Thursday, March 11, 2004

Looks Like We Will Soon Have "The O'Franken Factor"

Air America Radio to start in NYC, LA, and Chicago.


Part of an exchange between Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Aristide:

AMY GOODMAN: President Aristide, Vice President Dick Cheney said you wore out your welcome in Haiti. It's time for you to go. He also said -- can I get your response to that?

PRESIDENT ARISTIDE: How can someone, after the kind of elections they had, now talk like that regarding Haiti where you had fair, democratic elections regarding the elected president. I think someone can have power, but that does not mean, we cannot see the truth and say the truth.

Time for a Colonic of the Mind

Fish. Barrel. Boom. That's the title of the latest William Rivers Pitt column, which takes the words of various right-wingnuts and turns those very words back on them. When these idiots and their apologists and enablers whine about so-called "liberal hate speech" or about how corrupt our nation is, here's some convenient ammunition. I've found that wingnuts I've encountered tend to become quite silent when confronted with the vitriol of their own leaders.

Update: Magpie at Pacific Views provides a cogent reminder of Newt Gingrich's vocabulary suggestions for his party members to use against Democrats. Pot. Kettle. Black.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Problem With Culture Wars

You have no idea of who or what will crawl out of the woodwork. Pacific Views quotes a James Carroll Op-Ed piece which describes the consequences of Otto von Bismarck's decision to wage a "kulturkampf" to shore up his own political base at a time of economic turmoil. Indeed it was interesting to learn that the terms "culture war" and "anti-semitism" have their origins in 1870s Germany, when Chancellor von Bismarck was in the midst of mobilizing the right-wing authoritarians of his day. Also interesting was that the original targeted scapegoats, Catholics, did not remain scapegoats for long: within a few years of starting the "kulturkampf" the Jews became the prime target of the right-wingers. The forces unleashed that decade ended up setting the necessary cultural and political conditions for what would transpire in the 1920s through 1940s in Germany, and ultimately the world.

Abstinence Crusade Ineffective in Preventing Spread of STDs

Another "brilliant" wingnut social engineering crusade fails. Note that the same effort has had no effect on preventing teen pregnancies.

Under US law, abstinence programmes risk losing federal funding if they stray into the realm of sex education. Church-based abstinence programmes are openly hostile to condoms and preach that they do not guard against disease.

"Teens who pledge are less likely to get tested for STDs, are less likely to see a doctor if they are worried about STDs, and also less likely to know that they have an STD," said Dr Bruckner.

Those teenagers, because they were less likely to seek treatment, could also more readily spread sexually transmitted infections to other people, she added.

Look, the fascists on the Christian right are generally hostile towards sex. Always have been. Their approach is to tell the kids sex is sinful and it's best not to talk about such matters as birth control methods and so forth. Unfortunately, they're operating against the basic human biological make-up. Equally unfortunately, the kids who get suckered by these fanatical fools are ill-prepared for the consequences associated with sexual behavior. Sex is wonderful, but to really enjoy it and to be safe, teens need to know what's available for birth control, what the STD risks are, what the symptoms are of various STDs, and the importance of getting tested periodically if one is sexually active.

Flip-flops, Broken Promises, Waffles...

It's Compassionate Conservatism, George W. Bush Style.

That Bu$hCo would try to make any hay on Kerry's alleged flip-flops is absolutely hillarious once we consider that Dubya has managed to serve up more waffles than an IHOP during the morning breakfast rush and more flip-flops than Wal-mart's shoe department during the dog days of summer.

Hypocrisy: You're Soaking In It.

Bush Invited Fundraisers As Overnight Guests.

I wonder how these people can look themselves in the mirror.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

A Fellow Methodist Says a Mouthful

George Bush and the rise of Christian Fascism

My guess is that mainstream mainline pastors and church-goers have the 411 on what the Bushies' "Christianity" is all about. "Christian Reconstructionism" or "Dominion Theology" as it is sometimes called is one of the most poisonous strains of the faith that I have seen in my lifetime. From what I've read from various sources, I see it is little different from the more extreme Islamic sects in terms of the political and psychological make-up of its followers.

Supporting the Troops, Haliburton Style

Event Source, a subcontractor for Haliburton, will soon stop serving hot meals to soldiers. Why? Haliburton has failed to pay them. Is it just my imagination or isn't making sure soldiers are adequately fed supposed to be a given?

A Musical Tangent

Got a couple cds in the mail in recent weeks and have one more on the way. I've become quite an Arthur Doyle fan and managed to score a sax-drum duo album credited to Doyle and free jazz drumming legend Sunny Murray titled Dawn of a New Vibration. Sunny's drum style strikes me as heavy on the cymbals, which actually matches Arthur's own blistering style on the sax. The music is in spots incindiary, whimsical, and tranquil, drawing from and distilling numerous musical traditions (including r&b and gospel as well as the outer edges of free jazz that made these men so great). Think of an edgier Albert Ayler, and you have some idea of what you might be in for. Makes for an enjoyable listen that fits nicely in a tradition of sax-drum duos going back to John Coltrane & Rashied Ali's classic Interstellar Space. Doyle and Murray have long been neglected artists, and it is nice to see them having something of a renaissance as they enter the twilight of their respective careers.

Also scored Giuseppi Logan's first album The Giuseppi Logan Quartet, which was an early release for the legendary ESP-Disk label. Logan is one of those shadowing cats that no one seems to know much about. I gather from the tidbits available that he was classically trained and was able to play a multitude of instruments (on this album tenor and alto sax, flute, Pakistani oboe, bass clarinet), and may or may not have suffered from some psychological disturbances. Sunny Murray's take is that Logan went into an emotional tailspin after his wife left him, taking his twelve-year old son with her. Presumably he died in the late 1970s destitute, though it's hard to say -- bassist Henry Grimes was widely believed to be dead and turned out to be perfectly alive and well (and gigging quite a bit). In any event Logan's work is certainly eccentric. The quartet album is interesting for two tracks in particular - "Tabla Suite" (Milford Graves plays the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument) and "Bleeka Partita". These tracks give his band plenty of space to solo, and Logan seems to shine as well. The other tracks tend to get a bit tedious. Logan's only other solo album More is a more coherent statement (with mostly the same line-up in place), and I generally find it the better of his two albums. The cats all seem more comfortable with each other and familiar with each others' styles, hence the tedium and tentativeness of parts of the first album are largely missing. Too bad Logan didn't get a chance to record more. His work was certainly intriguing.

Finally, some classic Jackie McLean (New and Old Gospel) rounds out the recent acquisitions. This one matches Jackie Mac with Ornette Coleman. Although Ornette's primary instrument is the sax, he plays exclusively on trumpet for this album (an instrument he was able to pick up fairly quickly) and nicely complements Jackie's sax work. The first track, "Lifeline" is a Jackie Mac tune that is a meditation on the life cycle, and has a sort of dark feel to it. The remaining two tracks are Ornette compositions that are more celebratory, drawing from gospel and blues. Both Jackie and Ornette had a tendency to record fairly experimental albums that were also pleasant to listen to, and this album is no exception. Blue Note had some great artists during the 1960s.

Bush Does Indeed Create Jobs...For the Government

All of February's job increase was on the public sector side. Too bad those new private sector jobs are nowhere to be found.

Spinning Opinion Poll Results

Josh Marshall has done a laudible job of reporting recent opinion polls matching up Kerry, Bush, and sometimes Nader, as well as showing media bias in action. We've got a long way to go between now and the first Tuesday in November, but it's looking up.

This Week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots Pegs The Dubya Campaign Strategy:

The Bush administration appear to have a cunning plan for this year's election. First they're going to scare the shit out of you, then they're going to tell you they're the only people that can keep you safe. I guess they realized this tactic works pretty well for wife-beaters, so it's a good fit for the Republican party.

Pretty much captures what prevails for the GOP mentality these days.

Of course, the weekly conservative idiots list is usually worth a read.