Monday, September 17, 2007

A little music to hold you for a while. . . .

We're taking a couple of weeks off to do . . . whatever, or nothing at all. I think the technical term is "recharging the batteries."

But I can't just leave you empty-handed for two weeks, so here's a tasty bit of video from Oct. 13, 1969 -- the St. Louis group Smith with their big hit, a cover of the Shirelles' "Baby, It's You."

Yummmmmmmmm. . . .

WHILE WE'RE AWAY, however, there is almost a whole year's worth of archives to get acquainted with. And there are several episodes of that podcast thang to listen to. So you ought to be covered.

Tell your friends. They'll have a couple of weeks to get up to speed before the blog resumes and new installments of the Revolution 21 podcast come online.

Till then, though . . . I'm outta here. Be good.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don't the Jews have trouble enough?

From Jerusalem comes this story to ring in the Jewish New Year, as relayed by the AP:

Madonna toasted the Jewish new year with Israeli President Shimon Peres and declared herself an "ambassador for Judaism," local newspapers reported Sunday.

The singer, who is not Jewish, arrived in Israel Wednesday on the eve of Jewish new year to attend a conference on Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism.

Madonna met Peres at his official Jerusalem residence on Saturday evening and the two exchanged gifts, with Madonna receiving a lavishly bound copy of the Old Testament.

She gave Peres a volume of "The Book of Splendor," the guiding text of Kabbalah, inscribed "To Shimon Peres, the man I admire and love, Madonna," the Yediot Ahronot daily reported.

A Peres aide confirmed the meeting but had no details.

"You don't know how popular the Book of Splendor is among Hollywood actors," Yediot quoted Madonna as telling Peres. "Everyone I meet talks to me only about that. I am an ambassador for Judaism."

Madonna, who was raised a Roman Catholic, has taken the Hebrew name Esther, and has been seen wearing a red thread on her wrist in a Jewish tradition to ward off the evil eye.

But her interest in Kabbalah in recent years has been criticized by Orthodox Jews, who say it is an abomination.

Other celebrities who flew in for the Kabbalah conference included movie star Demi Moore and her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, Rosie O'Donnell and fashion designer Donna Karan. Madonna came with her film director husband Guy Ritchie.

YOU KNOW, for roughly 6,000 years now, the Hebrew people have faced a more or less constant world o' You Know What, and during too much of that long history, the survival of the Jews has been an open question.

And now that self-important flakoid Madonna is going to be an "ambassador for Judaism"? A yutz! The woman is a yutz!

What, she doesn't think God's people have had enough trouble already? Oy!

God is not dead, nor does He sleep. . . .

This just in from The Associated Press:

LAS VEGAS -- O.J. Simpson was arrested Sunday and faces multiple felony charges in an alleged armed robbery of collectors involving the former football great’s sports memorabilia, authorities said.

Simpson was arrested shortly after 11 a.m., Capt. James Dillon said.

The charges against Simpson will include robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary with a firearm, all felonies, Dillon said. More charges could be brought against him, he said.

Simpson was being held at Las Vegas police offices pending the arrival of his lawyer, who was expected later Sunday, Dillon said.

“He was very cooperative, there were no issues,” Dillon said.

At least one other person has been arrested and police said Sunday that as many as six people could be arrested in connection with the alleged armed robbery that occurred in a room inside the Palace Station casino-hotel on Thursday.

Simpson, 60, has said he and other people with him were retrieving items that belonged to him. Simpson has said there were no guns involved and that he went to the room at the casino only to get stolen mementos that included his Hall of Fame certificate and a picture of the running back with J. Edgar Hoover.


Police said two firearms and other evidence were seized at a private residence early Sunday.

Walter Alexander, 46, of Arizona, was arrested Saturday night on two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary with a deadly weapon.

He was released without bail on Saturday night, Dillon said.

Besides the two firearms, police said they seized other evidence during early morning searches of two residences, Lt. Clint Nichols said.

Translation: Yeah, the war's all about oil

Here's how you know that the defense secretary knows that the Iraq War is largely about O-I-L: Robert Gates, an intelligent and learned man, is reduced to a competing explanation as lame as the one he's ladling up on the Sunday chat shows.

Gates says the war that has massively destabilized an already unstable region is "really about stability in the Gulf."

And before you can ask how stupid he thinks we are, he regurgitates an already-discredited talking point from the disingenuous buildup to the war five years ago: "It's about rogue regimes trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. It's about aggressive dictators."

That's how stupid the Bush Administration thinks we are. And it's rolling out the same line again in the present buildup to war with Iran. Here's some of the Reuters report on Gates-rebuts-Greenspan, with Greenspan being Alan, the former federal reserve chief who leveled the war-for-oil accusation in his new memoir:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday rejected former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's statement that the Iraq war "is largely about oil."

With Democratic lawmakers apparently short of the votes needed to force President George W. Bush to change course, Gates defended the war, now in its fifth year, and said it's being driven by the need to stabilize the Gulf and put down hostile forces.

Gates's defense came a day after thousands of anti-war protesters marched in Washington. A spokeswoman for one of the groups who organized the march said more than 200 protesters were taken into custody, including at least 10 Iraq war veterans, when they attempted to cross a police barrier near the U.S. Capitol.

Greenspan, in his new book, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," echoed long-held complaints of many critics that a key motivating force in the war is to maintain U.S. access to the rich oil supplies in Iraq.

"Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy," Greenspan wrote.

"I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil," added Greenspan, who for decades had been one of the most respected U.S. voices on fiscal policies.

After more than 18 years at the helm, Greenspan retired in January 2006 as chairman of the Fed, the nation's central bank, which regulates monetary policy.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Gates said, "I have a lot of respect for Mr. Greenspan." But he disagreed with his comment about oil being a leading motivating factor in the war.

"I wasn't here for the decision-making process that initiated it, that started the war," Gates said. But he added, "I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don't believe it's true."

"I think that it's really about stability in the Gulf. It's about rogue regimes trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. It's about aggressive dictators," Gates said.

"After all, Saddam Hussein launched wars against several of his neighbors," Gates said. "He was trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, certainly when we went in, in 1991."

