Saturday, November 26, 2005
Santorum: Talking god, but walking with the devil
If there is one pseudo christian politician that I despise its Rick Santorum. This smarmy asshole from Pennsylvania has adopted the god bullshit rhetoric to gain some conservative votes but he is a whore for corporate money. Like most conservatives, as Thomas Frank has perfectly stated, he uses cultural and religious issues to create the fighting between left and right and while we argue, he flies on Wal-Mart jets, and gets fat donations from Outback Steakhouse simply because he authors and supports anti-worker, pro-corporate measures.
So, as we sit and argue with the idiots on the right, phonies like Santorum line their pockets with corporate money and screw us all, left and right, with bills that favor the companies but put us in a financial bind.
The senator, who had pushed for congressional intervention to keep Schiavo alive, noted that â€œI was in Tampa, I was 15 minutes away, and having worked on this case, I just felt an obligation to go by and pay my respects to the family.â€?
Santorum didnâ€™t mention why he happened to be 15 minutes away. He had come to Tampa in part to attend a fundraising lunch organized by one of his corporate benefactors, Outback Steakhouses. And heâ€™d flown in on the jet of another major donor, Wal-Mart.
Indeed, while Santorum has become perhaps the Senateâ€™s most outspoken member on hot-button social issues such as abortion and gay rights, much of his day-to-day work involves matters of interest to corporate America. This year has been typically busy. Santorum authored a bill that would relax overtime regulations and exempt numerous businesses from minimum-wage rules, a move particularly dear to the restaurant industry (thus the Outback Steakhouses event). He sponsored measures aiding campaign contributors, such as the private weather company AccuWeather (which would benefit from Santorumâ€™s proposed privatization of the National Weather Service); the fire-sprinkler industry; beer brewers; and the tomato grower Procacci Brothers, which is being accused of migrant-housing violations in Florida. And he has been pushing hard for Wal-Martâ€™s agenda, which includes tort reform and changes in overtime rulesâ€”Wal-Mart faces a slew of lawsuits over sex discrimination and alleged overtime violationsâ€”as well as reform of charitable giving laws and a permanent repeal of the estate tax, which would benefit the billionaire heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Wal-Martâ€™s political action committee gave $10,000, the maximum allowable PAC donation, to Santorum in 2004, plus another $10,000 to Santorumâ€™s PAC.
Yes, so lets keep falling for the god nonsense and all the cultural bullshit while criminals like Santorum keep fucking us in the end (no pun intended.) When are people gonna wake up and smell the lies?
O Holiday Tree
Orlando, FL - Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, recently announced that Liberty Counsel launched its second, annual nationwide campaign to prevent blatant religious discrimination during the holidays. Liberty Counsel will bring lawsuits against any governmental agency that discriminates against the public displays of religious symbols or songs and has also announced that it will defend any governmental entity which abides by the Constitution and allows the equal expression of religious views. In essence, this campaign seeks to be a “Friend” to those entities allowing for the constitutionally protected right of expression but will also be a “Foe” to those organizations who attempt to suppress such liberties.
Politicians respond like spineless cowards:
Mayor Thomas M. Menino confirmed yesterday that the tree he will light Thursday on the Boston Common is a Christmas tree.
‘’I grew up with a Christmas tree, I’m going to stay with a Christmas tree,” he said.
Last week, the Liberty Counsel’s ‘’Friend or Foe” Christmas Campaign, which is threatening to sue cities and school districts around the country it contends are ‘’discriminating against religion” this holiday season, targeted Boston because the city’s website refers to the tree on the Common as a ‘’holiday tree."
These self-same people like to go on about how the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Of course, many of those early Christians felt that traditions like Christmas Trees, mistletoe and Yule logs were pagan and forbidden at Christmastide. Of course, confronting them with pesky facts and actual history will get us nowhere, but could politicians PLEASE stop jumping through these hoops when these wackjobs squeal?
Staver noted, “We are resolved to stop the Grinch from stealing Christmas. Liberty Counsel will be a friend to those who try to exercise their constitutional liberties and a foe to those who attempt to oppress liberties. This nation was founded by people who sought to freely exercise their religious liberties. We have no intention of letting these liberties fall by the wayside or be chilled every holiday season by uninformed or hostile government officials."
Who actually goes to court to fight for Christians when some local official DOES go too far? Why, the ACLU does, of course (link goes to Salon, ad required to read the original):
Ironically, when school officials do go too far, the ACLU is likely to challenge them, on the grounds that the government can neither promote nor restrict religious speech. “A lot of the things the ACLU does to help religious people and religious students are not high-profile cases; they don’t get much attention,” says Haynes. “The Christian student who is told she can’t bring her Bible to school, the ACLU gets those kinds of calls, and often it doesn’t become a lawsuit, but they will quietly tell the school you can’t do this, you have to treat everyone fairly.”
