Saturday, March 31, 2007

I ran all night and day

Nowhere on the TeeVee news have I heard that the British hostages taken by Iran were taken not by the Iranian Navy, but by the Revolutionary Guard. From David Ignatius at WaPo, via Kevin Drum:
We are in a season of skulduggery in the Middle East, with a strange series of events that all involve the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The murky saga is a reminder that the real power in Iran may lie with this secretive organization, which spawned Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Revolutionary Guard orchestrated the seizure of 15 British sailors and marines last week near the mouth of the Shatt al Arab waterway between Iraq and Iran. The British say they have technical data to prove that their people were outside Iran's territorial waters when they were captured, and they have protested vigorously to Iranian diplomats. But the Iranian Foreign Ministry doesn't seem to know anything about the case. Indeed, it may have been one of the indirect targets.

The Revolutionary Guard seized the hostages, if that's the right word, at a time when it is under intense and growing pressure. U.S. troops captured five of its intelligence operatives in January in the Iraqi city of Irbil. Perhaps the Guard's commanders wanted some bargaining chips to get their people back.

This is fascinating stuff. From wikipedia:

Army of the Guardians of Islamic Revolution (Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی - Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Islami), also known as Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Revolutionary Guards, Sepah (army), or Pasdaran (guardians), is the largest military army of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The IRGC is separate from, and parallel to, the Islamic Republic of Iran Army. They are equipped with their own navy, air force, intelligence, ground troops and special forces.

The force's main role is in national security, responsible for internal and border security, as well as law enforcement. It is also responsible for Iran's missile forces. The operations of the Sepah-e Pasdaran are geared towards asymmetric warfare and less traditional duties. These include the control of smuggling, control of the Strait of Hormoz, and resistance operations.

"Separate from, and parallel to...". What does this mean? To continue:

The IRGC was formed in May, 1979, as a force loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but later became a full military force alongside the army in the Iran-Iraq War. It was infamous for its human wave attacks such as during Operation Ramadan, an assault on the city of Basra.

The present Chief Commander of the IRGC is Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi who was preceded by Mohsen Rezaee. Iran's current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a member of the IRGC during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

So does this mean that Ahmadinejad has a private army? Clearly there are factions and sides working at cross-purposes in Iran.

Ignatius continues:

The Revolutionary Guard may also have hoped to sabotage diplomatic negotiations over the nuclear issue. U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said several weeks ago that the United States was getting "pinged all over the world" by Iranian intermediaries who wanted a resumption of talks. Iran's chief negotiator, Ali Larijani, hinted at such a message in his recent contacts with the European Union's top diplomat, Javier Solana. But the prospect of nuclear talks may have been blown out of the water, as it were, until the British issue is resolved.

Maybe that was the goal of seizing the sailors and marines. The Revolutionary Guard, after all, can't be happy about curbing the nuclear program that would allow it to project power even more aggressively.

Or does the Revolutionary Guard give Ahmadinejad leverage against the real Iranian Army, controlled by the Ayatollahs? Why else a parallel military? From The National Review (yeah, I know):

Ahmadinejad revels in his alliance with the Basiji. He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises "Basij culture" and "Basij power," with which he says "Iran today makes its presence felt on the international and diplomatic stage." Ahmadinejad's ascendance on the shoulders of the Basiji means that the Iranian Revolution, launched almost three decades ago, has entered a new and disturbing phase. A younger generation of Iranians, whose worldviews were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors. The children of the Revolution are now its leaders.

Read the rest of Ignatius' piece. It rivals John LeCarre's best writing in suspense and intrigue.

Friday, March 30, 2007

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 6

California country music was a distinct breed by the late '50 and early '60s. We had southern hillbillies like Merle Travis and Joe Maphis who migrated to California, embraced the electric guitars that were becoming common, and developed virtuoso playing styles, all while having loads of fun.

Meanwhile, a little north of Los Angeles in Bakersfield, CA, Buck Owens was developing a style of music combining hillbilly traditional country and blugrass vocals and song structure with twangy electric guitars, solid drums, and great pop hooks.

Many feel that Buck's best asset was his guitarist, fiddle player, and harmony partner Don Rich. From wikipedia:

He was born Donald Eugene Ulrich and playing violin at the age of three. As a teenager growing up in Tumwater, Washington, he picked up the guitar as well. During those years he caught the ear of Buck Owens, then a DJ and musician in Tacoma. After Don graduated from high school, he planned to become a music teacher. He quit college after a year or so to join Buck's band, named the Buckaroos by Merle Haggard.

Most people won't remember his name alone. If you tell them he was Buck Owens' guitarist, the leader of the Buckaroos, some people might recall the handsome, talented guy who died too soon. But mention this name to a guitar player who's been around awhile, and you'll see a look of utter amazement. They'll remember the fast fingers and chicken pickin' that made the Buckaroos so famous.

From the 1950s through today, many Buckaroos came and went, but Buck only had ONE "right arm" and that was Don Rich. Together they went from playing one night stands to the top of the charts. In the late 1960s, the Buckaroos won "Band of the Year" awards several times. Through TV shows like "The Buck Owens Ranch" and "Hee Haw," the Buckaroos' audience grew. There were several Buckaroos albums recorded without Buck.

Don's talent was not limited to the guitar and his singing voice. He was an excellent fiddle player as well. He cut an album in 1972 called "That Fiddlin' Man."

Rich started out playing fiddle with Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, before switching to guitar in 1962. Rich, like Owens, played a custom sparkle-finish Fender Telecaster electric guitar, and took advantage of this guitar's unique tones to create the bassy rhythms and twangy "chicken pickin'" that became a characteristic of the genre. His playing style can be heard in the 1963 Buck Owens hit "Act Naturally," a song which was later covered by The Beatles. With The Buckaroos, Rich helped create 19 number 1 country hits in the 1960s.

