Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saturday Night Rock Show

The first time I saw Dream Theater live was on the World Tourbulence Tour 2002, at the Vic Theater in Chicago. They opened their show with "Glass Prison". After the opening bass guitar riff, when Petrucci hit the first chord, I quite literally did not hear it, because it was so loud, my ears shut down until they adjusted to the volume level. I was in heaven. From a performance the Gigantour, 2005 festival tour with Symphony X, Megadeath, and others, here it is:

I just checked out their website. August 10, 2007, I will be at the Rosemont Theater in Chicago. I feel like such a rookie, as this will be only my third DT show.

It Never Left

Digby discusses the sad truth that Barack Obama's presence in the race is like tossing lit dynamite in to the river - all the stunned fish are floating to the surface. In this case, those stunned fish are the really awful racists and bigots (as a side note, I wonder if the media watchdogs who lecture dirty-mouthed liberals will discuss this particular issue; don't turn blue holding your breath!). One of the points digby raises is the way such racism is enabled by elements of our larger media culture - Limbaugh's "Obama the Magic Negro" being the most horrendous. The distance between Limbaugh and an anonymous commenter using a racist epithet to describe the junior Senator from Illinois is small, indeed. Of course, the very idea that this is so is anathema to Limbaugh's numerous fans in the media, who are probably as guilty of the same kind of horrid racist thoughts as he is, but have a bit more discipline (and less Oxycontin in their system) than to make a public spectacle of their bigotry.

My only complaint about digby's piece - and remember this, if you will; of all the progressive bloggers and websites out there, to my mind Hullaballoo and specifically digby is not just head and shoulder, but several body lengths ahead of them all in insight, wisdom, occasional humor, and provocation; simply put, he is the absolute best of the best - is the idea that somehow this is either surprising or that such displays of hatred have been dormant or are a product of "nineteenth century thinking". Sadly, as someone who lived in the land of cotton for five years, I can only say that such things not only still exist, but there are few mechanisms we possess that can make them go away.

We can make them much less acceptable, and we can start by yanking the plug on Viagra-man, just like we did on that nappy-headed imbecile (looking at pictures of Imus makes one wonder he could ever use an insult that included reference to someone else's hair). That, however, is just the beginning. We need to keep doing exactly what Digby is doing - pointing out how toxic our current mainstream media is, how much it dismisses as "politically edgy" or even "humorous" some of the most hateful, vile talk imaginable; how those who approach right-wing radio hosts and bloggers with knee-pads (Howard Kurtz is the best example of a fellatalist of the right, but there are others) are as guilty of those who continue to spew such racist bile because they refuse to call it what it is.

Every chance we get, we need to hang the white hood on these folks, showing them for what they are. To my mind, no better service to the 2008 Presidential race could be made than to rid ourselves of the bigots; Obama's presence will certainly speed up that process, but we need to keep the pressure up.

I shall put it as baldly as I can: Rush Limbaugh is a bigot. Period. He is racist. Period. He should be removed from the airwaves. Period. Howard Kurtz, Kate O'Beirne, and other fans of Limbaugh and the hate-and-noise machine are racists. Period. They are bigots. Period.

We need to get it through our collective skulls that the passage of a few laws forty-some years ago did not rid of us of the collective disease of white supremacy. we need to disabuse ourselves from the idea that the success of a new class of African-American intellectuals, entrepreneurs, journalists, and politicians somehow eliminates the stain of four-hundred years of racist animus and attempted genocide. We need to embrace the idea that, if we are to survive as a nation, all of us have a duty to repeat as often as possible, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Michelle Malkin, Deb Schussel, Ann Coulter are nothing more than disrobed Kluxers who burn our eyes with their stupid, racist hatred rather than crosses. People will wail and gnash their teeth at this, but you know what? I don't care because I'm right and their wailing and teeth-gnashing indicts them of a softer, less conscious version of the same kind of racial animus.

Oh, and to really piss 'em off - I would rather see Al Sharpton run for President than any African American out there. He's got more brains, more guts, and more political know-how than the entire mainstream, Dem and Republican, field.

Racism isn't back. It has never left. But, we can fight it, if we are willing to do what it takes.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Does George Soros Rule My World? Not yet . . . but here' s hoping

I hadn't even heard of Soros until 200o or so. My first inkling was when I read about something called The Open Society Institute. As a Sir Karl Popper reader, I recognized immediately the reference to Popper's foray into political philosophy (relatively unimaginative, although I found his smackdown of Aristotle hilarious, and his generally favorable views on Marx interesting in light of the entire project); I ignored him, as I do most such things.

Now, it seems, Soros is behind everything we lefties do. Criticizing Bill O'Reilly. Criticizing empty-headed right-wing bloggers. Funding left-wing web-sites. Of course, Rupert Murdoch threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, not once but twice, through his NY Post newspaper chain, and did so with gusto. Murdoch, however, who actually is a pretty nefarious character, is nothing to the relatively transparent Soros, whose machinations are held in awe by the thoughtless among us. In light of my dawning realization on how much I am missing out, I am penning the following open letter to George:

George (may I call you George? You seem like a nice enough guy. . . OK, sorry, I'll start again)


Mr. Soros, sir. Could you fund this blog? I promise I will always call Bill O'Reilly an empty-headed, barely sane doofus. I promise I will post at least once a day with a link to Media Matters. I promise I will make sure that the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, which you direct from your bunker somewhere in an undisclosed location, will triumph in a one-world state ruled by puppets, sycophants, and traitors to all that is good and true and right in the world.

Actually, if you send me money, I will keep doing what I'm doing, regardless. I have no shame. You can email me through my profile for the information. Better yet, come to my wife's church and hand me the check in person.

The Republican Presidential Candidates

Last night's debate proved many things:
- Three of the men seeking the highest office in the land are unqualified for intellectual reasons, viz., they do not "believe in" evolution. Remove them from the list for any office of responsibility whatsoever.
-Rudy Giuliani does not meet his own qualifications, nor does he have all the qualities his ego would seem to insist he has. In short, he's a chump.
-Mitt Romney? I feel bad for him because much of the antagonism against him is faith-based, and I do not feel his religious views are relevant. People should be against him because he is a cowardly panderer, quite willing to jettison his political views for the expediency of seeking high office.
-McCain is, I think, a quite odd fellow. Barely contained rage, uncomfortable outside the all-embracing cocoon of the slavering media who are his only real constituency.
-Chris Matthews is a chowderhead.