Indeed, one case that ACLU president Nadine Strossen loves to talk about is that of Rita Warren, a retired woman who calls herself the “Lone Ranger of the manger” and whose life mission is to put nativity scenes in public places. When she placed a plastic crÃ¨che on the lawn in front of the government building in Fairfax, Va., the government ordered her to remove it. Warren called the ACLU, and they discovered that the city of Fairfax had allowed others to erect displays on the property. “Once the government allows displays of any kind to be placed on public property, it can’t then discriminate against some display because of the viewpoint,” says Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. “The government could not discriminate against her religious display any more than it could take specific action to promote her religious display. It has to treat us the same.”
These stories rarely get much play, especially since the ACLU lacks a publicity apparatus that can compete with the religious right. “We’re not in the business to defend ourselves as an organization,” says Strossen.
I’ve been hearing these “war on Christmas” warnings my whole life. As the Salon piece notes, it used to come from the extreme rightwing John Birch Society, and it was treated with derision. Now it’s all over the major corporate media outlets, Infotainment Models dutifully reading from the press releases put out by the likes of Falwell. They’re doing pretty good for a hounded and maltreated “minority” group, what with their claws ahold of every branch of our government, the corporations doing their bidding and a political culture that has come to demand overt piety from candidates running for office.
Here we find ourselves again, caught up in a season of rampant greed and religious fascism, a spoiled nation grasping for trinkets and under the thrall of dangerous moralists who’re driving us toward a Theocracy.
Friday, November 25, 2005
God Made Them Do It!
Oh, this is just WAY too fucking funny, in a black humor sort of way:
Nov. 24, 2005 | On the night of Oct. 6, David Ludwig, 18, and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Beth Borden, went to church. There was no sermon, though—at least not a traditional one. David and Kara were at the Lancaster Bible Church in Manheim, Penn., for a Christian rock concert. As the punishingly loud guitars of Audio Adrenaline and Pillar strained the limits of the church sound system, the kids screamed and pumped their fists and banged their heads. “Pillar and Audio A rock my face off!” David wrote on his blog the next day. Kara spent almost all the money in her pocket on a Pillar sweatshirt. She was wearing it the morning of Nov. 13 when, police say, David shot and killed her parents and fled with her at his side. (google cache of his blog here).
Damned kids and their rock ... oh, wait ... SAVED kids and their BLESSED rock music!!
Like many edgier evangelical bands, Pillar specializes in battle anthems, composed on the premise that Christians are under constant spiritual attack. The emotional effects are remarkably similar to those of any secular odes to alienation and rebellion, and the vast majority of Christian teens who are drawn to such music, like the vast majority of their non-Christian peers, find comfort in the roiling cacophony that mirrors their inner lives; it helps them get through some difficult years in one piece. Any Christian artist can share legitimate and profound stories of young people who found genuine grace through their music. But there will always be a small fringe of disturbed people who are looking for an excuse to go over the edge, and who will find it in angry and tormented lyrics—even if those lyrics are supposed to be about eternal salvation.
I know I shouldn’t, but this is just TOO much to ignore.
I’ve lost count of the number of bands, albums, video games and movies that have come under attack from the Christian Right. In fact, it’s the commercial truism that pop culture continues to reward rebellion and alienation, including the Christian pop culture:
It is still possible to find fundamentalist Christians who hold that all rock ‘n’ roll is the devil’s music, and that CCM is only a more deceptive variety. The mainstream Christian culture industry, however, is too sophisticated and too profitable to turn its back on any form of musical expression. But with the proliferation of Christian music—and books, movies, stand-up comedy, and pro wrestling—the line between faith and sin has become blurred, and pop proselytizers will have to ask themselves if they are really changing hearts or just winning fans. Evangelicals justify their embrace of 21st century pop culture forms by saying that the Bible calls them to be “in the world, but not of it.” This week, sadly, they are both.
So, what should we blame it on? Can we blame it on the world going to hell? Can we blame it on poor parenting, genetics or is it simply the way rock music mirrors the roiling anger and testosterone-driven blood in the loins of frustrated teenaged boys?
Or should we get back to what we CAN do in a civil society? We hold people accountable for their actions, and their justifications or the music they listened to or the digital enemies they fragged are merely details in the stories we tell each other about these events.
