Thursday, October 30, 2008

You don't tug on the speaker's cape. . . ?

Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist, is running against the speaker of the U.S. House, Nancy Pelosi, and bad things keep happening to her.

The latest: Someone shattered all the windows of Sheehan's San Francisco campaign headquarters and stole a laptop, the campaign said in a press release:

"It seems to have been a calculated intimidation tactic," said Tiffany Burns, the Cindy for Congress campaign manager. "One of our computers was stolen, but no other property was taken from our offices and no surrounding buildings were targeted. Clearly they wanted to both frighten us and to gather information." Total damage to the campaign office is currently estimated at more than $5,000.

The Cindy for Congress campaign recently chronicled a series of unusual events, including other threats of violence, in a statement issued on October 13th. In that statement, Cindy Sheehan noted "[t]he past few weeks have been a little strange at Cindy for Congress [...] the things that have been happening could just be coincidences, or a run of bad luck, but the climate for the possibility of campaign hanky-panky certainly exists."

Campaign staffers also note each incident, including today's early morning incident, has followed closely on the heels of a confrontation with Cindy Sheehan's opponent Nancy Pelosi. This morning's incident occurred after an on-air confrontation between the two candidates on KQED's public affairs program Forum with Michael Krasny on Wednesday morning.

"Each time we confront her, each time we ask her for a debate, each time we gain ground in the polls, something horrible happens," said Burns. "Once or twice might be a coincidence, but such a consistent correlation is hard to ignore."
CINDY SHOULDN'T SWEAT the small stuff -- like repeated vandalism and theft. It's not that big a deal.

After all, I'm sure theft and intimidation -- if done for the greater good -- must have been a source of hot Catholic debate among the doctors of the church throughout all of history.

Grievously wrong? Quite sinful? Who's to say?

Obviously, Cindy Sheehan must have had it coming. Or something.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just kill me now, HAL. . . .

The Russians won't take this kind of crap like the Iraqis did at Abu Ghraib.

Think of it. You're a cosmonaut stuck for months and months in a single-wide in low earth orbit. There is no escape, unless you want to risk re-entering the Earth's atmosphere in that Soyuz escape capsule.

LIKE, "Is that one of the ones they fixed?"

So, pretty much, you're stuck.

And then. . . . And then. . . .
When you're on the International Space Station, you can't sit back and wait for tiny ballerinas, Hannah Montanas and Jokers to ring your doorbell on Halloween.

So what's a lonely astronaut to do?

Here's the answer to the homesick boos, from NASA and Omaha musician Chip Davis.

Davis and his group, Mannheim Steamroller, will have the astronauts on the station doing the "Monster Mash," snapping their fingers to "The Addams Family" theme and grooving to "Black Magic Woman" on Friday.

Music from one of the group's Halloween-themed albums will be beamed to the station.

"They're just shooting it up for something fun," Davis said Thursday. "That's a kick, isn't it?"

Astronauts on the space station spend weeks or months more than 200 miles from Earth, so NASA encourages them to unwind. Every morning, songs are broadcast to the station as a wakeup call. In 2005, former Beatle Paul McCartney performed at a live concert that was broadcast to the space station.

For Halloween, NASA selected Mannheim Steamroller's "Halloween 2." The group uses the synthesizer sound that gained fans for its wildly popular Christmas albums on songs associated with the ghostly holiday.
IF WHAT THE Omaha World-Herald reports is true -- and pray for the sake of avoiding nuclear war it isn't -- you might have some space travelers willing to risk re-entry without benefit of a space capsule. At least the end would be quick.

And without synthesizers.

McCain is shocked, shocked. . . .

Republicans: "But what about us?"

America: "We'll always have . . . no, never saw you before in my life."

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH where John McCain and Sarah Palin find themselves -- if the journalistic consensus is to be believed -- pretty much doomed to lose, perhaps badly, to a Democratic candidate who would have been pretty much unelectable a presidential election or two ago.

It's not that America has become much more liberal. It's that the GOP has messed things up that badly of late.

And now, McCain and Palin have been reduced to playing Captain Renault -- only not nearly so well as Claude Rains -- in the waning days of their allegedly doomed campaign. After all, when you have precious little to say for yourselves, what's a little hypocrisy to get in the way of slinging mud at Barack Obama, as pointedly noted by The Associated Press:

Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin accused the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday of protecting Barack Obama by withholding a videotape of the Democrat attending a 2003 party for a Palestinian-American professor and critic of Israel.

The paper said it had written about the event in April and would not release the tape because of a promise made to the source who provided it.

McCain and Palin called Rashid Khalidi a former spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a characterization that Khalidi has denied in the past. Both candidates said guests at the party made critical comments about Israel.


McCain also has ties to Khalidi through a group that Khalidi helped found 15 years ago. The Center for Palestine Research and Studies has received more than $800,000 from an organization that McCain chairs.

On Wednesday, McCain said 1960s radical Bill Ayers had attended the same party in 2003. McCain and Palin have criticized Obama for his ties to Ayers and questioned what the videotape of the party might show.

"Among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism rather than the victim," Palin said at a rally in Ohio. "What we don't know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he professes to support."

In a story published in April, the Times said Obama spoke out at the event on the need for common ground on the Israel-Palestinian issue. Obama has said during the campaign that his commitment to Israel's security is "nonnegotiable."

Losing at hangman

Click picture for video.

One month after Louisiana state Rep. John LaBruzzo (R-Third Reich) proposed paying welfare mothers to have their tubes tied. . . .

One year after the upheaval and protests in Jena . . . mostly about the evil symbolized by the hangman's noose. . . .

One generation -- almost -- after Louisiana narrowly turned back a neo-Nazi's gubernatorial bid.

