Thursday, March 31, 2005

TOM DELAY'S VEILED THREATS
AGAINST DOCTORS AND JUDGES

From U.S. Newswire, courtesy of Think Progress, courtesy of Eschaton:

"Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo's friends in this time of deep sorrow."

And that's pretty much the whole statement. If you want to see it as published on U.S. Newswire, click here.

God, what a nut.

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Guest Blogger Miles

Houston Police use tasers on minorities 90% of the time

Houston police officers used Tasers on minorities in almost 90 percent of the incidents in which they shocked people in recent months, prompting civil rights groups Wednesday to call for tighter controls on the use of the stun guns.

Leaders from the ACLU, LULAC and NAACP requested a meeting with Police Chief Harold Hurtt to express concern about officers' use of the 50,000-volt alternative weapons since the police department bought 3,700 of them last year.

Officers stunned people with Tasers in 144 incidents between Dec. 3 and March 10, according to the department, shocking blacks or Hispanics in 125 cases, or 87 percent.

"It always seems that the minorities are the first to get a taste of something like this," said Sylvia Gonzalez, director of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "We are very concerned."

Executive Assistant Police Chief Charles McClelland said, however, that the racial breakdown on Taser use mirrors statistics of other police interaction with minorities.

"The Taser itself is not a racial device," he said. "Officers' decision to deploy the Taser is based on the suspects' behavior and the officers' training."

In police shootings throughout the county, however, about 70 percent of people shot from 1999 through August 2004 were minorities, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis.

More on HPD racial profiling

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Guest Blogger Miles

Terri Schiavo dies this morning

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Nearly two weeks after a court ordered her feeding tube removed, and after multiple, failed attempts by her parents to get the order lifted, Terri Schiavo passed away on Thursday at the age of 41.

Schiavo died at the Pinellas Park hospice where she lay for years while her husband and her parents fought over her fate in the nation’s most bitter — and most heavily litigated — right-to-die dispute.

The family battle over whether to keep her alive galvanized the nation over the last month, with even President Bush and Congress weighing in. The case focused national attention on living wills, since Schiavo left no written instructions in case she became disabled.

The case had spent seven years winding its way through the courts, with Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, repeatedly on the losing end.

They have been at odds with their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, who consistently won legal battles by arguing that his wife would not have wanted to live in her condition.

I'm blogging this as I watch Bush's press conference over Schiavo's death. It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways the Republicans play the 9/11 card. He just mentioned the September 11 attacks in an attempt to compare the barbarism of terrorism to the act of mercy killing.

I hope, but don't expect, voters to notice the transparent ploy the Republicans use to equate the death of Schiavo with terrorism. However, as Ron noted, even Tom DeLay is losing support in his own district over his hardline stance on the Schiavo case. The local news station reported that their study found that 10% of District 22 voters were planning on voting for DeLay, but won't anymore because of his grandstanding.

I guess the common sense had to start sometime.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

TOM DELAY IS MEAT

From MSNBC courtesy of
Eschaton:

By melodramatically linking his own destiny with that of Terri Schiavo, DeLay didn’t help himself. He made himself look vulnerable and scared – which is all his enemies needed to convince themselves to step up their attacks. If you want to watch a passion play, fine. But don’t cast yourself in the lead.

This is a city dedicated to ambition, but also to the occasional ritual (and largely ineffective) cleansing. The goal of the truly power-hungry is to find new routes to the top without antagonizing a critical mass of the trampled and the angry. DeLay succeeded for quite some time; that time might be about to end. True, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. But just because DeLay won’t be subpoenaed to testify on the Hill doesn’t mean he is safe.

Why? First, a federal grand jury, which is deep into an investigation of fundraising and influence peddling by DeLay’s friends and former staffers in town. The probe may never reach DeLay himself; indeed, he’s not the focus of the probe. But in the court of politics, guilt by association can add up to … guilt. The roster of people close to him has gotten long and, therefore, conspicuous.

Click
here for more.

The moment that DeLay becomes more of a liability than an asset to the Republicans, they'll cast him off as quickly as they did Trent Lott--as Hunter S. Thompson might have said, in D.C. the smell of fresh blood emboldens the cannibals, and DeLay's small scratches may very well be starting to hemorrhage. Of course, as the excerpt above observes, DeThroning DeLay will not mean the end of GOP rule, but it will be nice to see him eaten by his own tribe. I can't wait. I really do hate him.

Meat for the Cannibals

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The Vietnam "Virus"

From Noam Chomsky's blog:

The issue that concerned planners from the 1950s was the usual one: independent nationalism in Vietnam might prove successful in terms meaningful to others in the region facing similar problems, and the “virus” might spread, “infecting” others, in Thailand, Malaya, sooner or later Indonesia, which was regarded as the second-most important domino.

And

That intolerable consequence was prevented, very efficiently, by the rational means of destroying the virus of potential successful economic development in Vietnam, and “inoculating” the region, often by the support of brutal and vicious military dictatorships, including Indonesia, after the failure of Eisenhower’s efforts to break off the outer islands (where most of the wealth is) in 1958. That’s a very considerable victory, and the US corporate system has gained enormously from it—which, incidentally, includes China.

Click here for the rest.

So, in terms of power structures, Vietnam had much less to do with fighting communism than it did with opposing economic development outside the US sphere of influence. Indeed, US foreign policy since WWII has been to oppose, across the board, the economic rise of any new nations that could not be controlled by Washington--this opposition has taken several forms, including economic subversion, covert operations, and overt war; Cuba has been beseiged by all three since Castro came to power. Of course, most Americans don't realize this: most of the time US foreign policy is sold to the masses as being always benevolent, and the corporate news media is usually a compliant accomplice. That's why Vietnam was about "fighting communism" and Iraq was about "weapons of mass destruction" and is now about bringing "democracy" and "freedom" to the Iraqi people. The reality is that it's all about economic control.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

FAREWELL JOHNNIE COCHRAN

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

For Cochran, Simpson's acquittal was the crowning achievement in a career notable for victories, often in cases with racial themes. He was a black man known for championing the causes of black defendants. Some of them, like Simpson, were famous, but more often than not they were unknowns.

