Tom Tomorrow in Seattle

Hey all you fans of This Modern World! You will be pleased to hear that the keynote speaker at the ACLU of Washington’s 2005 Bill of Rights Celebration Dinner will be Dan Perkins, a.k.a. Tom Tomorrow. The event will be on Saturday, November 19th at the Red Lion Hotel in Seattle.

I received a notice in the mail about this yesterday. I checked the ACLU-WA website for a link today, but there isn’t anything on their site yet. I will keep checking and post a link when it shows up.

Remembering James Dean

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

Fifty years ago today, James Dean was killed in a car accident near Cholame, California.

Californians commemorated his death by renaming the intersection of Highways 46 and 41 where he died the “James Dean Memorial Junction” and placed a memorial plaque there.

What should you do? I don’t know… maybe just go light up a cigarette and try to look cool, then go watch your favorite James Dean movie.

Brown Blames Horse’s Ass

I read this story about Michael Brown’s “blame game” in this morning’s Seattle Times

“Ironically, it started with an organization called horsesass.org,” Brown told Congress, “that on some blog published a false and, frankly, in my opinion, defamatory statement that the media just continued to repeat over and over. … I guess it’s the media’s job. But I don’t like it. I think it’s false. It came at the wrong time. And I think it led potentially to me being pulled out of Louisiana because it made me somewhat ineffective.”

So there you have it. The man heading the response to the biggest natural disaster in the history of the most powerful country in the world was neutered by a Web site named for the buttocks of a horse.

Or really for Tim Eyman.

So was the Horsesass story about him getting fired by the International Arabian Horse Association false? Was it defamatory? No.

And he says the story made him “somewhat ineffective.” That’s right, the head of FEMA was crushed by a true story about his previous employment. Now that’s what I call a strong leader.

Horse’s Ass indeed…

Sponge Bob

During the second half of No Direction Home one of the musicians featured throughout the film (I think it was Dave Van Ronk, but I’m not certain…) said something about how Bob Dylan had absorbed, like a sponge, all the music and styles that he was exposed to and then invented himself as something new. The movie documented Dylan’s metamorphosis into a near god-like pop star with interviews, photos, movie clips, and archival footage of performers that influenced him.

During the first half of the show, there were some great clips of old folk and blues artists like Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Billie Holiday, and Odetta, who scared me (in a good way.) But the one clip that I thought was the most interesting was of a freaky old guy sitting to play a guitar on a table with a few people standing around listening to him as he sang with “Lon Chaney” like facial expressions in an operatic folk style. I had no idea who the guy was until today when I visited this site (Thanks Reid!) and found out it was John Jacob Niles.

The weirdest scenes in the second half of the film are the Dylan press conferences. Do pop stars have press conferences these days? I can’t recall any recent interviews with pop stars that were even remotely like what I saw in the film: Dylan sitting at a table in front of dozens of reporters asking him very stupid questions about the meaning of his shirt or why he sings.

Anyway… It was a great documentary of Dylan’s life and career through the mid sixties, and I must highly recommend it to everybody-Dylan fan or not.

Read Bob, Listen to Bob, Watch Bob

The Common Dreams site has posted an excerpt from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Volume One. It’s from the section of the book about his time spent in New Orleans recording Oh Mercy with Daniel Lanois. Here’s a bit of the excerpt.

There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There’s a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselves through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem. Gardens full of pansies, pink petunias, opiates. Flower-bedecked shrines, white myrtles, bougainvillea and purple oleander stimulate your senses, make you feel cool and clear inside.

Read the whole thing here or, better yet, read the whole book.

Listen to Oh Mercy today if you’ve got it. If you don’t have it, well then you’d best go buy yourself a copy today.

Watch the Martin Scorsese film, No Direction Home, that is airing on PBS Monday and Tuesday night.

Deaf Vision

We’ll get the debris removed, get the water up and running and get the bridges rebuilt. But what you need to do is develop a blueprint for your own future. We look forward to hearing your vision so we can more better do our job.

Dubya — Gulfport, Mississippi, Sep. 20, 2005

Well no wonder he lacks the vision thing. He can’t hear it, and he speaks like a child.

That Vision Thing is Sorely Lacking

There’s a great article at Common Dreams today by Jeremy Rifkin about Bush’s lack of vision and leadership. Here’s an excerpt:

If I could get the ear of George Bush, for just a moment, I would say: “Mr President, if you had looked deeply into the eye of the storm, what you would have seen was the future demise of the planet we live on.” It’s time to tell the American people and the world the real lesson of Katrina: that we need to mobilize the talent, energy and resolve of the American people, and of people everywhere, to wean ourselves off the oil spigot that’s threatening the future of every creature on earth.

President Bush, spare us your homilies about American determination to “weather the storm and persevere”. Tell us the truth about why Katrina and Rita really happened. Ask us to consider a change of heart about our profligate, energy-consuming lifestyles. Call on us to conserve our existing fossil-fuel reserves and make sacrifices. Provide us with a game plan to move America to a new, sustainable energy future based on renewable sources of energy and hydrogen power. We’re waiting.

We’ll be waiting a long time, but not because we wouldn’t make sacrifices if asked, and not because we aren’t capable. We’ll be waiting a long time because our leader can’t see through his oil-smeared glasses to identify the problem. He has no vision of a post-petroleum based economy so, from his view, sacrifices are not necessary to develop new sources of energy. It’s no different than not asking us to sacrifice some money through higher taxes to pay for his war or rebuild a devastated city. Whaaa Whaaaa Whaaaaaa… What do you expect from a guy who was handed everything throughout his life? He doesn’t even know what sacrifice is.

Every time I read stuff like this I can’t help but thing how much better off this country would be if Al Gore took the oath of office in January 2001 instead of Bush. Gore would have urged all Americans to conserve energy and would have pushed for development of alternative energy sources. Take a look at this October 2000 comparison of their views on natural resources, energy, and the environment and see for yourself.

We are five years behind and have a lot of catching up to do.

“KISS MY EAR!”

Representative Don Young, Republican from Alaska

That’s a direct quote from Rep. Don Young, Republican-Alaska. This he said when asked by a Fairbanks reporter whether he’d return the $223 million he had “earmarked” for a bridge near Ketchikan.

Don Young is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. For more information about this clown’s elephantine bridge to nowhere, visit Bob Harris’s site. He covers it quite well and even has a map of the proposed bridge.

The following is from a Washington Post story about how Bush’s Gulf Recovery plans are causing political problems for members of his party.

The White House is aware of the growing political problem and has moved on several fronts to pacify Republicans — with decidedly uneven results. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, in a speech yesterday, said the White House will be forced to put several plans on the “back burner,” including changes to the estate tax and permanently extending first-term tax cuts. “It’s taken over the national agenda, and I think it will for a while,” he said.

This prompted protests from one of the White House’s closest allies, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who said waiting on taxes was unacceptable. But White House officials said Snow was accurately reflecting Bush’s intentions.

(snip)

In one of the most unexpected proposals to cover the reconstruction costs, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) raised the possibility of raising taxes. Other Republicans say that while a tax increase is unlikely, Bush tax cuts that are scheduled to take effect in coming years may be in serious jeopardy.

Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) said he will even comb through the Pentagon budget for cost savings. “Many of us think that we need to step back and look at what we’re doing and reevaluate it,” Voinovich said. But he added that “someone has to look at the big picture” — and that someone should be the president. “The vision is missing,” Voinovich said.

That’s a pretty strong statement about Bush’s lack of vision, and it’s coming from a Republican. Maybe Bush’s hold on his party is loosening, and those with a little common sense will join with Democrats to fight against Bush’s foolish agenda. Maybe start with getting out of Iraq…

Media Accountability Day

Yesterday Molly Ivins proposed that our country adopt a “Media Accountability Day” and then reported on “Project Censored’s annual release of the 10 biggest stories ignored or under-covered by mainstream media.” Coming in at numbers one and two are:

No. 1: Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government.

This administration has drastically changed the rules on Freedom of Information Act requests; has changed laws that restrict public access to federal records, mostly by expanding the national security classification; operates in secret under the Patriot Act; and consistently refuses to provide information to Congress and the Government Accountability Office. The cumulative total effect is horrifying.

No. 2: Iraq Coverage – faulted for failure to report the results of the two battles for Fallujah and the civilian death toll. The civilian death toll story is hard to get — accurate numbers nowhere — but the humanitarian disaster in Fallujah comes with impeccable sources.

Last week I received an email from my uncle who is visiting Sweden. He commented on how the news reports in Sweden were so different from the U.S. News reports. He said that one big difference is that they actually report on the number of civilian casualties in Iraq, and he sent me this graph:

Bomb Attacks with Casualties in Iraq

Translation:

Bomb attacks with casualties in Iraq.

Iraq Index calculates that between 13,800 and 24,300 civilians have been killed since the Iraqi government was formed in March 2003. The total number of casualties due to the widespread criminal activity lies between 33,100 and 67,200.

Our media is not officially “censored” but it seems that most of the mainstream outlets have agreed to follow the Bush Administration’s guidelines about not reporting civilian casualties and not showing photos of the dead-military or civilian.

To see a list of the other eight stories ignored by the media, read Molly Ivins’ column.

The British Insurgency

Two British Marines were pulled over today by Iraqi police. The individuals, dressed in traditional Iraqi attire. Upon being pulled over, the undercover Marines opened fire on the police, only to be apprehended. Turns out that they were doing there best to get away from the police because their car was loaded with explosives.

So, the question of the day is why were two British Marines, dressed as locals, driving a civilian car loaded with explosives?

Well, we’ll provably never get a good answer on this, as the British military stormed the jail and freed the two Marines.