Tuesday, September 30, 2008

AltCountry #58: It's Been a Long Time

(Another new favorite. Lexington, KY corporate radio is predominantly country and they never play anything near this good. Thanks Hugo for teaching me about my culture!)

AltCountry (Netherlands)
Host: Hugo Vogel



But this time it's Dan Baird and Homemade Sin, Johnny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars, Steve Earle, Heather Waters,Blue Mountain, Stewboss, Bruce Robison, Nathan, Cowboy Junkies, NQ Arbuckle and Tom Freund

Johnny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars


To Listen to the Podcast

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stephen Power and Gary Fields: How Voter Fury Stopped Bailout

(The silver lining is the American voters wake up--hopefully they are well-rested!)

How Voter Fury Stopped Bailout: Left-Right Combo By Opponents Put Plan on the Ropes
by Stephen Power and Gary Fields
Wall Street Journal

The defeat in Congress of a proposed $700 billion economic-rescue package followed an intense outpouring of voter anger, fanned by politicians, interest groups and media on the left and right, that overwhelmed calls from the president and top lawmakers to pass the deal.

Voters opposed to the deal deluged Capitol Hill with letters, emails, phone calls and faxes over the past week. Some 23,000 signatures were collected over two days by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, calling for a five-year, 10% surtax on the wealthiest Americans to help fund the bailout. Some prominent conservatives and bloggers criticized the deal as an unwarranted intervention in the free market.

"The vast majority of my voters looked at this as a bailout for Wall Street," said Rep. Darrell Issa of California, one of the most outspoken Republican critics of the proposal.

On his Web site in recent days, Rep. Issa has posted letters and emails from some of the more than 2,000 constituents he said had contacted him about the proposal, including one from "Greg" in Temecula, Calif., who called the proposal "poorly thought out and rushed to the floor."

"I am 45 and a husband and father of 4. I am outraged and appalled at the arrogance of my President and the lack of regard for what is right," the message said.

To Read the Rest of the Report

Katrina vanden Heuvel & Eric Schlosser: America Needs a New New Deal

America Needs a New New Deal
By Katrina vanden Heuvel & Eric Schlosser
The Nation and Wall Street Journal

The Bush administration has proposed the most expensive government spending plan in American history, allocating as much as $700 billion to a Wall Street bailout. The proposal was attacked by members of both parties, who immediately began negotiations to find an alternative. The Bush plan was not only a political blunder; it was also a complete repudiation of the administration's own economic policies. It could not be justified by any of the core beliefs governing free enterprise and the free market.

As with the decision to invade Iraq, the administration sought to commit the federal government to massive spending without a clear exit strategy. Most important, it drew upon the New Deal's legacy of government intervention in the marketplace--without any of the New Deal's fundamental concern for the well-being of ordinary Americans.

This year happens to be the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, a revolution in governmental philosophy that began with the Emergency Banking Act of 1933. That first piece of New Deal legislation was a hurried response to the worst banking crisis in U.S. history--until now.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlined the problem clearly in his first fireside chat, a week after taking office. "We had a bad banking situation," Roosevelt said. "Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in the handling of people's funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans . . . It was the government's job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible."

President Roosevelt's banking plan ended the panic. But it did much more than that. In Roosevelt's words, it "reorganized, simplified, and made more fair and just our monetary system."

Compare those aims and that achievement with what the Bush administration proposed. Having championed the free market, small government and deregulation for years, the administration asked taxpayers to assume the costs of Wall Street's poor investments--while allowing Wall Street to hold on to the good ones.

To Read the Rest of the Proposal

University of Illinois: THE AAUP REAFFIRMS GRAD EMPLOYEE AND STAFF RIGHTS

(Our eyes turn to the University of Illinois to see where this will lead and our hearts/voices are with the faculty/staff/students in this fight for their rights. We support our colleagues and friends in their struggle! We remember the courage of University of Illinois graduate students as they successfully fought to unionize. They will not give up--an inspiration for us all.)

THE AAUP REAFFIRMS GRAD EMPLOYEE AND STAFF RIGHTS

According to University of Illinois President Joe White and his Ethics Office, a UI secretary, carpenter, graduate employee, academic professional or faculty member is in violation of the university's regulations if one of them returns to campus at night to attend a political rally. Wearing a campaign button at the rally would make them doubly unethical.

The US constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Does the university have an interest that would justify overriding these rights for employees, something it knows it cannot do for students, who retain their rights as citizens when they walk across the campus? The state has an interest in ensuring that its citizens are not deprived of information--including that revealed in political rallies--that helps make them better-informed voters. Does the university have a stronger interest that would override the value of your access to the political process? The AAUP believes the answer to these questions is "no."

Should a staff member be free to attend a rally or answer a political call on his or her cell phone during lunch hour? The university says "no" and the AAUP says "yes." Should a supervisor be free to decide an office can survive with reduced staff for an hour at other times and let employees attend a rally, assuming they use vacation time or agree to make up the time? The university says "no" and the AAUP says "yes."

President White urges that faculty and staff use common sense and recognize the rules will not be enforced. One may certainly agree it would have been better had the Ethics Office used common sense. It is also notable that courts are typically not sympathetic to the argument that unconstitutional rules or laws can remain on the books just because a given official pledges not to enforce them. Such regulations might well be enforced--even enforced selectively--by a future administration, especially if the campus' collective attention is focused elsewhere. Meanwhile, many are reluctant to do things the administration tells them are prohibited or unethical. Anecdotal responses suggest a chilling effect has already settled over the Champaign-Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield university communities.
It goes well beyond the specific prohibitions embodied in the memo. Yet a counter-response is also in evidence, as faculty, staff, and graduate employees feel even more determined to assert their political rights.

These new regulations thoughtlessly embody a number of absurdities. As the regulations now stand, an employee could walk out on the quad, lift up a megaphone, and publicly announce his or her support of a candidate for office to all attentive passers-by. But you would be in violation of university rules if you wore a campaign button while doing so. An instructor could talk to a class about his or her political beliefs--a principle explained at length in the AAUP's statement on "Freedom in the Classroom"--but the teacher would be in violation of university policy if he or she wore a campaign button while doing so. A graduate student supported by a fellowship retains full political speech rights, but one employed as a TA would have to think twice before wearing a candidate t-shirt in university housing. Our bodies are not state property.

There is indeed a special irony in the fact the UI sent its new regulations to graduate employees. The administration spent over a decade insisting they were students, not employees. Now, even though they are employed part-time, the Ethics Office decides they are employees 24/7. The common element in these contradictory positions is clear enough: the university will take whatever stance undermines graduate employee freedom and self-determination. A number of state courts have taken a different position on this matter: graduate students are employees when they are performing compensated work, like teaching a class, and they are students when they are taking a class. When teaching a class, graduate students should have the same freedom of expression as faculty members; on campus they have the same rights as all students to participate in the political process.

The university has disingenuously claimed it is merely communicating state law, but it has clearly added new regulations of its own. Nor is it credible to imagine the president's office did not approve these regulations beforehand. The university community has a right to know everything about the process that brought these regulations into existence. Sunlight and solidarity should be its twin goals. Faculty, staff, and students should stand together to restore our professional and personal rights.

The AAUP calls on President White to repudiate this policy and withdraw it immediately.

Cary Nelson
AAUP President

Matt Taibbi: The scariest thing about Sarah Palin isn't how unqualified she is - it's what her candidacy says about America

(Now I know someone will say, wait a minute, didn't you recently post a response that took Marleen Barr to task for stereotyping country people as ignorant folk in her [failed] attempt at deconstructing the Sarah Palin phenomenon. Yes, I did, my complaint was that this was a lazy form of criticism that completely relied on derogatory stereotypes of rural people in order to attack Palin. This was not needed as there are plenty of solid reasons to be horrified by the thought of Palin one step away from leading our country. Taibbi, in this angry howl in the wilderness, seeks to understand the rot in our american soul that has led us to this point. A nod to Danny Mayer for sending it my way.)

The scariest thing about Sarah Palin isn't how unqualified she is - it's what her candidacy says about America
by Matt Taibbi
The Smirking Chimp

I'm standing outside the XCEL ENERGY CENTER in St. Paul Minnesota Sarah Palin has just finished her speech to the Republican National Convention, accepting the party's nomination for vice president. If I hadn't quit my two-packs-a-day habit earlier this year, I'd be chain-smoking now. So the only thing left is to stand mute against the fit-for-a-cheap-dog-kennel crowd-control fencing you see everywhere at these idiotic conventions and gnaw on weird new feelings of shock and anarchist rage as one would a rawhide chew toy.

All around me, a million cops in their absurd post-9/11 space-combat get-ups stand guard as assholes in papier-mache puppet heads scramble around for one last moment of network face time before the coverage goes dark. Four-chinned delegates from places like Arkansas and Georgia are pouring joyously out the gates in search of bars where they can load up on Zombies and Scorpion Bowls and other "wild" drinks and extramaritally grope their turkey-necked female companions in bathroom stalls as part of the "unbelievable time" they will inevitably report to their pals back home. Only 21st-century Americans can pass through a metal detector six times in an hour and still think they're at a party.

The defining moment for me came shortly after Palin and her family stepped down from the stage to uproarious applause, looking happy enough to throw a whole library full of books into a sewer. In the crush to exit the stadium, a middle-aged woman wearing a cowboy hat, a red-white-and-blue shirt and an obvious eye job gushed to a male colleague they were both wearing badges identifying them as members of the Colorado delegation at the Xcel gates.

"She totally reminds me of my cousin!" the delegate screeched. "She's a real woman! The real thing!"

I stared at her open-mouthed. In that moment, the rank cynicism of the whole sorry deal was laid bare. Here's the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed middle-American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin' Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else's, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.

Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she's a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power.

Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she's the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV -and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

The Palin speech was a political masterpiece, one of the most ingenious pieces of electoral theater this country has ever seen. Never before has a single televised image turned a party's fortunes around faster.

Until the Alaska governor actually ascended to the podium that night, I was convinced that John McCain had made one of the all-time campaign season blunders, that he had acted impulsively and out of utter desperation in choosing a cross-eyed political neophyte just two years removed from running a town smaller than the bleacher section at Fenway Park. It even crossed my mind that there was an element of weirdly self-destructive pique in McCain's decision to cave in to his party's right-wing base in this fashion, that perhaps he was responding to being ordered by party elders away from a tepid, ideologically promiscuous hack like Joe Lieberman -- reportedly his real preference -- by picking the most obviously unqualified, doomed-to-fail joke of a Bible-thumping buffoon. As in: You want me to rally the base? Fine, I'll rally the base. Here, I'll choose this rifle-toting, serially pregnant moose killer who thinks God lobbies for oil pipelines. Happy now?

To Read the Rest of this Commentary

Bernie Sanders: A Voice of Reason in the Economic Panic

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders outlines the essential plan to protect working class and middle class families in any potential government buyout of failing financial institutions. Matt Christie provides us with a good post on the voice of reason in our government:

Pas Au-Delà: Bernie

It is good to see that, as a member of the purple voters (independents), my elected representative is putting forth suggestions like these (sorry Vermont, you have to share him with independents everywhere ;)

Mark Kurlansky -- Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea

Mark Kurlansky -- Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea
Weekly Signals (KUCI: University of California-Irvine)
Hosts: Mike Kapsar and Nathan Callahan



In his latest book, Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, Kurlansky discusses nonviolence as a distinct entity, a course of action, rather than a mere state of mind. Nonviolence can and should be a technique for overcoming social injustice and ending wars, he asserts, which is why it is the preferred method of those who speak truth to power.

Kurlansky also brings into focus just why nonviolence is a “dangerous” idea, and asks such provocative questions as: Is there such a thing as a “just war”? Could nonviolence have worked against even the most evil regimes in history?

Kurlansky draws from history twenty-five provocative lessons on the subject that we can use to effect change today. He shows how, time and again, violence is used to suppress nonviolence and its practitioners — Gandhi and Martin Luther King, for example; that the stated deterrence value of standing national armies and huge weapons arsenals is, at best, negligible; and, encouragingly, that much of the hard work necessary to begin a movement to end war is already complete.

To Listen to the Interview: Go Down the Page to September 16)

Thomas Frank author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule

An interview with Thomas Frank author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule.
Weekly Signals (KUCI: University of California-Irvine)
Hosts: Mike Kaspar and Nathan Callahan



From the author of the landmark bestseller, a jaw-dropping investigation of the decades of deliberate-and lucrative-conservative misrule

In his previous book - What's the Matter with Kansas? - Frank explained why working America votes for politicians who reserve their favors for the rich. Now, in The Wrecking Crew, Frank examines the blundering and corrupt Washington those politicians have given us.

Casting back to the early days of the conservative revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters-the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff.

It is no coincidence, Frank argues, that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule. Nor will the country easily shake off the consequences of deliberate misgovernment through the usual election remedies. Obsessed with achieving a lasting victory, conservatives have taken pains to enshrine the free market as the permanent creed of state.

Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and a contributing editor at Harper's.

To Listen to the Interview

Dexter Filkins the author of The Forever War

An interview with Dexter Filkins the author of The Forever War.
Weekly Signals (KUCI: University of California-Irvine)
Hosts: Mike Kaspar and Natahan Callahan



Through the eyes of Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as "reporting of the highest quality imaginable," we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filkins's narrative moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; children frolicking in minefields; skies streaked white by the contrails of B-52s; a night's sleep in the rubble of Ground Zero.

We embark on a foot patrol through the shadowy streets of Ramadi, venture into a torture chamber run by Saddam Hussein. We go into the homes of suicide bombers and into street-to-street fighting with a battalion of marines. We meet Iraqi insurgents, an American captain who loses a quarter of his men in eight days, and a young soldier from Georgia on a rooftop at midnight reminiscing about his girlfriend back home. A car bomb explodes, bullets fly, and a mother cradles her blinded son.

Filkins, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, has covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Before that, he worked for the Los Angeles Times, where he was chief of the paper's New Delhi bureau, and for The Miami Herald. He has been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a winner of a George Polk Award and two Overseas Press Club awards. Most recently, he was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

To Listen to the Interview

John R. MacArthur, the author of You Can't Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America

An interview with John R. MacArthur, the author of You Can't Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America.
Weekly Signals (KUCI: University of California-Irvine)
Hosts: Mike Kaspar and Nathan Callahan



After the debacle of the 2000 presidential election, many Americans were asking themselves if their vote really counted anymore. Yet does the problem go even deeper than that? Is America really a democracy anymore?

In a rollicking piece of reportage based on years of reporting, Harper's Magazine Publisher John R. MacArthur examines how the system really works-and doesn't work-nowadays. Why is it that all the major candidates seem to be rich Ivy-Leaguers? Why is there so little difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on so many key issues? Does an outsider really have a chance?

Covering the recent candidacies of Ned Lamont and Ralph Nader, reporting on local efforts to effect change, and examining funding and influence in our electoral system in general, MacArthur presents a clarion call to restructure electoral politics.

MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper's Magazine, is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed books The Selling of "Free Trade": NAFTA, Washington, and The Subversion of American Democracy and Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War.

To Listen to the Interview

The Farm Bill: Understanding the Political, Agricultural, and Nutritional Impact

The Farm Bill: Understanding the Political, Agricultural, and Nutritional Impact

A panel featuring Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, and author of `Food Politics`

UChannel (Princeton University)



(Nov 12, 2007 at New York University, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service)

A panel of leading health policy experts discuss the impact of the federal Farm bill. Farm bills can be highly controversial and have an impact on international trade, the environment, food policy, and rural communities. The impact of agriculture subsidies in this legislation are the subject of intense debate both within the domestic and international communities.

To Listen to the Discussion

Cornel West -- Democracy Matters

(Cornel West is a thinker and speaker of the highest order. It is always a pleasure to listen to him talk because he brings all aspects of our diverse, wide-ranging culture into play and he demonstrates a clear interest in engaging his audience in conversation. This is a powerful introduction to his thoughts on democracy, education, religion, culture, music, power, responsibility, activism and politics.)

Cornel West -- Democracy Matters
We the People Stories (National Constitution Center)



The prominent Princeton professor discusses his premise that American democracy is in danger.

To Listen to the Conversation

Howard Fineman--The Thirteen American Arguments

(This was recorded right before the two major party conventions at the end of the duel between Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama to see who would face the presumptive nominee of the Republicans John McCain. Fineman makes an important case for the power/purpose of political argument in a healthy democracy. American citizens need to beinformed about the important local, national and global issues of their time. They need to be willing to formulate their perspectives and to put them into play with other perspectives. As it is now we have an increasingly passive citizenry that is too willing to abdicate their role in our democracy as informed citizens who care about the world. As Benjamin Barber once asked which will you be: a global citizen or a global consumer?)


Howard Fineman: The Thirteen American Arguments
We the People Stories (National Constitution Center)



Howard Fineman, the highly respected political journalist, joins the National Constitution Center to discuss his absorbing new work of American history, journalism, and analysis "The Thirteen American Arguments." Fineman writes that every debate we have had in the political arena, from our founding to today, has evolved from one of these arguments. Though the conventional wisdom is that Americans argue too much, Fineman believes that just the opposite is true. Fineman finds many of these basic arguments are tied to the U.S. Constitution, from the Preamble being written in the name of “We the People,” to who determines what the law is.

To Listen to the Conversation

E. Benjamin Skinner: Modern-Day Slavery

The Legacy of 1808: Modern-Day Slavery
We the People Stories (National Constitution Center)



The National Constitution Center presents a frank conversation about the existence of modern-day slavery with journalist E. Benjamin Skinner, author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery and moderated by Carolyn Davis.

To Listen to the Conversation

Film Couch #68: Paranoia

#68 Paranoia
Film Couch


New developments in the case of an artist arrested for bioterrorism (from the doc Strange Culture), lead us into a web of noir (Murder, My Sweet) and an unexpected look at No Country for Old Men. All of which reveal the sinister culture of PARANOIA!

To Listen to the Conversation





Saturday, September 27, 2008

Michael Benton: Mort Rosenblum's Escaping Plato's Cave; Carlotta Gall's Story; Taxi To the Dark Side



Tonight I was reading the 2nd chapter of Mort Rosenblum's Escaping Platos' Cave in which he describes the slow degradation (destruction) of active American foreign news reporting through his histories of AP (Associated Press), Knight-Ridder/United Press, the dismantling of newsroom/newspaper foreign reporting staffs and the corporate consolidation/cutting of news agencies/newspapers/newsrooms in the interest of bigger profits. At the end of the second chapter, in a series of stories that detail the active blocking of American foreign correspondents' ability to fully report the important issues that American citizens should know (because of timid editors, publisher intervention, and governmental pressures), from the time of the Iran-Contra scandal through the Bush administration's drive to the Iraq War, Rosenblum relates the story of foreign correspondent Carlotta Gall's attempt to get her editors at the New York Times to publish her story about the homicide of an innocent Afghani Dilawar (22 yrs old at the time) at Bagram Air Force Base. Three years later it was recounted in:

Columbia Journalism Review: Eric Umansky--Failures of Imagination

The New York Times executive editor Howell Raines found it to be "improbable" and buried it on page 14 of the main section under a headline that the military was investigating. In fact, it was a military report that stated Dilawar's death in American custody was a homicide that led Gall to research the background of the story. Luckily a young documentary filmmaker happened to read it and it became:



The oscar winning documentary is going to be released on September 30th. It is a very important story that all American citizens should investigate for themselves before the november elections (watch it, research it more, discuss it). Watch it with someone you love (or even someone you don't like that much ;)

Watching Theology: Kevin Smith's Dogma (1999)

(Joe and Melissa take the film seriously and I learned some new insights into the religious aspects of the film.)

Kevin Smith's Dogma (1999)
Watching Theology
by Joe and Melissa Johnson



Religious movies sure have a way of making religious people angry. Kevin Smith’s 1999 film, Dogma, is no exception. Fearing death threats - from the “Thou Shall Not Kill” folks who ought to know better - Smith went as far as putting a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie to let people know he’s just having some fun (the disclaimer thing didn’t work for Scorsese either). In the midst of Smith’s fun is a film that is a bit long on exposition, a bit indulgent in profanity and a lot smarter than given credit. Dogma may be one of the most original films of recent years, and the perspectives it offers are more than enough material for a little half-hour show. Join us as we talk about a few of the primary players and wonder if God is really a Canadian pop star.

To Listen to the Conversation

Paul Newman 1925-2008

One of a kind, he will be remembered:



I remember when I was a kid, my friends mom had a poster of him with his shirt off over her washing machine. I asked her who he was and why he was above her washer/dryer. She just smiled at my innocence.



I will always remember him as the smiling, joking chain-gang prisoner Cool Hand Luke that would never give up and in the process gave hope to his fellow prisoners. It was good to see him use his good looks and celebrity for good causes in his later years.

Green Cine has an archive on the tributes as they come in:

Paul Newman

More from SpoutBlog:

Kevin Kelly: Paul Newman--Six Films to Remember Him by

Friday, September 26, 2008

Talks Implode During a Day of Chaos; Fate of Bailout Plan Remains Unresolved

(Courtesy of Okir)

Talks Implode During a Day of Chaos; Fate of Bailout Plan Remains Unresolved
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, CARL HULSE and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
New York Times

WASHINGTON — The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

It was an implosion that spilled out from behind closed doors into public view in a way rarely seen in Washington.

By 10:30 p.m., after another round of talks, Congressional negotiators gave up for the night and said they would try again on Friday. Left uncertain was the fate of the bailout, which the White House says is urgently needed to fix broken financial and credit markets, as well as whether the first presidential debate would go forward as planned Friday night in Mississippi.

When Congressional leaders and Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, the two major party presidential candidates, trooped to the White House on Thursday afternoon, most signs pointed toward a bipartisan agreement on a grand compromise that could be accepted by all sides and signed into law by the weekend. It was intended to pump billions of dollars into the financial system, restoring liquidity and keeping credit flowing to businesses and consumers.

“We’re in a serious economic crisis,” Mr. Bush told reporters as the meeting began shortly before 4 p.m. in the Cabinet Room, adding, “My hope is we can reach an agreement very shortly.”

But once the doors closed, the smooth-talking House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, surprised many in the room by declaring that his caucus could not support the plan to allow the government to buy distressed mortgage assets from ailing financial companies.

I Highly Recommend You Read the Rest as It Gets More Absurd

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Response to Marleen S. Barr's "Grizzly Gidget Goes to the Whitehouse"

(This is a response to Marleen S. Barr's Grizzly Gidget Goes to the Whitehouse at Partial Observer)

Marleen,

I agree Palin's religious views/associations are threatening to open-minded progressives, that she "could" be worse than Bush (as difficult as that may be to imagine), and that she most likely wouldn't mind instituting a theocracy that would resemble The Handmaid's Tale.

However, I must object to some of your equally outlandish questions in your commentary:

"Has the United States become anti-intellectual to the extent that no one emphasizes that Obama's Columbia University BA and his degree from Harvard Law School are more prestigious than Palin's graduation from the University of Idaho?"

Is this how intelligent people judge the quality/character of a person these days. Oh, you went to Columbia, you must be better than that hick Bob that went to U of Idaho.

"no serious person names her sons Track and Trig."

This reminded me of a reactionary, soon-to-retire professor who did the convocation for new PhD students at Illinois State University when I started my degree there. He told us that any person who

1) had a tatoo/piercing that was visible 2) put a political sign in their yard or on their car 3) or named their kids with strange confusing names

was not worthy of any intelligent person's respect.

"Michael Jackson can name is child Blanket and Frank Zappa can name his child Dweezle. But someone who wants to command respect does not do so by naming her sons Track and Trig."

Actually, I think Frank Zappa was a brilliant musician, an intelligent critic, and was one of the most impressive speakers I ever saw address a congressional hearing (he was called before congress as an expert witness to testify about the proposal to regulate the content of the music industry). His naming his kids Dweezil and Moon Unit does nothing to take away from that. You probably also didn't like Funkadelic/Parliament because they mention "poo" in their lyrics, which is sad because they are also brilliant, intelligent musicians. You demonstrate a serious gap in your knowledge in regards to the purpose of challenging social standards and conventions (I'm not trying to say Palin is doing this, far from it, but your equating Zappa with Jackson/Palin is ridiculous). You come off somewhat reactionary along the lines of the reactionary conservative pundits and politicians Zappa debated in the 80s.

"Teddy Roosevelt's hunting penchant aside, I just cannot abide someone who has a stuffed bear corpse in her office. A poor dead bear positioned as an office decoration smacks of The Beverly Hillbillies protagonist Granny Clampett inviting folks to eat vittles and swim in the cement pond."

Why do you feel it necessary to engage the gross stereotype of the Beverly Hillbillies (perceived by some as offensively negative on the level of ethnic slurs)? Ironically, the stories always prove in-the-end that they are much more intelligent than the so-called intellectuals who make fun of them. Perhaps you might not want to engage with this cultural stereotype, because, on one hand, you offend many progressive people who have grown up in the Appalachian region, and, on the other hand, you speak to the reactionary people who think that those same people are country bumpkins (do you think this?).

Please do not think that these are PC rantings, instead I seek justifiable critiques of this candidate that are supported by legitimate critiques of her inadequate qualifications and her dangerous beliefs.

Only forty more days (approximately)
----------------------------------------------

This was originally a response written for the magazine Partial Observer after Marleen Barr posted a link to her commentary on the SFRA-List Serv. It was also sent to the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) listserv where Marleen Barr originally forwarded the link to her commentary. It caused a series of arguments on the list and the person who wrote the above response has been barred from posting to the list. The pushing point came when it was pointed out that many younger members and non-members are afraid to voice their opinions because of professional retaliation and/or they will be treated as if their opinions do not matter. So far, SFRA has not addressed this issue and senior-members seem to believe that it is not worthy of discussion. Currently some SFRA members are discussing whether to bar all non-members from discussions on the list-serv in order to prevent critiques of SFRA members. We are disappointed that a supposedly intellectual/critical community is afraid to engage in open dialogue and that some of their members fear direct critiques of their statements/writings. We call on the SFRA to continue to keep their listserv open in the interest of open intellectual discussion and to address the fear/concerns of their junior members.
----------------------------------------------------
Marleen Barr had someone else make this statement for her on the SFRA listserv:

I have been talking to Marleen off list and she has convinced me that it was not her intent to criticize rural or working class people, that her satire was aimed at Sarah Palin, not at the people she comes from.


Our response (we are not currently allowed to post on listserv):

Since when is it OK to negatively stereotype a group of people and then simply dismiss the legitimate (and angry) critique with a I didn't "intend" to do it (and through someone else?)???

How about we frame it so you might understand. A man is at a party and he tells a joke about the business world that also engages demeaning stereotypes of women as helpless/inadequate/naive. The woman next to him is offended and he dismisses her critique with a statement that he didn't really "intend" to criticize women, he is telling a joke about the business world. Is that OK?

Mark Achbar's The Corporation Available for Free Online

(An essential documentary for these economically troubled times--it is also available in Bluegrass Community and Technical College's library.)

‘The Corporation’ Released for Free on BitTorrent



The award winning Canadian documentary ‘The Corporation’ has been released on BitTorrent for free. Filmmaker Mark Achbar just released an updated “official” torrent of it. Everyone is free to download, watch, discuss, and share it.


The Corporation received more than 20 awards, including an audience award at the the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. The Film gives insight into the inner workings of large and powerful corporations, and how these affect our society.

To Watch/Download The Corporation

FIPRESCI (The International Federation of Film Critics) 2008 Grand Prix Award: There Will Be Blood

FIPRESCI: The International Federation of Film Critics

Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood: No Gods, Just Monsters
By Norman Wilner



I really have just two words to say about Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood: "God" and "damn".

It's nearly three hours long, but it moves like a shot. It's a period piece that's utterly contemporary in its construction. It's a character study of a monster — two monsters, actually, locked in a perpetually hubristic battle with one another for the bragging rights to all creation.

Or at least that's where it ends up. At first, There Will Be Blood just looks like a father-son story, following an oilman named Daniel Plainview — played by Daniel Day Lewis as if he was the bastard son of John Huston in Chinatown and Mr. Burns from The Simpsons — who carts a young orphan boy from one small California town to the next, as he negotiates for the drilling rights that will make him very, very wealthy. (The boy makes a great prop; with a child at his side, Daniel looks like a family man, rather than a robber baron.)

But then we meet the other monster, a young preacher named Eli Sunday whom Daniel and his lad encounter in the tiny community of Little Boston. The achingly pious Eli — presuming himself to be a civic leader — demands an honorarium for his fundamentalist church and a say in Daniel's affairs. This, as they say, does not sit well, a rivalry that stretches out over decades, and which could easily be read as an unsettling allegory for America's perpetual conflict between commerce and faith.

Anderson established himself as a natural-born filmmaker with Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love, but There Will Be Blood is an evolutionary step beyond his previous work. As good as the earlier films are — and they are very, very good — there's a sort of shine to them. Whether it's the fluidity of the Steadicam shots in Boogie Nights, or the glistening streetscapes of Magnolia's Los Angeles, or Punch-Drunk Love's bursts of impressionistic color, they're movies that were made to be noticed; Anderson can't help drawing our attention to his accomplishments. They're somehow ... boastful.

To Read the Rest of the Appreciation



Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood: To Be and To Have
By Jorge Morales

In one scene from There Will Be Blood, oil baron Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) asks, startled as he studies a map with one of his lackeys, why there is a territory that does not belong to him. "Why isn't it mine?" he rebukes. It's not that Daniel Plainview wants to take over the land, but that he is incapable of establishing any distance between what he has and what he wants. That is the difference between greed and envy: Plainview does not covet another's property; he considers that no one has the right to possess something that he desires. One cannot feel envious if one despises or scorns the others' existence. Not only does Plainview not want what belongs to another; he does not want that person to exist. It is an even more egocentric and perverted thirst for power than that of a despotic entrepreneur who just wants to accumulate wealth. Plainview is a predator, someone who wants to trample without resistance. At some point he says something like "I don't want anyone else to be successful". The funny thing is — and here lies the great merit of the complex personality designed by Paul Thomas Anderson — that Plainview is presented early in the film as a sensible, hard-working person who is able to give and to receive affection. And it's not just a performance to fool the people he wants to swindle out of their lands, by selling his relationship with his son (who he introduces as his partner). Plainview's love is honest and intimate but, as it is later shown, not at all faithful and inalienable; it goes through crises each time his interests are at stake. If he must choose between an oil well in trouble and his ill son, he does not hesitate for a second about leaving the boy for later. In that sense, the film's title can both refer to the subterranean violence that never manifests explicitly and completely (such as Plainview's terrifying spoken threats), and to the weakness of filial bonds, which open and close up like oil wells.

To Read the Rest of the Statement

Salty Dog's Roots and Blues: Mudcrutch; Darren Watson; Ashley Davies; Louisiana Red; Kane Welch Kaplin; Fats Wah Wah; Watermelon Slim n The Workers

(Another scorchin set!)

SOLVENT
Salty Dog's Roots n Blues (Australia)

1. Mudcrutch (Scare Easy) CD 'Mudcrutch'
2. Darren Watson (Date Bait) CD 'King Size'
3. Ashley Davies (Mambo Wah Wah) CD 'Muscle Drum Music 2'
4. Louisiana Red (Red's Vision) CD 'Millennium Blues'
5. Kane Welch Kaplin (Callin You) CD 'Kane Welch Kaplin'
6. Fats Wah Wah (Pins) CD 'Fats Wah Wah'
7. Watermelon Slim N The Workers (The Bloody Burmese Blues) CD 'No Paid Holidays'
8. Matt Dwyer (Lone Star State of Mind) CD 'Who Loves Ya?'
9. Thee Shams (Can't Fight It) CD 'Please Yourself'
10. Mark May (Blues Monday) CD 'Doll Maker'
11. Fiona Boyes N Fortune Tellers (Chicken Wants Corn) CD 'Lucky 13'
12. Mary Guthier (Your Sister Cried) CD 'Mercy Now'
13. Jakob Dylan (Will It Grow) CD 'Seeing Things'
14. Chris Whitley N Bastard Club (All Beauty Taken From You In This Life Remains Forever) CD 'Reiter In'
15. Abbie Cardwell (I Miss The Friend) CD 'By Hook Or By Crook'
16. Buddy Guy N Derek Trucks (Skin Deep) CD 'Skin Deep'
17. Guy Davis (Back Door Man) CD 'Chocolate To The Bone'
18. Little Barrie (Burned Out) CD 'We Are Little Barrie'
19. Kara Grainger (Cannot Be Denied) CD 'Grand and Green River'
20. Glen Terry (Talk To Me Darlin) CD 'Soul Searchin'
21. Kid Ramos (Strollin With Bone Part 1) CD 'West Coast House Party'
22. G. Love (Two Birds) CD 'The Hustle'
23. Sara Stoner (Won't Give In) CD 'She Will Have Her Way'

Listen to the Show

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Making Movies

Making Movies
To the Best of Our Knowledge (Wisconsin Public Radio)

SEGMENT 1:



David Mamet has written Tony Award winning plays like "Glengary Glen Ross" and Oscar nominated screenplays, including "Wag the Dog" and "The Verdict." He's just written a book about his experiences in Hollywood, called "Bambi Versus Godzilla." Mamet talks with Steve Paulson and says the secret to writing a successful screenplay is to focus on what happens next. That's all the audience cares about.



SEGMENT 2:



Chris Gore is the so-called "pit bull of movie journalism," and the creator of "Film Threat" magazine. He's also the screenwriter and producer of "My Big Fat Independent Movie." He discusses with TTBOOK's Doug Gordon (the self-styled "labradoodle of movie journalism") whether or not DVD commentary tracks are as good as film school. Also, Patti DiVita is a waitress in Elkorn, Wisconsin, and what's wrong with that? She tells Jim Fleming how she was inspired to make a movie about people in the food service industry, even though she knew nothing about how to make a movie and had no backers. But "Did I Say Thousand Island?" is finished and had its premiere in Denver, Colorado.



SEGMENT 3:



Writer Scott Topper provides a commentary on the power of films on the minds of film-goers. Also, Mira Nair is an Oscar nominated, India- born film-maker who divides her time between America and the sub-continent. She is best known for her films "Mississippi Masala" and "Monsoon Wedding." Her new film is called "The Namesake" and she tells Jim Fleming it's based on a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri.



Listen to the Conversations

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Sherman Alexie; Alice Walker; V.S. Naipaul; Orhan Pamuk; Amy Tan; Toni Morrison

Writing the World
To the Best of Our Knowledge (Wisconsin Public Radio)
Host: Jim Fleming

SEGMENT 1:



Sherman Alexie has written novels, film screenplays and a short story collection. He talks with Steve Paulson about being a Native American writer. And, Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel "The Color Purple." She talks with Jim Fleming about "Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth," her collection of poems published after September 11.



SEGMENT 2:



V.S. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. Steve Paulson speaks with him about his often controversial work which contains unflattering portraits of Islam and the developing world. Steve also talks with 2006 Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk about living a secular life in an Islamic world. Pamuk's novels include "Snow," from which we hear a reading.



SEGMENT 3:



Amy Tan talks with Anne Srainchamps and recalls how her mother used to believe the spirits of their ancestors dwelled inside the computer. How else could Amy know all the family secrets? Also, Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in 1993. Her novels include "Sula," "Song of Solomon," and "Love." She talks with Steve Paulson about the unintended consequences of the Civil Rights movement.



To Listen to the Conversations

Register to Vote!

(Courtesy of Barbara Hoskins)

Reminder that the deadline to register to vote is October 6th! To register in Fayette County


or State Board of Elections

Bluegrass Energy Expo: October 25 (10-6) and October 26 (noon-6) at Heritage Hall, Lexington

Bluegrass Energy Expo
October 25 (10-6) and October 26 (noon-6) at Heritage Hall, Lexington

To sign-up as a volunteer, email Matt Kramer at matthew dot kramer @ uky dot edu and let him know what times you are available and what activity you prefer. Please reply by October 11th so we can set the schedule and get a confirmation email out to everyone. We will do our best to schedule everyone for their preferred activity. To learn more about the Expo, visit Bluegrass Energy Expo
Volunteer activity descriptions:

• Set-up (Friday and Saturday am): These shifts will assist will the various tasks associated with setting up educational exhibits, workshops, and kids area.

• Workshops: Assist workshop coordinators with logistics and details of presenting the workshops. There are four rooms where workshops are being held. Volunteers will need to be in the room 10 minutes before the first workshop of the day to help presenters get the projector and laptop set-up. There will be water bottles at the volunteer table, keep a couple of these to offer to presenters. You will also help keep the workshops on schedule by letting presenters know how much time they have remaining.

• Kids’ Area:
Assist Kids Expo coordinator Kim Nicholson with a wide variety of activities in the kids area of the expo.

• Silent Auction Table:
Vendors are donating items to a silent auction that will generate funds for next year's expo. Volunteers in this area will report to Ed Sweeney and will assist him with all tasks associated with the silent auction.

• Check-in Tables and Surveys
There will be three entrances to the expo area. At each entrance we will have tables to greet attendees. They can sign-up upon arrival for chances to win door prizes and we will be tracking attendance. As people leave we will have an exit survey that we would like them to complete. Please ask all exiting attendees to fill out the survey.

James s. Henry: Socialism for Bankers, Savage Capitalism for Everyone Else?

Socialism for Bankers, Savage Capitalism for Everyone Else?
By James S. Henry
The Nation

Ladies and gentlemen: pardon my intemperance, but it is time for some moral outrage and perhaps a little good old-fashioned class warfare as well--in the sense of a return to seriously progressive taxation and equity returns for public investments. After all, as this week's proposed record-setting Wall Street bailout with taxpayer money demonstrates once again, those in charge of running this country have no problem whatsoever waging "class warfare" against the rest of us--the middle classes, workers and the poor--whenever it suits their interests.

At a time when millions of Americans are facing bankruptcy and the risk of losing their homes without any help whatsoever from Washington, DC; the CEOs and speculators who created this mess; and the top 1 percent of households that owns at least 34 percent of financial stocks, along with the next 9 percent that owns 51 percent of them, have teamed up with their "bipartisan" cronies in Congress, the US Treasury and the White House to stick us with this huge bill for this bailout, plus all of the risk, plus none of the upside.

Upon close inspection, the Treasury's proposal appears to be nothing more than a bum's rush for unlimited power over hundreds of billions, to be distributed at Secretary Paulson's discretion behind closed doors and without adequate Congressional oversight.

This time they have gone too far.

Some kind of bailout may indeed be needed from the standpoint of managing the so-called "systemic risk" to our financial system. However, as discussed below, the Paulson does not really tackle the true problem head on. This is the fact that many financial institutions, including hundreds of banks, are under-capitalized, and need more liquidity (net worth), not just fewer bad assets. To provide that, the plan needs to work both sides of the balance sheet, providing more capital. If private markets can't deliver and we need to inject public capital into the financial services industry, fine. But it should only be in return for equity rewards that compensate the public for the huge risks it is bearing.

Call that "socialism," if you wish--I think we are already well beyond that point. To me, in combination with increased progressive taxation, it should really be viewed only the right way to provide fair compensation, and participation in any "upside," if there is one.

Absent such measures, progressives certainly have much less reason to support this plan. After all, the increased public debt burdens that it would impose are so huge that they could easily jeopardize our ability to pay for the entire economic reform program that millions of ordinary citizens (across both major parties) have been demanding.

From this angle, the Paulson program, in effect, is a cleverly designed program to "nationalize" hundreds of billions of dollars in risky, lousy assets of private financial institutions, without acquiring any public stake in the private institutions themselves, and without raising any tax revenue from the class of people who not only created this mess but would now be bailed out.

Any mega-bailout should come at a high price for those who made it necessary. We must make sure that most of the butcher's bill is paid by the tiny elite that was responsible for creating this mess in the first place.

To Read the Rest of the Article

The Nation: Ten National Security Myths

The Nation has an article in the next issue on the Ten National Security Myths and a teaching guide for using the magazine in the classroom. Below are the ten myths, the descriptions can be found in the link above.

Myth 1. It's a dangerous world. We face an array of serious national security threats that require an experienced Commander in Chief.

Myth 2. The surge has worked. To withdraw from Iraq now would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and embolden Islamic extremists.

Myth 3. We cannot allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists. We therefore must redouble our military efforts there or face another terrorist attack.

Myth 4. Iran is responsible for much of the violence against US forces in Iraq; by using its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, it threatens to dominate the Middle East.

Myth 5. To talk to the leaders of "rogue" states like Iran and Cuba without conditions legitimizes their position and weakens American leverage.

Myth 6. Vladimir Putin's Russia is an authoritarian state pursuing an anti-American agenda aimed at reconstituting the Soviet Union in the form of a new Russian empire.

Myth 7. Because the American military is stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must increase the size of our conventional armed forces.

Myth 8. A League of Democracies would create a global coalition for peace and freedom and would enable the United States and its democratic allies to intervene to solve humanitarian and other crises when the UN Security Council is paralyzed.

Myth 9. Globalization has strengthened the economy, and we cannot avoid it by hiding behind protectionist walls.

Myth 10. The world needs American leadership.

Jazz on the Porch this Sunday, September 28 from 2:00-4:00 at Talon Winery

(Message from Teresa Tope and Bluegrass Community and Technical College's Arts on Campus committee)

Jazz on the Porch this Sunday, September 28 from 2:00-4:00 at Talon Winery and Vineyards. Bring a picnic, your family and friends and spend the afternoon listening to smooth jazz. Children are welcome, and the event is free and open to the public.

Please see the attachment for details. Hope to see you there.

- Teresa-

Speaking of Faith: Stress and the Balance Within

Stress and the Balance Within
Speaking of Faith (American Public Media)
Host: Krista Tippett

The American experience of stress has spawned a multi-billion dollar self-help industry. Wary of this, Esther Sternberg says that, until recently, modern science did not have the tools or the inclination to take emotional stress seriously. She shares fascinating new scientific insight into the molecular level of the mind-body connection.

To Listen to the Program and Access Resources

Live on Fair Game: Steve Reid

Steve Reid
Live on Fair Game
Host: Faith Salie



Steve Reid is an extraordinarily versatile drummer who has performed with some of the most legendary musicians of the 20th century - James Brown, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Fela Kuti, and Jimi Hendrix.



Listen to the Interview

Daxaar.

Quellcrist Falconer: "Is it a wolf I hear...?"

Is it a wolf I hear,
Howling his lonely communion
With the unpiloted stars,
Or merely the self-importance and servitude
In the bark of a dog?

How many millennia did it take,
Twisting and torturing
The pride from the one
To make a tool, The other?

...

And how do we measure the distance from spirit to spirit?
And who do we find to blame?


Kadmin and Takesi quoting the revolutionary poet Quellcrist Falconer in the novel
Altered Carbon (2002) by Richard K. Morgan

Studio 360: Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure; Depicting Abu Ghraib

(To learn more about this leading documentary filmmaker visit his website. The film will be released on October 14, 2008.)

Studio 360 (WNYC)
Host: Kurt Andersen



Errol Morris
In his new film, “Standard Operating Procedure,” filmmaker Errol Morris explores one of the darkest chapters of recent history: the shocking photos that emerged from the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib four years ago. He explains to Kurt why those photos were not just documents of prisoner treatment, but staged tableaux.



Depicting Abu Ghraib
Studio 360’s Lu Olkowski talked to artists (including painter Fernando Botero), writers, and a former soldier who have spent years trying to figure out what the Abu Ghraib photos really mean, and how seeing torture changes us.



To Listen to the Episodes

Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards: John Huston's Maltese Falcon (1941)

John Huston's Maltese Falcon (1941)
by Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards
Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir



This episode examines the classic "The Maltese Falcon." Based on a book by Dashiell Hammett, starring Humphrey Bogart, directed by John Huston, it is generally considered the first "film noir." As Richard and Shannon examine this landmark film, they discuss film noir's debt to hard-boiled fiction, Huston's inventive camerawork as the beginning of a visual style, and Bogart's portrayal as the prototype for noir tough guys.

To Listen to the Discussion

Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards: Robert Polonsky's Force of Evil (1948)

Robert Polonsky's Force of Evil (1948)
by Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards
Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir



FORCE OF EVIL shows us that small-time graft is less dangerous than big-time rackets that have the law, the trust of the public, and the appearance of respectability on their side. Ultimately, the crime is the system itself, and the very philosophical underpinnings of capitalism are liable. And while Abraham Polonsky's courage in addressing these themes is remarkable, the degree of craft he exhibits as a rookie director is nothing short of astonishing. With Ira Wolfert, he co-authors a script so rich in its ability to expose the poverty of our dreams, and so stylized and impossibly catchy in its dialogue, that it can't help but feel more real than the real. With this script, and uncommon directing talent, Polonsky coaxes career-best performance from John Garfield, Thomas Gomez, and Marie Windsor. And with Director of Photography George Barnes, Polonsky frames some of the most beautiful and narratively rich shots in film history. FORCE OF EVIL may be the noir that most perfectly captures the ambivalent and fearful relationship Americans had to the great cities and great institutions that were the sclerotic backbone of the country after WWII.

To Listen to the Discussion

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains (USA: Lou Adler, 1982)

by Michael Benton



A tale of rock n roll corruption and media hype. It stars Diane Lane, Laura Dern and Ray Winstone in the beginning of their careers, punk legends Paul Simenon (The Clash), Paul Jones and Steve Cook (Sex Pistols) as, of course, British punks, and a strange turn by Fee Waybill (The Tubes) as a disgusting, washed-up American rock legend (the narrative includes Winstone/Simenon/Jones/Cook as a pissed-off British punk band stuck in mid-America). I spent most of the 80s outside of mainstream culture and this film reminds me why. The Stains (as voiced by Diane Lane's character) start off with a sort of feminist/punk critique of American culture and as they get popular the R n R machine paired with opportunistic news journalists aim to co-opt their image for their own purposes.

Corny, nostalgia... 3 stars (very worth it though if you are a fan of these punk legends and realize how quickly their punk rage was co-opted by the RnR machine).

IMDB facts about the film

Register to Vote at Bluegrass Community and Technical College September 25th

(Do not hesitate, October 6th is the last day)

The League of Women Voters
September 25, 2008
Oswald Building Lobby
11am - 1pm

Glitter and Doom: Tom Waits in Concert At Atlanta's Fox Theater

Press Conference for the Tour :)



Glitter And Doom: Tom Waits In Concert
Hear A Stunning Performance, Recorded At Atlanta's Fox Theater
By Robin Hilton
NPR



A trip through the world of Tom Waits can be disorienting. His ramshackle story-songs, with their creaky instrumentation and dusty poetry, usually leave listeners with more questions than answers, and his persona outside of his music revolves around a playful but guarded mix of fiction and reality.

To promote his latest tour, Waits offered the media an extended print interview — one he conducted with himself — and a taped press conference, featuring Waits seated at a table of microphones, answering questions amid bursts of flashbulbs and murmurs. Only at the end, as Waits donned a bowler hat and exited, did viewers see that the room was empty and the sound of the press corps was merely a record playing.

Both interviews were filled with more wildly imaginative stories and questionable trivia (was a sunken Japanese freighter really raised with 20 million ping-pong balls?) than actual details of the tour. But that's the allure of Tom Waits: It's hard to know what to believe, but the world he creates is enchanting enough to get lost in.

Here's what we do know: Waits has dubbed his summer 2008 tour "Glitter and Doom." It's a trek through the lower half of the U.S. he describes as "PEHDTSCKJMBA" (pronounced "pess-kuh-JUM-buh), an acronym for each of the tour's stops: Phoenix, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Tulsa, St. Louis, Columbus, Knoxville, Jacksonville, Mobile, Birmingham and Atlanta.

To Read the Rest of the Intro and Listen to the Concert!

Radiohead: Live in Concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Aug. 28, 2008

Radiohead: Live in Concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Aug. 28, 2008
Live in Concert from All Songs Considered (NPR)
Host: Bob Bollen



When I think of the best concerts I've seen, I always flash back to Pink Floyd in early 1972. Almost two years before the band released what would become Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd performed the entire suite of songs to the amazement of us all. We'd never heard any of the songs (then titled Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics), and with its quadrophonic sound, it remains the most massive musical surprise I've experienced.

Radiohead's show at the Santa Barbara Bowl came as close for musicianship and creativity as any show I've seen in 37 years. I've seen a lot of shows.

These guys write great songs, and sometimes you can even sing along to them, but what they do better than any band is create a sonic adventure — a soundscape which, at its best, stretches time and allows the mind to wander and rejuvenate. I think of it as resetting the synapses. Creativity breeds creativity. When the music was over, I felt unboxed and changed and pretty darn happy. Drugs are overrated; music is underrated.

Back in February, All Songs Considered invited Radiohead's Thom Yorke on the show to discuss the music he loved. He was happy to talk about someone else's music, after months of being asked about the record business and the decision he and his band made to release In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-want download. So Thom Yorke played DJ for us, turned me and others on to new music, and talked about creating In Rainbows. We had a good chat, but our meeting was long-distance; he was in Oxford and I was in Washington, D.C. We made mention of meeting when the band came to America for its tour.

So after the show, my guide Laura Eldeiry of the band's PR firm, Nasty Little Man, told me to wait around for Thom; that he'd come around and we'd have that face-to-face we'd talked about.

I've never understood how someone can perform and create for more than two hours and come down to earth enough to carry on a conversation. I could never do it. When Thom finally arrived, he said he was blasted (tired, that is), but he looked happy and satisfied. We talked a bit of politics; Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention took place in tandem with the Radiohead show.

I told him how unusual I thought it was to have a thinker like Barack Obama running for president; Yorke talked about corruption and lobbying in British politics, and said to be careful about pinning all of your hopes on one person.

Later, on the car ride home, I thought of the words to "Videotape" from Radiohead's In Rainbows: "Today has been the most perfect day I have ever seen."

To Listen to the Concert

Jane Mayer: The Dark Side/Extraordinary Rendition/Outsourcing Torture; Canadian Citizen Imprisoned By U.S. Speaks Out

Excerpt from: The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War On Terror Turned Into a War On American Ideals By Jane Mayer (Doubleday: 2008)



America should go "not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. . . . She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit." — John Quincy Adams, An Address . . . Celebrating the Anniversary of Independence, at the City of Washington on the Fourth of July 1821


...

From the start of the administration, Cheney had confidently assumed the national security portfolio for a president with virtually no experience in the area. But Al Qaeda's attacks exposed a gaping shortcoming in the Vice President's thinking. The Soviet Union, whose threat had preoccupied Cheney and other doomsday planners in the 1980s, was gone. In its place another, more intangible danger had arisen. No one in the Bush Administration, including Cheney, had had the foresight or imagination to see Bin Laden's plot unfolding.

With the notable exception of Richard Clarke, the long-serving head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and a few counterterrorism experts at the CIA and FBI, terrorism hadn't ranked anywhere near the top of the new administration's national security concerns. Later, a number of top officials, including CIA Director George Tenet, would offer evidence that they had been keenly focused on the threat from Bin Laden before the attacks. If so, none succeeded in getting the President and Vice President's attention.

When Al Qaeda struck, Cheney and the other hardliners who had spent decades militating for a more martial and aggressive foreign policy were caught off guard. Frozen in a Cold War-era mind-set, they overlooked threats posed not by great armed nation-states, but by small, lithe rogue groups waging "asymmetric" warfare.

The Bush White House could have demanded an instant review of how they had been so badly surprised, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the results would not have been flattering. But instead of trying to learn from what had essentially been a colossal bureaucratic failure, combined with inattention and a lack of political will at the top, the Bush White House deferred the focus elsewhere.

The lesson for Bush and Cheney was that terrorists had struck at the United States because they saw the country as soft. Bush worried that the nation was too "materialistic, hedonistic," and that Bin Laden "didn't feel threatened" by it. Confronted with a new enemy and their own intelligence failure, he and Cheney turned to some familiar conservative nostrums that had preoccupied the far right wing of the Republican Party since the Watergate era. There was too much international law, too many civil liberties, too many constraints on the President's war powers, too many rights for defendants, and too many rules against lethal covert actions. There was also too much openness and too much meddling by Congress and the press.

Cheney in particular had been chafing against the post-Watergate curbs that had been imposed on the president's powers since the mid1970s, when he had served as Gerald Ford's chief of staff. As Vice President, Cheney had already begun to strengthen the power of the presidency by aggressively asserting executive privilege, most notably on his secrecy-enshrouded energy task force. He'd told Bush, who later repeated the line, that if nothing else they must leave the office stronger than they found it. Now Cheney saw the terrorist threat in such catastrophic terms that his end, saving America from possible extinction, justified virtually any means. As Wilkerson, Powell's former

Chief of Staff who went on to teach National Security Affairs at George Washington University, put it, "He had a single-minded objective in black and white, that American security was paramount to everything else. He thought that perfect security was achievable. I can't fault the man for wanting to keep America safe. But he was willing to corrupt the whole country to save it."

Whether the White House fears were rational will long be debated. But it was in this feverish atmosphere that a new system of law was devised to vanquish what Bush described as a new kind of enemy in "a war unlike any other."

Beginning almost immediately after September 11, 2001, Cheney saw to it that some of the sharpest and best-trained lawyers in the country, working in secret in the White House and the United States Department of Justice, came up with legal justifications for a vast expansion of the government's power in waging war on terror.

As part of that process, for the first time in its history, the United States sanctioned government officials to physically and psychologically torment U.S.-held captives, making torture the official law of the land in all but name.

The lawyers also authorized other previously illegal practices, including the secret capture and indefinite detention of suspects without charges. Simply by designating the suspects "enemy combatants," the President could suspend the ancient writ of habeas corpus that guarantees a person the right to challenge his imprisonment in front of a fair and independent authority. Once in U.S. custody, the President's lawyers said, these suspects could be held incommunicado, hidden from their families and international monitors such as the Red Cross, and subjected to unending abuse, so long as it didn't meet the lawyers' own definition of torture. And they could be held for the duration of the war against terrorism, a struggle in which victory had never been clearly defined.

Few would argue against safeguarding the nation. But in the judgment of at least one of the country's most distinguished presidential scholars, the legal steps taken by the Bush Administration in its war against terrorism were a quantum leap beyond earlier blots on the country's history and traditions: more significant than John Adams's

Alien and Sedition Acts, than Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, than the imprisonment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Collectively, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. argued, the Bush Administration's extralegal counterterrorism program presented the most dramatic, sustained, and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history.

Over a lunch at a genteel Upper East Side French restaurant in Manhattan in 2006, the year before he died, Schlesinger, a liberal Democrat but also an admirer of muscular foreign policy, chose his words slowly and carefully. When asked what he thought of President Bush's policy on torture, he peered over his glasses and paused. Schlesinger's The Imperial Presidency had described Richard Nixon as pushing the outer limits of abuse of presidential power. Later, his book The Cycles of American History had placed these excesses in a continuum of pendulum swings. With his trademark bow tie askew,

Schlesinger considered, and finally said, "No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world — ever."

While there was nothing new about torture, its authorization by Bush Administration lawyers represented a dramatic break with the past. As early as the Revolutionary War, General George Washington vowed that, unlike the British, who tortured enemy captives, this new country in the New World would distinguish itself by its humanity. In fighting to liberate the world from Communism, Fascism, and Nazism, and working to ameliorate global ignorance and poverty, America had done more than any nation on earth to abolish torture and other violations of human rights.

Yet, almost precisely on the sixtieth anniversary of the famous war crimes tribunal's judgment in Nuremberg, which established what seemed like an immutable principle, that legalisms and technicalities could not substitute for individual moral choice and conscience, America became the first nation ever to authorize violations of the

Geneva Conventions. These international treaties, many of which were hammered out by American lawyers in the wake of the harrowing Nazi atrocities of World War II, set an absolute, minimum baseline for the humane treatment of all categories of prisoners taken in almost all manner of international conflicts. Rather than lining prisoners up in front of ditches and executing them, or exterminating them in gas chambers, or subjecting them to grueling physical hardships, all enemy prisoners — even spies and saboteurs — were from then on to be accorded some basic value simply because they were human. America had long played a special role as the world's most ardent champion of these fundamental rights; it was not just a signatory but also the custodian of the Geneva Conventions, the original signed copies of which resided in a vault at the State Department.

Any fair telling of how America came to sacrifice so many cherished values in its fight against terrorism has to acknowledge that the enemy that the Bush Administration faced on September 11, and which the country faces still, is both real and terrifying. Often, those in power have felt they simply had no good choices. But this country has in the past faced other mortal enemies, equally if not more threatening, without endangering its moral authority by resorting to state-sanctioned torture. Other democratic nations, meanwhile, have grappled with similar if not greater threats from terrorism without undercutting their values and laws.

But to understand the Bush Administration's self-destructive response to September 11, one has to look particularly to Cheney, the doomsday expert and unapologetic advocate of expanding presidential power. Appearing on Meet the Press on the first Sunday after the attacks, Cheney gave a memorable description of how the administration viewed the continuing threat and how it planned to respond.

"We'll have to work sort of the dark side, if you will," Cheney explained in his characteristically quiet and reassuring voice. "We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies — if we are going to be successful. That's the world these folks operate in. And, uh, so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal basically, to achieve our objectives."

Soon afterward, Cheney disappeared from public view. But his influence had already begun to shape all that followed.

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