Rich died on July 17, 1974, at the age of 32 after a motorcycle accident along Highway 99 north of Bakersfield after a recording session at the Buck Owens Studios then located in Oildale. He was on his way to Morro Bay, California, to join his wife and family for a summer vacation when he lost control of his motorcycle and struck a guardrail resulting in his tragic and untimely death. His simple grave is located at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery on Kern Canyon Road (Highway 184) in the foothills of northeast Bakersfield.

Here's a great example of Don's playing in the solo of this song:

Here's another great solo. Note 2 guys singing into the same mic, the rock elements in the solo, kinda reminds me of some English group:

Wait, didn't that English group cover this song?

Oh yeah, listen to Don's playing all through the song. Badass.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Right here, right now

In a new series of posts, we'll take few minutes every few days and look at the values and issues of the Right, and how they are implemented by the current crop of Republican Presidential hopefuls.

Today: Family Values (all data from wikipedia)

Newt Gingrich:
In 1962, Gingrich married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old; she was seven years his senior at 26 years old. Jackie raised their two daughters, worked to put Newt through graduate school and was a loyal political wife. Gingrich and Battley divorced in 1980. Battley has charged that Gingrich discussed the terms of their divorce settlement while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery.

Marianne Ginther in late 1981. Marianne was quoted in a 1995 article in Vanity Fair as saying: "I don't want him to be president and I don't think he should be." Marianne added, "Right now, the presidency is not a single person. It's not so much what he'd be doing. It's what I'd be doing." by which she meant not that Newt would not be a good President but that she did not particularly look forward to being first lady. They divorced in 1999, the same year Gingrich had an affair with a then 33-year old member Congressional staffer, Callista Bisek, whom he married the next year.

Rudy Giuliani:
Giuliani has been married three times. His first marriage was to educator Regina Peruggi, whom he had known since they were both children, on October 26, 1968, soon after he graduated law school. In 1976, the couple decided on a trial separation; Giuliani later said the marriage suffered "through my overwork." The couple did not have any children.

Giuliani met local television personality Donna Hanover sometime in 1982, and they began dating when she was working in Miami. Giuliani filed for legal separation from Peruggi on August 12, 1982. Giuliani and Hanover started living together later that year in Washington, D.C.

A Roman Catholic Church annulment of the Giuliani-Peruggi marriage was granted at the end of 1983, according to Giuliani, because he discovered after fourteen years that he and his wife were second cousins and they did not have the Church dispensation thus needed.

Giuliani and Hanover then married in a Catholic ceremony at St. Monica's Church in New York on April 15, 1984. They had two children, son Andrew (born January 30, 1986) and daughter Caroline (born 1989). Andrew first became a familiar sight by misbehaving at Giuliani's first mayoral inaguration, then with his father at New York Yankees games, of whom Rudy Giuliani is an enthusiastic fan; Andrew also was an accomplished junior golfer.

Beginning in 1996, Giuliani and Hanover's public relationship became distant, with Hanover appearing at few public events. In 1997, a Vanity Fair article report that Giuliani had a romantic relationship with Cristyne Lategano, the mayor's communications director. The mayor and Lategano denied the allegations.

In May 2000, the New York Daily News broke news of Giuliani's extramarital relationship with Judith Nathan, a sales manager for a pharmaceutical company. Giuliani then called a press conference to announce that he intended to separate from Hanover. Hanover, however, had not been told about his plans before his press conference, an omission for which Giuliani was widely criticized. Previously, Giuliani had hinted at the relationship by referring to Nathan as his "very good friend." Giuliani now went on to praise Nathan as a "very, very fine woman", and said about his marriage with Hanover, that "over the course of some period of time in many ways, we've grown to live independent and separate lives." Hours later Hanover said, "I had hoped that we could keep this marriage together. For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member," a reference to Lategano.

Giuliani then moved out of Gracie Mansion and into an apartment where two gay friends of his lived. Giuliani filed for divorce against Hanover in October 2000, and an unpleasant public battle broke out between their representatives. In May 2001, in an effort to mitigate the bad publicity from the proceedings, Giuliani's attorney revealed (with the mayor's approval) that Giuliani was impotent due to his prostate cancer treatments and had not had sex with Nathan for the preceding year. "You don't get through treatment for cancer and radiation all by yourself," Giuliani said. "You need people to help you and care for you and support you. And I'm very fortunate I had a lot of people who did that, but nobody did more to help me than Judith Nathan." Giuliani and Hanover finally settled their acrimonious divorce case in July 2002, after his mayoralty had ended, with Giuliani paying Hanover a $6.8 million settlement and granting her custody of their children.

Giuliani subsequently married Judith Nathan on May 24, 2003, and thus gained a stepdaughter, Whitney.

By March 2007, The New York Times and the New York Daily News reported that Rudy Giuliani had become estranged from both his son Andrew (now a Duke Blue Devils golf team member at Duke University aspiring to a professional career, and who was quoted as saying "there's obviously a little problem" between him and Judith) and his daughter Caroline (now a high school senior, due to enter Harvard University in the fall), missing major events in their lives and sometimes going long stretches without talking to them, and that neither of them was taking part in his presidential campaign. The official Giuliani campaign website biography mentions Nathan but not his children or his former wives.

Fred Thompson:

On June 29, 2002, Thompson married Jeri Kehn, an attorney and a political media consultant at the Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, and McPherson law firm in Washington, D.C. She once worked for the Senate Republican Conference and the Republican National Committee. In October 2003, they had a daughter, Hayden Victoria Thompson, and another child during November 2006. He also has three grown children from a previous marriage, one of whom is deceased (Elizabeth "Betsy" Thompson Panici) , and five grandchildren.

Mitt Romney:

Romney married his high school sweetheart, Ann Davies in 1968. They have five sons (Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig) and ten grandchildren. Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.

Sam Brownback:

He is married to the former Mary Stauffer, whose family owned and sold a successful media company in 1995. They have five children including an adopted son and daughter.