Bush last week ordered gradual troop reductions in Iraq into next summer but defied calls for a dramatic change of course, saying the U.S. military role there will stretch beyond his presidency.

Gates said he would urge Bush to veto a proposal by Democratic Sen. James Webb of Virginia that would require U.S. troops spend as much time at home as their previous tour in Iraq.

"It would be extremely difficult for us to manage that," Gates said. "It really is a backdoor way to try and force the president to accelerate the drawdowns. Again, the drawdowns have to be based on the conditions on the ground."

Listen to the podcast

You know, you won't hear anything like the Revolution 21 podcast anywhere else. It's that different from the over-researched pit of mediocrity that is the vast majority of American radio today.

It's quirky. It's eclectic. It dares to use words like quirky and eclectic, some of which are polysyllabic.

It dares to use words like polysyllabic.

What you'll find when you check out the Revolution 21 podcast is intensely personal "radio" -- only it isn't on the radio. It's a close as your browser . . . or your iPod.

As we say, the Revolution 21 podcast is like a box of chocolates . . . you never know what you're going to get next. That's kind of exciting -- and slightly dangerous and subversive -- don't you think?

You get what you vote for

Actions have consequences, and sometimes they come like a flood.

New Orleanians are finding that out the hard way -- the really hard way -- since Hurricane Katrina, being that they never learned that lesson before Katrina and the feds wrecked their already-struggling city.

Most folks could see that there would be major consequences from re-electing a dithering dunderhead like Ray Nagin as mayor. But nooooooooo, the fine citizens of the Crescent City re-elected the dope anyway, figuring that acting the same old idiotic way in the voting booth surely would produce positive results this time.

Guess what.

The Times-Picayune reports on yet another bad thing that happens when you play electoral roulette with five bullets in a six-shooter:

With millions of FEMA dollars already approved for myriad stalled infrastructure projects in New Orleans, federal officials this week questioned City Hall's continued insistence that technical issues in its own charter prevent local officials from getting the work done.
Mayor Ray Nagin's legal analysis of the city charter dictates that officials can't let any contract unless the city has 100 percent of the money available, an argument the mayor first brandished in a bid for massive upfront payments of Federal Emergency Management Agency repair grants. After federal and state officials declined such entreaties - instead requiring signed contracts and completed plans before making payments - city officials have since repeatedly raised the charter issue when asked about the glacial pace of progress on FEMA-approved projects.

The issue emerged again after the city and FEMA faced fresh pressure last week from fire officials and a new foundation created to help rebuild the city's still-fractured fire apparatus. FEMA officials deflected blame to the city, saying local officials simply haven't spent $9.1 million the federal agency has approved, through its Public Assistance grant program, for Fire Department repairs and to replace destroyed building contents.

The city remains stymied by a host of factors, said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, including squabbles over repair costs with FEMA, a shortage of architects and questions regarding station design.

But the legal issue with the charter remains the biggest obstacle, Sylvain-Lear said.

That the city continues to cling to that rationale perplexed FEMA officials, who said the Nagin administration told them months ago they'd resolved the charter issue. FEMA minutes from a June 21 meeting with Nagin and at least one aide, Becca O'Brien, say: "City reported that the city attorney has ruled on the 100% funds available before entering into a contract issue and it is NO LONGER a problem."

FEMA administrators didn't know details of the city's legal analysis, but were simply relieved that it had been put to rest.

Nagin spokesman James Ross, after conferring with the mayor, said Friday that Nagin doesn't recall telling FEMA the matter had been resolved, and that the charter language is still an obstacle.

The charter language cited by the Nagin administration - Section 6-308(2) - says this: "Prior to signature, contracts involving financial obligations by the city shall be approved also by the Department of Finance as to the availability of funds in the amounts and for the purposes set forth therein."

The language appears, at the very least, open to interpretation. For instance, while the city interprets the language as a requirement that all funds must be on hand, the rule also could be interpreted to mean the city's finance director simply must sign off that the money - having been approved by the federal government - is available.

Officials in Gov. Kathleen Blanco's administration who partially control the flow of Public Assistance grants declined comment on the charter question.

While millions in federal money dedicated to firehouses remain untapped, most repairs at the stations to date have come through volunteer labor, donations and work by the firefighters themselves.

Sylvain-Lear confirmed that no more than modest repairs have been carried out at firehouses using federal grants, although some roof repairs are about to start. She said of the slow progress: "It's not out of a lack of desire . . . you can't build something without money."

Citing the legal issue with the charter, Sylvain-Lear said the city has struggled with state procedures allowing for no more than 75 percent of the cost to be advanced from a FEMA grant, and FEMA's approval to reimburse the full cost of a project doesn't meet the charter requirement because that offer can later be revoked, she said.

FEMA spokesman Bob Josephson said that while FEMA can revoke money for a project if it is found to have been misused, that happens rarely and usually not until well after a project is done - during a records closeout phase.

Moreover, he said, if the charter poses an obstacle to rebuilding contracts, city officials could simply seek a change in charter language. That would require majority approval from voters in an election, after a charter amendment is proposed by the City Council or through a petition of 10 percent or 10,000 of the city's registered voters, whichever is less.

For firehouse projects - and many other infrastructure needs - Nagin administration officials claim they need major upfront money from the sale of state or city bonds. The State Bond Commission has given preliminary approval for the sale of $300 million in bonds for city and Sewerage & Water Board projects, and the Board of Liquidation City Debt is considering a $75 million sale from a 2004 bond issue that can be used for certain repair projects.

Right-wing geeks aren't, either

Friday, September 14, 2007

Something for the Compsons . . . and the Snopeses

It's a good thing when you can kick off a show -- a record-spinnin', rock-'n'-rollin' radio show, by God -- with a rock song originally sung by a country legend when he was a blue-eyed soul singer and now reinterpreted by a New Wave legend growing comfy in his own skin as a "mature" artist.

Now, was that a sentence or what?

Next step, William Faulkner redux. . . .