"The clients I've cared about the most are the No Js, the ones who nobody knows," said Cochran, who proudly displayed copies in his office of the multimillion-dollar checks he won for ordinary citizens who said they were abused by police.

"People in New York and Los Angeles, especially mothers in the African-American community, are more afraid of the police injuring or killing their children than they are of muggers on the corner," he once said.

By the time Simpson called, the byword in the black community for defendants facing serious charges was: "Get Johnnie."

Over the years, Cochran represented football great Jim Brown on rape and assault charges, actor Todd Bridges on attempted murder charges, rapper Tupac Shakur on a weapons charge and rapper Snoop Dogg on a murder charge.

He also represented former Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. When Cochran helped Pratt win his freedom in 1997 he called the moment "the happiest day of my life practicing law."

Click here for the rest.

Say what you want about OJ, but Johnnie Cochran was a great man. The bashing that good defense lawyers continue to receive, year after year, infuriates me. Our legal system only works when defendents get adequate representation, and when I say "adequate," I mean as good as the prosecution. Consequently, our legal system rarely works as intended. Men like Cochran have been a shining light, symbolizing what justice ought to be, throughout the history of our nation. I remember vividly a film I saw when I was in elementary school about founding father John Adams risking the ire of fellow American colonials when he defended the British Soldiers who fired into a crowd during the Boston Massacre simply because of his belief that they needed adequate legal representation. Cochran lived his life as an exemplar of that very American tradition established by Adams.

OJ may not be innocent, but Cochran did the city of Los Angeles a great service by showing how corrupt, inept, and racist the LAPD was back in the early 90s. His death is a great loss.

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Patriotism Is Nonpartisan

A feel-good essay for the left wing by 1972 anti-war Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern. From the Nation:

Had I lost the courage to resist the enemy that I had demonstrated in World War II? The truth is that it took more courage as a junior senator to stand up in the Senate and challenge the war policy of our government in Vietnam than it did to fly combat missions in World War II. My first warnings against our deepening involvement in Vietnam were delivered when public opinion polls in South Dakota were reporting that 80 percent of my constituents supported the war. I assumed that this spelled defeat for me in the next election--a one-term senator.

But looking back on those early years after eighteen years in the Senate and as a presidential nominee, I am as proud of my effort to stop the needless slaughter in Vietnam as I am of my participation in World War II. In both cases, I was guided by patriotism and love of my country. But men who had never known a day of military combat worked ceaselessly--especially in 1972--to paint me as a weakling unwilling to defend the nation.


And

So many challenges face us at home and abroad that we should not waste time, tolerance and good will debating which politician loves America most ardently, which one is most devoted to marriage and the family and which one is closest to the Almighty. I've never known a political leader in either party who was disloyal to America, or who scoffed at marriage and the family, or who disrespected God and religious faith. Republicans and Democrats alike are pro-American, pro-freedom, pro-life, pro-family and pro-God Almighty. When we are sworn into public office, we all place our left hand on the Bible while raising our right hand and swearing to uphold the Constitution. It is worth noting that this sacred ceremony requires each of us to use both arms--a left wing and right wing!

Click here for the rest.

I agree with most everything McGovern says except for that last little bit: I'm pretty much of the opinion that some Republicans have moved so far to the right that they are now anti-democracy and freedom, even though they give such values passionate lip service. Anti-freedom is anti-American; these guys are straight-up disloyal.

To read more about McGovern's fascinating career, click here.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

TWO FROM ZNET

First, another essay on the do-nothing Democrats:

Democrats Do It Again and Again

Once again the Democratic Party has demonstrated how out of touch it is with the U.S. American people. Polls have shown that about 2/3 are against what the Republican-led Congress did by attempting to intervene in the Terry Schiavo case. If the Democrats were in touch with those they claim to be representing, and if they were willing to speak up clearly in support of their views, this latest example of despicable Republican opportunism could be backfiring on them the same way Bush's sputtering Social Security privatization campaign is.

And how about all those House Democrats who voted for the$81 billion to continue the Iraq war, not even attempting to put any conditions on it? Back in October of 2002, because of a massive, grassroots pressure campaign, 135 of them voted no to the war authorization vote. 2 ½ years and tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths later, only 43 voted against another huge check for war and occupation.

Click here for the rest.

Now...would someone again tell me why I'm stupid to support the Green Party? I mean, I admit that they currently have no real political power, but...man, the Democrats do have political power, but don't seem to do anything with it. Really, if voting Green is throwing away your vote, I just don't see how it's any different voting Democrat.

Next, an essay on the poisonous effects of advertising:

The Dangerous Spread of Commercialized Culture

Perhaps most alarming has been the epidemic of marketing-related diseases afflicting people in the United States, and especially children, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and smoking-related illnesses. Each day, about 2,000 U.S. children begin to smoke, and about one-third of them will die from tobacco-related illnesses. Children are inundated with advertising for high calorie junk food and fast food, and, predictably, 15 percent of U.S. children aged 6 to 19 are now overweight.

Excessive commercialism is also creating a more materialistic populace. In 2003, the annual UCLA survey of incoming college freshmen found that the number of students who said it was a very important or essential life goal to 'develop a meaningful philosophy of life' fell to an all-time low of 39 percent, while succeeding financially has increased to a 13- year high, at 74 percent. High involvement in consumer culture has been show (by Schor) to be a significant cause of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and psychosomatic complaints in children, findings which parallel similar studies of materialism among teens and adults. Other impacts are more intangible.


And

Finally, advertising has also contributed to a narrowing of the public discourse, as advertising-driven media grow ever more timid. Sometimes it seems as if we live in an echo chamber, a place where corporations speak and everyone else listens.

Click here for the rest.

So many people simply ignore advertising that it's easy for them to think that they are immune to its effects. Of course, that's crazy because advertising is propaganda, plain and simple, in support of a very specific philosophy of life: happiness and satisfaction can be found through acquisition of wealth and accumulation of things. Commercial culture is all the more insidious because most people tend to believe that they adhere to some other philosophy of life, pursuit of happiness, being "born again," whatever. Meanwhile, they buy like zombies, receiving a mild rush of euphoria with each new and cool product, and then that rush is gone, leaving them to repeat the process for the rest of their lives. Face it, that's what the shopping mall is all about; that's what trips to Wal-Mart are all about. It's really an awful way to live life, but that's how most Americans do it.