Raised as a Methodist, Brownback later joined a nondenominational evangelical church, and in 2002 he became Catholic. He joined the Catholic Church through Opus Dei member Father C. John McCloskey in Washington DC. However, Brownback himself is not a member of the Opus Dei organization.

More next time.

Update on Thompson (via Atrios)
Fred Thompson is said to have hurt his vice-presidential chances when his name was linked romantically to that of Margaret Carlson. The Time columnist and "Capital Gang" regular is reportedly too liberal for George W. Bush. Thompson's standing was not enhanced when gossips said he was simultaneously involved with another woman.

Can you feel it coming in the air tonight

When I heard about Air America Radio starting up, I was thrilled.

After they started, when they announced a Los Angeles affiliate, I was thrilled.

When the L.A. station turned out to be some no-name low-wattage outfit whose signal didn't reach my home in the North San Fernando Valley, I was bummed.

When that station stopped broadcasting, I was bummed.

When they announced a new L.A. affiliate, KTLK, a Clear Channel station, I was thrilled,

When the new schedule was announced, with Randi Rhodes now live, I was thrilled.

When that included moving Ed Schultz (not an Air America program) to night time replay, I was bummed.

And when I saw they had put this guy in the afternoon drive spot, I was disturbed:
Marc Germain’s goal of world domination is not on schedule, proving he is a progressive. (If you want the trains to run on time, listen to Dick Cheney.) However, his plan to inform and entertain with his daily four hour afternoon-drive talk show is ahead of schedule. He wasn’t supposed to get this job for another three years. You may have known him as Mr. KFI or Mr. KABC where he created and hosted top rated shows. His honest, straight-forward manner has won him many fans as well as a series of stalkers resulting in both adulation and restraining orders.

A lover of all things technological, horological and just plain logical, he is the beloved southern California radio icon who is “better than most, not as good as some.”

This guy is a goof, a political lightweight, who does have some faithful listeners here in L.A., but still, I couldn't help wonder why I was listening to him in the afternoon drive time, a heavy ratings and advertisement slot.

But last night, coming home from the studio installation I've been working on, I may have heard the answer on the Ed Schultz show. A caller from L.A. complained that Ed was no longer live, but was on nighttime playback as I mentioned.

Ed responded that it was because he (Ed) wouldn't write a check to KTLK for the privilege of being on the air. Is this true? Has payola moved into talk radio? Pretty disgusting.

I'm going to write a letter to KTLK, and I encourage readers here in Southern California to do the same.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Well how could something so bad, darling, come from something that was so good

Many on the Right think Elizabeth Edwards' cancer should, through their wishful thinking, take her husband John out of the Presidential running. Here are some comments from FreeRepublic:
  • I'll pray for her, but this statement simply REEKS of martyrdom complex. Edwards is young and has a lot of time ahead of him to run for office (more's the pity). His wife does not have long, and he should be supporting her and their children, not whoring himself and her illness for votes.
  • I'm sorry but this all looked like a stunt to me. Why hold a news conference? Why not just take care of his wife without announcing it to the world.
  • Agreed. It's suspicious to me that her cancer flares up everytime Edwards needs some publicity.

    God Bless and Good Luck to Mrs. Edwards, but holding a news conference to announce personal struggles is merely begging for the sympathy vote.

    So, it's The Hildabeast, the Magic negro, or the bloodsucker with the sick wife. Way to go Dems, Way to go.
As Borat says, "Nice!"

For all those, and others who complan about Edwards no matter what path he and Elizabeth choose, I have 2 words: Betty Ford.
Weeks after Betty Ford became First Lady, she underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer on September 28, 1974. Her openness about her illness raised the visibility of a disease that Americans had previously been reluctant to talk about. "When other women have this same operation, it doesn't make any headlines," she told Time magazine. "But the fact that I was the wife of the President put it in headlines and brought before the public this particular experience I was going through. It made a lot of women realize that it could happen to them. I'm sure I've saved at least one person—maybe more." Further amplifying the public awareness of breast cancer were reports that several weeks after Betty Ford's cancer surgery, Happy Rockefeller, the wife of vice president Nelson Rockefeller, also underwent a mastectomy.[6]

In case you missed it above, 2 more words: Happy Rockefeller:

She is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a mastectomy in 1974, two weeks after Betty Ford underwent the same operation.[3]

So I guess if you're Republican, you can multitask. But if you're a Democrat, you need to spend more time with your family.


Monday, March 26, 2007

It's getting hotter in here . . .

Discussion and acceptance of Global Warming seems to generate heat in Right-winger's pants:
LAST YEAR, the National Journal asked a group of Republican senators and House members: "Do you think it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?" Of the respondents, 23% said yes, 77% said no. In the year since that poll, of course, global warming has seized a massive amount of public attention. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a study, with input from 2,000 scientists worldwide, finding that the certainty on man-made global warming had risen to 90%.

So, the magazine asked the question again last month. The results? Only 13% of Republicans agreed that global warming has been proved. As the evidence for global warming gets stronger, Republicans are actually getting more skeptical. Al Gore's recent congressional testimony on the subject, and the chilly reception he received from GOP members, suggest the discouraging conclusion that skepticism on global warming is hardening into party dogma. Like the notion that tax cuts are always good or that President Bush is a brave war leader, it's something you almost have to believe if you're an elected Republican.
Wow. Of course, the Union of Concerned Scientists, who are likely Communist sympathizers,
have this to say:

Scientists have concluded that human activities are contributing to global warming by adding large amounts of heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. Our fossil fuel use is the main source of these gases. Every time we drive a car, use electricity from coal-fired power plants, or heat our homes with oil or natural gas, we release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the air. The second most important source of greenhouse gases is deforestation, mainly in the tropics, and other land-use changes.

Since pre-industrial times, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by 31 percent. Over the same period, atmospheric methane has risen by 151 percent, mostly from agricultural activities like growing rice and raising cattle.

As the concentration of these gases grows, more heat is trapped by the atmosphere and less escapes back into space. This increase in trapped heat changes the climate, causing altered weather patterns that can bring unusually intense precipitation or dry spells and more severe storms.

So, I don't know. That all sounds pretty fishy to me. But regardless, it's an affront to true Right-wingers.

Get over it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It can happen to everyone eventually

(Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

In the aftermath of the Edwards' announcement that Elizabeth's cancer had returned, the reaction has been exactly as I anticipated. From the Left, naturally, sympathy and encouragement. From the Right, well, see my previous post.

But some have decided to dislike Edwards because he's an "ambulance chaser". Perhaps a justified antipathy to lawyers, perhaps based on some experience, I don't know.

It's been said that a liberal is a conservative who has undergone a tragedy. I prefer to believe that a conservative (today, anyway) is someone who has no sympathy or empathy for other humans. Imagine these stories were about your child, and try to remain a conservative:
  • 5-year-old girl was disemboweled, but survived, after being caught and suctioned by wading pool's defective drain. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, manufacturer continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings.
  • 850-lb. box delivered to attorney's home, fell on him breaking his back, causing paraplegia, and confinement to wheelchair.
  • Worker fractured both ankles, jaw, and skull after fall from 24-foot scaffold in defendant's plywood plant.
  • 14-year-old girl rendered quadriplegic from neck injury resulting from improperly supervised dive into shallow end of defendants' pool.
  • Application of abdominal pressure and delay in performing c-section caused brain damage to infant and resulted in child having cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia. Verdict set record for malpractice award.
  • Infant born with cerebral palsy after breech birth via vaginal delivery, rather than cesarean. Established North Carolina precedent of physician and hospital liability for failing to determine if patient understood risks of particular procedure.
  • Birth-related injuries including cerebral palsy and mental retardation allegedly caused by obstetrician's failure to diagnose fetal distress, including umbilical cord wrapped around baby's neck prior to delivery.
  • Doctor prescribed drug overdose of anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse, resulting in permanent brain and nerve damage.
For conservatives, the right to seek compensation for damages in civil court is not really important. Unless of course, the alleged damage has happened to you (See "sympathy and empathy" above). Thus, trial and medical malpractice attorneys are scum and should all be hanged.

But wait. Is Tort Reform really an issue?

Detractors seem to fault Edwards for two basic reasons. First, they fault him because he was a trial lawyer - and in particular, a medical malpractice plaintiffs' laywer - and is supported by trial lawyers. Second, they fault him because, as a lawyer in private practice, he brought medical malpractice cases - and some of them, they believe, were, in retrospect, meritless.

In the end, however, neither of these arguments is persuasive.

. . . Why are the premiums rising? The professionals cite large malpractice damages awards. But the correlation is complex. For example, medical malpractice awards rose in the early and mid-'90s, while medical malpractice premiums stayed flat -- and even fell.

Moreover, many factors -including, but not limited to, malpractice judgments - contribute to insurance pricing. We know this because there have been at least two previous cycles of steep increases in premiums in the recent past, once during the '70's and once during the '80's. The medical system survived these shocks. What we have learned in the aftermath of these crises is that the medical malpractice market is strongly affected by changes in the investment environment as well as errors in judgment about how to increase market share and the management of the reserves needed to pay out claims.

Bottom line is, knee-jerk attitudes toward lawyers are often pretty flawed. And trying to spin logic into supporting flawed theories is a fools game.

If something terrible, and avoidable, happens to your loved one, who do you want as an advocate: a free-trade capitalist politician, or an aggressive trial lawyer.

Pretty clear choice to me.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one

Sometimes, even in the deepest, stinkiest dungheap, you find a flower growing. From Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt's place:

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW BAD I FEEL FOR ELIZABETH AND JOHN EDWARDS. I’m familiar with the body-blow of a sudden diagnosis that turns your world upside down. It’s incredible – you walk into a doctor’s office and within a span of minutes you find out your life will never be the same. In the back of your mind you nourish the hopes of miracle cures or that you might be like that guy in Dubuque who got the same diagnosis but oddly enough lived forever, but the reality of the situation sits there in your mind. You can’t shake it – it just won’t leave.

But you try to carry on. I think I may know some of what the Edwards are feeling. They’ve been running for the White House for seven years now. And make no mistake – as Hugh points out in his book, running for president is a family affair. It’s more than a dream and an ambition for them. It’s a big part of what defines their lives.

So they walked out of that doctor’s office refusing to let her disease take their lives away. Some people are calling their decision courageous; others find it puzzling. Having been in a situation analogous to theirs, I think I have some understanding and I know I have some sympathy. They’re working through all of this. Their first instinct is not to surrender. That’s good, and it’s what you would have expected. People who seek the presidency aren’t the types who give up or even compromise easily.

. . .
But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end. The past several years for me have been a journey to what’s at the center of my life. One of the things I found there that I didn’t expect to was writing. (You lucky people.)

The Edwards have begun their own journey of that sort. Whether they still find presidential politics at the center of their lives a few months from now is an open question. Regardless, the journey is theirs, and one would have a heart of stone to wish them anything other than good luck and Godspeed.

Of course, Dean described his own journey info Cystic Fibrosis (serious stuff, we lost a friend in '93) thus:

Over time, as my condition worsened and got more serious, denial was no longer an option. Compromise became the order of the day. On the golf course, I used to carry my bag for 36 holes a day. First I began to take a caddy. Then a cart. Soon I was playing twice a week instead of twice a day.

Yep. There's some sacrifice. Golf. Don;t get me started.

Digging into Dean's comments, we see a few really nice ones:
* Well said. I wish her a speedy recovery. I know that this is a very serious diagnois. Perhaps it is bravado, but there is always hope.

