Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pity the poor moderate Republican (NOT)

Make no mistake--30 years ago, I might've been a Republican. No, not a Republican of the Tom Delay/Rick Santorum/Bob Ney variety, but rather, a Rockefeller Republican. A Millicent Fenwick-type Republican. (For those of you who don't know about this remarkable lady, she was a Congresswoman from New Jersey who was the real-life inspiration for Doonesbury's Lacey Davenport.) I can agree with the socially liberal, fiscally conservative types. Fiscal conservaatism, at least, is not a bad thing. Fiscal conservatism, as I understand it, means that you're cautious and you don't spend money you don't have. Fiscal conservatism is all but dead in today's GOP. Bush and his cast of idiots are like a bunch of spoiled Daddy's girls running amuck in Bloomingdale's waving credit cards. They are best described as "borrow and spend conservatives."

Moderate Republicans are slowly dying out. Lincoln Chafee, a decent guy who was out of place in the GOP, lost his re-election bid and has spoken of leaving for years. (Dude, just do a Jeffords. It won't kill you.) The few that remain are figureheads in the GOP. Yeah, yeah, I know Rudy is a player in the GOP primaries. People? He's a socially liberal Northeasterner who's been married three times and divorced twice. The theofascists wouldn't have him--and the theofascists are still influential in the GOP. One mention of "pro-choice/pro-gay rights," and they'll throw a snit fit.

I feel for the moderates. I really do. But that said, it would've been nice if they'd stood up to the loonies much, much sooner. People complain about the Democrats. In my opinion, there are moderates and principled, intelligent conservatives in the GOP who also failed to act as a bulwark against Bushco. Someone like Dick Lugar or John Warner can't be considered a party-before-country Repub. So how do you explain their faltering?

Two years ago, Driftglass was wondering this same thing:

Sorry bucko, this is the New Normal: while you were busy explaining to family and friends (me, for example) that the fringe Right was on a nice, tight leash and would never bust out of it's [sic] Petri dish and go pneumonic...they were busy putting all the joint property in their names. So congratulations: While you were cleverly “playing” them, you became the “fringe” and they became The Party.

In other words, while you were busy congratulating you sly self, you forgot to read the Fine Print and, brother, you gone and done joined the Klan!

So you can either get comfortable with wearing sheets and marching in formation, or run, do not walk, the Fuck Out of their Abattoir, but what you can’t do is continue this ruinous and infantile pretense that it’s not happening, or that it’s not bad, or that it’s not you fault.

It is happening.
It is that bad.
And it is ENTIRELY your fault.

So, for what seems like the umpteen millionth time, let’s take a good hard look at your new ”friends”, and then you explain to the rest of the country – and to the rest of the planet – why you persist in letting these feces-based life forms own and operate your party and act in your name.

That said, one of my favorite GOP blogs out there is Neomugwump, authored by a gay, African-American, moderate Republican minister. I know, I know. He has to have the patience of a saint to put up with all those assholes. And he is also somewhat disheartened by the outbreak of McCain's disease in the GOP ranks.

Neomugwump notwithstanding, sometimes I think there should be a bake sale--maybe we'd raise enough money so those Republic Party members who aren't foaming-at-the-mouth fruitcakes could buy a clue.

Bad things happen when good people do nothing. Dig?

Say it with me: "Thoracic cavity cake"

Yes, that is a cake you see below. A real cake. A cake that looks like a thoracic cavity. Looks appetizing, doesn't it?

Making this cake is much easier than it looks. All you need is a good copy of Grey's Anatomy and the complete guidelines for this culinary masterwork at this site and you too can enjoy dessert and explore the wonders of the human anatomy. Who would've thought that possible?

(I wonder what it would be like to stick a fork in the cake and watch the fruity filling spurt out.)

P.S. This killer rat cake looks interesting as well.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Happy happy me!

When I saw Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland," I thought "Hoo boy. We have this year's Best Actor Oscar winner." But it seemed like a long shot. No doubt, he'd be running against other actors with more name recognition. Including Peter O'Toole, who's been nominated several times.

Well, guess what? He won the Oscar! I'm so happy! Now, if the US could somehow disentangle itself from Situation FUBAR, all would be right in the world.

I almost feel sorry for the 30 percenters

At the Oscar ceremony last night, a lesbian hosted the ceremony. Another lesbian won for Best Song and thanked her wife in her acceptance speech. The wingnuts' favorite former vice president won an Oscar. So did two African-American actors. And Leo DiCaprio encouraged the audience to go green.

And now it's Monday and the Oscar parties are but a memory. But wait! Far from the liberal enclave of Hollywood (you know, where Ahnuld got his start in action films) comes a new WaPo/ABC News poll.

With Bush's approval ratings mired by the unpopular war, Americans trust congressional Democrats over Bush to handle the situation in Iraq by a margin of 54 percent to 34 percent. That is down from a 27-point gap before the president's address last month. Since that time, trust in the Democrats on the issue has slipped six points. That has not been matched by increasing confidence in Bush, but by a five-point rise in the number who trust neither the Democrats in Congress nor the president on the issue. There has also been an eight-point decline in the Democrats' advantage among independents.

Although trimmed, the Democrats maintain a substantial edge on the war in large measure because of Bush's low ratings on handling the situation in Iraq. Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling the Iraq war; 31 percent approve. And intensity continues to run against Bush on the issue: Fifty-five percent "strongly disapprove" of his work there, while only 17 percent "strongly approve" of it.

The poll results have Le Sweetie wondering aloud if Dick Cheney will get really mad and go around kicking animals.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gov. Spitzer? Your work's cut out for you

Turns out there's one legislature even lazier than the 109th Congress was. I'm talking about the New York State legislature. They only worked 65 days in 2006. They only work two to four days a week. They only work between January and June. This is not a joke, either. And they're making full-time salaries...why, exactly?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Prog blog time!

It's fellow German psych-prog legends Faust. They're not on a silly German comedy show, alas.

How to respond to homophobic morons

Have an openly gay Star Trek actor do the honors:

Maybe Mr. Takei can come up with a similar response to Michael Medved.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One thing that will make me happy

I want Forrest Whitaker to win the Academy Award Best Actor on Sunday night. If he wins, I will know that truly there is justice and righteousness in the world.

Okay, an end to Situation FUBAR would also make me really, really happy. But until then, Forrest Whitaker winning the Oscar will be the next best thing.

P.S. I also want Helen Mirren to win, but it seems she's a lock.

Prehistoric Xenas?

Remember when professional gasbag Camille Paglia huffily opined that "if civilization had been left in female hands, we would all be living in grass huts"? This is back when rehashing old, tired tripe was supposed to be shocking and radical. Here's something really shocking and radical. Anthropoligists have studied chimpanzees and now have a theory, based on the chimps' behavior, that weapons may have been invented by--surprise!--females, not males. The logic behind this is actually very sound.

The use of spears and axes to hunt and kill is commonly thought to have been pioneered among humanity's ancestors by males, but research has indicated weapons may have been a female invention that compensated for their lesser size and strength.
Anthropologists' observations of chimpanzees in Senegal have revealed they gnaw the ends of sticks to create rudimentary spears, which they use to hunt bushbabies, a small primate.

The findings are the first evidence of the systematic use of weapons in a species other than humans - and they are intriguing because all but one of the chimps using the spears were females or immature males.

This gender imbalance has led scientists to theorise that female chimps pioneered hunting with weapons as the only way in which they could compete with the physically stronger males to add animal protein to their diets. While males can hunt with their bare hands, females need weapons to help them.

"Females have to come up with creative ways at getting at a problem, whereas males have brawn," said Jill Pruetz, of Iowa State University, who led the research.

Maybe someone could mention this to Erin Solaro, who's written extensively on women in the armed forces. Somehow, allowing women in combat makes more sense. And maybe someone could send a copy to Paglia, who seems to have made this year's most unwelcome comeback as a Salon columnist. Would she stop talking about herself long enough to read it?


Note to La Hill: If you want to win voters, like the two thirds or so who think the Iraq war is a bad idea, you could try responding like this when Cheney tries to put a positive spin on Situation FUBAR.

"Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over their heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."

I'm liking Obama more and more by the minute.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

From the "homophobes with issues" department...

...comes a column that makes no sense. The columnist in question is Michael Medved, who used to write funny books about bad movies but is now just a garden-variety right-wing fruitcake. Back when the wingnuts were getting huffy about "Happy Feet," Medved suggested that the film had a "gay subtext." So if you notice your little boy acting kinda swishy after buying the "Happy Feet" DVD, you'll know why.

Well, now Medved has topped himself. Not only has he come to the defense of a dumbass homophobic athlete, but he has managed to do so while making absolutely no sense in the process. I'm linking to Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast, where I first read this thing. I'm afraid of losing too many brain cells if I spend too much time at

Here goes:

There is no rational basis for discomfort at playing with athletes of another race since science and experience show that human racial differences remain insignificant. The much better analogy for discomfort at gay teammates involves the widespread (and generally accepted) idea that women and men shouldn’t share locker rooms. Making gay males unwelcome in the intimate circumstances of an NBA team makes just as much sense as making straight males unwelcome in the showers for a women’s team at the WNBA. Most female athletes would prefer not to shower together with men not because they hate males (though some of them no doubt do), but because they hope to avoid the tension, distraction and complication that prove inevitable when issues of sexual attraction (and even arousal) intrude into the arena of competitive sports.

And the point is what? Gay men are women and shouldn't shower with straight men because it creates tension when women are in the men's locker? Could someone make sense of this?

Wait. There's more:

Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn’t welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they’d welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright “hot”) most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers. The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she’s grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her.

So...not only are gay men women, but gay men are unattractive, fat women. As someone who's wandered into the gay sections of public beaches, I have to say that this is an incorrect assumption. Mr. Medved might be interested to know that homosexual men are often quite--for lack of a better word--buff.

But maybe Medved could explain something else. He says women wouldn't feel comfortable showering men in their locker rooms but then goes on to add that NBA players would welcome a hot chick in their showers. This has what to do with gays in the NBA?

This is getting confusing. Does anyone have a wingnut-to-English dictionary so I could interpret what Mr. Medved is saying?

Why the Music Industry's Up the Creek--Part 86

After fourteen years and a kazillion false starts, Guns 'n' Roses has once again scrapped its next album. The working title, by the way, is Chinese Democracy, and Le Sweetie likes to joke that there'll be Chinese democracy before the thing is ever released.

The band announced in December that "Chinese Democracy" was tentatively due March 6, but with that date fast approaching, the album is back off the schedule.

"There is no official release date, as the band is currently mixing, but after some delays and scheduling difficulties, things appear to be moving along," reads a post on GNR's Web site.

"The good news is that all of the recording for the album has been completed," the post continues. "Drummer Frank Ferrer and guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal integrated themselves into the recordings seamlessly and will have their presence felt."

Note to Geffen Records--why is a wack job like Axl Rose still on the label? Don't you get tired of throwing money at a has-been rocker who looks like Danny Bonaduce on crack? Just cut your losses, drop this clown, and go see if there are any promising new bands out there who won't give you shit, okay?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Things to make me appreciate the subway more...

JetBlue can apologize all it wants. Its CEO can tell everyone and their brother how utterly mortified he is at passengers kept aboard planes for 11 hours. It can offer a new "passenger's bill of rights." But it's not going to live down this fiasco.

Witness You can guess what this blog's about. Blogger Genevieve is collecting stories from other JetBlue passengers. And no, I don't think she's overreacting and I don't think this is hyperbole on her part.

People, this is an abuse of customers' trust, okay? Passengers should not have to wait more than three hours aboard a plane. Period. There's a little concept the airlines should know about. It's spelled C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R S-E-R-V-I-C-E. Which means you don't keep customers eating pretzels and chips for 11 hours while the toilets overflow. Dig?

Barbara Ehrenreich adds:

If I get stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours, I plan to use my cell phone to call Homeland Security. Let’s face it, JetBlue and the rest of you: Anything more than three hours on the ground isn’t an airline delay, it’s a hostage situation.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Subway Follies continue

I go to the Long Island City in YMCA, located in (where else?) Long Island City. To get there, I take the N/W line to Queensborough Plaza and transfer to the 7. Well, most days, that's what I do. For a while, it seems my weekend workout is going to have some complications. For one thing, the 7 line is undergoing track work for the next several weeks. I'm just glad I don't have to use it regularly, unlike the poor souls who work weekends. As it turns out, in addition to the track work, well, there were some other small snags. For one thing, the Mensa candidate who suggested alternate routes of transportation gave out the wrong information.

If the MTA raises its fares again, I suspect a lot of people are going to be, uhm, upset.

Happy President's Day

I spent the last day of my three-day weekend having my landlady and her husband replace a valve in the heating pipe in my bathroom. Something overheated or burst somewhere and it leaked water onto my bathroom floor. I have a cool landlady. And her husband is cool too. You'd have to be cool to spend a national holiday fixing a valve in your tenant's bathroom.

"Vote for meeeeeee! Pleeeeeeaaaaase!!!!"

This is just pathetic. How do you treat late-stage McCain's Disease? Especially when the sufferer is the disease's namesake?

Old soft-rockers don't die. They just write rock operas

Le Sweetie e-mailed the following press release:



* * *

Due To Drop In March, The Nottingham, England Native's First-Ever Solo CD, 'The Future', Wraps Romantic Lyrics In Unique Rhythmic, Electronica and Acoustic Settings

(WFT? I thought the Air Supply dudes were from Australia. You know, like the Little River Band.)

Starting on Valentine's Day At Harrah's Casino in Kansas City, Russell Will Be Opening All Air Supply Dates With A Three Song Acoustic Set Featuring Songs From The Album

When Graham Russell was nine years old, he ventured for the first time into a forest, located just at the edge of his hometown of Nottingham, England, that has captured the Western World's imagination for over seven centuries.

And he didn't get bugbites or poison ivy. Of course not. That would ruin the whole mystique of the story, right?

Finding himself lost in the dark, dense and spooky Sherwood Forest-the real live home of the great Robin Hood legend-he says, "its magic became a part of me. I somehow felt I had returned home."

A nine-year-old kid wanders into a dark forest and doesn't start whimpering "Help, Mom, I wanna go hooooooooome"? Why does that sound far-fetched?

Now, many years, countless hit records and thousands of concerts around the world later, Russell-better known to still-rabid romantic pop music fans as one half of Air Supply, with songwriting and performing partner Russell Hitchcock-is bringing that magic to glorious and exciting musical life with his ambitious new rock opera The Heart Of The Rose.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I too was surprised to find out that these guys are still performing. Wasn't their last hit a 1984 Jim Steinman composition?

With forty pop and rock flavored songs penned by Russell and a book written by the composer, his wife Jodi Russell and noted British historical writer Graham Phillips (author of the 1988 bestseller Robin Hood: The True Story), the musical presents the real story behind the powerful Robin Hood myths that have hijacked it in our renderings of the tale since the 14th century. The Heart Of The Rose, based on the extensive historical research of Philips, is the culmination of a 20-year musical journey for Russell, who started the project at his home studio in 1987 (a few years beyond Air Supply's initial heyday) and worked on it in pieces over the years between the band's frenetic tour schedule of over 120 global dates per year.

On January 29, Russell previewed ten selections from The Heart Of The Rose for an elite group of potential investors at the penthouse home of Sandie Tillotson, owner of Nu Skin, a direct selling company that sells cosmetics, nutritional supplements and technology services; her penthouse, located in the Time Warner Building in Columbus Square, offers a 360 degree view of New York. The evening, which was a highlight of NYC based social events attended by top Broadway theatre people, included performances of Russell's songs by top singers Karla DeVito (Meat Loaf's first female partner), Tony Harnell from the Norwegian rock band TNT, Broadway vocalist Stan Brown and Russell himself. The highly successful event was capped off with cuisine and wine from Gabriel's restaurant.

Karla DeVito I've heard of. Brown and Harnell--who're they? How is this supposed to be a major social event? We're not talking about some costume ball for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, folks.

Anyhow, anyone curious about Nu Skin can check out their Web site. That is, if you're bored.

"The response was incredible, and it's especially gratifying for me because the show's been coming for a long time," says Russell.

Like a bowel movement after a nasty case of constipation.

"Everyone at the presentation echoed the wow factor of these songs, that the music just grabs hold of you and is very passionate and moving. The idea behind The Heart Of The Rose is to convey the true, heroic story of Robin Hood, out of the green tights we traditionally place him in."

Waaaaaaaaaiiiiitaminnit!!!! Robin Hood lived in the Middle Ages, okay? All the guys wore tights back then. It was a big fashion statement. What is wrong with Robin Hood wearing tights? I mean, besides the fact that he wears a tunic but no pants with them?

Russell first had the brainstorm to tell the story in the mid-70s, just as he was about to appear in the Australian production of Jesus Christ, Superstar, where he met his future Air Supply partner Russell Hitchcock. "During the show, I began to realize how a show called Sherwood could be staged," he says. "But then, something happened that put Sherwood on hold for a while. Air Supply became extremely successful, touring, recording, writing songs and playing all over the world for many years to come."

"Once I had time to dedicate to making the dream of Sherwood a reality, it took on a life of its own and came together very quickly," Russell adds. "I sang most of the roles myself at this stage, but the people that worked on the project would become immersed in it and take on their own roles. Being spurred on by Jodi, we took a trip to England to gather more historical information and completely by chance, met Graham Philips. The three of us traversed England, this time looking for the 'real' Robin Hood. What we found was a thousand times more interesting than the legend. He led us to a place that exists in all of us, whose physical embodiment is a Holly tree beside a mesmerizing pool of water, encircled by ancient stones in the very heart of England. Hidden from all until the time is right, it was a place not bound by this dimension, Robin had led us to the Heart of the Rose."

The more I read of this, the more I appreciate the Disney animated version of "Robin Hood." You know, the one with Robin Hood as a fox. That was a fun movie.

Aaaaaaaaand here's the homepage for the rock opera! The opening flash sequence has to be seen to be believed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Prog blog time!

It's the legendary Can getting funkaaaaaay on "Halleluwah." This is the band performing live in 1972.

It's a pity Damo Suzuki left the band. By 1977, they were doing silly TV shows like...uh...just click and see...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More symptoms of McCain's disease

For example, the sufferer begins to bend over backwards to please others. Example: blue-state Republican governors and mayors trying to woo the religious right wing. Uh, guys? That one's gonna be tough:

As recently as 2002, when he was running for governor against Shannon OBrien, who supports abortion rights, Republican contender Mitt Romney told Massachusetts voters, "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose."

Romney's running mate said that "there isn't a dime of difference between Mitt Romney's position on choice and Shannon O'Brien('s)."

But Tuesday, in announcing that he was running for president, Romney said, "I believe in the sanctity of human life."

He was for abortion rights before he was against it, in other words.

Let's not get started on Rudy, 'kay?

Even Giuliani has started to imply that he would support judges who might not share his views on abortion.

"I would appoint judges that interpreted the Constitution rather than invented it, understood the difference between being a judge and being a legislator," Giuliani said recently on the Fox News Channel.'s that old "legislate from the bench" meme again. Yet another symptom of McCain's disease--the sufferer becomes boring to listen to.

Meanwhile, Jane Swift, Romney's predecessor as governor of the wingnuts' favorite blue-state enclave, has come out in vocal, outspoken support of John McCain.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Restoring habeas corpus

Senator Chris Dodd has introduced the Restoring the Constitutions Act of 2007, and everyone who cares about laws, fairness, justice, and all the things Americans should be proud of should support this act. To become a citizen co-sponsor, click here.

Note: In case anyone tries to justify torture, here's a hypothetical scenario. Suppose we make an error in the war on terror? Suppose the US detains and tortures an innocent person by mistake? Suppose we capture someone who has the same name as an al Qaeda higher-up or someone who looks kinda sorta like someone on the FBI shitlist. What if an innocent man dies in a foreign prison, under the watch of the US military? Is that a possibility that the American people want to live with?

Mitt Romney has McCain's Disease

So notes All Headline News talking about Romney's presidential run:

Romney, 59, has long been considered a moderate, cast in the mold of his father, who, in the 1960s, skillfully bridged the gap between his party's economic conservatives and Michigan's powerful labor and Democratic leadership.

However, on the stump for the GOP nomination, some critics have suggested that Romney has gone out of his way to court the religious right and other conservatives who have proven critical to the success of Republican candidates.

"His rhetoric and his positions on (issues) like abortion, like gay rights, like stem cell research totally changed when he decided his focus should be on conservative votes across the country," Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore Dimasi, a Democrat, told CNN.

Romney has said that he personally opposes abortion and supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. As governor, he vetoed a bill that would have permitted embryonic stem cell research.

Romney has indicated that his views on key issues have deepened and not fluctuated in response to political necessity.

Uh huh. Suuuuuuuure. And they said Kerry was a flip-flopper. FWIW, my brother lives in Massachusetts and was not impressed with Romney as a governor. Besides, can you imagine a president named "Mitt"? Who names a kid "Mitt"? "You know, I want my kid to be an all-American type who goes to ballgames! What could be more all-American than 'Mitt'? What do you think, honey?"

Monday, February 12, 2007

You always have to look on the bright side

Last week's marrow-freezing cold did not translate into mountains of snow or rivers of ice here in New York City. (Knock wood.) Upstate New York has been less lucky. And by "upstate" I mean UPSTATE. As in near Lake Ontario. As in near the Canadian border. Meanwhile, the Hudson Valley, where I grew up, is experiencing the expected cold temperatures, but no snow (yet). Le Sweetie and I were hoping to go skiiing with friends this month, but somehow I don't think that's going to happen.

Yes, but is it tax-exempt?

Elayne Riggs notes that Norbizness has founded a new religion. Among the central tenets of this faith: "Hollywood is controlled by shitty schlock merchants who pitifully recycle television shows and movies into modern-day crapfests that attract the mentally impaired." No, I don't think Norbizness will have any trouble attracting followers. At all.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It had to happen

Brilliant at Breakfast has noted that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has begun addressing the opposition as "the REPUBLIC Party." I guess it was a matter of time before someone did, right?

Sometimes, the jokes write themselves

The headline: "'America's mayor' praises Bush in state GOP speech". Back in 2006, all the GOP candidates were trying to keep a safe distance from Dubya (fat lot of good that did). Not Rudy Giuliani. Not only is he proudly assuming the mantle of a loyal 30 percenter, he's trying to out-Bush Bush in the God soundbyte department.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, arguing that America is in desperate need of a Ronald Reagan-style optimistic vision, told California Republicans on Saturday that he wants to be a president who will "win the world for a set of ideas ... that I believe come from God."

Oh, please! Rudy, everyone remembers you as mayor here in New York. You never talked about God in the entire 8 years you ran this city. The closest you came to that old-time religion talk was when you went bonkers over a portrait of the Virgin Mary covered with elephant poop. Since when did you start mentioning the "G" word as a way of gaining political brownie points?

In his 45-minute address and in remarks to reporters afterward, Giuliani lavished praise on President Bush, insisting Bush will have "a very strong place in history," in part because of his "very brave and very wise" decision to go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We are very fortunate to have President Bush," Giuliani told the Republican delegates. "Presidents ... have to make decisions and move the country forward, and that's the kind of president I would like to be."

Rudy, maybe you should ask the Preznit why he didn't STAY in Afghanistan to capture the guy who attacked your city. And maybe you could name one example of Bush moving the country forward.

I guess we can call this McCain's Disease: a psychological disorder marked by the sudden, irrational compulsion to invoke the name of an unpopular, unsuccessful president with no major accomplishments and quite a few foreign and domestic policy disasters under his belt. It is known to afflict even relatively moderate Republicans (like Rudy). Symptoms include a craving for power and status at all costs--even principle and dignity; a willingness to say and do anything to gain acceptance of one's ideological enemies (i.e., the religious right); a sudden loss of assertiveness; and a lack of independent thought. Maybe someone should contact the American Psychological Association about making some changes to the DSM.


The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has reconsidered their decision to hire Bill-O as their keynote speaker. From their Web site:

In response to the numerous e-mails and inquiries we have received, we are providing the following update regarding the Collier County, Florida branch fundraising dinner scheduled for March 9, 2007 in Naples, Florida. Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor, will not be a speaker at the dinner. The dinner will be held as scheduled. John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted, will be the keynote speaker.

We would like to thank everyone for their comments and e-mails.

I wonder if any of those e-mails were from Shawn Hornbeck's family. Anyway, this is the right decision.

(Via News Hounds.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Commutes from hell redux

Broken Rail, Broken Subway Commute is the title of the Gothamist's latest post on yesterday's N/W line debacle. And whoopity doo--even The New York Times is reporting on it. And they're so poetic, too.

The beating of a butterfly’s wings, it is said, can lead to a hurricane an ocean away. And a break in a Manhattan subway rail, though it may lack poetry, can really foul up the morning trip to work in Brooklyn and Queens.

Mm I being really bitchy about this commute from hell? I mean, between this and last summer's blackout, it seems that Queens--or my neighborhood, at least--has gotten the short end of the stick. How about upgrading the electricity and the N/W lines? I'm getting sick to death of "track work" every other weekend...and I'm sure that plenty of 7 train riders feel the same way.

A thought on Anna Nicole Smith

Yes, it's sad that Anna Nicole Smith died.

HOWEVER, over 3,000 soldiers have been killed in Situation FUBAR since 2003.

Anna Nicole Smith leaves a baby girl who'll never know her.

Among those fallen soldiers are mothers and fathers who'll never see their children grow up.

That is all.

This is not a prog blog

Okay, Deep Purple did indeed put out a "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" at one point, but still, they are not prog. Prog blogging is taking a hiatus this week as we bring a clip that libertarian feminist rock drummer Redneck Feminist is bound to love: the classic Mark II lineup--including drummer extraordinaire Ian Paice--performing "Space Truckin'."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Commute from Hell

I hate commutes from hell. Hate hate hate.

Okay. Let me calm down and explain. I live in Astoria, Queens. I take the N and W train to work. It is the only subway line in my neighborhood. And this morning, it was not running. There was no N service. There was no W service. It was about 18 degrees outside. It was too cold to walk and too cold to bike. Even if I could bike, office buildings are notoriously pissy about bicycles.

(Side note: My office let me keep my bike in the mailroom when I rode it to work during the transit strike. It was actually FUN riding to work! Of course, there really isn't any place to keep the bike aside from the mailroom. And I had to use the freight elevator. Otherwise, I'd ride to work on a regular basis. Sigh.)

Anyway, the reason for the subway screwup was a broken rail on 59th and Lexington Avenue. That's not in Queens, people. That's in Manhattan. You can't run the N/W lines in Manhattan, but you CAN still run the trains in Queens. And in the case of the stranded commuters, there was a simple solution. From a fellow sufferer:

What boggles the mind is why they aren't doing what they normally do when there's a conflict at Lex - run the N/W as a shuttle down to Queensboro and shunt everyone off on the 7.

This is a very good question. Whenever the MTA does its periodic "track work," they simply have the N/W terminate its run at Queensborough Plaza (the final Queens stop) so passengers can transfer to the 7 line, which also stops at Queensborough and then goes into Manhattan.

Finally, some higher-up at MTA said, "Durrrr, yeah, we can still operate the N in Queens, can't we?" I caught an N and took it to Queensborough and from there I caught a 7 line into Manhattan. The trains both crawled along the tracks and I was packed in and pissed off and I got to work late. But at least I got to work.

Fucking shitty commutes. And that's my second commute from hell this week. The first one on Tuesday and the delay was due to a "sick passenger." For God's sake, if you're sick, stay home!!!! Call in sick!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fashion Week question

Why is Fashion Week held in Bryant Park under a tent? It's freezing. The runway models could get pneumonia. They're already so dangerously thin that they don't have a lot of body fat to burn to keep warm. Can't Fashion Week be held somewhere indoors?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Freak folk: The new prog?

"Welcome to Dreamland." That was the title of David Byrne's freak-folk showcase at Carnegie Hall on Friday. I was in the nosebleed seats with Le Sweetie, and I pored over what looked like an interesting bill: Cocorosie (a sister act I knew about alrady), Adem (whom I'd never heard of), Veviter (ditto), Vashti Bunyan (folk cult heroine), and Devandra Banhart (the genre's biggest stah.

A decent overview of the genre can be found here. Basically, freak-folk draws equally from '60s folk and '60s psychedelia, giving it a modern feel while acknowledging the genre's early influences, which tend to be pretty cultish acts. Nick Drake, Donovan, Sandy Denny, and lesser-known singers like Bunyan and Linda Perhacs are stylistic forerunners. If Donovan's looking for a comeback, perhaps he should consider giving Banhart a call to collaborate. As for Drake and Denny, they are, alas, no longer with us, and thus they haunt today's freak-folk scene in spirit.

Anyway. The concert. Cocorosie were the most interesting; if you're a fan of Beck's cut-and-paste musical sensibility, you might like these gals. One sister's a baby-voiced quasi-hip-hopper; the other's an operatic soprano. And somehow, everything fits together perfectly.

Adem was plain fucking boring. There's no nice way to put it. He doesn't write songs. He doesn't play songs. He just drones. How did this guy get on the bill? Was Joanna Newsom not available? Why does he get to have Vashti Bunyan sing with him when maybe a Bunyan/Cocorosie collab would be more interesting? The mind boggles.

Veviter had that 1970s Laurel Canyon country/folk vibe going. They were okay but samey. And, after a couple of songs, dull. Okay, just bring on Vashti Bunyan already.

Bunyan was terrific, with a voice that suggests a duskier Sandy Denny and shimmering songs from both the 1960s and today. It's cool to see a 1960s one-shot cult artist come back. Bunyan mainly sat there and she introduced songs in an unassuming voice but it fits the songs. Bunyan does the same thing that latter-day Kate Bush has done--she makes the normal and everyday special.

And finally, Devendra Banhart. Finally, a freak-folker who's not afraid to a. show a sense of humor and b. rawk out. And I do wish he could've played a little longer, but he seemed more content to let the other artists have the spotlight, coming out to offer backing vocals at certain moments in the show.

Le Sweetie agreed that Adem and Veviter were "sleepy." So, at this moment, the freak folkers have the potential to become as adventurous and interesting as the best prog or as dull and self-indulgent and precious as the worst prog. Banhart is smart enough to crank it up and display star power as needed; Cocorosie is artistically curious enough not to limit themselves. Humor, energy, and variety--these are the qualities of the best artists of the genre.

No. Just NO.

Okay, WHY is Bill O'Reilly a scheduled speaker at a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children? Isn't this the same scumbag who said that Shawn Hornbeck must've enjoyed spending four years as the captive of a psycho kidnapper? Which Mensa candidate invited the guy? And what do you think John Walsh has to say about all this?

Joann Donnellan, a spokeswoman for the group, says that O'Reilly is still scheduled to appear at the fundraiser, despite the Hornbeck flap.

Donnellan said Wednesday that O’Reilly’s invitation was accepted in November to help raise awareness on the issue of missing and exploited children. She said the invitation to speak to the group still stood.

“We thought he would be an interesting speaker,” she said.

Donnellan said the organization, as well as the public and O’Reilly, do not know all of the details surrounding Shawn’s abduction.

“Kids do what is necessary to survive,” she said. “In the media, we hear, ‘Why didn’t he do this? Why didn’t he do that?’ This has to play itself out and we have to give him time to heal.”

Excuse me. Ms. Donnellan? O'Reilly did not ask why Hornbeck didn't do this, that, or the other thing. Here's the exact quote, with Bill facing off with Greta van Susteren:

O'REILLY: This is what I believe happened in the Hearst case and in this case. The situation that Hearst found herself in was exciting. She had a boring life. She was a child of privilege. All of a sudden, she's in with a bunch of charismatic thugs, and she enjoyed it. The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted.

VAN SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.


VAN SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't believe this kid did. And I think when it all comes down, what's going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances.

Let's not pretend that O'Reilly was asking thoughtful questions about Hornbeck's life in captivity, okay, Ms. Donnellan? Let's not turn it into something it is not.

It's the same logic trap that Ann Coulter's apologists fall into. When she made ugly personal attacks on the "Jersey Girls," some conservatives pretended that Coulter had some "larger point" when she called these widows harpies who enjoyed losing their husbands. Take Mary "GOP Stooge and Proud" Matalin when she whined:

You lefty crazy people run around, calling us "extra chromosome" and "Hitlers" and "Nazis" and everything, and nobody says anything. She calls somebody a "harpy" and you'd think that, you know, the whole world was on fire.

Translation: "WAAAAAAAAH! The liberals are bein' mean to us! Waaaaaaaaah!"

That's a straw man argument. I don't recall these widows calling anyone Hitlers. I suspect the Matalins and the Coulters are angry because, even though these widows lost their husbands on 9/11, this did not translate into undying support for all things GWB. I'm sure right-wingers are also angry because the widows pushed for a 9/11 commission and dared to criticize the Bush administration. Thus, they tried to take Coulter's "political pornography" (TM Franken) and pretend it's something it isn't. I'm sure Matalin knows what Coulter's real point is, but it's easier to play the IOKIYAR game than criticize someone on your "team."

As Dave Neiwert wrote four years ago:

One of the important things I learned as a cops-and-courts reporter lo these many years ago was something about crime victims: That they often make themselves vulnerable to violent crimes because they are not prepared to deal with people who are sociopathic, or who exhibit antisocial or narcissistic personality disorders, or in some cases outright psychoses. That they project their own normalcy onto these other people -- they really cannot believe that someone else would act in a way substantially different from their own decent, sane base of operations.

In a way, I think this is a large part of what is happening to our national body politic: People in key positions of media and conservative ideological prominence (Coulter, Limbaugh, even Bill O'Reilly) exhibit multiple symptoms of being pathological sociopaths, either antisocial or narcissistic, or a combination of both. And not only their fellow participants in the conservative movement, but mainstream centrists and even liberals are unable to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with these people because they are projecting their own normalcy onto them. They cannot perceive because they cannot believe -- that, above all, these people are not operating within a framework guided by the boundaries of basic decency that restrain most of us.

Neiwert is absolutely right, and the blatherings of the wingnutosphere have gotten uglier and more repugnant and more indefensible with each year. It is worth noting that any left-wing counterparts to Limbaugh or O'Reilly are so obscure and so far on the fringe that the wingnuts have to manufacture left-wing media bogeymen (Ward Churchill, anyone?). I have not seen Ward Churchill invited on talk-show panels or given seven-figure book deals or signed up for newspaper columns. He has not been embraced slavishly by the left wing. I don't remember James Carville coming forward to say Churchill had a "larger point."

One of the first steps in answering the right-wing freak show is to stop pretending they're something they are not and stop pretending they have some "valid point" or "insights." They don't. They're sociopaths and should be regarded as such. And that goes for principled conservatives as well as liberals and centrists. Right-wingers should stop making excuses for these people.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Prog blog time!

Three Henry Cow alums--Chris Cutler, Fred Frith, and Tim Hodgkinson--reunited! Lovers of avant-garde, weird, and challenging music drool with delight! (I was there, folks, and it was a great show. It was also packed!)

Sick of the 2008 presidential hype yet?

I am I. And it's still only February 2007. Well, here's something to take your mind off La Hill, Obama, Joe "SHUT UP!" Biden, McCain, Rudy, and all those other wannabe deciders. Al Franken is running for Senate. Specifically, he'll be running for the Minnesota Senate seat formerly held by Paul Wellstone and currently held by Norm Coleman. This is going to be a fun race, people.