Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Ultimate Republican Playbook or The Great Republican Perpetual Power Ploy

Deleted to be reconstituted.

Bush To Pardon Telecoms?

Crooks and Liars links to NPR's Daniel Schorr who predicts Bush will pardon telecoms for their complicity in the President's illegal wiretap programs. Since Congress seems to have dug their heels in regarding the Preznit's request for retroactive immunity, some sort of blanket Presidential pardon seems logical. The big question I have is can a criminal President grant pardons to his co-conspirators? If so, you can bet that loophole will soon be closed albeit after the fact. It's not like the Presidential pardon wasn't controversial enough as it now stands.

I am curious as to exactly when this cozy relationship between the Bush Administration and the telecom industry began. Bush did signal that he was ready to throw down with big business and telcoms before he was sworn in.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Is O-U-T

The NY Times' version here. Just because this is understandable and expected doesn't make it any less disappointing. Edwards ran an honorable campaign on a platform more conducive to positive "change" than any other Democrat. Obama's and Hillary's selective cannibalization of certain Edwards planks speaks volumes.

I'd be a helluva lot more comfortable with either candidate if they showed a commitment to end the war now.

Let's be honest. Edwards never had much of a chance. In this MSM as kingmaker era, voters don't drive the selection process the media does. Less people are watching, less people are reading and less qualified are reporting with fewer available resources. Under these circumstances you either get hungry or lazy. You stick to facts or you choose a narrative that sells. It's a clear-cut path the press has chosen. And they've proved they will ride a sexy story to the end of the trail regardless of whether it's true or not.

Call me crazy (true dat may be tho' my meds are working exceptionally well today), but consider how the press skinned Al Gore alive when he ran for President. These pretend Puritans labeled (and libeled) the future Nobel Peace Prize winner a liar because he refused to rip his boss, Bill Clinton, over the Monica Lewinsky affair. The MSM found Gore boring too. So they created a fascinating personality for him: Liar. Our journos worked that meme like a starving cur going at a drumstick.

In direct contrast were the glowing reports on George W. Bush's folksy charm and powerful political family. A bedazzled press corps' deference quickly swelled to misplaced hero worship. (I cringe every time I accidentally see Chris Matthews still getting all a quiver with his man-sized man-crush on lil' Georgie). If you think this love fest did not contributed to any fourth estate footdragging in exposing the worst US President ever, you are straight up tripping your ass off. Despite the possibilities, catching the press with their pants down is not considered a sexy story -- at least not by the press.

I admire John Edwards for fighting the good fight. It's unfortunate that, according to the press, the sexy story was not the millionaire son of mill worker and failed VP candidate fighting poverty versus anyone else. (They gave more column inches and air time to his fucking hair than his positions on the issues !) Nope, it's charismatic, handsome and young African-American junior Senator versus controversial, former First Lady New York Senator. Case closed. Bye bye John. Thanks for playing. We have no parting gifts for you. Don't let the door hit your backside on the way out.

I hope this experience doesn't discourage John Edwards from continuing in public service. He has much to offer yet.


Imbroglio In Islamabad

Upon learning of Keith Ryan's "suicide" in Islamabad on Monday, I thought there maybe more here than meets the eye. Today's Boston Globe notes "Questions Raised in Death of US Official in Pakistan:"

United States officials tonight are attempting to transport the body of diplomat Keith Ryan from Islamabad to the U.S. for an autopsy, amid unconfirmed -- and contradictory -- news media reports in Pakistan that he died in a murder rather than a suicide.
The son of esteemed Boston Globe sports writer Bob Ryan, Keith Ryan was a diplomat working for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Dept. of Homeland Security umbrella.

I'm sure it matters little to his kin how Ryan died. This is would be a devastating loss for any family. Ryan left a wife of 12 years and 8-year-old triplets. My heart goes out to them.



I confess that I completely ignored George Bush's final State of the Union Address. I rarely watch it but I almost always read it. This year I decided to give it a pass.

