Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pow! Nailing the Hammer

Tom DeLay was indicted today by a Texas grand jury for conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme. He's been a vicious and greedy power-broker for years, but finally, through the hard and courageous work of a lot of people who DeLay attempted to strongarm or otherwise intimidate, he's been called and will have to answer. Word is he will step down as House majority leader.

After Iraq, Katrina/New Orleans, "Brownie" and FEMA, Karl Rove's treachery, Halliburton and $4 gas, and now DeLay's demotion, Congressional Republicans are peeing their pants over the inevitable losses they'll take in the 2006 mid-term elections.

7pm, later that day: Time magazine agrees.
7:30pm: the Post reports there are Mafia ties.

Now is the time for the leftist coalition to step up the pressure.

Fantastically good news, even if the Hammer never does time. Say goodbye time: prepare for the celebrity golf circuit.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Benedict: the Church of Paul, Torquemada, and and Pius XII...not of Augustine, Francis, or Merton

Lest there would be any question about relaxation of doctrinal rigidity or expansion of compassionate tolerance, the new pope--a former hatchetman and rules-enforcer for John Paul II--has declared himself firmly in the hateful, condemnatory, hierarchical, and judgmental tradition of the misogynist Paul, the Inquisitorial Torquemada, and the anti-Semitic Pius XII, with a bull banning gays from the priesthood entirely.

Benedict is another in a long line of hate-preaching Popes. A sad day for the church of compassion, inclusivity, tolerance, and love preached by St Augustine, St Francis, and Thomas Merton.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

News: buried but hugely important

Kofi Annan and almost all member nations managed to overcome objections from John Bolton (the US representative to the UN who had to be an interim appointee for Bush because Bolton has been such an asshole to so many people for so long) to retain language in the UN's 60th anniversary declaration that makes explicit the "right to protect." It was carefully kept out of the US press, but the Guardian website reports that "the world community has the right to take military action in the case of "national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity".

What this means, of course, is that the world community has a duty to take military action in such cases. Further, that any member nation which fails to take such action, in the case of "national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations," is culpable in such crimes against humanity.

To quote Jeb Bartlett, "Congratulations, folks. We've got ourselves a doctrine."

Now it's a question of getting greedy and cowardly world leaders to employ that doctrine in cases of human rights, rather than only in cases of oil or imperialism.

Monday, September 19, 2005

This is an example of the outrageous and cynical political opportunism of the Bush II White House. The Shrub himself, as a policy-maker, "leader," and the person ultimately responsible for appointing utterly incompetent federal officials, is massively at fault for the loss of life and property--the sheer magnitude of human suffering--which Katrina caused. But his handlers want to minimize the degree to which Bush II is blamed for this. So the handlers set up a website which puts the Bush name (Bush I, but it's the family name) in direct proximity to (and preceding) that of Clinton, who whatever other faults he possessed really did care, demonstrably, about poor people, and links both the Bush and Clinton names to Katrina relief.

Why not simply ""?


Because ultimately, for the Bush White House everything--even charity--is about spin and image control. If they could make more political capital about claiming that Katrina victims' suffering was their "own fault", they would. In fact, they did: just ask Brownie. If they could make more political capital by fobbing off responsibility on local or state officials, they would; just ask Condi. If they could make more capital about claiming the victims were now "better off," they would. In fact, they did: just ask Barbara (and there's a person who's going to spend a few extra eons in the lower circles of hell).

Clinton himself slammed the Bush government today for their disregard of the poor. But the Bushies know that shame is irrelevant to political gain--they'll claim anything, no matter how bald-faced the lie, and rely on the Goebbelsian "Big Lie" to put it across.

Make the Lie big enough, and loud enough, and repeat it often enough, and people will believe it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Sorry for relative dearth of posts. We've started the Fall semester here at TTU, and though I'm teaching courses I've taught before, all of us in the MUHL department (Angie, myself, Stacey Houck, Cara Pollard) are drastically ramping-up the "wired" nature of our presentations. So now all of my lectures are on PowerPoints, played from the laptop, and almost all the in-class audio and video is likewise from the laptop. It massively improves our content delivery, and certainly is much more engaging for our students--who are very visually-oriented and essentially "post-literate." But it's time consuming and takes a lot of concentration: to make sure the wireless works everywhere in the buildings, that the laptops can talk to each other, that the FM transmitters from the iPods and laptops to the permanent audio racks work, etc.

Newest: got the wireless network online at home (typing from there now, in fact). This drastically expands the amount of work we can do at home--especially on two computers at once--which unfortunately makes it that much harder to drag oneself away from the laptop. Should be more up-to-date with blogs, though.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

"Coyotebanjo" and

Friends and neighbors:

Brief commercial announcement:

My Irish traditional music disc, Coyotebanjo, with Randal Bays (fiddle) and Roger Landes (bouzouki), plus guests Angie Mariani (singing "Short Jacket and White Trousers" and "So Early in the Spring") and John Perrin (bodhran on four tracks) has shipped and I've got copies in hand. 71:00 minutes of music. Buy from me on the gigs or via The latter site has excerpts of all tracks.

On another note: my website is up in a preliminary version:
Includes complete liner notes, gig list, photos, etc.

Feel free to visit, sign the mailing list, leave a note in the guestbook so I know you've been.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

How our President "leads," and, the elephant in the Republican living room

Last night Bill Maher, on his Real Time monolog, did a bit about where viewers could go to help "those victims most devastated by Katrina," and gave the number of the Republican National Committee.

The elephant in the Republican living room, the huge bugaboo too few in the media have been willing to confront, is the right wing's racist and classist priorities. The Republican party is overwhelmingly concerned with benefitting the privileged and the wealthy, and they use their political power to protect those parties: they cut public school funding because rich kids go to private school, they cut public college funding because rich kids go to private colleges, they cut public health care because rich folks all have health insurance, they limit the ability of customers to sue for malpractice because the rich are not victimized by malpractice, they support an all-volunteer army because a draft would impact rich kids, they send poor kids in the "volunteer" army to fight wars that build the trust funds of rich kids.

The fact of the matter is that Republican public policy ever since Hoover has been to ignore, exploit, and neglect the poor. That is the elephant in the Republican living room, the enormous and contemptible class warfare practiced by the rich against the poor.

And so it becomes more convenient, and better political strategy, to imply that somehow poor people are at fault for the tragedies inflicted upon them. In this country, many of the poor are not Anglo. And so, when you have a city in crisis, one of the most culturally-rich but economically-strapped (not to mention corrupt--I used to live there), in which the people worst hit are poor, brown, and disenfranchised, then you don't really have to concern yourself with their political responses to a government's criminal neglect.

FEMA's own director said that if people were told to evacuate, and didn't, they more-or-less deserved what happened to them. He ignored the fact that many didn't have transport, that no public/federal transport was made available in time, that many of those who stayed didn't dare leave, for the same reason that Iraqis refuse to leave war zones. If everything you own, everything you've spent your life working hard to try to build (home, business, personal belongings) is going to be abandoned to looters by a government to cheap to send military defense in time, of course you won't leave.

Bush has created economic, personal, or human disasters in every job he's ever held, and every one he's abandoned. Of course he presumes that people can just leave if a disaster looms--that's what he's always done.

And how do the Bush handlers try to "shift the story"? They send him to New Orleans so he can be photographed hugging a black person. That photo tells a very very profound lie: about Bush, about Bush's government, about Republican public policy.

They are greedy villainous scoundrels. The level of incompetence in the Bush White House and congress should have the opposition talking impeachment.

And Condoleeza Rice, who was shopping at Ferragamo and attending Spamalot as Katrina hit, and who has no domestic policy brief, was nevertheless trotted out to "sharply contest" the idea that the White House was neglecting black people. She is beyond contemptible.

But the chickens are coming home to roost. Here are some predictions--test my own political savvy:

  • The oral/vernacular culture of New Orleans will survive: the music, food, community feeling, and attachment many feel for the place will all live on. But the physical culture--most notably, the historic buildings--will be virtually obliterated by large-scale government and corporate jackals who will make millions through rebuilding in a faceless generic style designed to titillate the tourists and ignore the locals--kind of like they're doing in Baghdad.
  • Bush will rebound from the devastating condemnation of his lacking leadership with his core support (social conservatives, Congress, multinational corporations, foreign oil-based governments) largely intact, because that core support doesn't give a shit about poor people. Kind of like in Baghdad.
  • The mainstream Democratic party leadership will give lip service to condemning the Republican response, but they will not dig too deeply into the criminal financial and federal neglect that led to the levees breaking, because then they would have to admit their own massively cowardly, obsequious behavior in the face of Republican naked-fist greed. Just like they did with the Congressional resolution giving Bush wartime powers to invade Iraq.
  • Grass-roots oppositional organizations and leaders--PAC's, news outlets, organizers, and new left-wing candidates--will by comparison speak out in brutal and effective terms about Republican neglect.
  • As a result, the Republicans will lose seats in, and probably control of, the Senate in the 2006 elections. The only Republican governors in the Katrina states who keep their seats will be those who (a) have risen to the challenge of leading effectively and courageously, and (b) distance themselves from the Bush White House. Congressonal Republican rats weill depart the Bush ship, but it will not retain them the Senate.
  • As a result, 2006-08 will find Bush a complete lame-duck president, unable to pass legislation, increasingly out-of-touch with day-to-day governing and concerning himself (insofar as someone of his limited IQ is capable of doing) with his "place in history."
  • But his "place in history" is already assured: he'll be seen in the same light as Herbert Hoover, who played with his dog on the White House lawn throughout the Great Depression, and Woodrow Wilson, who after a stroke was effectively comatose for most of his second administration.
  • The issue in 2006-08 will be to see how far the Republican right wing might be willing to go to try to retain control of the Executive--up to and including changing the Constitution. If Bush manages to pad the Supreme Court, the right wing might succeed.
Addenda next day (9.4.05): Renquist has died. Though no one should mourn that "vengeful geek" (HS Thompson), who was a judicially-incompetent Nixon appointee, the Bushies will use his death to further try to pad the Court in support of the above. A majority of respondents to a CNN poll favor an appointment from within the current Court, but the Bush White House will use this as an opportunity to further skew the judiciary. Look for one of the obedient social conservatives--Scalia or, God help us, Thomas--to be appointed Chief, and for Roberts's nomination to be fast-tracked.

Worst-case scenario: If it looks to the Bushies that they can't get Jeb into the White House in '08, they will be working from '06 to change the Constitution and seek the Shrub a third term.


There are no words.

Go here and help.