Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is Clear Channel Blacklisting Bruce Springseen?

Via Down With Tyranny and, of all places, Fox News, comes this:
Bruce Springsteen should be very happy. He has the No. 1 album, a possible Grammy for Best Album of the Year for "Magic," an album full of singles and a sold-out concert tour.

Alas, there’s a hitch: Radio will not play "Magic." In fact, sources tell me that Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from "Magic." But it’s OK to play old Springsteen tracks such as "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA."
But what a situation: The No. 1 album is not being played on any radio stations, according to Radio & Records, which monitors such things. Nothing. The rock songs aren’t on rock radio, and the two standout "mellow" tracks — "Magic" and "Devil’s Arcade" — aren’t even on "lite" stations.

This is all very strange. When one remembers Clear Channel’s boycott of the Dixie Chicks, or the fact that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s company owns Clear Channel and we’re in a presidential election season, it seems a clear case of Clear Channel’s political agenda influencing content on the nation’s largest network of radio stations.

Or is it?

Or, we could remember how Clear Channel banned thousands of songs from its playlists post-9/11, or look at the political contributions of Clear Channel executives, which go overwhelmingly to the GOP. And I have to say, the fact that Clear Channel Chairman Lowry Mays’ son-in-law currently represents Texas’ 10th District in Congress looks mighty fishy.

But tempting as it is to say this proves Clear Channel has a pro-Republican political agenda which limits free speech, it doesn’t. It’s all circumstantial evidence, Your Honor.

Here’s the flip side. I’ve always been of the notion that corporations like Clear Channel would put the devil himself on heavy rotation if they thought it would make them money. Hell, they probably have. And then, we must remember: Fox News is notoriously wrong about everything (even this story: Down With Tyranny notes in an update that a few “independent minded” Clear Channel stations are playing the Springsteen album). Plus, last year, Clear Channel promoted Springsteen’s “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” with a pre-sale sneak peek. Awfully funny for a liberal-hating conglomerate, I think.

I think there are a lot of reasons Clear Channel could decide not to program Bruce Springsteen that sound just as bad as “they hate liberals.” They could, for instance, be in an argument with Springsteen’s record label. They could be offended at his anti-corporate radio anthem, “Radio Nowhere” (you can watch the video here). Maybe someone decided that “Magic” smacked of the occult and promoted anti-Christian beliefs (hey, it’s Texas, anything is possible.)

Who knows. The real question we should be asking is, should we allow any corporation to have so much control over the public airwaves that they could single-handedly banish an artist from being heard on over 1,000 radio stations across the country for any reason? Clear Channel’s corporate office claims their radio programming reaches more than 110 million listeners every week. There are 300 million people in this country. Should we allow one corporation to control what over a third of the country hears at any given time? Shouldn’t there be a little more, you know, competition than that? A little more diversity in the "marketplace of ideas"?

It’s a timely question, since today in Washington, D.C., the FCC is holding hearings on this very topic.

Food for thought.

(h/t Atrios)--and ThresherK in comments.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hot Water

Help! I need help!

OK, bloggers, give me some advice. We need a new water heater at the Beale household, and pretty quick. I thought I'd look into those new fangled tankless models, which are supposed to save on gas and last twice as long as the conventional kind. An even bigger selling point, from my point of view, is the space they save. If we switch to tankless we'll gain an entire storage closet. Be still my beating heart.

Here's the problem: we've done all sorts of research on the internet and thought we had a pretty good idea on which brands to stay away from. The general consensus seemed to be that Rinnai is a reliable, popular brand. I even talked to a couple of plumbers, and they all said good things about them. But when I called a major local plumber to get a quote, they told me they no longer handle Rinnai because of so many problems with the product. They only handle Noritz.

I kept this info to myself when my second plumber came over to give me his estimate. I asked what brands he'd recommend and he said the only one he'd stay away from was Noritz because of so many service problems associated with that brand.


It didn't help that the guy who was trying to sell me the Noritz tried to sell me a load of other bullshit, like how the State of Tennessee was close to banning bottled water.

So, bloggers, lay it on me: Do you know anything about tankless water heaters? Like 'em? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Let me know. Mr. Beale and I will be eternally grateful.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Country Music: It’s Not Just For Republicans Anymore

Well, knock me over with a feather. We tried to tell The Tennessean this--I mean, that was the whole point of the Music Row Democrats, right? But regardless, our daily fishwrap has uncovered the shocking news that country artists support Democratic candidates as well as Republican ones.

They even compiled a list of the major Nashville entertainers who make political contributions. There are few surprises here (save that somebody, somewhere, considers Bonnie Raitt a Nashville entertainer). Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are among the bigger names donating to the Democratic Party. Gretchen Wilson, John Rich, Sara Evans, Ronnie Dunn, and Amy Grant donate to Republicans. No shockers there.

I had always known Amy Grant was a Republican, but still had a lot of respect for her nontheless. In all of my dealings with her she always struck me as a thoughtful, genuine person, who did a lot of good works behind the scenes, with little or no fanfare. But a couple years ago I found out she gave $2,000 to re-elect George W. Bush, even after the Iraq War lies and everything else. My opinion of her slipped dramatically. I understand people who supported Bush-Cheney in 2000, no one thought this administration could be this bad back then. But we certainly knew enough of their lies, misdeeds and questionable activities by the 2004 election. So it’s really hard for me to respect any otherwise intelligent person who supported Bush-Cheney’04. It’s a huge character flaw in my book.

But that’s Christian music for you. Most folks I know in Christian music are Republican. One of the many reasons I stopped working in that business--aside from the revolting marriage of religion and consumerism that nobody involved in it seems to have a problem with--was how the industry had increasingly come to represent the entertainment wing of the Republican Party. I daresay it was hard to distinguish the 2004 Gospel Music Week from the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Country music has always been more politically diverse than that, but the coordinated attack on the Dixie Chicks really did intimidate a lot of people into silence about their non-Bush loving viewpoints. Which, of course, was the entire point. We missed the big picture in that whole, sleazy affair, which is that a big-monied corporate-controlled industry shut down an artist for voicing a politically unpopular opinion. In so doing they sent a warning to everyone else that they'd better shut up too--or else. Even at a time when we hold up those who spoke out against the McCarthy-era blacklists as heroes, we let a new version of the Hollywood blacklist take over Nashville’s music industry. For shame.

I wonder, have any lessons been learned? Will artists and industry leaders alike buck up their courage and stand behind the next artist to get “Dixie Chicked,” or will they leave that artist out in the cold, too?

Maybe something good came out of that affair--besides the best-ever “You are so Nashville if ...” contest winner, that is.

(By the way, the Tennessean got its information from, however, I’ve found Newsmeat sometimes offers more thorough information.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Fun

In 2004 I went to a Halloween party and saw someone wearing a black "W: The President" T-shirt. I told him it was the scariest thing I'd seen all night.

With that in mind, the JibJab folks have created this animated short, Night Of The Living Republicans. Enjoy:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pop Quiz Time

Tristero at Digby’s had this fun little quiz posted, but it nailed me so well I thought I’d offer a link over here, too.

It’s the "What Breed of Liberal Are You?” quiz. Not surprisingly, I’m a,
"Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.”

Nailed me.

In the interest of fairness, these same folks have a "What Breed of Conservative Are You?” quiz, as well. Just for kicks I tried to take it but it wouldn’t let me. It said, “You're so Conservative you didn't even take the test! Have you never left The Compound?”

I’m not sure what that means. Anyway, enjoy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This Whole McClurkin Mess

I haven’t really known what to think of this whole Barak Obama-Donnie McClurkin uproar. I suspect this is one of this instances where I’m going to leave the liberal bunkhouse and strike out on my own which is strange, since I’m not even a Barak Obama supporter. I just don’t like to see fellow liberals behave like jerks and I fear this controversy is headed in that direction.

This strikes me as a colossal case of campaign bungling. Barak Obama wanted to reach out to the African American faith community, which trends to the social conservative side. The campaign thought gospel star/pastor Donnie McClurkin was an ideal avenue for that, but someone didn’t do their homework, and now the GLBT community is in an uproar. The Obama campaign finds itself in the unfortunate position of trying to appease GLBT supporters without offending a conservative black Christian audience. Good luck with that.

As someone who covered gospel/Contemporary Christian music for several years, I’m of course familiar with McClurkin--as a talented Grammy winning artist and leukemia survivor. I’d never heard any of his views about homosexuality before, nor was I aware that he considered himself an “ex gay” and credited prayer with his “cure.”