The problem is that under lil' George it's become such a half-baked panoply of half-truths, lies and wishful thinking that I can't even make a decent drinking game out of it. If I depended on Bush to tell the truth or make sense to do a shot, I'd die thirsty. Conversely, if I did a shot every time Bush re-wrote history or told a whopper, I'd drink myself blind by 9:30PM EST.

Since I seem incapable of dealing with a George W. Bush SOTU sober and since a George W. Bush SOTU kills my buzz, this year I left Georgie out of the process. I'm glad I did.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Keith Ryan RIP

Keith Ryan was found dead in Islamabad, Pakistan yesterday. He was doing a thankless job in an unfriendly place. I did not know Keith. I also did not know his father, Bob Ryan, the dean of Boston sports writers. However, I grew up in Boston. I've read Bob Ryan's Boston Globe columns since I started reading the newspaper. I still read them online almost every day. I look forward to his frequent appearances on ESPN's The Sports Reporters. I'm a fan. It may sound queer (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) but I consider Bob part of my imaginary extended family.

My deepest sympathies to the Ryan family for their loss.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Krugman: Lessons of 1992

Paul Krugman delivers a de rigueur whip-smart Op-Ed in todays NY Times:

A Bush is in the White House, the economy is a mess, and there’s a candidate who, in the view of a number of observers, is running on a message of hope, of moving past partisan differences, that resembles Bill Clinton’s campaign 16 years ago.
Not that Obama is Bill or vice versa but there are striking similarities between then and now. Specific forces and conditions are to blame. We ignore these parallels at our peril. More Krugman:
Has everyone forgotten what happened after the 1992 election?

Let’s review the sad tale, starting with the politics.

Whatever hopes people might have had that Mr. Clinton would usher in a new era of national unity were quickly dashed. Within just a few months the country was wracked by the bitter partisanship Mr. Obama has decried.

This bitter partisanship wasn’t the result of anything the Clintons did. Instead, from Day 1 they faced an all-out assault from conservatives determined to use any means at hand to discredit a Democratic president.

For those who are reaching for their smelling salts because Democratic candidates are saying slightly critical things about each other, it’s worth revisiting those years, simply to get a sense of what dirty politics really looks like.
Krugman summarizes the pitfalls, land mines and full-frontal assaults targeted at Bill Clinton. He makes a point that is so obvious, so true but has thus far gone unsaid:
First, those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves.
Krugman hits the bulls-eye. Dems are so abundantly assured that there's no way a Democrat will fail to win the White House, that scant thought has gone into what will happen if that does indeed happen. That is folly.

No matter whom we nominate, folks, if a Democrat is elected, we will witness a kind of Republican-orchestrated vitriol that will make the Bill Clinton-era partisan attacks look like Sunday school. The GOP and their surrogate legions have employed these tactics with spectacular success. They have it down to a science. Democrats have a proven inability to mount an effective defense against this Republican offense. Nor do they possess an offense potent enough to disarm the GOP defense. And that's just the way the neo-cons, retro-cons, Jesu-cons, ex-cons and future-cons like it.

With your opponents consistently, brazenly put party above country, it shouldn't come as any shock that we've had a Republican President for all but 12 out of the last 40 years. Read Krugman's piece in it's entirety here.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Bubble & The Damage Done

The consistently genius Scott Horton at Harper's No Comment blog has these excellent twin posts examining our "faith-based" economy: "The Bubble Bursts" and "How Bush's Fiscal Mismanagement Produced a Recession." He also offer a similarly excellent evisceration of Orwell admirer Michael Mukasey "Bulletins from the Ministry for Torture." Sadly, Mukasey admires Orwell for not for the substance of his cautionary prose but for the clarity of his vision. Further proof that some among us were born without the irony gland.

Mr. Horton, a lawyer, has also written extensively about the Bush Administration's enlistment of the US Justice Department to punish its political adversaries. This time his focus is not on the USA's or Alabama. In order to prove just how widespread this practice was, Horton takes us to the Motor City in A Political Prosecution Goes Under the Microscope.