While I am not impressed with the Democratic field - of course, no one was much impressed with Franklin Roosevelt, either, so that might not mean much - this gaggle of losers makes me yearn for Pierre DuPont. At least DuPont could speak well. The Republican Establishment will soon start howling for Fred Thompson to run, and run he probably will, but I think he will fare little better in the end, partly because he has incurable cancer that is currently in remission. In the end, this group of the incompetent, the marginally sane, the intellectually pithed, the morally obscene, and narcissistic manly-wanna-bes is what we have. To tell the truth, Sanjaya is more manly than this crew, and more competent, talented, thoughtful, and insightful as well. If Newt decides to run, the total IQ and electability quotient of the group may shrink a tad, but, in the end, the Democrats could run a crash test dummy and win in a landslide against any one of these guys. Keep the Republican Presidential candidates out in front as much as possible, I say.

Oh, and Ronald Regan was as awful as George W Bush is. Bush has less talent, less intellect, and less grasp of reality, however. This bunch is even more awful than our 4oth President.

The Ronald Reagan Library? I thought it would be a bunch of boxes holding old comic books and Playbills.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Where Were You in 1984?

Reading the opening paragraph of this post by digby got me all nostalgic for the 1980's:
In anticipation of the big GOP Reagan fest today, I've donned my Flock of Seagulls t-shirt and rented Rambo to get into the mood. Yes, I'm old enough to remember Reagan. But I was out of the country as much as possible, so the Reagan years seem to me to be a vague pastiche of exotic beverages and very, very large shoulder pads. It was quite a long time ago, after all.

The post itself is important, showing how bereft our current crop of GOP Presidential hopefuls are, having to reach back to The Gipper for inspiration. For me, however, I just got all caught up in remembering Miami Vice and Duran Duran and fat sweaters and really big hair. U2. Cap Weinberger. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have just outlawed the Soviet Union. The bombs start flying in 5 minutes." Yuck-yuck-yuck, wasn't that a stitch?!?
While my reminiscing has been real, my feelings about the 1980's are hardly the warm and rosy ones usually associated with glancing back at one's life. I remember the day the Iranian hostages arrived back in the US, the weekend after Reagan took the oath of office (I was practicing for a piano duet for a piano recital at a friend's house; my uncle (my mother's brother), then a pilot for Eastern, flew them home from Germany). I also remember what I was doing on New Year's Eve, 1990 (watching a broadcast of Leonard Bernstein conducting a huge symphony and choir in Beethoven's 9th Symphony in celebration of the reunification of Germany; I am still astounded by the fact that Bernstein did the entire performance without a score). In between I graduated from HS and college, fell in love once or twice (well, not really; compared to what would come later in my life, these were almost like dress rehearsals for love than the real thing), read a ton of books, listened to four and a third tons of music, moved from one place to another as I tried, and repeatedly failed, to find a settled path in my life.

The middle years of the decade, when I was in college, were the most settled in an otherwise unsettled, difficult time. They were also, oddly enough, the time I remember with the least amount of fondness, for this was the ear of High Reaganism. Ronnie was at the peak of his popularity, and nothing - not his trip to Bitburg, not his defense of Ferdinand Marcos, not his constant display of utter ignorance on matters of policy and process (sometimes even the members of his cabinet), not his abject refusal to treat the Soviet Union as anything other than an abstraction, and an evil abstraction at that - seemed to dim our view of him. He may have been an idiot, the funny uncle of the American family, but he was our idiot, our funny uncle, and we loved him.

Except, of course, we didn't. Not really. Reagan won 1984, partly because the press, in a trial run for the election sixteen years later, simply kept announcing his re-election as inevitable, regardless of what the Democrats did. Walter Mondale was, perhaps, an awful candidate, but compared to Reagan, imagine what kind of President he might have been. No Iran-Contra. No Ollie North still polluting our airwaves as a faux hero. Elliot Abrams would be languishing in the obscurity of some small-time academic post, failing to make it to Georgetown out of his sheer idiocy. George W. Bush? Another failed business or two later, and he might be a footnote to history.

In 1984, I remember sitting in the laundromat of my hometown, washing a heavy comforter (my mother wouldn't allow such a heavy item in our home washing machine, God alone knows why), getting ready to head back for my sophomore year of college. I was reading Missile Envy by Dr. Helen Caldicott. A village resident walked up and started talking to me. I was full of myself back then (like the character in the Byrds song, "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now"), and I was afraid of some kind of reactionary idiocy from this example of the lumpenproletariat before me. What I got was a lesson in humility, as he said things much more intelligent, thoughtful, wise, and insightful than I could ever have imagined. That was the first seed in the distrust of the kind of elitism that would be pounded in to my head by an academic establishment that views too many of our fellow Americans as too stupid to understand basic English. One of the things he said that has stuck with me was, "That's that lady doctor from Australia, right? You think the missiles will fly?" (I shrug noncommittally) "Well, if Ronnie wins, I bet it happens. Sooner or later." (My look must have been one of shock) "Yeah, but I'll still vote for him." (Oh?, I ask, amazed by the seeming contradiction) "Yeah. He's fun. Having him around is a hoot. He's just so damn dumb."

That wasn't the most insightful thing the man said (that is between him and me), but it does provide a glimpse in to the ways many were perhaps thinking back then. Reagan was a hoot. He was entertaining. This man was genuinely afraid of what would happen were Reagan re-elected (serious policy differences and social concerns), yet Reagan was hysterically funny (the "who-would-you-rather-sit-and-have-a-beer-with" idea). He was funny because he was dumb. I wonder if we didn't keep him around for precisely those reasons.

In honor of the year mentioned in the title, here are the Eurythmics:

Signs of the Times?: Cal Thomas on the Dying of the Religious Right

Back in November, soon after the election, I wrote a post focussed partly on an assessment of the election done by syndicated columnist Cal Thomas. I wrote the following:
Thomas, syndicated by Tribune, has long been a mouthpiece for conservative Christians. I was first exposed to him when he was a substitute for Pat Buchanan on the original Crossfire back in the mid-1980's on CNN. Thomas' column begins with a question rooted in the fallacious, simplistic logic favored by fundamentalists (among the most "rationalistic" faiths there are because of their insistence on syllogisms for proving their points):

If God was on the side of conservative Christians and conservative Christians are on the side of the Republican Party, shouldn't Republicans have done better in the recent election?