ONE-HALF CENTURY after the first cracks appeared in the foundation of Jim Crow . . . we cease to be surprised that profound acts of hatefulness and bigotry still happen with some frequency in the Gret Stet -- my home state. In a land that never learns, it's not difficult to see why those of its children who have learned a thing or two keep heading for the exits.

This little story from WAFB television in Baton Rouge, I think, tells an important part of a much, much bigger story. The one about how sin -- especially "America's original sin" -- makes you stupid, and stupid makes you dead. In the fullness of time.

Especially if you're Louisiana,
which already has issues with stupid.

Reports Channel 9:

Trash talk over college football has led to the first arrest ever in East Baton Rouge parish under a new state law making it a crime to intimidate using a hangman's noose.

Reggie Drummer, an employee at the engineering firm of Louis J. Capozzoli in Baton Rouge, says he and another co-worker were "trash talking" last week about the upcoming LSU vs. Georgia football game.

"Another guy was bragging for LSU, and of course I was rooting for Georgia at the time," Drummer recalled. "It was just all friendly and trash talking."

Drummer says he was told that if Georgia won the game, he would have a surprise waiting for him Monday morning.

When Drummer arrived for work Monday, he says he found a hangman's noose.

"I noticed the noose on the ground. I asked him about it, they all laughed at me like it was a joke," Drummer said. Drummer then called police.

An East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy who responded to the call wrote in his report that employees at the business "witnessed the accused making the noose earlier in the morning."
YOU'D THINK people with average consciences would be appalled. Stunned. Angry at the redneck mouth-breathers who would pull such a nasty stunt and call it a "joke."

If you would, you don't know my home state. Here's the first comment out of the combox on the Channel 9 website:

This is a joke, right? I have a friend that just had to quit her job because the new owner is African American...she was being discriminated a BAD way! I am so sick of people going overboard on the race issue...get a life...get real...who cares??? We are discriminated against just as much, we just aren't allowed to complain about it!!!
AND HERE'S another one, which also ties into that "issues with stupid" thing:

I think that on the whole, white people in Baton Rouge are tired of reverse racism. I think that the noose arrest is rediculous. If this were a state other than a southern state, I have to wonder if we would even have this discusion.
WHY DO I feel a Randy Newman song coming on?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Barack the (almost) Lightworker

From YouTube:

Barack Obama risks lightning and thunder during his speech at Widener University in Chester PA. It was a rainy and cold morning but 9000 people still stuck around to listen to what he had to say in his "closing speech".

Media please credit: Chris Barrett & Xtian Bretz

TV outlets: To License the footage please contact chris(at)

Check out my book Direct Your Own Life ( ) and thanks for Xtian Bretz for noticing the strike ( )

TV OUTLETS: If you are so desperate for content that you will license totally unremarkable junk for real money during recessionary times, call me instead.

Really, all you have here is shaky footage of a presidential candidate without sense enough to come in out of a thunderstorm. Then again, if the fool had gotten lit up by a lightning bolt, it would have given a whole new meaning to "lightworker."

But he didn't. So . . . feh!

ANYWAY, if you need some real footage, the Mighty Favog and Revolution 21 stand ready to help!

For a low, low price, I am prepared to offer for immediate national release (network or cable) previously unseen video of Molly the Dog going "Woowoowooooooooooooooooo!" really cute with her beloved sock in her mouth.

Now, that's some good television.

From the country that put the 'K' in chaos

Makadem says vote for The One who will bring goodness and light to all nations.

Oyez, "Obama Be Thy Name."

Americans must listen to this sage musical entreaty.
Because Kenyans are all about choosing their presidents wisely.

'I won't go schizo, will I?'
'It's a distinct possibility.'

That wasn't oregano what Texicans been puttin' in their picante sauce.

And friends don't let friends make political ads while they're Texas toasted. Because at the bottom of that mine lies a big, big howler.

We are amused.

Brownies, anyone?

Monday, October 27, 2008

You know it don't come Big Easy

If one is of a mind to bear witness to an American city coming apart, bit-by-bit, amid the bitter fruit of great catastrophe, it might be instructive to bear witness to New Orleans' pre-eminent chronicler -- Times-Picayune features columnist Chris Rose.

EXHIBIT 1, from the Columbia Journalism Review:

For the next 4,000 words, Rose described a spiral familiar to many Katrina survivors: the “crying jags and fetal positionings,” the “thousand-yard stare,” the inability to hold conversations. “I’d noodle around on the piano, read weightless fiction, and reach for my kids, always, trying to hold them, touch them, kiss them. Tell them I was still here,” he wrote. “But I was disappearing fast.” Finally, Rose described how the anti-depressant drug Cymbalta helped clear away some of that darkness, enabling him to function again.
In few cities would such a personal account have received such prominent play—or elicited more than 6,000 e-mails. But Katrina has transformed how journalism is practiced at The Times-Picayune. It has blurred the lines between those who suffer and those who chronicle that suffering, and has challenged traditional notions of objectivity. And it has become a better newspaper in the process. Every reporter and editor was directly affected by Katrina, and the Picayune’s pages are suffused every day with outrage and betrayal—and with solid reporting. The paper has relentlessly investigated the Army Corps of Engineers, which built New Orleans’s faulty levees, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose response to the storm provoked such frustration and anger. It has sounded the alarm about Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands, which would render New Orleans even more vulnerable during the next hurricane. And it has sent reporters to Japan and the Netherlands to learn what makes successful flood-control systems work.

And the newspaper has bonded with its readers; the Picayune is an essential part of coffee-shop conversation all over the metropolitan area. At a time when dailies are wondering how to hold onto wandering readers, it has proven that a paper that claims a stake in its city’s survival, reporting with passion and voice, can remain an essential part of the civic conversation. “Other papers would kill to be that relevant,” says Harry Shearer, the actor and satirist and part-time New Orleanian.

