Sunday, January 31, 2010

Only in New Orleans


Once upon a time, down in the City That Care Forgot, there was a sportscaster, name of Buddy Diliberto. Buddy D for short.

Buddy D achieved local-legend status, almost as legendary as WWL-TV legend Hap Glaudi. Neither guy could have existed anywhere but New Orleans -- mainly, because it would have been too troublesome and costly for a TV station anywhere else to put subtitles on their sportscast.

Also because, unless they brought in an English-speaking Yat to do the subtitling, you would have had a lot of "????????????????" at the bottom of your TV screen.


BUT THAT'S not important now.

What's important is that Buddy D -- who sadly did not live to see the day his Saints made it to the Super Bowl -- always used to say that if the Saints ever made it to the Big Game, he'd march down Bourbon Street in a dress.

And today, in a classic "only in New Orleans" moment, hundreds of Saints fans of the male persuasion did just that. In honor of Buddy D.

Of course, it didn't look that different from any other day on Bourbon Street, but that's not important now, either.

Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

3 Chords & the Truth: Old school

I came to do an old-school rock 'n' roll show on the Internets, and all I got was this lousy straightjacket.

The Thorazine was kind of nice, though.

You can't say 3 Chords & the Truth isn't, er . . . eventful. But I guess that's just the way we roll at the Big Show.

WELL, ACTUALLY, right now I'm being rolled down a bright corridor strapped to a gurney. My new friend Nurse Ratched is being kind enough to post this for me with her laptop.

But when you go old school, things do get "eventful." And you also can get 33 songs in a mere 90 minutes of show time.

Though I may have gotten carried away . . . before I was carried away.

AUNTIE EM! AUNTIE EM! AND TOTO, TOO!!!

Ow! Who gave me . . . a . . . shot?

I'm getting sleep . . . y . . . now. It's 3 Chords & the Truth . . . y'all. Beeeeeeeee there. Aaaaaaalohaaa . . . .

Friday, January 29, 2010

W** d** say d** gonna beat d** S*****?


Crescent City funk master Dr. John went suddenly mute Thursday in the wake of a weeklong National Football League sweep across New Orleans with cease-and-desist orders in defense of its trademark on "Who Dat?" and other Saints-related phrases.

Local attorneys speculate the music legend was advised by counsel to cease all forms of communication, except for the occasional grunt and some rudimentary hand signs, out of fear that trademarks held by the league would subject Dr. John's entire vocabulary to stiff licensing fees or litigation.

When a reporter called the New Orleans home of the singer and piano man -- born in 1940 as Mac Rebennack -- someone picked up the phone, but did not respond to any questions. Only breathing could be heard over the line.

More details on this story as they become available.

EARLIER, a New Orleans daily, The Times-Picayune, reported on the "Who Dat?" controversy:

Count the National Football League among the growing members of Who Dat Nation. After all, they own the phrase -- or so they say in cease and desist letters sent out to at least two local T-shirt retailers earlier this month.

In letters sent to Fleurty Girl and Storyville, the NFL ordered the retailers to stop selling a host of merchandise that it says violates state and federal trademarks held by the New Orleans Saints.

Among the long list of things the NFL says is off-limits without a licensing agreement are some obvious violations like the official logo of the Saints and the team's name. But the one that stands out is "Who Dat."

Who knew?

The NFL, noting a 1988 trademark the Saints registered with the Louisiana secretary of state, says it has exclusive rights to the phrase and demands that the retailers stop selling it.

"I was surprised," Fleurty Girl owner Lauren Thom said. "I think everybody was."

Thom's shirts feature the phrase Who Dat written as one word with lowercase letters and preceded by a hash mark, a nod to the language of the social networking site Twitter. On Twitter, a hash mark followed by a word unifies all tweets on a specific topic. If a tweet, for instance, includes #whodat, it joins other posts on a page generally about Saints topics on Twitter.

"It was designed to unify the Who Dat Nation, not within a tweet, but through a shirt," said Thom, who began selling the shirts in August on her Web site before opening a store on Oak Street two months ago.

The NFL also claims that several shirts at Storyville T-Shirts violate the NFL trademark, including a black shirt with the phrase Who Dat Nation, a name commonly used to refer to Saints fans, and a black shirt that uses the term Who Dat along with the Roman numeral XLIV.

According to the letter, "any combination of design elements (even if not the subject of a federal or state trademark registration), such as team colors, roman numerals and other references to the Saints" are also trademark violations.

That means that a black shirt featuring XLIV in gold letters, a representation of this year's Super Bowl, is off limits.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everybody loves Satan


What do you think the devil is going to look like if he's around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I'm semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing...he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance... Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen.

And he'll get all the great women.

-- Albert Brooks
from Broadcast News


John Edwards is the devil, I think. And he has the perfect hair to prove it.

The devil was raised a Southern Baptist son of a humble South Carolina mill worker. The devil was baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as a young teen-ager.


The devil went to law school and made a devilish amount of money as a personal-injury lawyer.

But the devil just wanted to "help" people after losing his teen-age son in a tragic auto accident, and he ended up in the U.S. Senate -- all the better if what you want is to be "nice and helpful."

National politics -- just the platform for the devil as "he influences a great God-fearing nation."

He talked pretty about helping poor folks and disenfranchised blue-collar workers just like his daddy. He got himself on a presidential ticket, but the then-incumbent powers and principalities denied Kerry-Edwards '04 the keys to the kingdom.

