Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Videos #4 - The Final Chapter

You'll notice that I mostly avoided heavy metal - the horror-movie element is pretty obvious throughout the genre. That being said, I thought Rob Zombie's "Hellbilly Deluxe" was one of the all-time great albums.

The video could have been helped by a higher production budget, though.

Now, the Squirrel Nut Zippers put out an album in 1998 called Perennial Favorites, which had no real hits, but a video in the style of the old Max Fleischer (Betty Boop) cartoons.


And finally, this Halloween season, we have a song which almost everybody knows, happily screamed by children for decades now. Literally decades - it was twenty-six years ago (crap, I don't feel old...) that they released the first movie (or the first step to creating a multi-media franchise, depending on how you look at it), Ghostbusters

This is another video you may never have seen. It was released along with the movie, but has never been packaged with DVD releases, because shortly after the movie came out, Huey Lewis (of "Huey Lewis and the News," who had a video in my previous entry in this series) sued Ray Parker, Jr., for plagiarizing "I Want a New Drug," which had been a hit earlier that same year.

They settled out of court, on the agreement that neither one would mention it ever again. Which is why Ray Parker then sued Huey Lewis in 2001 for mentioning it on VH1's Behind the Music - karma is a motherfucker.

It's good that nobody clued in the British pop group "M" in on the possibilities - they could have sued Huey Lewis for lifting from their song Pop Muzik. And on back into history, as several other people have used that theme, or one like it. (This is all explained in a short story by Spider Robinson called Melancholy Elephants.)

The video, like the movie that spawned it, was directed by Ivan Reitman, and had cameos by a bunch of celebrities who'd had no part in the movie, like Chevy Chase, Irene Cara, John Candy, Al Franken, Danny DeVito, and several other New York based stars.

The model, in case you're curious, was Cindy Harrell, a young model and actress who worked primarily in commercials, but with a number of TV and movie rolls, for almost a decade, from 1980 through 1988. She's now a wife, mother of two, and activist, working on education, the environment, and national security: she was one of the driving forces in procuring $25 million in government funding to launch and expand the UCLA High Speed, High Volume Laboratory Network for Infectious Diseases, which helps the Department of Homeland Security on bioterrorism issues. (It must be nice to be married to a studio executive, and able to afford to be a mother and activist...)

Ray Parker, incidentally, said that he wrote the song in two days (Huey Lewis, interestingly, had been approached to write the theme song, but bowed out due to other commitments). He has said that he would have felt silly singing the term "Ghostbusters!" ("I ain't afraid of no ghosts" is better?), which is why you only hear it from the background singers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Videos #3 - Entirely Superfluous

Now, in my previous post, I showed some examples of videos where the use of horror imagery was directly related to the lyrics of the song. That, of course, didn't always happen. In fact, one could even use the phrase "very rarely" in this context and not be out of line.

Huey Lewis and the News had a relatively huge hit with "Doing It All For My Baby," but their video was pretty much unrelated to the song. (This is the shortened version - embedding on the full-length, almost-eight-minute version has been disabled. It's here, though, if you'd like to see it.)

There is absolutely no reason for this video to be set in a haunted castle with a mad scientist running amok in the basement, but there it is.

The single biggest hit for the Greg Kihn Band would easily have to be the song Jeopardy. Now, an argument can be made that the zombie-themed video is a metaphor for our progagonist, seeing the freedom of his single days flying away. Yes, that argument can be made, but it would be wrong.

The lyrics to the song make it obvious that, far from being about a man who doesn't want to get married, it's about a man who thinks his relationship with his girlfriend is coming to an end. Somewhat unrelated to freedom, zombies, or anything of the kind.

(On an interesting (but only vaguely related) note, Greg Kihn has since written four novels, one of which, Horror Show, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writers Association of America.)

Sheena Shirley Orr was born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland on 27 April 1959. At the age of 20, she married Sandi Easton, the first of four husbands; she was divorced from him within eight months, but kept his surname on stage. Sheena Easton had a string of hits throughout the 80s; in 1983, she had a (barely) Top 10 hit with "Telephone," which had absolutely nothing to do with the video that they filmed for MTV, but managed to be an interesting homage to the monster movie.