No Picayune writer epitomizes this transformation more than the forty-seven-year-old Rose, whose journey through breakdown and redemption spurred a communal catharsis. “He bled for us in those columns,” says Linda Ellerbee, the former NBC anchor who covered Katrina’s aftermath for Nick News, a children’s broadcast. “He made it more real than any photo, any TV coverage could—more than Anderson Cooper crying on the air, more than Sean Penn going though the water in his boat. He let us into his dark places. In the old-fashioned, Biblical sense, he bore witness.”


In fact, for Rose, recovery was proving harder than just taking a pill. Feeling impatient, he started upping his dose of Cymbalta. Then he added painkillers to the mix. He began withdrawing again, and losing weight, until he weighed what he did in eighth grade. His columns became “unrunnable,” says O’Byrne, who spiked three in a short span of time. “They were just angry, rageful rants against life and the universe.”

Finally, last April, Rose’s wife Kelly arranged for an intervention. She and O’Byrne, along with three neighbors, confronted the columnist at his house and urged him to enter rehab. He didn’t need much persuasion. Not only did Rose understand he was in trouble, but he had an additional incentive: he had also recently learned that he was a bone-marrow match for his sister, who had leukemia. “I thought, ‘I’m gonna save Ellen’s life and then write a story that will blow people away,’” Rose says. “And I get to be the hero.” Rose went into rehab for thirty days, kicking both the painkillers and the antidepressants. But not in time to donate marrow to his sister, who died three months later.

There is no thousand-yard stare on Rose’s face now. He is as transparent in person as his columns are. One afternoon last October, he brought forty copies of 1 Dead in Attic, the best-selling compilation of his post-Katrina columns, to a meeting of the Ladies Leukemia League in suburban Kenner. After a spirited talk—Rose repeatedly mocked the country-club neighborhood where they were meeting—his friend Jacquee Carvin raised her hand. “Is there anything else that you can personally impart to the leukemia society?” she asked. Rose let out a sigh. “You put me on the spot there,” he said.

“Just watch me and you’ll get through it,” Carvin replied.

Rose’s eyes welled up. “My sister died of leukemia in August,” he said, his voice choking. “I was her bone-marrow match, but we never made it.” He told the women about his struggle with depression and slide into drug addiction. “I was killing myself real fast. When I found out I was a bone-marrow donor, I said, ‘I’ve got to fix myself.’ And I went to rehab. So what happened was, instead of saving my sister’s life, she saved mine.”

These days, Rose laughs hard and cries easily. His marriage has dissolved, but he is hanging on. “I’m a work-in-progress,” he says, sitting on his new front porch near Tulane University and watching his children race in and out of the house. “I got these little guys; I gotta take care of them.” And Rose is trying to figure out the next step for his journalism. He’s writing fewer internal monologues and more reported stores. He feels settled into New Orleans for the long haul.

AND NOW . . . EXHIBIT 2, from Sunday's newspaper:

Chris Rose, a columnist for The Times-Picayune, was arrested Friday night and booked in an alleged domestic violence incident.

Rose, 48, caused a disturbance and refused to leave the home of a former girlfriend, according to a New Orleans Police Department report filed in Municipal Court.

Police booked him with a municipal domestic violence charge and disturbing the peace. The police report said Rose refused to leave the woman's home but does not mention physical violence.

The incident took place at about 7:30 p.m. in the 7400 block of Pearl Street, the report says.

Rose allegedly became involved in a dispute with a 34-year-old woman, his former girlfriend, and another man. Responding officers wrote in their report that Rose had a "strong odor of alcohol and slurred speech."

After being booked, Rose posted a $2,800 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court on Monday morning, according to court records.

Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss declined to comment on the incident.

Reached Saturday afternoon by telephone, Rose said he "had the poor judgment to try to have a conversation" with the woman when it was clear she did not want to talk.

Rose said the woman's companion took offense and punched him in the mouth. Rose said he then left and was walking home when he was arrested.

NOBODY GETS out of this life unscarred. Nobody gets out of this life without screwing up big-time sometime.

These days, folks seem to be living that concept large in the City Formerly Known as Big Easy. Especially newspaper columnists of the sensitive type.

Ringo says:

It don't come easy,
You know it don't come easy.

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don't come easy.
YEP. God help us all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Calling Radio Free Omaha. Do you read me?

Mood: Sad. :.-(

I've just gotten back from a trip to 1968, and it has hit me exactly how dead radio is in America. Radio is dead in America because -- among other reasons -- nobody is going to ever again start a "progressive rock" radio station as a viable, commercial, over-the-air enterprise.

NOBODY IS going to do this, and then staff it 24 hours a day, seven days a week with live people who might know a little bit about what they were playing. Over the air. On free radio.

I'm sad because this is never going to happen again, and future generations will never understand the concept . . . or why "progressive rock" stations -- "underground" or "freeform," if you will -- gave so many in my generation such joy.

Well, for the short time they existed in any numbers, at least.

I try to do what I can with 3 Chords & the Truth in this new millennium, recording 90 minutes of freeform radio at a time for download on the Internets. It's good. But it's not the same.

Only old farts like me will know why that is.

ANYWAY, at least I can take you, for a brief moment, back to Nov. 5, 1968, with me. There, you can read along in the Gateway, the student newspaper at the newly minted University of Nebraska at Omaha (the former Omaha University), as a fledgling journalist tries to explain this exciting, new "progressive radio" thing to the young people of the great Midwest.

