie
All of the people around us to say...
Can we be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose, yeah

Young love, first love, filled with true devotion,

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La) knew about this:
The congressional sponsor of the page, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., said he was asked by the youth's parents not to pursue the matter, so he dropped it.

Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y.) knew about this:

Alexander said that before deciding to end his involvement, he passed on what he knew to the chairman of the House Republican campaign organization, Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y. Reynolds' spokesman, Carl Forti, said the campaign chairman also took no action in deference to the parents' wishes.

Rep. John Shimkus knew about this:

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Page Board that oversees the congressional work-study program for high schoolers, said he did investigate but Foley falsely assured him he was only mentoring the boy. Pages are high school students who attend classes under congressional supervision and work as messengers.

Rep. John Boehner knew about this:

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page.

Denny Hastert knew about this.
Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Who got told about this? Rep. Reynolds, head of the NRCC! As Josh Marshall says:
Why would Alexander go to the head of the NRCC? Did anyone tell House leadership? Clearly, no one reported the exchanges to the Department of Justice -- as Foley's own laws would have required, if circumstances had been slightly different. Did anyone take internal disciplinary action? And, the biggest question of all: if others knew and did nothing -- how can they assure parents of current and future pages that nothing like this is going on now?

Josh adds here:
Finally, one detail here isn't getting enough attention. Rep. Alexander (R-LA), the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, says he contacted the NRCC. That's the House Republicans' election committee, a political organization entirely separate from the House bureaucracy and the Congress. (The head of the NRCC this cycle is Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).) That is, to put it mildly, not in the disciplinary and administrative chain of command of the House of Representatives.

Who didn't know? Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), the only Democrat on the House Page Board.

Who else didn't know, until now? The House Ethics Committee.

Finally we have clear evidence of the Family Values and Ethics of the modern Republican Party.


Friday, September 29, 2006

George Allen: Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune, something to make us all happy

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. As George Allen's campaign for Senate circles the drain ever faster, we need to see exactly what about him charmed the pants off the Republican Party:

From Free Republic:
Speculation rages as to who will run for president in 2008. It takes only a few minutes of conversation with Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia to understand why top-level Republicans are encouraging him to run. His easy charm, straight talk, quick wit, mental acuity and experience separate him from the pack of would-be candidates.

Formerly the governor of Virginia, Sen. Allen also served as a U.S. representative and in the Virginia House of Delegates. Now serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he's putting his experience to work around the globe.

Hokay. Well, at Stones Cry Out we find:

George Will profiles Virginia Senator George Allen today in his column and provides some insight into why the Senator may be the best candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Except, whoopsie, when we go to the ClownHall link for George Will, we find a 404 error:

The page cannot be found

The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

Dang. We'll have to search elsewhere for our Right-Wing wisdom. In fact, here's some now. From the Portsmouth, NH Sea Coast Online:
U.S. Sen. George Allen of Virginia came out on top in a N.H. Insider poll that asked people whom they would vote for if the 2008 Republican presidential primary were held now.

The poll took place between June 8-13, and targeted N.H. Republican insiders, activists and leaders via e-mail, said Stephen DeMaura, founder of the N.H. Insider Web site.

Ouch. Well, let's see what the L.A. Examiner says:

If Republicans decide to replicate the style and substance of President Bush when nominating a potential successor in 2008, they will likely choose another conservative named George.

George Allen, that is, the junior senator from Virginia, who agrees with Bush on most major issues. On their few points of disagreement, such as immigration and campaign finance, Allen sides with the more conservative Republicans who will dominate primary election voting.

Here is a piece from the American Spectator that, while being a puff piece on Allen, actually exposes his sins, all the while excusing them. It's worth a complete read:

But make no mistake -- George F. Allen is running for president. Or he just happens especially to enjoy primary states. In March and April, he visited Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

How is it that all these optimistic folks missed some of his real back story, from the Wikipedia entry:

It was revealed on August 8, 2006 that Allen, who opposes abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, life of the mother, and prior to viability), owned stock in Barr Laboratories Inc., the only American maker of the Plan B "morning after pill", an emergency contraceptive that is supposed to prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of intercourse.

Allen has a long history of interest in the Confederate flag, in spite of his never having lived in the South until his transfer from UCLA to the University of Virginia as a sophomore in college. The May 8, 2006 and the May 15, 2006 issues of The New Republic reported extensively on Allen's long association with the Confederate flag. The magazine reported that "[a]ccording to his colleagues, classmates, and published reports, Allen has either displayed the Confederate flag – on himself, his car, inside his home – or expressed his enthusiastic approval of the emblem from approximately 1967 to 2000." Allen wore a Confederate flag pin for his high school senior class photo. In high school, college, and law school, Allen adorned his vehicle with a Confederate flag. In college he displayed a Confederate flag in his room. He displayed a Confederate flag in his family's living room until 1992.

The Nation
reported in 2006 that Allen, as Governor, initiated contact with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), one of the largest white supremacist groups. The CCC descended from the segregationist White Citizens' Councils of the Jim Crow-era South.

On September 24, 2006, Washington correspondent Michael Scherer reported that the magazine had interviewed nineteen of his teammates and that "[t]hree former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s."

The question thus becomes: What exactly would have been his bona fides as a Presidential Candidate? "His easy charm, straight talk, quick wit, mental acuity?" "...replicate the style and substance of President Bush?" Sure. No one doesn't believe that image sells, more and more all the time. The days of electing a Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or Nixon based on their experience, background, and intelligence are likely gone forever. Those dudes were ugly! As late as the '60s, that didn't matter. Today an empty suit with a decent face like GWBush or Allen, without an original idea in their head, can get total party support.

Why? Here's why, from earlier:
"George Allen, that is, the junior senator from Virginia, who agrees with Bush on most major issues. On their few points of disagreement, such as immigration and campaign finance, Allen sides with the more conservative Republicans who will dominate primary election voting."

