23 minutes left. Maybe I'll post again.
Coming soon... more music.
Labels: The politics
The first justification, of course, was Weapons of Mass Destruction. But we all know now that was a crock; even the administration has stopped foisting that line on us; they have shifted the debate about WMD to a debate about quality of intelligence, a neat piece of derring do which enables them to admit there were no WMDs without taking the blame. (Of course there WAS plenty of intelligence to the effect that there were no WMD; even the 9/11 Commission report confirms this, to the point where Richard Clarke has included it in the paperback version of his book.)
Some may argue that the WMD justification was in response to Iraq's violation of UN resolution 441 (although don't forget, even the administration can't look you in the eye with a straight face anymore and claim WMD). The problem with this logic, of course, is that the UN didn't invade Iraq, the US did. Indeed Annan has just decided the invasion was illegal (although one wonders where the hell he's been 2 years.)
Having virtually admitted WMD was a red herring, an expedient McGuffin to get us all pumped up for war, the administration has since floated three other justifications (notably without selecting one as the motivation; these things are just sort of floated to see if anything sticks.) The first one: regime change. Saddam Hussein was a bad man, so who cares if we like totally lied about WMD, it was worth it to oust that knave. Which would make sense except for two things:
--You didn't need to invade and occupy Iraq to kill Saddam and his sons; all you had to do was-- well, kill them. Or more expediently, hire the Israelis to do it.
--We have no national policy of eliminating heinous dictators. Quite the contrary actually; we're as likely to prop up the despot as to tear him down, depending on our economic interests. When Hussein committed his worst atrocities-- gassing Iraqis, gassing Kurds-- we looked the other way because he WAS OUR ALLY. Indeed we were a supplier of the military technology he used on his people.
So then you get the last two justifications the administration has floated: create a magnet for terrorism so we don't have to fight them here; and, create a model Islamic democracy.
These two tend to make me either laugh, or shake my head in wonderment. Suppose you wanted to create a democratic state from the ashes of a dictatorship. Your first move, obviously, would be... to lure as many terrorists as possible into the country? Can you see how ludicrous these two motivations are together? And yet the administration hasn't really backed off of either one. The apparent mad dash to democracy might indicate that "create a model Islamic democracy" is now the leading candidate for Why We Went to War With Iraq. Except that with elections due in January and that prospect growing dimmer each day, the administration continues to hedge by refusing to annoint the whole democracy thing as the actual reason for the war.
Additionally, of course, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Iraq isn't a terrorist magnet so we can fight them there; it is an AMERICAN magnet so THEY can surround and fight us on the home court. Just exactly who are the sitting ducks in Iraq, and who are taking the pot shots? "Here's 200,000 Americans to shoot at and decapitate-- and there's more where they came from!" As far as Islamic insurgents are concerned, the war has been a boon for business. You do know that since Hussein was killed, rifles and other weapons from the Iraqi arsenals have made their way in hordes into the hands of the Wahhabi insurgents in Saudi Arabia (where the street price of a Kalishnakov rifle from Iraq is now apparently $7.)
And of course, we've covered the whole democracy thing before. Fundamentalist Muslims don't want democracy; it is in conflict with Islam. Let me be specific here: In Islam, man doesn't make law, God makes law; and, elected officials don't interpret law; the Ulama does. The Ulama is the religious elite; the top-tier holy men. So the imposition of democracy on an increasingly fundamentalist populace (which will get way worse once the Kurds secede) is doomed to fail.
So to sum up:
Regime change: nope. (Besides, the regime is gone and there is no sign we'll be leaving any time soon.)
Magnet for terrorism? Quite the contrary.
Model Islamic democracy? When hell freezes over; the country is closer today to a radical Islamist Wahhabi style rule than it was before we showed up.
So what exactly IS it that those who agree with the invasion are agreeing with? Basically, I think they're agreeing that they like the archetype of the cowboy, where America wears the white hat, rides into town, and kills the bad guys. That's America's favorite movie. "If you aint with us," said Bush, playing Reagan playing John Wayne, "You're agin' us." "Bring it on!" "I'll be back!"
Only thing is, I think when this movie is over-- or probably by the second reel-- Americans are going to realize they aren't going to like the ending one bit. As one bumper sticker says, "Eey-hah! is not a foreign policy."
Labels: The politics
(About which: Dan Rather messed up, but this is a CBS story, not an election story; and, I have never read a Kitty Kelley book before, and I can't see any reason to start now.)
I think there can be no question that the Republicans fight dirtier and nastier; on the other hand, you get the sense the Democrats would if they could. The whole thing is bumming me out. Have elections always been this bad, or has the level of political discourse in this country just continued to sink into the same abyss as the rest of popular culture, or has 9/11 been a totally polarizing and atypical event?
I tend to think the its last two. Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Zell Miller, Al Sharpton, Ah-nuld, I tend to think a lot of the political discourse in this country is now conducted by cultural icons on the order of Tonya Harding or Hulk Hogan or whoever ended up Marrying my Dad. Would it really surprise anyone if Zell Miller's trailer blew away in the storm?
And as for the aftermath of 9/11, you have the Republicans playing cowboy, and the Democrats playing Chicken Little. Neither of which is going to fly.
And I don't even want to get started on Iraq, the most polarizing of all events. I will say only this: APW predicts a profound impact on popular opinion about the war on the day when the American death toll exceeds the 9/11 death toll. Whoever is in office then will try to spin it, but we all know that on some visceral level Iraq was the trade for 9/11, and that's the day it becomes a bad trade.
On a lighter note, this correspondent is going to be seeing the Allman Brothers in Atlanta 3 times this weekend, my first time seeing the boys south of the Mason-Dixon line. So look forward to some fine musical punditry. Oh, and two Jill Sobule shows comng up on home turf, bookending the Allmans, and still more NEW RECORDS!
Labels: The politics
Labels: The politics
Various Artists, Por Vida. This is a tribute to a great under-rated American voice, alt.country singer/songwriter/rocker Alejandro Escovedo (the album link will take you to his site). Over 30 of his great, often heart-wrenchingly sad, songs on this double-set, interpreted by one hell of a crop. To wit: Lucinda Williams, Los Lonely Boys, Cowboy Junkies, Calexico, Steve Earle, Peter Case, John Cale, Ian McLagan, Sun Volt, among others. Portion of the proceeds go to his health care expenses; he's been off the road with Hep C over a year.
Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, The Equatorial Stars. That link will take you to Fripp's Discipline Global Mobile record company, where you can buy all the hauntingly beautiful Crimson and Fripp work. This is the duo's third album, and I think their first since 1975. Ambiant music, your sister who likes New Age might dig it, but the textures and undulations are beguiling. You can let it sit in the background, but give it a serious listen and see exactly what's there.
The Silos, When the Telephone Rings. When they started out, Silos records sounded like family outings; like if someone came over with a tray of lemonade for the busy musicians she ended up singing a backing vocal. Their album Cuba from 1988 is a stone cold alt.country masterpiece.
Over time they stripped down to a trio, and became essentially a vehicle for Walter Salas-Humara (the latter not necessarily a bad thing.) Their last two records seemed a departure from the classic sound of the band. Heater (1998) definitely had its moments-- including the incandescent "Stoplight" and "Mom Out Dancing." But the follow-up, Laser Beam Next Door, was perhaps too much steeped in the taut power trio vibe into which the band had evolved. The Silos had gone from a lush band to a sparse band, and I missed the lushness. A listen to LBND's "Four on the floor" interpreted with more space by Walter on the relatively rare Woozy album served to suggest what the record could have been-- more mystical, subtle, yet with more stick-to-your-ribs musical goodness. Laser Beam definitely rocked; but the Silos can do much more.
So this new one comes out, and guess what? It sounds like the old records! Mary Rowell, electric violinist (the violin is electric, not her. Well, actually she is, sorta) who featured prominently on those early Silos records, is back in the fold, if not as a proper band member, than certainly making a contribution. Ditto vocalist Amy Allison, who sings beautifully with Walter and makes her presence felt on the very first song. I hope they take the ladies out on tour.
This record rocks as earnestly as any Silos record. The songs, the instrumentation are just spot on. The song "When the Telephone Rings," with the refrain "How I long for New York, when the telephone rings," is as personal and heartfelt as Salas-Humara's best work (with Allison's quirky vocals wrapping around Walter's). I'm calling it their best album since "the one with the bird on the cover." (1990)
Jonathan Rundman, Public Library. I admit, I bought this because Salas-Humara produced and the Silos (including Rowell but not Walter) are the backing band. But the album was a total creeper; great in its own right, I liked it better each time I played it. A hybrid between alt.country and power pop that works. I'd say more, but at the artist's request I wrote a review at Amazon.
