Saturday, May 27, 2006
His approval ratings are lower than Hugh Hefner's sperm count. His only chance of dodging impeachment is keeping a thoroughly corrupted Republican Congress on Capitol Hill.
But he can't be seen as helping them... Along comes William Jefferson to help him out. Since Jefferson is a corrupt Democrat, he can stop corruption investigations without looking partisan. So the White House joined in with demands from both parties' congressional leaders (Including Dennis Hastert, the target of a corruption investigation himself)to demand that all materials (Presumably including the $90,000 in cash stuffed in the freezer) be returned to Representative Jefferson.
How about that? Bush's first real attempt at being bipartisan, and he screwed it up.
There is no "separation of powers" issue. If you or I took $100,000 from an illegal source, were recorded promising illegal activity in exchange for it, and had it stuffed in Tupperware containers in the freezer, we would be sitting in a jail cell right now. No two ways about it.
And the president, of course, has never seen any form of corruption that he didn't like. As Groucho Marx sang in the movie "Duck Soup", "If anyone's caught taking draft, and I don't get my share/ I'll stand them up against the wall and pop goes the weasel!" Yes, Tony Soprano gets a cut of all the money Paulie Walnuts makes.
And this morning, news reports are coming out of DC that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller are going to resign if they are forced to turn materials back over to Jefferson.
I never thought I would find myself agreeing with the guy that called the Geneva Conventions "quaint".
But even a broken clock is right twice a day.
I could bench 300, although if I wanted to go for multiple reps, I had to bring the weight down to about 245. Before some knee injuries, my squats were routinely done with more than 400 pounds.
At the time, my legs were muscular enough that finding jeans was a challenge. If I bought a pair that was loose enough in the thigh to be comfortable, the waist was too big. At that point in my life, I was leg pressing roughly 700 pounds as a one rep max.
So I'm simply astounded that Pat Robertson claims to have leg pressed 2000 pounds because of the protein shake he's hawking. Come to think of it, so is the Guiness Book, which lists the current world record at 1335 pounds. So are exercise equipment manufacturers--- They know their products can't hold that much weight.
There's even a video of him "allegedly" leg pressing 1000 pounds. I've got a theory about how this video was shot.
Many years ago, WWF wrestlerAdrian Adonis had a storyline where he was going for a new world record in bench pressing. I forget the exact amount that he was lifting (I wasn't watching, but I heard about it later from other wrestlers that worked out at my gym), but he was supposedly breaking a new world record with it.
The bench press that he ACTUALLY did was quite astonishing, but nowhere near a world record. The rest of the barbell was filled with dummy 45 pound plates to make it look like he was lifting about 200 more than he was.
The use of dummy plates is quite common. Think about an actor shooting a scene where he's lifting weights. They shoot the same scene eight times from varying angles even if he's lucky enough to get his lines right the first time. A real person lifting real weights would be so exhausted after all that that they couldn't move.
So rather than buy his crappy shake, we should really give props to the prop department for helping Pat Robertson make a ludicrous claim.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Yes, Classic Arms has been robbed twice in the last two weeks. Twenty-five pistols were taken from the shop in the wee hours of the morning. They join the twenty taken from the shop last week in the hands of people that can't buy guns through legitimate sources.
I've debated gun control with dozens of people in the past. In fact, I'm currently embroiled in a terrific debate with Jeff over at Pesky Fly on this issue. The one thing that the pro-gun crowd seems to say over and over (Though thankfully not Jeff) is that criminals usually commit crimes with illegal guns.
This illustrates how easy it is to turn that perfectly legal killing machine that leaves the factory into an illegal gun in the hands of someone that may well use it in a driveby. All it takes is someone so sloppy or apathetic that they can't secure their guns, and the streets are flush with firearms destined for the waistband of a criminal's pants.
Yes, apparently, Classic Arms is run by Goober and Gomer. Despite being the targets of a break-in just last week, their security was so lax that the sophisticated method that the criminals used to steal an illegal weapons stockpile consisted of throwing something heavy through the window. Ingenius security system you guys have there.
I realize how ridiculously lax gun laws are in this state. But if you're going to get a license as a firearms dealer, you better damn well have a security system more sophisticated than any self-respecting bakery would have.
Yes, they cost a little bit of money to install-- But come on. Those steel curtains like you see on any liquor store on Winchester after closing time are certainly cheaper than replacing your plate glass window once a week.
45 guns on the streets in two weeks because the people that run Classic Arms are either too apathetic or incompetent to secure their stockpiles.
Take their licenses. They obviously lack the sense of responsibility required to keep a gun in the building. We don't give them to kids. We don't give them to monkeys. And we sure don't give them to Gomer and Goober for safekeeping.
Incidentally, his coverage of this story earns Cameron Harper of Channel 24 News the Ted Baxter Award for sheer stupidity in journalism.
The classic line that earned him the award?
"Yeah, it looks like his store was targeted specifically for the guns."
And of course, this is Memorial Day Weekend--- That time of year that we gather around to remember our fallen soldiers by... shopping.
I've been bombarded by Memorial Day sale emails. Circuit City, Best Buy, CompUSA, and let's not even get into my junk mail folder (Okay, penile enlargement might be okay, but if I'm a customer for that, what are the odds that I might need all natural breast enhancement too? Okay, theoretically, I may be Marilyn Manson).
But is this really what Memorial Day is supposed to be about? Is Memorial Day supposed to be about 25% discounts at Crazy Bob's Stereo Store?
Here's a radical proposal for Memorial Day---
Take the day off from shopping. The only way to reverse the crass commercialization of dead soldiers is to make sure that the pricks that make their employees work that day have a really shitty one.
Freed up some time by doing your shopping early? Good.
A great way to spend it is by watching the HBO show "Baghdad ER". It will be shown again at 9PM CST on Memorial Day (In horrifyingly high definition for those who have it). As you watch these heartbreaking stories play out on your television screen, you can't get this one thought out of your head: We have to stop this.
Perhaps THAT is truly the best way to honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day--- By thinking about ways to keep from adding to their number.
Tomorrow is the official opening of Steve Cohen's campaign headquarters. It's a great location--- It's in the same building as the TCBY on Union at McLean. There will be free food and drinks, and live music from someone whose name I didn't catch (Sorry!).
If you're not busy tomorrow, the grand opening is from 11-2. Steve Cohen is a great candidate and a great guy--- Stop by and meet him.
1. And George the Elder spake unto Barbara of Kennebunkport, formerly Barbara of New York, and said “We shall name him George as well. God smiles upon him by granting him my knowledge of economics.”
2. And Barbara of Kennebunkport said “I know not whether our son shares your knowledge of economics. I do know that he very nearly hung himself upon the umbilical cord. Perchance he not be the most productive oil well in the field?”
3. “Perhaps it is so”, George the Elder said. “Our children lead me to believe they womb be tainted, fair Barbara.”
4. “Even the most fertile field yields a perverted crop when fertilized by a dullard,” Barbara of Kennebunkport replied.
5. “The child drooleth muchly,”: George the Elder said, not trying to hide his disgust. “Give it yon pretzel to chew on and soak that up.”
1. Not much is known of George the Younger as he grows up. Time runneth around him as though he cease to exist. ‘Tis a pattern that appears again during Vietnam.
2. George the Younger gathered yon Twelve Apostles around. He said “Kenny Boy, if a leper asketh for alms, what shouldst I do?”
3. And the Apostle Kenny Boy said “Thou art a decent soul, George, but too kind. What thou shouldst do is think about the amount of alms that thou wouldst have given the leper and give it to the energy industry in his stead.”
4. And George said “But… What of his hunger? If a leper starveth to death, are we not supposed to help?”
5. And the Apostle Rummy spake, saying “Nah. If you let him eat once, he’ll want to eat again. Over time, it eats into the military budget.”
6. The Apostle Condi said “We must split the money evenly between the military and the energy industry.”
7. The Apostle Rush said “The Apostle Condi speaks wisely. She was only appointed because she’s black and the liberal media was desirous of having a black woman apostle. But she has done much with the position. She’s miving on up. To the East Side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky. Has anyone seen my… um… vitamins?”
8. The Apostle Hastert snapped Rush’s man bra strap. Angered muchly, Rush popped Hastert’s man bra strap.
9. And George sayeth “What sayeth the Apostle Strom?”
10. The Apostle Dick said “George, how many times must we tell you? Strom hath been dead for thirty years. We carried him all these years like Weekend at Bernie’s, pretending him to be alive so that a Democrat might not win his seat. We had to give it up two years ago when his head fell off.”
11. And George sayeth “So… If we feed a starving man, he’ll only want to eat again, and that will make the military weak. So only people that hate America want to feed the hungry.”
12. Rummy sayeth “Finally, he gets it!”
13. “No financial help for the starving,” sayeth George.
14. “Halleleujah!” sayeth the other eleven apostles as the Apostle Rush muncheth his… um… vitamins.
15. “Plenty of financial help for those who don’t need it, right?” George asketh.
16. “Yes! Hallelujah!” the apostles shout.
17. “Finally,” sayeth George, “I am ready to be president!”
18. The apostles grew silent. Whether at the statement or all the pretty colors that danced before his eyes, even Rush grew silent.
19. Rummy leaned over to Dick and spake “Um… Shall we tell him he’s president already?”
20. Dick leaned over to Rummy and said “Verily, I would say nothing if thou wouldst say nothing.”
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Dear Friend: YOU are invited to join Governor Phil Bredesen on Thursday, June 8th, as part of his re-election campaign's "Statewide Kickoff Tour." Phil will be stopping by the Rendezvous Restaurant, 52 South 2nd Street, in Memphis that day at 11 a.m. We hope to see you there! Tell your friends and neighbors to join us!
Quick--- Restrict Donkey's access to tomatoes!
Apparently, he was the only person in the world dumb enough to believe that Stephen Colbert was actually a right winger after the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Take a look at the email sent out by the Tom DeLay Legal Defense Fund, courtesy of ThinkProgress:
Hollywood liberal and Michael Moore wannabe Robert Greenwald (known for his attacls on Wal-Mart and Fox News) crashed and burned on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report (watch it at http://www.defenddelay.com) when promoting his new attack on Tom DeLay. He even admits their reason for producing the movie (and clearly Ronnie Earle's reason for participating) - to keep Republicans from gaining power in Congressional seats across the country. Tom DeLay was successful in bringing legal and constitutional redistricting to Texas, and since Democrats couldn't win in the legislature or at the ballot box, they used the only resources they had left - liberal Hollywood and a nutty, partisan DA with limited knowledge of the facts and the law. The producers of this political mockumentary claim they were trying to put together a fair and balanced piece, yet what they put out is a piece of leftist propaganda with the cooperation of District Attorney Ronnie Earle.
I now see that Autoegocrat posted this over at Pesky Fly earlier. I just now saw it. My bad, guys.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
I predict that tickets for this will be a big seller. I also predict that most of the crowd will be disappointed when Joe Frazier takes it easy on him and stops short of beating him into a coma.
Monday, May 22, 2006
But after a tumultuous, on-again off-again relationship, alcohol and I are parting ways. Thankfully, I think I'll be the one to keep the friends after the split.
If you're out there and you're reading this and you drink, you know as well as I do that it's never good to be the drunkest guy at the party. Saturday night, I was that guy. Or at least, I'm fairly sure I was.
Sarah of Drinking Liberally had invited me to her husband's birthday party. My original goal was to stick around long enough to say hello, then go home and prepare for something I was a little nervous about that was going on the next day.
One drink led to another, which led to another, which led to... Fuck, I don't remember.
I do remember that there was a stunningly beautiful woman there. And I know she was beautiful--- I noticed her long before being fitted for a pair of rum goggles. She was so gorgeous and so young-looking that I thought she was some 20-year-old that I wouldn't know how to talk to. Turns out she was my age, had a great sense of humor, and seemed very smart.
I'm sure I made a hell of an impression--- I forgot what I was saying to her in mid-sentence. As I replayed it in my mind later that night, trying to remember what I was babbling about, it occurred to me that I got my age wrong when I was telling her how old I was. I didn't intentionally mislead her--- I simply forgot about having a birthday last August.
If by some random miracle, she's out there reading this, I'm sorry. I don't think I did anything horribly offensive (At least I hope), but I'm not typically the babbling jackass you saw the other night.
If I did anything horrible and offensive at the party, please allow me to apologize. I don't really recall it all that much, so if you told me I fessed up to being the second gunman on the grassy knoll, I'm not sure I could do much to dispute it.
But rest assured, it will not happen again. I don't like being out of control.
I can go months on end without touching alcohol. So this isn't a thing where I'll be running off to AA meetings or anything.
The problem is that once I get started, I don't stop. I was telling a friend about this last night, and he compared me to the X-Men character Juggernaut.
You would think I would know better by now. My Father's own love of alcohol led to his painful and prolonged death at about this time last year.
I can't walk that road. I've got entirely too much to do.
I'll stil go to all the drinking-themed events that I always have, so I'll see all my friends. But I'm through with alcohol.
You probably won't see too many changes--- I loosen up and speak a little easier when I've got a few drinks in me. But the fine line between locquatious and incoherent sneaks up on me. And talking does me no good if I fail to make sense.
So you'll all see me again soon--- But I doubt you'll ever meet the fool from the party the other night again.
In a scenario that will sound eerily familiar to those of us still wincing over Tennessee Waltz, he took $100k from an FBI agent posing as a businessman trying to purchase some influence for a communications deal in Nigeria. He had also asked that a large cut of the proceeds from the deal be distributed to businesses owned by his children.
A few thoughts on this:
- This illustrates the difference between Democrats and Republicans. I for one an looking forward to seeing Jefferson go to jail for this. When Duke Cunningham or Tom DeLay do something similar, the right wing talking heads line up to say that arresting them is an attempt to "illegalize conservative politics".
- Bechtel and Halliburton gave money hand over fist to the Bush/ Cheney presidential campaigns. In exchange, Bush installed a former Bechtel executive as president of Afghanistan, and the two have yet to find a disaster that Halliburton doesn't get to clean up on in some way. How are these two bribery cases different? One is illegal and filthy, and the other is perfectly legal and filthy. One has a staggering body count, and the other doesn't.
- Could someone tell me how this is radically different from Tom DeLay accepting a $200,000 holiday at the expense of the child slavers of the Marianas Islands, then coming home to block a bill by fellow Republican Ed Murkoski that would have applied US labor laws to a US territory? Thanks to "Hot Tub Tommy", a garment can now be sewn together by an eleven year old making 12 cents a day and it can carry the "Made in the USA" tag.
The media is treating this like it's something abnormal. But isn't it really just a more blatant example of what actually happens in this country every day?
If William Jefferson takes $100k to walk some favorable legislation through the House for a business interest, it's bribery. I don't dispute that.
But if the banking industry "donates" $109,746 (Not counting investment firms) to the campaign of an unnamed hometown Congressman before he votes against the interests of his constituents on the Bankruptcy Reform Act, how is it that different?
Whether you call it business bribing representatives of representatives extorting business by refusing to vote without a donation, it adds up to the same thing. And the only thing that's going to take it all away is changing our system to a publicly financed campaign system.
I know it will never happen--- I told someone just the other night that you couldn't swing a dead cat in Washington DC without hitting five Democrats that oppose publicly financed elections.
But if you look at the motives of the people that oppose it--- Aren't we better off without them anyway
Don't get me wrong--- They're still selling quite a few varieties of the "Squeeze a half pound of lard between two pieces of bread" sandwiches, as well as the McNuggets of Dubious Anatomical Origin.
But their new salad line is actually pretty good. I just picked up one of their fruit salads, and it actually comes with a workout DVD.
Is this the beginning of a new philosophy? Are we going to see other fast food franchises make the same changes?
Obesity is an epidemic in America these days, which will lead to higher heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes rates. Are we actually going to see the fast food industry do something to try and stop this?
I just looked at the video. It seems to be based on decent, sound workout principles, but is a CGI personal trainer necessary? I couldn't imagine working out to this. It would be like exercising to a "Final Fantasy" DVD.
Friday, May 19, 2006
"I don't want to talk to you. I have given you so many reports, but you did nothing. Many rape cases were reported and you conduct many patrols. But you have done nothing."
- Omar Muhammad Abakar, a village sheik in Darfur, speaking to Maj. Essodina Kadangha, a Togolese member of the 7,000-member African Union force charged with protecting civilians in the region from government-backed militias known as Janjaweed - with approximately one solider for every 28 square miles of the region, according to The New York Times. On May 16, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a U.S.-sponsored resolution to replace the African force with up to 20,000 international peacekeepers.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Britney Spears is expecting her second.
I'm surprised these two things did not raise the Rapture Index tracked by the religious right.
At the very least, it should make anyone who doesn't back a woman's right to choose think twice.
Can this nation afford enough child welfare agents to protect these kids?
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
No one doubts Alley’s guilt. He confessed (Although later recanted) to the murder of Lance Corporal Suzanne Collins in 1985. I’ve read the details of this murder. It is perhaps one of the most brutal and grotesque crimes imaginable.
Lance Corporal Collins was jogging near the Millington Naval Base in 1985. Alley forced her into a car and took her to a field. He delivered the fatal blow when he struck her in the head with a screwdriver. Thankfully, she was already dead when he shoved a tree limb into her vagina so hard that entered her abdomen and punctured one of her lungs.
Two Marines heard Collins screaming and ran over. By the time they reached the scene, it was too late to save her. But they did see Alley’s car driving away. Within days, he had confessed. His account was considerably more humane than what the physical evidence suggested, but there was still more than enough accurate information to convict him.
There’s never been any real doubt of his guilt. The only mercy he showed was for himself when he tried to pretend that her death was an accident and he only used the tree limb to make police think it was a sex crime. Clearly, he knew what he was doing was wrong, and he did it anyway.
But does that make killing him right in some way? Do we match kill for kill, brutality for brutality?
With all that you hear about lethal injection, it sure sounds humane enough. You get the needle in your arm, then drop gently off to sleep and never wake up, right?
It’s not so cut and dry.
The goal of lethal injection is not to be easier on the person being killed. The goal of lethal injection is to be easier on the person doing the killing.
First, you’re strapped to the gurney. Then the executioner inserts a catheter into each arm and flushes them with a solution to keep them from getting clogged. If you’ve ever been in the hospital and had a clumsy nurse try to start an IV for you, think about that and then imagine what care she might have shown if you’d been convicted of murder and would soon be too dead to sue her.
In one arm, they give you 5000 milligrams of sodium thiopental, which puts you to sleep for about thirty seconds. In the other arm, they give you 100 milligrams of pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes your respiratory system.
Finally, they give you a dose of sodium chloride, which induces cardiac arrest. Within two minutes, the state is declaring you dead.
The British medical journal The Lancet reported on the results of forty-nine autopsies from Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Medical examiners found that in 43 of those executions, the condemned had lower levels of thiopental in their bloodstream than what is required for surgery--- Low enough that they were awake and aware as they slowly suffocated. Without enough thiopental, you remain awake and alert. The pancuronium stops you from moving, but leaves all of your higher brain functions intact.
So in fact, they went through excruciating pain, but since their bodies were crippled, they gave no outward indication.
Let’s put this in perspective. Our standards for euthanizing animals are actually higher than our standards for executing the condemned.
Perhaps it’s simply the origin of the procedure shining through. It was created by Dr. Karl Brandt, personal physician to Adolf Hitler. How concerned with humanitarianism do you think he was?
So no--- I’m afraid that the question over whether or not lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment is far from a silly one.
We remedy inhumane acts by committing them ourselves. We avenge suffering and death by making others suffer as they die.
How quick are we to become that which we hate?
I would like to congratulate a very nice couple on the birth of their new son.
Issac Hayes and his lovely wife Adjowa have welcomed a new baby boy into the world.
Nana Kwadjo Hayes was born April 10th, weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces.
May he be fortunate enough to inherit his father's voice, kindness, and easygoing personality and his mother's beauty and charm.
If you know anyone that calls phone sex hotlines, encourage them to join in a class action suit against the government.
After all... If they're listening in, they should pay half. It's only fair. It's the "I'll give you some gas money" principle.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Yeah Phil, you probably do need me, old pal. And several hundred thousand more just like me.
Too bad you pissed it all away.
See, I could have lived with the Tenncare cuts. But that's easy for me to say--- I'm a pretty healthy guy. I can certainly understand the need to make some changes, as I don't think McWherter's idea was really designed for long term sustainability. I would have preferred the cuts to come from elsewhere, or perhaps some much dreaded reform (Does every street in the state need to be under construction at the same time?).
Phil (I can call you Phil, can't I? What with the familiar tone of the email and all), can I let you in on something?
Right about now, you're in panic mode. You're thinking your base has abandoned you.
But you're wrong. You abandoned us.
When I was preparing for a meeting on the Hill several months ago, I downloaded some of your speeches and read them. At the Southern Democratic Governors' Association, a reporter asked you to describe the Republican agenda. I can't find the old file right now, but I remember that you named low taxes, unrestricted access to arms, no gay marriage, and no abortion.
Think back on your statement, Phil. I'm sure your guys have better search tools than I have, and can pull up your exact quote. Look it over. Notice a problem?
YOU FORGOT TO MAKE ANY OF IT SOUND BAD.
You could have pointed out that their agenda seems to involve massive runaway spending while giving up any means to cover the bills. You may believe in unrestricted access to arms, which is another place we'll have to disagree, but I can let it slide that you didn't hit too hard on that point in the gun loving South. You could have pointed out that their agenda involves misappropriating the document that guarantees the liberties of American citizens to discriminate against gays. And you could have pointed out that their agenda involves the subjugation of women so that they don't have the right to make choices about their own bodies.
Did you do any of that? Did you say anything that the Republicans themselves wouldn't say?
It's not just Tenncare, Phil. I've met your communications director, and I have no doubt that he has the skill to spin that.
During another meeting with you and your staff, you told us that you have to run to the center to get elected in Tennessee. But you haven't done that. You skipped right over the center and hopped into bed with the right.
I don't need to tell you the problem with that. If you weren't painfully aware of the way you were hemhorraging support from Democrats, I never would have met you.
And what changed after that? Not a thing.
Face it, Phil. When you walk into a room full of Democrats, you blend as well as a pair of white socks with a tuxedo.
You've spent the last 3.5 years chasing the votes of people that will have their own candidate this fall.
Phil, you may need me--- But you can forget about it. I'm not even sure we'd notice the difference if we elected a Republican.
Maybe I'm a little nostalgic 24 hours after losing The West Wing, but I can't help thinking back to an episode where a Supreme Court Justice berated President Bartlet, insisting that he would never retire as long as Bartlet was in the White House.
Disgusted, he looked at Bartlet and said "I wanted a Democrat. And I got you."
You know, since we have SO many National Guardsmen that aren't in Iraq or soon to be sent there.
So he's already called Vicente Fox to let him know that it's a temporary measure.
Let me guess--- Just long enough to shore up right wingers before the midterm elections.
Of course, the legality of such an operation is in question. If you're familiar with the term "Posse comitatus", please teach it to our president and remind him that it's illegal to deploy military troops on American soil.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.
Friday, May 12, 2006
No one is more surprised than me. I had prepared myself for a loss, and stayed offline last night because I was pretty bummed.
I'd like to give credit to all the people out there that called their Senators about this. I haven't seen the roll call on this one yet, so I don't know how our own Senators voted. I'm not sure we were able to change any votes on a local level. However, everyone who wrote a letter or made a call was part of a larger nationwide effort that apparently DID make a difference. And that has to feel good.
I want to thank my dear friend Anne Jacobs, a cancer survivor out of California that first made me aware of this bill. She forwarded me an action alert from the American Cancer Society that made me aware of this bill and what a lousy idea it was.
And I want to thank a newer friend whose help was simply magnificent throughout this. I'm not 100% sure I can identify this lovely young lady publicly. If I can, I'll modify this post later and put her name in it so she can take a proper bow. If not, know how grateful I am.
Americans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief now.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Stephin Merritt is an unlikely cracker. The creative force behind the Magnetic Fields, Merritt is diminutive, gay, and painfully intellectual. His music is witty and tender. He plays the ukulele. He named his Chihuahua after Irving Berlin. And yet no less an influential music critic than The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones has used that word—"cracker"—to describe him. Frere-Jones has also called him "Stephin 'Southern Strategy' Merritt," presumably in reference to Richard Nixon's race-baiting attempt to crush the Democratic Party. These are heady words, part of a two-year online campaign of sorts by Frere-Jones and the Chicago Reader music contributor Jessica Hopper to brand Merritt a racist. The charge: He doesn't like hip-hop, and on those occasions when he's publicly discussed his personal music tastes, he has criticized black artists.
The article goes on to say that his dislike of Justin Timberlake, among others, is a symptom of his "racism", since Timberlake likes "black music".
Frere-Jones and Hopper continue to misquote a keynote speech Merritt delivered at a music conference (While he said he deplored the message of "Song of the South", he said "Zip-adee-doo-dah" was a ctachy song), and insist that if his CD collection isn't proportionate to the size of the black population of America, he's racist.
I think about my own life. I could have moved into a whiter neighborhood, but instead chose an apartment building that's about 2/3 black. I could have had a place in Cordova that would have been less in rent and perhaps even less in taxes if I chose a spot that Herenton hadn't annexed yet. I made these choices because I didn't want to live in an insular white neighborhood.
And as cliche as it sounds, I have very good black friends that I cherish as deeply as my own family. Anything I do politically, I touch bases with Brad Watkins on. Why? I value his input. If I had it my way, Reginald Fentress and Darrick Harris would be on their way to the Shelby County Commission.
But according to Frere-Jones and Hopper... I'm a racist.
I loathe most rap. I find most of it to be intellectually and creatively bankrupt. Every once in a while, a rapper will come along that does something interesting sonically, such as when Digable Planets came out.
But really, there's a limit to how much "I'm a thug" posturing I can listen to. When I hear a rapper doing endless songs about... what a great rapper he is, I say "Thank you for going so boldly where the Sugarhill Gang went 25 years ago". It's a mystery to me how any black woman could listen to rap--- I would probably be offended by being characterized as a "ho".
On September 13, we'll actually have gone a decade without the last guy that I considered to be a good rapper, Tupac Shakur. When Curtis Jackson started calling himself "50 Cent", I think he might have been overly optimistic. And I find the Snoop Dogg phenomena truly mystifying--- By "pimping hos", he's bringing slavery into the 21st century. And this is a good thing?
Does this mean I'm a racist? No. Does it mean I look down on people who like this music? I don't understand it, but no.
It just means my taste runs in a different direction. My favorite band, Dream Theater, puts more changes in their music than you'll find in a symphony. And yes, they are white. Perhaps I'm more accustomed to the idea of people not liking my favorite music than Frere-Jones and Hopper are--- The only people that listen to Dream Theater are other musicians that are simply stunned that they can do the things they do.
I might meet the "12% of the CD collection must be black" standard, but certainly not the way Frere-Jones and Hopper might want me to. I love 70's soul music. To hell with 50 Cent, Kanye West, and Beyonce--- Give me Isaac Hayes, Al Green, George Clinton and P-Funk, Sly & the Family Stone, and Stevie Wonder (Pre-Paul McCartney duets). I also love blues--- Give me BB King, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters any day of the week. In that vein, Keb' Mo' is easily the most underrated artist of this generation, and he deserves to be a much bigger star than he is.
So my big question is this--- Is The New Yorker shortchanging its readers by inflicting upon them a music critic whose world view is as limited as that of Sasha Frere-Jones?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Our coalition partners have just announced that the 1-800 number will continue until Thursday. Your calls are working! Thanks to your efforts opposition to the Enzi Bill--the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization Act (HIMMAA, S.1955)--is growing in the Senate. Many of you used the 1-800 number to tell your Senators the truth about the Enzi Bill: That it would endanger the health care of 85 million Americans by overriding existing state laws that guarantee coverage of such crucial services as contraception, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer screenings, as well as mammograms, mental health, well-child care, and many others.
The full Senate will vote on the Enzi Bill this week. In order to get an up-or-down vote, Senate leaders plan to schedule a vote to cut off debate on the bill (known as a vote for "cloture" in Senate jargon) for this coming Thursday, May 11th. We need Senators to vote against cloture (against cutting off debate) in order to prevent an up-or-down vote. If you haven't already called your Senators, please consider calling your Senators before Thursday and send them a clear message: Oppose the Enzi Bill by voting NO on cloture.
Call Your Senators, Toll-Free
As we've said before, this is a very dangerous piece of legislation. If passed, the Enzi bill would override state laws that guarantee coverage for crucial services such as contraception, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer screenings, as well as mammograms, mental health, well-child care, and many others. In addition, it would increase the cost of health coverage for many small businesses by pitting younger, healthier groups against older, sicker groups. If this legislation becomes law, more than 85 million Americans will lose important consumer protections that now apply to their health insurance.
As usual, thanks for all the hard work you do!
Monday, May 08, 2006
The Florida chapter of ACORN commissioned a study one year after Florida's minimum wage went up. They found no substantive change in the rate of job growth or economic growth in the state even after the minimum wage went up $1.25 per hour over the span of a year and a half.
This should be interesting reading for anyone working with the local Living Wage efforts.
Click here to read their report.
You know, if you're licensing your music out to the military to use in recruiting commercials, just have the balls to say that the price was right.
Keep this interview in mind should you ever consider buying a Godsmack CD. It will probably make you want to pick up the new Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen.
SULLY: I’m not saying that we were right on every war that we’ve created. I know that we’ve been damn wrong at times about stuff—
JAY [interrupting]: When have we been wrong?
SULLY: [yelling] but they have also been wrong too!
JAY: When have—
SULLY [interrupting]: I don’t trust someone like fuckin’ Sadaam and Osama to come in here and try to control—
JAY: [interrupting, incredulous] When did Sadaam try to come in here and control our country?
SULLY: Dude, [yelling] WHY DON’T YOU GO LIVE IN IRAQ THEN IF YOU HAVE SUCH A PROBLEM WITH AMERICA? Why are you here?
JAY: Why am I here?!? This is the top country in the world, my friend!
SULLY: Well, why do you think so? Because it’s PROTECTED.
JAY: No, it’s not because it’s—
SULLY [interrupting]: –ruled our country.
JAY: No one is attacking us, my friend. Certainly not Iraq. Every first world nation suffers terrorist attacks. Get used to it.
SULLY: I am used to it. I don’t have a problem—
JAY: Get used to it..
SULLY: [laughs] Sounds like you do.
JAY: You’re the one that’s saying it’s alright to not know about stuff and then to send other people to die in our name.
SULLY: I never said that! Don’t put fuckin’ words in my mouth.
JAY: I’ve got it on tape, bro.
SULLY: You’ve got in on tape, bro?!?
Friday, May 05, 2006
Autoegocrat on Pesky Fly has done a great job welcoming her home.
So you've decided that there's no place like home, eh? You're back in the River City, and having now passed up a once-every-27-years opportunity, you're home again on the front page of the Metro section of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. We're stuck with you, but you're also stuck with us.
I must be perfectly frank, Wendi, I don't like your column very much. But before you dismiss me as one of those who minds and therefore doesn't matter, can I persuade you that my dislike of your column is more flattering than insulting? I can? Thank you for being patient with me. I will explain myself shortly.
You are the premier black female columnist for a white-owned commercial newspaper in a majority black Southern city with a worldwide reputation for racial intolerance. Memphis is the scene of The Crime; our shared hometown is the physical location where the immortal spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left the planet forever, bound for places hoped for and yet unseen. Whether you fully realize and appreciate it or not, you occupy a position of unique historical import, significance, and power. No one else has ever held in their hands the precise opportunity that is presently yours alone, and for the rest of human history, no one else ever will.
Click here to read the rest.
George W. Bush at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year. The day before he said this, the House made cuts to food stamps, Medicaid, and child care assistance.
I know I'm not the only person that bristles when George W. Bush claims to be a Christian. In fact, I recall him once saying that his favorite philosopher was Jesus Christ.
Do you think he could actually hold down his end of the conversation if a discussion of the Bible was relegated only to the words that appear in red lettering? Could he spin his budget priorities in a way that dovetails with the Sermon on the mount?
'If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.' Leviticus 25:35
If someone reads this verse to him, he'll announce a plan to deport poor people. And since it's not in red lettering, he might well pay attention to it.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Enzi sponsored the Health Insurance Market Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005, and the rest have signed on as cosponsors.
It was introduced in November of last year, but was placed on the legislative schedule just last week. Barring any impressive power plays, it should be on the floor soon.
The biggest feature of HIMMAA is the complete and total deregulation of the insurance industry.
The Bankruptcy Reform Act stripped out almost all consumer protections and put no restrictions on the banking industry for some of its own odious practices. This is an attempt to do the same thing for the insurance industry. When we’re talking about health care, we’re talking about protecting human life, which is something that cannot be left up to the whim of the marketplace.
This act actually allows insurance companies to refuse to pay for mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopy, and prostate cancer screenings. I don’t think I have to tell anyone how important these tools are in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. There are millions of working poor in this nation that will simply not be tested if all prescreening has to come out of their own pockets. They can’t afford it.
So what happens when people don’t get the prescreening and early treatment? The cost of their treatment rises sharply, and their odds of survival drop dramatically.
If you’re skeptical at this point, I can understand why. You’re thinking “Insurance companies know that it’s cheaper to prescreen and treat early than it is to treat full blown cancer. The market will iron itself out.”
No. No it won’t. A fully deregulated insurance industry will find it much easier to drop a patient. At that point, any medical costs that the patient can’t cover out of pocket are absorbed in the form of higher healthcare costs for all.
The human toll is too high, and the price is too high. We have to find a way to block S.1955.
I’ve taken the liberty of preparing some information on S.1955.
Here’s a link to the text of S.1955.
This is the summary released by the American Cancer Society.
Additional Information About S. 1955
S. 1955 is officially known as the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act. It has also been referred to as the Small Business Health Plan bill and the Association Health Plan legislation.
S. 1955 would remove any guarantee of access for vital cancer screenings, prevention and treatments that are currently provided for under more than 130 state laws across the country. These include coverage for mammograms, colonoscopies, clinical trials participation and other screenings and treatments.
This bill would apply to the entire insurance market – not just for small businesses. That means that everyone who works for a private company, no matter its size, would lose their guarantee of access to the vital benefits.
The bill only requires that insurers offer employers the option of providing to their employees one plan similar to any one of the plans offered to state employees in any of the 5 most populous states. However, the bill does not require that employers offer this plan to their employees nor does it require that the plan be comprehensive in its coverage of important benefits like cancer screenings and treatments.
This bill would nullify all of ACS’ work in the states to guarantee access to mammography, colon cancer screening, clinical trial participation, off-label drug use and other cancer screenings and treatments.
The bill imposes a “one size fits all” federal rule on the states. State legislatures passed insurance requirements in response to a need in the states, and the federal government should not override these laws, especially since doing so will weaken cancer patients’ access to life-saving benefits.
The American Diabetes Association:
The U.S. Senate will soon vote on a bill that could leave millions of Americans with diabetes without insurance coverage for their diabetes needs. The bill, S. 1955, will pre-empt the 46 state laws, passed over the last decade with bi-partisan support, that require state-regulated health plans to cover diabetes education, equipment, and supplies. As American Diabetes Association volunteers, this legislation directly impacts our mission. We must join together and stop it.
Today the organization is asking for your help in our efforts to lobby Senators and secure their opposition to S. 1955 in its current state as it fails to protect state diabetes coverage regulations.
The National Organization of Social Workers, 39 states’ attorneys general, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the American Optometric Association, the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, the American Nurses Association , and the National Mental Health Association all agree: S.1995 has to be stopped.
In fact, the only people that like it are the insurance industry and the eight sponsors.
We’ve got to do all that is within our power to stop this one.
But sometimes, there's simply not a good place to direct the rage.
Monday night, a tragedy took place in my building. There seems to be an effort by the media to find a way to pin this on building management. It's just not there.
The little boy leaned against an elevator door on the ninth floor. A flimsy looking part galled a gib is all that keeps an elevator door from being pressed in when someone leans against it. Think about a razor blade, the kind that you never see in real life, but the kind that people in movies invariably find when they want to commit suicide. It looks like that, but with perforations. This tiny part gave way, and the child fell to his death.
It's simply horrible beyond imagination. I've seen the little boy and his family around the building, but I can't say I really knew them. But I'll never forget the sound of his mother crying in the hallway of the ninth floor. And after I ran down nine flights of stairs, I saw the sight that I'll never get out of my head--- Her little boy being carried out of the basement.
I realize that of the millions of political blogs out there, the family stumbling across mine is a longshot. I'm not even using his name so it won't come up on a search engine. My heart breaks for this family, and I don't want to do anything to prolong the agony that I know they're going through right now.
But the staff of this building is not to blame.
I've never lived in a place as conscious of maintenance as the staff at this building. I had a stove go bad on Friday afternoon, and they ordered a new one and installed it on Monday. If I do so much as flag down a staffer here in the hallway and tell them I'm having a problem, they're on it immediately.
They're aggressively proactive in their maintenance. When they took over the building, it was in disrepair; Floor by floor, they've been renovating every aspect of the building.
And yes, there have been problems with the elevators before. It seems that every resident of this building that wants to be on TV has jumped in front of a camera to talk about elevator problems that have absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy Monday night. A car getting stuck between floors (And fixed the next day) in January has nothing at all to do with a gib coming loose in May. Imagine that the alternator in your car goes out in January, and your brakes fail in May, causing a fatal accident. Are the two related? Not in any way.
You can't really tell that from the news coverage. They're compounding this tragedy. People are going to move out after this--- It's inevitable. I don't think the accident is the fault of the staff, but I can't be the only person having a tough time looking at the elevator shaft these days.
With the sensationalistic coverage of the maintenance of this building over the last few days, those vacancies are going to be tough to fill. It's now portrayed as a building where no one maintains the elevators. That's an insult to the staff here.
When that baby was carried around the corner into the lobby, a member of the maintenance staff was helping the grandfather (An action hero, if you ask me--- That man climbed down the elevator cables to the basement level from the ninth floor) carry him. That image will be frozen in my mind forever, much like the firefighter carrying the baby away from the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. When people were panicking all around him, he ran down the stairs (Ten flights, no less--- He lives almost next door to me), shut down the elevators, and helped carry that poor baby out of the shaft.
Mourn this child. Pray for his family, so that they may find the peace they so richly deserve.
But there is an irresponsible rush to judgment taking place right now. Sometimes, an accident is just an accident.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
'ER' Puts Darfur Tragedy in Spotlight
May 2, 4:58 PM EST
You're smart, you're funny. You're good looking, if maybe not Russell Crowe. You're everything she says she wants.
But she passes you over for a dick that thinks Joan of Arc is Noah's wife.
I think there are more than a few candidates feeling like that tonight.
Reginald Fentress is everything the voters say they want. He's intelligent, resourceful, and innovative. And when he went canvassing, he didn't just tell people something. He listened to them.
Yet he was passed over.
Bennie Cobb has a quarter century of experience in law enforcement. Commander of the crimes against persons division. Tonight, he was beaten by somebody that has as much experience as a defendant as a policeman. His most valuable law enforcement experience turns out to be his time on Mayor Herenton's goon squad.
Cobb was passed over.
It certainly wasn't all bad--- I was thrilled that Steve Mulroy won his race. I don't live in his district, but you can bet the house that I'll be cheering him on as he goes on to the general election.
Factor in the flotilla of Joe Cooper signs all over town, his ad buys during prime time TV that feature endorsees Jerry "The King Lawler" and Silky Sullivan, and you know those had to have been the most expensive 897 votes in the history of the electoral process. There's no way he paid less than $600 per vote for that turnout. Maybe he'll take the hint this time.
Darrick Harris was in a tough spot. The campaign had very little money, and the frontrunner in his race had plenty to burn. Harris lost, but his 26% is a damn good turnout considering the limited resources of the campaign. Perhaps next time, we can rally more people behind him and less behind a guy that parachuted into the party so recently that his seat on the Republican Executive Committee has yet to be filled.
Know who the big winner of the night was?
Mayor Herenton. His proxies had a hell of a night.
Sidney Chism is the Jerry Lewis to Herenton's Dean Martin. We've already talked about French. Look at the Democratic primaries, and you'll find that Herenton's people almost ran a clean sweep.
It makes the mayoral race next year a tough one. Herenton proxies run the local party through a collective of well meaning but naive people that would lop off their own legs with chainsaws rather than serve him, but get tricked into doing anything Sidney Chism wants. And his strategy for consolidating political power is reliant on getting "his" people elected and putting the unelectable ones on the payroll (Pssst--- Mr. Mayor, will you put me in charge of MLG&W if I say something nice about you? It never hurts to ask).
All in all, not a good night. But you know who the loser in all of this is?
The people of Memphis. Using the county mayor's primaries as a yardstick, only 10% of the registered voters in the county showed up. That kind of apathy will make it hard to dislodge a mayor whose idea of growth consists of annexing all the pissed off people that move out of the city. Another four years, and he'll have annexed everything this side of Jackson, and he'll have someone working on finding a way to annex DeSoto County.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Perhaps I should ask this question of someone at the White House Counsel's Office, but... Where does this Constitutional authority come from?
The Constitution does indeed make provisions for a president to reject a law that he feels is unconstitutional--- It's called a veto.
Say it with me, Bush Leaguers... "Vee-toe".
It even allows a couple of different means of doing that. He can simply stamp the bill "Veto" and send it back, or he can do the "pocket veto", in which he simply hangs onto the bill until the end of the Congressional session, which would simply kick the bill back out to be dealt with again in the next session.
Why does he not have the political courage to do these things? Is it perhaps that he realizes that 32 is the freezing point for water AND political influence?
Not even that explains it. He's been doing this for years.
So what section of the Constitution allows him to do this?
Ain't it funny what you find when you do a little research?
The signing statement was first used by Ronald Reagan. here are the stats for the number of times they've been used, straight from the Wall Street Journal:
…And compared with previous presidents.
G.H.W. Bush 6
G.W. Bush 110*
I just had a right winger try to use the "Cinton did it too" talking point on me.
Jeez, when will these guys learn?
ABC's Brian Ross is reporting that the investigation of congressional payoffs has taken a rather lurid turn. There are stories floating around about congressional poker games in DC hotel suites, with prostitutes being brought in by limousine.
It should be very easy to track down the limo company owner and talk to him--- They just awarded him a $20 million contract to drive around Homeland Security executives, which in his defense, aren't that radically different from the hookers.
It's good to be king...
The poor little guy fell down nine floors. He didn't look good when they carried him away and sadly, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
So if you would, please say a little prayer for the family.
Monday, May 01, 2006
The problem that gave us an Ophelia Ford was in play long before anyone climbed out of the grave to cast a vote on her behalf on Election Day (I should pitch this as a screenplay for George Romero).
It happened during the primary season, when everyone and their mother filed a petition to run for John Ford's seat.
I was at an event one night, and out of twenty people, there were no less than four who had filed petitions in the room. Everyone was doing the "greet and grip", hoping to drum up a little early support among Democratic activists.
By Election day, there were nine candidates for the seat. NINE. Ophelia managed to win the primary with only 1300 votes, probably the most pathetic performance ever for an actual primary winner. Greens and Libertarians must be slapping themselves silly for not getting in that race.
Of the 108,000 registered voters in District 29, she got a whopping 1.2% of the vote to win the nomination.
Hardly a consensus nominee, huh? The district is probably 75% Democratic, and she only outpolled the Republican winner in the primary by 99 votes.
When you run a primary as ridiculously watered down as the District 29 primary, there's little chance of picking a candidate that people are actually excited about. I can name four candidates that i think had a realistic chance of winning--- Everyone else in the race was hoping that three or four of the others would cancel one another out.
There was nothing wrong with the 29 primary that coudn't have been fixed by half a dozen people putting their egos aside and getting the hell out of a race they stood no chance at winning.
If you cannot win as a consensus candidate, then what the hell are you doing in a race? Do you magically believe that everyone is going to drop what they're doing and follow you blindly simply because you have a (D) next to your name?
I'll let you in on a little secret that you won't get by watching the mainstream media's coverage of this fiasco--- Democrats didn't like Opehelia much better than they liked Roland. Hell, I moved into the district right after the primary, and I deliberately held off on reregistering to vote--- I didn't want to vote Republican, but I sure as hell wasn't sending Ophelia to the Senate.
I'm not alone. A couple of diehard Democrats I know grilled me after she won. "What the hell were you guys thinking?" I had to explain that it wasn't our call at all--- Ophelia filed the petition and the voters (All 1.2% of them) picked her.
I don't like having to explain why we're running the candidate that no one can mention by name without groaning. I don't think anyone else likes it any better than I did.
Her running was already hard enough--- Giving her the seat would have been like picking AJ to head up the Sopranos if Tony goes away. A little less ego, and someone else might have managed to consolidate 2-3% of the vote and give voters someone they can be proud of.
So please--- If you have so little support that your main strategy consists of getting whatever crumbs fall off the table of several stronger candidates, stay home. There are better ways to be involved than to be the perennial also-ran. Build some relationships, a coalition, and come back stronger next time.
Some politicians luck their way into a Second Act. Lose a couple of times, and you don't get a third.
It's right in line with what they usually do--- There's a midterm this year, and their most effective means of rallying their base is complaining about one minority or another so their constituents have someone to feel superior to.
They've done blacks and gays enough, so it's Latinos' turns this year.
If you don't believe it's a form of red meat, then by all means, check out Kibitzer's post on Pesky Fly--- It's right wing enough that everyone's favorite DINO Harold Ford is behind it. And this year, he's not doing anything that will keep him off of Fox News.
Anyway, the lyrics to the new version are well worth checking out. I think they might well have made some improvements to it.
Here's an English translation of the new Spanish lyrics, courtesy of NPR. Read these lyrics--- Then tell me how Hispanics are disrespecting this nation by singing it. We should all be grateful to have our nation honored by a song such as this one--- Particularly since it's being sung by a demographic that half of our people look for reasons to resent, and sung in a language that we treat like a disease.
It's sunrise. Do you see by the light of the dawn
What we proudly hailed last nightfall?
Its stars, its stripes
above fierce combat
a symbol of victory
the glory of battle, the march toward liberty.
Throughout the night, they proclaimed: "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?
Its stars, its stripes,
liberty, we are equals.
We are brothers in our anthem.
In fierce combat, a symbol of victory
the glory of battle,
(My people fight on)
the march toward liberty.
(The time has come to break the chains.)
Throughout the night they proclaimed: "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?