This is the story of KOWH-FM -- Radio Free Omaha:

Progressive rock music, which over a year ego started as a fluke, has now blossomed into a format at the Omaha FM radio station, "Radio Free Omaha."

This station replaced KOWH-FM.

It first went on the air Sep. 16, and plans on expanding its program to a 24-hour basis. As of now, air time is 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Currently the station has three disc jockeys. From 2 to 7 p.m.. Harold Lee Roberts leads the way with John Mainelli taking over from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. On weekends the station is disc jockeyed by Kevin Clark.

Progressive program music started over a year ago by Tom Donahue. Donahue, who has sometimes been called 'The voice of Hippie' set the format at radio station KSAN-FM in San Francisco. He is currently operations manager at KSAN.

“Radio Free Omaha” was founded by Program and Music Director, Tom Rambler. The station is located at 94.1 megacycles on the FM dial.

As pointed out by him, the advantage of FM over AM stations is is that it gives full sound stereo and is interference-free. Whereas AM stations lack these qualities.

Rambler said, "This type of radio broadcasting is going to replace AM radio." He continued, "The AM radio announcers and commercial aspects are not the same nowadays."


Rambler said, "The key to the success of the progressive rock format is 'loose' . . . be free to experiment with sound ideas. Music will be the only reason for a listener to 'tune in.'

The announcer will be there to take the listener from one experience to another, in an easy going, mature manner. The announcer should he free to bring new ideas to his listener.

Progressive rock stations are so new that nobody knows, yet, what is what, except the theory that has been formed on the music. Progressive rock music means anything new and exciting . . . rock, country, jazz, classical, blues, R&B, every form of music."

Generally this music cannot be played on AM radio.

The music played from 1 a.m. to 2 p.m. is called guru. A guru is a guide who guides you from one music to another. This music takes on all forms. It is anything non-commercial.


He said, "Our main support is from the coast. Especially from the 'head shops' and certain Hippie-oriented businesses."

He exuberantly exclaimed, "We're even growing faster than it is on the coast."

Just what type of music does this progressive rock movement air? It covers all areas of music. Some examples are: the Canned Heat, the Steppenwolf, the Wizard of Oz, the Hassels, the Bohemian Vendetta, the Spirit, and the Jiini Hendrix Experience, with many others.

FM stations carrying progressive rock music are: KGRD-FM, Las Cruses, N.M.; KCBH-FM, L.A.; WAVA-FM, Wash.; and many others.

The most elaborating sight is that progressive rock formats are turning many "dead weight" FM facilities into dynamic audience-grabbing radio stations with the potential for making money.

ALAS, Tom Donahue is long dead in San Francisco and, in Omaha, so is KOWH-FM.

And not many people are making money in radio anymore.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Methinks Biden doth protest to excess

OK, I think this Florida anchorwoman is just a little over the top in her questioning of Sen. Joe Biden, Barack Obama's running mate this presidential silly season.

Obviously, the Obama-Biden campaign thought so, too. Angry over "hostile" questioning, the men who aspire to global leadership knocked over the checkerboard and told the Orlando television station they weren't going to play anymore. Ever.

Nanny nanny boo boo to you . . . you meanies!

I THINK Barbara West went into the interview loaded for bear and looking to turn a political hide into a new rug for her Grizzly Adams cabin somewhere in the Everglades. Two problems with that, though.

One, it looked a little like someone had been slipping estrogen into Ted Baxter's coffee cup.

Two, it looked a little like someone had been slipping estrogen into Ted Baxter's coffee cup.

OK . . . three things wrong with Theodora Baxter's interview with Joe Biden.

One, it looked a little like someone had been slipping estrogen into Ted Baxter's coffee cup.

Two, it looked a little like someone had been slipping estrogen into Ted Baxter's coffee cup.

Three, you can't get top dollar for the pelts of pols with hair plugs. Hey, it's a tough market these days.

OTHER THAN THAT, there wasn't a thing wrong with Baxter's West's interview with Biden for
WFTV. It was great television.

Her earlier softball interview with GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, on the other hand, sucked. It was dull. It broke no new ground. It was insipid, and it neither forced the senator from Arizona to stretch intellectually nor defend his positions.


But everything that was horribly wrong about West's interview with McCain was pretty right with her Biden interview. Yah, you betcha West was Ted Baxter in drag for both interviews, but at least her hostile goofy questions of Biden totally took the self-assured senator by surprise and knocked him off balance.

He had to engage the issues . . . even if the issues might have seemed like they were straight out of
"if Fox News had bought WJM from Wild Jack Monroe."

Engaging the issues. Intelligently defending one's political positions. Gee, isn't that why we pay career pols like Barack Obama and Joe Biden the big bucks, anyway?

I DID MENTION that Obama and Biden seek to lead the United States of America, right?

Geez, if Joe Biden can't handle an unintentionally comical Florida anchorwoman, and Barack Obama's response is to yell "No fair!" and run home, what's their game plan for the Great Enemy Nations Acid Test the Delaware senator's been warning us about?

Vladimir Putin -- for one -- may be many things, but Ted Baxter he is not. And picking up your marbles and going home is not an option when you're playing with the Big Boys.

3 Chords & the Truth: Life on Mars

My new favorite TV show -- and trust me, there are few that I actually even bother with -- is ABC's "Life on Mars."

Being a sucker for both time-travel yarns and cop shows, this tale of a cop catapulted back to 1973 New York City had me at "Peace, man." Or, at least, when the first 8-track was slammed into the car stereo.

Trust me, this has everything to do with this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

ANYHOO. . . I remember 1973, though not 1973 New York City. But as far as I can remember, "Life on Mars" has gotten it right . . . although, in the name of full disclosure, 1973 didn't reach Baton Rouge, La., until about 1976.

The show has gotten me to thinking, though. What would I do if I found myself, without warning, back in 1973? What would I have to say to my seventh-grade self if I happened to run across me?

Apart, of course, from "Avoid polyester and wide, wide neckties" and "You look crappy in paisley shirts."

If I had the power to change things in 1973 -- knowing how stuff would work out, big picture, by 2008 -- what would I do? How would I manage to change the things that needed changing while preserving the things society would come to rue losing?

How do you convince people what looks like progress and freedom will come back to bite them -- or, more likely, their children -- hard in the metaphysical tush. Right now, I'm thinking of a whole high-school student body near St. Louis that's undergoing AIDS testing.

How'd we get from 1973 to that? Why would we have wanted to open up that Pandora's Box?

Well, the short answer is . . . we didn't. Who knew the "squares" might be right about a thing or two? Who knew there were worse things out there than what could be cured with a shot of penicillin? Who knew how easily we could blow up the nuclear family?

I'm not being facetious. Who knew?

No one anybody was listening to, that's for certain.

I CAN'T CONVEY, not really, how fascinating a concept time travel is to me. Especially back to a time I remember well. The protagonist of "Life on Mars," Detective Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara) was four in 1973. Something tells me part of the point of his mysterious time travel will be a profound journey of self-discovery.

I was 12 in 1973. I wonder what I would discover about myself -- and the world in which I grew up -- if I could again see those times . . . and my early-'70s self. This time through adult eyes.

To hell with the rest of society -- what would I change about me? About my interactions with my 1973 family and my 1973 friends and my 1973 world?

And would the revised and "improved" me still have what I hold most dear in 2008? That is, once I got there again.

I'm getting confused now.

OBVIOUSLY, if I had tried to deal with all this in detail during this week's episode of the Big Show, there wouldn't have been much time for all of the cool late-'60s and early '70s music we're playing this week. And that's the point of the show this go 'round -- "reelin' in the years" with some really fine music from Way Back When.

When our "Life on Mars" wasn't "Life on Mars," but instead just the way things were. And, all in all, it was all right.

So, let's go back to Mars this week on 3 Chords & the Truth.

Be there. Aloha.

Friday, October 24, 2008

GOP TV: Merely wires and excrement in a box

This is what it looks like when you turn political slimeballs loose in a video-editing suite.

With its boy in danger of going down in flames in 11 days, the National Republican Congressional Committee is hoping a little GOP firepower -- as in opening the gates of hell with this television commercial -- will save Rep. Lee Terry (or Terry Lee, as he's known to Dick Cheney) in Nebraska's 2nd District.

THE NEWS PEG for Screwtape at play in the editing bay is Democratic challenger Jim Esch's drunken-driving arrest seven years ago. Have you screwed up really bad -- somehow -- in the last decade?

Bet you have.

Do you want your mistakes -- every one of them -- to be held against you for the rest of your life? Especially if you've managed not to repeat them, like Esch, who has had no other DUI arrests?

Is a world without redemption and devoid of new beginnings a world you care to inhabit? Is justice without mercy -- or, indeed, the concept of a debt to society paid in full -- really justice at all?

The Republican ad on behalf of Lee Terry tells me nothing about Jim Esch.

It tells me all I need to know about Terry.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh, Lord, giveth unto us Mussolini. Not Hitler.

I'm starting to get rather offended by all this election praying.

I'M ALSO GETTING concerned that all the Catholic instigators of all the election praying allow -- either willingly or ignorantly -- good people to assume they must pray for the triumph of McCain-Palin over Obama-Biden. What good is that?

As I've said before, been there and done that. We ended up with George W. Bush, who has managed to lead the nation into a disastrous and unjust war, as well as authorize both official torture of war prisoners and limited federal funding of legalized cannibalism -- also known as embryonic stem-cell research.

This is what we Catholics prayed for -- and got -- in 2000 . . . all in the name of "life."

Anyway, this is the latest from the Rev. John Corapi, a noted Catholic evangelist:

No other issue, not all other issues taken together, can constitute a proportionate reason for voting for candidates that intend to preserve and defend this holocaust of innocent human life that is abortion.

I strongly urge every one of you to make a Novena and pray the Rosary to Our Lady of Victory between October 27th and Election Day, November 4th. Pray that God’s will be done and the most innocent and utterly vulnerable of our brothers and sisters will be protected from this barbaric and grossly sinful blight on society that is abortion. No woman, and no man, has the right to choose to murder an innocent human being.
I SUPPORT FATHER CORAPI in his call for prayer. I adamantly oppose what it seems he'd have the Almighty pull off in regards to the presidential election. When it comes to casting a vote for the protection and dignity of human life, voting for John McCain over Barack Obama is like picking one method of suicide over another.

What, are we to vote for Mussolini to save ourselves from Hitler? Are we supposed to convince ourselves that ordering one scoop of degradation and death is virtuous but two scoops is the Antichrist Special?

Me, I'd just as soon pray for wisdom, revival and mercy. And for the poor unborn babies who may or may not get slaughtered in the womb. Or worse.

WHAT I REALLY WANT, though, is for the Catholic Church to act like the Catholic Church. I want bishops to be holy and act like shepherds.

I want priests to man up.

I really would rather not, as I leave Mass, be given "voter guides" that are no more than George Soros-funded apologetics for the abomination of desolation.

I just want my church to act like what it says it is. If it had been doing such for the last 50 years, perhaps I wouldn't feel like we're cultural, moral and spiritual paralytics sprawled in the roadside ditch of history.

And, finally, I no longer want to have that sick, sinking feeling that -- at this perilous time in my country's history -- the best advice I'll get from the most orthodox voices in my paralytic church is "Vote for Mussolini. It's important."

