Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Strange Music of the Day

I have been quite lame about posting this last week. I have a great excuse, though: I finished off my last semester's worth of law school classes and have been prepping for my last semester's worth of exams. There's much to be said about the subjects I usually post about, but after a week wallowing in the mire of trusts and estates, criminal procedure, first amendment jurisprudence and advanced intellectual property, I'm afraid it would come out quite incoherently.

I can post another installment of our delightful "Strange Music" series, though.
This one comes from India. It's "Jaan Pehechan Ho" by Mohammed Rafi. It's featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Ghost World" and I think it's one of the best damned songs ever. The video from the movie it originally appeared in is likewise without peer. Please understand that I am in no way kidding when I say I long to be able to dance (and dress) like that. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Note to Obama's advance team:

Having three frat-bro-looking guys in Abercrombie & Fitch shirts standing right behind the candidate as he gives a speech just looks weird. You should probably try to prevent it in the future.

Note to frat-bro-looking guys behind Senator Obama as he was giving his speech: You really couldn't turn the smirk machine off for even a few minutes?

Yeesh. Those guys looked like plants designed to look like updated versions of a young George W. Bush.

Update: We have a photo (god bless the internet, eh?)

Terry McAuliffe must be dizzy!

The RPMs on Terry McAuliffe's spin are off the charts.
Of course he's denying that Obama's delegate lead is all but insurmountable; that's to be expected. Of course he's downplaying the fact that Pennsylvania was never expected to be anywhere near close; he has to (and we still don't know what the actual margin will be).

But he just said that the Obama campaign has "thrown kitchen sink after kitchen sink" at Clinton. Wha...?! It's not the pot calling the kettle black-it's the pot calling the kettle a pot!


I tried to ignore the primary coverage and just study for my upcoming exams tonight. I told myself I was going to leave the TV off altogether.

I lasted until about 8:10. And lo and behold...nothin. I can only assume that's minor good news for Obama.

Looks like it could be a long night.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A noun a verb and the Hanoi Hilton

John McCain was on This Week with George Stephanapoulos today and further convinced me that whatever integrity he may have once had is gone.
When asked about Elizabeth Edwards' criticism of him on health care, which included the point that he has had his health care tab picked up by the U.S. government his entire life, McCain said:
It’s a cheap shot, but I did have a period of time where I didn’t have very good government health care. I had it from another government. (LAUGHTER)

This is ridiculous. Not normal ridiculous, either. It's up to Giuliani levels of ridiculousness. Driftglass is spot-on in his characterization of the remark as
...all but saying that government-run health care sucks because...uh...I was tortured by the North Vietnamese 40 years ago.

My friend. hehehe.
We get it. he was a POW. That doesn't mean his health care (non)plan or his Bush III economic policy will be good things for the country.

In fact, it means very little at all, other than that John McCain suffered bravely and excessively in a war we shouldn't have been in.

The fact that he's so gung ho to keep putting more men and women in the same situation shows that for all of his bravery, he lacks a more important qualifying trait: Judgment. That lack of judgment shows in his domestic proposals as well.

What McCain doesn't lack is a cynical willingness to inject the fact of his having been tortured into every discussion of every issue for which he's being criticized.

Except, of course, the one issue where it could do some good.

See the This Week segment here at crooks and liars.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Strange Music of the Day

Someone appended a youtube snippet of "The War Room" that featured a debate exchange between Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton to a comment over at The Field. It was a good reminder that it was ever thus.
It also brought to mind the brilliant Dead Kennedys song, "California Uber Alles."

It does indeed rock. It is in fact made with a rather conventional lineup of instruments played in more or less standard ways.
Nonetheless, "California Uber Alles" simply must fit under any rational definition of "strange music" I or anyone else can come up with. Enjoy:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

She's got nerve anyway

I gotta give it to Clinton, she's got some nerve.
She has the stones to go after Obama for his "connections" to William Ayers, which essentially amount to sitting on the board of a charity with the guy. Under other circumstances, that might be a "whatever" moment. But these are not other circumstances. They are the very strange circumstances that obtain in this strangest of primary seasons.

And those circumstances include Clinton having sat on Wal-Mart's board of directors (enthusiastically) with John Tate, the virulently anti-labor executive VP.

Pardon me, I meant John "Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living" Tate.

This is Wal-Mart, a corporation that has come to embody that anti-labor sentiment. And as pointed out in the video above, even while she was on the board, it was pretty clearly bad on labor and trade. And she praised "our company" for its ability to do what it does better than anyone else. When what "it does" is screw workers (here and abroad!).

Yes, Clinton's repudiated Wal-Mart's anti-labor actions, but if she's going to get in Obama's face about who he served on boards of directors with, she should be given the same treatment.