ON THE ROAD to the White House four years later, the devil was passionate for those things in which he believed. Like the "right to choose," for example:

The decision about whether to become a parent is one of the most important life decisions that a woman can face. She should make it with her family, her doctor, and in the context of her religious and ethical values; government and politicians should not make the decision for her. John Edwards supports a woman’s constitutional right to choose. As a senator, Edwards earned a 100 percent voting record with both NARAL and Planned Parenthood. As president, he will protect and defend the right to choose and reverse the damage that has been done by President Bush’s anti-choice agenda.

LITTLE DID the devil know, however, that his appetite for some groupie lovin' would give lie to his lofty rhetoric. ABC News picks up this tale from the dark side:

Former John Edwards' aide Andrew Young, who covered up the Democratic presidential candidate's affair, said when he cleaned up his house after his role in the cover-up ended he found one more shocker.

"There was one tape that was marked 'special,'" Young told ABC News' Bob Woodruff in an exclusive interview. "It's a sex tape of Rielle and John Edwards made just a couple of months before the Iowa caucuses."

Though Young never saw the woman's face in the tape, he said she was "visibly pregnant" and was "wearing a bracelet" and a "thumb ring" typically worn by Rielle Hunter.

"It's her jewelry," Andrew Young's wife, Cheri, told ABC News. "It could be on another woman with the same jewelry."

(snip)

Young claims that Edwards even called upon him in late May 2007 to convince Hunter to terminate her pregnancy.

"The senator tried to convince her to have an abortion. ... He tried to convince me to convince Rielle to have an abortion," Young told Woodruff.

"She [Hunter] asked me if I were in her shoes what would I do. And if I said, 'I'm pro-choice, but after having had three kids, if you're asking me what I would do, no, I would not do it,'" Young recalled of his conversation with Hunter.

Young claims that Edwards was infuriated with him for not convincing Hunter and stressed that he was not certain the baby was his because Hunter was a "weird slut and a freak."

Hunter had started out eager just to be around Edwards, but over time became more comfortable in her role as Edwards' lover -- even wife -- having sex in the Edwards' marital bed, according to Young. Eventually, she became possessive and demanding, Young claims.

When Edwards rushed home in tears from campaigning in Iowa at the news that his wife's cancer had returned, he used Young's phone to call Hunter to cancel a date to celebrate her birthday in Des Moines that night.

"All I could hear was Rielle cussing," Young said. "She [Hunter] didn't care about Elizabeth's prognosis. All she cared about was that the senator was not going to be there to celebrate the birthday."

Each time Edwards professed his love for his wife on the campaign trail, Young said, "Rielle would go crazy...and it was my job and Cheri's job to calm her down."

The stakes got even higher in May 2007 when Young said he got a frantic call from Hunter.

"She said, 'I need to talk to him right now,' and started cursing and she threatened to go public if I didn't put them together. I said, 'well, either somebody's died, or somebody's pregnant.' And she said, 'Well, nobody's died,'" Young recalled.

Young said Edwards was shocked by the pregnancy and believed there was only a one-in-three chance that the baby was his.

"He was cussing her out, calling her crazy ... and saying that ... she had sworn to him that she was physically unable to get pregnant. And that he just felt like he had been set up," Young said.

SO WHEN you hear a politician waxing eloquent about "To be or not to be, that is the question" -- and it's about somebody else's existence -- you just might be listening to the devil.

And when you hear lofty rhetoric about how abortion is a decision a woman "should make . . . with her family, her doctor, and in the context of her religious and ethical values; government and politicians should not make the decision for her," it just might be coming from the devil.

And if a politician who railed against politicians meddling in such matters tries to stack the metaphysical deck concerning "a young woman's right to choose" in favor of eliminating the biological evidence of his infidelity toward his dying wife . . . yep, it's the devil.

SEE, WHEN the subject is an inconvenient pregnancy and the solution involves eliminating an inconvenient life, the devil always gets his due.

And now that the devil is through with him, John Edwards is getting his.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Save the groundhogs!


What's shocking isn't that PETA wants to safeguard Punxsutawney Phil by replacing him with a robotic Groundhog Day prognosticator.

What's shocking is that the press takes seriously claims that the little fellow is not, and never has been, mistreated at the annual celebration. No, the go-along-to-get-along mainstream media is all too quick to take seriously the "debunkers" of claims by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

AND WHAT you get is bunkum like this from Reuters:
Should America's most famous groundhog be replaced with a robot? Organizers of the annual Groundhog Day celebration don't think so.

Animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for the move to spare Punxsutawney Phil, who makes a "prognostication" on the length of winter, the glare of the spotlight when he emerges from his burrow.

"It's very ridiculous," said Bill Deeley, president of the Groundhog Club, which runs the event in western Pennsylvania.

But PETA says the dawn ceremony, which is attended by as many as 40,000 people, can be traumatizing for the groundhog that would normally be hibernating at this time of year.

"Groundhogs are typically shy animals and are likely to feel fear and stress when they are out of their burrows," PETA said in a statement. "Each year on Feb 2, Punxsutawney Phil is trotted out to face human handling and hundreds of noisy people, flashing lights and cameras."

But Deeley disagreed, saying groundhogs may be done hibernating and starting to emerge from their burrows to begin the mating season.

Deeley also defended the club against charges of mistreating Phil, saying he gets an annual medical checkup and lives in a zoo enclosure that is air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.

YEAH, I'm sure the pickup Phil Connors used in 1993 to catapult a Phil to his fiery death at the bottom of a quarry was nice and warm. Really warm.

Who, then, is unserious here -- PETA or its sneering critics?

After all, it's not like any of this foofarah about the right of groundhogs not to be bothered is one scintilla as crazy as some Jesus-jumper quarterback and his mama making a Super Bowl ad attacking the absolute right of women to eradicate the little humans in their wombs.