While not heartening, Thomas faces the implications of the question (although not, alas, the correctness of the question or its formulation):

[D]efeat offers conservative Christians a good opportunity to take stock. They should ask themselves whether their short list of moral issues and family values has any hope of being imposed on Washington . . . .

After noting the corrupting influence of politics on religion, citing the example of Don Sherwood of PA who received high marks from Focus on the Family even after it was known he had a mistress whom he had choked, Thomas asks a question that, considering the source, should cause any reader to at least pause for a moment:

Wouldn't it do more for the family to strengthen heterosexual marriage before telling others how to live their lives? Why have we seen so many politicians and some clery who talk about family values turn out to be the worst practitioners of them?(italics added)

Thomas then considers a question that has been posed often and loudly to the Christian Right for over 20 years. That it should suddenly become a matter of urgent consideration shows just how corrupted by proximity to power the Christian Right became:

Isn't [God's way] helping the poor. . . ? Isn't it feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison and caring for widows and orphans? Would such behavior, rather than partisan politics, recommend their faith more highly . . .?

This stunning - and, seemingly, stunned - discovery that the message of Jesus might entail more than holding up posters with pictures of aborted fetuses and demonizing same-sex couples, while late in coming, shows that, in fact, many conservative Christians might be awakening from their slumber

I had decided then that I would follow Thomas' evolving view of religion, politics, culture, and see where it led him. Today, courtesy of Faith in Public, comes this piece by Thomas, in which he considers the closing of D. James Kennedy's Center for Reclaiming America in Coral Gables, FL and the Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington, DC. While the reasons for the closing of these are unclear, part of it is related to Kennedy's declining health after a heart attack last year. For Thomas, however, there are deeper issues to ponder as an elder statesman and his institutions pass from the scene. They are not unimportant, nor are Thomas' ponderings of them, weighted as they are from his own perspective, unwise or misguided:
Brian Fisher, executive vice president of Coral Ridge Ministries, told the Miami Herald, "We believe that by streamlining the operations we will be able to return to our core focus." One hopes that will be preaching the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, unencumbered by the allures of the political kingdoms of this world, because that is where the greatest power lies to transform lives and ultimately nations. It does not lie in the Republican Party, with which Kennedy's organization was almost exclusively associated.

Politics is about compromise. The message of the church is about Truth. One has to look no further than the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons -- who long ago gave up speaking of another kingdom and another King (if they ever did) in favor of faith in the Democratic Party -- to see how quickly the church and its primary message can be blurred when it enters into a shotgun marriage with politics. Jim Naugle, the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale, told the Herald that the last election persuaded candidates to package themselves "in the middle, rather than to the right."

Nearly 30 years after religious conservatives decided to re-enter the political arena -- after abandoning it as "dirty" and leading to compromise -- what do they have to show for it? The country remains sharply divided and the reconciling message they used to preach has been obscured by the crass pursuit of the golden ring of political power. In the end, they got neither the power, nor the Kingdom; only the glory and even that is now fading, as these older leaders pass from the scene.

This is not to say there is no role for conservative Christians in the civic life of their nation. There is. But Christians must first understand that the issues they most care about -- abortion, same-sex marriage and cultural rot -- are not caused by bad politics, but are matters of the heart and soul. Some evangelicals wish to broaden the political agenda beyond these issues to poverty, social justice and the environment. Politics can never completely cure the ills of any of these, but the message Christians bring about salvation and redemption can. Besides, they can never "convert" people to their point of view.

Too many conservative Christians have focused on the "seen" rather than the "unseen," thinking appearances at the White House, or on "Meet the Press," is evidence that they are making a difference. And too much attention has been paid to individual personalities, rather than to the One these preachers had originally been called to exalt.(emphases added)

While I am not suggesting that conservative Christians are going away completely, nor do I think they should, I do think that this is indicative of a decline of the influence of the Christian Right, something of which I have been speaking and writing for some time. I think that Thomas' analysis, while skewed to the right, is also fundamentally correct; too infatuated with power, they sold their birthright for a mess of pottage, and received nothing in return. Now aging, fading, bereft of success, influence, or the possibility for a future role as the nation shifts its ideological and social perspective, the Christian Right has realized it must either change or die. It is changing, and the decline of hot-button cultural issues and the rise of broader social concerns - poverty, the environment, the genocide in Darfur are three areas I can pluck out of the top of my head - are indicative of a realization that there is a role for dedicated Christians, even conservative Christians in our social and political struggles. The broadening of the areas of concern, however, are leaving people like Kennedy, and Thomas, increasingly isolated.

As it has existed as a powerful force in the country for the past generation, I do believe the Christian Right is dying. As it will continue to exist as a changed force for social and civil justice in the future, however, there is much room for hope, and even for work between evangelical, conservative, and mainline Christian groups. That this changes the equations of power, especially the kinds of equations that have Jerry Falwell bragging about helping to elect Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Pat Robertson actually running for President in 1988, is all to the good.

This is something, again, that requires more scrutiny, examination, and careful consideration.

Political Journalism in an Age of Courtiers

One of the most useful tools for understanding our contemporary class of political journalists was offered years ago in a book too often dismissed, Voltaire's Bastards by Canadian author John Ralston Saul. By highlighting the role of courtiers in the court of King Louis XVI, Saul offered an historical analogy that opened up possibilities for understanding that might otherwise go unnoticed. Originally designed as a way to buffer the throne from sycophants, the intricate structure of servants and others around the king existed in order to force competition and concern among them, keeping their minds occupied with who was in, out, up, down rather than with the influence they might or might not have upon royal decision-making. The system was set up by a wise king, Louis XIV, but by the time the next-to-last royal, the murdered XVI of the same name came along, the system was self-perpetuating, easily manipulable by the very persons it was designed to manipulate.

While no historical analogy is perfect, this one does benefit from the opportunity to examine the actions of those whose concern is access to the powerful, and interpreting the actions of the powerful. The increasing fascination with the game of politics - not so much the horse-race mentality as it applies to election coverage, but the insiderism of too much of our punditry - is indicative not only of a dumbing down of our political discourse, but of the return of the courtier. By highlighting his or her access to various insiders and reporting on behind-the-scenes machinations with various levels of detail, these journalists feel they are a part of the game.

My own complaint about contemporary journalism is not one of ideology. It is, rather, a combination of a frustration with a certain type of elitism and the actions that smack of courtierism. Rather than professionals dedicated to doing a certain task, too many journalists combine a disdain for the intellectual capacity of their readers with an obsession for their own place in the political pecking order. They eschew serious policy discussions out of disdain, and stress the power-struggle out of their own sense of being players. The results, of course, are the abysmal daily pieces we read with tears in our eyes.

