Thursday, April 7, 2005

Der Rush

You deserve a break, so go enjoy a little light animated humor starring Rush Oxylimbaugh. Courtesy of A Mockingbird's Medley.

Lost Civil Liberties Mug

The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild (like, I can totally relate!) has a coffee mug:
Pour in a hot beverage and watch your civil liberties disappear! Mug features the complete text of the Bill of Rights, but pour in a hot beverage and see what remains thanks to the Patriot Act!

Check it out.

Drop the Hammer

There's a website called Drop the Hammer that is dedicated to getting corporate backers of Bugs DeLay to perform the titular act. There are links to many of the unethical things that scumbag has done, at least the ones that have oozed out from under the rocks. Many links. Go see. It's a little more polite than my idea of "dropping" DeLay.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Spare Change, Mister?

From Wolcott:
While I'm chugging to the finish line of a column, I want to pause and alert members of the enlightment that Steve Gilliard is holding a fund drive this week to raise money toward the purchase and construction of a souped-up desktop computer. Why should I help Steve Gilliard buy a desktop? I can hear some cheapskates asking. Because his blog blows more Swiss cheese holes through b.s. than almost any other blog on the internet, and Steve Gilliard posting from a desktop is a Gilliard as fully weaponized as Woody Guthrie with "This machine kills fascists" stenciled on his guitar.
I dropped all my change into my 'puter, but instead of an e-mail acknowledgment, all I got was some smoke, sparks, and a strange smell. You try it.

Widespread Panic

Relax. I'm referring to the band Widespread Panic. I ran across 'em while skiddin' the net and thought I'd share a story with you.

A few years ago**, these guys played at Truckee Regional Park which is a very nice park with a reasonably natural amphitheater* right on the bank of the Truckee River. There's a lot of music there in Spring and Summer, starting after the snow melts. Duh.

I had a gig that evening as Ticket Security. WP's fans were youthful and energetic, as well as cheap, so it kept this old hide a-hoppin'.

After the concert, the band called for help loading up. The amphitheater is located in such a way that they couldn't drive their big rig right up to it; instead, they had to offload tons o' equipment onto a smaller truck to get it to the stage. They wanted help going the other way, and a bunch of us locals volunteered. Two crews, one at the stage and one at the big rig. Their fans are youngsters, but there wasn't a guy in the loading crew under forty.

The road manager was an Israeli, and in between giving directions, while we were waiting for the truck to come back, he was quite a character with the views of a jaded world traveller. The band members were long gone of course.

This deal took from about 11pm, when all the concerts shut down because the park is near residential neighborhoods (I can hear them from my house), to almost 2am. They gave us a band T-shirt for our labors. We bitched about that, so they coughed up a $20 bill each as well. To their everlasting credit, they also kicked down some beer and all the weed we could smoke while we worked, which may have slowed things down a little bit. Ya think?

So, there I am, 3 hours late and stoned to the gills, trying to explain to Mrs. G why I'm home so late from a Security gig that was three blocks from home. It took me a while, but I'm sure the absence of the stink of cheap perfume kept me alive long enough. Ah, memories.

*Go to this site to see a graphic depiction of life in snow country when there's no snow!
**Time flies, don't it?

Right-wing Radio

I have my own ideas of what I like to listen to on the radio. My tastes are eclectic to the point of being downright subversive. I like NPR, but I particulary like low-power community radio stations like KVMR (Nevada City CA) and KNBA (Anchorage AK - thanks, Morrigan). You can listen to them on your computer while dispensing words of wisdom and rage. These generally low-key and perpetually under-funded outfits are, like nearly everything else these days, under assault from the Big Money Retardiligious Right. From Sarah Posner, via AlterNet. She is also a contributor to The Gadflyer.
The story of low-power radio is a cautionary tale on how a progressive victory can quickly be turned to conservative gain. Thanks to Rupert Murdoch, Clear Channel, and Sinclair Broadcasting, the right wing has long dominated corporate media. Now religious broadcasters are busy pushing community radio right off the FM dial.

For years, media reform activists have fought valiantly to force the FCC to issue licenses for low power radio stations. Their dream: to create a space on the radio dial for true locally produced community programming, untainted by the profit considerations of large media conglomerates. Low power radio would finally give voice to those who needed it most: people of color, low-income communities, local organizations.

