Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Fundie I Like

Courtesy of Pastordan.

Saturday Rock Show

In 1988, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe got together and put out a beautiful record. Touring under the name ABWH for legal reasons, their shows were called "An Evening of Yes Music Plus". The shows began with solo performances by Anderson, Howe, and Wakeman, with Bruford doing a short electronic drum solo before breaking into "Long Distance Runaround". Rick Wakeman's solo consisted of him playing a medley from his early- and mid-70's solo albums. I want to emphasize that the middle synthesizer solo is not sped up in any way. As a sometime musician myself, this is the kind of thing that makes me just gape.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More Prayers

Just received word. Little Kaitlyn Weber, who I wrote about here, is at peace.

Please remember Chris and Kristina in you prayers and thoughts. The world is a little poorer now, but it is still a better place because she lived.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh My Freaking God

If I lived in Washington, I would despair of getting any non-stupid news. On the one side, you have Fred Hiatt's Post, which refuses to apologize for George Will's erroneous column on global warming (h/t Matt Yglesias).

On the other side you have the Times complaining that a President of the United States is appearing for photo-ops surrounded by . . . American flags (h/t, Oliver Willis).
Oh, say - can you see? Look. It’s President Obama, and he’s surrounded by American flags.

They’re on the dais in star-spangled glory. They’re at the town-hall meeting and the news conference, in bold folds of red, white and blue. The White House has rediscovered - or possibly reinvented - the patriotic cachet of Old Glory as a perfect frame for the new president.

That’s the same president who once would not wear an American flag pin. Things have changed.

Is it any wonder the folks who are running things, and reporting on those who run them, are so out of touch (h/t, Daily Kos and TPM)?

Portraits of Broken Politics

In California, the entire system is so messed up one or two state Senators can hold the entire state budget process hostage. The fact that all the state Senate Republicans have signed pledges refusing to raise taxes - it's not just ludicrous. This is insanity. While there are many principles one can consider upholding in politics, every legislator needs to keep some perspective. With the 2/3 requirement for state budgets to pass, we have a situation where everything will grind to a halt because some people believe that principles are more important than people.

Now, in Illinois, it seems that our new Senator, Roland Burris, may not have been as candid as he could have been when he appeared before a state House impeachment panel last month. Of course, it all comes down to semantics, considering the way the question was worded. Also, one needs to remember that there probably isn't a prominent Democrat in the state untouched by the Blagojevich machine, with the possible exceptions of Sen. Richard Durbin, Pres. Obama, state Senate President Emil Jones, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan (the Speaker's daughter). Blagojevich was nothing if not thorough (For the record, I did not vote for Blagojevich either time he ran; after doing some reading up on him before the Democratic primary, I avoided him like the plague). All that means is that we are left in the uncomfortable position of having a Senator tainted by Blago's dirt, and a huge airing of the way politics in the age of Blagojevich was done during the past six years in Illinois. The sad thing, of course, is that our dirty politics were a Democratic thing, which may just make the party toxic in most of the state. At a time when the Republicans were on the outs statewide, this is not a good thing; our alternatives are pretty thin on the ground.

These two object lessons in the brokenness of state politics should be reminders that we still have a long way to go to get this whole democracy thing right.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Prayers, Please

If this doesn't break your heart and make you rage at a Universe so unfeeling, then you aren't alive.
The doctors agreed that despite their best (and often WAY outside the box) efforts, Kaitlyn's overall condition hadn't gotten any better over the past few months. If anything, it had gotten worse. Several of the treatements that the doctors had used in the past to get her through tough times simply didn't work for Kaitlyn anymore. It seems that Kaitlyn is telling us that she is tired and needs rest. Although it was difficult to do, we decided that the best thing for Kaitlyn was to keep her comfortable and let God's will be done.

Kaitlyn has been a fighter since the day she was born. She has her parents, who have sacrificed so much. The doctors, too, have gone well above and beyond for her. Her church family has done all it could. Her pastor, well, I guess you know what I'll say about that . . .