We would do ourselves a great favor if we discarded arguments from ideology in our criticism of the press. We should not borrow from the right some of the worse traits of "working the refs" (to borrow Eric Alterman's solicitous phrase). Rather, we should concentrate on new ways of thinking about the failures of the press, and what we can do, and should do, and are doing, to counter them. Part of that process is understanding that our political reporters are as enraptured of the powerful as anyone would be; it is our job to disabuse them of that trait, and demand better.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More Anti-Democracy: Mainstream Disdain For Liberal Bloggers

Eli at Fire Dog Lake writes here about a recent column by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait (which can be found here) and pulls out the following (read the whole thing for a good smack down on some salient points):
The notion that political punditry ought to, or even can, be constrained by intellectual honesty is deeply alien to the netroots. They have absorbed essentially the same critique of the intelligentsia that the right has been making for decades. In the conservative imagination, journalists, academics, and technocrats are liberal ideologues masquerading as dispassionate professionals. Those who claim to be detached from the political struggle are unaware of their biases, or hiding them.


The prevailing sentiment here, however, is not a distrust of pointy heads. Rather, it's a belief that political discourse ought to be judged solely by its real-world effects. The netroots consider the notion of pursuing truth for its own sake nonsensical. Their interest in ideas, and facts, is purely instrumental.

….To [Salon's Joan] Walsh and other journalists, the relevant metric is true versus untrue. To an activist, the relevant metric is politically helpful versus politically unhelpful.

There is a term for this sort of political discourse: propaganda. The word has a bad odor, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Propaganda is often true, and it can be deployed on behalf of a worthy cause (say, the fight against Nazism in World War II). Still, propaganda should not be confused with intellectual inquiry. Propagandists do not follow their logic wherever it may lead them; they are not interested in originality. Propaganda is an attempt to marshal arguments in order to create a specific real-world result–to win a political war.

There are so many things wrong with this particular bit from an article chock full of errors of fact, definition, and judgment, one wonders how it ever got published in a reputable periodical. Oh, wait, it was published in TNR, whose reputation is kind of on a slide isn't it . . .

Be that as it may, it reveals a failure to understand the way liberal bloggers operate. I have learned from the best out there, and so I not very humbly at all count myself among those to whom Chait ascribes such nefarious intellectual dishonesty. We care about ideas and real-world results not out of political expediency but because we recognize that politics is not a game, but a serious matter that should be dealt with seriously. Ideas are important because they shape action. Actions are important because they impact the real lives of real people. While many of those to whom I link and that I read are pretty explicitly liberal, progressive, whatever term of art one might to ascribe, what surprises me again and again is the attention to real-world detail - something Chait seems not to understand. We want to get it right, and we do this by linking (the internet equivalent of footnoting), and citing the real world to set the broader context for our observations. The real world is messy, of course, and as impervious to liberal and left-wing ideology as it is to right-wing ideology. The important point is, however, how steady the left-wing blogs are consistently correct not just on analysis but facts, and how consistently wrong is the right-wing of the blogosphere. Not just on analysis. They are wrong on the facts. Again and again and again and again.

Along with the incorrect assertion that somehow our chest-pounding is intellectually dishonest because we just want the Democrats to win elections, there is Chait's failure to note that the best of the best on the left of the internet are correct, again and again. This is a not unimportant point. To accuse the left of intellectual dishonesty, without noting the consistent intellectual dishonesty of the right-wing blogs, and right-wing journalists and politicians in general is itself dishonest. We aren't about ideology for its own sake. I can only ever speak for myself, so I will note for the record that my own concern is less with who gets elected as an end in itself, than with what those who are elected do to solve the multiple problems created by years of mismanagement, criminal behavior, and delusional rhetoric from Republican politicians. We in what atrios calls "left blogistan" see politics as a means to a public end - what it really is. Those on the right see politics as an end in itself, a big game, in which whoever wins can do whatever he or she wants because he or she is a winner. This kind of moral depravity results in the rape of our public life that has occurred roughly since the election of Ronald Reagan. We are slowly returning to the idea that (a) the public actually knows a thing or two our self-appointed elite minders don't; and (b) the public is actually ahead of our politicians on a variety of issues, so they need to be "followers" more than "leaders".

Chait's failure to understand that we liberal bloggers are serious about what we do, because we care about this country and the people who live here is just one more symptom of the kind of elite disdain for the polloi I wrote about in the post below. Chait, Klein, Broder, Friedman - the whole lot of those who sniff disapprovingly at those of us who are righteously and rightfully enraged by our current empty-headed public discourse - don't get it because at some basic level, they don't believe that politics is about anything else than winning an election or an argument. In this, they resemble Karl Rove, whose emblematic political insight is a "50% plus one" approach to politics. Winners are winners and losers can go suck eggs, essentially, which is why Broder and Lieberman (to name two) want Democrats and liberals to shut up about the war; you see, Bush and Lieberman himself both won, so we all need to be quiet until the next election, which is the only real opportunity (in their little pea-sized intellects) for people to express their political opinions.

For me, I'm just going to plug along here. Sorry, Jonathan Chait, but in the words of Owny Madden in Francis Ford Coppola's failed masterpiece The Cotton Club, "That bastard's time is just about up."

For more smackdown of Chait, click here to read atrios' take on Chait.

Right Wing Anti-Democracy (UPDATED)(UPDATED Again)

To the left, as advertised, is Thomas Sowell, he of the National Review, Stanford University, good friend of Justice Clarence Thomas, and frequent guest, at least in the 1990's, on G. Gordon Liddy's radio program (one knows a person by their friends, I am told . . .). Courtesy of this post at Think (which I saw last night, but had not time to write about) comes this piece from the aforementioned Thomas Sowell:
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.

As Kevin Drum notes, in a linked post in the original notice, this particular little non-thought is apropos of nothing, one among a laundry list of random musings from what passes for his mind.