In other words, as long as you adhere to party dogma, and don't embarrass yourself too badly, you can get elected. Allen passed the first test, but failed the second.

This demonstrates once and for all the complete lack of seriousness, of gravitas (haven't heard that word in a while) of the modern Republican Party. George Allen was their poster boy. And, with his clear rascism, his frat boy buffoonery, the macaca moment, and his lack of intellectual achievement, he still is the poster boy for the Republican Party.

He just won't be in office anymore.

Nothing really matters, Pt 8

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Nothing really matters, Pt 7

Im a political man and I practice what I preach

I may not be a high traffic blogger, but I sure know some. Thus, I was lucky to be invited to attend a small private Ned Lamont (D-CT I hope I hope I hope) fundraiser in Los Angeles last night. Hosts were largely Hollywood writers, producers, as well as my buddy Arianna, who because of book tour engagements, wasn't able to attend. John Amato, Jane Hamsher, and Mickey Kaus were among the other bloggers there.

Here is Jane interviewing Ned a while back:

Ned chatted with various groups of us, very at ease, friendly. He did deliver a 15 min. address, the usual talking points, but coming from him, I believe them. While this wasn't a real press event, I did take some notes:

He does believe in Universal Health Care. 47 million Americans have no health insurance, and he's not really happy about that. And America spends 50% more per person than many other fully insured countries. There's some American productivity down the crapper.

He mentioned that Lincoln, the Republican that every Repub today liked to emulate by doing everything that Lincoln was against, funded the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, which gave Federal lands to states for universities. This, he said, was an appropriate use of Federal powers and funds.

He talked about his state of Connecticut having 63 lobbyists per elected Representative and Senator as a bad thing.

He mentioned the newly leaked NIE. Leaked apparently because someone(s) in the intelligence communities don't seem to think like GWBush does, that we are, you know, safer now.

And in re: Iraq, he said that, as a businessman, he believed that often, schedules need to be made, and adhered to. And that it was time to start an over-the-horizon deployment of American troops from Iraq, ending sometime in '07. Time for both sides to put up and shut up.

I spoke with him after, and he agreed to do an email interview with me, which I will post here and at HuffPo. I also spoke with some supporters working and traveling with him, who seem to genuinely like the guy, and believe in him.

Any inaccuracies here are solely my error, by the way. I took largely illegible notes, so I can only go by what I wrote tempered by my memory. I really enjoyed meeting him, and feel he would be a great addition to the Senate.

Far better than Lieberman. Far, far better.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ooh my head!

Just heard on Scarborough:

"The left is attacking O'Reilly's new book as filled with lies. Are they right? Let's ask John Stossel."


John Kerry on Bush: It's the same old song

“President Bush owed Americans a candid assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, but offered more misleading rhetoric. Less than five years after American troops masterfully toppled the Taliban, the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again. Time is running out to avert disaster in the war we were right to fight after 9/11.

Funded largely by the flourishing opium trade, the resurgent Taliban continues to threaten the Karzai government, especially in southern Afghanistan. Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled.

We have seven times more troops in the crossfire of a civil war in Iraq, which our own intelligence agencies say fuels terrorism, than we have in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda still roams free. And his words about providing money to rebuild Afghanistan ring hollow when his Administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than for Afghanistan and actually cut Afghan aid by 30% this year. The President continues to pretend that the recent plot to blow up US-bound jets justifies the war in Iraq when that plot was masterminded from Afghanistan by the same al Qaeda types who attacked us on 9/11.

We need to get our priorities in order by re-committing to the real front line in the war on terror. Just last week NATO Secretary General Scheffer again called for more troops for Afghanistan, saying “more can be done and should be done.” Where allies have pledged troops and economic assistance to Afghanistan, they must follow through. But we must lead by example by sending more troops and more aid to help combat the opium trade, which funds the Taliban and threatens to turn Afghanistan into a narco-state, and ensure that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the United States and our allies, not the Taliban, helped by al Qaeda, rebuilds the new Afghanistan.”


Nothing really matters, Pt 5

Friday, September 22, 2006

John McCain: I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise

Rick Moran at the still unironically named RightWingNutHouse states the case about those "Rebel" Republicans clearly:
The re-interpreting of Geneva Convention protocols against torture has drawn the most fire from McCain and his supporters. What the White House calls a “redefinition” many experts on international law say is an attempt to circumvent the Geneva articles while immunizing American personnel (especially the CIA) from any charges of war crimes. This is extremely shaky legal ground for the Administration and it has apparently not sat well with lawyers at the Pentagon:

. . . The Republicans certainly had ulterior political motives in bringing this legislation to the fore 6 weeks before a mid term election in order to highlight the Democratic party’s unfitness and irresponsibility on national security issues. But the fact remains that the heartfelt opposition to the President’s proposals by conservatives carries far more weight in this debate than anything the politically motivated Democrats could muster. McCain, Powell, and the rest have proven that they are not only good Americans. They have also proven that they are good Republicans as well. This despite the probability that their opposition to the President will not win Republicans any votes in November nor advance their personal ambitions with core Republican supporters.

And of course, being good Republicans is more important than being good Americans. And, as we have seen, it was truly all for show. Kevin Drum offers evidence:

TORTURE ROUNDUP....Some good points from around the blogosphere about the torture "compromise" spearheaded by John McCain:

  • TPM reader JO: True, torture has always gone on "in the shadows"....[but] when the bill becomes law, it will be America's official policy for professional CIA interrogators to use torture. And it will be perfectly legal. Period. We are not even remotely returning to the status quo.

  • TPM reader JC: Right now, CIA are the bad guys. As far as I know, military interrogators were not using "coercive techniques." However, if this bill passes, military interrogators will not only be ALLOWED to use them, they will be EXPECTED to use them. Which is one reason so many military people have come out against it.

  • Charles Pierce: The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea. For an entire week, it allowed a debate on changing the soul of the country to be conducted intramurally between the Torture Porn and Useful Idiot wings of the Republican Party....It contributed nothing. On the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution through adjectives — "Aggressive interrogation techniques" — the Democratic Party opinion.

  • Juliette Kayyem: Marty [Lederman] and others are commenting on the wiggle room left to the President in determining what methods would be prohibited but may not constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions....It is this concession to the President that is mindboggling in almost all respects because the hold-outs could have given the President the less than grave tactics without giving him the sole authority to determine what they were. I'm eating my words; Marty is right — McCain is a tragic figure now.

Meanwhile, Tom Malinowski from Human Rights Watch schools us on where we learned some of these harmless interrogation techniques at WaPo:
President Bush is urging Congress to let the CIA keep using "alternative" interrogation procedures -- which include, according to published accounts, forcing prisoners to stand for 40 hours, depriving them of sleep and use of the "cold cell," in which the prisoner is left naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees and doused with cold water.

. . . He might begin with Robert Conquest's classic work on Stalin, "The Great Terror." Conquest wrote: "When there was time, the basic [Soviet Secret police] method for obtaining confessions and breaking the accused man was the 'conveyor' -- continual interrogation by relays of police for hours and days on end. As with many phenomena of the Stalin period, it has the advantage that it could not easily be condemned by any simple principle. Clearly, it amounted to unfair pressure after a certain time and to actual physical torture later still, but when? . . . At any rate, after even twelve hours, it is extremely uncomfortable. After a day, it becomes very hard. And after two or three days, the victim is actually physically poisoned by fatigue. It was as painful as any torture."

Someone needs to read this on the Senate floor. Bastards.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sweet Jane, anyone who's ever had a dream

Our friend, and L.A. based blogger (on sabbatical right now) Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake fame, was on Keith Olbermann's Countdown tonight:

Jane and some other influential bloggers met with former Pres. Bill Clinton last week, and some pictures of that meeting caused some swooning in the winger blognutworld. See Feministing for further details.

Several of us L.A.-based bloggers have been courted by politicos like Wesley Clark, John Kerry, and Russ Feingold. So Jane's appearance, along with RJ Eskow's visit to Sean Hannity's radio show, and The Young Turks' addition to Air America Radio's talent lineup, emphasize that blogtopia (y!sctp) is becoming a collective major player in US politics.

Need further proof? Lieberman, party of 1....

For fun: here are the Velvet Underground doing Lou Reed's Sweet Jane:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Let us cling together

It's Sep. 19th again, my sister Kristin's Birthday:

When I'm gone no need to wonder
If I ever think of you
The same moon shines
The same wind blows for both of us
And time is but a paper moon
Be not gone

Though I'm gone it's as though
I hold the flower that touches you
A new life grows
The blossom knows there's no one else
Could warm my heart as much as you
Be not gone

Let us cling together as the years go by
Oh my love my love
In the quiet of the night
Let our candle always burn
Let us never lose the lessons we have learned

Kristin Carol Anderson: Sep 19, 1959 - Mar. 9, 2002

Yo ho, yo ho, the Pirates' life for me

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day:
Why do we need an International Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Make no mistake. We do. But it's a little hard to articulate why, especially when you've made the mistake of referring to your wife as a scurvy bilge rat and tried to order her back into the galley.

Talking like a pirate is fun. It's really that simple.

It gives your conversation a swagger, an elán, denied to landlocked lubbers. The best explanation came from a guy at a Cleveland radio station who interviewed us on the 2002 Talk Like a Pirate Day. He told us we were going to be buried by people asking for interviews because it was a "whimsical alternative" to all the serious things that were making the news so depressing.

In other words, silliness is the holiday's best selling point.

Go have fun, arrgghhhh, matey!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We are strong, no one can tell us we're wrong

From NYTimes:
Patricia Kennedy Lawford, who as a sister of President John F. Kennedy had a front row seat to history and forged new links between her brother’s administration and Hollywood through her marriage to the actor Peter Lawford, died yesterday at her home in Southampton, N.Y. She was 82 and also had a home in Manhattan.

From Associated Press, via CNN:
"My sister Pat is irreplaceable," Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Kennedy said in a statement. "Everyone who knew Pat adored her. She was admired for her great style, for her love and support of the arts, her wit and generosity -- and for the singular sense of wonder and joy she brought into our lives."

While always a tireless supporter of her brother's political campaigns, inspired by her father's career in the movie industry, she set her sights on Hollywood at a young age soon after her graduation from Rosemont College.

She began working as an assistant in NBC's New York production department and then moved to Los Angeles with the goal of becoming a producer and director. She worked as an assistant for Kate Smith's radio program, and for Father Peyton's Family Theater and Family Rosary Crusade, according to the Web site for the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

She met British actor Peter Lawford through her brother, the future president, in 1949. They were married in 1954 and had four children before divorcing in 1965.

Lawford traveled the country in support of her brother's presidential campaign in 1960 and was also involved in the political campaigns of Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy.

She moved to New York City in 1965 where she became a supporter of the city's arts scene. She founded the National Committee for the Literary Arts and also worked with the National Center on Addiction and with the Kennedy Library.

Sad. Too bad the right-wingers who have a congenital hatred for anything related to the Kennedys will start their smear campaign now.

Just whistle while you work

Washington Monthly has posted 7 interesting editorials, collectively titled:

Conservatives on why the GOP should lose in 2006.

Most make honest, thoughtful criticisms of the radical right administration and Congress currently running the country. Sadly, however, most also serve up the usual "Dems are & have nothing" crap, as if to say that while the Republicans have thoroughly screwed the pooch,
the Democrats would have too, probably worse.