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Guest Blogger Miles

Real Art Returns to it's Alma Mater

Congratulations! You've been admitted to the College Of Liberal Arts ( Undeclared ) as part of the 2005 Summer Freshman Class at UT Austin.




All those years of mediocre work and apathy. Wow.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

More Saudi flights from U.S. revealed

From the New York Times via the Houston Chronicle:

The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, which provided copies to the New York Times.

The material sheds new light on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and it provides details about the FBI's interaction with at least 160 Saudis who were living in or visiting the United States and were allowed to leave the country. Some of the departing Saudis were related to Osama bin Laden.

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch, with major passages deleted, appear to raise some new questions.

Click here for the rest.

Wasn't this something that Michael Moore was savagely attacked about in the corporate press for getting a couple of details wrong in his film Farenheit 9/11? Whatever. The point is still valid: numerous Saudi citizens, some more connected to Al-Qaeda than Saddam Hussein ever was, were clandestinely flown out of the US, by the US government, within a few days of 9/11, without even an attempt at investigation or interview. This is a fact, but the news media, in its wisdom, more likely in its stupidity, saw fit to bash Moore on piddling bullshit.

America continues to amaze me.

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DEMOCRACY NOW INTERVIEWS PHIL DONAHUE

From, of course, Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: Where do you go from here? And do you think that you'll be speaking out more on media consolidation?

PHIL DONAHUE: Well, I haven't -- I haven't necessarily been totally silent, but it's certainly true that I – you know, this gets your attention. I have said -- I say I am so spoiled. I very much enjoy popping off about these issues. And reading about the people, like yourself, who have been -- become aware and truly insightful about how important -- I could never understand how we could put 120,000 Japanese behind a fence in World War II. I remember being bewildered, how could the United States have -- I don't have any more confusion about that. I realize what you can do when you scare the population and how media contributes to that. And all of these young men who died on foreign battlefields to protect our way of life, and at the center of that is dissent. Not to dissent is to waste their sacrifice. Don't tell us to shut up. Don't take our flag; this is our flag. I mean, these people have -- with the megaphone of the White House, have obviously convinced a significant number of people that they have God and we don't.

Click here for the to read, watch, or listen to the rest.

I've loved Donahue since I was a kid. I'm not really sure what it was that made him interesting to me--I didn't really like any other talk shows when I was young. Perhaps it was his overwhelming sense of personal charisma; perhaps it was his ability to make controversial topics understandable to the masses. Perhaps, even then, I loved controversy. I don't know. Years later, I finally realized just how liberal he is at around the time I was realizing just how liberal I am. Then they canceled his show. I was really excited when MSNBC brought him back and he started bashing Bush's war plans. Then they canceled that show, despite the fact that it was the network's highest rated program: obviously network executives couldn't handle having an anti-war voice while the drums of war were beating so loudly on all the other networks. This interview is the first I've heard from him since then.

It's a great interview, by the way, but maybe I'm biased because he's such a hero to me. I want to be just like him when I grow up. Wait, I am grown up. So maybe I am just like him. Maybe.

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

EASTER BASKET

Longtime Real Art readers know that I don't really care for Easter, but here it is again, so what can you do? I'm putting on my bunny suit and bonnet and putting together a nice little basket filled with eggs and chocolate!




First, courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe (and I must give a tip of the hat to my buddy Kevin for getting me interested in this subject to begin with), a feature that makes the existence of an actual Jesus Christ as seen in the Bible seem unlikely:

PAGAN CHRISTS

Q: Where did the dying-reborn God myth start?

A: Asia minor. The ancient Greeks and Romans inherited and adapted Gods from ancient Asia Minor (Assyria, Babylon, Phrygia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, places like that). These old-ancient religions were pretty basic Mother Earth, cycle-of-nature affairs. You probably won't be surprised to hear Mother Earth religions had Gods who personified the cycle-of-nature by dying in the autumn and being reborn in the spring. We don't know exactly when these dying-reborn Gods began -- they date back thousands of years, basically fading into prehistory.

We do know their names, and some of their rituals. And we can trace the evolution of their ideas to Greece and Rome -- and on to the church in your neighborhood this weekend. Amazing, huh?

By the time of Jesus of Nazareth, as for centuries before, the Mediterranean world roiled with a happy diversity of creeds and rituals. Details varied according to location and culture, but the general outlines of these faiths were astonishingly similar. Roughly speaking the ancients' gods:

Were born on or very near our Christmas Day.

Were born of a Virgin-Mother.


Were born in a Cave or Underground Chamber.


Led a life of toil for Mankind.

Were called by the names of Light-bringer, Healer, Mediator, Savior, Deliverer.

Were however vanquished by the Powers of Darkness.

And descended into Hell or the Underworld.

Rose again from the dead, and became the pioneers of mankind to the Heavenly world.

Founded Communions of Saints, and Churches into which disciples were received by Baptism.

Were commemorated by Eucharistic meals.

Click
here for the rest.

Along these lines, and again courtesy to J. Orlin Grabbe, I present part 3 in my "Famous Stoners in History" series:

Jesus 'healed using cannabis'

Jesus was almost certainly a cannabis user and an early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug, according to a study of scriptural texts published this month. The study suggests that Jesus and his disciples used the drug to carry out miraculous healings.

The anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples contained an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which has since been identified as cannabis extract, according to an article by Chris Bennett in the drugs magazine, High Times, entitled Was Jesus a Stoner? The incense used by Jesus in ceremonies also contained a cannabis extract, suggests Mr Bennett, who quotes scholars to back his claims.

Click
here for the rest.

So...Jesus didn't so much perform miracles as get people high on dope. Amazing! Speaking of getting high, I must observe that Easter is a day when millions of people indulge in the relatively safe and legal high that comes from munching on chocolate. So, as a public service, I offer (again courtesy J. Orlin Grabbe):

The Science of Chocolate

General sweetness aside, there are various chemical elements specific to chocolate that may help to stimulate cravings. In fact, chocolate contains over 300 chemicals and it is not known how all of these affect humans.