* But life goes on. And yes you prioritize. My attitude about a lot of things has changed. I'm sure the same will happen to the Edwards'. Just not right away. My prayers are with them.

* The news about Elizabeth Edwards sounds grim, but we aren't privy to the exact extent of the cancer or the prognosis of her doctors. She and her husband may have some grounds for optimism, or at least hope. Only they, with that information, are able to weigh the alternatives and risks so as to determine whether it's worth continuing John's Presidential race.

* In the best of cases, if there was a good chance of successful treatment and recovery, I can easily understand their decision to go on with the campaign. It's equivalent to getting on with their lives, and not giving in to fear or despair. If they just quit, it's another victory for the cancer.

And then, as I predicted yesterday, we have these:
Russell writes: Thursday, March, 22, 2007 6:15 PM
It is amazing that Edwards would be willing to sacrifice the last years he may very well have with this wife to campaign for the Presidency.

How appalling it is to see a person want power that bad.

Its scarry that there are people out there who are that power-hungry.

God save us from them.

PokerGuy writes: Thursday, March, 22, 2007 6:57 PM
So, this required a full-blown press conference with cameras et al because...

It could not have been handled by a succinct statement focused on Edwards' wife, her cancer, her condition, all legitimate cause for sympathy, because...

There could not have been a follow-on conference, after say 24 hours, involving Edwards alone and addressing his continuing political ambitions because...

Does it need to be any more obvious? Cancer is a huge emotional hook that touches a large part of the population. The medical news worked as intended by being conjoined with the political statement, thus powerfully creating the new triumvirate - candidate Edwards/wife/cancer. It's a form of imprinting. Thinking off. Feelings on. Hook in. Continue. /end

Russell writes: Friday, March, 23, 2007 1:07 AM
Too Harsh?
Geez, I'm suprised that others don't feel the same way I do.

If my wife had malignant cancer the last thing I would think about is "How can I STILL run for President."

No my friends, this man has a taste of power and wants it more than life itself.

He, and people like him, are to be feared.

SJR writes: Friday, March, 23, 2007 2:54 PM
Edwards is a fraud
I hope his wife gets well. Those two statements can co-exist.

But here is the best, the denouement:

lilly writes: Friday, March, 23, 2007 8:57 AM
Can't Win
I am old enough to remember the last twelve presidents and I can't remember a nastier political climate than the one introduced by Karl Rove's masterful manipulation of divisiveness. A candidate of the opposite party is now viciously attacked for personal attributes rather than ideology, for to destroy him or her by smear and ridicule is to kill any chance of that ideology coming to the fore. A week ago all we heard about John Edwards was that he was a pretty boy who combed his hair too much. Now that his wife's cancer has recurred, we hear that he is heartless to stay in the campaign. But if he had announced yesterday that he was withdrawing, it would have taken about thirty seconds for the Ann Coulter-esque crowd to be saying, "Well, THAT was convenient timing---Edwards knew he couldn't win so he used this excuse to quit". Yesterday I even read a townhall post "I wouldn't put it past this slimy sleazebag to have made up the story about the cancer to get the women's vote". Meanwhile, of course, you folks are sure to remind us that you are all PRAYING for these people you have been doing all possible to destroy.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Everybody look what's going down

Here's a little slice of what 1967 looked and sounded like, at the Monterey Pop Festival. This is not a Hollywood movie, this is documentary footage of scenes at the festival, featuring a performance by the already splintered Buffalo Springfield doing For What It's Worth:

Note: This is one of many times that Neil Young didn't appear with the group that made him famous. His guitar and vocal parts are covered by David Crosby, at the time still with The Byrds.

My band at the time, called Shades Of Time, opened for the Buffalo Springfield at a club in Riverside, CA, called "The Purple Haze" (yeah, I know), on Jan. 12, 1968. This time, with Neil also not in attendance, they played as a four piece. I got to tune Richie Furay's black Gibson ES-335 12 string seen in this video.

That, and $.50, will buy today's copy of the LATimes. But that doesn't change that they were a really influential band at the time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Baby if you never got sick

Today from the AP:
John Edwards said Thursday his wife’s cancer has returned, but said he will continue his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly,” Edwards told reporters, his wife by his side.

Tomorrow, from Right-wing idiots:

  • Edwards lacks focus on campaign
  • Edwards more concerned with wife; less concerned about America
  • Presidential Marriage: Cause for Concern?
  • Would Hillary suspend campaign if Bill ill?
  • Cancer: Disease or campaign ploy?

I guarantee we'll hear these and more.

Update, from John Kerry's office:
“Teresa and I are saddened by the news of Elizabeth’s illness, but we know her strength and the support of their family will sustain her and John through this difficult period.

“Elizabeth has been through tough challenges before, and in sharing her story over the last year she inspired countless others to know they could do it too. Last fall I heard Elizabeth speak about her experience at Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Summit and I saw the hope and strength she helped inspire. She moved us all with her brave fight and courageous spirit. Elizabeth is an example to everyone coping with cancer.

“Teresa and I send the entire Edwards family our strongest hopes for her during this battle and we will keep her in our prayers.”


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Shariamour, lovely as a summer's day

The truth can sometimes be found in the most God-awful place. Here it is at LittleGreenSnotballs:
Iraq Steps Up Anti-Israel Boycotts

Why are Americans fighting and dying to support this disgusting behavior? Iraq steps up anti-Israel boycott. (Hat tip: Joel.)

The single biggest mistake the US made in Iraq was not imposing a government free of shari’a law, and free of this kind of sickening Arab antisemitism. If we had treated imperial Japan with the same lackadaisical, “assume the best” attitude after World War II, we’d still be enemies today.

Um, yeah. Imposing a government...interesting concept. I thought it was all about "Freedom is on the march".

And we have this from one of the commentors over there:


It's worse than just that- the US does far too much propping up of thug governments everywhere- and this is why they hate us. I have asked immigrants about this and they tell me this- "Your government supports men who keep my people down." I think it's wrong. America should stand behind Democracy for everyone, because if we don't, who will? Shari'a should not be supported anywhere by America.

Hmm. Seems someone actually gets it.

Nah, not likely.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You are the light of the world! But if that light is under a bushel...

From the ever vigilant Mom:
Mad cowboy disease -

Question: How many members of the Bush Administration does it take to
change a light bulb?

Answer: TEN.

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb
needs to be changed

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for
changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for a
new light bulb

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor and
standing on a step ladder under the banner 'Bulb Accomplished'

7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush
was literally 'in the dark' the whole time

8. Another one to viciously smear # 7

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush
has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along

10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between
screwing in a light bulb and screwing the country.

And after all is said and done, no one will notice that they never
actually managed to change the light bulb.
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."
Saint Augustine

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 5

Mention slide guitar and you think of . . . no, not steel guitar, or pedal steel. Just "slide guitar".

How many think of Ben Harper? He's a pretty good modern student, to be sure (and a heck of a nice guy).

Wait, didn't some of the blues guys play slide guitar? Like that Robert Johnson dude?

If you think a little longer you come up with Bonnie Raitt, Duane Allman, Lowell George, and even Jeff Beck, although for him, like most of the English '60s rockers, including Jimmy Page, the slide playing, while interesting in the context, was not really masterful. But still cool, don't get me wrong.

Bob Brozman is a one-man resource and evangelist for traditional and ethnic slide guitar. Expert in styles you've likely never even heard of, he tours, clinics, and plays constantly, bringing these styles to new people all the time.

Here he is playing a tribute to one of the blues master, Charlie Patton:

And here he is doing some traditional blues in an unlikely style on a National Steel:

Update: To commentor Coyoteville, yes, I meant Beck, not Back. Thanks.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Because the hook brings you back

I came across this a little while back. Seems John Popper, virtuoso harmonica player and lead vocalist for Blues Traveler got in a wee bit of trouble:
John Popper Arrested
Updated 08:17 PST Thu, Mar 08 2007 (The Associated Press, Spokane, Wash.) Blues Traveler singer and harmonica player John Popper was arrested after the vehicle he was riding in was clocked going 111 mph, the Washington State Patrol said March 7.
Popper, 39, was arrested the afternoon of March 6 on Interstate 90 near the Spokane/Lincoln county line, the Washington State Patrol said.
Inside the black Mercedes SUV, officers found a cache of weapons and a small amount of marijuana, the Patrol said. A police dog searched the vehicle, finding numerous hidden compartments containing four rifles, nine handguns and a switchblade knife. Authorities also found a Taser and night vision goggles. The vehicle was seized.

Dude. Calm down, Right now.

Their biggest hit has to be The Hook, which has a very familiar chord progression:

On fact, the chord progression is so familiar that this guy went on a rant about it:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

With every move he makes, another chance he takes

Victoria Toensing is a Right-wing tool. She may have worshipped at the altar of honest über-conservative Barry Goldwater, and she may have obstructed, or written, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but she's still a tool as Henry Waxman shows today (via Crooks&Liars):

victoriatoensing.jpg Henry Waxman grills Victoria…

video_wmv Download (4418) | Play (4549) video_mov Download (1621) | Play (2725)

Here's the thing: Toensing bases her position on the Plame outing being just peachy-keen based on Plame having been in the US for 5 years, thus invalidating the criminal provisions of the aforementioned IIPA. But according to Plame (via BradBlog):

I was covert when my identity was outed. Worked in counter-proliferation division of CIA where most agents were also covert. I was covert, the status of my position was classified, I was working on WMD issues in Iraq. I traveled overseas during the five years prior to my being outed at which time my cover was blown, network destroyed along with my career path.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Somebody get me a nurse!

On Air America Radio, Thom Hartman says "Libertarians are conservatives who want to smoke dope and get laid." In other words, don't make any laws curtailing, well, MY freedoms. As for yours, whatever.

The Orange County Register fancies itself Libertarian. For them, it means Grover Norquist's "Government so small you could drown it in a bathtub." Except for the INS. Oh, and the military. Except the INS should not bother illegals who are actually working, because they're lining the pockets of some Republican donor. Oops, I mean Libertarian donor.

Last week they had this gem about the Walter Reed Hospital scandal:
Virtually every American and certainly every elected official believes that the government owes those wounded in war the best possible care.

Now, how can you disagree with that. Except as a prima facie argument it fails. Clearly elected officials don't think the wounded are owed the best possible care. Or else they'd give it to them. Review the original report at the Washington Post here.

So what's the solution? Yep, you guessed it:
The short answer is that these are government institutions that face the perverse incentives every government institution faces. With no effective competition and without the discipline of a profit-and-loss mechanism that could lead to inefficient institutions being forced to shut down, the tendency, despite the efforts of many within the system, is to lapse into mediocrity and worse.

Get that? Did you catch the "profit-and-loss" in there? Here it comes, folks: privitization. Market forces. Capitalism. Yep, that's the answer to everything. And now, to blame the bloggersphere:
The blog world, or at least the left side of it, has jumped on what some call privatization efforts at the hospital as the main culprit. That is disingenuous at best. A few services at Walter Reed are contracted out, but there's no effort to change the basic character of the government-military institution. It is that character that largely explains the long-term problems and widespread conditions that have come to light.

The remarkable thing is that despite the repeatedly documented shortcomings of military and veterans' hospitals, which are the closest thing to fully socialized medicine we have in this country, a significant sector of the public believes that more pervasively socialized health care would be appropriate in what is now the semiprivate sector.

No, silly. What the public believes is that money should be spent, not on tax breaks for Donald Trump but for soldiers' care. The system works as well as the money allocated to it. But as medical expenses for the returning military increase, the funds destined for medical aid are being cut.

Here's the problem with the "free market":

There is no incentive to deliver a quality product.