I don't know what else to say. Pray for Kaitlyn, for her parents Chris and Kristina, her extended family. And you know what? Be thankful for her life. I don't know if I could have continued fighting as long and as hard as she has. Whatever the outcome, the world is a better place, a little brighter, because Kaitlyn Weber is in it.

J. D. Hayworth Is Nuts

Just watch this video of former Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth go all Protocols of the Elders of Soros on Chris Matthews.

And people wonder why I say Republicans don't deserve to govern . . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

One For The Answer Man

Marshall seems to just have it all down. So, I'll toss him something and see what he does with it.

You are a pastor. You have been asked by a young couple to join them, their family, and their doctors, to explore options for a child the young couple had, prematurely, a few months back. The child has had many problems, some surgeries, and has been diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating physical condition the relief of which is necessary but normal relief will result in catastrophic physical collapse. In other words, the options are - do something, and your child dies in pain; do nothing, except ameliorative care, and your child dies comfortably. In either case, the result is the same. In the first case, the death may be postponed, perhaps by weeks or months, as different options are attempted. In the second case, it may be a few days to a few weeks.

Please, Marshall, I would like to know your feelings. Not what you would tell these people to do (although I am quite sure you would). I just want to know what you might do given this situation.

Music For Your Monday

I dearly love musicians whose talent is so extreme, they defy any categorization. I love it even more when they create music so beautiful it seems transcendent. I love it the most when it is done on instruments that seems to defy easy playing. We are moving from the vaguely understood to the bizarre today, starting with a Steve Howe 12-string guitar solo, which he ended up recording for GTR's only record in the mid-1980's. "Sketches in the Sun":

I first saw Andy McKee on C&L's Late Nite Music Club, and this song made me tear up the first, oh, ten times I heard it. It is so beautiful. McKee is playing a harp guitar here. This is "Into the Ocean".

Finally, we have Pat Metheny playing something called a Pikasso guitar. My only guess as to the name is that it seems to defy perspective just as Picasso's paintings did. While I think it safe to say that many a critic would call such playing self-indulgent, I think they're just refusing to admit they couldn't do this if they studied for years. An improvisation, no less.

Next week, Sarah Vaughan. . .

George Will Needs To Stick To Baseball

I don't read him, usually, out of a sense of self-preservation. Apparently, in his column over the weekend, Will attempted to use scientific data to show that global warming isn't real.

The sources for his data, however, made it clear pretty quickly that he was so full of crap his eyes were brown.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Aftermath (UPDATE) has a nice article by Ben Smith that counters so much Beltway chatter and its weird view that Barack Obama is somehow a much weakened figure in the wake of the three-week long struggle with obstructionist Republicans over the stimulus package.
With Barack Obama’s victory in passing a massive stimulus package marred by days of bad press — as not a single House Republican backed the bill, his health czar went down in flames and his second pick for commerce secretary walked away — the administration has been cut down to size, and lost some of its bipartisan sheen.

Such, at least, has been the beltway chatter, but so far the numbers don’t back it up.

Obama’s approval rating remains well above 60 percent in tracking polls. A range of state pollsters said they’d seen no diminution in the president’s sky-high approval ratings, and no improvement in congressional Republicans’ dismal numbers.

While the Republicans have been positioning themselves as "the opposition", playing to their fiscally conservative base, Barack Obama has managed to keep his base, the majority of the American people, behind him.
With the stimulus safely passed, they say they’re relying on the steady support of a populace that, after a closely watched election, is tuning out the Washington cut and thrust, and views Obama as a high-minded reformer and his Republican rivals as bitter partisans.

“You shouldn’t judge his success in reaching out by the vote count in either chamber of Congress — you’ve really got to judge it based more on what people in the country are thinking and saying,” said John Del Cecato, a media adviser to Obama’s campaign and former partner of Obama aide David Axelrod.