Signs of the times

From the Omaha World-Herald, more news of awful parents throwing away their children . . . one way or another:
An Omaha teenager has been put in foster care after trying to turn herself in under the state's safe haven law.

Nebraska's safe haven law protects people from being prosecuted for leaving a child at a hospital, but a parent or guardian didn't leave the child in this case.

Also, a 17-year-old boy was dropped off Wednesday, becoming the 20th youth taken in under the safe haven law.

In the teenage girl's case, according to an affidavit by a hospital social worker that was filed in Douglas County Juvenile Court:

The 16-year-old girl went Friday to Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha to "enact the safe haven law on behalf of herself."

The teen said she had been kicked out of her mother's house the previous night.

She said her mother had pushed and hit her before grabbing her by the hair, pushing her out the door and telling her to "get the hell out of my house."

The teen said her mother has been taking welfare checks and vouchers intended for the teen's 10-month-old son and has refused to buy her necessary items, such as tampons. Two of the teen's aunts have been giving her money for baby supplies and food.

The teen said her mother also had been emotionally abusive, telling the teen she looked like a prostitute and making other demeaning remarks.

The teen and her baby were placed in foster care.
AND FROM THE HILL, it could be an interesting election night. In the Chinese-curse sense of "interesting":
Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.

Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.

Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand officers wanting to keep the peace, but caution that excessive police presence could intimidate voters.

Sen. Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has seen his lead over rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grow in recent weeks, prompting speculation that there could be a violent backlash if he loses unexpectedly.

Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed.

In Oakland, the police will deploy extra units trained in riot control, as well as extra traffic police, and even put SWAT teams on standby.

“Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland Police Department.

“I think it is a big deal — you got an African-American running and [a] woman running,” he added, in reference to Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. “Whoever wins it, it will be a national event. We will have more officers on the street in anticipation that things may go south.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pray for war and ruin; it's important?

Bishop Robert W. Finn, ordinary of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph in Missouri, wants his flock praying about the coming election.

THIS IS EXACTLY the kind of thing I was talking about in the last post. From the bishop's letter, published on the blog of the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key:

Our Catholic moral principles teach that a candidate’s promise of economic prosperity is insufficient to justify their constant support of abortion laws, including partial-birth abortion, and infanticide for born-alive infants. Promotion of the Freedom of Choice Act is a pledge to eliminate every single limit on abortions achieved over the last thirty-five years. The real freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ compels us, not to take life, but to defend it.

Together with the other Bishops of Missouri I am calling on all the faithful to make this last week before the election a week of prayer for our nation - a week of prayer for the protection of Human Life.

Join me in calling upon Mary in this month of the rosary. In 1571, in the midst of the Battle of Lepanto, when the future of Christian Europe was in the balance and the odds against them were overwhelming, prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary brought the decisive victory. We ask her now to watch over our country and bring us the victory of life.
I REMEMBER doing just that in 2000 -- EWTN interrupted regular programming to pray in just that manner as the Supreme Court considered Bush v. Gore. And look what's become of us.

Look. What's. Become. Of. Us.

Late-term abortion, in some cases, has been restricted minimally. But embryonic stem-cell research has not. It now occurs with limited federal funding.

We now have government-sanctioned torture of "enemy combatants."

We have a government that spies on its own citizens.

We are fighting two wars -- one patently unjust, as it turns out -- with no end in sight for either.

And do I really need to mention the economy . . . and how it got that way?

I USE EWTN 2000 as a prime illustration of "Watch out what you pray for . . . you might get it."

Back in 2000, in some manner, I think we were trying to somehow stave off divine judgment -- "Elect the 'pro-life' creep! It's important." In my opinion, it looks like judgment is exactly what we got for all our calamity avoidance, and are getting still.

That goes in spades for the Catholic Church.

The implication of Bishop Finn's prayer -- amid any number of episcopal statements just like it -- is clear: "Oh, Lord, please grant unlikely victory to thy avatar of Life, John McCain."

If that's the case, it's just a load of bull. Been there, done that, and I'm not going there again.

IN CASE you haven't noticed, "life" is hosed either way in this election. "Life" is going to have to rely on means other than politics to triumph in this sick land.

John McCain is not the solution to the problem represented by Barack Obama and what he represents. I'll vote for neither, and the Church ought not be praying for the triumph of one of these fools over the other.

I would suggest, instead,
"Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

The real problem we face lies right in front of American Catholics, and it ripples through everything. It's this: The moral authority of American bishops rests at about zero, and the Church they lead is getting there.

Why might that be?

What Bishop Finn and all Catholics need to understand is that the chickens are starting to come home to roost. One sign of that is the bishop demanding that all Catholics pray for something fully half of Catholics no longer believe.

Why is that? Huh?

Just wondering. Is what I'm doing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We believe in one BRAAAAAAW! . . .

It's a fact of life that when a self-important fool -- or a ship of fools, either real or perceived -- strenuously proclaims objective, countercultural truth, your "Average Joe" is likely to regard that objective truth as just more mush from the simp.

If American Catholics were to make a contemporary film about this phenomenon, we'd have to call it The Bishop's Life.

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH where the Catholic Church finds itself a couple of weeks before the 2008 presidential election, as Catholics (and everybody else) studiously ignore prelates' admonitions against voting for candidates who support intrinsic evil -- in other words, abortion rights -- without equally grave counterbalancing reason. Of course, it doesn't help that the candidate one might logically assume gets the bishes' blessing has his own "intrinsic evil" demerits and belongs to a political party which long has played pro-lifers for suckers.

Not that your average Catholic has much more than a 50-50 chance of actually being pro-life -- a fact that, in large part, may be traced back to the plot line of our mythical film.

And the plot line to our mythical film -- The Bishop's Life -- has everything to do with how (and why) American bishops will be playing host to all kinds of chickens coming home to roost. Which, of course, goes back to American bishops' complete loss of moral authority during the past half century. The last of it disappeared around 2002 in the clerical sex-abuse scandals, when the prelates who seek to tell you that voting for pro-abortion politicians is, depending on your motivation, either "formal cooperation" or "remote material cooperation" in evil were exposed as "formal" or "remote material" hypocrites.

Objectively, why should "Joe the Catholic" listen to a damn thing His Excellency has to say about, well . . . anything amid the ruins of a church where pulpit appeals for the diocesan annual appeal far outnumber any appeals for Catholics to uphold the sanctity of human life?

WHY SHOULD any of us give a damn what says this bench of bloated, bleating bishops when, as one invokes the fires of hell against pro-choice pols and the Catholics who love them, another dithers as parish staffs in his diocese stuff parish bulletins with "Catholic voter guides" produced by the George Soros-funded umbrella group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, or at least groups affiliated with it?

It's just like what happens to your PC when you load it up with poorly written programs -- garbage in, garbage out.

Sunday evening, I found some garbage stuffed into my church bulletin. Produced by the NETWORK Education Program, a voter chart expanded upon every wonderful thing Barack Obama promises about ending the Iraq War, expanding health services and paid sick-child leave, but had this to say about the Democrat's position on abortion:
Opposes an abortion ban.
IN CONSIDERING John McCain -- and note, please, that I can abide neither John McCain nor his sleazy campaign -- here's the NETWORK party line:
Supports an abortion ban with exceptions in cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother's life. In 2005, voted against expanding health services and education to reduce unintended pregnancy. Will seek ways to promote adoption as a first alternative to abortion.
AFTER LOOKING at this disingenuous piece of goo -- a disingenuous piece of goo with catchphrases like "conscientious Catholics" and "consistent ethic of life" all over it -- I told my Republican wife that I, as an old-fashioned liberal Democrat, was offended. Liberal Democrats used to be a lot of things, but smarmy, devious and disingenuous were not among them.

A "religious" organization that takes money from George Soros (who also funds the pro-abortion, heterodox likes of Catholics for a Free Choice) has no moral right to even utter words such as "conscientious" or "consistent ethic of life." A parish bureaucracy that tries to put an imprimatur on partisan propaganda needs a clear message from the local bishop: Get your heads out of your ass, or find new jobs at Democratic headquarters.

Like THAT will happen. A blind eye can be turned upon any sort of heterodoxy, political shilling or liturgical abuse, it seems, so long as the annual appeal gets pushed hard enough from the pulpit.

After all, at least in Omaha, Feed My Sheep = Pimp My House. Maybe, though, this year's appeal can help add lots of coop space to the chancery and Archbishop Elden Curtiss' pending retirement digs. Maybe all the annual appeals across all of America's dioceses can be tapped to build hundreds . . . thousands . . . millions of coops on church properties all across the land.

All the better to house all those chickens coming home to roost.

ALL THOSE CHICKENS started their long journey when bishops forgot who they were and why they were here. When prelates forgot what they believed and why they should proclaim it, teach it . . . and live it.

Catholics' fowl journey got under way well and good when their leaders lost their faith and proclaimed themselves ever closer to a therapeutic deity. It gained fellow travelers when church bureaucrats decided it might be more "enlightened" to teach children crap and call it catechism.

Er . . . religious education.

Chickens are coming home to roost in a church where Catholics figure they not only don't have to believe any of that mess but don't have to pretend they do, either. In chanceries where, for too long, fat wallets have been equated with a healthy church. And where, for much too long, there has been an unwritten 11th commandment: Do as I say, not as I do.

Chickens are coming home to roost, boys. They will know their shepherds by the chickens*** on the chasubles.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And Bill Clinton really didn't inhale

Irony, ironically, is lost on Ironyland.

The chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln swears up and down to the Omaha World-Herald that it wasn't political pressure -- nuh uh . . . noooooooooo -- that caused his school to withdraw a lecture invitation to America's Own Domestic Terrorist (TM).

NO . . . uhhhhh, it was the threat posed by domestic terrorists. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Bill Ayers couldn't speak because there was a credible threat that domestic Republican terrorists -- their blood up from feasting on all that red meat dished out by John McCain and Sarah Palin -- would kill the erstwhile domestic hippie terrorist, and maybe any number of well-scrubbed American youth who might be listening to his terroristic lecture at the time.

That's what we're to believe -- that Ayers was in mortal danger, and UNL police, Lincoln police and Nebraska state troopers couldn't be counted on to protect an aging ex-hippie bomber-turned-education professor from some pissed-off good ol' boys with murder in their hearts.

AND REALLY . . . if this is the case, oughtn't the state be pursuing incitement charges of some sort against John McCain and Sarah Palin? Would "domestic terrorist" be considered "fighting words"?

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman said this morning that he did not fold under pressure from the governor or other state officials when canceling William Ayers' speech last week.

He also defended the university's decision to invite Ayers, a 1960's radical-turned-educator, to speak on campus next month before education students.

"Let me be clear: I believe that the invitation to Professor Ayers was appropriate," Perlman said at a press conference. "He is an expert in his field and during the time in February when the invitation was extended, he was not the central figure of a presidential debate."

This morning marked the first time Perlman spoke publicly about the Ayers' flap.

Perlman, who was in China last week, said the university's "threat assessment" group called him Thursday night, after the speech was announced, and spoke of several phone and e-mail threats made to UNL regarding Ayers.

Two professors, including one who is an expert on security and threat assessment, sit on the team. Perlman said the team also consulted with campus police and City of Lincoln police Thursday night.

The chancellor said he was concerned about the safety of Ayers as well as students who may interact with him, and canceled the Nov. 15 speech. Perlman said the university did not announce the cancellation until late Friday because Ayers, who was in Taiwan, needed to be contacted.

Perlman said the Board of Regents and University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken did not order him to rescind Ayers' invitation to speak.

"If I would have received such an order, I would have resigned," he said.
AMERICA: You can't make this s*** up.

It's OK to look like hell now

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Up on a roof

Here's a fun little YouTube find . . . The Skyliners, up on a roof, in Pittsburgh, at WTAE television in 1960. Is it just me, or was TV more fun back then?

3 Chords & the Truth: Those oldies but goodies

Those oldies but goodies remind me . . . that we used to be a much different people.

Worse in some ways. Better in others. And our hypocrisy -- the hypocrisy we're supposed to be happy we've "grown" out of in these postmodern days -- at least paid a backhanded compliment to truth . . . and goodness.

IT'S AN INTERESTING THING to ponder who we were as we try to figure out who we are now. In a way, that's what we're doing this week on 3 Chords & the Truth.

I don't much like who we seem to be now. We seem to be angrier, quicker to take offense at more and more things. We're more cynical, and we're more casually violent.

Our culture is more casually violent. More blithely materialistic. More shallow. More loud. More . . . more.

We pay more attention to people on the other end of a text message than we do to the people in front of us. Our political campaigns are angry and patronizing. Folks at rallies are crying out for blood . . . and not of the figurative variety.

ON SOME LEVEL, I think I just want to escape. I'd like to flee back to a romanticized version of the past, cleansed of most of the stifling conformity and real ugliness that existed during the "Happy Days."

Well, I can't do that, and neither can you. It sucks to be us.

But we still need a psychological "time out." We need to bask, for a time, in the better angels of our nature . . . and of our culture.

I guess that what the Big Show is about this go 'round. It's a "sanity sick day" of the radio world.

OK, let's do it. Let's bask in the past . . . revel in some fine R&B and doo-wop.

Let's see if those oldies but goodies remind us of us -- at least the better parts of us. Or something.

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

Friday, October 17, 2008

Music world cries Levi Stubbs' Tears

Bad news, sad news coming to your doorstep, as reported by USA TODAY:

Levi Stubbs, whose distinctive, rough-hewn voice and pleading vocal style elevated the Four Tops' soul classics to masterpieces, died today at his Detroit home. He was 72.

The Michigan native had been in ill health since being diagnosed with cancer in 1995. A stroke and other health problems led him to stop touring in 2000.

Stubbs was born in Detroit and grew up with the future Tops in the city's North End. Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir sang together in a group while attending Pershing High School, while Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton attended Detroit's Northern High.

The group was formed after the four began harmonizing at a birthday party in 1954. They began practicing the next day and soon began calling themselves the Four Aims, performing mostly jazz standards.

Later that year, the Aims had their first gig, $300 for a week of shows at Eddie's Lounge in Flint. They also performed regularly with Stubbs' cousin, Jackie Wilson.


Howard Kramer, curatorial director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted the group in 1990, said the Tops were a polished group by the time Motown came calling. "The Four Tops were seasoned; they had a better world view than kids right out of high school," he told The Detroit News in 2004.

"They also had one lead singer, which gave them more of a distinguishable identity. Levi Stubbs was the first church-based soul shouter and pure singer. James Brown could shout, but Levi was a singer as well. He could invoke so much passion and longing in a voice; he is incredibly expressive."

"Well, I'm rather loud and raw," Stubbs told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. "I don't really even have a style; I just come by the way I sing naturally. When I learn a song, I try to live it as best I can."
I THINK I'll just leave you with this from Billy Bragg -- his 1991 video of "Levi Stubbs' Tears."

Has anybody here seen my old friend Dion?

Dion and the Belmonts. Dick Clark. American Bandstand. Black-and-white television.

Doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who. Gives. A. S***?

America is reeling during these last 100 days of the reign of King George the Decider.

King George does not rule over a happy land; he rules over a troubled land, an anxious land.
Bad King George reigns over a kingdom growing poorer, it seems, by the minute.

AMERICANS NOW are in the midst of a momentous campaign to see who will succeed the monarch who has brought endless war to his kingdom and given torturers free reign over his dungeon. Whomever we pick to rule this uncertain principality will face hard times and mighty challenges.

He will become chief executive of a land no longer respected in lands far across the sea, for its robber barons have brought financial ruin to their shores.

At this perilous hour, what crucial word doth thou bringest unto us, o town crier?

And sayeth the crier, MSNBC:
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Joe the Plumber, America's most famous tradesman, said Thursday he doesn't have a license and doesn't need one.

Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday's presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn't need a license, he said.

His boss, Al Newell of Newell Plumbing and Heating Co. of Toledo, is a licensed plumbing contractor in Toledo, records show. But anyone working under Newell should have a journeyman’s plumbing license or an apprenticeship license, officials said.

And the county Wurzelbacher and Newell live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses, but neither is licensed there, said Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations, which handles plumber licenses in parts of the county outside Toledo.

Wurzelbacher, who voted in the Republican primary and indicated he backed McCain, was cited by the GOP presidential candidate as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Democrat Barack Obama's tax plans. Wurzelbacher said he was surprised that his name was mentioned so many other times.

"That bothered me. I wished that they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans," he told reporters gathered outside his home.

Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn't have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.

He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he's worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.

"There's a lot I've got to learn," he said.
YEAH, LIKE WE'RE no longer a serious people, informed by a serious press and, therefore, are screwed. Oh, so screwed.