Now, were this the only example from the past couple days of such insanity, I would chalk it up to the frustration of a moral and intellectual midget faced with stubborn reality not conforming to their ideology. Today, however, I read Glenn Greenwald's analysis of this piece by Harvard government professor Harvey Mansfield, at the Wall Street Journal. The piece, a Machiavellian analysis of the defects in American democracy as it currently exists (Mansfield has written extensively on Machiavelli, as well as the translator and editor of my own copy of Toqueville's Democracy in America) contains the following cheerful thoughts:
The best source of energy turns out to be the same as the best source of reason--one man. One man, or, to use Machiavelli's expression, uno solo, will be the greatest source of energy if he regards it as necessary to maintaining his own rule. Such a person will have the greatest incentive to be watchful, and to be both cruel and merciful in correct contrast and proportion. We are talking about Machiavelli's prince, the man whom in apparently unguarded moments he called a tyrant. . .

The president takes an oath "to execute the Office of President" of which only one function is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the military, makes treaties (with the Senate), and receives ambassadors. He has the power of pardon, a power with more than a whiff of prerogative for the sake of a public good that cannot be achieved, indeed that is endangered, by executing the laws. . . .

In quiet times the rule of law will come to the fore, and the executive can be weak. In stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong.

So, in the past two days, two prominent right-wing (pseudo) intellectuals publish articles that, in essence, attack democracy. I could be dismissive and say, "You know, this just shows how intellectually vapid and morally vicious right-wingers are," but that hardly does such frightening stuff justice. We are in the presence of the truly scary - the dismissal of democracy out of fear, either of terrorism or of democracy itself.

I was going to wait to write the following, but I think it is important to point out here that such anti-democratic musings are neither new nor limited to contemporary right-wingers. In the 1920's, The New Republic's founding editor Walter Lippmann wrote a small book entitled Public Opinion which has influenced elite thinking and discourse on American democracy ever since. Lippmann was frustrated and disillusioned with the Wilson Administration's failures during and after the First World War to mount a successful propaganda effort. He had been all in favor of the Sedition Act, the Palmer raids, the jailing of anti-war and anti-draft leaders; his complaint was that Wilson had not been vigorous enough in galvanizing public opinion to the cause. The result of his disillusion was his little book, which stated explicitly what too many people bleat nonsensically to this day - the American people are stupid sheep, needing a wise sheepdog and shepherd to guide them towards rational policy and political decision-making; democracy is much too inefficient to be left with the polloi and the lumpenproletariat who make up the country, so, just as Taylor had revolutionized industry with his managerial theories, Lippmann sought to revolutionize democracy with his own political Taylorism. Of course, for Lippmann, good friend and classmate of Marxist John Reed, office assistant to Lincoln Steffens when the Socialist was elected mayor of Schenectady, NY, this was nothing less than applying Lenin's reappraisal of Marx to American democracy. Both are elitist, inherently authoritarian, and anti-democratic. We have been suffering from the failed theories of Lippmann ever since, and both Mansfield and Sowell are direct descendants of this whole anti-democratic strain among our elites. David Broder suffers from the same illness, and is part of the reason he is such an insufferably irrelevant twit - he has neither the learning nor insight to hide his disdain for real Americans, even as he tries so desperately to speak to them.

As the Bush Presidency crumbles around us, as the ideological and practical supports collapse under the multiple strains of reality and public pressure, we will in all likelihood read and hear more of this kind of dangerous talk. It is incumbent upon all of us to demand more, and more, and even more democracy - more speech, more protest, more Congressional oversight - to counter the anti-democratic tendencies among our current ruling elites. The only ones who will defend democracy are, in the end, the people.

UPDATE: So I saw this post by tristero over at Hullabaloo, with a slightly different perspective from that of the Glenn Greenwald piece linked above. I am forced to agree with tristero, much as I have a man-crush on Greenwald, because the truth is, Mansfield's writing and thinking wouldn't pass an undergraduate survey class in political theory. They are conduct unbecoming an alleged intellectual at one of our finer institutions for educating our young. If this is the kind of thing Mansfield presents his classes, is it any wonder our political class is so messed up?

One point tristero makes, with gusto, that I just want to echo is the following - if this (and, by my own extension, Sowell) is the best conservatives can do in the guise of intellectual discourse, I have to say that right-wingers need to go back and read Edmund Burke, perhaps the last coherent conservative intellectual. Whether it's the anti-realistic hackery of Milton Friedman, the mind-numbing stupidity of Russell Kirk, or the gross lame-brainedness of Sowell and Mansfield on display today, these folks just can't hack it. I once read somewhere that Americans are infatuated with, and intimidated by, three letters more than any other: Ph.D. The problem, of course, is all that means is the individual knows how to negotiate certain hoops and curves and mazes of academe. Earning the title "Doctor" by know means indicates intelligence; some of the most outrageously stupid, inane people I have ever met were college professors, which is why I decided against becoming one. It seems the dumb ones were always in charge of the department.

We shouldn't be intimidated by Sowell's credentials or Mansfield's cv. Rather, we should just tear them apart if they are erroneous, full of it, lying, irritating, illogical, and just plain not of this earth (I loved tristero's comment about "the real United States" not "the United States in the galaxy Glorm"; that's the kind of takedown one always enjoys). Having a Ph.D. is not inoculation against stupidity, it just means your stupidity has more authority than other people's.

UPDATE: Specifically in regards to the remark of Thomas Sowell, I want to make clear that the lack of serious thought, the intellectual vacuousness, and political and moral viciousness inherent in such a statement clearly show that he is not so much in a line running back to Lippmann, as he is in a line running back to Joseph McCarthy. Fearful of real democracy, its messiness, the multi-various, multi-faceted nature of American society, and its expression in our public discourse, Sowell is expressing an inherent disdain for democracy precisely because he seeks to be rescued from having to defend himself in public. His ideas, and those of his fellow conservatives, are without serious intellectual or moral merit. Rather than face the truth that progressive ideas are succeeding precisely because they are successful, he would stifle debate to end the shame of having to face his own intellectual and moral shortcomings. At heart, Sowell is a coward. Should I ever meet him face to face, I would be more than happy to say so.

Just for fun . . .

Goat, he of the barnyard, and he who is all concerned about his technorati ranking, is being a tad petulant. I just thought I would check something out, so here are the technorati rankings for, first, his blog, followed by my own humble offering to the universe:
Goats Barn Yard - 443,651
What's Left in the Church - 269,251
What's rich about this is, of course, I couldn't care less about my technorati ranking. I put this up just to kind of say, "Ah, irony is lost on the stupid."

Not very Christian? I still love him like a brother. He just needs to stop competing with everyone, especially against those who will always beat him.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Humor - NSFNPT (Not Safe for Neon Prime Time)

I needed a laugh today, so I went looking and found George Carlin's "Fuck the Children":
Should NPT find this, I think he would continue to call me a "Christian shock jock". Actually, since I didn't post the "Religion is Bullshit" bit, or the one where Carlin carves the Ten Commandments apart, I think he should be grateful. I got a laugh form this because, well, Carlin is right about this, as well as funny. Enjoy

Beauty - Web Club Pimping

About a year ago, around the time I started blogging, I ran across Webclub, from Portugal. With only an occasional foray into prose and political topics, the site is dedicated to poetry and photography, usually of an erotic nature. The beauty and power of the juxtaposition of photographs and words, the eye and ear for truth, combine to make this a daily visit. Today, in light of my previous post, I wanted to make sure you visit the site, and let Wind and Jacky know who sent you. We need to know that there is beauty in the world, as well as horror. We need to remember that love is more powerful than death (in the words of the Song of Songs, words that were the scripture read at our wedding one-week-shy-of-fourteen-years-ago). We all need to thank Wind for giving us a bit of light and love and beauty and warmth to help us get through these days that seem overwhelming with horror.

The site is in Portuguese, with rough translation from our friend Babelfish.

Photo: Stanmarek


This photo is horrific. Courtesy of, it is of an Iraqi boy whose body was left to rot on top of a pile of rubble. We need to see the horrors we have wrought in the name of liberating the Iraqis, of democratizing the Middle East, and in the name of fighting them over there rather than over here. We have been exposed to too much nonsense and not enough grim reality (speaking of grim reality, if you are upset by that photo, you might not want to click the link, because has photos to make even the strongest stomach lurch and the bravest heart break).

On this, the fourth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished", perhaps we need to remember that, for too many, the mission has not been accomplished; in fact, no one is quite sure what the mission is. The only thing too many see are scenes like the one above.

We need to see them. We need to put them in our minds and remember them. We are responsible for this boy's death. We carry the burden of this horror in our lives, whether we support Bush or not, because we cannot divorce ourselves from responsibility out of political expedience.

Monday, April 30, 2007

In Case I Miss It Tomorrow . . .

Happy Anniversary, George.

Music Monday

While most of the music to which I listened as a child and youth has disappeared in the wake of much better music to which I have been exposed, one band that I still cherish from the 1970's in a non-cheesy way (which is the way I appreciate Black Sabbath and Judas Priest; it's all good fun and not too serious at all) is Kansas. While too often lumped with Styx, REO Speedwagon, and other stadium rock bands from the late 1970's, Kansas was different in a number of ways. Unlike Styx, their songs were much better, much more interesting, and not at all laughably horrible as, for example, "Come Sail Away". They were both musically trained and unselfconscious enough to just "do what they do" without a whole lot of muss and fuss. Finally, in Kerry Livgren, they had perhaps the best songwriter in America in the mid-1970's. He wrote for his bandmates, and they responded by pushing the boundaries between rock, progressive rock, and country music. In Jeff Glixman, they had a seventh member who knew them, understood them, and managed, most of the time, to produce albums of superb quality (I think the production values on Point of Know Return slipped a bit; the album is a bit, um, muddy, although my CD copy is not remastered). First, from the album Masque is the song "The Pinnacle":

Not my favorite song of theirs, but here's "Play the Game Tonight":

Finally, from Somewhere to Elsewhere, the Kerry Livgren song "Distant Vision":

Incidentally, if Goat was wondering, I first got in to Kansas in the 1970's. Again, not a new discovery. Wanker.

Metaposting II

In the past month or so, I have been taken to task for using dirty words and for putting up pictures of naked women (although, funny enough, not a picture of a naked man!). My wife has questioned my use of foul language, continuing to insist it is unnecessary and more than occasionally counter-productive. A beautiful photograph of a nude women with an apple resting on her closed thighs caused more of a fuss than the post I wrote that the photograph was supposed to illustrate. Most of all, my wife continues to ask me when I am going to post more on "Christian stuff". I think that is a fair question, and this post is an answer to that question. Again, if this whole meta stuff bores you, the exit button is right up top and feel free to use it.

First and foremost, everything I write here, every picture I pluck out of the intertubes, every video that I find at YouTube comes from my beliefs as a Christian. My faith is central to my identity as an individual, as a husband/father, an employee, and a blogger. I find it extremely boring, however, to constantly invoke Jesus' name all the time, or get in to all sorts of discussions over abstruse theological topics all the time. I enjoy it on occasion, but my interests are broader than that. More to the point, I do not believe that I have to bring up Jesus' name, or call on God all the time to somehow "prove" to other people that I am a Christian. In fact, I do not feel I have to "prove" my faith to anyone at all.

Several years ago, maybe more than a decade ago, Tex Sample, a now-emeritus-professor at Kansas City's St. Paul's School of Theology wrote a book called Hard Living People and Mainstream Christians. In the introduction to that book, Sample wrote that he chose "hard living people" as a catch-all term for those commonly referred to as "working-class", but also by less neutral terms such as "poor white trash", "trailer trash", etc. He also issued a warning that the book contained some pretty strong language. He kept the language in the book because it was honest, and the Church does no one any favors when it becomes dishonest in the name of propriety. Remember, we proclaim the resurrection of a man who spent a whole lot of time eating and talking with prostitutes, drunks, lepers, and other undesirables; does anyone here think Jesus fainted when he heard the 1st century equivalent of "fuck"?

The Church preaches, and seminary professors drill in to the soft heads of seminarians, the idea that we should be out there in the world, meeting people where they are, speaking in their languages (whether it's Urdu or street slang), not just as "missionaries" but as participants in their lives. I write what I write, post what I post, because this is who I am as a Christian. My view of the faith is that God is bigger than doctrine, bigger than any denominational utterance or proclamation, bigger than all the would-be monitors of civility out there who insist that we not upset others by dirty words and titillating pictures. I find it amazing that I have to actually write this, but let me be clear. My faith includes the fact that the world is a nasty, dirty place where there are few clear lines of what is good and what is evil, and we make it up as we go along, hoping for the best but recognizing the worst. If others' sensibilities are given affront by the occasional four-letter expletive, all I can say is, "This is my world, welcome to it."

