Archive for September, 2005

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

I never found that Ron Paul speech about how in the middle-term run, wars in the nation tend generally hurt the political prospects of the governing party (as opposed to the short-term prospects, where they almost invariably help the party.) This was in 2002, the run-up to the War in Iraq, and the run-up to the Mid-Term elections where the Republican Party triumphed in much ballyhood but deceptively overstated fashion.

In a prior blog entry, over a year ago I laid out much of the groundwork of the twentieth century. World War One. Boy oh boy did the American public come to hate the damned thing. Wilson and the Democrats out — Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover win by landslides. Korean War. Truman’s popularity plumets… and out he goes. Eisenhower in, hinting that he will be able to end it. Vietnam destroys Lyndon Johnson — Richard Nixon is the “Peace with Honor” candidate. Vietnam eventually, though only indirectly, knocks out Nixon… a brief Democratic revival.

Well, yes, I guess you can add the Federalist Party circa 1798 to the equation… wherein the Federalist Party gained seats in the midterm election and trounced the Republicans of Jefferson, only to lose the presidency two years later and then simply fade into the ether. Though it seems we never really went to war with France, my cynical reading is that we failed to go to war even as War Fever gripped the nation… simply due to the inertia caused by a long lag-time in communications with France. IE: the American people had to “sleep on it”, and in the morning they sobered up and asked the question “Why did I want to go to war with France again?”

Americans don’t always sour on war. If it’s quick and seemingly painless, we don’t have time to sour on it — hence, say, Iraq War I or Kosovo. But the point there is that the public seem to embrace all wars when they become inevitable. Hence the elections of 1798 and 2002. I don’t know what is to be done about this… “American can’t say no”, as the Decembrists sing, and as Herman Goering once famously remarked, “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship… voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Hm… And so it goes…

Bush: Women = Horses and cats and…

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

It’s easy to riff away the song and ensuing controversy over the hip-hop song “Bush don’t like Black People” as something of a liberal self-parody. ‘Tis Shrill. Surely you’re not saying that Bush doesn’t like black people? Are all black conservatives “Uncle Tom”s, and isn’t that such a demeaning attitude? (Somewhere there’s a “Black Commentator” online editorial that muses over Bush’s choice of Janice Rogers Brown as “fitting Bush’s criteria for what a black appointment needs to be: completely insane, and more insane than any white appointment could be.”)

Perhaps Bush doesn’t dislike black people so much as he only likes WASPS… or Male WASPs… Male White Anglo Saxon Prostitu– er — Protestants.

Case in point, regarding the sex that makes up 52 percent of the American population:

One week ago, the Office of Women’s Health of the FDA “sent an e-mail notice to women’s groups and others announcing the appointment of Norris Alderson as its new acting director.” Immediately, eyebrows were raised. Alderson was a Mike Brown-redux — an “FDA veteran trained in animal husbandry who spent much of his career in the agency’s Center for Veterinary Medicine”.

Though that history was sort of deleted away and tossed into the memory box, it… it remains true that… Bush Administration appointed a Veterinarian as acting director of the Office of Women’s Health.


The last director, Susan Wood, resigned last month to protest the agency’s unwillingness to make a decision on whether to make emergency contraception more easily available.

The perils of Classic Rock Radio

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

I was listening to the classic rock station during the weekend, which is when the station does its “Rock Block”s, ie: 4 songs per artist. They were playing Rush… come to song #4, and…. I hear a horrifying piece of prog rock, a long instrumental introduction that wheedled over itself. Assembling my knowledge of Rush and how the band developed their style and honed in on their theme, and assuming that this was all there was to the song, I asked the question in my head: “All good and fine, but what does this have to do with Ayn Rand?”

Then the lyrics came out. Basically skip your way to the “We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx” line and I gotta say, This does not rock.

If I’m being given a single hit for a dystopian future on a bad rock concept album, please give me Styyx’s Mr. Roboto.

None of which is to say I didn’t want to hear that awful Rush album. The basic problem with classic rock radio, aside from the fact that hearing a dj call himself “Marty Party” demeans both the dj and the listener, is this selection of songs. There’s a large section of songs that I don’t get, didn’t want to hear the first time and don’t want to hear again. Simply put, I do not have a clue what this “Double Vision” that Foreigner is talking about, or how the metaphor they’re proporting to sing elicits any emotion from any listener out there.