Thankfully, however, we Americans are a serious people, fully capable of keeping our priorities straight.

We were journalists once, and young


There are many ways to tell our stories . . . and the stories of others like us.

For me, this is a new way of doing what I've been doing for most of my life. In other words, video is not my native language.

"Tough," says the new-media universe. Learn some new languages.

OK, I think I will. And, in a roundabout manner, that's one of the points of this video -- the awful costs of a tragic failure of imagination . . . and adaptation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The video worth 10,000 words





We've only been waiting for this moment since 1967.

We've only suffered through countless seasons of NFL futility, bags over our embarrassed heads.

We well remember 1975 1979 -- the Saints first non-losing season -- when 8-8 felt almost as good as what we imagined 16-0 must be like. Not that we dared imagine such crazy things as 16-0 . . . 9-7, maybe.

WE ONLY WERE born to a state where, it seems, damn little ever goes right and getting collectively ahead can seem just as insane a proposition as the Ain'ts going to the Super Bowl.

Hell, it's about as crazy as having a place kicker with half a foot kick a 63-yard field goal. Oh, wait. . . .


AND NOW THIS. Which puts the remarkable video (at top) from the The Times-Picayune in a little better context.

Today, even Christianity seems a little less audacious. A little.

WHO DAT!?!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Saints are coming

WHO DAT!


Down in Louisiana, we always thought the long-suffering Saints would make it to the Super Bowl about the same time hell froze over.

Well, the forecast tonight for Hell is rain and snow. Low around freezing.

OK, it's Hell, Mich., but what the . . . well, you know.

After the screaming and jumping up and down, a tear or two may have been shed in the Favog household. Go, Saints! Go!

On a Sunday afternoon


It's what we do around the Favog household on a lazy Sunday afternoon -- make coffee and listen to Zia's jazz-and-blues show on KLSU in Baton Rouge.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

3 Chords & the Truth: Dial up the music


Tired.

Hit the wall.

Motivation took a vacation, leaving the rest of me behind.

But I still had to crank out an episode of 3 Chords & the Truth. Just great.

Ah, screw it. I just phoned it in this week. Deal.

EVEN THOUGH I phoned the Big Show (Medium-Sized Show?) in, the music still is pretty decent . . . probably. Whatever. Hope you like country. Then again, it's all the same to me.

'Cause I just phoned it in.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. (Or not . . . like I care this week.) Aloha.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Good luck with that one, SPJ


The Society of Professional Journalists has decided it's time to shut the barn door -- years and years after Mr. Ed trotted off to Hollywood.

In other words, SPJ has gotten an eyeful of Anderson Cooper pulling bloodied Haitian kids out of the middle of a rampaging mob (and depositing him a safe 20 feet from the rampaging mob, conveniently in front of the CNN camera), Robin Roberts running the ABC Adoption Agency and Sanjay Gupta as Marcus Welby, M.D., and suddenly couldn't tell anymore where the evening news ended and "Celebrity Rehab" (or something) began.

Now, if the networks just could have gotten Dave, Jay and Conan into Port-au-Prince, we really might have had something there.


FROM A press release the journalism organization put out today:

The Society of Professional Journalists applauds the efforts of all journalists in Haiti who are working tirelessly to report the aftermath of last week's devastating earthquake and the ensuing aftershocks. However, SPJ cautions journalists to avoid making themselves part of the stories they are reporting. Even in crises, journalists have a responsibility to their audiences to gather news objectively and to report facts.

"I think it's important for journalists to be cognizant of their roles in disaster coverage,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. "Advocacy, self promotion, offering favors for news and interviews, injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility."

Undoubtedly, journalists walk a fine line to balance their professional responsibilities with their humanity when covering disasters. SPJ does not nor would it ever criticize or downplay the humane acts journalists are performing in Haiti. But news organizations must use caution to avoid blurring the lines between being a participant and being an objective observer.

"No one wants to see human suffering, and reporting on these events can certainly take on a personal dimension. But participating in events, even with the intention of dramatizing the humanity of the situation, takes news reporting in a different direction and places journalists in a situation they should not be in, and that is one of forgoing their roles as informants," Smith said.
YOU KNOW, nobody's going to fault Cooper for trying to safeguard a child when all hell has broken loose. Frankly, I think what he did probably was insufficient.

Furthermore, no one whose humanity hasn't set sail for pleasanter climes is going to fault Roberts for checking up on that Haitian orphanage, or even for placing a call to worried adoptive parents back in the States. But if you're making that act of compassion the center of your story, it compromises both the journalism and the good deed.

It ain't brain surgery, and it doesn't require attending a graduate seminar on moral reasoning and crises.

Hell, Hoss. Jesus had it all nailed a couple of millennia ago. Check out
Matthew 6:

1
"(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
2
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
3
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
4
so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
TIME WAS that almost everyone understood the concept. Time was.

Perhaps today's journalists, after reading the SPJ missive, need to take a look at the Good Book -- if for no other reason than to assure themselves that folks just aren't making this s*** up.

What hath SCOTUS wrought?


There is such a thing as too-free speech. Especially when it comes to big business and politics.

With the U.S. Supreme Court allowing corporate America to throw its money behind candidates directly -- as in running campaign advertising -- elections won't become just another opportunity for electing the best Congress money can buy. Nooooooo, elections will become major branding opportunities, too.

We only have to go back to 1948 to see what that looks like. Then, when ABC radio personality Don McNeill was "running" for president, Swift saw it as just another opportunity for (ahem) bringing home the bacon.