(Personally, I didn't care; even ignoring the bad 80s makeup, she was easily the hottest woman around. For me, it was easy to ignore substance and just concentrate on the style. But I was always shallow that way...)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Videos #2 - Integral to the Song

In the 80s, some (OK, only a few) uses of monsters in videos were actually related to the song itself. Sometimes, the relationship was only as close as a cultural reference.

For example, let's take Walter Egan. He had really only had one hit: if the lyric "For you are a magnet/and I am steel" doesn't start ringing in the back of your brain, count yourself lucky.

(And don't look it up - just trust me, OK?)

Meanwhile, he had... well, a kind of non-hit, a song that basically went nowhere, but got a little (very little) airplay, mostly based on a video that also didn't go very far. It's alternately rendered, depending on where you look, "Fool" (or "Full") "Moon Fire." (And, really, nobody but Walter, his agent, and his wife really give a crap what the lyric is...)

In 1983, the Rolling Stones released Undercover their (yes) 23rd album (not counting anthologies and outtakes). And it included an unmemorable song called "Too Much Blood," where a leaden Mick Jagger tries to rap, using the details from a story about some Japanese man murdering a girl in Paris.

The whole limping, abused corpse of a song includes Texas Chainsaw Massacre references and the Sugar Hill Records' horn section, and Mick completely fails to engage the audience with a song that the Stones have never performed live and which appears on no compilation album. But it does have a weird horror-movie video to go along with it, and includes Keith Richards and Ron Wood playing lead and rhythm chainsaws. Which has to count for something.

And of course, there's always 1988's hit from INXS, "Devil Inside" (INXS's lead singer, Michael Hutchence, depressingly, apparently didn't die from autoerotic asphyxiation, as the urban legend tells us - he just hung himself... it's sad when you have to let a good story go, isn't it?)

Of course, in the end, the fact that the video might actually reflect the content of the song has never been a major draw, has it?

Update (10/29/10): The longer I left it lying there in the ditch, the more I knew I had to go back and fix that fourth (now fourth and fifth) paragraph, with the poorly-worded description of the Rolling Stone's song. A run-on sentence with pronoun mismatch and some unneccessary (and apparently completely random) words thrown into the mix could not be allowed to continue. So I put it out of its misery.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Videos #1 - The Vampire

Despite a profusion of idiots trying to call it Satan's Holiday, today's celebrations of Halloween are actually more closely related to the Christian practice of "souling," which originated in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe in the late medieval era. The poor would go door-to-door on Hallowmas (the "Mass of the Saints" or All Saints Day, November 1) collecting "soul cakes" (basically small spice cakes, about the size of biscuits or small muffins), in return for offering up prayers to the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). And it simply migrated to the evening before All Saints Day ("All Hallows Eve," or Hallowe'en) sometime in the intervening five centuries.

See? It's Christian. Now go away.

Some "High Church" sects keep trying to make it Reformation Day, celebrating the Protestant Reformation. But somehow, dressing as Martin Luther, nailing epistles to the neighbors door and running off doesn't sound like a lot of fun. (Especially because running in robes is a tricky business, as any Catholic altar boy will tell you.) Neither does dressing as Calvin, shrugging at passers-by and saying "Well, you're damned regardless."

Now, the costumes? Yeah, the Celts used to wear them to ward off evil spirits during Samhain. But unless you also douse all the fires in your house, set up a bonfire in the middle of the street where you toss the bones of cattle slaughtered as food for the winter, and then everybody lights their hearth from the bonfire (making a spiritual bond between you and your neighbors), you aren't really following Celtic practices, are you?

The supernatural associations of ghosts to All Souls Day (and eventually Halloween) provide an obvious link to other supernatural creatures, which have also become associated with Halloween celebrations. And many of the more famous monsters have become burned into the American consciousness with the passing of time, and have migrated into all manner of cultural media, including the music video.

But no monster in music videodom (is that a word?) has gotten more attention than the vampire.

(Wow. Had to go through some rhetorical hoops to keep this from being a total non sequitur. I think I made it, though.)

Eddie Money actually had a hell of a career in the 80s and early 90s - 11 studio albums, a buttload of singles in the charts - all based around a voice that sounded like he was so congested he could barely breath.

Meanwhile, in 1982, he released a single from the album No Control called "Think I'm In Love." (He apparently misplaced the initial pronoun in the title on his way to the studio. It was a tragic loss.)