So I was completely floored when the outrage erupted on AmericaBlog and elsewhere this week. I had to do some research, and it seems to me that while some of the anger is justified, a good bit of it is exaggeration. I obviously don’t agree with McClurkin’s statements about “the sin of homosexuality,” but at the same time some on the left are trying to portray him as the classic “religious right activist bigot,” and that’s not right either.

For example, John Aravosis claims "McClurkin let himself be profiled on ... the Exodus International website,” when in fact the profile was an article from the June 2002 issue of Charisma, reproduced with the magazine’s permission, not McClurkin’s.

It seems to me that a lot of McClurkin’s quotes are his thoughts on his own specific experience, not blanket statements about gays and lesbians in general. And while I might wish he used different language, I think calling him an “outspoken homophobic bigot” is out of line. If nothing else, this incident illustrates what happens when the language of evangelicals is misinterpreted by non-evangelicals. “Sin,” for example, is one of those loaded words that doesn’t always mean what non-evangelicals think it does.

What's really a shame is that this situation could have been used to reach out to a constituency that should be natural allies in the quest for gay equality. An opportunity to educate and inform has been lost with all of this angry rhetoric. Wouldn’t it have been better to try to engage Donnie McClurkin in a conversation, instead of slamming the door by calling him a “homophobic bigot”?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Marriages Of Political (In)Convenience?

Hey, Roger Abramson: sometimes women care about celebrity news because of the larger issues in question.

Case in point: Last night WSMV reported that Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw are getting divorced. The news comes just three business days after Kershaw lost his bid to become Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. Coincidence? Er, maybe.

So far WSMV is the only news outlet to report on the split, and they don’t even have a link posted, so keep the salt shaker handy. But if it’s true, count me as not surprised: I seem to recall the couple headed to splitsville earlier this year, then miraculously reunited right before Kershaw announced his political aspirations this summer.

Meanwhile, across the pond French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia announced they are divorcing. The Sarkozys waited six months after the French election to end their marriage, though the union was in trouble pre-election:
The couple’s marital difficulties first became public knowledge in 2005 when Mrs Sarkozy had a relationship with Richard Attias, a public relations consultant, with whom she was photographed in New York.

Mr Sarkozy responded by having an affair with a political journalist, and they bought household goods with the apparent intention of setting up home together. However, Mr Sarkozy was soon back with his wife.

The reconcoliation barely lasted until May 2007, when Mrs.Sarkozy didn’t even bother to vote--for her husband or anyone else.

And then let’s not forget Bill-and-Hill, and all of the gossip about the state of that union.

I grant that it’s speculation to assume these were (are) marriages of political convenience, but it does have me wondering about divorce in political campaigns. I’m sensing there’s a feeling among strategists that voters think it’s okay if a candidate is divorced, as long as they are married to someone at the time of the election. Even if it means dragging out a marriage long past its expiration date, the general wisdom among the political establishment seems to be that a candidate should be married, if at all possible.

But I wonder how much any of that really matters to voters. Divorce is so common these days, and we’re already familiar with divorced politicians -- Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and John Kerry, to name just a few.

Do voters really care about that wedding band? Are voters suspicious of an unmarried candidate? I wonder if being a bachelor really hurt Harold Ford Jr.? He certainly wouldn’t have been vulnerable to the now-famous "Call Me” ad, but then Fred Thompson was single when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

So far, Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, is the only bachelor to be elected to the White House, (though he married while in office). I honestly wonder if strategists worry that being unmarried sends a subliminal message of some kind?

Family life is changing in modern society; people put off getting married until later in life, and those who are marreid get divorced. Is that really an issue in choosing a political candidate? Does this really matter?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WSMV’s FCC Trouble

I just stumbled on this piece of news:
FCC Fines WSMV for Reporting Violations
Meredith Nashville Station Fined $10K

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/15/2007 4:33:00 PM

The Federal Communications Commission proposed fining Meredith's WSMV-TV Nashville, Tenn., $10,000 for violating reporting requirements for children's-programming information.

In seeking its license renewal, the station conceded that it was missing about three years’ worth of information on its compliance with kids’-programming limits and other children's-TV-reporting requirements.

The FCC concluded that the violations were "willful and repeated" and proposed the baseline amount of $10,000.

The commission also admonished -- an official warning -- but did not fine Ion Media Networks' WPPX (TV) Philadelphia for lesser kids’-TV-reporting violations.

This surprises me. WSMV airs four hours of “The Today Show” every morning, not to mention The 700 Club from 10-11 am, five days a week. Five hours of programming a day that to my view is clearly produced by and for children. What’s the problem?

Farewell To Peg Bracken

I was surprised and saddened to read Peg Bracken’s obituary in yesterday’s New York Times. Peg Bracken wrote the “I Hate To Cook Book,” a huge bestseller that became a staple in the kitchens of early 1960s housewives. I guess I never knew that Bracken was a) a real person, unlike that other figurehead, Betty Crocker, who was a fake; and b) still alive, at least until this week.

The “I Hate To Cook Book” and the follow-up, The “I Hate To Housekeep Book,” were the kind of pre-feminist guides that let suburban ‘60s housewives know they weren’t alone in resenting “women’s work,” and that their suspicion that Donna Reed-style domestic bliss was a crock was, in fact, correct. These guides were “a taste of liberation,” as the Times obituary writer noted; I like to think they heralded the coming “women’s lib” movement.

With a barbed wit and jaded perspective, Bracken was the antithesis of Martha Stewart; IHTCB was for the kind of women we now see portrayed on "Mad Men,” pre-feminist housewives who seasoned a pot roast between drags on a cigarette and swigs on a martini, all the while wondering if this was it, this was the best life had to offer?

What other cookbook offered such advice as:
Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.


When you arrive home in a dead heat with your family, it’s a good idea to set the table immediately. Then the children may stop screaming, and even your husband may relax a little believing things are further along than they are.

Ha! I’m sure my mother pulled that one on us more than once. When we got older, and we had to fend for ourselves, the IHTCB was indispensable for fast, easy dinners that didn’t involve tearing tinfoil off a plastic tray.

Sadly, IHTCB is out of print today. I understand why; the recipes call for large amounts of butter, cream and salt; they’re the kind of meals that have most people dialing their cardiologist after dinner these days. It was another era, a less heart-healthy one, to be sure. Still, in honor of Bracken and the out-of-print IHTCB, I thought I’d share one of her recipes here:

Peg Bracken’s Saturday Chicken

4-6 pieces of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup cream (don’t cheat and use milk; the cream makes a lot of difference)*
salt and garlic salt
chopped parsley

Take your chicken and salt and garlic salt it a bit, then paprika it thoroughly. Next, spred it out, in one layer, in a shallow baking pan. Dilute the soup with the cream, pour it over the chicken, and springke the chopped parsley preettily on top. Bake it, uncovered, at 350F for 1 1/2 hours.

* For the record, I did cheat and used 1/2 and 1/2, and also substituted fresh garlic for the garlic salt. It was still plenty rich, almost too rich, though Mr. Beale still says its one of the best meals he’s ever had.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hissy Fits For Fun & Profit

Digby’s post last week on all of the pearl-clutching over Rep. Pete Stark hit the nail on the head for me. I knew this train was headed into crazy-town when I saw WTVF morning anchor Steve Hayslip roll his eyes and whistle “oooooh-kaaaay” after showing the clip of Stark making his famous floor speech last week. Hayslip all but made circular motions next to his ear with his forefinger.

Stark was voicing his outrage that President Bush can find $2 billion a week to blow up people in Iraq but thinks $7 billion a year for children’s healthcare here in America is “irresponsible.” Yes, Stark used some loaded language; he was angry. Hell, I’m angry about it. And, predictably, as night follows day, the right-wing echo chamber and then the mainstream media expressed shock, SHOCK, I tell you, that hyperbole could be found on the House floor. Say it ain’t so!

Give me a break. This is just another piece of what Digby calls the “kabuki theater” of our national discourse--just like the similar “outrage” over the ad, Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” remark, Ann Coulter’s anti-semitism, Al Gore’s “controversial” Nobel Peace Prize, etc. etc. Both sides do it, but the right has turned this into an artform, perhaps because they’ve had so much more practice. It’s manufactured outrage, designed to distract us from what’s really going on, a deft way of changing the topic.