I would submit that the real root to so many of these problems, going back through the long history of crimes of passion, is that people don’t communicate and pressure builds, and sometimes it explodes. David quoted another favorite band on his blog, Project 86:
Here’s a chance to show you how I feel
A chance for you to see it’s real
To see just what I feel inside and who it is that’s by my side
I will never change my mind
Try to torch me and you’ll find
You can’t turn me or deter me
No matter how you try
You can’t burn me
I know where I stand and what’ll happen if you try it
I am FIREPROOF
I know my heart and I just can’t deny it
I am FIREPROOF
I tried to tell you but you wouldn’t be quiet
I am FIREPROOF
I’ll never bow down and you won’t buy it
I am FIREPROOF
Now you know what I’m all about
There’s no chance I’ll ever doubt
The only one who can control me
I extol the Almighty
You want me to put it on the line
And give yield to you this time
See but I won’t compromise and I realize
It’s my time to rise
It’s my time to rise
You’ll never take me in the fire
You’ll never take my own desire
It is, of course, unfair for me to quote the lyrics of his music to condemn his cultural experiences for his behavior, but after decades of hearing such bullshit from the right, well, payback is sweet.
note—first link to main story is to Salon dot com, and you’ll have to watch an ad
"When Black Friday Comes ...
... I’m gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it ‘til
I satisfy my soul
Gonna let the world pass by me
That’s about how I used to feel after the noon rush on this day every year. Just ... let ... me ... hide.
On THIS Black Friday, only the second year I’m not rushing around through crowds after over twenty years as a retail clerk, manager and/or buyer, I’d like to put in a word for those long-suffering folks confronting voracious Americans on this most holy of days in the United States of Mammon.
Show them some damned thanks, would you please?
There will, of course, be endless stories in newspapers and local newscasts and the “consumer” segments on cable news about how bad customer service is in this country. Endless laments about how it’s worse than it ever was, and advising you that the ONLY way that you’ll get your money’s worth is to learn how to complain agressively and often.
I used to HATE those stories, as they are almost always terribly one-sided, and almost always direct you to direct your ire at a relatively powerless person.
Let me tell you why your service sucks, as someone who used to provide it.
MARKETING & ADVERTISING
In my experience, marketing people have little or no experience actually helping people. Their job, of course, is to entice you into the store. They will often do so with ambiguously worded signs, sales tags and advertisements. The signage in the store for these sales usually goes up the night before the sale begins. Yes, that’s right, many of the clerks and managers staring bleary-eyed at you today were either there VERY late Wednesday night or even on Thanksgiving itself trying to get these signs put up properly, trying to get the right sales tags on the right products. They will be doing this on top of the usual store operations.
This isn’t really totally the fault of the marketing and advertising folks: enticing people is different than SERVING them. One is offering up a fantasy, a mirage, a shadow projected on the wall of a desired reality. Customer service is, ideally, fulfilling the actual real desire. Stripping vs. hooking, to be crude.
There are all kinds of other considerations that go into the marketing. Certain products may be priorities for the manufactures. There may be large ad buys that carry with them certain display requirements. The buyer for the given retailer may have a product she loves that is pushed more, or one she hates that is buried somewhere in the store despite an ad you may have read. The total buy for the given chain may have been limited, and your particular outlet may have gotten a smaller portion of the company’s overall piece of the pie. The layered interests and demands get to be very complicated, and what you want being sold out is often the result of forces way beyond the control of the clerk behind the counter telling you “sorry, we’re sold out, and I’m not sure when we’ll get more in.”
SENIOR MANAGEMENT, STOCKHOLDERS & BUREAUCRACY
These forces are your enemy, and often the enemy of the store-level management. All of them try to get the most lifeblood sucked out of the store level as they can while providing as little support as possible. This dynamic is known as “productivity” ... I used to call it “squeezing blood from stones”. Over the years I was in retail, more and more pressure was brought to bear down on the actual service-providing parts of the businesses I worked for to do more with less. The shareholders, after all, demanded it. Actual service was an at-best tertiary consideration after this requirement and the requirement to look happy pulling off increasingly impossible miracles. Training money is expected to come out of regular payroll, and seasonal temps are hired later and later in the year, and often thrown into the thick of things with minimal training. Meanwhile, careful records of schedules must me maintained, gaps caused by sick/lazy workers adjusted to, and the vagaries of business levels are more uncertain than the weather, no matter how sophisticated a given company’s scheduling software is.
RETAIL EMPLOYEES AND MANAGERS
Lets be honest, a lot of them suck. This isn’t a field that our culture considers a “career”, no matter what Wal-Mart’s stupid Orwellian ads proclaim. People fall into it. People settle for it. People with a passion for whatever a given store is selling start out figuring that they might as well get paid for enjoying their hobby while they look for something better, only to find themselves still doing it years later (guess which one I was). Telling someone you work in retail is an invitation for scorn. If you started out caring or trying to do a good job, this will wear on the strongest person. Having to pick up the slack for the guy who’s just there to punch the clock and cash his check only makes it worse. I found, though, that these slackers were a minority. Most of the people I worked with over the years TRIED TO DO A GOOD JOB.
and finally ...
Oh, where to start with this bunch? Reared for years on the bullshit line “the customer is always right” (except when they’re wrong, as an old manager of mine used to say), people think that they can do no wrong. They deal out abuse, expect satisfaction while doing everything they can to impede the transaction and, perhaps worst of all, pay NO attention to other customers beside themselves. Over the years, I’ve seen fights, shoving matches, screaming matches ... I’ve been spit on and pushed down, and NOT just by shoplifters. I’ve watched my employees called niggers and bitches, and been forced by senior management to back down to nasty wealthy customers who threatened lawyers or who called a friend-of-a-friend of the CEO. I’ve seen customers whistle at a clerk like they would a dog and snap their fingers at a cashier the way a Victorian “lady” would call over her maid. Customers often know what they want, but have no idea what it’s called or what it looks like, and woe to you if you can’t read their minds. I had a guy once walk up to me and say, “there’s a song, by a guy, it’s about a girl, he’s in love. Do you know who does it?” If the employee asks you questions about what you’re trying to find, indulge them and answer their questions without a large sigh or derision. Maybe he’s undertrained, or new or maybe you just weren’t making yourself clear.
Oh, and people REALLY need to learn to wait their turn.
Whew, looking back at this mess above, it’s a wonder that any business gets transacted at all. It’s also plain that it’s a good thing I made my way out of that world! In any event, in you’re shopping this holiday season, if someone gives you good service, look them in the eye and say thank you. If a manager is nearby, praise the employee to the manager. Treat them like professionals, even if some of them in the store weren’t. You will get better service in return, and let me tell you, sometimes a kind word was like a bottle cold beer in a desert to me when we were in the weeds and the computers at VISA were starting to go down. Also, the way this country is going, it might be YOU behind that counter when your multi-national pulls up stakes and tosses you on your butt, and what goes around comes around.
"Why do I like Che?": Evo Morales and the Bolivian presidency
We keep looking to Latin and South America for leftist inspiration and Bolivia is yet another nation that gives us some hope. Evo Morales, a full-blooded Aymara, Bolivia’s dominant ethnic group, and a member of MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) is on the ballot for the December 18 vote for the presidency. He is the first member of Bolivia’s marginalized ethnic majority to make a serious run for the presidency. While some members of his rank and file feel he is not leftist enough, Washington is scared of the prospect of yet another left wing government taking hold south of our borders.
Morales has become almost as much of a bugbear to the Bush administration and many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle as ChÃ¡vez or Castro. And for his part, Morales seems to revel in the role. At the summit meeting of the Organization of American States held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, earlier this month, he appeared with ChÃ¡vez at a huge anti-American and anti-globalization rally just before the meetings began. The two men spoke in front of a huge image of Che Guevara. This is symbolic politics, but it is more than that too. The left is undergoing an extraordinary rebirth throughout the continent; Castro’s survival, ChÃ¡vez’s rise, the prospect that the next president of Mexico will be AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador, the leftist mayor of Mexico City, and the stunning trajectory of Morales himself all testify to that fact. Pardo-Maurer is right that Morales’s success reflects both Bolivia’s current dire economic conditions and the perception of the indigenous majority that it is finally their time to come to power. But it is also a product of the wider popular mood in Bolivia and, for that matter, in much of contemporary Latin America.
Thanks to the devastating effects of globalization and free trade agreements on the South and Latin American people, voters are becoming more and more supportive of leftist ideals as a means of helping their plight. These folks have seen NAFTA and now CAFTA up close and have felt the wonderful effects of unregulated corporate business.
For most Bolivians, globalization, or what they commonly refer to as neoliberalism, has failed so utterly to deliver the promised prosperity that some Bolivian commentators I met insisted that what is astonishing is not the radicalization of the population but rather the fact that this radicalization took as long as it did. Bolivia often seems now like a country on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Every day, peasants or housewives or the unemployed erect hundreds of makeshift roadblocks to protest shortages of fuel (a particularly galling affront in a country with vast hydrocarbon resources) or to demand increased subsidies for education or to air any of the dozens of issues that have aroused popular anger. The language of these protests is insistently, defiantly leftist, with ritual denunciations of multinational corporations, of the United States and of the old Bolivian elite, who are white, mostly descendants of Spanish and German settlers. Two presidents were chased out of office in the last two years by popular protests made up largely of MAS supporters: first Gonazalo SÃ¡nchez de Lozada, then Carlos Mesa. (Since Mesa’s government fell in June, the country has been run by a caretaker government overseen by a former chief justice of the supreme court.)