Update: The more I think of it, there seems to be a subtext along the lines that Obama sitting on the charity board with Ayers is something that McCain can take him on about, whereas Clinton's participation in a virulently anti-labor enterprise like Wal-Mart won't be on the table since Republicans agree with the Wal-Mart position. It would still be fair game in the "where do you get off lecturing us on fair labor and trade policy when you sat on the Wal-Mart board with Tate" sense. But leaving that aside, ceding ground to Republicans on as important (and quintessentially Democratic) a set of issues as labor and fair trade is not something I relish our nominee having to do. But I'm silly like that.


That debate was...um...to put it bluntly, crap.
A debate where lapel pins are brought up, but not torture, is essentially worthless.
I see that I agree with Olbermann on that.
And I also don't think it was Obama's finest hour. But he didn't need it to be. He's winning already won.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


John Stewart nails the absurdity of this whole "Obama's an elitist" dustup:

(Well, dammit. Since I don't seem to be having any luck embedding this video of Stewart explaining [hilariously] that an elitist is what we need after 8 years of a President who is no better qualified for the office than any randomly-chosen one of your neighbors., you can view it here.)

A little elitism is a good thing. Put another way:

Monday, April 14, 2008

In a perfect world...

From Hardball last week:
"Isn't that interesting, Senator Casey, that Barack Obama, your candidate, can walk before 15000 people with complete calm and assurance, but he seems a little out of place in A) a bowling alley and B) a diner. What is the problem with your guy?"
(see video at 1:35)

In a perfect world, Senator Casey's response to Chris Matthews' question would be something along the lines of "No, Chris, it isn't interesting. It isn't even noteworthy, much less relevant. And you are an embarrassment."
Or maybe just a long yawn and some blinking would have been more appropriate. I guess that'd just be too elitist.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Strange Music of the Day

As you may have guessed, this will not be a daily feature.
It will, however, always be awesome. And strange in one way or another.
Here's a strange and wonderful song by Woody Guthrie (and don't think it's easy to make that noise like that, either-it's not).

VP Hagel?

Marc Ambinder has given his short list of VP candidates for McCain and Obama (what, no Clinton? Let's just say that ship has sailed...).

On the Obama list is Chuck Hagel, Republican Senator from Nebraska.

Now, Chuck Hagel's a decent enough senator, for a Republican. But Chuck Hagel is a Republican! Keep in mind that one of the key things a Vice President does is wait around to run for President in eight years. That's why people accept the offer-being the de facto incumbent carries significant advantages in name recognition and credit-taking for a successful administration.

Cheney being too infirm to run (you do realize that's the only reason, right?), and Gore having run away from Clinton's accomplishments (and scandals) were seriously anomalous. And Quayle was...well...Quayle-and all he had to run on was his name, which had become a joke and the legacy of Bush I, which the voters rejected after one term. He was even too young to have any Reagan residue left over on his suit. So of course he went nowhere in 1996 or 2000.

But don't let all that recent VP electoral failure blind you to the reality that there is a significant advantage for a Vice President entering a presidential race. Bush I, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, Truman-all were VP's, and they make up 45% of the Presidents since 1950. There isn't any position that has a better pre-presidential track-record.

I don't want Obama to give anyone who will appoint Scalias, Robertses, Alitos, or Thomases a leg-up in the race to be his successor. Besides, this race will be freighted with enough history without some sort of unity ticket.

If Senator Obama wants to make more history, he can do so by choosing an accomplished woman for VP, but he should leave the Republican VP nominations to McCain.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Strange Music of the Day

Just to be clear: By "strange music," I might mean many things. I could mean "strange that I like it," "strange that it exists at all," "strange that someone would classify it as music," or "just plain exotic."
I'd file this under "just plain exotic." Behold, Turkish psychedelic rock.
I give you Mogollar:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ding! Ding! Ding!

We have a winner! Give Joe Klein a cigar!
He has identified the essential nonsense of McCain's complaints that his "100 years in Iraq" comments have been taken out of context.
The context is the problem!

Even if we accept his explanation that he was advocating a non-combat military commitment like that in South Korea, Germany or Okinawa, it's still a stupid statement. Iraq is not Okinawa. Nor is it South Korea. Al Qaeda had no right (obviously) to murder American civilians, but lets not forget that they did so in response to our military presence in the middle east. 100 combat free years is not going to happen. It just isn't that kind of place.

Yes, it's true that Japan, Germany, and North Korea had to be beaten militarily before we got to the point where we could have a peaceful military presence. But we have already beaten Iraq militarily.
We are five brutal, grinding, deadly years into this occupation, which is a longer time than it took to defeat both Japan and Germany in World War II, and longer than it took us to conclude the "hot" portion of the Korean War.