In this case, what’s been lost to the conversation is the fact that the Republican Party just killed healthcare for one million kids. Digby wrote:
Does anyone think that what Pete Stark said on the floor yesterday truly upset the Republicans? Of course not. These are the same people who spent month after month calling president Clinton a rapist and worse, for crying out loud. They are not shrinking violets who believe that there are limits to acceptable rhetoric about the president. They don't believe there are limits to any rhetoric.

Everyone knows exactly why the Republicans sent out "statement after statement" about this obscure congressman's words yesterday --- distraction. Does anyone point that out? No. In fact, the damned Democrats go right along with this nonsense and "hold meetings" and leak to the press about how they agree with the Republicans agreeing that Stark caused the distraction, and basically showing themselves to be a bunch of pathetic fumblers falling for this nonsense over and over again.

Our national discourse is pathetic. Both left and right are to blame, as is our lazy, clueless media, which gobbles up this fake news like an addict on a meth binge. All are complicit, because all are profiting.

Fake outrage makes money. There are the full-page ads in the New York Times and USA Today, there are the fundraising e-mails from both sides, heck, they’re hawking "Christmas Defense Kits” and auctioning memorabilia from this phony outrage.

We’re all being played, right and left. One of these days the American people are going to wake up and say they’ve had enough.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When Disaster Strikes

Why is it when disaster strikes, some folks’ first impulse is to grab their wallets and shout, “Mine! It’s all mine!”

Although I’m thousands of miles away, the Malibu fires are hitting home for me. Unlike other national tragedies, I’m actually familiar with the affected area, since I attended high school nearby.

Anyone who’s grown up in Southern California remembers those fall days of wild Santa Ana winds. Combined with tinder-dry vegetation and a spark, they can create a hell on earth. You never forget the smell of burning canyon wilderness, the smoky orange-red sunsets and showers of ash that last for days.

So I headed over to the Los Angeles Times to get the latest news, then checked the user comments section. In addition to prayers for peoples’ safety and questions about school closures, there were some predictable comments, such as this one:
3. People and government should be held responsible for building in fire prone areas. All CA tax payers should not foot the bill. More thought and effort needs to be put into proper land use planning.
Submitted by: Peter
6:10 PM PDT, October 21, 2007

With a similar beef is "Concerned”:

2. Should taxpayers as a whole be responsible for defending new homes that are built in extremely fire prone areas? Perhaps we need to give more thought to land use planning with regard to fire prevention. Throughout the west our ability to "manage" fire risk is stretched thin, and it's our land use patterns that are creating huge fire management expense and putting brave firefighters in extremely dangerous conditions. Concerned
5:57 PM PDT, October 21, 2007

First of all, we don’t know if Malibu will need taxpayer assistance to rebuild, but just speaking to the larger issue, this thinking drives me nuts.

This “why should I have to pay for it!” is a popular lament, especially among right-wingers. We heard it a lot after Hurricane Katrina (though I don’t recall hearing anything after a tornado destroyed the town of Greensburg, Kansas). The argument is that it’s your own fault for living in a fire-prone (or hurricane prone, or tornado-prone) area. But unless you’ve found some patch of land completely immune to any and all acts of God, I’ve got a big steaming cup of STFU for you.

Now, some have made the argument that it’s not government’s responsibility to bail communities out of these situations. It’s with a bit of irony that I present this post-Katrina Neil Cavuto interview with another one of Fox News’ notable experts, Jack Chambless, economics professor at Valencia Community College. Chambless said:

But the founding fathers never intended, Article One, section Eight of the Constitution, never intended to provide one dollar of taxpayer dollars to pay for any disaster or anything that we might call charity. What we now have is the law of unintended consequences taking place, where FEMA has come into New Orleans, a place where, ecologically, it makes no sense to have levees keeping the Mississippi River from flooding into New Orleans, like it naturally should.

I’m not going to diss community colleges, which I think are an important part of the higher education system, but I do wonder if Mr. Chambless was the only economics expert Fox News could find to speak thusly on this issue. I wonder if most economics experts might instead speak to the greater economic and social benefits of rebuilding a community as soon as possible. It's the whole principle behind the Marshall Plan; I'm not sure but I think the righties thought that was a good thing. Regardless, right now I’m just wondering if Chambless still holds his opinions, now that wildfires are headed to his part of Los Angeles County.

But I digress. By definition, disasters overwhelm local communities; whether it’s New Orleans or Greensburg, Kansas or somewhere in California, assistance may be needed. Frankly, I find it odd that some folks have a problem spending taxpayer money putting an American town back together but have no problem using that same money to destroy towns in foreign countries.

If you've ever noticed, that whole punitive “it serves you right, you asked for it” tone always manages to creep into these arguments. Even Chambless blames the residents of New Orleans for their fate. Once again I say: shit happens. Every place has its hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, mudslides, wildfires, drought, etc. etc. It’s called living on planet earth, so deal with it.

Speaking of “Deal With It,” I was touched by the compassion of a poster going by that name at the Times forum:

104. ain't no poor people in malibu--it's 'whitewood' out there. they know what they're getting into, living in a fire zone. they got money to rebuild. don't get all bent out of shape about these people and their fire.
Submitted by: deal with it
12:38 PM PDT, October 21, 2007

That’s the spirit. What a way to care about your neighbor! Sheesh.Is America coming apart at the seams or what?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Moses Blogging

"Hey! What gives! It's been a long time since there was any cat blogging around this place!"

OK, here's Moses, the baby of the family. He's growing like a weed. He started out as a little slip of a thing; we called him a "flat cat" because he was like an eel. But he's filling out nicely. So far he gets along with everyone, especially our Tub-O-Tabby, Julius, who last time we checked weighed about 20 lbs. Somehow Julius knows to be very gentle when he plays with Moses, though I can't say Julius returns the consideration.

Julius is very insistent on cleaning Moses, especially in those hard to reach places like the neck, ears and under the chin. At first we were worried that Julius was "tenderizing," not grooming, the new kitten, but there really does appear to be some affection between the two.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Warren Christmas

Gee, and I barely had time to say Happy Islamofascist Awareness Week! Yes, it’s holiday time, folks, and if there’s a pesky liberal in your neighborhood, the folks at WingNut WorldNet Daily have the perfect answer: Christmas-defense kits, available in their online store. What better way to celebrate the season than with a magnetic bumper sticker that reads "This is America! And I'm going to say it: 'Merry Christmas!'" Oh, heck, splurge -- the variety pack is on sale for just $14.95. And the "Operation: Just Say 'Merry Christmas” rubber bracelet is the perfect holiday accessory.

As the WorldNet daily folks say, “Buy one, buy 25, buy 50!” But that’s not all.. there’s MORE! No, it’s not a Ginsu knife. It’s this:
And, if you think it's just too early to worry about the anti-Christmas onslaught, go on the offensive now and proclaim the true meaning of Thanksgiving. After all, it's not really about pilgrims and turkeys -- it's about thanking God for all the blessings in our lives.


(h/t, ThinkProgress)

More Things God Hates

This post is in honor of the Values Voters folks meeting in Washington D.C. this weekend. In an effort to push the Republican Party over a cliff just because they can, James Dobson, Tony Perkins et. al. are gathering to discuss all the things they hate: gays, and abortion, and Rudy Giuliani and they really hate Hilary Clinton. But they love Jesus, and they love war, and they are sure Jesus hates all the same things they hate, so they're trying to find a presidential candidate who hates those things, too. (Pssst ... I hear Sam Brownback is available!)

But let's talk about the things God hates. Rev. Phelps likes to tell us how God hates figs fags, but I’d like to remind him and all the other gay-bashers meeting in Washington this weekend that God hates shrimp, too. Yes, the Almighty made his dislike of the crustacean pretty clear, and it’s really been worrying me that this nation’s descent into sin and corruption might have something to do with the Red Lobster Endless Shrimp combo. So it was with great relief that I learned this week that someone shares my concerns:
Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver's and Red Lobster. Yea, even Popeye's shall be cleansed. The name of Bubba shall be anathema. We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants.

Come on, put another shrimp on the barbie--to rid this Christian nation of the infidel crustacean, that is! And by the way, the Biblical prohibition extends to “all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers,” so that includes lobster, crab, oysters and clams.

God also hates pork, so let’s add Swett’s, Bar-B-Cutie and Corky’s to the list too. Oh, and football, too -- because even touching the skin of a dead pig is toevah.