Morales is pledging the nationalization of industries to help the dire economic situation of Bolivians. There are some skeptics who doubt any real change will take place.
Assuming there is no attempt to cancel the elections outright, Morales’s most difficult political problem may be that MAS’s platform is actually quite a bit more moderate than many of its rank-and-file supporters would like - or, indeed, than they understand it to be. As Roberto Fernandez TerÃ¡n, a development economist at the University of San SimÃ³n in Cochabamba and an expert on Bolivia’s external debt, told me, “I have no great hope that MAS will make profound changes.” Senior MAS officials insist, however, that their nationalization program alone would engender profound improvements in the Bolivian economy. By proposing that the Bolivian government renegotiate its contracts with the multinational oil companies, “we are literally proposing changing the rules of the game,” said Carlos Villegas, a researcher at the University of San AndrÃ©s in La Paz and MAS’s principal economic spokesman. “The current contracts say that the multinationals own the resources when they’re in the ground and are free to set prices of natural gas and oil once it has been extracted.” In March, the Bolivian Congress, under pressure from demonstrators, passed a law reasserting national ownership of resources, but, Villegas said, “it is not being enforced.” MAS would not only enforce the law; it would also extend its powers.
It will be interesting to see how things develop on December 18.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Too Early Gone
Damn, another great guitarist has passed. Chris Whitley:
Singer/songwriter Chris Whitley died Sunday (Nov. 20) in Houston at the age of 45 after battling lung cancer. The veteran Texas-reared artist recorded for Columbia, ATO and, most recently, Messenger Records, which released his tenth studio album, “Soft Dangerous Shores,” in July. A new release, “Reiter In,” is due in mid-December on vinyl and will appear on CD sometime next year.
Whitley is survived by his daughter Trixie, his brother Dan and his girlfriend Susanne, whom he was planning to marry. “I hope you all will mourn my brother’s death but more important celebrate his life as Chris was all about life and living,” Dan wrote on Chris’ official Web site. “I started the celebration by cranking up [the 1998 album] ‘Dirt Floor’ in his honor ... crying still."
I saw him at Toad’s Place in New Haven back in ‘91, when he was going to be the hot new star. There were several hot blues and blues-like guitarists being pushed at the time as heirs to the recently passed Stevie Ray Vaughn. His debut album, Living With the Law is a smokey, moody and quiet disc, full of atmospheric sonic chiaroscuro figures and set pieces. Well, I was in no way prepared to have the skin blistered off me by the sonic assault I was about to be treated to.
He played like no one else. This wasn’t someone trying to be a rock star, or a guitar god ... this was a man who had to get something OUT. His playing was gentle and jarring, sophisticated and wonderfully simple. It was blues, it was punk, it was noise and it was the voice of angels. I was blown away.
He followed with eleven more albums that defied characterization, that made the marketing people in an industry that depends on simple-minded genre divisions crazy. He was sadly unknown outside of his devoted fans, but he was a great artist:
"Chris is an example of one of those things that appalls me about the record industry - ATO co-founder Dave Matthews told Billboard in 2001. “That is, how could a talent like his go relatively unnoticed? So few singers have their own personality, and Chris is his own man to the bone. Honestly, I feel more passion for his music than I do for my own. My music I’m critical of. But I have a fervent, religious devotion to the magic that Chris makes.”
“What I came to terms with by making some small indie records and meeting other people who work in that way is that, hey, if a record doesn’t do blockbuster numbers, then that’s OK,” Whitley told Billboard in 2001. “I feel more comfortable with my place in the culture now and the fact that I don’t have to fear the cool police or this cult of youth."
I mourn his passing. As his daughter Trixie writes:
My father took his last breath last night the 20th of November. I would like to make it clear that the people he needed and loved the most were with him while and when he left in peace. Those were Dan, Susann, my beloved mother Helene and me.
I would also like to ask you guys to understand there is a very fine line between Chris Whitley the legendary musician and Chris Whitley the Father, Brother, and Lover.
This was my Dad’s favorite line from the first song I ever wrote, this is for you Daddy:
“Like the feather we blow away, in the thoughtlessness of words others say.”
All faith and peace,
If you don’t know his art, go here to hear some of his works on mp3.
Brother runnin’ powder money
Daddy’s somewhere on a drunk
In the hours, after washing
I do my dreaming with a gun
Well I come down from the country
Find a lesson in the draw
There ain’t no secrets in the city
It’s hard living with the law
They got machines, mama I can’t figure
They got a romance made for doing time
Send me out child, running outside
Out along a world of crime
Gonna swing my scythe, got a hand upon the handle
Gonna shade my children ways I understand
Milk the trigger, kill the hunger
Staring down this broken land
So fetch on up your greasy apron
Spread your lover in the straw
Hear me baby, I’m nearly crazy
It’s hard living with the law - Chris Whitley, Living With the Law
Worship the Pre-Baby
The war on women takes another beachhead, this time in Indiana:
Ind. Court Upholds Abortion Waiting Period
The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a law that requires women seeking an abortion to get counseling about medical risks and alternatives, and to wait at least 18 hours after the session before going through with the procedure.
The court ruled in a 4-1 vote that opponents of the law could not pursue their lawsuit, which argued that privacy is a core right under the state constitution that extends to women seeking to end their pregnancies.
Silly girls, you obviously haven’t THOUGHT about what it is you want to do. Here, dear, take a look at some gruesome photos and listen to a person give you state-mandated details about the procedure, then go home and think about it for a couple of days.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has a good overview of mandatory waiting laws. They describe the Indiana law as:
Clinic for Women v. Brizzi (Indiana, USA)
Passed in 1995, Indianaâ€™s waiting period law requires women to make two separate trips to an abortion provider before they can obtain the procedure; they must receive a state-mandated lecture designed to discourage the abortion choice at least 18 hours before the procedure is performed. The Center is charging that the law violates the rights of women seeking abortions by placing unnecessary, burdensome obstacles that serve no actual health purpose in their paths. The state court challenge follows a long history of legal battles over this law in the federal courts, including a petition to the United States Supreme Court.
This sort of waiting period is demanded by statute before NO other elective procedure in this country. We only treat women this way, and children, of course, which in the minds of far too many Americans amounts to the same thing.
It is worth remembering that these kind of restrictions were upheld in Casey, a case that bears the name of the father of the man that the traitorous “leaders” of the Democratic Party insist must be the next Democrat to run for the Senate from the State of Pennsylvania. The same infamous case in which ScAlito held in a lower court that women SHOULD have to receive the permission of their husbands/owners before obtaining an abortion. The same case that whittled away at women’s access to a medical procedure that should only be the business of themselves and their doctors.
Jane Crow continues to spread it’s wings, eager to shelter the Holy Fetus in a country that increasingly abandons its children to poverty, broken schools and no access to health care.
Green Day: Turning teenagers into dissenters?
I have to admit, I was never really a big Green Day fan when I first heard them. I mean, who cares about typical three piece power pop with lyrics about alienation and weed? But something happened to these guys since Dookie: They grew up. I gave American Idiot a listen and have been hooked ever since. I can’t get enough of it.
If you are not in the know, its a concept album that took four years to complete. The songs follow the paths of a group of youths desensitized by the corporate media and living under an oppressive right-wing government. The songs themselves are powerful and have amazing hooks.
In their incessant touring to promote American Idiot, the band puts on a great stage show that pushes the kids in the audience to question their government, to dissent against an unjust authority, and to think for themselves. There is nothing groundbreaking here. The Clash and others promoted similar messages in their music as well. But for a band like Green Day to do it on the scale they are doing, filling up football stadiums, and to also do it in this day and age where any dissent is considered almost illegal, is impressive.
And when, near the end of the show, they play the plaintive ballad “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” a curtain of sparks pours from pyro devices above the stage, a beautiful and elegiac sight. Armstrong tilts his head up and watches as the fire rains down onto what Green Day have convinced you is a country, and world, in serious trouble. But before they leave the stage, Armstrong roars over the crowd: “They don’t have the power! You’re the fuckin’ leaders! We elect these people into office! Don’t let them dictate your life or tell you what to do!” For a moment, he sounds like a presidential candidate.
Look, when my four year old can recite almost all the lyrics to his favorite American Idiot songs, it tells me something: Their message is easy to understand and it transcends the music. I read about teens in the audience singing and agreeing with the band and their message. My only question is, will that message resonate once they leave the stadium and hit the malls or school? Now that would be cool.
Venezuela provides discount heating oil for poor Massachusetts residents
In a large humanitarian gesture (and another salvo in the PR war against our administration) Hugo Chavez and Venezuela make good on the promise to sell cheap heating oil to poor US residents by inking a deal with Massachusetts:
The fuel is being offered by Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company which runs roughly 16,000 gas stations in the U.S.