And

Several more obscure chocolate ingredients seem to act by affecting the brain's own neurotransmitter network.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers of the brain. They work by transporting electrical signals between nerve cells. These signals cause changes in the sensations and emotions that we experience.

And

The same is true of anandamide, the current favourite candidate for a psychoactive chocolate ingredient. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that targets the same brain structures as THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. But to make a substantial impact on the brain's own natural anandamide levels, experts estimate you would need to eat several kilos of chocolate!

Click
here for the rest.

And what kind of Real Art Easter would it be without a link to my Easter-bashing essay from a couple of years ago:

EASTER GRINCH

The resurrection is the most important Biblical point for Christians. It seemingly supersedes even the first and second greatest commandments according to Christ, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

I just can’t get into the concept of the resurrection and it’s not just because I have trouble believing that it happened. The older I get, the more I experience I gain, the more problematic the notions of good and evil, punishment and reward, and personal responsibility and personal choice become to me.

Click
here for more.

Hoppy Easter!




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Friday, March 25, 2005

QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES
Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From the Houston Chronicle:

Officer had nude photos of suspect, report says

It began as the fairly routine arrest of a drunken-driving suspect on a Houston street.

It quickly evolved into a maze of questions as investigators checked out reports that a Houston police officer had found nude photos of the driver stored in her cellular phone, downloaded them and later showed them around the courthouse.

Patrolman Christopher Green has been reassigned to desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation. His partner, George Miller, also has been reassigned while the department looks into reports that he called the DWI suspect's home to ask her out.

Click here for the rest.

It's been a while since I've done one of my cop watch posts, so it's probably worth a link to my original "Culture of Swine" post where I explain what I think the problem with police culture is. If you don't have time to read it, here's the short version: society needs the police, but cop misbehavior and corruption is so commonplace, so out of hand, that it's an extraordinarily big problem, not simply a massive collection of "isolated incidents." The above linked story is but one example of what amounts to a daily stream of "Bad Lieutenant" manifestations.

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FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

X-Ray Paz



Rocking Chair Phil



Wild Frankie



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IN DEFENSE OF BRIAN ENO

Responding to some disparaging words I made about producer and musician Brian Eno in a post I made last week, my buddy Paul sent me these remarks:

Brian Eno did not Ruin U2! In fact, I think he produced their best work (Unforgettable Fire or Joshua Tree, depends on how I feel). I totally understand the whole love/hate relationship you have with him, because he does the same thing to me. I'm not a huge fan of ambient music, but I love his production work with U2 and he did some of the best work of David Bowie's career. But I gotta' disagree that hearing his pseudo-intellectuallizing about music is better than listening to him. I personally find his words and thoughts to be almost unreadable, pretensious shit!

If anything has "ruined" U2, it's the same things that ruin most bands: Old-age and familiarity. (okay, drugs would probably be up there, too...) After a point, how many good songs are still left in the tank? Ray Charles and Johnny Cash both made great music up until their deaths, but they were freakin' geniuses! As for familiarity, their last couple albums were pretty good, but I am never going to cruise around the refineries of Texas City at 4:00 Am, smoking Lucky Strikes and just being 19, while listening to them, like I did with their earlier albums. Their new music, like a lot of bands, just doesn't have the mileage, the life experiences, the memories that I associate with the old stuff.

I think the new album is pretty uneven, and I actually hate "Vertigo" (their worst since that awful batman soundtrack, "Hold me thrill me kiss me, whatever.."). But there are still moments of brillance: "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" is fucking awesome. And even though at times they can seem like they are a self-parody, at least they haven't faded into self-important whining (REM) or some ridiculous joke (Aerosmith should have stayed broken up in the 70's, their music was better when they were all on coke and fighting each other).

Okay, I kind of got off the subject of Eno, but it's a lot easier to defend U2 than Brian Eno...


And my response to Paul's response:

As for Brian Eno, it's hard to argue with you. In fact, if you don't mind, I think I'm going to run a big chunk of your email on my blog, for equal time's sake. I never imagined how what I thought of as a throwaway comment, that Eno ruined U2, would generate such passion. The point is that you're right: Eno's work with those hard working Irishmen is, indeed, pretty great. I still remember the first time I heard the opening strains of "She Moves in Mysterious Ways" (back in what? 1990?) and how it blew me away. Joshua Tree is great; Unforgettable Fire is great.

So why do I think Eno ruined U2? It probably has to do with the fact that, already being an Eno fan, I was watching with great interest as he came in and placed his indelible stamp on the band. Like I said, I liked what I was hearing and thought it was pretty darned cool that this obscure space rock guy that I had been into since my freshman year in high school had joined forces with what was then the number one band in rock music. It was like one of those cool Marvel/DC crossovers from the 70s, like Superman and Spiderman or Batman and the Hulk. But as the 90s continued, U2 seemed to lose their way. Their music became predictable; their shows seemingly began to unintentionally parody their earlier shows. When I saw them for the third time in 1997 or 98 (I had totally grooved to their Joshua Tree and Unforgettable Fire shows years earlier), even they seemed bored, lifelessly working their way through their hits for an audience of yuppies and their kids at the Astrodome. The songs were still tighter than Steely Dan's butthole, to borrow a phrase from Ween, but without passion. Passion, in my opinion, is what made U2 so great. Without it...well, that show really made me sad.

I guess I blamed Eno for that loss of passion. To be sure, Eno's work has emotion, but of a different kind, a sterile, European, space/techno kind of emotion. A friend of mine who toured with U2 as a Greenpeace representative in the early 90s told me that members of the band said that Eno believed that they were moving away from playing American rock, and toward a more European style. It is my belief that this is, in fact, what happened: Eno shepherded U2 into the realm of the serious artiste. They became much more technically proficient, and their song writing became much more sophisticated. But it seems to me that this Europeanization of U2 came at the cost of what got them into the business in the first place, passion. In short, the Eno dominated U2 was great, but simply not the same as before.