Bruce Fein: Restrain This White House

With Democrats controlling Congress, we could expect command-and-control laws requiring windmills on every farm, photovoltaic cells in every home, and hydrogen fuel in every car.

In foreign affairs, Democrats are stalled in the horse latitudes. They have no philosophical starting point. They sport no strategy for confronting the nuclear ambitions of Iran or North Korea, the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the growing friction between Japan on the one hand and China and South Korea on the other. Beating swords into plowshares and making war no more is not a strategy but utopian faith.

So conservatives should weep if Democrats prevail in the House or Senate.

God, I hate this crap. I guess that more Fair And Balanced™. But wait, there's more. He does actually say:
Republicans in Congress have bowed to the president’s scorn for the rule of law and craving for secret government. They have voted against Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold’s resolution to rebuke Bush for violating federal statutes and crippling checks and balances.

So the criticism is strong, it just can't be made without slamming the opposition, the rhetorical dirty trick of a grade school debater.

Joe Scarborough: And we thought Clinton had no self-control

But compare Clinton’s 3.4 percent growth rate to the spending orgy that has dominated Washington since Bush moved into town. With Republicans in charge of both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, spending growth has averaged 10.4 percent per year. And the GOP’s reckless record goes well beyond runaway defense costs.
. . .This must all be shocking to my Republican friends who still believe our country would be a better place if our party controlled every branch of government as well as every news network, movie studio, and mid-American pulpit.

Seems pretty positive. Too bad it has to be tempered with this:
After six years of Republican recklessness at home and abroad, I seriously doubt Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or the aforementioned Bourbon Street hookers could spend this country any deeper into debt than my Republican Party. With any luck, Democrats will launch destructive investigations, a new era of bad feelings will break out, and George W. Bush will stop using his veto pen to fill in Rangers’ box scores and instead start using it like a conservative president should.

Sigh. Next we have:
Christopher Buckley: Let’s quit while we’re behind

Bob Woodward asked Bush 43 if he had consulted his father before invading Iraq. The son replied that he had consulted “a higher father.” That frisson you feel going up your spine is the realization that he meant it. And apparently the higher father said, “Go for it!” There are those of us who wish he had consulted his terrestrial one; or, if he couldn’t get him on the line, Brent Scowcroft. Or Jim Baker. Or Henry Kissinger. Or, for that matter, anyone who has read a book about the British experience in Iraq. (18,000 dead.)

Pretty strong crititique. As usual, mitigated by this:
Time to hand over this sorry enchilada to Hillary and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and Charlie Rangel and Harry Reid, who has the gift of being able to induce sleep in 30 seconds. Or, with any luck, to Mark Warner or, what the heck, Al Gore. I’m not much into polar bears, but this heat wave has me thinking the man might be on to something.

All are worth reading, but the scariest is by Richard Viguerie. Remember, Viguerie is perhaps single-handedly responsible for the Right seeming to dominate the political spectrum today, through his innovative (at the time) use of direct mail appeals for contributions. Additionally, he was instrumental in the founding of the Moral Majority. The MM has proven over time to be neither Moral, nor in the Majority (see Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, and others).
Richard Viguerie: The show must not go on

With their record over the past few years, the Big Government Republicans in Washington do not merit the support of conservatives. They have busted the federal budget for generations to come with the prescription-drug benefit and the creation and expansion of other programs. They have brought forth a limitless flow of pork for the sole, immoral purpose of holding onto office. They have expanded government regulation into every aspect of our lives and refused to deal seriously with mounting domestic problems such as illegal immigration.

Of course, that makes sense to any sane person. But remember, this is Viguerie. He continues:
Sometimes a loss for the Republican Party is a gain for conservatives. Often, a little taste of liberal Democrats in power is enough to remind the voters what they don’t like about liberal Democrats and to focus the minds of Republicans on the principles that really matter. That’s why the conservative movement has grown fastest during those periods when things seemed darkest, such as during the Carter administration and the first two years of the Clinton White House.

Read all the articles, Some, especially Scarbourough's are actually funny. But Viguerie, without humor, without snark, is the darkest. This is the ultimated Movement Conservative, who sees any win by the Left to be not a return to balance and bi-partisan power, but rather a push back to an off-track Right. He truly believes that the renewed Republican Party, as it returns to true conservative roots, should rule the U.S. And he has shown the money and organizational skills to make that happen.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bob Harris: I see the lights, I see the party lights

Bob Harris's new book is finally on the market! We went to a party tonight at the lovely and talented Bob's (and Jane's) place, got a signed copy of the book, and had a heck of a good time. And no, we didn't play the home version of Jeopardy, or Will It Float, or any other TV games, just visited with friends old and new, and had a great time.

Publisher's Weekly has a great review:
In this eccentric, energetic and engaging memoir of his long run on America's favorite television quiz show, Harris, a former standup comedian and current comedy writer, gives readers the lowdown on life as "one of the show's big winners-and big losers." He promises to tell all, and he does, from the show's beginning in 1963 to his own blow-by-blow experiences as a contestant. He discusses his growing obsession with winning, how it cost him a girlfriend and how he luckily found another. For those who would follow in his footsteps, he is generous with tips on strategy: buzzer skills, how to predict topics (keep holidays in mind), how to suss out a Daily Double, which clues to tackle first, how to one-up your competition (though one of the gems of this often charming book is the account of the quite sincere friendships that grew among the top competitors). Like many a standup routine, his narrative zigs and zags back and forth in time and topic, but like the best of routines, it is sharply timed, pulling out many swerves and surprises to keep the reader alert. And what is Alex Trebek really like- "I dunno," says Harris, but the Trebek we meet is highly professional and unfailingly courteous. "Just like on TV."