Five years after their victory, community radio has become the bastion of Christian programming. LPFM is being squeezed off the radio dial by religious broadcasters who are gobbling up FM frequencies at an astonishing speed. Their weapon of choice: low power translators.

Translators, which range in power from 10 to 250 watts, were created by the FCC to help boost signals of existing stations in areas where the terrain can hamper their signals. Christian broadcasters use these translators to transmit programs from their bigger full-power stations. Unlike commercial stations which can only have a translator within the receivable range of the full-power "parent" station non-commercial groups such as religious broadcasters can place their translators at any distance and feed them via satellite or other means. As a result, one full-power station can be used to broadcast programming across a number of states, vastly extending its reach, especially in rural areas. And the more translators take up low power frequencies in a community, the less room for local radio stations on the FM dial. More importantly, Christian radio networks can gain access to small communities without having to produce any local programming -- since the FCC forbids translator stations from airing such programming.

The end result: community radio is literally being crowded off the radio by religious broadcasters.

This sprawling radio network has become a powerful means to disseminate the reactionary ideological agenda of the evangelical right and its leading organizations.

The absence of alternative views on the FM dial in remote communities makes this kind of ideological programming doubly effective, and the absence of alternative local programming all the more dangerous.

Despite these concerns, the FCC has done little to check the expansion of religious broadcasters or investigate its effects on community radio. While it did institute a freeze on granting additional construction permits for translators, it was prompted by allegations of fraud leveled against two companies with ties to Calvary Chapel, which are accused of applying for 4,200 translator permits for the sole purpose of selling them to other religious broadcasters (Trafficking in translator licenses is illegal.).

Yeah, like that bothers 'em. They have friends in high places. I don't know about you, well, that's a lie, of couse I do, but I'm getting damn, no, make that goddamn, sick and fucking tired of the christo-fascist bullshit being shoved at me even though I wouldn't be caught dead listening to any of it. What bothers me is that God, Inc. is threatening to displace good alternative music and viewpoints and replace them with the corporate don't-listen-to-the-voice-of-reason, we-know-what's-best-for-you-so-shut-up-and-do-what-we-tell-you, or-we'll-kill-you crap that's ruining America.

[I did a little editing. All those intact hyphens were fucking with the HTML-F-man]

Hightower on the SSI Swindle

Jim Hightower is a journalist from Texas. He bills himself as "America's No. 1 Populist" and I think he's at least in the top ten. He was the only liberal/progressive/lefty/realist radio commentator for a long time. Since he was usually squeezed in between hardly-ever-right-wing morons like Rush Oxylimbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why he's not still on the air.

Here's his article in AlterNet about the Social Security swindle. I think he sums the whole attempted robbery up quite nicely. Read.
When George W. says he's going to "fix" our Social Security system, I feel like a dog that's just been told, "We're taking you to the vet to get you fixed."

Next came the political road map, again from a little noticed document prepared under the auspices of Cato. Written in 1983 (my emphasis), it laid out a five-point strategy for creating a political environment that would give privatization a chance:

Maintain constant criticism of Social Security to influence the media and to undermine public confidence in the soundness of the program;

Build a network of influential supporters of private accounts, including Wall Street brokers who would profit from them;

Divide and conquer the opposition by assuring retirees and those nearing retirement that their benefits would be fully paid;

Enact laws creating 401(k)s and other private accounts so people learn to accept them; and

Have a privatization plan waiting in the wings when a president came along who was willing to claim that Social Security's trust fund faces a shortfall.

Cato's planners called for protracted "guerrilla warfare" against the system and its supporters. "We must be prepared for a long campaign," the Cato document declared. "It could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible." Then, amazingly, it cited a Communist as a political guru: "As Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform."

Looks like they found their fool, huh?
Alliance for Worker Retirement Security (AWRS): Beware of any advocacy group that has "worker" in its name ... but no workers in its group. This outfit, created by the National Association of Manufacturers in 1998 solely to lobby for privatizing the public retirement system, has about 40 members, including the American Bankers Association, Business Roundtable (the CEOs of America's 200 largest corporations), Paine Webber, Charles Schwab, Securities Industry Association (Wall Street's official lobbying group), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Wachovia Bank.

Surprise, George!

The ideologues, the corporations, the front groups, and the Bushites thought they had all of their ducks in a row to ram privatization into law, but they didn't count on one thing: You!

All across the country (and cutting across all party, racial, and age lines), people have risen up to give a resounding "No, uh-uh, forget it, go away" to this scheme. Especially bad for George is that he now has less support for privatization than he did before the White House's propaganda blitz. So far his campaign has included forcing the Social Security Administration to tout George's agenda, creating a Social Security "war room" in the Treasury Department, wheeling out the old political hack Alan Greenspan to shill for the plan, exploiting a few black Republicans as props for the false claim that Social Security is unfair to African Americans, and using the full bully pulpit of presidential PR tricks--but to no avail.

Folks are figuring out what George's proposal means: tossing out the guarantee of retirement security; slashing benefits and raising the retirement age; no spousal benefits or disability payments; promised stock gains that are iffy at best (check the decline in your own 401(k)); and Wall Street fees and fraud that will devour any gains. Many old folks recall that we tried privatized retirement in the past. It was called the Great Depression. And some folks already know what privatizing retirement means, because they've seen that future ... and recoiled from it.

Actually, the Bushites might have done us a favor by making this greedheaded and ideological lunge for our Social Security money. First, their audacious move has solidified and energized progressive forces to fight against it. Second, it rips away the "compassionate conservative" and "family values" masks that Bush has been wearing. Third, it opens up the big debate about what kind of country we want America to be. Will we be an I-got-mine, you're-on-your-own society, or a nation of people who continue striving for America's egalitarian ideal of the Common Good. This is more than a fight over our retirement (as big as that is). It's a fight for America's democratic soul. It's also a fight we can -- and must -- win.

Hear, hear. Those are some high spots. Go read the rest .

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Watch Those Potholes

You know, I've been to two hog callin's and a county fair, but this is a new one. From Uggabugga:
More and more newspapers are reporting oral sex between children at school, during class, on school buses and at parties.

One of the comments:
I think we do need to warn our children that oral sex on school buses is dangerous. I mean the shocks on those things are awful and one wrong bump and...well things will get messy. And not in the good way.

Funny, that was my first thought as well. These kids today sure have a lot more to worry about than I did.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Rumsfeld quote of the day

Rumsfeld made this ridiculous remark a few days ago concerning Chavez’s arms purchases from Russia, “I can’t imagine why Venezuela needs 100,000 AK-47s, and I just personally hope that it doesn’t happen,” Rumsfeld told reporters in an appearance with Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar. “And I can’t imagine that if it did happen that it would be good for the hemisphere.”

Mmmmm... could it be Venezuela might have the gall of wanting to defend themselves in case of an invasion by..... er.... damn... can't think of anyone who'd do such a thing!

I wonder how many Ak-47s are on the streets of America? I remember reading about a shipment of 7,500 AK47’s that was intercepted coming into the east coast just a few months ago.

An American Hero

A true American hero passed away recently. He stood up to the government when they did wrong. From the San Francisco Chronicle.
In 1998, Fred Korematsu was a fragile reed of a man. But in the East Room of the White House, the septuagenarian stood up straight and tall as he heard President Clinton say, "Plessy, Brown, Parks ... to that distinguished list, today we add the name of Fred Korematsu."

Mr. Korematsu, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for courageously defying military orders calling for the World War II removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, died of respiratory failure Wednesday in San Rafael. He was 86.

Mr. Korematsu's death marks a milestone in the history of American civil liberties. By his simple act of defiance in 1942, for which he was arrested and convicted, the lifelong Bay Area resident became an icon of social justice, not just in his own Japanese American community, but beyond.

Please read the rest Below The Fold.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Your Car: Politics on Wheels

I've always known you could tell quite a bit about someone from the kind of car they drive:

If you had a big black American luxury job with a blacked-out windows and a chauffer, you were a gangster, politician, CEO or movie star. Hmmm, that's redundant, huh?

Drive a Range Rover, you're yuppie scum; a Prius, you're a techno/green geek; A VW Microbus, you're in need of a haircut, a bath, shoes, and you're stoned to the gills and can't see out the back window for all the Grateful Dead stickers; a Volvo, you drive really poorly, because, after all, it's the safest car in a crash, right?

The following article knocks my simplistic theory into a cocked hat. Then again, maybe not. Go read.

From the NYTimes:
"Does she think she knows what I stand for/Or the things that I believe/Just by looking at a sticker for the U.S. Marines/On the bumper of my S.U.V.?"

The lady in the minivan might not know, but some of the finest minds in market research think they do. By analyzing new-car sales, surveying car owners and keeping count of political bumper stickers, they are identifying the differences between Democratic cars and Republican ones.