In other words, the tactic of shaping the terms of discussion that has served the Republicans so well, especially since the Reagan years, no longer works. The reality, despite the best efforts of Republicans, is sifting through the spin and endless gab.

With the signing of the bill set for Tuesday, it seems the Republicans may have to rethink their strategy of disowning the stimulus package, handing responsibility for it over to the Democrats. If they want to remain a viable major party, that is.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one whose noticed this article. Jane Hamsher has:
[C}ontrary to beltway opinion, the Republicans are getting hammered. While the Republican Party has only had a net change of -2, those directly involved in the stimulus battle are taking huge hits: McConnell and Boehner at -11, and the Congressional Republicans who are getting such applause from the beltway denizens score a -10.

So has Jonathan Singer at MyDD:
Perhaps more than ever, there is a real divide between what the chattering class inside the Beltway is saying and what the people of this country are saying. We saw the beginnings of this during the campaign, when despite the fact that John McCain was deemed to be winning the news cycles -- indeed, his campaign seemed to care more about winning "Hardball" than it did about reaching 270 electoral votes -- Barack Obama nevertheless continued to lead in the polls, both nationwide and in the key states. Now we're seeing it again, as the establishment media focuses on the less meaningful back and forth while at the same time overlooking the larger picture being grasped by the public -- that is that President Obama is succeeding, in terms of both moving forward his policy agenda and bringing two-thirds of the country along with him in his effort.

And, of course, Duncan sums it up, both pithily and profanely:
I really do wonder what it would take for the Villagers to realize people don't like Republicans and their stupid shit anymore.

"No one is sure about anything in Afghanistan these days."

In contrast to Friday's piece by Max Boot, it was refreshing to read the above sentence in this article in the Post's "Outlook" section. While Boot's article was almost a caricature of swaggering ignorance, Edward Joseph, from Johns Hopkins University, seemed not just tentative, but hardly able to grapple with the complexities on the ground in Afghanistan.
The breadth of disagreement is startling: Some say that nation-building is a mistake; others believe that it is the only way to defeat the Taliban-led insurgency. One U.S. official told me that we should stop trying to push democratic institutions on a country with such a strong tribal culture, while an equally savvy Afghan American insisted just the opposite. Women's rights activists begged for our support, saying that they feared for their lives, but tribal leaders demanded that they be left alone to deal with their women as they see fit. "We are tribal people, and we don't need your women's programs," one declared. Unlike Iraqis and Bosnians, Afghans can't even agree on whether ethnic divisions still exist in their country or whether they are the invention of ferangi -- meddlesome foreigners.

All this confusion over such fundamental questions vastly complicates Washington's efforts at developing an effective policy toward Afghanistan.

Wherever we went, from chilly government offices to mud-walled village homes, I would bluntly ask Afghans what we foreigners are doing wrong. Some said that we were killing too many civilians. Others said that we were destroying too many villages and should really be guarding the border with Pakistan. Still others insisted that we'd "picked" the wrong people to run the country.

The last sentence is a nice counter to Boot's insistence that, regardless of the feelings of the people, we make sure we leave Hamid Karzai in power in Afghanistan.

Joseph describes discussions with Afghans, as he pointed out the infrastructure the Americans are building (in contrast to the Republican insistence that we shouldn't do anything of the sort here, by the way . . .), and one pointed out to him that the Russians did the same thing, and the Afghans still chased them out.

Joseph's article ends as it began - in a mixture of confusion and ignorance, which has been the way most have felt after dealing with the Afghan people, since Alexander the Great was stopped by them before he could cross the Hindu Kush in to the Indus River Valley.

I suppose that fact is usually forgotten. The Afghans don't like foreigners. Period. Even if they are ruled badly, or even malignantly, they much prefer the malignancy of their own people to the benevolence of outsiders.

It is nice to read an American admit ignorance. Maybe we should act out of ignorance, as well.

Virtual Tin Cup

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