Come to think of it, God may hate figs, too. Jesus did curse the fig tree, which is more than he had to say about homosexuals.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yeah, Some Elections Have Made Me Cry, Too

Most of us were celebrating the ousting of Intelligent Design-loving, homosexual-hating, man-on-dog fearin’ conservitard Rick Santorum. But I can see why the Senator’s 8-year-old daughter, not really old enough to understand the world of grown-up politickin’, would have shed tears on election night 2006. Little girls love their daddies.

But in one of those “only in Nashville” stories, we learn that Martina McBride’s new single “For These Times,” penned by self-described “Fox News junkie” Leslie Satcher, was inspired by the little girl’s tears on election night:
Inspiration struck on election night.

Satcher and her husband — “big Fox News junkies” — were riveted by the scene.

“I saw the cameras zoom in on that little girl,” Satcher said.

“That’s awful. They are not even showing Rick. They are showing her crying. She is hurting, and she knows her dad is hurting.”

It was pretty awful how the cameras zoomed in on the sobbing child, especially since for all we know she was crying because she was humiliated at being used as a stage prop by her dad. But whatever. This is the money quote:

“The song is about the fact that we are a faith-believing, conservative nation, and that voice gets very little front-page time to me.”

The first verse is about Sarah Maria [Santorum], Satcher said.

Only a Fixed Fox News junkie would be so out of touch as to think we're a "faith-believing, conservative nation." And anyway, I thought we weren’t supposed to use little children to send political messages?

But never mind that. I wonder if Leslie Satcher has ever been inspired by images like these:

Probably not, because she’s a Fixed Fox News junkie, and they would never dream of showing icky things like this to their viewers.

(h/t, Attaturk)
[UPDATE]: Leslie Satcher responds to my post:

I hope you understand that the song is not about Rick Santorum or his daughter. There is a big difference between a song being about a person (I write songs about my husband) and a line of a song being inspired by a person, an image or maybe a sentiment or memory. Check on the difference between "about" and "inspired".

As for your comment about "if Leslie Satcher has ever been inspired by images like these"; yes. The second verse of "For These Times" was inspired not by what I have seen on any news channel, but by what I have seen with my own two eyes on my trips to Walter Reed Hospitol. If you had heard the song, you may have gleened that from it. I encourage you to hear the song before passing judgement; I wrote it for you.

I also encourage you to seek out some of my other songs. Specifically a song called "Peace".

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Simon Sez ... WHAT??

Conservative pundit Roger Simon has some funny ideas, most of which he appears to have gleaned from his Guide To American Stereotypes and late night TV.

First, we have this premise: Hippies were weak because they didn’t know about war.
The Fifties, as is generally acknowledged, were a natural era of calm conventionality – decompression after a period of extraordinary, almost incomprehensible violence. The generation coming home – the so-called Greatest Generation – wanted nothing more than peace and quiet, a return to normality. Why wouldn’t they have? But their children needed something else. They hadn’t participated in the war, weren’t direct victims of its horror but rather spectators at a storytelling. Nothing could be as bad for them as what their parents had seen with their own eyes and they knew it. In a sense the younger generation were weaklings, outsiders. They needed something of their own.

Hmmm. That’s odd ... I mean, there was the Korean War (1950-1953) and Vietnam (1959-1975) and Rosa Parks getting arrested in 1955 and the American civil rights movement that started in the 50s, etc. etc. I guess Roger Simon’s knowledge of the 1950s comes from reruns of “Leave It To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.”

Then Simon chimes in with this nonsense:

Also worth noting is that many of the iconic figures of 1968 – Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Alan Ginsburg, Bob Dylan, even Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the May ’68 “events” in Paris – were Jewish. And if you look at their birth dates, these men were not “Boomers” as conventionally defined. They were born before or during, not after, World War II, but none of them suffered directly from the Holocaust (although in many cases their relatives did).

So through these men – and others obviously – the era of sex, drugs and rock and roll was born. What’s interesting about this ethos is that it denies evil – just love each other and we will all be fine. And yet how evil was the Holocaust.

Indeed, and how evil was what happened to Emmett Till? Or My Lai? Apparently Roger Simon was too busy smoking weed and getting laid to know what was happening in his wasted youth, and so he assumes everyone else was equally clueless. The 1960s can’t possibly have been about these issues because Roger Simon didn't know they existed.

So we now get to the truly priceless moment:

Even so, “Zimmy,” born while the ovens were in full operating mode, doesn’t sing about it. He preferred the “times they are a-changin’.”

Apparently Simon lacks the literary gene, you know, the one where you learn about metaphors and similes and stuff. To Simon, Bob Dylan isn't actually singing about the Holocaust, so he too is denying evil exists, sparking an entire movement of hippies who deny evil exists.

This is the strangest excuse for a reasoned argument I’ve ever seen.

Bob Dylan did sing about politics, and civil rights, and the war in Vietnam. But these things weren’t evil, remember, because Roger Simon has apparently forgotten they existed. No, according to Simon, Dylan should have sung about the Holocaust (which Roger Simon also apparently thinks only happened during WWII) because Bob Dylan was born Jewish!

If you liked that, you’ll love how he mangles John Lennon:

Nothing in human life could be as the extremes of World War II – people could not be that pathological (or evil, if you prefer). All they need is a little love. So let’s go out and have as much fun as possible, drop acid, get naked and boogie. (Also, unspoken, we may all die soon anyway. Look what happens – lots of people die young.) Meanwhile, underlying the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song which for decades brought tears to my eyes, is this almost willed denial of these forms of mass mental illness, these large-scale political pathologies, as if you could destroy a virus through a sing-along, rather than inoculation.

Poor Roger! He apparently thinks when John Lennon sang “Imagine there’s no countries, it’s easy if you try,” that all of the bell-bottomed, peace loving hippies actually sat cross legged on the floor, screwed their eyes shut, and imagined... thinking it would actually happen! Yes, we all really thought “Visualize World Peace” was more than just a bumper sticker.

Okay, maybe I'm being unfair. Let's break it down: I’m not sure but I think what Simon is saying is that because the “Baby Boomers” didn’t experience World War II directly, they had a rather easy time of it, and thus their peace-love-anti-war movement stems from some idea that evil doesn’t exist because they’d never seen it in WWII. And these beliefs that evil doesn’t exist are infecting our country today because people are against the war in Iraq, just like they were against Vietnam. Or somethin’.

Which only makes sense if you’re someone who doesn’t believe this is evil:

More on this at Sadly, No!

I Told You So

Al Gore's not running. So give it up, people:
Gore has no plans to seek presidency

OSLO, Norway - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore says winning the Nobel Peace Prize has not pushed him into entering the 2008 presidential race.

"I don't have plans to be a candidate again, so I don't really see it in that context at all," Gore told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK in an interview broadcast Wednesday. "I'm involved in a different kind of campaign. It's a global campaign. It's a campaign to change the way people think about the climate crisis."

NRK said it interviewed Gore in Nashville, Tenn.

Pick a candidate, liberals. Gore's not running.

Another SCHIP Family Smeared

Stalkin’ Malkin and her merry band of Malkintents* are at it again, smearing 2-year-old Bethany Wilkerson just as they did Graeme Frost.

It would be one thing to write this off as the unhinged rantings of the loony right, except that it appears where SCHIP is concerned (and probably other issues, too), they are acting as the goon squad for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office.

If you don’t know Bethany’s story by now then I urge you to follow the links above. The purpose of this post is to call attention to Joan Walsh’s coverage, which highlights the broader implications of the SCHIP smears--issues that got lost in the Graeme Frost “Freeper stalkergate” sideshow.

As Walsh and others have noted, right-wing bloggers have painted themselves into a pretty corner on this one. They got the issue wrong and in the process were exposed as a bunch of blind GOP attack dogs ready to set their teeth into whichever victim the GOP leadership set before them. Walsh writes:
The particular way the wingnuts have come at the SCHIP debate -- demonizing the families of kids who are using it -- shows how little they understand the way the ground has shifted beneath them. No one is saying the parents of Graeme Frost or Bethany Wilkerson are poor; SCHIP isn't for the poor. It's for working families having a hard time finding affordable health insurance. Defining which families, at what income level, are eligible is up to the states. (Remember when conservatives used to like leaving things up to the states?) I don't want to stigmatize people on welfare, or set up a category of people who are "more deserving" of government help, but since right-wingers tend to think that way, let me spell it out: SCHIP is overwhelmingly used by the children of working parents whose jobs don't offer health insurance. The children of people on welfare are eligible for Medicaid. Reasonable people can disagree about the income level at which SCHIP eligibility should be phased out, but Bush and his supporters are lying when they say they oppose the expansion bill because it neglects low-income families; in fact it prioritizes enrolling low-income families, and would eliminate support for less-disadvantaged families in states that don't target the lowest income.

