Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sterling Morrison on Dylan

Over at the Well, Ed Ward ( of Creem magazine fame) had this nice memory of Sterling Morrison:

I remember being in some stupid symposium at UT with the weirdo music
prof who had the rock and roll course there, and Sterling was on the
panel. He contributed nothing, just sat there kind of pissed off he'd
been asked to do it. Then some student asked him a question about
Dylan. "I don't know anything about Dylan," he said. "For me, it's
either rock and roll or fuckin' folk music, and Dylan's fuckin' folk
music." End of discussion.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Been So Long......

....But, in the wake of the tragic Tiller killing, it seems like a good time to quote Larison's formulation of why I don't believe in abortion.

As I understand it, abortion is wrong because it violates the dignity of the human person, desecrates the image of God and ignores the obligations we have to the weak and defenseless. It also sunders in the most violent way the obligations of parents to their children; it is a kind of impiety directed toward children. In the end, competing rights claims are competitions over power, and unborn children can never effectively contest for that power because they are dependent and helpless. The very dependency that serves as the basis for denying the child the rights of a full person is the thing that obliges us to protect that child. In my view, it is ultimately far more effective and much more true to think of this question in these terms. I have not encountered many pro-lifers who share that view as of yet, but I will keep working on it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Watchmen For Real: Total Eclipse Of Civilization

What's worse than being a nerd? Being a nerd that has gone completely insane, put on a costume and decided to become a crimefighter. I presume his secret power lies in disabling his opponent through inducing paralyzing mirth.

It is well worth one's time, particularly if contemplating suicide, to pay a visit to the World Superhero Registry. Some of these guys seem to be directly inspired by the character Rorschach which is, um, disturbing.

Between this and the recent story about the woman who fell in love with the Eiffel Tower, I am really feeling like at some point I woke up in a Phillip K. Dick novel. A really nasty one.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"We Are America. We Don't Fucking Torture."

Do we have to pay some kind of ransom to get this guy out of there?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Since Lent Is Over....

....It's time for the video that got Lawrence Lessig in so much trouble.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quote For The Day

“In America there is no anti-status quo media,”says Smith. “It’s all the same four big companies, and they’re all afraid of losing Budweiser so it’s just like, there’s no voice. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is the most watched ‘news’ program by people under thirty-five and it’s a spoof comedy show. There is a huge market out there of disenfranchised kids, and we do these political things which aren’t Republican or Democrat, but more like how a punk would look at things, which is more like ‘This is absurd. It’s not right, left, center, whatever, it’s just fucked.’”

Shane Smith, quoted in Matt Mason's excellent book The Pirate's Dilemma.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lane Wallace says "Suck It Up"

She takes a somewhat unsympathetic view of the travails of Alexandra Penney, the over-celebrated Madoff victim. Unfortunately, she strays off into literary criticism:

To put Penny’s posts in perspective, imagine Frodo Baggins, the hobbit hero in The Lord of the Rings, reacting similarly. Imagine him railing in the woods about how unfair it was that he had to go return this stupid ring to fix a problem someone else created, complaining about the rain, the uncomfortable leaf piles he and Sam had to sleep on, how hard the walk and journey was … and getting a bit happier only if some opportunist or kind soul took pity on his victim-pout complaints and installed him safely back in a warm, cozy house with ease, comfort, and good food and wine. Or, if you haven’t read or seen that particular story, you could try the same exercise with Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, or Ulysses, in Homer’s Odyssey. Or any epic hero, for that matter.

Except that is exactly what all those heroes do. Greatness is thrust upon them against their will. That's the story.

David Rivin Gets It Right

Since I usually mock and deride NRO....I believe that so doing gets souls out of Purgatory....I feel I should note when someone gets it exactly right over there.

Second, the reason Lee Casey and I have been critical of the U.S. Navy is that there are time-tested and cost-effective solutions to piracy problems, and the Navy has not employed them. It’s not a matter of escorting ships; it is a matter of conducting aggressive offensive operations against pirates at sea and on land, driven by robust rules of engagement. For example, we don’t have to wait till a pirate attack occurs; we can stop boats crewed by armed men — there is no legitimate reason for fisherman to brandish automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. This, by the way, is how slave trade was suppressed: Ships that were equipped for carrying slaves were seized, and their crews punished, even if they had no slaves aboard. Captured pirates also need to be punished promptly and harshly. Ransom payments should be intercepted; pirate havens should be bombarded; pirate assets should be seized.

The goal isn’t to nation-build in Somalia; it is make piracy costly, difficult, and risky. All of this is doable.

This is true. Jeez, doesn't anyone read Hornblower novels anymore?

Steven R. Hurst Needs A Factchecker

Oh, wait, he is the factchecker. Uh-Oh.
In the midst of a remarkably silly and wrongheaded "analysis" piece concerning the Somali Pirates, the AP's Hurst drops in this little gem of misinformation:
Short of flooding the waters with fighting ships, the only course of attack would seem to be special operations assaults on the ground in Somalia. But Obama is sure to remember the outcome—Black Hawk Down—when the last young Democratic president, Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, sent U.S. forces ashore in that lawless land.

The current situation has absolutely nothing in common with the Battle of Mogadishu and "flooding the waters" (Cool metaphor, huh? Weak reasoning gains so much from lazy writing) with "fighting ships" (Ar!) is actually a pretty good idea.... as Hillary pointed out yesterday. In fact, it is such a good idea that every nation that has ever encountered a piracy problem or, for that matter, a U-boat problem has done exactly that.

But beyond all that, President Clinton did not send U.S. forces ashore in Somalia. Our forces went into Somalia in December,1992. Bill Clinton did not assume Presidential authority until January 20th, 1993. A lot of us non-interventionist types believed at the time that it was a pretty thoughtful poison-pill parting gift for president Bush to leave office with.

Checking this "detail" would have taken five minutes, minutes Hurst apparently didn't have. So when the newspapers finally shut their doors just remember that they didn't always produce a lot of value in the first place.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Glory Of Big Youth

First Dub sound I ever heard, and still probably the best.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank Heaven For Bullshit....

.....without it what would little boys do?

"Cities Deal With Surge In Shantytowns"
shrieks the NY Times headline.

Guess they don't get out that much on the Upper West Side these days, or wherever Times reporters live until they lose their jobs. Tulsa, of course, has had a, um, thriving "Tent City" for about 15 years now, and we ain't even ground zero. That's some timely journalism there, boys.

Hey! Just wondering....what's that Macarena thing all about?

My Etonian Problem....And Ours

A little sanctimonious gibberish from Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Goure on Israel

Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute has quite an amusing post which speaks body bags about the blinkered world-view and unfounded assumptions which define the thinking of the Israeli Lobby and their fellow travelers. Actually, Goure appears to doubt the existence of an Israeli Lobby in something of the same way that J. Edgar Hoover once claimed to doubt the existence of the Mafia.

At any rate, here is Goude describing his beatific vision of a glorious future in which Israel and the U.S. walk hand in hand through a common adventure in reshaping the Middle East:

The reality is that no so-called Israel lobby is necessary to impact U.S. Middle East policy because our interests and those of Israel are largely congruent. Whether it is the natural affinity of democracies; our shared political and social modernity; the common opposition to Soviet expansionism during the Cold War; the sharing of intelligence; technology cooperation; equal distance, politically speaking, from the internecine political warfare that consumes the Arab world; a mutual determination to defeat terrorism; or a shared culture…Israel and America are in accord. What is the basis for our strategic relationship with the Arab nations? The answer is one word, oil. Absent oil, Israel alone would continue to hold our interest in the region. If the Obama Administration is successful in weaning the U.S. from its addiction to oil, Israel alone will be of strategic interest to this country. At least that will be the case until democracy and representative governance takes hold elsewhere in the region.

Of course, many of us would vastly prefer that "absent oil" the United States have no strategic interests of any kind in the Middle East....perhaps we could station a cultural attache there, but beyond that, nothing at all. Absent oil, we would have little need for a forward military base and none at all for any entangling alliances. Let the Saudi Royal Family and the Knesset paddle their own canoes. Unfortunately the oil reserves will not run dry all at once and, as they get scarcer and more expensive, it is more likely than not that all the great powers will deal themselves a hand in a bloody contest that will make The Great Game look like a round of pinochle. Imagine a world without struggles for control of the Crimea, without Suez Crises, without future 9/11s. It seems to me to be a pretty picture for Americans. For Israel it may look a bit different.

I feel very little concern little concern for what I feel is Israel's increasingly tenuous relationship with representative democracy. Further, in light of Israel's irksome tendency to spy on the United States, to mention the "sharing of intelligence" seems a trifle ironic. I do not perceive that America is at war with the tactic of terrorism, no matter how deplorable it is - this kind of sentimental claptrap is a residue of the bankrupt Wilsonism of the Bush administration. As to representative government taking hold in the region, let's wait for it to take a good,firm hold in Israel first, shall we?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Gibberish From Arlen Specter....This Time On AIG Contracts

Once upon a time, when we all lived in the forest, a man we will call Arlen Specter worked as a DA.

Since that time he has traded in this morsel of history, much as Jake Spoon in Lonesome Dove , to establish a wholly undeserved reputation as a legal thinker worthy of some deference. For those who don't recall the inglorious facts, this tendency reached it's apogee when, during the Clinton impeachment trial, Specter voted "Not Proven" as opposed to "not guilty" or "guilty" archaic verdict form (sometimes known as; "not guilty, and don't do it again") once prevalent in Scottish law and, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere else. If nothing else, this alone should cement Specter's already well-deserved reputation as tiresome pedant and coward.

Now, normally, I don't trash Specter - I leave that to the long-suffering Republicans. However, this afternoon, I find that he is all over the TV asserting that the AIG retention bonus contracts are not unenforceable . This is not true. This is a lie. Specter knows that it is a lie. Arlen Specter is a liar.

In support of his ludicrous position Specter claims that the contracts are void "as a matter of public policy" and cites to the Restatement Of Contracts to buttress this argument. More specifically, Specter avers that the contracts are void ab initio in the same way a contact for the sale of heroin, for the sale of a human slave, or for the personal service of prostitution would be. Of course, those contracts are void because the subject matter of the hypotyhetical contracts are in and of themselves criminal. Citing "Public Policy" and appealing to the Restatement Of Contracts is lawyerspeak for "I have no statutory or case law in support of my position".

And, in fact, the stimulus and TARP legislation in question specifically allow for these bonus payouts, provided that they accrue to the recipients for services rendered predating the passage of the legislation.

Personally, I am, for the first and hopefully last time in my life, wholly in agreement with Sen. Grassley's recommendation that the AIG crew commit ritual seppuku. But the only thing worse than letting AIG get the money is having our legislature ignore the laws that they themselves are responsible for.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zero-Sum Revisited

The shrieking of fools like James Glassman and Larry Kudlow temporarily made the whole idea of zero-sum economic games rather unfashionable. Here is a very good article explaining it's continung relevance and why, in reality, it ends up being a little worse than zero-sum. Oh, by the way, this guy actually makes his clients some do-re-mi. Talk about unfashionable.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Marty Peretz: Sometimes It Takes A Shill

There is little to say about the public flogging of Jim Cramer at the capable hands of Jon Stewart that has not been said already. But Marty Peretz's defense of Cramer represents such a perfect apex of hackery that it merits some notice. I guess if you have spent a few years as the lapdog for Likud, shilling for a buddy and former business partner presents no problem at all....particularly if, like Perez, you long ago lost any claim to journalistic credibility you may ever have possessed.

The short version of Peretz's defense is that, though Jim Fallows and Edward R. Murrow are over-rated, self-righteous cockatoos, Jim Cramer is an under-appreciated egalitarian journeyman tilling away in the vineyards of the Lord. Cramer is merely getting the rough treatment because he is one of us little guys, tooling up to the CNBC parking lot in his two year old KIA with it's dented fender while Jon Stewart is presumably sipping champagne with Axl Rose and getting BJs from his Filipino houseboy.

Lastly, and most ludicrously, Peretz claims that the stratospheric ratings for the Cramer episode of The Daily Show are simply because Jim Cramer has an Elvis-like ability to pack in a crowd. This is so deluded that....well, if he actually believes this, maybe we've finally found a buyer for those GM shares.

I hope that this doesn't end Cramer's career. It probably won't because this is America and, with notable exceptions like O.J. Simpson and Bernie Madoff, we don't do public tragedy that much. It can't help though because Cramer did the one thing Americans really won't put up with. He came out looking small.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Your Justice System At Work


MUSKOGEE — A 44-year-old Muskogee man is being given probation after pleading guilty to raping a 6-year-old girl.

Vincent Martin LeCompte was given a 20-year suspended sentence Thursday as part of a plea deal on the first-degree rape charge.

Assistant District Attorney Shannon Otteson says prosecutors agreed to the deal because the victim already has testified three times.

Clearly a great defense attorney. Clearly a nauseating result.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

If He Plays, We Must Praise

Purty writing can never be lauded too highly. Here is a very nice, tender and compassionate piece by James Matthew Wilson. Sample:
We marched in support of the foundation of charity at the root of any Christian society; we marched in declaring the liberty of the Catholic Church to feed its flock no matter where that flock might be, and no matter what its circumstances. We did not march in complacent favor of the destructive effects of illegal immigration on American society, in support of “redistributing” income from the poorest Americans to the poorest foreigners, or in scorn of the rule of law exercised within its constitutional limits.

No one would know why we marched that day, however, just to look at us. And few persons trouble themselves to recognize how the advocates of rampant, open, and unregulated immigration into this country are pleased to pit the interests of the poor against the poor. Those same advocates-ever ready to put a knife to the throat of the Catholic Church, when it proclaims its gospel of justice and charity regarding the dignity of the unborn, the importance of private property and free association, and the sovereignty of the family-were doubtless happy that day to take advantage of that Church to swell the crowds and defeat any meaningful effort to slow the economic and cultural dissolution of our country.

Concern respecting immigration isn't always a dog whistle for bigotry. I wish that more spokesmen were this articulate. I further wish that this could be distributed to every Parish in the country.

Ten People That I Would LIke To Talk To

1. Leo Tolstoy
2. Richard Nixon
3. Carol Lynley
4. Ron Paul
5. RuPaul
6. Pope Benedict
7. Sammy Davis Jr.
8. Ursula LeGuin
9. W.M. Thackeray
10. Jane Austen

Wouldn't it be fascinating and revealing to play Boswell to them? To ask "What do you think of Britney Spears last disc?" and "Oh, really, why is that".

Rush Limbaugh - What A Very Small Man

Speaking of penises:
"Before it's all over, it'll be called the Ted Kennedy memorial health care bill"

The Blue Penis Post

Is he hung? Listen punk,
He's got radioactive spunk

Phoebe Connelly points out that the furor over Dr. Manhattan's Olympic-sized indigo dong is indicative of our culture's discomfort with the penis. She is right. I'm even uncomfortable in the presence of my own penis, never mind someone else's blue and radioactive one.
I used to go out with a lady who worked at the nuthouse in Concord, NH. One of her "clients" was frightened by his own erections.....if he got a hard-on he would take out running, as though he could somehow flee from the damn thing. I think I have felt much the same way myself. Seems like there is a metaphor there, somewhere.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

GOP And Business -The Honeymoon Is Over

Well, I predicted something like this:
he fight over President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan shined a light on the growing gap between Big Business and the GOP. While House Republicans voted unanimously against the legislation — twice — the vast majority of major business groups lobbied hard for it.

Eric Gomez Crawls Back Down

As if to emphasize the appropriate nature of the group's name, as well as demonstrating his uncertain grasp of First Amendment jurisprudence in the defamation area, City Councilor Eric Gomez initially threatened to sue community organizer Julie Hall and the organization Who Owns Tulsa for this allegedly defamatory statement:
"And, that has been a pattern that we've seen with him and his voting, when his constituents voice their concerns, he votes the other way,"

Now it would appear that Gomez has abandoned the notion of litigation and is willing to "settle for an apology". Actually, an apology from the City Council to the residents of the regrettably named White City neighborhood would be far more in order.
The Council has done a first-rate job of portraying the White City protest as a simple NIMBY problem, and one must concede that there is some of that involved. But then one remembers that the construction/development interests downtown want the YMCA relocated because it interferes with their backyard, and specifically with their misguided and phantasmal vision of a revitalized downtown (I've lived through at least four of these doomed schemes already and I've come to know a boondoggle when I see one). The White City residents noted that Tulsa has a much more appropriate setting for the mental patients and alcoholics living at the "Y" - a location boasting excellent proximity to high-quality medical care and good access to the public transportation lines which would connect the new neighbors to the social services and blood banks downtown. Yeah, you got it....Utica Square would be the perfect new location for the "Y" and would permit the downtown Mob an opportunity to develop their nascent egalitarian impulse. Maybe some of the Cascia hall moms could swap their prescription Somas for a little crank or junk with the new arrivals to the community.

Who owns Tulsa? We already know the answer to that one, and it ain't us. But Julie Hall and her friends deserve a salute for fighting the good fight, anyway.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Waltz from Oldboy

Great movie. Great tune. Good, sensitive performance. Notice the dynamics.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great Moments In Gibberish

(h/t Ronald Bailey)

Gov. Mark Sanford: Well I think that it’s just, and science is more and more documenting this, is that there are real “chinks” in the armor of evolution being the only way we came about. The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being... is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of ... in essence, destruction.

Fala Is Dead And He Ain't Coming Back

Bob Herbert sez:

The U.S. economy cannot work if ordinary men and women cannot find work. Let’s forget for a moment all the ritualized lingo about tax cuts, all the easy but uninformed talk about entitlement reform and all the empty rhetoric about balancing budgets that will never be truly balanced in our lifetimes.

I very much wish Mr. Herbert is right but I fear that he is the one indulging in "ritualized lingo". Entitlements can indeed be reformed and budgets can be balanced....with a vengeance. It is called going broke and, as Robby The Robot said, "it is quite close now".

The recent run of celebrated air disasters have provided very clear illustrations of the difference between a controlled descent (currently known as a miracle)and an uncontrolled descent (currently known as a crash with no survivors). If we don't get very serious -painfully serious - about paying down our debt and, at the very least, radically reforming our medical costs then runaway inflation, a blown dollar, and a generation lost to economic eclipse is guaranteed. These problems are not just Republican talking points.In the event of a total economic collapse the budget will virtually balance itself as all interests meet on the comon ground of want.

I appreciate Herbert's commitment to some form of infrastructure investment....but lets not try to justify it as some sort of stimulative panacea. We just don't have the cash or the line of credit available for a Keynesian stimulus of the magnitude required to make that kind of an impact. Lets not be seduced by some nostalgic WPA fantasy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

John Derbyshire - A Neo-Rockefeller?

Here's a very entertaining article by right-wing curmudgeon John Derbyshire, "How Radio Wrecks The Right" in which he outlines the manifold ways in which the Dittoheads contribute to the petrification of the GOP.

He's right, of course, but fortunately the process of ossification is too far advanced for his counsel to be heard. This is probably why the article is published in The American Conservative, the Warsaw Ghetto/leper colony of conservative magazines. Even so, one of the lunatics at Free Republic went so far as to describe Derbyshire as a "neo-Rockefeller" type, which is a hoot. For those who haven't read him , the man is not merely right-wing but Screaming Monster Loony right-wing. Still not quite crazy enough for the Alan Keyes grokking brown-shirts that seem to constitute an amazingly large proportion in what's left of the Party,though.

Alan Keyes - "A Highly Articulate Thug"

Just in case you aren't already a Ta-Nehisi Coates fan, here is one reason you should be:
Keyes, a product of the Ivy Leagues, has long been held aloft as some sort of intellectual of the far right. But anyone who's ever seen the wannabe Malcolms coming out of the prison talking "knowledge of self," anyone who's read Soul On Ice, knows exactly what Alan Keyes is--a highly articulate thug.

Couldn't possibly say it better. The comparison to Eldridge Cleaver is brilliant. That's gonna leave a mark.

Luskin Riots?

Gee, did I say something about a public impulse toward gibbets and guillotines? I go over the top sometimes. don't I? Except that it is a matter of real concern in London. From the Guardian:
Britain's most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming "footsoldiers" in a wave of potentially violent mass protests.

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police's public order branch, told the Guardian that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.

He said that banks, particularly those that still pay large bonuses despite receiving billions in taxpayer money, had become "viable targets". So too had the headquarters of multinational companies and other financial institutions in the City which are being blamed for the financial crisis.

Luskin, Santelli and the rest of the hoo-hah gang need to wake up to how bad things could get. It may be that we need to worry less about the comparisons to 1929 and more about Jacques Necker and the clueless aristocrats on the eve of The Terror.

Filesharing Textbooks

Another business model bites the dust (warning: link opens in .pdf format).

Oh, The Post - Humanity

Heal the sick,
Raise the dead
Make the little girls go outta their head.

From the TED conference (I'm an addict), Juan Enriquez on "the ultimate reboot".

The Unbearable Lightness Of Pockets

Michael O'Hara laments the shackling of women by means of their handbags.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Donald Luskin - A Portrait Of Utter Depravity

Just when you thought you had already seen the absolute worst in mendacity, venality and shameless greed that Modern Times have to offer -well, then along comes Donald Luskin to remind us all that the bottomless depths of Man's fallen nature are known only to God.

Brad De Long has long referred to Luskin as "the stupidest man alive", or at least until Luskin's awesome consistency disqualified him from further consideration for the title (only fair to give others a shot), but there is no way in which I could have prepared myself for his bald-faced indignation that the roulette-spinning brokers and Banco-playing bankers who have mortgaged the future of the country should receive anything less than the six million dollar bonuses to which they have become accustomed. Say what you will about the Red Chinese or the Mafia, but at least they have the sound judgment to reward incompetence on this scale with a lead bonus deposited right behind the ear.

In the pomposly titled screed "The Beginning Of The End For Investing" Luskin gibbers

Typically, highly compensated people on Wall Street earn fairly low salaries, but then get large annual bonuses — usually based on performance. Title VII turns that upside down. No more pay for play. It's all about salary now. So if a bank normally pays a superstar trader a nominal salary of $200,000 — and in a home-run year he earns himself a $10 million bonus — the only way to pay him the same total amount is to raise his salary to about $6.6 million. He'd then get that salary even if he did a lousy job in a given year.

And can you imagine the howling from the Congress and the media if we paid huge salaries to these people? There'd really be no choice but to drastically cut back their total compensation.

What superstar traders? The short sellers? Those domestic petroleum speculators sitting on their stock until the price of crude comes roaring back? As hilzoy has pointed out not all that long ago, it certainly wouldn't be the not-so-prescient Mr. Luskin, who continued to blindly march down Main Street beating the boosterism bass drum long after the economy had gone off the proverbial cliff.

Were performance to be rewarded, we would be talking gibbets, guillotines and breaking rocks in the hot sun....not bonuses and bailouts. And I am guessing that this sentiment is shared across the country on a truly bipartisan basis.

P.S. The truly morbid might enjoy (really not the right word) a quick recap of Luskin's delusional and increasingly hysterical prognostications over the months since the collapse of Lehman Bros..

Jim Bunning Is An Asshole

And a particularly disgusting one at that.

At a Lincoln Day Dinner speech over the weekend, Bunning predicted that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer in nine months, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The paper reports that Bunning reiterated his support of conservative judges, saying “that’s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg…has cancer.”

Cold? Check. Vicious? Check. Incredibly stupid? Check, check, check.

Alternative Tulsa Needs To Pass The Smoke

....because it's gotta be some pretty good shit.

Yet the election of Bell puts Tulsa Republicans increasingly out of step with the public, even with Republican voters. Bell, after all, is a proud John Birch Society member and its a safe bet that few GOP voters under 40 have ever heard of John Birch.

Bell's Ron Paul connection is equally problematic since the deservedly obscure Rep. Paul proved to be a colossal dud among GOP primary voters last year. (How many primaries did Paul win?)

Then there's the losing record of Bell herself, defeated in her race for county commissioner in a heavily Republican county.

Add in her ties to GOP has-been Chris Medlock, former city councilor who lost a race for mayor and the state legislature, and you have local Republican leadership so hapless, cranky and right-of center that anyone even remotely interested in sensible public policy is likely to flee to the Democrats.

As we said at the outset, with Sally Bell in charge, it's a great time to be a Tulsa Democrat.

Wow. Where to begin? First of all, during the Presidential, Tulsa marched in lockstep with every other Oklahoma County to join Alabama in the ranks of "least progressive State" in the Union. Some of that was due to our good ol'fashioned, unreconstructed racism, but not all off it. If our Democratic talent doesn't come from Muskogee or Cherokee County or, God Forbid, from Little Dixie it doesn't come at all. It is easier to find a live octopus here than it is to find an elected Democrat. Texas will go blue before Tulsa does - count on it.

Secondly, by his vigorous opposition to much of the construction and realty interests that treat City Hall as their own personal fiefdom, Chris Medlock actually takes the more progressive position. Greater transparency, neighborhood empowerment....what's so Neanderthal about that?

Lastly, Ron Paul performed shockingly well in the Republican Primaries, particularly since his anti-war, anti-deficit zeal flew right in the teeth of the putative leader of his Party as well as being in harp deviance from the Republican base. Yet, IIRC, he outpolled the "inevitable nominee" Rudy Giulianni and may well have factored in McCain's win in South Carolina.

I'm all for Democratic optimism, but a little realism is usually a good thing.

GOP Suicide

If there were a Darwin Award for politics, this would surely be a nominee:

Sunday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced he would join his neighbor, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, in turning down federal incentives to expand unemployment insurance coverage; both are Republicans.

"It would require us in the future to raise the unemployment tax," Gov. Barbour said in an interview at the meeting of the National Governors Association. "We're looking to create more jobs. It's a practical matter."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dollhouse - Episode 2

OK, I confess, I enjoy Joss Wheadon. Or at least I liked Firefly. And Mad Men and Breaking Bad aren't around so I gave this show a try. The pilot was more or less a huge disappointment, mostly due to the rigorous "stand-alone" episode format which Wheadon has said was imposed on him from above.

But I persevered and gave the thing another try and sho' nuff, the second episode showed a modest improvement....not the plot of the episode itself, which was yet another rehash of "The Most Dangerous Game", but at least you could feel a fairly complex backstory trying to break out as Echo (the dramatically challenged Elisha Dushku) begins to come unstitched at the old psychological seams. And, as a matter of fact, her non-personality is unraveling at such a pace as to make one wonder how they are going to keep the Island-like premise of the show's setting going for very long.

Another word about Elisha Dushku: she's just awful. I quite dig the scarfaced lady doctor, though.

Anthony Bourdain - A Foodie After My Own Heart

He digs MSG.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Paul Volcker Takes it Personal

One telling anecdote from a great talk.

One of the saddest days of my life was when my grandson – and he’s a particularly brilliant grandson – went to college. He was good at mathematics. And after he had been at college for a year or two I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said, “I want to be a financial engineer.” My heart sank. Why was he going to waste his life on this profession?

A year or so ago, my daughter had seen something in the paper, some disparaging remarks I had made about financial engineering. She sent it to my grandson, who normally didn’t communicate with me very much. He sent me an email, “Grandpa, don’t blame it on us! We were just following the orders we were getting from our bosses.” The only thing I could do was send him back an email, “I will not accept the Nuremberg excuse.”

Maybe The GOP Should Run Rick Santelli

This is actually a pretty articulate takedown of the mortgage bailout plan....lots better than most of what one sees coming out of the Republican caucus. The passion doesn't hurt.

The more I see of the bailout stuff the more I fall back to my original position.....let everyone fail. Expand the safety net,if need be. But don't attempt to resuscitate the corpse of the real estate bubble. Recessions and even depressions are a part of capitalism. We wouldn't be suffering from economic pneumonia now if we hadn't been so intent on using cheap credit and easy monetary policy to avoid catching recessionary colds for the past twenty years. Our debt problems will be catastrophic soon, if they aren't already, and will make for much larger structural changes than anything a depression could do.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, K-Lo thinks he has candidate potential too, whcich is pretty irrefutable evidence that this is a really bad idea. Plus, when you listen to Santelli a second time he starts to sound a little more like Howard Beale in Network.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My David Broder Problem - And Ours

Courtesy of the comments section at Balloon Juice, we are reminded in the wake of the Judd Gregg debacleof Atrios's definition of "High Broderism":

We normally think of "High Broderism" as the worship of bipartisanship for its own sake, combined with a fake "pox on both their houses" attitude. But in reality this is just the cover Broder uses for his real agenda, the defense of what he perceives to be "the establishment" at all costs. The establishment is the permanent ruling class of Washington, our betters who know better. It is their rough agenda which is sold as "centrism" even when it has no actual relationship with the political center in a meaningful way."

Nancy P. looks pretty savvy at the moment, no? Judd Gregg, who New Hampshire has long known to be a whore of the old school, fumbling for your wallets and watch before you ever hit the sack, reveals this bipartisan nonesnse to be the Chimerical Questing Beast it truly is.

Zhenya Gay

Mr. Door Tree, who blogs at Golden Age Comic Book Stories, actually covers a hell of a lot more ground than just comics. It's really one of the best spots on the web for just about all forms of twentieth-century illustration. For example, here is a very Lynd Ward-like expressionist series by Zhenya Gay illustrating De Quincey's Confessions Of An Opium Eater.

His blog is like Chocks should have some every day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

CNN's Tony Harris - No Scold Like An Old Scold

Is there anything more pleasant than watching a CNN anchor come completely unglued on air? I don't think so. While it lacks the sheer entertainment value of seeing Anderson Cooper perform while dead drunk, viewing Tony Harris wax indignant over the moderately clever "Read A Book, Nigga" video probably was more valuable, at least in terms of demonstrating the utterly conventional and humorless mindset prevailing at "America's Most Trusted News Network".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lux Interior, Dead At 62

I hadn't realized he was quite that old, to be honest. How time flies (or Flys, in this case). I was a fairly early adopter, being hooked on their Gravest Hits EP. Sex and drugs were always a little bit better with The Cramps on the stereo. Great live show,too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Powerful Ad

I don't usually do this kind of thing, but this commercial actually choked me up a bit.

In A World Beyond Irony....

.....We have DABA, or Dating A Banker Anonymous. Please tell me this is a clever hoax. Or shoot me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh, Magoo!....You've Done It Again!

Such a marvelous day in the history of our nation that it can only be slightly marred (or, if one's tastes are sufficiently perverse, enhanced) by the semi-literate pretensions and ravings of Jonah Goldberg. Here, in attempting to critique the literary merit of President Obama's inauguration speech, he plays to his strong suite and explains a basic point of human rights to those of us who are too dense to appreciate it:

But the line that grated on me most came from the bit about service and sacrifice. He said:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

No, “they” didn’t. Slaves certainly didn’t endure the lash of the of the whip out of a sense of service and sacrifice for us. That is one of the reasons slavery is so evil; it isn't voluntary.

Gosh. Is that what's wrong with slavery? Who knew? I guess I'll have to let that 14 year old girl out of the trunk of my car now and get my money back for the duct tape. Gee. I knew there was something wrong about slavery but this whole volition thing is really wild. Thanks Jonah!

But, as most of us know, the slaves did endure the lash "for us" - certainly "for" those who purported to own them, but also for their children and for the hope of a better future, however long it might be postponed.

Not content with vicodin-addled bullshit like this, we also get to endure Jonah as would-be copy editor:

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

Gathering clouds and raging storms? Really? How did that survive the first draft? Oh, and shouldn’t that be forebears not forbearers? A forbearer is someone who refrains from something.

Well, thanks to Marc Ambinder's yeomanlike work dissecting the speech, those who would care to know will recognize the "storms....clouds" imagery as allusive to a hymn by one-time slaver and later abolitionist John Newton. Perhaps that is why it survived the first draft.

I could go on (for instance, Goldberg's niggardly interpretation of the expression "forbearer" -which actually is a word, albeit an archaic one) but this time it really is too easy. Follow the link and read his whole post. I do understand that the myth of Goldberg's insight exists primarily in his own mind, but gibberish like this ought to lay that legend to rest for good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

OK, We're Doomed

I've been trying not to panic about the recession but this really makes me nervous: Beer Sales Falling With Economy.

Beer usually holds up better than other categories during tough economic times, said Benj Steinman, editor of trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights, and that trend had been holding true during this recession for some segments of the industry. But the latest figures show the market is trending downward, perhaps accelerating as global economies continue to sputter, and relief seems uncertain.

Beer is ''recession-resistant, not recession-proof,'' Steinman said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israeli Politics - Soviet Style

From Anti-War News:

Israel Bans Arab Parties From Election
Balad Chairman Asks Why Lieberman is so Afraid of Democracy

By a margin of 26-3, the Israeli Central Elections Committee decided to ban the Balad Party from running in next month’s election. By a margin of 21-8, they also banned the United Arab List-Ta’al (UAL-T). The two bans will prevent more than half of the current Arab members of Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, from running for reelection.

The Arab parties earned the ire of the most hawkish elements in the Israeli government by publicly opposing the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip. Balad likewise made enemies by explicitly calling for equal rights for all citizens of Israel, regardless of national or ethnic identity, which the ruling Kadima Party said would “undermine Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.”

A handful of Arabs will remain on the ballots across Israel, running for as-yet-unbanned Jewish majority parties, but with the general consensus among most of the population that Israeli Arabs are traitors based purely on their ethnic background, they would seem to have an uphill battle. Many disillusioned Arab voters may not vote at all, now that the only significant Arab parties aren’t allowed on the ballot.

During the discussion, Balad Chairman Jamal Zahaika called the move to ban his party “a test for Israeli democracy” and warned that the ban would lead to an outright Arab boycott of the election.

Zahaika also asked Avigdor Lieberman, the driving force behind the ban, “Why are you afraid of democracy?” Lieberman declared Balad a terrorist organization and said “whoever values life” would understand the need to ban it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Finally, Some Good News

Looks like a big win for copyright progressives:
Some digital rights advocates cheered the appointment of longtime copyright-reform champion Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

Boucher is taking over for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who will now head the Energy and the Environment subcommittee, the lawmakers announced Thursday.

As a longtime proponent of consumers' rights to lawfully copy films, books and other material, Boucher is considered a likely opponent of any entertainment industry efforts to restrict the Web. Among other measures, he is likely to oppose attempts to require Internet service providers to filter networks for pirated material.

Boucher also has tried to revamp the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to make it more consumer-friendly. Two years ago, Boucher and another lawmaker, John Doolittle (R-Calif.), introduced the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 1201), which would have softened the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. Those rules generally prohibit consumers from defeating digital rights management software aimed at limiting their ability to make copies--although the Copyright Office grants exemptions in some circumstances.

No Accounting For Taste....

....but I dig the shit out of this. Gotta be viral hit in a minute.

Spheres Of Consensus

Here is a very good article,"Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press" by Jay Rosen. Essentially, Rosen describes why the journalist class sound so unbelievably out-of-touch when dealing with any topic. As seen on the graph above, the pundits and reporters view themselves as the gatekeepers for the coveted positions within the "sphere of consensus" which, for them, defines issues that lie beyond all questioning or legitimate inquiry. Rosen argues that the sphere of consensus, as determined by the so-called MSM is deteriorating, and one gets the feeling that he sees this as a good thing.
I'm certainly inclined to agree, though I think there is a counter-argument that this is symptomatic of a decline in consensus of any kind and thus a risk of true societal deviancy and civil disintegration.

NoScript Rocks

The last straw for me was having to wait two minutes for every page at the NY Times website to load. Thanks to Firefox's NoScript add-on, this kind of bullshit is now a thing of the past. This is the bestest add-on ever. In fact, it is indispensable. Turn it on or off, as needed. No more worries about whatever blumpkin backfire some Madison Avenue web hack has decided to inflict upon your browser.
It's also a good safety measure and is Open Source to boot. Get it here if you don't use it already.

Change You Can Believe In

I always love the apocalyptic visions of James H. Kunstler. Especially when they are as on the money as this one is:

It is hugely ironic that the US automobile industry is collapsing at this very moment, and the ongoing debate about whether to "rescue" it or not is an obvious kabuki theater exercise because this industry is hopeless. It is headed into bankruptcy with one hundred percent certainty. The only thing in question is whether the news of its death will spoil the Christmas of those who draw a paycheck from it, or those whose hopes for an easy retirement are vested in it. But American political-economy being very Santa Claus oriented for recent generations, the gesture will be made. A single leaky little lifeboat will be lowered and the chiefs of the Big Three will be invited to go for a brief little row, and then they will sink, glug, glug, glug, while the rusty old Titanic of the car industry slides diagonally into the deep behind them, against a sickening greenish-orange sunset backdrop of the morbid economy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Edd Cartier Dead At 94

This is a few days late, but for some reason it hasn't been as widely disseminated among the "toony" blogs as it should be. A strange oversight for someone whose work Howard Nostrand described as "tight as a tick", saying further that it looked as if he drew with a protractor. Though his work doing illustrtions and interior cuts for The Shadow Magazine were just fine, I grew to know and love him through his SF and fantasy work for Unknown Worlds and Gnome Press (among others). Whimsical and evocative stuff.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Way We Were

Kenneth Rexroth on the Cotton Club:
One of the most ridiculous things I ever read was a description, by some French aesthete, of the old Sunset, made immortal by Armstrong, as though it was some sort of musical tempestuous Unit Meeting of the “exploited Negroes of Chicago’s stockyards and steel mills.” I have read similar things about the Cotton Club. Now I almost never went to the Sunset because, although I knew the owner, it cost in the neighborhood of thirty dollars to take a girl and dance or sit through a couple of sets. As for the Cotton Club — lest I be thought chauvinistic, let me quote Langston Hughes’s autobiography, from his chapter entitled in bitter irony “When the Negro Was in Vogue” and which you should certainly read:

White people began to come to Harlem in droves. For several years they packed the expensive Cotton Club on Lenox Avenue. But I was never there, because the Cotton Club was a Jim Crow club for gangsters and moneyed whites. They were not cordial to Negro patronage unless you were a celebrity like Bojangles (Robinson).

I have been to the Cotton Club, and let me say that in addition the acts were vulgar and chauvinistic past belief. If one of them were put on today the NAACP would have a picket line which would fill the block in front of the place. On the platform above the horrors of chorus and comics was the Ellington band, imperturbable, elegant, and infinitely contemptuous. Duke earned that famous dignity the hard way. As a matter of bitter literal fact it was cheaper to dance or listen to a white jazz band than to the more famous colored ones. I think it cost fifty cents to go to White City and enjoy the music of McPartland, Tough, Teschemacher, and Bud Freeman, and even the Coon-Saunders Band at the Blackstone was cheaper than the Sunset. Obscure gutbucket bands played places like the Fiume where only very bohemian whites ever dared to go.