Monday, January 31, 2005
The Iraq elections would be really great except for the following reasons:
1) It's cost you and me $150 billion and counting, which might not be so bad had the war been necessary for the preservation of the liberty of American citizens here in the borders of the United States. But in fact, you know how Bush said recently that he's "firmly planted the flag of liberty" in the Middle East and all that horseshit? Where do you think he got that flag of liberty? He wrenched it out of our hands...
2) Over 10,000 U.S. soldiers dead and wounded. Is 9/11 avenged yet? And let's not forget the 100,000 + dead Iraqis.
3) The "campaign" was shrouded in anonymity, and one can hardly say that a vote is "free" when private vehicles are banned from the roads and other "freedoms" listed in this op-ed.
4) It's obviously a propaganda stunt, as turnout figures were placed very high at first and then began falling and falling. And oh, the "moving" pictures of the Iraqis holding up their fingers stained with indelible ink to "prevent them from voting more than once"? It took me a while to figure out what galled me about the ink, aside from the fact that it's one of those goddamned brilliant PR moves like when the Kuwaitis waved American flags as the troops entered that country in 1991. And what bugs me is that obviously some pains were taken to see to it that fraud was minimized in the Iraqi elecion. Someone realized that there might need to be some way to prove that someone had voted, and so they devised an unmistakable way to prove that someone had voted--the damn ink.
But where was all that concern for our own election last year when millions of Americans voted on electronic machines that produced no record of a vote cast? Where was our indelible ink? Why do we let the press and the government get away with foisting this bullshit on us?
It Can't Happen Here
Well, it's because of the "It Can't Happen Here" syndrome. The U.S. is always written about as a "developed" nation that is a "democracy" with the most "freedom" in the world. We've convinced ourselves we're the "greatest country in the world" and that we can't do anything stupid, immoral, illegal, or against the will of almighty God.
And that is a big, overall "frame" that makes people reject the idea that of industrialized nations, the United States leads in poverty. But it does, and because of that we have"the highest infant-mortality rate, the highest child-poverty rate, the highest teen-pregnancy rate, the highest child-abuse death rate, and so on, among all rich countries" according to this article.
As for our "democracy," let's not forget that a court appointed the president in 2000. And as for our "freedom," let's of course not forget the Patriot Act, Jose Padilla, and not being allowed to get prescription drugs from Canada (so much for the "free" market), among many other things.
And then there's this depressing story about today's student's don't care about the First Amendment...and Justin Raimondo has a great article about the real mastermind behind the Iraqi election
Friday, January 28, 2005
So now a third columnist has been outed as receiving payment from the government to be a mouthpiece for administration policies.
For all the right-wing vitriol directed at Noam Chomsky, a man you'll never see on "Hardball" or "O'Reilly," it looks like his critique of the public relations industry is dead-on.
Of course, he has always been right about PR, it's just that his critique has never been validated in quite this way.
Justin Raimondo has a great column about this subject today at antiwar.com. He ends it by suggesting that:
The next time you read something in National Review, or any of the other party-lining pro-war pro-Republican outlets of opinion in which Armstrong and Gallagher appeared, including The Weekly Standard and editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, ask yourself if it doesn't sound like a Pentagon press release – and try to calculate, in dollars and cents, how much it contributes to the war effort. Because there is a strong possibility that your tax dollars are paying for it.
Which reminds me of Chomsky's admonition that anytime you hear something stated as an objective fact, ask yourself if it's true--that is, does the statement comport with what you personally know and/or feel about the statement. Either way, Chomsky says that you should then ask yourself how you or the person making the statement knows if it's true or not. In other words, question everything. Question everyone's motives, whether they're "on your team" (i.e., liberal or conservative) or not. Truth and facts are superior to ideology. Ideology has no value, truth and facts constitute the ultimate value.
By the way, the Chomsky film "Manufacturing Consent" has just recently been released on DVD and it is well worth checking in to. Sign up for Netflix or visit your library for a copy if you have to.
Songs Of '05
Collin Herring-The Other Side Of Kindness
A Texas honk 'n' roll superstar in the making. Highlights of this exquisitely-produced disc: "Back Of Your Mind," "Aphorism," and "Nobody Much Longer." His father Ben Roi plays in the band with him! Sounds like early Wilco, 16 Horsepower, and even Tom Waits in places. Good stuff!
LIES AND THEN MORE LIES
(intended for 1-27-05, posted 1-28-05)
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Congressional District number 18 of Florida was on Washington Journal this morning and she mouthed the Bush Crime Family's talking points up and down the line. What particularly got my goat, though, was her justification of the war as an atonement for/antidote to the inactivity of the Clinton administration, who she said "ignored" terrorism. She cited WTC 93, OKC, and the Cole bombing as evidence of the Clinton administration "ignoring" terrorism.
This of course dovetails perfectly with Bush's inaugural address, in which he claimed the Clinton years were supposedly "years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical" before the fateful "day of fire."
The idea that Clinton sat idly by and did nothing about terrorism is ably refuted by the collection of links found here.
Who really ignored terrorist threats?
Do the words "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S." ring a bell? August 6th PDB? Hello? If by "ignoring" terrorism, you mean "not fighting an immoral and illegal based on false pretenses," then I guess you could accurately say Clinton ignored it.
Mass graves and other happy things
Ros-Lehtinen went on to cite the mass graves found in Iraq as further proof that we're doing the right thing. And of course she knew that she was saying that on this, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, as though Hitler and Saddam were one and the same. Of course, this is hardly a convincing argument. Hitler had already taken Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, etc. and had a signed alliance with Japan when they attacked the U.S. Hussein invaded Kuwait and gassed Kurds at Halabja. Saddam's atrocities are bad, but they hardly live up to those of Hitler.
And the argument that the war in Iraq stopped Saddam before he could become another Hitler is laughable. Halabja took place in 1988, 15 years before the current Iraq war began. The Kuwait invasion took place more than a decade before the current Iraq war. Saddam was under sanctions from 1991 until the start of the Iraq war. Not quite the same story with Hitler, who conquered many more countries, killed many more people, and was stopped much sooner than Saddam.
It's an insult to everyone's intelligence to equate Hitler's atrocities (i.e., Auschwitz) with Saddam's (mass graves, Halabja, Kuwait invasion). But those bloodthirsty red-staters can't resist...they won't rest until all the blood of the infidels is spilled and replaced by the blood of Jesus...
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Josh Rouse has a new album, "Nashville." It's not quite the high that "1972" was, but Josh has a distinctive voice both in his singing and in his writing. He takes a little R&B and a little Morrissey/Smiths and then writes about life with a vague-enough-to-be-universal yet specific-enough-to-be-interesting point of view.
You can hear samples of the tunes at Miles of Music. Buffalo Nickel is back in the Top 10 sellers on MoM this week, by the by. Apparently Mr. Rouse has recently moved to Spain. That's what the press release that came with the album said--it didn't go into specifics. I wonder if he moved there because the Spanish voted out their prime minister who supported the war in Iraq...
Today has been the deadliest day for American troops in Iraq. Thirty-one Marines died in a helicopter crash. They weren't even granted the "privilege" of dying in battle.
Bush continues his rants about freeing the whole world, to wit:
"I firmly planted the flag of liberty for all to see that the United States of
America hears their concerns and believes in their aspirations. And I am excited
by the challenge and am honored to be able to lead our nation in the quest of
this noble goal, which is freeing people in the name of peace."
Bush credits himself with planting the "flag of liberty." His response to the 31 dead Marines?
"But it is the long-term objective that is vital, and that is to spread
We're "spreading" "freedom", dontcha know! Yeah, yeah, he says, too bad those dudes died and all, but hey--FREEDOM! How long is "long-term," I wonder? Bush won't say. New Secretary of Stat(us quo) Rice won't say. Specifically, I mean. They will never commit themselves to a timetable for withdrawal or for the end of the war.
And of course that's because their plan is for the war to be endless. And while we are busy exporting "freedom" to other nations, our own freedoms are being sacrificed . Our money is being thrown away to guarantee other country's "liberty" while our schools are crumbling, prices continue to rise, and wages stagnate and/or fall.
Notice how you and most people you know have a lot of debt? It's because you're paying for someone else's "freedom" while your brothers and sisters and friends and family die in helicopter crashes in Middle Eastern countries. And nothing helps promote family values and the "culture of life" quite like a primary wage-earner being turned into cannon fodder in godforsaken hellholes.
We spend more on incarceration than we do on education. We spend more on annihilation than we do on education.
Stop the war on our citizens and stop the war in Iraq!
Don't Forget The $80 Billion
Eighty billion more? Jesus Christ! At least this article points out that pre-war estimates were in the neighborhood of $50 billion for the cost of the Iraq war. So much for the Iraq oil paying for the occupation. So much for the war getting cheaper and easier as time goes on. McClellan says
"you have to be prepared for the unexpected, and you have to be flexible enough to adapt to circumstances on the ground. And it's important that you give the commanders on the ground the flexibility they need to adapt to changing circumstances. And that's what we will always do. That's how you are able to succeed and complete the mission.''
What is "success"? When is the mission "completed"? How many helicopter loads of soldiers have to die until that day comes? Bush won't tell you. He won't ever define "success" in anything but general, vague terms so that he can't be held accountable later. "Success" is supposedly when Iraqis have "freedom." That could be Feb. 1 or it could be never, the Bushies seem to imply.
Elections in Iraq
One more thing...how come the Iraqis get to have their election on the weekend, when most people don't have to work? Why are ours on weekdays, when people have to work and make special plans to go and do their civic duty?
And thisyear's deficit will break last year's record, which was itself a record, according to USA Today. If a Democrat was doing this, there would be howls of righteous indignation. When a Republican does it, people yawn and go back to sleep.
What a coincidence that the Senate confirms a new Sec. of State who was one of the principal salespeople for the war we're paying for on the deadliest day for troops in Iraq. She got confirmed by a vote of 85-13. That's pathetic on so many levels--only 13 people willing to stand against lies and death, 85 people (including lots of Democrats) willing to endorse someone who, as National Security Director failed to protect our national security.
It reminds me of why Tenet got the Medal of Freedom. It wasn't for being a great CIA chief, it was for taking the fall for Bush, if Bob Woodward is to be believed. After all, Bush wasn't sold on the idea that Iraq had WMD, according to Woodward. Bush only acted against Iraq when Tenet assured him that WMD were a "slam dunk" case against Iraq. Supposedly Bush had his doubts but Tenet pushed him over the edge. Since Tenet never ratted Bush out, he gets a medal. Since Rice didn't and won't rat Bush out, she gets to be Secretary of State.
Nice work if you can get it, I suppose..
Sunday, January 23, 2005
...and by that I mean C-Span 2 also. I watched Kerry explain why he wouldn't be voting to approve Rice for Secretary of State. Then I watched Biden explain why he would be voting for her, simultaneously and perhaps inadvertently revealing why the Democrats have been losing elections at all levels across the country. Here's a transcript of the hearing, but I think these remarks were made after Rice had to leave. At any rate, I don't have time to wade through the transcript for an exact quote, but Biden said something to this effect: "The reason I'm voting to confirm Rice is that a President should get to have his family. And just like getting re-married is a huge act of faith in people and institutions, I'm going to trust my faith rather than my experience regarding Bush that Rice will be different."