Meanwhile, five years later, on the other side of the Pond, and treading in more techno/dance waters, the Pet Shop Boys released their last #1 single, "Heart."

(And in case you're curious, that is indeed Sir Ian McKellen in full Nosferatu regalia.)

And five years after that (and, in fact, five years before it became universally reviled for its use in A Night At the Roxbury), a Trinidadian-American singer named Haddaway had his first (and arguably biggest) hit with "What is Love?"

At the time of its initial release, this song hit #1 in thirteen countries throughout Europe and Asia (it only reached #11 on the US charts), and this video was on heavy rotation on MTV Europe. If you're reading this in the US, it's quite possible that you've never seen it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teabaggers everywhere

So, as we approach November, everybody's watching the biggest clowns - the Nazi fanboy in Ohio, the militia supporter in Alaska who has reporters beaten for asking questions, and (certainly my favorite) the Delaware Trainwreck herself, the performance-art-made-flesh, Christine O'Donnell (I mean, can you beat a 40-year-old unmarried woman who's vocally, violently opposed to masturbation? She's either a liar, or more twisted than a Catholic priest in a room full of altar boys).

As time goes on, the Teabaggers are gradually proving themselves to be both blatantly racist and the last true descendants of John Birch. (I mean, come on! This is the public face of the Tea Party - what is it that they aren't willing to say in public?) But what midgets are hiding behind the massive sacks of crap in the front?

Well, for that, we should probably turn to that unfettered fount of fecal matter, Sarah Palin. So what lesser-known candidates does she like?

Sean Bielat for Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District

It's hard to tell much about Bielat. He stays pretty well under the radar. He has been smart enough to release a viral video about Barney Frank, but that's about it.

Of course, Barney Frank is every Republican's worst nightmare. He's an effective, sarcastic, openly-gay Democrat - he gives them nightmares. They'd pretty much back Satan Himself against Frank, if they thought He had a chance of winning. ("Of course He's a good church-going person! Just ask his minister, the Reverend LeVey!")

(Are you supposed to capitalize the pronouns referring to Satan? I'm not even clear where you'd go to look that up, but I suspect you don't...)

Butch Otter for Governor of Idaho

Wow. So the man's first elected position was two terms with the Idaho House of Representatives. Then he was on the Idaho Republican Party Central Committee and was Chairman of the Canyon County Republican Party. He served four terms as Lieutenant Governor, three terms in Congress, and he's been governor of Idaho since 2007. I thought the Tea Party was opposed to career politicians?

You know, as a convicted drunk driver himself, he's awfully hard on aides who get caught for the same offense. But it's obvious why Sarah likes him: he gets off on killing wolves too.

Stephen Fincher for Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District

An interesting choice for Ms. Palin. He takes potentially illegal campaign loans, but considering Palin's history with campaign funds (and, you know, $150,000 wardrobes that are still unaccounted for), that one would be easy for her to overlook. Fincher has refused to comment. On any issue.

But then, Sarah supports that idea, too. Because it was when she actually spoke to people that she got in trouble. Better to avoid speaking entirely...

Randy Hultgren for Illinois’ 14th Congressional District

Randy is another cipher. He talks a great game, but...

See, here's the thing. He's running against Bill Foster. An acknowledged science wonk, known for being a true centrist, more interested in the people and the result than in sheer partisan bickering. To most people, you'd think this would be a good thing. But to Sarah Palin, he's the Black Hole of Evil.

A true centrist is the last thing she wants. Someone who pays attention to the realities of a situation, and not the political implications? She can't have that! We must have strict partisan divides!

This is pretty much what Sarah does. She supports ciphers who've said they support any kind of stupid right-wing crap, as long as it gets them elected. But Sarah doesn't always go with that "due diligence" thing. You know, like in an earlier list, where Sarah plugged a "great" West Virginian candidate, John Raese.

She supported Raese for a while now (you know, despite the fact that even his wife won't be voting for him), although... well, OK, she was giving her support to him for a race where he wasn't running. She thought he was from Pennsylvania, as it shows in this Twitter post that she has since scrubbed from her website.But it's an understandable mistake. After all, for Raese's West Virginia political ad, he went to Philadelphia, and put out a casting call for "coal miner/trucker" types with "a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look."