Wall Street Journal also has a great review, but they put it behind a subscription wall, the bastards.

For the record, in attendance as old friends tonight were Kevin & Marian Drum, skippy & mrs. skippy (pictured here), & Greg & Christine Saunders. A good time was had by all.

Thanks, Bob.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I heard there was a secret chord

In art, as in many aspects of life, there can be a confidence, a drive, that transcends mere ability. We hear it in the singer, for example, who rises above the bounds of his or her instrument and soars, creating undying grace and art.

Sometimes the instrument is flawed, the voice can crack, the pitch can be less than certain, yet the certainty of the presentation is all that matters.

The fingers may slip on the frets, yet the notes claim their place in space, with a power not forged by skill alone.

Thus is talent expressed, in a magical confluence of drive, desire, and execution. Mere mortals can hope to achieve this, great artists do it unflinchingly. It may even seem naive, expressed with a childlike clarity of purpose that those of us who pretend to talent yearn for: the ability to overcome ourselves, to say, sing, or be what we wish to express.

While many musicians I admire fit this description, Jeff Buckley stands apart. I won't tell his story here, go to the wikipedia link for that. But here are two performences of his version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".

The first is pretty straight:

The second, is a little looser, and takes a few more chances, and thus may be the more intimate. You decide:

The album version was used in a very poignant moment on the TV series West Wing, if anyone remembers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Grace finds goodness in everything

Nancy Grace is the cool, calm, even-tempered host of CNN's Nancy Grace show. She always brings a balanced viewpoint to discussions of comtemporary legal...AHHHHHH!

Sorry, I couldn't go on with that line of crap. Nancy Grace is a psycho attention whore who thinks everyone is guilty until presumed innocent. Don't believe me? Just look:
On an April 14 show, Grace moderated a short panel discussion about the prospects of the death penalty for a Florida man connected to a missing girl, even though authorities at that time declined to even name him as a suspect in the case.

It's only a matter of time before her decision to choose heroes and villains before the story has unfolded ends badly, the way it did for journalists who piled on exonerated Olympic bombing suspect Richard Jewell. Grace cast the missing Jennifer Wilbanks as a sympathetic figure, and look how that blew up in her face.

"Well, look, I don't have a degree in being a police chief. But I can tell you this much: This is not cold feet, all right?" Grace said on April 28, less than 24 hours before the bride-to-be proved her wrong. "This is not cold feet. I know that much."

There's more, so, so much more. But yesterday, even Nancy outdid herself:
Two weeks after telling police that her son had been snatched from his crib, Melinda Duckett found herself reeling in an interview with CNN’s famously prosecutorial Nancy Grace. Before it was over, Grace was pounding her desk and loudly demanding to know: “Where were you? Why aren’t you telling us where you were that day?”

And this:

On Sept. 7, Melinda Duckett gave a telephone interview to CNN Headline News' Grace, a former prosecutor known for practically cross-examining her guests. Duckett stumbled over such questions as whether she had taken a polygraph — she said she refused on the advice of her divorce lawyer — and where, exactly, she was shopping with the boy before his disappearance.

Hours before the interview aired, Duckett shot herself Friday with her grandfather's gun at her grandparents' house, up the road from where she was living.

Of course, even in the face of such tragedy, Nancy somehow finds the courage to go on:

“Nancy Grace and the others, they just bashed her to the end,” Duckett’s grandfather Bill Eubank said Tuesday. “She wasn’t one anyone ever would have thought of to do something like this. She and that baby just loved each other, couldn’t get away from each other. She wouldn’t hurt a bug.”

Janine Iamunno, a spokeswoman for Grace, said in an e-mail that Duckett’s death was “an extremely sad development” but that the program would continue covering the case.

God, what a horrible person! As the first link above continues:

If one looks at every page of every transcript since "Nancy Grace" debuted three months ago, the program more closely resembles a torch-bearing mob than the "legal issues" show that CNN promised. Grace has created her own parallel universe in which guests are berated for advocating due process, panelists are invited back frequently if they make ad hominem attacks and suspects are seemingly guilty until proven innocent.

Even Dan Riehl, at the rightwinger Riehl World View finds Nancy objectionable:

Nancy Grace Show Kills

Unfortunately, I don't mean in the ratings area. For all anyone knows, the Mother may have been guilty of something, but we may never know, now. And television isn't the forum to play this madness out.

But some of his commentors set the record straight, as true compassionate conservatives:

  • we were just glad that she did Floridians a favor and killed herself. She saved us the cost of a lengthy trial. God don't have mercy on her soul!
  • Odds are this woman killed her own child and when she didn't get the sympathy she hoped for and basically got exposed as a liar by a TV host she decided to save herself the humiliation of being accused and convicted of baby killing so she did the world a favor and killed herself, the only sad part is she apparently didn't tell anyone where she threw out her two year old child.
  • NG did the right thing in confronting her. She was totally boy crazy and was only interested in what was between her legs. She did us a favor in offing herself. Too bad she thought she had to off her child, too.
This, folks, is the far right. This is GWBush's base. And I have a suggestion: Rather than trying to convince them, or even pander to them, let's just totally ignore them.

Or maybe internment camps...yeah, that's the ticket!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Officially, now there's only one reason to watch or read anything on MSNBC: Olbermann. Why, you ask? I'll tell you.

Eric Alterman has been fired:
First, the bad news: I’m fired. has decided to end its support of “Altercation,” and indeed, all of its association with yours truly as of this Friday.

Ok, now, the good news: My friends at Media Matters for America have decided that the cause of continuing “Altercation” in its current, politically independent form to be worthy of their support. So we’re not dying, just moving. Our new URL will be and I will also become a MM Senior Fellow.

Eric is one of the sharpest knives in the drawer, smart, witty, and lovably sarcastic. And he has been kind enough to post some of my writings. In fact, the very first time I saw my name on a major internet location was when he posted a piece I sent him about the beginnings of the Country Rock scene here in L.A. in the mid-to-late '60s. My take was that it didn't start with the Flying Burrito Bros., but rather with Buffalo Springfield. But that's not important now.

Eric has a truly unique voice, which he now shares at Huffington Post (where, for reasons not entirely clear, I also am allowed to contribute), and his Media Matters gig promises to be really great, since there will be absolutely no constraints on what he may say.

And he always took the time to respond to emails I sent him, graciously, and has kept on posting stuff I send (not always, but still...) and giving me links. I guess I have to say that his influence and kindness, along with that of Tom tbogg, convinced me to start blogging myself. For that, Eric, my undying gratitude.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Headed for eternity and destined for nothing

That's it, I give up. Mr. President, you want to own 9/11? Well, you can have it.

Here's your prize:
Surely that's enough of a gift, Mr. President.

You now own 9/11. It's all yours. Every stinking part of it. Every death from lies, from idiotic attacks on Iraq. Every human tragedy. Every mention in history books will forever carry your name:
"Bush, who was President when 9/11 occured, failed to bring the perpetrators to justice, and instead invaded Iraq, igniting greater terrorist and insurgent activities in the already volatile Middle East. For this reason, and others, he has come to be known as an extremely unpopular President whose two terms are considered by historians to be a low point in American politics."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Let me tell you that it hurts so good

GWBushCo loves him some torture. Acccording to ABC News, though, the military is now prohibited from:
--Interrogators may not force a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner.

--They cannot use hoods or place sacks over a detainee's head or use duct tape over his eyes.

--They cannot beat or electrically shock or burn him or inflict other forms of physical pain, any form of physical pain.

--They may not use hypothermia or treatment which will lead to heat injury.

--They may not perform mock executions.

--They may not deprive detainees of the necessary food, water and medical care.

--They may not use dogs in any aspect of interrogations.

Cute. The military is only NOW being told not to do these things? The Supreme Court (liberal bunch they are) issued a ruling in June about this. From CNN:
The High Court also ruled that al Qaeda operatives were protected by the Geneva Conventions, which ban "humiliating and degrading treatment." Bush called that mandate "vague."

Vague. As in, the Republican owned Supreme Court interpreting the Geneva Conventions is "vague." (Note to wingers, arm-chair fighters, and WATBs: The "wearing a uniform" deal was covered in Protocol I. Have any of these wankers actually read any of the Geneva Conventions? I doubt it.)

And note that the CIA still is not constrained from doing these things. From the ABC piece:
The officers told ABC News there was a list of six progressively harsher techniques that were authorized, with the prisoner always handcuffed.

The first -- the attention grab, involving the rough shaking of a prisoner.

Second -- the attention slap, an open-handed slap to the face.

Third -- belly slap, meant to cause temporary pain, but no internal injuries.

Fourth -- long-term standing and sleep deprivation, 40 hours at least, described as the most effective technique.

Fifth -- the cold room. Prisoners left naked in cells kept in the 50s and frequently doused with cold water.

The CIA sources say the sixth, and harshest, technique was called "water boarding," in which a prisoner's face was covered with cellophane, and water is poured over it (pictured above) -- meant to trigger an unbearable gag reflex.

Look, if the Supreme Courts says don't torture, then I think the CIA probably has a legal obligation to, you know, don't torture. If the CIA was on clear legal footing, why were they using the once-denied, now-admitted "black prisons": (CNN again)

The Washington Post first reported in November that the CIA was holding terror suspects in secret prisons overseas, including in former Soviet satellites in eastern Europe.

The White House would not confirm the report, but an investigation by the Council of Europe found evidence of a "global system of secret detentions and unlawful transfers."

The wingers, arm-chair fighters, and WATBs always bring up the Ticking Time Bomb scenario. To me, it's a combination of fear allowing an underlying layer of innate cruelty to appear, and wanting to be "macho", tough.

My friend Kevin Drum has what I feel is the Gold Standard question on this issue. Never mind the what-ifs, the ticking time bombs, the gung ho kick ass mentality of so many, especially on the right. The question is:
Is this torture? There's an easy question that provides some moral clarity here: If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture? If you would, then it's torture when we do it too.

Word. (As the kids say)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Help me I think I'm falling

With 9/11 two days away, and mid-term elections in a few weeks, GWBushCo is in All Terror-All The Time-mode. And the most terrorized are the right wing bloggers and pundits, the "101st Fighting Keyboarders". Most of them previously were anti-big government conservatarians. But now, sadly, they have become what Duncan "Atrios" Black calls WATB. Here are just 2 examples:
RightWingNuthouse: But in the face of this kind of evil, this monstrous darkness that is descending over the west largely as a result of our own stupidity and reckless disregard for our own safety, I’m tempted to gather all the Juan Coles, the Billmons, the Kossacks, and the whole lot of morally timid, incredibly myopic liberals who cannot see the horrific danger we are in from the scourge if Islamic fundamentalism and send them packing to Iran so that they can glimpse our future.

RiehlWorldView: One need only watch the video to see the real goal of our Islamo-fascist enemies and understand that, in this case, kidnapping was simply another means to an end - an end every move Islamo-fascists make is designed to achieve. If Americans don't come to understand that, they had better get ready to start removing their shoes five times a day before they bow down in prayer while facing the Qibla.

You know the drill, stand up for America while sitting down, typing furiously on a Cheeto-stained keyboard, fearful that if we don't kill the Islam-o-fascists over there, they'll kill us over here.

This type of authoritarian idolatry coupled with extreme fear of "The Enemy" is exactly what GWBushCo is trying to foster. As a form of rebuttal, I posted recently about the BBC-produced 3 part video series from 2004: The Power Of Nightmares.

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares.