We never learn, do we?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Them that's got shall get,
them that's not shall lose


Broadcast radio is on life support, and broadcast television has a bad cough.

Newspapers are in the dementia ward, yelling into phantom telephones for ghostly operators to get them rewrite. Meantime, some of the various publishers still standing are hatching plans for their dwindling readership to pay up to peruse a degraded product online.

Some folks, Jerry Del Colliano of Inside Music Media among them, think the "paid Internet" is the wave of the future. That there was a free lunch, but soon there won't be.

Soon enough, the thinking goes, if you want to access newspapers on the web, you'll pay up. And if you want to listen to podcasts -- the programming formerly known as "radio" -- you might well pay up there, too.


YOU'LL PAY to hear music, and you'll pay to get the news. And that's all after you will have paid a pretty penny for home and mobile Internet connections and then paid small fortunes for the devices by which you connect.

Says Del Colliano:
Now some companies are considering withholding content from the public and/or search engines like Google and dare to make the public pay or the distributor pay.

And that's what I'm seeing.

I know this is controversial because I, too, have become spoiled getting The Wall Street Journal and New York Times for free instead of the whopping $900 a year it costs for print subscriptions to both.

Rupert Murdoch is now challenging the free Internet -- Murdoch is the owner of News Corp that publishes The Wall Street Journal and other publications. Competitors have tried to charge money for subscriptions and have failed -- The New York Times being one of them, although the Times is said to be close to approving a paid model.

True, there are online niche publications that charge subscription fees but they are the minority and their content is specialized. And Murdoch himself was thought to be tinkering with making the Journal's paid site (they were an early adopter to paid subscriptions) free theorizing that free meant more eyeballs for advertisers.

Advertising isn't going away.

But the totally free Internet is.


(snip)

This blog for example will likely be $99 a year before the end of the year. But you can subscribe by the month. It's true that when "free" ends, many, many customers will not or cannot pay for the content but the ones who will are the ones the content will be customized for going forward.

Imagine the music and entertainment streams that can be accessed by people willing to pay a reasonable micropayment for them. The free Internet will always be available -- don't get me wrong. But those who embrace free as a business model must compete in a world of seemingly infinite competitors all looking to sell cheap ads for revenue.

THE IMPLICATION here is that the "good stuff" will be behind "paywalls," and digital rabble will be fighting over the "free Internet" crumbs.

That well could be; it already is happening. More and more, if there's something good on TV, you have to pay for cable to see it. And sometimes, you have to pay extra to see it on "pay channels" like HBO.

While it's true there's exponentially more content out there now than there was 50 years ago, pre-cable -- and also true that the "golden age" of TV featured its share of brass-plated crap -- you have to admit that it was a much more egalitarian landscape. For the price of a TV set (or of a couple of beers at
Studs' Place), Ralph Kramden had the same unlimited passport to the best of American culture as did Alan Brady . . . as well as one to the worst.

Another thing is that, years ago, while there may have been less total media content -- both free and paid -- there was an amazing breadth to "free" media. You kind of had to work at it not to be exposed to wide swaths of what our culture had to offer. Even "Top-40" radio was just that -- the most popular music, whether it be from Frank Sinatra, the Beatles or Tammy Wynette.


TODAY, I worry about how a "paid Internet" could lead to even less democratization of information than existed before there even was an Internet.

And I think this becomes even more of an issue during an era of flat or negative economic growth and high unemployment. What if, during the Great Depression, commercial radio offered as scanty a product in terms of both quality and cultural breadth as it does now?

And what if one couldn't even rely on finding discarded newspapers on a park bench? Or in the local diner?

And what if public libraries had extremely scanty offerings of current newspapers and periodicals because of the massive cumulative expense of being "nickeled and dimed" via "micropayments"? How about the sheer unwieldiness of managing hundreds of passwords and accounts across many thousands of patron requests?

Impossible in the 1930s, and probably an IT and staffing nightmare today for strapped public and private institutions.

Ironically, technology in the coming "brave new world" -- contra popular opinion -- may well be a regressive force. And content originators not giving away their intellectual property will have far more ramifications (and present far more complications) for the less well-off than in the pre-digital past.

IF EGALITARIANISM catches a break, plans like The New York Times' for a "metered" website will give way to more creative models for making a buck. What doesn't bode well for such schemes is the distinct possibility of not being to charge a greatly smaller "paid audience" enough to make up for lost Internet ad revenue (due to fewer "views"). Well, that and the ability of just a few similar free sites of equal quality to blow up the entire business model.

The Times and Rupert Murdoch may charge, but someone won't. If I were them, the letters "N," "P" and "R" would strike fear in my heart.

I tend to think the genie is out of the bottle now, and the only thing more complicated than leaving it out is trying to stuff the sucker back in. The unintended consequences have been a bitch one way, and they could be an even bigger one the other.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Genius.

Viral.

Nelson's career: Another senseless death

This is a picture of what must be the most pissed-off man in America -- Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Don't let the smile fool you.

If you look closely, the senator kind of looks like he's gritting his teeth. That would be more like it for a man who just realized tonight -- with the election of a Republican to Massachusetts' "Kennedy seat" in the Senate -- that he pissed away his political career over health-care reform, and all he got was . . . well, nothing.

He thought he was getting the best deal he could get for Nebraska on the bill's proposed unfunded Medicaid mandates, but ended up getting roasted for the "Cornhusker kickback."

He thought he was getting the best deal he could for pro-lifers in an extremely hostile Senate, but his best deal turned out to be not good enough. Now all the state's pro-life activists hate his guts.