We start the program, the Revolution 21 podcast, with Nick Lowe covering Joe Stampley and Merle Kilgore's "Not Too Long Ago," which spent some time "bubbling under" the Billboard Top 40 in 1965, a single that put Stampley's group, The Uniques, in the spotlight for the first time -- a spotlight both wondrous and cruel with its unrelenting beam, unwavering and unforgiving just as it was unforgettable, a blessing and a damnable damned curse because fame can mess up a good man. It has messed with many a good man. Men make the music of our lives, it is true, but women do, too, women both strong and sensual and with the artistic genius that only the best men may possess, but not with the grace and tenderness of the fairer sex, and we pay tribute to them all today.

Michelle Shocked. Aretha Franklin. Patti Smith. All these women have achieved greatness in this man's world, rapacious, cruel men who chew up and spit out all that stands between them and their sordid appetites, like the appetite I possess for Early Times, a wondrous elixir of the gods I guzzle just for guzzling's sake. Hic! And all these women are featured on The Big Show this week . . . geniuses all.

We also will feature other geniuses on the program this week, many of whom you have heard about and others you have not but are brilliant and talented and a mere step below the pantheon of the heavens nevertheless. It is right and good that we shall honor them this week.

Lo, these gut-busting, uncivil and unkind times are times in which we need art, need music, need Revolution 21 and the brightness it brings to a mean and dingy, a mean and dank world. Listen now. Listen as if your life depended on the act of will that is listening, because it might. It might.

Can you tell that I need a vacation? For men will call you perceptive if you can, for that it the God's -- the Christian and Jewish god of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph -- honest truth that I do. I do. I do, God help me, I do.

Pass the Early Times.

Looka this beaut right here! The '03 Iraqi Freedom!

More fantastical jibberish from our Crazy Uncle in the White House, as reported by The Washington Post:

Administration officials have said that they hope to draw down forces substantially by the time Iraq reaches such a state, transitioning to a more limited mission aimed at supporting Iraqi forces and hunting down al-Qaeda cells. Officials said Bush's decision signals the beginning of what one called a "gradual change in mission" toward turning the lead role over to the Iraqis, and away from population security, the priority adopted in January when Bush announced the "surge."

The president's upbeat assessment of the situation in Iraq during a nationally televised address last night was clouded by the killing earlier in the day of a Sunni sheik who led the turnaround of a key province in alliance with U.S. forces. While Bush stressed the positive, his staff finished work on a report it will send to Congress today concluding that Iraq is making "satisfactory" progress on nine of 18 political and security benchmarks, just one more than in July, administration sources said.

But the president said such progress is enough to justify the beginning of a modest pullout, starting with 5,700 troops by Christmas. "Now, because of the measure of success we are seeing in Iraq, we can begin seeing troops come home," he said from the Oval Office. "The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together."

He coined a new slogan to describe his latest strategy, "Return on Success," meaning further progress will enable further withdrawal. "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home," he said. "And in all we do, I will ensure that our commanders on the ground have the troops and flexibility they need to defeat the enemy."

At the same time, Bush warned that substantial numbers of U.S. troops will be in Iraq for years to come. Iraqi leaders "understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency," he said, although he said such a scenario "requires many fewer American troops."

WHERE HAVE I GOTTEN this routine before? Oh yeah, the last time we took our Chevy to the dealership for repairs.

Does anybody know where George Bush is finding his advisers?


* * *

President George W. Bush
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

July 4, 2004

Mr. President:

I was happy to go along with your suggestion and purchase the new 2003 Iraqi Freedom, even though my 1979 Saddam -- admittedly not a prize of a vehicle -- was mostly serviceable and had passed the state inspection.

Despite my initial misgivings, I had every hope that the new Iraqi Freedom would turn out to be an excellent purchase. Even though it showed little sign of being able to pay for itself through producing more gas and oil than it consumed -- How was that supposed to work again? -- I thought that once I got it broken in, it would be a fine car. I was even planning a major road trip in it.

However, sir, this past nine months, the damned thing has given me nothing but trouble.

First, the thing kept getting vapor locked in bad neighborhoods, which led to the car being looted several times while I was waiting for the AAA wrecker. Then, the windshield wipers ceased working in unison with the little washer-fluid dealy, and I would keep having to lean out the window to wipe the windshield with my handkerchief.

Then the brakes went out, which really was most unfortunate for little Timmy O'Malley, God rest his soul. It was the first time his mother let him ride his bike in the street.

And now the gas tank on the son of a bitch has sprung a leak. I am really sorry I bought this thing.

What does Federal Motors propose to do to make this right for me, not to mention the O'Malleys?


Mighty Favog

Mr. Mighty Favog

1234 Verisimiltudinous Lane
Omaha, NE

Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Mr. Favog,

I am sorry that you claim to have problems with your new 2003 Iraqi Freedom. Our technicians have checked out the vehicle thoroughly and, while they did find some specs to be out of tolerance, there is nothing irredeemably wrong with the vehicle.

Indeed, I predict that your 2003 Iraqi Freedom will get better and better, and in no time at all will be the envy of all your neighbors. Your hair will lose gray, your manhood will increase, and women will strip off their clothes and throw themselves at you.

And your wife won't mind.

Nevertheless, we will make sure that our technicians work with you to iron out any remaining niggling problems with the 2003 Iraqi Freedom, and I foresee that those technicians will have everything worked out presently. Now, if you would be so good as to remit an additional $12,437.95, we can get right to work on making your vehicle just like new. Better, even!

I must warn you, however, that failure to purchase the additional servicing may result in your 2003 Iraqi Freedom exploding in your garage, burning down your house and endangering the lives of yourself, your wife and your dogs.


George W. Bush,
President, Federal Motor Car Co.

President George W. Bush
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

March 24, 2005


Listen, I paid for the additional servicing on my 2003 Iraqi Freedom to correct all the remaining "minor issues" with the vehicle. Since that time, your technicians are at my house every day, they're drinking my liquor and being inappropriately familiar with Mrs. Favog . . . and the damned car still is acting up.

Just the other day, as I was driving home from work, the damn thing threw a rod, seizing the engine, and fouling the entire engine compartment with smoking oil.

The techs say I have to buy a new engine -- at a cost of $7,349.87 -- to keep the warranty in force. I want to know when the $#!%&!* warranty is going to actually COVER something!

By the way, the vinyl seats stick to my butt even in the winter. THIS CAR IS A LEMON!

What do you propose to do to make me whole in this matter?

-- Favog

Mr. Mighty Favog
1234 Verisimiltudinous Lane
Omaha, NE

Dec. 8, 2005

Dear Mr. Favog,

I am sorry that you claim to still have problems with your 2003 Iraqi Freedom. Our technicians have checked out the vehicle thoroughly and, while they did find some specs to be out of tolerance, there is nothing irredeemably wrong with the vehicle. The rod thing was a total aberration.

Indeed, I predict that your 2003 Iraqi Freedom will get better and better, and in no time at all will be the envy of all your neighbors. Your hair will lose gray, your manhood will increase, and women will strip off their clothes and throw themselves at you.

And your wife won't mind.

Nevertheless, we will make sure that our technicians work with you to iron out any remaining niggling problems with the 2003 Iraqi Freedom, and I foresee that those technicians will have everything worked out presently. Now, if you would be so good as to remit an additional $45,928.99, we can get right to work on making your vehicle just like new. Better, even!

I must warn you, however, that failure to purchase the additional servicing may result in your 2003 Iraqi Freedom accidentally starting up, engaging into reverse and running over you as you get ready to drive to work.


George W. Bush,
President, Federal Motor Car Co.

President George W. Bush
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Jan. 12, 2007


Your %#&!*@ grease monkey bastards have gotten my wife pregnant with the Spawn of Cheney, they have drunk all my beer, kicked my dog and puked all over my bathroom floor. My 2003 Iraqi Freedom continues to malfunction, despite all your lying, grandiose promises!

You are the scum of the earth, and I want this car OUT OF MY DRIVEWAY! I tried to drive it to work, and it damned near electrocuted me when I turned on the ignition. Then it backfired, and the wheels fell off.

Why the hell should I pay another fargin' nickel to keep this citrusy piece of crap in my possession? I wish to cut my losses, and I will never buy another vehicle from you again.

I would ask for my 1979 Saddam back, except that you promptly sent it to the compactor as soon as I traded it in.

You bastard! Take this car back, NOW!

-- Favog

Mr. Mighty Favog
1234 Verisimiltudinous Lane
Omaha, NE

Sept. 13, 2007

Mr. Favog:

Gen. Petraeus, our chief of mechanic services, informs me that all is not lost re: your 2003 Iraqi Freedom, and that it is yet possible to make the vehicle better than new . . . as well as get you some neighbor-lady action as good as the "hospitality" our techs received at your domicile.

And your wife won't mind. "WHISKEY! SEXY! MOTORCARS!" is our motto for very good reasons, I assure you.

Trust me, you didn't want that 1979 Saddam back. It was bad news.

We will make sure that our technicians work with you to iron out any remaining niggling problems with the 2003 Iraqi Freedom, and I foresee that those technicians will have everything worked out presently. Now, if you would be so good as to remit an additional $97,718.87, we can get right to work on making your vehicle just like new. Better, even!

I must warn you, however, that failure to purchase the additional servicing may result in your 2003 Iraqi Freedom launching an attack on Iranian air defenses and nuclear facilities, and you unfortunately will get the blame. It is your car, after all.


George W. Bush,
President, Federal Motor Car Co.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Peace be with y. . . OH MY GAWD!

Rod Dreher takes on the following bit of insanity by the dean of "the world’s largest gay church" -- a fellow who has harsh words for fellow homosexuals who make "heterosexist" condemnations of getting one's freak on in public places.

The Rev. Michael Piazza of Dallas' Cathedral of Hope, beggaring credulity on the matter of public buggering, had this to say in Dallas Voice:
Increasingly, I see our community espousing heterosexist standards for lesbian and gay relationships and behaviors. Ultimately, those standards may be right for some of us, but it would be our own expression of hypocrisy to seek to impose our sexual standards on others.

How long have we been told that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is between one man and one woman in the sanctity of marriage? We reject that judgment, as well we should.

What we need to avoid is becoming homosexual fundamentalists sitting in moral judgment on those who don’t meet standards dictated for us by the heterosexual majority.

We also must purge from our consciousness the compulsive need for the approval of the majority.

All our lives, we have subconsciously longed for our parents’ approval, but we are adults now. If the hetero majority doesn’t approve of us and our behavior, then that is their problem.

Emotionally mature adults make their own decisions based on what is good for them and for the larger society. Although I am not an advocate for public sex, I do hope we will keep it in some reasonable perspective and will defend the rights of consenting adults to live in ways that don’t harm others.

Kick Larry Craig out of office because he advocates fundamentalist values that harm the LGBT citizens of Idaho. Remove Shannon Bailey if he is not doing a good job, or if he has done something that harmed another person.

However, take great care when judging another for their sexual behavior. Remember that not so long ago the most law-abiding among us committed criminal acts every time we made love to our spouse.

The difference is less stark than you might think.
CALL ME HETEROSEXIST and unenlightened, but with someone like Piazza on staff, I just don't want to see what happens at the Cathedral of Hope when it comes time to pass the peace.

Y'knowwhatImean, Vern?

If a ball goes yard and there's no one
around to see it, is it really a home run?

Hey! There's a team out there that draws worse crowds than the Pacific Coast League's Omaha Royals!

Unfortunately, it's the National League's Florida Marlins. You have to love that civic pride they got goin' there in South Florida, huh?

Brother, can you spare a gallon?

Well, it's looking like we're going to war with Iran whether the American people want to or not.

Mad King George has decided that he's going to blow up the ayatollahs good, and the only thing left to do is to trump up a plausible reason to do it. That approach worked out so well with Iraq,
you know?

I suspect with Bush & Co. in charge, this will work out just as well. FOX News has the details:
Germany's withdrawal from the allied diplomatic offensive is the latest consensus across relevant U.S. agencies and offices, including the State Department, the National Security Council and the offices of the president and vice president. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, the most ardent proponent of a diplomatic resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions, has had his chance on the Iranian account and come up empty.

Political and military officers, as well as weapons of mass destruction specialists at the State Department, are now advising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the diplomatic approach favored by Burns has failed and the administration must actively prepare for military intervention of some kind. Among those advising Rice along these lines are John Rood, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; and a number of Mideast experts, including Ambassador James Jeffrey, deputy White House national security adviser under Stephen Hadley and formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

Consequently, according to a well-placed Bush administration source, "everyone in town" is now participating in a broad discussion about the costs and benefits of military action against Iran, with the likely timeframe for any such course of action being over the next eight to 10 months, after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections.

The discussions are now focused on two basic options: less invasive scenarios under which the U.S. might blockade Iranian imports of gasoline or exports of oil, actions generally thought to exact too high a cost on the Iranian people but not enough on the regime in Tehran; and full-scale aerial bombardment.

On the latter course, active consideration is being given as to how long it would take to degrade Iranian air defenses before American air superiority could be established and U.S. fighter jets could then begin a systematic attack on Iran's known nuclear targets.

Most relevant parties have concluded such a comprehensive attack plan would require at least a week of sustained bombing runs, and would at best set the Iranian nuclear program back a number of years — but not destroy it forever. Other considerations include the likelihood of Iranian reprisals against Tel Aviv and other Israeli population centers; and the effects on American troops in Iraq. There, officials have concluded that the Iranians are unlikely to do much more damage than they already have been able to inflict through their supply of explosives and training of insurgents in Iraq.

The Bush administration "has just about had it with Iran," said one foreign diplomat. "They tried the diplomatic process. China is now obstructing them at the U.N. Security Council and the Russians are tucking themselves behind them.

"The Germans are wobbling …There are a number of people in the administration who do not want their legacy to be leaving behind an Iran that is nuclear armed, so they are looking at what are the alternatives? They are looking at other options," the diplomat said.

Vice President Cheney and his aides are said to be enjoying a bit of "schadenfreude" at the expense of Burns. A source described Cheney's office as effectively gloating to Burns and Rice, "We told you so. (The Iranians) are not containable diplomatically."
WELL, WHAT CAN YOU DO? Other than stock up on warm clothes . . . and maybe buy a horse and buggy. And learn the old art of canning. After you plant a big-ass garden. And maybe move south, so you can plant in the spring and fall.

This ain't gonna be pretty. That's not exactly a surprise, is it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, the PCs and the Macheads must be friends

It had been driving me nuts.

Revolution 21's Blog for the People displayed just fine on Internet Explorer with the screen resolution set at 1024 x 768 pixels. On Safari and Firefox . . . well, you probably thought I was a freakin' idiot who has an amateurish piece of glop for a blog.

I was perplexed. I blamed Safari for not wanting to work and play well with Windows, being an Apple thang. I downloaded Firefox and . . . sorry about that, Mr. Jobs.

IT HAD TO BE my Blogger template. So, after a couple of hours of dinking, and researching, and dinking some more, it works. So now you Safari and Firefox people -- and I may become one of you predominantly if the Adobe Flash Player plug in doesn't stop crashing Internet Explorer for no good reason -- can see the blog the way it was meant to be seen.

And don't overlook the embedded player for the Revolution 21 podcast right there at the top of the page, on the right-hand sidebar.

I feel better now.

I love the smell of vinyl in the morning

I was vinyl when vinyl wasn't cool.

All right, I was vinyl when the only alternatives were eight-track or cassette. And I remember when reel-to-reel tape was an option, too.

But now vinyl is cool --
just ask MSNBC's tech guy, Gary Krakow -- and I welcome all the young folk arriving late to the party CLICK! to the party CLICK! to the party CLICK! to the party CLICK! to the party CLICK! to the party CLICK! . . .

Downloaded music may be the way most people buy their music these days – but there is a growing number of aficionados who are turning back to analog – all the way back to vinyl LPs.

Today’s rebellious young adults started turning to long-playing records because they looked cool -- flat, 12-inch, black discs from the ancient past, which stored only 50 minutes or so of music. So retro!

Then something happened. People actually started to listen to what was on those LPs and discovered they contained great-sounding music. Music that was more lifelike than they were used to.

They liked what they heard -- so much so that vinyl LPs started selling in numbers. Same for all sorts of turntables that play them. Today, many new CD/MP3s releases are also being pressed for vinyl fans.

There’s a good reason for this. In addition to what people remember as the bad things that LPs provide (scratches, clicks and pops) vinyl discs have lots of good things going for them. LPs contain close to 100-percent of the uncompressed music information as originally recorded. CDs contain only about half of that recorded information. And compressed music files are left with only a small percentage of the information that’s on a CD.

Forget convenience. What would you rather listen to?

This back-to-vinyl movement has not escaped the attention of some of the major electronics retailers in this country. When they began noticing turntable sales on the rise they figured it was time to provide some “software’ for customers to play on their “hardware.”

If you look carefully on Circuit City’s Web site, you’ll notice a bunch of albums for sale.

According to spokeswoman Jackie Foreman, Circuit City currently has more than 10,000 album titles available on their Web site.“We want to offer customers a wide variety of entertainment products,” she said.

Stop killing black people! BLAM!

Here's to you Mr. Shoot at a TV News Crew and Tell 'Em Your Name Man!

Most people wouldn't do that when the camera is running, and most people wouldn't have the sheer guts to say "My name is Shawn Sweet" and dare The Man to come and arrest your gunslingin' butt. I know people will say you're just the Idiot of the World, but I think you're fearless.

But I have a question, Mr. Shoot at a TV News Crew and Tell 'Em Your Name Man. I want to know how it is
that the KMTV reporter and photographer are the ones "killing black people on the north side" when it's mostly black people like yourself who've been driving around north and south Omaha neighborhoods firing handguns out of car windows . . . at other black people.

Just curious. I mean, please correct me if there's been an unreported epidemic of Ku Klux Klan members going on midnight rides through the 'hood.

Here's the story from the
Action 3 News web site:

An Action 3 News crew comes dangerously close to violence on the streets of Omaha. We were reporting on a triple shooting, when someone drove up and fired a gun.

Shawn Sweet's decision to fire a gun in the air and yell profanity at our news crew on Sunday landed him a not-so-sweet situation. The police picked him up that night. Tuesday we met him face to face in jail, where he says he's ready to face the consequences.

Here's some of what he said to Action 3 News Reporter Dave Roberts.

Dave: "Do you understand what you did scared the life out of my friends and co-workers on Sunday?"

Shawn: "And I'll suffer for that. I am not trying to get anything out of nothing. I told you before they come in here, I knew what I did was wrong."

Dave: "Do you think that my friends have ever seen a gun go off in a neighborhood? Do you understand what's going through their heads?"

Shawn: "They haven't but now they have. That's good because they see what we go through everyday."

Dave: "What are you trying to tell us?"

Shawn: "What I am trying to say is on the north side they black ball us. They bring all the crime out to the north side when there's crime happening all around Nebraska."

Dave: "You said (while fire you gun on Sunday) stop killing black people on the north side. How is the media killing black people?"

Shawn: "By exploiting their business. If you go somewhere else they'd shoot you for putting their business out there like that. Where I come from, what happens in the streets, stays in the streets because it's considered, it's telling."

Shawn: "I apologize to channel 3. I'm telling you I apologize. I will do anything, community service, donate money, whatever."

Sweet also tells us that he was on something when he decided to act violently towards our news crew on Sunday. However he wouldn't tell us exactly what he was on.

CLICK ON A PICTURE to see the Channel 3 video report.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years on: The gutting of America

I was listening, on the Internet, to the contemporary-Christian station in New Orleans when the morning-show hostess relayed the news that an aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. It must have been some idiot in a Cessna, I recall thinking.

Soon enough, it became clear that it wasn't. I ran for the television set. Getting ready for work kept getting delayed. It was a jetliner. And another. It's terrorism. And another one -- this time, the bastards hit the Pentagon.

This was war. We weren't sure with whom yet, but this was war, all right.

I was watching coverage on CBS as the first tower fell. And then the other. We knew there were thousands dead; what we didn't know was how many thousands. Hurriedly, I dashed off an E-mail to a friend in New York -- are you OK?

At some point, I must have called into work to say I would be delayed. I was going to have to bring my wife into work hours early -- she worked the night shift at the local newspaper, and it was all hands on deck there.

BY THE TIME I got to my job as production director at the local Catholic radio station, it was locked up tight. I unlocked the front door, went into empty studios, set up my portable TV set to keep up with the news and went about not getting much work done.

Finally, the general manager showed back up and told me she'd sent everyone home to be with their families, because no one knew what would get hit next. I suggested that we get announcements on about where to give blood, what parishes would be having prayer services, how to donate to the Red Cross and other relief agencies . . . the usual Stuff You Need to Know.

She thought it was a good idea, and I set about putting that together and getting it on the air.

By that time, President Bush had made his way to the bunker at Strategic Command headquarters just south of Omaha, and the boss and I stepped outside to see whether there were fighter jets overhead or to maybe catch a glimpse of Air Force One. No fighter jets where we were, but we did see an AWACS plane circling.

Then things started to get weird.

And, no, I'm not talking about the surreal nature of the attack itself. Or the lines of panic-buying motorists at gas stations. I'm talking about the aftermath of that day.

I'M TALKING ABOUT, for instance, a Catholic priest on EWTN -- in his Mass homily Sept. 12 -- telling people, "So NOW you come to Mass. . . ."

I'm talking about going to a memorial Mass at our parish and being asked to sign archdiocesan "pledge cards" promising not to fold, spindle, mutilate or murder Muslims on the home front. I told my wife I'd sign one just as soon as they came out with pledge cards for the other nine commandments.

I'm talking about Catholic pontificators blathering on the Catholic airwaves about how thousands of American babies were murdered every single day and you never heard anything about it like you did the attacks on New York and Washington. True enough, but a wholly inappropriate, staggeringly cruel and stupid thing to say on the air at that time.

I'm talking about Catholic theologians who used to be Reformed theologians going on EWTN and speculating about whether America was under divine judgment. Again, maybe so or maybe not -- Who could say? -- but not exactly the time to run off at the mouth about it, being that the World Trade Center was still a smoking mountain of rubble and shell-shocked New Yorkers were wandering around Manhattan with their missing loved ones' pictures taped to handmade signs asking "Have you seen . . . ?"

I'm also talking about a president who went on television only to tell Americans that it was now their patriotic duty to buy stuff.

All of the above represented important clues to the mess we'd find ourselves in six years on from that awful day. It pointed to a Church riven between the Pharisees and the feckless, and a big nation led by small men who think much of economic stratagems but little of eternal things.

SIX YEARS ON from what seemed to be the start of a great campaign against Those Who Seek to End Us, we find ourselves instead engaged in partisan political skirmishes amid one faltering, ignored little war in Afghanistan and one full-blown catastrophic quagmire in Iraq.

And in damning testimony to just how small are the men who lead us -- and how criminally venal and malfeasant, too -- the full-blown catastrophe is one we had no cause to fight in a country having squat to do with 9/11. The faltering, unfinished little war, however. . . .

Even back home, catastrophe has become not something that madmen commit against us but what we do to ourselves through a failing nation's everyday oversights, indifference and incompetence.

IT WAS JUST TWO YEARS AGO that we watched an American city drown because the American government doesn't do flood-protection so well.

We sat glued to our television sets as New Orleanians sat baking in their attics or sat waiting on their roofs. Yet more sat starving around a convention center or stood baking -- and dying -- deposited by rescuers on Interstate ramps only to be abandoned by their government. All in and around The City FEMA Forgot.

Two years ago, I sat stunned, watching as people from my home state begged the camera for help -- begged for food, begged for water. I watched shocking scenes from Somalia played out in Louisiana. In America.

Old men, sick and dehydrated, falling out on the high ground of unbroken levees amid a fetid sea. Falling out in front of TV cameras as grizzled cops wept and asked the cameraman where the feds were. Where the Army was. Where help was.