The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares.

In a new series, the Power of Nightmares explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion.

My friend Swim at Deep Confusion reminded me of this series, and her comments are better than anything I could come up with, so here is the link to her post:

It's not my fault, It was the voices in my head

Some of the guys at the Backroom email list I receive still bristle at any criticism of GWBush, even though they pay lip service to thinking he's a bad President. Here's one response to a critique of "Path To 9/11":
The bottom line is, like the boy who persistently cried WOLF, when you have proven yourself to have been a pathological liar, you then become the easy target to blame even on the off chance you had nothing to do with it.

It's entirely possible had Clinton been a responsible, respectable leader, 9/11 would have happened anyway. But he wasn't, and so, because the possibility exists we failed to discover the problem when the entire country was distracted with his other nonsense, he gets blamed just as a drunk driver who wrecks is presumed guilty of negligence even if a perfectly sober driver might have wrecked in those conditions as well.

Bill Clinton WAS responsible for the massive debacle his pathology engineered, even though sane people agree whether or not he was getting blown by a fat intern was no one's business. Had he behaved responsibly in Arkansas, the Paula Jones affair would never have gone anywhere, and by not dealing with it the Lewinsky affair became fair game.

Unhinged? I think so. I call this the Blame Clinton First response.

So in comparison, how is GWBush working out as a leader?

From Kos:

Link--Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq ...In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.

Link--There was no evidence of a link between former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Senate.

Link--US president Bush on Thursday cautiously endorsed a truce between Gen Musharraf and pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan even as terrorist violence soared in Afghanistan and Al Qaida sent a sharp reminder of 9/11 with a video message ahead of the anniversary.

Link--A NATO military chief asked yesterday for another 2,500 troops to be sent to southern Afghanistan to reinforce the Canadian and British battlegroups that have been under fierce attack by the Taleban for the past two months.
Still, somewhere, somehow, it's always Clinton's fault.


Friday, September 08, 2006

We got to move into the future maybe, And think about a new tomorrow

I'm 57 tears old, have been a political junky since watching the '56 Election coverage, considered supporting AuH20 briefly, but became a Kennedy Dem. I was a peace protester all during Viet Nam, marched with black friends here in SoCal in '66 against racist rental practices, and believed in Gene McCarthy, who was the most conservative of all the candidates in '72, because he was against the war.

I've been aware, at all time, of sleazy backroom deals by both major parties, as well as similar misdeeds and idiocies by minor parties as well, so I'm no niaf lost in the wilderness.

I'm aware of some of the bad sides of "The New Deal", as well as its good sides. So I feel that while coming from a definitely leftist opinion, I have a pretty clear understanding of all political views, the true conservative, the Randian libertarian, and the extremists on all sides.

With that as a background, I'm scared shitless by the far right in this country, more so than at any time in my life, including when my lottery number (I was in the very first one) came back as 13. If Cheney, Abu Gonzales, Alito, et al have their way, we will end up a 3rd world land mass, with a plutocratic theocracy running all aspects of government, no middle class, and most of us working service jobs for below poverty wages. The "investor class" will do well, while those of us who actually do work, like me in the music industry, will be out on the streets.

And if China & Japan call in their markers, even the investor class will be on the streets. Only the oil families will be left, living on St. Barts, with Swiss bank accounts. Abortion will be illegal in all circumstances, and so will be all forms of contraception. A constitutional amendment mandating prayer in schools, fundamentalist protestant Christian prayer, that is, will have passed. Federal minimum wage & overtime laws will be struck down. OSHA, & EPA will be dissolved. Fair Housing laws will be overturned. All limits on media ownership will be struck down. Current limits on church political activities will be struck down.

The IRS has already, in case some of you don't know, disbanded the section which audits and chases down fraud by high income earners, and is gearing up to go after those alleged cheats whose incomes are middle class and on down, and is outsourcing collection tasks at very high cost. US adherence to the Geneva Conventions will be rescinded.

Corporations will be given even greater "personhood" protection, and will be protected from most lawsuits and litigation. More and more government functions will be outsourced, at considerably greater expense. Blackwater and other security firms will be given greater power to act as police and military, including here on US soil. More prisons will be built to house the poor and debtors since the Bankruptcy reform law passed last year, and as the usurious ARMs begin to fail and foreclose, and as more people who had pensions wiped away begin to retire, often forced to by health conditions (see: Delta Pilots.)

2nd & 3rd strike offenders will be given the "option" of joining the military, for extended tours of duty to fight in Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. Stop-Loss practices will be codified, allowing the military to keep enlistees for as long as they see fit. Pre-crime laws will be passed (see: Philip K. Dick) and political dissent will be forbidden. Gerrymandering will be more frequent, and overtly biased and often racist. Racial profiling will be written into Federal law regarding public transportation and jobs. States will soon follow. Election laws will disappear, and poll taxes, Picture IDs, and maybe even property ownership will be required to vote. Indentured servitude for debt payback will again become commonplace.

Education will shift to vocational training, starting with middle school. No liberal arts classes at these schools, just basics: Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, along with job skills such as manual labor training. Advanced students will be given training such as retail clerk and food service. State and Federal funding for all levels of schools will drop. More private middle and high schools will appear, with costs such that only the investor classes can afford them. More and more help desk, clerical, and data processing will be outsourced, to India, and increasingly to China. The only remaining middle class jobs in the US will be IT related, along with other skilled service jobs like auto repair, electrical, AC, and building contractors. And most of that work will be given to "visiting workers" who live in projects built to house them. And more and more teaching will be done in computer labs, just like language labs except that all classes will be taught this way, drastically reducing the need for skilled teachers.

A constitutional amendment allowing unlimited Presidential terms will be passed, as will amendments dissolving Congress's "advise and consent" duties, allowing unchallenged Presidential appointments. Congressional rights and duties will be amended even further, making both bodies largely ceremonial, and lobbyists will be allowed to hold office.