He thought he was looking out for all his boyz in the insurance industry by drawing a line in the sand over the "public option," but all the lobbyists' horses and all the lobbyists' men probably can't put
Nelson's approval rating back together again.

Come on, the man can't even go out for a pizza now.

AND NELSON THOUGHT that, even if everything else went south, he at least could say his was the vote that gave the country health-care reform. Oops.

According to The New York Times,
that's probably toast, too:

Scott Brown’s decisive Senate victory in Massachusetts imperiled the fate of the Democratic health care overhaul as House Democrats indicated they would not quickly approve a Senate-passed health care measure and send it to President Obama.

After a meeting of House Democratic leaders Tuesday night even as Mr. Brown’s victory was being declared, top lawmakers said they were weighing their options. But the prospect of passing the health care overhaul by pushing the Senate plan through the House appeared to significantly diminish.

Noting that the election in Massachusetts turned on a variety of different factors such as the economy and local issues, Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a top party campaign strategist, acknowledged that resistance to the emerging health legislation also factored in the outcome of the Massachusetts race.

“Health care was also part of the debate and the people of Massachusetts were right to be upset about provisions in the Senate bill,” Mr. Van Hollen said, referring to “special deals” included in the bill to win the votes of Democratic senators and round up 60 votes.

The comment was a clear indication that Democrats were recalibrating their approach on health care, leaving them a diminishing and politically difficult set of choices.

Pushing the Senate plan through the House was favored by some lawmakers and strategists as a way to quickly deliver the president a bill on a signature domestic achievement, since it would require just one final House vote. Remaining problems could be worked out with a subsequent piece of legislation.

But many House Democrats expressed deep reservations about the Senate bill. Those complaints, combined with the message sent by the Massachusetts electorate, apparently were sufficient to leave Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants reluctant by Tuesday night about moving in that direction.
WHO KNOWS? Maybe the Nebraska senator can pull it all back together before the 2012 election. Then again, maybe not.

In that case, Ben Nelson just would have to settle for being a cautionary tale. As in, "Never, never ever
dive on a political hand grenade to save a bill you don't really believe in in the first place."

Especially after a long, tortuous process during which you helped to take a pretty decent House bill and turn it into something that everybody could hate.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Screw the meek, for they harsh our mellow

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Last February, the Pharisee of the Airwaves went before a crowd of true believers to state some articles of the conservative faith.

And verily, Rush Limbaugh said unto the Conservative Political Action Conference that greed doth bode favorably unto us, social programs doth vex the people and, yea, government doth harsh thine mellow.

Thus, the high priest that year declareth unto the multitude that, yea, it be expedient for us that the poor should be cast asunder, so that the rich man be taxeth not. Amen.

But, seriously, the people who have achieved great things, most of it is not inherited. Most wealth in this country is the result of entrepreneurial, just plain old hard work. There’s no reason to punish it. There’s no reason to raise taxes on these people. Barack Obama, the Democrat Party, have one responsibility, and that’s to respect the oath they gave to protect, defend and follow the US Constitution.

They don’t have the right to take money that’s not theirs and none of it is from the back pockets of producers and give it to groups like ACORN which are going to advance the Democrat Party. If anybody but government were doing this, it would be a crime. And many of us think it’s bordering on that as it exists now.

President Obama is so busy trying to foment and create anger in a created atmosphere of crisis. He is so busy fueling the emotions of class envy that he’s forgotten it’s not his money that he’s spending. [Applause] In fact, the money he’s spending is not ours. He’s spending wealth that has yet to be created. And that is not sustainable. It will not work. This has been tried around the world. And every time it’s been tried it’s a failed disaster.

(snip)

Yet, as I listen to the Democratic Party campaign, why, America is still a soup kitchen, the poor is still poor and they have no hope and they’re poor for what reason? They’re poor because of us, because we don’t care, and because we’ve gotten rich by taking from them, that’s what kids in school are taught today. That’s what others have said to the media. You know why they’re poor, you know why they remain poor? Because their lives have been destroyed by the never-ending government hay that’s designed to help them but it destroys ambition. It destroys the education they might get to learn to be self-fulfilling. [Applause] And it breaks our heart. It breaks our heart. We lose track of numbers with all of the money, with all the money that’s been transferred, redistributed, with all the charitable giving in this country.

Ladies and gentlemen, there ought not be any poverty except those who are genuinely ill equipped. But most of the people in poverty in this country are equipped for far much more. They’ve just been beaten down. They’re told don’t worry, we’ll take care of you. There’s nothing out there for you anyway; you’ll be discriminated against. Breaks our heart to see this. We can’t have a great country and a growing economy with more and more people being told they have a right, because of some injustice that’s been done to them or some discrimination, that they have a right to the earnings of others. And it’s gotten so out of hand now that what worries me is that this administration, the Barack Obama administration is actively seeking to expand the welfare state in this country because he wants to control it.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I present to you the fulfillment of Rush Limbaugh's conservative dream -- Haiti.

In Haiti, people have no right to the earnings of others. No one is being "beaten down," because absolutely no one is telling the masses they'll be taken care of from womb to tomb.

In Haiti, there is precious little government, in fact, to get in the way of ordinary Haitians being all they can be. There is no "never-ending government hay" to stifle initiative, ambition or creativity.

And while there historically has been some "never-ending" foreign-aid hay, much of that has been stolen by the tiny corps of bureaucrats and, therefore, has not been allowed to taint the people who don't need it the most.

No, Haiti is a bootstrap kind of country -- never more so than it is now in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake.

Its people are all "rugged individualists" now, and there is no free lunch. Or supper. Or breakfast.

For that matter, there's no free water, either.

AND FOR THOSE unfortunate souls crushed under the weight of crumbled buildings thrown up by hardy capitalists free of the heavy hand of government oppression -- also known as building codes and inspections -- there is no free funeral, either.

In Haiti, the Limbaughian conservative paradise, even the dead must be self-reliant or be punished by the relentless logic of the free market. Naturally, the left-wingers of London's Guardian newspaper
are horrified by such a well-functioning society where those who can't cut it get what they deserve.

Especially when they're dead.
The smell is bad, but the sights are worse. Far worse. Bodies are piled up along the path, dumped one upon the other. A couple of chickens are pecking at them like corn. One of them, a woman with braided hair perhaps in her 30s, has her hands in a rigor mortis embrace, as though she had been trying to cling on to life and never let it go.

A few feet further in, we come across a hand-wagon. It is old and rustic, like something out of an Antonioni movie. Inside about six bodies are stacked in jumbled postures. The wagon sits there, with its cargo, under the crosses of the tombs, making some twisted comment about God's will be done. One of the bodies has its hand outstretched and when a car passes by, bringing into the cemetery yet another corpse, it hits the arm and makes it swing like a creaking door.

Every five minutes a new body is brought in, most in simple coffins, fashioned out of rough bits of salvaged wood; one has been made out of old cupboard doors. Suddenly, six men rush by, carrying on their shoulders a fancy lacquered coffin, heading for one of the tombs of a wealthy family.

Poor Haitian families don't enjoy such luxury of mourning. A tomb on the right side of the walkway has been opened to allow the body of a 14-year-old girl, swaddled in white cloth and laid out in a pick-up truck, to be added beside the remains of her parents. Above the opening, the word "réparation" has been scrawled. We ask the cemetery workers standing nearby what that signifies. "It means the family has no money," one worker tells us in broken French. "They cannot pay." A truck with the young girl on board later drove off, her body unburied.

How much money are we talking about, we ask, what are you charged to lay a teenaged girl to rest? A hundred dollars, the workers say.

Officials from the city council in charge of the cemetery tell us that the bodies dumped along the path were all brought by families who couldn't afford to pay.

Outside the cemetery, a man is sitting on a car looking busy. He is keeping a registry of the new arrivals. He already has 210 names on his list, some identified by just their first name.

An elderly man walks out of the cemetery, looking weary and clutching a handkerchief to his face. He has just put his sister and niece into the family tomb. Marie Eve Alcindor, 63, and Sarah, 32, died when the roof of the family clothes shop fell on them. Marie Eve had arrived in Port-au-Prince one week before the earthquake to visit her family. She had come from New York, where she worked as a paediatrician. "My sister was a doctor and she cared for children," says Jean-Pierre Alcindor. "So for her to come here, die here, and now we cannot even care for her body with dignity – do you know how that feels?"

Marie Eve's own children had wanted to take her body back to America for burial. But there were no trucks to carry her, no flights, no companies that would take her. After five days, the body by now decomposing, they called off the effort and ventured instead into the Grand Cimetière.

Standing beside Jean-Pierre Alcindor was his nephew Orel. He survived because when the family shop collapsed, he was at the back of the building and managed to crouch under a car that protected him. He was pulled from the rubble for hours after the quake, bearing scratches on his head and arms but otherwise unharmed

"This country was bad long before this," he says. "But now the earthquake has exposed the true face of Haiti."
SOCIAL DARWINISM -- or should I say social Limbaughism -- has no time for market inefficiencies such as "dignity."

After all, "human dignity" is a socialist concept anyway -- it is doled out equally to all, regardless of talent, work ethic, ability to pay or moral rectitude. It negatively incentivizes individuals, as it were. You cannot receive more if you work hard at being dignified, and you cannot be dignity-penalized for being a complete reprobate.

Human beings come in all shapes and sizes, possessing an infinite variety of talents and incompetencies, a maddening range of intelligence, as well as consciences functioning at varying degrees of efficiency. Yet they all receive "human dignity" in equal measure from an obviously communistic deity.

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land" is "communist" rhetoric worthy of Fidel Castro . . . and
that it actually came from the God-man Jesus Christ poses a fatal contradiction for radical, utilitarian capitalists trying to simultaneously pass themselves off as God-fearing social "conservatives."

Humans don't start shedding dignity -- or inalienable rights -- once they exit the birth canal. And you can't preach "God-given rights and dignity" while privileging free-market, survival-of-the-fittest ideology over God-given ultimatums to the contrary.

I THINK JESUS sums up the Limbaugh Dilemma pretty well
in Luke 16:
No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him.

And he said to them, "You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.
YOU CAN'T SERVE two masters . . . God and mammon. Human dignity and materialist, utilitarian ideology.

Not that Rush and scores like him won't stop trying to tell us we can so have our cake and eat it, too.

Thank GOD for free shipping


What I want is a bad-ass Mac Pro to fly through multimedia chores -- to put together podcasts with the greatest of ease.

I can see it now.

Dual quad-core Intel processors, 32 GB of RAM and four 2 TB hard drives in a RAID array. An NVIDIA GeForce graphics card. Two SuperDrives. A 24-inch Apple cinema display.

HANG ON, I'm just getting started, y'all.

An Apple Magic Mouse. An 802.11n Wi-Fi card. Logic Express 9 and Final Cut Express 4 (Hey, I'm not greedy . . . I didn't go for the Pro versions). Aperture 2 photo-editing software. Microsoft Office (Ick, but what'cha gonna do?)

A Mini Display Port-to-DVI adapter, just in case.

And a Canon PIXMA printer.

Oh . . . and don't forget the AppleCare package -- a no-brainer here.

AS YOU probably can tell, I went to the online Apple Store to configure me one of these bad boys. Likewise, you probably will not be shocked by what I say next.

Brother, can you spare $15,042.90?

Sigh. Windows sucks, but at least it's an affordable sort of suck.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Conan harnesses the power of 'NUTS!'


In the Great Late-Night War, you can look to history for guidance as to how this thing is going to turn out.

Like, you can look at the
Battle of the Bulge as a historical parallel. NBC is the Nazi army, Jay Leno is the Vichy government in France, and things are not going swimmingly as 1944 draws to a close.

The Allied armies have overrun much of France and Belgium, and they're quickly closing in on the Fatherland. Something has to be done. So the Germans launch the Battle of the Bulge in late December, with the goal of encircling and destroying four Allied armies and forcing a peace treaty.

Leno's Vichy government is quick to agree to whatever the der Führer thinks best. What der Führer thought best was the capture of
The Tonight Show in Bastogne, Belgium. The Nazis would take it, then put their guy back in charge.

C'est tout! C'est si bon! Ist gut!

Finally, with Bastogne and the crippled, beleaguered Tonight Show all but surrounded, the NBC television Nazis made their demand to Allied commander Conan O'Brien: Surrender.

And Conan said "NUTS!"


THE REST will be history. Most notably, NBC and a now-damaged Jay Leno.

Look, all CBS' David Letterman did was screw young female subordinates. In this day and age, that's survivable.

But Leno, on the other hand, was an embarrassing failure at 9 o'clock. And now he looks like NBC's eager toady in sticking a shiv in Conan's back. He's the "Tonight Show Indian giver." He's the butt -- and the chin -- of all the other late-night hosts' jokes.

Letterman is having a field day.

ABC's Jimmy Kimmel, meantime, is making fun of Leno . . . on Leno's own show, and Jay was defenseless against the hilariously withering "attack."

That's damaged goods.


OH, YEAH. That's damaged goods.

So now we must quickly switch historical analogies to plumb the true good fortune of Conan O'Brien.

Press reports say
negotiations are being "finalized" to pay Conan $30 million to leave The Tonight Show so Leno can take it back. Imagine it this way -- not only is Conan getting a coveted spot in a lifeboat while the crew of the Titanic is otherwise occupied rearranging the deckchairs, he's getting $30 million for the privilege of saving his own ass.

All because he had the guts to say "NUTS!"

3 Chords & the Truth: We got ours


No matter what, it's all about us.

This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, El Favog-bo shows us it's all about you not liking who we don't like.

It's about keeping all our cash. Because it's ours, all ours.

On the Big Show, it's about looking at tragedy and wondering "Why is he so anxious for us to send our money to those people?" There's got to be a catch.

Besides, says El Favog-bo, we already gave at the office. Find another sucker.

IT'S ALL ABOUT self-reliance and survival of the fittest. That's the way God made the world, and if it takes a little earthquake to make the point clearer. . . .

My morphine is I Me Mine. Give it to me, because -- if you hadn't already noticed -- there's nobody but me. At least nobody who matters.

This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, our guest host makes the case that every man is an island. And if the island you happen to be happens to be Haiti . . . well, it sucks to be you.

Let's just say it's been an interesting week here at the Big Show. And between the cool tunes -- some of them by well known commie dope fiends -- we'll see how the Island of El Favog-bo fares.

All by itself.

BUT JUST IN CASE, your Mighty Favog is standing by . . . music in hand.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

That's a little island lingo there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

That doo doo that he do. . . .

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Being the self-reliant man of achievement that he is, Rush Limbaugh wasn't satisfied with the new low in misanthropic commentary he reached Wednesday.

So he topped himself today.


I DON'T KNOW about you, but the fact that the man is allegedly an American -- who actually has American listeners via American radio -- makes me want to learn to say "aboot" and "shedule" so I can pass as Canadian.

The Chicago Tribune has been reporting on
this latest conservaporn on the public airwaves:
Maybe radio's Rush Limbaugh was trying to provide the Rev. Pat Robertson with a little cover, when he suggested on-air that people don't need to contribute money to Haitian earthquake relief.

It was Robertson who first suggested that the people of Haiti are paying for "a pact with the devil'' made centuries ago.

But it was Limbaugh -- at a time when the president is asking Americans to contribute money to earthquake relief and directing them to the White House Website to learn where they can help, as the State Department reports more than $3 million in $10 donations for the Red Cross through its text-messaging network -- who told a caller that all helping out will do is get someone on Obama's campaign email list.

"We've already donated to Haiti,'' Limbaugh told the caller on his radio show (here it below) "It's called the U.S. income tax."

President Barack Obama today announced $100 million in direct aid to Haiti for earthquake relief.
IRONICALLY, if America itself followed the Limbaugh prescription for improving Haiti, we'd probably end up just like "unimproved" Haiti. And "el Rushbo," no doubt, would be our very own "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

A new low . . . Rush must be so proud

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but usually not in the mad, mad world of right-wing radio blatherer Rush Limbaugh.

In fact, in Rush's world of daily three-hour doses of paranoia and misanthropy, an earthquake isn't even just an earthquake. . . . Whoops! That's another never-ending acid trip altogether -- Pat Robertson's.

Actually, in Rush's never-ending acid trip (although I concede that he could be juicing his cigars with PCP instead), earthquake relief isn't just earthquake relief. No, in the sad existence of this self-made man with his own self-made broadcasting dystopia, the United States sending desperately needed earthquake relief to Haiti -- the poor man of the Western Hemisphere -- isn't just about being a decent neighbor.