U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, who helped broker the deal, called the agreement “an expression of humanitarianism at its very best,” and rejected criticism that the move was motivated by politics. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez often blames the plight of the poor on unbridled capitalism and had criticized the Bush administration for failing to reduce poverty.
“This is a gesture about people,” said Delahunt, a Democrat.
This is a bold move, and Delahunt is optimistic about other companies doing the same:
Delahunt said the agreement could set an example for U.S. oil companies. Congressional leaders have asked the companies to use some of their profits to fund heating fuel assistance programs for low-income residents.
“I just hope that this sends a message, and that other oil companies will step and help also,” Delahunt said.
Oooh that’s a hot one. I’m still wiping away the tears of laughter. Exxon/Mobil/Texaco/Hess will sell discounted oil to poor people on the day that Karl Rove comes out of the closet.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I'll Say It Again
From an interesting article in Newsweek…
Just before Bush touched down in Beijing, moreover, Chinese authorities rounded up Chinese Christians, political activists, and grassroots protestors, apparently to ensure they didnâ€™t do anything to mar the presidential visit. The detentions offended U.S. Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice, who said the issue was raised â€œquite vociferouslyâ€? with the Beijing government.
Where was Condi (or anyone else) when thousands of political activists and grassroots protestors were rounded up and detained in order to ensure that the president’s visit to NYC two summers ago wasn’t marred by their presence? (The list of people detained includes our own MRJPH, of course. I was nimble enough to stay on the right side of the orange plastic fencing.)
Just a thought…
Anyway, it’s a good article, and has little to do with what I’m bitching about.
The Truth, no joke
I usually shy away from the common Blogland habit of saying that this or that blog post or newspaper column is a “must-read” - but Brian Leiter’s fisking of Bush’s speech from last week truly should be required reading:
The central delusion that has gripped the American right since 9/11 ... is the idea that every terrorist incident is related to every other one, that the grievances of Chechen separatists have something to do with the grievances of Palestinian suicide bombers which have something to do with Sunni resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq which has something to do with the murderous delusions of religious fundamentalists actually beholden to Osama bin Laden. But these events have almost nothing to do with each other (as we have had occasion to remark previously), except that they serve the propaganda purposes of a decadent and amoral empire. One really can’t repeat this often enough: there is no “war on terror,” not only because you can’t wage war on a technique, but because there is no single agent of terrorism motivated by a unitary set of concerns. The whole “war on terror” is a fraud, and anyone who speaks of such a fake war should be laughed out of serious society. If America had not lost its collective mind after 9/11, there would now be only an international criminal manhunt for bin Laden and other perpetrators of crimes against civilians in New York and London and Madrid (etc.).
...It is true that some of the “extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East,” but obviously not because the U.S. has supported “democracy and peace” in the region (I assume this was supposed to be a laugh line)...
...There is no doubt that there are hundreds of millions of people around the globe--most, to be sure, under the age of seven--who entertain fantasies of unlimited power over all their adversaries, from their parents to their neighbors to their distant enemies: part of grown-up leadership is to assess which of these fantasies of power are actually realistic.
[Bush:] “The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.”
Indeed, it does: it provides, as the communist threat did in an earlier era, a rationalization for foolish and dangerous domestic and foreign policies; an endless distraction from the self-serving agenda of plutocratic elites at home; and a rhetorical trope for a failed leader, whose personal and political corruption would have turned him out of office long ago in a functional democratic society.
Read the rest. It is the unvarnished, politically incorrect truth, and it would be nice if we could collectively be done with the fairy tales and have an honest discussion about what is actually going on in the world today.
(Cross-posted by Dadahead.)
Poodles, Like Stopped Clocks, Are Right Twice a Day
So what does a poodle and a stopped clock have to do with this?
This is a picture of folks at work at al-Jazeera.
The would be Tony Blair. *
And the “stopped clock” story would be this: that he talked Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera.
The five-page transcript of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals that Blair talked Bush out of launching a military strike on the station, unnamed sources told the daily which is against the war in Iraq.
The transcript of the pair’s talks during Blair’s April 16, 2004 visit to Washington allegedly shows Bush wanted to attack the satellite channel’s headquarters.
Blair allegedly feared such a strike, in the business district of Doha, the capital of Qatar, a key western ally in the Persian Gulf, would spark revenge attacks.
You really must read the entire story, but do remember this:
The newspaper (The Daily Mirror) said that the memo “casts fresh doubt on claims that other attacks on al-Jazeera were accidents”. It cited the 2001 direct hit on the channel’s Kabul office.
Let’s now turn to the The Daily Mirror.