(Apparently, those types of people are thin on the ground in West Virginia.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rachel Maddow Explains It All

OK, she repeats herself a little (somewhat annoyingly, I think). But meanwhile, if Rachel Maddow was straight, I'd have to divorce the Trophy Wife.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting Mooned

OK, so there's this series of movies (and books, and graphic novels, and soon to be video games) that you might not have heard of, called the Twilight Saga, by author Stephanie Meyer.

My daughter is a big fan. She realizes how bad they are, but she has all the novels, both in print and audiobook form. She's eagerly awaiting the release of the next movie (although she admits they aren't up to the crappiness level of the books).

However, she stopped buying the associated merchandise (the inaction figures, the brooding posters, and so on) when she had a dream that she was making out with Bella, and Bella wasn't into it. So she woke up, and was all "You bitch! I'm not buying any more of your shit."

I've never read any of the novels. I've never seen any of the movies. I have seen pictures, mostly in passing, and really, the only thought I have about any of them is "Really? You're a teenaged girl, and you think this is hot?"
This is what passes for attractive these days? Goddamn. Well, at least I know I'm straight, if this is what's supposed to look good. I mean, christ, he looks like the Joker in flesh-toned makeup.

Now, admittedly, the girls who find him attractive would be the ones who fall into the "Team Edward" camp. (Yes, that's what they call them.) There's always the "Team Jacob" girls, who like their guys... well... hairier.

Now, I've done a little research, and, from what I can tell, if you don't think like a teenage girl, the characters are wooden, the plots are unoriginal, and Bella, the lead character, is pretty much a personality-free slate for you to write your own name on. (And apparently, people do. In droves.)

And again, really? The girl's name is "Bella Swan"? You came up with a cross between Bela Lugosi and the lead character from Disney's Beauty and the Beast? And then threw in a hint of The Ugly Duckling? (Because yes, the amazingly hot girl doesn't think she's pretty until she goes to a new school and everybody is stunned by her, yadda yadda yadda...)

And then the author came up with the single worst reason for vampires to avoid the sunlight, EVER. The single worst. No other contenders for the title. They sparkle.

If you can't stomach the whole 1:08 (and trust me, I understand), jump in at about the 30 second spot.

I'd heard about this. I thought "OK, fine, they'll glint a little." Then the Trophy Wife showed me the wretched truth.

No, they went for the whole enchilada: the full-body diamond sparkle. Like he's the victim of some kind of horrible BeDazzler accident.

Something like what they did to Emma Frost in X-Men Bastardizations: Wolverine.
As it turns out, it seems that there are other characters. They've got other vampires, many of who only have first names, like Esme, Rosalie and Carlisle; there are other werewolves, with names like Sam Uley, Embry Call and Seth Clearwater (because Native American werewolves would naturally have redneck names).

And there might even be other human characters, but nobody cares about them.

I have to agree with my daughter, though. I am hereby declaring myself part of "Team Alice."

Alice was apparently turned into a vampire in the Roaring Twenties. Even if she was supposed to be crazy, she was still a child of the sexual revolution after WWI. She might go for a girl.

If Ms Meyer wants me to see her movies or read her books, Bella will drop both Edward and Jacob, and go for Alice.

I like this idea.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Appeal:

More words of wisdom from the Rude Pundit
It would be so simple, and it would be like an anxious finger shoved against the joyful prostate of the logy Democratic base. All President Barack Obama has to do is do nothing and the Federal District Court in California's injunction against the military's absurd Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy would stand. Judge Virginia Phillips declared that it wasn't just unconstitutional, but that it was, in essence, like farting in the face the Constitution, declaring that "the act known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' infringes the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers and prospective servicemembers and violates (a) the substantive due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and (b) the rights to freedom of speech and to petition the Government for redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." Now, laugh if you will at the word "servicemembers," but the Rude Pundit's awesome math abilities calculate that you got three clauses within two Amendments violated. That seems like a pretty damn strong case.

This is a no-brainer, ain't it? You got an overwhelming majority of people out there who think the policy's bullshit. You got 21 senators, including ones from states like Louisiana and Colorado, writing to the President to let the ruling stand. You got a disheartened left that needs to get excited for the midterms and a large gay constituency who are righteously, mightily pissed at the empty promises from the administration. You want cover? Fuck, toss in the young people committing suicide over vicious, homophobic bullying. Add the gay-bashing that's erupting in places like New York fucking City. You got the perfect backdrop for standing up for the rights of people who wanna fight for the country. It ain't even controversial except among the 20% of the population who are dumb and prejudiced, skull-fucked by their pissy Jesus and left drooling imbeciles from the brain damage.

And what do you think the Obama administration will do? Will President "I Want to Repeal DADT" say, "Groovy. The Senate can go fuck itself now. Let's move on"?

Well, lookie here, hopeful knob-bobbers and clit-lickers. Given the chance to let stand the Massachusetts District Court's decision that the Defense of Marriage Act (aka "Queers are icky" Act) is unconstitutional, Obama is having his Justice Department file an appeal, saying that while the President wants to repeal DOMA, "The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged." Even though, you know, it is under no obligation to do so. It's not unakin to a New Orleans Saints fan saying that, as long as he's visiting Atlanta, he may as well root for the Falcons.

Sure, sure, the White House would say that it really, really wants Congress to take care of repealing both DOMA and DADT, but, as Andrew Sullivan says, what's the chance of that happening in the next generation as the GOP elects crazier and crazier motherfuckers? Or one could argue that, at some point, under some administration, these issues are gonna reach the Supreme Court, so why not just get it over with now? (And, frankly, that's not a terrible argument.)

Down in Florida last month, the District Court of Appeal threw out the state's draconian, three-decade old law banning gay adoption as blatantly unconstitutional. The secretary of the Department of Children and Families announced yesterday that he was not going to appeal the ruling, and that the plaintiff in the case, Frank Gill, had gone through enough just to keep the children he has raised and loved. The attorney general could still appeal, and since Bill McCollum had previously used George "Rent Boy" Rekers as an expert against gay adoption, it's up in the air, although, as the DCF said, "the depth, clarity and unanimity of the [court's] opinion -- and that of Miami-Dade Judge Cindy Lederman's original circuit court decision -- has made it evident that an appeal would have a less than limited chance of a different outcome." Governor Charlie Crist, who, you may have heard, is running for office, halted the ban after the initial decision.

See how easy that is? How easy it is to just do nothing and let the rights fall into place? How easy it is for hate to be shoved aside in favor of bringing a large segment of the population, finally, once and for all, into the American fold? Or are the potential Fox "news" outrage and a spitting Rush Limbaugh far more important than the base who got the President elected?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Solomon Burke - RIP

Solomon Burke died today aboard a flight to the Netherlands; the cause of death is unknown, but he was 70 years old and probably weighed between three and four hundred pounds, so we can assume "natural causes."

It's very possible that, while his name sounds familiar, you can't really remember who he is. He only had a few real hits throughout his life, but if you spent a while immersed in the back catalog of Atlantic Records like I did, you know exactly who he was.

His age is actually under contention. He was born in Philadelphia, but different sources cite dates anywhere between 1935 and 1940; he claimed 1940 as his own, so we'll go with that.

He started preaching at age 7, had his first radio ministry by age 12, and was a travelling preacher in a tent revival up and down the East Coast, where he is said to have met Martin Luther King, Jr. several times. He also trained as a mortician in his uncle's funeral parlor.

He wasn't a "Hellfire and Damnation" preacher, though. In Sweet Soul Music, he told Peter Guralnick that he ran "Church of Let It All Hang Out," much like the Prosperity Gospel mated to the Free Love movement: "God, money and women, hey, hey, hey; truth, love, peace and get it on."

In 1962, he signed with Atlantic Records, and was one of their biggest sellers for almost a decade. His first minor hit, Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms) was a cover of an unmemorable Patsy Cline song, but he shortly overshadowed that with Cry to Me, which reached #5 in 1962, and a quarter of a century later received more airplay (although it never charted the second time out) when it became a love theme for the movie Dirty Dancing.

The biggest hit of his career was from 1965, hitting #1 on the R&B charts (#22 on the pop charts), Got to Get You Off My Mind.

In 1964, he wrote Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, which Rolling Stone Magazine ranked #429 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Rolling Stones (the group, this time) covered it for their second album, and Burke appeared with them on stage to perform it for their 2004 album Live Licks.

Most memorably for me, it also appeared as the first song performed by the Blues Brothers in the Palace Ballroom. But since Universal is picky about that sort of thing, here's the version done by the wicked Wilson Pickett.