This has left the right-wingers with a pretty bizarre argument: the Frost family was supposed to sell their house to pay for their children’s hospitalization and then live out of their car; the Wilkersons shouldn’t have “chosen” to have kids. But wait, I thought “It’s a child, not a choice!”

The attack dogs on the right are going down in flames on this one, and they know it. Sounding the “socialized medicine!” alarm isn’t working because that's saying the current system with insurance companies and HMOs is working so well ... which we all know it’s not. Arguing that SCHIP keeps the poor, beleaguered insurance companies from making enough money isn’t exactly a winner, but it’s not even true: most states contract with private insurance companies to administer their CHIP programs. In Tennessee, for example, CoverKids, our SCHIP program, is administered by BlueCross BlueShield.

So what we're left with is an argument against helping children and for corporate welfare. Hmm, not exactly a winner. The rabid attack dogs of the right are going after 2-year-olds so viciously because they hope we won't notice their empty argument in the ensuing skirmish. This has worked in the past numerous times, but it won't work now because this is an issue that hits home for far too many American families

So, keep it Malkin-Coulter-Limbaugh-etc. etc. You dig your grave deeper with every smear.

* “Malkintents” term coined by a group of Atriots at Eschaton who are far cleverer than me. Used by permission.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Get Well, Randi

Liberal blogs are all over the news that AAR afternoon host Randi Rhodes was attacked near her home Sunday night while walking her dog. TalkingRadio has the news:
According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. As of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.

Rhodes is one of the left’s most outspoken talkers; I’ve referred to her as “strident” before, although nine times out of 10 I find myself agreeing with her positions. Still, she’s controversial, she gets under people’s skin, and the righties hate her going back to an ill-advised comedy bit which used gunshot sounds to signify protecting Social Security.

With that in mind, I really hope thoughts like this are an over-reaction:

Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that "this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging."

"Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own," he asked. "Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we're winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us."

Such speculation is premature, of course, but it’s worth mentioning because of the rash of true hate-speech coming from the right-wing echo chamber over the past few weeks. VoteVets’ Brandon Friedman read some of the hate mail he received after appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s show (you can watch the video here); this one is representative:

“Do us all a favor and shoot yourself, you’re a waste of human flesh.”

Last week the family of Graeme Frost got a dose “compassionate conservatism,” including choice comments like this:

“Hang ‘em. Publically,” [a Redstate] contributor wrote. “Let ‘em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice.”

Of course, we all say things we don’t mean on blogs; I know I’ve written some stuff in the heat of an argument that the righties take issue with. But some on the unhinged right seem determined to follow through with their threats:

Attacks on liberal talk radio stations and their hosts are not a new thing. About a month ago a gunman fired a shot through a window at the studios of KPFT, Houston’s, Pacifica station narrowly missing a DJ who was hosting music show at the time. There is currently a $10,000 reward offered to anyone who identifies the shooter.

This is not the first politically motivated attack on KPFT. More than 35 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan blew up the station's transmitters twice within the Houston station's first year on the air.

Also, according to a blogger on Democratic Underground, Thom Hartmann said on his Friday show that his auto repairman, after replacing his windshield, pointed out to him that he had three bullet holes in his car.

Apparently, some right-wing critics of lib talk aren’t happy that conservative talk only accounts for 90% of the programming on talk radio. These whack jobs appear determined to whatever it takes to silence the opposing point of view.

Not surprisingly, the only talk radio host killed for his political views was a liberal. In 1984, two right wing extremists gunned down Denver talk show host Alan Berg. Berg’s tragic murder was memorialized in a chilling movie Talk Radio.

Let’s hope this isn’t what happened to Randi Rhodes. And let’s hope this madness ends soon.

[UPDATE]: Atrios has a post up today that explains a lot about this issue. Check out Rush Limbaugh bragging about intimidating a journalist:

But there was a cover story on me coming out of one of the big news magazines, and it was going to totally mischaracterize me and what I do and how I do it. And we found out who was writing it and made a couple phone calls to the person writing it. And we said, "You know what? We're going to find out where your kids go to school. We're going to find out who you knocked up in high school. We're going to find out what drugs you used. We're going to find out where you go to drink and do -- we're gonna find out how you paid for your house.

I think we know where Rush's listeners get their ideas from.

[UPDATE 2]: Air America Radio has an update:

October 16-NEW YORK-On Sunday evening, October 14, Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

CNBC Hating On Ron Paul Supporters

Hilarious! Via War Room, we learn that managing editor Allen Wastler is ticked at the Ron Paul supporters who ruined his post-Republican debate poll. His Open Letter to the Ron Paul Faithful is comedy gold:
Congratulations. You folks are obviously well-organized and feel strongly about your candidate and I can't help but admire that.

But you also ruined the purpose of the poll. It was no longer an honest "show of hands" -- it suddenly was a platform for beating the Ron Paul drum. That certainly wasn't our intention and certainly doesn't serve our readers ... at least those who aren't already in the Ron Paul camp.

Some of you Ron Paul fans take issue with my decision to take the poll down. Fine. When a well-organized and committed "few" can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of "the many," I get a little worried. I'd take it down again.

Oh, the hand-wringing of the clueless. Poor Mr. Wastler is unclear on this whole “internets” thing, and how the “tubes” can get clogged by people who feel strongly one way or the other on an issue. Poor, poor Allen. My dear boy, did you really truly think that CNBC’s previous on-line polls were accurate? No of course you didn’t:

Now these Internet polls are admittedly unscientific and subject to hacking. In the end, they are really just a way to engage the reader and take a quick temperature reading of your audience.

Allen, darling, online polls do not take the temperature of “your audience,” they take the temperature of people who take online polls.

Up next: Allen Wastler learns there is no Santa Claus. Stay tuned.

Merle Speak, You Listen

Much as I hate to link to Joe Klein, aka “Joke Line,” one of the MSM’s serial offenders, I’m compelled to break my own rule today because in what can only be described as a sheer fluke, he interviewed a true national treasure, Merle Haggard.

Klein has never met a liberal stereotype he didn’t like, such as the time he said GOP candidates with multiple marriages "live like liberals” (Ha! I get it! We don’t have any morals like those conservative Christian folks do!). Or how about the time he said that liberal Democrats hate America. That was great! Thank you, liberal media!

In this week’s column he asks, "Does Merle Haggard Speak for America?” The answer is obvious to anyone who’s not isolated in their ivory tower of punditry. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to Joe Klein or most of the other Beltway gas bags. So it’s time for Klein and the rest of these clowns to have a steaming cup of STFU and listen for a change, because Merle is talking:
"The folks don't have a say-so anymore. They're being force-fed — music, yeah, but every other darn thing too. I supported George W. I'm not exactly a liberal. But I know how that Texas thing works, who those oil folks are and what they wanted in Iraq... I'm a born-again Christian too, but the longer I live, the more afraid I get of some of these religious groups that have so much influence on the Republicans and want to tell us how to live our lives."

Indeed. Like those Chinese hogs force-fed wastewater before slaughter, we Americans are getting shit shoved down our gullets and Joke Line doesn’t understand why we won’t say thank you:

A vague populist annoyance with big stores and big shots is one of the themes that have led Haggard to "change labels," as he told me with a laugh.

"Vague, populist annoyance”? Are you kidding me? How about outrage at the crappy way Wal-mart treats its employees, or the way big box stores have transformed rural America into a series of ghost towns?

Merle goes on:

"This is America. We're proud. We're not afraid of a bunch of terrorists. But this government is all about terror alerts and scaring us at airports. We're changing the Constitution out of fear. We spend all our time looking up each other's dresses. Fear's the only issue the Republican Party has. Vote for them, or the terrorists will win. That's not what Reagan was about. I hate to think about our soldiers over in Iraq fighting for a country that's slipping away."

Klein wonders if there’s a Bubba backlash brewing; I suspect there might be, or at least the GOP is afraid there might be, otherwise they wouldn’t stoop to manufacturing phony controversies about NASCAR vaccinations. But I also think there’s a core group of Bubba voters who will never vote for a Democrat come hell or high water.

It’s worth mentioning that the last time I blogged about this, the TN GOP sent out a press release about it, which someone posted anonymously in comments:


In a article by Thomas F. Schaller, the author states that the Democrat Party has lost a certain voter: "The 'NASCAR dad' -- that shirt-sleeved, straight-talkin', these-colors-don't-run fella who votes his cultural values above all else -- or 'Bubba.'"

Schaller wrote, "Start looking on milk cartons for Bubba because he has vanished, and not a moment too soon: The Democratic obsession with the down-home, blue-collar, white male voter, that heartbreaker who crossed the aisle to the Republicans many decades ago, may finally be coming to a merciful end."

More locally, a Nashville blogger, Southern Beale, analyzed the article and went on to say, "I'd clarify this to say, have Democrats lost the rural white Southern vote, and should they care? Does anyone think Democrats can get this vote? Should they care if they can't?"

On behalf of those who get up everyday, put in a hard day's work, worry about their kids' education & safety, pay the bills, get your kids to ball practice, say your prayers knowing that God does hear you and, oh yeah, follow NASCAR, offer straight-talk and love our country and wave the flag, we are honored that you might join the Republican Party and stand beside us in keeping America, and especially Tennessee, the best place in the world to live and raise a family. We welcome each Tennessean and "we do care!"

Yikes, was that raw sewage going down my throat again?

Yep, sounds to me like they’re nervous. You know, once you’ve lost Merle,you’ve lost America.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Update: Museum Flags Fly Again

Updating a post from last week, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s flags are back:
The flags of the United States, Arizona and Mexico are going back up in front of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, in Tucson where they flew side by side for more than 50 years until last week.

Sophia Kaluzniacki , chair of the museum board, said Saturday the museum "caved" to anonymous threats from people angered to see the American flag next to the Mexican flag.

She called an emergency meeting Thursday after receiving more than 250 calls and e-mails regarding the flags removal earlier in the week.

The museum is also increasing its security budget by $100,000.

As I posted on Thursday, anonymous callers threatened the museum’s animal exhibits if the Mexican flag was not removed. Animals, of course, that take no sides in debates about immigration. Great plan, folks. And let's not forget: the museum received the flag as a gift of "friendship and brotherhood" from the governor of Sonora in 1954. But screw that friendship crap, let’s just spread as much hate as we can, shall we? And they wonder why we call them the lunatic fringe? Now the non-profit museum has to spend money on security that could have gone towards education or any number of other worthwhile causes.

Kaluzniacki said the board’s vote to reverse their earlier decision and restore the flags was unanimous:

"We decided if we're going to fight any fight, we're going to fight what we felt was the morally correct fight. We are not a political organization. Our work as conservationists, researchers and educators has nothing to do with politics," Kaluzniacki said. "This is a sign to extremists we will not give into threats."

It’s about time someone stood up to these idiots.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What’s National Security Got To Do With It?

Tristero over at Digby’s has an excellent post up about this shocking story, in which it’s alleged the NSA sought warrantless wiretapping powers seven months before 9/11:
[Joseph] Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.
As Tristero notes, these are the kinds of allegations that would ordinarily spawn massive investigations and resignations, maybe even an impeachment trial or two. But since America has descended into cuckoo bananas land, it’s likely this will pass without notice. Instead we get “Look -- over there! Ann Coulter said something stupid!”

This revelation begs the question: did other telecommunication companies comply with the NSA’s request--seven months prior to 9/11? And if so, to what purpose, since the warrantless surveillance clearly didn’t prevent the 9/11 attacks (or the ensuing anthrax attacks, which everyone loves to forget about).

And if the warrantless surveillance couldn’t stop the 9/11 attacks, then what’s the point of having the program now? Just who is the NSA eavesdropping on? Suspected terrorists? Or, as many of us suspect, is this just a partisan political program, allowing the White House to eavesdrop on Democratic rivals? Richard Nixon did it, why would anyone think Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush wouldn’t?

Joseph Nacchio, former chief executive of Qwest Communications, claims when he refused to comply with the NSA’s request, the agency retaliated by canceling a separate, unrelated contract with the telecommunications company. Nacchio is now in jail for insider trading, since he sold large amounts of stock before the price plummeted. But he says the NSA contract would have been lucrative enough to pull Qwest through a period of slow sales. Instead, the NSA canceled the contract and Nacchio went to jail.

Tristero sums it up like this:
Within five weeks after George W. Bush moved into the White House (after a stolen election, let's not forget), his administration sought to wiretap without any legal oversight whatsoever, severely punishing those that insisted on obeying the law.* Not work to change the law, mind you, but rather to disobey the laws of this country with total impunity.

Within five weeks. Long before 9/11. Kee-rist.

Indeed. If I were a freedom-loving American, I’d be hitting the phones and calling my Congress Critter demanding immediate investigations. But that’s just me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Anatomy Of A Smear Campaign, Liberal Media Edition

”I told her redneckness has got to be a disease..
You catch it on your fingers and it just crawls right up your sleeves...”
-- Lyle Lovett

Apparently Lyle Lovett isn’t the only one who thinks redneckness is a disease -- the GOP wants you to think Democrats in Congress are afraid to attend NASCAR races without being immunized first.

Talk about milking a fake story every which way to Sunday. We’ve seen this happen so many times that these campaigns now take a predictable course: GOP comes up with talking point, Drudge repeats talking point, and Fox, CNN, USA Today, etc. jump on the bandwagon.

Okay here’s the story. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, is sending delegations to healthcare facilities at NASCAR tracks and other mass gathering sites:
The committee is examining whether the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is coordinating with state, local and private law-enforcement and health care responders to prepare for possible mass emergencies.

Got that? Once again, they are not attending NASCAR races but visiting healthcare facilities:

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said his committee aides were visiting health care centers, detention facilities and other operations where they could be exposed to communicable diseases.

Thompson recommended the delegation receive immunizations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and influenza before visiting these healthcare facilities, which is standard procedure. The North Carolina Republican Party seized on this to spread a misinformation campaign and score partisan political points:

"Democrats should know that there is no preventive measure yet designed to ward off the blue-collar values and patriotism that NASCAR fans represent," said Linda Daves, the chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party. "If they aren't careful, they just might catch some of it."

Oh, spare me. It’s the classic straw man argument, and the media falls for it every time. But what should we expect from the folks who had no problem Swift Boating a 7th Grader?

The GOP’s message is that “Democrats are scared of catching a disease from blue-collar NASCAR fans,” and as if on cue, our “liberal media” has dutifully picked up the talking point. Check out these headlines:

• FOX News: “Aides immunized before NASCAR race”
AOL News: “Democrats Require Immunization Before Pandering to Rednecks”
USA Today: “House aides advised to get shots before attending NASCAR races”
Alabama Press-Register “A NASCAR disease?”
• Kansas City Star: “Democrat’s NASCAR remark revs up GOP”

etc. etc. etc.

I love the ”liberal media.” Once again, the delegation was not attending NASCAR races but visiting healthcare facilities. And yet the media still recycles the GOP talking point that Democrats think NASCAR fans are contagious.

Congratulations, Al Gore!

Al Gore shares Nobel Peace Prize with UN climate change panel:
"..for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

An Oscar, an Emmy and the Nobel Peace Prize? This not-being-president thing has worked out rather well for him, hasn’t it?

Other famous Tennesseans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize: Cordell Hull, who won in 1945, and Muhammad Yunus, who won in 2006.

Perhaps some folks can look beyond politics and marvel at the number of Nobel Laureates coming from our state.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Maybe He Should’ve Swam There

Here’s a tasty bit of speculation about Al Gore that is bound to piss certain people off:
”... the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci is reporting that Gore cancelled an appearance today at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer in San Francisco. Boxer explained why in an email to supporters: "I just got a call from Vice President Al Gore. He told me that he needs to travel abroad tomorrow for an exciting and urgent mission that could result in a major breakthrough in the fight against global warming."

What happens tomorrow? The Nobel Peace Prize is announced in Oslo! Of course, the award is actually presented in December, not tomorrow, so Gore's trip is likely purely coincidental. Still, it’s fun to imagine the fits of apoplexy this will generate among the “Al Gore is a hypocrite because he doesn’t churn his own butter” crowd.