**Note: This post edited slightly for clarity.

Oh Canada!

Bienvenue to those Canadian readers dropping by due to the mention of Tom Cochrane below. I hope you find my humble site of some interest to you. I mean no offense to you or your great country of which I am rather fond. It's Tom Cochrane I can't stand ('tho he's a damn sight more tolerable than Celine Dion or Aldo Nova).

Everybody please note that I've made minor adjustments to the layout of ASIAF. As a result, my Technorati profile is more confused than usual and my subscriptions seem to have gone bat shit crazy. Sorry!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lunatic Fringer Rudy Giuliani's Theme Song Uber-Gaffe or This Shit's So Funny I Just Couldn't Make It Up

Red Rider "Lunatic Fringe"

I haven't blogged in over a week. I haven't read any blogs. I haven't done jack. I've been sick again. Serves me right as I never got my flu shot this year despite belonging to a high risk group i.e. those who spend much of their livers locked safely in their culture bunkers. So ya'll will have to excuse me if this has been mentioned elsewhere...

It should come as no surprise that a rabidly fascist, anti-freedom of expression, Rev. Shaw Moore-wannabe, artistically impaired lout such as Rudy Giuliani is completely clueless about "contemporary" rock music. Still, my mouth hit the floor last night when I learned via Real Time w/Bill Maher that Rudy's official campaign theme song is "Life Is A Highway." It is further proof of Team Giuliani's staggering incompetence that they can't even properly vet their leitmotif.

Not only has "America's Mayor" chosen an especially hideous example of early '90s AOR drivel as the soundtrack to his campaign, but he has also outsourced the job of writing said drivel **gasp** to a Canadian! "Life is a Highway" was written 15+ years ago by the pride of Lynn Lake, Manitoba: Tom Cochrane. Does irony know no bounds? No, it most certainly does not. For Tom Cochrane had launched his star with the dread Red Rider.

Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" was unfortunately ubiquitous during the '80s. Just as it's popularity had begun to wane, the track was brought back to life Lazurus-like when featured prominently in February 1985's Vision Quest (a career low point for Harold Becker) OST and Miami Vice's season one episode Smuggler's Blues. Here are the words to Lunatic Fringe penned by Rudy Giuliani's Campaign Theme Song writer (and Canadian) Tom Cochrane:

Lunatic fringe
I know you're out there
You're in hiding
And you hold your meetings
We can hear you coming
We know what you're after
We're wise to you this time
We won't let you kill the laughter.

Lunatic fringe
In the twilight's last gleaming
This is open season
But you won't get too far
We know you've got to blame someone
For your own confusion
But we're on guard this time
Against your final solution

We can hear you coming
(We can hear you coming)
No you're not going to win this time
We can hear the footsteps
(We can hear the footsteps)
Way out along the walkway
Lunatic fringe
We know you're out there
But in these new dark ages
There will still be light

An eye for an eye;
Well before you go under...
Can you feel the resistance?
Can you feel the thunder?

Can you hear me laughing?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NY Times: Bush's Faith & Middle East

There's plenty to question in the reporting for today's piece In The Heart of Islamic World, Bush Puts Forth His Faith. Two of reporter Steven Lee Myer's characterizations made me gag immediately:

Bush's "push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord" and "his unswerving support for Israel." This is a joke.

Bush's push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord has been weak at best. He's gone through the motions but has refused to apply an real pressure on Israel for concessions lest he antagonize his administration's many pro-Israeli hawks. He cannot execute his poor execuse for a foreign policy without their "unswerving support." When examined through the prism of his immediate predecessors, the Bush Presidency has been notable largely for his public ambivalence towards Israel. Again, George W. Bush cannot appear to be overly cozy with Israel lest he alienate his Muslim oil business and GWOT partners.