Years ago in Somalia, the American government would spring into action, airlifting thousands of tons of emergency food to starving people. Now, in a poor state in a poor region of our own rich country, it seemed all the American government could deliver were long faces and empty promises.

You would think all this over the past six years would be enough to command our full attention. You would, but you'd be wrong.

NO, WE HAVE MORE important things to occupy us. We have the urgent matter of Paris Hilton to worry about. We have the travails of Nicole and Lindsay to obsess over, not to mention whatever will become of the love child of the late Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Whatshisname.

And there's the Kid Rock-Tommy Lee smackdown over on MTV, while Britney Spears slouches through a white-trash dance in a white-trash trance, leading the cognoscenti to speculate whether she was white-trash wasted.

We have to worry about how to pay for our McMansions -- the ones we bought while working-class kids -- many of them sold on the U.S. military as a way off a dead-end street -- got shipped off to Iraq to fight and die in a woebegone war. One --again -- with precious little to do with those towers that fell on that clear September day in 2001.

And there's the problem of how to fill up the big tanks on our big SUVs with gasoline from Big Oil that costs big money.

Then there's how to deal with the depression that overtakes us -- and our children -- when all the bounty of a materialistic globe-spanning empire no longer can sate a hungry heart.

WE'RE SIX YEARS ON from 9/11, the day Osama bin Laden delivered a shocking blow that nevertheless failed to bring clarity to the muddled American mind. We remain led by men and women who not only can't do anything right, they seem to not even try.

Six years on, heartbreak mounts across our land. Our hearts continue to harden toward our fellow countrymen (read the comments on just about any New Orleans story lately?), and the American soul is ever more troubled.

Six years into the War on Terror -- the first war ever waged against a noun instead of the malefactors behind it -- we're losing badly. We may even be coming to the end of us as any sort of world power.

And the thing is, none of that is the fault of Osama bin Laden and his band of Islamic nut jobs.

When whomever tosses the last shovelsful of dirt atop us gets ready to engrave America's tombstone, they'll probably reflect that we did it all to ourselves. And then they'll turn to a touching song by John Prine, a great American tunesmith, for a fitting epitaph:

Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

Monday, September 10, 2007

When Vic 'n Nat'ly wuz young

Unable to do anything actually constructive this evening, I have been wasting lots of time on WWL television's 50th anniversary web page. I've been wasting hours strolling down video memory lane, including revisiting the John Pela Show, New Orleans' local teen music-and-dance show, for the first time in well over 30 years.

ABOVE IS A STILL from the early-'60s incarnation of the Pela show, where you see Channel 4's affable host presiding over the musical undulations of the very young Vic 'n Nat'ly, Vic 'n Nat'ly, Vic 'n Nat'ly, Vic 'n Nat'ly Vic 'n Nat'ly, Vic 'n Nat'ly and . . . Vic 'n Nat'ly.

Here's a latter-day picture of the young sweethearts, now four decades older, a lot grayer and living in a FEMA trailer in front of their upper Ninth Ward house, which they've had gutted for a year and a half but are waiting on Road Home money to finish renovating.

Nat'ly is hoping that she'll be able to choose avocado green as a color option when she buys her new kitchen appliances.

When cops get bored

Given the staggering insanity of this particular abuse of police power, you have to wonder whether the busted burger-maker isn't guilty instead of spilling, ohhhhhhhh . . . about eight to 10 kilos of industrial-grade methamphetamine into the hamburger meat at Mickey D's.

UNION CITY, Ga. (AP) -- A McDonald's employee spent a night in jail and is facing criminal charges because a police officer's burger was too salty, so salty that he says it made him sick.

Kendra Bull was arrested Friday, charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct and freed on $1,000 bail.

Bull, 20, said she accidentally spilled salt on hamburger meat and told her supervisor and a co-worker, who "tried to thump the salt off."

On her break, she ate a burger made with the salty meat. "It didn't make me sick," Bull told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But then Police Officer Wendell Adams got a burger made with the oversalted meat, and he returned a short time later and told the manager it made him sick.

Bull admitted spilling salt on the meat, and Adams took her outside and questioned her, she said.

"If it was too salty, why did (Adams) not take one bite and throw it away?" said Bull, who has worked at the restaurant for five months. She said she didn't know a police officer got one of the salty burgers because she couldn't see the drive-through window from her work area.

Police said samples of the burger to the state crime lab for tests.

City public information officer George Louth said Bull was charged because she served the burger "without regards to the well-being of anyone who might consume it."

The problem with TV news is it's Hap-less

Local TV news is all screwed up because there's no room anymore for real people who know things, like this legendary New Orleans sportscaster, the late Hap Glaudi.

Glaudi, who came to WWL television from newspapering -- the old New Orleans Item, to be exact -- was a Yat's Yat who hailed from deepest Noo Oiyuns, graduated from Jesuit High School and never missed mentioning old couples' 50th wedding anniversaries on the 5 o'clock edition of Eyewitness News.

I'm not being clear enough, this is plain. Let me be succinct; Hap Glaudi was Noo Oiyuns. Or N'Awlins. Or New Orleens, to Yankees who can't even pronounce the damn name right but insist on being overly familar, anyway.

I WAS BORN AND RAISED in Baton Rouge, and I wouldn't dream about being overly familiar with the Crescent City. But I did spend a lot of time out on the river at Head of Island, La., and I spent a lot of time watching Hap on Channel 4.

Just enough to know what we've lost . . . what we're still losing. And that is ourselves. We don't know who we are. We don't know where we came from. We sure as hell don't know where we're going.

A SYMPTOM OF THAT is the Land o' Suck that is local media today. It no longer reflects who we are: If you think someone like Hap Glaudi could get a job on Action Eyewitness Newswatch on Your Side today, don't give state troopers permission to search your car if you get pulled over.

Someone who absolutely is Omaha, or Toledo, or Waxahatchie, or Noo Oiyuns just ain't gonna get a snowball's chance in hell unless they can do a mighty fine job of disguising who they really are.

It's like the story my old college newspaper adviser told me about sitting on a campaign press plane, comparing notes with the New York Times writer.

"Whadda you think of this story?" asks the Times guy.