I understand that a band, or any artist for that matter, needs to be allowed to change and grow. But it's really hard for me to not lament the loss of wild-eyed Bono and his mates, who were so charismatic and compelling in their work that they were able to get me, a conservative at the time, to reconsider Reagan's atrocious foreign policy in Latin America. They were really fucking powerful, and I think they lost that during their Eno years.

I may very well be wrong to blame Eno. You offer an alternative explanation, "old age and familiarity," that's just as compelling. Or it could be that they were simply running out of ideas and motivation around the time Eno showed up (Rattle and Hum comes to mind here), and he may have actually artificially extended their relevance for several years beyond what they were capable of by themselves. I don't know. But it sure has been fun to blame Eno all these years.

Eno is great. Like you said, his work with Bowie is fantastic, and let's not forget his work with Devo and Talking Heads, either. When I said that reading his theory is more interesting than listening to his music, I meant listening to his ambient music. Everything else, I still love. Even his bland new age Opal project stuff, which has the most infuriating, pretentious, condescending liner notes I've ever read.


Any thoughts about this Eno fans? U2 fans? Drop me a line or hit the old Real Art comment board. This is a pretty fun discussion.

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TWO MORE ON GOP SCHIAVO MEDDLING

First, from the Houston Chronicle editorial page courtesy of my buddy Kevin (whose website seems to be down right now, or I'd link it):

So-called 'defenders of life,' where were you when ... ?

I have a question for all those "culture of life" people praying in front of Terri Schiavo's hospital: Where were you last week when President Bush and the Republican Congress were pushing to cut Medicaid? Medicaid is the medical lifeline for the poor. And, by the way, it is picking up some of Schiavo's hospital bills.

Are you aware of your inconsistency? Or are you just pawns of the Republican Party?

You fixate over a woman who has hung in a vegetative state for 15 years, but stand mute as 45 million of your fellow Americans go without any health coverage. More than 18,000 adult Americans die every year for lack of health insurance, according to the Institute of Medicine in Washington.


Click here for more.

And from Emphasis Added:

Endgame

I was hoping not to write about this story again, but it’s so annoying and offensive on so many levels that it’s hard to keep it to myself. First, I am sick of the hideously one-sided media coverage. With polls showing that towering majorities of Americans believe that Michael Schiavo has the right to execute his wife’s wishes in this matter, and who clearly would want, if not exactly the same treatment, at least the space to make their own decision on such an issue if they were ever faced with it, the media from CNN on down seems intent on framing this in terms embraced by the most extreme religious fanatics. There are so many dimensions to this story beyond the facile sentimentalism of what happens to one brain-dead woman: privacy, federalism, rule of law, the power of religious extremists with their extra-Constitutional views on the role of government in private decisions. And yet, all we hear is “poor Terri,” as if continuing to feed a lump of human meat will reverse the verdict that nature has rendered in this case.

What’s more fundamentally morally offensive to me is how the alleged “right to life” people cheapen the whole notion of life and humanity with their shallow, screeching idiocy. Biological life may be measured by having a pulse, but dogs have pulses. Birds, insects, sponges – all these things are animate creatures when they are alive. What makes humans special and different, in my ethical estimation, is our consciousness, our ability to connect and socialize with each other, and interact with the world around us. Without that, our humanity has no meaning, our lives have no dignity, our existence has no further purpose.


Click here for more.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

TOM DELAY IS A TOTAL NUT

Of course, we already knew that. But just so there's no doubt, here's an excerpt from a DeLay speech to the fundamentalist Family Research Council. From Think Progress courtesy of Eschaton:

And so it’s bigger than any one of us, and we have to do everything that is in our power to save Terri Schiavo and anybody else that may be in this kind of position.

And let me just finish with this: This is exactly the issue that’s going on in America. That attacks against the conservative movement, against me, and against many others. The point is, it’s, the other side has figured out how to win and defeat the conservative movement. And that is to go after people, personally charge them with frivolous charges, and link that up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros, and then, and then get the national media on their side. That whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only and that’s to destroy the conservative movement. It’s to destroy conservative leaders and it’s, uh, not just in elected office but leading. I mean Ed Feulner, today at the Heritage Foundation, was under attack in the National Journal. I mean they, they, this is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in, and, and you need to look at this and what’s going on and participate in fighting back.

Click here for the rest, as well as an MP3 download of the entire speech.

What amazes me most about these lunatic ravings is the sincere belief that liberals actually continue to hold some kind of institutional power in this country. I mean, anybody with half a brain can see that the right wing now controls virtually everything of consequence. But for some strange reason guys like DeLay are paranoid about the liberals. What a kook! As David Neiwert over at Orcinus has observed, the Conservative Movement won't rest, won't believe it's truly in control, until liberals have been wiped from the face of the Earth. And if that doesn't send shivers down your spine, I don't know what will.

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SMOKED OUT

Wise words from Rob Salkowitz over at Emphasis Added:

To me, the anti-smoking movement symbolizes everything wrong with the American cultural left. There are very good public health and economic reasons to discourage smoking and there is an airtight argument, so to speak, about why service workers in the food industry should not be exposed to cigarette smoke as a workplace safety issue. But these are rarely the reasons the most passionate anti-smokers give for their activism on the issue.

Most of them just don’t like cigarettes. They don’t like the smell, they don’t like tobacco companies, and, at base, they don’t like the kind of people who smoke. Smoking is synonymous with habitual stupidity, moral cowardice (for being unable to quit despite all the reasons to), and lack of consideration. Forcing smokers into a position of public shame and scorn validates the moral superiority of the non-smoker.


Click here for the rest.

This really reminds me of how the vast majority of anti-drug efforts aimed at teenagers are doomed to fail. Dangerous drugs, which include tobacco, are unhealthy--this is a fact. But the strong strain of morality running through anti-drug rhetoric takes a nuts and bolts public health issue and turns it into something that begs to be rebelled against. "Oh, so I'm a bad person if I do drugs? Well, fuck you; I'm doing drugs!" Personally, I believe that people respond much more intelligently when confronted with simple facts, and this includes teens, who seem to be almost grateful when adults treat them as fellow adults, capable of making important decisions by themselves. Smoking, doing drugs, these things aren't evil; they're simply unwise. Society would benefit greatly from a more rational discourse on the subject.