The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors.
In 2001 the station’s Kabul office was knocked out by two “smart” bombs. In 2003, al-Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US missile strike on the station’s Baghdad centre.
Until, of course, they started reporting stories the Bush administration didn’t like.
Well, hey--Tony Blair is useful for something after all.
**This in no way implies that nearly all poodles aren’t intelligent animals. Only the two-legged version do I have questions about.
Sometimes people who have huge impacts on our culture pass with little or no notice. They’re old, or haven’t been involved in some scandal. I often am suprised to find out that someone I admire has passed away and I’d missed it. It makes me feel sad, or ungrateful.
On November 5th, 2005 Link Wray died in Denmark.
He introduced fuzz tones to rock music. His Rumble was full of menace and swagger and an irrepressable joy to LIVE. He all-but created feedback and the power chord as essential parts of Rock and Roll.
As Richard Harrington describes in the Washington Post, Prophet of the Rock Guitar, Wray:
With “Rumble,” the classic 1958 instrumental first improvised at a Virginia sock hop, Link Wray invented the power chord, creating a template for modern rock guitar. Released as a single by Wray & His Ray Men, “Rumble” was gutbucket menace, awash in echo and reverb, built on Wray’s slow drags across the strings of alternating major chords, capped by a run of notes up and down the fretboard.
It was the big bang of dangerous guitar. [...]
One night they played a Grant-sponsored show at the Fredericksburg Arena backing the Diamonds, who’d had a big dance hit with “The Stroll.” Wray didn’t know the song, but when his drummer (and brother) Doug Wray laid down a stroll-like beat, Link filled in with a slowly unfurling, ominous guitar sound so immediately cool the crowd demanded it three more times that very night.
When Wray went into a studio soon after to record what he initially called “Oddball,” he had trouble replicating the sound he’d gotten onstage. Thinking it had something to do with the studio amps, Wray took a pencil and punched holes in his speakers, thereby inventing the fuzzbox and becoming one of the first guitarists to experiment with feedback and distortion.
Oddball was eventually released as “Rumble” by his label (inspired by the gang fight in “West Side Story"). He went on to have several instrumental hits, and Harrington give a quick overview of a career that has gone too long underappreciated. If you, at some point in your life, enjoyed Surf, Punk, Metal, Glam, Rockabilly ... hell, pretty much anything with a guitar, then you were touched by Link Wray. His was the injection of drama, menace and atmosphere into pop music. If you’ve ever played air guitar, or enjoyed numerous soundtracks in movies over the years, thank Link Wray.
On the Offical Link Wray website:
Native-American Rock Guitar Instrumentalist has died, 76 years of age.
It is with the deepest sorrow that we have to inform Links dear fans that our beloved husband and father Link Wray has deceased November 5. 2005
In respect of Links wishes, he was buried in silence and privacy from the historic protestant Church: Christians Church in Copenhagen Denmark, Friday 18th of November 2005. with attendance of his family Olive and Oliver Wray.
Link passed away in their arms, safely in his home in Copenhagen, not ever aware that his heart was getting tired. This was the way he had told us, he wanted it.
Rest in glorious feedback, Mr. Wray, and thank you.
Monday, November 21, 2005
On the road with the Bushes
Yes, we all know about our president’s failings as a politician, a human, and as a husband and father. His failings as a tourist are, well, predictable:
As he barnstormed through Japan, South Korea and China, with a final stop in Mongolia still to come, Bush visited no museums, tried no restaurants, bought no souvenirs and made no effort to meet ordinary local people.
Not a surprise, right? I mean, this fool makes no effort to get to know his own citizens, so why should he bother with some ‘chinamen’?
Now, that woman he married tries to make an effort to acculturate her ignorant husband from time to time:
She has had little luck enticing her husband into joining her over the years. The first time the Bushes traveled to China together in their current capacity, she had to tell him to slow down as he tried to race through a tour of the Great Wall. She once persuaded him to go to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, only to see him burn through the place in 30 minutes. He dispensed with the Kremlin cathedrals in Moscow in seven minutes. He flatly declined an Australian invitation to attend the Rugby World Cup while down under.
Sheeeeet, why bother with all that crap? All that matters is mainstream country music, McDonald’s, and good ole NASCAR. The rest of that artsy gobbledygoop is for sissy Europeans.
Seriously, this article is another indication that our president is an ugly American redneck with no interest in anything that the rest of the world has to offer.
Bush Demonstrates Exit Strategy
"Why it’s easy, we’ll just walk right… ummm… lemme try the other handle. Oh shit...”
I’m sorry, but that cracks me up. If anyone has a link for the video, please post it.