There is only incentive to make profits.

And especially when given government contracts, the only incentive is to maximize profit. To say that privatization is the answer is to be a solution in search of a problem. As a rebuttal, I offer the US Postal Service. Yes, it screws up sometimes, but consider this: I can toss an envelope affixed with a $.39 stamp, and 2 days later it will be in my friend's mailbox in New York. For the price of a can of Coke I can send a hand-written message across the country.

Now that's efficient.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

She said, 'There is no reason, and the truth is plain to see.'

Remember when Mike Love sued Brian Wilson over songwriting credits? Well, here's the thing, Mike. The Beach Boys' music, all written by Brian, was so good that lyrics written by Charlie The Chimp would have been acceptable.

I mean, c'mon:

Little surfer, little one,
makes my heart come all undone

The chord changes and melody are so lovely that adding lyrics from the LATimes real estate section wouldn't have changed the song's hit status.

On that note we have this from the International Musician, the newspaper for the America's and Canadian Musician's Union: (not sure if the first link will work, you have to be a member to see it, but I'll try to make it public):

Small Contribution, Big Settlement

Gary Brooker, the lead singer of the British 1960s rock group Procul Harem, has lost a British High Court copyright action over the group's 1967 hit "Whiter Shade of Pale."

Generally regarded one of the greatest pop songs of all time, "Whiter Shade of Pale" has sold more than 10 million records and still earns huge sums in royalties.

Former band member Matthew Fisher claimed he was due 50% of the song's royalties because of his contribution to the song in which, he claimed, he made significant chord changes to the Brooker version.

In a landmark copyright ruling, the High Court agreed with Fisher and awarded him a 40% share of the musical copyright. However, his claim for back royalties, which could have amounted to more than $2 million, was rejected.

In his ruling, the judge said Fisher's contribution to "Whiter Shade of Pale" was "significant" but not as substantial as that of Brooker, who now faces a large share of the legal costs of up to £500,000. Brooker said he based the riff on an air by Johann Sebastian Bach, which Brooker had heard in a British cigar ad.

The song is wonderful, and Fisher's famous organ lick makes it even more memorable. But Fisher getting a sizable piece of royalties? And Brooker claims to have actually authored the riff?

That's just wrong, or so it seems to me. How about Max Crook, who played the clavioline line on Del Shannon's "Runaway" getting 40% of the royalties?

I really don't think so.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge

While I don't completely agree, I have to admit my friend Wintermute makes some points:

The word is finally being heard that rap recordings and hip-hop in general are on the way out. See this Entertainment piece, "Has rap music hit a wall?"

The turning point is hard to pinpoint. But after 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is now struggling with an alarming sales decline and growing criticism from within about the culture's negative effect on society.

I always found it difficult to call rap "music," because the synthetic drum beats and the spoken doggerel verse so outweigh the minimal role of pitched instruments in rap recordings. To me, the term "rap music" is an oxymoron, an inherently contradictory pairing of words like "jumbo shrimp."

And as we follow the story to the CNN piece, we find this:

The turning point is hard to pinpoint. But after 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is now struggling with an alarming sales decline and growing criticism from within about the culture's negative effect on society.

Rap insider Chuck Creekmur, who runs the leading Web site, says he got a message from a friend recently "asking me to hook her up with some Red Hot Chili Peppers because she said she's through with rap. A lot of people are sick of rap ... the negativity is just over the top now." (Watch how hip-hop can revel in stereotypes -- or highlight injustice Video)

The rapper Nas, considered one of the greats, challenged the condition of the art form when he titled his latest album "Hip-Hop is Dead." It's at least ailing, according to recent statistics: Though music sales are down overall, rap sales slid a whopping 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, and for the first time in 12 years no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year.

Music sales are down overall the last few years, so this may be trying to analyze a problem where none exists. But maybe people are getting tired of some types of rap.

You know, I remember when people got tired of Yoko Ono, too. I dunno...

It's a sign of The Times

Because I worked all damn day, I had to find out about this from my friend Brad Friedman @ the BradBlog:
The Los Angeles Times continues to beg readers to cancel their subscriptions all together.

Their latest plan: Dump the progressive, interesting, non-white comic strips.

Last week, the Times decided to dump both Candorville, whose strip we've been running here from time to time --- the only one, mind you, that we're aware of whose dealt with the e-voting issue directly. La Cucaracha, the paper's only Latino-based strip (in LA!) was dumped at the same time.

The latter was re-instated after a flood of reader complaints. So far, no return of Candorville, however, the last African-American related strip of note in Los Angeles' once great newspaper now gutted by it's conservative Chicago Tribune owners/rapists. The Trib also recently canceled the strip as well.

We've gotten to know Darrin Bell, the strips creator, a bit over the last year or so. He sent The BRAD BLOG the following announcement a few days ago on the latest corporate-media idiocy, noting that though his strip has been dumped, "Blondie and Marmaduke are still safe" at the Times.

The only good news in the bargain: The world's unfunniest "comic strip", Mallard Fillmore, has been put out of our misery. Finally. A dead duck we can all be happy about.

"Without at least one of these two papers," Bell writes in regard to the cancellations at both the Times and the Trib, "Candorville can't continue to annoy the knuckledraggers in two of our most important cities, and the strip itself may not be long for this world."

He also asks that complaints be sent to We join him in that request, and are happy to post his note in full below...

Hello fellow America-hating Osama-huggers...
To introduce myself (to those of you who don't know me): I'm Darrin Bell, I create the progressive syndicated comic strip "Candorville," which runs in a bunch of mainstream papers including, until two months ago, the Chicago Tribune, and until two days ago, the LA Times. Candorville, in case you haven't heard of it, features a multi-ethnic cast of characters trying to make their dreams come true while fending off the ridiculous culture warriors of Bush's America. I also blog at

As have all of you, Candorville has been a steady thorn in the side of Americans who'd rather believe what they're told than what they see. Two years ago, I got wind that a concerted effort was underway to get Candorville booted from the conservative Chicago Tribune. A couple months ago, if that was the case, this effort succeeded, and as of two days ago, Tribune-ordered cuts at the LA Times (yeah, media consolidation was such a great idea) forced them to, coincidentally, drop Candorville. Meanwhile, Blondie and Marmaduke are still safe.