Jill Sobule, Underdog Victorious. It is hard for me to write about a new Jill Sobule album. When you're a fan of Jill's, you are exposed to the songs in various forms for some time before the album comes out. (She might even ask you after the show if its any good.) Take the outstanding and instantly likable "Jet Pack." I first downloaded an early version, basically voice and guitar, probably a demo, from her site in September or October 2001. I've seen her play it a probably 20 times, maybe more. I've heard subsequent recorded versions as she posted them online. So bottom line, the record just doesn't hit me like a new record usualy does. Jill really lets her fans inside the process, so-- especially if you go to her shows-- you've lived with these songs for 2, 3 years.
That said, this is out on Artemis, who are demonstrating (as if their hip roster wasn't proof enough) what a cool label they are. It may be Jill's happiest record yet, opening with a sad but ultimately very funny song "Freshman", then hitting you with a 1-2 punch of "Jet Pack" and "Cinnamon Park." Instantly likable (although, again, there's a verse missing on "Cinnamon Park" from earlier versions that I notice because its on the version on my iPod.) As usual the songwriting is top rate throughout; she left off enough songs for a whole 'nuther solid CD. In particular, "The Last Line"-- a song about a pair of dysfunctional lovers in the disco era, making word play out of the last line as in last line spoken, and the last line as in last line of cocaine-- is a hell of a piece of songwriting. And of course you'll love the song about Joey Heatherton.
Talking Heads, The Name of This Band is the Talking Heads. A double live album that came circa '81, documenting on lp 1 the early version of the band, and on lp 2 the glorious expanded edition, featuring the Remain In Light band, including Adrian Belew. You ask me, Belew did some of his best work ever on Remain In Light and on the associated tour. Never out on CD before, this release just came out on Rhino, vastly expanded from the original edition. the second lp, which featured 7 songs from the expanded line-up, is now a 14-song disc featuring every song the Remain In Light big band played in the set, in order.
When Remain In Light came out, it was a revelation; one of the few albums after which music never sounded the same to me again. I haven't even played the first disc yet, although i'm sure it is fine; for me, disc 2 is where the action is. Also recommended: the first Tom Tom Club record (the one with Genius of Love); Adrian Belew's first solo album, Lone Rhino; Eno and Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (a pre-cursor to Remain In Light); and of course, the classic Remain in Light.
Also in my pile: Two official boots from Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe site; and because I've been on a kick about how records sounded in the 70s, CD copies of some albums I had on vinyl only but never rebought until recently. Of special note: the Stills-Young Band, Long May You Run. This is stone cold great; at the time it was panned for not being as good as a Neil Young record. But with the perspective of history we can see that the 3 Young albums that preceeded it were On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, and Zuma, and one can be readily excused for putting out the fourth best album on that list. Personally I think it holds its own with the other three, both the Young and the Stills songs.
Labels: The tunes
Labels: The politics
(Kerry to Edwards: Its… looking… grim… old… chum.)
First, of course, you have the overt Halliburton corruption—government no-bid contracts; the Iraq war has been great for Halliburton and their stockholders. If we invade any more countries I may buy some myself. Of course Cheney severed all his ties with the company…. Er… ah… except for his 433,000 stock options. Oh yeah, those. Without going into too much detail on stock options, let me put it like this. There is no financial risk associated with options, the worst that can happen is the stock doesn’t rise and you don’t make any money on them. But each time Halliburton goes up a dollar, Cheney makes $433,000. If it goes up ten dollars, he makes $4.33 million. Good thing he retains no financial interest in the company, because you know that it would be imprudent for even the appearance of impropriety. Right?
Then there was his lovely pronouncement about Kerry earlier this week. I’m paraphrasing now, but it went basically like this: “If you vote for John Kerry, terrorists will detonate a nuclear bomb in your city and it will be your fault!” Now, admittedly I’m no expert, but that strikes me as wrong. Nasty, evil, duplicitous… I’m grasping for words, and there is really only the one. Diabolical.
There’s a good article about Cheney in the Rolling Stone with Michael Moore on the cover (I know; I’m not any happier about it than you are.)
Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Here’s the Joker. And here’s Cheney.
You tell me.
Labels: The politics
APW announces today that we hereby officially endorse Anybody But Bush (ABB) for the office of president of the United States in 2004.
We would have liked to endorse an actual candidate, but after careful analysis, we have concluded that we think America would be best served by four years of ABB in the oval office. (This analysis did not include reviewing either candidate's plans for office, because we are concerned with what a president might actually DO if elected, not with the creative writing abilities of his staffers, and plans and platforms are far poorer predictors of future behavior than past behavior is.)
Kerry's campaign, I think by any objective measure, has bungled the Swift Boat attack; the man won 3 purple hearts and a silver star in Viet Nam, and yet he is losing the "What did you do in the war?" issue to a couple of draft dodgers. At some point that becomes his fault (although reportedly he wanted to respond, and his staff talked him ot of it.)
Second, Kerry exhibits an overall apparent lack of desire to differentiate himself substantially from Bush ("Hey! Wait! I'm for the war too, and even though I'm a Massachusetts liberal I'm against gay marriage! Hell, I'm even a Bonesman!") For these two reasons, Kerry has thus far failed to instill much confidence in me. Indeed the best thing he did in his acceptance speech was tar Bush as listening to Arab oil shieks. But then all that really tells us is that one of his speech writers must have seen F9/11 ( Kerry claims he has not and won't. OK, he would deserve credit for that, but then Bush hasn't seen it either.)
But I remain resolute that by virtue of the grotesque mishandling of foreign policy in the wake of 9/11 (and the general ignoring of it befrore), this administration has to go. Sorry, screwed up too badly, can we welcome the next contestant please? Their understanding of the Arab and Muslim world is frighteningly non-existent, and (worse) molded by their Saudi kissing cousins. Foreign policy-- especially in the middle east, especially in a post-9/11 world-- is far too important to have bungled this badly. Bush doesn't know who the enemy is or what to do to improve our lot; the war on Iraq (and of COURSE we are occupiers!) was ill advised, whatever reason they finally zero in on as having been the actual motivation (WMD, oust Hussein, terrorist magnet, model for Islamic democracy, whichever one manages to stick to the wall.) The war was not remotely on strategy, and it will linger and fester, draining American military and financial resources, to the ultimate advantage of our enemies, who were thrilled when Russia made the same mistake in Afghanistan in the early 80s.
Will Kerry do beter? Don't ask me. I'm an ABB man. All I can say is, he couldn't do worse. In short, I've decided that on November 2, and this is a nod to a satirical piece in The Onion, the guy I'll be voting against is Bush.
Labels: The politics
Here are links to the places at each of the candidates' websites where their plan (Kerry) and agenda (Bush) are laid out. This is a public service from APW; I think people should read them both. Lord knows, it would be nice if I did.
You can find Bush here.
You can find Kerry here.
For Kerry, find "Plan for America" on the left and then select a topic.
Labels: The politics
"I think John Kerry musta shot his dog."
Labels: The politics
Democratic Party of Georgia's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner
- March 1, 2001
It is good to be back in Georgia and to be with you. I have been coming
to these dinners since the 1950s, and have missed very few.
I'm proud to be Georgia's junior senator and I'm honored to serve with
Max Cleland, who is as loved and respected as anyone in that body. One
of our very highest priorities must be to make sure this man is
re-elected in 2002 so he can continue to serve this state and nation.
I continue to be impressed with all that Governor Barnes and Lieutenant
Governor Taylor and the Speaker and the General Assembly are getting
done over at the Gold Dome. Georgia is fortunate to have this kind of
My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's
authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -
and a good friend.
He was once a lieutenant governor - but he didn't stay in that office
16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the
people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in
In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government
waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.
Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for
balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for
Democrats to do so.
John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education,
boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine
named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a
member of its "Digital Dozen."
John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 - when he defeated
popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched
Senate race in the country.
John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the
Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the
Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the
Vietnam Veterans of America.
He is married to Teresa Heinz and they have two daughters.
As many of you know, I have great affection - some might say an
obsession - for my two Labrador retrievers, Gus and Woodrow. It turns
out John is a fellow dog lover, too, and he better be. His German
Shepherd, Kim, is about to have puppies. And I just want him to know...
Gus and Woodrow had nothing to do with that.
Labels: The politics
So I know it’s the dog days of summer and all, but I kind of feel guilty that I haven’t watched any of the Republican convention. I feel like I owe it to the good readers of APW to follow this kind of stuff. But frankly, I just haven’t been in the mood. (Similarly, for what its worth, I didn’t watch a minute of the Olympics.) I tried to watch that Reagan movie, but I really just couldn’t make it through the treacle. I mean, what was the name of the movie—“Lovable Dead Guy Returns From Grave to Say ‘Vote Bush’”?
I will say that I’ve seen some of the coverage (which I tend to like way better than the convention itself, regardless of party.) During the Democratic convention, Tucker Carlson was on Larry King, and he voiced the opinion you heard all that week from Republicans that the Democrats were only featuring moderate, “Republican-sounding” speakers (he said Barack Obama gave a “Republican speech.”) Then this week, the Republicans are facing the same charge about loading up the convention with moderate speakers.
Larry King put the question directly to John McCain, who is like a real-life Bullworh. True to form, McCain said roughly this when asked why moderates like Giuiliani and Schwarzanegger were featured so prominently. Basically McCain said, and despite the quotation marks this is a total paraphrase, “Lookit, everyone has a clicker and 500 channels, and we want people to watch the thing, and those are the most popular guys.”
Thank you John McCain. Thank you for being the first politician to state the obvious—that the conventions are TV SHOWS, not political events where something happens, and the idea is to put on the best show. McCain is APW’s straight shooter of the week. Which, if we had every week, he’d probably have won several times already.
While I was diligently not thinking about politics, I may have had a political epiphany.
We often talk about the job of the professional politician—for the sake of this train of thought, let’s say the job of the political party—as being to articulate the will of the people. To bow to the will of the people. To yield to the will of the people.
I think I disagree.
Here’s the thing. The variable in this equation that we aren’t considering is that the will of the people is a function of the state of the people. Hungry people want food, so if the people are hungry, the will of the people is going to be, “Feed us!” Once you’ve fed them, you’ve moved them up the Maslow needs hierarchy. Your success has changed the will of the people.
We accept that the political party has a responsibility for, a stake in, the state of the people. We must therefore realize that to make and implement policy successfully is by definition to effect change on the will of the people.
Subsequently, it should be the ultimate goal of the political party to change the will of the people; not to bow to it. Respond to it, sure. But the response should meet a collective need and so improve the collective lot in life of the people. Isn’t that the very beauty and promise of the American system, after all-- that it provides a means by which we can collectively better our lot?
In this light, not surprisingly, I find that the Republicans generally yield to the will of the people, while the Democrats are more likely to want to effect change on the will of the people. Traditionally we’ve seen the Democrat approach as elitist or wrong-headed, but I’m starting to think that’s unfair. On the other hand, it is also why they keep losing ground among the people—because it is not the short-term popularity builder that bowing, reflecting, mirroring back that will is. And obviously it is axiomatic that people vote their will, not the future state of their will.
But any difference between the two parties with respect to which one strives versus which one panders is actually pretty moot, because the parties themselves are maybe inches apart. Both pander far too much, both strive—or maybe challenge is a better word—far too little. Critics of the faces each party put forward at their respective conventions were both right—moderates on both sides. Two sides of a coin, more alike than different. (Minus the attacking of Kerry’s war record by people who never made it over to Viet Nam on the Republican side, they might be indistinguishable.)
My friend Minty makes a good point. Actually she makes it better than me, so check her out. She noted that Zell Miller said this in his speech (which I did not see, but I gather he came off like a nut job because even Republicans appear to be wincing at his rhetoric day-after):
"I admire this man (referring to Bush). I am moved by . . . the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America."
See, personally, I am terrified by that; in no way do I admire it. It generally amounts to having a president who believes he can do what he wants, regardless of the constitution, because God told him to. (To be fair, I don’t admire it in Osama Bin Laden any more than I admire it in George W. Bush.) I don’t mind someone being devout of faith—not in the least. But the way I learned it, the president wasn’t supposed to believe he “answered to a higher authority than the constitution.” (Yes, he’s said that.) No, if you’re the president, there is pretty much no higher authority than the constitution, that’s sort of the way the system is set up. We have a term for people who rely on subjective, immutable interpretations of ancient religious texts as a roadmap to determining the nuances and policies of national leadership. We call them Wahhabis.
Labels: The politics