Then there’s a large section of songs that I’ve heard so many times I never want to hear again so long as I live… not necessarily bad songs– but I can’t tell any more. The Classic Rock station has played the song three or four times a day for the past thirty years, and I’d just as soon not hear them again. The trouble here is opinions vary… I like all of Queen’s singles. I don’t ever need to hear “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Segar ever again. (Note: I was going to write up a list of about a dozen “Songs I Never Need to Hear Again”, but I scrapped it.)

I wonder if it’s possible for classic rock stations to expand their playlists. Horizontally, as in: play the same number of Beatles songs (or whatever artist) per day, but toss in a few that nobody really expects to hear on the radio.

But maybe that disrupts the basic rhthym of the workday. The classic rock radio listener wants familiarity. I will only tune in to “Rock Block Weekends”, because — I hate the most familiar Cheap Trick song, “I Want You To Want Me”, and like all the other Cheap Trick minor radio hits. 80 percent of the time otherwise, when announcing that they’re going to play “Cheap Trick”, the classic rock dj will play this damned song. As for Rush… I would rather hear and be amused to death by their horrifying “Temples of Syrinx” than to hear “Tom Sawyer” again. (As for the other Rush… What does Rush’s choice of bumper theme song have to do with his Right-wing Politics?

(All of this is a curious hodge. Quote-in-quote “Alternative Rock” is now the mainstream of rock, more or less, and have sort of backed its history back to British Punk of the late 1970s. Was it “London Calling”? I don’t know.)


Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

“I don’t know much about Americanism, but it’s a damned good word with which to carry an election.”

“I can’t make a damn thing out of this tax problem. I listen to one side and they seem right, and then … I listen to the other side and they seem right … . I know somewhere there is a book that will give me the truth, but I couldn’t read the book. I know somewhere there is an economist who knows the truth, but I don’t know where to find him and haven’t the sense to know him and trust him when I find him … What a job!”

Thus saideth Warren Harding, who has long been considered on respected and respectable historian’s parlor-game ranking lists of the presidents dead last. Except recently, it would seem, he’s been lifted of this burden, to the point where he is now replaced by James Buchanan — the man who couldn’t get the way out of the Civil War.

Perhaps Harding gets a bit of leeway due to the fact that he stated, while in office, that he made for a lousy president.

Previous entrants amongst supposed “all-time worst”s include James Madison, for fleeing the capital. The image was rehabilitated centuries ago… see: he wrote the damned Constitution.

Where do modern presidents rank? Namely Our current occupant? He ain’t no Harding — if he believes himself to be doing a bad job, he’s not saying it.

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Our third commitment is this: When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there’s also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created.

And thus is born… Bush the Liberal. Rove saw no other choice but to frame the reconstruction effort into those terms. Just as it was necessary to take some blame for the debacle of Hurricane Katrina, it is necessary to acknowledge race… poverty…

In the service of what, exactly?

Federal Environmental Regulation waved to spur entrepreneurship… and, um… make the impoverished sick.

The elimination of something called the Davis-Bacon Act, and thus… our poor and dispossed in New Orleans, supplied with those trailer homes as per the Bush speech (Weeee!), get wages below the prevailing national wage.

There’s more, but those two are really enough to ponder the new traveling of the nation. Did I forget to mention that those upper class tax cuts are not going to be suspended — forcing budget cuts that will surely… affect the poor? (Unless we can get Senator Stevens to cut his highways to nowhere. Let’s wait and see!)

Cuban Art

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

So there’s this guy standing out in front of the Portland Art Museum, waving a sign. “This Museum Is Racist”, or something to that effect, with a URL that anyone curious to know about the cause can go to for more information. He also is holding a portrait.

I plan on walking up to him to ask what his cause is, but a man I’m familiar with by sight (he’s fairly distinct… a skinny guy who wears a beret, I always see him taking a great deal of photographs around town, leading me to suspect he may have a photo-blog) beats me to it.

“So, why do you think this museum is racist?”
“I am Cuban. This museum does not show my art.” The man’s English is shaky enough that his statement needs further clarification.
“The museum is racist because it doesn’t have (points at him) your art?”
“No. I am Cuban. Cuban.”
“The museum is racist because it doesn’t have Cuban Art?”
“Yes. That’s it.”

He then takes his photograph. I can’t really comment on the derth of Cuban Art in the Portland Art Museum. It does have a pretty good Asian collection, though.