NOR IS IT about America's sputtering efforts, randomly undertaken, at living up to its defining myth.

Instead, it's about President Obama trying to suck up to his fellow black folk.


YOU CAN'T make up that kind of crazy. From The Raw Story this morning:
"In the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentleman, in the words of Rahm Emanuel, 'we have another crisis simply too good to waste,'" the conservative talk show host remarked. "This will play right into Obama's hands, humanitarian, compassionate."

"They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, in the light-skinned and black-skinned community in this country," Limbaugh added. "It's made to order for them. That's why he could not wait to get out there. Could not wait to get out there."

This isn't the first time Limbaugh has found himself in troubled waters over racial comments.

Last September, Limbaugh made brash comments following an incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a bus (an incident police later said wasn't racial motivated).

“I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism," he remarked. "I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.”
A LONG TIME AGO, I concluded that listening to Rush Limbaugh not only was as intellectually and morally damaging as listening to 50-Cent for three hours a day, but indeed was a near occasion of sin. For everybody.

It's nice of Mr. Limbaugh to keep offering up assurances that I was correct in my judgment.

One of these things . . . much like the other


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Haiti is in ruins -- in utter chaos -- with untold thousands either dead, missing or suffering after Tuesday's earthquake near Port au Prince.

There has been precious little help. Precious little food. Precious little medical care.

The world is mobilizing to help, but the world does not reside in Haiti -- the cavalry, so to speak, is days away.



THIS WAS New Orleans in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina. You'd be forgiven for thinking it a wet Haiti.

Much of the city was in ruins -- in utter chaos -- with untold thousands dead, missing or suffering in the aftermath of the storm and the collapse of the levees. There had been precious little help. Precious little food. Precious little medical care.

Haiti has its excuses, a particularly good one being that it happens to be the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. New Orleans, on the other hand, is found in the world's richest country.

Yet New Orleans looked -- in many respects, long has looked and still looks -- not dissimilar to Port au Prince. In NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' special on Katrina from 2005, he said "I think this is going to change our society for a good, long while."

Perhaps he was speaking in terms of "dog years."

Somebody has some explaining to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The fo' 'ho'-men of NBC's apocalypse


The sharp analytical minds of Conan O'Brien's writing staff at The Tonight Show may have come up with the best explanation yet of the fine mess NBC has gotten itself into.

Think of the network's suits as favoring something a little "louder" than Brooks Brothers or Armani. Add a little extra bling to go with the Rolexes. Throw in some oversized chapeaus.

And don't forget the fur coats and Cadillacs in this action-packed milieu where "management" sweet talks the fresh talent, the veteran talent is expected to produce, many Benjamins change hands, and everybody will get screwed sooner or later.


WELL, everybody will get screwed until Pam Grier shows up -- in a clever "Conan O'Brien" disguise, no less -- to whoop some serious pimp-daddy ass and try to rescue the desperate old ho who's seen better days and will do anything to avoid being dumped at the Bide-a-Wee Courts with a cap in the . . . assets.

The New York Times picks up the plot line in this peacock-network remake of Foxy Brown:

Less than a week after NBC told him it intended to move his “Tonight Show” to a new time, 12:05 a.m., Mr. O’Brien said he would not agree to what he considered a demotion for the institution of “The Tonight Show” — and his own career — by going along with the network’s plan to push him back a half-hour to make room for his most recent predecessor, Jay Leno.

Mr. O’Brien’s statement Tuesday said that he so respected the institution of “The Tonight Show” that he could not participate in what “I honestly believe is its destruction.”

Pointedly, Mr. O’Brien did not resign or indicate he would not show up for work. But an executive at the network who declined to be identified because of continuing negotiations said that Mr. O’Brien would leave once a financial settlement was reached.

By Hollywood standards, Mr. O’Brien’s letter was an extraordinary gesture — releasing a statement to make public his anger at the company paying him tens of millions of dollars before he even reached a settlement.

The closest episode in history may be when Jack Paar walked off the set of “The Tonight Show” in a huff over corporate censorship.

Mr. Paar returned to the show within a month in 1960, but few are predicting a reconciliation between Mr. O’Brien and the network.

NBC executives continued Tuesday to work toward a financial settlement, though some indicated increasing impatience with Mr. O’Brien’s effort to blame the network for the three-car pile-up in late night.

The host, who saw his brief run as host of “Tonight” cut short when NBC decided to restore Mr. Leno to the 11:35 p.m. time period, has been increasingly upset about how he believes he was treated by NBC’s management.

A representative of the host said Tuesday that Mr. O’Brien finally reached the point on Monday where he “sat up all night drafting the statement.”


(snip)

“You have to wonder if Jay is damaged goods after all this,” said one former longtime network programmer who did not want to be identified criticizing the network. “But if they give him ‘The Tonight Show’ back, maybe it ends up all right after a while. But it just seems so unfair to Conan.”

The release of Mr. O’Brien’s statement complicated an already messy legal and programming situation. NBC executives have quietly complained for at least a month that Mr. O’Brien himself was responsible for declining ratings on the show because he had not broadened his appeal from his days hosting NBC’s 12:35 a.m. show, “Late Night.”
FOXY . . . er, "Conan" don't take no stuff off no two-bit pimp daddies. She done got the evidence, the vice squad is about to bust down the door, and the jig is just about up for the Peacock Ring's late-night racket.

But alas, Foxy's bravery won't, we suspect, save Old Ho from TV decrepitude -- or from Jeff "Zucky Bear" Zucker, who runs the "enterprise." Last we saw, a salmon-colored Caddy was pulling up to the Bide-a-Wee Courts.