In an era where the record companies were pumping out cookie-cutter versions of other popular musical groups, he forged a style of his own, drawing on blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, and even country influences. He won two Grammies, and in 2008, he earned a third nomination for the album Like a Fire, which included songs written specifically for him, by Eric Clapton, Keb' Mo', Ben Harper, Steve Jordan and others.

A remarkably prolific man, he released over thirty studio albums, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. In the course of his lifetime, he fathered twenty-one children and ninety grandchildren (many of whom are active in music today).

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Steve Pearce wants your braaaains... (with green chili, of course)

OK, so I've spent a lot of my time here in New Mexico ignoring Steve Pearce. I know the name, but he's been in the Second Congressional District for all my time here (Albuquerque, after all, is in the more resplendent First Congressional District, so I don't really have to pay attention to him).

(See, it's true - we Democrats are elitist. We can't help it. It's in our nature: we want the "elite" - the smartest, best and kindest - to be in charge. Why is that bad?)

Most of what I knew about Steve Pearce was that he was a featureless Republican rubber stamp, with no real personality and limited reason to exist. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil companies. A faceless, balding cipher who never had an original thought that wasn't given to him by Turdblossom and Associates.

Articles stolen from the Heritage Foundation were printed under Pearce's byline in small newspapers across New Mexico back in 2005. (His press secretary took the fall for him, so A+ for loyalty, but a big F for, you know, honesty and the like...)

He really only had one accomplishment to justify his existence. When the execrable Heather Wilson decided to give up her seat in the House of Representatives and try to jump into the Senate, Pearce kicked her butt, and then had the good grace to be defeated by Tom Udall (D-NM).

He's been endorsed by Sarah Palin, which might just be the kiss of death for him. Of course, with that nomination comes the requirement, apparently, to say blatantly ignorant crap, like refusing to admit that Obama is an American citizen.

If you're in a hurry, the lady's meds are wearing off, and she rambles on for the first 90 seconds of the video, trying to sound rational as she asks "Isn't the world about to end because we elected a Black Foreigner to a White House?" At about the 1:31 mark, Pearce tries to sound rational with "Barack Obama raised the most significant issues himself," and repeats the debunked lie that Obama traveled to Pakistan when it was illegal for Americans to be there.

Sorry, Stevie. No such ban ever existed, but the fact that you think there was... Well, a good Birther isn't willing to give up on a lie just because reality is rude enough to disagree, right?

If things follow their usual course with Stevie, he should be saying that Obama is a Muslim who pals around with terrorists next. He's a good follower; he'll say whatever he's told to say.

But that's not the only lie he wants to push forward. You wander around his website, and you find this page, where Stevie, or his Campaign Plagiarism Manager, writes:
Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honour Him. That is your right, and we will honour your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!"
Sorry, Stevie, that's another lie. Nobody is trying to "take (y)our rights away." You just don't get to pay for it with the government's money.

I mean, I could be snide and point out that the vast majority of America used to have no problem with enslaving blacks, either. Instead... well, since you brought up what the Bible says about prayer, how come your mindless ilk can never seem to remember what else it said?
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:5-6)
Yeah, sorry, Stevie. That's Jesus that just called you a hypocrite, not me.

Oh, and you know that six years in the House of Representatives? Just think of it as your reward. We're done with you now.

They don't want you to vote

h/t to Southern Beale, who found it at Washington Monthly

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Glenn Beck is obsessed with Hitler and Woodrow Wilson. (I'm just saying.)

OK, so Dana Milbank put a lot more time into watching Glenn Beck than I ever hope to. It's four pages, it takes a few minutes, but holy crap, it's worth your time. Read this. Trust me. You need to.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

What have you done for me lately?

I was having a late lunch with a friend of mine yesterday, Russ, who volunteers for the Martin Heinrich campaign. And he mentioned a campaign mailer that he helped send out, which showed Heinrich's opponent, along with McCain, Palin and other Republicans. This is one of the basic messages from Democrats this year. "OK, so we suck. But they suck more!"

That's not really a message that raises people's spirits, is it? Not really inspiring hope, right there.

But that seems to be the nature of this political season. Go negative, as hard as possible. And while you might be expecting this to be a Republican tactic (after all, if you have no new ideas of your own, what do you campaign on?), it's coming from the Democrats, too.

Was there ever a time in America when politicians would just run on their accomplishments? Or at least show how your political beliefs are improving the country?

Well, we can thank that media narrative being advanced by the right-wing press, who want us to believe that a Democratic White House and a Democratic-controlled Congress are getting nothing done. Or worse, destroying the country.

Some Democrats are just leaving Obama out of their ads (and at least one tongue-kisses George W. Bush). Because, after all, Obama hasn't been able to get anything done, has he?

Which, of course, is complete bullshit. But try telling that to the media.

(Perhaps this is why Bush's "No Child Left Behind" focuses more on children regurgitating what they've been told recently, and less on critical thinking. A compliant electorate, used to being fed the answers and not thinking about the questions, is easier to fool.)

Now, admittedly, anything that the Obama administration has accomplished has been over the intractable resistance of a Republican party who would watch the country to fall to ruins before they'd allow a Democratic President to succeed. Hell, they're already planning, if they "win" the midterms, to do absolutely nothing except smear the president. (You know, like the end of Clinton's term, only with less ethical investigators and a compliant press.)

Obama took an economy in free-fall, and has managed to stop the plummet. It's true that everything isn't perfect. But consider what this country was up against.
"Hey, you've had two years to clean up what we took eight years to break! Aren't you done yet?"
Despite what the GOP desperately want you to believe, Obama's stimulus program worked. It didn't work well enough, because Obama and his advisors were too conservative - it didn't go far enough, but it still worked.

In the words of Alan S. Blinder (professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board):
TARP must be among the most reviled and misunderstood programs in the history of the republic. Voters are clearly appalled by the idea that their government spent $700 billion bailing out banks.

The only problem is: It didn't. Even if we count insurance giant AIG as a bank, no more than $300 billion ever went to banks. TARP's total disbursements, including the auto bailout, never reached the $400 billion mark. The money went for loans and to purchase preferred stock; it was not "spent." In fact, most of it has already been paid back—with interest and capital gains. When TARP's books are eventually closed, the net cost to the taxpayer will probably be under $100 billion—far under if General Motors ever repays.

Spending perhaps $50 billion of taxpayer money to forestall a financial cataclysm seems like a bargain. Yes, I know it's maddening to hand over even a nickel to bankers who don't deserve it. But doing so was a necessary evil to save the economy. Think of it as collateral damage in a successful war against financial armageddon.
And it continues. He's enacted cuts in spending, instituted financial reforms to prevent another economic meltdown, passed credit card reform to keep the banks from stealing from you directly.

Oh, and he also passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to essentially prevent businesses from saying "Hey, she let us fuck her for four months before she complained. It must not be an issue! So we can keep on fucking her!"

He has installed not one, but two female Supreme Court justices; Elena Kagan actually started her new job on Friday. There have been twenty Supreme Court Justices appointed since 1960 (date chosen arbitrarily as the second wave of the Feminist movement). Only four of them have been women: they make up 51% of the population, they're equally affected by the law, but only four have been appointed to the Supreme Court; and Obama is responsible for doubling that number. And, by the way, we also have the first Hispanic Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

(Think of that number for a second, by the way. Fifty years, and only twenty Justices. You wonder why American jurisprudence is so freaking slow? Where's the anti-incumbent crowd on this issue?)

You know that a lot of the provisions in healthcare reform just kicked in, right? Yes, it could have been better, it could have had a public option, it could have given puppies and kittens to every child in the United States. But it's also the first major healthcare change since the Medicare and Medicaid legislation was passed almost half a century ago.

And despite the panicked cries of the ignorant and ill-informed (as well as the blatant liars), it's entirely market-based, without even a tinge of socialism.

And America is now safer than it was just twenty-one months ago. America's reputation in the international community is improved, we are withdrawing from Iraq, in as safe a manner as possible. And we're moving toward an effective nuclear treaty among the world's major powers.

And these are just highlights, without even mentioning advances in environmental protection, science and education, among others.

George Santayana once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But at the moment, maybe we should just work on understanding current events.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

"Storm" by Tim Minchin

So my latest quest for enlightenment... OK, not really "enlightenment" so much as humor... they're often the same thing, really... this quest has led me to seek out videos by Tim Minchin. And I turned up a 9 minute poem of his, which, in fact, contains both.