Friday, December 22, 2006

Prog Blog time!

Does Focus count as prog? Well, as you can see from the clip below, the guys had a sense of humor--which is why some people would say no, they were not prog. On the other hand, they were European (Dutch to be exact). And they did draw on the European musical tradition, what with their yodeling. And they're on Rhino's "Supernatural Fairy Tales" boxed set, along with...uh...Electric Light Orchestra. (Sorry, I like ELO, but they weren't prog.)

Oh heck, let's just call Focus prog. Here they are doing "Hocus Pocus." From the looks of things, that's Gladys Knight introducing them.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The "War on Christmas": A new, unwelcome holiday tradition

Yes, it looks as if the "war on Christmas" hype is going to become an annual event, right along with "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Only the "war on Christmas" is nowhere near as amusing. Now, I am one of the few people I know who actually likes all those things that people are supposed to hate about Christmas--the carols piped over the loudspeakers, the holiday window displays, the search for the perfect Christmas gifts for a family that, believe me, is next to IMPOSSIBLE to shop for. They never can figure out what the heck they want. Le Sweetie is somewhat better in this regard, but even he is known to say, "I don't care as long as it comes from Boo." (Boo being me.)

Anyway, I like Christmas, and the war-on-Christmas chickenhawks are getting on my nerves. John Gibson's silly book is out in paperback, and I wouldn't be surprised if it makes repeated appearances on the bookshelves each holiday season. Bill O'Reilly, meanwhile, blathers on about this "war" that Christmas lovers are supposed to be fighting against the mean people who say "Season's Greetings" and point out that there are Jews and Hindus and Muslims who don't celebrate Christmas.

Let me tell you something. I live and work among lots of people who don't celebrate Christmas. I like to give them presents and send them cards. I always send cards that say "Happy Holidays" and "Peace on Earth" and "Season's Greetings." Some of the recipients are clearly Jewish, and some I'm not so sure about. So I figure it's best to err on the side of courtesy. Apparently, the Christmas warriors think this is a problem.

Let me state the obvious: Christmas has not been banned. Nobody is stopping John Gibson or Bill O'Reilly or any Faux News viewers from putting up Christmas trees. Nobody is stopping radio stations from playing Christmas carols and nobody is having Christmas television specials pulled off the air. There. Is. No. War. On. Christmas. Not that Gibson or Reilly would admit to this. The myth of a "war on Christmas" has meant book contracts and TV ratings for them and their fellow Christmas warriors.

But if they truly had faith in what the holiday's all about, maybe they'd follow the lead of Nation columnist (and proud atheist) Katha Pollitt. Every year, Pollitt publishes a list of little-known but deserving charities. The holiday season in general is an inclusive time of the year, when co-workers mingle at holiday parties and people donate toys to poor children and New York Cares holds its annual coat drive. When religion doesn't matter as much as generosity and open-heartedness. People don't need--or want--the punditocracy to observe Christmas for them. They can do it just fine on their own.

Besides, if you're one of those busybodies who just has to shove the spirit of Christmas down people's throats, then you never really had it in you to begin with.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sigh...there goes another part of my childhood

Joseph Barbera, R.I.P. I especially miss all those Saturday morning cartoon rock bands. Josie and the Pussycats truly kicked ass.

You you you are Person of the Year!

Yes, Time has voted YOU to be the Person of the Year. A wise choice, given that the alternative would've been the following:

a. Make Bush Person of the Year in light of his emerging legacy as Worst! Preznit! Ever!
b. Make Rummy Person of the Year and dwell on Situation FUBAR in all its messy detail.
c. Make Al Gore Person of the Year for "An Inconvenient Truth."
d. Make Nancy Pelosi, first female House Speaker, Person of the Year.
e. Make the GOP Party of the Year in light of the beating the party took in the elections this year.
f. Make the Democrats Party of the Year in light of the party's electoral gains, with a nice side look at the netroots and its role in electing Democrats to Congress.

Nice rightie newsweekly that it is, Time was unlikely to make any of the above choices. Acknowledge that the magazine's 2004 Person of the Year isn't really much of a revolutionary thinker? No way. Rather than deviate from the same political talking points of the past five or so years, Time took an easy way out and made you--yes, YOU!--Person of the Year. I'm almost tempted to pick up a copy and see if they made any mention of netroots amidst the column space devoted to blogs and YouTube and the information age. Maybe they'll ask Karl Rove to weigh in on ActBlue.

Over at HuffPo, Nora Ephron reacts to Time's cover story with some amusement. Man, I wish she'd stick to writing full time from now on. She. Is. Really. Funny.

Someone still likes Bush. How nice.

From Impolitic comes a missive from proud 30 percenter Fred Barnes, who got to schmooze with Bushco at the White House Christmas party. Something tells me the brown on Barnes' nose isn't from the chocolate fondue.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fun reading, blogosphere style

In this (fairly) old post, Drifting the Grift defines three kinds of libertarians: faux, hardcore, and sensible.

Amber Rhea concludes that UPS sucks rocks. If she thinks UPS is bad, she should try Airborne Express/DHL or whatever that tenth-rate delivery service calls itself. I work with a typesetter that uses Airborne Express regularly, probably because it's cheap. Well, there's a reason it's cheap.

Situation FUBAR update: As Rummy departs, Bush says they've "been through war together." Twisty has the scrapbook.

Wingnuts, meet facts. Facts, meet wingnuts.

Larry Johnson tries to keep food down while reading about Bush/Cheney's tribute to Rummy.

Keith Olbermann, for pete's sake: Forget about Bill O'Reilly. He's a head case with bad dandruff, and anyone stupid enough to listen to him is beyond help anyway.

Once -- just once -- would you please name the REAL "Worst Persons in the World"?

On a happier note, Johnson has some ideas for charitable giving. Speaking for myself, I recommend Heifer International and have already sent them a check.

Philly Soul Sundays!

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Since I received my brand new stereo system, a Christmas gift from Le Sweetie, I've been listening to The Spinners' self-titled album. It's the one featuring "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and "I'll Be Around." Classic soul of the Philadelphia variety, made even more special by Phillip Wynne's aw-shucks vocal stylings and Thom Bell's production. And I'm left to wonder why Philly Soul is underrepresented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aside from the equally great O'Jays, none of them have even been nominated. You'd think that Bell or Gamble & Huff would be shoo-ins in the nonperformer category, but that doesn't seem to be the case. There are no Spinners, no Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, nobody. This is weird and kind of sucky. Who does the nominating and who votes these guys in? C'mon, we've got a serious imbalance here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bob Barr for President?!?

Yes, Freedom Democrats reports that Bob Barr has left the GOP for the Libertarian Party and is considering a presidential run on the LP ticket. Aside from the fact that he's a homophobic right-wing hypocrite who wasted money and energy on the Clinton impeachment, Barr would be an intriguing candidate.

This switcheroo isn't really a surprise. Back in 2004, Barr was seriously unhappy with the GOP, to the point where he wasn't even voting for Bush. But let's not think of this guy as a principled maverick. If he were still in the House, I suspect Barr would be just another rubber-stamp Republican. As far as GOP politicians go, he's like a cross between George Allen, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh:

Barr has been embroiled in controversy several times during his career. In 1998 he delivered the keynote speech at the national convention of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is viewed by many as white supremacist; he later stated he had not known the group's views until after the speech. His speech did not deal with race, however, and Barr publicly distanced himself from the council. Barr has also suffered attacks for his conservative stance on family values, which left-wing periodical Mother Jones deemed hypocritical: "Married three times and embroiled in a messy court battle with his second wife over his failure to pay child support, Barr had been photographed in 1992 licking whipped cream off two buxom young women's breasts and nipples. And this from the man who would later sponsor the Defense of Marriage Act." In the wake of Barr's adamant support for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, porn mogul Larry Flynt paid Barr's second wife, Gail Vogel Barr, for details of the child support battle and of her abortion. This caused significant political troubles for Barr, noted for his strong pro-life stance.

Now, he's a conservative libertarian who believes in privacy rights. Sorry, but I just don't trust this guy. The only thing to distinguish him from the current GOP goon squad is his opposition to the neocons...and in this case, it just ain't enough. In his Creative Loafing piece, Barr talks about the flourishing economy and budget surplus that Bush 43 inherited. And who was responsible for that? The very guy Barr was trying to have removed from office.

Overrated people

Let's start with John McCain. Since positioning himself as a maverick didn't pan out, he has become one of those more-of-the-same Republicans who simply does. not. get. it.

So Laura Bush wore the same red suit that three or four other women were wearing? This nonentity of a First Lady had to get publicity for something, right? Is she popular with anyone? If so, why?

Barack Obama's a cool dude, but I hope he holds off on a run for president until he has some more experience under his belt. He's the kind of uniter--as opposed to divider--that this country needs, but he just. won. office. two years ago. Let him build a reputation as the kind of independent straight-talker that McCain was supposed to be before we start talking about a presidential run.

And La Hill? I'm ambivalent about her. Smart lady, but she' hasn't given the public any good reason to support her in 2008. At least not yet.

I'd love to see some fresh blood in 2008. No more Bushes or Clintons. Maybe a good governor who could do what Bill Clinton did in 1992--come out of nowhere and win an election. It would be interesting to see Janet Napolitano or Kathleen Sebelius run, but their names never come up as presidential candidates. Sigh...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More on libertarians and Republicans

I'm confused. Why would any libertarian ally himself with today's Republican party? Perhaps once upon a time, when the GOP promoted fiscal restraint, lower taxes, and smaller government, it would've been pretty understandable. But now? Please. Those libertarians who throw their lot in with the Republican party seem to be suffering the political equivalent of battered spouse syndrome.

Really, what's so "libertarian" about the current crop of Republicans? The party that doles out welfare money to corporations, inserts itself into end-of-life decisions, has expanded the government in the last six years, and spends money like there's no tomorrow? The party that gave us the Patriot Act and promotes warrantless wiretapping? And why wouldn't any libertarian be aghast at the flap over gay marriage? Aside from the fact that it's a useless sop thrown to the theocon base, it's an example of the government telling mature adults what they can or can't do. Yet libertarians are mysteriously silent on the issue.

Long story short: there is NOTHING libertarian about today's Republican party. Freedom Democrats spells it out in more detail.

Avedon Carol takes a different tack. She's deeply unimpressed with the current crop of libertarians, suggesting they're not so much libertarian as anti-liberal:

How else to explain their willingness to call themselves conservatives rather than liberals, and to support Republicans rather than Democrats, even when conservatives/Republicans are clearly embarked on projects that directly conflict with libertarian principles? Identification with conservatism and support of Republicans is about no other principle than the hatred of liberals. It isn't even necessarily liberalism they hate (although they clearly despise any token or talisman that is associated with liberalism), since most of the libertarian program is itself primarily liberal. Yet they refuse to see themselves as part of liberalism, even when the only people who do not oppose them (on, say, drug laws) are liberals. Despite every evidence that the biggest and most oppressive programs come from conservative Republicans, they insist on identifying with the right wing.

She's got a point. After all, Mary Matalin has called herself a libertarian, and she's basically a Bush/Cheney flunky. There's nothing libertarian about Bush or Cheney. "Libertarian" seems to be a term for those conservatives who want to present themselves as "edgy" and "hip." Matalin is about as edgy and hip as a cinderblock.

Needless to say, left-libertarians do exist, although they're not as visible as their right-wing counterparts. Drifting Through the Grift ponders the eternal puzzle of why this is so, and divides libertarians into two groups: Financials and Socials. Financials are, of course, the free-market gang; Socials believe in personal liberty and privacy rights. He depicts today's libertarian movement as a big tent: "There is room for all and we accept that our differences are not disloyalty but rather continue to advance the discussion." But he still doesn't answer the question of why some so-called libertarians continue to support a party stands for everything they oppose. And before anyone trots out the old "free market" talking point, I'd like ask how corporate subsidies and bloated mega-corporations fit into the picture.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Enough to drive Bruce Tinsley to drink...

Situation FUBAR is dragging down Bush's approval ratings.

(CBS) Americans believe the war in Iraq is going badly and getting worse, and think it's time for the U.S. either to change its strategy or start getting out, according to a CBS News poll.

Forty-three percent say the U.S. should keep fighting, but with new tactics, while 50 percent say the U.S. should begin to end its involvement altogether. Only 4 percent say the U.S. should keep fighting as it is doing now.

Just 21 percent approve of President Bush's handling of the war, the lowest number he's ever received, and an 8-point drop from just a month ago. Most of that drop has been among Republicans and conservatives. Three-quarters of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling Iraq.

(Emphasis mine)

Who's this 21 percent who still approve, anyway?

When the going gets bad...

...the bad become Fox News commentators. Everyone's favorite disgraced congressman-turned-blogger has found a new gig bloviating on Fox. Anyway, Susan over at Kiss My Big Blue Butt has been having fun at her former congressman's expense. On "Hannity & Colmes," DeLay has been repeating the classic "waaaaaaah, it's the liberal Democratic media's fault and it's not fair!" talking point to explain his legal troubles, Situation FUBAR, and just about any other misfortune he could come up with.

Man, how could a congressional Big Bad be such a dullard?

I'm desperately hoping, meanwhile, that Fox News gives Rick Santorum a regular gig. They could have the "Ricky and Zell Hour." That would be long as Zell doesn't get mad and challenge Li'l Ricky to a duel on the set.

If it ain't "Happy Feet," it's soy

No, this is NOT a joke.

Annoy a wingnut: drink a soy latte

This sure explains a lot

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Via Rising Hegemon comes the news that a certain humor-challenged right-wing cartoonist has been arrested for DUI. This is his second offense. Makes you wonder if he's been writing and drawing under the influence as well.

UPDATE! We have an update! One nice blogger with a strong stomach has compiled a whole bunch of Mallard Fillmore strips that mention Ted Kennedy, Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick, Ted Kennedy being drunk, drunk Democrats, and drunk driving. Ah yes, it's another one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do types. Admit it, this is really shocking.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Because it bears repeating...

Joe Biden should SHUT UP!!!

This looks to be fuuuuuun...

Yes, Tom Delay, the oily Texas congressman who won't go away, has decided to blog. Only I don't think he realized all the work that went into blogging before he set up his new home away from home on the net. For one thing, people who read blogs often leave comments. And with a high-profile blogger like the Hammer is sure to be inundated with comments. Unfortunately, the comments were mostly negative, as Mr. DeLay is a very unpopular public figure. He even screwed over his party when he resigned from Congress after winning the primary, thus ensuring that he would have to stay on the ballot...and increasing the chance for a Democratic win. Long story short--Mr. DeLay's replacement in Congress is a Democrat. The GOP can't be happy about this.

At any rate, visitors to Mr. DeLay's blog had a lot of fun at his expense before he turned off the comments option. However, shutting the comments down won't make them go away. Note all the unregistered commenters with names like Jack Abramoff, Ann Coulter, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Rick Santorum. Note also the frequent references to a possible future stay in prison. Not to mention some guy called John W. who keeps thinking of new ways to say, "You are a fucking moron."

Meanwhile, over at Kiss My Big Blue Butt (formerly Juanita's Beauty Salon), a former constituent of Tommy Boy offers this knee slapper:

Okay, here's the best part of DeLay Blog. The Hill says it'll be an organization like moveon dot org.

Except, I think in Tom's case, it should be named goback dot org.

Look, and I'm being perfectly serious about this, Tom is just looking for another way for somebody else to pay his green fees. Just watch - within three months will be spending money for golf trips with corporate jets. I'll betcha.

Americans are treasonous moonbats. Film at eleven

Here be some poll results to prove it. Of course, the Republican respondents are, by and large, still drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to Situation FUBAR.

Harry Reid interview

Bob Geiger interviews the new Senate Majority leader. It seems that the right wing echo chamber is going to be in for a letdown. The politics of revenge and vindictiveness are now a thing of the past. The 110th Congress will be involved in other pursuits--like, I dunno, making laws and all that boring stuff.

It's great reading, but the most telling moment is when Geiger brings up the "I" word with Reid:

Geiger: House Speaker-elect Pelosi took some heat when she made the statement that the subject of impeachment is "off the table." Now, those of us who understand that politics is probably 99 percent gray and very little black and white, looked at it and said that it's probably not something that an incoming Speaker should say or that an incoming Majority Leader should say -- that they're specifically going after the president.

But that said, isn’t there a big difference between that and any investigations that might happen and, without benefit of a crystal ball, acting on whatever results may come from those investigations?

Reid: I haven't been interested in impeachment for some time because of two words: Dick Cheney. I think that there's a significant difference between impeachment and investigations. We have to have investigations. We have to have our Intelligence Committee complete the work they started on investigating how we went to war. That's an investigation. We would be derelict in our duties by not doing that.

This sort of confirms what I suspect--Bushes 41 and 43 chose their vice presidents not on merit but as insurance against assassination or impeachment.

Reid says he'll to bring an end to the nucleaar option, calling it "anti-Senate" and "anti-American." Also on the table is the long-overdue minimum wage increase. It would be really great if that horrible torture law was overturned as well. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Prog Blog Time!

A solo turn from Chris Squire of Yes. Looks like he forgot to change out of his bathrobe before heading to the studio. Note Patrick Moraz on keyboards and Bill Bruford on drums.

Speaking of Bruford, here he is with King Crimson. Dig the insane percussionist. What is it about Bruford that inspires his bandmates to wear silly clothes?

Meanwhile, over in Canterbury, we have the less goofily dressed Soft Machine:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oh no. Not him again...

I repeat--Joe Biden should just SHUT UP!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gah! Nickelback! WHY WHY WHY?

Oh dear. It looks like Atrios has discovered that Nickelback exists. YIKES! I have exactly one Nickelback song on my iPod. It's called "How You Remind Me of Someday" and it's a mashup of two of their biggest hits, to demonstrated that the songs sound almost exactly alike. Cookie cutter music making at its total, absolute, corporate worst. Apparently, a lot of Portuguese people at a rock festival felt the same way. Sucky as the band is, a chorus of boos would've been more effective (and less harmful) than throwing rocks. That said, it did cut the band's set mercifully short.

President Bush pretends to face reality

Yeah, it's old mop water sold in new, sparkly perfume bottles, but the Preznit is pretending to share your pain over Situation FUBAR. Short President Bush: Yes, I know two thirds of this country thinks it's a mistake, but I'm continuing with Situation FUBAR and nothing's going to change. And no, I don't care if this rhetoric makes you yawn. I'm the decider, remember?

Oh boy...even RUMMY wanted to reduce troops!

Yes, before he quit, Rumsfeld sent Bush a memo regarding possible solutions to Situation FUBAR. It is supposed to be a very interesting document, and one that has war critics grinning from ear to ear.

In the memo, first reported Saturday by The New York Times on its Web site and titled "Illustrative New Courses of Action," Rumsfeld describes a "range of options" for the White House to consider. Many of them involve sharply drawing down U.S. troop presence in Iraq by mid-2007.

"Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) -- go minimalist," Rumsfeld suggested. For instance, he proposed an accelerated shuttering or consolidation of most U.S. military bases in Iraq.

"We have already reduced from 110 to 55 bases," he wrote. "Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007."

Another option: withdrawing U.S. forces from vulnerable positions, such as cities and patrols, and moving them to a "Quick Reaction Force" status, in which they would operate from within Iraq and neighboring Kuwait.

Rumsfeld also proposed keeping high-end special operations forces in Iraq to target al-Qaida, death squads, and Iranians, but "drawing down all other Coalition forces," except for key U.S. advisers.

He suggested a new approach in which U.S. forces would only provide security for those provinces or cities that openly request it -- "and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province."

In areas where there is continued violence, Rumsfeld proposed that U.S. forces stop helping Iraqis, particularly with reconstruction efforts.

"As the old saying goes, 'If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it,' " he wrote.

All told, such drawdown efforts would send a strong signal to Iraqis, Rumsfeld said. He described it as "taking our hand off the bicycle seat, so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country."

Oh my. This is awfully close to what Democrats and other threats to the nation have been suggesting. No wonder Rummy left.

Friday, December 01, 2006

One more thought on the Happy Feet flap

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What does the wingnutocracy think of those old cartoons where Bugs Bunny routinely outsmarts Elmer Fudd? It's a slap in the face of American gun owners! An insult to hunters! Not to mention a storyline that would warm the hearts of the eco-wackos and the PETA crowd. Quick, someone give Glenn Beck a call!