So saying in essence "I don't have a problem keeping troops in Iraq for 1oo years as long as they aren't fighting and dying" is either stupid or it's intentional obfuscation. Take your pick and vote accordingly.

Strange Music of the Day

Behold, Negativland's controversial, U2 and Casey Kasem mocking masterpiece. It nearly ruined Negativland, and it is funnier than anything you've heard all month, guaranteed.

It's also exceedingly unsafe for work (in a "Casey Kasem's filthy mouth", not a "naked ladies on the computer" sort of way)-click with care.

With friends like this...

Randi Rhodes, Air America Radio host, has been suspended for being an idiot. (h/t Brendan)
She called Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro "f**king whores" at an appearance in San Francisco. Here's the video.

Should she have been suspended for this? I don't know. That's an issue to be worked out between Rhodes and her employer. Her agreements or contracts with Air America, what they expect out of her at official events, what they expect her to bring to the network's "brand," and whether or not this incident runs contrary to those things should be weighed in making the decision. They have obviously made their choice and I don't know enough about their relationship to have an opinion about whether that choice was the right one.

That's me being reasonable and level-headed.

But, there's a very large part of me that is not so level-headed. It says, for the purely self-serving reason that Randi Rhodes just bugs the hell out of me, that they should fire her and do everything in their power to keep her off the air forever. Granted, I don't have to listen to her, and I don't, but just knowing she's out there every day representing my position on issues that matter to me in that "Rush Limbaugh of the left" way drives me up a wall.

She is the Rush Limbaugh of the left. That is not a compliment. I can't stand Rush Limbaugh. That's partly because I disagree with him almost entirely on every political issue. But only partly.

Beyond the disagreement, I hate Rush Limbaugh's whole approach. Regardless of which side he comes out on, I hate that in his world, there are only two sides. It's either "dittos" or "go to hell." I hate the childish nicknames he gives his political opponents. I hate his stupid sound effects. I hate his juvenile skits and songs. I hate how he debases the discourse on important issues to a series of schoolyard verbal pissing contests.

And while I agree with Randi Rhodes on most political issues, I hate her approach to discussing those issues just like I hate Limbaugh's. And for the same reasons. I feel the same about Hannity. And Glen Beck. And Laura Ingraham. And Ed Schultz. And Michael Savage. OK, OK...Michael Savage is in a class all his own-below the barrel that Limbaugh is at the bottom of. However...

I think this dominant talk radio style of talking about politics debases vitally important discussions. It trivializes issues, the resolution of which can literally mean the difference between life and death, into a question of who can make the cleverest puns. I find that whole enterprise offensive regardless of whether I agree with it's proponent.

And it doesn't have to be that way. Rachel Maddow manages to have intelligent, opinionated discussions of the issues with a clear viewpoint delivered with passion without sounding like a moron or infantilizing her audience. So does Gene Burns, the mostly libertarian radio host on KGO in San Francisco. Ronn Owens and the late Pete Wilson (no, not the governor), both also on KGO prove that such discussions on the radio can be intelligent, reasoned, and entertaining
(And lest you think this is just some resurgence of Bay Area radio nostalgia, I can tell you that I thought many, if not most, of the KGO hosts were obnoxious as hell-as much as I may have agreed with the positions they took).

I know I sound like a crank, but I'm no victorian. I recognize that politics can be amusing or even hilarious. But Limbaugh's or Rhodes's guffawing jackassery just rubs me entirely the wrong way. Incidentally, so does the punny name-calling I see in blog comment sections (sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but "rethuglican," "repug," "rethug," "elephascist" and the like are nowhere near as clever as their frequent users think they are).

Moreover, as desperately as I want Barack Obama to win this democratic presidential nomination, and as distasteful as I think the Clinton campaign has been lately, attacks like the one Rhodes made are totally counterproductive. A circular firing squad is not helpful. This will now be talked about as something that the Obama campaign has to deal with or repudiate, which will lead to more tit-for-tat allegations that some Clinton supporter or another has engaged in some similarly rancid ad hominem, and the whole nonsense machine will continue to chug right along. That's damaging. The damage to the democratic party from this long primary season is WAY overstated, but this is the kind of thing that causes actual damage, because it wears people down. Hell, I live for this kind of thing, and it's wearing me down.

And it wasn't even funny. Sheesh...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Strange Music of the Day

In the grand tradition of crooks and liars' late night music club and skippy's music club, I proudly introduce the Strange Music of the Day.
I am a man with wide ranging musical tastes, but I definitely gravitate toward the weird in a cross-genre sort of way. To kick things off, here's my favorite Wesley Willis song: