Saturday, October 30, 2004

Cue & Review

Steve Gilliard's "Why is he still around?" zeroes in on the heart of the matter of Osama Bin Laden's new videotape (emphasis added by me):
In the single worst week for Bush since 9/11, Bush's rank incompetence has exploded. Hundreds of tons of highly deadly explosives spread around the country, killing Americans.

The Lancet accusing the US of killing 100,000 Iraqis in 18 months.

Halliburton being investigated by the FBI.

Rudy Giuliani blaming the troops like he used to blame black parents when the cops shot their kids.

Now, OBL coming back to remind people he's not dead, not caught and is, in fact, looking tan, fit and rested.

* * *

Since George Bush has been president, a terrorist who kills 3,000 Americans is neither in jail or dead, 1100 American troops are dead, and the Taliban still terrorize Afghanistan.

* * *

The US is in a quagmire in Iraq and Osama is still free. Americans die horribly every week in Iraq. They are maimed and wounded while their attackers escape retribution. And Osama is still free. Americans die in the Hindu Kush. And Osama is still free. Three years into World War II, Berlin was a smoldering ruin and most of the Japanese Navy was at the bottom of the Pacific. Three years into Korea, the South had been saved. Three years into Vietnam, the NVA had been broken in a series of battles from January to May, 1968.

Yet, three years into the war on terror, Afghanistan is the opium capital of the world, Iraq is anarchic and Osama is still free.
And why is the full extent of Bush's incompetence only now being revealed in the week before the election? The media should have begun and continued to report on Bush's incompetence beginning in the 2000 GOP primaries and continuing to the present day. Instead, Osama is still free.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bully Pulpit

When I first saw Bush, Jr. in the 2000 GOP primary debates, he struck me as a follower, not a leader. Despite his "mano a mano" threat to his financial keeper (Bush, Sr.), Bush seemed like someone who wouldn't/couldn't himself knock a man down, but would happily join in kicking the man after he was down. The ensuing years have not changed my opinion, but have added the knowledge that Bush was and is a bully, from childhood to the present. I don't advocate fighting, but if some victim's older brother had beaten the tar out of Bush when he was a kid - and Bush had learned from the experience - perhaps he would have turned out better. (Oh, that's right, Bush was the older brother when he was picking on his younger brothers!)

I laughed when I saw Bush (and Cheney and Rumsfeld) walking away from a 15-minute "press conference" in Crawford prior to the GOP convention. Bush stopped, puffed his arms out and assumed a tough-guy stance, and called out, "Come on, Barney, come on." Good grief, he can't even drop the facade when calling his dog?! As Straw Man commented on another blog after the second presidential debate:
Just heard on CNN. GWB walks like he is waiting for his Right Guard to dry.
Coincidentally perhaps, soon after Bush's come-here-or-else confrontation with Barney, I happened upon a John Wayne/Jimmy Stewart movie while channel surfing. Not surpisingly, I was reminded of Bush and John Kerry, respectively.

Like his cowboy pose, Bush's oft-professed religious faith has always been deeply suspect to me. Ayelish McGarvey's recent article in The American Prospect, "As God Is His Witness", takes a good critical look at Bush's faith (or lack of):
[W]hen judged by his deeds, an entirely different picture emerges: Bush does not demonstrate a life of faith by his actions, and neither Methodists, evangelicals, nor fundamentalists can rightly call him brother. In fact, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether Bush is really a Christian at all.

Ironically for a man who once famously named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher during a campaign debate, it is remarkably difficult to pinpoint a single instance wherein Christian teaching has won out over partisan politics in the Bush White House.

... [Bush] does not live and govern like a man who “walks” with God, using the Bible as a moral compass for his decision making. Twice in the past year -- once during an April press conference and most recently at a presidential debate -- the president was unable to name any mistake he has made during his term. His steadfast unwillingness to fess up to a single error betrays a strikingly un-Christian lack of attention to the importance of self-criticism, the pervasiveness of sin, and the centrality of humility, repentance, and redemption ...

Once and for all: George W. Bush is neither born again nor evangelical. As Alan Cooperman reported in The Washington Post last month, the president has been careful never to use either term to describe his faith ...

If he is anything at all, Bush is nominally Methodist, the denomination of his home church in Dallas. John Wesley, Methodism's founder, emphasized an emotional “warming of the heart” to Christ as fundamental to conversion. (That self-help ethos is evident in the resident's “compassionate conservatism.”) But Wesley was equal part freedom fighter: As a pastor in 17th-century England, he was barred from the pulpit for crusading against the abhorrent evils of slavery. Wesley died a poor man, his life a testament to Christ's exhortation of charity in the Gospel of Mark: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

... Ironically, the theology embedded in [Bush's evangelical] language is not even the president's own -- it belongs to Michael Gerson, Bush's crack speechwriter, himself a devout Christian and a graduate of Wheaton College, the “evangelical Harvard.” Far too often, though, the press confuses Gerson's words with Bush's beliefs.

The distinction is critical, as the press, as well as many of Bush's most ardent supporters, curiously points to the president's words, not his deeds, as evidence of his deep Christian faith.
McGarvey makes many more substantial points in the article - read it! Let me finish up with a quote from Bill Moyers in "Democracy in the Balance" regarding the hijacking of Jesus by the Religious Right:
Let's get Jesus back. The Jesus who inspired a Methodist ship-caulker named Edward Rogers to crusade across New England for an eight-hour work day. Let's get back the Jesus who caused Frances William to rise up against the sweatshop. The Jesus who called a young priest named John Ryan to champion child labor laws, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and decent housing for the poor - 10 years before the New Deal. The Jesus in whose name Dorothy Day challenged the church to march alongside auto workers in Michigan, fishermen and textile workers in Massachusetts, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. The Jesus who led Martin Luther King to Memphis to join sanitation workers in their struggle for a decent wage.

Monday, October 11, 2004

In a Groove ... or In a Rut?

Musically, I'm stuck in the late-1960s/early-1970s era - for example, the John Mayall, Cream, and Derek & the Dominos years of Eric Clapton. Not many artists since then have interested me, except for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Healey, and, I guess, a few others. Last year, I finally got a car with a working FM radio and I've been listening to WTMD in an effort to modernize my musical tastes. I've heard some good music and bought some contemporary CDs, but you still can't beat the good old days. :)

Two of my favorite guitarists are Peter Green (early Fleetwood Mac) and Duane Allman (early Allman Brothers Band). A few months ago, I started getting interested in the Grateful Dead. Cussion recently posted a picture on The Ledge forum of Peter and Duane playing with the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East in 1970:

ChiliD identified the musicians in the front row (from left to right): Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Pig-Pen (Ron McKernan), Bob Weir, Duane Allman, and Gregg Allman. In the back: Jerry Garcia (way in the back), Bill Kreutzman (drums), Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks (drums), Phil Lesh.

Knowing the when and where of the concert and knowing that about 3,000 Grateful Dead concerts are available on-line at the Internet Archive, I went to work and found the actual concert:

The individual songs can be downloaded in MP3 and other formats. From the recording notes:

COMMENTS Late Show. Total time 1:26:37 +. Duane Allman's guitar is audible from near the beginning of Dark Star through the end of the set; Gregg Allman adds organ & vocals during Lovelight, and Berry Oakley plays a second bass on Lovelight. According to Kenny Schachat, who attended the show, the guitarist audible starting about 2:30 into Dark Star and for several minutes thereafter is Peter Green, not Duane, who enters around the middle of Dark Star.

I'm not sure who is playing what on "Dark Star", but "Spanish Jam" sounds very much like live Fleetwood Mac - unfortunately with Peter's guitar, I guess, rather faint in the mix. Still, it's great to hear Duane, Gregg, and Berry. (Gregg shines - pun intended! - in the half-hour version of "Love Light".)

Oops! I almost forgot! Check out South Knox Bubba's brief history of the post-Duane ABB and of his own interest in the group.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

No Resemblance

Mr. Burns smiles too much - he could never be a stand-in for VP-select Cheney. From The Columbia-Union:

No, I think Davis X. Machina nailed it at Digby's Hullabaloo:
My wife the sometime Spongebob fan:
Vice President Plankton.