"I think you need to dull it up if it's going in the Times," replies the adviser, who back then was with The Associated Press.

"Yeah, you're right," the Times guy admits.

WELL, AT LEAST the Times was -- and is -- a good newspaper, despite the dulling-up process. In your hometown and mine, however, what you're likely to get on Action Eyewitness Newswatch on Your Side is not only dull, but probably dumb as a box of rocks, too.

Me, I'd rather have Hap.

Here's some recollections of the legendary Mr. Glaudi from those who knew him, as recounted in a Noo Oiyuns Times-Picayune article on WWL-TV's 50th anniversary last week:

"I remember an old car," (morning news anchor Sally-Ann) Roberts said. "That's what I remember of Hap. Hap was a person that didn't have to put on any pretensions. He was exactly what he appeared to be on the air. He had a very common touch. What was that car he drove?"

"It was an old car,"
(5 p.m. and 6 p.m. co-anchor Angela)
Hill said. "I don't know the name of my car."

"He drove that car, and I think that said a lot about him," Roberts said. "He didn't need to put on airs or try to keep up appearances. He was just naturally New Orleans."
IN THE FUTURE, will anybody remember there even was an Action Eyewitness Newswatch on Your Side at all, much less recall any of the blow-dried boxes of rocks biding their time in your town?

Biding their time, that is, until they can land a gig on Action Eyewitness Newswatch on Your Side in a faraway TV market that's another rung up the ladder to . . . what, exactly?

GO TO THE WWL-TV 50th anniversary section on the station's web site here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mike the Tiger to PETA: 'You idiots!'

Ah . . . PETA. Those tactless folk who love critters but hate people are on a jihad against Louisiana State because it keeps a live tiger mascot, which lives in palatial tiger digs that many folks in Baton Rouge's ghettos -- where humans live in shacks and kill one another at an alarming rate -- might be willing to fight him for.

Despite the fact that . . . well . . . Mike VI is a, you know, two-year-old, 300-pound tiger. With big sharp tiger teeth and razor-sharp tiger claws on great big tiger paws.

The New York Times is all over the ongoing cat fight:

Fans who are in town Saturday for Louisiana State’s home opener against Virginia Tech can get a glimpse of L.S.U.’s latest recruits — football players and a tiger mascot.

Mike VI, a 2-year-old Bengal-Siberian tiger who is expected to grow to 700 pounds, was acquired last month from an animal-rescue center in Indiana.

The tiger was placed on view last Saturday in a $2.9 million, 15,000-square-foot campus habitat equipped with a wading pool, a waterfall, scratching posts, air-conditioned sleeping quarters and around-the-clock care from the L.S.U. School of Veterinary Medicine.

“He probably gets better medical treatment than most of us,” Sean O’Keefe, L.S.U.’s chancellor, said. “He’s one charmed cat.”

That is a widely held view here, where football and a live tiger are seen as essential to the character of the state’s flagship university. But not everyone agrees. The university and the state are on the skirmish lines of a growing fight waged by animal-rights groups, lawmakers and courts to bar the use of animals as live mascots, for staging fights or even in certain types of sporting equipment. Perhaps never before have animals been so prominent on the sports landscape.

When L.S.U.’s previous mascot died in May of kidney failure at age 17, representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked the school not to get another live tiger. PETA argued that tigers need to roam over hundreds of miles, not square feet, and that wild animals become stressed in stadiums filled with tens of thousands of people.


The L.S.U. case represents perhaps PETA’s most visible attempt to dissuade universities from using live mascots. L.S.U. has kept live tigers since 1936. About three dozen schools keep live mascots. Others have discontinued the practice as being inhumane or too costly for appropriate care.

When L.S.U.’s previous tiger mascot died, PETA sent a letter to the school saying that large carnivores “suffer extremely” in captivity because they are denied the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors such as running, climbing, hunting, establishing territory and choosing mates. Most universities and all major professional teams use costumed humans, not live animals, as mascots, PETA said.


“Keeping wild animals in captivity is cruel,” Lisa Wathne, a PETA captive exotic animal specialist, said in an interview. “As grandiose as Mike’s expensive habitat may look, it is inadequate for a tiger. The whole idea of carting this animal to a sporting event with screaming people is stressful to any wild animal.”

TO PARAPHRASE LOUISIANA'S late governor, the ever-colorful "Uncle Earl" Long: Them SOBs done lost their minds!

Let me see whether I fully understand the complaint. PETA's poobahs seem to be upset that a two-year-old tiger is being kept in a luxury habitat that's roughly 10 times the size of my house and, frankly, a hell of a lot better landscaped.

Mike has a swimming pool. I don't.

He has free medical care, accessible at a moment's notice. I don't.

He has his own little waterfall and stream. I don't.

He has legions of adoring fans, and everybody loves him. I have a wife and two dogs who tolerate me -- most of the time.

He has a scratching post. I don't.

The State of Louisiana has given that tiger everything a cool cat (Hey! He has AC, too.) could want, excepting a Mrs. Mike the Tiger. But I'm sure that could be arranged.

MEANWHILE, there are those folks living in ghetto shacks, subsisting on ghetto medical care (Translation: Overcrowded charity-hospital emergency room), sending their kids to crappy ghetto schools and dying ghetto early even when they don't get gunned down by feral ghetto thugs.

And then you have the really unfortunate people of Da Slums a Noo Orluns.

Of course, you likewise have the "habitat" of some of the state's best and brightest high-school students a couple of miles up the road at Baton Rouge Magnet High School. Here's a picture:

THIS IS WHERE human citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish -- rich and poor, black and white -- send their human children for eight hours a day. Their high-achieving children who will be attending universities like LSU.

I'll bet some of those kids would take on Mike for his fabulous digs right now, too. Again, the Tiger Thing notwithstanding.

So what trips PETA's trigger amid all the deprivation and suffering of their fellow homo sapiens within spitting distance of the luxurious digs of a tiger mascot? That the tiger ain't got it good enough.

Now, that's rich. Good Lord, you'd think someone had slipped Sir Paul McCartney a cheeseburger or something.

Hey! That sounds like a game plan.