Without at least one of these two papers, Candorville can't continue to annoy the knuckledraggers in two of our most important cities, and the strip itself may not be long for this world. Papers operate on a herd mentality, and a couple large cancellations (even if both papers belong to the same conservative corporation) will surely prompt more. The LA Times just restored La Cucaracha (which was also cut) thanks to reader feedback, and they may consider restoring Candorville to the paper if they hear from enough readers. I'm hoping you would consider mentioning this on your blogs. If you do, readers should contact the Times here:

Please contact:
Los Angeles Times Readers' Representative Office
Telephone message line: (877) 554-4000
Fax: (213) 237-3535
Postal mail: 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Darrin Bell
Cartoonist, "Candorville"

Do your civic duty. Do it now!

And stars collide and the air's alive

I'm currently wiring and installing a studio for this fellow:

Really nice man.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Music is a world within itself

My good friend skippy issued a good natured challenge about the definitive 200 albums list posted by NARM.

Thing is, NARM (Nat'l Association of Record Merchandisers):
" a not-for-profit trade association that serves the music retailing community in the areas of networking, advocacy, information, education and promotion."

Read the definition carefully.

"the music retailing community".

Not that that's a bad thing. I do a lot of work for artists who can afford to build studios because they make a living with their music. Some are millionaires, some less successful. But because they make a living, they can pay me to do the work that I do.

But NARM shouldn't be confused with the Grammy's...wait, that's not a fair analogy. NARM is about sales, not art. It's really that simple. So their inclusion of Shania Twain's album in the top 200 has absolutely nothing to do with its artistic merit and everyting to do with sales.

The picture on the NARM site makes me a bit homesick. Capitol Studios was my home for 5 years, and I know those walls well. But let's look at the list.

My friend skippy is just wrong about Pink Floyd being miles above The Beatles. Sorry, dude. And while I agree with him about "Thriller", I find fault with Santana: "Supernatural". Lovely album, not top 200 material as far as art.

And "Grease: Soundtrack"? WTF? Sure, it's a cute movie and Broadway show, but the music is Four Seasons/Shirelles soundalike tracks. C'mon. It sold a boatload of units, but isn't everlasting art.

Check it out, have fun with it, bitch at it. It's all about the $$, not the art.

Oh, and "Slippery When Wet"? Gawd!

Friday, March 09, 2007

You are my special angel

Kristin at this age was exactly as this smile shows; largely happy, looking forward to growing up and taking on the world. And all of us in the family knew she was special, in many ways more special than the rest of us. Not because of musical talent, or sports skills, or grades, but in the undefinable thing I call "human talent".

She could look you in the eye, and you knew that at that moment, you were her universe, and she was there to be in the moment with you, and listen, laugh, cry, or whatever it took to make you feel better.

I wish I had been there more for her.

I miss you, dear sister.

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 4

In music, as in all arts, there are those who innovate (think Picasso), and those who "kick it up a notch".

Gary Moore wasn't the first guy to strap on a Les Paul and plug it into a Marshall, but he injected something special into that equipment combination. From wikipedia:

Gary Moore (born Robert William Gary Moore, 4 April 1952, in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a guitarist. In a career dating back to the 1960s he has played with bands/artists including Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II, Greg Lake and blues-rock band Skid Row as well as having a successful solo career.

Moore started performing at a young age, having picked up a battered acoustic guitar at the age of eight, and got his first quality guitar at the age of fourteen, learning to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left handed. His career has lasted over thirty years.

Gary Moore now appears as a regular radio host every Sunday and Monday on 'Planet Rock' radio. His show is entitled 'Blues Power' and plays many classic blues tracks, as well as some of Moore's own tracks.

Gary added an element of . . . I guess, precision to the rock lexicon. He rocked as hard as all the acolytes of Clapton, Beck, & Buddy Guy from the '60s, but was somehow smoother and more polished. The level of virtuosity was raised, without sacrificing any of the "soul".

Here's a video of Gary during his Thin Lizzy days:

And here he is with Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott doing the overblown yet delicious "Parisienne Walkways" live:

And finally, here's Gary more recently, in '04, paying homage to Jimi with "Red House", with bassist extraordinaire Pino Pallidino:

And best quote ever from YouTube comments:
Shit, if I could play like that, I'd have my head shaved, my balls out, be drunk all the time and wear rabbit slippers and I'm pretty sure people wouldn't notice!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

He sure has acquired this kinda cool

Chuck Hagel is getting a little buzz going in the liberal bloggersphere lately. From my friend skippy we find this in Esquire:

"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore," Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. "He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."

The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word -- impeachment -- spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It's barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.

"Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility," he says. "The press abdicated its responsibility, and the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly."

Respectfully, sir, blow it out your ass.

There are many, many people, good patriotic Americans, who questioned every issue, every day.

People like me, like my blog friends Jane Hamsher, tbogg, skippy, digby, and many many others.

You, sir, just chose not to listen.

In re: Hagel's voting record, we find from the WaPo that from 2/14 through 3/7, when Republicans and Democrats disagreed, Hagel voted with the Republicans 7 to 3. The math is pretty easy to figure out.

So take him with a large pinch of salt. Maybe he's a classic Republicanm surely there are few around anymore.

But maybe he's weasling toward a Presidential run, and if that's the case, much more scrutiny need be applied.

Update: From Mickey in comments, in re: McCain:
Let them eat each other alive in the primaries.


As the kidz say.

Well, as the kidz usta say.