Some of these differences have more to do with geography than personal politics. Democrats are concentrated in port cities with more links to Europe and Asia, making them more open to foreign car companies. Republicans are more likely to be living in the heartland, where there's room for bigger cars and a tradition of loyalty to the American cars built in nearby factories.

But car buyers are also responding to the political images that come with some cars. Some foreign car companies have marketed cars as environmentally friendly, and some have at times focused on parts of the Democratic base. Saab and Subaru were the first and most visible to aim advertising at gay drivers.

Midsize and large American cars skew Republican, and so, of course, do big American pickup trucks. That may have something to do with American car companies marketing themselves through one of the great symbols of Republicanism, Nascar, which is enormously popular in the red states.

The Political Bumpers spotters, who recorded bumper stickers in favor of or against any of the candidates in the 2004 election, found that the drivers of pickup trucks and large S.U.V.'s were overwhelmingly right-leaning. But the leader of the project, Ryan MacMichael, of Leesburg, Va., said his biggest surprise was the pronounced Democratic skew of bumper stickers on economy cars (71 percent were left-leaning) and station wagons (67 percent).

The most left-leaning models with at least a dozen sightings in Mr. MacMichael's project were the Honda Civic (80-20 left-leaning), Toyota Corolla (78-19) and Toyota Camry (74-26). The list of most right-leaning was led by another Toyota, but a midsize S.U.V., the Toyota 4Runner (86-14), followed by the Ford Expedition (76-24) and Ford F-150 (75-25).

To Mr. Spinella, those bumper stickers merely provided further proof of the most fundamental difference between the two parties.

"Democrats buy cars," he said. "Republicans buy trucks."

Well, Lemme see. The wife's got a four-wheel-drive Dodge Dakota pickup for her daily driver and long trips (we need the full-size bed to haul Mrs. G's "necessaries" on any trip longer than forty miles).

I've got a 4WD Dodge Ramcharger, which dates from before they were called SUV's, thank God. The newer ones ride a lot better. It's more a short wheelbase enclosed farm truck and rides like a buckboard. Hell for stout tho', and goes anywhere.

We've also got a '76 Chevy Van that we bought new. We don't use it much anymore, but it comes in handy on occasion.

Not a "good Democratic car" in the bunch.

The Dodges are red. The van is blue. They all have "Veteran for Kerry" and "U.S. Marine Corps" bumperstickers. We're NASCAR fans, as well as every other form of motor racing, particularly motorcycle flat-track. We're for damn sure not Republicans (shudder at the thought!). And I'm not even a little bit confused about our choice of vehicles or our politics. We're damn good Americans. Say otherwise and watch what happens.

Maybe the study didn't quite go deep enough. Those "finest minds" can kiss my lily-white ass.

Smithsonian MP3

Great! I wanna download The Spirit Of St. Louis! But seriously, folks, the Smithsonian's Folkways Records division is getting set to offer its vast collection of Americana and World music on MP3. This is good news. I like music and very little of what I like to listen to could be described as "mainstream" unless you're from someplace really weird. Yeah, yeah. Button it.

Folkways has been around for a long time. I still have Leadbelly records on that label from the fifties.

From the WaPo:
The Smithsonian Institution is entering the highly competitive world of music downloads by offering the Smithsonian Folkways collection of ethnic and traditional music in an online music store.

"I'm all for it," says Mike Seeger, a member of the New Lost City Ramblers. The son of musicologist Charles Seeger and half-brother of Pete Seeger, Seeger has spent much of his life promoting southern and folk music. "I have a feeling of mission that I would like to have people get to know this realm of music better. This is a way to afford it," Seeger says.

The Web site,, will allow searches by artist, geographic location, language, cultural group or instrument. All of the Folkways archives, including photographs, can be downloaded onto a screen. Also in development are scrolling translations of some of the music for use on a personal computer. Right now the Haya Heroic Ballads, a form of storytelling found in northwest Tanzania, is being translated into English on the Web site.

As the Smithsonian fine-tunes this new service, the promoters hope new audiences for underappreciated artists of traditional music will develop.

"There's a guy in Punjab who is doing wonderful, meaningful work and it is never going to be heard," says Kurin. "Here is a way."

I guess you could hear it in a New York City taxicab, but downloading sounds safer.

Go read the article and visit the website. Your ears will thank you.