I didn't graduate from Harvard Business school. I did once work in a field where my "clients" offices were spread nationwide. My company was in fierce competition with much larger ones with whom I had to occasionally cooperate. While I had the resources to bring clients to me, it was less disruptive to them and showed more respect for them when I visited their place of business. The same must hold true on the geopolitical stage.

Bush has visited Iraq a handful of times to for purely personal political purposes i.e. to bolster his flawed policy and plummeting approval ratings. If Bush's support for Israel is so "steadfast," he would not have waited until his presidency's very last year for his very first visit. It proves his contempt and complete lack of respect for Israel except as a Biblical symbol and as an emblem of American might in an area of the world where there are few.

In the twilight of his Presidency, having been disgraced and discredited and declared wrong at every turn, Bush has finally become aware that his legacy may not possibly match his delusions. The American people owe it to themselves and the world to elect the least delusional candidate this November.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

P.J. O'Rourke Sighting

I used to find P.J. O'Rourke hysterically funny. Heimlich Maneuver** funny. Yes, ole P.J. was one of the first to jump on Hunter Thompson's gonzo journo bandwago but that is to be admired. That took talent, guts and a strong constitution (plus a whole lotta drugs & booze).

P.J.'s seminal '70s work for National Lampoon and early '80s Rolling Stone columns are must reads for all journalism students. If nothing else, it will open their tight little minds to the endless possibilities of their chosen craft. I dropped O'Rourke like a hot brick once it became painfully clear that he was a libertarian/Republican with a decidedly "death to the left" bent. (One these days I'll sound off on how libertarians are what Republicans temporarily become when their party proves massively unpopular). This, kids, is what happens when you misuse powerful drugs and a powerful intellect. So keep your mitts off my drugs and stay outta school.

I saw P.J on Bill Maher's new show last night. Good stuff. Bill's panel featured the interminable Tony Snow, Catherine Crier and Mark Cuban. Matt Taibi chimed in about half way through. P.J. O'Rourke checked via satellite from his adopted home state of NH. He reserved his pithiest comment for a certain few Republicans:

The first Republican debate three of the Republican candidates raised their hands when asked who doesn’t believe in evolution. Then they dropped their arms and their knuckles on the floor. It wasn’t a great moment for science teachers.
Hey, just because O'Rourke's a conservative it doesn't make him any less funny. OK, it does but he still has his moments.

If I piqued your interest in P.J.'s early essays there's no better place to start than at his apogee, his chef d'oeuvre (yes, I really do know some French), 1979's How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink.


**Not just a handy way to stop your friend from choking on a chicken bone, Heimlich Maneuver was also an excellent mid-late '80s Canadian power pop trio. Caught them once at McMaster University on a beer soaked Saturday nite circa 1986.

Here's the Maneuver's tasty T Rex cover The Slider

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happiness Is A Warm Gun?

I worked on a post for the entire afternoon. Best thing I've written in ages. One false key stroke and BANG! Gone forever. No return. I'm sick over it.

In times like these I've habitually turned to music's power to make everything alright (at least until the end of the song and as long as I'm the one picking it. Ha!) This is one of those times.

Marc Ribot is the best, most unique guitar player most of us have heard plenty yet never heard of. I first saw him play sometime in a fuzzy part of the last century when the Lounge Lizards were still going strong. Ribot has worked with a veritable smörgåsbord of uncompromising artists: Tom Waits (Rain Dogs), Elvis Costello (Spike), T-Bone Burnett (many projects), Marianne Faithfull, Solomon Burke (Soul Alive!), Cibo Matto, Feotus, David Sylvain, DJ Logic, John Zorn…Ribot is a also big fan of Albert Ayler as am I (“Witches and Devils”, anyone?). Here’s Marc Ribot’s take on the Beatles classic:

I really, really, really wanted the Breeders’ Tanya Donnelly version but no luck. Aside from her obvious gender-bending take on this Fab Four ditty. I admit I adore all things Tanya: Throwing Muses, The Breeders, Belly and, well, Tanya Donnelly herself…though not in that creepy-guy-living-in-
every-word-to-“Feed-The-Tree”. Nope. That's not me. No, I haven’t talked to her in a long while but I first met Tanya at the dawn of her career. (I'm absolutely certain I have an original Doghouse cassette tucked away somewhere here in the bunker).

Here's Tanya inna in-store stylee:

Tanya is sweet, super-talented and a real trooper. I remember Belly once performing a special sound check show for their fans despite the fact she was sick as a dog. She has earned my highest possible compliment: Tanya has paved the way and continues to pave the way for so many (especially but not limited to female) artists to follow. Her first band Throwing Muses wrote the book on twisting tempos, weird chord structures and abstract but still highly personal lyrics. All of this written from a female and subtly feminist perspective. No Muses no Ani. No kidding. 'Nuff said.

Visit Tanya's Slumberland website. Buy Tanya's music: TD, Belly, Breeder’s, Throwing Muses. Catch her live if you can. Once you have, don't thank me. Thank Tanya instead.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Friday Word Blogging

I love words. I like to speak them and especially to read them rather than write them. Writing does not come easily to me. It's part of this blog's impetus: to force myself to write with regularity.

etymology (not to be confused with the frequently engrossing but also frequently gross entomology) fascinates me. In the hope that you find the origin of words interesting too, I introduce Friday Word Blogging. Enjoy...

Wicked Cool Word of the Week: Jiggery-pokery from joukery-paukery. A fine bit of Scots rhyming slag meaning underhanded trickery. Example: "George Bush and his minions engaged in election jiggery-pokery not once but twice."

Stumper Word of the Week (i.e. I had never heard before nor could I discern it's definition by it's usage): Virago. Virago means either an overbearing or a strong woman. Though I'm not sure these definitions are necessarily mutually exclusive, virago seems more frequently used as a negative. Example: "His mother was a virago of a woman."

Silly Word of the Week:
Fanny. I know it's immature but it makes me laugh every time. I've been listening to Mike and the Mad Dog here in New York in preparation for this weekend's NFL action. Russo's been saying "that will bite you on the fanny." A lot.

A scandalous new Andalusian etymology of fanny courtesy of kalebeul. Does a 1845 edition of El Fandango hold the key?

Caballero de alto rango
templad vuestro serpentón
para tocar el fandango

a la bella Encarnación.
Does fandango, a dance dating from the prior century, provide the basis for our modern "fanny"? Is this fandango dancing a metaphor for sex? If so, what kind of sex? Just what do I mean by "our modern fanny"? Is it some sort of covert collective fanny or does it have anti-lock brakes? Will Lassie save Tommy/Timmy from the abandoned well? Stay tuned...

e have this priceless low brow fanny nugget from etymonline:
The genital sense is still the primary one outside U.S., but is not current in Amer. Eng., which can have consequences when U.S. TV programs and movies air in Britain.
The lesson, folks, is to be sure to use your "fannies" wisely when going abroad. On that note, I bid you a fond adieu.


I Am S.A.D.

Someone asked me why I haven't written thus far this year. I've had a slew of posts in progress most of which I'll have to scrap as they are no longer timely. I've finally recovered from the holidays and the inevitable resulting cold/flu. (Damn those kids running amok coated with kid germs!) So what gives?

For the past two weeks the days have been mostly dark here in the valley. I'm super-sensitive to light. Too much light and I'm extremely uncomfortable. But at least this I can control by flipping a switch or donning my shades. Too little light, specifically day light, is another thing altogether. Living in the Northeast as I do, January and February can be very tough sledding. I suffer greatly from S.A.D.

S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yep, I have the dreaded winter blues. Light therapy has proven effective for many. One of these years I'll be able to afford the requisite light box. This is not the year.

I can't afford a light box. WAHHHHHHH!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled lives.


I'll dig my way out of this. I always do.


Mitt Romney: Shapeshifter

Please discuss quietly amongst yourselves.