Wednesday, November 30, 2005

AS decides he ought not be an ASS about TO

From the Sports Illustrated website:

“Sen. Arlen Specter on Tuesday backed off a threat to have a Senate subcommittee investigate whether the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles violated antitrust laws in their handling of Terrell Owens.

Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he talked to lawyers in the Department of Justice about the issue.

"I think it's more a matter for them than us because we've got ... a lot of matters which take precedence over this for our own time," said Specter, R-Pa.”

You’re right, Arlen: the Senate has other concerns which ought to “take precedence” over defending this arrogant jackass.

If you want to get into defending an “arrogant jackass”, why not look to the head of your own
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staggeringly brilliant Bush/Cheney Monty Python parody

From comments on

The wise Sir Cheney was the first to join King Bush's
Chickenhawks, but other illustrious names were soon to follow:
Sir Rummy the almost Brave; Sir Delay the ImPure; and Sir Frist the
Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Rummy who had nearly fought the Squawb
Of Baghdad, who had nearly stood up to the vicious Turkey of Teheran
and who had personally wet himself at the Battle of the Hill; and
the aptly named Sir Not-a man Rice. Together they formed
a band whose names and deeds were to be retold throughout the minutes,
the Chickenhawks of the not so Round Table.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Commuting murder

The Buddhist precepts say "Don't kill." They also accept the occasional necessity of "gentle violence", and the resulting bad karma, in order to prevent greater suffering or more death. A good Buddhist is not necessarily someone who refuses to kill under any circumstances. Rather, a good Buddhist is one who recognizes the terrible, lasting, uncountable negative impact of killing, and who yet may, in certain circumstances, willingly take on that negative karma to prevent further suffering.

Taking life is a terrible thing--and to do it knowingly, intentionally, or pre-meditatively is worse. And it is a terrible thing whether an individual or the state does it. As Lenny Bruce said, "The Commandant doesn't say 'Thou shalt not kill except.'"

Virginia governor Mark Warner has granted clemency to Robin Lovitt, who otherwise would have been the 1,000th person executed since the Nixon Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Regardless of Warner's motives, it was the right choice, even if a very painful one for the relatives of the murdered Clayton Dicks.

Let us hope that others in a position to grant clemency take heart from this example.

Arnold, are you listening?

Prayers for all affected.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ol' Dave Letterman can still crack the whip

"President Bush, is on his Asian tour now.  He'll visit Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia.  Once again, he's skipping Vietnam."
---David Letterman

Tom Englehardt's "Losing the Fear Factor: How the Bush Administration Got Spooked"

Fantastic Mother Jones article articulating just how and why language reveals that the Bush/Cheney oligarchy is coming apart at the seams. Maybe the Democrats will even grow sufficient guts to take back Congress in ’06.



Thursday, November 17, 2005

The bravest man in Congress

Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a former Marine and a Vietnam vet, has called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. His 8-minute video segment on the CNN website is the most cogent, damning, and bravest response to the Bush-Cheney madness so far offered by a member of Congress. What the cowards and shills at CNN left out was Murtha's response to a reporter's citation of Cheney and Hastert questioning his (Murtha's) patriotism:

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments [Cheney] and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

They are evil men and he has called them out. It's damning him with faint praise to call him "The bravest man in Congress," but he is.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cultural Diversity in Music Education

Off to OZ in the AM. Long trip: Lubbock-Dallas-LAX-(Hawaii)-Brisbane. Leave Tuesday AM, arrive Thursday AM.

Presenting a workshop at the conference "Cultural Diversity in Music Education" on use of indigenous teaching methods for teaching diverse musics: "Trusting the Tradition." Look for a chapter on the philosophical and pedagogical bases for this in the forthcoming conference proceedings.

Also a chance to hook up with Down-Under Irtradders and my old friend from Bloomington Gerardo Dirie.

Will post travel snaps.

Setting the bar for academic engagement: Howard Zinn

One of my great heroes. b1922 in Brooklyn, a decorated WWII vet, author of the People's History of the United States, chair of history at Spelman college and an advisor to SNCC during the Freedom Rides.

Howard Zinn said:

"I would encourage people to look around them in their community and find an organization that is doing something that they believe in, even if that organization has only five people, or ten people, or twenty people, or a hundred people. And to look at history and understand that when change takes place it takes place as a result of large, large numbers of people doing little things unbeknownst to one another. And that history is very important for people to not get discouraged. Because if you look at history you see the way the labor movement was able to achieve things when it stuck to its guns, when it organized, when it resisted. Black people were able to change their condition when they fought back and when they organized. Same thing with the movement against the war in Vietnam, and the women's movement. History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place."

If the nation survives, it will be because of heroes like them. And him.

FW: brilliant parodies: "If Fox News Had Been Around Throughout History"

My faves:


Wallace defiant: “We will not negotiate with terrorists.”


Terrorists seize B.E.I. tea. King George: “They Hate America.”

Pass ‘em on!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Say goodnight, Ken

Kenneth Tomlinson, the Republican appointee who used public funds to commission political analyses seeking "bias" in the work of Bill Moyers--the man who helped invent the Corporation for Public Broadcasting--has been fired from the CPB board, after having been forced out as Director. There's a Senate-commissioned audit/analysis coming which is going to confirm all of Tomlinson's exploitative, cynical, opportunistic, and vicious political maneuvering. Say goodnight, Ken. Go make your millions in the private sector, and leave the short bread and clean ethics of public broadcasting to those who actually have a conscience.

One more Bush/Neo-con appointee bites the dust. And he won't be the last.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another Gilded Age

Though I'm not an American political history specialist, a parallel has occurred to me, in an attempt to make sense of the current political environment and the sense that, although the country is skidding ever-more toward oligarchic totalitarianism, there was another era to come.

I'm reminded of the Gilded Age (Mark Twain's term), that period between post-Civil War Reconstruction and the onset of the Spanish-American war. It was the period of America's greatest industrialization to date, a period that saw the mushrooming power of huge "trusts" (vast monopoloistic corporations) and of their murderous repression of labor organizing (murder, torture, violations of civil liberties), the period of America's first massive imperial and colonial aspirations (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Panama Canal, Hawaii, etc). Corporations owned government; politicians were controlled by corporations; the wealthy were enriched; the poor were repressed and the social safety net (barely in existence) was constantly attacked. External bugaboos ("Bolsheviks," "Jews," etc) were used to justify the erosion of domestic civil liberties, activists were jailed and deported without trial.

But it also led to the Wobblies (the "One Big Union"), American progressivism in Greenwich Village and North Beach, the first public hospitals and libraries, and the "trust-busting" of Teddy Roosevelt.

So what follows a "Gilded Age"? Revulsion: when the middle class who really dictate long-erm social change reject the greed, chauvinism, and naked imperialism of the oligarchy. It takes a long time--but it works.

Slate agrees.