Or words to that effect.
But that is the whole problem. Bush is a liar who wants to undo the New Deal and the Great Society. He proved in his first term that he can't be trusted, that he will say anything to get the results he wants. For example, if he wants to invade Iraq, he says they have WMD. They don't. Now, he wants to privatize Social Security in order to enrich his friends/cronies/donors on Wall Street. So he says Social Security will be bankrupt in 2042. It won't, according to the estimates of the Social Security trustees and the Congressional Budget Office.
Biden, he's doing it again! Already! Even as Biden was speaking his hopeful yet willfully ignorant words, the push for SS "reform" was well underway and has been for weeks now. The Democrats (or whoever will speak for the left) are the "opposition" party in typical two-party parlance. So why don't they get on with the business of OPPOSING? Oppose Bush's war on the working class, oppose Bush's war(s) for oil, oppose right-wing judicial nominees, just oppose something, for Christ's sake.
This whole conciliatory tone that Biden was taking, with talk of hope for "bipartisanship" and "reaching out to the minority"--that's loser talk. That's the talk of the people not in power. There is power in "no," Joe Biden. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer stood up, at least this once. Hopefully it will become habitual for them to just automatically oppose whatever a Republican proposes.
Ruling class and Greg Palast
But, as Greg Palast pointed out in another C-Span program, being a member of the ruling class makes it difficult to follow one's principles lest one put oneself in danger of being expelled from it or despised by it. Palast said this in response to a question about why Kerry conceded so readily. He gave a really good talk about how Kerry really got the most votes (because of what the exit polls said), but that Bush had the most votes counted.
And according to Palast, Edwards was none too happy with Kerry's quick and tidy concession (apparently his duty as a member of the ruling class), having promised blacks out on the campaign trail that he and Kerry would make sure that 2004 would be different where black voters were concerned. However, Palast pointed out, a non-white voter has a 900% higher chance of his vote being discarded/not counted than does a white person.
And then Robin Morgan, who I'd never read or heard of before, got up and basically read from her contribution to the book the panel was convened to talk about ("What We Do Now") and commented on the passages after she read them. Her essay was on the separation of church and state, and she had some killer quotes from various framers about religion and whether or not the U.S. is a "Christian nation." A lot of the stuff she mentioned can be found here, at Ms. Magazine's site.
Economic Hit Man
The author of "Confessions of An Economic Hit Man" was on BookTV this evening, and his story is very interesting. I first heard him with Janeane and Sam on the the Majority Report, but I hadn't seen him before. I liked what he said about taking action--he said that when politics comes up at a party, engage in the conversation, talk to people, confront them with the facts, write letters to the editor and do something.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
I didn't get to watch any of the inauguration proceedings today. But even if I hadn't taken my son to the doctor for booster shots, I wouldn't have watched it anyway. Now's the time to start kicking ass, though, because Bush is just getting warmed up.
And it occurs to me that the biggest lesson learned from his father was to have a war and keep it going at election time. Bush Sr. had a war all right, but it ended far too quickly and was a distant memory at election time. It's a foolproof strategy--no incumbent president has ever lost in wartime. So the obvious lesson? Have a war going on during the election!
If it wasn't for this stupid, useless, retarded, illegal and immoral war, Bush wouldn't have won--I mean, he wouldn't have been able to steal just enough votes to avoid street riots. So he's promised us more of the same to set up his Republican successor, to wit:
The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
I'm going to make a prediction--there will be a George W. Bush war going on in 2008, and the Republican nominee will be touted as having been instrumental in its execution and planning. The appeals will be to support our troops and to support the white man who has Bush' stamp of approval. And this war will continue to be validated as a response to "global terror" (read: vengeance for 9/11) and/or to do what Bush said today, to contribute to "the expansion of freedom in all the world."
So there will be a war going on in 2008 unless we all turn so powerfully against it that it makes war unpopular. Let's make the war unpopular!!!!
Always remember, George W. Bush is programmed to say the opposite of what he means. The first sentence in that quote above is to let you know that torture, detainment without charges, curtailment of civil liberties, and so forth will intensify. And the second sentence means that there will be ceaseless wars which will bankrupt the national treasury, cause curtailment (if not elimination) of social spending, and enrich the few at the expense of thousands of lives.
The Hunting Of The President
Kind of like how Kenneth Starr was called the "independent" counsel in the Whitewater investigation. That lets you know that he was a tool of the right-wing. Watched "The Hunting Of The President" today, you know, the movie about the plot to bring Clinton down.
Almost $100 million was spent, and Clinton was never found guilty of one thing. Not one. But that doesn't matter, because he was eviscerated. The Democratic party was eviscerated. The point was never necessarily to convict Clinton, the point was just to diminish him, turn people against him, make him the object of ridicule and scorn and basically invalidate his presidency. Those motherfuckers did a pretty fine job of that.
And now we have Bush. He says his moment of accountability has come and gone, and the American people said they approved of what he's doing. Even though he stole the 2000 election, ignored terrorism, created the largest budget deficits in history by taking the unprecedented step of cutting taxes for the rich during wartime, presided over the first net loss of jobs since Herbert Hoover (who ushered in the Depression), lied us into war, and has no charisma and is a fucking piss-poor public speaker. The American people approved him.
Clinton gets a blow job, right wing says he should hang.
Bush lies about WMD, right wing says he's "protecting us."
Oh,Christ almighty...I'm too tired to type anymore, but "Hunting of The President" is really good. Susan McDougal kicked ass...
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The Passion Of The Rice
You gotta meet the press
and face the nation
issue the standard
of everyone else
and then defend yourself
it never fails
it works for Roger Ailes
Get to work on your alibi
Who could've imagined
planes could be missiles
maybe Richard Clarke
now he's blowin' whistles
Where do you go
after the last talk show
Where do you go
to practice your Mendelssohn
or maybe under oath
to the Kean Commission
And all you have to do
is try not telling lies
Bill Clinton would probably
give you that very advice
It's the Passion of the Rice
the Passion of the Rice
That's the lyrics to a song from my anti-Bush project Left Behind Child. It's a dirge-y, Neil Young-ish thing with a long guitar solo in the middle. I'd post a link to an mp3 or something, but there's no website. I need a website. A blog is nice, but a website would kick ass.
Read the Conceptual Guerilla.
Stop the war.
Get some sleep.
What sound do butterflies make?
The new Goodman County record is really good. I'll have more on that later.
Oh, and one last thing...I didn't know until today that Rush Limbaugh's theme song is "My City Was Gone" by The Pretenders. I knew I always kinda thought the music was half-cool for some reason...
Monday, January 17, 2005
...by A Flock Of Seagulls, everything was great. But now we're doing reconnaissance for a coming invasion? All because Bush thinks that since he wasn't thrown out on his ass, his policies must be right and he doesn't have to be held accountable for anything he does?
What in the hell has human history come to? All this hullabaloo about "democratizing" the Middle East or, in the case of Iran, keeping them out of the "nuclear club." Everyone (and by everyone, I mean mainstream pundits) insists that Iran must never be allowed to get nuclear weapons. And they say that because they want us to believe that Iranians are crazy, bloodthirsty, demonic people who hate our freedom and that Iran will pass out nuclear weapons to "terrorists" like Tic Tacs.
But that's the exact opposite of the reason that we don't want them to have nuclear weapons. We don't want them to have nuclear weapons so that we can push them around and make them give us oil at a reasonable price or whatever else we want. And Israel wants us to help keep them at bay, which would be very difficult to do if they have the bomb.
Which country is the only one ever to have actually used a nuclear bomb against another country? The fucking United States, of course! That's why other countries are so frightened of and intimidated by us (one of the many reasons, anyway). And that's after the firebombing of Tokyo and 67 other Japanese cities (every time I watch The Fog Of War, I get more out of it). We are mean motherfuckers who'll cut your throat, tear out your heart, set your body on fire, cut off your limbs, disembowel you, and cut off your dick and stuff it in your mouth just to show you how badass we are.
So what I'm saying is, the Iranians, the "insurgents," and every other country are telling their people how crazy we are, how bloodthirsty we are, how greedy we are, how Satanic we are. And they're not wrong. They've got plenty of evidence in their favor--Iran 1953, Chile 9/11/73,
and so forth and so on.
They've got just as much dirt on us (if not more) as we do on them. None of us are righteous. And hell, now that I think about it, we're using nuclear weapons right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris Matthews and Larry King and Sean Hannity don't talk about it much if at all, but it's happening. They don't blow up whole cities in one blast, but they are weapons made out of what is basically nuclear waste, and we're blowing them up and scattering pieces of these things all over Iraq.
What We Should Do
What we should do is leave the Middle East the hell alone. Let them be. And I don't mean just not invade or not bomb them, I mean don't disturb them. Treat them as neighbors and friends, not as commodities or "markets" or anything like that. Fuckin' help 'em out. Give 'em money. Send them good things, like food and medicine and advanced technology. Because then they'll go "Man, we don't wanna mess with the U.S., man, they're cool. They gave us these cool computers and now we aren't all so hungry and sick anymore because of the food and medicine. Man, let's just leave them alone, man. Allah be praised!"
But Bush and company want Armageddon, they want the end times, they want to provoke World War IV or V or whatever number the neocons think we're up to now. And we, you and I, have to stop them. I don't know how, I'll be honest with you. But we have to stop this craziness--maybe if we deprogrammed Bush like the guy in "A Clockwork Orange" got deprogrammed. He'd have to watch "Fog of War" and Fahrenheit 9/11" on a loop with his eyelids forcibly held open until his homicidal tendenices melted away. That wouldn't be torture, after all, according to Alberto Gonzales and company...
End The War
But I'm serious. What can we do to end this war and prevent the next one they have planned. I can't remember the story exactly, but supposedly FDR was once approached by a citizen or a citizen's group or something. They told him what they wanted him to do about their issue and he was sympathetic, but felt that the time wasn't right for some reason. So he told them that if they wanted him to do something about it, they would have to make him, by creating the political conditions under which he could address their grievance.
And that's what we've gotta do. Living here in the Deep South it doesn't seem like there's that much that I can do. But I think there are a few things...having a blog and writing letters to the editor is a start. Like Jello Biafra says, "Become the media." That's a starting point at least...
Just remember, Sept. 11 didn't change a goddamn thing, and don't let anyone tell you differently. The rules of logic and diplomacy and rationality still apply. Just because 3,000 people were killed in one day doesn't give us the right to go and kill 100,000 civilians and rattle the saber at everyone else...In this "post-September 11th world" the "equation" hasn't changed, it's exactly the same: (diplomacy + aid) empathy = peace.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
No WMD? No shit, Sherlock. Scott Ritter told us all that a couple years ago. Mike Malloy had an audio montage of Bush administration WMD/war-related quotes that they played with Fleetwood Mac's "Lies" underneath (hear it here--click on "The Mike Malloy Show" then "January 12th"). One quote that really caught my attention was Ari Fleischer (speaking as/for GWB) saying (on 4/10/03) that WMD are/were "what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found." A chronology of the lies that led us to this illegal, immoral war are here at endthewar.org.
Hmmm...If Clinton had invaded a sovereign nation unprovoked because he assured us that we had to invade because of horrible weapons that then turned out not to have been there at all, he would have been impeached, removed, and executed. But GWB, he gets a free pass...
Stop The War
STOP THE WAR! I wish I had the nuts to be a tax resister. If you do, maybe check out this article and this link from the article. Speaking of stopping the war, I guess we need to get some demonstrations going. I always liked the anti-Vietnam chant "Hey Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" Maybe we could do "Hey Hey GWB, how bloodthirsty can you be?" Or "Hey hey GWB, how damn greedy can you be" (I know, "hey" and "GWB" don't rhyme and that's part of what's great about the LBJ chant, but it's all I've got for right now). Or..."Hey Hey Georgie boy, how many nations will you destroy?" I'll keep working on it--let me know if you have something better.
Here's a good and timely commentary from Emma Goldman in 1908 (found in Zinn's new anthology "Voices Of A People's History of The United States"). You can also read more of the speech, called "Patriotism: A Menace To Liberty" here:
Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority on all the others...
We Americans...go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens...Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations. Such is the logic of patriotism...
SONGS OF '05 PT. 3
I have always really liked the idea of Lou Barlow and enjoyed Sebadoh the couple of times I saw them--I liked the albums, but I never loved them (of course, he'll always be immortal for his work in Dinosaur Jr). And I never had much use for Sentridoh and all that. But this new album is really good--it's like a latter-day Nick Drake or a more polished Jonathan Richman. "Mary" is a strong song with great lyrics and his cover of Ratt's "Round 'n' Round" is actually very enjoyable.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
A couple more artists/albums/songs that I dig:
Trembling Blue Stars-The Seven Autumn Flowers:
All Eternal Things
A Beginning Of A Kind
This is achingly beautiful melancholic folk rock. I didn't care for them much before, but this album really impressed me.
We Versus The Shark-Ruin Everything:
You Don't Have To Kick It
Ten Uh Clock Heart Uh Tack
No Flint No Spark
A tour de force of prog-meets-punk tuneage; kind of a cross between Shudder To Think's "Pony Express Record" and Beefheart's "Lick My Decals Off, Baby."
...he's a Rape-ublican, dontcha know! However, even though 'Pubes like Joe Scarborough are making an even-handed call for pay-2-propagandize to at least be investigated and at most totally cease, this practice will not stop. Everyone who criticizes poor Armstrong Williams (I say "poor" because for all the headache this is causing him, he should've bargained for a lot more money) points out that if he had simply disclosed that he was being paid, all would be well--no scandal would've ensued.
What will happen is that unprincipled pundits will continue to take dough from whoever will give it to them to pimp whatever they're required to, except they will make a point of saying who paid them. It will probably work something like this: "For CNN, I'm Robert Novak, and my hateful rants about privatization today were brought to you by the kind folks at the Social Security Administration." And that will be it. The vast majority of people who watch, listen to, or read such statements will not give them a second thought even though such disclaimers are supposed to raise a red flag about the veracity of the content being presented in a given medium.
The disclaimers will be issued, the pimping and whoring will take place and the public will not even take notice. It will become just a bland part of the discourse and sooner than later, the disclaimers will just be a standard, unnoticed thing for a pundit to say. And if a liberal or a Left-Handed Leftist raises any objections about the veracity of a given paid-opinion segment, the pundits can always defend themselves by saying that they disclosed that they were being paid.
So the propaganda will continue, maybe even more honestly and upfront, but it will not have one whit of an effect on the way the public perceives the information. The conservatives have already shown this to be true. Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Carlson, Scarborough, Novak, et. al. are unabashed partisan right-wing Republicans (the admission of which is itself a disclaimer and disclosure) but to the vast majority of the public, they still take what those hacks say to be "the facts," not the work of highly paid and highly partisan people with an agenda to promote which colors their every utterance and which should cause people to take their statements with a block of salt.
Why must a few close-minded individuals continue to make fools of all of us who live in Mississippi and/or the south? The Jackson-George County library system banned "America: The Book" because it had pictures of naked people in it. But the pictures in question are clearly not pornographic--they in no way cause arousal or titillate the reader. They are pictures of wrinkly, stout old people. The pictures are clearly for comic effect.
Thank God, though, that even in my unapologetically red state, they had the good sense to overturn this ban in short order. As Jon Stewart pointed out, the library wasn't even open while the ban was in effect. The fact that a Republican state with a Republican governor and a vile, racist history (but which is also the birthplace of rock 'n' roll, the blues, and country music) would come to its senses after four years of Bush with four more on the way does give me a small measure of comfort.
A very small measure of comfort...
Monday, January 10, 2005
Mahmoud Abbas wins the Palestinian election and says he wants peace with Israel, who are now under a new coalition government. But the right-wingers are still screaming that the Palestinians must "crack down on terror" before they can get their own state. Notice the way that's framed and the wording of it. What these dopes are saying is that because the Palestinians were thrown out of their homes by the Israelis--who now occupy what was previously Palestinian territory and continue to encroach ("settle") on it--and are therefore basically refugees with little to no resources (certainly not enough to take on the Israelis--read that word as "United States"--in a fair fight), they have to stop attacking their occupiers before the U.S. will sit down to really negotiate.
Did Dore Gold say that Israel needs to keep up its portion of the "road map" and stop settlements? Here's how he was quoted in The Globe and Mail:
"Israel will measure any new Palestinian leadership according to its actions, most importantly the requirement to combat terrorism and dismantle its infrastructure," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "We have to give them a chance and see."
No, I guess he didn't. So these nutjobs would have the world, and more importantly, the American public believe that peace in Palestine rests on the shoulders of the poverty-stricken, war-torn Palestinians.
America's Death Squads
Oh well. Typical great column from Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo here. All about the savage murder of an Iraqi civilian by U.S. troops and the slap on the wrist (straight outta "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll") for those involved.
End this war. Let's do it.
Friday, January 07, 2005
So I'm watching "Washington Journal" this morning and they have Heather Mac Donald from the Manhattan Institute on. She is a neoconservative apologist, though it takes a few callers to point that out. C-Span, in its stenographic, completely objective way (and it now strikes me that "complete objectivity" is really ignorance--one can only be "completely objective" if one has no knowledge of good and evil, of actions and consequences, of history, and so forth; so to ask a reporter or journalist to be completely objective is to ask them to be as innocent as a child, to pretend they don't know anything and to dutifully and unquestioningly scribble down whatever anyone tells them just because that's what was said), never challenged her and never ID'ed her for what she truly was. Since C-Span is objective, I think a lot of people assume that their guests are objective.
Anyway, this woman answered a caller (who said she was lying about the torture not being ordered from the top and who said he'd been in contact with Abu Ghraib's Janice Karpinski) by offering this comforting scenario (I don't have a transcript, so this will be the gist). In contrasting how the U.S. treats prisoners vs. how al Qaeda treats prisoners, she pointed out that they cut off heads, while we offer McDonald's Filets-o-Fish (for real, apparently) to these "terrorist" yahoos. Who's better then, is her implication, us with our filets or them with their decapitation?
Which would be a good point if she wasn't employing the logical fallacy of comparing apples to oranges. She compares our best behavior to their worst behavior. That doesn't compute, especially when our behavior involved prisoners being killed at Abu Ghraib, not being given Filet-o-Fish sandwiches.
This is also what Justin Raimondo is getting at in his antiwar.com column today. The neocons want to play semantic games, i.e., they say "define abuse." They want to know if "abuse" is yelling at a detainee or if it's sleep deprivation or if it's keeping them from going to the bathroom, expecting that critics will back down and say, "well, I guess that's not exactly 'abuse'--it's unpleasant and aggressive, but not really 'abuse.'"
That's what they want us to say, and they want to get us bogged down in an argument over whether yelling is abuse. Notice they don't ask whether or not hooking up electrodes is abuse, or whether putting naked people in piles is abuse, or whether threatening them with dogs is abuse, or whether killing them is abuse. There's one simple answer to this question that every neocon critic needs to give--if it's abuse when done to one of ours, then it's abuse when done to one of theirs.
Oh no, they'll scream--that's moral equivalence! We don't target civilians--they can't wait to kill civilians--that's what Ms. Mac Donald said! She said that is all they think about, it's their only goal in life, killing civilians. Goddamn it, these vile neocons are good at demonization!
Well, here's moral equivalence for ya--as a result of our actions, as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died. Even if you assume that's wildly inaccurate and concede to only a tenth of that figure, that's still more of their people that we have killed than they have killed of ours. For a long while, people were fond of hollering "but they murdered 3,000 innocent civilians on 9/11!" ARE WE FUCKING EVEN YET? Frankly, who's smarter and more efficient--they sacrificed 19 to kill 3,000 for what was the figure, $50 K or $500 K? We've sacrificed over 1,300 (that's just the dead, not counting the thousands more wounded) to kill maybe 100,000 for how much now, $200 billion? Who the fuck is laughing now? We've killed more of their citizens, sure, but we spent a lot more money to do it and lost a lot more of our fathers, mothers, sons and daughters to do it! The "terrorists" are probably thinking of that schoolyard taunt where you beat someone up with their own hands "America, why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself! Why won't you stop hitting yourself?"
So suck on that! Americans have no morality monopoly. We gave that shit up long ago. Hell, we've never been moral--in the original constitution, blacks were property and counted as 3/5 of a person, women couldn't vote, poor whites couldn't vote, we slaughtered the Indians, and so forth and so on. Only the worst kind of sick and dangerous religious zealot could paper over those and hundreds of other instances to say that America was conceived in some kind of unimpeachable righteousness and that's the banner that George W. Bush carries us forth under today. But there are a hell of a lot of sick, dangerous, religious zealots out there, and right now they control us all...
We should all pray for not only this country, but for the whole world...because in 50 years, the stuff these religious and government wackos are saying will seem like clear statements of intent to undermine American society and people in the future will wonder why we didn't see it coming when it was as plain as the noses on our faces...
I am going to try something different this year...I'm going to try to keep a running list of the songs that tickle my fancy. Some I'll comment on, others I won't. That doesn't really say anything about the quality of the music one way or another--if I comment, it's only because I could think of something to say. So here's the first installment:
Rainstick Orchestra-The Floating Glass Key In The Sky: Trick, Electric Counterpoint Fast
Dexateens-Red Dust Rising: Pine Belt Blues, Bitter Scene, Pistol Totin’ Man, Devoted To Lonesome [these guys kick ass and they come from right up the road in Tuscaloosa, AL--strange that their website doesn't mention their great new record. It's more "together" than the first one, but it still rocks loose and beautiful]
The Coke Dares-Here We Go With...: Disappearing Up The Wizard’s Sleeve, Black Beauties [short tunes-32 songs in 32 minutes--like if the Minutemen played power chords]
Brice-Cabin Capers: True Love [unpolished (in a good way) earnest pop rock]
Hexstatic-Master-View: Distorted Minds, Extra Life, Chase Me, Pulse [I have already paid money to get this--that's the highest praise I can give something like this because I can copy the one from our station any time I care to, but this thing is awesome--the DVD is brilliant and can be appreciated by toddlers and stoners alike]
Low-The Great Destroyer: Just Stand Back, Broadway (So Many People) [more raucous than I remember them, but just as good if not better than their other stuff]
Thursday, January 06, 2005
So Conyers' Challenge was short-lived and "quickly disposed of" in the dismissive language of the Associated Press. It was important to do it anyway, to show the Repukes, the press, the Dems, and everybody that some things are worth fighting for just on principle.
Sure, the Repubes used Kerry's concession against him, as they have all along, and as they did against Gore in 2000 (note to future Democrats-don't fucking concede--ever again!). They want to make it out like standing up for something important just makes you a "sore loserman" but what Dems and liberals need to remember is that sticks and stones may break their bones, but standing up the fascist right can only help us. So good for Boxer and Tubbs-Jones and Conyers and all the rest who spoke but I didn't get to see because I was reading this tripe from the "liberal media" over the airwaves (like every other radio schmo with an AP wire) at noon today:
The White House is accusing Democrats of engaging in "conspiracy theories." Democrats have succeeded in delaying today's certification of the Electoral College count in the presidential race. It will be held up for a couple of hours, as lawmakers debate alleged vote problems in Ohio.
That's the story in its entirety. To me, it perfectly encapsulates the problem with the American media--by the way, I didn't read the first sentence on the air.
Here's How The Shit Is Fucked Up
Notice that the story quotes the White House but no one else. There is no "fair-and-balancing" quote from a Democrat--maybe they could've talked to Conyers or Boxer or Tubbs-Jones and put in a blurb from one of them. How about if the story had read this way: The White House is accusing Democrats of engaging in "conspiracy theories," but a Democratic senator says she is seeking "electoral justice." That new bit is from Boxer's website and was almost certainly sent out to major news orgs as a press release--probably more or less around the same time some Bushite spokesmen was called Democrats "conspiracy theorists."
That way, the story would have a yin and a yang. Repubes say it's a "conspiracy theory" while Dems say it's a lack of "electoral justice." A statement like my altered one would truly allow the reader to decide who's right and who's wrong by presenting both sides rather than just repeating a snarky White House statement.
And that's part of the problem that people like McChesney and Matt Miller bring up--the press as stenographer. The White House said it, so they have to write it down and publish it. Which might be fine if the White House stayed doped up on truth serum, but no White House does that. That's why they teach you in journalism classes that you have to have more than one source. Because there are always at least two sides to a story. The AP just gave one.
The whole tone of the story is dismissive, saying that Conyers' Challenge was merely "delaying today's certification" and merely "held up for a couple of hours" the foregone conclusion. Did the Associated Press know for sure that Ohio's electoral votes would not be successfully challenged? Are they clairvoyant? Is the AP able to see the future? Were they given the final result by Diebold and ES&S? Or by the Lord Jesus himself? Now granted, the challenge had little to no chance of succeeding in overturning the results, but that doesn't mean that it was impossible.
The Second Story
That first story came down the wire at 12:51 p.m. EST. This second story came down at 3:56 p.m. EST. Here's the second story:
Congress is quickly disposing of a challenge by some Democrats who were unhappy about the way the election was conducted in Ohio. The protestors invoked the rule requiring the official counting of the electoral votes to stop long enough for a debate on their complaints. But the Senate has already finished the debate and voted to reject the protest.
Again, dismissive language--"disposing of," "the protestors," and "their complaints." The first sentence is particularly odious, as though the AP were saying "All is well, corporate America! Fear not, for the Republican Congress hath disposed of the wicked Democrat's unseemly challenge and hath smitten them mightily!" Like the half of the country that voted for Kerry is reassured somehow by that "quick disposal."
And then there's the description of Democrats as merely "unhappy." Ah poor Dems! Are you feeling down today? Turn that frown upside down! C'mon, all is well in the land, for King George hath ascended once more to his rightful throne..."Unhappy?" That's the best adjective they could come up with? How about this more neutral sentence instead of the AP's loaded one: "Congress is nearing the end of a discussion about a challenge brought by Democrats who say Ohio's conduct of the election was problematic."
And the "protestors" the story refers to? There are less loaded yet accurately descriptive words that could have been used here: "congresspeople," "Democrats," "legislators," etc. And the "congresspeople" didn't bring forth mere "complaints," they brought forth "objections" or "exceptions," perhaps. "Complaints" makes the people the word is attached to sound whiny, while "objections" sounds more reasoned and professional.
But that's our kickass "liberal" media at work, always ready to suck up to the Democrats and the liberals...Oh shit is this country in trouble...
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
To see whether the Democrats will step up or puss out. It ain't gonna make Kerry president, but it will tarnish Bush's much-ballyhooed mandate. As Randi Rhodes pointed out this afternoon, the best possible outcome of Conyers' Challenge will result in the President being determined by the House Of Representatives. So in 2000, he was appointed by the Supreme Court and in 2004 he was "elected" by the House of Representatives. Thom Hartmann lays out how it all works in this excellent article:
Electors have already met in the various states to vote, but that vote will not be opened until Thursday, January 6th. If Conyers' protest is matched by the protest of at least one single senator, then the House and Senate retire to their respective chambers for a maximum of two hours to debate the legitimacy of the Ohio (and, possibly, other) electoral slates. After two hours, with a maximum of 5 minutes for any member to speak, a vote is taken. If both the House and the Senate vote by majority to sustain the challenge, then the presidential vote goes to the House of Representatives, where each state has a single vote.
So the House only gets to vote on the matter if majorities in both houses agree to sustain the challenge--which they probably won't do since they're both controlled by Republicans. But at least the evidence will get an airing and the story will be so big that the mainstream media cannot ignore it. But then again, they might ignore it by covering it--just give it a few lines or a couple minutes and then move on to the regularly scheduled broadcast of "Reforming By Deformity--Tax Codes, Social Security, and Torts."
Not That It Matters...
But whatever became of the issue of whether or not Bush properly served out his time in the National Guard?
I was thinking of a couple other stories along these lines that were a big splash at one time but now are completely dropped, but I forgot them between the time I thought of them and now, when I'm typing. Oh well...
Oh, one other thing--let's get the hell out of Iraq!! It was a bad idea to do it in the first place, now it's just a death trap for everyone involved.
Oh yeah, Gonzales' confirmation will be on C-Span tomorrow also...whew--a busy news day.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Oh, I only say "crappy" because of the "re-election" of George W. Bush. Today is the day of Jesse Jackson's "Count Every Vote" rally in Columbus Ohio. I haven't had a chance to read much today, so let's go together to "Ohio Election Fraud," a blog about the vote situation in Ohio, and this story from the Columbus Post.
OK, so not much about how it went. I guess we'll know tomorrow what the results were--but only if you read Buzzflash or Democratic Underground or maybe this spot.
That damn tsunami is taking all the juice out of this election story. Can't the American media effectively cover more than one big story at once? We were told every gory detail of Scott Peterson's case over and over again in various media outlets, but this election thing--nope, can't spare a column inch.
It's like Matt Miller asked in his recent column "Whose Agenda Is It Anyway" (interesting note--this column is dated 12-8-04 on Miller's website and appeared in my local paper just today):
Public life is like any bulletin board (or a front page) of finite size. When some things are chosen for that bulletin board, others are by definition crowded out. So, "hard news" (like bombs in Iraq) aside, a citizen should always ask when he plucks his newspaper off the driveway in the morning: "Why are we discussing what we are discussing?"
Hmmm...maybe because Jesse Jackson and John Conyers are trying to bring up disconcerting questions about the election in which the media basically forced John Kerry to concede (he shouldn't have, but I can't say that I would have done anything differently were I in his situation) prematurely. So it's a good thing for the press that there was a horrific disaster in Asia--and to be sure, it's a very important story--so there doesn't have to be any real coverage of our own possibly stolen election. Which is in itself a hugely important story.
The Media Forced Him?
Well of course "the media" didn't put a gun to Kerry's head and make him concede. But reading through the "Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader," which I got from my pals for Christmas, it occurred to me that the national television networks should not "call" states for one candidate or the other, especially not on election night.
We don't have to know who won the night of the election. Most states don't finalize and certify their vote counts until days or weeks after an actual election, so why are TV networks prematurely usurping the states' (by which I mean "the people's" power?
It's a bad idea. Instead of "calling" an election, they could just report the preliminary percentages they receive, i.e., "NBC News reports that exit polls from Ohio show candidate X with 5% of the vote and candidate Y with 4%." The operative phrase from the last two elections is "too close to call." Why the hell are they even trying to "call" an election at all? They should just wait until the states count their votes and then we can find out who won.
What's Up With Strokin'?
My band played a New Year's Eve party at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center on Friday, and we were pressured into faking the Clarence Carter tune "Strokin'." We'd never played it before and in fact, we had to get an audience member to sing with us--he did quite a good job, by the way.
At any rate, we announced that we were going to play it after I suggested a chord progression to the group that I thought was close enough. So we start playing 3 chords over and over again (E-D-A, kinda like "Gloria" or "Let It All Hang Out") with a funky beat behind it.
Well, it had the desired effect because a bunch of people started grinding to the music. But what struck me about it was that we didn't even really (and still don't) know the song. We were just playing some simple chords over a funky beat. Which is kind of what we do with our original tunes, but they don't necessarily inspire people to start grinding and losing their minds.
I understand that people like "Strokin'" and there is sort of a predictable, prepared reaction that people have to it, but why is that? If we had played the exact same chord progression with the exact same beat, with lyrics just as suggestive and horny, would people have reacted the same way? I don't think so.
Because as I say, our originals are fairly simple affairs--our lyrics aren't really salacious, but I don't think suggestiveness has anything to do with a crowd's reaction to a song (see "Brown-Eyed Girl" or "Mustang Sally"). We play three or four chords in various sequences over danceable beats (as do lots of bands), but they don't necessarily create such a reaction. I mean, people enjoy the songs, but they don't dry hump each other.
Is It The Beat?
So I'm wondering, what is it about that stupid song that gets that reaction? I think I've ruled out the beat, the chords, the type of lyrics--pretty much everything having to do with the makeup of a song. So what is it? I mean, I wonder the same thing about "Brown-Eyed Girl" and "Mustang Sally" too, but the thing is, we actually know those songs. We didn't really know "Strokin'," but people reacted to it like it was the sexiest, funkiest thing they'd ever heard.
Calling Just One Senator
Will a Senator stand with John Conyers or will we relive the first scene in "Fahrenheit 9/11" all over again? Let's WATCH C-SPAN on Jan. 6 and find out!!