The Church has utterly failed in its responsibilities to actually live in the world if it thinks part of its duty is to give to others an instruction manual in living their lives, with details on dress, language, etiquette, and so forth. We should be listening, not talking; observing, not giving out manuals for how to observe; and learning rather than teaching. For far too long we have arrogated unto ourselves the position of cultural and social nanny. I would much rather learn from others, most especially those of other faiths and those of no faith, than I would tell them how wrong they are about pretty much everything. Of course, I reserve the right to make sure my own position on the faith is clear, especially when I think others are wrong about various matters that pertain to the faith, but that is just the way it is sometimes. People disagree. We should all be big boys and girls out here; I treat others as adults, not children, and expect nothing less from them. I can take criticism, even pointed, heated disagreement. I refuse to be a moral arbiter, however, because that is not the role of the Christian in society, regardless of what some progressive Christians think (please read Jim Wallis here).

This blog is an accurate representation at any given time of what this particular Christian thinks and believes about politics, the faith, social issues, cultural issues, art, music, science, philosophy - all the things that interest me. If you think I am wrong, by all means let me know. Understand, however, that I have no interest in quoting the Bible in every post to prove that I am a Christian. That's not me, never has been me, and will never be me. For those who think I am not explicitly Christian, all I can say is that I am most explicitly me, and as I am a Christian, there you go. I am following my heart in all this, and trust God to make up for any and all shortcomings I may have. That's what is known as "having faith".

Metaposting I

It's nice to have a day where I can ignore most of what is going on in the rest of the world and do some blog-house-cleaning and spend a moment on larger issues. Perhaps you have noticed to the right that I have removed some links. I realized last week that these sites simply don't merit my attention; I just don't go to them and they clog my blogroll. There are others I may (or may not) add at other times, but right now, just having a shorter list will make all our lives easier.

I think I have wasted a lot of people's time writing about "why I do what I do", so if you are tired of reading that stuff, you can skip this part, but comments both here and and Park Life's blog by former blogroller Goat (since I removed the link to the side, why would I provide one here?) have given me a reason to make one point abundantly clear. In comments over at Park Life's place, Goat gloats about his technorati rating (something I have neither the time nor interest in verifying) being higher than Park Life's. In his mind, as I pointed out and he confirmed, this is all a contest, and by his standards, he is "winning". Except, of course, the "contest" only exists in his vacuous mind. Both PL and I called him pathetic, and while that might seem harsh, it is also accurate. Sitting around and figuring up who's up, who's down, who's in, who's out - you know what, I have limited time to do this as it is, and I have no interest at all in worrying over whether I have a higher or lower ranking than anyone else. I have a small, but pretty dedicated, readership, and we all kind of visit one another and comment and converse and it's all good in the end because, you know what, that's what it is all about. We share ideas. We argue. We disagree. We agree. I have learned a whole lot from my fellow bloggers Park Life and Democracy Lover and Neon Prime Time and Erudite Redneck, why would I want to try and figure out who is "more popular"? This isn't high school, and I for one am long past caring what others think.

In a comment in a previous post, Goat asks why I don't read different blogs than those I quote from. The answer is simple - the blogs and sites to which I link, which I read, and from which I learn so much are my lifeline to the world. When my family finally broke down and entered the 21st century last year, I was amazed and pleased to discover that there were people and groups and websites out there that thought about the world the same way I did, expressed opinions about the world in similar terms, and provided and antidote to the toxic falsehoods of our mainstream media. I rely upon these sites to provide me information I trust, opinions that make me think, and a grasp upon reality that is too often missing from our traditional media. I have limited time doing what I do, so why in the world would I waste my time with websites and weblogs that do not provide accurate information, insightful or thoughtful opinion, or a relief from the nonsense in the press?

This isn't a popularity contest, a race, or anything else. If Goat wants to prance around on his little hooves and claim to "win", why by all means let him, because it is meaningless. Besides, I think I just reduced his technorati ranking a bit. . . .

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Condoleeza "Mushroom Cloud" Rice, Pre-emptive Strikes, and Lies

First, a musical tribute to Secretary of State Rice, courtesy of Tool ("Eulogy", oddly enough bootlegged on September 24, 2001 in Wilkes-Barre, PA):

Secretary Rice was all over the Sunday gabfests, trying to stem the eventual tide of questions sure to come because of George Tenet's new book. Of course, the attacks on his character and such will follow soon enough as well; for now, it was enough to put on Rice to dispel some of the obvious questions that may arise as Tenet's book comes out.

One of those questions concerns Tenet's claim that he advocated a strike against Al Qaeda and Bin Laden in the summer of 2001. Over at Crooks & Liars they have video and transcript, from which I borrow the following:
SCHIEFFER: So, what he is saying is that you just sort of brushed him off. […] Well, why would he say something like that?

RICE: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that.(emphasis added)

[C&L commentary] Apparently responding to the Cole bombing — after it was traced back to bin Laden — wasn't on the Bush administration's radar. Then again, it seems the Bushies didn't take seriously Tenet's Aug 6 PDB that warned about imminent al-Qaeda attacks either. But can you really blame them? The PDB only warned of potential attacks in the United States (possibly NYC) using hijacked airplanes. That kind of vague intelligence is hard to work with.

Remember when we approaching Doomsday because of all the scary horrors that didn't exist in Saddam's arsenal? Remember how she warned that "not acting" could lead to a mushroom cloud over one of our cities? Funny enough, not acting resulted in something very much like that, because we didn't act against Bin Laden and 3000 people lost their lives in September, 2001. We had to act, and act now against a non-existent threat. Perhaps because we didn't strike pre-emptively against a threat for which we had all sorts of information? Maybe Rice should use that line, instead of just . . .


Proof That I'm Right - Proof That They Are Beyond Parody & Satire (UPDATED with link to and quote from Digby)

First, allow me to quote me. From this post a couple weeks ago, that got more attention for the photo at the top than for its content:
For centuries, sexual freedom was a male prerogative. Women were the objects of male sexuality, quite often nameless, faceless, non-persons who were walking masturbation aids.

The resignation of Randall Tobias because of revelations he was using a DC escort service for massages, included the following (courtesy of Think Progress):
On Friday, Ross broke the news that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias had frequented the escort service. Ross added new details to that story tonight, recounting how he asked Tobias in a telephone interview “if he knew any of the young women, their names. He said he didn’t remember them at all. He said it was like ordering pizza.”(emphasis added)

There is more delicious - or disgusting - schadenfreude (which, as I have said before, is German for "Neener-neener-boo-boo! I'm right You're Wrong!") over the fact that, as director of US AID, he had all sorts of programs directed at reducing HIV-AIDS and the world-wide traffic in women as sex-workers. The point is driven home with the appropriate level of rage, disgust, and resignation by Josh Marshall here:
But let me clip out just a couple grafs from Brian Ross's and Justin Rood's piece at ABC's The Blotter that show just how richly obscene (and not in the sense most people think) this story really is ...