But then, that's why I like Salkowitz's writing so much: he's so damned rational!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

CORRESPONDING WITH MOM
ABOUT THE CORPORATE MENACE

Every now and then my mom will send me an email with what she believes to be helpful information. Usually it's something religiously themed, but today she sent me something quite interesting. On its face, it appears to be simply an essay on one individual's experience with aspartame (a.k.a NutraSweet) poisoning--of course, the essay originally came from some Bible site. I don't know much about this topic, but if what the essay says is true, Diet Coke drinkers are royally fucked. However, what really grabbed me was this passage:

There are now over 5000 products on the market that contain this deadly chemical and there will now be thousands more introduced. Everybody wants a "piece of the Aspartame pie." I assure you that MONSANTO, the creator of Aspartame, knows how deadly it is. And isn't it ironic that MONSANTO funds, among others, the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association and the Conference of the American College of Physicians? This has been recently exposed in the New York Times. These Associations cannot criticize any additives, or convey their link to MONSANTO because they take money from the food industry and are required to endorse their products.

Click here for the entire essay.

Another passage goes after Monsanto's relationship with the FDA. I was like "Wow! Mom's sending me anti-corporate propaganda!" I couldn't believe it. I've tried sharing my political views with her before, but I don't think I've done a good job of getting across the substance of why I hate corporate power and why I think American democracy is dead, so I've kind of given up on trying to convert her. But this was just too much. I emailed her back right away:


Hey Mom,

Thanks, by the way, for sending this article. I found it to be informative, and as I pointed out in my reply a little while ago, it's a good thing I drink "The Real Thing." Anyway, I was looking the article over again and noticed something that sailed right by me before:

Stevia, which, which is a sweet herb, NOT A MANUFACTURED ADDITIVE, helps in the metabolism of sugar, which would be ideal for diabetics. It has now been approved as a dietary supplement by the FDA. It is known that for many years the FDA outlawed this true sweet food," due to their loyalty to MONSANTO chemical Company.

Mom, I already knew this. Not about this product, exactly, but about the fact that Federal regulatory agencies have been staffed for years by people FROM THE INDUSTRIES THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO REGULATE!!!!! Needless to say, that's a huge conflict of interest. It was bad under Clinton, who is a "liberal" in name only, but it's gotten far, far worse under Bush. This is but one small example of why I just cannot support Republicans or Democrats anymore: both parties have been essentially bought by powerful corporate interests, and they govern on their behalf rather than for the citizens of our country. If you're interested, I could send you thousands of examples of how this has been working--the sky high air toxicity levels on Houston's east side that you've probably been reading about in the Houston Chronicle are simply one of those thousands of examples; the government, run by politicians who are thoroughly beholden to their corporate campaign donors, has allowed the petrochemical industry to blast cancer causing chemicals into Houston's air for decades now.

Generally, I wouldn't beat this dead horse for you, because I've told you what I think about this before, but when I read that excerpt from the article you sent me, I just couldn't resist. We really do not live in the reality that most Americans think we live in. Most Americans depend on news from corporate sources like the New York Times or CNN or NBC or Fox: the corporations don't want their power and influence known. Consequently, their power and influence don't make it into the corporate news. Consequently, most Americans have no idea what's going on. It's pretty ironic that Tom DeLay may very well be indicted soon for his connections to corporate cash while most people have no idea that this is really just business as usual. DeLay may go down, but, mark my words, the corporate mastery of U.S. government will continue for the foreseeable future. We may have freedom in America, but we no longer have democracy. This aspartame thing illustrates that well.

Just a thought.

Ron


She hasn't responded yet, and may just ignore my whole rant, but I'm very curious about how she'll react. I mean, she sent me this article. Maybe my tirade will bear more weight because of that. I don't know. Here's hoping.

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Crying Wolfowitz: The ugly American bank

The new Paul Krugman essay, from the New York Times via the Houston Chronicle:

You can say this about Paul Wolfowitz's qualifications to lead the World Bank: He has been closely associated with America's largest foreign aid and economic development project since the Marshall Plan.

I'm talking, of course, about reconstruction in Iraq. Unfortunately, what happened there is likely to make countries distrust any economic advice Wolfowitz might give.

Let's not focus on mismanagement. Instead, let's talk about ideology.

Before the Iraq war, Pentagon hawks shut the State Department out of planning. This excluded anyone with development experience. As a result, the administration went into Iraq determined to demonstrate the virtues of radical free-market economics, with nobody warning about the likely problems.

Click here for the rest.

For those of you who don't know, Paul Wolfowitz is the Defense Department official in Farenheit 9/11 who stuck a comb in his mouth before running it through his hair. Trust me, he's as lame as that image suggests, and putting him in charge of the World Bank is like...well, stupid, but when has that ever stopped the Bush administration?

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Monday, March 21, 2005

TWO FROM ZNET

First an essay from good guy journalist Greg Palast:

Secret U.S. Plans For Iraq's Oil


The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed.


Two years ago today - when President George Bush announced US, British and Allied forces would begin to bomb Baghdad - protestors claimed the US had a secret plan for Iraq's oil once Saddam had been conquered.

In fact there were two conflicting plans, setting off a hidden policy war between neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, versus a combination of "Big Oil" executives and US State Department "pragmatists."

"Big Oil" appears to have won.


Click here for the rest.

Next, an essay on how great wealth isn't simply a result of hard work:

The Cavernous Divide

But to suggest that membership in the growing billionaires’ club requires only a combination of hard work and character traits ignores some dramatic shifts in global economic rules that explain the cavernous divide that has developed between the very rich and the very poor.

Tax rates have fallen on upper income citizens and corporations worldwide. Fifty years ago in the United States, the highest marginal income tax rate was 91 percent; today it is 34 percent. As recently as 1979, taxes on capital gains from the sale of stock, real estate and businesses were 35 percent; today they are 15 percent. Corporate taxes as a percentage of the US economy have shrunk from 4.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 1965 to just 1.5 percent in 2002. While corporate taxes have declined throughout the world, they have plummeted in the United States, leaving only Iceland among industrialized countries with a lower corporate tax burden.


Several of the wealthiest billionaires capitalized on public assets and made their fortunes by buying formerly public assets. This was the case with Mexican Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s fourth richest man, who used inherited wealth to buy a substantial share of Mexico’s privatized national telephone company. US billionaires Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, and Larry Ellison of Oracle would not be in Forbes’ top 20 billionaires had the US government not invested tens of billions of public dollars developing computers and the Internet.


Some billionaires’ fortunes rest upon paying their employees poverty wages. Such is the case for the Walton family (numbers 9 through 13 on the Forbes list.)

Click here for more.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

LOW CLASS AND TRASHY
Parents and husband plead for help as Senate
passes bill to restore woman's feeding tube

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

As protesters and TV satellite trucks gathered outside the hospice, the Senate passed a bill that could prolong Schiavo's life while a federal court considers her case. House Republicans scrambled to bring enough lawmakers back to the Capitol for an emergency vote early Monday after Democrats objected to a vote by a small handful of lawmakers.

President Bush was cutting short a stay at his Texas ranch and returning to the White House to sign it. An attorney for Schiavo's parents filed a request for an emergency injunction with a federal appellate court to have the tube reinserted once the bill is passed. He also planned to make a similar request with the federal district court in Tampa.

Click here for the rest.

Clearly, this is bigtime grandstanding on the part of the GOP. Tom DeLay is thanking his lucky stars that this opportunity has come along to divert attention from all his ethics scandals, and pro-lifers have made this poor Schiavo woman their poster child--I really wonder if any of these people actually give a shit about her or her husband. All that aside, this reeks of hypocricy: the pro-state's rights Republicans seem to have abandoned that point of view completely, as Rob Salkowitz over at Emphasis Added has observed. Furthermore, it needs to be pointed out that President Bush, as governor of Texas, signed a bill allowing hospitals to cut off life support if the patient can no longer pay!!!! This is sick, sick, sick, and trashy. I really need to put together a living will, if only so that I'm not turned into a cause celeb one day.

Thanks to Eschaton for that last link.

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TWO YEARS LATER
Baghdad Under Siege

From the Nation:

Once out of the parking lot, Bassim weaves through a local market, expertly dodging pedestrians and livestock at high speed as we gradually pull away from the car behind us. When we get on the open highway he punches the accelerator up to 100 mph and we lose sight of the other car. Insurgents or would-be kidnappers? I'm relieved I don't have the chance to find out.

Two things became clear as the negotiations to form a government dragged on: American pacification efforts have stalled, and the euphoria accompanying the January 30 elections is beginning to evaporate. "The insurgents are increasing, and the reason is that the new government has not met yet--it encourages them to go on with their attacks," said Said Rashid, a political science professor at Baghdad University, just before the March 16 opening of Parliament. Baghdadis have grown resigned to life under the state of emergency that was declared in November. Spokesmen at the oil and electricity ministries say attacks on their employees and infrastructure averaged at least one a day last year and will rise this year.

"The war is getting worse," says a furniture dealer who spent years in exile in London but returned to help pull down the statue of Saddam in central Baghdad's Firdos Square on April 9, 2003, a shot broadcast around the world. "I thought after the war it would be OK to open a business here. Now I can't even negotiate with my customers -- I'm afraid that if I say no, they might kidnap or kill me. I was optimistic before, but now I think I will return to Britain."


Click here for the rest.

It's a total failure. Saddam's torture chambers have been replaced by American torture chambers. We've lost 1,500 soldiers; the Iraqis have lost tens of thousands. The insurgency grows ever stronger. Total failure. We really ought to leave right now, but we're not: both the Republicans and the Democrats are committed to "staying the course." We'll be there for a decade, at least. Probably longer. It's disgusting, America's shame.

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Pledging virginity no shield for STDs

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Click here for the rest.

Yet another sign that "abstinence based" sex education is not only ineffective, but downright dangerous. As I've said many times, "abstinence based" sex ed is simply wishful thinking that denies the reality of contemporary culture: the vast majority of Americans have sex before the age of eighteen, and no public school program is going to change that. Period. Indeed, the above linked article points out that "Last year, the same research team found that 88 percent of teens who pledge abstinence end up having sex before marriage." This is all a sick joke, and is representative of the same kind of pathological denial evident a couple of posts down. America's teens are being doomed, by policy, to risky sexual behaviors that don't simply damage health; some of these kids contract HIV and will die young. All for bullshit. We're way past due for a massive implementation of comprehensive sex ed in all schools. Really, we ought to have goldfish bowls of condoms on every teacher's desk. God, what a fucked country!

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NEVER AGAIN
Gays in the Holocaust

From the Daily Kos:

Even within the concentration camps, other inmates shunned and ostracized the prisoners with the pink triangle, as Boisson poignantly relates...They had the shortest life expectancies and highest death rates, because they belonged to a "scapegoat group" and because as a heterogeneous social group they were unable to develop a strong support network. Further, the Communists, who formed the most cohesive political group among the prisoners and effectively organized resistance within the camps, followed Stalin's total repudiation of the sexual reform movement by ostracizing homosexuals. Lautmann contrasts homosexual prisoners with matching control groups: political prisoners and Jehovah's Witnesses, finding that the death rate for homosexual prisoners (60 percent) was half again as high as for political prisoners (41 percent) and Jehovah's Witnesses (35 percent).

Click here for the rest.

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ECONOMIC MELTDOWN
Sorry, But We're Toast

From ZNet:

What seemed like a crazy conspiracy theory just two years ago is now a documented fact; the Bush Administration (with the help of Greenspan) is trying to bankrupt the nation and put the American people under the control of the country’s creditors. (Greenspan’s friends in the banking industry and foreign countries holding US bonds) So far, they’ve done a bang-up job by racking up another $3 trillion in debt in just 4 years by looting the US Treasury and jeopardizing the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. If the world moves en masse away from the dollar (as it may, if Bush goes ahead with his twisted plan for attacking Iran) the US will rapidly devolve into a third world nation.

Currently, the dollar is underwritten by $8 trillion of debt; which explains why world banks are dumping their holdings. The only thread holding the economy together is (artificially) low interest rates, cheap oil and $450 billion of tax cuts that are sluiced back into the economy. (according to Supply-side theory) When these three buckle beneath the weight of the increasing debt load, the American dream will go up like a pillar of black smoke from a Baghdad pipeline.

From this viewpoint, it looks like Greenspan is intentionally keeping interest rates low so Bush can keep his (war) date with Iran. (probably just months away) When the Fed-chief finally pulls the rug out from under us and raises rates to save the dollar, housing will grind to a halt and America will stumble into recession, or worse.


Click here for the rest.

This is really amazing. Much of what I've been reading recently strongly suggests that the pro-business-at-any-cost policies of the last twenty five years are leading us toward total economic collapse. I've tried to talk to my financial advisor, that is, my father, about this, but all he's done is to assure me that everything's okay. In fact, that's all I hear anybody who defends the current economic order say: everything's okay. But how is that so? As the Chinese economy expands, so will the global demand for oil, which means that oil prices are going to continue to go up, which will cause upward pressure on the prices of everything. Furthermore, it looks like there is a very good chance that the dollar will soon lose a great deal of its value, especially in light of Bush's massive deficit spending, which continues to eat away at US GDP. Then there's the trade deficit, which pulls money out of our economy without replacing it with anything of substantial value. Then there's massive consumer debt, which shows no sign of easing. And, of course, looming over all of this is global warming, which stands to devastate the entire world's economy. Soon. But "everything's okay." My god, how can this be happening? How can everybody be so blind? Will I be living in a dirt hovel twenty years from now? Or maybe dead from some easily curable disease that won't be treatable because of the oncoming Great Depression?

Is this what Noah felt like?

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Friday, March 18, 2005

GOP hopes to hide connection between tax cuts and budget cuts

From WorkingForChange:

Here's a little-known fact symptomatic of everything wrong with the way Congress has dealt with our nation's finances over the last four years. Writers of both the House and Senate budget resolutions were careful to make sure that Congress would not consider budget cuts and tax cuts at the same time.

The House budget resolution requires the Ways and Means Committee to report legislation on tax cuts by June 24. But bills that will enforce cuts in entitlement programs aren't called for until Sept. 16. The Senate reverses the order: spending cuts by June 6, tax cuts on Sept. 7.

Why is this important? Because there are a couple of things our legislators and our president do not want citizens to do: (1) link the big deficits with the big tax cuts, (2) notice that if the tax cuts weren't so big, cuts in domestic spending wouldn't have to be so big. The nice separation of those dates is just the ticket for obscuring the obvious.


Click here for the rest.

This concept actually goes back a few decades. Evil economist Milton Friedman, the man who invented the idea of "trickle down economics," has strongly advocated that conservative politicians use tax cuts in order to paint the government into a corner such that it eventually has no choice but to cut popular social programs. Indeed, Friedman once said, "I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible." The idea is that it is political suicide to advocate doing away with Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, free school lunches for the poor, college aid, etc. The government must be driven into bankruptcy in order to force spending cuts. Pretty sneaky, huh? Well, that's what's been driving the Republicans for nearly thirty years now. That's the hidden ideology behind Bush's psychotic tax giveaways to the rich.

When you dig a little deeper into Friedman's lunatic philosophy, you discover more evil. Friedman's followers, the neo-liberals, believe that the best possible government is ultra-weak and ultra-small. In their ideal world, the government only builds roads, provides a military, and defends against monopoly. This last bit is especially interesting because it seems to me that in order to stop massive corporations from monopolizing entire industries, the government must be strong. But what do I know? I'm no hot shit economist.

The bottom line here is that these people, and as far as I can tell, this means most economists today, envision an America that is essentially run, lock stock and barrel, by the wealthy elite, a plutocracy. In other words, when tax cuts become as insane as those passed over the last few years, it is anti-democracy. Anti-American.

But we already knew that the GOP was anti-American, didn't we?

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FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Frankie



Paz



Phil



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Thursday, March 17, 2005

TWO FROM THIS IS NOT A COMPLIMENT

Last Saturday, I mentioned that I had gotten a nasty cold. I eventually found out why it was so nasty: I've actually got the flu. In fact, two thirds of the LSU campus population seems to be dealing with this--it's intense, with coughing, stuffed head, sore throat, fever, and it's highly contagious; I've infected two people myself that I know of, including my poor wife Becky.

Anyway, I'm still spaced out and in pain, so blogging is more of a chore than usual. That's why I'm referring you over to my buddy Mike's blog, This is not a compliment. He's on a real tear lately; I think he's made a commitment to go daily, and he's posting some weird and cool stuff.

For instance, he seems to have started a new feature called "Eno blogging." Personally, I've loved and hated Brian Eno since I was in high school, and I love that he generates such contradictory passions within me. Lately, I've become more interested in Eno, especially his early stuff, since I saw the Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine a couple of years back--Haynes uses at least a couple of Eno songs prominently in order to give some real life to the glam-rock fantasy. And, surprise surprise, Mike managed to find a site that, for a limited time only, is offering free downloads of four previously unreleased Eno tracks from the early 70s. It's good stuff.

Another cool curio Mike has discovered is that the comedically brilliant Harry Shearer, something of a hero to me, is taking over Talking Points Memo, a well read, left-leaning, political news blog, for a week or so. It's already gotten funny.

And if that doesn't shake your tree, just go to This is not a compliment and scroll down. I'm sure you'll find something weird. Or cool. Or political.

Okay, time for more cough syrup.

UPDATE FOR HARDCORE ENO FANS: I can date the moment when I went from simply loving Eno to hating him as well. It was the spring of 1986 when I became very angry that I had paid actual money to buy the early ambient experiment Discreet Music. I mean, I really love his heavy-mellow, ethereal, space-synth sound and all, but you gotta admit, Eno's pseudo-intellectualizing about ambient theory is much more interesting than actually listening to ambient music. What stirs hate within me is how snobbish music fans actually buy the bullshit, and pretend to themselves that ambient music is brilliant. What stirs even more hate is the ego-boost I know Eno gets from his small army of upturned noses. And what I hate the most is that I love Eno in spite of my hate for him.

That man ruined U2, I swear to god.

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