Or we can fight. How about it? They haven't won yet.

Update: Links added, more to come.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

But baby, it's cold outside: Terror terror everywhere

From the BBC: The Power of Nightmares: Baby It's Cold Outside:
Should we be worried about the threat from organised terrorism or is it simply a phantom menace being used to stop society from falling apart?

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares.

The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares.

In a new series, the Power of Nightmares explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion.

It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media.

This came to my attention from my friend Swim, at Deep Confusion. I can't improve on her thoughts, so go read them, and follow the link to the BBC documentary there. Baby It's Cold Outside is Part 1.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Away above the chimney tops, That's where you'll find me

In re: my previous post about songs not needing to be recorded again, Somewhere, Over The Rainbow, commentor Old Dave left this:
IZ Kamakawiwo`ole video, including live performances and (sadly) his funeral. v=5neuWiAlpm4

Here is his link, please go watch it, the video makes it so much more clear what a treasure this man was:

Thanks, Old Dave.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Like a rubber ball I come bouncing back to you

I've mentioned before that I participate in an email list that, while starting from an affinity for older Ampex recording equipment, has morphed into an 'anything goes' place, where some pretty tough political disagreements take place.

From one member the other day:
You Might Be a Democrat If...

* You own something that says, "Dukakis for President, " and still display it.

* You've tried to argue in favor of anything based on, "Well, they're gonna do it anyway so..."

* You've ever said, "We really should call the ACLU about this."

* You believe that a few hundred loggers can find another career, but the defenseless spotted owl must live in its preferred tree.

* You ever based an argument on the phrase, "But they can afford a tax hike because..."

* You've ever argued that with just one more year of welfare people might turn it around and get off drugs and get a job.

* You think Lennon was a brilliant social commentator.

* You keep count of how many people you know in each racial or ethnic category.

* You believe our government must do it because every country in Europe does.

* After looking at your pay stub you can still say, "America is undertaxed."

* Electric cars are the answer to our dependence on oil.

* Just because Mars and Neptune are warming too does not mean humans are NOT causing global warming.

* We just need to talk with Iran/North Korea/__________ and understand what they really want.

In other words, the usual crap.

The site owner responded this way:
I suspect that it's some stupid fear mongering propaganda put out by Karl Rove and is wacko neo-con swift-boat idiot stooges to try to goad unthinking voters into voting for the Republican Police State "fascista" again to keep it going for yet another six years. Shrub should be proud.

As P.T. Barnum said, there's one born every minute. And the Republican are making good use of every one they can round up.

I responded to him thusly:
Oh ****, haven't you learned by now?

1. It's Clinton's fault.
2. The Dems, if they were in power, would have done worse.
3. Look over there, shiny objects!
4. It's the Mexicans' fault.
5. Liberalism is anti-American and morally bankrupt.
6. The Free Market will take care of itself.
7. If you don't support the war, you don't support the troops.
8. Only Repubs can protect us from terrorists.
8a. The Nanny State federal government is bad.
9. It's the Islamofascists' fault.
10. Unions are taking America down.

Get with the program, dude. Sheesh!

And one of the more vocal members of the community came back with this:

1. It's Clinton's fault.
It's not, but he's a turd anyway.

2. The Dems, if they were in power, would have done worse.
It's worse than that. They would have done about the same.

3. Look over there, shiny objects!

4. It's the Mexicans' fault.
I don't blame the Mexicans. I blame the people who won't enforce the law.

5. Liberalism is anti-American and morally bankrupt.
This much, is true. However, the modern version of consservatism is worse.

6. The Free Market will take care of itself.
Only for those who actually control it.

7. If you don't support the war, you don't support the troops.

8. Only Repubs can protect us from terrorists.

8a. The Nanny State federal government is bad.
Yes, it is.
9. It's the Islamofascists' fault.
See #4.

10. Unions are taking America down.

That was years ago. They took themselves down with it.

Sadly lacking in irony, and missing several of my points. Like the Nanny State being exactly what the wingers want these days:

FISA is too restrictive:
  • Unlimited ability to tap phones and monitor emails.
  • No-knock warrants at any time
Civil liberties doesn't matter if you're dead

Freedom of the press is bad

The thing is, it's clear that some conservatarians really want Big Brother Bush to take manly charge of everything, just so they can keep wetting the bed.

And clearly I didn't respond to other things my colleague took issue with. I don't have the energy to debate a bouncing rubber ball.

Johnny show me that you care, really care for me.

From the department of It Had To Happen:

Sign the online petition here.

I have no idea who the site owner is. But let's face it, there's no way Stewart could be worse than GWBush, and literally thousands of ways he would be better.

Update: I also found this on the web:

(Cross-posted at HuffPo).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes

Warhawks everywhere! Israel screwed up the war on Hezbollah, and in light of that, they now are seriously considering aggression against Syria and/or Iran. From the UK TimesOnLine:
THREATENED by a potentially nuclear-armed Tehran, Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.

The conflict with Hezbollah has led to a strategic rethink in Israel. A key conclusion is that too much attention has been paid to Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank instead of the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the region, who pose a far greater danger to Israel’s existence, defence insiders say.

“The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defence agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,” said an Israeli defence source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the “Iranian front”, a new position in the Israeli Defence Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.

Go read, it's pretty sad. But what's even more craptacular is who is cheering on from the U.S.:

In Washington, the military hawks believe that an airstrike against Iranian nuclear bunkers remains a more straightforward, if risky, operation than chasing Hezbollah fighters and their mobile rocket launchers in Lebanon.

“Fixed targets are hopelessly vulnerable to precision bombing, and with stealth bombers even a robust air defence system doesn’t make much difference,” said Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative.