The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Stetson Kennedy - Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue Volume 2
I'll Fly Away - Alison Kraus & Gillian Welch, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Temporary Like Achilles - Bob Dylan, Blonde On Blonde
Stackolee - Woody Guthrie, Muleskinner Blues
Can You See Me? - The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
Caroline - The Clarks, Someday Maybe
I Can´t Explain - The Who, Live At Leeds
I'm a Man - The Yardbirds, Greatest Hits
Lovely Day - Pixies, Trompe Le Monde
Guerilla Radio - Rage Against The Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles

Not much to say, but two things:

First, I will never get over the fact that The Who's first single was so strong, captured their sound and soul so perfectly, that it was their concert opener for virtually every concert they did for 20 years. And it still rocks.

Second, I'm really glad that O Brother had the success it did, and I'm very happy for all the artists experiencing often-unprecedented popularity. But as someone who was looking forward to the movie over a year before it came out (based not on the Cohens, of whom I'm not a fan, but on the nexus of The Odyssey and musicians like Emmylou and Gillian), I always feel like one of those insufferable hipsters who were into the band before they got big. Well, this time, I really was.


Holy crap, is this good. I won't tell you anything about it, except that it's a brilliant trailer for the Shining, possibly the scariest movie I've ever seen:

Go watch this

Courtesy of a commenter over at Pandagon (I love the internets).

Blogging on the March

OK, so I've just come across Matt Yglesias' TAPPED piece on the back-and-forth over the march, and it doesn't change my mind at all (boy, that may just be the perfect blog sentence right there). As I wrote below, it seems to me that those who oppose the march object more to its character than its content. So sure enough, Matt calls it a "shindig," to make sure everyone's smelling patchouli, and he points out that hawkish New Republicans criticize the march to sidestep criticisms of their own position.

But of course, there's nothing anti-Iraq war Americans can do to change TNR's mind. TNR believes in this war (verb chosen carefully) just as surely as Powerline and Rush. TNR will use any event, including afternoon rain, to argue that their position on Iraq was and is right, and that the other side consists of unreconstructed hippies and antisemites. Wake me up when Marty Peretz retires.

The one sound point in Matt's piece is that conservatives and hawks like the Cato and Hudson Institutes are starting to change position, and we on the anti-war side need to make those links. And we do. But if he thinks that a joint press conference of Juan Cole and Larry Odom is going to dominate a news cycle, well, maybe he needs to talk to someone who doesn't work for a political weekly.

Busy busy

All these posts, and still no comment on a 18 month old book! When will I get with it?

So here's another one, although there's a tangential point about Clinton at the end:

Max Sawicky, over at Maxspeak, You Listen!, explains Why We March.

I personally haven't done any marching against the war, a combination of baby-arrival, laziness, and actual real life. I do participate in local Critical Mass, and it's exhilarating. Some of the objections to anti-war protests apply to Crit Mass as well - you're just annoying people, instead of enlisting them; it's a feel-good for participants, not a route for change - others, like the attacks on ANSWER, certainly don't. But the bottom line for lefties who object to ANSWER's role, I think is just this simple "If you don’t like ANSWER – and who could – then give people somewhere else to go." To be honest, I don't understand enough about the organizing of these events to get why it is that no one else has pulled off a big one. As Max points out, 149,000 people at the rally know or care effectively nothing about ANSWER, but know and care a lot about the war. Would it be so freaking hard for Kos or Drum to provide a non-ANSWER outlet? Maybe. But I think the truth is that they oppose the method - find it unseemly - and so the ANSWER objection is a bit of a red herring. Sure, they provide a rhetorical cudgel for the right, but really only the blog right. Scott McClelland doesn't say, "ignore that protest, it's run by Trotskyites" - that's not a mode of discourse that plays on network TV. And the talk radio creeps would call protesters Commies if they were organized by the VFW.

So, bottom line, if you think ANSWER is such a big deal, then fix it. If you won't fix it, then admit that it's not such a big deal, and talk about other things.

Bonus My Life tie-in: Max comments late in his piece that:
At bottom I think consultants, journalists, and professional politicos tend to be jaded. They see public opinion through the filter of polling data and artificial focus groups, and they forget how normal people feel. Successful politicians and organizers, on the other hand, have a better sense for what happens on the ground. But they can be wrong too.
Emphasis on "successful." A major theme of Clinton's book (at least up 'til the First Inaugural, which is where I am) is the constant threat to modern politicians of losing touch. As we all know, he revels in retail politics - paragraph after paragraph of anecdotes and personalities from his days driving the back woods and hill country of Arkansas - but it's also very clear how closely it connected him to his people. That preference - for people over punditry - is a big part of why the Beltway establishment hated him. And the fear of that hatred, the reluctance to have that preference, is a major reason that the Democratic Party is so weak right now. I doubt 95% of Dems in DC (elected or not) have any clue what's going on in the Democratic Street. They recoil from Kos and Atrios and other prominent bloggers, because they are so clearly not of the Beltway, but I'm not sure they remember that the people they represent are also not of the Beltway. I'm not sure that's a mistake Clinton ever made after he lost the governorship in 1980. It's why he won the impeachment battle, and Sally Quinn and Dave Broder (oh yeah, and Tom Delay) lost it.

A Moment for the Mets

I grew up a Mets fan, and 1986 remains one of my favorite years (the NY Rangers also won the Patrick Division that year, and of course the great Phil Simms Giants went all the way - all the teams that sucked as I grew up winning at once). My sister gives me shit because the Pirates have become #1 in my heart, but hey, I've been going to a bunch of their games every summer for 12 years now - I'm lucky to hit Shea every other year. That said, this season was very exciting for the Mets, and watching Pedro shut down the Bucs was amazing.

Now the Mets have started a new network, Sportsnet NY[can't find a link], the announcement of which the NYTimes gives a pretty bleak writeup. Apparently they're not branding it strongly as a Mets network - no orange, no serif'd NY, no catchy name. All too familiar an approach for longtime Mets fans. But the best part of the article is:
SportsNet New York can take a stand for quality sportscasting by not taking on Fran Healy, whose longevity on Mets telecasts for 22 years shows him to be a survivor despite a voice that is best muted and a fanny pack full of mediocre insights.
Back when I was in high school in NJ and hardly missed a game, the Mets had the great TV trio of Ralph Kiner, Tim McCarver (before he became a serial dead horse abuser), and Steve Zabriskie. Insightful, witty, smart. Great to listen to on WOR-9. Then came the insidious Sportschannel, sucking up more and more games into pay-TV hell. It was OK, cause we got cable, but it was the principle of the thing, and I knew it couldn't be good to hide baseball from fans. The worst, however, was the arrival of Fran Healy. No connection to the Mets - I have no idea why he was ever hired, and I can't believe he's still there (and they're all gone). So here's hoping that the Times is right, and that Healy hits the road. Good riddance.

Mr. Sunny

Krugman's piece today, a punchy litany of all the ways in which we are currently fucked, is tough to excerpt, and I can't tell you to go read the whole thing, thanks to Times Select (you might want to roll over that link, BTW). But here's a taste:
According to a new U.S. government index, the effect of greenhouse gases is up 20 percent since 1990.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a 33-year-old Wall Street insider with little experience in regulation but close ties to drug firms, was made a deputy commissioner at the F.D.A. in July. (This story, picked up by Time magazine, was originally reported by Alicia Mundy of The Seattle Times.

The Artic ice cap is shrinking at an alarming rate.

Two of the three senior positions at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are vacant. The third is held by Jonathan Snare, a former lobbyist. Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group, reports that he worked on efforts to keep ephedra, a dietary supplement that was banned by the F.D.A., legal.

According to France's finance minister, Alan Greenspan told him that the United States had "lost control" of its budget deficit.
As you can see, it's a blend of the political and the practical, composed in a way that, hopefully, will dent some people into awareness that they're linked. I doubt any of it's news to regulars on lefty blogs (actually, the OSHA one was new on me, but it's hardly unique), but we're the choir, so that's OK.

Indeed, it's interesting to think about the relationship between blogs and this piece, which is clearly indebted to them for at least some of the info, and I think a bit indebted to them for format. Because, while it's intended for cumulative effect, it's also not unlike a links post, or something in the style of Instapundit - all quickies, no comment as such, but you'd have to be pretty slow to miss the editorial POV. It also makes me think of Simon & Garfunkel's "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night," with the boys' lovely voices overlaying a news anchor's recital of the depressing year that was 1966. The key difference being, of course, that only a newscast written by PK, or a lefty blogger, would actually dare to mention all these things without taking time to emphasize Bush's bold leadership and update us all on Where the White Women are At.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

This Sucks

Best wishes to my favorite spinster aunt (referent of "my" is "favorite," not "aunt," BTW), Twisty Faster. In an apparent backlash against being blamed, the rotten patriarchy has given her breast cancer. Everybody hope, hope, hope that things turn out OK. And maybe do a little patriarchy-blaming yourselves, to lighten the load for her a bit.

I'm Back, and Santorum Is Creepier Than Ever

I've got a few things I want to write about, especially Clinton's My Life, which I've begun reading, but the thing to really spur me on is this callow, stereotypically politician-ey move from my state's embarassment of a junior Senator:
Here at the Carlisle courthouse, the College Republican rally draws to a close. The Santorum campaign is filming the event for a campaign commercial to be aired sometime next spring as the election heats up. Little 4-year-old Patrick becomes overwhelmed by the crowd and the cameras and begins to cry. Santorum takes his son in his arms and seeks out a quiet spot on the edge of the crowd, just a few feet from where I'm standing.

"You did wonderful," he says, hugging and comforting the child. "You're such a brave boy."

The cameramen pick up on the touching moment and rush over to film it. Karen follows and notices that Patrick's tear-streaked face is turned away from the camera. Karen tells her husband to turn around so their son can be filmed.

The senator obliges.
[From the Philly City Paper, via Atrios]

Fellow Pittsburgh blogger DJHlights calls Santorum the Real Life Bob Roberts, and boy, does this anecdote embody that characterization. As I say, this is not really anything that we wouldn't expect from a policitian - although it reads more like satire than reality - but coming from Mr. It Takes a Family... Jeebus, what an asshole. Casey had damn well better win (pace, Pennacchio)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some time away

OK, so after a week of scant posting, 2 weeks of none whatsoever. Tomorrow morning, we're flying to see my wife's family in Austria, some absolutely beautiful country.

There's interesting talk at City Comforts about New Orleans reconstruction right now, and over at The Poorman, this is one of the funniest things I've read in ages:
the Super-Computing Accountability Preventition Engine and Government Official Absolving Tool, or SCAPEGOAT.

See you in a couple weeks. Hope all 3 of you come back....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

R.I.H. Rehnquist

Let these words, and no others, be this corrupt man's epitaph:

Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.

A strict constructionist judge is one who favors criminal prosecutors over criminal defendants, and civil rights defendants over civil rights plaintiffs.

Oh, and maybe one of those fancy laser-etched images of a guy ready to throw a punch to make sure dirty foreigners can't vote.

Gone Quiet

Sorry about the gap there. For a little while I had little to say, then no time to say what was on my mind.

You certainly don't need me, at this late date, to state the obvious about the disastrous (non)response to Katrina. It's kind of astonishing, after the last 4 fever-dream years, that people are finally admitting (to themselves and to one another) that Bush is, in fact, a complete fuck-up. A lot of people never wanted to accept the evidence of their own eyes when it came to Bush's 7 minute freeze-up on 9-11. But I think that Little Nero with his guitar will have a lot of resonance for a long time.

Of course, it's not him that we need to beat anymore (although he does need to be neutered for the next 3 years, and this should help). But what we do need to do is to show America that this is exactly what Republicans have been promising us. This is what Reagan was promoting. This is what Newt and Grover dream of at night. And, above all, this is Compassionate Conservatism. Tell the lost residents of New Orleans that the scariest words in the English language are, "We're from the government, and we're here to help."

A lot of arguments with conservatives and libertarians should be getting a lot shorter from here on out....