Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Plum Scarifyin'!

Make-Up Wiz Tom Savini (Friday The 13th, Dawn Of The Dead, From Dusk Til Dawn) Can NOT Come Close To This Level Of Scary Theatrics.

It's Halloween night.

The daughter is out in her Hayden Pannetierre/Heroes cheerleader costume, replete with fake scars, some “blood” smears, and even a busted “rib” protruding from a rip in the uniform. My fearsome beauty.

Saw a truly fearsome beauty on the 4 Train today, too. A five-foot-eight, Latina and perfect Vampirella look-alike. Had the black leather boots, the red, deep-gorge leotard, upper arm-rings and the dead-on demure white collar. Even twin slim trails of fake blood trailing from either side of her mouth down her swan-like neck. I was head-buried in a copy of GQ when I heard the dude next to me mutter “Hol-eeeeee shit.” Looked up and saw the on-her-way-to-a-party Vampi, took her all in, and I (thinking I was using my “inside” voice) audibly said “Got-damn.” Vampi looked over and I said, trying to save face a bit, “You nailed it. You nailed it.”

“Thank you.” she demurred.

“Make it yourself?”


The “Holy shit” guy next to me goes, “And she sews, too?” He shook his head ruefully and then looked away as if looking over a distant hill. “God, just kill my ass.”

She laughed, I laughed, everybody at our section of the train car laughed. And homegirl was frighteningly beautiful. She was “Vampi” in every way the real Vampi was. Lord.

Dude gets on at Union Square with his date. She's dressed as a spider lady with webs in her hair, spiders on her jacket, and creepy spider rings on her fingers. Dude was in a pinstriped suit, tie, and a pig's snout and matching piggy ears. Sits across from me.

“Capitalist or chauvinist?”, I asked.

“Could go either way, tonight.”, he snorted.

More laughter on the train.

But I have to thank a Group News Blog reader Rosali, for providing us all with a TRUE scare—namely the picture at the top of this post. The creepy, “The Hills Have Eyes” lookin' nut-job in the center of the trio is one Rudolph W. (for What-the-fuck-are-you-wearing?) Giuliani. It's an exceptionally rare snap of him from one of his most stupidly infamous moments as a U.S. attorney. In previous Giuliani posts, I've cited the goofball moment the pic captures. Giuliani, and then NY Senator Alphonse D'Amato (at right) and Judge Benjamin Baer (at left—dressed as...JOSPEHINE THE PLUMBER?) dolled up in “undercover” gear for a buy-and-bust sting operation to show how easy it was to buy crack in new York at the time. Now, one would be inclined to say that Rudy and company had already hit a DEA evidence locker and sampled the goods to have had the nerve to put on these ridiculous get-ups, but thanks to Rosali, the way is pointed to some fun commentary on it:

“Wearing a Hell's Angels black leather vest with patches that read "Dirty Thirty" and "Filthy Few," the future mayor purchased two vials for $20. Apparently, New York crack dealers were sampling their own product. Giuliani's casual-Friday trousers and gold belt buckle make him look more like a man who wants to sell homeowners insurance than a drug addict. And the post-cataract-surgery glasses aren't very menacing, either.”

It's easy to find pics of ol' razor lips all dragged-out in sequins and Dame Edna gear. He wants people to see the over-the-top ridiculous images of him. But most pictorial evidence of this little bed-shit of a publicity stunt has been pretty much flushed down the memory hole. You can't find the old footage of the day's events anymore...and stills were impossible to come by for quite a while. It was an embarassment for the venomous little martinet. We clowned him on it in town—BIG TIME. But in spite of his best efforts to wish this bit of costumed stupid away, here it is again, and here it shall remain—until I incorporate it into a fine Rudy video you'll soon be seeing. (Insert pig-man's “snort” here.)

And ironically, as Halloween's fog and apparitions swirl about us, Rudy's seeing a few “haints” dancing in the tree shadows as well. His recent ad about the perils of “socialized medicine” where he self-servingly kvetched about his own battle with prostate cancer and how were he in Europe his survival odds would have been less than here (would that it were so—I'd gladly pay for him to do the empirical testing of the theory) got eviscerated so fast, it woke up in a bathtub full of ice with an ugly belly scar, goin' “Wha hoppen?”:

“I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago. My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States: 82 percent. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England: only 44 percent under socialized medicine.”

Giuliani’s ad is full of misleading right-wing claims that overhype the broken U.S. health care system. A look at his “facts”:

Giuliani cites inaccurate statistics. While the rate for men with prostate cancer is slightly higher in the United States, the five-year survival rate in England is actually 74.4 percent according to the Office of National Statistics in Britain.

Giuliani relies on unsourced figures from a right-wing think tank. Giuliani’s campaign confirmed that it obtained its faulty numbers from an article entitled “The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care” in the right-wing quarterly magazine City Journal, which is an arm of the conservative Manhattan Institute. As MSNBC notes, the author of the “Ugly Truth” article provided no sources for his “facts.” The Manhattan Institute receives funding from multiple pharmaceutical companies.

Giuliani uses a weak measurement of comparison. Cancer experts note that mortality rates, which “show the number of people who actually die from the disease,” may be better measurements than five-year survival rates. Under this comparison, the two countries are even closer: “Age-standardized prostate cancer mortality rates are 15.4 per 100,000 people in the United Kingdom and 12.0 per 100,000 in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.”

The New York Times joined in on the rusty butter knife guting of the bullshit ad as well, leaving Sun King Rudy's lying satellites around him to mewl when grilled about whether they'd continue with the lying about the issue, “Yes. We will.”

Somewhere, my buddy in the pig snout snorts out a laugh again.

And to make matters worse, the talkative Joe Biden chucked a cynaide-dipped shuriken at The Rudester in the Democratic debate the other night. Right at Rudy's pasty nads.

“And the irony is, Rudy Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency, is here talking about any of the people here. Rudy Giuliani... I mean, think about it! Rudy Giuliani. There's only three things he mentions in a sentence -- a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There's nothing else! There's nothing else! And I mean this sincerely.”

It was a pretty vicious laugh line—and it wounded Rudy badly. You know it did, because Biden isn't even a contender, and Rudy couldn't ignore the jagged-shoveled dig . His communication director responded with a statement that had all the humor of a mass grave being found in the backyard of an orphanage, and then Rudy tried to quip his way out of it with lame-ass plagiarism jokes that Johnny Carson rejected in '87. He came off looking like the poor clown standing on the playground after a snap-master has torn his face off with a brutal line as everybody's still going “Oooooooooooohhhhhh!”—and he sweats, stammers and can only go, “Well...well, your mama!

As we used to also say on the playground after such a weak comeback, “Ah-Doyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

Look at that lame-fuck tool in the center of that above pic one more time.

That's the GOP frontrunner. That's who Chris Matthews is gleefully “South Park” ball-washing every damned day.

Yeah, that was a chill that just went up your spine, people. Happy Halloween!

You've done better costumes than the pictured last-minute, hamper-raid abomination. I know you have.

So out with it! Tell us about your best Halloween costume/costume story. It's gotta be better than getting clowned as a half-assed Josephine the Plumber, a dime-store Lt. Hunter of Hill Street Blues, and a Cinderfella-era Jerry Lewis/Eric Von Zipper mash-up. It's just gotta!
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Monster Mash

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FLASH!: VP Dick Cheney Hunts At Gun Club Where Dixie Flag Is Proudly Displayed

“Yawn!” So Dick Cheney likes to cool his gout-filled heels at a hunting club where his good ol' boy buddies (in New York State, that is!) think it's cool to fly the flag of the Shitforbrains-eracy Confederacy?

Vice President Dick Cheney is embroiled in yet another hunting-related controversy.

The vice president made a daylong hunting trip on Monday to the Clove Valley Rod and Gun Club, an exclusive mountainside establishment on 4,000 acres in Union Vale, N.Y., about 15 miles east of Poughkeepsie, in Dutchess County. Only members and their guests may hunt on the property; an annual membership is said to cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Reporters who covered Mr. Cheney’s visit on Monday — including Fernanda Santos of The Times — were not permitted to enter the grounds of the hunting estate. But at least one eagle-eyed photographer captured images of a Confederate battle flag — about 3 feet by 5 feet in dimension — hanging in plain view in a garage attached to the club’s headquarters. The Daily News captured images of the flag.


In a brief interview this morning, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney told us that neither the vice president nor anyone in his entourage had seen the flag.

“Until this issue was raised by the press last night, no one in our office was aware there was such a flag,” said the spokeswoman, Megan M. Mitchell. “The vice president did not see a flag, nor did anyone on his staff traveling with him in New York.”

Asked whether Mr. Cheney had an opinion about the flag’s being displayed, Ms. Mitchell replied, “Bottom line, he didn’t see the flag.”

What in the fuck is everyone so upset about here? That Cheney gets his shriveled rocks off on playing tough-guy by hanging with a bunch of Deliverance wanna-bes with a barely-concealed “We hatez n*ggers” fetish? Folks...that's his peeps.

The last folks who give an amoeba's turd about him.

That's the BASE!

Frankly, I was surprised by how quickly they managed to purge the garage of the massive vintage noose and charred-cross collection normally stored in there.

Must've sent the ol' shreddin' truck up there the day before. The drunken, face-blastin' little scamp!

(And if you don't get the “Dreadlocked Ice-T” reference, my friends...get thee to your late-nite, bad movie cable channel, or Netflix trash queue for this ghastly gem.)—LowerManhattanite
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Karen Hughes Resigns

Karen Hughes, one of President Bush’s longest-serving advisers, is stepping down from her position at the State Department as Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Before taking the job at State, Hughes was a Counselor to the President and played an integral role in his 2000 campaign. --
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Values Voters!

Max Blumenthal cracks me up. He has, what we used to refer to as "Balls".

Oh, and Presidential Wannabee Huckabee is a Fuckabee dingbat asshole.
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Fourteen Laterals!

The Miracle in Mississippi

From the Group News Blog Sports Desk, this is Jesse Wendel with a sideways slanted story

Saturday, October 2, 2007 -- Jackson, Mississippi. Last play of the Southern College Athletic Conference title game between Millsaps College and Trinity University.

Play begins with two seconds remaining in the game, ball on Trinity's own 39 yard line. On a 16 pass play, 14 of them laterals, the "Miracle in Mississipi", Trinity passes, laterals, laterals, laterals, laterals, laterals, laterals, laterals, fakes a lateral, laterals, passes, laterals, laterals, laterals, passes, laterals, laterals, and laterals taking the football 61 yards for the game winning touchdown although certainly the total yards the football actually covered was closer to a a quarter-mile. At least, I think that's what happens.

You are cheerfully invited to put up your own call in comments. I do not promise to post a correction. I don't promise we'll ever get this right. Ever. Journalistic excellence? Ha! We're throwing it up in the air and slightly behind us on this story.

Division III College Ball in Texas produces some great games, but I've NEVER seen anything like this. Trinity wins 28-24 and wins the Championship -- how else -- on the lateral.

And the moral of this improbable 16 pass - 14 lateral Championship Win is: If the Ref ain't whistled the ball dead, throw it to someone; you just might win if you don't panic and nobody drops the ball.

From Jackson, Mississippi, this has been a GNB Sports Desk report. Good day.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bound For Whoring

“Lame, Corporate Freeze-Out!”

Serendipity is indeed a strange bird.

Last night, I found myself up late watching perhaps my favorite TV channel—Turner Classic Movies, and their theme (which continues into today) is biopics of famed musicians. Last night they screened 1976's grossly unsung (at least nowadays) “Bound For Glory”—a phenomenally skillful depiction of the life of the late, great American songwriter/musician Woody Guthrie. Now, I was familiar with Guthrie's life —its up and downs, and the amazing art he created therein, but seeing the movie, one of the most beautifully shot films I've ever seen (thanks to the golden-eyed cinematographer Haskell Wexler), depicting dust-bowl America as a wonder of desolation, hopeful sunrises and bleary-eyed sunsets.

Guthrie's story itself was something that kept me thinking much of the night, too. David Carradine played Guthrie with a deft, naturalistic ease—conflicted and determined, but most of all, as a man of rich levels of empathy for his fellow man, and the state of world in general. His (and history's) Guthrie traveled with (via the rails along with the hoboes), and documented the travails of the millions of Americans left adrift in the economic hell that befell the Wsetern U.S. with the Dust Bowl and the latter stages of The Great Depression. He documented these American “voyages” through his songs—songs celebrating the American ideal that was not being put into practice by too many in power, and songs celebrating the spirit of the “little guy” worker at the mercy of his moneyed “betters” who ran everything that mattered in the U.S.

There's a key set of scenes in the movie where Guthrie, after receiving some fame for his musicianship and vocal styling nabs a job at a Los Angeles radio station. He sings a slew of the Okie standards of the time, but began to slip in more than a few of his decidely pro-“the little guy”, union and anti-corporate bully songs. He of course, runs into trouble with the station's boss who then asks Woody for a list of every song he'll perform before each week's broadcast because of fear of upsetting the sponsors—namely many of the farms and growers who took deep advantage of the poor migrants who came west seeking a way to survive. In one passage, Woody, who's ducked the angry station manager for days, finally shows up. The manager angrily demands the list of songs which Woody reluctantly produces. The manager goes over it, nodding his approval at the non-controversial tunes on the list until he stops at one and hesitates over the title. He's not familiar with it.

“This isn't one of them...union songs is it? I mean Woody, our sponsors...”

“Oh no.” Woody reassures him. “THis one's about a man who catches his wife cheatin' on him. He kills her.”

“Oh.”, says the suit. “That's okay, then.” And Woody looks at him with naked disgust.

Guthrie would battle constantly with that paradox of entertaining the masses, and remaining true to himself as a supporter of progressive causes, so much so that he is pretty much the avatar of that sort of putting one's self on the line that way. Not very many would follow him and be able to maintain a popular audience as he did. But a few have managed to do so.

One was the several posts aforementioned Curtis Mayfield. I wrote plenty on Curtis, but it's a comment by one the readers here that stuck out for me days ago, and even moreso today.

“Curtis always seemed to be relevant no matter what was going on.

To get the full flavor of that era, add Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder. Sly had his moments during the Psychedelic end of the Sixties, but never got as deep or as meaningful as the other guys. Perhaps he would have if he hadn't let his talent dissolve into the drugs.

Somehow, despite what must have been great commercial pressures to stay within the old "love and lost" formula of pop music, they were able to make music that spoke of the fight for freedom, to comment on the war, to say things that may have been a bit on the edge.”

Carol 10.28.07 - 3:45 am #

Carol hit that paradoxical “"ars gratius pecunirus” (art for money's sake—thank you, Amuseinc) note perfectly. Then, I saw “Bound For Glory” last night which dealt with this subject again.

And then in my blog trawling, this story today completed the serendiptous circle with a pen-jab right through the paper to the table top:

(Hat tip to Atrios for pointing the way to this at Down With Tyranny)
For all the kudos Springsteen's new Magic album is earning for the joyful rocking it delivers, it's rife with self-doubt, disillusionment, anger and acceptance of the disappointments and compromises life inevitably presents the thinking person.

A couple weeks ago the new album was #1 on the Billboard album chart. Kid Rock's new album knocked it down a peg and this week, Springsteen disposed on Kid Rock and is back at #1. The album is already gold and headed right towards platinum and he's got a great shot to win a Grammy for Best Album of the Year. Magic's reviews virtually everywhere are over the top and the intro to his latest interview in Rolling Stone refers to the album's subject matter as "weighty stuff like the direction of our democracy and party stuff that recalls the days when sparks first flew on E Street more than three decades ago."

Republican radio network Clear Channel, a monopoly in many cities and a dominant player in most of the rest, isn't interested. Is it because Springsteen has been an outspoken campaigner for Democrats and progressives? Clear Channel has taken a political stand with its programming in the past. Just think back to their boycott of the Dixie Chicks. Oh, no... not way back, just back to when they released their most recent album. Despite being one of the top 10 best-selling American albums of the year-- across all genres and demographics-- radio studiously ignored it. There were maybe half a dozen country stations that even played it at all. What Clear Channel did to the Dixie Chicks is a watertight case for the need to break the media companies up into a thousand pieces. (John Sununu disagrees; he's pro-censorship.) I spoke with an old friend who heads a record company and preferred to speak off the record.

"When you have artists like the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen who have overtly spoken out against this Administration, they are taken to task in spite the clear and undeniable indications from the marketplace that people want to hear their music. What seems to be happening-- if sales are any kind of a barometer of what the marketplace is-- is that these politically-connected radio networks like Clear Channel are not looking to succeed as radio stations as much as pushing forward some political agenda.

Another friend of mine distinctly recalls the Senate hearings on radio consolidation in light of the Dixie Chicks boycott where Barbara Boxer and John McCain heard testimony including an internal Clear Channel memo threatening "Just wait and see what happens if Springsteen tries this." I guess we're seeing that right now.

Of course, Clear Channel hasn't publicly said they are boycotting Springsteen's music. But they are. Fox News, hardly a hotbed of liberal alarmists, reports that "Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from Magic...

“Meet the new boss...same as the old boss.”—The Who

What's chuckle-worthy here is the silly-ass irony of it all. Here you have Clear Channel clumsily acting the role (again, as first noted in their Dixie Chicks ban) of the out-of-touch, corporate-whore, hayseed radio station owner from “Bound For Glory”—except, they're not answering to any aggrieved sponsors per se. Because the radio game is a lot different than it was in the 1930s. In fact, it's a lot different than it was a mere eight years ago, as the medium has lost 20% of its listeners since 1989. Ray-diddi-o is NOT about pushing records up the charts anymore. My kids—13 and 18 years old don't listen to the radio AT ALL. And neither do their friends. They get their music via the internet. They haven't turned on the radio tuner of my stereo in at least two years, which is kind of scary to a person who grew up on terrestrial pop radio like I did. In fact, what with the new music delivery systems in the computer age, like the iPod and internet and satellite radio, a recent study shows that terrestrial radio actually hurts record sales. And with the steady bleed-away of the listener base, the big ad rate money of the old days is just that—of the old days. What radio is now is little more than a massive corporate entity owned lock, stock, and barrel by a few large mega-companies. It's a corporate entity that leverages its monopoly powers and reach as a political weapon to be used by the most desperate bidder. But it is in fact, an increasingly toothless tiger, as broadband access finally reaches deep into once-isolated rural outposts and gives listeners a wider range of music and general programming and eats deeper into an already disappearing audience. Still, Clear Channel uses what power it has left in the service of furthering their goal of total domination of the medium, and wields its increasingly brittle cudgel for their wingnut masters on Capitol Hill who either pass laws that favor the company, or scuttle laws that could hurt them.

But they couldn't kill The Dixie Chicks...and in spite of their lame-assed “Boss Ban”, the album's gone gold in three weeks, (rapidly headed toward platinum status) and been the #1 record in two of its three weeks of release, slipping to #2 against the human Hep-C culture Kid Rock's release for the middle seven days.

What's the saying? “They're already dead...they just don't know it yet.”

And the secondary irony in their lead-eared mishandling of the Springsteen album lay in “The Boss's” tack of late as a performer. For the last decade, he has very much embraced the ethos of Woody Guthrie, in singing about the plight of “the little guy” on his own albums, and yes, singing several Woody Guthrie songs (“Riding In My Car”, “Deportee”, “I Ain't Got No Home”, and “This Land Is Your Land”) on various tribute albums and concerts. This note on Springsteen struck me:

Rather than continue as the wealthy rock-poet of the American grunt and risk being labeled inauthentic, Springsteen set out for new territory. As he put it in Better Days, a 1992 song, "It's a sad funny ending to find yourself pretending/ A rich man in a poor man's shirt.”

Then in '95 he put out an album of folk songs, The Ghost of Tom Joad. It won a Grammy for best contemporary folk album, but it felt more like a Woody Guthrie tribute than a Springsteen record. The songs were stark and compelling, but the old optimism was gone. The characters of Tom Joad lived on the fringes of American life...

The funky parallels to the radio battles Guthrie found himself fighting as an artist, and that Springsteen now finds himself embroiled in are just plain...weird. Ghost Of Tom Joad? As in The Dust Bowl, The Grapes Of Wrath Okie Tom Joad? Who Woody Guthrie wrote a 1940 song entitled “Tom Joad” about?


But in the end, the “Boss Ban” is a failure, as Clear Channel continues to “Yee-haaaaah!” in between wheezes— every gimpy-ass step of the way to history's dustbin. They're in the same position as the “record” industry nowadays—spindly legged on a trembling sea of sand. And the same way that record companies fought so damned hard, and in the end futilely to retain their monopoly over content delivery, terrestrial radio with Clear Channel as their paragon wil lose its battle as well. They've got so much invested that they have to fight it. Take a hard look at who's backing the congressmembers against Net Neutrality and you won't be surprised to see the names of giant telecoms and “Old” media protecting their asses. Trying to smack down a Springsteen and his ilk is a chump-change favor in return for the legislative hook-up from their boys on Capitol Hill.

The ghost is already out of the machine, though. They've already lost. As I said, my kids and their friends ain't checking for radio at all. And when's the last time you saw a kid listening to a portable radio of any kind? Who's the last person you know who said “Hey! I bought a new radio!” How much has your own listening dropped in the last 10 years?

Yeah... I thought so.

So they have their moment, Clear Channel does. I'm not going to say don't fight them. But I am saying they're pretty much just a punch-line to a joke we'll soon forget the set-up to. Besides, it's so God-awfully easy to sidestep them in this age. Time was, you had to wait an hour or two until you heard the song you wanted to hear. Now, you go online.

You hear the song.

You see the video.

Just like that.

Ain't America a grand place?
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Mukasey refuses to answer Waterboarding question

In a written response to questions from Senate Democrats today, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey refused to explicitly say whether he believed waterboarding to be torture. In the four-page letter, Mukasey called the interrogation technique “over the line” and “repugnant” on “a personal basis,” but added that he would need the “actual facts and circumstances” to strike a “legal opinion”:

Hypotheticals are different from real life and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical.

CNN’s Ed Henry notes that with his “facts and circumstances” hedge, “essentially Michael Mukasey is dodging the question of whether legally waterboarding is torture.”

Well, I know a few techniques that might loosen his tongue.
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NEWS FLASH!: Bush Administration Flunkies Cover Their Asses Via News Fakery!

UPDATE!: And Cats Can't Drive For Shit.

This “can't-reach-the-pedals” guy'll do 70 clean laps at Talladega before the Bush admin gives the straight dope on a fuck-up. He'll hit the pits sweet as honey, too.

You don't have to look very hard for where it all started to go all lumpy-headed, drag-ass wrong for the Bush adminsitration. Oh, they'd been screwing the pooch like a pheromone-torqued Mickey Kaus at a petting zoo for years and years, but for about five years or so, they'd gotten away with it brazenly, with very few questions asked, and no challenges when exposed. That is, until an uncanny six month span between March and August of 2005 when three sirens of political bed-shittery came a' calling on BushCo LLC. Our mighty compatriot Driftglass (one of the best things outta Chi-Town since Curtis Mayfield), dubbed them exquisitely and perfectly as “The Three Fates”—Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, and I thank him for saving the post where I ran down where the wheels came off and the axles bounced and bit into hard macadam for Bush and his crew of sycophantic salad-tossers. The sweet ride was over. Now there'd be hard, actual driving from here on out. Drifty poetically called' em “The Three Fates”...but I name-checked 'em as Schiavo, Sheehan and Katrina.

"People make much of the "Rovian" strategy of turning your opponent's strength into a weakness, and one of Bush's alleged strengths (as his people like to put out there) is his surrounding himself with supposedly strong women, thus creating a "nanny shield" of protection around himself. From "Quaker Oats Guy" Mama, to dewy-eyed Condi, to Fraü Blucher Hughes, the Bush machine loves to trumpet his confidence in/dependence on these retrograde wet nurses.

This, they declare is one of his strengths.

So...God looks down, and in his infinite wisdom, sense of irony, and penchant for kicking the lead's *ss in the third act, says, "Wouldn't it be funny (apologies to the late Allen Funt) if I were to take this idiot's purported 'strength' and make it the thing which ultimately busts him in his grille? Yeah...that would be funny!"

And with a twitch of a celestial pinky, there appeared three female apparitions...


Oh, no, it wasn't the dems. It was "Beauty" killed the Beast.

Funnier still, is how each of those fists-to-the-face Bush has taken from the three sisters of the whup-*ss convent came while the ignorant little sh*t was on vacation in Crawford.

Schiavo--he flies back to scawl a shaky, DT'ed "X" on legislation to suck up to the christofascists and winds up getting himself crucified.

Sheehan--he hides out in a hay-bale fort reading old copies of "Grit" to get his news while occasionally peering out and wincing at her still being outside there.

Katrina--hung out at Crawford an extra coupla days falling off Segways, leaving bits of skin on bike-trail rocks and clearing brush--copy and pasted from a computer at Pixar while a Great American city drowned.

It was from there that Rove's legendary ‘Math” got all fucked up with the subtrahends, polynomials, postulates and integers colliding, and fusing and fracturing all over the blackboard. The polls got Herve Villechaize on a drunken-crawl low, and have stayed there. A Democratic, but still brush-clearing whipped Congressional majority would come into power (whatever that means)...and the administration's ability to just flat-out hide shit that it didn't want found out faded like Laura's smile once the Vicodin wears off. Katrina's revelation as her flood waters receded, of administration mendacity about Bush's level of engagement, Condi's misplaced priorities (“Ahhhh, The Name Is Bootsy, Baby!”), and most damningly, the lies of FEMA and their cronyism truly knifed the gut of the Bush leadership mystique—exposing his whole crew as little more than half-assed hacks better at covering their asses than at covering logistical bases.

So, here we are...some two years after “Heckuva Job, Brownie!”, and botched, jackleg relief efforts post a national disaster and the same organization—FEMA (where Fallacy Ensnared Motherfuckers Abound)—re-cacas the 'ol guest bed again. “Sigh!”—with a piece of P.R. stupidity that makes the “New Coke” rollout look like the iPod's debut. In the wake of the California wildfires, FEMA botched the scheduling of a progress report press conference so badly that rather than hold off and cancel the thing until it could be done properly...'d think that maybe they wouldn't be quite this stupid, but you know what they did...

They FAKED the press conference. By filling the room with hustled-in FEMA staffers coached to play-act the role of reporters.


Via Norwegianity, quarter of a page down:

The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago —arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency's deputy director.

The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response," Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said it was not appropriate that the questions were posed by agency staffers instead of reporters. FEMA was responsible for the "error in judgment," she said, adding that the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it.

"FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California," Perino said. "It's not something I would have condoned. And they — I'm sure — will not do it again."

She said the agency was just trying to provide information to the public, through the press, because there were so many questions.

"I don't think that there was any mal-intent," Perino said "It was just a bad way to handle it, and they know that."

Now...there's really no need for any level of upset about this story. None whatsoever. You see, when I heard about it, I actually laughed. Maybe my Snark-o-meter ™ (Pat. Pending) was tuned past 8.5 or something, but the first thing that went through my mind was, “Hmmm...a troubled Bush administration department is reduced to trotting out a bevy of “Potemkin” reporters to get across their spin in a time of crisis?”

What the fuck difference is there between that and their trotting out of Hume, and Wallace, and Kurtz, and Matthews and the rest of the scat-tossing Bonobos when the kitchen gets a little hot?

How was Tony Snow's straddling the news/admin flack line in any way unique?

Well...I suppose the difference lay in the blow-dried A-Team's getting a bit more than the flunkie “scale” the FEMA understudies got.

I just can't help but laugh when I think of when the press themselves saw that gaggle and the Blackberries suddenly started heating up on every state and letter-named avenue and street in D.C. with that querying refrain from “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” running across their text screens—minus the rogue-ish charm of course:

“Who are those guys?”

Bitch of it all is that Bush's people got caught doing it—never mind what the glassy-eyed spokes-bot Perino mewled about “the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it.” These are the people who Rove sat down with—every government agency—and gave them the rundown on how to handle X, Y, and Z in media relations and in covering the president's waggin'-in-the-breeze ass. Post-Katrina, they are not only the gang that cannot shoot straight, but have become the gang that will most likely shoot its own scrotum off unholstering the weapon. This is Bush presidency—Term II policy writ large.


Fuck Doing The Right Thing. Cover Your Ass.

But you knew that already, didn't you? We're all hep-cats down with the scoop and all that. The real lesson here is in the ready ammunition it is against the next wingnut you come across—and there's always one, who runs the “Gimme one—just one example of where this adminstration set out to deceive the American people outright! Give me ONE!” bullshit on you.

Swat this big, sloppy meatball pitch right back into their unprotected gut. And while you're at it, point out this other damning bit of logic to 'em.

If they'll go to the extraordinary length of faking a press conference to avoid looking bad while disseminating what was ostensibly the truth, shouldn't it make you wonder to what levels they'll go to—and have gone through in the past—to cover for what may NOT be the truth?

Oh, my.

It's this kind of relatively minor-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things act that is the scraggly thread that when tugged at, causes the whole Goddamned cheap suit to fall apart when they argue against the facts.

The end lesson? No, it's not the ineptitude and cravenness of FEMA, It's the laying bare—unmistakably—of how this administration really works...and works deceiving the public.

Lie little, lie big.
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Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromised because the guards received immunity for statements they made to State Department officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcement officials said yesterday. -- WAPO

This is fucking bullshit. Where the hell does the State Department get the authority to grant immunity? Just the sort of bullshit that I would expect completely incompetent Condi Rice to come up with. Hauptsturmführer Prince must be happy as a pig in shit. That was money well spent. Its no problem if you are a friend of George Bush.

Scooter Libby granted immunity.

ATT and the other Telecom companies about to be granted immunity.

Did these guys get immunity?

On December 21, 2006, the U.S. military charged eight Marines in connection with the incident.[6] Four of the Marines, Frank Wuterich, Sanick de la Cruz, Justin Sharratt and Stephen Tatum were accused of unpremeditated murder. Tatum was further charged with negligent homicide and assault, while de la Cruz was also charged with making a false statement. Squad leader Frank Wuterich was charged with 12 counts of unpremeditated murder. -- wiki/Haditha_killings

The U.S. Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and seven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault, and battery. Between May 2004 and September 2005, seven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to federal prison time, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten years and three years in prison, respectively. -- /wiki/Abu_Ghraib

To be clear, I don't think any of them should get immunity from prosecution. But if we are talking about who should get a break. I damn sure don't give a flying fig about some $500,000 a year mercenary who is accountable to no one and does nothing to help us accomplish the mission in Iraq. Nothing.

Well, God Save the King... what was it that Pete Stark said? The amusement of the president, sounds about right.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Sick And Tired Of Your Sor-rys

What Hubris said...and then some...

Some 30-odd years ago, the poet/playwright Ntozake Shange wrote and choreographed one of the legendary pieces in the “Black Arts Movement” canon of the late 60's/early 70's—the blazing “For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf”. It was an amazing piece, dealing with the trials and tribulations of a variety of nameless women, identified only by the color dresses they wore onstage. Some of the most penetrating words in the performances came from the characters who suffered the most damage—for example, the “Lady in Red” and her recalling the terrible domestic abuse she absorbed. Many of the other characters would cite, breathlessly and in great detail how they coped with abuse they suffered—physical AND emotional.

The moment I recall best from it is a monologue by the “Lady In Blue” who fed-up with the constant enabling, and wallowing in the battered-wife syndrome that has cost her too much of her time, and waaaaaay too much of her dignity, says “enough is enough” and lays down the law for her suitors present—and in the future, that she is “sick and tired of their sorrys”.

“If you called to say you’re sorry,
Call somebody else.
I don’t use ‘em anymore.


One thing I don't need,
Is any more apologies.
I got sorry greetin me at my front door.
You can keep yours.
I don't know what to do wiht em.
They don't open doors,
Or bring the sun back.
They don't make me happy,
Or get a mornin paper.
Didn't nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
'Cause of sorry.


I let sorry/didn't mean to/and how could I know about that
Take a walk down a dark & musty street in Brooklyn.
I'm gonna do exactly what I want to
And I won't be sorry for none of it.
Let a sorry soothe your soul...I'm gonna soothe mine."

Shange's words have rarely been far from me, as I've seen that play performed at least six times or so, and the hard declaration of “no more sorrys” always stuck out for me in particular. It especially sticks out with the spot-on noting of the “battered wife syndrome” evidenced by too many of the Left's so-called elected “leaders”, particularly after Rep. Pete Stark's comments:

“The Dainty Republican Fainting Couch and Circle Jerk Society is in full effect and the press is running with it as fast as their dimpled little legs can carry them. The context that would show what is really going on is right in the story, but you won't hear about it:

Republicans jumped on the tirade, issuing statement after statement calling on congressman Pete Stark to apologize.

Now why do you suppose they did this? Are these macho tough guys really offended that some congressman made these comments in a debate? Are their feelings hurt on behalf of the president? Does CNN really believe that's what's going on? Does anyone think that what Pete Stark said on the floor yesterday truly upset the Republicans? Of course not. These are the same people who spent month after month calling president Clinton a rapist and worse, for crying out loud. They are not shrinking violets who believe that there are limits to acceptable rhetoric about the president. They don't believe there are limits to any rhetoric.

Everyone knows exactly why the Republicans sent out "statement after statement" about this obscure congressman's words yesterday --- distraction. Does anyone point that out? No. In fact, the damned Democrats go right along with this nonsense and "hold meetings" and leak to the press about how they agree with the Republicans agreeing that Stark caused the distraction, and basically showing themselves to be a bunch of pathetic fumblers falling for this nonsense over and over again.

Surely, they don't think they will ever be able to stop the Republicans from finding some silly comment somewhere that they can get the vapors over do they? Are they really battered spouses trying desperately not to say or do anything that will make their vicious, bullying batterer angry?

Somebody call Dr. Phil for gawds sake. I have said it before but until the Democrats figure out how to deal with this, the Republicans are going to keep doing it. Why shouldn't they?”

Hubris pointed out downpage a touch that:

Okay? As the “Lady in Blue” (funny how colors are just...I dunno, timeless) said, “We are sick and tired of your sor-rys”. The fact is, that every time an unwarranted, “quiet the baby” sorry leaves our lips, we only give the caterwauling, shit-Pampered brats the cue to cry louder, shriller and more frequently as it says that we will always give in—even when right just to keep things quiet...which it never fucking does.

They don't say sorry. Ever. You could have seventy-thousand 20/20-visioned spectators in a football stadium, and a have a prominent wingnut sprint to mid-field befor everyone's eyes, and clothes-line a blind nun singing “Ave Maria” during a halftime show, body-slam her onto a metal bench, do a sack-dance over her broken body, and somehow...somehow, he will find a way, in spite of seventy-thousand people having seen him fuck up before their eyes, to not let the words “sorry” or “apology” ever tumble 'cross his foam-flecked lips. The playing field is skewed that crazily.

So when we''re dealing with THAT LEVEL of bull-headed wrongness, to say “sorry” to these people for daring to be pointed, and hard in our truth-telling makes about as much sense as driving gloves on a fucking worm.

Fuck them. And Fuck their tender, drug-addled, morally-bankrupt, and ice-hearted sensibilities. Hard...and with NO LUBE, thank you.

The American people—the majority, is down with the aforementioned “Lady In Blue”. And so too are many American soldiers in Iraq, who are taking the direct brunt of the idiotic, “do not question the policy” policy being enforced via screaming hissy-fit by the right's cowards:

“When we first got here, all the shops were open. There were women and children walking out on the street,” Alarcon said this week. “The women were in Western clothing. It was our favorite street to go down because of all the hot chicks.”


Next month, the U.S. soldiers will complete their tour in Iraq. Their experience in Sadiyah has left many of them deeply discouraged, by both the unabated hatred between rival sectarian fighters and the questionable will of the Iraqi government to work toward peaceful solutions.

Asked if the American endeavor here was worth their sacrifice — 20 soldiers from the battalion have been killed in Baghdad — Alarcon said no: “I don’t think this place is worth another soldier’s life.”

No more sorrys. No more apologies. No more humoring these maladjusted, whiny, punk-ass babies.

Because in the end, we—the American people, end up being the ones who get hurt...not them. It's a one-way street with these clowns.

And if you don't believe me, just ask poor, Ol' Lou Costello below.

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Mr. Counterinsurgency, Dave Petraeus

Lets all pause and remember that it was the current commander in Iraq, General Petraeus who re-wrote the Counter Insurgency manual. Lets read a bit of it shall we?

F-8. The employment of air-power in the strike role should be done with exceptional care. Bombing, even with the most precise weapons, can cause unintended civilian casualties. The benefits of every air strike should be weighed against the risks, the primary danger being collateral damage that turns the population against the government and provides the insurgents with a major propaganda victory. Even when justified under the law of war, bombing a target that results in civilian casualties will bring media coverage that works to the benefit of the insurgents. A standard insurgent and terrorist tactic for decades against Israel has been to fire rockets or artillery from the vicinity of a school or village in the hope that the Israelis would carry out a retaliatory air strike that kills or wounds civilians-who are then displayed to the world media as victims of aggression. Insurgents and terrorists elsewhere have shown few qualms in provoking attacks that ensure civilian casualties if such attacks fuel anti-government and anti-U.S. propaganda. Indeed, insurgents today can be expected to use the civilian population as a cover for their activities.

F-9. Even in a clear case of taking out an insurgent headquarters or command center, care has to be taken to accomplish the mission while minimizing civilian casualties. New, precise munitions with smaller blast effects have been developed and employed to limit collateral damage. There are other means, as well. At the start of the campaign in Afghanistan in 2001, U.S. intelligence identified Taliban armored vehicles parked in built up areas. A miss, or even a direct hit, by a precision weapon would be likely to kill civilians and give the Taliban a propaganda advantage. The United States Air Force (USAF) came up with the idea of employing concrete-filled practice bombs with precision guidance against such Taliban weapons systems. If the bomb hit the target, the kinetic energy of 2,000-pounds of steel and concrete dropped from the air would assure destruction. If the bomb missed the target, it would bury itself deep in the ground with no explosion and little chance of major collateral damage. The destruction of the weapons systems was accomplished without any collateral damage that could have turned the population against the U.S. and multinational forces.


Percentage increase to date of Bombing Sorties in Iraq over 2006. Jan-Sep 2006 = 125, Sorties to date - 2007, 995. Numbers do not include Marine Corp operations in al Anbar.

Now October looks like another very low casualties month, with 33 month to date. The lowest for all of 2007. Is General Petraeus having his men hunker down and having the Air Force take over counter insurgency duties in Iraq? If so, does he really think that he can keep that up until January 2009? Because Bush is not pulling out. No matter how 'good' it gets in Iraq Little Boots will not pull out. He is much too stupid. I looked and looked in the COIN manual and didn't find the 'hide and bomb the shit out of them' strategy anywhere. Maybe my kerning was off or something.

sources: Fred Kaplan at and Noah Shachtman at Wired's Danger Room and of course Iraq Coalition Casualties
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Dem Leadership


say Congressman Stark should not apologize. The Dem leadership are a bunch of jacked-asses. -- CNN
You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people, if we could get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their head's blow off for the president's amusement
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nice pipes

Anger is the first step towards courage -- Saint Augustine.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Paul Farhi, Cub Reporter on Bush's Hugs...

The wildfires in Southern California this week have served to remind the world once more about one of the singular and underappreciated skills of George W. Bush: The man is a generous hugger.

There he was, amid the charred remains of some formerly upscale neighborhood, embracing the weary and the dazed victims of the fire. He made a little speech as one of the unfortunate locals was snuggled up to his side, his arm clinching her close. The gesture suggested strength, solidarity, compassion. The resident looked almost reassured.

What a guy... I am sure the resident as 'almost reassured'. Whats the matter Paul? After Katrina you couldnt bring yourself to actually write that he looked assured. Because deep down, you know Bush isnt going to do shit for these people.

Paul Farhi part of the vast left-wing liberal media. Paul has come a long way from just a couple of years ago covering the Hollyweird liberals on the Dixie Chicks from the Style Section for the Washington Post.
COOPER: Janeane Garofalo, I guess, this is one of the people who cites this.

FARHI: Perfect example.

COOPER: How did it work for her?

FARHI: Well, I think it's worked fabulously for her. She was, by her own description, she was a sort of D-list celebrity. Now, because she's been on a number of news shows talking about her opposition to the war, she has gotten offers that just came out of nowhere. Speaking engagements, stand-up gigs, stage plays, things that, again, never would have happened had she kept her mouth shut.

COOPER: And Michael Moore, I think on his Web site, is sort of bragging about the fact that a lot of people are ordering his books on, more so than ever before, and his movie, as well.

FARHI: That's an amazing one. His book, which had been on "The New York Times" best seller list for about 50 weeks, was starting to drop. He makes his statement at the Oscars, the book goes back up to number one after 50 weeks. His documentary, "Bowling for Columbine," gets more preorders on than "Chicago," which was the best picture Oscar. So it's just been great for him.

Yes, it was great for Moore, the death threats, the hate mail, the right wing noise machine trying to destroy his reputation. Maybe President Bush can give him a hug.

Journalmalist Paul Farhi of the Washington Post Heathers ladies and gentlemen.
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Swinging Me, Soothing Me, Saving Me

Music Break, Ya'll...'Cause I (And We) Really Need One...

It has been one of those weeks for me.

A week from hell.

Where the devil's hounds tear at your ass with acid-dripping fangs.

A week where the crummy events act like a blend of molasses and setting epoxy—slowing things down to an awful, painful crawl.

A week so bad, you'd give a month off your life if you could avoid its gut-churning drama.

It has been that kind of week, ladies and gentlemen. Full of reverses and head-spinning, not good-in-any-way surprises. Personal and professional. A hob-nail-booted “nad”-kick for seven...straight...days.

It darkened my mood, and laid me low. It limited my posting.

But I'm back. I. Am. Back. Thanks in no small part to my family, and my friends here and other places...and believe it or not, to the soothing, healing power of music. Thank God for music!

During my darkest moments in this week, I found myself sitting at work one night at an ungodly hour, dealing with the hell that was there and steeling myself for the trip home, where more mirth and merriment awaited. The Mac was running through iTunes on shuffle, and a song came on that just stopped me in my tracks after a few seconds in. It was The Impressions' “Keep On Pushin”. That spring-woung guitar-lick, the rolling, sisyphean bass line, the cajoling background harmony chorus, and of course...the imploring lead vocal of one Curtis Mayfield, made me stop what I was doing right then and there, and just...“breathe”, as Doc Wendel (Thank you. Jesse) says.

I couldn't shake that song. Something in it just got to me. So, I quickly whipped out the iPod, created a new playlist called “Curtis”, and filled it with about fifteen classic Curtis Mayfield penned jams from my iTunes library (the job library being about 33 GBs) to listen to on the way home. I figured I'd walk much of the distance, something I do when I need to clear my head of the fog that clouds it from time to time, and I saved the “Curtis” playlist for the part of the walk that would take me over the Brooklyn Bridge—having listened to more uptempo stuff in my walk through Lower Manhattan's bustling streets. And it was about 150 feet onto the bridge's pedestrian walkway when I tapped the click-wheel for Curtis's music...and his “It's All Right” came up first.

Now, music's a funny thing. There's something about the sound of particular songs, or the way they come across where they'll just sort of shake you. Maybe it was the song's walking bass line matching to my walking rhythm, and its old-school “work song” propulsion in the beat...but something...something was happening to me. I could feel that hint of a tingle—that thing my father called “Soul Bumps”, when a song or a singer connects with what you're feeling in a song and affects you physically. I shook my head and smiled a little—for the first time in five days—as I plodded on.

“Man...that was a great song.”, I mused to myself as I looked over my shoulder at the twinkling lights of Manhattan falling away behind me. Nosing out over the end of Chinatown below, the breeze off the East River calmed me even more, as the “Curtis” list played on and into me.

Into me.

I don't know just what happened that night as I crossed the bridge, but time seemed to slow down as the music played on. Gladys Knight's ethereal version of Curtis's “The Makings Of You” warmed my heart. “Keep On Pushing” played again, and I loped forward hard—and rhythmically as it throbbed along.

His driving anthem from '68, “We're A Winner” came up in the mix, and I found myself looking heavenward as just a bit of what felt like sea-spray blew past. I blinked twice, and my eyes watered as the song's joyous “C' can do it!” vibe washed over me there. I stopped mid-span at the first main tower and stood there looking back over the southern end of Manhattan, as that beat—that refrain— echoed in my head as my fist pounded out the beat there on the handrail:

“We're a winner,
And never let anybody say,
Why you can't make it,
'Cause a feeble mind's in your way.

No more tears do we cry,
And we have finally dried our eyes,
And we're movin' on up (Movin' on up!)
Lord have mercy, we're movin' on up”

And then...then? “People get Ready” came in next, like a rising tide in the headphones. I let it wrap around me, envelop me. Bells...that plaintive guitar...the haunting, moaning backing vocals, a bass line keyed to the heartbeat...and finally, Curtis's soul-deep, heart-rending lead vocal:

“People get ready,
There's a train a' comin'.
You don't need no baggage.
You just get on board.
All you need is faith,
To hear the diesels hummin'.
Don't need no ticket,
You just thank the Lord.”

I lost it...right there —the way I'm pretty much losing it right now as I type the lyrics and words following it. The song crept into my ears, down my back, and radiated with a tingle. My face stung as my eyes watered freely then, and I felt a wave of warmth and chill roll from the base of my neck, over my head and into my face. I shook my head and found my way to a bench there on the walkway...and sat...listening, as the tears just flowed. I just let my head hang down...and released.

I utterly released.

As the song wound out, I finally looked up into the sky at a luminous, almost full moon. And for the first time in five days felt good about something. I was actually smiling and taking in the night air, the breeze and smell of the river mist. It felt like I'd just shucked off about ten soaking wet blankets of bad juju and re-awakened my senses somehow. I stood up. I felt lighter. I tipped my head from side to side, stretching my neck, and shook my arms out a little. I punched up Curtis's “Move On Up” and damn near bounded down the second half of the bridge walkway—and a couple of times when I was alone, breaking into a near skip/jog as the horns blared and his voice cajoled, “Move On Up!”

What the hell had happened to me?

Art had happened...that's what.

Art at its best is a creation designed to stimulate the senses, to make one feel, and empathize. It moves one, shakes one, inspires one. It can reach from a canvas, or a turn of a dancer's hand, or pitch of a singer's note—into your very mind...and your heart, and sway you, or even save you.

And that's what happened to me on the bridge on Tuesday night. “Art” happened, and I saved me from crushing despair. And it was the late Curtis Mayfield's artistry that specifically got me through that particularly dark time. You see, I'd been listening to music all throughout hell's rising up to singe my brows and blind my eyes, but nobody's music connected for me the way that Curtis Mayfield's music did in those days. I've had Curtis on pretty much non-stop since that day, and he has been an absolute balm to my soul, and I have asked myself “Why is that?” repeatedly since I stumbled across his music's healing power.

It didn't take too long to answer once I looked at the songs I was listening to and thought a bit about the man himself.

The Playlist.

The Music.

The Healing.

Curtis Mayfield if you aren't familiar with him, was perhaps the most versatile, generous, and heartfelt singer/songwriter of the era in Soul music spanning two-plus decades—from the late fifties to the early eighties. He began in Doo-Wop, pioneered Soul (particularly Chicago Soul), and helped create Funk. Additionally, he was THE MUSICAL VOICE of the Civil Rights Era, moreso than Sly, or the stable of Motown stars or anyone else. You see, Mayfield was the most in touch with “the soul” of any of the artist/writers of the era. His songs were simple, yet infectiously musical. With his plaintive strumming, (He tuned his guitar to the black keys on the piano—an oddish, F-sharp tuning; F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# that he'd never stray from) he seemingly lived out the character from his Impressions hit “Minstrel and Queen”—that of an ebony troubadour. Curtis was the brotha you sang along with as he played his big guitar 'round the campfire, at the college building takeover, or in a holding cell with you and fifty other freedom riders. He didn't stomp, or swagger...he just made music—incredibly heartfelt, thoughtful music.

He was not a panther-esque, powerful presence like Marvin Gaye, nor was he a feral, explosive Soul beast like James Brown, or the lithe, lissome gazelle like Smokey Robinson was at the pen or at the mic. Curtis was for all intents and purposes, Soul's cuddly and wise Koala Bear, even in his unassuming look. But it was unwise to let his quiet mien fool you, for behind that quietude was a fierce, and caring heart. He was the genre's true humanist, whose range went from the one-to-one, “I truly love you, woman” level, to an all-of-humanity encompassing embrace—sometimes within the same song. And yes, there was an unabashedly spiritual note throughout nearly all of his music. He could do more with NO mention of “God” or “Jesus” in his music then, than horror-shows like Donnie McClurkin and Kirk Franklin do in their seventy-times per song mentioned aural nightmares.

He was spiritual without being preachy. There is a difference. He never exhorted one to “come to Jesus”, or clunkily threw scripture about. What he did was constantly ask the listener to go within one's self and see what was there, and pull from deep-down in that soul, one's own salvation. The lyrics from his 1969 masterpiece “Choice of Colors” spoke volumes:

“If you had a choice of colors...
Which one would you choose my brothers?
If there was no day or night...
Which would you prefer to be right?

How long have you hated your white teacher?
Who told you, you love your black preacher?
Do you respect your brother's woman friend?
And share with black folks not of kin?

People must prove to the people,
A better day is coming for you and for me.
With just a little bit more education,
And love for our nation,
Would make a better society...”

Now...Curtis wrote that in '69...and hit on in those first lines, themes of racial equality, misplaced anger at those who've done nothing to you, misplaced trust in others because of dated, authoritarian ideals, respect for women, caring for those with less...and even the idea and power of true patriotism.

Bit more than just the old boog-a-loo, there.

And I think that's what shook me there on the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday night. I could have listened to one of about 7,500 songs that night on my iPod. But that little sub-set of 18 or so tunes—many of them stealthy, inspirational “pop-pocket sermons” touched my heart when it was at a low point, and kind of lifted me back up. I wasn't gonna jump or anything like that, but despair was so in my bones that week, that night, that I can honestly paraphrase what Elton John sang 30 years ago and mean it— “Someone saved my life that night”. Saved it from spiraling deeper into the maw of desperation. Those liquid, guitar licks, hopeful words, and yes, that silken, soothing voice, a calming falsetto with a vocal “You're gonna be okay.” nod nestled in it somewhere. Exactly where, I couldn't tell you, but I seriously doubt that I'm the only one who's heard it and had it pull them from a pit of sorrow.

Maybe it was his Church upbringing. A child of Chicago, Mayfield grew up there steeped in the Church (his grandmother was a reverend) and mastered four instruments. (He wrote “the classic Gypsy Woman” when he was 14!) This NPR interview from 1993 with Mayfield sheds a lot of light on his background and influences. Everything from the Bible, to poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, to Sam Cooke and yes, even Dr. Seuss.(!) He joined a group called The Roosters while in High School with his friend and phenomenal vocalist and tunesmith in his own right, Jerry Butler. They would reach stardom under their new name—The Impressions, with the incandescent, and frankly sanctified hit “For Your Precious Love” in 1958—and once stardom hit, so did the pressures on the group from the label and outer forces. The fabulously talented Butler was the sought-after lead singer and would be broken out of the group where he would gain solo fame...and to show what a generous musician Mayfield was, he continued to write for him—an uncommon happening in the music industry, to say the least, but Curtis Mayfield was an uncommon musician. He reconstituted the group with himself as the lead voice, occasionally alternating with his fellow members of the now-trio—Sam Gooden and Fred Cash. And it was there, as the heart balance to Smokey Robinson's brain in Soul Music's songwriting/performer firmament where Curtis would soar to unbelievable heights of success. “Gypsy Woman”, “It's All Right”, “Minstrel & Queen”, “I'm So Proud”, “People Get Ready”, “Keep On Pushing”, “We're A Winner”, “Choice Of Colors”...the list goes on and on.

And beyond the songs just being tuneful, Mayfield manifested another rarified talent—namely the ability to compose timeless “anthems”. Singable, unshakeable, and perfectly pitched anthems that tuned directly into the heartbeat of the then-burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. The aforementioned “People Get Ready”, “Keep On Pushing”, “We're A Winner”, and “Choice Of Colors” were the perfect four seasons quartet of songs that scored the era. One of my earliest sense-memories as a child is of hearing and seeing that 7-inch single of ”People Get Ready” with that spooky ABC-Paramount logo spinning on our old brown-and-white Dansette record player as the haunting, well-of-the-soul sound poured out. I remember we had three copies of that single, as one was worn to bacon-sizzling background noise from overuse, a second one that was in decent condition with some pops, and one that only Mama and Daddy played when there was company over. They were in sleeves marked “Dead”, “Good” and “DO NOT TOUCH!”. This was the only record we had three copies of. Some we had two of—but this was the only triple-header, with good reason. From the time I was four until I was ten, I think I heard that song twice a week. Multiples were necessary, as it sound-tracked the entire late 1960's. Perhaps it was a “comfort memory” of the song that so moved me on the bridge? Nah. I remember hearing Sinatra's “It Was A Very Good Year” repeatedly for 2 years as a child (and somewhere in our attic, there's an old reel-to-reel of me and my brother singing it—as horribly as a four and five year old can, from 1968), and The Fifth Dimension's “Up, Up And Away” was a dizziness-inducing staple for the three years it spun on our turntable in heavy rotation. Those two are comfort menories...but they don't move me like “People Get Ready” still does. I remember assuming as a kid that the song was an ages-old Negro spiritual, as it had such a timeless, almost super-eternal quality to its sound. It implored you to listen, to revere its words, and it touched the heart it pretty much commanded you to place your hand over when you heard it. It still does.

But Curtis's music also did something else. As stated before, that quartet or socially-conscious songs—in addition to a slew of others, were the soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement, but above and beyond merely rallying people to action with his songs, he also tunefully handled subjects NO ONE ELSE WOULD IN POP MUSIC-i.e. self-love in “We're A Winner”, self-hatred in “We, The People Who Are Darker Than Blue”, respect for women and challenging Black clergy in “Choice Of Colors”. Before Marvin's “What's Going On” and Sly's “Stand” and “There's A Riot Goin' On”, Mayfield was plumbing the depths of socially-conscious music and coming up with rare and perfect sonic gems.

He was also the most ego-free performer of his era. When his pal and group-mate Butler left the Impressions, Curtis continued to write and produce for him, and when Curtis himself went solo, he continued to write and produce for his old group. That artistic generosity extended to other performers, where he plied his trade crafting hits for them—particularly his fellow female stars. He would produce unique, woman-friendly chart toppers for three of the most distinctive and heralded female singers of the Rock and R&B era—Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & Mavis Staples. That humanistic sensitivity came through in the songs he would write for them with lyrics about “the joy of children laughing”, “the smell of a morning flower, as we pass away the hours”, and “so much hope for material things—are they only in my dreams?”

It's that kind of heart that got to me on the bridge—and that enabled him to write visually and emotionally evocative, music for not one classic movie soundtrack, but four classic movie soundtracks in the 70's: 1972's “Superfly” (Listen to the lyrics—he doesn't glorify the character's criminality. In fact, he keys in on his amorality.) 1974's “Claudine, 1975's “Let's Do It Again”, '1976's “Sparkle” and 1977's “Short Eyes”.

I know. I'm being super-effusive here. But after what his music did for me, I just had to dig around a bit to get at “why” it was so effective in its healing...and in so doing, I realized that this man is one of the most underrated musicians of the last fifty years. His music reached way down inside me and found that dim, little spark of hope and somehow re-kindled it into the burning flame that's getting me through this exceptionally tough time. So you know what? I'm sharing him with you all—because dammit, we all have those moments—those periods when all seems set against you. And when you find that wonderful, simple healing thing that pulls you from the abyss—actual art, doing what art is really supposed to do, well baby...that's something you trumpet.

Curtis unfortunately, isn't with us anymore. After a long career as a hitmaker, (Dig around for his amazing duet with Linda Clifford, “Between You Baby and Me” from 1980), he continued to perform live gigs after the market changed and record sales dropped off. Here in Brooklyn, there's a long-running series of free summer concerts at Wingate Field, featuring long-standing R&B giants. I've seen The Temptations, Parliament-Funkadelic and The O'Jays tear up the stage at the Wingate shows. Mayfield was due to perform at one such show in the muggy summer of 1990. The night of that concert, I stood in my kitchen in Park Slope and looked at the ugly, brownish-grey sky roiling from the window. I had planned to hop a train to see that concert, but begged off after seeing that foreboding sky, figuring they'd rain-date the show. The weather was gonna be too awful for Curtis, who I'd never seen live—to perform. And that night was horiffic weather-wise—40 and 50 m.p.h. gusts tore through Brooklyn with drenching, monsoon-like rains.

But they didn't call off the show, as I would sadly discover on the 11 O'clock news later that night. Curtis was in the process of plugging his butter-yellow Stratocaster into the amp onstage when a huge gust tore a part of the light rigging free and slammed it down onto his neck and back, breaking three vertebra and paralyzing the living legend from the neck down.

Curtis would hang on for nine more years...sadly never again plying those ininmitable liquid lines from his Strat, but still, after extensive therapy, recording again that heart-rending voice. Pleading for peace and understanding, love and redemption...till the very end in 1999.

It's a funny thing. I've long been a Curtis Mayfield fan, but it took that moment of epiphany on the bridge to really look closer at him and what he meant. That lack of ego on his part made his greatness, and power all too easy to take for granted. Not just by me, but the world at large. So, I spent a day or so just reading up on him on the web, and stumbled across great videos of him all over the place—here, here, here, and here for example. By all means, click and enjoy “The Gentle Genius”. a bit of therapy (for myself) and as a tribute to the man himself (Thank you again, Curtis!), here's a little music video I put together to familiarize you with the man's work if you're not up on it—or if you are hip to the monster Mayfield vibe, just to groove to and remind you how amazingly talented he was. Our beloved Steve often spoke of his love for classic R&B, and this little Curtis Mayfield music video compendium that follows shows you some of the reasons why at its best, the style is something to behold.

“I know we've all got problems.
That's why I'm here to say...
Keep peace with me, And I with you.
Let me love in my own way”

from “We, The People Who Are Darker Than Blue”—1970

Rock on, brother. Rock on...and thank you.
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Stupid Motherfucker

I'm sorry, I know I am supposed to be civil and help extend the discourse but I have read this piece by Joe Klein twice and the only thing that is clear in it, is that he is just a stupid motherfucker.

For the Iraq obsessives out there, there's yet another interesting piece from Fred Kaplan at Slate about the U.S. military's increased use of air attacks. If Kaplan is saying that the air attacks are integral to the declining U.S. casualties, I'm not sure I agree with him. The decline is mostly attributable to the successful tribal campaign against Al Qaeda in Iraq (or whatever you want to call the Sunni salafists) and to the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad by the Shi'ites.

The lowliest private can tell you really have no clue about what you are talking about. Geez, seriously, if you are stupid just keep your mouth shut maybe someone will think you're smart.
The increase in air attacks--and I would imagine these are mostly helicopter assaults, not fixed-wing jets--has to do with the far more aggressive tactics Petraeus has been employing, especially since Operation Phantom Thunder began in June.

As opposed to those rotary winged jets? Don't pretend you have any clue Joe. Its painfully obvious to us that you couldn't a clue if we shoved it up your ass.
All you have to do is read Gertrude Bell to see how little has changed.

Yes, indeed, indeed... Stupid motherfucker.

I would be worried about copyright violation from but they will never own up to printing this bullshit
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Polish Man Tasered to Death by Airport Police

Don't get that Canadian visa just yet. Vancouver Airport Police are the latest in a proud group of jackbooted pussies who can't seem to handle interactions with people unless they submit to complete obedience instantly.

"Recently police at the Vancouver airport were attempting to question a recent immigrant that could not speak English. They tasered him after 24 seconds of speaking with him. The man had spent 10 hours stuck in the airport with no-one helping him." via Boing Boing

These steroid raged fueled sub-dominants need to be stopped. This shit is out of control. They broke the leg of a Minister who was trying to enter the Petreaus hearings on Capital hill recently. But that's just one of thousands of this sort of thing happening all over. We need to remove the paramilitary culture from our police forces. Why do they all dress like SWAT members now?

How come we never see cops dressed like cops anymore. Everybody is just about to do a home invasion or break up a WTO riot. You never see a patrol officer anymore. It's all these needle-dicked weight lifting thugs who didn't even have the qualifications or the balls to join the Guard or regular Army. With this Supreme Court we dont also need a testostorone fueled police force.
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“Stop! In the Name of Law”

The Supreme Stoppage

It's not 1965 anymore, Baby Love.

But you're still asking, "Where Did Our Love Go" as you tool around town in your hot new 2009 General Motors car, hoping she'll soon be Back in My Arms Again.

Ain't gonna happen.

In fact, the MAN is going to own your ass. He'll be saying, Come See About Me as he presses the magic button and your car goes stop.

All 1.7 million of them.

Live Science

General Motors plans to equip 1.7 million of its 2009 models with a system that allows OnStar operators to cut engine power in the car if the police request it. The system was demonstrated in Washington, D.C. today.

GM's OnStar system already contains built-in GPS tracking that would allow police to find any OnStar-equipped vehicle. With the new technology, if the police request it, an OnStar operator will inform the occupants of the vehicle and then cut power. The engine will be slowed to idle speed, to allow the driver to move to the side of the road. Brakes and other electrical functions of the vehicle will still work.

The intent of the system is to cut down on the number of police chases, which can be dangerous for both bystanders and police. A recent study showed that from 1994 through 2002, there were 2,654 crashes involving 3,965 vehicles and 3,146 fatalities during police pursuits.

GM also stated that the owner of the vehicle may opt out of the service upon request. GM's research has indicated that 95% of current OnStar subscribers would like to participate. Take a look at other initiatives to make the roads safer, like the prototype car seat and Nissan Pivo 2 in-dash robot, which try to detect drivers sleeping behind the wheel. Read an interview with Greg Bear about Quantico.
Oh yeah, just another way we're making your life safer.

The four horsemen of the internet:
  • Terrorism
  • Drugs
  • Child Porn
  • Racism & Hatred
In the name of these, we will reduce the greatest tool of communication ever invented, to that which is safe for a very stupid and protected five year-old with an unmedicated paranoid, religiously fanatical mother who was herself orphaned and repeatedly molested as a child, then abandoned on the street as a teenager where she was made pregnant by an unknown father while drunk, now looking over the five year-olds' shoulder, while Child Protective Services and the Drug Enforcement Agency quietly monitor everything and Homeland Security checks out using a root kit and the built-in camera and microphone, the obvious infiltration of our Homeland by the child (who has a brown skin.)

THIS is the world the nutcases would give us.

This is the world apparently, 95% of new GM drivers are fine to give the police -- the right to turn off your car remotely.

Raise your hand if you think the car:
  • will never be hacked,
  • never ever could be sold to someone trying to carjack your car or kidnap your kid (if you're rich), or
  • you trust the white cops following black and brown men to turn it off in a way which doesn't cause their car to take a dive under a semi-trailer.
  • Or no cop will ever turn off the car of a cute girl with the bigga ga-boombas. Late at night in a private, quiet place.
GM is turning out 1.7 million of these suckers.

Be a sucker. Buy from GM.
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Is Pres. Bush Subject To The Law? Take #2987

Attorney General Nominee Mukasey Was To FIX this Crap!
(I need a beer. And I don't drink.)

What's the scoop?

Are we a Government of Law, or not?

Is the President of the United States subject to the law -- even if he doesn't wanna -- or not?

If you can't answer "YES!", you have NO business being the Attorney General of the United States.

I mean, didn't we just dump that Bush ass-kissing suck-up from Texas for precisely this bullshit? Because he just let President Bush do anything he wanted, no matter what the law was?

The New York Times

AT his confirmation hearings last week, Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, was asked whether the president is required to obey federal statutes. Judge Mukasey replied, “That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.”

According to Judge Mukasey’s statement, as well as other parts of his testimony, the president’s authority “to defend the nation” trumps his obligation to obey the law. Take the federal statute governing military commissions in Guantánamo Bay. No one, including the president’s lawyers, argues that this statute is unconstitutional. The only question is whether the president is required to obey it even if in his judgment the statute is not the best way “to defend the nation.”

If he is not, we no longer live under the government the founders established.

Under the American Constitution, federal statutes, not executive decisions in the name of national security, are “the supreme law of the land.” It’s that simple. So long as a statute is constitutional, it is binding on everyone, including the president.

The president has no supreme, exclusive or trumping authority to “defend the nation.” In fact, the Constitution uses the words “provide for the common defense” in its list of the powers of Congress, not those of the president.

If Judge Mukasey cannot say plainly that the president must obey a valid statute, he ought not to be the nation’s next attorney general.
Enough is enough.

The Senate needs to do it's damn job.

Are we a nation of law? (For certain so far, we've been a Senate of Rabbits.)
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Oral Roberts: The Male Organ Pentrating the Vagina

Sex Ed With Brother Oral Roberts

It's got nasty at Oral Roberts University.

Like Daddy, like son, his wife and their daughter. Ohhh.

But we're not going to go there. We're going back all the way to the Big O himself and get us some sex educated.

Put down your drinks. Move them away from your computers (don't want to ruin your keyboards, trust me now y'all.) Swallow that last sip of... soda (don't want to spit it out all over your monitors.) Make certain you are safe (at work) for playing an instructional tape in what to do and not do, and how to not do it, specifically.

Very, very, VERY specifically. Some might call it an over-share. I call it an attempt at communicating what's there for him in his heart, what's on his mind, what he's been attempting to wrap his...hands around. It's a subject Brother Roberts has a, grasp of. Slippery little devil.

Clearly, Brother Roberts has clearly put enormous thought into the details of what SINNERS might do, very specifically, with their organs. He's going to share with us, you and I, in graphic detail, precisely what these SINNERS IN THE EYES OF GOD might do with their organs.

Sit back, relax, crack open a cold one if you've got it, press play and listen with an open heart as:

Brother Oral Roberts brings you The Wawrd of the LAWRD.

Brother Roberts (near the end of the tape):

Look at the orifices of the body, the openings in the body.

Certainly you can't put it, put the male organ or the woman's tongue in the eye.

Maybe you can touch the ear. Certainly not in the orifices of the nose or the naval. But there are a couple or three other places.

There's the mouth. There's the anus, where the poisons of the body are excreted.

You can put it there.

They didn't know how to handle IT.

There was a FIRE that rose up in them. They didn't know how to contain, everybody knows when the sexual arousal reaches a certain point, the person goes INSANE!
By the sacred ovaries of Penélopê...

Sing it Brother! Bring it on DOWN!
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