I really don’t get this flap over flags, but threatening animals that clearly have no partisan agenda and take no sides in the border debate strikes me as even more insane:
Desert Museum strikes colors

Complaints, threats over Mexican flag prompted removal

The Mexican flag flies no more over the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum — and the U.S. flag is gone, too.

The museum's board of trustees voted to remove the flags — which had flown side-by-side since 1954 — after receiving complaints and threats about flying the Mexican flag.

Questions from visitors about why the Mexican flag was being flown on U.S. soil escalated in the past couple of years, said board chairwoman Sophia Kaluzniacki.

An anonymous death threat against the museum's animals made earlier this year by a phone caller also factored into the board's decision, but to a lesser degree, she said. The desire to avoid controversy on border-related issues was the main thrust, she said.

"The Desert Museum doesn't want to make any political statement," said Kaluzniacki, a Green Valley veterinarian. "We are not a political institution so sometimes you have to consider what current issues are."

Museum employees were receiving three to five complaints a week from visitors about the presence and height of the Mexican flag, which flew at the same position as the U.S. flag, said museum spokesman Tim Vimmerstedt. Museum officials say the flag was a gift from a Sonoran governor more than a half-century ago.

It seems to me that some people in this country are growing increasingly unhinged. The fact that someone like Ann Coulter could make a very lucrative, successful career spouting her inanities (see Ann Coulter’s Heaven) is proof that mainstream thought has taken a sharp turn into wackadoodle land.

Ann Coulter’s Heaven

Atrios links to these words of wisdom from Ann Coulter:
During the October 8 edition of CNBC's The Big Idea, host Donny Deutsch asked right-wing pundit Ann Coulter: "If you had your way ... and your dreams, which are genuine, came true ... what would this country look like?" Coulter responded, "It would look like New York City during the [2004] Republican National Convention. In fact, that's what I think heaven is going to look like." She described the convention as follows: "People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America."

Apparently, Ann has forgotten one of the most enduring images from the 2004 Republican National Convention:

Well, she got the happy part right.

Ann went on to give this bizarre interpretation of Scripture:

Deutsch then asked, "It would be better if we were all Christian?" to which Coulter responded, "Yes." Later in the discussion, Deutsch said to her: "[Y]ou said we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians," and Coulter again replied, "Yes." When pressed by Deutsch regarding whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws."

Huh? Ann, honey, you’ve been worshipping at Church of Free Enterprise a tad too long. There’s something terribly ironic about the title of her new book: If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans.

Interestingly, Ann Coulter’s “heaven” also disenfranchises women:

An October 2 New York Observer blog post featuring excerpts of an interview with right-wing pundit Ann Coulter quoted her as saying: “If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat [sic] president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.”

This might be a good time to remind folks that that Ann is the good Christian single woman who narrowly escaped felony voter fraud charges after calling in a favor from an ex-boyfriend.

Keep it up, Ann. You’re the best advertisement for the Democratic Party out there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

They Said It Wouldn’t Last

Progressive talk radio is catching up. Yes, right-wing radio still dominates the talk airwaves, but liberal talkers are making big strides, according to the trade journal Talker’s Magazine. A survey in the current issue shows Ed Schultz receiving the same audience as Bill O’Reilly, and liberals like Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Lionel and Stephanie Miller with the same audience as G. Gordon Liddy and Hugh Hewitt.

This is a huge jump over last year for Schultz, according to Raw Story:
A new survey by Talkers Magazine listed Schultz's weekly audience at 3.25 million weekly listeners, the same number of listeners enjoyed by O'Reilly, host of the Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor. [ ... ] The same survey in 2006 pegged the Fargo talker's unique weekly listeners at 2.25 million, sharing the number 10 slot among radio hosts nationwide.


Limbaugh, who had 14.5 million weekly listeners in 2005, has not recovered from his loss of audience reported in the 2006 survey. His audience has been holding steady at 13.5 million listeners since that report.

I’m a big fan of Ed Schultz; he’s not as strident or polarizing as Randy Rhodes (who I confess to also liking, especially on days when I’m really pissed off). Schultz actually lets people talk instead of cutting them off mid-sentence, and he’s based out of Fargo, which gives him that “flyover country” perspective. If you don’t get Schultz on regular or satellite radio, you can give him a listen online here.

In the meantime, Nielsen ratings show Keith Olbermann consistently beating conservatives like Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson, and even giving Bill-O a run for his money in the key audience demographic.

It’s pretty amazing when you remember that conservative talk has an enormous advantage with its established infrastructure (Fox, ABC Talk Radio Network, etc.) built over the past few decades.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that people are turning off Rush and switching to Big Ed; rather, I think it shows there’s a growing market for progressive talk, whereas the market for conservative talk has probably maxed. What I don’t understand is why local talk radio stations like WLAC don’t offer both kinds of programming. Why cater to just a portion of the market in a city like Nashville, which skews liberal? I’ve been told that local station management has been approached about airing shows like Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz (or even the awesome local show Liberadio) but they’ve refused, reasoning that liberals listen to big stars like Rush Limbaugh too. All that kind of thinking has done is drive me to satellite radio, where I now enjoy advertiser-free music programming, too.

The dearth of stations willing to program someone like Ed Schultz is a shame but it may be changing soon: on today’s show, Schultz announced he has investors looking to buy stations in some key markets. Think Nashville will be one of them?

Smart For Nashville?

I took this picture near Lake Como, Italy. I thought the camo was priceless, a nice touch that would appeal to my friends and relatives in rural Kentucky, where the joke in Mr. Beale’s hometown is that camo is their school colors.

You see tiny cars like this a lot in Italy. After the initial shock over their small size, they start to look kinda cool. With Smart Cars coming to the U.S. in early 2008, I got to wondering how they’d work in Nashville.

The cars supposedly get 40 miles per gallon and will sell for under $15,000. For someone who drives as little as I do, it seems like a good idea. I love the idea of zipping in and out of traffic; parking in Hillsboro Village would be a breeze.

On the downside, I drove small two-seater cars for years in Nashville and got plowed into by soccer moms in their Chevy Subdivisions every single time. I totalled 3 cars in 10 years in Nashville, and finally realized that people just couldn’t see me; I was small and low to the ground and got squished like a bug by behemoth SUVs.

But, I drive far less than I used to, and I’m also seeing fewer SUVs on Nashville roads. So, is the Smart Car smart for Nashville? Can you see one of these in Green Hills?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Conservative Bloggers Hatin’ On Ron Paul

This was a surprise: a survey of right-wing bloggers by Right Wing News ranked Ron Paul their least favorite rightie. Obviously none of our local bloggers participated in this survey.

The survey seems hardly scientific, since 225 bloggers were asked to participate and only 45 did so. Maybe the others were waiting for their marching orders from the Central Office.

On second thought, maybe hating on Ron Paul isn’t that much of a surprise, since Paul is the non-establishment candidate from the right. It’s always struck me that right-wing bloggers are for more connected to the Republican Party than liberal bloggers are to the Democratic Party. Spend 5 minutes on a liberal blog and you’ll hear a barrage of insults about “spineless DINOs” and threats to unseat them all. The right wing blogs seem far more likely to spout the party line.

Anyway, the survey says the top five righties on conservative bloggers’ hating list are:

1. Ron Paul
2. Pat Buchanan
3. John McCain
4. Michael Savage (tie)
4. Larry Craig (tie)

If I had to take a guess about the top 5 liberals that liberal bloggers hate, I’d say:

1. Hillary Clinton
2. Harry Reid
3. Nancy Pelosi
4. Harold Ford Jr.
5. Ralph Nader

Joe Lierberman would be number one but people on the left don’t consider him a liberal anymore. Neither is Hillary Clinton, several bloggers inform me, despite the fact that she’s seeking the Democratic nomination. Well, that’s what I meant when I said leftie bloggers aren’t as connected to our political establishment as right wing bloggers are to theirs.

Some People Need To Find Another Career

I heard about this on Air America this morning and couldn’t believe my ears.

Yesterday I picked on fundamentalist Christian pharmacists for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. Today it’s Muslim med school students in the UK:
Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.

Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity.

A small number of Muslim medical students have even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. One male student was prepared to fail his final exams rather than carry out a basic examination of a female patient.

Oh for crying out loud. There’s a difference between religious discrimination and WATBs demanding special treatment. I think this crosses the line.

This is news in the UK because recently a large grocery chain agreed to let Muslim check-out clerks refrain from selling alcohol:

MUSLIM supermarket checkout staff who refuse to sell alcohol are being allowed to opt out of handling customers’ bottles and cans of drink.

Islamic workers at Sainsbury’s who object to alcohol on religious grounds are told to raise their hands when encountering any drink at their till so that a colleague can temporarily take their place or scan items for them.

Other staff have refused to work stacking shelves with wine, beer and spirits and have been found alternative roles in the company.

Sainsbury’s said this weekend it was keen to accommodate the religious beliefs of all staff but some Islamic scholars condemned the practice, saying Muslims who refused to sell alcohol were reneging on their agreements with the store.

This is pretty funny to me because one of the stereotypes of American Muslims is that they own all of the liquor and tobacco stores.

So, how would that work here: would Mormons refuse to sell liquor, cigarettes, coffee and tea bags? Mitt Romney didn’t have any problem bringing porn and alcohol into Marriott Hotels. But what if a member of the hotel housekeeping staff refused to restock the mini-bar for religious reasons? Or wouldn't rent a room to a gay couple? I mean, we could go on and on with this.

On the other hand, is it really that big of a deal for someone who objects to selling alcohol on religious grounds to turn the cash register over to someone who doesn’t? After all, that’s how beer sales are handled when a checkout clerk is underage. What’s the difference?

I think it’s one of those slippery-slope issues. If you tell someone they don’t have to scan a six-pack of Budweiser then you’re also saying it’s OK for someone else to not dispense birth control pills. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s someone else in the store who can handle the sale, because there will come a time or place or situation where someone is denied the healthcare or prescription medicine they need because of someone else’s religious beliefs. No one needs a six-pack of beer, but someone with an STD does need medical treatment--for themselves, and for the health and welfare of the general population. And I don’t see any religious justification for denying that treatment.

I think we getting into cuckoo-bananas territory here. Everyone wants their special needs catered to, and it's time for it to stop.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Stock Up On Those Birth Control Pills

Is this the latest troop move on the culture war front? From Sunday’s Tennessean:
Christian pharmacy professors wanted
Schools struggle to fill demand

Staff Writer

Pharmacists in Tennessee are already in high demand across the state, but the Christians among them might also be getting invitations to trade tablets for textbooks.

Three private, Christian universities in the state — Belmont, Lipscomb and Union — are hiring positions for new pharmacy colleges scheduled to open next fall. Although the process has been smooth, school administrators know they're only beginning what could be a long ordeal.

"We have fewer people going into this segment of the profession, and we're starting to see baby boomers retiring," said Belmont's School of Pharmacy Dean Phil Johnston.

Johnston has received plenty of applicants for all of the positions posted at his school but says that could change. At all three schools, faculty members must be Christians, including pharmacy faculty.

Oh goodie, more Christian pharmacists! That should mean more stories like this:


By Amanda Paulson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

CHICAGO –The culture wars have already seeped into hospices, movie theaters, and the Super Bowl. Now, even the corner drugstore has become a battleground.

From rural Texas to Chicago, more instances are cropping up of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives and the morning-after pill. As a result, politicians around the country are stepping into the fray.

[ ... ]

"Most observers seem to say it [refusing to give out contraceptives] is picking up, and there seems to be a more organized campaign to allow pharmacists to refuse," says Adam Sonfeild, an analyst with the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health issues.

Come on, Southern Beale, you’re thinking; loosen the tin foil hat! Isn’t it possible that there’s a demand for pharmacists, and Christain schools are simply filling an enrollment demand, as any school would?

Sure, absolutely. And just because a school is “Christian” doesn’t mean it’s part of some right-wing fundamentalist conspiracy, either. But the fact is, a lot of religious colleges are getting into the pharmacy game, and this should be a warning sign to reproductive rights activists. We’ve seen this movie before. Just as the next generation of Judge Roy Moores is being churned out at places like Patrick Henry College and Regent University, don’t be surprised if we see a new generation of fundamentalist Christian pharmacists like Kevin Stormans setting up shop at a drugstore near you.

Of course, Belmont and Lipscomb are hardly the ideology factories that Regent and Patrick Henry are. But check out Palm Beach Atlantic University, whose Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy is home to the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International. The CPFI instructs its students to “refuse to dispense a prescription that goes against their moral conscience.”

So, what’s the point of all this, you may ask. Well, Christians who want to go into the pharmacy profession have every right to “practice their love with women,” as President Bush might say. But those who think women should have access to birth control and emergency contraception need to start planning for some massive state “Pharmacist Conscience Clause” battles. Because, folks, the fun’s just beginning.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Don’t Forget Afghanistan

I’m not sure how I missed it, but the U.N. released a report last week with disturbing news about the war in Afghanistan:
U.N.: Afghan violence surges

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)
-- Violence in Afghanistan has surged this year with suicide bombings inflicting an especially high toll on civilians, a new United Nations report says.

The report said Afghanistan is averaging 550 violent incidents a month, up from an average of 425 last year. It said three-fourths of suicide bombings are targeting international and Afghan security forces, but suicide bombers also killed 143 civilians through August.

"Suicide attacks have been accompanied by attacks against students and schools, assassinations of officials, elders and mullahs, and the targeting of police in a deliberate and calculated effort to impede the establishment of legitimate government institutions," according to the report, which was released in New York last week.

Our news media rarely covers the war in Afghanistan anymore. Not during all of the talk about the “surge” nor in all of the talk about troop withdrawals has anyone ever mentioned that the Afghanistan war, which seemed like such a sure thing a couple years ago, is spiraling out of control.

Last week, however, we did hear news about Afghanistan, and from an unlikely place:

‘The Kite Runner’ Is Delayed to Protect Child Stars

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3 — The studio distributing “The Kite Runner,” a tale of childhood betrayal, sexual predation and ethnic tension in Afghanistan, is delaying the film’s release to get its three schoolboy stars out of Kabul — perhaps permanently — in response to fears that they could be attacked for their enactment of a culturally inflammatory rape scene.

Executives at the distributor, Paramount Vantage, are contending with issues stemming from the rising lawlessness in Kabul in the year since the boys were cast.

The boys and their relatives are now accusing the filmmakers of mistreatment, and warnings have been relayed to the studio from Afghan and American officials and aid workers that the movie could aggravate simmering enmities between the politically dominant Pashtun and the long-oppressed Hazara.

I saw this story about “The Kite Runner” last week but didn’t blog about it because, frankly, I’ve grown far too cynical to see a story like this and not think there’s some kind of Hollywood PR campaign involved. Yes, even though I have stated many times that the Afghan war is being lost under our noses as we devote all our attention to the debacle known as George’s Iraq Folly, I didn’t entirely trust a report about a big Hollywood film release because, frankly, it’s about a big Hollywood film release and we all have learned about the bushels of bullshit that swirl around film launches.

Back in the summer our allies in the U.K. had this disturbing news about their Afghan operations:

British troops face decades in Afghanistan

British troops face a 30-year "marathon mission" against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the commander of UK troops in Helmand has warned.

Brigadier John Lorimer revealed the challenge facing personnel as he disclosed that the Taliban are beginning to change their tactics and have started to recruit fighters from foreign countries in increasing numbers.

[ ... ]

Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Telegraph, Brig Lorimer said: "This is a counter-insurgency operation which is going to take time. It could last a decade. The counter-narcotic problem, which is huge, could take another 25 years. The British ambassador has said it will take 30 years. He has often said that this mission is a marathon, not a sprint and he is absolutely right."

In all of our talk about the Great Glorious Surge®, Afghanistan is rarely mentioned. The Taliban, of course, is the regime responsible for the 9/11 terrorists, not Iraq. With all of this talk about troop withdrawal and which candidates support getting the troops out of Iraq sooner, I wonder why no one has asked about how things are going in Afghanistan. Are Americans ready to keep troops in Afghanistan for 30 years?

I’m not sure most Americans realize that our commitment to Afghanistan, which many of us consider a more worthwhile and justified engagement than the operation in Iraq, is as open-ended as the Iraq commitment appears to be. If we weren't otherwise engaged in Iraq, would we be able to subdue the Taliban in Afghanistan, uproot the lawlessness and bring democracy to that country like we're supposed to be doing in Iraq? Why is Iraq more important than Afghanistan? The Taliban is still training terrorists there, why do we let this go on? What deals have been made that we don't know about?

While we focus on Iraq, Afghanistan descends further into civil war and lawlessness. President Bush's ego demands success in Iraq, but what about Afghanistan? What about the regime that started it all?