On Thursday, Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the "Pamela Martin and Associates" escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex," and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.

Another service "with Central Americans." That's what he's using now. This is the guy in charge of America's international aid and development assistance to countries around the world. ("I was using one service that sent Thai broads. Now I get 'em to send Central Americans.") I'm glad this bozo is showing our best face to the world and clearing up any misunderstandings about exploiting people in the Third World.(emphasis added)

If I hear or read a single Bush defender talk or write about the morality of the Bush Administration over and against that of the Clinton Administration; if I hear or read one little item about how this cannot compare to the horror of Clinton getting blown in the Oval Office by an intern; if I hear or read anything about how this is an isolated instance of the lack of judgment and discretion on the part of a single official etcetera etcetera blah blah blah - I swear the top of my head will pop off, spin around, and land at my feet.

I am neither naive nor stupid enough to think that this kind of thing didn't happen during the Clinton Administration (or any Administration going back to, say, John Adams). To have the man who is in charge of directing programs aimed at reducing STDs, HIV-AIDS, and human sex-worker trafficking switching from a high-rent escort service to one using "Central Americans" describe the entire process as akin to "ordering pizza" is about as vile and morally repugnant as it gets.

For my conservative friends who might want to buy Tobias' claims that "no sex" was involved, I shall be explicit here. No sex was involved in the same way no sex was involved in the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, i.e., no sexual intercourse. Massage escorts routinely provide manual or oral sex for their clients; why call one of them when there are reputable massage therapists available?

I'm still stuck on how RIGHT I was. A couple weeks ago I talk about how the powerful do not consider these women as people; this weekend, a Bush Administration flak discusses these fleeting encounters as similar to ordering pizza.

Am I good, or what?

UPDATE: I guess I wasn't clear enough about my own views of the whole Tobias and the call girl thing. I am not critical of Tobias for acting as all of us (and here I would disagree with my big-as-in-oldest sister, because I know more than a few women who have succumbed to temptations of the flesh; the difference of course is that women have much less power in this and all societies, so there is less of a systemic problem with the dehumanization of men by women than vice-versa) have on occasion. I am not quite a libertarian as either Duncan at Eschaton or digby tend to be, if for no other reason than this happens to be further evidence (as if any were needed) that the members of the Bush Administration just happen to believe the rules do not apply to them. Tobias can scream about the dangers of pre-marital sex and the horrors of sexual-slavery-for-profit, but he spends his government salary getting massages first from high-end escorts (some of whom, at least according to first reports, are part-timers, professional women apparently looking to pick up some tax-free cash giving hand jobs to the powerful), then switching to a service that uses "Central Americans".

Part of the point I wish to emphasize here is made better (as usual) by digby in the post linked above:
[Quote from Tobias] In many cases [HIV-AIDS] is driven by cultural factors, where young girls are having sex with older men and [are] coerced to do that, where women aren't regarded as equal citizens with men. So there are lots of things that need to be done addressing those kinds of cultural issues also.

[digby] From what we hear, the main prostitution ring may have been made up of skilled and educated women who chose to be call girls for a variety of their own reasons. This is none of my business and if politicans and others have not been out there preaching sexual morality on Fridays and getting happy endings on Saturday then I don't see that it's anybody elses business either.

Exploiting illegal immigrants or poor women is another thing altogether. Indeed, it is, as Tobias himself said, a matter of coercion and if he had anything to do with something like that he should be in much deeper trouble than just patronizing a call girl agency for a little extra-curricular massage. It's possible, of course, that this Central American "service" is also made up of young professional women who are making some extra cash on the side, in which case I make no judgment beyond his rank, laughable hypocrisy on the faithfulness and abstinence issue. But let's just say I'm skeptical. That "cultural issue" he talks about is pretty universal, but you would expect that the man who has been all over the globe and seen the results of such exploitation would have been cured of his taste for third world masseuses.

Along with the sexual slavery, as I highlighted above, is the whole "ordering pizza" line. Whether they are part-timers looking for extra bucks putting the powerful in the palms of their hands, or American and or other nationals coerced into sexual slavery is of little difference to Tobias, because he views them on a level with take-out (funny, considering what they were taking out of him). I think we need to consider this line as instructive for how not just Tobias, but most men view women-not-their-significant-others with whom they want a little personal time, paid for or not. It's an insight into the minds of the very powerful towards the less powerful. It's a view into the mind of a man, pretty representative of a certain class of men, towards women.

Some Quick Information for Goat, Who Is Ignorant

I had some fun the other day, looking up videos and such and putting them here. First, I put up three videos from bands I consider important heavy metal bands, one of which, Metallica, I happened to listen to frequently until they started to suck. The later post was to show that I know a bit more about heavy metal than just the bands everyone else knows about. Napalm Death is only important to me because they were instrumental in working for one of my favorite bands, Dream Theater. Nuclear Assault was one of the first thrash metal bands I heard that was both intelligent and political (a mid-'80's song of theirs that I liked at the time was "Think for yourself"; kind of sums it all up for me). Iced Earth I put up because . . . well, because frankly they are everything that I think is wrong with heavy metal today. Ripping off Iron Maiden (why would anyone do that anyway?) and penning really bad songs that are WAAAAAYYYYY too long . . . Excuse me while I snore. Incidentally, I was going to post Manowar, but they suck even more. Gwar . . . ugh! Who could possibly even take them as a joke? My point was to have fun, and to recognize that these bands, while hardly musical in the ways the recently-late Rostropovich was musical, have certain merits (except for Iced Earth, who just have a lead singer with really long hair) within the context of heavy metal. It is what it is, and shouldn't be taken too seriously at all.

Goat wants to challenge me musically. Fine, I'll take on most people (except for Jim Bush-Resko, who taught me more about music, and music appreciation than anyone else in my life), but don't post something which shows that you didn't even take the time to read my comments on the videos I was posting. Goat, you posted "LMAO" after writing that "you have just discovered" Metallica. Of course, I did not "just discover" them, and I didn't so much laugh my ass off at you, as shake my head at your utter ignorance and stupidity.

To quote your President, Goat, "Bring it on." Any time, any place, just give me a moment each time to rifle through my 400 or so CDs to get what I need and I'll be there.

Virtual Tin Cup

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